thepainted_lady: (Intrigued smile)
[ooc: Based on RP with [ profile] offering_hope, who's sleeping here w/o permission but lots of love. >.>]

They'd only gone to bed an hour or two before, after the rubes had drifted back to town, laughing and satisfied, and the lights had flickered out one by one. Lydia had fallen asleep almost immediately, a skill that had escaped her all her life but one she'd picked up recently as her body grasped for some sort of relief, however sporadic.

She wasn't sure how long after Samuel followed, but he was asleep when she jerked awake, an instinct pulling her from the depths of dreamless slumber that was stronger than her tired body. There wasn't any real sound in the small room, at least not yet. Just his easy breathing, and for a moment she was tempted to sink back against his warmth and grab at a few precious more seconds.

His hand was curled against her hip, another incentive to stay, and for a second she let her eyes drift shut. Then the little sound came again, the snuffling that wasn't a cry but a seeking, and Lydia sighed. She could stay. He'd get up when the noise grew to enough to wake him, bring her over, or move to the kitchen and try not to wake her. But there was little point to it when she was already awake. He had so much more that needed doing during the day, while she had the luxury of napping if need be, and it would be selfish to take advantage of his willingness to help.

The snuffling grew to a whimper, and Lydia wriggled out from under Samuel's arm, slipping out of the bed and across to the crib against the wall. For a moment she just smiled down at Rebecca, fingers brushing lightly over her hair before she picked her up and took her to the rocker by the window, settling down there and baring one breast to offer to her.

It was still new, even after nearly two months. She'd given Amanda up too early, too young, to really experience this, to feel this, and it tugged at something deep inside her as her second daughter contentedly suckled away. The wistfulness twisted up with the tenderness, the loss with the joy, and she caught herself crying silent tears that she wiped away before they could fall on the baby's head.

She'd made mistakes, given up something more precious than she'd understood, and it was only now that she was truly realizing how much that had been. But somehow, some way, she'd managed to get a second chance, and a gift she'd never expected. She glanced at the bed and the man still sleeping there, then looked back down at the beautiful daughter they'd made. The stillness of the room seemed almost holy in that moment, and she brushed light fingers over the baby's head. Her lips curved in a smile in spite of the quiet tears, and somehow she felt that 2AM might become one of her favorite times of the day.
thepainted_lady: ([Edgar] Trust you with my life)
[ooc: Based on RP with [ profile] heroslayer and [ profile] hadtobeahero. Edgar is [ profile] watchesover_her and mine for purposes of the fic. :-D]

"Say that one more time, love. You’re a what?"

Lydia supposed that complete disbelief was better than some of the alternatives--namely incoherent rage--but she wasn’t ruling that one out when it had sunk in. Glancing down at the tea Edgar had gotten her when she’d arrived at his apartment, she stared in the depths wishing she had some ability to read leaves and see any possible way this was going to end well.

"A vampire."

At the silence from the other side of the table, Lydia glanced back up, meeting Edgar’s gaze that questioned if she had gone mad, or were playing some sort of joke, or had wandered into the realm of a world he hadn’t dreamed existed. She willed him to believe her, though was careful not to put any compulsion behind her words when she spoke. Not yet.

“I’m serious, Edgar. I know it sounds...crazy, but.” She took a breath. “Vampires are real. One found Sylar and turned him a while back. He...couldn’t stay in New York, and he came and found me. After a while, he made me one, too.”


Lydia blinked. It was a perfect question, really, one that gave her the opening she needed to defend Sylar without even having to be seeming to, but somehow she hadn’t expected it. )
thepainted_lady: ([Sylar] Swinging her around)
"Love is the difficult realization that something other than oneself is real." ~ Iris Murdoch

She was going to die.

This wasn't exactly news, given it had happened once already, but the follow up was one she hadn't really considered, even though she'd seen proof of it in her trailer that night she didn't like to dwell on.

He wasn't.

The two sentences rolled around in her head as she stood in the kitchen mixing up batter for muffins because she couldn't stand to just sit staring out the window at the cold winter waves beating on the empty shoreline anymore. She was going to die. He wasn't. It could be strung together as one sentence and the horrible implications became all the more clear. She was going to die, and he wasn't.

After the cold reaches of the darkness she liked to dwell on even less than that night, she would have thought the contemplation of her own mortality would be the far more upsetting of those two propositions. He'd expected her to hate him for it, or feared she would grow to, but when she thought about it, all she felt was this ache that caught at her throat and twisted up around inside of her making it hard to breathe.

She was going to die, and he wasn't. Someday, someway, despite all of her promises, and no matter how hard she tried not to...she was going to leave him, just like everyone else had. Her own body would betray her, and him, and she'd simply...cease to be, and he'd be alone. The little fears and vanities that reared their heads in the back of her mind, the will-he-still-want-me-when-I'm-not-as-young-and-pretties and the how-could-he-stay-if-I-get-old-and-sick-at-the-ends, faded under the lines of pain at that.

She didn't want to leave him alone, didn't want to leave him to watch the centuries stretch out in front of him in a string of loss or loneliness. The fact that Claire might be there was hardly a consolation, and one she dismissed. The fact that he might fall in love what end? To lose love again, as well? That hurt, too, both personally, and for him.

She was crying again, as she had the night before, though it wasn't for the same reasons this time. The fear that had lingered wasn't really gone, but it wasn't at the forefront of her mind. Pain for him, for what he'd go through without her, for knowing that he had to live with that left her gasping a little for air, and clinging to the counter until her knuckles were white.

She was going to die, and he wasn't. That meant she had to find a way to make every day he did have with her count, so he'd never doubt in all those years to come that he'd been loved. No matter what anyone else had done, or would do, no matter what happened or what he faced after she was gone...she wanted him to know that and have that as a surety. For as long as she had, he'd be loved, he'd have a home. They'd have a life, and by god, it would be a good one. No regrets. No looking back. No doubts. No second-guessing. No more what-might-have-beens.

She wiped her tears and gave the batter a vicious punch with the spoon. She wasn't exactly sure where to start, but making muffins to rival Mrs. Comey's waffles seemed to be as good as anywhere, even if she was still figuring out the cooking things after years of not. If she was going to die, and he wasn't, she didn't want to waste any more of their precious time on tears.
thepainted_lady: (Girl in blue)
[ooc: Based on RP at [ profile] heroesreduxrpg. Peter is [ profile] tarnishedhero.]

A sign hangs crookedly off a building in the wasteland stretched out below. She shouldn't be here, perched on the balcony's edge like this. It's possible patrols still come through the ruined city, looking for people just like them. She's tucked up close to the crumbling brick, though, pressed in a nook between wall and parapet, and there isn't any wind blowing at her skirts to wave them like a flag to signal any searchers.

It's hard to believe there might be any. Looking's hard to believe there might be anyone else alive, at all. It's a lie, of course. Just behind her, behind the door she pressed shut against the heat of too many people in a room and too many hiccuping sobs, huddles a portion--too small--of her family. Out there, somewhere, goddess willing, more are with Edgar.

There are bars, restaurants, homes, families, schools, stores, goes on in the world. She knows. Just last week she was in a sleepy little town in Arkansas buying provisions for breakfast the next day.

But here it's stopped. Here there is nothing but the sound of the wind through buildings she'd like to call abandoned, but in which she knows people died. How many? More than was right, more than ever should have been allowed. Over there, across the bridge, the rest of the city tries to rebuild itself, but here...New York has fallen, devastated, lost.

Not forgotten, though, because no one will ever forget, never again...the man--Sylar--who blew up the City and exposed them all. The Linderman Act. A president determined to hunt them down. She looks down, twisting her fingers in her shawl. His brother was one of the ones who saved them. Saved her...took the bullet meant for her...and she can't quite work that out. How can the president hate them so much, when his own brother is one of them? Why would he, just because of one man? None of them have done anything to deserve the things they've done. The detention centers...

She closes her eyes, blocking out the devastation below, trying to block out the grief welling up inside, suppressing the images that attempt to flood her mind of what they must do there...what it must be like...what Samuel might be going through...It won't do any good to agonize over it, to cry about it. That won't get him out any faster. She can't help it, though. Inside, back behind that door, she has to be strong. Danielle is a great help with the physical needs of the children, but she's terrified for her husband and useless for anything else. Arnold's getting sicker. The children are all scared and asking for Samuel, wanting to go home. She's the one who has to be strong, to lead them until he gets back. She can't cry in there.

So she's out here instead, staring at a stupid sign that's barely hanging on to a building that once was a place where people came to learn, to be entertained, to spend a few hours. It twists there, swinging back and forth, and she imagines she can hear it, the creak of its chains, their stubborn refusal to give out, even after a blistering devastation. Slipping off the edge of the balcony, she sinks down to the flagstone floor, leaning back against the wall, and just listens to the silence below.

If that damn sign can still be there after five years, she can hang on, too. She can do this. She will do this. She'll hold them together, and she'll do what has to be done to bring him home. Everything's changed, but they can make it okay again.

She sits for a few minutes more, calming her breathing, drying her tears, and then she pushes to her feet, moving back to the door. Another breath, two, her forehead resting against it, and then she makes herself put a reassuring smile on her face as she moves back into the crowded room, brushing fingers through hair here, touching a shoulder there, reassuring the flock that their shepherd will be back soon, and she's here to take care of them until then.
thepainted_lady: ([Samuel] Threatening)
[ooc: Based on RP with [ profile] heroslayer, [ profile] offering_hope and [ profile] hadtobeahero in AU/Vampire Diaries xover verse]

The cave floor was cold and hard, but she barely felt it. She’d shifted last night, mostly to stop the wracking sobs when she couldn’t take any more of them shaking her body. Exhaustion still weighed her limbs down from how far she’d run, and for the moment she had no idea where she was. Austria, perhaps. Maybe Switzerland, if she’d shifted directions. As fast as she was going, she could have made it to Italy. It wasn’t like anyone paid attention to the borders anymore, especially not for creatures like her.

She was shivering, but not from the cold. The cold she barely felt, whether from her own nature, or the fur she hid behind, letting it dull the sensation of having her heart ripped out of her.

All that hate. [Cut for long stream-of-consciousness and possible triggering material] )
thepainted_lady: (The center cannot hold)
[ooc: Sylar is [ profile] heroslayer and Peter is [ profile] hadtobeahero and both are used with love and permission. Based on RP with them and [ profile] offering_hope. John is [ profile] of_highdegree.]

Words wouldn't come. In truth, Lydia was afraid if she opened her mouth she'd start screaming again. The host of the Gasthaus had come running, pounding on the door, sure they were all being murdered in their sleep, and Sylar's assurances that she'd only had a nightmare had barely reassured the man when he'd seen how distraught she was. Only having seen them always happy together probably gave his conscience any ease to leave. If she started screaming again...?

A nightmare.

The word seemed too vague, too ephemeral for such a visceral experience. She was used to nightmares. Life had been a constant one for three years, a time when, honestly, sleep had been a semi-escape, but one from which she could be awakened at any time by searching hands wanting things that made her heat with shame for giving, sure she was damning them both to Hell, and God was going to punish her for the Devil living in her like he must. After waking life improved, sleep was less of a haven, and she got as little of it as necessary, as the monsters from her childhood returned in her dreams to torment her still. She learned some tricks, found some teas that helped, figured out if she were utterly exhausted physically, sometimes he didn't come...she lived her life to avoid the dreams as best she could.

Joseph told her she wasn't damned, and she tried to believe him. She stopped believing in God. Mostly.

Dreams of a bullet, of a kiss, of a cold place (that might have been Hell), a gasping return...they'd intermingled in the last year, and no wonder. She slept lightly, woke frequently, and mustered on as best she could. Sylar returned and she let him provide any comfort he could, even if it was to push her into oblivion, when she was too tired to dream, and that was a sweetness and no burden at all.

Last night...

No, to call it a nightmare was to call those other dreams some sort of unpleasant reveries. )
thepainted_lady: (Painted lady)
[ooc: Sylar is [ profile] heroslayer and used with much love and permission.]

She still had a reflection. That wasn’t particularly a surprise--he had one, after all. She could see it there in the corner of the mirror that caught the edge of the bed. At the moment, however, she was studying her own as intently as she’d been captured by the lights and music of the boardwalk. The dress she’d been wearing when he did it lay abandoned on the floor behind her, and she stared in the mirror at her naked image with a curious tilt of her head. Now and then she shifted, turning slowly, hands lifting her hair out of the way to see her back, before she twisted the other way. The loss of her tan had been coming along slowly, and its absence now she’d expected, though she’d never been this pale in her life. The vividness of her eyes, too--she’d noticed it in his. But the biggest change...the one to that which had defined her for so long...Perhaps she should have expected it. They came out of her, of who she was, roadmaps built on what was inside of her. If that had changed in a fundamental, too would they.

But she hadn’t expected it, and she continued to stand there, twisting slowly every now and then, staring at herself even as dawn broke and stretched toward noon and her body begged for sleep to finish recuperating from the changes it had undergone. Of all of them, though, she found these too fascinating to look away from.

The earthy ochre vines and leaves linking coral and yellow flowers all along her skin were gone, vanishing with the life that he’d taken with a snap of bone. Midnight vines encircled alabaster skin, instead, twisting their way around her neck, along her back, across her stomach, and trailing down her legs. Crimson roses bloomed amidst dangerous looking ebony thorns. Sharp beaked, shadowy ravens hunting the night, foretelling the future and protecting their secrets had replaced the swallows who once stood guard over her soul and pointed the way home. The butterfly remained, but its wings were honed to razor points from which fell rose petals reminiscent of droplets of blood. A woman stood where the mermaid had lounged, skirts swirling out like the fin once had to wrap around her arm. Nothing so clear as horns perched on her head or fangs extended from her blood red lips, but the cruel sensuality of her mouth hinted at pleasures far darker than the mermaid had dreamed.

Her fingertips lightly traced the new patterns, watching her reflection do the same. A shiver ran over her skin and settled deep in her stomach. For a moment, she closed her eyes, running a mental check, but her ability seemed to be working fine. The new tattoos functioned as the old ones had, though she felt their sharper, darker, bloodier edges feeding the hunger that had been growing inside since the first time he’d sliced his skin open for her. Interesting. She wasn’t sure, yet, how the two were linked, but she could feel the connection, see the outward manifestation of the inner change. A few months ago, it would have frightened her. Now she opened her eyes to find her lips curved into a smile mirroring that of the new woman decorating her arm.

Arms extended overhead as she stretched and finally tore her gaze away from the mirror, pivoting gracefully in the opposite direction, satisfied for now. The same little smile still on her lips, she practically prowled toward the bed where Sylar had been watching her, switching between concern and amusement.

"Done?" he asked.

"For now."

"You really should sleep," he pointed out, apparently attempting to be a responsible sire for a moment, as she put one knee on the bed on one side of him, then followed suit on the other, perching over him and reaching for the buttons of his shirt.

"In a bit." After all, having given the boardwalk and the beach and herself such a thorough examination and found things so enthralling, she really felt the need to do the same to him, even if it took until the sun set again.
thepainted_lady: ([Amanda] Listen to me)
I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high and life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving

Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung, no wine untasted

Dearest Amanda,

His name was Danny. )

But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
As they turn your dreams to shame

I ran home )

And still I dream she'll come to me
That we will live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather

I found a new home.  )

I had a dream my life would be
So different from the hell I'm living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed
thepainted_lady: (You need to listen)
[ooc: Noah Bennet is [ profile] im_exhibita and is used with permission.]

Don't know much about your life.
Don't know much about your world, but
Don't want to be alone tonight,
On this planet they call earth.

You don't know about my past, and
I don't have a future figured out.
And maybe this is going too fast.
And maybe it's not meant to last

Lydia wasn't sure what to make of the world she'd found herself in. The outside world had changed so much since she'd joined the carnival. With Samuel gone, she could go back, she knew. It was a possibility, at least. They were her family, and had been for near as long as her biological one, and she couldn't go back to that one. Carol had made that very clear in their last conversation. But back there, among them, around every corner, in each tent, in the smell of greasepaint and ink, lingered the ghost of the man who'd ruined everything, including her.

He'd thought she was going to take them from him, but with him gone, she couldn't find the heart in her to lead the family forward into this world. She took Noah Bennet's invitation instead, looking instinctively toward a new protector in an uncertain world, and as the days stretched into weeks, still she stayed, finding comfort in the steady presence of the man who'd mere name had once terrified her far more than a serial killer's could.

He was a mystery, and one she wanted to solve, though he shied a little from her touches, years of training and paranoia not leaving him very open to the brush of her hand and the intrusion of her gift. So, she tried to figure him out the conventional way, with questions over cereal, and deeper conversations as the nights grew longer, curled up on his sofa, her bare feet tucked under her skirts to fend off the cold of the New York winter, and still he eluded her with half answers and careful evasions.

She figured she couldn't be upset. When he turned the tables, she played the same game, skimming over the shadows of her past with half-truths and blatant lies, crafting a childhood out of figments of imagination and stories culled from others around campfires that once lit the night in a place she'd called home. But it annoyed her, all the same, as her curiosity became an ache to know him, to crack that unflappable facade and peer beneath.

I just want to start again,
Maybe you could show me how to try,
Maybe you could take me in,
Somewhere underneath your skin?

And I had my heart beaten down,
But I always come back for more, yeah.
There's nothing like love to pull you up,
When you're lying down on the floor there.

When she settled on his lap, she thought he'd rebuff her, push her aside however gently. He considered it, she knew, felt the urge rise up in him to compete with the other, more primal one. The woman he'd brought with him to the carnival had faded from his life, though, and it had been as long for him as it was her. In the meeting of their lips, the brush of tongues, she found some of her answers, and for a few moments she indulged her curiosity without shame, learning him as he surrendered, as men eventually all did, and let his hands learn her.

Somewhere between the sofa and the bed, though, questions about his past, his motives, his heart, his mind, faded away. It seemed she'd been cold for months, caught in the web of a betrayal, pierced by a kiss that had been nothing like what she craved, but killed more in her than any bullet could have. Noah's touches found those frozen places, and Lydia shivered, near pain slipping through her as his emotions slid into her as thoroughly as his body did, and forced her to feel her own, reawakening more than just desire.

She cried in his arms, after, the first tears she'd let herself shed since that day, and when the tears ran out, he was still there, still holding her, and she remembered what it meant to have hope.

What do you say to taking chances,
What do you say to jumping off the edge?
Never knowing if there's solid ground below
Or hand to hold, or hell to pay,
What do you say,
What do you say?
thepainted_lady: ([Samuel] Dead in your arms)
Tonight the sunset means so much
The one thing that you know you'll never touch
Like the feeling, the real thing
I reach out for that sweet dream

But somehow the darkness wakes me up
I've felt this emptiness before
But all the times that I've been broken
I still run right back for more

When it started, Lydia couldn't say. More than a decade of protecting her heart, of keeping out even those she knew meant her no harm, and one day she looked up and realized it wasn't hers anymore. Whether she'd lost it in between the brush of fingers and the press of a needle, or the flow of ink and a connection formed to the person controlling it, or in some twisted up feeling that he was safe, because he was the only one who seemed to look at her and not want her, she didn't know. Oh, now and then she sensed a shiver of desire slipping between them, but no more than any healthy straight man for a pretty girl, and always with a more pressing need overlying it. He wanted what she and her flesh could do with her gift far more than he wanted what else she could do, and part of her was grateful for it, at first.

Then she wasn't. It was the faintest flicker of disappointment that ran through her when he sent her away, done with her and on to something else already that gave her pause. He'd thanked her civilly, been nothing but kind and grateful, but...been nothing but kind and grateful. She told herself it was womanly pique, and went to find Edgar who soothed it with each smile that told her as clear as any touch how devoted he would be to her if she just said the word. But her thoughts lingered back in another trailer, with another man, and she excused herself early, with a kiss to Edgar's cheek and a squeeze of his hand, and curled up on her bed, chin resting on her knees to think about the upset swirling inside her.

She could make him notice her that way, she was certain. The question was--did she want to? Sometimes, it was better just to ache from afar. Love never ended well, from what she'd seen. But somewhere in the night, she made a vague decision to at least try.

You'd think that I'd learn my lesson by now
You'd think that I'd somehow figure out
That if you strike the match
You're bound to feel the flame

You think that I'd learn the cost of love
Paid that price long enough
But still I drive myself right through the pain

Slipping herself into Samuel's confidence wasn't a hard thing to do. She listened to him, understood him. Her gift was good for that, and she knew how to give people what they needed. He needed someone who believed in him, and she became that, even before Joseph died. After...after it seemed too late. Questions rose, and her heart started to tear a little as she felt Samuel's desire for power growing. His words and what she felt from him were in discord, and that hurt, twisting around inside of her.

Amanda drove another nail in, piercing something inside of her and throwing a mother's love up against a woman's. Nothing she had said or done seemed to pull Samuel's focus any deeper into her, and now it was growing farther out, so far he was acting against her. She could ask Edgar for something, and he would do it, but even begging Samuel, he wouldn't heed her, and there was nowhere she could put that pain, that doubt.

The sketch of the woman was a crushing blow. All he had shared with her, everything she thought she knew about him, as intimate as she believed them to be, even without the final intimacy, and he'd kept this hidden from her. No wonder he'd never wanted her, never loved her. His heart wasn't even free to want, and all of this, all he'd wanted from her was to let him have someone else.

Even knowing that, even knowing what he'd done, knowing he was planning nothing good, seeing the woman brought into their home, offered the place she'd wanted--and turning it down--even going to Sylar, rage twisting up and over the love in her heart, part of her wanting Samuel dead for all the pain he'd caused...

Even then, when he begged her to trust him, she wanted to, more than anything. Fool that she was, she still wanted to believe in him, believe that there was a chance, believe he'd see the error of his ways, come around.

She kept hoping right until he gave her what she'd craved for so long, lips pressing against hers as she struggled for breath, and ripped her world apart for the final time.

Yeah, well it turns out, I haven't learned a thing
thepainted_lady: (Intrigued)
"You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have." -Unknown

If you asked her, Lydia would tell you she isn't the strong one. She ran before she could be abandoned by the boy she gave her heart and body to. She ran from her home and her father rather than face the shadows there. She ran from her sister and her baby rather than live with the consequences of her decisions. She can tell herself it was for the best, that it was an unselfish decision to give her daughter the best life she could, but she knows it was fear that drove her away. Fear of what she was, fear of taking responsibility for another life, fear of the world itself, and the things that she felt pounding in on her from everyone she touched.

She ran until she found someone willing to protect her, and then she stayed. Stayed in the lights of the carnival, stayed in the warm approval of Joseph's smile, and she didn't venture out again to where she had to risk making a stand, a decision, a choice that could turn out wrong.

For years, she felt what Edgar wanted from her, and she kept him always just enough away to keep herself safe. She used his loyalty, used his love, accepted his protection, but offered only her friendship in return, never crossing the line or making the choice that could endanger the world she'd built.

When Samuel wanted to use her, she let him, even against Joseph's disapproval, finding new depths to her gift, and a new obsession circling deep inside her. But she ran from that, too, internally. There were walls, and moats, and barricades she erected to keep herself at a safe distance, even when every brush of his fingers, every piercing into her flesh of his ink made her shiver.

Joseph died, and she clung to what she knew. Her daughter needed her, and she rejected her out of fear, then saw her join them against what Lydia knew was best, and while she found the courage to protest, to step up and say something, a look from those dark eyes, a dismissive tone, a brush of fingers over her cheek, and Lydia felt herself slide back into silence, watchful and worried but doing nothing.

She couldn't even speak up when Edgar was banished, after all he'd done for her, the truth catching in her throat. Fear of Samuel, fear for Amanda, fear for herself, fear of the world and what price speaking would bring...they kept her silent, kept her in line.

And a town died. A town sank into the earth, streets disappearing as the world itself seemed to shake in channeled rage she could feel riding over her, twisting inside of her, making her feel sick. Death walked back into their camp, darkness wrapping itself around her, pounding at her with each step he took. Her eyes followed him. All of their eyes did, tracking his progress until his form disappeared into his trailer, though the rage still radiated out to try and choke her.

There was a shift, a movement through the family, and Lydia tore her eyes away from the door that had closed on any hope lingering inside of her. Every eye in the camp seemed to be resting on her.

Much as she might want to, she couldn't run this time.


thepainted_lady: (Default)

October 2011

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