So. Here I am again, and it's time for Part Two of my 'Hospital Stories' Collection. But please, I would prefer it if no more of you fell into life threatening comas so there doesn't have to be a part three. But joking aside, this story is being written for a lovely person called SJ who is in fact a beautiful and extremely talented writer in her own right. Its purpose is to entertain and to delight and to make her hours in a hospital room slightly less boring. If the rest of you enjoy it as well then that's just a bonus, and of course all your positive energies and well wishes are most welcome. They do make a difference. Feel the love…
I don't own Skins, but Katie and Effy own me. Oh yes they do.
1. Prologue – Return Of The Rage
I love my job. Don't get me wrong, it's a dirty, shallow, corrupt, nepotistic, bitchy, cutthroat, dog eat dog, full-on nasty business. In other words fucking perfect for me. I can smarm and charm with the best of them, but no one gets one over on Katie Fucking Fitch. I had worked bloody hard to get here, and I wasn't about to give it up for anyone. I'd worked hard in college, worked hard in uni, worked hard through shitty internships, and worked my way up from my first lowly jobs. And now it was time for pay off. Here I was assisting with the organisation of one of the biggest runway shows in Paris fashion week. Hobnobbing with designers, photographers, magazine people, celebrities and all kinds of fabulous gorgeous things. I loved the buzz of it, the excitement, the pressure. I loved helping people's creative visions become practical reality. My phone and my iPad practically never left my hands, and every minute was a new challenge to be defeated and subjugated to the rule of Katie Fitch.
There was only one downside. The models. I fucking hate models. I'm five foot three. Imagine how I feel surrounded by all these eight foot tall fucking monsters without a hint of a curve between them. I'm not jealous of their looks. I know how much fucking styling it takes to make them look that fabulous. Take all that away and they look pretty much like any other good-looking woman, albeit a freakishly tall and abnormally thin one. What I am jealous of is everyone else's interpretation of their looks, how everyone seems to think they're some kind of goddesses walking the earth, when all they are, are self-obsessed scrawny little fuckers, with the mental age of children.
Even my own sister seems to have fallen under their spell. I would never have guessed it. I invited her here because we needed extra people to help out with the show, and she never makes any money making her shitty little indie politico art films. I thought she would be able to just get on with the job without being sucked in by all the glamour. I mean yes, there are a lot of pretty girls here and Emily is as gay as a window, but she's always ranting on about how the fashion industry is responsible for ordinary women suffering from negative self image and all that kind of crap. I just assumed she would have an even worse opinion of the models than me, and wouldn't give any of them a second thought. But ever since the second she laid eyes on Naomi Diamond it's like she's been under a fucking spell.
I tried to warn her. Naomi Diamond is a peroxide blonde bombshell with captivating blue eyes that is being touted as the next big thing, and everyone is clamouring to work with her. She has that slightly rough edge and bad girl image that has everyone in the fashion world drooling like Pavlov's dogs, and she just loves stirring things up. The fucking funny thing is that Naomi Diamond is a made up name. In a bizarre twist of fate her real fucking name is Naomi Campbell. I nearly pissed myself laughing for about five minutes when I heard that one. It was ok when Ems was just swooning from afar, but then Naomi started looking back, those ridiculous eyes flashing with lust whenever she saw my sister. I told Ems to stay away, that Diamond was only looking for a shag to keep up her edgy bisexual image. But Emily had stopped listening to me years ago, and when she had turned up at the breakfast meeting this morning with a stupid smug grin on her face, I knew they had fucking slept together.
Oh well. Too bad. It was Emily's loss. Or it would be when the stupid slag slept with someone else behind her back. Or in front of her face. Or tumbled out of a nightclub into the willing arms of the paparazzi with some new fuck toy on her arm. Cause that's what they do. Some photographer will come along, or someone with slightly more clout in the business than you and their knickers will be round their ankles faster than their fingers down their throats in the toilet after a meal.
But Emily had been floating round like an angel of love all day, and I supposed I should let her have her little illusion of happiness whilst it lasted. For my part, after many mistakes I had found myself a decent man from a world a thousand miles away from the industry. He worked for a small independent bakery back home in Greenwich in London. He was a down to earth guy who worked with his hands and made beautiful food, and as much as I loved the madness at work, I loved going home to him and leaving the crazies and all their drama behind. He was coming over to Paris for the day of the show, and then we were staying on for a few days for a little romantic break. I couldn't fucking wait.
But before that there was work to be done, and I had a rehearsal to organise.
"Has anybody seen Emily?" I yelled in the general direction of a gaggle of assistants.
"She's out on the terrace," replied one of the guys.
"What the fuck is she doing out on the terrace?" I snapped back, all to willing to shoot the messenger.
The guy didn't answer, but the blush that crept up his face told me he really didn't want to be the one to tell me what my sister was up to on the terrace.
"Oh for fuck's sake," I huffed, storming off.
Our show was being held in a very grand old Paris hotel, and the models' green room had a beautiful terrace that looked out over the street. I had specifically booked it that way so they could have somewhere to smoke their appetite suppressing cigarettes without having to wander off and get lost when I fucking needed them. I opened the doors to the room and marched straight over to the terrace, wrenching the French windows open with venom. Even in the open air it took a second or two to adjust to the cloud of smoke that hung around.
I looked to my right and through the sea of bodies I saw a girl I couldn't recall seeing before. Not that I was that surprised, they all start to look the same after a while. But this girl stood out somehow. She was smoking like all the others, but despite being perched perilously on the railings looking like she could fall at any moment, she exuded an unusual air of calm, like nothing could faze her. She was stunning, dark brown hair falling carelessly around her shoulders, and dark smoky make up accentuating her eyes. But it was when she turned to look at me that I nearly came undone. She had a deep blue penetrating stare that felt like it was dissecting me. Normally a person would glance away if they locked eyes with a stranger, and most models would have that hazy far away look that overtook them as they gazed over your shoulder to see if anyone more important had entered the room. But this girl didn't even blink. She cocked her head to one side and smirked at me. It was uncharacteristically unsettling. I am used to bossing people around. I am used to being in control, but this girl had taken my feet from under me.
She was dressed in a barely there dress with patterned fishnet tights and motorcycle boots. It was a fucking cliché of a look, but somehow on her it worked. In a room full of physically stunning woman obsessively competing to look the best, she looked like she just didn't care, and was all the more striking because of it. There was an intelligence and a curiosity in her eyes that I didn't often see around the girls that worked for us, and I found myself wondering who the fuck she was, and if she was new we should definitely arrange some shoots with her. All of a sudden her gaze flicked onto something behind me, her head cocked in the opposite direction and her grin grew slightly wider. I immediately span around, wanting to know what it was that could capture this mystery girl's attention.
I was greeted with the sight of my sister kissing Naomi Diamond, and prepared to unleash the full force of my wrath on her. She was supposed to be here to work, not to be snogging the clotheshorses. But there was something about the quality of the kiss that made me bite my tongue. Far from the disgusting face-sucking I had been expecting, it seemed unusually and quite beautifully tender, and I was almost loathe to interrupt. In the end I didn't have to as one of the runners came pounding breathlessly onto the terrace.
"There you are, Katie," she said with relief. "Alessandro is downstairs and he's insisting he simply must see you now."
Emily broke away from the kiss at the mention of my name, and at least had the decency to look guilty, but it was Naomi's reaction that surprised me the most.
"I'm sorry," she said. "I know I shouldn't be keeping you sister from her work. Please don't take it out on her. It was all my fault really, I just couldn't seem to let her go."
Emily looked sheepishly back at her. What the fuck? Emily doesn't do sheepish when it comes to girls. I rolled my eyes at her. She really was an idiot if she was going to let herself fall for this girl. Ok, so Diamond might be acting like a normal human being right now, but I knew from experience that it wouldn't fucking last.
"Come on, Ems," I said. "I need you on board with me."
She looked back at Naomi longingly, and the blonde reached out and touched her cheek.
"I'll see you later, yeah?" she said.
I thought Emily's face was going to explode at that, and I grabbed her hand and dragged her away before I had to add cleaning up splattered brain to my already lengthy list of tasks.
"Oh my God, she is so fucking amazing," swooned Emily as I marched her back along the corridor. I shook my head. She was too far gone. She was just going to have to learn it the hard way.
"Whatever," I said, and plastered on my fake smile for getting down to business.
Two days later and I was a caffeine fuelled hyper fashion machine. This was what I lived for – fucking Showtime. Those vital few minutes when bodies in space could determine the outcome of a whole season. Everyone was rushing around making the final preparations as if their lives depended on it, which if I had anything to do with it they would. All apart from my sister of course, who was drifting around like cupid had replaced his bow and arrow with a fucking machine gun and had riddled her body with bullets. Well tough, this was the biggest show of my life, and I didn't have the time to protect my sibling from shallow sexually voracious harpies in need of a pie or two. I was barking orders at two hapless dressers when I noticed someone else whose body language seemed to be in opposition to the frantic pace of the rest of the building. It was her again, the girl from the terrace. She was lounging in some big old leather armchair, legs slung casually over the side looking like she didn't give a fuck that this was the most important day of my life. Fucking models.
"Don't you have somewhere you're supposed to be?" I snarled at her. Normally a Katie Fitch snarl can strike terror into the hearts of even the strongest of men, but this bitch didn't seem perturbed in the slightest. She simply turned those destroyer beam eyes on me and looked slightly less bored. Then without a word she peeled herself slowly from the chair and stood up. Which was when the picture changed. It must be true that your perception of a person can alter your understanding of their physical presence. From her looks and her languidly elegant control of her body I had assumed she was one of the models, but when she stood up I was shocked to see how small she was. She couldn't have been much more than a couple of inches taller than me, and there was no way anyone would put her on a runway no matter how fabulous she looked. So who was she and what the fuck was she doing here? I didn't get the chance to find out, as she gave me a brief ironic smile and sauntered away from me. I could have followed her. I could have used my status, and demanded to know her identity, but somehow I remained rooted to the ground watching her elegant departure. She was infuriatingly graceful, her exit carrying all the qualities of a soft-focussed slo-mo scene from a movie, but happening for real in front of my eyes.
I was snapped from my trance by the voice of Petra, my PA.
"Katie, there's someone important here who needs to see you," she said.
"Who is it now?" I snapped at her as I whirled, but my sting was immediately neutralised when I saw the beaming face of my boyfriend Harry.
"I know you're busy, baby," he said, but I just wanted to see you and wish you luck before it all kicks off."
I rushed up to him and gave him a welcoming kiss. It felt good to feel his strong arms around me and to feel the tickle of his stubble against my cheek.
"Thank you, honey," I told him.
"You look beautiful," he replied.
"Hardly," I said, tucking a loose strand of hair behind my ear. "We're in the middle of fashion week's most glamorous runway show, and I know I look frazzled."
"You're still the most beautiful woman here," he smiled.
I loved the simplicity of him. I loved the way his voice could make me melt. I loved the way he charmed me. I loved the way he didn't know who anyone was. I could introduce him to the most famous and the most fabulous, and he would still greet them with the same open-hearted courtesy he greeted the customers in his shop. I loved his cheeky green eyes and his smile. I loved the way he always looked uncomfortable in a suit, like it's tiny confines were too small to contain his rugged charms. I loved the way he fed me cake.
But now was not the time to drift off into my comfortable alternative universe with Harry, there was work to be done.
"I've got to go, babes," I said apologetically.
"I know," he said softly, kissing my cheek. "I'll see you afterwards, yeah?"
I told Petra to give him an access all areas pass and told him to help himself to hospitality. I allowed myself thirty seconds to daydream about having time to ourselves in Paris, and then it was back to business. I stalked around backstage checking on all the frantic preparations that were taking place. I went front of house and checked on security and made sure the latest version of the guest list was in place. I had a final meeting with the production manager, to make sure all the multimedia elements of the show were in place. We had sound, lighting, live streaming, video and what I was promised was going to be the most amazing display of indoor pyrotechnics for the finale. I'd worked with Marcel on a few shows now and he always got the best people in to create the perfect environments in which to show off the clothes, which was what we were all here for in the end.
I was making my way back through the auditorium, almost ready to give front of house the clearance to start letting the audience in, when I saw the mystery brunette again. She was chatting to a guy in overalls who was doing the final safety checks on the dancing gas jets that we had surrounding the edge of the runway, and she looked like she was talking business. Once again she managed to throw all my expectations off track. I really never had her figured for a techie. All the techie girls had their own look, it was almost like a uniform. You could spot them a mile off, and you would certainly never mistake them for models. I'm not putting them down, they all worked incredibly hard and none of this so-called glamour could function without them, but their lives and their personalities operated in the background rather than the spotlight. This girl looked like she could own a room simply by walking into it.
Once again I stood there until Hannah the stage manager came up and handed me my walkie talkie and head set.
"Ten minutes until we open the house, time to clear the auditorium. Positions everyone," she shouted out to the room. "All yours, Katie. This is gonna be a stormer. Let's go kick some fashion ass."
Mystery girl had turned her head to listen to Hannah's announcement, and caught me blatantly staring. Well fuck her. She was always staring at me, she could have some of her own medicine. Casual as ever, she picked up her laptop and walked towards me without breaking gaze. For some reason I found myself holding my breath.
"So," I said, as much to try to get my lungs functioning again as because I had anything of worth to say to her, but she cut me off.
"Love to stay and chat," she smirked at me. "But I've got somewhere I'm supposed to be."
I watched her slink away again and let out a little laugh. She really didn't give a fuck, and I liked it. Bitch Katie would have had her sacked, and thrown out of the building for her arrogance, but it wasn't often that anyone stood up to me, and to be honest it gave me a bit of a thrill. She seemed like she would make a worthy adversary, and I made a mental note to find her out after the show. She had piqued my interest, but it would have to wait. All other considerations had to be cast aside before the rise of our new god. Ladies and gentlemen, it's Showtime….
There's nothing quite like it. The massive adrenalin rush of seeing all those months of hard work coming to fruition, and the constant hyper awareness of overseeing all departments to make sure that everything ran like clockwork. The incredible satisfaction, when the audience gasped and cheered. The smug feeling of looking on the front of house monitors and seeing all the right faces sitting in the front rows bringing kudos to the collections. This was the time when I could appreciate what the models did for us, when you saw them in their element out on the catwalk, and for those couple of minutes they really were the fantastic angels the outside world saw them for. The music was pumping, the light show was fantastic, and the videos artful but not too intrusive, framing the work without overwhelming it, and what we had seen of the pyro so far had been beautiful, silver jets of sparks counterpointed with golden flames shot out from metal pots, all choreographed with precision control, a living dancing medium that added an edge of danger to the proceedings. We had been promised something extra spectacular for the finale of the last collection, and because the show had been running brilliantly so far, I actually let myself relax enough to look forward to it. But not completely, it was nearly time for Alessandro's signature collection to show and I tore myself away from the banks of monitors to go backstage and personally make sure everything was running to plan.
The high pitched babble of the dressing room snapped into silence the minute the first people started to notice my presence. This was not a good sign. I looked at the bank of slightly terrified looking faces throwing glances between themselves as they tried to decide who would have the balls to tell me whatever bad news they were all hiding.
"What the fuck?" I said menacingly, but that only seemed to inspire more fearful silence.
Suddenly my sister came bursting through the door.
"She's not in the toilets," she said breathlessly.
"Who's not in the toilets?" I growled at her.
"They can't find Tamara," said Naomi Diamond, stepping protectively in front of Emily. I would have found it quite sweet if I wasn't on the verge of a fucking heart attack. Tamara Dickenson was supposed to be closing the show, the last girl to walk the runway wearing Alessandro's most outrageous creation. Normally I would have just sacked off the unprofessional bitch and given the opportunity to another girl, but Tamara was Alessandro's favourite and he had insisted she be the one to star in the finale.
"Which toilets did you check?" I asked Emily.
"All of them," she replied.
"I take it you've phoned her?" I asked Petra, whose reply was to hold up Tamara's phone dejectedly.
"Cunting McSodding Fuckbucket," I screamed before taking a deep breath and reigning myself back in. "Ok, everyone who is not directly involved in the last collection get out of here and search the kitchens, the stairwells, the bloody weights room and find the bitch. Diamond, you're on standby. If I'm not back here in ten minutes get her dressed."
A sea of bodies exploded from the room with me at their head. I headed straight for the hotel reception and demanded to be taken to the CCTV room. Given the amount of money and prestige we were pouring into this hotel, they were only too happy to oblige me. I had them rerun the footage from the past fifteen minutes and my eyes scanned impatiently over multiple screens searching for a glimpse of the elusive model.
"There! Stop! Go back," I cried at the operator, unsure of what I'd seen. He did as I asked, and there she was. It was indistinct and blurry, but it was definitely Tamara, slipping behind a doorway with a suspicious look on her face.
"Where is that?" I asked the guard.
He gave me directions and I was out of there before he'd even caught his breath. It was the floor above our show and I forgot about the lift and just ran up the stairs faster than you'd think was humanly possible for a girl in five inch heels. What the fuck did the stupid bitch think she was playing at? I could only think of two possibilities, drugs or fucking. I didn't give a toss what she did on her own time, and there was a time and a place for both, but this was not it. I wasn't going to let the selfish cunt ruin my show, no matter who her fucking best friend was. I would send her on looking fabulous of course, but once she had finished I would tear so many strips off her she'd end up with nothing but bones. As I approached the door of what turned out to be a fucking linen closet I could hear Tamara's girlish giggling. Ok, so fucking then. In a linen closet – classy. Whatever, I hope the stupid bitch gets Chlamydia. I wrenched the door open, and sure enough there was Tamara Cuntface with her hand down some guys trousers. But not just any guy. My guy. My Harry.
I've never been the shy retiring type. In fact when I was young I had a real problem controlling my temper, and all to often I lost it and began to lash out, not just verbally but physically too. All too often I became enveloped by this seething rage, and all too often it got me into trouble. But then during my early days in the industry, I had an amazing boss who turned out to be my mentor. She had the reputation for being one of those typically bitchtastic hardasses that everyone was afraid of, but she picked me out from a bunch of interns because she thought I had potential. She taught me that implied threat was so much more powerful than actual physical threat, and that people who were genuinely scary never actually had to prove it. And so I learned my lesson well, even though I had a fearsome reputation I was nowhere near the wild girl I was when I was younger, always eager to prove her point with her fists. But she was still in there, and so was the rage that boiled within her blood. I think to some extent we're all like that. Civilisation is only ever a veneer, and underneath the surface we remain unashamedly savage. I guess my veneer is just a little bit thinner than others. It burned to a crisp as I felt the flames of the rage overtake me. I grabbed Tamara by the hair and dragged her from the closet, and threw her roughly against the opposite wall.
"Katie, it's not what it looks…" came Harry's alarmed voice from behind me. A swift kick in the balls shut him up from finishing that particular cliché. I turned back towards Tamara, and suddenly there was a dark pounding in my head and all the world went red.