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Ditto Bitch, Different Her

Chapter Text

Fatin POV

 

She gazed longingly, watching the rise and fall of the girl's chest, the burnt skin of her cheeks, the intensity of her eyes that always left her with a feeling maybe Leah felt something more too. Something else.

“Stop staring at me like that,” Leah said, eyes homing in on Fatin who was currently perusing her features with a faraway expression.

“Like what?” 

“Like I’m going dark.” 

She held her breath and pondered. No, that was most definitely not why she was currently stuck to Leah with the force of that one girl who gorilla glued her entire head. “I don’t think we can really call it that anymore considering you were right the entire time. Like who would have called that Gretchen was secretly an undercover, fucked up scientist with an uber cunty agenda. Maybe going realistic?” 

Leah chuckled under her breath, moving from her seat to hop into the bed. Fatin sighed, then pulled Rilke's form in tighter than was required. Almost afraid to loosen her grip from fear she would leave, or die, or some total gut punch she simply could not survive. Fatin could survive a lack of orgasms, shark attacks, and starvation but the mere thought of something happening to the girl in her arms made her stomach do a complete 180. 

“We need to think about moving or searching for resources. That bitch left us with nothing but a room filled with shredded paper.” Leah’s eyes darkened, fidgeting slightly in Fatin’s arms at the thought, a hand moving up to pick at her brow before another hand swatted it away.

“You realise that’s like a hamster's wet dream,” Fatin quipped.

“Shut up.” Leah rolled in her arms until they were facing each other before burying her nose into her neck as had become routine (one Fatin never wanted to break.) “I’m serious. We need resources. Yes, I’m hoping the government is on its way, but we can’t be sure of anything and even if they were, there is no saying how long that would take. We need food. Firewood and basic shit. Who knows how long the backup generator will keep for? In case it goes we need,” 

“Breathe,” Fatin interrupted. Her hand moved up to rub gentle circles on Leah’s back, stomach contorting at the warmth that filled her when the girl simply nuzzled into her neck in response. “We haven’t even slept yet. Gretchen fled hours ago, we’ve done an inventory and surveyed the building and all the other shit we can consider tomorrow. For now, we both need to sleep.” 

“It’s still light out.” It was, and both were far from tired. It also didn't help that whatever prick was controlling the sound system had been playing grungy rock at full volume for hours and one speaker was just down the hall from them.

“Then let's talk about random -non mega bitch- topics until we can sleep.” They had wasted more than enough breath on Gretchen Klein.

“You know the guys seemed to be suspicious of,” 

“Leah,” Fatin chided, choosing to go with a distraction. “So, any of them look cute?” She was really probing, Fatin knew it and still went ahead with the dumb question that had been on the forefront of her mind since seeing them. 

Rilke pulled her head out from her neck, staring at her incredulously. “We’ve known them not even a day and you’re sizing up which one to bed?” She said it with a bite enough bite that she picked up on the edge of it.

“No,” Fatin stuttered. “I mean,” Another pause. “Like,” God she should really think this through next time. “The brunette one you knew seemed cute. Do you maybe… Have history there?” 

It had been a thought she couldn’t stop replaying since seeing them together. After Leah had screamed on the rooftop, he had been the one to console her and calm her down. He had been the one with his hands on Leah’s shoulders telling her they ‘should have planned for that,’ but it didn’t matter. Fatin should have been the one scheming with her not this random dude with annoyingly cute eyes. She had spent who knows how many days with this guy and was already talking to him before Fatin about theories. Theories that were meant for Fatin. That was always their thing, whether she had believed them or not.

“Raf?” 

“What?” 

“His name. It’s Raf.” Leah moved so that her nose was inches away from Fatin’s, her furrowed brow thinned out by how much she had been picking at it as of late with her friend not there to stop her. “We just had some alone time that we conspired in is all.”

Alone time. “Oh, I didn’t realise you knew each other so well. Is that like… A thing?” 

“What do you mean a thing?” 

“You know what I mean.” 

“He’s not my type.” Leah’s voice broke as her hand came up and toyed with the sunburnt skin on Fatin’s arm anxiously. 

“So, what’s your type because I hate to break it to you but there’s only a handful of guys out there to choose from.” 

“And girls,” Leah added matter-of-factly. 

Fatin could feel her heart drop, plummeting quite suddenly out of her body. “What?” 

“I’m bi. Though all of you that are available are straight -not that Shoni are my type- and I’m pretty sure some of the guys are queer but regardless I didn’t wake up this morning thinking ‘wow this hellscape would make for an epic episode of Love Island’.” 

“I see what you did there.” 

“Fatin. I mean it, I don’t give a shit about them. I need a break from guys right now, Jeff just… He left a shitty impression that I probably need to take a year out of to get past.”


Fatin nodded, swallowing the knot in her throat. “I’m not by the way.” Her fingers shook slightly from their death grip on Leah’s hip as she spoke, body tensing as the words left her. 

“Not what?” 

“Straight.” 

Leah’s eyes widened just enough for her to note it- before she felt her recoiling back from her arms slightly. 

“At least I’m like, ninety-nine percent sure, obvi. Still need to like, apply the theory and all.” 

“Apply the theory?” 

“Yeah.” 

Something seemed to light up across Leah’s features then, it was the same look she got whenever she spiralled on an island theory. A realisation of sorts as if her brain was suddenly providing a rapid-fire explanation of all the strange looks and ‘I missed you’s’. The constant need for touch, the ever-present affection and caution of her every action to the point that Leah simply let out an ‘oh.’ So quietly it was almost missed. 

It was not. 

“Leah I,” The fear lacing Fatin’s voice was just as clear.

“No,” Leah fed a hand into Fatin’s hair, initially sweeping away a few strands that had fallen into her eyes before moving to grip the back of her head with a soft palm. “You know it really fucking sucked that you didn’t believe me this whole time.” 

Fatin's gut clenched. She should have. The evidence was quite literally right in front of them. Between everything they needed mystically washing up, the weird sightings of ‘men’, the facts that just kept piling up one after another that they all ruled out as Leah being mad. Crazy. A bitch. God, Fatin had assigned so many names and traits to her and the whole time, she had been right.

About every single fucking thing. 

“Now you’re the one going dark on me.” Leah’s fingers trailed down her face before a thumb swiped away a tear she hadn’t even realised was rolling down her cheek. 

Jadmani’s rarely cried, however when it came to Leah Rilke? She loved her, it couldn't be helped. However, that didn’t make the tears feel any more natural. Instead, they felt invasive, like her body had betrayed her with this stupid ass saltwater production. 

“Hey, look at me,” Leah spoke, hand caressing her cheek. “I don’t blame you. I sounded crazy and you all saw none of it.” 

“But we didn’t even think to check.” And that was the real problem, wasn’t it? They were all just a little too focussed on small things to note the humungous red flags waving before them. “The pit... The dirt was different there. If I had taken one fucking moment to actually support your theories, we would have known.” 

“Fatin that’s not my point. My point is you saw this angsty bitch talking shit about crazy theories with no hard evidence and you still supported me. You still held me while I slept, you still watched me like a hawk when I went dark, made me eat, bathe."

"I lost it at you. I threw you against a cliff, Leah."

"No, that was only when I went off at Rachel. You were pissed at what I did to her, not the theories. You cared, so damn much and I get it now… I think…” 

And with that Leah pulled Fatin’s head in towards her own – tentatively at first- lips barely brushing against hers as Fatin inhaled a sharp breath before shaking slightly against her. 

“Sorry,” Leah rambled. “I just, that was um, so I thought, but now I,” 

“Oh my god please shut up.” Fatin groaned, pulling Leah back towards her by the material of her shirt. This time it lacked any fear, instead, confident lips met in a hard pull as something quickly tugged lower in Fatin’s stomach; the weight of it previously ignored for so long. Fatin's brain short-circuited as Leah sunk her teeth into her bottom lip, a moan threatening to leave her when the hunger of Leah's lips on hers only grew. Her body felt strange, euphoric almost. At peace. It was the same stupid feeling she’d had every day since she wiped her blood on Leah, the feeling that really hit her full force when she was rambling about someone snorting seasoning after seeing a piñata. 

That was the moment it had fully hit Fatin, whilst she felt all these things for weeks, that moment sunk in exactly what those feelings were. The complete joy she saw on Leah’s face as she laughed with Rachel, made her want to wrap her in an embrace and kiss her for hours on end. The moment she realised she was right had both made her want to vomit but also made her prouder than ever. Leah Rilke was a fucking genius. She was this enigmatic wildcard with such intelligence, such understanding that none of the girls had credited her for, and still, she never stopped. 

She was the girl who had made an awful joke toward Fatin when she asked to borrow a tampon back at school, Leah had replied with something along the lines of ‘you can't borrow one, but you can keep it’ a fact Fatin had honestly entirely forgotten about until the past two days when it had randomly popped into her memory. She was the girl known for carrying a fucking Lana Del Rey tote bag around for a solid two years -how Fatin hadn’t realised she was queer was beyond her- the girl who no one truly knew anything about. 

But Fatin did. 

Fatin knew how Leah tried to press her feet between her legs as they slept because they always seemed to run at a constant temperature of ice fucking cold. She knew that she liked some poetry not for the words or rhythm but for the writers’ accomplishments that were told through them. The perseverance or some shit. She knew that Leah had lied to her parents and partied on a whopping two occasions, one of which was a party that Fatin had attended, paying no mind whatsoever to the girl now in her arms. 

And she knew that Leah tasted sweet today, like some kind of berry juice. 

So, she pulled harder and ran a tongue along the lip of the girl whose hand was now tugging slightly at her hair, sighing contentedly against her. Fully prepared to drown her senses in everything entirely Leah.

Fatin let her fingers dip just under her shirt until the tips of them brushed along Leah’s stomach, searching the soft skin there for marks left by the other island. Reminders. She let her other hand slide around her back, trying evermore to get just that bit closer as she moved her lips to Leah’s neck, her hips absentmindedly rolling against a thigh that had crept between her knees (Fatin couldn’t be blamed for this, she could barely remember what an orgasm was at this point.) 

But then she remembered this was Leah, Leah who she didn’t want to get the wrong idea about what this meant. Leah who was probably still wary from Jeff. The same girl who knew far too much about her eclectic dating history. She was fully aware of what was spoken about her in the hallways at school and knew of the tales both true and utterly false whispered between classes. 

And many were in fact true. 

But none of those facts were Leah. 

So, Fatin pulled away, lips briefly touching once more out of a need of comfort, before resting her forehead against Leah's. “You mean so fucking much to me.” 

Her main thought went unsaid. 

I love you. 


But that was enough for Leah to get somewhat of what she meant. You mean more to me than anyone ever had or could. 

“Same,” Leah’s voice croaked slightly, raspy from the lack of sleep, her breath panting hard against her skin.

“Sleep.” 

“You too.” 

“I’m not going anywhere.” 

Leah simply rolled Fatin until her back was against Leah’s front and cradled an arm around her. “Me either.” 

A single kiss was pressed to the shell of her ear, though it lingered there as if Leah was considering saying something else. 

She never did. 

 

 

Chapter Text

Leah POV

 

When Leah awoke it was to the weight of the vice grip around her midsection. Immediately, her eyes shot open, heart pounding in her throat as her brain mentally scoped over the night prior. 

Kissing Fatin. Her hands trailing across her stomach. The way Fatin’s hips rolled against her thigh. It was everything. And that’s exactly why Leah needed to get some air. The island was not a prime time for another trip down the route of Jeff. 

Sighing, she gently pried at Fatin’s fingers, breath caught in her throat as she moved her arm to instead cradle the pillow, before slipping out of the bed and then wordlessly out the door.

Fatin would be pissed; she was sure of it. Not because it meant something, this was Fatin Jadmani who famously, never did strings. However, she was sure she would be angry at the fact she had disappeared without a word of where she was going; but she had to know more about this place and focus less on those erratic thoughts of her best friend.

So, she drifted, scoured through the corridors mentally cataloguing all that Gretchen had left behind. But not just that, no. Leah was calculating every placement of a camera, speaker or automatic lock that remained or had once been. Every wire that led to somewhere concealed. Every scuff of a footprint that could signal a false wall. It was obsessive, perhaps. Yet obsessive had saved Leah more times than she cared to admit, the once seen personality flaw now a safety net to two groups of teens who wrongly trusted in adults with shady scientific practices.

Words hung in her head from her last conversation with Gretchen like some fucked up game of chess. ‘Experimental initiative that will change the world,’ and ‘healthier, more powerful fully realised beings.’ 

The words stuck in Leah’s head, filling each gap of a theory. You see science experiments had multiple things, things that Gretchen watched like a hawk. Similar variables that were shared between the same groups, and then the obvious key difference. 

That didn’t answer the question of why them and what for though, no. Those details were hazy, but there. Settling into seeds of thoughts that grew through Leah like a current keeping her alive.  

They were the control group. 

Why may you ask? That she was still figuring out. None of them shared many traits or habits. The thing that seemed to link everyone was their issues -but Leah had established from the letter they’d each received, adorned with their names in cursive on the front, that detailed their issues, crimes or secrets- so this link clearly served as a basis for blackmail. A safeguard for Gretchen. 

No, what tied them together was not just their issues. Though that was how it would appear to anyone watching in. The thing that tied them together was their conflict with their parents. A hatred or regret, a fear or a loss. Wrongdoing. A failure to safeguard. Absence.

Parents that had failed in one way or another to protect their children, to mold them into what Gretchen wanted them to be.

‘Healthier, more powerful fully realised beings.’ 

Bile rose in her throat.

The other thing that stood out was the sheer amount of money it would take to do this. For what? Money down the drain for a one off experiment?

No. 

Gretchen was a businesswoman. That much was clear. The suits, the hand gestures. The way she talked as if she were addressing a boardroom.

So surely their struggle had a means, a value to it she could profit from. 

That night, when the lights clicked off Leah knew. Had done for a while in the back of her thoughts like an eerie shadow. 

Gretchen was using them as a basis for a business venture. One where Leah assumed she would take children, assumingly from wealthy families with the intention to correct them. Would make them revalue their parents. Would shape those who were raised wrong. Arm them with skills for the business world. Debate. Leadership. Work ethic.

She was building a hell hole of a correctional retreat. For parents who felt their child needed them more. Needed to achieve more. She would make millions, off of rich parents worldwide who wanted their bratty child corrected. It had worked after all, had it not? They all just wanted to head home to their parents or had overcome the issues created by them. They were stronger.

It was a sickly, self-centric parental love venture served with a hefty side of PTSD.

Though, whoever Gretchen had in the control room would surely have far more power than simply playing questionable Y2K rock on full blast. 

Leah groaned as Thirty Seconds to Mars boomed through the speaker, the deep hit of electric guitar ringing in her ears. Though she herself had an emo phase that lasted multiple years in her young teens and loved some rock, the repetition for hours on end at top volume was beginning to feel like its own brand of torture. 

“Shit,” The boy grunted, having flown around the corner at speed, hands colliding with her chest as they smacked into each other. “Oh,” Tired eyes drifted up to meet her own. “Morning.” 

“Raf,” Leah smiled awkwardly. “What are you doing up?” 

Chuckling he continued to walk, Leah following in his path. “Following a hunch. I’m assuming you’re scoping the place out too?” 

“That would be a correct observation.” Leah tapped her finger anxiously against her thigh. She wasn’t ready to talk more about the theory yet, wasn’t sure who to trust. “Are you worried that the locks can be overridden on the backup generator?” 

“Yes,” Raf mumbled. “I have an idea of who is in that room and let’s just say they wouldn’t mind seeing the end of a lot of people in here.” 

“But surely the room locks would have been triggered if that was the case? Just trap us and leave us to starve or some shit.” 

“Maybe he knows that some of us have key cards.” 

Leah wrapped her fingers mindlessly around the card in her pocket. “Ones that would need to be overridden.” 

“Something that’s doable, but with Gretchen’s level of anal protection it may take some time to work his way through the system.” 

“Him?” 

“I think our island may not have taken care of its trash," Raf admitted.

“So, if that’s the case we can’t stay here.” 

“We could, but we would need access to the north wing that asshole is hiding out in.” 

“The cards aren’t working and that whole wing is on a deadlock,” Leah groaned, palms pressed into her eyes. “Fuck.” 

“We need to move, temporarily. Who knows what’s out there though? We’ve all suffered at the fate of island inhabitants we can’t control. I’m assuming Gretchen picked islands with food sources for us but that isn’t needed here. This island could be filled with nothing but foliage and death. If the other islands were catered to our survival, that won’t be the case here.” 

Leah didn’t say the thought that invaded her mind at that moment. That in fact there probably was just as much on this island. Because when testing a control group, it would make sense to introduce variables. Boys. Girls. What hadn’t been tested yet to her knowledge was mixed groups. They were serving Gretchen themselves once again on a silver fucking platter.

“I don’t know that we have much of a choice.” Leah sighed. “And personally, I’d rather be out there than stuck in this war-era bunker that’s legitimately giving me hives.” She rubbed the gooseflesh on her arms that had been there since that damn party hall that felt like something from the sinking remains of the Titanic.

“The guys will take some convincing. They want to stay. Wait out the government arriving.” 

“We don’t know when or if they’ve even managed to find our exact location. It could be days, weeks, months.” 

“They want to stay. And they’re hardly up for listening to me.” Raf shook his head.

“Then the girls go alone.” Leah summarised. “Honestly at the end of the day we know none of you, they’re going to be worried for themselves and their safety. Mixed groups bring up a whole new set of potential dangers and,” 

“No, I get it. And our island was proof enough that those dangers are a problem. But they’re good people Leah... Kind of.” 

‘And our island was proof enough that those dangers are a problem.’

She gnawed at her lip; that was interesting. Perhaps the information Gretchen was gouging him for. It would surely affect the results assuming she had sponsors. Investors. Fucking creeps.

“Kind of,” She chuckled humourlessly under her breath. “I’m going to scope out what’s around out there today with some of the girls. You’re welcome to come. If we do leave, I’ll give you the direction we’re following in case you need us. The island is far from huge though, but we can’t stay here with whoever Gretchen left behind watching our every move. God knows she is probably still watching us too the bitch.” 

“Fine, so today some people scope the island, then tonight or tomorrow we decide. As individual groups.” 

“That sounds,”

“Leah?” Fatin rounded the corner, instantly crossing her arms as she saw the girl’s proximity to Raf. “Oh,” She frowned as her gaze darted between them. “So, having an early morning catch-up are we?” The smile she offered was fake, plastered on just as falsely as whenever she stated she enjoyed getting firewood or sharing her underwear with the collective.

“No, we were just,”  

“It’s cool.” Fatin cut her off in a tone that clarified it was very much not cool before turning to walk away. 

“I’m going to just.” She motioned over her shoulder, turning after receiving a nod from him. 

“Fatin, fuck, wait,” Leah yelled, trying to catch up to her without breaking into a run was fairly simple as Leah had somewhat of a height advantage on her. “Jesus Fatin, really?” Leah caught up, yanking her back with a hand on her shoulder. “What is your problem?” 

She gasped when Fatin pushed her against the wall, hands twisted in her shirt much as they had on the island. “I don’t know. What the fuck could be wrong with me Leah? Maybe it was the fact I’m not sure if last night actually happened? Maybe it’s the fact you left me to wake up in a creepy ass bunker on my own? Or,” Fatin paused, hurt written evidently across the frown lines on her forehead. “Maybe it’s the fact that I didn’t know where the fuck you were for the past hour. Dots looking, I’m looking,” She dropped her grip on the shirt, arms falling limply to her side. “Was it seriously so fucking hard to wake me up and say where you were going?” 

“I don’t know Fatin, maybe it is,” And Leah knew what she had to do. Sell any argument that wasn’t the truth. Wasn’t anything to do with the fact she couldn’t look her in the eye without thinking about that kiss. Couldn’t wake up to Fatin without wanting to repeat that exact moment. “Maybe I didn’t want to discuss theories again in case you all looked at me again like I’m fucking insane. Maybe, for once I just wanted to talk it through with someone who believed me, without even knowing me. Did you think of that?” 

Fatin recoiled, hand darting out as if she wanted to console her before it quickly dropped to her side. “I believe you. I believe you, Leah.” 

“Now,” Leah finished. “You believe me now. After everything, after all that time only now do you guys believe me,” Her voice broke around the words.

And it was true. Although the line was only meant as a distraction it was also exactly what had been on her mind. Sure, there was a lack of evidence, but as Fatin herself had said, they never even tried to understand, did they? No, they wrote Leah off as she spiralled deeper and deeper. Never bothered to humour her even as she attempted time and again to take her own life because she had to be delusional. Had to be wrong.” 

“Leah,” 

“No, it’s fine. We should grab something to eat from the vending machine or whatever’s left in the food store that Gretchen hasn’t raided.” 

Fatin frowned but followed her to get everyone they filtered into the main hall, sitting under that god-forsaken disco ball with packets of crisps and the odd chocolate bar. 

 

 

 

Raf had been correct. He held little sway in the conversation, most of the other boys simply speaking louder to drown him out, ascertaining that no one should leave the building, even with their fears. One seemed to think because he had ‘coded the HTML’ on his tumblr page, that he was proficient enough to break into the north wing, a delusion Leah found too humorous to even bother debating, Fatin raising her own brow with a smile. 

But the girls had agreed with her. They wanted out.

Whether that was because they trusted Leah, or because like her this building brought more fear than hope she couldn’t be sure. However, it was agreed all of them would head out, in sets of two and one of three. One set in each direction from the bunker. They would bring a bag filled with shredded paper and markers left by the team to lead their way and then follow it back prior to sunset, the intention being, to be back before dark. 

The boys were correct on that front, no one knew what was in these woods.

“So it’s Toni with Martha, me with Shelby and Rachel, and Fatin with Leah?” Dot summarised.

“Yes, I say pack what we can from the vending machine, the guys seem to be hiding shit already and we need to look out for ourselves,” Leah added. She had seen the boys already stashing things in draws left in rooms they didn’t think she’d check. Whilst she understood the need to protect themselves it was clear that ‘themselves’ didn’t include the girls.

 

 


The girls had buddied up and were all now sharing spaces in case the locks did go. Beds had been dragged into rooms so they could share, yet Fatin had never slept in her own bed that now sat across from Leah’s. They had just shared. 

“You’d think Gretchen could at least leave us with a better clothing selection.” Fatin noted, peeling through the minimal options she had before pulling on a plain white t-shirt and blue hoodie. The sweatpants she put on hung loose across her hips in a way that had Leah gawking a little too apparently. 

“Like what you see Rilke?” She grinned smugly. 

Swallowing hard, Leah chose once again to simply change the fucking subject. “We should leave now, get a head start and get in some more distance.” Leah and Fatin were heading up the left side of the island along the shoreline there but it appeared from a distance to be filled with thick forestry.

Fatin seemed to shake the previous thought out of her head, the smug smile there only moments ago now replaced with a frown.

“Sure.” 

Chapter Text

Fatin POV


As the girls stepped out of the building, they were glad they had all taken all the provisions needed with them. A couple of beds had even been carried down and out the door by Dot and Shelby, their metal frames dismantled and hidden with a few other handy items under an overhanging part of the building where they would remain dry. It was simply spares from empty rooms but if the boys locked them out, they at least had a backup plan. 

Their survival came first. 

Whilst Leah confided in Raf, she wouldn’t lend that trust to a single other person from his group and Fatin barely even trusted him. In fact, if she was being honest, he was probably the one she despised the most. Not out of a lack of trust but due to the simmering jealousy she refused to acknowledge anytime they were together. Glances between him and Leah that felt as if they were laced with something else. More.

Glances that made Fatin wish they could go back to before. Even if before was that hell hole island, because there it was just her and Leah. Reliant on each other. Caring for each other. 

Fatin had barely seen Leah lately. By lately she obviously meant the past hours, but to her, that felt like a decade at least. Not that she was being dramatic… (She was.)

“Kirin and Scotty are actually kind of hot.” Rachel had said before they parted. “I wonder if I should ask them to lend me a hand sometime?”

The words floated around in her head as she thought about just how many of them were Leah’s type? Fatin had no clue of her dating history -other than her pensioner of an ex- so she had zilch of a basis for figuring out who she would go for. 

At least they were all under forty.

Fatin had made the grave mistake of thinking that they had something -that Leah thought they had something- when they kissed. But since this morning Leah had barely so much as glanced at her, flinching whenever they were in close proximity. She had even tried to join another pairing before Shelby had insisted that Leah and Fatin go together, shooting her a look that said she knew they had shit to work out. 

How Shelby had somehow contracted Fatin’s bullshit detector was beyond her. Texas could sniff out gay drama like Perez.

 

 

So now, an hour in -Leah examining trees on occasion just in case they were being watched- she was done with the damn silent treatment. 

“If you have shit you want to say, say it,” Fatin spoke, arms folded as Leah still avoided her. 

“I don’t know what you mean,” 

She bit her tongue; Leah had always been a crap liar. Her voice wobbled and her eyes darted around giving away the fact she knew exactly what she meant. This new post island Leah was different; confident. Assured. But she still had a flightiness to her, anxiety under the façade that left her picking at her brow or tugging at her cardigan. 

Anxiety Fatin could read with her eyes closed at this point.

“Yes, you do,” Fatin yanked the bag off her shoulder and turned Leah until her body faced her own. “So, spit it the hell out.” 

Gnawing on her lip, Leah still refused to meet her eye-line, eventually moving to pick at her brow before Fatin swatted the hand away (probably harder than was required.) 

“Jeez. Fatin, I don’t,” 

“Leah, we kissed. Your tongue was quite literally in my mouth last night. Then I wake up and you’re AWOL and you spend the whole morning treating me like I have the plague, or chlamydia, or some shit.” 

“I think it’s super rare to get the plague in 2022.” 

Of course, that's where Leah's mind goes.

“Not my point. You obvi have something you’re holding in so just like, swallow a mentos or something and spit it the fuck out.” 

“I’m not a bottle of coke Fatin. And that’s not,” Leah stammered, hands tugging at her hair. “That’s not the problem. I mean it is, but it’s not,” 

“If you regret it just say and we move on.” 

“I don’t regret it! Fuck.” Leah yelled. “For the record, I literally can’t stop thing about your hands up my shirt, and you’re not the only one who hasn’t had time for a fucking orgasm lately so can we please just drop it until we can at least get what we are doing on this island figured out?”

Fatin’s brain was still looping the words ‘hands up my shirt’ and ‘orgasm’ so she simply nodded and followed wordlessly behind Leah who she still couldn’t for the life of her figure out. For instance, did that mean she liked it? Or that she was just in serious need of an orgasm or touch and Fatin happened to be there? 

So, she followed and kept her mouth shut for the next three hours until they ended up at a waterfall. 

“It’s smaller than the last but still helpful to know it's here.” Leah had said, hand brushing the hair that had stuck to her muddy neck. 

“We should wash up. You look gross.” Fatin grinned. Leah did look a mess, mud caked around the creases of her smile lines, and leaves were lodged in her hair like some grimy constellation of foliage. Yet she still wanted to kiss her, still wanted to hold her close. 

“Trying to get me naked?” Leah laughed as she peeled off her top. 

And Fatin, Fatin Jadmani who had more sexual confidence than the people on this island combined one month ago, now stood slack-jawed as the girl sunk into the water. Her stomach turned, heart clenched as she watched Leah beaming under the spray. And Fatin? She perched on the side of the rocks; knees pulled into her chest as she watched on not quite wanting to ruin it. 

It was at that moment that Fatin realised she was well and truly fucked.

“Are you coming in or what?” Leah had finally said, five minutes later. 

“I’m good.” She wasn’t. Fatin was also covered in mud and sweat but the thought of having to be so near to Leah -sans much clothing- with neither acknowledging the past night, left her in a state of unease.

“Fatin, get in.” When she simply refused to move Leah began throwing water at her. A simple swish at first, the spray barely hitting her face. But then each arm movement grew until a tidal wave of water soaked her clothing. 

“You realise I have to wear this back still, right?” 

“Then you should have just got in to begin with.” Leah was laughing now, smile bright and a thousand miles away from the girl she was this morning. 

“Fine. Look away.” 

“Are you kidding? Fatin I literally saw your ass while you were peeing last,” 

“Look away perve!” 

“Jesus, fine.” Leah groaned. 

So she peeled off her clothing, hanging it over a rock the sun was hitting before slipping into the water in her underwear. She kind of wished she had brought underwear that covered far more with her on this trip, feeling oddly exposed to the girl that was swimming toward her. Fatin couldn’t remember ever having felt like that in her life. 

“Stop looking at me like that,” Leah said. 

“Like what?” 

“Like you’re now the one going dark on me. You’ve been in your head all morning.” 

“You’ve been acting like I don’t exist,” Fatin admitted quietly. That was the real issue, among many. Fatin was worried about the last words in the bunker that she had been left with. Brain obsessing over whether she would ever forgive her for not being on her side. For thinking that Leah was crazy, obsessive, wild. Whether she only kissed her in that moment on a whim, whilst Fatin was head over heels in love with her ass and unable to vocalise it.

“I didn’t mean to,” Leah paused, one hand eventually settling on Fatin’s bare hip as the other began lifting water to her cheeks, removing the dirt bit by bit with such tentative care that she felt a lump lodging itself in her throat, willing herself not to cry. “Lean back,” Leah turned her, encouraging her to lay flat against her chest as hands began to work through her hair. “You know when I woke up, I knew it would piss you off if I wasn’t there,” She began, fingertips rubbing at her roots. “And I still decided to leave because I was too in my head, couldn’t deal with you waking up because I didn’t know what the fuck to say.” Water dripped down her cheek as hands moved to wipe at her neck. “I convinced myself I needed to look around, and sure I did, but I could have told you that. Should have told you that. So, I’m sorry, for being like a total dick. You didn’t deserve that.” 

“You just mean a lot me, Leah.” Fatin stood back up, damp hair running down her chest. “There’s been so many times I’ve almost lost you. Because of shit I’ve done.” Fatin hiccupped. “That fucking night you overdosed, Dot found you first, then Shelby then literally everyone else before me because I was too pissed at you to take it seriously. Thought it was some attention shit. I left you. I was the last one to fucking turn up and Dot was there with fingers down your throat and I,” 

Tears were freely flowing down her cheeks now, each time Fatin wiped at them a flurry more would appear leaving tracks in the dirt that remained. “I thought I had lost you. And my last words were me threatening to kill you.” 

Leah gently wrapped her arms around her, pulling her in tight until Fatin could smell her hair, traces of the coconut shampoo from the bunker still lingering on it. She continued to cry, this time into her neck as Leah pulled her in closer. “Each time, every damn time I was so convinced that you were insane. And you suffered because I wouldn’t believe you... I’m so sorry Leah. That was all you needed, someone to listen, and agree... I couldn’t even give you that. I put you in danger because I didn’t listen,” 

“Fatin it’s fine.” 

“It’s not fine. It will never be fine. But I believe you now, and I will never not support you, okay?” Her voice broke, eyes wide and glossy as she pulled back to look at Leah, to ensure she knew that she meant every word.

“Okay,” She could feel Leah’s tears on her before she was being offered a hand and she was helping her out of the water, drying her down with Leah’s dirt smothered shirt. 

“You okay?” Leah searched her expression with the same look of worry Fatin normally reserved for her. 

“Yeah, like totes fine.” 

“Fatin,” 

“I’m fine,” She wasn’t. Wanted to put her lips on Leah’s, or pull her back into a hug so tight that she struggled to breathe. It would be a good way to die in truth, smothered by all things Rilke. 

“Let’s carry on for one more hour then head back.” 

 

 

Dirt. Trees. More dirt. 

They sighed as they headed back, there was nothing out here. The only promising thing was the sounds of rustling, some birds, and the waterfall they had found. Nothing else of use. 

“Do you think the others found anything better?” 

“Better like?” 

“Literally anything is better than the fuck all we’ve seen.” 

“True but,” She was cut off when Fatin’s cry rang out, loud and piercing to the point Fatin hadn’t realised it was herself it was coming from. 

“Shit.” Fatin groaned as she tried to put weight on the ankle she had just rolled on the rock. “Fucking shit balls holy fucking god why?” 

Leah was already at her side, hand around her waist as she helped her to hop over to a tree before easing Fatin down against the trunk. “Here, don’t move.” Leah was untying the shoelaces before pulling at the shoe in a way that shot pain through her like lightning. “Oh, you bitch,” Leah shot her a scowl. “Fuck, just leave it, it’s fine.” 

“It’s not fine and stop being a baby. Rachel made less noise when she lost her damn hand.” 

“Rude,” Fatin breathed in deeply, wincing as Leah shimmied the trainer from her foot again. “Leah seriously, fuck that’s painful,” She groaned. “Shit, just leave me here to die. My time has come, just don’t let Toni write my memorial that bitch can’t be trusted with selling my best qualities. It would be a half-hour speech on my ass.”

“There,” Leah inspected her foot before looking at the small number of medical supplies she had on her. “Well, it’s either sprained or broken.”

“Oh great, where is your highly accurate medical degree from?” 

“You know what? This is the last time I help your ass.” Leah was joking but looking concerned as she gnawed on her lip assessing her foot. “I’ll give you a piggyback, it’s not too far.” 

“Leah you are not,” 

“Oh, then what do you suggest because I’d love to hear it?” 

“You know I liked you more when you were less sarcastic.” 

“Get up and hop on.” Leah held out her hand helping her back to her feet. “Why are you looking at me like that?” 

“Like what?” 

“Like someone kicked a puppy.” 

“Because my foot hurts like hell,” Fatin spoke with an edge to her voice. 

Leah rose a brow, arms folded until she mumbled a small ‘sorry’ under her breath in response. 

“You good or do you want me to kiss it better or some shit?” 

“I wouldn’t be opposed,” 

“Jesus, just get on my back.” 

 

 

Suffice to say when they arrived back the girls were mutually amused to see Leah yelling at Fatin to ‘shut the fuck up or I’m dropping you.'

Fatin was not as amused, her foot throbbed and the only comfort was the fact she was tucked into Leah with her hands grasped around her neck for balance.

“You look like a koala.” Dot noted. “Like an incredibly sad Koala that just lost its home to global warming. 

“Fuck off.” Fatin bit, angry at the fact this is where she had to release Leah. 

“Just take her up to your room I’ll get it wrapped.” Dot added. 

‘Your room’ made her flustered in a way she’d never admit to. 

“Come on then, let’s get you tucked up honey for doctor Dorothy.” Though Leah spoke in a joking tone, Fatin swooned. 

God, she was gay.

Chapter Text


Leah POV

 

Leah peered through the door at Fatin who was laying on her bed, scowling at her ankle. Her brow furrowed as she attempted to move it only just, before huffing and giving up entirely.

“Are you just going to stare at me like some creep or come in?”

Leah shook her head as she walked towards her and dropped a chocolate bar on her stomach unceremoniously; the weight of it landing with a slap against the bare skin where her shirt had ridden up. A fact she had zeroed in on almost as quickly as Fatin’s apparent irritation with her ankle. Had she always had abs?

“Rachel’s group found somewhere that works for camp… If we must leave. It’s high up with a view of the beach on one side and should hopefully have access to the waterfall.” 

“I can’t walk far.” 

“We can’t stay. The guys they’re,” 

“On edge.” 

That was one way to put it. One had almost bit off another's head the other night over a missing shirt. “There’s just this tension none of the girls feel comfortable around. But Dot found another bunker, its far smaller with only a few rooms, I’m assuming it was a storage or mid-point facility by the crap they said had been left there, but if we move some of the beds and shit it’s not far away if rescue comes and it’s our own turf. It seems to have its own generator too, there are lights and water. Not much else but it’s something.”

“Okay.” 

“You sure?” 

“We don’t really have a choice. It’s kind of like when The Kardashians had all that bad blood with the Rob and Khloe debacle and all ended up in like sexy, brand-new mansions. Except our Rob is like a group of loud ass guys. And like, no mansion, obvi, but a bitch can dream, right?” Fatin sighed at the thought. “We could team up with the guys but each time we talk they don’t let us get a word in. It’s a pissing match that I’m not wanting to be surrounded by until we get rescued. The only plus was the roof over our heads but if there’s a roof there we may as well move. Plus, they’re argumentative as fuck it’s draining my aura.” 

“I’ll tell Raf where we are though. We can trust him.” Leah added. 

“Lee,” 

Leah swallowed at the nickname coming from annoyingly perfect lips. “No, he can be trusted; should rescue come he can point them to us should we not hear them arrive. Plus, they may need us, who knows why but they may. It would be risky to cut them off entirely.” 

“Fine.” Fatin sighed, reaching out with grabby hands until Leah finally gave up and got into the bed with her. “How’s your foot?” 

“Dot said it’s just a sprain. Hurts like a bitch though.” 

She began carding her fingers through Fatin’s hair, it was now soft and silky from the massively improved shower products in the bunker, falling effortlessly between her digits. It felt soothing, though Leah’s mind looped on whether it was appropriate to touch her best friend like this or if it was too much. Too far. “You know you mean a lot to me too, right?”

Well saying that certainly wasn’t helping either.

Leah knew it came out of nowhere because she flinched slightly against her. 

“You know that right?” She tried again a minute later. 

“I,” Fatin’s jaw hung slack as she stared up at her, before snapping it shut and swallowing hard, eyes glazed over in a way that wasn’t common for her.

It had never occurred to Leah that Fatin could ever be insecure. Fatin walked on a red carpet back home; people clinging to any information they could attain about her to pedal to each other in the hallways between classes. What she was wearing, what her dad had bought her that week, whose party she was at the last, who she was fucking, what she was eating, Juilliard. 

Fatin was the E! News chosen subject of the entire school. 

So the fact she was looking at Leah now- like she was broken over something… Something that involved Leah Rilke who no one talked about -even when she was hit by a damn car- was odd. Like the tables had somehow reversed since they landed on this island. The island had not levelled the social table but tilted it in its entirety, creating this odd dreamscape she couldn’t bring herself to wrap her mind around. It was like when people said college changes people, and Leah was always sceptical about just how true that was, yet the island gave her a glimpse of that almost. How without the need for a social hierarchy everyone was quite simply, themself.

Fatin was worried Leah didn’t care for her. So much so her hand trembled against her stomach, Leah stilling it with her own as her breath caught.

Eventually, she snapped out of her mind long enough to bring a palm up to her cheek, leaning in until she could taste the toothpaste on Fatin’s mouth. Fatin didn’t try to escalate it, instead, she simply pulled Leah further down the bed until they were level, then continued with slow, leisurely kisses that made Leah’s mind spin. Gone were the worries this meant little to Fatin because Leah could feel it. In every tug of her hair, in every nip at her lip, and light moan that came from her. Fingertips grazing parts of her she hadn’t been aware of since him, like the hollow of her ear, the V of her hip. Small things that made her mind spin let alone when it was at the hands of Fatin who was always there to catch her.

Fatin wasn’t kissing her with a goal to get off or in a rushed moment of heat. She was kissing her lazily because of the comfort it brought them both. It didn’t necessarily mean more though, that Leah was aware of. It didn’t make them anything whatsoever. But at that moment, Fatin’s breath hot against her cheek, peppermint on her tongue, it meant something. Even if fleetingly so.

They spent two hours that evening, simply exchanging kisses, gentle caresses of cheeks and stomachs, no words passing between them. Just the same intense looks Fatin had given her since before they left the island, the same need for proximity that became apparent when Leah rose eventually to grab Fatin’s painkillers, Fatin whining like a brat at the fact she had dared to move more than a meter away until she sunk back beneath the covers, Fatin quickly drifting off in her arms. 

And Leah wasn’t sure how she felt as she gnawed on her lip, mind running with every thought of each touch. Because it was never this way with Jeff. Perhaps it was the line between love and infatuation, but Jeff always felt off. Someone she could never truly attain, someone she hid or always expected something from her she couldn’t -shouldn’t- give. Then again Jeff Galanis was -as Fatin had so politely put it- ‘old enough to be the mother fucking crypt keeper.’

Fatin was miles from that. 

She felt right. 

Right as she snored lightly in her embrace, her hand under the pillow holding Leah’s own. Right as she breathed out her name contently before she fell asleep and as she cared for Leah on the first island, as she made her eat and brush her teeth. So fucking right even back in school -moments Fatin would absolutely never remember- but Leah could recall even today. Times she leant her things, worked together on a project, fleeting moments that would have meant nothing to her but still sat in her memory because to Leah, for some reason, they did. Recitals Fatin did in the student assemblies and moments she passed by asking Leah to vote for someone else in some contest she couldn’t remember. 

No, Fatin Jadmani had always been there. Apparent to Leah Rilke. 

And it was only now Leah figured out that perhaps she held a similar place in Fatin.

 

 

 

“You’re still here.” 

Three words that simultaneously shattered and mended Leah Rilke’s heart. 

“Of course I am. Where would I go? To hop in Dot’s bed? She doesn’t let me warm my feet on her like you do.” 

“That’s because they’re icicles. I legit think there are corpses with better circulation than you.” Fatin grinned, arms stretching out as she sat up. “What time are we heading out today?” 

“Dot, Rachel, and Martha will be up already, they were going to move the first beds alone, hoping we don’t draw too much attention.” 

“So we?” 

“Can lay in.” 

“Ugh, music to fucking my ears.” 

“You know if I knew you were so easy to please I wouldn’t have bothered feeding you snacks last night from the good stash.” 

“Oh no baby,” Fatin smiled smugly. “The way to a woman’s heart is always through her mouth. Or you know, her,” 

Leah smacked her arm before she could finish the sentence, heart clenching at that one particular word. 

“Well, aren’t you two looking awful cosy?” Shelby beamed from the door, Toni simply frowning in confusion at the remark before jumping onto the bed alongside them and stealing the single pack of Taki’s Fatin had hidden under the pillow. 

“Bitch they’re mine! I’m sick, it’s a reward whore.” 

“You’re not sick you’re just whiny. It’s a sprain. Rachel lost her hand and complained less.” 

“That’s exactly what I said,” Leah added. 

“God give the girl some love she’s wounded.” Shelby tutted at Toni whose face was now a subtle shade of orange from Taki dust. Leah noted they seemed closer again, the distance between the two slowly reducing. Occasionally she caught glimpses of Toni playing with the stubble on Shelby’s head. Toni rubbing it like a homosexual Magic 8 Ball, and the only answer written on Shelby’s face each time was clearly her imagining the girl’s tongue down her throat. It was cute if not extremely fucking gay.

“Exactly. I’m not above prying those out of your mouth with my tongue Shalifoe.” 

“So gross dude.” Toni mumbled. 

Shelby simply rolled her eyes but shot Fatin a look that Leah immediately took note of. One that said she was communicating about a known subject she wasn’t in on. However, a broad smile suddenly worked its way across her face, so Fatin seemingly gave her the answer she wanted with a subtle nod of her head.

“We were thinking of leaving soon if you two want to join?” Shelby questioned. 

“I need to get in one last shower first and then I’m all yours.” Fatin grinned, hopping to grab a change of clothes. “Buddy system?” 


With a barely noticeable tilt of her chin Leah was following behind, until she stood with her back toward the curtain as Fatin stood under the stream. “I’m so gonna miss this.” She moaned. “Ugh, showers, why the hell are we giving this up again?” 

“Dot said the bunker has running water. Who knows maybe there’s a shower there, we hardly pried them for details. We heard 'roof' and 'water' and agreed before they could get anything else in. Plus, the waterfall is near.” 

“The waterfall is cold; I want steam, Leah. Hot, boiling my skin steam.” 

“Okay, gross.” 

As Fatin pulled the curtain across Leah handed her a bundle of clothes, averting her eyes even though she was wrapped completely in a fluffy towel, the sound of one of the crutches they had found Fatin rubbing against the tiled floor as she struggled to get dressed, groaning every now in pain. “Need any help?” 

“No, I’m good. At least we can bring these with us,” 

Before Leah could question what ‘these’ were Fatin had thrown the towel at the back of her head. 

“Are you serious?” 

“Just go shower, Rilke.” 

“Fine,” Leah turned around, then stilled. 

Fatin wasn’t sure what she was staring at, she was now entirely clothed and her wet hair dripped down her tee. “What?” 

Leah just shook her head, trying to get the image of Fatin looking overly domestic out of her brain. Of picturing things together they’d probably never have even if they made it back. “Nothing, look away.” 

 

 


Fatin POV

 

It ended up taking them four trips filled with bickering, dehydration, and more sweat and dirt than anyone would care to admit to in order to get them set up at the new mini bunker. Fatin being the wounded human she was, only did one. A fact that Leah had rolled her eyes at and grunted out an ‘of course you’re getting out of this shit fest’.

“Home sweet fucking home!” Toni yelled before placing dibs on a room that she and Martha were sharing. Dot took the next with Rachel leaving Shelby standing awkwardly with Fatin as Leah moved beds into the last room. 

“So, I need to decide which room huh?” Shelby paced anxiously. 

“Is Toni a,” 

“A definite no. For now.” There was a hope in her voice that said perhaps not forever, the same hope she’d seen in Toni’s gaze as she awaited Shelby choosing a room five minutes prior only to be met with silence. 

“So, it’s between,” 

“You guys or Dot and Rachel,” Shelby pondered before lowering her voice to a whisper. “Do I want to room with you and Leah though?” 

“What do you mean?” 

“Drop the act.” Shelby placed her hand on Fatin’s shoulder. “Ditto bitch, different her.” She recited with a knowing smile. 

“And?” Fatin winced.

“And I don’t want to room with y’all if you’re pulling a me and Toni.” 

“I don’t think that’s a problem.” 

“So, you two aren’t… together.” 

Fatin baulked, eyes widening as she checked over her shoulder to see if anyone heard. “God no we’re not sleeping together, it’s not, she’s not, we aren’t, it’s just,” 

Shelby gloated at the sight of Fatin becoming a complete mess of thoughts.

“I never said you were sleeping together. I just meant if there’s even potential that I’m catching either of you with a tongue in one another’s mouth, I’m gonna need The Lord to wipe that from my brain.”

“You may want to room with Rachel and Dorothy.” Fatin muttered, because yes that was a possibility. 

“Hey guys, you decide where you're rooming Shelby?” Leah dropped a mattress and pillow in front of her. 

 
“With Dot and Rach.” Shelby tried to restrain an all-knowing smile as she looked at Fatin. “We’ll carry on this conversation later.” And then she fucking winked. 

Was she trying to get her crucified? 

“What was that about?” 

“Nothing.” It came out far too abruptly for Leah to believe it.

“You sure? Seemed like something.” 

“Oh, is that my pillow? Let me help you with that.” Fatin was hopping off towards the room as if a fire was burning at her ass, supported only by the crutch under her arm as Dot’s voice boomed behind her.

“Did I just see that bitch doing manual labour?” 

 

 

 

The evening was filled with them hunched around a fire they built near the bunker. 

However, this time it felt more carefree. Even if they were trapped here the building was a step up. They had a roof, backup food and mattresses to cushion their sleep. There was even a single somewhat warm ‘shower’; a basic hose with no pressure that hung on the outer wall. In comparison? A far less shit hell hole. 

Martha seemed livelier; her wheelchair was now redesignated to Fatin whilst she wasn’t using the ugly crutches they sourced in the back of what they assumed was a med bay. The spare room in the bunker became storage, for medical supplies, random office supplies or things they found in the emptied rooms that there was even a chance of being useful. 

They weren’t assholes though. They left half of the shit for the boys. 

Except for when it came to soap and shampoo. Though she would never admit it Fatin’s hand may have slipped whilst portioning that. Greatly. Most of the boys had hardly any hair anyway, it was like realigning years of differences after pink tax. 

 

 

So that night Fatin curled up with Leah in her arms, their two beds now wedged together in a crappy makeshift twin. “What aren’t you telling me?” 

“Oh, so now you’re ready for me to pile into you with all my crazy theories?” 

“Look I get it, I do. I’m like a total dick, but I’m trying.” Fatin swallowed. “Right now, that’s more than I can say about you.” 

Leah rolled over; anger written on her face. “I’m not trying? You realise I just tried to rescue you all right? Like you realise Gretchen would have done God knows what to us? Sure we’re still on the island but at least she’s gone.” 

“That’s not what I mean.” Fatin deflated. 

“Then help a girl out and tell her what the hell you do mean.” 

“I,” Fatin recoiled at the rage in Leah’s voice. “I just mean,” A tear ran its way down her cheek, Fatin quickly wiping it before she hoped Leah could notice it. 

“I’m sorry that was kind of shitty of me.” Leah broke. 

So, she had seen it. Fuck. 

“No, it was deserved. I just, I mean it when I say words will never describe how sorry I am. But I believe you now and I want to be here for you too. You don’t have to deal with your theories on your own anymore.” Shouldn’t have ever had to in the first place.

“I get that. But there’s also this feeling now, whenever I do go to vocalise something that even I think I’m fucking crazy. Even though I was right I just still feel like this whole thing is in my fucking head,” Leah’s voice cracked. “And I can’t go back there Fatin. Mentally, I can’t do it.” 

Fatin wrapped her arm around her, pulling Leah in close. “And you don’t have to. If you go down, I go down with you okay? Together. So please tell me, because I know you know something. I can feel it.” 

“This is going to sound totally insane, but I think whether we intended to or not, were still being watched.” 

Fatin listened, with fingers trembling and clenched in Leah’s shirt as she told her about the control group. Told her about wealthy benefactors and doners, about what she thought this was all for. 

“I think Nora is still alive.” 

“Leah, why?” 

“Gretchen said some things. She could be bluffing but nothing of Nora ever washed ashore on either island. Surely, we would have found something. The tide was heading in and yes, I’m assuming she had access to divers just in case shit like this happened. I mean, someone had to plant the plane box off the shore, someone had to plant all the evidence that did wash up and enter and leave the island. And Nora just…” 

“Vanished.” 

“She could have drowned. It’s possible and it’s exactly why I won’t say anything to Rachel or the other girls. But there’s a chance…” 

“She’s the one in the control room.” 

Leah nodded. “Raf seemed to think it was some guy. We need to head back at some point soon, cover as many details between groups as we can but the thing is Gretchen had two people watching us in our group. Jeanette… Nora. She must have had two in theirs to keep it even. At least.” 

“So, you think,” 

“The person in the control room is unlikely the only one watching and manipulating us on this island. And if Gretchen didn’t take them with her, people who had intel, it’s only for one reason.” 

“She’s still got us all in play.” 

“This island is just another stage of testing.” 

“Shit.” 

“She didn’t catch me on calling Ian though. There’s no way she could have known any of that. Gretchen is a shit actress and she looked… scared.” 

“Wait,” Fatin added. “Who’s Ian?” 

“My best friend. Actually, he had music class with you at one point before he changed to literature. Scrawny blonde guy I hang out with.” 

“Oh,” Fatin winced because Leah had chosen to call him. “Didn’t you say one night that he kissed you?” Fatin wanted to punch Ian in the dick.

“Yeah, but I think that was just a misunderstanding. He’s the only person I would trust with this.” 

She shook off the implication that Leah knew he was the only person that would believe her. And he wasn’t even on the island. 

“Well then, we can hope they’re on their way, and just be thankful that bitch didn’t think to move us.” 

“Yeah.” Leah sighed. “Sleep. We need to start setting up tomorrow and we’re basically back at square one.” 

“Fuck, meaning I have to do laundry again?” 

“Sleep.” 

“But Leah,” Fatin whined. 

“Oh my god sleep.” Leah rolled back to face the other way, but before Fatin could complain was grabbing her hand, intertwining it with her own then wrapping it around her waist. 

Fatin nuzzled her nose into her neck, sighing contently as she gently placed a kiss there. God, she was going soft. “Night crazy.” 

“Night asshole,” Leah chuckled back. 

Chapter Text

Fatin POV

 

When she awoke it was to an empty pillow and the long since cold side of the bed where Leah clearly hadn’t been for a good while. 

Fatin tensed her hands so hard that her nails bit into her palms and rolled, screaming into her pillow. 

It was shitty. 

Fatin thought they at least had an understanding that saying goodbye was needed. Instead, she was left alone and had to get up and figure out where the hell Rilke had pissed off to yet again. 

Throwing clean clothes on she hopped out into the shared space they had decided was a ‘living room’; a shitty concrete room filled with chairs and dust. There sat a few books they had found abandoned in the back room here (most decades old) and a bowl that now appeared to be filled with fruit. 

“We have,” 

“Fruit.” Shelby smiled. “Leah went out with Dot early, turns out we have more choices here at least. She also said to tell you that she didn’t want to wake you as you’d woken up during the night and she wanted to let you lay in.” Shelby handed her a banana. “She also left this and,” Followed by an enamel cup filled with coffee. “This.” 

“She’s relinquishing some of the coffee stash? I thought Dot said that was for special occasions.” 

“Leah basically chewed her ear off about you having a rough night until she agreed to part with a cup. She went into that full-on intense subtle rage mode.” Shelby grinned. “I think she’s just as soft with you as you are with her. God queer folk are so dang sappy.” 

“Shut up.” Fatin hid her grin behind her mug as she took a sip. It didn’t make up for waking up alone entirely, but she at least did it out of care. 

God did she have to be so cute? This was definitely that feeling cavewomen got when their husbands brought home a lion or some shit. On Martha it was hot as hell, but Leah? Mixed with the totally in love fuckery?

She would consider a proposal at this point.

“Morning.” Toni grabbed the mug off her, taking a sip. “Bitch, that’s mine.” 

“What happened to sharing with the collective?” Toni gasped, faking offence. “Don’t you love me anymore? Rude.” 

Grabbing her coffee back Fatin waited for Shelby to scold her but instead, a palpable tension filled the air. Well, that was new. “Me and Shelby were just heading out to get some… wood and shit.” 

“Wood and shit?” 

But Shelby seemed to latch onto the opportunity for escape, already gripping her wrist and dragging her out the bunker, quickly throwing Fatin’s crutches into her hands. “Yep, gotta keep on top of things!" Fatin forced a smile. "You heard Dorothy yesterday don’t want her getting her panties in a twist!” 

“Her panties in a twist?” Shelby questioned once they were finally far enough away. 

“Thank a bitch for saving your ass. What was that anyway? I was feeling the cold shoulder worse than Leonardo in ‘Titanic’. Swear to god that iceberg has nothing on lesbian grief.” 

“I don’t know.” Shelby sighed. “Well, maybe I do.” A hand rubbed at her forehead. “I think me and Toni are still off. But then she looks at me a certain way or does things like giving me her last dang Taki and I don’t know if that’s a ‘hey we can be friends’ olive branch or if it’s some sort of gay girl code for should we give this another try, you know?” 

“A Taki?” 

“Her last Taki, Fatin!” 

Fatin swallowed her laughter down knowing that Shelby was a girl who most definitely could pack a punch if she wanted to. Those twig-like arms were pure muscle. “Sorry, it’s just,” Fatin groaned, girl talk was not her area, in fact, prior to the island she avoided it at all costs. “Maybe she’s worried about you still. Like, shit, only weeks ago you were boning and whatnot, Adam and Eve style, bare asses deep in fucking twigs and dirt and…” Fatin whirled around to face Shelby, almost hitting her with a crutch. “How the fuck have neither of you had like a UTI or some shit? I fuck more than two guys a week and those things pop up like spam advertisements on porn sites.” 

“That’s your question? Fatin you’re meant to be helping me right now not going full WebMD on me.” 

“Okay. But seriously how?” 

“I am not telling you this,” Shelby yelled. “But the Taki, Fatin!” She was still yelling. “What the frick does that mean?” 

Shelby looked on the verge of a mental breakdown which with her history shouldn't be too bad as she had no more hair to lose at this point. “Look, I’m not here to say it means anything but anyone with eyes can see that Toni cares for you. Whether she wants to or not, in some shape or form; she cares. The way she still gets you a jacket when you shiver or feeds you a stray fucking Taki or just the way she looks at you. Now I don’t know what that care is, but on some level, be it as a friend or as a gal who wants to take you once again to pound town… That bitch cares.” 

“Please never say pound town ever again,” Shelby muttered. “But thank you.” She sighed as they stopped. “This is where I casually ask about what is happening between you and Leah?” 

Fatin sucked her lip between her teeth, she had no clue what was happening between her and Leah. 

“She uh, she still doesn’t trust me, which I get. And it’s not like I can undo that, you know how I treated her.” 

“How all of us treated her Fatin, not just you. All of us.” 

“Yeah, well, I still get it.  It’s deserved. All I can do is try to change that now, hope she comes around to not having to keep everything in that annoyingly cute head of hers.” 

“Annoyingly cute?” 

“Oh, you’re loving this aren’t you?” Fatin groaned. “Yes, she’s annoyingly cute. Even when I thought she was crazy, I still thought everything she did was endearing in some way or other, like god, that stupid fucking bamboo pipe playing with the slutty lounge gal intro?” Shelby nodded so she continued, “Oddly made me want to kiss the hell out of her. Or the time she literally assaulted me on the beach, which I’m kinky sure, but that? Totally didn’t think that was a thing for me but Leah Rilke angry? She’s like a less creepy Christian Grey. Like fuck me, the intensity of those eyes had me pretty much ready to rip off my underwear.” 

“So, you’re just never going to tell her this? You realise you could just make a move, right?” Shelby grinned. “I think you once told me I had to do exactly that. It's not like we're going anywhere anytime soon.” 


“Well Shelby, I’m not closeted. Actually, I suppose I am but not intentionally. Should a bitch ask I’m an open book on my apparent queerness. However, I’ve technically kissed her. Like obvi a lot. So, at least I’m doing something.” 

Shelby’s jaw hung open as she stared at her in shock. “I’m sorry you’ve what now?” 

“I mean, only on two occasions. But they were insane make-out sessions; Trevor from the basketball team back home has zilch on Leah’s tongue game.” 

“Gross but,” Shelby rested her hands on Fatin’s cheeks. “I am so proud of you. Look at you getting your gal.” 

“Uh, sorry, I can just turn back if I’m interrupting or something,  but Dot wanted me to tell you all that we’re having a ‘bonding breakfast’ or something.” Leah awkwardly shifted her weight as she looked anywhere but at Fatin who was still standing with Shelby’s hands on her cheeks. “That was all I had to say so I’m just gonna,” Leah shook her head then turned to walk speedily away. 

“Fuck,” 

“Sorry,” Shelby winced. 

“I’m just gonna go chase Rilke down.” 

“Probably best,” Shelby admitted. 

 

“Leah!” 

Where the hell did that girl go? 

It certainly didn’t help that using crutches on uneven turf was a total god damned nightmare, the tips getting wedged between fallen branches or soft mud.

Fatin stopped and listened, eventually following in the direction of the woods she had gone -oddly not in the direction of the camp- until she saw Leah’s form crouched by a tree. 

She slumped down in front of her, crutches thrown down at her side. “Are you gonna say what that was all about?” 

“What?” 

“The whole Forest Gump marathon you just took me on into the woods.” 

“I didn’t think you’d follow.” 

Fatin knelt and leaned forward, a thumb prying Leah’s lip from between the teeth that were chewing it. “Nothing’s going on between me and Shelby.” 

“I didn’t think,” 

“Yes, you did. And I’m telling you that there is nothing there. Texas isn’t my type anyway.” Fatin wiggled her brow. “I like my women a li-ttle crazy.” 

“Fuck off.” 

Fatin tugged on Leah’s collar; breath hot on her lips before pulling her in. Leah hummed happily against her, a hand gripping her neck as she deepened it. But then Leah was stilling. 

“Promise me, you’re not interested in her like that.” There was a hesitance, a reservation to the tone of her voice that chipped away at Fatin’s heart. Had she delved into why Leah’s voice took this tone perhaps she would have spiralled herself, but Fatin had a habit of being completely oblivious to any emotion directed at her.

“Leah you’re the only person on this entire island that I want.” She left out the rest. Probably this world. That I need. Because I’m totes head over heels in love with your ass. Missed out on the fact that if she really understood the tone of Leah’s question, she would have known Leah may have felt exactly the same way.

“Okay,” Leah whispered, pulling Fatin’s head in with a force that meant their teeth clashed, Fatin reaching to support herself on the rough bark of the tree behind Leah’s back, the edge of it scratching almost painfully into her palm. But hand’s kept pulling so to stop herself from falling she climbed onto Leah’s lap, knees straddling her waist as she grabbed fistfuls of her shirt, deepening the kiss in hopes that Leah got it. She was literally all she wanted. 

That should scare Fatin really. The fact that she wanted nothing more than to get home because she wanted to be able to hold Leah’s hand in the hallways. Wanted to see her change her Facebook status or share dumb ass couple photos of themselves on Instagram. She wanted to meet Leah’s parents and even Ian, though him more so to size him up. Bury her jealousy. 

She retreated slightly, dropped kisses to Leah’s cheeks, her neck, her nose, before meeting her mouth again. The passion in her gut boiling over into her every emotion because never had she wanted more, yet she wanted Leah. 

But then Leah’s hands were on her waistband, thumb barely dropping inside the elastic and a ‘Do you want to?’ was filling the air and all she could say was-

“No,” 

And Leah looked shocked, saddened almost as hands instantly retreated and Fatin got why. Because Fatin was obsessed with sex, hadn’t stopped talking about orgasms and had propositioned Dot more times than they could count (realistically it was in the hundreds.) Yet here she was saying ‘no’ and she could see Leah’s brain turning, churning out thoughts of why she wasn’t wanted, or good enough. Leah Rilke was hardly a closed book, any time her mind spun her eyes got huge and dark like her theories were some kind of drug she couldn't distance herself from.

So, Fatin kissed her again, so fucking hard until they were struggling to catch their breath. “I said no because I don’t want to rush shit, okay? No other reason.” Maybe one, that was the first but the second was the fact Leah still mentally sat on the edge. Fatin had risked the girl’s life more times already than she cared to count. She wouldn’t be responsible for a third attempt. No, Fatin fully intended to protect her at all costs. Even if that meant the loss of an orgasm anytime soon.

“Oh,” 

Fatin smiled as Leah’s brain seemed to ponder a new route now. The fact that Fatin wanted to wait. “Yeah, so,” Fatin tapped Leah’s hand. “Keep that thought because one day I’m gonna collect on that offer. But for now, I kind of just want your tongue back in my mouth doing that,” Fatin was cut off by Leah carefully turning her onto the ground with a laugh, mouth soon on her own. 

It was annoyingly fucking perfect. 

 


 


“Why are you staring at Leah like that?” Dot sat down by her next to the fire. 

“What?” 

“You’re just looking at her like some proud father or some shit.”

“She seems happy right?” Fatin pondered as they watched Leah laughing with Rachel across the fire. 

“She does.” 

“Good.” 

“Are you going sappy on us finally? Did we break thee, Fatin Jadmani?” 

“Ew, gross, no. I’m just, proud of you all or something icky like that.” 

“Proud of us?” 

“Yeah,” Fatin breathed. “You’re all basically my family now, to have or to hold in sickness or in shark attack or whatever the god damned priest says in those crappy Hallmark films.” Fatin sucked in a breath. “But I’m proud as shit of all of you. About how far we’ve come even if we’ve just landed up in a new hell. But Leah especially, she’s…” Fatin stared at her, Leah using the banana as a mic as she peddled some speech to the others. “She’s so fucking strong.” 

Dot stared at her with a look she missed. One that darted between Leah and her as if finally catching on to something that had been there perhaps from the start. “Yeah, I’m proud of you guys too.” 

Fatin also missed the fact that as she watched Leah, a smile on her face as she bit her lip, that Dot was staring at her too. The same ‘proud dad’ expression on her face, shaking her head at the fact she was totally going to use this against Fatin later after her thousands of Mateo jokes.

Chapter Text

Fatin POV


Leah was not okay.

It was the next morning, presumably early as hell from the fact she felt glued to the bed, pulled from a dream she didn’t even care for but missed nonetheless. 

The first thing she noticed was a light whimper. The next was legs thrashing, followed by arms as her own eyes widened, gripping onto Leah’s form that was still in her arms. 

“Leah, Lee, hey, hey,” She spoke exceedingly firmly into her ear, gently rocking her until she awoke with a startle. “Hey, you’re okay, I’ve got you.” 

“Fuck,” Leah whispered, head dropping into Fatin’s neck where she could feel tears already beginning to dampen her collar. 

Fatin moved her fingers to her hair, running them through it as she whispered against Leah’s scalp. It was something that had started early on the first island, a habit that had morphed from friendly support to a companionship level of care that was just so much more. 

It was knowledge of how Leah needed to be curbed back down that she had gained from weeks of support. It was the first day after her overdose that Fatin refused to leave her side, tears flooding her face at such a rate Dot didn’t even dare ask her if she was okay or if she wanted to end her shift. Even after 24 hours she remained, brow furrowed as she watched the rise and fall of her chest, scared it would return to that night where it seemed far too still. It was days after her shark moment, Fatin bringing water to her lips and willing her to take just one sip. 

It was now where she spoke stories into Leah’s hair. Talking about random tales that popped into her head like when she accidentally taught her brother the words ‘thunder cunt’, a fact she was sure her mother still hadn’t forgiven her for, though his teacher had found it oddly amusing. Especially after Fatin’s mum had brought her daughter into the school to explain exactly where he had picked it up. She had even pulled her out of cello practice which was really a testament to just how entirely pissed she was. Though the month-long grounding -that she totally ignored- also hammered in that fact. 

But with each word Leah’s breathing slowed just a fraction more, until her hand was pushing under Fatin’s shirt, climbing higher until Fatin’s breath caught where fingertips traced over her bra. Leah hummed contently, still whimpering slightly as she laid her hand on Fatin’s heart. 

That wasn’t new, but in a way it was. 

Normally the hand feeling for her heartbeat was over her shirt, or fingers gently pressed into a pulse point. 

But this felt better. 

So much better because she felt like one soul with the girl who breathed in time with her. 

“You okay?” 

“No,” 

Well, at least she was honest. “Want to talk about it?” 

“I don’t know,” Leah rasped, her voice gravelly from the tears that now soaked through her shirt like a wet towel. 

“Leah, I’m not going to judge you.” She sighed, initially Leah always told her. She’d awake from a dream and the words would tumble from her mouth before Fatin could even ask. Yet now they were miles away from that point. She had seen it beginning at the first island, the way she grew more and more reserved each time the theories that popped up in her dreams were met with Fatin’s obvious disbelief. Disbelief she tried to hide, and to her credit often hid well, but nonetheless, was picked up on more and more with each new one. 

Disbelief that seriously packed a hit, that one particular day that sat bitterly in her stomach rising bile in her throat whenever she thought back to it. Her forearm pinning Leah to a rough cliff face, words like venom dripping from her mouth. 

“Fatin, it’s nothing. I’m good.” And she was pulling away, rolling over as her form caved in on itself, knees pulled to her chest. 

She knew better than to push her at this point. Instead, she followed, rolling over and wrapping her own arms around Leah until her breaths shallowed, chest rose heavily as sleep took over. 

Fatin never did go back to sleep. 

She spent the entire morning, hours on end, fingers brushing through Leah’s hair, occasionally moving her hand to her back whenever she whimpered or seemed to stir slightly, rubbing soothing circles that took her deeper, back into sleep. 

Tears streaked her cheeks, and Fatin was beginning to get considerably pissed at the waterworks that now seemed to be a continuous theme around Leah. 

She was meant to be strong. Meant to protect her not sit here crying. 

Fatin swallowed, throat sore as she dried them, still focussed on words that looped in her mind, ‘Fatin, it’s nothing. I’m good.’

 

 


When Leah did awake -what must have been hours later- she simply acted as if nothing had happened. 

Leah sat up, the backs of her hands rubbing at sore eyes before she noted that Fatin was already awake. Fatin who normally took hours to get out of bed was simply watching her with cheeks that Leah wasn’t sure if she was imagining; were puffier than usual. 

“I’m meant to be on food duty with Dot this morning.” 

Another lie, Toni was. Fatin knew this for a fact as she had drafted up the assignments with Dot. Had made sure that Leah was with her today. 

“Okay,” Fatin didn’t query it. Left Leah to hastily pull on clothes as she retreated like Fatin was made of shards of glass. 

 


 

Fatin instead spent the morning with Shelby gathering wood. Her crutches proved a real pain in the wetter areas where she felt remarkably like that horse in ‘The NeverEnding Story’, you know, the one swallowed alive brutally by the sinking sand. 

“Why are you all huffy with a stick up your rear today? You’re acting like all your horses fled their pen.” 

She wasn’t sure if that was a Texas saying, Jesus saying, or something Shelby had just made up on the fly but either way, she hated it. “I’m fine.” 

Shelby rose a brow, grasping at her arm until she stopped. “Let’s go sit on the beach okay?” 

“The crutches will probably be shit on the sand.” 

“Then I’ll give you a piggyback.” Shelby beamed, smiling then clapping like she was preparing herself for kick-off. 

“You know you’re awfully strange Texas.” 

“I could say the same about you.” 

 


And that was how they ended up on the beach, Shelby’s gaze remaining firmly on the waves even as she spoke. 

“Want to talk about it yet?” 

“No.” 

“Really? Because it might be good to get things off your chest. Lord knows feelings do nothing but grow when you bottle them up. I’m like the poster child for that one.” 

Fatin didn’t respond, not for five minutes at least, Shelby waiting silently beside her as if knowing she’d crack. 

And crack she did. 

Tears, stupid fucking tears, streaked her cheeks. “I abandoned her. I almost fucking killed her Shelby, I, I can never undo that.” Her hands tremored in her lap where they were clasped tightly in her shirt.

“You didn’t abandon her.” 

“I literally said I was done with her. Whilst she was sitting meters away, days after an overdose. She almost died and my stupid ass response was basically ‘yeah well, fuck you.’” 

Shelby hummed in response. “You also didn’t leave her side for the first two days, Fatin. You didn’t sleep; believe me, I noticed. Even before the whole ‘I love her’ moment. You watched her like a hawk, and after her sea fiasco, you never left her Fatin. Yes, you did at one point but with that much pain we all break at some point. Believe me, I had a friend that broke, because of something I did and I will never get to see her smile or laugh again because of that. I will never get a second chance but you have been given one. And you are not solely responsible for what other people have caused.” 

Fatin frowned at Shelby’s words. Trying to figure out if she meant what she thought she did, the thought explained a lot. Her forcibly peppy demeanor, her fear of being outed, the way she went full-on control after Toni almost got hit by the tree.  

“Leah clearly thinks worlds of you, even if in that one moment you let her down.” 

“It’s not just that though, I basically laughed in her face at theories that entire time, that were correct. I made her feel insane. I caused,” 

“Stop. Gretchen caused everything that happened on that dang island. Sure, we could have all done things differently but Leah… It’s not our fault we didn’t see it. It was just amazing that Leah did. That whole time. No one, no one could have added two and two and got Gretchen, but Leah did. You cannot continually blame yourself for not working out some contrived maniac plot that anyone would assume could never be possible. All we can do now, all you can do now, is be there for your girl, and show her that now you do believe her, and you will support her in any way you can.” Shelby poked her in the chest. “Which you have. I saw you acting like a married couple around the fire last night.” 

“I was that obvious?” 

“Just to me, I think. The girls are used to you being protective of Leah, I wouldn’t worry. Plus, they all think you’re straight, even if you propositioned Dottie a thousand times.” 

“I still can’t believe that bitch turned me down. Have you seen my ass?” 

Shelby’s howling laughter took her by shock, knocking her back momentarily as she stared at her in disbelief. “Fatin I’m gay and you walk around half the time in a bikini, of course I’ve noted your ass. But Dot is probably the straightest girl I’ve ever met, and I still don’t know how because she watched all of 'Pretty Little Liars' and I assumed the only reason anyone watched that was for the gay characters, because lord, was that show bad.”

Fatin’s jaw dropped. “I’m sorry that bitch is a Pretty Little Liars fan? What the fuck happened to Survivor this, Bear Grylls that?” 

“Oh, wait until you find out about the time I caught her listening to Taylor Swift in the bathroom during class.” 

“You’re shitting me? Shelby, you utter bitch you’ve been holding the fuck out.” 

 

 

Fatin felt lighter after her gossip session with Shelby. For the first time since island one, her mind felt calm. Blank. Happy and free kind of like she was at school lunch breaks sitting with friends. 

 

At least until she remembered Leah's words earlier.

 

Chapter Text

Fatin POV

 

It lasted until she got back to camp, where she couldn’t find Leah. 

Leah who came back hours later. Her brow was thinned in one spot to the point she now had that lesbian shaved brow vibe -Fatin would tease her about that later when less concerned- and her eyes were slightly erratic, momentarily distracting Fatin from the collection of branches in her hair. Dirt caked her cheeks, pairing with fresh spots of sunburn that hinted at the fact she had forgotten sunscreen again; not that Fatin was keeping track (she was.)

They sat around the fire where Shelby shot her a look of concern, one she mirrored back. All the girls apparently picking up on the same thing. 

Leah had that look like she was spiralling again. 

She pulled her aside, grabbed a towel and cloth, and took Leah to the outdoor shower point. Dabbing, she carefully removed the dirt from all exposed skin, making sure not to aggravate the sunburn on her arm that looked particularly nasty. Leah simply watched her, silently. Her mouth twitched on occasion before she shifted her jaw and squeezed her eyes shut; apparently not yet ready to talk. So, Fatin worked in silence, cleaned her with softness and care that screamed loudly of just how much Leah meant to her; not that she took notice of the fact. Leah Rilke missed every long gaze, the way Fatin dried her like she was scared she would break. Or the love she poured into washing her hair, picking every last branch out without question or complaint, even when her crutch started digging into her armpit, bruising the muscle there.

Eventually, they peeled off into their rooms. Fatin shut the door behind her, where Leah stood shifting her weight from one foot to the next. 

“Leah,” 

“I’m fine.” 

“You’re not.” 

“Fatin, I said I’m fucking fine.” It was said with a bite that had Fatin stepping back, before noting the fact she was crying again. 

God, they were all fucking crying today. 

She stepped forward, thumbs wiping at her cheeks as she spoke softly, “Want me to help you get into your pyjamas?” 

Leah nodded silently. It was another breakdown island habit Leah would never admit brought her peace. 

Fatin wordlessly grabbed some shorts made from sweatpants cut off at the thigh and a spare t-shirt. Then she appraised the situation, namely her crutches. She decided on dropping them, one foot off the ground as she pulled the shirt over Leah’s head, then her sweats down. There was nothing sexual in the act, she couldn’t care less that Rilke was standing in her underwear; hardly noted it. It was about the care, the comfort, and the support, something Fatin was rarely capable of prior to Leah. This need to guard and protect. It was occasionally there with her family; times her dad yelled a bit too much at her brother leading to a shouting match that echoed through the high ceilings of their house. But with Leah it was different; it was love on another level. A need to support her from fear of Fatin, herself, breaking if things went wrong. Because she simply couldn’t face the pain of seeing Leah hurt again. Wouldn’t.

Fatin cursed as she fell over, Leah staring down at her in her underwear, the previous look of blankness now filled with a slight smile as she bit her lip. “You okay there?” 

She pulled on her shorts and then waited for Leah’s hand to help her back up, tugging the shirt on over her head once she stood. 

“Want me to do you now?” 

Laughing, Fatin hit her with a crutch before hopping over the cupboard and pulling on her own clothes. She didn’t want Leah to think that for everything she did something was expected back. Fatin was just glad to get the one moment of being let into her world. 

She winced as she got into bed though; Leah had already hit the light and turned to sleep, signalling she was done with any form of conversation. 

So much for that then.

“I can hear your brain from here,” Fatin stated after a while of feeling her tossing and turning then huffing over something. 

“I’m fine.” 

“Leah,” 

“I’m fine.” 

Jesus fucking Christ.

Fatin had never hated two words quite as much as those. In fact, she was beginning to lose her shit at the prospect of hearing them for the rest of their stay here. 

‘Show her that you are there for her, don’t let her doubt it’ 

The words uttered numerous times by Shelby floated through her mind, so Fatin did something that was perhaps utterly insane. 

At least by her standards. 

She cuddled in closer to Leah and wrapped an arm around her stomach. One that Leah automatically held onto; lacing fingers between her own as was instinctual at this point. 

Fatin placed a kiss on her neck, another to her ear then rested her lips there, heart beating rapid and with force. “Babe, please tell me what’s wrong.” She felt Leah tense in her arms for a moment before fingers anxiously squeezed at her own. “I believe you, whatever it is, okay?” But Leah remained silent, so Fatin kissed her again and the words came easier this time like it was completely normal, which she supposed for many, it was. “Babe, please.” Her voice broke, only just. Leah’s breathing picked up and Fatin could practically hear her thoughts running a million miles per second until she leaned back into her, back sinking against Fatin’s front as she released a shaky exhale. With a sudden movement moments later, she was tuning, pressing her mouth to Fatin’s own. 

She was shocked initially by the lips that met her own, Leah’s hand cradling her cheek as one of her legs wrapped around Fatin’s waist, her foot pressing hard into the back of her thigh like she was trying to stop her from leaving. “Did you mean that?” 

And Fatin wasn’t entirely sure what that was in reference to; the nickname name that put them in the territory of something more -at least to Fatin- or the fact she would believe her, always. 

In either case, it was true. Greatly so. 

Fatin nodded and kissed her nose. “Completely.” 

The weight seemed to fall from Leah’s shoulders as she slumped back to a relaxed state against the girl that held her. “Okay.” 

“Want to talk now?” Fatin pried.

“Yeah,” Leah added breathlessly. Her voice was the same raspy, tired one that came forth whenever Leah was burnt out, the one that broke around syllables and sounded like she’d smoked a pack of twenty in a half hour. “I think I was just like a little worried.” 

“About the island? Gretchen? Nora?” Fatin queried, trying to work out what root she was spiralling down now, ready to join her. 

“Uh,” Leah shook her head, like dislodging a thought momentarily. “No.” 

“Jeff?” 

At that, Leah laughed slightly. “No, definitely not.” She gnawed at her lip. “More you. Kind of.” 

“Me?” 

That sent Fatin into a slight panic. Not that her face showed it. For only a brief second, it was apparent before returning to its calculating self. But inside; it was fear. Thoughts she had done something wrong, had caused Leah to spiral. Or maybe Leah wanted space from what they had started, which would hurt like a motherfucker but whatever she wanted she would always support. What scared her was that if Leah decided she no longer wanted this; Fatin wouldn’t have it in her to ask for space. Would spend her life in an excruciating exitance of loving her, but never truly having her, yet still being attached -as her friend- at the hip.

“Yeah.” Leah squeezed her eyes shut forcefully, face scrunching up. “I had this nightmare and you… you were pissed at me for something…” She didn’t elaborate. “And you hated me and… Fatin, I can’t have you like that with me, okay?” 

“Why would I ever hate you?” 

Leah swallowed hard. “I get attached, I get obsessive and,” 

Fatin didn’t need her to elaborate, knew where this was going. It warmed her body, sending a feeling of comfort through her at the thought that maybe Leah was even a bit attached to her. 

“Leah, it’s fine.” 

“You don’t get it, and you said to me that night on the island, that I was like stupidly obsessed with Jeff and I,” 

“Leah, hey, no.” Fatin raised a hand to caress her cheek. “Look, I only said that because he was taking advantage of you, and I’m apparently like protective as shit when it comes to you. And if Jeffrey the pensioner Galanis falls into one of those hunting pit traps one day and is like, brutally killed by a thousand spikes then honestly he had it coming.” Leah laughs slightly at that, but it’s more one of her ‘oh my god did you really just say that’ laughs. “There’s nothing wrong with being attached to someone.” 

“You used the word obsessed.” 

“There are two kinds of obsessed Leah. The stalker or sexual predator, Stockholm syndrome, Lolita moment type, or the mutually obsessed teen romance kind where you scribble their names on your arms and shit, between two consenting people of the same age.” Not that Fatin had ever done anything of the sort. She would consider getting Leah’s name tattooed on her forehead though if it brought the other girl comfort. “There’s nothing wrong with getting attached.” 

“You don’t do attachment.” 

And there it was, plain and simple. Her exact words spoken time and time again regurgitated back at her. 

Instead of replying, Fatin kissed her, felt the gentle pry of Leah’s teeth tugging at her, felt her own hand skimming at her shirt, pressing beneath it across the soft skin of her stomach. She kissed her neck, sucked until a light red mark rose then moved to do the same on the other side, Leah’s head falling back against the pillow. Leah had this look she would later struggle to describe, but it was a need for proof. That for some reason she didn't get just what she meant to Fatin. She breathed heavily against her neck, a hand halting with her waistband.

“I do when it’s you.” And that probably wasn’t saying enough, wasn’t refining just how much she meant in those few words. But she kissed lower, every freckle or mark that speckled her body, waiting for Leah to throw out an enthusiastic ‘yes’ before working her shorts off. 

Pleading met her ears, a constant relay of ‘Fatin, please’ tumbling from her lips as she removed the last of her clothes and dropped her head between her thighs. 

There were some things about Leah Rilke that Fatin never understood; why early on she always pissed her off so damn much with so few words. How she felt like her entire life flashed before her eyes when Leah went into the water. When Leah overdosed. 

How none of the emotion she felt compared to anything she’d faced in life. Her dad, being sent here, that God damn airplane crash. No, it all paled in comparison. 

As her breath fell faster Fatin simply watched her break, eyes content to remain glued on everything about Leah at that moment. Fatin’s chest clenched and momentarily she forgot she was meant to be doing something, helping her down. Instead, she froze, jaw hanging as she marvelled at the sight.

“Fatin,” Leah eventually propped up on her elbows, chest still heaving as she tugged Fatin back up by her hand. 

“Huh?” 

Leah grinned, biting her lip as she shook her head. “Your turn,” It come out with a slight yawn, Leah looking entirely worn out from the day's events.

“It’s fine. Sleep.” 

“But,” 

“Babe,” Fatin pulled her shorts back on, then moved her shirt back into place, kissing Leah’s belly button once with a lopsided grin on her face. “Sleep, I’m fine. Tonight, all that matters is you.” All that ever matters is you. Fatin internally groaned at how fucking sappy that must have sounded, but Leah chewed her cheek, trying to contain her smile, and rolled so that her head was propped on her chest. 

“You’re such a sap.” Leah laughed, fingers tracing random shapes into Fatin’s hip. “Thank you.” 

“Leah, you don’t have to thank me.” 

“No, I do. Not for that, even though it’s actually making me realise how epically shit Je-” Leah cut herself off from rambling. “Anyhow, I meant for before. Being there. Listening.” 

“You know I mean it when I say I’m always here for you right? Island or not. You’re like, so totally stuck with my ass, Rilke.” Fatin should have bit her tongue before that came out, but Leah seemed to appreciate it. 

“You say that like it’s a bad thing.” Leah yawned. 

“Sleep.”

“But,” 

“Oh my god,” Fatin laid a kiss on her hair. “Sleep. Or I’m taking the early food hunting shift with Toni.” 

That shut Leah up. Because she knew just as much as Leah, how much they both wanted that lay in. Just to hold one another and talk about random shit like they always did. A simplicity in just being.

“Night babe.” 

Fatin could have cried. Instead, she swallowed the lump in her throat and laced her fingers with Leah’s on her stomach, reverting to humor to hide her happiness. “Night crazy,” A hand smacked her shoulder. “Fuck what was that for?” 

“For being a dick after you gave me-” 

“Jesus! Fuck, fine.” Fatin interrupted, worried about how loud Leah’s voice was. “Night.”

 

 

This was another night where Fatin barely slept, mostly out of hope. 

There was always this innate fear in Fatin; that she wasn’t capable of love. Wasn’t worthy. That she’d be like her father and cheat, or like her mother and act like their relationship only existed when in front of onlookers. In her family relationships came with business-like ties that were there to cater to a public that wanted to see the face of an oddly ‘sanitised’ family. All gleaming white teeth with the white picket fence and so much love that it was -almost- seemingly too good to be true. Relationships that birthed proficiency and money, titles and grandness. Regardless of if they were ever truly relationships at all.

It was a fear that had dissipated the moment Leah admitted she was worried about getting attached to Fatin because she assumed she wouldn’t feel the same. 

Fatin knew at that moment she would always care for Leah Rilke. Maybe it wouldn’t work out, maybe Leah would move on. Yet Fatin knew she would do her damned best to always be there, to always provide love and a safety net because Leah Rilke didn’t only hold a part of her, but a part of her she never had before. Never thought she would be gifted. 

She calmly watched her dream, held her close, and buried her nose into her neck because Leah smelt like home. 

Sighed as she held her so tight Leah would probably have complained if she were awake. 

Fatin, for the first time in life, was completely in love. 

 

 

When they awoke it was to Shelby pounding on their door with a heavy Texan fist. “Guys, get up already. You may have a bed, but we still have work to do.” 

“Shelby had better back the fuck off before I throw my fucking shoe at her.” 

“Fatin, relax.” Leah scorned. “We’ll be up in ten.” She yelled back. 

Fatin groaned, head burying into Leah’s neck. “You’re only giving me ten more minutes?” 

“If I give you any longer, we’ll end up doing… other things. Then no one is leaving this bed for the next ten hours.” 

“Ten hours?” Fatin rose a brow. “My god Rilke, who would have known you’re a total sex-crazed beast.” 

“Oh my god stop.” Leah hit her, smiling as she leaned in for a kiss. “We need to talk later though.” 

“Oh?” And her face must have looked just as worried as she felt because Leah kissed her again, harder as if trying to shut her brain up with shock. 

“Yeah, I feel like we probably need to define some shit because right now I don’t know what to say to anyone, or even if I can say anything if I get asked about,” 

“Us?” 

Leah nodded. “Us.” She smiled at the word. 

“Okay, but to confirm,” Fatin was babbling like a total idiot again. “There is an ‘us’, right? Of like… some form? Because by last night I… But I don’t want to like assume shit and I… I really want to… Keep doing that… Fuck what I mean is,” 

“Fatin, breathe,” Leah implored. “Good.” Fatin shivered at the praise even for doing something as simple as breathing. “Yes, at least I think so. I don’t let just anyone do,” Leah seemed to be thinking about how to say the words in her head without blushing further. 

“I get it. Unlike me, you don’t sleep around.” Fatin grinned. “Not that I’m like, thinking about sleeping around.” God her entire foot was in her mouth at this point. Entire limbs were.

“You’re cute,” Leah said, getting up from the bed. 

“I’m not cute.” Fatin frowned because, ew. No, Fatin Jadmani was a cool ass bitch, not ‘cute’. Axolotls were cute, micro pigs were cute. The Mcdonald's pokemon-themed happy meals were cute. Fatin. Was. Not. Cute. “Leah!” She yelled as the girl pulled on her other clothes heading to the door. “I’m not cute!” 

“You are.” Leah walked back, thumbs pinching her cheeks. “So damn cute.” She added in the same voice Fatin used to talk to puppies with. 

“We're not done talking about this!” Fatin yelled at Leah’s back as she walked out the door. 

“You two already having marital moments?” Shelby threw back as she walked in the room. 

“Oh no. Fuck you Texas. Pass me my damn clothes.” 

Shelby laughed in a tone that said she was going to enjoy every single moment of this. 

Chapter Text

Leah POV


She spent the morning gathering wood with Rachel as the sun beat down on them, sweat dampening their temples.

The pair laughed about random trivial things as had become routine. She had never expected to like the girl at all. In truth -other than Martha- Leah hadn’t liked any of them initially, but there was a special disdain for Rachel after that damn black box mission. She still remembered it at times, woke from dreams where she felt like the oxygen had been sucked out from her, panicked when she awoke to darkness, similar to that of the ocean floor as her vision blurred.

Yet, in a shocking turn of events, Rachel had turned out to be her best friend here as she no longer classified Fatin in that zone.

No, Fatin was something more. 

Rachel was a whole different person now and had relaxed substantially. She never beat herself up over errors and had found an inner peace that Leah was kind of hoping she’d stumble across at some point also. It was a testament to just how far they had come that the girl who had lost her hand in a terror-inducing, painful shark massacre, was beaming and creating structures for use by the group. Was singing around the fire and chiding Toni for crass humour. Was carefree for perhaps the first time since arrival, with the weight of a lost hand and sister.

Leah didn't obsess too much over just how metaphorical it was that Nora always compared herself to Rachel's right hand, a support structure. And now that Nora no longer existed; Rachel's had been lost. She had lost her dominant hand, her support system, and risen to the fact. Proven that she could achieve without it. Survive without it. Without her.

“Okay, what the hell is up with you today?” Rachel questioned as she moved to chop another bit of wood. Leah took a moment to catch up because she really did have that sexy lumberjack look going on for her today. 

“What do you mean?” God, did she think she was going dark again? 

“You have this smile on your face, which don’t get me wrong, is awesome to see. It’s just that there’s not exactly an obvious reason for it unless you think help is gonna be here soon or something. Which sure, it might, but I wouldn’t get your hopes up.” 

“It’s not that.” Leah frowned though, she hoped help was coming, regardless of Rachel’s thoughts on the matter. 

“Sure.” 

“It’s not that.” 

Rachel looked up at her, brushing the dirt off on her trouser leg with her hand before dropping the axe. “Okay, then what is it? Because something is up and you’re being weird and aloof, so I need to know if I need to get Dot to bury all the benzos again.” 

“Fuck off,” Leah whined. “That was one time, let it go.” 

“Yeah, well, you seem awfully perky for someone to have nothing to be perky about.” 

“I have someone to be perky about.” 

Rachel ripped her eyes back up at her, frowning at her words. “Someone?” 

It was at that point she realised she had epically screwed up. She hadn’t had the full talk with Fatin yet and didn’t know if she wanted to be outed as queer, or even as being the one to have slept with the ‘crazy’ girl. Leah Rilke was hardly a prized catch in the mentally stable department.

She swallowed hard and thought about how best to pivot from this sinkhole of a disaster. “I meant something.” Oh, smooth.

“Sure. So, Fatin?” 

Leah’s jaw dropped. “No. God, No. Noo. Why on Earth would you think that?” Maybe she should have joined the damn drama club after all. It would have come in handy now instead of standing here a babbling wreck.

“Oh my god.” Rachel seemed to pass through the seven stages of grief at once, though drifting for the longest time through denial. “Holy shit you’re kidding me. You have a thing for Fatin?” 

“No. Maybe. Yes. Can we just, I don’t know, talk about literally anything else?” 

But then Rachel was being the amazing friend she was, shaking her head and sitting Leah on the stump near them, hands resting on her shoulders. “Girl, no. Leah, this, this is an awful idea. Like I get it, I do. She’s been there for you, she’s comforting, and she’s hot as fuck. Like if I liked women at all I would have gone there by now, but attachment of any kind to her? It’s just a truly awful idea.” 

Leah frowned. Rachel was wrong, right? Like, Fatin cared, had said as much. Though it was never stated exactly, so maybe Leah had taken it wrong. Maybe Leah was grasping at straws and drawing more from words and actions than was meant, just as she had with him.

“It’s not like that.” 

“Leah, I know you and I know Fatin. That girl takes any opportunity to talk about how sickening romance is, how she doesn’t do attachment. God, she spent a whole ten minutes talking to me at one point about how she doesn’t get how Toni and Shelby didn’t get tired of each other when they lasted more than a week. Fatin’s just, she’s not like that.” Rachel smiled. “I’m not trying to be a bitch, I just know how you were with Jeff, and I don’t want you going for another unattainable person, you know?” Rachel hummed. “You just, you deserve someone that will want you, Leah.” 

“Like you?” Leah grinned, honestly just trying to breeze past the fact her heart was just stomped into a thousand pieces. 

“Gross. No, I’m waiting for one of the cute guys in the boy's camp.” 

“Anyone in particular?” 

“No, I think at this point the only reason I’m considering any of them is either delusion or desperation.” 

Leah forced an eye roll and stood. 

“You good?” 

“I’m fine.” 

Rachel nodded. “I’m always here if you need to talk.” 

Leah groaned. “You too.” 

 



It was that afternoon that the boys arrived; because of course, they did.

“Ayo, what’s up ladies?” Kirin smiled a broad, cheesy grin as the collective of guys strolled up to their campfire. 

Leah frowned at Raf. The asshole had told them where they were. A fact only meant for emergencies. It was a stab in the back before they even had an alliance, yet any trust she had in him had now withered away to absolutely fuck all. 

“That little prick,” Fatin muttered under her breath. 

“What are you doing here?” Dot was cold, holding onto the axe with more strength than was required. 

“Ooookay,” Josh mumbled, smiling awkwardly. “We’re not here to rain on your parade, or like your lunch or whatever... wait is that fresh rabbit?” Dot nodded in response. 

“We’re here because we need to talk about Gretchen. Not to steal your space or resources.” Kirin added, smiling at Fatin a little too long for Leah’s comfort. “As proof, we even brought our own snacks, water and what-not. And we’re happy to keep our space if that’s what you want. However, we seriously need to talk.” 

Leah found the girls looking at her simultaneously, whilst she was busy still staring daggers at Raf. “Fine. But we’re not having a long chat about life, okay?” 

“Noted.” Kirin was still smiling at Fatin; even as Leah talked. Leah found herself subconsciously standing closer to her, backing up slightly so that Fatin was just behind her, her chest touching her back. 

“Cool.” Martha beamed. That kind-hearted girl was still lovely to everyone, as always. 

 

Once situated around the fire, Leah tucked into Fatin’s side as she sat gnawing at her lip. 

“So, it seems I was right. Seth is in the control room,” Raf spoke with a proud smile on his face. One Leah definitely wanted to wipe away, after all, if that was all they were here for he could have just told them himself, sans revealing their location to their entire group.

“Who?” Toni spoke louder than was needed. Shelby placed a hand on her knee that she quickly withdrew once the girl calmed. 

“A guy from our island. Did some messed up shit,” Scotty added. 

“By messed up shit what do you mean?” Toni questioned. 

“We’re not discussing that,” Kirin threw in quickly. Though Leah noted that his eyes flitted to Josh, and from her conversations with Raf she could pretty much figure things out. 

She felt for him, Josh seemed to close in on himself at the mention, but Kirin wasn’t letting him dwell on it, opting to change the conversation. A fact Leah would have respected if the boy wasn’t busy eyeing up Fatin. 

“Anyhow,” Kirin smiled as if nothing had just happened. “Some dick wad member of our island is in that control room. But he’s just watching us, blasting shitty music.” 

“MCR is not shitty music,” Henry added. “You lack culture.” 

Leah sighed at the fact none of the boys appeared to truly get on, even still. Dot shot her a look that loosely translated to ‘when will they leave.’ A sentiment she echoed herself.

“Can we circle back to the control room?” She began picking at her brow, only for Fatin to pull her hand away, before lacing her fingers with her own. Something that made her chest warm. 

“Oh yeah, so Seth is in there. Henry’s stepbrother.” 

“Do not equate me to that douchebag,” Henry grumbled. 

“He’s like a total mad man.” Bo chimed in. “We weren’t sure it was him but then Henry figured out what he was doing.” 

“Which was?” 

Henry groaned. “We noticed the songs began pausing between each one. Like someone was skipping tracks or changing out CDs constantly. I’m assuming Gretchen has him under orders not to speak to us, and maybe she’s still watching in because he hasn’t. But he’s sending messages alright. That dude is just too much of a god damned attention whore for his own good.” 

“If he’s not speaking, how do you know?” Toni mocked. 

“Emo bitch.” 

“What?” Shelby choked out.

“It’s what he always used to call me, emo bitch. Because you know.” Henry gestured to himself. “The songs he’s playing: Evanescence, My Chemical Romance. Ozzy Osbourne,  Band of Horses, Icon for Hire, The Cranberries,” 

“We get the idea.” Leah butted in. 

“Yeah well, it was those songs on a loop for an entire day.” 

Perhaps Leah had to bury her Nora theory then, or at least pray she wasn’t in that damn room with him. The thought made her stomach turn; whilst yes, Leah was pissed as hell at Nora she was still protective of Rachel’s kid sister. She knew Gretchen. Knew there must have been some way she roped her into this. Nora would never risk her sister’s life for the fun of it. There was always a clear level of genuine concern she showed for her sibling.

“Babe, you’re gripping my hand really hard,” Fatin whispered into her ear. 

“Shit, sorry.” 

“It’s fine but I know that look.” 

“If Nora,” 

“Later, Leah. When Rachel isn’t so close.” 

Leah nodded with a barely perceivable tilt of her chin. 

“So, this Seth,” 

“We’re not safe here. This place, this island.” 

“No shit.” Toni retorted. “You’re telling me that this island -in the middle of fuck all nowhere- that we were stranded on as some sick science experiment isn’t safe?” 

Dot bit back a smile. 

“We’re saying we have more dangers here than wild animals or sharks,” Ivan added. “Like, potential mass murderer level threats. Bitches be psychotic in that control room.” 

Fatin bit her lip, trying not to laugh because on some level she could probably get on with him. 

“We just wanted to stop by and warn you, that you know, axe murderer potential in case you weren’t a fan of The Shining.” Scotty smiled. 

“Are you safe?” 

“We’ve set up barricades. Probably not safe there but doubt you’re any safer here.” 

Leah doubted that. They had a generator and a self-locking system that appeared to not be controllable by the main building, but she wasn’t about to tell them that. 

“Sure,” Leah replied, smiling falsely. 

“If one guy is in there that still leaves one member of your group unaccounted for,” Shelby added. 

“DJ.” A couple of the guys said at once. 

“Face eaten clean the fuck off him jaguar style.” Scotty shook his head. “Now that’s some shit that keeps you up at night.” 

“You saw him?” 

“Plain as day,” Ivan added. “It was like, not the day I envisioned for myself, clearly manifesting is utter nonsense.”

Leah’s mind was still spiralling over the fact. Why would any animal or predator eat someone’s face and not consume any other part of their body?

It made zero sense. Unless someone was trying to mask an identity. Someone like Gretchen. But she still couldn't figure out, why? Who?

Jeanette and Nora were both in on it so there would be two people on their island. Maybe Jeanette was meant to be taken off the island the first day too… Just never got the chance to. 

“We need to figure out a way to get to him, or Gretchen,” Kirin wondered aloud. 

“If he’s under instruction to watch us, then maybe we just wait it out a while until we can figure out what to do,” Leah mumbled, hand going back to her eyebrow before Fatin frowned and adjusted it again. 

“No, I say we beat his ass,” Bo enthusiastically stated, raising a bottle of water to his lips. 

“True, I’d very much like to see a bitch burn,” Ivan agreed. 

“I think we’re best waiting. We don’t know what Gretchen has planned,” Leah added because nothing was concrete. Acting before they figured things out or planned for turns in events was just endangering everyone’s lives. Especially if 'Seth' was this unhinged mastermind they assumed him to be, perhaps them attacking is exactly what he'd want, an excuse for retaliation.

“Listen, I’m not being rude,” Scotty added. “But you’re kind of crazy from what I hear from Raf. Jumped him in his room, plotting shit, I mean you’ve even got those crazy eyes right now, like why should we even trust you? You’ve got them wrapped around your finger, haven’t you? You say jump they say how high, right?” Scotty shook his head. 

“I’m not fucking crazy!” Leah yelled back, taking them all by surprise, Fatin holding her hand tighter with her own trembling with rage.

“Well, that right there sure didn’t help your case.” Scotty shot back. 

Rage flooded Leah, mainly because she thought that after all this time -after her theories were confirmed- that people would stop saying that. 

She was not crazy. Was never crazy. 

Was she?

Leah’s hand was dropped before she could think much further, Fatin throwing down her crutch and limping over to him at speed before throwing the boy on the floor, his head hitting the dirt behind the log with a thud and a groan. “You talk to her like that again and you’re losing teeth, do you hear me?” 

Kirin was pushing her off though, which caused Toni to push Kirin until Dot was yelling at them to stop. 

It was a brief moment of chaos that reiterated just exactly why they didn’t mix. The boys were hot-headed and prodded and provoked at any chance. They weren’t even five minutes into a conversation and there was already a lack of ability to simply talk without throwing offence.

Leah walked to Fatin before Scotty could stand back up, the annoyance clear on his face. She slung her arm around her waist and helping her back, noting that she winced with each movement far more than she had been that morning.

“That was like totally hot as hell but please, just throw the crutch at his face next time and not fuck up your ankle.” 

Fatin breathed heavily, seething. Her eyes were still locked on Scotty like she was planning her next attack. 

“Fatin, babe.” Leah put a hand on her cheek. “Look at me not at him.” Leah ended up moving her chin with her fingers until Fatin was finally facing her. “There you go. Hi.” She smiled. Leah still had this question in her head, this doubt that Fatin still didn’t believe her on some level. But this? Even if she didn’t believe her Fatin was ready to protect her and her theories with her damn life. Leah was still speaking at a level so low it wasn’t audible to anyone else. “Not that I don’t appreciate that, but I’m fine. I’m okay. I just need you to be alright now, okay?” 

She nodded, chin wobbling in her grip. “Sorry.” Fatin’s eyes darted to her feet as she came back to herself.

“Don’t be,” Leah responded before turning back to the guys across the fire. “If you call me crazy again you can kiss goodbye to any of us ever working with you,” Leah yelled across to him. 

“Fine.” 

“That didn’t sound like an apology.” Dot retorted. 

“That’s because it wasn’t.” 

Kirin slapped him over the side of the head, and after a whole lot of gestures passed between them, Scotty finally replied. “Sorry. Won’t happen again.” 

“Awesome.” Toni threw back. “So we’re gonna take a rain check. We can talk about things more when everyone is less… ready to like pluck balls, you know?” 

Raf nodded, Leah noted he had barely talked the whole time. Perhaps he could read the fact that she was silently figuring out how to boil him alive.

 

As they said goodbye, she tensed as she saw Kirin approaching Fatin who was tending to the fire. “You know that was like, totally a boss babe move back there? Standing up for your friend like that.” 

She wanted to punch him in the throat. Knock the wind out of him or maim him in some way, shape or form. But Fatin was smiling up at him and saying something back that Leah couldn’t hear. He smiled and laughed, patted her shoulder and cracked a joke that Fatin smiled at, eventually returning to the others. Leah just wanted to know what the hell she had said. He was grinning far too much for her comfort. 

Rachel’s words rung in her head, clearly and constantly.

‘She doesn’t do attachment.’ 

Chapter Text

Leah POV


Leah didn’t wait for her. Instead, she went straight to their room after seeing her with Kirin. Perhaps it was childish, but her afternoon had her ready for sleep. 

Frustrated, she kicked her shoes off, pulled on her shorts, and climbed under covers that smelt annoyingly like Fatin. She couldn’t escape her; it was like this suffocating force, and she was hyperventilating before she could realise. 

“Leah?” She heard the clattering of crutches by the bed then Fatin was pulling the covers up; making her wince at the steady stream of light. “I’ve got you.” Fatin sat behind her, pulled her into her lap then began rocking. “You’re safe, you’re okay, I’ve got you.” 

“Don’t leave,” The words were broken, garbled but somehow Fatin understood them. 

“Never.” Then she was counting breaths with her, kissing her neck lightly as Leah’s world began to grow less black at the edges. 

Jagged breaths shuddered through her for God knows how long. She barely noted the sound of Toni asking Fatin if they needed anything. Fatin asked for something sugary and water that the girl quickly came back with, leaving them by the side of the bed before leaving without another word. Almost as if she knew better than to interrupt any moment between the pair. 

It took an hour before Leah was fully back to herself, Fatin bringing a glass of water to her lips. “You okay babe?” 

“Yeah.” 

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have gone full psycho when he said that. I didn’t mean to make things worse for you.” She tapped her nails against the skin of Leah’s thigh.

“You didn’t. It was nice, really. Thank you.” In all truth, Fatin’s overly protective moment had melted her heart into a puddle at her feet. Alongside the fact that there was nothing sexier than her body-slamming a guy -that had moments prior called Leah crazy- into nothingness. She just wished she had been able to see her do the same to mega bitch, Gretchen.

“Okay.” Fatin kissed her neck again, wrapping her arms impossibly tighter around her core. It offered a stability Leah would greatly take. 

“What did you say to Kirin?” And Leah should not have said that but somehow her brain had convinced her mouth to move, and there it was out in the open. 

“When?” 

“Before he left, the two of you looked… Close is all.” Leah was shaking in her arms at this point. She didn’t know why; it wasn’t as if Fatin kissed him. It wasn’t as if Fatin was hers. Then again, Leah had put so much weight on her heart over wanting her to be hers. “Like, you guys seemed to be getting on well.” Then again her only solid basis for a relationship was a criminal moment with a school alumni member, so she really didn’t know how these things worked. 

However, the island had a way of concentrating everything into an incredible potency, any emotion that blossomed was felt to a degree that would give anyone whiplash. Love for Leah Rilke had always been intense, all-consuming. But here? There were genuinely no distractions, so that love was eating at her, clawing at her sanity. Jealousy -which she never did, and hated on others- was now something that left her a complete wreck.

“Leah.” Fatin sighed, contemplating. “I told him not to call you my friend because we were more.” 

“You,” She paused, digesting. “Wait, what?” More. More? 

“I didn’t mean to out you. I’m so fucking sorry, it was a knee jerk response. I was pissed he called you that when...” Fatin swallowed. “I had no right obviously, and we haven’t even talked. I’m sorry.” 

“We should probably talk then.” 

Fatin nodded. “I uh,” She swallowed. “I’m kind of massively attached to you. I mean, obvi I threw a dude off a log for you and he had some muscles… Even though he was kind of short.” She swallowed again, loudly. “And I would have thought the whole sex thing clarified that because I would never do that to you, Leah. I would never use you or hurt you. I just need you. I always need you.” Her voice broke, rasping around the last sentence as it tore through her to say it.

“You need me?” Leah’s head was spinning. No, it was her that needed Fatin; Leah was always on the edge at any given moment with Fatin reigning her back in. Fatin pulling her from the literal brink of death and feeding her. Clothing her. Washing her.

“Yeah, apparently a lot. I don’t know when it started, but mostly when you were talking about that stupid guy snorting ramen, and I was like, woah, hey, I totally adore this girl and not in a friendly way. Which was confusing because your laugh that day was serving like, Bond villain on acid,” Fatin was babbling, gesturing a lot with her hands like she always did whenever she was too emotional and trying to hide it. “Then when I figured out you were right, and that evening you put your hands on me at the fire you guys performed that entirely out-of-tune song…” Fatin smiled. “I wanted to be your girlfriend. Which is a really fucking weird feeling for me and honestly kept me awake for two days after that. Firstly, because I was like, crap I’m way gayer than I thought, and I should probably analyse that shit, but then because I didn’t want to hurt you. I needed you, the times I thought you weren’t by my side I thought I would just lose touch. I wanted to kiss the shit out of you, but I was so fucking scared I would break you again and I can’t do that. I can’t hurt you again.” 

“You won’t break me,” Leah mumbled, turning until she was straddling Fatin’s lap. “Girlfriend?” 

“I totes get if you don’t want that. I just want you to know that I’m in, fully. I have no doubt in my mind and I need you to know that, even if you don’t want that yet or ever. I don’t want you thinking anyone means anything like that to me but you.” 

“I thought Fatin Jadmani doesn’t do feelings?” 

“Fatin Jadmani doesn’t.” She smiled weakly, hands slapping Leah’s thighs as they fell against them. “But Fatin, the island variant doth Miss Rilke.” 

“Oh my god, don’t call me that, Miss Rilke is my mum.” 

“Is she hot?” 

That earned Fatin a playful smack on the shoulder. “If you’re going to be my girlfriend, you’re forbidden from saying that ever again.” 

“If I’m your,” 

Leah rolled her eyes, shutting up Fatin with a kiss that quickly grew in heat until Leah was nipping at her ear. 

“Fuck,” Fatin groaned, her hands gripping so tightly at Leah’s hips that her nails bit into the skin there. “Leah, not that I’m not loving this but it’s kind of making me super turned on.” 

“And?” 

“And.” Fatin tried to flip Leah but couldn’t get any momentum and just ended up whining. “And I want to take care of you.” 

Leah bit her lip to restrain the huge grin that threatened to break out across her face. “Sure, you can.” Her hands once again stopped Fatin from rolling her. “After I take care of you.” There was definitely a plus to having a considerable height advantage.

“Babe,” 

“You just said you were super turned on,” Leah noted. 

“Yeah, but I want to make you happy,” Fatin added, voice small. 

Leah frowned, leaning back on her heels so she could look at her better. “Fatin, why on earth would you think me taking care of you like that wouldn’t make me happy?” 

The girl swallowed, moving her eyes to look somewhere on the bed. “No, I just, I don’t want you to think that’s what I want out of this.” 

“Fatin what the fuck do you,” Leah stopped, everything Fatin had been doing becoming rapidly clear in her brain. The way she wanted to take it slow, wanted to take care of Leah, and had barely let her touch her. God, how the fuck did she miss that? And now Fatin’s eyes were glossy, and she was doing that face where she clenched her jaw to hide the fact she was emotional, her teeth grinding slightly. “Fatin,” Leah turned her chin up in a grip between her thumb and forefinger. “I don’t think you’re using me for sex. I know you’re not using me for sex. You’re not like that. And most of all, you would never hurt me like that.” 

She flinched. “I’ve hurt you so many times.” 

“No.” Leah shook her head, biting back her own tears. “No, you do not get to say that. Fatin you’re the only reason I am here right now, today. The only fucking reason.” 

“I almost,” 

“Gretchen. Fatin. Gretchen almost killed me. I almost killed myself you are not responsible for that. Shit, did you think?” She trailed off.

Fatin shifted awkwardly, folding her arms and dropping her chin to hide the tears that were there. 

“Fatin, no.” Her voice cracked as she spoke. It was true horror really, the realisation that if she had died, Fatin would have held herself responsible. And even though she lived; she still did. It was a realisation that made Leah want to throw up because sure, was she pissed at Fatin for what she did? Yes… Had been at least. Did she blame her for the lack of support that made her mental health worse? Yes. But was she responsible for any of that or her actions? Hell no. “Fatin, look at me,” Leah pleaded. “You are not responsible for anything. Anything other than keeping me alive for months. For feeding me, for washing me, making sure I drank which was a task and a half because I only ever took the world's tiniest sips, and you must have the patience of a damn saint.” 

“Lee,” 

“No. You do not get to decide if you’re responsible Fatin. It was my actions and I’m telling you that I love you because you never fucking stopped.” 

There was a stark silence that punctuated the air.

“You…” Fatin’s brow creased, her face morphing into a thousand different emotions. 

Leah grasped her chin and kissed her briefly, once. “I love you.” 

Tears leaked from Fatin’s eyes as she stared up. 

“I don’t expect you to say it back until you’re ready. I get that this is new turf entirely and I don’t want to scare you, but I’d really like to give you that orgasm you’ve been ranting about for like five-hundred years if that’s okay?” 

Fatin couldn’t speak, her throat was raw, and her eyes burned so she just nodded rapidly until Leah leaned back in to kiss her. 

Leah wasn’t sure how she was laying here, able to say that Fatin Jadmani -thee Fatin Jadmani- was her girlfriend. Or the fact that she had cared for Leah in every way possible for months now. The fact that she looked at her with so much adoration, that damn look she had the audacity to question back at island one, somehow not clicking on to what those eyes and that smile meant. 

She made an effort of kissing every part of her body as she committed it to memory. Sunburn and marks or scars that she would question her about later. Small noises Fatin made as she tucked a hand into her hair to gently tug at it. Louder noises she made that Leah would play on repeat in her brain for days on end after this. 

There was a softness to the way she tugged at her hair that Leah knew she’d have to break her free of. A worried nature as she dropped Leah’s hand when she got closer; fearing she squeezed it too hard. That gloss, still coating her eyes and a look of trepidation that hadn’t been there during island one that let Leah know perhaps now it was her time to protect Fatin. 

No, Leah Rilke would not waste a single memory about Fatin, and she would do her damned best to bring back that happy, loud-mouthed girl within.

“Fuck.”

“Orgasm worth the wait?” Leah grinned smugly up at her. 

“Best. Orgasm. Ever.” 

If Leah wasn't sure previously whether she loved Fatin or not, the look on her face right now confirmed it. She was head over heels. It didn't even bother her that Fatin had yet to say 'I love you' back because the way that she looked at her spoke just as many words, even if it wasn't love, it was safety, protection, need. Leah grinned at the now carefree smile that stared down at her, wiped her mouth on the back of her hand then patted her stomach. “Awesome so you can go again?” 

Fatin didn’t get in a reply, simply shrieked in surprise as her hand returned -this time with a more confident tug- to Leah's hair. 

Chapter Text

Fatin POV


Waking up to Leah felt better than ever. The grasp of her hands on her; one playing with the hair at the nape of her neck and the other boldly gripping her ass. It was a side to her she hadn’t really pictured before; to her, Rilke had always been that angsty, loner art kid. 

She was odd in her normality; their school was filled with people who stood out, from punk hair to wild talents they boasted at exhibit evenings; one girl even doing a contortion archery bit. Then there was Leah who hid behind most, but Fatin had noticed her on rare occasions. After all, they went to the same school, and paths crossed.

 One time she had to reign in her laughter when she got out of her car mid-storm to the sight of Leah holding one of those huge, A2 plastic art wallets. Leah was seemingly fighting a losing battle with the wind; looking a complete and utter mess as both she and the folder got blown across the walkway in an incredibly dramatic fashion. Fatin didn’t offer help. The last thing she would have wanted was to talk to someone outside her circle.

Sure, Fatin noticed Leah; even if she never truly noticed Leah. 

She saw a shell of a person and drew her own conclusion, mapped out her own story of her life from the maybe thirty seconds she saw of her each week, just as she did with many of the quieter students. 

What she didn’t map out was that Leah Rilke was bi, funny as hell, and clearly had some kind of top energy and intense confidence floating around under all that emotion she felt so much. Her girlfriend, surprisingly, was a boss bitch.

She was someone Fatin never wanted to be without. 

“You’re an ass girl?”

Leah jumped slightly before swatting at her. “Don’t scare me like that you dick.” But then Leah was kissing down her neck, her raspy morning voice doing things to Fatin that should certainly be illegal. “Morning, figured I’d wake you up.” 

Before Fatin could question that Leah had pulled both the covers and her sweats down and was working her way back up her body whilst a hand dropped between her legs. “Be quiet, everyone is probably up.” 

Weirdly that only added to how insanely into this Fatin was. She nodded, took Leah, and kissed her to cover up heavy breaths that began to fall between them, letting the other girl swallow shallow moans that started to pass her lips. 

“Morning ladies! Leah, you’re on… Holy fucking shit no.” Dot's hand flew up to cover her eyes at the sight that was vastly unwelcomed. 

Leah yanked up the covers and quickly dressed Fatin who had gone stone still, her muscles freezing at the fact Dorothy had just walked in on Leah… taking care of Fatin’s main island issue so to speak. 

She was never one to shy away from sex, hell, she had plenty of -totally epic- threesomes. Fatin was really not one to worry about someone catching her naked doing the do. However, here she sat, frozen as Leah tugged a shirt over her head because she was worried. 

Firstly, there was the issue that Dot was her closest friend here, and she hadn’t even told her that she was remotely interested in Leah let alone totally enamored with her nerdy Virginia Woolf ass to the point of being entirely sickening.

Secondly, she knew. She knew right away in that split second of emotion that clouded the Texan’s face. The typical Dorothy ‘concerned parent’ look she had been thrown enough times to catch a whiff of straight away. So, rather than focussing on dressing, on being present, her brain was instead opting to go through all possible explanations that wouldn’t land her in deep shit with her friend. Every possible outcome from playing it off as nothing to bawling her eyes out was currently making its way through her brain like some roller deck of emotional fear. Some real ‘The Shining’ shit even popping up with Dot taking the group’s axe to her in rage; something Fatin knew from many a season of ‘Botched’ that no amount of plastic surgery would ever truly fix.

“You can look now,” Leah grumbled. “Can you shut the door behind you before we end up with a parade of nosy girls in here?” 

“Oh,” Dot paused, moving to close it. “Sure.” Dot hesitantly lifted her gaze back to them, frowning momentarily. “How long has this?” 

“The sex, or?” Leah was oddly the confident one at this point, Fatin not even cracking her usual jokes. 

“Just the more than friends’ shit.” 

“Uh, since after Gretchen’s departure.”  

Fatin didn’t add into the mix that that wasn’t entirely correct; she had loved her long since prior to that event. She couldn’t will her body or mouth to move for some reason. It was like her brain had disconnected, checked out from the conversation as her soul watched on from above like some spirit in a horror movie.

“You good Fatin?” Dot frowned. 

She nodded and Leah seemed to sense that the pair needed to talk. Dot and Fatin had always been close, and tension hung in the air that said Dot wanted to pry. Fatin needed to explain things with much less pressure around.

“So, I’m gonna go help with breakfast, that okay?” After receiving a nod and a forced smile, Leah smiled and stood, squeezing her girlfriend’s hand and seemingly debating whether or not to kiss her. Finally, she settled on shaking her head, blushing and walking quickly out of the room; the door shutting softly behind her. 

“Well, I didn’t see that coming.” 

She tensed her jaw, eventually relaxing all muscles as she took a heavy breath to center herself. It was just Dorothy. “I mean had you of gotten here like roughly two minutes later you probably would have seen someone coming.” 

Dot shook her head. “God no, why say shit like that, dude? Don’t put that image in my mind I’ve literally just seen Leah’s hand… And your bare ass… It was like Naked and Afraid but all I felt was the afraid.” Dot gagged at the memory.

“Oh, chill Dorothy.” Fatin rolled her eyes, patting the bed until she sat. 

“Actually, I don’t want to sit here,” Dot added, rising from the mattress.

“Oh please, we all used that waterfall when Shoni were fucking and if you think that they didn’t take that opportunity you’re sadly mistaken.” 

“Don’t... Don’t say that. Why the hell would you say that?” Dot whined. “The water supply...” 

“Yeah, well take it up with them not me.” Fatin grinned. 

But Dot tensed, her hands clenching. “You can’t play with Leah like that, Fatin. She’s forever on the edge of a total mental breakdown and the way she looks at you.” 

“Yeah,” Fatin tensed her jaw before relaxing. She understood why Dot felt the need to protect them both from her usual habits and rules. “I would really hope that my girlfriend would look at me like she doesn’t hate my guts.” 

Eyes wide, she seemed to startle at the suggestion, her hand raising to signal she needed a moment which turned into at least three minutes of silence, Dot sat with an expression that resembled a deer in the presence of headlights. “I’m sorry, you’re girlfriends?” 

“Yes, is that not what I just said? Do Texans have some other way of putting it like two halves to the same corn or some shit?” 

“Fatin, you don’t,”

“I don’t, but it’s Leah. All rules have exceptions, right?” She laughed humourlessly. “Mines this gigantic, noodle-legged, adorably unhinged, slutty lounge singer impersonator apparently.” God, that fucking lounge singer intro; Fatin still had no idea how it was perhaps the most cringe-worthy thing she had ever witnessed, and simultaneously the most adorable.

Dot just shook her head. “You know it’s not shocking at all because you do look at her like some cute ass puppy, but at the same time, I’m kind of fucking shocked right now. On a scale of one to not expecting that shit, I’m sat firmly in Sharknado territory.” 

“Yeah, well, I love her.” It came out naturally and with ease now as if the more times she vocalised it the more she felt capable of it. That loving Leah wasn’t this unattainable or far-fetched dream Jadmani’s weren’t worthy of.

At that Dot’s breath caught until she choked on the air around them. “I’m sorry but did Gretchen like pull some weird experiment shit on you back in the bunker? With like wires, or rats?” Dot shook her head. “God Leah must be absolutely glowing at the fact you love her dude.”

“She, I mean… She doesn’t exactly know yet.” 

Dot hummed. “If you’re worried that she doesn’t feel the same way I don’t think that’s an issue.” 

“It’s not that, she told me last night that she does.” Fatin sucked her lip between her teeth. Hearing Leah say that had made her brain misfire, it was somehow everything she had dreamt of and utterly terrifying at the same time. Leah trusted her enough to love her. That fact sat somewhere in her chest now, a gift she didn’t think she deserved. 

However, Fatin was terrified because she loved Leah. She was infatuated by her laugh and the way she prodded her food around like she was a kid when Fatin made her eat, the fact that when told to think of something else to obsess over, she thought of some random singer her cousin liked. Or the way that when she woke up after Leah, she always did this thing where she would hum ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ and whenever called out on it (and blasted her for clearly being a Gleek) she would say ‘fuck off’ but never deny it. 

Fatin was terrified because she knew her father and never wanted to be him. And for some reason every time she reached for the words in her brain that were there clear as day, and Leah was looking at her with cerulean eyes she wanted to let her soul bask in; she stalled. It was becoming a serious reoccurring problem. 

“I want to, I need to, tell her. It’s just my brain is like, not today bitch, think again.” 

“Could you write to her?” 

Fatin barked out a laugh. “Oh, shit you’re serious? Gross.” 

“Well, you need to find a way because knowing Leah, hearing that will make her feel a whole lot safer around us all and between the two of you with whatever you have. I mean, aside from her mental health crisis, her last boyfriend was a total creep. That’s gonna take some extra reassurance and care. Maybe an ass tonne of therapy or a Netflix documentary.” 

“I’m going to. I considered doing so the last day on the first island but then that fucking helicopter came. Turns out getting rescued is a total mood killer.” 

“Wait you’ve loved her since island one?” 

“Oh yes, Dorothy. You’re like way behind on the news bitch. I mean not that anyone knows apart from Shelby.” 

“You told Shelby? Before me?” Dot looked outraged. “The absolute betrayal.” 

“Oh un-wad your panties, she happened to be there when I figured out Leah was right and I was a really emosh wreck that day.” 

“I’m just in utter shock here.”

Fatin shot her a deadpanned look. “No shit.” 

“Just, be careful, okay?” 

“I would never hurt her,” Fatin added defensively. 

“I meant you.” Dot murmured. “Make sure you are okay too.”

 


 

Leah POV

 

Leah’s brain was lost to memories of the past night, stuck in an almost euphoric state of Fatin. It made her feel like one of her earlier, first teenage crushes filled with butterflies in her stomach and unfiltered joy. Yet Leah was still cautious as, after all, her love life had a history of falling down a more sinister path. One Leah was worried to venture down ever again. 

During her time on the island, she had gone through many phases but overcoming Jeff was one she never spoke of. The girls were right. Fatin was right. And Leah was still digesting that; the fact she was used and discarded by some creep. She was the damn girl in the three-minute movies they showed in assembly about the dangers of predators or online creeps. Whilst Fatin’s humour really helped her deal with it, she knew it was a mechanism for hiding worry, and the last thing she wanted was her pity.

In truth, she was a victim. 

That stirred a rage in her. One that bubbled slowly to the surface to the point that she decided, if she returned, got back, she would fuck up his life in some way or other in return. 

Perhaps not court, Jeff would find a way out. 

Maybe she would out him in a book or on air during an interview she was sure they’d land. 

Really make him known. 

She still had texts and photos of them laying in bed, sheets at the waist leaving little to the imagination; stashed in a draw and taped to the top where no one would think to check. She had a sweatshirt that she stole after one specific hotel date that now made her stomach turn. Polaroids, texts and ticket stubs. 

No, she could take him down. 

 

 

Leah wandered, venturing further into the woods in search of bamboo until she noticed a figure. It was strange to see one of the girls out here but then again, Rachel was also collecting bamboo and Martha had stated she was going hunting. Something the girls had tried to pull her away from; everyone considering the same eventuality that she would return to that state once again. Not truly here nor there, and this time unable to attain help. So when she saw her figure appearing more clearly, statue still, she almost called out. Almost yelled a ‘hi’ or a ‘you good’ until she noticed something odd, sticking out from her palm. The antenna stuck out from the brick form, bearing an incredible resemblance to something she saw back on day one. Something far too similar to Jeanette’s off-grid mobile device.

Martha. 

Phone in hand. 

Leah backed behind the tree, watching as the girl shifted her eyes around, mumbling into the device before hanging up, wedging it in a shallow hole of a tree, and turning to head back to camp after eyes shifted, surveying around her.

She waited, biding her time with electricity that strummed through her veins. Her pupils grew as they filled densely with black, fingers itching and rage pulsating all at once. The spiralling was back, the heavy looming feeling that nipped at her toes and threatened to carry her out to sea on a wave of theories so deep no one would ever realistically survive it.

Yet those waves slowly crashed back down, leaving only small puddles at her feet.

There was clarity in it. 

Close connections. 

Though Toni and Martha were not blood-related they were good as such. Nora and Rachel, Henry and Seth… No, it was far too much of a coincidence that everyone that arrived here with a close companion had one who was a confederate. A hook for Gretchen to latch into their back.

Leah gnawed at her lip as she picked up the phone, only to wince at the password protection that appeared on the screen. Blood had begun to speckle the skin on her lip, eventually prompting her to release it from her teeth.

She couldn’t mess it up. If it locked; Martha would know. Hell, Gretchen would probably know.

Placing it back with the gentleness of handing a newborn, she decided to walk a different route back to camp. Fewer tracks, more time to think.

There were clearly three operatives in each group. Martha, Jeanette, Nora. And for the guys, Seth, the obviously alive, dead guy and-

Her brain slowed, eyes growing wild as they did when her mind flew through an array of possibilities searching for a damn link. 

Balance. 

There had to be a balance between the damn groups. 

Leah picked at her brow, pulling at hair after hair, numb to the sting. 

Bo.

Fucking Bo. 

All family and close friends, the ones who had some form of intensely close connection prior, all came with someone who needed fixing for a particular reason. Toni’s anger. Rachel’s mental health issues. Henry and his antisocial stance. 

All of them had chosen to bring family and loved ones who they wanted, and needed to change.

Bo’s concern for Scotty’s anger and rashness was obvious to anyone looking in. Scotty however was impulsive, and emotive which would make him a bad idea for an operative. 

Nora… Martha… Bo… 

They always had a feeling of being quiet, on the outside silently watching in.

They were perfect. 

Gretchen most definitely still had them in play, and she still had operatives. 

Fatin… 

Leah frowned. No. Fatin wouldn’t be. Couldn’t. Firstly, she really was worried about that orgasm and not getting it. And secondly, sex on the island would surely be banned for operatives. It changed the setting, and manipulated the results. That fact also ruled out Toni and Shelby. That was if Shelby’s, Shelbald moment hadn’t already hinted at the fact it was unlikely to be her. Alongside help she had given both Leah and Fatin… sure it could be misplaced but again, it was too much and would manipulate an outcome. 

Dot… 

She chewed her lip, drawing blood without notice. Dot was too effective to be an operative. Helped out far too much and again she would influence the results heavily. 

And Rachel was obviously oblivious to Nora. 

That meant that it was solely Martha in play. 

Martha who Leah was sure she could manipulate into cracking, but she would need Shelby’s help. 

Unfortunately, it meant trusting the girl she once had been so sure was an operative.

Chapter Text

Fatin POV

 

Something was wrong. 

Leah had spent the past two days avoiding her and though Fatin was now walking again, her ankle wasn’t up to trekking miles in an attempt at tracking her girlfriend down. Rilke was also gifted with the limbs of Elastigirl, meaning that even when her ankle was functional, her girlfriend would outpace her without even trying.

Those god damned long ass legs.

However, she knew best of all when Leah wanted space. So, give it to her she did. 

Yet, everyone had a point at which they needed to be pulled away from their shit, and Leah was looking more and more tired by the hour, drifting closer to that meltdown abyss. At night she would stiffly curl up, face the wall and mutter a brief ‘night’. 

It was a fact that hurt Fatin; not that she’d admit such. But she needed comfort and safety too; a fact she thought her girlfriend was aware of.

She spent most of her time on those days with Dot who would shoot Fatin questioning looks. Ones that were starting to get under her skin like she knew she was almost at breaking point. Muttered ‘you good’s’ that made her pissed off because clearly, she was not motherfucking good. If there was a scale from great to shit, she had long since surpassed maximum capacity with the warning lights and sounds blaring and obvious to everyone, apart from her damn girlfriend.

She skulked around aimlessly, cooking food or tending to the fire, muttering vague ‘sure’ or ‘yeah’s’ in response to conversations she wasn’t even listening to. And this went on for days with Fatin slowly drifting away from any kind of presence, dropping not a single innuendo or crass joke at the expense of the others. It had gotten to the point that even Toni was pussyfooting around her, offering to do her laundry or bringing her water.

To be fair; Fatin was probably the only person on the island at this stage who hadn’t had a major breaking point. A mild fight with Leah, yes, but not a crisis of stability breaking point. An utter and total mental shutdown. 

This meant that finally, days later as they sat around the fire with Dot handing out their lunch, Fatin shook her head. 

“You need to eat,” 

“I’m not hungry. Dieting and what not,” Fatin joked, trying to sell the nonchalance; knowing not eating was one thing that wouldn’t fly with the group. In truth the sight of the food made her stomach curdle; she couldn’t look at another fucking rabbit or banana without wanting to throw it across the camp.

“Fuck off,” Dot rolled her eyes. “Eat,” 

And Fatin finally cracked; small, severed parts of her falling apart under the weight of every single group member’s eyes on her. “I said I’m not hungry Dorothy. Get out of my fucking face.” She pushed away the meat, feeling the bile rising in her throat.

“Seriously?” Dot pulled the food back but stared her down, angered by her tone. “It took Shelby ages to cook this, and we shouldn’t be wasting food. You’ve barely eaten in days, Fatin.” 

Shaking her head, she bit back a sarcastic laugh. “How about you hop off my dick, and start riding someone else’s, hey? Toni and Shelby have been tiptoeing around the whole will they won't they schtick so much they should probably go on a ‘should I fuck my ex’ segment on Doctor Phil.” 

“Hey!” Toni yelled, standing. “What is your fucking problem?” 

“Rachel is working herself to the point that it’s probably becoming yet another unhealthy coping mechanism, like maybe just take an hours break bitch? And Martha hasn’t stopped talking about Kirin for days. Days Martha. I’ll let you in on a secret babe, if he walks like a jock and talks like a jock, he’s probably either a total prick, or will give you a raging UTI and you’ll be lucky if that’s all.” 

“Okay, what crawled up your ass and died this morning?” Toni was advancing towards her now. 

“Fuck this.” Fatin stood, wincing as she walked with more rage than she probably should, shouldering past Dot on the way.

“I’ll get her,” She heard Dot’s voice behind her and chose to ignore it. 

“No, I’ve got it,” Leah added. 

 

 


Fatin didn’t hang around, headed to a spot she had found days ago. A small grassland with a view of the sea; something small that made her miss home just that bit less. A comfort in a place full of few. She wasn’t entirely sure why she missed home, there would be an irony if her dad still sent her away to that religious boarding school because there would be a chance she’d have less freedom there than in this hellscape.

“Fatin.” Leah dropped down beside her whilst Fatin chose to ignore the questioning tone of her voice, opting instead to play with the dewy blades of grass at her feet. “Hey, please.” 

“Leah, please just leave me be. I just want like, ten minutes to decompress or some shit.” 

“No.” 

She turned, frowning at her and pissed that her request had been denied. The thing was she hardly ever asked much of Leah, gave all she had, and required very little in return, so the denial of the simple request was already threatening to enrage her.

“Something’s wrong and you’re going to tell me what.” 

“Why would you care?” 

Leah recoiled, moving her gaze to the ocean. “I care Fatin. It’s you, I always care.” 

Laughing bitterly, she began to tear at the grass in her hand. “Really? Because you’ve spent days avoiding me, acting like I don’t exist. We,” Fatin swallowed. “We had sex Leah, and I,” Laughing she shook her head. “I thought it meant something but clearly not.” 

“Fatin…” 

“No, it’s totally fine. Let me down easy right?” 

Leah pushed a hand into her hair. “I care Fatin. I said I loved you and I meant it. Mean it.” Leah rasped. “I’m sorry I’ve been distant I had no idea you felt mad about it.” 

“I’m not fucking mad Leah. I’m scared. I’m on this fucking island, in the middle of nowhere and the one person I feel safe around, the one person I need by my side is anywhere but with me. It really fucking sucks because this is not me. I am not that person. I am not the fucking girl that mopes around when she doesn’t get attention but it’s killing me. God even when you’re with me it’s like you're counting down the seconds to freedom away from my ass.”

“Fatin, god no, that’s not it at all.” 

“Then please tell me what is going on,” Tears filled her eyes, burning as she swiped them away. “Because I need you. I need you and I don’t know if I can do this without you. You’re like my best friend here, and I need that. I just,” She hiccupped. “I need you.” 

Fatin swallowed; she had no intention of ever being that person. The person that sat here, hands trembling, lip quivering as she totally broke down. She had no intention of being anyone but a Jadmani, strong, tough, impossible to break. An exterior so hard no one could get through.

Leah’s arms looped through hers, her chin resting on her shoulder as Fatin ugly cried. Sure, there were different levels of ugly crying, but Fatin was going for a damn Oscar here. She could feel the tears soaking Leah’s shirt, the snot -oh dear god the snot- as she sniffled and cried more because ew. She was currently snotty and gross whilst her girlfriend held her. 

Jesus, she felt disgusting.

“Fatin, baby breath. Just, hey, look at me.” 

Leah was pulling back and panicking momentarily when Fatin’s breaths heaved harder, her face falling into her arms as she rocked herself, tried to ground herself in any way. It was like her breaths were piling up, coming too fast and she couldn’t slow the tide of them. They just kept crashing against her, one after the other, each harder than the one before.

She was so gone that she didn’t note her girlfriend peeling off her shirt or using it to wipe at her cheeks and nose. Mumbling praise and softly spoken words to her. Had she been more with it she would have noticed Leah was mimicking exactly how she cared for her all these weeks prior.

It felt like a knife when she did come around. Knowing that her only job was to be there for Leah and she couldn’t even get that right. 

She briefly heard Leah talking over her head; couldn’t make out the conversation that passed between her and Shelby before the other girl headed back. 

“Babe, hey, you’re safe. I’m here. I’m not going anywhere, okay? I just need to know what you want so we can get you back before dark okay?” Leah anxiously wiped her girlfriend’s cheeks, her own hands now shaking also. “There, you’re okay. I love you, I’m here.” 

The words were repeated, time and time again. An an hour passed and Fatin slipped into a state of emotional exhaustion as Leah held her and rocked with her, repeatedly pressing light kisses against her forehead. 

“Please don’t leave me out here.” 

Leah held her impossibly tighter and shuddered. 

“Fatin, I will never leave.” It was said with such a conviction that she finally relaxed, but perhaps it was just the fact she was so drained that by this point even worrying seemed more effort than she could muster. 

“Please don’t,” Fatin cried. “I love you so fucking much.” The words came out between heavy breaths, staggered so much that it took Leah a moment for the weight of what her girlfriend had just said to settle in. “Like,” She was so sleepy, head lulling against Leah’s bare chest. Her shirt was still being used as a makeshift tissue and all that remained was her bra which was now almost just as saturated with her tears. “Even more than the first three seasons of The Kardashians or that Fyre Festival documentary. Or that eye cream from Sephora that cost me four hundred dollars. You mean so much more to me than that.” And in Fatin’s brain that was perhaps the most intense declaration of love anyone could put together because truly, that eye cream worked miracles.

Leah laughed. “I don’t know how to feel about the fact you said you loved me for the first time, then rambled about face cream in the same breath.” 

“Four-hundred-dollar eye cream.” 

Leah fake gasped. “Wow, I’m really feeling the love.” But then her fingers began pushing the hair out of Fatin’s eyes as she blotted her cheeks. “Look,” Leah hummed. “I did not mean to treat you like that and I’m sorry. I just...” Leah’s hand tightened as she looked around, breathing deeply through her nose as she weighed up her options. “The other day, I caught Martha using a password-protected phone in the woods.” 

Fatin froze, her blood running cold as she sat stock still for the next five minutes as Leah explained everything. Her mind was spinning; knowing Leah would have been right about what she saw. It chilled her to the core; images retold of Martha contacting someone, probably Gretchen’s team. The fact that someone was still actively helping that crazed bitch sent current after current of anger through her system.

“Martha?” 

“Martha,” Leah confirmed. “I mean it makes sense, she’s incredibly quiet and we were air-vac’d when she disassociated. I assumed it was the number of days perhaps, but those helicopters arrived so fast they must have left as soon as they saw her there, unconscious at the hot springs. They had cameras at all major points in that room. There would have been one there, but not in our camp. That would have been the first time they saw her like that. Plus she hunts so often, alone. It's the perfect cover, the same way Nora had her singular hobby time. She had that damn romance book the whole time which she could have used to communicate through the cams instead of notes because we never saw the damn thing. Or the fact that she killed the goat when we were so close to starving. I mean and the oysters, she recovered even though things got so dicey for her as if,” 

“She managed to get ahold of other meds. And we may have been air-vac'd because Gretchen knew she no longer had any eyes on the island.” 

“Yeah, it was such a random time to be lifted. In broad daylight where we could see where they were taking us. I would have thought they’d wait until just before sundown, hide the location. There were so many times where one of us almost died, Rachel lost her damn hand which posed a far bigger immediate risk so why,” 

“Lift us out at that point. It could have just been the day, but yes it felt odd. Like she knew me, and Shelby had found the tech too.” Fatin finished. “We need to figure something out, that phone could free us.” 

“I know; we can’t spook her though. If we corner her, she could disassociate again then we’re at square one. Or she could dob us in to Gretchen depending on just how committed to her she is. I mean the fact she still hasn’t said anything when all of us are clearly at risk of death… She must have something on her, or for her.” 

“I’m assuming you have a plan.” 

“I think she would help us if she thought that the one person that she came here for was at risk.” 

“Toni won’t help, she’ll never believe us.” 

“But Shelby would.” 

“I thought you had her pinned as one of Gretchen’s minions.” 

“Initially, yes. But she helped me… in the bunker. Helped you on the island. Has been having sexual relations with an island member which is surely like, forbidden as shit. Shelby finding everything was too obvious as if she was being set up. Plus, I don’t think Gretchen would put four confederates on an island. It would dilute the test pool too much. Three made sense, she removed that guy from the island on the first days which must have meant,” 

“She was going to remove Jeanette from ours.” 

“Or someone else, but her members got diluted unintentionally. There’s this saying in the spirit world, as above, so below. That’s kind of how Gretchen treated the two groups. There are so many constants, and similarities. So, there must have been only two people intended to remain. Maybe the intended fake death on the first days was there as a scare tactic to shock us into survival mode or something. But leaving two makes sense. You lose one there’s still one left. Or if a group splits; there’s an eye on both camps…” She sighed. “There must be reasons for the parallels. The only issue then is the guys, but we just need one call Fatin. One call.”

Fatin swallowed. It was a decent plan; Shelby could most definitely help them in some way. But it also put her at risk, especially with where she stood with Toni. “Okay.”

“We can talk about this later,” Leah whispered. “Let’s just go back, get some food and a hot drink in you then sleep, okay? I just didn’t want you thinking I was avoiding you. It was more that I didn’t want you to think I was spiralling again without more evidence or information. I wanted more proof before I came to you with crazy theories again.” 

Fatin bobbed her chin, reaching for Leah as soon as she stood. Leah wrapped an arm around her, slowly guiding her back with the sodden top in her hand. 

 

 


When they got back everyone remained silent as Leah sat her down, still topless as she wiped at her cheeks and passed her a hot drink. 

No one commented, even as Leah fed her and brushed the hair out of her face. 

Not a sound, even as Leah kissed her forehead, sighing as Fatin leaned into her chest, curling up against her. None of the girls picked her up on her earlier raging cunt mode that she would have to apologise for later; though perhaps not to Martha. That one was apparently deserved.

And when Fatin hummed lazily against her girlfriend’s skin and murmured an ‘I love you’ loud enough that they all heard, still no words were spoken, but she could feel every set of wide eyes suddenly boring into her. 

“Let’s go to bed, you should probably sleep babe.” 

That was the last straw that caused a ripple of noise in the camp. A loud ‘holy shit’ from Toni, an ‘I’m sorry did I hear that correctly?’ from Rachel. Martha remained silent but smiled as if she knew something was there already, a reaction that made Fatin’s gut twinge. 

“We’re heading to bed, night guys.” Leah smiled, helping Fatin up and back to bed where roles reversed. Toni’s loud and constant professions of shock trailing behind them.

When back, Leah peeled off her clothing and wiped her with a damp, warm cloth; trailing it over muddy and tear-stained skin. Carefully she then raised a fluffy towel, sweeping it across her and letting Fatin momentarily drop her face into the comforting texture until she had dried and dressed her. Finally slumping down on the mattress and curling up at her side. 

“You know I’m always here, right? If you feel like that again, I can’t promise I won’t mentally check out, so when I do you just need to tell me, okay? I don’t mean to, and I always want to be there, so please, just tell me.” 

Fatin nodded; eyes already heavy as she fought sleep. 

“I love you.” 

“I love you too cutie.” 

“I’m not cute, bitch.” Fatin groaned, pulling Leah’s arms tighter around her. She finally relaxed, sighing and letting their bodies mold together; basking in the warmth and missed proximity that she now craved; needed.

Leah laughed, the rumble of her chest jostling her. “So cute.” She could almost feel her grin. “Night babe.” 

“Night Lee.” 

 

Chapter Text

Leah POV

 

“How do we do this, boss?” 

“Call me that again and we’re getting a divorce.” Leah chided.

“Oh, so we’re married now?” 

Crossing her arms, she shifted awkwardly. “I feel like all eight of us were thrust into this weird unwanted marriage together. So yes, and I won’t hesitate to join the guys if you call me that again.” 

“What if I called you that in a fun kink safe environment with prior consent?” 

“I’m joining the fucking guys.” Leah groaned. 

At that Fatin choked out a laugh. “Don’t even joke about that shit, I’m fully prepared to shank Raf over you. My brothers used to watch this prison show when my parents were out, where they would have everyday people go into prisons in disguise. Like, cute unsuspecting primary school teachers walking in with a story about how they’re a coke dealer.” 

“Kind of like Martha and Nora,” Leah noted. 

“Yes, but they were fed and had actual beds so, The Hilton in comparison. Plus, I don’t think Martha could convince anyone she was a coke dealer. Nora, sure, she has that edgy loner vibe to her that deffo screams I weigh bags on the weekend. But my point is, I know how to make a shank out of anything at this point.” She tapped her forehead. “Filled with knowledge. All I need is a single plastic spoon, a bar of soap, or some of those cans that wash up on the beach. And boom. Shank baby.” 

“You’re genuinely so weird. I’m not sure how you managed to hide this murderer persona behind partying and riding dick for all that time.” 

“I’m not riding your dick.” 

Leah swallowed, well that was a thought. “Yeah, so that’s something we’re looking into when we get out.” Not that she considered these things, but she had seen porn. Made the mistake of opening it for the first time on her parents browser which led to a highly awkward conversation about one website in particular she had accidentally visited by clicking an ad. Safe to say she never watched The Simpsons ever again; that one particular image of Marge seared into her mind that still to this day raised hives on her arms any time she thought about it.

“What?” 

“So, Shelby?” Leah added in an attempt to divert the subject she didn’t really want to discuss at this time. It was a future topic, maybe years down the line when they were finally off this damn island. The last thing she really needed was Gretchen collecting data on the creation of straps in the wild.

“No,” Fatin gasped. “Leah, babe, circle right back. 180 that.” 

“180 is a half turn, Fatin. 360. How are you even passing maths?” 

“Firstly, fuck you. Secondly, answer the damn question.” 

“No, because we’re getting distracted. I didn’t lead you out in the woods to talk about,” 

“To talk about what Leah?” 

“Don’t make me say it. You know, and we’re benching this for much, much later.” The tips of her ears burned as her face reddened. “Plus, I would like to remind you that conversation doesn’t even matter unless we get off this damn island, so, Shelby?” 

Fatin sighed, obviously wanting to debate the subject further. “Fine. Well, our best bet is to roster them together for jobs tomorrow, something that requires travel like that search we needed to do further out for new food sources.” 

“Yeah, that could work.” Leah nodded. 

“That gets them out of the camp, but we still need to convince Martha. Shit, they used to go missing for hours at a time she’ll probably just be convinced they’re back to their habit of boning forty times a day.” 

“They were not boning forty,” 

“Leah, babe, baby. Oh sweet, innocent, deluded girlfriend o’ mine. They were always gone. I mean, fuck, you guys complained about me not doing work when those bitches were taking day excursions to get lychee’s. Did it ever occur to you that they never told us where the tree was?” 

“No but why…” 

“Because, Leah, the tree was clearly not ages away. It was far enough away to grant them privacy but not that far that they required eight to twelve damn hours. It was the fucking tree. Those lychees were the fruits that hid the fruity.” 

“Oh my god don’t ever say that again.” 

“I’m literally only just getting started on my fruit puns. They really lied about those lychees." Fatin gasped. "Liedchees, Leah.” 

“How did I never notice you’re such a nerd?” 

“I am a hot, badass bitch. Not a nerd. You.” Fatin pinched her girlfriend’s cheeks. “My crazy girl, are the nerd. Shire horses for life.” 

Leah’s face dropped. She had totally forgotten Fatin read that damn book. The thought curdled in her stomach, twisting and contorting her insides as she sunk a tooth into her lower lip. “How many of my notes did you read?” 

Fatin swallowed. “Do you want the honest answer? Or the one that’ll help you sleep at night?” 

“You read them all?” 

She nodded. “Regretfully so. The slurry of notes on page 267 was honestly something I will never forget, and I will be punching Jeff in his cradle robbing throat should I ever lay eyes on him.” 

“You read the?” 

“The like, four-hundred-word poetic description on your boobs? Yes. And really, he didn’t even do them justice Leah. They’re great boobs, and he didn’t have the decency to use the words ‘fucking fantastic’ at any point. I mean the peach parallel? Ugh, so overdone. And this man calls himself a writer?” 

Leah winced, wiping the smile off her face. “We are not talking about this.” Worryingly, they both seemed to know there were worse things in there, things she was glad Fatin hastened to mention. Mostly the notes she had added onto blank pages, after their break-up. Ones that delved into how when she was hit by the car she cried when she woke up because she just wished it had killed her. Notes that showed she was spiralling before she even got here. Notes that made Fatin aware that obsessive and depressive were just parts of who she was, even before the stress of the island. And yet, Fatin still loved her. 

“We need evidence that suggests they’re in danger.” 

“Bear paw prints.” 

Leah frowned. “Fatin, there aren’t bears out here.” 

“We don’t know that for sure, fuck Paddington could be just around the corner with a pot of marmalade for Martha that shady cunt.”

“I think we can take an educated guess at the lack of bears. I was thinking more bloody clothes, and torn pants. If we could find berries, we can bloody them up a bit.” 

“It won’t smell like blood.” Fatin mused.

“You have a point there. Next time someone makes a kill we could repurpose the guts. Really sell it.” 

“You’re going very Steven King with this.” 

“You know Steven King?” 

“I’m not an uncultured bitch, I’ve seen IT.” 

Leah was biting back a laugh when suddenly, a bloodcurdling scream sounded somewhere back at camp, the sound reverberating through the forestry as Leah gripped onto Fatin.

“The girls,” Leah whispered, already tugging Fatin by the arm, nails digging into her flesh as they jogged through the woods, Fatin wincing as every step shot a dull pain through her ankle. 

“What if it’s an animal?” 

“That only sounded like one person. Surely if it was an animal everyone would be losing their shit, right?” Fatin wiped her cheek after a branch swung back and hit her in the face, the vine whipping her with such force she let out a gasp of pain. 

“Shit, you’re bleeding.” Leah halted, hand rising to her cheek where it came back, coated with blood. 

“I'm good.” 

Leah’s hand laced through her own, tugging her rapidly towards camp again.

 

 

Voiced seemed to rise the deeper into the forest they went. The once hushed murmurs grew by the minute as tones began to vary, deeper ones coming forth; the boys were back

One voice carried more prominently than any other: Scotty. His voice was loud, words falling rapid and hysteric as they closed in on the camp. 

“You have to hold him still,” Dot yelled. 

Leah’s heart began to pick up in pace, pounding in her chest as she spiralled about every possibility; were they finally here to hurt them? To steal their shit? 

“I said hold him still god damnit.” Dot yelled. 

They pushed through the last of the trees, seeing the horrific scene unfolding before them. The boys were certainly back, each one’s clothing stained dark red with blood, some even dried in places. 

Josh was in one corner, hands clawing at his own hair as he sat and rocked; Martha trying to speak to him, though her words seemed to go unnoticed. He seemed vacant, muttering something over and over in a scratchy whisper. 

Ivan was shaking but standing. Rachel’s hands sat on his shoulders as he recounted details too quietly for Leah to hear. His hands gestured wildly though Rachel seemed to have some sort of a calming effect; the boy slumping his head against her arm. 

Then there was the beacon of noise central to the camp. Scotty. His arms were being held, one by Kirin and the other by Henry who seemed to be greatly struggling against his strength. Whilst Kirin tried to talk him down Henry appeared to just be trying not to get hit in the face by the limb that flailed wildly in his grasp. 

Leah noted there was significantly more blood on Scotty. Whilst the other boy’s shirts were drenched, Scotty was quite literally dripping. Blood glistened across his cheeks, hands, shirt, and sweats. It drained in droplets from him, falling to his feet each time he shook and screamed. The sight brought bile to her throat, the smell of blood metallic in the air.

“What the fuck is going on?” Leah called out, moving closer to Scotty. 

“We’re trying to get a benzo into him.” 

“You’re not fucking drugging me. I’m going to rip his fucking throat out,” Scotty spoke between gritted teeth. 

“Not today you’re not,” Kirin spoke. “Not today.” His grip stilled the limb he had a hold of much more than Henry, his voice soft in his ear. “You need to take the pills. Okay? You need to take them.” 

“What fucking good is it if I’m out if he,” 

“It’s safe here.” Dot interrupted. “If we can all get you inside it’s safe. There’s a locking system. You are safe.” She reiterated again. 

Leah was rapidly panning her eyes around the group. Bo was missing. Raf was missing. Seth still was yet to show his face. 

She glared at the blood, swallowing hard. There was too much. Too much blood. It made Rachel’s hand loss look tame, and they were drenched after that. 

“Hey,” Leah spoke, putting her hand on Scotty’s shoulder. “Whatever it is, we can fix it. But I’ve been where you’ve been and nothing good is going to come of whatever you’re feeling right now. Pissed, enraged people make shitty plans that fall through. Whatever happened, you want to fix it?” Scotty nodded as blood squelched under Leah’s palm. “I’m telling you now if someone did something to hurt one of us -any of us- we will find them. All of us will. But you need to sleep before we can do that. We all need a clear head before we sort shit out, okay?” 

Scotty relented, eyes wild as he finally let Dot put the tablets on his tongue, holding them there for ten seconds before his eyes squeezed shut hard, tears leaking from the corners as he swallowed the tablets. 

“We’re sharing beds girls; all spare mattresses move them into the main room space on the floor for the guys, we need to lock up, fast. Any shit out here gets moved in.” Dot called. 

Leah nodded, at least they weren’t giving up their rooms, sleeping with Fatin and holding her in their own space was one of the very few things she appreciated about this hell hole.

Kirin picked Scotty up in his arms, carrying him to the bunker and into the living room space Toni was already pulling a mattress into. 

“What the fuck happened?” Leah questioned, noting how still her girlfriend was beside her. 

“Bo.” Dot’s jaw hardened. “He’s dead.”

Chapter Text

Leah POV


Fatin perched behind Leah, her legs dangling on either side of her girlfriend as they sat on the cool concrete of the bunker floor. Martha had since left, converting the food storage room into a safe space for Scotty while he slept; somewhere away from the hubbub of the others.

“We’ve brought all the food in but that’s only going to last so long, especially now that there’s so many of us. We have water but that's it.” Rachel noted. 

“I’m willing to go out on food gathering duties, ladies,” Kirin spoke. 

“That’s all good but you don’t know where the food is.” Dot spoke. “Wandering around the forest aimlessly for hours just puts us at a higher risk of getting picked off.”

“But I do,” Rachel replied. 

“And I’m happy to help,” Toni added. "I'm used to dealing with batshit men."

“It could work.” Dot agreed. “Kirin taking one of us with him to show him the way. Plus two hands will carry more food and we have bags for collection. The food would keep for days, maybe a week fresh if we’re lucky. Martha’s traps are already set up, I'm sure she could reset them.” 

"Marty's not going anywhere," Toni replied through gritted teeth.

“I can help if Toni or someone comes with me.” Shelby smiled. “Martha’s been showing me how to set them.” 

Toni worked her jaw, hands tightening as if she wanted to tell her no but knew she no longer had any right to do so. They weren’t anything now, after all. 

“We can think about it. We have a couple of days at least to figure things out.” Leah spoke. “But we need to know what happened. Nobody here is going to be of any use if we don’t know what the fuck happened back there.” 

“Seth,” Josh spoke up. “Seth started to lose it, was relaying death threats over the mic to us all at night like some count Dracula voice crap.” He played with the rubber on his shoe. “But Bo, Bo figured out the code to the area door somehow. One day he simply knew it. Maybe he was good with tech, but he was right. We took a load of stuff and stormed the room, tied Seth’s hands and feet to a chair, and wheeled him out. It was a good plan. We fed him and kept him alive but he wasn’t a threat anymore. We debated killing him, but it made more sense to,” 

“Keep him alive and try and get some information?” Dot mused.

Josh nodded. “We got to a breaking point though. He wouldn’t give us any information and we didn’t want to but we didn't have a lot of choice...” 

“What the fuck did you guys do?” Rachel muttered. 

“I beat him up. Punched him a couple of times but we didn’t get a word.” Kirin admitted somewhat regretfully; though it seemed like he was still holding some information back, like maybe a couple of punches wasn't all.

The girls frowned in unison. “Because clearly, that was such a great idea?” Fatin laughed coldly. 

“Hey, don’t judge us.” Kirin raised his voice at Fatin. “You weren’t on our island. You don’t know what he did.” 

“Well, I know we had our own island with our own shit but we didn’t go around beating people. Care to enlighten us then?” Fatin laughed. “Because right now you’re telling us about some fear-mongering shit who you physically assaulted.” Her fingers formed air quotes around ‘fear mongering’. 

“He,” Josh’s voice cracked. 

“Don’t,” Kirin stated firmly, before moving his eyes to Fatin. “Later. If we agree -together- we will tell you. But all I’m going to say is it was incredibly messed up and not in a 'he ate all the rations' kind of way. We had our reasons.” 

“Why,” Fatin stopped, cutting herself off when Leah squeezed her hand, hard. 

“That’s fine," Leah deflected. "What happened back at the bunker? After you punched a guy repeatedly?” Her tone was judgemental. Violence was also -by the sounds of his personality- the least effective way of getting information out of Seth. If anything it probably just encouraged him to act out further. 

“We placed a watch on him every five hours,” Ivan spoke up. “You know, so we could sleep knowing we were safe. We could hardly just walk away when we didn’t get information out of him, he is our only hope of getting out. We couldn’t kill him because Gretchen probably had cameras there and my skincare routine is most definitely not made for prison.” Ivan winced. “So we just kept an eye on him. He stopped eating then one night we left Bo on watch... He was meant to swap out with Scotty after his shift.” 

Ivan began tapping at his leg anxiously. “Bo must have fallen asleep and Raf noticed. He didn’t agree with us capturing him in the first place. Raf was the one that made us give him good rations and shit... tried to convince us that might get us information.” He shook his head, laughing. “That shady cunt must have seen that Bo was asleep and freed him. He always made excuses for that little prick even after…” He swallowed loudly. “So, he freed him, and on their way out Seth must have hidden an old can or something sharp, he had bent it into a fucking knife. Took it to Bo’s throat. Chest. Legs. Raf's an asshole, but I doubt he would have a part in that.” 

“I think they get the idea.” Josh shuddered at the memory along with the others. 

“By the time we woke up to Scotty’s screaming we knew something was up. I don’t know why the fuck he didn’t kill the rest of us but Raf and Seth were both gone, the ropes untied and the rations missing. We don’t know where the hell they went.” Kirin swallowed a sip of water. “We freaked out; thought they were here so we ran over. I don’t know if Raf didn’t tell him to come here because he likes you or because he doesn’t trust Seth after Bo. Heck, maybe they’re just setting up a happy fucking household somewhere. Either way, they can both suck my dick.” Kirin raised his water in a ‘cheers’ motion.

“So Scotty,” 

“Scotty and Bo are like brothers. Close as heck.” Kirin stated. “When we found Scotty, it took us ten minutes to peel him off of his body. He kept screaming that we could save him, that he was dreaming and we were all going to wake up.” Kirin shook his head. “I’ll tell you now when we find Seth? Raf?” He laughed. “They’re both fucking dead.” 

“We kill them, and we suffer for it,” Leah spoke up. “Sure, we’re on some island but it’s watched, we’re under surveillance, anywhere, everywhere. We kill him then when we get off here, we’re all fucked.” 

Kirin shook his head. “He started it; they will see that. They will know we had no choice.” 

“You think they’re going to see that?” Leah laughed. “No. Gretchen will hand off whatever footage will best support her narrative and help her story and case.” She squeezed Fatin’s hand in her own, knowing Martha was away watching Scotty. “We have a plan. And we’ll talk tomorrow. But for now, we all need sleep.” 

“You have a plan?” 

Leah leaned in, whispering into his ear at a volume no one could hear. “I’m getting us off of this fucking island.” 

Kirin titled his chin, only just, a gesture that felt unsure. “Fine. Tomorrow, we talk.” 

“Let’s just get some sleep, okay?” Rachel smiled. “Gonna be a rough day tomorrow that’s for sure.” 

“Whose on Scotty watch?” Leah asked, suddenly feeling glad it wasn’t her under the group’s microscope for once. 

“Me,” Kirin said. “Ivan, I’ll tap you in after six hours.” 

Ivan nodded. “Sounds good. Well bitches, I need my beauty rest.” 

“Mm, you need a whole lot of it.” Fatin grinned, trying to lighten the tense mood. 

“Oh, bitch? I will fight you.” 

“Should I be scared?” Fatin grinned. “Fox News says that gay people suck at fighting.” 

Leah knew what her girlfriend was doing; had been privy to her doing it enough times before in an attempt to brighten the group morale, and get a laugh at the momentary expense of a shockingly ridiculous statement.

“That’s obviously a stupid ass stereotype.” Ivan countered. “And so do straight women.” He smiled. “You know, according to the messed-up news channel you’re peddling.” 

Fatin smiled, grasping Leah’s chin and pulling it towards her until her mouth was on her own; Fatin’s eyes still on Ivan until she got a little too carried away by Leah’s mouth and moved to slip a tongue in. 

“Babe, jeez.” Leah pushed her away. 

"I was just fucking with you." She grinned, shooting him a wink.

“I’m sorry,” Ivan remarked. “You bitches got gay island?” 

Dot rolled her eyes. “I’m straight.” 

“Same,” Rachel added. “And so is Martha.” 

“Shelby and Toni?” Ivan queried. 

“Lesbians.” Fatin beamed.

“Oh, fuck this.” Ivan groaned. “You’re shitting me, right?” He turned to the guys. “Any of you thinking of changing teams? Because It’s been too fucking long.” 

“Oh,” Kirin smiled, pinching his cheeks. “I’d be tempted if you weren’t such an asshole. Or you know, a guy.” 

“Fuck off.” Ivan slapped his hands away. 

“I’m definitely attracted to women too,” Josh added, throwing finger guns at Martha as she walked back in. “You know if anyone’s looking for a totally cool, beefcake of a man.” 

“Beefcake?” Rachel grinned. 

“100% Steak.” He joked, making Martha laugh. There was a definite something between the two, especially since they returned Martha had taken completely to Scotty and Josh. Josh and Kirin were the most protective of Scotty; a fact that made the girls respect them slightly. And out of the guys, Josh and Henry were the ones helping out the most with moving stuff in; Kirin and Ivan merely opting to watch and drink their water. Leah had earned a slap from her girlfriend when she pointed at Ivan and asked 'does he remind you of anyone?'

“Right, as much as I’m enjoying this riveting episode of Love Island, this bitch needs sleep.” Fatin smiled. “Night guys and gays.” She grinned at Ivan who rolled his eyes but smiled back. 

“You know you’re like a total cunt but I vibe with that.” Ivan nodded. 

“Oh, I’m the biggest cunt.” Fatin agreed. “But if this one here can love me, I’d say anything’s possible at this point.” She wrapped her arms around Leah, lifting her off the floor with a yelp. 

“Fatin put me the fuck down.” Leah groaned, how she had ended up with this girl as a partner she still didn’t know. Eventually, Fatin dropped her on the bed and shut their door, the smile quickly falling from her face. 

“I don’t know that we can trust them.” Fatin mused, pulling on her sleep shorts. Leah had known the joking back there was for the other's benefit, she knew when Fatin was forcing humor to cover something up or help others out.

“We can’t,” Leah replied. “But we don’t have any other options. We can’t get them out, and Seth and Raf know where we are. At least with the guys here it's...” 

“Additional bodies in the line of fire.” 

Leah nodded, wrapping her arms around Fatin who was now perched on the edge of their bed. 

“What did Seth do? You cut me off earlier. I’m assuming you know something I don’t unless you were just tired of my voice, which is totally unrealistic because it’s sexy as fuck.” 

“I don’t know anything for sure.” Leah shook her head. “Just random things Raf said and the way Kirin acts around Josh. I think there was a sexual assault on their island. I’m guessing between Seth and Josh because all the others,” 

“Are incredibly protective of him,” Fatin murmured. “Thank you, for cutting me off. I didn’t think… I just, I shouldn’t have pried and made him felt like he needed to air his shit.” 

“Maybe he’d feel comfortable tell people with time, it’s just, with Martha too,” 

“You know about Martha?” Fatin questioned, mind reeling. 

“I heard her and Toni once talking about things. Then again when Martha disassociated she said some things and I,” Leah’s voice broke. “Don’t get me wrong, I was never assaulted. But after I broke up with Jeff, I did the same thing on occasion. Actually, even when I was with him; sometimes we'd fight and I'd just check out. I was in and out of my local mental health unit after the breakup because it used to freak my parents the hell out. I’d just space out, not for days but minutes at a time. Maybe twenty minutes at worst.” 

“How do I help you if that happens?” Fatin’s hand was holding her hip, tapping nervously at the skin as her nose sunk into Leah’s neck. 

“It hasn’t happened in ages. But I couldn’t say. I hated when my parents moved me and shit but with you, I think it would help if you just held me until I came around. Certain things help ground me like smells or sounds, music used to help on occasion. But,” Leah leaned back into her touch. “You smell like home in a way, I can’t explain it. So just hold me, like this? I'll be fine so don't worry.” 

Fatin nodded. “We should have probably talked through all of this earlier right?” 

“Yeah. Maybe. I don’t know, most of the shit the doctors recommended never helped, they just assumed I was depressed -which I guess I was- but they never thought to ask why. I think when I get back, I’ll find someone that specialises in OCD.” Leah muttered. “I looked into it a lot before the retreat, and I think medication and therapy could help. I’ve gotten past Jeff now but there’s definitely shit surrounding him and also habits I’ve formed since that I need to resolve or at least work on. I don’t think I realised quite how much I pick my brows or bite my nails or…” She trailed off. “Before you started physically stopping me.” Leah smiled. “But I can’t rely on you stopping me constantly when we’re off the island. I need to have ways of helping myself and my thoughts.” 

Fatin pulled her in tighter. “If you ever need me to go with you to medical appointments, I’ll totes clear my schedule. Honestly, I think I could do with a shit tonne of therapy after this too. Not that I think any amount is ever going to make this shit leave my brain. It’s like hollowed out its own personal hell there.” 

Lifting her hand to her mouth, Leah kissed her fingers. “Mm.” She chewed on her lip. “But whilst we’re still here, we need to now figure out how to get Martha to let us use that damn phone.” 

“Maybe she’ll break knowing Seth’s out there?” 

Leah shook her head. “No, she had her chance. Many chances. Plus, she knows we're safe here, Toni’s been at risk on both islands. Unless she thinks she’s at risk of death I think she’s holding out.” Leah yawned, the weight of the day finally settling on her shoulders.

“Come on, let’s get some sleep.” 

They curled up into bed, Fatin spooning Leah because she could see her girlfriend was beginning to spiral. She was theorising since the moment she saw the boys. Eyes erratic as always. 

So, Fatin held her. Kissed her neck. And Leah felt herself sighing into the embrace, Fatin's hold already calming the tides that threatened to take her back out.

“Fatin why are you squishing my boob?”

“It’s like a stress ball.” 

Leah spun around in her arms. “You’re so fucking weird.”

“You love it.” Fatin smiled, kissing her nose and moving her hands to her ass. 

“Really?” 

“I’m stressed.” Fatin moaned. “Sleep.”

“It’s kind of hard to sleep with you squishing my fleshy parts.” 

Fatin groaned. “Oh, that sounded so gross.” She stilled her hands. “Night squishy.” 

“Shut the fuck up.” Leah grinned, eyes already slipping shut. 

Chapter Text

Leah POV

Days elapsed, and with their passing came the realisation that they needed to gather fresh food. Their produce pile had diminished and what was left sat browning at the edges; not fairing greatly in the heat now that the door was eternally shut. It had warmed the bunker significantly, leaving everyone in their shorts that they had cut out of sweatpants, and Fatin was sat fanning herself with one of the books she had taken from the storeroom, ripped apart and folded. (A sight that made Leah cringe.) 

It also didn’t help that the shower hose was situated on the outer wall of the bunker, and everyone was currently too fearful to leave and use it; instead washing in the single sink they had available. Kirin especially was rocking a body odour that had Shelby scrunching up her nose from where she sat next to him.

“So, Shelby is checking traps with Kirin.” 

“I’ll go with them,” Toni added instantly. 

“It doesn’t need three people, right?” Martha debated, offering Shelby a sympathetic smile. “Shelby and Kirin will be fine.” 

“Marty,” Toni shot her a look that stated her choice wasn’t up for debate. “I’m going. I’m not leaving Shelby alone with frat dude here.” She lifted her chin in Kirin's direction.

“Frat dude?” Kirin laughed. “Oh, you wound me Shalifoe.” 

“Yeah, keep laughing and I’ll punch you in the dick.” They were both smiling though. 

The pair seemed to get on the past few days with some unspoken sports bond. It helped that Kirin was protecting Shelby from Scotty’s short tempter the past couple of days; the bubbly human an easy target to his rage, always being overly sweet and helpful to the point that Scotty lost it at her. To be fair to him she was treating him like a nurse to a wounded veteran, catering to his every slight movement with another question of if she could get him anything. It made Leah laugh, watching Shelby nervously blabbering around him about church and prom committee, unsure of what to say or do because lord forbid she talk about Bo. It was a car crash of epic verbal proportions. 

She had major verbal diahh… Dirrah? Dhio… Diarrhoea?

Verbal Diarrhoea. A language Leah was also fluent in.

Whilst none of the groups had truly bonded together; they got on to a degree. Fatin with Ivan ranting about the recent season of The Real Housewives and Selling Sunset. Toni talked sports with Kirin who she initially hated but quickly made room for after his constant protection of Josh and Shelby. Josh seemed to get on well with Martha; both happily sat in peace exchanging small smiles or trading book recommendations for ones they found out back. 

Leah got on surprisingly well with Henry. He had an edge and a done-with-the-world moment to him that she could vibe with. That and they both had similar music tastes, whilst Leah was indie as shit now she had previously had a three-year emo phase she hoped Fatin would never find pictorial evidence of. Fatin however was now aware it existed after she and Henry traded favourite System of A Down songs within her earshot.

And Scotty? Scotty was still a mess, barely socialising. He normally remained withdrawn, hands massaging his temples as if he was planning something. But when he did decide to be present, he sat near Rachel, seeming to accept that she had lost a hand and a sister, so if anyone understood his grief here it was her. She also cut him no slack, treating him as she did all the other guys which he appreciated (unlike nurse Shelby.) 

“Okay, so it’s Toni and Shelby with Kirin on food collection today and to reset traps.”  

“Are we feeling good about this?” Josh threw out. “Because I’m scared as heck to open those doors.” 

“If they wanted to kill us all they had a chance,” Kirin spoke. “He could have killed us, we were all asleep. Easy access. Boom.” He mimicked dropping a mic. “But we’re all here, right? So, there must be some reason they didn’t kill us. I’m assuming Seth really doesn’t want to piss off mommy dearest, Gretchen.” 

“Ew,” Fatin grimaced. “Seth's Mum fetish aside can we just like, circle back? It’s only an hour, max. That’s all it will take to sort food, okay? There’s no need to worry.” 

But Leah could tell from the way Fatin worked her jaw that she was, in fact, worrying.

Leah felt less so; it was a simple food-gathering expedition and as Kirin had stated, they were all alive for one reason or another. It made no sense for Seth to leave the other guys alive unless it was because he needed something.

“Okay, we’ll head out in thirty minutes.” Shelby smiled.

The group broke apart with Fatin ushering Shelby into hers and Leah’s room, pulling the door shut behind the three of them. “Shelby -my Texan pageant hottie- we need to talk.” 

Shelby smiled awkwardly at the pair who were staring her down intensely. 

“May I ask why? It’s feeling awfully like an intervention in here.” Shelby wriggled under their gaze. “I’m sweating like a pig with y’all looking at me like that so please, speak. Right now, you’re looking at me with a look that says either you have more dirt on Gretchen, or you want to invite me for a threesome, and either way I’m shaking like a leaf over here.”

“It’s not about a threesome,” Leah added shocked, as Shelby sighed in relief.

“Hey, babe let’s not rule that out.” Fatin held a palm up. “Right now, that short hair is giving her major Vin Diesel vibes and my Fast and Furious kink is saying hell yes.”

“Gross,” Leah groaned at the same time Shelby yelled, “I do not look like that old man!”

“Okay let’s not shit on Vinny boy he has a unique charm. Like that vein in his forehead? Ugh. Perfection.” 

Leah sighed, pinching the skin between her brows. “Martha is an operative.” 

The smile dropped off Shelby’s face, freezing momentarily in a frown before she broke into laughter that bubbled louder from subtle to crazed in seconds. “Martha? Sweet innocent Martha? That girl couldn’t harm a fly.” 

“I caught her using a phone.” 

“As if.” 

“Leah showed it to me,” Fatin muttered, slightly pissed that even after all Leah was right about; Shelby still didn't believe her. “The day the boys arrive we passed the tree and sure as fuck it’s there.” 

“But it's password protected. We need to scare her into using it. It’s the only way we get off this island.” 

They heard a loud cough outside the door, someone pushing it aside until a slim figure slunk through it. “Babes you may want to move this convo to the other side of the room where people can’t hear you.” Ivan pulled them all aside. “Continue...” 

Leah and Fatin’s eyes were wide, hearts thudding. “We don’t know what you,” 

“Oh, please bitches, Martha is too fucking quiet. It’s always the ones you least expect with the juiciest shit lurking in the closet.” He smiled. “But I’m not saying shit. Not that flaunting this wouldn’t get me some friendship points with the guys, but I want my ass off of this island. They think with their fists and their dicks and truth be told I was born with combination skin that will die unless I get back to my skin cream.” 

“Oh, which one do you use?” Fatin asked. 

“Not the time!” Leah barked. Her hands wedged into her hair, mind spiralling over how this plan had gone to crap before even truly becoming a plan. “We have minutes to figure this out… Shelby, are you helping or not?” 

“I just,” Shelby paced. “Martha?” She squeezed her eyes shut. “Martha who blushed when we caught her reading a book that used the phrase ‘his member’? Martha who fawns over the idea of love and true happiness and fairy tales, that Martha?”

Yes. That Martha, Leah was just as rocked by the information; if there was one girl that she thought wasn’t in on this she would have said her. Martha was their emotional rock; witty and stable at the beginning when all of them were breaking, friendly and helpful. But at the same time; that’s exactly why she should have suspected her. “I know this is a lot to take onboard but yes. I know she’s sweet, but we also don’t know why she’s doing this. What Gretchen could be taunting over her, you know? Martha would do anything to protect Toni so maybe,” 

“Gretchen has something on her.” 

“Or is offering something she needs,” Leah confirmed. “Are you in?” 

“I can’t betray Toni.” 

Leah shook her head. “We can’t tell her. She would never believe us, she would go straight to Martha.” 

And Shelby knew deep down that this was true. Unless Martha told Toni herself, she would always take her side. Hell, even if Martha told her herself, she may still not believe it. 

“What’s the plan?” Shelby relented.

They went over it, Ivan providing an extra hand in the plan which Leah was surprisingly thankful for. She was fairly certain that Bo was the other group's operative -especially as he mystically knew the code to Seth’s area door- which meant she placed a little more trust in Ivan. Not that she had any choice; he had overheard enough to throw them under the Gretchen-shaped bus if needed.

“You’re saying I need to take Toni and Kirin on a longer route and get us ‘lost’ until Martha panics?” 

They nodded. 

“Then I leave to go find them with Josh, but plant one of Toni’s spare shirts covered in blood taken from Scotty’s dirty shirt in the back room.” Ivan added. 

“Then we all need to strike the fear of God into her. Maybe you heard screams?”

Ivan nodded. “I took years of theatre; I can really sell a fake tear.” 

Fatin had to restrain her laughter. 

“Which means that I just have to lie to Toni.” Shelby nodded. “Yeah. I can totally do that. Totally.” Her hands rested on her hips, chin bobbing as she nodded frantically; attempting to convince herself that any of the words she had just spoken were true.

Fatin laid clammy palms on Shelby’s shoulders. “It’s one lie, one small lie to get everyone, to get Toni out of here, okay? One small lie and you save her life, Shelby.” 

“For Toni.” Shelby agreed. “One small lie, for Toni.” She relayed as if trying to pep herself up. 

A fist knocked on the door and slid it open. “Uh, Toni and Kirin are waiting for you, Shelby.” Dot smiled. “You guys having some kind of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants moment in here? I feel like I’m breaking up a group bonding session.” 

“Ivan was just giving tips on Shelby growing her hair back out.” Fatin smiled. 

“I’m glad I didn’t have to sit through that riveting moment.” She moved her gaze to Shelby. “You good to go?” 

“As ever.” Shelby smiled. 


“Are we feeling confident about that?” Fatin asked. 

“Like we have a choice.” Leah and Ivan spoke simultaneously. 

 


 

They waited, biding their time until an hour passed. Then two. Three. Shelby was doing a fantastic job. 

“Should we be worried at the fact they’re not back yet?” Martha was worrying her lip. 

“No, Shelby’s probably just chewing their ears off about her pageant days.” Fatin smiled, comfortingly. Leah was both shocked and fearful at just how well she was selling this. 

Remind her never to mess with that girl. 

“I don’t mind doing a quick search. I’m sure they’re probably back and just warming food up at the fire pit.” Ivan smiled. “Josh, wanna come with?” 

Josh grinned, nodding rapidly and completely prepared to help. “Totally, we’ve got this.” He smiled at Martha. “Knight in not so shining armour here.” He pointed his thumbs to his shirt, still stained with Bo’s blood.

Ivan grabbed a bag; one that Leah had dropped the bloody shirt into earlier. “We’ll be back soon.” He smiled at Martha. “Don’t worry, if anything they probably just found a good amount of food, which is great seeing as though we have two parties to feed right now.” 

Martha smiled weakly. 

Leah tried not to smile. It was working, Martha was already looking on edge, toying with the fabric of her hoodie. It still enraged Leah that this girl was withholding their very freedom, had tilted them all on the edge of this mess and didn’t bat an eyelash unless it affected Toni. Even then, she wasn’t jumping for the phone. 

“It’s working,” Fatin whispered to her. Leah simply nodded in return. 

It might. But her plans had gone wrong before, so now she found that being pessimistic until they touched down on home turf was the safest bet. Leah had been so certain that she had Gretchen… So certain she had won. Yet now she knew, she had not won until they were all home. Even then they would still be playing this hell hole of a game, but at least at that point, she would have her books and a soft duvet at night. Her parents, school. Some normality.

 


 


“They should have been back by now.” Dot eventually spoke up after twenty more minutes, looking fearful. 

Leah knew there was a chance that she should have brought Dot and Rachel in on the truth, but the more people that knew the bigger the risk there was, and truthfully Leah had no way of knowing that there still weren’t more operatives. To add to that Leah had seen Dot’s shoddy acting ability when she forced a smile and told her she would be fine before handing her a benzo back on the first island. The fewer people they brought in the higher the chance they had of it working. 

“I’m sure they’re fine.” Leah smiled, nervously. She didn't have to fake her nerves, all their hopes of getting out of here rode on this scheme working.

“Yeah Dorothy, I’m sure Kirin is just standing watch whilst Shoni bone in the woods.” Fatin grinned.

“Gross.” Scotty groaned. 

“Oh, are we a little homophobic there Scotty?” Fatin mused. 

“No, sex must just be gross out here. All that dirt and leaves sticking up your you know where.” He spoke around a mouthful of chips. 

Well, Leah certainly wasn’t expecting that, but that was also an accurate description of the sex out here. 

The door to the building creaked, thudding rippling through the air as they looked through the view hole. 

“See, they’re back.” Fatin smiled, letting in Ivan and Josh. 

Josh was looking pale; vomit coated his chin making Fatin herself gag slightly. 

Immediately Martha was out of her seat, pulling the t-shirt from Ivan’s grasp. “What is that?” She examined the shirt looking at the tag that marked all of their clothes. Sure enough, there sat a T on the label, the permanent marker now muddied with blood. “Toni, guys Toni!” Her hands shook rapidly as she went to the door. 

“Martha,” Leah yelled. “You can’t go out there. That too much blood…” 

“She needs serious medical help.” Ivan was crying and my god was he selling it. The boy deserved a fucking Oscar as tears poured down his cheeks, head shaking as his lip quivered. “More help than we have on this damn island. We,” Ivan shook his head. “There’s nothing we can do except for finding her… Them…. Make sure they’re comfortable, okay?” 

Make sure they’re comfortable. God this boy was living his Grey’s Anatomy moment, and it was quite honestly making Leah tear up herself at the loss of Toni she knew was entire bullshit.

“I’ll get the medical bag,” Dot whispered, hands shaking. “We can give her something strong, she’ll sleep through the pain Martha.” 

Martha was shaking her head rapidly. “No, no, Toni; she’ll be okay.” 

Ivan shook his head. “I saw more blood.” Jesus, he was a miracle worker. “So much blood,” His eyes drifted, and Leah knew what he was channelling. Memories of Bo. It was too flawless of a performance not to be something there in his mind haunting him right now. 

“No!” Martha shook her head. “What if we get her help? Dot how long does she have?” 

Dot baulked. “I wouldn’t know until we see her. Most major injuries need attention immediately or in the first twenty-four hours depending on how fast she’s bleeding out. I watched some documentary called ‘I Shouldn’t Be Alive’ or something…” Dot was anxiously tapping the bottle of tablets. “They saved people after far longer than should have been possible, but we can’t do that Martha. If it’s anything causing that much blood loss it’s unlikely,” 

“I have a way of contacting someone.” Martha was shaking entirely, body heaving in Joshes hold. Josh who quickly released her from his grasp; confused. “I have a phone for contacting HQ. I didn’t mean to guys. I didn’t want to, you have to understand me but Gretchen,” 

She was spiralling, beginning to lose it so Leah gripped her shoulders firmly, grounding her. “Where’s the phone, Martha? We can save her but we need to contact someone, fast.” 

“I can show you.” 

Chapter Text

Shelby POV

 

Shelby’s hands shook as she led the two others deeper into the forest. Whilst she could say the fear quaking her digits stemmed from the chance that there was a guy in this forest willing to murder; it was truly because she knew on some -all- levels that Toni wouldn’t forgive her for this. 

“Are we almost there yet?” Toni groaned. 

Travelling with Toni in the heat was much like travelling with the donkey from Shrek; she received the same question every other minute to the point that Kirin was now shouting out numbers after, keeping count in his own personal travel game.

“Fifty!” Kirin grinned.

“Yeah, we’re almost there.” No, not really. 

Shelby had forgone the nearby traps and was instead hiking with them practically to the other side of the island where Martha had begun to lay more distant ones in hopes of catching something larger in the denser overgrowth. They didn’t need to know that though, Shelby knew for a fact that Toni only went with Martha on the collection of fresh goods; meaning she was none the wiser to Shelby leading her on the eternal hike in order to freak Martha out. But at the same time, she wasn’t entirely lying; she was taking them to traps Martha and she had set.


Shelby’s mind had been a mess since her arrival on this island as somehow, it was more suffocating than the first. Though it was less humid now she felt like a dog trapped in a hot car; the ones people see and immediately break in a window to rescue from fear of imminent death. 


Toni was her anchor, this grounding sense on the first island that made her feel that bit safer. It was only a little taste of solace, but it was enough to keep her positive, and afloat. Yet that last day had severed the rope of that anchor from her leg, sending her emotions hurtling into the unknown, that safety now revoked. 

Toni didn’t love her. 

It was a fact that made her heart sink, a sickness steeping into her stomach. Initially, it was the sheer panic she had risked her devotion to God for someone who simply cast her away. But during her stay in the bunker she had more time than necessary to sit with those feelings; to question them and pry until they unravelled. 

Toni was not responsible for her feelings of failing god in any way shape or form. And truly, Shelby didn’t believe she was either; because she now believed that there were other ways to worship and belong than simply the ones she was taught. 

Faber. Dang Faber of all fricken people. 

Shelby hated him; truly. Knew from the start that he was in on all of this after she and Fatin had found the phone. As soon as she arrived, Shelby treated people with kid gloves, worried if she squeezed too hard they would know their façade had long since cracked. So, Shelby -much like Leah- began to work on them in her own way, let them in just enough to mold them into the pawns she needed plays from. Be it food, drink, or seeing Toni. She worked them, playing the crazed blonde Christian who fell from her pageant hights…a simple task to complete after you shaved your head in an emotional breakdown. 

(Then again isn’t that just how all gays handle pain? With drastic haircuts and colour changes?) Hell, Leah had a blue strip highlight after she was given a pat on the back by Amanda in gym class, who had called her a ‘great pal’ after saving her from a dodgeball catastrophe. (Leah took the ball to the face instead, only to be placed in the definite category of friendship. It also turned out that Amanda was straight which probably didn’t help her already slim chances.) Fatin had been there at the time, taking a momentary reprieve from examining her manicure to laugh at the complete dork pelted in the nose by a ball.

But Faber was not what Shelby expected. She never trusted him; knew he was just as messed up as the rest of them to partake in this. Yet, Shelby held hope that maybe he had his reasons, a family he was protecting, though that still excused none of it. 

However, one day he came by her room, unannounced. Though he said little he dropped a couple of books into Shelby’s hands, ones she frowned at, only picking them up days later. 

Books that looked at why gay people had just as much a place in religion as anyone else, books that delved into the original texts and how much of the homophobic language was incorrectly translated, especially in the King James III bible. The weight of that paper in her hands broke her because Shelby didn’t entirely hate her religion. She got why some people did; knew that for many it caused nothing but pain. For Shelby it had; immense, torturous pain. But it had also gotten her through her grandma’s death, through the fact her dad was an asshole, and her mum was oblivious to her pain. Through the hatred of every pageant or grip too tight from her ex, and most of all … It had gotten her through Becca. God for Shelby was an outlet for her pain, did it create it too? Sure. But she also felt like she needed her belief, that perhaps it was the one thing that would get her through this shit, because without it, Shelby wasn’t entirely sure who she was. 

Religion was her culture and life.

Though she doubted she would ever step foot in her church ever again, the books held a weight of hope; that somewhere, perhaps she’d find a church that would welcome her for exactly who she was. Without wanting to send her to conversion camps to pray away something as innocent as love. 

“Not much further now.” She smiled weakly. They must have been travelling for at least an hour and a half now, though she had no watch she knew roughly the time it took her and Martha to get there originally.  But the thought persisted; a couple of hours may not be enough for the others to create doubt and darn did Shelby wanted that freedom. 

“I feel like my balls are screaming at me right now. Like, years of football was nothing compared to walking in this weather.” Kirin scratched at his crotch.

“Could you maybe not talk about your balls right now?” Toni grumbled. 

“The first trap is just up here,” 

“The first?” Kirin winced. 

“There’s five,” Shelby smiled, leaning down to unload the rabbit stuck in the first trap. In truth, there were only four; two small animal traps with wire and two larger traps with more complex triggers. However, if she needed extra time looking, a fifth would give her something to work with. 

“Oh, you’re serious? Really?” He held the rabbit up to examine it. “You know on our island we caught a jaguar.” 

“This isn’t a pissing contest.” Toni grinned. “And Marty caught a goat which probably tasted a whole lot better than a feral fucking cat.” 

It did dawn on Shelby now that perhaps that's how Martha found the goat, the fact that she was an operative.

“Wait you guys had goats?”

“Yeah,” Shelby smiled. “We pretty much lived off of fish, rabbit and goat there.” She didn’t mention the lychees, because with that came memories she was ever failing to repress. Toni’s mouth on her bare skin, the way she stared off in thought as her hand caressed her hair after they finished. The laughter that bubbled up when-

“Same with the fish. But also, the peanut butter was pretty bomb.” 

“I’m sorry the what?” Toni whirled around. 

“We had like, Sour Patch Kids, peanut butter tubs, so much beer, and Fiji water. Oh, and salsa, canned meat, soup…” 

“Y’all had what?” Shelby was confused now. Gretchen had given them similar environments so why did they have all of that? 

“Yeah, it was pretty decent aside from the whole stranded shit. And the Jag shit. Oh, and Seth.” Kirin grimaced. “Plus, at least your island had romance. Though I am still weirded out that Fatin and Leah are a thing. They seem hella different personality-wise. It’s like Ariana dating Pete Davidson.” 

“Yeah, they are kinda different.” Shelby agreed. “I think that’s why they work so well though. Also, as nonchalant as Fatin likes to pretend she is, she saved Leah’s life more times than I can count back on that first island. They’re basically inseparable, it’s a good thing they came here together because I’m pretty sure one of them would be moving after we return otherwise.” 

Kirin seemed to nod at that, he had noted Fatin’s fierce protection of Leah the first time they met at the bunker. The way she held Leah as she screamed bloody murder on that rooftop, refusing to let any of the guys near them as she shot glares at anyone who so much as looked at Leah like she was crazy. 

“Did you two ever hook up?” Kirin grinned. “Two lesbians left and those two are taken…” 

Toni crouched, suddenly interested in checking the snare she had no idea how to set. 

“We,” Shelby swallowed the lump in her throat. “I,” Oh gosh was Toni seriously not going to help with this? She was drowning over here in full view, the question burning at her ears and cheeks, her teeth sinking into her lip as she put her hands on her hips and slumped slightly. “Uh yeah. Just briefly though. Can we talk about something else?” 

“Oh my god, you guys boned?” Kirin was grinning like a Cheshire cat at this point; failing to sense the discomfort. 

“How about you hop off our dicks and find the fucking food, dude?” Toni bit, walking into his space with dark eyes and jaw hard set. 

“How about we just take a moment?” Shelby tried to deflate the situation, though their bickering would at least gain her a little extra time. 

“Oh, am I sensing some tense vibes here?” Kirin smiled, dodging the shove Toni tried to knock him back with. He was used to messing around with Toni, the two bickering constantly but he was yet to realise Toni had another side to her when she got protective. One that she couldn’t always tamper down.

But the last thing Shelby wanted was for Toni to lose her temper because anytime she did it would eat away at her, for days after with the fact she had lost it and hurt someone, or embarrassed and let down those around her. As much as she pretended not to be bothered by how she responded, Shelby knew that Toni would obsess for days, weeks… possibly even months after those interactions, berating herself, alone and closed off.

“Toni.” Shelby placed a palm on her shoulder. “It’s fine.” 

“It’s not fine Shelby, you told him to drop it so he can fucking drop it.” Toni this time did land a shove against him, one that only set Kirin back a pace seeing as though Toni was half his size. It was a bit like watching Tom being attacked by Jerry.

However, that shove and something that changed in Toni’s features now, let Kirin know he needed to stop. This wasn’t their usual back and forth

“Okay, okay.” He rose his palms in surrender. “I’m sorry, okay. No longer bringing it up, I swear.” 

Toni still fumed but calmed slightly when Shelby met her gaze and smiled dorkily. “Hey.” 

“Hey.” 

“I’m good.” Shelby smiled. “We should find the traps though, the last thing we want is rancid meat.” 

Toni shifted awkwardly, nodding and following alongside her. 

“I’m just gonna hang back a few meters, in case you two need to… talk.” Kirin lifted the rabbit beside his head. “I’ve got Jessica here for company anyway.”

Shelby scoffed. “Jessica Rabbit?” 

“Fitting, right?” He grinned but remained behind, following ten or so meters behind them, just out of earshot. 

“He’s weirdly annoying but I can't find it in me to hate him.” Toni grumbled. 

“I think he’s cute, in like, a Troy Bolton kinda way.” 

“Oh, he’s cute?” 

“You’re not jealous right now, are you?” Shelby grinned. “You remember that I’m a lesbian, right? Pretty sure Kirin back there isn’t on our team.

“Shut up.” Toni smiled though, the weight of the anger slipping from her shoulders. 

 

 

 

They fell into a safer back and forth. Though they had gotten better at conversing there was still a huge distance between them that wasn’t ever there before; even when they first met and hated each other. 

Really Shelby never hated Toni, probably loved the tiny human from day three. 

She had seen her on that plane in those basketball shorts and immediately dropped into her seat with a blush on her face, peddling a 'get to know one another' game so she could listen in to Toni’s answers from where she sat. 

Shelby had many crushes on girls at that point, but Beca and Toni were both different. It was this immediate infatuation that left her thinking at every moment about what they were doing, and who they were with. What their lips would taste like. 

Then Toni kissed her… Every inch of her as they slept together in the forest, under that tree, against the tree, in the waterfall… you get the idea

Shelby had been so certain it was love, returned. 

Not that she was just something temporary that Toni didn’t need like she did. If anything Toni seemed unbothered by their breakup, something that ate away at her heart. Barely looked at her, and avoided talking to or sitting near her on most days. Occasionally she did something small like passing Shelby a Taki, a gesture Shelby analysed hour after hour for context, but those gestures were few and far between.

Shelby could deal with having to have Toni in her life as just a friend. Sure, it would be painful, but her anchor would still be there just in a different shape than before. But the fact Toni now treated her like an outcast, avoided her. That seriously hurt. That pain left Shelby crying each night, Dot letting her cry messily into her shoulder. Dotty had seriously stepped up as she saw a level of pain no one else was privy to. Rachel saw it sometimes but Dot supported her at every single moment, this unspoken bond always there from their growing up together; even if distant. Dot knew when she was faking a smile or laugh, had spent years hearing the rehearsed quality.

Shelby wasn’t just crying about her loss of Toni though. It was the fact her hair was gone too. Shelby wasn’t sure who she was anymore, she actually loved her hair; missed it. Whilst she would keep it shorter, she didn’t want it short, or non-existent. She had felt at the time like she was severing her last tie to Toni, to her religion, but truly she missed everything. Her hair, God, Toni. 

Shelby just needed an anchor back. 

Any anchor.

Chapter Text

Shelby POV

 

“Fourth trap is up here guys. There are also fruit trees down on the beach over there” Shelby called out. 

If they failed at finding much in the traps, the fruit may be able to keep them fed for a while without risking Seth again. Shelby also figured that there was a decent chance -if Seth and Raf were still here- that they had already stumbled upon Martha’s traps set near the camp. If she was in Seth’s murderous shoes and did not know how to locate food, the first thing she would think to do is source it from others who did. Then again, maybe that was just years of hunting with her daddy talking. 

“Okay ladies, I’m gonna take a leak and grab some fruit,” Kirin called. 

“Is that safe?” Toni panicked. “Maybe you should wait, we can go together.” 

Kirin laughed. “I have taken Seth out more times than I can count with these guns.” He beamed as he flexed his biceps. “Also, Seth isn’t one for exercise, complained to heck the one time I suggested we explore, so I doubt they would come this far out. Honestly, I don’t even think he’s on the island anymore.” 

“What do you mean they’re not on the island?” 

“Why would he leave watching us -free reality tv- just to hang out in the forest with Raf? I doubt Gretchen only has the one viewing room in that bunker, plus he could always call her and change the key code now that Bo is gone. If he’s working for Gretchen, he has a way off this island. Seth’s also a bit of a pussy; as soon as that little creep killed Bo, he would have known she would be mad. I’m assuming watching us was his last chance after he ruined the first island, and he was talking about Gretchen back in the bunker like she was his mum, muttering to himself about not fucking this up.” 

“He messed up?” 

“Not talking about it. But after this he knows there’s no coming back, so why stick around? Seth fixates on people, he’s a damn creep. But one of those people? I’m assuming it’s Gretchen. So, either he’s off to find her, or he’s running to do something he thinks will please her; and killing us? Well, clearly it wouldn’t. Sure, he likes to come across as being all about power, but really? He’s hungry for a pat on the back from mommy dearest like a two-year-old.” 

Shelby nodded, maybe she should cut Kirin slightly more slack, the boy was clearly brighter than she gave him credit for. He reminded her of her ex-boyfriend in a way, boyish and loud, ignorant at times, and flirted with anyone that walked. Maybe that's why she initially detested him so much, he was a reminder that if they got out of here she was returning to Andrew.
 
“Okay, but if you see anything you yell for us. Even if it’s a dang rabbit.” 

“I will yell if I see a dang rabbit.” He parroted. 

She shook her head as she watched him strolling off into the distance. Sure, Kirin reminded her of her ex in some ways, but there was something else to him kind of like Shelby. Another layer that said he had more depth than most would assume from a first glance. Something behind his eyes that gave him a bit more grit than a spoiled jock would have, maybe a struggle like her own.

“How’s the trap looking?” Toni knelt beside her. 

“Something's set it off but gotten away. It’s good though, means we’ve laid them in the right places. My daddy always said there’s no fun in making a quick buck.” Gosh she needed to stop quoting that man, it was like breathing at this point though, so hammered into her on a daily basis that trying to stop was tricker than shooting Bambi on ice. “Hopefully something passes through here again. Until then we’ve got three rabbits and Kirin should find a load of fruit on the beach there. I’ll set one extra trap on this path though… Will give us more chances at catching something. I’m guessing they pass through here regularly to get to the small lake up there.”

“How long will what we have last us?” 

“A week, maybe.” Shelby sighed. “But only because we still have some dry rations. Once those runout, we’re all on our own and we’ll need to be hunting every other day again regardless of Seth being out here. We’ll also need to find more fresh sources for fruit; once we eat all that, there’s nothing new on those plants and trees until they grow back next season, which I’m really hoping we don’t see here. Would kinda like to be back in an actual bed by that point, maybe blasting a bit of Dolly.” 

“Shit,” Toni grumbled. 

“It’s fine. I don’t mind laying more traps and Kirin would probably be up for learning.” 

“I don’t mind learning,” Toni added, pulling her knees to her chest and resting her chin on them. 

“No offence, but the two times we did try and show you, you walked off and ended up collecting firewood instead.” 

“There was just so much talk about knots and balance.” Toni retorted. “How can I pay attention when we’re just talking about knots. I was hoping for action or slingshots, you know, fun shit.”

Shelby bobbed her chin as she placed the stick at an angle, supporting the trap. “Yeah, well it turns out stranded island life is anything but fun.” 

“I wouldn’t say the first island was all bad,” Toni considered. 

The words caused Shelby to briefly lose her balance, putting pressure on the stick and taking the weighted rock down on top of her hand. “Ah, dang it,” Shelby groaned. 

“You okay?” 

But Toni was all over her, a hand already lifting the rock and taking Shelby’s fingers between her own to examine them. It was too much; the proximity in the way Toni was leaning over her, the contact, their faces almost flush and hands together. It made her face flush; head spinning as she went back to that moment. Telling Toni that she loved her only to hear nothing back. The way Toni lost it with her when Martha was sick. The fact she had mostly ignored her for weeks. It was the weight of all of those truths that suffocated her in a way Shelby hadn't felt since Beca. A way that eclipsed her world with a darkness that left her reaching for the hand of a God she wasn't sure wanted her right now.

“I’m fine.” Shelby snapped, pulling back her bloodied hand from her grip. 

“Shelby you’re not,” Toni started. 

“I said I’m fine.” She stood, one hand wiping her tears as she assessed where she could walk off to for some peace, but then again, she wouldn’t leave Toni. Not with Seth possibly around. 

“Shelby, please let me look at it,” Toni pleaded. Her eyes were watery too, lip trembling as she reached out for Shelby’s hand again only for Shelby to take a step back. The gesture sunk fear into Toni’s bones, a realisation that maybe Shelby wasn’t as okay as she was pretending to be settling upon her. Though, Toni had her suspicions after the Shelbald moment on island one. “I just want to clean it up, okay?” 

“I can do it,” Shelby dismissed, already reaching for the bag. 

“Shelby,” 

“I can do it.” 

“Fucking hell Shelby!” Toni yelled. “Just let me clean up your damn hand!” Toni was shaking now, hands gripped around the same bag Shelby eventually let drop. “Please?” Her voice cracked, breaking around the edges. 

Shelby knew she could say 'no' now and that Toni would accept it. But on some level part of her couldn't bear to see her crumble anymore as a result of her actions.

“Fine.” Shelby lifted her hand, wincing as Toni wiped it down and looked at the damage. 

“Does it hurt?” 

“No, I think it’s just bruised... Grazed a bit. The rock wasn’t that heavy.” 

Toni sighed; the rock was heavy. It was also jagged, having left some nasty gouges in the flesh around her knuckles.  “When we get back Dot needs to take a look at it.” 

“It’s fine.” Shelby shook her head. 

“It’s not fine,” Toni bit. “You need to take care of it, or it’ll get infected.” 

“No,” Shelby shook her head, pulling back her hand after Toni tied the bandage off. “You don’t get to do that anymore.” 

“Do what?” 

“Act as if you care.” Shelby laughed bitterly. 

“I care.” Toni shrunk in on herself, folding her arms and no longer meeting her gaze. 

“Well, it doesn’t seem like it.” Shelby felt the tears staining hot against her cheeks. “You know, I could take you not loving me. It really hurt, it hurt so dang much but I can’t force you to love me back. But you could have at least been there, Toni. This whole time, weeks and you’re barely there. It sucked, gosh, it sucked losing my…” Shelby swallowed. Were they girlfriends? Because really it didn’t feel like it, not now she looked back on it and Toni could just walk away without a single glance back. Toni who she lost her virginity to, which sure, was a small thing to many but to her, it meant so much. It meant more than a couple of weeks, it meant she trusted her. She loved her. And fine, she didn’t think that meant she deserved Toni as more, sex means very different things to everyone, but she did think she deserved respect. Basic care. A friend. “Did you know I almost died in that damn bunker, that they came so close to missing my allergy attack? Or the fact that I’m drowning out here. I’m drowning out here and I’ll be drowning if I go home.” 

“Shelby,” Toni tried to calm her as she watched her breath speeding up, heaving from her chest. 

“No, you don’t get to do this. Not now, not after,” 

“I love you,” Toni broke. A couple of stray tears of her own dripped down her cheek. “I love you and I’m sorry. I wasn’t ready when you said it and I panicked. I don’t do love, that shit never ends well for me okay, I push people away and I don't deserve that shit. I... I didn’t mean to push you away Shelby. But then with Martha, I shouldn’t have said what I fucking said to you, and it was like knocking you down that hill again, okay? I hurt you, I mean you,” Toni swallowed, voice wobbling. “You cut your hair off Shelby because I fucked up. I did that to you,” 

The words floated faintly through her mind. “I cut my hair off because I have some choice coping methods Toni. Not because you made me.” 

“But you wouldn’t have if I hadn’t said what I did. Then we got here and I…” She chewed on her lip. “I couldn’t apologise because there aren’t enough words to say how sorry I am,” 

“You could have talked to me. You could have started exactly there with what you're saying right now. I didn’t care what happened I just needed you.” 

And at the end of the day that was all it was, shit communication and a truly hell-sent predicament neither could control. She hadn't needed a grand gesture, flowers, or the girl down on one dang knee. She'd simply needed this, communication. A couple of words to make her feel less alone in all of this.

Stepping forward, Toni lifted a hand to caress her cheek. “I kind of dig the bald look though.” 

“Oh really?” Shelby smiled weakly, salty tears lacing her lips. She wasn't completely bald now, it was growing back but only just. Enough that if anyone were to run a hand over her hair they'd feel the prickles of roots. 

Toni loved her. 

The thought seeped into her veins and warmed her through. Shelby was never one for grudges unless well deserved, but Toni, Toni didn’t deserve hate or rage. So, she leaned in, let her lips meet her own so tenderly she barely felt her there. 

“I love you,” Toni repeated, louder this time as she backed her up against the tree. 

Shelby gave in to the moment, letting lips brush over her own and then her neck as she fisted a hand in Toni’s hair. Emotion brimmed inside her, this content feeling that had evaded her for weeks… This feeling that she was right where she belonged… Home. She wasn't over what happened between them; was aware they needed to talk things through. Because as much as Shelby was living for this moment now, the truth was that Toni still caused her pain that wouldn't be undone by a makeout against a tree and a confession of love; even though it was a good start.

“I love you too.” Shelby smiled, biting her lip as Toni’s hand trailed inside her shirt. 

“Woop!” Kirin whistled. “Get it Shalifoe!” 

“I’m going to murder him,” Toni spoke into her neck. 

Shelby grinned at Kirin, shaking her head at the absolute joy on his face as he held up a bag filled with food. “We good to go? Or do I need to take another leak for let's say… half an hour?” 

“Shut up,” Toni groaned. “Let’s head back Marty’s probably worried we’re taking an age.” 

And that was the exact moment dread began to seep through Shelby’s, like an ice bath dumped over her head. It was like the world around her for a minute clouded with black at the edges, realisation smothering her with sharp sides. 

It had all been too good.

Toni loved her, and an hour from now Shelby would rip that love up, tear it apart for any truth it was worth. 

“We need to talk.” Shelby coughed, clearing her throat as she rolled on the balls of her feet, deciding whether or not to do this. However, they were heading back anyway, and telling Toni in front of the girls would either lead to more rage or Shelby’s utter humiliation. No, she had to do it now, whilst Toni had some time to cool off whilst hiking back. “Leah has a plan to get us off the island,” She spat out.

“Leah has a plan?” Toni frowned. 

“Wait, she’s getting us out of here?” Kirin grinned. “I’m in, what is it?” 

“That’s the thing,” She paused, gathering the will to go on. “You’re both kind of already a part of it.” 

“What… What the fuck does that mean?” Toni stepped back. 

“Leah caught someone using a phone in the forest, contacting Gretchen’s team. I just needed to keep everyone away long enough that…” 

“They would think something was wrong?” Toni shook her head. “Fuck that girl is always two steps ahead. Why the hell didn’t you tell us sooner? I’m assuming Fatin knows.. maybe Dot..” 

“Just me, Fatin, and Ivan. He overheard.” 

“Of course he did.” Kirin laughed. “That guy is so damn nosy.” 

“So who is it? Josh? He’s kind of quiet right? Always in a book like Nora. Maybe he’s taking notes.” 

“It was one of the girls,” Shelby admitted, Toni freezing instantly. 

“What?” 

“It wasn’t a guy. It was one of the girls.” 

“No, no one would do that. Who the fuck does Leah think it is? Rachel? Dot?” 

“Martha.” Shelby’s voice was raspy, barely getting the name out. 

Toni balked, suddenly laughing. “You’re joking, right? Marty couldn’t even lie to me about the tooth fairy… let alone that.” 

“Toni, I mean it.” 

“You don’t. It’s not funny.” 

“I’m not trying to be funny. Leah saw her using a password-protected phone in the woods just like Jeanette's.” 

“Yeah, I’m sure Leah is just having another one of her moments,” Toni retorted. “You know… like when she thought you…YOU were an operative. Remember that?” 

“She had her reasons for believing that.” 

“I’m sure she’s made the whole thing up in her head, just as she always does.” 

“She was right... She was right about everything else. And Fatin’s seen it too; the phone.” 

“Of course she has.” Toni was already walking back, fast-paced as Kirin and her trailed behind. 

“Toni, wait,” 

“No, you thought you could use me to what, catch her out? Well, you’re all going to look like idiots because Marty would never fucking do that. That girl is the kindest person any of us will ever meet. Donates time she has to the food shelter, runs a knitting class for elderly women, dances, watches Disney films and thinks that romance like that is still possible. She would never,” 

“Fine,” Shelby relented, trying to tamper down her rage. “We’re heading back. I’m sure we’ll see that you’re right but please don’t get mad at me for this.” 

“Then why the fuck did you do it?” 

“Because I wanted to get off this island. I wanted to get you off of this island. Everyone needs to get off this dang island.” 

"Amen." Kirin echoed quietly.

“So you just jumped on the let’s stake Marty parade? Real cool.” 

“Toni,” 

“Don’t. Don’t speak to me.” 

Shelby shut her mouth, eyes red and burning as she followed behind, head bowed in regret. She had trusted Leah, she had thought she was helping, and now if she was wrong… even if by some miracle Leah was right, Toni might still hate her. 

Toni who moments ago loved her, 

Now hated her.

 

Chapter Text

Leah POV 

 

The group trailed Martha, feet pounding into the dirt as they poured through the forest at speed. 

“Toni, god Toni,” Martha muttered repeatedly, swiping vine after vine out of their path. 

Sweat dripped down their brows, Leah heaving for air as she saw the tree in sight. 

It had to work. All she needed was two minutes of a plan coming together to finally get one over on Gretchen. In truth it wasn’t even about getting even at this point; it was simply about getting home. Warm meals, her favourite hoodie… Fuck, she even missed her maths class. But most of all home meant home with Fatin. It meant movie nights and take-out. Revision as she threw balled-up paper notes at the girl’s forehead to piss her off. Actual dates with unlimited choices for food (not that they’d get much peace in public spots like restaurants after this shit.)

She held her breath in anticipation as they finally made it to the tree, Martha wrenching the device from it with shaking hands as she keyed in the passcode before them all.

051104

Leah observed the code from over Martha’s shoulder, subtly jotting it down on a piece of paper on one page of the book she was holding.

Martha lifted the phone to her ear. 

“Will they actually help us though?” Fatin complained, still playing the part. 

Martha placed it on speaker. “I... I don’t know what to say.” 

“Just ask for help. Medical attention. Say lots of us are hurt, if it’s just Toni they may not bother.” 

Martha nodded rapidly as the ringing tone still filled the tense air.


“Hello?” A voice came through the speaker. 

“Hello, HQ it’s… Martha, we are in desperate need of medical attention.” Tears dripped from her eyes, Martha frantically wiping at them with the back of her free hand.  “One participant is injured location is unknown. Two others missing. One dead.” Bo was long since dead, Leah thought, but then again Martha had hardly had the time to slink out of their locked-down bunker to notify them of such matters. 

“Is it Rachel?” A new voice came through the phone. “Is it my sister? Is my sister okay?” 

All eyes widened. “Nora?” Rachel yelled, hands clawing the phone from Martha’s grasp. “Nor, Nor, is that you?” 

“Rachel… It’s me.” The voice was clearer now, a hesitation to it so obviously Nora. “I’m with three agents from the FBI, we’ve been trying to locate you. We’ve been trying to contact the phone for days, but we’ve had no response. I’ve been trying to find you, Rachel.” 

Leah saw the relief pass over Fatin’s face as Nora’s voice sounded, as much as the betrayal had stung Nora had become their family just as much as anyone else out here. Mutual trauma creates a bond, after all, wanted or not.

“Nora, please, Toni,” Martha cut in.

“We can’t find you. There’re too many clusters of Islands in the vague search area we have, and there are too many unidentified donors in Gretchen’s portfolio to source an exact location. Gretchen stopped us from seeing anything when she took us to and from the location. Someone dropped me back at a safe house, but the FBI found it. We can’t find you though.” Nora panicked. “There are so many islands and we have no way of tracking this phone.” Nora sounded hysterical, her voice so fast it was hard to distinguish the words. 

“Hello,” Another older voice added. “This is agent Simmonds of the FBI. Do any of you know anything about the islands we can use? Available food, information on the buildings,” 

“There are bunkers here,” Leah spoke. “Concrete bunkers with fluorescent lighting that looks old. One main one with two stories and an underground one with five rooms total. There are bananas, lychees,” She continued listing off foods before making her way onto the wildlife, any plants Dot recognised she called out. Rachel went over a layout of the building as best as they could describe, but apparently, most bunkers at the time were built using similar existing plans leaving that information to be of little use.

“Is there anything else, maybe on the other islands, building-wise? The issue is so many of these buildings have been made over the years, for a variety of uses. We can’t determine which ones they could be, and we can’t risk searching bunkers that we aren’t in the domain of searching, especially if they’re currently operational or in use by other government agencies. Not without clearly granted permission to do so.” 

Leah shook her head. No, the other islands were blank slates. Entirely blank slates that was the fucking idea. 

“Would an underground bunker count?” Ivan spoke. 

“What?” Leah whipped her head around. 

“We had an underground bunker on ours Raf and Seth found. Filled with Fiji water,” 

“I’m sorry you guys had Fiji water?” Fatin interrupted. 

“Not the time.” Leah groaned. 

“There was food too, and it hadn’t been left by Gretchen this shit was from a while back, a lot was expired.” 

“Was there anything else in it? Ammunition? Medical supplies?” The voice came from the phone. 

“No, just random shit on animals like birds and native species. Sketches and notes from 2006, and another set I saw was dated around 1998.” Ivan turned to Fatin. “We got pretty fucking bored and like, birds are actually super interesting. It’s amazing what one will do without access to E! News.”

Leah scowled at the fact the other team was role-playing as ornithologists whilst binging on peanut butter whilst they were cauterising a severed fucking hand.

“Hang on.” The typing from the agent’s side came through the phone, keys filling the air. “Were the notes in English?” 

“Yes.”

“There are only two islands out of the clusters that had active nature watches operated by English first language speakers at those dates.” 

“That’s good, that’s good right?” Leah questioned. 

“Very. You need to get somewhere safe. Secure. We will send teams out to search both of those clusters for signs of life after gaining permission to do so.” 

“We need to find Toni!” Martha yelled. 

Leah hung up the phone, pocketing it. 

“Hey guys,” Shelby broke as the others strolled up to them.

“What?” Martha frowned. “You’re,” Martha lifted a hand to her face which Toni shrunk away from. “You’re okay?” She smiled. "You're okay! We thought,"

“Marty, I’m not going to say anything right now because I don’t want to kill you.” Toni’s face was red, the veins in her neck bulging slightly as she ground her teeth. “I’m heading back guys. We heard enough.” 

“How long have you been standing there?” Martha’s eyes were illuminated red, sore from tears that still brimmed there.

“A matter of minutes, but long enough. I told her the truth, I’m sorry. She knew there was something I was hiding, and I couldn’t…” Shelby took a deep breath as she spoke to Leah. “We didn’t need more shit between us. But as she was marching us back, we overheard y’all. I guess she heard enough to realise we were right, and the plan worked.” 

“Plan?” Martha frowned.

“We need to get back,” Leah called out. “Martha, believe me, I’m pissed… But from what I know about Nora and you, I know you wouldn’t do this without reason. You’re victims of whatever shit Gretchen was pulling too so let’s head back where we’re safe okay?” Leah still wanted to strangle her, but the rage was fizzling out with how desperate Martha already looked to fix things with Toni. Also, regardless of how pissed she was at her, the words spoken were true. Martha was one of the sweetest people Leah had met, she had forgone her belief of not harming animals for the group's benefit. She had suffered too. This shit would haunt her in its own way, just as it would with them. Plus, she and Nora could be the key to taking down that bitch, they had information on before all of this, and if Gretchen made any mistake it was surely in the preparation.

“Toni,” 

“You can room with me.” Rachel piped up, as Toni walked away. “I’m pissed as shit but I’m not going to murder you in your sleep at least.” 

“Yeah, I’ll switch.” Dot called out, knowing Shelby wouldn’t want to bunk with her ex.


“You have to understand I didn’t want to do this to you.” Martha whimpered. 

“Yeah, well, you did.” Rachel laughed bitterly but there was also an understanding that her sister had done the exact same thing. 

“Maybe just explain why the fuck you did?” Leah shook her head. “And how long has this shit been going on for?” 

“I had to do it, for me, but also Toni,” Martha’s voice was raw. “I...” She swallowed heavily. Waiting until Leah asked the boys to leave before continuing. “I spoke to the DA about a case in 2018 I was involved in.” Her hand trembled at her side. “It was about,” 

“You don’t need to tell us what it was about Martha.” Leah interrupted. They all had a fair idea of what it would be about. 

“I lied. I lied to the DA and told them he didn’t,” She stopped. “I didn’t,” 

Leah rested a hand on her shoulder, lightly. 


“I lied. I lied to the DA. Gretchen isn’t some scientist, not as far as I know. I know her because she was a member of the police team interviewing me for the case; at least one of them. I didn’t see her after, not a word until she showed up at my school one day. I thought she knew and had evidence and she told me she did, offered to make the perjury go away if I just did a few things for her on the first island. That was the deal, two months. I wasn’t meant to monitor you, that wasn’t part of my deal with Gretchen, I didn’t even know she was doing that, not at first. I was simply meant to collect boxes that were delivered at night, rations... supplies, and leave them somewhere before people woke. I didn’t know they were watching everything. I just knew that their boot camp was meant to be in the wild, hard to survive, and staged as a disaster. But by the time Jeanette died,” She paused. “Gretchen told me each island would have a believable faked death to kick start people's fight or flight. I thought Jeanette was that. Then things slowly got worse and worse and I knew she had lied, but I couldn’t tell you all the truth by then. We were so close to getting off and so much happened and I thought,” 

“We would blame you.” 

“Yeah.” Martha deflated. “I didn’t mean for any of this to happen and by the time it did, I did what I always do. I just pretended it didn’t happen, that everything was okay until I shut off.” 

“Why did you do it here? The second island? You knew by then.” Dot spoke up. 

“Because by then Gretchen had concrete information on my perjury. I didn’t realise she was watching us and I spoke with Toni… And again to the FBI who I did actually think were the FBI. Gretchen never told me about any of this, the experiment, so I assumed it was just a boot camp gone so, so wrong until one night she was there, standing in the room with me again. She had videos and files. Documentation not only on me but all of us. Most of all my contract never stipulated dates and I should have realised that. The contract was apparently open-ended, with clauses that meant she could add an additional term with altered needs. By that point, I didn’t even care about the perjury, but she had information on Toni too. Assaults, some minor theft charges, random shit that only came up because of her predicament. All were dropped or never seen to, but she has connections to reopen things, and that I knew was true. Gretchen initially promised to pay for Toni’s scholarship if I did this. All participants were to be paid in some format, and mine was her scholarship. Toni could never afford a scholarship and any chances went out the window after she threw her,” Martha paused. “After she had an issue with another team."

T hrew her piss, Leah concluded.

"However, no school is accepting her if Gretchen brought all these charges to the police then the schools and colleges' attention. Even if Gretchen was willing to pay for her admission she’d have to actually get admitted. And all of those charges? She’d never play college basketball at the level she needed. Basketball is literally all Toni has and loves. I wasn’t going to let that bitch tear it away from her!” 


Leah stepped back, Fatin looking awfully proud at the fact Martha had called her a bitch. 

“Toni’s place on our school’s team and the scholarship wasn’t going here. On this retreat. It was my offer I took for her. Gretchen came to me, and wanted to work with me. I was a mess. Toni’s only shot at a college is being on the team, and my mum couldn’t even afford my tuition…” Martha shook her head. “You have to understand Gretchen made all of this sound so much less, it was just meant to be like a camp with no outside help. No one was meant to get hurt, she said if anyone did it would be dealt with by a medic,” Martha muttered. “I didn’t mean for any of this to happen. But I couldn’t throw away my own life, and Toni’s like my sister.”

Rachel dropped her chin, understanding but not fully accepting the excuse. 

“At least people may be on their way now,” Leah spoke. “We just need to get back inside and wait it out. Kirin, Shelby, and Toni brought back enough fresh stuff that we should be able to hold up for a good while here, and hopefully help is on the way. We have the phone but we’re not to make any outside calls, okay? We don’t know who can be trusted and we need to save the battery.”

“There are more phones,” Martha admitted. “Not that we should get them with Seth out here but if that one dies… There are backups.” 

“Good to know.” Leah laughed coldly. Somehow the suggestion that she was sat on multiple means of freedom this whole time made her seethe that bit much more. 

"Multiple fucking phones bitch?" Fatin yelled, voicing Leah's own thoughts.

 


 

“You okay?” Back in the bunker, Leah dropped down onto the bed beside Rachel. The rest of the groups were still running question after question at Martha in the main living area, aside from Toni, who sat in the corner of this room with them not meeting either of their eyes. 

“She’s alive.” Rachel scoffed.

“Yep.” Leah let her mouth pop on the ‘p’. 

“You knew, didn’t you?” 

Leah sucked in a jagged breath. “Not for certain, Gretchen led me to believe she was, but after all the false hands she played, I had no way of knowing if it was true until I saw her myself. I didn’t want to say anything because,” 

“I’m glad you didn’t say anything,” Rachel cut in. “Honestly, I would have lost my shit at you. I still don’t want to believe it’s true. Not until I see her. It’s like everything that caved my world in for all these weeks, it’s being undone, and whilst that could free me,”

“It could also be the thing that crushes you if you’re wrong.” 

“Yeah. Losing my hand was shit, but losing Nor?” She set her jaw. “That girl is annoying as shit but she’s my annoying shit. And I’m her annoying shit. But I think that’s just because of the way we were raised, it’s like constantly being pinned against each other. Compared to each other. I love my sister, as truly damn irritating as she is.” 

“They’re on their way though, we’re getting out of here.” Leah nodded as she spoke as if trying to convince herself too.

“We don’t know that for sure.” This time it was Toni who spoke from where she was sat, back pressed against the cold concrete wall, chin balanced on her knees. “We can’t be sure, right?” 

“We can’t but it sounded like from Ivan’s information they now know the area to search. Plus, if I know Ian he’s onto their asses. I once got downgraded on a lit paper because the teacher didn’t like me... his daughter was a bitch and I got her sent to the principal for bullying some kid.” It was Leah... Leah was, of course, the bullied kid. “Anyhow, after the teacher marked me down and we had no evidence, Ian managed to find within like, a week, the woman he was cheating on his wife with, their second family, and the fact he ran a blog under a pseudonym. A blog where he wrote horror stories about students dying horrific deaths. He was fired that week.” 

“I thought you said your friend was a total nerd?” Toni weakly smiled. 

“He is. And that’s exactly the kind of people you don’t fuck with. We have resources.”

“What do you think they’re going to do to Marty?” 

“Interrogate her ass.” Rachel laughed bleakly. “Probably just like they did with my sister. I would have paid to see that, the girl broke a sweat when my mum thought she'd eaten all the pringles on a car trip once. It was my uncle but even then she looked guilty as shit... Mind you so did I, that woman can be scary when she wants.”

And their bond went unspoken, that Toni wasn’t the only one in this room who realised she had been betrayed. 

“I don’t get why she would do this. Marty is so kind, she trod on a snail once and made us hold a damn funeral. Refused to dissect like anything in bio even when they were already dead.” 

“That’s exactly why they chose her,” Leah replied. “Marty, Nora. They’re both kind people, with gentle souls who just wanted better for their loved ones. Marty was offered a paid ride for you to college Toni. Not only that but Gretchen has shit on us all. Shit on Martha that seriously threatens her future. And especially you. Shit that she showed Martha and that threatened what you do have. That’s why she did it. Not to work on your anger management, though in its own fucked up way I guess it has helped some of our issues.” 

“Whilst creating a fuck tonne more.” Rachel laughed. “Or less,” She waved the arm with her missing hand. 

“I already have a scholarship I should get.” 

“You don’t,” Leah muttered. “Whatever you did back home… whatever you think you were heading towards was out the window. I spoke with Martha earlier. She was going to make sure issues were expunged from your record and Gretchen was giving you a full ride. She also had other information that could seriously fuck shit up for you both, but I suggest you talk to Martha about that.” 

Toni fisted her hands. “I just don’t get why she didn’t tell me.” 

“The same reason why Nor never told me. We don’t take betrayal well, either of us. And this shit?” Rachel scoffed. “They didn’t know what they were getting into, but as soon as they did, they were in deep. If they had told us, thrown off the experiment…” She wiped away the single tear that dropped down her cheek. “A, Gretchen had a clause that states they only get the payment if they follow a set of rules, so if they called it off, the whole thing would have been suffered through for nothing. And B? We would have hated them for it. I still do. But right now, I thought my sister was dead, still can’t be sure that she’s not. So, if there’s any chance I’m getting her back? I wouldn’t risk that for some pent-up anger, Toni. And neither should you.” 

“She lied to me,” 

“They lied to all of us. But they’re also both characters who have just been manipulated by Gretchen Klein.” Leah paused. “Did you note how she spoke to us, interrogated us?” 

“She didn't interrogate me.” Toni shivered. 

“Perhaps that was just my joy then, but the way all three of them, especially her and Faber knew how to manipulate emotions to get replies...” 

“What’s your point, Rilke?” 

“It felt like I was being interrogated by a well-versed cop.” 

“You get interrogated by cops often Leah?” Rachel laughed. 

“I got hit by a car in a hit and run before coming here, so yes. I’ve had my share of chats with cops.” 

“Maybe she was?" Toni groaned.

“That’s because according to Martha, that’s exactly what she was. Not a scientist Toni, a fucking cop. And it tracks.” Leah laughed. “So, if Gretchen was a cop, or knew how to work mouldable people as cops do…” She shook her head. “Rachel and Martha didn’t stand a fucking chance. Especially not with how easily that bitch weaves lies and emotional garbage into each fucking plot, let alone once she threw the blackmail on top. But that you need to ask Martha about, it’s not my place to say or explain her story.” 

“I need to talk to Martha.” Toni acknowledged. 

Leah rose from the bed, hands dusting the mud off her knees. “I’ll get her,” Leah replied. “I need to head to bed any but just…” She didn’t know what to say. She was just as pissed as Toni, but deep down she knew perhaps it wasn’t Martha that resentment should be held against. Not all of it at least. “Don’t say anything shitty to her until you’ve slept on it.” 

“Are you calling me hot-headed, Rilke?” 

“And go easy on Shelby,” She added, pausing at the door. “She did this for you too. To get your ass out of here, which is saying a lot considering you treated her like shit on island one.” 

“You can fucking talk.” Toni retorted, pissed. 

“Exactly. I’ve been a total cunt to Fatin at multiple points, she’s been a total cunt to me, and I’m standing here, telling you we’ve all fucked up. We’ve all made huge fucking errors and we’ve all been through hell. So maybe at this point? Everyone deserves a clean slate. Especially Shelby who's heading back to God knows what environment when we get out of here. Do you really think she wanted to leave for herself? Because she’s happy to go home to Westboro Baptist life chic?” 

“I get your point,” Toni grunted but knew she was right. Shelby was heading home with no hair, sunburn, and as a gay person. Even if she didn’t come out, she was heading home to a hostile environment that prized her looks over her as a person. Looks that now certainly weren’t typically pageant-worthy. “You know for a totally crazy bitch you’re weirdly helpful at times. Have you ever considered becoming a therapist?” 

“I don’t need to become a therapist Toni.” Leah shook her head. “I need a damn therapist.” 

But most of all, right now? She just needed Fatin.

Chapter Text

Fatin POV

 

As evening fell, Toni suggested that a room change wasn’t needed. Sleeping beside Martha -even if she refused to say all that much to her- was progress. Small steps, but nonetheless welcomed by Leah who gave her a barely perceptible nod when Toni announced it.

That nod was something Fatin silently observed; realising that of course, her girlfriend was the root of Toni’s drastic personality change in the past half hour. The island had changed Toni; the hot-headedness was still there but it was muted, more reserved. It made Fatin smile at her, small but proud. 

In truth, the island had changed them all, both for the better and the worse. Trauma has a way of making you grow up, and mature. That doesn’t mean the trauma is valued, and one should ask why adults are so set on teens losing out their youth. Why Gretchen thought that ripping it away from them was reason enough to put them through this shit, simply in the name of 'maturity'.

“Hey, do you want your shorts or sweats to sleep in?” Leah pried as they entered their room, the door shutting behind them. 

Fatin had barely held Leah in days, at least it felt like it. There was this unspoken tension with the Martha plan which meant that though they held each other, an emotional distance remained; Leah’s eyes were vacant and wandering as she mentally rehearsed her plan over and over for any fault. 

She understood why though; knew Leah may not handle another missed stab at Gretchen’s team of chainmail quite as well. The first hole in her plan still haunted the girl, Leah often waking up to nightmares of that day when Gretchen had fled leaving them deserted yet again. Fatin would hold her, whispering in her ear about random stories until she calmed, and her breathing became shallow once more. 

It was nights like those that Fatin struggled to sleep, opting instead to run her fingers through Leah’s hair, combing it to soothe them both.

Yet now, Leah was standing holding up her clothes and Fatin could see it now. Could picture in her mind’s eye Leah holding up her most loved Gucci hoodie in her hands, waiting for Fatin to climb into bed with her after school. Could see them choosing universities and picking a flat out later down the line. She could see a life, very much content with only Leah by her side. 

“Babe, which did you want?” 

Snapped out of her daydream she walked toward Leah. Pulling the clothes out of her grip, she lifted her hands to her face and kissed her. Kissed her like she loved every inch of that girl. Kissed her like she knew they were getting out of this hell hole. Kissed her like this was just their beginning. 

“Fatin?” Leah pulled away slightly, breathless and lips already swollen. “You okay babe?” 

“Yeah, I’m great.” Fatin beamed, walking her back until Leah hit the wall. Her lips claimed her girlfriend's once more, hungry with need as her tongue pushed into her mouth. Wanting as hands roamed any exposed skin. Her mind numbed, any thoughts and fears lost to the sensation of Leah's grip on her hips, the way she caved into Fatin's touch just as much as Fatin did with Leah's. The mutual need was unspoken but there; somehow anchoring them together.

“You seem it.” Leah laughed airily as Fatin’s hands began to pull down her sweats. “Oh, okay, so we’re doing this.” 

Fatin’s hands stilled on her bare thighs from where she had now knelt on the ground. “Did you not want to?” 

“No, I definitely want to. It was just a little out of the blue.” 

“Remember when you said when we get off this island we can talk about things,” 

“What things?” 

And as Fatin stared up at her, a smug smile on her face Leah remembered her comment. Her face heated up and she nodded rapidly. 

“Well, we’re getting out of here soon so that’s so maybe that's a conversation for the future. You know I was really scared we’d be here for like a decade and I’d have to get Dorothy to whittle me a strap like some fucking art piece but the last thing a bitch needs is splinters down there.” 

“Oh my god can we not,” Leah was laughing though, mainly because Dot would genuinely take it upon her as a challenge to prove she could do it. 

It’s an art project.

“Sorry, got distracted for a moment there.” Fatin grinned before patting her thighs. 

 


 


It was during round four that Ivan bashed on their door, yelling, “Can you stop fucking this bitch needs his beauty sleep and all I can hear is ‘Oh, Fatin! What big hands you have.” 

“I never said that!” Leah yelled back through the door, mortified anyone had been listening as she clambered off her girlfriend’s lap. 

“You didn’t have to; I was going by the fact you were yelling like a wolf had just eaten your fucking grandma, Red Riding Hood.”

“Was I that loud?” Leah added, blush dusting her cheeks fuchsia. 

Fatin shook her head no but was convincing no one as she tried to suppress her grin. 

“Fatin!” 

“Babe, I like it.” 

“You could have told me!” 

“As if Ivan wasn’t thankful for the audio porn.” 

“I wasn’t!” He yelled back. 

“Piss off, you’ve taken away my orgasms for the night!” Fatin yelled back, only to be slapped by Leah. 

“Don’t say that.” Leah dropped down under the covers, pulling them up over the pair as she closed her arms around Fatin. 

“Do you think Martha heard? Or Dot? Now them I would feel bad about scandalising.” 

“Dot watches Anime I’m sure she’s been scandalized enough.” 

“Dorothy watches anime?” Fatin grinned at the news. “Like Ghibli or kinky shit?” 

“I have no idea what that means. Go to sleep babe.” 

“Lee,” 

“Yeah?” 

“We’ll be okay, right? When we get back home with everyone nosing in our business?” 

“I think it’ll be weirder for me. Everyone’s been nosing in your business for years; you’re practically trained for public relations at this point. Me? I don’t think most of that school even knows who I am.” 

“We’ve just got to finish up then it’s college. We’ll be nothing there it will just be people focussed on celebrities kids and TikTok stars.” 

“Yeah, that can’t come soon enough. Until then I fully plan on hiding behind you in every hallway. Or maybe we can use Ian he’s skinny but lanky.” 

“You’re like 5’7.” 

“5’8 but who’s counting.” Leah grinned. 

“Spider limbed bitch.” Fatin grinned though. In all truth she loved being the short one in the relationship; though it didn’t help her hard-ass persona, there was a safety in the way Leah consumed her when she wrapped her arms around her. A stability in the way she leaned down to kiss her or picked her up. 

Fatin enjoyed being the little spoon, and she never, ever thought she’d fucking say that.

 

In the morning they called Nora and the FBI; updating her on Bo and their location in the smaller bunker. Threw in all they knew about Seth and Raf, and Kirin even dropped that he assumed they had left. 

A day passed. 

Two days. 

Three. 

On the fourth day, their usual morning wake-up from whoever was on watch was replaced with the booming whir of a helicopter. 

Fatin has never moved so quickly in her life. Not even for her grandma’s home cooking that she rarely got to taste unless she was in town. Not even when the doors opened for sale season.

They all stood, crowded around outside, squinting at the light of day as people began to abseil from the sky, dropping one by one until three of them stood there. Their uniforms seemed official, but then again so had those of ‘The FBI’. 

“Hello!” A woman smiled taking off her sunglasses; gently tucking them into her military shirt. “We’re here to evacuate you, but we will need to move you to a location we can safely remove you from.” She smiled. “I realise you have all been through more than we can understand but we’re here to end this and get you home to your families, safe and happy.” 

Shelby visibly shrunk in on herself at the idea, hands trembling as she brushed one over her now bald head. It made Fatin’s heart clench. No, none of them would be happy, they were all returning to pain in some form. Sure, it was less pain than here, but it was pain nonetheless.

“Right, follow Sargent Michaels here please.”

 


 

Fatin barely remembered the army leading them to an extraction point, didn’t even remember branches snapping back towards her face that left scratches and patches of blood. Didn’t remember squeezing Leah’s hand so hard the entire way that her nails left shallow welts on the other girl’s skin. 


All she knew was that she was now on the first helicopter they loaded, with Rachel and Shelby sitting across from her, the others being piled in groups onto the rest. She also knew that as the blades started up; the sound left her shaking, eyes squeezing shut as panic struck her body. 

“Mam, I need you to breathe for me. It’s just the helicopter engine starting up.” 

“That’s exactly the issue dipshit,” Leah bit back, pushing his hand off Fatin's knee as she pulled her shaking frame into her. “We’re safe. We’re going home.” She took Fatin’s hand in her own, squeezing it rhythmically as she told Fatin to breathe with each press, continuing until Fatin could feel the burning in her chest beginning to ease. Her own fingers now tapping out cello pieces she had learned on Leah’s back, against the bare flesh where her shirt had ridden up. 

“I love you,” Leah mumbled into her ear, and that more than anything grounded Fatin, taking her away from visions of their plane rocking, even if it never did. Memories of throwing up on the beach, heaving her guts out, and finding Leah pulling a bruised Jeanette out of the water. The plane may not have literally crashed, but they experienced it as if it did. Lived every second of the tragic aftermath. 

“I love you too.” Fatin mumbled. 

“Hey, so, what’s a girl got to do to get some Mc Donald’s fries?” Rachel asked. 

And that broke the tension that had filled the aircraft before. Everyone, even those in military uniforms burst out laughing. 

“I’ll see what we can do, Mam.” 

“Did you seriously just ask for fries? We could probably get anything, fresh seafood, caviar,” Fatin’s voice was raspy, and she still held Leah with a death grip as she spoke. 

“You’re telling me you’d pick caviar over Mc Donald’s fries? Or a happy meal with some dumb ass bobble head toy?” 

“Okay, fine, you have a point.” Salty, soggy fries sounded damn good at this point, and her brothers always went mad for the toys. Plus, after the oyster incident, she wasn’t sure if she wanted to look at caviar for a while.

“Exactly.” Rachel grinned. 

“You good Shelby?” Leah spoke, noting the other girl’s unease. 

“Yeah. Fine.” She clearly wasn’t. 

“My parents have a spare room,” Leah stated. “It’s small but if you ever need space, it’s there and they won’t mind.”

Fatin didn’t butt in with the fact she may want that spare room, even if she shared it with Shelby. Sure, she was going home but was she hell being sent away to that school her dad had in mind. Though, after this hopefully her parents would feel bad enough to drop that shit. She only had to last one more year then college was there within reach. 

The corner of Shelby’s mouth turned up slightly. “I’ll keep that in mind. Dot and I have been talking the past few days though. With her daddy gone and her now eighteen, I might go stay there. Wouldn’t have to move schools and all. Plus, I don’t want to leave Dottie to face the masses on her own, our school latches onto drama and never lets it go. At least if I’m stood next to her they’re focussed on talking about my new hairdo rather than her daddy.” 

Fatin nodded, whilst she had dreams of moving with Dot to LA she now wanted more. Wanted to find her own path… probably with Leah nestled at her side. At the end of the day she didn't want to sit around doing little. She wanted to make Leah proud, herself proud. Even if she didn't pick the path her parents laid before her she'd still find something of value.

 


 

After the initial helicopter ride, they were moved to an army station. Different teams there then drove them to an airport where a plane seated all two groups. There was no word on Raf or Seth. All of them sat on the plane far too reminiscent of the past one, Kirin doing his best to calm Ivan who was currently losing it at an air hostess. 

“Dude, just chill. We never crashed. It’s fine.” 

“It is not fucking fine, none of this is fucking fine bitch.” Ivan squeezed his eyes shut, trying to manifest anything but this damn plane crashing. 

“Here,” 

“What is that?” 

“It’s a hand.” 

“I can see that, I meant why the fuck is it on my knee.” 

Kirin shook his head, laughing as he took his hand in his own. The action silenced Ivan, mostly because he wasn’t sure what the hell was happening right now, this action less believable than the fact their plane hadn’t crashed and that they’d been a science experiment. “You should apologise to that air hostess you know?” 

“She wouldn’t give me a vodka.” 

“I think mixing drinking with the panic attack your currently having is a shit move. Look, here,” Kirin turned on the screen on the chair in front. “How about The Blind Side?” He moved to put the film on. 

“A film about a white person’s saviour complex? I think not.” 

Kirin shook his head but swiped through the screen. “Mean Girls?” 

“Is that some shady dig?” 

“No, I just kind of loved that film.” Kirin shrugged, clicking it on. 

 


Leah peered down the aisle, looking at the screen ahead of her. “Kirin and Ivan are watching Mean Girls."

“You’re shitting me?” Fatin clambered over her, laying splayed across her lap as she too took a peak down the aisle. “Oh my fucking god. That’s the best entertainment I’ve had in weeks. Do you think Ivan put it on and is forcing him to watch it?” 

“Most likely,” Dot said, pulling Fatin back by her shirt. 

“Bitch don’t manhandle me.” 

“Then don’t manhandle your girlfriend. The girl may be tall as shit but even she could barely see over you.” 

“Let me have my damn joy, Dorothy.” 

But as she sat back down, the plane lurched, and Fatin was reaching for Leah again. 

“You’re okay.” 

But Fatin’s chest was heaving again and Leah’s words this time weren’t working. She could even see Toni staring over at them, next to Martha, both looking with worry as Fatin’s complexion changed only just. Fatin could barely feel Leah’s hands on her, could hear her words but couldn’t seem to focus on them.

So, Leah went in for distraction, something that often worked with her panic attacks around Ian. “Dot,” She spoke loudly next to Fatin's ear. “It’s a good thing we got off that island because Fatin was like weeks away from asking you to whittle a strap.” 

And that… that took Fatin’s mind away from being transfixed on the jagged movements of the plane, breaths still shuddering through her but slower as she watched the conversation, thrown off kilter by how blasé Leah was being. Leah who couldn’t even use the words strap on around her without looking like she was preparing to dig her own grave to die in out of embarrassment. 

“I’m going to need so much fucking therapy after what you guys have put me through.” Dot groaned. “Decade’s worth.”

“Did I just hear Rilke say strap on?” Toni yelled, much to Leah’s total embarrassment. Her previous boldness now burning at her ears until they were bright red.

All Fatin could do was smile. A warmth in her heart as her fingers tapped out rhythms of pieces onto Leah’s hand, her breath slowly returning to normal.

They would be home soon. 

And Fatin never intended on going on a damn plane ever again.

 

"Oh my fucking God, Ivan's got Kirin watching Mean Girls!" Toni yelled.

Chapter Text

Leah POV

 

When the plane landed at the next airport, they were split into separate groups in order to be flown to each state they lived in. 

It was traumatic in a way, almost the reversal of the island. When they ‘crashed’ on the island there was this happiness that they hadn’t been washed up alone and that others had survived, but that didn’t mean they liked each other. In fact, most of them had been completely put out by who they were stuck with; Leah frowning over the top of Jeff's book at that one rich bitch from her school, because of course she got trapped there with her of all people. It was this position of being forced together, magnets that would normally repel one another now glued together, torn away from their families and friends.

Yet now, it was the opposite in a way. They landed as  a group that was emotionally tethered together; a group that had survived all odds to be here today. The trauma was reversed. It was traumatic because they were now re-entering a world just as scary; as objects of press attraction, torn apart from their new family. A family most of them now loved more than their own blood. There’s this thing about chosen family, and Leah understood it now. She loved her parents, but they didn’t understand her, didn’t know how to support her, and truly listen. Unlike these girls, who bounced off one another acting as communal support.

The issue was they arrived on that island as worried children and left as adults who were forced to grow up in a way no one would grasp but themselves, and that was precisely why they needed each other. 

 

 

Leah remembered gripping onto Rachel so hard the girl had muttered ‘ouch you shit.’ 

Remembered watching Fatin crying into Shelby’s shirt as Dot's arms wrapped around Fatin from behind, the three of them piled into one singular mass of tears and hugs. 

Though Toni had been quieter since they left, she still held Shelby for five minutes with neither daring to speak or break the embrace. It gave Leah hope, that maybe there was still something there. Shelby would have Dot when she got back but knowing her father, she would need more than one crutch to hold her up through the ordeal and Toni, for Shelby, was exactly that.

 


“Rach?” 

“Nor!” 

Leah stilled, heart stuttering at the sight of Nora before them all. She knew that the girl had betrayed her and had let everyone believe she was going crazy for months on end. She hadn’t said a word when they all had food poisoning from the oysters, or when Jeanette clocked out of living. 

Yet, as Rachel broke away from Leah’s grasp, lip trembling as she looked at the girl stood by an agent, nervously toying with the toggles of her hoodie. Leah really didn’t give a shit, because Nora was alive. One more of them had lived. Survived.

Rachel ran at her sister so hard she knocked her off kilter, toppling them both to the floor. “I’m so fucking pissed but I love you. God, I’m sorry I’ve been a total bitch to you.” 

“You weren’t a total bitch,” Nora protested until Rachel rose a brow. “A mild bitch maybe. However, I did far worse. I’m sorry.”

Rachel got up helping Nora to her feet where they sunk into another embrace, no one wanting to speak and ruin the moment as tears filled their eyes, even Toni swiping one away. “I um,” Nora rustled around in her backpack. “I wrote you each a letter. You don’t have to read it, but if you want to it’s there. I don’t think I can ever really explain or apologise for what I did.” Martha looked away. “I wanted to at least try to explain… but also to begin to tell you how sorry I am.” She moved her eyes meeting Leah’s momentarily before looking back at the ground and shifting awkwardly on her feet. “Leah, I owe you the biggest apology. If it wasn’t for me everyone would have known you weren’t crazy. Almost everything you were right about.” 

Leah nodded. She knew she was right… now. It was just the suffering through everyone thinking she was deranged that sent her flying thus further off the handles. 

“Yours is a little longer, I’ve listed every one of your theories with an analysis and explanation. I realise it’s not helpful now but maybe it will help to know the whole truth when you question things again.” Nora held out the letter hand trembling. “I also, uh, met your friend. Ian. He has a letter too with answers to questions he had, and we’ve both been assisting the FBI after he tracked down Gretchen’s son.”

Leah couldn’t help the proud smile on her face. Ian. She owed him a burger and fries at the least.

“Thank you. For the letter.” Leah smiled, and shifted before noting Rachel’s tenseness; as if she wasn’t sure if Leah was about to lose it at her sister. Leah walked forward and taking a deep breath, wrapped her arms around her. Nora’s hoodie smelt like libraries and chicken pot noodles as if she'd been pulling all-nighters to find them. “I’m not pissed at you, I guess. Sure, I have questions, and we all need some time to decompress and shit. But I don’t blame you, Nora. I blame that-“

“Shady cunt.” Fatin finished, grinning before pushing Leah aside to hug Nora. “She fucked us all over.” 

And that was the whole truth. In fact, Nora may have actually suffered more. She had to watch the terror unfolding, had to watch her sister lose a hand only to be taken away by Gretchen and her team. Even if Gretchen showed her proof of Rachel’s being alive; she would have seen her, entirely despondent, missing a hand. She would have had to live with that, every single day. Thinking she was responsible, which, partly she was.

“Right, we need to get you all on board, where are the boys?” 

“Bathroom break,” Kirin called as they walked back to join them. 

“Okay so let’s get you all home.” The agent smiled. 

Leah held her breath, it was almost like being submerged under water at that moment; realising that she wouldn’t be falling asleep with all the others at her side. Fatin’s hand tightened in her own and Shelby started crying into Toni’s shirt. Hell, even Martha looked like she didn’t want to leave any of them, even with the clear slightly awkward air that still hung around them. 

“We can do this. We all have phones,” Fatin waved her device. 

The agents had recovered their possessions back in a locker in America, one Gretchen’s son led them to with a trail of paperwork. Whilst most of their possessions were still at home, they each had their device and a hoodie or sweater, chosen by their parents to hand to them when recovered. Leah assumed it was meant to be like a comfort blanket or some shit, but she had refused to turn hers on in front of the others, worrying she may have had texts from Jeff piling up. Texts she would immediately delete, privately… or screenshot and save should she choose to speak out. Nonetheless, it wasn't a moment she wanted to share with a group of people and cops.

“And you bitches are getting a video call every god damn night!” Fatin grinned.

“It better not be from Leah’s bed.” Toni mocked.

“Why would Fatin be calling from Leah’s bed?” Nora queried. 

“They’re dating.” Rachel laughed. “I know right, threw us all through a loop that one. I mean Fatin? Tied down?”

“I can show you tied down.” Fatin wiggled her brows at Rachel. 

“You disgust me.” Rachel groaned. 

“Oh you love it, baby. Right...” Fatin kissed Dorothy’s cheek, smacking her butt for good measure. “We will see you all soon. Every single holiday, until we like, move in together Golden Girls style.” 

They all seemed to nod at that. Plans were still there, ones that were intended to be jokes. But in truth, Fatin wouldn’t feel she was at home unless she was near these hoes. The same street at least, and Leah knew that for a fact. Fatin made the joke too many times for it to be just that.

“You know, I’m gonna miss you all. Even this bitch propositioning me for sex every two hours.” Dot spoke, gesturing to Fatin.

“Oh, but now you can be propositioned by nurse Mateo.” Fatin grinned. “Oh, Mateo, I have such trauma, please aid my wounds.” She mocked. 

“That’s actually the exact line I planned on using.” Dot shook her head. “Because this is apparently a wartime period drama.” 

“If you do use that line I want boning updates.” 

The FBI agent coughed loudly, clearing her throat. “Not to rush you, but we really need to move.” 


They did eventually move.

 


 

Fatin cried so much on the plane back. She let Leah hold her until she cried herself to sleep, the turbulence leaving her on edge. It made her chest close up; watching Fatin suffering and knowing, at some point, she wouldn’t be in her arms. Wouldn’t be here next to her to help. 

The thought made Leah want to puke. The taste of the thought; rancid on her tongue. 

 


 


As they departed Leah held her breath, hand tightening in her girlfriend’s. “Leah.” 

“Yeah?” 

Fatin chewed on her lip. “When we see them,” Fatin lifted their joint hands. “Is this okay? Or do you want me to like, play the friendship card?” 

“What?” Leah frowned. What the hell did she mean? Oh. Oh.

“My parents already know that I’m bisexual. That cat was out of the bag years ago, like I'm pretty sure my mum knew from age eight when I told her I was going to marry Sandra Bullock.” Leah paused, seeing the worry on her face. “But I don’t mind playing that card, for you. I’m not going to out you Fatin. We’ve been through enough shit the past months so I get if you don't want to." 

“No,” Fatin cut in, kissing her briefly as a hand played with the baby hairs on the back of her neck. “I don’t want that. It’s just... My parents aren’t homophobic. But that’s with other people. The amount of times my dad has tried to set me up with ‘a nice hard-working boy’ is endless. Or my mum. It’s like, they have such a specific vision for my life, get married, have kids with a man. I don’t know.” 

“And you’re worried I don’t fit into their vision.” 

“I’m not worried about their opinion. I’m worried about how it will affect you. I’m worried you won’t fit into their vision because you’re my only fucking vision Leah, and I don’t want their opinion making you doubt that.” 

“We have our phones, hell you have my address I’m not that far from you and we both have cars. As we said, if you wake up and you panic, you can just text me. I don’t care if we have to meet up in some stingy 24-hour diner and sleep there, we will be there for each other when needed regardless of other people’s opinions.” 

Fatin smiled; that same look she’d been giving Leah the entire last week on the island. The one that spoke of her complete adoration. 

“Okay. I love you, you know?” 

Leah grinned, pulling her by her hand. 

 

 

When they finally got through the gates it was Leah who saw her parents first. Fatin dropped her hand, lips touching her ear. “Go see them, you idiot.” 

Leah grinned, kissing her cheek once before running to jump into her father’s arms. 

It was this warm, solid embrace she missed. The smell of coffee beans that was so uniquely him. 

Her mum stood tears streaking her cheeks. “We thought we’d lost you.” 

“I know. Me too.” But Leah didn’t want to talk more about the island. Not now. 

Her head turned to see Fatin behind her, someone now in her arms as she shook his small frame in her arms. 

That must be her brothers. 

Fatin’s dad smiled at her and nodded politely to which Fatin simply nodded back, jaw set. It made Leah’s blood boil. Made her seethe at the fact Fatin could have died, fuck she almost did, and yet he couldn’t even get past his shit for a single hug? 

Alternatively, Fatin’s mum didn’t hold out, running up to her and holding on for dear life as she kissed every inch of the top of her head. 

“The Jadmani’s seem nice,” Kurt spoke. “We’ve all spent a lot of time together the past week.” He nodded. “Seems like you made some friends out there.” 

And there it was. Leah didn’t know whether to correct them, but Fatin was suddenly there with her parents and brothers hugging each of her legs. “Mum, dad, this is Leah. She uh, goes to school with me. She’s on the writing track. Super smart. Did I mention she writes?” 

Leah shot her a look. She knew what she was doing, trying to give Leah the best CV before she dropped the truth. But the truth never came, Fatin opened her mouth, closed it then opened it again like a puppet. Leah could see her hands tensing at her sides, Fatin frowning as the words wouldn’t come out and she knew exactly how this shit felt. 

“Would it be okay if we took the car back together? Island life makes everyone a bit co-dependent you know?” 

Rana nodded. “Of course! My cars got a fair few seats, I could take Maryann, you, Fatin, and the boys if you two are okay doing a trip together?” 

Leah’s dad looked like he was about to protest, but he forced a smile and nodded. “Sure.” 

Fatin’s dad didn’t need any convincing. 

“How about you come back to ours, just for dinner whilst the girls settle in?” Maryann smiled. 

“That would be lovely.” Rana agreed. 

Leah could breathe again, the tightness in her chest rescinding knowing that Fatin would still be by her side, even if for only a short while more. 

 


During the car ride back, Leah sat with her girlfriend to her right. Fatin lasted five minutes before taking her hand, tight, fingers crushing her own. Her other went to her mouth as she nervously bit at her nails, a habit of Leah’s she seemed to adopt on rare occasions. 

Leah met Rana’s eyes in the mirror ahead and saw them drift down to their linked hands with a questioning gaze that turned into a frown. Leah simply moved her eyes out the window, refusing to drop Fatin’s hand for even a second. 

 


 


Finally having Fatin in her house was weird. It was like she had imagined it so much that now it simply felt abstract, like a simulation of sorts.

“It smells like you,” Fatin spoke into her neck as Leah grabbed a cup from the kitchen cupboard. 

“What?” Leah laughed. 

“It just… when we first got to the island. Your cardigan whenever you leaned against me still smelled faintly like detergent. It’s like that here, just amplified.” 

“My house smells like detergent?” 

“No, it smells like you.” Fatin let her hand drop against her, nose burying into her neck. “I’m sorry that I didn’t say anything earlier. But my mum is a mess and I just want to break it to her when she’s like, remotely stable.” 

“You don’t have to explain. As I said, I’m not rushing you.” 

Fatin leaned up, humming contently as Leah’s mouth melded against her own. 

“I don’t know how the fuck I’m gonna sleep tonight.” 

“Fatin!” A voice came from the kitchen door, Fatin pulling away from her girlfriend with haste. 

“Ahmad.” She smiled, and the sight made Leah grin. Over the days she’d heard Fatin talk here and there about them, but she hadn’t realised just how much Fatin loved them. The girl was like a mother herself, picking him up and hugging him until he was laughing so hard that she had to put him back down. 

“Hi. Lee- uh.” He grinned up at her. 

“Hi, I thought you were watching Marvel films?” 

“I was. Missed my goober.” 

“Your what?” Leah smiled, questioningly. 

“Goofy goober. SpongeBob.” Fatin summarised. “He’s like this cartoon peanut man.” 

“He’s funny and weird like Fatin. I missed you, mum doesn't appreciate SpongeBob. Also, dad sucks at the PlayStation.” 

“Okay let’s get you back in there.” 

“Yeah, we have popcorn to eat.”

 

Leah had never been as thankful for popcorn as she was now. Or the fact that when she sat with Fatin on the sofa, she could throw a warm blanket over them. Leah laying against Fatin with her girlfriend’s two brothers curled up against Leah. 

If she had looked to the left, they would have seen Maryann tearing up as she snuck a photo. She would have seen their dads laughing at Fatin’s brothers who were giving a running commentary on why this superhero was superior whilst Fatin chided them and explained no one topped Wonder Woman. 

And, they would have seen Rana, swallowing as she noted how natural Fatin’s proximity to Leah was. In itself, this was nothing unusual. Friends sat together all the time, especially after what they had been through. But what Rana knew is that wasn’t Fatin. Fatin groaned when anyone but her brothers got up in her space, even attractive guys when they were out at restaurants. Fatin would flirt, but she would also shuffle away if they lingered too long, they would have their moment, but it was only that; a fleeting moment until she got bored. 

Fatin was playing with Leah’s hair mindlessly whilst Leah was almost falling asleep and she was no longer staring at the film. No, Rana was staring at her daughter who was watching Leah with a smile on her face she hadn’t seen before. A smile that made her own throat close, emotion brimming within her. She knew love when she saw it. Used to look at Fatin’s dad in a similar way. 

And all Rana could think; was that after everything she seriously hoped the other girl loved her daughter back. 

Chapter Text

Fatin POV

 

Leaving her girlfriend that night felt like extracting part of her soul from her body. She buried her nose in Leah’s neck, inhaling deeply as unshed tears wetted her lashes. 

“I’m on the other end of your phone, okay?” Fatin spoke. 

“I know but I’m just freaking out.” Leah shook in her arms. 

“I can stay if you need.” She wanted her to say yes. Truly needed more than just Leah’s hoodie that smelt like her and had some name of a writing summer camp plastered across the front. The sleeves were chewed -frayed at the edges- and all Fatin could think about was a young Leah nervously mouthing at the material, perhaps before her brow-picking habit had arisen. 

 

Leah had opened her cupboard after Fatin passed over her hoodie and told her to choose anything. She had flicked through the hangers, hoodie after hoodie, most new and some branded; though not expensive. Yet she had pulled out one that had fallen off its hanger and now sat drearily at the bottom of her cupboard, forgotten or simply left there as a memory.

“That one’s gross.” Leah had complained. “Pick something cute.” 

But this hoodie smelt like Leah more than the others and had been so worn that Fatin knew at some point Leah had lived in this one. The writing on the front was faded, some cracked imagery of a cabin and the words ‘writers summer camp’ could be made out. Fatin had smiled at that; she’d ask her for pictures or stories of her time there later.

“Nah, I’m good with this one.” 

 


“No.” Leah shook her head, and wiped her own tears with her wrist. “No, you need to go home, get your stuff, that face cream you’ve been talking about for weeks.” 

“You’re better than my face cream. Didn’t I tell you that?” 

Leah laughed, stepping back finally. “I’ll text you, just go. Spend some time with your family I’ll see you in two days' time. We can totally handle that.” The last part was said with a wobble in her voice that was less than convincing.

They had to be separate; the FBI was sending agents to each of their houses for questioning tomorrow, and possibly for a follow-up the day after also. Sadly, that meant two days of being apart, immediately after returning. Though, Fatin was already considering sneaking over at night so she could sleep beside her. 

“I know. I love you.” Fatin whispered the last part, just loud enough for her girlfriend to hear. 

“You too.” Leah hummed, sucking her lip between her teeth. “Now go, your mum looks like she’s about to cry again.” 

“I swear that woman has cried maybe three times in my life.” Fatin pulled her in for one last hug before nodding in parting. “Okay, this is me going.” She smiled, though it didn’t quite reach her eyes. Her pain was evident as she slowly drifted back to her car, eyes glued to Leah, remaining on the silhouette of her house even when she herself was obscured out of view. 

Her phone buzzed and lit up soon after. 

Gay Nerd: Miss you, enjoy that face cream babe. Here’s mine. 

Fatin snorted at the sight of a bottle of CeraVe. God that was so Leah. 

Not Ben Folds: Please tell me you have a cleanser? 

Gay Nerd: What the hell is a cleanser? 

Fatin internally cursed. God Rilke was such a gay. WHAT WAS A CLEANSER? She needed to give that girl a PowerPoint presentation. 

Not Ben Folds: Tragic babe. Tragic. Did I ever mention I love you? 

Three dots appeared, remaining there for so long that Fatin began to bite at her nail. 

Gay Nerd: Once or twice. 

It was followed with a picture of Leah, gone were her sweatpants and instead, she had a pair of loose gym shorts on, barely visible underneath the hoodie Fatin had given her to sleep in. 

Gay Nerd: I feel bad, this hoodie smells fucking insane and yours smells like cotton fresh laundry detergent, and years of dust collection.

Fatin didn’t give a shit. In fact, had she of had Maryann’s number she would have texted her to ask her what detergent she used so that she could make her sheets smell that bit more like Leah. The two had been joined at the hip for so long that now all that arose from separation was a hefty side of panic and clutching at any straws that brought her closer to her other half.

 


 


When she got home her mum broke down yet again. Her whole body shook as she wept against Fatin; a sight she hadn’t really seen since her father’s choices spilled out into common knowledge.

They spent two hours on the sofa, her mother updating her about random shit, neither of them acknowledging the fact that they sent her away to near death and were yet to say much on the subject, let alone even ask her about it. 

 

“So, Leah?” Her mum smiled at her in this most peculiar way, tears long since dried. 

“What about her?” Fatin shoved a crisp into her mouth, chewing loudly. Fuck she missed salted crisps. If there was one thing she cursed the island for it was a total lack of seasoning. It was the island equivalent to British food, bland as fuck.

“You two seem close,” Her mother pointed out, stirring her chai. 

“We were washed up on an island together barely escaping death. Obvi.” 

Rana shook her head, making sure her husband was out of the room before correcting herself. “No Fatin, I mean do you like her? As more than one would a friend?” 

Fatin began choking on the crisp that she had inhaled into the back of her throat, the thing stabbing her with a sharp pain to her tonsils. “Mum, what the fuck?” 

“Language,” She chided, though there was no bite to the warning. “I’m serious. You look at that girl the way you used to look at that young boy in the grocery shop. The one you spilled the bag of bread in front of when you were too busy staring at his awful hand tattoos.” 

“Can we not rehash that stellar memory?” Fatin grimaced. 

“Actually, you look at Leah more adoringly than that boy.” 

“I do not.” Fatin momentarily denied it, stomach churning as she was met with her mother’s expression; one of total disbelief. “Fine, I do.” 

“Do you want to talk about her?” 

“Not really. Figured I’d just go die in my room now whilst I still have, like, a grain of respect left.” 

“She looks at you the same way, you know?” 

Fatin swallowed and stood. “I know.” 

Her mother smiled from behind her tea. “I won’t tell your father.” 

“I’m not lesbian.” That much she was certain of.

Fatin wasn’t sure about her sexuality. Sure, she found women hot, but no one had ever held her attraction like Leah; man or woman. She had thrown around a couple labels, ones she’d research later now that she had her laptop again; after all, there’s nothing worse than hitting a sexuality crisis and not having access to a Buzzfeed ‘Am I Gay?’ quiz.

“I didn’t say you were. I’ve seen you hitting on enough men in front of myself and your father to assume that.” 

“I think I’m pan though? I don’t know. I’m not straight but I haven’t felt like this about a girl before. It might just be,” 

“Leah.” Her mum finished. “She’s special. Writing track too, you could do worse. Did you hear she’s thinking of going to,” 

“Goodnight mum.” Fatin smiled and kissed her forehead once. “I will see you tomorrow.” 

“Goodnight. I love you.” 

“You too.” 

Rana smiled in response, though Fatin’s faltered slightly. She missed her parents -hell did she miss them- but it didn’t detract from the fact they had shipped her off for her father’s mistake, or the fact that neither had apologised nor asked if she was okay. 

 


 

Honestly she wasn’t sure how, but sleeping in her own bed was a  thousand times worse than the island. 

It made no sense; she had her nightly routine back. Held her beauty products in her hands and sighed with relief as she scrubbed every inch of her body, moisturising four times after to try and counteract the islands ware on her skin. She pulled on her softest silk pyjamas, sighing as she lay against her bed and high thread count sheets. 

And then-

Then Fatin pulled her knees to her chest, sobs ripping through her as she rocked herself. Her hands reached for her phone, pulling up a picture of her and Leah from the Rilke’s kitchen only hours earlier. A trembling finger tracing over the image of Leah’s face, wanting to call her. 

She didn’t call. 

Fatin wouldn’t risk waking her up on her first night back; Leah more than anyone needed sleep. She had at least slept on the plane, but as far as she was aware; every time she awoke her girlfriend was there, eyes peeled and stroking her hair.

So, she cried more; mind drifting back to Leah’s overdose, Leah almost drowning. Every memory that was tainted at the edges with shadows of remorse. 

Again, and again, and again, she circled back to her forearm pushed heavily against her collarbone, Leah’s back digging into the jagged surface of the cliff as she yelled at her. Seething as threats flew between them, Leah’s eyes; wide and scared, lit with a shocked sense of betrayal. 

 

 

 

Her phone vibrated beside her, once, twice… 

By the third, she had picked up. 

“Missing me already?” She went for nonchalance, doing her best to mask her relief.

“Did I wake you?” Leah’s voice was gravelly; either she had just woken up or she hadn’t slept at all, much like herself. 

“No, couldn’t sleep.” 

“Why didn’t you call?” 

Fatin laughed; a small chuckle that ended abruptly. “Didn’t want to wake you in case you were sleeping.” 

“Well I was but Ian woke me up.” 

“Do I need to fight him?” Fatin mocked. Leah’s first moment of peace and of course someone was calling her. 

“No, actually… I don’t know how to explain it all but check your email.” 

Fatin let out a breath, dangling over the side of her bed to grab her laptop, quickly opening her account to a message from  Leah. “What the fuck am I looking at?” 

It was two hundred pages, give or take; some just riddled with numbers and others with information on offshore accounts. Some simply had expenditure reports for random things like microphones and wiring. 

“All the information Gretchen’s son gave Ian. He met him. Got all of this which was given to the FBI, but he kept copies and emailed me scans.”

“Is any of this useful?” 

“I’m assuming the FBI has found some investors. Ian had linked offshore accounts and cryptocurrency accounts back to some people with the help of his weird internet friends. But as they said, there’s not much money between the offshores they traced. He said Gretchen must have been taking payments, perhaps in items or in hard cash; more irritating for them to trace.” 

“I’m assuming you’ve been reading through this since he sent it?” 

“No,” Leah spoke up, “I mean I went over it quickly, but I called because I need to take my mind off it. Regardless I’ve emailed you all a copy in case we can find something to trace that bitch or whoever was funding her.” 

“What are all the photos of?”

“Oh, his apartment. Random stuff he was holding onto for her and his own shit.”

Fatin’s eyes quickly traced the first image before she shut her laptop. Dwelling over this when they all needed a moment of peace was doing nothing.

“I’ll save that for tomorrow. Right now, tell me what your evening was like.” 

“My mum made me hot chocolate and cookies. The ones she normally only makes when we have a major family party to attend, and she likes to pretend to be some kind of domestic Martha Stewart goddess.” Leah laughed. “My dad offered to take a month off from work in case I need him around the house which I obviously declined. As much as I love him, it feels weird as shit going from needing to be fully-fledged adults to being told I should probably go to bed now, you know?” 

“Yeah, I get it. And they’re being weird as shit. My parents won’t even talk about the island. My mum spent half an hour talking about my cousin in his performance in Greece. Not a single, ‘how was it there, you know, on the shit hole you got washed up on?’ Like, I would obvi have a thousand fucking questions if my child got stuck in a weird ass Lost-themed experiment.” 

“Yeah, my parents aren’t saying anything either. I don’t know if they’re scared to trigger me or themselves at this point. I referenced the crash once and my mum dropped her cup of tea.”

Fatin tugged on the frayed sleeves of Leah’s hoodie. 

“Can we maybe just find some stupid shit on Netflix and screen share? I don’t think I’m sleeping any time soon babe.” Leah yawned. 

“What about Lost?” 

“Hilarious.” 

“Yellowjackets?” 

“Oh my god, fuck off.” Leah grinned. 

“Okay, for real now, there’s a new season of The Circle, well I suppose it’s months old now but trash reality T.V. sounds like the least soul destroying thing to watch right now.” 

“You have a point,” Leah chewed her lip. “Okay yeah let’s watch that.” 

 


Fatin set her phone against her laptop, making sure Leah’s sleepy face was situated in front of the laptop screen. 

She lasted two episodes before she dozed off, Leah’s laptop clearly still open as she slept. Fatin sat, watching her exactly as she did on the island for hours on end until she too shut her eyes and joined her. 

Chapter Text

Fatin POV

 

The next day she found out just how irritating the FBI were; handling her with kid gloves like she was a damn infant. Choosing to call their stay there ‘the event’ and referring to Rachel’s hand loss as ‘the shocking moment’ which confused the shit out of Fatin, as surely, all moments there were fucking shocking

There was also the way they referred to Shelby’s hair loss as a ‘momentary crisis point’, also riddling as Fatin was pretty certain that Shelby’s entire stay there screamed crisis; there really wasn’t any peak or trough to it. If anything, her Billy Ray mullet moment was one of her more stable points.

However, the truly hilarious thing -and the thing that made Fatin want to punch them in the face- was the thing that they were most disturbed by, was not the death, the cauterisation, or sticking her fingers down Leah’s throat. Oh no. It was when she told them about when they got drunk and high on pot gummies. They can forgive murder, amputation, and experiments but lord forbid there be underage drinking. 

“Did you say vodka?” The man repeated, taking more notes on this one fact than anything else. 

“Can we be done for today?” Fatin cut in. “I’m tired as shit and,” 

“Fatin.” Her father scorned her. 

“I’m tired, as you know I’ve been through a lot.” Fatin painted on the fake emotion thick. “And I just need to step away from this for now… For my mental health.” Her mental health was already in a trash fire by this point but be damned if she wasn’t going to milk it for what it was worth, and they had been questioning her for hours. 

After they left, Fatin drifted upstairs to their family’s communal office, a space with tables, bookshelves, and study aids for homework. She found herself opening her laptop, loading the printer with paper, and printing all the pages of the document Ian had sent Leah; pacing it carefully in a manilla folder. 

“Already back at the homework?” Her father peered his head around the door. 

“Well, they’re hardly going to give us long off when we need to be graduating soon. I have, like, a tonne to catch up on.” 

“So, no parties I guess?” He smiled lovingly and Fatin fucking hated him for it. 

Hated the fact he never apologised, that he assumed now that she was back, she would simply be forgiving and willing to pretend -much like her mother- that this whole scandal never happened. 

Fatin laughed, coldly. “Clearly.” 

“Did you sleep okay last night? Leah seems like a lovely, stable friend for you to have right now. Very studious, could get you back on the correct track.” 

She sighed, grabbing her folder. “As much as I’m enjoying this riveting conversation, I’m going to go and study. You know, like my studious friends.”

“Cut the sarcasm Fatin, we accept that you’ve had a rough couple of months, but you will respect me, or the previous idea still stands.” 

Boarding school. She laughed, humorously. “Rough couple of months?” The audacity of this man whore. Rage boiled through her, voice raising as all of a sudden, she was no longer afraid. She could leave, take that spare bedroom at Leah’s if it came to it. Fuck, she would move in with Dot if it didn’t mean abandoning Leah. “Rough couple of fucking months?” She squared up to him, jaw clenching as she ground her teeth. “I watched a girl die; a girl we buried then dug back up. I held a girl down whilst we burnt her flesh to stop her bleeding out from a missing fucking hand after a shark attack. Do you know what burning flesh smells like? I’ll let you in on a secret; it’s fucking horrific. I watched my best friend,” Fatin winced internally, no. She wouldn’t hold back from fear of judgement from him of all people. “I watched the girl I fucking love, almost die, not once, not twice but almost every fucking day on that island. We went through starvation, food poisoning that almost killed two people, having to hunt for our own food, and not having access to anything to take our minds off the fact we were stuck in fucking hell. But sure dad, it was just a rough few months.” 

“That is no way to talk to your father.” He scorned.

“Go to your room, Fatin.” It was her mum who spoke this time, putting a hand between her and her father. “Go to your room and cool down. You don’t need to study the school has given you time to get situated back here. Go watch a film, your brother really wanted to catch you up on the new Star Wars series.” She smiled weakly. 

Fatin debated yelling at her father further, dredging up the past of all the shitty things he’d done. 

Instead, she took a breath and stalked out. That bitch wasn’t worth it.

 


 

Furious tears poured down her face as she sent a text off to Leah, hoping for a reply. 

Not Ben Folds: ‘Are you around? My parents know about us.’ 

When she didn’t receive a reply, she figured Leah was in questioning currently and sighed. The timing could not be worse. 

Fatin placed her cello against her door as a barricade; the neck wedged under her door handle preventing any unwanted entries. Then she began unloading the heap of pages from the folder, spreading them out across her bed. When her mind wandered, she’d simply take a distraction tool out of Leah’s book. She would CSI this shit instead of focussing on the fact she wanted to throat punch her father.

Ian was methodical; she’d give him that. The boy had organised the notes by relevance, meaning, and use. Each was tabbed at the top with a coloured dot or multiple dots based on who he believed the evidence on that page correlated to. By the looks of things, he must have barely slept and been behind on whatever work he was meant to be doing. It was a full-blown red stringed case file that sat on her bed. 

Her eyes first traced over the pages Ian had compiled on the profiles on suspected donors. 

Dillan Wood, 47, Chicago. Old Dillan here had donated hundreds of thousands through an offshore account in the Cayman Islands. 

Malinda Fayre, 53 of New York. Had donated significantly more. 

Fatin began to peruse through the chunk of files on the donors. 

There were many of them, most names leading to dead-ends; names of identities that didn’t truly exist. 


One thing stood out to her though. A donation that Ian had traced to an events company. It was on a page marked miscellaneous donations, meaning they had no name of a person responsible, or the company was so large that Ian had no way of pinpointing who the donation had come from. 

Fatin scrolled through their site. The company put on various shows, anything from traveling magicians to tribute bands. But the thing that intrigued her the most was the fact this company ran pageants. She found herself scrolling, trawling through the images of previous winners. Both state-wide and local competitions divided up into multiple age categories. Pages and pages of faces of orange and teeth as white as paper stared back at her, boring into her soul. Until she came across one intriguing image, three years old. 

Blonde hair far straighter than usual, smile duller than the one she had previously seen.

Winner, Shelby Goodkind of Texas.

Holy fucking shit. 

Fatin noted down the company’s phone number, scrawling it at the top of the page before typing the number into her phone. 

“Hello, Davenport Shows, how can I help y’all today?” 

Fatin winced at the heavy Southern twang. “Hello, I was just wondering... It appears my company received a very sizable donation from yourselves a while back, and we never got the chance to thank y’all.” Fatin put on her best Shelby impersonation, times had gotten boring on the island, and she’d been preparing for this moment unintentionally for months. “And we just can’t have that now can we?” The woman laughed down the phone with her. “I was wondering if you could tell me who to send the thank you to? The organisation that received the donation is D.O.E Experiences.” 

“D.O.E Experiences…” The woman paused. “I can confirm we sent a donation to you, but I am not obliged to say from whom. It was not directly from ourselves. Often winners, especially in the pageant circle, occasionally choose to donate their winnings to a social group or charity. It stays with us for up to twenty-four months, after which if it’s not allocated by the winner, the prize money goes to a charity of our choice, normally the local children’s hospital. A lot of kind godly people in that pageant sector as you know.” 

Fatin suppressed the urge to gag. 

“But I’m not at liberty to disclose names, in fact, the donor has requested to have their name hidden from our system, a true act of random kindness am I right? Some people are just so caring for those in need.” 

“Oh, so caring.” Fatin bit on her cheek. Just like the pageant company who were probably reaping interest and tax benefits from the donations.

“So, unfortunately, I couldn’t tell you who. All I have here is the date they declined the winnings and the date of the transfer to yourselves.”

“The date they declined the winnings?” Fatin pried. 

“Oh, we keep notations of that as we only hold it for up to twenty-four months in the charitable fund, after which it’s donated to the hospital if a charity isn’t named. Many normally donate the money to their local church or youth services.”

Ian also didn’t know that on their island was one Shelby Goodkind, pageant extraordinaire.

Fatin grabbed her phone, notating the date given to her across the phone. She eventually scrolled to Shelby’s Facebook page seeing a picture of her in front of her father’s church as her header photo. 

Caswell Church. 

“I don’t suppose you make donations to the Caswell Church do you?” 

“Yes, we certainly do. They’re a fairly popular choice due to all the outreach work they do.” 

Fatin swallowed. “Well, thank you for your time!”

“No problem, Mam, have a lovely day now.” 

Fatin scrolled through the pages, focussing more on the anonymous and untraced donations. 

There were fourteen churches in total, many of whom Ian had traced, who had donated to help kids in need attend an ‘outreach program.’ 

There were however, churches that declined to give Ian information, ones he listed as ‘pointless conversation, random donation’ alongside any information he had been granted such as the fact they often donated to youth programs.

Fatin grabbed a pen, scribbling down the names of three churches Ian assumed had no direct information on. Churches he had just assumed were donating out of ‘good will’ like the others. 

Three. Three church organisations in total. 

Fatin’s fingers pounded the keys on her laptop, the other pulling up Shelby’s Instagram. 

No church linked. None. Caswell never appeared, nor any others they worked in unison with.

She weaved through photo after photo, hours of the day ticking away. She searched Shelby’s page, her dad's page, and her mother's. An aunt who wasn’t even in Texas. It was all a dry well of nothingness.

But then, something else stood out. 

A picture tagged on a friend of Shelby’s page with a ‘Becca Gilroy’ from years back, so Fatin clicked on her profile.  The girl had appeared in numerous photos alongside Shelby, but never on Shelby’s page. Just on friend’s pages. However there was photo after photo of them together. Either she was that bitch Dot thought Shelby’s boyfriend was cheating with or she was another friend to check.

She had died. The most recent posts were not her own but instead family leaving heartfelt goodbyes, wishes of love, and apologies that she ‘struggled to find the correct path’. Fatin tensed her hands, nails biting into her palms. Even in death they couldn’t help but preach at this girl. 

But the last status stood out, dated before all the posts of ‘mourning’. It was simply a link to a religious camp, posted by a woman who was listed as her relative. 

A ‘camp’ that matched the name of one of the organisations on the list. 

Fatin held her breath, googling the camp to find their site as her breath shuddered out of her. Shelby’s best friend was perhaps going to a fucking conversion camp before her death. That had to be it. The reason Shelby had such a stick up her ass when they arrived, the mental breakdowns, the homophobia and utter fear when Toni had food poisoning. It had to be why this one girl, who from other people’s profiles seemed to be incredibly close with Shelby, was gone from her own. Someone Shelby held close had died, experiencing what she too was. 

It was like the hefty weight of Shelby’s Emotion, the fear, the worry, the homophobia…  had been explained away by one single person.

The images on the ‘camps’ site were filled with misleading pictures of teens grinning in a field, holding hands in a circle. Images of them baking and kissing people of the opposite sex. 

Fatin wanted to throw up. Jesus, they needed to protect that girl.

The next time she typed in the organisations name, searching in every corner of the internet including LinkedIn. It was bare, or just talking of activities and success stories. The only photos showed two main workers, and then images of folk who had apparently ‘healed in the light of The Lord’.

Eventually, she looked up their company statistics online. Charitable takings. Expenditure. Appointed directors.

 

Dave Goodkind. 


Dave fucking Goodkind. 


Holy shit. 


Fatin screenshot the pages on her phone, saving them to an album to show Leah later on. 

Shelby’s father was possibly a donor. It made complete sense; he couldn’t send his daughter to conversion therapy, at least not without word getting around as to where she was going, especially if his own name was tied to it. However, he could pay to send her on Gretchen’s getaway in hopes of achieving the same thing, or death. 

Leah’s words rung in her head over and over. Everything is balanced, everything is always balanced with Gretchen. 

Shelby wouldn’t be the only paid position. 

Fatin sucked on her lip. Josh. He was forever talking about his parents were trying to make him be like his brother and sister. He came from money. 

And so did Ivan. 

She perused the photos available, but nothing led her far. Not until she googled Gretchen’s son.

Devon Klein. Fatin began chewing on the inside of her cheek. Insanity ran in the family it seemed. Devon (DJ), had killed a boy in a ‘hazing accident.’ What intrigued Fatin was that as she poured over the articles there were numerous questions as to why it took so long for the three to be taken into custody with direct information and substantial evidence.

 

Quinn Article

But also, newer articles spoke of one’s particular early release.

Devon Klein, Released After Serving Only a Short Term Due To Good Behaviour. 

The boy couldn’t have even been behind bars for two years before release. Not even close. Shivers ran down her spine, some discarded pieces of the puzzle slotting neatly into place. 

Leah’s theories on Gretchen being a cop. It would give her sway like that for sure. But also, Leah’s theories on why they were put on that island to begin with. ‘Maybe parents who wanted to right a wrong or explain a wrong away? A money-making venture but with a twisted purpose ’ The island had both proven that they could be aided by the experience, albeit in a totally shitty way. But it had also proven that boys, had a shocking amount of issues compared to that of the girl’s island. Gretchen could be trying to prove some hairbrained theory about men having a disposition for certain, more brutal instincts, all whilst selling it as a money-making business venture. Perhaps it wasn’t intended for rich kids, but as a prisoner reform camp.

Nonetheless, older photos of Devon were harder to come by, instead pushed out of the search engine in favour of mug shots and smear articles. 

She returned to Facebook, searching for the other two involved in the Fraternity. Thank you, Jack Hartland. Jack had tagged Devon in a frat fundraiser he attended fairly soon after release. Fancy, elegant halls filled with many gross, elderly, and balding white men in suits, beer in hand. High society definitely had a type. A ghastly one at that.

Devon fit right in, though his black suit made him look like a waiter instead of someone reaping the benefits of upper society. Fatin had almost missed him.

Dear god that boy used a shit tonne of gel. 

But then, Fatin’s hand balled as she clicked onto the following photo; Devon, DJ, shaking someone’s hand. 

The photo would be nothing of interest to most, but on his wrist that Fatin had zoomed in on, was a watch she recognised well. 

Because she had seen her father purchasing a similar model online, years prior. 

She shook her head. Though it was vintage, handfuls of these models could exist in well-off circles. Saying that, Gretchen didn’t seem like she was made of old money. Perhaps another reason why she fit the dirty cop ideal so well.

Fatin opened up a page, viewing the bookmarked tab her father had left for her when they were still talking. A watch sales page for older models and ones that went for prices that most people would gasp at. It was a selling sight, similar to eBay but for elite people searching for rare goods. She clicked on her father’s page, and that shit had changed the password. Of course. 

She ground her teeth, choosing a different tactic. She searched for sellers of that brand and vague year period it would have been made in. Having found the model number she searched for specifically that model, then navigated to past sales. 

Her father’s words rang in her ears. ‘The provenance Fatin, one knows they’re getting the real thing because you look at the provenance.’ 

She could see the sale listed and an image she recognised, dated years prior. The buyer was her dad’s listed account but clicking on his account he had never sold it, not through here at least, which is where Fatin knew he sold all through. There were a few listings but nothing for that one in particular. So perhaps he still held it. 

Yet, as she scrolled back, there was one newer listing, having sold months prior. The same model of watch, a new seller with no site history, no stated location or name, simply an email address, and random account name. 

As she clicked it, the blood pounded in her ears. 

The serial number matched, the dent in the one side of the watch matched, and the description of the occasional issue with the mechanism. And the previous owner was listed as... Samad. J.

Samad Jadmani. Her fucking father. 

Screenshotting it she saved everything to a folder, sending another text to Leah. 

Not Ben Folds: ‘Lee? We need to talk.’ 

Chapter Text

Fatin POV

 

She threw her fist against the file. There is no fucking way. 

Fuming, she acted without thought. With trembling hands, she sent the file in an email over to the federal team examining their case, along with the notes she had scribbled down. Had he sent her there knowingly? She shifted in her bed, trying to control her breathing for the next couple of hours until her phone lit with an incoming call. 

“Miss Jadmani, we think it best if we relocate you to a safe house for the evening under the guise of further interviews, is this okay with you?” 

“I’ll pack a bag.” Fatin took a deep breath and closed her eyes as she attempted to process the information, knowing that the FBI must have found it equally intriguing if they were pulling her out; especially so fast.

 


“Come to apologise for earlier? I know we can both be hot-headed, but one must acknowledge when they are wrong,” Her father spoke over his laptop.

“I have to go in for more interviews. Tell mum not to worry, I’m sure it will be the same shit they asked me every time before.” 

“Your mother or I can go with you if it’s best?” 

“I’m good. She has an open house tomorrow so I wouldn’t want to keep her. I’ll text mum and keep her updated.” 

“You can text me too. You’re still my child Fatin, regardless of what you did in the past, I love you.” 

Fatin set her jaw, exhaling in relief when the door buzzed. 

Agents, again. Fucking fabulous. 

 

After piling her into the back seat they drove to the end of her road and quickly stopped, one of the men leaning over the seat. “Mam, we need you to put your phone and any electrical devices in this box. We cannot risk anyone tracking them to the safe location.” 

Fatin nodded, placing her phone in the box. She’d ask one of them to ring Leah later. 

 



Leah POV


Not Ben Folds: We need to talk. 

Leah stared down at the phone, teeth sinking into her lip as she gazed at the message. 

She had been stuck in questioning with those stupid people for eight brain-numbing hours until they thankfully let her go. But now, staring at this message? Her soul had left the premises, her mind going dark in the blink of an eye. 

Because here’s the thing, if there’s one skill that Leah excels in it’s overthinking things to a critical degree. But if there’s one thing she does to the point of instability? It’s worrying over relationships. 

Whilst it had gotten particularly bad with Jeff, the habit had always been there. Within days, weeks, or months she would become hyper focussed on whomever she fell for, to the point that she would spend masses of time fearing that she would mess things up; as she always did. With Jeff it had damn well near killed her, amounting to her dancing in the middle of the road, mid-breakdown until that car collided with her ass. A total clusterfuck of a moment in all truth; aptly she had been blasting Lana Del Rey’s Born To Die at the time.

Not Ben Folds: We need to talk. 

That was a breakup text, right? That’s what people sent when they wanted to let someone down easy or couldn’t bear them anymore. 

Leah thought back, yesterday they had been fine. Fatin held her, brushing fingers through her hair in front of their parents. 

But there was also the fact Fatin had come out to her parents. Perhaps when Fatin had told her parents, they didn’t approve of Leah for whatever reason. Then again, who could ever tell Fain, ‘no you can’t do that.’ But Fatin’s parents knew and she hadn’t said much else so possibly it hadn’t gone well after all.

Blood trickled from her lip as she released it and re-read the last message again. 

Gay Nerd: Are you okay?

She typed, deleted, and typed again until finally, she sent a reply. Leah just needed a ‘yes’ as she knew she was likely overthinking things. 

After one hour she sent a simple, ‘Are we okay?

After two hours, ‘Fatin?’ 

After eight hours, she was balled up in her duvet in bed, tears pouring down her cheeks. 

Gay Nerd: Fatin, please just reply, I get if I fucked up and I’m sorry. Please just talk to me.

By two am the next morning she was a mix of total concern and anxious; texting Fatin to meet her at the diner as they said they would should any issues arise.


Slipping out of her room she climbed down the stairs taking two at a time, slipping her keys into the ignition, and driving faster than was probably allowed in the area. 

Rain pounded at the window, a sense of pathetic fallacy condensing her sorrows with each drip that exploded across her windscreen. 

The emotion was slowly eating away at her, feasting on any positive thought before it could fully bloom. Leah pulled into the parking lot of the diner, gravel crunching beneath the tires. Exiting, she tugged her hood firmly over her head and placed her glasses on her nose.

“Little dark for sunglasses, isn’t it?” A woman asked as she entered, pulling out a pad and pen from her apron as Leah sat. 

“Sensitive to light,” Leah muttered. In truth, she was just avoiding any chance of recognition. “Coffee, please.” 

The woman nodded, disappearing momentarily before returning with a jug and filling a mug for her. Steam rose from the beverage skyward, in thick ribbons against the cool air. Leah paid and sat waiting; wet sleeves tugged up around hands that cradled the boiling coffee for warmth. 

Gay Nerd: Have you spoken to Fatin tonight?

She sent the text off to Shelby, knowing if she contacted anyone it would be her or Dot. 

Though it was early in the morning -so much so that it was still pitch black out with not a soul awake- Shelby replied after only ten minutes. Her screen lit, Leah squinting at it as she clicked the message open.

Shelbald: No, Dottie hasn’t either. Is she finally catching up on her sleep maybe? You said she had some restless sleep on the plane, the girl is probably still exhausted.

Gay Nerd: Maybe. 

Leah chewed her lip, staring down at the texts Fatin had left ominously. 

They had promised, regardless of whatever shit they faced that they would be there for each other. Fatin had promised. 

Yet as she looked at the texts, her breathing sped up, arms closing around herself as her coffee grew cold. 

 


Dad: Where are you? 

The text came in at seven am, from her father. A duplicate arrived from her mum just ten seconds later.

She sighed, knowing she owed them a reply; probably should have texted them prior to leaving.

Gay Nerd: Diner, grabbing breakfast and a coffee. Missed the pancakes here. Sorry, I will text next time x 

That would keep them off her back for a few hours. 

 


By eight, Leah attempted calling the Jadmanis to no avail, the phone simply ringing through to a family answer message left by Fatin’s younger brothers and Rana. Their cheery voices ringing in Leah's ear even after she'd hung up.

 

So, on a whim she drove there, fingers growing white with their death grip on the wheel.

Fatin’s house was huge; she had never seen it nor stepped foot inside the place. The grand scale of it made Leah feel exceptionally small, shrinking in on herself as she rang the buzzer. 

Surely, they would be up by now. 

She rang it again, and again, and again; her finger practically glued to the buzzer.

Leah’s heart was pounding heavily in her chest, her palms growing clammy. Fatin had joked, time and time again that her parents would send her to that school away from everyone and everything. What if she was gone? What if they had sent her away as she thought?

Her fingers picked at the hair of her brows until slowly, the gap present on the island began to re-emerge. 

Gay Nerd: Has anyone heard from Fatin? 

She left the message on their group chat, tears springing to her eyes when all she received was no’s, one after the other popping up on her screen. 

Beside Leah, her phone rang. Hastily she picked it up and pressed it to her ear in hopes that it was-

“Hey, you okay dude?” 

Dot. Not Fatin.

“Fatin... She’s not answering anything.” 

“Could she be getting that beauty sleep -in her like twenty thousand thread count sheets- like she said she was going to?” 

“I’m at her house and no one’s answering. She left a cryptic message and her parents know about us.” 

“As in you and Fatin… dating?” 

“Yeah.” 

“Shit. Well, maybe just give it a couple of hours? It’s only eight and it’s not like Fatin mentioned any worry of them being homophobic before.” 

“What if they ship her off to some boarding school?” 

“Then we get her back. But I highly doubt they would ship her off in the middle of the night somewhere, especially when Fatin is still needed for questioning. They’d have to clear it with the FBI which would take an age. Plus, we all know Fatin sleeps like the dead, maybe that’s why she’s not answering? Or maybe she’s just in questioning now?” 

“Maybe.” Leah chewed at her nail. “Dot…” 

“Just give it a few hours, okay? We’ve all texted her and if we hear back we’ll let you know. Hell, no one has heard from Toni in ages but Martha just text to say she’s out like a log.” 

Leah nodded. “Yeah, yeah. I’m probably just overreacting. I’ll give it a few hours.” 

“Have you slept?”

No, she hadn’t. “A bit.” 

“Go, sleep. Leave your phone on loud and I’ll call when she’s up, okay?” 

“Yeah, okay.” She had zero intention of sleeping anytime soon.

 

Leah drove back home, fingers still wrapped tensely around the wheel. 

Climbing out of the car she opened the door, heading straight for her room. Her stomach growled in hunger, which she opted to ignore as she sat on the bed, rocking herself for comfort. It was just her, being obsessive in a relationship again. 

Fatin was fine, she was just making a huge deal out of nothing. 

But it wasn’t 'nothing'; not to Leah. Because Fatin always texted her goodnight, always answered straight away if she texted her, and God Fatin would never miss a call even if pissed. The fact the Jadmanis hadn’t answered was freaking her the fuck out, though Fatin had mentioned that her brothers often had early morning soccer practices that she or her mum ran them to. Her dad was normally out by seven also, heading for work, a fact Leah knew after Fatin had bitched that he’d better not wake her up on her first week back. 

Leah knew there were reasons that could explain her absence, but there were just as many reasons stacking up as to why that absence was unusual... Why she should in fact be worried. 

So that's what Leah continued to do; worry. 

She pulled her comforter tight around her as tears seeped into the neckline of her clothing, staining it with a dark halo. 

Perhaps she had done something wrong.

Chapter Text

Fatin POV

 

Fatin swung her legs restlessly from the couch in the safe house. 

“Boys, not that I’m not like, totally enjoying this whole caged moment, but could we maybe wrap it up? Or I don’t know, give me my phone back?” 

It had been hours, and all that was on Fatin’s mind was that her last words to Leah were vague as shit. She knew her girlfriend; knew how her brain worked enough to realise that she would be panicking by now. And not mild panic either, melt-down level alarms blaring through the girl's mind.

Fatin had assumed she’d get her phone back, or that they would at least have some retro ass phoneline here to make a call, maybe some morse code shit. But no; it was a fucking cave. There was a TV with an outdated DVD selection and three channels. She gagged. All that was on the thing was reruns of Jeopardy and CSI neither of which did she find any interest in at all. Though, a fleeting thought did tell her that Leah probably lived for quiz shows, sending a pang through her heart. 

God, she was such a fucking mess. 

She left for that island with not a care in the world -other than the fact half of the town had probably bared witness to her father’s dick- and now, she couldn’t even go ten seconds without thinking about Leah. Thoughts popped into her head with rapid succession like ad’s on porn sites; when she shut one thought down another would simply emerge in its place. Damn emotional whack-a-mole. Whilst she knew that was probably a siren going off, there was something simultaneously comforting about the fact too. Like the girl had hollowed out a place in her on the island, one that left Fatin feeling incomplete without her presence. A book nerd shaped puzzle piece missing from her soul.

“Sorry Mam. No word goes out, nothing in. Except on the safe phones which aren’t for use of the protected citizen except for in emergencies. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the television, we won’t be here too long. This is a short stay house, you won’t be kept here indefinitely, just whilst information is processed and checked. It’s just a precautionary measure for your safety as we do.” 

Fatin rolled her eyes, slumping back into the sofa as she snuggled down lower into the neckline of Leah’s hoodie, inhaling until she felt the homely scent grounding her, only just. 

In truth, she should be panicking. Her father likely had ties to Gretchen. Scratch that. Her father had ties to Gretchen; certainly. It was now a case of figuring out if those ties were intentional -criminal- or merely coincidental.

Fatin had a feeling that wasn’t the case. Coincidence. The girl now knew who her father was. He wasn’t the man she had been deluded by for years; believing his lies. The family man playing the part of the doting, ‘fun’ father. He was someone entirely else, hiding behind the persona of a family man, sweet and loving. In actuality, he was vile and jaded with rough edges that cut her now that she had exposed them. 

 


Eventually, a phone rang in the distance with Fatin still chewing her lip as she thought back to Leah. ‘We need to talk.’ Christ, what the fuck was she thinking with that one.

“Yes, Mam. Yes. Not a problem we shall relocate the subject now.”  He hung up the phone, trekking over in boots too large for his short stature, dragging them along the old cabin floor. “If you’ve got everything, we can get you back now.” 

Fatin swallowed, nodding. “My phone?” 

“We will give that back to you once we arrive at your house, just to avoid possible tracking of the safe location.” 

“My house? Is that safe?” Fatin frowned. If her father was willing to send her on Gretchen’s bitch fuelled science plan after sharing a picture, she wasn’t sure what he wouldn’t do in the name of protecting his image from a criminal incident. 

“It’s secure.” That was all he said before loading her into a car with the windows blacked out. 

Her attention drifted out the window as her gaze met the trees passing them at speed outside, slipping by in a haze of blurred foliage. It had taken them roughly an hour to get to this place. That was another hour Leah would be tearing herself apart through.

 



“Fatin,” Rana met her in an embrace at the door as the men handed her the bag that she had brought with her. Her phone was dead. Fuck. 

“Where is he?” Surely her mother would know by now this wasn’t just an interview.

“Elsewhere. The FBI has taken him in for questioning. I’ve asked him to stay at the house I’m doing up on the other side of the bay until they’re done with him. That is if they release him.” Rana shook her head, tearfully. “Fatin, I’m sorry. I had no part in whatever he pulled. We agreed on a getaway for you that he said would be great for you to make actual friends. After your issues with cello practice, I thought it would be good and give you a break to meet good people. A place where you would be surrounded by positive influences instead of all the gossip and pressure here. I never for one second thought that he…” Rana swallowed the lump in her throat, setting her jaw firmly. “He won't be coming back unless his name is cleared.”

Fatin dipped her chin in approval. It was something. Better than what she was expecting in fairness.


 “I need to go see Leah. My phone died and she…” Fatin shook herself, not wanting to cry right now. “She worries… like a lot. Kind of her thing.” 

“Go. Bring her by for dinner if you want. Your brothers are with your aunt right now, I still need to explain everything to them as best as I can without,” 

“Turning their lives upside down?” Fatin queried. 

“I think it’s perhaps best just to give them little information on this for now. They love Leah, she’ll be a good distraction for them.” 

Fatin nodded in understanding. She could barely handle what was happening at her age let alone theirs. Grabbing her car keys from where they hung, she sniffed her arm. “Do I smell gross right now?” She hadn’t brought any perfume in that damn bag and the cabin was musty as shit.

“You smell fine dear. Go, go see your friend.” 

“Girlfriend.” Fatin corrected. 

Rana simply smiled, giving her a tight hug before releasing her. 

Fatin rarely ran in her life as she hated any kind of physical exertion or sport with a fiery passion. Sweat and effort were both disgusting in truth; neither holding any kind of appeal to her. Then again, perhaps that’s why she held such a disdain for the cello. 

She drove much faster than was probably legal, hitting as much speed as she could gather on all open main roads, only slowing slightly near residential streets or winding roads. 

As the houses grew smaller and streets grew closer together, her breath grew in speed. Leah had to be okay. Then again, Fatin wasn’t sure what she was going to walk in on, her mind veering toward panic any time she thought about it for too long. 

Hastily she parked her sports car on the verge at a complete angle, not bothering to worry if she fucked up the wheels. Flinging the door open she jogged up to Leah’s house, pounding on the door rapidly until Maryann opened it, face flustered. 

“Fatin?” 

“Leah?” She replied.

“She’s upstairs, I don’t think she slept much as she was at the diner this morning when I woke up. Came home and won’t come out of her room. It’s just like before.” She folded her arms. “You’re welcome to go up, just give us a call if we’re needed or you want food.” 

“Thank you.” She rushed out, legging it up the stairs and knocking on the door. 

“I’m not hungry.” The voice came through the door, broken and scratchy. The same way it broke whenever Leah was spiralling. 

Fatin opened the door, Leah turning as she spoke. “I said I’m not,” She paused as her eyes met Fatin’s, widening in either shock or disbelief. “Fatin?” 

The girl was in sweats, eyes red and cheeks damp with shed tears as the duvet was still pulled up around her. 

“Hey, babe.” Kicking off her shoes, she pushed the door shut. “Is the door being shut okay?” 

“My mum doesn’t know yet,” Leah spoke, words sounding distant, detached. 

Fatin nodded, pulling off her sweater, then her pants. “Do you have any pyjamas? I smell kinda gross right now. Like trees and shit. It’s a bit too island reminiscent.” 

“Top drawer over there.” 

She went to open the drawer, staring down at an array of shorts and tees. Grabbing a pair of brown shorts and a faded grey ‘Fiona Apple’ shirt, she quickly stripped her top and bra off and pulled them on. 

Her girlfriend watched her the entire time with a slightly vacant stare. 

Climbing in the bed, she pulled Leah into her, arms wrapping around her and gripping on for dear life. 

“What did you need to talk about? Are we...” Leah chewed her lip, not meeting her eyes. “Are we okay?” She shifted in Fatin’s arms anxiously. 

She noticed a few things now they were closer; Leah’s nails had been chewed, the flesh there on one finger bloodied. Her right brow had a gap in it, a sizable one at that. And Leah was shutting down, just like she did on the island. A side to her she hadn’t bared witness to in a long time. 

The thought would have made the old Fatin leap up and run for the hills; knowing Leah was in deep enough for her absence to have this ripple of an effect, disarming Rilke entirely. 

Yet the new Fatin kissed her, lips pulling at hers so she could sink her teeth into the bottom one, a hand sliding up her shirt to caress the bare skin of her back; where she began rubbing comforting patterns onto the skin there. 

“We’re perfect Lee.” 

“You’re sure?” 

“Wildly. It’s honestly kind of freaking me the fuck out how attached to you I am. I mean I get moved to a safe house and rather than worrying about my dad working with Gretchen my mind is just like, entirely focussed on how I can get back to you.” 

Leah froze, seemingly coming back into herself as she pushed the hair out of her own face and behind her ear, sitting up against the bed. “Fatin, what?” 

And oh. They hadn’t covered that yet, had they? 

“The file you gave me. I found some pages Ian left, random funding. I connected one of them back to a pageant organisation.” Fatin plugged her phone in, waiting for it to turn on then turned the screen towards her. “The donation was taken on the day that Shelby won. The donation itself was anonymous but other churches donated on the page,” Fatin spoke. 

“Ian said he searched those, that they didn’t know what the organisation was, they just got an appeal to donate.” 

Fatin nodded. “Sure, but if you were funneling money through a church to a creepy ass company, what would you do to save your ass?” 

“Get other churches to donate so you don’t stick out like a sore thumb.” Leah finished. 

“Yep,” She let her mouth pop on the ‘p’. “And guess who one of the religious organisations links back to?” 

“Shelby.” 

“Her dad is like, the director and accountant for some church organisation that runs conversion therapy. I only found them because Shelby’s best friend...” Fatin stilled. “Maybe I shouldn’t go into that part. It’s Shelby’s personal shit. But I totally get it now, why she was such a raging homophobe on that island. The shit that girl must have been through.” She shook her head. “But good ol’ daddy Dave had his name on the account. So, I figured,” 

“Other parents must be donating too.” 

Fatin nodded, but Leah was rising walking over to her cabinet where she picked up a huge mirror, rotating it so that Fatin could see the notes assembled on the cork of the reverse backboard. 

“You really CSI’d this shit huh?” 

“I couldn’t sleep. Then when you were missing I,” 

Fatin stood, looping her arms around Leah’s waist as her nose nuzzled into her neck. 

Looking up at the board she noted the names. 


Ivan                              Kirin

Raf                                Josh

Scotty                           Bo

Henry                           Seth 


Leah                            Fatin

Martha                         Toni

Shelby                          Dot 

Nora                             Rachel

 

“What are the underlined ones?” 

“Operatives and suspected operatives.” 

Fatin nodded and began highlighting names. 

First Shelby, then herself. 

“What’s that?”

“Both our fathers had connections to Gretchen, paid places for us I’m assuming. I linked a watch Gretchen’s son had back to my father. He was the previous owner and he never sold it on his account which means…”

“It was gifted.” 

“If Gretchen was taking payments, it’s not just through offshore accounts and cryptocurrency. It’s through guised 'donations' and 'gifts' that they could sell for God knows how much. I mean a few of those watches?  That would be a major donation, Leah.” 

“It has to be balanced,” Leah added, lost in thought. “If it’s the same as our group, the donors were not pairs with an operative. They weren’t making a payment they were,” 

“Being paid,” Fatin added, mind drifting. 

“Which leaves Ivan and Kirin, and Josh and Raf. Neither Kirin nor Raf comes from money so that leaves,” She highlighted two more names.


Ivan                              Kirin

Raf                                Josh

Scotty                           Bo

Henry                           Seth 


Leah                            Fatin

Martha                         Toni

Shelby                          Dot 

Nora                             Rachel

 

“We need to grab the notes… Look up connections.”  Fatin walked back to the bed, slumping down on it as she stared at the board again. “What’s the Gretchen section?” 

“Theories,” Leah mumbled. “I couldn’t sleep.” 

“Care to share with the group?” Fatin smiled. 

“Remember what Martha said? About Gretchen meeting her through an interview? She was a cop working her case?” 

Fatin nodded. 

“She wasn’t technically the only one. Nora, her letter explained a lot. She met Gretchen because her son was imprisoned for killing Nora’s boyfriend on some frat hazing gone wrong.” 

“Shit,” Fatin’s breath caught. “What?” 

Leah shook her head, not wanting to detail more. “She met Nora because she was visiting her son.” She began to pace. “That’s two people she’s met around cases. And so, I started looking and texted the guys. Scotty was facing charges for the destruction of property with Bo. And Henry stated there was an investigation focussing on Seth for issues surrounding his ex. All of these cases... They were dropped. And I mean look at us. Martha’s case, Nora’s case.”

“You think,” 

“Gretchen used her resources as a cop to find most of us. The rest were donors which…” Leah opened her laptop. “I was looking up Shelby’s dad. There was an investigation looking into his conversion camp that linked back to the deaths of seven other kids that never amounted to anything. I mean your dad doesn’t really fit the profile.” 

“Unless he does. With everyone that he was texting?” Fatin laughed. “Half of them looked barely legal. If he texted one who wasn’t, and Gretchen had a case on him? Or she was blackmailing him for cheating?”

“Jeff.” Leah all but yelled. 

“Sorry what?” Fatin felt a spike of anger any time his name was mentioned. 

“Jeff. After Jeff I got hit by a car in a hit and run, and the police were looking into it. Plus, I was so distant after it that my parents sent me to therapy. Gretchen, if she was a cop, she may have access to medical records. Therapist notes. I talked about him, vaguely, briefly. Not much but if she was a cop she’d know about him, I only gave the therapist his first name and nothing about his age, but it wouldn’t be hard for her to find information.” She laughed bitterly. “Gretchen could of hand-picked us because she knew we all had issues that needed fixing, issues she wouldn’t have known about just from randomly picking parents. She probably combed through reports on minors to find the perfect people to send alongside the blackmailed paid positions.”

“We don’t know for sure that they were blackmailed, hell my father would probably have signed me the fuck up happily.” 

“Sure, but there’s also the chance she did.” 

Nervously hugging her girlfriend tighter she spun the board back around. “We’ll text the girls tomorrow. Has Shelby texted recently?” 

“Shit, no. I don’t think…” 

Fatin opened her phone, scrolling through her messages. “I have one, direct, she said she’s gonna be awol for the day.” 

“Do you think…” 

“Her dad is being questioned too? Likely. The evidence on him is way more direct than my father's.” 


Fatin grabbed Leah by the hips, pulling her onto the bed alongside her. “Sleep. Your mum said you were at the diner. Do I want to know at what time?” 

“Like three AM maybe?” 

“Leah,” 

“I know.”

Fatin rolled so that she was spooning her, a hand thrown under Leah’s t-shirt. 

“You’re such a boob gal.” 

“I never for one second denied that,” Fatin mumbled into her hair. “Sleep baby.” 

“Okay.” Leah sighed, the lack of sleep evident in her voice as she immediately dozed off. 

 

Chapter Text

Fatin POV


When they awoke it was to Leah groaning as the door swung open, light filtering in alongside her mother. 

“Oh my.” Maryann stilled in the door, taking in Fatin who was laid on top of her daughter, a hand visibly tucked under her shirt -still very much holding onto her boob- and her nose tucked into her neck to hide from the sun. 

“Mum." Leah acknowledged, "You realise you could knock right?” 

Maryann sighed as Fatin promptly rolled off her daughter, eyes wide. “We um, Leah needed sleep.” Fatin babbled. “We were just taking a power nap. Leah looked a little,” 

“Fatin, it’s fine.” Leah turned to her mum. “Fatin is my girlfriend.” 

Of all the things that bitch could have gone with. Fatin stilled, suddenly anxious as shit. She hadn’t ever done the whole meet the parents' spiel, let alone been walked in on by said parents whilst sleep groping their daughter. Hardly a shining introduction. In her head, she had pictured telling them later, perhaps over a meal or casually whilst watching television. Settings where the announcement would be less stark.

“I guessed by the whole…” Her mother paused, still facing the door. Dear God, she had seen the hand. “Do you guys want food?" Maryann diverted from the subject she knew was putting both girls on edge. "Your dad wanted to know if you wanted to watch the new Chucky film with him, but I don’t know if watching horrors is a great idea since,” She hesitated again, the island, went unsaid. Didn’t need to be spoken aloud to be inferred. “Do you even like horrors Fatin, I normally just end up leaving the two of them.” 

“I love horrors,” Fatin replied. She didn’t, she was actually immensely squeamish... More so after the whole Rachel limb loss 'Jaws' moment. But would she fuck reveal such truths to Leah and risk her bad bitch persona. She could deal with mild horror. Fatin had watched The Purge, hiding through most of it but making it through without passing out. How scary could a ginger cabbage patch doll be?

“We’ll be down to watch it. It’s fine.” Leah spoke. 

“Do you want food?” 

“No.” 

“We will.” Fatin disagreed. “Leah needs to eat, as do I.” She smiled as her girlfriend rolled her eyes. Fatin knew she had bearly eaten recently and had been listening to the chorus of noises her girlfriend's stomach had been making since her arrival. She had a theory that if her cello was here she could use the sounds, combining to make a 'War of the Worlds' style dystopian composition, Leah's gut bringing a certain imminent death feel to the piece.

“Oh great, pizza?” The girls could hear how chipper Maryann was with the fact that Fatin stood a chance at convincing her daughter to eat. 

“That would be awesome.” Fatin beamed as she left the room, Maryann shutting the door behind herself. “So, no open-door policy here, huh?” 

Leah smacked her with a pillow, a blush dusting her cheeks fuscia. “I can’t believe my mum just saw you holding my tit.” 

“My hand was hidden by your shirt. And it could have been far worse, like my head could have been between your,” Leah hit her again. “Ow, fuck, fine bitch. It’s worse for me than it is for you. Like, I had to come out as your fucking girlfriend like that? It’s hardly a shining introduction. They’re going to think I’m some sort of tit perv.” 

“But you are.” Leah grinned. 

“Shut up.” Fatin dipped her hand back under Leah's shirt, laying back down. 

“You realise you just agreed to watch a film with my dad and not grope my boob right?” 

“Five minutes.” 

“Fatin,”

Fatin kissed her neck, sucking gently so as to not leave a mark. “How long does pizza take to cook?” 

Her hand trailed lower, brushing against Leah’s abs and drawing out a shaky breath from the girl.

“Ten to cook, plus ten to heat the oven up.” 

Dipping her hand lower still, she sighed, fingers pushing under her waistband. “I can work with that.” She kissed lower, lips trailing her collarbone.

“Fatin,” 

“Just, keep quiet, yeah?” 

Leah nodded, head sinking back into the pillow and a hand gripping firmly onto her hair, whispered curses falling from her mouth.

 

 

 

“Fatin.” Leah’s father announced when they made it down the stairs half an hour later. The pizza was now cold where it sat on the living room table. 

“Mr. Rilke.” 

“Kurt.” He corrected with an upturn of his mouth. “Come take a seat.” 

Fatin sat next to Leah, instinctively curling in at her side as Leah wrapped an arm around her. She settled in, fingers intertwining through Leah's for warmth and a need for comfort. There was something so emotionally stabilising about being near her like this. It was hard for Fatin to admit to having emotions -especially any deemed weak or pertaining to the island- so the comfort she sought silently was always a release, numbing the fear and doubt.

“So how long have you been dating my daughter?” 

That was certainly straight to the damn point.

“Dad!” Leah yelled, almost spitting out her pizza. 

“What? I’m allowed to ask, it’s a parental concern kiddo.” 

“Uh,” Fatin hesitated, hoping Leah would butt in but alas, she left her to fend for herself on this one. It was like Rachel with the shark all over again.

“Since the second island.” She had been in love with Leah for far longer but that was a fact she would keep to herself.

He nodded. “And you’re taking care of my daughter?” 

“I hope so,” Fatin replied. Though in truth it was normally Leah taking care of her in one way or another. Even when she had perpetuated the idea of being Leah's protector it was always just that. An Idea. Leah had been right about her theories and had been the one saving them the entire time.

“She’s the reason I’m still here,” Leah added plainly as if she hadn’t just dropped a major bomb. “Are you going to tell her to use protection too?” Leah grinned, and Fatin realised her relationship with her parents was much different from her own. There was humor there she probably wouldn't get away with, Kurt laughing at what Leah had said. 

“No, but maybe I should.” 

“We didn’t even have food on the Island,” Fatin added without thinking. Then again it's not like it was required for them now anyway as a couple not dating outside of their relationship. She seriously needed to google lesbian sex on a private browser and brush up. This was hardly an area she had knowledge about which left her in a state of unease, sex was normally Fatin's knowledge and comfort zone. It felt odd to be referring solely to what she had seen on 'Orange Is the New Black.'

“More information than I needed.” Kurt turned to the screen. 

“Aren’t you going to ask her about her academic achievements? Hobbies? Social security number? Religion?” 

“Muslim. Cello prodigy. Juilliard. Likes to party.” Kurt rose a brow at the last one. “I spent a lot of time with your dad.” Kurt clarified. 

“Well, my father is a cu,” 

“Awful person,” Leah interjected; side-eying her girlfriend. “Who we are not going to talk about right now because we have a film to watch.” 

Kurt frowned at that, Leah knowing he must feel awkward about the misstep. 

“Sorry, it’s just, fresh wounds I guess.” Fatin grimaced. 

“No need to explain.” Kurt got the movie up. “I’ll show you Leah’s baby photos later. There was a whole year where she wouldn’t let us dress her in anything but a cow onesie.” 

Fatin gasped. Baby Leah? The thing about the island is she had begrudgingly made peace with never being able to have these things. Memories of her girlfriend's past she wouldn't hold herself. Now that she did, Fatin appreciated them all the more. 

 


They sunk into the film, Fatin slowly creeping closer and closer to Leah until she was hiding in her girlfriend's chest during anything remotely creepy -damn this fucking ginger bitch of a doll- avoiding half the film.

“Babe, are you okay?” Leah mumbled into her ear during one particular scene. Fatin had thought she had been doing a stellar job of hiding her terror, but by the unease written on Leah's face said perhaps not. 

“Peachy.” She grimaced. 

“We can watch something else.” 

“It’s fine.” Fatin looked up and oh, that was definitely a limb of sorts. “Oh, fuck my life.” She turned her head back, pulling a pillow on top of her head too.

“Fatin?” 

“Leave it on, I’m just gonna chill here.” In your boobs, went unsaid. 

Leah laughed, her chest jostling her cheek as a hand moved to comb through her hair, trying to soothe her. “We can do whatever you want after this.” 

“My mum said you’re welcome over. Tonight, for a meal maybe.” Fatin chewed her lip. “Would your parents be okay with one of us staying at the other's house?” 

“As long as you use protection.” Kurt mocked. 

“Kurt!” Maryann screamed from the kitchen. “Language!” 

“Shut up.” Leah groaned.

“Kidding. We’re just happy Leah wants to go places again. She was becoming quite the hermit. Plus, I don’t have to worry about the whole pregnancy thing… Right?” 

“I don’t know. I was feeling eight kids and a Subaru.” Fatin pushed a bite of pizza into her mouth, mulling the idea over.

“I genuinely hate you both.” Leah rolled her eyes, pinching Fatin's arm. 

Grabbing her phone, she texted her mum, receiving a reply minutes later. “Mum said you’re fine to stay over. She’s got dinner started already. We can head over after the film.” 

“Okay. We should get changed in a bit. I’ll pack a bag.” Fatin didn't know why Leah was bothering; they both knew she'd nick her own shit anyway.

 


 

Two hours later, after the movie and another round of highly uncomfortable questioning from Kurt, Fatin lay spread across Leah’s bed as she packed a bag, staring up at BlueTack marks from where she assumed posters used to hang. 

“What if your mum hates me?” Leah mused aloud.

“She won’t. You’re you. Writing track, sexy book nerd extraordinaire.” A hoodie hit her in the face with force. 

“Don’t you dare say that in front of her.” 

“The book nerd bit? Or the sexy bit? Because seeing you in an actual bra now,” Fatin groaned, God, she was gay as shit for that girl. 

“Firstly, keep it in your pants. Secondly, isn’t she still on edge from the whole…” 

“My dad being a corrupt bastard, shit? Probs.” Fatin laughed, sitting up on her palms. “All the more reason why it’s so easy to make a good impression right now. You only have one parent to contend with, and she hasn’t met you with your hand on my tit. Already doing better than me, right?” 

“Fuck off.” Leah chided but straddled her lap, pushing her back as her lips met her own. 

It was something Fatin doubted she’d ever tire of; Leah kissing her. The way she bit and tugged at her lip. Every time the same heat pooled low in her stomach, a subtler warmth also there in her chest like she felt so entirely content. Goosebumps rose on her arm whenever fingertips trailed along her skin and even a single bite of her ear left her heaving for breath. 

And then Leah pulled back, smiling like she was completely oblivious to the effect she had on her. 

“I love you,” Fatin spoke, fingers trembling slightly from where they caressed Leah’s thighs. 

“I love you too, sap.” Leah grinned, tugging her up to her feet. “Let’s go meet my death.” 

“You’re so fucking dramatic. Such a homosexual.” 

“You literally just ate me ou-” 

Fatin slapped a hand over her mouth. “Leah, I swear to god I don’t need to mortify myself in front of your parents anymore.” 

“They love you.” 

Fatin wrapped her arms around her, kissing her softly until her head cleared of fears that maybe they didn’t, maybe Leah’s parents were just thankful she was getting their daughter out again. Kurt had mentioned her habit of partying with a definite edge of disapproval. 

“Let’s go.” She swallowed anxiously, forcing a smile.

Chapter Text

Fatin POV

 

“Leah,” Rana greeted warmly as she entered the kitchen. 

“Hi.” Leah’s voice was gravelly as she spoke, her anxiety evident to Fatin who was currently having her hand squeezed by Rilke’s vice grip. 

“Sit down, I’ll grab you both a plate.” 

She sat beside Fatin at the table, her leg bouncing anxiously; almost jostling the tabletop. 

“You’re welcome here any time, you know?” Rana sat the plates in front of them. “I realise things were different…” She gulped in discomfort, processing how to approach the subject. “On the island. If you ever need to stay over, do not hesitate to turn up unannounced.” 

Fatin was shocked at that, jaw slack at the announcement. She had brought a whopping total of one guy home- Colby when she was grabbing a hoodie- and her mother had made him sit in the living room, whilst they both glared at him; making the poor boy almost shit himself in fear. They had said a tense hello, and that was all. 

Yet here her mother was, smiling away at Leah. Passing her food and a glass of orange juice, telling her that she could show up whenever the fuck she wanted. 

She looked to her mum, smiling for perhaps the first time -in this house- since she had returned, mouthing a ‘thank you.' 

It also shocked Fatin that her mother had mentioned the island in any shape or form. Up until now it had very much been a no-go subject, avoided to the point of discomfort.

“Thank you.” Leah calmed noticeably, though still had her fingers in a death lock; Fatin struggling to balance her fork in her non-dominant hand. “It was definitely… different there. I guess we’re a little,” 

“Co-dependant?” Fatin laughed airily. 

“I was going to say close, but yeah.” She shrugged. “It’s weird being back and suddenly not being like, self-sustaining and all.” 

“I understand that,” Rana spoke after swallowing a mouthful of her wine. “But,” She supplied, “There’s also rules.” 

“Mum,” Fatin warned, dreading the turn this conversation was about to take.

“This one here has a habit of partying.” 

Fatin was taken aback; she was waiting for some god-awful sex conversation she certainly never wanted to have with her parents. Sex was a very non-disclosed subject in her family, her education had come from google searches she prayed her parents never saw. They skirted around it, though her mother knew she was on the pill. It was almost as if they had a non-verbal agreement to never discuss such things.

“If you could reign her in every now and again, get her to do her math homework on time.” Rana shot her a judgemental look that she simply scoffed at, rolling her eyes. 

“I'm not really one for social things, so she’d have to get me there in the first place,” Leah admitted, much to Rana’s delight. 

“I will get you to a party bitch.” 

“Fatin do not call your girlfriend that, and language.” 

“Fine.” Fatin sat up straighter having been scorned like a toddler, Leah laughing quietly to herself. “But I will get her to a party if it kills me.” She would, Fatin had this need to see Leah laughing, drunk under lights as they danced surrounded by a haze of bodies. She craved normalcy; the things she was deprived of during her time there. But all these things she only longed for with Leah. It was never a party; it was seeing Leah at a party. It wasn’t food or drink; it was seeing Leah with a latte moustache for the first time. It was simplicity and innocence she craved with her girlfriend, moments she gripped onto with now painted nails. “However, I’m also not in a party mood as of now. For obvious reasons. Instead, I will be booking out the cinema room when Lee is here.” 

“Your brothers get equal time.” 

“They weren’t stuck on a deserted island with a dead toothbrush.” Probably too much info there.

Rana frowned, it was a low blow but Fatin planned on milking it for all its worth. “Two films more than them a week Fatin. And it’s always yours after nine anyway as they’re in bed, so don’t even try to complain about that. It wouldn’t kill you to spend some time with them either, even with Leah. They missed you.” 

“And I missed them,” Fatin spoke. “But also, I don’t want to like, make out with Leah in front of,” 

“Fatin.” Leah shot her a death glare. 

“Kidding.” She wasn’t. Totally meant it. She loved her brothers and would spend time with them, but sue a bitch if she still wanted to have some kind of sex life after all this fuckery. 

 

 

 

Dinner passed surprisingly, smoothly. Rana smiled whenever the two of them bickered, jokingly. 

When a subject got mentioned that unintentionally pulled up island memories from where they were buried, Fatin raised a hand to caress her cheek as she told Leah to breathe, in soothing tones. Eventually, she rambled to her about some random shit -like the plot of some movie- until her girlfriend calmed. Though, throughout this ordeal, Fatin had failed to notice that her mother was sitting there watching the whole thing unfold with a proud look, mouth upturned -only just- at the corner. 

 

 


“You really care for her, don’t you?” 

Fatin placed Leah’s plate in the dishwasher and closed it. Her girlfriend had taken her bag up as Fatin left her to shower whilst she cleaned up. 

“Obvi.” 

“I mean it, the two of you… it’s almost like watching one person.” 

“Yeah, well, the island will do that to you I guess. We all struggled but Leah… She knew the whole time what was happening and no one, I didn’t…” Squeezing her eyes shut she pushed back the tears threatening to fall. “We didn’t believe her. Which obviously, like totally messed with her head.” 

“That’s not your fault.” 

“It was.” Fatin ducked her chin. “But I will spend the rest of my life making it up to her.” 

“You say that like you want to marry the girl.” 

“Ideally I’d just like to get through college first.” Fatin mocked. “But Leah’s like a limb or some shit to me, which, it’s not because of the island. All eight of us are close. But Leah,” Fatin wiped a tear from her cheek hoping her mother hadn’t seen it. “I love her. Even though she’s like a total nerd, which my god, really?” 

Rana hugged her daughter. “You could do far worse. She’s got a bright future ahead of her, but even if she didn’t, she’s good for you. You seem to balance each other out.” 

“You’re just saying that because she’ll be reining my ass in from parties for cello practice.” 

“I’m saying that because you have a similar effect on her, Fatin. You calmed her down in seconds. Knew what to say and do, but that doesn’t often come naturally between people. You understand her as much as she seems to you.” 

“You’re not making me leave my door open, right?” Fatin wanted to change the subject, the current one feeling far too raw.

“I’m not disillusioned as to what you do at parties Fatin. The mothers talk. Word travels.” 

Fatin swallowed, arms crossing her chest. The mothers talk. She cringed internally about the details that may have been exchanged.

“I think I’m far less concerned about Leah than I was with that.” She finished, not meeting Fatin’s eyes. “Just take care of her,” Rana warned. “Women deserve flowers, nice dates, jewellery.” 

“I don’t think expensive jewellery is like, really her thing.” Her thoughts coursed back over Leah paying no attention to Fatin's dad's mortgage payment of a watch on the island, appraising it like you would a calculator; something simply there to serve a purpose.

“Then you figure out what is. Women are not men, Fatin. They have standards.”

Fatin bit back a laugh at her mother’s words. Men had standards, but Fatin quickly realised that for most of them it was see-through lingerie and not having to buy their own condoms. Perhaps reverse cowgirl if she was totally feeling generous.

“I will take care of her, obvi. I promise to buy her books and all that dorky shit.” 

“And make sure she takes care of you.”  

“She does.” Fatin sighed. “I’m gonna go before this conversation gets any more uncomfortable." 

“Goodnight.” Her mum kissed her forehead. 

 

 

“Hey.” Fatin sucked in her lip as Leah stepped into her room, hair wet. Her eyes appraised her legs with a suddenly dry throat. 

“Your shower is insane,” Leah mumbled. “Seriously, what the fuck?” 

“Yeah, now you see why I fell so greatly on that island.” Fuck, those eyes. Sometimes she forgot just how intense they were, her breath catching whenever pinned by the oasis of blue.

“It’s a waterfall shower, Fatin. A waterfall. Mine doesn't even keep consistent heat.” 

Fatin knew that well. She had fallen victim to the ice-cold stream when Leah's dad turned their tap on downstairs, her screech of surprise earning a yell of 'Sorry!' from Kurt up the stairs.

“I know. You should see the steam room.” 

“You’re kidding?” 

“No.” Fatin shook her head, pulling Leah on her lap. “We might have to do this more often; it turns out I’m totally shit with sleeping on my own nowadays.” 

“I don’t think it’s just us. Shelby said her and Dot took a power nap on the couch together. Rachel and Nora are temporarily sharing a room; pushed Nora’s bed into there and put it on the opposite side. I think… we’ll get better with time. But also, I’m in no rush to put any distance between us.” 

“Yeah, until then, come cuddle bitch.” Fatin rolled and pulled her closer, burying her face into Leah’s neck. 

“You’re so needy.” 

“Tell anyone and die.” She grabbed Leah’s arm; pulling it around herself and moving so that Leah was spooning her. God, she loved this.

Lips slipped down towards her neck, kissing her gently, teeth gently prying and pulling until Fatin rolled against her thigh for comfort. "You smell good." Leah hummed as a hand crept around her front. “I think I still owe you from yesterday,” Leah spoke in her ear, sending a shiver down her spine, but then the hand paused. “Or uh, would you rather not... you know… here?” 

The rapid progression of sexy to panicked was so fucking Leah. “Leah, babe, please stop overthinking and just give me that orgasm.” 

“Oh, okay, yeah.” 

She could feel Leah smiling behind her, mouth against the back of her shoulder. God that girl would be the death of her. 

 


 


They fell into a routine of sleeping at one or the other's houses, together, every other day. Whilst they grew to like some space that space never consisted of more than twelve hours before they were grasping for their phones in need of company and one another’s presence. 

Leah found herself at Fatin’s more often than hers, simply because the two of them often helped with Fatin’s brothers; since Fatin’s dad was currently not in the picture. It made Fatin feel a sense of wholeness; watching Leah help pack lunches or ruffling her brother’s hair as she helped wash their football kits. 

“You know you’re cute as shit with them.” Fatin smiled up from her coffee.

“Shut up.” Leah grinned back. 

 


 

Then, all of a sudden dawned the day when they were set to return to school. An unsettling pulse remained in the air as Leah slung her bag into Fatin’s sports car.

“I feel like we’re Goodie Proctor being sentenced to burning at the stake or some shit.” 

“Am I supposed to get that reference?” Fatin spoke as she turned on the engine. 

“The Crucible? Arthur Miller? We literally all studied it years ago.” 

“Huh.” Fatin nodded. “Rings a bell, I guess. Was that the one with the total whore who wanted to fuck the bitches husband?” 

Leah rose a hand to pinch her brow. She couldn’t even say that wasn’t an accurate synopsis because truly, it was. Just Fatin-ised. 

“Yeah, babe.” Leah’s thoughts drifted the closer they got, her leg bouncing as she chewed on her nails. It’s something Fatin missed until they parked, her attention previously focused on the road after Leah had complained the past week that her driving was atrocious. (It was, Fatin had only got her licence because her father had connections. She looked at speed limits as more of a suggestion, and at pedestrians as she did the shells in MarioKart.)

“Are you okay?” 

“Fine. Let’s just… Let’s go before I change my mind.” 

Leah was out of the car before she could suggest that waiting a moment may be an idea. The school had already said they would be understanding if they didn’t show on time or if they had to dip in and out of lessons. She knew Leah. Fatin was scared herself, but Leah? Leah was used to blending in, avoiding popularity at all costs.

She followed quickly after, slamming the door behind her as she walked to Leah who was standing by the boot with a bag slung over her shoulder, a hand picking her brow as a crowd of one hundred students stared at them, whispering loud enough that they could hear most of what was being said. 

“Fuck do you think Fatin would take my number?” 

“Do you think they had food there?” 

“Was it like love island? Or more Bear Grylls shit?” 

“Wait is that other one Leah?” 

“Who is Leah?” 

“Leah Rilke, the other one that goes here that was on the island.” 


Fatin turned, looking at Leah who appeared to be ready to burst into tears at any given moment. 

“Breathe,” Fatin suggested. “We can get back in the car, it’s fine. Wait until everyone’s inside?” 

“I’m fine.” Leah was chewing her lip, breathing hard and quite clearly; not fucking fine. 

“Okay,” Fatin tried. 

“Wait is she the one that got hit by a car?” 

“Who got hit by a car?” 

“Leah, the other girl there.” 

“Oh shit, she got hit by a car? On the island?” 

“There were obvi no cars on the fucking island you absolute dip shit!” Fatin yelled into the crowd. 

“Fatin,” Leah’s voice broke. A hand reaching for her and trembling in its grip. 

“Hey, look at me.” Fatin turned her chin, looking into glossy orbs. “You’re okay.” 

“They keep talking about the island,” Leah whispered with a pained expression. 

And Fatin knew they both assumed this would be all anyone was talking about. Their school thrived on a steady thrum of gossip that pulsed through the halls like lifeblood, and people getting stranded on the island in an experiment? That was quite the scoop. Whilst the press had little details, enough had been leaked by someone -Fatin was sure it was one of the guys- that their life upon return was clearly going to be hell. But this? This was intense for even Fatin, which meant Leah was about two seconds away from drowning. 

“Want to give them something less traumatic to gossip about?” 

“What?” 

“You know, Fatin Jadmani getting tied down is like, newsworthy shit babe,” Fatin spoke against her ear, voice low so that no one else would hear. 

“Oh.” Leah seemed to ponder the idea, focus flicking rapidly to the crowd and then back to her girlfriend over and over again. “Yeah, okay.” 

Fatin nodded, put a hand on Leah’s waist and pushed her against the boot, making a show of kissing her neck. “They still looking?”

Leah nodded against her and so she pulled back slightly, raising her head until her lips met Rilke’s. 

It had a way of calming them both instantly, albeit even for a moment. Leah’s hand pushed into her hair, the other tugging at Fatin’s belt loop until they were as close as could be. 

Fatin will admit she perhaps got a little carried away. Whilst she knew there was a crowd Fatin was used to PDA. It was truly her thing, so she didn’t think twice before slipping her tongue into Leah’s mouth, a hand slipping into her back pocket; much to the crowd’s delight. She was vaguely aware of the twinkle of flashes in her peripheral from phone cameras digesting their moment.

Gently, her girlfriend pushed her back, eyes dark and now more focussed. Her hand no longer trembling. “Tongue? Really?” Leah rose a brow.

“Guilty.” Fatin grinned, tugging on Leah’s arm. “Move out the fucking way people, I need to get my girlfriend to class.” 

“Holy shit Fatin Jadmani is dating someone?” 

“Wait since when is Fatin gay?” 

“Do you think they’re looking for a third?” 

“See,” Fatin wiggled her brows. “Worked a charm. It's like when the Kardashians date randomly obscure people to throw us off their problematic stories."

Leah smiled, scoffing as she shook her head. “I can’t believe they care more about that than the fucking island.” 

“But Leah.” She put her hand on her chest, mimicking shock. “Fatin Jadmani is actually dating someone, don’t you know.” 

“Shut the fuck up.” The corner of her mouth tugged up though, and Fatin felt herself easing as Leah was pulled back from the land of overthinking. 

"Make me."

Chapter Text

Fatin POV

 

The main problem arose with the fact they didn’t share classes. The school had worked around this to the best of their ability; Leah and Fatin now shared Science and Maths classes. However, because of their different subject choices and Fatin’s rehearsal slots, these were the only classes they could pair them in; meaning the two still spent most of their time separated. 


The first day went by without much hassle initially. Though students were loud Fatin was used to blocking out the shit talk; especially after her father’s dick pic circulated. At least after this, she wasn’t having to listen to other students discussing ‘length’ and ‘hotness scales.’ (Fatin barely survived one student saying her dad was ‘bangable.’)


She sat in class twirling her pen around as the teacher spoke; having little to no idea what the fuck he was talking about. Then again, the teachers didn’t seem to care, having only given them catch-up packs for most of their missed work today. 

“You know, half the school thinks it was some reality program,” Colby spoke, grinning at her. 

“Mm, the reality of it was a lack of hygiene and like… imminent death.” Fatin grinned back. 

“Sexy.” He joked. “I’m having a party next week if you want to come. Anyone who talks shit about you will be asked to leave. I like to keep my party’s drama free as you know; especially since Kirsty Wood’s boyfriend caught her cheating and smashed my father's beloved paperweight collection.” 

Fatin was thankful that at least one person at this school had the decency to not treat her differently. Colby had spent half the lesson updating her on his parent’s ski trip and gossiping about relationship drama she had missed out on. It was odd to think everyone else's lives remained unchanged considering hers had altered so greatly in mere months.

“I might.” 

“Might? Since when does thee Fatin Jadmani refuse a party invite?” 

“Since she has bigger fish to fry. Like I don’t know, catching up on my moisturizing routine so I don’t look fifty before I’m twenty-five. We all watched the fall of Madonna, her face screams forty but that neck tells a whole other tale bitch.” 

“Good point. You’re looking a little worse for wear. Like Kevin after his mother made him go to scout camp for that week. All you need is some rope and a fishing knife.” 

“Oh, fuck off.” Fatin shook her head but the corner of her mouth still tugged upward. “I may come, I just, I don’t know.” 

“No pressure, but if you do; feel free to bring your lady.” 

“That sounds so fucking gay.” Then again, dating Leah was kind of totally fucking gay. She was still wrapping her head around the whole girl dating another girl part. It was something she only noted in the peripheral. Fatin just fell in love with some English literature nerd -now her best friend- who happened to also be a girl. What was truly more shocking to her was that she was dating anyone at all; and that someone was a total dork.

“Fatin Jadmani?” A teacher appeared at the door, slightly out of breath. 

“Yeah?” 

“If you could grab your things, you’re needed.”

Fatin rolled her eyes, shoving everything into her bag. “Guess the counsellor is ready to sink their teeth in.” 

“Give them hell!” Colby yelled. 

“I thought I said I didn’t want to see the counsellor?” Fatin groaned, following down the hall behind the teacher walking slightly too fast for her limbs to keep up with. 

“Oh no, Leah Rilke is having an issue, we tried to talk to her, but she asked for you.” 

Fatin’s stomach dropped, gut twisting as she walked into the English class. 

She scoured it, gaze quickly landing on Leah who was on the floor, knees pulled into her chest as she rocked. 

“Lee,” Fatin sat down beside her, ignoring the rest of the class who were staring, faces gaunt like they didn’t want to freak her out further. It must have been worrying if no one was standing there taking the piss.

“She’s out there Fatin… She’s still out there.” 

“Lee, honey.” Fatin brushed her thumb gently over her cheek. She hated this, the fact that even now they were going to have to deal with Gretchen. The fact that they still weren’t completely safe even if they tried to let themselves believe such fantasies. She was out there and Fatin couldn’t deny that. “I’m here. You’re okay.” 

“You weren’t here. I thought,” 

“I was in class. I’m okay. Colby was talking my ear off about the fact Adam Bartlett is dating Karis from like years below us, and honesty it’s giving cradle snatcher. Can you believe it? Ugh.” Distraction. Distraction was always key with Leah; change the track her mind was on before she spiralled too deeply. 

“What if she’s here?” 

“Look at me,” Fatin brushed her hair behind her ear and out of the way of her tear-stained cheeks. “We’re okay. But maybe we should get you home? There’s only one period after this and I’m like tired as shit anyway. We can watch that new Rebel Wilson film?” 

“Fatin,” 

“I’ll make us popcorn and we can get into bed and just chill out. Toni only made it halfway through one lesson so I feel like we’ve done our part today plus more.” Leah chewed her lip, head leaning into Fatin’s chest as her breathing calmed slightly. “Come on, let’s get you home.” 

“Yeah. Yeah… Okay.” Leah replied but distantly, mind still elsewhere though her panic had mellowed to a light simmer. 

She stood, packing all of Leah’s stuff in her bag for her, brain too muddled to take any joy in the fact Leah's erasers were shaped like frogs. “Does she have anything else?” 

The teacher bobbed his head, reaching to hand Fatin a pack of notes and two books. “There’s no rush. Leah has my email if she needs extra notes.” 

Fatin nodded. “Thank you for getting me.” 

“We did try another teacher first -Miss Carson- but Leah got rather angry with her. Something about her being ‘in on it.'” 

“Next time just get me,” Fatin replied. 

“I’ll add it to her notes.” 

“Hey,” She offered Leah her hand, pulling her up as Leah gripped onto her waist for dear life. “Come on, let’s go.” 

 


 

They drove back in stark silence, Leah staring out the window as her body trembled. 

 

“You're back?” Maryann’s head shot up as the door opened. 

“Yeah, think we’re just gonna watch a movie for a bit,” Fatin replied, seeing the worry written across her face.

“Are you girls okay?” 

“First day back is always mental.” Fatin smiled. “We’ll be okay.” 

Maryann smiled weakly as Fatin trailed Leah up the stairs and into her room. 

“Lift your arms for me, babe.” Fatin guided her again, pulling off her vest and tugging Leah’s comfort shirt over her head. “Okay, jeans too. Lift those spider monkey limbs for me.” 

It wasn’t sexual. It was purely caring, deep-rooted in their time spent together on the island. Fatin dressed Leah, removed her makeup, brushed her hair, and then helped her into bed where she pulled the covers over them. Quickly she pulled a funny movie up on her laptop, tugging the girl into her side.

“I’m sorry.” Leah finally spoke; voice raw from crying earlier. 

“You never need to apologise for that. I -more than anyone- get it. You are not the problem, how you feel isn’t either. It’s rational, it’s expected, and I love you.” 

Leah dipped her face against Fatin’s neck, a breath shuddering through her. 

“Do you think it will get easier?” 

“Straight away? No. But with time, yes. Your teacher has put me down to be contacted first if that ever happens to you again, and I’ll ask them to put you down for me too. It’ll be rough but we’ll get there.” 

“Everyone was staring at me like I’m some freak.” 

“Oh, but you are a freak baby.” Fatin grinned. “Who reads classics for fun? Boring white men? Yeesh.” 

“Shut up.” But Leah smiled, only just, and it made Fatin’s heart swell. 

“Leah, everyone will be staring at us, but everything gets old eventually. Everything. Something will happen and sure there will still be people talking, but it will be rare. As for the panic attacks, I think people would find it weirder if we returned without like, total mental anguish.”

“Did you just say anguish?” 

“I know words you asshole.” 

“Obvi.” Leah mocked lightly. 

“Let’s just watch a film. We’ll take tomorrow as it comes. If we don’t go in, we don’t go in. There are more days and we’ll get there. Together.” 

“I don’t want to hold you back.” 

She barked out a laugh at the suggestion. “I didn’t listen to a single word any teacher said today because I was too busy being pissed at what everyone around me was saying. You weren’t alone in being, like, totally overloaded by that shit. I think the Met Gala is more lowkey.” 

“But you were handling it.” 

“As were you. One of us was bound to break at some point today. You just beat me to it, maybe I’ll beat you to it next time. We can keep a tally, make a competition out of it.” 

“That feels worse than The Hunger Games.” 

She leaned down, lips pressing to Leah’s temple. “I love you. No matter what I’m here every fucking step of the way. I’ll be like the minions to your Gru.” 

“Same.” Leah hummed, though Fatin could tell she was struggling; new emotions arising now that they were facing masses of peers ready to bring up their trauma at every turn of a hall. 

Fatin was worried for herself but mostly Leah. All she could hope was that things passed quickly. Then again, if this case became more detailed to the public eye, they would be dealing with this for a while yet. It had the ability to consume their lives in a way none of them were prepared for.

She had unlocked her phone that evening, left her social media as it was but opened a new account on each platform. A private one under a covert name that she re-added the girls on, wanting to keep any privacy she had now to herself. It wasn’t like before. Fatin didn’t crave fame or everyone knowing who she was. Because now that they were back; she realised that trauma is never something someone wants to be known for. It’s something they would have to shield themselves from for a long while yet. A reprieve was now all she needed, a safe shadow for them to bask in.

 



When Leah awoke the next morning they decided against going into school again for the day. Fatin went in later that afternoon to grab notes and then dashed home to get her cello to bring over to her girlfriend’s. The need to be close again was so immense that Leah decided she would head with her so that they didn’t have to part, curling into Fatin’s side as they walked through the school halls once more.

 



It was that evening that she sat with a cello between her legs, cursing again as she missed a progression for the twentieth time. “Shit.” 

“I don’t know, it sounded kind of beautiful.” Leah peered at her from over the top of her book, a pair of glasses resting loosely on her nose that Fatin wasn’t even sure she needed. 

“I can’t get it right. This is basic stuff. A year ago, I could have played this in my damn sleep.” 

“A year ago, we weren’t dealing with everything. It sounded beautiful, play it again.” 

“Lee,” 

“Play it again.” 

Fatin’s hands moved across the strings, working her way through the first part with ease. As she continued, she missed one note, cursing again as she played through it. 

From the bed Leah rose, walking over until she was standing behind Fatin, hands firmly resting on her shoulders. “Keep playing.” 

So, she did. Muttered a ‘fuck’ when her fingers still wouldn’t comply with the sheet music before her. 

“Breathe.” The word sent a shiver through her spine as Leah’s lips met her shoulder, kissing her slowly, nipping at her flesh until she was shuddering again. “Keep playing.” 

Fatin groaned but let her fingers move across the strings, starting again from the beginning of the piece. This time her mind calmed as Leah continued to kiss her neck, her ear, her cheek. Fingers drifted across the strings with ease now that she wasn’t focussing on the annoyance or thoughts. Instead, she flowed through the piece as Leah grinned against her, turning her head to meet her mouth when she finished. 

Lips were pliant against her own, Leah gently moving the cello to stand somewhere else before returning and straddling her lap. “So beautiful.” Leah hummed, lips melding as she tangled a hand in Fatin’s hair. “Do you realise how hot it is watching you play?” 

And oh, oh. Maybe Fatin could learn to appreciate her talent more if it had this effect on Leah. 

“Oh yeah?” 

“Yeah, your hands are truly gifted.” Leah’s hips pressed to meet her own. 

“Bed?” Fatin added breathlessly. 

“No, here’s good.” Leah grinned. “Just pretend I’m that cello Jadmani.” 

Holy fucking shit this girl would end her. 

Chapter Text

Leah POV


Unbeknownst to them both, the next day would be the worst since leaving the island. 

 

Fatin awoke, arms wrapped around Leah’s midsection as Maryann pounded on the door. 

“It’s not even seven.” Leah groaned. 

Whilst they intended on going into school today, the plan was to skip half of the first lesson so that they wouldn’t have to deal with any crowds. 

“Leah, I’m coming in.” 

She tried not to laugh; ever since her mother had seen Fatin’s hand groping her boob mid-sleep she hadn’t quite recovered. Whilst her dad was more open with joking about these things with Leah, her mother struggled with even watching them kiss. Not out of homophobia, but more so because her mother got flustered when people even made sex jokes on television. Maryann wasn't exactly a prude, more so your typically reserved wife who believed certain things should be kept private.

Leah’s sex ed had been a horrific, whopping three minutes of her mother handing her a book and saying, “Sometimes when you get older things change. Body things, and uh, hormone things.” When Leah had come out as bisexual her mother had again, provided her with printouts from google pages about same-sex education which -much to both their mutual humiliation- turned out to be aimed at gay men. Though Leah still read the entire page solely dedicated to reasons for and against taking Prep out of curiosity. 

“Why are you waking us up so early?” Leah groaned. 

“The FBI has sent some people and they need to talk to you both.” 

“What?” 

“A young boy, Joshua, from the island has gone missing.”

“Josh?” Fatin spoke. “Where the fuck is he?” She paused. “Sorry, I mean, where the heck.” 

“Fatin, honey, I’ve had Leah’s fathers cursing for two decades believe me I’m not bothered by you swearing when a young man is missing. It’s understandable.” 

“Did they say anything else?” 

“Just…” Maryann smiled weakly. “Get dressed, they’re already downstairs.” 

 


 

“Miss Rilke. Miss Jadmani.” The two agents stood as they entered the living room, a folder under one of their arms. “We have a few questions.” 

“Let’s cut to the shit boys.” Fatin smiled falsely. “What the hell is going on with Josh?” 

The agent swallowed nervously, and Leah couldn’t help but be proud of her girlfriend. Hell, even her dad earned a smack from her mum from laughing -not so subtly- at Fatin’s ability to cut to the chase. 

“Josh was last seen yesterday at twelve. He went for lunch, opting to visit a food truck as he wasn’t keen on the food being served in the cafeteria that day. Apparently, he often goes to that particular food truck. He went alone but never made it back from the truck; though the worker who owns it confirmed that he did purchase two tacos. The same ones he always buys.” 

Josh was a guy of routine. Leah had noted it on the island; the guys had taken all the sour patch kids from the vending machine and when Toni had yelled at them, Kirin had explained they were for Josh, and that he didn’t really like much else in the machine. The boy ate less after the event and Ivan was worried about him losing weight, and as such, the girls had forgone almost every pack of Sour Patch Kids. 

It wasn’t just that. Leah got on with him because like her he was logical. They shared theories on Bo as Josh helped count inventory one afternoon. 

Leah also knew enough from what he said to know he feared Seth far more than the others, and eventually, she had found out why. Kirin had cornered her, enraged at one point when she hinted at ‘understanding’ why Josh needed space, telling her she wasn’t to say a word. The girls had agreed; they would never reveal what he went through; that was up to Josh. But they had agreed that they could mention a conflict, as would be apparent. 

“He hasn’t gone home?” 

“No.” 

“Perhaps he’s run away?” Maryann spoke. 

“Josh wouldn’t do that.” Fatin disagreed. “He needs his family, or at least his friends. If he has run away, it would have only been with another guy from the island and I’m guessing you’ve already accounted for them?” 

“Everyone but Joshua has been accounted for.” 

“Have there been any sightings of Seth of Raf?” Leah asked. 

“No Mam, why do you ask?” 

“Seth hated Josh. They had issues; conflict, as you know. From what I hear he holds grudges, has a short temper, and takes it out on those he fixates on.” 

“Seth and Rafael have no means of entering the country.” 

“You’re telling me that Gretchen implemented evacuation plans for every single person on that island apart from the person with the most intel on her and her failures?” 

“It’s unlikely that,” 

“It’s unlikely but it’s entirely possible,” She cut in. “Gretchen has connections. Private jets. Hell, she could even be one of you.” 

“Miss Rilke you cannot,” 

“Tell me she isn’t a cop.” 

The two men folded their arms, sharing a look that told her everything she needed to know. One that said Leah was right about yet another thing.

Leah scoffed, whilst Fatin whistled. “Well, shit boys.” 

“She has the means. If she isn’t aware of the murder of Bo... Why wouldn’t she act to protect her asset? Move him to somewhere safe.” 

“I doubt Klein would move an asset back into the country. It’s a bold move even for her.” 

“But if she did, somewhere remote, that asset couldn’t be trusted. Seth would have his own plans to ‘right’ his wrongs. He has errors to make up for and he’d do anything to please Gretchen. Getting rid of Josh does exactly that. Gretchen may not know that, after all, she was relying on Seth for intel, and Bo -her other intel means- was killed, which means why not hide an asset in plain sight.” 

“Seth Novak has no way of possibly knowing…” 

“But Raf does. They go to the same school so he may even know his lunchtime routine.” 

“You’re insinuating that Rafael Garcia is working with Seth Novak?” One opened his pad, writing quickly.

“I’m insinuating that Seth has power over people, or he causes fear in them. Either way, it wouldn’t be hard for him to get information from the guy. Raf is quiet, and timid. Follows whoever is nearest. Also, you don't know which of Gretchen's confidential files Seth had or has access to. He was an operative, chances are he has.” 

The agent nodded, already pulling his phone to his ear as the other agent sat. 

“We’ve been assigned to you, one agent to each island member just until we’re sure you’re safe. At night two armed agents will be watching each of your houses also. We won’t let this happen to any of you.” 

“Too bad it already has,” Fatin joked bleakly, hand lacing through Leah’s.

“Do you know of anywhere Seth would go?” 

“No, but Henry might.” 

 


 

“How safe are we?” Rachel spoke as the skype screen briefly froze, everyone staring back at them from the laptop. “I mean, Seth’s already got Josh. Why would he even want him? Why not just kill him there?” 

“He’s tying up loose ends, but he’s probably still gathering ‘intel’ to win Gretchen over with.” Nora clarified. “The team was trying to find out what he had done on the island before I left. The audio had been ravaged, and then it turned out the wires had been cut. Only two people on the island at that time knew how to do so. Bo, and Seth. Bo had no reason to, so it was obviously him and it matched his history. Gretchen was pissed and Seth apparently had severe issues. His case file said he stalked his ex, assaulted her, and stole her pet. I wouldn’t put it past him to,” 

“Remove Josh to protect the project’s conditions. Something like that could ruin Gretchen’s plans depending on what she was aiming at.” Leah finished. 

“Seth had a history of violence assumed to stem from an absent parental figure. It was on his case notes. But if he’s kidnapped Josh maybe Raf is influencing him not to kill him?” Nora shifted in her seat, flicking through some notes before handing them to her sister.

Leah frowned. “Would Seth’s case be public?” 

“Probably, unless his identity was sealed. It would depend on how old he was, how under wraps it was kept and how good a lawyer he had. Assualt and stalking charges also vary greatly by state.” Nora chewed on her sleeve nervously. 

“We are so fucked.” Dot groaned from where she sat beside Shelby.

“Dottie don’t be so morbid. At least now we have food and a dang roof.” 

“And a possible serial killer. We’ve gone from Lord of the Flies to Scream.” Toni laughed. 

“Not funny.” Rachel scorned. “Accurate, but not funny. Plus I only have one hand, how the hell am I supposed to fight the shit off?”

"Maybe a roundhouse kick to the dick?" Toni grinned back. 

"Or a hook for a prosthetic," Nora noted. "I read a Peter Pan reimagining where Hook used it as a murder weapon. It seemed highly efficient."

Leah was already googling, looking for any of Seth’s pages that remained. “Can someone text Henry and ask him about the ex’s name or any other pages he has like finstas? I’m not finding anything under Seth Novak. It’s like he doesn’t fucking exist.” 

After a minute Toni spoke, relaying her name so that Leah could search for her. 

“Anything?” 

“No.” Leah bit out in annoyance. “Social media, some page that’s stupidly popular but is literally just images of spilled food. His ex has more… pictures of her cat, her birthdays…” There was an abundance of selfies, none with Seth in the frame. In fact, he never appeared on her page once, aside from in the background of some random group photo.

“What about this?” Fatin turned her phone to face her. 

“What the fuck?” Leah had pinched the phone off her, eyes glued to the screen. 

“What?” Everyone asked, mumbling amongst themselves as Leah and Fatin simply stared at the screen, digesting the image before them as Leah's heart pounded heavily in her chest.

Leah forwarded the photo to the group, everyone falling silent as they stared at their phones. “Who the fuck is that?” 

“Seth’s ex, Julia. The one he went full Michael Myers on.” Fatin ground out. 

There on the screen was a photo that most wouldn’t look twice at. One from a Police Protection community exhibit. 

Sure enough, there stood a girl pictured in a group photo; Seth’s ex, Julia. Alongside the group of high school girls stood three officers. And there, just off to the left, was one oddly familiar face. 

Faber.

“Is anyone totally freaking out right now? We all recognise him, right?” Shelby’s voice was so high that dogs were probably howling nearby. 

“No,” Leah spoke. “This… This is good.” 

“Maybe.” Dot worried her lip. “Do we tell them?” 

“It’s not like we have the power to get Josh back ourselves, we don’t have a choice.” Leah wished they did, but this was water so deep none of them could swim in it. Trusting the police was never an option but needing the police was an unfortunate reality. 

“Can we trust them? The cops?” 

“No, but we don’t have a choice. Everyone print out this photo and stash it somewhere just in case.” Leah pulled the photo up, copying it onto a USB she kept hidden under the sole of her shoe.

Seth’s history had likely been wiped, there was a good chance Faber would disappear entirely too.

“Whose calling them?” 

“I’ll do it,” Fatin announced, pulling out her phone. 

 



The coming hours passed slowly. 

Fatin stood, stress baking with Maryanne which scared the shit out of Leah. Her girlfriend never stepped foot in a damn kitchen and there she was with a stray bit of cookie batter on her cheek, looking like the perfect fucking housewife

“You good?” Leah asked. 

“Your mum is teaching me how to make cookies; apparently you’re not meant to roll them out before putting them in the oven.” 

Leah’s brow rose. How could Fatin not know that? It was baking 101. 

“Yeah, or else they blend together into a cookie slab.” 

“That’s what your mum said.” 

“You have dough on your face, babe.” 

“Sexy. Maybe I was saving it for later?” Fatin wiggled her brows, Leah laughing as she wiped it off with her thumb and then put it in her mouth. 

“Mm, not bad.” Leah frowned as Fatin went to wash up. “Should I be worried? You said you can’t do the dishes, something about it fucking up your acrylics?” 

“I need a distraction. I feel like the past five hours have dragged like a bitch.” 

“Okay, want to watch a film?” 

“I kind of can’t sit still, obvi,” Fatin admitted. “This is helping. For now.” 

Leah could tell she was worried; none of them even knew if Josh was alive, and the FBI had been silent since receiving the Faber intel. Fatin didn’t do anxious like Leah did. Leah for one shut down, whilst Fatin seemed to speed up. 

It was similar on the island; when Leah had gunned for Fatin, she had found the waterfall that night. When Fatin was faced with Leah’s, Virginia Woolf attempt she had spent the following days doing everyone’s laundry before they even got a chance to. 

And now, she was flitting around her kitchen like some haywire Martha Stewart. 

“Want me to show you how to make lasagne? We could do with some actual food rather than just sugar.” 

“Yeah. Yes, that would be good.” Fatin smiled, breathing a sigh of relief. 

“Okay, we need to soak the pasta sheets.” 

 



By Saturday they had exhausted Leah’s cupboard of food; each of her neighbors being brought baked goods by Maryann that the girls had made as a distraction. Neither Kurt nor Maryann had it in them to tell them to stop and Rana eventually dropped by additional groceries.

 


“We have secured Joshua.” An agent announced. 

“Is he okay?” 

“He’s shaken, but we have apprehended the two responsible.”

“You have Raf and Seth?” Leah questioned, voice raising in hope.

“We do. They are being brought in as we speak.” 

Leah felt her chest clench. They were safer. Not safe but safer, and right now that was really all she could ask for. She feared Seth at every turn. Sure, Gretchen was unhinged but had she wanted them dead surely she would have done so on the second island. 

It was one reason why Leah felt like she was still being watched. All of that had to be for a reason: causation, analysis, hypothesis... They meant fuck all unless you analysed the effect they had after. Which meant; they were still a part of Gretchen’s shit show. Somehow, some way, they were still being watched. So, Leah made an effort of locking her bedroom door whenever she and Fatin went out, left her laptop camera on, watching to see if anyone entered. 

She didn’t trust a single one of those agents. 

“Where did you find him?” 

“Can we tell her that?” One agent queried. 

“He was found at a smaller property owned by Faber. Looks like he was still using Gretchen’s connections and their property.” He paused. “We’re searching for Faber now, but it appears he’s vanished.” 

Gretchen. 

Leah wasn’t sure why, but the two men that had interviewed her stuck out more than the other operatives. 

They spoke like they had a history. A rapport. 

It was clear Faber was a cop. And so was Gretchen.

Which bore the question; what really was this experiment? And what was its purpose?

And who the fuck was still watching them?

Chapter Text

Shelby POV

 

Shelby clenched the strap of her bag as she stared at the school’s front entrance. 

The past few days had been a mess. Her father was brought in for questioning; Fatin emailed her a whole host of information without the other girl’s knowledge; knowing that Shelby most likely wanted to keep the Beca memories under wraps. Then moving in with Dottie. 

Yesterday Dot had helped carry her boxes out of her room, without any help from Jobeth. 


“Will you be back soon?” Her brother asked. 

“I’ll visit you whenever possible. I’m not that far away.” She sucked in her lip, willing herself not to cry. Not now; in front of them.

“You’ll have to clear it with your daddy first,” Jobeth demanded. 

“You think daddy would ever say yes?” Shelby asked with bite. He wouldn’t, the man would build a wall around the premises if it meant keeping Shelby out. After her father had been brought in for the first, much shorter round of questions, Shelby had come out to him. 

It was a heat-of-the-moment thing after reading the email Fatin sent. Realising that the man was lying to them all, ready to risk her life at a chance of seeming a more holy man. 

“I’m gay.” She spat. 

“I’ll talk to Adam.” Shelby’s dad was facing her mother, acting as if Shelby wasn’t even at the kitchen table. “He can fix her. This. We won’t let our daughter sway out of the image of The Lord. She will not be tempted by The Devil.” 

“The Devil,” Shelby enounced the words carefully. “Is you.” 

She wasn’t sure where the confidence came from, but her mother’s face fell, and regret instantly rose, turning to bile in her throat. 

“That’s enough young lady. You will see Adam; he can take you to the camp down west.” 

Shelby laughed, a small laugh that quickly turned manic; almost reminiscent of Leah upon seeing that pinata. “I’m done with this.” She put down her cutlery, pushing her chair out with a screech. 

“The islands probably made her all sorts of crazy. Don’t you worry kids. No one is beyond fixing. Adam will get here in the morning, and she can go find the light that she’s devoid of, right? Every soul deserves a chance at savin'.”

“Will she be okay?” Her sister asked. 

“We can pray. Pray that she will find her way back to God.” 

Shelby stilled on the stairs, a shaky hand gripping the rail as she bit back a sob. 

 


After they fell asleep, she packed a bag. Took out a suitcase and shoved as many clothes and personal items as she could in it. Took a page out of Fatin’s book and threw all her valuable jewelry in a sock; it wasn’t worth much but still. It was something. 

She packed her certificates that her mother kept in a fireproof box in their living room, grabbing those last on her way out. Every school report, medical report, and her birth certificate. 

Lastly, she grabbed a couple of photos and drawings from the front of the fridge. 

She would return again when her dad was out and try and grab some more things. 

For now, the one suitcase and a backpack was all she was able to carry quietly out of their house before starting her car and driving away. 

 

 

“Shelby?” Dot groggily opened the door at three in the morning to a tear-stained blonde. 

“Got room for one more?” 

Dot took in the suitcase, then awkwardly wrapped her arms around her, patting her back. “You cool with a small room? It’s not exactly much.” 

“It’s more than enough. Thank you. I’ll uh, I’ll look at job too, pay rent.” 

Dottie ushered her into a small room, hitting a light. “It’s my dad’s old room.” 

“Isn’t this the bigger room?” Shelby peaked in through Dot’s door to a much smaller room. 

“Yeah, but I couldn’t sleep in here… not after...” She swallowed, clearing her throat. “Anyhow, he was all about helping people at the school out and family. Even had one of the football team here at one point when a kid was homeless. He’d be happy it was getting some use.” 

Shelby nodded and settled her bag down. 

“We can move his stuff down to another space tomorrow. I’ve been meaning to since... I just.” 

“I’m not rushing you.” Shelby smiled. “Hell, the sofa would have made me smile.” 

“Like I’d stick you on the sofa when there’s a bed free. We spent far too long on that island without beds to ever waste a perfectly good mattress.” Dot rolled her eyes. “This your stuff?” 

“Some of it. Didn’t want my daddy hearing me pack so I just grabbed what I could.” 

“We can go get the rest when he’s out. You drive here?” 

“Yeah, I’ve got my car.” 

“Awesome. Well don’t worry about it too much, we can probably sneak in tomorrow or the day after. Just get what you missed.” 

“Perhaps not the pageant trophies though.” 

“Oh no.” Dot grinned, arms folded as she leaned against the doorframe. “I want one of those for the living room, like how rich people have vases on display. Fancy as shit.” 

Shelby laughed until she began to cry. 

“Oh shit, my bad.” 

“No, I’m good. Just been a night. Well, year if I’m being honest.” 

“Same.” Dot hummed. “Sleep, I’ll uh, see you at a normal time in the morning. Am I fuck getting up early on our last day before heading back.” 

 


So they had returned the next day, during Shelby’s dad’s cycle class time, to a house void of him. 

“Shelby?” Her mother tearfully looked down at her as she opened the door. 

“Just here to grab my stuff then I’ll be out of your way.” 

“Your daddy said you're to leave it here.” 

“No offense Miss Goodkind, but your husband sounds like an ass. We’ll be quick.” Dot smiled politely as if she hadn’t just called Shelby’s daddy an ass, and proceeded to make her way into the house like she was there to repossess furniture for a bonds company. 

“Is that Dorothy?” 

“Yes.” 

“How is she since her daddy’s passing?” 

Shelby laughed, shutting the door behind her without an answer as she headed up the stairs. 

Her mother had really thought after this she was here for small talk. 

 



So now she stood, looking at the entrance to the school. 

“Do we think Andrew's been fuckin' Christa Finlay?” 

Shelby let out a laugh until she stilled. Oh gosh. Andrew. 

“You forgot you had a boyfriend, didn’t you?” 

“A bit,” Shelby admitted, gulping. She had changed her phone over upon arriving back, not wanting to hear from anyone apart from the girls.

It turned out Dottie was in her first-period math class. It also turned out that Andrew was too. 

“Hey, baby.” 

“Andrew.” She put her bag down across from the only free seat which was next to him. 

“Want to swap?” Dot spoke from the other table. 

“I’m good.” 

“Why would my girlfriend want to swap.” Andrew laughed, an arm draping across her shoulders that she shrugged off. “Sorry you’re probably still on edge from the island, right?” He spoke as again, he moved his arm to drape across her shoulders. Shelby hadn't said a word to anyone here about the island, so gosh knows what kind of lies and whispers had traveled around the halls since the news broke.

“Please get your arm off me.” 

“What?” 

“You heard the girl.” Dot smiled at him falsely. 

"I'm just consoling my girlfriend who has had a very traumatic time."

“Andrew I can’t do this anymore. It’s over.” Let's be honest, since seeing her lack of hair as she entered the class he had been looking like he'd wanted to end it himself, if it wasn't for the Christian face of 'helping the needy.' 

“Shelby, baby. I get the island was all kinds of stressful,” 

“Stressful? Are you kidding me? That island was hell, Andrew. Hell. But it was still more tolerable than being here with you.” 

“What the heck does that mean?” 

“I’m gay Andrew. I’m gay as heck. And you’re screwing Christa Finlay, so I think it’s clear to see we’re done here. How was the blow job by the way? Or the quickie in the portaloo at the big game before I left?” 

“Shelby Goodkind, would you mind stepping out of the classroom.” The teacher spoke, and Shelby turned to a class, all of whose eyes were on her, mouths ajar as they processed what she’d just said. 

“We’re good.” Dot spoke up, grabbing Shelby’s bag for her. “We’re just gonna head home early you know. Island stresses.” 

“Of course.” The teacher grimaced, handing her a pack of assignments and notes. 

“Is that why she cut her hair?” One girl questioned. “Because she’s a lesbian?” 

“Oh yeah.” Another girl agreed. “It’s like Ruby whats her face?” 

“Who?”

“Catwoman.” 

“Ohh.” 

“Is she dating Dot? She’s definitely a lesbian right?” 

“I’m straight, you stereotyping ass hats.” Dot yelled back over her shoulder as they were leaving. “Shit I really need to put like, a badge on these cargo shorts to let them know.” She chuckled. “That was one hell of a way to come out back there.” 

“Oh my word.” Shelby froze in the hall, hand reaching for a locker to stop herself collapsing. “I just came out?” 

“I mean you said ‘I’m gay’ in front of the class, so yeah. I’d say the whole town will know by tonight.” 

“Oh my word.” Shelby swallowed the sickness in her throat. She had come out? Crap. She had simply meant to dump his ass and then the word vomit… It’s like she kept speaking without meaning to, too fuelled by rage.

“Shelby, you good?” 

“Need to puke.” 

Dot grabbed her by her arms, guiding her to the bathroom where he promptly emptied her stomach. 

“Do you want me to call Toni?” 

“No I...” She wiped her mouth, moving to the tap to wash her hands. “I don’t think me aand Toni are really anything.” 

“But you love her?” 

“I do.” 

“And she loves you.” 

“Sure, but it’s not that simple. Me and Toni...” She leaned back on the sink. “We skipped a lot. Kinda went from hating one another to wanting to rip one another's clothes off.” 

Dot laughed. “Shelby Goodkind, who knew you had it in you.” 

“Stop it.” She rolled her eyes. “I just, I feel like we skipped actually getting to know one another. Hell, you know way more about me than Toni.” 

“I’m straight.” Dot grinned. 

“I hate you so much right now.” She laughed. “It’s just that we skipped so much, it was intense and rushed and so much anger. and then so much not conversing in case we pissed one another off and…” She sunk into herself. “We’re building a friendship right now, back to basics right? And I feel like she has a lot going on right now.” 

“She’d want to hear from you.” 

“I don’t want to worry her when she,” 

“Shelby.” Dot frowned at her. “Didn’t you just say your rebuilding your communication? That means times like this, when things that matter happen, you need to communicate. Regardless of worrying about how the other will cope with it. Friends help each other. When we get home; call her.” 

“She could be in class.”

“Check the group chat, Martha said Toni didn’t even last ten minutes before walking out after some boy said some fucked up shit to Martha.” 

“At least she didn’t punch him.” 

“That’s what I said.” 

 



So Shelby did call her, feet tucked up on the mattress as she filled her in on her dad, Andrew coming out. Then she broke down, told Toni about Beca, and was met with a silence of understanding, Toni eventually asking if Shelby wanted to stay with her and Martha which she declined. She was happy here, with Dot, in her hometown. So much had changed in a matter of days that she was now clinging to any constant that remained. 

“I’m sorry. I never thought about what you had been through. I didn’t think...” Toni sucked in a breath. 

“We all have our crap, Toni, it’s fine. Dottie even made me breakfast, which sure, was cheerios but we ate it watching survivor. It was actually really nice.” 

“Is she taking care of you?” 

“Mm, called my daddy an ass in front of my mama.” 

Toni barked out a laugh. “Well shit, you're in good hands then.” 

“Yeah. College isn’t long off anyhow. I need to get a job though, maybe look at scholarships. I have some pageant winnings saved in a bank account I can access; which my parents can’t touch. They will cover some.” 

“Years of crowns paying off huh?” 

“Oh, definitely. Child labor for the win.” 

“Shut the fuck up.” Toni chuckled. “I missed this. Talking to you.” 

Shelby’s breath caught, her hand going to twirl hair that was no longer there. “I miss you too.”

Chapter Text

Fatin POV

 

Leah was spiralling again. 

It started out with small things: Leah wincing or pulling away when she touched her -even a hand on the shoulder- eyes unfocussed as she stared at Fatin like she didn’t even know her. (Though she supposed in those moments, she didn’t.) Restless nights filled with broken screams or the raw voice of Fatin or Maryann attempting to calm Leah from her nightmares. Days of Leah picking her brow, not touching her food and spending far too much time at the drawing board of theories (Fatin had suggested they take it down and Leah had gone off into a screaming match at her.) 

Finding Seth had triggered it; Fatin knew. 

Because Seth had told the FBI they were still being watched and as a result, the cops had placed more guards on them and Leah… Well, Leah had yet another theory confirmed. 

Observation. Questions. Hypothesis for testing. Prediction. Test. Gather Data. Analyse data. Conclusion.

The flow chart was the most recent addition; Leah suggested that they were in the data gathering stage currently; as she explained the islands themselves were the tests, and what came of those tests would be determined now, by the present. Leah once again was correct; so they assumed. 

They were being watched.

“Leah, maybe we should get some food.” Fatin swallowed when dark eyes landed on her own. 

“Get food? Fatin, she’s out there.” 

She hated this; wanted to scream, cry, and throw up. The island had been easier than this somewhat; there they didn’t have access to computers and notes. More things for Leah to obsess over. Fatin knew she was right, but that didn’t make seeing Leah struggle any easier. Now it was gouging out her heart to watch her skip meal after meal, her face growing paler by the day as she failed to sleep. 

And Fatin? 

Fatin was struggling too. 

In essence, she was her girlfriend’s carer; and whilst she loved her that didn’t make the ripple effect hit with any less force. Fatin barely slept. Fatin barely ate. More so than Leah but still she was hit by hunger pains and migraines. All of this only made her more emotional when Leah snapped at her.

It hurt. It was like Gretchen still held Leah’s soul, trapped in a Pandora’s box of theories. Her talons were wedged in Leah’s back puppeteering the girl like fucking Pinocchio even now.

“Babe, please. Just five minutes. We can grab pasta and,” 

“Fatin why don’t you get it? You said you believed me but it’s still like the island. You still don’t get it.” Leah cried, fingers picking at the skin on her lip that trembled. 

Fatin gently brushed her hand away, her own tears falling also. “I believe you. I always believe you. But you need to eat. We’re not achieving anything on an empty stomach.” 

“You go eat. I’m not leaving.” She moved her gaze back to the board. 

“What if I bring you food up? Your favourite? Pizza from Loui’s?” 

“I said I’m not hungry Fatin.” It was delivered with a bite that stabbed her like a knife. 

Her stomach rumbled, pain edging its way in as she sighed. “Okay, I need to go eat.” 

“Whatever.” 

Fatin dropped her head, jogging down the stairs of the Rilke’s house and into their kitchen. 

“Fatin, honey, are you okay?” Maryann was at her side, thumbs brushing away tears as she pulled her in for a hug. It was normal; they had bonded a fair bit over the past months as Leah spiralled more and more. Fatin spending far more time here; too scared for a repeat of pill gate. She had even gone as far as to get Maryann to hide all the medications in the house, any dangerous substances placed in their room and locked up. Leah was far too gone to even note such changes. 

“She’s…” Fatin swallowed. She didn’t want to do this. Had stopped Maryann and Kurt from even trying weeks ago when they brought it up. “She needs help.” Her voice quivered as Kurt pulled her against his chest, a hand brushing through her hair as if she were their daughter too. “I was wrong. She… she needs help.” 

“I’ll call the doctor,” Kurt spoke, releasing her and reaching for his phone. 

“She didn’t hurt herself, did she?” 

“Yes, but not like that. She’s starving herself, unintentionally. And the lack of sleep…” Fatin winced. “She won’t even take her medication anymore.” That was the main issue. Leah had been placed on medication, to help with OCD and suspected PTSD. They were helping until she forgot to take them one day. Days turned into weeks and now Fatin didn’t even bother trying to pass them to her. Knew she’d spit them out or hide them again, thinking Fatin was ‘one of them.’ “I should have, I,” She shuddered as tears wracked through her. “I should have been able to help her this time.” She thought she knew now how; how to be enough for Leah that she wouldn’t need to resort to this. Fatin was meant to protect her and this meant she had failed. Again.

It also meant Leah would likely hate her. 

 



They sectioned Leah that afternoon. 


When people would ask Fatin about it; idiots at school, the girls on group chat who were worried, Dot in a one-to-one conversation when she exited said group… Fatin would zone out. 

The truth of it was it was horrific. 

It was a memory that left her slumped over the toilet at her home; Rana rubbing her back as she threw up the one meal she’d managed to keep down initially.

“How about we get you into bed?” 

Fatin stared up at her ceiling night after night. 

She had no contact with Leah. Her girlfriend. Her best friend. The girl she loves. 

Her soulmate.

All she had was the memory of Leah screaming that she had betrayed her, so piercingly loud that after five minutes she had completely ruined her voice. 

Fatin cried the entire time, slumped against the Rilke’s front door as they took Leah away. 

Kurt called Rana, crying himself, trying to console Fatin repeating over and over that it wasn’t her fault. 

Leah’s nails had left welts in the paint of the staircase walls. 

Glass was smashed across Leah’s bedroom floor. 

 


Fatin was completely fucking numb as she grabbed her bag, and packed it full of Leah’s shirts and hoodies. Leah’s perfume. Her moisturiser. Anything that would smell like Leah and make her feel that bit closer. Anything to help with the pain of knowing she was alone.

 


So now she sat in her bed, absolutely wrecked as she refused to sleep. Head in the toilet for most of the night once again. 

She ignored the calls. Turned off her phone. 

 


 

“Morning kiddo.” Fatin frowned as she walked into her kitchen the next week, still not sleeping, only to be met with the face of Kurt Rilke. 

“Kurt?” 

“Your ma got called in early on a house viewing,” He explained. 

Fatin swallowed. This happened occasionally, though Rana never usually called anyone. She asked Fatin to help for the day, which clearly, she didn’t think she was capable of right now. 

“Don’t jump to conclusions kid.” Kurt pushed a plate in front of her. “Me and Maryann have been struggling too, maybe it’s selfish, but Rana asked and we figured it would be nice to make a day of it. Go to the food court and Build-a-Bear with you and your brothers?” He stilled, chewing his lip just as Leah did when she was anxious. “Leah loves it there. We figured it would help us. Going out somewhere she loves so we could tell her about it when we visit.” 

Fatin hadn’t visited Leah. Couldn’t. 

That fact hurt like a motherfucking bitch. Not because she didn’t want to, but because Leah didn’t want to see her. 

Fatin wasn’t even sure if they were still together as girlfriends. Not now. Even though she couldn’t imagine herself ever not loving Leah. Then again perhaps that was just her mind running wild with worries that were unlikely, worries that only blossomed as they tumbled and grew.

“I’m not feeling great today.” 

“Fatin!” Her brother screamed. “Lee lee’s dad is taking us to build a bear. We’re getting Star Wars bears!” 

Fatin smiled, ruffling his hair. She would do it for them.

“Okay.” Fatin swallowed but pushed the pancakes away. She could not handle this day on a full stomach. “I’m gonna go get dressed then.” 

Kurt frowned at the pancakes but nodded, already helping her brother to the sofa to get his backpack together with snacks for the day. 

 


 

That was how Fatin found herself, hours later, standing in Build-a-Bear with a bunch of screaming kids. It was certainly some circle of hell; one birthday party of tiny nut jobs running a riot as they hit each other over the head with one Pokémon or another.

“Which one are you getting honey?” Maryann asked. 

“I’m eighteen.” Fatin laughed. Her birthday had passed unnotably. Not that she really cared.

“Don’t act like you’re too cool for this. We saw you eyeing up the Banthas.” 

Fatin had in fact been eyeing up a Bantha. He was just the right size for replacing her ‘Leah’ pillow that she gripped at night. Then again, Fatin would never fucking admit to such atrocities. 

“How is she?” 

“Better. A long way to go but she’s back on her medication and eating. Even said she did a craft workshop the other day.” 

“That’s good.” That was good, right?

Kurt nodded, walking over to the stand and pointing at Fatin as he whispered to an employee. 

“I hear you’d like a Bantha!” The teen grinned around bright pink braces, acting way too much like she was five years old herself. 

“You’re an asshole.” She muttered to Kurt who simply laughed and pat her on the back. 

“Yes, she would!” He grinned. 

That fucker was just like his daughter. Annoying as shit but in a caring way that defrosted Fatin’s cold, dead heart.

They made a day of it; Fatin trying to pay when they got to the golf course because it was expensive and Kurt and Maryann weren’t rich as shit. Kurt had refused to let her pay and Fatin eventually gave in, frowning as he handed over his card. 

It was a lot, considering they were treating her two brothers too. 

They had an early dinner at a kid’s restaurant where the waiters were dressed like rip-off marvel characters and her brothers adored it. Her parents rarely did shit like this with them. Fatin took photo after photo, printing them out at a booth in the mall (she would later tuck them into the back pages of her dream journal where they would be safe.) 

She forwarded some to her mum who stated they should do things like that together more often. Rather than visiting bougie restaurants or the opera. (Which her brothers hated with a passion.)

Fatin did sleep that night. 

One of Leah’s shirts had been tugged over the cuddly toy Bantha that sat in her arms, her nose pressing into the back of it, inhaling Leah as if she were there too. 

She wasn’t. 

Wouldn’t be for a while. 

 



Leah was released after one month on a Wednesday. 

The fact she was released so soon should make Fatin happy. Clearly, a little help was all she needed. To be stable on her meds and eating. But then again, she wouldn’t put it past the smart girl to blag her way out as a means of continuing her search for Gretchen. After all, Leah had played Gretchen herself like a god damned fiddle. She made Fatin’s cello playing look subpar in retrospect.

Fatin had built up the courage, psyching herself up for five hours before making it to the Rilke’s door. 

Her hand trembled, lip quivering as she stood there. She had her purse slung over her shoulder, filled with small things she had bought for Leah during their time apart. A necklace, chocolates, and handwritten notes from her brothers with highly inaccurate stick figures of themselves.

In the back of her mind, there was always the feint worry that maybe Leah still didn’t want to see her. Though, she knew that was just her being pessimistic as shit, as always.

She sighed, turning away from the door. As she turned she heard it creaking behind her back, and someone was clearing their throat. 

Leah. 

Leah with clear blue eyes that weren’t darting all over the place. Brows that were now thick and without gaps. Lips not chapped or bloody. And she looked… rested. Like the energy had seeped back into her. 

“Come in.” Leah offered with a wave of her hand. “We uh, we should talk.” 

Oh. 

That was exactly what Fatin didn’t want to hear. 

Fatin folded her arms as she stood in Leah’s room. 

It was familiar and not. The theory board was gone. The room itself was tidy and almost clinical. It smelt like Fabreeze and not of Leah, making her absence clear. 

“Are you going to sit?” Leah spoke from where she was perched on her bed, fingers tugging at her cardigan. 

“No,” Fatin swallowed back the tears that burned, threatening to fall if she gave in to them. “I’m good here.” If she sat, she was sure she would burst into tears and that was the last thing a  recovering Leah needed. 

“Okay,” Leah chewed on her lip. “So I,” 

“Why didn’t you want me to visit?” Fatin couldn’t help but air the thought that had been eating away at her for the month, haunting her like a shadow that followed each and every step like the bleaker side of Peter Pan. 

“Because…” Leah shut her eyes, releasing a heavy breath through her nose. “I needed space from you.” 

“Oh,” 

“Fatin,” 

“No, it’s fine.” It wasn’t. Stung like a bitch. 

“Not like that.” Leah reasoned. “I needed to distance myself from the island. From relying on you to cope for me. My therapist pointed out that to get past things I need to know how to do so without you. That it’s not fair to expect you to do so.” 

“Leah,” 

“Fatin, no. You look sick. I,” She swallowed. “Because of me you got ill too, and I can’t do that to you again.” 

“Leah you’re not,” 

“I think we need to end this. Us.” The last part was bearly a whisper.

Fatin baulked, her stomach turning within her to the point she needed to throw up. “What?” 

“We both need to move past the island. And we can’t do that if we’re hurting each other.” 

Each other. “I’m hurting you?” 

“Not intentionally.” Leah ducked her head, seriously gnawing on that lip now. “But yes. I need to get better… Alone. And you here is,” 

“A reminder.” 

“It’s just a lot right now. And I don’t want to hurt you any more than I have.” 

“You keep saying that but Leah, you never hurt me. Ever.” This, however? This seriously fucking hurt. 

Leah finally looked up, glassy eyes telling her that whatever Fatin said wouldn’t sway her. 

“Can we still hang out? We're still fine as friends, right?” Fatin tried, as long as she had Leah as a friend, like before, she could manage. 

“My therapist thinks it’s best if we don’t. Just for now while I get better at coping with things on my own.” 

“Oh.” Fatin’s world was imploding, her one safety blanket in it ripped from her grasp leaving her breathing far harder than usual. 

“Are you okay?” 

“Of course I’m not fucking okay Leah.” She bit out, only to instantly regret it. 

“Fatin,” 

“I should go.” Before she threw up. Before she lashed out again and only dug her grave further, running any chances they had for friendship. 

“Fatin please,” 

“No, it’s fine.” It was not fucking fine. Her world was crumbling. All her world was, was the girl sitting before her who now wanted nothing to do with her. She swiped away the tears, noting suddenly a box by the door filled with her shit. She choked back a bitter laugh. 

“Your favourite hoodie is in there. All your stuff is.” 

Fatin winced, pinching her brow as she drew in a shaky breath. She walked straight past it. 

“Don’t you want your,” 

“Keep it. Burn it. I really don’t care.” 

She didn’t want any of it back. The reminder would hurt too fucking much. 

“Fatin, please just,” 

“I hope you’re feeling better soon, Leah.” She meant it. She loved her and wanted nothing more than for her to be healthy again even if that meant pushing the blade into her own heart. 

Chapter Text

Leah POV 

 

Five Years Later

 


“It’s gonna be fine.” Rachel insisted. 

“It’s not.” She swallowed as she rested the moving boxes precariously in her arms.

They had all finished college now. Had all come into the court payouts for the trauma they went through. Whilst Gretchen hadn’t been found, many of those who donated or worked on the project had, and as such, they had taken them to court and won by a landslide. It wasn’t Gretchen -not yet- but it was something until they did. A catharsis in a way that offered a breath even if small. Whilst without Gretchen and her closest apprehended they wouldn't know the true reasoning for the experiment, it was still something. Especially as Seth was also placed behind bars for the murder of Bo and new charges brought up against him by his ex-girlfriend. 

The money was certainly a bonus. The pay had been enough to cover college, a shared house, and still have enough tidily stored in the bank for a rainy century. 

But then there was the issue. 

The girls had decided that when all of them were finished with college, they would move to a shared house. All of them missed each other and -while co-dependant- they had concluded that some things would be better for their health, such as being close again. 

Nora especially needed it; she suffered from extreme social anxiety that left Rachel and Leah caring for her a lot even though she stated she didn’t need it. Nora worked from home and often found excuses not to go out, so the pair would normally have to get creative in getting her to leave. The one time she had gone out without debate was when some of the girls visited. 

Dot had pointed out that it had the same effect on Shelby, who whilst was social at college and now at work, had little outside of that life. They enjoyed the warmth and stability of their new family but they also relied on it. Those walls were understandably needed; why tear them down?

In truth, the same went for all of them. Each had severe issues that stood as lasting ripple effects from that place that no amount of time would fully heal. Scars so deep and prominent that they were hard not to notice.

This was of course, bar Dot. 

Dot had become quite the social butterfly, a strong, independent woman who protected all her new family. When any of them faced issues; she was the one they often went to for a direct hands-on approach and a safe space. She was the one that handled what happened the best out of all of them, struggling more with her father's passing than the island. 

When Shelby had moved in with her, Dot had kicked into gear; working tirelessly to make sure Shelby could afford college before they won their case. Dot had also moved Mateo into their new shared place as the pair had been dating for years now. 

Leah was sure Fatin would have lectured her on not fucking him in shared rooms but then again she couldn’t be sure. She didn’t know her. Not now.

The last time Leah had spoken to Fatin was two years ago. She doubted the girl would even remember. Fatin had called her drunk -how she had her new number Leah didn’t know- only to state that she hated her before hanging up. 

Leah never even went back to high school. As she didn’t have long left, she ended up home-schooling as she recovered. Another excuse not to see her ex.

The comment had bristled Leah and left her feeling jaded and pissed. 

But then again, she understood to a degree. It was deserved.

Fatin had gone to Julliard whilst Leah went to Berkley; never once seeing each other in the years that passed. The bitter aftertaste of the memory of Fatin walking out of her house, telling Leah to burn her shit still haunted her. Still hit her full force anytime she walked in the door to her parent's house.

So much so that she never dated. Whilst she had flings with guys here and there, nothing stuck. Because none of them ever made her feel even remotely close to what that one girl did. 


“Dorothy your shit is heavy as fuck.” 

“That’s a box marked pillows you dramatic shit.” Dot yelled back. 

Leah’s breath caught as she stood in their gigantic, shared kitchen. Her box dropped with a thump onto the island in front of her as she stared at her. 

Fatin. 

Her hair was shorter, hanging now just above her shoulders, in loose waves. Tattoos dotted her arms and legs, though she didn’t want to stare too much to analyse them. That would most likely be an invasion of her privacy. Her nose was pierced; a septum ring -gold- now hung there. More piercings decorated the cuff of her left ear too. 

She was beautiful. As always.

“You two look rough.” Rachel laughed. 

“Yeah well, we haven’t slept. It was a long fucking drive.” 

“Yeah, it was,” Shelby added. She, Toni, and Martha had been living up the road from Dot and Fatin for a year now back in Texas. Leah was initially surprised, not knowing how the fuck they’d managed to get Toni and Fatin in fucking Texas; even as a temporary thing. Whilst Leah had been rooming with Nora and Rachel here in LA. 

Now they were all in LA. In a mansion that housed eight of them plus Mateo, with guest rooms for visiting family. (All of their parents were still on the communal group chat, aside from two of the dads who were very much now imprisoned. A fact neither Fatin nor Shelby talked about.)

And now Leah was swallowing against her dry throat, heart pounding as Fatin’s eyes landed on hers. “H, hi?” God why the fuck did she say that like a question?

Fatin stilled, shifting the box in her arms before Dot laid a hand on her shoulder and whispered something. Fatin nodded, her gaze leaving Leah before she walked away without even answering. 

“Well, that went well. Glad to see a bitch is cordial.” Rachel joked.

“Don’t.” Dot snapped. “You don’t know what that bitch has been through. So don’t.” 

What did that even mean? Leah knew what she had been through. Though they had two group chats, one with Leah and one with Fatin, messages were often cross-posted, so they didn’t miss out. Dot regularly updated them on what Fatin was doing. Julliard. Playing for the concert. Now working as a model and playing smaller gigs on the side. 

Nothing about struggles, apart from the same issues they all had. Anxiety. PTSD. Struggling to acclimatise to the real world. 

“It’ll be fine.” Rachel levelled her with a reassuring look and a hand on her back after Dot had left. “She can’t ice you out forever. We live together.”

 

Leah would soon find out that Fatin could very much ice her out altogether. 

 


 

“Fatin, we’re watching a film bitch, come join us.” 

“Can’t. Going out. Don’t wait up.” This was the fifth group movie night she had missed; Leah hated the fact that the only ones she’d attended were ones where Leah wasn’t present. 

It hurt. But it was also starting to piss her off. 

It was awkward as shit living together with Fatin avoiding any room she was in. Leah was pretty sure the girl was even working her eating times around when she knew she was in the kitchen. If they saw one another in passing Fatin would freeze. Leah would politely -awkwardly- attempt a hello, or a wave, anything to which Fatin would either ignore or freeze, eventually coming back to herself before walking off like the whole interaction was a mirage. 

“Where are you going?” 

“A club.” 

“Should you really be,” Dot began. 

“Drop it.” Fatin glared at her, slinging a leather jacket over her shoulders before walking out. 

“What the fuck crawled up her ass and died.” Toni laughed. 

 


 

Leah made it one month. Honestly, a complete bloody miracle in her book because Fatin was infuriating. The girl was treating her like shit, so much so that all the other girls now didn’t know how to act around them.

However, she was out of her routine today and ended up in the kitchen an hour and a half later than usual. As such when she walked in she was greeted with the sight of Fatin standing with a pan on the hob. 

“Hey,” Leah tried, grabbing an avocado from the fridge. 

Her greeting was met with stark silence. 

“Hey?” She tried again to no avail. Rage thrummed through her at the sight of Fatin’s rigid back. “Seriously, Fatin? What the fuck?” 

That got her to turn. “Hi.” It was the first word in one month that had left the girl’s mouth directed at her, even though brown eyes didn’t meet her own, they cast away to the side of Leah like looking at her would cause Fatin physical pain. 

“Are we really going to keep doing this?” 

“Fatin babe, is the food ready yet?” A guy, tall and muscular smiled at her, blonde hair dangling into his eyes. 

“Yeah. Let’s go eat outside, yeah?” 

“Hell yes, that sun is calling me.” 


Leah winced, not wanting to make a scene in front of the guy who was now hugging Fatin. 

She would not get jealous. She had no right to be. 

Other than the fact Leah was still very much in love with Fatin. 

Yes. That was quite the problem. 

 


 

It was a week later that Leah finally fucking cracked completely. Fatin was in her room; Leah knew this because she had seen her walk into there. So, when the mail came Leah handed everyone theirs. 

“I’ll give Fatin hers tomorrow.” Dot stated; the matter clearly not up for debate. 

“No, I can do it.” 

“Leah she’s,” 

“I live here. She’s going to have to get used to that fact at some point. I am giving her the mail.” 

“Okay, just not today.” 

“I’m giving her the damn mail!” Leah yelled. Everyone staring at her as her voice cracked, echoing through the high ceilings. “Sorry.” She winced, clasping the envelopes tightly in her hands as she lowered her voice to a much less dire level. “I’m giving her this,” She stated again, already heading for the stairs as Dot’s protests met her back. 

She could give Fatin some fucking mail. Fatin may have Dot under her thumb, but she would not make shit any more awkward. It was suffocating.

Knocking on the door she waited for Fatin’s weak, ‘Yeah?’ to sound before pushing it open. 

What she wasn’t expecting was to be met with the sight of Fatin’s tear-streaked face, puffy cheeks, a soft toy in her arms and the girl shaking as she held her knees to her chest. 

“Fatin?” 

And from the look on Fatin’s face; she hadn’t expected her either. Then again, why would she? Leah had never set foot in here.

Fatin dropped her head, pulling the stuffed toy tighter towards her chest. “Just drop it by the door there.” 

“Fatin,” 

“Please. Just go.” 

“I’m not leaving you like this.” Fatin was shaking, whole body trembling as sobs hit her in a way Leah hadn’t seen before, not completely broken like this.

“Then get Dot. Just, please. Get out.” 

Leah frowned, but this didn’t seem like the time to push her. 

When she got downstairs, she certainly didn’t expect to be met with an equally teary Rana and Fatin’s two brothers who were now far older, though the same boyish smile remained.

“Leah,” Rana smiled, though it didn’t quite meet her eyes. She turned to her sons, resting her hands on their shoulders now much taller than her own. “Why don’t you two go and grab your sister?” 

“Third room up the stairs on the left.” Dot smiled. 

“How is she doing?” Rana asked.

Leah stood, entirely baffled by the whole conversation and still trying to grasp the fact Fatin’s mother was here. 

“Not good,” Leah replied, even though the question was not directed at her. “I just went up. She seemed rough; did something happen?” 

Rana frowned, taken aback by the question. “Yes.” She turned her attention back to Dot. “I know I said I wasn’t coming up but Fatin’s brothers…” 

“It’s fine.” Dot nodded. “The guest rooms are empty if you need them.” 

“Thank you.” 

 


Fatin eventually made it down the stairs, one of her brother's faces just as tear-ridden as her own. 

“Honey,” Rana pulled her in for a hug, Fatin numb as she pulled away. “There’s a hiking trail nearby, we thought a meal in the grass would be nice.” 

Fatin nodded, wiping at her eyes before grabbing her keys and leading them out. 

 

“Did I miss something?” Leah asked, turning to the group who all seemed to be in on a truth she wasn’t. 

“Do we…” Toni pried, looking to Dot. 

“Fatin’s dad took his life this day two years ago.” 

“What?” The breath was ripped out of her, Leah’s head spinning.

“She’ll be fine next week. It’s just a rough time of year for her, obviously.” 

Leah’s jaw hung open, closing it a few times before she spoke. “Why did no one tell me?” 

“Fatin didn’t want you to know.” 

“Why the fuck didn’t she want me to know?” 

“Because, Leah, regardless of what everyone has done to that girl she blames herself. After your breakup, she wanted to respect your wishes even to her detriment. She didn’t want to tell you anything because she didn’t want to fuck with your recovery or boundaries.” 

“I,” 

“Just respect her space, okay? I meant it when I said she’s been through a lot. That was just the tip of the iceberg.” Dot admitted, pushing some popcorn into her mouth.

“Okay,” Leah agreed. 

 



As she lay in bed that night, eyes scrolling through Fatin’s social media for any hint of her not looking completely put together in a post, she shuddered. 

Fatin had lost her father. Years ago. And Leah didn’t even know. Hadn’t even sent her a fucking card or text all because the girl was still respecting her space. 

Her lip trembled as she googled him. There was little coverage on it, other than how he had taken his life in prison, some overly shocking details on precisely how that she prayed Fatin hadn’t read.

Pictures of the Jadmanis, including Fatin, at his funeral. 

Fatin stood, looking exhausted in a dress and coat that eclipsed her small frame, huge sunglasses covering her eyes from the media. 

She looked tired. So fucking tired. 

And Leah had no idea. 

Chapter Text

Fatin POV

 

Leah was acting obscure. 

And for a girl who's totally fucking eccentric to begin with; that was saying something. 

It started out with small things. 

The girl made a habit of saying hello anytime she saw her like she hadn’t removed Fatin from her life all those years ago. She was acting like friendly neighbour Rilke and it was uncomfortable as shit. 

Then there was when Leah caught her crying on the anniversary of her dad’s death. Leah had spent that weekend avoiding any spaces her mother and brothers were in; so much so that her brothers eventually asked her what was going on between them. They knew at some point Leah had stopped showing up at their house, but never why. Fatin deemed they were old enough now to get the cliff notes version; she kept it short and held the tears back as they wrapped their arms around her. 

After they left was when things started to get seriously weird. 

“Leah made breakfast,” Rachel called as she entered the kitchen. 

Fatin froze, folding her arms as she summed up how to best get out of this interaction. 

“I made chocolate chip pancakes with peanut butter.” 

Her favourite. A fact Leah would have known, and as no one else here loved them it was clear they had been made as some kind of white flag, peace offering. 

“I,” 

Leah pushed the plate towards her. “I was just heading out.” She added as if trying to give Fatin her space to make sure she remained there long enough to eat. 

“Uh,” She swallowed the lump in her throat. “Thank you.” 

Leah smiled weakly, grabbing her keys on the way out. 

Rich, warm, peanut butter coated her tongue as she hummed, content, before shovelling another mouthful down her throat. Fuck they were good. 

She hadn’t had pancakes like this since before, the food reminding her too much of the girl who was now making them for her again. 

 



It continued like that for weeks. 

Leah coincidentally made her favourite foods just as she was ‘heading out’ over and over.

There were the nachos and pizza one week, the iced coffee with fresh bagels almost every morning the next, and then… and then this bitch made her fucking samosas. 

 

“I uh... made you some food.” Leah pushed the plate in front of her and Fatin would recognise that smell anywhere.

Her mouth salivated at the smell she hadn't smelt in years, one reminiscent of comfort nights watching The Legend of Korra with her brothers or when her grandma used to come to stay. Parties with close family friends or nights where her mum got off work early and had more time to make food for them, her voice carrying through the kitchen as she sang along to Taylor Swift. (Rana was especially fond of her songs after being wronged by her husband; Fatin's mother could really belt the lyrics to 'Mean' when given the chance.)

“You made my mum's samosas?” 

“Yes?” Leah frowned at the plate, panicking. “Did I… Should I not have?” 

“No it’s just…” Fatin stared at the plate. It was hours of work. Fatin could even see the remnants of flour dappled throughout Leah's hair; telling her she'd made everything. “How did you know how to make them?” 

“I asked your mum.” Her ex shifted awkwardly on the balls of her feet. 

She didn’t know what the hell to make of that bomb drop. Leah was in contact with her mother now? Leah had spent ages making Fatin’s favourite food? 

“You don’t have to do this.” 

“Do what?” 

“Don’t play stupid when you’re anything but. The food. Whatever this peace offering is, it isn’t needed.” 

“I’m sorry.” 

“Don’t be sorry.” She paused, taking a bite. “They’re good. A little light on the coriander though.” 

The corner of Leah's mouth turned up, only just, before the normal shadow eclipsed her features once again. “I was just heading out so I’d better,” 

“Okay. Thank you. You know, for the non-peace offering food.” 

“Anytime.” Leah’s cheeks reddened as she ducked her head, striding away at speed. 

After Fatin finished off an entire plate, she moved to drop the napkin into the bin, freezing when she saw the contents within. Batches of samosas, some burnt, others underdone, and some looking normal that she assumed the filling had gone array in. Batch upon batch of failed attempts. 

It was only ten AM, meaning Leah had likely been up since two in the morning baking these things on repeat. A fact Fatin didn't want to analyse too deeply.

 

 

After the samosas, Fatin decided she had to at least get her shit together partially. Not completely -the years had seriously messed with her mentally- but perhaps enough to let Leah in as a friend. Cordial at the very least. Yes, she could totally manage cordial.

 


 

The time during which Leah had broken up with her was more painful than that spent on the island. When Leah never returned to school, she felt a level of abandonment that even her father’s betrayal hadn’t hit. Left to swim alone, suffocating in the sea of rumours; rumours which now included Leah breaking up with her. At least that one had been accurate, factually.

The one person she loved wanted nothing to do with her. 

Perhaps the saddest part was that Fatin never stopped loving Leah, and that’s why it hurt so damn much. 

Every day she thought ‘this will be the day she calls’ only that day never arrived. Days stretched into weeks, months then years. 

She felt used, almost. 

Like she had been kicked to the curb, cast aside like she meant nothing to Leah. 

It was initially why she began drinking so much; shots that rapidly turned into getting her stomach pumped. Vodka turned into coping as she hit college and drinking became her safety net; only more dangerous than before. The void sucked her in until she almost lost her place at Julliard. Eventually, she agreed to attend alcoholics anonymous; making an attempt to bring herself back from the pit. 

 

And she had. 

 

Then her father passed away and she fell into it again. Blamed herself for his death; still did to a degree. Whilst she knew it was him who caused the rift, who got himself imprisoned; most of it circled back to her. Fatin sent out his dick pics. Fatin sent the evidence to the FBI. Fatin refused to visit. 

It was how she ended up one night, rushed into hospital for swallowing a bottle of pills chased with whisky. Almost losing her life to a low she couldn’t step out of. One that whispered to her and had her deciding it would be less painful to just avoid; after all, who could she talk to?

 

Dot had moved her in with them shortly after; wouldn’t take no for an answer. She ended up in fucking Texas of all places; Dot and Shelby were the strictest with her about attending AA meetings and making sure she wasn’t clubbing too often. Though she didn’t drink they were scared that she was around the temptation to do so. Shelby would often take her for ice cream after, scraping together cash to do so with her and Dot's jobs at the gas station to do so before their court money came through. They had so little and yet they gave Fatin so much. Dorothy had even refused to let her pay for rent the first two months, stating she didn't need her worrying about cash until Fatin was back emotionally on her feet.

Rana had ended up visiting, managing to get them a stupidly good deal on a place big enough for the three of them to comfortably live in. Fatin did believe it possible her mother had bought the building and was secretly renting it to them herself as a covert thank you.

Then her mother had gotten breast cancer. That really was a shitty twist of fate. She had gone in for an operation, refusing to have Fatin there for treatment as they ‘caught it early.’ Though she stated she was fine -now- Fatin still tried to help out where possible. Sent her groceries, and video called her brothers to help with their studies so she could have a moment of peace. Briefly went back to help her get on her feet again.

And through it all, every low and every heart-breaking event; all she wanted was for Leah to hold her. To tell her it would all be okay.

She decided that was selfish. Being mad at Leah was selfish. Leah was recovering and had been through a lot. Fatin didn’t get to dictate how she recovered, it was on no one's terms but Leah’s to decide. 

As such, Fatin gave her the space she needed, crumbling when that space became a constant missing puzzle piece to her life. 

What she didn't understand is why Leah closed the door entirely.

When they moved in Fatin didn’t know what she was expecting. Maybe she believed Leah would pull out last minute or freeze her out. Which meant now that she was trying to be friendly; Fatin baulked. Leah had chosen to act like she didn’t exist for years, and now she was all awkward smiles and ‘hello’s’ chewing her lip in a way that took Fatin back. Back to days of running her thumb along that lip, holding her through panic attacks or sighing as she came with mussed hair held in place by her tight grip on a head between her thighs. 

No, Fatin wasn’t sure what she wanted. What she could handle. 

Yet part of her was screaming to just try. 

Even as friends. 

 


 


So that week, when Fatin got back from a run, she noted that Leah was alone in the living room. 

Taking a breath to steady herself she clenched her palms; acrylics biting into them with such a force that they drew blood. 

“What are you watching?” 

Leah became rigid at the voice behind her. “A documentary on Atlantis.” 

“Like the Disney film?” 

“How do you not know what,” Leah stopped herself short. “Yeah, kind of.” 

“Can I join you?” 

“You want to join me?” Leah clearly hadn’t meant to speak those words aloud because her brow rose immediately after like she was berating herself internally. 

“If that’s okay?” 

“Yes. Yeah. Of course. That’s totally fine. Good.” 

“Ooo-kay.” Fatin smiled, slumping down on the opposite side of the couch as she slipped her earbuds out of her ears. 

“What are you wearing?” 

“I went out for a run.” 

“You hate sports,” Leah added, confused. 

She didn’t know what to say to that. Sports had been recommended by her therapist as a way of dealing with her depression and as a way to implement a healthy coping mechanism. 

“I don’t hate it now.” She turned her gaze to the television. A partial lie. Fatin still hated running; the sweat was gross and the effort was disgusting. Saying that; it was the one thing to truly help her. A mental reprieve of sorts.

“Oh. Okay.” Leah pressed play again, her hand rising to pick at her brow. 

Fatin let it go on for two minutes before she reached across the couch, pulling Rilke’s hand away from her brows. “Cut it out. Or you’ll be back in the browless Y2K era before you know it."

Leah’s jaw dropped; her eyes glued to Fatin’s hand that was still on her own until she retracted it with speed. 

Heat pooled in her stomach, her skin prickling from where it had been in contact with Leah’s. 

“Sorry.” 

“You need to stop apologising.” Fatin turned her gaze back. “Why the fuck have I never heard of this place?” 

 



It became a regular thing, Fatin slumping onto the sofa beside Leah whenever she got back from a run. Though few words were exchanged it became less uncomfortable, Leah even handing her snacks as she spoke about why some things were scientifically impossible. 

The space between them on the sofa grew smaller, Fatin eventually sitting down and throwing her legs up on her after one particularly exhausting run. 

“What the fuck?” 

“You’re comfy.” 

“You’re sweaty.” Leah groaned. 

“Don’t act like you don’t love it.” Fatin let her focus fall on the T.V. “No, no more documentaries. We’re watching something fun.” She grabbed the remote from Leah’s lap, missing the way the girl was completely flustered by her hand on her; brushing the material of the jeans that covered her thighs. “Ooh, gossip girl.” 

“Jesus.” Leah chewed her lip, face red as Fatin settled in for the show.

“Blake Lively is so fucking hot.” She noted around a mouth of popcorn. 

“Yeah,” Leah replied breathlessly, hand coming to rest on Fatin’s shin. 

 



The distance shrunk, and shrunk, and shrunk. Until people would assume that the two were friends. 

Whilst they were friendly, Fatin still wouldn’t label Leah as her friend. 


For one, Leah still knew nothing about who Fatin was now. Had no idea what she had been through or was going through; a fact that over time grew more apparent. 


“Here,” Leah handed her a glass, Fatin automatically bringing it to her lips as they watched a film that afternoon with Toni and Rachel. 

She brought it to her lips without thought, freezing when the swig she took was met with the taste of sweet red wine. 

“You okay?” Leah asked, frowning as she sat there, eyes slammed shut. 

“Yeah.” 

“Shit,” Toni muttered, grabbing the glass and taking it to the kitchen. 

Now Fatin knew why no one had told Leah she was sober; Fatin had told them all not to fucking speak of it. She was at a point where she could be around drink and not be tempted so their cupboards were filled and most of the girls drank in their place often. 

“You okay?” Toni pressed a glass into her hand, Fatin taking a sip of the orange juice until the taste of red wine was gone from her mouth. 

“Yeah, I’m just gonna call Adam.” Fatin whispered, already getting up to leave, hand shaking around her phone. 

“What the fuck was that about?” She heard Leah’s voice behind her, no one supplying her with an answer. 

 

 

Her hands trembled the whole way to her room, back hitting the door as she slumped against it and dialled her sponsor, telling him exactly what happened. 

“I’ll head over. You’re home, right?” 

“Yeah, yeah I’m home.” 

The sixteen-month representing bronze chip sat heavy in her palm, tears streaming down her face as it began to blur. 

“Fuck.” 

She dropped her head, body shaking for what felt like hours until a hand was knocking gently against her door. 

“Fatin babe? It’s Adam.” 

Getting to her feet was a task, her legs felt weak, vision obscured by tears as she pulled the door open. 

“Hey, I’ve got you. You’re okay.” 

Arms were around her, pulling her in tightly as he repeated soothing words to her. 

Well, fuck. 

“Are you feeling a little better now?” He asked, sitting on her bed beside her. 

“Oh yeah, I’m like totes fine. I don’t know why the fuck it’s hitting me like this.” 

“Because you worked so fucking hard to get where you are. But accidentally taking a sip of something without knowledge, and immediately removing yourself from the situation does not affect your sobriety Fatin. It’s not your fault, you didn’t knowingly consume anything, and you removed yourself from it as soon as you realised. You did exactly as you should have. Hell, my sister made a boozy Christmas cake last year and it ‘slipped her mind’ that she doused the fucking thing in rum.  It hit me hard, but as my sponsor stated, that wasn’t in my control. This doesn’t affect your chip Fatin.” 

“I drank it.” 

“Unknowingly.” 

“Still, I,” 

“Breathe. It’s not your fault.” 

“It’s not Leah’s either. She doesn’t know.” 

“No one is to blame, mistakes happen. They don’t have to be anyone’s fault.” He smiled, pushing the floppy blonde hair out of his eyes. God he was such a golden retriever. “Now, what would help you right now?” 

“I need to clear my head.” 

“There’s a sober café down the road. Safe space with damn good coffee bitch. Like holy shit.” 

“That… Yeah. That sounds good.” She breathed out a shaky breath. 

“Come on then.” 

“Leah, I don’t know what to say. She’ll know something's up.” 

“Do you want to tell her?” 

No. Not particularly. But she needed to; Fatin couldn’t risk that happening again. The taste of the wine was still there, resting on her lips, calling her in a way she hated; hadn’t felt in years. 

“I need to. I just can’t…” 

“You could write her a note, or text her, or myself or Dot can explain if it’s easier.” 

None of those sounded right. 

“Let’s just go to the café. I’ll figure it out when we’re back.” 

Either way, she and Leah needed to be more open about their pasts with each other.

Even if there were multiple skeletons in that closet.

Chapter Text

Leah POV

 

She had no clue what was going on. One minute they were watching TV then Fatin was having some sort of panic attack, Toni speaking to her in hushed words. 

Confusion flooded her, especially when the cute blonde guy from the other month collected her and took a makeup-less Fatin out of their place to god knows where. 

It left her feeling unsettled; that she had been replaced. This guy seemingly knew exactly how to handle her when Leah didn’t even realise that she had panic attacks at all. It left her stomach feeling uneasy; souring at the thought that she no longer knew how to protect the girl who spent years protecting her. 

 


 

Leah knew she’d fucked up. When her therapist suggested she take time away from Fatin to heal she had probably meant months at most. But as months passed Leah didn’t know what to say; couldn’t figure out how to slide her way back into Fatin’s life. Fatin was partying again as she stalked her socials, drinking out late on weekdays with friends. Freinds who had made Leah's former high school years quite the living hell.

The truth was that she didn't fit in with the popular rich kids crowd, it was one of many reasons why she never ran into Fatin at parties. Whilst she did attend some they were normally lesser known kids and lit or science nerds. Her people. Introverts. Not the ones that mocked her as a kid for having some worn out backpack and braces later than the others did becuase her parents were still saving for them.

It wasn't like they were seriously hard up for cash; they had food and a good roof. Electricity. But they were never made of excess money either. Leah had to work odd jobs at a small bookstore just to make enough to travel and meet Jeff at differnt hotels.

It wasn't just that though, Leah was seriously taller than her peers in her younger years, making her the target punchline for many a kid. 

When she saw Fatin, happy with people who were fun, known; she stilled. Stupid really; letting reservations you didn't know you even had from your formative years dictate the death of your relationship. Yet it did. Fatin seemed so joyous on her social media... so carefree... at peace...

That she didn't want to break that. 

Once she decided her worries were rediculous and realised how idiotic it was to let such feelings get in the way, there was a new realisation that reared its head. As a result of her fears she had ignored Fatin for over a year, and now didn't feel like she any longer had the right to speak to her.

No, Leah never spoke to her. Because she didn’t feel like she deserved Fatin anymore. Didn’t feel like she fit into her life or deserved to.

However, what she never considered; was that perhaps Fatin needed her. More so than words could ever explain. 

 

The space grew and grew. Leah never threw out the box of Fatin’s things. It followed her like a shadow to college, then to her apartment with Rachel and Nora. Rachel had mocked the box at first; quickly dropping it when Leah burst into tears one day over a friendly joke that hit a little too close to the truth. 

Rachel was now well aware of the fact Leah was still in love with Fatin. Had been for years. 

 


 

“Does she get like that often?” Leah asked Toni. 

“No, not anymore.” Toni shook off a thought, texting someone on her phone with a look of concern pulling her features taught. 

Leah wasn’t sure what that meant, but assumed it pertained to the many years of Fatin’s life she had been vacant for. 

 

 

Later that night Fatin returned, without the incredibly cute blonde guy at her side. 

“Can uh, can we talk?” 

“Yeah.” 

“Privately?” Fatin said. 

“Oh, yeah, sure.” Leah followed her up the stairs, this eerie feeling settling on her shoulders as Fatin led her to her room where she now stood with the door closed behind them. 

It was the first time she’d been invited in. The first time she let her eyes drift across contents in the space that were so entirely Fatin. Her cello displayed by the window. Minimalist oak furniture against stark white walls. Her music recording setup around a desk. And oddly, a single stuffed toy on her bed in an inside-out shirt that looked oddly familiar, though Leah couldn’t pinpoint why. 

“Are you okay?” 

Fatin was pacing, hands playing with the sleeves of her hoodie. 

“Yes. Kind of.” 

Fatin continued pacing, Leah eventually stopping her with a hand on her bicep. “What’s wrong?” 

Stilling, she took a deep breath in as her eyes were forced shut. “Earlier you handed me a glass of wine, and don’t feel like it’s your fault because I know what you’re like with spiralling, but you literally didn’t know any better, and I...” Tears were streaming down her face, Leah raising a hand to swipe them away from Fatin’s cheeks with the pads of her thumbs. 

“Slow down. Breathe.” She instructed, hand still holding her cheek. “There you go.” It wasn’t condescending, it was that same innate care that had been there on the island, Fatin calmed as the words left her mouth. 

“I’m in AA.” Fatin swallowed; eyes still pressed shut. “Alcoholics anonymous. I don’t drink. Haven’t in sixteen months.” She whispered. “I joined in college but relapsed when my dad...” She swallowed again, loudly as Leah’s heart clenched in pain at the rawness of her voice. “But I’ve been clean for sixteen months. I, I don’t drink any alcohol anymore. I’m careful with any prescription medications I take too.” 

Leah’s brain froze then. She had given Fatin a glass of wine; remembered now how she froze after she took a mouthful. Her face fell. 

“Shit, I’m so fucking sorry. I had,” 

“You didn’t know,” Fatin reassured. “Not your fault.” 

“I gave you wine Fatin.” 

“And you didn’t know,” Fatin stated. “You didn’t know. And I’m not mad at you, and I’m trying super hard not to be pissed at myself so if we could maybe just like, pretend like this didn’t happen?” 

Leah nodded and chewed her lip as her own eyes burned. “Yeah. Okay. Do you want to watch something downstairs? Toni and Shelby are probably making out on the couch again but if we put a horror on that might kill their mood.” 

Fatin sighed, playing nervously with the sleeves of her hoodie. “Could we watch something in here? My laptops on the desk.” But then Fatin was frowning. “Actually, I totally get if that’s... if I’m too much. That was weird, wasn’t it? Jesus what a crazy bitch.” 

It was a sight that had Leah automatically pulling her in, holding her body tight against her own as her hand fed into her hair. “It’s fine. That’s fine. I’m just going to grab us some food and water though, your stomach’s making some seriously crazy noises right now.” 

She nodded as Leah pulled away, swiping damp sleeves across her cheeks. “Yeah, that sounds good. I’ll find a film.” 

 


 


Leah quickly made sandwiches; chicken salad like she knew Fatin loved, juice boxes resting on her arm as she balanced the plates. 

“Why didn’t you guys tell me?” She stopped in the living room, staring at the others. The others who clearly already knew.

“It wasn’t our place to say.”

“It’s never our place to say yet we tell everyone here everything. We have no secrets. God, I even know about the guy Martha was hooking up with who had a man bun.” 

“Seriously?” Martha shrieked. “He had good qualities! He loved animals.”

“Wait you dated someone with a fucking man bun?” Toni barked. 

“The point is we tell each other shit that isn’t ours to tell. Why did no one tell me? I handed her a fucking glass of wine.”  If it was anything else Leah would understand, but negating this fact risked her sobriety. Her safety. 

“Fatin didn’t want to tell you. She asked us not to and part of her recovery is revealing things at her own pace. Us telling you, could have set her back or harmed her in the long run. It wasn’t like it was a man bun, I mean she almost died, Leah. You obviously get why we couldn’t tell you, it was her place to do so.”

“She almost died?” Leah almost dropped the plate, barely stabilising it at the last minute. 

“Shit,” Toni muttered as she realised that maybe her friend didn’t have the whole story. “Just pretend like you didn’t hear that.” 

 

 

But she did, couldn’t stop thinking about it even as she returned to the room, passing Fatin a plate before climbing into the bed alongside her. It was oddly close, reminiscent of their younger years falling asleep exactly like this, awaking to the thud of a laptop falling off the bed. 

“Sandra Bullock ages like fine wine,” Fatin spoke, spraying crumbs everywhere as she ate her sandwich. 

“You almost died?” Leah asked, the thought still on her mind. Whilst her OCD was more managed now it was still there, occasionally keeping thoughts on repeat in her mind until she spoke them aloud. Though as she did, and Fatin tensed and she regretted it. 

“Who the fuck told you that?” 

“Fatin it’s,” 

“Who told you?” Fatin calmly put her plate down, pulling her knees up to her chest. 

“They didn’t know.” 

“Who,” 

“Fatin. They didn’t know. I asked them why they never told me about the AA thing. I guess it was assumed you gave me the whole story, not like, the cliff notes version.” 

She laughed bitterly. “I gave you the version I felt comfortable with because you disowned me, Leah. I gave you what I felt comfortable telling a near stranger about.” 

That hurt like hell, but then again there was no lie there. “I’m not pissed at you for not telling me Fatin. I get it, I do.” 

“Do you?” Fatin whispered. 

"I'm trying." Leah winced. “I’m trying to be there for you now. And I can’t change shit but I don’t want you feeling like you have to hide things from me. You don’t have to protect me anymore Fatin.” I’m not a kid, remained on her tongue. They weren’t teens anymore; far from it. Leah could handle herself far better than back then. 

“When I found out my father died, I spiralled. Like, I guess I was in this really low state at the time. I mean I put him behind those bars and he...” She shuddered. “I hit a low point. I didn’t really have friends at college and none of the girls were near at the time.” Fatin released a shaky breath. “It just wasn’t a good point in my life. I’m good now. So good. Most of the time.” 

 Leah was drifting, mind picturing Fatin alone. Having lost her father. Without them. Without her. When Toni had said that she had almost died; Leah had pictured her drinking too much accidentally. Maybe at a club with friends. She sucked her lip into her mouth at the realisation that her assumptions about Fatin over the past years may have been completely wrong. 

“Sorry, I don’t talk about it much. Obviously.” She joked, wiping her face. “I was in a really rough place and I guess,” Fatin paused, letting out a slight hiccup. “I guess I just needed it to end. So, I tried to.” 

“I,” Leah didn’t know what to say or think. Fatin had tried to take her life and Leah was what, partying and worrying about lit essays? 

“Can we not talk about this again? It’s still a lot to rehash.” 

“Yeah. We don’t have to talk about it.” 

“I’m actually kind of tired. Think I might just go to bed if that’s okay?” 

Fatin had folded in on herself, hugging her legs like she was too scared to let go. She couldn’t help her, had no right to. Leah had long since forgone being able to run her hands through the girl’s hair and hold her. 

“Yeah. Do you want me to get Dot?” 

“I’m fine.” Fatin shook her head. “Just tired.” 

Leah could see from her face that wasn’t the case. Fatin looked like Leah imagined she would have all those years ago mid-spiral. Fatin gnawed on her sleeve, body shaking only just. 

“Okay.” 

What else could she say? Leah had no right to say anymore, just took what she was granted and left. 

Leah retreated back to her room, four doors up from Fatin’s. She shucked her clothing off, tears welling as she walked to the cupboard, trembling hands pulling out a box that lay wedged under hoards of hoodies and shoe boxes, discarded at the bottom. 

Brushing off the top she opened the lid, her hands rifling through it until they clasped around a hoodie. Hastily she pulled it free then tugging it in place over her head. 

Her nose dipped into the collar, brow furrowing as it no longer smelt like her. No longer felt as much like her as it used to. 

No, this hoodie, now years old, was a weak replacement for Fatin’s arms around her. 

She got into bed, pulled out her phone, and opened up a text conversation. 

Leah: Did you know? 

She cried into the collar, curling up in a foetal position as her arms clutched around herself. 

Leah had done this. Unknowingly, yes. To a degree. 

But she had only thought about herself. Hadn’t even considered how much Fatin needed her. 

Jesus Christ was it selfish; she abandoned her. Yes, Leah needed to recover but that didn’t take years, it took months for her to get back to a comfortable place. She hadn’t contacted her because she thought Fatin was happier without her; had been so amiss to seeing the fact she was breaking so greatly. 

She decided then she would make it right now. Somehow. Some way. 

Leah would show Fatin she could be there for her in any way she would have her. Even as simply friends.

 


 

“Morning.” Leah smiled as Fatin entered the kitchen. 

“Hi.” 

“There’s breakfast and coffee on the counter.” 

“Thank you. I’m not really hungry though.” Fatin picked up the coffee, stilling when she saw all the girls already at the table. She tugged on the sleeves of the same hoodie that she was wearing yesterday, pivoting to retreat up the stairs with her drink like she couldn’t handle people. 

Leah wasn’t sure how she had missed it. 

It was so fucking clear, the way Fatin was entirely different from the girl she knew. 

This Fatin was reserved, nervous even though she hid it behind stone features. Second guessed things in a way Fatin never did. Still said whatever she was thinking and made the same crass jokes, but it was rarer. 

 

 

She never came down that day. Leah eventually knocked on her door come dinner time, hearing the cello through the door. 

“Not now Dorothy,” 

“It’s not Dot.” 

The cello stopped abruptly, the door swinging open only seconds later. “What do you want?” It wasn’t rude, just defeated. Leah could tell from the fact her bed wasn’t messed up on the left-hand side that Fatin hadn’t slept last night. 

“I brought food.” 

“I’m not hungry.” 

“I know. I made lasagne.” 

“Your mums?” 

“Yes.” 

Fatin swallowed. “I guess I can eat.” 

“Okay, mind if I come in? We can watch a film.” 

“Leah,” 

“Fatin, I’m not going to judge you. I’m not upset and I’m not mad. I just want to watch a film with my friend who I miss like a shit tonne, and eat some lasagne.” 

“Okay.” She stepped back, letting Leah in with the bowls. 

“What do you want to watch?” 

“Booksmart.” 

“You hate that film,” Fatin noted. 

“Yeah, but you love it.” Leah clicked on it, ignoring Fatin’s protests as she pulled her own bowl into her lap. 

They didn’t talk. Not much. Not even when tears streamed down Fatin’s cheeks. Not when Leah shut the laptop and took the bowls to her desk, now empty. Not even now, as Leah held her tightly in Fatin’s bed, her tears soaking the neck of her shirt to a darker blue than the usual cotton. 

“I missed this,” Fatin admitted quietly. 

“Me too.” 

 

She cried for hours, Leah barely holding back her own tears, eyes pressed shut as her throat ached. Fatin was broken in her arms as a ripple effect of her leaving. The girl she loved was in so much fucking pain and Leah was so focussed on Gretchen, herself, that she didn’t even think about the effect it was having on Fatin. 

Leah wasn’t the only one on that island.

Dad: I don’t know to what part you’re referring to, but if it’s Fatin, then yes.

She locked her phone, pulling Fatin tighter against her. Her hand threaded into her hair, soothing her the exact same way she used to. 

“I don’t want any more secrets.” Fatin’s words were mumbled by the skin of her neck. 

“I didn’t message you before because I thought you were happier without me.” Leah admitted. 

“I wasn’t.” 

“I know that now.” Leah let her fingers run through Fatin’s shorter hair, silky and smooth as it seeped through her fingers. “My OCD is better but it’s still there. Not as bad obviously, but I still manage it. I still get panic attacks a lot. Nightmares. I hooked up with Ian one night during high school. Couldn’t tell you why. It still makes me sick to think about it, him too actually. He said it was like sleeping with a relative.”

“Gross.” 

Leah could tell Fatin was playing that fact off as her hand was clenched tightly around Leah’s hip at the admission, acrylics biting into her skin. 

“I fixated so much on my studies in college that I ended up in hospital at one point because I was so fucking dehydrated.” Leah was still sharing, in hopes that maybe it would close the rift; if even only a bit. “Rachel used to set a kitchen timer and if I didn’t tell her I’d had a drink she used to call me until I answered then yell at me.” 

Fatin laughed at that, a small chuckle of air that tickled at the baby hairs on her neck making Leah shudder. 

“I joined a crochet club because my therapist said creative outlets help but I was so shit at it that they said it was best I leave and stop wasting the wool.” 

“You’re shitting me. Crochet?” 

“Yeah, I made a bear with five limbs and one eye. Then I joined the newspaper but they were snobby as shit.” 

Leah didn’t have much else to tell. Her life was hardly wild since school. It was slow, methodical, and filled with late nights reading and coffee dates with friends.

“My mum had cancer. After my dad passed. I don’t know if it was the stress or,” She sighed. “She’s fine now. I don’t know, It was a rough few years.”

Leah’s head was spinning again. It was like this static buzzing; kind of like what she had on the island. But it was an entirely different realisation this time around, a far worse sinking feeling because she wasn’t spiralling as such. She was submerged in a pool of her wrongdoings that was vastly becoming clearer by the day. 

“Fatin, I’m so sorry.” 

“It’s fine. Shit happens right? I mean, we got stuck on an island for months on end with nothing.” 

But the thing is shortly after the island was where Leah’s trauma stopped. Evaporated into a more comfortable life. 

Fatin’s trauma only tumbled and grew. 

“I mean, yeah. But I’m sorry. God, I’m so fucking sorry you had to face all that.” Alone. 

“It’s fine.” 

It was not. 

“That’s about it though. No more skeletons in the closet so to speak.” 

Leah wrapped her arms tighter around her. “Yeah.” What else could she say? 

 

Chapter Text

Fatin POV

 

They fell into a habit none of the other girls mentioned, that was if they even noticed. 

Leah would get into Fatin’s bed and pull up a movie each afternoon or night, the two laying beneath the covers. Fatin was normally held in Leah’s arms with her head on her chest as they watched the screen in front of them. 

Each night Leah would get up, go back to her room and fall asleep. 

 

Until she didn’t. 

 

The routine slowly morphed into something else entirely; accidentally

It changes one night when Leah falls asleep as they watched a film, Fatin not daring to wake her. Instead, she put away the laptop and closed her eyes too. Something so natural for her to do because in the past, long ago, they had done it many times before.

When she awoke it was three am and Leah was sweating as she wriggled in her sleep.

“Lee, Leah, hey, hi, you’re okay.” 

Leah gasped, eyes wide as her hands gripped onto Fatin so tight that her fingers buried into her flesh, leaving shallow welts there. 

“Shit.” She struggled to catch her breath, forehead resting against Fatin’s. 

“You okay?” 

“Island.” 

Fatin hummed, pulling Leah against her, a hand rubbing soothing circles on her back. “Go back to sleep.” 

“But I should go back to my,” 

“You’re not alone. Go back to sleep.” 

Leah didn’t question that; slipped off fairly soon after. 

 


The routine changed. 

Fatin would put away the laptop each night, close the screen then roll over with Leah wrapping her arms around her as they slept. 

They were just friends. 

Exes.

Friendly exes who fell asleep wrapped up in one another. 

It didn’t mean anything. 

 

 


That week Fatin answered the door, grinning as Adam came in waving two bottles. “The farm foods store had that -truly fucking sexual- elderflower sparkling water back in stock bitch.”

“Jack. Pot.” That shit was so good. It was like heaven pressed into a bottle. Floral and bitter, leaving the crisp flavour on your tongue. 

“Crack it open I’ll grab glasses.” 

“Did you want to go out?” 

“No, I figured we’d stay in. Watch that new film you wanted to see.” 

“The period drama?” 

“Yes. You can thank me for sitting through that shit later.” Fatin grinned. 

 

 

That was how they ended up splayed across the couch, glasses in hands and Adam’s legs in her lap as she played with his leg hair. “You should let me wax these. Gives away the fact you’re a natural ginger.” 

“Take that back you bitch.” He laughed, kicking her gently until Fatin was laughing so hard that she almost spilled her drink; the water sloshing in the glass and splashing slightly down her shirt. 

“They’re so fucking cute. You should name each one after the characters from Brave”

“Such an asshole.” He chided. 

“Oh,” Leah stopped dead in the living room, eyes landing on Adam, then his legs being played with on Fatin’s lap. 

“Hey, want to join us?” 

She worked her jaw, a sight Fatin rarely saw. Leah didn’t do pissed often but when she did she was truly shit at hiding the signs. 

“No, I’m good.” 

“Are you sure?” 

“We have sparkling flower juice.” Adam smiled. “It’s better tasting than that made it sound.” 

“No, it’s fine. I have a deadline to meet.” She smiled, but Fatin knew it was forced like Leah was trying not to upset her and be polite. 

It made Fatin’s brow furrow; watching her walk away. 

“I take it that was Leah?” 

“How did you know?” 

“She always looks at me like she wants to gut me like a fish. Does she know I’m gay and not one of your many suiters?” 

Oh. 

No. That... that surely wasn’t it. Leah wasn’t jealous. 

“That’s absurd.” 

“Whatever you say bitch.” He took a swig of his drink and grinned. “And they say gay guys are dramatic.” 

 

 

Fatin waited exactly five minutes after Adam had left to storm up to Leah’s room. Thoughts flurried through her brain and she damn well needed to shut them up. Adam was wrong, obvi, but he had still put the thought there, a seed that grew and grew until her knuckles rapped against the wood of the door in an attempt at shutting them up.

Her fist pounded at it until Leah’s face appeared with an out of breath, “What?”

“Why did your jaw do that thing?” 

“What?” She looked utterly perplexed as her brow pulled taught.

“Your jaw. It did that thing you do when you’re pissed.” Fatin poked at her jaw as if to prove a point. It was still working now. “Why are you pissed?” 

“I have a deadline, I’m fine.” Leah smiled again and whilst Fatin appreciated her trying to brush off her emotions, the lie simultaneously pissed her the hell off. 

Irritated, she shouldered her way into the now very familiar room. 

“Why are you pissed?” 

“I’m not.” 

“Don’t do that. Not now. Not after…” Taking a steadying breath she folded her arms. “Please do not lie to me.” 

“Fine.” Leah sighed, fingers pinching the skin between her brows in defeat. “I don’t like him.” 

There. It was something. One morsel of truth at least. 

“Adam is sweet as shit. He owns a Westie for fucks sake. What about Westie owners screams cunt?” 

“Well, maybe I don’t like sweet guys.” 

“I mean clearly. You dated the crypt keeper in high school.” 

“Really?” Leah winced. 

“Adam is my sponsor.” 

“What?” She scowled, taking a slight step backward. 

“Adam, that guy? That very sweet, very gay guy is my AA sponsor.” 

“Oh.” Leah swallowed; eyes wide as she digested that. Relief seeped into her shoulders, posture, and jaw relaxing and Fatin knew then that Adam was right. 

The mother fucker was right. 

“Wait, were you jealous?” 

“Fatin,” 

“Were you jealous of my gay AA sponsor?” It was laughable, truly. Nothing about Adam screamed likes women. He turned up today in a neon print Cher t-shirt.

“I didn’t know he was your gay AA sponsor.” 

“That’s not a no,” Fatin noted, advancing towards Leah who was staggering backward until her back hit her cupboard. “Were you jealous?” 

“I,” Leah dropped her head and God, she wanted her. She wanted stormy blue eyes boring into her own, wanted to hear the sounds Leah made when she came, the heavy breaths in her ear. She hadn’t had sex in longer than she cared to admit, so perhaps that was hindering her choices, but at this point, Fatin couldn’t care less.

Days of sleeping by her, waking up to warm arms wrapped around her, or Leah mindlessly brushing her hair left her more on edge than when her toothbrush had died on that godforsaken island. 

Fatin was still pissed, wasn’t sure what they were or if she even could handle anything. This whole idea screamed destructive, but it also screamed relief, comfort... even if fleeting. 

“Yes, or no?” 

“Fuck.” Leah’s hand trembled from where her palms were resting against the wood. “Yes. I’m sorry. I know I have like, no right to be jealous when,” 

Fatin leaned forward, taking lips between her own. 

It was oddly familiar, but more so like remembering a dream you had long forgotten, there in the peripheral of your memory under a sheet of haze. It was cola ChapStick, and soft lips frozen against her own as Leah stilled. But it was different. Her lips weren’t moving under her own. They were unmoving, stock still much like her ex’s body against the cupboard. 

Fatin pulled back, just a few inches but enough that she could look up to unfocussed eyes. “Sorry, I assumed that…” 

Leah let out a puff of air in a slight state of shock. Then she was balling a hand in Fatin’s hair, rolling them so that it was now her back the wood of the cupboard was digging into. 

“Shit,” Her body was pressed against her own, Fatin slipping a hand into the rear pocket of Leah’s jeans as her tooth tugged on her own lip. 

That mouth was just as she remembered, so fucking intense as she slipped a tongue in meeting her own. It was years of separation and need piling into something they may regret by morning. But Fatin could not find it in herself to regret it now. It was almost how Leah had described Jeff all those years ago.

‘A burning building.’

Though, the key difference was she had no intention of wanting to ever get out, happy to be consumed by flames if it meant going down with Leah Rilke.

 


 

“We shouldn’t,” Leah started but cut herself off as Fatin grabbed her ass harder, giving in and finally ducking to suck a mark into Fatin’s neck. 

The sting of it had her head dropping back, hips rolling to no avail. 

Leah seemed to notice, slipping a thigh between Fatin’s legs. Her cotton shorts provided nothing of a barrier between her and the skin of her friend's thigh as she rolled again, Leah moaning when she felt her using her. 

“Fuck,” 

It had been too fucking long. Fatin wasn’t sure how they wasted months before this. Years. 

Lips slipped away from claiming her skin fleetingly.

“Fatin, we don’t have to do this.” 

“I want to.”

Leah pulled her own lip between her teeth as she paused, gnawing on it in worry as she always did. “I’ve got you if you want this to happen. But if you don’t, we can just pretend like it didn’t, or slow down. I can walk out, or we could watch a film. We could make tacos; Toni grabbed some groceries earlier.” Leah was giving her a much-appreciated out that neither of them would ever consider taking.

“Hey,” Fatin gripped her face between her fingers, trying to alleviate the worry there. “I’m fine if you’re fine. I want this, but only if you do too, Rilke.” 

“I do. Want this. I mean, if you’re like sure about… you know. That.” 

Fatin nodded as she nipped at her earlobe, resting her lips against her ear before speaking low. “Leah, please just make me come.” 

She moaned at that, her hands guiding Fatin into a steady, tight roll against her thigh. She sighed as she felt herself gliding, the bare skin of Leah’s thigh now sticky against her. “Don’t you dare make me come on your leg like a fucking high schooler.” She had in fact, come like this with Leah before. In high school. It’s not that she was against dry-humping, that shit was underrated, however after not having Leah for years? No, she wanted to be wooed to some degree and this felt trashy even for her.

Suddenly strong hands grabbed her thighs, lifting her until Fatin wrapped her limbs around her back. Her heart was in her stomach, heat pooling until Leah dropped her on the bed unceremoniously. “Ouch, you bitch.” 

There was that grin there she missed, one Leah smothered as she chewed on her cheek, looking at the damp spot on her shorts. “Can those come off?” 

She nodded, breath hitching as Leah stripped her. Fingers burned on her thighs as she looped them through the waistband, tugging her shorts and thong down in one. 

Then lips were meeting her own again, heavy and wanting as they tugged. Fatin gripped Leah’s shirt, easing it over her head before undoing her bra. God, she missed this. 

“You,” 'Are perfect' remained unsaid, but Fatin hoped she conveyed some of that lust when she took a nipple into her mouth, nipping at it before soothing it with her tongue. It had a heady effect on herself too, her skin tingling as Leah’s hand knotted in her hair, gently tugging her back to her chest when Fatin went to move, almost like she couldn’t bear to let go too soon. 

“Shit,” Leah arched into her, straddling her lap as she eventually pulled back, removing Fatin’s shirt and bra until she was naked beneath her. 

Whilst she had never been self-conscious she couldn’t help but feel such. Years had changed her, she had tattoos that weren’t there before. Piercings and slightly shorter hair. She wasn’t the overly confident bitch she was before, still a cocky shit, yes, but that confidence had been jostled and rocked in a way that left her now feeling slightly exposed as she blushed.

A hand slowly ran up her side, the backs of fingers tracing along her hipbone, ribs, then the side of her breast before coming to rest on her cheek. There was a look there that Fatin feared to analyse, one that she didn’t want to make too much out of only to be torn down again. She swallowed audibly, shuffling slightly against the pillows.

“Are you gonna give me that orgasm?” She teased, hoping to God that Leah would lose that intensity that made her stomach swoop. 

Though, instead, she quietly climbed off her, and Fatin immediately panicked that she’d said something wrong. Pushed her away again

“How do you feel about straps?” 

Oh. Fatin swallowed, throat dry as Leah came back from a draw with a harness dangling from her finger and a toy in the other. Didn’t dare think about who she’d homed in on those skills with if she owned such a thing.

“Yeah. Yes. I mean, I’m like, totally cool with that. Obvi.” 

She smiled, looking sexy as fuck as she dropped her own shorts and underwear, pulling it into place as the straps were pulled taught one by one. 

“Are you still okay with this?” 

“Please just touch me.” She groaned, erring on the painful side of horny that was slowly driving her mad. 

“Okay.” Leah pulled her hair back into a messy ponytail and then a head was dropping between her thighs without so much as a pause. 

Fatin’s jaw dropped as a tongue ran through her. Again it was familiar in a way so comforting that she immediately felt her legs falling open. 

“You’re so wet.” Leah stared up at her through thick lashes and the smile was gone, replaced with a look of awe Fatin’s breath hitched over. 

“Lee, please.” 

Leah’s brow rose, the nickname not really spoken in years hanging between them as fingers sunk into her, a mouth returning to where it was needed most. 

She felt the build-up approaching slow, Leah being far too leisurely in her approach as if she didn’t want Fatin to come just yet, fingers rocking into her at an antagonising pace. “Fuck, more.” 

“No.” Leah shook her head, the vibrations of the word tickling against her. “Come like this, then you can come again.” 

Who the fuck was this and what the fuck had she done with Leah Rilke? 

“Holy shit.” She bit back the need to ask her again for more, knowing Leah likely wouldn’t give it to her. Not yet. The girl was just seriously enjoying making her squirm, a third finger offering some relief as it slipped in, the pace never increasing as she nipped at Fatin’s inner thigh. 

Words were spoken against the flesh there, far too quiet for her to make out.

“What?” 

Leah never repeated herself, instead opting to push a tongue into her, making her shudder against her face. That was new. 

When Leah did return, the pace was still -fucking annoyingly- slow. But Fatin could feel herself clenching around the hand that languidly pumped into her. “Leah,” 

“There you go,” Leah encouraged, sucking her into her mouth as she finally let her come. 

Thighs tensed around her ears, her body shaking with a slow release that still left her feeling unfulfilled, like her orgasm was more for Leah’s pleasure than her own. It was good but short-lived, the moment over sooner than she would have liked.

As soon as her legs fell apart again, Leah was wiping her chin on the back of her hand. She stared at Fatin, bruised lips parted, breath coming heavy. 

“You’re so beautiful.” 

Fatin didn’t know what to say to that. Part of her wanted to yell ‘then why the fuck did you leave me?’ the other part wanted to cry, but another fucking loved it. Preened in a way that sent goosebumps across her skin. 

Before she could choose which reaction to voice Leah was grasping her by the backs of her thighs pushing them back towards her abs. Then something was there and oh. That was the something. 

“You good?” Leah asked. 

“So good.” 

Leah never once tore her gaze away as she slowly pressed in, watching her even as she bottomed out and Fatin’s head slumped back into the pillow. 

She let out an unrestrained, guttural moan at the sensation, praying none of the hoes were near to hear this and give Leah the third degree later over who the hell she was screwing like a porn star. Prayed even more that they wouldn’t recognise that moan as her own. 

“Please move your...” She was cut off by a mouth on her own, her hips rolling when Leah’s wouldn’t, attempting to take what they needed until Leah’s hand stilled them. “Lee,” She groaned against her mouth. Leah’s mouth again bit her lip, tugging rougher this time before moving to her ear. 

“I’ve wanted to do this for a while now.” She admitted, hips finally moving as Fatin clenched her eyes shut at the sensation. “You cuddle in your sleep, a lot.” She murmured, hips driving harder into Fatin’s own as she reached to ball the comforter in her grip. “The other morning, you were rocking against my thigh in your sleep, and I had to push you off gently, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Then I saw Adam, who I know I have no reason to hate but I do,” Hips pressed harder, taking Fatin’s breath away as she whined into Leah’s shoulder. “I was so jealous. And I know I had no right to be. But I just...” Leah breathed heavily, nipping at Fatin’s ear in a way that sent shivers through her. “I just wanted you. This.” 

Fatin didn’t want to analyse what she meant, not right now. Not when her mind was blurry with the feeling of being absolutely pounded into by Leah Rilke. Leah was now holding her shoulder and tugging downward as hips snapped up, meaning she was getting completely lightheaded at the sensation. 

God, it was good. It was so fucking good. 

“Take what you need,” Leah hummed. “You’re so good Fatin.”

Fatin moaned, dropping her own hand between her legs to circle her clit as Leah continued to push hard and fast. There was a repeated rhythm of ‘fuck’ and ‘Leah’ falling from her lips at this point. An endless cycle neither of them wanted to break. 

She felt it near, her body shaking as it approached. Her left hand dug into Leah’s back as the right continued between her legs, cries falling into Leah’s collarbone as she grew closer.

“Come for me.” 

“Leah,” 

Leah looked down, capturing her lips between her own briefly before pulling away and staring at her again with that god damn intensity. “Come.” 

Legs tensed around Leah’s back as she finally gave in. Tears dropped from her eyes as she trembled. “You’re so good Fatin. So fucking good. That’s it.” Leah repeated praise in her ear like a mantra, hips slowing to a softer roll as Fatin laid limply beneath her. 

She felt hands being gently pinned above her hair that was splayed over the pillow, Leah still rolling leisurely into her as her other hand not pinning her own moved to brush across her nipple. 

“Are you okay?” She checked in, noting the dampness on her cheeks. 

Fatin bit her lip, nodding. She was. There was just something about Leah that always made her feel too much; even if that much was loved and needed. Healing.

They continued like that for minutes, how many Fatin wasn’t entirely sure. All that she was aware of was the warm feeling of being delicately fucked after her high. The press of hips that left her breath coming hard and fast. 

Lips turned up and Leah was kissing the tears from her cheeks, her spare hand dropping between them lower as it gently circled her clit. 

Her hips cantered up, the sensation too much, too soon, and yet not enough as Leah slowly circled again and again. 

“Hey, look at me.” Leah prompted. “There you go. You should come again,” She whispered, fingers picking up speed. 

Fatin was tired, her body drained but chasing that orgasm that she wanted. 

Nodding, she felt her eyes closing as she focussed on the build, the feeling of Leah slowly pushing in, hitting just the right spot that had her legs quivering. It didn’t take long for the next to hit at all, her body shaking against Leah who still had her hands pinned above her head.

Faintly, she felt Leah pulling out, and heard the thud of the toy hitting the floor. 

After a couple of minutes, her eyes opened and her hand slipped between Leah’s legs until it was simply brushed away; Leah took the hand and wrapped it around her so that Fatin’s head rested on her chest. “Sleep.” 

“I want to,” She tiredly argued, eyes already slipping shut again. 

She felt the rumble of laughter as Leah’s chest jostled against her cheek. “You’re so fucking cute.” A hand began combing her hair, the other, underneath her, playfully pinching her ass. 

It was maybe ten minutes later, Fatin almost asleep when she heard it. “I love you.” 

She was too tired to think it was anything other than her imagination, though she sighed in comfort, slipping into a state of sleep as Leah held her. 

 

 


When she awoke again it was dark out. Leah was still running fingers through her hair as she read a book on her phone. That girl was always glued to some form of literature. Fatin missed it to the point that she had even read a handful of books herself to fill the void of the sight.

It did little to help the space left in her life.

“Hi,” Fatin mumbled groggily, wiping the sleep from eyes that she was sure was covered in mascara as Leah locked her phone. 

“Hey,” Leah’s voice was hoarse, croaky the way it was whenever Fatin woke up with her on the island. Perhaps she had been crying too at some point. 

“I should, uh,” Fatin looked around the room for her clothing. 

“Stay? It’s late.”

“I’m four doors up from you.” Fatin laughed. 

“I know.” Leah smiled, pulling her back by the hips as her nose nuzzled into her neck. “But it’s already morning, and you might wake Toni up.” 

Toni was a complete cunt if waken early in the morning to be fair to Leah. She stilled, weighing up her options.

Though, it was inevitable that she ended up dropping back into the bed, rolling over, and pulling Leah against her back. 

Leah sighed contently, pressing a kiss to her shoulder. 

They probably should have talked about this before falling into bed. 

Then again, they rarely did anything as they should. 

Fatin shifted restlessly, rolling to face Leah. 

“Hey,” Leah smiled, and Fatin found herself kissing her as she dropped a hand between Leah’s legs. “You don’t have to. I’m fine.” 

“I want to.” She supplied; words swallowed part way through as a mouth met her own. 

It wasn’t like when Fatin came. It wasn’t slow, sexy, and fucking world-breaking. 

It was a confined space, Leah too busy kissing her for Fatin to think of anything more. The one time she did break away to crawl lower Leah shook her head and pulled her lips straight back. 

When she came it was with a moan swallowed by Fatin. Trembling hips that stilled, Leah’s hand gripping her own when the sensation became too much. 

Leah breathed heavily against her neck, again muttering something she couldn’t hear. “Sleep.” She encouraged, holding Fatin in place where she laid on her, still palming Leah’s breast. 

“Fine,” Fatin whined. “You’re so bossy.” 

“Complain again and I can pick the strap right back up.” Leah joked.

Jesus. As tempting an offer as that was she was still exhausted.

“Night.” 

“Night.” Leah laughed into her hair, pressing a kiss there.