Hi, friends! TW for blood and mentions of torture apply, but it's all going to be okay. Title is based on the poem "You Were You Are Elegy" by Mary Jo Bang.


Every time Norma lugged her groceries up the steps, she regretted buying a house with two front doors. So tonight, a night as abysmal and miserable as any other night in White Pine Bay, she was too busy trying to open both front doors with armfuls of groceries to notice how still the house felt. Since Norman came home, the house…crawled. Every movement, every expression, every action had a voice—Norman sneaking into her room when the heat went out, Dylan's concerned stares slithering from room to room, the air constantly crackling with tension. Much as she tried to deny it, the atmosphere disturbed her. After a few blissful days in the bubble, waking up to Alex's kisses or cuddles, Norma woke every morning to tension in her shoulders and neck, as if even in sleep she couldn't shake the feeling of being watched.

But as she slid the bags of groceries off her arms and onto the kitchen table, she realized she would give anything to feel the air move or hear the creak of the floorboards outside her bedroom. No, something was wrong. The silence, the darkness, the freezing air stale like the house was holding its breath.

"Norman?"

Later, she'd wonder why she knew that she wouldn't find Norman in the house, why she knew that when she found him, the catastrophe wouldn't be over. She bolted from the kitchen to the staircase, comforted by the clack of her heels splitting the silence. She took the stairs two at a time, desperate to ensure that Norman was home, harmless, safe and sound, perhaps asleep since his pills knocked him out so often. Still, she paused at the top of the stairs, staring down Norman's closed door, convincing herself as she'd tried to convince Alex, that there was nothing to be afraid of on the other side. When her cell phone rang, she nearly shrieked. Digging into her dress pocket with shaking hands, she frowned when she saw the name on her screen.

Dylan Masset

She and Dylan hadn't spoken since their fight, so she let it ring three times before realizing that Dylan might be calling about Norman. "Yes?"

At first she heard nothing, but before Norma could ask if Dylan was there, she heard the most awful, gurgling sound on the other end of the line. "Dylan?" she said, the earlier terseness in her tone now replaced by a touch of hysterics.

"Help."

The word came out as more of a gasp and his voice echoed, so Norma covered her other ear with one hand. "Dylan, where are you?"

"Here."

Norma's head snapped up and over to look inside her bedroom. The last of the sun's rays shone through her sheer curtains, casting a dim light, but she could see the widening boundaries of a pool of blood by her bed. Gasping, Norma lunged forward, nearly tripping over the rug in her haste to set eyes on Dylan.

He lay just inside the doorway, flat on his back, one hand weakly pressed against a gaping, gushing wound at his side and the other clutching a phone to his ear.

"Oh, my God." Norma dropped next to him, her dress instantly soaked in blood, and willed her fingers to stop shaking long enough to dial 911. "It's okay, baby," she whispered, covering his hand with hers and increasing the pressure. He cried out just as the 911 operator answered. "I need an ambulance at the Bates Motel, up at the house. My son—someone hurt my son. There's so much blood—"

"Ma'am, I'm dispatching an ambulance now. Are you hurt?"

"No, no, please just get someone out here—" Dylan's other hand, now free of his cell phone, grasped at her arm. "It's okay, sweetheart. Help is coming. Where's Norman? Is Norman hurt?"

Dylan shook his head vehemently, his eyes wide with a fear Norma couldn't bear to analyze. "M-mom. Al—" A coughing fit interrupted him, and blood spewed from his mouth.

Balancing her phone between her blood-spattered cheek and her shoulder, Norma wiped Dylan's face with the sleeve of her free arm. "Don't try to talk." Her words came out on a whisper because if she talked any louder, Dylan would hear the panic in her voice.

The dispatcher's voice startled her. "Ma'am, is there anyone else injured?"

"No, I don't think—"

"Alex," Dylan sputtered.

The reality of the situation hit her with such force that she nearly swayed on her knees. The two people who wanted Norman back at Pineview the most were fighting for their lives, and Norman was unaccounted for.

Her heart only dropped into her stomach as she remembered her argument with Alex earlier that day.

You left me no choice.

You left me none.

She scanned the room, hoping to find Alex nearby so that she wouldn't have to leave Dylan, but as her luck ran, Alex lay dying somewhere out of sight.

"Oh, my God. I think—I think my husband is hurt too. I don't know where he is. I can't leave my son—he's bleeding so much—and I can't see Alex—"

"It's alright, ma'am. We're sending another ambulance, and the paramedics who arrive first will take whoever is the most critical."

Though she knew which one she'd save, Norma nearly wept with relief when she realized someone else would make that choice for her. Hyperventilating now, Norma's thoughts flurried in her head too fast for her to process. Where's Norman? Dylan may not survive. Alex could be dead already. What have you done?

Dylan covered Norma's hand with his and nodded to the bed. "Ov-over there."

So close, and yet… "I'm not leaving you."

Tears leaked from Dylan's eyes now, and Norma wiped those away too. "He's h-hurt so b-bad."

A sob tore through Norma's throat, and she grabbed a pillow that had fallen off her bed in whatever struggle had taken place. Ripping the pillowcase off, she balled it up and pressed it to Dylan's wound. "Hold that tight. Right there." She suddenly remembered that the dispatcher was still on the phone. "I need you to talk to him until the ambulance gets here or until I get back, whichever comes first." Without waiting for a response, Norma pressed the speaker phone button and set the phone next to Dylan. "I'll be right back, okay?"

Her brave baby, gasping for each breath now, nodded and even tried to smile.

Norma struggled to her feet and grabbed another pillow, but when she rounded the bed, she couldn't stifle the scream that burst from her gut.

Alex's green shirt was soaked through with blood, and the lacerations on his face bled off the sides of his head like tear tracks. The wounds were not concentrated as Norma expected, but spread out—one at his right shoulder, one at each side, and another on his thigh.

His raspy breaths grew shallower by the second.

Kneeling down, Norma unbuckled her belt with shaking fingers. "It's okay, it's okay." She tucked the belt under his thigh and wrapped it tight around his leg, forcing the belt buckle through a hole that didn't exist before. She winched when Alex cried out. "I know, I'm sorry. There's so much blood." The wound to his right side seemed the next most critical, so she pressed the pillowcase there. "Dylan, honey, are you still with me?"

The dispatcher answered for him. "We're focusing on his breathing, but he's doing great, aren't you Dylan?"

Dylan's weak moan did not instill confidence in Norma, but before she could decide whether to leave Alex's side, he grasped her arm with a blood-soaked hand. He couldn't speak, but his pleading eyes tore a hole in her heart. She would have done anything to hear what he was trying to tell her.

Norma kissed his forehead, the only part of his face not bloodied or bruised. "It's okay, honey. Help is coming." Even now, the ambulance sirens wailed below, but looking at the pallor of Alex's skin and the widening pools of blood beneath him, she worried help would come too late.


Even though the town had so much violent crime, White Pine Bay only had one hospital. It hadn't bothered her before, but now, with Alex and Dylan being treated here and Norman likely to follow, the hospital suddenly felt insufficient. Every ten minutes, she checked in with the poor nurse at reception, who always seemed to be doing seven people's jobs at once. In between her barking inquiries, Norma paced the length of the waiting room. As sick as Norma was about Dylan and Alex, Norman's absence—or rather, the petrified look in Dylan's eyes when she asked about Norman—ate at her. If Norman were in danger, Dylan would have used what strength he had to tell her that, not that Alex lay dying at the other side of the room. Dylan's fear, therefore, could only mean one thing, but on the long list of realities Norma couldn't face at the moment, the truth reflected in Dylan's eyes took the top spot.

One of Alex's deputies, Brigham, according to his uniform, arrived about thirty minutes after she did. Covered in blood, cool and distant with shock, Norma knew that she appeared the perfect suspect. But the deputy only asked a few questions about her account of the situation and her whereabouts, before he steered them toward Norman, the only member of their immediate family unaccounted for.

"When was the last time you spoke with your younger son?"

"If you have suspicions already, just spit it out," Norma snapped. She towered above the deputy, who had been watching her wear a groove in the five feet of linoleum in front of his chair since he arrived.

Brigham sighed and flipped his notebook shut. "I got a call from Sheriff Romero as he approached the house," he said. "If was off the books, on my personal cell phone. He said he was going to check on you and your son Dylan and that he may need backup." He paused, crossing his arms over his chest and peering up at her with calculating eyes that made Norma wonder if she'd misjudged his line of questioning. "Said that if Norman was having one of his fits, he could be violent."

Suddenly, Norma found it impossible to stand. She sank into the empty chair next to Brigham and drew several shuddering breaths. Mere hours ago, the fact that Alex approached her house intending to call police backup would have infuriated her, but now it terrified her. Between the three men in her life, there were many motives for violence and deception, and even though the truth was staring her in the face, she couldn't stomach it. Either Norman was dangerous and she would lose him forever, or Alex and Dylan had been attacked by someone else and the police—based on little more than Alex's opinion—were willing to blame Norman for it, even if he'd been hurt as well. In either scenario, she could still lose all three of them.

She must have been hyperventilating because the next thing she knew, a nurse had replaced Brigham in the chair next to Norma, strapping a blood-pressure cuff around her arm.

"Mrs. Bates? I'm going to need you to take a couple of slow, deep breaths."

The girl no doubt meant well, but Norma lashed out. "Do you have news about my son or my husband? Until then, don't tell me how to fucking breathe."

With the patience of a saint, the nurse explained, "Your son is out of surgery, and you'll be able to see him just as soon as you get your breathing under control."

In a shocking turn of events, maybe life would let Norma keep at least one of her children.


Though Dylan's surgeon assured Norma that the heavy sedation kept him from feeling any discomfort, Norma fluffed his pillows, tucked his blanket more snugly around his legs, and pestered the nurse with questions every time she came to check his vitals. Do his bandages need to be changed? Is it normal for the anesthetic to keep him under for so long? Can he hear me?

Brigham lurked outside the room, and since he insisted on staying close, Norma demanded that he make himself useful. According to Dylan's nurse, Norma's access to Alex would be restricted because she was not listed as his next of kin. With no idea when Dylan would wake up, Norma gladly let someone else be the muscle for a change. Brigham promised to get any information as soon as it came, because apparently Alex's deputies had more rights than his own wife.

After asking every possible question of Dylan's nurse and making every alteration to make Dylan more comfortable, Norma collapsed into the chair next to her son's bed and held his hand.

Even with all this time to sit and think, she had no idea what to do.

The dread in the pit of her stomach would not abate until Dylan woke up and gave his statement. Even then, it would only be replaced by a fresh, more specific dread. Either someone took Norman, or Norman nearly killed his own brother. No, whispered the voice in her head that she could never silence, the voice that always took up for Norman and excused his behavior because of her own mistakes. There has to be another explanation. He's a good boy, a sweet boy. As much as he and Dylan fight, Norman loves his brother.

Then again, the other Norman only had one priority.

And both Norman and his alternate personality loathed Alex.

"Norma?"

Her relief at hearing Dylan's voice overwhelmed any disappointment that arose from his quick reversion to calling her Norma. She inched to the edge of her seat and brushed his hair from his forehead. "Hi, there." Where's Norman? What happened? "Welcome back."

Dylan slowly dragged his eyes from Norma's face to his surroundings.

"You're in the hospital," Norma explained. Her hand slid from his to press the call button, but she laced the fingers of her other hand through his before he could miss her touch. "You were in surgery for two hours, so you're a little doped up." She tried to smile despite the tear tracks streaking her cheeks. "I'm so happy to see your eyes again."

Suddenly his eyes widened, and for one horrible second, Norma worried that he would try to sit up. "Norman," he murmured. "Have you found Norman?"

Before Norma could respond with her own questions—Where is he? Is he hurt? Did he do this?—the nurses arrived with their questions and clipboards and medicines, and Norma noticed Brigham peering into the room through the blinds. He would have questions of his own, and she needed to get the answers before he did. So when the nurses asked her to leave the room, she refused, holding tight to Dylan's hand.

Dylan's surgeon followed on the heels of the nurses and confirmed what they told her—that Dylan would be in the hospital for at least another week while they monitored his recovery. Dylan only asked the occasional question and gave one-word answers, but the longer he stayed awake, the more convinced Norma became that his silence had less to do with the drugs than what he was remembering, what he'd have to tell Brigham.

Before Dylan's doctor left, Norma caught him in the doorway to ask about Alex. Dylan had asked about him three times while coming out of his anesthetic, but no one gave his questions any credence. For his sake, Norma pretended that not knowing wasn't killing her.

"I'll tell you what I told Deputy Brigham," Dr. Clemmons said, as if relaying this information was such an infringement on his time. "The last time I was in the OR, my colleague was still operating on him." He tried to walk away, but Norma caught his arm.

"When was that? The last time you were in the OR?"

"Mrs. Bates, as soon as your husband is out of surgery—"

"How long?"

Clemmons sighed and checked his watch. "Maybe an hour ago. I promise that as soon as he's out, someone will find you or the detective. You're not exactly hard to find."

Clemmons's words were meant to be comforting, but Norma shivered, pulling her cardigan tighter around her. Suddenly, Brigham's lingering presence outside Dylan's room, not the OR where Alex's life hung in the balance, made sense. Yes, he wanted Dylan's statement, but Alex's deputies must be operating under the assumption that Norman will come here.

"Norma?"

Norma whipped around, plastering a smile on her face. "No word on Alex yet. They're going to come and find me as soon as he's out of surgery."

Propped up on his pillows, covered in bandages and wires, Dylan looked about as vulnerable as he'd ever let her see. "I—I want to tell you what happened."

Oh, please no. I'm not ready for this.

"But I'm worried you won't believe me."

It was the first of many hard truths Dylan would utter tonight, but after a lifetime of letting him down, Norma bore his observation well. She sat on his bed and lifted his hand to her lips. "I'm sorry that I've raised you to believe that I won't believe you."

"You know already, don't you?"

Norma nodded, fresh tears springing to her eyes. "But I—I need to hear you say it."

Dylan didn't bother wiping his tears away. "Norman did this."

Hearing the words felt like a stab. Norma clapped a hand over her mouth to stifle the guttural sound that bubbled up from deep inside her, where she carried these boys, where they'd been safest.

"He kept saying that he wanted to take us away—you, me, and him," Dylan continued. "He said dying was the only way to keep us safe and keep us together. Romero wasn't part of the plan, but Norman said he'd take him too because it would make you easier to—" He broke off, wincing as if he couldn't believe what he was saying. "I don't know how he got this bad. He was doing so much better."

Because I exposed him to a world so cruel his mind couldn't handle it. "He's going back to Pineview," Norma whispered. "You and I can sign the papers and he can go back."

"I don't think it's going to be that simple this time, Norma."

Norma shook her head. One son so downtrodden by the world that he crumbled and another who faced reality before she would. "We just have to figure this out one step at a time, okay? Alex's deputies are searching for Norman, and Alex is going to be out of surgery soon, one way or another."

When her voice broke on the last word, Dylan squeezed her hand. "He's gonna pull through," he murmured. "I know it looked really bad, and there was a lot of blood, but…"

Now that she knew Dylan was hiding something from her, Norma found herself sharper. "What?"

Dylan winced. "Norman said that if Alex was coming with us, he was going to suffer first. He didn't want him to die quickly."

That detail was the last straw. Her lingering nausea became overwhelming, and she sank to the floor by Dylan's bed and vomited in the trash can there. Between heaves, she heard Brigham's heavy footfalls. He surprised her by kneeling down with a cup of water in hand. As soon as her stomach settled, she accepted the cup and forced herself to drink.

"Take it easy, Mrs. Bates. I can't take you to Romero till you promise not to spew on me."

"What? He's out?"

"He's out, in a room just upstairs. And the doctor is relatively optimistic, given the circumstances. I've cleared up the next of kin issue, and as soon as you're ready, I'll take you upstairs."

Norma allowed Brigham to help her up and turned to Dylan, who had played second fiddle too long for her to leave him awake and alone to wait for at Alex's bedside while he slept. "Honey, I won't go if you don't want me to."

"You called Emma?"

"She's listed as your next of kin, so the nurses called her before I could," Norma explained. "Her dad is driving her here, but it may be a little while still. Maybe an hour?"

"You were here when I woke up. That's when I needed you most." He spoke as if being there when he needed her was a special treat, a coupon he could only cash in once. "Besides, I'm supposed to be resting."

Norma pressed a lingering kiss to his forehead. "I'll be back soon. I just need to see him." As she followed Brigham out of the room, she noticed another deputy ready to take his place. Apparently, Alex's staff had the same thought as Dylan's surgeon. If Norman stabbed Alex and Dylan while under the control of his other personality, he may come to the hospital to check on his brother. He may not even remember what he did. But if Norman came here for any reason, he would be walking into a trap.

Even after everything, even if Dylan despised her forever, even if Alex left her over her misplaced sympathy, Norma would always want to save Norman, even when she couldn't.


Brigham only stayed as long as it took to find the surgeon before heading back to the elevator, apparently anxious to get Dylan's statement. Dr. Johansson tried to talk to Norma in the waiting room, but she demanded to be taken to Alex's room. Norma only heard a few of the surgeon's words on the way.

Just in timestopped the bleedingwake up anytime soon

When Dr. Johansson stopped in front of a closed door, Norma reached out with a trembling hand for the handle. The room struck her as unusually dark, only a single floor lamp by the window casting enough light for Norma to see the bed. Suddenly, after hours of waiting and worrying, she couldn't bring herself to rush to his side like she'd imagined she would. Somewhere, under the oxygen mask and intubation tube and gauze and wires, lay Alex, but she couldn't find him.

"Mrs. Romero?"

For once, Norma didn't want to correct the mistake. She dragged her gaze from the bed to the sober young woman holding her husband's chart. There were unicorns on her scrubs. "I'm sorry, doctor. Could you, um, repeat that?

With a patient nod, Dr. Johansson tried again. "Your husband isn't quite out of the woods. We stopped the bleeding and restored the blood flow to his leg, but the damage to his organs was severe. He's having trouble breathing on his own. If he makes it through the next twenty-four hours, I'll feel more comfortable guaranteeing a recovery."

Now at Alex's bedside, Norma reached down and turned his hand over so that she could caress his palm, feel the warmth of his skin that was missing when she found him on her bedroom floor. "Will he wake up before then?"

"It's hard to say, but if he does, he may have to remain intubated. I don't think you'll be able to speak with him."

"I don't need him to talk," Norma said. "I just need him to hear me." She forced a weak smile. "Thank you for getting him this far."

With a nod and a sympathetic smile, the doctor left Norma alone with Alex and the machines keeping him alive. Norma collapsed into the chair next to his bed and skimmed her fingers over the tops of Alex's knuckles. She lingered on his empty ring finger and wished now more than ever that she'd bought him a ring. Leaning down to kiss his hand, she began to sob. "I'm so sorry." She'd meant to whisper, but her words spilled out in a wail.


Norma's dreams resembled memories more than events, sweet reminiscence of how, as a baby, Norman would turn his tiny face into her arm and suckle in his sleep; how at age six, he'd brought her a breakfast of burnt toast smothered in butter and honey after a particularly terrible night with Sam; how he'd sing with her every night before he fell asleep.

Her sweet boy.

But then Emma's voice broke through the bliss of her dreams, and she woke in a panic, shifting in her chair to face the door. "Oh, God. Dylan—"

"He's okay, he's okay." Emma knelt in front of Norma and held both her hands in her gloved ones.

"No, I promised I'd be right back—"

"He's sleeping, and the nurse's said he's been asleep for a while. My dad is down there with him in case he wakes up while we're gone. It's okay, I promise."

Emma had always been the steady one, but it felt wrong to lean on her now. "Oh, Emma," Norma whimpered, burying her face in her hands. "I'm sorry I wasn't the one to call you. There was just so much happening, and there were so many forms to fill out, and part of me wondered if I shouldn't even bother you at all with your recovery being so important—"

"Dylan and I are getting married."

Instantly, Norma's hands dropped into her lap. "What?"

Emma barely suppressed her watery smile. "He doesn't know it yet, but we are. I love him, and I know he loves me, and I don't think we should wait any longer." Without waiting for Norma to respond, Emma moved on. "Right now, though, we're talking about you and how you're feeling."

"Oh, honey, I'm fine." Even to Norma, the words sounded hollow, so when Emma merely gaped at her, Norma sighed and leaned back in her chair. For the first time since she woke, her gaze drifted to the hospital bed, to the too-steady rise and fall of Alex's chest, aided by the ventilator. "It's awful. Everything." She peered down at Emma. "What did Dylan tell you?"

The tears in Emma's eyes finally spilled over. "Everything." She hesitated for only a second before whimpering, "How did it get this bad, Norma?"

Because I didn't listen, because I didn't want to see, because I loved Norman too much, because by the time I had help it was too late. "I don't know, but if I'd left him at Pineview, none of this would have happened and everyone would be safe." When Emma's silence stretched on longer than Norma anticipated, she frowned. "What is it? Have they found Norman?" Emma's hitching breath nearly drove Norma back into hysterics. "Emma, is he dead?"

"No, no, no," Emma gasped. "No, Norma. I just—he's safe, he's…unharmed. He's at the police station. Detective Brigham found him at reception and took him in."

Without knowing if Norma wanted the answers to her questions, they gushed out. "How is he? Does he know what he did? Has anyone called Dr. Edwards? Is he talking? He can't incriminate himself—"

"Norma, he's covered in Dylan's and the Sheriff's blood," Emma gasped. "He is beyond incriminating himself. Please tell me you're not going to defend him for this."

"Only if he didn't know what he was doing," Norma whispered, suddenly acutely aware of Alex's presence in the face of Emma's accusation.

Emma let go of Norma's hands and rose slowly, mouth agape. "After what Dylan told you, you think there's still a chance Norman didn't know what he was doing? Yes, he's sick, but Norma…" She gestured to Alex. "He wanted Alex to suffer. He wanted to kill all of you. The Norman we love is buried by this…coping mechanism for his trauma—"

"Which is all my fault!"

"Even if that's true, he is aware of his impulses now, and from what Dylan tells me, he has stopped fighting them. You have to see that."

"I do see it," Norma snapped. In all the time she'd known Emma, she'd never been angry enough to raise her voice, but today seemed to be a day full of firsts. "I know I screwed up with him. With both of them. They've both suffered because of my fucked up life," she gasped. "I just want to stop it from happening again."

Emma, suddenly contrite, stepped forward hesitantly, her eyes brimming with tears. "I know that. I know. I'm sorry. But Norma…it's too late to save Norman from what he's done." Even as the words left her lips, Emma lifted a hand to cover her mouth, her sob breaking through the measly barrier. "I'm so sorry, but it's too late."

Norma curled her legs up in her chair, hugging them too tightly to her chest, accepting that she had no one and nothing to take her aggression out on but herself. As heaving sobs wracked her body, she felt Emma's arms wrap loosely around her shoulders from behind, a contrast to the vice grip Norma trapped herself in. Emma didn't speak, only rested her cheek against the top of Norma head and rocked her gently, offering a tenderness Norma knew she didn't deserve.