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to bring me love or a dark lullaby

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Kate watches Seth from where she sits at the table cleaning her gun. She watches him sit on the edge of the bed, scratching at his beard, pretending he’s watching tv. It’s not like he can understand any of it. She asked him once if he ever even took basic Spanish in high school and he just looked at her and mumbled “Bit too busy making money to even attend half the time.” Kate had felt bad for a second until she realized he was trying to make her feel bad. 

 

“Yeah, well, you’re not stupid. You just pretend to be. You could learn if you tried.” His silence was satisfying and telling.

 

Kate’s never thought of herself as an angry or spiteful person. She’s always been forgiving, as the Lord teaches you to be, and tries not to carry anger on her back like a cross. She tries, except sometimes she wakes up in the middle of the night and she can’t sleep thinking about how angry she is all the time, how much she wants to take control of her life. Kate felt that way before Mexico, before the Geckos and the Twister. Before she tore through a culebra’s torso with a chainsaw and walked away shaky at how good it had felt to do.

 

Anger’s been boiling inside of her for years, it’s only now spilling over. Usually tipping onto Seth, because he gives as good as she does.

 

Kate remembers the tequila shot, the burn of the liquor in her throat and the way Seth looked at her like he wanted to crawl under her skin. She’d learned more about Seth during his attempt at manipulation than he had learned about her. He’d only walked away knowing she’d French kissed a boy, Kate walked away knowing Seth wasn’t as tough as he pretended to be.

 

He’d never admit now that she knows how to push every single one of his buttons until he’s speechless and narrow eyed.

 

Until he grabs for his stash.

 

That’s when Kate regrets her harsh words. Because even though it’s routine now, seeing Seth shoot up is never an easy thing to watch. She’s done the research, used library computers and the internet at twenty minute intervals to learn about the effects of heroin, short and long term.

 

Kate doesn’t hate Seth. She just doesn’t want to go where he’s going, and he won’t go where she wants. Somehow they’re driving down different roads but latched onto each other.

 

When she thinks about what he’s doing to himself, how he’s slowly killing all of the pain and nearly himself, it makes her chest hurt.

 

Watching him now, getting itchy because it’s that time of night, it makes her feel sick.

 

She wants to fight with him again, because screaming is easier than telling him she actually cares about him. Not that he’d believe it.

 

Kate knows Seth doesn’t believe in anything other than his needle, money, and that his brother is dead.

 

He runs his hand over the addition to his tattoo, black ink covering a literal wound. The rest of the flames covering his arm, Kate thinks, probably exist to cover the wounds you can’t see.

 

It’s not as if he doesn’t care about her, too. He acts indifferent, acts like he couldn’t care less if she left him in the middle of the night. Sometimes she thinks about it. Considers if she could get up and leave him. Kate knows she could make it on her own, but it’s easier with Seth. In a way. In other ways it’s like a three ring circus. But Kate knows in her heart without her he’d wind up dead, and she can’t even think about that.

 

He might try to pretend he doesn’t care but he’s not as good as actor as he thinks he is. There’s always something about the way he touches her in public, protective hand on her back or guiding her at her shoulder. She’s felt his need to protect her since the long road from the Twister. 

 

And as much as they fight about the big things, he usually listens to her almost too easy about other things. He almost seems to enjoy doing things for her.

 

After their first score, he’d grinned over at her from the driver’s side. “Want to go shopping, princess?” She couldn’t help it, she’d giggled. 

 

Sometimes she catches him looking at her, can’t place the way it makes her feel. It’s almost like he’s asking her for something, but never does. It makes her feel powerful, makes her breath quicken at the thoughts it makes her think. Kate wonders sometimes exactly what she could ask of Seth, if he’d do it. If he’d ask her to ask him.

 

Kate watches Seth sigh, watches as his brow dots with sweat and he grips at his knees, hands clenching and unclenching.

 

She thinks about starting a fight, grabbing his drugs and flushing them. She knows he’d just get more.

 

She’s ashamed that she shoots him up herself more often times than not when he can’t seem to find a vein. Kate knows he’d do it anyway, at least he won’t overdose or withdraw. She’s seen him start to before and sometimes she’s weak too. 

 

Too weak to watch him suffer so much.

 

But she needs him, too. Needs him alive and as functioning as he can be.

 

She’ll have a lot to answer to God to, but she can’t think about that right now.

 

Kate decides to try a different tactic. Wonders if she can get Seth to do less and less, his withdrawal won’t be so bad, and maybe he’d stop. 

 

Seth starts to get up and Kate knows where he’s going. She places her gun on the table, clean and reassembled, and gets up. “Hey, wait.”

 

Something about the way he immediately sits back down makes a spark ignite in her belly.

 

“Do you… do you have to?”

 

Seth still closes his eyes like he’s gearing up for a fight. “Kate - “

 

“I mean, is it that bad? Can you just wait a little bit?” Kate walks closer, sees Seth open his eyes and track her movements.

 

“Why?”

 

She reaches over and turns off the tv, taking a breath before she turns towards him and pulls off her flannel shirt, bare arms in her tank. The dark of his eyes flash downwards and Kate has to hold back a small grin.

 

“I thought maybe we could make a deal.” She tosses her shirt past him to land on the bed and stands in front of him, her chest at level with his face. 

 

There’s a thickness in his throat she watches him swallow down, follows his eyes as they wander back up to meet her own. “Never take deals, sis.”

 

Kate smiles. “Sure you want to call me that?”

 

He looks like he’s about to try to say something to distract her again so she reaches up and cards her fingers through the front of his hair.

 

Watches his eyes practically roll as they close, his mouth go slack and his breath come out heavy and hard. 

 

“Kate…”

 

“Do you want the drugs, Seth? Because you could take them, or I could keep touching you.” Kate’s voice lowers to just above a whisper, stroking his head slowly, actions like she’s trying not to spook a horse.

 

Seth struggles to open his eyes and focus. “What?” It comes out choked, like he almost can’t speak.

 

She bites her lip and rests one knee beside him on the bed, watching his eyes flash with first confusion, then panic, then darken when she rests her other knee beside his waist. Kate sits on his lap and grips the back of his neck, watching his chest rise and fall quicker and quicker. 

 

Her hand grips his chin gently and makes him look up at her. “You can have the drugs or you can have me.”

 

His hands are in fists at his sides, shaking, and he just licks his lips and groans. “You don’t, you can’t -“

 

Kate nods, resting her forehead on his. “I do. I want this.” She laughs. “Since when do I do anything I don’t want to do?”

 

Seth presses his head back against hers, breath coming even faster as she runs her palm slow over his shoulder. “Seems as if you like it.”

 

Seth leans his head back a little and nods. Kate smiles. She lets her fingers slip behind his ear, thumb teasing the corner of his mouth and Seth shivers. 

 

“Wow. Look at you.”

 

He looks up at her with dark eyes. “You don’t know what you’re doing.”

 

“No? Wanna call me kiddo and tell me to play with boys my own age? Or do you want me to ask you to take my shirt off for me?” 

 

Seth reaches up, his fingers twitching above the bottom hem of her shirt. “Go ahead.” Kate breathes, encouraging and soft.

 

He grips the bottom of it and pulls it over her head, Kate lifting her arms and shaking out her hair. Seth balls the shirt up in one hand, his face inches from her chest and his eyes raking over her skin.

 

Kate grips the back of his neck with both hands again, his skin flushed and hot, and settles herself down against his lap more comfortably. Lets her lips trace his jaw, his chin, kisses down his throat. She glances down and sees him squeezing the shirt and she smiles. “Drop it.” 

 

He opens his hand quickly, letting it fall to the floor. Kate rakes her hand through the hair at the nape of his neck, tugging a little while she tries out shifting her hips. 

 

“Oh, fuck -“ Seth licks his lips, dark brown eyes locked with Kate’s. She bites her lip, grinds over his lap, can feel the hard length of him hitting her between her legs. 

 

It’s not just about Seth anymore, Kate feels her body flush warm with liquid heat from her toes to her face. She can feel the tingle of the blush in her cheeks on her skin. There’s a heady rush of power that runs through her as she scratches gently at the back of Seth’s neck and moves over him with intent. 

 

Kate breathes out heavy and sighs. “Is this - Seth?” He just nods, fists still at his sides, knuckles white. 

 

He just takes a shaky breath and his voice is a dry croak when he speaks. “Please.”

 

Kate wants to kiss him, she wants to pull off his shirt and bite and lick at his chest. But just this, this dry, adolescent rubbing against him is enough to make her toes curl. Seth is shaking beneath her just from the slow grind her of hips. 

 

“You’re so… Lord, are you always this wound up?” Kate whispers, lips so close to his she could taste them.

 

He looks at her like he wants to tell her something but he can’t. Kate wants to make him but she’s not there yet, not ready to push him that far. 

 

She lets her hands slip down his arms, watching her pale hand contrasting against the tan and black of his tattooed skin. Grabs his hands and puts them on her, moving them over her breasts still in her bra. “Want this, b-baby?” The endearment makes her flush, makes her feel dirty but it makes his eyes snap up to hers, a deep and needy gaze all over his face. 

 

He’s sweating and she doesn’t know if it’s because of her or if he’s starting to withdraw. Either way he doesn’t seem to care, zeros in on her chest and touches her like she’s fragile beneath his palms. Touches her like he’s waiting for her to tell him to stop, like he can’t go further than she’ll allow. 

 

Kate feels like she’s tapped into his center, like she knows how to pull and tug at his strings. It feels wrong, like no one should have that much power over another person but Kate wants it, wants to be selfish and just fucking pull until he unravels. 

 

She moves over him faster, runs her fingers through his hair and grips. His wince and harsh breathing, the desire in his eyes and the shake of his hands over her chest is like a deep hit through her veins.

 

It’s something she could become addicted to.

 

They’re both panting, Kate working herself over him with intent, pressing her forehead to his and moaning. “Like this, Seth. For me.”

 

Seth just stills, fingers flexing over her shoulder blades. His mouth goes slack and his eyes squeeze closed. Kate watches, fascinated, as he shakes apart beneath her. She feels it, wet and hot on her lower stomach and between her legs. 

 

It makes her feel embarrassed, makes her almost sober up to what’s happening. But mostly she can’t believe she made him come with nothing but her words and direction, just the grind of her hips and that string she found to pull.

 

His eyes are lidded, body relaxed and his movements sluggish, almost like after he shoots up. Kate touches his cheek and he shuts his eyes, breathes out a heavy sigh. Kate notices the sweat at his hair line and kisses his temple, gets up and goes to get his stash.

 

She turns and looks at him. His hair is a sticking up in tufts where she’s pulled, his face still flushed and lower lip swollen from biting it. There’s a dark, wet spot on his boxers and Kate almost feels proud looking at him.

 

She crosses the room slowly and Seth looks at the stash in her hands. “Kate, -”

 

“I mean, can’t go cold turkey. But I need you to quit. Eventually.”

 

Seth nods, looks up at her in a way she can’t even decipher, even with him being a codex she knows so well.

 

He watches her while she prepares his poison. Follows the sway of the lighter beneath the spoon with his eyes. Even now Kate wrinkles her nose at the smell. 

 

She smiles sickly to herself. Thinks of the first time Seth was too drunk and too much of a mess to do this himself. Remembers the way her hands shook as he told her what to do with mumbled words. Kate hated him that night, tears in her eyes blurring everything. Seth gave her a wicked grin as the drug slipped from the needle through his body. “Thanks so much, Katie Cakes.”

 

That night she thought about leaving him there. Then he started to cough and choke and she had to prop him up with pillows and blankets. 

 

There were a lot of things she thought she’d learn how to do in her senior year, this definitely wasn’t one of them.

 

Kate is gentle with the way she ties the band around his arm, fingertips warm and tentative over the used veins on his arm. “Just a little bit, okay?” Seth nods, watching her face as she pushes the needle into his arm, thumb pressing the plunger only halfway. 

 

Kate cleans up as Seth watches her from the bed, head swaying. He’s close to passing out but it’s not as quick this time. Kate pulls off her jeans in front of him, doesn’t even look at him as she walks over to her bag in her panties to find her sleep shorts. 

 

Seth lays down, slipping sideways out of habit now. Kate lays behind him and wraps her arm around his waist. Feels the way his chest expands with a deep inhale. 

 

“Why?” 

 

The word hangs between them, the room silent except for the rush of cars passing outside in the road. She’s not sure if he’s asking her about the drugs or what they did but she decides it doesn’t matter, stroking his neck as he drifts off.

 

Either way it’s a question she can’t answer right now.

 

She rubs her thighs together, still wet and throbbing from before but she doesn’t want to do anything about it. Wants to stay swinging in that hazy in-between place.

 

Kate watches him dream for a while before slipping off into a world of her own.