I know she is like me.
Like me and not, as I fail to keep her shining sky-colored relief from working beneath my skin. It slices through the sudden fear that should push me to run as far as I can from this girl that stares as if she's known me all her life.
She smells like heaven.
Safe. And terrifying.
If I hadn't known better, I could swear I'd shivered.
She moves slowly, deliberately, so aware of herself and of me, as aware as I am that there is no heartbeat beneath either of our throats. Golden and blue-tide and sunrise- sweet joy seep from wide honey eyes as she pulls in a sharp breath she doesn't need.
She looks at me and bites her lip and all my muscles seize. Honey eyes. I've never seen them on one of us before. She slides down from the barstool, steps small and precise to close the distance between us, and only now I realize how tiny she really is. The top of her ebony head barely reaches my shoulder.
She seems fearless. I'd been with other vampires long enough to know that it means she is either extremely dangerous, or extremely foolish.
Her cold hand slides into mine.
All at once every color of everything I've ever felt enhances to the point of pain, steeped to bursting in the gold of her. She feels like electricity and triumph and...something like relief. I have no words for it.
"You've kept me waiting a long time," she says, and with those words I feel bubbles of jade and champagne burst behind my eyes. I almost can't see and I almost don't care, save that not seeing loses sight of her, too. I check myself; I should feel more unnerved than this. Instead I feel consumed. Like she owns me.
I dip my head, glad my hair falls down to hide my eyes; I know I've been staring at her. I'm relieved for the chance to look away, suddenly afraid she'll pull me in and drown me if I look too long. And ashamed. For what, exactly, though, I can't express.
"I'm sorry, ma'am," I stumble.
I don't know why I answer.
I don't know why I don't let go.
The door opens behind us and I startle, and her grip tightens; I'd blocked the entrance. She tugs gently at my hand, pulls me from the family looking to get past us and out of the rain. I feel my senses sharpen as cloying human scent drifts through the heavy air, but her ultramarine calm disarms more than the smell and the wet and the noise, pushing back the fight-or-flight response that's been rising and falling in waves since I set foot in this place.
Citrus notes shoot through the damp.
Heaven smells like oranges and jasmine.
There's a table at the far corner, away from the windows, she leads me to. Leather seats creak as I slide in opposite her. She hasn't let go of my hand.
"Scars," she murmurs, rubs her thumb over one of the crescent marks on the back of my knuckles. I don't know what to say, so I wait for her to lead. It's long minutes before she continues.
"I've watched you for a long time, you know," she says quietly, all of a sudden muted green and shy as she swirls behind my lungs. "Ever since—"
I take her in and try not to project her sudden burst of grey-green fear back onto her, wanting to find the calm she'd had before and give her back the parts of it I'd stolen. I notice I'm still staring. She won't look at me.
She smells like heaven.
My name is breath on her lips, almost less than sound, and I don't even wonder how she knows who I am.
"How long have you been waiting?" I rasp.
"Almost thirty years," she whispers back. "Since 1921."
I don't know what else to say. So I apologize.
She smiles ever so slightly.
A paper airplane sails across the room, making its way in lazy spirals to land in Jasper's newspaper. His assailant giggles from the swivel chair. She hides her grin behind her hands.
"Yes, Alice?" he asks, a knowing smile twisting up his mouth.
"Durn raining planes. Can never get a reliable forecast on those," she says, her own lips taking on a wicked curve. She radiates jubilance, kicking off from the desk and setting her chair whirling. He knows that mischievous joy all too well, and takes the opportunity to discreetly fold a sheet of newsprint into his own airborne weapon.
He sets is flying, and she catches it, still spinning full speed.
"Saw that one, though," she laughs, "Don't worry, I gotcha covered."
"I think I'm scaring you," she says suddenly, breaking the steady flow of explanation. "Am I?"
"No, not at all," I answer. It's not completely a lie, and I try to mask the mutual wave of unease into periwinkle stillness. "It's just…been a long time since I talked to someone like this. Besides, I should be the one scaring you." I laugh low in my throat and Alice starts, jerking back ever so little in her seat.
Embarrassment bleeds absinthe into her aura. She fixes her eyes on mine. "You're thirsty. I'm sorry I didn't notice—"
I glance quickly around the diner; there's people, but not so many it's overwhelming. The wet smells that cling to wood and stone and clothing mask their scents just enough and I can keep myself—for the moment, anyway.
"I'll manage," I croak. Her eyes draw me in again. Gold. I can only imagine the blood-black color mine must be.
"I know a forest not too far from here," she offers quietly, glancing towards the window. Ominous rain continues to pelt the glass. "There's deer everywhere and plenty of cover, if you don't mind getting a bit, ah…damp."
"You done yet?"
Alice wipes the back of her hand across her mouth, folds her arms impatiently. Jasper rolls his eyes.
"Is it my fault it takes less blood to keep you up and running than it does me, little monster?"
"Nice little monsters don't lie, Alice."
"They do now."
He rolls his eyes again and decides to continue taking his sweet time. She heaves an exasperated sigh.
"Jazz! This isn't a dine-in restaurant, you know."
He laughs."Then next time bring me a doggy bag."
Alice makes a face. "Hardy har har. Says the man draining a timberwolf."
Alice moves like one who knows each tree inside and out. She dances just feet ahead of me, glancing back as if she fears I'll vanish.
Her hair seems to float as she runs, a dark corona around her pixie's face. I can focus on the individual strands, each its own black arc against the blurring woods. It's almost as if the rain can't even touch her.
And then she stops.
"The thickest bits are up this way, and then down to the east," she says, gesturing off into the dark. "That's where you'll want to go."
Anxiety rolls from her in waves.
"You're not…?" I ask.
She scuffs the leaves at her feet. Her dark hair now hangs lank and dripping in front of her eyes. "I don't want to intrude."
I have to laugh. She who'd taken my hand before I'd even said two words to her, seen and watched and followed me for twenty seven years, chooses now to be nervous about my boundaries. I hadn't had such contact with another of my kind in so long, and never with one so sweetly concerned for someone else as Alice.
It feels…nice. Disconcerting, but nice.
For the first time, he takes a life and cannot feel the colors of a victim's pain.
The doe's eyes go dark.
His own feel strange.
"No," she answers. "I don't know who made me. Or who I might have been before…before this." She finds a bench for us, traces the wrought-iron swirls with her fingertips, swings her feet that don't quite reach the ground. Rain she doesn't notice wicks off her hair. "I remember burning. This endless pain like I was being blown apart from the inside, and no matter how much I screamed it wouldn't stop. I wanted so much just to die. Anything to make it go away."
Copper pulses somewhere beneath the emerald haze that flows from Alice's memories, burnished flames from inside that she's since tried to forget.
"And then all of a sudden there was nothing. Thirst. The smells of the alley and wet garbage I woke up to." She turns to smile at me. "And your face."
Alice laughs. A burst of burgundy and cobalt radiates from her. Rueful. I reach to smooth the blues out into honey.
"It wasn't so bad, knowing you were...somewhere. Having something certain when nothing else was."
I look from her down to the cuffs of my sleeves; a few lonely drops of blood are the only evidence of having fed.
"Nothing ever is."
"But you were." Alice smiles to herself. The honey feeling spreads without my help. "I used to talk to you, Jazz. You must think I'm crazy, but you were all I had."
She casts her eyes down into the grass, gazing intently at the green blades bent against the weather. Wet hair sticks to her forehead like ink splashed on silk.
"I didn't even know my name until I saw you tell me. I looked for you and failed so many times, but on the way I guess I found the bits of me to string together."
"For twenty seven years." I said.
"Just about. Missed you by a hair once in Louisiana." She grins at me, twists her lips and nudges me with her shoulder. "You made some snap decision just before you got to New Orleans and were off again in some other direction. I was too slow. Got caught by sunny weather in Mississippi and couldn't tell where you'd booked it since. You caused me a lot of grief, you know."
"I'm sorry, ma'am," I smile, nudging her back with my elbow. "But you should've told me you were coming. I'd have baked a pie. Or made gumbo."
"Oh, you're too kind, Mister Whitlock. But I hope you'd know by now that I eat neither." She laughs, the sunny grin smoothing out into a more subdued smile, thinking. "I may have at some point. Sometimes I wonder what things I might've liked before…this."
"Maybe you're better off not knowing," I murmur. I'd had so much when I'd turned. Maria and a coven I belonged to. A name. Plenty of food for the taking, I think, the taste of the deer still lingering in my throat; bitter, but enough to sate.
All I had to show for it were scars.
"Maybe I am," Alice says. She washes me in blue. Not a sad shade, per se; just…contemplative. Cerulean. "Guess I'll never know, will I?"
And then for a moment her blue disappears. The whole world turns to gray and for just one fraction of a second I want to panic, but then she smiles and all at once she radiates honey and rose anticipation as if nothing had happened. The colors of Alice consume me again and swirl with my shades of relief.
Alice runs the tip of her nose from Jasper's collarbone up his throat, smiling at the weight of his body pressing her against the wall, the strength of his arms that pin her own to his chest. She'd never dreamed it would be this easy, or feel so effortless to be with him. Even decades later, she still can't help but marvel.
He pulls back just a fraction of an inch, nudges the side of her face with his nose, and her eyes go blank.
Even after all this time, even knowing what comes next, she smiles at him shyly.
His lips curve against her cheek.
"I've a powerful urge to kiss you, Miss Alice," he says, a gentle southern drawl sneaking into his voice. She lets the warmth of his contentment, tangible and soft, settle around her.
"Oh, believe me," she smiles, "I know."
The first time I kiss her it is six hours later, at four in the morning, pushed against an alley wall. Rain massages her upturned face cradled in my palms. Her lips are yielding, almost warm as her subtle desire creeps in amaranthine tendrils through my senses. She meets my kiss so easily, almost as if she knows my every move and I think somewhere I realize that this was what she'd seen, why she'd smiled in that moment I lost sense of her emotions.
This had been what she'd seen and searched and hoped for since she'd turned.
I soak in her violet desire and let it amplify my own.
I feel possessive, drawing on the delicate colors and scent of her that have come to mix and settle in my lungs. I take her in and surrender, my nerves alight and singing as if to answer to the small sounds she makes as my lips glide over hers. She meets but does not press me, undertones of turquoise hesitance creeping through, just barely there among the other shades of her want and my jewel-toned submission, all overlaid with amber hope.
She does not even bring herself to touch me, hoping she won't test the fragile trust tied in gossamer threads between us.
Little does she know nothing she could ever do would chase me from her, captivated and intoxicated as I am by her scent and her mouth and the growing halo of ease she's wrapped around herself and me. It's an ease I'm unfamiliar with, soft and simply thankful for its unassuming rhythm. I should have been jarred by her. I should have been wary. But she'd fallen into step with me so easily I hadn't had the time to catch the breath I didn't need.
For the first time in decades I don't feel the need to run.
I catch those tiny hands and my touch makes her bolder. I feel her fingers slip through mine and then let go to twine themselves together at my nape. Alice pulls back, honey eyes warmth within the wind, and smiles as I bend to kiss her again.
A/N: There she goes, fandom-hopping again... For those of you who were hoping this was a Harry Potter piece, don't worry, I won't disappoint you much longer. New drabbles are coming once school gets out for Christmas. This piece was more of a stylistic experiment than anything else, and I am planning to enjoy to the fullest my imminent return to Remus/Tonks writing.
For those of you who are wondering what the heck I'm talking about, hello! I hope you found this a satisfactory little Eclipse canon one-shot! :) I personally find the Twilight fandom sorely lacking in good canon fics, but I've since realized that Twilight fans aren't nearly the sticklers for canon that my other fandoms are, and I am slowly accepting that fact. Call me a fuddy-duddy, but you probably won't be seeing any crazy AU stuff from me anytime soon. Maybe some more JxA oneshots, but nothing too out there.
Will bribe for reviews with shiny things! (Exactly what kind of shiny things is up to you! X)