Notes: Season 5's Emily/Alison game is so strong, but all I see is Hanna Marin and the unrequited Hanna/Emily – so basically someone needs to save me from myself. Anyway, this is the first thing I've written in months, and it's partly because of the song Looking Too Closely by Fink which everyone should go listen to because I guarantee it will make you feel things, but mostly because I can't bring myself to write anything Teen Wolf without having a mental breakdown.
Warnings: Season 5 spoilers, second–person POV, and mentions of alcohol, depression, and eating disorders. Also, the ending/some other parts won't make sense if you've watched 5x10, but had things gone differently, this is what I would have wanted to happen instead because I'm Angst Central over here.
put your arms around somebody else
and don't punish yourself, punish yourself
the truth is like blood underneath your fingernails
you don't wanna hurt yourself, hurt yourself
by looking too closely
looking too closely ––fink
You used to be cursed with saying too many words, but now you believe you don't say enough. There was a time when you drank for fun with your friends and those friends believed you when you told them the truth without you pleading them to and you thought it was fine to blurt out whatever came to mind because you trusted them.
"Remember when I told you that I was straight?" you'd begun to tell Emily once after a few extra gulps from Aria's flask of vodka once Aria and Spencer fell asleep – so lame, you thought that night, so utterly lame of them to dare to go to sleep before 3 AM at a sleepover when you had Spencer's entire house to yourselves.
"No, not particularly," Emily had giggled, and although she had been noticeably less tipsy than you, you were both past the stage of trying to keep the noise down in fear of waking up Aria and Spencer.
"Well, good," you said clumsily, "Because I didn't. I've never made such a huge statement, you know? And I've been reading my horoscope more lately, thinking about how the stars move and shit, and it's confusing. Not the stars, I mean, but life and stuff."
Emily nodded and patted your arm reassuringly. You felt it too much for such a small gesture. "I get it."
"Of course," she smiled like you were the only girl in the world, "You don't have to know exactly who you are. It's not always like that."
"That's cool, because I don't know who I am, even a little bit," you frowned a bit, unsure of whether any of what you'd said made sense. It probably didn't, but you had been oddly okay with that in those moments. You decided to make the leap – or rather, your mouth decided to before you could properly contemplate it. "So it wouldn't be weird if I liked guys and girls, too?"
There was a shuffling and something warm against your hand in response – Emily's hand, intertwined with yours casually as she spoke. "I don't think so."
A long but comfortable pause ensued in which you fiddled with the TV remote with your free hand and attempted to gather yourself. And then, tentatively, without making eye contact, "Hey, Emily?"
"Is Ali really dead?"
You heard a deep sigh and sensed the withdrawal of her hand from yours and all of a sudden wished you hadn't even asked.
"I guess so."
And that had been the end of that before you switched to something meaningless on the TV and Emily inevitably fell asleep. Looking back, it had likely been your best opportunity to kiss the girl and admit your feelings precisely like The Moment in cliche rom–com flicks, but you'd brought up your deceased mutual friend instead. There's a clear reason your life isn't a motivational movie.
Alison comes back like a storm that wasn't even briefly mentioned on the weekly weather forecast, leaving more death and destruction in her wake as a result of pure unpreparedness. You realize too late that she likes all of the looks she gets – the skeptical, the suspicious, the sympathetic. Positive or negative, any sort of attention in her direction is attention nonetheless. It doesn't matter if she's the hero or villain – she is the star on the ground of Rosewood and beyond without a doubt.
A supposedly disappears and then reappears. Emily's vision of a perfect senior year with A gone and Alison present is miles off by your estimation, because as minutes and hours and days tick by and blur into one big lie, you start to imagine that you would rather revert to when the only enemy there was to battle was somebody unknown and the demons you had to fight off were ones your friends understood.
Fourteen year old you would have ate your sorrows away only to throw up and repeat because that was all you had in your control when everything else was spiraling. Seventeen year old you simply takes another shot and lets the liquor flow freely through your bloodstream, not because that is your perception of what lion–hearted rebel girls do, but because it numbs you. You can practically hear the way Alison would chide you if she knew exactly how drunk you've been lately – I think you're the one looking for attention, Han – and then Spencer's words to you a year after Alison ran from God knows who infiltrate your brain, an inconvenient reminder of all the occasions she's been right but you wanted so desperately for her to be wrong.
She's gone but she's everywhere.
The summer sunshine never hit you right. It was too revealing for a girl your size who had resigned her life to keeping a careful distance from the action by fading into the background. Summer evenings were pointless, anyway, if there were too many clouds for you to be able to see the stars twinkling so high out of your reach. You used to hate summer, yet not nearly as much as you hated yourself. Everything seemed unsolvable – the sundress you'd worked so hard towards both physically and mentally fit perfectly fine but it still didn't look the way it should have because your arms were too flabby and there wasn't enough space between your thighs.
"Hanna, you've lost so much weight!" Mona would exclaim like it was a good and natural thing, Mona who was always there for you and then suddenly wasn't because she had never been on your side at all, Mona who tore you apart like a rag–doll and put you back together again, Mona who now pretends like she's any better than Alison. But you know better. Her boosting your self–esteem and building you up just to fall was a single level of a larger game that you refuse to play. You wonder if she even knows the sacrifices it took to lose those unwanted pounds and shed out of Hefty Hanna's skin.
Aria and Spencer and Emily had almost identical surprised expressions set for you when you strolled past them in the hallways at school post–makeover – almost identical, but not quite, as there were unequal parts confusion and disbelief and heightened concern spread between them. These days your gaze travels from them to the ground whenever they get too stifling and you would laugh, if you could, the words you would have said in an instant when you were Old Hanna – Outspoken Hanna, It Girl Hanna, Stupid Hanna – stuck in your throat like the start of a terrible inclination to cut your losses and stay quiet.
Remember what it was like? We would have gladly followed Alison over a cliff. And what do we have to show for it now that she actually wants to throw us over one?
The woods at the edge of town are not a place you should go on your own considering all that's transpired there, but sometimes you just need to be alone. And if you're not safe anywhere, then you might as well be unsafe in peace, away from the people and politics and police that make your world spin like you're about to be sick – and that's not just the effects of alcohol talking. Granted, you've been going to sleep with a massive headache and waking up in the same state each morning like it's the new norm, but that's not why you're here. As you inhale and exhale slowly, the fresh air filtering through your lungs that's supposed to make you feel better in fact doing the opposite, you decide to lie down on the ground because well, why not? All that's at stake are your clothes and hair, which are purposely grungy to begin with.
You let yourself stare at the strangely starless darkening sky for several moments before you close your eyes and shut everything out. As pretentious and poetic as it sounds, you have to recognize that you do this sometimes – pretend like you don't exist. Here, where there's nothing but you and the trees and crickets, somewhere, if you had it in you to be that observant. Aria is the one who practices creative expression, Spencer is the one overwhelmed with wanderlust, and Emily is the one who adores the outdoors. You can't help but feel that you don't belong here, nor do these thoughts belong to you. What keeps you from getting up and going back to civilization right then is the knowing tone of your friends ringing in your head, a couple eye rolls and crossed arms to match the sentiment: Hanna wasn't willingly lying out in the woods with her phone switched off. Don't be silly. Hanna belongs in a shopping mall.
You sense Caleb's presence from the crunching of leaves beneath his shoes as he presumably sits down next to you, and you allow him to linger for a heartbeat too many prior to opening your eyes. You knew he would find you, just like you knew it was him from the distinct way he cleared his throat as he approached. Not bothering to move just yet, you utter a slightly forced, "Hey," and watch him carefully for a reaction. You can see the familiar worry lines forming on his face.
"What do you think you're doing?"
You prop yourself up on your elbows and shrug a little. "I needed to get away for a while."
He looks like he swallows some anger and then replies. "You could have asked me to come with you, or you could have come to the cabin. Hanna, this isn't right –"
"Caleb, calm down," you retort, regardless of how reasonably steady he already is, "There's nothing to freak out about. I'm fine. I was going to be fine even if you didn't come looking for me."
"The least you could have done was keep your phone on," his voice rises now, searching your eyes for a better answer than he's gotten so far, "Is this about Alison?"
You shake your head, pulling yourself to fully sit up as you brush specks of dirt off your legs. "Not everything is about Alison."
"Come on, then. It's supposed to rain tonight," he changes the subject effortlessly and outstretches his hand for you to take, fixing you with a stubborn look. "Let's get out of here."
You can hear the unsaid We'll talk about this more later at the tail end of his sentence, and you can't deny that your personal list of things left unsaid is growing larger the longer you keep your mouth closed around everyone you care about.
I wish you wouldn't love me the way you do.
You show up at Emily's without planning to, a lot less often now that Alison seems to do the same. You have no idea of how welcome you are there anymore, so you make sure you're entirely sober and at least somewhat put together.
She opens the door and doesn't look that shocked to see you.
"Hi," you try weakly when she doesn't immediately greet you.
"Hi," she says back, but her eyes are narrowed in that way which suggests she doesn't have time for bullshit. You can't even blame her for it, especially because you admire her for it. "I heard that you and Aria made up."
"We did," you reply, tone implying an invitation to make up with her as well.
She doesn't buy it that easily. "Does this mean you're going to apologize for how you've been treating Alison?"
"Shouldn't Alison apologize for how she's been treating us?" And there it is, a momentary spark of what you used to be, prompted by the stinging realization that you're still standing on the doorstep outside your best friend's house for no reason you can name except for the obvious, that you're unwelcome inside.
She chokes out a bitter laugh. "I can't believe you."
"No, I can't believe you! A couple months ago you would have been worried about me," you continue hotly, unable to stop yourself, "And now, just because you have whatever it is you have going on with Alison, that's all you care about. Can't you see what's happening to us?"
"What do you mean, what I have going on with Alison?" Emily demands defensively, "What did she say to you?"
"I knew it." You sound resigned. It's too early for that.
"Knew what, exactly?"
You can tell that she's bracing herself, and part of you wants to give her a chance to prove you wrong, but most of you doesn't. "I don't know details, okay? But I know there's something going on with you two. I'm not that big of an idiot, so I'd appreciate it if you'd stop talking down to me like I am."
"So what if there's something going on?" she throws back without hesitation, "That doesn't give you the right to act like this."
Your eyes flutter closed for a split second, picturing the night sky on the back of your eyelids as you choose to screw up your courage. Maybe behind the clouds there are some stars aligning in your favor. "Hey, Emily?" you say, lighter and less accusing, unaware of how you're echoing the beginning of a conversation from too many years and tragedies and surprises ago.
"Yeah?" she asks, apparently taken aback by the change in your tone.
"I love you."
"Hanna, you're drunk."
"What the hell?" you bite your bottom lip, voice turning into the plea you dreaded you'd have to resort to, "No, I'm not!"
"Then you're too hungover to think clearly," she runs a hand through her hair anxiously, sparing a quick glance over her shoulder before returning her gaze to you, "I think you should go home and get some rest."
You look for a sign from her that would give you an incentive to stay and fight this out – something, anything, just not nothing – a sign that would show how she's being insincere, that she doesn't truly believe that your proclamation is fake and is tossing you aside for the time being like a piece of trash. It turns out that there is no sign, because she stands stoically in front of you, expression blanker than it should be, like you don't know each other at all. You try to slow down your breathing like you do in the woods, inhaling and exhaling and focusing on the movements of air in your body, but it somehow seems like you'll never be able to breathe again. It feels like a premature death. You would actually prefer to disappear on the spot. Maybe this is a taste of why Alison did.
As you turn around to leave, you still glance back at her because old habits die hard. Emily shifts her weight from foot to foot, opens her mouth like she's about to disagree with herself and then closes it, and you lose the little hope you had left.
You process Alison's, "Who's at the door, Em?" as Emily slams the door shut like you're in someone else's body, watching a scene you were never meant to see.
Your stare goes from their silhouettes fading further away on the other side of the curtains to the stars burning bright up above you, and recall something you might have read once, even though it's much more probable that you made it up.
You can look at the stars all you want – just know that the stars do not look back at us.
A/N: If you've made it this far, I'd really appreciate reviews! Thanks so much for reading!