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Rush

Crowscratch & Bad Dreams

Posted by artimahadanna on 2006.09.16 at 11:18
Current Mood: bouncybouncy
Tags: ,

Here we go! Inserted some foreshadowing for good measure, too.

Maria handed the pen back to the bartender, smiling to herself. She turned around to see Brandon returning with a stack of empties. Kind though he was, Maria assumed rightly that that was just an excuse to come talk to her away from the others. She relocated both her and Aaron's abandoned daiquiris and started to finish them as quickly as she could.

"Have fun?" he asked her.

"Don't I always?" came the customary response. "What did you and David talk about for so long?"

"Bars. Europe."

"Obvious connection of course," Maria's voice dripped a bit too much with sarcasm, alcohol reaching her faster because she was a lightweight. Something she knew would eventually get her into trouble one day, combined with her dancing, but for the moment she was perfectly safe. After all, she trusted Brandon with her life.

"Link being sangrevin," Brandon said lowly, though Maria didn't notice his tone. "Is, um, Joe taking you back?"

"Joe, yeah." Maria drained the last daiquiri eagerly and stared hazily off into the distance, the vague smile still on her face.

"Looks like someone has your undivided attention," Brandon pointed out good-naturedly, though he didn't expect her to respond. She didn't. "No doubt Veronica will be jealous, and demand to be kept up on all the details of the blossoming relationship with the kid -"

"Kid?!" Maria suddenly came to attention. The haziness came back, "No, not a kid. Something else..." the faintest furrowing of her brow.

For the briefest of seconds Brandon felt like confessing all his suspicions to her, but then reasoned that that was probably not the thing to do on two grounds - one, he would sound like an idiot to her and to anyone who may happening to be listening, and two, she was tipsy and thus not inclined to take anything, much less his supernatural suspicions, seriously.

All reasoning was then taken over when he realised he was looking at her for longer than normal. But she hadn't noticed, so he claimed it safe. She was staring off into the distance in the direction of the door, the same simple little smile on her face. He knew exactly who she was thinking about, and it pained him.

Back when they were eighteen, and Maria had moved to Atlanta, Brandon worked in a gas station. He hadn't believed in love at first sight from the first notion of any sort of romance, until in she walked, digging her wallet out of her purse. She had dropped her keys in the process, Brandon remembered clearly, because he had seen how her chipped forest-green nail polish had matched some of the tiles on the floor, and didn't dislike the tile design so much after that. Brandon had undercharged her, distracted too much by the face that was examining the newspapers nearby. Unconsciously, seemingly, she stood with one leg bent, bringing her short top up just enough for him to see that her belly-button, but not her ears, was pierced. His fingertips briefly touched her palm when he gave her her change, and she placed it on the counter briefly to readjust her purse strap. When she picked the change up again, she forgot a penny, and for the tiniest of moments the air that she left in her wake smelled vaguely of sandalwood. She barely said five words to him in those three minutes, and she went back to the same pickup truck she had today and drove away, and yet...

Brandon had been in love with her this whole time, and now it was so natural to him as breathing that he could act almost perfectly normal around her. When they asked him about the hole-punched penny strung around his neck, he simply replied that it was lucky. No one knew, but now that was threatened, a little, by this...David. And this...Aaron. Brandon seemed on the verge of losing her without even having her to something there was no way he could compete with.

Brandon knew very well what they were. He had sensed them before they even opened the door of Yellow Light. It was this strange knack he had had ever since he was little, forgiven of him in return for...well that didn't matter at the moment. The point was, the point...He got lost staring at her, angsting ridiculously over the little drink and the dance Aaron had had with her. God but why...No.

"Stop it," he told himself, looking to his feet. Maria heard too, asking,

"Huh, what? Oh, sorry, got lost there," she still had enough of her senses to apologise and smile a little pathetically.

"Me too," Brandon agreed. "Joe taking you home?"

"You already asked that," she smiled more strongly at him. "Yeah."

"Sorry. Just checking."

"Bless you but you always take care of me!" Maria gave him a hug then, her tipsiness not letting her realise how much longer than normal they ended up holding onto each other for, even if, to Brandon's loving but rational and self-doubting mind, it was only a few precious seconds.

~

She was dancing to her favourite song, her trance anthem, and it struck her that in the waking world she hadn't listened to it in a while, for some weird reason. Maria knew she was dreaming, because fae didn't really exist, and her Tarot cards weren't the size of buildings. As the song began its true beat, about thirty seconds in, the ground beneath her feet cracked and gave way to a chasm half of light and half of dark, both of beauty, below, leaving her suspended in mid-air. She felt the rhythm truly begin to take over her veins, but something was strange and wrong about it.

That alien persona was trying to wake up again, only this time it hurt, yet she couldn't bring herself to stop. She was being taken over, and though this was painful and she knew she was going to break, it felt wonderful and exhilerating at the same time. It burnt like her skin was coming apart, light shining forth as the dance brought her through the air at a vibrancy and pace that her body couldn't contain or keep up with. It filled her with ecstacy, but it also felt like her dying moments.

There were people around her, but she couldn't tell who exactly, both fae and mortal. They were yelling something to her, but she couldn't quite hear them, didn't want to hear them.

She arched over backwards in one of her signature moves, staring up as somehow sun and night collided, crows falling from the heavens to discover they could fly, blackening the air and making it glisten. As she leant forward again, something burst from her back, but she was then too preoccupied with the pain and the joy of the dance to care. Blood, her blood, was raining down. Her song seemed to go on forever, becoming more than mortal noise, ascending until it was downright celestial, beckoning for her to make the final moves and immerse herself until she could immerse herself no more, becoming nothing but a rhythm, a song, herself.

Someone reached out to touch her, or grab her and save her, but someone else already had, pulling her down screaming, the ground closing in above her head...

Maria jolted awake with a short yelp, startling Jasmine and Pandora into jumping off the bed. She pushed the covers off of her, even their light weight feeling too much like the earth was closing in on her. She curled together, shivering, as she went through the motions of reassuring herself that it was only a half-dream, half-nightmare. Shame this meant that she wouldn't get enough sleep before lectures started again tomorrow. Even moreso when she sat up, put her feet on the floor and felt a feather beneath one of them, reminding her that her Tarot cards were indeed gone. Maria wouldn't dare, now, listen to her favourite song. Who knew what might happen.

It was five in the morning, but Maria got up and turned on the bedroom light, went and made herself a coffee and then sat back in bed, wondering absent-mindedly if Aaron would actually call her.

After all, he may have just been casually interested, or could be like all the other guys their age, and be after only one thing. Of course, Maria was a modern girl and expected that, but there wasn't any harm in hoping for a bit more respect. Plus, being a whatchamacallit, there was the whole idea of the first time being yadda yadda... It was also getting kinda boring just being considered sex on legs. Sometimes so much so that Maria considered just making herself fat and getting it over and done with. She wondered if a paranoid late-night/early-morning binge on the rationed and hidden-underneath-the-frozen-mixed-veg-ssh! Ben&Jerry's could create an instant increase in dress size, or would she actually have to go out and buy up all the raw cookie dough in town. A casual sip from the mug.

But back to Aaron...there was something different about him. She couldn't place her finger on it. It was potentially not even the only-after-sex thing. Especially how she had felt when she danced with him, with her theory of that separate persona inside her. It had felt stronger. Why? Was it a sign? Was she just being too Veronica-irrational-jumping-the-gun? Yep. Nope. Maybe. Another casual sip. The kittens rejoined her, mewling.

And thinking about it, there was something different about David too. Aaron had said they weren't related, so whatever it was couldn't be genetic. Sure, they were both attractive as anything, but that wasn't it. Maria had seen and semi-seduced enough attractive men to know. She made a list, counting with her toes - it wasn't how they looked, it wasn't how they talked, it wasn't how they moved (though she had been impressed with Aaron's ability to keep up with her - that was new and possibly a sign or a clue more than anything), they weren't exactly foreign and there certainly wasn't anything else glaringly obvious.

Maybe it was the daiquiris. Then Maria reasoned that no, it wasn't. It would take more than a couple of daiquiris to get her thinking that she was sensing something weird. Two would get her tipsy, yes pathetically, but not irrational. Hmm. And Brandon seemed a bit more...well, uncharacteristic. Was that a sign too? Everyone else seemed normal. Then again no one else really interacted with them, though Maria was sure Veronica would have jumped at the chance despite insisting about all that mess with Taylor - Argh! No! Not the point! Do not be cliche-woman!

Toughie. Shame she couldn't bring herself to sleep on it, now.

Maria's mind quietened, re-focusing on a double question - what did that dream-slash-nightmare mean, and was she just being paranoid in thinking that she shouldn't listen to her favourite song? Surely there was nothing wrong?

Maria stared at her MP3 player with its cute-but-powerful speakers on her bedside for a few moments before turning it on. Perhaps...perhaps if she just tried one her her favourites, but not her all-time favourite, then she could work her way up...Select 'Adelante'. Click.

The first few seconds were fine, then she felt a tiny bit dizzy with that brief echo-effect on the vocals. But when the beat started it hit her like a physical blow to the head, the slosh of the hot coffee barely missing Pandora. Maria's free hand shot to her head and she shifted quickly upward, gasping not only with the pain in her head but the coffee on her bare legs. The kittens scampered from the room for the second time that night. The mug was pushed over onto the floor, the chorus of the song driving her into even more pain. She dragged herself back in the direction of the MP3 player, but found herself blacking out before she could stop squinting enough to turn it off.

~

At seven in the morning Joe went across to Maria's apartment, a full garbage bag in one hand and his other reaching up to bang on the door.

"Harlot! Garbage day! If you're not dressed yet I'll take it out for you!" No response. Probably in the shower or something. "You're gonna miss the pickup!"

Joe sighed heavily, propping his garbage back against the wall and going back into his apartment, returning with Maria's spare key. Because he was a good friend and neighbour, he was going to go get her garbage. She would owe him one. Besides, if he recalled correctly her lectures started again this morning too, and he didn't want her oversleeping. In he went, closing the door behind him.

The kittens were mewling for food, and simply getting underfoot, so he fed them to shut them up. Joe heard the song on repeat wafting in through Maria's open bedroom door, and he meandered a little closer to the doorframe.

"I have come to confisgate deine Garbage, Fraulein!" he declared in a comical German voice. No movement from the bed. She really must be in a deep sleep not to fine the German voice funny. Usually she couldn't help but giggle, no matter what.

In Joe went, turning off the music since he personally couldn't stand the song, and noticed the coffee all over the sheets and bedspread, the mug on the floor. Maria herself was all twisted up in the covers, her hand reaching for the bedside table and hanging over the edge of the bed. He frowned curiously. Surely she would have noticed getting coffee everywhere? And hell, she still had those pajamas?! Anyhow.

"Harlot," came his singsong voice that he had woken her up with yesterday.  "You're going to miss your lecture and your professor won't be pleased...harlot..."

He stopped the singsong voice, noticing that she hadn't even fidgeted in her sleep at the noise. Well, guess they could only hope no one broke in while she was sleeping, because she certainly wouldn't hear them. However, this was a bit odd.

"Maria?" he asked, more worriedly. A brief return to light-heartedness, "Look, if you're just playing at this so I'll take the garbage out!" No response. His face fell, and he shook her, "May? Wake up."

Joe panicked a little, then, turning her over onto her back and brought his ear close to her face - good, she was still breathing. But, unconscious? How did she...? Joe knew she wasn't epileptic or on medication, hadn't obviously hit her head and didn't drink _that_ much last night. So what was going on? He shook her more violently, for lack of a better plan of action.

"Maria!"

Maria's eyes shot wide open then, and she sat up so suddenly she almost headbutted Joe.

"Jesus Christ May!" Maria leant over to one side and started coughing up bile, one shaking hand trying to keep herself upright and the other at her burning throat. "Whoa! Fucking God! Hang on!"

Joe raised to the kitchen and filled a glass with water, grabbing a dishtowel on his way back. Maria was spluttering for the moment, but wasn't attempting to say anything, just looking extremely bewildered and pale. Joe helped her up and into the bathroom, where she knelt beside the stand-in shower and vomited into it. When the vomiting looked to have stopped, Joe raised the glass to her,

"Here, rinse your mouth out. Deep breaths." She was still trembling, but did as instructed. "God, May, were you secretly binge-drinking last night or what?!"

"I, only had, two," a tiny bit more bile, "Daiquiris." Rinse, spit. She took the dishtowel from Joe and wiped her face, closing her eyes to concentrate on her breathing.

"Want me to take you to the hospital or anything?" Joe asked concernedly.

"No, no thanks, I...I just -" One last regurgetation and rinse, and she sat back against the wall. She smiled weakly at her friend, "I don't think I'm going anywhere today."

"Obviously. Look, let's get you to the sofa, I'll get you the good old-fashioned bowl, and I'll stay back to look after you," Joe insisted as he carefully helped Maria back up, forgetting the glass and towel.

"I forbid you to...use me as such a pathetic excuse not...to go back to your lectures," Maria responded softly. Joe sat her down, and she moved her feet up beside her, hugging her burning stomach. Joe called over his shoulder from where he was searching for a suitable bowl,

"Shut up harlot. I'm worried is all!" The bowl was placed on the floor beside her. "Now, I'm going to take our garbage out and then I'm going to come back and we'll figure out what the hell is wrong with you."

Maria lay her head back and concentrated once more on deep, long breathing. What _was_ wrong with her? She was suddenly very afraid, and felt very alone. She couldn't exactly just tell Joe that after hearing a song she blacked out. Maybe this was a finally emerging symptom of some terminal illness or...perhaps it had something to do with her dream. She had had to go through it twice over while she was unconscious, and that alone, regardless of the throwing-up, put her in a state.

"Okay, talk to me. Maybe it was because you hadn't eaten anything before we went to Yellow Light?" Joe had come back in.

"Joe it was only two daiquiris. I know I'm a lightweight but that'd be plain ridiculous to think that I'd black out because of it." Joe crouched in front of her, face growing even sterner,

"You're not pregnant, are you?"

"No you manwhore! Have you ever heard of morning sickness coming with blacking out?!" Maria was incredulous. Men.

"Not taking anything? You can tell me if you are, I won't think any less of you."

"No," she gave a long-suffering sigh.

"Wait, that Aaron guy couldn't have spiked your drink, could he?" Maria hadn't thought of that. But it was incredibly unlikely. Plus, she had felt relatively fine when Joe brought her home.

"I was fine last night."

"Good point. You're not epileptic or anything?"

"No."

"Hmph."

"Hmph, yeah." They both stared confusedly at the edge of the sofa between them. "Look, maybe it's just one of those things. You don't have to skip class because of me -"

"No seriously harlot it's all right. The first ones only revolve around talking to us about what we'll be doing. Nothing I can't catch up on. In fact. Can I use your phone?"

"You waltz into not only my apartment but my bedroom quite freely and now you wonder if you can use my phone?" Maria gave him an askew smirk.

"Point taken. I'll just call up my lecturer, then yours, and tell them what's going down."

"Thank you Joe," Maria smiled, bringing the afghan off the back of the couch in an attempt to stop her shivering, or just hide it from Joe, even though she knew full well it wasn't from cold.

"Should I put some music on?"

"No!" Maria said a bit too forcefully before she could stop herself. "Got a bit of a headache as well."

"You sure you don't want me to call a doctor?"

"No, it's okay, honestly. Just one of those things."


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