This is, like, really shitty. Everything I write has been really shitty lately. Just because I realized that I never really mention it in the beginning, this is ten years later. I don't know if that fact is really required to understand because I'm tired and every word that comes out of my mouth is shit and — ok. Go read everyone else's writing because everyone in this fandom is so gold and I'm just sitting here awkwardly trying to spit out something mediocre.

x

secondhand smoke

i'm glad that you can forgive / only hoping
as time goes / you can forget

x

It's a macabre version of the games of hide-and-seek you used to play when you were little and thought you were invincible.

x

The problem with Violet is that she's spent so much time trying not to give a shit that she's forgotten how to do anything but hurt herself. And when there's blood spilt on the bathroom floor, she calls the only person who'll know how to make her feel again.

"Tate."

It's cruel, almost. This little back-and-forth they have going on.

"Tate?"

Because she knows that no matter how many times she sends him back, he'll always come running.

"Tate, where are you?"

He's there — it's all he knows. Wide black eyes, mussed blond hair, desperation in his stance. He rushes forward with the slightest bit of hesitation because he knows that he'll only be able to touch her for a moment.

She lets him, anyway. It's a new way of getting off.

"You promised," he accuses, holding her wrist in his hand delicately. He reaches for a towel discarded in the sink and mops the copper sliding down her forearm.

She takes a lazy drag of her cigarette with her uninjured hand. "So did you," she shoots right back, smoke wafting out of her mouth in the shape of each finger-pointing word. "If you love someone, you should never hurt them." She quotes his own words back to him like one of her depressing satirical novels. Because the only difference between a suicide and a martyrdom really is the amount of press coverage.

He's crying. It's pathetic in all the ways she can count off her fingers. She wants to wipe those tears off his face with the back of her hand. She wants to knee him in the gut until he spit up blood. She wants to tattoo him with bruises the color of her name, maim him with slices that match the ones on her wrist. The problem is that they'll heal within days, sometimes hours, and she'll never get to live another life. Neither will her parents, or Chad and Patrick.

"Go away, Tate," she puffs out in frustration.

She's alone again. It's the only way she knows how to be.

x

Just to fuck with him a little bit — she practices her invisibility every time he's occupying the same room. She knows that he knows because he's twisting and turning with every step, feeling her weight on his shoulders, her breath on his skin. It's the best kind of torture, and she's a master at it.

Sometimes she'll fade in and out of visibility, and he'll swipe at the air in front of him uselessly. He tastes of desperation and smells like defeat. It's her absence that is his cologne.

x

She's taken to writing ironic poetry on strips of paper that she finds:

the air around us is thick with
apathy & the pain of the inno
cent / we are all suicidal ghosts
just catholics trapped in a hell
we believed in faithfully / fuck
you tate i hope you read this

She never claimed she was a Byron.

x

Every once in a while she finds a crumpled piece of paper with the chickenscratch of someone who's forgotten how to care.

I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I deserve to burn for every eternity that exists.

She singes them with the tips of her cigarettes.

He never claimed to be a Keats, but she can blame him for the way the inside of her cheek tastes when she bites it too hard.

x

She's forgotten the meaning of a dream, but the nightmares are so vivid that she'd give anything to escape their iron grip, just for another sleepless night.

Which, of course, means —

"Tate."

And, like magic, he's conjured himself to the foot of her makeshift bed. He's curved in on himself, staring at the floor, his face pale and his eyes a sharp contrasting black. He doesn't even bother to meet her stare anymore. He waits to be sent away like a good little prisoner.

She swallows. Her throats dry, but she treats the house like a barren desert. She's a thief, exiled to the Sahara. She doesn't deserve to quench her thirst. "Come here."

He crawls into the pile of sheets and pillows that she sleeps on in the attic since her bed had been taken away to make room for possible buyers. She takes him into her arms and they curl in toward each other, huddling for the kind of warmth that only another human body can provide.

Suddenly, they're children again. Because even if he's been dead for fifty-something years and she for just a decade, children is all they really are.

"If I could dream, you know it'd be about you," he admits, his voice scratchy. With each word his hot breath wafts to her scalp like a soft lullaby. He pulls her closer, tucking his chin on top of her head. She nuzzles into the warm space between his chest and neck.

He opens his mouth to talk again, desperate to say the right thing that will bring him back into her good graces, but she shushes him gently. "Let's not ruin it," she pleads, not harshly, but honestly. "Let's just…be. Let's just be for a while."

Because he'll do anything to make her smile, he shuts up and loses kisses in her hair. He relishes each breath that she releases into his shirt as the rising and falling of her chests evens out.

They are for moments. They are for eternity. They have all the time in the world to be.

And for a chilly Los Angeles night, she lets him love her. Because children is all they really are.

x

He wakes up with the space beside him cold and unoccupied. He doesn't even panic — he accepts his fate. He's sinned, and she's no priest in a confession box. He deserves every sting of her abandonment. He deserves every inch of the space between them.

Her voice startles him out of his painful reverie. "God, you sleep way too much," she complains from the other side of the attic. "It's your move."

He moves over to sit across from her, a chess board before them. "Sorry," he mumbles.

"Yeah. Just play something already." She presses a button on her iPod, and from her speakers blares Morrissey's moping lyrics.

His fingers move over his pieces as he contemplates his move. "Be patient," he teases. "We have forever to play this game."

She doesn't smile back at him, but she's letting him be there. And that's enough.

x

He doesn't see her for a month before she calls for him again in the early morning.

"Vi?" he calls out, confused, as he tries to find the source of her voice, shouting his name.

The knife comes across his throat so unexpectedly that he doesn't fall to his knees until a few seconds pass and there's already a puddle of his blood on the floor at his feet. She's holding the knife that kills him and it's only fair.

She's crying. "You killed my mother," she whimpers. "She could've gotten out of here. She could've been happy, and you killed her."

He's bleeding out so quickly that he can't even get syllables out.

"You made me believe that you loved me," she sobs. "And now I'm stuck here and I don't know what to believe."

He tries to mouth the words but he can only choke on his own blood. He tries to stop the bleeding just to comfort her, but his limbs have begun to feel numb.

"I hate you," she whispers, but he's limp on the floor by the time she says it.

She throws the knife out the window and takes a shower to clean the blood off her hands.

The line between guilt and justice is nonexistent.

x

It's only coincidence that they find each other on Halloween night, but also not really.

She looks like such a stereotypical ghost, sitting alone by the bonfire with her nearly translucent skin, that he has to fight the urge to laugh. It's a feeling he hasn't had since she was still alive.

"All that we see or seem," she murmurs when he sits in the sand beside her, "is but a dream within a dream."

They look out across the dark horizon together. The waves rush against the sand, foamy and black. It's like a night they shared a long time ago, but the memories are blurry. They tend to do that.

"Edgar Allen Poe." She turns to him. Her face tries desperately to shine, to be happy for once, but her eyes betray her. They're blank and empty and — lonely.

He watches the grains of sand slip through the spaces between his fingers.

"This isn't me forgiving you," she announces to the salty air. "I don't know if I'll ever be able to do that. I'm sorry, but I'm not. I'm not going to apologize for it, either."

He breathes in for a long time. The coast tastes good on his tongue; it's a feeling he's forgotten.

"I just don't think it's fair, you see." She stumbles over her explanation but keeps on marching through anyway. "It's not fair that everyone gets to be happy and have someone to tell things to and kiss and fuck, but I don't. It might not seem like it but I want to be happy too. And I don't care if it's selfish or wrong or stupid. I thought about it a lot and you're the only person in this house who can do that. And I'm tired of living for other people. I'm dead, for fuck's sake, and I'm going to kiss you and I'm not going to feel guilty for it."

He looks at her. He knows the color of forever. It's the hazel brown of her eyes.

"This isn't me forgiving you," she repeats when she meets his gaze.

He pulls her close so that her teeth stop chattering. "Violet, you deserve to be happy, more than the rest of them."

"I know," she sighs. She sounds like a child who's been forced into growing up too fast. Exhausted and defeated. "I just wish I knew how."

x

He wakes up to the sound of her breathing hard, her tears dripping off her nose and onto their shared pillow.

"I promise, someday I'll be able to — " She shakes her head vigorously, and shrugs her sleeve across her eyes. She sucks on the cigarette clamped in her other hand.

He feels it coming, but he doesn't protest.

"Go away, Tate."

x

She'll call him when he's ready. He's naïve enough to believe that.

And he knows that no matter what day she does it, he'll never deserve it.