Title: Alice
Author: Becka
Pairing: None.

Warnings: Angst. AU? Blood. Dark. Disturbed. Drug use. Language. NCS-inference. OOC. Self-injury. Songfic.

Disclaimer: Gundam Wing does not belong to Becka; characters are used without permission for a non-profit purpose. No infringement is intended.

o

/ Alice pressed against the wall so
She can see the door
In case the laughing strangers call and
Crush the petals on the floor. /

The room's hot. Bodies pressed too close for comfort, for her comfort at least, and she can almost see the steam rising through heavy coats and petticoats, formal dress with its ruffles and frills and all the _stupid_ getup that polite society insists on keeping around.

She looks around, feels the sweat beading at the corner of her eye and resists the urge to wipe it away. Rules. Etiquette. She's so sick of it all.

Whoever thought up the rule that for a lady to raise her hands to her face, in any manner and for any reason, during a formal dinner was rude and to be considered an insult to the person she was talking to had obviously been hitting the pipe for far too long.

So she makes her rounds, ignores the heat, thinks of the emptiness of cool space to keep her calm. Polite society. They're nothing but a bunch of vipers, dressed in king's clothing. She can feel their slitted, unnatural eyes on her back, following her as she ducks and weaves through clusters and cliques, united and divided by temporary alliances and the omnipotent rules of politics.

So she plays the mediator, plays the Queen, makes nice-nice with all the guests, smiles wide enough to match everyone there and slips a couple of pills into her drink when no one's watching.

The banquet goes on until nearly two in the morning. Then the guests nod and leave, their dirty dishes and empty glasses littering the hall. The servants will clean it up, she knows, but it reflects everything she's learned about "the elite," and she hates them for it.

Yes, that's right, she thinks as she stares at the subservient men and women dressed in their unobtrusive black and white regulation standard-fit uniforms. That's right, she thinks as they meekly bow their heads and avoid her eyes and pick up the mess that was left by the lords and ladies who dominate Earth and the five colonies. Right, right, right, she thinks, because it's just so _typical_ of people who think they're better than others to live the high life and not care about the _shit_ they leave for other people to come and clean up. They _are_ better, so they think; the rules of the universe don't apply to them. They have their own set of rules that say, "Don't raise your hand to your face because it's considered rude at a formal gathering," and "Never drink a bottle of wine that hasn't aged for at least 300 years." So, right, she thinks, this is just so _right_ because they're elite and that makes them God. Right?

She's worked herself up with this line of thinking, so she stalks to her room and slams the door shut. She's God. She's allowed to do that if she wants, so long as the only ones around to hear it are servants. Right, she thinks. Right.

/ Alice in her party dress, she
Thanks you kindly, so serene, she
Needs you like she needs her tranqs to
Tell her that the world is clean, /

Walks to her bathroom, heels click, click, clicking on the clean marble tiles. Slams that door too. The staff know well enough to leave her alone after a night like this. The formality puts her the _that_ mood. Where all she knows she needs to do is pop a couple of pills and let herself go. This is her room, no one's watching, and she can do whatever she wants when no one's watching, just so long as she acts the part of the pretty princess, Queen, God, when she's in public.

So she pops a couple more pills, shakes them out of a little shiny case she keeps in her bra, close to her heart, and they take effect. Right. Now she's feeling pretty fine, and that's all there is to it.

Peels the stupid dress off, not noticing , not caring that the fragile, delicate material catches and rips, and she throws it to the floor. Looks at it, lying there, crumpled, broken, useless. _Pink_. All ruffles and bows, frills and sparkles. The illusion of everything she's supposed to stand for, everything she's supposed to be. Beautiful. Innocent. Pure. And all she can think is how her dress is lying on the floor, a rumbled mess, discarded like so much trash. Like the body of a rape victim, there for anyone to find and pick up and try to fix, there for anyone to come along and tear to pieces. Begging for it. Begging to be hurt because it's all she knows.

Resists the urge to step on the dress, tear it to pinkish little wisps with her heeled shoes. Fails.

Knows it's childish. Does it anyway because she's God. Right.

Grinds her heels into it like the spoiled brat everyone calls her behind her back. So what if it's petulant? They don't know. They don't care. They've never bothered to looked being the pink fucking dress, and maybe if they had, they'd understand why she needs to do this. It's rebellion.

Against the image. Against the mold. Against the conformity and everything she stands for. Against every word that dribbles out of her mouth, written by greedy advisors and politicians.

Politics.

She _hates_ politics.

Alliances. Truces. Temporary treaties and bonds formed and cemented by bribes and blackmail. She hates it because she knows how to play the game so well. So well that they call her Queen, and never ask themselves what she's had to do to get to that position.

She hates herself for what she's done to hold it.

Clutches the soft, cotton slip she wears, hugging herself to ward off the chill. Stumbles to the bedroom and falls back on her bed, and tries to remember why she's still here.

/ To promise her a definition
Tell her where the rain will fall
Tell her where the sun shines bright and
Tell her she can have it all /

She stares up at the ceiling, the pukish shade of pink. She _hates_ it. Doesn't even know why she picked it.

Okay, so maybe she's lying to herself there. It's nothing new. She figured out a long time ago that if everyone else could lie to her, to her face with their double-edges smiles and razor sharp teeth, well, then she can lie to herself, too. It wouldn't be right to exempt herself from the rules, even if she is the alleged Queen of the World. And the Colonies. And the nothingness of space. Even if she is God because gods have their own set of rules.

She misses space. The dark, bleak, endless abyss, peppered by shining little pinheads of hope and light. She misses it. Misses the feel of weightlessness, the joy that it is to close her eyes and pretend she doesn't exist. It's cleaner than politics, better than an orgasm, sweeter than the pills and poppers.

But that doesn't matter now. She's not going to think about space. She's thinking about the ceiling. The pink fucking ceiling that she wants to paint black because maybe it might make her feel better, more herself, more alive and at home. So that maybe when she closes her eyes each night, she can recapture some part of that feeling. That maybe she doesn't exist, just like God.

She won't, though.

She picked pink for a very specific reason. And she can lie to herself all she wants, because in the end, she _knows_. Knows the truth, chooses to ignore it, but hey, it's there anyway.

Relena _hates_ pink. It reminds her of cherry blossoms and picture perfect childhoods, and Barbies with dresses just like the one that's in tatters on her floor. All the things she shouldn't have, can't be, and never was. And by surrounding herself with these things, the things she hates and loathes, the things that make her want to cry blood, she's hurting herself in a way that no one else can understand, so that no one can try to put a stop to it.

She hates the ceiling. The blinding pink that hurts her eyes to look at. Feels something trickle down the side of her face, touches it, tastes it, tongue darting out to lick at the salty brine.

The ceiling's at fault of course. It's hurts to look at it.

/ Today. /

Dozes on and off for an hour or two. Can't sleep because she feels dirty, so she decides to take a shower. Moves back to the bathroom, kicking the dress into a corner. Someone will come by in the morning and throw it away.

Turns on the water, the hot tap all the way up. Feels the cleansing steam seep into her skin, purging and purifying every pore.

The water's too hot, probably. It's making her skin red and raw, sore and ripe as a tomato. That's all right though, because she can't feel it. Right?

Finds herself standing in front of the mirror. Doesn't know how she got there. That's all right, too. It's probably from the pills. Blackouts are something she gets occasionally. Craves them, too.

/ Pass the crystal, spread the tarot
Disillusion comfort lies,

The safest way, the straight and narrow
No confusion, no surprise /

Draws a heart with her finger on the foggy mirror. Writes "Heero" in the middle.

Snatches her hand back and begins to bite her fingernails, thought it's un-ladylike and improper and childish, and she does it anyway, because the advisors aren't here in the bathroom and because she feels like it. God's allowed to have childish urges and fancies. God's allowed to follow those urges when no one's watching.

He could have been the one to save her. He was _supposed_ to kill her. That's why she'd picked him, marked him from the start, done her damnedest to piss him off so that he'd take his gun - she pauses and thinks, Fuck the metaphorical - and fire. Right through the heart.

Relena tastes something funny in her mouth, dark and rich. Metallic. Chalks it up to the pills.

He was supposed to kill her. Didn't he know that? Couldn't he see? That she didn't want this life, didn't want the advisors and the committees, and FUCK the world for all she cares. They tore themselves apart; why the FUCK did SHE have to put them back together again?

All the King's horses and all the King's men.

The Queen's been fucked over and over again.

Fucked. Literally and metaphorically and figuratively and whatever other way anyone _could_ fuck her. Tied up, tied down, up against a wall. Blindfolded and gagged and begging for it through lashes spiked with tears. Fucked because she was there and she could be used and made to speak like a puppet, a pink Barbie in a pretty dress, and she could smile and bat those sole same lashes and the leaders of the world would come to heel. Right?

And if they didn't listen to her in the meeting room, she could change their minds in their beds, because no one wants to abuse a wife, to handcuff her and beat her with a whip, but to have a queen, _the_ Queen, under them and to make her bleed and cry and plead was such a fucking _power_ trip, writhing and begging for it like a fucking _slut_, and all they had to do was say they'd follow her, they could tear into her, _hurt_ her, _FUCK_ her and that was that.

Right. Fucking politics.

She lashes out, her fingers wet with saliva and something else, and slashes across the mirror's cloudy surface, clawed fingers slicing right through the heart.

Looks at it, surprised. Stares at the crimson streaks that mutilate Heero's name and her heart. Looks at her fingers where she's bitten off the nail and right through the skin, and it makes her smile.

Tomorrow she's due for a pedicure anyway.

/ Alice in her party dressed to kill she
Thanks you, turns away, she
Needs you like she needs her pills to
Tell her that the world's okay, /

What time is it now? The clock says four, four in the morning. Four in the morning, and the room feels stuffy, like she's back in the banquet hall, surrounded by vipers who _ooze_ steam because the current fashion involves seven layers of frills and two undercoats. She needs to get outside. She needs to see the stars.

Wraps pink Band-Aids with little pictures of Barbie on them around the damaged digits and wonder's if they'll get infected. Hopes for it, a little bit.

Four in the morning. The household's asleep, so she slips into her lady-like nightgown, the nice, fluffy pink one with the frilly neckline, snags a bottle of Jack Daniels from her mini-fridge, makes sure her pills are safely tucked into one of the pockets, and pulls out a pack of smokes from the carton stowed under her pillow.

Now she's ready and she slips through the halls like a wraith, foot falls silent because bare feet don't make enough noise to attract attention, and because she knows which bits of the floor creak and avoids them.

Outside. Outside, underneath the stars in the sky and the black, endlessness of space. Outside where the wind whips the bottom of the nightgown around her feet, where the chill seeps into her very bones and makes her numb. Outside where she feels safe and free and even alive.

Or maybe that's just the pills.

Weaves in and out of the garden expanse, the maze that surrounds her castle. The Queen's garden. Her escape from everything and everyone. Her one-way ticket to the starry sky.

Lights up a cigarette, menthol, removes the cap from her bottle, and nurses both. Finds a nice, cozy little bench and sits down. Stares up, up, up because it's all she wants and everything she can't have. Pops a tranq absentmindedly.

There's a tiny, harmless noise behind her. The subtle snap of a twig, and any animal could be the perpetrator, but somehow she knows it's not just any animal. It's the worst kind of animal. You know, the kind that can talk and smile, all teeth, and make wars and weapons, terrible, terrible weapons to fight those wars. It's a human kind of animal, but not a humane kind of animal. It's everything she is and nothing she wants to be.

She turns around and, hey, wow, guess who it is.

/ To promise her a definition
Tell her where the rain will fall
Tell her where the sun shines bright and
Tell her she can have it all /

Duo Maxwell. Mouth like a sin. He probably knows more swears than she does, though perhaps not as many as some might guess. After nearly seven years of bedding bastards and vipers she could say her sailor's vocabulary was not quite as shabby as it once had been.

Politicians like to talk dirty.

And there's that braid and those violet eyes and maybe she thinks it might be fun to tempt _him_ into her bed, fuck him until he saw stars and she might not mind the ceiling so much. Right.

Duo's watching her now. With that speculative, analytical look in his eyes that Gundam Pilots and other professionals use when they're trying to put a puzzle together and make it all work. When they're planning missions and playing at being heroes. When they're killing people and trying to remember _why_.

He's got _that_ look in his eyes. Like he might do something unexpected. Like he might, and she crosses her fingers here and prays to Shinigami, kill _her_. Because maybe she's pissed him off more than Heero, and who knows, maybe, maybe, please God, please Duo, with whipped cream and a cherry on top -

/ Today /

- and for one giddy moment, Relena thinks he might actually do it. He might pull out the .45 he's got tucked away somewhere and pull the trigger. He might save her.

But the moment passes and she realizes that she's got a bottle of JD's finest in one hand and a silver box of tranqs and pills in the other, and the cigarette is still dangling from her lips and she's vaguely aware that every time she breathes in, the smoke singes her nose.

And Duo's just _looking_ at her, not with confusion or pity or any of the other dime-a-dozen reactions she's always speculated she might get if anybody saw her like this, but with genuine, honest to God, "I've-been-there-too" understanding. The kind of expression she sees in the mirror every once in a while. The one that makes her cry.

"Beautiful night out."

She smiles and nods, the way she was taught to do when she's confronted with someone who's a mystery. Potential ally, potential enemy, wildcard, especially because she doesn't know what he wants.

"Mind if I join you for a bit?"

Shrug, nod to indicate the seat beside her isn't taken, and oh-so-gracefully he accepts, sits, looks up at the sky while she stares holes into his head. Maybe three or four minutes pass in silence, but she still waits. Politics.

She wonders who taught Duo Maxwell how to play.

/ Today /

And then she wonders if it might be easier if she just kept popping a couple of pills every few two minutes and taking a couple more swigs of Jack and chaining her smokes until the cancer eats right through her chest so that everyone can see it. It's tempting.

Duo suddenly reaches over and fingers the silky sleeve of her dress. He looks at her and smiles and for once she doesn't see the teeth. "Don't you just _hate_ pink?" he says.

And just like that, she has to smile back. Has to hand him her JD and offer him a couple of pills. Has to suppress a giggle when he pulls out a bottle of his own and winks conspiritaly.

So they sit in the garden, side by side, sharing the liquor and popping their pills and taking lazy drags off a menthol as they look up at the sky, dark and abysmal, tempting and inviting as only space can be. Sharing a sense of loneliness and longing for that black sky, of wanting to lose themselves in the stars.

And maybe they'll stop before they reach the point of no return. Or maybe they won't.

/ Alice /

But either way, Relena realizes that for once it doesn't matter. If they survive tonight, there are a thousand other options. She thinks she might like to play with her knives again, thinks Duo might be able to show her a few new tricks, maybe how to minimize the blood flow without loosing any of the pain, because those red stains are a bitch to get out.

She's happy, for the moment. They can hurt together. They can share each other's pain. They can suffer and they can watch each other suffer, and there's nothing she want more in the world right now than to see her sorrow reflected in his violet eyes.

Because, hey, you know what they always say.

/ Don't give it away /

Misery loves company.

o

fin

o

"Alice," belongs to the Sisters of Mercy. Please don't sue me - Eldritch is god and could kick my sorry struggling-writer butt around in the courts, no sweat. The version used in this fic was a cover done by The Shroud, basically identical to the original with the exception of two or three word differences.