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Story Notes:
Written for my dear friend coffee_mill, who requested Gretchen and Whistler and Florence + the Machine's "Hardest of Hearts." Here is the fanmix she made for this ficlet.
can't hold it in

There are people constitutionally incapable of love.

She decides after seventeen years of intimate abuse that this will be her lifestyle. Apathy comes easy and natural and by the time she commits her first murder she is not so much detached as emotionally crippled. But she'd rather pretend. She'd rather pretend that there's no broken teenager hiding behind her cold eyes, that she can be unrepentant and untouched and uncaring.

There are people constitutionally incapable of love.

Gretchen will never be one of them. That won't stop her from trying.

darkest of marks

He never means for it to happen. Because he likes to think he's in love with another woman, a good woman. A woman who hasn't torn his heart from his chest and left it beating underneath a shiny slutty stiletto.

But he shows up at his secret apartment in Panama and it's only five minutes before he has her pinned to the door and he's painfully hard, aching and craving her to the point where he's crossed into delirium.

Her hands unbuckle his belt, the zipper echoes through the empty apartment. Her fist wraps around his cock and he moans angrily, pants in her ear, becomes even more erect in her palm

Eventually he tears her wrist away, hikes her skirt up her thighs and her legs hook around his waist. She's so wet, her pupils dilated in uncontrollable lust, her incredible eyes slicing through him like glass piercing his skin.

He fucks her like they're animals. He fucks her and growls bitch in her ear and slams into her body over and over again, wanting to break her like she's broken him and wondering if he already has.

His thumb draws her swollen clit in tight, hard circles and she comes with a raw near-scream, the most erotic thing he's heard since the last time they fucked in this apartment, and it bleeds his own orgasm out of him, white-hot and all-powerful. He tears the skin on her hips with his nails and she draws red lines on his shoulders and she's still coming, and then gasping as the aftershock roll through her.

"How's your girlfriend?" she asks while he's still inside her.

His blood freezes. He recovers. "You ended us."

"I don't care who else you're dipping your cock into." She shoves him away, adjusts her skirt.

"Of course you don't," he says, matching her chill.

He staggers from the apartment, broken as always into a million pieces, wondering what they will look like when they slide together again.

the bitterest taste

She's fifty-three when she gets out of prison.

Emily comes with her to the grave. It's the closest she will ever be to her father.

"He never wanted to leave you," Gretchen tells her daughter. "It was my fault."

She touches Gretchen's arm and says nothing. That's baggage to be dealt with on another day.

Gretchen kneels before the grave and places her hands on the stone and his eyes blink into focus in a distant memory.

She stays frozen for a long, long time.

Twenty-five, thirty, thirty-three years too late, "I love you," she whispers, and the words carve into her and ache more than anything in her entire lifetime of pain and they taste like cyanide and burn like hellfire.

Belatedly, her heart shatters. She wonders if somewhere, he's watching her, laughing at her,

(he isn't, of course, but if he were he'd be shedding tears instead,)

and finally, finally, she cries.