she is his queen, but he is no king. he's just a kid with a daddy complex and too much blood on his hands. (ao3)
his hands are covered in blood. nathan can feel her cold skin under his fingertips. she was beautiful. captivating really. that was why he, jefferson, had loved her. he had said as much when he took pictures of her. pulling her shirt over her head and tossing it to the floor. everything was covered with dust, but not his subject. she was clean. nathan had watched, for awhile. his fingers inched to touch. he just wanted to take good pictures. he just wanted jefferson to smile and run his fingers through his hair and say, "good, good." as if he was good enough to be one of his subjects too.
now rachel is just another dead girl. not so pretty anymore, but still somehow making him want to pick up his camera. her eyes are like glass. they watch them. he wants to cut them out. to close them at the very least, but they won't shut. he sits with her. it's the best company he's had in awhile. crying and burying his head in his hands, thinkingthinkingthinking how the fuck he's going to get out of this one. you've really fucked up now nathan.
he can hear his dad, how he's a failure, he's stupid. it's like a drill in his head.
he wants to call her. tell her everything, but he doesn't want her to be involved. no, she's already involved. he doesn't want her to be disappointed in him like everyone else. victoria never did like rachel, she was jealous of her -- more precisely, jefferson's affinity of her. she had said to him more than once, in the confines of her dorm room when they were both high, that she wanted rachel gone, but she'd never go as far as sticking the needle into her vein. victoria was mean, but she wasn't fucked up.
i just wanted her to smile.
she looked so sad and scared
i didn't mean to kill her.
he presses delete.
everything is cold.
the touch of the shovel, the dirt that runs through his fingers, her skin as he says, "sorry." it's not going to make it okay.
victoria is afraid of nothing. not like him.
she may seem it, afraid, when nathan finds her shaking in her bedroom. at 3am she is a child and they fit together like they did when they would scale trees, never worrying about the scars they left on their knees. their hands were covered in scrapes and blood, but then she smiled at him and made him forget about the pain. they seemed so tall, so untouchable, up in those branches. he never wanted to come down.
but bearing down on him now, she is unmasked as predator and he's tonight's source of play. she would do beautiful things to him in the darkroom.
victoria toys with his things. she knows he hates when she does that. everything has its place. his drugs, his gun, his a&f boxers, his vinyl in their proper place. it's been that way since they were kids. back then she barely touched him. she let him come to her first. he'd bury his face in her hair or slip his fingers between hers. sometimes he'd even kiss her cheek.
"we're married now." he'd say.
"you're so cute." she laughed and kiss his nose.
they were shier then and much less violent.
she's in one of her moods. nathan can always tell. she looks at his work with an artist's eye. this cynical, dead thing. it's like a vulture looking at roadkill. what piece can i eat.
he has a thing for bondage. and she knows. in her eyes, she knows. she knots his wrists, tightly. smiling down at him. her smile, the devil's flames licking at her mouth. if he wasn't tied down he'd lean up and kiss her, be consumed.
on top, riding him with her fingers running through her pixie hair she is beautiful. in the way forest fires are.
she is his queen. she covers him in marks and makes him forget. this is his safe place away from the flashing lights, the plastic, the voices, away from jefferson, his dad, the itching in his brain.
victoria checks her phone throughout class. max almost feels sorry when jefferson scolds her. she's never seen her look so pale and tired, not even her designer concealer can cover up her eye bags. not that long ago max would have taken a picture of her and uploaded it to a social media site, but that max is dead. there is an ever-growing pile of her former selves and they all miss her.
everything sounds like a gunshot. a textbook slapping shut, the school bell, her alarm.
that moment echoes in her head. she's lived it a hundred times. she closes her eyes and sees chloe fall. she sees her body, laying there on the cold bathroom floor. alone. while she is crying into her knees and shaking behind the stall. she wants to go to her, scoop her up and hold her close, tell her she's not alone and that she loves her more than anything, but that's not what happened. chloe dies alone every time.
you are all that matters to me.
driving away she thinks she is home free, but then she sees the wreckage. it's different when the damage isn't just buildings. homes with their roofs torn off and the windows blown out. the streets are awash with garbage and power lines. it's different when it's her friends, when it's chloe's mom.
she rewinds every time.
arcadia bay is still here. the same as ever and she is still the same max. early to class, sticking to the wall, saying nothing.
nothing is any less broken.
max knows victoria isn't there for chloe. she's there because nathan's never going to get a funeral. he'll rot above ground, in a cell for the rest of his life. with one look she knows he's dead to her.
victoria isn't the type to visit her best friend in prison.
max comes to her grave too often. she stops leaving flowers. there's enough death in the world to watch them wither and fade too. max has been alone too long to know when it has been broken. she hears the crack of leaves and another's breathing. max doesn't have to turn around to know it's victoria.
"i'm sorry." victoria says, the words foreign and licorice-tasting on her tongue.
"no you're not." max wants to be angry, furious, but victoria isn't the type to feel fire.
"i'm sorry too."
victoria smiles sadly. her pinched face softening. in the morning light she doesn't look like a monster. she just looks like a girl who lost her home too.
max doesn't know why she does it, maybe it's because she's drunk or because she's wondered how victoria would taste since she saw chloe kiss her, but she kisses victoria. she tastes sweet like strawberry candy. victoria calls her maxine and pets her hair like a plaything.
she straddles her lap and pins her hands to the wall of her room. victoria is a good kisser. max hates herself for that thought. she thinks about how chloe would have fucked victoria --angrily, baked outta her mind-- but she's not chloe. max kisses victoria back just as softly. her ysl liploss sticking to her lips and her fingers trying to twine through hers.
victoria takes pretty pictures because of her fancy equipment. she's all daddy's money with her designer wardrobe and makeup, but she doesn't need it. pixie hair, button nose, a perfect symmetry to her face. she's the girl on magazine covers, but she doesn't know it and max isn't about to boost her ego.
the only natural thing about victoria before her makeup wears off is her eyes. they lick up the curve of max's throat. she leaves white lines in her skin as she grips her thighs. her fingers ripping her stockings to get into her underwear. it hurts because it's her first time and because victoria doesn't know the meaning of gentle. max isn't about to admit she's a virgin, but guessing by her tight her fingers feel and how much she keeps looking into her eyes with a smirk victoria can tell.
"you're such a slut." victoria says when she comes and kisses her.
max wonders if victoria's thinking of nathan like she's thinking of chloe.
she doesn't think she is when she smiles at her lazily, like the sun crawling over a mountain. she stretches, the sheets rolling down to expose her soft naked skin. she's seen her naked before, when she was tearing her clothes off of her and putting her mouth all over her flesh, but this is different somehow. max swallows, maybe this wasn't the best idea.
max rewinds time. she's gotten good at it and it's fun, minus the headaches. maybe she is the master of time like chloe had said. she isn't saving chloe anymore. she's getting straight a's and coming up with comebacks that leave victoria speechless.
she's been in school too long. she's already graduated once, but laying in the warm grass she thinks she could stay here forever.
"maxine," victoria hums, her fingers in her hair. it's longer now and usually pulled back into a ponytail, but today it's down and blowing in the slight breeze.
max stopped correcting her long ago.
this reality isn't perfect and max realizes it's never going to be, but victoria is happy even if she doesn't deserve to be. right now she can still smile without breaking her heart.
chloe, her chloe, too-good-for-this-world chloe is dead. she has to be to keep them all safe. no one else got hurt. no one got tired of seeing rachel amber's face on missing boards. in this reality she's just maxine, and victoria laces her fingers with hers and breathes against her like nothing is ever going to hurt her.