In honor of the one-year anniversary of the conclusion of the series, I went looking through my old LBD WIPs and found this story, fully finished, that I just somehow never posted! So enjoy!
Post-Ep 82, canon compliant
Someone told her once that there are five stages of grief.
For a long time, Gigi can't remember who told her this, and that makes her inclined not to trust it, because what if it was him, one more lie in a long string of lies, planted in her mind as truth —
But this is something she can check. This is something someone else can verify, and she knows that, but there's still that lingering panic, even now, even so many months later.
Sometimes, she thinks, she hates him for that more than anything else.
There are five stages of grief, she's been told, and she guesses she moved through them all a long time ago, but reaching acceptance doesn't mean she's magically healed. She wishes it were that easy, really, she does, but it's getting closer and closer to nine, and she's sitting in her office, staring at her phone, waiting for the alert tweet from Lizzie's account letting her know the video is up, and her hands are shaking so badly she has to sit on them to keep them still.
Because what if he's out there watching? What if he's still keeping tabs on Lizzie somehow, still watching the videos he knows she makes? What if he sees this? She's seen George in a rage before; it scared her then, and it terrifies her now. There's a reason she hasn't told anyone the full story, because what if he found out? What might he do?
Soon it's not just her hands, but her whole body shaking, and she's furious with herself, that he still has this hold over her, that he can still reduce her to this, and there are tears in her eyes, and when someone knocks on the doorframe, it startles her so much that she fails to hold them back.
In an instant, William is at her side, and his embrace takes some of the shaking away. Some, but not all.
"You can call Lizzie and she won't post it," he says in a low voice, and Gigi doesn't ask how he knows about the video.
"No, I want her to," Gigi says in a voice that shakes almost as much as the rest of her. Maybe if she says it with enough conviction, she'll silence the voice that's been telling her the same thing since she woke this morning. "I needed to tell it, William."
Gigi was numb. Her heartbeat was the only thing she could hear, loud and echoing in her ears. Any moment, she would wake up from this awful nightmare, her brother would still be in LA, George would still be here in the bed beside her, and under no circumstances would her brother have just paid the love of her life to walk out of it.
William's voice brought her out of it, his voice saying her name. She had to do something – she had to stop this!
"No," she said, harsh and angry, cutting William off and shoving past him, her thoughts on George, only on George. She had to catch him.
She ran out of the condo without stopping for shoes, the pavement of the driveway scorching and abrasive beneath her feet, but she hardly noticed. "George!" she shouted wildly, panicked, as his car started to back out of the driveway.
She all but flew to the vehicle, caring nothing for her feet, nothing for her own well being, she just had to stop him, she had to!
He backed into the street. "George!" she screamed again, anguished, and she knew he saw her. Their eyes met — but he didn't stop. He saw her pain, her devastation, and kept on driving, down the hill, and out of her life.
She watched him drive away, taking most of her heart with him, and the chasm inside her chest was so massive, it was all she could do to avoid falling into it. One tiny spark was what kept her on the edge. One truth, undeniable. George was gone. And it was exactly one person's fault.
"I'm proud of you," William says, with such genuine sincerity that it wins a smile from Gigi, even in the midst of her turmoil. But the smile is a sad one, a tight one, and it's gone almost immediately.
"I just told a story," she mumbles. "That's all. I told a story to a camera, and look at me! I'm a mess, William, and there's no reason for it." She was frustrated, with herself and the situation and the fact that it was eight months later and she still reacted like this.
"Gigi, anyone who had been through what you have would react this way," William says, but that doesn't ring quite true. Her counselor said once that, that everyone reacts differently to trauma. To grief. To abuse, though she hadn't used that word until Gigi herself had. Because that's what it had been. George had abused her, and manipulated her, and skewed her perception of the world until she couldn't tell which way was up. At the time she'd thought it was just the thrill of being in love, and anyone who said differently just didn't understand.
"I hate you!" she shouted as she stormed back into the condo, heading straight for William, shoving him back with all her might. "I hate you! What gives you the right—" She was so angry she couldn't finish the sentence, full to the brim with blinding rage. "He loves me!" she shrieked then, her voice full of desperation and anguish.
"That wasn't love," William said in response, his voice deep with disgust, but it only enraged Gigi further.
"And how would you know?" she demanded. "You, the infamous stone statue, who can't even get a girl to look twice at him! You have been jealous of George your entire life, and now, you've destroyed my happiness for your petty revenge—"
"My petty revenge!" William repeated, outraged. "Oh, he has you firmly in his twisted grasp, doesn't he, Gigi, if you can look at the facts shown to you today and think that I was the one out for revenge—"
"Don't you dare," she hissed, advancing on him again. "Don't you dare say a single word against him! He cares about me! He has been there for me, and where the hell have you been? You want to know how long this has been going on? Months, William! Months, and you never once noticed. Not once. You've been so wrapped up in your precious company, too invested in numbers and stock options to notice what's right in front of your face where your own family is concerned!"
His jaw tightened at that, and he flinched, and it gave Gigi a dark satisfaction to know that some of her words had pierced that thick hide, wounded him in some way. She became overwhelmed with the need to do it again, and again, and again, until he felt the same pain that she did. So she looked him straight in the eye and spat out the harshest words she could.
"I hope you fall in love someday," she said, deadly serious, each word a barb designed to pierce and wound and pain, "and I hope she breaks your heart into a thousand pieces. I hope she humiliates you and destroys your happiness, but more than anything else, more than all of that, I wish you'd been in that car with Mom and Dad. I wish you were dead, just like them. Because then it would have been just me and George, and he would have been a part of this family like Dad wanted. But I guess we just have to add that to the list of promises you've broken and ways that you have failed."
It was a low blow. She knew that; she'd meant it to be. She'd aimed low, and she knew from the way he froze that her words had hit the mark. She shoved past him, up to her room, and slammed the door. She expected to feel better, but she didn't. She just felt empty and broken. She threw herself on her bed and sobbed until she had no tears left to cry.
She shakes her head back and forth several times, and she knows William doesn't understand what she means, and she's not sure she can put it into words for him. She doesn't even know if she can put it into words for herself.
"I just hate that I'm still affected this way," she whispers. "It was all over and done with months ago. I made the decision to snap out of I, I told myself it wasn't going to be like for me anymore."
"That's not how emotions work, Gigi," he says, and she closes her eyes against the sound of his voice, his special way of saying her name. "They can't be turned on and off like a switch. Believe me. If they could . . ." His voice trails off, but she can fill in the blanks easily enough. She opens her eyes and turns to look at him.
"William, she's going to come around," Gigi says with authority, because if he's allowed to comfort her, she's allowed to return the favor. William makes a face that anyone but Gigi and maybe Fitz wouldn't be able to read.
"I wish I had your confidence in that," he confesses, and Gigi manages to smile.
"Don't worry," she says. "Fitz and I have enough confidence to make up for any lack on your end."
William gives her a look. "Yes," he says sardonically, "I've been meaning to have a word with you and Fitz concerning your . . . escapades."
Gigi grins and starts to say that she has no idea what William is talking about, but then her phone goes off, and with the incoming text, the smile slides off her face.
It's up. But if at any point you change your mind, I will take it down. And please remind your brother that he promised not to kill me.
"Do you want to watch it?" William asks, low, in her ear. It takes her a moment, but she takes a deep if shuddery breath and nods.
So William closes the door, and together they watch Gigi tell her story.
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