A/N: Hey you guys! Long time no post!

So, I have kept this under wraps because it was a secret fic for the ahs exchange, hosted by the lovelylovely jandjsalmon. I wrote this fic for shootingstella. I am so thrilled that Stella ended up being my giftee because she is all kinds of wonderful and talented, and I adore her!

Anyway, this won some best overall at the exchange and best one liner and tied for best violate moment. Woo! So, if you haven't read it yet, be excited?

And go read the rest of the fics from the exchange because they are fantastic!

Warnings: non-con, domestic abuse, violence.

"Gabe. for the tenth time, I can't do dinner tonight. Just reschedule, it'll be fine," Violet huffs into her mobile phone, chewing at the side of her thumb. It's hot in her office even with the windows cracked and blinds shuttered. Summer is hell in Los Angeles, sticky, sweaty hell and her patience is barely there without the heat.

There's a rumble of dissent on the other end of the line, and then nothing. Violet stares down at the main menu of her phone. "Fucker hung up on me!"

She considers chucking it, preferably out the window, but before she gets the chance to fully engage in a temper tantrum, she hears rather than sees, someone at her door. She sweeps the phone into the junk drawer of her desk instead and vows to ignore any and all calls until she can clock out for the day and pour herself a good, strong drink. Winding down, she glances back to the stranger.

Some guy in what looks to be his late twenties stands leant against the frame. He's got both hands jammed into his pockets and a crooked smile and if Violet were a weaker woman she might go so far as to call him studly. Instead, she settles on an appropriate, "who the fuck are you?"

Something must be funny because that stupid smile only widens to reveal two rows of perfect pearly whites, and pretty boy steps boldy into the room. "Is that how you treat your patients?" he tuts, clearly amused, and Violet, remembering a schedule change, has the sudden urge to crawl under her desk.

"Oh god - I mean. I'm so sorry, Mr..." she flails, mouth agape in horror, shuffling through the papers on her desk. "Langdon."

By the time she's retrieved the right file, he's flopped down onto the leather couch and is bent forward, elbows on knees, to better watch her flounder.

"Call me Tate."

Violet doesn't really hear, just nods mechanically, pretends she isn't in the middle of an itsy-bitsy meltdown. You just berated a new patient! she screams, hopefully inside of her own head, and reaches for the closest notepad. Maybe she tears off a few too many pieces, maybe she makes a mountain of crumpled yellow wads in the trash, but if she does, it's only because this incident is the cherry on her shit sundae.

"You're late," is the next thing she says, because he is. And that's why she mistook him for some creepy stranger - creepy, sexy stranger. It isn't her fault, really.

Tate winces. "I know, sorry. The maid let me in." He doesn't sound sorry, but one look at his file tells Violet that, if he's displaying sociopathic tendencies, he probably doesn't feel remorse, so she accepts his faux apology with a trained smile and settles into the chair opposite him.

"It's okay," she says mildly, and just like that she's back in doctor-patient mode, broad shoulders and dimples mostly forgotten.

Switching gears, something Violet will learn Tate is keen to do, he gives her a skeptical once over and snorts. "Aren't you a little young to be a doctor?"

Violet bristles. "If you're worried about my credentials I can assure you - " He shakes his head and motions for her to begin with her initial questionnaire.

Pad in lap, pen in hand, she nods. The rest of the session goes well. Tate tells her about his violent fantasies, surprisingly forthcoming with them, and Violet ping pongs between doling out sound advice and getting snagged on dark eyes and even darker ideas.

Another insignificant battle, buildup to World War III, takes place in the middle of Violet's kitchen later that night.

"What the hell, Gabe?!" she screams from her seat at the table, at four in the fucking morning.

Gabe is drunk. Stumbling, straight-out-of-a-movie drunk. He waves off her question with a flippant hand. "Sorry, lost track of time."

Violet surges up from the table, jaw set, and circles the room to get up close, face to face.. "Where were you?" she snarls, pent up anger threatening to boil over, jaw set, eyes burning.

Gabe laughs, laughs and throws up his hands in surrender. "Hey, woah there. What is this, the, uh, German Inquisition, or whatever?"

All of Violet's rage just wilts into a hum of annoyance at his idiocracy and she sighs, deciding that spending the night screaming herself hoarse again just isn't worth it. Another argument swept under the rug. She's choking on dustbunnies.

"Spanish," she mumbles, turning on him before he can make a stupid face and ask what she means.

She climbs the stairs alone and doesn't fall into bed until the door is locked, until Gabe can't stumble up after her and slink under the sheets to beg her forgiveness through sloppy sex. Tonight, he sits slumped against the closed door and rambles for a while, but she can't make out what he's saying, and even if she could, it wouldn't be enough.

Staring wide-and-teary-eyed into the dark, pillow sandwiched between her hand and cheek, Violet spends hours wondering if, at this point, anything could be.

Violet followed Gabe to Los Angeles three years ago, back when she was young, hopeful, and idealistic about romance. He'd caught the acting bug and was chasing a dream. She hated the idea of moving, but she was in love, and if love was leaving the east coast, well then she was packing her bags.

Things were good at first. Her parents bought her Murder House - that's what the bratty ginger twins next door called it - with hopes that she might settle down there. Following her father's footsteps into psychiatry, Violet was able to finish her schooling in L.A., and with Gabe getting more and more parts, happily ever after started to seem not so far away.

But with enough time, everything changed.

They never saw each other. She was always cooped up in the office with patients and he was always on set or working parties. She'd eat dinner alone and wake up late to the sting of his breath on her face. Gabe slipped into alcoholism too easily. With Hollywood shelling out free booze and rejection at every turn, it wasn't hard. More than once he'd come home smelling of perfume or with a pink-stained mouth, but she couldn't leave him. She wouldn't. Some foolish part of herself that still believed in happy endings wanted to pretend that all this was just a bump in the road, that things would get better, like before, like when they lived in Boston.

But better never came.

The empty side of the bed next to her is cold without Gabe there sweating out his liquor. She reaches a hand out to feel the cool sheets and falls asleep mentally running through her day, snagged over and over on rogue thoughts of her newest patient Tate.

The second time Violet sees Tate, two weeks and one cancellation later, she doesn't use the F word on contact or fall to pieces. But she still can't quite get over how handsome he is. Dressed down in a button up shirt and blue jeans, hair a tangled mess of yellow, he looks like something out of a magazine, a cardboard cut out you'd see in stores at the mall that sold brands meant for skateboarding to bitchy preteens.

He's the All-American Dream wrapped up in cotton and stripes, but inside he's darkness. He spins stories that should make her stomach churn, about mowing down the kids he sees walking home after school and knifing women at the grocery store, about cutting a dog open straight down the middle just to see what it would look like. And all the while he's got this look on his face, eyes sharp, smile sharp, expression cutting. He's ecstatic about the idea of crushing some gay guy's skull.

"He's a fucking asshole," Tate says, hands held out front of him and shaped in deadly parentheses. He's pretending to strangle this "Patrick" character. It's terrifying, or it would be if Violet wasn't busy admiring the lunatic's hands, long, slender fingers, nails bitten to the quick.

"You know, Tate, if I feel you intend to do actual harm to someone or yourself I have to - " Tate puts a hand up at her practiced mantra. "I know, I know. Relax."

His smile is disarming. Her voice falls away and she's content to listen for the remainder of his session, surveying him through narrowed eyes and scribbling jibberish on her pad in some guise of therapy until their time runs out.

That night, Violet dreams of a head of blonde curls between her legs and of a large pair of hands closing around her throat.

"I've jerked off thinking about you," Tate says a few weeks later, like it's just something she probably should know, and Violet very nearly spills coffee all down the front of her shirt.

"What?" she sputters, dabbing at her mouth with the back of her hand and placing the mug down where she can't so easily scald her tits. It's not that patients haven't come on to her before, it's just that they've never been, well, him.

Tate grins like he's just won the lottery and leans forward on the couch, seated right at the edge of the cushion. Goaded on by her response, he wets his lips and, narrow-eyed, continues.

"Yeah, about you, sucking my cock or riding me right here on this couch." His voice has dropped an octave, low and soft like silk. It's horrible, terrible. Violet can feel a traitorous slickness between her thighs. She wants to say something, to reprimand his behavior or at least to comment on why he'd say such a thing, but when she opens her mouth, all that leaves her is a quiet yelp. What? No sex for two weeks has been rough. (But the bastard deserves it.)

Crossing and uncrossing her legs, Violet drops her gaze to the pad in her lap and pretends to write something that must look like little more than a scribble from where Tate's sitting, which, fair enough. But he's not watching her pen. He's more interested in the flush that's bloomed across her cheeks and where her patterned skirt has ridden up her thighs.

"I wonder what you'd taste like, what kind of sounds you'd make, if your toes would push at my sides when I was fucking you too hard." He doesn't stop until Violet pulls herself together long enough to ask, her voice sounding pathetically weak, that he leave.

He does, but not without a wounded glance back. Emotion flits through his features and then it's gone just as quickly. She's surprised. She thought his attempts at flirting had been just another game, a test to see how far he could push her. She shakes her head to clear it and uncurls the fists she'd unknowingly been clenching. He's a patient, she reminds herself.

But Violet spends the rest of the session remembering that face and being plagued his same, deplorable curiosities.

Gabe doesn't come home that night. She wakes up to a voicemail, but wipes it from her phone without bothering to listen, and cries in the shower.

If she doesn't seem put together at work, none of her patients notice. They rattle on unaware, about hopes and dreams and fears and whatever bullshit they wouldn't want to tell their family or friends. And she listens, because it's her job, but she's finding more and more that she doesn't really care. Chad worries his boyfriend is cheating, Nora is terrified she'll never have a baby, they're all the same. They're fucking hopeless. Everyone is.

This goes on for weeks and weeks, an endless cycle of woe-is-me spiced with the occasional drunken argument with Gabe. Tate's sessions are her only reprieve. He still talks about murder, about taking people somewhere clean, out of this filthy world, but he hasn't mentioned any of his sexual fantasies since that first time. Violet knows she should be proud of him, for showing restraint and for understanding that it had made her uncomfortable, but she can still hear that heated tone of his voice and, behind closed eyes, she can almost see what he had described.

"And there are these voices..." If he's trying to sound embarrassed to reveal that he thinks "people" are whispering to him in his head, it's superficial. Violet just nods.

"I see. And what are these voices telling you to do?"

Tate shrugs. "Stuff. Murder and Mayhem, you know the deal." There's a fresh hole in his jeans, ripped at the knee. He keeps picking at the edges, pulling loose threads and winding them around his finger until the tip goes red. Violet watches, caught up in the simple act until she catches herself and looks back to her clipboard, ashamed.

"So..." She wants to ask, or more precisely, her sex drive wants to ask, about his sexual fantasies, but she doesn't, just moves down a mental list to the practices he should be doing to suppress these violent urges and replace them with more appropriate behavior. "Are you keeping a journal, like I'd asked?"

Tate snorts. "No."

"Well," It takes a moment to rein in her irritation at his dismissal. "If you were keeping one, what kind of things would you be putting in it? Hobbies, distractions, thoughts?" She gives a few examples, reactions to sports or movies, a review of his day, but the whole time Tate's just watching her with the beginnings of a smile, his eyes unreadable.

His gaze is penetrating, leaves her feeling naked, like he knows, like he just knows that she brought herself off last night thinking about his hands all over her, restless and attentive in a way Gabe has never been.

He looks to be teetering between two things, lower lip pulled between his teeth, but then Violet shifts under the sudden heat of his gaze and, like that, some decision has been 's mouth slips into that familiar, teasing grin and a moment later, he's crossed the room to sit at the edge of the coffee table, knees spread around Violet's crossed legs, close, too close.

Violet draws in a sharp breath because jesus, how does a person move like that? Quick and dangerous, like the swoop of a hawk, and yeah, she knows that makes her prey. For her part, she doesn't fold under his stare, meets it directly despite the messy tremble of her pulse.


Tate rewards her with a flash of teeth, and then he's leaning forward into the space between them, hands covering her knees, sliding up the tops of her thighs as he moves in, slow, like he might frighten her. Violet is terrified. Unprofessional! Unprofessional! sounds like an internal alarm, but then there are fingers edging under the hem of her skirt and curving around the creases where thighs meets pelvis and it takes every last stitch of resolve to not melt into Tate's burning touch.

"I think about this," he confesses, thumbs pushing into the insides of Violet's hips, face inches away. He smells clean, like cheap shampoo and soap, but like something else too, musky like a boy, cigarettes, and with bitter breath that makes her wonder if he's a user. That suspicion alone should be enough to have her sending him out the door, which just goes to show how far gone she is. "I wonder if what I say ever gets you wet. I think it does, I think you like hearing me talk about blood, the smell, the taste, what it feels like when it's dried under my fingernails."

Violet is helpless in that moment, left watching the way Tate's mouth works around each filthy word. She knows what has to happen. She has to tell him to leave, that she no longer feels comfortable treating him but that she'll make other arrangements for him, some referrals for where he could go next. But Violet doesn't say a thing. When she thinks she might have mustered the strength, Tate's fingers sink between her legs to rub loose circles over the crotch of her tights and the whole world of right and wrong just falls out from under her feet.

"I bet you've got a cute pussy," he says, and now his lips are right at her ear. His other hand is pressed into the cushion at the outside of her thigh for balance and he's got the pad of his middle finger squared up with what would be her clit if she weren't wearing anything underneath that skirt.

Violet makes an unintelligible sound, something like a squeak, and closes her eyes to the feel of his mouth sucking a red mark at the hinge of her jaw. Everything goes quiet and for some small amount of time, maybe a minute or so, she doesn't stop him. She keeps her hands folded in her lap until they're not, until they're curled into the front of Tate's shirt, and he continues coaxing her into madness with fingers grinding against the wet spot of her tights.

Then there's the faint sound of ripping and a low, unsteady, "oh fuck, Dr. Harmon," being muffled in the side of her throat. Violet's brain kicks back online with a jolt.

"Tate!" she huffs, and it sounds more like a groan at first, but with enough pressure on his chest, he relents, pulling back to look at her with blown pupils, face flushed a pretty pink.

She can't meet his eyes. When she tells him, "I think you should leave," in as stern a voice as she can manage with an unbearable pressure between her legs, it's more to the couch than the heavy-breathing boy. He wavers in front of her, bent slightly still, but when she doesn't meet his eyes, he complies. Dragging a hand through his hair, he leaves without another word.

Violet spends the rest of the afternoon beating herself up about what transpired during Tate's session. She could lose her license over this, nearly a decade of schooling wasted on some sinister kid and a bullshit hickey. What this would do to Gabe if he found out is at the back of her mind, but it's there, and when she hears a key in the lock that night, she makes sure she's got her hair flipped over the right shoulder before greeting him with a guilt-fueled kiss.

I'm going to try harder," he says with a watery smile, hands cupping her face. The bruise on her neck throbs.

"Me too."

Never again, she promises herself, and if there's a tiny voice that frowns at that, well then she doesn't care to listen.

Tate skips out on his next two appointments. She doesn't see him for three weeks. And when he does finally show up for a session, they don't talk about what happened. It's the big, job killing elephant in the room.

"You look tired," she says neutrally from across the room. He does. There are half moons etched below each of his eyes and his hair, usually a tangled mess, is hidden beneath a faded black beanie. The stubble on his face is more than a shade. A part of her wants to rub a palm over its rasp.

Tate shrugs, quiet, too quiet.

"So, how have you been?"

He makes a noncommittal noise, but when the silence stretches on, takes a slow breath. "My brother died, last week."

Any lingering sexual tension Violet had been feeling disappears. Her face goes soft. "Oh Tate, I'm so sorry. If you'd like to talk about anything - "

"He was murdered." His tone doesn't bear questioning. Hands balled into fists at his sides, he speaks through a clenched jaw. "My cocksucker of a mother fucking forgot him, left him at some ghetto park, and some guys jumped him. He went to the hospital in an ambulance and ended up in a body bag." It's like every word is being punched out of him, like he'd be more comfortable talking about pushing out a kitten's eyeballs with his thumbs than family. And if that's true, well then maybe there's a reason Tate's so fucked up. If only he would go into it.

Well, with a little trained prodding, he does.

Violet just listens quietly as Tate talks, about what Beau was like, about how sweet he really was despite what people thought, how good. About how his mother never liked Beau, about how she kept him locked away at home like Addie. His voice shivers, like maybe he's falling apart, but that same glint he gets is still there in his eyes, bright and furious. And just when Violet thinks he might threaten to kill those "motherfuckers," he stands.

"I've gotta go," he says with a sad smile, and before she can ask why, he's gone, out the door on long legs and leaving behind only the faint scent of cigarettes.

She's never seen him shaken up like that, alight with genuine emotion. Sure, he could smile and frown, fit his face into a hundred different molds, but rarely could she glimpse any humanity in him. A part of her wonders if it's a good sign, if she's finally getting to him, but it's that same hopeful, naive shade that still wants to work things out with Gabe.

Cranking open the window to light up, always anxious for a smoke after sessions with Tate, something she should analyze, Violet flips through mystery boy's background check and says a little prayer for Beau.

Gabe calls to say that he'll be home early, asks Violet if she'd like to have dinner at home. Sat in the bath, cell phone trapped between her ear and shoulder and with no other obligations, she agrees.

But halfway through sauteeing the veggies, Violet gets distracted. She'd left the T.V. on in the other room for some background noise just in time for the start of the six o'clock news.

Dressed in just a tank top and panties, she nearly trips over herself speeding into the family room to catch the tail end of the lead anchor's sentence.

"... found dead just outside a park in South Central."

Of course right then, with her heart dragging against the front of her chest, the door swings open. "Violet!"

Violet's head snaps in Gabe's direction. "Shh!" she hisses, turning back to the television, watching the news cut to an on-location shot of a battered park at dusk. A woman with perfectly styled hair and a tailored pantsuit looking ridiculously out of place amongst the urban backdrop clears her throat and puts on a cheap smile.

"Thank you, Elizabeth. Yes, the bodies of eight young men were found an hour ago. Nearby residents complained of hearing gunshots at the local basketball courts. Gang violence is suspected, but - "


Right at the brink of a meltdown, she blinks at the dark screen for a moment before realizing that Gabe is standing at her side, remote in hand.

"No hello honey, how was work? What the fuck, Violet?" he snarls, and it's obvious that he's gone, rolling, spun, all of the above.

Violet takes one look at the empty blackness of his eyes and attempts to push past him, not in the mood, but then he's got a hand on her arm. "Let me go," she says, trying to yank free. He gets like this, volatile. And some days she tiptoes around his swinging moods, but with the very likely possibility that her patient might have murdered a handful of men tonight, she's got too much on her plate for that bullshit.

Gabe's grip grows tight, cruel, her skin haloed white around where his fingertips are pressed hard.

"Moira tells me you have a new patient," he says out of the blue, but she won't meet his eyes. She's staring at where he's holding her, trying to pry at his fingers until he's got that hand too, wrist shackled easily.

"What are you talking about?"

"Some blonde guy, tall. Real fucked in the head, she says."


"Is that his name?"

Violet laughs bitterly, gives Gabe her meanest smile. "Yeah. And he's not new. I've been treating him for months. Now, let. Me. Go."

He still doesn't release her. If anything, his grip grows more vice-like, his expression dark. There's a dead calm in the house. It's stifling, leaves her paralyzed, held under the weight of this so wrong relationship."You're fucking him, aren't you?"

And now she can smell it, the whiskey on his breath, a hint of perfume too, he must have started early to be home already. It's too much to process. She can't deal.

"Fuck off!" she screams, and tears free from his grip to leap up the stairs. She takes them two, three at a time and doesn't stop running until she's got both the bedroom and bathroom doors bolted shut.

Smoke fills the kitchen downstairs and the fire alarm chirps, but Violet doesn't move. She stays there on the bathroom rug, sat against the side of the tub hugging her knees. For a few minutes she cries, clutches at her sore arm and babbles on under her breath about wishing he was dead, about wanting to kill him herself.

When she's fresh out of sadness, Violet spreads out on the cool tile and wonders about what she'd heard on the news. Surely it was just a coincidence, right? South Central was notorious for gang violence. Tate couldn't have been the cause. But would it be so bad if he was? a new part of her muses. This new part has had more and more to say as of late. It'd been birthed by Gabe's alcoholism and cruelty, but had not bloomed until she'd begun treating Tate. More and more, she is beginning to agree with him, and it's scaring her. People are shit, some worse than others. And those worse than worse, rapists and abusers, killers, whoever took Beau's life, those people deserved to die.

Hours later, long after Gabe's left again, the car's exhaust loud even from the second story, Violet falls asleep there on the rug. She dreams of Gabe, but he's so pale, and of Tate.

Tate misses his next session. And the next. She doesn't see him for weeks. It's startling how much his absence bothers her. That snip of news runs on an endless reel through her head. Panic laps at her, her fingers itch to dial the number for the LAPD and turn him in, but for some reason, maybe because she's losing touch with reality and her morals and just about everything else, she never calls.

Things level out with Gabe. He fills up Violet's voicemail with empty apologies that won't wash away the bruises on her arm, and she doesn't hide anymore when he comes home. She doesn't know why she doesn't just leave. Maybe because he's all she's got out here. Making friends had never been easy for Violet. She had Moira and her patients, and nothing else. She knows that that makes her weak, but she's beginning to wonder if she's a lot of other things too, if maybe her and Tate Langdon aren't so different after all.

One night, when Gabe's passed out in the den, she wanders in and makes those same parentheses with her hands like Tate had months ago. Are my hands too small? she thinks sadly, flexing her fingers, remembering what he'd looked like in her dream, so pale and still. Then he makes a sound in his sleep and it's like someone's poured ice water all down her back. She takes a sharp breath and leaves the room, spends half of an hour washing her hands and face, staring into the mirror and seeing someone new.

Up at midnight reading a book one night, Violet's heart nearly leaps from her chest. There's a sudden, frantic knocking at the front door. It's raining outside, the first drizzle of Fall. She can't get up from the couch fast enough, book flying from her lap, and into the foyer. Gabe's upstairs with a bottle of Jack, supposedly reading over his lines, so who the fuck - ?

The door's unlocked and he's inside before she knows what's happening.


He's soaking, hair and clothes heavy, dripping everywhere. It's then that she remembers she's in a holey old t-shirt and sleep shorts, but there isn't time to be embarrassed. Something's wrong. He doesn't look well. Every movement is cagey on edge. On instinct, she reaches for his elbow, and he jerks out of range, eyes wide and more than a little crazy. For a minute she wonders if he's gone like Gabe gets sometimes, if this is a drug thing, but there's a cramp in her stomach that tells her it's worse.

"I fucked up," he keeps saying in a haunted whisper. Violet gapes at him, still reeling, but has enough sense to lead him into the kitchen. She tries to get him to sit, but he shakes his head, waves her out of his way with shaking hands and peels out of his hoodie. It splats against the floor, and now Violet understands.

"Oh my god..."

He's hurt. Among the expanse of tanned lean muscle that Violet can't help but admire, there is a large gash cut into his sternum. It's oozing a thick stream of blood down the center of his chest, deep enough to need stitches, skin separated, edges peeling back. She stares and stares, watches a thick tear of blood roll down into his navel.

"What happened? You need to go to the hospital. Let me get the phone, I'll call 911." Violet's a ball of nerves, calmed only by the sheer amount of adrenaline pulsing through her veins. She hovers for a moment, wanting to help but not knowing how, and then darts for the cordless phone. She's got it in her grip and turned on when Tate bats it clear out of her hands.

"Don't," he pleads. "I can't go there." She looks at him strangely, but then she gets it. Holy shit.

Bending to retrieve the phone and place it carefully back in its cradle, Violet moves instead for her sewing kit, wondering all the while why she hasn't just called the cops and been done with it. She's got a patient here at midnight, crazy-eyed and bleeding all over her kitchen. A line has definitely been crossed.

When Violet returns, Tate has found the paper towels and is in the process of mopping up his front.

"What did you do, Tate?" she asks cautiously, taking a handful of towels to cleanse his wound. This time he doesn't recoil, just breathes as slow as he can and dips his head. Being this close to him, half naked no less, should make her antsy, but she can think about that later. Right now she's got to worry about stitching up a madman, and possibly sending them both off to a mental ward after. Not exactly on her top 10 list of things to do to a painfully attractive lunatic after midnight.

Tate sighs, looking too pale, and pushes the hair out of his eyes. "It's probably better you don't know."

Violet suppresses the urge to roll her eyes, mostly because he might be right, and works on threading a needle.

"Black okay?" she says with a tired laugh, borderline hysterical, as she misses, misses, misses, the eye. Tate smiles at that and nods, moving to sit at the edge of the table.

When she's got the needle threaded and iodine dabbed over the stab wound - if that's what it is - the actual stitches don't take long. Violet's squeamish at first, but each stitch gets easier. Tate holds still the whole while, breathing shallowly, watching her work the tiny spear into his flesh over and over. It's strangely intimate, but something she'd never thought she'd be doing to a maybe-murderer at one in the morning, but not the worst thing she's ever been through, not even this week.

"All done," she grins, feeling a little smug. She cuts the thread and knots it off neatly, chucking the needle and the rest of the spool, the entire kit in the end. The less evidence the better, she figures. Collecting the paper towels, she tosses those too into the trash, making sure to bury them beneath other things to keep from raising suspicion.

What even is my life, she wonders with a breathless laugh, washing her hands in the sink and hoping that Tate doesn't have AIDS or something.

"Thank you."

Tate's voice is suddenly right at her ear. Any tremble it had carried before is gone, low and smooth like she remembers from weeks ago. It sends a secret thrill up the rungs of her spine. She spins to face him and is met with a crooked row of stitches and warm bare skin.

"Uh, you're welcome, just. Don't ever, ever do this again." She gestures to all of him with a weak smile, and he doesn't look so homicidal anymore, thank christ.

He breathes a laugh and reaches out to tuck a stray lock of hair behind Violet's ear, thumb tracing down the curve of her jaw, touch exceedingly gentle. It's unfair how her body responds.

A whirlwind of emotions that she can't even begin to untangle or process, Violet lifts her lashes to meet those black eyes and, hesitant, places a palm flat against the front of Tate's ribs, well away from his wound. Any hope for rationalization is gone. She is left working on instinct alone.

Tate looks like he wants to say something, rolls his lips between his teeth, Violet's chin held between his thumb and forefinger, but in the end he remains silent. With so much to say, so much to explain, maybe he can't prioritize - she gets that. Instead, the corners of his lips quirk up into some semblance of a smile, but it's almost hesitant, and then, oh, his mouth is on hers.

Their first kiss is nothing like she thought it would be and of course she's thought about it; she's only human. It's just a simple press at first, warm and surprisingly gentle. He traps her against the counter with a hand at its edge, but doesn't push otherwise. He smells like copper and rainwater and something she doesn't want to name. And, something inside Violet, something that's been frayed for so long, finally snaps. Gabe is just up the stairs, awake, but after months of pent up want, unethical, primal want, she simply can't deny herself any longer. With a heavy sigh, Violet pushes up onto her tippy-toes and curves a hand around the back of Tate's neck.

"You're a psychopath," she breathes fondly against his lips, and her own slide open to suck at his mouth, fingers tangling into the hairs at the base of his skull.

Tate laughs, a rumble she can feel where their chests are pressed close, and angles his hips forwards. "Is that your official diagnosis?"

It is actually, but with what's happening, who knows, maybe she's one too; the moment his tongue sinks into her mouth, slow and filthy, she's lost forever.

Wary of his stitches, Violet hops up onto the kitchen counter and reels Tate in. He spreads her knees with his hands and reaches out for her waist, seeming so fragile in his grip.

"Christ, Dr. Harmon," he groans, finding the hem of her shirt. She cringes at the formalities and makes a mental note to tell him her actual name later, later, then disentangles herself from him just long enough to be disrobed, reveling in the noise he makes when he discovers she hadn't been wearing a bra. His hands are restless and greedy when she stretches for him. His thumbs flick at her nipples, tease them into tight little buds, and then his mouth is there, leaving her to clutch at his shoulders and writhe up into empty air.

She looks to the doorway every few minutes, wondering if Gabe's asleep yet, but with Tate... it's absurd, but she feels safe. Even if Gabe were to find them here, like this, she doesn't think for a minute that Tate would let him hurt her. And even though she maybe she shouldn't, Violet takes comfort in that. Tate might leave bruises like Gabe can, but they couldn't be more different.

His tongue and teeth drive her into madness.

"Tate," she whines, bucking against the fleeting pressure of his fingers where she needs them most. He grins against the space between her breasts, but a moment later, he's got her shorts and panties rolled down her legs and in a heap on the floor. He tugs her forward until she's teetering at the edge of the counter and she reaches for him, but he shakes his head.

"I want to see you," he says, voice uneven, a rough rasp, and parts her thighs when she lets him. Hands hooked under her knees to keep her open, he just looks. Violet wants to squirm under the heat of his gaze, but she holds firm, toes curling and uncurling, waiting for him to touch.

Tate swallows, releases a stunted breath, and steps back into her, hand sinking between her legs to cup her bare sex.

"Perfect," he purrs into her ear, and slips a finger inside.

She keens, digs her heels into the dimples of his back and arches prettily. And then she remembers. Gabe. Eyes wide, she cups a hand over her mouth, but doesn't stop grinding into Tate's palm.

"What is it? Is someone here?" he asks, adding a second finger, pumping into her with long, slow thrusts, not enough.

He doesn't know, she realizes with a shock, but simply nods without clarifying who. He might stop if he knew, and she can't have that. She'll burn up from the inside out if he leaves now.

Tate takes his time working her open, burns a trail of wet kisses down the side of her throat and out onto the round of her shoulder, teeth scraping over the soft muscle.

"Need you," Violet huffs when he's filling her with three fingers and hard against the curve of her ass. He nods, and then she's empty. They both scrabble drunkenly at the fastenings of his jeans, and soon enough he's got them shoved down his thighs and his cock bobs free, heavy between his legs. Violet's stomach constricts. A moment later there's a condom wrapper torn between his teeth and he's got it rolled on, holding himself firm at the base to keep from falling apart already.

"Now, now, now," she growls, not bothering to look back to the doorway again. Legs hooked over his arms, around his waist, she's able to watch him line up their bodies and, sweet fucking christ, push inside. Inch by inch he fills her, stretches her. It's a pleasant burn that tears from them a mutual groan; they're seeing stars. Violet clutches at his shoulders, digs her nails in deep to keep quiet.

Once Tate is buried to the root, he gathers her in his arms and walks them to the kitchen table. Laying her back along the smooth top, he stands between her thighs and just looks down on her sprawled out for him. A heated expression crosses his face, something more than lust, but like every other emotion, it's gone before she can be sure that it was real.

"Wait," she says, wanting to know what that was, just dazed enough to imagine he might answer her.

He pulls out slow, to the tip. "I can't," he breathes, honest, so far gone, and sinks back inside, the drag of her insides delicious.

She groans, eyes rolling back, and he huffs out a strained noise, brows pinched together with the effort of restraining himself. "Oh fuck, you're so tight for me, so fucking good."

Violet can only whimper in response and walk her feet up his chest. The change of angle has fireworks bursting behind closed lids. He holds the tops of her thighs to keep her still and begins snapping against her, driving deeper, harder, faster. Violet wants to worry about his stitches, but she can't, she's more animal than girl right now. One little hand slips down her flat tummy to play between her legs, to circle her clit in time with his thrusts.

This is what falling down the raobbithole looks like, sounds like, feels like.

"Wonderland," she sighs, and it doesn't make any sense at all, but Tate still pops his hips against her and whispers, "yeah, you are," in a desperate rasp.

The tables legs squeak back and forth across the tile floor, surely loud enough to wake anyone sleeping upstairs, but with Tate fucking into her, bringing her right to the edge, she couldn't care less.

Hips bucking against the backs of her thighs, he folds over to cover Violet then, elbows propped at either side of her head. Her muscles flutter warningly around his cock, and he kisses her, sloppy and uncoordinated, but she doesn't mind. A few more thrusts and she's blissing out with a cry, arching up into Tate's chest and shaking all over. The pulse of her orgasm brings him off moments later. Hands clamped around the insides of her knees, he comes too, has to bite into his cheek to keep from shouting.

Violet pushes at Tate's shoulders when he slumps against her, to keep his gash from pressing into her skin. But it's too late. They're both smeared red, streaked with the blood seeped from his wound. But like most everything else, she doesn't care. Legs limp over the edge of the table, she breathes easy under his weight, cards her fingers through damp curls and just basks in the afterglow. Tate draws abstract designs in her sides, cheek to her breast, both of them sleepy and spent.

They lie like that for a few minutes, content to be quiet and close, but then there's a creak at the top of the stairs and everything is ruined.


Her heart skips a beat, or three. Maybe altogether. Hyper-terrified, she looks down at Tate and... he looks almost wounded, betrayed.

"Yeah?" she calls back, and it's awful how quickly he scrambles to put himself back together, leaving her skin cold where he'd just been.

"Everything okay?"

Violet releases a breath. He isn't coming down. "Yeah."

There's a sound like the shift of someone's weight and then footsteps that grow quiet and faraway.

She folds up to sit then, so far beyond embarrassed, and watches as Tate pulls on his damp hoodie and tosses the condom. His face is unreadable again, a blank mask. It's almost worse than the look of hurt she'd seen before, or thought she saw.

"Tate..." she starts, but he doesn't want to hear it. He puts up a hand to stop her.

"Don't." Fully clothed, he walks up to where she's perched and sweeps in to kiss the apple of her cheek. "Thanks for everything," he says, and then he's gone.

When the door clicks closed, Violet pushes away from the table to get dressed.

She rubs mechanically at her front with a washcloth from the sink for a minute, cleaning away any last hints of blood. There's so much to process, but she's spinning, detached, out of orbit. Tomorrow, she'll worry about everything tomorrow.

Clean again in only this one small way, Violet shuts off all the lights and trudges up the stairs still smelling of sweat and Tate. She falls into bed beside Gabe without guilt, and dreams of needles and thread and of messy-perfect kisses.

Tate doesn't miss his next session. He arrives on time, is let in by Moira and knocks politely right at four o'clock.

"Come in," Violet says, caught between wishing he would have cancelled and wishing she would have had him transferred altogether. She doesn't know what to say. She can't keep treating him, that's for damn sure. So many rules have been broken. She's lost count. That night together was a mistake, but not the first. And maybe it was her fault alone. Tate was a mess, it was obvious something tragic had happened in the hours before she'd seen him, he wasn't in his right mind. She didn't tell Gabe, what was one more secret? They lined the walls already, the floor, the roof, the whole fucking house was one big, fat lie.

She doesn't want to look at him, but she does, takes a steadying breath and meets his eyes. Like their last session together, he looks tired. He's wearing that same stupid hoodie from before, even though the front of it is discolored with blood that wouldn't wash out. It's zipped half way and from what she can tell, he isn't wearing a shirt underneath. There's a shadow of hair on his jaw and his eyes, they're so empty, endless black.

"How are you?" she asks at last, when his eyes shift to angry at her obvious scrutiny. Maybe they can just sweep everything under the rug like her and Gabe do. The room is crowded full of elephants.

He knows what she means, his stitches, the big fucking gaping hole that swallowed them both up that night, but all he does is shrug. "Fine, you?"

Violet bristles. "Doing well, thank you."

They do this for a while, dance around one another with words like boxers would in the ring, neither of them throwing punches but both ready to receive one.

It's Tate that crosses their carelessly drawn line first.

"So, your name is Violet huh?" he asks like it's just sating his curiosity. It knocks the wind right out of her.


"Well, what the hell was that? Are you fucking married?"

"No. I mean, we - that's really none of your business," she says, indignant, and he throws his hands in the air.

"None of my business? Maybe you should have clued me into the fact that you were shacked up with some asshole before you let me fuck you." He sounds furious, and worse, hurt. He keeps grabbing at his hair, tearing at it by the roots, expression dark like his eyes.

Violet flips the pen and pad out of her lap in a jolt of rage, because really, how fucking dare he. It's not that she thought this session would go smoothly, but she didn't think it would take such a dive so fast.

"Oh, I'm sorry! I was a little too busy dealing with some crazy-as-fuck murderer bleeding all over my kitchen!" She knows she's gone too far as soon as she says the word. Tate freezes, one hand raised to argue, and Violet wants to turn back time, reel back in that one damn word.

In the next moment, quick like he can be, before Violet can backpedal, Tate's hurdled the coffee table and has got a hand at Violet's throat, trapping her back against the couch with that alone.

Somehow, like she knew before, Violet knows he won't hurt her, but she's terrified despite herself.

"Don't call me that," Tate says slowly, almost whines it, begging but forceful. His fingers relax around her throat, still there but no longer pressing. He's looming, huffing out, right into her face, breath sharp and bitter with the residue of cocaine (which would explain his eyes), but that initial burst of anger is gone.

Violet tries to breathe, and forces herself calm. "I'm sorry." Tate's bad mood buckles. He releases her, drags his thumb over the front of her throat, under her chin, and leans in to nose at her cheek.

"Who is he?" he asks in a strained voice, hand sliding up into Violet's hair, and she is sure this time that what she's hearing is something close to hurt.

You can send him away, she tells herself when his lips brush over the edge of her jaw. But she has a visceral reaction to the idea of never seeing him again. A freezing terror unlike anything she'd ever felt rushes over her and settles low in her stomach, heavy and unbearable. She can't imagine it, going back to the way things were before Tate, being trapped here with Gabe, isolated in Murder House and inside of herself. The decision to absolve him, then and there, of every sin isn't a decision at all. It's an impulse. Like that, she just doesn't care. Something in her blood sings for him. It's more than want or need.

Any pretense of professionalism gone, Violet puts her hand to the bare triangle of skin visible above Tate's hoodie zipper. "My boyfriend, Gabe," she admits quietly, and Tate, he fucking growls. His hand tightens in her hair and angling her face, kisses her, rough and hurried and claiming.

They spend the remainder of the session connected in every way they can be. He drags her down onto the rug and takes her there, and again on the couch. They don't bring up Gabe anymore or all the things he's done. She doesn't ask why the fuck he's doing coke or let her fingers brush over the wound she closed. It's beyond dysfunctional, there isn't a word for what they're doing, but she feels more alive here, tights ripped, with come leaking down her thigh and riding Tate with both hands knotted into his hoodie, than she ever has before.

When the sky outside is getting dark, there's a rumble up the driveway. Violet freaks. "Shit, Gabe's home!" she hisses, but Tate's up, dressed, and out the window before the door's unlocked downstairs.

"Don't kill yourself!" Violet half-laughs half-screams at him, but it shouldn't surprise her that he has no trouble scaling the rain gutter and dropping down onto the grass. He waves when he gets to the car and she can't help her smile, lights a cigarette and then goes to start the shower before Gabe can climb the stairs and bellow up at her. She kind of hates washing Tate from her skin so soon, his smell like trouble all over her. But she'll settle for the pleasant ache between her legs, a favorite reminder that she's lost her mind, that maybe she doesn't even want it back.

Violet wears newfound madness like a silk slip, underneath all her clothes where no one can see, but where she can feel it. With every step or twist, dragging along her skin, setting her alight.

She doesn't question herself anymore, doesn't wonder why she hasn't turned Tate over to the authorities or how many people he's killed, if any, or whether or not she should be fucking around behind Gabe's back. She lets instinct lead her now, only doing what feels right in the moment. (Maybe Otto Gross wasn't such a nutjob after all). In a show of this wild flippancy, Violet drops all of her patients in the span of a week. Psychiatry just isn't for her, she decides one lazy morning, swinging in the hammock out back with a blood mary in one hand and her cell in the other. None of them understand. They bitch and moan and cry, but she offers them all the same number they can call for referrals and hangs the fuck up. There's only one patient her doors are still open for, and what's going on during their sessions, well, it's a different kind of treatment.

Tate doesn't skip out or cancel anymore. He's either on time or early for every meeting, perched at the top of the stairs or wandering the halls, peering into rooms when Violet calls him inside.

"Not so fucking loud," Violet chastises, but there's no threat in her voice. With Tate between her thighs, it's more moan than anything. Even so, he nods and drags the desk away from the wall, Violet's legs clamped around his waist to keep him inside. Hands back on her hips, he pants, "better?" and thrusts experimentally to gauge the sound it makes, if any.

Gabe is home sick, passed out down the hall on a bottle of Nyquil, or so she hopes. He's been missing work like crazy lately, has a feeble excuse each day, but it's obvious something's wrong. Violet would ask, but she doesn't really care to know and therefore just leaves him in the dark to sweat out whatever's gotten under his skin alone.

There's less of a telling thump now, and so Violet grins and praises Tate with a wet kiss, both hands draped over his neck, keeping him bent over her and right up close.

"Are you going to tell him?" he asks sometime later, when the edges of her vision have gone fuzzy and all she can hear is his heavy stutter of breath. She would answer, but then she's dropping off the face of the earth and looping through the cosmos.

"I'm hungry," Tate whines to Violet's breast one day, nestled into her chest.

Violet sighs, curling a tendril of bright blonde hair around her littlest finger. "Gabe's downstairs watching "the game" or something."

Tate makes a petulant sound and sticks out his lower lip, fashioning his face into a dramatic pout. Violet rolls her eyes, about to tell him no, that it's too dangerous, but then a thrill jolts her at the idea and she's dragging him up to her feet.

Dressed in only her bra and a pencil skirt, no panties, Violet leads him carefully, slowly down the stairs. They tiptoe through the foyer and past the entrance to the family room where Gabe is shouting belligerently at the television screen. Tate pauses to gawk with one raised brow, staring at the back of a head of dark curls. "What did you ever see in this jerkoff?" he whispers. Violet just throws him a look and drags his judgey ass into the kitchen with a huff.

Some days, Tate will decide that these weekly meetings aren't enough. He wants more. He wants coffee dates and dinner reservations. He wants to pretend that they're normal, that they aren't one part homicidal and one part wretched cheater.

"It's just not a good idea," she sighs, doing up the buttons of her blouse. Tate pauses in looping his belt to look at her. He chews his bottom lip and inhales like he's going to say something, but he doesn't. He just exhales, slow and measured, and nods.

When he leaves after conversations like these, it's without a see you next week or sometimes even a loaded later, doc. He'll close the door behind himself carefully and slink down the stairs, silent in a way she didn't think people could be, and Violet will sit slumped at her desk and wonder when and how this whole mess is going to come to a head.

A few nights later, Violet's in the middle of a shower when the curtain is ripped from its rungs.

It takes her a moment to come down from the shock of that. When she's caught up, Gabe's stepped under the water, fully clothed, and is pressing her up against the tiled wall.

"I've missed you," he says, his touch unwelcoming, but everywhere at once. Violet counters with a sharp, "you're drunk," and tries to slip out of his hold, but he's too strong and she can't get her footing.

Gabe's hand sinks to probe between her legs. "It's been so long," he sighs, nosing against the side of Violet's neck. His fingers are rough when they part her and worm inside and she wants to cry, but she won't. She shoves at his chest, grabs for his wrist, but then he's got a forearm pressed over her collarbones and she can't move at all.

"Gabe!" she screams, loud enough to startle him. "Let me go!"

He reels back to meet her eyes, cold and defiant, and then he obeys. He releases her, leaves her empty, and then without a hint of warning, slaps her hard across the cheek.

Violet recoils in horror, holding her face, palm curved over where it throbs worst, and pushes Gabe clear out of the shower. He stumbles and falls and she's able to evade his swinging arms as she makes her escape. Grabbing a towel from the sink, she's out the hall and sprinting for her car, traitor tears rolling down her face.

She puts makeup over the ugly bruise the next time they meet, terrified of what Tate would do if he knew, but when she opens the front door to him it's the very first thing he sees. He's barely got his umbrella closed before he's reaching for her. She tries to casually spin out of his touch.

"Come in," Violet says quietly, but there's no fooling him. He curls a hand around her shoulder.


Reluctant, feeling not so fearless, she turns back to face him, eyes downcast. His fingers are feather-light when they sweep over the mark, but his expression is anything but gentle. "What happened?"

At first she wants to lie, just say that she fell or bumped into something, that she was being clumsy, that's all. But she didn't trip or fall. This wasn't her fault. Gabe did this. Her boyfriend, the man she's been with for years, hit her in the face. Why protect him? Tate is a monster, but never to her.

"Gabe," she says at last, voice muffled in the front of Tate's jacket. He'd reeled her in by the back of the neck, wound a heavy arm around her shoulder, his lips brushing over the edge of her temple. But now he's carefully untangling himself from her and before she can stop him, bolting into the next room.

"Where are you, motherfucker?" he seethes, and she can hear the sound of furniture being toppled over but not her boyfriend's voice.

When Tate's come to the conclusion that the downstairs is empty, after a few long minutes of searching, he stalks back into the hallway. He's vibrating, anger boiling over, and it might be scary if it didn't make her feel so safe. She stands there, watching him, fingers curled into the sleeves of her shirt, and only has to nod when he points up the stairs.

"Stay here," he says, thick through his teeth, and she does, but only barely. She can hear his footfalls as he treads down the hall and even they sound angry. What's he going to do?

It's quiet, and then just the sound of a toilet flushing, and then, a beat later, a door is being broken.

Violet walks up to the bottommost stair and peers up after the commotion. She can hear two voices now, both of them male, both of them fucking rabid. Tate says something she can't discern and then a mirror breaks. She can feel it shattering, it trips through her bones and all she can do is stand there and hope it wasn't Tate whose face met glass. She doesn't have to wonder for long. A minute later, Gabe is fleeing down the stairs. He's bleeding from the brow and his nose looks broken. There's something deadly in his eyes when he sees her, but this once, he keeps his mouth shut. Frantic, he pushes Violet out of the way and rushes for the door.

He's outside and in his car before Tate reaches the first level. The engine sputters to life and Tate makes like he wants to follow the sound, but Violet's put herself in the doorway, blocking his exit.

"Move," he hisses, but she shakes her head. Rage rolls off of him in waves. "Why?" Gabe backs out into the street and speeds off and Tate honest to god growls, eyes slitted and teeth bared.

"Because. You were going to kill him." She's found her voice again, and she's right.

Tate lets out a breath and wets his lips, nostrils flaring. "And?"

She makes a face at that, an are-you-fucking-kidding-me? face, and steps out from under the doorframe. Tate loses it all over again.

"Don't be so fucking weak! He hit you!" He gestures to her cheek with an angry wave. "That cocksucker raised a hand to you and you're just going to let him get away with it? That's bullshit Violet, and you know it." He makes sense, everything he's saying makes sense, but she fumes at the gall he has to call her weak. Maybe you are, she thinks, and just to prove that she isn't, not anymore, she shows Tate the door. "Get out." Her tone is cutting. It bears no argument, and he only gives her a dark, pitying look, before he's stalking out the door, fists clenched at his sides.

When his car starts up and the sound of it fades away, she locks the door and makes her way upstairs to assess the damage her two monsters have done to the house. She's shaken up, but it's nothing a drink can't cure.

There are spatters of blood all down the hallway and into the bathroom. Violet stares down at them, this twisted little trail of breadcrumbs, and she smiles. Because fuck Gabe. This isn't what he deserves, but it's a start. She knows that with an unshakeable certainty.

Fingers ghosting over the still-sore spot on her cheek, Violet lets loose a weight-lifting sigh and lets her feet slip through the mess as she skates towards the master bedroom in her socks.

Violet doesn't see Tate or Gabe for the next four days. Without patients, or friends, she's stuck at home and driven stir crazy by the monotony of breakfast, television, lunch, nap, dinner, book, bed.

Moira reluctantly mops up the blood upstairs and calls to have repairs made to the bathroom, both without so much as a raised eyebrow as to what must have happened. For that, Violet is thankful. And to show her thanks, she gives the old bat the weekend off. Moira stares at her for a long moment with her one good eye before thanking her and mentioning something about visiting her infirmed mother.

Her face heals, smooth and unblemished again, but Violet almost wishes it would have scarred. The proof of Gabe's sin shouldn't be able to just disappear, she won't let it. She wears it inwardly, a constant reminder of what human beings are capable of, of how vile and filthy they really are. She's bruised inside, an IOU scrawled into her rib bone, scratched into the back of her skull, floating through her veins. And when Gabe comes home, back from whatever hole he's scurried down, she'll cash them all in. Because she's through being his submissive, cowering away from arguments and ignoring his wrongs to keep peace. That Violet is gone.

She's at a quiet diner down the street just to get out of the house, having a cup of black coffee and sifting through her email when someone sits down in the booth opposite her. Something impatient she can't identify that's been simmering right under her skin for days prompts Violet to lift her eyes and snap at the stranger. But it isn't a stranger she finds, it's Tate.

"Hi," He says, waving his hand awkwardly, like a white flag. "I thought I saw you over here."

Still angry, irrationally angry that he would call her weak and take off like that, she makes a noise and turns back to her phone.

He sighs defeatedly and pushes one hand through his hair, then the other before pulling up his hoodie and toying with the chewed drawstrings. She tries to ignore his fidgeting, but when he starts shaking his foot under the table, enough is enough.

"Stop!" she instructs, exasperated, reaching out to grab his hands and force them down against the tabletop. He lets her pin them there and fashions her with a guilty look. "I'm sorry," he says slowly, "for the other day." (There it is again, genuine emotion, less and less rare for Tate these days.)

Anger swells inside her, but falls away just as quickly. "It's okay." She lets her hands remain draped over his for few seconds longer before realizing that people might recognize her here and notice that Tate is not, in fact, Gabe. She collects them again and folds them neatly in her lap, lips quirking into a sad half-smile at Tate's knowing disappointment.

"How are you?"

"I'm... good, I think. Yeah, good."

"And Gabe?" He does little to mask the malice in his tone. Tate's fingers coil into trembling fists at the mention of his name alone.

Violet wets her lips and only keeps from reaching out to uncurl his hands by sheer will alone. "He hasn't come home."

"And when he does?" Tate asks, too soon. It's clear that it's not just one question he's asking here. He wants to know if Violet's going to tell Gabe about who the guy was that beat him up, if she's going to leave him, if she's going to turn Gabe in for domestic abuse, if she's going to turn Tate in for fucking up her boyfriend's face. It's all right there in the pinch between his brows.

Violet knows the answers to some of these questions, but she doesn't assuage Tate's worries. She looks past him to see that their hushed voices have earned some attention and exhales a vague, "I don't know."

Then, she's downing the rest of her coffee and sliding out of the booth. Pocketing her phone, she gets to her feet and hovers at the end of the table. "Goodbye, Tate," she says quietly, and even though she shouldn't, she can't resist bending down to brush her lips over the apple of his cheek. But he won't let her go that easily. He curves a hand around the back of her neck to keep her there and turns to whisper in her ear. "I want to see you," he breathes. "I'm coming by tonight." She wants to say no, but she can't. She nods and straightens up when he lets her go, leaving before her failing restraint crumples and she returns to yank him out of the diner.

World War III is waiting at the bottom of the stairs when Violet gets home. Her hear very nearly rockets right out of her chest at the sudden shock of seeing Gabe sitting there in the foyer, head hanging heavy between his shoulders. It snaps up though, when the door swings shut. Violet backs up against it out of some inherent sense of self-preservation and fastens the curtains of her hair behind both ears. Something about the way he looks at her unravels whatever courage she thought she'd found.

"Hello, Violet," Gabe says with an almost amused smile, lips quirked up like he knows something she doesn't, like there's a secret pressed up against the backs of his teeth, just itching to be let loose. She doesn't want to look at his mouth, or his face for that matter, but she's drawn to the white strips stapled over the bridge of his nose and up one eyebrow. The skin around them is discolored, muddled yellow-browns and blunt red-purples, and it's puffy. She doesn't have to wonder if Tate broke his nose, there's no question. The only sick curiosity she's hooked on is how?

Violet ruminates on that for a moment, draws up several scenarios for what might have happened upstairs that day, if the damage was done by the mirror or Tate's fists, or both. There's a chip of porcelain missing from the sink that she's thumbed over the past few mornings, wondering. The entire upstairs is an abandoned battlefield.

Gabe makes an impatient sound that brings Violet out of her head. "Hello," she says after a beat, calmly, sweet even, emboldened by the brutal evidence of Tate's affection. That broken nose looks like her name feels when it's being breathed out into the space between her shoulder blades, it vibrates right through her. She has to fight a shudder.

He only stays sitting for another second, hands steepled in his lap, looking like some druglord's errand boy, ready to bash in her kneecaps. Then he's pushing up onto his feet, movements slow and calculated. He's not drunk, for once, but his eyes are that endless black. They remind her of Tate's. "Where were you?"

She finds the backbone to scoff. "What?"

Anger, white hot, flashes through his features, but he schools them back into a dead calm quickly, opening and closing his hands idly at his sides. "I said, where the fuck were you, Violet?" he grates out, and she's struck again by a twinge of fear.

"I went out for a drink," she says casually, and then, before she has time to react, he's right in her face, hands snapping onto her arms. "You went out for a drink?" he mimics, voice bitter. "I know you went out for a fucking drink!"

Violet caps the weakness she can feel seeping out in response to that voice and gives him a look like he's crazy. But when she opens her mouth to call him on it, he's clapping a palm over her lips and backing her up against the door, holding her there.

She push-pull breathes through her nose, both hands wrapped uselessly around his forearm. Something newly familiar prickles up under her skin. It tells her not to scream, or even fight.

What he says next, it's like he has to fight to get the words out; they're dripping with venom. "One of my co-stars, Brian, he was there. He fucking saw you, Violet." Violet's eyes slim, and even with half of her face hidden she looks cruel and disbelieving. Gabe rages and presses her more firmly against the door, fingers curling over her mouth, cutting crescents into her cheek.

"I know, okay, Violet? I know what's going on. I know all about it." He's speaking through his teeth, face so dark she can't climb out. "You fucking slut."

That's where Violet's patience ends. She snaps at his palm and surges against him, tries to squirm out of his arms because this can't be happening. Gabe cannot lose his shit over what appeared to be nothing more than a coffee date between friends, not when he's stumbled home smelling like skank and sex more times than she cares to count.

With a great deal of struggle, she's able to prize his hand away from her mouth. Taking a gulp of breath, she says, "Get the fuck off of me," and sinks her teeth into the side of his wrist. Gabe yelps, but he doesn't let her go. He gets an arm across her sternum, just like in the shower, and pins her there. Then he laughs, this deep humorless roar.

"That's not what you tell him," he smirks, and grinds his hips against Violet. A sickening haze lurches through her at the pressure, and then another at the realization of what that is. There's something wedged against her hip, too hard and angled to be his cock. Gabe brought a fucking gun home.

She gags.

A laugh pops out of him at the sound, it provokes him. "Yeah, so you admit it? To fucking that nutjob? What's it like, letting a psychopath stick his dick in you? You're pathetic!"

Whatever was lurking just under the surface, it takes hold of her. Violet's eyes fall closed at the sensation, an almost cooling calm settling over her. She goes slack in Gabe's grip and takes a breath, then two, in and out, basking in the quiet of the room, ignorant of his breath, hot and possessive.

When she opens her eyes, she's grinning. Her smile is sharp like the edge of a knife, until it slides open. With a guttural hack, Violet rears back and spits in Gabe's face, aims for those bandages like love holding it closed. It stuns him, literally gives him pause. He freezes in disbelief and horror and so much rage, and it's just enough time for Violet to get out of his grasp.

She makes a mad dash for the kitchen, for the phone, to call 9-1-1. Gabe's right on her heels, a booming, "Violet!" chasing her into the other room. Her shoes slip over the wood, but she recovers without falling, puts the kitchen island between herself and the doorway.

"Stay the fuck away from me, Gabe!" Violet screams, fingers flying over the buttons. She can barely hear it's ringing over the violent sawing of her own breath. Her heart is doing jumping jacks inside, out of its mind too.

It's at her ear when she sees him again. He's not chasing her anymore. He's walking slowly, striding purposefully into the room, shoulders shaking. Hands shaking. There's a gun in his right. It's pointed straight at her. She presses her lips together and fights to stay calm, but she doesn't drop the phone.

"Hello?" the operator says, loud enough that Gabe can hear. He's watching her with those hard black eyes. They're running this show, what's been up his nose and down the back of his throat. She knows that but it doesn't make what's happening any less real. Violet wets her lips.


Gabe waves the gun at the phone, telling her to hang the fuck up.

With one glance at the receiver, and another at the dark barrel, she does. Without looking away, she lowers the phone to the counter. "Gabe..."

He clenches his jaw so hard his cheeks dimple. "You fucked up, Violet," he says, too quietly, too sure.

Violet watches him re-grip the gun and she watches him take a step closer, and then another, until he's only feet away, arms outstretched, putting her up close and personal with the end of his (stolen?) weapon. She knows she should be scared, that her brains are probably going to be all over the cabinets in a few seconds, but when she searches out the emotion, it's nowhere to be found. If anything, she feels numb.

Her vision goes fuzzy and she wonders when Tate was planning on coming over, if he's going to end up being the one to call the police, if he'll still think she's pretty with half of her head gone. She thinks of his wide smile, of his slender fingers and of that freckle at the tip of his nose. Is this some creeper version of my life flashing before my eyes, she snickers internally, remembering the way his hand felt cuffed around the back of her neck, heavy and desperate.

Her mind wanders until Gabe shrieks, "What the fuck, Violet!" half hysterical. She blinks him back into focus, looking past the gun barrel to see him so fucking scared. Maybe he knows the severity of what he's doing, or maybe the cocaine's just pushed him out of orbit. Either way, he looks unhinged, how she feels. That's when she moves.

Encouraged by a burst of adrenaline, Violet takes one look at the phone still in her hand, clunky and outdated, before reeling back and chucking it, fastball, straight at Gabe's head.

She's not sure what she hits because she's barreling into him to knock the gun out of his grip, but he makes this horrible sound that tells her it must have been square in the nose. "You fucking cunt!" he rages, when she collides with him, limbs flying.

There's a struggle then, between a spitfire girl and her poisonous boy. They knock into the wall and claw and bite. He pulls her hair, jerks his arm that's caught in her grasp, and Violet hurls her head forwards. The satisfying crunch his nose makes, followed by the gush of blood that pours down her brow almost makes up for what happens next. In Gabe's stricken thrashing, the gun goes off.

For a long, precious moment, she doesn't know what's happened. She just wipes at the thick warm liquid rolling down her face and spits out a mouthful of copper taste. Then she feels it, this intense burning in her leg, dull only due to being so wired. Gabe stumbles blindly and falls, and Violet crumples, met with the sight of a deep dark hole dug right through the flesh of her thigh.

On the floor, folded over to hold her leg, feeling it more and more now that she can see what's happened.

"Fucking fuck, that fucking hurt," she hisses to herself, snarling down at the bullet wound. Blood bubbles up and leaks down either side of her leg, staining her tights, slipping into the tile's grout. She tries experimentally to bend her knee, crying out when a sharp bolt of pain sears her. "Okay then, not moving," she says, strangely calm, letting her eyes leave the wound for a moment, trying to breathe.

The gun is lying next to her shin, forgotten. Gabe is spitting mad just a few feet off, slumped against the wall and trying fruitlessly to slow the flow of blood. The entire front of his shirt is red with it. She lets herself take that sight in for a moment, and then she's stretching, reaching. And it hurts, jesus it hurts. But she gets there, pulls it towards her and latches onto it like her last lifeline. It is.

The gun feels strange and heavy in her hand, but safe too. It's the kind of safety she soaks in when Tate's around. It's danger and darkness, life and death.

But now it's her finger on the trigger.

"You fucking shot me," she says, and there's humor in her tone, disbelief too. "I can't believe you thought you could just fucking shoot me." Gabe must get the picture something's wrong because he lowers his head to look at her. His eyes widen comically when he sees what's in her hand.

Pinching his nose with one hand, he rolls his eyes. "Please, Violet," he sighs condescendingly, far more concerned with his face than the fact that she's got a revolver and it's pointed straight ahead. "You're gonna hurt yourself, just put the gun down."

Violet narrows her eyes, pressing down against the throbbing in her leg. Gabe huffs out a laugh when she doesn't concede. He lifts a hand in mock surrender and then, when she still doesn't lower the weapon, he falls back onto anger.

"Put the fucking gun down," he growls. "This is pathetic. We both know you aren't going to shoot me. We both know you're a fucking coward, Vi. That's why you never fought me on the other girls and that's why you're going to stop seeing that therapy-dickwad. We can just pretend this never happened. I forgive you, okay? Let's just move past this." His words get more and more panicky the longer she holds steady, until his cool is barely there. But Violet doesn't want to hear it. She's seeing red.

He forgives her?

She's a fucking coward and he forgives her? You cheating, abusive bastard, she wants to scream, but she doesn't have to. Because she's got something in her hands that speaks a fuckload louder than words. The madness Tate's love bore swells, rises up and out of her skin. It encases her entirely, leaves her feeling like a supervillain.

"I love him, Gabe," Violet says with a pitying smile, There's no point denying it now, her dirty little secret, that walks and talks and fucks and fights. "That crazy fucking psychopath? He's mine."

And then, when Gabe's teeth gnash and he gets that look like murder, Violet lines up her aim, and without any hesitation at all, squeezes off a single shot.

It gets Gabe in the gut and blood blooms beautiful across his shirt. She watches, rapt, his shock-and-awe face fuzzy and unfocused in the edges of her vision. Her bones still tremble from the kick of the gun, from the pop!, from the air being punched out of Gabe's lungs.

Once he sweats the initial daze, he's pressing a hand over the thick seep of blood and turning his gaze on Violet. "You fucking cunt," he hisses, kicking out his foot at where she's puddled. "I'll fucking kill you!"

High up in the clouds, drunk on power and revenge, Violet just giggles and pulls herself across the floor. She leaves a snail trail of red on the floor, but the pain in her leg is next to nonexistent now. He recoils at her advance, eyes blazing with reluctant fear, and it's such a good fucking look for him. She wishes he'd wear that face all the time, terrified of how strong she is now, how strong Tate made her.

When she's made it to where he's splayed out, almost close enough to touch, Violet begins tracing the gun in her hand fondly, humming quietly to herself. "I want to play a game," she says cheerily, and lifts her eyes to watch him splinter. For once he's without words. He simply holds both hands over the hole she made and watches as Violet pops open the chamber and plucks out every bullet.

"Pick one," she says then, when they're piled up in her tiny palm and it's extended out in invitation. Gabe takes one look at what's in her hand and huffs a violent breath through his nose. Violet wilts. "Suit yourself," she shrugs, and pops a random round inside before sending the rest scattering over the tile. Gabe swallows loudly but it's lost in the spin-click of her starting the game.

"Okay, do you know what game we're playing?" Violet sing-songs, cocking the gun and waving it in front of his face. He makes to grab it, but she's too quick. "Uh-uh," she chides, waving it like a finger now, all smiles.

A few short moments go by, punctuated only by Gabe's labored breathing. Violet looks expectant.

"No guesses?" She sounds disappointed. But her mouth only flickers into a frown for a beat, then she's got the barrel of her new friend pressed just under the Gabe's ear, angled just so.

"Violet, what the fuck? Just. Please - just wait a minute." He's babbling and not only is it futile, but it's getting a little goddamn annoying. She's all out of patience. "No!" she barks, good mood split open at his inability to just accept the inevitable, and jams the cold metal more firmly against his skin, pressing her spare hand down against her wound. It whinges.

She gets two empty shots off before Gabe breaks down, throat raw from begging. "Please, Violet! Please!" He's shaking all over, teeth chattering, eyes squeezed tight and leaking, but she's so far past pity for this putrid boy she can hardly stand to look at him. It will be easier when he's got a hole to stare through.

"You're bad for me, Gabe," Violet reasons calmly, turning his chin towards her with the edge of the gun. "You've hurt me."

Gabe chokes on a sob. "I know, I know. Jesus fuck, I'm sorry - so, so sorry..." he snivels, and for a second, she wants to believe him. The girl that believes in fairy tales and happily ever afters comes clawing up the back of her throat. She want to say okay and we can fix this and i love you. But when the words bubble up to boil over, Violet buries them with a laugh instead. She laughs until her cheeks hurt, until her vision is swimming, forehead tipped forward to rest against Gabe's shoulder. She laughs because he's such a fucking liar, because he's the filth that Tate's been talking about all along. He's kept her trapped in his love, smothered, like a flower in the dark. But what he didn't count on was that she might adapt to all that darkness. That she might learn to drink from it like sunlight, let it fill her up. She spilling over with it now.

Schooling her vicious trembling, Violet calms and lifts her chin. Without any emotion at all, she takes a slow, steadying breath and says, "Me too."

The third chamber isn't empty. She barely has a chance to recognize the swirl of terror and regret that settles onto Gabe's face before his entire expression goes slack.

Her chest caves in at the sound. Her ears ring. She can't process what's just happened, that Gabe is fucking gone. That he's dead. That she's killed him.

The wall at Gabe's opposite temple is spattered, slick and chunky. She wants to trace the ragged hole below his ear, but she doesn't. She drops the gun at last and lets all the air rush out of her in a so-relieved sigh.

Leant against the wall, exhaustion catching up with her, Violet dares a look down at her leg. The skin around it's looking gray and it's still leaking blood, but she's too hopped up to feel it much. So rather than tearing off a tourniquet, Violet just watches tiny streams of red trickle out and the stain on her tights spreads. She's spinning without moving at all.


Her face snaps up so fast her neck twinges. But Gabe isn't moving. He's tipped sideways, silent forever. She can breathe again.

Tate stumbles in a second later, and she gets to watch the slideshow of emotions that cross his face when he sees her sitting there on the floor. And Gabe, sitting too. He kind of just stands there in the doorway for a second, mouth open, catching flies. And even though Violet is maybe bleeding out, she smiles, because it's nice to see him surprised for once.

"Hi Tate," Violet huffs, while Tate's brain plays catch up. He shakes himself back to the present pretty quick, considering, and rushes over in that next moment.

"Holy shit, holy shit," he sputters, over and over, crouched at the scene of the crime. "What the fuck - are you okay? Jesus, Violet!" His hands are restless, cupping her cheek preciously and pushing down over the knuckles hiding her pain. It's cute seeing him worked up like this. Violet has to cover her smile.

But Tate doesn't notice her quiet amusement. He wrangles in his worry and breathes slow and easy. "Tell me what happened," he says on an exhale, combing Violet's hair away from her brow. Her forehead is sticky with blood where she butted Gabe in the nose. It's halfway dried, tacky to touch; Tate licks at his sleeves and wipes what he can off, brushing his fingers down the curve of her jaw. He hasn't spared Gabe a second glance. It's like there's he's not even there, with unseeing eyes, emptied of life.

Violet leans into monster boy's touch, and talks with her eyes closed. "He was here when I came home. He had a gun, was gonna kill me. Ha." She hiccups a laugh. "Guess things didn't go his way." Tate gives her a cautious eye, but then he smiles, and it's nothing if not proud.

"Good girl," he whispers, ducking in close to hold her chin between two fingers and press his mouth to hers. It's a chaste kiss, but it sparks all through her, like every Tate-touch does. Her head is swimming with untimely want when he pulls back from her face to gather her in his arms.

"Ow. Ow, ow!" she hisses, winding her arms around his neck as he stands, trying to position her in his arms. He's careful to keep her hurt leg unbent.

Standing in the kitchen, he stalls for a minute, maybe for her. Violet is staring down at Gabe from up in Tate's arms. She looks upon the holes she left, and all that blood. He looks better like this, she decides quickly, turning back into the solid warmth of Tate's chest.

"What now?" she asks, fully aware that there's no going back after this. A flash of prison bars sweeps through her mind, but she closes her eyes against it and shakes her head, fighting back the jolt of fear the image inspires. Something tells her claiming self-defense just isn't going to cut it here.

Tate takes a long calculating look at the kitchen, at the whole bloody mess. Violet's fingers screw into the hairs at his nape, anxious. But then his mouth quirks up on one side and he lowers his eyes to her.

"I know a place," he says easily, with the hint of a secret smile, and then he's walking them out of the house. She watches it recede from over his shoulder, saying her silent goodbyes, and an i'm sorry for Moira, who will most likely discover what she's done. Something like sadness blankets her at the idea of leaving this place forever, but it's dull next to the other emotions rolling through her.

The sky is almost dark, dusted a light purple everywhere except the horizon, where it's burning gold. Tate wings open the back door and lays Violet out gently, helping to straighten her leg as best he can without hurting her. She frowns at being put in the back, but he catches it and climbs in after her, assuaging her with a lingering kiss.

"I love you," he says against her mouth, pulling out the drawstring of his hoodie to tie it around her thigh in a makeshift tourniquet. She squirms happily, then winces, reaching out to push back his bangs. "I love you too," she says, small and reserved in a way you wouldn't think a murderer could be.

Another fond look and Tate's backing out of the car and closing the door to move up front.

"Why'd you have to toss that sewing kit?" he scolds to her reflection in the rearview mirror, adjusting its view, and starts up the car.

Violet snorts and snakes a hand through the crack between his seat and the door to latch on to the elbow of Tate's sleeve.

"Shut up and drive," she hums, letting her head fall back against the door, and he gives her a soldierly salute.

They leave Murder House that night for who knows where, but Violet isn't scared. The car's filled with madness and cigarettes - the latter of which she suddenly craves - and with Tate at the wheel, she can breathe easy for the first time and close her eyes, so ready to enjoy the spoils of war.

The End