It’s with a high pitched laugh and a pain in her abs that she’s never felt before that Rebecca decides this is too entirely impossible and strange to even be happening.
She’s never laughed this hard before because her life has never been something to laugh about, and she’s never had friends to make jokes with. It’s completely abnormal and strange and deluded and every other word that’s the opposite of “good” and “normal”, but she’s finding that “good” and “normal” isn’t exactly in her vocabulary, anyway.
The truth of the matter is though, that if you had told her a month ago that she, Rebecca Sutter, would be best friend with Lila Stangard, the ultimate stereotype of “preppy, rich college student who everyone wants to fuck”, she would’ve laughed in your face and asked you what you were smoking so she could get some, too. Because honestly, the probability of a friendship like that occurring would’ve been implausible. And yet here she is with Lila Stangard laying right next to her, both of them high as hell and laughing at god only knows what because Rebecca sure as hell doesn’t.
Lila’s laughter is contagious. She laughs, Rebecca laughs. It’s like she’s a dog in a way. Dogs always have this strange way of being able to tell when their owner is sad, so they walk up to you with their tail in between their legs all sad and nuzzle you and lick your face to make you feel better, and if you’re happy, they’re happy, too. Okay, so maybe Rebecca doesn’t nuzzle Lila and lick her face, but still…Lila’s sad, she’s sad. Lila’s happy, she’s happy. Lila’s laughing, she’s laughing.
It’s fucking contagious and she hates every second of it but she does not hate Lila Stangard.
Two months ago, that statement would’ve been incorrect, but not entirely untrue. Rebecca hates anyone before she even meets them. It’s just how she is. But two months ago, she did not know Lila Stangard, and Lila Stangard had not exactly given her a great first impression. Rebecca had already had to deal with three bar fights that night (all involving guys who were pretty much dick measuring by throwing glasses at each other), and four guys pinching her ass. Looking up at the clock on the wall to only see the numbers one and thirty looking back at her had made her entire head pound with anger and revulsion. Her shift didn’t end till three, so she still had to put up with an hour and a half of this bullshit, and it looked like a fourth fight was about to break out by the bar. If a single glass shard touched her, she’d have been knocking heads with no exception.
And then Lila Stangard had sauntered up to the bar and had just stared at her with this knowing smirk on her face. And Rebecca had tried her best to ignore her, but by the time two thirty had rolled around, Lila was still sitting there and still watching her, so Rebecca had walked up to her boss and told him she was leaving early. He looked like he’d been about to complain, but Rebecca had sped out of there before he could get a single syllable of her name out. The wind had been cold and Rebecca had shrugged her jacket closer, and tried her best to ignore the clacking heels behind her. Rebecca growled and spun to find herself face to face with this redheaded bitch who was now her best friend and had shouted at her to stop stalking her and Lila had raised her hands in surrender, still with that stupid smirk on her face and had said simply “I’m not stalking, loser, I just wanna buy. And possibly get into selling…if you’re interested in having me as a partner?” And just like that, Rebecca Sutter had become Lila Stangard’s drug dealer.
Of course, most people don’t strike up friendships with their dealers. Life isn’t Pineapple Express, that shit just doesn’t fucking happen. But somehow, Lila Stangard, in her perfect world, seems to think that she can strike a friendship with Rebecca Sutter the second time she swings by the bar for another fix and another round of begging to get into selling drugs. And for some stupid fucking insane reason, Rebecca Sutter gets roped into it. And suddenly…shit, life is like Pineapple Express and Lila is best friends with her fucking drug dealer and they’re partners in this whole mess.
Somehow, Rebecca is roped into giving Lila her address when Lila tells her after her third fix that meeting at the bar is getting boring and she wants a change of scenery. Lila tells her the sorority she lives in (Rebecca remembers scoffing and shaking her head, because a) how in the hell did this happen? And b) there’s no fucking way she’s going to a sorority house to give drugs to this loser), and the next day, Lila is knocking on her door and walking in like she owns the place, that stupid grin plastered on her face.
“What the fuck are you doing here? I gave you some coke yesterday, don’t tell me you sold it all?” Rebecca had asked incredulously.
“Of course not, I just wanted to hang out with you.” Lila says matter of factly.
Of course, in Lila’s eyes, they’d been friends since day one, but Rebecca had never had anyone come to her house just to “hang”. But Lila Stangard was not her friend. At least she didn’t consider her one. Not until she found herself in front of her sorority house knocking on the door because she was bored and thought to herself ‘let’s see what Lila’s doing’. She found herself face to face with some blonde girl whose nose continued to grow more wrinkled in disgust as she took in Rebecca’s appearance, from her dishevelled hair, to her dark make up, to her nose and labret piercing, all the way down to her worn out black boots. Rebecca had barely gotten out the words “I’m looking for Lila Stangard” before Lila had come barrelling through with a growl of “about time you came here” and had grabbed her hand and raced her upstairs. Rebecca doesn’t remember much about that night, except that there was a lot of pink everywhere and a lot of laughing. And a lot of weed, too.
And now, two months later, they’re here. And Rebecca is wiping tears of mirth from her eyes as Lila grins and chuckles a little to herself.
“I never even thought it was possible for that nut-job to streak.” Rebecca chokes out, still chuckling.
“Yeah, well…I dared her so…she had to.” Lila says, turning to face Rebecca and raising her eyebrow with a grin.
“So when you dare someone to do something, they have to do it?” Rebecca asks, grinning.
“Of course!” Lila says in shock, her eyes wide. Rebecca chuckles and wipes another tear leaking out of the corner of her eye as she looks up at the sky. The stars are unnaturally bright tonight, and Rebecca isn’t sure why. It’s usually hard to see the stars at all because of the lights from the city, which pisses Rebecca off to no end. She actually enjoys looking at the stars every once in a while.
“Hey, can I ask you something?” Lila says suddenly, her words slurring a little.
“Mmm…” Is Rebecca’s only response.
“If you give me drugs…who gives you drugs?” She asks. Rebecca chews her labret piercing and shrugs. Two months of this crap and NOW Lila asks how Rebecca gets her drugs?
“Some guy who gets it off another guy who probably gets it off another guy. It’s all a bunch of guys doing guy things…and drugs.”
“And you’re the one girl in the mix?” Lila suddenly looks at her with wide eyes. Rebecca raises an eyebrow.
“You’re helping me sell, aren’t you?” Lila rolls her eyes.
“I know that, loser, but you told me from day one I wasn’t allowed to get directly involved! So technically I don’t count.” Rebecca laughs and sighs before shrugging.
“No, I’m probably not the only girl. But I’m not exactly in the inner circle, I’m a lackey. I don’t care, I just do it for the money. And the drugs.” Rebecca states, sighing and picking at a spot on her cropped shirt which exposes her entire navel. Lila simply nods, looking up at the sky with her unnaturally blue/green eyes wide. It’s silent for a few moments and Rebecca’s waiting for Lila to say whatever’s on her mind because really, it’s been two months and she’s pretty sure she knows Lila more than she knows herself…
“Ugh…What do I do about Griffin?” Lila says, sighing.
There it is. Rebecca thinks, grinning. Rebecca shrugs, hiding her grin.
“He’s your crazy religious nutcase of a boyfriend, not mine.”
“You could at least help me figure something out!” Rebecca snorts.
“I’m a drug dealing piece of shit who has no idea what she’s doing with her life, I’m not the best person to take advice from.”
“Okay, but you’re a drug dealing piece of shit who has no idea what she’s doing with her life who is also my best friend! I want to break it off with him, but I love him. But at the same time his whole thing about virginity…I don’t know. It’s just like…I don’t wanna wait too long, you know?”
“Yeah well, sex isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s just sweaty, disgusting bodies mashing together. Not that fun.” Rebecca sighs, sitting up slightly and turning towards the lines of coke beside them, trying her best not to recall her less than perfect first time having sex which involved a lot of alcohol and a lot of bumps and bruises from falling all over the place.
“But…what if it’s too big? Like I waited too long, and now my body assumes I’m some sort of nun who will never have sex and then when I finally do it…try…he won’t fit.” Lila rambles, her eyes growing wider. Rebecca feels the powder rush to her head and shakes it before sighing and lying back down.
“I’ve met Griffin…judging by the chip on his shoulder, I’m guessing it’ll fit.” She says. Everything seems to vibrate around her and she shakes her head a little. Lila turns with a sigh and Rebecca sniffs, wiping her nose before exhaling a breath.
“What happened to your virginity pact? Did Griffin finally realize God is a little busy with all the other horrible shit going on around the world and doesn’t give a crap about his sex life?” Rebecca says, chuckling to herself. Lila’s silent for a few moments and she shifts slightly. Rebecca’s about to turn to look at her, but suddenly she speaks.
“If I tell you something, swear you won’t tell anyone?” Rebecca looks at her with a slight frown that turns into a smirk.
“I’m hanging out with a fucking sorority girl, I don’t wanna tell anyone about this more than you do.” Rebecca states matter of factly. Lila laughs lightly to herself, but Rebecca waits patiently for her to speak. She hears Lila shift beside her.
“I met a new guy.” She says, her voice practically quavering with excitement. Rebecca can tell she’s been dying to tell someone, her entire body seems to be shaking with excitement and she turns to look at Lila with a frown again.
“Who?” She asks slowly. She has a feeling this isn’t a good thing, considering Lila already has to put up with Griffin being strict on their sex life, who knows what he’d do if he found out she was cheating. Lila giggles lightly and looks at her, grinning.
“Mr. Darcy.” She sing-songs. Rebecca frowns and Lila’s smile wavers slightly as she rolls her eyes. “I promised I wouldn’t tell anyone who he was, for…obvious reasons.” She says. Rebecca nods, connecting the dots.
“So he’s one of Griffin’s friends?” She says, looking back up at the sky.
“No.” Rebecca looks back at her in shock. What the hell kind of ‘obvious reasons’ is she talking about then?
“Why can’t you tell me?” She asks, confused. Lila bites her bottom lip, a grin still spreading on her lips despite it.
“He has a wife.” She says, and she’s laughing and Rebecca groans despite her heart sinking down to her toes before joining her because this is probably the funniest and yet most disturbing and terrifying thing she’s heard in years.
“Oh my god…” Lila laughs and turns over, her arm draped over Rebecca’s stomach as she laughs hysterically.
“Please don’t tell me he’s one of your professors?” Rebecca groans, the cocaine making her mind spin and a laugh escape her lips despite her not really finding this funny at all. Lila laughs louder.
“Oh god…you’re so gross.” Rebecca laughs even louder because of course Lila would get mixed up with one of her professors. She’s a natural flirt. She’s probably flirted with every single one of her professors without even realising it. Lila slaps her lightly on the stomach.
“Hey! He’s really good looking! And he’s older, so he’s more experienced…” She drops her voice to a whisper with the last word and Rebecca shakes her head.
“You’re still gross.” Rebecca says, laughing loudly even though there’s nothing particularly funny about the situation and the only reason she’s laughing is because she’s fucked up from the cocaine she’s just sniffed. But she doesn’t say anything because Lila already has a controlling boyfriend, she doesn’t need a controlling friend, and Rebecca’s never been about controlling other people. Manipulating, yes, god yes, especially in order to get what she wants, but controlling, no.
It’s Lila’s life. The only person in control of it is Lila.
“Whatever. I reckon you’d go for him too if you saw him.” Lila says, grinning.
“A married man who’s old enough to be my dad? I’ll pass.” Rebecca says, shaking her head. Lila shrugs.
“You’re missing out! Older men know what they’re doing.” This shuts Rebecca up completely and she chokes a little on her own spit before sitting up and looking down at Lila in shock.
“You’ve…you’ve done it-” She sputters out, and Lila stares at her in confusion before her eyes widen and she laughs.
“No, no! I just spent a good five minutes talking about the fact that I’m a virgin, Becca. No…but that’s why I don’t know what to do about Griffin. I mean…do I end this potential thing with Darcy and stay with my boyfriend or do I just…try it? You know, with Darcy. So I at least know what I’m getting into with Griffin?” Rebecca isn’t sure why, but she has this sudden mad urge to slap Lila across her face so hard that a handprint will be stuck on her cheek forever. So instead of doing that, she lies back down and looks up at the sky, completely aware of Lila beside her gazing at her.
“Lila, I’m saying this because you’re my kind-of friend and I think you need to know. You’re a fucking idiot. And if you sleep with Darcy, you will probably break up with Griffin.” Lila’s silent for a few moments and Rebecca doesn’t look at her because she’s pretty sure she can’t right now.
“I’m your ‘kind-of friend’?” Lila says finally, and Rebecca looks at her in complete shock.
“THAT’S what you took from what I just said?” She growls. Lila grins but it fades into a look of fake shock and anger.
“Well we’ve been hanging out for two months, I thought we would have at least upgraded to ‘good friends’ or ‘best friends’-”
“I fucking hate you.”
“Aww come on, Becca!” Lila whines and turns, wrapping an arm around Rebecca’s waist again and she leans in so her mouth is right next to Rebecca’s ear and Rebecca can’t help the goose-bumps that erupt on her skin at Lila being so close to her.
“Breaking up with Griffin wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Like you said, he’s controlling and just…a religious nutcase.” She whispers. Rebecca moves her head slightly and turns to look at Lila and they’re close. Too close. Rebecca can practically count every single freckle on her face, every single eyelash covering those blue/green eyes that look like a mixture of the ocean and the floor beneath the gallons of water that cover it.
Rebecca’s pretty sure if she keeps looking, she’s going to drown.
So she inhales sharply and blinks and smirks and drops her voice down to a whisper.
“Why are you whispering?” Lila’s eyes move from one of Rebecca’s chocolate brown ones to the other and then down to her lips before moving back up to her eyes again.
“Griffin might be eavesdropping.” She whispers back. Rebecca laughs and looks back up at the sky, while Lila giggles beside her.
She figures that if Lila is going to go through with it, she’s going to go through with it.
It starts to dawn on her that this might be one of the last peaceful moments they’ll ever have together once the shit hits the fan.
Shit hits the fan.
And it’s not only shit, it’s like, colossal amounts of it.
And now Lila is upset and god knows where, and Rebecca feels like maybe, just maybe, she deserves what’s happening to her right now. She deserves Lila being angry at her.
She knows what she did was wrong, but she needed Lila to open those ridiculously gorgeous but stupid eyes of hers and realize that both Griffin and Darcy weren’t worth shit, and that she could do eight hundred times better.
She doesn’t know why it’s so important to her that Lila realizes this, but it is.
Maybe it’s because Lila’s her best friend. Maybe it’s because Lila’s her only friend. Maybe it’s because she’s so mind-numbingly in love with her that no matter how many times she’s repeated the mantra ‘I’m not in love with Lila’ in her mind, she can’t stop thinking about how soft her skin is and how deep and oceanic her eyes are and how fiery orange her hair is or how fucking stupid and adorable everything about her is.
Maybe that’s why. Maybe that’s why she’s done this. Slept with Griffin and tricked Lila into walking in on them so that Lila can see she’s worth so much more than all three of the people most important to her in her life.
Because in all truth and honesty, Lila Stangard deserves more than eight hundred times better than Rebecca Sutter.
She doesn’t mind losing Lila. As long as Lila gets what she’s worth, she doesn’t mind spending weeks on end curling up into a ball on her bed and crying over her lost best friend. Lila deserves the world. Lila deserves everything this world has to offer and more.
Lila deserves a love that’s undying and is passionate and is so fucking magical that every second of her life is pure bliss.
Lila deserves that with someone other than a married man who’s cheating on his wife with his student, an asshole supposed religious nutcase who’s lied to her about his virginity in order to get her to stay as one, and a druggie, trashy whore for a best friend.
She ends up back at her place after almost an hour of looking for her and calls Lila for what feels like the fourteenth time.
No answer, of course.
It’s almost 1:30 in the morning, maybe she’s asleep.
You know there’s no fucking way she’s asleep.
“Hi, it’s Lila! The one and only! Can’t get to you right now, but leave a message!”
“Lila, I’m sorry, okay? I’m sorry, but Griffin is not the guy you think he is. Alright, I hardly even had to try, that was NOT his first time, okay? Please, just…please call me back.” She ends the voicemail and almost rips her hair out because the one place she didn’t look is the fucking sorority, which is locked at this hour so even if Lila’s there, she has no way of getting in when all she wants to do is run inside and confess everything to Lila. Try to get her to understand.
Her phone buzzes, and the second she sees Lila’s face on the screen, her heart immediately pounds against her ribs almost painfully, but she answers it.
“Lila! Look, I fucked up, I know, but I need you to know why-”
“I wasn’t upset.” Her voice makes Rebecca come to a halt. It’s soft and so fucking heartbroken that Rebecca feels herself sway and she collapses onto her bed. Her eyes immediately pool with water and tears spill onto her cheeks, but she doesn’t make a move to get rid of them.
She’s like this because of me.
“I wasn’t upset that it was you screwing Griffin…” Her voice cracks when she says his name and Rebecca wants to say something, but for fuck’s sake, she has no clue what to say.
“Lila…I-” She’s breathing so heavily into the phone that her next words are almost unintelligible.
“Is…is it even possible? To be in love with three people at once? I don’t know…I don’t think you do either. All I know is that…I was upset…that it was Griffin screwing YOU. I…I walked in and I saw…I saw you two and all, all I could think was ‘he’s touching her, he’s…he’s kissing her, he’s…he’s doing what I never could’.”
Her heart stops.
She feels it stop for a second. Her breath catches and she feels like everything in the world has ended. And she has nothing to say.
“It doesn’t matter. Because Darcy’s ending it with his wife, so…I’m going to be happy. And I’m going to forget about loving Griffin and…and I’m going to forget about loving you. And this…this will all just be a nightmare from a long time ago. I just…all I could think was how much I hated Griffin in that moment for…for touching you, and kissing you, and…and doing what I didn’t realize I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I didn’t realize that I was in love with you until someone else was having you. Strange, isn’t it?”
And then the phone goes dead. And Lila’s voice fades.
“Lila?” Her name escapes her lips in a choked out whisper. She redials, her heart hammering and her hands shaking so badly that she misses the redial button four times, but she keeps trying anyway. Even when she forces herself off the bed and dashes out of her apartment, she keeps trying. It takes her about forty minutes to get to the sorority house. She’ll just have to run.
Lila doesn’t answer. No matter how many times Rebecca tries, she doesn’t answer.
She reaches the sorority at 2 in the morning. Luckily, a few girls are walking out and Rebecca manages to catch the gate before it closes. She walks to the front door and her legs are shaking so badly, she isn’t sure if she can feel them. All she knows is that she’s opening the door and walking inside, each step as careful as the next.
“Lila?” She’s scared to see her. She’s scared to look into her eyes, scared of what she’ll find when she does. She knocks on her door and opens it gently, but Lila isn’t inside. She checks the bathroom, the other rooms in the house before it hits her that she knows exactly where Lila is. She runs up to the roof in a heartbeat and opens the door, but there’s no sign of Lila anywhere.
“Lila? Look…don’t…don’t ignore me if you’re up here. Just…talk to me. Please.” She feels stupid, talking to thin air, but maybe if she gets all this out now, she’ll feel less stupid saying it to Lila’s face.
“Lila, I…I love you, too. I do and I just, I need you to come out here and talk to me so I can explain why I did it, why…why I’m such a fucking idiot for not telling you sooner and why I’m a fucking idiot for doing this…” Nothing. Not even a whisper from the wind. She turns to the door when she hears it.
She looks around before finding it on the ground a few feet from her. She picks it up and finds an unknown number, which she quickly declines.
Her eyes move to the water tank and she sighs before walking up to it, trying her best to control her speeding heart.
“Look, I know you’re up there, just…” She reaches for the ladder and makes her way up, expecting to see Lila’s face any second now.
“Just let me explain why I…” She freezes. A strand of Lila’s hair is on top of the water tank, but she’s nowhere to be seen.
She doesn’t know why she does it. She doesn’t know what compels her to reach for the handle and lift the water tank’s lid.
But when she does, her whole life crashes.
It’s strange, because Lila’s eyes were always full of emotion. Anger, sadness, happiness, euphoria, excitement, Rebecca’s seen them all.
But now they’re cold. Cold and open and wide and so emotionless and…dead.
“No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, NO, NO, NO!” She reaches out, fingers reaching and grasping for her.
“Don’t be dead, please don’t be dead!” She feels her fingers close around Lila’s wrist and she yanks her body forward, but Lila is gone. There’s no life in her whatsoever.
“Lila, Lila please, please wake up, wake up!”
Rebecca knows about death. Her father died from lung cancer when she was three and her mother died from a drug overdose when she was thirteen. She was shuffled to a foster home that was abusive and ended in the house being lit on fire by her insane foster mother who went to jail for her husband’s murder, and was then shuffled to another home which ended in her second foster father dying from brain cancer.
Rebecca knows death. She’s looked it in the face multiple times. She knows once you’re gone, you’re gone and you’re not coming back.
That doesn’t stop her from reaching for Lila and begging her to wake up, begging her not to be dead for at least three minutes before she hears footsteps. It’s a rash decision and one of the worst ones she’s ever made, but she’s suddenly jumping into the water tank with Lila’s dead body floating beside her and all she wants to do is sink below the water and drown so she can join her.
Because what the fuck is the point to life if Lila Stangard isn’t living it?
The group of girls on the roof leave after a few minutes, and Rebecca is shivering because of the cold water and crying because Lila is dead.
Lila is dead and her body is floating right beside her.
She reaches out, hands stroking Lila’s hair back and cooing softly and she isn’t sure how long she does this for, but eventually, she leans forward.
“I’m gonna find who did this, I promise.” She presses a gentle kiss to Lila’s forehead, completely aware that Lila can’t feel it, that Lila can’t feel anything anymore but that she can and that’s what matters.
“I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I love you. I’m sorry.”
She needs to get out. NOW.
She isn’t sure how long it takes her to get from the sorority to her apartment, but all she knows is that she’s running faster than she’s ever run in her life.
She’s running so fast her legs are burning and her lungs are screaming for air but she doesn’t stop.
Because Lila Stangard no longer has air in her lungs. Lila Stangard is dead and gone.
“Why did you confess?” Annalise Keating’s voice is soft, and Rebecca knows that this woman is anything but soft. Knows that she’s ruthless and volatile and could kill a man without even trying to murder him herself. She has a reputation, she does. Rebecca remembers Lila talking about her sometimes. But in this moment, her voice is soft.
Rebecca stares at her, wonders why she’s asking this question when she’s already told her that no, she did not kill Lila, that her new neighbour had warned her that Griffin was going to pin it on her and that she had confessed because of that. Her assistant, the blonde girl, is outside talking to an officer and Rebecca’s eyes move to her, but Annalise reaches forward, hand gripping Rebecca’s tightly.
“She’ll stay out as long as I tell her to. It’s just you and me. I know you didn’t confess because you knew Griffin was going to set you up. I know you didn’t confess because you figured pleading guilty would save you a few years of jail time. So why did you do it?”
Rebecca doesn’t know what it is about Annalise Keating that makes her talk, but staring into her eyes and seeing this look of understanding in them, like she already knows the answer to the question, makes her talk.
“Because I deserve it. Because even if I didn’t kill her, I might as well have. I fucked her life up…I deserve it.”
“You don’t deserve to go to jail for it…” Annalise begins, but Rebecca shakes her head.
“I loved her. You don’t do that to someone you love. I deserve it.” Rebecca figures Annalise has more to say, but she doesn’t. And Rebecca’s grateful.
Because she doesn’t need to hear about how she didn’t ruin Lila’s life or that Lila probably doesn’t blame her.
Because she loved Lila Stangard. And she ruined Lila Stangard. And she deserves it.