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The worst part about it is that Katya isn't screaming back. Trixie wouldn't know anything was wrong if she hadn't looked through the window as she got out of the car.

Running up the stairs, Trixie can hear him shouting alright. Terror and panic swells in her as he gets louder, she can’t remember the last time she was this scared. Trixie reaches the third floor, and runs down the hallway. She just needs to make it to that apartment.

She makes it to the door in time to hear Katya cry out for the first time. It’s guttural, and Trixie is shaking.

Oh god. The spare key. Where's the spare key? Under the mat. Trixie scrabbles for it.

"You're cheating on me!"

"I'm not!" Katya answers, there's a loud thwack.

"Tell the truth!"

Trixie's heart beat is all over her body. Her blood is cold. Mouth dry. She finds the key and opens the door. There’s a moment of silence as Trixie steps into the flat.

"Who the fuck is that! One of your fuck buddies! You dirty-"

Trixie doesn't hear the end of his sentence over Katya's shriek of pain.

"Stop- Please-" Katya begs. There's a large crash.

Trixie runs through the flat. She pushes open the kitchen door. The kitchen has always been small, but with the amount of damage, it seems minuscule. There used to be a table in the middle, but it has been knocked onto its side.

Katya’s on the floor, glass shattered around her. There's a cut on her lip, and visible patches of red.

"Who the fuck let you in!" the man next to Katya shouts. Trixie looks at the demon that just hurt her best friend. Trixie grits her teeth.

"Get out," Trixie orders.

He raises an eyebrow. "‘Get out’," he mimics. "No. This is my house, my life," he looks at Katya, who isn't moving, "and my bitch. I'll do what I want!"

"Get out before I call the police." Trixie orders, she hears her own voice quiver. Her heart is beating harder and faster, dimming away her own thoughts. God, Katya's not moving. Why isn’t Katya moving?

He smashes a bottle onto the side. The liquid inside clatters across the floor and across Katya's legs. Trixie's body clams up with anger. The world is turning black and white. Trixie grabs a knife off the side, and holds it out. Hands shaking. Scare him off. Scare him back. Get him away from her.

“Get out of my home!”

He sprints at her. Trixie holds out the knife. He runs into it.

Trixie gasps, pulling the knife away and seeing the blood trickle off it.

His eyes widen at her, he looks between Trixie and the knife. His body goes limp. Falling to the ground and twitching.  Trixie freezes as the blood spreads from the middle of his chest to the rest. A small amount trickles out of his mouth and onto his beard. He stops breathing.

The world goes still. Trixie chest constricts with fear. Oh god. Oh god.

Trixie looks at the knife in her hand, the smears of blood and at the body.

"Shit."

 


 

“Katya! I got in!” Trixie squealed with delight down the phone earlier in the day.

Laughing, Katya replied “I knew you would. You’re talented, smart, a bit of a slut but-”

“Oh shut up! I got in! I got into fucking cosmetology! I’m gunna be a make-up artist Katya!”

Katya remembered how happy Trixie had been when Katya had gotten all of her qualifications. They’d gone out on a sober night to celebrate.

“Like I knew you would,” Katya repeated. “Let me talk to the trade, I’ll see if he’ll let me come out to celebrate with you-”

“Let you?” the excitement in Trixie’s voice melted away.

“I’ll mention it,” Katya amended. She exhaled, “I’ll tell him now. Can you come pick me up? About half an hour?”

“Sure.”

 


 

Katya's never hurt like this before. She blinks her eyes open, slowly. It's fuzzy. There's a travelling ache in her body.

"Katya?"

Trixie? Katya leans up, a hand pressed against the pain in her head.

"Katya, are you okay?"

Why's Trixie crying?

"Yeah, I'm fine. Where's-"

Her heart stops.

The blood around his body is pooling. Trixie's hands are covered in it, so’s her dress. She has a knife in her hand.

"What, did you do Trixie?" Katya gags.

“He was h-hurting you Katya.”

The sobs leave Trixie’s chest in waves. Her makeup is as smeared as the blood is.

Katya tries to stand, her legs wobble beneath her weight but she makes it. Her muscles and bones ache with conviction. Walking over to her friend, she tries to avoid looking at him. She kneels on the ground beside Trixie, “what did you do Trix?”

Trixie swallows, “he smashed a bottle, he was going to hurt me too. I held out a knife, and-and-and-”

Katya nods, rage boiling in her. This was never meant to hurt Trixie, Katya’s. She was never meant to find out, and Trixie never did anything wrong. She runs a hand through her friend’s hair and pulls Trixie’s head to her chest. Trixie lets go of the knife. The metal clunks to the ground. Trixie’s grasps the fabric of Katya’s dress and buries her face against her body.

Katya’s an inch away from retching, “it’ll be okay.”

“He ran into it. Honest: I didn’t mean to. He stopped breathing,” Trixie whispers.

Katya’s mouth turns dry, Trixie’s telling the truth. She trusts her enough to know that. Looking across at her boyfriend, she sees where the blood originated. The stab wound. The mess. Katya’s head hurts so fucking much.

Katya picks up the knife and throws it away from them.

“We’ll figure it out, okay?” the words feel weak coming out of Katya. She looks at the window. The moon is large; it taunts her. “We’ve got each other, that’s enough. We’ll-We’ll run. Dorothy and Toto style, yeah? We’ll go somewhere they won’t find us.” The grip around her friend tightens. “ Katya murmurs, “I’m going to fix it for us. Honest: you’re going to be fine.”

There’s a knock at the door.

Trixie pulls away from Katya’s waist. She swallows. Her face is messy from tears; Katya takes her jaw into her hand and wipes at Trixie’s cheeks with her thumb.

“I’m going to get that,” Katya says, “and it’s going to be okay. I need you to go clean yourself off in the bathroom. Can you do that?”

Trixie nods.

 


 

 

Katya met Trixie seven years ago. It was a late night in a bar, as was most of Katya’s life at the time.

Trixie had sat next to her, and ordered the same drink as Katya. Katya didn’t recognise her, and drinking always did make her more sociable.

“You new around here? These parts? This land?” Katya joked.

Trixie frowned, smiling despite it, “I moved here a week ago actually. I got offered a job in a fucking makeup store in New York and I thought ‘anything to get out of this hell’ and packed up.”

Katya laughed, “You do makeup? By the way, you just went from one hell to another larger, sweatier one. We all realized that when we moved here. ”

“Honey, I am makeup. What do you do and where are you from? And, I don’t mind sweat,” Trixie answered. She’d turned in her chair to face Katya.

“I’m a burlesque dancer” Katya said, Trixie’s eyebrows raised. “It pays the bills, gets me trade and keeps me fit,” Katya finished. Trixie nodded in agreement. “And, I’m a Boston descendant. Oh, so the naturally sweaty pheromones don’t turn you on too much then?” Katya asked with a straight face. Trixie barked out a laugh.

“I’m Trixie,” she waved a little at Katya. Katya waved back.

“Yekaterina Petrovna Zamolodchikova,” she declared. When Trixie's eyes widened, Katya grinned, “call me Katya.”

 


 

 

Katya peaks through the peep hole. It’s Max, her neighbour, and she’s biting her nails. Katya opens the door a smidgen, not letting her into the apartment.

“Hey,” Katya greets, she hears her voice swing with the vowel.  Recoiling at it, Katya chastises herself. Get it together or Max is going to guess, she’s going to call the police. Trixie will get sent away and Katya will be left all alone. All. Alone.

Max flinches at the sight of Katya, bruises covering Katya’s pale skin. Some old. Some new. “Katya? Darling, I heard shouting. I just wanted to know if you’re okay?”

Katya nods, “It’s all okay now. Just a misunderstanding. Thank you Max,” Katya’s breath catches, “you’re a good friend.”

Gritting her teeth, Max whispers, “Katya, I have friends you can stay with,” she reaches out and takes Katya’s hand, “let me help you.”

Too late. Katya smiles, “I’m fine. I don’t need help. Thank you though.”

She shrugs off Max’s hand. Max chews on her lips.

“Any time,” Max says. She enunciates the words and stares directly at Katya. Katya wants to throw up, she closes the door. Deeply exhaling, she gives it a second before she looks through the peephole of the door to see if Max has left. She has.

Turning around, Katya catches her reflection in a mirror. She stares at a woman with a black eye. Not just a black eye, but the whites of her eyes are red. There’s a cut on her lip, and blood on her shirt in the shape of Trixie’s hands.  Katya sees the tears fill her eyes. What’s happened? She’s dreaming, she has to be.

“Katya, who was that? ”

Katya flinches at Trixie’s interruption. She turns to look at her best friend. Trixie’s no longer covered in mess. Katya sighs.“Max, you know, my neighbour?”

Trixie nods, “hollywood glamour?”

“Yeah, that one.”

Trixie’s still crying.  A moment of comprehension. Staring at Katya’s beaten body, “You should have told me he was hurting you,” Trixie starts.

Katya opens her mouth to respond. She flounders before sputtering out, “it didn’t matter. It wasn’t that bad. This is the worst he’s ever- I won’t let him hurt you.”

Trixie swallows. She walks to Katya, they’re face to face.

“Um, he won’t? I-I killed him.”

Her boyfriend is dead, why doesn’t she feel more upset? “You didn’t mean to,” she sighs.

Trixie puts a hand over her mouth, “I’m going to go to jail. I deserve to. I killed him. I’m a murderer!”

The city is eerily quiet. Katya can’t remember the last time it was quiet in this flat. There’s always been noise: laughter, screaming, crying, fucking.

“Stop shouting. You’re not going to jail. Honest: I won’t let that happen,” Katya states. She looks up into Trixie’s eyes, they are rimmed red. “We’re going to run.”

“They’ll catch us.”

“Not if we’re smart,” Katya insists. “We’ll get all our money out. We can-We can find fake IDS somewhere on like a black market. I know places. We’ll motel jump until the heat’s off, and then we can move somewhere,” Katya devises the plan in her head as she speaks.

“It won’t work,” Trixie whispers.

Katya takes Trixie’s hands in her own.. Trixie makes note of Katya’s black eye, and wants to sob again.

Katya bites her lip and feels the pain shoot through her mouth. “We’ll make it work,” she declares. She squeezes Trixie’s hands and forces another smile.

For just a second, Trixie believes her.  

 

Chapter Text

 

The second time she’d met Trixie had been on purpose. They’d talked over text for a month.

Tricks (19:34): I’m outside, you dirty disgusting waste of space x

Katya smiled at her phone before texting back with her spare hand, other hand was nursing a beer.

Basically A Waste Of Lungs (19:36): I’m inside by the bar. I got my drink, you’re late. Beware of angering me, you would not care to do that x

Moments later, Trixie landed in the stool next to her.  They grinned at each other.

“So, do you come here often?” Trixie joked.

“That depends, what are you wearing?” Katya retorted. Trixie threw her head back laughing.

“You can fucking see me bitch.”

“No, I can see through you.”

Trixie shook her head, and put an arm around Katya. After a hug, Katya’s grin grew. There's a moment of comfortable silence. 

“Get me a drink,” Trixie ordered.

“Fuck off,” Katya responded whilst motioning to the bartender for another.

 


 

 

“Is that everything?” Trixie swallows. She looks at the torn apart room and feels ill.

“Think so, come on. We’ll head to yours, grab your stuff and head off.” Katya doesn’t wait for a response, “We have our stuff. We have your car, which we’ll drive until we can find an alternative. We need money. We’ll pick a city and head there. People have money,” Katya concludes.  “We can get money from people.”

“All of the criminals in movies head to Seattle,” Trixie contributes.

Criminals. That slows down Katya’s thinking. Her eye hurts.

“Then we won’t head there. Chicago maybe?”

Going back to Boston crosses Katya’s mind, but she pushes it away. That’d be stupid. Obvious. And painful. If she’s going down, she’s not dragging her mama into this.

Trixie zips up Katya’s suitcase. It’s a carry on one, small enough for an airplane.

“I’ve always wanted to go to Miami?” Trixie suggests. She picks up the suitcase, forcing her fingers to obey her. Her body is shaking beyond control.

“Miami then,” Katya settles. Exhaling lightly, she tries not to look at his side of the room. Don’t panic. She looks at Trixie, “come on.”

Katya walks out of the room. As she walks past the kitchen, Katya closes the door. The amazement mixed with horror which is filling Trixie paralyzes her. She stops. After noticing the stillness, Katya turns, “What?”

The suitcase hits against Trixie’s legs as her arms shake,  “how the fuck are you this fucking composed Katya? I fucking killed your fucking boyfriend. Our whole lives just fell the fuck apart- Honest: how are you doing this? How the fuck are you doing this?” Trixie’s voice cracks. There are tears in her eyes again. Part of her wants to punch something, another part of her wants to curl up in a ball and stay there for eternity. She’d do anything to feel numb.

Katya swallows looking at only Trixie. Thoughts swirl so violently in her head that she’s surprised Trixie can’t hear them.  “It’s because I’ve got a job to do.”

 


 

 

It was the first time Katya had ever been in Trixie’s apartment.

“Are you seriously trying to tell me your family were spies?”

Katya laughed, her head rolled back against Trixie’s sofa.  They were both wine drunk, steadily becoming the best of friends.

“Obviously they weren’t. They just moved to the country. You know, work, life, opportunities, a willingness to fuck dogs.”

After snorting and nearly dropping her glass, Trixie giggled out “well, how the hell am I meant to tell? Everything you say is bullshit.”

Katya chuckled, before sticking her tongue out at Trixie, “what do you want from me? I am what I -”

“Please don’t start singing, you’re tuneless. I could use being able to hear tomorrow, I have work.”

Katya snorted, “you’re so mean to me.”

Trixie’s apartment was small, her living room was even smaller.  

“Seriously, how much of what you’ve told me has been lies?” Trixie asked.

Deflated, Katya answered, “some. My family aren’t spies. I’m not the most flexible woman in the world and I haven’t actually ever been in an orgy. I haven’t actually ever been a getaway driver. I also don’t have an IMDB page. I wasn’t in Star Wars.  My family also don’t like fucking dogs, that’s just me.”

Trixie laughed and placed a hand on Katya’s knee, “well, that’s disappointing.”

“Nobody is more disappointed about it than I am,” Katya joked. She started picking at her own finger nails, “I can start being more honest if you like.”

Grinning, “really?”

Katya smiled and poked Trixie in the side, “honest.”

 


 

 

Trixie’s apartment is organized. That makes life easier. It’s how it is whenever Katya walks into it. It smells the same. No metallic stench, no sickness.

It doesn’t feel the same. They both head to Trixie’s bedroom.

“Help me pack,” Trixie orders.

“Bring your makeup,” Katya adds. Trixie stops still, nearly falling. Katya whips around, she reaches out and grabs Trixie’s hand, “Come on, we’ve got to-”

“I’m not going to cosmetology anymore.” 

The room turns silent. It isn't comfortable. It's aching, and awkward. Katya doesn't know what to do. She doesn't know anymore. 

After a small heart break, Katya tries squeezes her hand, “I’m sorry.”

Trixie snorts. There's a headshake, a small recoil away from Katya's touch. “It isn’t your fault. But that was my dream. I moved here for that opportunity. I left home for that. That-I almost had it.”

Their eyes meet. Trixie’s are red. Katya refuses to cry. Everything hurts, but she will not cry. Pain is seeping into the edges of her numb state.

“It certainly isn’t yours,” Katya corrects her. “And I’m sorry, but the makeup is for me.”

Katya smiles. Trixie frowns.

“Why do you need it? Why now? You’ve always looked like this?” Trixie says.

After a beat, Katya laughs. The pain disappears before crashing back down.

“It’s for my eye,” Katya explains. “We’ll get questions if I look like I’ve just been to battle.”

Trixie’s blood runs cold again. With her free hand, she reaches up and strokes a thumb softly over the bags underneath Katya’s eye. The intimacy of the moment strikes Katya as strange. It isn’t something she’s used to. She leans into the touch for a second, before recoiling away.

“Katya, I-”

“Later, I figure we’ll stop at a motel. Proper ‘runaway’ style. I can’t do this now. But honest: we will,” Katya stands up. A sigh escapes Katya’s body, her heart beating hard in her chest. It hasn’t stopped beating at a million miles per hour.

Trixie stays looking up at her. “Leave your phone behind.”

 


 

 

“You have to be able to do makeup, you’re a fucking burlesque dancer.”

“Trixie Sugartits Mattel, Honey, do you really think they’re looking at my face?”

Trixie pulled the eyeshadow brush away from Katya’s face whilst she doubled over laughing. Katya swatted at her arm.

“Hurry up! I wanna hit the town,” Katya shouted.

With a shake of her friend, Trixie straightened up and started applying the eyeshadow again. Katya grinned at her.

“Stop looking at me!”

“You’re too pretty!” Katya giggled. “Maybe I don’t need to hit the town, I’ve got a fucking Miss Wisconsin in front of me!”

Katya reaches out to tickle Trixie, who pulls away from it.  Trixie started laughing again, “I require a drink and an engagement ring before you play any games with me Miss Boston.”

Nodding slowly, Katya hummed in contemplation, “how about no drink and the ring is one of those edible candy ones that kids choke on?”

Trixie snorted before giggling out, “sold. I’m yours.”

The makeup that usually took her twenty minutes to apply took her an hour. The laughter and alcohol had Katya’s heart thumping out of her chest, and she wasn’t complaining.

 


 

 

Trixie brushes the makeup onto Katya’s face as quickly as she can. There’s no laughter this time. Little strokes with unclean brushes. It sends her to her happy place for a second at least. She tries to not remember their old nights out. They could be about to go clubbing on a Tuesday, their shared evening off. It could just be a night full of laughing, crossing lines and fireworks of emotion. It could be one of those nights that Trixie would watch as Katya takes a lucky girl or guy home. Trixie wouldn’t carry a bud of resentment, but the lonely feeling would sink back in.

It could have been one of those nights, when their friendship was young and Katya still drank and they didn’t carry a single scar.

Isn’t it shitty how things change?

The hand on Katya’s jaw is shaking. Trixie hasn’t stopped shaking. She twists Katya’s head to check the job she’s done.

“It’s finished,” Trixie nods. She lets go.

Katya smiles at her. It doesn’t spread to her eyes.

 


 

 

Together, they gather just under $700 from their savings. They walk to the car in silence, the money in Katya’s purse. It should get them some of the way, but Katya’s mind is flying through where to go next.

 


 

 

“You’ve been quiet,” Trixie whispers.

They’ve been driving for two hours and thirty seven minutes. Trixie’s thinking too fast. She’s been counting time, watching the roads, and clasping too tightly to the steering wheel as she drives. Katya’s been reading the map for fourteen minutes.

“I’m sorry,” Katya says back. Her throat clears at the beginning of the sentence. “I’ve just been consumed by- everything? Thought? I don’t fucking know,” she crunches the map up in her hands and chucks it at her feet.

“You? Thinking?” Trixie jokes.

Smiling, Katya answers “I’ve been known to do it occasionally.”

Trixie’s grasp on the steering relaxes slightly. The sick feeling in her stomach remains still.

“I should do it more often,” Trixie sighs.

“You’re not stupid, don’t give me that shit.”

Katya looks out the window. Passing buildings that make no particular impact on her. She analyzes the faces of people they’re passing, none of them look even mildly happy. Everyone in this fucking world is miserable.

Trixie’s grip tightens again, “honest: If I wasn’t stupid, we wouldn’t be in this mess.”

Silence. Katya stares at her, her stomach flipping over and over. Slowly, a laugh escapes Katya. Trixie’s eyes widen.

“I hate that honest thing we do. How fucking elementary school. How do you know you’re being honest? How do you know you’re not wrong? And you’re not being honest, believe me, you’re not the stupid one.”

The words settle in Trixie’s mind. Her heart skips a beat. The car is warm. It’s starting to get dark outside. They’re in suburbs right now. There’s going to be a point where they have to start avoiding main roads, but for the time being they use them.

“You started the honest thing and I’m keeping it. And, honest: you’re not stupid Katya,” Trixie responds. She cringes after she says it, bracing herself for the response.  

Katya looks at Trixie, who looks dead ahead. Swallowing, she says, “we should keep driving tonight. I can drive when you get tired.”

A beat of comprehension.

“Aren’t you going to sleep?”

Katya lets her silence answer the question for her.

 


 

 

Trixie woke up on Katya’s sofa years earlier with Katya staring over her.

“Well, hey there,” Trixie said as she pulled herself up into sitting. Katya passed her a coffee as she sat next to her.

“Morning.”

“Morning,” Trixie replied. She rubbed at the ache in the back of her neck, “sorry for falling asleep here.”

“I don’t give a single shit Trixie,” Katya responded. Trixie laughed into her coffee as she attempted to take a sip.“I had a dream with you in,” Katya continued.

“Sexy or really sexy?”

“Sexy. We went on a holiday, like a road trip. I think you fucked a marine.”

Trixie nodded slowly to herself, “I have always had a thing for fish.”

Katya snorted, she grabbed Trixie’s thigh as she laughed. “Yeah! Crabs!”

 


 

Despite it all, Katya does fall asleep. Exhaustion creeps into her, lowers her defenses.

Trixie keeps driving. They used to want to do this trip. Go all over America, doing whatever they wanted. See sights and drink beer and kiss strangers.

She blocks words out of her head and vetoes thoughts. No mentions of body, or his name, or Katya’s bruises, or blame.

Trixie looks over occasionally at her friend, able to smile at the peace on her face; for this second, Katya is happy. She hasn’t seen Katya happy, or even restful, in far too long.

 


 

“Come on, you rotten carcass,” Trixie laughed. Katya was slung over her shoulders. They were making their way up to Trixie’s apartment, it’d been a long night.

“Listen! I’m not rotten! I’m dew-faced, elegant, ready to rumble and lonely!” she shouted before she fell into heaps of laughter. Rolling her eyes, Trixie pulled Katya along.

“You’re so drunk,” Trixie chuckled. They were nearly at the door.

Giggling, Katya kissed her cheek. Trixie’s smile grew. “You’re so special,” Katya said.

Trixie didn’t dignify it with a response, she opened her apartment door. Pushing past her, Katya rushed in and jumped on the couch with a loud scream of Russian.  

“You good there Katya?” Trixie checked, she flipped the light switch and relocked the door.

“Yeah.” the answer was drawn out. Laughing again, Trixie nearly tripped over.

“Honest?” Trixie asks.

There’s a break before Katya responds, “honest: Nah , everything’s spinning?”

Shaking her head, “go to sleep,” Trixie ordered.

There was a mumble into a pillow, which earned a smirk from Trixie. Trixie walked to the kitchen. Whilst there, she filled two glasses of water and grabbed some paracetamol. She put one glass down on the side, and took the other to Katya.

Katya was asleep. Knocked out. Completely. Her mouth was open slightly, and her breath whistled. Shaking her head again, Trixie rolled Katya onto her side in case she threw up. She put the drink and the paracetamol on the floor next to the couch.

For a moment, Katya looked restful. That is the first time Trixie’s ever seen her sleep.

Walking out, Trixie wished her sweet dreams and turned off the light.


The world is in that weird transition between night and morning. Liminal space between today and tomorrow. Trixie’s wide awake. Her heart beats hard in her chest. She couldn’t sleep, she sees the blood every time a red car drives in the opposite direction.

Katya stirs, her head turning further into the seat. Her black eye is starting to show again. Trixie doesn’t even know the extent of the damage. She’d seen less of Katya recently, but could she have imagined this?

If Katya never gets hurt again by that man, does Trixie even regret it? The guilt is clawing at her mind, scratching at sleep. Trixie didn’t mean too, she never intended this.

“Does that make it better?” Trixie whispers.

On time, Katya moans slightly into the back of the chair. Trixie smiles, she stares ahead at the road. Keep driving, head to Miami. Keep Katya safe.

Chapter Text

The pain in Katya’s neck registers before anything else. It’s like her body is white noise which slowly comes into focus. Her body hurts, her mind hurts, her eye hurts.

She doesn’t expect it to be daytime. Creaking her eyes open, she is blinded for a second. A heartbeat resounds in her ears.  “Good morning?” Trixie says.

It takes Katya a few seconds to remember why she’s here. The panic settles back into her, another layer on top of the physical ache. The bags under Trixie’s eyes look like bruises.

Scowling, Katya asks “how long have you been driving?”

A pause, “about twelve hours?”

“Trixie!”

After flinching, Trixie looks over at her. Her features soften, she looks at the road. “I just, I couldn’t wake you?”

There’s a beat of silence.

“You could have,” Katya responds. She smirks, “it’s just easier for me to be unconscious when you take me back to your alien leaders.”

With an eye roll, Trixie chuckles. “You’re so fucking stupid.”

Katya stretches to the best of her ability in the confined space. Her black clicks, and she exhales in the pleasure of it. The ache is still in her body, her eye is radiating pain.

“I know I am-”

“You’re not actually-”

“But at least I didn’t spend twelve hours driving. You could have killed us,” Katya finishes. Trixie grits her teeth, Katya doesn’t notice. “Pull over, let me drive.”

“I won’t sleep. There’s no point-”

Katya glares at Trixie, “Trix, pull over.”

With a sigh, she does as ordered.

 


 

Trixie doesn’t fall asleep like Katya did. Her eyes remain open, looking at the suburbs. Katya focuses in and out of their surroundings. It’s just her and the road. However, this is hard. It’s hard to stay awake, focus. How did Trixie manage this for twelve hours all by herself? Katya feels like she’s a loud noise away from a heart attack, and she’s had more sleep than Trixie did.

Swallowing, Katya asks “honest: How long have you been awake?”

Trixie considers it. She runs her mind through the last few hours of her life. Her blood runs cold. 

 “About a day?”

Katya nods. “Listen, do you want to find like, a motel? Would that help?”

Trixie leaves the answer hanging for a second. Then, Katya’s stomach grumbles. A frown.

“Nevermind me. Honest: When did you eat last?”

Katya shrugs, “I don’t matter. Can you sleep?”

Trixie groans, “Katya! I need you to do the honest thing. When, did you fucking eat last? Fucking hell.”

A sick feeling climbs up Katya’s body and threatens to spill. She wants to bite her nails. She wants to scream. “Don’t shout,” Katya whispers. “Honest: Don’t you fucking realize I’ve been telling lies for months now Trixie? I’m not doing it to hurt anyone. The opposite. Don’t pretend that I’m okay, I’m more mentally unstable than ever and that should be fucking impossible. Stop expecting regular shit from me. Give up.”

The words feel like a punch to Trixie’s stomach. There’s so much silence. They are tiptoeing around so many things. Trixie can’t do this for much longer. It’s an inch away from collapse.

“I am so sorry Katya,” Trixie says. The words feel like a ventilation.

“You only raised your voice,” Katya tries to brush it off. She smiles at her friend. Trixie gets a generous view of Katya’s bruised eye.

Grasping onto her leg, Trixie can feel her own nails digging into her body.

“You know that isn’t all I’m sorry for,” Trixie adds.

Katya heart stops. She has flashbacks. The first time she saw Trixie. The first time she drank. The first time she made love to her ex. The first time she made him laugh. His blood. His bruises. The first time he called her his bitch. Katya’s life has been poisonous for a long time.

Sighing, Katya says “listen. Don’t be. I’ll be honest now. We- It’s- You don’t need to feel-”

Trixie sits up straighter, “guilty? It’s normal that I feel this. I- I did something awful Katya. He’s dead-”

“I did too,” Katya breathes. With a head shake, Katya asks “now, motel or not?”

Scandalized, Trixie’s eyes widen. “What did you do? What did you do that was so fucking bad that I shouldn’t feel bad for murder?”

Katya looks at Trixie for longer than she should. There are tears in Trixie’s eyes again. Her makeup is looking old. Katya’s must be gone. They need to rest and recuperate. Plan their next step.

“I’m going into the next motel I find,” Katya responds.

There is a heartbreaking gap.

“Answer some of my questions. Katya, please,” Trixie begs. She bites her lip. Digs her fingers even further into her own flesh. “I can’t stand this.”

Gripping onto the steering wheel, Katya sighs. She inhales deeply, “Look. Honest: I don’t think I’ve eaten for about a day. Is that something?”

Katya tries to offer Trixie a smile, but her muscles don’t listen. Instead, Trixie ends up looking into Katya’s eyes. It’s not enough. It won’t do. Trixie can’t not feel awful. There’s too much going on to feel blank.

“It’ll do,” Trixie concedes.

 


 

 

Katya finds a motel. Trixie still hasn’t slept. They sit in silence.

Katya pulls into the motel. It’s late afternoon at this point. “You’re going to have to go and ask for a room,” Katya says as she parks.

“Why?”

“Black eye.”

“Oh,” Trixie whispers, swallowing as she gets out of the car. “How much does that hurt? Do we need to get you anything for it?” Trixie’s words rush out.

Raising an eyebrow, Katya says, “Take my purse. It’s got the money in. We only need one night.”

With a nod, Trixie lets her change the subject, “Fake names right?”

Katya smiles, “Now you’re getting it.”

Trixie shuts the door carefully, trying to avoid making a loud noise.

 


 

 

Trixie spots Katya sitting on the hood of the car.

“Everything go okay?”

“I put us down as sisters,” Trixie shows Katya their keys. “One night. $50 dollars for a room with two queens.”

Katya’s aching for a cigarette. She smirks, “Scissor sisters?” Trixie rolls her eyes. Standing up, Katya feels a little faint. She promptly ignores the sensation. “Can we go to it?”

Trixie nods, and goes to retrieve their stuff.

 


 

 

Trixie’s laying on her bed. It’s the one furthest away from the window. That reassures her at least. The edges of her vision keep turning dark. She can’t sleep. She can’t. She’s too scared.

Dabbing on concealer in the mirror, Katye is wavering slightly on her feet. Occasionally, she winces. Trixie isn’t sure if that’s because of the pain, or the sight of herself. She turns to Trixie, “Does this cover it?”

It doesn’t. At least, it doesn’t do it as well as Trixie could.

“It’s fine.”

Nodding to herself in the mirror, Katya puts the lid on the concealer with a pop. She looks at herself in the mirror. There’s an obvious blotchiness. Her cheekbones are more defined than they ever used to be. Her hair isn’t brushed. The puffiness of her right eye is apparent. She sees more of her own ugliness than she ever saw before. God, how did he even love her in the first place?

“I’m going to go get some food for you,” Katya says.

Scanning her own reflection, she feels where his hands hit her. Touched her. She feels dirty, filthy and disgusting. She is dirty, filthy and disgusting.

Trixie watches her. Katya’s not looked away from herself yet.

“Are you okay Kat?” Trixie whispers.

Katya turns to look at her best friend. Trixie’s always been everything she couldn’t be. She’s curvy, she’s not got ribs poking through her skin; Katya misses looking healthy. Her skin is scarred or bruised. Trixie smiles sometimes, and Katya feels like everything she’s ever done has been okay.

But a smile can’t make this okay.

“Honest? No,” the truth sneaks out of Katya.

Trixie stands and walks to her. She flinches when Trixie hugs her. Katya clings to Trixie for her life. Refusing to let go. Katya digs her face into Trixie’s shoulder. She’s comfortable. This is warm. She’s safe.

God. When was the last time she was safe?

Katya doesn’t remember feeling warm in a long time either. When Katya begins to cry, and she isn’t sure when it is, Trixie holds her closer. She rubs circles into Katya’s back. She whispers nonsense comfort to her.

“I-I-I haven’t cried in-” Katya murmurs.

“Hey, if there’s a time to cry it’s probably now.” Trixie points out. Katya lets out a small laugh. The tears aren’t flowing as much, Katya’s left empty. She carries on holding on to Trixie.

“I’m sorry,” Katya whispers.

Trixie snorts, “It’s fine.”

Katya smiles against Trixie’s neck, “you know that isn’t all I’m sorry for.”

Trixie’s eyes widen as Katya pulls away. Breathless, she responds “It’s not your fault that he-”

“Can you do my makeup for me again? I’ve cried it off,” Katya interrupts. Her eyes are red, her face is red. Trixie feels red.

Swallowing away the bad feelings, Trixie demands“yes, but you have to let me come with you.”

“You haven’t slept in a day,” Katya argues.

Trixie stares into Katya’s determined eyes. Her best friend’s jaw is set. A small explosion of anger erupts into Trixie. She goes for the jugular.

“We’re going together, or I’m phoning the police and turning myself in,” Trixie states.

Katya chokes, “you wouldn’t.”

They stare each other off. Katya’s heart beats hard in her chest again. Trixie’s mind finally slows down.

“Try me.”

“No. Promise you won’t do that. Don’t do that to me, I need you,” Katya says. Her voice shakes. Trixie’s eyebrows raise.

“I won’t.”

Katya visibly relaxes. She reaches out to hug Trixie again, who pulls her in. It’s Trixie’s turn to bury her face into Katya’s shoulder. She inhales the way Katya smells, which currently isn’t that good but it’s okay. It’s what it needs to be.  

“We need to shower before we go,” Trixie points out. They pull away. Katya smiles up at her friend.

“Together?”

Trixie snorts into a laugh, “fuck off.”

 


 

 

Katya watches the news when Trixie showers after her. The elegant woman who speaks directly to the camera says, “now we’ll go to our reporter Raven for more details.”

“Thank you Raja. Now, a death is being treated under suspicious circumstances after the body was found in an apartment building in Brooklyn. The body belonged to a man, who is currently unnamed. The NYPD have released no suspects-”

Her skin crawls. Her bruises ache. Her eye aches. There’s a pang deep inside her chest. Guilt? Relief? She remembers how she’d slept next to him just a few nights before. He’d grabbed at her. She’d wanted it. The good moments were so good. She’d craved them like she craved anything that made her feel better.

Why didn’t she leave? Why the fuck didn’t she leave?

Katya doesn’t listen. She watches. They talk on and on around the subject. Katya’s name isn’t said, neither is Trixie’s.

“Back to Raja for our next story.”

“Thank you, Raven. Our next story tonight, a-”

The shower switches off. The bathroom door opens. Trixie steps out, wrapped in just a towel.

Katya’s mouth goes dry. She turns off the TV.

“I forgot my clothes,” Trixie points to her bed. She moves to her bed.

Katya tries not to look at her legs. The towel is gloriously short and cuts off at her mid-thigh. Katya always liked the way Trixie looks without makeup on, almost younger. Trixie didn’t take her mascara off properly before showering, leaving her with almost a smokey eye. Swallowing, Katya tries to ignore it. She tries. She’s just desperate for affection. She’s not received a lot recently. This is some weird want for approval, not actual lust. It’s easy to dismiss when she thinks about it like that.

“They just put him on the news,” Katya says.

Trixie freezes, “and?”

“They didn’t put us on or anything. We just-We have to be more careful.”

Katya curses herself when Trixie sits on the end of her bed, still naked. The mission of being clothed has been suspended.

“What’s our next move then?” Trixie asks.

“I think -Well- They’re going to link me to it,” Katya declares. It makes sense. The entire building must have heard that fight. Katya isn’t worried about herself however. “If we’re lucky, they won’t link you to this for a while. That gives us time to use your car, but, I think over the next few days, maybe tomorrow? We should try and see if we can get ahold of a new one.”

“Steal a car?” Trixie breathes. Katya bites her nails, she nods. “Fuck.”

Katya shrugs, “we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do. We might be able to buy one? If we get really lucky?”

Trixie nods. “Hopefully,” Trixie puts a hand over her mouth and exhales. “This is such a mess.”

Grimacing, Katya responds “I know. But we’ve got to keep going. I’m not-” Katya grimaces. She chews her fingernails.

Trixie looks to her for the ending of the sentence, “not what? Going to jail? It’ll be me that goes. You're just fucking assisting a runaway. You've done nothing wrong-”

“Losing you,” Katya admits. "I'm not losing you. Not you. No."

Trixie’s eyes widen. Her mouth falling open.

The ground seems a lot more appealing to Katya, so she looks at that. Fuck, her eye hurts.

“Katya, you’re my ride or die. You’re never going to lose-”

“-Anyway, food?” Katya interrupts. She looks at Trixie, eyes watering.

Swallowing back the words, Trixie responds, “Sure, let’s go.” Katya raises an eyebrow at her. “You’re naked, Trix,” Katya points out. Trixie looks down at herself.

“Oh yeah,” she looks back at Katya, with wide eyes.  “Why didn’t you say something earlier?”

“I wasn’t exactly complaining,” Katya responds. With a laugh, Trixie grabs her clothes and goes back into the bathroom.

Katya tries to not watch her ass as she walks. It’s safe to say she doesn’t manage it.

 


 

 

“Get everything?” Katya asks. Trixie throws the bag of assorted snacks onto the space below her feet in the car. Katya ended up not going in, deciding against the makeup. The world spins a little bit as Katya sits. She can focus to drive. She’s driven in a worse state than this.

“I got you some skittles,” Trixie mentions.

Katya grins as she snatches the pack, “you have earned my affections.” She turns the key and starts the drive back to the motel. Each skittle makes her want more, and the sugar starts to clear her foggy mind.

She feels just a little better in her skin. Just a little. 

 


 

 

Trixie is asleep. She passed out as soon as her head hit the pillow. Trixie brought a fucking nightgown with her. Typical. Katya’s going to have to sleep in a shirt and underwear tonight, which is more her style anyway.

With nothing to distract her, Katya is left with no choice but to think.

She plans for a little while. They’ll drive in the opposite direction to Miami tomorrow, set them off the trail. They’ll find a new car in that direction. If they can find some shady car salesman who doesn’t want ID, then Katya will keep her promise. If not, they’ll go to a gas station and wait for some stupid person to leave their car unlocked. However, that does risk them being caught on camera.

They’ll dye their hair, Katya decides. That should help them. They’ll do it after the car though. Besides, Katya’s always thought she’d look good with black hair. Trixie won’t go for that though. Her hair is dyed blonde anyway, Katya knows she despises her natural brown hair.

She hopes they do find a person who doesn’t want ID. Katya’s going to have to find out where they can get a fake set. It should be easier once they reach a city. She can’t imagine Miami is the purest city in the nation.

Katya turns onto her side. Looking at Trixie, she can see the small rise and fall of her chest.

Katya used to watch him when he slept, back in the early days. He looked handsome in the dark, usually naked. Katya could stare at him for hours and be proud that she was usually what made him this sedated. She loved him. He was hers, she was his. Does she still love him? Does that matter anymore? The feelings make her cold. Remembering what they used to have, that’s never a good move. He got stressed. He got possessive. Katya wanted him to be happy. She stayed. She probably shouldn’t have stayed.

It’s Katya’s fault he’s dead. If she’d left, Trixie would have never have tried to save her.

Well, he might have killed Trixie. She would have never forgiven herself if Trixie had died because of her. Can she forgive herself because he died? Trixie killed him to save herself, to save Katya in the process. He wasn’t a nice man. But he loved her. She never was the best version of herself. She never made loving her very easy for him. He could have done better than her. Katya’s worthless. He would still be alive if she had been better, and she didn’t even do that. Trixie would still have a life if Katya had been better. She’s ruined everything for everyone she ever loved.

The thought runs through her brain until her eyes shut and she sleeps.

Chapter Text

The alarm blares at nine am. They have to be out by eleven. Katya slips her fingers across the rough bedsheets and presses the snooze button.

Trixie groans, loudly.

“Morning,” Katya whispers.

“Does it have to be?” Trixie responds.

Katya leans up in bed. Stretching her muscles, her body hurts a little less. Just a little.

“Gotta be. Sorry,” Katya responds. She pushes herself back against her pillows and looks over at Trixie. Trixie’s hair has gone wild in the night.

She moans into her pillow and Katya laughs.

 


 

 

“So we just drive? Until we find something else to drive? Is that the amount of thought we’re putting into this? Really Katya?” Trixie asks. She’s pulling on clothes. Katya is brushing her own hair.

“Listen, there’s been worse plans? I’m driving though.”

Katya winks at Trixie. Trixie snorts.

 


 

 

They’ve been driving for an hour when Trixie puts on the radio. It’s a pop song, Trixie knows the words but it feels wrong to sing.

“It still makes me sad that they cancelled that Russian station. They had some great mixes on there.”

Trixie laughs, “first of all, mixes? You’re so fucking old.”

Katya wheezes, her head falling down for a second before she watches the road again. The day is sunny. Katya opens her window a tiny bit. 

“Listen, I’m young in soul!”

“Second of all, you were the only person that listened to that station.” 

A smile grows on Trixie's face. 

“It had a small dedicated fanbase!”

Winding down her window too, Trixie laughs. "When they signed off, they literally said ‘Thank you for listening Katya, it’s been real’ and that was that.”

“They spoke in Russian!” 

After rolling her eyes, Trixie responds. "Fine. Was the name Yekaterina involved in the finale?”

“Look, alright. Okay. Okay, listen- Maybe it might have been?”

Trixie collapses into laughing, she grabs the car door, “let me out of this fucking thing.”

Katya shakes her head quickly, she says something quickly that Trixie doesn’t understand before grinning.

“Come again?” Trixie asks. The tears on her cheeks aren’t from crying, which is a pleasant change.

“I said ‘Deal with it, whore’ in my mother tongue,” Katya says. Trixie laughs again. The smile is still on Katya’s face. The emotions soaring through her body are such an extreme mixture, she doesn’t quite know what to do with herself. Make Trixie feel better? That’s a good place to start.

“Mother tongue? You're from Boston! And it’s still so funny that you can speak Russian,” Trixie gasps. “Maybe you should start talking with a Russian accent all the time?”

Katya shrugs, “I don’t speak perfect Russian though. Just what Mama taught me. It’s a little broken at points.”

Katya’s smile melts when she thinks of her family. Her Mama’s not going to know what happened. She’s going to think Katya’s a murderer. In cold blood.

“It’s pretty perfect to me,” Trixie carries on. She’s looking out the window, a hand out in the wind. She feels almost free in this moment. “If I was a stranger, I’d think you were born there. Blonde hair, pasty skin, blue eyes and Russian name. Fuck, when I met you, I did!”

Katya chuckles, “My name’s not my fault. I’m named after-”

“Your mama’s mama. Otherwise known as your fucking grandma, ” Trixie interjects. Katya flicks at Trixie’s thigh. Without force, Trixie pushes her hand away. “You’re so mean to me.”

“You interrupted me!”

“Get used to it!”

“I won’t be bullied like this!”

The two girls look at eachother for a second before falling back into more laughter.

 


 

 

The sun rises. Everything is tinted gold. Trixie’s skin looks gorgeous in the colour, but Katya doesn’t really know how to say that. They have been driving past fields, all of which are a luscious green. Occasionally, they drive past some sort of building, or there’s a fork into a rural town. They've left behind suburbia, for now. 

“I need to get gas in a bit,” Katya states.

Trixie nods, “we should ask about cars whilst we’re in there.”

Katya grins, she points at Trixie, “this is why I keep you around. Sharp thinking-"

“And my alluring body?” 

Wheezing, “I need to sap your warmth. I’m cold blooded.”

“I thought you were just cold hearted. Just like my parents?” Trixie jokes. Katya laughs so hard that she folds over. She’s surprised she’s not crashed the car. She honks the horn and Trixie jumps, “oh, so childhood trauma’s funny now?”

“I hate you,” Katya laughs. She puts a hand on Trixie’s knee for a moment before removing it.

Trixie grins, “Hate you too.”

 


 

 

Katya finds a gas station after another hour of driving. She fills the car up to about half a tank.

“You’re not just, like, going to ask outright about a car are you?” Trixie asks. She’s leaning against the bonnet of her car.

A deep exhale, Katya taps her fingers against the steering wheel.  “I mean, I’ll probably flirt a bit first?” 

Trixie laughs, “Katya!”

“What!”

 


 

 

“So what are two ladies like yourselves doing in these parts then?” the woman behind the cash register asks. The laugh that follows the question is musical. 

Trixie is watching from behind Katya. It’s like a switch, she turns on the charm.

“Just passing through,” Katya says. The woman smiles, and passes back the change. Trixie watches as Katya intentionally touches the woman’s hand for a second too long. She pouts her lips, “you wouldn’t know where we could get a new car around here, do you?”

The woman behind the register blinks at her. She laughs again, “There’s a scrap place a few miles north from here? They sell cars. She's a good mechanic, even if she's a complete cunt,” she nods. “Closest place though.” The woman looks between the two of them.

Katya nods, she smiles and finds that it is genuine. Maybe the world isn’t as cruel as she lets herself believe sometimes. There’s a badge adorning the woman’s dress, ‘Sharon’.

Katya leans in. Trixie’s heart races, she reaches out and puts a hand on Katya’s lower back, “we’re running from someone.”

Sharon nods, “figured. I’m not going to ask who. We all run from something. Go five miles north. Scrap place. Family place, called O’Hara’s. You can’t miss it. Say Needles sent ya.” Sharon winks, “They know me quite, intimately, around there.”

Katya beams in response. “Can you keep us coming here a secret?”

Sharon looks left and right, and then straight forward. She smiles again. 

“Sorry, who are you?” Sharon asks.

Katya nods, “thank you.”

Katya grabs Trixie’s hand and pulls her out of the station.

 


 

 

The first time Trixie witnessed Katya’s charisma second hand, she was shell shocked.

There are people that seem to glide over words. They fly through social life with a stern chin and an enchanting smile. Katya has never been, and was not, that person.

Trixie was going out partying with Katya after work. Fame had been chatting Trixie’s ear off for the entire shift. As usual. Trixie just listened and nodded.

Katya strutted to the counter five minutes before Trixie was due to leave. There was a smirk on her face, her blonde hair falling past her shoulders. 

“I’m here to let you palpate my bone structure and make me more traditionally beautiful,” Katya joked, her voice thick with her imposed Russian accent. She leaned against the counter. Trixie laughed.

“It’d take all the makeup in the world,” Trixie retorted.

With a laugh, Katya reached for her hand bag. She got out twenty dollars, and offered them out to Trixie. 

“I made that in tips last night. Do your best,” Katya offers, she drops the accent.

With an eye roll, Trixie snatched dollar and tucked it into her bra.

Snorting, Trixie shouted “I’m doing your job better than you do!”

“Hey, burlesque takes class!” Katya defended. She didn’t ask for the dollar back before putting the others back in her bag. “Flexibility. Skills. Sexiness. Charisma. Uniqueness. Nerve-”

“A lack of proper education and self-love?” Trixie interjected.

With a snort, Katya shouted “exactly!”

Fame finally contributed to the conversation.  “You’re a burlesque worker?” Fame asked. Her eyebrows are raised, and pout slightly open.

It’s amazing to watch Katya turn on her charm. It’s something Trixie has admired about her ever since she discovered her ability. She turned her attention to Fame, who stared back with wide eyes.

“Depends. Would you pay to come watch me?”

A blush started to spread across Fame’s face. The nervous chattering escaped.  “I, um, maybe? I’ve always wanted to go to show. Are you, um, any good?”

Katya leaned forward, she placed her elbow on the raised counter top and rested her chin onto her unpainted nails. The pose made her breasts even more exposed in her lowcut shirt. 

“I can be good, but I can be so very bad too,” Katya whispered.  Katya pulled her mouth into a pout, Fame squirmed. If Trixie hadn't been so confused, she would have collapsed laughing. 

“Maybe you should tell me where you work,” Fame suggested. Katya stood back up. Fame looked offended for a brief second, before smiling pleasantly.

“Trixie can send you the address and my shift times. What’s your name?”

“It’s um-I-I go by Fame. Miss Fame,” she swallowed. 

The blush had fully spread accross Fame's cheeks, almost matching her lipstick.  Katya grinned, “I'm Yekaterina Petrovna Zamolodchikova.” Fame’s eyebrows rose again. Trixie could  have died at how familiar it was . “Call me Katya.”

Katya finally turned back to Trixie, “you free to go?”

Trixie nodded. They left together. Trixie waved her farewells to Fame, who looked more than a little shocked.

“Do you do that to everybody you meet?” Trixie asked.

With a shrug, Katya responded “everybody that I think’s hot.”

Katya carried on walking. Trixie tried to not ask the question she wanted to ask. She didn’t slip through her lips. It never has.

 


 

 

“Stop looking at me like that,” Katya orders. Trixie’s been watching her whilst she drives.

“Sorry,” Trixie says.

She turns her attention to the road, counting small pieces of litter and flashes of purple flowers. There's a tightness to her throat. Her hands shake in her lap. 

“What’s wrong?” Katya asks. Despite it all, Trixie snorts. Katya smiles, “I mean, except you know-the obvious.”

They end up both smiling. Quickly, Trixie's hands stop quivering. She sighs. “Do you think Fame’ll worry about us?” Trixie asks.

Katya winces. There’s been so much on her head, she’s barely had time to think about her family. Her other friends, this will affect them too. Another consequence. 

“Fame?” Katya asks. Biting her lip, she exhales loudly. She concludes, “maybe? Probably?” and offers Trixie a smile. “But she’ll be okay, she’s got our friends.” Nodding, Katya chuckles to herself. “Violet probably would have done what we’re doing too,” Katya jokes.

She’s surprised when Trixie actually laughs.

“She probably would have killed him on purpose,” Trixie mentions.

They look at eachother for approval before laughing. Out of the corner of her eye, Trixie spots a bunch of pink flowers growing next to red ones. But a second later, they're gone. 

“It’s too true,” Katya giggles.

“A bit sick to think about, but true,” Trixie adds.

Laughter dies down. Katya pokes Trixie's thigh. 

“This is so fucked up,” Katya grins. “My boyfriend’s dead. My best friend killed him. I- I don’t even feel that-”

Trixie waits for her to finish her sentence. She never does. Instead, the sign for the scrap heap appears on the road and Katya follows it.

Chapter Text

Trixie met Violet unexpectedly. Katya didn’t really like to talk about her job. She danced for money. Trixie knows that Katya’s flexible and charming, so she can imagine she’s good at it.

She’d knocked Katya’s apartment door and a black-haired person answered it.

“Hello,” Violet said. She was inspecting her nails. Typical.

Trixie smiled, “um, hi?”

“It’ll be Trixie! Vi! Let her in, we like her!” Katya shouted. Her voice echoed through her apartment. Trixie would guess that she was in her bedroom.

Violet’s mouth slicked into a grin, “oh! You’re Trixie!”

With a nod, Trixie responded, “yes, you are?”

One of Violet’s eyebrows raises, “Violet. I work with Katya,” Violet explained.

Trixie’s heart skipped a beat when she noticed a small hickey on Violet’s neck. It looked new. Trixie’s mind filled with explanations, graphic images of Katya sucking hard on that piece of skin. Then moving on to suck somewhere else. Shaking the thoughts out of her head, she pulls her hands into fists.

She forces a smile. “Nice.”

“Nice? This bitch isn’t nice,” Katya responds. She walks to the door and pulls Trixie in before shutting it. “She’s a bitch.”

Violet rolled her eyes, “original. Never heard that one before. Ever. Katya. Anyway, you remember the number?”

Katya shrugged, “as well as I’m gunna on the night.”

With a laugh, Violet responded, “just improvise. You’re sexy enough to carry it through without trying if the worst happens.”

Katya laughed. With an eyeroll, Violet smiled too.

“Thank you?” Katya asked.

After a sigh, Violet said “I really meant that as a compliment.”

“I mean, you’re getting better?”

After that, Violet had said her goodbyes and left. Katya had turned to Trixie and grinned. Katya’s hair was in a messy bun, a thin layer of sweat covered her forehead. Her lipstick was smudged.

“She seemed-” Trixie starts.

“She is nice. I swear, she’s the best. She just takes time.” Katya grimaced, “a lot of it.”

And after that, they’d chatted until the sun went down, ate dinner and Trixie went home.


 

Trixie is still thinking about their friends when the car stops. 

“I might take my makeup off,” Katya announces as she steps out of Trixie’s car.

“Why?” Trixie asks. She quickly removes all of the possessions that are strewn around her car and places them in her bags. The car is clean, except for fingerprints.

“If I say we’re running from someone with a black eye, it lets them fill in the blanks. Sympathy, you know?”

Trixie flinches, everything could make her flinch if she thought about it.

“That should work. Pity points,” Trixie answers. Attempting to brush off the thoughts, she says “you know, you’re far too good at the manipulation stuff.”

Katya laughs, she retrieves a makeup wipe from Trixie’s bag and pats gently at the blue skin surrounding her eye.

“I’ve spent enough time in the back streets to know how to handle them,” Katya answers.

Trixie nods, “it’s useful now at least.”

Katya shrugs. The skin on her face is so many contrasting colours. Trixie wants to scream.

Trying to shrug away thoughts, Katya murmurs  “I got out of them.”

“Proud of you,” Trixie responds. She regrets the words immediately. The last thing Katya needs is to be condescended.

Katya stares at her. The bruises, the redness, the rawness of her body, it feels too fake to smile.

“I’m proud of some of it,” Katya says. With a loud exhale, she carries on, “not being a dancer anymore was cool. Being less of a fucking addict was cool too. I don’t- I don’t miss some of the things I did to get drugs,” Katya shivers. “I don’t miss being alone, crawling out of my skin at three in the morning-”

“You could have called me,” Trixie interjects.

There’s pity in Katya’s eyes when she looks at Trixie.

“It was harder than that. I should have, but it was difficult. I did a few times though.”

Trixie nods in response. She remembers some of those phone calls. Where she’d answer in the early hours of the morning, know exactly what was going on, and proceed to talk about whatever random subject Katya decided to distract them with until Katya fell asleep. They’d be fond memories if Katya hadn’t cried throughout most of them.

The two of them begin their walk to the building of the heap.

“You’re a good yoga instructor,” Trixie responds.

Katya snorts, “I was. That’s the past now, I guess.”

Trixie frowns, a lump in her throat. All of Katya’s hard work has been ruined, Trixie can’t help but feel guilty. The two of them walk in silence to the main building.

 


 

Katya couldn’t feel her feet as they carried her. This was what the high always felt like. Her body didn’t belong to her anymore. She was free. Finally.

She’d performed for the last time a few hours before. Rent was paid this month. She didn’t need to eat. The thinner she was, the more money she could make, the more of the freedom she could have.

The dealer used to let her have it for free if she’d dance for him in private. So she did it. And he gave it to her. And she used dance some more just to prove how grateful she was. He stopped giving it to her for free after she slept with him. He was done with her then. It was a stupid mistake. But oh well.

She swore she wouldn’t do this again. But she did. She didn’t stop until her mother asked her too. And then it was a battle. A hard, long, reluctant, painful, sweaty, aching battle.

Katya thought she could hear music, and considered phoning someone to tell them about it. Violet’s in the club working still. She wouldn’t appreciate it. Trixie. Trixie doesn’t know. Trixie wouldn’t have appreciated it.

The music turned into a scream, and Katya’s body ignored it as she carried on her walk home.

 


 

 

“You two looking for something?”

The voice makes Trixie jump. She whips around. There’s a short woman, chewing hard on a piece of gum. She has a slanted grin on her face. Her skin is tanned, and she is muscular. Trixie’s heart beats hard.

“Um, yes?” Trixie starts.

“A car, if you have one that we can use,” Katya carries on. The woman looks at Katya, and winces at the sight. The stranger’s face softens.

“We, um, got sent here by Needles?” Trixie finishes.

She sighs, “fucking Sharon.”

Katya smiles hopefully. Trixie’s heart races in her chest.

“Can you help us?” Katya asks.

There’s a moment of pause in the stranger. She raises an eyebrow, and nods.  “Probably. This O’Hara’s Scrap Yard. If Sharon didn’t mention. I’m Phi Phi.”

“Hi,” Trixie interjects. Katya rolls her eyes at her friend.

Phi Phi raises an eyebrow at her before carrying on, “I don’t do licenses or anything. You’ll get the car, if there’s a decent one you can find. Give me the cash. Then you can go on your merry-fucking-way.”

Trixie and Katya exchange a look of relief.  “That’s exactly what we need,” Katya responds.

Slowly, Phi Phi looks Katya up and down. “I’d assumed so, Honey.” Phi Phi grits her teeth, “whoever hurt you, deserves to be hurt three times as badly.” Phi Phi spits out the words. Katya eyebrows raise.

“If you don’t tell anyone we came here, and just let us go with a new car, you’d hurt him,” Katya says. The pain in Trixie’s heart twists. With a smile on her face, Phi Phi nods.

“Follow me,” Phi Phi finishes.

She turns and walks into the grounds. Trixie and Katya exchange a look before doing as she ordered.

 


 

 

Phi Phi finds them an off-road truck.

“It’ll get you guys wherever you’re going,” she assures.

Trixie grins at Phi Phi whilst Katya investigates the car. “How much?” Trixie asks.

“$150?” Phi Phi offers. “It’s worth probably about $300, I fixed her up about a month ago. I was only going to sell her on.”

“$125?” Katya asks.

With a grin, Phi Phi says “I’ll do it for $140, because I’m rooting for you.”

Katya walks to the two of them, “why are you rooting for us?”

Phi Phi’s face turns to stone, “because you look like you’ve been to hell and back. And I’ve been there too.”

Katya stops. Phi Phi and Katya hold eye contact for a long moment. Looking on, Trixie doesn’t know what to make of it.

“Thank you,” Katya finally says.

Phi Phi nods, “you won’t get that anywhere else. Though, you need to do your insurance and shit somewhere else.” Phi Phi scratches the back of her head, “I’m not a fucking sleezy salesman. I just do mechanics, which I’m good at. Y’know?”

Trixie nods, “We’ll take it.”

 


 

Leaving Phi Phi with the money, Katya drives the truck out. The drive is smooth-ish. Steering is a little difficult. But it moves. It’ll get them to Miami, and they hopefully won’t get caught in the process.

Smiling manically, Katya shouts “how great was that! We didn’t even have to do anything illegal!”

Running around in a circle, Katya jumps up and down. She’s almost carefree for a second. There’s only a finish to this action when she stops and grins at Trixie.

Trixie smiles back at her. Katya’s bruises are driving her up the wall. Each one of those is partly Trixie’s fault. This is all Trixie’s fault. “Yeah,” Trixie agrees.

They fall into silence for the few moments it takes to drive out of the scrap yard.

“Okay, Trixie, we’re going to have to drive in an opposite direction for a couple hours,” Katya mentions.

From the seat beside her, Trixie frowns, “why?”

“Because we’re going to have to get rid of your actual car,” Katya points out.

Nodding her head, Trixie whispers “oh, of course. Yeah.”

They make eye contact. Katya raises an eyebrow and Trixie shakes the question away.

Katya puts her hand on Trixie’s shoulder, “I trust you can drive your car, yeah? I’ll drive this one.”

Eyes widening, her heart starts to beat harder in her chest, “wait, are we going to have to split up?”

Katya shakes her head, “I’ll drive with you the whole way.” Offering Trixie a smile, Katya puts a hand on Trixie’s shoulder, “it’ll be okay. Probably.”

Pulling up besides Trixie’s car, they transfer the bags into the truck. There’s a point where Trixie’s fingertips graze the back of Katya’s hand. After finishing, they stare at eachother.

Trixie opens her arms, Katya leans in for a hug.

“Talk in an hour or two,” Katya says.

Trixie nods.

 


 

Trixie’s drive is stressful. She plays the radio loudly, more to blot out her thoughts than to actually take any enjoyment. She watches Katya’s car carefully and precisely.

This mess is starting to creep up on her again. She hadn’t thought about Katya’s job. Katya loves what she does. She won’t get to do that again. No more teaching. More back streets. She’s made Katya regress. She knows Katya is ashamed of what she did, she never even talked about it before him, and she doesn’t want to be the reason she’ll go back to it. But she is.

Trixie doesn’t get to go to cosmetology. She doesn’t deserve to get better at her art. She doesn’t deserve freedom, Miami, Katya. Anything.

This mess is her fault. She didn’t help Katya earlier. She didn’t help Katya at all. She picked up that knife. She got involved, when she should have called the police. She left him on the ground when she should have called an ambulance. Her fault. Her fault. Her fault. She’s fucking damned them both.

She’d bought this car when she moved to New York. She’d been judged for it, there’s not much point of having a car in the city. Trixie loved the independence. It was worth the expense to her.

She’s leaving her freedom on a road somewhere. It almost makes her sadder. Almost makes her want to cry, so she does. She drives on anyway.

 


 

 

Katya doesn’t like thinking. She’s never liked it. That’s probably the route of most of her problem. If she thinks about it, she drank to quiet her head, she did drugs to quiet her head. Every dirty thing Katya’s done is because she doesn’t like the sound of her own thoughts.

Distraction. She watches Trixie drive behind her. Katya’s gotta decide where to leave the car. A park? A park seems good. Somewhere they won’t find it for a while. Somewhere without security so they don’t get this car’s number plate too. She’ll aim for a national park. Big, no cameras. Then, they drive to Miami.

Katya will sort them out. They got lucky today in finding Sharon. They’ll get lucky again.

She should have killed him herself.

 


 

 

They end up driving for exactly 78 minutes in the wrong direction. Katya’s been counting. Something to distract herself with.

There’s been nobody else for miles. If they stop soon, they should be able to make it to Philadelphia today.

Katya is driving through a park. There’s trees lining the road. Trees tall enough to pierce the sky. Shades of green layer on top of eachother. It’s the raw kind of beautiful. If Katya dumps the car here, it’ll get found in a day or two. They’ll be gone by then.

Katya signals that she’s pulling over, Trixie copies her after a few seconds. Turning the engine off, Katya steps out the car. She waits for Trixie. “Where the fuck are we?” Trixie asks.

The door slams behind her as she steps out the car and walks to Katya. Katya frowns at her. Red patches cover her face.

“Have you been crying?”

Trixie shrugs in response. She looks up, “this is pretty.”

Katya stares at Trixie before nodding, allowing the subject to be changed “it is.”

“I think I’m gunna miss my car,” Trixie says. She looks back at Katya.

The world is so quiet. It’s a small break. It’s lovely.

Frowning, Katya asks, “why?”

“Just am,”  Trixie confirms. She shrugs, “I’ve always been emotional over little things. It’s just the way I am. My mom held me in her arms for the first time and whispered ‘this is Beatrix and she’s going to be the world’s littlest bitch’ and that’s what happened. We’ve got to keep going though.”

“Gotta keep truckin’,” Katya responds. The look on Trixie’s face is priceless, a small smile which spreads to her eyes.

“Can we talk about how lucky we got there?” Trixie asks. She’s content to stay here for a while. Even if Katya is looking around them every few seconds, checking their surroundings.

Katya’s mouth falls open, she nods ecstatically “Right! I never thought we’d find a car! It’s been driving smoothly too.”

“I bet it breaks down now,” Trixie jokes.

Katya shakes her head, smiling anyway “don’t even joke about that.”

“We’ll be fine,” Trixie says.

Trixie allows herself one last wistful look on the life she knew, the car she's driven for years, before letting it go. 

 


 

 

Katya’s stopped thinking. Her mind is full of Trixie’s laughter.

“Say goodbye to your car!” Katya shouts as she turns the engine.

“Goodbye to your car!”

Trixie giggles. Katya rolls her eyes and drives back the way they came.

Chapter Text

Trixie’s been rattling off words for the last hour. The drive has been smooth and unbothered. Katya’s almost relaxed. If they weren’t on the run, she’d be completely at ease.

“What’s your favourite memory you have of the two of us?” Trixie asks.

Katya whistles in response, “good memory? Hmm, There’s a not a lot of them.”

“Fuck off,” Trixie laughs. “We’ve had great times.”

With a smile, Katya agrees, “you’re right. We have.”

Trixie flicks Katya’s arm. Katya winces. Trixie doesn’t notice.

“So, like, you have to have a favourite?” Trixie prods. “C’mon, one favourite?”

Katya exhales, “probably my first yoga class?”

Trixie squeals, Katya laughs. “When we all turned up and you didn’t expect us to? I bought yoga pants for that and everything!”

Shaking her head, Katya smiles, “god, I’m gunna miss that job. I don’t think Fame shut up for that entire session.”

Trixie snorts, “she has a lot of feelings.” Smirking, Trixie carries on, “she probably just liked seeing you in your yoga pants.”

Katya feels her face turn red, “she did not.”

Trixie cackles, “you were so hitting on her when you first met her though.”

Katya hisses, “yeah. I was.” She admits through gritted teeth. “The truth though, I’m pretty sure I was hitting on all of you when I met you.”

Trixie fakes a gasp, “even me? A good girl from the-”

“-Yes. You.”

The world feels warmer, for just a second. Trixie smiles. “I mean, I am a catch. I’m a sarcastic, snarky mess with a lot of trust issues.” Trixie winks, “you dodged a bullet there.”

Katya laughs, “you know you’re better than that.”

“Am I though?” Trixie jokes. “Really?”

Katya’s face drops, “you’re far too good for me.”

Sensing the tone change, Trixie stops laughing. The world feels cold again. Gritting her teeth, she murmurs.  “I killed someone Katya. Am I really worthy of anything?”

Looking over at her best friend, Katya gets goosebumps. She could throw up. Cry. “I love you so much, Trix. You’re my best friend. But, I-He-I loved him too. Maybe I’m not the best person to talk to about worth. I thought I didn’t deserve him, I know I don’t deserve you. You don’t deserve to feel like this. I ruined you. I loved him,” Katya whispers. Trixie’s mouth falls open.

“Katya, I’m-”

“-Loved. Past. I think? I-He-He hadn’t loved me right in such a long time Trixie. The good moments with him were always so so good.” Katya swallows away the lump in her throat. She’s inches away from tears, “I was willing to ignore it. I never cared about myself enough to do anything right for me. All I’ve ever been able to think of whenever somebody says they might like me is my mistakes. My meth addict years. I fucked over so many friends, stole money off them for drugs. I slept with a dealer once for a hit? Y’know, that’s low. I’ve stolen from stores, I’ve begged on the streets. That was a horrible day. I’ve fucked up so many things. I know you’re better than me. You wouldn’t steal. I fucked up so many times that I became a fuck up. And I fucked you up because I was too selfish to hurt someone I-I-I started to need to make me feel like I’m better than I actually am,” Katya’s words choke out into nothing. There’s a deep sick feeling in her stomach.

“-Katya, you don’t have to-”

“-I don’t want to talk anymore. I go on and on about my dark past, my feelings. I don’t want to talk anymore. I can’t.” Katya declares. She pushes down on the accelerator. The world beside them flies past.

Trixie pulls her hands into fists. Gritting her teeth, she responds, “we have to talk at some point Katya.”

Katya shakes her head and says nothing more.

 


 

Tricks (11:10): You nervous? x

Russian Whore (11:10): No. I am completely fine. Completely. Not panicking. Not. At. All. I am the epitome of positive mental states. Fine. Majestic. A strong woman, capable, cunning. Charismatic. A-okay. The embodiment of good vibes.

Russian Whore (11:12): (Bring me death please) x

Trixie laughed as she looked up from her phone. Katya had been nervous for this first individual session for weeks.

“She okay?” Violet asked. They were walking in time with each other down to the studio.

Fame interrupted, “Katya’s good at this, right? I mean, I’ve not really met her enough times to ask. She seems lovely though. I guess she wouldn’t be both of your friends if she wasn’t nice.”

Violet raised an eyebrow at Trixie. Trixie shrugged.

“She’s nice Fame,” Trixie confirmed. “You know her well enough to know that.”

“Oh good. Random question, does she like me? Because she’s got that kind of air to her where it’s hard to tell. I’d like her to like me. That’d be brilliant, how can I make her like me?” Fame asked.

“Is she okay?” Violet asked again. Trixie ignored Fame.

“She’s nervous,” Trixie confirms.

Violet snorts, “I’ve seen her take her clothes off in front of complete strangers millions of times. She’s nervous for this?”

“Millions of times?” Fame interrupted.

Violet turns to talk to Fame, “have we met?”

Trixie barely listened to them speak. She was more preoccupied with getting to the studio in time. Katya didn’t even know they were coming.

“Miss Fame? How do you have a name more suited to my job than me?”

Fame blushed, “what’s your profession?”

“I strip. Though, I do it kinda classily.”

Laughing, Fame replied, “so you’re saying I sound like a stripper? Is that kind? Sorry,”

Violet played with her own hair, “intended so.”

They’d made it to the studio with five minutes to spare. Trixie went to the desk to talk to the receptionist and pay their fee.

As if on queue, Katya walked out. She was biting her nails, and jumping lightly on the spot.

“Ginger, I don’t know if I can- Trixie!” Trixie had barely a second to prepare herself for her best friend throwing herself into her arms. “Oh my god! You came! You came!”

“Heya Katya,” Trixie smiled.

The two of them embraced in the middle of the reception. Katya rocking the two of them back and forth.

“I’m here too y’know” Violet added.

“And me, if you remember me. It’s cool if you don’t. I’m sorry I-”

“Violet! Fame!” Katya hugged them each for a second.

For the first time, Trixie had seen Violet’s cool exterior melt away as she hugged Katya. She’d smiled lightly and rubbed a small circle onto Katya’s back.

Ginger grinned at them, “what were you saying Katya?”

Katya looked at her three friends in turn.

“Nevermind. I’m good.”

 


 

 

The drive is awkward. Katya wishes she knew how to fix these things. It’s just fuck up after fuck up, isn’t it?

“Do you want to drive through the night? Or do you want to find a motel?” Katya asks. Chewing on her lip, she adds “up to you. You’re in charge of this magic carpet ride.” Trixie shrugs in the seat next to her. “Come on, Trixie. Please,” Katya begs.

Trixie sighs. “I wouldn’t mind a shower to be honest. Motel?”

Katya nods, “We’re nearly past Philadelphia. There should be places around. At least Jersey’s out the way now.” Trixie doesn’t acknowledge Katya’s words. She just looks straight ahead into the dark streets. Rolling her fingernails across the steering wheel, Katya hears the rhythmic noise they make. “God, I could use a fucking cigarette,” Katya carries on. “I bought like, five lighters with me and I keep forgetting to pick any up.” Katya sighs, “I’m such a fucking-"

She gives up. 

Chapter Text

After getting more gas for the truck, Katya finds a motel in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Trixie never realized how much of the world was suburban before. It’s fucking dull. The repetation of boxed detached house after detached house. The occasional highstreet. When she first moved, she never thought she could adjust to the city. Now, she misses it.

The engine turns off. All Katya can hear is the distant sound of an ambulance. The motel isn’t busy, but it’s not empty. Lights are scattered throughout the rooms, showing that there’s some activity. This is off the beaten track to say the least.

“How many people must come to this place to have affairs?” Trixie says. It takes her a second to realize she said it out loud.

With a shrug, Katya responds, “probably enough to make rooms cheap.”

 


 

 

A room with two beds costs about 40 dollars. It is cheap. That's not a bad thing. 

They have 450 dollars left. Katya tries not to panic. They just need fuel to get them to Miami. This might be the last night they still in a motel. They’ll find some sort of work in Miami. Waitressing? Dancing again? Worse? She never had to resort to becoming an escort, but she’s known girls that have. Katya never thought she was strong enough to handle it.

Even if it could be necessary, Katya shivers at the thought of going back to dancing. Drugs and the alcohol so readily available again. The hungry eyes. She’ll do anything to fight against those eyes becoming her own again. But, maybe they always have been.

Trixie stayed in the car. Katya flashes the keys at her. With a nod, Trixie grabs their bags and follows.

 


 

 

This room is slightly smaller than their last one. There’s an ensuite, and a TV. A small stationary kit rests on the dresser, a pair of scissors accompany it. Each wall is painted a fading yellow. It's utterly forgettable. 

“It’ll do,” Katya declares. Trixie chucks the bags onto a bed. Her face has fallen, she’s barely acknowledging Katya’s existence. She grabs a fresh set of clothes and retreats to the bathroom. Slamming the door behind her, Trixie goes in. Katya watches. She’s still until she hears the shower turn on.

Snapping out of it, she sits down on the bed and thinks. She doesn’t want to turn on the TV, there’s too much noise in that. There’s not a book available she can read that isn’t the fucking holy bible. So, what can she do? Alone with her thoughts, oh god.

Trixie’s right. They do have to talk eventually. Even if it’s not right now.

She did love him. When they first met, that is. Katya swears that he treated her decently. He used to be funny, and sweet. He’d tell Katya that she was gorgeous, and clever, and sexy. The life Katya has lived hasn’t been easy, she’s found people that have made it more tolerable, made her feel normal. Violet was one, her family have been, Trixie is. He became didn’t make her feel normal. He made her feel special.

Then it all slowly went to shit. As does everything in Katya’s life. It was little things, snide comments and jealousy. Then it was the bigger things that Katya doesn’t want to think about, but can’t escape. Katya doesn’t want to fucking talk about because then she has to relive it, and see Trixie’s face.

Why do people talk? Why can’t everyone just shut up and carry on despite the pain? Wouldn’t everybody be happier if they weren’t asked about their problems and they could just ignore it all? Everybody could just stop thinking. There’d be no doubt. Katya would be happier. Trixie won’t understand that he loved her. She never doubted for a moment that he loved her. Or at least, he tried to. Katya can feel that love all over her, inside her, in her rib cage. It's digging into her heart. It became poison. She became poison too.

The shower turns off. Katya listens for Trixie’s movements. The hatred she feels towards herself when she’s disappointed that Trixie emerges clothed is overwhelming. Shaking her head,  Katya turns on the TV.

“Anything good on?” Trixie asks. Watching Trixie as she moves to sit on the end of the other bed, she flicks through channels. She flips to the weather. The TV faces the two of them.

“The news?” Trixie complains. She lays back on her bed.

“Need to check it,” Katya says, Trixie doesn’t contest it.

 


 

After a short while, Raja, the regular presenter, brings up their case.

“More details have been released related to the murder in Brooklyn. The NYPD  are looking for the partner of the victim, Yekaterina Zamolodchikova, and a close friend Trixie Mattel. It is believed that Yekaterina, who often goes by Katya, may have been the last person to see him alive.”

Trixie’s mouth falls open, feeling like she’s been punched in the stomach. Katya looks blankly ahead.

Pictures of Katya and Trixie are shown. Trixie doesn’t even hear the words spoken. Their details, she thinks, are included.

‘We will now go to our anchor on the scene Raven-’

The screen cuts to Raven standing outside Katya’s flat. She talks to the camera. There’s police tape around the doors.

“Is that-”

At the side of the frame, Fame, Pearl, Ginger, Violet, Max and Kim are visible. Fame is crying, and Violet has her in an embrace. Pearl is rubbing circles onto Fame’s back. There’s a tissue clasped in Ginger’s hand, the angle of the shot just giving them enough definition to make it out. Kim is standing with a hand to her mouth, an animated Max talks to her.

It takes a second for the picture to sink in.

“They’re all okay,” Katya whispers.

Fame buries her face into Violet’s shoulder. The camera clocks just enough of Violet’s face for Katya to be able to see the ‘look’. Katya’s seen it the dozens of times that men would grab at her, when her design portfolio was rejected yet again, when rent couldn’t be made on time. The anger. The rejection. Violet disconnects, and her jaw sets. Violet is blank, and it is Katya’s fault.

Trixie’s seen that hopelessness in Fame. Trixie’s seen the feeling every time that a partner dumped her, or somebody wouldn’t call back. Trixie’s seen the hopelessness when Fame has to sit around and watch somebody she loves get hurt. The pain. The weakness. She wears her emotions on her sleeve, and she is devastated. Trixie blames herself.

“They think we did it,” Trixie murmurs.

Katya’s world crumbles even further.

Eventually, the broadcast moves on to the next topic and their friends disappear. Katya reaches out, grabs the remote and turns off the TV. Seconds of silence tick by. Katya coughs. “I guess. We, um, have to start being more careful now,” Katya says. “We might have to dye our hair? Or cut it? Y’know, that might set them off our trail. I always did want to dye my hair. Never did though.” Katya sighs, she nods once to herself, “we should do that.” She looks over to Trixie, “you need to eat too. Fuck, I need to eat. You want to come with me or not?”

More silence. Trixie doesn’t look at Katya. Her skin has paled, her lips pulled into a tight line. Her heart beats hard in her chest. 

“No, I don’t want to.” Trixie states. “Yekaterina, I’ve had enough.”

The breath in Trixie’s lungs is trapped. Everything inside of her wants to collapse. This is real. This whole thing is real.

“What?” Katya asks. Her fingers clasp at the sheets beneath her fingers.

Trixie stands up. A loud exhale is followed by Trixie turning to look at Katya.

Trixie can’t peel her eyes away from the bruises that are covering Katya. They’re turning yellow.

“I can’t-we- they- our friends. We’re hurting our friends. Fucking, Violet thinks we’re cold blooded murderers. Can you imagine how Fame’s coping with this? At least she’ll fucking talk about it. Pearl’ll keep it all in. Nobody wants her too, but she’ll feel like she has to show fucking strength. That’s just Pearl,” Trixie breathes. “My mom will see that. Your mama will. My siblings, your siblings. Our families are going to think that we’re killers,” Trixie hisses.

Katya looks to the ground, the words are like another hit to the chest.

“There’s nothing we can do about that,” Katya murmurs. She bites her fingernails, “We need to keep going. They’d understand.”

Trixie’s eyebrows raise. Her mouth drops. Shaking her head, she shouts, “Really? Nothing? Still? Not a single emotion? Christ, all you’ve done is cry once!”

Katya flinches, “Please don’t-”

Nearly screaming, Trixie carries on, “Don’t what? Ask questions? I’m fucking terrified Katya. I’m scared! This is all my fault and you know it, now will you fucking talk to me! I’ve ruined our lives and you won’t even tell me how you feel about it! Talk! You need to let it out and maybe even feel better! I can't keep going like this! Fucking say, fucking anything Katya! Hate me! Please!”

“Please stop shouting,” Katya whispers.  Katya lifts her legs up onto the bed and curls into a ball. She rocks slightly.

The realization creeps across Trixie’s body. The weight in her stomach becomes heavier. A hand raises to cover her mouth. Katya carries on rocking. Her senses in overdrive. Memories flood her head. She bites her fingernails again, they’re sore.

“Katya-”

“Look, I’m sorry. I’ll be better,” Katya breathes. Each word digs under Trixie’s skin. “Just give me time.”

Katy rests her forehead on her knees.  The room is cold. Trixie’s hands are shaking, she wants to cry. How could she do that? Quickly, she grabs her purse and leaves the room.

 


 

Katya’s head is filled with stuff. The door slams, and she flinches. She flinches so hard she nearly falls out of the damn bed.

Why does noise hurt her like this? Why did he hurt her? What did she do wrong?

The tears start to escape. Trixie too. She’s upset Trixie too. She fucking loves Trixie, she can’t lose her too. What if she never comes back? She needs Trixie. Trixie knows that, right?

Katya would deserve it for being so weak. So, so weak. Why can’t she be normal like the rest of the world? Katya has dragged everybody she loves through all kinds of hell. They’ve helped her every time. Trixie doesn’t deserve this.

Katya’s whole body hurts so much. The ache is unbelieveable.

She stands up and walks to the bathroom. She’s filthy. This is her fault. He’s dead because of her. He used to touch her and he never will again. Trixie’s life, the amazing one that she built for herself, is ruined. All because Katya didn’t know how to leave someone. All because Katya couldn’t break his heart. His heart isn’t even beating anymore. Mistake number two million.

She turns on the shower and avoids looking at herself in the mirror. She really tries to not do it, of course she fails. She fails everything.

The bruise on her eye is fading slightly She can’t help remembering that hit. The words. The blackout. The blood. Trixie’s tears at what she did. She doesn’t think for a second that Trixie would have done it on purpose. It isn’t in Trixie’s nature, and how is Katya worth that? How is Katya worth a betrayal of a moral compass? Trixie’s a fucking vegetarian, and now she’s got human blood on her hands.

Katya isn’t worth anything.

She used to look at herself in the mirror and like what she saw.

 


 

 

Katya stood in front of the mirror in their bedroom. She was in a tank top and underwear. The skin on show is smooth. Each muscle is defined, she looks strong. She heard that low rumble of a laugh behind her, and she grinned.

“Come to here Katya,” he ordered. She could hear the bedsprings move as he stood up. She kept looking in the mirror. He came up behind her, and kissed her neck tenderly. “Gorgeous.”

She’d smiled in response, and he’d smiled back. He’d held her hand and lead her to their bed.

 


 

 

Katya stood in front of the mirror months later. She was wearing the underwear he’d bought her. It didn’t fit her right anymore. Her ribs had become more prominent.

He walked into the room, analysed her, and grinned.

Approaching her, he kissed her neck again. He lowered a hand to her thighs, and pinched at the skin. “You should try and lose this weight Katya,” he mentioned.

She nodded, “I will do.”

He carried on smiling; it was best for both of them if he did that. He grabbed her wrist and pulled her to his bed.

 


 

 

What a joke.

She could vomit when she looks at her face in the motel mirror. She doesn’t think she’s actually got anything properly in her to throw up. Last time she ate was when Trixie forced her to, the day before. Trixie’s been snacking the whole time, Katya can’t bring herself to. She wants to eat. She only ever didn’t for him. She wanted to be the best version of herself, for him.  

Gazing at her feet, Katya strips. She can feel his hands all over her. Grabbing her, stroking her.

Naked, she steps into the shower. She grabs the bar of soap and lathers it. She scrubs. Every inch of skin she can find, she claws at. She uses her nails. Get him off her. She’s not clean. Her bruises scream when she rubs them, but they are where she’s filthiest.

She doesn’t know when she starts sitting on the shower floor. It’s only when she looks up and the water enters her mouth that she is conscious of it.

She’s still not clean. Will she ever be?

Her hair tickles her shoulders, and she remembers more.

 


 

 

She was next to him in bed, and he stroked through her hair.

“This is one of the most beautiful things about you. I love your hair,” he said that so many times. This was the first time that Katya ever felt wrong about it. “I love that you’re mine.”

 


 

 

His. His?

She doesn’t want to belong to him anymore. She’ll belong to her mother, Trixie, Satan, her friends. Anybody but him. But he’s the one she stinks of. He’s the one she can taste if she thinks about it. Feel the phantom of. Every inch of herself was dissected and put back together again by him.

The hair isn’t hers. The hair isn’t her anymore.

She turns off the shower, grabs a towel and wraps it around herself. Opening the bathroom door, she steps into the bedroom. It’s gotten darker. She leaves the door open and switches on the light.

Where is it?

She spots the stationary kit. The scissors are blunt, they’ll do. They’ll end this pain, she won’t be his anymore. She snatches them, and runs into the bathroom.

The mirror reflects her once more. The hair drips. She drops the towel and leans over the sink. The hair is long and covers most of her chest.

She cuts herself free.

 


 

 

Trixie can’t believe herself. How could she? Katya didn’t deserve that.

So much guilt, such little time.

The whole world is watching her. It’s real. If she hears a siren, that could be it. They’ll find her. They’ll find Katya. She’s lucky that she threw on shoes that she can run in before sitting down to watch TV. At least in her last defence, she can flee. No dignity, just jogging.

There’s a small store across the road from her. Trixie doesn’t know how long she’s been walking for. She thinks she’s walked off the initial anger at Katya’s anger, and is left with only remorse.

She enters the store, checking lightly for cameras. She doesn’t spot any obvious ones. She collects some food, all this store bought food is probably crappy for their health but Trixie can’t say that’s at the top of her priority list. There’s a small range of beauty products, no hair dye is available. They can do that tomorrow. When she reaches the counter to pay, she asks for a pack of their cheapest cigarettes and a lighter.  She considers buying a beer, but she decides against it. That’s not fair to Katya.

Katya. Katya. Katya.

God, Trixie fucked up. Of course Katya doesn’t want to talk. In the same scenario, Trixie can’t imagine she’d want to. She’d probably want to talk to Katya though. Katya makes most things better. There’s nobody else Trixie can think of that she’d rather be put through this with. Nobody else Trixie would rather start a new life with.

It’s like Katya’s in all of her thoughts. It’s probably due to their situation. Definitely due to their situation. That’s not to say she wasn’t important to her before . She’s been her best friend for years. Years. Because Katya’s funny, and she cares so completely. Not because of this horrible life they’re living. She’s witty, and charming; intelligent and crazy. There’s very few people in Trixie’s life that are able to constantly surprise her, Katya is one of them.

They’ve been through so much together. All of this time, Katya’s been one of the best parts of Trixie’s life. There’s nobody else like her.

Trixie stops walking.

Maybe everything’s been about Katya for longer than she’d like to admit.

Chapter Text

Trixie finds a bench and sits on it. Looking up at the moon, she considers it.

Does she have feelings for Katya? It seems like she does. Objectively, that is.

If she thinks about it logically, she sees her own jealous behaviour. How she acted around Fame when Trixie thought Fame would stand even a small chance with Katya. How Trixie felt whenever Katya went home with someone that wasn’t her at the end of a night. How Trixie felt when Katya started dating him.

Him. If Trixie has feelings for Katya, what does that make what Trixie did to him into? Did she kill him out of envy? Envy? Did that come into it? Does this make Trixie into even more of a monster? Having feelings for your best friend, who’s been hurt for god knows how long, is pretty fucking disgusting.

Why didn’t Trixie notice? She got so fucking preoccupied with her own self that she didn’t even notice that her best friend was getting abused. She’s a fucking horrible friend, she doesn’t deserve anything.

Trixie’s a mess. It’s not a hard thing to assume, but she truly is.

She stands up and walks back to the motel. She prays that she can fix this.

 


 

“Katya?” Trixie asks. She knocks the door, having forgotten to bring a key. She’d double checked that the truck was still there. Katya should still be here. The lights on.

There’s not a response; dread starts to seep into Trixie’s bones.

“Katya!” Trixie repeated. She bangs against the door, concern overriding reason.

Is she gone? Has she run? Did the police find her? Is she dead? Will she see Katya again? Can she carry on living without Katya? Will Katya be okay without her?

The door unlocks. It slowly opens. Trixie can’t ignore the relief she feels. Pushing against the door, she enters the room.

“I-” Trixie starts.

Her mouth drops when she sees Katya properly.  Katya’s long hair has been cut to about her shoulders. It’s uneven. Her skin is red, her hair is still wet. Katya only has a shirt and underwear on. There’s a blank look on Katya’s face. Trixie’s not even sure what’s grabbing her attention the most.

“It’s bad. Isn’t it?” Katya asks. Her eyes are pinned to the floor.

Using one finger, Trixie tilts Katya’s chin up so they’re face to face. Finally, something Trixie can fix.

“Nothing I can’t mend?” she reassures, nervousness obvious in her voice.

Katya swallows.

“I’m sorry for-” Katya starts.

“Don’t be sorry. You have nothing to be sorry for,” Trixie orders. Trixie’s reclaimed her hands, but they remain inches apart.

“I am sorry though,” Katya says. It’s accompanied by a pained smile.

Trixie smiles back, “For what?”

“For dragging you into this. I mean, you had so much to look forward to. I ruined that. I’m sorry.”

Shock registers before anything else. Her smile melts away.  Trixie takes Katya’s hand. “You, matter more to me than all of that. If I had to choose between you and the world, I’d choose you.” Trixie laughs. “That scares me. But I’d choose you.” The words do something wild to Katya. She doesn’t know what it is. They promote a mix of excitement and dread in her. Before Katya can even think of a response, Trixie speaks again, “you used scissors right?”

Katya’s mind jumps to the obvious joke, but she doesn’t make it. Trixie uses her free hand and curls a lock of Katya’s hair through her fingers. Katya nods.

“They’re in the bathroom.”

Trixie nods. Slowly, she interlaces her fingers with Katya’s and Katya leads them to the bathroom.

 


 

Trixie places Katya on the ground. One of the best things about growing up the way she did, and working as a stylist, is that she got pretty good with hair. She concentrates on getting it to look decent and only that. Katya’s got the face for this, she’s got the face for anything really.

The way Katya smells is overwhelming Trixie. Her breath, her skin, still pinker than it should be, her pale legs with blue and yellow patches on show make her feel so many things.

God, Trixie wants to run away. Trixie also wants to never be away from Katya again.

She makes the last snip, and chucks Katya’s hair into the bathroom bin. Carefully, she guides Katya’s face around to make sure that the cutting is solid. It is.

“Done,” Trixie declares.

Katya jumps at the sudden speech, “Oh.”

Trixie’s hand falls away from Katya. She stays knelt on the ground whilst Katya stands up and looks in the mirror. The look on Katya’s face is captivating. She watches Katya’s mouth mold into a smile.

“It’s not that good,” Trixie jokes.

Turning to look down at her, Katya beams, “it’s perfect. You wouldn’t understand why, but it’s- it’s, so, perfect.”

Without hesitation, Trixie reaches up to hold Katya’s hand. The touch makes Katya jump, but she eases into it. Trixie on her knees, Katya looking down. The yellow light on both of their faces.

“Help me understand?” Trixie asks.

There’s a long moment of quiet, the two of them stare at eachother. Trixie can hear Katya’s breaths.

Could she understand? Could anybody ever understand what happened to Katya? Is it even possible?

Katya swallows, “okay.”

A small smile forms on Trixie’s face, “Really?”

Katya tries to pull Trixie to her feet, Trixie pushes herself up. The rise is slightly too powerful, she loses balance for a second. She ends up barely an inch away from Katya’s face. Katya laughs. Trixie smiles as she takes a step back, her heart beats hard in her chest.

“Sure,” Katya says.

 


 

 

It’s still that little bit awkward. Trixie doesn’t want to push her. Katya doesn’t want Trixie to leave again.

They’re sat on Katya’s bed. Each of them with their back against the pillows, legs laid out on top of the sheets. Katya lead them there. It’s going to be a long talk, Katya knows that. What’s the point in keeping secrets? Even if they are sour to discuss. She thinks she’s reached the point where the words hurt to keep inside. They face each other. Katya hasn’t found an excuse to let go of her hand.

“You were going to tell me about your hair.” Trixie prompts.

A second later, Trixie can’t tell if she regrets the words. There’s a deep feeling of foreboding in her chest. It’s like the storm is finally approaching. Or rather, the storm has reached the peak.

“Maybe it’s not as complex as I made it sound,” Katya concludes. Her breaths are shaking out of her chest.

With a snort, Trixie responds “You have a complex. Talk to me.”

Chuckling, Katya answers, “he really liked my hair. It felt like it belonged to him. I don’t belong to him. It’s my fucking hair.”

There’s a moment of quiet whilst Trixie takes it in. She nods to herself and squeezes Katya’s hand.  “You never belonged to him,” Trixie responds.

Katya shrugs, “it felt like it, in the last few months anyway.” The room feels cold, Trixie’s palm burns. “He wasn’t always like it, y’know? I was smart, I-I would have left.”

Katya’s voice cracks. Trixie rubs at Katya’s hand with her thumb.  “Shush, I know you are. You are smart.”

Katya grimaces at Trixie. There’s a lump in her throat.

“I’m not smart. I’m stupid. I hurt everyone I love over and over again because I’m so so fucking dumb,” Katya rants. She puts a hand over her mouth.

Trixie holds her hand tighter, “You went to community college though?” Katya laughs, she tightens her grip on Trixie. It almost hurts. “You’re not dumb. You don’t hurt people. You’re brilliant-”

“I hurt you. I’ve done this to you. I hurt my parents. My friends. Him. God, I don’t deserve to even be-”

“You have never hurt me. Katya, my life is so much fucking better because you’re alive,” Trixie interrupts. She keeps her voice low. Katya still flinches.

“I have hurt you though.”

“You never asked for any of this,” Trixie coughs between. She looks away from Katya. “I killed him. Not you. I killed him. Everything I’ve done isn’t your fault, you don’t need to take my guilt.”

Katya uses her spare hand to gently pull Trixie into looking at her.

“I invited you over. I dated him. He hit me. I let him hit me. That’s not your fault,” she insists. The space between them gets smaller as Katya shuffles toward Trixie. The skin that is touching Katya tingles in Trixie’s body.

Swallowing, Trixie responds.  “I stabbed him. I didn’t call the police, fuck, my immediate thought was to fucking save you. What does that make me?”

“A good person, a good friend.”

“I killed a guy!” Trixie exclaims. She tries to keep the volume down, but her voice is getting louder.

Katya doesn’t respond. They sit in silence again. Moments of quiet flowing past them.  They both think about the body that they left on Katya’s old apartment floor. Both of them think about how they put it there, and what they did wrong.

“I was thinking about leaving him. But I didn’t want to be alone,” Katya states.

Trixie’s heart sinks.  Swallowing, Katya whispers, “I also- I thought he could go back to being the man that he was when I first meet him. The one that I…” The sentence trails off. Trixie’s grip relaxes, her jaw sets. Katya feels tears start to bubble in her eyes; she despises them. “Not anymore. I probably would have stayed with him, y’know? If it had just been me, but you? Nobody is allowed to touch you. I’m worthless, you’re fantastic.”

Trixie’s mouth falls open in dismay, “Katya, how could you say-”

“I may not have done a lot of good things. But I made some good friends. The people I’ve hurt are great people,” Katya jokes.

“Never hurt me,” Trixie responds. “Never have.”

Katya laughs, she rolls forward and then back with it.  “Oh god, you going to insist I’ve not fucking wrecked your life?” Katya wipes under her eyes, she can’t tell if the tears are from laughter or not. “You really don’t have to lie to me you know.”

Trixie swallows, “I’m not telling lies.”

Quickly, Katya lifts her hand away from Trixie’s. She swings her legs around, facing off of the bed and away from Trixie.

“You must be, you have to be. You have to hate me. If it wasn’t for me-” Katya shakes her head to herself, “you’d still be going to fucking makeup fucking school. You’d have-”

“Nothing,” Trixie interrupts. She exhales and shuffles over. Placing a hand tenderly on Katya’s shoulder, she feels her friend jump under her touch. “I’d have nothing.”

Without a thought, Katya puts her hand over Trixie’s. All Katya can hear is her own thoughts screaming and Trixie’s breathing.

“Is nothing much different from what you have now?” Katya asks.

Trixie almost laughs, almost. “Yeah. I have a friend, a cool truck and my massive dick.”

Katya snorts, “You’re ridiculous.”

“Ri-dick-culous.”

Laughing, Katya moves forward. Trixie’s hand falls off Katya’s body. After amusement rocks Katya’s body, she turns around and sits on the bed. This time she faces Trixie and sits cross legged by Trixie’s side.

“I’m still sorry,” Katya adds.

Trixie looks at Katya. Her bruises aren’t that apparent in this faint light, but Trixie can see the irregularity. She can see scratch marks, red trails of popped capillaries. Her hair rests just on her shoulders. It is not completely even, but it’s passable. The wandering gaze pauses for a little bit too long on the small smile that is pasted onto Katya’s lips.

“Don’t be sorry for me,” Trixie responds. Trixie sits up and imitates Katya’s pose. “Find better things to do.”

Wheezing, Katya responds, “Like what?”

“I don’t know, do I?” Trixie adds. Katya stays smiling. Trixie looks down at the bed, and plays with the fabric. “Um, Katya?”

Frowning, Katya responds, “Yeah?”

“Why are you covered in scratch marks?”

Instinctively, Katya covers her skin with her hands. She looks down at her own arms, as if she’d only just noticed their presence. “Couldn’t get the feeling off,” Katya answers. She lifts her own palms and places them back on the bed. Staring at the lines of red that Katya’s fingernails caused, Trixie gently places a hand onto Katya’s forearm. She begins stroking Katya’s skin gently. Katya smiles, “That tickles.”

Trixie traces the red lines on Katya’s skin with her fingers. Katya’s skin is a little rough, surprisingly pale. Trixie’s so close to Katya that she can feel her breath.

“W-What feeling couldn't you get off?” Trixie asks. Uncertainty is running circles in Trixie’s head.

Katya smiles, “the feeling of him.” Her smile fades, “it was like he was still touching me. I could smell him,” Katya winces. “It was disgusting.”

Katya’s skin would be crawling, but Trixie’s hands ground her. The rhythmical movement of her fingers against Katya’s forearm, which rests in her lap. Trixie is near her, she doesn’t need to worry. The light touch is a brilliant sensation, it’s the kindest sensation her skin has suffered in months.

Trixie stops. Katya nearly whimpers.

“Smell him?” Trixie breathes. Trixie catches Katya’s eyes. They stare at each other for a small moment. Katya clenches her jaw. Trixie’s eyes flick to Katya’s lips, and she curses herself for it.

“Yeah,” Katya responds. She laughs, “It’s not exactly like I’m in the best of places mentally, is it?”

Trixie chews on her lip, “Can I help?”

Shrugging, Katya responds, “No. I don’t know. It’s like he’s lingering,” Katya says. She snorts, “maybe I should just get laid?”

Katya smiles at Trixie as she jokes. Trixie’s heart jumps up in her chest. “Probably not the best idea,” Trixie responds.

The smile fades. Katya remembers how he used to touch her; she tastes bile.

“I’d probably just freak out,” Katya admits. She looks down at her hands. “It’d be like, like he was still the one touching me,” she stares back up at Trixie. She leans forward, “Y’know, if I think hard enough, I can still taste his mouth. It’s gross. It’s like he’s fucking lingering. A phantom kiss, or something less articulate than that. So, that’s why the scratches. Distraction, I guess.”

The words drill into Trixie’s head. Raising an eyebrow at her, Katya waits for her statement.

“You could kiss me?” Trixie says, the words escaping. She nearly slams a hand over her mouth. Katya’s eyes widen. “Oh shit, I didn’t mean. You don’t have to- It’s just- Well, I’m here and if it’d help you-”

Katya leans forward, and gently presses their mouths together. The kiss. There’s a deep beat within her heart, a realization. This is what Trixie wants, more of this, please. It’s chaste and over quickly. Katya pulls away.

“Thank you,” Katya grins. “You taste like vanilla.”

Trixie blinks. Her body aches, Katya feels barely any ache at all.

“Thank you? I mean, vanilla? You trying to come for me?”

Laughing, Katya responds, “Listen, that’s a compliment. I love vanilla! What’s wrong with vanilla?”

“It’s plain!”

“Well, sometimes the simpler things are the best.” Katya retorts.

The moment of amusement settles. Trixie’s trying not to freak herself out. Katya’s trying not to think.

They remain sat on the bed with their legs crossed.

“You’ve got to have kissed me on the mouth before,” Trixie says. Speaking quietly is undervalued, “did I taste like vanilla back then?”

“I mean,” Katya tries to recall. “I probably wasn’t sober. What did I taste like?”

“I was expecting cigarettes-”

“Fucking rude-”

“I couldn’t really place it. Wasn’t that tastey of a kiss?” Trixie says. She can feel her heart in her throat.

What is she doing? What the fucking fuck is she doing?

Katya chuckles, “you want to go again or something? I’m starting to question your intentions.”

Trixie’s heart stops. “No! That wouldn’t be fair to you! I mean, christ, out of everything you definitely don’t need to be getting romantically- Not that it was romantic! It’s just kissing. People kiss all the time.Platonic kissing is the way forward really. I’m all for friendly making out. But-”

Katya’s mouth moves into a smile, “you didn’t say you didn’t want to Trixie Mattel.”

The full name, why’d she have to do that? Trixie’s palms are sweaty.

“I-I-”

“Did you buy me cigarettes? I thought I saw some in there,” Katya nods towards the bags of food Trixie bought. Trixie nods, astounded. “Cool,” Katya says. She scurries off the edge of the bed and recovers them. She turns to Trixie. “I’m going for a smoke break. If there’s ever a time to start smoking again, it’s now. When I get back, you can answer me.”

Katya heads to the door. She doesn’t expect Trixie to call out.

“Can you still taste him?”

He runs through Katya’s mind for a second. She thinks. Then, she grins.

“No. Not really.”

She walks out and closes the door behind her.

Chapter Text

Katya’s hands shake as she puts the cigarette onto her lips. God, she hadn’t realized she needed this. Cupping the end, she lights it. She blows out smoke and her body calms for just a moment.

She can barely even feel her bruises. Her body is still covered in evidence of pain, red patches and discolouring. Katya feels alive. She’s been dead for months. Each cell of her body is alight, the dread in her has shrunk. 

She finds herself smiling, and it’s not forced. The moon is bright in the sky. She’s a wanted woman. Her family and friends are probably crying, feeling betrayed.

There’s a part of her that feels guilty. There’s a part of her that feels so damn good to be free from it all that she doesn’t even care. He’s not going to hurt her again. She’s got Trixie back. Vanilla tastes amazing.

When the cigarette is about to burn out, she stubs it. With a skip in her step, she heads back to the motel room.

 


 

Trixie’s freaking out.

How incredibly unfair of herself? Katya doesn’t deserve her pushing her own agenda. She was fucking confessing to her pain, and Trixie brought up kissing her? Disgusting, manipulative, inhuman.

Katya didn’t seem to mind.

Trixie shakes her head. Katya’s just teasing her. She’s playing with her heart because she doesn’t know how Trixie feels.

How Trixie feels? This is insane. Completely and utterly, insane.

Katya tasted her, and liked it?

This is just a desperation thing. The amount of affection Katya must have received recently is low. Trixie shouldn’t abuse that.

Did she really like it?

 


 

Trixie is pacing when Katya returns.Words fly out of her as Katya closes the door. “I don’t want to hurt you!” Trixie splutters.

Raising an eyebrow, Katya dumps her lighter on the side. “I don’t think there’s much left to damage. I’m basically a withered husk at this point-.”

“But people did hurt you and-”

“You can say his name you know,” Katya interrupts. She walks to Trixie and stands in front of her. Closer than she should be, further than Trixie will admit she wants.

Trixie sighs, “you never do.”

Shrugging, Katya responds, “I’m going to be thinking about his name for the rest of my life. I’m not wasting my words on him at least.”

Trixie nearly laughs, but she ends up grimacing. “When did everything get so weird?”

“I’m an ex-addict, ex-exotic dancer, ex-catholic,  bilingual woman in her thirties. Life’s always been kinda weird, y’know what I’m saying?”

“I left my home town because I was bored,” Trixie complains. She scratches the back of her neck. “That’s how exciting life was before I met you.” 

At the end of her sentence, Trixie's words falter in volume. There's a weighty moment of quiet.

Katya bites her lip. “How’d that turn out?”

Trixie laughs, “I miss boredom.”

Snorting, Katya responds, “bitch, me too.”

 


 

 

They waste the evening away joking with each other. Trixie gets Katya to eat, and they don’t watch the TV in fear of seeing their own faces again.

Laying on Trixie’s bed, Trixie strokes Katya’s forearm. The scratch marks are starting to fade away. Katya ignores how the soft sensation tickles, and Trixie ignores how it lifts her.

“If we keep on driving without a break after this, it’ll only take two days tops to get to Miami,” Katya whispers. Nodding, Trixie doesn’t respond. She keeps stroking Katya’s skin. Katya sighs, and closes her eyes. “I don’t know what we’re going to do when we get there.”

Trixie murmurs into Katya’s ear, “we don’t need to know.”

“If I’m going to take care of you, I need to know.”

Katya’s eyes remain closed. She could fall asleep right now, next to her best friend and warm. The rest of the world, all of her bad feelings, can stay away.

Trixie frowns over at Katya. The bedside lamp light is dim, and Trixie wishes to god she could kiss her again. She wishes that they weren’t running, that Katya isn’t covered in bruises. She wishes that she could go back to seven years ago and start over again.

She could cry, but she doesn’t.

“Don’t take care of me,” Trixie responds.

Katya chuckles. “I want to.”

“Take care of yourself,” Trixie insists.

Opening her eyes, Katya looks at Trixie. “Look, how about this, I’ll take care of myself if you let me take care of you too.”

Rolling her eyes, Trixie says “Is that really a bargain though? Katya, you just won’t take care of yourself.”

She smiles, “hey, listen, taking care of you is a good way of taking care of myself. It’s a good bargain.”

Slowly, Katya tucks herself into Trixie’s side. She closes her eyes again, and carries on smiling.

Trixie inhales deeply, and grins. “Deal, but under one condition.”

“What?”

Katya lays her arm over Trixie’s stomach, palm turned to the ceiling. It makes Trixie’s stroking of her arm easier to do.

“We’re heading to Miami because I’ve always wanted to go there right?”

Katya nods. “Well, there were other factors, but yeah?”

Trixie snorts. “When we get to Miami, we have to do something you’ve always wanted to do.”

“Are we running from the police or filling in a bucket list Trixie?”

“Why not both?” She stops stroking Katya arm for a second and brushes some hair away from Katya’s face before returning to it. “We might aswell live a little.”

She thinks it over. What would she want to do? If this was a regular trip with Trixie, what would her goals be?

“Let me think about it,” Katya concludes.

“Okay,” Trixie says.

Trixie’s still laying on her back. Katya’s laying on her side, angled just enough that both of her arms are free. Both of her arms are now on Trixie’s stomach. It’s not the most comfortable of positions, but none of her bruises are being pressured. She’s felt a lot worse in the last few days than she does right now.

Katya rests her forehead against Trixie’s shoulder. Her breath evens out. Her head doesn’t hurt that much.

“I’m sorry for earlier,” Katya reiterates.

Trixie nods, “I’m sorry too.”

“I still don’t think vanilla’s a bad taste.”

Trixie’s heart stops, “Katya…”

“What?”

“Go to sleep.”

Trixie flicks off the bedside lamp. The room is plunged into darkness. She slowly moves away from Katya, grabs the edge of the bed covers and gets under them.

Katya moves a second later. She stands up, and stays still for a second.  Trixie can see just enough of Katya’s silhouette to see her look at her own bed, and then back at Trixie’s.

Without a word, Katya gets under the sheets and lays back at Trixie’s side.

Trixie doesn’t question it. She reaches out and interlaces her fingers with Katya’s. They fall asleep.

 


 

He’s laughing with her. Katya remembers this. They’d just been to visit some of his friends. He’d shown her off like a medal. He’d called her beautiful, gorgeous in front of them all.

He kisses her. She feels happy.  His eyes melt, and then he vanishes. Katya’s entire body twists, as if someone has her feet and hair in their grasp and it wringing her out. She can hear his voice crying out to her. Telling her that he loves her, that he hates her.

She wakes up. Her mind reels for a moment, thinking she’s back home.

She’s not. She’s in a motel room. She’s in Trixie’s bed.

There’s sunlight peeking through the window, despite the curtain. She couldn’t place a time, just early morning. Too early to be awake by choice. The room is cold, she’s still under the bed covers. She must not have been struggling too much in her nightmare.

Trixie’s asleep. Katya can see the soft rise and fall of her chest. She looks pretty like this. She needs to stop noticing all the times that Trixie looks pretty, it’s a little bit too often for comfort.

Katya’s mind is starting to race. They’re wanted criminals. The world is on look out for them. The man she cared about is dead. Trixie looks so fucking cute right now. Their friends are going to think they’re murderers. They do think they are. Oh god. How is Katya going to pull this off? How is she going to take care of Trixie? How’s she going to take care of herself? The easiest way to do that is to take care of Trixie. She’s what Katya cares most about now.

Is that why she keeps noticing how Trixie looks? Is it because she’s all she’s got left? She won’t deny that she thought something might happen between her and Trixie when they first met. It never did though. Is this that simple?

Trixie frowns in her sleep. Katya’s heart melts.

Is this more than that?

Katya lays in bed and waits for Trixie to wake up. She tries not to think too much. She doesn’t manage it.

 


 

 

“Morning,” Katya greets.

Trixie’s eyes are still blinking open. Katya’s looking straight at her.

“Like that’s not creepy at all,” Trixie jokes.

Katya smiles at her. Trixie sits up and stretches.

“It’s affectionate,” Katya answers.

Snorting, Trixie answers, “I’ll give you affectionate in a minute. How long have you been awake?”

Katya ducks under the covers in lieu of answer. Raising an eyebrow, Trixie pokes her side.

“Bitch, you’re awake.”

“Awake is merely a concept imposed by regulated rules in a barbarian society.”

Trixie snorts, she hears Katya laugh too.

“Y’know what, suck my clit Katya,” Trixie giggles.

Katya reemerges from the covers, “how much are you willing to pay? I take minimum wage.”

Shaking her head, Trixie says “I’ll suck your entire dick for free.” Katya sits up, rambles something and then taps Trixie’s thigh. Trixie blinks at her, “what?”

Imitating the thick accent her mother used to possess, Katya responds “I said ‘nature’s credit-card is a fantastic illusion’ in Russian.”

“Wow, Katya, I thought it was Spanish,” Trixie snarks. Katya wheezes out a laugh, reaching forward and grabbing on to Trixie’s hand in the process. “That doesn’t even make sense in this language anyway, does it?”

“The fuck am I supposed to know?”

Katya carries on laughing. Trixie looks at her, and smiles.

“You’re kinda beautiful,” Trixie admits. Her eyes widen in panic for a split second before seeing Katya continue to laugh. What the fuck was she thinking there?

“I’m nothing compared to you,” Katya says. Grinning back at Trixie, she asks, “Have you eaten?”

Trixie giggles, “You just saw me fucking wake up.”

“Oh yeah,” Katya shrugs. She carries on smiling, “c’mon, we should eat.”

Trixie doesn’t respond. Slowly, Katya stands up. She pulls the bedsheets off and curls them around her body, effectively cocooning herself. Trixie is left without warmth, but she doesn’t care at all.

Katya turns around, her smile dazzles all of Trixie’s senses. Her chest lifts up. The fog of guilt that has been obscuring her thoughts clears for just a second. Katya’s happy. Trixie’s happy.

“Come on, you whore! Food! I gotta take care of us! Food!” Katya giggles. Trixie doesn’t stop smiling at her friend. But the words break the trance; they aren’t safe, they aren’t okay. Scooting along the hotel floor with a blanket tied around her, Katya nearly trips. She mumbles to herself as she regains balance,  “holy fuckero.”

Trixie laughs, “holy fuckero to you too.”

 


 

 

Trixie’s been driving for an hour. She’s in awe of everything really. Katya’s been singing along to the radio the entire time. Granted, it’s pitchless and her voice keeps breaking, but fuck if it’s not the best thing Trixie’s ever heard.

In between every sour note, Katya wheezes out laughter. The sun shines into her eyes as she doubles over on herself in hilarity. It’s like the world’s in colour again.

 


 

 

“There’s a police car up ahead,” Trixie swallows.

Katya too was busy staring at Trixie to notice. Looking ahead, she clocks it.

“It-It probably won’t be for us,” Katya responds. “Look normal.”

The car continues onwards. They’ll pass it in a second. Heart beating hard in her chest, Katya watches as Trixie tries her best to not speed. Katya reaches out and clutches Trixie’s forearm.

Slowly, they go past it. The officer is sat on the bonnet. Katya could vomit. She watches in her mirror to check she isn’t following them. She isn’t.

“Thank fucking, fucking anybody,” Trixie breathes. She reaches out, squeezes Katya’s hand and then releases it. She carries on steering.

“Just don’t fucking get us arrested for speeding,” Katya jokes.

Laughing, Trixie asks “Can I get us arrested for doing speed?”

Katya laughs, adrenaline flowing through her, “No. You can’t. You beast.” She keeps an eye on the road behind them; she sees nothing but is now unsettled.

 


 

 

Katya can’t shake the bad feelings that are creeping in. The world is losing colour. She’d woken up so happy aswell.

“Do-Do you think they’re okay? Fame, Ginger…” Katya starts. She watches Trixie’s knuckles turn white as she grips the steering wheel tighter.

“I, don’t know?” Trixie responds. “Well, I have some ideas, but nothing concrete.”

Nodding, Katya thinks of her friends. All of them have known eachother for years. She tries to imagine how she’d feel if Violet did this, or Pearl.

“What ideas do you have?” Katya asks.

Trixie sighs, “I think, I think Violet will be the one to help Pearl out. You know how they are. You know how Pearl is.”

Smiling, Katya adds, “They’re good for eachother. Violet needs somebody to keep an eye on her, and Pearl needs somebody to actually fucking fight for her for once. They can both be that for each other.”

Trixie laughs, “Maybe that’ll be the silver lining, Violet and Pearl might actually see the light.” The road seems never ending, Trixie puts her foot down on the accelerator a tiny bit. “Who would have thought they’d get so close when we introduced them though?”

“We didn’t really introduce them,” Katya snorts. “It just happened.”

 


 

 

Katya’s and Trixie’s friends had merged over the years. It was Trixie’s birthday two years ago, and having spent a load of drunken nights out with Katya and Violet, Trixie felt like inviting Violet too.

Pearl was the new girl at work. Another girl that was new to New York, Trixie liked her straight away. She got an invite.

The plan was partying at Trixie’s place. A completely intentional plan on keeping Katya sober, which she had only been for six months.

Katya arrived with Violet in tow. It still surprised Trixie at the time that Violet remained friends with Katya after Katya quit her job and went clean. It doesn’t surprise her anymore.

Katya hugged her, Violet lightly embraced her before jumping away. Hugging hasn’t ever been Violet’s style.

“How old are you now?” Violet asked.

“Twenty four,” Trixie answered.

Katya swore, “I’m so fucking old. Fucking, thirty two. I’m like eight years older than you.”

Chuckling, Violet pointed out “you’re like our legal guardian.” Katya groaned, Trixie laughed. With a smirk, Violet added, “I’m twenty two, bitch.”

Laughter hit Katya in waves, “I’m ten years older than you! No!” Katya ended up clutching her stomach laughing, folded over with a hand on Trixie’s forearm. Trixie and Violet smiled at eachother, one thing they’ve always had in common was affection for Katya.

“Is she okay?” a girl asked from behind Violet. Violet turned in surprise. With an eyebrow raised, Pearl looked down at Katya.

“No, she’s only about ten years from death,” Violet joked.

Katya carried on cackling, standing back up to face her. “You cunt!”

“What? I’m not the one that forced you into smoking, your lungs are in their eighties!” Violet shouted.

Pearl laughed. “I smoke too. How long have I got left?”

With a look from Pearl’s high heels up to her immaculately painted face, Violet responded “for you, I hope the world makes an exception.”

Pearl blushed, and Katya laughed even harder.

 


 

 

“Honest: how do you think Ginger’s doing?” Katya swallows.

Shrugging, Trixie searches for an answer that’ll soothe her friend. “Ginger? You’re worried about her? The world could end and she’d be cracking jokes Kat.”

Katya laughs, “That witch. I love her so much.”

Trixie nods, “We did a pretty great job when it came to friends. Shame we’re on the run from the fucking law. You appreciate your friends a lot more when you can’t see them again without going to prison.”

Huffing out air in amusement, Katya says “do you reckon she really is okay? Really? I said honest, we have a deal,” Katya adds. She doesn’t mention her lack of honesty in the past, dishonesty as much as forgoing the truth.

Trixie shuts her eyes for a second before opening them again. “I don’t know Katya. Honest: I really don’t. I hope so, even if she can be a bitch. I hope they’re all okay. At least, you know they will be. They all have other people to take care of them, they have each other.”

Smiling, Katya puts a hand on Trixie’s leg. “I hope so too.”

 


 

It’s odd how quickly time flows. All of Katya’s thoughts are flying in and out of her head. One second she’ll want to laugh until she dribbles, and the next she just wants to sob.

The sun’s going down. Slowly, the world is dimming. Trixie and Katya stopped talking ages ago. It could have been minutes, it could have been days.

Staying awake doesn’t feel like a nice option.

Katya closes her eyes. There’s so much in her head. Completely numb, Katya falls asleep again.

 


 

 

It’s been quiet. Trixie’s just focused on driving. The night came. She doesn’t feel tired. At least, she doesn’t feel tired enough to wake Katya up. It isn’t really worth it.  They go through the night. 

 


 

 

Everything is blurring in and out of reality right now. Katya would be scared shitless if she could think straight for ten minutes. There’s no point in moving a muscle. Even though the window jolts as she rests her head against it, Katya doesn’t shift her position. She drifts in and out of sleep. Drifting. That could sum up Katya’s whole life. She’s drifted between addictions, between friends, between self-love, between wanting to be alive and wondering if death would just be the easier option at the end of all this.

The world turns grey again.

Chapter Text

Trixie can’t ignore this anymore.

“Katya, I’m tired. Do you wanna drive?”

Not moving the rest of her body, Katya shakes her head. Everything in her feels heavy. She just wants everything to stop. Can it all just stop? One day where she doesn’t have to think.

Trixie has noticed the change in Katya. Starting the day, she was full of energy. Katya faded. Trixie can feel fatigue in her own bones. She has to stop driving. They can’t carry on like this.

“Katya, what do you want me to do? I’ve been driving for a day.”

Katya shrugs. She doesn’t have the power for this.  “Find a motel.”

“We don’t have the money for that,” Trixie deadpans.

The world feels too cold for this anger. It’s too hot. She can’t deal with this. She can’t. “I don’t care,” Katya concludes. She rubs a hand over her face. “I’m tired too. Find a motel. Where even are we?”

“All you’ve done is sleep all day,” Trixie points out. The look that Katya shoots her stings. A deep sigh. “I know you’re not, but are you okay?”

Skipping over Trixie’s words, Katya asks again“where are we?”

Trixie stares at Katya for a second. Looking around her, Katya sees other cars.

“We’d go past Baltimore in a few hours if we kept going,” Trixie answers.

Katya nods, “it should be easy to find a motel then.”

Sighing, “C’mon Katya, really?” Trixie says. Katya slumps her body against the door and her face against the window. It’s raining. How long has it been raining? “Fine. I’ll turn around.”

 


 

 

 

 

Katya doesn’t say anything when they arrive at the motel. She doesn’t say anything when Trixie jumps out to get a room. It’s too hard. This is all too hard.  Slowly, she flicks her eyes up to the sky. There’s a billion stars up there. It should be beautiful, should be. 

“Katya. Katya!”

Katya blinks before turning to Trixie. There’s a hand on Katya’s thigh.

“What?”

Trixie raises an eyebrow at her and Katya knows she's in trouble. How come the whole when the whole world's grey, Trixie still manages to be made of dazzling colour? 

“We have a deal, like you said earlier. Honest: are you okay?” Trixie asks softly. Katya doesn’t think there’s enough words in the world to show just how wrong she feels. What's the point in beating around the bush. 

“I-I’ve been worse,” Katya answers.

A sigh, offered by an offer of a small smile.  “Come on, I just got a room. Only one bed because it’s cheaper, but there’s probably a sofa I can sleep on.”

Katya nods, she forces her arm out and opens the door. She looks up at Trixie, who is waiting for her with both of their bags in one arm. Trixie talks away as Katya lifts leg after leg to follow her. It feels like marathons, like wading through setting concrete.

She doesn’t even feel it at first when Trixie holds her hand and helps her walk.

“Not much further Katya,” Trixie chimes in. Katya wants to thank her. “We’ll be there in a second.”

 


 

Trixie doesn’t understand what’s going on. Then again, with Katya she rarely does completely understand what’s happening. She dumps their two bags by the door. Trudging into the motel room, Katya finds the bed and falls onto it. She doesn’t register the bright pink heart patterned walls, or the dark red sheets. The whole room clashes with itself.  Trixie chuckles at it.

“Do you reckon this was like a honeymoon suite? Because if it was, oh honey…” Trixie jokes. Responding would require energy, and Katya is drained. She’s empty. She shuts her eyes and waits for the blackout. The bed dips, “Katya, Baby, talk to me.”

Baby. That rings in Katya’s ears. A small smile pushes onto Katya’s lips.

“I’m just tired, Trixie.”

There’s a length pause. Trixie’s hands pull into fists. “What kind of tired?”

The question is loaded. Katya knows that.  Katya laughs, “all of them. I’m an old woman, I need my rest. Weary, dry, cracking bones.”

The light of the room is a soft one. It’s dark outside. Yellow tones play onto Katya’s skin, Trixie finds herself stroking the skin there again. There’s no scratch marks anymore, and her bruises are healing up.

“Is something wrong Katya?” Trixie asks. There’s a pang of regret after saying it. Trixie flinches. Of course something is wrong, of course.

“Just the usual,” Katya responds. There's a smile playing on her lips. 

Slowly, Trixie nods. She stops stroking Katya’s arm, and goes to stand up. “I think we need-”

Katya reaches out and grabs Trixie’s wrist. She pulls Trixie back onto the bed, Katya ends up on her side.

“Please, stay with me,” Katya begs. The words escape her, she doesn’t know where they came from. “I-I want to go to sleep and kinda never wake up. But I want to go to sleep with you.”

Eyes widening at Katya’s words, Trixie’s mouth falls open. Katya shuts her eyes tightly. Oh, for fuck sake. “Katya, what?” Trixie demands.

Katya opens her eyes again, “nevermind. It’s gone. It was stupid.”

Smiling, Trixie puts a hand on Katya’s hip, “probably, but why stop the habit of a lifetime?”

A shocked laugh escapes from Katya, “you’re so mean to me. You bully.”

Trixie rolls her eyes, “more like bull.”

Katya laughs again, “you’re such a whore.”

“I’m your whore,” Trixie retorts. She pokes Katya in the side. “You can’t sleep in your clothes.”

“What’s the point in changing?” Katya argues.

“Human decency?”

“And since when have we endorsed that?”

Katya doesn’t want to move, she just said she wants to never wake up. Trixie can’t ignore that her heart starts to speed up and her palms beging sweating.

“Katya, do it,” Trixie sighs. “For me, please. Let me take care of you.”

Katya looks at Trixie, Trixie stares back at her. The black cloud of what they’ve done looms over them. She doesn't want it to affect Trixie.  “Okay,” Katya whispers.  If she hadn’t have said ‘for me’, Katya wouldn’t have agreed.

Grinning, Trixie grabs Katya’s hand. She helps her get up, more like pulls her up.

“Shower first, change into clothes and then eat something.”

Nodding, Katya asks “can I sleep then?”

Trixie tucks a loose strand of Katya’s hair behind her ear, “Of course.”

 


 

 

Trixie can hear the shower water hit the wall behind Katya, she tries not to picture it. Water sliding down her body, hair wet. Eyes closed.

Concentrate on what matters. She’s scrambling through Katya’s bag trying to find clean clothes for her. Eventually, she finds a set. It seems like her last. They need to visit a laundromat. They need to do a lot of things. Fuck.

She sets Katya’s clothes on the bed. What else needs to be done? Food. Trixie has some chips left, but that’s about it. Could she feasibly leave to go get something? Trixie’s not that hungry, but Katya needs to eat. The shower turns off. Trixie decides to ignore food. They’ll go get something proper to eat the next morning, and they’ll get their clothes washed. Then, they’ll head off. They should be able to make it to Miami in the next couple of days. They can make a life together somewhere that’s sunny.

The feeling is warm inside Trixie’s chest. It shouldn’t be. They’re running. It’s easy to forget that half the time.

Picking up Katya’s clothes on the way there, Trixie knocks on the bathroom door.

“You decent?”

“Never.” Laughing, Trixie shuts her eyes and cracks open the door. She places Katya’s clothes on the floor before shutting it again. “Did you go through my stuff?”

Trixie frowns. “Yes?”

Katya doesn’t respond. Trixie waits a second before shrugging it off. She heads to her bag to claim her nightgown and underwear. At least the room’s pretty small, even if it is a bit grim. There’s definitely nicer motels than this one.

Katya comes out of the bathroom.

“Do you feel any better for that?” Trixie asks.

Shrugging, Katya makes her way to bed. The clothes Trixie picked out for her are not the ones she would have picked. This T-shirt itches a little, and this underwear is a little uncomfy.  

“Come to bed,” Katya orders. Trixie laughs, Katya ends up smiling. Pulling at the sheets, she climbs under them and turns on her side.

“Just let me shower first, Wife” Trixie retorts.

Katya chuckles, “You’re not that unlucky.”

Flinching slightly, Trixie considers fighting back. Katya is relaxed on the bed. Eyes shut. There’s no point. Trixie goes into the bathroom.

 


 

 

As the shower runs again, Katya’s mind blanks out. It’s hard to breathe. Eventually, her body gives out and she falls asleep.

 


 

 

Trixie steps out of the shower. The bathroom is small and steamy. She can see the outline of herself in a circular mirror. Fatigue and concern float through her. Pulling on her clothes, she forces herself to breathe. She brushed her teeth before she showered. At least she can sleep now. At least Katya and her are safe for now.

She opens the door into the bedroom. “Hey-”

Katya’s fast asleep. Leaning against the door frame, Trixie smiles at the sight. Her best friend’s face is half turned into a pillow, a lonely hand loosely claws at the mattress.

Trixie creeps over to the bed and kneels next to Katya. There’s no expression on Katya’s face. Pinching at the covers, she pulls them over Katya’s body. Trixie leans back, and allows the silence of the moment to wash over her. Wipe her clean.

“You’re kinda beautiful, you know that?” Trixie whispers. Katya’s jaw bone is prominent, her newly cut hair spreads across her entire face. Gently, Trixie brushes it out of her eyes. “I don’t want to ever lose you.” There’s no more movement. In her chest, Trixie’s heart starts to speed up. She could be separated from Katya. She could be. It’s a very real possibility. A possibility that Trixie doesn’t thinks she could stand anymore.

She presses a light kiss to Katya’s temple. Closing her eyes.

After a second, she pulls away and stands up. Trixie turns off the light, makes her way to the bed and rests and arm over Katya. She synchronizes their breaths as she falls asleep.

 


 

 

He smacks her around the face and she falls to the ground. Katya cradles the wound. There’s the knowledge that it’s him, but his face isn’t visible. He’s a man shaped grey cloud. There’s no definition to him. A large black hole acts as a mouth; it is twisted into a painful circle. Pain. Suffering.

The smell of decay enters all of Katya’s cells and hooks in. She feels like she is being ripped apart from the inside. Kicking against the ground, Katya tries to escape from him.

He grabs her legs and sinks his claws into her flesh. Katya screams.

“Katya!” Katya hears. It’s Trixie. The world turns bright. Too bright. He releases her.

He’s got a knife. The knife. Trixie’s below him, staring out her. Smiling.

“You-You don’t love me,” he whispers.

Katya goes numb. "No.”

The black fuzz that forms him loses shape before becoming twice the size it was. “You want her.”

Katya feels pain in her heart. “I don’t know.”

He grins before slitting Trixie’s throat. "Not yours.”

Trixie slumps onto the ground. Laughing. Her mama’s laugh. His laugh. Trixie’s laugh.

Crying, Katya races to Trixie. She holds her in her arms. Trixie turns to dust.

 


 

 

Covered in sweat, Katya is shivering. She shot up as she woke up. Cold air in the room crawls down her spine. A street lamp provides orange tinted residual light through the curtains. She can make out outlines in the darkness. There’s a comforting hand on her. Breath isn’t coming easy. Fear runs circles in her head.

“Katya, are you awake now?”

Trixie’s words are drenched in pity. She knows that Katya had a nightmare, she probably knows what about. Chucking her arms over Trixie’s shoulders, Katya hugs her. Trixie rubs circles into her back, clinging back onto Katya.

“You-You’re a petter,”Katya whispers, her voice sounding rough to her own ears.

“Huh?”

Katya swallows, “you pet me whenever you hug me.”

Smiling, Trixie rubs Katya’s back with more force. She hears Katya’s weak laugh.

Trixie shuts her eyes, “what did you dream about?”

Katya tenses up, becoming solid against Trixie’s body. The darkness hides the fact that her eyes are watering. It’s when she begins shaking again that she knows Trixie’s going to notice. A sick feeling is crawling in her stomach. She hasn’t eaten enough today to throw anything up, she hopes.

Forcing a laugh, again, Katya replies “the usual.”

Trixie frowns before sighing. "Wanna talk?”

They’re still clasping to each other. Katya’s skinny limbs locking Trixie to her. Safe like this, she hopes she’s safe like this.

“What you going to do about it?” Katya points out. Trixie’s still stroking her back. It feels good.

“I don’t know, console you, maybe,” Trixie answers. She shuffles slightly so that she’s closer to Katya. She can still feel Katya’s neck on her shoulder, body against hers.

Chuckling for a second.“I’ve never had anyone ‘console’ me before.”

There’s a moment of silence. “Not even your mom?” Trixie suggests.

She feels Katya’s shrug, “not really. Mama did take care of us. But you don’t really console a kid don’t you? You just sort of tell them that the monsters they’re scared of aren’t real,” Katya’s breath shudders out of her. “And my monsters? Yeah, they’re real. All of them are. That’s what makes them so terrifying. There's not an easy fix to these monsters.” She laughs. “I probably am one-”

“You’re not. You just don’t make very good choices. Don’t be a little bitch about that. You’re a good person. If you trust me, listen to me. It’s not your fault and you don’t have to blame yourself for any of this. Or anything else you feel guilty about it. Things go wrong, so what do we do then?” Katya’s heart slows as she listens, her breathing calms. She soaks in the words, and wonders. “We carry on, because that’s what good people do. Good people carry on, even if they had to quit, or if they did something bad, or made a bad choice. We carry on fighting monsters because at the end of the day, we have the knowledge that we’re going to be better than this tomorrow. Good people fight, and they fight, and then they fight some more.  Trixie rants. There’s a beat of silence afterwards in which Trixie feels Katya tense up again. A sigh, “Katya, I-”

“I'm tired of fighting.” Katya murmurs. Trixie can hear tears in her voice. Her heartbreaks a little.

"I know. Everyone is." Trixie presses a peck of a kiss to Katya's temple. She despises herself for it a little. "You've just got to keep on. You find something to fight for, and you do that."

Katya closes her eyes. The world is slow around her. There's bad things in her mind, pain in her chest but a strange clarity to the world. 

"Can I fight for you?"

“What?” Trixie whispers. 

The world falls apart in Katya's head, and she doesn't care about restrictions anymore. She can't stop seeing Trixie dead in her head, seeing his face.

Katya’s heart is pounding in her chest, her legs feel weak. “I love you. I don’t know in what way but I do. I’m scared of love. I always have been. I-I don’t think I’ve ever been loved,” Katya admits. Her throat scratches as she says it. "I'm confused."

He didn’t love her. She knows he didn’t love her.

Trixie’s heart stops. Every though rushes into her head. Kiss Katya. Walk out the door. Call Mom for advice. Go to jail. Cry. Pretend she didn't hear. Go back to sleep. Talk this out. Kiss Katya. She settles for a deep breath and a rush of thought. She doesn't always know what to do, or what she's feeling, but she knows Katya and she knows what love should be.

“There’s more to love than romance. Your mama loves you, your family. I-I don’t think you think you’re good enough to be loved in the way you’re getting confused about. And that’s bullshit, anybody would be lucky to have you Katya. You try. And you care, you care so deep about people,” Trixie rambles. She smiles. "That love isn’t whatever you think it is, it’s that. Love is caring and just caring simply. Hugging someone and feeling better. It’s a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Someone to call at the end of the day. Someone who you want to share every memory with. No teen movies and drama. It's simple. Have you ever been loved like this? Because there’s your answer, Katya.”

There’s a beat. When Katya’s eyes widen, and she bites her bottom lip and she knows. She has been loved like that. One person has loved her like that. 

Katya pulls away from Trixie, and Trixie’s world collapses in on her for a moment. She said the wrong thing, didn’t she? Katya hates her.

“Katya, what-”

There’s lips on hers and sudden explosions of feeling. Bright colours pop into Trixie’s eyes. Katya’s kissing her. Trixie pulls her closer, and kisses back.  God, it’s so right. It’s so simple. Why haven’t they been doing this the whole time? Why’d it take all this crap for Trixie to realize? It feels like coming home after a long day, exhausted, and finding a fire on and coffee made. It is waking up in the middle of the night and hearing rain hit the roof top. It’s Christmas, it’s birthdays, it’s fucking Oktoberfest.

Katya pushes her onto the bed and climbs on top of her. Straddling her hips, pinning her down. All she is taste is Trixie. Trixie still tastes like vanilla. There’s vanilla on Trixie’s lips, in her mouth. Katya’s addicted to it. All she wants is more. Katya pulls away and Trixie aches instantly.

“Maybe I do like you a little bit more than friends?” Katya jokes.

The best thing about it is that they laugh, and it's not serious. Trixie doesn't feel scared. Katya's heartbeat doesn't race.  She leans down to place one soft peck to Trixie’s mouth before Trixie pulls away.

“Are you sure about this?” Trixie asks.

Katya stays still. She thinks it over. Her eye aches, just a little. All of her bruises are fading now.

Is it sensible? Katya’s by no means okay. She’s never okay. But, they could get caught anyday. Either one of them could go to prison.

“I don’t want to regret not kissing you,” Katya answers.

“But I don’t want to rush-”

“Can we just, ignore the rules? Because I’m turned on, and you’re here, and I don’t want him to dictate the rest of my life anymore than he has to,” Katya smiles throughout. She strokes a hand down Trixie’s cheek. “I want you now. You make me happy. This is what I want to die before-whatever. I want you to be my bucket list. Now, are you sure about this?”

Katya’s almost shouting be the end of her rant. Trixie grins beneath her.

Trixie leans up and connects their mouths again as an answer. Katya hums into it, her body tingles. A deep craving to be touched forms in her core. Trixie’s fingers run soft over Katya’s skin, a contrast to what she’s used to. There’s cold air touching the back of Katya’s neck, her hair stands on end. Trixie’s still beneath her, Katya straddling her and using her elbows to keep herself up.

Their entire bodies are pressed together. It isn’t enough.

Katya pulls away, she sits up. Completely straddling Trixie. Trixie puts her hands on Katya’s hips and feels the bone beneath her thumbs. Smiling down at Trixie, Katya pulls her shirt off, leaving her only in underwear. Trixie’s eyes widen at just how boney Katya is.

“Fuck you for wearing a nightgown,” Katya whispers. Trixie laughs. Sitting up, Trixie moves her hands to run them over Katya’s torso. Watching Trixie’s face for a response, Katya tenses as Trixie’s fingertips graze her exposed ribs. But there’s no stopping, no questions. A kiss is pressed to Katya’s chest, before Trixie’s hands keep moving up to her breasts. Katya’s eyes shut, she feels everything. Hard nipples slink under Trixie’s palms. Tears could swim in Katya’s eyes, Trixie doesn’t care about what she looks like. There wasn’t a comment. Thank god there wasn’t a comment.

Katya rushes forward to kiss Trixie again. Their kisses are a mess of passion and saliva. Katya has to try not to grin. She’s shaking as she puts a hand either side of Trixie’s face.

“Are you okay?” Trixie asks.

Katya runs a thumb over Trixie’s lips, “my god, I don’t think I’ve ever been better.”

“Honest?” Trixie begs.

Katya nods at a rapid pace. “Honest. Completely.”

Pulling herself off Trixie’s lap, she pulls at Trixie’s nightgown. Trixie grabs her hands, kisses each of them once and then pulls it off herself. She’s left in the exact same situation as Katya clothes wise.

Katya’s mind slows down at the sight. She stops shaking. Their eyes are getting used to the dark, she can just about make out Trixie in the light. There’s a beautiful quality to how her skin looks in the yellow toned lights, and her curves. She looks healthy. Katya wishes she looked healthy.

“You look so fucking good Trix,” Katya says. Stroking down Trixie’s side, Katya feels how warm she is. Both of them are sat facing each other.

“You look amazing too Katya,” Trixie answers.

Trixie pushes lightly on Katya’s shoulder, Katya lays back down. Raising a leg over Katya’s chest, Trixie sits on Katya’s hips. A thigh rests either side of Katya’s stomach. Tingles of electricity surge through Katya’s body, and her fingertips want to cover Trixie completely.

“I look like a skeleton and we both know it. Thanks for trying to be nice though,” Katya jokes. “Boo,” she adds. She reaches up to bring Trixie down to kiss her. Trixie resists it, she goes for Katya’s neck instead and leaves a trail of pecks along it.

“To be honest, you always have looked stunning so I’m not going to complain, I’m not actually stupid,” Trixie’s breath hits Katya’s skin. Katya’s body wants to constrict. It’s begging for something more than it’s getting. Katya could scream, she wants to move, but Trixie’s got her pinned. A hand on each shoulder, a weight on her chest. Kisses are getting pressed to the other side of her neck, her ear, her temple, her lips, her chin, her collarbone.

“I’ve lost weight,” Katya confesses. She gasps when Trixie rocks her hips back, the unexpectant pleasure is not a bad thing. A kiss gets placed to Katya’s lips again. “You still taste like vanilla.”

She hears Trixie laugh, it’s breathless. “You can put weight back on if that would make you feel better,” Trixie comments. Slowly, Trixie moves her lips against Katya’s again. Tongue against tongue. The sensation drives Katya just a little bit more crazy.

They break away. Trixie rocks her hips again. “We’ll talk about that, some other time,” Katya pants.

Trixie nods, she sits back up on top of Katya. Cupping both of Katya’s breasts in her hands, she teases Katya’s nipples. Katya can’t hold back the squirm it causes. “Could be for the best, unless you want me to stop so we can chat?” Trixie inquires with a smirk.

“I will curse you and any distant relatives, pets or associates if you fucking stop, Tallulah Mattel,” Katya declares. Trixie openly laughs.

Katya leans up, puts her arms around Trixie’s waist and pulls her down to lay on her. She sucks two little marks onto Trixie’s neck, one’s that will have faded by tomorrow. “Fucking kiss me again, I want you so fucking bad, please,” Trixie groans. Reaching down, she grabs Trixie’s ass. Moving her mouth from Trixie’s neck to her mouth, Katya squeezes Trixie’s ass tighter. Openly resulting in a loud shout from Trixie. The moan results in Katya pushing her hips up into Trixie’s. Trixie moans openly onto Katya’s mouth, lips becoming weak for a second. Both of their mouths are covered in saliva.

Katya feels like a million dollars, from dry-humping no less.

Losing control of her body, Katya’s hips push up again. Trixie pushes down. Both of their heart rates increase. Aching to be touched, Katya moves up again. At the same time, Trixie rocks back. There’s a golden feeling spreading between both of them, starting deep in their core. Trixie’s hands finally wander away from Katya’s breasts.

Pulling away, Trixie moves her head to the side of Katya’s and allows air into her own lungs. “Do you wanna be fingered or-” Trixie starts.

Katya is shaking below her. "Whatever the fuck you want.”

Trixie grins. Summing up the willpower, she climbs off of Katya’s lap. She crawls down the bed. Kicking the gathered covers to the ground, she reaches Katya’s legs. Katya’s knees are knocking together. Slowly, Trixie strokes a finger down from Katya’s hip to her mid-calf. Halfway through the stroke, she stops to draw a circle onto the back of Katya’s knee.

Katya openly swears at her in Russian throughout.

After the line is drawn, Trixie puts both of her hands between Katya’s knees and pulls them apart. Setting her up with legs spread. Katya shivers in anticipation, fingers clawing at the bed below her. Nobody’s paid attention to what she wants for so long. Is she really worth this?

Trixie hooks a finger around Katya’s underwear, “give me space to do this Beautiful,” Trixie instructs. Katya places her weight back down on her feet and pushes her hips into the hair. Trixie brings her underwear off her and up her legs. Falling back down, Katya’s heart begins to race. Using both hands, Trixie takes Katya’s underwear completely off and throws them to the ground.

Achingly slow, Trixie traces the line she drew back up Katya’s leg. Except this time, she goes to the inner side of her thigh. Squirming and writhing, Katya moans. When Trixie finally hits the wetness, Trixie nearly moans too.

“You want this?” Trixie double checks. Her hand rests right next to Katya, not quite in her yet.

It never even crosses Katya’s mind to be sarcastic, “yes. Yes. God, please. Fuck.”

Nodding, Trixie swallows before tracing a finger around Katya’s pussy. Katya’s body shakes around it. Both of their mouths are completely dry. Trixie moves her entire body so that she’s closer to Katya. Trixie’s mind fills with ideas as to what Katya might taste like, the sounds she’s making. Trixie’s body complains at it’s lack of attention but she ignores it happily.

She pushes a finger into Katya. Slow. Katya cries out something that Trixie hopes is positive in Russian. Katya’s body moves to give her the friction she wants, and she lets her have it for a moment. Simply watching Katya hump her hand is a lot more arousing than she ever thought it would be.

Quickly, she uses her spare hand to pin Katya’s hip down. Trixie leans in and licks Katya’s pussy. The taste floods her mouth and they both shudder with delight. After a second of finding with her tongue, Trixie locates Katya’s clit. Katya shouts again, and there’s actually some English. “You are the fucking devil,” is what Trixie catches, and she would laugh if she wasn’t busy.

She sucks on her clit. Katya tries to not assault Trixie’s face by moving her hips too much. After a few moments of Katya moaning, Trixie adds another finger. Unashamedly wet, Katya’s body doesn’t put up too much resistance. Trixie’s tries to co-ordinate as much as she can, with remembering to move her fingers in and out, aswell as sucking with occasional licks. A rhythm is established, and Katya cries out on beat. Each sound Katya makes, the way she tastes and feels, Trixie is not the most composed of people currently.

Katya gets louder and louder. Trixie licks around her, drawing circles and crosses onto her clit. All of this occurs with Trixie fingering her. Katya ends up with one hand stroking through Trixie’s hair, occasionally with gripping onto the mattress for the rest. Her other hand clutches at her own breast.  All Katya can smell is sex and sweat. Shoots of temporary satisfaction fly throughout her body. The pleasure begins to grow and grow. Trixie’s spare hand palms at Katya’s ass.

Trixie starts putting her fingers in even deeper. Sucking harder. Katya, overstimulated, cums with a stream of Russian and a near-heart attack.

Licking her through it, Trixie pulls away.

She looks up at Katya. There’s a quick rise and fall of Katya’s chest. Her eyes are shut. Lips parted. Trixie wipes her fingers on the mattress, and quickly licks the rest off.

“D-Did you enjoy that?” Trixie’s voice squeaks.

Katya’s hand moves from her chest to her mouth, she bites the back of it. Her body still is in shock, she is still panting. “Yeah,” she breathes. “You’re amazing,” she adds. Trixie can see her chest rising and falling rapidly. Katya laughs, “I don’t think I can move.”

Trixie nods, “t-that’s cool. I can just take care of myself.”

Shaking her head, her lover responds. “As hot as that would be to watch. I have a better idea. Sit on my face.”

Trixie, even in her messy horny state, raises an eyebrow. "You sure about that?”

She sees Katya nod. Moving down the bed and off the pillows, Katya lays completely flat. “Yeah. Simple. I’ll pinch your leg once if I need you to let me breathe for a second. Twice if I need you to get off of me for like, good. Get it?”

Trixie breathes out the word, “yeah.”

She crawls up the bed to Katya. When she reaches Katya, she stops and removes her own underwear. Katya’s runs a hand down Trixie’s side again. “Kiss me,” she orders. She leans down and obeys. Sampling herself on Trixie’s lips is a mixture of gross and appealing. She’s done a lot worse.

After tonguing for a moment, Katya pushes Trixie away. Katya heaves in a large breath, “let me taste you then.”

Trixie moans, “god that’s hot.”

Trixie uses the headboard on the bed to stable herself. Putting a knee either side of Katya’s head and folding her legs underneath her. Katya reaches up and brings her body down on top of Katya’s mouth. Trixie ends up resting her hands on the pillows in front of her, her weight tilted forward. Slowly, she feels a tongue on her pussy. It swirls circles, and Trixie rocks on it. Katya has a hand on each of her hips, fingertips pressing in. Trixie is conscious that she is speaking. She cannot be damned to listen to herself.

She doesn’t hear anything. She doesn’t see anything. She only feels. She is only aware of Katya. Katya, who’s tongue is still moving. She sucks and licks at all of Trixie. She finds her clit, and then actively ignores it before coming back again. Trixie feels amazing. Waves of pleasure swimming through her.

Katya pinches her once. Trixie immediately pulls up, Katya gasps. Before pulling her back down. This time, only focusing on her clit. She sucks and she teases. Licking and doing anything that causes Trixie to cry out. She’s so fucking turned on that anything will do. Her orgasm approaches in jumps. Each time Katya does something, she feels saintly. A soft, “I-I-I” leaves Trixie’s mouth. Katya sucks her, teases her once more with her tongue, and she goes over the edge.

Immediately, she falls down onto the bed. She ends up with her legs over Katya’s chest, after pulling herself away so that Katya has space to breathe.

“The little death,” Trixie hears Katya whisper. Trixie forces herself to sit up and Katya stays down.

“Don’t be morbid after you cum, that’s a turn off,” Trixie comments.

Katya chuckles. “Morbid After You Cum would be a great stripper name.”

Giggling, Trixie shakes her head. She pulls herself to the edge of the bed, reclaims her underwear and pulls them back on. “Do you want your panties?” Trixie asks.

“Nah, I’m comfortable with myself,” she jokes. Trixie snorts. She reclaims the bedcovers. Finding the correct end, she chucks them over Katya. “Come cuddle with me,” Katya says.

She can see the outline of Trixie nodding in response in the darkness. Katya peels back an edge of the sheets, Trixie slides in between her. They cover back up. Katya wraps her arms around Trixie, Trixie’s head resting on top of Katya’s boobs. Katya can still taste vanilla, it overwhelms her perfectly.

Sedated, they fall asleep. Katya doesn't worry. The world doesn't exist outside that motel room anymore. 

Chapter Text

 

Light softly pours through the curtains and into the clashy hotel room. The light has a gold quality to it. Despite this, the room is cold.

Katya’s naked leg and arm are out from under the covers. Slowly, she pulls them under the sheets. Trixie’s body is against her back and is warm. Moaning slightly, she pushes back against Trixie and shuts her eyes.

“You awake?” Trixie whispers. Katya shakes her head. Trixie smiles.  “You wanna get up?”

There isn’t a response from Katya.  Trixie shrugs to herself. She starts stroking her fingers through Katya’s short hair. Katya hums at the feeling.

“I should have been fucking you since the beginning,” Katya jokes.

Trixie laughs. “You were playin’.”

Chuckling, Katya flicks Trixie’s bare thigh. “I had shit to work through.”

Kissing the back of Katya’s head, Trixie adds “you’re here now. With me.”

Katya turns over, they end up face to face. Hot breath on Trixie’s face, she’s flushed. Katya raises an eyebrow, “together. Alone. On the run from our trauma,demons, past, future and present-”

“That makes no-”

“In a bed,” Katya finishes. The mischief in her eyes makes Trixie smile. The bruise on top of Katya’s eye is fading, but still present. Trixie brushes a feather light thumb stroke over it.

She presses a kiss to Katya’s mouth before pulling away, “brush your teeth and then we’ll talk.”

 


 

 

“Don’t sniff any of my panties.”

Trixie is packing Katya’s suitcase for her. She smiles.  “Well, what’s fucking the point then?”

Katya smiles at Trixie. Both of their hair is a mess. The smell of sweat and sex coats the room. Katya never really wants to breath in anything else. Vanilla lingers on her lips.

Exhaling deeply, Katya looks up at the ceiling. “I feel weightless.”

Trixie lifts an eyebrow, stopping her work to look at her now-lover. She's trying to not worry, but her heart feels heavy regardless.

“Honest: do you regret it?”

There's a snort of laughter from Katya.“Since when has weightless been bad?”

Trixie abandons packing. Palms sweating, her heart beat speeds up. “That wasn’t an answer.”

Pushing herself up onto her elbows, Katya stares at Trixie for a long moment. A smile covers Katya’s face as she admires the curve of Trixie’s face, the emotion in her eyes and the rest of her body. 

“Honest: I don’t regret it,” Katya says. “Never will.”

Shoulders falling, Trixie relaxes. “Oh thank-”

“I regret not leaving him earlier, so I could be with you,” Katya continues. She feels the need to explain further when Trixie flinches. “This isn’t exactly the Hollywood romance beginning that teenage Trixie would have dreamed of.”

The hairs on Trixie’s arms stand up, she coughs. “Honest: do you think you ever would have told me if I hadn’t caught you?”

Katya shrugs. “I don’t really know. I mean, I knew something was wrong. It was different. I had bad feelings, like, I’m not smart but I’m not stupid. Would I have ever thought ‘maybe I should go’? Probably not,” she looks over at Trixie. Trixie nods to herself. “If he’d hurt you, or if you’d found out,  I would have gone.”

They catch each other’s eye. Trixie frowns, Katya smiles. Getting off the bed, Katya walks to Trixie and sits next to her on the floor. Katya rests her forehead against Trixie’s. Silence cloaks them for a moment, and Katya’s thinking slows down.

“Why?” Trixie asks.

Katya kisses Trixie. A slow push of pressure, followed by other little ones. They break away, remaining close.

“Because you’re my strength,” Katya whispers. “However fucking lame that is. However stupid my future-self may think I’m being right now. As long as I’ve known you, you’ve made me better. If I’d let you in just that inch more, I would have let him go. I would have realized. I could have done anything. I just-”

“Then, why? Why didn’t you let me in then?” 

The look on Katya's face can only be described as pity. She offers Trixie a half hearted smile. 

“Because I was scared. It sums up most of my life really.”

Placing a soft smudge of a kiss to Katya’s neck, Trixie murmurs, “are you less scared with me? I’m less scared with you.”

“Honest: Yes. And that means, so much to me Trixie. If I'd looked for someone who made me feel less scared instead of fucking-" Katya cuts herself off. She sighs. "Now, I regret not realizing just how much earlier.”

Trixie wraps an arm around Katya and pulls her closer again, “I wish I’d realized earlier. I wish he’d never got to you because I was there. I wish-”

“I have you now. We’ll manage,” Katya declares. Trixie grins at her. “You’re just going to have to put up with some of my baggage.”

Trixie puts a finger over Katya’s lips. “You’re better than being ‘put up’ with.”

Katya grins before kissing Trixie again. “Thank you.”

Stroking fingers through Katya’s hair, Trixie responds, “you don’t have to thank me for that.”

Hands end up petting Katya’s thigh, Katya giggles. Katya’s hands rest on either side of Trixie’s face. “You know that’s not all I’m thanking you for.”

 


 

 

Trixie risks holding Katya’s hand as they walk out of the motel. It already felt like they had a secret, but now they have another. 

When Katya squeezes her hand, Trixie knows that this is her favourite secret yet.

 


 

 

The laundromat is basically empty. Trixie can’t exactly say she’s mad about that. Katya found two pairs of sunglasses in the corner store next door. Each pair covers about half of Trixie’s face.

“We look like a shit SWAT team,” Trixie jokes.

Katya snorts, she jumps to sit on top of a washing machine, “bitch, we are a shit SWAT team.”

Smiling, Trixie adds “if that washing machine makes you cum quicker than I did, I’m leaving you.” Smirking, Katya rocks her hips on the machine. She moans. “Katya, don’t-”

A long babble of Russian erupts from Katya, ending in a high pitched squeak. Trixie ends up howling with laughter.

“We’re trying to keep a low profile, and you’re going to get us arrested for public indecency bitch,” Trixie points out.

Nobody looks at them, Katya checks. She jumps off the machine anyway.

“Shit ride for a robotic guy.” Katya shrugs.

Giggling, Trixie shakes her head. “I hate you.”

Katya pokes Trixie’s arm. A smile spreads over her lips. “Honest?”

Shaking her head, Trixie puts a hand over Katya’s for a moment. “Honest: I could never hate you.”

Katya grins before checking on their clothes.

 


 

 

Trixie chucks the two suitcases full of clean clothes onto the backseat. The glasses feel ridiculous, but it is sunny. A long ponytail brushes her back as she moves. She prays that she’s not recognisable.

Katya’s ordering at a small diner along the road from the laundromat. The truck is parked outside it. When Trixie slams the door and looks up, she can spot Katya through the window.

Katya’s hair is piled on top of her head in a bun. The shirt and skirt she picked out to not wash and actually wear today cover most of her skin. Trixie’s pretty sure that’s her shirt, but it’s too plain for her to be sure. Long fingers are wrapped around the cup that Katya raises to her lips, Trixie’s pretty sure that it’s coffee. She waves at Trixie lightly with her spare hand, and smiles at her.

Beautiful.

Her stomach growls and she decides to spend less time admiring Katya from a distance and more time up close.

 


 

 

Their waitress has a short ginger bob and grins at them as she passes them their breakfasts. Katya’s already paid. Trixie reads the waitress’s name badge, Jinkx. The place is pretty much empty bar the staff.

“So where are you two headed on this fine morning?” Jinkx asks.

Katya grins back.“We’re just looking around.” She continues to try and be charming. “We went out last night, so sunglasses felt like the best way to mask our shame.”

Snorting, Jinkx replies, “I’ve been there enough times believe me.” Her tone is conspiratorial and playing. Trixie raises an eyebrow under the glasses, how does she do it? “I can make you a hangover cure if you want, it’ll be on the house. I’m romancing the owner-”

Another redhead waitress turns to interrupt as she walks past.

“No! You’re not! I’m married!-”

With a wide grin, she carries on walking. Jinkx watches her go.

“Okay, maybe I’m not actually fucking Ivy. But goddamit if she hasn’t thought about it,” Jinkx laughs. Katya chuckles with her. Smiling whilst looking on, Trixie can’t help but feel like an outsider. “I’ll get you those smoothies, full of vitamin C. It does a body wonders ya know.”

Jinkx skips away.

 


 

 

Two remarkably good smoothies and a full stomach each later, Katya feels replenished. She’s been more uplifted today than she has in months. After Jinkx’s teasing with Ivy, which continued for the entire duration of their stay, Katya figured they were probably safe to hold hands. It felt sweet. It felt normal.

“Bye!” Jinkx shouts as they walk out.

“See you soon!” Ivy adds. There’s a little pang in Katya’s chest when she hears that.

Her and Trixie are fleeting. She thinks about that for the entire debate over who’s driving, the horrible sensation of letting go of Trixie’s hand, and an hour of the journey. There’s silence as they past sun filled fields. There’s miles and miles of crops and nothing else. There’s very little for Katya to be distracted by. It’s just the truck, and the wild, and them.

It gets too much for Katya. “Are we just temporary?” Katya asks.

The doom sets in. Of course.

“I’m pretty sure I’m stuck with you til the end of the road,” Trixie answers. “Not much leaving you now.” She reaches over and squeezes Katya’s leg. The smile on her face grows when she sees the fear in Katya’s. “Honest: We are not temporary, we have made our mark on the world.” Trixie grimaces for a second, “even if we’re not entirely happy with our ‘legacy’, you can’t say we won’t be remembered.”

There’s more moments of silence whilst Katya drinks in the words. She bites her lip, nods, looks at the fields.

“Honest: If you could start again, go back to who you were seven years ago and not meet me and avoid this fucking mess, would you?”

Trixie shakes her head before the sentence is over, “you know how I feel Katya.” Looking over, she sees Katya offer her a smile, “you were my whole world before this. If I’m your strength, then you’re my...”

“Nouns help-”

“You’re my ground. My pillar. You’re my pillar. We’re not temporary, because we care about each other. However often I’m confused about, I don’t know, what I feel, how you manage the things you do, life, you always seem to make it alright.” She quickly blows Katya a kiss, “they should bottle you. You’d be a bestseller.”

“A bestseller? Don’t make me go back to street corners. Please,” Katya teases. Trixie snorts, and Katya beams.

 


 

 

This journey is different. Good feelings come and stay, for once. Katya isn’t afraid to touch Trixie too much. She’s more afraid to touch her too little.

She doesn’t want this to ever end. If they’re lucky, and neither of them have a lot of luck in their track record, maybe it never will.

 


 

 

It’s not that it’s hard to talk, it’s just that they run out of subjects. Everything Katya wants to talk about is either them, or something that hurts. There’s only so much that can be discussed when starting something with someone without freaking them out.

So Katya turns on the radio.

“Halleloo! It’s ya girls Shangela Edwards-”

“And Laganja Edwards here.”

“Was her name a dope reference?” Katya interrupts, gaining a snort from Trixie.

“That’s just in case you forgot of course, and we are the-” Shangela continues.

Both of them together say, “unforgettable and, legendary House of Edwarss!”

Laganja carries on, “Now, on today’s show, we got some great upcoming hits that’ll get you dancin’ at the club-”

“and some old-school classics that’ll get you dancin’ at the club.”

The two hosts laugh together, Trixie ends up smiling with them, “what are we listening to? They sound like they just showered in Red Bull.”

Katya shrugs, “they entertain me.” She reaches out for the radio and changes the station.

She flips through different pieces of music. Classical, reggae and pop all dance past her ears, then she finds the station she was looking for.

“We have our next hourly news update coming up after these messages,” the announcer says. His voice is familiar. After the Russian station was cancelled, this became one of her substitutes. They need to keep up on the news.

So they wait.

 


 

“The news is up after this last song. We have-”

“Are we important enough to be mentioned on radio?” Trixie grimaces.

With a shrug, Katya responds, “maybe?"

Fields are still going by. Sun is still beating down. The world doesn’t know anything’s wrong.

“They have to have seen the damage-” Trixie starts, cutting herself off. Some of the damage is still visible on Katya, dammit. The police have  got to guess. She sighs, “I can’t wrap my head around everything that’s happened. It doesn’t feel, real?”

Katya grins, “it’s a good surreal. I feel more-” she thinks through her words. “Alive. I feel more alive than I have in a long time,” she concludes. Trixie’s eyebrows raise before she smiles. Reaching out, Katya taps Trixie’s leg. “It’s amazing what a little danger, detoxing and sex can do, isn’t it?”

Trixie laughs, “what a fucking miracle.”

Katya taps Trixie again, “it’s almost like my life was really fucking bad, isn’t it?”

Laughing, Trixie shakes her head, “I hope it’s better now at least.”

“Oh yeah, and isn’t that crazy?” Katya jokes. The song is drawing to a close. Sweat starts to appear on Katya’s palms.

“Kinda,” Trixie answers. The song ends.

“And now, the news!” the announcer says. Katya detests him for sounding so damn fucking cheery about it. A small piece of introductory music plays. They’re not important enough to be talked about first at least. However, they do come up. “Police are expanding their search for Katya Zamolodchikova and Trixie Mattel after new evidence has confirmed theory of their movement southward,” Katya flinches in her seat.

“Fuck,” Trixie announces. There’s nobody travelling towards them in either direction on this endless road. She slows the car to a stop.

“Trixie Mattel’s vehicle was discovered in a national park by a ranger. The car is believed to have been abandoned for at least a day. They have also been seen at a gas station in Philadelphia driving in a new vehicle, a blue 1995 Nissan Patrol. The pair are not described as being dangerous, but police would like to get in contact with anyone who has seen either one of them. The pair are both just under six foot and blonde haired. Both of them are potentially showing signs of a physical fight. There are pictures on our website of both women aswell as more details. Police advice to not approach the two, however they are not seen as an immediate threat. Our next story-”

Katya reaches forward and turns off the radio. She looks over at Trixie, who looks back. Their mouths fall open. The sun is going down.

There's a devestating silence. 

“We don’t have-” Trixie starts.

“Keep driving. Is there anywhere we can pull over near here?” Katya asks. “Like, a way side or lay by? Places to stop for a while that won’t end up in us getting rear ended?”

Stunned, Trixie swallows and nods. She pushes down on the accelerator. There’s been regular places to pull over on the road. Paths to different farms and villages. Katya’s biting her fingernails. Her legs are shaking. They know their truck. They know the direction they’re travelling in. They’re fucked. It’s a crackdown.

“I love empty space,” Trixie whispers.

Katya’s thoughts are derailed. She looks over at Trixie, “why?”

Trixie shrugs, “reminds me of home.” A small pullover space is approaching, Trixie drives into it. The smooth drive becoming bumpier for a second until the engine cuts. “When I was little, we lived in this tiny house. My Mom and my siblings. I had to share a room with my sister. There was this massive corn field to the left of us, and we’d play in it after school.” Katya watches the way Trixie’s mouth moves. A pained smile spreads across Trixie’s face, “and it was nice.” Her voice raises in pitch at the end of her sentence, cracking slightly.

It hurts. This all hurts. Why is it that whenever they get close to something good, something bad kicks them in the ass? 

“Let's make out on the back seat,” Katya suggests.

Trixie scowls at her before laughing, “why?”

Katya starts unbuckling herself, and pushing her seat down so it’s flat. She grabs Trixie’s hand for a second, she strokes it. “My life has improved drastically over the last week. I’m not ready to let it go away.”

For a moment, Trixie considers fighting it. But she doesn’t. She pushes her seat down too so that there’s more space to move. She sits on the back seat with Katya. They kiss and they kiss until they don’t remember the news. It’s okay, for a moment.

Katya sits on Trixie’s lap, and has her arms over Trixie’s shoulders. Her hands on her lover’s back. They rest their foreheads together and smile at each other.

“No matter what happens, I will always remember this,” Trixie whispers.

Katya nods, kissing Trixie again. “No matter what happens, I will always be glad this happened.”

They pull each other closer, and they don’t notice when the sun goes down.

Chapter Text

Sleeping on the side of an empty road in the country wasn’t exactly the plan, but that didn’t make it any less pleasurable. Katya spends most of the night looking up at the sky through the window. Trixie’s tucked into her arms.

She counts each star and just breathes.

It is so beautiful. When everything was awful, Katya could never appreciate it. When her mind was running in circles because of a substance or drink, the stars seemed irrelevant. Too far away to matter.

Katya usually hates thinking, but she doesn’t mind this. It’s peaceful. She is content to gaze at burning orbs of gas millions of miles away from all of this.

It makes her feel irrelevant, but that’s a good thing. Everything and nothing is temporary. It doesn’t matter if there are still bruises on her body, because there is enough time in the world for that bruise to heal. It doesn’t matter that they should have kissed for the first time a long time ago. It doesn’t matter that they both have regrets that are too long for them to list.

None of it matters, because they are fixing it. Fixing what they can fix. Katya thinks that makes them admirable. What makes them admirable is how damn hard they are trying.

Katya guesses that there are different kinds of mistakes. There’s a difference between a mistake that hurts someone permanently and temporarily. Temporary mistakes are the forgiving kind. Permanent mistakes make you a monster, they are corrupt and sick and inexcusable.

The issue is that no matter how far away the stars are and how irrelevant Katya’s mistakes are, there is still a dead man on her conscience.

Katya will pay for her mistakes. The honeymoon phase is over. Looking up at the burning dark sky, Katya knows that. The police are on their way. Each flaw of Katya will be cracked open and exposed. Her mama will cry and it will be something she cannot fix.

Katya almost wouldn’t mind paying for her mistakes. But, somewhere along the way, Trixie came into it.

And of course she did. Of course. Katya couldn’t have just fucked up by herself. She had to leave behind a body and blood on Trixie’s hands.

The world will want Trixie to pay too. Trixie thinks she has to pay too.

Katya isn’t going to let that happen. Looking over at her sleeping lover, she smiles. Trixie is nearly naked, and snoring a little.

If this is drawing to a close, if this is ending and they are now clutching at time, then Katya finally knows what she wants to do.

 


 

 

“He’s like husband material,” Trixie said. The man in question leaned across the bar. Katya could see where Trixie was coming from. His suit was pressed, his hair slicked back. His grin seemed easy.

“He looks like he’d bore the fuck out of you and then be boring whilst fucking,” Katya responded. Trixie snorted.

“I’m just desperate to trap a husband, or wife, I don’t give a fuck anymore. Just be able to cook. And love me, loving me would be a bonus-”

“You could do better than that,” Katya interrupted. “You deserve somebody that adores the pussying-fucking-fuck out of your whole self.”

Trixie snorted into her cocktail. “Eloquent.”

“True,” Katya argued. “If you’re so hung up on marriage, which I don’t get by the way, then it better be with someone that’s-I don’t even know. Worthy of how great you are. Because you’re my favourite and I know best.”

The man walked away from the bar, and neither of them ever saw him again.

They shared a look. Trixie smiled and blushed a little.

“I just like the idea of marriage. It appeals to me. I want the whole white picket fence, two point five kids, a dog and clinical depression thing.”

Katya shrugged before finishing her drink. “That makes sense. Let's dance.”

 


 

 

On the walk home from that night out, Trixie was silent. Katya was content to look at the stars, or rather the light pollution, and enjoy the moment. It was cold.

“Why haven’t you ever wanted to get married?” Trixie asked.

The question stunned Katya. She immediately stopped looking at the sky and started looking at Trixie. Their shoes clacked against the floor in a disjointed rhythm.

“I-I don’t really know? I’m a fucking burlesque dancer who just about manages to pay the rent and I’m not a very easy person to love. I’ve just never put that much thought into it.”

“If you did think about it, do you think you’d want to?” Trixie inquired.

“You sound like my Mama, Trixie,” Katya chuckled. She looked up again. “I don’t really know. I’ll think about it and get back to you on it.”

They changed the subject. Katya did think about it, but she never really talked to Trixie about it.

 


 

Trixie wakes up with a crick in her neck and an impending sense of doom, the usual really. Katya’s eyes are shut, so Trixie shuts hers again. The skin that touches Katya’s just a little bit too hot. There’s hair in Trixie’s mouth.

They’ve got to move at some point. At irregular and infrequent points, cars have been driving past. It’ll only be so long until someone gets curious, and that somebody finds two criminals.

“Are you dead to the world still?” Katya whispers.

Trixie chuckles. “Is it a Tuesday?”

Katya pokes Trixie in the side. “I feel like you’re joking, but I don’t actually know?”

The two, at the moment of stress, find this completely hilarious.  

“I don’t give a shit what day of the week it is,” Trixie answers.

Katya leans over and kisses the back of Trixie’s neck after brushing her hair to the side. “Everyday with you is a Friday afternoon anyway.”

The way Trixie moves captivates Katya. Her lover sits up, her bare torso twisting exquisitely, and runs a hand through her hair. At the end, Katya gets shot a lazy grin. Katya melts.

“How come?” Trixie asks.

Katya remains still. Trixie sits up against the window. A handle digs into her lower back. Picking up her  Katya’s shirt, Trixie pulls it over her head. She searches around for her underwear. The car still smells lightly of sex.

“Everyday is just sort of, lighter and exciting than without you,” Katya answers. She sits up, reaches underneath the passenger seat, and pulls out Trixie’s panties. “For you,” she offers with a grin.

Trixie snorts before taking them. She pulls them on, nearly knocking her head on the roof of the car. A glare is shot at Katya when she laughs.

“You’re a cunt,” Trixie says, flicking Katya’s arm.

Katya carries on wheezing. “I’m your cunt.”

Interrupting the conversation, Trixie’s stomach rumbles. Katya stops laughing, the two of them look at each other.

“We need to eat, don’t we?” Katya asks. If she’s honest, she’s too distracted to think about what her body needs.

Trixie considers it, poking her tongue into cheek, before nodding. “Probably, yeah.” Sigh escaping her, she looks over at the long empty road. “The next town is about an hour away. If we plan, we could probably get in and out of it in a few minutes.”

Katya and Trixie look into eachother’s eyes. Reassurance. They both crave some sort of reassurance. Trixie, that this is going to be okay. Katya, that Trixie will be okay.

“You,” Katya starts. “You-You do realize that if the news are pushing us, and anybody recognizes us-”

“Shut up,” Trixie interrupts. Katya’s eyebrows raise, her mouth flounders. “Just shut up before you worry yourself. We’ll be fine. We’ve just gotta make it work.”

Astounded, Katya nods. “Trixie, I-” Katya’s voice gets quieter. Trixie leans in to hear her and Katya takes her hand. “Trixie, we’ve always had deals. It started with, the whole honesty thing? I want to make a new deal. Honest: are you okay with that?”

Trixie smiles in confusion, “of course?”

Squeezing Trixie’s hand, she pulls her closer. “Okay then, I want to make a bucket list-”

“We’re already doing bits off of that-”

“A proper written out one,” Katya says. She strokes the side of Trixie’s face. “We might not have much time left Trixie. And, I don’t want to waste anything we have left. So my deal is this, we do a bucket list and,” the words catch in Katya’s throat.

"And what?"

“We do a bucket list and if we don’t get caught, if we make it long enough and we make a new life, you’ll marry me.”

Trixie freezes in shock. Katya flinches. All of their movement ceases, and Trixie’s eyes widen. Mouth dropped open, Trixie finally chokes out, “what?”

“I-I,” Katya starts. She coughs, and smiles at Trixie. “I want to marry you. I’ve spent too long being unhappy, you make me happy. I won’t ever be able to love another stranger. That’s been ruined for me. And I’m scared, I admit that. I’m terrified, I’m not stupid. But I trust you,” Katya explains. “I love you. I want to marry you.”

Heart beating ever faster, Trixie’s palms sweat. She fumbles for an answer, “Katya, I thought you-”

“I get it if you don’t want to. I won’t resent you. I’m older than you, I have a lot of baggage. It’s kinda rushed, and insane. I just thought I’d-”

Katya is interrupted with a hard kiss on the lips. They pull away.

Trixie grins. “Yekaterina Petrovna Zamolodchikova, are you thinking we double barrel our last names or not?” Katya’s heart stops, relief spreading across her face. “That’s a yes, by the way. I love you too, and if this is how you want to do this, then I’m down. I’ve always wanted to get married anyway.”

Katya kisses Trixie again. Smiles stick to both of their faces.

“There’s no point in letting the past hold us back,” Katya whispers. “Not anymore.”

There’s a freedom to the statement. Despite their morning breath and mismatched clothes, Trixie can’t help but press their mouths together again. She wants more Katya. She’s always going to want more Katya. Pleasant hums come from both of them. Trixie pulls away.

“You didn’t answer the question,” Trixie reminds her before kissing Katya’s neck. Katya closes her eyes.

“Double barrel,” Katya whispers. “I want to belong to you, and I want you to belong to me.”

Pulling away again, Trixie faces Katya. They smile at each other for a long moment of silence.

“Does that help?” Trixie asks. “With how scary it is? And that’s what I want too.”

“of course! Fucking, I may not be completely okay all the time. I’m not completely healed, but fuck it, I was never completely broken.” She rushes a kiss to Trixie’s mouth again. “You make me believe I’m going to be okay. I will heal more, but I want to heal with you. You make me believe I will be. You always have done. You’re my best friend! You’re more than that. And I love you. I love you! I may be scared, but with you, it’s never like, terrifying?”

Hands rest on each of Trixie’s shoulders. Trixie smiles, and rests their foreheads together. Each of them shut their eyes. Their hearts race with a mixture of excitement and fear. A peaceful moment hangs over them. That doesn’t happen very often anymore.

“So, I’m marrying you, what’s first on the bucket list?” Trixie asks.

Katya shrugs, “I dunno, get breakfast?”

Snorting, Trixie pulls away.

 


 

 

“So, I’m going to get gas, you’re going to pay for it and get food?” Trixie reiterates.

Katya nods. They’ve circled the neighbourhood twice, and found no police cars. Katya’s not loosened her grip of Trixie’s arm. “Yes,” she finally answers.

Slowly nodding, Trixie pulls up the gas station and up to a pump.

Katya’s heart is racing as she puts on her sunglasses. All it’ll take is one person. One person, and they’re fucked.

“I love you,” Katya whispers.

“I love you too,” Trixie responds. They take each other’s hands, and Katya squeezes.

 


 

 

Katya can see Trixie filling up the car from here. Her simple shirt and skirt combo clearly Katya’s style apposed to Trixie’s own. Her hair is a mess, the sunglasses cover most of her face. Katya could scream, jump up and down. However, she is trying to keep a low profile.

Trixie’s hers. They’re going to get married. Maybe, just maybe, Katya can live a normal and happy life. Perhaps she just needed someone to want one for her too.

Katya walks past a the candy selection with a basket. Grinning, she spots the desired confection. It’s light in her hands, but it’ll make Trixie laugh. The other food in the station is pretty samey. Pre-packed sandwiches that look just slightly disappointed with their existence. A rainbow of chips and artificial snacks. Katya picks up a selection, enough to last them at least a day. The basket in Katya’s grip is almost full. It’s then that she stumbles upon a small selection of travel helps: torches, maps and lighters. Katya throws a map into the basket, along with a pen and a small notebook.

The employee behind the desk is nose deep in a magazine. There’s no blonde hair or sharp edge to this one. Oddly enough, Katya wouldn’t have minded running into Sharon here.

Name tags seem to be a universal feature, and this one reads ‘Alaska’.

Alaska seems pleasant enough. There’s an endearing feature to her, and Katya laughs when Alaska gestures to the glasses and asks “have fun last night?”

“Too much actually,” Katya responds. She’s packing a bag. Despite not exactly feeling threatened by Alaska, Katya’s palms sweat. There’s nobody else in the station.

“Is your friend not coming in to meet you?” Alaska asks. She puts the last item through the register, “that’ll be 19 dollars.”

Katya’s smile isn’t forced as she hands over the cash, despite the fact that they’re running out of it.

“She’s shy,” Katya lies.

Snorting, Alaska gives her the change “did she have fun last night too?”

Shrugging, Katya puts the note into her pocket. “I fucking hope so,” Katya jokes.

Alaska laughs, “have a good day.”

Shooting a thumbs up as she walks out, Katya replies “you too!”

 


 

 

“We going to prison?” Trixie jokes as Katya gets in the car.

Katya rolls her eyes. “Drive, you filthy piece of ass,” Katya orders.

Hitting the gas and pulling out of the station, Trixie laughs at herself. Katya laughs with her.

“That’d better be a no,” Trixie says.

A head shake. “Don’t think so.”

Trixie smirks. “Did you flirt with the cashier again?”

Katya snorts, “‘course not, I’m taken.”

Raising an eyebrow, Trixie coughs out “because that’s stopped you before.”

Chuckling, “I was buying an engagement ring, so that would have been awkward.”

“How the-” Katya reaches into the bag, and pulls out a candy ring. Trixie stares at it for a second before comprehending. “Oh my god! I love it. What colour is it?”

Katya shrugs, “either purple and pink, red and black or blue and green.” Trixie focuses on driving again. The roads are pretty empty. Not many people must be headed to Miami. Pulling at the top of the packet, Katya opens the candy ring. A wide grin slaps itself onto Katya’s face, “guess what Trixie?”

Trixie giggles, “is it fucking pink? I’m not marrying you if it’s green.”

“You wouldn’t marry me because of your perception of a colour? You wouldn’t marry me because of a concept? Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words hurt my damn feelings Trixie-”

“Is it pink Katya?”

Katya grins. “It’s pink.”

 


 

 

The ring doesn’t quite fit. It ends up going onto Trixie’s pinkie instead of her ring finger.

With determination, Katya scours the map. Trixie absentmindedly sucks at the candy on her hand whilst she drives. Without looking, Katya reaches out for Trixie’s wrist, pulls Trixie’s hand to her mouth and sucks hard on the ring.

“Ew!”

Grinning, “I’ve done worse to your genitals,” Katya points out.

“Not my hand though you cunt!” Trixie pulls her hand away from Katya’s mouth whist Katya cackles. It is funny, but Trixie does feel grossed out. She carries on sucking at her own engagement ring. “What are you doing with that anyway? Looking for more back paths to Miami?” Trixie asks.

“Nah, I’m looking for a reason to go on-”

“Katya!”

“Kidding! I’m looking for a park,” Katya answers.

Trixie scowls, “why?”

“I need some time out of the car to make our bucket list and I think better in parks.”

“I thought you didn’t think at all?”

“You’re a fucking bitch!”

 


 

 

There’s a large park about a half hour west. All Katya needs is an isolated bench, somewhere to park and the sun. She’s lucky. It ends up having all three of those.

“Must be a school day,” Trixie points out.

“Huh?”

“There’s no kids around.”

Looking at their surroundings, Trixie’s right. “You never told me you were smart,” Katya says.

The park isn’t as isolated as the national park. There’s buildings around, roads in the distance. An empty football field and a few other groups of people dotted in far corners. However, there’s no noise except the small brush of breeze in the trees and animals. With the bag in Katya’s hand, the two of them head for the bench on edge of the park. From there, they can see their car, everybody that arrives at the park and everybody that is already there.

“I’ve always been smart,” Trixie teases. She holds Katya’s spare hand.

This feels almost normal. Like an actual date or something. Trixie’s candy ring has been eaten now, leaving her with a small plastic band of purple. She washed off the stickiness in the park water fountain when she arrived.

Katya smiles at Trixie again. The bruise on top of her eye is now a pale yellow, barely noticeable. Mostly healed.

“How do you think everybody would react? To us getting together? Those rotted cunts?” Katya asks.

 


 

 

Early last year, they’d had a movie night at Trixie’s place. Usually, Katya was the first one there. This time it was Kim, Trixie’s childhood friend who’d just moved to New York. It made sense that Kim was there first, as the movie night was a subtle introduction tactic. Plus, Kim brought donuts and beer so Trixie wasn’t exactly mad. Not to mention that their communication flowed as easily as it did with Katya.

Ginger turned up next, bringing with her the smell of perfume mixed with cigarettes and a six pack of beers. She’d verbally harassed Trixie on her arrival, but that was just Ginger. Trixie would have never counted her becoming a good friend when they first met, but Katya liked her. Trixie never was sure when Katya’s friends became Trixie’s.

“Where’s Kat?” Ginger asked.

Trixie shrugged. “With the man she trapped I imagine. She didn’t say she was going to be anywhere but home today.”

Ginger snorted, “you’re both so in each other’s pockets, you may as well be her Jiminy Cricket.”

“Girl-”

“Aw! The rest of your body would finally match your buggy eyes!” Kim added, collapsing onto the couch next to Ginger.

“Girl!” Trixie shouted.

The two other friends laughed together. Ginger’s dirty laugh contrasting Kim’s giggle. Trixie sat across from them and ended up chuckling along.

Quarter of an hour later, Fame arrived with Pearl. Both of them had been working the last shift at the store and made their way to Trixie’s together. Fame was a nervous ball of energy like usual. Pearl was the complete opposite.

“Where’s Katya?” Fame asked ten minutes after arriving.

“I don’t know, she’ll be here,” Trixie answered. She passed a drink to Pearl.

“I thought you two were basically married anyway,” Pearl said.

Rolling her eyes, Trixie sat down anyway. “Don’t make Fame too jealous,” Trixie responded.

“That was a long time ago- Wait! She doesn’t know about that does she?”

“Katya’s loved up anyway.”

“By Trixie?”

“Nah, she’s got a boy. She’s living with him, remember Pearl?”

“Why is she doing that if she’s fucking Trixie?”

“Because Trixie’s playing hard to get-” Kim started

“And won’t sit on her face,” Ginger finished.

“You’re all the fucking worst,” Trixie concluded.

“Don’t be hateful because it’s true,” Ginger responds. The atmosphere is friendly, but there’s a tension in Trixie’s jaw. She fiddles with her nails.

“Remember, spaghetti is straight until it gets hot,” Pearl added.

“You stole that from Violet-” Trixie snorted.

“And like I said to Violet, that’s when you put it in your mouth,” Ginger cracked.

The room laughed. Trixie tries to take the pressure off of her.

“Let’s be real, Katya and Violet would be more likely to fuck than me and her.”

“They do have similar attitudes to it,” Pearl noted.

The buzzer went, and the devil they were speaking of arrived. It was always jarring to see Violet in casual clothing, like this time. As she walked in, Pearl asked “would you fuck Katya?”

She stopped mid-walk. Looked up, and nodded. “I know up and close that she wouldn’t disappoint. She’s also more flexible than me.”

There was no space left on couches, so Violet sat on the ground. Trixie sat next to her and offered her a beer. All of them faced the TV.

“So if Katya’s more flexible, how come you’re the one still doing burlesque?”

Trixie phased out of the conversation. She knew how it was bound to go, and she trusted Violet to defend Katya if necessary and it’s not exactly like Violet needs someone to stand up for her. Violet and Trixie had very little in common, but they both loved Katya. That was enough for them to get along.

“So Katya could show Trixie a good time?” Kim asked. Trixie snapped back to attention to Kim’s raised eyebrows. Trust the conversation to circle back.

“Katya would treat her so right, but like, the fucking would be intense bitch. Intense.”

“The bitch is intense,” Pearl noted. The words caused a small round of agreeing murmurs, and nods.

“She’s got a boyfriend, living with him remember?” Trixie reminded them. “Been dating him for like six months now?”

“Bit quick to move in isn’t it?” Fame interjected.

“More importantly,” Ginger interrupted. “Why was ‘she’s not single’ your first defense instead of ‘I don’t see her that way’?”

Trixie rolled her eyes at Ginger’s smugness. The others all smirked too.

“I don’t see her that way,” Trixie reiterated.

“Then why haven’t you dated anybody since you met her?” Kim asked.

Their eyes meet. The thing that Trixie always found with having Kim around, is that Kim knew her just that little bit too well. She was always a chapter ahead of Trixie when it came to realizing the things Trixie wanted. Trixie could claim to have some of the reverse too, but not to the same degree.

The buzzer went. Katya arrived. Trixie tried to forget it, and focused instead on why Katya wasn’t smiling quite as much as she usually did.

 


 

 

“They’d be happy about it,” Trixie answers.

They climb onto opposite sides of the bench. Katya sits facing the park, carefully watching their surroundings as she unpacks their bag of food. Picking up a sandwich, Trixie begins to munch quietly. It’s hard to contain her grin. Even if Katya’s searching eyes remind her of just how unstable all of this is.

Katya looks to the far left of the park, where a tall bald man walks next to a shorter woman. Even from this distance, Katya can hear her laughter. Even if she has Trixie, the sight reminds Katya of the other friends she has. The people she left behind in Boston. Violet. Ginger. Kennedy, another yoga instructor who she’d been meaning to introduce to Trixie for months. Kennedy was the first person to notice Katya’s bruising. God, if Katya regrets anything it’s not listening to Kennedy then.

The sight also reminds Katya of her family. All the pain she’s caused.

Trixie reaches across the table and takes Katya’s hand. The plastic ring scrapes across Katya’s fingers.

“Stop thinking so hard,” Trixie says.

Katya sighs, she smiles at her lover. “I should have told you. I was scared. I should have told somebody about the bad things with me and him. But it was hard, and I was scared, and people do things they shouldn’t do when they’re scared. I tried to ignore it. I wish I’d told you. Then, I wouldn’t be so damaged. None of this would have happened. I would have realized how much you mean to me without any of the bad shit. We could have moved into your flat, got a cute dog. Fuck, I probably would have asked you to marry me again. You might have convinced me to adopt. Though, I’m getting a little old to be a Mama-”

“That’s a lie. We still take care of Violet.”

Folding over, Katya laughs loudly. The sound is probably audible a block away. Trixie beams.

“You know what I mean,” Katya concludes.

Squeezing Katya’s hand, Trixie responds “I wish you would have too. But we’re here now. And we have each other. And we have the rest of our lives together for you to heal and me to help you. No matter what happens to our lives, we have that.” They smile. It’s a light moment. The sun shines. “Now, bitch, you need to eat.”

Katya rolls her eyes and picks up a granola bar. “You’ve domesticated me.”

Giggling, Trixie teases “I’ve trapped me a woman! I didn’t even have to ask you to marry me. Even though, it’s literally been a week-”

“I figure we wait a while before we get married. Long term engagement. It’s not an immediate thingy, I’m just making it harder for you to leave me.”

“I never will leave you,” Trixie confirms. A little bit of the weight on both of their hearts lifts. “Now, I know you suck at multitasking due to your stupidity-”

“Hey! I went to-”

“Community college, yeah, blah blah blah.” Trixie chuckles, Katya smirks. “You also went from community college into burlesque dancing,” Trixie points out.

There’s a grin on Katya’s face when she points at Trixie. “That’s just shaming me for an art form!”

Trixie snorts into her food. “There’s nothing with it! But you’re not exactly a doctor Katya, let’s face it.”

Katya shrugs., “It’s not stupid to earn money. Even if some it fueled my addictions-”

“I respect and admire all of your history. You don’t have to defend yourself. I’m only kidding,” Trixie interrupts.

The smile on Katya’s face is lopsided, matching a raised eyebrow. She bites into the bar. “All of my history?”

Another hand squeeze. “Everything that led to you being you is a good thing, you fucking whore.” It elicits a wheezing laugh from Katya, so Trixie counts it as a victory. “Eat your food,” Trixie orders. A smile. “We’ll make the bucket list after.”

 


 

 

Eating takes twice as long as it should do on account of them both throwing the wrappers at each other.

Trixie writes her first draft of the list in the notebook Katya bought whilst Katya puts their stuff in the bin.

 

  • Get married.
  • Go to Miami.
  • Get surfing lessons.
  • GET A CAT!
  • Actually cook something half decent.
  • Teach Trixie (the hot one) Russian
  • Teach Katya (the hotter one) guitar.

 

Katya comes back, and sits silently. She makes grabby hands for the pen and paper, so Trixie gives it up. She looks around the park whilst Katya writes. When Katya finishes scrawling, Trixie gets up, goes around the bench and looks over Katya’s shoulder.

 


 

 

  • Get married.
  • Go to Miami and LA!
  • Get surfing lessons
  • GET A CAT! + Dog(s) + Friendly Lizard?
  • Actually cook something half decent. I can cook. You’re just bad.
  • Teach Trixie (the hotter one) Russian and French (I speak that too)
  • Teach Katya (the hotter one) guitar and tap dancing, and make up.
  • Learn first aid (practical and necessary)
  • Move somewhere and paint the bedroom pink (I want a red bathroom. At least one Russian flag. I have a heritage)
  • Speaking of, can I name at least one pet after a Russian gymnast?  Friendly Pretty Bitchy Independant Guard Lizard would really suit Svetlana.
  • Open a yoga studio (I mean, probably not ever going to happen. But we can dream?)
  • Get a proper engagement ring.

 

Trixie’s smile just increases in size as she reads each bullet point. At the end, Trixie leans down and kisses Katya on the cheek.

“What’d I ever do to deserve you?” Trixie asks.

Turning her head, Katya presses a kiss to Trixie’s lips, “you listened, understood and helped. The real question is, what did I do to deserve you?”

Trixie sits down next to Katya, “you kept going”

 


 

 

They end up laying in the grass, bathing in the sun and pointing at clouds. Trixie doesn’t think she stops laughing for the entire time; Katya’s hand warm in hers, her stomach full and her racing mind slowed for just a little while.

The bucket list is tucked into Katya’s jean pocket. Her shirt is probably stained. Then again, Trixie’s wearing Katya’s favourite shirt and that’s probably stained too. Oh well, Trixie makes it look better than Katya ever did anyway.

It’s a quiet moment.

Trixie thinks of their journey. The first meeting. The nicknames on each other’s phones which never changed. That slow move into being an irreplaceable part of their lives. The distance over the last few months.

“I thought you were moving on from me, when you stopped talking to me so much,” Trixie confesses.

She looks at Katya’s face. Katya doesn’t flinch, but Trixie’s attention is brought to the fading bruise on her face.

“Never,” Katya responds.

It feels good on Trixie’s chest, but there’s still a little regret. “I’m sorry I didn’t help you.”

“Couldn’t.”

Trixie scowls, “couldn’t?”

Katya smiles at her. “You’re not a psychic. We’ve been through this. You don’t need to take my guilt Trixie. You’re too cool for that.”

Trixie turns onto her side, she strokes Katya’s hair with her spare hand. “Would taking your guilt help you?”

Katya shakes her head, “you help me enough.” The sun is behind Trixie’s head, almost giving her a halo. The thought makes Katya amused.

“I would if I could,” Trixie insists. “I would do anything to make you feel better.”

Meeting Trixie’s eyes, Katya whispers “you help with the guilt. And you got rid of him before he did anything I couldn’t recover from.”

Trixie feels a little sick before she laughs. “That’s really a morally sound method Katya.”

“And now you’re standing with me whilst I recover, so ya know, you’re doing fine,” Katya adds. She leans up and kisses Trixie’s cheek. “And I’ve never been so happy.”

Trixie’s eyebrows raise. “Honest?”

Considering her words before she speaks, Katya concludes, “Honest: If it wasn’t for any of the circumstances, I’d be happy enough to die. But I’m happy enough to run to be able to live. I’m happy enough to try and forget every single mistake that put me in that husk of a life. Bitch, gimme that. You make me wanna fight to get out. ”

The words put an extra dosage of bliss into Trixie’s brain, “I love you, completely. I'm mad that I didn’t before we got into this mess.” She rests her head on Katya’s chest, “I’m sorry I didn’t save you, Katya.”

“I’m not,” Katya declares. She lifts her arm from her own side and puts it around Trixie. “You don’t need to save me. The journey’s half the struggle, ya know? Even if it was-” Katya sighs. “It was fucking awful. That doesn’t need to be repeated. And it won’t be. I am happy. You are happy. We’re both happy little cunts and, that’s great. Save yourself, be happy for yourself. Be happy with me though-”

“I mean, yes obviously Katya but-”

“But what’s the problem?”

Trixie raises an eyebrow at Katya again. Katya smirks back. Rolling in, Trixie leans in for another kiss, “the problem is that we’ve not been doing this since day one.”

Katya tries to wink, but she ends up blinking. “Then we have plenty to make up for.”

 


 

 

It’s a perfect day, almost. They don’t stay in the park much longer after that. Donning their sunglasses, they leave the park and resume their drive. The radio blares whilst Trixie drives. Katya rolls down the windows and laughs hysterically at Trixie’s whirling hair. After putting the windows up, Katya tries on each of Trixie’s lipsticks. The bright pinks don’t particularly suit her, but the smile Trixie has smeared onto her face makes Katya keep going.

It’s free, and it’s light, and it’s sunny. Neither of them worry about where they’ve been or where they’re going. And when the night comes in and the sun goes down, they decide to go to a motel again.

They’re so carefree, that they don’t notice the man behind the desk picking up the phone.  His jaw dropped, heart pacing as he pushes in the number.

Chapter Text

“How much money do we have left?”

“Just under three hundred dollars,” Katya answers.

"That enough to get us there?”

They just passed Washington DC. “It should be, this really does need to be the last motel though,” Katya says.

They’ve dumped their bags by the door. Trixie sits on the bed, back propped up against pillows and legs straight out. Katya walks to the bed, climbs on top of Trixie and kisses her. Trixie smiles into it. They bury themselves in eachother's kiss. Each touch is followed by another. It flows like nothing ever has before. It seems more natural than anything else ever could. They part, a centimetre away, to catch their breath. Katya grins again. It's as perfect as it could be. 

They break apart. Katya lays down, resting her head on Trixie’s shoulder.

It’s silent. Katya closes her eyes. She tastes vanilla on lips.

"We'll get there," Katya reaffirms. 

Trixie closes her eyes too. She pulls Katya closer into her side. Slowly, she rubs circles into Katya's back. It's peaceful. Content. 

There’s a bang on the door.

Katya freezes. Both of them scramble to sit up. Somewhere along the way, one of them grabs the other's hand. Panic.

The shouting of “Police! Open up!” confirms their worst beliefs.

They look at eachother. 

“No,” escapes Trixie’s mouth.

She’s breathless. It’s like she’s viewing this from an outsider’s perspective. Trixie is still wearing Katya’s clothes. Their eyes are wide, their breathing is uneven. 

“You’re surrounded! Come out with your hands up!”

Trixie swallows, there are tears in her eyes. Her voice breaks. “What do we do?”

Katya’s hyperventilation ends. She smiles at her lover. Pulling her closer, Katya presses a kiss to her mouth. Trixie, stunned, doesn’t return it.

It's odd. Katya's thought about what she was going to do if this happened. She thought she'd be scared, but she isn't. She's empty of everything but love. 

“Nothing,” Katya answers.

Trixie grabs either side of Katya’s face. “No. I just got you, I’m not losing you. I’m not going to jail. I’m not leaving you now. I need you. I need you.”

Hopelessness replaces fear in Katya’s chest. Trixie searches Katya’s eyes over and over again for a sign. Some glimmer of mischief, a spark.  This isn’t it. It’s too quick. They have too much left to do. Trixie doesn't want it to end like this. 

Katya starts to cry. “We’re not gunna make it to Miami,” Katya whispers.

A lone window on the motel room wall reveals blue and red light. What if they hadn’t have stopped? What if they go to prison? What if Katya hadn’t answered the phone when Trixie called to tell her about cosmetology? What if. 

Trixie pulls Katya into her arms. Swallowing, Trixie begins to cry too.

“No matter what, I love you. I love you deep,” Trixie whispers. "I love you no matter what. You are so loved."

They pull away. Katya spots the purple plastic ring that she gave her earlier. Trixie’s ‘engagement’ ring.

If anybody else had said what Trixie said to Katya, Katya wouldn’t have believed it. She was a witness to Katya’s alcoholism, the drugs, the dancing, the rehab, the recuperation. Trixie Mattel gave her everything she could. Somebody to talk to. A cheerleader. A north star that makes Katya laugh whilst leading her home. 

That’s what Katya has always been missing, a focus point. That’s what she tried again and again to find in everything she's ever distracted herself with. But she found it. She waited long enough and she got strong enough. She can’t bring herself to regret it a moment of it. If all of that hurt made her a better person at the end, for herself, then she can’t regret it. She regrets one thing, and one thing only.

“I love you too, Trixie Mattel.”

And she knows what she has to do. Katya doesn’t want to be the end of Trixie’s life. She can’t lose her focus point. Katya will take war upon war, battle upon battle, if Trixie is harm free. If Trixie is so adamant about taking Katya’s guilt, then Katya will take the pain. Sacrifice, that is what Katya has always done. She has always given herself, over and over, to people who don’t deserve it. 

Love is sacrifice that goes both ways. It is giving and receiving. It is a brilliant thing.  Katya can say that even if she isn’t sure if she deserves it, she’s glad she has it.

“Give ourselves in?” Trixie begs. Tears carry on running down her cheeks. 

Trixie interlaces their fingers. She never wants to be separated from Katya. Maybe if they cooperate, they won’t be taken apart. She’s spent too long staying silent. Maybe she’s always run from things. She ran from how she felt. She ran from boredom at home. She ran from love, life. No more running. Fight or flight. She’s going to fight. She’s determined to fight.

Katya knows a few more things about herself. Loving Trixie, that’s not news. Her history, that’s unchangeable. Her strength, that’s present but sometimes unacknowledged. Something Katya always lets herself forget is that she  isn’t stupid. She knows that this will work. 

“We’ll say I did it,” Katya says. Trixie’s eyes widen, she opens her mouth to protest before Katya interrupts. “He was hitting me, Trixie. They probably already think I did it too. My finger prints were all over that scene, my DNA. They won't have shit on you. We can get you off from this-”

Trixie pulls away. “I don’t want to get off from it!”

Trixie shouts. Katya looks at the door, she puts a finger on Trixie's lips.

“You have so much more than me to look forward to. Cosmetology, Trixie. You could still go,” Katya begs. The lights outside get brighter. Trixie grimaces. “You could go. Get famous. Make money. Make yourself a good life-”

Trixie's face is scrunched up. Katya thinks she looks amazing. 

“And, in this stupid idea, what happens to you Katya? What happens to you?”

Squeezing Trixie’s hand, Katya says “I go to prison. When I come out of there, we use the money you made and you buy me a drink. Not alcoholic though,” Katya jokes. "And we get married. We make it."

Trixie clutches back to Katya’s hand. “But they’ll still think I’m an accomplice. What about our bucket list? What about all of this evidence?”

Trixie points around the room. The suitcases.  Katya is stunned still for a moment. She’s right. How can she get Trixie off the hook? How can she fix this?

Biting her lip, she finds an answer. She hadn't gotten this far in her head, but it'll have to do. “I kidnapped you.”

Trixie’s eyes widen yet again. She lets go off Trixie’s hand.

“Police! It’s over! Come out with your hands up!”

“No-” Trixie starts.

“Say I forced you to come. I threatened you, say I was terrified. I didn’t want to do it alone, so I forced you. You were my hostage.”

“And what?” Trixie asks. “File charges? Make you go to prison longer? No, Katya. No. Let’s go down together-”

It's Katya's turn to beg Trixie.  “You know we could do it. It’s the only way. Say you weren’t scared. You understood, or some bullshit. Say I even got rid of the weapon after the first motel. But you were scared I’d hurt more people, so you stayed. You didn’t phone the police because you thought that you’d get sent to prison too or I'd go nuts.” Trixie feels physically ill. Katya looks like a madman, eyes wide and face dynamic. “I’d do the time. You could have a life, Trixie. A life again.”

Trixie searches Katya’s face. It’s there, the determination. The determination that she shares with Violet. Stubbornness that will just not go away. Trixie honestly can’t decide if it’s Katya’s biggest flaw or greatest asset.

“I-I-” Trixie starts. The tears in her eyes don’t spill over. “Are you sure? I don’t want to, Katya. But-”

“I’m so sure. I’ve never been more sure. Let me go, let me do my time. Let me get rid of my guilt. You need to let me take yours-”

“But you don’t want me to take yours-”

“Then take some of mine if you can, I don’t mind anymore! Let me take the blame. Thank me by living,” Katya whispers. She shortens the gap between them.

Trixie stares into her eyes, and feels okay for just a second.

“I do,” Trixie mouths.

Katya laughs before kissing her. The kiss is interrupted by another shout.

“This is your last warning! Come out with your hands up!”

They break away.

“You still taste like vanilla,” Katya says. She squeezes Trixie’s hand for a second before letting go. Reaching into her back jean pocket, Katya pulls out the bucket list. She passes it to Trixie. “Keep this safe.”

Trixie feels empty, “I love you.”

Katya feels free, “I love you too.”

They both stare at the door. Trixie starts to walk towards it. She tucks the piece of paper into her bra, she takes the ring off her pinkie and puts it in there too. 

Katya whispers, “you go first, love. I’ll stay in here. They can come get me. It’ll look more real. Yeah?”

Nodding, Trixie heads to the door. She puts her hand on the handle.  "I love you."

Trixie can hear the smile in Katya's voice. "I love you too, Trixie Mattel. Now, go."

Looking back at Katya, she absorbs her one last time. Those fading bruises. The cropped hair. The easy, familiar, grin on her face. Strong, funny, strange. Trixie’s Katya. 

Trixie pulls open the door and holds her arms up.

Chapter Text

“The date is Tuesday the-”

“It’s a Tuesday?” Katya interrupts.

“Yes, the date is Tuesday the-”

“It doesn’t feel like a Tuesday,” Katya interrupts again. The suited lawyer across from her raises an eyebrow at her. Katya smiles. “It feels more like a Saturday. Or maybe a Friday. Important things don’t happen on Tuesdays. I was born on a Saturday. There’s the proof. What day of the week were you born on?”

The lawyer laughs, shaking her head.

“Do you wanna quit fucking about?” she asks. There's a harsh quality to her entire demeanor. Katya feels like she’s getting stared down by a cobra.

“You seem like the Wednesday type?” Katya replies. She chews at her nails again. She’s bitten them down to the pinks in the last few days; during the arrest and the shouting, Trixie's crying. Katya’s still amazed by those acting skills, or at least she wants to pretend it was acting. The lawyet doesn't respond. Katya sighs. "I'm ready."

“Good. Before we get started with all this shit, you need to know I’m on your side,” she states. There’s a dry quality to her tone that Katya admires. She makes her want to smile. Katya feels remarkably not shit for everything that’s happened. She actually feels kinda better than she did before. “I’m guessing you’ve been through some shit-”

Katya snorts. “You think?”

“I know you have,” the lawyer ignores her. “But you gotta let me help you. So tell me everything, don’t try any shit and we’ll get you taken care of. Sound good?”

The lawyer’s eyes widen in expectation. There’s no flaw in her makeup, her bright red lips are unsmudged. Her hair is immaculate. All of this, plus a sharp tongue? Where did they find her? She's brilliant. 

“What’s your name again?” Katya asks.

The lawyer cackles. “Bianca, from Rio & Act. I’m Rio. My partner, Courtney, is with your ‘abductee’.”

The raised eyebrow again. The grin. Somehow, Katya suspects that Bianca sees through this. But it’s been two days since they got separated, she can’t stop herself.

“How is Trixie?”

Her voice breaks on Trixie’s name. Fuck sake. Subtlety at its finest.

“I probably shouldn’t tell you,” Bianca says. She leans in. “They’re a bit worried about her. With all the trauma she’s gone through recently, why wouldn’t they be?” With a grin, Bianca adds, “physically, she’s healthy. Mentally, that’s to be seen. It’d be best for her to get all this mess cleaned up, the punishments dealt, the court done so she can carry on with her life-”

“What has she said about me?” Katya inquires, her voice escaping as a whisper.

Sighing, Bianca answers “when she was arrested, she said you abducted her. She said you’re friends. She’s not pressing kidnapping charges against you, which is something you should thank your stars for. And-” Bianca cuts herself off with a cough. A new softness enters her face, “and she said he was beating you.”

She doesn’t flinch. A hand absentmindedly travels to her face, poking at her cheekbone. A phantom of pain lingers.

There's a question in Bianca's eyes. However, Katya guesses it isn't if it's true. It's if Katya will talk about it. 

“That all checks out,” Katya murmurs. She can't help but look away from Bianca as she says it. 

"They’ve already got photos of the bruising. Took them when you first got brought in, they’ll help.”

Katya nods, choosing not to say anything. A lump gathers in her throat. Her hands starting to shake again. Bianca presses on about court dates and legalities, Katya doesn’t listen. She sees his body on the floor again. She sees the blue and red flash. She imagines orange jumpsuits. Tears threaten to escape, she quells them. She’s got to keep it together. Keep calm. For Trixie.

 


 

 

“Due to your trauma, it’s not best advised you return to New York. Your mother has offered to let you stay with her in Wisconsin until the court processes are over.”

Trixie wasn’t listening. She had been staring blankly at the table whilst Courtney talked her ear off.

She paid attention at this moment. Looking up, she made eye contact with her lawyer.

“Wait, they’re letting me go?”

Trixie’s had to sleep in a cell since she got taken in. Granted, they’ve been kinder to her than she imagined they would be.

“They’ve got no reason to suspect foul play. Everything checks out. Actually, I reckon that if you’d filed charges you probably would have been let out of here yesterday, but what’s done is done. Still can’t change your mind?” Trixie shakes her head. Courtney smiles at her. “That’s okay-”

“Katya has to stay, doesn’t she?” Trixie interrupts. Courtney bits her lip, her smile melting away.

“Miss Zamolochikova-”

“It’s Za-mo-chko-v a -”

“Thank you. She is being transferred back to the state of New York for trial. It’s where she’d have her prison sentence-”

“Prison?” Trixie whispers.

Courtney sighs, running a hand through her hair. “Most likely. Manslaughter. Even without intent, she’ll serve time. It’s a pity too. She seems to have cleaned herself up.”

It’s more than a pity.  It’s world ending. It’s chaos. It’s the confirmation that the paper that crinkles against Trixie’s chest isn’t going to get ticked off anytime soon. It’s a big two bar pause button on their life that comes with even more damage.

Trixie goes blank again. Her head circles itself.

Courtney reaches over the table and takes Trixie’s hand in her own. Trixie flinches, and Courtney smiles again.

“Would seeing your mother help? She’s been worried sick about you-”

“I’ll go,” Trixie splutters.

Then, Courtney is appeased and removes her palm. Trixie feels a sick guilt creep inside her. 

When Courtney leaves the room, Trixie cries. She cries for hours and hours and hours until sleep arrives and she can cry no more.

 


 

 

Time is a dick and Trixie’s never felt that quite as badly as she does now. Eight years ago, Trixie’d never met her; she’d never even left her home state. Seven, she was happy. Six, five, four, they were happier; Katya stopped drinking and life was better to her. Three. Two. One.

One. It’s all it’s taken for Trixie’s pain to get multiplied and also completely taken away. Piles and piles of guilt that turned into dust when Katya laughed at one of her jokes. And then Katya kissed her. Why hasn’t Katya been kissing her this whole seven years? 

And then back, back to the guilt.

Back to the fact that her mother’s picking her up from this fucking police station in an hour. Katya’s not coming with her. Katya’s never going to get introduced to Trixie’s mother the way she should.  “This is her, Mom. I found her, Mom. I love her, Mom. I love her.”

How could she let Katya do this? This isn’t fair.

 


 

 

“How’s New York?” Trixie’s mother had asked on the phone six months after Trixie’s move.

“Brilliant! My work is so cool. You’d love it! The people here are great. It’s been the best thing for me, even if I miss you-”

“Don’t miss me! Have you made friends?”

That’d been the first time Trixie told her mom about Katya. Trixie had imagined her nodding along at the other end of the line.

“She sounds lovely,” Trixie’s mother concluded.

“She is!

 


 

 

Trixie’s mother caresses her face for a second before holding her so close to her body that Trixie thinks that they might become one person.

“You’re okay! You’re okay!” seems to be repeated for an eternity. She means well, bless her.

It does take Trixie a little bit too long to think to respond. Her lover is behind bars. She killed someone. She killed someone. And she’s not even taking the blame for it. She’s the worst kind of person alive. Why is she letting Katya do this? She can’t exactly take it back now. They’ll both get taken in. Taken to separate prisons. How long would they spend apart? How long will they spend apart?

How is she meant to answer?

Trixie settles on, “I know.”

Trixie’s mother pulls back, she caresses Trixie’s face. “I was so, so scared,” she repeats.

Forcing a smile, Trixie responds “me too.”

“How could she do that-” Trixie’s mother rants. Trixie clams up. There's a moment of stillness when Trixie's mom realizes she's silent. 

“I-I-” Trixie starts. Then, oh so reliable, the tears start to escape. Trixie’s mother wipes them off, which only makes Trixie cry harder.

She’s so empty. How did this happen? How did this happen.

 


 

Trixie was twelve when she felt ‘heartbreak’ for the first time. He’d dumped her after their third lesson and she’d cried in the toilets for the whole of the lunch. When she got home, she’d sobbed.

Her mother had held her hand, listened, made her toast and ran her a bath.

That’s how it always went. Trixie’d have a bad day. Her mother would listen, and offer sympathy.

“It’ll be okay. Oh Baby, it’ll be okay,” on repeat.

And it would work. Trixie would feel better. She’d go around the next day with her head held higher. The smile on her face wouldn’t be forced. Confidence and clarity flowed out of her. Any pain in her heart would leave.

Everything would be okay, because somebody had faith in her.

 


 

 

"It'll be fine," her mother insists. "Babygirl, we'll get you sorted out."

Trixie doesn’t think it’s true. The magic is dead. She can't believe it anymore.

 


 

Katya is halfway through another meeting with Bianca when the blonde woman walks in. It’s not like their conversation wasn’t already incredibly one sided, Katya just continues to keep her mouth shut.

“Just sent her off. Doesn’t need me to negotiate anymore,” the blonde woman announces. Bianca nods and turns back to Katya.

“This is Courtney Act, she works with me. Do you mind if she sits in and helps out?”

“No, that’s fine,” Katya says.

“It’s only because she can’t do the job by herself,” Courtney teases. She sits next to Bianca and imitates her posture.

Both of them are upright, suited and professional. Katya hasn’t showered in two days.

“I’m more than capable,” Bianca smiles. She shoots Courtney a look, and they both laugh,

“I feel like you wanted to add an insult to that,” Katya interrupts. The two of them refocus back onto Katya.

“I did, but this isn’t the place-”

“That’ll happen back at the office. Anyways,  Miss Zamolodchikova-”

“Nearly, good attempt,” Katya interrupts. A smile crosses Courtney's lips.

Courtney nods at her. “Thank you. I’ve had someone correcting my pronunciation for the last few days. It doesn’t help that the media keep butchering your name. It is pretty though.”

Katya frowns. It takes her a second to realize who she knows that’s pedantic enough to get annoyed over a mispronunciation.

“Trixie,” Katya can’t help but hide her smile.

Courtney stops smiling. “It’s confidential, I’m afraid.”

“Is she okay?” Katya carries on. She knows she should stop. They won’t answer. They think she held Trixie captive using a knife for fucks sake. Why would they?

The two lawyers look at each other. Bianca nods, Courtney nods in response.

“Her mother has taken her out of state,” Courtney answers. “That’s all I’m allowing you to know. That is only because she has decided to not hold you up as a kidnapping case.”

“Do you think she should have?” Katya asks. It slips out. She regrets it after. She’s been quiet. The quieter she is, the less information they’ll get.

“That’s not my decision to make, that’s hers.” Courtney’s expression is blank. However, Bianca laughs. 

“She’s going to be okay. Start worrying about yourself,” Bianca interrupts. “You know you could face time, and you’re worried about your little friend that isn’t facing any sort of charges? She’s going to recuperate, maybe get some fucking therapy, which I recommend you get too, and then move on with her life! Katya-”

She didn’t tell her to call her Katya. “Please stop shouting,” Katya interrupts. Her body starts to shake, and she rolls her eyes at herself. Really? He’s dead, and prison is in an imminent threat and she’s fucking shivering?

Bianca’s eyes widen, and she looks at Courtney. The two grimace.

“Don’t act like I’m damaged. Just treat me like a human being and don’t shout. God, if everybody just respected each other I wouldn’t be in any of this mess? I wouldn’t feel so damn guilty. And that’s why I care by the way,” she points at Bianca. “I care about how Trixie is because I pulled her into this mess. And she was my-” Katya can’t find the words to describe Trixie Mattel. “My best friend. And I got her in this and I want her to get out. She’s my sense of fucking hope, because if she’s okay then I didn’t fuck up too badly. And if she cares about me being okay, then I want to be okay for her. That’s how we’ve always worked, that’s why I wanted her with me. That’s why I fucked up. That’s why I’m here. That’s why you’re with me. So, Bianca-” Katya smiles. All of the breath in Katya’s system escapes her body in a harsh sigh. “If you’re so intent on not beating around the bush. If you want me to care about myself. Then tell me, how long do you reckon I’ll be in for?”

How long until she can fix this?

Katya finishes. The room falls into silence. Rocking slightly in her chair, Katya bites her fingernails.

Bianca’s eyes widen. She blinks several times in shock. Courtney looks solely at Bianca.

“I-um. You’ve left me speechless-”

“That’s a first,” Courtney adds.

Bianca doesn’t smile. Nobody does.

She sighs, “I’m a good lawyer. I can make you sympathetic to a jury. You killed someone that was beating you and threatened not only your life, but your best friend’s life too. If you hadn’t gone on the run, I could have gotten you even less time. Maybe even probation. But what you did, and how you forcibly made Trixie Mattel an accomplice, will have a knock on effect on a perception of you. I’m thinking it’s going to be about fifteen years. Could go up or down. Do you understand that? You are looking at some serious time, Yekaterina.”

The words punch into Katya. Over a decade. She should have expected it really. But it still hits hard. It still packs a punch. Still hurts.

“Yeah,” Katya whispers. Swallowing away the lump in her throat, she tries to not let tears fill her eyes. “Could-Could I have some time alone?”

 


 

Bianca and Courtney left. A quick apology from Bianca preceded it. Courtney glared daggers at her partner throughout. Katya feels like they’ll be having a heated discussion sometime soon. Maybe right now. After they left, Katya was escorted back to her solitary cell.

Bianca said they’re going to transfer her back to New York in a few days. Her trial, due to the media attention, has been brought forward. It gives them less time to make a case. Bianca is concerned.

Katya just wants to get this over with.

There’s no noise other than her own breathing in this cell. She’s trapped. It’s weird, it’s almost reassuring. Nothing can get her here, can it?

The idea of years here isn’t a comfort though.

God, how did she end up here? She doesn’t regret taking the blame. Trixie’s out. She’s okay. She’s safe.

She misses her mama. She misses home. She doesn’t miss him; not one bit.

She aches for Trixie. It’s something so integral to her being that she wouldn’t be surprised if she had been born with it.

They wasted so much time. Due to fear. Due to circumstance. Never the right moment to admit it to herself. Never the right moment to put her foot down and shout about how she wouldn’t be terrified anymore.

And she is. She’s terrified still. But she doesn’t regret a second of it. It’s not possible to.

She starts sobbing and nobody comes to console her.

Chapter Text

The journey feels like an eternity. Her instinct was to be grateful that she had a window seat, at least there’d be some form of entertainment that way and it’s not like she thought to bring a book. All of her possessions have been seized as evidence. All Trixie has as proof that this whole thing even happened is a fuck ton of memories and the crinkled bucket list in her bra.

As she looks down on the skeleton of fields and terrain, Trixie can’t help but feel wistful. The place they travelled to is gone.They’re not ever going to get to Miami. They made it just over two thirds of the way, but that’s it.

That’s it.

Trixie’s head is fuzzy. It’s like everything is just out of focus, just indeterminable, just too unclear to make sense.

It’s a long flight. Most of the plane falls asleep as they fly through night time. She can’t help but stare at the black void outside the window and feel like a deflated balloon. This is real, isn’t it? Katya’s not a few seats away from her. Jail time is a very real possibility. She might not see Katya for years. The dream she’s been living in has vanished.

That's it. 

Trixie starts crying silently. Her mother is dreamin, and doesn’t notice. Trixie does feel better for her presence.

The tears are flowing, but what can she do about it? She can’t stop listing expectations in her head. She’s supposed to have been through a traumatic event, which she supposes is true. The colour red still reminds her of far too many sensations. She’s going to get put in therapy. Her mother will coddle her. Cosmetology won’t accept her back in, will they? What if Katya was wrong? What if Trixie can’t build a life for herself? So many things could happen. Trixie can’t handle this. What if one of their friends gets sick? What if one of their mom’s get sick? What if someone dies? What if Trixie dies? What would Katya do if Trixie died? What if they don’t believe that Katya did kidnap her and they both get sent to prison? What if all of their friends secretly hated Trixie all along? What if something happens to Katya in prison? What if Katya relapses without anybody there to help her? They would keep an eye on her right? She’ll have somebody to talk to, right? They’ve got to have noticed the bruises. Put two and two together? What if they haven’t?Could she see Katya again at the trial? Would it be safe to go to the trial? Would Katya hold it together better or worse with her there? Would it only draw suspicion of the kidnapping being false?

People are probably already speculating that it’s bullshit, but they let Trixie go. They clearly can’t prove them wrong. Katya’s still covering Trixie’s ass, and it makes her sick.

How could Katya ever love her?

 


 

 

“So tell me everything!” Trixie’s mother had shouted.

It was the day Trixie had returned from her first summer camp. Trixie was tanned, the happiness of the summer carried onto her skin.

Her mother had listened to her  hour rant about new friends, activities and the lake. At the end, her mother smiled, turned around and said “I’m so glad you’re home.”

And Trixie was too.

 


 

 

They catch a cab home from their flight. Her mother opens the door before her and lets her walk in. The house where she grew up, it seems so small. All of her teenage memories flood back to her, the ones she fought so hard to escape in New York. It’s okay. It’s just her mom now. There’s nobody to be scared of anymore. 

“I’m proud of you for finding the strength to leave him,” Trixie says. It’s like it slips out. With what happened to Katya, she can’t help but admire both of their strength. Trixie could cringe, but her mother just sighs.  It’s when her mother smiles, that Trixie realizes how similar the two of them are. She sighs a little bit internally. Does this make Trixie fucked up? It’s probably best to not think about that too much.

“Thank you.”

“I wish I’d helped you more,” Trixie continues.

With an immediate shake of her head, Trixie’s mother replies “you couldn’t have. It would have just made things harder.”

They keep silent eye contact for a moment. She’s right. Trixie knows that. Trixie was only a teenage girl, how was she supposed to do anything against a fully grown man? One that clearly didn't like that Trixie wasn't his. He didn't really like anything, and he let you know about it. Her mother was only was him for four years, but it was enough. It was enough.

“I wish I’d helped Katya more,” Trixie finishes.

Her mother looks down to the ground. Trixie doesn’t know if she regrets saying it. She’s just tired. She wants to sleep for years and years. Forget everything.

She feels blood on her hands when her mother speaks again, “I don’t think anything would have helped there, Trixie.”

Trixie doesn’t believe it, at all, but she nods.

 


 

 

“Welcome to New York City,” her new landlord said as she handed Trixie her apartment keys. She was a short woman that intimidated Trixie for months after her arrival.

Trixie went up the flights of stairs, fingers dragging along the wall as she did so, until she reached her new home. She turned the key in the lock, stepped in, deeply inhaled and released.

To this day, when Trixie has a moment of peace she thinks of that.

 


 

 

Trixie is shown to her old room after dinner. Her mom wants to go out to get new clothes tomorrow and Trixie isn’t excited for it. Her room is painted bright pink. Her old teddy bear is in the corner. It still has a missing eye, she’d always meant to fix that. She doesn't think she ever will. The damage makes it charming. 

She picks it up, holds it in one hand, and pulls it into her chest. This raggedy little thing is so fucking familiar that it brings a sense of comfort. She lays on her old bed, and holds the toy in her arms whilst she sleeps.

There is no peace, only a swirling storm of feelings in her head.

 


 

 

Breakfast is tasty, but it feels like it takes a decade for her to eat. She can’t help but compare every bite to the food she used to make after a night out with Katya. She used to view them as hangover cures, maybe she should have caught onto the fact that Katya was more often hungover than sober earlier in their friendship.

Katya’s always insisted that her struggle with addiction was her own fight. Trixie respected that. When Katya clawed her way out of the hole she’d buried herself in, Trixie was her fondest supporter. But maybe she should have helped there too? Is that another failure for Katya to resent her for?

She leaves most of her meal.

 


 

It’s been a difficult few days. Every memory she has of her childhood drives her just a bit more insane. Reminds her of what happened. When her mother cuts her hand and blood spills from her fingertip, Trixie bolts from the room.

She misses Katya. She misses everyone. She misses being the person she was.

Everything is just getting worse and worse.

 


 

 

It took Trixie about a year after moving to New York to get sick for the first time.

“Hey, Trix? I haven’t heard from you in a few days. Have I done something, Girl?” Pearl said. The phone call was unexpected.

Trixie sneezed. A small laugh escaped, and it hurt, “sorry. I've got the flu. I’ll be back at work in a few days though, people’ll get to stop covering my shifts-”

“I’m not worried about covering, you dumbass. Are you okay? Do you have medicine? Food? Would weed help?”

Pearl grilled Trixie on the phone for several minutes. She promised that after her shift, she’d bring Trixie some soup. Four hours later, she did. Trixie remembers just how happy she felt. If it’d been Fame, she would have been flattered but it wouldn’t have been a massive shock. Pearl didn’t, and still doesn’t, openly show affection very well. Pearl cleaned the apartment for her, forced her to take painkillers and tucked Trixie into bed. She did everything shy of kissing her on the forehead before she went.

The kindness made Trixie cry.

 


 

 

What if she never talks to Katya again? What if Katya regrets her decision and decides to cut Trixie out for going along with it? What if Katya tells everyone the truth?

 


 

 

Everybody has secrets. Trixie always knew that. Some people chose to tell everybody their secret, make it their badge of honor, and some people never utter it to a soul.

In hindsight, Trixie should have never have been surprised by Kim’s secret. They’d known each other for two years when Kim texted her to ‘come over as soon as you can’ which was followed by a ‘please’.

Trixie and Kim always clicked well. It’s a very different connection to what Katya’s is. Kim brings Trixie peace of mind. She’s like a sister, in fact she reminds Trixie of her siblings sometimes. Katya brings out the fire in Trixie.

Trixie should have known that something was up from the lack of emojis, or insult. When she arrived, there were tears drying on Kim’s face.

She’d sat down on the couch with Kim, held her hands and listened. The secrets weren’t scandalous. She spilled her guts over her confused sexuality, her parents expectations, self-hatred. It was okay. Trixie held one of her best friends in her arms, and she muttered words of comfort.

“What am I going to do? Trixie, what am I going to do if my family hate me?”

Trixie had swallowed. She understood that fear. She’d had it when she came out as bi herself. There’s no cure for that insecurity. If they don’t understand, won’t understand, then they don’t deserve her.

“I will be your family,” Trixie said. She wiped at one of her tears. “Fame will be your family. Pearl. Us three. And your other friends, Bob, Chi Chi. Fucking, Ginger and Katya. Every single friend you’ve made will be your family. They found you, and you found them. That’s love, that choice is. And I will make the choice to be your family, as long as you’ll be a member of mine. You don’t have to choose your family. You can choose to belong with us. Belong with me.”

Kim smiled, and nodded. It did feel like belonging. It felt like belonging for Trixie too.

 


 

 

Trixie’s mother rants on and on about Trixie’s younger siblings. It’s not a problem. Trixie does love them. The phone calls of concern from them are more grating than uplifting though.

Is she okay? No. Of course not.

Does she know they love her? Of course she does.

They all want to ask what it was like, but of course they won't. Trixie almost wishes they would, just to get it out the way. They all just know she saw some shitty stuff. That’s not a lie. It just feels like everything else is.

 


 

 

She feels like she’s moaning about nothing, but it also feels like she has so much left to say.

 


 

 

She’d been dress shopping with Fame. It was about two years ago. A dress that Trixie tried on clung to her curves, restricting her movements but making her look pretty good in Trixie’s opinion. She walked out of the room to show Fame.

Fame beamed at her. “You’re so beautiful, y’know?” It took Trixie by surprise and she laughed. No embarassed blush filled Fame’s cheeks, that ship sailed years ago. “What? You are!”

“Says the model!”

They’d bickered about it all the way through paying for the dress, but it was forgotten for the journey. It was only when they arrived at Trixie’s flat that it was brought back up again.

Trixie was bare foot, her shirt stained and her lipstick smudged. Fame smiled at her again. “It’s in the aura you give out. It’s a good one. You have a good soul Trixie. You’re beautiful. ”

Very few compliments have ever meant to so much to her. Trixie didn’t quite have the words, so she told her to shut the fuck up and pulled her in for the tightest hug she could ever give.

 


 

 

She feels so isolated. Nobody can ever understand her again.

She’s alone.

 


 

 

Trixie doesn’t really remember the point that she started regarding Violet as her friend, not just Katya’s friend. It took longer than she’ll admit to. Maybe just over a year after meeting her?

They were hanging out with Katya. They’d done it a bunch of times. Katya had gone to the toilet, when Trixie reached for her purse to grab another tea.

“I’ll get it. No milk and two sugars, right?” Violet asked. Trixie nodded. A few minutes later, Violet returned with a tea and a small brownie.

Trixie truly was grateful, but Violet brushed it off. It was that moment that Trixie realized how much she admired Violet; her attention to detail, the unfazed demeanor and shared affection for Katya. Katya had always praised how great Violet was, but that was one of the first times that Trixie had looked long enough to see it.

 


 

 

Is there really a point in moving? A point in getting up? God, she feels helpless. Like she could scream and scream and scream and nothing would change. She’s going to spend her life alone, she’s going to wait for Katya, she’s going to see that blood puddle every time she closes her eyes. She’s going to imagine the things he did to her, and feel the guilt grow just that little bit bigger.

 


 

 

“Trixie Mattel, you look like a damn fucking mess. Even more so than usual,” Ginger said as Trixie opened Katya’s apartment door.

“Girl, you’re such a bitch.”

Ginger laughed. It was about a year after they met. They weren’t close, but they found each other funny enough.

“Y’know, I’ve come to peace with that. I’m a bitch, but I’m talented and that means something.”

Trixie grinned as she let Ginger into the flat. “Slayin’ it.”

Ginger snorted, her voice faltered “even if I am a receptionist.”

The words made Trixie stop and frown for a second. She put a hand onto Ginger’s shoulder, “you’ll get back on stage,” Trixie reassured her.

A second a comprehension spread across Ginger’s face before she smiled, “thank you Tracey.”

“Not a problem.”

 


 

 

She had got back on stage six months later. It was Ginger’s largest break in acting work. On her first night of shows, Trixie gave her a standing applause. When Ginger hugged her later that night, she’d whispered in her ear “don’t ruin my reputation, but thank you for believing in me Trixie.”

A smile had plastered across Trixie’s face, “not a problem.”

 


 

 

“Trixie.”

She’s been insisting for days that Trixie leaves the house. Trixie wants to. Doesn’t anybody understands that she wants to go on as normal? It’s that she can’t. She’s always going to love Katya, that is going to dictate the rest of her fucking life. She’s going to analyse every second. How she could have stopped this. When she could have realized the degree of what she felt. Trixie could have been a million times happier. All she could have to worry about is Katya’s past, and they’d help her heal. Trixie knows they could have fucking done it. They could have done it. 

Now, Katya’s traumatic past has been tripled and she’s going to have a traumatic present on top of that.  

“I'm sorry Mom. I'll-"

“I’ve got one of your friends from New York on the phone.”

Trixie sits bolt upright. The couch creaks. She's had radio silence from New York. The possibilites run wild in her head. 

“Who?” Trixie looks at her mother. Her mother’s eyes widen at the reaction. “Who!”

“She said her name was Pearl?”

Pearl. How did Pearl get her number?

Trixie jumps to her feet, runs to her mother and snatches the phone from her hand. She mouths a ‘sorry’ at her afterwards. Pulling the phone to her head, she shouts “hello!”

“Trixie? Is that you? Guys! Guys! I’ve got her!”

There’s a mix of voices on the other end of the phone. Trixie grins, eyes filling with tears. They still care about her.

“Hey!”

“Trixie, are you okay?” There’s more voices. “Fame wants to know if you’re coming back. Kim wants to tell you that she loves you. Ginger just swore really loud. I love you, you bitch! We’re so glad you’re okay. Violet’s here and she’s smiling and that’s about as good as a declaration-”

“I’m not that bad!”

Trixie laughs again at the voices at the other end of the phone. So happy to be together, so much joy. Trixie isn’t exactly sure why she starts crying. Her mother pats her on the shoulder before leaving her with privacy.

It’s when the first proper sob escapes and Trixie sits back down that Pearl stops yapping long enough to know anything’s even wrong.

“Trix, you alright?”

It’s hard to make words. She can’t tell them. She can’t tell anybody about what really happened. She promised Katya.

“No,” Trixie confesses. “Not at all.”

Pearl swallows, and Trixie hears it. “That makes sense. Do you want to talk? I can listen well. You know that.”

The offer does appeal. Trixie imagines sitting down and letting everything pour out. Every regret. Every secret. A spirit cleansing. She can’t. She knows she can’t.

“I don’t know if there’s anything I can tell you that you won’t already know,” Trixie says. Her voice is choked. “You’re one of my main girls Pearl. But, I-” Trixie stumbles accross words. How can she sum it up? How can she describe each and every feeling in her chest? “It’s hard, Pearl. I can’t do it over the phone. Everything’s changed. I’ve changed.”

It’s true. Trixie knows it’s true. All this time she’s been home, it’s never felt like it.

“Do you want us to visit you? We can do that-”

“I want to come back to New York,” Trixie demands. There’s a found confidence in it. She does want that. She’ll be closer to her friends, closer to Katya. If she has to go back to living life normally, that’s a start. She’s moped enough.

“Are you sure? Trixie, you’ve been through-”

“If she’s sure, she’s sure. Let her make her mind up,” Violet interjects.

“Hell, I want to see her. It’ll save me the airfare,” Ginger says.

Trixie smiles. It all feels right. It feels normal.

They say their goodbyes and Trixie hangs up the phone. Her mother doesn’t return to the room. A deep sigh escapes Trixie’s chest. She feels light. She feels okay.

 


 

 

Katya can’t quite grasp what’s happening. She meets so many different people, and all of them know her story too well. Before, she could charm people she just met. She could become a human story and glamour anybody into liking her. That’s how she got into the world of burlesque. Katya has always been able to sell a fantasy. Whether it was to get money, to seem attractive, to get laid, get drugs, she’s always used that skill.

Why, when she needs it most, is it impossible to do?

Maybe she’s just sick of lying. It makes sense. She’s been doing it for a long time.

She’s sick of most things, if she’s truthful. There’s a certain tiredness that comes with living life similar to the one Katya’s endured. Is it so much to ask for to just be happy now? This is her own damn fault, but she still wishes it could be different.

She was allowed a phone call from her mother earlier. Somehow, she’d managed to not cry in front of anybody else since she last cried in front of Trixie. When her mama whispered her name, Katya sobbed. Her mother had apologized. Her mama feels guilty because of what happened to Katya. She didn’t even bring up what Katya did. Or rather, what she thinks Katya did.

Katya wanted to comfort her. Say anything. That she’s safe now at least. That she found the right person to love her. Even if she won’t see Trixie for, however long she won’t see Trixie.

Will Trixie even want to marry her in ten years? She’s not even known Trixie that long.

Katya can’t let go of Trixie. She’s all she has. If Katya does time, it’ll be the idea of going home to Trixie at the end that’ll get her through. Trixie, who tastes like vanilla and laughs like it’s what she was sent here to do. Trixie, who Katya loves and should have loved sooner. Trixie, who loves Katya too.

And she does love her. Katya smiles when she remembers that. They’ll never take that away from her. They can take years of her life, but she’s given them to Trixie. They can take her freedom, but her prison is Trixie’s sanctuary. There’s a lot about the world that Katya knows. The criminal one is one that Trixie never had to explore. Katya will survive prison. She has to.

She drifts off to sleep. Tonight, she doesn’t have a nightmare. Her dream is a blank slate.

 


 

 

She’s woken up by her cell door opening. As soon as her eyes open, Katya’s mind races with possibilities. Bianca walks in, and Katya’s heart stops.

“You’re getting taken back to New York for trial.”

She’d kinda expected that. A nod, “Are you coming with me?”

“Yes. I’m staying with you until the end of this. Are you scared?” Bianca asks. She leans against the wall. Katya stands up.

“Of course.” Bianca doesn’t try to comfort her. When Katya is restrained to be cuffed by two guards, she doesn’t move to defend her. Katya doesn’t struggle. “I’m glad you’re staying.”

Bianca shakes her head, “I’m your lawyer. Not your mom. I’m doing my job. I won’t hold your hand.”

There’s a hard glare coming from Bianca, not crack in the facade she’s presenting. Katya meets the stare. “I never asked you to.”

Bianca’s eyes widen. Katya smiles to herself. If there’s anything she prides herself on being, it’s being a loose cannon. The guards start to lead her out the cell, Bianca follows. “So tell me, Lawyer, when’s the trial?” Bianca looks away from her. Katya frowns.

“Twelve days.”

Katya tries to not let the shock display on her body, but it does. Seven days? No wonder Bianca’s turned cold.

 


 

 

“I still don’t want you to go back. It’s not good for you Trixie. Please, stay here where I can help you.”

She’s not even bothered to unpack her bags. It’s like she knew she wasn’t staying.

Trixie guesses she’s found the place she belongs. It’s New York city. Not because that’s where she works. Not because that’s where her dream school is. It’s because, no matter what happens, that’s where Katya’s going to be. She’s always going to want to be where Katya is.

“Mom, it’s right for me,” Trixie smiles at her mother. She puts a hand on her mother’s shoulder, and pulls her in for a hug. “You’ve gotta trust me.”

Her mother squeezes tightly. “I do trust you. But look at what happened last time, you’re my little girl.”

Trixie feels tears on her shoulder. She realizes that her mother is crying.

This can’t have been easy for her either. Her daughter went missing, then was being man hunted. Trixie arrived again, and has been an empty shell of a person since. Before Katya, before anybody, it was her mother that supported Trixie.

But, Trixie has to go. This is how she’s going to fix herself. This is how she’s going to fix the world, so that she can be happy again.

“There’s so much for me in New York-”

“Like what!”

 


 

 

“What do you mean you want to move to New York!”

Her mother nearly dropped the glass she was holding when she first brought it up. Trixie flinched. Biting her lip, she carried on.

“I got offered a job. Mom, this could be real good for me.”

They’d shared a long stare at eachother. Trixie’s mother smiled, “But. It’s New York. That’s so far away.”

Trixie shrugged, she sighed loudly. “It’s New York. Mom, New York. Who knows what’s waiting for me there?”

There was a snort, “It’s not a magical dreamland, Trixie.”

The aching in Trixie’s bone that was planted the second she’d been offered that job grew. The thought of escape, independance, a big city where nobody knew her name.

“Who says I can’t make it one?”

Her mother’s smile dropped. Trixie thinks it’s then that her mom knew she was going to go. There would be nothing that could change her mind.

 


 

 

“My life,” Trixie says. Her mother’s face drops even further. “My life is in New York. My friends. I’ve lost so much already Mom.” Trixie feels her voice crack.

A hand caresses the side of Trixie’s face. The thumb on her mom’s hand stroking her cheek.

“I thought I’d lost you Trixie.”

Her mother’s face crumples up. The guilt sitting in Trixie’s stomach grows.

“You didn’t.”

Trixie grabs her mother’s hand. Looking down at their shared grip, her mom takes a note of how cold Trixie’s palms are.

“I nearly did Trixie.”

The grip on Trixie’s hand tightens. Scared eyes look up at her.

 


 

 

Trixie was six years old. It was in the time after Trixie’s father and before Trixie’s stepfather that Trixie only faintly remembers. The night was dark, one of the coldest Trixie could remember in her short life. There were no stars in the sky and the moon was missing.

In Trixie’s nightmare, they’d gone to the carnival as a family. Trixie, the youngest, and her siblings. Her siblings had run ahead, leaving Trixie behind. Trixie got lost. She couldn’t find her mom anywhere. She was so alone.

She’d sprinted into her mother’s bedroom and whispered into her ear until she woke up. Wordlessly, her mother took her into her arms and pulled her under the sheets. She was safe again.

 


 

 

“You won’t lose me again,” Trixie says.

“How can you promise that?” her mother cries. “How?”

Trixie stares at her. Her mother stares back. There’s tears in her mother’s eyes, but she can’t summon them. The fight in Trixie is growing.

“I can’t. I can’t promise that. But I can’t live my whole life playing it safe, not anymore. Mom, you have to understand that.”

As soon as she says it, she feels one more weight off her chest. She remembers why she left. She didn’t leave because of her step-dad, or because her job sucked. There was no deep set trauma or heartbreak. Trixie Mattel left home because she was bored shitless. She’d exhausted Milwaukee until there was nothing for her there.  She went somewhere new and exciting. She became new and exciting.

“Let me come with you,” Trixie’s mother insists. Trixie wasn’t watching to spot the resignation fill her mother’s eyes. “At least for a little while. Until the trial's over and-and she’s been put away.”

They’ve not talked about Katya. Trixie freezes. The scowl on her mother’s face makes Trixie nearly taste bile.

“Put away?” Trixie revolts. “She’s not a toy, or a book. She-She’s-”

Trixie cuts herself off. The reality of this crashes on to her again. When it was just in her head, it still felt a little fake. Her mother’s words confirmed it. She’s going to lose Katya. She’s gone.

“She nearly made me lose you Trixie! I can’t be nice about her!”

Her mother is still crying.

Trixie has had enough of tears.

“I’m going. You can’t stop me.”

They stare at eachother. Trixie considers walking out, but she can’t. She doesn’t owe her mother the truth, but she owes her some lies to comfort her if she asks. Her mother doesn’t question her though. Slowly, she pulls Trixie in for another hug. Trixie doesn’t return it.

All she can do is feel scared of losing Katya. That’s all she has now.

 


 

 

She thinks about Trixie on the journey. They fly her there. She’s escorted by two guards and kept in a cell on the plane. Katya almost got up the courage to ask why the fuck there was a cell in the first place, but she can’t imagine a good answer to that.

It’s easier to think about whether Trixie’s okay than what’s going to happen. The hopelessness of it all.

What does her Mama think? Is she okay? Does she still love her? Her mama was there through the drug abuse, through the rest. Will she draw the line here? Cut Katya off.

The sacrifice is worth it, but it stings.

 


 

 

Trixie flies to New York three days later. Even the resigned look on her mother’s eyes can’t bring her down. She’s soared high up and fallen down. Now, Trixie will pick up the pieces. It’s what Katya would want for her. She feels that.

As the plane takes off, Trixie doesn’t think about her family. She imagines her friends waiting for her. She smiles. She’s going home. Even if she’s different, she’s getting out of here again. She’s going to see her friends, go to school, cry out her problems and never quite heal. There is no way she is going to let Katya go to prison and not make the best life possible for both of them when she gets out. If this has to happen, then she’s choosing this. She’s choosing New York.

She’s going home.

Chapter Text

Sometimes, Trixie looks at Violet and she remembers what she looked like years ago. She can vision her as a child, eager to consume the world. Right now, there’s a weary quality to Violet’s posture. She’s scanning the fleets of people in the airport. When she finally spots Trixie, she simply nods.

They’re both wordless as Trixie approaches her. Violet keeps hard eye contact. When Trixie comes to a stop, she’s directly in front of Violet. Despite the noise of the airport, they remain silent. Trixie swears she can hear white noise.

“Your lipstick is smudged,” Trixie says.

It’s awkward. There’s a pause of comprehension before Violet chuckles.

“Fuck off.” She starts walking out and Trixie follows. The world seems so loud and Trixie feels uncomfortable down to her bones.  Violet speaks again, “I missed you.” The words don’t shock her; the lack of eye contact, the distractions and the noise surprises her.

“I missed you too,” Trixie replies.  There’s no hug. It’s not exactly like Violet’s ever been the hugging type, but still.

“The others decided to wait for you at your flat. Didn’t want to overwhelm you or anything.” They walk out of the entrance, Violet starts to signal for a taxi. Trixie watches her. Katya cares so much about Violet, Trixie can’t help but hurt some more. What would Katya do if Violet wasn’t talking to her?

“How’s things been?” Trixie says; she cringes a bit at it. Raising an eyebrow, Violet finally turns to look at her. The look Trixie receives is cold.

“A bit shit,” Violet deadpans. The taxi pulls up. Trixie goes into an automatic sequence of events, she’s done this enough times. She gets in the back, she listens as Violet gives Trixie’s address. It’s not like she has any real luggage, just some bitty stuff that her mother insisted she pack. It’s weird to think that she’s back. When she was with Katya, she never thought she’d see New York again. What’s it going to be like going into her apartment? Has it been cleaned since she was there last? She left it in a damn state, she remembers that. Katya had hurried her along.

Katya.

 


 

 

Trixie walked into the pickup bay of the airport; she’d gone home for Christmas. Katya had dropped her off, and was picking her up. It was to save on parking money. Her insurance company probably wouldn’t have been happy about it, but fuck them.

She saw a woman in bright red lipstick and a questionable dress holding a sign with the word ‘Martel’ splattered across it. Trixie smiled.

When she’d reached Katya, they’d hugged. It’s been all giggles and smiles. Trixie stuffed Katya’s christmas present into her hands. It was a pair of knitted red gloves and a lipstick. She hugged her again after she opened it. That year Trixie received a Russian phrase book and a snow globe with the empire state building in it.

They were happy.

 


 

 

That drive home had been filled with more music and laughter than this one. Violet is pressed up against the door. If she was any further away from Trixie, she’d be on the road.

“I think my rent’s late,” Trixie says. The thought flies out of her, anything to stop thinking about Katya for once. She keeps her eyes pinned to the outside of the window. New York City passes by Trixie’s eyes. It’s familiar, yet still new. It reminds her of so damn much that Trixie forgets how to breathe.

“Think they’ll let it slide due to circumstance, Trixie.” Trixie. No insult, no friendly push. Trixie doesn’t have the patience to ignore this. She doesn’t have the time.

Trixie sighs. “Are you mad at met?”

Stunned, Violet whips around to look at her. Her eyes are wide, eyebrows raised. “What?”

“Do you have a problem? I don’t have the energy for drama. I just don’t fucking care at the moment and I won’t foster this shit. So speak up or shut up.”

 


 

 

It had been about a year after they met. It was one of those rare late nights when both Katya and Violet weren’t working. All of them were in Katya’s flat and she was getting another bottle of wine.

“You will never fucking believe what this customer said to me at work today!” Trixie shouted.

Violet snorted. “Tell me everything.”

That exchange went back and forth, as it usually did. They giggled and gossiped. When Katya came back into the room, she called them old women and joined in.

 


 

Violet doesn’t respond. Continuing to look taken aback, her lips stay in a hard line.

“Again. You got a problem?”

Violet analyses the hard glare Trixie’s giving her. “No.”

“Good, who’s at my place then?”

 


 

Fame was the one to open the door. She’d jumped up and down when she saw Trixie.

“Oh my god! Can I hug you?”

Trixie didn’t find it difficult to smile. “Sure,” Trixie says. As the word is half out of her mouth, Fame’s arms wrap around her. Fame’s crying. Of course Fame is crying. Seeing her is a relief, Trixie had been worried.

“Leave some of her for the rest of us!” Pearl shouts. There’s a laugh from Kim. “God, you’re like a toddler.”

The group laugh, and it leaves a bitter taste in Trixie’s mouth. “Don’t tease her,” slips out of Trixie’s mouth. Kim frowns at her.

There’s an awkward pause. “I make it easy,” Fame declares as she pulls away. She searches Trixie’s face and grins. “Oh girl, I’m so happy you’re here.”

Trixie knows there’s a million questions Fame wants to ask, that she won’t. What happened. Why. How. They’ll get asked at some point. Trixie isn’t looking forward to those lies.

“Trix!” Pearl pokes her head out from behind Fame. There’s an easy grin on her face.

“Heya,” Trixie whispers back. Pearl ends up hugging her, Trixie squeezes her.  The blonde hair that trails down Pearl’s back reminds her of Katya, and her smile falters.

Trixie spots the raised eyebrow coming from Ginger, the analytical glare. They’re very similar, her and Violet. Both of them are going to treat Trixie like an unexploded bomb that’s ticking. She pulls away from the hug with Pearl and spots Fame’s hands awkwardly fidgeting. Violet’s stayed by the door. Pearl gently keeps a hand on Trixie’s elbow. Pearl looks only at Trixie.

“I’m glad you’re-”

“I’m not okay and you know it,” Trixie interrupts. The words fly out. Pearl’s eyes widen. Trixie carries on forcing her grinning. “I’m going to be.”

Trixie knows she didn’t recover that. There’s a sick feeling in her stomach. She could cry. She could, but she won’t.

Kim stands up, walks over, takes her hand and holds it tightly. “Worried about you, Bitch.”

Trixie nods. They hold eye contact for a long time. Kim’s familiar eyes are a comfort. They know each other so well. Sometimes, Trixie knows what Kim’ll say before Kim does. Another bit of guilt, she can’t tell Kim the truth.

None of these people know they’re in a room with a murderer.

 


 

 

Katya had just driven Trixie home from the airport. The snowglobe from Katya rested heavy in Trixie’s hands. She sat in her kitchen.  There was the smell of Katya’s cooking, tuneless singing and laughter; a beer in both of their hands.

When Trixie went to the bathroom an hour later, she put the snowglobe on the shelf above her sink. It is one of the first things Trixie saw in the morning and the last at night.

 


 

She shrugs Kim’s hand away. Still smiling. She can’t stop smiling. They can’t guess. That would ruin everything.

Then again, everything already feels ruined. Would it be dramatic to say she’s devastated? After all, this isn’t exactly a situation she’s innocent in. They’re all mourning the loss of their friend. It should be Katya where Trixie is standing. It should be Trixie in jail. This should never have happened. Katya should be here. They should be hugging her, laughing with her. Maybe Violet and Ginger would loosen up because Katya has been able to bring out sides in them that Trixie doesn’t even think they knew they had.

“I’ll buy you a bottle of wine at some point,” Ginger pipes in. She stays sat down, but tilts her glass to point at Trixie.

There’s no way that they could have pulled off Katya not being an accomplice right? She was too close to it. Trixie acted her heart out, now she just feels fucking empty. She’s purged of all her happiness. Could Katya have filled her shoes? She said that Trixie wouldn’t survive. Trixie knows she’s been exposed to less than Katya. Will Katya be the same person, the woman Trixie loves, after being thrown back into that? She’d kill for an hour of conversation. One hour. She’d sort this all out. She’d know what to do. She’d kiss Katya so hard that she could never forget Trixie loves her.

“It better be a good bottle.”

Ginger snorts. “The best for you Princess.” They share eye contact for a moment. Maybe she can sense the fakery on her. Or maybe she just knows that Katya wouldn’t hurt someone. Then again, Trixie didn’t think she could either.

“Well, I’ve got rehearsals tomorrow so I better go. Trixie, it was lovely seeing you,” Violet pipes in. Her cheeks are slightly pinker than they were when Trixie first saw her. Violet looks at the door. “Call me if you need me.” She looks back at the others. Coughing, she looks down the ground. “I’m seeing Max tomorrow afternoon. Anybody have any messages to pass on?”

“You’re meeting up with her?” Pearl asks. There’s a harsh tone to her voice, raised eyebrows conveying her surprise. Violet’s expression hardens.

Another wave of tension washes across the already stiff room. Trixie shares a glance with Kim, who’s biting her lip. Kim shrugs.

“Yes. We’re friends,” Violet declares. She swallows. “We’re going to the trial together.”

Trixie feels pairs of eyes in the room switch to look at her. She physically reels for a moment. Trixie can’t go to that. They think Katya traumatized her. Or could she go to that, as she’s playing that she’s forgiven her? What does the world expect of her? Oh god.

“Really, Violet?” Pearl responds. Her cheeks have turned red, her jaw is clenched. Violet refuses to look at her. “You’re doing this right now?”

“I have to go. I can’t pretend that I’m not.” Violet looks at Trixie. “I’m sorry.”

The room is still and silent. Violet is finally looking at Trixie.

“Is this why you wouldn’t talk to me earlier?” Trixie asks.

There’s a long pause before Violet nods. “I didn’t think you’d understand.”

Understand. She really is a drama queen. If only they all knew how much she’d kill to be there. Everything she’d give to even be able to see Katya from afar. Thoughts pile up in her head. How messy everything is. Violet thinks Katya abducted her, that’s what the world thinks, and Violet’s still going? Does she care about Trixie at all? Should Trixie start something over this to stay in character? Should she show what the change is? Damn it, she can’t make this worse for herself.

“It’s okay,” Trixie confirms. “I get it.”

It doesn’t feel okay, but there’s such a thing as bigger problems.

Violet raises an eyebrow, again. There’s a point where Trixie wonders if maybe that’s her natural state now. “Thank you. By the way, Max said she’d like to meet you. Well, no she didn’t, but she would. I think it’d be nice-”

“Because you’re so close to Max now,” Pearl interjects. Violet doesn’t turn to look at the rage on Pearl’s face. “This isn’t a good look on you, Violet.”

Violet rolls her eyes, which Trixie is far too familiar with. “Bye.” She turns to nod at Trixie. After walking out of the kitchen, there’s a twenty second gap before Trixie hears the front door open and close.

Nobody talks.

It’s Pearl who coughs. Trixie thinks she probably did it to try and break the atmosphere, it didn’t work. Trixie’s getting a fucking headache. Katya would be able to say something and make everyone here laugh. She’s a core element of this group. Pearl carries on staring at the space Violet just occupied. Her face falls for a moment before she clams back up.

“She’s so insensitive. She pretends to not give a shit,” Pearl murmurs. She shakes her head. “ It’s so ungenuine. We just fucking got Trixie back and now she’s off-”

“It’s disingenuous,” Ginger corrects.

Pearl glares at her. “Thank you,” she says, it drips with sarcasm. A hard sigh comes from Pearl. “How was your flight Trixie?”

Pearl looks at her. Trixie can see the pain in her eyes and the bags under them. “Pretty good. Didn’t get much sleep though.”

“Do you want us to go?” Fame asks. It makes Trixie jump; she’d forgotten Fame was in the room. She’s been really quiet, something Trixie doesn’t usually associate with her friend.

“If you wouldn’t mind,” Trixie answers. She feels a little mean. But she needs some space, she’ll deal with all of this tomorrow. She’ll call her landlord tomorrow. Her boss, tomorrow. Cosmetology, tomorrow. Them, tomorrow.

Getting back to living this damn life can wait until fucking tomorrow.

“Do you want somebody to stay with you Trixie? We’d get it if you were-well-you know-” Fame carries on.

“A bit scared to be alone,” Ginger interjects. The lack of beating around the bush from her makes Trixie smile.

“I’ll be good. I’ll call you tomorrow, yeah?” Trixie says. They all nod. Pearl hugs her again and kisses her on the cheek before leaving. Fame holds her for just a bit longer.

“You know, I thought I was going to cry,” Fame jokes.

Trixie chuckles. “Me too.”

They share another embrace before Fame leaves too. The fact that they’re all leaving separately is jarring to Trixie.

Ginger stands up and moves over to her. She squeezes Trixie’s hand. “I know we’ve been avoiding the elephant in the room so I’m going to tiptoe over her, the both of you terrified us.” Trixie flinches. “Just, if you need to talk to someone. I’m here,” Ginger says. It hurts, just a little. “Though, you should probably get some therapy.”

“She needed that before this happened,” Kim jokes. It works, Trixie laughs.

Ginger sighed. “I’m glad you’re here. I mean, I wish none of this had happened but still. I’m glad you’re here at least.” Ginger looks down to the ground, Trixie hears her sniff. She wobbles slightly. Trixie wonders how much she’s had to drink.

Trixie sighs too. She closes her eyes, and tries to not think about whether she’s telling the truth or not. “I wish it hadn’t happened either. I wish she was here and he was gone far far away and I hadn’t seen everything I’ve seen.” Trixie nearly chokes up, but what’s the point?

Ginger looks up at her. There’s tears in her eyes. “I don’t want to push. But he deserved it, didn’t he? What she did to him?” There’s no resentment in her voice. Her tone tenders as she speaks. It’s a rare thing to see Ginger be ‘soft’. It nearly breaks Trixie.

She can’t answer that question. Was the murder Trixie committed justified? Would it have been if Katya had actually done it?

Trixie’s been so distracted. There was making sure that Katya was okay. There was running away. Her mom. The police. Lies. There’s nothing left but Trixie. Sure, she has to make sure that her friends are okay. She’s got to try and mend some of her burnt bridges. But tonight, there’s going to be nothing left to distract her from this. Trixie Mattel: Murderer? “I don’t know,” Trixie answers truthfully.

Ginger scowls even further. She looks like poison. “He hit her, didn’t he?” Trixie nods. She looks around, anything to avoid eye contact.

“She never- I imagine worse than hit.” Trixie’s breath catches. It’s worse saying out loud. That makes it real. “She was traumatized, Ginger.”

There’s a moment of silence. Kim, stuck in the corner, wouldn’t dare make a sound.

“I hope she made him bleed,” Ginger hisses.

Stunned, Trixie looks back to Ginger. “What?”

Ginger keeps her eye contact. She grits her teeth. “We know Katya. You didn’t press charges right? So I’m guessing you don’t hate her?”

Trixie thinks she could laugh. Trust Ginger to not beat around the bush. “No. She-She was scared. She was scared and I was there. So she clung to me.” Trixie hates lies, so she tells half truths. “She did what she felt like she had to do. We did what we felt like we had to do.” The last bit slips out.

Ginger’s eyes widen a little. Trixie’s heart skips a beat, the dread kicks in. If Ginger can guess in ten minutes that something is amiss, how is she going to lie to the world? How will Katya lie?

“Did she hurt you?” Ginger asks. There’s a look of horror mixed with hope on Ginger’s face.

The question startles Trixie. “No-No. Never!” Trixie guesses now’s the time to lie to cover her ass. “You know Katya. She’s the one person in the world who could hold me at knifepoint and me not feel afraid. Fuck, she even did me a solid by owning up to abducting me. She’s Katya, and I-!”

The tears finally escape. Her breath hitches. Even a dramatic voice break to top it off, brilliant. Trixie turns away from Ginger and faces Kim. The look of pity on Kim’s face is only slightly less upsetting than the look of grief on Ginger’s.

“I think you’d better go,” Kim advises Ginger.

“I didn’t mean-”

“She knows you didn’t,” Kim jumps in before Trixie can respond. The tears are still falling, Trixie still doesn’t know why they won’t make this seem any better.

Ginger puts hand on Trixie’s shoulder for a second before sighing. She walks out, and Trixie hears the door shut.

It’s silent. Trixie knows that Kim is watching her, but she doesn’t care. Trixie doesn’t deserve any of this, to have Kim even care.

“Trixie, what do you need?”

It’s a valid question. It’s such a Kim question, she really does know her too well. Trixie wipes under her eyes with the back of her hands. She exhales and shakes her head. She really doesn’t want to be crying. Not now.

“I don’t know.” It’s not true. She knows what she needs, who she needs.

Kim bites her lip. “I love you Trixie, but I need to be told how to help.”

“I don’t know,” Trixie repeats. She swallows away her feelings, tries to even out her breathing. “Everything seems like such a blur.”

“Why do you think that?” Kim asks.

She walks over to Trixie, picks up her hand and leads her Trixie’s couch. Trixie stays silent throughout. The last time she was here, she was with Katya. It’d just happened. Her body wouldn’t stop shaking, and her mind was on fire.

Her mind is still burning.

“So much happened,” Trixie responds. Kim lets go of her hand, but leaves it on the couch next to Trixie. It’s available, but only if Trixie wants it. “I-I changed. I think I changed.”

“In what way?”

Trixie coughs, her words still muffled by the aftermath of tears. Trixie can’t think of an answer. At least, she can’t think of an answer that Kim can hear. “Maybe I haven’t changed. Maybe, I just know who I am a bit better now. ”

There’s a pause. “And, who are you?”

It’s a loaded question. Trixie has stopped crying. She pulls her hands into fists.

“I know I know where I belong,” Trixie concludes. She looks over at Kim, who smiles back. “I know what makes me happy and I know how to fight for that.” Trixie looks out the window. Bright city lights shine back at her. The person that makes her happy told her to fight for them. Trixie has every intention of doing that. “I know there’s nothing wrong with crying, before you tell me that, but I know I don’t just want to sit around and cry. I think the old me would have felt more sorry for myself, but now-now that doesn’t seem right-”

“I think you’re allowed to feel sorry for yourself-”

“I know,” Trixie retorts. She sighs. “It’s just, pity. I can pity myself a little, but I need to work on making it better. I’m going to get my life back. I’m going to work hard, go back to cosmetology. I’m going to make money, and love you all. I can’t stop living. In fact, I need to live more and harder because that’s what is best for me. I can’t keep putting everything off. I need to be more true to myself, and do what I want. ” Trixie believes that. However, she also believes that’s what Katya would want for her. That makes it easier to find the motivation to actually do it.

Kim nods. “Then, I’ll help you do that. Because what else are friends for?”

Trixie smiles, and it’s okay. She doesn’t feel okay, but this moment is okay. She’s safe. That’s what matters. Everything she just said, she’s going to do.

Looking around her flat, it really sinks in that she’s home. This has all happened. Katya is somewhere else. There is blood on Trixie’s hands, whether that was ‘justified’ or not.

“It’s permanent, isn’t it?” Trixie whispers.

There’s a smile on Kim’s face, she rubs the side of Trixie’s arm. “Yeah. But you can make more choices, and they can make it better. You can do whatever you need to do.”

There’s no way to get Katya out of jail. There’s no way to reverse her regrets or change anything. If Trixie fessed up, it’d make things worse for the both of them. There’s just this world Katya’s created for Trixie, but she can make it better. She can make a better universe for her and Katya to live in when the time comes. She can find ways of coping with her guilt and hoping to god that there isn’t one. It can be okay. No matter what’s happened, or what will happen, it can be okay. Trixie has to believe that, or what’s even the point?

“Thank you, Kim.”

“Not a problem,” Kim responds. “Are you sure you don’t want me to stay here tonight?”

Trixie shakes her head. “You have a key, just come by tomorrow morning if you have the time before-”

“By the way, you still have a job. You can call tomorrow and sort that out. I also chatted to your landlord and paid last month’s rent-”

“Kim! You shouldn’t have-”

“You can pay me back,” she assures. Kim stands up, she carries on looking at Trixie. “I’ll come by at nine tomorrow morning, yeah?” Trixie nods. When Kim leans over for a hug, she returns it. “Bye Girl. Love you.”

Shooting Trixie a reluctant look, Kim leaves. Trixie knows she wanted her to stop her. However, Trixie couldn’t do that. She needs time to think.

 


 

 

Trixie doesn’t move for a while after Kim leaves. She sits on that spot on the sofa and runs through everything.

She guesses she’ll have to catch up on everything that happened and get back to life. She’ll email Cosmetology tomorrow, play a pity card. She needs more money if she’s going to support Katya. There’s no way she can’t go. That’s just petty stuff though. Things she has to deal with, just because she has to.

She thinks about his body, bleeding out on the floor. Then, she thinks about how little she’s thought about it. The guilt makes her feel sick, but it’s not all because of him. She feels guilty for letting Katya take the blame, for leaving her mother, for too many things. Trixie saved her. If she hadn’t have been there, it might have been him in jail right now. Katya could have been six feet under and what would have happened to Trixie?

It’s permanent, there’s no way to change her decisions. Not in this apartment, not tonight.

Sighing, she stands up. She turns off the light as she walks past it and double checks that the door is locked. It is. On the walk back through her flat, she grabs her mother’s suitcase. Her suitcase is still in holding as evidence, she can’t imagine she’ll ever get it back.

It reminds her of the small piece of paper in her bra. Reaching under her shirt, she pulls it out. Their bucket list is damaged, and frayed at the ends. Trixie kisses it lightly. The candy ring that Katya got her is tucked into her bra too. She remembers when they got found, Trixie sobbed and sobbed whilst they searched her. If she hadn’t have cried, they would have found them both so easily.

They’re what she has to hold onto. They represent hope. The hope that this guilt will get easier to live with, that Katya will come home, that everything they planned will come true. She has to let that lift her up from this dark place and keep her strong. Hope will make her stronger.

She tucks the bucket list into her underwear drawer, protected right at the back. She slips the ring onto her little finger for a moment. Looking down at it, she remembers that day. The way that happiness filled her up, how she thought for a moment that they might just make it. The ring comes off too and is placed with the list.

The last time she was in this room, she was with Katya. She was distraught. Completely wrecked. She’s okay. Right now, she could be worse. The exact memory of the last time she was here doesn’t make her happier, but it doesn’t make her sadder.

She has a shower, and makes a note to herself to clean her bathroom. It’s another thing that needs to be done. It makes her feel less groggy from the flight.

She still doesn’t cry.

Her bedsheets need replacing too. Her whole flat could do with a clean. She’ll get on that tomorrow afternoon, after all the inevitable calls and emails in the morning. Her pyjamas are soft. It’s not hard to physically relax as she rests against the bed. Closing her eyes is a sweet relief.

Her thoughts start to empty, and she smiles. It’s not total peace, she’s a mixture of positive and negative emotions. However, she has faith tonight. She’s keeping her faith. This will mend, she will heal and when the time is right, she will help Katya heal too. She’s home and she can’t think of a better place to be.

 


 

Katya’s nerves for her trial only seem to be growing. She can’t really seem to grasp why. Bianca and Courtney have gone through what’s going to happen multiple times now. They tell her the things she has to say, what not to say. The only thing they can’t tell her is the outcome. She’s getting time for definite, but her time? For the crimes that she is supposed to have committed, and those that she did, fifteen years to life could be a distant possibility. Bianca reckons she’ll get sympathy points and it’ll be less. Courtney is not as optimistic.

She’s pleading guilty. Bianca and Courtney think she is guilty. The world thinks she is. All of the looks of disgust mixed with pity, the questions loaded into every look Katya receives, are driving her insane.

At least it’s her getting this judgement, and not Trixie. It’s odd really. Katya’s never really described herself as a person that has a thick skin. She’s always had something to act as a shield. A substance or a person that lifts her up until she didn’t feel like Katya anymore. The feeling was usually good for a little bit, until it turned rotten. Trixie. She told Trixie that she made her feel stronger. That was wrong. Trixie built her up until she was stronger.

And that strength, is how she will get through this.

Chapter Text

Violet thinks she probably shouldn’t have done it. It’s going to complicate things even fucking more.  That’s one thing she knows she could do without.

There’s so many things in her head.

Her job is stressing her out. The issue with her job now is that it’s in a more prestigious club. She could get noticed at any time; she can’t give a mediocre performance so she gets her cheque. She loves performance, the feeling of complete euphoria after being on stage. However, it’s difficult to always be perfect. She’s feeling herself slow down. It wasn’t like she could take any time off when this whole thing kicked off. She has to work. She has to get paid. It’s all crashing in on her.

Her parents still don’t like the job she does. Of course, the stigma is hard to shake. Violet gets why they don’t like it, but it’s what Violet lives for. She can create an illusion, draw people in and it’s art. Violet knows that it’s tough, it takes strength to do what she does. Even if nobody else thinks she should be, Violet is so proud of what she does. Her parents will never take that from her. Still, the feeling that you’re letting down the people that raised you isn’t a good one. Violet knows she is strong enough to ignore it.

Trixie’s home. It isn’t Trixie’s fault that Violet can’t stand looking at her. Out of everybody in this damn world, Katya was one of the few to see through Violet straight away. Katya gets her, and Violet gets Katya. They used to keep each other safe, look at them now. Trixie probably would understand, Violet knows she cared about Katya just as much as Violet does, but where could she even begin to explain her feelings? How can she explain that she damned won’t cry in front of anybody because Katya wouldn’t want her to?

Pearl. Pearl had to choose right now didn’t she? Violet has given up on it over and over again before regaining hope. Trixie and Katya being gone, it ruined a lot of fragile things. Violet tries not to think about what happened, but it keeps circling in her head. How could she have guessed it? That it’d take Katya killing someone for Pearl to admit to how she feels. How could Violet have foreseen a world that she wouldn’t want to hear it? The memory of it all gives Violet a migraine.

It’s odd. The only person that she wants to talk to about all of this is Katya.

She’s been laying here for what feels like hours. Max is still asleep right next to her. Violet should have written off yesterday as a bad day and just gone to bed. Written yesterday off as a necessary and painful mistake. However, Max wanted to know if she was okay and Violet didn’t feel okay. The two of them have been talking over the phone ever since Violet’s group of friends tried to visit Katya’s flat. They thought they might get more information there. They did, but it wasn’t what they wanted. Max met them outside after she’d just talked to the police again. She invited everybody into her flat and she told them everything she’d seen that fucking evening that Violet can’t forget. Afterwards, Max gave Violet her number. She said she wanted to help. And she has helped, she’s talked through a lot with her.

Violet could consider her a friend. She’s been there for her more than Pearl has anyway, or any of the others for that matter. Despite it being weeks, Violet still isn’t sure what Max was in it for. Was she lonely? Guilty? Did she need a support system too? It doesn’t matter. Violet thinks she’s probably ruined that now they had sex.

It was simple really. Violet needed a distraction, Max provided it.

Max does kinda look cute. She keeps on scrunching her nose up as she sleeps. It makes Violet a little bit more relaxed. Oh god, what if the others find out? They’d rip the shit out of her. Their friend killed someone and Violet found an excuse to get fucked through it. Even Violet can admit this doesn’t sound good. Katya would find it hysterical.

What if Pearl finds out about this? Would this hurt her feelings?

Why does Violet care if this hurts Pearl’s feelings? They both know what happened. If Pearl gave a damn, she would have followed Violet out of Trixie’s apartment and told her. She didn’t, and she won’t. Because Pearl doesn’t have the courage to admit anything when she’s sober, and what use is that?

Violet sighs, leaning back against the pillows. It crosses her mind that she could just pull her clothes on and run. She knows Max would understand. She’d either pretend it didn’t happen or never call again. Violet could just end this right now, and she’d be okay. Quick. Easy. Painless.

She supposes that’s something else Max is. Max is kind. Violet could use some of that. Everybody she works with and all of her friends are all jaded. All of them push away affection because it’s easier that way. Max cares about her. They’ve known eachother for less than a month and she cares. Violet cares too. She doesn’t want to upset her. She’s sensitive and she tried to help Katya despite barely knowing her. She’s someone that Violet wants to hold onto, in whatever way she can.

But Pearl still lingers in the back of her mind.

Max pulls Violet closer in her sleep, and Violet can’t resist the grin that fills her face. Max is sweet. If Violet doesn’t leave, if she stays in the morning and they chat, this could be the easiest thing in the world.

So, Violet closes her eyes.

 


 

“Trixie, wake up.”

Kim’s voice isn’t really a shock. Trixie’s eyes blink open. Every single feeling crashes in on her chest and it suffocates her for a moment. Nothing like a moment of drowning to wake her up in the morning. 

“Hey,” Trixie says. Coming out of her, her voice sounds croaky.

Kim smiles. “Come on, I made you breakfast.”

There’s sunlight coming through the curtain. Trixie remembers what her morning routine used to be. She used to drink coffee, put her makeup on and eat on her journey to work. After not drinking coffee for a while, she’s lost the urge. Her makeup bag is still in evidence. She’s going to have to go without for a while. It’s odd. She doesn’t think she’s worn makeup since the day they left New York. Around Katya, she never felt like she wanted to wear it. God, it’s too early to psychoanalyse that.

Kim’s left the room when Trixie turns over to look at her. Trixie rolls her eyes and pulls herself out of bed. No coffee, no makeup, no work yet. She supposes get dressed, eat and sort her life out is as good of an order as any.

Trixie pulls on a jeans a and a pink T-shirt. She looks good when she looks at herself in the mirror. Usually, she’d be covered in powders or potions but she’s not planning on leaving the flat. If she’s honest, she’s not sure if she could bring herself to do it.

“Trixie, hurry up!”

She laughs at Kim’s voice and heads into the kitchen. As she walks into the kitchen, she sees that Kim’s bought groceries and is halfway through eating the portion of breakfast she made herself. Trixie cringes as she looks at the fridge. She’s been gone for over a month now.

“Shit, all my food’s going to have rotted-”

“I cleaned it out after they let us in here,” Kim interjects. Trixie raises her eyebrows at her. “What? They caught you, I sorted things out with the landlord and then cleaned your shit up.”

Kim gestures to the breakfast. Slowly, Trixie pulls out a chair and sits down. She starts to eat, talking around bites of food. It’s odd to not completely know how to act around Kim.

“You know, you didn’t have to but-”

“It wasn’t a problem. I just thought I’d help.”

Kim looks down. Trixie frowns, she knows that girl too well. It takes her a moment to figure it out. She swallows.

“You felt guilty, didn’t you?” Trixie asks.

Kim looks back at her with shock. There’s a clatter as she drops her fork. “No! I-Urgh-I”

Trixie smiles. Under the table, she kicks Kim lightly with her bare foot.  “It’s okay. But you didn’t need to.”

The tension in Kim eases. “I kept thinking about what I should have done. I didn’t know what to do, so I thought-”

“You didn’t have to do anything-”

“That doesn’t mean I didn’t want to,” Kim concludes.

Trixie wonders if she should carry on speaking, but she can’t think of anything. They enter a companionable silence.  

It’s odd. Trixie just spent so much time being helped by and trying to help Katya, why is Kim giving a hand an issue? She trusts Kim. This isn’t unusual behaviour. If she’s parted from Katya, she can’t afford to lose any friends in the fallout. Katya would be disappointed in her.

“There wasn’t anything you could have done,” Trixie says. The words jump Kim out of whatever haze she was in. “Thank you, for sorting something out for me so I didn’t have to.”

Kim smiles. “You’re welcome.”

They eat in the quiet for a bit longer, and Trixie feels just a bit lighter.

 


 

 

Kim tried to wash up the dishes instead, but Trixie insisted. She is sitting on the countertop next to Trixie and chatting.

“It probably wasn’t the best idea to have everybody at once. Sorry,” Kim admits. There's a grimace on her face. 

Trixie nods. “I think I just, could have used some sleep.”

The glass she places on the drainer makes a small clinking noise as it touches the others. “Yeah. I made a bad call there.”

“It was a nice gesture,” Trixie defends. A little sigh escapes her chest. "What happened while I was gone?”

She wonders if Kim understands the actual question. Why the hell was everybody acting like that yesterday?

Kim shrugs, her eyebrows raise. “Girl. It was tough, we all thought the worse and it dragged us all apart a bit. It was tricky. What can I say?”

Trixie pauses in her chores. She pulls her hands out of the water and dries them. The heat of the liquid bothers her. “Dragged you apart?”

“You’re our friends. We had to relearn how to work as a group,” Kim explains. “Trixie, you know how all of us work. Fame’s head ran wild. Violet, like, distanced herself. Pearl disappeared. Ginger made jokes. We all sort of, retreated for a while.” Kim’s eyes widen, and she tuts. “I hope it’ll be better now that you’re back, but I-”

“What did you do?” Trixie asks.

The question clearly shocks Kim. After a long blink, Kim answers, “sorted things out? I went to work, I worked hard, I took care of myself and I tried to stay as up to date as possible.”

“You distracted yourself,” Trixie concludes, a nod follows it. “So you wouldn’t have to think about it.”

Kim’s smile is sad this time. It gives Trixie goosebumps. “I think that’s what we’re all doing.”

She hears what Kim isn’t saying, the implication that they’re still doing that. Trixie isn’t sure if that’s what she’s doing. Trixie nods. When she puts her hands back in the water, the heat of it makes Trixie’s goosebumps even worse. There’s something uncomfortable about it.

“Individually it should be easier to fix it,” Trixie says.

She’s not sure if she does care that much about getting them to work as a group. There's very few things she can force herself to give a damn about right now. Katya would care though, Katya would be devastated that they’d caused this.

Kim shakes her head. “They’re all okay. Trixie, you might just need to let it be for a while. We’ve got bigger things to think about.”

It takes Trixie a moment to realize what Kim’s getting at. The second that she does, it gets a little harder to breathe. She hates that she has to ask. She doesn’t want to. It’s poison in her throat. It's poison in her head. 

“When-When’s her trial?”

Trixie’s mother kept her blind to that. Trixie hasn’t even looked at her phone yet.

“A week,” Kim answers. “I’ve cut your home phone. You kept getting newspapers call you.”

A week. Trixie’s mind goes blank. Her stomach mixes with every bad emotion she can think of. How? How did it get here so quick.

“Thank you,” Trixie whispers. She stopped looking at Kim. The room feels cold and this water is just so damn hot and it’s all over her hands. She just wishes there was something she could do. Anything. Anything that would swap their positions, undo any of this.

They could have been so happy. They should have been so happy.

“Trixie?”

When Trixie looks down, she swears for a second that the water is blood. She recoils away from it. Hands dripping onto the floor, her heart beats hard in her chest. She closes her eyes for a moment and feels the breath in her lungs. In and out. Force it.  There’s a hand on her shoulder, and Trixie opens her eyes and looks directly into Kim’s.

“Sorry, I-”

“It’s okay. Trixie, it’s okay.”

And Trixie doesn’t believe it. Not at all. However, Kim looks so sincere that she knows she isn’t being lied to. There’s some honesty here, even if Trixie can’t provide it. How is she meant to talk to her friends and act like she’s supposed to be here? Like she deserves this.

“I forgave her for everything she thought she did,” Trixie confesses. The words fly out of her. “I want her to be okay. I don’t care about me. I don’t matter if she’s not okay.”

Kim freezes, and she scowls at her. There it is again, that analysis. Trixie would do anything to have that gone.

“She would want you to be okay,” Kim replies. “You know that? She would say the exact same thing you just said to me if she was here. I believe that. ” For a moment, Trixie wonders if Kim’s figured it out. There’s a look of pain on Kim’s face, not shock. She doesn’t think she has. Oh god, she hates that she’s worrying about this. This doesn’t matter. There’s bigger things than this. “Can I hug you?”

Trixie nods. She hates feeling so fucking stuck, so she’ll cling to this.

“I love you Kim,” Trixie says. “You’re a good friend.”

Kim holds her a bit tighter. “I’m not going anywhere, never. I love you too, Girl.”

 


 

 

Trixie has just gotten off the phone with work. She’s going to go back at the beginning of next week. That gives her three more days to get used to being back in New York.

“Kim, who’s going to sort out Katya’s flat?”

The thought flies out. The two of them are cleaning the apartment. Trixie knows that people have been in to investigate. Her phone has been moved, it’s in the kitchen now. A few more bits have been messed with. It’s a chance for Trixie to feel less invaded. This is a restart for her home, she guesses. At least she doesn’t have anything incriminating around the apartment.

Kim stops sweeping, turns to Trixie and shrugs.

“I guess we’ll get there when we get there.”

Afterwards, Kim carries on cleaning. Trixie looks down at the duster in her hand and finds it incredibly hard to keep doing what she’s doing.

 


 

 

It took close to two hours, but Kim and Trixie cleaned the flat. It was nice, actually. Just about normal for Trixie to be able to forget about everything.

“I just need to buy new make-up supplies,” Trixie declares. 

Kim slumps down onto the sofa and Trixie copies her. It’s only about one in the afternoon, and Trixie is exhausted.

“Work’ll get you new shit if you ask,” Kim answers. It's true and she nods.

Trixie sighs. “I should probably check my phone at some point. Mom probably tried to call me.”

Laughter comes from Kim. “Go check your phone then.”

Trixie opens her mouth to say something else. It’s reached a point where sitting around lets her think too much and she gets bored. Then, she starts antagonizing herself. Kim’ll get annoyed if she does that whilst she’s around.

Her letter from cosmetology and her phone are in the kitchen. Might aswell kill two birds with one stone. She heads to them both, Kim’s eyebrows raising whilst she stands up. Trixie grabs them both and leans over a counter to look at them.

Her phone takes a moment to turn on. It seems like hundreds of texts, missed calls and emails come in at once. Trixie rolls her eyes at the amount of shit she has to work through.

However, she knows where she wants to start. She opens her email, and spots a few emails from the NYC School of Cosmetology asking for confirmation. However, that was weeks ago.

Slowly, she pulls the letter from the envelope. She types in the email address slowly, making sure to copy it right from the letter she received.

She remembers opening this. In her head, she replays the events that occurred after she opened it. The call. The sprint. The killing. Blood. The blood.

The letter is signed and has links to the email address of one of her tutors. She was the one Trixie interviewed with. Her name was Tammie, and she was batshit insane. Trixie loved her. Thinking about it, she allows herself to get excited about it again. It’s a good feeling. It makes it easier to ignore the other stuff.  Trixie types the address and stares at the blank screen for a moment. It glares at her.

To Miss Tammie Brown ,

You may be aware of my recent predicament. Unfortunately, it left me unable to reply to your acceptance. I am back home and I would still like to attend your course, as long as you still will have me.

Thank you,

Trixie Mattel.

She sends it, and hopes for the best.

 


 

 

Violet wakes up again. Max isn’t next to her this time. There's a sinking feeling in Violet's chest. How could she? Doesn't Violet mean more than that? Even if she didn't want this to happen again, doesn't she even get an explanation? 

Violet hears footsteps walking past the bedroom. She sits up, pulling the sheets up with her to cover herself up.  

Max enters the bedroom. They make eye contact, and Violet relaxes. Max's mouth falls open for a moment before she smiles. 

“I thought you’d left,” Violet says. Her voice is rough from sleep.

Max shakes her head. “I wouldn’t, Sweetheart. Also, I live here.”

Violet laughs. She shakes her head at Max. Taking it as a good sign, Max moves and sits on the side of the bed near Violet’s hips.

“Fine, I thought you had left and were giving me a hint.”

Max’s eyebrows crease together. There’s a strong intensity to her gaze.

“None of that,” Max insists. She sucks on her lips, looking down at Violet's legs before looking back at her face. “ Do you wish that I’d been gone?”

Before she even finishes the sentence, Violet interrupts. “No. I just panicked. I swear.”

Max smiles at her. There’s a lovely quality to her face first thing in the morning, she seems even more relaxed than usual. Violet isn’t really sure how she feels about that. Max always seems so composed.

“Do you want coffee? Or breakfast? I mean, it’s past midday but I can cook.”

The suggestion makes Violet feel better and she’s felt rotten for weeks now.

“Breakfast would be lovely, as long as I’m not like a burden-”

“Never,” Max interjects. She puts a hand on the blanket over Violet’s thigh. It’s such a gentle touch. It's hesitant, despite everything that happened last night. “You can borrow some of my clothes if you don’t feel comfortable wearing what you came here in last night. They’re in my drawers.” Max gestures to the furniture in her cramped apartment with a nod. It’s odd. Violet knows how pretty much this entire apartment works because of Katya’s.

“Are you sure that isn’t crossing a line?” Max’s face drops a tiny bit, but she covers it. However, Violet still notices. “It’d be nice though! As long as you’re cool with it, I’m cool with it.”

There’s a smile back on Max’s face and Violet finds that she can relax. “Cool,” Max repeats.

The two of them look at each other for a long moment. Max’s eyes trail down to Violet’s bare shoulders, her messy hair and lips.

“I, um,-” Max starts. “I want to kiss you again.”

Violet can’t help but smile. “You’d risk my morning breath?”

Max bites her lip. “I’d risk more.”

They look at eachother for a moment. Max’s gaze captivates Violet and she knows she’s screwed.

Violet returns to her thoughts from last night. She supposes this is her moment. This is when she could run. She’d owe nothing to anybody. Pearl wouldn’t get hurt, Max wouldn’t get hurt, Violet wouldn't get hurt. She could carry on living the way she was and pretend nothing ever happened at all.

Maybe she doesn’t want to carry on living like that.

“Kiss me then.”

 


 

Maybe there’s a point, after Max lays Violet back down on the bed and climbs on top of her, that Violet thinks of what this would be like with Pearl. Maybe, she imagines the hint of cigarettes in her mouth instead of the taste of Max’s.

Maybe.

Chapter Text

Pearl just wants it all to be over.

She’s laying in bed. She had a music gig last night and she can still feel the exhaustion in her bones. Work starts up in a couple hours and she has to close up this evening. 

As a kid if she’d been told that she’d still be living in New York, she would have laughed. If she’d been been told that there was a point that she would find happiness, she wouldn’t have believed it. If you’d told Pearl as a child that there was a point that she was happy and that Pearl had let it slip through her fingers, she would have cried.

What is she supposed to do now?

It’s two days until the trial. It’s the anticipation of everything that’s the worst. Pearl can’t stand feeling like she should always be ready to sprint. They’re all waiting to see what happens to Katya. They all what to know how that’s going to affect that. They’re waiting to see what happens to Trixie. How is Trixie going to be affected by Katya’s absence? She’s pretending to be okay, that she doesn’t mind. Trixie’s never felt so fake before. Pearl’s biting her fingernails off over it all.

The last month has contained a lot of firsts. 

Pearl never thought that she’d hate Katya. Although, she knows it’s more difficult than that. There’s the pain in Trixie’s eyes which Pearl never wanted to see. Katya put it there. She’s going to have caused Trixie irreparable damage. Pearl can’t find it in herself to understand, because fundamentally she should. She gets being scared of people; she didn’t have the best upbringing. Katya defended herself and it went the worst way possible. She can understand. She will not understand what she did after, she can’t.

Pearl never thought that she’d be nervous about going to Trixie’s flat. She isn’t looking forward to seeing everyone. There's no point in skipping it. She’d just get shit from Ginger, and then Fame would get upset. They’d claim that she’s not helping Trixie or something fucking stupid.

She never thought she’d tell Violet how she feels. She never imagined a scenario where Violet shut the door on her face. There’s not really much sloppier that a person can be than knocking on someone’s door at two in the morning and confessing that they’re the love of their life whilst knock-out drunk. Pearl feels like she ought to explain, apologize even.  She just can’t summon the fucking courage. Pearl’s never been in a relationship. Or rather, she’s never been in one that lasted. She doesn’t want Violet to be a fling. It’s more than that. Violet’s not exactly tried to get ahold of her either. Then, there was Trixie’s coming home. That mess that Pearl is refusing to acknowledge. She should have known Violet would need to see the trial. She should have fucking known. She shouldn’t have gotten jealous.

Another fucking fuck up. Another one.  

 


 

 

Violet feels like a teenager again.

It’s not permanent. When she stops looking at her phone, when Max leaves her flat, it stops. It's when she's alone that everything sinks back in again, that Violet feels like Violet again. Although, Violet’s not exactly been the happiest recently. The respite that Max gives from everything is a gift.

Max makes it easier to laugh. She makes it easier to do a lot of things actually.

They seem to have set limits without talking about it. There’s never been a point where they’ve talked about being exclusive. They haven’t really hung out at Max’s flat since their first time, it’s too close to Katya’s. It never gets too deep.

Violet’s never found it that easy to connect with people. She needs time to analyze people, figure out just what it is that makes them tick. Some people don’t appreciate that she needs time to warm up. Katya, for example, wanted to jump head first into the friendship of a lifetime. That friendship did happen, but it took Violet at least two months to even get used to her.

Max, she gets Max. They both beat to the same drum. They share the same interests. They both can be reserved. Violet thinks their only difference is that Max is more laid back.  And it’s what Violet needs. Someone that gets her. Somebody that isn’t scared to kiss her on the cheek before she leaves and hold her through the night.

She has to see everybody tonight. They’re going to Trixie’s again. She supposes it’s meant to be the ‘Trixie’s Back!’ party retake. The sequel. Violet hates this. She’s going to have to apologize leaving so quickly last time, she's going to have to look at Trixie and this little bubble that she’s created where Katya isn’t gone will be burst. Maybe Ginger will cry again. Violet didn’t think she’d ever see that.

Violet’s legs ache from work last night. She’s still in bed, and it’s just past midday. There’s still exhaustion in her body. She rolls over and checks her phone. Seven messages. She groans.

She flicks through them. There’s one from both Ginger and Kim reminding her to come tonight. She doesn’t respond. There’s one from Max, asking if she can come over. Fame’s sent her a text, she’s asking how she is. Violet doesn’t really know how to explain everything, so she responds with ‘Fine. You?’ and adds kisses. It’s hard to be mad at Fame. There’s an endearing quality to her, even if she annoys the shit out of Violet sometimes. Finally, one from her boss, asking her if she can work tomorrow. Immediately, Violet freezes. That’ll be the night before Katya’s first day in court. It’s so fucking close. She doesn’t explain why she can’t, but declines. It might be the first time Violet’s turned down an extra opportunity to dance. Look at her now.

She doesn’t want to get out of bed. She can’t find the motivation to face the real world, but she has to. She has to.

 


 

 

It’s getting into the afternoon and Trixie’s tired. It’s her first day off since she started working again, and it was a bad move. There’s nothing to distract her. Kim’s working. The others are doing whatever the hell they’re doing. She’s not even out of bed yet.

Noises of the city around her pierce through her flat. Sirens and traffic. The sirens don’t do anything but remind Trixie of Katya. Then again, she’s not sure if she ever does anything but think of her.

It’s weird. She doesn’t thinks she’s spent a moment alone yet. Well, she’s had a moment or two alone. But not one to breathe. One to soak everything in.

She hates it. She hates thinking. Because that’s when she remembers everything, and there is so much to remember.

Two days. It’s two days until it starts. Trixie has no tears left to cry, but she wants to. It should have been her. It’s too late now. At least, she thinks it is. If she turned around and claimed it was here, it’d just drag Katya’s name further through the mud. She can’t do anything but exactly what Katya said to do without ruining everything. She’s trapped by it. She can’t hate but hate Katya for it a little. Why’d Trixie listen? Why?

 


 

 

Kim would be biting her nails, but she just got them to the size she likes without having to wear acrylics.

She’s made herself a checklist of things she has to do, but she keeps on remembering new things she has to do. She mutters it under her breath like a mantra.

Call Trixie in the break. Buy milk. Text everyone to meet up at Trixie’s tonight. Emotionally prepare for the shitstorm that’s going to be this evening. Buy bread. Emotionally prepare for the shitstorm that’s going to be this week.

She thinks she might call Katya’s landlord. She doesn’t know who else is going to sort out Katya’s stuff. There’s a part of her that couldn’t stand to see everything her friend owns thrown away, even if this horrific thing happened. She’ll call, ask what they can sort out. Then, she’ll get Violet or Ginger to do it. She doesn’t hate Katya, but she doesn’t want to take a single step into that apartment. Walking past it was enough.

Fame’s been acting different all morning. Normally, her mouth runs at a millions miles per hour but it hasn’t been today. The energy has been dropping out of Fame since the day Trixie and Katya left. It’s been to hectic to take care of her the way she deserves, she needs.

Kim feels like the world is shaky underneath her feet. Sure, she has her footing right now. She’s okay. However, it’s still vulnerable. Kim can keep herself on her feet. She has to.

 


 

 

Fame’s a bit of a mess at the moment.

It was better before Trixie came home. As much as she loves Trixie, she was less alone then. They were breaking, but they shared their pain. It felt more like they were mourning for two friends, mourning their absence, instead of mourning their own circumstance.

Trixie’s not talked about anything that happened while she was captive. Captive. Fame wonders how broken Katya must have been to do it. How much ache there must have been in her heart. She could weep. She likes to think she can understand why Trixie forgave her.

It used to be so much better than this. She’d surrounded herself in positivity. Her day job gave her amazing friends. Any modelling work she was getting fulfilled her. Fame had never really felt so much closer to bliss. She supposes being so close is what makes it hurt so much more. She hadn’t really realized how happy she was until it was being poisoned. However much she misses where she grew up, she doesn’t want to go back to it. She doesn’t want to live the life her parents lived. She’s grown too much, but she definitely isn’t happy here anymore.

It doesn’t feel like she can be herself like it used to. Katya has always been so unapologetically herself that Fame felt at place. Katya understood how Fame works. They shared so much that, despite teasing, Fame felt loved. She felt loved. Now, they’re all so tense that they don’t need to know Fame’s thoughts. They don’t need to know her inner conflict. They want to sort out their own. They’re all hurting, and none of them know the cure for it. None of them have the time to love each other.

All Fame has is work, fashion and modelling. She cannot live life like that. She feels herself falling back into old habits. She can’t return to her old vices, but they’re tempting her more than ever.

“Fame, are you okay?”

Fame is shocked back to life by Kim’s voice. She almost drops the lipsticks in her hand. She’s been putting them back into order on the shelf whilst the shop floor isn’t busy. However, she also has no idea how long she’s been doing it.Kim looks expectant. Fame supposes she could talk about it all. She could talk about how everything seems both underwhelming and overwhelming. She could talk about how disappointed she is that she still has to work this job to make ends meet. She could talk about how she hates finishing work because going home to an empty flat is horrible.

“I’m okay,” Fame answers. She can tell by the look on Kim’s face that she doesn’t believe it. “Is Trixie looking forward to her welcome home party?”

Kim’s eyebrows raise, but she doesn’t push it. Fame supposes she’s happy with that.  “Think so. She’s not really had a chance to see everybody all together yet out of work, so…” 

Fame’s seen Trixie here, where she’s had customers and foundation to create a barrier. She’s not really seen her much out of their job. It doesn't take a lot to get the hint.  “I’m sorry,” Fame says. She does feel bad about it. She’s just needed space.

“It’s okay. She needs some friends right now though.”

Kim’s tone of voice is forceful. Fame understands the secret ‘get your shit together’ concealed within it. Or at least, she thinks it might be there.

Fame nods in response. “I know. I’ll try and be there more for her.”

They have a small stare off. The lipsticks in Fame’s hands are making her palms clammy. They’re shaking a little, but Fame doesn’t want anybody to be worried.Kim smiles before walking back to the counter. Fame tries to smile back, but it doesn’t happen. Looking back at the lipstick stand, she feels the weight of the object in her hand.

She stares between the stand and the lipstick. Sighing, she puts it in the right place. The display is perfectly organized.

At least something is.

 


 

 

Ginger’s walking up the stairs to Trixie’s flat and she’s already regretting the majority of her choices.

Number one, she had forgotten how many damn stairs it takes to get up there. She’s short, she can’t take double steps. At least when she’d come here last, there’d been a sense of purpose to walking up them. This whole event feels forced, and Ginger thinks they all know it. She hopes Trixie doesn’t.

Number two, she shouldn’t have left early. It’s only five. It’s just that her rehearsals finished at 4. They’re meant to be getting here at seven. Kim’s probably not even finished work. Violet’s probably still fucking asleep. She should have got here at seven, been cordial, smiled if it was called for. But no. She’s here, and she’s not hanging around outside for two hours.

She guesses it’s now or never to try and patch things up with Trixie. After the last time she saw her, she doesn’t really know where they stand. She thinks that they both might be hurting though. Who knows? This might have been a good decision after all.

Ginger knocks the door and after a moment, Trixie answers it.

She wants it to be like it used to be. When Trixie would open the door, call her a bitch and hug her. It’s not. Ginger just hopes it will be.

Trixie looks pale. Her face isn’t as coloured in as it usually is. There’s no neon pink lips or high eyes.

“Hey,” Ginger starts.

Trixie eyebrows raise. It seems delayed. “Oh, hi.”

A smile spreads across Trixie’s face, it seems forced. Ginger repeats the gesture.

“Sorry I’m early girl. Just got out of work. I can go if you-”

Trixie shakes her head. “No! It’s fine. Come in.”

Trixie steps to the side. The lights in the flat are off. Ginger can feel the lack of warmth from here.

She walks in. The door closes behind her.

“How are you?” Ginger asks. On autopilot, she heads to the living room. Trixie follows her.

“Okay. You?”

“Okay,” Ginger responds. “What have you been up to?”

The living room is damn freezing. Ginger walks to the windows to shut them. Trixie stays stood by the door. She turns on a standing lamp and the mains.

“Getting back to things I suppose. How about you? What’s changed for you since-”

Trixie cuts herself off. Seeing Ginger make Trixie’s flat more accommodating herself makes her uncomfortable. There’s a frog or two in her throat. She doesn’t want to be here. She doesn’t really want to be anywhere. But she can’t talk like that without people getting concerned.

“The obvious really. Just been adjusting,” Ginger admits. Trixie’s glad that Ginger didn’t elaborate. She thinks of questions she could ask. How’s work going? Did anything happen with that guy Ginger had gone on a date with? How’s everyone been in Trixie’s absence, seeing as she doesn’t always trust Kim to not sugarcoat it? “It’s weird seeing you without makeup on.”

The mention of it makes Trixie absentmindedly puts a hand on her cheek. There’s nothing there but skin. Maybe that’s why she feels a little disjointed? Then again, who is she kidding?

“I was thinking about it,” Trixie lies. “Just didn’t have the time.”

Ginger grins. “You can do it now if you want? I promise I won’t bite.”

It’s just friendship. Ginger’s never really not joking.  Trixie knows that, but she can’t feeling like she fucked up by not being ready for Ginger early. She should have gotten out of bed more than five minutes ago, washed her dishes, put clean clothes on. The flat could use a spray of perfume, even though it’s clean Trixie can’t help but feel like it’s stale.

“I-”

Trixie doesn’t want to put on foundation. She can’t be bothered to open the new packets of shit she got from work. She misses her old kit. She misses the security that it always gave her. All of this now, it feels so damn fake.

God, can’t she be normal for five damn minutes?

“It’s cool if you don’t want to,” Ginger jumps in. She searches around the room with her eyes. Gritting her teeth a little, she carries on smiling. “It’s just little old me after all. If I haven’t seen you butt naked, I’ve seen you close enough.”

Trixie laughs and Ginger’s spirits lift a little. At least she still has that power.

“Girl, we’ve done some damn shit.”

They chuckle together. The flat feels a little more like home.

 


 

 

It ends up becoming something they ease into. Trixie reckons they were alone for an hour before Kim turned up. It hadn’t always been pleasant, it had been awkward, but they’d gotten past it without discussing the elephant in the room.

Trixie feels like this was a warm up. Energy has slowly started to seep into her bones. She feels like she can talk to everyone. She can be the friend they need to know. The actress in her is present. She can do this. If this is a game of pretending to heal, pretending to have lived a different life, then she can do this.

Kim’s only been in for about five minutes. She had been pretty shocked to see Ginger already there.

“So what are we actually doing tonight?” Ginger asks.

“I don’t know,” Kim answers. “It’s up to Trixie.”

“Probably just, order take-out and watch a movie?” Trixie hasn’t eaten bad food since she was with Katya. Kim and her mom force fed her since. A good pizza has some appeal actually.

“Then we’ll do that,” Kim confirms. They smile at each other.

Ginger feels less tense. She’s allowed herself to relax into the sofa next to Trixie. “When are the others meant to be getting here again?” Ginger asks.

Out of habit, Kim looks at the clock on her phone. “About an hour! I just saw Fame at work, girl’s a bit off, but she’ll be here soon.”

There’s a beat of silence. “Off?” Trixie asks.

“Like, past her sell by date?” Ginger adds. She smiles to herself, and Trixie rolls her eyes.

“No! Just-” Kim cuts herself off. She sighs a little and sits down. “Acted a bit weird for Fame. You know what Fame’s like she’s-”

“Extra,” Ginger cuts in. Trixie can’t help but laugh.

“Yes, but I was going to say ‘talkative’,” Kim responds. “She was just acting weirdly. I just hope it’s just been a long day.”

Ginger nods. There’s a solemn quality to the silence that hangs over them. Trixie grits her teeth before commenting.

“Has-Has anybody talked to her since-since we went away? About how she’s coping?” Trixie had assumed somebody would be making sure Fame’s okay. “Like, in regards to drinking?”

Fame’s been sober the entire time Trixie’s known her, but she’s also known it’s always affected her mood when she’s stressed. She helped Katya a few times when nobody else seemed to get it.

Ginger and Kim exchange a look. Kim’s mouth falls open.

“I wouldn’t have even thought-”

“No. I don’t think anybody did. She’d ask for help first, right?” Kim assures.

Trixie hopes Kim knows Fame better than that. She snorts. “Of course not. We tease her enough about talking as it is.” Trixie grits her teeth, again. “Lets see how she acts. I’ll talk to her if we have to.”

Kim starts, “Trixie, I can do that. You don’t have to-”

The eye roll practically flies out of her. “Maybe I want to try and help my friend, Kim?”

She sees Kim swallow, but Kim says nothing more.

 


 

 

The door knocks twice in a row. They are slow and loud.

“Pearl?” Kim suggests.

Trixie nods, Pearl has always been the kind of person to introduce herself with a solid presence. She isn’t going to be gentle about arriving.

“I’ll get it,” Ginger announces. She heads to the door, leaving the room. Walking to the door, Ginger tries to shake off the awkwardness of the entire situation. Hopefully having another person there will lift the mood again. Trust Kim to be the one to inadvertently make it weird. Hopefully she’s got that out her system now.

Ginger opens the door. Pearl doesn’t smile at her. She opens with, “sup?”

Ginger laughs. “Sup to you too, Bitch.”

They hug. It doesn’t last too long. Pearl pulls away first. “It feels like I haven’t seen you in ages,” she comments.

It’s barely been a week, Ginger wants to comment. She can’t bring herself to do it. They used to see each other every few days. Sure it wouldn’t be all of them at once, but they were never isolated like this.

“It does,” Ginger settles on. She pulls Ginger into the apartment and shuts the door. “Trixie and Kim are here-”

“Who would have guessed?”

Ginger laughs. “Quit it with the sass.”

Pearl flicks Ginger on the shoulder. “It’s the only thing I’ve got.”

There’s a moment where Ginger can’t quite decide if Pearl is kidding or not. A smile is plastered on the girl’s face, but her eyes carry sadness.

“You’ve got me,” Ginger settles on.

The two of them look at eachother for a long moment. Ginger wonders if that’s alcohol she can smell on Pearl’s breath, or if she’s imagining things.

After smiling, Pearl rolls her eyes. “Fuck off.”

She walks past Ginger and through into the apartment whilst Ginger cackles.

 


 

 

Pearl supposes this is nice. Trixie is laughing, which is nice to see. Ginger’s sitting next to her and seems calm, which is nice to see. Kim’s quiet, there always is, but there’s a smirk on her lips.

It’s alright. It’s calm.

Pearl feels a little bit like she’s having a heart attack. She’s just hoping it doesn’t show. This ‘event’ has been so damn built up in her head. Kim saying they all have to come. The implication that they all owe Trixie better treatment than she’s been getting. It’s true, Pearl supposes. It’s not exactly like she’s been going out of her way to help her.

A little part of Pearl reckons Violet won’t even show. She was always closer to Katya. Everybody knew that.

Another even smaller part of Pearl hopes she comes, just so she can see her face.

“God, where are Fame and Violet?” Kim asks.

Ginger and Trixie exchange a look. Pearl looks down at her hands in her lap. Her heart is in her throat.

 


 

 

Fame arrived late, but not too late. She was smiling, but it felt more than a little forced. When she arrived, she kissed Trixie on the cheek.

“I am really happy that you’re okay,” Fame said.

 


 

 

They ordered food a few minutes ago and put on a movie. Kim’s mad, but is clearly trying to hide it.

“Violet isn’t responding to any of my texts,” Kim repeats.

“Maybe she’s working?” Ginger suggests. Pearl tries to ignore it, but she can’t. This movie isn’t quite as mesmerizing as she’d like it to be, maybe then she could forget her problems.

Why did Pearl do it? Why did she think it was a good idea? She’d just been in such a rush. They’d just found out Trixie was coming home and it was the only good news she’d had in weeks. Her drunk mind said she had to. ‘Life is too short to never say anything’. Yeah well, life is also too short to waste making things unnecessarily awkward.

 


 

 

Fame arrives. Trixie answers the door for her, and they’re immediately hugging.

“I’m so sorry for being late! I got held up!”

Trixie pries them apart, but she’s smiling. “With what?”

She tries to not feel dread when Fame’s face drops. “Oh. Nothing really. Just traffic.”

Trixie forces herself to keep grinning. Fame is just over an hour late. Even with city traffic, it shouldn’t have taken her that long.

“Well, glad you’re here. Food’s by the TV.”

They head to the others. Trixie tries to not let her head run wild, but she just can’t but notice that Fame’s subdued. It’s only been minutes; it’s that obvious.

“Hey girl,” Kim says. There’s a slice of hot pizza in her hands.

“Hi,” Ginger adds. She waves at Fame. Pearl simply nods.

There’s a pang in Trixie’s heart. The room is missing someone, someone other than Violet.

Fame sits down. She engages in conversation with Ginger and Kim. Pearl watches silently. Pearl fidgets with her fingernails.

It’s so close to normal. If Trixie closed her eyes, she could picture it. She could see Violet sat next to Pearl, the two of them sharing a beer. She could picture Katya sat next to Ginger cackling at something she said.

“Trixie, you alright?”

She looks over at Kim. Kim’s face is contorted into concern. A sick feeling creeps up Trixie’s throat.

“Yeah,” Trixie responds. It’s getting hard to breathe. “I’m going to get a glass of water.”

Trixie leaves the room. Kim and Ginger exchange a look.

 


 

 

Ginger sighs a little bit. Fame’s chatting at a million miles per hour, which is nice to see, Pearl is being moody, Violet’s not here and Trixie’s having a meltdown. This is pretty much how she envisioned this going down, so she can’t complain.

Kim stands up to follow Trixie, Ginger grabs her wrist. “Leave her. She’ll come back when she wants to.”

Kim looks at the door that Trixie just left through and sighs. Shrugging away Ginger’s hand, she sits back down. “I want to.”

“You have to,” Ginger retorts. “The girl deserves some damn space.”

Fame bites her lip. “Is it my fault she-”

Ginger puts her hand on Fame’s knee. “No. It’s not.”

Somehow, the TV fades into the distance. Pearl stays quiet, but she watches. “I’d really like to know who’s it is,” Kim jokes.

Nobody laughs. It’s a horrific reminder of everything that’s happened. Pearl gets goosebumps.

“He’s dead,” Ginger whispers. "If you wanna blame anybody, blame him."

Fame hates herself for doing it, but she nods. “He is.”

Kim swallows. Pearl tucks herself into a ball. Ginger lifts her hand away from Fame’s knee. Everything seems cold all of a sudden.

“How can we help Trixie?” Fame asks.

“By maybe calling her once in awhile,” Kim answers. Her words have a venomous quality. “Offer her a hand?"

“I won’t baby her,” Ginger responds. “She never asked for that. If she needs help, I’ll give it to her. You’re right Kimberly, we should have made more of an effort when she got here instead of having our heads up our own butts. But, I won’t say we should have all been doing what you’re doing. You’re not her Mom.”

Kim’s blood runs cold looking at Ginger. “I’m not babying anybody. She’s my friend. She needs me.”

It’s silent. Fame looks at nothing but the ground.

“She needs some damn time to grieve,” Ginger whispers harshly. 

“Katya’s not dead,” Fame interjects.

“She might aswell be,” Kim responds.

It’s a harsh comment. The blow is felt in the room. 

Ginger flinches. “You don’t mean that.”

Kim and Ginger stare at eachother.

A deep sigh escapes from Kim. “I don’t. You’re right. I apologize.”

Ginger nods. She holds her own wrist in her hand. “She needs time to grieve everything that happened to her. I don’t mean Katya’s-Katya’s dead. I mean, Katya’s not here,” Ginger’s voice cracks. She bites her lip. “We all miss her. You can’t tell me you don’t.” Everyone in the room nods. “We all missed Trixie too. It’s just that, well, Trixie went through some shit. We know that. You know that Kim.”

“Of course I-”

“Then why are you trying to get her to act like who she was before?”  Ginger sees the shock register in Kim’s face. She looks over at the other two girls. Pearl has an eyebrow raised. There’s a sad smile on Fame’s face. "She'll never be the same person. It's shit, but it's true."

Trixie can hear them from her bedroom, and the words pierce her heart. She covers her face with her hands and listens.

“I don’t know,” Kim admits. She swallows. “I didn’t realize-”

“It’s okay, Kim,” Fame says. “You really don’t need to feel guilty. You’ve done a really good job. I think Ginger’s right. Right now, Trixie needs people to support her. I get that. Sometimes, we all need support. She just needs to breathe and that’s okay too. We all- I do- I-” Fame cuts herself off. She shakes her head.

Ginger puts a hand on Fame’s shoulder. There's a frown on her face “What is it?”

Trixie stiffens up. She strains to hear what Fame says.

Fame turns to Ginger. “I was late today because I didn’t want to walk past the spirit store down the street.” A little shock wave goes through Pearl. The other two just grimace and nod. Ginger’s hand moves to Fame’s back and starts to rub circles. “It’s just-It’s just been really hard and I hate that it’s so hard because I know Trixie has it worse and I know Katya definitely has it worse. It’s just, I feel so dumb for needing help. I’m stressed. We’re all stressed. This isn’t easy for anybody and I hate myself for doing it but drinking has been tempting-”

“Have you drank anything?” Ginger asks.

Fame immediately shakes her head. “I don’t want to-”

“Then you’re doing fine. You’re okay,” Ginger comforts. She pulls Fame in for a hug. “If you want to drink, call one of us. K-Katya used to do it with me.”

“She did it with Violet too,” Pearl interjects. 

“And me,” Trixie adds. Kim jumps when Trixie emerges through the door. “It’s okay if you need to lean on somebody for a bit, Fame.” She smiles at Kim and then at Fame. Trixie closes her eyes, and for a second she pictures Katya smiling at her. “But we have each other, and we’ll be okay. We will.””

It all feels a bit fake to Trixie. It feels a bit like they’re all about to sit around a campfire and sing a song. However, Fame looks comforted and that was the aim. That was what would make Katya proud of her.

“Thank you,” Fame responds. Her smile seems easier.

“We love you, don’t doubt that,” Pearl adds.

“We do, even if you are annoying,” Ginger jokes. Fame laughs.

“You’re so annoying,” Kim contributes.

“But remember, we’re joking,” Pearl concludes. “You’re like, the best? You’re so strong. Bitch, I wish I had your strength.”

Strength. Trixie’s mind flies back to words that Katya said to her in moments that nobody else can know about. It hurts. Damn, it all hurts so fucking much. She shakes the thoughts out of her head.

“Is there any way we can make it easier for you?” Trixie asks.

“God, I don’t know?” Fame laughs. “Could I-No, there’s nothing.”

Kim prompts, “go on.”

Trixie finally sits down. She sits down on the floor next to Pearl.

“I-I hate living alone,” Fame admits. “It’s quiet. The rent’s too expensive. I’ve not been taking as many modelling jobs recently because I just, I just haven’t been feeling it.”

Kim nods. She furrows her brow. “Would you like to stay with me?”

“Or me?” Ginger asks. “Though, I do have to get up at ridiculous times because rehearsals are ridiculous. And you’d have to sleep on my sofa, because I have a delicate body. I’m also a snorer.”

“Oh god, get away from me!” Fame shrieks. There’s laughter from her after and Trixie smiles. This must have been weighing her down.

“Or me,” Trixie adds.

Kim’s eyes widen at Trixie. Fame’s mouth drops. “Would that be the best idea?”

Trixie nods. “I’m sick of living alone too.” She’s not lying. The idea of a roommate, just somebody to drag her ass out of bed, would be nice. Fame isn’t too messy. “I might be a little-” Trixie searches for the right word. She can’t find it. “weird, at the moment. We’d have to look for a new place, maybe somewhere closer to work? I think it could be really helpful for both of us to have that support mechanism.”

Kim nods. She feels a little betrayed that Trixie didn’t say something earlier, but for everybody’s sake she brushes it off.

Trixie doesn’t mention how this room carries too many memories. How, sometimes she’ll walk in and picture Katya passed out on the sofa or eating takeout and watching TV. She doesn’t mention how the memories make her heart ache so badly she thinks she could be dying.

“Okay,” Fame confirms. She smiles. “We can sort that out later though.” The room has calmed. Trixie supposes that was probably cathartic. Still smiling, Fame looks around the room. She frowns. “This might make me sound like a bad friend but, um, where’s Violet?”

Chapter Text

Violet didn’t plan this. One thing happened, which lead to another, which lead to her having her hands in another person’s underwear.Then again, isn’t that a metaphor for her life right now? 

Max shudders, groans into Violet’s mouth and climaxes. Violet’s only just managed to regain her proper thought patterns from her own orgasm. They pull away from each other. Violet counts the time between Max’s breaths whilst she recovers it.

“You are quite a fantastic woman, do you know that?” Max asks.

Violet closes her eyes. In the soft light, she doesn't even think before correcting her. “I’m not a woman. I’m genderqueer, fluid, whatever.”

There’s a moment of quiet before Max replies. “I apologize. You are quite a fantastic person.”

There’s an emphasis on the last word and Violet smiles. “Yes, I do know that.”

Max chuckles. It lifts Violet up for a moment. Her bed is warm. Violet can’t say she didn’t need this, even if she had it yesterday. “Why didn’t you say earlier? I must have used pronouns for you earlier-”

“I don’t have preferred pronouns. She is fine. I’m just, not always a woman. Gender's too complex for that,” Violet answers. She reaches out her hand and interlinks it with Max’s. Max squeezes her palm. There’s a layer of stickiness there that Violet has just decided to be comfortable with.

“Okay,” Max comments. “Are you out to everybody?”

Violet shrugs. “It’s not a big deal. I haven’t told my family or most of my friends. I told-” Her name causes her to choke for a moment. “I told Katya a few months ago. She was good with it. I just asked her to treat me the same and she did.”

This silence lasts longer. It’s heavier. Violet keeps her eyes closed, and Max looks at her face.

“She seems like the kind of person who would be. From the few times I met her, anyway.”

A breath escapes Violet’s chest and she relaxes. “She’s pretty great.”

“You miss her, don’t you?”  Violet opens her eyes. Max is looking at her with a small smile on her face. The breath leaves Violet’s lungs for a moment, and she feels despair again. What an understatement. 

“Yeah,” Violet confesses. “I do. I don’t think I’d realized just how much I like her until she was gone.”

Max raises an eyebrow. “Do you love her?”

Her head shakes immediately. “I’m not in love with her. I do love her, but no.” Violet sighs. “It’s hopeless-”

“Never hopeless, Darling. It’s just less than optimal,” Max says. She lifts their hands up from their sides to their faces and kisses Violet's. Their palms end up resting intertwined on Max's stomach. 

Violet laughs. “It’s so ‘less than optimal’ that it makes me feel shit.”

Slowly nodding, Max squeezes her hand again. “I know.”

Violet doesn’t respond. She just sighs, again. It’s so complicated. “I’m glad I have you. You get it.The others, they’d all worry too much about upsetting-” Violet stops herself. “Fuck! I’m late for Trixie’s party.” There’s no rush to move. Violet’s nerves are kicking in. She has to go. “Shit. Fuck. My make-up’s fucked, isn’t it?”

Max nods. “It wouldn’t surprise me if it was all over my face.”

There’s a pang of guilt somewhere deep in Violet’s chest. She’s just done this, and now she’s about to go see Pearl. God, is Pearl going to confront her about that? This isn’t something she can deal with right now. She looks across at Max’s partially naked body and wonders what she’s got herself into.

 


 

 

Max leaves the room. Violet wonders if maybe she’s psychic. They’ve known eachother for a percentage of the amount of time she’s known her friends, and she can still sense when Violet needs time alone better than they can.

Whilst Violet scrounges around her room for something to wear, a thought crosses her head.

It took Violet years to feel comfortable enough to confess that she’s genderqueer to Katya,  she's still not told the rest of that friendship group. She held that close to her heart. It only took Violet a month to feel comfortable enough with Max.

 


 

 

Violet checks her phone whilst another message from Kim comes through.

Donut (19:48): Where the fuck are you?

Violet grits her teeth at it. She’s only just fixed her makeup and put her bra back on. The stress that she only just managed to shrug off is coming back quickly. She quickly thinks up a lie.

Fashion Icon (19:49): Shit. I fell asleep, long night last night. On my way in 20. Sorry <3

It’s a weak excuse. All of them know she wouldn’t sleep in for that long, even if she had been working. She’ll just have to think up a more valid story on her journey. She only messaged Max today, so that shouldn’t be a problem.

Violet pulls on jeans and a mesh shirt. She checks her hair in the mirror.

“You look like you just got fucked,” Max comments.

Violet looks in the mirror again. She spots the wild quality to her hair and her flushed cheeks.

“Well, at least I don’t have a hickey,” Violet retorts.

Slowly, Max walks to Violet. She puts a hand on Violet’s hip and rests her head on Violet’s shoulder. Max’s long hair falls down Violet’s side. It’s tickles against her bare skin. There’s no space between them, it’s like they are breathing the same air.

“Would you like one?” Max teases. There’s a smirk on her face and Violet melts just a little.

Violet knows she can’t. She has work. If she turned up with a hickey, the others would rip her to shreds.

“Tempting,” Violet murmurs. They turn to face each other. Violet tilts her head back and Max tilts her forwards. Violet can feel Max’s breath on her face. It’s fucking hot. It’s Max that goes the step further. They’re kissing again. Violet feels like this is a hole, and she’s falling deeper and deeper. Violet pulls away. “Will you stop distracting me?”

Max grins. She trails her fingers down Violet’s arm. “Do you want me to stay here and wait for you?”

There’s a mischievous glint to Max’s eye. It makes Violet’s mouth water.

 


 

 

Violet can definitely feel the relaxation in her muscles as she hails a cab. It feels weird to be outside after some casual sex. Usually, her encounters are more staged and require time afterwards to recover. It’s nice. It’s actually really nice.

Getting into the back of the cab, Violet feels wet hair drip onto her back. She tells the driver Trixie’s address. They head off.

Violet opens her phone to text Kim again.

Fashion Icon (20:10): I’m in the cab x

Checking her phone, she notices a lack of activity from the others. She supposes it’s times like this that she’s glad Katya refused to get any social media. At least she doesn’t have to look at Katya’s face anymore than in the news. She would have never expected this to hurt as much. Then again, she never expected Katya to be gone so suddenly. It’s like one day her life fell apart. There’s a hook in her heart and it’s pulling her in two. At least it’s not getting worse, she supposes. Then again, it’s not exactly getting better.

She’s not looking forward to this. It’s only as Trixie’s apartment gets closer that she realizes just how much she isn’t excited.

Donut (20:14): Hurry up! I feel like I haven’t seen you in ages. We miss you :-( x

Violet guesses the message is well timed. She smiles. Despite the pit of worry deep in her stomach, Violet smiles.

 


 

 

Violet had only been in her own flat for an hour. Everything seemed better than it had done a few hours previously. It was the day they'd called Trixie at her mother's and they were all happier. Trixie was okay. They hadn’t lost her too. It was just enough to restore a little bit of faith in the world. Just a little.

There was a knock at the door. It must have been about two in the morning, but Violet’s sleep cycle was fucked from work. She thought she might have imagined it, so she ignored it. Slumped on her bed, she carried on checking through her phone. The night was quiet, and Violet felt drained. Another knock. Violet frowned, dropping her phone on her bed. Her heart beat hard in her chest as another knock occurred. Gritting her teeth, she walked silently to the door and looked through the peephole, glad for once that the flat’s communal hallway was permanently lit.

Pearl stood there, hand on the wall. Violet could make out just enough detail to see Pearl biting her lip.

Violet opened the door. Immediately the rain was louder, the nearby window wide open. Pearl’s hair was wet, she was soaked through. Violet could see her deeply breathing and shivering. A breath escaped Pearl when she finally saw Violet’s face.

“What the fuck Pearl-”

“I needed to see you!” Pearl shouted. She jumped a little at the end, almost like she wasn’t aware of how loud she was. Her own hand jumped to her mouth to silence herself.

Violet laughed, it was nervous. “Couldn’t it have waited until morning?” Pearl adamantly shook her head. Violet could see her dripping onto the carpet. There was a red flush to Pearl’s cheeks and she was swaying on her feet. Violet sighed, finally comprehending. “How much have you had to drink?”

Pearl shrugged.  Her eyes found a spot on the ground. “A bit.”

It wasn’t the first time Pearl’s turned up on someone’s doorstep drunk. Violet had never been the victim of it before. It was usually Kim or Trixie who got that treatment.

Violet rolled her eyes. She opened the door to let Pearl in. “Come on-”

Pearl reached out and grabbed Violet’s wrist. Violet flung it away on impulse. Pearl’s mouth fell open.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare-”

There was a moment of comprehension before Violet got back her nerves. Shaking her head, Violet smiled. “It’s fine.” They stood in silence for a moment. Violet waited slightly to the side so Pearl could walk in. Violet smelt the alcohol, and saw the messy mascara under Pearl’s eyes. Violet doesn’t have a lot of protective urges, but she felt herself soften. “Come on. Pearl, it’s fine. You’re going to die of a fucking cold or something. Come inside.”

Pearl looked at her blankly. “I needed to see you,” she repeated. It was a whisper.

Violet’s heart started beating harder than it was. Her palms became sweaty. She’d never seen Pearl be that quiet. The vulnerability reached deep within her and twisted something.

“You can see me in the morning,”  Violet responded. She could hear her own tone becoming harsher again. Trust Pearl to never listen to what anybody else said, even inebriated.

Pearl looked at Violet with all the determination in the world. Violet felt her legs turn to jelly, and the dread set in. This wouldn’t end well.

“I needed to see you now. Or I’ll never do it. Violet, I-”

“Pearl-”

“I love you. I’m in love with you,” Pearl slurred. Violet’s eyes flew wide. A sick feeling crawled up her throat. “I think I always had a crush on you. I never thought I could say anything. It was last year, you said something, I don’t-don’t really remember what, something about the weather and I fell in love with you. Please, I needed to tell you. I need you to listen. I need you to know I love you”

Pearl looked at Violet with wide eyes. There was the vulnerability again. Violet could cry, and she isn’t sure why.

“Pearl,” Violet started.

She didn’t know what to say. She’d spent years imaging this very thing. There’d been times late at night after a long night’s dancing, that Violet dreamed of nothing less than this. It would have been so easy to just say it back and fall into her arms. But Pearl was drunk. Pearl was so drunk and Violet knew why. She knew that she was trying to distance herself from her feelings, because missing Katya and Trixie had hurt so damn much. This had all hurt so damn much.  Violet wanted to pull her in and dry her hair, kiss her until she’s warm and safe. She didn’t want to leave her out in the rain. She didn’t want any of this. But, she couldn’t do it like that. She couldn’t finally have it all, just because Pearl needed a distraction. She wouldn’t let Pearl in, finally let Pearl in, for her to just run again in the morning. There wasn’t a way she was going to let herself get hurt just so Pearl felt better.

Damn it if Violet didn’t love herself more than that.

She looked back at Pearl, at the hope in her eyes. She finally had words. “You don’t love me. Go home, Pearl,” Violet whispered.

She wished she’d looked away quick enough to not see the misery on Pearl’s face, but she didn’t. Violet slammed the door shut. Slowly, she slid down the back of it and onto the floor. Moments later, she heard Pearl walk away. Each step felt like a nail into her skin.

Violet didn’t cry, she wouldn’t cry, but she came close.

 


 

 

She thinks about saying she’s sick, but she knows she doesn’t have the heart. It’s not Trixie’s fault that this is awkward after all. Violet’s not going to miss out on getting her friend back just because Pearl is selfish.

The cab pulls up at Trixie’s building.

 


 

 

Violet could feel her high heels click against the pavement as she ran. There was wind in her face and all she could hear was Pearl’s laughter.

Pearl grabbed Violet’s hands, the warmth welcome in the cold of the winder, and pulled them both to stop. Violet couldn’t stop laughing, she hadn’t felt this free in forever.

“I think we lost them!” Pearl shouted. Control of her volume was always the first thing to be lost when she’d had a drink, or seven.

Their fingers ended up becoming interlinked. Directly looking at each other, they kept cackling into the night.

“I can’t fucking believe you did that. You’re wild!” Violet responded.

Pearl smiled. “Hey, he was a creep! Some people deserve drinks on their faces-”

“He was the bouncer!”

“And?” Pearl retorted The two of them kept laughing. They remained holding hands, and Violet couldn’t contain her smile. When Pearl suggested a night out partying with just the two of them, Katya having recently sobered up and the others working tomorrow, Violet had been cautious to accept.

She couldn’t remember having this much fun. She couldn’t remember Pearl ever being this funny before. She couldn’t remember why she was nervous.

“Do you wanna try and get kicked out of another club?” Pearl suggested. There was a glint in her eye that suggested mischief. It did nothing but excite Violet.

She’d never been the kind of person to seek trouble. Though, she wouldn’t refuse it if the opportunity came. Pearl was a thrill seeker, an open flame of a person.

They ended up walking down the street, hand in hand, and laughing. The night was freezing. New York was never very welcoming; Violet had never been more glad she’d decided to move.

 


 

 

It felt ominous. Violet could practically hear the swooping of strings in the dramatic soundtrack this could receive. Each step is like walking into a volcano, into a madman's layer.

Violet feels underdressed. She’s just wearing a black shirt and jeans. She didn’t have the time to do much more. She knows her face is still in tact. Max told her she looked pretty and it made Violet happier than it should have. A frown grows on Violet’s face as she walks up the stairs. Would Max care if she knew all of the details of where Violet’s going and who exactly she's seeing? Violet doubts it, she wouldn't peg Max the jealous type. 

“Keep it casual,” Violet whispers to herself as she walks into Trixie’s building. She supposes that talking to herself probably isn’t the best way to seem calm if she runs into anybody, but she can’t find it within herself to care. There’s so many aspects of her life that she’s freaking about. Really, she needs to talk to somebody about it. But who does she have? Violet ends up freezing halfway through a stair. How is it that she’s been in New York for almost a decade doing her dream job, and made friends, and Violet is still alone?

God, she fucking misses Katya.

Shaking it off, she forces herself to walk up the stairs again. She’s almost there. The quicker she gets there, the quicker she can leave and go home to a warm bed and a gentle lover. That thought immediately brings her relief.

She’s at the door.

Sighing, she recounts everything she has to do. She has to smile, be kind to Trixie and not start any fights. The last time she saw Pearl wasn’t exactly the most civil. If she repeats that again, everybody else will cotton onto something being up. Violet doesn’t want that pressure. It’s not fair on either of them.

She knocks, and waits.

 


 

 

Violet couldn’t remember the actual reason that Trixie was having people at hers. All she’d been told to do was turn up by Katya. Katya had been sober for nearly two years at this point and Violet was horrifically proud of her. She would never admit it though.

She’d only ever been to Trixie’s once before. That was for her birthday. Violet had a good time. She got to spend the whole night laughing at Katya’s antics and met some people that she would quite like to meet again. She also got to chat to Miss Fame, which was nice she supposed.

There was less people at this party. She heard the sound of Trixie’s and Ginger’s laughter from the kitchen. She smiled as she walked into the living room. She’d expected there to be other people in there, but was proven drastically wrong.

It was just that blonde girl from last time, the one with the old fashioned name. She was standing by the window, smoking out of the gap. She jumped when Violet walked in the room. The two of them a shared wide eyed stare.

“It’ll kill you, you know? Violet said. There was a comprehension on Pearl’s face; Violet wasn’t sure if she’d only just remembered that they’d met before.

“You’ve told me,” Pearl answered. Blowing out smoke into the outside, she carried on speaking. “Don’t tell Trix. She’d kill me before cigarettes get the chance.”

Violet scoffed. “I doubt she’d give a shit.”

A snort came from Pearl. “Have you ever met her?”

Violet shrugged. She walked to the window and stood opposite from Pearl. Looking out, she could see tall buildings, dark skies and bright lights. “She’s a friend of a friend.”

They existed in silence for a moment. Violet carried on watching the street not too far below them. Pearl analyzed her. Absorbed by the way Violet’s hair curled and fell down her shoulder and onto her skin. She couldn’t stop looking. When Violet finally looked back to Pearl, their eyes met for a moment longer than usual.

Pearl smiled at her. Violet didn’t even think before smiling back.

“She’s nice,” Pearl said.

Violet frowned. “Who?”

“Trixie.”

After a second, Violet responded with, “oh. Yeah. She is.”

Trixie and Kim walked in. The moment was gone.

 


 

 

Trixie opens the door.

Violet opens with, “better late than never?”

To Violet’s relief, Trixie laughs. “You idiot!”

Trixie pulls Violet in for a hug. Violet feels herself smile and she secures the hug even tighter. She hasn’t seen Trixie since she brought her back from the airport. Really, she’s still not entirely sure why she volunteered for that. She’s not really sure why Kim let her do it. They pull away from each other. Violet clears her throat. “How you been?”

Trixie raises an eyebrow. It’s a stupid question, and they both know it.

“About as expected,” Trixie answers. They start to make their way through the apartment. Violet shuts the door after herself. A sick feeling is creeping up her throat again. “You?”

The question actually stunts Violet. She has to think about it for a moment. “Better than I have been.”

Trixie nods with a sincerity that Violet isn’t that familiar with. When Violet looks at her, when she properly looks at her, she can see differences. There’s a set quality to her jaw, she looks a little thinner. Violet realizes that Trixie’s not wearing makeup, and it shocks her more than she’d like to admit. She can’t recall a time that Trixie’s not been wearing an inch of cosmetic something.

“The food’s gone,” Trixie informs her. They’re only a few steps away from the living room. Violet can hear voices. The feeling of doom sinks into her bones; she’d been so distracted by Trixie that she’d forgotten to be terrified.

“I’m okay,” Violet answers. She’s too worried to be hungry.

Trixie steps into the room first and Violet follows. For a moment, Violet pictures that second party. Pearl smoking by the window, looking so much younger than she does now. The shy glances that Violet used to think stopped, but now thinks maybe just got more subtle. It’s not even the first time since that she’s seen Pearl, but this one feels heavier on her heart. Pearl won’t even look at her.

“Look what the cat dragged in,” Kim jokes.

Violet rolls her eyes. “Two seconds and Kim’s already talking about pussy.”

Ginger laughs. There’s a heavy pause. Violet tries to not look at Pearl. She repeats the thought in her head, she cannot just bow to her. If Pearl wants forgiveness, if Pearl wants anything, she’s has to earn it. It doesn’t feel right to not look though. She wants to look. She’s so used to that being the first place her eyes travel when she’d walk into this room, Pearl’s spot on the floor by the couch.

Violet’s walked in on something. God, she shouldn’t have come.

Trixie saves it, and Violet wonders how she’s more damn capable than her. “It’s not unusual, lets be real-”

“That's defamation of character!” Ginger shouts in. She turns to look at Kim. “You don’t always talk about pussy. You talk about food too.”

Violet hears Pearl laugh, and it swims in her head for a moment. Kim says, “you’re all fuckers.”

The group laugh together. “True,” is weighed in by Pearl.

“I think we’re kinda beautiful,” Ginger says.

Violet and Trixie are still standing. Looking around the room, Violet shudders. She can't help but spot the empty spot, feel the empty presence. It’s obvious and Kim frowns at her.

“Are you okay?”

Violet swallows and nods. “I’m fine.” She tries to push the thought out of her head. She sits down on the sofa next to Ginger and Fame. Putting on a poker face, she looks at Trixie who remained standing. Fame puts an arm around her shoulders. Seeing Fame smiling is actually kinda nice.

“Me and Trixie are going to move in together,” Fame announces.

Trixie snorts. “We’re not getting fucking married Fame.”

Nobody is looking at Trixie to see her face drop at the end of her sentence, to see her hands clench. They’re all preoccupied with Fame starting to tickle Violet. There’s no complaints from Trixie, that would have been a hard one to explain.

Violet pushes Fame away. She feels herself lighten up a little allowing herself to get absorbed in the dynamic of the group.

“You bitch!” Violet giggles.

Fame laughs, pulling her in for a hug. “I fucking missed you.”

It’s nice. Violet’s not really thinking straight at the moment, she can’t say the same back honestly, but she does love Fame. She smiles at her friend, and Fame smiles back.

“Any news Violet?” Kim asks.

Considering it for a moment, Violet hums to herself. Max fills her head before she quickly shuts that down. “There’s a new girl at work. She’s good. She’s more interested in the fashion side of things, so we get along.”

“What’s she called?” Trixie asks. She sits down on the floor by Ginger’s legs. The TV is blaring but none of them watch.

“Naomi Smalls,” Violet answers. “She’s not just there to make ends meet. She loves it, which is refreshing. There’s so many girls there that don’t respect it, even if they’re damn good at it. It’s sad, really.”

Violet used to feel judged whenever she mentioned what she loves to do. She’s glad she’s reached this point. One where she knows she’s damn good at what she does, she enjoys it and makes money. If there’s one thing working in burlesque has taught her, it’s how not give a fuck and look good doing it. Naomi has much the same attitude.

“You know, I’ve never actually seen a burlesque show,” Kim says.

Violet’s mouth falls open. “Come see mine! I mean, I-” Violet cuts herself and grimaces. “I’m not working this weekend. But, um, some point after that?”

Violet sees Trixie stiffen up and feels a hint of remorse. She continues to be completely tactless.

Kim nods. “That’d be cool.”

Trixie almost considers speaking up and saying she’s never seen one either, but she doesn’t. Katya hated that job. It’s the perfect one for Violet. For Katya, it was an enabler. It’d feel like a betrayal. The room falls into silence. Looking around, Violet shivers again. She doesn’t look in Pearl’s direction. With the amount Pearl’s talked, they could have replaced her with a cassette tape and Violet wouldn’t know.

If nobody else is going to say something, Fame guesses she has to. “Ginger’s got another acting job.”

Ginger gasps, slamming a hand down on Violet’s thigh. Violet nearly jumps out of her seat. “I do! I’m so excited for it. It’s going to be a good play, and I mean that. It’s not god awful.”

“Do you have to dance?” Pearl asks.

Violet can’t help but laugh at Ginger’s reaction. She points aggressively at Pearl. “Shut your mouth you shady bitch.”

There’s a laugh. Violet risks a quick look at Pearl. She doesn’t know why she does it, it just makes her feel guiltier. Pearl’s long hair is pulled back into a ponytail, she doesn’t wear one often and Violet’s always liked the way it looks on her. It always made her face look less hidden. Pearl’s eyes dart over to Violet and Violet looks away.

“I’m not shady,” Pearl answers. She leans back, putting her legs out straight in front of her. The movement catches Violet’s eye and she looks at her again. It hurts.

“No. You’re usually pretty upfront,” Ginger comments. The words dig into Violet for a moment. Ginger’s wrong, Pearl is nothing but a keeper of secrets. “Kim’s the shady one-” Pearl holds things close to her heart so nobody can take them from her. The only things she lets go of are the things she doesn’t care about.

“I am not-”

Is that why she told Violet that she loved her? Because she simply didn’t care about maybe losing her?

Looking back at Pearl, who is watching the others, Violet grits her teeth. That’s why she’s not even called, isn’t it? Not even tried. Why is Violet here? All she’s done is turn up, hurt her heart and crack a few jokes. Pearl clearly doesn’t care anymore. God, does Pearl even understand why Violet’s mad? Does she thinks that she can burn through everything in her life? That she can drink until she’s less scared and then Violet’s easy enough to just fall into bed with?

Violet takes it back. She doesn’t feel bad for fucking rejecting her, she never will.

 


 

 

Pearl didn’t anticipate just how breathless having Violet in the room would make her. She was worried that her heart was going to beat out of her chest, now she’s worried if it was even beating at all without her.  She’s seen her since the confession, but she had been drunk again. Then again, Pearl’s been numbing her senses a lot recently. It didn’t feel right tonight. Plus, Kim would have fucking killed her if she’d gotten wasted.

She doesn’t know what to do with herself. A part of her ran out of the door, down the stairs and all the way to France when Violet walked in. Another part wants to sob and she’s not entirely sure why.  There’s a part that wants to go and hold Violet’s hands and just explain everything. She wants to say that she was scared, and she made a bad call. She wants to apologize. She wants to list every single reason that she loves Violet until she finally believes her. Finally. She wants to know if the feelings that all of their friends have joked about for years are mutual. She just wants to kiss her. She wants to feel better than she has and just kiss Violet because it’s only been recently that Pearl has realized just how fragile everything is. This is all so damn fragile and that’s so freeing.

The largest part of her is too terrified to to do anything but stay still. Pearl is fragile, and she has built her walls. She knows she’s stubborn, and she can say dumb shit, and that she never listens. She knows that she can be too passionate and come on too strong. She knows that people think she’s boring. When she’s with Violet, she feels a little bit more like the person she pretends to be. It’s easier to navigate her head and make funny jokes. Violet is headstrong, but in a different way to Pearl. Violet is completely interesting and endearing. Nobody has ever made Pearl feel this strongly. Nobody has ever made Pearl feel for this long. She gives one thing to herself when inebriated, she doesn’t automatically exaggerate things. Pearl loves her, and that’s still a fact.

When she catches Violet’s eye, she doesn’t smile. There’s so many words in her head and she can’t find the bravery to say them. Looking away, Pearl curses the day that she ever even thought she was good enough for Violet Chachki.

 


 

 

Trixie supposes that this is nice. There is a definitely an improvement in the mood on the last time she saw everybody. The people who were being reserved last time are talking more. It’s a comfort thing, she supposes. They’re all becoming more comfortable around eachother again.

Nobody’s drinking. Trixie’s glad of it. She doesn’t think she could stand smelling the stuff again without picturing him smashing a bottle onto the counter and pointing it at her, Katya’s body a ragdoll in the corner.

She’s been thinking about it more since she got back, which she supposes is understandable. There’s just more reminders. Some days she wakes up and doesn’t know how she’s managed to go on with life without confessing. Some days, she wonders why she feels guilty at all. Most of all, she thinks about how Katya’s holding up. She’s always thinking about Katya, the thought of her keeps her going through all this hell.

“Did the cosmetology school you wanted to go to get back to you? Trixie?” Fame asks. She hadn’t been paying attention to the conversation, so it catches her off guard.

“Yeah,” Trixie answers. It occurs to her that she never got to tell the others. She immediately called Katya to tell her, just like Katya had called Trixie when she got her yoga position. There’d been no talk of inviting others, so she hadn’t. How different would it have been if they’d all turned up at Katya’s? If Violet had got there first? Fame even? “I got in-”

“That’s wonderful-”

“But this was before I became a wanted criminal for a while and they haven’t responded to my email, so-” Trixie cuts herself off. Going back to work and getting back into it has been tough. She hasn’t even put much thought into the fact that they haven’t gotten back to her. What if they never do?

“I’m sure they will!” Fame responds. The level of sincerity on Fame’s face makes Trixie believe it.

A smile emerges on Trixie’s face. “Hopefully.”

They’ve all become absorbed by the film. There’s gaps before little patches of conversation. It falls back to silence. Trixie tries to not think too much. It’s when she thinks about it all that it all seems so doomed. The movie is damn boring. Then again, they’ve probably avoided putting anything on with blood, guts and gore incase she freaks out. Kim picked it, so that wouldn’t surprise Trixie at all.

She begins looking around the room. Fame and Ginger are chatting quietly. Kim’s gaze flips over to Trixie when Trixie watches her and the two of them exchange a smile. Carrying on observing her friends, she spots Pearl risking looks at Violet. It’d be cute if Pearl didn’t look so damn terrified, biting her lip whilst her face pales. However, Violet is absorbed by her phone. There’s a small smile on her face.

After a small shift in movement, Trixie’s attention is brought back to Ginger. Ginger follows Trixie’s previous eyeline and looks at Violet. A smirk covers Ginger’s face.

“Who you textin’ Vi?”

 


 

 

Max sent the first picture about half an hour ago. Violet felt the vibrations from her back pocket and she guessed straight away. She likes to think that she kept a straight face, but she doubts it. Max was laying in Violet’s bed shirtless, her own hand sprayed across her stomach. There was a smirk on her lips, and Violet’s mouth went dry.

It’s progressed a lot like that. Violet sending texts with a mixture of endorsement and discouragement. It’s weird that she’s in a room full of friends, but Max really does look beautiful posed like that. The latest photo is of Max just in her underwear, olive green lace.

Violet (21:47): You look fucking delicious

It took Max a short moment to reply.

MAX (21:48): Come eat me up then x

Violet smiled. It’s a tempting offer. She could say that she has to be up early tomorrow, that she has to help someone at work. There’s a billion lies she could tell to get out of that door and back between those legs.

Violet (21:51): Wasn’t that a little crude for you? ;-)

MAX (21:51): You know I could be cruder x

Oh, Violet knows she could be, has been actually. She’s halfway through thinking of a response when she’s snapped back to reality.

“Who you textin’ Vi?”

Violet blinks. Everyone in the room suddenly looks at her. 

“Oh, I was just scrolling. Nobody,” Violet chokes out.

Fame and Ginger exchange a look before turning back to Violet. “Bullshit!” Ginger shouts.

Violet locks her phone and slams the screen down onto her thigh. She likes to think she does it subtly.

Rolling her eyes, she retorts “would I lie to you?”

“Yes,” Ginger says.

“Yup,” Fame adds.

“Definitely,” Kim concludes.

Violet would be pissed at that, but she ends up laughing. Trixie is smiling from the corner of the room.

“Is that really all you think of me?” Violet asks. Ginger cackles at the small amount of distress in Violet’s voice.

Fame shakes her head. “Of course not! It’s just, you don’t always tell the truth. That’s fine! But-”

“Look me in the eye and tell me you’re always a hundred percent honest,” Ginger interrupts. “You’re a lot of things. Girl, honest ain’t one of them.”

“It’s not even a bad thing,” Kim chips in. “Good lies.”

Trixie in the corner bites her lip; is there even such a thing?

Sighing, Violet caves. “You’re right.”

Against her leg, Violet’s phone flashes. It’s just about visible due to the low light of the room. Bad timing.

Ginger grins at it. “Who’s texting you?”

Violet rolls her eyes, again. “Are you my mother now?”

There’s a scoff from Pearl and Violet’s blood runs cold for a moment. “They’re only asking because you won’t tell them. What have you got to hide?”

Violet stares at her and, to Violet’s surprise, Pearl stares back. They keep hard eye contact. Rage flares up in Violet.

“What does it matter to you?”

Something awful fills Pearls’ chest. Envy? Something like that. She hates that she’s about to betray the agreement they never agreed upon, keeping it secret.

“You know why it matters to me.”

Violet is stunned for a moment. She doesn’t see the looks the other four people in the room are shooting each other. In this moment all that exists is Pearl and just how damn pissed she is at her.

“You have a lot of fucking nerve Pearl,” Violet deadpans.

Except for the film blaring in the background, it’s quiet. Violet can see the heavy raising and fall of Pearl’s chest. They carry on staring eachother down. There’s a threat for the other to back down, prove that they’re wrong. Violet won’t do that. She isn’t wrong. This isn’t a fight she picked after all, but it’s one she’ll fight. Pearl grits her teeth, and Violet can see the tension in her jaw. Both of their mouths are pulled into harsh straight lines. The intensity of the glare Violet is providing magnetises Pearl, and she hates how it does.

“Is there something on my face?” Pearl asks.

There’s a laugh from someone in the room, Violet doesn’t care enough to notice who. She shakes her head at Pearl slowly.

“No. I was just thinking about what thin ice you’re walking on.” Pearl’s eyebrows raise. Violet licks her bottom lip, and she’s not entirely sure why. “And don’t think I wouldn’t let you drown.”

Pearl grimaces. Nearly relenting, Violet keeps a neutral expression. “I know you would,” Pearl retorts. Finally, she looks at the ground.

This only manages to make Violet more angry.

Kim pipes in, “guys, maybe we should-”

“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” Violet demands. Pearl looks back at her. She bites her lip. “Are you trying to make me feel sorry for you? Is that what that was?”

Pearl deflates. She wants to curl up into a ball. Why does she do things like this to herself?

“No,” Pearl answers. Even coming from her own mouth, she hears that it sounds small. “I just- I think I deserve it.”

Pearl hopes for a moment that maybe Violet would understand. She’s wrong. Rolling her eyes, Violet’s volume increases. “Oh you have to be fucking with me? You fucked this up yourself. You’re not a damn martyr, you fucked up and you haven’t even apologized. You don’t do what you did to people Pearl. You don’t- Do you even get how you fucked up? Do you even think what you did is wrong?”

The others are the room are frowning at each other. Trixie can’t stand it, she’s close to bolting from the room.

“Yes,” Pearl swallows. “I know. I’m sorry.”

Violet shakes her head. “No. You’re not. You don’t care at all. That’s the worst bit.” She stands up, collecting her handbag and chucking her phone into it. She turns to look down at Pearl. “I hope you’re happy.”

Violet turns to the others and hates that she’s doing this. It’s not their fault. The expression on their faces of shock and confusion make Violet feel ill. She sighs. “I’m sorry Trixie. I’ll call you later and arrange something in the next few days yeah?” Quickly, Trixie nods. Violet spots how her hands are pulled into fists and grimaces. "I love you lots girl. Sorry for this." She nods at the others before walking out.

 


 

 

Violet stomps out of the apartment and slams the door. Running down the stairs, she grinds her teeth. Pure anger runs in her fucking veins. How could she?

 


 

 

There’s a moment of silence. Fame reaches for the remote and turns off the TV.

“Pearl, Sweetie-” Fame starts.

“What the fuck was that?” Ginger cuts in.

Looking around at all of her friends, Pearl feels completely vulnerable. Exposed.

“I-I, urgh, I-” Pearl tries. The others look at her with a furrowed brow. Trixie’s eyes look distant and she stares at the wall. “I got really drunk, when we found out that Trixie was coming home, and I-”

Kim groans. “What did you do Pearl?”

Grimacing, Pearl covers her face with her hands. “I told Violet I loved her.”

A wave of shocked quiet washes over them. It forces Trixie back into reality. 

“And I take it she didn’t take it well?” Trixie asks.

Taking her hands away from her head, Pearl looks at Trixie and shakes her head. “She said I didn’t really. She didn’t want to hear it.”

There’s even more quiet. Even Ginger doesn’t quite know what to do.

“So you turned up steaming drunk and told her you loved her?” Trixie checks. She raises an eyebrow, feeling a little bit sick at the discussion of love. “Would-Would anybody take that in a good way?”

She looks around the room, the others shake their heads. Pearl swallows. “Well, I wouldn’t have done it if I’d fucking realized that. But what can I do?” There’s a voice break on do. Pearl buries her head back into her hands and shakes it. “What can I do?” she whispers again.

The others look at each other. Fame purses her lips, stands up and walks to Pearl’s side. Kneeling next to her, she pulls her into her arms. Pearl clings to her and Trixie’s heart breaks a little. It’s when Pearl starts crying that Fame turns to the others with pleading in her eyes. This doesn’t happen. Pearl never breaks down on them. She’s always the calm one, cracking jokes in a crisis. There’s no set method for how to help her.

Trixie swears if she stays quiet any longer, her head is going to stay in that argument. She hasn’t been in a tense exchange like that, with that volume, since he died. She didn’t expect it to take her back like it did. Trixie can smell blood. She can feel it all over her. Is this what Katya felt like whenever Trixie raised her voice? God, the guilt punches her hard in the throat.

Trixie moves to Pearl too. She rests a hand on Pearl’s shoulder.

“It’ll be okay,” Trixie says. She knows it will be, that’s something she’s noticed since coming back to New York. There’s very little that scares her now, just a few things that terrify her completely. “You can fix this.”

Pearl is forcing deep breaths into her body. It’s an amazing thing, she’s barely let her fingertips off of her control and she’s already scrapping for it back.

“She’s right,” Ginger adds. It makes Trixie jump, she hadn’t heard her come up behind her.

Pearl shakes her head against Fame’s chest. “I don’t know how.”

“You’ll figure it out,” Kim responds. The whole room has entered whisper tones. “You’re good at that.”

Putting a hand over her mouth, a breath shudders through Pearl. She retracts from Fame, and Fame lets her. The group have circled around her.

Pearl sighs. “When I told her, she looked-she looked at me and said I didn’t. She made me go home. I-I don’t know what to do. She doesn’t love me,” Pearl rants. She puts a hand on her forehead. The skin of her cheeks is turning red. “She doesn’t. I can’t make her. I can’t look at her without-” Pearl chokes on her words. “Without realizing that I’ve ruined it. I killed it. Man, why the fuck did I do it? Why the fuck did I-” Pearl sighs.

“What do you think you ruined?” Fame asks. Trixie nods at it. It’s the right question.

“Our friendship. I don’t think I can live without her,” Pearl confesses. Trixie flinches, she relates to that. Pearl’s eyes widen and she stares at the wall. “What if she cuts me off?”

“She won’t-” Ginger starts.

“You all know her. If I piss her off, I’m done. She’s got plenty of- Who was she texting?” Pearl’s voice raises in volume at the end of the sentence.

“Have you talked to her at all? Like, one on one? My mom always says that’s the best place to start mending,” Fame asks again. She’s doing well, Trixie's proud of their misguided momfriend. 

Pearl shakes her head as an answer. “I’ve only seen her when you’ve seen her. I didn’t try to talk. I didn-t”

Ginger huffs. “So you told her you loved her, she slammed the door in your face because you were fuck-off drunk and you haven’t even tried talking? Bitch, you’re crazy.”

Trixie cringes. Fame hits Ginger on the shoulder. At the back of the group, Kim rolls her eyes.

Pearl wasn’t listening. She carries on staring down at the ground. Her hands are flat against the floor.

“She said I don’t care.” Pearl frowns. “Why doesn’t she think I care?”

Fame starts, “it might be because-”

“Because you turned up at her doorstep drunk and told her you loved her!” Ginger shouts. Pearl looks up at her with confusion in her eyes. Ginger sighs. “Pearlie, that’s a ‘I want to get into your pants’ move. Not a love one. I know enough about fucking drama to know that.”

Eyes widening, Pearl groans. She smacks the side of her face lightly with her fingertips. “I’m an idiot. She just thinks I was trying to sleep with her?”

“Maybe,” Fame suggests. The tone in her voice is one of agreeance. Trixie looks at her and Ginger. It’s almost a funny sight, they’re like two parents trying to comfort their kid. Momfriend and dadfriend, who does that make Trixie?

“You have to talk to her to find out though. That’s how you heal it,” Kim concludes.

Maybe Katya's the aunt and Trixie's the lame uncle?

Having ceased crying, Pearl nods. “I have to give her time tonight though, right?”

The group nod at her. “Maybe send her an apology text?” Fame suggests. There’s another communal noise of agreement. 

“Ask if she wants to meet up in person to talk at some point,” Ginger adds.

Trixie nods along. “Make it somewhere neutral, not your place or her place. Don’t invite anybody else.”

“From there, you do what you have to do,” Fame concludes.

 


 

 

Violet fumbles with the key to her own apartment twice before just banging the door with her fist. She won’t cry. She refuses to damn cry. Looking around, she realizes that this is where Pearl was. This is where everything went to shit, and it nearly gets her.

Max opens the door slowly.

“Violet? What’s-” Violet pushes past Max and into her flat. The sudden movement makes Max jump. She slams the door behind her by kicking it. Grabbing Max by the shoulders, she pushes her up against the door. Violet presses their body together and kisses her. It takes Max a moment to kiss back, but she does. Violet could sing, though she doubts anybody would want that.

After a moment, Max pushes her away with one hand. Violet tries to recover the distance, but Max turns her head to the side.

“Violet, is something wrong?”

Deep breaths are flooding in and out of Violet, she shakes her head. “No.” Max’s eyes widen. She blinks at Violet with expectation. Sighing, Violet relents. “Some drama went down.”

Max nods. She reaches down and takes Violet’s hand. “Are you okay?”

They keep eye contact, and it calms Violet down. Her breathing evens out. Slowly, Violet nods. “I just- You remember when we found out Trixie was coming home?” Max nods, still pressed against the door. “That night, Pearl came here and she told me she loved me.”

Max’s mouth falls open for a second, but she shuts it quickly. “Okay, and?”

Violet swallows. “She was drunk. I told her to go home. We fought today.”

They stand in silence for another second. Gently squeezing Violet’s hand, Max probes further. “What was the conclusion of it?”

Violet scoffs, shaking her head. “That Pearl’s a selfish bitch and she can fucking burn.”

Max laughs, eventually Violet ends up laughing too. She buries her face in the side of Max’s neck. After a moment, Max’s spare hand rests on the back of her head. Max plays with her hair and Violet rests into it.

“What do you want?” Max whispers. “Tell me how to make it better.”

If Pearl is a wildfire, Max is a hearth. Everything is peaceful and warm. There’s no lack of safety. Max’s presence feels like protection.

Violet pulls away and looks back at Max’s eyes. What does she want?

“I want to be in control,” Violet states. “Everything’s fucking falling apart. I need to be in control.”

Nodding, Violet sees Max swallow. Violet is staring at the blue of Max’s eyes and she is reminded of the blue of Katya’s. She feels ill for a second. Max trails her hand from where it was resting on Violet’s neck. She grabs Violet’s spare hand and raises both of her palms to Max’s shoulders. Max pushes herself up against the door.

“Then control me.”

 


 

 

It’s an easy job to convince Pearl to go and stay with Fame for the night. It makes them all feel a bit more at peace. After the two of them leave, Ginger, Kim and Trixie all exchange looks. Trixie’s reminded of another evening similar to this one.

Violet mentioned it again today, less directly this time, so it's in Trixie's head. How long will she even be in it? Trixie feels queasy thinking about it.

“Could I go?” Trixie whispers. The three of them are settling down in Trixie’s kitchen. Kim is standing, waiting for the coffee to brew. “Do you think? To Katya’s trial?”

Ginger’s eyebrows raise. Her and Kim exchange a look. She reaches across the table, and puts her hand on top of Trixie’s.

“Would it help you put it behind you?”

Trixie’s throat is drying with the pain of it all. Exhaustion is creeping into her, and she’s done next to nothing, fuck all to put it indelicately. She doesn’t want to put it behind her. She wants it back. She wants her back. Trixie shrugs. She’s tapping a rhythm on the table with her fingertips.

“I don’t know.” It’s true. She really doesn’t know if it’d help her carry on. Her mind just keeps saying that if she goes, she’ll see Katya. If she does that, will it help? Or will it be the final blow? Kim’s being oddly quiet, and Trixie reckons she’s about to get a lecture. “I have my lawyers number. I might call her and ask.”

The idea of calling Courtney isn’t a bad thing. She told her to ask if she needed any advice, and she does.

Ginger nods. “That could work?”

Nodding back, Trixie bites her lip. “Are you going?”

“I don't know,” Ginger answers immediately. “I reckon it won’t take too long. Couple of days at most. We’re in rehearsals at the moment, so I might not be able to come on the second day. I’m hoping it takes a little longer than two days though-”

“It’ll have to,” Kim interrupts. She puts two cups of coffee on the table and returns to the counter to claim hers.

Trixie feels the air tightening in her ribs. “What do they even have to look at?” She’s sweating. “I saw the mess we left behind. It’s not going to be hard to figure out what happened.”

The story Trixie told was that she arrived and found Katya having just killed him. From there, she said Katya forced her at knifepoint to come with her. A few days in, she said Katya threw the knife away after they first slept in a motel together but Trixie stayed anyway. She said Katya was scared she’d hurt herself.It is surprising, in hindsight, the lack of details Trixie had to give. She just played at being devastated, which wasn’t extremely difficult, and it was easy to get away with lying. Katya’s probably going to have to big up their lies.

If Trixie goes, how does that look for Katya? Does that make it seem like the forgiveness angle is true? Trixie just doesn’t even know anymore. Would those people sitting and judging Katya look at the guilt in Trixie’s heart and smell the rat? If Trixie revealed that everything she said was fake at this point, what would happen? Could she swap places with Katya?

There’s a lot of questions that Trixie would damn beg for an answer to. She’d get on her knees. She’d pray if she thought she could find an answer there.

“What did you see?” Ginger asks. She hears the sound his body made when the knife entered him and Katya’s screaming. “If you don’t mind asking.”

Looking down at the brown of her coffee, Trixie wishes she was alone. She wishes a million things, but none of them ever come true do they?

“Trixie, you don’t have to-” Kim starts.

“A fucking ton of blood,” Trixie says. She keeps her tone neutral. Everything has to be flat. She won’t cry, not where Kim can see her. Sighing, Trixie clicks her tongue. “He’d beaten her up. She had a huge, Texas-size bruise on her eye. Her lip was cut up. It was-” she searches for a word. She keeps staring at her coffee. “Obvious.” Her heart races when she realizes that it’s time to lie. “He was on the ground. There was a knife in Katya's hand. I pulled the knife out, threw it away. She was threatening me-” Trixie snorts. “With yet another knife. Knife lady. It was gross. We left, and we ran.” Trixie adds, “because she made us. It smelt rank. Katya was fucking off the chain scary, like eerily calm.”

When Trixie closes her eyes, when she blinks, she can picture that room perfectly: the smashed glass, the knocked over table. Maybe she never left it, a part of her obviously never did.

“I’m sorry, Trixie,” Ginger confesses. “I’m sorry that you’re not being let to heal.”

Trixie’s heart skips two beats. She nearly loses it. After a deep breath, she sighs. “I-I just fucking wish Katya was okay.” It feels good to not lie. “I can’t stop thinking about if she’s okay. She didn’t deserve this and I just- I want to help?”

The look Kim and Ginger shoot each other is one of concern. Anger bubbles up in Trixie. What right do they have to judge? They don’t know everything she’s done for Katya. They don’t understand everything Katya did for her. The sacrifice they made that has changed them down to their core. Their love is sacrifice, and none of them know that love either.

“I don’t think there’s anything you can do. Sweetie, as much as I hate it, Katya’s made her decisions. We have to wait and see.” Ginger grimaces at Trixie. “We can’t help her now.”

It’s wrong. It has to be wrong. Sitting around feels so damn pathetic. Trixie looks to Kim for an answer. Kim’s lips are sealed. Trixie supposes she’s probably said what she feels.

“Okay,” Trixie lies. Sighing, she continues. “I still want to go.”

The other two nod. “If that’s what you think would be best,” Kim says.

 


 

 

Katya sits in a new cell. She supposes the movement is refreshing. She’s not seen anybody for what feels like hours. It’s night. If she couldn’t feel that, she can see it.

Nearly showtime.

Katya wonders if she should feel more nervous. Bianca and Courtney are working their asses off to get as much evidence against him as possible. They are finding anything and everything that’ll make Katya sympathetic. They’ve been collecting different statements. Katya knows that they’re using the initial interview that Max, her neighbour, gave.

Will her mama come? Her siblings? Katya isn’t sure if she wants to see them or not. Having her family heartbroken? Katya thinks that would magnify any guilt she’s managed to resolve through getting Trixie out. Katya’s biting her fingernails over getting the details right more than anything. If she fucks up, she could bring Trixie back into it. She’s managed to get her out. It needs to stay that way.

When she closes her eyes, she wishes for it all to be okay even if she thinks it won’t be.

Chapter Text

It arrives so much quicker than Katya wants it to. The few past days have flown past in a swirl of words and nerves. Bianca and Courtney remain calm at all times. Katya is held at a length from everything, she has no idea what’s really going to happen. She knows the vague outline, what she has to say and do. It’s not a lot, not really.

She just has to sit and listen, say yes and no and occasionally not comment. That last bit gives Katya an idea of a odd little thrill, it makes her feel like she’s acting in a game opposed to actually preparing to have her life chucked away. However, it’s not fun when Katya thinks about it.

If she thinks about it, it all becomes very distressing very quickly.

The sun is coming up. Today. There’s no time left. It’s here. Oh god, it’s here. Every lie she’s told has resulted in her ending up right where she is, in a cell. She can’t charm her way out of this. She will lie even after swearing on the bible; she would commit every form of blasphemy to save Trixie’s ass.

There’s footsteps and Katya’s throat dries up. She presses her body harder against the wall of the cell and hopes that maybe if she pushes hard enough she’ll fall through it, maybe she could run. It doesn’t happen.

Does anybody in the world know what she’d do to be able to start over? How she’d do anything to get rid of some of this guilt? Could she even imagine not being broken? Not needing time to heal? Could she be in the arms of the person she belongs with if she was a better human?  What penance would she have to pay to be clean?

She guesses she’s about to find out.

 


 

 

Max kisses her on the forehead and Violet feels empty.

The clothes she is wearing feel too formal. It’s an outfit she keeps reserved for either weddings or funerals. Going to the beginning of her friend’s murder trial in a shirt and jeans felt wrong. Max took her cue of the dress code. Neither of them will look out of place, or at least they’ll look irregular together. Isn’t that cute?

She doesn’t have the time to even fucking think about that.

Trixie’s meeting them on the way. Violet regrets agreeing to go with her. She’s going to have to sit through this whole thing looking over at Trixie and knowing that she went through some of it too. Why does Trixie even want to fucking go? What sort of sadomasochistic shit makes her want to relive the whole thing?

“You ready to go Darling?” Max asks.

Violet has to look up to make eye contact with Max. They’re both in high heels, and Violet still has to do that. Max offers her a smile, and it makes Violet ease a little. She rests her head against Max’s chest. After a moment, Max pulls her into an embrace.

“No,” Violet admits.

Closing her eyes, Max nods. She remembers the shouting she heard on the night that lead to all of this. She imagines what happened in the rooms next to her own. The rooms she hates being in because of those lingering moments. She isn’t ready to see Katya’s face once again, knowing that the last time she saw it was moments after murder.

“I understand,” Max affirms.

Violet shakes her head against Katya’s chest. “No, you don’t.”

Max’s eyebrow crease. She holds Violet tighter. “You’re right. I’m sorry.”

Violet moves her arms around so that they rest on Max’s back. She pulls them even closer. Casual affection has never really been Violet’s thing, but this feels right.

“You don’t have to apologize. This sucks for you too. It just sucks for different reasons.” Violet murmurs. Max can feel the vibrations of her words.

It’s odd. They’ve slept together and had sex numerous times now, but it’s moments like this that Max feels closest to her. It’s a good feeling; she finds peace in it.

Max can see Violet’s bedside alarm clock. The time they arranged to meet Trixie is approaching. Max feels oncoming dread, but doesn’t say anything.

“Are you okay?” Max asks. It’s a silly question. There’s never going to be a positive answer.

“Yes. I’m worried,” Violet answers. There was no hiding it. “You?”

“Ditto,” Max responds. She doesn’t want to pile her worries onto Violet, but she refuses to lie.

Violet pulls away, and Max panics for a second. It’s when Violet holds her hand that Max relaxes.

 


 

 

It was the day that Violet and Max met. They’d been hanging around outside of Katya’s apartment, talking to anybody they could for information. Everything in Violet’s heart hurt, and Ginger was starting to piss her off.

The silver haired girl had seemed familiar. It was Kim who clocked her as Katya’s neighbour and approached her. Fame convinced her to share her experience of that night. It was Max herself that invited them to apartment, getting them away from the hustle and bustle of the crime scene.

Violet nearly threw up walking past Katya’s apartment. She’d met him before, they all had done in passing, and his death, the implications of it, make her feel ill.

She was too distracted to pay too much attention to the flat around them, or to anything about Max but her words. The story made sense, it matched everything else that they’d heard. Violet nodded along, looking solidly at the ground.

It was when Max mentioned that she’d offered refuge to Katya that Violet finally properly looked at her. She finally properly listened.

“You what?” Ginger asked. There was evident shock in her voice. She clearly had expected this to be another case of ‘I heard her scream and just thought I’d let them get away with it’. They’d all heard similar stories from short conversations with other neighbours, the ones that clearly felt inconvenienced by the whole affair.

“I heard the fighting. I never thought...Well, how would you?” Max looked embarrassed. Violet couldn’t fathom why. “I offered her somewhere to stay if she wanted to get out. She said no. I just assumed that she wouldn’t leave him. So many women in abusive relationships refuse you know? I told her that the offer was always open and she thanked me. I came back here.”

It devastated Violet for a moment. She couldn’t really think why. Was it because she wasn’t there to offer the same help? That this odd eccentric stranger had Katya’s back better than she did?

“Wow,” Violet said. It was the first thing that she’d said since entering the flat.

Max turned to look at her. She absorbed her from head to toe. Shrugging, Max sighed.

“I wish I’d gotten there earlier. I’d heard them bicker before. I was too late.”

The entire room felt the last sentence emanate within them. It was painful. Violet hated it.

“You did everything you could do,” Violet said. She knew it was true, but it still hurt. “She wouldn’t have accepted it if you’d asked a week before. This isn’t your fault so you can’t beat yourself up over it.”

They regarded each other for another moment. Violet staring at Max, Max staring at Violet. Neither of them saw how Kim looked between the both of them. Neither of them saw how Pearl looked at Violet and Violet alone.

“Thank you,” Max concluded. Violet nodded at her. It wasn’t any brightener to her mood, but it didn’t make things worse. “I’m not sure I caught your name?”

 


 

 

“You did everything you could do.” The words are repeated. Violet wonders if Max can place where she said them to her before. It feels like such a long time ago, even though it isn’t.

Max smiles. It does lift Violet up, she feels better than she did. It makes up for the fact that she hasn’t heard from any of her damn friends since she saw them last. It makes up for the fact that Katya’s in trouble. It makes up for the fact that her parent’s are worried about her.

Max’s hands are clammy, but so are Violet’s.

“You know you did too, right?”

The sincerity to the look Max gives her almost maker her cry. Violet doesn’t know if it’s true, but she knows there’s no point to arguing with Max about it. Max blinks, clearly expecting affirmation. Violet can’t truthfully give her that.

“We have to go,” Violet points out. There’s no disappointment on Max’s face, just acceptance. She squeezes Violet’s hand.

“Let’s go.”

 


 

 

Trixie checks the time again and ignores the tears in her eyes. She can’t imagine Violet would be particularly happy to turn up and find her sobbing. It wouldn’t exactly be her best move.

She didn’t really sleep last night. She’s spent most of the last hour trying to cover that up with concealer, and she likes to think she got it. Dressing up for this feels so damn wrong. However, if she looks like a mess, people will think she’s a mess. If she looks any different, people will think she is.

Nobody knows, remember?

Her head is running with a thousand different thoughts. Trixie is shaking, and she can’t stop herself. She thinks she might throw up. She’s sweating. This room is so damn hot. She keeps on finding herself fidgeting with the bottom of her skirt. Her hands just want to move. There’s a part of her that just wants to run away, that doesn’t think she can stand to see Katya again and know everything she does. It’s too much to ask.

She’s going to see her. She’s going to see Katya. The panic stops for a moment, there’s clarity, and then it multiplies. She wants to scream.

The door knocks.

Trixie’s head stops running in circles again. She takes one slow intake of breath, and one exhale. This is it. No backing out now.

She’s stood in the middle of her bedroom. Something’s wrong. It’s like she’s forgotten something. Then again, she’s felt like that for a few weeks straight. Violet’s here. The nerves in Trixie’s body go haywire. Tears threaten to escape. Oh no. Not now. It can’t be here. Trixie’s not ready. She isn’t fucking ready.

Her body moves before she does. Next thing she knows, she’s scrabbling through the back of her underwear draw. Her fingers brush against paper, and then finally the hard plastic. She pushes the ring into her pinky and conceals it in a fist.

Everything calms for a moment; she forces a harsh exhale. A smile comes to her lips for a moment.

This secret is hers and Katya’s. Nobody in the world can take that moment from them.

She walks to her door and opens it. Violet’s waiting by herself.

“Hey,” Violet says. There’s no smile or anything. They both know what this is, at least Trixie knows that she can be honest with that.

“Hey.”

It’s a wordless head off. Trixie locks her apartment, and they walk down the stairs. She notices that Violet’s hands are pulled into fists in her pockets. She’s tense too.

She jumps when Violet starts talking. Her heart was already racing, but now it’s sprinting. “Max is saving a cab for us.”

Trixie had known that Max was coming. A few questions come into her head, but she hasn’t the energy for it.

“Is anybody else coming?” Trixie asks. She has been told this, but she can’t fucking remember. It’s not exactly like she’s in the best of mental places.

“Don’t know. We’ll see when we get there,” Violet answers. There’s a cold quality to her voice.

Trixie doesn’t respond. They carry on walking downstairs. Trixie hasn’t heard anymore about the Violet and Pearl situation. From the way Violet’s acting at the mention of the others, Trixie can’t help but think that probably hasn’t been resolved.

They leave the apartment building. There’s a taxi parked up on which Violet heads to. Trixie follows.

Getting into the car, she finally sees Max again. Who could have imagined that all of this would have lead to Trixie actually getting to meet Katya’s odd neighbour? Little perks, she supposes.

Max nods at her and Trixie nods back. They start the journey again. Trixie’s body is rebelling against her.  She wanted to be calm and collected. She figured that would be the best way to put Katya at ease, seeing as kissing her and telling her she loves her isn’t an option.

After a minute in the car, Trixie sees Violet reach out to take Max’s hand. Max grasps it and clings on. Trixie’s mouth falls open, before she slams it shut. Violet looks over at Trixie with expectation in her eyes. There’s a dare in that look. Challenge.

If she thinks about it, the Trixie that she used to be would have had a comment. Granted, it would have been saved for different people to hear, but there would be a comment. Violet is preparing for what she knew, but Trixie isn’t going to say anything, wouldn’t say anything.

In what world does Trixie have any sort of moral ground?

Max doesn’t notice what’s going on. She carries on looking at the city bustling past. It’s almost like nothing mildly catastrophic is about to happen. None of these people know that the events of the next few days will change Max’s life, the lives of everybody in the back of that cab, forever.

 


 

She keeps on tapping her foot, checking her watch. What is it with Ginger being continuously early for shit at the moment? Nerves, she guesses.

There’s a lot of hustle and bustle. Ginger looks at people and guesses their purpose in this setting. As of this moment, she’s yet to see any familiar faces. It’s not exactly like she’s in the mood for small talk, so she isn’t complaining.

Everything feels so empty, ridiculously empty for a day that’s this important. There’s no fear, sadness or anything. It’s all acceptance, but that doesn’t mean she’s come to peace with it.

Trixie walks in and Ginger’s heart skips a beat. God, she didn’t honestly think she’d go through with it. Stupid fucker. Trixie catches her eye and she doesn’t smile. She shrugs slightly, and walks to her.

“Nice to see you,” Trixie says. There’s a lump in Ginger’s throat. She wishes she could return the damn sentiment, but she can’t. Part of Ginger had hoped it would just be Violet who would come. There’d be no bullshit that way, no guilt or anything, just missing Katya. There was a reason she hadn’t really mentioned to the others that she’d be there. “Violet and Max are on their way. Max had to go to the bathroom,” Trixie says.

Ginger raises an eyebrow. “And Violet went with her?”

Trixie’s hands are still absentmindedly fidgeting. She scratches the back of her neck. “Honestly? I’d rather not know. They could just be pissing.”

Ginger smiles. It’s not quite laugh worthy, but it’s better than nothing. “Or they could be fucking.”

There’s no part of Trixie that’s prepared to feel good things right now. Usually, she’d be up to gossip. She would have been a few months ago. “It’s Violet’s choice,” she points out.

A deep sigh comes from Ginger. “If they are, it’ll break Pearl’s heart.”

Trixie’s stunned into stillness. Her insistent sparks of movement all stop. “You’re right.” They both share a look. They saw the mess that Pearl was in a few days ago. Trixie bites her lip.

They stand side by side and Ginger tries not to think too much. The energy starts to course through Trixie again. What’s Katya going to look like? Should she have come? Will this help? Will this make it worse? She feels so wrong in her skin. She shouldn’t be here. She should be with Katya. Miami, she should be in Miami.

 


 

 

Violet nearly cried in that cab, and she thinks Max noticed. The bathroom is isolated, there’s nobody else in there. Max’s kiss seems to numb her completely. She’s grateful.

 


 

 

They have stood in silence for some time now. Ginger stares at the door. She tries to think of conversation starters, but falls flat. Taking today off was no easy endeavor, she had to explain the situation multiple times before anybody considered changing the rehearsal schedule even slightly, and she’s starting to regret it. Will seeing Katya make her feel any different? Is a part of her still pretending none of this happened? Having Trixie next to her is the most sobering thing possible, some physical collateral damage to witness. It makes Ginger feel something, but she can’t place the emotion.

This isn’t Trixie’s fault, but she’d like somebody to blame that isn’t either behind bars or six feet under. Ginger sighs.

“Are you okay?” Her fingers ache for a cigarette, but she’d promised Katya she’d quit. “It’s a dumb question, but I have to ask.”

Trixie nods. “Are you okay?”

“Sorta?” Ginger laughs. It’s a nervous chuckle.

“Me too,” Trixie says. They watch the door, waiting to be let in. Trixie’s throat is drying out. “I’m so fucking nervous,” she whispers.

It’s the truth, but the look of surprise on Ginger’s face makes her almost wish she hadn’t confessed it. Ginger reaches out, puts a hand on Trixie’s shoulder and squeezes. Trixie physically revolts at the idea of Ginger offering her lies as comfort, and is glad when she doesn’t.

She hears the sound of Violet’s voice before she sees her. When she turns to look, she sees Max and Violet walk around the corner. The backs of their hands press against each other, but they are not physically linked. Violet was wearing lipstick when Trixie saw her last, but she isn’t anymore.

“Hello again,” Max says. There’s a polite smile on her lips. She waves at the two of them. “Ginger, wasn’t it?”

Ginger nods. “Yes. Max?” There isn’t a need to double check, she knows exactly what her name is.

“Yeah,” Violet interjects. The four of them stand in a circle, just to the edge of the hallway. “I wasn’t expecting to see you here.”

Ginger grimaces. “I wasn’t sure if I could come until yesterday. I didn’t think to message you.”

Rolling her eyes, Violet snorts. “It’s not a problem. I haven’t heard from anybody since I saw you last, ‘cept Trixie.”

Shocked, Trixie looks at Violet. “Nobody?”

“Nope,” Violet confirms, popping the word on her lips. Max shuffles slightly closer to Violet, placing a hand on the small of her back. Violet stills under the touch and allows it.

Ginger and Trixie exchange a look. Trixie doesn’t even get why she’s surprised Pearl didn’t listen to them. Typical.

“Oh,” Ginger says. Gritting her teeth, she avoids cursing Pearl out there and then. It takes effort to hold her tongue.

Violet raises her eyebrows and sighs. She turns to Trixie, grabbing her hand for a moment before she lets go. “I know this probably isn’t the time, but I’m sorry for leaving your party. I just had to get out of there. I’m sorry, Girl.”

Trixie finds herself nodding before Violet’s even finished talking. The feeling of having her hand held for a moment is lingering on her, bringing forth a swirl of difficult memories. Trixie wonders if Violet felt the candy ring and just decided to ignore it. That’s something Violet could have easily taken the piss out of, and she didn’t? God, what’s happened to them. Trixie looks at the ground. “Of course it’s fine.”

In reality, she just doesn’t have the fucking energy to be annoyed at someone for something so petty.

Trixie looks away from the group. Everything in her is tensing up as the minutes tick by. It’s counting down. The hall is getting busier. It’s really happening. She’s going to see her. The rest of her life is going to be dictated in minutes. The ring around her finger has a heartbeat. It’s faltering, flittering weaker. Everytime she sees someone with blonde hair walk into the room, her heart stops. Is it her? Is she okay? Does she know how much Trixie loves her?

Out of the corner of her eye, Trixie sees another blonde enter the hallway. Her hair is just that little bit too golden to be Katya’s, but Trixie recognizes it immediately.

Courtney holds a small navy blue briefcase and is checking her phone. There’s no emotion on her face, just a set jaw which betrays the tension in her mind. Her suit is beautifully tailored. Trixie can’t deny that she looks like the model lawyer. Trixie can’t say she isn’t glad of it. She knows that Courtney is compassionate, she proved that the other day. Having somebody that cares on Katya’s side provides a little bit of ease to Trixie.

“Excuse me a minute,” Trixie announces. She doesn’t look back to the other girls as she starts to move over to the other woman. She feels just a bit apprehensive, but she’s moved now. She tucks the hand with her ring on into a ball. “Miss Act!”

Courtney looks up at Trixie, who is awkwardly waving with her free hand. Courtney beams at her.

“Trixie! I wasn’t sure if I would see you here. You still seemed unsure when we finished our call the other day.”

Trixie smiles. There’s a calm air to Courtney right now and she can’t help but find it relaxing.

“I wasn’t, thank you for that by the way, but it just felt right in the end?”

It’s a lie. The second that Courtney said her presence wouldn’t affect the actual trial, she knew she’d have to go. She couldn’t find the power in herself to know if it’d be better for her and Katya if she didn’t go. She isn’t strong enough to pull herself away from her.

“Good!” Courtney’s smile falters for a second. “Just, um, remember that there’s a possibility your name is going to be said. Your statement is fair game after all. Just be thankful you’re not going to be a witness.”

The sudden urgency to Courtney’s voice makes Trixie’s hands clamp up again. She feels like she’s got a damn fever. Has it always been this hard to breathe?

“Would-Would having me as a witness help Katya? I can come back for multiple days if it helps. I get it if it doesn’t I just- Could it? They already have the story, but I can give character profiles? Do you have those? You probably  have those. Would me speaking help? Is there a way I can help? Something I can do?”

Trixie looks back at Courtney. A quick head shake from Courtney serves as an answer. “We’ve got it sorted Trixie. No point in worrying over it now. You have to trust us to do the best we possibly can.”

Looking at the ground for a second, Trixie recollects herself with a deep breath. She looks back at Courtney who continues to smile at her. “You’re right. Sorry.”

“Don’t be,” Courtney interjects.

They smile at eachother in comfortable silence for a moment. Trixie coughs. Her head has slowed for a moment, but she knows she’s on thin ice.

“I should go-”

“I think they’ll let us set up in a moment.” Courtney points at the doors. She winks at Trixie. “I’ll see you in there.”

 


 

 

Trixie’s back with Ginger, Max and Violet for barely five minutes before they open the doors. The room is large and composed mainly of wood. There’s a fabricated feel to it, like it’s been assembled  as a puzzle. There’s nothing of any remarkable uniqueness.

Oddly enough, it reminds Trixie of those hotel rooms. The ones so deeply seared into her brain that she’s surprised she doesn’t dream of them more often.

They sit in the back, in the far corner of the room. It’d be impossible for anybody to look at Trixie without Trixie noticing. That’s the main motivation. Plus, the three women next to her will act as buffers against strangers. There’s no way that anybody will be able to see her emotions change. If she cries, as long as it’s quiet, nobody will notice.

At what point did life become so jacked that these became usual concerns? Urgh.

People start to enter slowly. It’s a slow trickle. A woman comes in who starts to set up with Courtney. She spots Trixie at the back of the hall, shoots her a hard glare and whispers to Courtney.

“Gee, I’m surprised you didn’t turn to stone,” Violet comments. It makes Ginger laugh, and Trixie can’t help but smirk.

The harsh encounter causes Courtney to look at her. She smiles before turning back to her colleague. Courtney says something which causes the taller woman to cover a laugh with the back of her hand.

“The blonde one was my lawyer when all of this kicked off,” Trixie elaborates for the other three. “She’s called Courtney. She’s nice.”

Violet snorts. “Looks like you got lucky.”

“If she’s your lawyer, why is she here?” Max asks.

Another group of people enter the room. There’s no suits in this group. They sit in the audience. One woman with long blonde hair catches Trixie’s eye. She can’t seem to look away.

“She’s assisting Katya’s case now. I offered to be a witness or speak or whatever and they didn’t want me.”

Ginger’s blood runs cold. “It’s not exactly like you make it easy to feel sorry for her Trixie.”

The words snap Trixie out of her haze of looking at that hair. She turns to Ginger. “I’ve never said anything about-”

Ginger huffs. “I didn’t mean you pointing fucking fingers. I meant, you remind us of everything Katya did. It’s not exactly easy to picture her as my scared best friend with you here.”  As soon as the words are said, Ginger’s heart feels heavier. Trixie’s eyes widen with shock, her mouth falls open. “Trixie, I-”

Trixie’s throat closes up. Is she really just a walking ticket of guilt to Ginger? If she is to Ginger, what will she be to the everyone else? “It’s okay,” Trixie responds. “I get it.” She wants to stand up and scream until it’s over. However, her knees are weak and she’s not exactly sure she could stay upright for long enough. The plastic against her pinky finger is hot. “She was scared. Terrified.”

There’s a moment break before Trixie feels a hand rubbing her back. “I’m sorry,” Ginger whispers. After another second, Trixie feels a hand on her leg. When she looks down, she sees Violet’s manicured fingers. It’s a comfort. They’re here too. They’re hurting too.

However, they’re not the person that killed someone. Trixie’s mind murmurs to her that Katya should be where she is, not her. She isn’t sure how this could be all her fault, but it damn feels like it.

“I hate to be the one, but this probably isn’t the place. People are staring,” Max says. There’s a calm authority to her voice. Ginger and Violet pull away immediately.

“Where?” Violet asks.

Trixie sits herself up straight. She sighs out the tension, or she tries to. The second she looks into the room, she makes eye contact with the blonde woman. Trixie’s breath leaves her body. Her heart tenses and for a moment she wonders if her rib cage might have closed in.

Katya had always said that she looked like her mother, Trixie just didn’t know how right that was.

It’s the eyes that initially capture her. Trixie’s stared into the same pair, had the same two look deep into hers as they kissed. She knows those eyes better than she’s ever known anybody’s. Those are the eyes she fell in love with. After them, it’s the hair. There’s something about the shade of it that’s slightly different. It seems to be slightly whiter than Katya’s. It’s the simple styling and the length that matches Katya’s. Rather, it matches how Katya’s was before Trixie cut it. There’s more similarities. Trixie can see a identical jaw and eye shape, both of their skin is that pale white which only burns and never tans, the hard brow bone which is synonymous with Katya in Trixie’s head has its origin here.

“Is that-”

“Oh god,” Violet interrupts. Ginger doesn’t seem too bothered by Violet’s outburst. She feels sick. It feels good to feel something. “Katya’s mom? How the fuck- Do we talk to her?”After a second, Violet feels both of her hands being taken. Max gently grasps one whilst Ginger clings tightly to the other. She squeezes back.

Trixie can’t break eye contact with Katya’s mama. There’s no emotion in the older woman’s face, it’s a blank slate. Trixie can’t really blame her, sometimes she feels like that too.

“If she wants to talk, she’ll come to us,” Max suggests. The other three nod, it’s probably the best way of keeping peace.

Katya’s mama looks away from Trixie, finally. She’s sat near the front, Katya will be able to see her. Trixie isn’t sure if that’s a good thing or not. Should they have sat closer? Will this help her feel supported? Katya has to know just how loved she is, right?

“How long have we got until it starts?” Ginger asks.

Max lets go of Violet’s hand, but Ginger keeps holding on tight. It’s an iron grip. Violet feels it, and then looks up at how calm she seems. Acting really is her artform.

Looking around the room, Max sees that the place is mostly full already. It’s not just them that came unreasonably early. The clock on the wall has a grandeur to it, Max wonders just how many people have looked at it in states of despair. “Around fifteen minutes.”

A quarter of an hour. Trixie will see Katya, even just from a distance, within an hour. Is it odd that she’s excited? It’s probably wrong that she is. However, the worry she feels about how Katya is, physically at least, will be eased. At least Trixie will get some answers, even if there’s a large possibility she won’t be happy with them. She just hopes, even if she’s unhappy and angry, that Katya’s okay. Trixie won’t cope if Katya isn’t okay. She’ll do something drastic. Although, she doesn’t exactly know what.

 


 

The guards don’t talk to her. Katya doesn’t mind, but she could use some damn good conversation. All Bianca and Courtney want to talk about is the damn case. They discuss her fucking life like it’s a poker game. Katya just hopes they’re good at fucking poker.

She’s biting into her lip to try and still her tongue. These people don’t deserve her thoughts.

Hey, at least when she goes to prison there’ll be company? Even if it’s the dodgy kind, Katya’s one of them now she’s a ‘murderess’ she guesses. Katya still doesn’t see how these people can meet her and think she’s capable of it. It makes sense on paper, and that’s a saving grace. Besides, who would look at Trixie and think ‘cold blooded killer?’ It makes sense to look at the ex-addict and let her take the bullet.

Thank god. Thank actual god, if they’re real, for letting this actually work. Trixie’s not even being questioned. She’s going to be far far away from this fucking hall. What time is it? Nearly ten. She could be in bed, sleeping peacefully, or at work. Perhaps she’s heard back from her new school, maybe she’s getting supplies for it? It doesn’t matter. She’s not in Katya’s shoes. She did it. They did it.

She tries to only think of that, of her fiance. There’s no looming deadline or court appearances.

The van she’s in the back of starts to slow down. She can’t quite look out of the window, but she sees the driving guard get out of the car. She releases her lips from her teeth, and everything stings.

It’s a shame fantasies only last for so long, that there’s only so much thought a person can put into it before it crashes and burns before them.

The van doors open. She is struck immediately by the bright light. Is it sunny in Miami?

“Out, please,” one guard instructs.

There’s no point arguing. Katya stands and leaves the vehicle. When she turns around, she sees a camera flash. It dazzles her for a moment, she feels like damn deer in headlights.

“Follow,” the other guard adds. The walk either side of her, blocking her from the worst of the paparazzi shouts. Katya doesn’t say anything, nothing at all. She focuses on putting one foot in front of the other, over and over again. Then, she goes from walking on pavement to walking on marble floors. Marble. Wood. Cheap school carpet.

The guards stay with her all the way. It’s comforting, or something like that.

“We just have to wait here for two seconds for your lawyer to come and get you.”

There’s a little restraint to the guard’s voice. Katya scowls at him.

“Is that weird?”

The guard shakes his head. “It happens sometimes. It was just the way the escorting works.”

It’s a blunt and simple answer that Katya kinda wants to pursue. However, she also has her priorities.

“My lawyer’s probably just didn’t want to be caught on film with a nasty jack-o-lantern like me,” Katya jokes. Neither of the guards laugh. They clearly don’t appreciate the highest class of comedy possible: weird bullshit.

Bianca enters the room. Katya turns to look at her. The words ‘speaking of the devil’ nearly leave her mouth, but they just don’t form. Her heart drops into her stomach. It’s real. It’s all fucking real. This is her damn preliminary hearing and it’s happening. She won’t get sentenced today, but it’s so damn close. There is nothing she can do anymore. She’s terrified.  Bianca offers her a pity smile.

“It’s time.”

 


 

 

Trixie’s heart swells as soon as the muttering in the room subsides. It’s like she can sense that Katya’s near. She can taste anticipation. She knew something was up the second the taller lawyer, not Courtney, left the room.

One security officer leads ahead of the group and another follows behind. Trixie can see the gun in his holster. She sees Bianca first, the tall cold demeanor blocking the view.

Then she’s there.

Most of the issues in Trixie’s life recently have been linked to the passing of time. Every time she’s tried to grasp something, it’s slipped through her fingers. Time escaped when she was with Katya, it sprinted when they kissed and it ran while she was waiting for this day. It’s like a freight train going off the rails, the irony of it raining whenever plans are made to go outside and the human race’s ability to care for one another; it’s unstoppable.

Trixie swears that time stops when she sees her.

The generic clothes that Katya is wearing are light grey. Trixie reckons she’s  been given them, they’re baggy and hang off her. The blonde hair that Trixie cut for her rests on her shoulders. She seems well groomed, which is a ridiculous thing to notice. The bruise by her eye has faded away. Trixie can’t help but feel good about that. There’s no visible damage, but the attack was a while ago now.

She’s only looking down at the ground. Trixie wants to stand up, she wants to scream and yell and stomp her feet until she notices. She wants to scream the word ‘love’ over and over until it loses meaning. She wants her to know. Trixie can’t live with herself if she doesn’t.

There’s a tear on Trixie’s cheek and she struggles to breathe. She needs to do it quietly, otherwise the others will make her leave. She can’t leave. She’s doomed herself to this now, the pain has started. Trixie doesn’t mind if it doesn’t heal. That’s okay, she promises.

Katya’s reached the stand. She’s given a seat. The hush in the room is so painfully obvious that Trixie feels sick to her stomach.

Every sentence she wants to say to her comes to her mind. She wants to confess about just how guilty she feels, how much she regrets letting her do this. She wants to smack her for playing them both like this and cry for causing more pain. She wants to write ‘SOS’ on their mouths with lipstick and smear it with kisses until only they know the history of the smudged meaningless symbols left on their faces. She wants to stroke her hair and tell her how strong she is. She wants to tell her she’s proud of her for healing and check she’s eating. She wants to go back to the moment they met and tell them to either hold each other so close they become one or to run, run far away so this never happens. Trixie’s mind aches with wants and wishes.

Mostly, she just wants to be honest with somebody again. She wants to be honest and tell Katya that she doesn’t feel too good. The most honest part would be how they know they can’t fix each other, but they could lend a hand. It could be so simple. It could have been so damn fucking simple.

The plastic ring burns against Trixie’s hand and Trixie needs the pain to keep her going.

“Are you okay?” Ginger whispers. There’s a thick quality to her voice that betrays just how not okay she is.

“Yes,” Trixie answers.

It’s a lie and Trixie feels damn ill.

The judge enters the room. Trixie is pulled up by Ginger’s hand. They stand there and for once Trixie is glad she’s so damn tall. Because Katya’s accidentally angled herself, and Trixie can see her face. She’s gorgeous, always beautiful. The look of complete dedication and resolution on Katya’s face makes her melt a bit. She can’t cry, but she could. Katya looks like a damn warrior, an amazon. Bravery, despite all of this, makes Trixie want to sob actually. Why is she so fucking used to being strong? Why does she always feel like she has to? Is it bad that that Trixie resents her for that? She’s making pretending look easy, when everybody can see through the chinks in Trixie’s armour.

Katya looks so wrong without red lips.

She got so caught up in her own head that she forgot to listen. She gets dragged back down with Ginger. Her heart is racing hard in her chest and Trixie wonders if it’ll ever beat this strong again.

Ginger doesn’t let go of her hand. She whispers and grits her teeth.

“Here we go.”

Chapter Text

She pleads guilty to killing him and the destruction on her mama’s face makes Katya want to cry. Somehow it feels like too little too late.

She spends most of the next hour staring at her hands. When she looks up, she can see Bianca’s face calculating the room and occasionally Courtney calmly stating the points they discussed. The prosecutor is one man who Katya doesn’t recognize. From the look on Bianca’s face, he’s making good points. Actually, both her and Courtney look a little worried. Katya refuses to think about it too much.

Trixie’s name has been dropped a few times. It’s that which frees her from this pool of thought she’s fallen in. It comes up as more of a ‘she was there’ than an accusation of wrong doing.  Katya’s not sure how she’d cope if somebody tried to rope Trixie into this. Could her reactions give her away?  Why didn’t Katya say to let Trixie blame her entirely? Not prosecuting seems weak, Katya can see that now. She should have committed. If she was going to be a martyr, she should have done it right.

They keep saying his name too. Every mention is accompanied by a memory and it’s digging deep into Katya’s head and she just wants it to be over. She just wants to get her sentence and for people to stop digging about. She pleaded guilty. Why do they have to argue this?

She should have killed him, at least then she could have had some satisfaction accompanied with this. There’s just guilt, wounds and secrets. It could have just been over.

The word abuse is being flung around too. The photos from after her capture are shown, there’s a statement from Max confirming that she saw the bruises. The mention of her neighbour brings up weird feelings in her. The girl seems to have her back, Katya barely even talked to her. Katya’s body freezes when Courtney says Trixie’s name again.

“Trixie Mattel also confirmed the abuse in her initial statement.”

It’s okay. She has to remind herself of that. That’s not an accusation. Trixie doesn’t have a court date. There’s no expectation. She’s in Wisconsin with her mom, as she should be.

Courtney says more things, and Katya can barely keep up with her. It’s a lot of facts tied together. Katya guesses she isn’t that hard to make sympathetic. Ex-druggie and burlesque dancer who recently got clean and took up yoga instructing who happened to get into an abusive relationship and panicked? It plays out well. It’s easy to make Katya into a trope, ‘hooker with a heart of gold’. Katya doesn't buy that, but hopefully this judge will.  It takes everything Katya has to not be snarky, to not stand up and say that there’s nothing wrong with dancing for a living and the only reason to quit was to get away from the nightlife. She wants to protest that her addictive personality has nothing to do with the fact that supposedly she 'accidentally stabbed a man in self-defense and then went haywire in the fallout'. She wants to tell them to butt the fuck out.

Courtney finishes her bit and sits down. Katya digs her fingernails into her knees. This is when she has to talk. She didn’t realize they’d gotten this far.

“Will the accused please take to the stand,” the judge announces. She’s a short woman, her New Jersey accent gives a nice sense of close to home. She continues talking, instructing the prosecution to ask Katya his questions.

Katya walks quickly and quietly. She refuses eye contact. She can’t do it. She takes her seat. Finally, she looks out. She sees Bianca and Courtney looking at her with so much pain in their eyes that Katya could believe they’d been friends forever. It’s almost like they care, and not that they’re getting paid to be here.The other lawyer approaches her before she gets a chance to look out any further.

“Firstly I will ask this, you had been with-”

“Please don’t say his name,” Katya jumps in. It spluttered out of her head. She can't be dealing with it. “I don’t want to cry.” 

There's surprise in the lawyer's expression. Really, Katya could laugh. She wouldn't cry because she misses him. 

“You had been with your partner for two years, correct?”

Katya is thankful for the sympathy. “Closer to a year and a half.”

“And you had lived together for six months at the time of the incident, correct?”

Katya nods. “Yep. We found a new flat and moved in there. My old one was a dump.”

It fucking was a dump. It’d had green walls and so many memories that she’d wanted to forget so scorched into it that she’d run as soon as she could.

“Now, you have said before that he was abusive towards you. How long had this been going on?”

Katya blinks. She must have said it, but she can’t remember where. Maybe the evidence spoke for itself? There’s a lump in her throat.

“It started non-physically. He’d tell me I shouldn’t go out so often,” Katya swallows. “That I was seeing too much of my friends. He was convinced I was cheating on him. We fought a lot. We always made up. That was from the beginning.” It feels so wrong to say this to a stranger. She’s not even told Trixie all of this. Nobody else knows a lick of any of this. “He’d tell me to lose weight, look prettier, all that shit. One day, he came to pick me up from work. He saw me chatting to a friend of mine, a colleague. I kissed her on the cheek before I left.” Katya remembers it so vividly that she shakes. She had never felt so scared. “We fought. When we got home, he slapped me.”

She remembers the shock of it, the sick feeling in her stomach, the tears he’d cried.

“At what point was this time-wise?”

“Five months ago? We’d lived together for a month when that happened.”

It doesn’t feel good to get it off her chest, it feels shit to remember it. She wishes she’d just told Trixie, that might have healed her a bit. She could have filled those memories with new cleaner memories of love, made new associations.

“Did it progress any further than what you’ve already discussed?”

Katya wraps a hand around her wrist and squeezes tightly. “He’d get angry more and more often. It turned into physical fights more than slapping.” Katya sighs. “He hated himself for it.” Her voice softens at some of the memories conjured. More than once he’d fallen asleep in her arms after bruising her, he’d cry out apologies and she’d forgive him. She feels a tear escape and she wipes at it. She won’t allow herself to weep for him. “I took it. Couldn’t bring myself to hurt him, I loved him. He just-” Katya can’t find the words. “He just couldn’t love me. And I didn’t realize until too late.”

She stopped looking at the lawyer at some point. When she looks back at him, she notices a softening to his features. Katya doesn’t smile, but at least she knows he’s human. It’s nice to remember that strangers are sometimes. It was nice to be honest before she lies as well. If he’s the one to try and manipulate her guilt, she might as well show him her truthful side. Let him see her healing and know that what he does isn’t always heroic at all.  Then again, from the bags under his eyes Katya guesses that maybe he doesn’t think he’s a hero at all.

“What happened on the night your partner was killed? Could you describe it?”

Oh boy, this is the big one she supposes. She can’t clash with Trixie’s story. That’d be bad news for everybody.

“I got a phone call from Trixie,” she starts. Her voice doesn’t catch on Trixie’s name, but it nearly does. “She’d just got into the school she’d been, like, looking up to for a few years. Crazy dedicated.” Katya has to resist making a joke to go with it. Oddly enough, she doubts that anybody here would appreciate that. “We decided to celebrate. She was coming to mine to pick me up. I went to tell him. He lost it.” She remembers the shouting and the screaming and the slaps and the pain and the damage. Fear. “He started hitting me, threw me over the table and broke it." Katya swallows. The smell of it fills her nose, the noises fill her head. “He smashed this bottle on the side and all this glass went everywhere. I picked up a knife. We struggled and it just, went in. He went down. He stopped breathing.”

She wonders if it reads as true. From what Trixie told her, it is what happened.

“Yekaterina, how many times did you stab him?”

She looks up and realizes she’d stopped talking. “Once. It was just the once.”

He nods almost satisfied with the answer. “What happened next?”  Looking back, she remembers waking up and holding Trixie in her arms.

“Trixie arrived. She knew where the spare key was and she let herself in.” Katya keeps her voice level. The minimum, she has to stay at the minimum. “You can imagine what she found, you probably have pictures. I forced her to stay.” She shivers, swallowing again. Looking over Courtney and Bianca, she sees that they are staring at her, encaptured. A little bit of confidence flares up, she must be doing okay. “I was kinda hysterical by this point. A bit of a mess. She calmed me down, got the knife out of my hand and threw it away.” Katya’s glad she thought of that, covered her fingerprints basis there. “I was scared. How could you not be? I just killed someone. I didn’t think-”

She remembers his body on the ground. God, he’s really dead. She doesn’t even miss him, but it didn’t really register that he’s completely gone.

“Miss Zamolodchikova, can you please continue?”

Shaking her head immediately, Katya tries to stay present. She picks up where she was. “Sorry. I-Um-Right, so I panicked. I got another knife and I made Trixie come with me. She didn’t want to, but I didn’t want to go to jail. I couldn’t go to jail. I’d just made a new life, I didn’t want it ruined.” She feels herself brushing over it. It’s true, she didn’t want to ruin Trixie’s life. She can make herself sound selfish. “I was going to make us head to Miami. She was going to come with me and we’d start again. She’s-She was my best friend, ya know? I wasn’t thinking straight.” It probably would have been best to just fess up, but how can Katya bring herself to regret it? “We packed stuff from my apartment. I remember Max knocked the door so I went and got it, pretended nothing happened. We packed from hers and we went.”

It’s succinct. Katya guesses it probably lacks the emotion. It marks her as not a bleeding heart. She won’t sob for her freedom, she will bite her tongue. She has managed to save Trixie from the destruction he has left in his wake, most of it at least. Who can take her dignity? Nobody, if she doesn’t give it to them.

A little sigh escapes the lawyer across from her. He shoots a look at the judge before returning his attention to Katya. “Why did you decide to avoid justice? In more detail, please.” It seems like an obvious question. If he’s smart enough to have a fucking law degree, how can he not connect the dots?

“Have you never been scared?” Katya asks, raising an eyebrow.“Are you always rational when you’re terrified? No. You’re too busy trying to get as far away from the danger as possible. Fight or flight. I picked flight, alright.  I went into freaking survival mode.”

Katya hears a cough. The sound snaps her attention and she looks at the cause. It’s her mother. Katya’s body stiffens again. Katya never has been the best at reading her mother, but she’s not happy. There’s no lightness to her features. It reminds her of every single fuck up she’s ever made, all of the looks of disappointment. She’s not even surprised, her mother doesn’t seem surprised that this is where they’ve ended up.The tears nearly come and it’s not out of desperation or need, it’s out of hopelessness.

“If you were so scared, why did you force Miss Mattel into the ordeal for so long? Did you never come to think that this might be unfair on your friend?”

“Objection!” is called by Courtney. She addresses the judge. “That question is inappropriate.”

There’s a beat before she responds. “Objection sustained.”

Courtney almost smiles. Katya’s head slows for a moment, at least somebody has her back.  The lawyer across from her nods in his consideration. “Fine. Do you feel there was anything you could have done to prevent the murder?”

It’s a good question. Katya could bite through her tongue pondering it. “I don’t know. I could have run, but he might have killed me.” It feels sad to admit it. How did that love turn so sour? Was it always like that? God, how she fucking despises him for ruining her like this. She hates the despite this, she still can't bring herself to fully hate him. “I could have run, and he might have let me go. How was I supposed to leave? It wasn’t an issue that he hit me.” The words slip out. She sees a little recoil in her mother, and Katya’s eyes are drawn to her again. There’s sadness in those eyes. “It wasn’t an issue that he hit me to me because I never really realized I was worth better.  I was supposed to be happy. Love pretty much is happiness. They’re freaking synonyms. If I’d realized that, I could have prevented it.

The words are intended to lift her mother up. They’re meant to say ‘I’ve grown and I’m a better person now. Please, still love me’. When her mama starts crying, it takes everything in her not to run to her. Not to shout, ‘I’ve found a sweeter love now! Mama! I’m happy!’. However, she’d probably get tazed in the process.

She hears a snort at the back of the hall, a tear related one. Katya frowns, looking back there for a moment. She doesn’t see anybody she recognizes. If only she had more height.

“Why have you decided to confess?” he asks.

Katya looks back at him. Both of her hands are clasped in her lap. She clears her throat, and recollects herself.

“Because I did it, and I’m not going to run anymore.”

The room is silent. There is no noise except the external city. She can remember falling asleep to that exact same sound, and a small smile crosses her lips. She’s home. Through all of the shit, this place will never change. The immortal city where the greatest years of her life have been lived. Her mother isn’t crying anymore. She returns the little smile that Katya shoots her. Is it odd that in this room, surrounded by officials and guards, she’s felt the most free she’s felt in months?

“No further questions.”

 


 

 

She is dismissed from the stand by the judge. Courtney doesn’t ask her any questions.  As Katya stands, her eyes flick to the back of the room. Who was crying?

It’s a stupid concern to have niggled into her head, but she can’t shake it. She spotted her mother walking in, she didn’t even bother looking for anybody else. Who else would even come? Unless she made a stranger cry, which she supposes could be a good sign. Any sympathy could be reflective of the judge's.  

She catches a glimpse of silver hair and she wonders if just maybe.

 


 

 

An hours recess is called. They’ve been here for what feels like forever. Katya is escorted by guards back into the small room she was tunneled into when she arrived. Courtney and Bianca accompany her and, due to the size of the group, Katya doesn’t get a better look to see if it’s really Max at the back.

It’s Courtney that breaks the silence.

“You did really well,” Courtney congratulates. “It was very moving.”

“That’s true. You nearly broke me, you bitch.”

Bianca whispers the last bit so that the guards outside the doors can’t hear it. Katya cracks a smile. “How much more is there to go?”

Courtney and Bianca exchange a look. Katya can’t tell if it’s one out of panic or if they’re silently debating the matter. It’s kinda mystical.

“The rate we’re going-” Bianca starts.

“I think you could get sentenced either tomorrow or the day after. The trial will be over tomorrow. We only have two hours left. Visage will want more time to make her sentence. She values her time.”

Bianca nods. “Good woman.”

There’s worry deep in Katya’s chest, but she ignores it. If there’s anything this world has taught her, it’s how to persevere through nerves.

“Ever thought about becoming a judge Bianca?”

There’s a small laugh from Bianca, it’s oddly comforting. Katya doesn’t think she’s ever managed that before.

“I’m too much of a nasty bitch to do that. Let me have my damn bias.”

They relax for a moment. Katya sees Courtney smile at Bianca. She can imagine them laughing together after a long day at work and Katya is happy for them to have each other. Then again, maybe they’re just associates. Katya could just be projecting her own thoughts onto them.

“She’s secretly a big softie, cares too much really.”

She sees Bianca poke Courtney in the side, which makes Katya feel remarkably better. It’s easy to pretend this is fun and games if other people play along.

The hour carries on like that. Easy dialogue passes around the three of them. Katya wonders if maybe they’re supposed to brief her on how it’s going, in more detail than they already have. There seems to be a joke cracked per minute. They’re still prepared, Katya realizes. Nothing has changed to make their preconceptions change, they don’t need to use this time. Her body turns cold. That means their ideas of how long Katya could be put away for won’t have changed either.

The idea that she wasn’t going to be a free woman for a long time was fine, but then her mother came. She came. All she’s done is disappoint her. How is she meant to be okay with that?

“Katya?”

She came all the way from Boston to see her. Katya doesn’t really know why, but she’d assumed her mother stopped caring. She remembers being little and sneaking into her mama’s room. They’d speak in hushed Russian and Katya’s mom would brush her hair. Unconditional love. She helped her through rehabilitating her life after booze and drugs, she never judged. Every phone call ended with ‘I love you’ because Katya genuinely thought for a little while she might not get to say it much longer.

“It was easier to think she didn’t care than that she might. That rotted cunt,” Katya whispers. She laughs, wrapping her arms around herself. Something starts to pour into her soul for the first time. Is that regret?

“Who?” Courtney asks.

“My mom’s here.”

There’s a look exchanged with Bianca. Courtney bites her lip and tuts once. “Katya, that-that sucks?”

The level of informality makes Katya smile again. “It’s okay. I just- I didn’t prepare for it. She cried and I- I don’t really prepare for much anyway, I just sort of fall through life by, what’s the word? Eternally screaming?”

“That’s two words,” Bianca interrupts. Courtney flicks her. “What?”

Katya just lied under oath in front of her fucking mama. God, if there’s ever a time to fucking hate herself.

She forces a neutral expression. “At least she didn’t see me a few weeks ago? I think the bruises would have upset her even more. Thank somebody for my quick healing physique.” She snorts. 

“I mean, if she’s half of your genetics, surely you should thank her?” Courtney points out.

Pointing a finger, Katya grins at her. “This is why we keep you around.”

Courtney nods back. “You have healed well though.”

Katya supposes she has. Externally, definitely. Internally, who knows? She doesn’t have as many nightmares as she used to and that’s all she can ask for.

“Why did she come?” Katya asks. She tucks herself into a ball and rests her chin on her knees. Time to comfort herself, she guesses. “How does she still even have the energy to care? I would have given up on me fucking years ago. I did a few times.” She forces a laugh, and Katya can hear how empty it is. The amount of fakery is starting to disgust her.

“Because she loves you,” Courtney responds. She’s sat on her chair across from Katya. “ That’s not how it always works, but you’re one of the lucky ones.” She’s not really sure if that’s supposed to help; it doesn’t. It seeps into the wound and makes it sting even more.

“Come on Katya,” Bianca interjects. “Hate to be blunt, well that’s not true, but your mom will fucking forgive you. It was self-defense. I get that you thought she might feel worn down by your damn past, but you got past it, didn’t you?”

Katya rolls her eyes. “I did a little bit more than punch him back because he hit me first, but thanks.”

Courtney shakes her head at her partner, though Katya thinks it’s more out of humour than anger. After a moment of this, she turns back to Katya.

“Would you have rather everybody that came hadn’t? I can talk to them if you’d like.”

Katya frowns. She brings her legs even closer to her chest. “I mean, it’s cool that my mom’s here.  She has a right. And you are both right, I do love her.” Bianca and Courtney exchange another look. These looks are really starting to piss Katya off, are they fucking psychic? “Wanna include me in the conversation?”

Courtney grimaces before turning to Katya. The gaze carries a solemn quality. What now?  “Have you spotted anybody else in there?”

A little bit of panic starts to sneak into Katya’s heart. Is his family here? She imagines they probably are. They must be. God, how they must hate her. It makes sense, she guesses. They’re here for the same reason Katya’s mother is, love. How can Katya live with herself? How can she lie to them all? Should she feel bad for that? It doesn’t make any difference. If Trixie had confessed, then their son would still be dead. What they don’t know doesn’t hurt them. Katya can believe in white lies in a time like this, when it hurts the least people.

“I didn’t get a proper look,” Katya says. Turning to look at her co-worker again, Courtney is tense. “No. Don’t do this whole telepathy thing on me. ” She can feel the frustration sinking in.

Courtney has a pen in her hand and she’s gripping it tightly. She can feel the handle of it sinking into her flesh.

“Your neighbor, Max, is here. She’s with, as I have been informed, your friends Violet and Ginger.” It’s a little punch to the stomach. They still care too? After seeing them on the TV, Katya had assumed they’d disown her. What has Katya done to fucking deserve the people she has. Courtney sighs. “I had a long talk with Trixie Mattel on the phone about whether her coming would affect your case or perhaps bring her into the spotlight, which she understandably wants to avoid. We came to the conclusion that her presence wouldn’t be a problem and she is also with your other friends.”

Katya’s heart damn stops before it starts up again beating four times as hard. She’s here. There’s no way. She just spent hours in a room with her fucking betrothed and she didn’t know? She’s in the building. Trixie’s okay. She’s okay. Her mind races. Was she the one crying? Why is she with Max? Holy fuck, it’s hard to breathe. Is she okay? What’s she planning on doing? She better not fucking confess. Katya can’t lose Trixie, she can’t know that she’s not okay. She is only pulling herself through it knowing that Trixie will be at the other end. Apparently, Trixie is here too.

“I thought she was with her mom,” Katya whispers. She’s almost surprised with herself for not crying, but she doesn’t want to show tear stained cheeks to anybody. Nobody deserves that.

Courtney snorts. “So did I. Are you okay with her being here?”

Katya nods before she even think it through. “If Trixie wants to be here, that’s up to her.” Courtney nods, Katya assumes that was the same answer Courtney gave her. Great minds. Katya swallows, it hurts a little bit. “Is she okay?”

Bianca nods. She’s walked to the window and is looking down the street. “She’s fine. Little bit shaken up from what I saw of her though. Makes sense. You weren’t exactly the best to her.”

It hurts, but Katya knows it shouldn’t. She’s tried to do her best for Trixie. They just don’t know that. Katya keeps her mouth shut and thinks about Trixie. Is she’s still feeling guilty? How has she healed? Has she grown to resent her? Is she back at school yet? How have the others reacted to her being home? Were they all okay whilst she was gone? Violet’s here. Katya loves Violet. How is she? Still a bit of a bitch? Katya’s been trying not to think about home, but she can’t help it now she’s back. She fucking misses all of them. How’s Ginger? She had a new acting job down the line. She must be rehearsing that. Is she enjoying it? Katya fucking loves watching her plays, she won’t admit it though. How’s Fame doing? She doesn’t cope well with stress, and she imagines she’s been stressed. Hopefully she’ll feel better when this is all cleared up, they all will.

There’s no guilt in Katya’s stomach. There’s so resentment, a bit of regret but she can’t bring herself to feel guilt for it right now. He’s dead, and Katya doesn’t really know how to feel about that. In this moment, all she can think about is how much she misses everybody. She wants to kiss her mom on the cheek, she wants to hold Trixie, she wants to slap Violet’s ass and watch her panic before realizing it’s just Katya. She wants to go home. She just wants to go home.

 


 

 

The guards knock on the door. She’s swept away back into that room. This time, she knows what she’s facing. She’s less worried. She doesn’t stare at her feet, she looks straight ahead. This time, she’s more aware of her acting. She has to be strong for Trixie.

As she walks in, her vision flicks to the side. There’s nobody to block her view this time.

Trixie stares back at her. Katya’s legs turn weak, she almost falls to her knees. Trixie looks okay, from the quick view she gets of her. There’s nothing obviously wrong, maybe she’s a little thin and maybe she looks a little pale but that’s it. Given the circumstances, Katya is thankful there’s nothing more.

She wants to run to her, hold her face in her hands and fucking sob. She wants the world to stop for twenty minutes and for it to be okay. She just wants them both to be okay.

Does she still feel guilty? Does she blame herself for this? Does she cringe every time Katya’s lied?

Katya hopes she doesn’t, but she doubts it.

 


 

 

The next two hours go quicker. There’s no talking from Katya necessary, she watches her fate be debating straight in front of her. Evidence is debated. Statements from the lawyers. Katya doesn’t know a lot about court lingo. However, she knows when the male lawyer says “the offence rests” that they’re close to the end.

After that, Courtney talks for almost half an hour straight. Katya’s past, her rehabilitation, is brought up. The abuse is casually mentioned once fucking more. At the end, Courtney says “the defense rests” and Katya’s mouth turns dry.

All eyes to the judge. Katya digs her fingernails into her palms. Is this it?

“We will reconvene at ten tomorrow for the final sentencing. Court dismissed.”

Katya sighs out her held breath. As she is escorted from the courtroom to the van, she spots Trixie at the back. There’s tear tracks running down her cheeks, Katya’s guilt punches her in the jaw.

Then she’s through the doors, outside for a moment with flashing cameras and in a van. If she tilts her head, she can see New York streets fly past. She watches them; she doesn’t know when she will be able to next.

 


 

 

It’s dark and the day has been exhausting. Trixie slams her apartment door shut after her and slides down the back of it. When she reaches the bottom, her body relaxes into the ground. She feels like a fucking deadweight.

It should have been her. It should have been her getting all of those words slammed into her. It’s not fair. What has she done? What the fuck has she done?  The tears start to pour and she hates herself for it. It’s useless, what’s the point in crying when she doesn’t feel better afterwards?

She fucking hates herself. She’s fucking pathetic. Behind closed doors, she’ll sob and scream and hold Katya so deep in her heart that removing her would kill Trixie. In public, she lies. All she does is fucking lies. She’ll pretend nothing is wrong, joke about Katya like she always used to, insult her if the need be. Trixie is a traitor. She is a dirty sinner, why did Katya think she deserved freedom over her? What was the thought behind this?

Trixie can’t live with herself. How is she meant to go and watch the sentencing tomorrow? How is she meant to remain passive? Every time Katya looked at her today, Trixie's blood boiled and she died. She died today.

She won’t make it through tomorrow without condemning them both. Can she own up to her lies without dragging Katya through the dirt? Wave a white flag and shout ‘I’m the monster!’ and not drag Katya’s fucking sentence out? She saw the judge today, she saw the flashes of sympathy in her eyes. Trixie will give Courtney and Bianca their due, they are both extremely good at what they do.

A little shimmer of hope circles around her brain, maybe Katya will be a free woman tomorrow evening. Perhaps Trixie will be held by someone who understands tomorrow. They could run and never be followed and Trixie would never have to act okay again.

The world is not simple. Trixie detests pretending that it is. Life used to seem so black and white. Why didn’t she value life when it was easier? When she had a flat and a job and a best friend and it was all okay?

Her heart is thumping hard in her chest. She wants to rip open her rib cage and free it to the world. Let the world know her pain, let them know what she’s done to herself. The world is allowed to know that she is bleeding out.

How sick she is of this.

Chapter Text

Katya doesn’t sleep. She tosses and turns over and over again on the hard mattress. There’s noises and phrases and sensations and names running through her head. It just won’t calm. She won’t rest tonight. It’s impossible, she doesn’t really know why she considered it.

She’ll sleep when she’s dead too.

This is getting tiring. There’s a cycle of inescapable stress and Katya feels like tearing her hair out. The pattern seems to be worrying about tomorrow, worrying about the fallout and worrying about Violet, Fame, Ginger, Kim, her mom and Trixie. Everytime she falls back onto worrying about Trixie, she worries about herself again. It got too much earlier and she threw up into the toilet a few steps away. It’s nice to let something negative out, even if she is hungry now and her mouth tastes weird. It's nice to vent. 

She wants to pray to god, but she doesn’t believe in him. She wants to talk to her mom, but that’s impossible; even if she could, what would she say? How could she begin to explain everything that’s happened?

She shuts her eyes and imagines her mother smiling. She imagines Trixie smiling, kissing her again. It feels okay for a moment. She imagines Violet laughing at them, hugging Katya afterwards and holding the back of Katya’s head with her hand. Katya’s never seen her hug anybody else like that, and it’s always made her feel special. She continues to picture her friends. Ginger would slap her for making her worry so much. Kim would hold her in that light and hesitant way that screams ‘I don’t know what I’m doing’ but continues to be endearing. Pearl would hug her and probably squeeze her ass in the process, a joke they’re all far to used to now. This is better. This is less painful than it was.

There’s a point when the sun starts to rise. Light pours into the cell. She is drawn away from her night of daydreaming and plunged back into reality. Her hours are in single figures. She is limited in an undetermined way and it’s filling her ribs up with worry. Everything is swimming around her head. Every concern, every person, every memory, every kiss, every bruise. Is it possible to be in a state of euphoria and horror simultaneously? All the emotions from the last few months leading up to this collapse in at once. Her mind is a wreck.

There’s steps walking down the corridor. Voices address her name and she tries to shake the disillusion off. She needs to return to the real world and knows it. She sums up an image of Trixie’s smile, pink lipstick, to give her the willpower to look at the door. Those guards are back.

“Stand back,” one instructs. Katya rolls her eyes, she’s not even stood up.

Her stomach lurches as they enter the cell. She wonders if there’s still tear tracks on her face. Will these people know her weakness? Does she care if they do? Does it matter at all what anybody but the people she loves think of her? Then again, Katya could contest if tears represent weakness anyway. Does it matter what anybody at all thinks of her? Does anything fucking matter?

There’s a flash of pity in a guard’s eyes and she takes it back. It does matter to her what they think of her. She wants to be in control and she isn’t. If she knows one way to manipulate her world, it's through her words. 

“Did you miss me?” she asks.

One seems taken aback, the other blanks her. It’s enough to make Katya smile.

 


 

 

The overwhelming sugary taste of Ginger’s morning coffee does nothing to sweeten her mood. She managed to sleep at least, even if her head is pounding. She just got out of the subway and is now walking to the court with a cup clasped in her head. The sunlight is pouring onto the city. It doesn’t feel right. It should be raining, hailing, instead of bright. The world shouldn't be pleasant. 

She sees the building in the distance. Ginger wouldn’t, couldn’t, turn around and go home. She wishes she was one of those people sometimes, but she has to see something through to the end. She will watch this, she will be a witness. She will look at Katya and remember everything that she can take blame for. Whatever happens, she will put on a smile and go to work tomorrow. She’ll power through this.

Her hand is shaking, and she can’t stop it. She forces it into her pocket, and carries on smiling.

 


 

 

There’s mournful silence in Violet’s apartment. She’s glad that Max seems to share the emotion;  there’s been no clinging or attempted comfort. They coexist in peace. Getting ready, there’s a point when Violet sees tears start to fill Max’s eyes. She reaches over, kisses her shoulder and carries on as she was. It’s little things, Violet supposes, that make this easier.

They are ready and about to leave Violet’s apartment. Max takes her hand. “Whatever happens, this will be okay.” 

Violet sees the distance in her eyes. She’s not really sure who she’s saying it for. Violet nods along, a part of her feeling like she should be angry with Max for caring this much about someone she didn’t really know that well. However, Violet really doesn’t have the energy to be any more upset than she is.

“I know,” Violet answers. It’s true, that doesn’t mean it feels like it. “You will be okay Max.”

Frowning at her for a moment, Max eases up. “Thank you Darling.”

The pet name isn’t overkill, so Violet allows it. There’s something nice about it. Although, she thinks it might cross some sort of line. Max pulls her out of the apartment, and she realizes how 'coupley' the last few days have been. The affection, support, hand holding, sex and embraces. It seems normal, like what regular people have.

Max pulls her through the door and Violet locks it after them. There’s a satisfying click. Violet knows that this little limbo they’re been living in dies today, she doesn’t know how she feels about that.

 


 

 

Trixie’s heart has raced through the night. The day before runs through her head over and over again. Every single look that she witnessed on Katya’s face. It’s so odd seeing her without a smile. It was so odd.

Trixie lays in bed in her underwear. Her makeup from yesterday is crusted onto her face, she wasn’t even wearing a lot. What was she thinking. She wasn’t thinking, she guesses. Each heart beat feels like another bolt of pain.

What was Katya feeling? Could she even begin to guess at the ache that the few looks they exchanged caused her? It hurts so fucking much. How is she supposed to go on like this? Her mother called her yesterday, she’s not really sure what the time was, and Trixie ignored it. She couldn’t talk to her mom having seen the tears from Katya’s mother. That’s her fault. Trixie robbed Katya’s mom of more time with her. She caused this somehow, she knows that.

It’s morning now. She thinks she might have slept, maybe. There’s a possibility that it happened, everything’s sort of merging into one.

If she wants to go, if she wants to see the love of her fucking life torn away from her, she needs to leave. She needs to force her tired muscles into action and just move. Pull on clothes, wipe her make-up off and walk. It takes her a moment longer than she’d like it to have, but she manages it. Her head is foggy and her body is weak and there’s so many things in her screaming that she doesn’t know what she’s doing. However, she will manage it.

 


 

 

The trip seems to take less time for Katya than it did the day before. It seems like she jumps in the van and drives for five minutes and they’re there again. There’s cameras again, just a small cluster like there was yesterday. She’s escorted back into the waiting room; Bianca and Courtney already wait there for her.

“Good morning,” Katya says. Courtney repeats the sentence and Bianca grumbles something unintelligible. She’s sits down again and watches the two lawyers. “So, how many people make jokes about your name having the word court in it?” she asks Courtney.

There’s a laugh. “Far too many,” Courtney answers. There’s a few moments of silence. Katya’s desperately trying to not let her head run her into the ground. She starts listing things in the room in her head.

Table. Chair. Lawyer one. Lawyer two. Window. Door.

“Are you okay Katya?” Bianca asks, scowling at her.

Lamp. Books. Papers. Dust. Light. Briefcase. Prisoner.

Katya doesn’t answer.

 


 

 

Fame and Kim wait inside for Trixie. They’d arranged it through text about twenty minutes previously. Upon seeing her, Fame throws her arms around her.

Trixie feels nothing but dread and worry, so she squeezes Fame hard.

 


 

 

Kim, Fame, Ginger, Max, Violet and Trixie all find their place at the back of the room. Trixie watches that clock tick away again.

“I saw you on a few news websites yesterday, did you avoid getting your photo taken today?” Fame asks. She’s wrapped her hand around Trixie’s and it keeping her secure. She’s glad, Trixie thinks she might have bolted from the room otherwise. Sweat is starting to drip down her brow, she hasn’t showered and she must smell horrific.

How can she let Katya go through with this? Is she allowed to be angry at Katya for playing this so well that Trixie can’t move? Checkmate.

“Let them do what they want,” Trixie responds. She’s right. She can’t find it in herself to give a damn fuck what anybody else thinks.

Fame holds tighter. “Do you want a distraction?” It’s so weirdly phrased that Trixie frowns at her. There’s a little sickness crawling in her stomach, hasn’t she been making enough excuses for herself to not think about things? In some small way, isn’t that what she did for Katya too? Let her not think. No, it was more than distraction. It definitely was. Of course. Trixie couldn’t live with herself if it wasn’t. “If we get to paint the walls when we move in together, what do you reckon we should paint the living room?”

It takes a moment before Trixie chuckles. She feels good feelings for a moment. “I love you so much.”

Fame smiles at her. “Not an answer.”

“Hot pink,” Trixie says. “What else?”

Fame bites her lip and hums; there’s mischief in her eyes. “What about yellow?” Trixie shakes her head. “Turquoise?” Trixie hums her dissent. “Orange?” Trixie dismisses it with a snort.

“What the fuck are you talking about?” Violet jumps in, talking across Ginger and Max.

“What colour we’re going to paint our flat?” Fame confesses. There’s a tiny smile in her face, her skin is paler than it usually is and her eyes are dull. Trixie sighs, readying herself to defend Fame.

Max raises an eyebrow. “What are the options?”

“I think light purple can make any room look fabulous-”

“They’re not painting their flat violet, Violet,” Ginger says, shaking her head.

Fame tells them the options. As a group, they duke it out. Kim and Max defend hot pink, Ginger is Team Orange and Violet sulks over purple getting shot down. It’s entertaining to watch, and it keeps Trixie on the face of the earth instead of deep inside her own imagination. She wonders if they’re all aware of how ridiculous a way of coping this is.

“The majority says hot pink Trix. Good with you?” Fame asks. Trixie nods. When does her lease run out again? When can this be put into action? Katya would cry laugh if she came home to a bright pink room, tell her off for forcing Fame through her dollhouse fantasy. Then again, who says Katya’s going to come home soon enough to see it?

More people are arriving and Trixie feels sick. Then again, she’s barely slept or eaten so that’s to be expected.

Kim notices, of course she does.

“Trixie, have you-”

“Our bathroom!” Trixie shouts. The others glare at her. “What colour will we paint the bathroom?”

They all stare at her and seem to simultaneously reach the conclusion to let it go.

 


 

 

The bathroom ends up being torn between yellow and red. The idea of waking up to seeing bright, juicy red every morning is a nightmare. It’s too close to so many things, too much. Too much Katya. 

“Yellow,” Trixie decides. There’s no deliberation.

Violet swears, Max agreeing with the sentiment. Kim and Ginger downplay their victory. Fame watches on like nothing’s wrong at all.

 


 

 

One of Katya’s lawyers shows up, Courtney. She exchanges a nod with Trixie.

Time is ticking, it’s getting closer.

The group has fallen back into silence. The playful nature to their previous conversation having slowly died off. She feels a little faint. How could it have come to this?

 


 

 

One of the guards enters, he clears his throat opposed to actually talking to them. Bianca nods at him before turning to Katya. They’d been sitting in quiet companionship.

“You ready?” Bianca asks. Katya immediately shakes her head and Bianca laughs. “You don’t have much choice. Feel free to resist and piss off Visage though, that’d totally help you right now.”

Katya had already stood up to go before Bianca finished her sentence. “I’m not stupid. Any last minute tips?”

Bianca smiles at her, leading her to the door. “Pay your taxes”

Katya blinks before snorting. “Yeah. That’ll help me where I’m going.”

Suddenly, there’s a hand on Katya’s shoulder for just a second. It’s Bianca’s, and it’s a light touch. Bianca keeps hard eye contact for a second, stilling herself by the door.

“You won’t be there forever. Remember that.”

Blinking again, Katya feels like a deer in headlights. The hand is removed, and Bianca carries on walking ahead of her.

 


 

 

The silent fuss occurs. Violet’s arms shoot up with goosebumps. She prays that Katya looks mildly healthier than yesterday, or even more at peace. The look on Katya’s face yesterday will haunt her otherwise, it was so empty. It was fucking desolate.

There’s the guard and then he taller lawyer, the hard as rocks one. Suddenly, it’s Katya. Violet’s still not used to the cut of her hair, she’s a little confused about when that happened. It looks good, she guesses.  If she doesn’t look into the emotion of her features, Violet guesses she looks okay. A little thinner than Violet’s used to seeing her, a little paler too. She supposes she probably just looks out from the lack of makeup. Violet isn’t a maternal person, but she wants to just run, grab Katya’s hand and get her breakfast. It hurts more than she’d like to admit that she can’t do that.

Katya looks over at them as a group. There’s something unsaid in her eyes, exhaustion? Violet breaks just a little. Max’s grip tightens on her hand. There’s so much pain in Violet that she clutches onto Max and she won’t let go. Their skin must be turning white from the hard grip, but Violet doesn’t know how she’ll cope without it.

 


 

 

Trixie’s mouth turns dry when Katya looks at her. Tears well in her eyes. Help her, Trixie thinks. She hopes for a miracle. She needs a miracle. She clings to the plastic ring on her finger, the one she left on last night, and hopes that Katya somehow can feel it.

 


 

 

Ginger doesn’t hold onto anybody’s hand. Fame is clinging to Trixie’s knee and Ginger isn’t needed there. Max and Violet have each other next to her. Kim has sat on the other side of Fame. There’s nobody to tether herself to, to support herself with. So, she watches Katya and freefalls. That’s one of her best friends. They have so many memories, so much history, so much experience of  each other. She is an honest soul that has been betrayed by so many people. There’s so much fucking regret. Katya was supposed to have overcome this, she was supposed to be better. She had it together. Ginger was supposed to watch her business grow, and her fall in love, and have her come to her shows, and hug her. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

 


 

 

Fame’s breath catches in her throat. Her and Katya have shared so fucking much. There’s been times when Fame’s nearly fallen off the wagon and Katya’s gripped her hand and kept her on. They may not have been the closest in their friendship group, but Fame always felt like she could rely upon her. She hopes she knows. She should have made Katya feel more loved. Could that have helped?

Fame looks over at Trixie. Trixie’s mouth gapes open, and she looks a little green. If she throws up, what’s the protocol? She casts an eye quickly over all of the others too. Ginger is staring on with her brows furrowed, her body tense. Max looks like the embodiment of shock, worry, and her eyebrows are lifted up. She is holding onto Violet with one hand and running the other over her knee. Kim’s lips form a tight line.

Fame doesn’t feel anger easily. She is ready to forgive, she is empathetic and it’s a part of her strength. She is pissed that Pearl isn’t here. She is furious that she hasn’t even responded to any of her texts. It’s not even like Pearl and Katya share any bad blood, she can’t understand it. It’s pathetic and it’s disrespectful. Fame won’t have it.

 


 

 

Katya’s knees nearly buckle again seeing her friends. She’s too weak for this. She feels queasy on her feet. Faint. None of them look particularly well either. Trixie looks the worst, and she hates that. It makes this whole thing so much harder. Then again, Katya probably doesn’t look her best.

She sees her mother. It’s a fresh feeling that drags her out of that pit. Her mother nods at her and Katya nods back. There’s no tears, no extreme feeling. It’s a simple exchange.

Katya is seated. As soon as she sits, the dread sinks in. She has to wait for the judge to arrive. Tapping her fingers against the wooden desk, she focuses on the gentle rhythm. She tries not to think about everybody in the room, her future, anything. She tries to not divulge the voices in her head. She knows what’s going to happen, she doesn’t need to remind herself.

However, that doesn’t necessarily stop her head from screaming. It doesn’t stop her from being scared. It doesn’t stop the worry of her future. She has so many questions and the answers are more than terrifying.

She sees Courtney and Bianca exchanging some notes. They don’t even have to do anything today except give some summaries. The other lawyer looks relaxed, calm. Katya kinda wants to punch him. Hard. Although, she can’t really blame him for any of this. It’d be nice if she could. She’d like to scream at someone, use her fucking brain and rip someone down. It’d be nice to not be passive for just a minute.

She has to be though. She’s made her choices, and those require her to be passive. The reason that Trixie is sat at the back of this hall is because she can be passive. Trixie is okay because of her brain, that is how Katya can rip into these people. She knows something they don’t. She’s almost won. It’s nearly over.

A little smile threatens to occur, despite the misery in the room. Whatever happens, Katya has saved someone. She got Trixie out and she’s safe. Katya might not always like herself, she still feels the damage that her past has left her with, but she still has that. If there’s one thing she can do to appease her guilt, it’s through that. It’s through helping someone she loves, doing good things.

She thinks that that’s the key to a lot of things. Healing, guilt, happiness, the key to all of it is doing good. She has done bad things, had bad things happen and all of this is despite her doing good. Sometimes, shit just happens. She has to believe in something, it’s going to be good. She guesses that the yoga instructor in her shows sometimes.

There’s commotion and Katya holds her breath.

 


 

 

It hadn’t really seemed real, Kim doesn’t think, until she got here. It’d all been about taking care of other people. Kim is upset. Well, that’s an understatement. She thinks she gets it better know; she understands why Trixie hurts the way she hurts. There was something in the look that her and Katya exchanged, they understand each other. Trixie truly has forgiven Katya for forcing her to come, she understands. They each are mourning for each other. The loss that Trixie has been expressing is mirrored in Katya. There’s so much pain.

The judge has a cold exterior. The robes that she wears don’t seem to give her power, she commands it. There’s something to her that draws attention. Kim’s mildly in awe of it. If Kim could recreate the regality of her face in her own makeup jobs, she’d be intensely happy with herself.

She orders court into session and she remembers how she’s meant to despise this woman. This woman is the one that will dictate just how Katya’s life goes, how Trixie’s goes as a result.

 


 

 

Courtney stands up to talk. Katya finds it easy to absorb the moment. There’s not really a lot said, just formalities. Courtney mostly repeats what she said yesterday, pleads to Judge Visage’s emotional side. She claims that a prison sentence for Katya, given her unstable mental state and addictive personality, would damage her. Katya was wondering how long it’d take for Courtney to have to use that. She can’t say she’s a hundred percent happy about being analyzed directly in front of her. It’s probably time for her to get used to being dehumanized. Katya looks at Visage’s expression. Katya can’t measure it, she keeps her lips in a tight line.

After Courtney, the male lawyer gives his speech. He brings up how that psychiatrist Katya had an hour long ‘conversation’ with weeks ago said she was unstable. He says that she needs time to rehabilitate within a safe environment and make sure she’s safe to be in public. Katya partly wants to stand and say just how bullshit that is. She wants to say that she had literally just been arrested so of course she wasn’t compliant and seemed self-destructive. Katya fucking probably is self-destructive, but not in the way he made it sound. She isn’t a bomb that will hurt other people, there’s emphasis on the self.

Katya wraps her hand around her wrist and squeezes hard. Anything she can do to keep her mind straight, to keep the anger out. She can’t afford an outburst of any emotion because that would support his damn argument. He’s played her. She’s got to stay quiet.

She detests him.

Visage deliberates. It’s easy to see the struggle in her face. Katya stares at her blankly. She can’t shy away from this. Let her know that the decision she makes impacts her. It impacts her mother too, it impacts the life Trixie will lead. Katya can’t allow her to back away from the human impact. This is about justice after all.

“I’ve made my decision. Yekaterina Zamolodchikova,” she says. The pronunciation is perfect. Katya’s mouth drops a little as she looks at her. The world tenses. The clock ticks. Everyone in the room leans in. “I am finding you guilty on charges of averting justice and manslaughter.”

Katya hears white noise. She saw it coming, but she wasn’t prepared. Oh god.

She hears Courtney whisper. “Katya, it’ll be-”

“I sentence you to a maximum of ten years in confinement.” Ten years. Ten. That’s, so much gone. That’s her future wiped out. Everything will change. Ten. Holy fuck. Holy fucking fuck. Visage is staring at her and Katya feels weak. “I do not believe that there was any malice behind your actions, but there is no excuse for running for as long as you did. You knew you had done wrong and you refused to accept the consequences, despite your actions being in self-defense.” Katya considers running. “I hope that this time will allow you to recuperate from your ordeal. I am going to insist that you receive psychiatric help. With full cooperation and recovery, I believe that you could be reintegrated into society sooner.”

She slams the gavel and Katya’s mind stops. Everything flashes by. She wants to claw and scream, but her muscles won’t move. She sees Bianca and Courtney shake hands with the other lawyer. They exchange words. Bianca shoots her a look of sadness. Pity, even from Bianca it’s pity. Doesn’t it ever end?

There’s guards by her shoulders. One of them holds out handcuffs, and Katya could hurl.

No. No. No. No, this can’t fucking be. This wasn’t supposed to happen. She looks over her shoulder and finds her mother’s eyes. Mama stares at her, she mouths ‘I love you’ to Katya. Katya’s heart drops to her stomach. She can’t control the tears that escape as she’s cuffed.

Bianca and Courtney come to flank behind her as she’s walked out. Katya doesn’t know what’s going to happen now, even immediately. Does she get to talk to Courtney and Bianca again? Is she taken straight there?  

Ten years.

A decade.  

She is forced to walk. She keeps her eyes on her mom, she walks as close as she can. “I love you. I’m sorry,” she says. The room is quiet, although Katya can’t read if that’s out of courtesy or shock.

Her mom blows her a kiss. Katya shatters just a little bit more. What if she gets sick and Katya can’t be there? What about her dad? She doesn’t know why he’s not here, whether he couldn’t make it or had to stay in Boston or if he couldn’t do it. Katya won’t deal with that.

She carries on walking. She spots her friends. Violet looks distraught. It nearly makes her laugh through tears. Violet is the definition of someone having a look that could kill, Katya thinks Violet's aim is to turn at least three different people to stone. Max has an arm wrapped around Violet, her hand clutching at her shoulder. Kim has Fame pulled against her chest as Fame sobs. Fame is trying to wipe away the tears, keep a strong exterior but it hasn’t worked. Bless her. Ginger looks at her blankly, there’s nothing behind her eyes.

Katya’s world flips for a moment when her eyes settle on Trixie. Her heart beats hard and she’d do anything to show her it. Trixie stares at her, her mouth having fallen open. They share a moment. Katya looks at her and she becomes breathless. She hopes she’s taking care of herself, she hopes she does. Katya just wants to hold her. She's so sorry. So fucking sorry.  Trixie blinks at her twice before smiling. Slowly, she raises her hand to her mouth. Katya sees the pink ring on her finger. She almost falls to the ground when Trixie kisses it. Her tears fall harder, faster, thicker.

She loves her. She loves her and they have to spend ten years apart.

Suddenly, Trixie’s out of view. They’re in the hallway. Time merges into nothing. At some point, she walks past a mirror. She sneaks a look at herself. If she squints, she swears that she can see the bruise around her eye in the reflection. Maybe, she always will.

Chapter Text

Trixie feels pain and nothing else. It’s been a fucking week. She can’t get her head out of that court room. She hears it over and over and how is it meant to feel? How is she meant to feel anything better at all?  Coping is an uphill struggle. 

People have visited. She doesn’t really know how, doesn't care. Kim comes in and cleans; Fame comes in and strokes Trixie's hair for a bit. They both signed her off work for two weeks. Her bosses don’t know how to navigate it. She could probably get away with anything.

Her mobile has rung a few times. It’s probably only her mother, maybe a sibling. It could be the messiah for all she cares. How is she supposed to fucking do anything except lay in bed? She hardly moves to eat. She mourns for the life ripped from her.

There’s keys in her door. She waits in bed and closes her eyes, expecting Kim’s voice to flood her ears.  She expects windows to be opened and dust mites to fly in the air. She expects pressure and tears and guilt.However, that isn’t what happens.

“Trixie? You here?”

Trixie sits up in bed. The room around her spins. She rests a hand against her head.

“Violet?” she hears the crack in her voice.

She hears the click and clack of Violet’s heels against the floors before she opens Violet’s bedroom door. She stops halfway through, eyes widening at Trixie.

“Holy fuck,” Violet responds.

Trixie could snort, laugh even. There’s something about the situation which makes that damn hard. She doesn’t say anything, opting to remain silent and just let Violet take it in. The less she protests, the quicker Violet will be gone.

Violet looks at her before continuing to talk. “Well, they said you’d be messy.” She waits for some response, but she doesn’t get it. There’s a deep sigh. “Okay. Does this mean I have to take care of you?” Trixie raises an eyebrow at her; Violet laughs. “Yeah, that’s not really either of our fucking styles.”

“You should tell Kim and Fame that,” Trixie says.

Violet walks to the window and looks out of it. After a second of looking out, she walks away without opening it.

“Kim and Fame aren’t just gunna stop loving you because you’re struggling,” Violet says. She sits down on the bed beside Trixie.

They share eye contact for a moment before Trixie looks away. It felt too intimate. She wants to fucking hurl.

“How are you doing?” Trixie asks.

Violet looks at her for a long moment. There’s something in her face that Trixie can’t put her finger on, some emotion.

“Okay. I’ve gone to work a few times, talked to people, the regular. It’s just hard,” Violet answers.

If there’s anything Trixie can do, it’s relate to the last bit of that. It’s hard. It’s miraculously, meticulously, overwhelmingly, tastelessly difficult.

“Amen,” Trixie snorts.

Violet rolls her eyes and a smile appears on her lips. “I’m not going to stop loving you either.” It shocks her. Trixie’s mouth falls open before slamming shut. She looks down at her hands and nearly cries. It doesn’t take a lot to do that these days. She rubs at her eyes with the palms of her hands. Something heavy rests on her chest. Violet stands up and it makes Violet jump. “I’m not Fame and Kim though. Not going to mother you. I’m going to run the shower, you’re going to get in it. I’m going to order food, you’re going to eat it. We will change your bedsheets together and we’ll do anything else you need. You don’t have a choice.”

Trixie blinks at her. “I-” Her stomach rumbles.

“What?”

“Can we eat first?”

Violet gives her an easy smile. “Sure.”

 


 

 

They order chinese food. Violet doesn’t give her a choice, ordering for her. She hadn’t expected her to remember that she’s vegetarian. It’s nice when she does. It’s only when Trixie concentrates on looking out the window that she realizes it’s dark out.

“Don’t you have work?” Trixie asks.

Violet’s managed to lure Trixie into the living room. They sit on opposite sides of the couch. There’s a certain amount of class to the way Violet sits, legs crossed underneath her, one hand on her hip.

“Obviously not,” Violet retorts. “I took tonight off. Worked yesterday though.”

Trixie nods slowly. It doesn’t feel awkward, but the conversation still feels stilted.

“Good show?”

Violet nods. “Always a good show. It’s a good way of letting things go for a few hours too. You should come see one.”

Immediately, Trixie shakes her head. “I’m good.”

Violet’s eyebrows crease. “How come? I don’t mind you not coming, that’s up to you, but why?”

Breath catches in Trixie’s throat. “I-I’m a bit of a prude?”

Violet smirks. “Bullshit. Why?”

Trixie stares at her, and Violet stares back. A sigh escapes. Trixie’s fucking sick of lying.

“I associate it with Katya. Okay?”

Violet’s eyes widen in comprehension. “Oh.”

Trixie looks down at the ground. “She got out of burlesque because it wasn’t helping her recover, it’d feel like a betrayal-”

“Burlesque didn’t help Katya recover because she wouldn’t let anybody help,” Violet interrupts. She raises an eyebrow. “Burlesque, talking to people I met there, it gives me confidence. It empowers me. Alcohol is a part of it, more for the audience than dancers. It’s not all it is. I won’t let you think of it as something negative. There’s a sisterhood there, a family, and if Katya had asked for help she would have got it. If you want to come, if it intrigues you at all, come. You’re not betraying her by watching me dance. I really doubt she’d fucking care.”

Trixie blinks. She remembers how long it took her to get Katya to even let her in a little after his death. She can imagine her saying no to a helping hand after her addiction problems. Why didn't she try harder then? Could they have fallen together then? They would have spent the last few years as close as they could be. 

“She is a stubborn soul,” Trixie reflects.

Violet smiles. “She was good. When she used to do shows, I’d watch her from the wings and I’d live. She could give a show. It was an escape for her too I think, to start with at least, but when money got involved she got too deep into the act. It happens. Not the arts fault, not the settings fault, not Katya’s either.”

The passion intrigues Trixie. Violet's  got such a defensive attitude to it and to Katya. It’s obvious how much she cares. Katya was always defensive of burlesque too, she never seemed to paint it too negatively. Trixie just carried a bit of reluctance. In fact, a part of her is curious to see what Katya used to love so much.Besides, at the end of the day, Katya isn’t fucking here. She can’t express an opinion.

“I’ll come see a show,” Trixie declares.

Violet nods. It’s an easy one. “Bring Kim, imagine how funny that’d be.”

A little laugh comes from both of them. “Fame too. I’ll bring a group. We’ll heckle you.”

 


 

 

Violet talks more about her shows; she talks about how last night went, the routines, technical errors. It’s nice to see somebody so enraptured by something, too many of her conversations have been somber recently.It’s not even sad when they start talking about Katya again. It's light. 

“She used to do Russian numbers, people thought she was Russian. I thought she was Russian when I first met her-”

Trixie jumps up. “Me too!” They both laugh. After a moment, Trixie frowns. “How did you meet her?”

A grin comes from Violet. Trixie wonders how this story escaped her head. This is like old times, talking about one of the few things they have in common. They both love Katya. 

“She did a number. I watched. I liked that she didn’t take it too seriously, she liked to fuck about a bit.”

Trixie rolls her eyes. “A bit? When did she fucking stop?”

They each laugh. Violet carries on. “I did my number. She came to talk to me, I was the new one and I’ve never been great at first impressions. After seeing her a few more times, we clicked.”

It feels familiar. Trixie finds it easy to smile at Violet being bad at first impressions, it’s more than true.

“Do-” Trixie cuts herself off. That question would have hurt too much. “When was the last time you saw Katya perform?”

Violet looks up as she tries to recollect it. “Just before she quit working with us. It was obvious that she wasn’t liking it as much anymore. Most people create new routines all the time, I do. Katya kept doing the same thing. She did a number and afterwards, just left straight away. She never came back. I got it, I understand why. Sometimes you fall out of love with something, and it starts being destructive.  I missed her though.”

Trixie nods. She kicks Violet’s knee. “When did you start sounding like a life coach?”

They giggle again. Violet stretches, easing into the sofa. “Probably since I started hanging out with Max. Damn that girl is eloquent.”

A smile forms on Trixie’s lips. “I hate to agree with you-”

The door knocks. Jumping out of her skin, Trixie stops smiling. Violet grimaces.

“Trixie, it’s just food.” Trixie turns back to Violet, shakes her head and nods at her. “I’ll get it.”

 


 

 

They eat in the kitchen. It’s been easier to actually eat when Trixie remembers she should. She knows Katya would be upset if she didn’t and hopes that Katya is eating too. They’ve just sorted out who’s is who's.

“Are you looking forward to getting back to work?” Violet asks. “I know you love it.”

She does. “Kinda. Gets me out the house, and I do think this is getting unhealthy.”

She just doesn’t have the fucking energy to do anything but sit around and think.

“We worry about you,” Violet confesses.

“I wish you wouldn’t.”

Violet stares at her softly.  “We all worry about each other. It’s not a big deal. Don’t get all defensive,” Violet says. She’s using chopsticks whilst Trixie just uses a fork.

Trixie sighs. “It’s hard to not get defensive-”

“It’s hard not to worry,” Violet interrupts.

Trixie chuckles, that’s a fair point. “Who else are you worried about?”

Violet considers herself for a moment. “Kim, she’s working too hard. Fame, I hope she’s staying sober too. Max, what the fuck am I going to do there,” Violet eyes widen comically. “Pearl, what the fuck has she done there. Ginger- You know what I think you get it.”

Trixie laughs. There was an absence there, and Trixie wonders. “Do you worry about her too?”

Violet raises an eyebrow. “Ginger?”

Trixie sighs. “No.”

It takes Violet a moment. Her eyes sink. She pauses her eating.

“Yes. Of course I do.”

Nothing else is said. After a while, they pick up their utensils and carry on eating.

 


 

 

There’s empty boxes in front of them.

Violet swallows. “You need to shower,” she declares.

The world is starting to fall from beneath her, Trixie doesn’t complain.

 


 

 

Waters flows down her skin and she can feel the pressure of it pounding out some of the tension in her shoulders. She considers slipping down onto the floor and sitting, but she isn’t sure she’d stand back up again. Violet’s never seen her naked and she doesn’t want this to be the day. Certain lines don’t need crossing.

There’s shampoo in her eyes and she blinks it out. She can feel the weary irritation resting there, it digs into her. It makes her feel a bit more awake.

Her wet hair falls flat against her back and shoulders. The suds are gone, everything’s down the drain.  Everything’s down the drain.

All of the thoughts in her head start screaming again. Why this? Why now? Why ten years? What could even happen in all these years? Is she meant to get better? When does this become irregular? Sympathy will be lost at point. Questions will get asked. How much is she meant to give so that people don’t take too much?  Why. Why. Why.

The guilt starts to fester again.

She turns the shower off.

 


 

 

Violet was just looking for a clean pair of underwear that she could leave outside the bathroom with some pyjamas. She didn’t even consider what it could be when her fingers hit upon paper. She didn’t think.

It’s Katya’s handwriting, at least some of it is. The bit that mentions an engagement ring is. The bit that mentions getting married is Trixie’s.

How blind she was. 

“What are you doing?” Trixie’s voice breaks into the room.

Violet drops the note, suddenly turning to face Trixie. Trixie looks even more broken than before, or is that because Violet knows more now? God, this makes far too much sense.

“I-It was an accident. I was just looking for some clothes to bring you,” Violet says.

It’s a cold expression on Trixie’s face. It’s unlike anything Violet’s ever seen. It’s rapturous.

“Get. Out,” Trixie demands. It reminds her of the last proper argument she had, the last time she used this tone. She remembers blood spread on kitchen tiles and bloody knives and Katya’s limp body. It hurts so fucking much.

Violet looks panicked, scared.  “Trixie, I-”

Tears start flowing from Trixie. Her eyes are turning pink. Her body is tense, angular. One finger is pointed at Violet. “That wasn’t for you to read.”

“I-”

“That was fucking mine!” Trixie shouts. The volume only makes her want to sob more. “Hell, was that fucking not obvious from it being hidden! It’s-It’s ours! Get out!”

Violet can’t comprehend it. It was so fucking obvious. How did she not see it? How? Trixie’ s a damn mess, breaking apart in front of her eyes. It’s Violet’s fault.

“Trixie, I think we need to talk about it,” Violet whispers. Her hands tense on the open drawer behind her.

“I-” There’s pure fury in her. Violet tenses. “I have had enough taken from me. You don’t get to walk in her and take my fucking secrets away! I-I-I” Her voice cracks. She falls to the ground, the towel strapped around her barely staying up, she covers her face with her hands. Sobs starts to rip from her body. “Get out,” she whispers.

Violet stares at her and the paper in her hand. She slams it down on top of Trixie’s dresser. Slowly, she walks to Trixie. She kneels next to her and pulls her into a hug. “I’m sorry Trix.”

Trixie carries on bawling. She clings to Violet, who is rocking them.

“I love her,” Trixie confesses. It only makes her more upset, more wound up. Even in this moment, she still can’t tell how much she should lie. Could she tell Violet the complete truth? She just wants to be honest. Lying is starting to hurt too much. “I’m in love with her. We left-We fucking left and I fell in love with her.”

Her words are whispers. Violet closes her eyes and holds her tighter. “I’m so sorry.”

Trixie is too. She’s so fucking sorry too. She clings on because Violet doesn’t give her much choice.

“I thought we could make it,” she murmurs. Her voice is wrecked. “I thought we’d make it. You can’t tell anybody. Please, Violet, you have to understand. She lied to keep me out of jail. She didn’t kidnap me.” She laughs through her tears. “Like Katya would kidnap anybody. Violet, please. We’d both do more time if you told. I can’t lose more time. I need to build something for us. I need to make it okay for her. Violet-Violet, that’s what she told me to do. Violet, don’t ruin what she’s built. Please, please. I need you to keep it secret.”

Horrified, Violet’s mouth falls open. They lied. Violet feels sick for not noticing earlier. “I won’t. I promise, I won’t Trixie.” Tears threaten to escape from Violet too, but she keeps them in. Her heart constricts. “I promise.”

Trixie’s tears continue flowing. “I love you too. I’m sorry I didn’t say it back earlier.”

Nails dig into Trixie’s shoulder. Her skin is still a bit wet. Violet shudders into stillness. A tear rolls down her cheek and she looks up at the ceiling. “I know. I know.”

Trixie can’t find it in her to care that Violet knows, or that she’s naked, or that she’s cold, or tired, restless, hopeless, empty, despairing, lost, guilty, emotional or weak.

She cares because she’s all of those things with Violet by her side, instead of Katya.

Chapter Text

Time is passing slowly and quickly for Trixie. The nights flash past whilst the days drag their presence out, ticking by as slow as possible.

It’s been three days since Violet found their bucket list. That day is blurry in her head. She remembers feeling nothing, and then everything once. Those choked out sentences and Violet’s shock. She hasn’t told anybody, as far as she knows anyway. The nerves of it are starting to get to here. Every phone call she gets makes her more nervous. Leaving her apartment was hard enough already, it’s torture now.

Her mom just called. She convinced her that she’s okay, or at least she thinks she did. Violet’s coming over again in an hour. Trixie guesses she’ll have questions, and they need answering. Her palms are sweating, so she rubs them against her jeans. She actually put on human clothes today, ten points for Trixie.

She sits and thinks. In fact, she spends too much time doing that at the moment. There becomes a point where just thinking becomes poisonous and she has far surpassed it. There’s no way to get answers by sitting in her apartment and rotting away. It’s getting ridiculous.

 


 

 

MAX (18:12): Have a good time xx

It’s so coupley that it leaves confused butterflies in Violet’s stomach. Honestly, the whole situation gives her a damn fucking headache. One person is too aloof, and the other is too dependable. Then again, for everything she’s heard of Pearl over the last few weeks she could be dead.

She’s running up the stairs to Trixie’s flat.

Trixie. God, if that’s something else that hurts. She’s had time to process what she found out, how Trixie snapped in front of her and she finally reacted to something. It would have been progress if Violet didn’t feel like the world ended. She was already fucking miserable when she thought of Katya, now it’s agonizing. Her mind fills with questions and sneaking suspicions, some of which she doesn’t want answers too. Trixie deserved to keep that secret if she wanted. Violet feels like an invader. She’s making the impossible even harder. This is what Violet gets when she tries to help people.

 


 

 

Violet knocks the door. After a deep breath, Trixie lets her in. They exchange greetings.

“Oh, I bought you groceries,” Violet says. She forces a bag of shopping into Trixie’s hand. Trixie doesn’t try to refuse it, this is probably one of Violet’s ways of making it up to her. She’s never been good at directly addressing something. It’s easier to act than discuss.  

They stare awkwardly at each other for a moment. Trixie grits her teeth, feeling hollow. “Do you want to order takeout?”

Violet shrugs. “I can cook? If you’d prefer it?”

 


 

 

Trixie sits at her kitchen table. She taps out a rhythm on the surface of it. Violet moves around the kitchen with complete elegance. They’re not talking again. Trixie thinks through what she has to do. There needs to be answers, an interrogation. A lack of clarity could ruin this for Trixie. She made Katya a promise.

“We got together after we left, if you were worried about that,” Trixie says. She keeps looking at the table. She doesn’t see the little register of surprise on Violet’s face. “She wasn’t actually cheating on him. He was just-”

“Paranoid,” Violet interrupts. She puts something in the oven, washes her hands and sits opposite from Trixie. There’s a pause.

Trixie responds. “It wasn’t justified. She wouldn’t have.”

There’s a chuckle from Violet. “I do know her. I know what she’s like.”

Huffing out a laugh, Trixie finds it in her to smile. Her nerves are running haywire knowing how vulnerable she’s accidentally made herself. At least she doesn’t have to defend Katya’s character. This could be worse, she supposes.

“She was traumatized, Vi,” Trixie adds. Her words catch in her throat. She needs to keep some sort of lie up, just in case Violet tells. Honesty isn’t a choice anymore. “What do you want to know?”

Violet tenses again. Trixie sees it in her shoulders and hands. There’s a pause.

“What do you want to tell me?”

It’s as good an answer as any. Trixie draws a blank, her heart palpitating. She picks a lie.

“Everything we said in the trial was true. To begin with, she forced me to come with her.” Her throat feels sticky and dry. “Eventually, I came around. I tried to help her, and we both-we both realized a lot of things.”

Some truth. A half lie. White lie?

A deep sigh escapes from Violet. “This fucking sucks.”

Trixie blinks at her in disbelief. The utter commitment to what Violet said astounds her. The world ended. Every facet of Trixie’s existence blew up in her face. Her life has been ripped in half.

“Fucking- You can say that again.”

Violet doesn’t say anything else. She looks at Trixie with expectation in her eyes, her lips in a tight line. There was something about the look on her face that made Trixie want to tell her everything. The sincerity is there again.

She might as well get the gory details of her chest. If this is to be her only confession, she ought to confess. There’s no way to gain any forgiveness from it, but it can’t make things any worse.

“She kissed me,” Trixie whispers. The stresses roll off of her brain and she feels elated for a second. It wasn’t a dream. “The first time we kissed, she kissed me,” She snorts.

Violet smirks. “First? Well done, Trixie.”

Trixie rolls her eyes. She pauses. Violet already knows. She read the list. Maybe talking about it will make it easier to deal with? Less isolating? “We were fucking scared out of our minds and I-I had never been more of a mess. I wanted to make it to Miami and never get found. She asked me to marry her.”

She notices Violet’s small intake of breath. “She actually proposed? I thought that was a ‘one day in the future’ thing.” Trixie grimaces. Violet covers her mouth with one hand. “Katya always said she didn’t want to get married.”

Trixie laughs, shrugging. She can’t help that Violet knows. Fuck it, maybe she’ll be more inclined to keep it quiet if it’s a cute story.  “Well, I thought so too.” She rarely takes the piece of pink plastic Katya gave her off; she lifts it in front of Violet. “This was the ring by the way.”

Cackling, Violet’s other hand joins the already present one in front of her mouth. “Oh my god! Katya!”

They laugh together. It’s easy. Dare Trixie think it, it’s normal. Regular. Happy. Complete manipulation is an easy fucking game. 

“Do you remember that she’s kinda insane?”

Violet snorts into her hands. “How could I forget?”

They smile at each other. It would be so usual in any other setting. Two friends sitting and gossiping about their love lives. It’s practically picture perfect. It’s the idealistic dream that Trixie has seen in movie after movie.  

It could have all been like this. This could have been how it went if everything hadn’t have gone wrong.

“I miss her,” Trixie says. It’s true. If she doesn’t have to lie here, she won’t. She finds herself thinking about truth far too often.

“I miss her too.”

With anybody else, she would have doubted it. Her friends all have other motives. Violet and Katya were close and Trixie knows that. It’s nice to share that with somebody.

“I think I might be a little glad you found out,” Trixie says. Her nerves are still rattling her. “I mean, it makes me fucking scared that you do know. But still.”

It feels like a good idea to wrack up Violet’s guilt. Trixie needs to play her in order to make her keep her mouth shut.

Immediately shaking her head, Violet jumps in. “I’m sorry for leaving so quickly after I did find out. I just, once I knew you were okay I needed to recollect myself. I needed to get back to my apartment and think and smooth it over. I wouldn’t tell. I will not tell. Besides, you have that piece of paper, which I’m amazed you kept secret, how could I prove anything?”

Trixie nods along. The last part of what Violet said gives her a sense of comfort.

“I kept it in my bra. Cried whilst they tried to search me. Worked a charm.”

Violet snorts. She rests her hands on her own thighs. “Fucking- You’re insane too. We all thought it was fucking Katya, but you’re the crazy bitch.”

Trixie laughs too. It could be true. She doesn’t think it used to be though.

Something is starting to smell nice, and she isn’t sure when the last time she had a home cooked meal was. Has she really not had one since she was at her mother’s?

“I bet you going home to ‘smooth things out’ involved a certain something from Max?”

Violet sucks in her lips. “What do you mean?”

A smirk crosses Trixie’s mouth. “Called it.”

Rolling her eyes, Violet retorts. “Shut up.” Both of them grin. “Besides, on the way back from the airport you told me you were done with drama.”

“Stop being a bitch-”

“Um, when am I not?”

Violet flicks Trixie’s shoulder. Absentmindedly, Trixie puts a hand over it. “You’re not. Well, you are sometimes. Everyone is. You care too,” Trixie sums. She sighs. “I was only teasing anyway. I am definitely done with drama. I’ve had enough of that recently.”

“A-fucking-men,” Violet concludes.

“Although, hearing about other people’s does mean I don’t have to think about the hopelessness and perpetual dread of my own. I could scream to describe it all, but you get it.”

Nodding, Violet looks at her. The emotions of this conversation fluctuate so quickly back and forth that Violet is nearly struggling to keep up. “It’s never hopeless. Just less than optimal,” Violet parrots. Despite the strange phrasing, it holds a good message. “Max told me that.”

“Sounds like her,” Trixie responds. “So, if you know all the details of my relationship, how did that happen? Like, you and Max?”

“It’s not a relationship-”

“Bullshit-”

“We haven’t defined it,” Violet concludes, ignoring Trixie. “We met her outside Katya’s-”

“We saw that on the news,” Trixie says. Eyes widening, Violet stares at her.

“That camera was on?” When Trixie nods, Violet laughs. “Anyway, we met then. We had a lot in common and we just started talking. She’s quite a calming person, I definitely needed that when we first met. There’s so much more to her than she lets you know about, you know? I’m still figuring her out. I-I like it. I like her. She’s back at my flat. I don’t think she likes where she lives anymore.”

Trixie won’t be nosey. Although, there’s a large part of her that wants to indulge in curiosity. Exactly who is it that she has to hate for breaking Pearl’s heart? It will get shattered, because Trixie knows the look. That same look used to reside on Violet’s face when she talked about Pearl.

“That makes sense. She is lovely. I’m glad you found somebody.” Violet bites her lip and doesn’t respond. Trixie changes the subject so that she’ll stop remembering how much everything sucks. “How is everybody?” Trixie asks. “Like, after everything? I’ve not really kept tabs on people.”

Violet pulls away from the table. She checks on the food. Steam clouds into the room. Trixie jumps when Violet slams the door shut.

“I thought you’d seen Fame and Kim?”

“I have.”

“Well, they’re okay. Fame’s excited to move in with you. Kim’s looked into getting Katya’s stuff, her mom had already got it for her. Took it back to Boston,” Violet elaborates.

“Oh,” Trixie says. It’s not particularly upsetting, but it’s not exactly reassuring either. “Makes sense.”

Violet nods. She sits down. “Five minutes until food’s ready.”

“How about everybody else? How’s Ginger?”

Rolling her eyes, Violet deadpans. “Ask yourself.”

 


 

 

When Violet stands up to get their food ready, Trixie messages Pearl under the table. It’s an outstretch of an arm, a simple ‘are you okay?’.

It switches to read and Pearl doesn’t respond.

 


 

 

They eat together. It’s amicable, and they chat. It’s pleasant, no nastiness or tears or lies. This could have happened a year ago and it wouldn’t be out of place.

They finish eating halfway through a conversation about Ginger.

“Are you excited for her play this time?” Trixie asks.

Violet grabs their plates. A smirk crosses her lips. “Anything’s got to be better than the first one-”

She is cut off by Trixie’s loud cackle. Honestly, that play was among one of Trixie’s favorites for all the wrong reasons. The reminiscing is finished by Trixie’s phone ringing.

 


 

 

Trixie bugs when she sees the number and during the call. She watches Violet’s inquisitive face. She hums along.

It’s only when Tammie concludes the phone call that it really strikes her. The call had been signed off with some sort of weird phrase and Trixie hadn’t really acknowledged it.

“What was that?” Violet asks. Phone calls still make her a bit nervous, it was through a phone call from Ginger that she found out about Katya going missing. It was when none of them could get ahold of Trixie that they started to suspect something. The dream that only Katya would be gone only lasted an hour or two.

Blinking hard, Trixie puts the phone down. “Cosmetology. They said they’ll still take me.”

When she comprehends, Violet squeals. She jumps up and down. “Come through Trixie!” Violet forces her into a quick hug. “See I told you it would work out!” Violet shouts.

“Her plan worked,” Trixie says. Her voice is quiet and measured.

Violet tenses. “What?”

After swallowing, she continues. “Katya’s plan worked. I’m going to cosmetology. I get a life.”

They have a moment of sudden silence. Violet doesn’t want to push the raw nerve, hurt something that’s already hurting. She reaches out and takes Trixie’s hand.

“Katya would be happy it worked. She’s a Taurus, stubborn as hell. You know that right?” Violet declares.

It doesn’t mean she has to be. That doesn’t have to be a comforter. Ten years away from each other, but at least she’s the one that got off easy. How is that meant to soothe her? How is that meant to hold her up when all of her energy saps away and hold her through the night? How is that Katya’s absence is on her own terms a good thing?

“Yeah,” Trixie responds. She clears her throat. Cosmetology is something she’ll think about after Violet leaves. She’ll have the sanctity of her own home to be able to scream into a pillow.

Violet, unlike the others, doesn’t buy it.

“Bullshit. Trixie, can you listen to me?” Shocked, Trixie nods. “I don’t understand why Katya did what she did. You were with her willingly eventually, you decided to run with her. You would have served fucking no time in comparison to her, if any. She fucking loves you. Like, loves you.

Trixie interrupts. “Where are you going with this?”

Violet’s heart runs wild in her chest. There’s destruction in Trixie’s eyes, aswell as a tiredness. Violet can’t help but feel like this moment means everything. She hopes she can deliver. She sighs.

“Love isn’t sacrifice, Trixie. It’s gambling.” Trixie frowns at her. Violet’s hands tighten into fists whilst she explains. “It’s finding someone and saying ‘I bet if I put my time and affection into you, you’ll give me what I need back’. If you want to find love, you have to be prepared to risk losing it. Katya- She took a massive fucking bet on you. She has decided that her gamble is letting you live so you can make shit for both of you. That’s how she’s saying ‘I love you’.”

Trixie’s breathing is labored. It hitches. “I know.”

With a set brow and a cold look, Violet concludes. “This is how you say I love you back. By working, fucking hard. You have to go to cosmetology, get more education, get paid, buy a fucking big house somewhere. When she gets out, you have to show her that her investment was fucking worth it. And then you gamble on her being the girl that you love. You marry her. You love her, and you bet everything you own on her over and over again.” Violet points a finger at Trixie. “Or, you’ll fucking have me to answer for. You both deserve better. You will not let this slip through your fingers because it might be difficult. You will not give up because of love, you will fight harder than you've ever fought because of it. Understand?”

There’s a moment when Trixie can’t comprehend it all. Then, her mind clears as it does. Violet's right, and the righteousness of it fills her.

"I-"  Trixie reaches out and pulls Violet into a hug; after a moment of surprise, Violet clings back too. "I do."

 


 

 

An hour of cleaning up and chatting passes. They are standing by the door. Trixie sends forward her regards to Max, and Violet’s little blush is kind of adorable.

“I will,” Violet confirms.

Trixie smiles. “If you don’t snag her soon, I’m going to come and set fire to your corsets.”

A loud cackle springs from Violet. “You don’t need to pressure a good thing!”

They laugh together for a second. It’s a soft moment. Trixie smiles at Violet. “You should. You do need to pressure your good moments, I wish I fucking had.”

Violet’s smile saddens. She nods. “I will. I just have-I have things I need to work through first. She’s going to have to be patient.”

Frowning, Trixie crosses her arms tight into her chest. “Like what?”

Violet looks at the ground. Her throat closes up for a moment. “I need to know Pearl’s okay. I haven’t heard from her. I do like Max, but Pearl- I don’t even know.”

It’s what Trixie expected. She puts a hand on Violet’s shoulder. They make eye contact again. Trixie coughs. “Love is placing bets-”

Violet snorts. “Trixie, really?”

“And that should help you. Do whatever you think you have to do.”

It should help, but Violet is still troubled. “It’s just-Trixie, can I ask your opinion?”

“Of course,” Trixie responds. She retracts her hand from Violet’s shoulder.

“It should be really easy- me and Max, that is- and it’s really fun. It makes me happy. I’m happier, calmer, because of her. I liked Pearl for fucking years, Trixie. She means so much to me. When Pearl told me she ‘loved’ me, it should have been the happiest moment of my fucking life.”

There’s silence. Trixie’s palms are sweaty in anticipation for what Violet is thinking. Those dark eyes are so deep in thought that Trixie doesn’t really want to distract her.

“Why wasn’t it?” Trixie asks.

Violet bites her lip. “Because she stank of alcohol. It didn’t mean anything. f you want something, you have to give to receive. It was like she wanted me to fall into bed with her drunk ass and fix her in the morning. Do you understand why I said no? Should I feel bad?”

She thinks of Violet as family, Trixie knows a thing or two about deceit at this point. The seed could be planted here. At this very moment, Trixie could make Violet cling onto the idealization of Pearl. They could work it out, maybe, who knows.

Trixie thinks of Pearl. The girl that sat and sobbed in the room next door after Violet left again. The one that seemed like she would have done anything to get Violet back. Pearl, who has been hurt so badly that Trixie doesn’t know she really knows what love feels like. Pearl, who Trixie thinks of as a sister.

Pearl, whose heart Trixie is about to be partially responsible for breaking even further.

“I am sick of lying, so I’ll tell the truth,” Trixie starts. She takes a deep breath. “Violet, life isn’t a fucking movie. This isn’t some nineties romantic teen comedy, however much I wish it was. Love, fucking romance, is hard fucking work. We both know all of that. So, just think-” Trixie continues. Violet stares at her, raptured. “Think, ‘will this person put the same amount of work I put into them back into me?’”

Trixie closes her mouth and looks at Violet. There’s an expectation. Violet simply nods.

“I knew you’d say something like that,” Violet sighs. Lightly, she punches Trixie in the shoulder. “You’re a fucking bitch.”

“Girl, you know I’m right,” Trixie jokes. Violet pales a little. She’s been hanging out with Max so much recently that she’d gotten used to not hearing it. They don’t know. Violet’s been quiet longer than she realizes. Worry registers on Trixie’s face. “Violet-”

“I’m not a girl!” Violet whispers. “I’m genderfluid.” Trixie’s eyebrows raise. Heart pounding hard in her chest, Violet panics. “I-I really want to tell you all. It’s who I am.”

Trixie wouldn’t call herself shocked, but she wasn’t expecting it. At the end of the day, it’s not her place at tell Violet who Violet is. “Okay, then. What do you need me to do? Like, I guess what do I call you? What’d make you happy?” Trixie asks. She circles her fingers around her wrist as a nervous crutch.

Violet beams. Relief pours out of her body through a deep exhale. “Still call me Violet. I feel femme enough of the time. I just-I just don’t all the time. Use whatever pronouns. I’m just not a girl. I know you were just calling me one in passing, but it doesn’t feel right.” Violet closes her eyes tightly. “It’s just one of those days. I-I haven’t told the others.”

Trixie frowns. “No offense, but why not?”

Violet opens her eyes. She shoots a look at Trixie. “Why the fuck do you think?”

There’s been a lot of shock in Trixie’s life recently, but very little has taken her aback as much as this. Violet, admitting to fear? In what world?

“They would be cool with it. We fucking discuss gender as a construct enough as a group anyway.” Trixie laughs. “That’s all yours and Katya’s fault.”

After a second of comprehension, Violet laughs. Perhaps Katya hadn’t been shocked when Violet admitted her being genderqueer for a reason? In hindsight, that speech seemed a little too rehearsed.

“She already knew,” Violet confesses.

Trixie nods. She's proud of Katya for a moment, for keeping it to herself. “I’d tell her too. Why’d you decide to tell me?” she asks.

It’s a good question. Violet doesn’t immediately have an answer. It just felt wrong to just stand there. Is there more to it than that? Violet pauses. “I’m safe and lucky enough to be able to come out. I-I refuse to waste that time being worried anymore. Life really is too fucking short so you know what, I love myself enough to make that fucking sacrifice.”

The conviction in her voice makes Trixie grin. “I love you for it too.”

They hug, exchange goodbyes and Violet leaves.

 


 

 

Trixie sits in the living room. Her flat is clean. She ought to shower, she will shower. The windows are open and she can feel the breeze on her face. In this moment, she feels just a little bit more alive.

Before her mind can register it, she’s rushing to her bedroom. She scrabbles around for that pen and paper. She returns to the living room and writes.

Hello Katya,

It’s harder now than it’s ever been. I think that probably applies to you too. I’m trying to keep a clear head and just keep going, but that’s hard too. I miss you so much. It’s weird how much easier things have always been when you’ve been near me. I always knew that I’m not the same person I was when I arrived in this city, I wonder how much of that is your fault. How much of me is something that grew whilst you held my fucking hand? I hope to fucking god that it’s not the same for you. You’ve always been the enduring one, and I don’t want to hurt that. You can keep going after anything; keep fucking going. This all got a bit too real too quickly. I do miss you though, gotta let that make me stronger. I could make that into a song. 

You know what sucks? Fucking not being able to tell everybody the truth. I want to scream it sometimes, but it’d just hurt us both. I feel so fucking guilty all the fucking time about where you are. Do you feel better? Do you still have nightmares? Do you regret it? Your trial was fucking gross. I think I should have said something, anything. Ten years. Baby, how the fuck am I meant to make ten years? I never thought it’d be that long. I miss you. I miss you. I miss you so much. Stronger, my ass. Your mom and you look really similar, you know? How come you never mentioned that? I’d always wanted to meet her and now she probably thinks I’m the bitch that locked her baby away. You’re my baby too, just in a bit more of a sinner's way. Could she see that I was hurting too? God, this fucking sucks. I hope you know how much this fucking sucks. Of course you do. I’m such an idiot; your idiot, though.

Violet found out. She was trying to help me and found our bucket list. I didn’t do a very good job of making up a lie (actually, I just started openly sobbing - go figure!) so she caught on. I think she’s cool. She talked it all over with me. It helped. She had some poignant views on love, which I get. She talked about love being a bet, like gambling. You took a massive bet on me apparently and she’ll be pissed if I don’t live up to it. I think I’m a little bit too much of a romantic soul to phrase it that harshly, but Vi never has been the one to fuck about. Is this what this is? Are you hoping I’ll be the one that finally wins for you? I want to. I will win. As lame as it sounds, I will because you want me to. Whatever Violet says, knowing that there is somebody who is willing to gamble with you is just as important. I will be everything you told me to be. I will go to cosmetology next month. I’m going to get better, learn more, move up. I will do anything and everything you ever ask me to do. I’ll be your champion. I love you. 

Always yours,

Trixie x

Chapter Text

Pearl’s head is fucking pounding and she can hear a metallic heartbeat in her skull. The window is closed, the room stuffy. Blackout curtains keep the light out of her messy bedroom. There’s no sounds, no distant traffic or sirens. It’s like the world zooming past through a train window, oddly peaceful.

She doesn’t know why she woke up. After a moment, she presses her face back into the pillow.

It’s been nice to have time away from it all. She’s met good people in the last few days. She’s been allowed to laugh without feeling guilty. There’s been no group meetings and, finally, no tears. It’s just been music, toothy kissing with strangers and dancing mostly. Pearl’s legs kinda ache from it all. Her smile comes easier and her head hurts less often.

The problem with beautiful pockets of sanctuary like these is that they end. Her phone rings.  There’s a moment of deliberation. After picking it up and looking at the screen, at the photo of her friend smiling back at her, the guilt pours in. She swallows before accepting the call.

“Sup?” Pearl says.

There’s silence. “Pearl, where have you been?” Fame demands. Pearl’s eye widen, she sits up in bed. “You just tell our boss you’ll be gone for a week and don’t respond to anybody! You’re going to get fired. How are you even paying rent? Also, you don’t talk to me outside of work anymore. Have I done something? Actually, no.  I won’t even say that you were even present when I last saw you. Something’s off. What’s wrong? Actually, I don’t care because I don’t think you do either. Holy hell, if I wasn’t worried enough already? I can’t handle you acting up. You-You-Do you even know what happened to Katya? Do you even care? Well, have you got anything to say for yourself? Are you okay?”

Pearl sighs. It’s too fucking early for this. “I’m fine. I’m completely fine, I-”

“Oh, don’t give me those lies,” Fame interrupts. Pearl’s mouth falls open, Fame doesn’t get angry. “We, as a friendship group, are too vulnerable for you to pull this. Pearl, you fucking scared me. I can’t be any more scared than I already am. We’ve had too much happen for you to go off the rails too. I’ve lost sympathy. Either talk to us about it, let us help you, or get out. I mean it.”

“Fame, I-”

Fame hangs up. It takes a few seconds for Pearl to properly register it, she puts her phone on her bed and her head into her hands.

 


 

She pissed off Fame. There’s a small part of her that didn’t even think that was possible. If she managed to anger Fame, how the hell must the others feel? Maybe she should have talked to somebody. It’s too late now. It’s too late.

She opens the curtains. The light there isn’t early morning, it’s mid-afternoon at earliest. She opens a window and wants to smoke. She kicked that habit for a while and it’s come crashing back down on her. It lines up with a lot from her life. She can’t expect miracles from herself after all. Screw it.

Smoking out of windows seems like a picturesque act, but Pearl only does it in fear of setting off the fire alarm. She watches it dissolve into invisibility. It’s been an act of self preservation in her head. Isolation has seemed like the only answer. She can’t be running around with all of this fog in her head, she thought it might help her make clearer decisions.

It didn’t fucking work.

She stubs out the cigarette, instantly craving another. Her body aches from dancing. At least she had a good time. It was a good last night before returning to this cold reality. She doesn’t fight having another cigarette but collects her phone before returning to the window. It’s four in the afternoon. Seeing as Pearl only got in at five, that’s not too bad.

How can she fix everything she’s breaking? What action can she take? How can she appease her friends and keep her head? When did everything get so hard?

Shaking her head, she calls Fame back. After a few rings, it goes to voicemail. She listens to Fame’s peppy little statement and there’s the tone.

“Hey Famey, I-Urgh-I” Pearl probably should have thought further ahead than she said. “I’m sorry. I really fucking am. I-” She tries to think up a reason. Where could she begin to explain? How could she sum up that everytime she thinks about seeing everybody, her heart breaks? Then again, who’s fucking fault is that? “There’s no excuses. I should have done a lot of things. I just- I’m sorry girl. I really am. I hope you’ll forgive me.” There’s a pause, something that Pearl wants to say but she can’t quite get the words to form. “I do know, by the way. I know what happened to Katya. I just- I’m sorry.”

She hangs up. It’s something on the way to mending that, she guesses, even if she might have just made it worse with the ending.

What next? Trixie? Has she hurt Kim? Ginger too? Has she made their pain worse by taking off? They’ve all checked on her, Pearl probably ought to at least reach an hand out. Something heavy falls down onto her chest, she thinks it’s probably guilt. It doesn’t take a lot to make Pearl feel overwhelmingly awful, she’s not exactly been on the most steady footing recently.

Should she talk to Violet? It’s always crossing her mind to just send a message saying ‘I miss you’ and just hoping that perhaps they could fix some of what Pearl ruined. She should have reached out when the others told her to. Why didn’t she just gather the courage? Why couldn’t she just admit that she loves her? Why’d she have to be a drama queen about it? And she does love her, all of this time apart only proved it further. She craves her, her imagination never runs as wild as it does when Violet’s in her brain. Does she even trust herself to talk to Violet without throwing herself at her? She’s so fucking tired of being without her. She tore down her walls on a whim and now she can’t make herself put them back up. She just wants to fucking hold her. She’d do anything. She’d run marathons and work harder and stop smoking and be the person she ought to be. The good feeling that pinches into Pearl’s stomach whenever Violet enters the room could be what she wakes up to. A part of her thinks that there’s no way it’s one sided, it’s too strong. The others joke about it too much for it to be fake. This can’t be some joke that Pearl is the victim of. They could be so good for eachother. Pearl is never more alive than when she’s by Violet’s side.

She can’t get rejected again. How is she meant to survive that? It’s nobody’s fault, she reminds herself. If anybody here to blame, it’s her. However, this breaking point she’s at really could snap her in half.

 


 

She winds an hour away writing and rewriting apologies, putting in and deleting kisses. She presses send on the message to Ginger and puts her phone away. She’s been chain smoking and she should really fucking stop. Her mouth is parched and she needs to drink some water. Thinking of that, she should probably eat too. Her phone vibrates.

Kimothy (17:12): That’s okay. You’re allowed space, you should probably respond to texts tho so we don’t think you died :-/ You okay?

It’s a comfort. If there was anybody that would have gone off the rails if she’d really done something bad, it would be Kim. She types a response.

Pearlie (17:17): I’m okay, just needed some time off. Fame called me and she seemed fucked off and it made me realize I’ve been shitty. You okay hun?

She walks to the kitchen whilst she waits for a response from Kim. Pouring a glass of water, her hand shakes under the tap. There’s something wrong. She can’t put her finger on it. She takes a long drink.

Kimothy (17:21): lol yeah she is fucked off, she’s just pissed that you didn’t show up for Katya’s trial :-| your decision tho. I don’t think Vi’s your biggest fan atm or Ginger. Trixie sort of just doesn’t have time for drama. You’re just going to have to kiss some butts for like a month. Pretty sure that’s your fetish anyway.

She doesn’t know why she didn’t go. There was just no part of her that could stand the idea. It’s not like her going would have made any fucking difference to Katya. Katya wouldn’t be a free woman if she’d gone. Is that selfish? Should she have gone and watched her friend to get doomed just so she could said she did? Is all of this just the desperate seeking of brownie points? She should have gone. Even if it wouldn’t have helped Katya, it might have helped Trixie.

Everybody else has to be as tired of this as she is. She doesn’t feel like she has anything left to give.

Pearlie (17:25): I left her a voicemail apologizing. I can’t take that back though. Did all of you go? I’m gunna try and kiss some butts, if they’ll let me.

Pearl wouldn’t blame them if they didn’t let her, she’s not sure she’d forgive her either.

 


 

Her little patch of respite died quickly and now she’s drowning in the suckiness of her life again. Fame doesn’t respond to Pearl’s message and it’s been three hours of her just sitting, smoking and watching videos. All of them have to have seen their messages now. Their names run rabid in her head.

Violet. Trixie. Ginger. Kim. Fame. Katya. Violet. Katya. Fame. Kim. Ginger. Trixie. Violet. Violet. Violet.

It would be so much easier to just run from them. Pearl’s done it before. She could sprint away and find new friends, maybe she’d even fall out of love. She could start over again. She could take everything she learned from these people and pour it into another place.

It’s nearing nine in the evening. Everybody she fucking cares about will be coming home from work and looking at their phones and cursing her out. How is she meant to stand still and let people give up on her? How is she just meant to wait for the ‘it’s not good enoughs’ to pour in?

She knows it wasn’t good enough; she’s never fucking good enough. How much can she ask of herself? Is she supposed to become a bleeding heart and just keep on walking on? Is she meant to sit around and hold hands and solve everybody’s issues before her own? Was everybody else thinking that, if she’d stuck around, they could fix her too?

If this ordeal has proved one thing, it’s that she can only trust her damn self. If there’s anybody who will solve her issues, it’s Pearl.

She knows just the place to start.

 


 

It’s all too familiar and she can’t believe she’s about to do it. There’s visible sweat on her palms. Nerves erupt from her. Maybe this is too sudden? She should wait until tomorrow, right? This is all a mistake. If she turns around now, she can pretend she never came. Her feet are carrying her onwards despite it. Closer and closer still. Does she still care about Pearl? If Pearl could imagine herself in her position, would she care? What could Pearl give to make this better? How could she prove herself? Words brew in her head: ‘I’m sorry’, ‘I shouldn’t have’, ‘I’m a mess’, 'please forgive me’ and ‘I still love you’.

She can see Violet’s door. There’s something in her throat. Anticipation is flooding her. There’s so many ways this could go. She just needs to make this okay. She doesn’t care in what way. There’s no way she’s leaving this building without having resolved something, she’ll chew back her own pride for that. She’d do anything for that.

Standing in front of that apartment, she bites her lip. As she knocks the door, she wonders how different this could have been if she wasn’t such an idiot. She hates herself for feeling excited to see her. This is it. She's going to see Violet. 

The door opens, her heart hits the floor.

 


 

“Oh, hello,” Max says. Pearl’s eyes widen. Max swears loudly internally.

It all makes sense at once. Pearl thought that she was just being paranoid. The flirting had driven her up the wall when Max showed up. When they’d first met. Oh. God. Everything sinks; Pearl feels like she could fall through the floor. She’s too late. Too, fucking, late.

Pearl swallows, she tries to keep her cool. “Can I speak to Violet?”

After blinking for a second, Max stares at her. “No. You-”

“Since when did you fucking speak for her? I didn’t realize you were that fucking close,” Pearl snarls. Any lightness that appeared in her at the prospect of seeing Violet has melted away. Her mood has returned to it's low and stormy state.

So much for keeping her cool.

Max stares at her. “No. She’s at work. You are going to have to come back tomorrow,” Max finishes.

Biting her lip, her and Max share a moment of eye contact. “Sorry,” Pearl confesses, looking at the ground. There’s a ball of tension in her stomach, but she made herself a promise. “Can I wait for her?” 

Max shoots her a questioning look. “She’ll get back rather late, Pearl. It probably would be best to just come back tomorrow. I’ll tell her you came by.”

“I-” Pearl’s voice dies in her throat. Her head is running wild with questions that she can’t keep shut. “Do you, like, live here now? With her?”

A smile spreads across Max’s face and Pearl feels fucking sick. “Sort of. I’m looking for a new place. I-My flat's not an option right now.”

They’re sleeping together. They’ve got to be sleeping together. Violet could never love someone like Pearl. Violet makes better choices than that. Violet deserves better than that. She doesn’t deserve people who come to her doorstep and throw her life into more chaos. She doesn’t deserve someone who just keep fucking up. Over and over. Over and over.

“That sucks, Man,” Pearl declares. She hates herself for prying. “So like, you just living here until you find a place?”

There’s desperation in her voice. It must be so transparent. Is she imagining pity in Max’s eyes? Is that gloating?  “Pearl, you need to talk to Violet, not me,” Max responds.

It’s like a punch in the stomach. Oh god, they’re together. Pearl pissed about for too long. Too selfish. Never good enough. Never. Never.

She might as well ask the most important question, she doesn't have anything to loose. “Do you love her?” Pearl asks.

It’s fucking loaded and Pearl shouldn’t feel satisfied when she sees Max look just a bit scared. She doesn’t seem like the kind of person who squirms. “I-I don’t think that’s any of your business.”

She’s blushing and Pearl only feels victory for a moment. There’s a sad look on Max's face and panic in the way she holds her shoulders. The tightness in her jaw is far too fucking familiar. Pearl should have left when she arrived. This is going to fucking suck.

“I feel that,” Pearl laughs. It’s true. In fact, she laughs really fucking hard. She doubles in on herself whilst Max watches with a raised eyebrows, nervously looking around. It turns into a fucking cackle because this is all fucking hilarious. They’re both in love with her. Pearl’s heart is palpitating because she’s done nothing to even try and be a good person. She’s about to get her heart crushed into a million pieces and she’ll deserve it. Hysterical.

“Are you intoxicated at all?” Max asks.

Pearl stands back up and looks Max in the eye. “No.”

She carries on giggling because she won’t give Max the benefit of knowing how broken Pearl is. She isn’t allowed to know.  It breaks into silence and Max stares at Pearl, buting her lip. There’s a reluctance to her, Pearl thinks she’s probably holding something back.  

“You’re together, right?” Pearl double checks. There’s no hope in her tone.

Max doesn't answer straight away. First, she sighs. “I think we might be?” Max says. The question in Max's voice weakens Pearl for a moment. She can’t help herself.

“Can I give you some advice?” Pearl asks. Max nods. Swallowing, Pearl lets it out. “Own up to whatever you’re feeling. Tell her now, don’t tell her years down the line when it’s too late. Just, fucking grab it.” She closes her eyes and levels her breath. “Make her fucking happy.” She wants a cigarette. “Show her the fucking sun and all that shit.”

Pearl won’t lie and say she isn’t surprised when Max smiles at her. It’s a nice smile, Pearl gets the appeal.

“How would you suggest I do that?” Max asks, voice quiet.

Pearl laughs, again. “I don’t fucking know girl, work it out.” She tries to offer Max some compassion. “To be honest, if she wants the sun she’ll get it herself. If you’re lucky, she’ll take you with her.”

Upon saying it, Pearl cringes. She remembers when she was one of the lucky ones. If she had been stronger, could she have been the luckiest person alive?  “I’ll try,” Max says. It’s sincere. Oh god, Pearl fucking hates how sincere it is. They don’t talk for a while. It’s silent and Max waits for something. It’s all on Pearl and she feels powerless.

“Does she hate me?” Pearl asks. 

Max shakes her head. “She doesn’t really talk about you much.” There’s a blush on Max’s cheeks.

Pearl raises an eyebrow. It takes her a second, then she snorts. “So yes?”

“No! It’s just-Whenever you get brought up, she gets upset but not in a hate way?” 

Pearl blinks at the confirmation and then sighs. “I’ve been a dick.”

“You’ve made mistakes. I’m assuming that’s why you came, to make amends,” Max responds. There’s a calm edge to her voice, she sounds like she should be holding a glass of whiskey or hot chocolate. 

Pearl's heart beats are evening out. The worry starts to empty from her. “If she’ll let me, I’m here to try and mend something.” Sadness is what is filling her, frustration with herself. 

“I’ll tell her that,” Max responds.

Pearl nods. They fall into another pool of silence. It lasts just that little bit too long and becomes uncomfortable.

“I should go,” Pearl says.

Max doesn’t disagree. “If that’s what you want.”

It isn’t what she wants. She wants to stay. She wants to see Violet. She wants everything to go away and every mistake she’s made to just dissolve into nothing. It won’t.

“Thanks. Goodnight.”

Pearl starts to walk away, she takes two steps before Max shouts.“Wait!”  Turning to look at her, Pearl feels something resembling hope flare up in her stomach. Max bites her lip. “How-How did you know you loved her?”

Pearl’s floored by it. The complete look of longing on Max’s face strikes a chord. Pearl sympathizes, she remembers when she asked herself a similar question. ‘Is this love?’

“I noticed the symptoms first,” Pearl answers.

Frowning, Max inquires. “What were they?”

“I got excited whenever she texted me. I felt jealous whenever I saw her kiss somebody else. Every time I smoked a cigarette, I thought of her. I was never happier than when I was with her. She made all the bad shit just float away for a few hours, you know?” Pearl sighs. She rubs a hand over her face. “I’d like to think that I made the bad shit go away for her too.”

It sounds familiar to Max and she isn’t sure if that’s a comfort. She’s seen the way Violet distances herself when Pearl’s brought up, the strong emotions surrounding her. Pearl scares Max and intrigues her simultaneously.

“Is that why you left? Because she stopped making the bad stuff go away when it got too much?” Max says. She’s not sure where it comes from, usually she’s better at holding her tongue. A large part of her wants to allow a slow steaming smirk to cross her face when Pearl grimaces, but she keeps her expression bold and neutral.

Pearl grits her teeth and her heart turns to stone. “You don’t get to know that,” Pearl cuts. She feels venomous all of a sudden, begging Max to underestimate her further.

Max nods. “I apologize. I shouldn’t have asked. ”  

Pearl continues to stare Max down until all of the pleasure of making Pearl squirm has reversed. Max writhes under Pearl’s inspection. Raising an eyebrow at her, Pearl sweetly smiles. Max feels the doom before it arrives.

“It’s okay. Your question has nothing on mine. Tell me, Max, why is it so hard for you to go home?”

Max’s eyes widen. She looks like a betrayed animal just before the farmer slashes their throat. Hands curl into fists. A deep pang of satisfaction hits into Pearl’s gut. This perfect calm woman is going to lose it. Pearl will win this.

“You know why,” Max whispers. It’s aggressive. Pearl could laugh at it.

Pearl feels like a predator, and she makes unbreaking eye contact. She doesn’t even raise her voice. “Because you just stayed at home whilst your neighbour died. Because you must have heard the fighting. Because you should have called the police. Because you’re weak, and you can’t face your mistakes, the ones that meant you were nextdoor to a dead body for hours and a beaten woman is behind bars. Is it because you're a coward? ”

Max’s mouth falls open. Hurt registers in her eyes. It’s true, Pearl guessed Max’s damage correctly.

“That’s not my fault,” she murmurs. Her eyes point to the ground; Pearl would feel sorry for her if she hadn’t have started the superiority play. Shaking her head, Max stares back at her. “And do you really want to start talking to me about cowardice? I was naive, I should have done something. But you went missing when your friends need you most. You will always be selfish.”

Selfish. It blows into Pearl. She feels her mind turn from aggravated to angry. Clenching up, her jaw hardens. Pearl takes a step closer to Max. It pours out of Pearl effortlessly without bringing any kind of satisfaction. The only pleasure she gains is seeing tears brew up in Max’s eyes.

“You let Katya go to jail, and then you fucked her friend. You don’t get to make amends just by fixing someone who doesn’t need fixing. At least I’m not fucking delusional, she will never love you back.”

Next thing she knows, there’s pain radiating from her jaw and she’s stumbling backwards. The door slams shut. Max is no longer in front of her.

 


 

 

Pearl crouches on the curb outside of Violet’s building. The night is passing around Pearl and she’s not completely sure how long she’s been sat her. Occasionally, she’ll look up at Violet’s flat and see the light glaring out of the windows. There’s no moon in the sky. Orange light pollution has snuck into the sky, Pearl grew up with the sky being that colour. It’s a comfort. That will never change at least. It must be midnight, later maybe. Nobody has walked past her. Violet’s home is pretty secluded compared to Pearl’s, who lives right in the middle of things. This feels a bit empty. She feels so alone.

Really, she should go home. This entire day has been wasted running after other people, being guilty and feeling miserable. Isn’t that what she blanked out to escape? Fuck, maybe she is selfish. 

There’s footsteps. A light clacking of heels on the sidewalk. Pearl’s eyes travel to the noise and see Violet. Something ethereal enters Pearl’s head and she hates herself for it. Biting on her tongue, Pearl prays to a god she barely believes in. Her mouth aches sharply and it’s dry. She doesn’t sprint down the street, feeling the wind in her hair and the slam of feet onto road.

How can one person make her feel like the world ceased spinning and started going four times as fast simultaneously? Is love supposed to be this terrifying?

Violet stops. She stares at Pearl and Pearl stares back.

“Why are you sitting on my fucking street?”

Violet looks down at her. Pearl can’t get a close view of her in the lamp light. 

“There’s not a bench,” Pearl responds.

She dreams that Violet will laugh; she isn’t surprised when it doesn’t happen. However, Pearl is shocked when Violet simply sighs. “Why are you here?”

She swallows and looks back at the empty road. This is painful. “I came to apologize.”

Frowning at Pearl, Violet takes a second before nodding. She sighs. “Can I sit with you?”

Pearl doesn’t answer. After a moment, the spot next to her is occupied. A distance is established; they’re not touching. Pearl looks at Violet, Violet looks back. They exchange a small, sad, smile.

“Max seems nice,” Pearl says. “She seems to really care about you.”

Her heart revolts with jealousy against the fact that Violet’s grin grows. “She’s really cool.” Pearl decides that she needs to smoke. She reaches into her pocket and withdraws a lighter and a cigarette. Violet’s eyebrows raise. “I thought you were quitting?”

“So did I.” Pearl shrugs and Violet laughs. She lits the cigarette and takes a drag. It relaxes her as much as she could possibly be relaxed. “You’re back early.” She sees Violet tuck her hands into her jeans. “Are you cold? Do you want my jacket-”

“I live upstairs Pearl. If I was cold, I’d go in,” Violet interrupts. Pearl tenses up, holding her jaw tightly and nodding. Violet exhales. “I’m sorry. Anyway, I came back after I did my dances. Wasn’t feeling it, which happens sometimes ya know? I need to do some new numbers. It’s getting dull. Besides, Max said she’d wait up for me and she’s working tomorrow so it’d make her life hell.”

Pearl scowls. “Isn’t that adorable?” she mutters. The smoke flows out of her mouth and flies upwards to the sky. The orange tint glares back at her, the familiarity of it is gone. “How long have you been together?”

Violet curses herself for responding too quickly. “We’re not. Not officially.”

Pearl snorts. “She’s living in your flat.” She doesn’t manage to conceal the pain in her voice, she cringes at herself.

Shrugging, Violet looks at Pearl smoking. “Can I?” she asks. Raising her eyebrows, Pearl offers it to her. Violet takes a drag and sighs out. Watching her mouth, Pearl can’t help but grit her teeth. It’s picturesque. It’s a moment that should be captured on film for the benefit of future generations, this beautiful girl with her lips around Pearl’s cigarette.

“I thought you didn’t smoke?” Pearl asks.

Violet exhales again before handing back the cigarette, nearly burnt out. Their fingers touch and Violet is so warm.

“Things change,” Violet answers. There’s a brief silence, Pearl stubs out the cigarette and watches the ash settle. Violet watches her. “Me and Max have been dating, I think? She is cool. You would like her-”

“I’ve met her-”

“If you gave her a proper chance,” Violet dismisses. She rolls her eyes. “It wouldn’t surprise me if you’d just gone up and picked a fight when I wasn’t there.” Pearl’s eyes widen, and heat rushes to her cheeks. Her silence answers for her. Eventually, Violet laughs. “Did you just go and fucking curse Max out?”

“She started it!” Pearl defends.

They both end up laughing on the street. Both of their bodies curling in on themselves as they rock through it.

Violet smiles at her; she’d forgotten how easy this used to be. “I bet you didn’t back down though.”

Raising her eyebrows, Pearl grits her teeth again. “I didn’t. She punched me though, so like, I don’t feel guilty-”

“She punched you! What!” There’s actual shock in Violet’s smile. Pearl deflates, pulling her legs into her body. She whispers.

“I think I might have deserved it,” Pearl confesses. “I said some dodgy shit Vi.”

Violet doesn’t laugh this time. She pulls her mouth into a tight line and nods. “So I take it I’m going to have to fix that when I get home now?”

Pearl freezes. Immediately, she feels sick. It pours out of her. “I’m so sorry Violet, for everything. This hasn’t been fair on you. I-”

“Where have you been?” Violet asks. The edge to her voice threatens to cut Pearl. Trust Violet to be blunt. Pearl gulps away the lump in her throat.

“I needed some time to adjust,” Pearl says. She’s desperate to keep her voice flat, to not show emotion, to not complicate this. “I took a breather.”

Violet is nodding along. She has both of her hands clasped together in her lap. The street is freezing. She can tell Pearl’s a city native; she doesn’t even seem to register the heat. The taste of cigarettes litters her mouth and Violet can’t shake it.

“We all needed to adjust. You could have let us help you,” Violet points out.

Pearl closes her eyes for a moment. Her hands are shaking and she needs to hide it. She shouldn’t have come here.

“I-I just needed some time,” Pearl whispers. It feels pathetic.

Violet tenses. She isn’t always the most docile of people, but she forgets how easily Pearl can make her fucking angry.

“Yeah, well, you also stopped other people from fucking ‘adjusting’. Admit it was wrong,” Violet demands.

Pearl’s eyebrows raise up. She avoids Violet’s eyes, staring straight ahead, but she feels that gaze pounding into the side of her head.

“Why was it wrong?” Pearl murmurs. Her hands are shaking so hard that she forces them flat against the cold paving. “Since when have I been an integral enough member-”

“Bullshit. You know that’s bullshit.” Violet wants to stand up, look down at Pearl and lecture it. She’s so close.

“I-”

Violet explodes. “You’re fucking running, again! This whole thing has been caused by the fact that you can’t stop running.” Violet feels her voice crack. “You had to drink to tell me you loved me because otherwise, it’d be too vulnerable, too exposed. You ran from the fact that Katya’s in prison and you ran from me. The issue wouldn’t be that you needed time alone, because that’s understandable. But, you have to fucking communicate. You don’t just go missing, not when we’ve lost so much already.”

The shaking in Pearl’s hands travels through her body, up her arms and into her body. She physically twitches. Her hands twist into her hair, she holds her head.

“How am I meant to stop Vi? How?” Pearl responds. She doesn’t stop shaking. Her breathing comes hard. Tears fill her eyes. Pathetic. These emotions are pathetic. “How am I meant to stop!” she shouts.

Violet looks at her, slack jawed. She’s been told about Pearl’s history, how shit her childhood was. That kind of history will live with a person forever. It’s only in this moment, however, that Violet can finally see it. It makes sense. She cracks a little.

“I don’t know!” Violet responds back. She lowers her voice from Pearl’s volume. Arguing in the street really isn’t in the list of things she wants to do tonight. “I know you can’t live like this forever. If you carry on fucking running, you’ll end up alone.” Violet hates the tightness of her chest, the way that her breath catches in her throat. “You don’t deserve to end up alone. You should be loved Pearl, you deserve that you know? You just need to make it fucking easier for us, for me.”

She hears Pearl sigh, sees Pearl release herself from the grip she had on herself. She stretches her hands, tensing out her fingers. Violet is startled by how quickly Pearl has returned herself to neutral from someone who looked like they were snapping apart a second ago.“I can try?” Pearl offers. There’s a hoarseness to her voice.Violet isn’t completely sure why it pisses her off.

“What was that?” Violet asks. The accusation in her voice isn’t missed by Pearl, who still refuses to look at Violet.

“What was what?”

Violet doesn’t understand the look of nothing in Pearl’s face; she’s in awe of it. Violet supposes now is as good a time as any to stop pretending.

“Do you feel anything at all?”

Pearl finally turns to look at her. Her eyebrows have raised, her eyes have widened. She blinks at her. “Of course?”

“How do you not show it?” Violet asks. She wonders if she sounds resigned. “I can’t understand.”

Pearl shrugs. “I used to be an emotional kid. I learnt to-to not be. I’m fucked up.” She snorts out a laugh. “If you need to know, I’m pretty fucking sad.”

Violet can’t think of a response. She looks at Pearl and searches her face. She would kill for just a look inside of her head, to just understand.

“I think you’ll get there,” Violet whispers.

Frowning at her, Pearl stops smiling. “Get where?”

Violet feels blank. It’s better than she felt when she left the club. She supposes she’s been in a confused daze for a few months now. This is the closest she’s gotten to clarity in ages.

“Over it. You’ll stop running.” An easy smile comes to Violet’s face. She could laugh at herself, but Pearl couldn’t understand the meaning of why Violet’s laughing. “I’d bet on it. I’d bet on you.”

The end is a confession, but Violet doesn’t know who to. She’d gamble on Pearl. There’s so much ferocity in that soul, so much fight. The fact that she’s here sitting next to Violet just proves that.

“I wouldn’t,” Pearl answers. “All I’ve done recently is fuck stuff up.”

Violet blows some air onto her hands in an attempt to warm them up. She looks down the street, still no external moving. It’s like they’re in a little pocket universe. This is their bubble. She huffs out air.

“Be fair to yourself, it’s not exactly been the most normal of fucking times,” Violet jokes. “I won’t defend you though. You fucked up. I said I’d bet on you beating it because I know you. I know that you’ll try and make this better, even if you fuck up more in the process. That’s you, Pearl.”

Pearl stares at her, she smiles sadly. “Do you know me better then you know Max?”

Violet rolls her eyes. Stubborn. She forgets how stubborn Pearl is. “Yes. Obviously.” Tensing up again, Violet clenches her jaw. She looks up at her flat and sees that the light is on, she could smile. “Why have you decided we needed to have this talk right now?”

Pearl stares at her for a moment. Violet can’t help but feel a little bit hot under the gaze. It’s like she’s being picked apart and put back together. There’s something meticulous to Pearl right now and Violet is transfixed.

“I needed to start fixing things. I thought I’d start where all my recent fuck ups started,” Pearl jokes. Violet flinches a little. After Pearl grimacing, she continues. “The way I told you that-the way I told you was wrong. It made everything seem less true than it was. Violet, Man, Vi, I’m sorry. I fucked up. I-” Pearl feels fucking ill looking at Violet’s face. Violet looks so unimpressed. They are both remember that night. “I shouldn’t have told you.”

There’s a beat of a few moments. Pearl looks at the road and considers leaving. It’s time for Violet’s eyes to trail over Pearl, to familiarize herself again with her. Violet bites her lip and looks back up at her bedroom window, light still on.

“You should have told me. Just not like that.” She anticipates Pearl’s confusion and, without looking at her, takes her silence as an urge to continue. Violet wishes she could say what Pearl wants to hear. “Love isn’t a cure all. This isn’t a rom-com, you know? I was never just going to run into your arms.”

“I know,” Pearl responds. Pearl feels like she’s on the tip of her toes. It’s a case of constant vigilance. If she says something wrong, Violet might never see her again. “I wish I’d told you years ago.”

Violet flinches. “I wish you had too.” There’s a second when Violet thinks it’s too much of a revelation, or too little. Will Pearl understand what Violet is saying? That this is too late? They could have been so happy.

Violet isn’t looking at Pearl when she speaks next. It’s the crack in her voice, the hoarseness, that drags Violet’s attention. “I still love you.”

It’s the rawness that makes Violet want to crumble, to throw precaution to the wind and just allow a dream to happen. It could be so simple. She could just tell Pearl about every night where she fell asleep remembering the way she talks, she could tell her about the ways she’s dreamt about her over the last few years. Violet could let the confessions drip from her lips.Pearl is looking at her and she looks lost. Something deep within Violet is screaming and it won’t shut up. It won’t listen to reason. Violet doesn’t have the strength to resist it. She has to put this to rest in her head.

She needs to know.

“Kiss me,” Violet whispers.

There’s a pause. Finally, Violet looks back at Pearl. The shock in her eyes is followed by a small nod. Violet watches her run her tongue quickly over her bottom lip. Slowly, she moves over to Violet. Their legs touch and it burns a tiny bit.

“Are you sure?”

Pearl closes some of the gap between them. She can feel Pearl’s breath on her face; it’s warm and smells of cigarettes. Violet burns.

“No.”

She looks at her lips for a moment before Violet closes the gap. They are both still, before Pearl takes possession of the kiss. There’s no tongues, no saliva exchange or sexual advance. It feels like being set on fire for Violet. Every place that Pearl touches her is brought into new light and perspective. The slow drag of their lips against each other embodies what Violet has felt for Pearl since the day they met. It feels confusing but pleasent. Excitement crawls into Violet's bones. Pearl feels her mind slow. This is sedation. It’s peace. It’s calm. She wants it all day every day.

Violet ends up with her hand on Pearl's neck. She pushes them away from eachother. 

Violet catches her breath. It was everything she’d dreamed of. Looking up, her bedroom light is still on. It hits her hard in the chest. This isn’t fair. She hears Pearl chuckle to herself. 

Dreams. Closing her eyes, Violet turns to Pearl.

“What colour are my eyes?”

She imagines that Pearl smiles, maybe she’s shocked for a moment. The relaxation that her body has gained from the kiss won’t have gone away yet. She’ll look happy.

“Brown. They’re that shade that you get in certain bottles, when the light hits it just right. They’re like the fucking forest. They’re beautiful. You’re beautiful,” Pearl says. She’s breathless still. Violet’s heart aches.

She opens her eyes. She hates that Pearl just confirmed it. She just killed any chance they had. 

“What’s my favourite colour?” Violet asks.

Initially, Pearl laughs at her. They’re still pressed close to each other. Pearl frowns when she realizes.

“I don’t know,” Pearl responds. There’s something close to hurt in her voice. She tenses back up. "I can learn that."

Violet goes into autopilot. She takes her hand. It’d be too simple to stare ahead and say what she needs to say. She owes Pearl more than that. She clears her throat, she wishes she’d never sat down at all. This will ruin it.

“You never loved me-”

“Violet, I-”

“You loved the idea of me, Pearlie,” Violet concludes. Pearl might not sure emotion very easily, but the change is obvious. It makes Violet feel sick. “I’m sorry. It’s just passion. Love’s about sacrifice and giving and receiving and caring. This- It’s not love, it’s just passion. I’m sorry. I’ve talked about love far too much recently to ignore the difference.”

There’s a gap. Pearl drops Violet’s hand. She pulls away.

“How can you know what I feel?” She sounds like she’s been scolded, like a moody child. Violet wants to comfort her. It wouldn’t make things easier. She turns to Violet; Violet is startled to see tears in her eyes. “How can I prove it? What do you want from me? I’d give anything for you. I’d do anything. Why can’t you believe me-”

“Because of the timings, Pearl,” Violet jumps in. There’s a laugh in her voice, but it’s not out of amusement. “It’s because of Katya, Pearl, and Trixie. You got drunk and came to me in a time of need, that was you running from what you felt again.” Violet feels stupid for never saying before. Why did she let it get this far? This is going to sting. “You ran to me because of passion. You do love me, Pearl. You probably have romantic feelings for me, but love is too strong for this-”

“I think I can define my own feelings-”

“No. You can’t. You know that.” Pearl raises an eyebrow at her. Violet wants to groan. It wouldn’t help the situation. “Because of the running. You run to whatever strong feeling you have. Pearl, I won’t tell you that you don’t love me. Fine. But, would this be in any way healthy? Or would you just end up running away from me again?”

Pearl’s eyebrows furrow. She bites her lip. Violet imagines that she’s picturing what their future could be. They could have a shared flat, a dog, a life. They could rip each other apart.

“I don’t know,” Pearl confesses again. A tear escapes and she quickly sweeps it away with her own thumb.

Violet smiles. She reaches out and puts a hand on Pearl’s knee.

“Pearlie, we need time to adjust. We all do. I-” The words get caught in her throat. She hates them. “I don’t think we make it easier for eachother. I can’t lose another friend right now. I don’t ever want to lose you.”

Pearl nods. She can hear her heartbeat in her ears and she wishes she hadn’t gotten her hopes up.

“Why did you kiss me?” she whispers.

Violet grimaces. “I-I wanted to. Pearl, whatever you feel to me is returned. At least, some of it is returned.” Pearl stares at her. Violet doesn’t know what to say. “I don’t think this is love. I think we’re both in love with the idea of it. I don’t think we’d be good for eachother. I think you’d run away and I’d end up letting you. I want you,” Violet confesses. Pearl stares at her. “I want you, but I have to let you go.”

Staring at her, Pearl feels empty. She nods, her breaths are choked in her voice. She wants to fight, scream and cry. She won’t. She’ll do ‘what’s best’ now.

“Okay,” Pearl forces out. She nods at Violet. “I’m sorry.”

There’s a moment they share where they look at each other. Violet thinks that this is a moment of healing. This is a moment of shared wist and sadness and a horrific realization of how many years have passed since the day they met.

“I’m sorry too,” Violet breathes. “I shouldn’t have asked you to kiss-”

“Please don’t apologize for that. Don’t.” Pearl looks so dejected, so torn apart, that Violet has no other choice but to nod. "Do me one favor. Don't apologize for that."

The hurt on Pearl's face is so blank and raw. Violet sighs. “I’m sorry about the pain.”

At that, Pearl stands up. Violet follows her. It’s just them in this empty street, in this massive city.

“Are we cool again?” Pearl asks. The question resides in her eyes aswell; they pin directly into Violet’s.

Violet looks up at her. “Yeah. I think so?”

Pearl finally smiles. “Good. I’m gunna head home.”

Violet smiles back. “You promise to text me that you’re safe?”

Pearl wonders if there’s something secret to the question, whether there’s a code she hasn’t deciphered. “Yeah. I won’t run away this time,” Pearl answers. The satisfaction she feels when Violet’s little grin grows is a beautifully painful thing.

She will learn to live with it. If a part of love is sacrifice, then this is how she will love Violet. She will heal. She will learn. She will discover what love is and, hopefully, be able to make Violet happy in the process.

“Hug me before you go, Bitch,” Violet jokes. Pearl laughs before drawing her in. She smells of sweat, cigarette smoke and perfume. She tries not to inhale too deeply. 

They break apart.

“Say sorry to Max for me,” Pearl instructs. A part of her can’t help but feel envious of Max still, but she doesn’t have the energy to upset more people. She has more bridges that need some mending. “She didn’t deserve that. She’s nice. She’ll be good to you-”

“I know,” Violet says. Pearl could kiss her feet for saving her from that awkward rant she was about to have.

“Don’t let her treat you like I’ve treated you,” Pearl jokes. The grain of truth feeling like food caught in her throat.

Violet shakes her head, smiling. “Never. I keep my patience for only the best.”

Pearl supposes she can take that. They spend one more moment in silence. Pearl lets herself just have that one second of consolation, of closure.

“Goodnight.”

“Sweet dreams.”

With one last look, one last nod, one last glance, Pearl walks away. When she’s further down the road, she turns around to see that Violet has finally gone upstairs. It is only then that Pearl allows herself to cry.

 


 

 

Numb. Violet has never felt so numb. Each step feels heavier than the last. Part of her thinks she should have less on her conscious now, it should be easier. It doesn’t feel like it right now. Right now, it feels like she’s just done something she might always regret.

Is it bad that it’s the moments like these that she misses Katya most? Sure, she misses her every time Trixie laughs and Violet can see nothing but the sadness in her eyes. It doesn’t stop these moments from being the ones where she wishes she could just call her. She misses that shoulder to lean on, the lack of judgement. It was so simple.

She makes it to her flat.

Max is here. The thought pauses Violet in her tracks, her hand about to bang against the door.

Is Max right for her? All the ways that she’s defined good and healthy relationships, does those apply to her kinda one? God, when did this sort of thing end up being what Violet worries about?  

She lightly taps against her own door. It’s an agonizing moment of waiting. Eventually, Max opens it. She’s already smiling, but her eyes are rimmed with red.

“I’m so damn fucking happy to see you,” Max says.

Immediately, Violet feels more awake. She exhales and it doesn’t taste like smoke. Stepping forward, she wraps her arms around Max. It doesn’t take any time for Max to return the embrace. Relax. Breathe.

“I thought you didn’t swear.” Max can feel the vibrations of Violet’s words against her chest.

“Sometimes, the occasion outweighs the sentiment.” Max kisses the top of Violet’s head. Violet closes her eyes and can feel herself melting into the touch. It’s not overwhelming. It’s not flames, burning, destruction and volcanoes. It’s simpler than that.

“I just saw Pearl,” Violet says. She feels Max stiffen up under her arms. “We resolved everything. It’s okay now.”

Max bites her lip. “I saw her earlier too. Actually-I-Um, I punched her.”

Violet feigns shock. She smirks at Max, pulling away from the hug to look up at her face.

“You? Hit someone? I-”

“I actually feel awful about it. I shouldn’t have resorted to that. It didn’t deserve it. God, we both know what can happen as a result of violence.  I should have known better. What if I-”

“She apologized, said it was on her,” Violet informs. Max’s eyes widen slightly, her lips remain in a tight line. Violet goes onto her tiptoes to kiss her on the cheek. “You’re forgiven. Chill out.” She sees that Max’s lips purse together.

“A lot of bad people get forgiveness.”

There’s a moment where she has to think in response to that.

“Because the good ones like to earn it,” she responds.

She smiles up at Max. There’s victory within her when Max smiles back. Her nerves calm and, actually, she’s glad that Max is here. Nobody else could have made her feel better after that; that says something.

“I don’t think that Pearl would let me earn it off her. I don’t think she likes me very much either.”

“She does. She just- I think she wishes you didn’t exist,” Violet confesses. It doesn’t exactly come out as she planned, but Max doesn’t look too shaken.

“She cares about you,” Max says. It’s quiet, heartfelt. Violet wants to scream at it.

“I care about her too,” Violet responds. She feels Max flinch a little. “There’s more to caring about someone than chucking everything you can at them and hoping you can cope.” Violet reaches for Max’s hand and rubs a circle into the back of it. “Pearl could never be gentle. It’s not the way she is. It scares her too much. Having me constantly pressure her, however much she thinks she wants a relationship, wouldn’t be good for her. She needs to get there herself.”

Max continues to be withdrawn. “So you’re settling for me?”

The accusation in her voice startles Violet. She frowns. “Not settling for you, with you.” Max doesn’t respond. Violet’s nerves grow. “It wasn’t a choice. I-I want you.”

It's odd, she's said that sentence twice tonight and it's been the truth both times. However, itt feels less frightening this time. It feels safe, soft but real.

Max accepts it, but reserves herself. “Will Pearl be an issue? I’ve never asked you for commitment. I-”

“You’ve never asked me for anything. That’s my point,” Violet interrupts. She squeezes her hand. She makes deep eye contact with Max. “You’ve helped me. You’ve been an anchor. You’ve proved yourself to me since the day I met you.” Violet swallows. “I’m willing to bet that Pearl is better without me. You’re different. You’re thoughtful, and kind, and sexy, and all of that. You’re good for me. I think I’m good for you. I’m more than willing to bet that we will be better together. Will you gamble on me?”

Max’s mouth drops. She smiles again. “Are you asking me for commitment?”

It’s odd, because the idea should scare her. It doesn’t. She knows that things can go wrong and people can be let downs. Why should it hold her back? She can’t wait her whole life for a dream of a person. She can’t sacrifice herself because of fear. She’s selfish. She refuses to be miserable because everybody else is. She needs to heal too. This, companionship without expectations, seems like the best start.

She pulls Max in tighter.

“Will you commit to me?”

Max looks at the beautiful person in front of her and is breathless. What conversation must they have had? What happened? She’s so fucking curious to know, but she won’t ask. Violet won’t ask for more details about Max’s encounter with Pearl either.

The parting words of Pearl’s dance around in her head. What if it’s true? What if Violet is hung up on someone else? Would she be a hopeless fool for letting for letting down her defences? Would she be a idiot for keeping them up? Her heart has been broken enough recently, she can’t stand the misery surrounding her. Violet has been an escape. She’s needed that too. It’s a lie really. She never asked for anything from Violet because Violet was so willing to give. Max’s life over the last few months has been a cycle of regret. Should have called the police. Should have approached earlier. Should have smelt the blood. Should have seen the bruises. Should have felt that there was a cold body only a few rooms away. Should have. Should. She has to break the chain. She cannot look back with the words ‘if only’ corrupting every memory. Violet cannot be another missed chance.

“Of course,” Max whispers. Violet feels her breath and she grins. Reaching up, Violet pecks her on the lips. The kiss is simple and sweet. There’s no burning or any apocalyptic feeling. It feels like warmth, being held, hot chocolate and blankets. Something deep within her wants to curl up into Max and never move again.

Max is smiling too. She tightens the grip she has of Violet’s hand and pulls her into the apartment. She kisses Violet on the cheek.

“I’m sorry for making you wait up,” Violet says.

Max runs a thumb over Violet’s cheekbone; she lets go of her hand and rests it on Violet’s hip.

“Thank you for coming home.”

They kiss again. They keep kissing until they end up in Violet’s bed. All of their touches are more tender than before. The way Max stares at her makes Violet melt. It’s like she’s memorizing her, pulling her apart. The next time they break away for any point of time is when Violet showers. When she returns to the room, Max is motionless and her breaths are even. She tiptoes to avoid waking her. Slipping into the bed next to her has never felt more normal.

The city feels at peace when Violet closes her eyes, the warmth radiating off of Max’s back lulling her to sleep.

Chapter Text

There’s a possibility that Fame’s more terrified than Trixie. She’s buzzing. Walking in patterns in their new apartment, avoiding the little mountains of boxes.

“You have to tell me everything. You can text me if you want, but I’m working. I’m coming back for dinner though, I’m making lasagna, vegetarian lasagna. I’m so happy for you! It’s going to be so good! You’ll love it. We’re all so proud of you. You’ve got to teach us what you learn though. Sharing is caring! Hey, if you ever need models I’ll happily come in; wait, is saying that shitty? Do you actually want lasagna?”

The rant continues. It’s eight in the morning. Trixie's done a little bit of research. Right now, Katya might have just eaten breakfast.

“Trixie?” Fame asks again.

She’s right to be nervous. It’s odd that Trixie isn’t. She doesn’t really feel a lot of anything anymore.

“Lasagna sounds good.”

When Fame smiles back at her, Trixie feels no sense of righteousness or success. She feels cold nothingness.

“Are you excited?” Fame asks again. She asked when she got here, carrying breakfast under her arm.

“I can’t believe time’s gone so quickly,” Trixie answers truthfully. It really has flicked past in a blur. There’s been decisions made, revelations and more. Trixie can’t tell if she feels stationary or not. Every day she wakes up feeling different than the day before, but nobody else seems to see that. They’re still helping her after all.

“I know, but it’s here now. What do you wanna learn? Who do you want to meet?”

Trixie wouldn’t mind if time passed this quickly always. It’d make this whole thing hurt less. This sentence wouldn’t be a burden, it’d be a blip.

“I don’t know.” It’s true also. Trixie doesn’t know what she’s expecting from her first day at cosmetology. Fame’s energy is intoxicating, so she puts on a smile and tries to be excited.

 


 

 

Katya should be here.

It was a good day. Mostly introductions to different people, the building and the course. It’s a two year part time one. It’ll just give her a booster to ask for a promotion maybe, or get one at a different store. Katya would be happy.

She wants to talk about her expectations, what she thinks of everybody. There’s so many things she could share with Katya. She could tell her how every shade of red she saw made her think of her. She could tell her that her professor is completely insane, and that Katya would fucking adore her. It all looked so good, it all felt so forward and new and beautiful. Trixie would be over the moon. The old Trixie would be skipping for joy, feeling like she’d never had a good day in her life.

Trixie just wants a hug from the right person. She wants to hear that voice. She can imagine Katya’s scent like it’s right next to her but she still wants nothing more than to collapse into it. When she brings the smell to mind, she thinks it’ll comfort her. It doesn’t provide any consolation. It’s like trying to put out a fire with rum, reading love poetry after heartbreak or itching a wound; it makes it worse.

How is Trixie going to live the next few years of her life if this is her on a good day?

 


 

 

They could be walking on this road. Their fingers could be interlinked. Katya could be whispering in her ear. This walk could be filled with sweet nothings and heated promises. The idea of it makes Trixie breathless. They could be good, ethereal. They could have lifted each other up and kissed each other’s bruises. They could lean on eachother. They could fucking heal from this awful mess.

Instead, she is alone. 

His family are mourning still. Trixie knows that. She laments and cries herself to sleep, but the amount of misery she has caused is equal. There are so many routes she could have taken, so many actions worth regretting. He didn't have to die. He didn't have to. She could have stepped back. Did his actions make this deserved? Is she a saint or a sinner?

 


 

 

The ache that running up the stairs causes in her legs is pleasant. She needed a sensation to focus on.

She doesn’t deserve this flat. She doesn’t deserve the sanctuary it provides. She doesn’t deserve the fact that Fame loves her enough to come over later and check on her. If her mom calls, Trixie will barf. The fact that she had 'a new experience' today sickens her. She doesn’t deserve this. After what’s she’s done, how can she just keep pretending that this is all how it’s meant to be? This isn’t how it’s meant to be.

It’s meant to be that nobody died. She should be coming home with Katya and they’d kiss and eat and then fuck and sleep. They’d work things out. They’d fight. It’d be normal and Trixie can’t imagine anything more blissful than it. They’d save money to travel. They’d met parents, get pressured into a big white wedding, adopt pets. It’d be the domestic dream that ten year old Trixie used to cling to.

Trixie is a murderer and a coward. She is supposed to work hard and build something, god she doesn’t know what the fuck she’s building, for them. This is how she is meant to show love. This is how she’s meant to pay her back.

This is what all of Katya’s sacrifice was for.

 


 

 

She doesn’t remember letting herself into her apartment. Everything’s blurry actually. She keeps picturing what this day was supposed to be. The tears come easy and she despises them more than she despises herself.

There’s keys in the door. Trixie probably looks like a mess. The door opens.

“Trixie?”

She doesn’t move. It’s Fame.

“In here,” Trixie calls back. There’s a roughness to her voice that is definitely associated with the tears she has wept. Fame won’t judge. It’s a bonus, Trixie supposes, to having nice friends.

Trixie looks up at her bedroom door. She is surprised when Pearl’s head pokes through the door.

“Sup.” Blinking at Pearl for a moment, Trixie is a bit stunned. Trixie’s not seen much of her recently, they’ve mostly talked through text. “You look shit,” Pearl deadpans.

Trixie smirks. “I feel shit.”

Pearl takes this as a cue to walk to and throw herself on top of the bed. She wiggles into the sheets to get comfortable next to Trixie.

“Tell me about it, Bro.”

It’s a second after comprehending what Pearl said that Trixie smiles, shaking her head. “You’re so fucking dumb, Bro,” Trixie retorts. It makes her smile, even if she is still visibly crying.

“Dude, stop avoiding it,” Pearl says.

After an eye roll and a shaky breath, Trixie sighs. “It was a good day.”

Pearl frowns. Trixie knows exactly what she’ll ask before she even knows it. “Then why do you feel shit?”

Trixie turns over and stuffs her face into her pillow to avoid answering the question. It lacks any sort of comforting aroma. After a moment, Pearl slips an arm over Trixie’s body and hugs her side.

“It’s okay,” Pearl whispers. “I promise that. We’ll do whatever we can do to help you. I will, anyway. You know that, right?”

Trixie pulls away from the pillow. She’s face to face with Pearl. A smile is offered to her and she tries to return it sincerely. 

“Yeah,” Trixie whispers. Her mind feels like goo. “I don’t know if anybody can help me.”

She sees Pearl’s eyes widen. Trixie’s heart sinks into her stomach. “Pumpkin, what do you mean?”  There’s more to the question. The evident panic in Pearl’s face shows that. Trixie can’t bring herself to regret it, or lie again.

“I’m supposed to be better, but I’m not,” Trixie admits. There’s the guilt. She is reminded of Violet telling her that she should work hard. Would Violet understand that Trixie wishes she could? “I can’t stop thinking about Katya.”

Pearl frowns. She nods and bites her lip. Pearl's head drifts to calling out for Fame, asking for backup. She can’t do that. She refuses to shrug this off onto somebody else. If Trixie wants to talk to Pearl, she will talk to Pearl. No more running. 

“About Katya, or what happened to Katya?”  Pearl prays for the answer she wants. There’s only one of those she can give insight on.

Trixie can barely think. Everything is such a mess, it all feels so wrong.“All of it. Every time I’m happy, I end up thinking about her.”

It should be Katya holding her too. Katya should be in the flat. Katya should have her arms wrapped around Trixie’s back whilst Pearl next to them. This should be a moment filled with comfort, with ‘it’ll be okays’ which Trixie finds herself believing. It shouldn’t be fake. There should be no deceit or empty spaces. This day, which was one she had dreamed of for so long, shouldn’t have dug up Trixie’s guilt again. The wounds keep on sealing and being cut open again. This hurt is starting to turn rancid and fester. 

It wasn’t the answer Pearl had hoped for. She has no speech prepared. A question enters her mind, Pearl sums up the courage. It's the best she can do. “Pumpkin, Trixie, we can help you all you want. Anything you need doing, we’ve got it done. We will always look out for you,” Pearl says. She keeps her voice calm as she reaches out to take Trixie’s hand. “I understand if you say no, but we can’t help you with everything. We’re not that good. Do you think seeing a therapist would help?”

It doesn’t surprise her. There’s more guilt added to the pile, is she so much of a problem that her friends can’t handle her? No. No, it isn’t like that. At least, Trixie can’t think that or it’ll drive her up the wall. She swallows. It’s been chucked about. A part of her is reserved, would a therapist even be any help seeing as she couldn’t tell them the truth? Hopefully, the therapy Katya is supposed to be receiving should help her. Trixie’s been thinking about that.

It’s the look of care on Pearl’s face that makes Trixie relent. If it’ll make everybody worry less, then she’ll go. “It couldn’t hurt,” Trixie concedes.

Pearl smiles at her, nodding a little against the pillow. “I’ll make some calls tomorrow. Hopefully, we can find somewhere that’s not ridiculous coin.”

It’s phrased comedically, but Trixie doesn’t laugh. Sighing, she squeezes Pearl’s hand before letting go. “I can find money. Mom wants to help.” Her mother has been calling more often lately, maybe this would calm her.

A grin comes from Pearl. “But, Fame is already helping. She’s making us pasta!”

Trixie snorts. It turns into a giggle and she pushes at Pearl who pushes her back. “So stupid!”

In the moment, it’s easy to laugh. Pearl has always brought out the carefree side of Trixie, it's nice to see that continue.  They calm down into stillness again. Pearl pokes her in the side. It’s oddly intimate. Trixie doesn’t feel any of the rush the same contact from Katya would have given her. She truly is a hopeless romantic after all.

“I know I’ve already said sorry, but I’m sorry Trixie. The way I acted when you got back, it wasn’t what I should have done. I was selfish. I’m sorry,” Pearl spouts. She doesn’t look away from Trixie. Trixie is more shocked by the maintained eye contact than anything else.

She’s getting better at facing it, even if she isn’t aware of it. Pearl’s not tucked herself away anymore. Pride enters Trixie’s chest; she smiles.

“It’s okay. Thank you.”

 


 

 

Seconds later, Trixie hears Fame’s footsteps. She enters the room. After a pause, she jumps on the bed. She fills in the space between them. They fall into easy banter whilst the food cooks. The three of them works perfectly. There’s no pressure to talk, to perform a certain way. Trixie drops out of talking at certain points to just listen to the other two speak. Despite them, Trixie doesn’t feel as overwhelmed.

This feels safe.

When food is ready, they eat together. It’s filled with more conversation and compliments to Fame. They remind Trixie of her siblings; she should call them.

This feels right.

“You live alone, right Pearl?” Pearl is halfway through a mouthful. She nods, trying not to laugh. Trixie licks her bottom lip. “Would you want to move in with me and Fame?”

Pearl’s eyes widen. She swallows. Hesitantly, she looks between Trixie and Fame. It would be a big step, there’s a lot of commitment involved there. She reminds herself of Violet, she made a promise to grow.

“I would like that,” Pearl responds. The way Trixie smiles back makes it worth it. She’s loosened up, come more to life. If Pearl can help her, repair Pearl’s wrongs, then she’ll do whatever it takes.

Fame excitedly joins in with her affirmation of the agreement. She has lightened up too. Her mind wanders less in other people’s presence.

They finish eating, clean the dishes and watch TV. It feels very normal, which all three of them enjoy. They laugh, they joke, they chat. It never gets too dark. Light, calm, pleasant and safe, all of which are things that Trixie wants to desperately cling to. She can’t thank them enough; she is halfway through a laugh when she realizes.

This feels a lot like healing.

Chapter Text

Violet called Katya on the walk to work. It was a regular day, it was what regular days used to be anyway. 

“How’s life?” Violet asked.

Katya snorted into the phone. “Full of pain, suffering and STI scares. You?”

Violet rolled her eyes. She couldn’t hear anything but Katya down the phone, she made an assumption she was at home. “I’m good. Are you?”

The street wasn’t too loud, a few cars, a bus. It wasn’t gridlocked traffic. It was starting to get dark. She had plenty of time before the show began. 

“I’m fine.” The words were uttered quickly. She frowned. A part of Violet wanted to follow up, she almost did. Almost. “What you up to?”

She didn’t pursue it. How much would have changed if she had? Where would they be if she’d just said ‘tell me the truth’ or 'what's up'?

Instead, they talked normally. It didn’t seem out of place. Everything was regular, bland. Violet laughed, Katya laughed. She arrived at the club. There were already people inside. Violet had a bad feeling, she couldn’t put her finger on it.

“I’ve got to go. When am I seeing you next?” Violet asked.

It took Katya a moment to respond. Her voice was more hushed. “We’ll figure something out. I’m- I’m pretty busy at the moment, but we should be able to do something? Break a leg. Bye, Vi.”

“Bye!”

Violet didn’t question the quiet, the rush, the lack of commitment. She was so wrapped up in everything. She already felt that performance adrenaline. The number, in her mind, had already started. She allowed herself to become a part of her show and to earn her money. All thoughts of Katya evaporated. 

He was dead less than a week later.


 

Violet’s neck aches from the awkward angle she slept at. It bugs her as she walks. There are heavy bags under her eyes. On days like this, where she’s worked late the night before, she prefers to not be up this early.

Katya better appreciate this.

She called the jail a week ago. Max held her hand. They said that Katya had filled a visitor information form and listed Violet as somebody she could see. That had happened when she arrived. Violet nearly bit through her tongue when she heard that. She’s been left alone for six months without any of them. 

It’s been a long six months.

Max kissed her goodbye before she left for work this morning. Max works in a bookstore a bus ride away. Violet’s only been the once. It’s dusty, covered in hardbacks and manhattan smog. It’s perfect for Max. 

Violet drove to outside the prison by herself. Nobody knows she’s coming, only Max. How was she supposed to tell them? They’re just starting to get back to something that, Violet guesses, is going to be the new normal. They’re at peace. She won’t jeopardize that by causing unnecessary conflict.  She couldn’t look Trixie in the eye either. There was no way she could say ‘I’m visiting’ without wanting to throttle herself. Just imagining it makes Violet queasy. The guilt would be unreal. In fact, it is unreal.  

 


 

 

 

Now, Violet’s seated in the visiting room. All of the checks went well. Violet is about to see Katya for the first time in about eight months. She wants to hurl. Should she have come earlier? Could she have stood to have come earlier? Each time she thought about coming here, it gave her a headache.

Cameras bore into the back of Violet’s skull. The feeling of being monitored, pulled apart, is heavy on her shoulders. For a moment, Violet can’t help but empathize even further with Trixie. The threat that Violet could make things even worse, that she’ll let a secret, is hovering over her.

She’s excited. Don’t get that wrong, she’s actually thrilled to see Katya. There’ll be certain things she can discuss with her, get some perspective of, in their forty five minutes together. 

How will Katya look? There’s a possibility she’ll look healthier. The bruises will be gone. There'll be no physical symptoms.  Violet freezes in her seat. This’ll be the first time she’s talked to Katya after finding out about everything he did. It sickens her to remember him. It’s a good thing he’s dead in a way, it means Violet doesn’t have to kill him herself.

The door opens.

She is struck into complete silence by the blankness of Katya’s eyes. Those blue eyes are synonymous with life. She’s seen those eyes full of laughter, pain and amazement. There is nothing there. Katya isn’t smiling. The clothes she is wearing are blue, which is a little disappointing. They bring out the pale pallor of her skin. Katya’s hair is tied up in messy bun on top of her head. There are large bags under her eyes still. There’s no toothy grin, no raised eyebrows, no blush, no red lips. The life has been washed out of her and hung up to dry.

She stares at Violet as she is escorted to their table. Violet can’t find anything to do but blink at her.

The fluorescent lighting of the room doesn’t flatter either of them. There’s a yellow wash sweeping over them. Violet has goosebumps. She is completely speechless.

Katya stands to the side of the table. Violet's mouth dries. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” Katya says. 

She has, Violet supposes, in a sick way. Katya takes the seat opposite from Violet. The guards, who Violet hadn’t really noticed, retreat to the only entrance and exit.It’s a cavernous and hollow space, lacking character or comfort. The guards are closer than she thought they'd be.  Are they out of earshot? Then again, Violet was never anticipating privacy. The clock is ticking. Forty-five minutes, that’s all. Forty-five. 

Words choke out of Violet. “God, you look fucking different.”

Finally, Katya smiles. It doesn’t spread to her eyes. It just coats over her lips. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but some stuff has changed since we last spoke.”

God, it has. Violet feels that to her core. They’ve done stuff that Violet never would have ever happened. They achieved the impossible in the saddest way. She looks only at Katya. Violet notes every single action of Katya's that she knows about: proposing, running, killing someone, kissing Trixie first. They don’t all match up to the Katya she knew. None of it matches up with the younger, energetic, scared Katya she met.

“Understatement,” Violet comments.

Katya carries on smiling at her. “Still the truth though. I didn’t lie to you.”

She didn't, did she? It strikes Violet somewhere she doesn’t want to be struck. Cool, infectious anger sinks into her. She grits her teeth.

“You weren’t exactly telling the truth either. You’re a liar through omission.” Violet stiffens in her chair.

Finally, there’s a glint of something behind Katya's eyes. She sighs. “Don’t I look sexy doing it though?”

Violet is about to retort when the the feeling dissipates. She exhales too. “Didn’t say it was a bad thing.” Violet nods. “It’s not exactly like you didn’t have your reasons.”

She expects Katya’s smile to falter, for there to be some indication of misery. How could she not? However, Katya’s face remains the same. Katya is taking her time to respond to stuff. Violet feels like something deceitful is happening here. It’s all too calm for it to feel natural. It's too measured to be the Katya from a months ago.

Katya bites her lip. “How is everybody?”

Violet’s hands tense. “Good,” Violet flatlines.

Violet looks away when Katya frowns at her. It takes a second before Katya laughs. “You’ve not told them you’re here, have you Violet?”

Violet looks back at Katya, who's smirking. It's another moment before Violet shakes her head, Katya carries on chuckling. There’s a sadness to it. Violet’s skin crawls.

“No. I didn’t tell them. Well, I told Max. The others don’t know, I couldn’t find the words.”

How could she tell? They’re all starting to get better. It’s all starting to look okay again. They’re reaching a new normal, forgive her for not wanting to throw a wrench into the works. It could have gone either way. Not to mention, how could she look Trixie in the eye and say ‘I’m going to see your fiance, and you can't'?

How could she not tell ? Katya’s always meant so much to her. If it’d been Violet who happened to be there, instead of Trixie, she knows she wouldn’t have been abducted. She would have bathed him in fucking acid and ran. They would have run so far away, and Violet wouldn’t have regretted as long as her friend was okay. Violet knows that down to her core. She would have killed him instead. She would have made that sacrifice.

Katya frowns. “Max?”

Violet’s mouth falls open. After a second, she bites her lip. “Yeah. Max. Your neighbour?”

A look of confusion crosses Katya’s face. “Yes. Grey hair, bit of a crazy. Courtney said she was at my funeral, but why only tell her? She’s a crazy one. Crazy.”

Violet raises an eyebrow. “Your funeral? And she’s the weird one?”

Silence.

After a second, Katya nods. “Okay, I kinda have no choice but to wave a big white flag at that.”

They fall into quiet again. Violet bites the inside of her cheek. She doesn’t really know what she’d expected. It wasn’t this. There’s so much being omitted, too much being skipped over to save them both the upset. Violet really wants to congratulate Katya for finally bagging Trixie, even if that timing was absolutely awful. She wants to let Katya know that she doesn’t blame her, for anything she did. Is there a way to say ‘I still love you’ that isn’t quite as blunt? Not quite as intimidating?

“She’s not crazy. She’s quirky,” Violet says.

Katya rolls her eyes. This whole interaction is making Violet feel like she’s being dissected. “Have you adopted another crazy one to fill my place? I’ll warn you, she’ll never fill my spot. I’m a very special brand of crazy that’s only available at Walmart in New Mexico on Sundays.”

After a snort, Violet comments. “Like they’d buy you on the holy day.”

Katya smiles. “I forgot you were a good catholic child Violet. I was always a bad one.”

It’s okay to smile back. It’s funny, Violet supposes. She never would have expected her background of herself either.

“I forget it too. We both didn’t end up exactly where we thought we would.”  After she says it, Violet realizes she shouldn’t have. The look on Katya’s face, the disappointment covered by a small smile, makes Violet’s stomach churn.

“This wasn’t exactly on my hit list. I’m surprised I’m here though, thought I’d be dead by now-”

“Katya, don’t. I didn’t mean it,” Violet jumps in. She crosses her arms, pulling them into her body. “I meant- You’ve told me before you didn’t think you’d ever leave Boston.”

Katya’s mouth pulls into a circle, her eyebrows lift. “Oh.”

Nerves are starting to pile on for Violet. These seconds are clunking past, long, awkward and heavy. Her heart races when she decides upon what to say next.

“You didn’t think you’d ever leave. If you hadn’t, you’d have never met me,” Violet says. She pauses, inhaling deeply. “You’d have never met Ginger, or Pearl, Kim or Fame. Trixie.”

Katya's expression softens on Trixie’s name. There’s a small cry of victory within Violet. Trixie told the truth. They do love each other. Will Katya guess that she knows? Will that bring her any sort of ease, or will she panic? Katya’s face sets again, harder than before.

“I’d never have met him either,” Katya says. 

Violet deflates. There’s that too, she supposes. She quickly searches Katya’s body for damage and finds nothing. It’s all had time to heal over now. How come it still feels like it just happened yesterday? Somehow, she doesn’t feel like loudly claiming that she’d have ripped his face from his body if Katya had told her would be the best of ideas.

“I miss you,” Violet responds. It just sort of came out, not too much thought behind it. 

Katya smiles at her. That look disappears, replaced again with the gentle one. Violet finds herself smiling back. It’s like finally getting inside after being out in a storm.

“I miss you too,” Katya breathes.

They stare at eachother for a moment. Slowly, Katya slides her hand out over the table. It’s palm up. It takes Violet a second to recognise the offer. She doesn’t look away from Katya’s face as she grabs her hand. Violet’s heart breaks a little bit. This is the first time she’s touched Katya in nearly a fucking year. The sweaty heat of it feels so familiar.

She should have been there before it went wrong. She should have held her hand when she needed it most.

“You know, there was a moment that I hoped I’d never see you again,” Violet confesses.

Katya laughs again. “You’re such a cunt-”

Blinking, Violet glares at her. “Do you really think I wanted to see you in here?” She strokes a thumb over Katya’s hand. “Does that really make me a cunt?”

Laughing and shaking her head, Katya retracts the statement. “It makes you a more sufferable one. The best cunt that I have the privilege of calling my friend, if you will.”

Violet feels her hand get squeezed. She rolls her eyes, again. “Ginger would be damn scandalised by that.”

Clearly amused, Katya tilts her head to the side. “Well, if she doesn’t know you’re here, then she doesn’t have to know.”

Katya is prying, Violet sighs. “I couldn’t figure out how to tell them. It might sound stupid, but we’ve not exactly all got along during this.”

“What?” Katya asks. There's a hard quality to the look she gives Violet. Violet swallows. 

She swears she used to be better at reading Katya. She can’t get her fingers on her emotions. They were never telepathic, but it was never this disjointed. Does Katya hate her for not visiting earlier? Is Violet putting too much thought into this? Violet feels like she’s walking the line between treading water and starting to drown.

“We fought a bit, got a bit polarized. We just had to readjust, find ourselves. It was difficult but we overcame because we had to. You get that, right?”

There’s a pause when Katya just looks at her. The sort of smile on Katya’s face vanishes. “It was my fault. Wasn’t it?”

Stunned, Violet doesn’t quite know how to respond. “No? Don’t take the blame for that. It was our faults, we sorted it.”

Looking away, Katya nods. “Have you really sorted it if they don’t know you’re here?”

It’s a fair point, Violet supposes. She wants to pinch herself for not thinking more about what she was going to say when she got here. What she would give to just have ten minutes completely alone? She could tell her that she knows the truth. Violet could praise her for her bravery. She could hold her close to her and tell her just how strong she has been, she didn’t let him completely break her. However, she can’t help but look around at this prison, look at the emptiness of Katya’s face and think about Trixie’s own recovery back at home. 

“They’ll get over it,” Violet states. “They’ll get why I didn’t say. I’ll be able to tell them how it went, how you are.”

Katya looks back at her. “How I am?”

Violet blinks at her. Violet knows that she can seem like a hard person, like she doesn’t care. She doesn’t want to be that right now. She urges every piece of softness within her to the surface. She whispers, smiling lightly. “Yeah. How are you?”

Kata’s eyes widen, she blinks. “I’ve been better. But hey, I’m in therapy and I actually get forced to go so that’s improving stuff. I’m also not dead, although I have no way of proving that. Am I dead Vi?”

Violet smirks. Alright then, maybe today isn’t a day that Katya wants kindness. “You’ve been a walking corpse this whole time. I didn’t think that was news to you.”

It’s the first time that Katya laughs like she used to. She throws her head back, cackles. It lifts Violet up.

“You’re such a rotted whore. I love it.”

Violet’s eyes widen. This has felt weird for her since the beginning. The answer is probably to just try and act like nothing happened. This isn’t a prison. This isn’t a timed visit. This is a hang out, a coffee date. Violet’s sure that she can give that. She’s paid to give people an illusion. Part of her wants to question it, but if Katya needs this, Katya needs it.

“Yeah, well. Don’t get used to me sticking around,” Violet jokes. “You won’t be young and beautiful forever.”

Katya snorts. “I’ll be like you! Old! Cynical! Gross! Textured!-”

“Hey, at least I’ve got manners, unlike you.”

They both laugh this time. Katya squeezes the link of their hands. Violet feels warmer from it. Katya wheezes through her words. “You’re so fucking rude. You love it. You pride yourself on it.”

“I do love it, but nobody gets to call me a primadonna but me,” Violet states.

“Nobody puts baby in a corner,” Katya comments. She wipes tears away from her eyes, staring only at Violet. She’s ignoring the world around her for this, Violet realizes. She should have come earlier.

“Has anybody else visited?” Violet asks. She tries to keep her tone from being too severe. It works, Katya doesn’t stop looking happier.

“My parents,” Katya answers. “They just sort of updated me on all the stuff I needed to know. All my stuff is back in Boston. My siblings are okay. They came up last month. It was nice to see them.”

Violet doesn’t doubt that. She doubts it was as easy as Katya is trying to make it sound. “That’s good-”

“You don’t know what happened to the yoga studio, do you? Is the person they got to replace me better?” Katya asks. She laughs, and Violet sees through it again. “Do my old regulars miss me?”

Violet’s mouth falls again. It hadn’t even crossed her mind to check Katya’s workplace. “I’ll find out what happened there, tell you about it when I come back next.”

Katya’s smile grows. “You’re going to come back?”

Violet squints at her, she smiles too. “Of course?”  There’s a moment of silence after Katya nods just the once. “You know, Ginger’s got a bit audition in a few days. It’s something off-Broadway, instead of you know-” 

“Off, Off-Broadway?”

Violet shakes her head, chuckling at it. “She’s excited. We are too.”

Sincerity covers Katya’s face, but she doesn’t seem upset. It’s an odd calm. She readjusts her grip of Violet’s hand.

“Fingers crossed for her then. Toes too,” Katya concludes. She bites her lip before asking. “What’s everybody else up to?”

She thinks it might be a push to find out about Trixie, even if it does also include genuine concern for them all as a group. She feels cruel for bringing up Trixie the once she’s done it. It feels like gloating, which she didn’t anticipate.

“Kim’s dating.”

Katya’s eyes widen, she puts a hand over her mouth. “No way.”

Violet grins, nodding again. She readjusts her grip of Katya’s sweaty palm. “Yeah. They all came to a night at my club, she met Naomi there.”

Katya looks straight at Violet. Her own smile has reached maniac levels. “Naomi?”

Violet wiggles her eyebrows. “Naomi.”

After a second, Katya laughs again. “I can’t believe- I mean, I can. What’s Naomi like? Do you know her?”

Nodding, Violet looks over at the guards. They both have stood up. Another prisoner is escorted in and lead to a table. There’s another woman sat there already, Violet hadn’t even noticed her come in. They kiss briefly.

“She’s lovely and she actually works with me. She’s really chilled out.”

Violet finds it hard to pry her eyes away from the couple. They are clearly having their monthly meeting and rush into talking. There’s so much excitement. Violet can’t help but wonder what their story is. How does it differ from Katya’s and Trixie’s? How come they’re allowed to kiss in public, but she doubts Katya or Trixie will for years to come? It makes her feel a little sick on behalf of her friends. How come knowing the truth only makes Violet feel more guilty? How is she meant to stop feeling that?

“Sounds perfect,” Katya comments. She hasn’t seen the others, or she doesn’t care about their presence her. “What does everybody else think of her?”

Violet thinks back on that night. She’d been so excited that they’d all come. When the show ended, she’d nearly sprinted into the audience. It had been a brilliant show. Everything felt right, she felt the closest to bliss she’d felt in ages. She’d spotted Naomi sitting on top of a table, chatting away to Kim. The others looked on in awe. The only person not watching was Max, who looked only at her.

“Ginger hasn’t met her yet. Pearl likes her, she’s protective of Kimmy though. I like her. Kim likes her, Naomi already followed her on instagram before they met. Naomi was mad that I hadn’t already told her that I knew Kim. I didn’t realise Kim was that well known-”

“She was a fan! Brilliant!” Katya beams. It’s the toothy grin that Violet has missed.

“And she models on the side, so Fame is her biggest fan-”

“Kim got a model!” Katya laughs. “Go Kim!”

Looking at Katya’s obvious glee, Violet can’t help but chuckle along. “Hey, you could have had Fame if you’d wanted her. You had her whipped.”

Smiling, Katya rolls her eyes. “I somehow feel like Fame isn’t the one for me. How is she?”

The one. Katya’s never said anything about her having a soulmate before. She always said she was too much of a free spirit for that. If they weren’t being watched, Violet would tease her about it. If they weren’t here, Violet would have been teasing Katya about Trixie since the start. Then again, if the bad things hadn’t have happened, would they have gotten together at all?

“She struggled a bit. I think because the group was so off, she ended up off too,” Violet comments.

Katya’s face melts into concern. “Did you watch over her? Did she do anything I wouldn't do?” Violet forgets how much Katya cares sometimes, especially when friends are involved. If their roles had been reversed, Katya would have probably have visited within a month.

Violet shakes her head. “No. No, she talked to us before then. I think she nearly did. We’ve got people keeping an eye on her.”

Already nodding, Katya seems to relax. “Good. She needs that.” Katya pauses. “Well, she’s stronger than she thinks she is.”

Violet grits her teeth. She was bound to come up at some point.  “It’s good for Trixie and Pearl too. The three of them keep an eye on each other.”

Katya’s eyes widen again. Her mouth pouts, she looks away from Violet for a moment. It’s cute, but also really fucking sad.  “How are they?” Katya whispers. “Pearl and Trixie?”

Trixie’s been better, she supposes. That is the answer that would cause the least hurt. She could omit any detail, make out that she isn’t spilling because she doesn’t trust Katya. Katya doesn’t know that Violet knows anyway. This could be easy. However, Violet can’t condone the deceit. Forgive her, any more lies would drive her insane.

“She stumbled and fell a bit in the beginning. After-” Violet reads the look of complete wist on Katya’s face. The furrowed brow, the distant eyes and the tight line that her lips have formed are all symptoms. She’s head over heels, it’s more obvious now than it ever has been. “After the sentencing, that is.” Violet concludes. 

Violet expects her to ramble on and on, try to cover any feelings she has. She expects the nervousness of the secret to pour out of Katya, forcing Violet to willfully ignore it. “Is she okay now? Is she alright?”

For a moment, Violet is stunned. How is it now, of all times, that Violet feel like Katya is completely in control? How does this all seem so premeditated? It was a slight mention of concern for Trixie, and she’s back to the cold powerful woman that Violet remembers from Katya’s earlier days on stage. A slight mention, and she’s the person that Violet was startled to see in court. No emotion, no panic, just plain concern, care and power.

“She’s okay,” Violet assures. Her voice is hoarser than it was. “She should be at school right now.” Violet frowns. “Shouldn’t really call it school, it’s a bit demeaning.”

Katya smiles again. This smile is softer, less forced. There’s no teeth, no wheezing laughter. Katya looks peaceful. “Is she enjoying it as much as she thought she would?”

The peace is intoxicating. Violet’s mind slows, some of the bad feelings evaporate. “She is. She finds it hard to go sometimes, I think she’s still going through a lot.” She ends up dragging the last word. It’s true, she’s not going to hide that from Katya. Violet sighs, smiling to Katya afterwards. “Fame keeps on correcting Trixie’s make-up before she goes. It’s starting to really piss Trixie off.”

A laugh erupts from Katya, it’s not as powerful as before but it feels genuine. “I can picture it.”

“She’s a mother bird,” Violet defends.

“She’s a mother something,” Katya says. She laughs. “I can imagine Trixie calling her that.”

Violet chuckles. “We don’t praise Trixie for her patience. She has other qualities.” There’s a moment of pause. Violet’s eyes flick to the other couple in the room. They’ve reached a point of less energy, but grins plaster their faces. “She’s in therapy too,” Violet adds. “Trixie. She’s been going for a few months.”

Katya doesn’t look surprised. If anything, she looks like she expected it. “Good. Tell her-Tell her I’m proud of her.”

The sentence gets gradually quieter as it goes on. Katya’s hand tenses in Violet’s grip; a nail digs into Violet’s palm. She doesn’t complain at it. Katya swallows, Violet sees the rigid quality to Katya’s jaw. Katya bites her lip. In this moment, Violet can’t help but view her as a tapestry of nerves. It breaks Violet’s heart. Katya’s behind bars, had her life taken away from her, has been beaten and has killed someone; she is still defending Trixie. She is still trying to take care of her.

“I will. I promise.” Violet tries to push away her emotions, she won’t get sad in front of Katya. There’s one thing Katya doesn’t need, it’s more downers. Katya’s care does remind Violet of one thing, how much she loves her. “I should have come earlier. I’ve missed you so much. I’m a bitch for not coming earlier. I’m sorry.”

Katya doesn’t grimace, cackle, laugh. She nods, with a blank expression. It does nothing to soothe or corrupt Violet’s guilt.

“It’s okay. I understand. You all had your own shit to handle. This isn’t exactly where I’d want to be either,” Katya comments. She looks at their surroundings, the dull colours. Violet’s eyes wander to them too before quickly returning to Katya’s face.

“No excuse. I am sorry. I will be back, I promise that too,” Violet responds.

One of the guards says something to the other. They head over. Violet’s skin crawls, she watches him. Katya follows Violet’s line of sight, her expression turns to fear for just a moment.

He shouts from a few tables away. “Five minutes left.”

Katya nods, less scared than she was. Violet’s eyes briefly flick to the other two in the room. Both of the women look panicked aswell.

“Anything else you want me to do?” Violet asks. For some reason, she feels a kick of adrenaline. Her heart race speeds.

It takes Katya a second to respond. She squeezes Violet’s hand tightly, making no sign of planning to weaken her grip. “Tell me about how you are. All you’ve done is talk about the others. I want to know you’re okay too,” Katya orders. She quietly adds, “If there’s anything that’ll make this easier, it’s knowing you’re all okay.”

There’s vulnerability in Katya’s voice. Violet cringes at it. She sounds as hopeless as Violet feels.

“I’m okay,” Violet responds. It’s not entirely true, but Katya doesn’t need to know that. “I’m not lonely. I miss you though. I-” Violet’s voice breaks. “I don’t want to leave you here.”

Katya nods. She puts her other hand on top of Violet’s, caressing the one palm between two. The heat of Katya’s skin seeps into Violet’s. It’s a caring gesture, and Violet melts. She’s taking care of her now. How did they end up like this? Katya smiles at her until Violet gives her a small smile back.

“I am here. There’s nothing that’s going to change that anytime soon,” Katya states. “ If you have a bad day, or somebody says something that hurts, or something goes wrong and you can’t fix it, think of me-”

“I do think of you,” Violet jumps in. “I do. It makes me fucking sadder because I-”

“Think of me because I will always want to support you. I want you to think about the fact that I think you’re talented, and original, and special, and a little bit of a cunt but I fucking love that. I want you to think about the fact that I love you, and I know you’re going to be okay. You are so strong, you’ve built your own strength. You could sell strength online. I know you will be okay. I believe in you. When you feel sad, think of the fact that I will never stop believing in you,” Katya concludes. There’s a pleading quality to Katya’s eyes. They aren’t watering, they aren’t red. They are piercing, strong and wise.

“I will,” Violet says. She nods. “I will, if you promise to do the same with me. I believe in you too. I love you. We all love you, even if it’s hard to show it.”

Katya grins. It doesn’t spread to her eyes. Violet isn’t sure she is imagining Katya’s breaths becoming more rapid. The calm exterior is preserved, although Violet feels as though it is shaking.  “I already do the same with you guys. If we’re going to be real, it’s love that pulls us through the bad shit.” Katya snorts. “I used to think it was good cheekbones and a big fat ass, but apparently it’s love.”

Violet blinks at Katya. Water threatens to flood Violet’s eyes. She wants to sob, to spill out apology after apology. There’s so many things that Violet wants to ask.

“How? How do you manage to look on the bright side when so many shitty things have happened to you? How do you still think love is a good thing?” Violet asks. Katya’s smile drops a little. A part of Violet wants to feel bad for causing it, but she knows she had to ask. What happened to Katya was horrific, and Violet knows that they couldn’t talk around it forever.

After a slow nod, Katya speaks again. “Because it wasn’t love. None of that was love-Well, I thought it was at the time. I didn’t know that I could expect better. I didn’t know, but I’ve learnt that. Love is more than just taking, it’s giving too. I look at the bright side, I know it exists now.” She shrugs.

Violet can’t think of a response. She closes her eyes and soaks that thought in. How is Katya the stronger one right now? Why hasn’t Violet been better? They were meant to have each other, always. How did that get broken? Why does she keep asking all these questions when she knows the answer to them? Hopeless. She’s fucking hopeless.

“I want to look on the bright side too,” Violet confesses. “I want to stop thinking about what I should have done. I should have hurt him, saved you-”

“I’m not a princess, Violet,” Katya jumps in. She holds Violet’s hands tighter. “I needed to save myself. Don’t torture yourself, okay?” Violet wants to argue it. She shouldn’t have had to be saved at all. There were a million warnings, a million red lights that Violet ignored. “Just carry on doing what you’re doing, and you won’t need to feel bad about anything at all. Keep on keeping on. Okay?”

There’s a second before Violet can bring herself to say anything in response. The guards are looking at the time. “Okay,” Violet rushes. She tries to ignore the approaching guard. She takes a moment to just look at Katya. “You’re okay? You’re not physically hurt? You’re eating? You’re healing?” Violet spouts.

With each word, Katya’s eyes widen. Her mouth falls open before she talks. “I’m okay. I’m getting better. I’m fine. Please, fucking heal too. Take care of eachother. Tell everybody I love them. Tell them I’m sorry.”

“Time’s up!” the guard shouts. Two guards approach the table.

They look down at their connected hands, Katya’s palms cocooning Violet’s. They separate. It hurts.

“I’ll see you soon,” Violet says. One guard stands next to the table, waiting for Katya to stand. Katya does stand, Violet looks up at her. Her heart seems to constrict in her chest.

“I’ll see you soon,” Katya repeats.

The guard handcuffs her and leads her out of the room. Katya looks over her shoulder at Violet once, and wishes she hadn’t. With the final step that gets Katya out of Violet’s sight, Violet breaks. It all really happened. Katya’s here. She misses her. She misses her so much. It’s hopeless. It’s all so ridiculously helpless. That visit should have consoled her, it should have been closure. It felt like somebody pressing down on a wound. Every emotion that she feels has been magnified.

Violet rarely cries. Right now, she is bawling. She doesn’t care who sees. Let them gawk at her. She doesn’t care. She’ll never care again.

There’s a tap on her shoulder. She looks up. The woman she didn’t see arrive stands in front of her. There’s compassion on her face, her lips are pouted. She holds out a tissue, Violet takes it.

“Is this your first time?” the woman says. The words cut into Violet. She stops crying and nods. A grimace covers the woman’s face. “It gets easier.” Violet stops crying, she smiles back the woman.

The woman puts a hand on her shoulder and squeezes. After that, she walks away and out of the room. The movement reminds Violet of where she is. It’s not exactly a place to loiter in. She stands. She walks. With each step, she feels her strength regain. The cold shell she lives behind is recollected, she feels still.

 


 

 

There’s no lights on in her apartment. Max must still be at work. She isn’t sure how she feels about that. It would be nice to have her here. Her smell relaxes her. She is a calming entity.

A storm rips through her feelings. They change so quickly. One second, she is relieved; a minute later, she feels guilt like she’s never felt before. Sentence fragments run around her head. Not good enough. Not a good friend. Not a good lover. Not a good person. Failure. Mess. Hopeless. Guilty. Liar. Manipulator. Cold.

She ends up crouched in the bottom of the shower. The water pounds into her back whilst it pours out of her eyes. She should have done more. She should have let Katya know that she knows the truth. She should have told her she loves her more. She should have stopped this. It should have been her. It should have been her that had to do what Katya had to do. How can she forgive herself when Katya is still in prison? How is she meant to stay strong by thinking of her, when thinking of her only reminds her of what happened?

There’s a point when Max does come home. Violet is still in the shower, it could have been minutes or hours at this rate. She finds Violet and doesn’t say a word. Slowly, she turns off the shower and throws a towel around Violet’s shoulders. Max wraps her arms around Violet and rocks her, kissing the top of her head. 

Violet wants to believe, she wants to take Katya's words and run to the hills. She wants to think this will get easier. However, right now, she can't help but feel empty.

Chapter Text

Violet looks off from the get go and Trixie knows she’s about to go through something she is not, has not, prepared for.

“I’m sorry I haven’t been as intouch this week. I just-I” the sentence dies on Violet’s tongue. They are in Trixie’s communal kitchen. The other two flat residents are out. A mug of coffee radiates heat into Trixie’s hands.

“What’s up?”

Violet pulls that face, the one that Trixie can now identify as the ‘we need to talk’ face. The sick feeling that always arrives when the face does kicks in. It’s getting easier to ignore the guilt. She still doesn’t appreciate people digging their fingers into the wounds.

“I went to go see Katya.”

Trixie’s mouth drops. Violet grimaces. “Oh.”

“I should have told you before, but I didn’t.” Trixie feels queasy. It’s odd how quick feelings can switch over. It’s odd how Trixie still feels ropey. How did Violet catch her this off guard? Trixie recoils before even being able to properly think. Is she okay? Does she still love her? Does she regret it? Does she hate Trixie the way that Trixie hates herself sometimes?  “Trixie?” Violet stares at her, mouth a thin line. 

“How is she?” Trixie asks. Violet knows the weight of the three words, although not quite to the severity Trixie feels it.

Does Katya know that there’s not a single hour that goes by without Trixie thinking of her? Does she know that Trixie loves her? Does she know that Trixie is so fucking sorry, even if Katya doesn’t seem to think she needs forgiving?

“She’s okay,” Violet sums. Trixie wants to shake every single detail out of her. She can’t remember what she was thinking about this morning, she needs to know this. There's no other meaning to today than this. Why didn't she already say something? Why didn't they have an hour long conversation with every single punctuation point of their conversation? Violet knows what Katya means to her. She knows. 

“Why tell me now?”

Violet bites her lip. Trixie feels so empty.

“Because she told me to tell you that she’s proud of you,” Violet answers. There’s something in Violet’s eyes that Trixie doesn’t recognize.

The idea of it pangs into Trixie wave by wave. She’s proud of her. They talked about her. There’s so much contained within that. She didn’t have to say that. Katya’s proud. Katya’s not here, but she’s thinking of Trixie in the same way that Trixie is thinking of her.

It doesn’t send the sick feeling away. There’s no cure all for every bad feeling that Trixie has. However, it’s something. Trixie doesn’t mind that it’s something.

 


 

Kim’s been pacing the length of Pearl’s bedroom for about twenty minutes.

“I should just wait. I don’t have to do this. It’s going to end it all. God, what am I doing?”

Pearl is laying face down on her own bed. Trixie sits, cross-legged, beside her. Trixie is flicking through a magazine. It’s a scenario they’ve grown used to.

“Pumpkin, if you don’t calm the fuck down, I will come over and slap the stupid out of you,” Pearl murmurs.

Trixie laughs. She pokes Pearl in the back. “Let her be nervous. It’s cute.”

Turning onto her side, Pearl looks up at Trixie. She wraps her arms around Trixie’s waist and puts her head on Trixie’s thigh. It can’t be comfortable, but she makes no effort to move. Trixie rolls her eyes and looks up at Kim. Distraught, Kim stares back at her. Kim's mouth is pulled into a pout and her hands pulled into fists. 

“Trixie, do you think this is too soon?” Kim asks, again. “Be real.”

Rolling her eyes, Trixie shakes her head. Pearl chuckles and answers on Trixie’s behalf. “Kim, Kimmy, Kimberly, Kimberly Kardashian-”

“What?”

“Come lay down, ” Pearl orders. She unwraps one arm from Trixie’s waist and opens it up for Kim. Kim stares at them.

“Won’t that mess up my dress?” Kim questions.

After exchanging a look, Pearl and Trixie laugh. Kim rolls her eyes and jumps onto the bed. She lays with her back across Pearl’s legs, Pearl’s arm wrapped around her upper torso. Pearl grins.

“Two women on my bed and it’s not even dark out yet.”

Trixie rolls her eyes, she twists her magazine into a tube and clonks Pearl on the back of the head with it.  

“It’s fucking July,” Trixie answers. “It’s eight in the evening, of course it’s still fucking light.”

“Hey, I’m nocturnal no matter what month it is. You fucking whore-”

“Oh, go jump in a well-”

“Go sleep in a ditch, you skank-”

“I’m having a problem, remember?” Kim interrupts. Pearl and Trixie stop smiling at each other and look at Kim. Kim’s eyes plead with Trixie. “Trixie, do you think it’s too soon?”

Trixie rolls her eyes. “You’re just asking her to be your actual girlfriend, Kim. It’s not getting each other’s names tattooed on your ass,” Trixie says. Pearl flicks Trixie’s butt, causing Trixie to cry out in shock.

“That’s true,” Kim comments. She nods to herself, taking deep breaths. The sight of it makes Trixie smile. She’s come far.

“Why you asking Trixie for relationship advice? She’s not got a brimming love life,” Pearl says.

It’s only after she hits Pearl with the magazine again that the sting of pain accompanying the comment strikes her. It’s okay. By this point, Trixie is starting to get used to it.

“She’s more likely to take me seriously,” Kim answers. 

The others wait for the inevitable insult, they’re almost pet names at this point, but it doesn’t arrive. Pearl frowns. She lifts her arm from Kim’s chest to her face and strokes through her hair for a moment.

“It’ll be okay. You’ve been dating for months now. You’re crazy about each other. Okay? Remember, whatever happens, we got you,” Pearl states. Trixie doesn’t feel too much like talking, so she nods her agreement before returning to reading.

Kim smiles at them. “Okay.”

 


 

 

After another hour of calmness mixed with fretting, Kim left for her date. Trixie and Pearl are halfway through eating chinese, Fame is out doing a photoshoot, when Pearl gets a text.

Kimothy (21:47): She said yes!! I have a girlfriend now!!

They each send her congratulations. Trixie doesn’t spot that Pearl’s eyes don’t line up with her smile. Pearl doesn’t notice the hardness of Trixie’s jaw.

 


 

Max and Violet go official online two weeks later. It’s a cute photo. There’s one of Max kissing Violet on the cheek, and then one of Violet kissing Max. It’s sweet. It’s cavity sweet.

Pearl remembers what that mouth tastes like. It flares into her brain every time she sees Violet, no matter how hard she tries to forget it. It just won’t get out.

The tears come quick and unexpectedly. Pearl doesn’t collapse to the ground, she doesn’t weaken to her knees and weep. She sits on the edge of her bed and pulls her legs into her chest. There’s no effort to wipe away her own tears. Let them fall. Let them fall, there’s no point in keeping them anymore.

There’s keys in the flat door. The noise is muted by the walls between.

“Pearl, you in?” Fame shouts through the apartment.

“Pearl?” Trixie adds.

Pearl closes her eyes and rests her forehead on her knees. Her heart is beating rapturously hard within her ribs. A sob racks through her.

“In here,” Pearl says. It’s normal volume. She can hear devastation in her own voice.

Suddently, there's an absence of Fame and Trixie’s voices. Afterwards, there’s footsteps getting louder. She wouldn’t stop crying if she could, not this time. It’s what got her in this mess, if only Violet could see her now. There’s a knock at the door. They come in.

“Pearl! What’s wrong?” Fame shouts. She hears Fame move quickly until she’s in front of her. There’s a hand running through her hair, another wrapped around her ankle. Out of the corner of her vision, she sees Trixie pick up her phone. The screen is still showing the pictures.

“Pearl,” Trixie says. The word is drawn out and sympathetic.

She wants to not feel like this. She wants to be fucking happy and not to revolt internally every time Violet smiles.

Trixie must show it to Fame, because she hears Fame gasp. “I didn’t even know they were-” Fame cuts herself off. She reaches out and pulls Pearl into a hug. Pearl tucks her face into the bend of Fame’s neck. “Oh Pearlie, I’m so sorry.”

Pearl shakes her head. “Don’t be.” There’s still water leaving her eyes, they are slammed shut. Her chest still moves with uneven breathes. “It’s my own fault. I should have fucking swallowed my pride and just- I should-should have told her.”

Fame holds her tighter. Bless her. Pearl doesn’t appreciate her enough. She jumps when something touches her hand. Looking over, she sees Trixie take it and squeeze it. Her palm is cold. Trixie’s heart constricts. Pearl’s never looked so helpless.

“It’ll be okay,” Trixie says.

Pearl nods. Her face is blotching up red. “I know that,” Pearl whines. She wipes her face with one hand, pulling Fame closer with the others. The closeness is nice. “I knew this would- would happen at some point too. I wasn’t-” Prepared? Ready enough for this to not sting like a bitch? The tears won’t stop coming and Fame doesn’t pull away. “At least-At least she’s happy.”

The other two don’t offer any consolation. Pearl doesn’t blame them. There’s not much to say. They stay there. Fame holds Pearl, Trixie holds her hand and Pearl sobbing. When it stops, Pearl feels an odd mix of everything and nothing at all. 

 


 

 

It’s been a couple of days. Everybody is sitting around in Trixie, Fame, and Pearl’s apartment. Max isn’t there, which is the only thing keeping Pearl stable. She offered her congratulations to Violet, who took them with a sad smile. It felt okay, even if it didn’t feel particularly good. They’ve been seeing each other as a group more often than they used to. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why.

“I might visit Katya again,” Violet says.

The group falls into a sudden silence. Trixie rolls her eyes. “God, you have a melodramatic way of sharing things Vi.”

Violet looks back at Trixie and shrugs. “Everybody knows I went; I told you all. There’s no point in not talking about it. We should talk about it.”

Ginger and Fame exchange a look, which is rare enough to be concerning. There’s obvious concern for Trixie. This is still unsteady footing.

Trixie swallows. “No point in not telling the truth, I guess.”

Trixie fucking hates the concern. The side eye leaves a sour taste in her mouth. Do they all know the truth? Do they sense that Trixie still loves Katya? Have they guessed that the love has changed? Would any of them, except Violet, even guess that Trixie would be in Katya’s arms right now if she could be? It’s a shame that she can’t tell the truth. It would mean that less of them would look at her like that.

“A maximum of three people can visit at once. I think we’re all on her visitation list-” Violet side eyes Trixie. “Well, I don’t think you are. They probably wouldn’t allow it.”

The softer tone of Violet’s voice makes Trixie feel sick. She stands up and sighs.

“I get it, I just don’t want to be here right now,” Trixie says. Her voice is completely monotone. With that, she exits the room.

The others look among themselves for a second.

Pearl bites her lip. “Look, tell Katya that I wish her the best. I’m going to go take care of Trixie.”

Pearl leaves too. Violet frowns at her as she goes. That's new. Violet can't help but smile a little bit.  

“Anybody else?” Violet asks. “I’d have to ring and see if you’re allowed and hopefully they’d let us all go.” She swallows. Trixie was right, she owes them the truth. "It’d be nice to go as a group. I think it’d be nicer, for her definitely. It’s been a month since I saw her. We could go anytime.” Ginger grimaces. Fame has pulled her hands into fists. Kim looks completely absent. “Well, the anniversary of his death is coming up. She is probably going to need some friends. Think about that.”

Violet lets the end of her statement hang into the air. There is definite cogs turning in Fame’s head. Ginger cracks a knuckle before turning to Violet.

“I’m in,” Ginger says. “I’ll take time off work. I’ve not had a day off sick since the trial, they’ll live.”

Ginger nods to herself. She can’t deny her own curiosity. It’d be nice to hear Katya laugh again and to ease her own conscience, if possible.  Violet smiles at her, Ginger smiles back.

Fame speaks. “I-I wouldn’t mind coming. It’d be nice. Would she want to see me?”

Kim coughs. There's a grimace on her face, she bites her lip. “I don’t think I want to. I don’t know what I’d even say to her.”

It makes sense. Violet can’t feel angry at it. She looks at Fame. “She’d be thrilled to see you. She so would.” Fame’s hands are still tense, but she looks Violet in the eye at least.

Ginger chuckles. “So, it’s settled. I’m going to go on the world’s most annoying road trip with you two.”

Fame outright laughs, whereas Violet simply smiles.

 


 

 

“You okay girl?” Pearl asks. She knocks on the door after coming in, which makes Trixie roll her eyes. Trixie stuffs her face into her bed pillow, laying flat on the bed. Pearl walks and sits on the edge of the bed next to her. “You seem a bit upset,” Pearl jokes. Trixie laughs.

It wasn’t Violet’s most tactful moment. It always hits her in the worst moments. She’ll feel completely fine, her mind will be otherwise occupied, and she’ll let her defences down. It’s always then that it hits in hard.

“It just sucks, ya know?”

It’s the truth. She doesn’t have the power in her to lie to her friend. Pearl won’t understand why it sucks. She won’t understand why Trixie is moody sometimes, or irritable. She won’t understand how Trixie had so much ripped from her after just getting it. How could she? She couldn’t even begin to fathom.

“I know,” Pearl whispers. She rubs a palm over Trixie’s back in circles.

What would Pearl do if she knew the truth? What would any of the people in this apartment do if they know? Would they hate her? Report her? Try to understand? They wouldn’t get it. They wouldn’t know how Trixie could just stand by. They wouldn’t see that she regrets it, even if she sort of doesn’t. The life she is building could be solid, maybe she could get a promotion. She could be a manager. She could do anything.

Katya is proud of her. Trixie wants that to be enough to keep her together, but she feels just like falling apart sometimes.

“I just wish I felt better,” Trixie confesses. It’s a miracle Pearl makes out words with the muffling.

“I wish you did too,” Pearl answers. Trixie barely ever hears Pearl using a soft voice. It’s odd. “It’s going to take time though.”

Pearl’s right; Trixie could laugh. It’s going to take over nine years for Trixie to feel better.

Trixie doesn’t reply. After a moment, Pearl stands up. She walks to the door and locks it. Trixie doesn’t look up to see what’s going in, opting for just breathing into her pillow. Slowly, Pearl kicks off her shoes and walks to the other side of the bed.

“You wanna cuddle or should I just lay here too?” Pearl asks. She jumps onto the side of the bed startling Trixie.

Trixie laughs. “We can cuddle, but don’t get any ideas.”

Pearl rolls her eyes. She tucks herself up into Trixie’s side. “Turn over, bitch.”

She does as she’s told. Flipping over onto her side, Trixie shuffles back into Pearl. She feels Pearl’s breath on her neck and she times her own to match them.

 


 

 

It’ll be a year since he died in three days time.

Violet bites her lip whilst she waits for Ginger and Fame to fill out their forms. She just wants to see Katya. Her body is filled with energy.  There hasn’t been a day that she hasn’t thought about coming back here since last month.

Last month. The aftermath of that wasn’t pretty. She’d been a wreck that night. In hindsight, she should have seen that one coming. They barely talked that night, Max just held her still while she cried. She felt like an idiot for not protecting her heart better. She’s done an awful job of that recently.

Fame is allowed to come and stand with Violet. After a second of standing there, Fame takes Violet’s hand. Fame’s hand is cold yet somehow clammy. Fingernails dig into Violet’s palm.

“You don’t have to be scared,” Violet whispers.

“I’m not,” Fame murmurs. There’s an unfamiliar tightness to her face, something blank behind her eyes. Violet remember when she used to feel like she could read this girl like a book.

“We need to go out for coffee sometime,” Violet says. She doesn’t put too much thought into it. Fame frowns back at her. “I’ve not seen a lot of you recently.”

Fame takes a second to comprehend, then a small smile covers her lips. She lightly nods. “I’d like that.”

After squeezing Violet’s hand, Fame lets go. Violet’s hands feel weird. When Violet looks down at them, she sees them shaking.

 


 

 

They put Fame, Ginger and Violet around a table. There’s one empty chair and Violet looks at it for just a bit too long.

“Will she be cuffed?” Fame asks. She keeps her voice down.

“She wasn’t last time,” Violet answers. Her hands keep shaking. Quickly, she checks her surroundings again. There’s other people at tables, simply waiting. Violet scans for the woman from last time, but she isn’t here. There’s a lot of all black clothing, an obvious measure to try and keep to the dress code. Violet plays with the edge of her light purple top. She still looks out of place.

“I thought we might all have to cram around a telephone,” Ginger jokes. There’s no smile on her face. The other two don’t laugh.

That chair is bothering her. It looks so lonely.

She wishes Max was here. God, is she one of those people now? When did that happen? She’d make it easier to ignore the empty space at the table. They could hold hands for longer than a few seconds. Violet would have somebody else to focus on.

The first inmate is brought in. It’s not Katya. Violet’s heart jumps into her throat. It beats hard and fast.

 


 

 

Fame feels oddly serene. If there was one thing she didn’t expect from today, it was stability.

Violet’s eyes are nervously scanning the room. Fame watches her. She is tempted to take her hand again, try and soothe her, but she feels like she’d probably make Violet jump out of her seat. Ginger’s gaze is pointed, unwavered, towards the entrance. There’s evident worry on her face. Wide eyes and a loose jaw slapped on her face.

In awe, Fame switches between looking at the two of them. Katya should be proud of herself. She’s got two of the strongest people Fame has ever met wrapped around her little finger. That’s a special kind of power.

The door opens whilst Fame’s watching Ginger. She knows immediately that Katya is there from the look of sheer relief on Ginger’s face. A smile crosses her face.

Fame turns her attention to the door and there she is. Katya. She’s been allowed to walk over to them unaccompanied. The prison garb hangs off of her, clearly too big. There’s a large grin covering her face, those teeth remaining bright white. There’s no bags under her eyes, no physical damage. She seems okay. She truly seems alright.

“I see you brought company Violet,” Katya says. Taking the chair and sitting, she grins at all of them in turn. The other three are stunned silent. “I was told that you had an audition Ginger. How’d that go?”

Ginger smiles before she speaks. “I didn’t get any new work last month, so it can’t have gone too well.”

Clearing her throat before she speaks, Violet adds. “You could always come work with me.”

Rolling her eyes, Ginger shakes her head. “I’ve got work, just not lead roles.”

“She’s a diva,” Katya comments. There’s a laugh in her voice. “Queen Bee.”

“We’re all a group of divas, it’s only common trait. Although, Ginger is the most headstrong.” Fame raises an eyebrow. “And Katya’s a taurus, so you know that’s saying something.”

“Hey, what’s wrong with tourists?” Ginger jokes. Katya laughs at that, in fact she cackles.

She killed someone. A bubble of conflict twists in Fame’s stomach. Usually, she hates the random stuff that just pours out of her head but she can’t pretend she didn’t plan this.

“I don’t hate you,” she opens. Katya stares at her, all amusement drops from her face and she bites her lip. Fame sighs before she continues. “I don’t. They asked you why you did it, and I am empathetic. I understand. I just, I need to know how you felt. I’m sorry if you don’t want to tell me, hell you don’t have to, but I need to know what was going through your head.”

She doesn’t babble on. Fame finishes the sentence and stares straight at Katya. She rests her hands on the table in front of her. Next to her, Violet’s hands continue to shake out of her control. Ginger stops breathing for a second, but can’t find the words to express anything.

Kaya isn’t shocked. She hunches over. Her smile dies on her face. In this moment, she looks wiser than Fame has ever seen her look. All of the youthful energy that is synonymous with Katya fades away.

“You want to know the truth? Or what would make you happiest?” Katya asks. She swallows afterwards.

Fame glares into Katya’s eyes. They used to be so friendly, they used to be so full of life. They are dull.

“I want the truth, that is what would make me happiest.”

Katya’s mouth falls open for a second. The others don’t need to know how that sentence hit just a little too close to home. She can give Fame the truth, at least some of it. She’s put her friends through enough to at least give them that. Plus, the partial truth makes Trixie sympathetic. If she keeps Trixie in a good light, they’ll give her whatever she needs.

“I was used to it, some of it,” Katya says. She tries to keep her voice calm and steady, more for their sake than for her own. She’s recounted this enough times in therapy, she doesn’t need to get emotional today. “I don’t miss him. I won’t excuse his actions like I did. He was a bit of a cunt to be in a relationship with.” Katya snorts. “I remember thinking ‘we need to stop shouting or the neighbours will worry’. Isn’t that fucking hilarious?” Katya laughs. The others don’t. “Then, then I said the wrong thing. He-He smashed a bottle, that was when I got really scared. It hadn’t felt serious until then. I knew Trixie was coming-I was worried about her. He came for me and I just remember trying to do something.” Katya closes her eyes. She remembers the chaos, and his words, getting thrown onto that table. She pictures the blood and Trixie’s soaked hands. There was the blind panic. She had to save Trixie. Trixie Mattel had to get out of it unscathed.

“Why didn’t you call someone? Why’d you take Trixie?” Fame asks. Katya hadn’t been looking at her. Her face hasn’t softened. Katya wonders for a moment if that was the question that Fame even wanted answering.

She spares a glance each for the other two. Ginger’s face is unmoved, picturesque almost. Katya has no idea what she could be thinking. Violet, on the other hand, is looking at the ground. There is tears in her eyes. It makes Katya smile. Slowly, she slips a hand across the table to in front of Violet. Violet jumps at the movement. Looking back and forth between the hand and Katya’s face, she eventually takes her hand into her own. Both of their hands are clammy. Only Violet’s are vibrating with nerves.

She looks at Violet whilst she answers Fame. “I thought, in the moment, that we could get somewhere.” Violet’s eyes widen, she hides the comprehension. “Guess what? I wasn’t in the best of places mentally. I was like ‘Yeah, me and Trix can conquer the world. We can do this.’ because I was, again, fucking terrified. There was a dead guy in my kitchen. I’d kissed him an hour before.”

She doesn’t add the last part usually when she tells this story. Her voice wobbles on the last word. Violet nods, grimacing and closing her eyes. Katya looks at Fame. Fame doesn’t seem particularly happy.

“Thank you,” Fame says. “I mean it.”

Katya waits for the ramble. She waits for the reasoning and the logic and the explanation and the always running nervous mouth. None of it arrives. Instead, Fame reaches across and rests a hand on Katya’s bare forearm. She squeezes and then leaves the touch. It feels so raw. Something deep within Katya snaps. All of the touch gets to her. She’s barely been touched since she arrived. She thinks they probably don’t want to reignite bad memories.

She refuses to cry. Closing her eyes for a moment, she exhales deeply. She remembers the coping mechanisms she’s been taught: deep breaths, rational thoughts. They don’t need to see her lose it.

“I miss all of you,” Katya says. There’s something rough in her voice. “You’ve all grown on me.”

“Like a rash?” Ginger suggests.

Katya smiles at her. “Like a rash,” she repeats.

Ginger grins. “Girl, I told you to use that itch cream.”

It’s a familiar routine, almost nostalgic at this point. There’s always been this casual back and forth. Nothing else has been as comforting at this point.

“She probably tried to eat it,” Violet cuts in.  Her complete monotone makes Katya snort.

Katya shakes her head before changing the subject. “So what’s going on in all of your lives now? Keep it good, this is the closest I’m going to get to reality TV.”

“Is there prize money?” Ginger asks.

Katya shrugs. “I could give you some of my old clothes? Or a stick of gum?”

After laughing, Ginger pulls herself closer to the table. “Is there a way to lose on purpose?”

Katya chuckles again. “I think that’d make you the real winner.”  Her and Ginger exchange a smile.

“I moved into a new flat like four months ago,” Fame answers. She pulls her hand away from Katya’s arm and rests it on top of her thigh.

“Violet said. How’s that?” Katya asks. 

“I mean, not living alone is amazing! Pearl doesn’t ever do her own dishes and her attitude in the morning gets to me,” Fame jokes. It seems perfectly in character. Katya tries to picture it. “We help each other. It is nice, actually.”

“It also means that we have a cool place to hang out,” Ginger says.

Violet’s smile is tight lipped. She nods along. There’s a rigidness to her actions. Everything about her shows are trying to seem cool and measured. Katya sees through it like glass.

“Do you think that?” Katya asks. Her gaze aimed at Violet. “Vi?”

Despite looking at Katya, Violet still seems to blink herself awake. “I don’t go there a lot, but it’s nice. They picked a nice flat.”

Short and concise, Katya raises an eyebrow at that. “What happened?”

Violet rolls her eyes, almost at a professional standard at this point. “Nothing. God, you’re nosey.”

The other two look at the ground. Both of them in various states of discomfort. Katya grimaces.

“What happened?” she repeats. Dread creeps into her voice. Violet said they’d fought. What if they’d fought some more?

Violet’s grip tightens. She sighs. “Pearl told me that she loved me-”

“No way,” Katya jumps in, jaw fallen.

“And I turned her down,” Violet adds. A sad smile crosses her face. “We’ve sorted it out now, but I’m still not going to be in her face too much."

With nobody looking, Fame bites her lip. Ginger exhales deeply.

Katya’s eyebrows are raised. “What? Why?”

It’s painful to see the concern on Katya’s face. She’s missed so much. Violet aches for her. She thought that maybe she’d want to protect her less with the others here. It didn’t happen. She wants to smother her in blankets and pull her by the hand out of the doorways. Violet wants to take Katya home to Trixie’s arms. She wants them both to fix each other, or fix themselves.

“Because it just wouldn’t have worked,” Violet answers. She takes a deep breath. “She wanted too much from me, and I wasn’t in the place where I could give without receiving. I couldn’t be that person. I’m not a charity.”

There’s a thousand reasons. There’s some that Violet can’t even put into words. How could Violet talk to Katya about sacrifice? How could she look somebody in the eye who’s having so much taken from her?

“Vi’s loved up anyway,” Fame adds. Her voice is teasing. Violet could fucking kiss her for lifting the mood back up. Bless her.

Katya looks shocked. She snorts. “Who the fuck would put up with you? You rancid-”

Violet smiles. It doesn’t feel forced. “Remember Max?”

Katya’s eyes widen again. She laughs, curling in on herself. Her hunched shoulders vibrating with the movement. “Max! Like, my neighbour Max? Max? That’s- That’s hilarious.”

Violet looks at the other two. Fame is smirking. Ginger is cackling along too. They’re getting side eyes from the other tables.

“Shut up or we’ll get kicked out,” Violet hisses. Katya and Ginger muffle their noise, both of them exchanging a look and giggling even harder.

“God, that must be an adventure. Does she speak with that accent all the time?” Katya asks.

Rolling her eyes, Violet responds. “It’s a pronunciation thing. It’s hot, you can all fuck off.”

Fame struggles to not laugh too at that one. Violet catches herself grinning at these idiots.

When Katya recovers, she asks Violet a question. “What does Max give you that Pearl couldn’t?”

It seems sincere. Katya doesn’t grimace or imply any sadness to the words. Katya squeezes Violet’s hand, Violet squeezes back without thinking. It’s a good question. All of her thoughts get jammed in her throat.

“She can listen. She can help me? I help her too. We both give each other the same amount of energy. Does that answer it?” Violet says.

Katya frowns. Violet has yet to stop smiling. Max? She didn’t see that one coming. She can see it though. Violet seems okay. Katya’s heart fills with worry. There’s no way for her to talk to Max, Katya won’t be able to get a vibe off of her. She bites her lip. This isn’t an ordinary worry. The others will look for warning signs now anyway. They’ll be more vigilant. Katya doesn’t have to think about this.

“Are you happy?” Katya asks.

It’s a stupid question. If somebody had asked her the exact same thing a year ago, she would have said yes. She didn’t know she could be happier. She didn’t know that being with Trixie would make her feel better. As always, the taste of vanilla ghosts into her memory. It slips away before Katya can cling to it.

Violet nods immediately. “Yes. Well, I mean- she makes me happier. We make each other happier, I like to think.” Violet’s smile relaxes. The grip in their hand contact eases. “She’s cool, Kat. You’d really like her if you took more time to know her.”

Looking into Violet’s eyes, Katya doesn’t doubt that. All of that seemed like the truth. The tension floods out of Katya, she breathes.

“Is she batshit crazy like us?” Katya asks. She smiles, and Violet grins back.

“Totally,” Fame answers.

“Girl, she’s so fucking weird,” Ginger adds. A laugh follows it, a small cough interjects halfway through and cuts it off.

“Gotta stop smoking,” Katya teases.

Ginger shakes her head. “If you could, you’d be right out in smokers with me.”

It’s true, so Katya giggles. “I’d smoke a cigar if I could.” It feels good to joke about it, being here. Although, Fame does look scandalised.

Katya rolls her eyes before speaking to Fame again. “So, how’s life for you?”

 


 

 

Fame’s life seems okay. She didn’t turn the rundown of it into a therapy session either, which is refreshing. Katya is fascinated by how much she seems to have changed in the months, nearly twelve since they last conversed, since they last saw each other. They’re all different.

Katya bites her lip. Ginger’s halfway through a story that’s making Violet laugh. She can’t concentrate. Windows. All she’s going to get is temporary little windows into their lives. There’s going to be so much she’s going to miss. She knows that, accepted it as much as she can, but it still stings.

Violet talks about work. The face of bliss covers her face. Katya knows she’s picturing the applause, the feel of silk and the low lighting. There’s never been a place that Violet’s seemed more at her than at their old club. Sometimes, Katya misses it. It was elating and free. There’s definitely been worse things Katya’s done.

She misses yoga more. She misses the atmosphere, the gentle sweat and ache. The people there were lovely. She felt healthy, despite being an ex-addict who still occasionally smokes cigarettes. It was easy to feel happy there. It was a good respite from all the shit she was putting up with.

“How are you Katya?” Fame asks. “You’ve not really talked about yourself. How are you doing?”

Katya forces on a grin. “I’m still making investments in small firms and hoping I’ll strike gold!”

After snorting, Violet squeezes her hand. Their fingers are interlaced. It feels natural. Katya can imagine Violet’s heart beating in her palm.  It stabilizes her, helps her breathe deeper than she was.

“Be real,” Violet orders. The dismissal in her voice makes Katya’s expression more real. She knows that they don’t have much time left. She’s already desperately trying to commit every detail to memory.

“You know, you can write me letters right? My mama and sister do. Like, all of you could if you wanted. I don’t want to ask for you to write to me daily, but just-” Katya can’t finish the sentence. How can she say ‘give me something to cling to’ without worrying them?

Fame frowns. “Actually, I didn’t know that. I’ll ask about it on the way out-”

“Snail mail? What year is this? 1817?” Ginger cracks. She smiles to the table.

“Wasn’t that the year you were born Katya?” Violet jokes.

They’ve tried to make less noise, but Katya can’t help but cackle at that. She holds onto Violet tightly. “That was good! That was funny!”

Fame chuckles along with them until it becomes quieter. She looks at Katya again. “We’ll write, I can promise that-”

“There’s some rules and stuff. They check the letters, I think they told my family they could, but they don’t advertise it too much,” Katya interjects. She likes the idea of actually having something material to hold on to, words that she can reread and cling to. “They won’t let me send any yet, my therapist thinks I need to focus all my energy on me.” Katya rolls her eyes with it. “Like that’s ever gone very well. Could you send me some stamps though? And plain paper? I think you’re allowed to do that. I just-”

“We’ll sort it Katya. Don’t stress it,” Violet cuts in.

“Five minutes left!” the guard shouts. The other visitors seem as panicked as them. Violet’s heart races. She doesn’t want to go. It’s not easier this time.

“You didn’t answer the question,” Violet points out. This is exactly what happened last time. She wants to know more. She wants to hear that Katya is still okay. She wants that kick of guilt that just keeps on kicking to go away.

Katya stares at the door. She will get pulled through it in a minute. Violet’s word summon her attention and Katya looks back at her. They’re here again, another month down, another to go.

“I feel better than I did when I arrived,” Katya says. It’s the truth. “I’ve got a routine. I have less nightmares. My therapist is nice. We’ve worked through a lot.” Therapy has been good for her. It’s one of the few things that gets her through this,  that bit of comfort when her friends and family can’t be there. She is healing. Or at least, she is bleeding less than she was. The others look at her with raised eyebrows and bitten lips. Katya knows there’s so many questions that they are aching to ask. “My cell is nice? I have my own space because I’m not mentally stable! The food is gross! The company is scary although kinda hilarious? I’ve kept pretty neutral,” Katya finishes.

No details more than necessary. That’ll just scare people.

“Do they all know what you did?” Fame asks.

It’s innocent enough, but it strikes a chord with Katya. None of them know. Nobody knows the sacrifices she made. Then again, isn’t that what makes it a sacrifice? She forgets how to respond. They all stare at her. Her mouth flails. Katya misses Trixie. She always does, but particularly in moments like these. It’d feel less exposed if Trixie was there. She is strong, she knows that. These people make her feel more resilient, but not as much as Trixie does.

“Kat?” Ginger pries. Her words wobble a tiny bit.

Katya blinks. When she talks, there’s a roughness to her voice. She feels a bit choked up. It’s not their fault, none of this is.

“Yeah,” Katya lies. “They do.”

There’s silence. The others must be expecting her to elaborate. She raises an eyebrow at Violet, who squints at her in response.

“I mean, how do they react? Do they think you’re a badass?” Violet responds.

Katya smiles. She runs her thumb along the side of Violet’s hand. “They just sort of leave me be. Sorry to crush that dream.”

Violet chuckles. It’s emptier than the laughter has been during this meeting, Katya can hear the preoccupation of Violet’s thoughts.

Fame interrupts before Katya can even think of something encouraging to say.

“Is there anything else you need us to?” Fame asks. She’s watching the guards, who are eyeing the clock.

Millions of ideas run through Katya’s brain. Violet’s gaze softens, her skin pales.

“Kim’s got a girlfriend now,” Violet whispers. “I was going to say earlier.”

The words work. Katya smiles. “Good for her.” She settles on what she wants to say. “Send my love to everyone, if that’s okay.”

Make everybody feel okay. Send love to Trixie. Heal her. Let her be the person she deserves to be. Eradicate any guilt living within her. Let her know Katya wants to be there as it all goes away.

“I will do,” Violet says. “Promise.”

Katya looks at Violet again. She takes her Violet’s slightly longer hair, the slight amount of age in her eyes that didn’t used to be there. She hopes she’s happy. She wants Violet to be happy.

“Tell Max I’m sorry for what happened. I don’t know how caught up she got in it,” Katya adds. She must have been interrogated. Hell, if she had the opportunity to meet Violet then she must have been knee deep in Katya and Trixie’s aftermath. “None of it was her fault and she’s probably had a shit time.”

Violet’s mouth tightens into a straight line. She doesn’t mention that Max is no longer Katya’s neighbour. She doesn’t mention the regret that Max carries for not offering more help, for not speaking up earlier.

“I’ll do that. I will.”

Perhaps that will help. At least, Violet can’t see how it’d hinder. There’s a part of her that’s tempted to push for something about Trixie. Trixie could probably use the encouragement, but Ginger and Fame might find it odd. It’s not for the best.

“Send letters, please,” Katya pleas. She grits her teeth. The guards have just stood up. “I’ll see you soon.”

Ginger opens her mouth to reply, but is cut off. Visiting time ends. It’ll be a few moments before Katya is escorted away.

Violet’s hand is sweaty. This isn’t easier. She doesn’t want this to end. There’s no way she can stand looking at that empty chair again. Letting go of Katya’s hand is still going to sting.

It does sting. It hurts like a bitch when Katya pries their fingers apart. Katya’s eyes dig into Violet’s.

“I love you,” Violet says. It escapes. She wonders if it sounds like more than it is, but Violet doesn’t have the energy to care about what Ginger thinks.

“I love you too. Cunt,” Katya smiles. The smile reminds Violet of being hugged and she feels safer for a moment; she forgets where she is and is just happy to see her friend. It all crashes back down onto her eventually, but she doesn’t cry like she did last time.

Katya turns her attention to the other two. There’s similar interactions to the one Violet just had. Violet hears complete silence. She watches at Katya is pulled away, she waves when Katya looks over her shoulder one last time.

That empty chair digs into her more than it should. For a moment, she considers kicking it. It’s worthless. There’s not a damn point.

 


 

 

Violet gets home late. It’s almost two in the morning. The light is on.

Ginger needed a drink. Violet joined her. They went after dropping off Fame, which meant she had to see Trixie, which meant the whole thing hurt a hell of a lot more than it had to.

How has it been months? How has Katya been gone so long? Why does Violet still want to scream sometimes? There’s an empty spot, a bleeding space.

“Violet?” Max shouts from, what Violet assumes is the bedroom. Everything is a little fuzzy. Violet pulls off her shoes by the door and doesn’t respond.

Her breath is stiff in her chest. She turns and leans against the door, resting her forehead on the cold wood. She exhales. It isn’t as satisfying as she hoped it’d be.

She pulls away from it and stampedes to the bedroom. Tearing through the flat, she nearly falls over. She finds Max in their bedroom wearing a black dressing gown over a long T-shirt. It’s picturesque yet somehow effortless. Violet kind of wants to roll her eyes at that. Max jumps at Violet’s sudden arrival, her shocked expression taking a moment to settle into comfort.

“You startled me,” Max breathes. Her hair is tied up in a bun, two long strands frame her face. “Are you okay?”

Violet nods as she walks over and pulls Max into her arms. They hug. Violet digs her face into Max’s neck and clasps the fabric on her back in her fingers. For a moment, she closes her eyes.

“It feels so hopeless,” Violet whispers. “Every time I see her, I just feel hopeless.”

She relaxes into Max’s skin. Her back is stroked gently and rhythmically. In the distance, she can hear rain starting to fall.

“I can imagine why,” Max whispers back. She laughs, it tickles Violet’s ear. “It won’t last forever.”

“It feels like it.” The words are barely audible. She is sick of how this feels.

“It won’t. It isn’t hopeless. You’ll, we’ll, see her again. It just isn’t exactly how we’d plan it. It’s not optimal, my darling.” Max pulls her tighter, Violet sinks into it. She clings to it. “Try and look on the sunnier side.”

“I can’t, I don’t have one,” Violet answers. The day has left her exhausted.

“You do. I know that you do,” Max responds. It’s more forceful and louder. “I need you to try.”

Violet pulls away. Max bites her lip. She searches Violet’s eyes, vision darting between them both. She wonders if she should take it back.

She blinks, the world becomes fuzzy. Something deep within her stings, it pulsates and feels so fucking raw. She can’t stand it.

“Katya told me that she was sorry for what happened to you,” Violet says.

Max’s heart stops for a moment. She steps away from Violet, eyes pinned to the ground. “She doesn’t deserve to be. I-”

“It wasn’t your fault. She said that unprovoked, I didn’t mess around in it,” Violet interrupts.

Max looks back at Violet. She closes her eyes and runs a hand over her mouth. Sighing deep, she sits on the edge of the bed.

“Katya, and I say this with fondness, is delusional. She’s been through so much. It’s as simple as that. I can’t trust her to be in the right headspace to dismiss my actions so lightly.”

Elbows digging into her knees, she talks through clasped hands. She looks straight ahead. Violet is reminded of her rosary, that’s a practice she hasn’t revisited since high school.

Violet shakes her head. She walks to Max and kneels at her feet. She rests her hands on Max’s knees.

“You’re telling me to look on the brighter side, but you’re not doing it either,” Violet states. “It’s a bit hypocritical.”

Max looks down at Violet. She tucks a loose strand of hair behind Violet’s ear.

“I could have stopped it. I was her last layer of defense, and I failed her,” Max retorts.

Already shaking her head before Max even finishes, they have returned to their quiet exchange of words.

“And she doesn’t care. She’s accepted it, from what I’ve seen. Honey, it’s in the past. You can’t torture yourself unnecessarily. Bitch, that isn’t optimal.”

Max has the decency to smile at the end.  “I don’t know how to stop it,” she admits. She grimaces afterwards. “I feel like I did wrong and didn’t receive any penance. I-How did I help Katya?”

She remembers all of Pearl’s anger filled accusations. How much truth resided in those words? How many ugly thoughts that Max should have done better than to repress?

Violet shrugs. “I don’t have all the answers. But, you helped us. You help me. Even if that isn’t directly assisting Katya, that isn’t hurting her. You are providing love to the people she loves. How can she hate you for that?” Max breathes in to answer, but can’t find any words. Violet presses a kiss to Max’s arm. “She can’t. There’s no way she can. You can’t take back what you didn’t do, but you can accept it. Not everybody in the world is going to believe that you deserve forgiveness, but you do. I believe it.”

She glances up at Max. There’s a look of utter concentration on her face as she focuses on Violet’s words.

“Thank you,” Max whispers. She can’t find anything else to say. Violet’s head cocks to the side. The strand of hair falls out of place again and Max wants to roll her eyes.

“Do you believe that too?” Violet begs. She sucks on her lips.

“No,” Max confesses. For a moment, Violet’s face drops. “But, I believe that you’re right about accepting it being a step there.”

She can’t not give her something. The way that Violet smiles makes it worth it. It makes Max want to smile too.

“If you’ll try and forgive yourself, I’ll try and look forward?” Violet suggests. She squeezes Max’s leg, she remembers holding Katya’s hand earlier.

“Of course,” Max nods. It’s sincere.

Violet rolls her eyes. “I’ll just remember that there’s no such thing as hopelessness-”

“There isn’t! Well, there is. I just don’t like to cave to it,” Max confesses. She grimaces before grinning, Violet laughs.

It falls into quiet. Violet used to not like moments like these. They used to be so empty and boring.

“You deserve more than feeling sad about something you can’t change,” Violet comments. She can her the absence of amusement.

After a second, Max reaches out and strokes the back of her fingers against Violet’s cheekbones. Violet leans into the touch. It’s easier to breathe. It’s easier to do a lot of things with Max beside her. The emptiness of that chair flies away. It all flies away.

“As do you, my darling.”

 


 

 

A year. How has it been a year?

Trixie watches the clock. Her mouth is dry. Has she drank anything today? She’s not touched alcohol in months, but a girl can be tempted. There’s an emptiness in her torso. It could be hunger, it could be anything else. At this point, Trixie simply doesn’t know. She doesn’t.

She’s not moved today. Pearl came to check on her, as did Fame. She blanked them. It’s all background noise. It’s all nothing.

She killed someone a year ago. He’s been dead for that long.

She thinks back to everything that happened: the days after, that first kiss, that pool of blood, the fear, the dread, the tears and all of the pain. Honestly, it doesn’t feel like it happened. It feels like she watched the whole thing through a scream. Trixie wants to shout at her past self to hold her closer, to kiss her longer. She would do anything for the simple exchange of some words with Katya right now.

She’d tell her that she loves her. She’d tell her that she is sorry for everything she has done. She’d tell her that she’s working hard, and it is hard, but she’s getting somewhere. The possibility that Katya would smile at her makes her ache. How is she right now? Does she feel better than she did? Is she upset today?

Everything runs around in her head.

What could have happened?

This didn’t have to be the day it is. Today could have started with a kiss, a whispered ‘good morning’ and the assurance that she wouldn’t be waking up alone tomorrow. Katya’s hair would be longer. The blonde in it wouldn’t get bleached by the sun in this city, but it’d lighten in Miami. They’d visit there, they’re going to at some point. At least, Trixie hopes they will. It might have taken longer for them to get together if it hadn’t have happened. If Trixie hadn’t called Katya that day and Katya had lived, Katya might not have left him straight away. Trixie likes to imagine that she wouldn’t have sat by happily and let Katya throw her life away. Would she have watched Katya get married with a smile on her face? The thought disgusts her.

Trixie thinks back to their time together before this world caught them and refused to let go. She closes her eyes and remembers their kisses. She remembers their first kiss, how scared she’d been. The taste of vanilla has never been the same since. The writing of their bucket list jumps into her head, Katya asking to marry her. She’d seemed so scared.

If they hadn’t got caught, this would still be a miserable day. However, Trixie would have to make sure Katya was okay. Katya would look after her too. They’d power through bad days, live life in the fast lane and enjoy every single moment of the good days.

If she still had Katya here, she could tell her the truth. She could tell her how much she misses her. She could tell her that Katya, just thinking of her, makes her stronger. Their love has made her stronger. Their love is the only reason she works as hard as she does, the only reason that she hasn’t shut down completely. Katya would probably tell her that she shouldn’t think so much about what happened, that she should just live in this moment. If Trixie thinks hard enough, she can hear her saying those exact words. She can hear her laughter afterwards and it fills her up with happiness, even if it only lasts for a moment.

She misses telling the complete truth, almost as much as she misses normality. It was a larger part of her than she thought it was. Deceit is her new weapon, she thinks that was always a part of Katya’s arsenal anyway. None of her flatmates know that she’s saving money. They don’t know that she’s paying for her rent, her food, her therapy and next to nothing else  whilst throwing every penny she can into a secure place. It’d pose too many questions with risky answers. She doesn’t feel completely comfortable lying to the people she loves. Fame shares so many details about her life, all of the others do too. What Trixie doesn’t feel, at least in regards to her lies, is guilty. She’s learnt not to. It keeps her safe. She’d rather lie and be safe, than tell the truth and hurt people. This omission is necessary, even if she despises it.

She hears shuffling of feet in the flat. It’s probably just Pearl making her way to the bathroom, but it brings her to her surroundings. Her body pulsates with ache as she pulls herself upward. She watches her feet spread against the carpet. She glances at her pink toenails; they’ve been painted over and over again, polish directly onto the chips.

Slowly, she opens her bedside dresser. It’s white and filled with the little things that Trixie couldn’t bare to throw out. She created the perfect hiding place. Nobody would think they were out of place. There’s no chance of repeating the Violet incident.

It’s only after she turns on her lamp that she spots the little slither of pink.

She scrabbles for it, pulling the ring onto her finger as quickly as possible. She breathes. She smiles. How is it so simple of a reminder means so much? She feels immediately more true to herself. Everything feels more real. She feels stronger.

She sees the paper. One corner of it got ripped somewhere along the way, the edges curl upwards. Slowly, running her fingers over the soft texture, she unfolds it. She smooths it on her thigh and pours her attention into every single word they wrote. Katya’s scrawled additions and neat handwriting make her smile. It all just refreshes her senses. In the distance, she hears Katya’s laughter. She imagines that Pearl’s movements around this flat are Katya’s and it’s brilliant. It’s divine. As she continues to reread and reread, one sentence catches her eye in particular.

‘Get a proper engagement ring’

After a little while, she nods to herself. At least she knows what she’ll do tomorrow. She pictures having a little blue velvet box in this drawer, next to her while she sleeps. It’s not perfect, but she likes the idea. It’s not perfect, but she doesn’t need perfect anyway.

In a minute, she’ll go talk to Pearl. She thinks she might ask for a hug, maybe they’ll cook. Pearl will treat her like cotton wool, but still ridicule her just a little. Fame will come home and kiss her on the cheek and hug her tight like she’s stopping her from shattering into shards. Trixie will close her eyes and imagine, just like she’s been doing in here, that there’s no secret to keep. Before she goes to bed tonight, she’ll tell each of them that she loves them. They’ll laugh it off, but Trixie won’t be joking.

She won’t cry. No matter what. She won’t cry right now. She won’t cry when they say ‘I love you back’. She won’t cry when she writes that inevitable letter to Katya and just stuffs it into a fucking drawer. Katya has sacrificed enough, Trixie has sacrificed enough, for her to not spend all day weeping into a pillow. She is stronger than that, and she knows exactly why. Even if she doesn’t always feel completely okay, she knows the truth, the only truth that matters.

She is stronger because she loves her. It is simple, gospel. She has a fighting force, a dream, a pillar, a grounder, a partner, a lover and a warrior. She is stronger because she knows she wants to be all of that for Katya too. Even if it takes years, she will do it. If it takes years, it just leaves her more time to work with.

She smiles. Not even feeling the need to work up the energy to do it, she stands. She folds up the bucket list and presses it to her lips. She walks to the bedside and opens her hiding place.

Something rolls to the front of the drawer. Trixie frowns at it, pulling it into her palm. She grins when she clocks what it is. It’s the snowglobe Katya bought Trixie for christmas a few years ago. She’d forgotten that it’d ended up in here after hastily being packed away in the move. God, she doesn’t even feel like the girl this was given to. Then again, she doesn’t really feel like the girl that got that acceptance call a year ago. She’s newer than that, she’s still healing. This Trixie is more difficult than that Trixie, harder to get along with, less tolerating and less likely to cry at films. She’s seen more and loved more. She is more motivated and kinder. She is a better liar now than she has ever been.

Trixie Mattel has changed. And if she thinks about it, she doesn't mind that.

Chapter Text

She didn’t hear it at first.

“What?” Katya demands.

Her therapist smiles at her. She liked Sasha since the start, Katya’s told her things that she never would have imagined. It was easier to continue the lie than Katya thought it would be. There’s a reason she still sees her six years later.

“You’re here for three more days, and then they’re going to put you on monitored probation. I don’t think I’m supposed to be telling you, so act shocked.”

Katya doesn’t have to right now. She couldn’t have guessed, wouldn’t have. At this point, she’d barely celebrated being over halfway through her sentence.

Home.

She’s going home.

Where even is home anymore?

It’s not like she hasn’t heard from everybody. She gets letters. She gets pictures. All of her friends beam at her in them, Trixie always absent. Then again, Katya doubts she’d be allowed any contact with her. They probably didn’t want to risk it getting taken away. She’s happy about that. She’s clung to those photos like a lifeline, the ones of her parents and the ones of her friends. Those letters are what got her through the bad nights. They pulled her through the times that Sasha couldn’t be there and Katya was left shaking on the ground. Every detail was hope, every sign that they still loved her was strength.

Home has never stayed as one place for very long. The home she’s had the most time in was Boston with her family, but she can’t really look back at her childhood as being the happiest even if it wasn’t her family’s fault. New York City beckoned, it was either there or LA, and she doesn’t really know why she chose it.

She’s still in the state, so is New York home still? She can’t say she just belongs in a state, can she? She knows she doesn’t feel at home in this building. She knows that, whilst this experience has been a mixed bag of good and bad, she wouldn’t voluntarily spend another day here. Does that quell that logic? Is she home, even if she doesn’t feel like she belongs?

Is it somewhere more specific? It used to be that flat, she supposes. The one before her shared one. It harboured her in the shit bits and the glory. It was her sanctuary, even if she hated it at points. Is that home? She used to feel comfortable at the club she worked at with Violet, and the ones she visited. She felt comfortable in front of all those people, at her happiest there. After that, there was the studio. She can’t go back there now. It closed down two years ago.

“What do you consider home to be?” Katya asks.

She thinks for a moment of the flat she shared with him. There’s no time needed to mull over if that was a home; it wasn’t. It was a prison far worse than this one.

“It depends on your definition of home. Why do you ask?” Sasha responds. Her face always remains blank, eyes intelligent and waiting. There’s always a level of dignity in her poise. It’s fascinating.

“It felt right to ask,” Katya admits. She rubs her hands together, a habit she’s gotten into opposed to biting her nails.  “Where am I going when I get out of here?”

Sasha always holds a pen between two of her fingers. She tends to fiddle with it absentmindedly whilst she’s analyzing Katya. Everytime Katya sees it, she is reminded of her old trusty pack of cigarettes. They’ve been long abandoned now. Hopefully, that’s for good.

“Don’t hold me word for word on this, but you won’t be allowed to leave the state. So, they’ll find you somewhere within the city. Regardless, where would you want to go Katya? That’s what matters right now.”

Katya frowns. “Can you put a word in?”

Smiling, Sasha shakes her head. “No. I’m just curious.”

Katya chuckles. “So, how long has the cat been dead and just how many maggots is it covered by?”

Sasha doesn’t stop smiling, but Katya knows she’ll shut down the joke. It’s just how this works. At this point, it feels awfully rehearsed.

“I don’t know, I’ve always been more of a dog person.”

It’s a cue to cut back to the real shit. That’s fine. Katya’s gotten better at the honest side of this.

“I’d like to go with my friends. Although, I don’t really know most of my friends anymore.”

It’s true, and Katya doesn’t like to think about it. She sees Violet, she sees Fame occasionally and Ginger. Pearl has never stepped foot into this prison, although she sends messages in the letters Fame sends. Kim’s been radio silent. She knows what’s going on in her life, but has no idea where they stand. There’s been bits from her old work colleagues, those have faded as time has progressed. She’s been left with the skeleton of her social life and doesn’t know if she’ll ever be able to resuscitate it.

At least Trixie’s okay. She’s okay. At least, the version of herself that Trixie is showing her friends is doing A-okay. Her heart races at the thought of her, like it has all this time.She smiles just a little bit.

If she goes home, she’ll get to see Trixie.

Her heart stops. She hadn’t thought that far ahead. In her head, there’s still years to go before she’s back. There’s been versions of their meeting running about in her head since she got in her. It’s what has lulled her into sleep, powered her through the day and kept her sane. However, the possibility of it being real hadn’t sunk in. Her eyes widen. Her breath catches in her throat. How different will Trixie look? Will she still laugh like she used to? How will this whole thing have changed her? Katya feels the pull in her chest that she always feels when she thinks of her fiance. There’s a hint of uncertainty, a fuck ton of love and something more. Katya gets to rekindle that. She gets to keep her promises. This is nearly over. They’ve almost won.

“Katya? Did you hear me?”

She looks back at Sasha. There’s concern in her voice, her brow is furrowed. Katya wants to run into her arms, kiss her on the cheek and thank her for everything.

“Nope. Not at all.”

Sasha smiles at that. “Any particular reason?” she asks.

She might finally get to fix some messes. She’ll get to kiss some wounds that have been so close to healing but have never completely fixed closed. There’s the possibility that Katya will hold Trixie close to her again. The thought of that relaxes her, seeping into her bones.

“I guess it just really sunk in.”

Sasha nods at her. She reminds Katya of a pendulum, always in motion and always measured.

“Is that a good thing or a bad thing?”

Katya almost laughs. “How would it be a bad thing? I want to see my friends and family. I want to smoke a whole pack of cigarettes.”

She wants to kiss someone. She want to wear someone else’s clothes. She wants it all.

There’s something else in Sasha’s face. Katya’s gotten good at seeing past the subtlety. It could be worry or fear. Sasha definitely doesn’t feel as optimistic as Katya. “Do you have any concerns? If you’re completely optimistic, then so am I.”

Liar. Katya bites her cheek. It’s times like this that she used to chew on her fingernails or smoke.

“What is there to feel unhappy about? I’m getting out of here, maybe. I have the world, it’s my oyster! The world is my oyster!”

Sasha raises an eyebrow. She smiles. It’s one of fondness, or at least Katya likes to think it is.

“Yekaterina Petrovna Zamolodchikova-”

“Oh we’re bringing out the ‘whoose Russian pronunciation is better’ game-”

“It’s mine. I lived there,” Sasha interrupts seamlessly. “You’ve discussed feeling insecure in previous sessions. Does leaving provoke any feelings of insecurity? Or any other negative feelings?”

Katya opens her mouth to dismiss it, but she closes it after a second. Her lips draw into a thin line.

Sasha is waiting for her to show some sort of remorse. The realisation makes Katya swallow. She forgets the state she was in when she first met Sasha. Every worry in her, it poured out. There was nobody else that would listen, that could listen. It’s not exactly like she could tell her family when they visited. Her mother doesn’t need to know everything Katya’s done. There’s a line that Katya just doesn’t have the guts to cross. Her friends couldn’t be told, they were too fragile and took too long to arrive.

She told Sasha about how he made her feel, in every stage. The guilt that she felt regarding him bubbled to the surface, and it was Sasha who helped Katya pop them. She won’t lie and say she hasn’t cried in this room. She’s blubbered in here whilst Sasha’s handed her tissues. They didn’t just cover him, they covered before that too. Sasha clearly wanted to get into her head, and she did.

“It’s weird to think about just how much you know about me when I know zero about you,” Katya comments.

“That’s not true,” she replies. “You know where I grew up, my birthday, where I work, why my hands are always covered in paint. You know enough. Right now, knowing you is more important.”

Katya snorts. “But I suck!”

Grinning, Sasha adds, “and how does that make you feel?” She sits up straighter whilst Katya laughs, kicking her feet slightly as she does. “In all seriousness, you are a neutral being in this world. You have every opportunity to bounce back from this and I believe, with the correct support, that you will. Don’t beat yourself down before you give yourself a chance to grow.”

Bounce back? Katya raises an eyebrow. “I was joking.”

“I know,” Sasha says. “However, you have a history of using humour to conceal your true feelings.” The smile doesn’t leave her face. “So, are you prepared to be honest with the both of us or do you need time?”

After frowning, Katya sighs. Katya does question the professionalism sometimes, but Sasha works for her. They get shit done.

The word honest tastes sour in her mouth if the word is directed at anybody but Trixie.

“Honestly? I’m positive. I guess, there’s nothing I can do to stop it. It’s not a bad thing. I have improved a lot.” Katya bites her lip. “I don’t think about him as much.”

Sasha nods along. “Do you think you’ll think about him more in the outside world?”

It’s a good question. He haunted her for a while. Sasha would know that. The nightmares still persevere, Katya thinks they probably always will. She’s lost weight in the time she’s been here. She hated that when it happened, the feeling that she’d become what he’d wanted in the end after all. Her hair is still short. It’s a little shorter than how Trixie cut it. She feels as though her experiences are in her face. Her laughter lines are harder set, there’s a tiny scar above her lip. She doesn’t mind it. In here, it’s easier to view herself neutrally. There’s nothing she can do to conceal the reality of what she looks like. That might change.

“I don’t know,” Katya admits. “I really don’t.” She sighs. “It could happen. I can see it happening, but I can’t just forget him. I don’t want to.”

Sasha nods, eyes wide and sympathetic. “Why’s that?”

This is a part that Katya can’t indulge Sasha in. She hates hitting these walls. It’s so easy to lie. Although, sometimes she wonders if Sasha sees straight through it.

“It would feel like going backwards,” Katya says.

It would. She also knows that if she forget him, she would forget the days after he died. If she forgot him, she wouldn’t feel lucky to be alive. If she forgot him, she wouldn’t have been given a shot at a happier life. There’d be no Trixie and Katya without him. Well, there could have been. Katya just likes to at least imagine there was some good with all the fucking bad.

She wouldn’t know how strong she can be if she hadn’t have gone through everything she had gone through.

“That feels sensible,” Sasha beams. She has a small glimmer of victory in her smile. Katya clearly said what Sasha wanted her to say. “So, how has the last week been?”

They jump into their regular conversation. Day by day, they recount Katya’s feelings. It feels like no time at all has passed before Sasha is looking at the clock.

“We have only a few minutes left, is there anything else you’d like to discuss?”

There’s not anything. Katya hugs herself, tapping her fingers along her ribs.

“The perpetual never-ending decadent claws of capitalism?” Katya suggests.

Sasha nods with complete sincerity. “Whilst I would love to, and on any other day of the week I would, I want to take a more summary approach to these last few minutes if you’ll let me.”

It’s quiet. There’s some footsteps in the distance, a buzz of a door being opened. Sporadically, there’s distant traffic sounds.

Katya doesn’t notice any of that. She notices the hint of sadness behind Sasha’s eyes, the insincerity of her smile. It sinks in.

“This is the last time I’m going to see you, isn’t it?” Katya asks.

Sasha and Katya exchange eye contact for a long moment before Sasha nods. Katya swallows, she looks at the ground whilst heaving in a deep breath.

“As long as everything goes according to plan in regards to your parole, yes.”

It makes sense. However, Katya can’t quite compute that. She holds her body tighter.

“God, I owe you a fucking lot,” Katya says. There’s laughter in her voice. It almost makes Sasha cringe.

She shakes her head. “Everything you have, everything you’re going to do, is down to you. You living a happier life is completely your fault. I believe that you have that strength. I believe everybody has a way of finding it. My happiness comes from seeing you finding it.”

Sasha pulls on the bottom of her pencil skirt, her fingers fidgeting nervously. Katya willfully ignores it. She swallows away the lump in her throat. She hadn’t had time to even think about saying goodbye to the few friends she’d made in here, Sasha being one of them. It’s a struggle to even find any words.

“I’m going to try damn hard,” Katya declares. It’s true. They both know just how stubborn Katya is.

“I believe that,” Sasha affirms. She smiles at Katya. “If I can express my opinion-”

“No-”

“I think you’re going to be perfectly okay,” Sasha finishes. “You have so much progress.”

Katya rolls her eyes, smiling. “Am I one of your success stories?”

Sasha beams, her smile all teeth. “You’re my protege.”

They both laugh, Katya cackling whilst Sasha chuckles along. Katya’s slouching, her head between her knees before she straightens back up. She places a hand on each leg.

Sasha compares Katya to the person she knew for a moment. She was so much more shut off when she arrived. It’s been a four year struggle to just get her to talk properly, to say when she’s not feeling so good. It’s been nice to see her heal. She’ll miss that, even if she shouldn’t.

“This is a small world. I might see you around,” Sasha adds.

For a moment, Katya thinks she might cry. It’s overwhelming. She’s so excited, so worried and sad. Sasha’s been a good person to her. She would have wanted time to think of something to say. Her heart beats hard in her chest. She’s going home, and it hasn’t exactly been the most pleasant of experiences so far. What if that continues? What’s going to happen to her?

“If we do, I’ll buy you a coffee,” Katya says.

It takes Sasha a moment to smile, it spreads across her face. “I drink decaf.”

“Of course you do,” Katya jokes.

Sasha chuckles. After a moment, she outstretches a hand for Katya to take. It’s a tentative hand shake.

“You’ve been a pleasure to work with.”

Katya’s mind storms through every single meeting in here. She pours through the tears, the laughter and the heartbreak. It doesn’t hurt like it used to. It really doesn’t.

“You too.”

 


 

Her last box seems less heavy than the rest, thank god. Trixie rubs her hands together to scrape off the dirt. Her plastic ring is getting tight even on her pinky finger. The cool touch of paper rests against her breast.

“That everything?” Violet asks. She’s sat on Pearl and Trixie’s new couch. Max and Fame are sorting out the kitchen. From the looks of things, Ginger has vacated assisting in the move to go smoke. Kim is currently working.

“Yup. Pearl’s just sorting out the van now.”

“Oh thank god!” Violet shouts. She collapses into laying down. With just an air of melodrama, she rests the back of her arm over her forehead. “Do we get pizza now?”

Trixie snorts. It’s only one in the afternoon, and it’s a Sunday.

“Do you need time to work it off before you cinch tomorrow?” Trixie teases. She walks to the sofa and pokes Violet in the shin.

“Oh fuck  off, I work out. Besides, plus-sized dancers are beautiful,” Violet responds. She kicks at Trixie. “I live for them!”

Trixie laughs. “At this rate, I’m just living for poptarts.”

“Hey! Me too!” Pearl adds. Shutting the door with her foot, she carries a bag in her arms. Ginger has followed her in. The stench of cigarettes floats in and fills Trixie’s mind with memories.

“We talking about poptarts?” Ginger asks.

“Your diets better not fall apart because I’m moving out!” Fame shouts in.

There’s a little laughter. Pearl grins. “Well seeing as all you’re going to eat is dick, you can’t judge us!”

Fame moving out had been a long time coming. He keeps her calm, she isn’t too reliant on him either. Trixie has taken to trusting the guy. It’s a nice bonus that, upon meeting him, Violet threatened his life if she so much as hurt her feelings. He’d taken that seriously. In hindsight, Fame had probably told him about what had happened with the last long-term boyfriend within their group.

“He’s tall, he’s probably hung,” Violet comments. She’s pushed herself up against the side of the couch, which contains a pullout bed, Trixie has sat beside her. Ginger sits in their lone arm chair, Pearl perches on the side of it.

All of the chairs point towards one small, aged television. There’s one window in the middle of the wall, which oversees the bleak day surrounding them. The walls are mustard yellow. Trixie’s room is closest to them, the wall behind them adjoining them to it. Across from her room is a blue bathroom. Next to that is Pearl’s room. Trixie is a little bit too excited to paint, it’s nice that her and Pearl get to chose just between them. Fame always interrupted their colour schemes.

“Fame! How big is your boyfriend’s dick?” Pearl calls out.

There’s silence. Afterwards, Max enters the room. The other four watch her. She coughs before she speaks.

“Apparently, you all need to ‘butt out’ of her business.”

Pearl and Violet exchange a look. Both of them shake their head tutting.

“I’m guessing, smaller than average?” Violet comments.

“Why is a big dick even that great?” Trixie defends. “Great! This is just like regular sex but I have to worry about this hurting tomorrow!”

The others laugh. Ginger tuts. “It’s surprising you even remember what sex is at this point-”

Trixie’s halfway through sighing, preparing for defense, when Pearl interrupts. “Don’t be mean Ginge.” She swats at Ginger’s shoulder before grinning. “When it’s time, Trixie will come to me and I will blow her fucking mind.”

“Can I watch?” Violet asks. Smiling, Max coughs. Violet looks at her before looking back at Pearl. “Oh. Sorry. Can we watch?”

Trixie cackles, throwing her head back. At least they make it easy to laugh at now, the pressuring made her feel sick at first. It’s only been the last year or so that they’ve done it, ever since she finished therapy she supposes.

“When are you going on tour again so I don’t have to fucking deal with you?” Trixie asks.

Max makes her way around the couch, placing herself on Violet’s lap.The movement is slinky. Fame has been left in the kitchen by herself.

“Not for another two months,” Max answered. She presses her lips delicately to Violet’s temple. “Then it’s just for two weeks.”

“Working the clubs here still until then,” Violet adds. “Five nights a week, turning it out.” She looks up at Max and blows a kiss.

Pearl keeps on smiling. “You sound like you should have your own workout tape.”

Violet laughs, Pearl’s grin grows. “Oh my god, could you imagine?”

“No,” Ginger intersects. The group are largely unphased, used to it by now. They ignore her.

“The only kind of tape Violet would have is a sex tape,” Trixie adds.

“And I’ve been there, done that,” Violet responds.

Fame struts into the room. There’s nowhere left to sit and she scans the room before settling for the other side of Ginger’s armchair.

“I imagine it was quite artistic,” Fame comments.

Max nods. “I can agree with that. There was a quality to the cinematography.”

There’s a chuckle from around the room. Fame looks at Pearl and then Trixie.

“I’m going to miss living with you,” she comments. She smiles a them both and they smile back.

“You’d better not get all soppy on me,” Ginger jokes. “I didn’t sign up for that. I signed up for free pizza.”

“I’m not going to cry. I don’t need to,” Fame responds. She nods at her old roommates. “You both know I love and respect you, correct?” They each nod. “Then we’re good. Wanna watch a movie?”

There’s assent from the group, and they move on.

 


 

Pearl and Fame sit in front of the largest couch, leaning up besides their friends legs. Squeezed in between Max and Trixie is Violet. Ginger has the other armchair to herself. Kim and Naomi are on her way, texting Trixie a live report of the public transport in the city. It’s nice. Trixie loves moments like these.

She sees Violet’s phone light up in her palm. “That Kim?” Trixie asks. Violet rolls her eyes. Thinking nothing of it, Trixie looks back on the screen. She doesn’t notice Violet’s jaw drop, her eyes widening.

Frantically, Violet searches the room. She ticks people off. Can’t tell Ginger, she cares too much about Katya to help. Can’t tell Pearl, her priority is not Katya but she doesn’t know the full story. Can’t tell Max, she doesn’t know Katya that well. Not Kim, she also cares too much about Trixie.

Her eyes settle on Fame, who is laughing at some remark Ginger made.

Quickly, Violet stands up. Energy has jumped into her. Max looks up at her and frowns. “Everything okay?”

Violet looks back at her partner. The concern is real, but Violet can’t tell her now. She needs to discuss it with somebody in the same shoes as her first. Max will understand.

Her heart races. She leans over and presses a kiss to Max’s hairline before stepping over her friends. She heads towards the kitchen.

She hadn’t given two thoughts to adding Katya’s sister on social media. It just meant that she got more information that she can send onwards to Katya when she saw her next. They’d never talked properly, Violet might have sent her a message with just a affirmation of Katya’s wellbeing.

It’s weird. How is it that she’s been thinking about this day for years but she’d never actually thought about it? She’d never thought about how it’d go. What a stupid oversight. Then again, she didn’t think it’d happen this quickly either.

She puts her phone down on the empty counter top, avoiding the boxes strewn across the floor. The message glares at her.

‘My mom just got a call. My sister’s being let out on parole in four days. We’re going to come down and meet her, but we can’t get down for a week. I know it’s short notice and a lot to ask, but could you pick her up at nine am on Tuesday and keep an eye on her until Friday? I can send you money. Please x’

Violet’s heart has dropped into her stomach. It’s so unexpected. Her expression is somewhere between bliss and utter shock. What does she do? Of course she can pick up Katya. Of course. How is she going to tell the others? Kim and Pearl don’t even really acknowledge her absence. They both have a level of distaste towards her. This’ll cause tensions.

Violet grins.

Fuck them. Katya’s coming home. Violet covers her face with her hands and smiles into her palms. Katya’s coming back. There’s no words for the level of excitement. There’s so much that Violet has wanted to talk about with Katya. There’s so much they all get to do together now. All of that isn’t even taking Katya getting to be a part of everybody else’s lives again into account. Violet sees the way that Katya and Trixie look when the other is brought up. That pain gets to be subdued. Ginger and Fame will be glad to have Katya back with them, safe with them.

It’s been a gradual process, she can already say she doesn’t feel it as strong as she did years ago, but suddenly she doesn’t feel hopeless at all. She can work with this. They all can. This isn’t the best option, but it’ll fucking do. Violet wants to run with it.

Her hands shake as she reaches out to text Katya’s sister back. She keeps it succinct, just a simple affirmation. It’s an ‘of course’ and how could it be anything else? She sends the text and leaves a kiss at the end.

“Vi? You okay?” Violet’s head snaps up to see Fame in the doorframe. She rests her hands on either side and tilts her head to the side; she frowns at Violet.

Words jam in her throat. In the end, she just passes her phone over to Fame and lets her read. Fame’s eyes widen, her mouth falls open. She looks at Violet and then back at the phone.

“Oh shit,” Fame says. Her voice is so monotone and understated that Violet can’t help but laugh. Raising an eyebrow at Violet, Fame doesn’t look at all amused. “How are we going to handle this Violet?”

Violet stops giggling. She shakes her head. “Well, we have two options. We either go and tell everyone right now and get it out in the open or we keep it a secret.”

Nodding along, Fame bites her lip. “What about Trixie?”

It’s a good question, although Violet knows Fame doesn’t know completely why. Violet’s heart is racing.

“She deserves to know.”

Fame grits her teeth as she nods. A shiver runs through Violet. She hadn’t thought this far ahead either. How are the others going to want to handle the Katya and Trixie situation? None of them know the full picture. They don’t know why Trixie doesn’t date. Fame doesn’t know that Trixie will be happy to hear this, happier than Violet is.

“This is going to make pizza really awkward, I hope you know that.”

It takes Violet a second to realize it was actually a joke. She wants to laugh and fucking laugh. There’s a smile containing a grimace plastered on Fame’s face. Automatically, she reaches out and pulls Fame into a quick hug. It slows her heart beat just enough for her to take a deep breath.

“Let's bring Katya home,” Violet whispers. It feels monumental, albeit it a little dramatically put.

Fame squeezes her before she lets her go.

 


 

Fame stands a little to the side of her, remote in her hand from pausing their film. The room is silent. All of their eyes are pinned on Violet.

“Oh great, what’s up now?” Ginger asks. “You got an STD? Need a xanax?”

Violet raises her eyebrows at Ginger. She’s surprised to find that Ginger is biting her lip. She looks scared. They’ve had enough announcements over the years she guesses. There’s been enough go wrong for all of them. Violet sighs.

“It’s okay. I-Um-I just got a text. They’re letting Katya out.”

She doesn’t completely know what to expect. There wasn’t enough time to think. Sometimes, Violet gets sick of pouring so much thought into stuff like this. How is she meant to be delicate with every word? It’s not like Katya can come home slowly, piece by piece.

Ginger looks like she got slapped. Violet doesn’t know why her eyes gravitate towards her, but they do. There’s a journey on her face. Shock registers first, it is succeeded by a continuation of lip chewing. She is blank for a moment before she smiles. It’s a small smile and she wipes at her eyes. “When?”

There’s love in Ginger’s voice and it makes Violet want to hug her. She understands how Violet feels. She’s probably the only other person here who feels the feelings Violet does. She could kiss her for not deflecting with a joke.

“Thursday,” Violet answers. She turns her attention to Max, avoiding looking at the others quite yet. “Her sister’s coming down a few day after. I said that I’d go get her and take care of her. I didn’t think you’d mind.”

Max is nodding along before Violet even finishes talking. “Of course I don’t.” She smiles at her. There’s an unspoken addition, that she’d do anything to help Katya.

“Why now?” Her attention is snapped to Pearl. Pearl has a hand over her mouth. Her eyes are tired. “Why have they let her go now? She’s meant to have years left.”

Violet doesn’t completely get how to react. For a second, her breath catches in her throat. “I don’t know. It didn’t say.”

“Can I come with you to get her?” Ginger asks.

Violet smiles back at her. “Yes.”

A loud snort comes from Pearl. “She’s not coming back from fucking Europe.”

Violet stares Pearl down. Pearl unashamedly glares back.

“What’s got you all agitated?” Violet demands. She knows, of course she does.

There’s a thick silence in the room. For a split second, Violet looks to Trixie. Trixie is staring at her hand, specifically the little piece of pink that resides on her pinkie finger. Violet softens.

Pearl grimaces. “I don’t hate her. I don’t. I just don’t understand why she did what she did. I also don’t understand why you’re all so happy to see her come back with all the fucking damage she caused. We all have had shit happen to us, excuse me for not getting why she’s allowed to hurt people and nobody else is.”

She is so calm that it almost scares Violet. Pearl’s stood up now, posture straight. It’s a beacon of lacking fear. In a way, Violet would be proud of her for standing up for how she feels if she wasn’t a fucking idiot.

“She’s done time,” Ginger points out. “She’s not asked to be let out and they’ve just let her walk.”

Pearl sighs. “I just think you’re simplifying it. We’ve talked about this enough times. We all have our own feelings regarding Katya, but we can’t ignore that Katya fucked up. Am I supposed to just shut up about that?”

She’s held Trixie through enough breakdowns. She’s seen how they all were affected. She’s been in Katya’s shoes and only hurt herself, how is she meant to be sympathetic?

“So what-” Ginger starts.

Violet cuts her off. “I’m not going to change your mind. I know that. What do you want? To not see her?”

Pearl’s expression is blank for that still moment before she nods. “No. I don’t.”

Pearl looks at Trixie. Violet’s heart breaks a tiny bit, is this loyalty? There’s concern in that expression. The tall and strong stance is protective. All of her anger for Pearl evaporates and pride spills into her chest. She doesn’t smile. “Okay,” she whispers. “Fair enough.”

She tries not to be too obvious when she looks at Trixie. It’s just a little bit of side eye. Violet holds her breath. Trixie’s mouth is pulled into a tight line, her hands pulled into fists. There’s tears in her eyes. Her breathing is deep, but even.

“This isn’t the worst bit of news we could have got,” Fame points out. She shrugs as she says it.

It’s a way to remain positive Violet supposes. She can’t help but smirk, exchanging a look with Max who does the same thing back.

“We’ve had worse,” Ginger jokes. “We don’t need to flip our shit over this. We’ll sort it.”

Trixie remains silent. Her heart is palpitating. She wants to run, skip and fucking jump. She wants to throttle Pearl. She wants to start sobbing. She wants to do anything but wait those few days. It needs to be over. It gets to be over this soon. Trixie’s chest swells, a smile threatens to erupt on her face. Her hands start shaking. She feels as though she’s had water thrown over her. She is completely awake.

There’s a knock at the door. The others all immediately look. Trixie uses the opportunity to stand up and quickly run to her bedroom. She doesn’t slam the door, but quickly locks it instead.

She hears Kim’s voice cut into the silence through the wall. It’s too muffled to make out words. There’s a tiny bout of laughter before the news is delivered. Silence digs in. Trixie grits her teeth. Somebody will knock in a moment, and Trixie will ignore it. She’s stopped doing that. However, she’s going to allow herself this little relapse.

She sits down on the edge of her bed. Slowly, she puts her head in her hands. It’s weird. She can’t quite get her head around this. It hurts more than she ever thought it would. There’s a deep stinging in her chest. It’s nearly over. Is it finally nearly over?

All of the insecurities sneak in. Will she still love her? It’s been years. They were together for less than a week. She’d get it if Katya had changed her mind. She’d understand if Katya decided she never wanted to speak to her again, or she wanted to stay friends. In the end, she’d have no choice but to get it. The idea of it pains her like nothing else does. She’d have to stop wearing this ring, she’d have to throw away their bucket list. Everything they went through, it could all go to shit.

There’s the light wrap of fingers. Softly, Pearl says. “Trixie? Can I come in?”

Trixie doesn’t respond. It’s not like there’s anything she could say to Pearl anyway. Pearl doesn’t ever want to see Katya again. Trixie doesn’t ever want to be away from Katya again. Pearl doesn’t like what Katya did. How is Trixie supposed to look Pearl in the eye when it’s Trixie who got away with it? She was the one who sunk that knife in. She was the one who agreed to run. It’s more complicated than any of them could ever perceive.

She doesn’t cry. Violet’s words from all those years ago float around her head. It’s time for Trixie to do Katya proud, to make her happy. It’s arrived.

Her bed is pressed up against the wall, just big enough for two pillows. There’s a window by the headboard, curtains blow lightly with the breeze. There’s not much traffic around her, just the occasional car drives past. They’re far enough out of the city for that to not be an issue. Cold wind blows in and fleets across Trixie’s skin. It grounds her from thinking just that little bit too much.

Katya’s coming back. She’s getting out. They did it. Trixie doesn’t have to lie anymore.

She’s coming home.

 


 

 

Pearl waits outside Trixie’s door for a moment after knocking. She bites her lip so hard that she thinks for a moment it might bleed. Suspended mid-air, her hand rests an inch away from the door again.

“Trixie?” Pearl calls out again. There’s light conversation in Pearl’s room. She can hear Kim speaking quietly, asking questions.

There’s still no response.

She turns to face the others. It’s just Fame that is looking back at her, Violet too busy giving Kim the rundown. Fame raises an eyebrow. Slowly, Pearl shakes her head in response. Fame grimaces.

“Come on guys, let them adjust,” Fame says. Her authoritative tone rings through the room.

Pearl shuts her eyes. She doesn’t know what to do. Part of her wants to cling to Fame, Fame’s better at feelings than Pearl. She can’t. Fame’s moving out. Pearl is who Trixie has to lean on right now. She took that responsibility when she said they’d live together. Trixie put trust in her, just like Pearl put her trust in Trixie.

“Do you want me to try?” Kim asks.

Pearl turns to look at Kim. Naomi’s holding her hand tightly, eyes flicking between her girlfriend and Pearl. Pearl shakes her head. She watches Trixie’s door as she walks back to the others.

 


 

 

Trixie sits on her bed and barely moves for the rest of the day. Her head runs circles of fears, memories, dreams and scenarios. She doesn’t hear anything but Katya’s phantom laugh. She hasn’t been this scared of anything for years. There’s nothing she can do but just sit and wait.

Outside of her bedroom, Pearl sits on the ground. The silence haunts her. She curses Katya a thousand times over for doing this to them.

 


 

 

Violet doesn’t sleep easy for the next few nights. More than once, she has to go sit in the living room and read something to calm her nerves. She’s only really talked to Fame and Ginger since leaving Pearl and Trixie’s flat. The group has gone stale with worry again. Last time, it was Kim who forced them to stay together. That won’t happen this time. Kim’s less involved now than she was. They’ve all got to resolve this together.

Forgive Violet for not really wanting to fix anything. If Kim and Pearl want to take sides, then let them. Violet’s content like this. She knows where her loyalties lie.

Katya’s coming back tomorrow. Violet’s got bedsheets ready for her. Katya will have to make do with the couch, but Violet honestly doubts she’ll mind. In terms of excitement, Violet is over the moon. She smiles whenever she thinks of it. In terms of how Katya’s going to be and their social circle, she is less than thrilled.

Katya’s family are coming at the beginning of next week to try and sort her out with somewhere permanent to live whilst she’s restricted to the state. Violet isn’t sure how she feels about Katya living by herself. She’ll talk to her about that, they can sort something.

She’s been thinking a lot about how she’s going to handle the Trixie situation. There’s been a few times that she’s cradled her phone in her palm and considered calling her. Does Trixie want to see her straight away? Does she want to be alone? What are they telling the others? However, Violet doubts Trixie even has half the answers. She’s decided she’ll talk to Katya about it as soon as she can. Hopefully, that opportunity will arise on the evening she picks her up.

Violet just hopes this is for the best.

 


 

 

She’s back tomorrow.

Trixie’s not even trying to sleep. She’s in charge of when she works, so she worked all day today. She thought that maybe it’d tire her mind out and she wouldn’t worry so much. It didn’t work. Instead, she is running on empty and her thoughts are running wild anyway. There’s a battle between her logic and her heart. Every insecurity in her head is screaming. It’s a civil war and Trixie is sick of it.

Pearl’s got a gig tonight. She offered Trixie a free ticket, but didn’t push too hard when Trixie declined. Before she left, she hugged her tightly. The flat doesn’t feel too quiet without her, it feels comfortable.

She sits up in bed and watches the rain fall. She wonders, for a quick moment, if Katya might be watching it too. Her heart beats in her throat and she should eat, but she doesn’t think she’d keep it down.

The last few years have been a waiting game, what does difference does one more night make?

Parts of her feel like it should mean nothing, but it feels like everything. It’s like the world is ending; it’s like everything is just beginning again. She isn’t as scared as he could be. She feels as though she’s been living in drought, and Katya is an oncoming storm. However, Trixie doesn’t ever recall being this scared of thunder.

She twiddles the ring on her pinky, sits and waits.

 


 

 

The morning is overcast. Violet can’t help but find that funny, and she’s not entirely sure why. It’s deliciously typical.

She has nothing left to do. They’ve sorted everything out. All the plans are made. Violet’s got the rest of today perfectly organized and hopefully Katya won’t object to any of it. Ginger’s arriving in about two hours. Max had to work today, she wished her luck before she left.

Violet sits and stares at her phone. For the millionth time, she stares at her contacts list. She sighs. Slowly, her head slinks into her hands. It’ll be okay. At least, Violet hopes she’s done the right things. Is Katya going to hate her? She last saw her three months ago, her family have visited once since. She’s gotten a few letters through. Why would she hate her? She’s maybe not been as good as communicating as she could have. What else could she say?

She bites her lip. She wipes at her check, a thin layer of powder comes off onto her fingers. Curling forward, she rests her hands on her knees. This sucks. Waiting absolutely sucks.

Cupping her hand, she reaches for her phone. The screen of it glares back at her. It’s like being interrogated, the light truly on her. She types out a message, rewriting it several times in the process. The end result doesn’t feel right. Violet hopes that it’s better than nothing, that it’ll work out in the end. It can’t make Trixie feel any worse she guesses.

Violet (11:23): It’ll be okay, I promise. We’ll figure it out x

She doesn’t get a response.

 


 

 

Ginger drives them. Honestly, this exact trip is the biggest reason Violet is glad Ginger got a car. She couldn’t even imagine funneling Katya into a cab. The sun is setting as they arrive.

“You as nervous as me, girl?” Ginger asks. She flinches. “Sorry, not a girl. You as nervous as me, Violet?”

They’re all getting better at pronouns. They’ve known for nearly two years now, it’s about time. Violet nods in response before she gets out of the car.

 


 

 

Katya’s been screaming internally for about twelve hours now.  She’s been told she’s staying with Violet. That’s okay. There’s just a hell of a lot of fucking questions that she has. There’s things they all don’t know. What if they hate her? What’s going to change? What if Trixie never speaks to her again? What if they’ve all moved on from her? Will she have to go back to Boston and start again? She can’t do that.

She keeps her cool the best that she can, which isn’t very well. She doesn’t outrightly cry though. That’s not something she does anymore. This isn’t something worth a massive meltdown. This could be the best thing that ever happened to her, if it all turns out in her favour.

There’s no goodbyes to say really. The only person she become close to was Sasha, and they’ve covered that already. She’s been amicable, but there’s been no attachments. It’s been lonely, she won’t deny that. She isn’t really sure how she’s going to cope with not being lonely.

She’s given a cardboard box with her possessions in. Her eyes bug as she stares at her purse, she flicks it with her index to see cash still in it. Quickly, she closes the lid. She looks back up at the guard. Her clothes are uncomfortable, Katya wonders if they’ve been washed or not. She barely even remembers arriving in these.

“Am I set?” Katya asks.

He nods at her. “Your friends are waiting outside the gate. Best of luck, Yekaterina.”

There’s not much expression in his face. He doesn’t mean it. She doesn’t say thank you back, she doesn’t have to give him that. Instead, she nods at him once. There’s a buzz and the door opens. Her heart hasn’t beaten this hard since she got captured. All this time, it’s built up to this. Every tear, bruise, kiss and secret was to make sure this succeeded. It did. They won.

She steps out. The setting sun hits against her face. She squints into it, and grins.

“Katya!”

The shout catches Katya off guard. She spots Violet, who is sitting on the front of a car, and Ginger standing next to her. The door behind her shuts.

Katya laughs. Her heart still beats hard. She feels euphoric. Her smile only grows as she walks towards Ginger. This is real. She’s out. She made it fucking out. They hug when they met, Ginger tucking her face into Katya’s shoulder. The air is squeezed out of her. Violet smiles too, taking her time to walk to Katya.

“Welcome back.”

Violet is as casual as ever. Honestly, Katya could kiss her. She could kiss the both of them. Part of her wants to cartwheel down the street. She can’t believe this is real.

“I’m sorry, do I know you?” Katya jokes.

It takes Violet a second to get it. She throws her head back to laugh. Her worry evaporates into thin air. She can breathe easy again. “I love you so much.”

The declaration catches Katya off guard. For a moment, tears threaten to spill. Ginger’s still not stopped hugging her. She’s not been held this closely for this long since she last spent a night with Trixie. Trixie. Is she going to get to see Trixie? She’s not here. She bites her lip. That isn’t a good sign. Violet’s here though. Ginger’s here though. It’s okay. She reminds herself that it’s okay. She’s got this.

For the first time in a long time, she responds with the truth. “I love you too.” It’s a soft smile that Katya receives from Violet. It’s uninhibited. It makes her feel stronger than she has in years.

Ginger pulls away. Smiling down at her, Katya can’t help but laugh at the tears on Ginger’s cheek. She brushes them away with a thumb. There’s very rarely ever a tender moment with Ginger. Katya wonders what else has changed. “I missed you,” Ginger says. “A lot. I missed you a lot.”

Ginger doesn’t hide her crying. It comes out of her like a mantra. Katya admires it. She pulls Ginger back into a hug and holds her tight. When she closes her eyes for a second, it feels safe. If the last few years of her life have been limbo, what does that make this? Katya can’t stop smiling. Her mouth is going to start aching at this rate. Her chest is swirling with different emotions. She wants to kick walls and start running in circles. She wants to scream. She wants to sob, but not out of negativity. There’s so much she wants. There’s so much she can do.

Katya doesn’t even feel it at first when she bursts into tears too. The feeling of it swells and falls within her. All of her breath is caught up. The grin stays on her face. In fact, she can’t stop laughing.

Ginger and Violet exchange a look. Finally, Violet approaches Katya. Ginger lets go of her so that Katya can cling to Violet. It’s oddly silent. There’s nobody else walking on the pavements or driving past. The only noises are of Katya’s expulsion of emotion.

“It’s okay,” Violet murmurs into Katya’s ear.

Violet rubs Katya’s back and lets her cry onto her shoulder. This is what she has ached to do since this all started. At least now, she can protect her a little bit. There’s a second where Violet is furious. Katya didn’t deserve this. He was a monster. Violet wants to bring him every form of pain possible, but she can’t. In some ways, Violet thinks Katya was too soft on him. He deserved to be tortured.

However, it doesn’t matter. She lets the anger float away like a piece of paper in the wind. Instead, she holds Katya a little closer.

“I-I’m not gunna lie. I have mixed feelings,” Katya chokes. Violet laughs, she presses a kiss to Katya’s cheek. It’s wet, obviously. The gesture just makes Katya cry harder. Rolling her eyes, Violet looks to Ginger. Ginger’s face is a little pink, but she seems stable.

“Let's take her home.”

 


 

 

Home. Isn’t that an idea? Apparently, home right now is Violet’s apartment. It’s the same apartment she visited last. There’s been no lease change. The thought of that is comforting. They’ve only been in the car five minutes. Every street floods back into Katya’s mind. The world feels so big. She’d forgotten just how much there is, just how many people.

She’s stopped crying. Violet got into the back of the car with her. She’s holding her hand still.

“You feel better?” Violet asks. She squeezes the connection between them.

The smile just won’t budge. She feels so free. There’s so much in her head. This feels like every single Friday night that she ever dressed up for got together and had an orgy. It could be blissful, if there wasn’t so damn much going on. The window is slightly rolled down. There’s wind on her face. It’s gorgeous.

“She can have as much time as she damn needs,” Ginger interjects. A small laugh follows her words. Violet sees some weight lifting from Ginger’s shoulders. It’s nice. “Are we going to order food at yours?” Ginger asks. She grins. “Maybe I can get that pizza off you that Pearl owes.”

It makes Violet laugh, she throws her head back. Katya watches the two of them.

“Hey! She owes me pizza too!” Violet points out. She turns to Katya. There’s so much happiness in that face, it stuns Katya for a moment. They seem so much happier than they had in their meetings. God, had they missed her as much as she missed them? The thought nearly drives Katya to tears again.

“Why does she owe you guys food?” Katya asks. Her voice is still a little weak.

Ginger laughs. “We helped her move.”

Violet does notice the small omission. She can hardly blame Ginger. It does remind Violet of a lot of conversations that need to be had. This carefree moment isn’t going to last much longer.

“Trixie too. Fame moved out, so they got a new smaller place last week,” Violet adds. She pokes Katya in the side with her free arm. “I had to find their address and carry a box up some stairs! I’m not built for hard labour!”

She chuckles before it all sinks in. A frown crosses Katya’s face. “Why’d Fame move?” A small ember of worry has fallen into Katya’s heart, she can feel the fire taking hold. She ignores the bad feelings as best she can. The cycle of breathing that Sasha used to calm her takes hold almost automatically at this point. Each breath takes her back to her years of yoga training and all of the calm associated with that. It’s a comfort that she has learnt to cling to.

“Wanted to be with her Honey,” Ginger explains. “He’s a lovely fella.”

Violet remembers meeting him, it was a funny day. “We all interrogated the shit out of him when we first met him, you know that?”

Katya nods. She’d been told that when she saw Fame last, which was about half a year ago.

 

“I thought Pearl and Violet were going to throttle him at one point,” Ginger jokes. It’s an amusing image, Katya supposes.

“I assume Kim threatened him in some way?” Katya asks.

The other two laugh. “That’s Kim,” Ginger comments. “I don’t think anybody even tried to threaten Naomi, we just assumed she’d done it herself.”

The giggles wheeze out of Katya. “Hey, you’ve gotta be your own army!”

Violet raises an eyebrow before shaking her head. “True, but also not true?”

Katya rolls her eyes. She squeezes Violet’s hand. “I was joking Violet. My therapist has hashed that out with me enough times.”

Her mind flies back to Sasha. She hopes she sees her again someday. It’s not exactly like she could look her up, she doesn’t even know her last name. They had discussed it, what Katya has to rely upon. Katya knew most of the answers before Sasha tried to squeeze them out of her. In fact, that's how most of their sessions went. It made it easier to keep secrets.

She spent a lot of time thinking about the people that have helped her. Her head quite often returned to thinking of her lawyers, both of whom have checked in on her occasionally over the years. She thought of her friends, of course. There was also thoughts of Trixie. However, she spent a lot of time thinking about the people she only met once or twice. The mechanic all those years ago that gave Trixie and Katya a car. The cashier who saw that Katya was running and turned a blind eye. The workers in that diner. Just how many small acts of kindness does the world contain? It helped remind her that not everybody is like her ex. That’s a good thing. It’s easier to keep that in mind now than it was a few years ago. It feels like progress.

“Yeah well, you’re not alone,” Violet retorts. “If you’re your own army, then I wanna be a fucking commander.”

Katya grins in response. Ginger chuckles. “I’m a lover not a fighter, but I can be the cook?”

They laugh. Katya feels so fucking good.

“Speaking of food,” Violet interjects. Quickly, she turns to Katya. There’s mischief in her eyes. She reminds Katya of a child who’s excited for their birthday. “What do you want Katya?”

It takes a second to sink in. She gets to choose. Her head starts racing through options and ideas and things she’s missed. Oh god, how did she used to manage doing this daily? “I-Urgh-I don’t know,” she splutters. She’s not eaten spicy food in years, or sweets. God, she’d kill for candy. Can she just ask for candy? No. They need to eat real food. They’ve not just got out of jail, get it together Katya. Shit. Shit.

“You okay?” Violet asks. She’s frowning, her eyebrows creased.

She sees Ginger’s eyes flick to the rear mirror before she speaks. “It’s no pressure. Take your time.”

She wants everything at once. She wants to eat every food, have tons of sex and dance for three nights straight. That’s impossible, but she wants it. She wants to be okay enough to do everything she wants. Breathing slowly, Katya shakes her head. Make a decision.

“I’ll go with whatever you guys want,” Katya sums. A sudden wave of calm washes over her, her brain slows. “You’re right. I have time.”

She does, she knows she does, but it doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to cling to it.

 


 

 

Slowly, Katya starts recognizing streets. It all melds into focus. Memories flood back. It’s nice. She hadn’t expected it to be as nice as it is. There’s different shops and different faces. Suddenly, she remembers that the yoga studio shut down. How are all of those people? What are they up to now?

“I didn’t know I was so close,” Katya says.

Ginger snorts. “It wasn’t a ten minute drive Katya.”

It wasn’t. Then again, Katya’s just spent four years in a cell. Time is a bit skiffy for her at the moment.

They pull onto Violet’s street. It takes Ginger a second to find somewhere to park. Katya’s eyes drink it all in. It looks no different. Unlike her, with her hardened wrinkles and wheezing cough, this place hasn’t aged at all.

 


 

 

The stairs are eerily familiar. All those years ago, she’d written off ever walking up them again. The second that she told Trixie they’d run, she abandoned all thoughts of this corridor. In that moment, Violet was better off without her. Look how that turned out.

She feels the feeling in her stomach that she always feels when she thinks of Trixie. It’s low in her torso, and constricting. It feels like a singular arm being wrapped around her torso and holding just tight enough.

She isn’t given time to dwell on Trixie too long. They’ve reached Violet’s apartment and all thoughts of that fucking situation are pushed out of Katya’s mind.

The interior doesn’t look too different. The sofas have changed. The old rattier ones, on which Violet once spilt an entire glass of wine on whilst laughing at one of Katya’s more horrendous jokes, are gone. The walls are the same colour. There’s more photos on the pinboard by the door; there’s one of Violet and Max, one of their friendship group, one of Violet on stage, one of Pearl flipping off the camera and an old one of Katya, Violet, Fame and Trixie hugging. The board also shows people she doesn’t recognize, Max’s friends she guesses.

“Max? You in?” Violet calls. She kicks off her shoes.

Ginger shouts from behind Katya. “Say no if you’re not in!”

“No!” is said from somewhere within the flat. Katya chuckles to herself.

“Nice to see that classic hasn’t gone out of fashion,” Katya comments.

“Are we talking about fashion?” Max says as she enters the room.

“No, we are fashion,” Violet responds. It seems natural when she walks to Max and pecks her on the lips. It throws Katya for a moment. Max’s hair is longer than she remembers, otherwise there’s little difference.

Max smiles at Violet before she grins at Katya. Softly, she outstretches a hand. Katya takes it and shakes it lightly. She remembers doing this when she moved in next door to her. At the time, it had struck her as eccentric. It still does.

“Nice to meet you again,” Max says. Her smile is tighter now than it was years ago. It’s odd seeing how little things have changed. It somehow feels like everything has at the same time.

“To you too,” Katya responds. They let go of each other’s grip.

Looking around the room at her partner and at Ginger, Max bites her lip. She sighs and reverts her attention to Katya. “At some point, we have things I’d like to discuss. I believe that can wait though. Do you believe that also?”

Katya frowns. They do? Oh well, this might as well happen. There seems to be a lot of people who want to talk to her. Again, Katya isn’t completely sure what the fuck she wants to do.

“Yes?” Katya answers.

Max seems to accept it. She nods before turning to Violet. “You have any preference for dinner? We have pasta ingredients?”

Violet slowly nods, she turns to the other two. “Pasta?”

Ginger snorts. “Hey, as long as it’s good. You’ve both cooked for me before, I think I can accept this.” She nudges Violet with her elbow. “Hardly the end of the world.”

It isn’t. Why does Katya feel a little bit like she’s melting?

 


 

The evening passes with a level of awkwardness and difficulty that Katya wishes she’d anticipated. She’d be driving herself less crazy then. This was always going to be inescapable.

There’s other things that are inescapable too.

Everything they say makes her think more about Trixie. How is she? God, why won’t they talk more about her? What’s she supposed to do? They think she took her. Max just told a joke and the others laughed. They think that Katya took Trixie. She shuts her eyes, and wonders how they don’t hate her.

Earlier on, they’d eaten together. It’d been nice. There was more flavour in one bite than Katya remembers could exist in a plate. She was close to moaning. It was damn sexual. The whole thing was fine, until they offered her garlic bread. It was a choice. Katya’s throat had turned dry, her stomach churned. All at once, she got the urge to eat the entire thing and squeeze it in her hands. It ended with Katya excusing herself to go calm the fuck down, although the others weren’t exactly aware of this.

It’s getting late. Ginger keeps on looking at her phone. There’s no shock when she announces it.

“Hoes, I gotta go.” She smiles at Katya. “Talk tomorrow?”

All this supposed talking is going to drive Katya around the fucking bend.

“Yeah. Sure.”

They say goodbyes. Ginger hugs her tightly, and Katya buries her face into her neck for a moment. The physical contact is nice. She’d missed that. For a moment, she almost cries.

Ginger leaves; Max has escaped to the kitchen to wash up the dishes. Violet turns to Katya when the door shuts.

“Do you wanna sleep? Watch a film? I’m up for anything, so’s Max.”

Violet pours her hopes into the words. She feels questions bouncing around in her ribcage, but she doesn’t know how to pose them yet. Katya seems unstable right now. Then again, there’s a lot going on in this very second. She can’t blame her for anything.

Katya doesn’t know what to do. Really, that’s an understatement. God, this is fucked. She’s finally free, and therefore wants to do nothing but celebrate that. However, she doesn’t know how. She needs to think.

“I think sleep,” Katya responds. “Thank you.”

Violet smiles. There’s a strain in her heart. She puts her hand on Katya’s shoulder, and rubs with her thumb.

“It’ll be okay,” Violet promises. “You’ll be okay.”

Katya frowns. The Violet that her and Trixie left behind in New York wouldn’t have been able to say that.

“Thank you,” Katya repeats.

She doesn’t say anything more. There’s no dose of sugar in the form of a joke. Violet’s smile grows on her face and, for the first time in the evening, it reaches her eyes. They can talk tomorrow. It can be okay tomorrow.

Chapter Text

Oddly enough, Katya can’t sleep. She can’t remember the last time she slept on a couch. The bed in her old flat was so fucking comfy, she remembers that. Her old flat.

He’s less of a tricky subject now. He used her. It’s as simple as that. Katya doesn’t dwell on it too much, it’s not exactly like he got away with it. She lets it toughen her up. What happened to that little flat from hell? Did they just clean it out and sell it on? They must have. Who would remember her?

The only people she’s left a mark on are the ones she’s damaged.

No. That’s not true. She deserves better than that. She’s done some good things and some bad things. She’s not a curse. She can tell herself that and believe it now. It’s not all her fault. It’s okay.

She isn’t sure what she expected, but it wasn’t that. She expected more dramatics, maybe a phone call from her sister. It’s not like she has to wait long to see them she guesses, but the worry of it bubbles in her stomach. It could fester, but Katya won’t let it. She can’t put herself down.

She’d expected to see Trixie, which feels a bit stupid in hindsight. It makes no rational sense that she could have picked her up and taken her home. God, with what everybody thinks of Katya, she’s glad they wouldn’t let her. At least she knows that people have been keeping an eye on Trixie for her, and they will continue to if this doesn’t go the way Katya wants this to go.

What does she look like now? Is she different in the way that Katya is? Will it still work? They’ve always been so close, what if that doesn’t work anymore? Chemistry changes. What if this does too?

Ideas have always had a habit of running recklessly around Katya’s head. She can subdue them now, if the need arises. This is one of those times that Sasha would tell Katya to balance herself, to breathe. She does. She recovered doing that, she calmed down whilst breathing and thinking of her friends. She built strength that way, breath by breath.

Right now, she’s content. She’s had a lot of time alone, she knows how to handle that. The room isn’t too overwhelming, even if the couch isn’t that comfortable. There’s worse things. In fact, there’s a lot worse.

It’ll be okay. She closes her eyes and a smile crosses her lips. The worst case scenario isn’t a dead end. She’s proven that to herself now. He thought she was powerless, he used her like she was. She isn’t. She is everything but weak. It’ll be okay is an understatement. Anything is fixable, even if Katya didn’t believe that.

She’ll fix whatever she has to mend. If her family need to repair their bond to her, so be it. If Trixie needs to just be friends, or if she needs to never see Katya again, she’ll deal. It’ll hurt. But, there’s worse things.

However, despite everything, there’s no words to describe how much she wants to devour the taste of vanilla again.

Why is she waiting? Why is she remaining dormant in this room? She can’t be passive anymore, she’s ripped herself into pieces doing that.

All of a sudden, her energy bursts into her. She has to do something. There’s so much. Call her parents? It’s too late. They wouldn’t be awake. Go wake up Violet? No. She doesn’t deserve that. Go for a walk? Maybe, but she can be more ambitious.

Trixie.

God, could she go to her? Would that make things worse? What if she doesn’t want to see her? She just doesn’t know. Where does Trixie even live? She moved again last week. They helped her move. Further away? Could she walk to her now? What does Trixie even look like now? Would she recognize her? Of course she would. People don’t change that much that quickly.

It’s been so long since she’s seen her. She’d do anything for an honest conversation. Anything.

Her body moves before her brain catches up with her. Suddenly, her feet are on the hard ground. The sensation of wood beneath her toes is overwhelming for a moment. Everything is overwhelming. She gets to choose when she sleeps, when she eats, who she talks to, when she gets to call her family. She can wear whatever she wants. The world belongs to her again. But where does she belong within it? Where can she go?

There’s only one place she wants to go; honest.

It’s just getting there will be a pain. What might cause an issue? Not actually knowing Trixie’s address? Pearl? Trixie potentially having grown to resent her? They’ve got to talk. She doesn’t want anything less. It has to happen right now. She can’t wait any longer.

Where could she find out where she lives? What sources does she have? For a moment, her head goes to the phone book. She could find out Trixie’s number, call her. Wait. It’s been a week. Maybe Violet will have Trixie’s place on her phone? She said they helped her move in. It might be.

She’d have to just sneak into Violet’s room and take her phone. She could find it. She grins. She could.

 


 

 

She makes a list in her head whilst she tiptoes to Violet’s room. Under her breath, she mutters a prayer that Violet isn’t completely fucking nude. There’s a lot of ways this could go wrong, what if they wake up?

Katya pushes it away.

She had enough gymnastics training that she should be able to move with a sort of elegance. The door creaks a tiny bit as she opens it. Her eyes have adjusted to the darkness. Max and Violet are asleep, completely wrapped around each other. For a moment, Katya stops. It’s a bit creepy, she supposes, it’s just nice to see Violet happy. She has her face on her pillow, whilst Max uses her as her own. The sense of safety is contagious. Katya smiles.

The phone is on Violet’s bedside table. It’s not exactly a shocker. She always put it there, and that kind of habit doesn’t die easily.

It’s easier than it should be to snatch it into her palm and exit the room. In fact, it’s oddly exciting to be doing something mischievous.

She can’t believe she’s doing this. She’s out. This is amazing. This is epic. She turns the phone on, thanking her stars that Violet doesn’t have a passcode. Checking the messages, she can’t help but feel the sting of wist when she reads Trixie’s name. The last thing Violet sent to her on private was left read but unanswered. It begs a question of to their dynamic now. Katya swallows at the sight of Violet’s promise to get everything sorted. Then, she checks the group chat.

Bingo.

An address, as a result of Ginger asking. Katya almost kicks in celebration. She could kiss the ground she’s standing on. This could happen. She can go, right now. She can see Trixie. Her heart races and she whispers her name.

“Trixie. Trixie Mattel. Trixie.”

That’s one hurdle then. She knows where to go. What next? She can’t go banging on the door and have Pearl answer. Oddly enough, she can imagine that wouldn’t go too well. She goes back to texts and messages Pearl.

Pearl (01:23): I need help. It’s urgent. Come to my place.

It’s simple and succinct. At least, it’s the most Katya can comprehend right now. She pulls on her shoes. Before she knows it, she’s by the door. There’s a grin on her face still and she can’t shake it. She can’t shake it. She doesn’t care about how she looks, what’s happened, how she got here. She isn’t lingering on the thoughts of her insecurities, or how much his bruises used to hurt. None of that matters in this moment.

She’s free.

 


 

 

Today’s been a difficult day. Pearl sighs as she flips over in bed again and again. Over and over. In fact, she’s over it.

Trixie wasn’t as bad as she could have been. She spent most of the day quiet, reserved. It wasn’t hard to guess where her thoughts were.

It used to be that Pearl would do anything to distract Trixie in moments like these, but she’s learnt it’s best to leave her. She’ll talk if she wants to. She’ll hug her if need be. Today hasn’t been one of those days. Trixie has drifted around; eyes cold and distracted, her steps all disjointed. Hopefully she’ll talk tomorrow.

The thought of that doesn’t help Pearl’s mind rest though. None of it does.

She hears her phone vibrate. Rolling over, she claws it off the side. It takes her a moment to adjust to the bright light before she reads the incoming message. Violet? What could be wrong enough that she’d message Pearl instead of Ginger? It has to be something up with Katya right? What else would have happened today?

Pearl’s made her allegiances. Trixie is Pearl’s priority, not Katya.

When she tries to call, Violet doesn’t pick up the phone. Pearl bites her nails when the voicemail kicks  in. That’s unusual for Violet at the most of times, she usually turns her phone off when she’s asleep or working. It wouldn’t have rung. Well of course it’s on, she just messaged her. Why didn’t she answer then?

Pearl sits up. She tries to call again, and it doesn’t work this time either. She runs a hand through her hair.

What could it be? Maybe she didn’t even mean to send it to her, perhaps the intended recipient was Ginger. Maybe even Fame? They all know that she has her limits with Katya. It hasn’t been kept a secret. There are things she doesn’t understand, won’t understand. Forgiveness doesn’t come that easy to her. It’s not completely in her nature.

She sighs. If Violet needs her, then she’ll go. She won’t help Katya, but she’ll help Violet. She pulls on clothes, shoes. After taking a second to look in the mirror, she nods away her insecurity and takes a deep breath. She thinks back on the person she was whilst she leaves the flat as quietly as possible so that she doesn’t wake up Trixie.

 


 

 

Katya leaves the flat quietly. She’s used to seeing in the darkness now. Each unaccompanied step feels like a weight off of her shoulders. She could do anything she wanted, nothing is out of the realm of possibility. Isn’t that just a little bit amazing?

She runs down the stairs, the wind shooting past her arms. The impact of the ground against her feet makes her feel completely alive, it’s like a heartbeat. There’s a splinter of pain running up her shins, her laughter wheezes out of her. The smokers cough has never fully gone away, even if her capacity to light a cigarette did.

She is alone in the city that she ran from, all those years ago. The city that poisoned her and cut her and set her on fire; the city that mentored her and loved her down to her bones. In so many ways, she loves it too. She loves it so much.

There are things she loves more.

It takes less time to get there than she thought it would. She doesn’t ruin the whole time, and her eyes are constantly on the lookout for Pearl. Then again, what does Pearl even look like now? She wouldn’t look that different, right? What’s Trixie going to look like? Everything she remembers about her ‘fiance’ floods back into her. There’s the taste of their kisses, there’s the feeling of her hair, the sound of her breath.

The building isn’t that tall. It’s pretty removed from everything. There’s people about, all of them looking firmly at the pavement. Then again, if that isn’t home Katya doesn’t know what is. She isn’t being watched. She just isn’t.

Pearl tried to call, she got the text. Now, Katya just has to hope this goes the smooth way where she doesn’t end up with a restraining order and with points on her parole. Actually, if this goes wrong this could be worse than a slap on the wrist.

Then again, what’s life without taking a fucking risk?

They have spent enough time apart. They have been enough. This ends, all this misery and pain that started all those years ago, right now. If it goes wrong, Katya will heal these wounds just like she has recovered from her old ones. She is strong enough. She has learnt to be strong enough.

She double checks the flat number on the back of her hand. She nods to herself, before walking full speed into the building. Each step is deliberate, there’s no panic. The world doesn’t need to be frantic. She doesn’t have to be out of breath for this.

Each stair is new. Each step is larger.

She has dreamt of this for years. There have been nights that never seemed to end where she would look upwards at the cracking ceiling and just think about this. It’s here. It barely feels real. How can it be?

But, it is.

This is Trixie’s door. At least, Katya fucking hopes it is. She doesn’t really have the energy to blag accidentally waking up a small family at this time in the morning.Knock. The next stage of her life, the next big decision and the next cliff hanger, it’s a knock away.

Her mind clears; all the pain, all the lies, the mistakes and the happy accidents leave. It’s this. There is nothing but this. She knocks, loudly. In fact, it’s barely a knock. It’s a bang. It’s a demand.

Her breath heaves in and out of her as she waits.

 


 

 

Jolted awake, Trixie immediately thinks she just had a nightmare. She doesn’t put too much thought into it, falling back onto her bedsheets and resting a hand over her eyes. Her breaths aren’t uneven and her skin isn’t sweaty. She frowns.

There’s another knock.

She doesn’t think her heart has ever stopped quite like that. Looking over, she takes note of the time. It’s three am. The remnants of sleep have immediately vacated her body. Something deep sets into her, it’s akin to fear. Panic. Who? Why?

She waits to hear Pearl rustle. It doesn’t happen. The thought crosses Trixie’s mind: it must be Pearl. She probably just forgot her key. It wouldn’t be the first time. That girl can still party like she’s twenty-one, although the hangover doesn’t go quite so quickly nowadays.

Trixie sighs before she gets out of bed, the fear in her chest dissipates. Tugging at the bottom of her shirt, she makes sure she’s not going to fall all over the place. As she walks, she kicks her shoes. She never really got to kick that habit, always being ready to run.

It’s a tepid night. Her exposed skin feels somewhat uncomfortably between hot and cold. Waking up after dark always brings back the bad feelings, the ones that she suppresses whenever she can.

She looks over her shoulder as she walks, and notices Pearl’s bedroom door is open. She can see her bed. Pearl is not in it. It must be her, has to be.

The thought doesn’t even cross her mind. Today’s been a stressful day, she can’t blame Pearl for having gone out to blow off steam.

Reaching the door, Trixie forces a smile onto her face. She’s been moody most of this week, and she honestly doubts a drunk Pearl wouldn’t get upset over being treated like it. The girl does have a habit for either taking too little blame or absolutely too much. They’re getting better at middle ground. It doesn’t always feel like Trixie helps. At this point, they both expect a little bit of irrationality from each other. Their circumstances haven’t exactly always been the most normal. This week hasn’t exactly been easy, for either of them. She opens the door.

It’s her eyes that catch Trixie first. They’re the same, exactly the same. The curve of Katya’s mouth is the same too. Her smile, Trixie can picture it, won’t have changed. Her hair is longer than when she last saw it. Her face is still as thin as it was, but she hasn’t lost weight. When Trixie blinks, she sees Katya as she was when she first met her. Katya’s molten metal that has cooled into steel, there is conviction in the gaze that is aimed only at Trixie. Only at her.

For a second, Trixie thinks she might pass out.

“You’re not Pearl,” Trixie breathes.

Katya smiles. She takes in how Trixie’s hair has changed, it’s a bit thinner now. She’s had layers removed, it just halos around her head before falling down to her shoulders. It used to be longer. There’s sleep in Trixie’s eyes, little bags under them too. In this dim light, her skin has a yellow pallor. It looks smooth. Her eyebrows are a slightly different shape. There’s a tiny patch of mascara residue on the corner of her right eye. Her lips are bare, they look a bit dry from this proximity. Katya’s eyes linger there.

“You’re not wrong,” Katya replies.

It takes Trixie a moment to comprehend the words, to properly absorb them. The tone of her voice is unchanged. God, she still sounds optimistic somehow. She nearly cries. However, tears don’t come. A blankness enters her head. What can she say? What is she supposed to do? This isn’t exactly how she’d envisioned this after all.

Katya stares back. There’s something in the moment. It feels like going to bed the day before a special occasion and being sick with excitement. She anticipates something globe stopping. In fact, she hopes something world changing does happen. It’s about time.

It’s been so long. The memories crash back. Trixie remembers running up those stairs to see him hurting her. She remembers before that, the day they met for example, their first coffee-date, their birthdays. After that, she recalls the aftermath of his abuse. There was the irrationality, the run, the chase, the kissing. Trixie remembers falling in love. In fact, she remembers how much she’d been in love throughout.

They’re here. It’s over. Or at least, it can be.

“I wish I had something witty to say,” Trixie whispers.

There’s an urge to touch her face, to reach out and just touch. Trixie wants to remember that body, she wants it all as fresh as possible in her mind. Everything she remembers, she wants to remember more of it. Everything.

“Me too,” Katya answers. She can feel her nerves screaming at her. Part of her wants to just sprint away and never come back. It’s not happening. She is better than that.

Trixie bites her lip. “It’s been fucking weird not having you about. I’ve cried, a lot.”

Smiling, Katya tilts her head to the side. “Did you miss me?”

The words take a second to seep into Trixie. The look on Katya’s face is completely serious, but there’s that factor to her eyes that screams mischief. It screams power. Like always, Trixie isn’t completely sure where she stands. She doesn’t mind. She never minded.

“You’re fucking with me right?” Trixie deadpans, raising an eyebrow. “You gotta be fucking with me.”

Katya laughs. It reverberates in Trixie’s soul. She flies through every emotion at once, all of her questions go with it. She’s left empty, peaceful.

“A little,” Katya admits. “If you missed me as much as I missed you, then you did a hell of a lot. A fuck ton, if you will.” She smiles, there’s a vulnerability to it. Internally, Trixie melts a little. “Did you?”

Every day of the last few years of her life has been dictated by that feeling, missing her. There’s been more of course. There’s been guilt, heartache, grieving, hurt, laughter, recovery and hope. Each feeling she’s felt, it’s had Katya influence it.

She’s nodding before she even has a sentence formed. “Yes. Of course I fucking did.”

After a second, Katya grins. “That potty mouth. Someone’s been living with Pearl-”

“Oh fuck off, you’ve been living in prison-” She’s cut off by Katya’s laugh. It’s that old one, with her head thrown back and no breath in her lungs. Trixie ends up laughing. “What? I’m right!”

“I mean, yes. You’ve got me there.” She’s got her in a lot of different ways too. She has her tongue-tied and hooked. Katya finds it hard to breathe.

Trixie smiles before she talks again. “Good.”

For a moment, they stare at eachother. All Katya can taste is vanilla and she isn’t even kissing her. She wants to be. She wants it so bad. She wants every bet they ever made to pay off. She’s worth a happy ever after, they both are. So, she’ll cut to the chase.

“Did you miss me in the same way?”

The words feel heavy on her heart when they leave her mouth. It’s loaded. It’s everything all at once. Necessary, it’s all dependant on this. It all comes to the surface. Everything she feels stays dormant, it hangs in wait for her.

Trixie sees the hope in Katya’s eyes. In her chest, she feels her heart squeeze. She’s worried. Every worry that Trixie has had is reflected in Katya. After all this time, they’re still the same. How would Trixie like to be reassured? Right now, what would she want to hear? Quickly inhaling, she takes a little pause before speaking.

Trixie smiles; Katya, almost shyly, smiles back. “I’ve gotten damn good at pushing people away, gotten absolutely fantastic at feeling alone, but I still want you close. You’ve been who I thought of when it got bad, when I’m sad, all that stupid shit. I’ve missed having you by my side to make me laugh, to make me feel better, to make me feel stronger. You bring out the best in me.” A part of her wants to reach out and cup Katya’s face. She doesn’t want to scare her, she reaches out and, slowly, takes her hand. It’ such a foreign yet familiar touch. It derails her thoughts and she has to sigh to regain them. “I missed being honest, did you?”

Everything crashes at once. All the pain, the excitement, the dread and the disappointment, it screams in Katya’s ears. She wants to shout. She nearly cries.

“I did,” she confesses. The deceit has been piled up for so long, so ingrained in her behaviour. She swallows. “I don’t regret it; that was my choice.”

Katya sees some of the light leave Trixie’s eyes. “I regretted it, sometimes. I shouldn’t have let you do it. Do you know how much it sucked? Like, it really sucked.”

A space in Katya’s ribcage constricts. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be,” slips out of Trixie. She bites her lip for a moment. “It wasn’t like we had a lot of choices. You could have talked to me about what you planned-”

“I should have-”

“I’m not going to spend another year whining about something we can’t change. I’m so done with that. I’m done with bad shit happening and just having to cope. I’m done with lying. I’m done. I want you to come home, I want it to be over.”

Home. Katya hears that damn word over and over again. It’s her personal little ghost. She is the woman that poisoned the idea of belonging for herself more times than ought to be possible. Where the fuck is home? It follows her.

The way Trixie said that word, with so much ease. Katya thinks she could believe it. This time, she could believe it. Could this be it? Could Katya come home?

She blinks at Trixie for a moment. Trixie’s smile is hopeful, her shoulders slightly raised. So much has changed. She feels exactly the way she felt when she saw her last, being escorted from a courtroom. There’s tears in her eyes. She remembers the breaking up of all of the devastation by Trixie’s small gesture. How did she doubt this?

“I love you,” Katya whispers. “I still love you.”

Trixie’s smile grows a little bit. Katya can see that she’s close to crying too, but both of them are holding on. It’s close.

Reaching out, Trixie slowly pulls Katya to her. They embrace. Katya feels herself melt into it. It’s like adding water to a burn. She eases.

Trixie mutters her answer into Katya’s neck. “I love you too.”

It’s easy to linger there for a moment. They pull away slightly. With caution, Katya allows her hand to reach up and clasp at Trixie’s jaw. There’s a hesitant second, their eyes meeting. Katya falls further in. She leans in and Trixie meets her halfway. It’s delicate at first, just lips. It moves into more. Katya tastes vanilla and she almost wants to sob. They fought so hard for this, there’s so much they had to go through. Katya didn’t even know what sacrifice was until all of this happened. It paid off.  They stop to pant breaths. The air is cold. The hallway outside Trixie’s flat is eery in it’s quietness.

Trixie runs a lock of Katya’s hair through her fingers. Katya thinks back to the last time they had a private moment, all that transpired in that last hotel room.

“Do you still have the bucket list?” Katya asks. Trixie nods, the movement lightly hits Katya’s forehead. Katya smiles. “Do you still wanna marry me?”

A more insistent nod this time. Trixie smiles back. “Yeah. Why not?”

Katya laughs and Trixie laughs too. It feels natural. It’s nice. At the end, Trixie pecks another kiss onto her lips. Neither of them ever want to stop again.

 


 

 

Pearl knocks the door harder on the third time. Why the fuck isn’t anybody answering? What kind of next level shit is this? She hears movement at last. She rolls her eyes. It’s fucking cold. She was told this was urgent.

The door opens. It’s Violet, looking mildly startled.

“What’s up?” Pearl asks.

Violet frowns. “What the fuck do you mean ‘what’s up’?”

They stare off in silence for a moment. Pearl blinks, trying to connect the dots of this odd fucking practical joke.

“Um, you texted me?” Pearl states. She shuffles her feet, resting a hand on the back of her neck. “Said you needed me? Urgently?”

Violet squints at her, shaking her head slightly. “Are you high?”

It crosses Pearl’s mind to say ‘almost always’, but it doesn’t feel completely well timed to the moment.

“No. I’m not. I haven’t been drinking either. Are you?” Pearl demands. This has been a long enough day already, it doesn’t need to be prolonged. This is what she gets for trying to not be a dick, she guesses.

“Violet! Is that Katya?”

Pearl is familiar enough with Max as a person now to hear the forced calm in it. It’s monotone. If Pearl is familiar with it, Violet preempts it. She sighs.

“No. She’s gone isn’t she?” Violet says back at normal volume. After a moment, Max appears at the door. Her eyes widen slightly upon spotting Pearl.

“Katya isn’t in the flat. Pearl, what are you-”

Violet sighs again. She should have seen this one coming. That bitch was always fucking intuitive.

“Katya messaged her and told her to come over pretending to be me,” Violet concludes. The other two look at her, connecting the dots.

Violet stares softly at Pearl when her eyes widen in panic. Quickly, Pearl starts walking away.

“I left Trixie alone-”

The walk turns into a run. It takes a second for Violet’s tired bones to figure out how to move quickly, but she pulls on shoes and runs after Pearl. A quick instruction to lock the flat is whispered harshly to Max on the way, who was already halfway through doing so.

It doesn’t take long to catch up to Pearl. She’s waiting on the sidewalk, presumably for a cab.

“Katya won’t hurt her,” Violet opens.

Pearl jumps. She lets her guard down when she spots it’s Violet. “I know. But I left her by herself. If Katya stirs shit up, I won’t forgive myself-”

“You came because I thought I needed you,” Violet interjects. “You can forgive yourself for the fact you have a kind heart.”

The attempt to calm Pearl down goes unnoticed. Pearl continues to rant. “She barely even talks about Katya, yet alone if she wants to see her. I called home and nobody answered so she’s probably asleep. She should stay that way. God-”

“Giving yourself a heart attack won’t change this.” Violet punches Pearl lightly on the arm. Finally, Pearl stops talking and looks just at Violet. “I’ll come with you to yours, we’ll figure this out. It’ll be alright, Pearl.”

There’s a moment when Violet thinks it didn’t work, but then Pearl takes a large breath. “I just worry about her.”

“I know,” Violet agrees. “I do too. It’s good.”

Another breath, Pearl nods. “I know.”

It’s when she yawns that Violet spots the bags under her eyes, larger than Violet’s are. Selfless, Violet realizes. It took a friend, not a lover. She smiles.   “You’re gunna make a damn good girlfriend to somebody someday, you know that?”

 


 

 

The taxi arrives and the three of them pour into it. It feels like millennia until they’re finally at Pearl’s. Each step feels like a mountain. It’s decades until Pearl is putting her key in the door and opening it and turning on the lights.

There’s clothes everywhere. It only takes Violet a minute to spot that some of them belong to her.

“Was it like this when you left it?” Max asks, a small bit of disgust in her voice.

Pearl deadpans. “No.” She bites her lip. “What the-”

“I think I know what’s going on, but let me be the one to check. Stay here.”

Violet leaves. She doesn’t bother to listen to the two small complaints, they’ve had worse things happen to them. Tip-toeing through the debris, she makes her way to Trixie’s room. The door is slightly ajar and, with a gentle tap, it makes further open.

Katya’s head is positioned on the top of Trixie’s stomach, Trixie’s hand dormant in Katya’s hair. They are both asleep. The room is more of a mess than the rest of the flat, one side having been haphazardly cleared with all of the contents strewn onto the floor. One draw has been ripped open and left on the floor. There is an old, folded piece of paper and a ring box on the top of it. Out of curiosity, Violet looks quickly at her friend’s hands. The only hand not visible is Katya’s left, which is under the bedsheets that only half cover the two of them.

It is only when Violet looks at their faces, spotting the utter looks of peace, that she smiles.

“No fucking way,” comes from behind Violet. She snaps around, spotting Pearl with a hand over her mouth.

Violet shushes her, receiving a glare in response. She pushes on Pearl’s shoulder, leaves the room and closes the door behind her.

 


 

 

Trixie wakes up. She blinks in the harsh light. Having a body next to her confuses her for a moment, then she remembers.

Katya.

It doesn’t feel real. She’s waiting for the horrific realization that she’s still dreaming, that it was a lie. Surely she has years left to wait?

She’s here. She’s really here. Looking down, Trixie sees the ring she bought on Katya’s hand. They’re doing this. She takes her hand, playing a little bit with her fingers. She exhales. For the first time in a long time, it feels like she can breathe. It feels like she woke up happy.

She closes her eyes again, allowing herself to sink into the moment.

In her head, she quietly lists their bucket list. She has the whole thing basically memorized at this point. Is that a possibility now?

It didn’t even take any convincing. They both seemed to be on the same page. They talked, they decided, Katya put the ring on and they were kissing again. It felt so good to kiss. She forgot to even be shy. In that moment, she was thinking about everything and nothing at all.  

Katya’s breath hitches in her sleep. Trixie chuckles to herself. She pulls some of Katya’s hair behind her ear before returning to her resting position.

“I missed you so much,” Trixie confesses. Katya remains silent, still asleep.

The truth feels good leaving her body. It feels like a weight lifted. It feels like removing a knife from a wound. Easier to breathe, she falls back into sleep.

 


 

 

The next morning the two sleep in. Nothing startles them awake, no guards, no police. It’s silent. Katya doesn’t feel like talking, it feels like enough has been said.

Around midday, there’s a knock at the door and a shout to ‘put some fucking clothes on’. The amusement in Violet’s voice is crystal clear. Katya finds herself not threatened, the moment feeling far too close to regularity. There’s laughter in the hallway. Trixie can place Ginger’s cackle from a mile away.

“Do they know?” Trixie asks.

Katya’s heart races at that thought. Panic sets in. Breathe.

“I’m ready to be honest, or like, I’m ready for a telenovela style cat fight in which we all make out at the end.”

Trixie nods along like nothing Katya said was even slightly odd. “Are you scared?”

Katya shakes her head immediately. “Don’t want to be anymore.”

They get dressed in silence. Katya borrows some of Trixie’s clothes without asking. The noise in the other room gets louder, there’s a radio playing. It feels like a party.

“Are you ready?”

Trixie is stood by the door when she asks. She bites her lip. Katya takes a moment to look at her. So much about Trixie is unchanged, they’re young. Katya knows they can still be young. They have time. They can live now.

“Ready.”

Reaching out, she takes Trixie’s hand as they walk into the next room.

 


 

 

Fame doesn’t bawl. Instead, she just grins at Katya as she greets her. Katya didn’t know what she’d expected, but it wasn’t something so contained. She seems content. The sight brings Katya just a little bit more peace.

Ginger doesn’t cry the second time around; she just holds Katya closer than ever before. For a second, Katya wonders if she’ll ever breathe again.

Kim’s cooking with a person Katya has only become acquainted with through photos. Naomi. They’re introduced. Katya notices the extra skip in Kim’s step, how her smile is larger than Katya’s ever seen it.

A little bit pissed off at the messy flat, Pearl ribs Katya before she says anything else. She notices how Pearl’s eyes linger on the hand holding between her and Trixie. She senses the reluctance. When Pearl hugs her, she whispers in her ear. “If you hurt her, I’ll hurt you. I’ll fuck you up.” Katya doesn’t doubt the sincerity, she bites her lips and nods. She isn’t going to try to.

Max appears next. She immediately complains about her absence, the worry she caused. It isn’t lingered on for long. A welcome back is repeated. It warms Katya again. There’s a reluctance in Max, a stiffness compared to how she used to act with Katya, and Katya grimaces.  She apologizes quickly, for anything she went through because of her. Max’s mouth drops open. “Heavens, no. I should apologize to you-” Katya cuts her off there. It takes a minute to get Max to listen to her, but Katya squeezes Max’s hand through it. She values how she’s helped her friends to the end of the world and back. She shouldn’t ever apologize.

Violet pops up, jabbing her in the ribs and calling her a bitch before things get too deep. Katya laughs. She really really laughs and Trixie laughs with her. It’s the stupid little things like that which she’s always grateful for. It’s what she missed.

The next thing Katya knows they’re all eating breakfast together. It’s how it used to be, in some ways. It’s so different simultaneously. She notices how Pearl’s looks to Violet aren’t kept secret anymore, there’s an affection in that gaze that goes deeper than a crush ever could. Max keeps a loose arm around Violet, never restricting her too much. Fame grins like a teenager whenever her boyfriend is brought up. Kim rips into everybody, kinder than she might be used to be.

There were so many points when Katya and Trixie thought they couldn’t have this again; it had all got too messed up by an ex or a wound or the rest of their past. They both realize they shouldn’t have worried. Trixie still feels her guilt up to her chest, but there’s enough love in her life to numb the pain. Katya doesn’t know a lot about what will happen. She knows she has to sort things out with everybody in more detail, there are talks that must be made, tension that must be easied and words had. Right now, what she has is enough. When Katya looks around, she realizes that she’s finally home.

 


 

 

Years pass. The list changes: 

 

 

  • Get married.
  • Go to Miami. and LA!  (I wanna go back :-( )
  • Get surfing lessons. (Katya cheats at surfing) (How can you cheat at surfing? Ever heard of natural aptitude? Love you x)
  • GET A CAT! + Dog(s) + Friendly Lizard?  (Marx the cat, Dolly and Astaire are the dogs) (I'm going to adopt my lizard Svetlana when you least expect...)
  • Actually cook something half decent. I can cook. You’re just bad.
  • Teach Trixie (the hotter one) Russian (Broken and impractical) and French (Ditto) (I got you to be a particularly good student ;-) x )
  • Teach Katya (the hotter one) guitar and tap dancing, and make up.  (she could already do make up, tap dancing wasn't worth the effort, guitar wasn't successful either)
  • Learn first aid (practical and necessary) 
  • Have sex at least once with one of us using a strap on whilst pretending to be The Rock.  (Wasn't as hot as planned, hilarious though)
  • Move somewhere and paint the bedroom pink (I want a red bathroom. At least one Russian flag. I have a heritage)
  • Speaking of, can I name at least one pet after a Russian gymnast?  Friendly Pretty Bitchy Independant Guard Lizard would really suit Svetlana.
  • Open a yoga studio (I mean, probably not ever going to happen. But we can dream?)
  • Get a proper engagement ring.
  • Get bored of vanilla? (Never xx)