Disclaimer: See previous chapters.

Title: "The World Still Looks Pretty Unredeemed to Me"

Tunes: FIRST SCENE: same as last chapter, but with the major addition of "The Things That I Used to Do" by Guitar Slim.

SECOND SCENE: Alexisonfire "Adelleda", City and Colour "Sam Malone" "When She", and Scarling. "Can't (Halloween Valentine)"

People: Doc Evil. He pretty much held my hand for the entire scene at the end. Without him I wouldn't get shit done. Also, Dr. Sex Walrus. She recently updated the fuckin' awesome Blood Red Summer which you people seriously need to check out.

Author's Note: Yeah, I know I suck. It's been a month. But, several things have kept me from really sticking to my update-schedule. The major one would be the GIGANTIC block I've been going through. In the past, like, month and a half the most I've really been able to write has been a super angsty South of Nowhere oneshot (plug, plug, plug). As far as the Icarus Complex goes I've only been able to get a few paragraphs for the next chapter out, so... I'll work past it, I guess. The second thing would be personal reasons - some recently experienced angst and generally being busy as hell. Then there's the third. Probably my favorite reason. You see, recently, I've been spending a great deal of my energy on... social activities.

I'll cut the shit.

It's been about two months since I got laid and five since I've dated anyone. I've found a really cute chick to motivate me to try and change these simple facts. And as much as I love you guys, and love writing for you - I love the girlies more (fellas, too. But "boylies" sounds pretty gross...). So, time previously devoted to writing has been spent mackin' on fly honeys. No, I don't really talk like that. But I just really, really wanted an excuse to use the term "mackin' on fly honeys."

Next update probably won't be out anytime soon (probably), so I hope this will hold you guys for a while.

"Y'know… maybe you should take it easy, Al."

She lifted her head from her arms and grinned wryly, "If I wanted to 'take it easy', Seany, I wouldn't have demanded you leave the entire bottle."

He tried to smile but it was hard. Sometimes, he hated his job.

Alex sighed, and pinched the bridge of her nose. "D'you think I can crash here, tonight?"

Sean shrugged and surveyed the bar; most of the people had gone home. It was late. The Elvis clock on the wall that swiveled its hips to the second hand read 3:10. Last call had been fifteen minutes ago. There were only five patrons remaining, not including Alex. The old man, Thomas, who came in every night promptly at 8:05 and drank steadily with his head in his hands until Sean announced he was closing up; a group of three people in their early twenties, two boys and one girl, taking up a booth in the corner talking loudly and laughing on occasion; and Gina, the forty-something chick who always grabbed his ass and started every night with a gin and tonic.

Sean cleared his throat, "Okay, guys. You're done. Time to get outta here."

Thomas looked up and started shuffling about, slowly. Gina frowned pensively, "C'mon, baby, the night is still young!"

Sean had learned he was better off acting amused rather than frightened by the petnames she called him. "Not for me, Gin. You don't have to go home but you can't stay here. C'mon, let's get it movin'!"

Within five minutes everyone had left fairly peaceably, although Gina had 'accidentally' squeezed his crotch on her way out. He began securing all his locks and going through the ritual known as Lockup. Alex was still sipping steadily at her liquor and looking miserable. Just as he was turning to go clean up the bar he heard the familiar scrape of barstools on linoleum flooring. Alex shuffled to the jukebox.

It was several moments before the music began to play. Alex's inebriated state made the simple task of inserting money and picking a song rather difficult but just as Sean finished wiping down the counter music filled the empty room. Alex dropped back onto her stool and took a long, forlorn pull from the bottle. She sighed, "Guitar Slim," she mumbled, "He… he was a fucking genius, man."

Sean listened to the tune, "Kind of a sad number, Alex."

He wasn't stupid, he'd heard enough of Jay's tirade to know what was fucking Alex up so much. But, it wasn't the kind of thing he could be blunt about. Not with Alex. Jay might've gotten away with tactlessness…

"Yeah," she mumbled around the bottle.

"'Bout a girl?"

She scowled, "Isn't it always?"

"What's it called?"

"'The Things That I Used To Do'," she quoted. Shaking her head she took another long swallow, "Man, Guitar Slim… this guy, this guy he had the right idea, ya know?"

Sean nodded seriously.

"It's like… this chick, she treat him like shit, y'know? A-and he won't take it no more. See, she had another guy. And he's like 'no way, I'm not cool with that' and he just , bam! y'know? He just leaves. He leaves her. And that's… that's pretty fucking," she swallows, "that's pretty fucking…"


She looked up sharply. Her gaze is so intense that he wants to look away but Sean knows that this moment is important because it's the climax of… something. He's still trying to figure that part out.

"Yeah," she exhales heavily. "Yeah, it's pretty fucking hard."

She flicked a peanut off the bar and they both watched it skitter across the floor. Sean sat next to her gingerly, he reached across and pulled the bottle from her surprisingly limp grasp. "Alex," he touched a hand to her shoulder, "what's going on?"

She locked her gaze on the jukebox.


When she looked up he saw something in her eyes that made her seem as young as she was. Then she blinked and they were cloudy again. "Nothin', Sean."

She swallowed thickly and grabbed the bottle back from him, "Now gimme back my booze."

Sean rubbed his eyes and picked up his rag.

There was nothing he could do.


The room was the perfect picture of anonymity. Nondescript everything. Dull, sand colored walls, dusty blue comforter. It was kept sparsely decorated. One unremarkable landscape painting over a plastic potted plant. A single queen sized bed, two nightstands, and a small TV. Everything was nailed down. The room meant business.

Jay locked the door behind him and drew the curtains shut. He turned back and saw Ellie standing awkwardly by the entrance to the small adjoining bathroom. He smirked and traced the soft curves of her body with his eyes. She smiled back nervously and stepped forward. He grabbed her shoulders and pressed his lips to hers. She tasted like strawberry lip gloss and beer.

When he pulled away they were both slightly breathless. Jay moved toward the nightstand and opened his wallet, withdrawing a stack of cash and placing it by the alarm clock. Ellie perched on the bed and began to remove her jacket.

Jay turned and watched her as she folded the garment and set it casually on the floor by the foot of the bed. He dropped down in front of her, on his knees. His heart hammered wildly in his chest. He brushed his fingers along her cheek and ran them lightly down her body until they rested on the cool metal of her belt. She pressed her lips into his, tentatively and felt him slide his tongue along hers. She deepened the kiss, digging her fingers into his jacket as he removed her belt and slid his hands up her shirt. She drew in a quick breath when she felt them pass along a small set of scars on her stomach.

His fingers faltered, briefly before continuing upward. He pressed a wet kiss into her neck, moving downwards and sucking softly on her collar bone, mumbling things she couldn't hear against her skin. She exhaled shakily and combed her fingers through his hair.

Jay bit the underside of her jaw gently and slowly pulled Ellie's shirt over her head. The second he opened his eyes he wished he hadn't.

"What the fuck, Ellie?" his voice was shaky and breathless and he hated the fact that it sounded so goddamn pathetic.

She looked like she wanted to disappear. Jay continued to gape openly at the small, methodically placed scars. Some were red and raw looking. Some were little more than raised, white lines. His mouth was dry, his stomach had leapt into his throat and his heart had sunk somewhere next to his kidneys. Jesus, they were everywhere. Up and down her arms, across her torso, he saw some peaking up from the waistband of her pants.

"Jesus, Ellie!" He screamed, shooting up and tugging his hair as he paced. "I mean, what the fuck? What the fuck is this?"

She opened her mouth to speak but all the words died in her throat.

"Did…" he went pale. His hands clenching so tightly at his sides that his knuckles turned white and his nails pressed angry red half-moons into his palms. His head was swimming. "Did Jesse do this to you?"

Ellie's head shot up, "What?"

"I said," his voice was low, and cold, and deadly, "did Jesse do this to you, Ellie?"

Her heart had stopped beating. It was lodged somewhere in her windpipe. She swallowed it back painfully and spoke, softly. "No."

"Ellie… if he did you can tell me. I swear, I-"

"Jesse didn't do this, Jay."

His brows furrowed, "Then how the hell did-"

He stopped short. Her head bowed and she stared at her lap.

Jay felt cold.

No. No way in Hell.

"Ellie…" he felt bile rising in his throat. "Ellie tell me how these got here."

She was silent.


Her shoulders began to quake. He dropped down in front of her again and took her chin between his fingers. When she couldn't look him in the eyes he knew.

He was back on his feet again. "What the Hell are you doing to yourself? Jesus fuck, Ellie!" He didn't know what to do with his hands. He ripped the painting from the wall and threw it into the corner where it collided with the television and clattered loudly to the floor. He saw Ellie flinch. "Fuck!"

He wanted to scream. He wanted to do something. He wanted to…

He couldn't look at her anymore. It hurt too much.

"Just… why, El? Just tell me…" his voice cracked. God, this was such bullshit. He hated it when he sounded like a fucking pansy. Alex didn't need a fucking pansy. Ellie didn't need a fucking pansy.

"Why the fuck are you… are you doing this? Hurting yourself? Fuck! How can you fucking do this to yourself? Jesus! I mean… I mean… Jesus…"

She was shaking too much. Her head was down, but he heard her sniff and saw the white-knuckle grip she had on the bed sheets and knew instantly that she was crying.

"Fuck…" it was whispered and fervent. All the anger left his body. He just felt tired and confused and…

He dropped in front of her once more. Wondering how many fucking times that made this night. He took her hands and attempted desperately to steady his breathing. His own eyes burned and he had to clench his jaw tightly to keep from breaking down. He suddenly felt way too sober.

He couldn't take his eyes off the scars. "Just… just tell me why, Ellie."

She bit her lip and squeezed his hands.

"Please, Ellie… please, I just… I just-"

"It's hard, Jay," the tears in her voice made his insides quiver.

"I know," he whispered. He hauled himself onto the bed and drew her close to him. He kissed the top of her head. "I know."

She turned in his arms and tentatively brushed her lips along his jaw. He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply.

"I'm sorry, Jay."

He'd barely heard it. But there it was. On the table for him to take or leave. He shook his head, breathing out quietly. He wrapped his arms tighter around her and gently reversed their positions, lowering her onto the bed.

"I know."

She wrapped her arms around his neck as he buried his face in her shoulder again. Swallowing deeply he removed her right arm from his neck and pressed a hesitant kiss on the scar closest to her elbow. She shuddered.

He released her arm gently and closed his eyes as he felt her remove his belt and unzip his jeans. Jay pressed his face back into her shoulder, breathing heavily.

He reached out and turned off the light.

The darkness was a comfort to both of them.

End Notes: Review; it's like crack for my muse.