Author: grayglube

Title: Melt

Summary: He looks at her word and his lips turn up in the corner while he adds a 'D' to the end and makes what she wants to do to him what he's already done to her.

Rating: M

Warning(s)/Kinks: Language, Violence, Sexual situations, Torture, Bloodplay, Fantasy Non-Con

Spoilers: All of S1 episodes

Disclaimer: I don't own American Horror Story.

A/N: This probably has my favorite dialogue out of all my fics thus far, it's a little punchy and this is the first time I've had the opportunity to do that, something about boys arguing with girls is just massively fun to write. It's AU-ish, but not so much that you can't warp it in your mind to fit canon.

On a different note personally finding out after the finale that Ryan Murphy was doing an anthology series made me happy. The ship ain't sunk dudes and dudettes, really. They're stuck in the house forever, there's proximity, insanity, and history and given enough time, and they do have forever, anything can happen, everything can happen. The fact that everyone's dead and stuck makes it pretty easy in fanon to keep the story going. Duh. It's actually kind of great.


It starts as little more than idle fascination, little more than watching him because she's learned how to avoid him, disappear, sneak out of sight, but she's always watching him wait for her, and little more than rogue thoughts popping up from the seed of him revisiting her old haunts. The room that was his, was hers, is always someone else's, the brick patio ledge, the gazebo, the bathtub.

His petulant expression and sad eyes when he sees she's not anywhere he goes looking, showing up moments too late, chasing her around the house, there's no anger, but there's something, stale, old, bitter, growing. There's resentment. Because he knows like she knows you have to mean the words for them to work. When the words no longer work the smile on his face is like something slashed open and so she stops telling him to go away and starts playing tag.

So one day she pushes him down the stairs because she's bored and filled with lingering dislike of his existence, of her own, and the sound of his head hitting the wood over and over makes her laugh. There's the crack of his neck breaking and the twist of his head almost going completely under the back of his shoulders and she winces but there's a shiver too.

She's there, waiting, at the top of the stairs. Smoking, sitting, watching him reanimate and twitch back into consciousness and he says nothing, doesn't mention it, never asks why and in a tiny way it rips apart the shroud made of resentment and scabs ready to fall off from old wounds.

But he's torn her apart in the worst ways and her scars are ugly. Her fingers itch and twitch around her cigarette and she leans into his arm while staring down at the foot of the stairs where he'd fallen and gotten back up. She shivers and he rubs her arms because he thinks she's cold. The spasm of the nerves in her neck and shoulders and back and arms comes again when she thinks about the brittle snap his bones make when they break. He takes off his cardigan and holds it out to her, she takes it and puts it on because she's missed the way he smells and wearing his clothes and it no longer makes her angry to admit it.

He asks if she's going to go away again, like she has, like she does, because she's tried, because she's realized it takes more than trying to ignore things, to want to ignore things, she's wanted to hate him, but she doesn't anymore and she shakes her head in the negative.

She's wants him to make her happy again, she wants to smile, she wants to stop chasing him while he's chasing her all around the house when he's not looking, too concerned with catching a glimpse of her as he moves from room to room to bother looking over his shoulder.

It's easy to admit that she's still attracted to all that bad, dark, and twisted in him. It's easier still to not admit out loud that it's because with all the time spent in his shadow, watching, she's hoped it's been eating away at all the light he always wanted, has craved. She hopes it's all gone, hopes he's swallowed it all and gets sick from it.

Because he deserves that and she's not angry, retribution isn't about anger, it's about paying back someone else who thinks they've done justice. Him, Nora, the Babies. That's all it was, him setting things right. There is no right. He had no right. All retribution will do is prove it. It has proved it, he just hasn't noticed.

"You should watch where you're going."

He smiles dumbly and her own is one moving syrup slow across her mouth because it's a hint, not a warning or a taunt, he's wanted to find her, chase her down, have her look at him. He's found her and caught her and she's looking at him.

And she wonders if he's always been as blindsided as she had been to things, words, occurrences that revolve around him, she wonders if it's something that's grown with the time she's spent behind his back walking a step too slow while he searches and hopes for her to pop out in front of him. She wonders if the years have made him delusional enough to step into her parlor without a spoken invitation just because she's there herself. She wonders if he thinks seeing her for the first time in years is because he's waited long enough. It's not; she's just bored and tired of playing a game for so long it's all habit and little skill.

So he's found her and caught her and has her looking but she wonders if he's looked close enough to see that she's not hurt and flayed open anymore, that her wounds aren't raw and don't need a tongue to lick them clean, that she's never been frozen and waiting for him like a fairytale princess put to sleep with a pinprick.

She wonders if he knows, if he has any idea, if he's wondered how their first interaction would go after so many years.

Whatever he's fantasized about and whatever he's expected she already knows is not what happens next because he's been expecting her and thinks he can slip into old habits like a coat gone unworn for a season but still broken in just right.

But that's not how it goes after all the growing pains have gone away, things won't fit the same, they won't fit right, there needs to be adjustments. She knows, he doesn't. He can learn the rules as he goes, as she makes them up.


She's stuck with an absolute mess of vowels and a single high point letter that makes her little tablet easel a disheartening sight. He grins and block by block sets out the word 'hand' coming down off of 'drudge,' she barely manages to keep her eye roll in check.

He doesn't need to let her win; she never puts down anything with less than five letters. She's got her word. She puts down her tiles and he extends the silver bag of letters to her over the board.

She arranges the letters and chews on her lip, smiling at a combination of vowels and consonants that sparks through her mind like fire from her Zippo.

There's a usable 'M' on the board, and just enough space between that and an 'A' that her own 'M', 'T', 'E', 'I', 'O' and 'L' have a sudden purpose.

"You look like you're thinking of something good."

"I am."

He lays down 'cite' and removes the final three tiles from the bag.

"Something about me?"

"How'd you know?"

"You keep looking over at me."

"Guess it's obvious then."

"What were you thinking about me?"

She looks away from his face to spell her word.

"Doing bad things to you."

I-M-M-O-L-A-T-E

"Oh yeah?"

"I think dying fucked me up, Tate."

He looks at her word and his lips turn up in the corner while he adds a 'D' to the end and makes what she wants to do to him what he's already done to her.

"I like fucked up."

"Do you?"

"You can do bad things to me whenever you want."

"Really?"

"Yeah."

He needs to learn how to use his words better; the irony of the game they're playing while the thought crosses her mind is not lost on her. He's going to lose.


It's Tea Party day and she sits in front of the vanity in the master bedroom to let Nora put rags in her hair and dress her like a doll, all ringlets and shiny lips but it's broiling and the middle of summer so her curls fall limp and tangle around the glitter butterfly clip Margaret snaps bothersome springy bits back with and her mouth feels sticky under the little girl sparkle gloss Angela has put on her while Violet had made fishy faces at them both.

She plays princess with them until the stifling heat wafting from their charred little bodies and the oppression of a blistering summer sun becomes too much. No one alive is home; they've gone away to their summer house somewhere that gets so cold they come back to the Murder House in winter. She misses the beach. It's not the same to go in October as it is in the middle of July. She lies on the floor in what used to be her father's office and sweats uncomfortably, the breeze from the open window is weak and the elastic of her panties is chafing the tender line of her groin.

He finds her barefoot, braless, unsticking her underwear from her sweaty calves with the skirt of her sundress in her lap and thighs parted. She doesn't notice him until she's flicked them with an elastic snap across the room with a giggle, half delirious from the heat and half crazed by too long spent dead and aware.

"Hi."

"It's too hot for underwear."

The hot familiar shadow between her thighs is all he can really see but he's got an eye for detail and an excellent memory. Her affection has been lax for years and sometimes he remembers things that haven't happened, his recollections are nothing but faded fantasies and his castle in the sky daydreams are vivid memories.

He can count the number of times they've had sex on one hand with fingers left over, if every time he's thought about it were stones in his pockets he'd be sunk at the bottom of an ocean, if he licks the back of his teeth he can almost taste the veneer of her arousal across them from the solitary time he's had the insides of her thighs on his cheeks and his mouth kissing pouter, wetter lips.

It's been so long he wonders if she's a virgin again, there was a point when bad timing and heartbreak and her broken youth all came in quick succession in the short period following her realization that she'd never leave, never grow up, never fix her ruined family, crashing down like a toppled tower that made her topple too.

From the roof.

Twice.

Until he'd realized what the loud meaty smack sound was and where it was coming from and that she planned on doing it over and over again and he'd yelled and she'd cried and told him to go away. Like she always did. But it didn't work so instead she'd stopped talking to him, stopped letting him see her and disappeared on her own.

But she'd turned herself into a squishy mound of bleached white bone poking through red and turning dusky lumpy flesh, like a macabre pin cushion from the devil's playground of red delights and he didn't need to watch her do it a third futile time and see everything reset, close, knit back together in rewind time and her eyes open, sunken, sad, listless and come inside to climb the stairs and take her exit out the attic window.

And it's only the really bad injuries they heal completely from.

The prospect of deflowering her again makes him salivate despite the summer heat.

"Do you forgive me?"

"It doesn't matter," she shrugs, "It just stops being worthwhile because you're not angry anymore, eventually."

And it's the truth because they've grown up left to their devices for so long, too long, they're both wholly themselves because all the parts made by other people have gotten old or died or gone away like those same people do, and her and him are the same but they're different too. It's funny to her. Time. Enough goes by and certain things don't make quite the impact that they used to, enough goes by and everything can be understood, enough goes by and she can analyze something enough that's it's as threadbare as the clothes still covering her old bones.

Enough time goes by and things change themselves, growth, decay, something, things get simple and things get complicated and she goes through phases, there's a weight to eternity and sometimes it gets heavy, it was, had been and now it's gossamer, spider web thin, little strands she can barely see, barely feel.

She's grown up and learned that sometimes hate is based on nothing more than principal, that's all it'd become, hating him because her parents were her parents but belatedly she'd realized that at some point she'd stopped defining herself as someone's daughter, and the strings of attachment to people long gone or as gone as they can be having lived in the Murder House are just as thin as spider silk, but easier to snap. She's been defining herself as just a dead girl for as long as she's been playing catch-up with his shadow, a little lost dead girl to him but now she's found and that means she's his girl again. His little dead girl. From the moment she'd creeped up close enough to kiss the hot knob of bone at the top of his spine and wished he'd turned around. And he's always been her little dead psycho.

It's unpleasant to stay tied to things that don't exist anymore and she's been dead for longer than she'd ever been alive.

So things change. She changes. Changed.

And suddenly the only thing she really laments over is that she's never going to be able to grow her hair as long as she's always wanted. She makes due, it's not the worst thing in the world.

The glass in his hand slips down his palm, he flounders, catching it, tightening his hold and she fixes her dress and smirks a little. She rolls onto her stomach and presses her cheek to the wood floor; her arms stretched wide and her palms pressed flat and lazy with her fingers spread open.

There's the creak of the floor under his shoes and his shadow filling out the block of light from the long window she idly watches a wind chime sway from, it twinkles out little notes, barely there music and he sits at her feet, his legs stretching out parallel to the line of her torso and shoulders.

He gulps down a sip from his glass and sets it down to puddle on the wood.

"You look cute," he tells her with stroking fingers pressing into the hot delicate arch of her foot. His hand feels heavier than she remembers wrapping around the back of her ankle, a firm snare of fingers and rough calluses.

"Do I?"

"Mhmm."

The sound is a thick murmur lodged in his throat. His fingers and palm smooth up to the hollow of her knee and he flicks at the floral pattern hem with the tips of his nails.

"It's too hot," she whines. Still she doesn't move or say anything more while he reaches over her other hip and makes her lift herself to slide his calf under her stomach, the denim of his jeans moving the cotton of her dress up the backs of her thighs.

"I missed you."

His other leg mimics a weak trapping of hers when he puts his foot between her knees on the floor and she can feel the rasp of the canvas of his converse on the side of one and the rubber toe against the other when she shimmies closer to press her hip in between his thighs, he isn't hard yet but she wants to feel it when he is.

"I hated you."

"Past tense?"

"I don't hate you anymore." She folds an arm to have a soft place to rest her chin.

"I really, really missed you. You know?"

"I know," she sighs into her arm and keeps her stare on the floor.

"I saw you yesterday, outside."

"Was I outside yesterday?" She can't remember.

"You were naked."

"I guess I was. I do that a lot lately."

No one lives next door anymore. Charles, Angela, and Margaret stay in the basement. Moira could care less. Nora has things to keep her occupied. Hayden hates it and goes to screw the long haired Hollister model, or handyman, or dog walker named Travis so he won't see the naked girl sunbathing next to his fuck buddy's shallow and cemented grave. She's seen Hugo in an upstairs window once peeping on her. The twins find excuses to play in the backyard but blush and stumble off, awkward and astounded by nudity. Her parents have been giving her space for years. And she's never noticed Tate.

"What? Get naked?"

"I like it; it's too hot for clothes, anyway." She hates the thought of how pale she died.

"So why aren't you naked now?"

"Princesses don't walk around naked. They have to dress up."

"You let them pick out your dress? The girls?"

"I think they stole it. They steal stuff, they're funny." She thinks of them as baby dragons just starting their treasure troves, wafting heavy smoke and tempers as hot as the marrow in their bones has become.

The skirt of the dress flips up around her waist and the cool whisk of a fake breeze is nice on her bare bottom.

"You've got sunburn on your ass." His hand is there, rough and curved against the pink slope of one cheek, she can't help the rise of her hips, how she cants back into his hand, it's familiar and not at all unpleasant. Her fingers curl and uncurl on the floor.

The wind chime outside rings with a pleasant peal of wayward music.

"You look pretty. Like a little kitty."

"It's too hot, Tate."

He makes a sound and his hand is gone and she realizes belatedly that she's still got her ass tilted up, she's still needy, expectant for a moment too long and it doesn't go unnoticed.

And he doesn't disappoint because he knows then if he doesn't touch her that's exactly what she'll be, so his shin presses tighter under her belly and jolts to make her stop moving, from fixing her dress, from leaving. The glass makes a heavy sound on the floor when he sets it down.

His mouth opens and she feels it, barely warmed by his tongue, sliding down the bottom of her spine and over her sunburn blush of pink skin and rolling over her sex, unwarranted but not a bit unwanted and she pulls in her spine and raises her hips.

It's just water but it feels like fingers and lips and tongues and memories of other parts of his anatomy, hard and hot inside her.

"Ughh."

She groans into the floor and presses up on her knees. His fingers are cold because he's dipped them in the glass. Her sex is like a tiny flame and she hisses when his fingertips drag across her. It feels like a whisper between her legs, his fingers like secrets on her folds, soft, gentle, barely there and they haven't been for so long that it's so easy for her to forget why.

"You have no idea what it was like." And he's dipping his fingers between, searching for the hard swollen nub, finding it, circling, pressing, making her wet.

"What?"

His answer is more water from his mouth, warmed by his throat and when it slides over her and down between her thighs, the sides of her knees and puddles on the floor she can only remember a repeated loop of an old memory. How it feels, felt, to have him cum inside her, pull out and trail limply, hot and sticky across the inside of her legs.

And it's sensory recall attaching itself, she still remembers like it's something ingrained into her flesh from night after night instead of just once, that even if she tries to clench her thighs together when they're done and are lying face to face that the slow seep and crawl of all that's hot, sticky and wet about sex and him and her out of her still leaves her sheets messy for the morning.

She remembers what the perfume of their sweat and skin and fucking smells like under the covers.

"Dealing with your bad mood." His fingers are insistent and firm, rolling over her clit, through her folds.

"Stop ruining this, shut up." Her hair sticks to her face when she presses her forehead to her arm and rolls her head back and forth, a mimic of her circling hips.

"No. It was fucking torture."

"So, what? This is payback?" The huff of breath is humid against her lips and chin hanging in the space between the floor and her face

"No." His tone has a shrug to it that makes her turn and look, hard and mean before she hisses, "Then what are you doing?"

His smirk is cruel and his fingers are warm. They press in, slick and missed.

"I want to make you cum so I have something to think about the next time you decide to play hide and seek to punish me for twenty years and so you remember what it feels like when I do it." He pumps them in and out lazily.

"Shut up, Tate."

"You missed me too."

"Or your fingers."

"Or fucking yourself with them," he challenges.

She is; he isn't even moving his hand anymore. It's just her, fucking herself and he's just there to watch, his hand is just a prop, his hand is just the way his voice would feel if she could fuck herself with that.

And when they pull out of her she opens her mouth to choke for a breath like she's been stabbed, the sound that comes out is warbled and weak.

"Put them back in."

"Tell me you missed me."

"Well I didn't." She glares and his expression is blank before something steely settles into his features.

"Then why are you here now? Why fucking bother?"

"Because I did," she squints angrily and curls her fingers into tiny fists.

"I came back because I did," suddenly she's missed him, or parts of him, things that don't come separate from him.

His fingers are an oppressive, sticky brand where they lay in the fold of her knee, forgotten for a moment.

"I didn't before that. Okay? Now, I miss you." She bangs the tops of her feet on the floor and her shoulders bunch together while she shimmies her pelvis up and back before giving a command with all the petulance of a five year old who's had their favorite toy taken away.

"Put them back in me." It's a whine.

"…" His face gives nothing away and she turns hers into her arm and groans.

"Please, I miss you, miss you miss you miss you. Okay? Please."

Her litany makes his fingers twitch likes she's sure his face must, they twitch like a shiver or startled eyes.

"You fucking kill me, you know that?"

But his fingers are back and she's tossing her cunt onto his knuckles furiously. But it's not the same if he isn't doing it himself.

"Yes, sorry, please. Tate," she bites her arm and sucks the skin to take the taste of his name out of her mouth. She hates it.

"You're not sorry."

"No. Not really. I'm not, at all, okay? And I still hate you, but I miss you more, so I fucking bothered."

She turns her head and he's staring down with a brief nod while her cheek flattens against the floor and her teeth worry her bottom lip raw and red. His fingers curl and his hand moves and it's him and not her making sure she cums.

He talks, but she doesn't listen, coos little things, pillow talk for a girl that isn't her anymore, words that aren't for meant for him to say while he's fingering her in the middle of the sitting room. Love, promises, bullshit.

She doesn't want him to talk, his words mean nothing. They never have, it's always been what he does that's always mattered. It's the angry pummel of his fingers, the sound her body makes around them, the rawness of her knees burned by the floor, the sweat on the back of her thighs, how hard he is under the denim of his jeans, the texture of her hair in her mouth, it's all the things she can feel that tell her he's pissed off and he hates her for hating him, that he's just as petty as she is, that they haven't grown up at all, that they aren't as bad as they have the capacity to be, that they can't ever be good again until they get to the bottom of the pit of all the filth they're made up of and become as bad as they're meant to be. She's getting there.

When she cums she keens and realizes they're still looking at each other, or at the very least that she's still looking at him. She slumps and the wet sucking sound of his fingers pulling out makes her slip a hand down to rub at herself to prolong the blunt throb for as long as she can.

He's undoing his belt and she's rolling unto her back, he shifts to cover her, kisses her, and she disengages his questing mouth from her unmoving one with her fingers on his chin, his eyes are dazed, pupils blown, she knows he's dying for it, to fuck her on the floor, have everything be normal, have them be in love and do sweaty, dirty, sticky things in every room in every way until one of them passes out from heatstroke or dies of exhaustion.

But it's not that simple and she's out from under him, sitting on the floor, leaving him on hands and knees and raising his face to look at her fixing her dress.

"No, it's too hot."

She almost smiles when the word denied screams across her thoughtspace in triumph. It's a little bit of the past repeating except there's no beach and she's dead and only one of them is left unsatisfied. And this time it isn't her nursing imaginary wounds from being rebuked when previously assured of victory.

She leaves and he doesn't move.


She's willing to bet that his search for her was never imagined quite like it's turned out, for him at least.

"Hey. Wake up."

The slap is crisp sounding, his eyes snap open.

He has eyes like a snake ready to strike but he's stuck in a wicker basket and she's the mongoose on the leash and the mongoose always wins when the snake's defanged.

The fact that he doesn't see it coming turns the razor blade slashing down his brow and through his eyelid into a joke.

"Does it hurt?"

His cheeks are puffed with whatever pained sound is stuck behind the tape over his mouth, choking him. His angry flush, bloody face, and ruined eye are things she wouldn't mind looking at for hours, like fine art or a meteor shower. There may not be fear but there's confusion and distress and it's just as good, just as easy to savor.

"In movies they call this shit torture porn."

His chest heaves hard enough to remind her of his hands pushing her back onto the bed playfully once, forever ago. She can feel one of the buttons on his shirt scrape over her nipple through the fabric of the large undershirt she's wearing, ribbed, white, his.

She studies the swelling of his eye socket, the colors, the blood stuck and drying on his face run through with vitreous fluid and pulpy tissue. She grabs his chin and drags her fingernails over his cheek, the red brown rusty dried crust piling under them in little lines like a ghastly manicure and he struggles, tries to yank his head away, kicks his legs, bucks against her, but the tub is small, and his arms are tied tight behind his back and she's got her fingers in the mess of his ruined eye, picking, pulling, and there's not much he can do except scream behind the tape over his mouth, wrapped around his jaw and the back of his head.

When she's done prodding and poking and he starts looking like he might vomit she eases back on his lap and waits for him to inhale through his nose, hard, nostrils fluttering, he does and she pinches them closed, she let's go when his face turns a shade past angry red.

"I get it, now," she tells him while he inhales fast and hard to make his thoughts less fuzzy and his heart stop bruising itself with imprints of his ribcage. "But I don't know why this turns me on so much. Feel?" She lifts the bottom of his shirt and widens the space between the outside of his hips and her knees, lets the crotch of her underwear rub on the skin of his stomach.

"How fucked up is that?"

There might agreement in the look he gives her but she can't quite remember what that looks like, it's been so long since she's been close enough to really look at him, to care what the looks he gives her mean.

"We're not even close to being even and I don't know any other way to hurt you, you know? I don't know, maybe this is the only way I want to."

She rolls her head on her neck and closes her eyes to think for a moment, opening them with a grin to confirm her words.

"Yeah. That's it. Because there are other ways but I really like doing it like this."

There are ways to hurt him, horrible ways, dirty ways, but she doesn't want to have sex with someone she doesn't want to have sex with so she leaves Travis the model, actor, dog walker, to Hayden and his father alone. She misses sex, but mostly she just misses sex with him.

"I'm not even really angry, I'm just sad. Over everything, mostly it's just because I thought this would be different."

He just stares back at her.

"But this makes me happy, doing this. And you deserve this, but even if you deserve it and everyone wants to hurt you like this they can't, because I'm the only one who's allowed."

Her fingers trace his collarbone, the slope of his throat, it works in a swallow and her eyes widen, rise to look into his remaining one.

"They wouldn't stand a fucking chance against you."

It's kind of a compliment; she means it half as one and half as a fact.

"Because you're cruel, Tate. And you like to hurt people in the worst ways. You should feel lucky I'm not like that, that I wouldn't like doing that."

She rocks her pelvis onto his stomach and he knows exactly what she means. How it could just as easily be someone else she's rubbing herself on.

"Thanks for letting me do this; it's not as fun to do it to myself anymore. It's just boring. I guess it just got really old. It's not the same rush. Not like this. That's why I stopped."

He makes a muffled sound behind the tape. She ignores it.

"And I don't really know what this feeling is when I see it, when I do this. Blood is just heavy. I don't know if I can explain it better, do you know what I mean?"

She peeks up at him, away from her bloody fingers, from under the fall of her hair. From behind all the mess she can't tell if his eye is all better.

He thrashes and knocks body wash and shampoo bottles from the edge where they've sat, rocking precariously with every one of his kicks and squirms they splatter different colors and consistencies into the tub, making the surface slippery and cold on her bare calves.

"Does it only heal when you die again? Or does it just take more time than this? Weird. Do you think if I cut out your eye it would just rot or turn to dust or what? Because I know you'd grow another but what happens to the old one?"

She picks up her hand and runs fingertips over the gash on his brow; he makes a sound like a hiss and shakes his head frantically trying to blink with a torn eyelid.

"Well you shouldn't have kicked it over then!"

The hair product must sting his tender wounds. Watching rapt she sucks on her bloody nails and spits quite suddenly and winces at the taste of blood mixed with salon product.

"Now I have shampoo in my mouth."

He scowls, she knows, even if it's distorted by the duct tape.

"Chin up."

He rolls his eyes. She brandishes the razor.

"No seriously chin up, I'm gonna slit your throat."

He tucks it stubbornly to his chest and glares with one eye. She scoffs and leans in close, he voice an angry whisper meant for stupid children.

"Okay fine I'll cut off your eyelid and burn your other eye out with shampoo."

She leans backs and slowly he bares his throat, the glare stays, she wouldn't have it any other way. She pauses with the tiniest press of the razor edge to his neck.

"Hey."

His eyes swivel down to her.

"After this I want you to fuck me, okay?"

They widen.

"Cool," she grins.

A moment ticks by and she stops, to think.

"Or…" she looks at him as if he knows what she's thinking, "no, never mind…," she waves a hand, "it's nothing."

But it isn't and she sighs, chewing her lip thoughtfully.

"I just…, I was thinking, right? What if I did you and cut off the tape and then did me and then you'd probably come back first, right? And when I come back you'd already be fucking me, I don't know if that'd be really weird for you. Since I'd be dead dead instead of alive dead."

She shakes her head and the thought away with the movement deciding to stick with what she's already sure of, killing him.

"Okay, do what you want when you come back. Either way, really."

The gush of red, like one thick ribbon, from his parted throat makes her sway, it spurts weakly and she can't help but squeak and gasp a little, surprised at the warmth it flicks onto her skin. It's salt and metal in her mouth, flicking over her teeth and she's giddy when he twitches, his eyes rolling, chest working for air.

He slumps. Dead.

For awhile.

It doesn't take long to cut him free. The inside of the tape leaves ragged sticky strings on her fingers.

She cuts her carotids, drops the razor, and waits for the haze to settle and her head to go empty as the thoughts leave her like the blood.

When she comes back her eyes open on the mess of the tub, his furious stare, hard edged and pugnacious. She smiles and rubs at the spot between her shoulders that's been pressed against the facet.

"Hi." She waves across from him.

"Get out of the tub." There's no niceness in his tone but she rolls her eyes and tries not to be disappointed that they're not going to fuck each other in the bloody tub.

"Now what?" She asks his back as he clambers out and stumbles the tiniest of bits, swaying from too much blood loss, watches him wipe red crusts from his eyelid which is whole again. He blinks rapidly and then scowls pushing his way out of her path and out the bathroom door.

"Hey!"

She swings out of the bathroom with a hand on the doorframe to observe his stomping path into her bedroom, glad he isn't pissed off enough to disappear.

He's waiting by the end of her bed.

"That really fucking hurt, Violet." There's accusation in his tone, biting, sharp, mean. She shrugs.

"Okay. So?"

She takes him in, there are tattered bits of duct tape stuck in his hair, blood soaked deep into his flannel and tee shirt, his jeans are stiff from it all. She wonders if he's ever been so smeared with it in his life, if murdering people with guns and axes has ever coated him quite as thoroughly.

His mouth sucks all the air from her lungs when he lunges and grabs her chin to press their chapped, rough lips together. Her head swims; she's forgotten what to do with her tongue it's been so long since they've kissed each other like their dying.

Her feet drag harshly across the floor as he turns them and pushes her to sit on the bed and stoops to keep their mouths together, his tongue pressed against the edges of her teeth.

When his lips drag themselves away with his head she stares down at the bloody strand of spit that connect their mouths for a moment longer like red strings of fate. Her fingers pull off his cheeks baring the faintest stick of adhesive from the tape she'd ripped off.

He's on his knees staring at her bloody shirt pushing apart her loose knees, rubbing his knuckles across her cotton covered sex, her panties are bloody like her socks, like her shirt, like her skin.

"God, Violet. You are fucking wet."

"You think I don't know that?" She looks down at him and rips tape out of his hair, his hands raise to soothe the sting while she drops the strips to the floor. He picks the rest out himself, spending too much time fixated on her sloppy work.

"Would you just fucking touch me, please?" She prods at his legs with her toes hoping he'll drag the crotch of her panties to the side and shove his fingers in her, bloody and spit slick, not that she needs it but there's something about him sucking on his fingers that makes her want them in her mouth too.

The shirt comes off like a damp scab in his hands and her chest and ribs and stomach are cherry red.

"You're covered," he mumbles into her throat while his hand trail up and circle her waist, his lips opening and sucking at the top of her chest.

"Tate, come on," she yanks on his hair.

"What's up with you?"

He looks confused and annoyed that she's stopped him. She sighs and leans back tugging on his shirt to make him crawl up onto the bed to cover her body with his.

"Listen the foreplay's great and all but I kind of don't need it, so come on." Her pelvis tilts up and her hands snag in the fabric of his flannel, he tears his arms from it.

"I just bleed out you know," his voice muffled from his shirt pulling over his face explains.

"You're not going to be a jerk about it are you?"

"Violet."

"What?"

"I shouldn't have to explain this."

"Explain what."

"You can't stay hard if you don't have a pulse, and you don't have a pulse if there isn't any blood."

"Oh."

"Yeah."

"Why didn't you just say so, it's not like it's a problem. I'll fix it."

She maneuvers and kneels on the floor between his hanging legs, her hands dragging down his ribs and catching on his belt.

"What are you doing?"

"Taking off your pants."

His belt is easy. The button and zipper are the trickiest parts.

"Yeah, okay then. What are you going to do?"

It's a stupid question to ask while he's already raising his hips and her hands are tugging his jeans down to the middle of his thighs.

"Listen, in like five seconds I'm not going to be able to carry on a conversation so if you wanna talk all night then ask me what you want now, otherwise shut up."

"Why won't you be able to carry on a conversation?"

His head rolls back between his shoulders when the heel of her hand rubs over the wet stain on the front of his briefs.

"Can't talk and suck at the same time, can I now?"

His head snaps up to stare wild eyed at her, "What?"

"…" She says nothing because it's obvious, it was obvious before, from the moment she got down on her knees between his but he's just a stupid boy and she can ignore his oblivious, and lust lagged, brain fog for the moment.

"You don't have to, if you don't want to."

She realizes quite suddenly that she's never actual done what she's about to do before, she's thought about it enough that she was convinced she must have at some point. But she hasn't because somehow the idea of him being able to see her do it was never something that tied itself to the fantasy.

"Just don't look." It's a whisper, sounding too small and girlish for all the bravado she's been throwing around. Her fingers tugs down the elastic waistband, it snaps back under the curve of his ass when she lets go to watch the bob of his dick, he smells like sex and skin and him. "Close your eyes."

"What?"

His knuckles are white against the bed and his knees are hard and bony against her small breasts, there's a tear in the denim and she can feel the chafe of the downy gold hair of his legs and the warmth of his skin on hers. She stares at the just starting to swell, mean looking part of his body jutting up from a thatch of blonde curls and a thin trail of hair on his abdomen.

"I want to, just…it'll be weird if you like stare at me when I do it." She presses crescents into his sharp hip bones and shifts so she can rub herself through her panties with her ankle and heel.

"So you'll put my dick in your mouth but you don't want me to watch you do it?"

"Yeah."

She's watched porn; she knows how ridiculous girls look with dick in their mouth.

"Not happening."

His hands pull hers off his hips and hold them tight and secure in the cradle of his fingers.

"What?"

"Do something else."

"Wait, why?"

"Half the point is so I can watch."

He lets go of her hands and she puts them on her knees before her lips curve in a snarl and she rips a sheet from the bed and unfurls it over her head like a weak attempt at ghost humor, "Fuck this. There."

"No," he pulls on the sheet but she tucks the edges of the sheet into her fists and shoves her fists under his hips so he can't pull it off of her.

"Shut up."

He whines at the humid cling of her words and breath across his skin, the proximity makes her dizzy too, the scent of him, hot and bothered, isn't that different from her own arousal and she's never been so face to face with a problem before, but if anything she decides his dick isn't so much a problem, just a solution to all of hers.

She licks and sucks kisses into the swollen head, being hard looks like it hurts she decides, erections just look painful and angry when they're at eye level. Her lips part and she lets the heavy weight settle on her tongue, lets it rest there on the wet muscle, her cheeks hollow and she keeps the rest of him in the loose circle of her sheeted fingers she's removed from under one hip.

He's careful not to jerk up, she's careful to not give him a reason to. He whines above her and his stomach moves in twitches, rapid and anxious.

"This isn't as easy as I thought it would be. It gives my mouth a cramp." She tells him working her mouth from side to side to ease the flaring achy burn in her cheeks. "You taste salty." She punctuates with a long, firm swipe of her whole tongue along the side. "And bitter. Like a cigarette, it's weird."

He mumbles something incoherent.

"Can I?"

"Can you what?"

She smiles at his breathless tone. Her head resting on his thigh and she stares in fascination at the blue working of a vein. "I just, I don't want to scrape you. With my teeth."

"Just don't bite me."

"So I can try?"

"God yes. Please," he gasps.

"You can look if you want."

"Really?"

She pulls the sheet around her shoulders and meets his heavy, half-lidded stare, "I like looking at you, when you're feeling good."

He moves her hair out of her face, holds it in a loose ponytail while her lips unfurl around the length of him, she inhales through her nose focusing on remembering to not hold her breath, his breath hitches and his hips jerk, and he buries himself in her throat before she has a chance to anticipate it, she chokes and he makes a sound that says he's sorry while he tries to make his hips still and fall back to the mattress.

They don't right away and he rocks himself into her mouth, down her throat and she hums angrily, it does nothing but make him groan low and throw himself up. She jerks up and wipes at her mouth with the edge of her thumb. He looks adorably sheepish, not looking at her, embarrassed and throbbing.

"What's it feel like?"

"Like being in you but not really, when you gagged it felt like it does when you cum but I can't feel it all over."

She nods and lets his thigh serve as a pillow for her neck. Her fingers trail low and stroke at the pouch of soft, sensitive, parts of his anatomy that she knows to be extra careful with. He hisses.

"Is this okay?"

"Yuh-ess."

She grins and runs her nails across his skin, soft and slow. He chokes.

"You sound like a girl."

He makes a sound like a grunt of agreement.

"It's like a map." She traces the underside of his swollenness with a fingertip on the vein there, catching salty drops from the head and slides it back along to the base. "You know one that's all topographical and shit and with all the little rivers raised up.

"Shut up and fucking touch me, anything."

"I'm trying to tell you I love your dick and you tell me to shut up."

"If you love it so much then get on it."

She purses her lips and picks up her head to glare before clamoring onto his lap. He falls back immediately and strokes his thumbs over her hipbones.

His eyes fall closed and he bucks up into her, against her panties and she crosses her arms and stares down until he opens his eyes.

"You're being really lazy."

"What?"

"You heard me. I had to hit you over the head like three times before you passed out and then I had to drag you down the hall and then I had to get you in the tub and you're really heavy, okay? So don't just lay there."

His eyes turn into furious slits and he swings up quick, she can feel his angry exhales hard across her lips and his fingers dig into her shoulders, he moves himself and her along with him, puts her on her knees and gives a light push that makes her fall on her hands.

"This better? Now you don't even have to move."

"I have to hold myself up."

"No you don't."

His palm flat between her shoulders presses her chest to the mattress and makes her arms collapse.

"Gonna pull my hair next?" She scowls over her shoulder at him, through her hair stuck under her cheek and chin against the bed; she blows it out of her mouth, and it's hard and stuck together in clumps with dried blood, leaving the taste in her mouth.

"God, shut up."

"You don't like hearing me talk?"

He's pulling off her panties and taking off his jeans.

"Only as much as you like looking at me."

"What the fuck is that supposed to mean?" She rolls her eyes at the mattress in response to his sour mood.

"It's easier to let me fuck you again when you don't have to watch me do it, when all you have to do is feel it." He runs himself along her sex to tease and hisses into her ear, his chest hot across her back.

"Not true," she chastises as he prods her wetness with the blunt head of his dick.

He laughs bitterly, "You're a shitty liar."

His thrust is hard and she cries out because he's an idiot and something tears inside her body and they both feel it, only all she feels is pain while her insides clutch at the intrusion of his body into hers while he's probably euphoric from how hard the spasms are around him.

"Ahhhh!"

He stills and the room goes silent except for her brief screech and guttural cry of agony.

"Fuck."

She snorts at his eloquence and winces a moment after. He makes to pull out as gently as possible; she reaches a hand back to slap his side.

"Don't, I should have reminded you. Sorry."

"Are you okay?" He waits, unmoving behind her and she sucks in a breath

"Yeah, just surprised me. God," she presses her face into the mattress and tries not to move or cry.

"…"

He waits, as patient as possible and she rocks back with a whimper, trying to pass it off as one of pleasure but everything hurts, sharp and harsh inside her. He knows, but he pretends he doesn't and moves in and out anyway, regardless because she's pretending too.

Eventually the pain dulls to a soft ache that she doesn't have to bite the inside of her cheek to muffle her whines.

Eventually it feels good.

"I just wanna pretend," she tells him pushing back, disrupting his rhythm.

"Pretend what?" He breathes on an exhale.

"That I am just taking it."

His thrusts lose all rhythm. And for a moment she thinks he pauses for half a second but she can't really tell.

"That I don't want it."

His response is an angry shout, "Christ, Violet!" He sounds furious and his retreat from her seems final and abrupt.

"I know. I'm sorry."

And he pulls completely out and she all but shrieks.

"No." She twists her body to look at him and he shakes his head, his stare pissed off and primal.

"Not like this."

"Fuck you," she spits with venom and moves to turn so she can push him off the bed and put her clothes on and never speak to him again.

His eyebrows raise and he smiles, sardonic and self-depreciating. "Yeah, fuck me."

His fingers curl behind her knee and move it, slide it up on the bed, her hip clicks and she winces at the ache across the inside of her thigh. His forearm presses across the back of her shoulders and there's most of his weight behind it, holding her down.

"Ahh," this time it's a gasp like a sigh when he presses inside and her body opens to receive the heavy thrust.

"This is what it would be like." He growls into her ear, his lips pressing on the curve of cartilage and his tongue flicking out to stroke a wet line behind it.

"You've thought about it. Don't even lie."

"Even before you were dead. Even before I fucked your mom." He pulls back, rocks back in.

"Why didn't you?"

"I'm not like that."

"Oh so you'll only stoop to rape by fraud?"

"Thought you said you weren't angry about it anymore."

He's heavy and his weight is suffocating her, pressing her lungs against her ribs.

"I'm not, I don't even care, just fuck, how fucking stupid are you? God. You're so fucking dumb, Tate."

"…you're not jealous, are you?"

"It's more than just what you did. You'd steal a baby for Nora, kill people to make that happen, you put on that suit and screwed my mom. What have you done for me Tate?"

He's brutal to her and she wishes it hurt more. "What you asked me to do."

"No, you didn't. You lurked around and did nothing. Do I have to tell you everything, all Nora had to do was cry and lament her dead baby, and you're the one that volunteered a fucking baby."

"Oh, sorry, were you dropping hints for me for twenty years? Half-dressed, naked in the backyard, touching yourself all night, every night, were those clues? Was I supposed to crawl into your bed and fuck you then? Would that have made you happy?"

"You could have tried."

He stops moving and slumps on top of her, still hard inside but he just sulks with his cheek against hers while they put fucking on hold to finish an argument they don't need to be having, "You would have just told me to go away again."

"Not every time."

"I'm not your personal dick, only here when you're horny."

"Bullshit. If I snapped my fingers for it you'd be ready to go in a second."

"You're being a bitch."

"I was lonely."

"I tried to make sure you weren't, you stopped me."

"Thanks, really. What was he supposed to be? Your replacement? You think any random teenage boy is what I need? What I want? Maybe all you wanted was an opportunity to pretend to be someone in the dark."

"Are you trying to piss me off?" He murmurs it and follows it with a kiss to her neck.

"Yes."

His head lifts up and he puts his weight on his arms, "Why?"

"I pushed you down the stairs on purpose, I cut your eye in half, slit your throat and all you don't even get angry. You didn't even say anything when I blue-balled you, what the fuck Tate?"

"What am I supposed to do?"

She puts her elbows under her chest and presses her shoulder into his chest while giving him a look over the curve of it..

"Give a shit."

"I do."

He does, she knows.

"Then why are we talking? Why haven't you told me to shut up again? Does it fucking matter? Can't we just shut up and get over it already?"

She's doesn't want to talk.

"I thought you wanted to pretend." His eyes are dark and heavy and she knows she's winning, he's conceding defeat, is going to give her what she wants.

"…," she sucks her bottom lip into her mouth, he looks at her mouth and she feels giddy.

"Maybe I should pull your hair, that's what you want right? Hurt you a little, yeah? Make you tell me to go fuck myself and get off you."

"Get off me." She makes her eyes wide and scared and hateful and he smirks.

"No." He pulls out and pushes back in, slowly, makes sure she feels every inch.

"No!" She tries to yell without a smile but it keeps playing on her lips, a haphazard twitch, and she has to turn her face away to hide it and try to claw her way away, across the mattress, tearing the fitted sheet off the edges and stretching to reach the headboard, she squirms and twists and he laughs, a little, little notes, like a wind-chime.

The arm on her shoulders is around her waist and yanks and his other hand digs bloody fingers into the back of her knee.

He tugs her back onto his dick, snaps his hips forward while she bucks and digs her nails into his arm and tries to drag herself away with a hand at the edge of the mattress. His fingers yank her hair, wrap into around his fist, pull her head back, push it into the mattress when she tries to hit him in the face with the back of her skull. His mouth plants itself between her shoulders, there's a vicious cramp in her hip that worsens with every brutal thrust and she can't find anything to complain about.

The position makes everything feel different. It's all forward pressure even without his pelvis rocking against her clit with every stroke. She doesn't need it, there's a perfect fullness every time he sinks in, and she's too wet to do anything but accept the heavy intrusion of his body into hers.

There isn't much of a rhythm with him pulling on her waist and her body trying to heave itself away, off of him, some semblance of a game to see if she can get away without really wanting to but still trying as hard as she can and him playing along, maybe he isn't, it doesn't matter to her, she's getting fucked either way, they're still bloody, sweaty messes either way, it's still his dick, it's still him behind her either way.

She almost escapes the entrapment of his arms and hot hands.

Almost.

He punches her where a kidney should be and she screams. It hurts, throbs, it makes her diaphragm collapse into her lungs for a few moments, and she can't breath until she stills and slumps supplicant, on top of her arms while his hips slap obscenely into her lower back and ass.

There's an even pace, fast, hard and she cums after half a dozen rapid strokes. She cries out into the sheets with an open mouth and broken choke. His pattern of roughness falters and he drags himself in and out. In. Out. One. Two. Three. Four. He presses further, rocking, knowing exactly what she likes while she's all shaky legs and spasms, he's throbbing, she can feel it, heavy and cloying like blood and sweat.

He relents, rapt with his own need and throws himself shallowly into her body once, twice, in, out, in, out and he's twitching and filling her up with sticky, messy, liquid heat. She wraps her legs around his and he slumps on top of her, the spot he punched aches but it's alright because his weight is nice on top of her. Missed.

"Why do you let me do this to you?" She mumbles into the sheets, satisfied.

"Because it makes you happy." He mumbles into her skin, sleepy.

"If you said no I'd still love you."

"I know."

He rolls off and she rolls into his side, tracing patterns with her nails on his chest.

"I just really like doing it, but I don't need to do it. I feel manic, you know?"

"…I like taking care of you."

He smiles and plays with her hair.

"Is that what it is?"

"A little, I think. You need someone to take care of you. I want to take care of you."

"Maybe that's why I'm happier."

"Good."

"I don't need you to be sorry about things. I don't mind that you're a liar and a psychotic mother fucker."

"Thanks," he chuckles.

"I think I've developed a mental illness."

"Which one?"

His eyes are closed she puts her fingertips on them to see if she can feel the veins in them. He takes her hand away and kisses each finger.

"I don't know. Some type of narcissism, some subset of schizoid, something."

"We'll pick one out from one of your dad's textbooks."

"Promise?"

She sits up and his arms wrap around her waist to pull her back against his side.

"Yeah."

She smiles down at him, "Hey, Tate?"

"Yeah?"

She puts her knee into the hollow of his throat and holds a pillow over his face until he stops moving, she waits, and keeps holding, he shakes violently again as he goes still and silent for real and then she leaves.

His body, bloody and sweat soaked, the glisten of sex on his dick, hard again because asphyxiation can do that she knows, and his wide open dead eyes staring at the ceiling make her shiver shake, she leaves him and gets dressed.

She walks down the hallway, hungry and in need of a cigarette.

Moira glares at her from the bathroom, crouched over the tub, with her one good eye.

"Sorry," she says sheepishly.

"Have him bring the sheets down, I'll clean them later."

"We should keep them, bloody sheets are scary you know?"

"Oh yes, very haunted house."

"Sorry I made a mess."

"It's not my place to say, but, your mother is not going to be pleased."

"My mom has my dad to make her happy; who else do I have besides Tate?"

"This makes you happy?" Moira looks pointedly down at the bloody tub.

"Yeah. It does." Her tone is firm and concise.

"Then you two deserve each other."


A/N: Next up in my fanfiction endeavors I'm prompt filling for an AHS gift fic winner, writing a companion piece to ohyellowbird's "The Devil's Double", and at some point I've got to write some Tate perspective for ScarlettWoman710, not just by proxy but specifically, hmmm I've got a few ideas in mind. And now loads of fic recs for all of you! And I am hungry, what I wouldn't do for a double whooper right now, yeesh, must find sustenance.

Fic Recs:

[1000+ words]

-Feeds on Blood by onemoremistake: A wonderful little Violate drabble series, that's hot and angsty.

-Serve the Servants by ScarlettWoman710: A kind of prequel to the author's "The House Always Wins" it's Violet/Hugo smut but it's Violate to the core.

-One Year by ohyellowbird: Violet dealing with the fallout of her and Tate's relationship.

-The Earthquake Bird by violence and birdsong: Tate perspective and dirty, awful, absolutely wonderful inner workings of his mind.

-Dead Hearts by Kikume: There is one bit of dialogue in this that will stop your heart and you'll know it when you read it but it's the ultimate feeling of voyeurism and foresight or maybe hindsight you can get as a reader and it left me going "woah, well played"

-Unloved by mmonketslutt: Violet is perfectly bitter, Tate is perfectly boyish and a little bitter that she's bitter I suppose, I liked this. The final two lines are great.

-Breaking Your Own Heart by : Violet at the mental moment when she's past the point of "fuck it."

-Forgive your enemies, nothing annoys them so much by paceyourself: Forgiveness, awkward and wary and frazzled forgiveness. Hate by proxy but she still likes him and he still like her. Violate.

-That's What I'm Waiting For, Aren't I? by Mel like Mellow: Violet deals with being dead, with life after death and it's pretty much how it was before, but not. A taste of normalcy in the Murder House, there's grief and you feel it.

-i think i made you up inside my head by howlsatthemoon: Tate's alive, Violet's dead, The house makes him crazy, Everyone helps. Canon events worked in throughout in surprising, delightful ways.

-Cough into Your Sleeve by Mel Like Mellow: Little moments that could have happened in the time gaps between episodes and they all feel as real as anything in the actual show. Violate. Teenagers acting like teenagers.

-About a Girl by paceyourself: AU, Violet and Tate alive in 1994, a work in progress I am eagerly waiting for a new chapter of.

-Somebody to Love by stuckatschool: Funny. Tate is just a lonely ghost boy emphasis on the boy because boys are just funny, they say and think and do funny things. And he talks to the house and the house talks back? Kinda sorta maybe. This one makes me smile.

-The House Always Wins by ScarlettWoman710: The house is an entity in itself, there's a puppet master and this fic has the feeling that if you had a aerial view of it it'd be a chessboard, Violate in bloody, sweaty, depraved ways that make you reach for a cigarette.

-Kissing in the blue dark by Miss Gypsy Willow: Violate, the angsty kind, the horrible heart wrenching kind.

-The Devil's Double by ohyellowbird: TatexTate, or really TatexLangdon as he's called in this fic. Tate and himself, his fractured psyche, Tate and his evil mind twin. Made me start a companion piece continuation if that gives you a hint to how good it is.

-Have to be you by Chinese Bakery: A lot of my affection for Violate comes from the tension the smut the angst but this has a wider scope and just hooked me, it's subtle and soft and kind of makes you ponder it a little, I like that, it's got surprising things in it that make me reread over and over again, one such surprising thing being an absolutely excellent characterization of Hayden which is spot on, one-hundred percent. It's Tate perspective and it's equal mixes ironic, funny, boyish and crazy all at once, and all around lovely.

[Drabbles]

- things you wrote on the walls by iloveyou123: If you read none of my other recs, read this. It's required reading.

-all been washed in black by aloxi: Violet/Moira and it's kind of a mindfuck because the enigmatic "You see what you want to see" left me off kilter and with a lot of different emotions, but it's okay because it's nice not knowing exactly 'why' all the time. It just is.

-alive by .fairytale: AU-ish but not at the time it was written, Violate, hurt/comfort and really it can be read with a few different slants depending on how you view their relationship working.

Author Recs:

-Mel Like Mellow: Simple, lovely, true to life teenager Violet and teenager Tate, dead or alive.

-paceyourself: Dead, alive, AU, canon, they pretty much have Violate down pat.

-ScarlettWoman710: Hot smut, Angst like woah.

-Miss Gypsy Willow: Basically will tear out your goddamn heart but you'll love it, just angst and drama and wonderful

-Kikume: Brilliant newcomer, and I'm eager to see what they do next.

-violence and birdsong: Brilliant Tate perspective writing, he's crazy and sweet and fucked up all at once.