The Light and the Darkness

Chapter 3: Life Begins Anew

Originally written by Senshi of Valis and 5hadow Lady

Based on Requiem for a Dream by Sokai

Note (from Sokai): It's nice to see those of who you'd read the previous chapter hadn't forgotten about Senshi of Valis and 5hadow Lady's first installments to this tale; thanks! Makes my job of finishing this a lot easier. LoL Anyway, not much else to say, except read on!

A lone, tall young woman by the name of Alexis Bunker, seemingly around her mid-twenties or so, leisurely made her routine commute to work, just as she would bright and early every weekday morning.

The bright, golden sun was rising higher and higher into the sky above her, and was thankfully unobstructed by any unsolicited clouds that day, providing the much needed warmth that the current winter was continually siphoning away.

Despite this, however, the dark chocolate haired woman still enjoyed taking the twelve minute walk from her townhouse to her hair salon, Blooming Locks, as she had done for the last four years she'd been in business.

The journey to and fro along the small, but fairly busy street had generally always proved to be quite eventful, in truth, creating a lot of notable memories for the biracial female.

She had witnessed two wedding proposals, one breakup, one political protest, and three parades during those years she'd been walking back and forth through that same street, with each incident never leaving her wanting in excitement.

All things considered, in fact, the naturally curly and long haired young woman lived within a pretty regular vicinity, Dirkenshale, Canada, where the people within the ville were quite friendly and helpful when need be, however majority of the time kept to themselves.

That particular fact actually worked well for the Canadian-born female in the long run, as it had been on that very same street where she had met her current roommate and employee of nearly two years, Lies Doyle.

At least, that was the name given to Alexis when she had queried the information from the weary looking teenager on that fateful evening. . . .

Just having finally closed up her salon for the night, after yet another long, eventful day, Alexis had begun her familiar walk home as she always would, that time with considerable fear striking her heart.

After all, it had been just a little over twenty-four hours prior when she'd honestly believed that the entire world was coming to an end.

And Alexis hadn't been the only one to believe so, judging by the frightening news coverage and footage from various places all over the planet, showcasing the devastating natural disasters which had inexplicably occurred from out of nowhere that same day.

Friends, family, and strangers alike had immediately rallied together in order to gather as many supplies as they could within evidently futile attempts to withstand the severe windstorm and mild earthquake their particular area had experienced.

It had been when everything had seemed to be at its absolute worst, with all those around Alexis mournfully having commenced saying their final goodbyes to one another when everything had suddenly stopped . . . just as swiftly as it had all started.

Alexis would never forget the eerie calm and bone chilling silence, as she and other fellow survivors of the catastrophic storm had cautiously emerged from the shelter they had all holed up within.

The surrounding land had been absolutely ravaged, with several trees having been knocked over, as well as many parked vehicles and buildings destroyed . . . including her then fairly new salon, although miraculously only partially.

That had been a small price to pay to having still been alive, as far as Alexis had been concerned, having felt blessed that none of her loved ones had been lost during such a terrifying occurrence, and with only a few various injuries of fellow citizens to account for in the end.

Still, the event had left the brown eyed young woman feeling understandably rattled and confused, much like the majority of her community, and feeling unable to simply stay at her then apartment and rest, she had spent that entire next day cleaning up the damage of her salon.

Alexis had felt herself a changed woman from then on; everyone who had made it out of the aftermath of that critical night alive had, she was quite sure.

And maybe it had been because of that that she had made the series of decisions the moment she had laid eyes upon Lies. . . .

Having noticed her, alone and bundled up upon the partially ruined wooden bench, just outside of the park erected right across the street from Alexis's hair salon, had immediately filled her with overwhelming concern.

The girl hadn't looked to be no more than sixteen or seventeen, at best, with such a heartbreaking, sunken expression upon her naturally tanned countenance, intermingling with blatant fatigue that honestly made the light coconut skinned woman want to cry with sympathy.

The area hadn't been anywhere near cleaned of its debris by that time, with just a mere day having passed, after all, and so the overall anxiety for the curious teenager's well being had been all the more great.

'What on earth is she doing out here all alone this late, and after everything that had happened last night? It's still very unsafe out here,' Alexis had fleetingly thought with distress, before she'd hurriedly crossed the empty and moderately destroyed street.

The sound of hurried footsteps had evidently startled the young teenager, as she'd promptly risen to her feet the moment her widened, rich brown eyes locked with Alexis's own from across the way, and began to collect the large purple duffel bag sat next to her upon the bench.

"W-Wait! You don't have to be afraid! I-I'm not going to hurt you!" Alexis had quickly spoken, calling out to the white ski cap adorned girl, who'd nonetheless continued on with her swift escape.

"I'm not afraid of you. I just don't want to be bothered," the mysterious girl had sharply assured within reply without missing a beat, quickening her pace while the older woman trailed behind.

"A-All right, then. You're not afraid, and I wasn't trying to bother you! I-I just was wondering what is you're doing out so late, all alone, and especially in light of the mild devastation we'd encountered yesterday!" the taller female had breathlessly addressed, gripping onto her flailing purse a bit more tightly, before having sped up her pace to cut off the retreating stranger's path.

Having stopped underneath one of the few still working streetlights within that area, Alexis had been able to get a much better view of the other girl's face, and was surprised to see that it'd looked as though she had been crying profusely, as both her visage and eyes were grotesquely red and puffy.

In fact, the young teenager's overall appearance had seemed quite disheveled, as well, with her attire of a dark blue parka, black jeans and taupe colored hiking boots all covered with dirt and looked as though thrown on within a hurry.

'Oh, God. I wonder what sort of trouble she's been through,' Alexis had wondered with mounting care, before the brown eyed girl had interrupted her thoughts with another guarded response.

"Trust me . . . I'm more than well aware of the 'devastation that'd occurred yesterday. . . '." she'd said with distinct hollowness and a secretly knowing air, averting her wary, tired eyes away from the curly haired woman before her.

At this, Alexis had let out a sharp gasp, as a sudden revelation had come to her.

"O-Oh! Oh, no! You don't mean. . . .! T-That is . . . your family wasn't -"

"- That isn't any of your business, is it?" the unknown girl had abruptly cut the other woman off, immediately raising her eyes to peer at her with a slight defensive challenge shining forth from her gaze. "At any rate, I'm just passing through, so don't even worry about it."

Feeling a mixture of both a Good Samaritan, as well as maternal instinct then beginning to kick in, Alexis had proverbially put her foot down at that moment, absolutely refusing to let that poor girl go anywhere or leave her sight.

After all, both she and the good majority of her community had been truly lucky to still be alive after what had happened the previous night; she wasn't about to karmically rescind such a gift by turning her back upon an individual blatantly within need, and especially not one so young.

"Look, just wait a second, please, all right? It's clear you've been through a lot, and I'd really like to help you . . . so why not come stay the night at my apartment?" Alexis had begun tentatively, studying the other girl's expression to deduce her possible reception to the idea. "It's much, much warmer than continuing to stay outside within the park, after all. And I can fix you something nice to eat, too, if you'd like. . . ."

Having paused for a few moments to allow her proposition to sink in for the wandering teenager before her, Alexis smiled lightly before she'd added, "And I promise not to ask any more questions about your business, if that will make you feel better and trust me a bit more. Although . . . well, I would, at least, like to know your name, if that'd be all right with you. My name is Alexis Bunker."

After what had honestly felt like ages to pass between the two young women, the guarded, ski cap wearing girl had at last responded with, ". . . . Lies. Lies Doyle . . . and I accept the offer . . . thank you. . . ."

Before either female had known, that one night of housing had unexpectedly turned into weeks, which elapsed into months, and inevitably blossomed into the two year friendship and business association that it was today.

And true to her word, Alexis had never once asked any further questions about Lies's background and situation prior to their having met, and anything she currently did know about the young woman had been willingly divulged over time, or picked up through honest observation.

For instance, Alexis had promptly discovered that Lies's hair color was a brilliant shade of red and bob length, the moment the two had stepped inside of Alexis's former apartment and the girl had at last taken off her white ski cap.

She had also learned, not long after their first night together, that Lies's eighteenth birthday had been approaching two weeks from that time, making her a Virgo, like herself, and a lot older than Alexis had originally suspected her of being.

Lies also had a penchant for chocolate spread over peanut butter, swimming, and animals, especially frogs. And although she tended to be more so on the quiet side, even having always given off such a strong air of sadness about her, Lies had always been quite helpful and friendly to those within their community whenever need be, however especially with Alexis and helping her run and maintain her hair salon.

For the most part, however, Lies continued to keep mostly to herself, having no real social contact except for Alexis, and even their relationship still had far too many holes than the older woman cared for.

There were times when Alexis dearly wished to at last confront the redhead about her avidly veiled past, especially during the few occasions she would hear Lies faintly crying to herself within her bedroom, or lightly talking within her sleep and saying rather cryptic words here and there.

The dark haired woman had always wondered where her young friend had really come from, where her family was or what had become of them. She would also always wonder what it was about the months of September and January which would always make the girl so forlorn and extra withdrawn each year, as well . . . especially given that the month of September, at least, was supposed to be a happy time, as her birthday would occur then.

All of these things would always secretly plague Alexis, yearning so much to learn more about her young friend, however respecting their friendship too much to ever venture an open inquiry in regards to anything.

Lies was honestly more so like the younger sister she never had, as Alexis was an only child, and felt very protective of and even responsible for her, which was why at any time anyone (which thankfully did not occur too often any longer) would have asked who Lies actually was and where she'd originally come from, Alexis would always provide some sort of cover story for the girl, despite wanting to know the full truth about her, herself.

Until the day she'd felt comfortable and perhaps even safe enough to reveal everything on her own, Alexis would simply continue to more or less blindly protect Lies and her well being, and be there for her in any way that she possibly could.

However wrong and honestly conflicting it perhaps was to do, she would carry on, nonetheless.

Still . . . I do always worry most about whether or not Lies isn't in any sort of trouble, especially not legal, the curly locked woman wondered in silence, at the same moment that she'd finally reached her hair salon. It's certainly a miracle enough in and of itself that no one's honestly given much of a second thought about her living with me or suddenly popping up into my life, let alone any sort of authorities getting involved for whatever the reason. . . . I just hope that one day she'll trust me enough to tell me everything. . . .

Unlocking the door and expecting to see the young woman in question, already there before her and busily setting things up for the new day as she generally would during each work day, Alexis found herself feeling rather taken aback to instead be faced by the unfamiliar sight of lone blonde standing near the cash register with her back turned to her.

"U-Um . . . can I help y . . . Lies? Is that you?" she warily inquired, before the once redhead, evidently turned blonde turned around in surprise, and her familiar face faintly smiled back at the older woman in greeting.

"O-Oh! Hey, Alexis, good morning," Lies began softly, moving away from the cash register and around the long counter it was perched upon. She then awkwardly reached up to gently pat at her newfound sunlit, curiously long and wavy locks. "Yeah, I'd actually just finished doing the last extension not too long ago, and was putting everything back in order when you came in. . . . Don't you like it?"

"Well . . . yeah. I mean, I've just gotten so used to your short, red hair after all these years, that's all," Alexis replied with a small nod, slowly closing the salon's door and heading to the back, where her business's small employee lounge area was to set down her belongings. "Plus, this is pretty much the biggest hair transformation you've ever done - That I've been aware of, at least. Any sort of change you'd do to your hair usually consisted of pulling it back into a ponytail if you didn't cut it even shorter, or putting in a few streaks here and there. I'm honestly impressed with the work, though; it's nice to see that all of those hairstyling tips and lessons I've given you over the years has paid off!"

Lies faintly smirked at this, before passing by the curly haired woman to take a seat upon the black colored couch within the lounge area.

"Yeah, well, you know. I figured, why not? I've always wondered what I'd look like as a blonde . . . and with longer hair, so here it is. It wasn't easy, though, having taken me a pretty long while to finish everything on my own," she said with a light, nonchalant shrug, although her overall demeanor suddenly looked rather uneasy.

At this, Alexis looked up from her purse, after having set it down upon the small coffee table before the new blonde, and smiled warmly before it faded ever so slightly at having then picked up upon the other girl's curious disquiet.

"Oh . . . well, I would have been more than happy to help you with it, you know that. At least now I know where you'd gotten off to so bright and early already this morning. . . . Any . . . particular reason why this couldn't have waited until after work today for me to help you with, or even to have asked me last night, since yesterday had been our day off?"

Alexis already knew that something was up well before Lies had bothered to venture an explanation, or the visible change within her disposition, as the girl had honestly never previously expressed much interest within her hair outside of combing through them with mainly just her fingers, at best.

She just hoped that her young friend would actually be completely forthright with her upon the matter. . . .

Biting her bottom lip momentarily, Lies then let out a slow exhale before bestowing onto Alexis a rather serious stare, which admittedly filled the older woman with immediate discomfort.

". . . . I was . . . honestly hoping that we could have talked about this tonight after work, instead, so then we wouldn't have had to go through the awkwardness which will undoubtedly follow," the shorter young woman began lightly, shakily running a hand through her brand new locks. "But, uh. . . . God, I'd been running this scenario through my head over and over all of last night and this morning - Well, for years, actually, ever since you'd taken me into your home . . . and now that the time has finally come, I'm honestly at a loss for words. . . ."

Alexis, already fearing the worst but wishing not to let it be known to her friend, lest it make the situation more difficult for her, forced a smile as she rested a comforting hand upon Lies's right shoulder.

"Hey, hey . . . whatever it is you have to tell me, you can. You know that I have never judged you in all this time of knowing you, nor ever will," she spoke softly with reassurance, before slowly taking a seat next to the former redhead. "I honestly won't think any differently of you, Lies. . . ."

Her words did not seem to provide much comfort for the stumbling blonde, for Lies then promptly rose to her feet with a harsh exhale, before moving to the small and only window within that room.

"Ugh . . . yeah, see . . . that's the thing, Alexis. Whether you'd mean or want to, I can honestly say that you will think differently of me after this . . . because the 'me' you've always known this whole time isn't real," Lies revealed breathlessly into the window, swallowing hard as she kept her back to her undoubtedly taken aback roommate. "I, uh . . . well, first off, my name isn't 'Lies Doyle.' That's just some random name I'd pulled from off the top of my head in the heat of the moment, on the night that you and I first met. . . . My real name is . . . is Wilhelmina Vandom . . . and I'm also not Canadian at all, but American. . . ."

Alexis sharply gasped within alarm at the unexpected news, as the smaller girl before her resiliently kept her back to her, perhaps out of shame.

"I-I . . . I don't understand. . . . I mean, I always knew that there was definitely more to you than meets the eye, and that whatever you were keeping from me was most likely no little thing. . . . But . . . why are you suddenly deciding to come clean with me now, and after all this time?" she asked, barely above a whisper, as a part of her already had a strong inkling of the answer.

At this, Lies, or rather, Wilhelmina, at last turned back around to face the dark chocolate haired, concerned woman, and sighed heavily.

". . . . Because I'm leaving, Alexis," she replied as delicately as she could, averting her brown eyes for a moment, before returning them onto her visibly crushed boss. "That is . . . I'd honestly never planned on doing all of this in person. . . . I was actually going to just leave you a letter or something, explaining everything, before I just split while you were sleeping or out somewhere, instead. . . .

But I couldn't bring myself to do it. . . . I mean, you've been so good to me and looked after me all this time, without ever once expecting much of anything from me in return, Alexis. . . . And you'd come into my life during a time I'd honestly thought was filled with irreversible darkness and loneliness. . . .

But . . . even though I've settled into this new life of mine, for the most part, at least, and have been . . . happy with you, I suppose . . . I know that I never really can move on and look completely forward, until I go back home and try to make peace about everything. . . . And, I figured, what with my birthday coming up in a couple of days, this would be the per -"

"- W-Wait, what? Your birthday? But, Li – Wilhelmina, your birthday already passed back in September . . . or, did it, really?" Alexis interrupted, her head beginning to spin as she struggled to keep up with everything the blonde was steadily revealing to her.

At this, Wilhelmina curiously began to blush, perhaps with added guilt, before slowly shaking her head.

"No . . . it isn't, Alexis. . . . September twentieth is actually . . . my mother's birthday . . . was my mother's birthday," she informed weakly, her voice barely above a whisper as she'd divulged information about her family for the very first time. "My birthday is actually in January, instead . . . January nineteenth. . . . And . . . it won't be my twentieth, either, but only my eighteenth. . . ."

Alexis was absolutely speechless, unsure of what to say or even think at that present moment. She had always yearned for the young woman she'd honestly looked upon as family to finally open up about herself . . . however, now that she was, and all at once, it was far too much for Alexis to comprehend.

What could have possibly happened within Wilhelmina's sorted past which would compel her to go to such great lengths to mask away every painstaking detail about her true identity?

Alexis was almost afraid to find out. . . .

". . . . I know all of this must be extremely difficult to understand, and for that, I am sorry, Alexis . . . I really am," Wilhelmina continued on, seeing that the coiled locked woman hadn't any intention of speaking again quite yet. "You deserve to know the truth, and I wish that I could tell you every single last detail . . . but you honestly wouldn't believe me even if I'd bothered. . . .

Suffice it to say, however, that . . . right before I'd met you . . . I'd lost my family . . . I guess you could say primarily as a result of the global disaster we'd all experienced at the time. . . .

And I . . . I was feeling pretty messed up inside then, you know? I didn't know what to do anymore or where to turn. . . . I didn't even have my friends to lean on any longer, either, because they . . . they were lost to me, as well. . . .

The only thing I knew for sure at the time was that I did not want to be shoved into some foster home or something, seeing as I was only sixteen at the time, so I . . . I just ran. . . .

I took as much of my personal belongings as I could, and . . . left the only home I'd ever truly known. . . . But . . . I just can't keep allowing myself to be haunted by it all, or by my guilt. I need closure . . . and I think going back for my birthday of all times - Especially when I'm about to enter a new chapter within my life with official adulthood approaching - will be the perfect time for that. . . ."

Momentarily wondering if it also wasn't due to the fact that, soon to be of legal age and therefore untouchable by the court system did not also have to do with Wilhelmina's willingness to return back to the states (although the abrupt change in physical appearance suddenly made a lot more sense, as a clear indication of leftover wariness over the decision), Alexis softly cleared her throat, before at last finding herself able to speak once more.

". . . . Then . . . I'm going with you," she avowed resolutely, not a single doubt over her own decision coursing through her, as she gazed upon the now visibly surprised Wilhelmina with tender understanding.

"W-What? No, Alexis, I can't ask you to do this! Especially since . . . to be honest, I hadn't planned on returning. . . . Not after having put you through so much in all these years," the sunlit haired teenager remarked within protest with a fierce shake of her dyed head.

At this, Alexis stood from her place upon the couch, before slowly approaching her young friend. Hesitating for a brief moment, she then swiftly pulled the other girl into a warm embrace, exhaling against her shoulder with palpable emotion.

". . . . I already had a feeling you hadn't any intention of doing so, as well, especially not after revealing all that you have," she began with a faint sob, as her brilliant brown eyes began to cloud over with unshed tears. "I have always had a strong feeling that you had to have gone through something quite traumatic and emotionally jarring, if you felt you had to keep it all to yourself and guard it so well for so many years, too. . . . But . . . I also always knew that one day . . . one day you would let me in about it. . . . And now that you have, I feel that I should be there with you, to help you see this through to the end. After all, I was technically there for you when it all began, and . . . I'd like to be there for you when you finally put your inner pain to rest. . . . I have never once asked anything of you before, so please . . . at least grant me this. . . ."

Wilhelmina, who had been alternating between awkwardly shifting within the older woman's enfolded arms, and remaining quite tense, at last snaked her own arms around Alexis, evidently no longer able to withhold her traditionally bottled up emotions.

". . . . Thank you . . . for saying all of that, Alexis," the once crimson haired girl shyly spoke, her breath tickling against the taller woman's bare collarbone. "But, what about work? The salon? Who will watch over everything? And all of those clients you had lined up for the next two weeks alone, never mind the rest of this month and the next? I don't honestly know how long this pilgrimage might take. . . ."

Giving Wilhelmina one final squeeze before pulling away from her, Alexis softly chuckled at the overabundance of concern the girl was displaying. It may have been about her career and business on the surface, but Alexis could read in between the lines, and see how much her own personal state of affairs and overall well being truly did mean to the premiere blonde, despite never having ever verbalized it in all of their time together.

It truly warmed Alexis's heart to have realized. . . .

Right when she was about to respond to the younger girl's open concerns, the front door to the hair salon could then be heard being swung open, letting in two of the very individuals Alexis then already had in mind.

"Hello, hello! Good morning, ladies! Sheridan and I brought donuts!"

"Yes, but I told you on the way, Kahleel, that the last time we'd brought some, you and I ended up eating the majority of them! They're my weakness!"

With a tiny smirk shared between Alexis and Wilhelmina over the familiar sound of two of their fellow employees, in addition to their equally familiar playful bickering with one another, the two roommates emerged from the lounge area to properly greet them.

Clearing her throat, Alexis smiled generously as the idea which had already formulated within her mind then trickled from out of her mouth, while a still visibly timid Wilhelmina quietly hung back within the lounge's entranceway.

"Good morning, you two! Say, listen . . . you know how you're always getting after me for a raise? Well, how would you ladies enjoy a promotion?"

- End of Chapter 3

(A.N. I love Alexis; she's so understanding…a little TOO understanding, but hey. She has a 'Jesus Heart,' as I like to call people like her. LoL Now I'm sure a few people may come at me with a few inquiries here and there, so let me address the ones I feel may come up: 1, that's Lies as in "Lees," not Lies as in "Lies." It's actually short for Elisabeth, for those not aware. Besides which, I also thought using it, at least spelling wise, would be a nice touch, so to speak, since Will WAS lying the entire time to Alexis, etc. 2, Yes, that was Will, just in case someone somewhere would be confused, impossibly and curiously so. This version of her is a lot more…well, I wouldn't say 'happy.' More like LESS 'I want to go on a rampage and kill the Oracle, and I hate all humanity!' like how she pretty much is in my Tears of Redemption direct sequel. LoL But then, there's always future chapters in here….

3, seeing as I've always personally viewed Heatherfield and its scenery to be perhaps somewhere within the state of Maine, if you wanted to place Heatherfield within the U.S. at all, that is, Will somehow ending up in Canada, with the name where Alexis lives being made up, by the way, isn't that farfetched. I just wonder how she'd managed to slip in past the border check, although she could have used her magic for all I know/care. LoL Wonder how she and Alexis will get back out. Meh. LoL

And 4, I don't know Will's mother's birthday, and that's just fine with me. So I gave her a September birthday and made both she and Alexis Virgos, because, well, I like Virgos. LoL My mommy's a Virgo, with her nurturing self. HeHe 'Nuff said.

Anyway, I still would have liked Mel to come back to finish this up, herself, but I think I'm not doing too bad a job in maintaining her vision and what she'd had in mind for each chapter. Did I mention I want to squeeze Alexis for being so 'Jesus Heart'-ish, there? LoL

Yeah! Stay tuned for chapter four, I guess!)