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Katherine Belmont

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  1. if i tell myself

    So Emily hadn't taken long at all to resume her fawning over Matt. That in itself wasn't a surprise, but what did surprise Kate was the sense of relief that sat underneath her initial irritation. Let him be mad at her, let her be the one who had to choose to keep holding him upright even as he berated her for doing it "wrong". Let Emily be there for every moment, every little thing, every complaint and ache and need, and let Emily be the one who got nothing back. The hand holding her glass had curled tighter, knuckles whitening with the pressure. Kate knew she couldn't expect much from him yet. Coming back to his body was an overwhelming experience, but at the very least she had hoped for... what? Acknowledgement that she wasn't his nurse? For him to just occasionally reach out and take her hand, not to get her attention---but to hold it? A smile on his face when he said her name? Anything. A tiny, miniscule scrap of affection. Just something to prove that he wasn't so completely wrapped up in his inability to look after himself that he couldn't see her too. "I put my life on hold and waited for him," she said after a long pause, her voice cracking down the middle. "It can't have been for nothing. But at the same time, it's... I don't know. He won't even talk to me. Doesn't ask how my day was. He keeps himself so separate from me, if he didn't snore so bloody loud I'd think I still had the bed to myself. Stupid me thought it would be enough just having him there to come home to, but... it's not. How he's talking to Ems right now, how he's looking at her... that's exactly what he gives me too. Like I'm not special to him, I'm just... there."
  2. if i tell myself

    Kate's lips turned up in a wry half-smile. Independent? Yes, Matt was definitely an independent sort. His life hadn't been an easy one, it was the sort of life that either pushed you into resilience or ate you alive. Matt was a survivor of his own existence, and he'd had his ways set long before Kate became a close part of it. Their relationship was so unexpected even just for that: neither seemed to really need anything from others. Kate had married her ex-husband for social reasons, and then ignored him. "I know," she said softly. "I know." And she had her own frustrations to counter, too. Everything had built up to this wonderful moment when he finally woke up, and then... Kate wasn't sure if things were actually better now, or worse. Possibly worse, and admitting that to herself was sickening. Even when she told herself it was temporary, that this was the hardest part, she still felt like she was being ungrateful for this chance. She missed him as he had been before the accident, it was hard to accept that the angry figure in the wheelchair was him. Or would be again, in time. "I hope it's there, I---" she paused, Phil tapping her on the shoulder with a fresh drink. A strong one. Since Matt's return, he'd been so much nicer to her. Even Mish was cutting her some slack. Any time Matt came down to the bar, they saw first-hand how difficult he could be. Phil had caught her outside once, trying to hide the fact she was crying. Kate had been mortified, but it seemed that Phil had worded up the staff to look after her from then on. She appreciated it. "Thank you," Kate nodded and Phil disappeared back to the bar. "I worry that we won't fit together like we used to," she murmured. "That maybe I waited for something that was slipping away the whole time. Or this point here, where he needs me for every little thing, this is what will drive us apart." Kate turned her head back to watch Matt grumping as Emily Burdett fussed over him. Ugh. Really? Kate's lips were thin and tight as she turned her attention back to Boaz. "Becareful with offers like that," she said. "You might see more of me than you like." Kate paused. "... Not... not like that, though."
  3. if i tell myself

    "Well, there's that," Kate nodded. They were definitely an unlikely pair, especially given that Kate was not known to be kind to people who were different in the way that Boaz was different. She'd been raised that way and never really fought the impulse until it fought her. After all, she hadn't been known for being kind to Matt before they became a couple. Or even Alan most of the time, and that was purely for their status as public school educated country boys. They didn't have a single tattoo between them. Alan had tried... once. That had been hilarious. Boaz was definitely the sort of man that would spin her father into a direct heart attack. She did like that about him. "It's actually a relief when I get to go to work and only have to worry about my entire staff being miserable bitches," she said with a half-smile. "Somehow, he's worse than all of them put together. He doesn't take it out on Hazel though, so that's something." Kate definitely couldn't be unhappy about how Matt and Hazel had bonded since he came home. He lamented, as Kate did, his child's wild and chaotic ways---and she knew he hated not being able to do anything for Hazel in his current state. But they often curled up to read together, share secrets in hushed tones, and produce abstract pieces of art with paint and dried pasta. "He doesn't like having to rely on me," she murmured. "He was caring for his mum when he was not much older than H, he probably would have been stubbornly independent anyway, though. If the situations were reversed, I... I honestly don't know how I'd be. Calinda was the independent one in our family. Always did her own thing. Frustrated Daddy to no end. Maybe she is where Hazel gets that from."
  4. if i tell myself

    The handshake made Kate smile. Hazel had tried to teach her---and failed miserably, before they both decided that it was "probably just a school thing anyway". The nickname was also appropriate. Hazel had never been one for a small group of close friends, she flitted in and around other groups. It worried her sometimes that this was more about Hazel not fitting into any one group, that she didn't have a place of her own to stay. Slowly she'd come to realise that Hazel just loved everyone, and went with who the day took her to. Hazel didn't want or need a small group that was her own, she was quite content to be part of it all on a larger scale. A butterfly, gracing each flower in turn. And that was where she and Hazel greatly differed. As Boaz said the word "friend", a gentle glow pulsed in her chest. To have some so openly, so casually say that word was... it felt more magical than magic to her. She felt that need to be part of a community, to belong and have more than just allies and enemies. Kate had always felt it, even though that wasn't how she had been raised. She had always longed for things like casual coffee outings, meaningless conversations deep into the night, and the very real security of knowing that there was someone out there who would support you even if it wasn't to their advantage. Kate had very few of those in her life. She was not very successful in making them. She had been asked to leave several mothers' groups after Hazel was born, as each one apparently found her too abrasive and judgemental. And she was. She did know that. She was learning. Boaz was a big win for her socially. "Thank you," she said. "I do appreciate you coming here. It's... yeah. A miracle. But no one tells you about the work that comes after the miracle," she said wryly, before stopping herself. "I shouldn't complain, it should be enough that he's home. We're very happy. Yes... very happy."
  5. if i tell myself

    Kate was tired. Curls fell loose from a less-than-perfect bun, she'd forgotten to put in earrings. It wasn't the sharp image she usually projected, but---messy chic was a thing, wasn't it? Kate wasn't sure she even cared at this point. Having Matt back was wonderful, but it was also work. A lot of work. Her daydreams that everything would quickly go back to how it had been vanished the day he came home, when she found herself suddenly the full-time carer of a very frustrated and irritable adult man. She couldn't blame him. He had to re-learn so many basic things, his body needed time to build the strength it had lost. Stuck in a wheelchair and unable to do anything for himself, he got angry fast. Even the idea of the party hadn't done much to alleviate his irritability. What was the point, he said, if he couldn't tend the bar? Why were they celebrating a man who couldn't do anything? He was at a table now, having demanded that she bring him down and have him seated before anyone arrived to see him handled into the chair. He was making every effort not to show the blanket that kept his thin legs warm, and trying to keep the way he leaned on the table as casual more than necessary. Kate saw through the facade. He'd pushed her away, again, for the night. This time she hadn't argued. A handful of Burdetts had made themselves at home at his table, she wasn't needed for the time being. A relief. "Mr Izem!" Hazel's voice grabbed her attention through the room, and Kate paused in her wandering to watch her daughter's face light up as she saw her teacher among the crowd. The move to Tally had been so good for her. She was bright and confident and... barefoot. With lopsided pigtails and an inside-out cardigan on. Kate really didn't know how she'd managed to raise such a chaotic child. But... she needed to get those shoes on. Kate wove her way through the crowd, nodding to Boaz as she approached. There was no hint of awkwardness behind it, though she remembered every detail of her visit. She saw no reason to feel ashamed, she had told no lie. Maybe it would have been more strange if he'd obliged her, and then Matt had woken---but even that Kate could resolve with herself. She liked Boaz, found him intriguing and enjoyed being around him. Whatever happened, Kate didn't see herself forming the same level of connection with Boaz that she did with Matt, and that was the difference. That was what made Boaz no true threat to her marriage, and what kept her comfortable in her cheeky admiration of... well. Everything that he was. Although Matt didn't feel like her husband now in the way he had before the accident. That was a problem she was trying to bury with time and hope it righted itself. It would, surely, as he became more himself. Stronger. Less touchy. "Nice to see you here, Boaz," she said lightly, prying Hazel's cardigan off her shoulders and turning it back in the right way. Hazel rolled her eyes as if Kate was the weird one. "You need to go and get your shoes, H. There's no way tonight doesn't end up with broken glass on the floor. Go. Now." Hazel sighed, rolled her eyes again, and obediently skipped off toward the stairs. "She doesn't do that at school, does she? Abandon her shoes?" Kate asked, one amused eyebrow raised.
  6. How is it almost term three already?

  7. Give an answer, ask a question!

    Just do it. However feels best. There's nothing worse than being left without anything that could possibly have been a goodbye, no.. extra-tight hug, or hand squeeze. It doesn't have to be so obvious, but it does have to exist. Something that feels like a goodbye, even if you can't call it one. Speaking of which. How do you say "hello" to someone you've not seen in years? How do you get back to the way things were before you were separated?
  8. Hazel finally got to hug her father and have them both remember it. Small things, but very important things.

    1. Boaz Izem

      Boaz Izem

      What good news! 

  9. Little Machinations

    Kate flopped down onto a chair with a long sigh. "Yes, yes," she said. "You're probably quite right." It had all sounded like a very good idea to Kate, who tended to get tunnel vision when she wanted something. She got caught up and carried away, it had been so long since she'd felt anything remotely like physical attraction it had been such a thrill to feel like she might get that part of her life back. Logic and reality, and Boaz's better judgement, took away the last shreds of that wonderful fantasy, and... Kate very suddenly felt empty again. Her shoulders fell, and she tried to stay upright while her body felt like it was collapsing into the aching void that had reappeared in her chest. What if this was her life from now on? Long stretches of feeling nothing, punctuated by bright and then soul-crushing moments of hope and disappointment. Kate didn't attach to people, or trust them easily. She needed that before she could feel attracted to them. She needed to know they would be there, needed to feel secure. Independent as she wanted people to think she was, she didn't let go easily. She couldn't. The hole that people created when they left her life was too unbearable. "I hurt people. And I make them want to go away," the smile on her face was sad, distant. "My sister said that, right before she went. I wonder sometimes if it was a curse she put on me, or just some dying wish magic, or... I don't know. I'm exactly what she saw? And maybe I don't deserve more than I have, because... I haven't been a good sort of person." Kate knew it. She hated herself for it. Sometimes she wondered if Matt's coma was less an unfortunate accident, and more karmic revenge. "What if Hazel realises?" her voice shook suddenly. It was a thought that had always been there, but Kate never dared voice it. "Sooner or later, I'm going to drive her away too, and I don't..." Kate didn't know how to do this any more. Her sadness was dragging Hazel down, was it going to push her away too? How did she stop that from happening? The ache wasn't going away any time soon, and the way that brief hope had crumbled made it clear enough that there was no bright future just there on the horizon. Kate felt she needed to get better for Hazel's sake, to be real again before her daughter grew up without the mother she deserved. "I don't know how to fix me so that she won't get hurt."
  10. Little Machinations

    Kate listened, a bemused smile on her face. More wine for the wine gods, she poured herself another drink. Her tolerance was so much higher these days, too many nights alone while Hazel was up at the school. She let out a soft sigh, and the look she gave him was (for once) a pure reflection of how she felt. Relaxed, not at all worried about any potential consequences, and with a fondness for Boaz and his adorable little concerns. "Alan is a good friend, yes," she acknowledged. "More a constant pain in my arse, but it is what it is---we have a lot of history. You know that, surely? He wanted to marry me at one point, but... it'd only been a few years since we lost Calinda. Daddy would not have survived the heartbreak of losing me too. Even if that would have been his own choice, I couldn't do it to him," Kate frowned, rolling her eyes at her own past stupidity. "We do such dumb things for the people we think we should love." Kate's relationship with her parents was a rough one. She still spoke to, and took care of them---dutiful daughter that she was, but neither her mother nor father had met Hazel. They had not been invited to her wedding. Kate had been her Daddy's girl, his perfect princess, until the moment it all came crashing down. After Calinda, the curtains had been pulled back and Kate didn't like the family she found herself in. Nothing had been the same after that. "But, you know. We got over it. And the seven thousand times it started and ended, we always come back to where we are. Because I trust him, and... at the end of the day, we're friends. Always have been, always will be." and he would always be a pain in her arse, and she would bite back the same way. That's just who they were. Like family. Better family than she'd been born with, that was for sure. "I don't really have much to offer you, Boaz," Kate admitted with a sigh. "You deserve so much more than I can give. A family, for one. Your own children. Less... complications. All I've got is mountains of baggage wrapped in a body too damaged to carry another baby. I was lucky to get Hazel. There's always the minute possibility of Matthew waking up, and then what? What happens then? What if he wakes up and we don't fit together anymore? Or I've moved on to someone else, and suddenly I need to choose?" Kate closed her eyes, exhaling as if she could breathe out the demons and confused thoughts that plagued her. "But going to a bar and picking an opportunity at random was never my style, either. There's no soul in it. No real connection. I miss that more than anything. Trusting someone enough to share your whole self with them, to... let them see you at your most vulnerable. Know that when the world crashes on you in the dark of the night, they're there to hold you down." her smile now was sad, reflective. "Ultimately, once I trust someone like that... I don't let them go. It's a bond for life, no matter what happens. It's why Alan and I always go back to where we are. Why my first husband is still a part of my life. It's not the kind of love they write movies about, but... it's very close," Kate was picky about partners. She was picky about everything. It took a lot for her to let go, to really let go. "I feel like I can trust you like that. And I want to. I don't know what comes next, or how it all works out, but..." Kate pushed herself to stand properly, stepping over to stand in front of Boaz, her wine glass held in front of her, grasped like a security blanket. "I do know that I'd like to be closer to you. Is that... okay?"
  11. Little Machinations

    "Oh, Boaz, you sweet thing," Kate's laugh came with a shake of her head. He was such a gentleman, it was almost disgusting. Another man--most men, in fact--would have seized the opportunity as it was presented. That wasn't wrong, Kate was a grown woman who knew exactly what she was doing. It was rare that Kate let anyone truly take advantage of her, and only ever offered what she was willing to give. Kate sighed and topped up her glass again. "I appreciate the sentiment, but your concerns are... unfounded. Alcohol as the breeding ground of bad decisions is something of a myth, if you ask me. It's more like a key," Kate tapped her fingers idly against the glass. "You know me well enough to know that... I would never be seen out in public as I am now. Casual, under-dressed, speaking freely. Gods, I forgot my shoes at the apartment and haven't touched up my make up in the last hour. Every aspect of who I let the world see is so crafted, right down to the words I use and the way I move---anything that doesn't fit that, does not happen. It's a lot of effort, and there are very few people I can relax that around. The society I was raised in, live in, work in, it demands that level of perfection. Growing up, and for a long time after that, I really believed it was also who I wanted to be." Kate stepped around the side of the couch, dropping a hand to where Cheeto was sitting, absently smoothing down the cat's fur. "It's not. Not anymore. Maybe it was, but the whole act is so... practiced that it's far easier than letting myself go, and chase after the things I do want. Alcohol melts away the mask, inspires me to act on the truth of who I am. Too much, and yes---like anyone, I make bad decisions. But I'm far from that point. I'm a big girl, I know my limits. And I know it's not the first time I've wondered what it would be like to be closer to you, just the first time I've been free enough to ask for it." "Almost all of the decisions in my life that led to regret, are decisions I made when I was stone cold sober. And usually because I went with what was good for my image, rather than what I wanted deep down. I don't think this is something I will regret in the morning, and even if I did? I can still be proud that I didn't run away from something that I wanted." Kate shrugged. Especially since Hazel had sent that letter, she'd pondered the pros and cons of someone like Boaz to death in her mind. Every negative point seemed to focus on how it would look rather than how she would feel. "If it isn't something you want, or if you think you would regret it in the morning---that's perfectly fine," she added softly. "Just please don't pretend that it's to save me from regrets. Because I'm done regretting all of the things I never had the courage to make happen."
  12. Little Machinations

    As the blush hit Boaz's cheeks, Kate's grin widened. For all her orchestrated politeness, Kate actually had very little shame. She'd never have survived if she did, there were plenty of aspects of her life that she should have been embarrassed by. Perhaps she genuinely didn't care, or maybe she was that well-practiced at distancing herself from the people she'd embarrassed herself in front of, it wasn't really relevant. And seeing Boaz blush was incredibly cute. "I was rather hoping you wouldn't say anything," she replied with a smirk. No point being coy about it. Kate didn't know what she wanted in the long term, but her short-term wants were crystal clear. Boaz was kind and thoughtful, intelligent and challenging in his own way. He was someone she could hold a conversation with, without wanting to shake him. Outside of Alan and Stuart, that made Boaz the closest thing Kate had to a "friend" in Narrie. With a sigh and another long sip, Kate let the grin fade. "I'm... actually serious," she admitted, her voice soft. "I haven't wanted anything like that from anyone in six years. It's... terrifying to feel like that again, but... I do. I did when I first met you, and you were nice to me even though I was horrible to you. You didn't have to help me, but you did. You made me feel like I was more than just the shell I'd become, more than Hazel's mum and Matthew's poor wife. I actually... do like you. A lot. And clearly, Hazel's noticed." Admitting it still felt like a betrayal to Matt, maybe one day that would get easier. Nothing good was coming of denying her wants and needs though, Hazel had shown her that. She needed to be happy again, and real. Herself. Not just a figure in other lives, but live her own life again. "Are you blushing because you're mortified I'd feel that way," she said, only a little awkwardly. Kate tried to pull back that wicked grin and easy confidence. "Or... because you've thought about it too?" It was supposed to be a light tease, make him blush again---but as she said it, she heard the words and cringed a little. What arrogance. She couldn't take them back now.
  13. Little Machinations

    Kate nodded. Boaz was wise. Very wise for someone who looked (to her) like they were probably homeless. He wasn't saying anything new, or terribly profound---certainly not anything that hadn't already been said to her by Alan or Stuart, even her mother had weighed in on this. Though, that had more been a thinly veiled attack on "that terrible Tallygarunga boy" than it was genuine concern for Kate's happiness. It was so much easier to tell her to go shove it when Matt had been up and around. "I guess the last person to accept that is... me," she shrugged. No one else had a problem with her moving on, least of all Hazel. Kate had always been the one to refuse. Always been the one who felt like it was cheating, unfaithful, that it made her the same sort of wife to Matt that... well. That she'd been to Seth. She wasn't proud of that. They'd all been such dumb kids. She stopped by the table, picking up the wine bottle and topping up her glass---before tilting the bottle back toward Boaz to offer the same to him. "My life has been on pause for years," she said, with a deep and resolute breath. "It's time I pressed 'play' again. And whatever happens... happens, right? Whether Matthew wakes up or... not... I won't have wasted any more years waiting." there was something very comforting about this decision. She felt like she could breathe a little better, stand a little straighter. The future was suddenly less bleak. Hazel would no longer be raised in a grey void of Kate's misery. There was... potential. Possibility. "Besides, I want a lot of things," Kate had always been a woman of ambition. That was no secret. She enjoyed her work at Penrose, hadn't tried to go beyond that for fear of losing her security. "Possibly a career change---do you think I would do well in the Ministry? I think I have the right level of 'ruthless bitch' to own that place. Then Laney can just have the damn school. You know I've been there for... almost my whole life. That's... upsetting..." Kate's voice trailed off as she went into a career crisis. She'd started at Penrose in one of the first rounds of pre-school programs, and only had four years at VMU before she took a job there teaching. "Good thing we rescued Hazel from that," she snorted, raising her glass as if it was a toast. "She's a smart kid. Such a smart kid, she just knows things... but you know that. Of course you do. You're her teacher." Kate had her wagging finger out, pointed at Boaz. "And you're kind of teaching me now. Isn't that fun? But I need it, I do, I'm... it's a difficult crossroads in my life this one, but you're absolutely right. I am allowed to want these things for myself." Kate looked up at him, her lips curling into a devilish grin not seen in years. "I'm allowed to want you to kiss me," she said airily. "You can't stop me."
  14. Invite Moment of Truth

    "You need to speak with Matthew?" Kate's incredulous voice rose a little with her surprise. Who was this kid? Not one of the Penrose girls, she knew that much. Her lips thinned against each other as she tried to guess where this was going. Someone who wasn't aware of Matt's situation? That didn't make sense. The girl looked scared, too. Try as she might, Kate couldn't work it out. She felt off-balance here, aware that something was not within her control. Which of course meant she just had to control every other thing that she did have power to control. "I'm afraid that won't be possible," she said after a moment. "My husband has been in a coma for several years now. He won't be attending to any business, urgent or otherwise. I'm sorry." Kate gave the girl a tight smile, her hand on the door ready to close it. What was this nonsense? Urgent business with Matt? It was probably a scam of some sort, that was all that made sense. Someone who just had a name and address, like a door-knocking Nigerian prince. Did she want money? Was that it? Curiosity got the better of her. The sky was darkening and rain beginning to fall. Before she sent this miserable kid back out into the weather, she could at least stop long enough to find out why she was even here. "What business do you have with him?" Kate asked, turning her head back a little as small bare feet slapped up the tiles toward them. Hazel's frizzy-haired head poked out from behind her, uniform disheveled in a messy chaos so opposite to her mother it was almost hilarious. She had stickers on her face. Kate's hand dropped, resting atop her daughter's head, smoothing down some of that wild woolly child, a subconscious gesture of comfort. "Mummy! I caught the sticker-pox!" Hazel giggled, before looking at Holly. "Are you staying for dinner? I'm Hazel!" fast as a blink, Hazel darted forward and poked a sticker onto Holly's leg. "And you've got the sticker-pox too!" "H, sweetheart," Kate said softly, the gentleness at odds with her sharp appearance. "Let the girl speak."
  15. Invite Moment of Truth

    Kate wasn't long home from work, still impeccably dressed in the severely professional uniform that was forced upon the staff of Penrose. Hazel, on the other hand, had left shoes and socks, a jumper, her hat, and a scattering of books in a trail down the hall as she made her way inside. The items were covered in dirt, grass stains, and though Kate was certain that she'd sent her daughter to school with her hair neatly braided, some of it was still half-held together... while the rest frizzed out around her like a fluffy curtain. The kid was a chaotic mess, the exact opposite of her parents. Their apartment wasn't big, but it was in a good area. Her parents had bought her the place, right after she promised not to marry Alan. A wedding gift to herself and Seth, and even though the marriage had no chance... she rather liked the place. It was also her last remaining asset, the majority of her savings sunk into endless specialists to find the answer to Matt's coma. None of it had been successful, and of late she'd had to pull back on her trying. Any more and she would soon be in danger of losing the house, and that was where she finally drew the line. "H, are you out of your uniform yet?" she called back to Hazel, knowing full well that her daughter would need at least three more reminders before she changed. And Hazel did not respond, which meant she was either lost in a book---or some other fantasy world that she had invented. At least she kept herself well occupied, Hazel was a very social girl but also enjoyed time to herself. Making up stories, or holding elephant tea parties. The knock at the door was a puzzle though. Kate got very few actual visitors, it was generally easier for her to visit Narrie than it was to have anyone come here. Her heels clicked ominously against the tile floor, unaware of the sharp and intimidating nature of her appearance as she opened the door. "Yes?" she asked, raising a single eyebrow. "What do you want?"