The adrenaline and intensity of the past evening and the fact that despite it all she did truly love the theater - loved being on stage, loved the exhilaration of performing, loved seeing the excitement in the audience and feeling the joy and pride that came from being the cause of that excitement - all of those things had combined to get Ivy Lynn through the performance tonight, but now the show was ending.

The show may not have been over, she could still hear the final notes of the final number, but the audience was already cheering and that's when it hit her. That finale, those cheers could have been, no, should have been hers, but they weren't and would never be. And now that she had the time to fully process everything that had happened and what it all meant, it overwhelmed her. Ivy reached for her purse and opened the bottle that she had been looking for.

She stared at her palm and the large pile of little white pills sitting there, and it scared her. She hadn't meant to pour out that many of them. The dosage sitting in her hand right now would kill her. It was the dosage for people who truly wanted to die and she wasn't quite there yet. She was closer to that point than she'd have liked to admit, but still, she wasn't there yet. She still wanted to live. She reached for the bottle again and poured back most of the pills. There, she thought, looking at her hand again. That was a dosage that wouldn't kill her, the dosage that she wanted. The proper dosage for people who merely hated their lives, for people who wanted to escape their lives, but not end their lives.

She had a few minutes to herself here, at least, before everyone else came backstage and before the curtain call so she threw the pills in her mouth and swallowed, making a face as they slid down her throat. She felt a little lightheaded, but she thought that was simply the effect of her raw nerves and raw emotions, not the pills. She knew that she had about an hour before they really kicked in. That was enough time for her to get herself back to her hotel room so that nobody would see her while she was under the influence. Enough time to say hello and exchange a few pleasantries with everyone before claiming that she didn't feel well and slipping away quietly before the cast and crew afterparty.

Not that anyone there would miss her much there. They might say it was too bad she couldn't make it, but they wouldn't truly miss her presence. Not even Tom and Sam. It wasn't that they no longer cared about her, but just they were both so busy testing out their new relationship that they didn't have much attention to spare for her. She didn't resent them for it though.

No, that wasn't true. More accurately, it was a gigantic lie. She absolutely did resent them for it, even if she wasn't proud of that fact. She couldn't help but wonder if Tom would have fought harder for her, would have insisted that she and not Iowa be Marilyn, if he hadn't been dating anyone. She wondered if that would have made a difference in what had happened tonight. She knew that she should suppress these thoughts, bury them so deep inside of her that they would never come up. And she had tried to do that. But all that meant was that whenever she faltered and they came up anyways, a wave of self-loathing and shame at her selfishness joined the regret and bitterness those thoughts fostered by themselves. Still, for all of her faults, Ivy was a good enough friend that she could fake a smile - no, more than that, she was a good enough friend that she could smile and mean it - when she saw them together. She still cared enough about them that she was genuinely happy for them. Even if it was a wistful, bittersweet type of happiness.

She smiled at that last thought, saw herself reflected in the mirror, and smiled again. Were the pills taking effect already? She doubted it, not after only a few minutes, which made her smile once more. So there were still shreds of non-chemically-induced happiness left for her after all. Good.

The applause had died down by now and the company would soon be returning to the dressing room. Ivy dried her tears, put on her smile, and stood up, ready to complete her escape.

There would be more rehearsals in New York before Bombshell actually opened on Broadway, and she had spent every waking moment since she'd returned from Boston dreading them. But she was as trapped in to playing this role as Marilyn was in to any of hers. Sure, she could always leave for another show, but the chances of finding one that would take her were infinitesimally small. And if she got herself kicked off of this one, they'd disappear altogether. So when she put the pill bottle in her purse before leaving her apartment for the rehearsal studio, she resisted the urge to take any. They could be her source of relief after rehearsal, but she'd have to get through it first on her own.

Still, even accounting for her phenomenally low expectations, it wasn't as bad as she thought it would be. Derek had been blessedly civil to Ivy throughout. Good. Any admonishment from him would have only reminded her and everyone else of their, well, their whatever-they-had. It was hard to think of it as a real and meaningful relationship now, even if it had sure felt like one then. Yeah, she'd half-assed her way through most of the day but everyone seemed to understand why her heart just wasn't in it today, that she'd just had it repeatedly broken, and refrained from commenting on it. Either that or as a chorus girl she just wasn't important enough to notice. It was awkward, yes, but that was it. And then there was Karen, who had arrived at the studio at almost the same time as she had, and who had stared at her for a second with a look of utter contempt before turning away, as if little miss perfect couldn't even bear the sight of someone like her. She wondered if Karen would try and use her newfound stardom to have Ivy removed. Well, there was one thing she could do and she did owe Karen an apology.

Rehearsal ended and she saw her chance. "Karen? I just wanted to say that I'm sorry..."

"For what? For fucking my fiance?" Karen had said those words quietly, calmly, but everyone had not only heard them, but stopped in shock and turned, partially from the novelty of hearing Iowa curse for the first time, but mostly just to watch the impending showdown. "For trying to fuck with my head before the show? Or for..."

"Look, I'm sorry about that. I...well...I mean..." Since when do I stammer, Ivy wondered, as she continued to try and explain herself. "...I just thought you'd want to know, and ... um ... I didn't know..."

"Bullshit. So I'm from Iowa. It doesn't mean I'm an idiot. You knew exactly who and what you were doing when you slept with Dev."

"Okay, fine," she admitted, "I made a mistake with Dev, I know that. My boyfriend had just decided to replace me. Not just in the show, but in his bed. I was upset. I was in a bad place. And then I saw you. I was hurt and I lashed out. People do that sometimes. I shouldn't have, but I did."

"'You're always in a bad place, Ivy. It's always poor you this and life isn't fair that. Four months ago, I would have given anything to trade places with you. You get to do something you love and that you're good at. But..."

"Not good enough at, apparently," Ivy interrupted bitterly.

"You know what?" asked Karen sarcastically. "I am so sorry that you've spent so long on Broadway. I'm sorry that nobody agrees with you that just because your mom was a star and just because you'll sleep with the director that you're entitled to the part. But that's not my fault. I've done nothing to you. Nothing."

"You know nothing," fumed Ivy. "Nothing. Nothing about me, nothing about the theater, nothing about life, nothing about anything. And for your information, my mother..."

"Fine, whatever, so your mom's a bitch. That's not my fault either."

"No, of course not. Nothing's ever your fault. Nothing ever happens because of anything you did. Don't you get it, Iowa? That's the fucking point," spat Ivy. "You don't do anything, you don't work for anything, you've never had to struggle for anything. You've never earned anything. Never. You, you just go out and expect things to just fall in to your lap and somehow, some way, they always do. You don't know what it's like to want something more than anything else in the world, to know that you'll do anything for it, to know that you're good enough for it and you're right for it, only to be told that you can't have it, over and over again. And then when you think you've finally, for once, caught that break that you've worked for your whole life and that you know you deserve, it gets snatched away from you and then dangled in front of you, just out of your reach. And then snatched away again and given to..."

"Stop. Just stop. I don't care what you think, because I earned this, standing on my own two feet and not on my back. I did not steal Marilyn from you and I certainly did not steal Derek. He asked me first, remember? You lost them all by yourself. And even if I did steal them, you were being turned away up and down Broadway long before I ever got here. So maybe you should stop wallowing in your self-pity and stop blaming me and realize that maybe everyone's rejected you because they don't want to be around someone who's petty, conniving, jealous, and entitled."

Ivy turned and exited the studio, surrendering the argument without a response. She just couldn't take it anymore. When had Iowa grown such sharp claws? But worse was the realization that if Karen did try and get her booted from the show, she couldn't say that she didn't understand exactly why. She couldn't say she didn't deserve at least some of Karen's hostility, and most maddening of all, she couldn't say that Karen wasn't at least partially right. She'd turned herself into a pariah thanks to Heaven on Earth and all of her desperate ploys to get Marilyn back had backfired on her. Every single one. Each had just served to strengthen and to temper Karen and forge her into the star that Derek seemed to see. She still had her fury at Iowa, but Ivy Lynn had realized that she really was her own worst enemy.

She sat down in the hallway and began to sob quietly.