Chapter 57: Finally Clean

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While the rest of her coven rushed forward to greet the boys, Taylor stayed behind. She walked to where Kim was sitting on the sand, and sat down next to her.

They sat silently for a moment, watching the joyous reunion from afar. The witches and the boys shouting and laughing and hugging. It was nice, Taylor thought, to see everyone so happy, after so long.

But she also kept stealing small, curious glances at Kim. Not wanting to spoil the moment, but not quite able to read the mask of Kim's face, and not quite sure what, exactly, had just happened.

"So..." Taylor said, finally.

"So there was this man," Kim said, as if reading Taylor's mind. She didn't look at look at Taylor while she spoke, but kept her eyes trained on the distant scene of witches and celebrity boys. "Because it always seems to begin with a man. He wasn't even an important man. Just some rando. Just some guy with too much money and free time. Maybe that was part of the problem--his life experience not lining up with his ego's expectations. Anyways. He enslaved some witches from KKHollywood. Friends of mine. Mentors, really. He used them to create a spell that stole the boys from this world and held them captive in that one. He hoped to take their powers from them and use them for himself. He wanted to create an army of men. He wanted to create a world where men ruled, where women's lives were dictated entirely by men. Where selfies were illegal and women weren't allowed to think for themselves, at all."

"omg," Taylor whispered, astonished. "That sounds like such complete garbage." She paused, considering it. "I mean it also kind of sounds like this world, in some ways."

Kim nodded. "But I defeated him. I stopped him and destroyed his army and freed everyone he had enslaved. I set my world back on the right path, a better path. And we'll do the same here. I know this world has been harmed by the events that transpired in KKHollywood, but we will put things back the way they were."

Their attention was drawn to Selena, who was bouncing up and down, clinging with one hand to Oscar Isaac's perfect arm and waving wildly for Taylor's attention with the other. "Kim saved the boys!" she called across the sand. "Some jerk was using them for nefarious purposes and Kim rescued everyone!"

Oscar smiled broadly and waved goofily at Kim. Kim smiled and half-heartedly waved back. "Oh sure, they believe the men," Kim said, only kind of joking.

Taylor looked at Kim, watching her face, seeing all the emotions concealed just beneath Kim's perfect, glossy skin.

"I'm so sorry," Taylor said. "None of this was your fault at all."

Kim returned Taylor's stare. "Wasn't it?" Kim said. "KKHollywood is my world. I'm responsible for what happens there. It's because of me, and because of things I said and did in that world, that the boys of this world were placed in danger. Was I directly responsible? Maybe not. But the blame is there if you want to place it." Kim turned her eyes back towards the orb. There were still boys emerging, each one sending the growing crowd into renewed shouts of joy.

"But like, how did you defeat him?" Taylor asked. "It sounds awful. How did you get the boys back?"

Kim's mind raced back across everything she'd been through. Being torn away from Kanye, and later betraying him when he tried to help. Being taken from Nori just when their relationship was finally starting to repair itself. Losing Calum Woof and Tiny Monkey in her misguided haste to keep Kanye away from Cassio. Everything she had done to try to win Willow back, and having been rejected by her ultimately anyway. All the trusts she had betrayed, all the loves she had lost. It was too much to try and explain.

"I just did what I needed to do," Kim said. "I fixed the things I needed to fix, even if it meant having to break other things in the process." Her eyelids fluttered against something, a piece of sand, a tear, that she refused to let take hold there.

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