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that's what you used to call me, that's all i'll ever be

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Cindy sits on a ledge, catching her breath, watching the police haul away the latest pair of idiots who tried to hold up a corner store. A cool breeze washes over her, she leans back a bit, and the soreness sets in. The fatigue. That was the fifth attempted robbery since she left work.

 

She stays like that for a moment, letting the wind cool her down. Her eyes fall shut, and the realization of just how tired she is really sets in. Frankly, if idiots and corner stores is the caliber of what she’s dealing with tonight, maybe she can--

 

Silk-sense. 

 

She’s turned around before she really thinks to, hand outstretched and loosing a glob of webbing. But her focus isn’t on the web. 

 

It’s on the face deftly dodging it, not-really-hidden behind a domino mask and framed by stray white strands of hair. “You this friendly with everyone who drops by to chat?”

 

Cindy’s speechless. Caught somewhere between fear and surprise at the audacity. Where does she get off, just showing up like this after everything? What the hell does she expect me to do? Her first instinct is to bolt. Cat’s here for round two. Deep breath and her fingers tighten around the ledge. She almost does it. 

 

But she’ll just find her again, won’t she? There’s no escaping Black Cat, not really. 

 

“What… what do you want? I thought we were done.”

 

“I find ‘done’ to be such a… limiting term. You think I wasn’t done with our mutual friend in red before? That he wasn’t done with me? We had a little spat, is all.” She takes a step forward, and Cindy scoots away an inch.

 

  A little spat. Cindy can’t help but wonder if the Felicia thought it was a little spat when she beat the hell out of her for a cheering crowd. “What do you want , Cat?”

 

“I need your help.”

 

Straight to it, then. Fine. She manages to get her eyes off the Cat, and back onto the street below. It’d be so easy to jump. She could jump right now and be three blocks away in less than a minute. “What do you think I’m gonna say?”

 

“I think you’re gonna make a big scene because a nefarious villain has dared ask for your help, and we’ll have a big, dramatic, heartfelt argument about it. Maybe it’ll start raining, too, for good measure.” Two more steps forward, and she’s suddenly sitting at Cindy’s side. “But I’ve had enough of that to last me all nine lives. I’d rather you just said yes.”

 

And then she puts a hand on Cindy’s shoulder. It’s a familiar weight. It’s an almost comforting warmth. It sends her recoiling like she’s been shot. 

 

“What the fuck are you doing?” 

 

“You seemed upset. I thought I’d--”

 

“Thought you’d what? Flirt me into helping you?” Again? She manages to look back at Felicia, fixing her with her best accusatory glare.

 

Then their eyes meet, and doubt of her reaction shoots through her. 

 

“Silky-smooth, I was only…” She trails off. She seems shocked at the reaction. What did she think was going to happen? 

 

Cindy’s chest is roiling. It’s roiling with a sick mixture of wanting to snap and lash out and wanting to swing as far away as she can and wanting to throw herself at Felicia and do something reckless so she doesn’t have to deal with all this. She has to look away from the Cat before she throws up in her mask. “Don’t call me that. Please.” But her voice is oddly level. 

 

“Silk. I was--”

 

“I know what you were trying to do. I just… I can’t, alright?” Deep breath. Her shoulder still tingles. “I’m so goddamn tired and I can’t deal with you showing up and asking for help like nothing ever happened. I can’t deal with this right now, Cat. Alright? Maybe our mutual friend in red can be of more help. ” 

 

And without another word, she leaps off the edge. This is the right choice. I’m doing the right thing. 

 

It’s at least half an hour of aimless swinging before she’s home. She crashes into bed like a bag of rocks, having dragged herself more than walked to her room. Staring at the ceiling, she lets out a breath and lets it all crash onto her.

 

Black Cat. Felicia. Once employer, once friend, once...something else. But that’s over. It’s been over for months, now. So where the hell does Felicia get off showing up out of nowhere and asking for help? Why does she get to just move on?

 

And who does she think she is, putting her hands on Cindy like that? Like it hadn’t been two clenched fists and a bloodied knuckle for every hand held tightly in moments of panic. 

 

It's frustrating. Showing up like that, acting like everything's fine and dandy, that damn perfect face of hers. It's all so fucking frustrating.

 

Deep breath. It doesn’t matter. Felicia doesn’t get to ruin her evening just by showing up and being annoying for a few minutes. She’s better off just going to sleep and putting everything behind her.

 

She lets her head fall to the side, and notices something. A note, stuck to her nightstand. Against her better judgement, she reads it. 

 

offer still stands when u can deal

 

2 weeks 

 

She stares at it for a moment, reading it over and over. Then she lets out a deep sigh. God damn it, Felicia. 

 

-------------------------

 

Consider the cat. A graceful little creature, said to always land on its feet, no matter how nasty the fall. Does that extend to a falling out? Can it recover from falling out of favor with someone?

 

Felicia sighs and crashes into her chair. It's an amusing thought, but she can’t help but feel it’s just been answered. None too nicely, at that. And maybe she deserves as much. Maybe Silk was right, reacting to her the way she did. Maybe she went a little too hard on the poor girl.

 

No. No. Deep breath and a sip of whiskey. Everything she did to Silk, Silk had coming. She knows that much.

 

This was just business. She needed Silk's help. God forbid she try to smooth things over a little, so they don't go into the job all raw nerves and hurt feelings. 

 

But, with all that said, her heart still breaks a little when she thinks about how Silk reacted to her touch. How she looked at her. How she wouldn’t let her get a goddamn word out of her mouth. 

 

These things heal over time, don’t they? Burnt bridges can be rebuilt, fences can be mended. It’s a back-and-forth she’s done countless times with Peter. She doesn’t expect forgiveness, not really, but she wants them to be able to work together. Move on, just a little. Away from the raw nerves and hurt feelings. 

 

Well, whatever. Silk knows she has two weeks to change her mind. 

 

-------------------------

 

“--I mean, the nerve! Can you believe her?” 

 

“Yes.”

 

“Who does she think she is, barging in on me like that? Just asking for favors like we’re friends or something?”

 

“Are you not friends?”

 

She stops her pacing across the ceiling and stares at him for a second or two, unbelieving. “Do you remember how it was when she dumped me? I crawled here, beaten to hell and on the verge of tears, and passed out on your couch for fourteen hours?”

 

“Right. Sorry.”

 

Deep breath. She sits down (up?) and lets her shoulders drop. “Sorry if I’m testy. She really ticked me off with this.”

 

“I noticed.”

 

“Don’t be cute.” Another deep breath. “It’s just so infuriating . Showing up, acting like everything’s fine. Acting like I’ve already forgiven her!”

 

A leap, and Peter joins her on the ceiling. “So do you want my opinion?”

 

A moment or two of quiet. “Sure. You know her better than me. What should I tell her?”

 

“Well, I can’t decide that for you. But I can tell you, from experience, that if you truly and honestly wanted nothing to do with her you would’ve said no and forgotten about it within an hour. So I’ll ask you this.” He locks eyes with her. “Do you want to forgive her?”

 

Stunned silence. In four months, the thought of forgiveness hasn’t crossed her mind. Never occurred to her as an option. She was just… done with Felicia. All she could do was recover, move on, and avoid Felicia as best as she can for the rest of her life. “I don’t… I haven’t thought it.”

 

“No time like the present. But no pressure.”

 

“I mean… I don’t know! I miss what we had, but I thought I could try again with someone else. That’s how that works, doesn’t it?”

 

“You were gonna be a goon working for a different crime lord?”

 

“You know what I mean. It’s just… I don’t know if I can forgive her. I don’t know if she’s forgiven me.”

 

“Forgiveness is tricky. Especially with Felicia. But I think coming to you is a good sign.”

 

“Alright. Say I go to her. We work things out and live happily after. You want me to just go merrily along with whatever crime she’s committing?”

 

“Just talk to her. See if you can’t patch things over. Maybe talk her down from the crime thing.” 

 

A moment passes quietly. Can she do this? Would Felicia even give her the time of day with crime off the table? “I’ll… think about it.”

 

-----------------

 

“Window repair is expensive, y’know.” Silk stands in the center of a generous dusting of glass, staring straight at Felicia.

 

“You can afford it. And I didn’t feel like going through a building’s worth of your goons just to have a conversation.” A step forward, glass crunching under her heel. “If you’re still down to have one.”

 

“You have my number. You could’ve called ahead.” Felicia squints at her. “But I’m being petty. Have a seat.”

 

More crunching, then Silk is standing tantalizingly close. But still, separated by two feet of oak. “I feel like standing.” A moment’s silence. “I’m not helping you pull whatever it is you’re going to pull. I’m done with that. But if you meant what you said, wanting to patch it over, kiss and make up? Fine. Let’s talk about our feelings like goddamn adults.”

 

Deep breath. So she’s going to be like that. “I’d like that. I really would. I miss you.” And a step back. Reel it in. “But I’m in the middle of planning a job. I don’t have time to be a goddamn adult. You feel like talking, come see me in two weeks.”

 

“God, you’re insufferable.” And now she’s turning around. Wait, is she leaving? Felicia didn’t mean for her to leave. “Let the record show that I tried. I extended an open olive palm or whatever.” Yeah, she’s leaving.

 

Felicia’s caught between emotions. She doesn’t have time for this outburst, for this drama, for feelings , but…It’s Silk. It’s Silk. Claw digs into wood. “Silk.” Does she know where she’s going with this?

 

Doesn’t matter. Silk doesn’t stop. 

 

“Cindy.” 

 

That was a mistake.

 

Silk stops. Stops, but doesn’t turn around. Okay.

“Look, I want to talk. I do. But I don’t have time. Come back when I’m done. I promise we’ll talk.”

 

Silence. Loaded silence. She can see Silk’s fists clench, just a bit. 

 

“What? What more do you want?”

 

Now Silk turns around. Sharply, on her heel. “I want--” They clench tighter. “Never mind. Not like you’d listen.”

 

It gives Felicia pause. When did Silk pick up this manipulative, guilt-trippy streak? Probably from me. “I’m--”

 

“Save your apologies. I know you don’t mean them.” She turns back around. “And save your promises, too.”

 

And with that, she’s out the window. 

 

Felicia lets out a breath. Stupid. Just… stupid. 

 

------------------------------

 

Where did Cindy slip up? When did Felicia figure her out? Was it ever a secret at all? Was she just making an idiot of herself for months, thinking she had a secret to protect? 

 

And where does Felicia get off, just dropping it on her like that? Who does that? Like she can hold Cindy’s own name over her head like some trump card. God, that woman is insufferable. 

 

But it’s her fault. She knows that much. She let it slip somewhere, or she didn’t cover her tracks well enough, or or or or-- she can’t think about it too long. Or she’ll scream or start crying or maybe both. 

 

God. Leave it to Felicia fucking Hardy to ruin your afternoon with one word. 

 

Whatever. No use thinking about it now, is there? Spilled identities and all. 

 

Cindy wishes she’d have let loose. She wishes she’d have told Felicia exactly what more she wanted, in explicit and excruciating detail. Raised her voice, got heated, tore her mask off, walk right up to Felicia’s face, grab her somewhere she’d feel, and--

 

Deep breaths. That’s over. It’s been over for so long now. It’s over and goddammit, she misses it. She misses Felicia. 

 

Maybe she should’ve told her that. Maybe if she wasn’t so caught up in her stupid anger they could’ve actually talked about it. 

 

Her chest is roiling again. Her head is spinning, flinging between regret and anger and numbness and anger and nostalgia and anger and yearning and just plain missing her and and and and and-

 

Stop. This won’t lead her anywhere good. Just…breathe. Slowly and deeply. 

 

Cindy lets herself drop, sprawling on her bed. It’s too late for any of that now. Too late to do anything but sit around, waiting for the numbness set in again. Wait to forget about it again, until Felicia deigns to pop in unannounced with demands once more.

 

Her head falls to the side. She’s just gonna fall asleep and in the morning she can stress herself out about something else. Felicia’s gonna do her crime, either get away with it or not, and it won’t be Cindy’s problem.

 

Her eyes fall shut. She lets out a breath.

 

And when she opens her eyes, they fall on the note. That stupid fucking note. 

 

She can’t do it. She can’t let go. She wants to let go, more than anything in the world she wants to be able to let go, but she can’t. There’s too much unsaid, too much still raw and hurt. 

 

So what now? Go crawling back to Felicia? Agree to whatever scheme she’s brewing and be someone else’s hired muscle again?

 

No. No, she’s done with that.

 

She keeps staring at the note. So much said with nine measly words. 

 

God, this is exhausting. Exhausting and stressful and aggravating and and and-

 

Okay. She can’t let go. She won’t rejoin. So what now? What’s left?

 

Deep breath in, deep sigh out. Peter’s words echo in her head. Talk her down from the crime thing. Talking. Talking feels like it should be so easy. You go in so sure of what you want to say, all planned out in neat little bullet points. Then she says something you didn’t account for, and you go off-script, it gets all gummed up with feelings, then-

 

Thinking in circles isn’t getting her anywhere. Neither will talking. So what can she do?

 

She can stop Felicia. 

 

Can she stop Felicia? Can she put a stop to whatever insane scheme the Cat has cooking? On her own? Do I have to do it on my own? What’s stopping her from calling Peter or Miles or the million other people who’d come if she asked?

 

No. No, this has to be hers. Felicia has to know it was her. Both of them have to know it was her. 

 

--------------------------

 

Felicia’s fingers brush over where her claws marked the desk. Stupid, that was. Good oak, scarred forever because she couldn’t make a decision. But scarred wood can be covered up, polished over, replaced. Scarred emotions are trickier. 

 

Silk coming back on board is out the window. Felicia knows that much. Back on the job or… otherwise back. Another stupid decision on Felicia’s part, dropping her name like some trump card. What was she hoping to accomplish? 

 

So what now? The answer feels obvious. She should move ahead. It’s not like Silk was vitally integral to the plan. She was a convenience. 

 

No, that’s not the right word. She feels awful just thinking it. A vacuum cleaner is a convenience. Silk is… something else. She can’t quite put a name to it, but it’s wrong to call Silk a convenience.  

 

In any case, she should just move ahead. 

 

And yet she finds herself reluctant to. It’s silly. It’s a silly thing to get hung up on. But even if she doesn’t necessarily need Silk, she wants her there. Stupid again. She would’ve stayed behind anyway.

 

Unless you asked her to come.

 

But thinking in hypotheticals doesn’t help anyone. The fact is, Silk’s gone. Gone and angry at Felicia. Rightfully so, but I don’t have to like it. Trying to get her back now would probably only make things worse. 

 

So she should move ahead. Silk or no Silk. She can just get a suit somewhere else. Hell, she’s got at least three tailors on call right now.

 

And sure, she’d have to get measured , for all the poking and prodding and measuring tape cinching around her thigh without warning that entails, and sure, she’d much rather have Cindy’s warm hands run all over her, pausing for the briefest moment on every old scar, slowly enshrouding her in fresh silk,  but…where was she going with this line of thought again?

 

God. Fucking Silk. No one can throw your whole evening off with just a few words quite like those damn spiders. 

 

Like, what the fuck does she know? Why does she get to just decide what Felicia means or doesn’t mean by her apology? The arrogance !  

 

And yet… she can’t help but wonder. Did she mean it? Was she sorry? Does she even know what she was supposed to be sorry for? Or was she trying to put a band-aid on a slashed artery?

 

She doesn’t know. She can’t know. Thinking about it too long gives her a headache. Whatever. 

 

Silk’s gonna try and get in her way again, she can guess as much. Or she’ll go running to Peter. Not that Felicia can really blame her, of course. If anything, she’s got only herself to blame.

 

Fine. Not like it’d be the first time she got out from under a spider’s nose. Worst case scenario, they make her put it back. 

 

Would’ve been nice to get away with it cleanly, though. Would’ve been even nicer to have Silk back. Lord help her, she might be missing the little wretch.

 

--------------------

 

The jacket itches. She borrowed a suit from Rafferty and the damn thing is two sizes too big and the jacket itches. But she’s distracting herself, thinking about the jacket.

 

It’s stressful. Trying to figure out just what it is Felicia’s trying to steal, navigating through this crowd, worrying about running into Felicia before she’s good and ready for it, the week and a half of stress and worry and planning and backup-planning and--

 

It’s stressful. The culmination of it all. Cindy hasn’t actually done anything yet, but she already feels about ready to collapse. But she can’t. Not until she’s stopped… whatever this is.

 

It’s stupid. It’s silly. It’s silly to get so stressed about it. She’s stopped a dozen art robberies before, how’s this one any different? What’s so special about about the Black Cat?

 

And despite knowing all that, she’s still nervous. There’s still a knot in her stomach so big she feels it in her throat. Her fists still clench and her teeth still grind. And it’s not because of the Black Cat. It’s because of Felicia. 

 

She can stop a criminal from robbing a museum. It’s easy, really. The problem was Felicia, and the way she gets in your head, and the way she plays with your feelings, and exploits your feelings, then pulls you close enough to think you’re really in, then--

 

She pinches her thigh. Enough of that. Stay focused, stay on target. 

 

Would help if she knew what the target is, of course. The most she managed to scrape off the street was that Felicia was targeting this museum, and even that was a little shaky. There’s that feeling again, that nagging list of everything she could’ve done to better prepare. Hell, she should’ve just agreed to help Felicia then turn on her.

 

Right. Because that would totally work again. She’s not even totally convinced it worked the first time. 

 

She can’t see this going well. Part of her wants to leave and call someone else, maybe even just let Felicia get away with whatever this is. It’s a tempting thought.

 

But she can’t. She won’t.

 

Deep breath. You can do this.

 

------------------------

 

Felicia hates art shows. So annoyingly fancy and so incredibly dull. The incessant hum of the crowd around her, chattering on about colors or whatever. Insufferable. Would it kill them to at least have music? 

 

But whatever. She’s not here to have fun. And until the boys have everything set up, she’s stuck making nice to these rich idiots.

 

The outfit doesn’t help. Hardly off the peg, but it’s still off. The way the lining brushes her shoulders as she moves, the barely-there itch in the crease of her elbow. Subtle, insufferable little flaws. Not to mention the ridiculous brown wig. Silk would’ve done a better job. Silk would’ve--

 

No. No, she can’t think about Silk right now. No climbing out of that rabbit hole. 

 

It’s easy to think about Silk, though. Easy to think about how she would’ve cracked her dumb jokes on the drive here, about how useful an extra pair of hands would be with this, how she’d keep her company through this mind-numbing event.

 

But she can’t think about Silk right now. Fuck, she misses Silk.

 

Whatever. She’ll deal with that when this is done. She meant what she told Cindy. She’d reach out once this was done. She has to, otherwise the guilt would keep eating at her until she went insane. 

 

Or maybe guilt was the wrong word for it. Maybe she just feels stupid for slipping up with her name. Maybe she only feels bad because Cindy made her feel bad. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. She’s gonna talk to her after this, no matter-- Ah, nuts.

 

There she is, just wandering around. Looking nervous. Looking so damn precious. In her little suit, with her little tie, and her cute little shoes, and--

 

Stop. Not the time for that. Why is she here? Felicia almost tells herself it’s a coincidence, Cindy’s just here to appreciate some art, but she knows better. Cindy doesn’t even like art. 

 

No, she isn’t dealing with Cindy. This is Silk. Fine.

 

Part of her wants to just go at her, nip this in the bud. Vent a little. But that’ll cause a scene, get security involved…no. Too risky, too stupid. She’s gonna be an adult about it.

 

So she saunters over, slowly but with purpose, until she’s right next to Silk. Close enough to smell her perfume. “Appreciating some art?” She can practically see Silk tensing up. “Or is this business?” Her tone is playful. She doesn’t feel playful.

 

-------------------

 

First instinct is to fight. Kick Felicia’s knee out, sock her in the jaw, do something. Cindy almost does it, too.

 

But that’s a caught-off-guard response. And it would cause a scene. And most likely get them both kicked out. No, she needs to act like she planned for this.

 

So through a clenched jaw and immense nerves, she forces out “Call this off, Felicia.” She tries putting a bit of authority into her voice. She can hear she didn’t succeed.

 

Call this off? ” Felicia leans closer. Cindy can feel her breath on her ear, moving her hair ever-so-gently. “How delightfully cliche. Call this off and then what, go back to my quiet civilian life? C’mon, Silky-smooth--”  

 

Don’t call me that.”

 

“Silk. Sorry.” A pause. “Why are you here, Silk? Gonna try to talk me down from this? Make me see the light of reason?”

 

Deep breath. Be the bigger person. Don’t take her bait. Don’t be an idiot. And exhale. “Your wig looks stupid.” And walk away. She can feel Felicia staring daggers into the back of her neck. Good.

 

She ducks into a bathroom, catching her breath. God, her heart feels like it’s about to leap out of her throat. But that’s normal for talking to an ex, right? Just nerves. Dr. Sinclair would disapprove, calling it just nerves, but she has to calm herself down somehow .

 

A few more moments of breathing, leaning on a sink and staring at the drain, until she finally feels somewhat operational. Okay. Game plan. 

 

She can’t just jump Felicia. Not while she has that stupid wig on, anyway. Silk can’t be seen attacking some random lady. But she can’t wait until Felicia already has whatever she’s after, right? That just feels like poor planning. Maybe she can time it right, watch Felicia and move in 

 

Maybe she should call Peter. He’s done this God-knows-how-many times with Felicia, and--

 

No. No. This has to be hers. She has to figure this out on her own, otherwise… 

 

God almighty, why is she doing this? Deep breath. And exhale. Whatever. She’ll figure that out later.

 

Forgetting that she hasn’t really formed a plan yet, Cindy heads out of the bathroom, full of newfound-if-shaky determination. To her surprise, she finds herself eye-to-eye with Felicia when she opens the door. Without thinking about it, she squeals and punches Felicia in the nose.

 

She hears the blood drip on the floor and her brain kicks back in. Holy fuck, she just punched Felicia in the nose. Probably broke the damn thing. Now her brain’s in overdrive, going in a million directions at once, trying to decide what to do. Apologize, call for a first aid kit, see if she’s alright, maybe just run.

 

She ends up awkwardly putting a hand on Felicia’s shoulder, not really sure what she’s trying to do. Deep breath, and--

 

Silk-sense. 

 

Her body reacts before she does, the claws only grazing her nose instead of taking the whole thing off. Felicia looks up at her, wild-eyed and bloody-mouthed. “God damn it, Silk, I came in here to apologize. But if that’s how you wanna play this, fine by me.”

 

Then Felicia lunges at her, before Cindy can get a breath out. She manages to sidestep it, and from that point it’s all instinct and reflex. Throw the door shut, lock it, snap back to Felicia. duck, dodge, divert. Playing defensive, trying not to anger Felicia more than she already managed.

 

It’s hard to keep up, of course. She’d almost forgotten how damn fast Felicia can be.

 

But Felicia’s fighting… differently. Not sloppy, heavens forbid, but less controlled. No grace, no showiness to it. All emotion, little finesse. Fighting angry, fighting reckless, like she got caught off-guard and making up for it.

 

A claw almost catches her eye, and she snaps back to the fight. “Felicia, stop. You know you’re being stupid.”

 

-----------------------

 

This sucks. Felicia’s head is still swimming, her nose still hurts and the smell of copper is sickening, her makeup is probably ruined with sweat and blood, and Silk won’t make a fucking move. It’s all dodge, divert, duck. Smart, but fucking annoying.

 

Especially because Silk started this damn fight, with an infuriatingly cheap shot to boot. So why won’t she do anything? Why won’t she respond?

 

Felicia knows she’s off her game right now. She knows she got caught like a chump and probably fighting like it. Fighting sloppy, like a goddamn amateur. Like the idiots she used to put away with Peter.

 

She just wanted to apologize. She’s not even sure for what, still. But that’s all she wanted. And where did that get her? Flailing and grunting like a child throwing a tantrum, constantly missing Silk by less than a hair. When did she get so damn quick?

 

“Stop. Please.”

 

 Felicia doesn’t catch Silk’s face, but her voice sounds sincere enough.

 

“Stop? You started it!” She mutters between swipes.

 

Silk’s brow furrows. Now she has the nerve to be angry?

 

“If you’d just fucking LISTEN!” and she socks Felicia across the jaw, knocking her to the floor. Jesus Christ. It hurts, to be certain, but more than that it’s shocking. Where did that come from?

 

“I panicked when I saw you, alright? Sorry.” Silk’s looking down at her now. She doesn’t like it. “Sorry I punched you. Twice. This has been exhausting and frankly, painful, so I’m gonna go tell security what you’re up to.” She takes a breath. “Okay? Are we calm? Good. See you around.”

 

And she turns around. She’s leaving, again. Felicia quickly drags herself to sit upright, leaning against the cool tile wall. “You don’t know what I’m up to.”

 

It worked. Silk turns around, finger pointed and clearly mad. “You--” then she takes a breath. “No. I’m not letting you provoke me.” And back toward the door. Nuts.  

 

Felicia watches her walk away. She should say something. She feels like she has to say something, but she doesn’t know what she wants to happen.

 

Silk’s hand is at the doorknob. Last chance, say something now.  

 

kuh-klunk

 

“You locked it, silly.” Not what she wanted to say. Not by a long shot.

 

Silk doesn’t respond, but Felicia knows she’s at least a little bit under her skin. Now she goes for the handle, and panic pulses through Felicia. But her hand hovers, and her head tilts

 

Then she picks something off the floor, something small and metallic. The lock handle. She tore it off with her stupid spider-strength.

 

Silk turns back towards her, slow and measured movement. Like she’s talking to a wounded animal. “Okay. don’t panic.”

 

Felicia stands up, tensing a bit. “You locked us in here, like a damn idiot might I add, and I’m supposed to do what? Sit quietly until you rip the door off its hinges? Thank you afterward?”

 

“I’m not doing that.” Silk starts pacing around the room, the cut on her nose leaving a trail on the floor. “I’ll call someone, alright? Someone has to manage this gallery.”

 

“Whatever.” She sits back down while Cindy starts shouting at the door, now staring at the puddle her nose has been making. God, what a mess of a day. She just wanted to steal a fucking painting, and what does she get?

 

But she’s got no one to blame but herself. Her fault for reaching out to Cindy, setting this whole stupid thing in motion. Maybe she she should’ve left the past dead and buried. Maybe she should’ve never let Silk gp in the first place, all those months ago.

 

Thankfully, this line of thought is interrupted when Cindy sits next to her, her suit jacket now discarded on the floor. Shoulder to bare shoulder. 

 

“Take your wig off. It’s still stupid.”

 

With half a chuckle, Felicia pulls off the wig. She’s almost forgotten the damn thing in all the excitement. It joins Cindy’s jacket. “So? You manage to flag anyone down?”

 

Cindy chuckles, which worries Felicia. “You’re gonna love this.”

 

“Am I now?”

 

“Maintenance can’t get us out without busting the door down, so they’re calling a locksmith.”

 

“And this is the part I love?”

 

“Should take him about forty-five minutes to get here.”

 

It takes a second, then clicks. “Oh my god.”

 

“I know!”

 

They sit and laugh for a good while, laugh like neither of them had in two weeks at least. Laugh until Felicia feels a bit drunk.

 

Energy slowly drops, they catch their breath, then sit in silence for another moment, and Felicia realizes how incredibly awkward this is once it’s done being funny. How the hell do you fill forty-five minutes with someone you beat to hell and left in a dumpster? Make small talk? Talk about the weather?

 

------------------------------------

 

This sucks. It sucks beyond measure. It’s awkward and tense and uncomfortable. Cindy feels like she’s running ridiculously hot, even without the stupid itchy jacket. She has no idea what to do, what to say, how to fill forty-five minutes with dredging up painful memories for both of them.

 

But they can’t sit in silence for that long. That’s even worse, at least to Cindy. So, starts small. “Your hair looks nice in a bun.”

 

And Felicia undoes it, letting it drape her shoulders. Great going, Cin. “It was for the stupid wig.”

 

Nerves shoot through Cindy. Was she too mean about it? Does Felicia care that much about it? “Hey, I’m sorry if--”

 

“Relax, kid, I’m just fucking with you.” Her voice is dry and monotone. She’s bored, now that their little moment has passed. What a privilege it must be, to be bored instead of so full of nerves your hands are almost vibrating.

 

This hurts. They used to be able to talk and talk and talk for hours, more than once spending entire nights around a box of noodles, just talking. What happened?

 

Well, she knows what happened. But is the divide really that big? That impossible to bridge? She’s being silly. Of course it is. Of course they can’t just get back into the swing of it. She knows better than to blame herself at this point, and it’s not really Felicia’s fault. It was just…one of those things. One of those things that suck incredibly hard for no reason and hurt forever.

 

“Silk?” Felicia snaps her out of this line of thought, nudging her shoulder. “You look a little out of it. Everything alright?”

 

“Like you care.”

 

Felicia pouts at her, then flinches when her nose reminds her it’s broken. “That’s not fair. Just because we had an ugly falling out doesn’t mean--”

 

“I’m not having this argument with you right now.” She wants to sound level and confident. “Or I’ll start fucking crying. Alright?”

 

Felicia’s face softens, as much as she can all bloody and broken, and strokes a stray bit of hair out of Cindy’s eye. To her own surprise, she doesn’t stop her. “Answer my question. Are you alright?”

 

Is that…concern? What does she care how Cindy’s doing? It’s weird and foreign and so nostalgic Cindy almost starts crying. “I just… what do you want me to say? Do you want me to say I’m fine so you don’t have to worry about it? Do you want me to break down in tears for you? What do you want?”

 

And silence. Regret immediately sets in. That was stupid. She should’ve kept her idiot mouth shut. 

 

“I want… I want things to be somewhat alright. Is that so heinous?” Her voice is so soft. It’s weird. Almost upsetting.

 

Deep breath. Don’t snap at her again. Don’t yell. “You never apologized.”

 

“What, for being weird to you in the gallery? That’s what I came here to--”

 

“For beating me half to death and leaving me in a dumpster, for an audience, you self-absorbed idiot.”

 

Felicia stares at her for a few seconds, apparently stunned. “You deserved that.” Quiet, and noticeably less soft.

 

“Of course I deserved that!” Cindy gets up now, once again looking down at Felicia. “No one’s saying I didn’t! That doesn’t mean you get to just butt back into my life like nothing happened! You don’t get to just ask me to join back in with you like we’re all good! You just don’t get to pull that shit! You don’t get to use my real-person name like some sort of trump card! God, Felicia, I’m not some puppet you get to do whatever you want to with no consequences!” 

 

Her voice echoes between the tiles for a bit. She hates yelling, hates venting to-- at people out of nowhere. But she feels lighter now. Less tense. “Just a little guilt. A little decency.”

 

Felicia looks at the floor for a second, fascinated with her reflection in her own blood. “I wanted to. I did. I meant what I said, that we’d talk after this job. I wanted to make things right, but you never let me.” 

 

Pause. Breath. 

 

“And I don’t appreciate that empty promises shit, by the way. You don’t get to decide what I mean or don’t mean by what I say. That’s some bullshit Peter would try on me before we really knew each other, and it ended bad for both of us. You don’t get to say that about me, not where we stand right now.”

 

 Cindy sits back down, mouth hanging slightly open. Does she say something now?

 

“And all I wanted was an outfit. It would’ve taken you a minute to make.”

 

“And you couldn’t just say that?”

 

“We were both in emotionally weird places, alright?”

 

“Sure.” 

 

And now they both sit in silence for a bit. Processing. 

 

-----------------------------

 

A few minutes had passed like that. Sitting quietly, trying not to look at each other. It’s awkward and it sucks, but Felicia knows neither of them is up for conversation right now. 

 

God, that’s a lot to process. The guilt is eating at her harder than ever now, because she knows Cindy’s right. She shouldn’t have tried that stupid water-under-the-bridge bit. This whole thing would’ve gone so much smoother.

 

Man, that’s gross to think. She’s a little disgusted with herself for still thinking about it like that. It’s baked into her to think like that at this point, but still… eugh.

 

A few more minutes. It gets less awkward, more…comfortable, somehow. Silently enjoying each other’s company, letting the energy drop slowly. Felicia lets herself unwind a bit, letting tension leave her as she unclenches everything.

 

Cindy breaks the silence first. “Cat?”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“I’m sorry I said that about your promises. But you really pissed me off with the name thing.”

 

Felicia chuckles softly. “Yeah, that was stupid. I’m sorry about that. I regretted it before you even left, if that helps.” Deep breath. “And I’m sorry about…everything. You didn’t deserve me butting into your life like that, trying to order you around. Leaving notes in your apartment.”

 

“Yeah. Don’t do that again.”

 

Deep breath. You can do this you can do this you can do this. “I’m sorry for how I treated you, way back when. I can’t say you didn’t deserve it, but I am sorry. And I’m sorry for trying to just gloss over it. I hate dealing with feelings.”

 

Something warm drops on her shoulder. Is Cindy-- Cindy’s crying. Not loudly, not ugly-crying, just a few tears. Rolling down her cheeks silently. When did Cindy rest her head on Felicia’s shoulder? Since when are they that comfortable with each other?

 

It doesn’t matter. Cindy picks herself up as soon as Felicia notices. “Cat.” 

 

“Cindy.” The name feels weird coming out of her mouth. 

 

If it bothered her, Cindy doesn’t show it. “I don’t think we’re ever going to fully heal whatever this is. I can’t un-betray you, you can’t un-beat me up. That’s always gonna be there.” And she stops. Panic shoots through Felicia for a second -- is that the whole takeaway from this?

 

“But I think I’m ready to try and move on. I need some time away from you, once we get out of this fucking bathroom, but maybe hit me up in a few months? If you need an outfit for a job?”

 

Now Felicia’s crying. Goddammit. “Sure.” And on impulse, she kisses Cindy. It hurts her nose, but she doesn’t care. She needs to get this out of her. Her arms wrap around Cindy’s back, pulling her closer. Their tears mix together. 

 

They stay pressed together after they unlatch, sharing each other’s warmth, gently swaying to music neither of them can hear.

 

Then they’re interrupted by the sound of someone drilling through a lock, a sound Felicia is more than familiar with. She lets go of Cindy and shakes the softie off, then makes her way to the door just as it clicks open. “See you around, Silky-smooth.”