Les Femmes Noires One-Shot Contest

Title: Her Own Particular Shade of Ebony

Your pen name: theladyingey42

Characters: Alice and Jasper

Disclaimer: Stephanie Meyers owns Twilight and all of its characters.

Story is rated M for many reasons, including sexual content, dark themes, suicidal thoughts, vampires and blood play, and a complete and total lack of an HEA.

To see other entries in Les Femmes Noires Contest, please visit the C2 page:

http://www(dot)fanfiction(dot)net/community/Les_Femmes_Noires/73127/

Summary: Jasper's vampire senses and crimson eyes set him apart. His ability to pull back the veil of the world and taste emotions like colors makes him alone. Until he encounters a human girl whose darkness is the most intense shade of ebony he's ever known. AU/OOC.


The world is a landscape of textures, emotions like colors, and I am an artist, paint embedded in my fingernails, crimson and blue in every crevice and every touch. I read the subtle emotion of each stroke, take in the rolling lilt of desire and joy, pain and loss, sorrow like ebony and clover. I taste the passion in the air and return it twofold to the world.

It's what I do.

Whether I want to or not.

At times the emotions of the world roll off of me, a background to everything I see and taste and smell, the sadness in the world only more grounding for the pieces of me that sometimes feel like they will be flung from the Earth as it twirls. The happiness is a lightness that helps me walk among men though I am not one of them. Although I am other. Although I am alone.

At other times, I think the emotions may consume me, a storm of hue and color that threatens everything I have worked for. I feel them drowning me, all the pieces of myself that make me who I am held soft beneath the flow and tide. I feel like the very sensation of feeling may swallow me whole.

Staring at her in the darkness, allowing her storm to wash over me, I know that this is one of those times.

But this time I am finally ready to drown in her.

---

She appears to me for the first time as a jagged flash, a tearing screaming in my mind and in my side. The people closest to me wince, my ability to keep the subtext of feeling in check destroyed, all my controls out of balance as her pain breaks through me.

Blackness. Everything is blackness in her storm.

I whip around within the confines of my wretched façade, vampire reflexes giving the lie to every careful step, every motion I have taken to shield the glowing scarlet of my eyes from those who would dare to look too closely at me. Ignoring the sense of fear and wonder radiating out from the unsuspecting people in my immediate proximity, I twist outward, searching through the crowd for the source.

The source.

The center of swirling darkness, the reason for the gritty ash of loss inside my throat.

A pain that eclipses even my thirst.

My eyes lock onto her and it is like all the other people in the world are gone. I push past them, move through them, my knees shaking with the effort to move slowly so as not to give myself away to them any more than I already have.

I have to get closer.

I have to run.

My warring impulses meet in the middle and I stalk toward her, venom in my mouth mixing darkly with the still-agonizing jolts of pain that pour out of her, filling the world like ebony ink overturned, billowing darkness and a cloud of haze and hurt. I do not reveal myself, however. I run away from her even as I near her, my body pressed tightly to the line of shadows in the room so that I am invisible to any mortal. Hidden but still not safe.

Every step I take toward her body fills me even further with despair, the ache becoming a pressing closeness of actual physical pain, the impenetrable flesh of my chest torn asunder by everything that thunders and rages from this girl.

This woman.

This goddess of terrible pain and glory before me.

She sits alone. Of course. I take her in from my place in the shadows, watching carefully as I hold my breath, uncertain if the very air may be colored by the rolling waves of darkness that consume her - darkness that I worry may well pull me under, too. The pale tremble of her skin is a siren song to my fingertips, too much of it exposed in this very public place and yet not enough. I follow the aching line of swirling ink, a scar of death and flowers on her breast to the place where it meets the rise of her ribs, her collarbones, her neck. Her crown of black-tinged glory is a pile of close-cropped hair around her head, tresses teased like thorns to warn away any who might touch her. She is not to be touched, for all that I might long to. Even the twist of her ear is sex and agony, shrapnel and pain as metal pierces it through again and again and again.

Blackness.

Pain.

Betrayal.

Her eyes find me before mine can turn away, and even though I know it is impossible that she can see me, the piercing, vacant blackness of those eyes runs me through. My held breath collapses in my lungs as the connection between our gaze runs all the tremors of loss and loneliness and heartache straight through to the shattering fragments of the me I was before this girl. An express line to my own destruction.

And I know right then she will consume me.

Struck still, mute and paralyzed, her face is a vision of loveliness corrupted, sunken cheeks and eyes of coal and fire. Eyes that have seen what no mortal should ever know. I watch the crimson fullness of her lips, a tiny mouth that breathes loss and mourning, billowing clouds of it that I can actually see and taste on the air. They part, a wet smacking sound that drowns out all the voices and the darkness even, as for one blissful, pain-free instant, the world is reduced to nothing but her lips.

And then it all comes crashing back down.

Even though my long-dead lungs have no need for air, I am starved for it, the discomfort of holding my breath with the crushing pressure of her emptiness too much for me to bear.

I abandon any kind of pretense, give up the aspiration of even passing as a mortal in this now jagged, impossible world and flee. My speed eludes them all anyway, a blur and a shiver and a piercing sharpness of transmitted pain, her emotion received and then leaking out of me as I flee. Fast into the night I run, the burn of my throat and my breaking heart the only signs that I am pushing myself and my tenuous control too far tonight.

No one sees me as I escape. There's no way anyone could. It's impossible.

And yet...

And yet I cannot shake the trembling feeling that her eyes are watching me. That she sees me without seeing.

That somehow she knows how this all will end.

---

In her wake, I become the monster I have always known myself to be, drawn to her body and her heart, to the overwhelming darkness she exudes at the same time that I am repelled by it, incapable of taking too much of it in before it destroys me, my insides rent completely.

I feast on her vision, her aura of despondency, as I stalk her in the night, listen in on her conversations, learn her habits and her name. I follow her until I cannot bear it, and only blood can bring me back from her brink.

But not her blood. Never her blood. Crimson, lush, ebony and ink, blood like a benediction. I know exactly what it would taste like, decadent on my tongue, the only thing to parch the blackness of my thirst. The blackness in her eyes. The blackness in her veins.

Running from her every time the haunting aura of her pain and anguish threaten to crash over me and leave me desperate and lost, I find the closest thing to her, the closest waif or goth, pixie or faerie or whatever and drain them. It's just like being near her again though, my victim's pain becoming my pain, the terror in the moments before death my own clutching nightmare, my own ball of blackness, only without the satisfaction of her unseeing glare.

Even the satisfaction of quenching my thirst, of feeling the power in my own body in the wake of the coursing life that runs through me - life made by ending life - none of it is any match for the sick satisfaction that comes simply from watching her. Feeling her. Drowning in the storm of color and texture, blackness and waves, stickiness and ash. Before the blood is even dried on my lips, I am back on my relentless quest, my endless pursuit of the tiny girl, the only spark in a world reduced to grey inside her wake.

My storm.

My blackness.

My Alice.

---

I stalk her silently, the predator in me awakened by the lush texture of the feelings she rolls over me, the enveloping embrace of her emotions, unique in all my years of walking this dusty earth for its sheer intensity.

Until she finds me.

It is like any other night, watching and waiting, keeping my distance even as I advance as close as I may dare.

Just as I am about to approach, standing closer than I have ever been before, I am driven from her yet again, my hand singed by her very proximity. There are mere yards between us as I eye her hungrily, thirst in every shattered cell inside my body, hunger and longing and lust, and I snap. Flying from her, I retreat. Not even taking care to cover my tracks, I haul the nearest warm body with me to a place just out of sight, into the shadows of the woods, the snapping of bones, a pumping vein, the pain and terror cut short as much as possible but still leaving me shaking.

I am afraid of myself in moments like this.

Only she could possibly not be afraid of me.

I hover over the corpse, the vessel, the shell, warm fluid rushing through me, my heart on fire with the glowing red of life in the dead cells of my body. The pain of the broken cadaver beneath me is gone, my bloodlust satiated and my physical lust peaked, higher and tighter than even before.

And it is in that moment, in that state, my hands still awash in flowing crimson and gripping themselves tightly to the pull of fabric around the collar of a twisted neck, that she finds me.

She emerges from darkness, her scent and the tearing, screaming crash of her impossible agony breaking through the haze of scarlet and life, her very presence bringing death into the place where I have already wrought my destruction. I feel her and smell her. She smells like sex and feels like loss and I am undone.

And then I hear her voice in my ear, the tickle of her breath, aching and hot on the cold stone of my skin, untouched in all this time, her arousal and her anger the color of burgundy and bruises in this horrible waking dream.

"I've seen things. Terrible, terrible things." The huskiness of her voice overwhelms me, unwilling arousal flowing through me as she tastes her own physical need beneath the veil of pain. Her tongue makes tiny circles on the flesh behind my ear and I groan before she lets her mind drift to deeper places.

The anger and the shock of agony in my spine deflates my arousal instantaneously, her web of emotion and memory sucking me in as it always does. I collapse over the lifeless corpse beneath me, her hand on my shoulder and her breath still hot across my cheek.

"Can you feel it? Feel what I've seen?" I nod and cower, the ongoing onslaught too much for me. I'd thought myself singed by her proximity before but the burning tenor of her touch is truly too much, this direct connection to the very source of her haze of grief making it impossible to breathe.

I want to turn it off. To stop living in this emotion-colored invisible skin of the world, to walk amongst mortals and immortals as any normal soul.

But stopping is the one thing it is not within my power to do.

Fighting back against the rush of her desperate embrace, the aching lash of everything she is throwing at me, I hurl calm like a fist, hit her hard with the will of my own ability to shape this tender shroud of feeling. I beat back the colors of her aura and replace them with cerulean blue and jade, ivory and ochre, a clear cool pond, ripples and reeds and a gentle wind.

But she tears through them all.

"I've seen terrible things. Death all around," she whispers, my own colors broken by a jagged line of her particular shade of ebony, shattered pieces of stained glass in a dazzling array on the floor.

Her voice is colder than it has ever been before as she says the one thing guaranteed to take me down, "I've seen you."

Her coal black eyes call to me, the paleness of her face a glowing beacon of reflected moonlight. In a movement too fast for her to catch, I bring myself to seated, my back to the drained corpse behind me and her body crouching before me, the billows of her deep black skirt mixing dimly with the loamy soil of the ground.

"You're going to be the one to finally kill me," she rasps darkly, her tiny fingertips caressing the edges of my face and I swallow, the taste of blood still strong on my lips. Her words bring with them the first swirling abatement of her storm, a pause in the sharp and angry lines of blackness that fall out of her and into the world I inhabit through a set of choices that were beyond me.

She holds my eyes as she tells me, "You've kept me waiting a long time."

And it is in that moment that I finally see her scars.

Her hand makes its gentle, searing way across my skin, the edges of her nail a thin, dull pressure along my neck before she turns her arms over, the backs of her fingers falling into my palms.

The lines on her wrists are long and angry, the skin defiled and knit together none too carefully. A jagged line of vengeful rosy red snakes through the hard edges of the broken tissue, and I feel a searing jolt of pain along my own wrists, gasping.

And still her eyes do not hold fear.

I trace my thumbs along her scars, my voice still numb, knowing my touch must feel frigid and foreign to her yet she refuses to pull away.

"You know what it's like to see, to pull back the veil and really see. Even if you see differently than I do." Her fingertips dance whisper-soft across my arms, to my shoulders and around my back as she pulls herself up to her knees to hover inches above me. With one hand she traces my eyes, a lingering kiss of warm soft skin that trails across my nose and to my mouth. The scent of her is overwhelming. She is reaching, somehow reaching, behind and below and there is a warm dripping, a deep grey swath of relief and agony that pulls out of her and into me and I reflect it all right back to her.

I smell the blood, cooling in the deep night air, smell it on her skin and I twist to see her hands immersed in the gaping hole I tore in the broken body that lies behind me, her own living hands pooling in the wasted liquid of the one who is dead. The one I killed in her place when everything in me told me to drain her. And yet I resisted. Because beneath this impossible façade, this strange and shifting and manipulable gauze of feeling, she is the only thing that has ever felt real.

She pulls her fingertips before my disbelieving eyes to her own mouth, lukewarm blood on already crimson lips as her tongue darts out to taste it.

"Do you know what it's like to decide to finally end it all, to choose to leave this life and to see yourself with the knife," she breathes, pain in my chest with the scent of the blood on her teeth and the world of hurt that she hurls at me. Her hand is shaking as it traces the scarlet ink of life across the ashy white around her mouth to her chin and finally to make sloppy lines along the burning scars across her wrists. "To decide to die and see your own hands cutting into you.

"And to know it will never work. And still you try?"

I shake my head, even though I do know now. Now that she has made me feel that ripping agony.

"Prescience is no gift. Will you take it from me?"

The blood on her mouth is warmed by her breath and I am past the point of being able to resist, the burning in my throat and the pain of my arousal mixed with the pain that flows out of her body overwhelming me. I wince and ball my hands into fists, incapable of touching her lightly, but before I even intend to, my mouth is consuming hers, my tongue awash in her taste and the stolen smear of blood she has dressed herself with.

My lust pulses out of me and I wrap her in it, feed her the desire in my dead body brought to life by the essence I have stolen and by the stabbing desperation of her touch as she writhes before me. Her mouth is responsive, her kiss upon my lips as she brings her dripping hands to the place where our tongues are joined and she feels alive, her heart beating and the pulse in her throat thick and vibrant, the blood on her fingertips just another layer of this dark pleasure that is building on me.

Her fingertips trace lower on her body, a line of trickling red over the place where her pulse beats hardest beneath her skin, the aching line of her neck, sinew and skin, over her collarbones and to her breast. I follow it hungrily, painting her skin with the pooling, treacherous venom that seeps across my tongue unbidden, tasting the intoxicating blend of life and death, her skin and another person's wasted blood, and the both of them feed me. Her bodice rips beneath my hands, and she rubs that sticky fluid over the skin I have revealed, her creamy skin painted red, and I move over it, my lips and tongue finding their way to trace each twisting line until I reach her own red tips, suckling sweetly and hungrily and I must have more.

Her fingers are in my mouth then, and I suck on them greedily, the color of our lust dancing between us, tinged only by her unrelenting darkness. I keep her tender flesh from my teeth, only the softness of my lips as her finger pulses in and out of me. I seize her darkness to my chest, wrap my arms impossibly around her as I will myself not to crush her or drain her, only to taste her. To taste the color of her agony and her sex.

Clean but for my venom, her hands reach beneath her skirts, deep ebony fabric falling all around me, billowing dreams of ink and desire, her trembling thighs wrapped around me. I feel the dripping blaze of her sex, the fire that may consume me and I try to make her want me the way that I want her. I push my desire out through the air and she attacks me, the both of us lost in the invisible fabric of the dream that puts the lie to the world that all the others see.

"I can see what you're going to do to me before you do it," she whispers into my mouth, the sensual presence of her body and her prescience, the pain of everything she's seen swirling around me. "You're going to come so hard inside of me."

Her fingertips begin to tug at me, nails scraping at the impenetrable skin of my abdomen and at the button of my pants. Before long she has found me, the fire of her touch torture and pleasure on the desperate length of me as she guides me into her, the aching slick heat surrounding me. My head falls back as her body and her own feelings of desire rush over me. I drink them in as I would drink her in, processing them, tasting them, seeing them. Her desire is purple-blue and cherry, throbbing heat and honeysuckle deep and it is the most intense wanting I have felt in my life, redoubled by all that she feels pulsing out of me.

Pulling at skirt and hip, I grip her deeply to me, my body and hers enmeshed and combined and I feel every movement of my body into hers both through her and through me, impossible pleasure heightened as it is reflected between us, mirrors into infinity.

My desire is rising and crashing and crescendoing inside of me as my hips buck against the ground into the lush, tight velvet of her body, her thighs surrounding me and her hips rising and lowering, a union of flesh and feeling and I pull her even more tightly to me.

Everything is pounding and impossible, my mind awash in the canvas of color and texture, the physical swirling with the subtext of my feeling world, and her climax stuns me, positively drowns me because I feel it on every level, in every frozen cell of my body. The throbbing way that her sex surrounds me begins to pull my own pleasure from me, everything rising and a deep chasm in my abdomen as I thrust with all but complete abandon, needing to let all of this desire out of me, to feel her real and around me.

When I begin to come, my mind is blank, stars and screams and only half of them are mine, blinding pleasure and pain eclipsing any experience I have ever had in this body, the venom in my mouth drowning me as my release bursts out of me, filling her. I spasm over and over again, more pleasure than I had ever dreamed possible with my desperate peak inside of this desperate girl.

I am still pulsing into her, the pulse in her throat screaming to me, liquid and crimson just a millimeter below the skin when she breathes into me, "Do it. Finally, finally, Jasper, drink me. Kill me."

I am out from under her faster than I would have ever dreamed possible, even for a creature such as me, the last aching streams of my orgasm spent and wasted on the forest floor as my back collides with a tree, wood splintering behind me as it falls with an echoing crash.

In the ensuing silence, her bloodcurdling scream is the only thing I can hear.

"No!" Her cry is desperation and it hurts in places I didn't even know I had inside of me, her earlier pain that had been so palpable and dangerously enticing to me reduced to a dim and distant memory compared with the depths of the anguish now before me. Her shrill cry descends on me, "You have to end this. You're the only fucking way to make it stop. Stop it for me. End it for me, please." Her form is huddled and shaking in the distance, a dozen yards away from me and yet perfect in its clarity.

She approaches on her hands and knees, wretched and emanating such crippling agony that I can't move. With just about everything left in me, I want to run, to flee as far as my vampire legs and strength will take me but I know it will never be enough. Now that she has found me I can tell that she will continue to find me, over and over again. There's nowhere on earth that I can run to where she can't see me.

And there's a part of me that longs to be found.

I smell myself on her, the cloying musk of my sex rolling off of her, dripping out of her, and combined with her arousal and her terrible pleas I am lost on a blackened sea of feeling again, the concrete face of the world buckling, giving in to that which is malleable to me. And none of it is real except her.

She is ripping and clawing, the blackness a blinding sea pouring from her body. I take in the image of the two of us, approaching and repelled, disheveled and bedraggled, her breast still exposed before me, my renewed arousal standing uncovered in the raw night air. Her skin is lit with the sheen of venom and the lingering traces of blood my desperate tongue would seem to have missed.

And still she calls to me.

Then, slowly, she crawls to me.

Within moments, mere inches separate our panting skin again, her scent the only air I can breathe, and her keening voice is a shattering plea, breaking through all of the walls left inside of me. I feel her desperation, feel what she wants from me and I try to grip myself, to keep from giving the black and ink of her feeling back to her, from renewing her resolve for me to take her in this way.

I don't know if I can handle the pain of my teeth tearing into her when she of all people is projecting that agony into me.

I don't know if I can bear the idea of her not standing here before me, piercing through the veil and showing me the world and how it looks when it's infused with something real.

Her eyes take on a far-off glassy look that swirls the black with grey, something frightening and far away, before another tearing scream falls from her lips. She is feral and terrible in front of me, the clouds before her irises parting suddenly as the line of her nail begins to claw at her neck. Scratches erupt in ivory skin, red and blooming and I am reaching for her, trying to stop the madness that is submerging her, engulfing us both, but the pungent rust and salt and heaven that is her essence floods my nostrils, and there is no reasoning with the monster inside of me. Her blackness fights the crimson lushness of her blood, the thirst and pain warring sensations inside of me, both urging me to take, to drink and fill the empty places that her own wealth of feeling have created in me.

The single trickling line of blood on her neck is all that I can see, the rough tear in her delicate flesh the only thing that breaks through to me through the crushing agony of her darkness. A ticking twitching of my jaw, my throat opening and closing with the desperate need to take her in and I am close. So close to letting the razor wire of my teeth sink sharply into soft flesh, warm blood, lush life laid out before me.

The texture of her skin is actually palpable to me, the pulsing throb and the tiny bead of luscious blood, my lips baring my own instruments of death as they brush harshly across the surface of her flesh. The contact between my mouth and her body sends a shiver through her, a quaking trembling, and all at once the crushing sea of her darkness parts. The cloud that had eclipsed all my senses and left me lost in the terrible wake of her rolling, choking agony recedes, fresh air in my starved lungs, and I can see clearly, a bright white ray of light cutting fast through her sinking shroud of ebony.

Bright white light that tastes like hope.

She hopes only that I will end this for her.

I tear into her flesh lushly, erotically, the smell of her sex and blood mingling impossibly before me and it is all I can do not to sink the throbbing rest of me into her along with my teeth, to feel the clench of her sex around me as I drink bitterly from her throat. She tastes like life and heaven, agony and ecstasy, crimson and ebony and it is almost too much.

It is too much, as soon as she feels the pain.

My own throat closes, a ripping, rending inside of me as I feel the pall of death that is closing in on her, the burn of venom in her veins excruciating as she forces me to endure it with her. I drop her bodily, let her shaking, trembling body fall to the forest floor, her blood seeping steadily into the earth even as it drips from my tongue and teeth, her life pumping through me even as it is flowing away from her.

Her fists claw uselessly at dying leaves and roots and I stand over her, watching her in all of her desperate, darkly angelic glory as her body arches, my own torso bending impossibly from the weight of her agony. If I could cry, I would be sobbing endlessly, her waves of pain destroying me as I stand over her, absorbing what I can and trying to push a clutching calm onto her, to ease her suffering as I pull it into me.

As she writhes one more time, sweet blood still dripping from the wound we made, my teeth and her hope for me, and I wonder if this is the moment when she will be taken from me. I lift my lips to catch her aching soul as it escapes her body, to kiss it as it drifts away.

But there is no end to her pain. No quiet falling off, no silent abatement, the sweet release that I know accompanies the ecstasy of dying.

Instead there is just a subtle shift in color and quality, amber and blackness twisting headily to a harsh and aching burgundy and a putrefying, changing, diamond-shining green.

I register the change in the timber of her pain in the same moment that she does.

And the entire forest is awakened by her scream.

The blackness mixing with the diamond green and burgundy is not the physicality of her pain. It is something deeper. Something much more intense, and it claws a near-literal hole inside of me.

I clamp a frozen hand across her mouth, her teeth ravaging me even though they cannot break through stone. I pull her changing body into me, feel the course of fire rush through her spine, through every dying, screaming cell, sensing what is happening to her only an instant after she does.

She was right. I was the one to kill her body.

But not her pain.

I gather her fully into me, the fire coursing through my own body, and it is staggering, a new sensation and a memory awakening of when the scorching ember beneath the fire was me. When the venom coursed through my body, changing and burning it clean.

Pushing down the dense web of her agony and the shreds of fiery memory, I keep my hand clasped tight over the keening, bellowing scream that has consumed her mouth. She is as light as can be in my arms as I race away from the scene of my terrible crime, from the place where I let her hope and her pain overwhelm me, risking the only thing that had ever been real to me in all this moldable, plastic universe. The only thing I couldn't wholly change, only immerse myself in and let consume me.

In the darkness of an abandoned factory, I let the purifying flame of her pain burn through me, tiny hand in mine, the rush of sensations in her changing body both torture and catharsis to me. For three days I scarcely breathe, only soak in everything she gives me, her screams drowned out by the whirr of industrial fans and the occasional roar of a passing train. I absorb her agony, the very color of pain and insanity on my dry and aching tongue, and I try to give her solace, to cool her flame. I pull the veil in closer, manipulate it in my hand and wring it dry of her suffering before I let it back out, wrapping her in something cool. Something precious. Wanting to give her something beautiful to feel instead of pain.

But the sheer exertion of trying to calm her is destroying me, my nerves pushed to the point of damage, everything in me crackling and set to burst.

Just when I think I cannot hold back the dam of pain another moment, it happens, her quickening heartbeat a fluttering pulse, the raging fire pulling out and in, the sympathetic clenching in my own heart a staccato burst of overflowing grief.

The silence in the aftermath envelops me, the quiet of her chest and the cool stillness of her skin an even match for the texture and weight of mine. The second skin of the world is clear to me, for a moment uncolored by the many flavors of her particular shade of terrible ebony. My mind and eyes unclouded by her presence, I absorb the flitting of dust in the thin strips of light leaking in through the gaps between shingles and beams, the exact hue and saturation of the shadows in this space that has witnessed the death of me and the birth of someone new.

The birth of Alice. Tortured goddess, shining angel, woman and dream.

I watch the shaking lids of her eyes as they open, her thirst writ large in purple bruises beneath coal eyes turned scarlet, her own blood swirling behind the windows of her irises.

I wait for her essence to consume me, for the intensity of what she now must feel to dye the very fabric of my emotional universe with its opacity and hue.

It is only with a gasp that I find that the torture of her soul no longer rolls and crashes, but seeps.

That it is no longer black, but red.

But that it still consumes me.

"How could you? How dare you?" Her voice is richer, thicker, more laced with the blood that has turned inside her newly crystallized body into fuel. Power. Drive.

Even higher now, she screeches, "How could you?" Her body has already flung itself to the walls of the shadowed space, the air between us rippling and collapsing beneath the very color and tenor of her pain and wrath.

And then she cackles, an insane and twisting bastardization of a laugh, the antithesis of mirth. The sound rings out, sharp and murderous, the air suddenly turned alizarin and violet and chrome.

"Really, Jasper? Really?" The piercing tone of her laugh rises in pitch, notes like daggers digging hard into cinder-block walls that begin to crumble beneath the power of her voice.

"Immortality for the girl who's spent her entire life trying to die?"

I know it's coming. Of course I know. Decades spent taking down newborns tells me exactly what to expect and how. But I make no move to defend myself.

I let the struggle and the strain of her change leave me prone.

And it is only as the wretched shadow of her form descends on me that I see the world completely clearly for the first time with these undead eyes, all the color in the film before it finally drained. All the texture and emotion I have lived in, swimmed in, drowned in when possessed by her aura falls silently away.

And I am shocked by how real and beautiful the world was when seen with clear eyes. How real and beautiful she was.

Only inches away from me now, her face is illuminated by a solitary line of light, yellow-white like the sun, and she gleams.

"Alice," I whisper, and she is upon me.

And then there is no color anymore.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.


E/N: Extra special thanks to my beta, antiaol, for beta-ing this in spite of her misgivings. And the fact that this goes against pretty much every wussperv rule she has.

Additional thanks to EchoesOfTwilight for pre-reading this hot mess and talking me down off the ledge.

Please review and let me know what you think.