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Hands Down

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Breathe in for luck/Breathe in so deep/This air is blessed/You share with me…

Karen is a blessing, of sorts.

It’s not that Will had anything against Agatha; no, despite her temper, the ghost-type trainer made for decent company, and the psychic would be lying if he said he wouldn’t miss the old hag. Still, with Karen comes a certain freedom, a liberation that Will isn’t quite used to. Whether her ignorance is genuine, whether she’s really never heard the name “Lorelei” before, he doesn’t bother to ask. With Karen, he is who he says he is. No questions. No deadnames. He’s Will, and that’s the end of it.

And besides, he’d be just as much a liar if he claimed the other elite was anything but attractive. There’s an air about her, dark and mysterious and graceful, and it piques Will’s interest the day she arrives. He almost chokes when she asks him his name, his heart skipping a beat in his chest. He stammers out a nervous “Will,” and Karen smiles.

“That’s a nice name,” she says. “It suits you.”

This night is wild/So calm and dull/These hearts they race/From self control…

He wonders sometimes if she sees right through him.

He’s never been the best at controlling his emotions. It doesn’t take long for his fondness for the dark-type elite to blossom into infatuation, and where puppy love goes, paranoia follows. He’s almost certain, as they sit by the water’s edge, their legs lightly brushing, that she’s noticed by now the subtle curve of his hips, or that his voice gives him away as he laughs at one of her jokes.

“He really is too serious, though,” Karen chuckles. She’s ranting about Bruno again, not that Will minds it. She has a soft, smooth voice that rolls from her lips like honey, and Will would kill just to sit there and hear her talk forever. His heart pounds in his chest, and he’s vaguely aware that he should leave and take off his binder before it smothers him, but he stays put. Karen’s lips are smooth in the moonlight.

He wants to kiss her. He doesn’t, though.

Your legs are smooth/As they graze mine/We’re doing fine/We’re doing nothing at all…

He’s known her for all of a month when he panics. It’s not his first attack, but it’s a bad one, and Karen’s there when it happens. He’s on the floor when she finds him, his hands bloody, the shattered remains of his mirror littering the ground at his feet. He’s going to die, he’s so sure of it, and he almost doesn’t notice when she crouches beside him and pulls him into a firm embrace. She’s warm and soft against him, and he realizes at once how stupidly and desperately in love he is. It sends him into another wave of hysteria. Karen stays with him, rubbing his back, stroking his violet hair, whispering in his ear until his breathing evens out and the pounding in his head subsides.

“Let’s get this cleaned up,” she murmurs, clutching Will’s trembling wrists.

“I…” Will trails off.

“Hm?”

I love you, he thinks.

“I’m sorry,” he says.

My hopes are so high that your kiss might kill me/So won’t you kill me/So I die happy…

“You like her, don’t you?” Lance asks one morning over breakfast.

“What?”

“You like Karen.”

“Don’t be stupid,” Will scoffs.

“Then what have you been doing sneaking off with her every night?” the redhead demands. “Lor — Will? Oh, hell, Will, tell me you two haven’t been —”

“Nothing,” Will snaps. “We’re...we’re nothing.”

“You’re an idiot, Will,” Lance sighs. He doesn’t say anything else.

My heart is yours to fill or burst/To break or bury/Or wear as jewelry/Whichever you prefer…

They’re drunk. He’s not sure how he let it happen; they’d been sitting by the water as usual, and probably it was Karen’s idea, but Will’s too far gone to ponder the specifics. Her hands are in his hair, twisting, pulling, and Will can’t help but moan because it hurts so good, and her lips are on his, but it’s lustful and desperate and loveless and wrong.

“Wait,” he hears himself gasp.

“Hm?”

“I’m...you’re...” He’s slurring horribly.

He doesn’t remember the sex, but he remembers the afterglow.

The words are hushed, let’s not get busted/Just lay entwined here/Undiscovered…

“I’m sorry.”

“You’re hungover.”

It’s not untrue. It’s well past noon, and his head aches awfully, not to mention he feels like puking. He takes a deep breath and regrets it; his ribs throb painfully, constricted by his binder, screaming for room to expand. He cringes, and Karen must notice, because her hand disappears from his forehead.

“Are you okay?” she asks.

“Just dizzy.”

Again, it’s not a lie. The ceiling is a blur above him. He sits up in bed — Karen’s bed, he realizes, his face going warm — and runs a hand through his tousled hair. His mask is absent from his face, not that it’s terribly high on his list of priorities. Karen watches him for a moment, then asks, “Do you need to...do you want to take your binder off?”

Will freezes.

“What?”

“I couldn’t get it off for you last night,” Karen says casually. “You were pretty wasted.”

Safe in here from all the stupid questions/Hey did you get some?/Man that is so dumb…

She knows what’s going to happen before it does. He’s panicking again, sobbing into Karen’s nightgown, and she’s holding him tightly, keeping him grounded.

“I’m sorry,” he groans. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

“Will,” she says. “Will. You don’t need to be sorry.”

“I…”

“That was your first, wasn’t it?” It’s not a question; she says it like a fact. Will can’t meet her eyes.

Stay quiet, stay near, stay close, they can’t hear/So we can get some…

“Will.”

He can’t breathe. Karen’s hands are on his chest, unbuttoning his vest, helping him out of his binder. She pulls his shirt back over his head, uncomfortably tight over the feminine bulge of his breasts — Arceus, he thinks, those shouldn’t be there — then presses his mask to his face.

“Will. Look at me.”

He does. Even as bloodshot as they are, her eyes are beautiful, wide and intelligent and the prettiest blue, like the sky. Will feels himself relax at the sight.

“You don’t have to worry about it, okay? We were drunk.”

“You aren’t...upset?”

“Why would I be?” Karen asks.

“I don’t...I don’t have...”

“Will.”

Karen shakes her head, exasperated.

“You think I care about that?” she asks. “If it really bothered me — hell, you’re hungover, aren’t you? I’m surprised you remember it at all.”

He starts to say something else, but his stomach’s had enough. He’s on the bathroom floor before he can register what’s happening, and Karen’s rubbing his back, sighing softly while he shudders and dry heaves.

“No more booze for you,” she says when he’s finished.

Hands down, this is the best day I can ever remember/Always remember the sound of the stereo/The dim of the soft lights/The scent of your hair that you twirled in your fingers…

They’re by the lake again, their bare feet dangling in the clear, cool water, and Karen has Will’s head on her lap. He’s half-asleep, but he’s conscious enough to notice the way Karen twirls her pale hair absentmindedly around her finger.

And the time on the clock/When we realized “It’s so late”/And this walk that we shared together…

“It’s getting late,” Will mumbles sleepily.

“Tired?” Karen asks. He can hear the smirk behind her words. Too weary to answer, he nods, and Karen pokes his nose playfully.

The streets were wet/And the gate was locked/So I jumped it, and let you in/And you stood at the door with your hands on my waist/And you kissed me like you meant it…

“Hey dork.”

“Huh?”

Karen’s lips meet Will’s. It’s a short, chaste kiss, so unlike the one they’d shared before, and Will’s too high on the thrill of it to be disappointed when she pulls away. His heart flutters and his stomach aches, like he’s panicking all over again, but it’s not a bad sort of panic.

And I knew, that you meant it/That you meant it, that you meant it/And I knew, that you meant it/That you meant it…

“I love you,” Will murmurs.

“I love you too,” Karen purrs. It’s the last thing Will hears before he gives in to sleep. I could die now, he thinks as he dozes off. It wouldn’t matter.

He’d die happy.