Title: Under the Bed
Pairing: Katie/Cook/Effy, Naomi/Emily
Rating: R for Language
Summary: Katie centric. Gen 2 post series 4.
Something I wasn’t sure of
but I was in the middle of.
- This is the Last Time by Keane
So this is a sequel to INTO THE CORNER . If you haven’t read it I recommend you do.
I mean you don't have to...I suppose...
but it'd be great if you did.
Freddie Mcclair has the saddest fucking eyes. Christ, the boy looks like he’s just stepped out of a warzone, complete with raggedy clothes and exhausted eyes. She ignores Coop-Cod-Cake, whatever the fuck his name was, literally shouting at the top of his lungs from the rooftops with the geek JJ and chases after him. She can’t explain why. But the way he’s just slumping around, the way he walks with such an air of disappointment and disapproval speaks her for some reason. He’s also easy on the eyes, and not completely fashion deprived. That’ll be the day: when Freddie Mcclair loses his fashion sense, all Hell will break loose.
“Freddie!” she calls out to him.
He turns and smiles. “Katie, right?” It begins slowly, with some tongue-in-cheek remarks about Cook (that’s his name) and his arse, about Naomi and her mouth, about Emily of all people. He walks her to class and drops her off with another silly grin and she thinks yeah. Yeah this’ll do.
It becomes a bit of a habit, really, the walking to classes, and really it’s pretty sweet to have a man on hand so quickly after Danny. He does this cute leaning thing where he lowers himself completely to whisper something in a crowded hallway. And whether it’s sweet or not, all the girls look on in envy so one afternoon, she grabs him by his bag strap and kisses him hard.
Later in the week he calls her up and shows her his shed. It’s a sad shack, really, and nearly empty due to his bitch sister and something about cleaning it out to be her gym. It’s all striking too close to home, the bitch relative coming into your personal space for their own athletic intent, and Katie puts a comforting hand on his shoulder.
“Erm, hello? Care to knock next time?” Karen says when she pushes the door open on them on the couch.
“It’s my shed.”
“You have a room.”
Freddie flicks her forehead with his fingers as they go out and Katie laughs. He laces his hand around hers as he leads her upstairs to his room. Yeah, she thinks. Yeah this’ll definitely do.
August 15 and after several angry phone calls bordering on maniacal, Katie’s finally enrolled at U of Bristol. It’s better than staying home, or worse; actually co-working with her mother again on the gardening plan she’s now concocted. It’s actually like, not that hard. You know. School.
When you don’t have to worry about your idiot twin sister prancing about with daft lesbian tendencies, and your boyfriend isn’t a greasy fuck or in love with someone else, and the girl you thought was your best friend is actually your best friend and not smashing your head in with a rock; school isn’t that hard.
Most nights are spent doing homework by Effy’s bed or reading her to sleep. The material’s dull enough, really. And the house is
scary quiet. Some nights she wakes up to some rustling downstairs and stops herself from throwing keys down to an absent-minded Emily who isn’t there. Emily’s never there anymore. Even the kitchen misses her, with its blinds that only now open if Katie actively does so, and the coffee is never quite as toasty and she doesn’t make French toast on the weekends.
And the flowers are dying. Fucking dying. They’ve stopped wilting and they’re just giving up now.
Sometimes she misses Naomi, and her fucking big mouth, and her obnoxious singing in the shower, and her disgusting garibaldis, and her eco-friendly soaps in the bathroom and fair trade chocolate and the way she’d make Emily laugh even on her worst days.
It’s probably nine thirty at night when they decide it’s time to leave the club and take Effy back. She’s been allowed one night out a week, something she takes full advantage of the moment she’s out. “Let’s go out for a drink,” Effy said casually the moment they walked out, and the idea sounded pretty counter-productive, but something in Katie tickled when she looked into the shorter girl’s eyes. ‘What the fuck anyway. It’s what she wants.’ In any case, Effy’s been feeling more energetic than usual and Katie’s taken full advantage of it, unknowing of when this exciting burst of energy will end, and a rude dose of reality will kick in again.
They always end up going to the club around the corner, which doesn’t have the best music, or the hottest blokes, but enough to shake and turn heads respectively. It’s loud and pumping a fire-red energy Katie can only describe as ‘Emily’ when Effy finally loosens up after a few cheap tequila shots. “Dance with me,” she says dreamily, pulling Katie into the crowd, and for a moment, Katie’s solely pulled in by the brunette’s eyes; hazy and seductively full of promise. They dance together amongst heated bodies, pressing and pulling. It’s all a bit ridiculous, but Effy sashays her waist and tosses her head just so, it’s enough to let Katie relax.
They celebrate Katie’s successful midterms in early October with some more drinks, although Effy stops at her buzz. They dance and dance and wait for blokes to approach them, because they always do, because Effy flirts with her eyes and Katie flirts with her entire body, and both do so so passively. Oh hello there it’s about time you showed up, you’ve been watching me for the past hour. They’re blowing off the fifth one of the night when Katie says she’s thirsty.
“Refreshments coming up,” Effy says and moves herself out of the dancing crowd to a pack of blokes standing around, also been eying her for a while. A few unheard exchanged words and Effy’s walking over to the bar with them, winking at Katie with a ‘perfection’ hand gesture.
Katie shakes her head in amusement. Leave it to Effy Stonem. Always the alluring one. To be honest, Katie would’ve jumped off a cliff for her in their first semester if it meant getting some one-on-one time with the girl. Although she’d never admit to that. Instead she closes her eyes once more and sways to the music, hard and fast, thumping against her chest and making the sweat just pour straight out against her cleavage. The room is smoky and strobe-lit, the images and figures around her just moving faster and faster, falling against one another and blending into one large portrait-
she catches a green polo in the crowd.
She doesn’t know how she manages to catch anything with the air so thick and the music so loud it fucks your head up even without alcohol but somewhere, sometime between the beat and the heat, she catches sight of a green polo in the crowd and a familiar cheshire grin. A sight that grabs at something inside her, pulling and pulling her every which way she decides she doesn’t like at all. But taken in by it, she shoves the arse dancing against her and makes her way towards the direction, she thinks it’s this direction, of the figure. The music picks up and the losers around her dance faster and faster, twisting and turning, pushing and falling against her she nearly loses her balance a good four times. She’s lost track of the polo but she continues to wade against the crowd, desperate to see the shade, maybe the grin, desperate for something, something—Effy smashes up against her with schnapps she pushes into her hands, clinks with her own glass and downs in a second.
“You’re distracted,” Effy says simply.
“I thought I-”
She does. Effy leads her back to the dance floor.
Thankfully everyone starts around the same time and so Emily and Naomi come down for two weeks before the 27th to bask in the dying summer of September before heading back to school. Well, Naomi. Emily seems to be just fine wasting away, working this crap 9 to 5 job at some sugar shack down the street. Sure they seem to enjoy it just fine and have settled into this stupid crap domesticity that frankly Katie thinks Emily’s always been cut out for anyway but still.
She arrives at the station ten minutes too early, and though she’s promised she’d only come by after Emily’d called her, there really was nothing else to do at home. And it’s not like anyone’s going to call her up to get together. And it’s not like she’s missed them. It was a boring day. All days are boring in Bristol for christ’s sake.
She sees Emily first, jumping off the train with her usual flair and excitement, a large white sweater clearly not her size, or hers at all, flailing about in the wind. She’s looking around for familiar faces, then turning her head back to Naomi who walks off slowly with two huge bags, lending the smaller one to the redhead with a kiss on the forehead. Their hairstyles have shortened slightly, their attire more professional. And when they simultaneously turn on their heels to walk off the platform, their hands fall immediately against one another, interlinking like two objects locking in place.
Naomi sees her first. Nudges Emily casually and motions to her with an almost smile. Emily lights up immediately, almost taking off and flying into her arms with an unattractive ‘umnft’ sound, the bag thudding to the floor and even landing on Katie’s foot. She doesn’t feel it. “Katie.”
She’s flooded with giddiness. And relief. For some reason.
“Hey Katie,” Naomi tries a genuine smile.
Katie scrunches her mouth, and lets a half-hearted ‘Hey’ slip out.
They stay with her, of course, the place being Naomi’s old apartment anyway, and instead settle into the guest room. It’s still a bit drafty. When they open the window to air out the room, the squeaking and grinding of the wood seems to echo in the room, in her ears, and she exits quickly to catch her breath.
“You alright?” Emily asks offhandedly as Naomi hands her some toiletries.
“Yeah,” Katie replies, keeping a hand against her chest and unwilling to look into the room itself. She heads downstairs to fix up a snack.
Tony Stonem is so much better up close.
There’d been stories, fables if you will, of the legendary Tony Stonem, so fucking fit and mysteriously confident in his ways, that she’d built up stories of him in her mind: A gallant, young, devil-without-cause mischief maker out to spray paint his name on as many bedposts as possible. Well it’s true, she hadn’t heard the best stories about his non-existant monogamy, but it was a part of his charm and allure. Then he went mental. Probably shagged his mind out.
Nonetheless, Tony Stonem arrives home for a weekend or more around the time Effy changes her prescription to ACBT120. He enters the room the way she thinks all Stonems do: Quietly.
They’re playing chess for maybe the fourth time today, it being a game that apparently triggers the least amount of memories (Katie nearly had to burn her Eye Know, the game consisting of absolutely ridiculous visuals she’d foolishly thought would just seem amusing and childish. Fucking Canadians can’t do anything right, really.).
“What the fuck.”
“You can’t do that, Effy, your king can only move one square.”
“This is a new move.”
“Oh, right, you’re teaching me chess, yeah? What’s next, then?”
“He can move twice over when it’s this move.”
“Right, like the way your pawn could move backwards last game?”
Knock. Knock. “Actually, that move’s called castling.” They turn. He stands against the doorway. So tall. So tall, she’d never expected him to be so tall. In corduroy jeans and stripped polo shirt. He points to the chess board. “And s-sometimes the pawns can move backwards. It depends on which composition you’re playing.” He looks up at Effy, right in the eyes, for the first time. He tries a smile but it fails. “Hi Effy.”
Her eyes fall. “Tony.” It’s listless, and Katie, capable of taking a hint, cleans the board off the bed in silence as they stare at one another.
Tony leans against the doorway, seemingly trying to catch his breath and staring at his hands. “I’m sorry I’m so....I mean, I wo-would’ve-” he tries, but fails with a sigh. He stares out the window instead, focusing on the grass outside, the other residents doing their daily stretches.
Most days, Emily and Naomi stay in, doing god knows what in their room, sometimes fucking, sometimes just talking. Fucking lesbians just sit around and talk about their feelings all the fucking time. They seem to have the whole couple thing down, with completing sentences and casual glances with cutesy “What?” and equally adorable “Nothing” giggles.
Once at the lunch table they’re having salad and when they’re done, Emily’s saved all the cashews on her plate to the side that Naomi then eats one by one as they sit and chat about when Katie’s available to come visit. It’s horribly stripping of their individualities and dependant and predictable and yet stupidly comfortable. It looks comfortable.
They have a fight a bit after a week after they’ve arrived. Emily’s in tears and Naomi’s nearly done tearing her hair out.
“Maybe if you just fucking tell me what you mean, then!” she hears Naomi shouting from upstairs one night.
“You should know, you should know! By now, Naoms, of all times, you should just know!”
“How the fuck am I supposed to magically fucking know!?”
Emily’s storming down the stairs with a bag in hand and Naomi’s nearly crawling down after her. The twins connect eyes for a brief moment and Katie looks down at her studies.
“You’re being ridiculous, Em,” Naomi says angrily.
“You’re being insensitive.” Emily slams some cupboards around the kitchen for good measure. She’s packing provisions into her bag, ever so slowly. Probably going to disappear for a few days. “As fucking usual,” she mumbles under her breath.
“What’re you doing?” Naomi asks her softly.
“Like you care.”
“Where are you going.”
Emily zips her bag with so much anger, so much frustration, just settles it on the counter with a blank thud. “Nowhere,” she says with that familiar zeal.
“Oh,” Naomi lifts her head. “Oh, I see, we’re back there now, aren’t we. Still running.”
“No, fuck you, Ems, just fuck you.” Naomi’s out of the kitchen in a flash, storming up the stairs and Emily’s shifting the bag onto her back.
“Where are you going?” Katie asks, dog-tagging page 67 and flipping the page onto chapter three.
“I said nowhere,” Emily replies in a huff, brushing past her and going out the front door.
She wonders if Emily knows she leaves Katie every time she leaves Naomi, too. Maybe she just treats Bristol like London. Maybe ‘home’ just means ‘Naomi’.
‘Course Emily comes back the next morning, feeling a bit better, but there’s that wary look in Naomi’s eyes when the redhead kisses her cheek and whispers an apology.
And Katie wonders how many infidelities have happened between them.
She hates that she wonders that. But she does.
Things get a little easier with Naomi here, they split up days again to meet with meet Effy. She’s there the first day they run into Tony.
“Oh. Hi,” he says, extending his hand and shaking Naomi’s. “I’m Tony.”
“Naomi Campbell,” she replies.
“Hi,” he says again for good measure, standing awkwardly with his book in hand. They stand for a few moments in silence and he suddenly shakes his book in Effy’s direction. “Oh! Are you...are you here to see..?”
“Yes,” Naomi replies in the driest of forms, and for once Katie appreciates it like none other, stifling a laugh.
“He’s a bit odd, izzint he,” Naomi remarks when they’re sitting outside having lunch.
“What, you don’t think so?”
“It doesn’t fucking matter.”
Naomi shrugs. “Whatever.”
Katie munches on her carrots for a few moments before swallowing. “So you and my sister still working out, then?” she asks, trying to make conversation.
Naomi nods. “We’re great.”
“Always the convincing one.”
Naomi sighs. “We’ve got our ups and downs, but who doesn’t, really.”
She laughs and lights a smoke. They’re all such fucking clichés.
She doesn’t know if Emily knows Naomi cries herself to sleep when they fight.
It’s quite pathetic, really.
What she really doesn’t understand though, is where Tony’s been all this time. In school yeah, but what the fuck kind of schooling takes you away from your sister while she’s in the loony bin? He comes by every two days now, checking up on her. And it’s nice to see Effy’s smile, but it’s also worrying. She tries to get Eff to open up about it.
“Finals end in May, though, where’s he been? Where was he when you needed him?”
“He’s been busy,” Effy replies, slipping into her robes for the day.
It seems to be enough for her. ‘Busy.’
They’re doing yoga on the front lawn. Katie’s bought new athletic wear and waits around for Effy to comment on them. She never does.
They’re stretching on the grounds and keeping their eyes on the professor when Katie sees a figure in the background, hidden slightly by the tree branches but still visible: A young man, in a bright red shirt and dark grey pants, walking about almost aimlessly, with an unmistakable swagger. And she loses her stance, falls out of her trance and some of the other patients look at her warily.
“Everything alright back there?” the yoga teacher asks as Katie picks herself up.
“Fine,” Katie says distractedly, and stands above the patients to get a clearer look. She raises a hand to blot the sun out of her eyes.
He’s been in fucking Paris, working under the tables, memorizing key words and getting by on the kindness of strangers, and Katie can’t help but smack his head, for no reason, for all the reasons in the world.
“Awhhhh,” he groans in pain, and Naomi rushes to shut their front door.
“Cook? What the fuck,” Emily’s exclaiming as she rushes down the stairs.
“Good to see you lezzers still gettin’ it on,” he says, motioning a finger between Naomi and Emily who casually ignore it, “Was hopin true love could save the day somewheres.”
“Cook, you can’t be here,” Naomi says it first, and there’s a small silence as everyone shifts.
“I know that,” Cook says, holding his head up, high. Always the silent soldier isn’t it, Katie muses, and she has an unruly urge to reach forward and flake his hair, make certain he’s really here. He sniffs. “I was just-”
“Cook,” Emily says quietly, “They’re still looking for you.”
“Shut up,” Katie realizes she’s saying it before she does.
And Cook’s eyebrow raises a bit as he turns to her. “What’s this?” he asks with a hint of a smirk.
Katie licks her lips. “This is my flat now, and I can decide who stays.”
He’ll stay upstairs in their large supply closet. It’s large and empty and easily concealable. She asks him where his things are and he lifts up a black duffel bag, the same one he’d packed just months before, now stained and breaking at the sides. She caresses it slowly. “I’ll get you a new one.”
“Don’t need one.”
“I said I’ll get you a new one.”
He settles in for the night and thanks her for the spare blanket and pillow she gives him. Well really it’s her pillow, straight off her bed, but she’ll find a smaller one from the cupboard later tonight. What’s most important is he doesn’t hurt his head against the hard floor in the closet. “Bit like Harry Potter, aren’t I?” he asks with a smile, and Katie can’t help but smile in return.
“Always a fucking child, aren’t you.”
“You love it.” Cook winks.
She pats him down and leaves awkwardly, leaning against the doorframe. “Have you got everything?”
He pats his bag, his blanket and pillow, like a twelve year old in tight shoes and itchy sweater vest on his first day of school. He nods. “Thanks, Katie.”
She knocks his door. “Goodnight.”
“I mean really, thank you.” And there’s a delve in resonance in his voice that makes her wonder just how kind strangers have been to James Cook. Or life, for that matter.
“Sort yourself out, yeah?”
“It’s a mistake,” Naomi says in the morning during breakfast before he’s awake. “I love him, too, Katie, but this is a mistake.”
Katie chomps down harder, and lifts the newspaper up higher to ignore her.
“There must be somewhere else he can stay, maybe we could call up JJ,” Emily says.
And Katie blows. “For fuck’s sake,” she growls, getting up and washing her dish, “He’s not going anywhere, because I have space, and he’s my friend.”
Naomi sighs. “We’re not-”
“It doesn’t matter. You don’t have a say in this,” Katie yells now, shifting her head to both of them to see their faces. “Got it? You’re leaving in a few weeks or less, go fuck off to London, I don’t care.” And she’s out of the room in a flash.
“Katie-” Emily tries wearily, only to stop when Naomi puts her hand on hers and shakes her head ‘Don’t’.
She doesn’t know whether to tell Effy or not. She can’t imagine why she’s hesitating. He’s quite specific about it, though, almost two days after when he’s lounging on the hammock and she’s sitting on the swingset he’d built. He lounges out his legs and reaches out, extending his arm and caressing her arm.
She can feel his hand on every single inch of her skin, every slight movement of his fingers sending tingles down her body. “Not your babe.”
“I was wondering when we could-”
And there’s this plunge of something very hard and hollow in her stomach that she can’t quite ignore, so instead she shifts away from his arm, checking her nails for some reason. These nails, always so sore sometimes she needs to pinch the tips of her fingers to make them feel better, more attached
“What?” And it’s sharper than she’d intended it to be.
He shifts uncomfortably. “Nothing,” he says, bowing his head. They sit for another moment in silence and it’s striking to Katie how comfortable it is. But finally she sighs.
“I guess next week, I can sneak you in or something.”
He laughs very softly, so softly it’s almost tragic, a very small childlike smile playing at the corner of his lips. “Thanks,” he says.
She lights a spliff and hands it to him after a drag, blowing some white puffs to the sky.
“So what’s happening with you, babe, who’s the latest man in yo life?”
She shrugs. “Whatever,” she says.
He laughs, but it dies almost immediately. “There’s more to life than just fucking around, yknow.”
She nods. “I know.”
They smoke for a while longer, passing the spliff till it ends. When she gets up from the swing and heads in to sleep, she taps his hand instead of telling him.
“Gnight,” he says.
She plays chess with Tony one afternoon when Effy’s being taken to the washroom and having a bath. He’s really very good, and she can tell he’s allowing her to win, purposely losing his queen early on in the match.
“So where’ve you been?” she asks.
“Well at school, but just at the beginning of August there I-”
“I meant when Effy landed herself in the hospital, the first time around, where were you?”
He swallows slightly and stretches his neck. “I just needed to be away from family, for a minute, you know? Sometimes it’s just too much, the responsibility. I can’t be in so many places at once. You understand, don’t you?” he asks, a smirk on his lips. There is something grotesque about it, really.
“No,” she replies.
Family’s important. She doesn’t understand why no one gets that anymore.
The fucking lesbians are back on their fuck-a-thon in no time at all. One Saturday morning Katie comes into the kitchen to find four pieces of toast on plates. She touches them and they’re growing cold, one of them rock hard already. “For fuck’s sake,” she mumbles. What a waste of food. She sweeps upstairs and pounds on their door, and upon hearing noise from within bursts in without a moment’s hesitancy, only to stagger in pain at the sight of a naked Naomi grabbing helplessly at the bedposts as Emily’s hasty hands and head work mercilessly between her legs. And Katie’s out like a fucking light, yelling out the first few words that slip from her mouth, slamming the door shut and rushing back down the stairs in a fit of fury. Later Naomi comes down in a robe to take their toast and orange juice on a tray. She pauses at the bottom of the stairs and bites her lower lip. Katie closes her eyes and cringes already.
“I um. I sleep naked.”
It’s sort of agreed upon that Cook’ll leave probably around the time when Emily and Naomi leave for London. She doesn’t know when that was decided, or who did, or why she didn’t get a vote.
Or why she cares.
There’s a moment in that living room when they’re discussing it and Cook looks up at her, as though waiting for her to speak her mind, to fill in her two cents. And suddenly that pressure, that sudden spotlight from his eyes just silences her.
“Babe?” he asks her. Does that frown he does, and moves his hands around the room. “Got anything to say about this?”
She crosses her arms. “I guess it’s better you go,” she says with a shrug, and casually ignores that squeezing feeling in her lungs when he sadly accepts that answer with a nod.
One afternoon when Katie’s come home from the bookstore with textbooks for her class starting in September, Emily’s hanging out in the living room and breaks away from her book. She licks her lips. “Katie?”
“How’re mum and dad? And James?”
“Are..are they still mad?”
“Yeah. They are.”
“You should call them.”
“Yeah. Later.” Emily goes back to her books. Katie goes upstairs.
She takes Cook to see Effy, right around the time she said she would. She sneaks him in through the back and around Nancy doing her nightly rounds. It’s Thursday, so Tony’s gone home. Katie tiptoes into the room first, to make sure she’s decent. Sure enough she’s lying on her bed, fully awake, drowning out the sound of everything around her with a book in her hand. Heart of Darkness. Something Tony’s recommended no doubt.
She puts the book down on her lap and smiles a weary smile. “Katie.”
She’s about to say something, maybe “I’ve brought someone,” or “Someone’s here to see you,” but it all feels so cliché, so forced. Like a game of peek-a-boo. Well it isn’t. He left. And now he’s back.
She watches as Effy’s eyes go wide with shock and calm excitement, a real genuine smile playing across her lips, then suddenly a tremor and a tear sliding from her eye. And before she can move, Cook’s already softly brushing past her and kneeling by Effy’s bed, taking her hands in his and kissing them.
“Cook,” she says so softly, so broken.
He grins and readjusts himself to sit beside her. “Didn’t think you were rid of me so fast did you?”
Katie steps outside and closes the door halfway, now on guard. That is it, isn’t it. Her place.
It goes on like this for a few days. She’ll be up against this same wall, staring down an empty corridor, listening to Cook’s deep voice, Effy’s giggles.