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ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The Flip Of A Coin
By Kassandra Luem
"What do you think you're doing?"
Juliet's voice startles Kate and her hand snaps back from the item she's holding. The hard-book cover of Stephen King's 'Carrie' falls to the ground with a dull thud.
Earlier, when she'd watched Juliet leave and then cautiously stepped into the blonde's tent after another quick glance over her shoulder, this had still seemed like a good idea. Juliet was new to the camp, Juliet used to be the enemy, Juliet used to be their captor, Juliet wasn't safe. So what did it matter that she didn't have a clue as to what exactly she was searching for. She'd know it when she saw it and that was enough.
Right now, however, Juliet's standing over her, hand on her hips, face a hard mask of anger and sparks flying from her eyes, igniting the air on their way over to Kate so that she can practically see them on their burning path through the tent. And Kate isn't so sure about the good idea part anymore.
Looking at Juliet now, there's no telling what she's gonna do to her, but somehow Kate's sure that her current silence doesn't exactly serve to relax the atmosphere. But really, what's she supposed to say?
'Sorry Juliet, but I think you're still working for Ben, so I kinda decided to go and look for some incriminating evidence.'
Yeah, sure that'd go down well.
"So? You're just going to sit there and say nothing? You're not going to defend yourself and feed me some story about how you were just looking for some ointment that you for some reason thought I'd have?"
"Umm No?" Juliet is many things, but stupid isn't one of them and Kate won't make the mistake to treat her as such.
After that, there's only silence, silence that cracks and sizzles as the burning air around them grows and grows until all they can see through the smoke are smoldering blue eyes glued to impenetrable brown. And suddenly it occurs to Kate that this is the most alive she's ever seen Juliet in all the time she's known her.
If she'd known that Juliet looks like this when she's angry, she would've done something to enfuriate her sooner.
"So, found anything interesting? Or did you just mess up the place for nothing?"
For a second Kate wants to defend herself that she did not mess up the place, that she took extra care to put everything back where it belonged rule number one when secretly searching other people's places. Then she realizes that's kinda beside the point and swallows her words.
She doesn't think she could've articulated them anyway, because while Juliet's voice is measured and calm, Kate can almost physically feel the hard fury like an icy undercurrent underneath it.
Okay, so maybe she wouldn't have.
"Who's Rachel?" she finally rasps, because seriously, there's nothing else she can come up with at this moment.
And suddenly, something odd happens. Juliet somehow deflates right in front of her eyes. In the blink of an eye, the sparks are gone from her eyes and replaced with a stark expression of something Kate can't name. Something deep and dark and desperate.
And it throws her to see always calm and composed Juliet like this. She starts shaking and there are so many emotions contorting the lines of her face that Kate can't identify them. With a shock she realizes that Juliet's starting to come apart right in front of her eyes, while seconds ago Kate was still afraid she was going to rip her to shreds.
Before she can wrap her mind around this abrupt turn in conversation however, Juliet turns her back to Kate. Her words are quiet, almost inaudible, but there's no mistaking her voice. The fight's over, there's no trace of forcefulness left in her tone.
"It's none of your business. I'd like you to leave now."
She's asking Kate to go in as flat a tone as Kate's ever heard and Kate can't quite believe that all of this was brought on by the simple question after a name.
"Please, Kate. Go."
Juliet's voice doesn't shake, but it's heavy with buried pain and Kate doesn't know how to react. She watches as Juliet's hands keep on trembling even though she clenches them into fists.
Her and Juliet have never been friends, for all she knows the other woman is a spy and trying to get them all killed. Still, at this moment, it doesn't seem to matter. Right now, there's no Ben, no Others, no secret agendas. In this moment, she's standing here, watching a woman she thought made of steel shatter and as often as she wanted to hurt Juliet in the worst way possible, she now just wishes she could take back her question and take the tongue-lashing Juliet was about to give her. If she'd known this was about to happen, she'd never have inquired after the sloppy, handwritten "Love always, Rachel" on the first page of the damn book.
Oh stop fussing, isn't this what you wanted all along? Didn't you want proof that she's human, that she's actually capable to feel? Well, here you go. Think that'll be enough for you?
Kate shudders at her own thoughts. Sure, she wanted proof, but she never wanted this. To even think she could
Her inner musings render her immobile for a second too long. And as she flashes around again, the forcefulness is back in Juliet's tone. But it's a different kind of forcefulness now, the scared, desperate forcefulness you get when you know you only got seconds before everything you are crumbles and you need everyone out before that happens.
"Kate! I said go! Please! Just go!"
Her voice breaks somewhere between the last two syllables and Kate's eyes are stuck on the tears she sees glittering in the blonde's eyes. Her hand reaches out almost of its own accord and suddenly Kate finds herself fighting the impulse to go over to Juliet and hug her, hold her together until the storm has passed.
But she finds herself holding back because that damn suspicious, twisted voice inside her head keeps reminding her of what Juliet did to them and could still be doing right now. And Kate resents herself for hesitating, for even listening to that voice when everything she wants is to go with the warm, compassionate part of herself that has her reaching out to comfort and support instead of push down and destroy.
Kate looks at Juliet again and it feels like an intrusion as she sees the other woman crouched beside the bed with her head in her hands. And Kate hates the feeling of helplessness that sweeps over her at the sight. She wants to reach out, but she doesn't know how to and she's pretty sure Juliet wouldn't exactly want her to. In fact, Juliet told her pretty clearly to get the hell out and leave her alone. And if she had any respect for the other woman, she'd better do as she says. Quickly.
Swiftly, silently, Kate moves to the exit of the tent. Juliet's still crying and everything inside of Kate protests against leaving her alone in her like this. But it's true what her cold and detached mind says: There's nothing she can do. There's nothing Juliet wants her to do. Nothing but leave.
And so she does. She leaves, but even as her feet carry her away from the tent, her thoughts keep turning the things that happened inside. The image of Juliet rocking on her heels, crying beside her bed will forever be implanted in her mind, she knows. She also knows that from now on she'll never see the other woman in the same light as before.
She still doesn't know if Juliet's not still working for Ben and she never got an answer as to who Rachel is, but somehow it doesn't matter so much anymore.
Kate went inside that tent, seeking answers and all she got were more questions. But in a way, it doesn't feel like that. She did get answers. Not concrete ones, not words, not explanations of actions, motives, decisions. She got something else. She got a glimpse at a Juliet with all walls demolished and smoking on the ground. A glimpse at someone vulnerable, longing and loving. In fact, she got more than she could ever have hoped to get.
She just wishes her insight didn't come at such a price. She made Juliet cry even though it wasn't intentionally and here she is contemplating the quality of the information she gained from that. Sometimes, she truly disgusts herself. Maybe the cold and unfeeling one is her, not Juliet.
Kate looks back at the tent and thinks of the woman inside. And she wonders if now that she can't wait for a chance to really get to know the other woman, she's ever going to get it. The irony, oh the irony.
"I'm sorry" she tells the tent. And then she turns around and walks away, to the beach. Because it's all she can do.
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