“Don’t you want to fuck me, Em?”
Wednesday evening, 1 April 2009
GM: It’s Emmett’s first time to Tulane in a while. He last went there on a college tour with his parents. They’d said he could go to any college he wanted, but this was a good local one (where they worked), so it was one option to consider.
It was strained, though. Like everything was at 16.
Now there’s no Tulane or parents who want him to go to college, or who cook him lasagna like Mrs. Flores makes for Celia, who really wants her around, who hugs her three times and says how much she loves her.
There’s just an empty apartment. With Hot Pockets and Nutella and butter sandwiches.
Emmett: Not that he has been thinking about that.
Because he hasn’t.
“MOVE, SHITBIRD!” he yells at a mildly inconvenient driver.
GM: He gets an angry honk back.
What was it Mrs. Flores said to Celia, exactly?
I’m so proud of you sweetie. I love you so much. I’m so, so proud. I love you more than anything.
It was some iteration of that.
Emmett: People say a lot of things. Like “Heil Hitler.” Or “You just need to apply yourself.”
He drives to Tulane, thinking about all the coke he’s going to let himself do later.
GM: Josephine Louise House, better known as JLH, is a three-story red-bricked building that serves as one of the girls’ dorms. It looks pretty old.
Em might wonder what’s taking Celia and her boyfriend so long.
Or he might not.
The desk coordinator glares at him when he comes in. “Excuse me, boys aren’t allowed in Josephine Louise! You need to be accompanied by a resident!”
She glares at him a while longer.
Emmett: He holds up a hand and smiles. “I heard you, I just wanted to make sure I heard you right. Accompanied by a resident, you said?” He sighs. “That’s gonna be hard. My friend texted me from inside her dorm and she’s not really in a position to get out. I can wait a little longer for her roommate to get here with her boyfriend, but I hope she isn’t, you know…” he makes a face and drops his voice.
“Unconscious. She was drinking herself under the table on the phone earlier. It’d be awful if she hurt herself like she said she was going to. Ugh, her family might even sue. Do they make you sign anything to do your job?”
GM: “Oh my god,” the desk coordinator sighs.
“Fine, fine. Just go straight to her dorm.”
Emmett: 216, he thinks as he takes a flight of stairs up. When he finds the door, he knocks on it and calls, “Emily? It’s a friend.”
GM: There’s no answer.
Emmett: “Emily, I’m a friend of Celia’s. She’s worried about you.” He knocks incessantly.
GM: “Mmm, friend troubles?” remarks a redheaded girl in a turtleneck who’s walking by.
Emmett: He rolls his eyes and mouths ‘I know’ to her, even as he keeps knocking.
GM: There’s no answer.
“Dunno how much you can do if you don’t have a room key,” says the redhead.
Emmett: “Yeah…” He shakes his head. “It’s upsetting. My friend sent me here to look after her, but she’s with her boyfriend and they’re worse than rabbits, so of course they’re going to take forever. What am I supposed to do?” He sighs, running a hand through his hair. “Just keep knocking, I guess. Unless something better comes along.”
GM: “How about you keep me company in my dorm?” the girl smiles.
Emmett: He shrugs his shoulders and smiles at her.
“I mean. I am supposed to be accompanied by a resident. At all times. The girl down there was very clear about that.”
GM: The redhead takes his hand.
Wednesday night, 1 April 2009, PM
GM: Em and the girl make it to second base. Em might like to go further, but the drugs they do together are great. Really great. He’s in spaced-out bliss by the end. He can barely say what they did, but his headache all gone.
The redhead tells Em she has somewhere else to be and to let himself out whenever. Pretty trusting to leave him with all her stuff.
His phone rings after she’s gone.
Emmett: Em’s head feels better than it has in a week. He’s light as a kite and high as a feather.
He’s in such a good mood that he doesn’t even burglarize her dorm. It’s a new day.
He picks up his phone as he closes the redhead’s door behind him.
“Hey,” he says. “How much did I miss?”
Support: Em hears Celia’s voice, muted, before she hangs up.
Emmett: “Oh. Okay, cool.” He makes his way to a bathroom, stops, realizes he’s about to become a sex offender, and instead walks back towards the door of 216.
I remembered the number! he thinks gleefully. I never remember the number. Maybe I’m finally ready to be an adult, instead of whatever the fuck I’m doing with my life.
Then he realizes he’s walked past it.
He doubles back and knocks.
Support: The door of room 216 opens. A girl’s voice drifts out, “…smell like sex,” and Celia’s laughter follows it. It’s cut short when she sees Em standing on the other side, hand poised to knock. She has her arms around Emily and a small bag slung over one shoulder. She looks surprised to see him.
“Hey! There you are.”
Emmett: “Sorry,” he says with a chuckle. “I got distracted along the way. It’s been known to happen. ADHD and all that.”
He looks to the other girl. “You must be Emily, this is a little awkward, but would you mind pretending that we’ve been friends for a few years around Stephen? Long story, but it’s for Celia. Right, Celia? God, isn’t Celia the best?”
GM: The other girl looks even more strung out than he is. She looks like Celia is half-carrying her.
Emmett: “…sorry if that’s a lot to take in right now.”
GM: Emily starts crying.
Support: “Oh my god, El.”
GM: “She… she is… I don have… she said she’d be… my famil… she’s… so nice…”
Celia’s phone rings.
Emmett: “I know,” he says beaming, looking a little confused from one girl to the next. “Celia’s a wonderful friend. We all agree. Is there anything, I um, can do for you?” He blinks, and then remembers, “Oh, and my name is Elliot. But please call me El.”
Support: “Hold on,” Celia says. She fishes the phone out of her pocket and glances at the caller ID.
She tries to open her phone with her one arm still around Emily, but it’s tough. “Here, hold her up a sec, we’re heading down the hall to the showers. Emily, this is El, he’s also a good friend, he’s gonna help us down the hall.”
Celia flips the phone open.
She makes a shushing noise at Elliot. Very pointedly.
GM: “Celia, hi,” sounds the voice of Em’s old girlfriend. There’s a faint laugh. “I can’t get over how similar our names are, sometimes.”
Em hears every word.
Support: “Ha, right? That was… definitely frustrating sometimes in high school when people called me the wrong name.”
“How’s it going?”
GM: “Right now I’m a lot more concerned with how you’re doing,” Cécilia answers seriously. “So I talked with Maman about your family’s situation.”
“And she agreed the best options for you right now are your grandmother’s house or a women’s shelter.”
Support: “Ah. Okay. Thank you. I will talk to Mom about it again. I appreciate it.”
GM: “Have you gone to either of those, yet? It’s getting late, and that’s when a lot of incidents tend to happen.”
Support: “Ah, no, there was something that came up at school. I’m trying to handle it now, actually, then go back and grab Mom and the kids.”
GM: “Oh, no, is it anything I could help with?”
Support: “Ah, well, I’m not sure. My roommate is just having a tough time, but we got it figured out, I think. She’s just been sick a lot lately. Dizzy. Tired. Pale. That kind of thing. So we’re just figuring out our options. Little too much to drink tonight, so I’m getting her cleaned up.”
“Hey, do those shelters help with, uh, illness?”
GM: “Hm, they aren’t doctors. They have first aid kits, home remedies, and beds to sleep things off, but they usually provide referrals to other health services for anything that’s really serious.”
Support: “Ah, right. Figured I’d ask while I had you on the phone here, long shot. No insurance, that kind of thing.”
GM: “Oh, that is a problem,” Cécilia says thoughtfully. “There are a couple free health clinics in the city. How bad would you say her symptoms are?”
“If she seems like she could be okay in the morning, I might focus on getting your family somewhere safe first, and dealing with that later.”
Support: “Hey, Cécilia, can I call you back about this? I’m, uh… I mean it’s…” she steps away for a moment, watching Em and Em head down the hall toward the bathroom.
“Listen, it’s pretty ugly. I need to take care of this and then grab my mom.”
GM: “Of course. Let me know if there’s anything more I can do.”
Support: “Will do. Talk to you soon.”
She hangs up.
“El, give me your keys. Get Em back to bed. I have to go. I’m taking your car.”
GM: “Thought we were gonna shower…” Emily grogs.
Support: “You’re gonna shower with El, sweetheart. If he touches you in a bad way let me know and I’ll take his balls off, okay? My mom is in trouble. Dad is out of jail. And I just—fuck, I left them there.”
Dawning realization hits her face.
Emmett: “Okeydoke, slowpoke. Get it? Because you took forever to get here. Can’t complain. Oh, fuck, keys.” He tosses them to her.
To Emily, he says, “Sorry, but I’m also good company. Just not necessarily for showering. Ooh. Although I would not say no to a shower.”
“Wait, what? That feels like a weird thing for you to volunteer me for.”
Support: “She’s drunk, she does not give consent. Em, I love you.”
She doesn’t clarify who she’s talking to. She tosses Emmett the bag with the shower supplies and room key. She’s gone before his complaints register.
He looks at the drunk girl in his arms, then at the shower supplies in his other hand, then down the hall at the bathroom.
Thursday night, 2 April 2009, AM
Support: It’s over an hour later that Celia shoots Em a text.
Where’d you go? Have your keys.
Emmett: At a bar. keep em, i’ll be okay. You need me around?
Emmett: what, do you have another friend who needs help in the bathroom
Support: oh im sry r u mad i left to find out my mom was kidnapped
ur rite my bad
Emmett: He calls her.
Support: It rings for a while. Almost to voicemail. Then she finally picks up.
Emmett: “Goddamn, really?” he asks.
Support: “Really ‘Hi’ or really ‘was your mom kidnapped by your psycho dad because you decided to help your roommate instead’?”
Emmett: “Did I rub off on you when I wasn’t looking, or did you just get meaner?” Em’s still coming down, with the help of an Irish coffee. He eyes the bartender and mimes for the check.
“How do you want to play this?”
Support: “Do you want to rub off on me? I recall you turned me down last time.”
“I have a plan.”
Emmett: “What is up with you? Normally I’m the only asshole in these conversations.”
And also, okay, maybe a little bit.
“What plan? Should I meet you?”
Support: “Cécilia’s mom turned me down. So I made a different friend.”
She lets the words hang.
Emmett: She can hear him stiffen in all the wrong ways.
“What did you do, kid?”
No matter that they’re the same age. He sounds… scared. It’s not a good sound on him, even if it’s a touching one.
Support: “Can’t tell, it’s a secret.” Her voice is sing-song. She even giggles. It sounds different.
“Where are you? I’ll meet you.”
Emmett: She can hear his hesitation warring with his curiosity in the heartbeat that follows.
“Pick me up outside Soulé… Cici?”
He doesn’t mean to make it into a question, but he does.
The line disconnects.
Thursday night, 2 April 2009, AM
Emmett: He’s waiting for her, wrapped in a relaxed-looking leather jacket that makes his arms look bigger than they are. He looks as close to sober as she’s ever seen him. Or maybe that’s just his mood.
Support: “Hey, Em.”
Her voice comes from behind him. There’s no car in sight. She’s dressed as if she were headed to the dance studio, complete with leotard, wrap skirt, and legwarmers up to her mid-thigh. A gray purse is slung across her chest, its strap settled right between her breasts.
She smiles at him, and the smile shows the natural looking makeup on her face, carefully applied to make her look younger. More innocent. She leans in.
“Hope I didn’t keep you waiting.”
Emmett: “Not at all,” he says slowly, looking her over. “You seem… not terrified, right now. By your mom being kidnapped, and all.”
Support: “Mmm,” she agrees, nodding. “I have a plan. I stole your drugs, by the way. I hope you don’t mind. Just a few. I’ll pay you back, but timing and all that.”
“I brought your keys.” She holds them out.
Emmett: “Wait, that’s… thanks… and also, what drugs? Not like ‘what drugs,’ like I don’t know what you’re talking about, but like, which drugs? And also, why?”
Support: “Daddy’s out of jail,” she says flatly, “and I need a way to keep him there. Back up plan. Plans within plans.” She pauses, looks past him into the cafe.
“We should speak somewhere less public.”
Emmett: He glances over his shoulder at the restaurant they visited just last night. “I know a spot.”
“Oh. That’s what you were suggesting.”
Support: “Was I?” She takes his hand, tugs him along toward his own apartment.
Emmett: “…oh. Okay, that works too.”
When they’re inside he scratches at the back of his neck.
“Um, can I get you something? A drink? Some of your innocence? If I can find it.”
Support: “It’s in the bar,” she tells him, “with the guy who raped me last night.”
Her head tilts to the side.
“Or maybe with my daddy, when he started beating me.”
“Or maybe,” she says slowly, “it’s with the only two other people I care about in the world, who both have the same symptoms of illness. Something must be going around.”
Emmett: “Yikes,” he mutters, pouring one for himself. He doesn’t drink it, though. He has a feeling now’s a bad time to. But it’s nice to hold in his hand. “Maybe I was patient zero, then. I haven’t been innocent for a year.”
“What’s your plan? Set Maxen up as a coke dealer? It’ll be hard, but I can see us doing it. If you can get him out of the house while I plant the shit.”
Support: “He has the kids. And my mom. Isabel set them up.”
Celia pours a drink and tosses it down.
“Did I tell you that I have video evidence of him abusing me? I was thinking of doing something similar. Rape. Drugs. Reasoning with him. Telling him to back down. And if not… well, I guess I just end him.”
Emmett: “Well, you say that,” Em says.
Then he peers at her.
“You really are saying that. What happened? What other… friends were you talking about?”
Support: Celia raises her brows. She takes a drink. Back to that old game.
Emmett: “Fuck,” he says softly. It takes him a second. “Fuck. Are you gonna be okay?”
Support: For the first time since she showed up behind him, there’s doubt in her eyes. She drinks again, but it’s only to cover the way her lower lip trembles for just a second.
“I don’t know,” she says honestly. “If I do well, maybe.”
Emmett: “Okay,” he says. “Well… what can you tell me?”
Support: “I don’t know. If I tell, I die. That’s the rule. And I don’t know how specific they are about that rule, if it just means them or all of them. But… we were right. About what we said about them.”
Emmett: “Okay,” he says again, like that was helpful. “What’s your plan with Maxen? Talk me through it.”
Support: Celia smiles at him. Shows a little too much teeth.
“I took your camera.”
Emmett: He smiles back in confusion. They both grin at each other unhappily.
“What are you going to goad him into doing?”
Support: “Rape,” she says again. “Drugs. You had coke.”
Emmett: “You’re going to get him to rape you?”
Support: “Mmhmm. Tragic, isn’t it?”
Emmett: “Jesus. How are you even going to do that? And… why? Can’t you frame him for the other shit? And…”
He hesitates, but he asks. Like a fucking chump, he asks.
“And, what do you want me to do?”
Support: “You don’t think I can get him to?” Celia bites her lower lip. “You don’t think I’m cute enough for him to want to fuck me?” She trails a hand down her chest, right between her breasts. “Don’t you want to fuck me, Em?”
He wasn’t into her broken self. He didn’t like the pity party that she invited him to. But this? This person that she is now, this confident, catty bitch? Oh. He wants that.
She glides across the room to him, takes the drink from his hand. Sets it down on the counter. Her hands start at his shoulders, work their way down his chest. Both hands. Hadn’t she been in a sling? It seems unimportant. The jacket is the first thing she takes off, sliding it down his arms to pool in a leather pile behind him.
“Tell me,” she whispers in his ear, “tell me that you want to fuck me. Tell me how after I left last night you thought about pinning me up against the wall with my legs around your waist.”
Emmett: He does, already, but he starts to shake his head, starts to say something catty and self-assured that’s code for, “You’re too good for me.”
But then she does the thing.
Her breath is sweeter than absinthe when it touches his ear. He wants her to whisper more things, say his name more, wants to see her name in his mouth, wants…
…he hasn’t wanted anything this much for so long. He’s lost in it, the wanting, the thing that leads him from disaster to disaster. The wanting is the only part of life that he’s good at.
“I did,” he says, his breath tickling her neck. “Fuck, I did. I thought you would hate me. I didn’t want you to hate me but I wanted to fuck you so so bad. I want to now. You’re so…”
He’s grabbing at her, clumsy, like he’s just waking up.
“I’m sorry,” he tells as he holds her, twirls her like they’re still in the Paris Room. “I’m sorry I didn’t.”
Support: Laughter, light and giddy, bubbles up from inside of her, spilling past her lips as he spins her around. She twirls him, too, pushes him back with a hand on his chest until he’s against the wall she mentioned. Her lips are at his throat, fingers deftly pulling the shirt from his body. She doesn’t kiss. She nibbles. Bites. Sucks. Leaves a trail of marks on his neck until she reaches his jaw, the corner of his mouth, his lips proper.
“Hush,” she whispers to him, “happy noises, now. Make it up to me. Show me a good time, Em.”
Emmett: Something in him recoils. Something is confused.
But it is something quiet, next to the wanting.
He almost throws her on the couch, falls to his knees and pulls at her skirt. His mind scrambles over the hours of whoring, the various positions and tips he’s accumulated.
“Happy noises?” he asks.
Support: Her skirt comes off in one smooth motion, one easy tug. Her fingers hook around the waistband of the black leotard and pull that off, too, and she is bottomless in front of him, smooth and slick and already spreading her thighs so he can get between them with his tongue. She lays back, watching, expectant.
Emmett: He tears at her and pulls himself between her legs even as she’s making way for him.
“You might not be able to hear me,” he says, and then he starts.
It’s one of the first things Christina had made sure he knew how to do. Had frankly offered to have a girl practice with him, a minor sunk cost for the profits he could turn. Sometimes that was all the date really wanted, after all.
To be worshiped.
He worships her, and the noises he makes might be prayers, and they are panicked, hungry, and happier than any she has ever heard him make.
Support: In the end, Em isn’t the one who makes those noises. It’s her. Her lips parting as he moves his tongue between her legs. Her panting, gasping, writhing on the couch, knuckles white where they grip the cushion. Her nails dig into it.
She says his name, “Em,” nothing more than a breathy whisper.
She puts a hand against his head, pushing him away.
Emmett: He stops, his lips and cheek slick with her, his expression frozen with uncertainty. His eyes flicker over her, desperate but worried. “Is… something wrong?”
Did I fuck up again?
She can see it in his eyes. He will beg for her.
Support: She rises in one fluid movement, holds out her hand to him, has him down on the couch before he can complain. Her fingers undo the belt, buttons, zipper, and she has his pants down his legs and tossed aside. She kneels between his legs instead, presses her lips to the inside of his thigh. Then takes him into her mouth.
Emmett: He’s undone. Naked as the first time they met, his eyes fierce with pleasure. He loses himself to her. He lets himself be stolen.
When they’re done, he’s crying. Not heavily, not sobbing, just tearing gently. He doesn’t even seem to notice, and if she was to point it out to him, he’d admit he has no idea why.
“You’re magic,” he tells her, after it makes sense to talk again. “Fuck. I’ve never met anybody like you. That could do that to me.” He’s wrapped around her, holding her tightly to him on the couch, their clothes still discarded. “I fuck for a living. And I would go broke trying to pay for that.”
Is that romantic? He can’t tell. He’s too relaxed to lie.
Then he frowns.
“Wait, so you’re still trying to get your dad to fuck you?”
Support: The tension returns to her face as he asks about her dad.
“You don’t think it’s a good idea? State senator caught raping his own daughter, evidence of drugs and abuse?”
Emmett: He hesitates. “It’s not that it’s a bad idea, for what you’re trying to achieve. It’s just, well, do you want to do that to yourself? Even outside it being incest, you’d be… well. You’d be getting fucked.”
Even if you can turn him on, he thinks but doesn’t say.
Support: “He’s not my real dad,” Celia says flatly.
Support: “Just the fuck who raised me.”
Emmett: “He is that.”
“But do you… want to? Still.”
Support: “Do I want Maxen Flores’ red, shining face hanging over me while he grunts?” She laughs. “No.”
Emmett: He laughs, too. “God, with that bald-ass head, too. I’ve seen him on TV. He probably looks like a football when he’s fucking.”
“I mean, besides, that would also sink your own reputation. You don’t want that.”
Support: “Nothing by half-measures. If I ask him to do it I’m sure he’d try to show me a good time. And isn’t that fucked. You think he’ll lay me down on a couch like this, use his tongue like you—”
He cuts her off. She pauses.
“I should just gut him.”
“Take his leg off with a saw the way he did to my mom.”
Emmett: He strokes absentmindedly at her face, her hair.
“You’re beautiful,” he says. “And you’re scaring me.”
He hugs her, tries to bring her closer than she already is, pressing her to him.
“I don’t want you to have to regret anything. Promise me you’ll let me help. Let me do the worst of it, if it comes to that.”
Support: “I’ve got three days, Em.”
She sinks into him. She clings to him, holds him close, presses her cheek against his chest.
“Three days and then I’m not me anymore. It’s like they’re inside me. Taking over.”
Emmett: “Then I’ll find a way to keep you you,” he says. “I’ll stay with you. I’ll help you remember yourself. You won’t be alone.”
“But just… take a breath now. You have three days? That’s basically forever.” He says it like a teenager saying they have all weekend.
Except, they are teenagers. Both of them.
Support: “You can’t be near them. Em, they can’t know about you. They’ll destroy you. Whatever bad things you’ve done, they’ll do worse. Believe me. They’re the monsters that we thought they were.”
She pulls back just far enough to look into his eyes.
“Promise me, Em. You won’t get involved with them. When they come for me, you won’t come looking. Here, now, this is fine. This is us. But out there? They’ll kill you.”
Emmett: “I won’t go looking for them,” he says. “Not if you come to me. Keep yourself you. Don’t let them take that from you. Do what you have to, kill and fuck your way through the people stupid enough to stand in it, but don’t forget who you are. Promise me, that.”
Support: She nods her head, then tucks it back against him.
Emmett: “So,” he says. “What do you need from me?”
Support: “I wasn’t planning on taking you with me. Could be dangerous. There’s a… I think he has a friend, too. Like mine. Can’t go at night. But he has my mom, the kids. God only knows what he’s doing to them right now.”
She breathes, like he always tells her to.
“I think they’re after Stephen and Emily, too.”
“I waited too long. Should have gone there first.”
Emmett: He pauses.
“Night, you said. Are they… not a problem… during the day?”
He rubs her arm, calmly. Tries to make her feel safe.
“That means we can wait a few hours. For morning. We can have Miranda hack him. Figure out what he’s been saying on his phone. To his lawyers. Whatever. I might be able to bribe some of his guards, too—y’all live in Audubon, right? I know a guy in Blackwatch.”
Support: “I… I don’t know,” she admits. “I think, maybe, they might not be. I tried to talk to Miranda. But she—God, she’s crazy. I don’t trust her, not to sit on something if it needs to be. If you think you can rein her in, fine. Who’s your guy in Blackwatch?”
“Wait, how well do you know him? Would he… can he check the house? See what’s going on?”
Emmett: “I can talk to Miranda,” he assures her. “She’s crazy, but I am too, and our crazies can talk to each other.”
“And yeah. I’m not sure if it’s the best way, you know, witness and all that, but I can probably find a way to get you intel on the house.”
He runs his fingers through her hair, tracing where it touches her spine.
“If you kill him… you have to assume you’ll be found out. Just the way these things go. You won’t be able to lie. So we’ll have to run.”
There’s no discussion in that we when he says it.
Support: “I can’t run,” she sighs. “I made a deal. But I might know someone who can get us intel on the house. It’s been a while since I’ve spoken to him, but maybe…”
Emmett: “Maybe?” he prompts.
Support: “Maybe he’ll talk to me. He’s kind of… weird. Used to tutor me. Good with computers.”
Emmett: He nods, thinking of Emil. “Computer people are super weird.”
He kisses her forehead, and hugs her. “Wake me when you decide to make your move. I’ll follow your lead. Just… try to think about things before you do them.”
Advice he has never followed, and which feels alien to say.
But it’s the kind of thing somebody should have said to him, at some point.
Ultimately, though, it doesn’t matter what she says. He holds her, and strokes her hair, and doesn’t say anything for the rest of the night.