AU: Sorry for the long wait. I lose motivation pretty quickly :P The title of this chapter is any illusion to hope (you would have to have seen one of my favorite movies, Peter Pan—2003—to understand. I love that scene so much).
VII. I Do Believe In Fairies
"All day and night,
My desire for you
Unwinds like a poisonous snake."
—"Love," Samar Sen
Vanessa chewed on her bottom lip, smearing her cherry red lipstick. This Catholic School Girl shit bugged her, and being in this dreary classroom, surrounded by studious, dull boys and girls. Her jumper dress, a dull grey spun of wool and cotton, rode up, and only her black stockings protected against exposure of creamy flesh. The sleeves of her black undershirt were rolled up to her elbows. The penniless school seemed to seldom ventilate air and chill, for the compacted room was airless and compressing.
Like the good little student she was, she plucked her pink Blackberry Pearl from her Louis Vuitton handbag, and dialed her fingers across the little letters, slender fingers working rapidly. The girl beside Vanessa scoffed at this little rule breaking moment.
How r u in freedom? b/c its HELL here. Text me back, ASAP!
She stuffed it back into the handbag. Just then, the bell rang, awakening the minds of all. As the students scurried out of the classroom, Vanessa at the end, Mother Agnes said smoothly, "Next time, Ms. Cleveland, I'll take it away." Her aging eyes never met the bemused blonde's.
Vanessa's insides curled nauseatingly. Her throat constricted as she quickly nodded, bitterly mumbled, "Sorry," and headed out, some students who heard simpering under their breaths. They were a group of girls known as the "Aqua's"; named after the band that created the song "Barbie Girl". These girls were each blonde-haired, with typical bright blue eyes, flat ironed blonde hair, a fashionable uniform just like Vanessa's—although their clothes were splashed with some pinks, blues, and lime greens—, and they ruled the school.
She remembered when it was she, Vanessa Cleveland, who strutted through hallways with an air of brilliance. But Saint Margaret's High School was dominated by the Aqua's: Yvonne Flores, Kelly Hamilton, and Ashley Cooper. Yvonne was renowned for her tall stature, voluptuous figure, and flawless skin, while the other two were merely clones—less beautiful, less celebrated, less popular, but still high on the "High School Food Chain".
And as Vanessa wandered down the halls, she realized how Yvonne made her skin crawl—in fact, all three made her shiver. The air surrounding all three girls was nothing more than a chill—a frost of fear and intimidation that went beyond normal leadership (meaning, sometimes you feared the more popular girls and guys, but not on this level). Yvonne, with her menacing smirk and sharp azure eyes, always possessed that aura, far more than Kelly and Ashley, stupid clones of this evil, vile, poison-tongued woman.
"Having fun, Ms. Cleveland?"
Vanessa halted, eyes narrowed, as the three notorious girls stopped to stand before her, each in a pompous pose and wearing smug smiles. Yvonne arms were crossed, come hither lips puckered into a small, mischief pout.
"Not very much," she responded levelly.
Kelly cocked her head. "Why are you here anyway? Did the goody-girl do something bad?"
"It was your mother," Yvonne stated, eyes unblinking. Vanessa found her mouth drying, color draining from her face.
"How do you know?"
Yvonne arched an eyebrow. "I'm a mind-reader."
Vanessa might have sputtered a laugh, but the severely serious expression on the woman's face caught the laugh in her throat. Licking her lips, Vanessa took a step backward, distress lacing through her blood. Several onlookers edged closer, sensing the unusual tension netted into the air; wanting desperately to comprehend why the Aqua's were confronting the new girl.
"W-Well… and I can go invisible!" she snapped without thinking, wishing to be mocking.
Yvonne shared a brief knowing glance with the two behind her. Vanessa, chewing on her bottom lip, whipped around and stormed the other way, the onlookers dispersing with dissatisfied frowns. Yvonne's laughter pierced the hallway, and just as Vanessa turned the corner, she looked back, caught in the eyes of the blonde whose smirk remained intact and just as dangerous.
The heavy aroma of weed peppered the air. Catty, having adapted to the stench, wandered into the backroom of the Darma Bookstore, locking the door behind her. Thomas, slumped in a chair, leered at Kendra as she hovered over a boiling pot of Raman noodles. Disgusted, Catty ignored his presence—and the massive bong on the table—and quickly hugged her mother.
"Catty!" The older woman beamed with delight. "Want some noodles?"
Although her stomach quenched at the hunger bubbling up, she shook her head, not wanting to see as her mother was forced to cook even more. "Not a lot of costumers today," she observed casually, leaning against the counter.
Thomas snorted. "Ha! There's never anyone in this piece of shit store."
"That's not true," Catty argued with an angered grimace.
"A bookstore is crappy enough, but a bookstore with books about fucking aliens and magic?" He shook his head, teeth clenched in revulsion. Kendra continued stirring the stiff noodles, yet her lips curved down, and her eyes tightened.
"People do read…"
Thomas glared at her. "People with nothing important to do."
"Like getting high off a huge ass bong is important?!"
Thomas, after breathing heavily, simply closed his eyes and slouched even more. Kendra turned slightly, eyeing Catty disapprovingly, before saying evenly, "Catty, go behind the counter and wait for some costumers. The bell hasn't rung in the past hours but can you?"
Her heart melted. Kendra always chose Thomas. Perhaps it was fear, but the rejection always soured Catty's mood and stabbed at her confidence. Flipping back her brown tresses, Catty snapped a severe, "Fine," before storming out of the backroom. Thomas snickered behind her. In the bookstore with the few shelves and incense masking the smell of weed, it was completely vacant. Outside in the beautiful sunshiny day, people strolled by with bright grins and a preppy stride.
She hovered behind the counter for what seemed like hours. Only several curious teenagers and some crazed old lady wandered inside, but the rest of the smoldering hot day was nothing. She would have rather gone to school than stand behind a counter, tapping the surface and shifting on her feet. But just as the sky shimmered with brilliant oranges and purples and yellows did she decide to leave. Kendra and Thomas had probably passed out in the backroom.
Before she could actually muster a sigh, someone new briskly entered the store—someone certainly unexpected.
"Catty?" Morgan Page inquired, the grip on her purse tightening as her lips curved into a smile. Her blonde tendrils were glittering and pinned back by a row of butterfly clips; grayish-white jeans pressed against her perfect legs, and a slinky black halter glistened with little sequins. Catty gaped, unable to comprehend how someone could be so flawless… and then she frowned, wondering where such a thought occurred.
Morgan stood in front of the counter, still grinning. "I knew your mother owned this place, but you work for her?"
Catty nodded warily. A slight faltering edge had been detected in the blonde's voice. She was nervous, perhaps; cautious of being seen by a fellow student in this "lowly, pathetic, washed-up garbage dump of a bookstore," as she'd heard someone kindly remark?
"Why are you here? Do you need anything special?"
Morgan blushed. "Um, well… It's kind of weird, but do you… do you have any books on the moon?"
"Uh, yeah over—"
"Probably the sign labeled ASTROLOGY or PLANETS?" Morgan teasingly said, slapping a hand to her forehead before strutting off toward those sections. As she skimmed through, Catty waited, an eyebrow arched. Morgan was an odd person, a statement that meant something when thought by Catty, of all people on this planet. And this oddness, perhaps, is what made Catty's skin crawl with unease.
Morgan flounced back, head cocked sweetly. "I think I'm done here. I would buy something, but my cash card's been limited, you know?" With a sugary smile, she waved once before strutting out of the store, that same air of brilliance emanating from her—the same instinct of fear and alertness raging inside Catty till Morgan was out of sight.
"What is wrong with me?" she questioned aloud, bemused.
"You're gay. That's number one," Thomas stated while trudging by, face grim.
Catty rolled her eyes.
Blue orbs trained on the woman sensually swaying her hips. His eyelids were barely open. The woman—Yvonne—, an enthralling creature, smirked enticingly at him. He merely craned his neck as to stare off, boredom lacing through his blood. Yvonne, probably pouting at the moment, never quit; never terminated her conquest—the game in which she chased after him, wishing desperately to share a bed with him.
Cassandra, one of his Initiates, hissed, face jade with pure envy. "What a slut."
Her infatuation with him never dimmed, yet she found someone to help ease away the frustrating, passionate lust that warmed her blood upon spotting him. She'd chosen to spend her nights, alone, with Tymmie—another Initiate, just the same as Karyl—in one of the many bedrooms of the elaborately-fashioned and expensive loft in Hollywood. The sheets of his queen-sized bed were always ruffled in the morning. Tymmie—just the same as any ambitious Follower—was a younger Stanton, unaware of the torture that is an eternally existence.
"Stanton," Cassandra whined, tugging at his arm. "Do you want to dance?"
He, Stanton, arched an eyebrow at her, to which she frowned and turned to Tymmie. He, too, taunted her; baiting her as he gawked at some dark-haired Asian girl on the dance floor. While Cassandra and Tymmie drowned themselves in a glaring contest, Stanton sauntered off to the bar, breathing evenly, all the while attempting to ignore the bustle of noise.
"Don't you just love—?"
"No," he interrupted, disregarding the girl's attempt at flirting.
She huffed. "Fine."
He slumped down on a stool, shoulders slouched. His chest, again, seemed more hollow than usual. Most—common humans, that is—would argue how depression was a terrible, awful thing, and that the emptiness was not okay. Then again, most humans haven't survived for more than three-hundred years, facing an eternity of atrocious acts, lonely escapades, and of course… boredom.
In the beginning, after entering the Cold Fire, he'd been renowned—from his various victims to his lines and lines of women. He would stride into a party with a beautiful woman or two, perhaps strolling out with a new victim. But decades past, and after awhile, the whole charade of being him simply dispersed… and he continued existence without real meaning. An occasional woman, sometimes a victim passed by, but became forgotten in his mind.
"Look who's here," Karyl commented as he perched down on a stool.
Stanton followed his gaze. In the distance, one of the Daughters—a girl named Serena, judging by the thoughts he'd encountered days ago when he'd seen her—, stood off to the side of the dance floor. Her shoulders were hunched, hands in her pockets, and she seemed… drained. Even from afar he could decipher the exhausted expression on her face.
"Fresh meat," Karyl sneered, anticipation in his voice. "What a moron."
"She doesn't know what is yet or who we are," Stanton countered smoothly, "and I think she wants trouble."
"I think a Follower's got her already," Karyl agreed, his expression pressed into predatory hunger. "That makes it all the more easy for us to take her down. Do you think Zahi and his little workers got to her? I bet it was—"
"Even if it was Zahi or her or any of his others talented followers, we won't allow them to claim this Daughter. They managed to plant a fraction of the Atrox into her mind, but we'll finish the rest. I can't allow Zahi to win a place of power above me." Resolute, Stanton eased off the stool and lithely sauntered toward the Goddess, fluidly sweeping into her mind. An expanse of blank space consumed a portion of her soul, her inner voice, for one of Zahi's subordinates managed to have entangle her thoughts with those of the Atrox.
Her emerald irises discovered him, and she pressed against the wall, observing him the entire way, intrigued, till finally, he stood before her, his bold mannerisms not at all baffling her—in truth, her unblinking, level gaze bewildered him.
"You're one of them," she automatically commented coolly. "I'm not in the mood to have the emotions ripped from me." Shifting around, she stared off, scanning the crowd. Damn. She was still chained to Zahi.
"I suppose you're not as naïve as I thought."
"I suppose you're not as intelligent as you though, Mr. Hotshot." Her voice—the tone in which she spoke, so melodic and smooth—was not scathing or clipping; it was not meant to be insulting or mocking, but a statement of fact… opinion. That same tranquility veiled her orbs, and a slighted smile crept on her face, one he mirrored, for finding such a fascinating creature was rare in this dreary, predictable world.
She noticed the smile, and cocked an eyebrow. "You're smiling. Of all the times I've seen you, you've had that same frown."
"I'm immortal," he stated simply.
She shrugged. "That sucks."
"Yes… yes it does."
"I mean, an eternity of nothing but… doing the same thing over and over and over—"
"—yes, I understand—"
"—I mean you're probably very miserable. You hate life, I can guess."
"I find use for it sometimes, such as now."
Perplexity settled on her brow. "I'm not useful at the moment—just broken. I'm looking for this guy, Zahi, who can probably fix it… hopefully."
"He's the one who caused it," Stanton announced mockingly, and upon seeing the curiosity on her face—she believed him!—, he added, "Zahi is just the same as me, an Immortal looking to destroy people like you."
"Am I some being related to the Moon?"
He laced his fingers through his tresses, uncomprehending as to her unconcerned nature. Had she not heard him say destroy? Did his statement merely bounce off her mind? Pondering this, he explained, edging closer to her, "You're a Daughter of the Moon, a Goddess, and I'm one of the Followers of the evil force, the Atrox, sent to destroy you and your fellow Goddesses."
"Hmm…" She inched away, and slowly, began to stride off, shoulders slumped down. He caught her elbow, halting her movement, and she slowly turned around, gazing at him with nothing but captivation. "Wait… You're starting your whole destroy-me-thing right now? I thought you were just giving me a warning." He felt the sensation of her mind melding into his, unaware of his telepathy, and he forcefully pushed her out, though a lingering, pleasant ache extended in his body. Since when did telepathic connection feel so… euphoric?
"I thought I was unique," she mumbled, rubbing her forehead.
His grasp on her arm tightened, an odd current of electricity striking his skin. "This is becoming tiresome," he stated darkly, slipping into her mind. Her eyes widened, and he discovered flashes of memories of the Follower who'd assaulted her once before—the pain associated with this attack. He frowned at how her complexion paled against the lights streaming across her face. The spark in his grip burned his veins.
"You are unique, for this is generation." His hold loosened, and she yanked her arm back, eyeing him reproachfully. "I haven't found such an… odd telepathic Daughter in centuries."
"So… how I can stop these nightmares?"
"Why should I help you?" His eyebrows rose.
"You like me," she responded casually.
His eyes flattened. What was her problem? "I like you…? Are you out of your mind?"
"At the moment."
"That's it." Stanton clasped her arms again, and glared into her orbs, searching through her thoughts, steadily willing her powers to weaken. The presence of the Atrox became profound once more; she clenched her eyes shut, and his hands grasped the back of her neck, forcing her closer. Slowly, her eyelids lifted, and he blanched, his telepathic abilities waning. Her irises were soft, a tender green—not a hazy cloud, as expected. A deep innocence, threaded with a perpetual sorrow glittered inside her eyes, and he paused to stare, so unbecoming, even for a Daughter.
He allowed that other presence within him to command his nerves; that distinctly luminous and wonderful spirit that he'd never once felt (at least in centuries). This foreign zealous persona grasped hold of him; he recalled a period of time when he was a boastful, fervent character, searching for the entertainment of life. Such passions had diminished decades ago, but now, in the wake of this abnormal, beautiful Goddess, it reawakened, captaining his movement.
His fingers trembled as he stroked her cheeks, radiating a vibrant pink. Her skin was cold and damp. She blinked up at him, head cocked to the side. He smirked at the interest that ignited on her face, in her soul—a naturally inquisitive creature, searching for truth. He could tell her motto would be "Everything happens for a reason," and he would know, through this brief encounter, that she was out looking for that reason.
She needed to feel purposeful, useful to the world; she wanted to comprehend why her existence contributed to life, not just her own, but everyone's revolving around her. And he found, with startling delight, that he figured she served a purpose to him.
Life wasn't as boring at the moment.
"The reason you're here is to save the world," he offered to her, and she smiled kindly, although as he smoothed back the rogue tresses cloaking her sight, he couldn't help it. He was just as appalling as Romeo, just as pitiable in the character's "love" for Juliet. But Stanton understood—he never once could figure out the abrupt love between Romeo and Juliet—the love between the two… well, he didn't, but he felt it.
Yes, he felt it enough to capture her mouth in a tender kiss, so entrancing that it burned his soul to the core. Serena, she was enchanted, frozen right there, her arms limp at her side; eyelids sealed shut. Yet, as a young girl, she recuperated from this state of paralysis, and leaned against him, her palms moving up his chest; the world seemed to come to a standstill, the dancers a blur. Storming emotions tumbled into his body and that icy void no longer corrupted him. He parted her lips with his tongue; he felt her anxiety, and she leaned back slightly, bewildered by the turbulent sensations erupting inside of her.
She was scared, though enjoying their intimacy. Her hands formed a barrier between them, and she pushed away from him, that fright barely hidden behind layers of desire and yearning—pining for more.
"I'm sorry," she whispered before whipping around and leaving the club. He stared after her, disgusted by the longing boiling in his blood. His heart gave an unsteady rhythm, thudding against the inside of his chest.
What the hell just happened to him?
AU: Serena and Stanton pulled a Romeo and Juliet! It's funny. I already see flaws in their relationship—a lot. I may like the couple, but in this story, I'm not going to be nice to any character. It's my thing. ;) Spoiler: Something tragic about to occur next chapter. Oh, Catty…