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Shake the silence back but it's too late (and it haunts you, and it haunts you)

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“I knew.”

“Excuse me?”

Emma sighs and chews at her lip, focusing on the feeling of Audrey lying next to her. They haven’t really talked about the night Zoe died, talked about...certain... confessions. Everything was just going too fast and between being arrested and the killer revealing himself and the aftermath of more blood on their hands… well, it just hasn’t been at the TOP of Emma’s to do list. Now though, now that they’re slowly putting their shambled lives back together and trying to get shards to fit without showing too many cracks. Now, she decides, she needs to address this. Before. Before it’s too late. Unsurprisingly, having your life almost end twice makes you really appreciate life and how quickly it can change. Emma sits up and looks at Audrey; really looks at her. Memorises the contours of her face, the bags under her eyes, the pain that lies so heavily on her shoulders, her hands that are soaked in blood. Just like her own. She’s feeling the same kind of tired that Emma is feeling, Emma can see it. The kind of tired that settles into your bones and saps the strength from your limbs, the kind of tired that makes you never want to move again. The kind of tired that you feel you’ll never recover from. Emma reaches out and runs a gentle finger over Audrey’s knuckles, grazed and cut from recent events. Audrey raises an eyebrow at her but doesn’t say anything. She’s good like that. She doesn’t demand anything of Emma, just waits and supports. Emma takes a deep breath.

“I knew what I was doing to you. Back then. You… said I didn’t know I was br-”

Please, Em. Just… stop.”

Audrey’s voice sounds so weary and sad that it tilts Emma off balance for a second and now it’s her turn to wait. She feels as though vines are crawling their way across her chest as she sits patiently, watching Audrey’s face for some kind of inkling as to what she’s thinking.

“We’ve just survived another psycho murderer, Em. Another one. And both of them were my fault. Do you really want to do this now?” Audrey asks, softly, after what seems like an age. She’s propped herself up on her elbows and is looking at Emma so intently, so intimately, with so much care and love in her eyes that Emma almost wants to run away. Again.

And there it is, isn’t it?

Because she ran away. She ran. She abandoned Audrey and started this whole mess because of what? Because she was scared? Because she could see how Audrey looked at her in the Old Times and she couldn’t take it? Because she was terrified of the rock that tugged behind her navel and the breaths that gasped from her throat every time Audrey looked at her in that way that whispered I’d love you better than him? Suddenly it’s all so clear and she can’t help but laugh. It’s a deep, belly hurting laugh that makes tears prick at her eyes and Audrey looks alarmed and is frantically trying to figure out what’s wrong and Emma can’t stop because it’s just so funny to her in this moment, now that she’s finally safe and the killers are gone.

“I knew what I was doing to you. I knew how you felt and I knew I was breaking you” Emma wipes the tears from her face and drops her head, unable to look Audrey in the eye. She’s holding Audrey’s hand, when did that happen? She rubs her thumb against her soft skin and sighs in relief when her hand just tightens around Emma’s.

“What are you saying, Emma?” Audrey sounds so hurt. The words are out now and Emma can’t run, can’t abandon. Not again. Not after everything they’ve been through.

“He was right, this has always been about us. This is our story. Everything that has happened in Lakewood is because of me.” Emma laughs bitterly, “everybody who’s died, all of the pain and torture and torment. You may have brought Piper to town, but I was the one who abandoned you.”

She can see the wheels in Audrey’s head turning, the little furrow between her eyebrows as she tries to figure out where the conversation is going. Audrey never says anything though, just clenches her jaw and waits, sensing that Emma has more to say. She thinks she should feel chaos in her tired bones right now, but Emma has never been calmer.

“Audrey, all our friends are dead because I had a gay panic. Isn’t that funny?” Emma lifts a hand to brush Audrey’s hair behind her ear and smiles, as if she isn’t falling apart inside. There are a lot of If Only’s running through her mind right now but she doesn’t have the energy to deal so she just waits for Audrey’s reaction.

“It’s not all your fault, Em. At least ‘my gay panic has a body count’ is a good ice breaker?" Audrey tries to joke, her voice falling flat as she flops back to her lying down position. Emma says nothing, she doesn’t have to. Their friendship has become a lot of these, charged silences where they ignore things unsaid. Audrey gnaws at her lip and Emma’s eyes linger, watching white teeth worry at pink flesh and wondering for a second what Audrey tastes like. She can tell that the girl is debating whether to say something out loud. She’s grown far too accustomed to Audrey’s ‘Should I say this?’ face.

“Say it.”

“I shouldn’t.”

“Audrey Jensen, tell me what you’re thinking!” Emma laughs and tickles her, getting a carefree and loving laugh from Audrey that she hasn’t heard in what feels like forever. Audrey retaliates by grabbing a pillow to use as a shield and a weapon simultaneously and then it feels like they’re children again, just having fun and rolling around on a bed, having a pillow fight. Things come to a stand-still when the pillow lies forgotten on the floor and Audrey’s hands clasp firmly round Emma’s wrists, pinning her to the bed. She’s hovering over Emma, trying to not touch her too much and a blush is quickly spreading across her face and down her neck. She moves to slide off to lie next to Emma again but she’s stopped when legs tangle with hers, which surprises her a little. The air feels heavy between them and Audrey opens her mouth as if to speak but quickly closes it again, having been rendered speechless for the first time in what feels like forever. She’s unused to this, the lack of sarcasm or snarky armour. She’s fully clothed but she’s never felt barer than with Emma staring up at her through the growing tension between them. Time feels like it slows down and the million things that Emma wants to say are whisked away out of her head as she focuses on every place that Audrey is touching her; soft hands on her wrists, the sides of their knees touching, their legs tangled together. Emma was scared once, but she’s not anymore.

“Emma, I-” Audrey begins to say, finally finding her voice, but she’s swiftly cut off as Emma’s lips crash against hers. The kiss is messy and desperate, laden with words and feelings Emma has kept locked down inside and not even touched until these past few days. Their teeth clack and Emma’s hands snake up the back of Audrey’s shirt and every frantic kiss says I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Her hands pull and then Audrey is flush against her, lying on top of her, with hands at her hip and in her hair. Audrey kisses back like she’s drunk and terrified of being sober, like she’s finally found her way home, like she’s been dreaming of this moment all her life. Audrey kisses back and bites roughly at Emma’s lips and every kiss is a begged request that she’ll spend every second of her life asking if Emma lets her. Forgive me? Love me? Please?

“Emma” she feels her name mumbled against her lips but she doesn’t want to stop, talk, think. She just wants this, wants her, wants Audrey. Emma was scared before but she isn’t anymore. The rest can wait, she wants to feel whole and she wants to be selfish. She’s held this in for so long. Too long.

“Em.” She feels again, more forcefully now, and she slows her kisses down as she hears the seriousness in Audrey’s voice. Well, it was nice whilst it lasted. She lingers her lips on Audrey’s, keeping her eyes closed as she pulls away in order to savour the weight of Audrey lying on her and the feeling of her kiss-bruised lips. At least she hasn’t moved, that’s a good sign.

“Emma,” Audrey whispers, “Look at me, please.” Emma opens her eyes and looks at her childhood friend, removing a hand from Audrey’s back to gently wipe a tear from the girl’s face.

“We need to talk about this, Em. This is… you’re not…”

“Gay?” Emma offers helpfully and the ghost of a smile haunts Audrey’s lips for a second.

“No you goofball! This is... just... moving a little fast, don’t you think?” Audrey sighs and rolls so that instead of lying on top of Emma she now lying next to her. “I mean it’s barely been two weeks since… everything…” She trails off and sighs again, screwing her eyes shut as she gets ready to make her point.

“I’ve waited this long, Em. I can wait a little longer.” Her voice is quiet, as if she doesn’t want the words to leave her lips, and silence soon drifts between them. Audrey is convinced that Emma is going to tell her that she’s right, that this was all a mistake and a big misunderstanding fuelled by survivor’s guilt or pity or something along those lines. She waits. She waits, and Emma thinks. She thinks deeply about what Audrey has just said, analysing her feelings. She’s surprised to find herself a little confused because nothing has ever felt so right and good and slow in her life than kissing Audrey Jensen does. It’s as if everything she has never felt with Will and Kieran has suddenly clicked into place in her mind, as if she’s suddenly found something she never knew she was looking for, as if her heart has opened it’s eyes and whispered oh, there you are, I’ve been waiting for you. In that moment she makes her decision.

“I can’t.”

Audrey’s eyes snap open only to close again because Emma’s lips are on hers again but they’re moving slowly, sensually, gently. She wasn’t expecting this at all. Emma, without breaking their kiss, moves her body so that she's straddling Audrey’s waist rather than lying next to her and if a person could spontaneously combust from touching, Audrey probably would have. The kissing stays slow but Audrey’s hands run up and down Emma’s sides, through her hair, across her back as she tries and fails not to be a writhing, moaning mess against Emma’s lips. Emma smiles at the tiny noises Audrey is making and slips a hand up Audrey’s shirt to splay her fingers against her warm abdomen. She wants to discover every inch of Audrey’s body, one day, but today this is enough. Audrey nips playfully at Emma’s bottom lip and grins at her gasp of surprise, Emma smiles back and finally pulls away after another chaste kiss. She lowers her weight down into Audrey’s arms, feeling safe in her warm embrace. Her ear rests on Audrey’s chest and she listens to the frantic heartbeat, grinning at what that means.

“Say it” she asks Audrey with a yawn, snuggling closer.

“I couldn’t stop loving you. That’s what broke my heart, and that’s why I hated you.” She admits softly, running her fingers through blonde tendrils that shine like so many candles. Her eyes close and a tired silence steals over them like a blanket.

“I’ll try my best to fix what I broke, if you’ll let me.” She hears in the dark and a chuckle escapes from her throat. She smiles a genuinely happy smile and kisses the top of Emma’s head.

“Ha, as if I could stop you.”