Chapter 1: Sarah/Rachel - "If you die, I'm gonna kill you."
The irritatingly cheery death jingle played once again as Sarah’s character spiraled off the edge of a cliff. If she hadn’t been distracted by the door opening behind her, she would have made it. She had a list of excuses for the other dozen-or-so deaths as well.
“What a charming welcome,” Rachel said, setting her keys down.
“Hey,” Sarah called back, forcing calm into her voice. “Sorry.”
Rachel took a seat beside Sarah, sighed wearily as she sank into the cushions.
“What on earth are you doing?” she asked.
“I told Mika I’ve been stressed lately, she brought this game over. It’s just made me feel like kickin’ shit so far,” Sarah said.
“Oh, think maybe I broke that chair,” she added sheepishly, motioning over with her foot. The large armchair in the corner was looking a little crooked.
“Perhaps you should–”
“Shit!” Sarah yelled as she careened into a spike. “Fuckin’ slippery wanker!”
“I’d like to try,” Rachel said calmly.
“What?” Sarah huffed. “Not a chance. It’s my last life.”
“Do you plan on replacing my chair?”
Sarah exhaled, relinquishing the controller. It looked unnatural in Rachel’s hands, like she was about to use it to conduct a symphony.
“Alright, it’s Y to run, B to jump–”
“I have no idea what these letters mean.”
“They’re the bloody… buttons!”
“It’s actually quite simple, isn’t it? Avoid the spikes and pits and these bizarre… mushroom creatures. I don’t see why you were having trouble, Sarah.”
“Oh, shut up,” Sarah groaned, growing only more irritated as Rachel managed to weave through every death trap. “If you die, I’m gonna kill you.”
“And if I don’t?”
Sarah looked over to Rachel, intently focused on the screen, mouth pulled up at one side.
“Mm,” Sarah hummed. “I’d tell you, but I don’t want you gettin’ too distracted.”
Sarah watched in shock as Rachel raced into uncharted territory. Heart thumping in her chest, she sat back and let her have the silence.
Chapter 2: MK/Krystal - "Hey! I was gonna eat that!"
PROMPT: MK/Krystal, including the line "Hey! I was gonna eat that!"
Veera dug the very last chocolate out of the huge heart-shaped box and popped it into her mouth. She sighed happily as it melted over her tongue.
“Hey!” Krystal cried from the couch. “I was gonna eat that!”
“But ith mine,” Veera replied. She swallowed the chocolate in her mouth. “You gave it to me.”
“Yeah, well,” Krystal said, standing and moving to her side. She frowned at the sight of the empty box on the counter. “We’re supposed to share. Don’t they teach sharing in Finland?”
Krystal pushed her bottom lip out, pouting. Veera could only laugh in response.
“No,” she said, struggling to keep the grin off her face. “But we do have a tradition where the person to finish the last chocolate gets a massage.”
Krystal looked over at Veera, scrunching her face up as she considered.
“Really,” she said, skeptical. “This isn’t like when you tricked me into dressing up like Batgirl?”
Veera still wasn’t entirely sure how she’d pulled that one off.
“It’s tradition,” she repeated, pushing her own bottom lip out.
Krystal’s eyes narrowed, staring her down for a few more seconds. Finally, she sighed.
“Fine,” she said, turning back to the couch and curling a finger in Veera’s direction, urging her to follow. “If it’s tradition.”
Chapter 3: MK/Krystal + Felix - "Well, this is awkward."
PROMPT - MK/Krystal + Felix, including the line "Well, this is awkward."
KG > hey babe how r u?
VS > Good
VS > You?
KG > work is uggggghhhhh
KG > just missing u
KG > OH u could come to the salon!
KG > u can keep me company and get ur nails done
KG > thats a win win babe
VS > Sorry :(
VS > I would if I could
KG > oh youre doing that raid thing right?
VS > Yeah
KG > ok :(
KG > say hi to scott for me
VS > He says hi
VS > Now he’s /dancing instead of fighting these goblins
VS > He’s going to get us all killed
KG > shadow bolt his ass
VS > Why is work so bad?
KG > OMG this crazy british lady came in and she was just such a bitch the whole time
KG > i was laughing tho bc she sounded like sarah XD
KG > oi who drank all me bloody bourbon??
VS > Oh no…
KG > i wanna get pisssssssed up
VS > It isn’t the same without hearing your English/Australian accent
KG > whatever i know u fancy me mika
VS > This took a weird turn
KG > shut up and get ur knickers off
FD > Well this is awkward
FD > You’re in the group chat loves
KG > OMG
VS > Okay, I’m going to jump off a cliff now
SM > …
Chapter 4: Sarah + Helena - "Hey! I was gonna eat that!"
PROMPT: Sarah + Helena, including the line "Hey! I was gonna that!"
The word "hey" has been changed to "oi". Please don't judge me too harshly.
“Come, sestra,” Helena said, moving her blanket aside and patting the empty spot on the couch. “I have been waiting to see this Toy Story 3.”
Sarah chuckled to herself and strolled over, setting her plate down on the coffee table before taking her seat. Helena quickly threw the blanket over her lap, swathing both sisters in the same warm cocoon.
“Yeah, you’re gonna love it,” Sarah said. She dug the remote out from the couch cushions and hit play. “Gonna bawl your eyes out though.”
“You are the only one who cried last time, Sarah.”
“Shut up,” Sarah snapped, knocking her shoulder into Helena’s as she snickered.
As the opening logos were fading out, Sarah felt Helena shift beside her, then watched in slow motion as she leaned forward, grabbed Sarah’s sandwich, and shoved a full third of it into her mouth.
“Oi!” Sarah yelled in total disbelief over what she just saw. “I was gonna eat that!”
“Mmph?” Helena mumbled, quickly swallowing the food in her mouth. “I thought it was for me?”
“What?” Sarah asked, shaking her head. “No! No, it wasn’t for you!”
“But, Sarah, you know how much I like sandwiches.”
“You like everything, meathead. Doesn’t mean it’s all there for you to eat.”
“I’m sorry,” Helena said. She held the plate out in Sarah’s direction, bowing her head apologetically.
“Nah, you finish it,” Sarah said. “Not that hungry anyway. Y’know I would’ve made you one if you’d asked, yeah?”
“Yes,” Helena said, laying her head against Sarah’s shoulder as she took another bite. It seemed they’d both be ending up with mustard stains on their shirts. “You have been a very good sestra to me.”
Sarah sighed, her irritation fading further and further into the distance. She leaned her head against Helena’s.
“Guess I should start puttin’ my name on shit,” she said. “Before you gobble everythin’ up.”
“Yes,” Helena said, snorting. “This is a good idea, I think.”
Sarah slowly opened her eyes. The DVD player logo bouncing across the screen cast a dim glow around the room. Apparently, the movie had ended while she was asleep. Helena’s body lay heavy against hers, also asleep. She felt a pang in her stomach, and then heard a low grumble. Okay, now she was definitely hungry.
She carefully lifted Helena up and slipped out from under her, gently laying her back down onto the couch. She murmured something Ukrainian-sounding in her sleep as she sank into the cushions. Sarah had only begun tiptoeing to the kitchen when she spotted something on the coffee table. Squinting, she could just barely make out her own name, hastily scrawled onto a napkin. She reached down and picked it up, revealing underneath the tallest, messiest sandwich she’d ever seen in her life.
Chapter 5: Sarah/Beth - "I thought you were dead."
PROMPT: Sarah/Beth, including the line "I thought you were dead."
She was there when Sarah woke up in the middle of the night, sitting at the foot of the bed.
“What are you doing back here, Sarah?”
Sarah ran a palm across her eyes, blinked into the darkness. That’s right, she’d come stumbling back to Beth’s apartment. It had seemed like a good idea when she was God-knows-how-many drinks in.
“Didn’t know where else to go,” she groaned. “I missed you, didn’t I?”
“You never knew me,” Beth said flatly. “You miss the idea of me.”
“Maybe,” Sarah conceded. “But I understand you now. How you could try and try and it was never enough.”
She threw a hand over her eyes and finally let herself cry.
“I keep fuckin’ up,” she choked.
After a second, she felt Beth’s hand pressing gently against hers.
Wait. Beth’s hand.
Sarah jumped up to sitting, rubbed at her eyes. She could just barely make her out through the dark, but… she could feel the weight of her on the bed. She reached out and gasped as she made contact with Beth’s shoulder.
“Beth,” she whimpered. “I thought you were dead.”
“I am dead, Sarah. Doesn’t mean I could just leave.”
Sarah gripped Beth’s shoulder, terrified that she’d disappear if she let go. Her face was visible now, Sarah could see her looking back. She was so sad.
Sarah pulled her closer and kissed her. She tasted like nothing, nothing at all. But it was enough.
Chapter 6: Sarah/Cosima - Five sentences
Sarah followed closely behind Cosima, the sound of every footstep on the worn dock causing her breath to catch in her chest.
“Ready to meet the parents?” Cosima asked, flashing a smile Sarah knew was meant to put her at ease.
“We’re not gonna tell ‘em how we’re, y’know…” Sarah drifted off, drawing out a small chuckle from Cosima.
“We’ll see how they take the whole clone thing first, but I’ll never be ashamed of what we have, Sarah.”
Cosima drew Sarah’s hand to her lips, placing a small kiss on each of her knuckles before turning and gently pulling her along, every step one step closer to the houseboat in the distance.
Chapter 7: Rachel/Krystal "Sit in my lap."
Rachel tipped the glass to her lips, shutting her eyes as she swallowed the last of her wine.
“Sorry,” said the blonde woman from behind the bar. “I have to close up.”
Rachel opened her eyes, casting a glance around the room, empty now but for the two of them. Finally. No distractions.
“Do you?” Rachel replied, fishing through her bag before digging out a handful of large bills and sliding them across the bar. “And now?”
A smile pulled at the other woman’s lips.
“You know, if you wanna spend time with me that bad, you could just ask.”
“Don’t flatter yourself,” Rachel huffed.
The bartender laughed, pulling another bottle out from behind the bar and tipping it in Rachel’s direction. Rachel glanced at the label, then nodded approvingly.
“Okay,” the woman said. She pulled out a corkscrew and began twisting it in. “So I guess I was just imagining your eyes on me all night? I’m not blind.”
Rachel only offered a wry smile in response, dragging her eyes slowly along the red of the woman’s dress and slower still along all of the exposed skin.
With a pop, the cork was pulled from the bottle, drawing Rachel’s attention back to the situation at hand. The bartender flashed Rachel a knowing smirk as she poured.
“Two glasses,” Rachel said.
The woman tittered, shaking her head.
“I have to drive,” she said.
“My driver will take you home.”
The woman laughed again, then pulled her bottom lip between her teeth, considering. Finally, she pulled another glass out from behind the bar.
“Oooh, your driver,” she said, mocking, even as she began to pour herself a drink. “I’m not the kinda girl who’s impressed by money, you know.”
“Good,” Rachel shot back. “I have no interest in sharing a drink with someone I can’t respect.”
The woman finished pouring, raising her eyes to meet Rachel’s. Rachel’s lips curled into a smile.
“Rachel Duncan,” she said. “And you are?”
Rachel resisted the urge to roll her eyes at the name, instead pulling Krystal’s glass closer to her side of the bar.
“Come take a seat, Krystal,” she cooed.
Krystal drew a deep breath before stepping out from behind the bar, slowing down as she rounded the corner, allowing Rachel’s eyes to run up and down the length of her bare legs. With a smile, she approached the seat next to Rachel.
“Not there,” Rachel growled, leaning back to allow Krystal room. Krystal’s eyes fell to Rachel’s lap, blinking in stunned confusion as she processed what she was being asked to do. Finally, her eyes shot back to Rachel’s, a smirk crossing her face. She moved closer, placing a hand on Rachel’s arm before slowly sliding it up to her shoulder, then stepped up onto the base of Rachel’s chair.
Impatient, Rachel slid an arm around her back, drawing a small yelp from Krystal and pulling her fully onto her lap, legs astride the seat. She moved in, hungry, nipping at the skin of Krystal’s neck.
“Ohhh, fuck,” Krystal moaned, shuddering under Rachel’s touch. “I don’t… usually… do this kinda thing.”
Rachel pulled back to look up at Krystal. She could see it in her eyes. The game was over. The flirtatious-yet-detached girl behind the bar was gone, given over to lust.
Krystal dove forward, sealing Rachel’s lips with her own.
Chapter 8: Sarah + Helena - "I'm going to walk away and pretend I didn't see anything."
Sarah climbed the stairs, nervously following the familiar sound of The Ettes, blaring loud enough to reach the sidewalk outside S’s house. Cautious, she pushed open the door to her room.
When she’d asked Helena to babysit, she’d kind of been expecting Disney movies and string cheese for lunch. Not whatever this was.
Sarah’s clothes were strewn all around the room: she recognized her Sex Pistols shirt hanging off her lampshade, some underwear dangling from the windowsill. In the middle of the apocalyptic mess were the two culprits, dancing (or thrashing, to be more accurate) to the music, Helena in Sarah’s Clash t-shirt and leather pants, and Kira in her jacket.
“Sarah!” Helena shouted in surprise, nearly tripping over the corner of the bed. She cast her eyes around the room as Sarah just blinked in stunned silence.
“Do not worry!” she continued, embarrassment in her voice even as she screamed over the music. “We will clean!”
“Right,” Sarah said, shell-shocked. “Right. I’m just gonna… pretend I didn’t see anything.”
She pulled the door closed, slowly covering up the guilty faces of her sister and daughter. With a sigh, she turned and headed back down the stairs, hoping against hope that there was still some string cheese left in the fridge.
Chapter 9: Sarah/Cosima - Blushing
Sarah clutched Cosima’s arm like it was her life raft as her feet slipped out from underneath her, nearly sending them both tumbling to floor of the skating rink in the process.
“Sorry,” she said through gritted teeth. “I’m shite at this.”
She’d had the pleasure of watching Cosima on her own for a few minutes before being dragged out onto the rink herself. On the ice, Cosima was free and flowing and graceful, everything Sarah wasn’t.
“We all have to start somewhere,” Cosima said, cheery as usual. “It’s actually kinda nice to know there’s something Sarah Manning isn’t good at.”
“Piss off,” Sarah chuckled, gripping Cosima’s arm tighter just in case she felt like taking her literally.
“Plus,” Cosima said. “You’re kinda super cute right now.”
Sarah slipped again, but Cosima was ready this time, instantly pulling her back to her feet.
“Shit,” Sarah muttered, “Can we take a break?”
Cosima nodded, effortlessly redirecting them to the wall, which Sarah gratefully grabbed hold of. Cosima glided over to her side, waiting as she caught her breath. Sarah relaxed for a moment, watching the other skaters and trying to pick out anyone she could say was as bad as she was. When she turned her head, she found Cosima staring back at her, a wide smirk on her face.
“What?” Sarah asked.
“You’re blushing,” Cosima chirped. “I said you were cute, and now you’re blushing.”
“What?” Sarah snapped, turning away. “No, I’m not.”
“It’s just cold,” Sarah said, rubbing her hands together for effect.
“Uh-huh,” Cosima said, clearly not buying it. “Well, I know how to warm you up.”
Sarah swallowed, cautiously turning her head to meet Cosima’s stare.
“Hot chocolate,” Cosima said, the corner of her lip rising to form a mischievous smile. “We make it around the rink, and I’ll buy you some. Sound good?”
“Yeah,” Sarah conceded. “Alright.”
Carefully, she pushed herself off of the wall and grabbed onto Cosima’s arm, leaning into her just a bit closer than before.
Chapter 10: Alison, Helena + Donnie - "Are you kidding me?"
Even knowing she’d left her husband and Helena home unsupervised, the scene that greeted Alison when she stepped through the front door was surprising. The living room was gone, swallowed under a sea of blankets.
“Are you kidding me?!” she cried out, panicked. “I was gone for less than an hour!”
She heard the sound of someone scuttering across the floor, then saw her husband’s head poke out from the blanket nearest her feet.
“Oh, hey, hon!” he exclaimed. “We’re building a blanket fort.”
She shook her head frantically, her face tightening as she waited for any further explanation.
“It will be fun for little Oscar and Gemma,” came another voice from deeper into the room, somewhere by Alison’s great aunt’s quilt. Helena’s head squeezed out from between two blankets, a sheepish grin on her face.
“Don’t you think they’re a little old for that?” she asked, glaring down at her husband.
Donnie popped his head up, turning to share a confused look with Helena.
“No?” Helena said.
“You should see what we made though, honey!” Donnie said excitedly. “We went for kind of a postmodern vibe. Kinda funky, like that house we checked out in Pickering.”
Alison breathed in deep, folding her arms over her chest.
“Oh, and there are snacks!” he continued, desperate.
“Mm,” Helena concurred, pulling a handful of Goldfish crackers out from somewhere beneath her. One by one, she began tossing them in the general direction of Donnie’s open mouth, the two of them giggling like schoolchildren as a small pile began to form at Alison’s feet.
“Alright!” Alison cried, throwing a hand up. The other two froze, one final cracker bouncing unceremoniously off of Donnie’s forehead. “I’ll take a look inside. Just… please stop throwing food in the house.”
Donnie and Helena flashed each other excited grins before ducking back into the fort. With a sigh, Alison dropped to her hands and knees and pulled the nearest blanket up over her head.
Chapter 11: Alison/Cosima - "Is that my bra?"
The way they’d been hovering around each other throughout the party, exchanging sly glances over their drinks, it was inevitable they’d end up alone together, even if Alison had had to hurry it along by pulling Cosima into the basement under the premise of showing her the “crafts project” she’d been working on.
She wasted no time, gently pressing Cosima’s back up against the wall and tracing kisses up and down her jawline.
“Hey,” Cosima breathed. “Missed you too.”
Alison lowered her face to Cosima’s neck, inhaling the familiar scent of the soap she’d made for her. She ran her eyes along her neckline, pausing on the baby blue strap poking out from under her loose-fitting top.
“Is that… is that my bra?”
She stepped back, allowing Cosima to hook a finger into her top and peek inside.
“Oh shit,” she laughed. “Yeah, you left it behind after we, uh… after you stayed over last week. Guess I put it on without thinking. My bad.”
“It’s fine,” Alison said. She leaned in close, pulling the neck of Cosima’s top down over one shoulder. “It’s actually kind of naughty, don’t you think?”
Cosima followed Alison’s stare down to the bra before letting out a small laugh.
“I guess?” she said. “I mean, you are having an affair with your clone, so it’s all kinda relative. But yeah, sure, I’ll wear your underwear if that’s what you’re into.”
“Oh, no,” Alison said, shuddering. “Not the, um…”
She leaned in closer, lowering her voice to a whisper.
“Panties,” she said. “It’s just unsanitary.”
“Right,” Cosima replied, arching an eyebrow. “I still haven’t totally figured you out, Alison.”
She flashed Alison a fond smile before leaning in for a kiss. A voice called out from upstairs, interrupting their tryst.
The two pulled away, startled.
“Guess you better get up there,” Cosima sighed.
“I should,” Alison agreed, disappointed. “We’ll continue this later.”
With a grin, she crooked an arm behind Cosima and delivered a firm slap to her rear.
“Ow!” Cosima yelped. “What the hell?”
“Oh sugar!” Alison exclaimed, bringing a hand up to cover her mouth. “I’m so sorry! I thought maybe… you would like it?”
Cosima’s eyes darted back and forth in thought as she rubbed at the point of impact.
“Just give me a heads up next time?” she said.
Alison grinned, offering a quick nod before dashing up the stairs.
Chapter 12: Sarah/Cosima - "Are you kidding me right now?"
The front door swung open just as Sarah was about to knock for the third time. Cosima stood in front of her, pulling her robe tighter around herself as the winter air rushed in.
“Are you kidding me right now, Sarah?” she said. “It’s three in the morning.”
“Yeah, sorry,” Sarah croaked, words running together. She blinked into the light of Cosima’s apartment, bleary-eyed. “Didn’t know where else to go.”
“You could go home?” Cosima offered, not unkindly. She ran a finger over her temple.
“Gets lonely when Kira's at her dad’s,” Sarah said. The words hung in the air. God, she thought she’d have more to say.
“Should I be worried, Sarah?”
Sarah shook her head, making herself dizzy in the process. She threw out a hand to catch the wall as she stumbled.
“Nah, I’m alright,” she said, not sure whether or not she believed it herself. “Just wanted to… dunno really.”
“Whatever it is,” Cosima said, and there was that tenderness in her voice that only ever made things harder. “You know you can talk to me.”
Sarah nodded, then spoke again before she had a chance to change her mind.
“I told you I was sorry, didn’t I? About Delphine?”
“Yeah,” Cosima said. “You did.”
“I lied,” Sarah said, and maybe it was the cold or maybe it was something else, but her eyes were welling up with tears. “Wasn’t sorry. Tried to be. But I’m just too bleedin’ selfish, aren’t I?”
“Sarah,” Cosima sighed.
“I love you, Cos,” Sarah said before she could be told not to. “I’m in love with you, alright? I tried so hard not to feel it, but I can’t keep lyin’ to myself. Can’t keep lyin’ to you.”
Cosima stood silent and listened. Sarah wished desperately that she could make out her face, but she was just a dark blur in her vision now.
“Just needed you to know, because if there’s a chance, any chance at all…”
Sarah swallowed, took a breath. She wanted to vomit.
“If this is it,” she continued. “If this is all there’s ever gonna be between us, just tell me now, alright? Just tell me to go home and you’ll never hear about it again.”
Sarah left it there, biting her lip to keep from saying any more. Anything about how Cosima had been the only thing keeping her from taking Alison’s clone fund and bolting with Kira in the middle of the night. Or about how she’d been the one driving Sarah forward, keeping her alive and fighting on that horrible island. Or about the way Sarah had felt lying next to her in Felix’s bed, fingers intertwined, not sure if Cosima would even live to see the next morning, wanting so badly to pull her close and kiss her and tell her how much she needed her.
Finally, after an agonizing few seconds, Cosima cleared her throat.
“Let’s talk inside, okay?”
Sarah pulled her head up, just able to make out the curve of Cosima’s smile against the light. Her arm was out, hand extended toward Sarah.
“Yeah,” Sarah tried to say, but it came out as something more like a choked laugh. She took Cosima’s hand, the warmth of it filling her and sobering her, and followed her into the light.
Chapter 13: Sarah/Rachel - Subtle kindnesses
Based on I Hate Everything About You by icantbestill29
Sarah drew a deep breath, collected herself. The midterm had been twice as bad as she’d expected, and the stress of it was weighing heavy on her shoulders, but she couldn’t bring that inside with her. Reluctantly, she pushed open the door and stepped inside.
A brightly-colored blur burst from around the corner and sprang into her arms.
“Hey, Monkey,” she said. She squeezed her daughter tight, feeling a layer of worry instantly fall away. “Missed you.”
Next, Kira would ask how class went, a shine in her eyes like it was the most exciting thing in the world. It was a familiar and wonderful routine they’d fallen into, and Sarah wouldn’t change it for anything.
“Rachel’s here!” Kira said instead.
Sarah peered around the corner, and sure enough, there was Rachel on the couch, a teacup in her hand.
“Hello, Sarah,” she said, offering a soft smile. There was something in the way she held the cup that looked a little strained.
“Hey,” Sarah said. “What are you doin’ here?”
It would have been imperceptible to anyone but Sarah, but she saw Rachel’s face tense.
“Sorry,” Sarah offered. “I didn’t mean… I’m just surprised. Thought we were meetin’ at your place.”
“Yes, well. I knew that today’s exam would be on your mind.”
Rachel paused, casting her eyes down to the tea in her cup.
“I also know that you wouldn’t have accepted me cancelling our plans, especially if it were for your sake.”
Sarah turned to Kira, the two of them exchanging knowing smiles, before walking over and taking a seat beside Rachel. Rachel glanced up for only a second before lowering her eyes again.
“You can very stubborn in that way,” she said.
“Right,” she said. “You’re the most stubborn person I’ve ever met.”
Rachel smiled slightly, picking up the fondness in Sarah’s voice.
“I thought you might prefer to be with your family tonight.”
“Idiot,” Sarah said, shaking her head. Rachel looked up at her, stunned. “You’re part of my family now. What’s it gonna take for you to get that? Do I gotta make it official or what?”
Rachel’s eyes widened. Oops.
“Just what are you suggesting, Sarah?”
Sarah shrugged awkwardly. She looked over to Kira who was still staring back at them with an innocent smile on her face.
“Just… thanks,” she said, instead of anything stupid neither of them were quite ready for. Not just yet.
She leaned in close and placed a kiss on Rachel’s temple, felt her soften against it. They stayed like that for a moment, Sarah’s past stress falling further and further away as she rested against Rachel. Her family. The love of her life.
“Time to set the table, love!” came Siobhan’s voice from the kitchen, breaking the two of them out of their reverie. They separated and glanced over to Kira who was now looking at Rachel expectantly.
“I did promise to help,” Rachel admitted.
“Go on then,” Sarah chuckled, lightly shoving her shoulder.
Rachel stood, and Sarah couldn’t help but reach out and take her hand. Rachel’s eyes fell to it, a warm smile settling on her face. She gave Sarah’s fingers a light squeeze before following Kira to the kitchen.
Chapter 14: Sarah/Cosima - Multiple themes
The prompts for this one were:
An absent look or touch.
A moment’s respite.
On the edge of consciousness.
“Welcome home, sestra.”
After everything: their frantic escape from a burning lodge under siege by Neos, the long, seemingly endless trip back to Canada, the fact that her own daughter couldn’t stand to be near her right now… after all that, the kindness and love in Cosima’s words and the warmth of Cosima’s palm against hers were nearly enough to cause Sarah to break down sobbing.
“Missed you,” she said instead, hoping the tears in her voice weren’t obvious. “Y’know that, yeah?”
“Hey,” Cosima said softly. She’d definitely noticed. “You okay? You look exhausted.”
“Cheers for that,” Sarah chuckled.
“You know that’s not what I meant,” Cosima sighed. Her hand drifted from Sarah’s hand to the sleeve of her leather jacket. “Actually, you’re looking pretty, uh…”
Cosima trailed off, her hand continuing to move absently, trailing over Sarah’s jacket and finally to her bare midriff.
She pulled away suddenly, coughing. A symptom of her illness maybe. But probably not.
“Cos?” Sarah said, smirking.
Cosima cleared her throat.
“Yeah, uh, I was gonna say you should take my bed. Get some rest.”
The thought of it nearly made Sarah fall asleep on the spot, but she shook her head.
“No time,” she said. “We need to find what’s goin’ on.”
“Yeah, this is pretty much non-negotiable,” Cosima said, and Sarah suddenly felt herself being pulled along by the arm, no strength in her to resist. She hit the edge of the bed and collapsed onto it, her body instantly melting into the mattress. There was no way she was getting back up now.
She heard Cosima from above, laughing at the sight of her.
“Come on, Sarah,” she sighed. Against all odds, she was able to tug and roll the useless lump that was Sarah Manning until was finally tucked under the covers.
“Sleep tight,” Cosima said, smiling softly.
“Hey,” Sarah said, and she was pretty sure the drowsiness was talking for her at this point. “You’re lookin’ pretty tired too.”
She flipped up a corner of the covers, ran her hand over the open space on the bed.
“I really missed you,” she whispered.
She watched Cosima’s lips curl into a coy smile.
“For now,” she said. “Just try and get some sleep, okay?”
“Yeah, alright,” Sarah groaned. She closed her eyes and instantly felt herself sinking. “For now.”
She felt something soft press against her forehead, and then she was asleep.
Chapter 15: Cosima/Rachel - A stolen kiss
It had been several weeks since Rachel had graced Cosima’s lab, having since opted to send one of her lackeys in her place. Every Monday and Thursday at precisely 2:00 P.M., he’d show up in yet another overpriced suit (Rachel had probably picked them all out personally, because that sounded like something she’d do) for a quick update on her progress. Cosima had found it strange, Rachel sending someone to take down information that could easily have been passed along in an e-mail, but if there was one thing she knew Rachel Duncan was about, it was blatant power moves.
Cosima had become so used to the routine, that on the day Rachel Duncan herself walked through the door, she very nearly fell out of her chair.
“Good afternoon,” she said, marching purposefully in Cosima’s direction. The sound of her heels filled the entirety of the room.
“Uh, hey,” Cosima said, too casual. “Where’s uh, where’s Funt?”
“I’ve decided Martin’s time is better spent elsewhere,” Rachel said. “I’ll be taking a more hands-on approach from now on.”
“Right, yeah,” Cosima replied. She moved out of the way as Rachel stepped closer, motioning to her open laptop. “Well, everything’s there, so… yeah.”
Rachel shot her a curious look before turning to the computer. Cosima watched her eyes trail over her notes.
“Where is Dr. Cormier today?” Rachel asked.
“What?” Cosima blurted before thinking.
Delphine had taken a trip outside the city, supposedly on an assignment given to her by Rachel herself. So either Rachel was playing dumb in an attempt to drive a wedge between them, or… or Delphine was lying to her. Sickeningly enough, Cosima found she wasn’t sure which was the more likely scenario.
“She’s out,” she said, hoping it was a satisfying enough answer.
“It must be very complicated for you,” Rachel said, still scanning over Cosima’s open laptop. “Working with someone you have such strong feelings for.”
Cosima grit her teeth, anger rising in her chest. This woman really seemed to have an obsession with their relationship.
“I don’t see how that’s any of your business.”
“Everything that happens within these walls is my business,” Rachel spat. “You’d do well to remember that.”
God, she had nerve, Cosima could say that much for her. She swallowed back her irritation, forcing calm into her voice.
“We make it work.”
Rachel turned to her, slowly scanned her face in a way that made her feel uneasy.
“Hm,” she said and only just that. She turned back to the laptop, leaving Cosima to stew in it.
“What the hell’s that supposed to mean?” Cosima asked. She regretted it instantly.
“The two of you are doing important work,” Rachel sighed. “My concern is only for the sake of the project. Love is a fickle thing, after all.”
“Yeah,” Cosima said, laughing bitterly. “No offense, but you’re not exactly the first person I’d come to for relationship advice.”
A small smile tugged at Rachel’s lips. She closed the laptop, turned to Cosima.
“Then you’ve misjudged me,” she said. “I do have a certain amount of experience in this area. I know how to balance a professional relationship with something more… physical.”
Cosima’s breath hitched in her throat as Rachel’s hand grazed hers. Slowly, she began to trace the length of her arm.
“What are you--”
Cosima was cut silent by the feeling of Rachel’s lips pressing against hers, all of her anger and frustration suddenly clouded over by something else, something from deep in her chest. She sighed into the kiss, her hands slipping unconsciously into Rachel’s hair. It wasn’t until she felt the sharp sting of Rachel’s teeth on her bottom lip that she thought to object to what was happening.
She jumped back.
“Fuck!” she yelled. “What the fuck? You… you kissed me!”
“You didn’t seem to mind,” Rachel said calmly. Cosima hated how smug she sounded. More than that, she hated how right she was.
“Well then,” Rachel sighed. “I’ll let you get back to work.”
And just like that, she turned and began heading for the door. Cosima knew she should just stay quiet and let her leave, and yet…
“What?” she blurted. “That’s it?”
Rachel paused with her handle on the door.
“Was there something else you wanted?”
Cosima shifted uncomfortably under Rachel’s stare, desperately cycling through a few different poses before settling, one hand on her hip and the other idly tapping at the tabletop. Cool. Casual. She was fine. This whole thing was fine.
“I’m fine,” she said out loud.
Rachel arched an eyebrow, then pulled open the door.
“Until Monday then,” she said, a hint of a smile on her face. “I do hope Dr. Cormier will be able to join us.”
The second she was out of sight, Cosima collapsed into her chair, shaking. Her entire body was on fire.
It was going to be a long weekend.
Chapter 16: Sarah + Helena - An abandoned or empty place
It was Helena’s idea, of course. Sarah wasn’t the type who liked to dwell on the past; there was just too much regret there. Which was why she resisted when Helena asked to return to the site of one of her biggest regrets.
“I want for you to go with me.”
“Helena, why would you ever wanna go back there?”
“It will help me to heal.”
And so they went. Sarah hoped against hope that the place would have changed somehow, but of course it hadn’t. It was exactly the same, every inch of it. The spot where Amelia, their birth mother had taken her last breath. The spot where Helena had appeared, bathed in an unearthly light, the most terrifying thing Sarah had ever seen. The spot where Sarah had fallen, clutching her pistol, her last resort, pointing it at her sister’s chest, and…
Well, Sarah wasn’t the type who liked to dwell on the past.
Back here in the present, Helena was kneeling down, staring into the empty space where Amelia had lay clinging to life.
“I think,” Helena started, a reverent tone in her voice. “She only wanted to keep us safe.”
The words hung, festering in the stale air.
“I don’t blame you,” Sarah said, when the silence was too much to bear. “For bein’ angry.”
Helena turned to look up at her. She nodded, a small thank you.
“I’m sorry, Sarah.”
Sarah sighed. Her entire heart ached. She stepped forward and knelt beside Helena.
“Yeah,” she said. “I’m sorry too.”
They’d come a long way since that night, since this place, almost in spite of it. But no matter how hard Sarah tried to ignore it, it was still a part of her, a part of the both of them. Helena was doing what she could to accept it; the least Sarah could do was try. She owed Helena at least that much.
Sarah leaned in closer to her sister until their shoulders touched. They let the silence wash over them.
Chapter 17: Sarah + Helena - Coming home
Sarah had never picked someone up from the airport before. It was maybe a strange thing to fixate on, but it really did feel like a milestone, another sign that she was finally getting her shit together. A steady paycheck, PTA meetings, and now, picking her sister up from the airport. Sarah Manning, responsible adult. She didn’t hate the sound of it.
She barely recognized the woman who walked through the doors, with her deep tan and oversized lei and flowing cotton dress, until she ran headfirst into Sarah, swallowing her into a tight hug. She smelled overwhelmingly like sunblock.
“Hello, sestra,” she said. “Good to see you.”
Sarah laughed, lost somewhere in her sister’s hair.
The car ride home was a loud one, Helena excitedly recounting the way the ocean looked and how the food tasted and a full five minutes spent gushing about a turtle she saw.
“Sounds like an adventure,” Sarah laughed. “Sorry I missed it.”
And she was. Helena had been begging for months for a fun vacation, just the two of them, but Sarah was never able to find the time. Being a responsible adult was a double-edged sword. Eventually, the guilt became too much and she had to suggest Helena go it alone.
“Next time,” Helena said, hopeful. “Twin adventure.”
“Yeah,” Sarah said, nodding. “Next time.”
She turned to her sister, the both of them smiling warmly at each other. It was then Sarah noticed the thick bags under her eyes.
“Shit, Helena. You look exhausted.”
“I’m fine,” she said.
Five minutes later, she was asleep.
Sarah had to gently shake her awake once they reached the house.
“Come on, Meathead,” Sarah said. “Let’s get you to bed.”
Sarah pulled a grumbling Helena to her feet, the smell of coconut invading her nostrils.
“God,” Sarah chuckled as Helena struggled to move under her own weight. “Did you get any sleep at all?”
Helena shook her head, nearly toppling over with the effort.
“I can’t sleep when you are not close to me.”
Sarah wasn’t sure what to say to that, so she just kept dragging her sister forward in silence. Eventually, they reached the bed. Helena collapsed onto it with a heavy groan.
“Good night, Sarah. Thank you.”
Sarah turned to leave, then paused at the door.
“Everything’s alright now,” she said. “You know that, right?”
“Mm,” Helena murmured, rolling onto her side.
Sarah slipped outside, gently sliding the door closed behind her.
Chapter 18: Sarah/Rachel - Coming home
They met at Bobby’s Bar, a suggestion Sarah had thrown out sarcastically back when the whole idea seemed laughable. She hadn’t expected Rachel to take her up on it, nor did she expect the sight that greeted her when she walked into the place: Rachel chatting with Bobby over her martini like she’d been coming here for years. Bobby was smiling.
Rachel Duncan was making Bobby smile.
“Hey, you,” Bobby called, finally spotting Sarah at the entrance, frozen in place. “You’ve got a hell of a family.”
Rachel turned to face her, face tightening, suddenly defensive.
“Yeah,” Sarah said. “You have no idea.”
“So, what’s this about then, ey?” Sarah asked. “If you came to apologize, I don’t wanna hear it.”
Rachel blinked back at her for a moment, caught off guard, before nodding.
“Then I hope you will allow me to at least express my… regrets.”
She turned to her glass, nervously tapped her finger against the base of it.
“I have so many regrets, Sarah. For what I’ve done, for what I am. I was too deeply embedded in that world to see it. It was easy to justify everything as a means to an end.”
“And what?” Sarah shot back. “If you’d gotten everythin’ you wanted, would you still have regrets then?”
Rachel raised her eyes and stared at some point on the far wall, considering. She offered a small, rueful laugh.
“I don’t know,” she admitted. “I don’t suppose my regrets mean much at all then, do they?”
“Look,” Sarah sighed. Rachel turned to her, looking almost hopeful. “Cos never woulda been able to cure everyone if not for you. And I guess I did sorta shoot a pencil through your eye.”
Rachel laughed in response, and then Sarah was laughing. What else could they do but laugh about it now?
“So,” Sarah continued. “Let’s just call it even, yeah?”
“Even,” Rachel repeated, playing with the word on her tongue. “I would like that very much.”
“Great,” Sarah said, offering Rachel a firm clap on the back. It felt every bit as awkward as Sarah imagined it would be.
They were silent for a moment, Sarah allowing Rachel at least enough time to say her peace before offering a half-assed excuse and ducking out.
“I don’t suppose,” Rachel started, voice shaking. She paused again. “You’d be willing to start again?”
“What?” Sarah blurted, raising an eyebrow.
Rachel cleared her throat, extending a hand in Sarah’s direction.
“Rachel Duncan. Pleasure to meet you.”
“God,” Sarah laughed, and it felt like a release. She pushed Rachel’s hand away. “Don’t do that, you weirdo.”
Sarah sighed deeply, running a hand through her hair. Rachel really did seem to be trying, and she supposed that had to count for something.
“I must be crazy,” Sarah muttered to herself.
“One drink,” she said. “That’s all I’m promisin’.”
“I think that’s more than fair,” Rachel said, and Sarah had never seen her smile like this before.
Sarah quickly found Bobby at the other end of the bar and motioned her over. She had no idea what the rest of the night held, only that she sure as hell wasn’t drunk enough for it.
Chapter 19: Alison + Sarah
“Shoot,” Alison muttered as she stumbled over the bottom step. Sarah caught her by the arm, gently pulling her upright.
“You’re alright,” she said. Alison could hear the strain in her voice as she struggled not to laugh, and she was grateful for it.
With considerable effort, Sarah managed to drag Alison up the stairs to the second floor of Siobhan’s home and into the guest bedroom. As soon as she lay eyes on the bed, Alison’s body took over, pulling her toward it like a magnet. She fell face first onto the mattress, felt herself sink into the plush covers.
“Thank you, Sarah,” she said, and it took all she had not to start crying again. “You’ve been so kind, and I’ve treated you so horribly.”
“Nah,” Sarah chuckled. “Believe me, been treated so much worse.”
“Well, not anymore,” Alison slurred. “Not by me. We’re in this thing together, right?”
“After all,” Alison continued. “You… you might be all I have left.”
And there were the tears again. There was no way Alison could go home now. She’d let her own paranoia consume her, allowed it to upend her entire her life. She’d become a pariah. A cheater. A homewrecker.
“Hey,” Sarah said. Alison felt the bed sink underneath her as Sarah perched herself on the side. “You’re not gonna let this beat you. You’re stronger than that.”
“I’m not,” Alison whimpered. “I’m not like you.”
“Idiot,” Sarah shot back. “You and me, we’re made of the same shit.”
Alison rolled over, head swimming, and looked up at Sarah and the kind smile on her face.
“Listen,” Sarah said. “Get some rest. And then tomorrow, you’re gonna go out there and you’re gonna get your bloody life back, yeah?”
“Okay,” Alison said, nodding. Warm tears trickled down her face. “Okay, Sarah.”
“Good,” Sarah said, tapping Alison on the arm. She rose to her feet, then made her way to the door before glancing back. “We’re in this together, remember?”
“Thank you,” she whispered. “Good night, Sarah.”
Sarah disappeared into the hallway, sliding the door closed behind her.
Tomorrow, Alison would pick herself up and begin to reassemble the pieces of her life. But that was tomorrow.
Alison closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.
Chapter 20: Helena - A fistfight
Helena’s fist connected with the man’s jaw. He fell back, landing with a crash in the pile of black bags. Yesterday’s trash, just where he belonged.
Rain came down heavy on the pavement, but all Helena could feel was the blood pounding through her head. She opened her fist. Closed it again. Waited.
Stand up. Stand up, pokydʹky.
Helena lunged forward. She threw her fist into him. His face cracked. He fell. An arc of blood hung in the air before falling to meet him. Red. Helena saw only red.
She grabbed the bottle from the rim of the dumpster, shattered it over the side. She hunched over the man and pulled him up by his collar. He coughed, sputtering red onto his jacket.
She brought the bottle to his throat.
She felt a hand, soft on her shoulder. She craned her neck to see her sister there above her. Sarah had a hand pressed over her cheek. Blood trickled down her chin, pink with rainwater.
“Leave it,” she said. She sounded afraid. “Come on. Please.”
Helena turned back to the man, his body now limp in her hands. Sarah’s hand trembled against her shoulder.
Helena nodded, then dropped the man to the ground, the bottle beside him. She stood, let herself be pulled closer to her sister.
“I’m sorry,” she said.
Sarah sighed, running a hand along her back.
“Let’s go home, yeah?”
“Yes,” Helena said, and together, they started to walk.
Chapter 21: Beth/MK - An absent look or touch
Beth tore through the alley. Her lungs threatened to burst in her chest, but she couldn’t stop. Not now. They were right behind her. All of them. Everyone, following her.
She ducked around the corner and her legs finally gave out. She stumbled to the wall and pressed her back up against the cold brick. She couldn’t breathe. She tasted metal.
A sound echoed from her left. There was someone there.
Something soft grazed her cheek. The world fell out beneath her feet.
“Paul?” she groaned.
Her arm shot out on instinct, batting the offending object away. She opened her eyes.
MK’s trailer. Right. This was where she’d ran after everything, her one last desperate hope at escape.
She crooked her neck to see Mika there, sitting beside her on the small couch. She held one hand in the other, an anxious look on her face.
“I, I’m sorry,” she stammered. “It looked like you were having a bad dream. I didn’t know what to do.”
“Oh,” was all Beth could say. She could still feel a trace of Mika’s fingers on her cheek.
“I’m not used to having company,” Mika continued. Her hands twisted around each other. “S-sorry. Are you hungry? I’ll make something to eat.”
Mika turned away and stood from the couch.
It was instinct again that caused Beth’s arm to reach out, this time grabbing a hold of Mika’s hand. Mika jumped, startled. Her hand shook in Beth’s grip.
“Don’t go,” Beth whispered.
Mika’s head turned toward her in slow motion. Her eyes rose reluctantly to meet Beth’s.
“Okay,” she breathed.
On shaking legs, she closed the distance between them.
Chapter 22: Cosima/Rachel - The color green
“Okay,” Cosima sighed. “I know you like taking a ‘hands-on approach’ or whatever, but I don’t totally get why you have to come all the way down from your tower every time I need an injection.”
“It’s no trouble at all,” Rachel replied, eyes focused on her work as she prepped the needle.
She reached down and gently lifted the bottom of Cosima’s shirt. Goosebumps formed on her stomach. Only from the chill in the room. Proper insulation didn’t seem to be a priority in Revival.
“Uh, yeah,” Cosima said. “Not really what I meant. Just wanted to make sure you’re not, I dunno, getting off on this.”
Before Revival, she’d thought she knew exactly the kind of person Rachel Duncan was, but the woman that had been treating her was something different entirely. No, something was up with Rachel, and Cosima was determined to figure out what it was. Lately, she’d taken to poking at the armor, looking for cracks.
Even now, Rachel’s face betrayed nothing.
“There is a certain joy in knowing that I’m helping you get well,” she said. She offered Cosima a knowing smile. “If that is what you were implying.”
Rachel pressed the alcohol wipe to Cosima’s stomach, sending a chill through her body.
“I do understand that this is uncomfortable for you, Cosima, and for that, I can only apologize. Were Dr. Cormier here--”
“What?!” Cosima snapped, straightening in her seat. “Is that what this is? You think that just because you’re the one who’s here to stick a fucking needle in me, that I’m gonna turn around and join your creepy Neo cult? Is that it?”
Rachel blinked back at her, stunned. Finally, some of her armor had fallen away, but what lay underneath wasn’t quite what Cosima had expected.
“Forgive me,” Rachel said. “It wasn’t my intention to upset you. I suppose, if I’m honest, I’m somewhat… envious of your relationship.”
Cosima had no follow-up to that noise, so she simply lay back on the exam table instead. Somehow, she couldn’t shake the feeling that it was the most genuine thing she’d ever heard Rachel say.
“It hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows, you know,” Cosima said. She wasn’t sure why she was still talking. “I think I’m like, the last person you should be jealous of.”
“Mm,” Rachel mumbled. She pressed one hand to Cosima’s stomach and raised the needle in the other. “Be still now.”
Cosima swallowed and nodded. She grit her teeth as the needle went in. After a second, it was out again. No tears this time. It was getting easier.
“There we are,” Rachel said as she applied the bandage. “Finished.”
“Thanks,” Cosima offered, watching Rachel peel off the rubber gloves.
“As I said, it’s no trouble. Until next time then.”
“Yeah,” Cosima said. Somehow, this was always the most awkward part. “See ya.”
“One more thing,” Rachel said.
Rachel smiled, then took a step toward her. She leaned in impossibly close. Cosima froze in terror as Rachel whispered into her ear.
“It isn’t you I envy.”
Chapter 23: MK + Sarah - Subtle kindnesses
The money appears in Sarah’s account one weekend. She stares and blinks for several minutes at the number on the screen.
Then she calls Alison. It had to be Alison, well-meaning, but overstepping boundaries again. Even for her, this was a bit much.
“It wasn’t me, Sarah,” Alison says, insulted by the question. “Cosima called too. We all got the same amount.”
It’s strange. Very strange. But Sarah doesn’t have the time to look into it. Also, she doesn’t want the money to go away. So she leaves it.
It happens again the next month.
“Yeah, alright,” she says into her phone, but she’s already on hold. The music immediately gives her a headache. She has plenty of time to sit and think about why she’s so eager to throw free money away.
“She says not to worry.”
The voice is so quiet above the smooth jazz pouring out of her phone that she barely registers it. She turns her head to see Kira’s head peeking out from the hallway.
“Who says, Monkey?”
“My friend,” Kira says. “She says that you shouldn’t worry about the money.”
Sarah’s eyes widen. She lowers the phone into her lap.
Kira leads Sarah to her laptop. A farming game is open on the screen, dripping with bright colors.
“You met someone in the game?” Sarah asks.
“Mhm,” Kira hums, pointing to the chat window in the corner.
There, Sarah sees it.
<karitsa> tell her not to worry
<karitsa> its ok
“Babe,” Sarah croaks. “I’m gonna talk to her for a minute, okay?”
“Okay,” Kira chirps. “But I need to harvest my tomatoes soon.”
Sarah mumbles something like an acknowledgement as Kira leaves the room. Her fingers hover over the keyboard, hesitating. She draws a deep breath and then types.
<kstar11> who is this?
Seconds tick by. Cheery music bubbles out from the laptop speakers. Sarah doesn’t blink.
That’s when Sarah knows. Maybe she’d already known. Her breath catches. Her vision clouds with tears.
She has to say something. A million thoughts rush into her head. Only one reaches her fingers.
<kstar11> i’m sorry
She doesn’t say her name. She can’t. If she says it, it might not be real.
<karitsa> don’t be sorry
The words are a blur; Sarah can barely read them. She leans close to the screen until she can feel its warmth. She types.
<kstar11> come back
Sarah curls in on herself, wrapping her arms tight around her waist. She rocks back and forth in her seat and waits.
<karitsa> i can’t
<karitsa> not yet
Her fingers fly to the keyboard before she has the words. But she’s too late.
<karitsa has logged off.>
She’s gone. Just like that. Sarah stares blankly at the screen, watching pixelated grass wave in the breeze.
Then she drives her fist into the desk.
Chapter 24: Rachel + Veera - Coming home (Echoes from Elsewhere AU)
Contains spoilers for Echoes from Elsewhere.
Icy wind whipped at Veera’s hair. The weather outside was harsh, but she’d insisted on waiting at the tarmac anyway. Rachel had been overseas for months, by far the longest the two sisters had ever been apart. Veera’s birthday had been a lonely affair this year, but she supposed that was something that came with becoming an adult.
“I know she’ll be happy to see you,” Tess said. Veera nodded as she watched the plane door open.
Dr. Leekie stepped out first, then Rachel. She marched down the steps, her face cast downward solemnly as her hair blew in the wind. Veera stepped forward to meet her.
“Rachel,” she said, fighting to keep her arms at her sides.
Rachel looked up for just a moment, not breaking her stride.
“Hello,” she said flatly before brushing past.
Veera stood rooted to the spot, stunned.
“Forgive her,” Dr. Leekie said. “It’s been a long trip.”
Upon Tess’s insistence, Veera and Rachel were allowed to ride home in a separate car, away from their monitors. A chance to catch up, she said. It was a prospect Rachel could not have seemed less interested in, having spent the last several minutes silently staring through her window.
“How was your trip?” Veera asked when she could no longer bear the quiet.
“I learned a lot,” Rachel said, still watching the world outside. “About DYAD. About what DYAD does.”
Veera could swear she could hear a hint of anger in her voice.
“That’s good, isn’t it?” she asked. After all, that had been the entire point. Rachel had always been eager to take her rightful place within the company, and finally, it was her time.
Rachel’s head turned slightly, her eyes falling to her lap.
“I suppose,” she said. “It’s just… It’s not what I expected.”
“What do you mean?”
Rachel hands curled over each other. She picked at the skin on her fingers.
“I don’t know if I can be what they want,” she whispered.
Veera looked to the floor, considering.
“Then don’t be what they want,” she said.
Finally, Rachel turned to face her.
“You’re stronger than that,” Veera continued. “If you don’t like something, you’ll fix it. You’ve always been that way.”
Rachel ran her eyes over Veera’s face, swallowing hard. Finally, she nodded.
“Thank you,” she said, then turned away.
She lowered her hand onto the seat, her fingertips brushing against Veera’s wrist.
“Happy birthday, Veera.”
Chapter 25: Helena + Alison - Subtle kindnesses
Helena woke in a sweat. She threw the covers off and sat up, blinking into the darkness.
It was quiet. Not the comforting, beautiful quiet of Arthur and Donnie sleeping soundly by her side; Alison had offered to take them up to her room when Helena started coming down with something. Now it was just Helena and her thoughts.
She got up, sliding on her slippers. Her legs felt weak. She coughed, the sound of it reverberating around the room. The cold air was like needles on her skin as she stepped outside. She hurried into the main house, then up the stairs to Alison’s room.
She heard Alison’s voice as she approached, murmuring softly, but the words were indecipherable. A language Helena didn’t know? Gibberish?
Helena slowly pushed open the door. Alison was perched at the side of her bed, squinting at a sheet of paper in her hands. Arthur and Donnie babbled softly in their bassinets beside her.
“Oh!” Alison squeaked as she spotted Helena in the doorway. The paper was out of her hands in a flash. “H-Helena! How are you feeling?”
“Bad,” Helena croaked. “You are reading to them?”
“Um,” Alison stammered. After some hesitation, she reached to the bedside table and grabbed the piece of paper. “Yes. Trying to.”
Helena lurched forward and took a seat on the bed. She reached over, gently pulling at the paper Alison had tightly pressed against her chest. After a small tug-of-war, Alison relented.
“Ukrainian,” Helena realized, scanning the page.
“I found it online,” Alison muttered, staring down at her hands.
“Ah, the story of the wolves and the bear,” Helena said. She smiled fondly at the memory. “The bear saves the children from the wolves.”
“Oh,” Alison said, nodding.
“And then he eats them.”
“Oh goodness,” Alison exclaimed, throwing her hand over her mouth. “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize.”
Helena chuckled to herself. She spotted a thick Ukrainian dictionary on the dresser. It looked worn.
“We will read it together, yes?” she said.
Alison looked up into Helena’s eyes. She smiled, then scooched closer.
She looked down at the page in Helena’s hand and began to read.
Chapter 26: Rachel - Waiting impatiently for something
Rachel should have expected she’d be kept waiting. There was no one left in her life that respected her time. It wasn’t as though she had things to do. Not anymore.
She brought the teacup to her mouth and drank. Bitter. Cheap swill. She could name half a dozen cafes in the area with a better selection. But she hadn’t. If there were going to be any chance of this going smoothly, she couldn’t afford to be anything but deferential. She’d been told when and where to meet, and she’d obliged.
Like a dog waiting for scraps.
Perhaps no one was coming. It would be petty, but maybe it was what Rachel deserved. After she’d thrown everything away, there wasn’t much anyone could still take from her, save for her dignity. And even that was in short supply these days.
Stand up. Rebuild.
She could hear their voices in her head, echoes of her past mentors. What did they know? Dead, all of them, leaving behind a legacy of lies. At least Rachel had escaped that fate. She had her life. For whatever that was worth.
Maybe that was something like justice. A courtesy paid for her one good deed. Even then, all she’d done was correct her own mistake.
For everything she’d done, all the maneuvering and manipulating and clawing for power, what was left to show for it? What had she been reduced to? Prostrating herself before the ones she’d once looked down upon. Begging for a second chance, not for a position of power, but something new. Something she’d never known.
But would they forgive so easily? If they could accept a killer, then surely…
No. Pity was all she could hope for. She was something to be pitied now.
The door opened. She walked in.
Rachel’s entire body tensed as she watched her approach, grab a seat across the table.
Rachel took a deep breath, let her thoughts dissipate into the air.
Chapter 27: MK + Beth - An absent look or touch
The last remnants of sun spilled out over the water. MK couldn’t remember the last time she’d seen the ocean. She hadn’t even thought to miss it until now.
“I could get used to this,” Beth said from her left.
Beth looked out dreamily over the ocean, her head propped up by her bag. Her car sat parked at the top of the hill behind them, forgotten.
MK dug her toes into the sand. She closed her eyes. The sound of the rolling waves seeped into her. She breathed out and let the weight of her past wash away with the tide.
She opened her eyes again. Beth had rolled to her side, watching MK’s face.
“What?” MK asked as heat rose to her cheeks.
“Nothing,” Beth said. “Just don’t think I’d seen you smile before.”
“Oh,” MK muttered. She hadn’t even realized it. But looking for it now, she felt it, the warmth taking hold in her chest. It felt something like happiness.
“Where are we going next?”
Beth turned onto her back with a contented sigh. She slipped her sunglasses down over her eyes.
“Wherever we want.”
Chapter 28: Sarah + Krystal - Sharing a drink
“Look, I gotta go, but maybe we could grab a drink sometime?”
That had been Sarah’s first mistake, a desperate attempt at escaping an awkward run-in with Krystal. She couldn’t have expected she’d be taken up on her offer.
Her second mistake was letting Krystal choose the bar.
She shouldered her way through the crowd, the stink of body spray assaulting her nostrils. She spotted Krystal at the end of the bar, absent-mindedly fiddling with the straw in her drink. The man beside her had leaned in close, practically slobbering in her lap.
“Oi,” Sarah spat as she approached. “You’re in my seat.”
Krystal turned, flashing her a grateful smile.
“Who the hell are you?” the man slurred.
“Sarah,” Krystal answered. “She’s my clone.”
The man swung his head between the two of them, squinting at their faces.
“Piss off already,” Sarah said, impatient. “She’s not interested.”
“Super not interested,” Krystal clarified.
“Whatever,” the man muttered, then stumbled off into the crowd.
“Thanks,” Krystal said.
“Yeah, sure,” Sarah sighed, sliding onto the stool. She quickly flagged down the bartender.
“Bourbon rocks. And keep ‘em comin’.”
After some tedious small talk, the conversation began to slowly morph into something more natural. Then, it happened. Somewhere between the second and third drink, Sarah realized she was actually having a good time with Krystal.
“I just got in his face and I was like… I was like, hey creep, I know all about what goes on at Sephora HQ. I’ve got two hot cops and some science nerds and an angry Australian ready to bring you the fuck down. I mean, I didn’t actually say ‘fuck’, but like, he heard ‘fuck’, you know?”
“Shit,” Sarah chuckled. “What’d he say?”
“He pretended not to know what I was talking about,” Krystal said. “But like, nothing weird’s happened to me since. What, am I supposed to believe that’s a coincidence? No way.”
“Hey,” Sarah said, throwing an arm around Krystal. She leaned in, poking a finger into her shoulder. “You’re bloody impressive, you know that? You went through some shit, but you… you got up and you took control of your life. You don’t let shit happen to you, because you’re a tough bloody bitch.”
“I am,” Krystal whimpered, tearing up. “I am a tough bloody bitch.”
“You’re damn right,” Sarah said, raising her glass.
Krystal raised her own glass of candy-colored whatever-the-fuck, and they both took a drink.
“I still wish I could tell people to ‘piss off’ like you do,” Krystal sighed. “I don’t think anyone takes me seriously.”
“Hey, just stick with me,” Sarah said, and she could hardly believe the words coming out of her mouth. “Think we could both learn a lot from each other.”
“Yeah,” Krystal said, beaming brightly. “Okay.”
Sarah woke up the next morning in an unfamiliar living room. Her head felt like it was being pulled apart. A fluffy white bunny rabbit twitched its nose up at her from across the room, then scampered off.
Hazy memories formed in her mind: a cab ride spent laughing over failed relationships, a curious expedition into Krystal’s closets, dancing to Carly Rae Jepsen of all things.
“Jesus Christ,” Sarah muttered, pulling a pillow over her head.
Just then, the front door opened.
“Heeey,” Krystal sang.
Sarah groaned, pulling the pillow from her face. Krystal looked every bit the opposite of how Sarah felt right now.
“How can you be so…” Sarah said, ending her thought with a vague hand gesture.
Krystal shrugged. She slipped a paper bag and a tall cardboard cup onto the coffee table by Sarah.
“Got you some breakfast,” she said. “And a latte.”
Sarah could hardly move, but managed to graze Krystal’s arm with her foot, hopefully signaling her gratitude.
“I love you,” she croaked.
Krystal offered her a wink and a smile.
Chapter 29: Cosima + Helena - Under cover of darkness
Cosima liked to think she wasn’t one to rush into a decision before carefully considering the consequences. Sarah was meant to be the impulsive one, not her. So she really should have refused when Helena confidently wagered that she could eat a dozen hard-boiled eggs in ten minutes.
It took less than five.
Now, as she looked out over the still black of the lake, all she could think about was the sound they had made. One by one, torn apart by Helena’s vicious jaws. So squishy.
“Have I ever told you you’re my favorite sister?” Cosima pleaded. She shuddered as a frigid breeze hit her face.
“Many times, yes,” Helena said flatly. “Mostly tonight. Now take your clothes off.”
Cosima let out a long sigh, then started working the buttons of her coat.
“Usually a girl has to take me to dinner first.”
Helena didn’t laugh.
“Not hungry,” she said before letting out a burp that echoed across the water. “Eggs.”
“Yeah, no, I remember,” Cosima grumbled.
She paused with her hands at the bottom of her shirt, catching Helena’s eye.
“Just gonna watch me, huh?”
“Yes,” Helena said, unblinking.
“Cool,” Cosima said. She pulled her shirt off in one fluid motion, then tossed it on the ground. “Whatever.”
Cosima maintained uncomfortable, unflinching eye contact as she removed all the rest. It felt almost like winning. But it definitely wasn’t.
“Happy?” Cosima asked. She was so goddamn cold.
But Helena wasn’t happy, of course. She motioned to the water with her head. Cosima shut her eyes and drew in a deep breath.
“I hope those eggs give you food poisoning,” she said, and then sprinted full-speed into the lake.
Chapter 30: Sarah + Beth - Someone's greatest fear
Sarah had won. Somehow, some way, she’d overcome it all. Fought and scraped her way through everything and everyone that stood in her way. Her daughter was safe. She’d found her family. She’d finally reached it, her very own happy ending.
This was it.
All there was.
All there would ever be.
At the end of each day, she would take a look at herself in the mirror. Over time, her face began to change. Every day, one step closer to how Beth looked on that train platform. Nothing left. Hollowed out.
What, you think you have it bad? Get your shit together.
Sometimes she could still hear her voice in her head. Whatever the hell it was, a mysterious connection or proof that she was losing her mind, a piece of Beth never left her.
“I’m fine,” Sarah muttered. Because talking to ghosts meant she was fine.
You better be.
Sarah laughed, bitter.
I didn’t die so you could sit around feeling sorry for yourself.
“Why don’t you cut the sanctimonious shit?” Sarah spat. “Everyone acts like you’re some bloody hero. Not to me.”
Oh, here we go. Tell me how you really feel.
“You died because you couldn’t handle your own shit!” Sarah screamed into the emptiness.
I was protecting you.
“You gave up , and you left your sisters to pick up the pieces of your miserable life! I never asked for this! I never asked for any of this!”
Then there was silence. Maybe there had always been silence.
“Mum?” a voice called from the other side of the door. “Are you okay?”
“Sorry, Monkey,” Sarah said. She bit her lip to keep from crying. “I’m okay.”
She closed her eyes, breathed deep, let herself go numb. She opened the door and stepped outside.
Chapter 31: Alison + Helena - Accidentally falling asleep together
Alison sets the final drawer into the dresser and steps back, looking over the room in satisfaction. Finally, it’s done.
She’s trying to be more spontaneous these days: less planning, more doing. Today, that backfired.
“I think the two of us can manage,” she said with a naive smile.
Little did she know. She’d always considered Helena something of a minimalist, but like a cruel magic trick, the more they moved out of her old room in Alison’s garage, the more seemed to appear out of thin air: boxes overflowing with random trinkets, strange art pieces, furniture she’d never seen before in her life. Eventually though, it emptied, and when she saw the bare garage, every trace of Helena gone… well, she didn’t feel the relief she’d expected.
Helena takes a seat on her bed, looking around her new room like it’s the most beautiful thing she’s ever seen.
“The girls will be home soon,” Alison says. As much as the family discussed Helena and her sons eventually moving in with Sarah and her daughters, once a date was picked, they decided to keep it as a fun surprise for Kira and Charlotte. “They’ll be so excited.”
“Yes,” Helena says, beaming. “I’m sorry for staying in your home for so long. It was hard for you, yes?”
“Oh, Helena,” Alison sighs. She takes a seat by Helena and wraps an arm around her. They sink into the mattress, the day’s hard work weighing heavy on their bodies.
“I’m sorry I ever made you feel unwelcome,” she says. “I just… I was dealing with a lot at the time. But we all were. It’s not an excuse.”
Helena finds Alison’s hand and gives it a light squeeze.
“It’s okay,” she says. “I understand this.”
“But things changed,” Alison says. “And now I can’t imagine what that house will be like without you.”
A tear rolls down her cheek. Helena brushes it away.
“It was your home,” Alison says. “It is your home. Always.”
“Thank you, sestra,” Helena says, tears in her voice.
Alison rests her head on Helena’s shoulder. Helena rests her head against Alison’s.
“I’ll miss you,” Alison says. It’s silly, really. They’ll see each other all the time.
“I will miss you too,” Helena says.
Alison’s eyelids flutter and then close.
“I should go,” Alison whispers.
“I know,” Helena whispers back.
Their breathing slows, falling into sync. The world goes quiet.
Chapter 32: Lumberfamily - Cuddling in a blanket fort
“Shh, careful,” Sarah whispers.
Kira claps one hand over her mouth to keep from giggling as she moves the tip of the marker over Cal’s cheek with the lightest of touches. Thankfully, he’s a heavy sleeper.
The weather in Middle-of-Nowhere, Iceland is bitter cold, which means they had the materials to build the biggest blanket fort in history, at least according to Cal. Kira was skeptical but liked the idea too much to protest very hard.
Kira finishes drawing, and Sarah props herself up to admire their handiwork. Sarah’s side of the mustache is a traditional handlebar while Kira’s is something more fanciful. It’s his fault for shaving off the real thing.
“He’ll love it,” Sarah says.
“Yeah,” Kira agrees, snickering.
They flop back onto their pillows and snuggle up to Cal, listening to the wind howling outside. Sarah shuts her eyes and lets out a long breath.
“When we go back home, can it stay like this?”
Sarah opens her eyes again and stares at the blanket ceiling above them. The patterns start to blur together.
“I don’t know,” she says. “I hope so, Monkey.”
“Me too,” Kira says.
Sarah sighs, then sits up, putting on a smile. She picks up the marker and pops off the cap.
“I think your dad could use some glasses.”
Chapter 33: MK/Krystal - Shoulder rubs
“Okay, you’re like, really tense.”
MK knows this, of course. Krystal’s apartment is well-heated, her couch is comfortable, and her hands feel good on her shoulders, but even still…
“You’re like a rock,” Krystal says. “You’re like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Suominen.”
“Oh, uh,” Krystal stammers. “I said… never mind. Wow, I usually have to know someone way longer before I make a joke that stupid. What are you doing to me?”
MK couldn’t begin to answer that question. At least, not until she can figure what exactly it is Krystal is doing to her. Something equal parts wonderful and terrifying.
“Something good?” she asks, tentative.
“Something very good,” Krystal says, and MK can hear her smiling around the words. She digs harder into MK’s shoulders. “Seriously, is it stress or what?”
Krystal stops suddenly.
“Do you not like it?” she asks.
“No!” MK says. “I mean, yes, I like it. I guess I’m just nervous.”
Krystal’s hand has moved to her back, sweeping in slow circles, comforting.
“Why are you nervous?” she asks.
“I don’t know,” MK says, which is mostly true. She draws a deep breath and forces herself to turn around to face Krystal. The look of concern on her face makes MK’s heart break.
“I’m not used to this,” MK says. “I was alone for a very long time.”
“I know,” Krystal says. She reaches for MK’s hand, then pulls back. “Are things moving too fast?”
“Maybe,” MK says. “I just… I feel like this is all out of my control.”
“Oh,” Krystal says. “I’m sorry. I know I’ve been kind of taking charge. I guess I thought that’s what you wanted.”
“I did,” MK says. “I thought I did. But I don’t know if I can keep up with you.”
“Mika,” Krystal sighs. “I’m not asking you to. We’ll go as slow as you want, okay?”
MK tries to speak but the words catch in her throat. She nods instead.
“This is new to me too,” Krystal says. “We’ll figure it out together. Some things are worth working for, you know?”
Mk can hear it in her voice. This is important to her too. She suddenly feels stupid for not saying anything sooner.
“I think so too,” she says.
“Good,” Krystal says, cracking a smile. She picks up the TV remote and leans back into the couch. “Netflix?”
MK sighs and feels all the tension leave her body.
“Oh my god,” Krystal says. “We’re at the season finale already?”
Her free hand sits in her lap, fingers idly tapping her thigh. MK swallows, then reaches out and takes it. Krystal doesn’t turn from the TV, but MK can see the corner of a smile on her face. Their fingers lace together and settle in the space between them.
Chapter 34: Sarah + Helena - Sharing a dessert
Sarah shuffles into the kitchen, stifling a yawn. Helena is at the table, digging into her third piece of cake of the day.
“Good day?” Sarah asks.
“Yes,” Helena says, like it was silly to even ask. “Come. Sit, Sarah.”
Sarah takes a seat across from her sister and smiles as Helena slides her another fork.
“Don’t think you’re supposed to have sweets before bed,” Sarah says.
“Today is special,” Helena argues.
“Yeah,” Sarah sighs. “Guess it is.”
She reaches over and grabs a bite.
“Can’t remember the last time I had a birthday party,” she says. “Even Kira’s, I… well, doesn’t matter now.”
“This was my first one,” Helena says.
Sarah leans forward and places her hand over Helena’s. Helena pulls her bottom lip between her teeth.
“You know that’s all over now, yeah?” Sarah says. “We can make up for lost time, finally.”
“More parties?” Helena asks.
Sarah chuckles, rolling her eyes.
“Not really what I meant, but sure. If you want.”
Helena grins and leans forward, resting her chin on the table.
“It’s okay,” she says. “I like this also.”
Sarah smiles and squeezes Helena’s hand.
“Yeah. Me too.”
Chapter 35: Sarah + Alison - Caring for each while ill
“I’m fine,” Sarah groans as Alison presses a hand to her forehead.
“You’re not fine,” Alison says. “You’re burning up.”
Sarah rolls over and pulls the covers over her head. Alison sighs.
“If you think I’m leaving you here by yourself, you can think again,” she says. “I’m used to dealing with stubborn children.”
Sarah flings the covers off and throws Alison a pretty powerful death glare, considering the state she’s in. Alison ignores it.
“Drink,” she says, pulling a glass of water off the bedside table.
“Not thirsty,” Sarah grumbles.
“Drink,” Alison repeats. She tilts the glass to Sarah’s lips. Sarah takes the whole thing down in three gulps.
“Would you like another glass?” Alison asks.
Sarah says nothing, eyes narrowing.
“Okay,” Alison sighs, doing her best not to sound too smug. She stands and makes her way to the kitchen.
Sarah’s eyes are closed when she gets back, breathing slowed, head sunken into her pillow. Alison gently places the glass on the table, then tucks in a corner of blanket that’s come loose at the foot of the bed. Sarah lets out a low hum of appreciation. Alison tiptoes to the door and out into the hallway. Sarah calls out after her, so soft that she barely catches it.
“Good night, mum.”
Alison eases the door closed and leaves Sarah to rest.
Chapter 36: Alison/Krystal - Sharing a dessert
Alison’s weekly clone dinner party is especially lively tonight, what with Sarah’s big news. And as thrilling as the promise of a new niece or nephew is, the most welcome surprise is what’s missing. It wasn’t that long ago that an announcement like this would have brought painful memories bubbling to the surface of Alison’s mind, but tonight, she can say that she’s past all that. She’s… happy.
With all the commotion, dinner runs later than usual, and it isn’t until Krystal stands to leave that Alison remembers she made a peach cobbler for dessert. But Sarah and Helena have to go put the kids to bed. Cosima has to make a very technical-sounding presentation in the morning she claims could revolutionize modern medicine. Mika promised to meet her online game friends for some event.
However, once everyone has announced that they’re leaving, Krystal suddenly takes her seat again.
“It’s sweet of you, but you really don’t have to stay,” Alison says. She nurses her chamomile as she watches Krystal take a bite.
“Mm,” Krystal mumbles, then swallows. “I couldn’t resist your cobbler, Mrs. Hendrix.”
“Alison’s fine.” Though she is technically still a “Mrs.”, she’s not exactly looking for a reminder. “Is it alright?”
“Oh my god, you haven’t tried it?” Krystal says, bringing a hand to her chest, shocked. “Here.”
She scooches her chair and leans in close enough that Alison can smell her shampoo. She raises a forkful to Alison’s mouth. Alison meets her eyes, then quickly looks away. She swallows, then leans forward. The fork dips suddenly, smearing warm peach onto her bottom lip.
“Oops,” Krystal giggles. “Let me get that.”
She extends a finger, reaching for Alison’s mouth.
“I’ve got it,” Alison blurts out, pulling back. She licks away the evidence in a way she can only hope is non-sensual.
Krystal turns back to her dessert, a mischievous smile playing on her face.
“It’s, um, it’s a little sweet,” Alison stammers.
“I don’t mind.”
Alison picks up her cup and downs half the tea in one gulp. She’s glad to be sober, but there are still times she craves something that will do more than just burn her throat.
“So,” she says, when she can’t bear the quiet. “How’s the beauty channel going?”
“Good,” Krystal says flatly. “Never better. Everything’s just… good right now.”
“You say that like it’s a bad thing.”
“Not bad, just…” Krystal says. She sets her fork down, staring at a point on the far wall. “Kinda boring, you know?”
“Honestly,” Alison says. “After everything, I’m grateful for boring.”
Krystal turns in her seat to face Alison, a fire in her eyes.
“Okay, but like, you can’t tell me it wasn’t a little exciting. I heard about the kinda stuff you got up to.”
Alison turns away, ashamed. Krystal grabs hold of her wrist and pulls her back.
“I’m ready for a little excitement,” she says, and suddenly her hand is on Alison’s thigh. “Know what I mean, Alison?”
Krystal’s eyebrows are raised expectantly. She pulls the corner of her lip between her teeth.
“It’s Mrs. Hendrix,” Alison says. She grabs the hand planted on her leg and pulls Krystal into her lap.
Chapter 37: Cosima + Helena - The stars or space
The camping trip is a disappointment. Not so much for the bugs or the air mattress or, oh god, the entire bathroom situation, but what those things have forced Cosima to accept about herself. She’s always prided herself on her free-wheeling, go-with-the-flow attitude, but take a couple of steps outside city limits, and it all comes crumbling down. Maybe her problem with Revival hadn’t been the creepy immortality cult or the human rights violations, but a lack of central heating.
She’s tired, she’s cold, she’s covered in bug bites, and she is cranky, and the only other person within a 20-mile radius is Helena, the kind of person who could kill a bear with her fists if she had to. So complaining is out.
After dinner, Cosima drapes herself in a blanket and stares blankly into the fire, daydreaming about hot showers and coffee and the internet. She has no idea how long she’s been sitting there, but when Helena’s voice pulls her from her trance, she realizes the sky has gone dark.
“Hm?” she mumbles.
“Come,” Helena calls. Cosima can just make out the shadowy figure on the ground in front of her. “Lie here with me.”
Cosima is confused but stands and makes her way over. Helena has made them a cozy little nest of pillows and blankets. She lowers herself to the ground, and Helena tucks her in. For the first time since they got here, Cosima is warm.
For a second, she imagines an errant spark setting the two of them on fire, then she pushes it back. That’s when she notices the sky.
She knew there’d be stars of course, but seeing them now, the infinite shimmering tapestry above her… suddenly she and her problems feel incredibly small.
“Yes,” Helena says.
“Look,” Cosima says, taking Helena’s hand. She presses their index fingers together, and they trace a path through the sky. “Here’s the Big Dipper, and if you draw out from there… that’s Ursa Major. Big bear.”
“Oh, and here,” Cosima continues. “Little bear. You uh, kinda have to use your imagination for some of these. And we’re around here somewhere… Cygnus.”
Helena pulls them down and to the right. She traces the shape of the swan, head to tail, then the wings.
“There she is,” Cosima chuckles. “You know this already, huh?”
“Yes,” Helena says, and Cosima can make out the curve of her smile. “But I like to listen to you.”
“That’s a first,” Cosima says, because humor is the only way she knows how to deal with a compliment like that.
“We can go back in the morning,” Helena says. “If you want.”
Cosima sighs, shifting closer to Helena. Their hands have settled on top of the blanket, still linked together. She runs her thumb across the back of Helena’s hand.
Chapter 38: MK/Krystal - Tears
Veera has her good days and her bad days. With all the danger in the past and with more love in her life now than she’d ever imagined was possible, the bad days come less frequently, but the memories never truly fade. Maybe she doesn’t want to forget. Maybe just as bad as the memory of it is the guilt she feels for trying to move on, for taking back her old name as if nothing had ever happened. Maybe she’s betraying them.
The bedroom door creaks open and she quickly shuts her eyes, pretending to sleep. Something heavy flops down beside her.
Veera opens her eyes and Krystal is there staring back at her. Her hair glows in the sunlight peeking through the blinds.
“Hey,” Veera says.
“Do you wanna talk?”
“No,” Veera says, hiding her face in her pillow.
“Do you want me to leave you alone?”
“Okay,” Krystal says.
She reaches under the covers and finds Veera’s hand, gently parting her fingers and weaving in her own. She shuts her eyes and lets Veera stay hidden, safe.
Veera closes her eyes and listens to the rhythm of their breathing. Her fingers tighten against Krystal’s, loosen then tighten again, reminding herself of what she has.
“I don’t know why it was me,” Veera says softly, and she almost hopes Krystal can’t hear her.
“Why it was you who…?”
“I don’t know why it was me who survived.”
Veera blinks and tears stream from her eyes, pooling on her pillow.
“Oh, babe,” Krystal sighs. With her free hand, she brushes away Veera’s tears, runs her fingers over the contours of her scars.
“It’s what you do,” she says. “You survive. You’re here today because, when anyone else would have given up, you kept fighting. And they’re not really gone, because you’re still here. You lived for them too, so that they could live on inside of you. That’s what I think.”
Veera can’t stop her tears now. She reaches up and takes Krystal’s hand, squeezes. A silent thank you.
“You would have loved Niki,” she says.
Krystal smiles, and it’s warm.
“Tell me about her.”
Chapter 39: Beth + MK - A flash of anger
Beth pulls out her phone and hides it in her jacket, shielding it from the rain. She blinks, fighting the blur in her eyes, and types out a message.
> I need to see you
As expected, the response comes seconds later.
> Tomorrow. 3PM.
Beth groans and steps up to the trailer door. She knocks.
“It’s me!” she calls. “Open up.”
Her phone buzzes, almost angrily.
> Are you insane?
> Keep your voice down
The spiteful part of her wants to scream, but she manages to stay quiet and waits for MK to weigh the pros and cons of letting her in. The light in the trailer blinks off, and then the door opens. She steps forward into darkness. The door clicks shut behind her.
“You shouldn’t be here.”
The light comes on, revealing MK’s irritated face.
“I know,” Beth says. Her clothes are dripping all over MK’s floor. “I’m sorry, okay?”
“No, you’re not,” MK says, and Beth can’t really argue with her. She turns away and disappears around the corner leading to her workspace. “You’re sure you weren’t followed?”
“Of course,” Beth says, though she doubts it makes a difference.
Sure enough, when she catches up and steps around the desk, she sees MK has pulled up a live security feed of the street outside.
“What’s the emergency?” MK asks.
“Look, I just…”
The room swirls around Beth. She brings a palm to her forehead and shuts her eyes tight.
“Are you high right now?”
If she had it in her, Beth would laugh. The better question would be: when isn’t she?
“I needed to get away from everything,” she says. “Just for one night. I was gonna drive out of the city, find a hotel, but… I don’t know, I just ended up here. We’re not friends, I know that. I don’t need that from you. Just… let me stay. One night. Please.”
MK has pulled her bottom lip between her teeth. There is so much written on her face, and if Beth were in a better frame of mind, maybe she could read any of it.
“I’m sorry,” MK finally says. “I can’t help you. You should go.”
It’s expected, or at least it should be. But that doesn’t make it sting any less.
Beth turns and starts to walk away. She slows at the corner, then stops, turns back.
“You know what? Fuck you.”
She sees MK shrink in her seat, hiding behind her monitor. She feels like a monster, but she can’t stop herself.
“You’re the one who came to me. You asked me for help. Do you have any idea what my life has become since then? Do you?! Of course you don’t. You sit here all day and all night while I’m out there doing your dirty work, and all you can think about is whether they’ll find you. I live with one of them. You know everything about my life, and I don’t even know your fucking name. You expect me to play by your rules? You expect me to trust you? Why? Because you have my face? Well, I’ve got news for you. Most days, I don’t even trust myself.”
MK doesn’t say anything, and Beth feels the guilt rise in her chest. She doesn’t know if MK deserved that. She doesn’t know much of anything right now. She turns away and walks to the door.
She freezes with her hand on the knob.
“Veera Suominen is my name. Was my name.”
When Beth looks back, MK is standing there, head down, wringing her hands. There are tears on her cheeks.
“You can take my bed,” she says. “I’ll get you some dry clothes.”
Chapter 40: Sarah/Beth - While driving or in/around a car
They’re as unlikely a pair as they come: an ex-junkie grifter and the cop who’s busted her more times than she can count. Sarah doesn’t know why she agreed to this. Childs saving her from her shithead ex doesn’t make up for what a pain in the ass she’s been, even if Sarah’s pretty sure that this time, Vic would have killed her. If Sarah thought her life had any value, well, she sure as hell would have made some different choices.
And yet, here she is, driving across the country with a cop, on some quest to find and pick up the pieces of their lives, to fix what they broke, to say the things they should have said years ago, Sarah to her brother, Beth to her mother. At least that’s the excuse, the story they can tell later when people ask them if they’d lost their minds. It’s more noble, isn’t it? Running toward something rather than away from it.
The car’s engine stops, waking Sarah in the passenger seat. They’ve pulled into a rest area.
“Hey, sunshine,” Beth smirks. “Just gonna grab a few things. Need anything?”
“Mm,” Sarah grumbles, shaking her head.
Beth reaches into the back seat for her purse and fishes out her wallet. She grabs the door handle, then pauses. She falls back into her seat and pulls out a couple of bills before throwing her wallet onto the dash.
“There’s a couple hundred in there,” she says. “Keys in the ignition.”
Sarah eyes her warily.
“I won’t report it,” Beth continues. “I won’t come after you. But if you’re gonna do it, just do it now, before… before it gets complicated.”
Sarah’s instinct is to yell, to ask her where the hell she gets off. Then she sees Beth’s face. The one constant in all their conversations is that Beth has always looked Sarah in the eye, yet now she can’t manage it, instead staring off at some point outside the front window, a vulnerability Sarah’s never seen before. It’s enough of a shock that Sarah can’t get the words out before Beth is out the door. As soon as she’s out of sight, Sarah grabs the wallet and pockets forty bucks, throwing up a couple fingers in Beth’s general direction.
The door opens again a few minutes later.
“You’re a bloody mess, you know that?” Sarah says.
Beth grins, falling into her seat and tossing a bag into the back.
“That makes two of us, bitch,” she says and starts the car.