thepainted_lady: ([Amanda] Listen to me)
Dear Amanda,

I know there’s a lot you don’t understand--about me, about my life, about why I left, about why I didn’t want you here. The last is the worst, I think. I see it in your eyes every time you look at me, that hurt, the betrayal, the accusation. I’m a bad mother, or I never wanted to be one, or I don’t want you, or ... whatever it is you think. Maybe the first is true...maybe I am a bad mother...but you mustn’t think the other two.

The only thing I ever wanted for you was to be safe, happy, to have everything I never did.

I didn’t know about abilities when I left you with Carol--I didn’t know what I was except that I felt like a freak. She was older and married and able to give you so much I couldn’t--a stable home, a normal home, with two parents who loved you. Because she did love you. I could feel that from her, completely, and her husband was a good man. He wanted to be a good father to you, and that was something that no matter what I did, I couldn’t give you.

Even once I found out about abilities...what life was being the daughter of a single, teenage mother at a traveling carnival compared to a comfortable, cohesive family? You could go to school, have friends, put down roots, grow up learning to ride a bicycle and playing with dolls...We were outcasts, the people society didn’t want, and as far as I knew, you were normal. You had a chance at a life in a world that didn’t want me.

Then I found out you were like me, and, Amanda, you have to know I was going to come for you. I understood--you couldn’t stay there. Carol wouldn’t understand. You’re like me. But the government had been hunting us, and Joseph had been murdered, and there were new people in the carnival I couldn’t trust...Edgar was going to come for you, take you somewhere safe, and I was going to follow. I was going to do my best to find somewhere safe for both of us, to be with you...

But you found me first, and you overheard things that weren’t true, things I was saying to protect you, because I didn’t trust Samuel’s reasons for wanting you with us. You were my daughter, and he didn’t need to be making decisions about you. I had to assure him of my loyalty, though. He’d already taken the money, cut off my one avenue of escape...I had to placate him...to try and think of something else, another way to get to you, to make you safe...

I didn’t mean the things I said. I never meant for you to hear them.

You mean the world to me, Amanda. You’re the one thing I’ve longed for all of my life. Leaving you is the only regret I’ve ever let stay on my mind. You’re the one thing I did right--the best thing I’ve ever done, and I have wanted you with me from the day I walked out of Carol’s door.

I just loved you enough to give up what I wanted in order to try and give you a better life. I never meant to hurt you with that.

I’m sorry. I hope one day you’ll understand, and one day, maybe, you’ll forgive me.

Love forever,
Mom

[Complete list here.]
thepainted_lady: (Downcast)
Dear Gail,

We don’t talk, really. I mean, I’m not sure we’ve ever sat down and actually had a conversation, at least not a real one, deep and true. And yet, you’re family, part of this place, and of us. More than that, you’re a mother--a better one by far than I have known how to be. I watch you with Jennie and I...envy you, having her, having the chance to be with her. You make me realize that maybe I could have done things differently, if only I’d known this place existed.

Even now...you’re the one to have taken Amanda in. You’ve given her a home, a place to sleep, a feeling of stability that she doesn’t seem to get from me. You’re still more of a mother to her than I am, and I don’t know how I feel about that. I’m grateful. I’m jealous. I’m wistful. I wish I knew how to do it. You make it look so easy. I know it’s not.

I wish I had the nerve to actually talk to you about it, to ask you about it, but I just...feel lost, like a failure when I think of it, and I can’t seem to find the nerve to ask what should be the easiest questions in the world.

So....here’s this instead, a cop out, maybe, as a letter, a note slid under your door. I’d like to talk sometime, if you’re willing. I want to be a good mother to my daughter. You know her better than I do...

Can you help me?

Lydia

[complete list here.]
thepainted_lady: (Wistful)
[ooc: More of a canon answer, and obvs not aimed at any Peter she's actually met, or verses where she knows him? LOL]

Dear Peter,

You don’t know me, but I’ve heard so much about you and, as odd as this will sound, felt you enough times that I sometimes think I know you. There was a chance, once upon a time, that you were going to come to us. I saw it, saw you, lost and longing for a place, a home. There were three of you who needed us: you, Claire and Sylar. Claire and Sylar found their way here, but though Samuel found you...you’ve never found your way to us.

I find myself wondering time and again what might be different if you had.

We aren’t bad people. I know you’ve had...encounters with us that might lead you to believe that. You haven’t seen us at our best, haven’t heard of us at our best, but we are capable of so much more. At our core, we’re a family, just like any family. We have our good and our bad, our hopes and our dreams. We want to be safe, protected, loved, free. We want a home. We want the chance to live our lives as ourselves, without being persecuted for who and what we are.

For so many years, the carnival has given us that, and though we live apart from the outside world, we’ve been happy. But...we lost our heart. We lost our way. We’ve been wandering in the desert. I’d like to say we fell when Samuel killed Joseph, but it wasn’t all his doing. Joseph...Joseph wasn’t the saint we make him out to be, and somewhere inside of us, something was falling apart before that. A discontent, a restlessness, a need for something more. Samuel’s power, his drive, his need...it reflects something in all of us.

There is a story I remember from my lost catechism, the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years, longing for home, losing heart, needing to believe in the Promised Land, but ceasing to think it could be real. I think, perhaps, that’s us. Joseph failed as our shepherd. He had no vision for us, no guidance, just a code he clung to, but didn’t believe in. Samuel has a vision, but it’s tainted by hate, by vengeance, by too many years of belittlement and degradation.

We’re a lost flock in need of a shepherd. We say it’s an empath we need--an empath to replace Joseph. Some of them look to me, because it’s my ability, but I’m as lost as they, as trampled down and turned around as everyone else.

You could have been that person. Maybe you still could be. You’re good--I’ve felt it. Pure of heart and soul, longing only to help a world that you see hurting around you, but you don’t fit in, either. No one accepts you--not your friends, not your family. You’ve lost so much, been betrayed by those closest to you, found yourself alone in the wilderness not of your own making.

I know what that’s like. We all do. You could do great things here, save a lot of people, have at your hand countless family members willing to aid you in your quest to help a world in need. We could do good things in the world, instead of ill, with the right guidance. But you haven’t come, even though I’ve felt your soul longing for us without knowing what you reached for. Even when I called for you...you didn’t come.

Maybe one day you will. I just pray it won’t be too late.

~Lydia

[Complete List Here.]
thepainted_lady: ([Samuel] Now hear my confession)
[ooc: Complete list is here.]

Dear Samuel,

This is one of those letters I don't think I'll ever send, which, ironically, would change my answer on the purity test from yesterday. The thing is, though, I don't know that I could stand it if you ever realized how I felt and were...appalled or disgusted or, worse, amused by it. I've never been good at anything real, at knowing how to make things last.

It would all be so much easier if I could just play a part. Be the Painted Lady, the Exotic Temptress for you, lure you in like I do them. But you're not them. You're not anything like them. They touch my skin, think they're possessing me, but I don't remember their names--they just pass right through like wisps of smoke.

You stay, you linger, etched into and under my skin along with your ink. You don't realize it, but I feel every casual touch down to my core. I don't think I could ever be rid of you, no matter how much time or distance came between us.

I'd be yours, if you let me. Am yours, even if you never see how deeply, how much I want you, have always wanted you. All you need to is speak the word I don't think you'll ever say. You look at me, and I feel stripped bare, and, yet...you don't see so much.

Maybe that's for the best. Maybe you never should. Maybe it's better a fantasy, no matter how barren a life of fantasy can become when it never reaches reality. It's dangerous, the things I feel, and I don't think I'd survive the loss of the dream, as well as the hope of one day.

I don't know. Some days, you look at me, and the words tremble on my lips. I wait, and I think, now's the time, this is the moment. Tell him. Move to him. Then the moment passes, and I've stayed frozen in the shell of a life I created for myself.

I don't know what's right anymore. But I love you.

Maybe one day I'll find the courage to let you know.

Lydia
thepainted_lady: ([Edgar] Trust you with my life)
[ooc: The list.]

Dear Edgar,

Sometimes I struggle to find the right words to tell you what you mean to me, how you make me feel. Even now, with pen to paper, knowing I can rewrite this if need be...I find myself hesitating. Some of the words are so easy--best friend, family, love. They're words people use every day, and I think maybe it's their very simpleness that belies what they mean. I know...I know what you feel for me, what you want, and I know you think that I don't love you as much, or that I don't see you, don't feel you.

You're wrong.

I need you, Edgar. I need you the way I need air and water and sunlight. When you're not here, or when things aren't right between us, something inside me breaks, hurts, and you're the only person who can fix it. You think I see you as less than, somehow, or less important than them, but...they come and go, Edgar. You're my constant. You're my northern star. I don't know who I am when you're not around--it's like I'm not me, not fully. You're a part of me.

No one has ever made me feel as safe as you do. No one has ever made me feel as cherished, as special, as loved. You don't look at me and see a piece of flesh to be possessed, but a person to be respected and protected. You believe in me when no one else does, not even me. You make me feel like maybe I can do something, be something more than what I've been before. You're the one I trust with myself, my life, my daughter's life.

And I don't want to lose that. I don't want to do anything to jeopardize that. Because if I lost that...if I lost you...your friendship, your love, your respect, you in my life...I don't know what I'd do. I think I'd lose me.

You're not less than. You're not...unworthy. You're special, more special than you know. I love you. You're my best friend. You're my family. You're my home. You make me strong, complete. I wish I had more than words to make you see...

I'm damaged. I'm broken. You deserve so much better than someone like me. You deserve someone who doesn't need you to hold her together, someone capable of standing up for herself, someone you can build a life with. You deserve the best of everything, not someone who'd just...I would break us, Edgar. Everything that we have...it would disappear and I'd lose you, and I can't bear that. It's selfish, I know, to want you near, to bind you to me in any way when I should just set you free. But what you want...I don't stay away because you're not worthy, Edgar. Please never, ever think that. It's me. I don't deserve you, and I'm a coward--too afraid of what I might lose to risk what I might gain.

I just thought that you should know, at least this once, how much you mean to me, now and always.

Love always,
Lydia
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: ([Samuel] Not your whore)
Whatever she thought she'd felt inside him for her, for them, she knew now she must have imagined because no one who truly loved her could so callously send her against her objections to whore herself for his convenience.
thepainted_lady: (Dreaming of something better)
Death )

Mile )

Paper )

Wine )

Teeth )

Electricity )

Ink )

Sex )

Heaven )

Kitten )

[ooc note: The more canonical drabbles don't refer to any specific Samuel, Edgar or Sylar. Where [livejournal.com profile] hearts_andminds RP/plot or other 'verse seems indicated, Samuel here is [livejournal.com profile] offering_hope and Edgar is [livejournal.com profile] right_handman.]
thepainted_lady: ([Samuel] Cut your heart out with a spoon)
"Don't worry, you'll meet her soon enough."

Worry wasn't really the primary emotion running through Lydia's veins as she watched the blond woman enter the carnival. It was something darker, something she couldn't quite put her finger on. The intensity of it took her by surprise, fingers curling into a fist, fingernails biting into her palms until they bled. The sketch had been good, but the woman was older now, though the softer colored lights of the carnival were as flattering to her as to anyone. But it was the look in her eyes that set Lydia's teeth on edge, looking around as if there were something wrong with their home, something beneath her about them all.

Pushing her hair back behind her ear, Lydia trailed along behind them, gaze assessing, taking apart each little piece of the other woman with a look, and still not seeing what the appeal was.

...Her steps faltered a bit, though, as she realized what she was doing, and she came to a stop, staring after the retreating figures.

"Who's that?" Amanda asked, coming up beside her.

"Samuel's brought her here," Lydia said, trying to ignore the painful twist inside of her stomach.

"Why?"

The words were simple ones, really, or should have been. She'd read it in his eyes, as the cold certainty that she could see him dead had settled in her stomach. But why? For Joseph? For Edgar? For the family? Was he truly a threat, or just grasping power he'd been denied all his life? When she'd told him his secret was safe with her, she'd still believed he could be something more. Part of her knew she was right. You didn't look into a man's soul as often as she had his without knowing him. But she could still deceive herself, it seemed.

"Mom? Why is she here? Who is she?"

The words came, from some hollow pit she couldn't quite feel from. "He loves her."

"Her?" She could feel Amanda's shock like some dim echo, recognizing that emotion if she was only starting to put a name to hers. "But I thought..."

"You were wrong." Lydia's voice came softly, but it felt like each word was a slice of a knife.

She felt the cut of the realization that had been growing for a while, now, and with it the sting of tears that burned off in the wave of something darker, something that must have shown on her face.

"Mom...?" The worry was easy enough to feel, as well, as she let herself focus on the emotions around her instead of her own. Maybe she couldn't name the feeling pressing down and choking her without admitting things she'd no intention of saying aloud, but she could recognize the secondary emotion it sparked welling up in a red wave.

"Samuel's going to be busy for a little while," she said quietly, breathing in the familiar scents of popcorn and caramel and fried delights around them. "I think it's time we had a family meeting."

Turning away from the sight of the couple lingering at the door of Samuel's trailer, she swung around and moved toward the family's gathering area. Apparently there were limits to her loyalty, after all.
thepainted_lady: ([Samuel] Not your whore)
She wants to be strong, proud, to set an example her daughter can be proud of, but he quells each rebellion with a touch or a word, and once again she finds herself falling back in line whether she wills it or no.
thepainted_lady: ([Sylar] Tell me what you want)
[ooc: The use of Sylar isn't aimed at any particular muse. Just playing around with canon interpretation a bit. If anyone would be interested in playing off of it, please let me know. :-)]

The first time she speaks to Sylar, she knows what Samuel wants of her. He doesn't have to say anything blatant, nor does he demand she cross any lines she isn't comfortable with. Be nice. Make him feel welcome, like he could be part of the family.

In truth, it's nothing he needs to ask--she'd do that for any lost soul who found a way to them. It's part of her gift to be able to connect with other people, to know what to say to make them feel safe. She can't be offended at Samuel wanting that from her, and Sylar doesn't make it difficult to do her job. Even as confused and lost as he is, he's charming, and he's kind to her, and the smiles she gives him don't have to be faked. He makes her laugh, and the more comfortable he becomes, the more she wants to see if she can return the favor, coax a smile, ease the confusion behind his eyes. Edgar's jealousy takes her aback, the juggler seeing something there she hadn't intended, but once her attention is drawn to it, she can't deny the faint pulse of awareness that moves between them. Not what her friend intended, no, and it hurts her to see him upset, but Sylar...did nothing wrong, in her mind. Edgar had no right to go acting as if she were some possession of his to start a fight over. When Sylar stands after dinner, a member of their family, she slides into his arms without reservation, her own desire fueling each movement far more than any edict from Samuel could.

It's been too long since she's let herself really connect with anyone more deeply than a random encounter, but she gives as much as she takes that night, and if she's smiling the next morning, she doesn't think anyone can blame her. A girl deserves to have a little fun in between all the work, sometimes. If it hurts a little when he disappears without a word, she keeps that to herself.

It's different when he comes back. Things have deteriorated; the center is not holding. Her family is falling apart around her: Samuel has lost his way completely; she's been to the past, seen Joseph's death; Amanda is in danger, but won't listen and leave; Edgar has been banished. And Sylar arrives ready to kill them all. Samuel's casual assumption that she'll just take him to her bed again hurts more than it should for reasons she doesn't want to admit, and she's afraid of him, afraid for Amanda, resentful at being ordered to be a whore. Before was her choice, when she still believed in the message she was bringing. Now...

But when she touches him, when his lips meet hers, the flare of feeling is still the same. Under the anger, the resentment, the fear, the desperate need to find them all a savior is a woman's want. He's new to her power. He doesn't see that far. They trade their lies, both of them lost--his fear wraps around hers, but there's too much at stake to truly comfort him, not this time. And if she fixes him...finds his ability to kill again...what then of those she loves? It all gets tangled and frustration fuels her words, and then it's over and he's gone, and she can't take back anything she said.

She wonders if he knows she didn't mean the last, wonders if he heard the lie, wonders if he ever wanted her the way she wanted him, wonders if he could have been the one to save them all if only she'd played her hand a little better, wonders what might have been, then.

She keeps on wondering over the wanting, but the answers never come.
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.

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Lydia

October 2011

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