"I-I don't know what your game is lately Chloe, but it won't work. Just because you come to school wearing unfashionable clothes with no makeup, and get a few new friends, it doesn't make you 'one of the gang', you know. You can't undo years of bullying just like… oh, who am I trying to kid? This is all just some warped trick you're playing on everyone like with Alya's mother, isn't it? Any day now, you'll turn around us all, laugh in our faces and say 'gotcha'! What the heck was I thinking, you even had me fooled for a second there! Sometimes, even I forget how good you are… ouch."
"Okay Sabrina, I think you should take a rest now. Ever since we got here, I've let you call me every single name under the sun and bring up all the indiscretions I've ever done, even as you were having that huge bandage wrapped around your head. Don't you think you're overexerting yourself a little, considering you said just a few seconds ago you were feeling a bit woozy? Why don't you take it easy for a minute, and at least give me the chance to explain…"
"Don't waste your breath Chloe, I've heard it all before. You'll spout some manipulative garbage about how 'things will be better from now on', and buy me an expensive gift to 'seal the deal'. How is my silver friendship brooch these days, by the way? Getting it prepared for the big Internet Live Event tonight, when you're going to, quote: 'smash it to smithereens in front of an audience of millions'? This might surprise you, but I hope you get record ratings for your immature little broadcast, so as many people as possible will realise how pathetic and petty…"
"Sigh, Sabrina, seeing as I have an almost infinite number of things to apologise for already, I might as well start with that one. I'm truly sorry that I said I was going to do that, those words were spoken in the heat of the moment when I was upset by something you… look, it doesn't matter anymore. The fact is, and I know this'll be almost impossible for you to believe, but… I-I've missed you."
"You know what, Chloe? For one of the first times in your life, I actually think you're telling the truth… from your own selfish perspective, of course. You miss having someone to push around. You miss having someone do your homework. You miss having someone with the mental fragility to do anything you command, from shutting other girls in toilet cubicles on picture day to stealing secret diaries from the second floors of bakeries. Gosh, now that I'm saying it out loud, I can't believe some of the things I did to stay on your good side! Thank goodness I've finally learned a little skill called 'self-respect'. Better late than never, I suppose."
When Mrs Binoche had seen Chloe Bourgeois-Marigold for the third time in two days wandering into her clinic, she was about to make a mildly snarky remark about the heiress maybe setting up a tent just outside, as she obviously liked the little room so much she should relocate herself closer for easy access.
As soon as she saw the dazed girl with the swollen head leaning against Chloe upon entry though, she immediate became all business-like. As quick as a flash, she'd bought out a whole paraphernalia of medical equipment designed to deal with this specific injury, including soothing creams and band aids of many different sizes.
Accompanying them was a seemingly endless barrage of questions about whether Sabrina was in any pain (of course, duh), if she happened to have blurred or fuzzy vision (obviously, her current pair of glasses were now total write-offs) and if she wanted her father to be contacted (the answer was no: she'd never have forgiven herself if Roger was on a stakeout, and because of his worrying he ended up letting the bad guys get away).
Sabrina hated being made a fuss of, especially after her stated permanent emancipation from Chloe and her choice to 'go it alone', insisting that she'd be perfectly fine. The concerned nurse refused to let such a pronounced lump go completely untreated though, and it wasn't long before the redhead found herself with stinging lotion rubbed onto the affected area, along with a nice big dressing that made her look like she was wearing a turban.
Despite trying to appear as magnanimous as possible to appeal to Sabrina's forgiving nature, Chloe couldn't help but giggle slightly at the unusual sight of her old friend looking so ridiculous in her new headgear. It was only when Mrs Binoche left temporarily, murmuring something about 'going to find a textbook to help me decide what to do next' and unexpectedly leaving Chloe in charge of supervising the patient, she realised she'd made a terrible mistake.
For Sabrina, unsurprisingly considering the heiress's less-than-pleasant track record of picking on others, thought she was being maliciously mocked. This in turn had quickly led to Sabrina's extended and impassioned rant to Chloe, which'd given both her and the target of her disdain a headache, and they weren't even a quarter of the way into the things they wanted to say to each other.
"Oh, Sabrina. If I could only take back every single horrible thing I've done to you and everyone else since we met, I would. As you're well aware though, that's totally impossible, so what else can I possibly do to convince you that I'm a changed person?" Chloe struggled to make any headway with the increasingly disconnected Sabrina, and was now almost reduced to a state of pitiful begging. "As I've already said repeatedly ever since we arrived here, the incident in the classroom was a complete…"
"...'Success' from your point of view, I'm sure." Sabrina scoffed, arms crossed and finding the wall much more fun than the heiress's endless pleading. "I heard you shout my name out loud, the second before you sent the door smashing right into my temple! A sign of your usual gloating when you've done something bad definitely, but also absolute proof that you meant every bit of force that went into that shove! You must think I was born yesterday! Not that you ever cared to ask me when I was born, when was the last time you bought me a card or present of any description for my birthday, hmm? Oh, that's right… never."
"S-Sabrina, I only yelled your name because I was so desperate to talk to you, after I heard what you told Nino when the two of you were deskmates for a day." Chloe shook her head in frustration at the misunderstanding, before a bit of her old pride suddenly popped to the surface and she tried to redress the balance a bit. "B-Besides, despite the fact that I'm by far the worst offender of the pair of us, you have to admit, you're not exactly smelling of roses yourself, are you? You could've quite easily said 'no' to any of the things I ordered you to do, but you never did. Also, remember just a couple of days ago? When I almost got taken into care because of something you told one of the teachers? What was that all about?!"
"W-Well, you'd put on the performance of a 'changed person' a little too well, hadn't you? And when Ms Mendeleiev asked me straight out in her office if you were acting any 'different' from usual, what else was I supposed to say? Then, the subject of your 'mysterious injuries' came up, and…" Sabrina frowned that her interest in Chloe's welfare might be interpreted as some sort of diabolical revenge plot. "Oh, why am I telling you all this? There's so much mutual suspicion between us, we shan't be able to trust each other ever again. I mean, you're even talking to Nino about me behind my back now… wait, what?!"
The apparent hypocrisy of Sabrina being irritated at Chloe for confiding in the DJ about their relationship problems, when she'd apparently done exactly the same thing, was somewhat overshadowed by her next reaction.
Sabrina's cheeks flushed as red as her hair, and she began stuttering incoherently upon recognition of what the heiress might have found out from Nino.
"H-He wouldn't. H-He couldn't. N-Nino Is a good guy w-who would never betray my trust, a-and…"
"...'And' is susceptible to a bit of 'arm twisting', literally." Chloe allowed herself the faintest of smiles, before kneeling down to address the jittery Sabrina solemnly. " I know that you really want to be my friend again. You cried buckets the night we 'broke up' for good, didn't you? Nino's not the only one you told either, is he? You even confided in Marinette that you missed me like crazy, despite everything I've done. The only thing stopping you from speaking to me again was your father's distaste for my past behaviour, something which I'll quite happily admit he was absolutely right to be mad at. Well, even if it takes another hundred years, I'll prove to you that the 'old Chloe' you knew and feared is dead and gone forever. All I ask for is one more chance, nothing more. We don't even have to go back to being friends again right away: you can just observe my attitude in the coming weeks and months, and maybe one day in the future, we could give it another try. Not as 'mistress and slave', but as true equals. So, what do you say?"
Sabrina's brain felt like a merry-go-round at this time, and it wasn't only because of her disorienting head injury. It was true that her separation from Chloe had hit her hard, as scattered between all the nastier memories of bullying and outright cruelty, there had been plenty of nicer moments along the way.
Most of these admittedly, had involved the heiress's exuberant passion for expensive fashion and the constant application of garish nail polish, but there were exceedingly rare occasions when they'd actually done something that Sabrina chose.
Although Chloe hadn't exactly been thrilled at the redhead's twin hobbies of extra-hard algebra quizzes or complicated scientific dioramas, she'd still stuck them out and hadn't complained too much. Once every four minutes to be exact, which was pretty impressive for her.
This just proved to Sabrina what she'd always suspected: Chloe did have a side to her which wasn't completely repellant, and it was up to her to try and expand upon it. After many failed attempts though, she was about to give up when the untimely death of her beloved granny convinced her that life was too short to spend in the company of someone who doesn't respect you in any way, shape or form.
Against her better judgement however, and turning a deaf ear to the requests of her father who'd been trying to eliminate the disruptive influence of the heiress from his daughter's life for a long time, Sabrina decided to give her one last chance. An ultimatum basically, that she should try and start acting, well, less of a she-demon, and then maybe their friendship could survive. She didn't think it was very likely to work, especially considering what she already knew about the notoriously stubborn heiress, but you never know unless you give it a go, right?
Alas, everything that could go wrong with the much-anticipated confrontation, did so in the most spectacular manner. Sabrina was forced to communicate her personal feelings to no less than the entire student body, and teacher no less. Also, with Chloe in an even more irascible mood than normal, her chances of success were quickly reduced from slim to none. The death knell had surely tolled for their friendship, there was no going back now. The stage was empty, the final curtain had come down, please leave the area before the cleaners arrive.
Yet Sabrina couldn't quite let go. All kinds of nagging questions bothered her later on, despite her earlier bravado: Did I try hard enough to get her to reform? Should I have taken her traumatic past more into account whilst I spoke? Maybe if I engaged with her again in a quieter setting, I might have a better chance to talk her around. She just couldn't shake these distracting thoughts from her mind, which had led to her unconsciously confiding in others the past few days, just to make sure she'd done the 'right thing'.
So, even though she was still hopping mad about having an extreme close encounter with the classroom wall, and slightly upset that it'd taken Chloe this long to express any kind of regret for the things she'd done, Sabrina was not entirely against giving the heiress another shot. There would have to be major changes for sure, and it would certainly have to be on a trial basis at first, but if Chloe was telling the truth for a change about turning over a new leaf, maybe, just maybe...
...Hold on, she warned you that Chloe might try something like this. You're not going to fall for it, are you? You poor sucker. Without warning, and before Sabrina could fully consider all of her options, images of a lunchtime meeting came flooding through her head, involving a sniggering brunette and a single dire threat. You need to stick to the plan. It's the only way, and you know it, no matter how hard it might be. Unless you want to be trodden on all your life, you'll do as I say.
So intrusive and seductive was the imagined voice that all thoughts of 'forgiveness' and 'clemency' for the heiress were instantly put on the backburner, and Sabrina immediately composed herself enough to say something in a markedly clear tone, almost as if it'd been rehearsed in advance.
"I'll think about it Chloe, but for now there's something else I've been meaning to talk to you about. I didn't want to say anything in front of the others because it might embarrass you, but recently I've noticed you have some very animated conversations with a cuddly toy you keep hidden in your bag. It's… a bee, I bee-lieve? Ha ha. Get it?"
"Huh?!" Chloe had been expecting Sabrina to say a thousand and one different things in response to her heartfelt request, but certainly not that. She instinctively put her hands over her holdall protectively, before replying with a stammered "W-What do you mean, Sabrina? I-I don't know…"
"Come on Chloe, I thought you said you wouldn't lie to me any longer, your supposed 'best friend' who you want to make things right with again." Sabrina grinned encouragingly at the heiress, like a family member might do to an alcoholic during an 'intervention'. "I've seen you converse with it, in the bathroom, out of class when you think no-one else is around, other places too. You don't have to play dumb with me. You're a very lonely person, so you're just playing make-believe. I understand…"
"S-Sabrina…" A few beads of cold sweat began to drip down Chloe's brow, though she didn't know why as there was absolutely no way Sabrina could know the truth. Was there? "W-What are you trying to…?"
"Oh nothing, nothing whatsoever…" Sabrina grinned even more broadly, bringing to mind a charismatic crocodile about to snap it's jaws shut on it's latest prey. "I just want to meet it, that's all. I mean, I feel like thanking the creature who kept you company while I was away, and maybe even get to know it a little. What could be the harm in that? After all, what's it going to do… give me a nasty sting? Or put me to sleep? Ha ha ha…"
AUTHOR'S NOTE: A nice long chapter for you this time. Now I'm off to make a date on my calendar… 29th January, the next episode will be shown... :)
… In German… :,(