isn't it enough we stripped down to our skin?
Posted originally on the Archive of Our Own at

Teen And Up Audiences
Archive Warnings:
Graphic Depictions Of Violence, Major Character Death
Hatchetfield Universe - Team StarKid
Alice Woodward/Ethan Green/Lex Foster
Alice Woodward, Lex Foster, Ethan Green, Hannah Foster (Hatchetfield)
Additional Tags:
Hurt No Comfort, Angst, Blood and Injury, Character Death, Musical: Black Friday, mariah!ethan, Lesbians Die, Polyamory, Established Relationship, half betaed we die like miss holloway being forgotten but alive, wet cat ethan, she/her ethan green, Not Canon Compliant
Published: 2024-02-08 Words: 3,042 Chapters: 1/1

isn't it enough we stripped down to our skin?


“Hey, hey, stay awake, okay?” Lex pats Alice’s cheek a few times, as gently as her shaking hands manage, and Alice’s eyes reopen fully.

They’re glazed over. Not even fully green–blue anymore, but red at the corners, like the blood vessels in them have popped, and her irises are widened to the point they’re swallowing almost all the color.

If Lex believes hard enough, it’s the way they always are when she’s barely awake, after their sleepovers, when Ethan peppers her face with kisses and Alice instinctually tries to get away, smiling and burying her face in the nearest pillow.



if it was alice, too.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY OSCAR !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! thousand more years to whichluvrism and gingers !!!!!!!! shoutout to you for allowing me to torture you with this idea for the past week mwah mwah love you stupid brit

yes this is completely self indulgent. no i dont care im the singular fan of this ship im going to continue my jestery. also this is very much written with mariah!ethan in mind, hence the alilexthan polycule are all in beautiful lesbian love

title from we're in love - boygenius <3

isn't it enough we stripped down to our skin?

Lex can’t fucking see.

Her hands are a muddled blob of peach and bloody red as she fumbles with the locks on ToyZone’s stockroom. The light switch is bloody from where she fought to turn it on, and the light bulb is constantly flickering behind her head.

Her eyes can’t focus. Fuck.

They’re blurry, and blurry is bad, because she’s vulnerable. She can’t fight if her eyesight is shitty.

Another lock. She can hear someone, something, screaming harshly, wetly, loud in the halls as the numbers below her fingers dance in her eyes.


A wave of cold sweat hits her.

Ethan. Ethan, fuck, she’s there with Alice, and Lex is there, and where are they, her nail catches on the lock, it bends upwards painfully but she just pushes through it,

Ethan, Alice, she just said something, but it was away, where are they—


Her lungs immediately seize. She can’t breathe.

Lock, lock, lock.


“I’m coming, I’m coming!” Lex yells as she pushes the last lock in the place — checks the sturdiness of the door one last time, slamming herself against it — and spins around while already running to—

Oh fuck. Oh fuck.

Her stomach revolts.

She’s pretty sure her mind refuses to process what’s in front of her, because the next thing she knows is a blood–doused hand in front of her.

Ethan’s hands are dark red as she reaches out helplessly to Lex with one of them, the other one still putting pressure against Alice’s stomach. Ethan herself looks like she’s about to cry or pass out, eyeshadow and eyeliner running down her cheeks, mouth open as she pants, chin shaking. Her teeth are bloody.

And the hand painted red, blood steadily rolling down her arm, under jacket sleeve, is a silent witness.


Lex forces down a gag. Her head spins, but by some miracle her feet stay sturdy as she fights through an intense urge to puke the granola bar she ate earlier. She can feel the sweat wetting the hair at her temples as her tongue weighs down in her mouth like a lead pipe. She can feel the bloody saliva pooling underneath it.

Alice is propped against one of the walls. Her head hangs limply as her hands are pressed to where her shirt suddenly falls from light pink into red, and then even deeper, into browns and blacks. Her jacket is already unzipped, probably by Ethan, and her hair is hanging in thick strings around her face, wet at the ends. (Lex doesn’t even want to think about why they’re wet.)

She can’t see Alice’s face.

She can’t fucking see that beautiful face.

(She knows it by heart, every pore and mole and crinkle. She needs to see it one more time, just to see if she’ll remember everything right.)

Lex catches herself before she topples over — right into the mangled mess of limbs Alice and Ethan are, applying pressure, she remembers that from the first aid course she had in her sophomore year — and Ethan’s bloody hand helps her settle down right by them. Knees against the cold floor and Alice’s cold pants, Alice’s legs shaking in blood loss tremors she doesn’t seem to control.

Lex is shaking too. She doesn’t care. Could move a fucking mountain if Ethan and Alice asked her to.

“It’s bad, Lex.” Ethan whispers and her hand tightens where it’s wrapped around Lex’s wrist. She feels the fake, chipped leather of her glove, the disgustingly damp way of the blood seeping into the fabric. “Really fucking bad.”

Lex shakes her head. She still feels lightheaded, but her hands tingle with sudden urge to do anything, just anything, let her move and make it all better, please.

“No, no—”

Alice’s head rises. And, fucking Christ, Lex can see her face now.

(She will later wish she hadn’t. It’ll appear in the dark corners of the rooms she’s in, the backseat of her car, in the other aisle of the shop, beneath beds, in the corner of her eye. Following her around, never relenting, never letting Lex go.)

Her face is streaked with blood. It’s dark and already chipping away, but in some places it’s fresh, glistening in the shitty ceiling light. Her nose is a bloody mess — crooked to the side, swollen to almost double the usual size of it, and she’s breathing harshly, something inside of her nose obstructing it.

Lex doesn’t even know where to start wiping if she tried. Her hands are almost vibrating now, blood constantly pumping, as if it wants to work for Alice too.

The blood vessels in her eyes have popped, and there’s something hazy, light in them, like Alice isn’t quite there. Like she’s staring right through Lex and at her at the same time.

And she’s pale. Freakishly pale, like Lex never seen. Worse than when Hannah had measles in first grade and Lex snuck into the pharmacy to steal any meds that looked like they would work on a 7-year-old. The freckles Alice swore she hated are now even more visible, dark spots against a shining face. Her skin is clammy, too, sticky with sweat and cold under Lex’s palm, and Alice slightly leans into the warm touch.

“Hi girl.” She tries to force on a smile. It’s tight on her lips, but either Alice doesn’t care anymore, or can’t see that well through her mudded eyes. Both possibilities are fucking terrifying.

“Hi.” Alice garbles out in response and smiles slightly against Lex’s palm. Her cheek muscles tremble as she does, pulling them up, and her eyes — or what’s left of her eyesight — slowly move to look at Lex’s face (Lex decidedly ignores how cold her usually honey–sweet gaze feels.) “H’r you holdin’ up?”

Lex’s smile morphs into a half–frown, eyebrows drawing in together. “I should be the one asking you this.”

“Well, I’m not holdin’ up.” Alice tries to joke, but it only results in Ethan suddenly letting out a loud sob and Lex shaking her head. “Sorry.”

“Don’t fucking apologize, Alice.” Lex says. She tries to keep it soft and comforting, but can’t help the wave of fear and something like guilt seeping into it. Her thumbs brushes Alice’s cheek, tracing over the dark freckles and clammy skin, and Alice’s lips linger over it softly as her head turns. They're cold. “Not now.”

Alice opens her mouth again, but all that comes out are bloody coughs. Blood splatters on her face, on Lex’s hand, on Ethan’s as she turns Alice’s head back to her and then down, patting her back. Blood everywhere, in red dots, like a faucet, trickling from both her mouth and nose, the bleeding renewed.

She takes a wheezing breath as Ethan deepens the pressure on her stomach, and looks half–confused, half–hurting at her.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry Alice,” Ethan mumbles as the blood keeps slowly appearing. From beneath her palms, between fingers, seeping into the fabric of her gloves. Dark in the shitty light hanging above them.

Alice breathes in again — less wheezing, but it’s still there, her lungs trying to maintain a normal oxygen intake, the faint whistling sound at the back of her throat — and coughs up more blood weakly.

A string of spit and blood hangs from her mouth as she blinks frantically.


An amnesty. Absolution of sins.

Alice remains good and sweet and perfect, and all the things neither Lex or Ethan could ever dream of being, even as she’s dying. Because that’s what she is — the best of them, bringing out the parts of them that they thought were long buried in their childhood selves. Selfless and giving, never taking, and if so, very reluctantly.

She’d give her own life up for them, even if it was so unfair. She’s just like this, Alice, their Alice, the Woodward goody–two–shoes. Even if she deserves it the most. Even if every sign in their lives is saying that it’s Alice who should make it out of their shitty town, and they will rot in the earth there.

Lex swallows and nods frantically, trying to— fuck, she doesn’t even know. Convince herself, reassure Alice, reassure Ethan that everything will be alright. She’ll fix it. She can do it.

That’s what she’s good at. Fixing bad situations. Yeah. She’s good at this.

She wipes the spit–blood string from Alice’s lips, and the beautiful — she’s still beautiful to Lex, bloodied or not, alive or not, — girl mouths “thanks.

Always sweet and perfect. Like late spring, early summer, long days and awake nights spent with the crickets, a group of friends and a joint passed around outside personified.

The blood string on Lex’s hand is slimy and sticks more in a snot way than actual blood. Mixed with thick spit, she thinks, and for a moment allows herself to hope that maybe the internal bleeding is slowing down.

Then she looks at Alice and all hope disappears with the haziness in her eyes, with how her mouth hangs slightly open. The trail of crusted blood coming from the corner of her lips.

They’re silent for just a moment.

“I’m sorry, Alice.” Ethan suddenly pipes up, and both heads turn to her — Lex snaps, though her eyes are still trained on Alice, and Alice’s slowly, mostly guided by Lex’s hand. “I didn’t— I would— I’m sorry.”

What?” Lex’s words come out on their own. Her tongue weighs down on her jaw, tingling, cold and unrelenting, and she feels the metallic taste of blood behind her teeth.

“It’s okay, Eth.” Alice garbles, and tries to put her hand on Ethan’s forearm, but the limb doesn’t listen. Instead, she rubs her thumb against her thigh, where it’s laying limply. “Fine. All forgiven.”

Ethan whimpers pitifully, and a painful zap of electricity passes through Lex’s gut.

What happened when she wasn’t there?

“I’m so—so sorry, Lex.” Her name being said is like Ethan throwing her into a freezing cold lake last summer.

Lex grinds her teeth.

She tries, and fails, not to get into her feelings with it.

She hates it all. She hates herself, and Ethan, for apologizing, and Alice, for apparently fucking self–sacrificing. She hates Hatchetfield, and this mall, and Frank and the stupid fucking Wirgly doll, or whatever it is, and—

And Alice is slipping away on her hand, cheek squishing into it. It’s colder than Lex last registered, and she never thought her heart could fall so far into her stomach.

“Hey, hey, stay awake, okay?” Lex pats Alice’s cheek a few times, as gently as her shaking hands manage, and Alice’s eyes reopen fully.

They’re glazed over. Not even fully green–blue anymore, but red at the corners, like the blood vessels in them have popped, and her irises are widened to the point they’re swallowing almost all the color.

If Lex believes hard enough, it’s the way they always are when she’s barely awake, after their sleepovers, when Ethan peppers her face with kisses and Alice instinctually tries to get away, smiling and burying her face in the nearest pillow.

“What’s the French word for bleeding out?” Her hand tightens around Alice’s, and gets a faint squeeze back. Alice’s hand is cold and sweaty, and Lex tries to hold onto the dream of putting a ring on one of its fingers one day, in California, on some fucking flower field like Alice wrote in the story she read to her and Ethan—

“I’m sorry, Lex, Ethan.” Alice swallows, and the sound is unlike anything Lex has heard before, rough and slimy and it makes Lex’s heart stop beating for a moment. She starts shaking her head and looks at Ethan, Ethan looks back at her, eyes wide and terrified and black from how much mascara has been cried out. They turn back to Alice together. “So sorry, Eth.”

Something shifts inside of Lex, like puzzle pieces being moved around.

“Stay awake for me.” Lex demands, and her hand moves from Alice’s face to her. Her eyes float around Lex’s face with a perplexed look, like she can’t even recognize Lex anymore. “What is the French word for bleeding out, Alice?

She can see Alice scrambling for an answer. Her mouth opens, then closes, and she breathes out like a bunny. Shaky and unrhythmical, and Lex's mind is running on empty.

Ethan wipes the corner of her mouth with her glove, and Alice attempts to say something, her mouth quivers and she smiles — a light, small thing, barely there — and Ethan props her head up on her own shoulder, where she had slipped off her jacket so it’s all good and comfortable for Alice.

She starts humming a slow melody. Sweet and so Alice it sticks to the back of Lex’s throat like the shitty peanut butter that’s the cheapest at Walmart. It’s something Lex remembers from her childhood and doesn’t at the same time — like the melody has been wedged deep into her bones with Ethan’s Swiss army knife and Alice’s maroon nails — and it makes her want to bash her head against the cold, concrete floor.

The only thing that’s stopping her is not being sure if Ethan wouldn’t follow her and Alice in death.

Ethan doesn’t deserve death, she thinks as Ethan places a kiss, a goodbye, on Alice’s forehead. Her black lipstick leaves a clear shape of her lips, and Alice tries to smile, but all of her muscles are just quivering, shaking aimlessly, and she keeps having to force herself to breathe. Ethan is so much better at the consoling thing.

“I love you, Alice,”

before her head rolls to the side.

She takes one more breath — two, three — and breathes out a four.

She doesn’t breathe back in.


Lex never learns what the French word for bleeding out is. She doesn’t want to. Alice didn’t want her to know, she presumes, and she lets her take that knowledge to an early grave.

Once upon the time, Alice told Lex — mid–class, when Lex was skipping, per usual, and Alice had a period break between the classes at Clivesdale Community College, just the two of them standing behind the bike shed, sharing a half–smoked minty cigarette Lex decided was “disgusting shit” before taking another puff — that she wanted wild flowers on her grave. Even if it were weeds with dirt and roots, she wanted them.

She couldn’t even bring her goddamn wild flowers. All she managed was a Lego flower, and pennies from Ethan’s pockets on Alice’s eyes.

They folded her arms and left.

And when the Lakeside Mall goes up in flames, she stands by and lets Ethan cry into her shoulder. Watching as one fire truck pulls up after another, and as Alice’s body turns into crisp in ToyZone’s stockroom.

That’s easier to explain to her father when he recognizes Lex and Ethan in the parking lot and almost trips over his own feet running to them, still in his pajama pants, face twisted in pure fear, clutching his phone.

(Lex knows his wallpaper is a photo of Alice. One he took at the fishing trip she pretended she didn’t want to go on, last August. She’s holding a stupidly small fish and shooting the big, lipsticked smile Lex loves so much. Bill shows it off to everyone who is willing to listen.

Was willing.)

Alice just died in the fire. They’re sorry.

Ethan chokes on her own tears and mucus when she says that they tried, and Alice fought like hell, and she didn’t go down willingly. She tried to protect them until her body gave out on her. Told them to save themselves.

They let him think of his daughter as the hero she was. Not pay even a moment to think about how much of cowards they really are.

He wipes his tears as he tries to reassure them that it’s okay, he doesn’t blame them. Pulls them into an awkward hug that quickly evolves into all the adrenaline crashing down, and Lex and Ethan falling into Bill as he sobs over the only one of their three that was ever wanted.


Lex drags her feet home that day. Hannah is already looking through the back porch window, looking out for her coming from the highway entrance. Lex can see the car keys ready in her hand in case they need to run.

It’s the first time Lex can remember when it’s her crying in her sister’s arms.

(She’s sure it happened many times before, but she was too drunk or high or like her mom to notice.)

Hannah takes it all like a champ. Lex will later lay awake in her bed, the stench of blood and fire in her nose and constant white noise of Alice’s last breaths and the screams not letting her sleep, and think about how hard it was for Hannah.

The news. The fear. Their mom and Lex’s promise, Lex’s absence, California spinning in her mind. She probably called her and Ethan and even Alice a million times and none of them ever picked up.

But she wipes Lex’s hot and wet face ayway and helps her to the shower. Peels off layer of clothes after layer of clothes — her jacket, then the ToyZone uniform, then her Hozier t–shirt below it (she never even really liked him, Alice just blasted his music every time she got to drive her and Ethan around in Bill’s or her mom's car) and pants — and folds them neatly into a square. Like Alice taught her. She leads Lex into the shower and sets up the boiler so the water will warm up soon.

The door closes as the shower starts. Lex doesn’t even notice when Hannah turns it on.

The water is cold.

It doesn’t soothe the fire choking Lex from inside. It doesn’t do anything besides making her body shake and the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. She still feels like taking a deeper breath will make the remnants of Alice’s strawberry and watermelon shampoo and the gut–wrenching smell of the mall fire disappear.

Hannah is a great sister.

Lex isn’t great. Lex isn’t anything at all.


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