The Lily and the MarigoldAuthor:
A dark PG-13 Fandom:
Goldie and Wendy (Not paired. Geez people – Eww.)Disclaimer:
Not mine - I just borrowed them for a bit.Warning:
If you saw the movie or read the comics, you can probably deal with anything in here. Dark themes, metions of abuse and non-con.Summary:
Wendy had never been the leader, more like the ‘e’ in ‘we’, never seeing the road ahead but instead the back in front of her, never questioning where they were headed, happily following her sister’s ‘w’. Author’s Note:
IndigoChild asked for some Sin City – either movies or comic and pretty much left the rest up to me. Hope you like this. These aren’t characters I have seen explored much and I am really, really sorry it turned out so damned depressing.Don’t cry, Wendy. Don’t cry. We’ll be okay.
She clutched her sister’s hand more tightly. Her palm was clammy with fear, her only lifeline slowly trying to slip from her grasp.
The Winter Market was huge. Seemingly every resident of Basin City was out for the festival, out to enjoy one of the few celebrations the city had. They had been begging to come for the last two years and finally their mother had given in. It was amazing. So many people, so many things to see.
Her sister had pulled her over to a booth with the sweetest little kittens.
A little grey striped fur ball meowed sadly at Wendy and she couldn’t help but pick it up. Marigold cradled the sister, a fuzzy ball of solid pale grey. The kitten was warm against her neck as she cuddled it, its purrs tickling at her skin.
A thread of hope welled up as Wendy asked, “Momma…could we, maybe?” She turned but there were only strangers.
No sign of her mother’s blue coat, the pink flowered scarf over her hair. Nothing.
“Momma? Where are you? Momma!”
She stood there, sobbing, snot dripping from her nose, letting her sister pry the kitten from her grasp. Marigold held out her own sleeve and Wendy had wiped her nose gratefully.
Then, hand in hand, the two girls had gone searching. Two tiny figures in coats of deep scarlet, their pale golden curls bouncing as they walked.
The tears were welling up again. They were never going to find her and any minute now her sister’s hand was going to slip from hers. She imagined the bright red of her sister’s coat being swallowed up by the sea of drab work clothes and dark coats and started crying again.
Marigold wrapped her arms around her sister and let her cry, saying over and over into her twin’s bright curls, “Don’t cry, Wendy. Don’t cry. We’ll be okay”.
After a few minutes, the tears slowed and Marigold let her go, taking her hand firmly as they set out again.
It took almost 2 hours, but they found her, perched on a stool near the back of a booth selling hot toddys a few booths down from the kittens.
Wendy surged forward with a cry of relief and threw her arms around her mother’s waist.
Her mother turned reddened, bleary eyes towards her and asked, “Are you girls back already?” before tipping her cup up to get the last drops. “Well, I guess we should head home.”
They were six. Don’t cry, Wendy. Don’t cry. We’ll be okay.
The day had been brutally hot, sun beating down ‘till there were little shimmering heat waves rising from the sidewalks. Night came but the heat didn’t ease.
It was going to be a bad night.
Their mother and stepfather had started drinking around Noon, emptying bottle after bottle of icy cold beer in an attempt to ignore the stagnent air roasting them alive.
By seven, their mother had passed out but Dunk just kept on drinking.
They kept mostly to their room, out of sight was out of mind, but as the stars came out so did their hunger.
Marigold quietly opened the door and headed for the kitchen, while Wendy stayed behind, nervously listening for any sign Dunk was still awake.
Minutes ticked by and Wendy started to hope they were home free, when she heard Dunk’s deep-voiced growl.
A clatter of dishes, her sister’s cry “Wendy, run!” and she was at the window, frantically trying to get it to move along the rusted track.
Her sister ran into the room, locking the door behind her, just as the window moved, the rusted metal screeching in protest.
Ignoring the pounding of Dunk’s fists on the door, Wendy carefully stradled the sill and stretched one foot over to the rusted fire escape. She eased her weight over, keeping a firm grip on the window frame until she was sure she had found her balance.
She watched Marigold climb out onto the sill. Her sister’s head whipped around as the door gave way with a crash.
Even as rough hands, stained with oil and work, closed around Marigold’s arm, her eyes stayed on her sister. Her lips moved soundlessly and Wendy only hesitated a moment before obeying.
“Go, Wendy. GO! I’ll come get you…now, GO!”
She climbed down the rusting metal ladder as quickly as she could, trying not to hear the angry voices above her.
The minute her feet hit concrete, she ran, as hard and as fast as she could until she reached the park and the leafy shadows of their special tree.
A few hours later, Marigold found her there, curled in a ball between two roots, huddled against the trunk.
“It’s okay. You can come back now.”
The right side of Marigold’s face was swelling up and her t-shirt was ripped. Wendy reached out, but stopped short of touching the bruises across her sister’s face.
It was Wendy who cried that night and Marigold who comforted her.
“Don’t cry, Wendy. Don’t cry. I’m fine. We’ll be okay.”
Wendy wiped away her tears and nodded, not believing it any more than her sister did, but she wanted to believe. Just for that moment – she wanted it to be true.
They were fourteen.Don’t cry, Wendy. Don’t cry. We’ll be okay.
She was holding her sister’s hand again, but this time her palm was cool and dry. She tighted the other hand around the handle of her suitcase and tried not to stare at the women watching them pass.
They scared her, the girls of Old Town, with their hard eyes, their mouths hard painted red slits, their teeth frighteningly white between the slashes of crimson. They looked like jungle cats, still but always ready to pounce, as they watched the two girls go by. Still, it wasn’t any worse than feeling Dunk’s hungry leer drinking them down as it did at home.
Marigold lead the way, head high, eyes straight ahead. She turned a the corner and spotted the building, dark and squatting between two bars, pushing against its neighbors as if it could clear more space for itself.
Her sister let go of her hand and climbed the stone steps to the door.
Her knock was strong and steady.
A short, pudgy woman in a black silk robe opened the door.
“We’re looking for work. You Starr?”
“I am.” The women frowned, the scowl lines around her mouth deepening, as she looked them up and down. “I don’t babysit. Go home.”
Marigold stood straighter and thrust out her chin. “We’re eighteen and we want work,” she dared the woman to call her a liar.
Her trembling bravery had no effect and the woman laughed, her deep chuckle ending in the deep, rumbling cough of a long-time smoker. “If you’re eighteen, I’m the fucking Queen of Sheba. Go home kiddies – I got clients waiting.”
Marigold set down her suitcase and pulled at the neck of her blouse, revealing a jagged scratch where she’d been on the wrong end of Dunk’s anger. Her eyes said what she couldn’t – a little sad, a lot wounded, and a little scared. But they were also dry and determined, saying here it was, here was the truth. “We can’t.”
Something softened in those steely eyes and Starr sighed. “I’ve had a bit of that myself. Did the same as you’re doing now.” She didn’t look happy about this whole thing, but she reached down and picked up Marigold’s suitcase. “What are your names?” she asked, motioning them inside.
“This is my sister, Wendy. I’m Marigold, but every one calls me Goldie.”
Wendy looked confused. No one called her Goldie.
“Goldie? Good name with that hair. You’ll do good – men’ll pay a pretty price to run their hands through that spun gold.”
Starr had settled them into a cramped room with only one bed. She had been very kind, giving them a few days to get settled, carefully explaining the business. She had even let them work their first few jobs together. It wasn’t too bad – nothing they hadn’t both done before but at least they got something out of it now. It was easier with Goldie there too.
It wasn’t so bad, not really, but sometimes as the men headed home and the sun came up, Wendy found herself watching the sky brighten through the blur of tears.
It was easy for Goldie. She shed the past when she’d shed her name and even after the worst nights, the meanest clients, she spoke only of the future.
Wendy would stand there, crying softly, wishing she could let go as easily, until her sister’s arms closed around her, holding her tight. Looking out over the dirty, sprawling city, she’d hear that not-quite-her-own voice murmuring.
“Don’t cry, Wendy. Don’t cry. We’re okay – aren’t we? We’re fine.”
And her sister would lead her over to their shared bed, wiping at the dried tear tracks with a cool cloth, holding her, and stroking her hair until she fell asleep.
They were sixteen.Don’t cry, Wendy. Don’t cry. We’ll be okay.
Wendy shut her bedroom door quietly but firmly, slowing turning the deadbolt into place.
She lit a candle and slipped out of her clothes, putting them back onto hangers and settling them into her closet. She pulled on her robe and climbed into bed, pulling one of the pillows to her chest. She listened, but didn’t hear anything from the hall beyond her door.
Only when she was sure she was alone did she bury her face in the pillow and scream.
She screamed until her throat felt raw and tight, until her gasps weren’t drawing in enough air to continue, until the tears started to come.
She’d done her duty and told the girls – their girls – that Goldie was dead.
She scrubbed at her clenched eyelids but couldn’t erase the image of Goldie, pale and still, stretched out on the cold metal of the corner’s table.
Five years with their girls. Five years they’d run this place together, gaining a reputation for the best sorts of fun, provided the rules were followed.
And when they weren’t, she and Goldie had stood shoulder to shoulder and watched their girls see that justice was done. Offenders were dragged into the street, in full view of the whole district. Girls from other houses gathered, eyes bright with a longing to be one of the Sisters’ girls. Men gathered for the show, devouring the sight of these fragile flowers ripping and tearing at one of their own like harpies.
When the girls were satisfied and the offender was lying bloodied and broken on the concrete, they’d step forward as one, the crowd growing silent.
“You take without paying, you bleed. You try to pay less than you owe, you bleed. You take anything that wasn’t agreed upon, you bleed.” Their voices were cold and passionless as they recited the code that ruled under their roof.
“You hurt one of our girls, you crawl home.”
The girls eyes were unreadable as they reached for holsters, pockets, garters – each laying a hand on the weapons they all carried as the Sisters reached the final and most sacred rule.
“You kill one of ours, you don’t make it home.”
But Goldie, like so many of the more experienced girls, had been out from under the protection of their roof. Sometimes she liked to pick her own clients, drawn to this one or that one for reasons Wendy never understood.
So it had been tonight.
Wendy let the tears roll down her face, not bothering to wipe them away, and wrapped her arms around herself.
“Don’t cry, Wendy. Don’t cry.”
But it wasn’t the same. Her voice was hoarse and sounded foreign to her ears, an imposter saying those words.
She had never been the one – not the strong one, the brave one, the clever one. Frail where her sister was strong, weeping where her sister felt only determination. She was a lily, pale and delicate, to her sister’s hardy Marigold.
Now, she had to be both.
She had to see that justice was done, that no man thought the Sister’s girls could be harmed with impunity.
So alone. It was like her heart had been torn in half. An empty gnawing eating her from the inside out.
She had to become what her sister had been, be both of them for the girls, but she didn’t know how.
She tried to stand, but her legs betrayed her, folding, letting her crash to the floor. Pulling herself up onto her knees, she crawled to the dresser, her sister’s drawer.
Her fingers brushed cool silks, slick leather and the scratch of velvet before feeling metal. The steel was unyielding, solid in her hand.
She pulled out the small pistol and, hugging it to her chest, crawled back to the bed, curling up against the now dampened pillow.
The metal bit into her soft flesh of her breasts and pressed painfully against her breastbone, but she only held it closer, willing its strength to leech into her own flimsy heart.
Whoever he was, one night soon he wasn’t going to make it home. She would see to that.
He’d pay for ripping part of her away, for stealing away her “we”.
Alone – tonight, tomorrow, always. Now an “I”.
Just an “I”.
She was twenty-three.END.