Elliott woke to the sound of her alarm blaring, quickly flipping over and silencing the piercing noise with a smack, then burrowing back under the covers. She wasn't normally one to stay in bed, but the pressure of the day ahead seemed to weigh heavily on her shoulders, and she wasn't ready to face it quite yet. Her dreams were plagued with visions of witch hunters and darkness, cement walls and a man with a scar above his eye, the word witch carved in blood. That's all her dreams seemed to be about lately, death and destruction, but she always did have an overactive imagination.
Still, she couldn't deny it was getting to her. It wasn't like she slept all that well to begin with, and Cordelia had seemed to take an acute interest in Elliott's sleeping habits, or lack thereof. The witch knew it came from a good place, but every time Cordelia fussed it was just another reminder that Elliott looked like shit, something she was keenly aware of these days.
A second alarm sounded, a sharp reminder that Elliott had failed at something once again, hitting snooze instead of silence. It didn't matter, all that mattered was Elliott was alone and she wasn't planning on getting up, at least not until she heard someone shift on the other bed.
Why the fuck did Madison sleep in here?
A guttural groan came from the other occupant, "Could ya turn that off?"
Misty. Why was she here? And what was she doing in bed at 10am?
"Sorry. I've got it." Elliott said, flinging the covers off and picking up her phone, silencing the alarm for good. She glanced over at the swamp witch, fighting off the questions that were pushing themselves onto the front of her tongue.
Not your problem. Stay out of it.
Well, staying in bed wasn't an option, not when your mother's girlfriend was 5 feet away and all too willing to share the intimate details of your life. The last thing Elliott needed was Cordelia to ask about increasing her therapy again or watch her every move, she had just convinced the woman she didn't need to watch her eat at every meal, although that might've had some ulterior motives, not that Elliott would ever admit that.
Slowly, Elliott rose from the bed and got dressed, throwing on whatever fell off her hangers as she shuffled them around. It was a minimal effort kind of day. She didn't even want to deal with her hair, pulling it into a quick bun so you couldn't see the knots, not even bothering to look in the mirror. She headed downstairs and made a beeline for the counter, coffee was a must, especially since all the girls were sitting at the table and gossiping like it was their favorite sport.
"Jesus, did you let Cordelia pretend to be blind and dress you today?" Madison snarked, only getting an eye roll and a grunt from the teenage girl, "Oh, someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed."
"Tired." Elliott mumbled in response, slinking down into a chair and resting her forehead on the table. The girls laughed for a moment before continuing on with their conversation. Apparently one of the girls at home for the holidays had an incident and ended up in jail for the night after trying to use a fake at a club.
"I told her it wasn't going to work. She looks like she's twelve years old!" Mallory quipped.
"Yea, well apparently that wasn't all, she tried to use her powers to get in once that failed, bet Cordelia is going to get her panties in a twist about that." Madison scoffed, "Then she'll yell at me for being a bad influence."
"Well you did tell her where to get it." Coco said.
"I also told the brat that there was no way it was going to work and she was wasting her time. The only one of those young brats who could pass as 21 was Elle, and that wouldn't even work now that she has a major case of baby face." Madison sneered before turning to the girl, "No offense, but you're aging like Benjamin Button."
"She's got Cordelia's genes, of course she is." Coco said, "Honestly that gene pool is a crime."
"True, Fiona never looked a day over 50." Queenie piped in.
"That's just because she was literally sucking out people's souls." Madison sneered as Misty walked into the room, "The only person Cordelia is sucking the soul out of is swamp rat."
"Well good mornin' ta ya too." Misty grumbled as Madison strolled out, searching through the fridge for a moment before pulling out an entire sleeve of bagels, "I'm goin' down ta the swamp for a bit. Clear my head."
"Can I go with you?" Elliott asked, desperately needing a reprieve from the girls seemingly endless banter, "If I don't get out of the house today I think I might kill someone."
Misty smirked a bit before a sad look overtook her features, "Not today darlin'. I'm gonna be there for a while." Elliott nodded and Misty was quick to clear the room, heading back upstairs and out the door only a few minutes later, not even saying goodbye.
Lunchtime came and went without a single appearance from Cordelia, which was unusual. Even on her busiest days, if she wasn't coming to check on Elliott she was at least grabbing more coffee. Still, Elliott pushed down the weird feeling she had in her gut and kept herself busy, glancing over a new book of spells Cordelia had put together just for her. It wasn't her business, as much as she wanted it to be. She needed to take a backseat for this one, she had enough going on.
"Is your mom and swampy still going at it?" Madison asked as she strolled back into the kitchen at half past one, only confirming what Elliott already thought, they had a fight, and that's why everyone was acting so strangely.
"No, she's been stuck up in her office all day and Misty left, went back to the swamp to clear her head or something. Said she'd be a while." Elliott responded nonchalantly. She knew what Madison was doing, trying to bait her to get her involved in whatever this shit show was, but it wasn't happening. Between everything that happened with David the night previous and all the other shit, she was one fight away from a breakdown, and that was the last thing she wanted.
"You do realize mommy dearest had a meltdown last night and they basically broke up, right?" Madison sneered, Elliott barely glancing up.
"I do now, thank you." Elliott muttered, "Is there something you need?"
"You really don't care at all?" Madison asked, "Misty is basically your other mom."
"And they're grown ass adults, Maddie." Elliott said, finally making eye contact, "I was told to butt out, not like I don't have enough shit going on already."
"Like you ever listen." Madison spit back, "Oh that's right, David still hasn't come back, has he?"
"Nope." Elliott responded, "Once again, can I help you with something? Or are you trying to make me lose my shit?"
"I'm not trying to make you lose your shit, genius. I'm not that big of an asshole." Madison said, "But you are the only one that can seem to make them get their shit together."
"Kind of hard to do that when one of them isn't even here." Elliott bit back.
"Oh, so you are upset about it." Madison said with a smirk, "God, getting you to crack is easier than getting Queenie all fired up. Piece of cake."
"Would you do us all a favor and fuck off?" Elliott fired back, standing and grabbing a few things from the fridge and making a plate.
"You're eating?" Madison asked, Elliott throwing her a glare.
"No, she hasn't left her office all morning. Someone has to be the adult here." Elliott grumbled, heading towards the stairs.
"Good luck with that." Madison muttered, rolling her eyes before heading outside to have a cigarette.
Elliott stood with the full plate for a moment, gauging her ability to hold her tongue. It helped that she didn't even know what the fight was about, although it wasn't exactly a reach to assume it had to do with her, it always had to do with her. Lately, it felt like Elliott couldn't take a breath without fucking something up. Maybe staying in bed all day wasn't such a bad idea, at least then she wouldn't accidentally say or do the wrong thing. It's not like Cordelia would come out of her office long enough to notice, she was too busy avoiding her own problems.
When Cordelia heard the knock on the door, she was knee deep in recertification's for the next school year. They weren't due until April, but she always did them early just in case. That, and she may have been avoiding a certain blonde, not that she would freely admit it. "Sorry, I'm busy right now!" She called out, hoping whoever it was would just walk away.
"It's me." She heard Elliott mumble from outside the door, "I brought lunch, but I can just leave it outside the door…"
Cordelia hadn't even realized how long she had been working, immediately dropping her head into her hands. She hadn't even thought about how she was going to explain this all to her daughter, that was if Misty hadn't told her already. "No it's fine, Elle. Come in." She picked her head up as Elliott slowly pushed open the door, offering her a small smile, "Hey, you. How did you sleep?"
"Fine." Elliott said quietly, "Sorry, just thought I'd bring you sustenance."
"Don't apologize, sweetheart. I always love seeing your face, I just lost track of time. Thank you for thinking about me." Cordelia said with a smile as Elliott set the plate down, "Any plans for today? Or am I going to have to drag you out of the greenhouse with Misty again?"
Elliott softly bit her lip, which Cordelia had learned was never a good sign, "Uh no. Misty left… to go to the swamp, I mean. I asked if I could tag along but she said she'd be awhile, so I'll probably just hang out in the library or something." Cordelia braced herself for the thousand questions she could see flash across Elliott's face, but they never came. "I'll let you get back to it." Elliott said quietly, moving towards the door once again.
"Hey," Cordelia called out, stopping the girl in her tracks, "I'll try to finish this as quickly as I can and we'll do something, alright?" Elliott stopped, only for a moment, and gave a hesitant nod before quietly slipping out the door and shutting it behind her.
Cordelia stared at the closed door for a few moments, her collected exterior quickly fading as she finally grasped the severity of what she had done. Surely, she should have expected it, given just how much remorse Cordelia felt over the whole ordeal, but Misty wasn't one to flee. She was a fighter, a dig your heels in and stand your ground until there's nothing left kind of girl, and the supreme had taken the fight right out of her.
It would have been easier to face it all had she woken up that morning and blamed it on a rash decision. It would be easier to apologize to the love of her life if she could package it under the guise of an overreaction, but she couldn't, not when those fears were ever-present and gnawing at the lining of her stomach like an ulcer, and definitely not when Elliott was treating her like a ticking time bomb.
As hard as Elliott tried, it was always relatively easy to tell when she was upset. Not only was her anxiety off the charts, but she became frustratingly complacent, like if she revealed that she was human the world would implode. The one thing Elliott did have in her corner is that Cordelia always had a hard time figuring out exactly why she was so upset. Cordelia did have her guesses based on the obvious, Misty was gone, David and her were fighting, Cordelia and Misty were fighting, not to mention the fight Cordelia and Elliott had the night previous. But Elliott's mind had always worked a little differently than Cordelia's had, and every time Cordelia tried to pinpoint exactly what was going on, it always made her feel like she was picking a number on a roulette wheel. There was never a method that could be established, a clear compass to point her in the right direction. Elliott was constantly changing from one mindset to the other, a constant battle raging in her own mind, and as hard as Cordelia tried, she could never tell which side was winning.
She had to cut her daughter some slack, she'd basically had the rug pulled out from under her by every important person in her life, of course she was anxious, she had lost her footing. David, Misty, and Cordelia had always been her points of stability, and right now they all were in shambles, and Cordelia didn't know quite how to fix it. Oh god, how had she screwed this all up so badly? She was supposed to be the one constant in Elliott's life, not the one to make it all come crashing down. If she had just kept her mouth shut like she wanted to, if she just had time to think, this never would have happened.
But then again, maybe it was thinking that got her into this in the first place. If Cordelia had learned one thing from her mother, it was that the best way to deal with your emotions was to keep them buried, a trait all the Goode women seemed to inherit, although in different ways. Elliott buried hers with meekness, focusing her attention on her books and studies, keeping everyone at arm's length until she had broken them down into something more manageable, that was unless Cordelia pulled them out of her with her bare hands. Cordelia drowned herself in work and duty, needing something to ground her when it felt like she was in a deep hole with no possible escape, and everyone already knew exactly what Fiona did to ease the ache.
The more Cordelia thought about it, the more she felt like a hypocrite, diving back into her work once more. How was she supposed to teach Elliott to be more open when she wasn't herself? Elliott was a smart kid, she knew Cordelia was avoiding everyone, and she knew exactly why. Didn't Cordelia push Misty away so she could focus on Elliott? A lot of good that was doing, Cordelia was finding every reason to avoid her. She wanted to say it was only temporary, but based off the hollow ache in her chest, it wouldn't be ending anytime soon.
Meanwhile, Elliott had made her way back into her room, flopping on the bed and giving a dramatic sigh to no one in particular. A part of her knew, realistically, that Misty would be back. As dramatic as Cordelia and Misty's relationship seemed, it actually was the strongest Elliott had ever witnessed. Even when Cordelia was melting down and pushing Misty away, there never was a second that Elliott didn't believe they loved each other whole heartedly, and it usually was enough to pull them right back together. Even if they didn't, if this really was the end and Misty was gone for good, it wasn't like Elliott didn't know exactly where to find her, although Cordelia letting her go to the swamp was questionable.
Still, the fear had lodged itself in her throat, the pressure building and building. David was always the one Elliott would talk to when she got like this, when she felt stupid and silly and needed a reminder that no matter what changed that things would be ok. But David was the majority of the problem here, and Elliott would be an idiot if she didn't admit that she had seen this coming. David had just as many issues as Elliott did, probably more, but he was better at hiding it. He held an iron grip on the ones he loved, and he didn't like the idea of anyone or anything taking them away from him. Elliott being adopted was a huge blow, as supportive as he was, and she knew it was only a matter of time until he started to act out. Elliott had done her best to try and reassure him that he was still just as important to her as he was before, but he was just too reactive right now for any of it to get through.
Elliott had to admit, she didn't exactly go about it in the right way. The kiss seemed impulsive and stupid, and she did get why things went down the way they did, especially since Elliott was involved with someone else. But, Elliott would be lying to herself if she said the accident wasn't a huge wake up call. For a moment, David was dead, and Elliott wasn't exactly sure how she would live without him, if she could. It wasn't that way with Trevor, or anyone else for that matter. They had always been a team, and they always would be.
It would have all come out sooner had Elliott not found out that David was seeing someone. She would've told him, and if she had maybe things would have been different. But Elliott hated the idea of stealing someone away. She wanted David to be happy, period, even if that wasn't with her.
Somehow, in search of handling things the right way, Elliott had screwed it all up on quite possibly the worst possible day. David knew everything about her, knew her likes and dislikes, what scared her, he knew her better than she knew herself. He was the one to figure out exactly why Elliott was all over the place on this day, and he always was there for her, that was until today. His absence told her everything she needed to know. This fight was different, and it wasn't something that they would get over anytime soon.
In a way, it was cruelly fitting that the day she was orphaned was the day every important person in her life chose to abandon her. Elliott knew that wasn't exactly a fair assessment, two of the three had absolutely no idea what was going on inside her head, and it wasn't fair of her to expect them to put their own troubles aside for her. It was just poetic, a subtle fuck you from the universe, a reminder that nothing in Elliott's life stayed good for long.
Elliott never knew why the day affected her so much, or so deeply. It wasn't like she really remembered her parents, or the accident that only she managed to survive. She didn't miss her parents, because really there wasn't much to miss. They were good parents, and Elliott knew that, but their time with her was fleeting. Two years was merely a moment in Elliott's life, a blip on the radar. She didn't dream about them, didn't try to recall the sound of their voices, she hardly even thought about them, which only added to her guilt. Her parents were there for two years, and Cordelia had only been there for about 8 months. Did that mean she didn't care about Cordelia like she thought she did? If something were to happen, would Elliott miss her?
Elliott hadn't even thought to tell Cordelia about the significance of the day. It felt silly to bring up a problem she had no real explanation for, and she still wasn't used to having to explain the intricate details of her life, she wasn't used to someone wanting to know her that well. She should have told her before, Cordelia deserved that, but Elliott didn't, and it felt selfish to bring it up now when her mother obviously had problems of her own. Cordelia had a coven to lead, she didn't have the time for Elliott's irrational antics.
Elliott stood and made her way over to a mirror, freeing her hair from its confines and attempting to pull a brush through it. It had always been unruly, that's why her foster parents usually just cut it short, but Cordelia never pushed for a haircut and in turn, Elliott let it grow out, although she was seriously regretting it right now. Standing in front of a mirror for long periods of time had never been Elliott's friend, especially now that she was starting to gain weight again. Her face had filled out, her cheekbones less prominent, less intimidating. Madison was right, she did have a major case of baby face, and she hated it. She hated how soft she looked, like her outsides matched her very mushy insides. In truth, she liked to look scary, more angular, it was like her own personal shield.
Shit, did I just admit that I liked looking sick?
Elliott had never paid that much attention to her weight, as weird as that sounded for someone with a diagnosed eating disorder. She wasn't one to count her calories or step on a scale religiously. Everything was purely based on how she looked and what she needed. When she was in her previous homes, it was all about survival. Sharp cheekbones made her look older, more experienced, and Elliott had found that the skinnier she was, the less brutal the beatings were. It probably was because she looked like she would break a rib from just a poke to the gut, but Elliott wasn't one to question it. It worked, but here, there wasn't really a reason for it to work anymore.
It should have been an easy fix if it worked that way. She wasn't in danger anymore, so everything should have resolved, right? She shouldn't have been fighting tooth and nail through a relapse no one knew anything about. She shouldn't have been skipping meals when Cordelia was too busy to watch her, shouldn't have been standing in the mirror analyzing every single imperfection on her body, but here she was, spiraling. Maybe it was because there still was danger, something Elliott could feel in her bones. Something was coming, she just wasn't sure what. Trauma was a bitch, and Elliott was finding it harder and harder to distinguish between actual threats and her own sense of anxiety. Elliott couldn't explain it, but she felt like she was about to unravel, and not in the way she had in the past, not in a way that could be fixed.
A door slamming was enough to jar Elliott out of her thoughts, quickly dropping her brush and stepping away from the mirror. "Hey loser," Madison said as she stepped into Elliott's room, scanning the room before her eyes landed on the closet, "Oh wow, swamp rat really did pack up all her shit and leave, not that she had much stuff to begin with."
"Can I help you with something, Madison?" Elliott grumbled back, definitely not needing the reminder.
"Cordelia put us in charge of dinner, so we're getting takeout from that Indian place she hates just to spite her. Want to come?" Madison said with a sly grin.
"No thanks, I'm good. You go ahead." Elliott mumbled, Madison giving her a careful once over.
"Are you doing ok?" She asked after a moment, Elliott throwing her a glare, "Jesus, relax. I'm just trying to be a friend here. You act like it's not obvious that you're avoiding everyone."
"I'm not avoiding everyone." Elliott said indignantly, "I just have stuff to do."
"Yea, ok." Madison said sarcastically, "Go read a book or something. You're freaking everyone out."
"Thanks for the memo." Elliott said sarcastically, shooting the movie star a pained smile before brushing past her and heading to the library. She wasn't one to listen to Madison's instructions, but she had quickly decided her thoughts weren't her friend today, so she picked up one of her favorite books and curled up on the couch under some blankets, hoping to get a moment of reprieve.
Apparently, she must have fallen asleep, because when she opened her eyes Cordelia was towering above her and shaking her gently. "It's dinner time, babe." Cordelia said softly, giggling a bit when Elliott let out a grumble, "Come on, up."
"I'm up, I'm up." Elliott mumbled, her fingertips absentmindedly grazing her temple before finding purchase on the bridge of her nose.
Cordelia eyed her daughter carefully as her fingers carded through the hair on the back of Elliott's head, "Are you feeling alright?"
Elliott shook her head, "I'm fine, just have a headache."
Cordelia didn't seem convinced, "You look pale."
"Mama, I'm fine." Elliott grumbled, hoping she kept any ounce of irritation out of her voice, but Cordelia knew the notes in her tone like it was her favorite melody, had spent hours memorizing every pitch and fall. As much as Elliott tried to push it down, Cordelia could hear the looming threat.
If you don't stop now, I'll bite.
"Ok, ok, let's go down." Cordelia said, deciding it really wasn't the time to push any further, not unless she wanted to spend dinner playing referee.
The second the two reached the kitchen Cordelia was already handing Elliott some Tylenol, knowing that Madison had a particular knack for knowing when Elliott was wound just a little too tight, and she never failed to capitalize on it. Still, getting Elliott to take medicine was always a struggle, and she could see the girl hesitate for a moment before finally giving in and throwing the pills into her mouth and swallowing them dry.
The two sat down for dinner and all seemed to be going well, at least until Coco decided to steer the conversation in a different direction. "So have you heard anything from David yet?" She asked Elliott, who simply shook her head.
"I'm sorry, but how much of his shit are you going to put up with before you kick his sorry ass to the curb?" Madison sneered, and Elliott visibly tensed.
"Madison…" Cordelia said, warning the girl to tread carefully. While Cordelia couldn't deny that David's behavior lately, especially towards Elliott, was absolutely a concern, she knew the relationship between them was far more complicated than any of the girls understood, and certainly was not something they could comment freely on.
"What? He treats her like shit and everyone can see it." Madison fired back.
"So do you." Queenie quipped.
"At least I own that I'm a shitty person. He jerks her around like a fucking tetherball and then blames her for it." Madison replied.
Cordelia glanced at Elliott, feeling her energy spike as she clenched and unclenched her jaw. This was exactly what she was worried about, but at least Elliott was trying to hold it in, taking a deep breath before she spoke, "I can handle myself, but thank you for your concern."
Coco didn't seem to take the hint, although she wasn't known for picking up on that kind of stuff, "Sweetie, maybe Madison has a point. We love David, you know we do, but he's been really weird lately."
"A little?" Madison snarked, which only made Elliott roll her eyes.
"You don't have room to talk." Elliott spit back, Cordelia bracing for impact.
"Well I didn't have to say much to get him into bed. Dude was practically begging." Madison shot off, only for her head to snap to the side as Queenie punched her in the jaw, everyone gasping.
"I didn't do that." Queenie said defensively, holding up her hands.
"Girls!" Cordelia said loudly, but the command fell on deaf ears.
"Of course you didn't. Elliott was just too afraid to do it herself." Madison spit.
"Really?" Elliott fired back, "Come here, I was doing you a favor."
"Elliott…" Cordelia said sternly, reaching for the girl's arm, but Elliott pulled away and stood up as Madison confidently strolled towards her, "Elliott I'm serious, stop. Madison sit back down."
"You don't have to worry Cordi, she doesn't have the…" Madison started, only to be cut off by Elliott's right fist, her vision fading as she crumpled to the floor.
The room fell silent, a wide variance of the same horrified expression plastered on each of their faces, until Queenie let out a chuckle, "Damn. Who knew Elliott would be the one to show Hollywood what's up."
Elliott glanced back at Cordelia, but the supreme couldn't even think of what to say. Elliott didn't really need her to speak, however, and she quickly went to the fridge to hand Queenie an ice pack, then headed for her room, not even bothering to stop once Madison regained consciousness.