disclaimer: disclaimed.
dedication: to Lian and Acey.
notes: I should be sleeping right now.
notes2: this um. probably doesn't make too much sense. just saying.

title: drop dead gorgeous
summary: A one-way ticket to hell. — Alto/Sheryl.






He found her sitting in front of a café on a Monday, stirring half-melted ice around the bottom of an empty tumbler. She didn't raise her head.

Sky above, she looked half-dead.

The thing about Sheryl Nome was that she pretty much defied every single possible explanation Alto could ever come up with. She wasn't like other girls; not like Ranka, not like Nanase. She was stranger, both louder and softer and angrier. Bitterer.

If that was even a word.

There was a fury simmering just beneath her skin. The pandering, probably, Alto thought—her entire life, people had always bowed and tugged at their forelocks, bent over backwards to help her when she hadn't wanted it in the first place.

And so when he found her sitting in front of this stupid café, sitting all alone, Alto couldn't help but set down next to her, raise an eyebrow, and ask the question that had been bothering him for days.

"What are you doing here?"

"That's a stupid question. What does it look like I'm doing?" she asked, like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

The clink of ice against glass was loud in his ears. Alto watched her fingers slide along the rim, slick like warm oil, and the condensation like diamonds down the side. Afternoon sun sank into her hair to turn her burnished gold. And she blazed with it, sharp and staccato. But beautiful, too, wreathed in fire and wrecked on the inside.

Sheryl Nome was lucky, they always said.

Except when she wasn't.

Alto didn't say that, though, because she probably would have poured juice all over him. She was sort of unforgiving like that. And so he sat next to her in the dying sunlight and tried not to register that the only thing he ever heard anymore was her voice. From the telescreens and the prompters, it was all Sheryl, all the time. She was a requiem playing in the back of his head even when he really wished she would just shut the fuck up.

But of course she wouldn't.

"Looks like you're lonely," he offered. It was stupid, but it was all he could come up with on the spot.

Sheryl blinked at him for a solid thirty seconds, blue eyes wide behind big sunglasses. They swallowed her face and off-set her sun-orange hair. Alto waited for the fall-out, trying not to wince.

She threw her head back, and she laughed.

"You're a strange princess, you know?"

Alto could have said a lot of things, like yes or maybe or haven't I told you not to call me that or anything, really.

But he didn't. He just looked at her, and her lonely eyes. The purchase in them was subtle and maybe already half-forgotten, but he'd bought a one-way ticket to hell the second he'd sat down and there was no going back now.

There had probably been no going back ever.

"You're stranger," Alto muttered.

He didn't say bitterer, but that was what he meant.

Sheryl braced her chin against her hand as she looked at him, tipped her head, sighed soft and slow. "Yeah, probably."

Like she'd read the words in his head.

Like he didn't have to say anything.

Alto figured that was probably about as good as he was going to get out of her, and he didn't really have much to say. It was just hard. She looked so sad.

(What a pretty princess.)

They sat in silence. Sheryl's ice had all but melted away and evaporated up into the closed atmosphere. The sky was so low, that day. The sky was always so low.

"Hey," she murmured.


"Thanks," and then a pause. "For… whatever that was. The encouragement."

Alto shrugged. "Don't worry about it."

Sheryl Nome—Galactic Fairy, pop culture icon, princess of all the lands (because who was she kidding, she was the princess in this fucked up little corner of Neverland, not him)—smiled.

"It's okay," she said. "I won't."