We're Going to be Okay
rating: +10+x

“Dawn… you’ll never be alone in this world.”

Kit’s words fluttered around her head like moths, above a dull headache and a noise of rushing water.

Time flashed by - a vague memory of meeting in a graveyard, being together in a park after dusk, pills to mitigate the pain a little bit, weeks then months blurring together until they were in an abandoned house where Kit had stashed a sleeping bag. They had lain together, sharing one old pillow and staring at the mould on the ceiling, trying to make art out of muck.

Dawn remembered turning her head and crying on Kit’s shoulder, and he stroked her hair. He smelt of tobacco, blood, and salt. She could smell her own perfume scenting him, marking him. She calmed, asked him if he really lived here, and he went very quiet and said sometimes.

They were all of fifteen years old and didn’t know much better. She didn’t know how to fix it, but she stole a teddy bear from her sister’s bedroom and surprised Kit with it on one rainy day after school. When they huddled together for warmth, the teddy was between them, staring on with scratched eyes.

Dawn pushed away memories and forced her eyes open, trying to make out the world around her. Her eyelashes clumped together from the mascara that had been smeared when a blindfold had been forced over her eyes, so everything blurred. It felt like the morning after something, after something horrible, and something she couldn’t quite remember. The room was small and all cement, and she could see her breath in the chill.

What did she know of this place? Experimentally, she flexed her hands and found them chained at the wrist. Kit would be able to get out of this, or at least he boasted he could. Between being double-jointed and the bobby pins he secreted in his long hair, he said that he had gotten his hands free of cuffs twice when police had arrested him for –

Her thoughts were drifting, and it was hard to come back to reality. Normally, she was grounded – realistic. She was Kit’s anchor whilst he was a kite, making sure he never flew too far away. But now, it took effort to focus on the here and now. It didn’t help that the room offered no focus points, nothing to keep her attention.

Tipping the wooden chair slightly, she realised her ankles were tied to the legs of the chair, slightly spreading her legs. She was still wearing her school uniform – skirt rolled up at the hem as was the fashion, and no tights because she had been finally allowed to shave her legs, and who cared that it was winter when she reached such a milestone. She couldn’t help but to feel painfully vulnerable and embarrassed. She felt exposed to anyone who came in, to whoever had taken her, who had done God knows what after she had felt a prick in her neck and a sudden dizzy rush.

Someone would figure out something had happened to her. Kit would figure out something had happened to her. But Kit, despite his bravado, was as scared as her – wouldn’t know who to call, wouldn’t want to call anyone, much less her father, who was as much of a monster hiding in her home as Kit’s was in his house. She felt less like a damsel in distress waiting for rescue, and more a hate crime waiting to happen.

Suddenly, the door across the room opened, pushing in a wash of cold air. A tall, if slightly dorky-looking, man came in, holding a folder. He was dressed in a long white coat, with an insignia she neither knew or cared to know on the breast pocket. He paused, rustled some papers, and then shut the door behind him, coming to sit opposite her.

“Uh, uh… oh, yes, um, David. David Waniewski?”

Dawn’s heart froze, then clenched, beating without blood. She couldn’t speak – the pain was swallowed, swallowed hard. 'David' rang around her head, and hurt her just as much as any punch.

“…T-That’s my dead name.”

Her voice came out weak, hoarse. She thought of sharing cigarettes with Kit in that abandoned house, where the mould grew freely, rats made their home, and the air was dusty. Her throat always hurt afterwards but she did it anyway, wanting to impress the boy who seemed so much older than his age.

The man across from her frowned and rummaged around in the papers.

“No, uh, um… That’s what we have. David. I just want to ask you some questions, then, um…” More shuffling. This man couldn’t, and wouldn’t, feel sorry for using her dead name, a name she had abandoned over a year ago. He couldn't understand. All he did was just push the glasses up on his nose and free the paper he wanted.

“So, David, um… You’ve been staying… visiting a house, sometimes, on Sparrow Avenue. I think number… uh, oh, yes, number 47. Can you tell me why you were there, David?”

Why did he keep using it? Why did he keep saying it?

Dawn tried to ignore how it hurt every time, but the man in front of her transformed, just for a moment, into her father – towering over her, hand shaking as he held a skirt and asked what the fuck she thought she was doing with this in her room, his knuckles white and his face red. She shook her head, and the figure went back to the geeky, slightly nervous looking young man.

“…Not David.”

It was all she could say. She didn’t want to talk to this person. Much less if he was going to disrespect her like this. Somehow, it hurt more coming from someone who had never known David – someone who only knew Dawn, who only knew the woman in front of him, not the boy she was long ago. A boy that not even Kit had known, and Kit knew her inside and out by now – knew what hid under her bed, what monsters burrowed into her mind, what made her laugh and what made her scream.

“Uh. Uh. Okay. Um. Can you just tell me why you were there? Were you, uh…” Flickering through notes – it seemed more like a nervous habit than an actual search for information. “…Compelled to go there, for some reason?”

“No.” She muttered. Her mind was drowsy again and fighting back with words felt just as impossible as fighting back physically – mentally tied down as much as her hands and ankles were bound. “…Just exploring. Listen, if I’ve been arrested, I think I should be allowed to make a call…”

The man shook his head. “Mm-hm. No, uh, you’re not under arrest, I just have to ask you… I’m sorry, this is my first time.” He looked up, squinting at her.

“They keep telling me it’s okay because you won’t remember but, uh, um… still hard,” he mumbled to himself, though the room was so quiet and had such an echo that she could hear him regardless.

“So, you weren’t compelled, that’s okay, uh… did you notice anything weird at… 47 Sparrow Avenue?”

“No,” it came with a heavy sigh and she tried to flex her hands again, because they were falling asleep. The man watched her every move as if he believed she could suddenly grow inhuman strength and break the metal cuffs. He seemed, if possible, even more nervous every time she so much as twitched.

“It’s just an abandoned house. Look, I’m sorry for trespassing, I really am, but…” She had been about to say something she could never take back.

‘…But my friend was there. Lives there. Needs to be there. Hides from the monsters there.’

She managed to contain it in her head, but it was more of a struggle than normal, like her mind wanted to spill all her secrets, to this stranger in front of her. Instead, she bit her lip and looked at him, waiting, waiting for this reality to end.

“Um. Uh. Okay.” The man mumbled, nodding a bit. “There’s mould there, right? And… uh, spores? I-I mean, you may have been able to uh, see something in the air.”

“Yes, I mean… of course there was, it’s an old house.”

She shook her head a little, honestly amazed and slightly amused at the apparent situation she found herself in. Being interviewed about trespassing in the house that no-one wanted? It felt absurd and she wanted to laugh but kept that to herself when she thought of Kit, who had almost certainly been at the house that day. Was he somewhere, too, like this? He would be worse than her – struggling, maybe even escaping, making wild, ungrounded claims. What would happen to him?

“U-uh, okay, um…” This man’s vocal tics were starting to get on her nerves and she wanted to say that out loud too but fought against it. Her headache grew more every time she didn’t allow herself to say some truth, but she would sit on her thoughts.

“After you started, uh, going there… did you notice anything weird about… uh, you? I mean, uh, did you start seeing anything?”

She frowned at him, but memories instantly flooded her.

Seeing first her bullies in the mould, then sometimes hands that reached out to grab up her skirt or steal Kit away. Then the times she would walk down the street and every man she saw would turn into her father, clutching some piece of evidence of her transition – skirts, bras, lace knickers. They all marched the same way as silver-back apes, shoulders hunched, fists firmly closed, faces red. They never said anything, but they were always there, and it was always just men, and it was only after she had been visiting the house for a couple of months.

“… Yes.” She admitted, softly. Maybe this was some sort of mental institution. It would explain the restraints to some extent, and even why they were using her dead name. All official paperwork carried her dead name, after all, until she could produce that damn certificate. It didn't mean she didn't have to respect its use.

“O-Oh, okay, okay.” The man marked something down – a dark black spot on a chart that seemed to have a list of names on one side, and a list of something else on the other. She had failed whatever this was, that was what this felt like, like failing an exam she didn't know she was taking.

“Um, okay, so… uh… “, He flipped pages again and, this time, seemed to come across something akin to a script because he stared down at it as he spoke, and he didn’t stutter and stumble over the words.

“David, I have to let you know that the mould made you contract a disease. It is okay. It is not catching. It is not fatal. It can be cured by…” He flipped the page over. “…An injection, and then you are free to go home. We are going to bulldoze the house to avoid any further problems. We appreciate your co-operation in this progress. Thank you.”

Dawn struggled against her bonds more at the words, scowling at him. There was still fogginess in her brain but the anger, the burning anger, at her dead name, at her legs being apart like this, fought against that blurred side.

“Stop calling me that! I’m not David! And what the hell are you talking about, you freak, this isn’t a hospital, you can’t just inject me! I-I’m still a minor, too, so if you do this, I’m going to go and… tell all the people I can that you had me like this, and anything could have happened to me!”

The man stood up and pushed his glasses up his nose as he slowly reached into his pocket for a small box. He made a humming noise, as if acknowledging her whilst showing he didn’t care, all in one little noise. As he approached her, he changed again – now it was her dad bearing down on her, his grin harsh and tainted by the glint in his eyes.

“As if anyone would want to do anything to you, David. You’re a freak.” Her pseudo-father breathed softly as he got close, breath stinking of stale coffee.

“I bet I could hogtie you to a fence and no-one would come near. No-one wants you, not even when you’re spread out and out of it. I told you no-one would want you if you went down this path. I warned you this would happen.”

Dawn opened her mouth to scream, feeling huge, hot tears rolling down her cheeks, as there was another jab into her neck. The image of her father faded in and out until it was that dorky man again, who looked nervous and concerned, before her eyelids fluttered shut, her mind supplying more of Kit’s words before she hit unconsciousness.

“No matter what they say – we’re going to be okay.”

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