a gap a thousand words too wide ˑ over and out and stop ˑ a settling
Will’s house, such as it is, is not quite what she expects. She doesn’t have much energy to look around, though – she’s exhausted, and it’s a wonder she’s still awake.
“I don’t know why you’re here, frankly,” Willow sighs, and even though she looks so different, the attitude is the same, the faux-tough, dismissive annoyance, the sense that she knows everything, and Cassandra is inclined to agree with her. She doesn’t know why she came here, either, other than a lack of options, and she’s ready to start a fight just for the hell of it – “but you can stay as long as you need to.”
Well, she still kind of wants to start a fight. Not that she’d win. But what are her options? She can’t respond with any kindness of her own, mostly because she doesn’t know how, so she just sits down on the couch that Will is straightening up. It’s… definitely not Will’s couch. (Black, and Will’s never liked black for fashion or accessories, and a Victor LaValle book with a raven-headed bookmark on it on the side-table.)
“Who else do you live with?” Cassandra manages to ask. Stupid question. Not the first thing you ask your sister after more than a year of no contact.
Will casts a funny look at her, and Cassandra imagines she can feel the searching tendrils of Will’s curious mind through her thoughts. She’s very possibly imagining it. “Avery. You’ll meet them later probably.”
Not much of an answer. She doesn’t know what she expected. The familiarity of this is depressing. It doesn’t matter whether Will is in jeans and polo shirt or glittery makeup, and whether Cassandra is perfectly poised or shattered into a hundred pieces, the uneasy imbalance is the same.
I wish I knew how to love you better, she thinks, and she feels bad for a moment when she sees the sadness flash over Will’s face. But she knows perfectly well that Will feels the exact same way.
“Avery is cool. They, uh –“ A small twitch of a near-smile flickers over Willow’s face, the face that looks so much more like hers than it should, “They helped me sort out some of my shit.”
Why isn’t she screaming at her yet?
Why isn’t she angry? Furious? Shocked or surprised or horrified?
If Cassandra knew how to respond outside of her set of learned reactions, she’d ask it in a scream. Instead, she just nods, quiet and removed. Is Will concerned about her? Concerned about what she’ll do? Not for the first time she’s jealous of Will’s ability, the mindreading that she wasn’t even sure was real for so long, the psychic powers that sound like they’re out of an X-men comic. They share so much. They should share this, too.
Instead, she eyes the pillow and sheet on the couch. Will shrugs with a small laugh. “Sorry. It’s a two-bedroom apartment. We don’t exactly have a spare bedroom.”
“That’s alright. I didn’t expect one.”
Call, response, call, response –
She’s out of answers. She’s out of responses. And she keeps waiting for Will to ask what happened.
Will doesn’t do anything at all. She just excuses herself, and Cassandra sits in a stranger’s living room, staring at the half-finished art on the walls, the dirty dishes on the table, the bookshelf of mixed videogames and sci-fi pulp novels.
I want to go home.
She figured she’d find herself thinking that at some point. Not so soon.
Cass has a half-formed thought that she’ll get to her feet and everything will be fine, she’ll just go home, and the claws that have been tightening on the sides of her head give way instead, and her legs collapse. The carpet is blue, and close, and –