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Allison has that groomed air of financial comfort that Blue could never have imagined she could grow accustomed to. Preened and arch and rude as hell, she is as if one of their collective bad dreams has conjured a hybrid of Ronan and Helen, sat in frosted pink and tormenting Blue's waking hours.

“Stop monologuing about me on your weird telepathic grapevine.” Allison snaps her gum and stretches out on the twin bed in the corner of the room.

Blue can feel those sharp eyes on her, even as she turns towards the window. “If that were my superpower why would I bother talking to you?”

As it is, she's texting Gansey, phone tucked into her sleeve. She thinks we r telepathic.

Ha, Gansey replies. If only she knew.

Thats the prblm, Blue fires back. I think she might

Henry thinks she likes you.

It's pathetic how charmed she is by his continual use of correct punctuation over whatsapp.

Henry thinks everybody likes me. & you. & Ronan, & Adam, & Orla...

“Didn't I ask you to stop talking about me?” Allison drums her feet on the bed, like she's restless. Like sitting still goes against her nature.

“I promise I'm not talking about you. I'm making fun of my -” kind of, sort of, second boyfriend? “ - friend. He thinks you're here to seduce me.”

Allison looks her up and down and snaps her gum again. “So when are we doing this reading? I trekked all the way from Palmetto to a motel in the ass-end of nowhere for this shit.”

I haven't found my space yet, Blue thinks, hunching her shoulder in silent defence. You're lucky I'm not cupping your palms in a dreamed up van going 80 on the freeway.

Her phone buzzes again. Henry, this time.

Do it Bluebell, every spring needs a fling :)

Blue schools her face. All of this is so deeply unprofessional.

“It's not a reading, exactly.” She turns back to Allison. “Or, it is, just not with cards. More like a soul thing? It's hard to explain.” Blue tucks her phone back into her sweater sleeve and moves towards the bed in a way she knows is unnerving. Gansey calls it tree walking, something distinctly other about the movement to set the tone of what she's here to do. (She's never had the heart to tell him that she learned the walk from Orla and Persephone long before she had anything to do with trees.)

“Look,” Allison says, looking up at Blue with artificial disinterest, “I know you're from Fox Way, my father used to get investment tips from Calla. I know there's something there. You know things. And I want what you got.” She smiles with one corner of her mouth. “And resonance is a hell of thing.”

Blue lays one arm on top of the other. Grow up in a house full of psychics and you end up watching more than your fair share of I Dream of Jeanie - with some very pointed commentary on feminine submission from Calla and Jimi.

Fittingly, Calla had arranged this whole… thing, whatever it was. Henry and Gansey had left their little road trip with bitten mouths and hunger for a new kind of stimulation (for Henry, academic, and for Gansey, something purposeful once again), and Blue had that too, if maybe in a different guise. So, Henrietta Community College, and all the space of her homely little wilderness to stretch her legs, stretch her roots and the time to follow Gansey on every other reconnaissance mission. Still, if she was going to keep living at Fox Way, she had to start pulling her weight and honing her skills for the family trade.

So Calla had answered the call with a vaguely irritated, “Who gave you this number?” in lieu of hello, then nodded a few times. Then, with aplomb, “I have just the girl for you. She'll help you work out your deepest desires and settle the nerves.” She handed the phone over and tugged the bowl of yogurt across the other side of the table out of Blue's reach

“So what,” Allison said through the phone, “You're like a one woman nature retreat?”

And Blue replied, “Yes, basically,” because it made a better first impression than, actually, I'm part tree.

“Well, I need some advice.”

And so here she is, session one of a five day agreement, still getting a feel for the girl opposite her, digging deeply into everything Gwenllian taught her about mirrors to reflect back to Allison all the parts she’s hidden.

It's mostly been anger, and it's not very hidden at all.

“Well,” Blue says, standing over where Allison has stretched herself out like a well groomed cat, “What do you want to know today?”

Allison points her toes and bends from the hips over into a hamstring stretch, then looks up at Blue through her dramatically long lashes. “There is a bet going around saying our newest recruit has the darkest dark and troubled past of any of us. Any insider info for me?”

Blue rolls her eyes, twitches an eyebrow and stands firm with her Jeanie arms.

Allison purses her lips. “Yeah, didn't think so. Listen. I'm at a crossroads here. I feel…”

Unstuck, says the reflection beneath the surface of Blue's skin.

“Yes. Exactly. Unstuck. I don't know where I belong anymore.”

“Anymore?”

Allison straightens up and draws inward in a way Blue doesn't think anyone would notice unless they were already expecting it. She softens her own expression, but all it does is draw a scowl.

“You know the foxes, right? Our fucking byline might was well be the island of misfit toys. I'm not like them.”

Blue sincerely has no idea what the any of that is supposed to mean, but her whole presence breeds an openness. “You're not broken?”

Something in the air between them frays.

“If I wanted to see a therapist I would. I wanted magic, not psychoanalysis.” Allison pulls back again.

Blue can taste the tension rolling off of her like blood in the air. “What do you want me to say to you, then?”

“I want help!” Allison crosses her arms. “I want it to hurt less.”

“What hurts?” Blue leans forward, and Allison meets her eyes for a second, there and yet far away. Her lower lip trembles, like she might speak or might burst into tears.

Blue reaches out, lets her hand brush lightly against Allison's golden forearm. The girl reels back like she's been burned.

With a brief angry bite of tears and the shadow of a name on her lips, Allison storms out of the motel room and doesn't return for two hours.

Blue's phone is hot against her palm. Can't like me that much she types into the group chat and watches Henry and Gansey's unnecessarily convoluted explanations to Adam and Ronan roll in with amusement colouring her insides a calm, sunshine yellow. She smiles to herself as she types out her own cryptic message;

Ronan, are you 100% sure Helen's not your type of girl?

Allison comes back with a light sheen of sweat, her breathe uneven from the run like she'd had to do something, anything to burn off the pain.

Blue holds out one hand, and then says with a practised mystery, “Breathe in deep, and look into my eyes.”

Allison scowls at her.

“Just do it.”

Blue can feel herself turn fluid, like climbing into her own reflection in a river, she is distant and yet interminably present. She is and isn't.

Allison says, “This isn't doing anything.”

Blue mirrors the girl's own slow smile. “Ever heard of patience? It's a virtue, y’know.”

“Renee says that to me.” Allison's expression falls into something more quiet and settled than Blue has seen yet.

“I know,” Blue says, or doesn't. “Anything you're feeling now, I'll reflect back. So ask yourself what you want to hear.”

She goes quiet for a second, studies the state of her french manicured fingernails, trimmed enough so they're not a exy liability and impeccably buffed, except the slight scratches and scuffs along a few edges, almost imperceptible.

“Am I where I'm supposed to be?” She whispers, not quite looking up.

Blue finds herself laughing, almost. “If you knew that would you be here right now?”

“Don't be such a fucking smart ass.”

Blue smiles.

“Fine.” Allison shuts her eyes and bites her lip. “I feel scared. I'm not sure how much of it is anger and how much is helplessness.”

“You miss him,” Blue says. “And you're scared that without him you've got nothing wounding you enough to belong.”

“I -”

“But you're more scared that it is your wound. That you'll have that all over your soul like the bruises all over the rest of them.”

“Blue.”

“Obviously you know it, though. You know that's the only place you've ever belonged. Because you've always been an angry girl, you've just finally found an excuse for it. Like the little marks sitting the inside of your wrist were just a symptom.”

“Stop,” Allison grabs Blue by the wrists. “Shut up now, I want to fucking stop.”

And Blue has never had the space in her home or her head to be much of a brat but the girl's presence so intense in the room that all Blue can do is reflect and magnify, just like with every other kind of magic. “You're so narcissistic that you only like me when I'm reflecting yourself back. But that also makes you hate me a little bit, doesn't it?”

“Don't you fucking dare.” Allison spits out, her face so close to Blue's that Blue can feel the intense warmth of her breath on her cheek.

All the world drops away from beneath Blue's feet and then she's there, in the room, across from Allison and yet dispossessed. “Fuck,” she says, “I'm sorry I didn't mean that.”

“Yes you did,” Allison says, eyes hard, still holding Blue, both wrists in one hand and for the first time she really notices the strength of her. Blue's a robust girl and she can barely push back.

Allison blinks. “I meant it, so you must have, too.”

Blue twists one hand enough to touch the top of Allison's and all that once she wants to laugh at how misplaced they both are, here in a shabby motel room on the edge of Henrietta. Displaced and small and yet part of worlds crushingly larger than life. She breathes in deeply once, and thinks about the woods, the settled comfort of the wilderness she built up last year and imagines it covering them both, here, now.

Allison starts to match her breath.

“Blue,” Allison looks searchingly at her, too afraid to look down at where a seeding dandelion has sprouted between their clasped hands, and Blue smiles, since she has enough bravado for the both of them. She plucks the flower and holds it up to Allison's glossed mouth.

“You asked for magic. Make a wish.”

Allison mutters something softly beneath her breath and then blows, watching the seeds disperse around the room, filling it with their feather-softness, all just looking for somewhere to root.

She leans forward again, invading the last of Blue's space and pushing down on her shoulders, back into the bedsheets.

“Fuck it,” Allison says. “I was never good at waiting for wishes to come true.”

Blue nods, smiling. “You seem a bit impulsive.”

“Shut it, you,” Allison laughs, then does it for her, kissing Blue deeply. She spreads herself across Blue, sinking them both into the mattress as she bites gently on Blue's lower lip. Blue gasps and sinks into her, digging her fingernails into the meat of Allison's shoulder and dragging it down the line of her spine.

Allison's legs slip and slide against Blue's. “Mm,” she threads her fingers into Blue's short, chaotic tangle of hair, “I knew there was a reason I let you take me to a motel.”

Blue laughs, breathlessly. “Well. You can't accuse me of acting professional.”

Allison slips her thigh between Blue's legs then soars up to find her mouth again, bodies pressing together all the way down. “You're right,” she says between kisses, rolling her hips beneath her scandalously short skirt. “I am a narcissist.”

“Shut it, you,” Blue pants, rolling her hips up to meet Allison's and arching her spine. She kisses back, just as hungry.

God, she thinks, running her teeth along Allison's tongue, one hand on the small of Allison's back to hold them closer together. Henry will never let me live this down.