notes: "I'M NOT SCARED" comes from Skins series 4 — I own nothing.
Non-linear timeline and set after the end of series 4.
I'M NOT SCARED
it's not a cry that you hear at night
it's not somebody who's seen the light
it's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah.
hallelujah, leonard cohen
You have always been the girl with a taste for destruction and he, he has always been the boy with eyes that burn just a little too much.
He will always be the boy you shouldn't love and the boy you want to hate. Yet, there is something about the way he leaves a smouldering path of devastation wherever he steps that you cannot tear your eyes away from and it will always be him that sets you aflame and blazes with you.
Together, you are bound to the stake, screaming, I'M NOT SCARED.
But you are, you are.
His kisses are cigarette burns up your ribcage and your bones ache with him and this longing you can't bear to feel. His fingertips are ghouls that steal away your dreams and replace them with fragmented nightmares that leave you screaming in the dark.
I'M NOT SCARED. I'M NOT SCARED.
His breaths are numbered, stained with nicotine and alcohol and the secrets he shouts when he's alone. His eyes scream those secrets that he tries and tries and tries to cover up with yells of I'M COOK and YOU FUCKERS.
The truth is, Cook is fucking terrified and you know it.
Alcohol bleaches your brain so much that you forget who you are some nights — and some nights, you don't mind.
For a few hours, you are not Effy Stonem who will always be overshadowed by the achievements of her brother. You are not that girl who was playing those two boys. You are not that mad girl with the crazy eyes and the defiled newspaper cuttings on her wall.
It's relieving not to be yourself.
When Cook laughs with wild eyes and bared teeth, it reminds you that you are not the only crazy one in this town.
"I'm not scared," you whisper into his ear late at night, when you're huddled on one side of the bed and he is sprawled out on the other. Sleeping alone is out of the question because when you are alone, that is when the monsters come. "I'm not scared."
You hear Cook laugh from what seems like miles away but is less than an arm's breadth.
"Whatever you say, Eff," he replies. You imagine him staring at you from behind your closed eyelids, that half grin on his face and the dim light throwing his eyes into shadow. "Whatever you say."
His kisses are like knives into your heart and blurred images of Freddie's face in your mind when you think of him and his sweet love. But Freddie, for all his charm and charisma, will never be dangerous Cook who knows how to manipulate and control you like you're a puppet.
And Freddie — well, Freddie is dead.
"Babe, you're fucking crazy, you know that?" He drinks and laughs and laughs and drinks and you just stare at him with so much hate coursing through you. He may be Cook but he will never have any right to talk to you like he knows you.
"It fucking creeps me out when you look at me like that," he tells you, spinning the empty bottle in his hand. He laughs with that edge of insanity in his voice again.
You lunge forward and wrench the bottle from his hands. With all your might, you hurl it across the room and it hits the empty wall and shatters, the pieces of it falling to the ground. You're breathing heavily and your hands are clammy as you turn to look at him.
"The hell was that?" he asks, like you just threw it at his head rather than the wall.
"What the fuck do you know?" you scream at him furiously. "Fuck off!" You stagger to your feet and stumble across the room, feet catching on shards of green glass. You don't care.
The door slams behind you.
You sit in the corner of your room, legs pulled to your chest and eyes impossibly wide. If you shut them, they will get you. Don't dare blink, Effy Stonem.
But it is impossible not to. Your eyes flicker shut then back open in less than a millisecond and they are there. Their faces are more terrible than you could ever imagine. Claws and razor sharp teeth and glinting black eyes, fearsome grins and twisted tongues, and they lunge for you, and you scream and scream and scream as your skin is ripped open and there is blood but it is not red, and you scream and scream and scream and—
I'M NOT SCARED.
You might be crying.
I'M NOT FUCKING SCARED.
How you have fallen.
I'M NOT FUCKING, FUCKING—
But you have forgotten what the next word is.
Your skin is intact in the morning.
The blood was never there.
"You look like death, sweetie," says your mum absent-mindedly as she makes you breakfast. "Are you sleeping okay?"
She sets down a bowl in front of you with a forced smile.
You just stare at the cereal and try not to notice the way she's arranged the brightly coloured loops into a big, ear splitting grin.
"Effy?" she asks again, back turned.
"Fine, Mum," you say before shoving the bowl away and slipping out the room.
"I love you, babe," Cook says, but he doesn't mean it. Not really.
"I love you, too," you tell him, and you wish you could mean it.
Cook's eyes are like nothing on this earth. They are terrified and madmadmad and filled with monsters and secrets and dark pasts. Some days, you can't even look at him without wanting to scream and cry because you think that one day he'll turn on you too.
"You're scared," you tell him matter-of-factly. His mouth opens in a weak denial but your hands come up and shove him backwards. "Don't even fucking deny it, Cook."
"I'm not scared," he says, resolute.
"You are, you are, you fucking are." You push him again to reinforce your message. "Just stop pretending, Cook. Stop it!"
"Fuck off, Eff," he says carelessly, rolling with it. He opens a bottle with minimal effort and takes a drink. After surveying her for a moment, he spreads his hands wide as if to say, what now? "Just fuck off."
They crawl over the hill in their thousands, stained blood red with eyes like the devil. They have cloven feet and burned black tongues that cannot speak and your heart is beating too fast again. Thumpthumpthump and they're getting closer, step, step, step until they are close, so close, to you and you stumble backwards, yelling and half-sobbing and squeezing your eyes shut as tight as they can go.
Something grabs you by the shoulders and you screech, flinching away from it. "Get away, get away, get away!"
"Effy, what the fuck?"
It's Cook. You force yourself to breathe like the world isn't ending. His hands are still gripping your shoulders tightly. Slowly, you open your eyes and there are no monsters, just Cook's face.
"Let me go," you try to say, and it's only then you realise that your breaths are coming in huge gasps like you've just ran a mile. "Let me go, Cook. LET ME GO!"
"All right, all right." He raises his eyebrows and holds his hands to his head. "What was that, then?"
"I don't know," you whisper. "I don't know."
You write I'M NOT SCARED in red paint all over your wall one day.
Your mother doesn't even ask.
"You're mine, babe," his voice hisses in the night as his hands grip your wrists too tightly. There will be bruises in the morning. You don't care.
"And you're mine," you return, sealing your fate with an angry kiss and digging your nails into the back of his shoulder.
"I'm afraid she's relapsing," some doctor with a clipboard tells your mum.
"No fucking shit," you reply, raising an eyebrow. You are Effy, Queen Bitch and Miss Fuck-It. You are in control. You are probably half way to insane.
Why stop nature running its course?
"How long," you whisper, but there's no one else here but the two of you, "how long before we destroy each other?" His legs are entwined with yours beneath the sheets and yours are pressing down just a little too hard on his to remind him that you are still alive, still breathing.
He laughs at that. You shudder.
"We've already destroyed each other, Eff," he says. "Now, we destroy everything else."
"I love you," you tell him frantically with sweating palms and dilated pupils, and maybe this time you sort of mean it.
"Love you too, babe," he returns, and you hope hope hope he means it too.
Monsters still glimmer in the shadows of his eyes.
You try not to look.
"Just you and me," he says. "Just Cook and Effy all alone for good now. No one else. Just Effy and Cook. The way it's always going to be." His grin is twisted. "You ready for this?"
And in the end, you're Effy and Cook, just that, and that's the way it's always going to be. He is still, still the boy with the burning eyes and you are still the half insane girl with the wild eyes and monsters trapped in her head. And both of you – you will always be set on a course for destruction and devastation but this time the world is going to burn and blaze with you. You will stand, hands clasped in the middle of the flames and just laugh.
Because he, he is Cook, with twisted smiles and sardonic words and he is terrified and you are terrified of everything, yet still you insist—
I'M NOT SCARED.
But you are, you are.
- fin -