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19 February 2011 @ 12:22 pm
FIC: disintegration [1/4]  
DISINTEGRATION

When one's character begins to fall under
suspicion and disfavor, how swift, then,
is the work of disintegration and destruction
.”
- Mark Twain



Author: Eskimo Jo
Pairing(s):
Naomi/Emily, appearances by other Gen1/2.

Rating:
T

Warning: Substance addiction/use, language, sexual situations.
Fanmix:
one and two.
Summary:
Maybe in order to break a habit, you have to shatter everything else around you too. Post-4x08, Naomi-centric.

Notes: This took a really long time to get out. Writer's block and a general dissatisfaction are bitches. I'm still not pleased with it entirely, but hopefully someone will find something to like. To me, it's a means to an end, tbh cos there is a sequel which I find much more interesting. This is kind of just an attempt to deal with some of the issues that were avoided, unsatisfactory or left hanging after S4, in my opinion (I was very unhappy with S4's finale, to put it lightly, lol.) And if you get the Peep Show references, I love you.
Thank You:
Most of all to my wonderful beta, holeybubushka, who bravely took this on and tried to set me straight; especially as I dismembered and tortured her OTP. Thank you so much, bb! :) xx Also to anyone who encouraged me to finish, cos honestly without that, I would have probably just left this to wither and die. x
Disclaimer:
The names of all characters contained here-in are the property of Skins, Company Pictures, & Channel4. No infringements of these copyrights are intended, and are used here without permission.

Samuel Johnson quote, by the way.

   


DOWNLOAD PDF: normal format || book format

Just a side note: There are probably some formatting issues with the web version cos I hate formatting html from documents. PDF probably has quite a few mistakes too.

 

 

 

The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.

 

At least that's what her mum said when she had attempted to quit smoking for the fourth, unsuccessful, time. Naomi reckons she could have at least said it a little less dramatically. Like 'old habits die hard'. It was just as apt, but lacked that ridiculous flourish and flair that her mum had always possessed. She had said with conviction, as if a quote from some dead poet could justify her being caught sneaking a fag from her own daughter's pockets. The concept hadn't really concerned Naomi herself at the time. After all, her mum was often randomly quoting supposedly inspirational things that she overheard in that organic juice bar she was always banging on about. Mostly in some sort of attempt to seem like an in-touch mother-figure. (Course that would have been more easily accomplished by actually sticking around instead of running off to London with that awkward, chubby wanker she had a thing (as she put it) with once.)

 

But now, Naomi stirs from a disappointingly fitful sleep, glances over at the redhead snoring softly beside her, quietly slips from the bedroom and realises that occasionally her mum (or more likely, the source of her mum's wisdom: that gay guy who winked too much when handing over her smoothies) is right. It's unconscious almost. Like tying shoes or riding a bicycle. Bad habits penetrate absolutely everything about her existence now and she isn't sure exactly how, or if, she can break them.

 

It's not with pride that she immediately pulls out a half-empty bottle of vodka from the fridge instead of eggs and cheese. Honestly, it isn't even until the glass is sitting there, fully prepared with orange juice that she realises what she's done. Again.

 

But it's not like she's an alcoholic or anything. Everyone has their way to cope with things and under the constant barrage of Emily's silent rage over the last year, she had needed numbing. A coping mechanism. Cook has mindless sex and violence. Effy has drugs. JJ, drugs of a different kind. Emily had … Mandy so Naomi figures she's allowed something too. What difference does it really make where it comes from? She knows however that there's only so far she can bend that truth until it breaks. Carrying on as she had done for the past year may just snap it.

 

It should be easy to push the glass aside, dump it down the sink but there's a tug she vaguely recognises and it overpowers sensibility. Instead, she opts to pull out a mostly-eaten loaf of bread from the cupboard to accompany her liquid breakfast. She promises herself that she'll make a proper breakfast as soon as Emily wakes, just like old times. After all, that had been a habit too. Making and eating breakfasts together in companionable silence, peppered with sneaky grins and fresh memories of the night previous.

 

Surely that will just... return. It has to.

 

Of course, it would be helpful if they had anything to grin about this morning. Freddie's party for the absentee boy had been moderately eventful. In some ways it was fairly regular. The gang of them getting pissed up, Cook disappearing, and she not waking up with a clue how she got into bed. Brilliantly done, Naomi. She remembers bits and pieces, like the rather affectionate show in Freddie's garden when she and Emily hadn't actually realised they were on display like a pair of endangered species in a zoo. She remembers the vodka, and the wine, and the shots. And Emily's hand in hers as they stumbled back to hers. (She remembers too that even despite the pretty bandage applied to the relationship, she had stuck for a moment on the realisation she still considered the house hers alone.) Then she vaguely sees a park maybe. Swing sets.

 

She glances down at her knees, and sees an angry red blotch across one knee. There appears to be bits of gravel still stuck in the newly scabbed wound. Disgusting. She can't remember how or when that happened. She's pretty sure she passed out first when they finally made it into bed. Doesn't really matter what happened cos she can't remember it anyway. And considering she's still dressed in her pants from last night and an old t-shirt, she guesses not a lot. The state of her bedroom this morning would suggest otherwise however. Emily's clothes, every piece she seemed to own, were strewn absolutely everywhere; on top of the wardrobe, over chairs, hanging off lamps and radiators. She has a fuzzy recollection of tossing it all around, laughing with Emily, and claiming it was time to unpack for good.

 

Another brilliant idea. It had seemed so clever at the time, she's sure. But in the harsh light of a new day, it had looked more like a bomb exploded and it seemed far too similar to the state her house had been in prior to her rather random epiphany not 24 hours ago. Ugly. Dishevelled. Falling apart.

 

 

She gulps down a mouthful of her drink, and fails to wince at what she knows should be burning. The smell fails to trigger the normal hangover response. It only strengthens her desire to crush down the headache she knows is waiting in the fuzzy, dark corners of her brain.

 

Suddenly, a pipe clanks loudly above her head and she recognises it as the hot water for the shower turning on and a wave of disappointment floods through her body. She sips again. It was supposed to change after last night, wasn't it? Emily was meant to come downstairs, take Naomi's hand (and maybe a slice of cold toast to eat on the way) and drag them back up the stairs to shower. That's how it had been when her mum was out of town during the summer, and still when college started before the incident on the fucking rooftop carpark and all Emily's incessant nosing about. It was what they did. It had been their morning habit. But no, this was altogether too familiar in the wrong way.

 

Naomi considers boiling some eggs, or actually putting the toast in. Maybe cracking open a can of baked beans. Instead, she sits and waits for the tell-tale 3 clangs of the pipes signalling the end of the shower above. The waiting, the anticipation is doing her head in, and she drinks again. It's easier now. But she's not sure what it is that is easier. The drinking or the waiting.

 

Eventually, and just as Naomi almost finishes her drink, Emily appears in the doorway, dressed casually in a t-shirt and a pair of Naomi's track bottoms. They're about a good foot too long and pile up around her tiny feet. Naomi wants to think it's adorable and a very good sign but the insecure look on Emily's face steals that potential happiness away. It's like the previous night had been nothing but a fucking tease of a dream. They merely stare at each other for a beat, each trying to decipher what the next move is supposed to be. It's heavy and awkward but Naomi breaks first, something else that had also become habit. She stands slowly and plucks the loaf off the countertop, pulling out two slices of whole wheat bread and popping them in the toaster. Emily relaxes visibly and falls into the empty seat at their sorry excuse for a kitchen table. As Naomi turns, she sees Emily's hand reach out for the near- empty glass. It looks just like orange juice of course. She opens her mouth to halt everything but the warning sticks under her tongue. It's too late anyway as Emily pulls the liquid in and her face immediately scrunches up at the strong taste. She swallows quickly, but her eyes almost immediately find the blue ones of the girl across the room from her. There's something incredibly sad there, Naomi thinks. And something accusatory around the edges. Like so many months before, all Naomi can feel is overwhelming guilt.

 

She lets out an uncomfortable laugh to ease the tension. “Didn't realise there was anything in my juice, and, why waste it, yeah?” It's so pathetic that Naomi can't believe the excuse actually made it past her sensibility barrier. That must have crumbled sometime in the last months as well.

 

Emily doesn't say a word. She just stares for a moment with that resigned kind of sorrow, the regret that is so familiar. She places the glass back down on the table far too carefully and slides out of her place at the table. But as Naomi thinks she going to walk away, instead she moves toward the toaster, shrugging her shoulders.

 

You really need to get a new toaster. This takes bloody ages.” She fiddles with the cord and waits.

 

Naomi's glad for the break in the tension. Then she realises that this is what they've become: ignoring problems, passing them over, dodging around tense situations in order to remain themselves, together. She can suddenly taste the sour liquor on her tongue.

 

As they both wait impatiently for the toast to spring up, Emily won't look her in the eye anymore.

 

 

 

 

 

Emily's mobile has been beeping almost incessantly for the last hour and the younger girl is doing her best to ignore it. She and Naomi are a jumble of limbs and lips on the living room sofa, and have been for what seems like hours. Naomi can remember times when they'd do this for actual hours at a time, in her bed or the park, hidden behind that large shrub. It had felt different then. At least, not like it does now. It's kissing, and sucking and groping like it should be but something makes her think they're just stuck in first gear. It's frustrating that this isn't even working. She knows Emily feels it too cos her hands are a little too rough and the groans that occasionally surface are not what she's accustomed to.

 

They're bored, sometimes impatient. As if this is a chore rather than a reconnection.

 

Naomi wonders if it's because Emily's now used to Mandy instead. Maybe that's why it's awkward and they're fumbling around like they don't know each other. In the absence of the alcohol and adrenaline of the night before, it all feels flat, not to mention the headache that is pulsing in her temple as the bitter hangover is finally seeping in. Her heart isn't racing in the way she knows it should, in the way it used to beat furiously at even the simplest touch from Emily.

 

Fuck. They were better at this when they had been at each other's throats. It happened, more than once over the course of the year though even then, it had usually been fuelled heavily by pills or liquor or anger.

 

The mobile rings again. Naomi heaves herself up and away from the twin, wiping her mouth quickly with her shirt sleeve.

 

Just answer it, please,” she groans, rubbing fingers over her forehead, trying to massage away the threatening migraine. Emily stares for a moment, sighs in defeat and swings her legs to the floor and snatches the phone.

 

Naomi doesn't think there's much point in listening to the conversation but can't help it. Maybe this is just the intermission they need and then everything will be thrown magically back on track. She can hope.

 

Emily doesn't sound pleased with the person on the other end, only offering them dismissive grunts and impassive 'Yeah's... Until she finally snaps.

 

Katie, for Christ sake! Why would I even care about that? If she's so concerned she can go hunt for him herself.”

 

Naomi's interest is piqued and she shifts closer to Emily, toying with the hem of her white t-shirt in anattempt to cover up her curiousity.

 

There's another groan. “Fine.” The redhead turns to her. “Has Cook called you since last night?”

 

Naomi's brow furrows in confusion, unsure what all this is about. “No. Why?”

 

Emily turns back and waves Naomi's question off as she continues. “No, she hasn't, okay?” There's a pause. “Then you go find him. Katie, honestly.” She's getting exasperated and Naomi's pretty sure that they won't be making out again after this. “No, I'm not. You're just being too nosy. It's Cook. He's fucked off for months before, remember? I don't have time for this, seriously.”

 

It's obvious now what they're discussing. She wants to pull Emily closer and give her a calming shoulder rub but they're still not back in that kind of comfort zone. Instead she walks over to the cabinet and pulls out a nearly empty bottle of scotch. She fucking hates scotch but pours a glass anyway before making her way to the kitchen to add ice. While she's there, she drains the remainder of the chilled vodka into her throat.

 

She holds out the scotch to Emily who has now made herself more comfortable on the couch, and is non-committally acknowledging Katie, obviously gearing up for a longer conversation than she had initially intended. Emily sips it as she listens and makes a face at the taste. Naomi sits at the other end of the sofa, and flicks on the television, careful not to have it too loud. Now this is familiar.

 

 

 

An hour later Emily is still on the phone. They had continued to argue for a bit about Cook apparently, then it had turned to completely banal things that Naomi had no interest in. Now it's something about her, she thinks. Emily's talking quieter and more cryptically. She considers leaving the room but the whole thing is bloody ridiculous. Who cares? She only half-paying attention until Emily speaks louder.

 

Well, Effy can go fuck herself then.”

 

It seems more harsh than necessary and Naomi wants to know what sparked such a response.

 

Yeah, as if she can talk.” A pause. “I don't care. It works for me. It works for us.” Who the “us” is isn't clear, and Naomi prods Emily's thigh repeatedly with her toe, trying to gain her attention. Without evena glance, Emily grabs the offending foot and grasps it tightly in her fist before shifting the phone to her shoulder and using her free hand to tickle the arch of Naomi's foot, a large smirk on her face and humming agreements into her mobile.

 

Bloody hell. This is it, this is what they had been trying to get back to and magically they'd managed, not with devout attention, but with Emily distracted by Katie sodding Fitch, of all people. A wide grin spreads across Naomi's face, and it has nothing to do with the twitching of Emily's fingers against her feet. (She's not very ticklish, to be honest.) This gentle, playful side of them was missing, and had been for so fucking long that it seemed almost completely new. Naomi scrambles out of reach and twists over on the sofa cushions quickly, resulting in tumbling off it onto the carpet near Emily's feet. The redhead gazes down at her girlfriend, biting her lip in an attempt not to laugh at the predicament.

 

I have to go, Katie,” she says quickly, sputtering a little as she holds in her amusement. “No, later. Bye.” With three quick words the phonecall is forgotten.

 

Emily pounces.

 

 

 

 

 

When Gina comes home two days later, things are supposed to get better, back on track, back to how they were before she left Naomi to fuck up so magnificently in her absence. But nothing really does change. Naomi's waiting on the sofa in the living room, a glass of milk in one hand and a book in the other. Emily's out somewhere after Naomi had told her that her mum was meant to be coming home within the hour. She planted the excuse of not wanting to interrupt mother-daughter time but there was obviously another reason. Likely many reasons, all of which revolved around her mother's marvellous way of seeing right through the both of them. She hears her mum before she sees her, all the way up the path. She's huffing and chatting to someone, dragging what sounds like a dying buffalo behind her.

 

When the door unlatches, Gina calls out straight away. Naomi rises slowly, partly because she doesn't want to appear too eager, and partly because she's already scared what her mother will see in her. Gina pushes the largest suitcase known to modern man (and certainty bigger than the one she had left with) ahead of her, grunting with the effort until she spots Naomi peering at her curiously.

 

Oh, sweetheart,” she chimes, and opens her arms for a hug. Naomi steps almost hesitantly into the embrace and fights back unexpected tears as she feels the grip around her shoulders and the scent of her mum's perfume. “I've missed you so much.” The words are said into Naomi's thankfully clean hair and the young girl loosens her hug, if only not to seem too needy of her mummy.

 

Missed you too, mum,” Naomi mumbles, trying to sound uncomfortable. She fails.

 

The older woman backs up, holding her daughter by the shoulders and giving her a hard once-over. The creases in her forehead thicken and her smile falters. “Are you ill? You look tired.”

 

I'm fine, mum.” In truth, she's a bit offended by the suggestion.

Good. I'm glad. We have so much to catch up on. Is Emily here?” Gina smiles as she looks over Naomi's shoulders, past her into the room.

 

For a brief moment, the question sparks fear deep inside her. Like it's too soon to talk about Emily, too jarring. She squashes it down, reminding herself that humans don't actually read minds and her mother is, for all intents and purposes, a human being. “She's out.”

 

Gina shrugs nonchalantly. “Well, no bother then. Just you and me.” She busies herself with something in her brand new and oversized hemp purse until she pulls out a wad of notes and hands Naomi 20 quid. The younger Campbell is confused until Gina continues.

 

For dinner.”

 

Naomi stutters briefly.

 

Oh, I'm so sorry but I've got to dash. I'm meeting Dom at the juice bar. You know how it is,” she mocks, making a weird face. “Everyone wants details, details.”

 

I want details!” Naomi snaps. She doesn't really. There's only about 5% of her that gives a flying toss about her mother's antics during the last year, but it's supposed to be their time. Not her mum and Dom and the rest of the juice bar's patchouli-scented wankers' time. It's always the same routine with her mum. Running around with hippies and lie-abouts, useless sorts and never really paying attention where it's needed.

 

Naomi really wants to ask what's so hard about just being a family for once. Just for a few days. She

thinks back to the time when she had a real family, with a mum and dad and Jessie, the hyperactive border collie that peed on everything in sight. Then she remembers how it felt to lose all that. Maybe

that's why her mother doesn't want to act like they're a family anymore, why she pushes everything aside. It hurts too much when it falls apart, which, in all honesty, it's bound to do sooner or later. Everything does.

 

Gina hugs her daughter into her again for a few moments. “Of course you do, darling, but I'll be home a bit later. Plenty of time, yeah?” Naomi eyes her mum carrying an overnight bag as well. It's an odd choice of luggage for meeting up for coffee and an organic fucking smoothie.

 

What's a bit later?” she asks sharply, frustrated.

 

Gina shrugs again, and grins. “A few days. But don't worry, I'm not far.” The cow actually winks at her. That's it. It's just bloody ridiculous now. She's been home a total of 5 minutes and is just taking off again. “Mum!”

 

Hmm?” She's too occupied shuffling things around in the front hall, likely to find some god-awful trinket for one of her weirdo friends. She doesn't even look up.

 

Naomi sighs. “Nothing.” She really just wants to scream and pout and stomp her feet. She wants to beg for her mum to stay home and listen to her problems, fix them, if possible. But if not that, at least make a cup of tea in just that special way she does and kiss her on the forehead like she's a child again. “See you later,” she says instead. Defeated. She can't admit it, especially not to her mother.

 

Gina smiles again, victorious in her search for what Naomi correctly predicted would be some tacky souvenir. She meets her daughter's eyes, “Great. Settled then. See you in a few, love.”

 

Without a second glance, her mother is down the path and on her way. Naomi's suddenly glad that Emily's out for the afternoon. She almost makes it to close the front door before frustrated tears overflow onto her cheeks. Slamming the door with far more force than necessary, she wipes her sleeves roughly against her eyes and curses under her breath. God, she fucking misses her mum. The sodding bitch. Honestly, she's not sure if she can keep this all up on her own.

 

 

 

 

 

It's been five days since the shed party when it all goes to pot again.

 

Naomi's not sure how exactly, or even remotely why but she finds that it's not really too surprising anymore. All she knows is that they appear to be arguing about alcohol. Perhaps. It's probably about something else, something all sub-textual and ambiguous in Emily's words but any deeper meaning is completely lost on her. She blames the fuzzy feeling in her brain and the way her head is spinning even though she's sat on the sofa. It's softening the blow of her girlfriend's sharp tone however. That's always been the point, right?

 

Numbing.

 

Reaching out to the table, her fingers extend around the glass. Without warning there's a flash of red and the glass is knocked sideways, spills out onto the carpet and rolls underneath the table. Emily is stood there, grimacing. Naomi grasps at air dumbly for a second before peering at the spreading wet patch near her feet.

 

Shit. It's going to stain. She rises to grab a towel from the kitchen but a firm hand on her shoulder pushes her back into the cushions. Emily is still standing above her, staring down on her critically. She feels insignificant. Like an insect that Emily is about to squish under her toe any moment. There's a bit of bile that rises in the back of her throat and this time there's nothing to wash the taste away.

 

The frustrated redhead is speaking. The words are coming at her, but not registering. All she can see is the anger, the resentment, a kind of hopeless pleading.

 

Emily, please!” Her voice booms out without her own permission and it stalls the tirade immediately.

 

She softens. “Please, just stop. For a second.” It's worth a shot, she reckons, even if it doesn't last. The sudden silence is nice, blanketing over her, the truth somewhere outside of her little cocoon now. Emily seems similarly thankful for the respite. She lowers herself next to her girlfriend, and sighs. It's a long, sad sound. With the dip of the sofa, Naomi finds herself gravitating towards the smaller girl, just like always. They just keep crashing into each other. The blonde steadies herself by placing a hand on Emily's thigh, trying to push herself up slightly.

 

She swears to God that her hearts skips at the contact. Buggering hell. And then Emily's hand is in hers giving her a light squeeze, and suddenly more than anything else, she feels like crying. Honestly, just bawling and it fucking pisses her off cos she has no idea why. It's like some part of her knows that something is irreversibly damaged, can't be fixed, and it's all so frustrating and futile. But she can't stop prodding. She wonders if the irreparable thing is her. What used to anchor her is slowly ripping her apart now.

 

Tears burn at the edges of her eyes and she stifles a small sob by swallowing hard. She wills the saltwater to recede before she embarrasses herself even further. She's weak, a pathetic mess continually. Despite her resistance, even from the beginning, Emily still holds that power over her.

 

This isn't fucking right. This is supposed to be finished with. She's supposed to have stopped feeling full of shame and sadness and bitterness, and Emily, she's supposed to have forgiven and let go. She'd said she had, hadn't she? Nothing feels like it has changed though. She's pretty fucking certain no one likes the feeling of absolute futility.

 

I need you to stop.” Emily's voice is hoarse and strained when she finally speaks.

 

The realisation that she has no clue what Emily is referring to incites her stomach to spasm with nerves. She feels ill and can swear she's breaking out in a cold sweat, her head pounding now. Maybe that's just Emily breaking down more barriers. She knows she can't ask what she's supposed to stop doing, and there are far too many options. Fucking up just comes naturally these days.

 

Naomi opts to shake her head in silence but doesn't quite commit to the effort. Emily must sense this somehow.

 

Please, Naoms.” There is a tremble in her voice that spreads all the way to the fingers loosely gripping onto Naomi and the blonde shudders in an unconscious response.

 

She can't quite understand still. “I can't – I don't know how. Why does it even matter?” She's feeling some sort of misplaced anger. It very clear that she shouldn't be irritated, pissed off even with the conversation. Emily's only trying to do what's best. Right? Emily's clever, she gets things done, pushes them until they're perfect.

 

Or they crack and break.

 

That's just her way, her own habit. So, if she can have one, why can't Naomi?

 

Why does it matter?” The other girl's voice is totally incredulous, like she has literally heard the maddest thing in the entire universe. It makes Naomi feel fucking stupid, and somewhat humiliated. As if it's such a bloody ridiculous question that even a monkey could figure it out. Again, she's lost, swirling in a tidal pool of Emily's unspoken grudges and reasoning. “For fucks sake, Naoms. I don't believe you.”

 

It's crumbling around her. She swears she can hear the crushing cascade of the coming avalanche. It's thundering down around her. “Figures,” she mumbles, half-hoping that whatever chaos is in her head is equally loud inside her girlfriend's. Maybe if she doesn't speak up, it won't be heard.

 

What's that supposed to mean?” Nope. Emily had heard the accusation loud and clear.

 

It's enough. She's had it. “What the hell so you think it means, Ems?!” God, it feels good to yell. It silences the noise inside her. Deafening one sound with another. “You never believe me! You never have.” She narrows her eyes. “Especially now.”

 

A huff, a scoff. Emily actually rolls her eyes now. “Oh cos you've given me so much reason to trust you, yeah?”

 

I'm trying!” Her cry is strangled, desperate but laced with venom. “Why can't you just let me try? Why can't you just accept it? You go on all the time about fucking chances and forgiveness and me breaking my bad habits and you just – you don't even see yours. Why can't you stop this time?”

 

You hurt me!” Emily finally screams, as some sort of explanation. Or maybe just an excuse. Naomi's not sure which and for a moment she contemplates how to respond to something like that.

 

So?” It's probably not the smartest thing to ask, and it's totally obvious that Emily is completely at a loss how to reply. She opens her mouth, eyes wide, but closes it promptly again. Her eyes glaze over in utter misunderstanding. After a moment, some glimmer of her well-practised righteousness seems to peek out under it all, rage boiling internally. And then it comes: the pure hatred on her face, the belief that Naomi is merely being a stubborn, flippant cunt again. How wrong. Emily sputters slightly but can't seem to form any further words.

 

Naomi has been ready for this for too long and she's not about to let Emily's indignation and honestly terrifying demeanour back her into a corner yet again. She thinks about her mum, and what her mum would do cos that's the only role model she's ever had. Somehow making Emily a cup of tea and crying doesn't seem like the right move. After all, that's all Naomi had been doing for the past year. She suddenly sees her mum's brown eyes and how they glinted dangerously when she talked about Naomi's knobhead father. Naomi wants to look like that.

 

Dangerous. Formidable.

 

Like Emily does now.

 

It isn't the first time she's wanted to be like Emily, but she hopes it's the last.

 

She just wishes she doesn't have to be the person who has to say her next words, but she knows she is.

 

So what?” she asks again, her voice gaining strength. “You think you're the only fucking person in the world who's ever been hurt? Like it gives you some supreme right to go around fucking everything else up and making my life fucking hell?” She knows Emily won't look at her now. “Hell, Emily. It's fucking torture to stay with you. But I'm the one being brave. You're the coward. It doesn't take courage to make everyone around you feel like shit.” She knows she's on extremely thin ice now but there is nowhere to move except forward, sprint towards the solid shore. Emily sets her jaw, but it doesn't retract from the wobble there beforehand, or the glistening of unshed tears building in the corner of her eyes.

 

Holding her ground, Emily merely scowls at Naomi, refusing to react, refusing to argue. Refusing to fight.

 

Naomi's confidence has come and gone, evaporated under the silent, steady reprimand of Emily's stare. It's almost as if she could feel it slip away, passing between them, swirling, until finally drifting into nothing. If it wasn't so disappointing, Naomi may have thought it was kind of relaxing.

 

You have no idea what it was like,” Emily finally states, surprisingly cold and calm despite the weird glimmer in her eyes.

 

The comment is absolutely ludicrous. Like, completely mad. It's frustrating that Emily still doesn't seem to understand it at all; that being hurt doesn't make you special and doesn't give you a free pass to fuck everyone else around. And the fucking bit that would be laughable if not for it being so bloody ignorant, is that Emily has no fucking clue about her hurt. Naomi wonders really if she and Emily knew each other at all, even at their best. She wants to argue. She wants to remind Emily that not everyone had perfect middle-class childhoods like the Fitches, that her dad abandoned her when she was young, but old enough for it to cripple her completely for years. She wants to scream it in Emily's face about what pain really feels like, about the friends they know who have dealt with worse and yet still manage to either move on or forgive and how Emily is the stubborn, cowardly cow this time.

 

Instead, she glares. “Right.” Her eyes seem to roll by themselves. “It's all about you, Ems.” She curses herself for the waver in her voice, letting her weakness creep through despite the strength of her convictions. She hates this. Loathes it really. It may feel good momentarily to wound someone else but seeing Emily like this is never a pleasant reward.

 

Emily squares her shoulders and sucks in a sort of courage Naomi's never had. She scoffs in response and shakes her head in patronizing disapproval. There's no point reasoning with her now, and likely hasn't been one since her rational (yet strangely still Utopian) world crumbled back on that carpark and things no longer made sense anymore. The redhead turns and walks out of the room without another word.

 

They're right back where they were a year ago. Naomi looks down at the forgotten bottle beside the sofa. She swirls the vodka around briefly, considering something. It takes no time for the clear liquid to disappear. The burn doesn't slide down her throat; it seeps from her eyes. And Naomi doesn't remember it hurting this much before.


PART 2







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