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Beck was worried.

That seemed to be the summary of her entire life: give it all to someone, expect them to do the same and then pretend to be surprised, when they didn't. It had all been the same - ever since cold days in Nantucket, where she waited for her current boyfriend to show up to the date and pretend to be surprised when they didn't, to right now, going back to New York on a taxi, even if her mind was a thousand miles away. The way life worked.. it was funny, it truly was. One minute, you believe you know someone and then, something happens and changes everything, like taking the train one day and believe you're going to go somewhere beautiful, when in the truth, the place is nothing but disappointing.

Unpredictable. Ugly. Wild. Peach.. No, she couldn't go back.

That much was clear - if she were to go back, she might be giving Peach the wrong idea but if went back to New York, their entire friendship (?) would be completely ruined. Beck knew Peach Salinger well enough to know that when she was done with something, she was done. There was no coming back from that, not even for Guinevere Beck, who seemed to be the only person she'd ever make an exception for.

Oh, God, what had she done?

Tapping her fingers on her knee, Beck sighed, green hues landing on the driver. "How much longer?" She knew she was being impatient, the ride from Greenwich to New York would be at least an hour, but she couldn't wait to get home and get all of this over it, whatever that meant. Home also meant Lynn and Annika, who would never blame her for anything that had happened but home also meant Joe and frankly, Beck wasn't sure how to feel about that.

She was a mess.. Peach was right about that much.

"About half an hour, miss. Would you like me to stop somewhere in the meantime? There's a cozy gas station nearby." The driver was a middle aged woman - with the complete pack of short hair that could only be described as mom hair, sneakers and a wedding ring - the gold, old traditional version, of course. "No, thank you. Just want to get home as soon as possible. There's a storm coming, apparently." Sending an half-polite smile the woman's way, Beck looked away, leaning her head against the window, allowing herself to rest and just.. breath, for a moment.

Making small talk was completely not her style but considering the circumstances, she needed to focus her mind on something else - someone else or.. she'd go mad, soon enough. She could almost hear Peach's voice coming from the seat next to her - seriously, it's like she's never been to a good store in her life - and it hurt.

What had she done?

She's in love with you, you know that, right? Joe's words had been going through her head like a song - over and over again, a particularly annoying song, that Beck was not growing very fond of. Joe had always been able to see things more clearly - it was as if there was nothing blocking his world view, like he could see people for what they truly were. She hated him for that. Hated him for being right, hated him for always being able to see things so clearly, when it took her almost ten fucking years to realize her own best friend was in love with her.

Way to go, Beck. So, what if she was? She knew Peach's family well enough to know that they'd never be alright with that - screw them, they have never been there for her anyway, but.. where did that leave her? Beck.. the writer, the best friend.. the lover? It was stupid, it was.

She had probably destroyed their entire relationship when she had left the Salinger cottage behind and from now on, she'd have to live with that choice. She could do it, Beck was sure of it. She had handled so many things in her life.. losing a friend should not be a difficult one. Still, this wasn't just a friend. If this was just a friend, everything would be much, much easier and she would be on the way home right now, counting the seconds until she saw her boyfriend again, like any normal girl would. She wasn't normal, though. If she were normal, she wouldn't have to tell people her father was dead when in reality, he was very much alive, starting a family of his own.

A part of her wondered what Peach would say.. If she would judge. Of course not.

Don't worry, Becklacious. Families are just that - fucked up.

She should be thinking about Joe - about safe, comfortable and predictable Joe, who would be waiting for her to come back, who would never say no to her.. who was everything that Peach Salinger was not and yet, it was as if her head and heart had been left back at the Salinger cottage and as of now, Beck was starting to think that boarding that taxi had been a mistake.

What kind of friend was she - abandoning her best friend when she needed her the most?

You don't want him. Not anymore.

Shaking her head, as if to shake the thoughts away, she sighed, grabbing her phone from her purse, regretting it immediately.

There were a few texts from both Lynn and Annika, a message from Joe, asking when she'd arrive and.. three missed calls from Peach, two texts and a voicemail. She didn't dare to listen to the voicemail - the friend in her would tell the driver to turn right back around, just like she had forgiven Peach anything the day she almost taken her own life but.. the texts were right there, waiting to be seen.

Beck, I'm sorry.

Beck, please come back.

Can we talk? I can't lose you. Please forgive me.

Most of them had been sent half an hour ago, just a few minutes after she had left, but.. it wasn't like Peach to be so quiet, especially they had fought. No, that wasn't right. She would be calling nonstop, over and over again, right until she got tired of it and picked up, which would lead to Beck eventually forgiving her - all because she needed to and that was Peach and.. she didn't know what life without her best friend would be like.

Empty? Sad? Confusing? Good?

Beck wasn't sure if she'd dare to find out. In an impulse, she grabbed the phone, finger tapping on Peach's name for a moment, before she ended the call. No, she couldn't. Not now, not anytime soon. Sometimes, distance was good and perhaps Peach had realized that, considering she had stopped calling. Laying against the window again, Beck closed her eyes, allowing herself to drift off again. Soon enough, she'd be home, she'd be with Joe and.. everything would be fine.

"Miss?" Uh.. what was happening? The woman was shaking her leg, her hand gripping Beck's knee probably a little bit too tighter. Beck didn't know how she had fallen asleep but she had and she had been so sound asleep, dreaming about empty houses and raven hair and soft lips that she hadn't heard her own phone ringing, right until the woman woke her up. Shit, shit, shit. "Miss, your phone has been ringing for the past two minutes. Someone's anxious to talk to you." Peach. Rubbing her eyes, Beck stood up immediately and grabbed her phone, finally taking the call.

"Hello?"

The voice on the other side was unfamiliar, which made a familiar sense of cold spread through her body, hand curling into a fist by her side. "Is this Guinevere Beck? I'm calling from the Greenwich Hospital. You're listened as one Peach Salinger's emergency contact and she has been just brought in."

Peach.

Peach, who had almost taken her own life, just because they had a fight.

Peach, who had been talked off a ledge more a thousand times by the one person she trusted - her best friend, her Beck.

What happened once the safety net was no longer there? What happened when she was finally, truly and completely alone? If she was dead, it was her fault. Her fault and her fault alone, because she had walked out on her, after everything they had been through. Beck didn't know how she had found the strength to speak and yet, she did, nails sinking into the palm of her hand.

"That's me, is.. is she okay? What happened?" The nurse's reply was short and sweet, but.. long enough to know that something was very, very very wrong.

"You'll know of Miss Salinger's condition on your arrival, Miss Beck. I'm afraid there's not much else we can tell you. There was.. however, a suicide note found on Miss Salinger's home."

A suicide note. She had never gotten that far - because all along, Beck had been there to stop her. To tell her that everything would be alright.. to tell her that she wasn't going anywhere, no matter what that meant for her. The last time she had tried this - after she had sent Joe away, Beck had considered leaving right after Peach fell asleep, after all, it wasn't like she would notice she was missing. But as she had slowly gotten up, Peach had said something.. something that had stayed with her, ever since.

What would I do without you?

She should have.. she should have known - she should have, she should have.. DAMN IT! Beck felt like crying, she felt like breaking down and wanting to disappear because if her best friend was dead, it was all her fault, but.. she didn't. She forced herself to remain calm, even if all she wanted to do was cry.

"I'm on my way."

And she was. She would be there - she would get over her fucking feelings and be there for Peach, just like she had always been there for her. She could imagine what the Salinger family would say, after all. Their daughter - their precious daughter, who had always been taught to never have a hair out of place, who was punished for being even slightly different.. tried to kill herself.

All because of a broke, college student, who had turned her back on her. On the one person who had always been there for her. Ending the call, Beck let her phone fall to the her feet, hitting the ground with a bang - she wouldn't have to look to know that the screen was cracked, but.. that didn't matter. That didn't matter at all, considering everything else that was happening.

"We need to turn around. Now. Greenwich Hospital, please."

Chapter Text

How could she have not known?


When Peach had first woken up, there was a gap where the memories of the past few hours should have been (was it days already?) and she felt.. confused.


What on Earth was going on? What was she doing on an hospital bed and why was her mother - Sylvia fucking Salinger, who never showed up, not even for her birthdays (she had established the fact that both her mother and father were lost causes, not that she gave a damn about either of them - only when it came to monthly deposits they did on her trust fund, of course), talking in a hushed tone with the nurse?

She shouldn't be here, not by a long shot. The fact that she was, well, that was enough to tell her everything she needed to know.


Something was wrong.   Something was very, very wrong and perhaps, if her head could stop pounding for a second, she could actually remember what had happened.
It was annoying and Peach was about reveal that she wasn't asleep anymore - no point hiding it now, they'd figure out soon enough and yell at the nurse to give her something - anything to stop the pain, when a thought came to her. Oh.


Her mother never came, not unless... not unless something very bad had happened. "Look who's awake. How are you feeling, Peach?" Anyone else might have been saddened by the fact that the look on the nurse's face - a complete stranger - was more sympathetic than the look on her own mother's face, but.. Peach was used to it. Nothing new in that, at least.  Ignoring her mother for a second, Peach sat up slowly, hands twitching at the sight of so many needles - good god, she despised them, before she sighed.


She wanted nothing more than to rip them all off and be on her merry way - after all, she had much better things to do than be stuck in a hospital room day, in the company of Melania Trump, the second, but.. her mother had always been looking for an excuse to lock her up in a mad house and well, Peach would rather take a knife and slit her own wrists than give it to her.


"I'm fantastic, thank you." She felt slightly confused and the pounding in her head didn't look like it was about to stop anytime soon, not to mention the fact that it would take weeks for the needle marks to disappear but she'd rather die than admit it in front of her mother. "Slightly confused, though. What on Earth am I doing on a second-rated hospital, especially on a weekend? What is she doing here?" She pointed to her mother, ignoring the look she got in return. Suck on that, bitch.


If there was anything that Sylvia Salinger despised, besides herself and the man she had married, it was weakness. Peach had learned that very early, many times at her own cost.


The nurse seemed to be taken by surprise - her lips opening to form a perfect o, before turning to her mother for support. Of course the old wench had already payed the doctors for their silence - that.. that was exactly what Peach would do.


It seemed that, no matter how much she tried to escape it, she would always end up being like the two people she despised the most. Her mother's reaction, however, should have told her everything she needed to know. The old wench barely gave a reaction to anything - her extreme fortune made up for her lack of heart, so when her features twitched in anger for a moment, Peach realized that something was very, very wrong.


"Can I please have a moment alone with my daughter? We have much catching up to do." She dismissed the nurse with a wave of her hand, not even sparing the poor woman another glance. Other people could have hesitated and kindly explained that they needed to remain in the room, should the patient need something, but.. this was Sylvia Salinger.


The people in Greenwich knew very, very well that whoever got in her way wouldn't have a very happy ending. Or an ending at all, really.


"Oh and please, send the girl away. Be sure to tell her she's not getting in this room or anywhere near my daughter ever again, not over my dead body."

Girl? What girl?  "Mother, what are you-" Peach opened her mouth to protest, as soon as the nurse closed the door, but before she could continue, her mother's hand flew against her face, the echo of the slap being heard across the room.


Was she used to it? Yes, by now, she was. There was a reason why she put a distance between herself and anyone who shared her last name, a reason why she surrounded herself with her friends and work and parties and the reason was standing right in front of her. Sylvia fucking Salinger. Peach wanted to laugh anytime she thought about the fact that there had once been a little girl, who did everything she possibly could in order to earn her mother's approval. That little girl had been wrong, though.


There was no way of winning the approval of someone who didn't have a heart. "What was that for?" She hated how weak her voice sounded, hated her mother, hated the fact that she was stuck here, unable to do anything but wait for the next punishment that her mother decided she deserved. Scoffing, her mother moved across the room - over and over again, as she often did, when she was about to explode.


" How dare you act confused after everything you did? Do you know how many calls I've had to make, how many people had received an early Christmas gift, just so they'd keep quiet about what you did? Still, you made the news. Congratulations, dear. If it was attention you were looking for, you got it. " She stopped right in front of the bed, anger twisting her features into something much, much uglier than usual.


Peach could tell her mother was about to explode - she always could and.. much like when approaching a wild animal, it was best to be cautious and pretend like she didn't know what on Earth her mother was talking about, which happened to be the case. "Made the news? Mother, what on Earth are you talking about? Did you have too much to drink?" A quick glance at the wall told her what she needed to know - that had to be it. Her mother was drunk, as always - booze was Sylvia's best friend. Not her daughter, not her family.. alcohol.


Peach supposed that if she was miserable as her mother, that if she didn't have something to hold on to.. wait.. something to hold on to..


She was snatched from her thoughts by her mother gripping her wrist far too tightly, being too close for Peach's taste and she decided that trying to snatch her wrist her way would only make her mother more angry and so, she remained where she was, looking away. She could never bear to look at her mother when she was.. like this. Like a wild animal, waiting for the right opportunity to destroy her.


"My daughter, trying to take her own life. What has gotten into your head, Peach? This is not what we taught you, this is not.. this is about that girl. About those girls you call friends. Rest assured, you'll never see them again. To ensure you don't become more of disgrace to this family than what you already are, from now on, your father and I will make the rules."


As her mother spoke, four things came back to her.


One, Beck.


Two, Beck would probably never forgive her for everything she had said - life without Beck.. life without Beck by her side wasn't a life worth living. Without Beck, she was reduced to this.


Three, Joe fucking Goldberg crawling on top of her as he tried to get to the gun first - which he did, fuck him for that and everything else - and.. Joe Goldberg was a fucking psychopath - who happened to know her biggest secret - the pictures.. God, Beck would never forgive her - who needed to be stopped immediately.


And finally.. Joe fucking Goldberg had tried to murder her twice by now - hey, who knows, maybe third time really is the lucky charm - and this time, he had tried to make it look like she had taken her own life.


Of course, that had happened before - in several moments of weakness that Peach would never admit out loud, but.. her mother didn't know that. If she had known that, she wouldn't be in a hospital, she would be trapped in a loony bin by now. Much to her surprise - the words that first came out weren't to fight what her mother had claimed she had done (no, Peach knew psychopaths like Joseph "I'm an innocent librarian who would never hurt anyone" Goldberg were far too smart to leave any evidence behind) but to try and do something else.


Send the girl away. This is about that girl.


She'd killed her mother and the entire Salinger family first, for all they were worth, before she let them take away the only good thing in her life. No, Beck.. Beck belonged by her side - as she had so desperately tried to get her to see.


It was supposed to be perfect - it would have been perfect, the little weekend getaway that she had planned for them.. if only Joe fucking Goldberg hadn't gotten in the way. Oh hell, he would pay. No one messed with Peach Salinger and lived to tell the tale. Dead men tell no tales, after all. There was no way Beck would ever know about the pictures, if.. if Joe wasn't there to tell the tale. But first, she'd need to deal with her mother.


"Beck - you can't send Beck away. She's my best friend. She's the only one who was ever there for me, when you were too busy drowning yourself in alcohol and dad was busy with his new mistress. I'm an adult, mother. You don't get to make my decisions for me."


She threw her legs across the bed, trying to get out of the damned room because Beck was out there, somewhere.. worried about her, here for her - even if they had fought and.. that was all that mattered. Her mother didn't get to take this away from her, as well. Still, Sylvia was much, much stronger and quicker, considering Peach had survived a gun shot to the head - a gun shot that had been meant to kill her and grabbed her wrist, keeping her where she was.


"You listen to me, young lady and you listen well or I'm going to make you wish you had known how to shoot that gun properly." She protested, trying to break out of her mother's grip, before realizing it was useless. "I didn't - I didn't shot myself, I-" Placing a finger against her lips, Sylvia shook her head. "I don't want to hear your excuses, Peach. I want you to tell me you understand. From now on, your father and I will make the rules. You'll stop seeing those girls - Guinevere, especially - you'll remove yourself out of the public eye for a little while and you'll see a therapist, of our own choosing. When you're finally yourself again, you'll be free to do whatever you wish, as long as you don't bring any more scandals to this family."


Stop seeing her friends.
Lock herself in her apartment, to never be seen again.
See some idiot payed by her mother, which was clearly a scheme to get to know more of her secrets.
Stop seeing Beck and leave her at the hands of a psychopath.


Never, she wanted to scream. Go to hell, she wanted to slap her mother as she had slapped her and yet.. Peach was nothing if not a rational person. She was a Salinger, after all and maybe there was no way out of this but to agree with her.. for now.

"What if I don't agree?" She asked, just to confirm what she already knew. For the first time that day, her mother actually smiled.


"If you don't agree, my dear.. you'll wish that bullet had killed you." Finally releasing her wrist, Sylvia moved away from her and towards the door, throwing her hair over her shoulder, not even sparing her another glance.


"I'll leave you to think about it. Get some rest. We shall see each other again very soon." With that, she closed the door behind her, disappearing into the hallway.

That.  fucking. bitch.


Releasing the scream that she had been holding back ever since her mother had shown her face here, Peach threw a tray of medicine across the room - spreading it all over the floor but not even that was enough to satisfy her. No.. what would be enough to satisfy her, though?


Joe Goldberg's dead body. Beck.  Beck.. she needed to find a way to see her. Her phone wasn't around - that had probably been taken into custody by her mother and she'd need to get a new one soon enough, if she ever wanted to see Beck again.


"You know, if you make anymore of a mess, they'll probably think you belong in an asylum, not in a hospital. It's meant for regular people who were injured, Peaches, not for lunatics who tried to off themselves."

No fucking way.


All it took was one look towards to door to confirm her fears and a few seconds later, Peach was reaching for something, anything that she could use against him. Of course.
There were two possibilities: he was either here to finish the job - which, quite frankly, he could have done by showing up here before her mother - or he was here.. he was here because there was no way a guilty man would try to visit the person he had tried to murder, just a few hours ago. Joe Goldberg was a smart psychopath.


"You.. what are you doing here? Where's Beck? What have you done with her?" Joe fucking Goldberg had the audacity to laugh at that and then, Peach watched as strange emotions passed through his face - anger, possessiveness and back to anger, before he managed to put up a neutral expression.


That fucking bastard.

"Beck.. well, I suppose I should thank your mother for that. She's not very kind, is she? No wonder you turned out to be like that." He gestured to the door for a moment, before continuing. The door wasn't locked and perhaps.. perhaps Peach had been wrong. Maybe he wasn't here to kill her, but.. what else could he want?


"Well, Beck was here, just a few moments ago - they called her first, because of fucking course she was your emergency contact. However, your mother seems to agree with me and she sent her away. You know Beck, though. No matter how badly you treat her.. she always comes running back."


That was the only light Peach could find in all of this. One, her mother had just threatened to disown her, should she not do everything she had told her to. Two.. the man who had tried to murder her twice was here, but.. Beck had come, Beck was worried about her and.. that was all that mattered.

No matter what Joe fucking Goldberg tried to do to her, she knew Beck cared. That was enough.

"She'll come back. That's exactly why I'm here." That was enough. Shaking her head, Peach scoffed, nails digging into the flash of her palms with so much strength that she was sure she'd have a mark later.


"And what do you think, Joseph? That you can tell Beck want to do? Well, news flash, you're wrong. She never listened to any guy and you won't be the first one. Especially once she knows you tried to kill her best friend. Especially once she knows you're a psychopath, a creeper and a stalker. You're going down for what you did, you son of a bitch."


The look on his face was enough satisfaction for a little bit but still, there was something that Peach didn't understand. He was too calm. Too calm, as if a good investigation and a good look around the house and the gun - that had both her fingertips and his, wouldn't send his ass to jail, for a very long time.

Shrugging, Goldberg turned around for a moment, walking towards the door. "Maybe I will. But.. I wonder what Beck will say, once she hears of the photographs you keep of her. A psychopath, a creeper and a stalker.. that's what you called me, right? Well, that's what she'll be calling you, if you don't do exactly what I say."

She scoffed. "Are you trying to blackmail me? Good God, Joseph.. you really a good actor. I'll totally be on my rights if I murdered you right now. Beck would thank me, eventually. Once she knew who you were." She didn't dare to show how scared she was - not for herself, but.. Beck. 

You're my family. I'd die for you, if need be. Would he?

Peach had meant every word but.. if Beck knew, if Beck knew who she really was, she'd turn around and run, right into the arms of her psychopathic boyfriend. That was exactly what he wanted, she was sure of it. Without her in the way, there would be no one standing between him and his fairy tale ending.  Again, he shrugged, taking a seat by the end of her bed. Peach moved away instantly, shivers running down her spine. "Maybe, but.. who do you think she'd believe? Her boyfriend, who has been nothing but supportive or.. you? That doesn't matter, though. I have proof." And with that, he brought out his phone, slowly passing through all of the pictures she had collected over the years. Beck, on their graduation day. Beck, sleeping over at her house. Beck, saying You know I'll love you forever, right?

He had no right.

Those were hers - they belonged to her, just like Beck did and.. he had no right laying his bookstore owner dirty hands on any of it. "You have no right, those.. those.." She didn't know what to say and for a moment, Peach was quiet. As any good psychopath would, Joe took the opportunity to speak up again. "Belong to you?" He finished, throwing his head back and laughing.

"Beck would disagree,  I'm sure. So would your mother, if she knew what her daughter has been doing on her free time. A disgrace, that's what she called you, right? Well, Peaches.. I'm sorry to say but from what I've heard of her, she'd probably lock you in an asylum and throw away the key, if she knew about these. Taking pictures of her own best friend, without her consent? What a disgrace you are." Waving the phone in her face again - the proof of her shame, the proof of who she really was, Joe smiled. He was winning and he knew it. 

What could she say? What could she do?  Nothing, because.. he was winning and there was no escaping from this and.. Beck. Beck would never look in her face again, if she knew about all of this.  The creeper was right. Beck would believe him, especially after everything that had happened between the two of them.

Taking her silence as an opportunity, Joe nodded. "Very well. Here's what we're going to do.  You're smart, Peach. I think you've realized by now that if I go down, you go down with me. These photos will be sent to your family, to Beck, to Annika and Lynn... to anyone you've ever met. You won't be able to walk on the streets without being called a stalker, a creeper, the Salinger disgrace." He paused, clearing his throat.

"I'll give you a chance, though. You know as well as I do that Beck.. well, Beck won't give up. She'll find a way to come here - to see you and when she does, I want you to break her heart. I want you to do what you do best and push her away, forever. This thing that the two of you have going on.. it's not healthy. Beck doesn't write, Beck is not happy when she is with you." Closing her eyes, she saw it all. Beck, laughing about some idiot she had picked up on Tinder. Beck, giving her some cheap gift for her birthday, apologizing about it, not even knowing how much Peach would cherish it forever. Beck, Beck, Beck.. always there, but.. never hers.  Not the way she wanted her to be.

"Her heart will be broken but.. I'll be there to pick up the pieces. She doesn't need you, Peaches. Out of the two of us, who can take better care of her? Who isn't an complete creeper, a complete stalker? That's right, me." 

 Peach was trembling - from head to toe and she hated it, she despised him, because she couldn't stop the tears from falling. He knew her, she realized. They were the same - two terrible people, who happened to be in love with someone who deserved so much better than either of them. There was a difference, though. Peach would rather die than ever hurt Beck.   Taking in her reaction, Joe nodded, pretending to be sympathetic.

"Come on, Peach. You know it's for the best. What would your mother have done to Beck, if you two were ever in a relationship? Not that she'd ever love you, of course, but.. think about it." 

She'd never admit it out loud but.. he was right. Her mother would have never stood for that. She would have found a way to hurt Beck.. and Peach couldn't let that happen. 

Whipping the tears away furiously, Peach nodded at him. "If I do this, I want you to delete these. Immediately. They don't belong to you." If she had to guess, he had deleted them off her computer already but she had copies. Several copies, that no one would ever find. If she was going to lose Beck, she needed to- no. She couldn't give up, not yet.

Joe frowned. "Why would I do that? You've spared me years of acting as photographer. You're lucky I'm not here to finish the job. For Beck.. there's nothing I wouldn't do. I'll keep the pictures, you'll walk away from us and you'll leave us be. Forever. No more contact with Beck. Do we have a deal?" Standing up, he finally walked to the door, the damned smile never leaving his lips, taking in her silence as a yes. "I'll assume that's a yes. We'll see each other very soon, I'm sure of it."

She wanted to scream. Wanted to hurt him, wanted to.. 

"You'll regret this, Joseph. All of it." At that, he gave a shrug, the wink that he sent her way making her want to vomit.

"I doubt it, Peaches. It's a beautiful day and.. if you'll excuse me, my girlfriend is waiting for me to come me. Have a nice day." Only when he walked away did Peach allow herself to sob into her pillow.

What was she going to do?

Chapter Text

"I just don't get it why it has to be.. now, you know? After all, it's been two weeks."


Beck loved Joe, she did - at least, she believed she did, but if she had to be honest, she was getting tired of all of this. He tried to be sweet, she saw that, but.. sometimes, she regret even pursuing him in the first place. She had been lonely, yes, but.. this was far too much.


Far too much suffocation, when all she wanted to do was breath.


She wanted to write in an old cafe before the sun had risen, she wanted to feel the wind on her face, she wanted to drink with Annika and Lynn and Peach, right until 3 in the morning, like they used to do back in Brown.


She wanted to be free, she had always wanted to be free - not to be cuddled, protected, as if she was some precious doll that would break at the first touch.


She wasn't.


She endured more than most people would in their entire lifetime and if they knew.. if they only knew: Joe, Annika, Lynn, Peach, Benji.. they'd probably never look in her face again. Joe knew, though. He had been the first person that she had let in to her little secret and whenever she thought that maybe this had all been for nothing, she reminded herself of that. She had never told anyone about her dad.


Not Annika or Lynn, who would probably run away as soon as they learned she had lied about her dad. Not Peach, who had once been the person she trusted the most in the world and who would probably understand but.. for some reason, Beck had never found the courage to tell her.


The thing was.. in Peach's eyes, she had always been perfect. Beckalious this, Becklacious that.. she had always been perfect to Peach, who had seen someone who didn't exist.

This perfect writer, the perfect friend, who used the tragedy of her past to give her inspiration for her.. self-absorbed poetry. She might have apologized but.. that still stung like a bitch.


Joe, however.. Joe was different. She had known that right from the beginning - Joe might have been boring, Joe might have predictable, but.. he was safe.
That was what she needed in her life at the moment: not wild, unpredictable or rash. Safe, loving, caring.. not like every other guy she had ever had.


Benji had never gave a damn about her and Joe.. Joe saw her, for who she really and still cared, no matter how many faults she had. Still.. that didn't help.


Beck didn't want to be scolded - that remind her too much of a past she would rather forget, she wanted.. she needed to be praised. No matter how much she hated to admit it, praise helped her write, praise got her back on her feet when she hit rock bottom.. praise made her think that perhaps it had all been worth it.


She was... tired of him. His jealousy, especially when it came to Peach, was extremely uncalled for and at this point, extremely annoying.


He had nothing to be jealous about, after all ... did he? No, of course he didn't. Stop it, Beck.

By now, she was just making herself more nervous than she already was.  Combined with Joe's constant complains, the road trip that seemed to never end, Beck was about to throw up.  This was stupid, it was.


She shouldn't be this nervous about seeing her best friend - Peach was odd and difficult and for all she knew, she probably never wanted to see her face again, but.. Beck took care of her. Beck loved her, Beck adored her, no matter how difficult and strange their relationship would seem to someone else.


Now, however.. things were different. And if only Joe was actually able to remain quiet for a few seconds, she would be able to think about it. But of course he wasn't. Telling him about what had happened between her and Peach at the Salinger cottage had been a mistake, but.. she needed to talk to someone about it or she'd go mad.


She couldn't tell Annika or Lynn - they'd probably think she had finally gone mad, because Peach would never admit it. She would deny it to the grave - Beck was sure of it, especially if the Ice Queen had suddenly made an appearance. God, she hated the woman. Beck had never thought it to be possible to hate someone more than she hated her step-mother and then.. then, she had met Peach's mother. A truly terrible woman, who had ruined her daughter's life.


Peach, according to everything that Annika and Lynn - the Ice Queen (as Beck had so not lovingly named her) had let them in and not her, for some reason that she had yet to understand - was different.


It was hard to figure out what different could mean for someone like Peach Salinger, but after everything that had happened.. it would be weird if she wasn't even the slightest bit changed. What that meant, however..was making Beck extremely nervous

"Beck?"


She was taken from her thoughts by Joe's voice and a gentle hand on her knee. She hated it but, as soon as she felt that touch, her only instinct was to pull away. Controlling herself, Beck forced herself to smile, placing her hand on top of Joe's. "We're here."


God, why did that feel.. so wrong?


Nodding, she removed her seat belt, before leaning forward and pecking Joe's lips. It was more of a thank you for bringing her than anything else but for now, it was necessary. "I should get going, then. You can go home, if you'd like.. I don't know how long this will take. I can catch an Uber home later."


Confusion and then hurt passed through Joe's expression and for a moment, Beck hated herself. She shouldn't be dragging someone else into this mess - into the mess that was her life, especially when he was a really, really good guy. He didn't deserve it and yet, she wasn't willing to let him go.. not just yet. Pretending to play with his hair, Beck looked away for a moment - to where Annika and Lynn would be waiting for her, before sighing.


"It will be fine, okay? It's just Peach, it's nothing new. It will be okay and.. once all of this is over, you and I can go somewhere - together. I promise." That seemed to make him relax a little bit but knowing Joe, he still had something to say. As always, she was right.


Rolling his eyes, he turned away from her. "Yeah, it's just Peach, the same deranged maniac who tried to hit on my girlfriend while she was at her most vulnerable. I think I'll be going inside with you, just in case you need me."


Normally, she wouldn't argue, but.. something about the way he insulted Peach made her even more annoyed. No, not annoyed, angry. "Don't call her that. Joe, for Christ's sake, have you forgotten what she's here for? She tried to kill herself. Depression is not a joke. And besides, I won't need you in there. I'm not a damsel in distress, Joe, I can take care of myself."


She should know that Peach was the only subject that she and Joe would never agree on, no matter what happened. Joe looked at her as if she was crazy, which made Beck even more annoyed. Who did he think he was? "You wanna know what I think?" She didn't, not really, especially since every minute that passed meant a bigger chance of the Ice Queen showing up and kicking her out - again, but what choice did she have?


"I think Peach was just looking for attention. I think she was straight up mad you rejected her, the way any normal person would, that she decided to take it to the next level. I mean, what kind of manic carries a gun around?" Beck couldn't believe what she was hearing. Scoffing, she shook her head in disbelief, before removing her seat belt.


She needed to get out of this car and.. she needed to do it now. "Joe, you're unbelievable. Peach was attacked - in the park, in case you forgot. She bought that for protection and don't you dare tell me you wouldn't have done the same." Even Beck herself would, under the right circumstances. When he didn't reply, Beck sighed. "I'll see you later."


Maybe. Won't be too bad if I don't.


Thankfully, Annika and Lynn were waiting for her at the entrance of the hospital and as soon as Beck wrapped her arms around her best friend's shoulders, she felt better instantly. Still, there was something.. the look on their face should have told her to run the other way, before walking right into the belly of the beast.


"What's wrong?" She asked, pulling away from them slightly, before frowning. "Please don't tell me she's in there and that I've wasted any entire trip." Lynn and Annika exchanged a look between each other, before Annika moved forward, shaking her head.


"No, Becks, it's not-" However, before she could continue, Lynn placed a hand on her back, stopping her from continuing. "I think.. it's best if Beck sees it for herself, Annika. Hears it herself." She couldn't help it but be confused - what on Earth were they talking about?


First Joe, now Annika and Lynn.. everyone was acting as if there was something wrong. What was on the air today? "Okay, I don't know what you guys are talking about, but.. I'm going in right now, before Joe freaks out and thinks I ran away. I'll see you guys later."


But before she could move away, Annika threw her arms around her and for a moment, if Beck didn't know better, she would think she was crying. "I'm sorry, Becks, you really do deserve better." And before she could ask what on Earth Annika was talking about, Lynn pulled her away, leaving Beck alone, in the middle of the hallway.


What?


She didn't know how she made it to the entrance of Peach's room - considering she was trembling, from head to toe and she couldn't remember the last time she had been this nervous. It was ridiculous - this was best friend, for God's sake, the person she knew-


No, scratch that. She believed she knew Peach, as well as the palm of her hand, but.. she didn't. That night at the Salinger cottage had proved that much.

Beck wondered if it was truly possible to ever known someone or if people remained hidden behind layers and layers of secrets, never revealing their truest selves.


Stopping right at the entrance of the room, Beck wanted to laugh at herself - because being nervous had done her no good and.. she was still not ready for this. She would never be ready for the moment Peach's eyes found hers, for the first time in weeks and.. for a moment, Beck forgot everything else. She forgot Joe, she forgot Annika and Lynn.. her best friend needed her and.. she wasn't going anywhere.   

After standing in the doorway for longer than she would admit, Beck cleared her throat, surprised at how steady her voice seemed, when it seemed she was shaking from the inside out. "Hey you. I missed you. How are you doing?" It was stupid, yes - but.. what else could one say to their best friend, if they had just tried to take their own life? Because of her, too. Peach had almost lost her life because of her.. and Beck could only realize that if she had been dead, it would be her fault.

Something softened in Peach's eyes at her words but, soon enough, it was gone, replaced by her original expression.  She was looking at her in such a.. such a strange way a way that Beck wasn't used. Peach had usually reserved her warmth for Beck and Beck alone, but.. this time, there was no warmth in her expression. No.. love? Only a strange, neutral expression - almost as if she was hiding what she felt behind a mask. A true Salinger, that was for sure.

Annika and Lynn were right, that was for sure. She was different.


"You shouldn't have come."

Chapter Text

Preparing for this for two weeks hadn't made it any easier.

"You shouldn't have come, Beck. You.. you need to go." She repeated, hiding her fists beneath the blanket - looking at anywhere but Beck. She couldn't look at Beck or.. everything would be lost.

Beck, who had always been able to see through all of the bullshit, through all of the lies.. Beck, who knew her better than anyone in the world - the same person who was the world to her.. the same person she'd never be allowed to see again, after this.

Peach hated her mother - that much had always been certain, but.. she had never hated anyone as much as she hated Joe Goldberg.

She'd find a way to make the bastard pay, one day. In one month, two, three.. it didn't matter. He might have won - for now, but Peach wouldn't rest until he payed for all of this.

The pain she was putting Beck through, the pain she had put herself through in the past few weeks.. it was all because of Joe and because she hadn't been able to see who he truly was, before it was too late.

And after this.. Beck would be all his. That thought was enough to make her want to throw up.
He had been right about one thing, though. Beck wouldn't give up - not unless she really, really hurt her. Hurting her best friend. Hurting the one person she loved the most in the world.
Was she really capable of doing it?

Peach wasn't sure.

Flinching when Beck moved to seat by her side, to reach for her hand, Peach moved to the edge of the bed, fighting the urge to take her hand in hers, much like she had done about a hundred times before. She couldn't.. she could only hope Joe fucking Goldberg would burn in hell.

" What, you’re sending me away when I just got here? Bad move, Peach. You're breaking your best friend's heart.” Beck seemed to think it was a joke, seemed to think that she would burst out laughing at any moment and hug her – as she always did and for a moment, Peach saw what could have happened.

Saw herself reaching forward, throwing her arms around Beck tightly – almost as if she was gathering all the courage she needed from that hug, before telling her everything.

Telling her she hadn’t tried to hurt herself, telling her that it had been Joe – it had always been Joe, right from the the beginning, from the attack on the park to Greenwich, that he was trying to drive an edge between them, because he couldn’t stand the thought of Beck being with someone much, much better than him.

Best case scenario, Beck would believe her – Beck would understand why she had taken the photos, Beck would understand why she couldn’t walk through the doors of that hospital and say that she liked.. that she loved her best friend, because her family would destroy her.

Her family would destroy her and Beck and.. she would never be able to live with herself if Beck’s career was destroyed, all because of her, before it had even begun.

Worst case scenario, she would never look in her face again, but.. that was okay. As long as she knew what kind of man, what kind of monster Joe Goldberg was, Peach would be alright. As long as Beck was safe, as long as she was happy.. Peach would find a way to cope. "You shouldn't have come," She repeated, keeping her eyes away from Beck's. "I didn't ask for you. Annika and Lynn were here earlier and.. I don't need you. I'm fine." Oh, she did need her. More than Beck would ever know.

She always had.

She was a Salinger, after all.

If there was anything her whole damn family was good at, it was pretending they were alright. It was acting as if there was nothing wrong, when they were dying on the inside. It was pretending they didn't need anyone or anything, when they were begging for help. Begging for the people they loved.

That was exactly what she had to do.

“Peach, of course I should have - I would have come sooner but your mom-" Beck’s concern made her heart clench for a moment but as Peach focused her eyes on the window, the bedside table, the curtains, she was slowly able to make it go away.

Do it now.

Even two weeks later, Peach hadn't been able to figure out which out of the two options would be worse. Beck believing she hated her - when all she wanted was for it to be the two of them, like this, forever and ever - or Beck finding out about the photos and her secret - finding out that her best friend was truly a fraud, someone who just kept on bullshitting her way through life.. who was madly in love with her - had been for years now, but.. never had the courage to admit it.

Who was she kidding?

If Joe went through with what he had threatened her with - he would, she was certain there was nothing that the psychopath wouldn't do by now, she would never be able to walk outside without being called a creeper, a psychopath, a stalker. Her family, her friends.. they would never look in her face again.

Especially Beck. Joe was right – she hated to admit it, but.. he was right.

Even imagining the look on Beck's face as she found out about the photos, about her secret, hurt. She would throw every insult in the book at her face – psychopath, creeper, stalker and she would never, ever, look at her again. Peach knew her well enough to know that.

And so, she did what she always did best – she was a Salinger, after all, and cleared her throat, clearing her face out of all emotion. “My mother did what I asked her to do. After everything that happened, did you really think I wanted you here? You chose that psychopath over me. You turned your back on me when I needed you the most. If it were up to me, I’d never see your face again and yet, here we are.”

The shock, hurt and disappointment on Beck’s face hurt more than any slap would have.

Hell, hurt more than being shot had – even if, thankfully, Peach couldn’t remember much of it.

When she thought back to it – she didn’t like to do it, she hated it ( even if sometimes, it was necessary) – she could only remember the moments before it all.

Shooting Joe.

Running to see if he was still alive (surprise, he was. Of course he was.)

Him, crawling on top of her – struggling to reach the gun first.

And then.. nothing. Darkness, cold. Until she woke up here, realizing that whatever control she had of her life was now gone. Her mother was in control now – even Joe fucking Goldberg was in control and.. Peach had nothing. Not even peace.

And now.. now, she was being forced to give up the only thing that had ever given her life meaning, all because of the blackmail of a fucking psychopath. Life after this? It wouldn’t have much meaning.

Still, Beck wasn’t ready to give up, apparently. Of course not. “After everything we’ve been through, I can’t believe you’re just going to-“ She took the opportunity to stop, to take a deep breath and calm herself down, before it was too late. “Peach, we’re.. it’s okay. What happened, we can put it all behind us. Annika and Lynn, they don’t need to know about any of it. We can move on, like we’ve done a thousand times before. Don’t do.. this. Please.”

She wanted to remember this. Wanted to remember this moment – one month, one year from now, when the pain became too much to bare. Wanted to remember how Beck had believed they could move on, how she wanted them to move on from this, because.. perhaps, she needed her, as much as Peach needed her.

When it all become too much, she’d remember this. Remembered the moment where it had all gone wrong in her life – all because of Joe. “Put it all behind us? What – the fact that you abandoned me when I needed you the most? The fact of accused me of doing something you had done? No, I’ve had enough. My mother is right. You’re nothing but poison. I'm much better off without you."

You’re nothing but poison.

It seemed.. it seemed, she truly was a Salinger, in the end. She regretted the words almost as soon as they left her mouth and.. the expression on Beck’s face only made it worse. She looked as if she had been slapped. She knew, goddamn it – she knew how the pain her father had caused her had followed Beck her entire life and yet, she had said.. that.

Burn in hell, Joe Goldberg. And burn in hell, Sylvia fucking Salinger, for even having been born.

She was about to take it all back, to reach for Beck’s hands and apologize – there’s nothing that the two of us can’t do together, Becklacious, I promise – when she saw him.

Standing right behind the door, as the creeper that he was, Joe Goldberg was smiling. Peach didn’t even need to think much to know that he had been listening to their entire conversation. That fucking bastard.

Still, all it took was one look at Beck’s face to bringing back all the anxiety that kept accumulating in her chest – more and more and more, with each passing second, leaving Peach feeling as if she were about to pass out. Maybe she was. As of now, she couldn’t bring herself to care less. “Beck, I-“ She had to say something, Joe be damned. She had to.. she couldn’t lose Beck like this.

What could she say?

Beck, I love you. Beck, I’m sorry. Beck, I didn’t mean it. Beck.. please forgive me.

Beck, who barely cried (at least in front of her friends), looked to be on the verge of tears. And Peach herself, well.. she was starting to wonder if maybe, just maybe, it wouldn’t have been better for her to die that day, exactly two weeks ago, when Joe Goldberg had fought her for the gun – when she and Beck had truly said goodbye to each other, when she was meant to die. If this was what came after surviving, Peach wasn’t sure she wanted it.

Being dead was better.

Beck seemed to agree with her, at last. Hurrying to get her things into her bag, Beck shook her head in disbelief – Peach knew her well enough to know that she was holding back tears and.. it hurt.

“I can’t believe I was stupid enough to come. Joe told me I shouldn’t, but.. of course I didn’t listen to him.”

Being shot by one of her greatest enemies hurt.

Being rejected by her family her entire life, because she’d never be perfect (no matter what she did, Peach had learned that at her own cost) hurt. Kissing Beck and finally, finally almost admitting her feelings hurt.

But.. she had to admit that nothing had ever hurt as much as standing there, not being able to move a muscle, in order to stop the love of her life from leaving for good, all because her psychotic boyfriend, who was standing behind the door, had found a way to blackmail her.

He hadn’t killed her, but.. it surely did feel like he had.

Beck had begged her not to do this.
Beck wanted her in her life, even after everything they had been through.
Beck didn’t want to give up on her – even knowing who she truly was.

A mess, a fraud, a liar.

That was it, though. There was no turning back from this.. even if, technically, this was best case scenario. If Beck knew what else she was, she’d never look in her face again.
If she let her go now, though.. there was a chance they’d be able to fix this, somewhere in the future, when Joe wasn’t in the picture. Beck.. Beck needed to see who he truly was for herself, there wasn’t much else that Peach could do.

If you love someone, you let them go.

Did that still apply when you loved them, truly, truly loved them and if they were the only good thing in your life? Did that still apply.. when, if you did let them go, they would run straight into the arms of a psychopath?

Peach wasn’t sure if she’d ever know the answer.

“Beck, I... I’m sorry it had to be like this.” It was a pathetic excuse for as answer but.. Peach felt pathetic right now. She felt destroyed, she felt hurt.. she felt as if she were already dead and this was all some strange version of an after life. Still, Beck knew her better than anyone.

Shaking her head once, Beck smiled sadly. “No, you’re not.” And before Peach could stop her, she walked out. Out of the room, out of her life. And when she did walk outside, she noticed something that made her heart drop. Joe, smiling. Joe, winking at her, before he finally followed after Beck. He had won, he had won.. and the bastard knew it.

Peach couldn't stand for this. She got up, much, much more quicker than she should had - according to her head, at least, that felt like it was about to explode and followed them down the hallway, ignoring the way her vision got blurrier with each passing second. "Beck! Beck, hold on, Beck - please!" She could see them - could still see her, growing smaller and smaller as she walked away from Peach's life for good, but she would never be able to get to her in time. The damage was done, after all.

The last thing she saw before it all turned black was Beck, Beck walking from her - Beck looking back and noticing her, before turning away again.. out of her life for good.