When they meet she's the girl sitting by herself at lunch.
Ostracized for being new, no one bold enough to go against the grain and welcome her, she too shy to do it herself. Nose buried in a text book for lack of a better distraction, she eats in silence.
Then, as if the fates somehow read her mind, someone feeling brave eventually sits across from her, and a hand stuck in front of the book to get her attention. Lifting her head, a girl is waiting expectantly for a response.
"You're new aren't you?"
"Hi, I'm Zoe."
They clasp hands.
The friendly smile is hard not to match.
The girl has the bluest eyes she's ever seen.
She's never been invited to sleep over before.
Standing with sleeping bag tucked firmly under her arm, shifting her feet nervously in the foyer of the huge house, she wonders if this is a bad idea as an odd looking robot appears and asks to identify herself.
Zoe appears at the top of the stairs suddenly, leaping to her rescue and sending the machine away. A hug suddenly so tight she can't reciprocate, delight in the mix of welcome and wanted, sensations she's never felt before.
"You came!" Zoe exclaims, grabbing her by the wrist before she has a chance to reply, pulling her down another set of stairs.
She's always wanted a holoband, but mom says she's too young for one, that and they're a waste of money.
Not the case in the Graystone house. Zoe has a whole set up in her basement, even one of those scanner things she's seen in stores.
"You have one of these in your house?" She wonders aloud.
The disbelief must be evident on her face, because Zoe laughs, but not in a mocking way.
"Daddy invented it," she replies with a shrug. "Step into the scanner there. We have to make you an avatar."
Invented it? Lacy thinks hesitating to step inside, wow.
"Come on," Zoe continues, typing away on one of the consoles. "Don't you want to play?"
She steps inside the scanner.
Yes, she does.
Zoe is not like other people.
She does what she wants, says what she wants, without shame or fear of consequences.
Qualities Lacy admires but knows she'll never possess.
It's because of this other students treat her (and those by proxy) like a pariah, never mind the fact that she's the daughter of one of the richest and most famous men on the planet. But the best thing is, Zoe simply doesn't care what they, or anyone else thinks.
It's only when the flak shifts to Lacy that anything is done.
Sitting in the headmistress's office, getting read the riot act because Zoe sucker punched Cassie Lykos for calling Lacy dirty and poor, she smiles softly to herself as Zoe defends her actions. Never once saying sorry, and holding onto her hand the entire time.
In the mall one unremarkable day, making long winded circles around the place out of boredom. In and out of all the shops, browsing but never buying, they dodge the watchful eye of a few security guards.
One in particular takes a liking to them, following closely, eyes locked on Zoe just waiting for her to do something.
When they leave the store, Zoe's hand reaches into her pocket so quickly she doesn't have a chance to ask what she's doing, before the security guard is on them asking Zoe to empty hers.
He doesn't even bat an eye at Lacy, which is kind of insulting but not surprising, and actually looks disappointed when Zoe's hands come up with nothing.
Zoe goes off on him, belting out a stream of words about assumption and proof, so loud more than a few people stop to look at the commotion. She only stops when the guy mumbles a hollow apology and turns tail back to his store, leaving her with a smug look of satisfaction.
When they're a safe distance away, Lacy pulls a porcelain prima ballerina (the kind her grandma collects) out of her pocket. She can't think of any possible reason for Zoe to have taken it. It's not like she couldn't afford anything she wanted in any of the places they looked in.
Holding it up for her to see, she asks "why?"
Zoe just shrugs, grabbing her hand and pulling toward the closest exit.
"Why not?" Is all she offers. "Come on, Lace. You gotta live a little."
Prayer meetings become a regular thing, for reasons seemingly plucked from a hat, at the temple of Aurora. A goddess who Lacy had never given much thought to until setting foot inside.
Mom, who had been mildly religious at most, is no doubt using the gods as some kind of passive aggressive attempt to get her to stop spending so much time with "that Graystone girl."
Lacy suspects envy is the reason that her only friend is barely tolerated in her house. Fear that she will be ashamed of where she comes from, because the people she hangs around have it so much better than they do.
Ironic that Zoe is pretty much the only who never looked down on her, defended her, and has been nothing but a true friend since they met.
Mom usually stops arguing after these points are made.
She wins an award for scoring the highest in the class on her end of year aptitude test.
Something Zoe easily could have done, but for reasons unknown, completely tanked it.
Lacy knows she is smart; she wouldn't even be attending the academy if it weren't for the scholarship, but Zoe is nothing short of brilliant. The things she can do with her dad's equipment, the worlds she creates for their holobands, are simply amazing.
It's odd that she hides it.
You'd think with a computer genius dad and doctor mom, that they'd appreciate their daughter being so gifted. Zoe insists they wouldn't, that they're too busy with their own lives to give a frak about her, and that she doesn't bother showing off because she'll only end up disappointed.
A few weeks are the longest they ever spend apart, during solstice break, when Zoe accompanies her dad on a business trip to Picon. (Making up for broken promises, she says.)
Lacy had been invited, but mom said no, and after a few days of moping around the house she's shipped off to Delphi to visit her grandma. Which really isn't so terrible, Grandma tries to make it fun for her, taking her anywhere she wants to go. That and the endless supply of cookies, makes it a much needed escape from the big city.
Zoe sends messages nearly every day, usually with pictures, (Picon is beautiful, and she tells herself she'll actually go one day), and always ends them with wish you were here.
Lacy signs all her replies with I miss you, but usually ends up deleting the line so not to seem too needy.
One day Zoe's message has an attachment that isn't a picture, and when Lacy clicks on it a Picon newscast starts playing. The story is about a hacker who somehow managed to break government level security codes, causing the lights in several parliament houses to flicker on and off in some sort of choreographed dance. Some witnesses say they even heard music coming out of the intercom in certain places.
The motive unclear, officials insist that it's most likely a simple prank and not an act of aggression but the question still remains. Are the systems safe from further attack?
She puts a hand to her mouth to stifle a giggle, grandma's eyebrow shoots upward in response but doesn't ask, and there isn't a doubt in Lacy's mind that Zoe is responsible for all the chaos. Her friend's nonchalant comment on the story all the evidence she needs.
They take the train to Zoe's beach house in Oasis.
Mr. and Mrs. Graystone are too busy to come along, something Lacy isn't aware of until she and Zoe are already standing at the station waiting to board. Knowing her mother will throw a fit when she finds out, she starts to doubt the trip is such a good idea, and Zoe just sighs.
"Why would you tell her?" she asks before stepping on the train.
Lacy stand there an extra second, questioning the morality of the statement, before shaking her head and following.
The house is smaller than her regular one, but no less extravagant, stocked full of games, assorted beach accessories, and various watercraft. Lacy can't wait to use it all, but Zoe oddly, seems uninterested.
She doesn't even want to go to Poseidon's Realm on the pier, which looks like lots of fun, and Lacy doesn't want to go there by herself so she doesn't.
All Zoe wants to do is lie on the beach all day and flirt with the endless stream of wave riders that walk by. Which is fine, she doesn't care. Not really. It's just…
For some reason Zoe feels the need to dumb herself down like all the other beach Betties running around. Like the only way she's going to get one of the guys is by twirling her hair and saying oh my gods a thousand times. (It's some kind of game, she knows, Zoe just being Zoe. But still painful to have to watch.)
Of course she lands one of them, walking along the pier she didn't even want to go to, while Lacy just trudges behind them too pissed off to have a good time. She hates feeling like a third wheel, eventually getting so frustrated she just leaves and doubts her friend even notices.
Zoe eventually comes home (alone thank gods) smelling like cigarettes and something else. Lacy watches her struggle to take her dress off, teetering from side to side, through half closed eyes because she's still contemplating pretending to be asleep.
She crawls into the bed, pressing herself against Lacy's back (nose cold against her neck), and wraps her arms around her waist.
"Have fun?" Lacy whispers, unable to hold back the clipped tone.
"Don't be like that," she replies sleepily, giving a little squeeze. "He was a jerk anyway, all hands. I ditched him when he went to get more beer."
"Well I don't like being your third wheel okay? If I knew what this trip was going to be I would have just stayed home."
It feels like Zoe nods against her, but she may just being snuggling closer, lips suddenly pressing a kiss against her shoulder.
"Sorry," Zoe says.
"Hey. I love you, you know that."
It's ridiculous, Lacy thinks, how one simply statement eradicates her anger. Just crumples it into a ball tosses it right out the window. How she's instantly grateful again to have such a friend. Smiling against her pillow, entwining their fingers together, she falls asleep to the sensation of Zoe's breath on her skin, and sound of waves crashing against the sand.
The V club is the most insane place she's ever been.
The continuous thump of dance music almost deafening, watching a thousand gyrating bodies all trying to move to the beat, eyes wide at the sight of it all. Every conceivable sin and desire served up on a silver platter, ripe for anyone to come along pluck whatever they wish.
Standing together and taking it all in, she feels fake in the dress Zoe programmed for her, hair and make up a couple steps beyond her normalcy. It's a question of where to start. She's never felt inclined to indulge any dark desires, no matter how slight, that have crossed her mind. And yet the sole purpose of this place appears to be exactly that.
Do what you want, no matter how dark and depraved, no one is going to care.
It's fear that keeps her still. To see what she is capable of, that she might actually enjoy it. Any of it.
Zoe grabs her wrist, starts to pull, and Lacy follows her down.
Even though it never feels quite good, or right, it's remarkably easy to lose themselves to indulgence. Going three or four times a week, trying everything, eventually fearing nothing. Drinking, fighting, and frakking until their eyes burn from the strain. They kill and get killed, offer themselves for sacrifice, pray up to the gods and beg for a purpose bigger than them.
They spin out of control, so lost in the crowd at times it feels like drowning, clinging to each other desperately.
The only lift raft the other has ever known.
She's not jealous when Ben comes into the picture, okay? She's not.
One of them was bound to have a boyfriend sooner or later, and of course it was Zoe to get one first. He's actually a pretty decent guy, never treating her like Zoe's hanger on, getting to know her as well as she got to know him.
Zoe seems genuinely happy for the time in quite awhile, and she's determined not to be that girl who gets all pissed off just because a guy is there. It's just that, for longest time it had only been the two of them, Zoe and Lacy against the world.
Well, she's not used to sharing.
It's only when Zoe starts disappearing does any ill will start to bubble up. She can't count how many times she's gotten last minute apologies in the last couple of weeks, Zoe backing out of set plans, leaving her alone and lonely.
Lacy doesn't like being by herself, she hasn't had to be in so long, and is not entirely sure what to do. It's a scary feeling, realizing she's so dependent on their friendship that she doesn't know how to exist on her own.
In the library studying before class starts.
Zoe comes up to her table with Ben in tow, her first appearance in a couple days, right after another broken promise of meeting her in the club. Bitterness coats her words as she explains how she waited, for two hours, before finally giving up. Keeping to herself how it would be the last time.
Her explanation that she found something (better and real) isn't going to be good enough.
When Zoe says come to a prayer meeting she thinks it a joke. She goes to enough of those already. It's only when her friend insists that it's different, does Lacy begin to realize that she's completely serious.
Ben is standing next to her, watching with a calm confidence, and it's then she sees how bright the conviction shines in Zoe's eyes.
As if she's been awakened after a lifetime of sleepwalking.
She's tried deities and felt nothing. She's tried hedonism and felt nothing.
The only reason she's even open to the idea is because Zoe asked her to be, because she's happy not to be left out anymore.
She thinks everyone in the meeting is a little crazy at first, the level of their belief teetering between overzealous and fanatical. Oh they're polite and welcoming, always looking for new members, just as any religion does. But the idea that a single entity has complete power over all?
It's a little much.
The way their gods contradicts every single one she's known before. The way their mentality is completely singular in focus: one true god, one true path to walk, one true light shining down on them all.
It's only over time (Zoe keeps asking her to go, and she keeps going just because she's asked), do the ideas begin to seep in, that some of the emptiness starts to fill and belief starts to grow.
When Zoe creates this thing, this avatar with a brain, she says it's for a bigger purpose. One she never bothers to share (though Lacy is pretty sure Ben knows) and it's just another part of continually growing secrets she's not privy to.
Either way she's pretty sure it isn't meant to be used the way Lacy does some times. Slipping into the lighted room when Zoe's off with Ben praying or plotting or whatever, keeping it company.
It's very easy to forget it isn't real. How meticulous the detail she operates by. Moving just like Zoe, body language and physical quirks. Speaking just like Zoe, same accent, phrases, and exclamations.
Zoe interrupts such a visit one night, smiling genuinely at the sight of Lacy conversing with it, as if this all part of her bigger plans.
"Magnificent, isn't she?" Zoe asks, propping herself on the large chair next to it, pushing a stray hair gently away from its face.
Lacy notices the avatar smile shyly at the attention, the sight itself so bizarre she can't help but look away. Zoe's statement isn't based in ego, (even though none of the most brilliant people in all the colonies could do what she's done) but there is a larger sense of accomplishment in her expressions she never shows in front of Ben. Pride a sin and all.
When she looks back, Zoe is still caring for it like a newborn pup, and it's then that Lacy starts to realize she didn't make it as some shining beacon to honor God. She didn't do it to change the world. (Not completely.)
Zoe is different, Zoe is special, she's always known this.
Just like she knows Zoe created this life, simply because she could.
The people of Caprica are lost.
Zoe's been saying this for months, each time growing with more and more fervor, the hate and dissatisfaction of her home planet festering insider her, the deeper she gets involved with the soldiers.
She's not happy here. Even going so far as to say she was never happy here. A blatant lie but Lacy doesn't call her on it. No one is going to listen to them, no one wants to be shown the way and it's slowly chipping away at the resolve. Her to need to be active, the constant strive to push buttons, and voice her opinion. She's stagnant.
Ben makes an off handed comment about a big movement happening on Gemenon, and next thing she knows, a plan is being formed.
Lacy balks at the idea, never thinking their newfound purpose would result in exile, and when she expresses these doubts Zoe dismisses them as nerves. It'll be better, she promises. They'll make a difference, they will be with people who believe, and they can form a true family.
The conviction is enough to get Lacy to agree, but somewhere in the back of her mind is the slow growing trepidation that, for the first time in her life, where Zoe goes she can't follow.
For days after Zoe dies it feels like she forgets how to breathe.
Despair welling up inside in overpowering waves, she walks through the halls as if she's dead too. People around her, offering condolences and heartfelt concern, but she never looks up, never feels a thing.
Letting go is painstakingly difficult when you've been attached so long. Every moment of every day connected to someone in a way you couldn't explain, only to have it ripped away. She isn't quite sure how to function.
It's only when Sister Clarice asks Lacy into her office, does any kind of emotion begin to emerge, gears starting to turn when the headmistress offers her comfort and wisdom. She's angry, remorseful, and feels she should have been on that train with Zoe. She should be dead. Feelings the Sister assures her are misguided, that the gods are not yet ready for her.
No, no, it should have been her instead.
And when the Sister offers the suggestion that she use whatever's left of Zoe's specialty for some way to reconnect, Lacy does remember that yes, there is an option.
The scream escapes before she can hold it back, blood coating it head to toe, the sight so horrific it turns her stomach in knots.
It's painful to look at it, her, Zoe.
So perfect calling her a copy is almost an insult. She felt what Zoe did, felt her burn, felt her go. But she's still here, a mirror of Lacy's own loss and confusion. Going through the motions of existence, walking through it like a ghost, they don't know what to do, how to be, without Zoe Graystone in their life.
Standing face to face with this likeness, this creation, it reflects all her fears, has the same questions Lacy has been asking herself since she stepped back from the train. Most importantly the one she never wanted an answer for.
What am I without her?