A/N: Hey guys! Feeling really melancholy today, which means a new chapter of this depressing fic. Posting at 4AM and unbeta'd so if it's awful, sorry!

Happy holidays!

Tate's bitter dismissal from their morning after haunts Violet. He'd never been angry with her like that before. It was a breaking point she'd begun to doubt existed with him. His devotion was bottomless, his love, bottomless. An ocean for her to dip into whenever the real world was too much.

Hearing the raw betrayal in his voice rattles her inside out.

She sleeps on the couch downstairs and wears the clean clothes stacked in the laundry room she hadn't gotten around to taking up. She doesn't want to go back to her room; the crime scene that it is, has been.

Her dad doesn't ask when he wakes her with the tv every morning; on some level, he must know.

She can't keep food down. There are mugs half-emptied of tea all over the house, but the fridge and cupboards are swollen.

When she hasn't ventured upstairs in over a week, phone dead on her desk, and still isn't sleeping through the night, Violet vows to make a change.

Hair tied up, in sweats and a v-neck, she pops up onto the kitchen counter with her phone, a pad of paper, and a steaming cup of earl grey.

Twenty minutes later, teeth marks up and down her pencil, she's made tentative plans to find an apartment with one of her friends, Allison, from the dorms before the spring semester starts.

She knows someone who can get her a job at the library on campus, but if she asks, Ben will fork out her half of the rent. His disappointment at losing her company is obvious, but he still tries for encouraging.

"That sounds great, Vi," he'd agreed, rubbing at her back when she'd told him, smiling for the first time in days.

Violet should have done this at the start. She was a fool to think living here with Tate would end any other way. It still hurts to breathe, knowing he's everywhere.

The next morning, she goes apartment hunting with Allison. They find the perfect place by late afternoon, a two bedroom close to campus with a laundry room attached.

That weekend, after two trips to Ikea and a meeting with their parents to co-sign on the place, Violet is standing in her room for the first time in two weeks.

Working fast, she's packed most everything she needs in two hours. There are towers of boxes out by the stairs for Ben to haul down, labeled in colored sharpies.

Sitting on her bare mattress, Violet flops back and lets loose a soft breath, touching absently at the heart-shaped locket around her neck.

With all the sudden excitement of moving, she's been distracted from what's driving her out of this room, house.

Violet wonders if he's here, if he even knows. She sits up, surveying empty shelves and hangers. In one side of her closet, alone, hangs the pink strapless dress from the last time they touched.

Something about seeing it there, limp and wrinkled in the weak light of morning, is triggering.

Out of nowhere, Violet is sobbing. She curls in on herself, cross-legged, and screams out into her hands.

He doesn't come like he would have, once.

She cries herself hysterical, taking huge gulps of air to keep from passing out, the air jagged and stinging on every breath she drags in.

"I'm sorry!" she chokes, gripping at the rail of her footboard and doing her level best to warp it. Her knuckles go white and she presses her forehead against cool iron between her hands when it doesn't give.

The room feels like it is folding in on itself. Despite her fisted eyes, he stares at her in every detail. He's in the wood grain of the floorboards, in the dried drips of paint at her windowsill, the brushed reflection of these bars.

She can hear him asking about her scars, and telling her that he likes birds. Laughing with her at videos on youtube, playing tic-tac-toe on her chalkboard.

This is why she has to leave. She is a prisoner here, trapped forever by this perfect, horrible boy she's made a prisoner too. A slave to her.

Violet doesn't pull herself together until the stairs creak under her father's footfalls.

"I'll meet you down by the car!" she rushes out, swiping at her face, forcing out one unsteady breath, two.

Her heart hiccups, beats wildly like a bird with a broken wing, but she gets up. She closes up the last box on her bed and hefts it into her arms.

She slips into her furred flats and leaves the room without anymore fanfare. Enough is enough.

But when she's out the door with the last of her things, and the movers are packing up the van, she can't help but wonder why he didn't come out to say goodbye.

Allison goads her into having their housewarming party that night, before they've even finished unpacking. Violet gets most of the kitchen done and the tv in the family room hooked up while Allison is out getting the drinks.

When she comes home with an armful of assorted vodkas and a value size bag of skittles, there are already people crowding inside and out onto the patio for a smoke.

Three Taste-The-Rainbow shots later, Violet is braving the cold to share a cigarette with a boy on the lacrosse team at school.

His name is Isaac and she kinda-sorta already knows him, one of Allison's friends from high school.

He has blonde hair in wired curls, but his eyes are blue not black. Downing another shot that's been set out on the patio railing, It's enough of an excuse for her to believe she's not out here because there's a resemblance.

"Want to give me the tour?" he asks, all troublesome eyebrows and secret smile.

Violet nods, because she really, really does.

Inside, they get corralled into a round of beer pong, another round of shots, and a game of King's Cup, but by the end of the night Violet and Isaac are a mass of sweaty limbs in her room.

They christen the apartment, twice.

Isaac fucks like he talks, sweet but with an edge. He doesn't go for doggie or confess a phony latex allergy. And he even wakes her up to let her know he's leaving. She cranes her neck for a polite goodbye kiss and is asleep again before he's even out the door.

Yeah, she can do this. She can go cold turkey and survive. Tate won't haunt her here.

Classes start up at the tail end of January, after a string of kickbacks that result more than once in Isaac spending over.

Ben visits and takes her out. She never goes home.

Violet takes all morning classes so that she can be home for lunch and back to campus for work after.

The library is easy. She spends evenings combing through the aisles with go-backs and is blissfully alone.

Overall, life is beginning to feel easy again. There are some days that are hard, when Ben calls sounding lonely or she's sent back with a book about birds or filled with Romantic poets. But with long nights of homework, and her friends, Violet starts wondering if happiness might be in the cards for her afterall.

Then she discovers it.

One weekend in February, bundled up in sweater leggings and one of the team sweatshirts Isaac left behind the night before, Violet is finally getting around to setting up her room.

She gets an amused, "Are you serious?" from Allison when she pulls out the disembodied doll head from her desk back home, but tucks it into her bookshelf anyway.

There's just two boxes left, some shirts that had fallen behind her headboard. She frowns. The shirts in the first box are all wrinkled and sour-smelling.

"Dirty!" she calls, and Allison magically appears in the hallway, laundry basket in hand. Violet makes a 3-pointer and two misses, and then turns back to her unpacking.

She peels open the flaps of her last box, the finish line in sight, and has to cover her mouth at what confronts her.

There, folded up neatly at the top of the pile, is one of Tate's sweaters, striped yellow and brown and just as threadbare as she remembers.

If Allison weren't in the next room, Violet would lose it. She wants to. Her body is shaking with the effort it takes to keep everything in. Instead she reaches out with one leg and toes her door closed, then carefully, like it might wither to dust in her hands, lifts the sweater up out of its box and presses her face into the knitted pattern.

"Tate," she wheezes silently, curling her fingers into the material of it, taking deep lungfuls of its scent. Like fresh dirt and Big Red and him.

She clutches it to her chest, fingers the stretched loose collar, and cries. Then, a moment later, surges up onto her feet to tear off Isaac's sweatshirt, burnt by the betrayal it represents.

"I'm so sorry," Violet whispers, walking back to sit with Tate's sweater on her bed. "I didn't know what else - I'm so sorry, Tate."

She falls asleep there, arms threaded into its sleeves, and wakes up exhausted after dark.

By the time her birthday party rolls around at the end of March, she's wearing the sweater to bed every night, but has started taking Isaac's calls again.

Violet's birthday ends up on a Thursday this year, so Allison makes the executive decision to throw her shindig the weekend before. "It's going to be perfect, princess!" she'd squealed, wielding dimples Violet has never been fit to deny anything.

She sets out a grey babydoll dress with a white collar and thigh-high black sweater socks that night while Allison flits around putting rollers in her hair.

They strut around the apartment in undies, answering texts about who's bringing drinks and arguing over where to order pizza.

Violet motions for Allison to zip her while on the phone with Isaac. "No gifts," she says sternly, but she's smiling, pulling on her socks and mary janes.

Everything goes great.

People come, they toast to her throughout the night, let her pick all the games. Isaac shows up with a bouquet of lilies and finds a vase in the kitchen. Pandora plays all her favorite songs, and Isaac even swings with her on the coffee table.

It's not until she's sidling up with a friend of a friend to do a line when things go to shit.

"What are you doing?" Isaac demands, suddenly there and looking pissed.

Violet blinks up at him owlishly, crooked smile stitched to her face. "What does it look like?"

He makes an irritated noise and brushes her perfect line down onto the carpet to a room of boos, and then yanks her up by the wrist and drags her back into her room.

"Are you fucking serious, Violet?"

Her high dips. She just stares up from where he's deposited her on the bed and shrugs.

It's not the response Isaac had been hoping for. A bitter laugh pops out of him and he sits down next to her.

"Are you a junkie?" he asks baldly.

She fits him with a cutting glare. "Fuck you." He doesn't know shit about her. And for the record, one line does not a junkie make.

He smiles, but it's tight and unhappy, and then spots the sweater in her sheets. 'What's this?"

Violet's eyes go wide and she tears it out of his hands. "Don't touch it!" She hugs it to her chest and whispers something unintelligible into the collar.

Isaac rolls his eyes and gets up from the bed. "And I thought I was fucked up." He walks over to the corkboard she's got hanging over her desk and lets his eyes roam over the pictures pinned there without ever really seeing any.

"Why aren't we dating?" he asks without turning back a minute later, his real reason for acting like a prize asshole. She hasn't let him call her his girlfriend yet.

Violet lays back to stare at the ceiling. She can't look at him with his hands in his hair like that.

She's silent, just picks at the thumb hole of Tate's sweater, and at some point Isaac leaves.

She doesn't come back out for the rest of the party. She kicks off her shoes and burrows under the covers and wishes Tate had a cellphone. She'd give anything to hear his hello.

The week doesn't go uphill from there. After a weekend long hangover, she bombs a midterm and sleeps through her alarm. Allison picks a fight with her about the dishes.

Tuesday she finds Isaac kissing some other girl with blonde hair and a mean smile. It's not a big loss, but stacked up on everything else, she cries.

She's bone-deep tired and feeling low, sick of college life and being away, so when Ben asks if he can cook her up something for her birthday dinner, she agrees.

Thursday is stubbornly cold, winter back for one last jibe before spring sets in.

Violet stays warm in layered thermals and tights under a knitted skirt and zip booties. Allison got her the shoes and skirt for her birthday. In varying shades of black just like your soul, the card had read, with a smiley face tacked on at the end. The box was left on the couch. Apparently their kitchen feud is over.

On the drive over, she frets a little over Tate, but rationalizes that it's just dinner. In and out, no time for any encounters with the undead.

There are balloons wrapped around the mailbox in her honor. She has to smile at that.

"Hi Dad." They share a warm hug and after toeing off her shoes, Ben ushers her inside.

He's prepared chicken parmigiana with broccoli and garlic bread, one of Violet's favorites. It's delicious.

They share a bottle of wine, even though she isn't legal yet, and catch up. Ben tells her that he's seeing someone, a young woman that works at the bank, and Violet talks a little about Isaac. Even though it's over, she doesn't want her dad worrying that there isn't someone out there taking care of her. She feels a little sad, but really, it had been unfair from the beginning. There will never be a clean slate with any boy she meets. Unaware, he will always be in competition.

After dinner, feeling soggy and content, Ben lets her pick out something to payperview. They watch Chronicle together and when the credits roll, Violet wakes her father and puts the empty popcorn bowl in the sink.

She's sleepy from the movie and still a little buzzed, so when he kisses the top of her head and tells her one last happy birthday, she warns him that she might just pass out on the couch and head home in the morning.

Alone in the house, feeling only a little guilty that she doesn't do this with her dad more often, Violet rolls down her tights and steps out of her skirt, folding them up on the coffee table. Then she's curling up and pulling the heavy blanket down off the back of the couch.

Allison texts asking if she'll be home and they chat a little and halfway through an episode of Friends, Tate walks into the living room.

All the air is sucked from her lungs.

"Hi Violet," he says quietly, not quite looking at her, and with a trembling hand, she motions for him to have a seat.

He moves to the armchair, but doesn't sink in, just sits tensely at the edge.

She turns down the tv until it's nothing but white noise, and smiles, but it's weak. "Hi Tate."

"Happy Birthday."

Her smile grows. It's good to hear his voice. She bows her head in thanks. Small talk should come after, and it's there at the tips of their tongues, but she's content with silence. They sit together in the blue glow of the television and just look.

He's just the same. A sweater and jeans. Blonde and messy-haired. Violet wonders if she looks any different.

As though he's heard her thoughts, he says, "Your hair's gotten so long," marvels at it.


"How was your birthday?"

She frowns, shakes her head. "Pretty shitty."

"I'm sorry."

The air between them is charged, but it isn't frantic anymore, just a low hum that sits in her ears. And Tate isn't reaching for her, or crying, he's just there. Watching her through the dark, wanting to hear about her life.

"Are you..."

"Seeing anybody?" she finishes for him, "no. Well, I was, but it was never serious."

He doesn't collapse at the news, just nods solemnly and fidgets with his hands in his lap.

Violet's pulse is scary fast and her stomach feels tight, but she's glad he's here. She's missed him, wants to tell him so.

"I miss you," she says flat out, like she can't keep the words in, and he makes that noise, the tiny broken hum he'd made when she first told him she loved him all those years ago. It's like watching a knick spider out over a windshield. He's trying so hard to be good for her, but it's too much. She knows.

He smiles, tight-lipped, and she can't take it. He's young and dead and she's young and alive, but they've got love so deep for each other that maybe it doesn't even matter. Maybe it will never matter enough. She won't ever snuff out the flame he sparked. It will lick at her insides forever, raging and untamed. And growing up while he stays the same will be hard, but this is hard. Staying away from him is too hard.

No more substitutes.

Without a word, Violet gets up and drops the blanket. She carries herself across the rug to Tate on shaky legs and folds down into his lap when he opens his arms for her.

"I always miss you," she whispers against his hair, letting the first tears fall now that she's here, and he hugs her to his chest.

"Me too," he says, and his voice is thick but he isn't crying. His hands are starfished out across her back and he drops his face to hide it in her shoulder, but he isn't crying.

Violet holds onto him like he might disappear. She digs her fingers into his curls and hugs his waist with her knees. Presses her lips all over the side of his face, anywhere she can reach, grabs at his sweater to check that he's real. "Why'd you let me go?" she cries, picking his face up in her hands, forcing him to look at her.

His eyes are so sad now, red and shining, but he just shrugs, looking tired. "I had to."

She cries harder, shoulders shaking with it, and cinches both arms around his neck to keep them touching everywhere.

Violet has a world out there, a life with friends and teachers, goals. Tate has Violet, that's all. His world walks and talks, and can leave. Has left.

He should hate her for how she's treated him. And she's been so scared that he might. That their last fuck up together broke the spell. But he's still hugging her, whining out breathy noises into her neck, voice breaking on them, and she knows. He could never.

They remain entwined on the couch until Violet is sniffles instead of sobs. Tate tucks back her hair and she gives him her eyes.


She smiles, gaze snagged on his mouth. "Hi," she whispers. And then they're kissing and it's so easy. Slow and burning, she opens up for him and sucks at his tongue, rubbing circles against the skin behind his ears.

His hands smooth up and down her sides, restless. She bites at his jaw, his ear, the angle of his adam's apple.

They're feasting, but it's reverent. Each touch and every sound is recorded. It feels like the last time.

Violet stands between Tate's knees and shimmies out of her panties before helping with his jeans, and when he's out of them and his boxers, hard and leaking for her, Violet piles back onto his lap.

She sinks down onto him, unable to wait and tease, and whispers, "I'm sorry," into his slackened mouth, gripping onto his shoulders for leverage. He's watching her through slitted eyes and shakes his head, bites his fingers into her hips and guides her, faster, more.

Her knees are rubbed raw against the cushions and their thighs are slippery with sweat, but it's perfect.

They're kissing when she comes, breaking away from his mouth with a bitten cry, pleasure shocking through her as Tate rides through it, juddering up into Violet one last time before his own orgasm hits.

After, he makes to move them, but she makes an unhappy sound. "Please," Violet sighs, rolling her hips. She just wants to feel him for a little while longer.

He laughs quietly and kisses her again, her cheek, her chin, her lips.

In the morning, they're curled up together in a tangle of blankets on the couch.

Violet's alarm is so unwelcome, she wants to chuck it out into the foyer.

She slips out from under his arm and dresses quietly, only waking him when she's pulling on her last sock. "I'm gonna be late for class," she whispers through a smile, stroking the backs of her fingers down the edge of his face. Tate's nose wrinkles and he turns into the cushion with a grumble. But a second later, he's up, trailing Violet over to the door.

He pulls her in for a kiss by her scarf and checks to be sure her bag is buttoned.

She hums against his mouth and doesn't pretend this was a mistake. She tries to soak in one last embrace and holds him there for a few seconds too long in the doorway. Why does letting go hurt this much?

"I wish I could take you with me," she confesses, mouth at his ear. He stiffens, but relaxes just as quickly, soothing her with a hand on her back.

"Call me sometime," he says, and his voice wobbles. He nods over at the phone though, and she looks.

"Yeah, yeah I will."

He lets her go then, but has to give her a nudge off the porch. "Go," he says, "don't wanna be late."

She wipes her face off in the bend of her elbow and laughs. She could give a shit. But still, she goes, with one last lingering kiss, she goes.

Tate waves from the door when she's starting up the car, and her heart splinters. But she's coming back. For visits, and maybe, after graduation, if her heart isn't set on anything else, Violet will move back into Murder House.


A/N: Thanks for reading! And Violet's friends were definitely not characters from teen wolf (spoiler alert: yes they were). This might be the last chapter of this. I kind of resolved it! Love you all! xx