THE QUIET PLUCKING OF METAL STRING RANG OUT from the acoustic guitar as Corey sat on her bedroom floor, her back pressed against the cold wall. Madison slept on the bed across the room, an exhausted unmoving ball topped with the weight of a black cat. The musician took in a deep breath. Her mind wandered as she found a melody that fit the way she felt. She wanted to tell Madison the words she had so carelessly let slip in front of Zoe, but she couldn't bring herself to overwhelm the other girl so soon after her resurrection.
Instead, she let the blonde rest. She let Madison lay silently in the bed they occasionally shared as she let her real emotions flow through the tips of her fingers. She hummed to herself quietly before she found the words she was looking for.
"Make sure nobody sees you leave," she sighed. Her jaw rolled as she looked up at the ceiling above her. "Hood over your head, keep your eyes down." Her nose scrunched as she sang to herself quietly. "Tell your friends you're out for a run. You'll be flushed when you return." She could feel her face flinch involuntarily as she tried to maintain her volume. She kept her voice low, no more than a whisper over the sound of the guitar strings reverberating.
"Take the road less traveled by. Tell yourself you can always stop. What started in beautiful rooms ends with meetings in parking lots." Her volume picked up gradually as she squeezed her eyes shut. She lost herself in the melody, her emotions taking over and engulfing her ears in the combined sound of the instrument and her own voice. She couldn't hear the blonde shuffling in the sheets, barely awake but listening from afar.
Madison rolled over, causing Ophelia to let out a quiet huff. Her eyes squinted to catch a small glimpse of the redhead with her back pressed against the wall across from their bed. Their bed. It was foreign to Madison, having something they unwittingly shared. It came as second nature, something she never truly thought twice about in the long run. She listened as Corey's quiet voice made its way through the room.
"And that's the thing about illicit affairs, and clandestine meetings, and longing stares. It's born from just one single glance, but it dies and it dies and it dies a million little times." Corey sniffled. Her head tilted to the side to look out the glass double doors that led to the balcony.
She knew that, if anyone else in the coven had heard her playing, someone would enter the room and question her emotional state. She hadn't touched an instrument or hummed a single note in the twelve days that Madison had been missing. As far as Cordelia knew, the blonde was still nowhere to be found. She very well could have been in Los Angeles or New York City and no one would have had any clue.
"Leave the perfume on the shelf. That you picked out just for him, so you leave no trace behind like you don't even exist." Madison propped herself up on her elbow, trying not to strain her wounds. She tried her hardest to make out the redhead's figure from across the room but couldn't see more than the shadows that took over her.
"Take the words for what they are, a dwindling, mercurial high; a drug that only worked the first few hundred times." She watched as Corey's head bobbed back in her direction. Sitting upright, frozen, her eyes scanned the other girl from across the room. Madison knew Corey's eyes were closed. If they hadn't been, she would've stopped playing immediately.
"And that's the thing about illicit affairs, and clandestine meetings, and stolen stares. They show their truth one single time, but they lie and they lie and they lie a billion little times." Corey cleared her throat, an attempt to shake the emotion from her voice as she scrunched her nose. Her glasses shimmied down slightly as she let her head hang to look at the floorboards.
She could feel the tears welling up in her eyes as she opened them slowly. She took in the blemishes in the floor that surrounded her, a way to calm herself without breathing exercises or stopping herself from expressing her own raw emotions. She played the guitar a little louder across the bridge.
"And you wanna scream: don't call me kid, don't call me baby, look at this godforsaken mess that you made me. You showed me colors you know I can't see with anyone else." Madison swallowed hard. Her shoulders fell as she watched the redhead. She could feel the rattle in her chest as she heard the words that flowed from Corey's lips.
"Don't call me kid, don't call me baby, look at this idiotic fool that you made me. You taught me a secret language I can't speak with anyone else." Corey felt the hiccup of a sob threatening to escape from the center of her chest as she sang. Her bottom lip trembled. The thought of losing Madison returned even though the blonde was in the same room.
"And you know damn well, for you, I would ruin myself a million little times." The redhead's eyes drifted up towards the bed. Her breath caught in her throat as she realized Madison had been watching her. Slowly, her hands fell from the neck of the acoustic guitar. She sat up taller, her shoulders squaring as her eyes scanned the other girl from afar.
"It sounded really pretty," Madison spoke quietly. She picked at the comforter in her lap as she locked her sleepy gaze with Corey's panicked one across the room. She held in the sigh that threatened to leave her lips. "And I hope you don't really feel that way," she paused, swallowing hard.
"Like this is just some secret fling that's bound to end because we can't," she paused once more, trying to grasp the words floating around in her head. "Be publicly open with what we have." Madison let her tongue dart out to wet her lips. She hoped she was voicing her concerns as delicately as she could but, if she was completely honest with herself, she was afraid.
She was afraid of her inability to feel comfortable with the possible backlash of coming out. She was afraid of losing her relationship because she wasn't ready to be public with that part of herself. She was afraid of what people would say after denying allegations for years just to say by the way, you were right.
Corey could see the sadness in the other girl's face, the moonlight that illuminated the bed highlighted the other girl folding in on herself. Madison was letting her fears get the best of her, something Corey hadn't seen the blonde do in years. Her brow furrowed, trying to connect the possible dots that would lead the other girl to feel those things. When the realization clicked, it was etched into her features.
"Oh, no, no, no." Corey placed the guitar against the floor, quickly rising to her feet. She moved with soft thuds across the gap, bounding towards the large mattress in the middle of the bedroom. She hadn't meant to make the blonde feel as though she thought that they were temporary. Corey's eyes scanned the other girl from head to toe as she tried to find the right words to say. She was grasping at straws, her mouth growing dry as the panic truly set in.
"Maddie, that's not what I meant." She climbed into the bed. Her hands found themselves against the blonde's thigh in an instant. Madison's fingers gently intertwined with her own, a sign that the blonde was open to listening to the words she needed to say. Corey let one hand snake around the other girl's waist, pulling her against her own chest. She rested her chin against the top of the blonde's head as they leaned into each other.
The blonde nuzzled into Corey's side. She moved slightly as Ophelia found her nesting spot directly between the two of them. A content purr filled the awkward silence as small paws began to kneed against the weighted comforter. Madison let out a shaky breath as she looked at her hands, waiting for Corey to continue.
"I don't know how to explain myself, but I didn't mean it that way." Yes you do, she thought. You know the exact words to say. Stop being a spineless baby and tell her how you feel. She cleared her throat as Madison nodded against her chest. It was the only sign that the blonde had been listening to her words.
With every breath that the actress took in, her chest rattled. She was holding in her tears. Her bottom lip trembled at the reminder that what they had could never be public outside of what they already shared. The one thing the actress wanted more than anything was to be able to attend a gala with Corey as her date instead of someone her management had planted in her place.
"I," love you. She didn't say it. She couldn't say it. Corey couldn't understand why she was so afraid to say the words out loud. She had already said them once, but suddenly every time she tried to say them she panicked. Her chest tightened; her throat closed up; breathing became a struggle. She worked to take a single shaky breath in as she began to word-vomit.
"I didn't take your death very well, if you couldn't already tell." She let out a light laugh, as if they were sharing an awkward inside joke. "It wasn't your time to go, and I wasn't ready to let you go, and no one would believe me." She took in a deep breath as her chest finally relaxed just enough to inhale without struggle. Her jaw rolled as she tried to keep herself from crying. She'd done enough of that while Madison was gone.
"I spiraled. Hard. Everything I did was to try and get you back." She could feel Madison begin to hold her tighter. The blonde hadn't made a single sound, but she remained planted against Corey's chest, taking in the information provided to her. "When my cries for help were met with no response, I grew desperate. I turned off my phone early on. I was tired of receiving calls from management over deadlines and interviews when you were missing." There was an audible hiccup mixed with her words. She had assumed that the blonde had fallen asleep. Her breathing was level, her grip only as tight as the hand that held a fist full of her shirt.
"I was a mess. You were dead, and it was my fault. Fiona killed you because of me." When the words left her lips, Madison's head snapped in Corey's direction. The blonde looked at her with angry, waterlogged eyes. Her eyes, somehow dulled from her short dance with death, shimmered with the tears that tried to force themselves out. They scanned Corey's face, searching for an explanation. Her memory was still foggy, still missing large chunks from the alcohol induced blackout.
Madison's jaw clenched as her brows furrowed. Her grey toned skin seemed to glisten in the moonlight. Corey swallowed hard, taking in the new details of the other girl that she hadn't seemed to notice in the days prior. The blonde's eyes had once been scattered with yellow and green flecks but were now a dullish rust brown. Her lips were turned downward in a frown.
The cracked portions of skin around the corners of her mouth struggled to heal themselves on their own. The scar across her throat bobbed up and down every time the girl swallowed; a perpetual Adam's apple; a reminder of Corey's failures to protect her. The redhead raised her hand to let her thumb trace the bottom of the healing gash across Madison's neck. The blonde's tongue dipped out to wet her lips as her features transitioned from anger to concern.
"Corinna, what are you talking about?" Her voice cracked. Madison's eyes scanned Corey's face once again, trying to read through the wall the other girl had suddenly put up. Corey's nose twitched. She tried to figure out how to tell the blonde what happened without actually saying the words, but ultimately gave up.
"Madison..." Corey paused, swallowing hard. She knew that, the moment the words left her lips, her days would be numbered. "I'm the next Supreme."