Title: Red Fades Before Blue
Summary: When you don't know who you are, how can know what you want?
Rating: M / NC-17
Pairing: Alice / Leah
Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight and all its characters. I own the girl love. No copyright infringement intended.
"I don't know why red fades before blue, it just does" -Ani diFranco
"If my memory serves me correctly" is such an elegant, yet casual figure of speech.
Unfortunately, I can't use it, because I know mine doesn't.
So, I deal in the present. Tonight is turning out to be pretty much like all the other nights here since I can remember, which admittedly, it isn't all that long.
The bar is heaving with sweaty humanity. It's dimly lit and oppressive, sullen rock screaming from the jukebox. I know the song, I think. I've seen two fights already – proper fights, not just scuffles, but painfully contorted limbs, blood, probably broken bones. The crowd of predominately male biker-types all look kind of pissed-off. Eat or be eaten, I guess.
Like I said, just the same kind of shit as every night in here. I'm growing used to it.
It's getting late, maybe nearing eleven. Everyone's already looking halfway or further to fucked up on their own brands of poison. Everyone except me, that is. I'm seated alone at a corner table with my drink and a cigarette – they keep telling me it's banned, but I really don't give a fuck. The beer bottle of some unfortunate soul is serving as my ashtray, while I drink soda water. I'm pretty sure by now that alcohol is somehow linked to the forgetting, so if I want to smoke, I will.
Certainties are scarce for me, but I know at least one thing for sure: not a single one of these evil-looking fuckers in here will mess with me.
They all know I've got issues – each of them, down to the last man. That's why I can get away with wearing a blood-red, floor-length satin gown and high-heeled Doc Martins like I am tonight, purely for shits and giggles. The dress was on a polystyrene mannequin in the window of the costume shop next door until late this afternoon, and it shows off the sleeve of tatts on my left arm nicely. I extend my arms in front of me for the millionth time, lacing my fingers, admiring the artwork. I love these tattoos, at least. Which is kind of reassuring, because they're inked on my skin.
I guess I must have had good taste in my previous incarnation, whomever I was. It's a comfort of sorts, liking the marks on my body that I found when I woke up with my head on the bar over there – kind of like a connection to the forgotten me.
The thing is, I have no idea what I like or don't like until it's presented to me, because I have absolutely no idea who I am.
I'm unsure if I'm sweet, fundamentally a bitch, or if I liked teddy bears as a kid. I don't know if I was a fucking vegan. I have no clue if I had a boyfriend, a family, if I wanted world peace, or was an anarchist. I don't know if I've ever been in love, had my heart broken, or damaged someone else's. But mostly, I wonder if I'm capable of caring about anyone or anything at all.
I sure as hell don't now.
For want of any better way to live, I live here, and act purely on instinct. I'm aware that it's a strange existence, living my life through a staccato series of often unconnected whims. I yearn for something else, some faceless unknown thing. In the absence of knowing what that is, I figure that I have to trust my wits, so I'm a self-serving creature who does exactly what she wants. And here, they let me.
Truth be told, I'm not even completely sure what the deal is with the strange hold I seem to have over the people in this place, because of the blackouts. All these grown-ass scary dudes will tell me when I ask, shifting on their feet and glancing at me sideways, is that the only rival biker bar in town was recently shut down – because of me.
Because of me, and the small matter of a visit I made there one evening, accompanied by a bottle of Jack and a samurai sword.
I've gleaned that there was some kind of blood feud between James' bar and this place that had gotten progressively uglier. One night soon after I showed up here, it seems that I went over there and put on quite a show, all to clear my bar tab back here with Aro. The very next day, James and his crew left town, leaving Aro as undisputed king around these parts.
True facts, apparently. When I woke up afterwards, I quickly learned that some kind of loyalty code means that I enjoy seemingly indefinite protection because of it.
So, my life has acquired its cadence. Ever since the... incident, days spent sleeping rotate into nights where I sit here each evening like some type of untouchable mascot. It's an uneasy truce. Nobody knows where I came from and I can't help them out with that. Mostly, I feel like a lion, living with a pack of wolves – but the truth is, I've got nowhere else to go.
I didn't have any ID on me when I woke here but I'm certain that I know my name. I can't go to the authorities, because the only one of my past actions of any note that I'm aware of is my little performance in the other bar. Self-preservation warns me that just might be indicative of my previous track record, but another part of me wants to think not. I know at some point I'll have to face things, but for now, I'm treading water.
And that's why I'm sat at this table in the corner with everyone avoiding me, when this joker sits right down, opposite me. Well, this is different.
"Hi," he says, "I'm Mike."
I stare across into baby-blue eyes. He's wearing a fashionable plaid shirt and a big smile underneath immobile gelled blond hair. His face is... nice. He doesn't belong here. Occasionally, people like this slip in under the radar and it usually doesn't end well for them. Aro and Cai obviously haven't noticed him, but I'm in a funny mood, so I decide to engage with him rather than turn him over to the wolves. I can experiment with bullshit, smalltalk convo, I reason. I might have been expert at it once, for all I know.
I light another cigarette. I'm humoring him pleasantly enough when he suddenly downs his beer and fixes me with an intense stare.
"So, wanna fuck?"
I tip my head to one side while I allow my brain to process his words and smile, displaying my teeth.
"Excuse me?" My tone sounds polite in my ears.
He smirks, still staring. "You heard me. You're sexy as hell." His eyes are unashamedly roving my body, clad in the red satin gown. I realize he's slurring his words slightly as he tries again.
"You've got this... energy. Wanna fuck?"
I take a long pull on my cigarette.
I'm still smiling as I lean in, really slowly, towards him. His smirk spreads when I exhale a white plume of smoke, directly into his face. Dumbass. The smoke clears, and his expression seems to melt as I squeeze the hand I have extended under the table and around his balls.
Oh, yeah – my nails are painted blood-red to match my dress. And I've filed them into points.
The taste of my smile turns sickly-sweet as I run my tongue along my upper lip. Our faces are inches apart.
He nods uncertainly, staring at my mouth.
I squeeze harder. Really hard. I'm smiling at his now-crumpled face when I speak again.
"Okay, sunshine. Get up, turn around, walk away. Leave the bar. Really calm. There are things a lot worse than me in here tonight, but right now, I'm all you need to worry about."
So Mike obeys without a word. He pushes out from the sticky table and stumbles away, accidentally banging into two guys fighting as he goes, getting spun around. He looks like someone's about to bite him as he heads hurriedly to towards the exit and disappears into the crowd. I settle back down in my seat and inspect my glossy nails.
He won't come back here.
It's obviously a night for lost lambs because it's only about an hour later when a second unlikely candidate barrels in, pushing her way through the bodies to stop uncertainly a few feet away from where I'm seated.
Even in the muted light, I can see straight into her, through her eyes.
Pain. She's in pain.
I blink in sudden discomfort. For some reason, I find that I care.
She's beautiful; like – really beautiful. A dark beauty. Her black tee exposes bare, tan arms. Black jeans, damp sneakers. I note the lack of purse or jacket, even though I can tell it's still snowing outside because traces of white are melting in her black hair.
There's a break in the music as two mouth-breathing idiots argue over song choice at the jukebox.
Suddenly, she's blinking in the silence, clasping one slim arm to her ribs and looking around like she's just woken up to find herself here. I did that, once. She looks scared, but she's trying to hide it.
I normally pay little attention to anything much but I can't stop myself from staring. I watch as two guys at the bar nudge each other, then quietly slip off their stools.
She's frozen. I can see it as they make their approach on either side of her, both leering like she's something to eat. The dude on her right – I think his name's Felix – he should really know better. The last woman he messed with in here ended up dropping charges at the last minute, but the cops don't like him anyway because he's a mean-looking motherfucker.
They've reached her. Just as the other guy, Alec, leans in close to her neck – did the sick bastard just sniff her? - the music roars again and she jumps.
Her eyes widen, and then Alec takes it too far. He touches her. She takes a step backward but I'm already out of my chair. I've found I can move pretty fast when I want to, heels or no.
"Hello, ladies." My words sound pleasant but Alec and Felix know me better.
The beauty's looking wary. I see her glance down, taking in the dress and the tats. I've obviously forgotten what a fucking bag of assorted nuts I must look like in this place – incongruous probably doesn't even begin to cover it.
"What do you want, Alice?" Alec's tone is cautious, though I can tell he's trying for badass.
"I want you and your little friend... out. Now. Get." I jerk my head sharply towards the entrance, meeting his eyes; they're bulging just a little and he's working his jaw. He clearly wants to punch my mouth or slit my throat or something equally painful but he can't touch me. It's amusing to watch so I lean in close to his face, just to be provocative.
"Boo," I say lightly.
His eyes flash, but he smacks Felix across the shoulder blades, mumbling.
"C'mon, man. S'go... People here... Fucking crazy..."
Aro has come in from the door. I know immediately he'll be intrigued to see I'm standing up and interacting with people and I'm right: he notices right away and starts to wander towards us, casually exuding menace. Heidi jumps up from where she's been waiting patiently near the entrance, trailing after him like an adoring pet that doesn't know if it's going to get stroked or kicked but craves the attention regardless.
Another thing I've discovered about myself is that I'm really good at reading people – and outcomes, I can get outcomes – but what I'm trying to focus on here is shifting, flickering. Barely noticing Felix and Alec scuttling away, I stare at her eyes. As Aro and Heidi make their approach, I see the same flickering mirrored there.
She says nothing, but her chest is rising and falling erratically beneath the tee as Aro saunters up. He stands beside her in the space recently vacated by Felix, also leaning in too close to her neck. My fingers twitch imperceptibly. Aro is a much worse prospect than roaches of Alec and Felix's breed, because in addition to being an incontrovertibly sick fuck, he's actually intelligent.
He murmurs, "Alice," to me, then turns his face to her. Way too close.
"Are you lost, beautiful?" His tone is silken and ugly.
"I'm not lost. This is a bar, am I right? I've come in for a drink." She raises her chin and meets Aro's eye squarely.
I catch myself admiring her, but fuck. She clearly has no idea how dangerous these folks actually are.
He throws back his head, laughing. "Yes, pretty thing. It's a bar. But you're definitely lost." I can tell he's amused. I've found that when Aro's amused, he gets turned on, and that's when bad shit tends to happen.
"Aro, back the fuck off." My voice is calm. Mainly, I'm surprised to hear myself talking. "She's with me."
Heidi snickers behind Aro's shoulder. "What do you mean, she's with you?"
She has a point; I don't know anyone outside of this place.
"What I said, Heidi." My eyes shoot hers the most cursory of looks before raising to the beauty's. They're still unreadable, beyond the pain as I address her.
"Hey. You're fucking late, by the way. C'mon, I'll buy you a drink."
The untruth sounds so natural as it slips from my mouth. Aro's cool eyes become speculative and I can tell that both he and Heidi suddenly aren't so sure that I haven't been waiting for this strange girl to arrive tonight, however unlikely it might seem.
I spin on my heels, stalking over to the bar and sitting down there without turning around again.
I know that she's followed; I can feel her behind me. And smell her. She's wearing perfume – spicier, muskier than regular, saccharine girl stuff. It smells familiar somehow and it's making my breath catch in my chest, filling it up with unique feeling. Indigo. She smells like the color indigo. Extending a leg without looking around, I kick out the stool next to me.
"What are you drinking?"
She slides in beside me uncertainly and a strange glimmer of blue light in my peripheral vision prompts me to turn my head. The scent grows even more discernible as she raises the lost dark eyes to mine. I blink.
"I don't..." The eyes flicker again; her jaw raises slightly, then she nods briefly. "Scotch."
Jane is leaning behind the bar, watching us with brazen curiosity. I look at her and hold up two fingers. She pops a bubble on her gum and raises a surprised eyebrow, but still picks up two glasses and hands me a bottle without a word.
"I don't, either," I say to her, ignoring Jane's stare as I take the bottle. "So, yes. Scotch."
The liquid is splashing in the two glasses when I'm caught by her reflection in the mirror that runs the length behind the bar. She's taller than me by a few inches, but my heels to her sneakers made up for that when we were standing. My eyes focus past her to Aro and Heidi, heads together, looking over at us in interest. After a moment Aro walks away, but turns one more time and our gazes meet in the glass. I'll protect her in this place. I hold his eyes for around thirty seconds before he suddenly breaks into laughter I can't hear from this distance and walks off, presumably to check on the door staff.
Picking up my glass, I twist my body towards her. She looks ethereal under the blue neon glowing from behind the bottles at the bar, and I want her.
I want her.
Shock courses through me and I splutter on the drink I've jut taken a sip of.
She looks at me, startled. Our eyes lock.
The music's still loud over here, but it's a little easier to hear. People are being served at both ends of the bar. I don't know if she's noticed the wide berth we're being given – nobody's standing directly on either side of us. It's as though there is an invisible field around us, or, more precisely, around me.
Jane's hovering. Ripping my eyes away with effort from the beauty's dark ones, I turn my head, very deliberately, and fix Jane with a stare. She's wearing an AC/DC teeshirt, way too much eyeliner and those crimson contacts again. She looks defiantly back at me for all of two seconds before the red irises waver and she turns around with a huff, stomping over to a customer.
My eyes hastily seek the beauty's again. "You are lost," I say, at a volume I'm not sure she'll hear. "Something happened tonight."
They cloud, then close. Her slender arm is pressing her ribs again as though the pain I saw in her eyes is physical, but I think not.
"Sam. My... Sam." Her words sound faraway and disconnected from her, like she can't believe they are hers.
"I just got off my shift... I was early, for once. I walked in and found her– " she exhales shakily and for one insane moment, I think she's going to say found her dead.
"I found her... with my cousin," she continues, monotone. "Emily. Together. They were together. In my bed. Our bed."
She's picked up her drink and she's looking down at her hands around it, seeing something entirely different to the smeared glass there and I grip the side of my seat, hard, to stop myself reaching across and touching her, but she keeps on talking.
"...And the stupid thing is, I just knew. I knew all along it was happening, from the minute Emily came to visit from the reservation."
Native American. Of course.
She falls silent, her fingers drum against the side of her glass uncomfortably. It's plain that she's questioning what the hell she's doing here, why she's talking to me.
She needs to forget.
Like me, I suddenly think, glancing up from her hands around the glass to her face. Her skin is matte under the blue light; it's flawless. My eyes trace back downwards over her body briefly and I shock myself again by how badly I want to reach out and touch it. She's so close. I want to run my hands under her tee. I don't think she's wearing a bra... What the fuck, Alice. I clear my throat.
"Listen. It's pretty obvious that you've had a shock tonight... But this is not a good place for you to be. These people are..." I wave my hand around indiscriminately. "Not good people," I finish, lamely.
The defiant tilt to her chin is back and I'm sensing it's a habit.
"You should probably go," I continue reluctantly. Please stay with me.
"I want to stay. And drink." The dark eyes find mine again. "With you."
Something in my chest clenches, then releases. I'm feeling something. I'm feeling. I knock back the drink in front of me incredulously. Her eyes widen momentarily, then she shrugs and does the same.
I smile at her. "If you're sure... I can help you forget," I say simply. "If you want. For tonight." Picking up the bottle, I slosh about a quarter of the contents between our glasses, then swivel around on my stool to face her.
"Yes." Her eyes are huge, limpid, acquiescent. I blink. She wants to stay with me.
I can only stare back in amazement, and pick up my glass as my chest fills to overflowing with something unnamed.
We drink, in a kind of ritualistic, companionable silence. I pour, I down mine, she downs hers. Repeat. As the level of amber liquid in the bottle decreases, our proximity increases.
A bumped shoulder, a brushed hand, a half-glance. Her hair is so black, it's shining iridescent blue, like a crow, or a raven. I want to touch her, so badly, but I won't. My mind is filled with alcoholic vapour and indigo.
Then she reaches out.
I shiver as her hand traces across the flowering inked thorns that twine around my wrist. The touch is light, but it's burning. She lifts her eyes. Those dark eyes again, speaking to me in place of the missing words.
And finally, she's the one to break through the filmy silence that's built up in the noisy bar. "Do you want to go somewhere else?"
Yes, I do. As long as you're there.
I smile at her across the blue liquid haze that's shimmering in the space between us and glancing off her skin. Maybe I've always been lucky? "I stay here, upstairs. Let's go there."
The black eyes glimmer, but it's not with surprise. Picking up the bottle, which is practically empty, we both stand.
When we push through the double doors marked Staff Only leading upwards to the office and small apartment above, we fall against each other in the dark before they've even swung to a close.
Neither of us is more forceful, our enthusiasm is perfectly matched. My hands glide along her waistband, contacting the warmth underneath like I've been longing to and her fingers are twisting in my hair; her lips press against mine. I'm drowning in the indigo scent now, gasping and choking as my palms drag over the satin skin they've found, smoothing up her sides beneath her clothing, tracing the swell of her breasts and across her nipples, which pebble at the touch. No bra. I sigh into her mouth.
Suddenly, she breaks the kiss and is gazing at me again, but the pain's been replaced by something else; something that makes my insides turn molten. I take her hand in mine and lead her quickly up the stairs.
Her neck is bent, shoulder blades splayed across the door to the apartment at the top of the stairs. I push my satin-covered body against her and run my tongue along her upper lip as I fumble with the key in the lock. She lets out a moan, grinding her pelvis into mine, as desperate as I am to find some friction – craving contact, to relieve the burning and the want that's been building steadily since the first faltering touch. The door swings open and we stagger inwards, our lips never parting, tongues entwined.
We're connected – literally, because her tongue is gently exploring my mouth and my hands are snaking beneath her the waistband of her jeans, reaching down inside her panties. I'm desperate to slip between her thighs and feel her wetness and her heat, but it's more. I feel connected to her. I want to fuck her, yes – I'm going to fuck her, but I want to know her, too.
And I'm finding that wanting her is somehow helping me to know myself.
I'm beside myself with greed for her. She's showing me what I like – exactly what I like, because she's here, and I'm suddenly certain that she's the embodiment of What I Like. More that that – she's showing me what I want and what I need. She's revealing a part of who I am, and I'm fucking surprised and elated and turned on.
Slender fingers push my gown from my shoulders. It slithers down my body to the floor and she lets out a gasp then bites her lip. I'm naked underneath, standing in the six-inch heels and nothing else.
Finally, she's smiling. She inclines her beautiful head towards my body and I sigh again. Her lips touch my nipple, her tongue gently licking as she sucks it delicately into her mouth. My hand runs reflexively up along her spine, over her neck and up to fist in the silken dark hair.
I want her. This is what I want. This is who I am.
The door is still open. I kick it closed with my foot and as I turn back around, I see the black teeshirt go over her head and land next to my dress on the floor. My breath catches again at the sight of her. Bare, dark skin, suffused in the blue light that's pouring from her, haloing outwards as I stare in wonder, craving, longing.
I take a step closer and sweep a hand across her ribs, down over her hipbone and around to her ass. It's high and full and the silky feel of its firmness under my palm makes my pussy start to throb with an unbearable, delectable ache. I can feel the wetness coating the very tops of my thighs at the touch of her and I need to taste, as well as see and feel. I need. I want.
We're a tangling mass of limbs in motion as we tumble awkwardly sideways, over to the bed. She gives me a gentle push and I fall backwards onto it. I'm panting, actually fucking panting, with need and want and desire as I watch her pop the button on her jeans. She tugs them hurriedly down her perfect legs until she's standing in nothing but a tiny black thong. Climbing on the bed, she straddles me, a curtain of dark hair hanging down around her face, arms braced on either side of my ribs. I'm wet. I'm so wet, and ready for her, I can't stand it. She's lean, and smooth, and dark, and everything I want. I reach up, cupping the softness of her breasts in my hands, sweeping a thumb over each taughtened nipple. I smile when she sighs, full lips parted, hanging open.
The black eyes are staring into mine through the blueness and I'm drowning in the haze and the heat and then she's kissing me.
Our mouths taste of whiskey but it's her I want to taste, to lick and kiss her in the sweetest spot that's calling me. Sliding my hands down from her tits, over her ribs until they're resting on her hips, I slowly exert pressure until she understands what I want from her.
In a graceful movement, she slides her beautiful body forwards, over mine through the blue mist, resting her forearms on the bed near the pillows until she's so close to me that I can smell the sweetness and feel her heat on my face. I'm too far gone to remove her panties – I need to taste her right now – so I slip them to one side with a finger, then slide a hand around her inner thigh. She moans, then gasps, as my other hand gently parts her lips and I sweep my tongue in a tentative movement across her dripping pussy, then swirl it more boldly over her already swollen clit.
She bucks, groaning in pleasure. "Yes. Please. More."
I give her what she wants; it's what I want, too. I lick and kiss and suck her beautiful honeyed sweetness, revelling in the taste of her. The indigo scent is more pronounced than ever here as I hold her ass and thigh while she thrusts her hips with me, begging me not to stop, begging me for more.
I give her more, because I want it even more than she does, and I'm flying inside because I want something – someone – I really fucking want her and right now, she wants me too. She suddenly cocks up her hips, flipping herself deftly around on the bed above me, parting my thighs and eagerly pushing her own pussy back down towards my waiting mouth.
I graze my teeth lightly against her and gasp as she buries her face in me. She squirms and groans, I utter unintelligible words against her heat as her tongue makes a pass through my wet pussy to lick the most sensitive spot. A light shower of electric sparks starts to rain down on my body, each time her tongue finds my clit, but I concentrate on her as much as I can – rhythmically stroking her wet, hot, sweetness with my tongue.
I'm consumed with want - I want to feel her come more than I want to breathe. She's shaking and trembling, her legs are bucking around me and she's grinding her hips into my face, chanting her acquiescence over and over. The word yes sounds musical in my ears as I stroke my hand across her beautiful ass, pressing the tip of my tongue against her clit one final time. She convulses against my mouth and I feel it as her orgasm takes over her, crying out.
I don't stop, dropping light kisses all over her pussy and her inner thighs as she continues to shudder.
Her mouth is suddenly frenzied against me. The electrical rain grows hotter, more intense and painful and exquisite with each lick and kiss and suck. She slides two fingers inside me and I gasp. I feel myself tighten around her as she starts to pump them rhythmically until my legs are twitching of their own accord. The sparks shower down on my skin. Molten lava rips through me in delicious, maddening waves as she plays with my pussy and licks me at the same time.
It feels so good.
It feels so good.
And then I'm coming against her tongue and around her fingers, bucking and gasping, choking out my thanks . A single tear is cold at the corner of my eye. She sinks down onto the bed next to me, scooting around until we face each other, panting.
I kiss her lips again. She smells of me as well as her now, it suits her. I wish I could tell her how beautiful she is and how grateful I am for what she's shown me tonight, but instead I put my mouth to her shoulder and bury my nose against her warm neck to breathe in the indigo. I close my eyes, briefly floating away.
As she pulls on her tee again one second or one lifetime later, I raise myself up with effort onto my elbow. She sits next to me on the bed and runs a tentative finger along my tattooed sleeve.
"Can I see you again?"
Her words sound distant. I'm falling into blackness, but I circle the heavy arm around her waist one more time.
"Come back any time," I say through the mist. "Come back soon. I'll be here."
She leans down to me, dropping a kiss into my hair and I hear her whisper as the bed creaks.
"I never expected... Thank you for tonight."
She's nearly gone.
"Wait..." My voice is slurred and foreign-sounding in my ears. "What's your name?"
Her hand stills on the doorframe, she half-turns. Her profile is breathtakingly beautiful, I think hazily. Must remember. She's all blue now, bathed in blue light...
"Leah. I'm Leah."
I smile, but my head is leaden and my eyes are closing already as it drops back down to the bed.
In the last instant of consciousness, all I do is hope that she'll come back, to re-tell me what she's helped me to learn again tonight.
Tomorrow, I won't remember.