I wake with a start, trapped, hot, sticky. I grab the hand wrapped around my middle by the thumb, ready to twist and break, and pause at the soft, smooth skin. I twine my fingers through hers, and turn, her breath still smells like mint. She whimpers a little, snuggles closer, dark bags still under her eyes. She is as pretty as Brian, a different pretty, but still. Her tummy is soft, her arms slender, her hands have no calluses, her feet pointed from wearing shoes that are too narrow for her, but the scattered freckles across her nose are cute, and the way she looks at me . . . Her t-shirt has ridden up in the night, exposing that soft tummy, and the bottom edge of her bra, a hint of the waistband of her underwear peeking out the top of her low-rider jeans, her bare feet tucked under the blanket with mine. I brush her hair behind her ear with my free hand, and she squirms, her nose crinkling a little, still asleep.

I watch her sleep for a while, waiting for the alarm, thinking mostly of other things. Dinah. Coil. The Chosen. The fucking PRT.

Amy shifts, the corners of her lips turned up even as she sleeps. I caught the world's most powerful healer, a bio-tinker who can do such amazing things. A little cracked, but serviceable, to paraphrase the poem, maybe the poem meant unserviceable by not fit for company? Now all I have to do is keep her. I brush my thumb over the soft skin of her hands, unroughened by her work, long and slender. She fixed her dad, so she's still working on brains, does she have any rules she follows now, does she want me to impose limits, or is she like me now, always drifting further into the dark?

Coil needs to die, there's no other way to save Dinah . . . unless Amy can take him out? Put him to sleep and disconnect his powers? We'd have to contain him first, hold him down for her . . .

"Taylor, what are you thinking about?" Amy's eyes are open, and I smile at the warm, happy look on her face.

"Do you prefer Amy or Amelia?" I ask her instead of answering. It'd be easier to kill him, and even that would be hard, I finish the thought.

Her smile gets bigger, a glimmer of perfectly white teeth, and she laughs, "I'm sure I'll answer to Amy better, but Amelia's nice, I could get used to it."

I brush my free thumb over the corner of her smile, "Or maybe Claire? Perhaps after Claire Danes?" I wonder, "My friends," I tense, spread out into my swarm a little more, "Loved "My So Called Life."" This isn't even a lie, I realize with a smile, "You're prettier, though."

I'm rewarded with a blush, "Claire would put me a little further from Panacea," she says.

"You walked here without a mask?"

She waves towards her shoes, "A pink bandanna I stole from Vicky, like the rest of this outfit."

"So you've decided to be a Villain?"

"No, but I already am, so I can't really fight it."

I nod, "It's really hard to be a Hero when the Protectorate have decided you're a Villain."

"Or my mom," her happy face melts like cheese as she dissolves into tears, and I cuddle her to my breasts.

After a few minutes she continues, "Before I left she said I was never her daughter, that she never wanted me, that I was a burden from the day she took me, that she always knew I'd turn out bad."

"It sounds like she worked hard for that end," I say, then nuzzle my face into her hair.

"Why would she do that?"

"Because she's an idiot."

Amy's snort of laughter makes me smile into her hair, "And she failed. You've made some bad choices, but you fixed what you could, and I'll help you as much as you need."

Amy pulls back, "What if I need more than you can give?"

"I'll find a way."

Amy looks doubtful.

"Leviathan. The Nine. It might be very hard, but I can find a way, with a little help from my fr- team," I break off the song title and substitute truth.

Her lips twist a little, and she leans down, pressing her lips to mine. A moment later, while I'm still a little breathless, she says, "Even if we don't work out as a couple, I shall always be your friend."

My breath catches, and the tears start, I want to believe her so much. It is hard, but I pull back into myself, let the tears flow, the fear, the betrayal, all of the pain associated with that word, let it show on my face, let Amy see it.

She pulls me close, cuddles me against her chest, murmuring comforting words I can't really understand. Dull accomplishment mixes with the pain, almost stops the tears early, I force it back, wallow in the pain, Emma, dad, the fucking city, Leviathan, Grue's second trigger, Cherish in the bay, coming home to Sierra with a gun aimed at her hand, members of my own gang threatening her and Charlotte, Mannequin killing my people, Coil using me to kidnap Dinah, Jack and Bonesaw getting away. Eventually I calm, despite myself, unable to maintain the self pity and frustrated rage, and my tears trickle to a stop, "Sorry," I manage, wiping at my face.

"It's fine, I cried all over you yesterday, and this morning."

Amy's still pretty, her face not puffy and blotchy the way I'm sure mine is, and I relish the twinge in my guts, let myself cup her face in my hand, and she leans up to meet me.


A/N: Taylor's sure she's an ugly, manipulative bitch. The truth is such a dishonest thing to share.