The lights are dim, the beat is pounding, the world is swirling, and Rachel Amber is bearing down on Victoria Chase.
Victoria’s letting it happen. Letting Rachel dance her into the corner of the living room at this shitty house party, letting the music guide her actions, letting it all shake out. Everyone knows what Rachel’s like at these things, but Victoria knows more. Everyone knows the guys love Rachel, but Victoria knows that Rachel loves everyone.
She saw it, a few parties ago. Dana’s face as Rachel backed up against her in the basement, hair flying as she swayed to the music. The sudden turn, the stolen kiss, the whisper in Dana’s ear. A body passed between Victoria and the pair, and then they were gone. Victoria thought about it for weeks.
Victoria’s never enough, compared to Rachel. It’s Rachel that Jefferson swoons over in class, the two of them talking long after the bell’s rung while Victoria waits at the back to talk about her project. His voice changes when he talks to her. It gets harder. Less invested. He puts on his smug hipster detachment and Victoria tries desperately to hear the right note but she never does.
It’s Rachel that swings between social groups like a trapeze artist, garnering no ill will when she steps out of line because there are no lines to define her. She dresses as she wants, does as she wants, while Victoria sweats in cashmere sweaters and dreams of freedom. It’s Rachel who’s never had a bad word said about her while the word bitch is written in the faces of everyone Victoria speaks with. It’s Rachel who’s the queen, because the people love her. It’s Victoria who is the dictator, because people fear her.
It’s Rachel who can indulge in all sides of herself even when the world says it’s wrong. It’s Victoria who’s hidden it since she was twelve and realized what she is.
But tonight, she can have this.
She’s worked up to it, with sweet words and little touches and nothing, no shots, because she has to be alert to keep the game going. So she can put her skills to use in a different way. She knows what signals Rachel needs. How to kick Rachel’s spirit into drive, compel her to take control of a situation. She’s watched how people try to get to her, they think they can be suave and cool and that’ll make her want them, but it’s the people who act shy and uncertain that she takes. So Victoria slouches. She bites her lip when Rachel grasps her wrist and juts forward to shout something at her over the din of the music. The blushing, that might be the heat, or it might be natural. Victoria doesn’t care. It’s working.
Rachel puts both her arms against the wall, trapping Victoria between them. Her smile is predatory. Victoria imagines vampire’s fangs. Imagines Rachel sucking her dry and leaving her a husk to blow away as dust in the wind. If only. Rachel can take her for all she is and tear her down.
Victoria closes her eyes as Rachel leans in close. She can feel Rachel’s body heat, their chests pressed against each other, their mouths an inch apart if that. Victoria parts her lips and waits to be taken and used.
She opens her eyes, just a little, and Rachel’s taken her arms off the wall and her phone out of her jean shorts and is staring at the screen and typing intently.
“What the fuck?” Victoria snarls, grabbing at Rachel’s shoulder. “Hey.”
Rachel looks up. “Can you give me a ride somewhere? It’s not far.”
“I need to pick someone up.”
Victoria’s about to tell her to go fuck herself. That’s the usual tone of their conversations. But she stops. She can’t. She was so close just now and if she fucks this up she might never have another chance. She has to plan for the future, like she always does. She swallows her hatred and her frustration.
Rachel breaks out into a grin and hugs her. “You’re the best, Tori,” she whispers in Victoria’s ear. Victoria’s spine stiffens and her fingers clench. She wants her. To herself. But she’s not going to get that, ever, that wasn’t even the plan. Fucking keep up, Chase. Set realistic fucking goals for this.
So Victoria follows her outside, and as soon as they’re out of the noise, Rachel calls this ‘someone.’
“Chloe. Talk to me.”
Victoria starts heading to her car. Rachel follows.
“Chloe. Chloe. Chloe!” Rachel’s voice rises with each repetition of the name. A hammer pounds into Victoria’s skull. She unlocks her car. “Chloe, honey, breathe, stay with me, okay? I’m here. I’m here.”
Victoria grits her teeth. “Straight down the road and turn left,” Rachel says. “Chloe, I’m on my way over.” She listens very seriously to the warbling voice on the other end of the phone as she gives Victoria directions. “No. No, Chloe, I don’t believe that. Chloe, you can’t—”
Rachel freezes, her fingers tightening around the phone as they stop at a red light. “Put it down,” she orders. “Chloe, you can’t do that.”
Victoria hears a very definite Why not? from Rachel’s phone.
Rachel takes the phone away from her ear for a second. And then she slams her fist straight into the glove compartment, choking out a high-pitched sound. And at that moment, Victoria realizes that Rachel Amber cares about someone. And that doesn’t make sense from what she’s seen, and it’s wrong. And it means there’s a possibility she could make Rachel care about her, or there was, before this Chloe stole that. Her breath comes in hisses as Rachel says, “Take a right here. Almost there,” and puts the phone back to her ear, tears shining on her cheeks.
“Chloe? Are you still there?”
“Because I need you here. You’re going to sneak out of that house and jump in a car with me, and you’re going to get fucked up and we’re gonna look out at the stars together like before, and we’ll explore the woods together and we’ll go to LA together and you can’t do that if you’re fucking dead, Chloe!”
The silence is overwhelming. A sob comes through Rachel’s phone as she says a quiet, “Stop,” in front of a house with a incomplete paint job, a blasted facade, a completely shitty truck sitting in its driveway. Victoria parks.
“Chloe. Chloe, God, please tell me you’re still with me.”
Something mumbles from the speaker.
“Come out to the front?”
Rachel lets out a long sigh. “Okay. Put it away. We don’t need him finding it missing. Okay. Stay on the line. I’ll wait for you.”
Rachel opens her door and gets out, standing on the sidewalk until the front door of the house opens and a tall girl with blue hair comes out. Rachel throws her arms around Chloe, and they stay there, wrapped in each other, while Victoria reaches into the glovebox and takes a cigarette for herself and stares.
It takes forever for them to get into the car. They get in the back seat, holding hands. Victoria’s alone in the front. Her smoke’s filling the car, staining the seats, but she doesn’t give a shit. Nothing matters.
“Take us back to Zach’s house, Victoria?” Rachel manages as Chloe lays her head on her shoulder, eyes buried in plaid flannel.
Victoria does. And then she drives herself back to her dorm alone.
She may not be able to have Rachel there for her, not like that. But she didn’t fuck this up. She can still get what she needs.
This one’s already lost.
Rachel vanished upstairs with some grungy-looking stoner almost a half-hour ago so Victoria’s just downing shots. Everclear, mostly. It stings like Hell but it makes hanging down here in the kitchen, knowing she’s lost, a lot easier. She can lean against the little round table and give off her generally solid ‘fuck-off’ vibe while people talk and flow around her, and no one’s bothering her, and the bottle might as well be hers.
That is, until a blue disturbance starts pushing its way through the doorway, saying something like “Fuck out of the way.” Chloe bursts between a couple who were just eye-fucking in front of Victoria for the longest time, then shoulders Victoria aside and grabs the bottle from the table.
“Watch it, bitch!” Victoria spits as shot glasses rattle from Chloe’s impact.
Chloe gives her a red-eyed glare, and Victoria sees irritated, bumpy skin just under those eyes. She suddenly gets an inkling of why Chloe’s now chugging straight from the bottle of Everclear.
Chloe sets the bottle down and starts hacking, prompting Victoria to step aside in case she throws up right here and now. But she doesn’t. She just braces her hands on the table’s edges and stares into the shot glasses, trying to control her breathing through the cough.
“Fuckin’ slut,” she mutters once she’s got herself under control. She wipes angrily at her eyes.
“Who?” Victoria asks, even though she’s known the answer since Chloe first rolled up.
“Fuck you,” Chloe replies, casting a hateful glance her way. “Fuckin’ Blackwell prep, what, you wanna get all the juicy details? So you can tell your little bitch friends all about it?” She throws herself off the table and backs Victoria against the wall.
Victoria smirks. “Rachel, huh?”
“Fuck you.” Chloe snarls and turns around. Victoria grabs her shoulder. Chloe whirls back, throwing Victoria’s hand off. “What?!”
Victoria holds up one finger, then takes one of the shot glasses and downs it, meeting Chloe’s confused, drunken eyes. Then she takes another. And another.
“So, I don’t know if this is some dick-measuring thing,” Chloe begins, putting a hand on her hip, “But—”
Victoria grabs Chloe’s arm and starts marching her through the house, down the stairs to the basement, past a group of kids watching some shitty cartoon on the TV, and none of them look her way and even if they did they wouldn’t say shit. Victoria shoves Chloe into the bathroom and locks the door as Chloe says, “What the fuck?”
Victoria turns and pushes Chloe against the sink, grabbing her jacket lapels. Chloe’s eyes widen.
“She’s never gonna want you,” Victoria slurs. “Not the way you want her.”
“You don’t know what the fuck you’re—”
Victoria trails a hand down Chloe’s side until it cups her ass, and Chloe jumps.
“But I can give you what she won’t.” Victoria leans in, their noses nearly touching.
“Holy shit, you’re wasted,” Chloe breathes. Victoria feels like she can see Chloe’s brain short-circuiting, sparks flaring in her skull. Her blue eyes are unfocused and bloodshot and really pretty.
“And?” Victoria pushes Chloe’s hips toward her own, smirking at Chloe’s gasp. “So are you.”
“Are you fucking with me?” Chloe probably means to sound it like a threat, but her voice cracks, and Victoria dives right into that crack.
“Not if you keep your mouth shut. Not that anyone will believe you anyway.” Victoria’s other hand crawls up Chloe’s neck and she revels in the little whimper that escapes Chloe. “Or you can pass out upstairs waiting for her to get done fucking. That sound like a better time?”
“That’s the plan. Are you in?”
Chloe’s losing. She’s broken eye contact, looking down to the side, while Victoria’s hand moves up her cheek. Victoria’s winning. She’s turning this night around, she can feel it in the way Chloe’s shaking, the red in her cheeks. Victoria wonders if she should leave a mark or two for Rachel to find. Because she’s just waiting for Chloe to say yes.
“No one knows,” Chloe says softly, looking over Victoria again.
“Not one fucking person.”
“You won’t tell Rachel.”
Not with words, Victoria thinks. Where’s the fun in being direct? Let Rachel see that she can beat her at her own game, figure it out for herself. She feels her blood surge at the thought, and she stares at Chloe’s chest hungrily. She can get what she needs, and she can win. The thought’s as intoxicating as the alcohol. “Nope,” she answers, grabbing the back of Chloe’s neck and leaning in closer. Victoria can feel the heat between her own legs and for once it’s not disgusting. It’s not something she pretends not to feel when she’s watching Taylor change or when Rachel flashes a diplomatic smile at her or when she’s alone in her room and dreaming about things that won’t and can’t and shouldn’t happen. It’s not what she’s squashed down her entire life. It’s a need. And it’s about to be indulged.
Chloe’s taking too fucking long, so Victoria kisses her. Victoria’s body hums as she finally does what she’s never supposed to do. Chloe lets out a long groan as Victoria bites her bottom lip and drags it down, as her hand leaves Chloe’s neck and travels down. Chloe’s nipple is hard and pierced and Victoria keeps it between two fingers as she squeezes Chloe’s chest. “Mpph fuck,” Chloe pants, an arm reaching around to grab the back of Victoria’s sweater as Victoria starts sucking on Chloe’s neck. Her lipstick leaves a perfect red ring there.
Victoria pulls back, grabs the lapels of Chloe’s jacket again, and starts pulling it off her shoulders. Chloe closes her eyes and pitches her head to the ceiling as Victoria rids her of that, then grabs her tank top and pulls it off over her head. Chloe raises her arms obediently, and then Victoria takes her on again, attacking her lips, putting both hands on her pale, nigh-flat chest and finding her piercings and squeezing and twisting. Chloe sounds like an animal, writhing under Victoria’s unpracticed drunken hands, but Victoria’s not worried about her own performance for once. This girl’s more fucked-up and sad than she’ll ever be. She knows that from the way they first met.
Victoria’s starting to get it now, why Rachel does this to people, why she does it to everyone. But something feels off, from the second she starts unzipping Chloe’s jeans and jamming her hand under the waistband of her boxers. Chloe’s not doing anything. She’s reacting, sure, she’s crumbling under Victoria’s frantic fingers, swearing and panting and moaning, but there’s no desire in the way she holds onto Victoria. She doesn’t try to take Victoria’s clothes off, or kiss her, just grabs her sweater to hold herself up.
Victoria feels something roiling in her stomach alongside the need. Something sicker. Her nails scrape against Chloe’s slick skin and she cries out in pain but doesn’t ask Victoria to stop, she’s too far gone. Victoria watches her face as she peaks. She bares her gritted teeth, hissing through them, face taut and stretched to the breaking point. Then she releases, falling back against the sink. She shudders as Victoria slides her hand back up through those folds, up her stomach. Her mouth opens and closes.
Then she pushes Victoria away, swerves in a one-eighty-degree arc, and leans over the toilet. Victoria jumps back as retching echoes up out of the bowl, holding her hands out in front of her.
“Ugh.” Victoria curls her nose up as Chloe lifts her shaking head out of the toilet, chunky snot dribbling down her face, tears shining in her eyes. She lets out a few weak coughs and braces her hands against the bowl, breathing deeply, waiting for the next surge to come.
“Fucking gross,” Victoria spits, despite the nausea starting to roll through her body in waves. She unlocks the door and slams it shut behind her, then stalks upstairs.
When she throws up, no one sees it.
Victoria takes a drag off her cigarette, staring out over a lake from the back porch of Hayden’s cabin. Rachel’s somewhere inside. She marked her target at the beginning of the night, and it wasn’t Victoria, again. So she’ll wait. She knows that Chloe follows her around to these things like she’s on a leash, and she knows that if Rachel finds her mark, Chloe will be out here.
And here she is, coming out of the sliding glass door and posting up on the railing right beside Victoria. She lets out a long sigh, breath visible under the porchlight, shivers in her voice as she asks, “Can I bum one of those?”
“I see the pack in your inside pocket,” Victoria tells her with a snort. “Nice try.”
“Can’t blame a girl for wanting to save some cash.” Chloe draws the pack out just as Victoria finishes her own. Chloe’s voice sounds different. Strained, not slurred.
They stay silent for a few moments as Victoria lights another for herself. Chloe’s eyes keep darting towards her, darting away.
“So did we fuck or something?” she asks.
“I thought you were too fucked-up to remember,” Victoria replies smoothly.
“Shit. Fuck. I did that.” Chloe slumps over the railing, one hand tangling in her hair.
“Show some fucking gratitude,” Victoria spits. “Not like I got anything out of it.”
“Who even are you?”
Victoria inhales deeply. The fucking nerve of this dyke.
“Oh, wait, fuck, I remember something...you gave Rachel a ride when she came to pick me up, didn’t you?” Chloe looks over and squints. “Yeah, she called you...”
Chloe takes a drag and exhales a sigh of smoke. Victoria waits. For what, she’s not sure. A repeat performance? But neither of them felt the need to destroy their minds with alcohol tonight, it seems. So it can’t happen the same way. Victoria can’t take the initiative. She can’t break through her own mind and tell Chloe that she wants her, she wants reciprocation, she wants hands on her body and a tongue in her mouth and a warm presence to tell her she’s enough, she’s wanted.
“This party is fucking lame,” Chloe says.
Victoria waits. She won’t ask. She’ll make Chloe ask.
Chloe’s still glancing back and forth between her and the lake. Still waffling.
“You’re boring,” Victoria says, flicking her cigarette into the grass and turning around.
“Shit,” and Chloe grabs her shoulder, and Victoria shivers. There we go. “Wait.”
“For what?” Victoria asks, brushing her hand off and turning around. She puts her hands on her hips.
“You wanna...” Chloe trails off, her eyes trailing up and down Victoria’s body.
“Wanna what?” Victoria scoffs. “Wanna waste my fucking time with you again?”
Chloe grits her teeth. “Do you or not?”
Victoria considers. Maybe she should reject her. Would that feel good? Would it give her the same sense of control she had when Chloe was putty in her hands? Or would it be better to...
“One chance. Don’t suck this time,” Victoria states. “My car.”
“You sure about the not sucking thing?” Chloe asks with a shaky grin.
“Shut the fuck up or it’s not happening.”
Victoria’s surprised to see that her words seem to cut Chloe. She shrinks in front of her. Pathetic. She’ll take anything close to Rachel, won’t she?
“Let’s go, if we’re doing this.” Victoria starts walking off the porch, circling around the house, not letting Chloe touch or get near her. She checks around the corner before she moves out, making sure no one’s hanging out in front. Good. No one. She doesn’t have to come up with an excuse for driving off with the dropout.
She gets into her car, waits for Chloe, then just drives. She finds a dirt road, pulls into it until there’s a space off to the side, and parks. It’s so dark in this forest, especially once the headlights are off.
Chloe doesn’t seem sure what to do. “So, um—”
“Jesus Christ, we need to get drunk if we do this again, you’re a fucking embarrassment,” Victoria groans. “Get in the back, dumbass.”
“I thought that was the plan. And it better be me this time.”
“Oh, it’s gonna fuckin’ be you, all right,” Chloe growls, throwing her door open. “You’re not gonna admit it, but you want this real fucking bad.” As she steps out, Victoria turns the key in the ignition and throws the car into drive, rolling a bit down the road.
“Hey! What the fuck!” Chloe shouts as Victoria steps on the accelerator and drives off just enough for Chloe to clutch at her hair and look like a very panicked silhouette in the rearview mirror. Victoria swings the car back around and parks across from their other spot, rolling down her window.
“That’s how easy I can just fucking leave you out here,” Victoria tells her as she comes running up to the car. “Don’t fucking talk to me like that.”
Victoria hovers her hand over the gearshift.
Chloe glares at her, then grabs the back door’s handle. “Are we doing this or what?” she asks as Victoria turns the car off again.
Definitely drinking next time, she thinks as she steps out. This is too fucking awkward, their own heads getting in the way too much. It was so much easier last time.
She climbs in after Chloe, and before she can open her stupid fucking mouth, grabs Chloe’s jacket and forces her into a kiss. This time, Chloe does respond, shifting so she’s nearly lying on top of Victoria, their bodies pressed together, and Victoria lets out an involuntary squeak and feels Chloe chuckle into her mouth and that just pisses her off. She makes her frustration known by pulling at Chloe’s hair, forcing them apart, but before Victoria can tell her to keep her fucking smugness to herself Chloe is reaching between her legs, pulling up her skirt.
And Victoria loses control of the situation entirely.
Chloe is incredible. Her rough tugs on Victoria’s clothing, her hungry mouth marking every inch of Victoria’s face, neck, collarbone that it can find, her fingers Jesus her fingers pushing Victoria’s panties aside and entering her and pumping and it feels almost like Chloe actually wants her to feel good. Like she knows, she actually knows, that this is what Victoria wants. Needs.
She loses herself in Chloe. In the way she pulls off her sweater and her bra just to look, just to suck. Victoria wants her teeth but she can’t ask, because she’s breathing too hard and because she just can’t. It hardly matters. Maybe she’ll bite if they’re drunk next time, or maybe she’ll bite because Victoria will be too fucked up to care how it looks when she asks. She keeps her mouth shut, wills her throat to not make too much noise, not give Chloe any satisfaction. This is all for Victoria. Not for Chloe.
She feels it coming, feels Chloe figuring out what’s working even though she’s trying to keep herself restrained, and she doesn’t want to. Victoria doesn’t want to show herself in front of Chloe like that. She pushes against Chloe, forcing that hand out from between her legs, that mouth off of Victoria’s breast. Victoria tries to grab at Chloe’s jacket, reverse this, but Chloe slams her back against the door, hands on her shoulders, tongue pushing into Victoria’s mouth. Her spine turns to jelly as Chloe’s hands press into her skin, one traveling back down between her legs, the other keeping her pinned with nails digging into her breast.
“Fucking come,” Chloe growls in Victoria’s ear. Victoria lets out an “Ah!” at that. And then Chloe bites her ear, and she obeys.
She closes her eyes and nearly screams as electricity fires through her skeletal system and leaves her limp and panting against the door. Her head hangs off to the side, her shoulders slumping as Chloe slowly draws her fingers out of Victoria. One finger brushes her clit as Chloe withdraws and sends a little aftershock through Victoria.
But then Chloe’s gone. Hazy fantasies of Chloe draping herself across Victoria’s chest, kissing her softly on the cheek, murmuring something nice against her skin, they all evaporate as Victoria opens her eyes and sees Chloe leaning against the opposite door, opening her pack of cigarettes. So it’s over.
Victoria gathers up her clothes in silence, puts everything back into place. She slides a cigarette from Chloe’s pack and lights up beside her in the dark.
“Let’s go back,” Chloe says, her voice a monotone. “We’re done.”
“No, we’re not.”
But Victoria gets in the front seat anyway.
They’re not done.
But they don’t make that mistake again. Why the fuck would they ever do it sober? It’s so much easier when they’re both piles of rage and lust instead of people.
The goal’s always Rachel. For both of them. And when she’s gone, they turn to one another. They have drinking contests. They see who can take the longest dab. Victoria whitens her nose and cackles at Chloe’s cowardice, her refusal to do the same. The people around them aren’t sure what to make of it. No one talks about it, not even Taylor. She looks worried, but she never asks, because she knows what Victoria would do to her if she did. Victoria’s sure that they think she’s fighting Rachel via Chloe. She’s never been subtle about the rivalry, and Chloe’s not like either of them. She plays no careful games. She fights, and she fights in the open. She fucks in the dark.
It’s terrible. It’s bruises and bite marks and scratches. It’s hard surfaces and cramping muscles. It’s perfect. It’s Chloe on her knees in front of Victoria, pulling down her leggings. It’s Victoria raking her nails across Chloe’s chest and tracing her piercings with her tongue.
It’s in bathrooms, behind trees, stashed in closets and lying in the back of her truck. It’s anywhere people won’t see.
It’s happening again.
Rachel’s got her pinned in a corner in the backyard, hazel eyes flashing with the strobe lights from the DJ’s little booth. The pool’s light throws evil shadows up on her face. Victoria’s whole body is ready for this. Ready to be taken. And Rachel, finally, takes.
She smears lipstick all over Victoria’s mouth, sloppy and needy and smiling. Her arms snake around Victoria’s waist. She smiles into her neck as they draw close.
Victoria catches a glimpse of blue.
She turns her head slowly. She wants to savor this.
Chloe’s blue eyes meet hers from the backdoor. Victoria narrows her brows, sets her jaw tight. She can see Chloe’s chest rising and falling, can almost hear her, like she sounds when Victoria’s pushing her off the cliff. Chloe’s mouth opens, closes. Her face is open. Her lip quivers.
“Let’s go upstairs,” Rachel whispers as her fingers crawl up the side of Victoria’s head, pushing hair behind her ear.
Victoria goes upstairs.
Rachel isn’t like Chloe. She is soft but firm. She doesn’t need to force you to do anything. She just leads and expects you to follow, and you do. Victoria lies on this stranger’s bed, completely naked, Rachel completely clothed over her and loving her and whispering how pretty she is and it is everything, it is the warmth of coffee on a cool fall day that fills Victoria, not lightning and spite.
It’s all of Victoria’s stupid fantasies come to life. And when she comes, when Rachel slides up her body and cups her cheek and kisses her, she cries. It’s completely pathetic, and Rachel doesn’t care, she says nothing but, “It’s okay,” and “You’re beautiful.” Victoria wants to hear three words. She’s imagined hearing three words from a girl like Rachel, a girl like anyone, really, for so long. But she doesn’t. So she cries.
Rachel stays with her until the music is gone. She asks for nothing, and Victoria gives her everything. They dress in the dark and head out front. Rachel frowns at the empty street. Chloe’s truck is nowhere in sight. She pulls her phone from her pocket and squints.
“Guess Chloe bailed,” Rachel says, pursing her lip. “Can you give me a ride?”
“We live in the same fucking place, Rachel, why wouldn’t I?”
Rachel giggles. “You’re such a bitch. And after all that.”
“You love it.” Tell me you love it, Victoria pleads.
But Rachel just goes up to Victoria’s car and waits to get in.
They drive in silence back to Blackwell, Rachel’s hand on Victoria’s thigh, rubbing indecipherable patterns. Rachel throws an arm around her as they walk to the dorms, and Victoria would shove her off but it almost feels right, it almost feels real, and no one’s around to see this anyway.
She says “Goodnight, Tori,” as she opens the door to her dorm.
Victoria sleeps well for the first time in years.
Victoria skips the next party. She’s been going to enough of them anyway, and she wants to remember her success. She doesn’t need to try and repeat it yet. She’s winning. She wants to bask in it for a while. Before it comes back and she needs to seek out relief again. From Chloe, probably. Rachel doesn’t have a lot of repeats. It’s not her style.
She hears Rachel outside her dorm room as she’s finishing up some of the homework she’s been neglecting. She’s saying something like, “I don’t need to hook up at every party, see? I just hung with you. ‘N it was better. Thanks.” A pause. “Goodnight.” The door closing, and then silence.
Victoria thinks little of it until someone knocks at her door. She swivels in her desk chair and raises an eyebrow. She doesn’t need to hook up, huh? But here she is, coming right back to Victoria. She smiles to herself. Maybe she can really win.
But when she opens the door, Chloe punches her right in the head.
Victoria staggers back as Chloe kicks the door closed behind her. “You fucking bitch,” Chloe seethes, grabbing Victoria’s collar and shoving her against her desk. Victoria’s not responding. Her head’s still spinning from Chloe’s punch as a knee jams into her gut.
She starts laughing.
Chloe lets go of her, muttering “What the fuck,” under her breath as Victoria clutches her stomach and cackles.
“Y-you’re fucking jealous,” Victoria wheezes, tears stinging at her eyes. “You shouldn’t be.”
“You fucked her when you knew—”
“She fucks people so they’ll like her,” Victoria interrupts, trying to stand up straight and wincing at the pain. “Why would she ever bother with you? You already like her. You love her,” she sneers. “That’s all she fucking wants. But she wants it from everyone. She won’t commit.”
“Is that what you want?” Victoria asks, stepping closer to Chloe. “I can show you how she does it.” She grazes her fingertips up Chloe’s neck, the way she likes it. She can feel the tremor she sends through Chloe’s spine. “Because I told you before. She’ll never want you like you want her. She won’t want either of us.”
Chloe gulps as Victoria closes the distance between them, their lips a hair apart from touching. “You’re fucked up,” Chloe says, her voice a whisper.
“And? Am I wrong?”
Chloe bites her lip.
“Or you can go home alone again,” Victoria taunts. “Like you always do.”
Chloe’s taking too long again, so Victoria grabs her and forces their mouths together and then the talking finally goddamn stops.
She fucks Chloe like she’s Rachel. Like she said she would. She strips Chloe slowly, delicately, teasing fingers at every inch of flesh, keeping her touch light and soft. But firm. Never budging. She doesn’t let Chloe do anything without guiding her to it. It’s so much slower than what it usually is between them, and the light in here finally lets her really see Chloe’s entire lanky body and Victoria feels its warmth, Chloe’s warmth, Chloe’s pain. Because like Victoria, she has tears in her eyes after she climaxes, and Victoria just...
She kisses them away. It’s too intimate. Too close. It’s a lie that Victoria can’t stop telling. Can’t stop wanting to be true, even with this fucking worthless blue-haired dropout. She remembers all the fighting they’ve done up to this point, physically or competitively, all the things they do to drive each other crazy, and she realizes that it’s made her feel so alive.
But her lie doesn’t last long. Once Chloe’s had a minute to calm down, intimacy goes out the window, and Victoria knows she’s being punished. Her clothes are torn off her body, her body marked with bites and scratches as Chloe tears at her flesh, her fingernails jagged against Victoria’s inner walls. Victoria’s pressed up against her door and fucked, without mercy, without stopping, and it hurts. It hurts in a way that she deserves, for everything she’s done to Chloe. But the pain doesn’t stop her from coming when Chloe tells her to. If anything, it makes her nerves flare all the brighter.
Chloe lets her fall to her knees in front of her door, nude and vulnerable. She sits down on the edge of Victoria’s bed, palms over her eyes. Victoria swallows, panting, staring at her, all the beauty and the pain that’s on display before her. The cuts on her thighs, on her wrists, they show so clearly in this light. How many were because of nights with Victoria? How much damage has she done?
“I fucking hate you,” Chloe mutters into her hands.
Chloe stands up and throws her clothes on. She walks past Victoria, opens the door, slams it shut behind her. Victoria stands up and studies herself in the mirror. She counts the marks.
Things proceed as they have for the past few months. Victoria tries to catch Rachel. She settles for Chloe. They hate one another, love one another, understand one another.
It’s when Chloe comes to Victoria’s room again that the pattern breaks. She doesn’t attack Victoria this time. They’re too far gone for that to happen again. Instead, she quietly closes the door behind her and says, “We’re done.”
Victoria raises her eyes. “Are we?”
“I don’t need you anymore.”
“We’re together. Me and Rachel.”
Victoria snorts. “Really.”
“She kissed me and she told me she loved me. Seems pretty ‘really’ to me.” Chloe’s trying to put on a disaffected look but it’s not working. Something’s wrong. Victoria’s going to figure out what.
“So how high was she?”
“No, really, I’m curious.” Victoria cocks her hip. “You fucked yet?”
“She’s just making sure you still like her. She won’t fucking give you anything. You’re under control. That’s all she wants.”
“You keep talking like you know shit about Rachel,” Chloe seethes.
“Rachel’s like me. She’s just better at it.” Victoria’s mouth forms the words of her own accord and she wants to snatch them back out of the air, but it’s too late. Chloe’s eyes widen.
“Whatever. You know what? If she doesn’t hook up at the next party, I’ll believe you. If she does, I’ll be waiting.”
The next week, they meet in a back alley, and it’s all the same.
Maybe Rachel does do repeats.
She snatches Victoria from the Blackwell pool early in the night, and sneaks her across campus, a wicked smile on her face. Victoria knows she’s smiling back like some kind of desperate fucking loser, but she’s wanted this, so badly, once was never going to be enough. They end up in Rachel’s dorm, and Victoria goes in first, watching Rachel ease the door closed until it quietly clicks into place.
As soon as Rachel turns around, her smile’s gone. “You need to stop what you’re doing to Chloe,” she says, folding her arms.
Victoria blinks. “Excuse me?”
“She got drunk and told me everything. You really need to learn to count on that with her.”
Victoria’s mouth twists. So Rachel knows now, huh? And what does that change?
“Stop it. You’re fucking with her head,” Rachel states, her hazel eyes hard and angry.
“And you’re not?” Victoria asks.
“She told me you two were ‘together’ two weeks ago. You told her you loved her and then you fucked someone else basically right in front of her face.” Victoria smirks. “You’re blaming me for the shit you’re doing.”
“Leave her alone,” Rachel says, a quiver forming in her lip. “What’s between us doesn’t—”
“Why don’t you just fucking date her, huh?” Victoria interrupts. “Why don’t you two just run off together to L.A. and be all lesbian in the big city? She fucking loves you.” The words burn her throat. “She loves you and you’re ignoring it. The fuck is wrong with you?”
“You’re jealous,” Rachel says.
Victoria snaps her mouth closed, fire in her veins. Fuck Rachel. Fuck Chloe. Fuck everyone.
“You’re a fucking sociopath,” Victoria replies. “And you’re going to kill her. She wouldn’t even touch me if you weren’t stringing her along like this.” She starts heading for the door, pushing past Rachel. “Besides. She comes to me,” she adds as she steps into the hall, looking over her shoulder.
Rachel hugs herself as the door slams in her face.
As Victoria drives up to Hayden’s cabin, she sees two figures in the back of Chloe’s pickup.
They hold one another under the stars, kissing like no one’s watching. As Victoria’s headlights sweep over them, they break apart, heads on each other’s shoulders. The smile on Chloe’s face burns itself into Victoria’s vision. She looks so peaceful. So happy. So unlike herself, when Victoria’s with her. She looks so much younger without her face twisted up the way it always is when they meet.
Victoria parks and slams her door, walking straight past the truck on her way.
“I do love you, Chloe, I have for a long time,” she hears whispered into the dark. “I just...I thought I’d hurt you, I didn’t think I could be good enough for you, I thought — I thought I would always want more than just you but when I see the way I’m hurting you—”
“It’s okay, Rachel.” Chloe’s voice is hoarse. “Just...it’s real, this time, right?”
“It’s real.” A pause. “Let’s go home. I want you alone.”
Victoria enters the cabin and drinks until she can’t see.
Who gives a shit about Rachel Amber? Whatever, so she fucked off. Not a surprise. Her whole image was crumbling around her by the time she went away. She showed up alone to a Vortex party and got so wasted that Nathan had had to drive her home. Bet it was some shit between her and Chloe again. Those two fuckups were bound to self-destruct.
Victoria tears down the missing posters. She burns them in her trash can or writes all over them, angry red letters directed at Chloe, at Rachel, at the world that never wanted her and will never want her.
She drinks alone in her room and calls Chloe’s number. She’s surprised that Chloe picks up at all, but not at all surprised at the greeting she gets.
“Fuck you.” Click.