I know this seems unfinished and that's because it is - it was originally intended as a one-shot (and makes much more sense as one) but I sort of lost motivation halfway through, and as I'm pretty uncharacteristically busy right now (yeah, it's the holidays, but I have quite a lot planned and have a ton of revision to do for exams in January) even if my motivation returns I probably won't have time to get it finished any time soon. So I thought I may as well post the first half for constructive criticism/general feedback in the meantime. It's not brilliant, but hopefully it's alright...
Katie's only just thirteen the first time she sees Effy Stonem. She's at some party; she's not used to parties, not this kind, but she should be, she will be, because there's no way she's being the odd one out. Not like Emily, stood in the corner with a book grasped tightly between her fingers, glancing nervously around the room and staring at the floor, her cheeks flushed, when boys came over and tried to chat her up (which they did, of course, because she looked fucking mint; Katie had made sure of that). No, never like Emily.
So she mingles and flirts and flits around, and when she's offered a drink - some kind of cocktail, she doesn't catch the name - she doesn't hesitate to accept. She seems Emily shoot her an anxious glance, but ignores it. They're teenagers now, fucks sakes. It's about time Emily stopped being such a pathetic baby all the time.
She's offered another drink, and another, and another, and even though she really thinks she ought to stop - because they have to go home in a few hours, and their mum won't be best pleased if she staggers in totally off her tits, will she? - she doesn't. She finds that the more she drinks the less she cares about the consequences; she feels invincible, powerful, as if she can do anything. She's staggering her way towards yet another drink when she spots her for the first time, stood at the other end of the room - and, even in her drink-induced giddiness, feels her heart stop.
She's stood in the corner sipping on her drink, smirking silently at a curly-haired boy stood next to her who is babbling anxiously, clearly intimidated by the girl's silence, her knowing stare - her beauty. And she is beautiful - even Katie, who's always been so careful not to think about the appearances of other girls, knowing it's dangerous ground (because when she starts she can't stop), can't deny that - she's slim and striking, with wild dark hair and the most beautiful eyes - vast pools of blue, surrounded by thick black eyeliner. The very same eyes bore into Katie, seeming to look right through her as the girl - having turned away from the curly-haired boy with a mixture of exasperation and amusement - spotted her admirer, her lips quirking up into a playful, mischevious smile, and Katie realises with a sudden, sinking feeling that she's been staring at the girl, been staring for what feels like fucking years. She feels her cheeks begin to redden. Fuck, fuck, fuck she berates herself silently, What the fuck are you playing at? She begins to turn away - planning to grab Emily and head off home - when a sudden realisation hits her. The girl already saw her looking, there's no doubt about that; her leaving now would just seem stupid and suspicious and fucking pointless, really. Plus, this girl seems just like the kind of person Katie could do with being friends with; beautiful, confident, effortlessly cool. Probably really popular too. Turning back around, Katie plasters a huge smile on her face and walks in the direction of the girl, ignoring the openly amused expression on her face.
"Hey," she grins, the moment the girl is within hearing distance, "I'm Katie." She offers a hand to shake and then finds herself instantly mortified at the pathetic dorkiness of the gesture, even more so when Effy merely raises an eyebrow, her expression giving nothing away.
"Well?" Katie prompts, irritated. Her gesture may have been dorky, but there's no need to be fucking rude, is there? "You are?"
The girl studies her silently for a moment before replying. "Effy," she says finally, "Effy Stonem."
Effy. The name echoes around her mind and dances on the tip of her tongue; she repeats it over and over in her head, trying it out for size. It's a stupid fucking name, really - Effy; she gets that it's short for Elizabeth, but why not just call yourself Liz or Beth like a normal person? - but it's sort of interesting, and it suits her. They talk for a while; well, Katie talks, babbles away with all sorts of fascinating questions and jokes and conversation-starters that she’s seen in magazines as Perfect Party Topics. But Effy never replies with more than a shrug or a raised eyebrow, just keeps fucking staring at her, sort of expectantly now. And maybe it's because of that look, or because she's had too much to drink and she's not used to it, or just because Effy's lips are red and ripe and just asking to be kissed, really; she doesn't know the reasons, may never know the reasons. But she does it all the same - she leans over and she kisses Effy Stonem. Effy doesn't seem even remotely surprised, merely kisses back, roughly and confidently, and Katie's almost sure she would have carried on kissing back a good deal more if Katie hadn't pulled after a moment, suddenly coming to her senses, filled with disgust at her own behaviour. She wipes her mouth furiously, glancing around, but, to her relief, the only people left in this room are a slightly older couple right at the other end of the room, who are both blatantly intoxicated beyond belief and so absorbed in each other that even the mere acknowledgement of someone else's existence seems like it might be a stretch for them at that moment. She turns back, relieved; Effy's still watching her, her eyes glinting, and she feels a sudden rush of anger towards the other girl.
"What the fuck is wrong with you?" she snaps, storming out of the room and out of Effy's life - for the next year and a half, at least.
The next time they meet it's the beginning of Year 10, and Effy's starting in Katie's school. Katie doesn't recognise her at first; she looks different in her school uniform, still beautiful - always beautiful - but in a more innocent, reserved kind of way, her long hair scraped back in a ponytail, her eyes scrubbed free of makeup but still shining, sparkling, as she glances around the classroom, an expression of bored superiority which Katie can't help but find both extremely annoying and extremely attractive painted on her face. She stops dead when she spots Katie, a smug, secretive little smile playing on her stupid, provocative little lips, and after a moment - when Katie's stopped frowning over this mysterious stranger, when something finally clicks in her brain and she realises who it is - they both just freeze and stare at each other. For Katie time seems almost to stand still for a moment, and she shakes herself, tells herself to stop being so fucking stupid; it was just a fucking kiss, and over a year ago - it doesn't mean anything. It's not like she's gay or anything; she was just, like, experimenting or whatever. All the wild teenagers do it, and it doesn't say anything about you as a person, except maybe that you know how to have a good time.
She knows all this - of course she does - but still she can't shake off that feeling of unease as she watches Effy Stonem saunter across the classroom and take the empty seat next to Emily, who smiles briefly and nervously at the new girl before returning to her work.
“Hi,” she says to Effy at break, because she thinks she might as well be the bigger person; besides, Effy’s sat all by myself at a table in the corner of the lunch room, and Katie feels kind of sorry for her.
Effy turns to face her, a sort of amusement in her sparkling eyes. “Can I help you?”
Katie blushes furiously, inwardly cursing herself. She’s acting like some kind of...she’s acting like Emily, fuck’s sakes.
“Don’t you remember me?” she presses the taller girl, “Katie. We met at a party last year? Or maybe the year before; it was a while ago.” Effy just keeps staring, stoic and silent. “Oh, come on. You must remember. You tried to fucking...”
“Yes, Katie. I remember.” Effy’s voice is cool, almost bored.
“Oh. Well.” Katie’s not usually one to shy from confrontation but there’s something about Effy that’s just so fucking intimidating; she’s like a different person with her. “Just don’t fucking try any of that again, and we’re cool. ‘kay?”
Effy smirks. “I’ll try and resist.”
“Well. Good.” Effy’s barely talked, yet somehow she’s managed to get the better of her and Katie can’t stand it. She needs to keep an eye on her, make sure she doesn’t get out of hand. Make sure she learns that Katie fucking Fitch runs this school, and that’s just the way it is. “Now listen. As long as you promise to be on your best behaviour, you can sit with us.” She gestures to a table at the other end of the hall, surrounded by giggling girls. “Over there.” She stands up and heads off, is surprised when Effy doesn’t follow. “Babe, they don’t bite.”
Effy rolls her eyes, but shrugs and follows her to the table. Katie counts it as a victory. As long as she’s got Effy safely under her wing, how much can really go wrong?
They come to be friends. Well, not exactly, because friends have to like each other. Katie doesn’t think she likes Effy very much at all, and she’s fairly sure Effy can’t stand her. But still they pretend.
She never thinks about the kiss again; never finds herself staring at Effy’s lips in class and fantasising, never wakes up with knickers soaked through and the memory of Effy playing on her lips and coursing through her veins. Never, in the clumsy, muddled stage between dreams and reality, does she find that all the colours and thoughts and feelings blend into one, all embedded in the taste, the smell, the touch of Effy Stonem.
(She’s Katie fucking Fitch. She’s not gay – she can’t be)
They kiss again, at a party near the end of Year 11. They’re drunk and high, Effy’s a whore and Katie’s not much better. It doesn’t mean anything. It shouldn’t; it doesn’t to Effy, who smiles that infuriating, all-knowing smile and saunters off to fuck some random at the end of their not-so-romantic encounter. And it doesn’t to Katie either; she’s not gay, she’s just fucking stupid, and she needs to stop acting like this.
She stumbles towards the garden – to get some air, to think, to breathe – and nearly runs straight into a couple stood by the door, practically fucking eating each other. She’s about to make a snarky comment when the couple draw apart, staring dreamily at each other, and she realises, with a sad sickness in her stomach, that one of them is none other than her sister. The other is a girl in their class – Nancy or something. She can’t remember. It doesn’t matter; all that matters is that her sister is kissing a girl, and she’s just been kissing a girl, and everything is just so far from being right that she wants to cry.
“Emily!” she snaps. Her sister turns around with a sharp intake of breath, pure shock and terror in her eyes.
“Leave her alone! Fucking pervert,” she snaps at Nancy-or-whatever-her-name-is, before grabbing Emily’s hand and dragging her away, out of the room and out of the house, mumbling a goodbye to the people she encounters on the way.
“What the fuck, Emily?” she snaps when they’re finally away from the booming music of the party, when she can finally hear herself think enough to communicate.
Emily shrugs and stares at the floor, a single tear dripping down her cheek.
(Katie wants to brush it away, but she won’t; because they’re not Katie and Emily anymore, and she knows that, however much it hurts her)
Instead she builds up a story, with Nancy (“It’s Naomi,” Emily mumbles, but Katie ignores her – why does it matter what her name is, anyway? Stupid lezzer bitch) the attacker and her sister the innocent victim – “so she just fucking pounced on you. Right, Em?” Emily never agrees or denies it, just shrugs and hangs her head and is silent for the rest of the journey.
By the time they’re home Katie almost believes herself, almost thinks that if she keeps building all these stories she can protect them from the truth forever more.
(She tries not to notice Emily’s quiet, stifled sobs at night, or the way she stares at Naomi – who Katie makes a laughing stock of, of course – in class, eyes filled with sadness and hope and sheer, unadulterated longing.)
The Fitch twins aren’t gay. It’s as simple as that.
We're not that different after all.
- All we are//AU Katie/Effy fic