Warnings: Major bad language; deals with death. MAJOR SPOILERS FOR BOTH LOOKING FOR ALASKA AND ORDER OF THE PHOENIX.
Disclaimers: I in no way, shape, or form own anything from Looking for Alaska [all John Green's] or Harry Potter [JKR and WB still have their hands on that one], nor do I intend to make any money from this fic.
Originally Posted: December Genre Stretch on Stringing Words [.com]: Fanfic Crossover / Unlikely Pairing.
The Other Side
I slammed the door, hoping it would pull Pudge and the Colonel out of their drunken sleep. When I saw them both jerk awake, I knew I had succeeded.
"I have to get out of here," I said. Tears were streaming down my face and audible crying-noises were escaping at regular intervals. Normally, I would have cared, but tonight I barely even noticed.
"What's wrong?" Pudge asked. Always the one to solve the fucking problem, that Pudge. Too nice for his own good. Too fucking righteous to be wasting his time and energy on the likes of me.
"I forgot! God, how many times can I fuck up?" I said. I knew the questions were coming; I could see them formulating on Pudge's face. Not the questions themselves, but the face he was making told me that the questions were being strung together in his alcohol-slowed mind. "I JUST HAVE TO GO. HELP ME GET OUT OF HERE!"
"Where do you need to go?" Pudge asked. It had to be Pudge. The Colonel wouldn't care to know and he never had cared the way Pudge did. About me or about anyone else. The kindness and the fact that he cared so damn much was evident in his voice and it was painful for me to hear it. I fell to the floor, my knees giving out half because of what was going through my head and half because of Pudge's concern. I shoved my head between my knees and cried harder than before.
"Just please distract the Eagle right now so I can go. Please."
"Okay," both Pudge and the Colonel answered, knowing I wasn't going to change my mind or tell them what was going on.
"Just don't turn on your lights," the Colonel said, "Just drive slow and don't turn on your lights. Are you sure you're okay?" I had never said that I was okay.
"Fuck," I said, "Just get rid of the Eagle for me," I said, crying harder yet at the Colonel's obvious lack of concern. My simple request came out louder and harsher than I had intended; I was nearly screaming at them. "God oh God, I'm so sorry," I said. I didn't know if I was apologizing to Pudge and the Colonel for yelling at them or to my mother for forgetting about her because I was off having a good time with my friends, but it felt like the right thing to do, apologizing.
"Okay," the Colonel said, "Start the car when you hear the second string," and they walked out the door. Drunk as can be and most likely going to be caught just so I could leave for some reason they didn't even understand. Though, intuitively I know they would never understand.
I cried for a few seconds before remembering I had business to take care of. I jogged out of the room and walked around behind my building: nothing. I ran over behind another set of buildings: still nothing. Finally, as a last ditch effort, I ran full speed towards the soccer field. I knew I would find them here; I just knew it. When I rounded the corner of the building and the field came into clear view, however, my hope was shattered. Nothing. Nothing but God damned snow and patches of dried, dead, brown grass.
"Fucking hell!" I yelled. I walked through the field nearby the buildings, hoping to find something when looking closer than I would with a wide, sweeping glance. Still nothing.
"Alaska?" Takumi asked from behind me. I tossed a wave over my shoulder "You okay?"
"Do I fucking look like I'm fucking okay?" I yelled, starting to really let my emotions take control. "My mom died eight years ago," she said.
"I know, Alaska. You've told us about it," Takumi said, not understanding.
"No, eight years to this day. Well, I guess to yesterday by now. But I forgot. How the hell could I let myself forget something so damn important?"
"Why are you out in the snow?" he asked. "Come inside and warm up a bit, calm down some and go to bed."
"No! I have to bring the flowers. It's tradition and I can't let her down again," I said. I sped up a bit as I came to the end of the building and ran back around the front, flying by Takumi, wrapped in the comforter from his bed, wearing nothing but pajamas and slippers underneath. Snow flipped up behind me as I ran through the center of the courtyard, not caring who saw me before I made it back to my own room. Pudge and the Colonel still hadn't even set off the first strand of firecrackers; I hoped they wouldn't chicken out on me now. Not tonight.
I looked around the room and grabbed the white tulips Jake had given me off the top of the dresser and ran out to the car. I threw the door open and sat inside, leaving the door open as I shifted the car into neutral and letting the car roll slowly down the hill, the only noise was the snow crunching below the tires of the Blue Citrus rolled over them. I waited until I heard the second string of firecrackers popping in the distance and then turned the key in the ignition, waiting for the engine to roar to life. It sounded louder tonight than it ever had before, but I thought that was probably just me worrying about being caught tonight of all nights. I pulled the door shut, tossed the tulips into the backseat of the car, and started to drive away from the school and towards my mother's grave—where I should have spent my day, instead of getting drunk with the Colonel and company.
"People say that you should stay off the road after the smallest bit to drink are stupid," I said aloud, rambling to myself and ignoring how hard it was to actually form the words and make them sound as they should. I swerved the car dramatically as I said that, just to prove a point: I had perfect control of my vehicle. Enough control that I could still elect to drive outside of the lines of my lane. I always had thought the lines on the road were too constricting; too binding for me. Especially on a night like tonight.
Tonight, I had managed to turn Pudge's entire fucking life upside down. And I liked it. I felt my face glowing even at the memory of the excitement.
"I'm elated," I said aloud, realizing that I had never felt so alive than I did that night. I wasn't completely upset at myself for what I had done that day. Had it been worth it? Had Pudge been worth forgetting the anniversary of my mother's death?
"Jesus, Alaska. Off fucking around with a couple of boys from boarding school and forget the only important thing in your whole God damned life," I said, slowing the car down to just faster than a crawl. I swung the car back into my own lane—albeit slowly; swung would not accurately describe what I had done—as I came up to the first of many hairpin turns I knew I would have to drive through to get away from Culver Creek and to my mother's gravesite.
I swung the front end of the car too hard, overcompensating when that second pair of headlights flooded my eyes. They were definitely coming towards me. The passenger's side lurched forward as the tire fell off the side of the road. I slammed on the breaks.
Tears filled my eyes and my vision became cloudy as the other car sped by, blaring their horn.
"I'm not sleeping, you fucker," I mumbled, knowing that was why they had laid on the horn. Everyone assumes that bad driving here at this time of night is because of someone falling asleep at the wheel. No one had the guts to drive I-65 drunk.
No one... except me. The young and fearless Alaska Young.
But other than overcompensating when I turned the car, I was fine. I had the perfect control of my car when I drove at a fucking normal speed.
"Why the hell did I think slowing way the fuck down was going to help me?" I asked, slamming my hands down on the steering wheel and blaring my horn accidentally. I jumped at the surprisingly loud noise. "Fuck," I mumbled before pulling the car back onto the road and driving again, this time staying in my own lane and maintaining a decent speed, even though it was not always consistent.
"I must be getting tired," I said. It was becoming increasingly more difficult to stay within the lines of the lane. I had long since stopped trying to concentrate on forming my words. Who cared if I had perfectly articulated words as I spoke to myself in my car, alone on the road.
"Or maybe not so alone?" I said. There were flashing lights up ahead. Either someone had been caught speeding or they had been swerving around, falling asleep at the wheel. "Sucks when the coppers pull you over when you're not driving straight or they think you're going too fast," I said, maintaining my speed.
"How do you get out of the inescapable labyrinth?" I asked as I saw the jackknifed tractor trailer that was completely blocking I-65 and the police car, flashing his lights, bright as hell, to warn people of the roadblock. I shook my head and put my foot down on the gas pedal, accelerating.
"Straight and fast," I said, driving straight. I vaguely remember the sirens coming on in the police car and seeing the little pig dashing out of my way before it went dark and silent. More dark and silent than I had ever experienced before in my life.
I landed with a thud onto a couch patterned with hound's tooth and poorly patched.
"Ugh, this couch is straight out of the seventies," I mumbled, raising my nose in disgust. The orange color of the fabric would never have been used outside of that decade.
"Looks a few decades older than that to me," a man with long, stringy black hair said from his seat on the floor. He was dealing himself a card game on the coffee table sitting in the center of the... room? I didn't know what it was. There were no visible walls, just blackness all around me. I tried not to look at it too much, for fear of getting lost in it. There was light in the center coming from... somewhere. There wasn't a visible light source, but it flickered like a candle and eventually just faded out, melting into the blackness all around her.
"Don't bother heading out there, mate. I've tried it and it's just empty. Walked for hours in one direction hoping to hit something and as soon as I turned around to come back, I was here. Like I hadn't gone anywhere," the man said, looking down at the cards. I leaned forward and grabbed one of the cards from the table. "Hey! That's mine!" he yelled, reaching out his hand and grabbing for the card—the Jack of Diamonds—that I had taken. I slipped the card between my index finger and flipped it back at him.
"They look well loved. You been in here awhile?"
"I've lost track of the time, since I've been sitting here in the dark. What year is it?" he asked.
"Early 2005," I said. I thought it strange he didn't ask the full date, just the year, but gave him only the information he asked for. He nodded slowly and laid a few more cards down.
"Ten years," he said finally.
"You've been down here by yourself for ten years with no food, nothing to drink, and just this pack of fucking playing cards? How are you still clean? Why isn't your hair longer? Why aren't you dead?" I asked.
"I think, maybe, that we are," he said. "You have a name, kid?"
"Alaska," I said. "And I'm not dead. I'm on my way to see my Mom. There was just a semi in the road and..." I trailed off. "How the hell did I get here anyway?"
"I wasn't there when it happened, you were. Name's Sirius," he said. "But you don't have to worry too much; you won't be here long."
"How do you know?" I asked.
"I've seen a lot of people come through here and you can tell when they're in for the long haul. You're just not," he said. I watched as he put the cards on the table in ways that made no sense to me, but he had a system, I could see it in his eyes. "Time stands still here. You never get hungry or older or dirtier," he said. "Just tired. Always tired."
"How'd you end up here?" I asked, reaching my hand up to itch just under my nose. A bit of blood had dried there from...
"Got hit by a killing curse trying to knock off some Death Eaters in the Department of Mysteries," he said. My mouth fell open and I leaned forward a bit.
"I don't think I'll ever see another wizard in my life... or whatever this is," he said. I still had no idea what he was going on about. "I fell through a veil. You could hear the people on the other side talking. There were three here when I came through, but one left that same day. Or at least it felt like the same day. The other two have both been long gone, but there were others. An infant who wouldn't stop screaming and was missing its leg was the shortest stay. I didn't even have time to shuffle my deck before he was gone," he said. Sirius rambled on a bit about some of the others that had been in the same place with him as I was now, wherever the hell that was.
"Where is here?" I asked. He'd been here for ten years; surely, he'd have some idea.
"Don't know, mate. Don't have the bloodiest of ideas," he said. I sighed. "One of the guys was convinced it was hell. Another, heaven. A little Catholic boy told me we were in purgatory. I told him that if this was some sort of waiting room they'd have more seats and some newspapers scattered around for us to read. He didn't talk to me much after that, but he didn't last long either. Looked a lot like you did, he did. In terms of staying."
"You got hit with a," I paused before saying it because I still didn't believe it. "With a killing curse?" I asked. He nodded. "So you're dead," I said. It was a question, technically, but I didn't phrase it as such. He nodded again and dealt himself another game of whatever he was playing. "So I'm dead?" I finally asked.
He looked up and stared at my face, eyes locked in mine, even through the hair that hung there, blocking people out; pushing them away.
"Can't be sure, really. But if you're not, you're the first I've met down here that wasn't," he said. I slumped back against the orange couch, defeated. "How'd you get here?"
"Ran into a police car on 65 going to put flowers on my mom's grave," I mumbled. "So much for straight and fast." He nodded like he understood, but I knew he didn't. No one ever understood, really. And now they never would because I had taken away their chance, even if I hadn't meant to.
"How do you get out of here anyway?" I asked.
"Same way you came in," he said, looking up into the darkness.
"There's nothing up there but black."
"But that's the way you go," he said.
"I wish I had some fucking Strawberry Hill," I said. He nodded again, black hair falling into his face slightly. He pushed it away and kept playing his card game. Frustrating, antisocial asshole he was. "I'm sleeping now. Don't try anything funny," I said, curling up on the couch.
"Goodnight, Alaska. You won't be here when you wake," he said. I shrugged.
"Then goodbye as well and hello wherever the hell I'm heading."