So far, my summer has been dreadfully lonely, and so I'm spending it here. I've been working on this piece for a while, and I'm not too sure how it turned out. It's basically the little moments that I feel like we missed in the progression of Violet and Tate's relationship on the show. I think that, when you cut out the murder and the insanity, they have that wonderful ooey gooey teenager-y first love romance, and that's what I was trying to show, up until the end when everything gets sad, as we all know. Each moment doesn't always take place in the episode listed, but it's around that timeline, so it makes it a little easier to follow, except for the last tidbit, which would be decades after the first season.
the finish line
take me to your heart
for it's there that I belong
It's early morning and the sun's barely risen. Her mom's still asleep and her father's out for a run already, so Violet ventures out into the backyard, searching for a place to have a safe smoke.
With her Marlboros and her lighter cradled in one hand, she explores the lavish backyard, filled with trees and the Los Angeles sunlight filtering through the shade. She can't seem to find anywhere sheltered enough to be safe from view of the house or the neighbors, but the door to the basement is calling her…
"Aren't you scared?"
She spins around so fast that a few cigarettes fall out of her pack and her lighter lands on the ground next to them. A blush creeping up her neck, she's relieved to find that it's only Tate. Tate. "Well, yeah, you scared the shit out of me! Fuck you." She picks up her things and stuffs them into the pocket of her cardigan.
"Besides that." He falls into an easy pace beside her, admiring the baby blue sky. "Your house is creepy as hell. Don't you ever get freaked out? Hanging out here all by yourself."
Violet rolls her eyes. "That's bullshit. I don't believe in ghosts."
Tate grins. "You probably should."
"I guess I probably should be creeped out, though, seeing as pervy guys like you seem to love hanging out in my house, waiting to catch me alone." She stops, and he goes on a few steps before turning to look at her. "Why are you here, anyway?"
His hands find their way into his pockets. "I've got an appointment with your dad."
Violet raises an eyebrow questioningly. "At five o'clock in the morning?"
"I like to be early." He shrugs and winks at her. "Hey, Vi? You don't need to go in the basement. If you go back there, where the trees are thick," he points to somewhere behind her, "no one will see you."
She turns around to look in the direction of his finger, and when she turns again he's disappeared around the corner, and she's left alone with her cigarettes and her heart beating fast.
The sound of rocks against her window shakes Violet out of her sleep, which hadn't been going very well, anyway.
Nervously, she makes her way over to part the curtains, unsure of what she'll find waiting outside for her. Instead, she breathes a sigh of relief when Tate's familiar face greets her, smiling. She motions at him to wait before she pulls on a thicker sweatshirt and tip-toes through the house, finally escaping through the back door and meeting him underneath her window like some teenage girl in a cheesy romance novella.
"Hey," Tate says as she walks toward him, his bravado gone. In its place is a shy, scruffy boy, kicking at the dirt with the toe of his red Converse. "I, uh, I just wanted to make sure that you guys were okay from the other night."
The smell of bleach hits her nose and he's wearing the same shirt from that night. "Yeah, we're as okay as we can ever get, I guess." She pauses, and then sits down on the concrete floor, staring up at him. "Thanks, Tate."
He at least has the decency to duck his head and blush. "I was around," he says. "It's not like I could've just stood there and ate popcorn while I watched you murdered."
"But you could've," she replies. They stay like that for a moment — his head tilted to the side like an amused puppy, her neck craned to watch his reactions. She likes the way he smiles. Slowly, not all at once. It spreads across his face until it's a full-grown dimpled grin. "So, thanks."
His lips part a little and he looks at her hard, like he's going to say something, but all that falls out is a half-hearted, "Yeah."
She sits there for a second, and then yawns, standing up. "Good night, Tate," she says awkwardly, unsure of what else to say. "I'll see you around, yeah?"
He doesn't say anything, and she turns to avoid his steady gaze. Starting back up the path to the back door, she hears his voice desperately behind her. "Violet, wait."
"What is it?" She turns around and finds he's much closer than she expected. His eyes are onyx and his smile is white, and he grins that slow and seeping smile as he leans into her.
He kisses her the way he smiles. At first it's so soft that she doesn't even know it's happened until it's happened, and suddenly she's finding her hands curling into the back of his head, his hands finding their way to the curve of her waist, deepening the kiss until the rustle of a bird in the trees knocks them apart.
She's light-headed and he's blushing and suddenly Los Angeles is kind of beautiful.
"I'm really glad I didn't let you get your ass killed," he tells her with a chuckle.
He doesn't even cringe when all she wants to do for the afternoon is play her collection of records by The Smiths and play cards and drink Earl Grey. Instead, he lies across her rug on his back and asks her if she has any threes as she hums to the tunes.
She could swoon, but she doesn't, because it's stupid.
"You know my mom's trying to get my dad to sell the house?" This wakes him up a little bit, making him sit up straight and try not to spit out his tea.
"Yeah, I know, it's stupid as hell. I mean, they dragged me all the way over here when we were doing fine in Boston, and now they're just going to give it all up because of some random break-in. God. My parents are total cowards." She hands him her three.
He lays his pair on the rug, his hands shaking. "Well, what are you going to do about it?" he asks. In an effort to disguise his panic, he teases, "Kill them?"
Violet laughs. "I just might. You got any sixes?"
"Shit. Anyway, I told my mom I'd run away. Pack my bags and just make sure they never find me." He's quiet for a while, concentrating on his hand. "We could run away together, catch a bus to Aberdeen and pay homage to Kurt." Right when she says it she regrets it, feeling the familiar blush crawl up her cheeks and burn the tips of her ears.
To her relief, he smiles. "I'd love that."
She grins back at him, before nodding to his cards. "You still playing, or what?"
His cheeks turn pink and he looks back down. "You got any — fuck this." And he drops his cards onto the floor and leans over and kisses her, right there.
It's still awkward teenage fumbling for now, but they're getting there. It's weird and it's unfamiliar, but Violet can finally see the appeal of 80's teen movies as she finally experiences the feel of a boy's body against hers, her hand lost in his hair and his grip tight on her hips.
He pulls away and lays his head right next to his lap, staring up at her blank ceiling. She gets the hint and lies down, scooting so they're shoulder-to-shoulder. "After we stop in Aberdeen we could buy a car and go on a road trip." He turns to look at her. "I've always wanted to do that, you know."
"Me, too. We could live on stolen provisions from gas stations across the country."
Tate laughs, loudly and carelessly. "I really like you, Violet," he admits, turning on his side to get a better view of her profile.
Violet thinks about the boys at her new school, with their Abercrombie shirts and expensive cars. She thinks about how they don't even know who Morrissey is. "I like you too, Tate."
halloween, pt 1
Halloween is coming soon and she's facing a familiar struggle: dress up, or stay at home and give out candy to douche bag kids?
"When's the last time you went trick or treating?" she asks Tate, who's sitting at the foot of her bed, flipping through her copy of Catcher in the Rye too fast to really be reading it.
He doesn't respond right away, and she likes that about him — them. There's no rush. It's all lazy afternoons and dream-like conversations. "I can't remember," he confesses, folding the corner of the page and setting the book on the floor. He crawls toward her on all fours before curling up against her, his curly mop of bangs against her shoulder. "I was probably five or six. My mom always considered it a hassle and after a while I guess I just stopped bitching about it."
Violet frowns, wrinkling her brow. "Well, that's shitty. I always loved Halloween," she says. "I had the best costumes back in Boston. Always homemade, but they were way better than the overpriced generic ones at the Spirit store."
"Yeah?" Tate kisses the bony side of her shoulder, smiling against skin. "What was your costume last year?"
She blushes a pretty pink, fluttering over her fragile cheekbones. "I was Margot, from The Royal Tenenbaums." She flushes even deeper at Tate's raised eyebrow. "I know, I know! But come on. I'd watched the movie for the first time and I thought she rocked. You can't tell me that if you'd gone as Richie it wouldn't have been awesome."
"No, it's just that I've never seen it," he explains. At her blank look, he replies, "Have you ever seen Pulp Fiction?"
Violet runs out to the nearest Blockbuster while Tate waits at home, making tea and popping popcorn. When she comes back, she shoves the DVD into the player and they lay back on the sofa, feeding each other kernels.
"Wes Anderson, huh?" he wonders aloud. "Never heard of him."
She watches him, mostly, since it's the fourth time she's seen the movie. He twitches his jaw a lot when he's thinking, and when he laughs, he really laughs, with his head thrown back and his mouth wide open at the littlest things. She likes that he doesn't care if he laughs too loud or too often and that he bites his lip and holds her hand too tight when Richie tries to kill himself.
When the credits are rolling and it's dark outside, he turns and kisses her without a word, until her back is on the cushions and his hand is holding the back of her head, careful not to bump it on the armrest.
"What was that for?" she asks him as he pulls away with a sigh.
"Nothing, you just have good taste in movies."
halloween, pt 2
Her hand's been hanging empty by her side for a while now, and when he finally reaches down to grip it in his, firm and confident, she can't help but smile in spite of herself.
"Where are you taking me?"
Tate groans dramatically and lets go of her hand to throw his arm around her shoulder, tugging her close to him as they keep walking along the dark LA streets. "For the last time, shh. You'll love it when we get there, I promise. Trust me."
"Yeah, and I'm sure Ted Bundy's victims trusted him too," Violet gripes, but doesn't hesitate to keep walking alongside.
He laughs, his pace beginning to slow. "It's your own fault for going with me in the first place, so don't blame me if you're incapable of making good choices."
"Whatever. Come on," she insists when he stops suddenly. She tugs on his hand and steps forward, only for her feet to step off the sidewalk and into the soft welcoming arms of the sand gathering around the toe of her shoe, seeping in to greet her. Her mouth falls open at the sight of it.
The moon waits at the end of the earth, where the water meets the black horizon. The beach looks as if it had been made for them, waiting for them the second Violet's gaze had met Tate's in the bathroom mirror. The water ebbs and flows against the shore violently, crashing against rocks and grains of sand as if it has something to be angry for. There's a slight breeze and sheer clouds too far away to cast a chill. Violet's hand slowly falls away from Tate's as she hugs her arms around herself and feels small.
"Wow," she breathes.
Tate laughs under his breath and runs his hand through his hair to tug at the back of his locks. "Do you like it?" he asks nervously. "It's my favorite place in all of LA. I've never really taken anyone here before. My mom would always take me and my sister here because it would almost always be empty, and I usually come here when I want to think or just be alone or — "
When he looks up, Violet is long gone. She's only a silhouette by the seashore. As he steps onto the sand and nears closer to her, he sees that she's on her knees and her sleeves are rolled up, her hands cupped to catch the seawater as it meets her halfway, dampening her fingers as well as the sand. He lets out a sigh of relief when she turns her head to catch his eye with a wide smile and sparkling eyes.
"How's the water?"
Her lips stretch to accommodate the girth of her smile. "It's perfect," she insists, and it's not quite, but it's the closest they'll ever get.
Saltwater tears have mixed with fresh bathwater as she tugs off her heavy clothes and balls them up to put inside her laundry hamper.
The mirror greets her with smudged eyeliner and hollowed-out eyes. She looks half-dead. She'd been half-dead just a few minutes ago. The sound of her retching is still playing on repeat in the crevices of her mind and it's almost enough to make her run back to the toilet, but she doesn't, because there's a big chance that he's still in there, and he's the last person she wants to hold her hair back.
Instead, she rubs away the smeared makeup and stands in front of the mirror, bony and naked and terrified of what, she doesn't know.
Violet puts on layers of sweats over leggings and baggy sweatshirts and scrunched-up patterned socks until she can barely remember what his cold fingertips had felt like against her soaked body.
Her hair is still a little damp and her skin is still clammy. She's not sure if the goosebumps are from the cold water or the boy who'd turned it on. But with a heavy heart, she crawls into her bed, suddenly exhausted.
The prospect of sleep is still far away, however. Unable to let herself close her eyes, Violet reaches over her pillow to snatch the book about birds on her bedside table, flipping it open.
She's greeted by brilliant pictures of parrots and nightingales, hummingbirds and peregrine falcons. They're beautiful and colorful and the entire book has a dreamlike quality about it, with its worn pages and dog-eared corners. She rubs her hand over a sentence where the ink had smeared. She wonders how had loved this book enough to make it look so tired. She has a name in mind.
"I like birds, too."
She listens to him give his spiel. It's only fair. And by the end of it she has tears in her eyes, and the worst thing about his brand of headfuck is that she's never sure of the cause of her emotions anymore. She's completely confused about whether or not the tears are for sadness or for fear, and she's never felt more insane.
He crawls into her bed and she feels sick and safe at the same time. The last thought on her mind is that she can't quite remember how it was that she'd gotten into her room in the first place…
Her parents are fighting again, carelessly disguising their slowly rising voices with a thinly closed door.
Violet barely notices.
It's all just callused fingertips over virgin skin, his breath mingling with hers in the dimly lit night. She's never quite sure how long he's going to stay and if he might fade away in a second, so she keeps her eyes closed. He feels so much like a dream that she wouldn't be surprised if he just disappeared.
"Is this okay?" he whispers into her neck. "Tell me if you want me to stop." His cautious touch ghosts over parts of her body that only he's ever had access to.
She cups the back of his neck with a gentle hand and pushes him closer until his lips press against her, sweet and innocent. Her fingers find their way into his hair and wrap themselves in curls until he groans into the kiss and tugs her close.
"Jesus, Vi," he whines. "You're going to make it really hard for me to stop."
A breathy laugh escapes her. "Then don't," she tells him.
And nothing else is on her mind.
She bursts through the door of her bedroom, almost afraid of what she'd find inside.
He's sitting cross-legged on her bed, facing the headboard. "Violet," he whimpers, turning around to kneel on his knees. There are tear tracks on his face, but he's done crying. He gets up off the bed to meet her halfway in the middle of her room.
She slams the door behind her, letting herself catch her breath by leaning against it for a split second before striding towards him. He embraces her with open arms and she kisses him, the way she would if it really had been the last time she'd ever see him.
"Jesus, Vi," he gasps, panting.
She lets him ground her with the intensity of his hands on her waist. It feels like gravity, like a totem to help her recognize whether she's awake or asleep. "I'm sorry," she hisses as he presses desperate kisses down her pale neck. Finally, he sucks gently on her collarbone and she lets out a long, slow whine.
"Don't apologize," he growls, lifting her to wrap her legs around his waist before they fall over the edge of her bed. "I know you'd never leave me."
The world is spinning and the colors are bleeding into each other as he makes her see stars with every kiss and flick of his tongue. Their skin is hot and moist, pressed against each other, feeling part of him everywhere. She feels like she's permanently lost in deep space, and the feeling of her fingers tugging on her hair reminds her where she's supposed to be as he groans, deep and rumbly.
"Jesus, fuck, Vi," he grunts, rutting against her before stopping for a second to try to even out his breathing, holding onto the top of the headboard for dear life. "Say 'stop' when you want me to stop, okay?" he reminds her, like clockwork.
It's like the world stops when she says what she knows is true. "I don't want to stop tonight, Tate," she murmurs.
The look of wonder and terror on his face is perfect. "What?" he breathes out, like it can't possibly be true.
She nods at him, unable to stop the blush or the quirky little smirk that forms on her lips. She pulls him down to kiss her, rolling their bodies so that she's sitting atop his abdomen and he's gripping the backs of her thighs tight enough to form light bruises there to be admired in the morning.
"Are you sure?" he pleads.
Rolling her eyes, she leans down to kiss him, running her hands over his chest.
"Are you sure, Violet?" he repeats, his innocent fear evident in his voice. She can hear what he's really saying through the cracks in his armor: are you sure you want to lose your virginity to the sad little dead boy who clings to you like you're the last good thing on Earth?
"I'm as sure as I'll ever be, Tate," she tells him, which is the truth, and he must have decided that it was good enough because he pulls at her so that he's back on top, back in control, and she lets him kiss her into their own little oblivion.
spooky little girl
She catches him in the backyard, dozing off in the gazebo, the sunlight reflecting off his golden hair and the hint of a smile on the pink of his lips. A worn copy of a collection of Byron's poems and plays lies forgotten across his lap, the page folded where he'd been before he drifted off.
This is when she likes him best.
The cushion shifts a little bit when she sits next to him, and he whines from deep in his throat before reaching an arm around her waist and pulling her close to him.
"I'm lazy," he whispers into her ear, losing kisses in her honey-colored hair and pressing smiles against the curve of her neck.
She wants to cry, because he's dead and he has all the reason to be lazy. "How will you support me and your unborn child?" she jokes instead, and he stiffens a little bit against her before breaking into an easy grin.
"Our love will pay the bills," he teases, and she lets herself believe him. They lose themselves in the delicate moment in the California sunlight, with the ghosts watching jealously from the windows. Young love is seconds long, and no one quite wants to ruin it with the truth quite yet.
It's when they've played three games of Go Fish, six games of Texas Hold'em, two games of Speed, and started a round of Scrabble that a sob gets caught in her throat and a couple of tears slip out. She hates herself for it.
Tate reaches across the board for her hand so fast that a couple of tiles get knocked off-kilter. When the tears that dry are only followed by fresh ones, he moves to sit beside her, pulling her into his lap and cradling her head into the nook of his neck, that top of her head tucked safely underneath his jaw.
"I'm sorry, Violet," he mumbles, on the verge of tears himself. "I'm sorry I kept it from you. I'm sorry I couldn't have saved you."
She wants to say something, but she's afraid of what will slip out of her mouth if she opens it. She's not sure if she wants to whisper back words of comfort and reassurance or scream at him for letting her die in a house that could possibly be hell. She wants to yell at herself for being careless enough to kill herself accidentally. She wants to slap Leah for giving her the pills to do it, and hit her parents for not seeing that their only daughter has crossed the line from suicidal to stone cold dead, complete with her body dumped in the crawl space like a common victim.
Instead, she lets Tate hum a song quietly and off-key, his throat vibrating against her ear. She can feel the rumble of his chest and the steady metronome of his heartbeat. How can he have a pulse if he's dead? How can there be blood flowing through their veins if there's no need for oxygen to be carried to their organs? It's all so nonsensical.
Eventually, she pries herself away from Tate's harmless grip and finds his dark eyes staring back at her, unreadable. "I'm okay, I swear," she promises. "I just — it's still hard to take in. I'm dead. I never anticipated this. I always thought that when I was dead, I'd just be…dead, and not have to deal with any of it."
"You and everybody else trapped in this fucking house," he mutters, half joking and half bitter.
She cups his chin in her hand and lifts it to meet her eyes. "Are you okay?"
His face changes so quickly from dejected to joyful. "I'm okay when you're okay," he chirps, guiding her until her back is on the floor and he's hovering above her, his hair falling into his face. "We're okay, right?"
There's an uneasiness about them, like it's World War II and the threat of a bomb is looming above. It takes a couple of second before she gets enough breath to answer, and meanwhile he's stealing kisses along her neckline and sucking on her collarbone. His fingers are a distraction, drifting on and underneath the hem of her dress. "Yeah, yeah," she replies, but she's not so sure.
It's getting hard to breathe.
It feels like her throat has swollen closed and her eyes will never open again. She's asked to be left alone but she knows that she isn't, not really. His presence still lingers somewhere in the room, like the threat of a hurricane, stormy and heavy. She wants to rip her own arm off and throw it at him. She wants him to feel pain like she does.
Oh, Jesus, she gave him everything she had. She confided in him and she fell into teenage infatuation with him. She kissed him and touched him and fucked him. She gave all of herself to him and he raped her mother.
The room is smaller. Her lungs feel tighter. Bile is rising in her throat and it tastes like the sludge that probably pumps through his body instead of blood.
She trusted him.
He lies banished in the room somewhere, escaped from the basement but unable to make himself visible or touch her in any way, but she feels him breathing on her like the bogey man.
"Are you happy now?" she screams, and throws a chair across the room. "Are you happy? You ruin everything!" In a rage, she finds her pile of books of poetry and birds. She rips pages from them and scatters them across the room; she fumbles in her drawer for a lighter and turns the romantic words into ash like a punch in his gut.
She can still feel his kiss lingering on her skin.
"Fuck you!" she wails. "I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!" Violet turns her room into the trashed remains of a hotel room after a rock star temper tantrum. When her fire is extinguished into a festering bitterness, she curls up in the middle of the room, surrounded by the damage, and all that is left is the faded I love you on the chalkboard.
Violet reaches for her wastebasket and vomits into it until her stomach is aching and her chest is heaving.
In spite of herself, his three words are still fresh in her mind. With the internal wounds and the sting of betrayal, the only arms she wants around her are his, and she wants to kill herself because of how pathetic love is.
"I hate you," she spits scathingly into empty air.
Somewhere in the house, Tate whimpers.
It's been so long that she's stopped keeping track of time. Some days, she forgets the names of the months. Sometimes, she forgets the days of the week.
Summertime has reached Los Angeles and there's a pleasant cast of sunshine across the tops of the trees, enough to give Violet a tan and her baby brother a smile. She's got her copy of Keats' letters open, the spine worn white, a couple of pages missing.
She knows he's watching her from somewhere in the backyard.
After a while the hours fade away from her and the sun begins to set. She's got the beginnings of a sunburn across the tops of her shoulders and she gathers Jeffery into her arms as they watch the sun turn the sky to orange dust in its wake.
The uncomfortable weight of someone's stare settles onto her back, and she turns around, scanning the yard, expecting Travis looking for a fuck or maybe her mother's endearing gaze from the windows. Instead she feels a pang when she spots him for the first time, sitting in the gazebo, staring at her bluntly. When she meets his eyes, it takes a while for him to realize that she's looking at him. It shocks him physically — he lunges back as though she's stabbed him.
She challenges him, unwilling to back down from their impromptu stare-down. It's been years, maybe decades since she'd last seen him, much less spoken to him. He looks haggard and psychotic, but still the same pale ghost she'd met when she was fifteen and breathing.
He's flushed and terrified.
Finally, as the sky darkens and Jeffery begins to whine, she lets the corner of her lips quirk up in an effortless half-smile, and her hand raises to acknowledge him before she scoops her brother into her arms and he's left with the confusion of not knowing what to do with the sudden onslaught of her forgiveness.
She's angry, still, as she passes the gazebo on her way inside. But she remembers kissing him in her bedroom and smoking pilfered cigarettes in the backyard. She remembers confessing tales of loneliness and listening to depressed singers croon about lost loves. She remembers his smile and his touch and the way he made her feel, and in the end, it's the moments like this that she wants to spend her eternity on.