an; Oh well, another one-shot I couldn't help but write. The title is a Black Keys song from their album 'brother' – it was my main soundtrack as I wrote this, as well as Beirut's Gulag Orkestar. Recommended listening.

an2;. A big fat thank you to Air for the beta-ing and the sharp opinions; she is just great.

(edit) an3; Updating because REE MADE ME A COVER. I'M SO EXCITED! You can see it full and big and pretty on my Tumblr.


EVERLASTING LIGHT


I try to imagine a careless life: a scenic world where the sunsets are all breathtaking

Beirut – Scenic World

I

She looks at you with drive and intent. She takes you everywhere and you let her, because you're fascinated by her intensity.

She knows everyone and she takes you to bars and concerts and exhibits. You're just a dancer; you don't know that much or that many. You're not like her, who seems to know every worthy guitarist and talented drummer in the city.

Her body traps yours against a wall and her mouth is on your neck; you try to remember the creation of the Earth or the French Revolution, but it all vanishes when she presses against you and she's warm and soft and her teeth sink into your skin. You say her name and you cling to her, fisting a handful of her hair to keep her where she's at.

She's always on fire and she always wants you. You worry someone might come in, but you're backstage in a secured area and her fingers are working on the buttons of your shirt; you're shivering.

You might be falling for her; you don't know. Her mouth meets yours; her hips also meet yours. You're out of breath and her tongue is swirling against yours. She smiles against you. You might be falling.

II

"I like the way you move" is the first thing she says to you the first time you meet.

She's someone's friend, so she sits at the table with the dancers and mingles like she's known everyone forever. You sit by her side without thinking twice about it; she looks right into your eyes with surprising clarity. "I'm Santana," she says, and you nod.

She pays for your second drink like there is nothing you could do about it. She's funny and charming and her hair runs wild and black. The director arrives and places a hand on her shoulder; they seem like old friends.

You wonder where she came from and what she does for a living, but the audience's loud cheer after your performance still buzzes in your ears and after a few mojitos you keep forgetting to ask her.

She takes your hand and traces her fingers over you palm. "My grandmother taught me," she swears. "I will read your palm for free." You accept because you're curious, and she tells you you're from a small family, you're horrible at managing money and you fall in love too deep, sometimes. She's got her predictions right; you look at her wide eyed and now you owe her a drink.

She winks at you and says, "maybe another time".

III

She doesn't own a car and this feels strangely right, in sync with her freedom and the little weight she carries. She always wears the same leather jacket and the same silver ring; it gives you familiarity and you start to crave for the smell of old leather and her perfume like they were the same.

"I'm struggling," she says, counting her change to make sure she has enough money for a sandwich.

You eat with her in a small diner at 3am; it's cold outside and your stomach growls in anticipation for the omelet you ordered.

You try to remember how it felt before her and late night hidden snacks, but it doesn't come to mind. The coffee tastes like old newspaper, but the omelet is decent enough; she eats her sandwich like Zeus himself prepared it and you grow even more attached to her.

IV

You finally buy her that drink you had promised when you meet her at a friend's concert.

She takes the beer from your hands and your fingers brush for a moment; she gestures to the empty seat beside her and you sit down. The bar is crowded and your friend rocks the bass; you stay there quietly, sipping your beer and savoring the music. Her free arm rests on the back of your chair, but you don't mind.

"You should give me your number," she finally says. "So I can take you out sometime."

You have a boyfriend named Artie; he's really sweet and he's getting a college degree in Economics. You try to think of him and how his hand feel tangled with yours, but the drums are too loud and you can't remember.

V

She takes you to a private party; the place is filled with wine and musicians. "I thought you'd appreciate the view," she says as she takes you by the hand. You're high up above in this building, but when you get to the balcony and New York stands at your feet, bright lights and a cold breeze, you're in awe.

You don't let go of her hand. "It's falling in love with New York all over again, isn't it?" She asks you and you nod.

You end up kissing her there, six minutes later. You love kissing; but this, with New York beneath you, trapping her body against the balcony, is sublime. You tug at her jacket and she wraps her arms around your waist. She runs her nails along your back until you're whimpering; she takes advantage of it to deepen the kiss.

It's the kiss of a lifetime.

VI

She never asks if you're in a relationship. She sees you when she wants to see you, and sometimes you kiss and hold hands; she never pressures you for more. She takes you to shows and pubs and tiny places such as an underground bar that every Tuesday has a killer saxophonist performing.

You love the places she takes you to and you love to hear her talk. She has strong opinions on music and the impact of Ella Fitzgerald to neo jazz and she worships all things Nina Simone.

You don't tell her about Artie, and you don't think of him when she's with you. She's tender, kissing your knuckles and rubbing the back of your hand with her thumbs distractedly. You get used to seeing her after a performance and do whatever; sometimes you go out with the dancers, sometimes you want it to be just you and her, and sometimes she just walks you home.

VII

You only get what's the big deal about musicians when you see her in the studio recording. She's focused, her left hand touching the headphone and her eyes closing for the chorus. There's this woman, Mercedes Jones; Santana smiles at her with competitiveness when they sing together. They're like soul and jazz meets rhythm and blues and have two love-children of tanned skin and wide vocal range; you're charmed.

They take a break; as the band leaves the room to smoke a cigarette or two, she goes to you and she asks for your opinion. You tell her how great she sounds and she smiles as she sits on the couch beside you.

She kisses your knuckles and you're happy you're there. It's your day off and you spend it sitting on the couch, listening to her and daydreaming. From time to time she comes to you and gives you long kisses.

VIII

Mercedes Jones wants to buy you both a cosmopolitan; her weave is flawless and her laugh is clear and sincere, so you accept it. The toast goes to success and talent, and Santana's arm is around your waist. It feels good and your life feels balanced.

You tell Mercedes you don't sing; you just dance. It's what you have been doing since forever. She can see you in music videos, if she pays attention. But right now, you're in a local company doing a show.

"You should see her," Santana says as she finishes her drink. Your mouth tastes sweet and your heart still flutters when she traces her fingers on your side.

IX

Artie becomes past history sooner than later. He can't really catch up to Santana; the more time passes the less you think of him and the more you wait for her to call.

He's smart; he's noticing how far away you are. When you tell him you need a break he looks like he's expecting it. He says you were always too good and too much for a guy like him, and he hopes you can remain friends.

When he's ready, he'll come back. You hope so. He always was a great friend. You watch him go with sadness and expectation; you'll miss him in your life.

X

She's wearing a black fedora hat and she's holding your hand in October; you initiate a kiss on the doorsteps of your building. "When you kiss me I wonder why I've ever bothered to kiss anyone but you," she tells you and it would be too much if it wasn't so sincere.

She's really one of a kind, and you want her all the time. You take her to your apartment; your roommate's already sleeping and you close the door quietly so you won't disturb her. Your bedroom's curtains aren't closed; the moonlight allows you to make out the shapes in your room.

She takes off her coat and hat; she looks at you like she's waiting. You take your coat and your shirt off and she walks to the side of your bed in silence. She stands before you and she touches your stomach, your upper ribs, around your belly; you hold your breath.

She kisses you and you cling at her shirt; you want to feel her skin against your palm. She lets you, and she's not wearing a bra; you trace the underside of her breasts with your thumb and you hear her hiss.

Your knees hit the bed and you sit; she kneels before you. She goes to your neck, and you can feel your blood warming when she sucks and bites and does whatever she wants. You cup her breasts and she arches against you, nails against your back and a muffled moan against your ear.

XI

Sometimes she disappears for days at a time. "I just needed to be away for a while" is all the explanation she gives when she shows up at your tiny apartment, a bag on one shoulder. You're standing at your door, and maybe you shouldn't ask her in. "But then I missed your laugh," she says, and she takes a step closer.

You did miss her, and having her around, someone to wait for you after a show, someone who never says no to anything you come up with. She tugs at your sweater to pull you closer and you can't resist diving your hands in her hair.

Her bag falls to the ground with a light thud and you close the door behind her. "You make sense," she says to you right before your lips meet; you hum in her mouth because you understand.

XII

She crashes on your bed for days; she takes so little space you barely notice. Her clothes remain in her bag and she has a kit with toothpaste, a toothbrush and two small bottles of shampoo and conditioner in your bathroom: it's all.

Your roommate is still out of town, anyway.

She has a few old books she's always re-reading when you're not home. When you arrive, she's wearing one of your pajama pants and she's on your bed; you want her to stay there. "Welcome home," she tells you as you lie on top of her and kiss her sweetly.

"I have a gig tomorrow," she breathes out. "You should come." It's the first time she's invited you to anything of hers, so you kiss her again.

XIII

She's making tea when Tina arrives from an indie festival in Seattle. Tina sits and eats a slice of cake and drinks herbal tea; Santana grabs the suitcase next to the couch and takes it to Tina's room. "Rest," she tells Tina.

She charms Tina as well, and Tina doesn't complain about Santana's quasi-move in. Tina's quiet, generally, but she talks for two hours about her trip; it's like Santana has always been there.

You don't know much about indie festivals and their subgenres and subcultures, but you know Tina's voice is melodic and melancholic and she could be great, someday. She gives Santana one of her demos and this big gesture of trust is so easy you're impressed.

XIV

She takes on the microphone and she makes it hers; it's amazing. When she looks your way, you think to yourself she knows you're there and she's looking straight at you. Tina is there too, and she's wearing that specific frown that means she's really appreciating a song.

Your chest swells with pride and happiness for her.

You stick around for the whole show; you know she's watched more than her fair share of your performances and it's nothing but fair that you do the same. You're so focused on her that the beer you're holding gets warm.

Tina laughs at you like she understands how deep you're falling. You blush.

XV

She kisses you breathless after the show. You like this desperation and adrenaline that comes over her. You like how she takes you to the first empty room she can find and doesn't even wait for your compliments. She's all tongue and teeth, kissing you hard and strong; no one's made you feel this desired before. You grab her ass to pull her closer; she growls and bites your lower lip.

Her thigh goes between yours and you really can't breathe; you can just beg for more friction and hold on to her. The low tone she uses to say your name makes you moan, and she's soon cupping you through your jeans and your hips are moving against her.

"You have to be really quiet," she tells you when she opens your zipper so she can finally touch you. Your head hits the door and your mouth is half open; you're ready and she's inside. She curses immediately; her voice is shaky. She muffles your moans in her mouth until you're trembling against her.

XVI

"I got a place to stay," she tells you when the bar is closing and you're almost dozing off. It's only then you notice she has her bag with her. You liked having her around and somewhere in your brain you weren't expecting her to leave. You never discussed it with her, and you surely never discussed it with Tina; it makes you feel stupid.

"I don't want to be a burden," she says before kissing your forehead and walking you home. You look at her like you're asking if she's sure; she nods. "Thank you for being there tonight", she whispers when she kisses the spot beneath your ear, and you can still feel her fingers against you in the manager's office after the show.

The bed feels empty without her; the bathroom feels cold without her toothbrush. You toss and turn around restless for too long before you finally fall asleep.

XVII

She mentions her grandmother, sometimes. She comes to your house with the ingredients for cookies and ends up mentioning she loved it when her abuela made it. She's got flour all over her hands and she's eating the dough like you're not there, like it's still forbidden. You kiss her and she hums against you.

She wanders off when you're at a record store browsing and a Latin song begins to play on the speakers. She wets her lower lip with the tip of her tongue and the tip of her fingers run through cases and cases. "My grandmother loves this singer," it's all she tells you, with a sad smile and a small frown.

She always fills with melancholy when she talks about her, and you can see the yearning even if you don't understand it. You want to say something, to do something, but you don't know what happened and you don't know what could make it better; you settle for squeezing her hand and caressing the back of her hand with your thumb.

XVIII

She's living with Mercedes Jones in a two-bedroom. It's a nice place, with big black and white photos on the walls and a gigantic CD and LP collection in the living room, but no TV. Santana's bedroom consists of a bed and a wooden closet. Her bag is under her bed and her books are on the floor by the bed; the sheets are white cotton.

She makes you dinner and it's delicious. You open the bottle of cheap wine you bought; it's perfect. Mercedes gets home late, holding hands with Sam, Santana's band mate. They sit with you, by the couch, and they share the leftovers as the second and the third bottle are served.

Sam is a nice guy, and he looks at Mercedes like she's the best thing that could possibly happen to him. Mercedes laughs even more when he's around; when he puts an arm around her and kisses the top of her head it's so familiar you feel like you have been around them since you were born.

Santana kisses your knuckles, your palm, your pulse. Your heart is already racing and you can't stop looking at her. "Sleep with me," she asks of you, and you wouldn't say no. You cling to her, your head on her chest, and let her heartbeat lull you to sleep.

XIX

You like the conversations you and Santana have in bed when sleep is heavy on you and her fingers play with your hair. You like the things she says and the questions she asks. She asks you if you know how to ride a bike; if you always knew you wanted to be a dancer; if you ever loved before, the passionate, desperate kind of love; she asks you if you're happy.

You don't know much, but you know you have a job you love and you want her around.

You ask her if she ever had a pet; if she used to sing to her family; if she likes her life; if she likes you. She laughs softly at that last question and kisses you for a moment or two. "I like you so much I don't know what to do with myself," she tells you against your lips. You smile and cup her cheeks to kiss her like you mean it.

You know you're falling. You know her body against yours makes you happy and craving for more. She parts her lips for you and you take over her mouth until you're moaning and she's on top of you. "I don't feel so sleepy anymore," she whispers in your ear right before she presses her hips to yours.

XX

You learn Sam is a very nice guy. He's there at the girls' apartment as often as you, maybe even more. He says he likes it there, because his own apartment is tiny and in a dangerous neighborhood. He never lets anyone visit him.

He makes breakfast and he teaches you to bake while Mercedes and Santana are asleep on Saturday mornings. He makes the most exquisite cakes, full of color and flavor, and he's clean and tidy and washes everything before he leaves the kitchen.

He knows Santana for so many years he lost count. She calls him Trouty Mouth, but he only smiles his biggest smile and lets it go. You giggle and tell Santana to stop, but you know she won't. She has her arm around you and she teases him endlessly; when she grins at him it's sincere.

XXI

You tell her about your little sister – who's not so little anymore and is worrying about college, your parents and Ohio. She listens carefully, attentive, and no matter how long you go on, she looks at you like you're the only thing to ever exist; you don't feel silly.

She never judges and she's never patronizing. She doesn't doubt your word; no one had ever trusted you this completely.

She calls you "my girl" to her band in front of you, and all you can do is blush furiously and bite your lower lip. Her hand rests on yours after a rehearsal; you do feel like you belong there, with her. She kisses your knuckles, one by one, before she gets back to work.

XXII

"My parents died when I was five, exactly twenty years ago," she tells you one night, when she's tipsy and the air is cold. "I can't remember them. Maybe that's the saddest thing that can happen to a person." You cling to your coat and try to look at her, but she doesn't meet your eyes.

She sits on a bench and her eyes are melancholy and yearning. You trace her features and kiss her nose and try to say something, but she doesn't let you. "I should sleep alone tonight," she says, walking away from you.

It aches and burns, your heart. You watch her go and you try to imagine a life without your family, but you can't. You also can't sleep later, in your own bedroom, because you should have followed her and made her company.

XXIII

She's a story that unravels by layers.

"My grandmother raised me," she tells you when she comes over the next morning. "Until the day I told her I was gay. She kicked me out and never spoke to me again." She sits on your couch and her voice is even, like she's telling someone else's story. "Verguenza, she said. Some things are meant to be a secret."

You kiss her and she holds on to you so tight you can't breathe. You don't want Santana to feel this way. You want her to have stories about how she's loved and cared about; you want to be her light. "I'm shameful and sinful," she says against your lips. "It haunts me."

She cries in front of you for the first time, and there's a striking beauty to it. You wonder if her freedom is too much loneliness at once; she's got nothing to hold her back and she's got no one to go back to.

XXIV

She watches your rehearsals, still, and she takes you and Tina to eat ice cream. The three of you have fun together, and she makes you forget the show starts the following week and there's too much to do.

She discusses music with Tina when she's at your house, both of them passionately working together on a melody or disagreeing on a verse.

"We should work together," she tells Tina, and your apartment becomes a second home for the band and their endless discussions. You don't complain; there is something wonderful blossoming in your living room.

The next time she has a gig, Tina is on stage, playing the piano.

XV

She enters the dancers' room with an immense bouquet of lilies, and she charms the entire crew at once. You know everyone is looking at you sweetly when she gives you the flowers and kisses you.

"Congratulations on your first lead," she says as she intertwines her fingers with yours. You blush and you both leave the room.

Your friends are waiting outside with champagne and party hats and they all clap when they see you. "Time to celebrate," she officially declares, taking you by the hand into the night.

XVI

Music is a whole other language, and you're certainly fascinated to watch how it all comes together. She takes you to jam sessions and pocket shows; you don't understand much, but you can appreciate it.

The most memorable one takes place in a tiny white studio on an unassuming Friday night.

"It's been six months since we first kissed," she tells you quietly. "It's been six months that I can't think of no one else." Her friends play Something by The Beatles on the cello, the piano and the sax, slow and gentle, and she wipes your tears with the back of her hand. "I love you," she says. "Like never before."

"I'm yours. Proudly so," you answer, and it's quite enough.