Actions

Work Header

We Accept The Love We Think We Deserve

Chapter Text

"Sterling, you are my daughter"

That's all it took.

That one sentence was all it took to completely destroy the image Sterling had of every truth she's ever known. She looked to Blair completely lost, as if finding out their mother having a psychopathic identical twin sister wasn't enough new information for one night. But surely that would mean... no... Sterling and Blair weren't twins? They were cousins?

The looks on both Debbie and Anderson's faces were a mix between guilty and distraught. That little truth reveal could potentially tear their, seemingly perfect, family apart.
Meanwhile, Dana was still on the opposite end of Debbie's shotgun, and after the reveal of that shred of information, she was definitely not letting up any time soon. Instead, she gripped the gun tighter in anger and held her aim steady so Dana knew she wasn't getting out of this the easy way, like she had done her whole life.

The news had been thrown at her too fast for her to catch and she couldn't quite comprehend what everything meant now. Her whole life suddenly had a hazy cloud surrounding it, as did her future. After taking a quick second to let the situation sink in, Sterling took off running to Bowsers car. She had thought for a minute that she was safe and back with her family in one piece, but it seems she was led into a false sense of security. Deep down she knew something about it was too easy. She knew it wouldn't be so simple for Bowser and Blair to just locate her and leave the scene unscathed, but this was definitely not what she expected. A shootout? Or maybe even a money exchange? Sure, that seems like standard ransome procedure. But losing her sister, parents and girlfriend, or hookup, or whatever she could even call it, in a single night was just way too much.

Once Dana and her crazy boyfriend were detained by Bowser, both Debbie and Anderson tried to approach Sterling to comfort her and explain or even apologise for all the lies, but Sterling was in complete and total shutdown mode. The only person Sterling would let near her was Bowser, and of course Blair, but even then she didn't talk or respond to any of their interactions, other than with a simple nod or shake of her head. Sterling was so in shock that she didnt even have it in her to cry. Of course she wanted to, or needed to, but the tears just refused to fall. Her brain and emotions were in shock simultaneously and all she could feel was numb. Too much information had been thrust at her in such a short space of time that she was still trying to process all of it and make it make sense.

Sterling stared out of the window from the backseat of Bowsers car, and watched as streetlights and other cars passed them by. The whole journey was audibly silent, but Sterling was stuck in her head and couldn't help but think about the arms she wanted to be holding her and comforting her right now, the arms that were previously prepared to hold her hand at the lock-in, yet the same ones that had pushed her away just a few hours ago. The thought of April was comforting for a moment until she remembered those arms no longer wanted to be within a meter of her when they were sat on that bench, let alone hold her. The only other words spoken came from Bowser reminding both girls to put on their seatbelts and then saying goodbye and that he was thankful that they were both okay, physically at least, when he dropped them off at home. Blair thanked him on behalf of them both and Sterling just gave him a hollow and absent smile. She didn't mean to come across as ungrateful or standoffish, as he probably already knew, but she just didn't have it in her to do anything other than retreat straight to her bedroom and lock out the rest of the world that had hurt her so badly.

While in the solitude of her childhood bedroom, Sterling questioned what she had done for God to punish her like this. She had always been a good christian daughter, helping the less fortunate and being kind to everyone whether she thought they deserved it or not. She looked around her room at all of the pictures and memoirs she had hanging up. Was any of it real? She couldnt help but feel betrayed, how could she not? She had been lied to for her entire life, led to belive that her and Blair shared a womb, when in fact they didn't even share a mother. She eventually collapsed against her locked door in exhaustion. Faint footsteps could be heard walking around the house and even some lingering outside her bedroom, but neither Anderson or Debbie tried to come in. Blair tried both the main and the shared bathroom doors, hoping Sterling would at least let her in so they could share their grief and hash it out together, like they always had with everything, but even she had no such luck.

Sterling didn't even get the chance to tell Blair about her and April's breakup, and how the smaller girl suddenly did a total 180 and decided she had to focus on her family rather than her own happiness. How naive Sterling was to assume that would be her only heartbreak of the night. Ironically, April was no longer the only one of the pair with a fucked up family, not that Sterling could even tell her that now. What they once had was seemingly over, and with John Stevens' unexpected return, it would have to stay that way for the forseeable. Not only would he be after her and Blair for beating the crap out him at his own lakehouse, but if he found out about Sterling and April's relationship, no matter how brief it was, there would surely be even more hell to pay.

Chapter Text

The Wesley twins had been absent all week. April would understand if Sterling was a no show for a few days, after their melancholy interaction at the night of the lock-in, but why was Blair nowhere to be seen either? And the whole week, really? Surely that was just overkill and far too dramatic. April thought it would only take Sterling a few days to get over it, if that. After all, following her breakup with Luke, she was practically glowing, and walked the school halls with a spring in her step. But it was now Friday and neither twin had shown their face at Willingham.

Something wasn't right. And as much as she shouldn't care, she couldn't help it. Just because her and Sterling were no longer together, or whatever, she still cared about her a great deal, she had done since the fifth grade. Feelings like that were not just something that could be deactivated so easily, April was hurting too.

April struggled to concentrate through her lessons, normally they were a breeze for her as she was always ahead of curriculum and had prepared notes in advance, but she just couldn't stop her mind from wandering and thinking of every worst-case scenario of what had happened to the girl she very much still had feelings for. Was she in a serious accident? Abducted by aliens? She knew these theories were absurd, but since all of her messages had gone unanswered, it was the best she could come up with.

Her seat was empty the second the bell had gone, and frankly she was just glad it was over. It was only lunch time but she was determined to get to the bottom of the twins absence, even if it meant tarnishing her perfect attendence and letting her guard down more than she felt comfortable with. After hastily slinging her un-needed textbooks into her locker, she slammed it closed and heard the spooked squeak of Luke behind her.

"Oh, uh, hey April. Are you okay?" He asks, concerned about the strength she put into closing her locker door.

"Yes, I'm fine. Just tired. Sorry for scaring you." She brushes him off, hopeful that he will just let it go so she can be on her way.

She begins to walk away, but Luke gently grabs her by the arm to stop her as she walks past him. And to her annoyance, he speaks "I know you guys don't really get on too well, but have you seen Sterl lately? She hasn't been ansering my messages or returning any of my calls. I thought maybe you would have seen her since you organised the lock-in together. I'm kinda worried about her."

"No Luke I haven't, now is there anything else or can I get going?" She snaps. She didn't mean to be so rude to him, but she was in a rush to settle her own worries, and he was slowing her down.
He just stares at her and stutters, so she rolls her eyes and takes it as her cue to leave and get to her car, while shooting a message to Ezekiel and Hannah B that she was leaving for the day. She did feel kind of bad, Luke was actually a pretty cool guy (except for the fact that he is clingy, annoying and still in love with the girl she has liked since the 5th grade) and he was just worried for Sterling's wellbeing, the same as she was. But she had been too in her head to keep up her stoic facade throughout the course of the draining day, so she had to atleast have one witness to prove she hadn't gone soft. Unfortunately Luke was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was at the recieving end of it.

Once she was in the security of her car, she loosened her tight pony tail and tried to call Sterling one last time before going to the house herself to see what the hell was going on. As expected, the call went straight to voicemail and April groaned in frustration to herself before actually leaving a voicemail this time. "Sterling Wesley, for the love of the Lord you better have fallen off the face of the Earth or be dead to be missing school for the entire week. I'm coming over, whether you want me there or not, so you brought this on yourself."
She ended the message and threw her phone into the centre console before putting her gorgeous Dodge Challenger (that her amazing daddy had bought her) into gear and speeding out of the student parking lot.

-

Nearly taking out her front bumper on the curb, April swung her car, borderline drifting it like she was in a drag race, into the Wesley driveway and parked it next to the twins' Chevy Volt. It had only taken her 10 minutes, as apposed to the usual 25, to get to the Wesley house as she had pushed her Challenger to its limits (as well as probably violating a few traffic laws) and tested its true speed for the first time. Luckily the Volt appeared to be the only other car there, and April thanked her lucky stars that was the case, as in all her panic and rushing, she hadn't actually prepared an excuse to deliver to Mr and Mrs Wesley for skipping school to talk to their truant daughter in the middle of the day. The fact that she hadn't come up with a parent appropriate excuse for being there reminded her that she had not actually come prepared for any of it. What would she say to Sterling once she actually came face-to-face with her? "oh yeah, sorry for flirting with your ex right in front of you and then breaking your heart, where the hell have you been?" Yeahh that definitely wasn't going to end very well.

Once she finally plucked up the courage to leave the sanctuary of her car, she peeled herself from her drivers seat and headed up the winding path to the Wesley front door, where Blair was already there to greet her. April braced herself, this clearly wasn't going to go as smoothly as she'd have liked it to. The older twin gave her a once over from head to toe, then spoke, "Look Einstein, I know you and Sterlng are together or whatever, but she really isn't up for having visitors right now. If she won't even talk to me, it's unlikely she'll talk to you either."

"First of all Wesley, my IQ is no doubt higher than that of Einstein's thank you very much." This gained a dramatic eyeroll from Blair.

"Second of all, me and Sterling are no longer together, as of the night of the lock-in because of my fathers return, but she has't been answering my calls or texts and I'm worried. I didn't come to debate this, I want to talk to Sterling so let me in." It pained her to admit the pair were no longer romantically involved with each other, and she knew she had to tread carefully with Blair the gatekeeper, but she also needed to let it be known that she was not leaving without talking to Stering herself.

Blairs eyes widened at the reveal the shorter teen had just let out and she scoffed, "So you're telling me that you break my sis- Sterling's heart, leave her alone outside the lock-in, and you still have the audacity to come here and telll me to let you in? Wow Stevens, I never realised it but you've got some balls. Well in that case, it went from a hard no, to a 100% definite NO. Now vamos bitch!"

The brunette tried to slam the door in the other girls face, but Aprils reflexes were faster and she jammed her foot in the way just before it closed, which consequently elicted a pained grunt from the smaller girl. She pushed her way in the door and over the threshold, closing it behind her and knocking Blair over before she could even think to do anything about it.

"Ugh fine Stevens, but I swear to the Almighty if you hurt her any more you better expect my lacrosse stick coming for your weird little face." Blair remarked, while picking herself up from the foyer floor and staightening out her shirt.

April looked all too pleased with herself as she ascended the winding stairs up to Sterings bedroom. Once she was outside the door, she knocked lightly before entering, surpissed to find the door unlocked. She immediately saw Sterling, leaning with her back on the other side of her bed and head resting against her knees. The sight of the other girl was heartbreaking as it was, but when April smelled a strange peachy scent, she walked closer to Sterling to investigate and accidentally kicked an empty glass bottle sending it spinning across the light cream carpet. April's heart sank as she picked up the bottle and read the label 'Peach Schnapps'. She bent down to the blondes level and tried to lift her head up to assess the damage, and as she feared it was pretty bad. "Oh Sterl, what have you done to yourself?"

Sterling had dark circles underneath her eyes and they were red and puffy from crying, she also couldn't hold her head up properly without April holding either side of her face for support. She had somehow managed to leave the house, purchase alcohol while being underaged, down the entire bottle and collapse against her bed, all without her parents or even Blair noticing. April knew Sterling had to have bought the bottle from somewhere, there's no way the Wesleys would keep Peach Schnapps in their liquor cabinet. They had taste, expensive taste. The stealth of it all would be impressive if it wasn't just for her to drink away her woes and end up in this sorry state.

Just as the shorter teen was helping the tall blonde to her feet, she began to come out from her comatose state and looked April dead in the eyes. "W-w-what the hell are yooouu doing in my room?" Sterling managed to slur before harshly pulling, or stumbling, away from the other girls grip.

"I was worried about you Sterling. I've called and messaged and left voicemails and you never answered me. So I came to see if you were alive. Now please just let me help you into bed." She reached for Sterling again but the blonde pulled away and tripped on the empty Schnapps bottle, making her land on her ass.

Sterling began to chuckle and as she looked up, she spoke "Ohhh you were worrieeeddd were you? I find that hard to believe considering you flirted with my ex to piss me off and then dumped my ass and left me to die on a damn bench." She said dramatically, words tumbling from her mouth with absoloutely no filter.

"Oookay that's quite enough of that. You're drunk Sterling, obviously, don't say something you'll regret. Give me your hand." April offered her hand for Sterling to take, but instead she slapped it away clumsily, her whole body following the motion.

"Ha, regret is a funny word. Irooonic, some would say. Regret as in the regret you have for locking that door and kissingggg meee back rather than just leavingggg? Yeahhh I'd say you regret that." She said while making kissy faces and laughing to herself. She was intoxicated, and didn't realise the impact her words were having on the girl stood in front of her. April was taken aback by Sterling's harsh words, she knew the girl didn't have control over what was spewing from her mouth, but in a way she was also hearing the truth in the blonde's words, of course sober Sterling would've sugar-coated it a lot more in order to spare the shorter girl as much pain as possible, that's just the beautiful soul Sterling was, but drunk Sterling was still talking with her heart on her sleeve nonetheless.

As savage as Sterling was being, she wasn't exactly incorrect. April had flirted with Luke and left her on the bench outside, after destroying the serenity of what they previously had, but she didn't do it to get a rise out of or anger the younger twin, she would never hurt her like that on purpose. She did it because pushing people away is what she does best when she's scared. She was scared that her father would find out about them, if he hadn't already. He was asking far too many questions for her liking after his unexpected return from rotting in his cell. Some sort of distance had to be formed between the two for both of their safety.

"Sterling you're right, I know I hurt you and I'm sorry. When you're sober I'll give you a better explanation and a better apology, and you can explain to me why you got yourself in this state just over me. But for now, please just let me help you." She tried once more to help the girl, but Sterling was still on her high horse and had more to say.

Sterling stood up to deliver her next line, "Youuu think I got like this because of youu? Don't flatter yourself hun, I've recently been through things you couldn't even beeginn to fathom." This time she made her own way to her bed and slumped down into the pillows covering her head with the duvet.

"What? What are you talking about Sterl? Did something happen after you left the lock-in?" April's hurt was clouded by her worry yet again, as she took a seat at the end of the bed and tried to decipher what the inebriated girl was trying to say.

"Just do us both a favour and leave me alone. Please." This time Sterling sounded more broken than drunk, her words were delicate but the meaning behind them was sharp, delivered like glass, piercing through April's heart.

She didn't want to, but April stood and headed towards the bedroom door, daring to take one last glance at the fragmented soul that she had been falling for since they met in the 5th grade. Sighing, she closed the door gently and started to head back down the stairs, only to meet Blair, who was leaning against the bannister at the bottom. "The smug little look on your face seems to have dissipated, so I guess it didn't go too well?" The older Wesley twin quips. April was trying to focus on not letting her tears fall, she could feel them on her tear line but hell would freeze over before she let Blair Wesley see her cry. That didn't mean she was going to let the brunette have a free shot without recieving a ricochet. "Rather than giving me shit, Wesley, why don't you go and check on your fucking sister before she downs another bottle of Schnapps to drown out her feelings." It was short and sweet but laced with vicious venom, and that was all that was needed to silence the older twin and rid her from self-satisfied look on her face.
Blair narrowed her eyes at April as they passed each other, April definitely taking it as her cue to leave and escape back to her car.

Once April was back in the safety of her car, she mindlessly drove to the closest empty parking lot and finally let her tears fall. She needed this, as much as it hurt to admit. But since her father was arrested, she hadn't had the luxury to just let everything go like this without anyone judging or looking down on her. She had to be strong for her mother,but it was eating her up inide, killing her. No wonder she couldn't be brave like Sterling could.

The image of a slurring Sterling would not leave her mind and it really did kill her to see the girl like that, knowing it was partly her fault. She had hurt her really badly, that much was clear, but she wasn't expecting to see her like that. Sterling was the brave one, the one who kissed her first, the one who was ready to come out and show the world how she felt for the other girl. To see her look so broken was a true shock to the system to say the least. Something Sterling said was stuck floating around April's head though "I've recently been through things you couldn't even begin to fathom." It had been delivered in a rather Victorian manor, thanks to the alcoholic influence of the Schnapps and the sass, but what on earth had Sterling been through, other than their breakup, to leave her this fragile and hollow. There was nothing April could do until Sterl was ready to talk though. The last thing she wanted to do was make things worse by digging up things about Sterling that did not concern her. When Sterling was ready, and if she ever wanted to talk to the small blonde again, all would be explained.
But until then, April could really use a friend or two right now. Although she often treats them harshly (thanks to her inner power hungry demon) Ezekiel and Hannah B were her support bubble, and she knew they had been there for her after Sterling had given her away in the 5th grade. So hopefully they would be there for her now when she needed them most.

She quickly pulled out her phone to check the time. It was only 1:15pm and school didn't let out for another few hours, but she shot a text to the Holy Trinity group chat anyway.

April (1:17pm)
hey, don't suppose you guys could get out early and meet me at the diner in town?
could really use some friends rn :)

Ezekiel (1:19pm)
hmm Queen A being nice is lowkey sus, but im going out of my mind in geog
b there in 10

Hannah B (1:19pm)
ofc sweetie, there in 10, P.S what does sus mean?

Their replies make April smile to herself for a moment as she starts her cars engine once again. She makes a mental note for herself to give her two minion- friends more credit for how much they actually do for her, she honestly doesn't know where she would be without them. She heads off to meet them at the diner, this time following the rules of the road properly now that she knows Sterling is at least alive.

Chapter Text

The second April is on the opposite side of the Wesley threshold, Blair is sprinting up to Sterling's room like a gazelle. She will be damned if her sis- cousin, whateverthefuck is turning herself into an alcoholic wreck under her nose. Blair doesn't even bother knocking as she slams the door to Sterling's room open, so hard that it hits the shelf behind it and knocks a few books off. The sound of her books crashing onto the floor scares the crap out of the tall blonde as she sits up in shock, now leaning up against her headboard.
"Ugh Blair I said leave me alone, I don't want to talk to anyone right nowww."

"Yeah well to hell with that request your highness. What the fuck is wrong with you Sterl? I get that you've had one of the worst weekends imaginable but is this really necessary?" The brunette questions, holding up the empty bottle of Peach Schnapps between two fingers like it was a bag of Chloe's poop. "Yuck! If you're gonna kill your liver, at least do it with something classy or actually worth drinking. You're better than this sis and you know it! I'm talking about the turn to alcoholism, as well as the bad decision of Schnapps bt-dubbs. Ugh, mainly the schnapps though."

Sterling just groaned and pulled the duvet back over her head. before quietly muttering "I'm your cousin, not your sister." It was a given that this response would rile Blair up, so she marched over to the bed and ripped the bedsheets away from her like she was a beyblade (her head was probably spinning like one) "BLAIR WHAT THE HECK, IT'S FREEZING! GET OUT OF M-" The younger girl couldn't finish her sentence before being bombarded by pillows and cushions being thrown by Blair.

"You're cold, you idiot, because you're absolutely off your face and its affecting your blood circulation. It's like 1000 degrees in this house which you would know if you'd left your room at least once in the past week. Why on earth did you think alcohol would help your mental state and how did you even get it without anyone noticing? You better not lie to me! Oh and fuck biology and womb technicalities, you are my sister, and nothing will ever change that."

"Turns out that dodgey store owner just around the block doesn't card." The blonde shrugs nonchalantly, talking like it was a piece of common knowledge. "Oh and it's like reallyyyy easy, maybe a bit too easy, to climb out of my window when no-one is paying attention." Sterling drunkenly giggles to herself, until she starts violently hiccuping. This earns an award winning eye roll from Blair. "I'm going to get you some ice water, and make nachos for myself as a reward for having to deal with your drunk ass. When i come back upstairs, I want to see you either starting to sober up, or with your head in the toilet bowl, either one will suffice. And if it's the latter, well, you brought that on yourself." Blair pats her on the head and messes up her hair slightly, then runs down the stairs laughing as she knew Sterling would be too wobbly to chase her.
The next thing Sterling knew, she could feel the bile rising from her stomach, and she had to make a run for the bathroom so she could get her head in that toilet bowl before she hurled.

-

It was around 1:40pm when April finally pulled into the diners parking lot. It was a dainty little place, but it had decent enough food and breadsticks that were to die for. April used to come here with her aunt and her grandmother quite often, before they had been ostracised by her father when he found out they voted for Biden. It was one of the only places she could go that had only been mildly tainted by her prostitute-beating father. Nevertheless it still held happy memories, so she saw it fit to be the place where she would finally let her friends in on a very crucial part of her life. As she entered the large glass doors of the diner, she saw Ezekiel and Hannah B already seated in a corner booth, Hannah B waving frantically at her. 'Here goes noth- everything, here goes eveything.' She thought to herself, but she masked the pain her thought had created with a small smile that didn't quite reach her eyes.

"Girl, if you feel as bad as you look..." Ezekiel commented, recieving a swift elbow to the stomach from Hannah B who was sat next to him. "Be nice Mr sassy pants, she looks beautiful, a little sad, but still beautiful." Hannah B reprimanded him, while tilting her head to the side to analyse the face of her friend.

"It's fine honestly. I probably deserved that. I'm sure I've said worse to you both multiple times a day for the past few years." The shorter girl began with her solemn apology to the pair sat in front of her. "I often let my emotions get the best of me, we'll call it misdirected anger, not that it's and excuse for how badly I've treated you two when all you've done is have my back when everyone else talked behind it." A tear started to form in the girls eye, and for once, she let down her guard and let it fall.

"Guurrl, let me stop you right about there," Ezekiel reached his arm across the table to take her hand in his warm grasp. "Yeah, fine, you've made some snarky comments to us over the years, but I think I can speak for both Bee and myself, when I say that being friends with you has been one of the best experiences of our lives. Not because you have a rich Daddy and a lakehouse and other meaningless material things, they don't matter to us. What matters to us is that evey time someone tried to mess with us, you were there to fight them off. You protected us from so many hateful bullies and bigots throughout the course of our friendship, while also dealing with all of your own demons. How can you not see how strong you are?"

At this point, there were no end of tears streaming down Aprils face. Hannah B move to sit on the other side of the booth, so she could hold the crumbling girl in her arms, and give her the support she needed.

Accuse Bee of not being able to read a room all you like, but she sure damn knew when one of her best friends needed her comforting embrace, and she sure damn knew how to deliver one.

The raven haired girl held April and stroked her hair to calm her and let her know she was here for her. "We love you honey, no matter what. There's nothing you could do or say that would make us turn on you. We owe you more that you'll ever know.

This made April sit up slowly and wipe her eyes. 'Would they still feel that way after she told them? Only one way to find out.' She gathered ahold of herself so she could break it to them in a calm and collected state.

She let out a shaky breath of air and closed her eyes tight before announcing "I'm um, I'm gay." A moment of panic washed over her as she pried her eyes open to see why her announcement was being met with silence.

April looked from the girl next to her to the boy across from her, meeting both sets of eyes, before Ezekiel burst out laughing. Hannah B kicked him lightly under the table when she realised April was still panic-stricken at their reaction.

He instantly regained his composure and cleared his throat. "I-uh, I'm sorry, that was uncalled for." He apologised to the girl sat opposite him.

"I don't get it, what's funny about that?" April was still extremely confused.

Ezekiel just stared at her blankly, willing her to catch on, but he eventually gave up when he saw doubt setting on the smaller girls face.

"Seriously? How long have you known me? I'm literally the epitome of a raging homosexual. You missy, need your gaydar seriously servicing if you hadn't already caught onto that fact." He kissed his teeth at the girls cluelessness.

"Oh? OH! wow, yeah that actually makes a lot of sense... You're literally the only guy at school who knows how to dress himself in presentable way yet have a great deal of style." Ezekiel tipped his head and gave an appreciative salute at the compliment.

Yep, it all made sense now. And wow, she really did need to get her gaydar checked. She had been so spooked of anyone knowing her secret for years, yet she had a loyal ally right next to her the entire time.

April turned to Hannah B, "Did you know about both of us the whole time?" Hannah B always seemed so unobservant, but she had April fooled for years. Her best friend just responded with a knowing wink.

The Trinity then burst into a fit of uncontrollable laughter. Simultaneously, they all had a weight lifted off their shoulders. Hannah B no longer had to play dumb, she knew both of her friends were taking a step closer to the outside of the closet and she was so proud of them. Ezekiel could just be shamelessly Ezekiel. And April could love and appreciate both of her besties and continue to be there for them and guard them from the bigots at school.

"One thing still remains a mystery though." Hanna B noted as they were all coming down from their laughter high. The other two looked at her expectantly, waiting for her to continue. "How come you left school in a hurry today? And why were you so upset when you messaged us earlier?" Right, they knew she was gay now, but they still didn't know about her and Sterling. Now that one was gonna take some explaining.

-

Sterling's throat burned from ejecting the contents of her stomach for the past 40 minutes, as she wiped her mouth with a wet cloth and cleaned her face. It was refreshing, but she still felt like absolute trash, to put it mildly. She'd spent the whole week feeling absolutely numb, and often having flashbacks, which caused her to jolt awake in the middle of the night.

Blair may have been a little insensitive, just barging into her room and telling her what to do, but it's what she needed. Tough love. And it worked, she was up and out of her bed for the first time since the night of the lock-in. She took the week to herself to process everything, alone. She hadn't spoken to her parents/aunt and uncle, or Blair, or anyone. Not that she could contact anyone else anyway, as she had no phone, thanks to Dana's crazy ass throwing it out of the truck window.

The first form of human contact she had all week was when April came to see her, and her memory of that was hazy, she didn't assume it went well though.

"Awesome, you're alive. You look like shit by the way, just thought I'd let you know." Blair remarked, as she entered the shared bathroom.

"Yes I can see that, thanks to this massive mirror in front of me, but thanks for that Blair." Sterling sighed and rolled her eyes at the brunette's observation. She had missed Blair's sarcastic analysis of everything and she had missed Blair. "Oh, and I'm sorry for saying you're not my sister. I vaguely remember saying something along those lines, I was just upset with everything. It was kinda out of order, and despite everything that has happened, we will always be sisters. I love you sis"

"I love you too, you dork. Now get dressed, we're going out to get you a new phone. We're going back to school tomorrow as well. Just because you're smart enough to take a bunch of time off without falling behind, it doesn't mean I am too, and I refuse to face it alone. So unless you want to be writing my essays for me for the next month, it's not up for debate." She raised her eyebrows at the blonde, daring her to protest it. And when she didn't, Blair started talking again, "Also drunk Sterl clearly doesn't like Stevens as much sober Sterl does, what did you say to her? She definitely didn't look too happy when she left."

April's visit had been unexpected, to say the least. She had made it pretty clear the previous week that she wanted absolutely nothing to do with Sterling so she could focus on her family.
'Focus on her family huh? More like continue to live a lie in order to not tarnish the perfect image of her they had.' Sterling's mind supplied for her.
So why had she skipped school to show up at the house? Surely a dent in her perfect attendance wouldn't go unnoticed by her father. At least that was a positve about being dragged back to school tomorrow, she could question April herself, find out what her drunk self said to the girl, and yeahh probably apologise too.

"In complete honesty... I have no idea what I said to her, but I guess if you're forcing me to come with you tomorrow, we will soon find out. Oh...um, her dad is back by the way, and was apparently asking a lot of questions about us. I never got the chance to tell you." Sterl informed, while walking back into her room to hunt in her dresser for something to wear.

"What the hell do you mean 'he's back'? H-how? He cheated on his wife and beat up a prostitute, why the fuck would any judge let him get away with that?! UGH fucking patriarchal bullshit." Angry was an understatement, Blair was furious.

"Shit, he's probably going to have it in for us too, I guess we better watch our backs. Do you think he told April that we were the ones to take him in?" She ranted, while watching Sterling run from different corners of her room to get dressed. Normally Sterling would repremand her for the bad language, but Blair was right, it was bullshit.

Sterling hadn't even considered the fact hat April could know everything. She had been too busy sulking over her own problems to think about what John Stevens could have already drilled into his daughters brain about the pair of them. April would absolutely hate her, especially if the news came from his dirty, cheating mouth. The blonde could handle them not being together, barely, but having April completely erase her from her atmosphere would be a whole different type of heartbreak. She promised herself she would come clean to the smaller girl about everything the next time they had a chance to talk.

"I really can't answer that Blair, but I guess we will find out tomorrow. Now can we please go? The mall is gonna get really busy soon and I want to get in, get the phone, and get out as quickly as possible to get the whole ordeal over and done with."

 

Sterling was still wading through all of the previous weeks missed notifications, that had been flooding through her new phone since the second she set it up, while mindlessly walking alongside Blair to their respective lockers. There was a tonne of messages and missed calls from Blair, even more from Debbie and Anderson, and a few from Bowser too. All of them were from that night last week, in which none of them knew where she was or if she was even alive. It was overwhelming how much she had to read, but it was comforting to know that she had people around her that cared, even if some of them had lied to her and Blair for their entire lives.

The most recent calls and messages she had were from April, dated from yesterday just before she had come to see Sterling. They mostly just seemed worried and apologetic, none of them letting on as to whether she knew about the Bounty Hunting or not.

As if on cue, the Holy Trinity themselves appeared at the other end of the hallway, but something was off. No April? It was an extreme rareity to see a duo rather than a trio walking the halls, with no short but rather fiesty leader stood front and centre.

Sterling stared at them, trying to get a read of the April-less situation. But when they felt her glare, all she recieved from the two were slight smirks and somewhat knowing looks, before the bell rang and they disappeared to their own classes. Spanish was her first class of the day and one she shared with April, maybe she would be there?

As soon as Sterling walked through the door of the Spanish classroom, she was swept up into a giant bear hug by Luke. "Hey Sterl, I missed you. You've been gone all week and you didn't reply to my messages, I was starting to get worried. If it was because of the kiss last Friday, I'm sorry. I know we're not together so I'm sorry if I overstepped." He said while scratching the back of his head.

"It wasn't because of you Luke, don't worry. I've uh- I've been ill- yeah, I had a cold and didn't wanna spread it to anyone. I also managed to drop my phone down the toilet and only got a new one yesterday. About the kiss though, I shouldn't have led you on like that, it wasn't fair on you, I'm sorry. I still care about you deeply as a friend though." She came up with a quick believable ish excuse as to why she had been M.I.A the whole week, to dismiss the boys worries.

Ugh she had completely forgot about kissing Luke, so she was upfront about it being a mistake and hoped they could just forget the interaction and move on from it.


"I-uh friends? Yeah, sure I can do friends. I'm just glad you're back and okay Sterl, it was weird without you here." Luke smiled at the girl and then took his seat as Senora O'Reilly claps her hands together to get everyone's attention.

Class had officially started, but where the heck was April? She was usually already in her seat before anyone else was even there, not late like this, it wasn't normal.

By the time lunch had begun, Sterling was yet to catch a glimpse of the one person she really needed to talk to. She had three classes with the shorter teen, but April was a no-show for all of them. Her head was in her hands when she felt Blair sit down at the table in the seat across from her . "Yo, we've only been here a few hours, what's up? Who said what?" Blair questioned, wanting to know what had been said, and who it was that would be on the opposite end of her freshly polished lax stick.

"No-one said anything Blair, chill. It's April, I haven't seen her all day and she won't reply to my messages." The blonde said with a huff as she lifed her head back up.

"Jesus Sterling stop pining over the she-devil. Who cares where she is? Just be thankful that she's nowhere near this general area." Blair said, still salty over being knocked onto her ass by the smaller teen the day before.

"I care where she is Blair! Yes, I know I probably shouldn't, but I can't help it. And I need to apologise for whatever drunk me said and explain everything to her before her dad can. And don't say the lord's name in vain!" She snapped at Blair.

Sterling needed answers, pronto. Her texts had been recieved, but not yet opened, so she needed a new plan. And that new plan, or in this case plans, just walked right through the door and took their usual seats at their usual lunch table. She was up and over there as soon as they had sat down, immedietly asking "Hey, have you guys seen April today?"

Ezekiel looked the girl up and down with a knowing smirk while Hannah B picked at her cuticles. "Well, if it isn't the white girl with the eyes. Take a seat." He said, more of an instruction than an invitation.

Sterling gulped as she took the seat between the duo, recieving a glare from Hannah B. This time it was the raven haired girl that spoke. "No, we haven't seen her today. But, we have spoken to her and she's fine. She is taking the day off to be with her parents."

Having recieved the answer to her question, Sterling went to stand again, but the action was interrupted by the girls next words. "Nuh-uh. Sit back down. We were definitely not finished here."

‘Wow,’ Sterling thought to herself. ‘When did Hannah B become a feisty one? that was Aprils job.’ Nevertheless, she took a seat once again, seeing the other girl nod her head to Ezekiel.

"We know about the two of you, she told us everything. Including what happened yesterday. Now I will let you and her discuss that privately. For now, we just want to let you know that she is hurting, and we don't like seeing our girl hurt. I'm only gonna say this, once so listen and listen good." Oh Sterling was listening, she was afraid what they would do to her if she didn't.

"As far as we're concerned, you get one more chance with her. Because in the short time you two were together, or whatever, she was the happiest we've seen her since we've known her. You were good for her, and she needs good things right now. Girl, for the love of the Lord please don't blow this chance, you won't get another, you've been warned." He finished, followed by a reinforcing "Mhmm." from Hannah B.

Consider Sterling Wesley well and truly TOLD. She was absolutely speachless so she gave the pair a panicked and swift nod before getting up and flying back over to Blair for protection. Her mind was more at ease now she knew April was just at home, and not in a wreck somewhere, but she was in shock from the previous tense conversation and anxious for the one she would have with April. But she would have to wait until tomorrow.

Chapter Text

It was finally the next morning and Sterling was stood by her locker, biting her nails in anticipation. She had her eyes glued on the corner of the corridor, where the Holy Trinity would be coming round hopefully any second. Only 10 minutes had passed since she had started waiting, but they passed so slowly, almost like there was an eternity between each one.

Eventually, Sterling caught sight of the trio, but like the previous day, something was off. April was there this time, front and center like usual, but she didn't seem as headstrong or confident. April walked smaller, slower steps than she normally did, and was constantly looking to either side of her to make sure Hannah B and Ezekiel were indeed still present. This wasn't the April that Sterling was used to. This April barely even looked up from the floor, and she clutched her Devotionals folder like it was a life float and she would drown if she let go of it.

Despite the cautious galres she was recieving from Hannah B and Ezekiel, Sterling moved closer to the other girl. As she neared, she noticed that April was wearing more makeup than she typically would. It seemed as though she was wearing an extra and slightly darker layer of foundation, and heavy concealer to hide the dark circles under her eyes. Sterling thought she could see slight swelling on the smaller girls cheek, but her analysis was cut short when the girl uncharacteristically flinched at the gentle hand Sterling had placed on her shoulder, in order to get her attention.

"Oh shoot, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make you jump. I just wondered if we could talk. I really owe you an apology." Sterling gently spoke.

April glanced up at her with sad eyes. "Please Sterling, not now, I just want to get this day over and done with." She said in a melancholy tone, cleary deflated.

Sterling had never seen her look so dejected. But she could now definitely make out the slight ouline of a bruise on the other girls cheek, which she had done a decent job of covering up, but Sterling had recently got used to paying extra attention to the detail of April's facial features. She found the the smaller girls cheekbones and lips, which slanted into that special smirk, so beautiful and entrancing. The bruise was something most likely only Sterling would notice.

April looked so... fragile... broken even. Sterling had the sudden urge to wrap the girl in her arms and let her know she would always be safe there, but she couldn't, not anymore. And soon enough April had noticed her staring at her cheek, so she gave the blonde one last solemn look and then brushed past her just as the bell went.

Sterling stood there alone for a second and watched as April walked further into the bustling crowd of students, until she couldn't be seen anymore. She could feel tears start to form as she ran straight to Blair and pulled her along and into the bathroom.

"Sterl? What is it, what's the matter? I thought you were going to talk to April?" Blair questioned, while putting her hands on either side of Sterling's face and using her thumbs to wipe away the falling tears.

"He hurt her Blair. He actually fucking hurt her. She's wearing make-up to cover the bruise but I saw it." Sterling was pacing now, her tears coming from anger instead of sadness.

Blair just stared back at her, wide-eyed. "Holy shit! Wow, I guess me saying I wanted to see her squirm kinda aged badly, huh. Is she okay?"

"Oh gee let me think. Of course she's not okay Blair! Her jerk of dad hit her, like, in the face. She looked absolutely destroyed. We have to do something, but she won't talk to me." The younger twin replied, while sliding her back down the door until she was sat on the cold, tiled bathroom floor.

"Look, she's probably not gonna want to be at home for as long as she can, right? So that guarantees she'll at least be at school for the day. We can keep an eye on her here, and then when she leaves, we'll follow her home and see for ourselves what the heck is going on. Sound good?" Blair proposed, as she slumped down next to her sister to put an arm around her.

Sterling leaned into Blair's shoulder and sighed. "I guess it's the best we can do for now. It wouldn't be right to just leave it, it wouldn't be the Christian thing to do."

 

-

After the emotionally draining school day had finished, the Wesley twins were sat in the Volt, waiting for April to get in her car and drive home so they could tail her. They had parked in the far corner of the senior lot, where they could see April's car, but she hopefully wouldn't be able to spot them.

"Ughh, why does Miss goody-two-shoes have to stay for extra hours, is she not already up to Harvard standards?" Blair was getting restless, even though it had only been 20 minutes.

"Remember this was your idea, genius, but you're welcome to walk home and I will do this by myself. You don't even like April." Sterling was taking the wheel for this one, literally, she was the one sat in the drivers seat, much to Blair's dismay. But she was determined to see what was going on, so she would sit there waiting for however long it took.

"Ha, as if I'm going to let you anywhere near that guy by yourself. You might be great with a gun Sterl but you need someone to be there if anything goes wrong. And no, I don't particularly like April, but she still doesn't deserve to be on the recieving end of that assholes rage issues." Blair voiced, while trying to catch a sour patch kid in her mouth.

Sterling ruined Blairs aim as she repetitively nuged her shoulder and squealed, "Look look, there she is, there she issss!"

"Okay okay, I have eyes, I can see her too. Keep it in your pants and start the car already!" The brunette tried to reply, but it was hard when she was being violently shaken by her sister.

They waited until April had pulled out of the parking lot before they began to follow her. They didn't want to to be seen and blow the whole thing, so they made sure to keep at least two cars between her and them the whole way there. It was about a 15 minute drive from Willingham to the Stevens house, and a journey neither of the girls had travelled for years. It felt weird for Sterling to be back on April's street, as it brought back so many memories of when they had actually been the best of friends, before thier big feud. She put her nostalgia to the side as the girls watched April pull into her driveway and waited until the coast was clear to park on the opposite side of the road.

April was walking away from her car and up the steps to the front door, so Sterling and Blair took this as their chance to run to the side of the house, using her car as cover on the way. Once they reached the side of the house, Blair checked to see if she could see anything through the window just above where they were crouched. The whole open plan kitchen and family room could be seen through it so Blair noted, "It's probably best if we stay here. If anything happens, we will most likely be able to see it."

Sterling decided to take her own peek in the window. It felt like a slight invasion of privacy, but if this was what it took to ensure April's safety, then so be it.

The first sign of movement she saw was just Mrs Stevens moving around, doing various things in the kitchen, but then she saw April herself. The sight wasn't that much different to the one she saw this morning, just a little more tired looking, most likely from having to sit through the days lessons while also trying to act as 'fine' as possible. It was like watching a car crash, but Sterling couldn't look away.

Even when she was hurting, April was still beautiful.

A cars screeching brakes in the driveway instantly pulled Sterling out of her thoughts. It was him, It was John Stevens, and he didn't look at all happy. Blair grabbed Sterling and pulled her back down from the window so they were both crouched down again, using the small bush next to them for cover.

As soon as John had entered the house and slammed the door closed, both girls were up and peering through the window again. They could barely hear anything, but the first thing they saw as Mr Stevens came into their frame of view, was how red with rage his face was. He began to approach his wife, who hovered closer to April, but was then frozen in place as he began waving his index finger in the womans face and yelling something that neither of the twins could hear.

April was straight up and out of her previous seat as soon as she noticed what was happening, instantly putting distance between her parents and ensuring her mother was safely stood behind her. She could be seen taking a breath, as her father started to yell at her next, and then her face became hardended, the look in her eyes much like the one she has during debate tournaments before she ultimately destroys her opponent.

Sterling watched from the window as April fought back. For a moment she was proud, and happy that April had finally stood up for herself to that horrid man. But that proud moment was soon ruined by the image of the smaller girl being struck in the face, sending her almost flying to the other end of the room. She flinched at the scene unfolding before her and tried to get up to run to the smaller girl, but she was held back by Blair and pulled into a tight embrace.

"Let go of me! He can't get away with this Blair, he can't!" Sterling sobbed into her sisters shoulder.

Blair only held her tighter, with a few tears in her own eyes. "Sterling you can't go in there, you'll only make it worse for her."

She had to use Blair's shoulder to continue to muffle her crying. After seeing what John Stevens just did to his own daughter, the pair most definitely could not afford to be caught now. He would not hold back his rage if he saw them. They had to get out of there and fast.

The next thing they heard was the front door slamming closed again. Sterling was still clinging to her but Blair put a hand over both of their mouths and shut her eyes tight, praying he hadn't heard or seen them. When she dared to open her eyes again, she could see Mr Stevens running to his car and pulling out of the driveway with speed. Both girls let out a sigh of relief after hearing him leave.

Sterling was still on her knees frozen in place, with her hands clasped over her mouth, trying desperately not to cry out loud. So, on her sisters behalf, Blair took a last look in the window to make sure April was conscious and somewhat okay.

Her own heart broke a little for the girl on the other side of the window, as she saw her picking herself up off the floor and then enveloping her mother into an empathetic hug. She watched as Mrs Stevens buried her face into the crook of her daughters neck and begin to cry and mouth apologies to her. Blair admired the girl for being able to put her own emotions aside at this moment to comfort her mother, but also noted how much it sucked that she should have to.

When she finally looked away, she noticed that Sterling had tears streaming down her face and was shaking slightly. She picked her up off the ground and made the way back to their car, buckilng Sterling into the passengers seat and taking the keys from her pocket. Sterling was too upset and in shock to protest, so she just pulled her knees up to her chest and stared out of the widow.

"Sterl I'm so sorry you had to see that. I promise he will not get away with it. But we have to be smart about this. We need to talk to Bowser and figure out a plan." Blair said while turning to her sister and putting a hand on her knee. Sterling just nodded slightly in reply, still staring out the window, her eyes brimmed with tears ready to fall.

Chapter Text

In the past two weeks or so, Sterling had learned a lot of things she wishes had stayed hidden. She had learned that her whole life was pretty much just a fabricated tale. She had learned that she in fact was not a younger twin, not biologically anyway. She had learned that her parents were actually her Aunt and Uncle. She had learned that alcohol would not make her problems go away. And she had learned that the girl she deeply cared for had become a victim to her fathers violence.

But despite these unwanted lessons being launched at her, she had also learned that Blair was with her through all of it, and she would continue to be there as it played out. Sterling was thankful for her sister as they lay side-by-side in Blair's bed with their arms linked.

It took a while before Sterling could bring herself to leave their car after returning from the Stevens' house. She didn't know whether she wanted to break down into tears, or steal the car keys back from Blair and go after April's dad herself. Her mind was in some sort of Purgatory, stuck in some strange place between fight or flight, so she found herself not being able to move at all. From what she could recall, Blair pretty much had to carry her out of the car and upstairs to her room.

"I guess we should probably tell Bowser what we saw tonight." It was the first words Sterling had spoken since they got back, and she had to momentarily let her sister go so Blair could reach for her phone.

She watched over Blair's shoulder as she dialled Bowsers number, relieved to hear him pick up on the second ring.

"Hey Bowse, it's us..."

"I know it's you, I can read you know. What's up? Why are you calling me?" Bowser replied from the opposite end of the line.

"I-uh... Don't suppose there's been any new info put out for John Stevens lately has there? Maybe something else... violence related?" Blair didn't want to seem too obvious, which failed spectacularly, of course.

"Now, see, how would you two know that, huh? And why has John Stevens suddenly peaked y'alls interests?"

"I'll take that as a yes then. We kinda sorta tailed his daughter home from school earlier today, and then saw him beat the shit out of her." She shot an apologetic look to Sterling for reminding her of the image.

"You went to a prostitute beaters house?! What the fu- You two will be the death of me I swear to fucking God." He rolled his eyes so hard, Blair could've sworn that she heard them through the phone. "And did you say earlier tonight? It says here that the warrant for his arrest was granted two days ago, but no-one has managed to get him yet because he's gone into hiding."

"So, what, he just got bored and decided to go back for more tonight? That bastard!" To both Blair and Bowser's surprise, it was Sterling who spoke this time. It was so rare for foul language to come from the younger twins mouth, it actually made Blair question whether she had said it herself, but no, it was definitely Sterling’s voice.

"Uh-Yeah I guess he did. Look, why do you two even care? We got the money for his bounty, whether he got off or not is not our concern. I've told y'all this before. We're bounty hunters, all we gotta do is rope the skip and bring 'em in."

Sterling took the phone from Blair so she could speak to Bowser herself. "His daughter, her name is April." She paused and took a breath before continuing, knowing this admission would make it all real. "Me and her kind of had a thing? I don't know. We were together I guess? My point is, I really care about her, and if anything happened to her it would be my fault. I-I think I might love her Bowser."

He sighs loudly into the phone, "Yolanda was right, you two are making me fuckin soft. Fine, talk to her tomorrow at school, see what you can get out of her. I'll see what I can do this end, okay? And you two owe me BIG time for this."

"Thank y-" Blair was cut off by the sound of Bowser hanging up. "...Well that was kinda rude."

 

-

 

The next day at school consisted of a lengthy waiting game. First they had to wait to see if April would even show up. Then they, or rather Sterling, had to wait for the perfect moment to get her alone. Even then, she would still have to try to get April to let her guard down and explain what was going on with her dad.

Step one was in motion as April entered Sterling’s line of sight. She was again wearing more makeup than her norm, and still looked as fragile as she had the day before, but Sterling studied her from a distance, with admiration in her eyes. She remembered how the first instinct April had last night was protect her mother, she didn't even have to think about it before she became the safety barricade between her parents. Her chain of thought was broken when her ocean blue eyes met the smaller girls emerald green ones, seeing the pain that was very much still laced within.

Step two didn't come until later on in the day, just after Spanish class. Luckily, neither Hannah B or Ezekiel were in the same class as April for this subject, which made it a lot easier to get her alone. It was also the last day before the break, and it was the final class of the day, so it provided Sterling with the perfect chance to convince the girl to talk to her, without having to worry about when their next classes will start.

As soon as Senora O'Reilly had dismissed the class, Sterling was straight out of her seat and out the door into the hallway. She had to time it perfectly and be in exactly the right place for this to work. So she took her position and stood against the wall just a few feet away from the door to the janitors closet. She could only pray that April would walk out this way to her car.

Sterling had to contain her excitement as she saw the smaller girl walking in the exact direction she needed her to. It was to Sterling's chagrin that April's head was down, so her hair would help to cover the bruised side of her face, but it also worked to her advantage as she wouldn't anticipate what was about to happen.

Once April was in reaching distance, and the hallway was cleared of any prying eyes, Sterling grasped the girls’ arm and practically swung her into the janitor’s closet in one swift motion. It was actually pretty smooth as far as Wesley standards go. April's green eyes became somewhat darker as she looked at who had just, rather ironically, dragged her into a closet. Sterling could see the mental walls that the girl in front of her was actively building. Step three was attempting to break these walls down, delicately of course.

"Sterling, I told you yesterday, I don't want to talk." April gritted her teeth and glared at the tall blonde, but she struggled to hold eye contact as Sterling's widened blue eyes bore into her.

"Okay, fine, you don't have to talk. But can you please just listen for a second, please?" Sterling took a small step closer to the girl in front of her, just testing the waters, she was relieved when April didn't retreat. Instead she just looked down to the floor and nodded her head for Sterling to continue.

She let out a sigh of relief. "Thank you. I guess I better start with an apology huh?" Aprils face softened slightly as she shrugged in response.

"When you came to see me last Sunday, I wasn't myself. This isn't an excuse because there's no way to excuse how I acted towards you and what I probably said, you were worried about me and you cared enough to come and see if I was okay, I really appreciate that. I was just hurting, I'm sorry for taking out on you." This was replied to with nothing but a simple nod of April's head, but at least she was listening, and hopefully understanding.

Sterling sighed gently and continued. "Now with that said, I care about you too, more than you will ever know. And that's why I know how you got those bruises on your face." April immediately looked up and flinched slightly at the mention of her bruises, a hand going to stroke her own cheek, but just as quickly stopping when she realised what she was doing.

"H-how did you- What are you talking about?" She tried to make out like she had no idea what Sterling was talking about, but her words failed her as she stuttered.

"Other people might not have noticed, but I've spent the past few weeks taking my time to memorise all of your features, not in a creepy way or anything. I-uh I've just kind of been transfixed on you, like you've been hypnotising me or something. But yeah, the point is, I noticed." Sterling looked back at April with a sheepish expression, hoping the confession wouldn't just scare her off.

What she most definitely wasn't expecting April to do, was wrap her arms around her and start sobbing into her shoulder, but that is exactly what she did. For a moment Sterling had forgotten how to move, but when the initial shock subsided, she pulled the shorter girl in closer and rubbed her hand in comforting circles on her back.

"I'm so sorry Sterl. I'm so, so sorry for everything. You honestly don't understand how much I regret pushing you away, and flirting with Luke. I just got scared, so I did what I knew how to do best. Hurt you."

Sterling could feel her own tears start to prick at her eyes, "Hey, hey, it's fine. I mean it's not, clearly, but that can be unpacked in a later conversation, okay? For now I just want you to know that you're safe and he's never going to hurt you again."

"Wait," April sniffs. "How did you know it was him, like for definite?" April only just managed to choke out.

"Well, apart from the obvious?" Sterling mused. "Okay, sorry. Full disclosure, me and Blair kinda sorta followed you home last night and saw what happened. We only did it because I was worried about you and angry that he would actually hurt you. But I needed it to be confirmed before I could do anything about it. I'm so sorry April. Not for following you home, but for what he did." Sterling's own pending tears finally fell when she said this.

“I’m sorry you had to see that. Last night was kind of my fault though, I provoked him by getting in his face. He only came back because he found out I ratted him out for hitting my mother the other night. I’d had enough of him thinking he can just come home, act like he’s innocent because he got off the first time, but then still proceed to treat us both like we’re nothing.” April said this with more confidence than Sterling had heard her use the whole week, while also wiping away her remaining tears.

“Wait, you ratted him out to the cops? Wow, uh, I wasn’t expecting that. What made him so angry the first time though?” The blonde questioned, her eyes widening slightly.

“Honestly, neither was I. And he was angry, well furious should I say, because of me. I... I came out to my parents on Sunday, after also coming out to Hannah B and Ezekiel, who actually took it brilliantly and apparently knew this whole time anyway. But it’s safe to say my father didn’t take it quite as well, which was expected from the start. Obviously, he wasn’t going to be pleased that his perfect little Christian daughter with straight A’s and a purity ring, is actually a ‘filthy dyke’, as he put it so tenderly.”

Her eyes darted to Sterling’s with a pained look as she finished her sentence. But Sterling was already holding the girls hands in her own and squeezing them for support.

“What about your mother, how did she react?” Sterling asked.

“She actually took it quite well. She was shocked at first, of course. But she just said that God made me this way for a reason, and he loves all of his children. That just fuelled my father’s anger though. I get that he was angry at me, that was a given, but he took it too far when he...” April paused, choking up slightly, then taking a deep breath so she could finish.

“When he started beating her. I couldn’t let him hurt her so I interjected and let him hurt me instead. Then he just took off and slammed the door behind him. So I took that golden opportunity and called the cops.”

Sterling couldn’t possibly put everything she was feeling for the girl into a verbal response, so instead, she just pulled April into her warm embrace and held her there for a moment. She wanted to tell her how proud she was, but also how angry and protective she felt. But most of all she just wanted April to know she was there for her, and always would be.

April just let herself be content in the taller girls’ arms for a minute. It felt as though she really couldn’t catch a break lately, so she needed this moment, she needed a chance to breathe. She wasn’t used to being this vulnerable around someone, with her walls down and her emotions on show. But with Sterling, she wasn’t afraid to just be her. And that is exactly why she had run the first time around, the second things started to get difficult, rather than just facing it alongside the girl she was most definitely catching feelings for.

“I don’t ever want to hear you say you’re not brave again.” It was short and sweet, but it summed up perfectly what Sterling was thinking.

 

-

 

April had ridden into school with Hannah B that morning, but she was long gone by now, so it was Sterling who had the pleasure of taking her home. She didn’t mind of course, because it meant they got to spend a little extra time with one another.


During the 15-minute drive from Willingham to April’s house, Sterling had managed to tell April everything that occurred the night of the lock-in, after she had been picked up by her ‘mother’. From the kidnapping, to the rescue, to the eventual reveal that her whole life was a lie.

It took April a minute to wrap her head around all of the twists and turns of the story, but when the car came to a stop in her driveway, and she finally understood all of the plot-twists, she pulled Sterling in for a hug not too dissimilar from the one she had received herself, in the janitor’s closet. An embrace that simply said ‘I’m here for you and I’m so sorry that happened to you’ without having to actually vocalise the words.

They just sat in the car for a little while longer, neither one of them making any noise or breaking eye-contact. It was a comfortable silence and a pause that they both needed after sharing their respective weekend traumas.

“You know, my father said something just before he left last night.” This peaked Sterling’s interest, eager to just be there to listen to anything April had to say. “He said, ‘You should know that it’s those Satan-spawned Wesley twins’ fault that this family was torn apart.’ What is that supposed to mean?”

All Sterling could do in that moment was swallow the lump in her throat, and look away from the girl sat next to her. It was as though they couldn’t even have a single second where things were somewhat okay, without John Stevens ruining it somehow.

“April, I can’t guarantee that you will see me in the same light after I tell you this. So, in advance, for whatever it’s worth, I never did this to intentionally hurt you. I was just doing my job. Me and Blair, were just doing our job.”

“Out with it, Wesley.” April said somewhere between a growl and a plead.

“Blair and I are bounty hunters, well not legally. We intern for Bowser, who is also the owner of Yogurtopia, it’s his side hustle. Whatever. Long story short, an idiot bounty that Bowser was chasing crashed our fathers hunting truck, so we helped him catch said bounty, then managed to convince him to give us half of the money, as we then needed to fix the truck before our dad found out. But the money wasn’t enough to fix the truck, so we ended up helping Bowser catch another bounty, or skip as we call them, and turns out that skip was in fact your father. I’m so, so sorry.”

Sterling watched April’s face as it went through a range of emotions. They all varied, and every single one was different, and fairly theatrical, but none of them were even close to anger, which Sterling found unusual. April’s face eventually settled on its final emotion: confusion.

There could’ve been a mirror in front of her for all Sterling knew, because she had the exact same look on her face, just pure confusion.

April just stared at the younger twin, completely awestruck. “Um, if I’m completely honest, I don’t even know what to say. I’m teetering on the fence as to whether to slap you, or kiss you.”

“Wait, let me get this right, you’re not mad?” Sterling was still a few beats behind. ‘But the latter could be arranged’ Sterling thought to herself.

“Well, like I’ve said before, what John did is his problem. And like you said, you were just doing your job. The job though, that is what I’m confused about. You and Blair, bounty hunters? You and Blair?”

“What’s so confusing about that?”

“You, as in the girl who can’t even receive a pile of paper without causing a ‘skurfuffle’. And Blair, the kid who literally used to eat yellow snow in middle school. Bounty Hunters? Please tell me what is not confusing about that scenario.” April had a genuine smile on her face after saying this, and Sterling didn’t know whether to be happy for her, or mildly offended for herself and her sister.

“Okay, awesome. Very funny. Hahaha. Mock us aalllll you like. But while we’re on the topic of Bounty Hunting, your father is currently a wanted criminal, and while he didn’t skip bail this time, he still technically has a bounty on his head. And I may or may not have a personal vendetta now. So, any idea where he might’ve gone this time?”

Sterling was relieved that she didn’t have to brace herself for a punch or a door slam, but she still had to think about her job, and do what she told Bowser she would do, by getting as much information on John Stevens as she could.

“He was at the lakehouse last time, right? I’d probably say check there again, I doubt he would go anywhere else. Any family we have outside of Atlanta already hated him before he got arrested the first time, so that’s the only place he could really hide. But please be careful, you’ve already seen what he did to me. I refuse to have matching bruises with you as well as my mother.” The green-eyed girl had a slight pout on her lips as she said the last part, and it tugged at the part of Sterling’s heart that had been labelled April Stevens, without her full consent.

Sterling smiled brightly at the girl in her passenger seat, then proceeded to get out of the car and walk around to the passenger side to open the door.

“M’lady.” Sterling jests as she holds out a hand for April to take.

John Stevens was no longer in the Stevens house, and April was officially out to her mother. So, Sterling took advantage of this by being her goofy, flirtatious self, out in the open.

Even if the future of their relationship was currently somewhat misty, the gesture made April laugh. Sterling praised herself for that at least, as she walked April up to her front door with their arms linked.

“I’ll keep you in the loop about your dad. Try to relax and get some sleep, you’ve earned it.” Sterling says with a smile as she begins to walk back down the steps to her car.

“Wait, Sterl. One more thing.” April, gently grabs Sterling’s hand to stop her from leaving just yet.

“After everything you’ve been through the past few weeks, why do you still care what happens to me? I broke your heart.” The smaller girl looks down refusing to meet Sterling’s eyes as she says it.

“Just because you cover it with foundation, I can still see the pain in your eyes, and the change in your demeanours, I can’t help it. I pushed you away when you tried to help me when I was drunk, but Blair’s tough love made me come to my senses. When I saw you at school, I could see that you were hurting and I wanted to make it up to you by being there for you.” This made April look back up, a smile on her face the same as the one Sterling had on hers.

She pulled Sterling in for one last embrace before she left for the night, and whispered, “Thank you.”

Chapter Text

It was around 5:00pm when Sterling pulled up to the Galaxy Diner to meet Blair and Bowser, so they could discuss the ins and outs of hunting down John Stevens, and devise the perfect plan. Stevens had not skipped bail this time, so his capture was technically not under their jurisdiction, and they would receive no profit once he was handed over to the authorities. But Sterling refused to let him get away with his wrongdoings so easily.

Romans 12:17 “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honourable in the sight of all.” Or as Blair had put it, “Sometimes God lets people deliver karma in person, so let’s go and get this asshole, and deliver him his karma.” Blair was hyped up and just ready to get back into bounty hunting, which Bowser hadn’t directly agreed to, but he had agreed to help the girls gain the necessary intel on April’s dad, and insisted that he helped with the detainment, so that was a start at least.

Their plan seemed simple enough. Go to the lakehouse, find John at said lakehouse, apprehend him, and then last but certainly not least, hand his pathetic excuse for a Christian ass in and watch him squirm while being led to a holding cell. The satisfaction of it all would be more than enough payment for them.

“Remember, when you get him, come back to the yogurt shop first so we can transfer him to my car and take him in. If two teens walk into the cop-shop with a grown ass man in their custody, it’s gonna raise a hell of a lot of questions that I really don’t want to stick around and answer. Y’all got that?” Bowser reminded them.

“Don’t worry Bowse, we already promised you’d spend as little time around the cops as possible. We don’t like or trust them either.”

“Yeah, and you’re helping us with this even though there like isn’t really anything in it for you, so I guess we owe you two things now.”

Both girls were quick to reassure Bowser and let him know they’ve got his back as much as he has theirs.

 

-

 

Blair, against better judgement, insisted they take their dad’s hunting truck on the ‘heist’ rather than their little hybrid. Not that the idea ended so well the last time they borrowed the truck without asking, but Sterling had to agree that the truck was more intimidating, and it was easier to drive along the trails leading to the Stevens’ lakehouse. So, there they were, sat in the hunting truck a little way down the trail from where they hoped John Stevens would be.

The girls proceed to get their guns from the trunk, Sterling with her new rose gold-plated Glock 19, which she purchased especially for this specific occasion, and Bair with her classic Mossberg 500. Blair also equipped the bulletproof vest she borrowed from Yolanda, claiming that although she may not need it, it added to the badass ambience. Sterling just rolled her eyes and sighed at her sister’s antics.

Blair might’ve had the biggest gun, but it was Sterling that had the super-shot, so she took the lead as they advanced the perimeter of the property, directly to the docks. They were barely surprised to see the exact malefactor they were looking for; in exactly the same place he was in last time.

“This guy has as many hiding places as he does brain-cells. Guess you really can’t teach old dogs’ new tricks huh.” Blair jested, leaning her chin onto Sterling’s shoulder from behind.

“Shush! We blew our cover last time by bumping into each other, we need the element of surprise on our side this time, so back up!” Sterl scolded the older twin in a harsh whisper. Blair just replied with one hand up in a surrender motion and the other miming zipping her mouth shut.

They manage to sneak up right behind him without him noticing this time, Sterling placing the muzzle of her gun against his temple, with the safety on, of course, and guides him to stand up slowly. He stood just a little taller than Sterling and then turns around to see who is holding the other end of the firearm.

“The Wesley’s. Ha, I should’ve known.” He spits out their name in disgust and gives them a sinister smile.

“Mr Stevens, long time no see.” Sterling addresses him, sarcastically. Before, once again, pistol whipping him between the eyes. “That was for April and her Mom!” She yelled in his face.

Blair, sensing he is about to pull some stupid stunt on them, immediately checks him with the barrel of her shotgun and knocks him straight onto his back. That was then followed by her Dr Martens boot swiftly kicking him in the stomach, winding him and causing him to choke on a breath. “And that was just for my personal entertainment, plus like karma and all that jazz.”

“Why you little cu-“ Mr Stevens didn’t get to finish his sentence before Blair thrust the end of her Mossberg into his face, knocking him out cold.

“Wow. Same hiding place, same insult. Are we like 100% sure April shares this guy’s DNA?” Blair just laughs while poking and prodding him like roadkill.

“Blair quit being juvenile and help me get him to the truck already, he’s freaking heavy and we need to get him to Bowser ASAP.” Sterling was so over Blair’s jokes and games at this point, she just wanted to get him loaded up so they could get out of there.

By the time they arrived at Yogurtopia, Mr Stevens was starting to gain consciousness again. But this time he was greeted by Bowsers unimpressed looking face, while he was being dragged from one truck to another. Both girls were in hysterics as they watched him struggle to talk with the gag in his mouth, and waved comically at him as he was shut in the back of Bowsers truck.

“you did good girls; I’ll deal with it from here. Help yourself to some, and I mean some, not all, yogurt. And don’t forget to lock up when you leave.” He smiled and threw the keys to Sterling who caught them skilfully with one hand and returned the smile.

 

-

 

After both completely pigging out on yogurt and stopping at Chick-Fil-A, Blair drives Sterling over to April’s house and Sterling finds herself growing incredibly anxious. They had taken care of John Stevens, hopefully for good this time, but what did that actually mean for Sterling and April’s relationship? April was out to her friends, as well as her mother, and they were all accepting of it, but what about everyone else at school? Would April even want to come out at school?

Sterling clasped the paper bag full of food a little tighter as she realised that the truck had now come to a stop in the Stevens’ driveway. She inhaled a sharp breath and packed away her anxiety for later. For now, she just wanted to see the beautiful green-eyed girl, who had burrowed her way into Sterling’s heart, and relish the fact that her father was no longer there to control her.

As she pushed open her door and stepped down from the truck she heard Blair yell “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do you crazy bisexual sex fiend!”

She just shook her head and laughed her sister off as she watched her drive away. Then slowly, she approached the steps to the front door. When she raised her hand to knock on the glass panes of the door, she realised they were shaking slightly, but she proceeded anyway.

After a few moments, April’s mother came to greet Sterling at the door. The first thing Sterling noticed about Mrs Stevens, was that she had a matching black eye and bruising face to her daughter. It was a sad reminder of what she had seen unfold through the window the night before, but the positive side of it was that neither Stevens’ women would be receiving any more injuries inflicted by the hands of John Stevens any time soon.

“Sterling honey, how lovely to see you. I assume you’re here to see April? She’s just in her bedroom, go on up.” Mrs Stevens greeted, her warming smile a big contrast to the angry bruising on her face.

“Thank you. It’s nice to see you again Mrs Stevens.” Sterling says before heading up to find April.

Once outside the girl’s bedroom door, the tall blonde takes a calming breath before knocking. It took April no more than 5 seconds to open her door, with a hopeful glint in her eyes, as she takes in Sterling’s appearance before her. Sterling holds up the bag of food before stuttering her way through “Hey, I uh, I brought us some food. A celebratory takeout picnic thing.”

April doesn’t verbally respond, she just pulls Sterling in for a searing, passionate kiss. Not that she didn’t enjoy it or anything, but Sterling pulls back in slight panic. “April, your mom is like right downstairs, what if she sees us? But also, like what? All I needed to do to get you to kiss me was bring you food?”

“I already told you, she knows, she’s fine with it. Plus, she probably already has her head buried back in the wedding album by now. And the kiss wasn’t for the food. I have been wanting to do that for weeks and now I finally can, if that’s okay with you?”

Sterling’s reciprocation doesn’t come audibly, it instead comes in the form of backing April into her room, closing the door and dropping the bag of food onto the floor not too far away. The food can wait a little longer.

This was clearly the kind of reaction April was looking for, as she moves closer to the taller girl, backing her up against the door, right where she wants her. Their lips find each other again easily, being pulled together like strong magnets. The kiss was so much different to any they had shared before, there was a desperation to it, but also so much more. It was a kiss that said so many things, one that said thank you, one that said I missed you, but most of all it was one that simply said I’m sorry.

Sterling is the first to pull away from the kiss, but she rests her forehead against Aprils, the tips of their noses touching too. “As much as I would love to continue this, our food is going cold.” She says softly.

When April excuses herself to get changed into something more comfortable, Sterling takes it upon herself to locate every single one of Aprils candles. She places them in various locations around the room and on the floor. When they are all lit and the ceiling light is off, they create the most warm and romantic atmosphere, and Sterling is pretty proud of herself.

After a short while, April emerges from her bathroom in sweatpants and a loose T-shirt, face free of makeup. Her bruises can be seen much clearer now, even in the dark, and they were worse than Sterling had originally thought. She quickly stands up from her previous place on the carpet to take April’s face in her hands. She turns her head from side to side gently to inspect the angry yellow and purple marks. They weren’t as swollen as they were before but they were still painful looking, so Sterling covers them in feather-light kisses, and then situates herself behind the smaller girl. She wraps her arms around the girl’s torso and rests her chin on her shoulder.

April was in absolute awe of the new aura that had been created in her room. Never had she thought at atmosphere so peaceful and full of serenity could be created under this roof. Her bedroom had always been her sanctuary here, the one place that was hers, but this took it to a whole new meaning.

Sterling leads April over to where she had laid out the food and some cushions to sit on and they finally sit down to enjoy their meal. They make small talk while they eat. Minor conversations about school and various extra curricular activities they both participate in. Until they inevitably come onto the topic of Aprils father.

“I’m guessing John was indeed at the lakehouse then?” April questions.

“He was, yeah. I think I went on a bit of a vengeance frenzy, after I saw what he did to you. Bought myself a new gun and everything.” Sterling chuckles dryly.

“Did he say anything? You know, about me or my mother... or just anything.”

“Not really, the only things he said were aimed at me and Blair. He expected us to come or something like that. Oh, and he tried to call us little c-words, again, but Blair cut him off.” Sterling continued to explain the capture process, also mentioning that she had pistol whipped him on behalf of April and her mother and that Blair had kicked him in the stomach and then knocked him out.

When Sterling finishes explaining how everything had gone down, both girls broke out into a fit of laughter. Until eventually, Sterling notices that April’s laughter tears have instead become tears of sadness. She wraps the smaller girl in a warm embrace and allows her to cry into her shoulder, while guiding them both to Aprils bed to sit down.

Once they are sat on the bed, leaning up against the headboard, April leans her head onto Sterling’s chest and begins to vent about how team Stevens was never perfect after all. The team leader was a woman beater the whole time, the daughter a closeted lesbian, and the mother too scared to stand up for herself or anyone else.

“I never told you about how me and Blair once caught a naked skip did I?” Sterling used this to attempt to cheer April up a bit.

April sniffs. “You caught a what now?”

“Yeah, me Blair and Bowser ended up in a stakeout at some crummy motel, waiting for what we thought was a drug deal to go down. But when we busted in the room, it was actually three people going down... on each other. And one of them threw a bible at my head.” Sterling laughed, while subconsciously rubbing the spot on her head, where the bible had whacked her.

“Hold up, three people? So, they were in like a polyamorous relationship or something?” April was invested in the story now.

“I guess they were. The dude’s wife actually gave me some advice about how to see if you were into girls or not you know. She told me to ‘Throw out the bait’ which is why I was being so weird about the Naomi and Ruth thing, during our Solomon’s Temple project.” Sterling explained.

“Huh. Yeah, I did wonder why you got so triggered about The Apostle Paul.” April recalled, remembering the odd conversation.

“Well yeah, anyway... He tried to run away so I shout out some lights and he got glass stuck in his feet, and various other places.” She tried to big up her gun skills, but instead re-planted a vision of the naked skip, rolling around in glass, in her mind that she was doing so well to forget.

“I think the takeaway of that story is that you with a gun would be a very nice image.” April winked playfully, and her statement earns two identically blushed cheeks from Sterling.

“You know, while we’re spilling interesting stories, it was actually your ‘actually, I don’t know’ response to my ‘maybe someday though?’ from the night of the lock-in, and then my worry from your unexplained absence, that made me want to come out to my friends and my parents. And then when I came to your house and saw you had been drinking, that’s what finalised my decision.” The green-eyed girl admitted, sounding somewhat solemn again.

“You went through so much heartbreak that night, some of it even inflicted by me, and you shouldn’t have to face it alone.” She continued. Sterling just pulled her into a crushing hug.

“Well, I’m proud of you regardless, and I’m sorry for trying to push you into coming out. It was just a new experience and I let my excitement change the pace of my mind a little too much.” Sterling apologised.

At that moment, April’s mother walks in to check on the girls. Her face immediately softens when she sees her daughter wrapped in a comforting embrace. Neither of the girls make an effort to distance themselves from one another, as they both needed the emotional support in the moment.

“Sterling, honey you are more than welcome to stay the night if you would like. There’s spare toothbrushes and towels in the guest bathroom.”

After receiving a hopeful glance from April, Sterling agrees to stay. How could she resist those eyes anyway? She sends a message to the family group chat to let them know where she is and where she will be staying, taking advantage of the current leniency that her parents have been displaying lately. Mrs Wesley shoots the girls a warm-hearted look and says goodnight, leaving them too it. She closes the door on her way out, but not all the way.

April gets up to start clearing away the candles and the takeaway bags, when she gestures over to her set of drawers and tells Sterling she can pick out something to sleep in. The taller girl opts for some sleep shorts and a tank top and heads to April’s en-suite to get changed and freshen up.

Once she is changed and has her teeth brushed, Sterling just stands and stares at herself in the mirror. She was calmer now than she was when she arrived, but she was still nervous and shaking slightly. Locking eyes with her reflection, she gives herself a quick pep talk and trues to slow her breathing.

Sterling emerges from the bathroom to see April petting Sergeant Bilko on her bed and as she approaches them, she makes sure to take a mental picture of this wholesome moment. Bilko gives her a soft ‘Meow’ and rolls onto his back, inviting the other girl to join them and pet him.

“Awh, he normally hates anyone but me touching him, he must like you.” April notes with awe in her voice.

“I guess you’ve got yourself a good wingman here then.” Sterling laughs at his purring, as she scratches him behind the ears.

April stops petting him so she can reach for Sterling’s hand and pull her further into the bed, to which she obliges and moves into April’s arms. Despite being the tallest of the pair, Sterling becomes the little spoon, but for the first time in the past few weeks, she feels safe.

After just a beat of silence and comfort, Sterling asks “Where do we go from here, A?”

She was taken off guard by the question and a silence fills the room once again, while she thinks of a suitable answer.

“The only reactions I feared were my parent’s, now we know what they think, especially my father. But my truth is out now, and I’m free. I never cared what the heathens at Willingham thought. So, I guess my answer to your question is simply, up. We can only go up from here.” April answered, with a content sigh.

Sergeant Bilko suddenly pounces on Sterling, as if to warn her ‘I approve of you for my hooman but if you hurt her, I’ll claw your eyes out.’ But he then cuddles into her chest, and rubs his head against her chin. April laughs at the protectiveness of her cat as she scratches his head, but her mind wonders to other things. The realisation that Sterling Wesley is in fact next to her, in her bed, hits her like a truck.

A wave of boldness invades April’s brain, as she cuddles Sterling closer and places a kiss to the side of her neck from behind. Sergeant Bilko reads the room easily, and hops off the bed to walk to his own.

“Wow, it really seems like he can read your mind huh?” Sterling muses.

April just hums into Sterling’s neck in agreement, still kissing and trying to find all of her sweet spots. Sterling turns to meet April’s lips with her own, as the smaller girl runs her fingers up and down the length of Sterling’s body, mentally thanking her for choosing shorts.

As the kiss gets more heated, it’s April that pulls away. “Maybe we should slow down a little bit.”

“Hey, you started it. But yeah, maybe that would be wise.” Sterling says, catching her breath.

“I know, sorry. I just had to make sure this was real and not just some too good to be true kind of reality.” The green-eyed girl sighs.

Sterling just smiles and pinches her, to let her know it was definitely real. She then takes her previous place as little spoon and pulls April’s arm around her, kissing her fingers and snuggling back into her. April just laughs and pulls the girl closer, whispering a “Goodnight Sterl.” And kissing the back of her head.

“Goodnight April.” Sterling replies while drifting off to sleep.

Both girls sigh quietly, content with how their night had gone. It was something neither of them ever expected to experience, especially with each other. For some reason, even though they had to deal with so many hardships just to get to this moment, they both had an inkling, deep down, that it would one day be possible. They fell asleep with the knowledge that this was just the beginning for them.

Chapter Text

April was awake first, of course. And as much as she wanted to stay in bed and watch the beautiful girl next to her sleep soundly, she was beginning to get restless. She pulled her arms out from around Sterling slowly, trying not to wake her, and then kissed her on the head gently before heading downstairs.

She noticed her mother was already up, and sitting at the kitchen island staring into an empty coffee mug.

“Morning Mom, are you okay?” April questioned, slightly worried.

Mrs Stevens looked up to her daughter, slightly dazed. “Oh, hi honey, I didn’t hear you coming down the stairs. I was uh, just thinking about your father actually.”

Just as good as Satan (James 2:19)” The shorter girl mumbles under her breath sarcastically.

“What was that honey?”

“Oh, uh... nothing Mom, I just said I was putting on a pot of coffee, if you wanted some more.” She covered for herself quickly.

Her mother just nods in response, still looking a bit zoned-out. April took the time to look over her mother’s face, an older and more tired looking version of her own. Her bruises were accentuated by the Georgian sun seeping in through the window, they were healing and turning into lighter shades of yellow and blue, but looking at them reminded her of how scared the woman was the other night, how she just froze.

April shook the memories out of her head, he was gone, and she would not be letting her mother pay for any of his stupid legal fees this time. He was on his own, and no longer their problem, thanks to Sterling and Blair. They were safe now. She took the empty mug away and escorted her mother to the sofa and helped her sit down.

“You know, I’ve been thinking...” Her mother started. This couldn’t be good, surely. “Maybe you could help me look into divorce attorney’s? You have always been a lot better at research and character judgement than I have.”

“Um, yeah Mom, of course. Are you sure?” She was shocked to say the least, but not at all disappointed. It was about time that her mother did something for herself, rather than trying to please everyone else in the community. They were both on the same page about this being the last straw for John.

Mrs Stevens knew this was her chance to finally become a bit closer to her daughter, instead of being a parrot to opinions she herself didn’t believe in. Before John was arrested, her and April didn’t share the kind of bond that April did with her father. In all honesty, she kept herself as distanced as she could from the man, as over the years they were together, she had grown to despise him. And she had feared that their daughter would turn out just like him, but she couldn’t do anything about it without facing his repercussions.

“I want him to know that he no longer has a place in our lives after everything he has done. I know what the Bible says abut divorce, but I also know what it says about love. I definitely wouldn’t describe what I feel for that man as love.” Mrs Stevens says with a glint of tears in her eyes.

April just hugs her mother lovingly, and they both realise that they have never really shared an embrace like this, ever. They stay like that for a moment longer, before the coffee pot made a noise to signify it had finished brewing. As they pull away, they share a carefree smile and April glides back into the kitchen to resume her coffee and breakfast making.

Sterling wakes up to a purring Sergeant Bilko in her face, rather than who she was expecting. But it was nice being able to sleep next to an animal without it vigorously licking your face to wake you up, like Chloe did most mornings. Maybe Blair would finally be Chloe’s target this morning, since Sterling wasn’t there.

The smell of coffee and bacon was what brought her fully to consciousness, as she picked up Bilko and wandered her way downstairs. She walked into the kitchen cradling and cooing at the cat, and paused in the doorway to watch April humming and swaying to music playing from the radio. She daren’t disturb the girl as it was nice to see her so calm and, dare she say, happy. So, she just stood and watched for a few minutes before being noticed by Mrs Stevens.

The smaller girls’ attention was brought to Sterling by her mother almost choking on her coffee. She turned around to make sure her mother was okay, and then followed her eyes to see what she was looking at. The image she found warmed her heart.

“Wow, that’s new. He normally hates anyone apart from April touching him. Even I can’t get near him unless I’m holding food.” Mrs Stevens notes, caught completely off guard by Bilko’s newfound loving nature.

“Oh, I was going to leave him in peace on the bed, but he started meowing every time I put him down, so I just brought him with me.” Sterling said, while scratching behind his ears.

Mrs Stevens laughs and shoots April a knowing wink as if to say ‘this one’s a keeper’ before dismissing herself to get dressed. April was still fixated on the devastatingly cute image in front of her, she barely even noticed when Sterling stopped fussing Bilko and caught her staring.

Sterling just smiles and walks over to kiss April on the head and says good morning. But April could sense the slight smug look she was getting from her own cat, and never being one to back down, she takes him from Sterling’s arms and places him back on the floor.

“As adorable as you both look, it’s my turn for morning cuddles.” She says, receiving an irritated meow from Sergeant Bilko, who had just had his fuss interrupted.

“April Stevens is a massive softie huh? Wait until Ezekiel hears about this.” Sterling remarks with a cheeky smile.

April smirks and leans in to kiss the blue-eyed girl in front of her, but instead backs her into one of the stools by the kitchen counter, until she hits it with the back of her legs and has no option but to take a seat. While Sterling’s eyes were closed in anticipation, April pulls away silently and replaces her lips with a plate of breakfast.

After not receiving the kiss she was expecting, Sterling opened one of her eyes to see a Michelin star worthy plate of food being held up in her face. It looks and smells amazing, but she still pouts and whines slightly.

“What? You looked... hungry.” April says with a shit-eating grin.

Sterling rolls her eyes, “Such a tease.”

“Well that’s what happens when you call me soft and threaten to grace Ezekiel with such dangerous knowledge. Now stop sulking and eat the amazing breakfast your girlfriend just cooked for you.”

“Girlfriend huh? I could get used to that.” Sterling said, in a tone full of affection.

It suddenly dawned on April, that they hadn’t actually discussed in detail what exactly their status was. But even if it was a slip-of-the-tongue, Sterling seemed to embrace it anyway so she just rolled with it. The domesticity of having coffee and breakfast together was something April loved, and she would be happy to have many, many more mornings like this one. So, girlfriends they were, Sterling Wesley was her girlfriend.

April moves behind Sterling and rests her chin on the blonde’s shoulder, nuzzling into her neck and cuddling her from behind, noting that she could still smell the girls’ perfume from yesterday. She pulled away after a few moments to make herself a plate, but not before noticing Sterling’s long arm sneakily reaching down to where Sergeant Bilko was perched on the floor next to them.

“Don’t think I didn’t notice you and Bilko silently plotting to turn him into a fat useless housecat.” April narrowed her eyes at the pair of them.

Sterling’s cheeks go bright red and she shoots an apologetic look to Bilko on the floor, while April laughs at her success in embarrassing her girlfriend. Arghh girlfriend, she can’t stop saying it over and over in her head, and has to resist her urge to smile uncontrollably.

 

-

 

April pulls her car into the Wesley driveway and parks it in front of the garage, right next to the Volt. While they were still at April’s house, Sterling made her debate the pros and cons of coming out to her parents when she got home, insisting April take the affirmative, of course. She wanted April to take the affirmative, partly just because she needed the reinforcement, and partly just because debate-mode April really did things for Sterling.

For some unexplainable reason, Sterling felt more comfortable admitting her sexuality to her parents than she did talking to them about the events that unfolded during the night of the lock-in. They were both pretty life-changing conversations, but she knew that one of them had a more predictable outcome. Talking about their family drama would just lead to Anderson and Debbie grovelling for the Twins’ forgiveness, whereas coming out could change the way they think about her completely.

Sterling was anxious, to say the least, but she had April with her. And by the looks of the Volt parked in the driveway, she would have Blair there too. They had been sat in the car with April holding her hands and giving her a pep talk for at least 10 minutes before Sterling finally texted Blair.

Sterl ❤️ 1:32pm
Brace yourself :(

Blair ❤️ 1:32pm
O shit, this should b good. dw i gotchu sis

The blonde couldn’t tell whether the reply from Blair was reassuring or daunting, but she got out of the car and walked up to the front door, clasping April’s hand all the way.

They walk straight through the door into the foyer, where they kick off their shoes and take one last comforting glance at each other, before walking right into the kitchen. Blair was sitting on the counter (which Debbie hates but no longer has the energy to reprimand) with a smug look on her face, trying to make herself look innocent by playing on her phone. But Sterling could see right through her, she knew Blair was currently just trying not to laugh. But she also knew that if anything went wrong, Blair’s humour would turn to protectiveness real fast.

Debbie looks up from her mixing bowl and notices the two girls enter the kitchen, she gives them a cheery welcome before going back to whatever she was baking. But after a delay in registering what she had just seen, she does a double take at Aprils face before discarding the bowl onto the counter and rushing over to the shorter girl in a panic.

“What in God’s name happened?” She looks Sterling dead in the eye. “Sterling Pearl Wesley, did you do this?”

“What?! Mom who do you think I am, of course I didn’t do this!” Sterling didn’t know whether she was more shocked that she just Called Debbie Mom for the first time since before that night, or that Debbie would assume she could do this.

Debbie’s eyes lock straight onto Blair as her next target and raises her eyebrow, questioning her too.

“Mom what the hell? It wasn’t me either!” Blair leapt off the kitchen counter in offence.

“Language! Bad!” Debbie scolded the older twin.

April looks between the three Wesley women before finally speaking up. “No, uh Mrs Wesley, it was my father who did this, not Sterling or Blair. I kind of came out to him last week and he didn’t take it very well, clearly.”

Anderson joined them in the kitchen as April was explaining, giving his two cents. “Last week? Hun those look fresh, what happened?” He questioned delicately. He was the complete opposite of Aprils father, kind and patient, she had always admired him for that. But she had also envied Sterling and Blair for having a seemingly perfect family, in comparison to hers. Before Sterling told her everything, that is.

April took in a deep breath so she could get through the explanation without breaking down.

“Well after last week, he ran away after hurting both my mother and I. But he came back when he found out that I had reported him for domestic abuse and well... uh... he didn’t take to that news lightly either. Hence why my face is freshly multi-coloured.” She let out a hollow laugh.

“But it’s fine now, he’s been dealt with.” She subtly smiles at Blair and Sterling and receives two sympathetic smiles back.

Debbie pulls her into a warming hug, apologises and tells her it’s nice to finally see the girls all getting along again. Honestly it was a breath air for all of them not having to actively hate each other. But, Blair manages to ruin the moment by bursting out laughing and choking on her drink.

“Oh, they’re getting on alright.” Blair sniggered into her glass, before taking another sip.

April and Sterling immediately shoot daggers at Blair, while Anderson and Debbie just stand there looking extremely confused. Sterling saw this as her chance to redirect the conversation and maybe lift some confusion.

She held onto April’s hand once again and took a deep breath. “Uh Mom, Dad, there’s actually something I want to talk to you about. I... I’m bisexual, I think. What I mean is that I like like both boys and girls. But I don’t want to label anything right now. I like April, that’s all I need to know.” She finally lets the breath out and feels Blair’s supportive grip in her other hand.

Her parents look to each other for a moment, with varying facial expressions, almost as if they were having a mental conversation. Sterling wonders for a moment if there was such thing as marriage telepathy, because whatever it was that her parents were doing, it was much like her and Blair’s twin-telepathy.

Blair was growing tired of the silence and unreadable facial expressions, so she announced “You know what, if you guys have a problem with this then you’ve been reading the Bible all wrong. Because it preaches a whole lot about love and acceptance and-”

“Blair, calm down will ya. We don’t have a problem with it at all.” Anderson cuts her off.

“Sterling honey, your father is right, we love you for whoever you are and for whoever you love. We’re just sorry that wasn’t made a blatant fact from the get go.” Debbie agrees, tears starting to form in her eyes.

April was so happy for her girlfriend in that moment, but the envy in the back of her mind was still present, no matter how much she pushed it away. She figured it was just another thing that had been passed down to her by her criminal father, that she would have to overcome with time. And she would overcome every pert of herself that was like John, even if it killed her.

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you until now. With everything going on, it just didn’t ever feel like the right time.” The everything in question being something they hadn’t discussed properly yet, but Sterling just wanted them to feel normal for a little while.

“It was probably partly my fault too. I just wasn’t ready to be all out there, sexually speaking, for obvious reasons.” April admitted sheepishly.

Debbie just responded by pulling both girls into a crushing hug, one which Anderson and Blair both soon joined in with. Sterling made sure to pull April closer to her in the midst of this big Wesley squeeze, to say thank you as well as to say we got you. April could feel the envy slowly start to weaken and crumble in her mind. She rationalised to herself that she need not envy something that she was also welcomed into with such warm open arms.

“I’m so proud of both of you girls. And April, I hope you know you always have a home and a family here with us, your mother too.” Debbie insisted, although it was slightly muffled by the cluster of people in the embrace.

“Definitely, but door open and no funny business.” Anderson does his best to sound stern but it is again muffed.

“Ew, yes please no funny business. I might get to get the details of your rendezvous, but I don’t wanna hear the details if you get what I’m sayin.” Blair was definitely not muffled as she pulls back from the family embrace to give voice to her own terms and conditions.

There was still so much more they had to talk about as a family, it was gnawing away at the back of all of their minds. But it was still raw, still rippled water that needed to settle. But for now, Debbie and Anderson at least knew that Sterling still somewhat trusted them. And in return, Sterling knew she was loved no matter what sexuality, religion or biology had to say about it. At least they could just have this moment to process something as a family, like a family should.

Chapter Text

The girls sit in Sterling’s room, all three of them in a comfortable silence. Sterling leans against April, almost falling asleep, while she runs her fingers through the girl’s soft blonde hair and Blair sits at the end of the bed playing some game on her phone.

The silence only lasted a moment longer before Sterling piped up, “Well, that went a lot better than I thought it would.”

April smiles down at her and continues to run her fingers through Sterling’s hair, but also rubs comforting circles on the girl’s arm. Blair, on the other hand, scoffs and finally lifts her head out of her phone.

“I know right! Ugh, how anti-climactic.” Blair says, laughing.

Her laughing was soon cut short when a pillow, launched by Sterling, hits her smack-bang in the face and knocks her off the bed and onto her ass.

“Hey! I was just kidding you jerk. You know I’m happy for you and Little Miss Perfect here. Wait, does that mean you’re technically my sister-in-law now?” She questioned, still obviously trying to wind the pair up.

Blair’s humour backfired on herself when she was struck with another two pillows, this time from April as well as Sterling. It sends her onto her ass again, and she lays on the floor holding one of the pillows over her face in defeat.

“Wesley, I didn’t think you could get any more insufferable, but you appear to have proved me wrong. Makes me miss the days where you were trying to spit in my mouth guard.” April sighs and gives Blair a sarcastic grin.

“Hey, don’t make me add to those bruises Stevens.” Blair threatens jokingly, but realises her mistake as soon as the words leave her mouth.

If looks could kill, Blair would surely be deceased under Sterling’s glare. She sees April’s face fall slightly and feels bad, but surely, they know she didn’t mean it, right?

“Okay, too far, I’m sorry. But if it’s any consolation, your dad looks a lot worse and he has been taken down by two teenage girls, twice might I add, in the space of a single school term. Double win, for all of us.” Blair takes her space on the bed again and comforts her supposed nemesis, and the two brunettes share a small smile.

April doesn’t say anything but she pulls both Wesley girls into a thankful embrace. It’s a rare occurrence that she lets down her guard, but she finds herself doing it a lot when it comes to these two girls.

It’s something she is still very much trying to get used to, because it’s definitely not something she can fight any longer. But despite their history, they always seem to be there for her when she needs someone the most.

“Not a word of this to Ezekiel or Hannah B, you hear me?” April warns, still maintaining some bite in comparison to what she was currently showing.

Both Wesley’s nod in agreement and they stay in the hold for about 30 seconds Sterling was loving it, getting to hold both people she cares for the most. But Blair gets weirded out about how comfortable she feels, and scrambles out of the arms of the couple.

“Ookay that’s enough cuddles and affection for one day. I’ll be next door blasting music so I don’t hear y’all scissoring.” She laughs and runs out of the room, dodging another two pillows headed her way.

April and Sterling settle into the remaining pillows left on the bed and Sterling nestles her head into the crook of Aprils neck, while April rests her chin on the girl’s head. They were both relaxed for once, no homework, no projects and no studying to worry about, and they were both out to their parents.

They lay in silence once again. Too many important or dramatic words had been shared in the past few days, so they welcomed the peace that the quiet brought to them, just happy to be in each other’s company still. Sterling played with one of the buttons on April’s plaid shirt and April watched her contently, her heart increasing a few sizes.

“Are you okay?” April asks.

“Mhm, sure I am. Why’d you ask?” Sterling replies, still busying herself with the button.

“When I came to see you the other day, you were out of it Sterl. You drank a whole bottle of alcohol. I was worried about you but you pushed me away. We uh, we haven’t really spoken about it.”  April didn’t want to push it too much, but she’d only got an apology for that day, not an explanation.

“I’m sorry, I was just hurting and I didn’t know what was real anymore. I pushed everyone away, even Blair. It wasn’t anything personal, well I guess it kind of was but... yeah.”

The thought of the bottle she downed made her feel instantly queasy, but she remembers it also silencing some of her worst thoughts and memories from that night. For a quick escape, it was fine. But if she was going to talk to the people she cared about like trash every time she drank, it wasn’t worth it.

“You know, I was worried when I saw your insta story of you drinking at that college party. But I couldn’t say anything back then. But at least at that party you looked like you were having fun, this time you just looked broken.” April said while tears started to line her eyes.

“Hey, I’m fine now, okay? And that party was not one of my proudest moments. You know my mom made me sleep in a tent in the yard when she found out about that?”  She laughs slightly and then continues. “That night after I left the lock in, it seemed like everything changed. First, I lost you, then I got kidnapped, then I lost Blair and my family and any sense of what I thought was real. It was just a lot to deal with in a single night.”

Both girls just look at each other with saddened expressions, ones that had already been seen too many times in the past week, and sink into each other. At least this time the sadness was only brought up so they could talk about and work through it, which was much better than just bottling it up, like April was so used to doing.

April sniffled slightly and wiped her eyes with her sleeve. “If you ever need to talk about anything, I’m always going to be here, you know that right? I’ve got you, for real this time, I promise.” She says as she kisses Sterling’s head.

“I’ve got you too you know. You don’t always have to compartmentalize or hide away your emotions for someone else’s benefit.” Sterling says as she strokes her thumb across the other girls’ maxilla softly.

“How are you so good?” April smiles.

They stare at one another for a moment, feeling like everything around them had disappeared and just left them in their own little world, then they begin to close the small distance between them. Just as their lips are mere millimetres apart, an audible groan could be heard from the door that had just been barged open. Of course, Blair would walk in at that exact moment.

“Yo lovebirds, dinner is up and Mom has set a place for April too. So, I guess you’re stuck with us for a bit longer o’ tiny sister-in-law of mine.” Blair announces, dripped with sarcasm.

The couple roll their eyes in unison as Blair runs out of the room and down the stairs, cackling the whole way. At least Blair was still Blair, that would never change, even if she did strive to be the absolute bane of April’s existence.

April took a silent moment to appreciate the integrity of this family. Even after they had all been through a rather life changing event just a few days prior, they still seemed to gravitate to each other like nothing had changed, and have a genuine united front, not a fake one like the Stevens’ had. Despite biology saying otherwise, she could never doubt that Blair and Sterling were twins. She was happy that Sterling was surrounded by people that loved her, but she also allowed some happiness for herself and the fact that she, and her mother, had also been welcomed into the family.

Sterling gets up to head downstairs but April grabs her arm gently. “Hey, is everything okay with your parents after everything that happened?” She asks.

“Um I guess so. I mean we haven’t really spoken about it, we’re just kind of acting like nothing changed.” Sterling replied.

“Maybe you and Blair should talk to them, Sterl. Regardless of who gave birth to you, they are still your parents and Blair is still your sister. They love you, that much is extremely clear to see.” The smaller girl says, while moving to hold Sterling’s hands.

Sterling looks down at their entwined hands and sighs. “Yeah, I guess we should do that sooner rather than later. We all have things we want to say, so we need to get them off our chests and heal, as a family.”

 

 


 

 

After dinner, the girls decided to take Chloe out for a walk around the park, get some fresh air, and cool off from the weekend’s events.

Sterling walks with Aprils hand in one of hers, and a small picnic basket in the other, finally having the freedom of not caring who sees them. Blair walks with her lacrosse stick in one hand, and Chloe’s leash in the other, and making sure to have a good few metres distance from her sister and her girlfriend in order to ‘protect herself from PDA’.

Eventually, Blair gets bored of aimlessly walking, so she runs ahead and decides to use her lacrosse stick and a tennis ball to play fetch with Chloe, as well as get some practice in for her next game. It was a sunny day and there was barely anyone around, so they had the whole field at their disposal.

The couple stay behind and enjoy the sun while scouting out a decent place to set all of their stuff down. They walk hand in hand for a while before April pauses to stare at something in the near distance.

“Hey, you okay? Whatcha staring at?” Sterling waves her hand in front of Aprils face to break her out of the daze.

“Do you remember that tree?” April points her chin out in the direction of a giant cedar tree, that stands at the top of the small hill in front of them. “We used to climb it, and sit in its shade in summer, when we were kids.” She smiles at the memory.

“Huh, that seems so long ago. I kind of miss being a carefree middle schooler.” Sterling says.

“Me too, less pressure to live up to unrealistic expectations.”  April replies, half-heartedly.

Sterling puts her arm around April’s waist and pulls her closer to comfort her, and places a chaste kiss on the side of her head. She remembers that even as a child, April’s father drilled it into her that she had to be the best and the most competitive. She was a Stevens; second place had never been an option.

“Do you wanna go sit underneath it like we used to? It looks like the perfect place to set up and wait for Blair and Chloe to wear themselves out.”

April nods and the girls stroll up to the tree, and as they approach it, they notice just how vast it is. The cedar seems to encase them in their own safe little world. April leans against the trunk and looks up through the many layers of branches, remembering just how high they used to climb.

Sterling watches her girlfriend in awe, after setting down the blanket and picnic basket, and suddenly has a lightbulb idea.  She pulls out her phone and scrolls through her music, to find her Kacey Musgraves playlist, and when she finds the song she was searching for, she turns up the volume and places her phone down at her feet.

She extends her hand to April as the first few bars of Slow Burn begin to flow. “Dance with me?”

April gives her a soft smile and willingly takes her hand. She lets herself become engrossed by the taller girls floral scent as they sway together, and she was starting to get used to their little moments of tranquillity.

Just as the song begins to fade out, Chloe comes pounding up to the girls and knocks them both to the ground, covering them in slobbery and excited kisses. Blair follows suit and her knees buckle underneath her as she falls to the ground laughing at the pair.

But it’s soon April and Sterling’s turn dissolve into laughter when Chloe’s attention turns back to Blair and she sprints towards her.

“AGHH NO GO BACK TO ATTACKING THEM YOU TRAITOR!” Blair screeches while the hyper-active mutt chases her back towards the playing fields.

Sterling and April’s laughter was cut short by April’s phone chiming. “Shoot it’s my mother, I should probably head home.”

Sterling pouts but nods, and they start to pack away the blanket and snacks. Once everything is packed away, their hands find each other again and Sterling waves Blair back over so they can leave. Both Chloe and Blair look about ready to collapse, so the message from April’s mom probably couldn’t have come at a better time, because Sterling refused to have to carry either of them home. 

 

When the girls get back to the Wesley house, Sterling hangs back with April near her car as Blair heads on in with Chloe, pretending to gag as she walks past them. April subtly flips her off and Sterling just rolls her eyes at her sister’s childish behaviour, honestly not expecting anything less.

“I’m sorry I can’t stay for longer; my mother just shouldn’t be alone for too long right now. Will you tell your parents I said thank you though?” April smiles and leans up to place a kiss to Sterling’s cheek.  

“They are obviously not immune to that Stevens charm; they love you already. Let me know when you get home safe, okay?” The taller girl says as she opens the car door for her girlfriend, and then waves as she backs out of the driveway.

 

As she heads back into the house and closes the door behind her, she’s greeted by Blair and one of her signature smug smirks, with arms crossed and hip poking out, the whole shebang.

“Hey, you never heard me say this, but I guess you and April being together isn’t so bad. It’s cringey as hell, but somewhat tolerable to a certain extent.” It was a somewhat backhanded compliment but Sterling appreciated it nonetheless.

“Thanks, you goofball. I just hope her dad doesn’t come back to ruin it, I don’t think either of us have the emotional stability for that right now.” Sterling replies. 

Chapter Text

The Wesley’s had decided that they needed to start getting some sense of normality into their household, so Saturday was the day they all spilled everything on their minds out onto the table. The twins had shared their collective feelings of anger and mistrust to Debbie and Anderson, and in return they received the expected grovelling, as well as an explanation.

It was hard for both girls to listen to the story of Sterling’s birth and eventual adoption, but they did learn that they in fact still shared the same birthday, and Blair being the oldest by 3 minutes was still true. Something they didn’t know though, was that it was a miracle that Sterling had survived the birth, considering Dana’s drug and smoking addiction very much existing during her pregnancy.

Debbie explained how she kept Dana updated on her addresses every time she moved, after leaving her behind in Nandina. She also shared how hard it was to lead a normal and progressive life in that desolate town, without getting roped into extremist gang activity or substance abuse, and how she couldn’t take it any longer so she took off and left everything behind. She said that one day years later, when Debbie had settled down with Anderson in a lovely house in the Margaret Mitchell neighbourhood, and was expecting her first child, Dana had showed up on their doorstep. She was heavily pregnant, much like her sister, but also heavily under the influence.

Dana was never in any state to raise a child, she wasn’t even willing to get help for her addiction in order to ensure her baby was healthy. So once the baby was born, thankfully with nothing wrong with her, Dana left her with the Wesley’s and took off, without so much as even naming her own child. The Wesley’s had seen it as a blessing from God, rather than an inconvenience, and they named their unexpected second daughter Sterling Pearl Wesley.

It was Anderson who explained the danger that Dana had posed to the family. He said that her addiction had intensified. And that four years after Dana had up and left, she started contacting them asking for money, and threatening to come and take Sterling away from them. They had no choice but to give into the demands if they wanted to keep their daughters safe, but as a precaution, they moved to Albemarle Circle and didn’t give their new address to Dana.

The only thing that couldn’t be answered, was who Sterling’s biological father was. But she had been assured that it wasn’t that psycho scumbag Levi.

 


 

Come Sunday morning, they had agreed as a family to attend church again for the first time in the past two weeks. The Sunday service was something they had all missed, even Blair, but the judging eyes of the community was not. They didn’t have to look around to notice the stares and whispers from the majority of the congregation, but they held their heads high and made the way to their pew.

Sterling looked to the pew adjacent to theirs, noticing the one stare in the room that made her light up instantly, and forget about what everyone else thought. Normally, not caring was Blair’s forte, but the look Sterling received from April dissolved all of her worries and insecurities. She knew that as long as those alluring emerald eyes, accompanied by the signature smirk underneath them, were looking at her, she would be just fine.

As Pastor Booth started the service, the whispers died down, and all the eyes in the room redirected their attention to him. Except for two pairs of course. Sterling and April stayed staring at each other for a moment longer, before Blair thrust her elbow into Sterling’s ribs.

“Blair what the heck!” Sterling hissed.

“Dude, I can feel you two eye-fucking each other from across the room and it’s quite uncomfortable.” Her sister replied with a screwed-up nose.

April watched the twin’s interaction, and sent a brief scowl in Blair’s direction. But her face softened as she appreciated their sisterly bond still being intact, after all they had been through. It was heart-warming to see that barely anything had changed between them, but the feeling of jealousy she had when she was at the Wesley’s house a few days before, started to resurface. She felt her mother nudge her slightly and zoned back into whatever Pastor Booth was saying.

When the sermon was over, everyone started to head outside and get lost into conversations with one another. Sterling’s eyes were trained on her girlfriend the whole time as she walked out. The way April’s dress flowed in the wind, and how her hair was half up and half down but a strand of it kept escaping, only to be tucked back behind her ear by her perfectly manicured fingers.

April could feel eyes on her back, she knew immediately who’s gaze it was, but she didn’t give into it just yet. She decided to bask in the fact that she was being watched for just a little bit longer. She liked being the centre of attention at school as long as she could control it, but something about the way Sterling observes her just made her feel special, made her feel wanted, which was new. She was only ever used to receiving attention for her academics, or when her father would show her off to his associates at the club as his perfect little girl.

She leant against one of the pillars at the bottom of the steps, and finally met Sterling’s eyes, feeling her mouth shift to a smile almost automatically. They hadn’t really discussed how they would go about their relationship in public so Sterling was cautious as she approached, and left space for Jesus between them.

“Hey.” April said with a smirked.

“Hey yourself.” Sterling replied with slightly reddening cheeks.

April grew tired of the distance between them. So, with a brief look around them, she pulled Sterling towards her by the small belt on her dress, and wrapped her arms around the taller girl, leaning her head against Sterling’s chest. She was shocked at first, but she held April back and breathed in the coconut scent of her hair.

When they pulled away, they noticed that April’s mother had been invited over to chat with Sterling’s parents. Sterling noticed tears forming in April’s eyes, so she smiles and grasped the girl’s hand.

“Hey, they meant it when they said you’re both part of the family now. We got you. Both of you.” The taller girl stated with a comforting hand squeeze.

The couple headed over to their parents and Blair, probably with even more stares directed at them now, but they took no notice. April was pulled into a tight hug as soon as Debbie noticed her, and when she pulled back, she held the girls cheeks for a second. Something inside her wanted to pull away from the embrace as she wasn’t used to the physical contact, she was only just getting used to it from Sterling, but that would be rude and ungrateful, so she let her head fall onto the woman’s shoulder instead.

Sterling and Blair’s phones chimed at the same time, just as April was being released from their mother’s death grip of a hug. The twins looked at each other and seemed to have some kind of silent mental conversation with a few furrowed brows and odd facial expressions, before zoning back into the four pairs of eyes looking at them expectantly.

Blair stuttered for a minute before saying, “Sorry guys we gotta go sort out a... uhh work emergency. Yeah, work emergency.”

Sterling squeezed April’s hand once more before turning to walk away with her sister, but April didn’t let go of her hand and followed them to their car.

“Work emergency huh? I assume it has nothing to do with the fudge pump going haywire, right?” April questioned with a stoic expression on her face.

Sterling motioned for Blair to get in the car while she pulled April round to the passenger side.

“Look, I know you’re not keen on us doing this, but we’ll be fine, we always are. Bowser wouldn’t let anything bad happen to us.” Sterling reassured her, but April was still unreadable.

“Fine.” Was all April said, face still lacking any emotion.

Sterling knew it was just another one of April’s well perfected defence mechanisms, and she was definitely not happy about what ‘work emergency’ they were about to deal with, but she had no time to debate with the girl. Not at church, not about this. So, she left a long and apologetic kiss on April’s forehead, got into the passenger seat of the volt and watched in the rear-view mirror as April walked back to her mother, defeated.

Neither twin spoke on the way over to Yogurtopia, Sterling chose to stare out of the window and Blair left her to it. They had always been the best at comforting each other, but in this situation, Blair didn’t know what to say. If April couldn’t accept that this was their job, then that was her problem, but she knew better than to voice that to her sister, as it would only hurt her feelings and make her feel more conflicted about her work/life ratio.

When they got there, they exited the car without a word. But as they were walking side by side, Sterling was pulled into a much-needed side hug by Blair, which she accepted and wrapped an arm around her sister in return. She appreciated that Blair was keeping any negative opinions to herself, and she knew she had at least one, she wouldn’t be Blair Wesley if she didn’t.

As they entered the shop, they threw a smile at Ms Cathy behind the counter and Blair smuggled a handful of gummy bears as they walked past the froyo toppings and into Bowser’s office. Bowser mumbled something about god damn teenagers as Blair made her entrance by throwing gummy bears up, and failing to catch them in her mouth.

Sterling smiled brightly at him as she entered, she hadn’t really seen him since that night and she missed the big softie. He had missed them too, but he wouldn’t admit as much if he was asked.

The girls slumped down on the old couch in Bowser’s office, waiting for him to explain what his message was about. He stood up from his office chair and rounded his desk to grab a file out from his cabinet. Once he had retrieved the one he was looking for, he threw it like a Frisbee in Blair and Sterling’s direction, luckily being caught by Blair before all of the sheets of paper could scatter around them on the floor.

“You guys have been out of the game for a while, but if you’re up for it, here’s a new skip.” Bowser said, leaning on his desk in anticipation.

Blair opened the file and flicked through the pages to find the skips mugshot. “Tristan Jones huh? Wowzer this guy is like HOT hot.”

Sterling narrowed her eyes at her sister. “Yes Blair, he’s also like, a criminal. You know, like CRIME crime.” And then took the file from her, to see exactly who they were dealing with here.

“This guy is that so called ‘Dog fighting Ring King’ that Terrance was after a while back. Turns out, he never caught him.” Bowser noted, with an overly smug look gracing his face.

The twins giggled to themselves over Bowser unintentionally showing that he most definitely still saw Terrance as the competition, when it came to Yolanda’s affection. Terrance might be a badass vlogging bounty hunter, but they were on team Bowser for sure.

“Look, if we get this guy, it will get all of us in Yolanda’s good books, and leave that punk-ass Terrance in the dog house.” The older man sighed.

Blair and Sterling looked to each other, to make sure they both had the same thought, before nodding and looking back to Bowser. “We’re in!” They exclaimed in unison.

 


 

Bowser had given the girls the details of where to meet him later on that night. It was the address to some old abandoned warehouse about half an hour south of where they lived. Thankfully they still had the rest of the week on school break, so they could get away with staying out late on a Sunday night.

They had originally planned to stay at Yogurtopia until it was time to go and scope out the warehouse, but they were still in their church attire and Bowser had insisted they go home to get changed into something more suitable for chasing down a ‘6-foot grown ass man’. And quite frankly, they were annoying the hell out of him.

Sterling paced the length of her bedroom clutching her phone tightly, while Blair just stared at her and rolled her eyes. “Can you stop? You’re creating a draft.”

“April hasn’t replied to a single one of my texts since we left church.” Sterling huffed and sunk down into the bed next to her sister.

“Yeah, Sterl, in case you haven’t noticed, she’s pissed at you.” Blair remarked.

“Yes, thank you for that observation. I know.”

Blair stood from the bed and placed a comforting hand on Sterling’s shoulder. “Look, we have to go and meet Bowser in a minute anyway. Just give her some space, she’ll get over it.” She said before walking into her own room.

The taller girl looked at herself in her mirror. She was dressed head to toe in black, which was more Blair's style than hers, but she looked good, really good. She thought of sending April a picture of what she was wearing, but then decided against it as April was already mad and probably worried enough about what the twins were getting up to tonight.

Maybe she should just quit bounty hunting after tonight. She had thought about it quite a bit since her and April officially got together. It was what ripped her girlfriend's family apart after all, but it also happened to be what led her into some pretty good relationship advice from an amphetamine dealer's wife. Blair loved it and it was good money too, and mostly easy. But was it worth risking her relationship for?

Sterling decided to send one more text before she gave up for the night.

Sterl ❤️ (7:42)
I know ur mad at me, but i’ll be careful, promise <3

Chapter Text

April’s phone buzzed on her nightstand and she groaned into her pillow before checking it. She already knew it was Sterling, it had been Sterling the last 10 times she had checked it, but it was so hard to ignore her. Her girlfriend’s sad puppy dog eyes popped into April’s head every time she read a message on her home screen and didn’t reply.

She might be angry because of how worried she was, but she still wanted to hear everything the blonde had to say, she could listen to her for hours just talking about any random topic. But April Stevens was not one to back down, she would not reply, she would get her point across.

A knock on her bedroom door caused her to jolt upright and place the pillow back against the headboard. She plastered on a fake smile as her mother entered her room, their relationship was heading upwards, but they weren’t at the ‘discussing relationship problems’ phase yet.

“Hey honey, I’m heading out, I probably won’t be back until much later tonight. Will you be okay on your own?” Mrs Stevens asked, poking her head around the door.

‘Out? With whom? Had Mrs Wesley invited her somewhere?’ April just nodded her head in response and waved bye to her Mom, without voicing her thoughts. To her knowledge, April didn’t know of her mother having any close friends. John always insisted that he was the breadwinner of the family, Mr bigshot, and she was the housewife who should stay home to clean and have a meal on the table by the time he returned home. Fucking misogynist.

When she heard the front door shut, April finally sunk in the realisation that she was alone. She hadn’t been alone within these confining walls since John had been arrested the first time, when her mother took it upon herself to attend all of the meetings with the family attorney, instead of thinking to see how her daughter was coping.  

She stared at her phone one more time, scanning over all of the missed messages and calls from Sterling. Her eyes began to sting as tears formed, but she blinked them back as vexation started to replace her sorrow. The glass screen of her phone almost shattered with the force it hit the nightstand, and April made her way over to her desk, knocking everything off it in one clean swipe, including a framed picture of her and her father.

When she saw the photo of him looking up at her from the floor, she kicked it to the other side of the room and it smashed against the wall. She was honestly shocked at herself for not already blitzing her room of all the pictures of him, but no time like the present, right?

The cork board above her desk was her next target. It held all of the pictures of her and John at a multitude of academic and dance competitions she had won, holding her trophies between them. He had pinned them there so she would never forget all of her successes, but also so she would remember that failure was not an option for a member of team Stevens.  Within the space of a minute, they were surrounding her in shreds on the floor, as she slid her back down the wall, pulling her knees up to her chin.

It was only then that she let her tears fall. She had never had a breakdown like that, never let everything she was feeling be expressed all at once. She had become accustomed to compartmentalisation, but it had been cathartic to let all of her angst out, even if she now had one hell of a mess to clean up.

When Sterling had initially told her that it was the twins that were responsible for John’s arrest, she didn’t know how to react, and she didn’t feel instantly angry, she didn’t feel anything, so she let it slide. But with Sterling and Blair leaving church to attend to some ‘work emergency’, her brain now had other ideas.

She discovered she was in fact angry at Sterling for withholding the truth from her about her father, but more so for the fact that she could’ve been hurt had he decided he wanted revenge, than any other reason. April didn’t care that her father was now rotting in a prison cell because of the twins, it wasn’t their fault he was a violent woman beater, and as far as she was concerned, he deserved to be there. No, it was the fact that they were Bounty Hunters, and she would be constantly worrying about her girlfriend and her halfwit sister.

 

 

 


 

 

  

The twins pulled into the carpark of the abandoned warehouse that Bowser had given them the address to, except it didn’t look so abandoned at this time of night. They scoped out Bowsers Jeep amongst the rows of cars and parked a few spaces away from him, so they didn’t draw too much attention to themselves.

From the outside, the whole building looked derelict and like it would fall down any minute. It was covered in graffiti and nearly all of the windows were smashed with pieces of jagged glass still left in the frames. The lower tiers of the building emitted colourful flashes of light though the clouded glass windows, and the bass of the music could be felt all the way from where the girls stood.

Excitement filled Blair’s eyes as she took in their current setting, it looked like absolute place to be. Sterling’s eyes on the other hand, held nothing but scepticism. She was completely out of her element here, and something about the whole place rubbed her the wrong way.

Bowser spotted the girls and waited for a crowd of rowdy individuals to pass him, before he made his way over to them. The place was a lot busier than he had expected, but he had faith in the girls and himself. After a shootout in a trailer park, this would be nothing right?

“Our guy has been spotted here quite a few times. Now don’t be fooled, this place is not a nightclub and no-one here is to be trusted. This is not the side of town we want to be on if anything goes wrong. In, grab the skip, out, got it?” Bowser warned, looking between the twins with a deadly serious expression, that did nothing to quell Sterling’s bad feelings about the place.

Stashing their guns in the back of their jeans, the three of them headed to the entrance of the warehouse. They were met by two muscular men, stood at either side of the door. The guys had at least half a foot height advantage on Sterling and she gulped down her anxiety, but just like at the strip club, the bouncers motioned with their heads for the three to enter.  

As they entered, they had to descend a small flight of stairs to make it to the action centre of the warehouse. The lower they went, the more they could feel the music pumping and hear the cheers of what sounded like a very large crowd. The strobe lights took Sterling by surprise, and she felt like she was going to have a seizure if they kept flashing in her face. But when her vision began to settle, she took in the full view of her surroundings.

In the centre of the giant room there were two boxing rings, where two pairs of brutish men were already bloody and beaten, but still throwing punches. Just off to the left there was a bar covered in LED strip lights and surrounded by barstools, with surprisingly hardly anyone inhabiting them. The most overwhelming thing about the place was just how many people there were, so many that it made it almost impossible to move or see around.

Bowser made a signal to the girls to triangulate, so Blair took the left side near the bar, Bowser took the right side of the room, and Sterling flanked the middle, making sure to have an eye on her sister at all times. Sterling thanked the Lord that she was tall, because she could only just see over the tops of peoples heads to keep Blair in sight.

After roughly 10 minutes of keeping her eyes peeled for the skip, Blair was about ready to give up and just join in on the rave. But just as she approached the bar again, she noticed an insanely handsome guy sat on one of the barstools 5 feet in front of her, Blair recognised him instantly from his mugshot. He was wearing a grey knit sweater, that hugged his arms in all the right places, and black ripped skinny jeans. The guy looked more at home in a Calvin Klein ad than he did in a stingy dive like this, there was no doubt this was who they were here to rope.

Blair tracked down Sterling in the crowd and motioned with her eyes to the guy at the bar and then to the fire escape, desperately hoping Sterling would know what she meant without having to use their twin vision, and risk losing the skip if they zoned out for too long. Thankfully Sterling gave an affirmative nod and headed to the direction of the fire escape.

Sterling watched from a safe distance as Blair used her best seduction skills to lure the skip out of the exit and into the alley behind the warehouse. She desperately hoped Blair knew what she was doing, or this could seriously blow their cover, or worse. Sterling didn’t even want to think about the latter of the two.

The tall blonde breathes a sigh of relief as she sees her sister and Tristan on the move towards the back of the warehouse. She backs off a little so she can follow them out the door without being detected and tries to spot Bowser at the same time, but she has no such luck.

Once Blair is out of the door with the skip, Sterling takes a deep breath and follows suit. She closes the door quietly behind her and immediately channels her protective twin energy, when she sees Blair struggling to get out of Tristan’s grasp.

Sterling approaches the skip from behind and silently draws her Glock from the back of her jeans, holding it up to his back. She gives Blair a swift nod and she uses all of her strength to escape the guy’s strong hands, and push him back into the barrel of the gun aiming right between his shoulder blades.

“Hands off my sister asshat!” Sterling yells at him from behind.

Blair directs a smug look his way and he raises his hands to surrender, but in one swift motion, he knocks the gun from Sterling’s hand and seizes her in a chokehold, with a switchblade to her neck. She tries to scream but was muffled by his clammy hand against her mouth.

“Not so smug now are you little girl.” He sneers at Blair, with a sick grin forming on his face.

Blair tries to subtly reach for her gun, but when he spots her movements, he digs the blade into Sterling’s neck further. Sterling felt warmth trickle down her neck as her skin began to slice under the pressure. She looks to Blair with a solemn look, there was no way out of this. So much for Tristan just being a dog fighter.

Just as both girls closed their eyes tight and accepted their fate, the sound of a gunshot suddenly rang through their ears, and Sterling found herself being released from the grasp that previously clung onto her so tightly. It’s only when Blair felt her sister in her own arms that she dares to open her eyes. She saw as Tristan stumbled backwards, clutching onto right shoulder, eventually collapsing onto his knees in pain.

“Never bring a knife to a gun fight, jackass.” Bowser remarked, from the far end of the alleyway.

He approached the skip with his gun still drawn at arms length, knowing better than to give the fugitive the benefit of the doubt, even if they are injured. This guy was worth a lot of money, and he almost just put an end to the two girls Bowser had sworn on his own life to protect.

“Wow, great shot Bowse, you really saved our asses there.” Blair thanked shakily.

“What have I told you girls about waiting for backup?! What would you have done if I hadn’t shown up, huh? I’ll deal with this sack of shit, get your asses home. Now!” The older man ordered, his tone leaving no room for disobedience.

The girls saw the same hint of disappointment in Bowser’s eyes as they did on the night he found out about their mother’s bounty and fired them. A look that they knew better than to question. A look that was worse than anything he could yell at them. It meant they had let him down, and it meant that they had hurt him.

Bowser dragged Tristan to his feet and handcuffed him, before shooting the girls one last stern look over his shoulder. He waited for the girls to make their way to their own car before putting the skip in the back of his truck and getting into the drivers seat.

Blair helped a trembling Sterling over to their car, and belted her into the passenger side. The cut on her neck didn’t look too deep, but it was bleeding profusely, so Blair ripped part of her shirt and applied it to the wound.

“Shit dude, that was intense. We can’t go home like this though, Mom will have a fucking heart attack.” The brunette said once she was situated in the drivers seat.

“First of all, language! Second of all, it’s not that bad.” Sterling protested as she lifts her fingers up to her neck.

The piece of Blair’s shirt being used as a gauze was already starting to soak through with blood, so when Sterling looks at her fingers, they are covered in the thick red liquid and she starts to become lightheaded. When Blair sees her sister’s eyes rolling to the back of her head, as if she is about to faint, she instantly puts the keys in the ignition and starts the car.

“Blair, where are we going?”

“To April’s house.”

Sterling goes from drifting in and out of consciousness, to completely wide awake. “She’s been ignoring me all day; we can’t just turn up at her house.”

“Well, we can’t go home or to the hospital without having to explain what happened, it’s the only other option.” Blair snapped, while trying to focus on the road, and not getting pulled over for breaking the speed limit.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Sterling has turned white by the time they pull into April’s driveway. She’s not completely sure whether it’s because she was bleeding so much, or because she now had to face her girlfriend with an injury from the dangerous job that she swore to be careful at.

They are lucky that April’s mother wasn’t home. She had already had to face enough drama and violence in the past week, and didn’t share the same level headed mentality as her daughter, so she would freak out for sure.

The taller twin leans against her sister as they walk up the steps towards April’s front door, pushing her slightly in front as they get there. Blair rings the doorbell and, an already unhappy looking, April answers, with her signature scowl and eye roll to greet them. But her eyes soon turn wide, and look like they are about to bug out of her head, as she sees Sterling covered in blood.

“What the hell happened?!” April yells while already dragging Sterling inside and pushing her down onto a seat at the kitchen island.

The smaller girl grabs a first aid kit from the kitchen cupboard, her expectant gaze not leaving the beaten-up looking twins across from her.

Sterling and Blair panic and go into twin telepathy mode.

“Do we tell her or not Sterl? It wasn’t that bad...”

  “She will totally freak out! We need to downplay it. We can say I ran into a door?”

  “Yeah, sure. A door just happened to make a very neat and precise cut close to your jugular. Real smart Sterl.”

  “You come up with something then, genius.”

 “I said, what happened? And don’t you dare lie to me Sterling Wesley. You’ve done that enough.” April’s tone is demanding, and she accidentally let’s some of her previous anger about her father slip through.

Blair looks to Sterling apologetically before explaining. “The skip we were after had a knife...”

The realisation to what April meant by  “you’ve done that enough.” Suddenly hits Sterling like a freight-train and she interrupts her sister’s explanation.

“Wait, I thought you said you weren’t angry at me for not telling you about your dad?” Sterling questions her, feeling a pang of guilt for not realising sooner how her girlfriend really felt.

April doesn’t answer, she just maintains a blank expression and continues to patch up Sterling’s wound. Her expression never falters, as she throws both of the twins a fresh t-shirt each from the ironing basket, and walks over to the TV in the living room, where she turns it on and opens up Disney+.

She doesn’t look back at them as she says, “Are you two joining me or would you prefer to explain to your mother why you’re covered in blood?” before sitting down on the Chesterfield couch.

The twins don’t need to be told twice as they situate themselves on either side of her. Sterling is sheepish to sit too close and antagonise the smaller girl even more, but April sighs as she pulls Sterling’s legs up to rest on her lap, and gives her a faint smile.

Blair keeps her mouth shut and watches as April chooses what to watch, surprisingly pleased with what she chooses. “Star Wars huh? Do you watch them in chronological order, or do you watch them properly?”

April just smirks and presses play on ‘A New Hope’, answering Blair’s question simply.

“Kicks it off with the original trilogy, nice one Stevens.” Blair nods contently and makes herself comfortable.

Sterling smiles to herself at her two favourite people bonding, well their version of bonding anyway, and snuggles closer into April’s shoulder. She is cautious as she still doesn’t know just how mad April is at her, but she wants to be held, and the smaller girl has never been able to resist Sterling’s best puppy dog eyes, so hopefully she still can’t.

Her theory turns out to be correct, as April hesitates for a split-second, but then puts her arm around the taller girl and pulls her close. It’s not long before Sterling is a sleep and snoring gently on April’s shoulder.

There was a beat of silence, before Blair lets out a breath of air, she didn’t even know she had been holding. April looks over to her questioningly, knowing there is something on the brunette’s mind, but not wanting to pry.

“We spoke to our parents on Saturday, finally.” Blair states, nervously.

“How did it go?” April knew it was a silly question, but she was honestly just shocked that she and Blair Wesley were actually talking and not just trying to get a rise out of each other.

“It went as could be expected. Grovelling, tears, truth and still a lingering feeling of betrayal. But at least we know that me and Sterling still share the same birthday.” Blair shrugged and made a poor attempt at concealing the single tear she let escape.

The only person she had ever really been able to comfort was Sterling, so in this situation with Blair, she didn’t know what to do or say. She just put a comforting hand on top of Blair’s and gave it a squeeze before withdrawing it back to her own lap. The sentiment seemed to have been effective though, as Blair gave her a small smile in return.

Sterling stirred next to her, so April turned the Television off and delicately untangled herself from the blonde. She tried not to wake her as she picked her up off the sofa, and carried her upstairs into her bedroom and placed her gently on the bed.

She showed Blair to the guest bedroom and just as she was about to retire back to her own room, she felt Blair’s soft grip on her lower arm, making her turn to face the brunette twin.  

“Thank you. For tonight I mean. We owe you one.” Blair said with a half-smile.

“Yes, you really do. Goodnight Blair.” April said finally, before walking down the hall and into her bedroom.

She closed the door behind her gently, and saw that Sterling had already tucked herself into the soft covers, with the duvet pulled right up to her chin. The blonde looked adorable and it was hard to be angry at her, although she still wasn’t happy about some scumbag harming her girlfriend.

The twin’s appearance at her door was not how she expected her day to end, and she most definitely wasn’t prepared for it, since she had spent most of the afternoon breaking the majority of the things in her room that reminded her of John.

April tried to ease herself into the bed without waking Sterling, but it was no use. Her eyes opened in the darkness and she turned to face the smaller girl, looking into her eyes trying to get a read on what she was feeling.

Since avoiding Sterling’s question earlier, April had been pretty unreadable. She went from being snappy and hostile, to cuddling on the sofa and her mood swings were giving Sterling whiplash.

Sterling reached for April’s hand under the covers. “I’m sorr- “

“Please, just... don’t.” April interrupted, pulling her hand away.

“No, listen to me. I didn’t tell you about us taking your dad in and you have a right to be angry at me.” The blonde protested.

“I’m not angry Sterling, he deserved to be locked up.” She sighed.  “It’s just... I’m worried about what will happen to you. I’m afraid you’ll be hurt or killed and I won’t be there to help you.”

Sterling reached for April’s hand again, this time it was welcomed and their fingers entwined. They looked into each other’s eyes for a brief moment, and Sterling lifted their hands up to place a kiss on the back of April’s.

“Maybe you should come with us next time? It probably won’t be for a while because Bowser was pretty pissed at us for not waiting for backup, but he’ll need our help again soon.” Sterling suggested.

April hesitates, but she doesn’t want to brush the idea off without thinking it through. “I don’t know Sterl, the whole thing just seems too dangerous to me. I’ll sleep on it okay?”

“That’s all I ask.” The taller girl smiles. “Goodnight, A.” She says as April pulls her in closer and drapes an arm around her waist.

“Goodnight Sterl.” April whispers, tucking a strand of Sterling’s hair behind her ear and kissing the top of her head. She feels the girl relax into her chest as she drifts off to sleep, the rise and fall of her chest becoming gentler.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

The next morning, both girls are woken naturally by the sun pouring in through the blinds, and the birds singing obnoxiously loud. They head down to the kitchen and are caught totally off guard with what they see. Or rather, whothey see.  

She was sat at the kitchen island with a coffee in one hand and a cereal spoon in the other, her glasses perches on the end of her nose. When she looks up, she notices the girls and chokes on her coffee momentarily.

“Uh, Ellen? Hi.” April says, waving awkwardly at the last person she would expect to find siting in her kitchen at 9:00am on a Monday morning, not that it wasn’t a pleasant surprise.

“Oh, hey gals. Don’t mind me y’all, there’s still some coffee in the pot, go wild.” Ellen says enthusiastically.

Before April can even start to question why Ellen is in her house, her mother walks into the kitchen wearing her night gown and a silk robe and Ellen’s eyes linger for just a second longer than they probably should. Both Ellen and April’s mother share a glance and blush slightly, knowing they had been caught.

“Well, if it isn’t sleeping beauty herself.” The older blonde woman comments, as the other woman approaches and places a kiss on her cheek.

It was the happiest April had seen her mother since, well, forever probably. So, who was she to call them out for being all lovey-dovey with each other? Especially when her own girlfriend was stood next to her, holding onto her hand.

“Oookay then. Well, uh, we’ll just go and wake Blair up and leave you guys to it.” April announced, while pulling a shell-shocked Sterling out of the family kitchen and back upstairs.  

They sprint up to the guest room to share what they just saw with Blair and find her still fast asleep, snoring and spread out on the bed like a starfish. April mentally high fives herself for falling for the blonde twin, who is impossibly cute while sleeping.  

Sterling pounces on the bed, but it does nothing to bring her sister from her slumber. Both April and Sterling have the same idea as they each grab a pillow and quietly count down from 3, before pelting Blair until she wakes up.

Eventually, Blair begins to stir. She pulls the covers over her head and groans loudly in annoyance from the rude awakening.

“Ugh, what is it with gays and pillow violence? And why am I being woken up before mid-day during a school break?” She grumbles as she wipes the sleep from her eyes and glares at the two girls stood at the foot of the bed.

“You’ll never guess who is downstairs having coffee with my mother.”

“Oh my God it is way too early for this cryptic shit. Just tell me!” Blair whines.

Sterling sits down next to her sister and shakes her shoulders. “it’s Ellen. And I think they might be, like, dating or something.”

“Dude, why did you not just lead with that? I’m definitely awake now.” Blair sits up, her eyes wide with gossip opportunity.

April comes over to join them on the bed. She was used to listening to Ezekiel and Hannah B gossip about various classmates or teachers, but she never usually engaged with it, nor did she usually care. But her mother dating Ellen? Her mother dating a woman for that matter? Absolutely scandalous.  

“I always wondered why Ellen was our number one shipper, I guess this explains it.” April notes, scanning her memories for any tell-tale signs of either of the two women being remotely attracted to the same sex.

“Okay, but they are SO cute. I ship it.” Sterling says with an excited squeeze of April’s hand.

“I don’t know about you losers, but I need the full story. Like, right now.”

Blair haphazardly runs a comb through her hair and runs out of the room, heading to interrogate the two women in the kitchen.

“Hey, wait for me!” Sterling presses a sloppy kiss to April’s cheek and runs after her sister.

April rolls her eyes fondly at the twin’s mischief, and drags her feet to follow them. She knows she is going to cringe at every question they ask her mother and Ellen, but watching them in action is too funny to pass up the opportunity. 

Chapter Text

The twins had been grilling April’s mother for the past 20 minutes, which at first April found quite amusing, but now she was starting to get bored of their unrelated questions and just trying to keep up with all of the connecting branches of their tangents. Ellen was also trying her best to keep up with the girls, looking between the two of them as they rambled, and nodding her head when necessary, but when April slipped away into the family room for some quiet, Ellen followed.

The older woman sank into the sofa across from April, and they sighed simultaneously in relief.

“Phew, I love those gals, I really do, but heck can they talk.” Ellen mimes wiping the sweat off her brow and pulls two Fig Newton bars from her pocket, tossing one over to the shorter girl.

“Yes, they are very... enthusiastic.” April replies.

“So, you and Sterling huh? Told y’all you would make a good team.” Ellen says with a warm smile.

April panics for a split second, before realising that she doesn’t have to hide any longer. In fact, she never had to hide in front of Ellen, which she is now realising. Everyone she cares about knows her for who she really is, finally.

“Yeah. It wasn’t at all what I expected. Never did I think she would like me back. But I think there has always been a spark there, somehow.” The shorter girl says while looking over to Sterling, who seems to sense the eyes on her, and shoots a goofy wink back in her direction.  

Surely it couldn’t be this easy. To just have her sexuality and her girlfriend be accepted with so little hassle. To have her father behind bars and out of her life. To just be free after all of the drama. All of it just seemed too simple and too good to be true, like there was a catch hidden in the small print somewhere, just waiting to trip her up where she least expects it. She was April Stevens; good things don’t just come to her without her having to earn it first.      

April zones back into the world around her, and the pair sit in a semi-awkward silence for a moment, both just thinking about how strange a situation they had found themselves in. April starts to open the snack bar, but she pauses as a question enters her mind.

“How did you and my mother meet?” It was the one thing that was burning a hole in her mind, and it was clear she wasn’t going to get the answer while listening in on her mother’s interrogation.

Ellen almost chokes on her Fig Newton, not quite expecting to be put on the spot like that, but she recollects her memories while she finishes chewing. Her face softens as she remembers a certain day, when a certain woman, (or rather, girl, back then) stood at the front of the class and, honest to God, took Ellen’s breath away.

 

Atlanta, GA - Willingham Academy (10TH August 1993)

 

Bible study. Her second class of the day, and probably the most uneventful, but an opportunity to learn nonetheless. Not that Ellen hadn’t already read and studied the Bible multiple times in her own free time, but it was still interesting to hear other people’s interpretations and ideas, even if she didn’t agree with all of them.

 

She tapped her pen against her temple mindlessly as the minutes slowly ticked away on the clock above the whiteboard. But her attention was instantly redirected to the figure that appeared in the doorway, followed by the Principle.

 

The girl, who now stood front and centre of the class, was tall with auburn hair and deep blue eyes. Ellen’s mouth hung open and the pen dropped to the desk with a clunk, making the girl look at her and smile slightly.

 

Principle Denver introduced the girl as Angela Harrison, and Ellen replayed the name over and over in her head, thinking about how beautiful it sounded in her voice. She emerged from her thoughts as the girl sat down next to her, since it was the only available seat in the class, and boy was Ellen ecstatic about that fact.

 

It took her a moment to regain her composure and get her mind out of the gutter, but once she did, she introduced herself sweetly. “Uh, hi. I’m Ellen Johnson, lovely to meet you.”

 

“Ellen hmm? Suits you. I’m Angela, but you can call me Angie if you like.” She smiled as she got her stationary out of her bag for the lesson.

 

It was amazing how fast the young blonde had perked up since the arrival of this absolutely stunning new girl, and her day had definitely got a great deal brighter. But now she had to work hard to disguise her interest in the girl. Ellen had come to terms with who she was and who she was attracted to, but she didn’t think the rest of the school or her family would accept it just yet. And as beautiful as this girl was, Ellen didn’t know anything about her. The last thing she wanted was for this girl to think she was a creep and scare her away.

 

***********

 

  The new girl was smart, it seemed. She was in all of the same AP classes as Ellen, and since she was the first friendly face the girl saw, they were paired together most of the time.

 

Over the course of the day, and the 5 classes they shared together, Ellen had learned that Angie moved from Arizona because her father had got a promotion at work. She also learned that Angie missed her home and her friends, and felt as though she would find it hard to fit in. Ellen made sure to mention that Angie was welcome to hang with her whenever, only if she wanted too of course.

 

Ellen had found it hard to pay attention to anything other than Angela all day. She was beautiful, and her smile was so contagious that she couldn't help but smile back. She had a sparkle in her eyes as she spoke, and her hair was a deep shade of red that seemed to shine in the sunlight.

 

 Angela was intriguing. She seemed like the complete opposite of someone who would want Ellen as a friend, but somehow the two of them had hit it off. She was friendly and fun, and had a great sense of humour.

 

  Ellen wasn’t what people would consider popular. She spent most of her time in the library, getting ahead of her classes or reading the classics. She had a reputation for being a bit of a bookworm, but as long as she maintained her perfect grades, she didn’t care for other people’s opinions.

 

  Ellen was shy. She didn’t like when people looked at her, and she certainly didn’t like to be in the spotlight. She had a great smile, but she didn’t like to show it. Kindness came naturally to her and she didn’t like to judge or participate in mindless gossip, she preferred to observe rather than engage.

 

  Angela was different. Her grades were good, but she didn’t care about them. She didn’t seem to care about anything. She just rolled with the punches and went with the flow. This was new to the blonde, but she grew to appreciate Angie’s sense of adventure and desire for fun.

 

  As far as conversation, theirs was going well. They had a lot in common considering how different they were, with the same taste in music and literature. That was until the topic turned to relationships. Ellen didn’t have a boyfriend, she didn’t want a boyfriend, and she had no interest in discussing any of the boys at the school.

 

At first, she was worried that this new girl would find her disinterest in boys off putting, but surprisingly Angela just replied with a simple “Good for you girl.” And swiftly moved onto a different subject. It felt good to hear someone share the same regard, validating in a way.

 

  ***********

 

  Over time, the girls grew closer and felt as though they could tell each other anything. Angela expressed her feelings of being controlled and pressured to find a relationship by her parents. They wanted her to settle down with a ‘good christian man’ and have children and live the so-called American dream. She resented the thought of being pressured into a relationship that she didn’t want, and she was haunted by the feeling of being trapped in the future. Ellen truly felt as if she couldn’t possibly relate to someone more.

 

  The girls were talking over lunch, when Ellen felt a new presence at their table. She looked up to her left to see a tall, dark haired boy, carrying a football under his arm and a sickening smirk on his face. John Stevens, great.

 

He was one of the most popular boys in school, and had a reputation for being the school jock and the school ladies’ man. He was the worst kind of person, the kind who is popular just because he can throw a ball around or run really fast. He was a typical example of a small-town hero, but to Ellen he was a complete ass. She couldn’t stand the way he or his friends carried themselves, or the way they spoke to the girls.

 

Where Ellen saw a misogynistic and pathetic excuse for a christian man. Angie saw a golden opportunity. She thought that if she was dating John, then her parents would let her live her own life. Little did she know that being involved with John would only make her situation worse.

 

***********

 

  John and Angela had been dating for a few weeks now, and Ellen noticed how things had changed. Angela seemed to be more withdrawn and quieter, she didn’t have the same spark that she used to. Ellen knew that dating the guy was a mistake, and she knew that Angela felt the same way.

 

Ellen decided that she wouldn’t stand by and watch her friend become a shadow of her former self. She had to do something. So, she managed to get her friend away from her possessive boyfriend and led her to the fellowship office, to do what she never thought she would have the courage to do.

 

She told Angela that she was in love with her.

 

Angela was shocked. She tried to deny what Ellen had said, but when Ellen cut her off with a kiss, Angela seemed to be frozen in place. She could feel her heart pounding a mile a minute in her chest, but she started to kiss Ellen back. It took a minute before Angela pulled away and placed a gentle hand on Ellen’s shoulder.

 

“Ellen, I...” Angela started. Ellen looked at her with a mixture of hope and fear.

 

“We can’t do this, I’m with John.” Angela said. Ellen’s face fell.

 

  “But you don’t love him, do you? You don’t even like him. He is destroying the beautiful person you are, from the inside out. Why can’t you see that?” Ellen pleaded.

 

Angela turned away, looking out the window. She had to suppress her own tears as she heard Ellen’s quiet sniffles behind her. Not being able to take the sound of a heart breaking for much longer, she turned around and embraced Ellen, holding her tightly.

 

“I love you too. But I can’t. I’m not brave enough.” Angela whispered, her voice breaking slightly.

 

Ellen pulled away from the hug, and looked Angela in the eyes, her own eyes full of tears.

 

“You are brave. You are so much braver than you think.” Ellen said, wiping away one of Angie’s fallen tears.

 

Angie looked at the blonde in front of her, knowing that they would be so much happier together than she ever would be while living a fabricated lie with John. But despite the tough exterior she portrays, she didn’t have the guts for the world to know who she truly was. Her li began to quiver as she looked Ellen in the eye once again.

 

“Don’t ever let him take your courage away from you. I’ll wait. I’ll always be here for you. And maybe, someday, we can be together.” Ellen said, smiling sadly, and kissing Angela on the forehead lovingly before walking out of the room.