Rebecca moves across the world
She's a sirocco on the sand
She is the Nile that flows forever
Cutting a wound across the land
Laddie wrapped his arms around his stomach, pressing cold fingers into the leather jacket in search of heat. Winters in Missouri were cold, far colder than those he’d spent in California over ten years ago. The dark clouds that hovered overhead spat snow in a spastic blur of white.
Silence smothered the houses, wrapping them in a stillness that few would dare to break. He couldn’t number himself among that few; his lips clung to each other with such force that he wasn’t able to gather the energy to force them open, to shove sound past his rattling teeth.
Night offered a sanctuary to the young adult, cradled him to its bosom, sending brief bursts of smooth air to caress his cheek and reveal a plentitude of glistening stars overhead as the breeze moved clouds hither and there.
Hunger roiled within his stomach; Laddie tightened his arms, pressing them into his skin until it bent beneath the pressure and he thought his gut would split open, enveloping his hands in a rush of warm blood and sticky entrails.
Better to spill his own blood than give in to the ache inside, the burning need that dragged him down, into the trembling darkness, into the blur of memories, the murky scenes the only reminder of his past he had left.
Laddie’s steps quickened; his boots, heavy motorcycle leather, styled in the same one once worn by a tall, dark man, thumping against the snow-littered ground. The sound, reminiscent of boots against the concrete of the Boardwalk, brought to mind flowing black hair, well-worn leather, and the rumble of a motorcycle, its engine hand-built to power perfection.
A white light washed over him, made brighter by the lack of lights from the buildings on either side of the narrow street. The roar of the bike danced out of his thoughts and manifested itself in real life; he could feel the heat of the machine as it surged past him.
The rear wheel kicked up a shower of gray snow, the whiteness marred by a mix of city-sludge and bracken, before it shuddered to a stop, the faint wheeze of the gears shifting down a new sound that threatened to destroy the familiarity.
Brown hair, nondescript except for its length, spilled out of the black helmet, required by law in Missouri. Dark eyes fixated on his face, and Laddie had to struggle to keep his features immobile, filled with disinterest. She stepped toward him, just one inch, and he felt his mouth open, cracking at the corners from the tension dancing through him.
“Laddie,” she breathed, pressing both hands into her thighs. He could see the faint red marks staining the skin along her lower lip; what could have been a too-dark lipstick was something worse, he knew without comprehending.
“Rebecca,” he replied, recognizing her despite the seven years added to her plain features. His skin bunched into wrinkles at the corner of his eyes, his lips, his forehead, and she mimicked the expression.
She'll be your friend before you know her
She'll have your trust before it's earned
But like any nomad she will wander
Breaking the hearts of all concerned
“It’s been a long time.” Laddie spoke when it became obvious she wouldn’t; as used to silence as he was, the quiet that stretched between the two of them was taut with agony, vibrating the very air around his head. His mind ached from an unknown pressure, but the walls he’d built over the last year, walls to keep the danger radiating from the city out, and the danger growing within the pit of his stomach in, gave off only a blank whiteness.
“Years,” she breathed, letting her head rise and fall in a practiced nod. Lips parted to reveal a perfect tongue and glistening teeth; the mirage almost wiped away the lack of beauty in her face.
“They don’t work on me,” Laddie told her, stepping sideways, his feet sure as he moved through the icy mush. He shoved his back against the bricks and felt some of the tension bleed into them, filling the half-empty crevices.
“What?” On a mortal, the innocent expression might have worked; Rebecca had obviously learned to hold her head just so, to fill her eyes with that certain light, to force her lips to form the words with a precision that would be accepted by most.
Not by him.
“The glamour,” he waved his hand at her face, his words vague because of a purpose he hadn’t yet identified within his mind. “The…perfection.”
“You think I’m ugly.” As quickly as it appeared, the glimmer of loveliness was gone, leaving features he knew and understood better than the pale face that glared back at him from the mirror when the situation was just right.
History clouds what we remember
The one you wanted her to be
Mystery shrouds her like an island
But it's an island in a lonely sea
He hadn’t needed to refute her statement; no feeling of chivalry made him remind her of the truth they both knew. Again silence descended, blanketing them in a layer of peace much as the clouds overhead covered the city in a layer of snow.
Laddie’s gaze brushed her face, the lines, the pale skin and flushed cheeks, and the eyes that shone with an inner fire, burning hotter than he’d ever seen. He remembered how once those orbs had been dull balls within the sunken expressions she forced onto her face; despair, anger, hunger.
He remembered the straight lines of her body, melted now into curves and bumps, swells beneath her tight clothing. His head turned until his chin could rest against his shoulder and still he watched, waiting for the child he once knew to spill out of the woman standing before him, split her body like a cocoon, and spread out arms glistening with blood in a parody of wings.
“Far from the ocean now,” Rebecca sank back down onto her motorcycle, resting her feet on the sidewalk to keep her balance. Even that position was contrived; the muscles of her legs were too slack, the placement of her arms too perfect. It would have worked on others; Laddie had known her too well, so long ago.
A shrug lifted his broad shoulders, resituating them inside his jacket. The scent of leather wafted up from the fabric, mixing with stale urine stench and a hint of flowers that could only come from her.
“I didn’t mean to…go,” she told him, able to perceive something in the blank lines of his face. “I would have stayed with you. You know that…”
Laddie remained quiet; only the arch of his eyebrows belied his feigned deafness. She arched her back and leaned up, levitating off of the bike though her feet never left the ground.
“I didn’t want to leave,” she continued her defense until he shoved a hand into the air, palm facing her. Darkness shoved away from his skin and abraded her face; her words trailed off and she waited, waited for his punishment, waited for his voice.
Waited for some sign he understood her fate.
“That’s not what I remember,” he growled the words, keeping them deep within his throat where they would do no harm in being free to the world. She parted her lips and smacked the closed again, no breath passing her lips.
He remembered, not what she claimed, but the truth his very eyes had seen. He remembered that summer, the ache he’d been left with, the ache he’d begun with. He remembered the feels and the smells and the taste of mortality.
She dropped back onto the bike, and he remembered.
I was thirteen going on forty
Wasting my summer on the beach
Burned on the outside, raw in the middle
That Molly's just too hard to reach
He was thirteen, closer to fourteen than twelve; once shaggy hair now clung to his scalp in a brush of prickled spikes, buzzed off until his pale skin was visible between each strand. The short hair was an attempt to forget the past, to forget the darkness and nights of reveling in pain.
It almost worked; thoughts of the Boys and the life they’d thrust upon him had been delegated to his dreams, and the murky half-images that existed only in the moments between sleep and wake.
Rebecca was a street kid too, his age, younger even, all gaunt skin and needy eyes. He stole food and she ate it; he dug through garbage bins for hours to fill her grumbling belly while his screamed its rage at being ignored.
After Michael had won his battle, Star clung to his side for a year, maybe two. Laddie had disappeared before six months was out, unable to like the new, human girl. Unwilling to, perhaps, because her attention was no longer for him, but strictly for Michael, her knight in shining armor, he’d heard her say once. No more did Dwayne hold him, soothe away the nightmares so he could sleep.
Ten and thirteen are a light year apart. No longer could he remember the hunger for blood gagging his throat each night; the clearest thought was that of flying, lifting up into the sky and dancing with the breeze. Even those memories grew weak, faded, worn at the edges like often examined photographs.
Rebecca clung to him at night as they burrowed beneath cardboard or huddled together in doorways, seeking out the warmth those inside took for granted. She cried at night, salty spills of water that burned his skin and his heart; each time he wiped away the remnants of her pain and promised she’d be ok from now on, happy from now on, safe.
He’d failed each of those.
She wasn’t ok, not in any sense of the word. He hid from that knowledge for weeks, months, burying his fear in a frenzied attempt to make her normal, sane. Only when her screams were the loudest, when her mouth twisted around words of destruction and the horror she shouldn’t have been aware of—not even he, who had experienced it, was aware in more than a peripheral sense—did he make himself see that she had problems.
Visions, some might have called them, a blessing, others would say. He voiced neither word, refused to speak of them beyond a muttered promise that it was a dream and she’d be fine as long as she opened her eyes, took a deep breath of cold air, and woke up.
Please wake up, he’d force the words out past dry lips; his eyes burned from being held wide open for too many nights. He couldn’t let himself sleep, not when she believed that a monster would come for her in the darkness, take her away from the shelter of his small body and his promises of care.
Rebecca moved in, yeah she moved me
She was the best friend I'd ever had
And then one day she went away
Didn't think I'd ever feel that bad
She was happy. Rebecca told him that, when they scampered from one street to the next, avoiding police and too-nosey adults alike, the sun beating down against their heads, warming them from the roots of their hair on down.
“I never wanna stop,” she called out as she pulled herself up onto the bottom rung of a fire escape, Laddie pushing against her feet to give her stability. “Not ever. I just wanna be free, with you.”
The smile she flashed down at him from her perch, all red lips and bright teeth, warmed him more than the sun ever could. He found the energy to hurry after her, letting her lead the way to the roof as if she was in charge of their little two-some.
In time, he’d have to admit she was.
But the happiness never lasted; as soon as the light began to fade, leaving the corners of buildings deep in shadow, Rebecca grew quiet. Each passing moment brought more stillness to her body; at last, as the sun disappeared from the sky, she stopped speaking altogether.
Until the screams began again.
No matter what he did, Laddie couldn’t stop the terror that overwhelmed her each night. He didn’t know what words to say; he couldn’t remember just what it was that dark man…Dwayne! His unconscious yelped when he struggled to remember…told him whenever he himself had had such nightmares.
Each day he waited for night to fall, his heart pounding faster and faster within his just until he expected it to break free; each night he prayed for dawn and sanctuary from Rebecca’s images of horror.
Where did you go?
Why did you lie?
Why did you leave without saying goodbye?
How 'bout the promise
That you made me?
Was it really so easy to trade me
For another town
Another beginning without any end.
He’d failed when it came to safety. That hurt the worst, drove daggers of agony into his stomach and back, twisted them until the tips pierced bone and scraped along the lines of solid material.
Sleep was unavoidable; no matter how hard he fought it, how he pressed his eyes open, first without aid, and then with his fingers, dirty skin shoving against his eyelashes, at last they drifted shut and Laddie’s body allowed itself to be sucked down into dreams.
For the first time in months, things he’d forgotten, struggled to ignore, surged to life. The Lost Boys rode again, the roar of their phantom-bikes shaking his body. His hands grasped at them, reaching for Star as she once was, for Dwayne, his dark hair brushing the younger-Laddie’s cheeks. He sailed through the air, dancing with the stars, dragging their faint white light around his body.
He careened toward the ground, searching for dinner, any port in a storm to ease the hunger inside. His arms stretched out in front of his body, fingers spread apart, the wind whipping in between them.
His prey was there, on the sand, cavorting through shadow and light, neon clothes and tangled hair trademark to their kind. He swooped down, eyes narrowed until they were golden streaks in his blurred face, aiming at the tallest. He could see the blood pumping through her body, see the pulse pounding in her throat.
Laddie’s dream-body slammed into the ground, shattering bones, purging his blood from the fragile shell that had contained it. His mind, his very essence, exploded in a wash of pain, stronger than the pull of moon on ocean, and all went black.
So many times I would've called you
If I'd had your number in my hand
You were the one I would've turned to
When things didn't go the way I'd planned
I never got a chance to tell you
Things didn't go the way I'd planned...
When he’d woken up, Rebecca was gone. Gouges ran along his arms, the blood already blackened and dry; she’d struggled to hold on to him, fighting whatever had taken her, and he hadn’t even woken up.
He’d failed her.
A year was spent berating himself, not eating, rarely sleeping, and always beating himself against walls, both literal and metaphorical. Two years after that were wasted…not wasted, he amended, but used up…in his search for his Rebecca.
At sixteen he gathered his wits about him, stopped to evaluate his life, and gave up. Not on himself, but on finding her, on escaping his past. He settled down, found a job, rarely spoke. Worked in the factory, the graveyard shift, packing thick sweatshirts, emblazoned with mountains and cheesy slogans, into boxes. During the day he could sleep and forget, but if he was idle at night, he spent all his time remembering.
He turned nineteen on a Wednesday; there was nothing special about it, except for the extra fries he treated himself to at dinner…really his breakfast, because of the hours he enjoyed. Nothing would have been special, either, except for the fact that his shift ended early since the factory was being closed down. He’d already planned to find a new job, maybe a new city, and had his tiny car packed full.
His past descended on him once more in the few hours before the sun rose. Agony collapsed from the sky, driving him into the concrete. His head struck stone and bright rainbow colors swam before his eyes, fading in and out into a murky gray.
Teeth tore at his neck, fangs, slicing through his skin as if it were paper; the monster…his mind wouldn’t quite wrap around the true name of the creature…gouged him with claws and chewed on his throat, leaving piles of scar tissue.
He drank what it pressed to him; salty-tang flooded his taste buds until he sank into oblivion, unable to see what happened, taste what entered his body. He woke, past noon, inside his basement apartment, slumped in a pile just inside the door. His throat throbbed, his body ached…and a hunger he vaguely recognized stirred within his belly.
Running, once again, seemed like the only option.
History clouds what I remember
The one I wanted her to be
Mystery shrouds her like an island
Does she still remember me?
The first time he’d been turned, he’d spent only four months fighting the urge to feed, and he’d had Star’s encouragement to get him through the rough spots, even though the Boys had fought to tempt him into a full conversion. A year into being a half-vampire for the second time, he wasn’t sure he’d survive much longer.
Then Rebecca appeared, dark beauty, a creature of the night herself, and he wondered if it was coincidence that she came to him so close to the anniversary of his turning; in two days he’d be twenty.
“This is my fault,” she whispered, rising from the motorcycle. She waved one hand toward him, taking in the dark shadows creeping along his skin beneath his eyes. “I shouldn’t have talked about you.”
Laddie wondered if the questions in his mind would make it all the way to his mouth before he lost his precious control and attacked her. He didn’t want to believe what she said, but Rebecca had never before lied to him…except for her promise to stay.
“What the hell?” he muttered, but before he could force more words out, she grabbed his hands, pulling him toward her until their bodies pressed together, tight and intimate.
“He wanted to know who you were,” Rebecca kept her voice low and her lips near his ear so that her breath caressed his skin with every syllable. “Where you came from, what you talked about…what troubled you in your dreams. I told him; I couldn’t help it. He twisted my mind until it felt right.”
“Who’s he?” Laddie had to gulp between the words, his throat working up and down as he struggled to remember how to speak. She chuckled and kissed him, pressing ice-covered lips to his cheek.
And see he did; dinner landed in front of him, held aloft by long arms attached to a tall, lean body, capped with white hair still lifting in spikes. He blinked, his vision blurred as his mind refused to take in what he was seeing, and blinked again.
“Horn isn’t wood,” David thrust the body of a young woman, reminiscent of what Star might have looked at at fourteen, toward him. “And half isn’t whole, Laddie.” Blood trickled down her throat from twin puncture wounds on each side of her neck, the liquid staining her pale skin.
“Drink,” Rebecca begged him, pressing her hands to his arm. She leaned in, breathing against his lips, though their mouths remained that last breath apart. “Drink, Laddie.”
“Yes, drink,” David echoed, releasing the girl’s body into his arms. Automatically Laddie reached out to keep her from falling, tumbling to the ground where she’d hurt herself…laughter bubbled from his chapped lips, because how much more pain was to be found in his arms.
My life is like a turnstile
So many strangers passing through
There've been more than I can number
But I still remember you
What more could he do but drink? Give in to the faint memories, the stronger call of his stomach, and the dark angel hugging against his back as his fangs fell and he devoured the innocent.
All on a lonely winter night.
Author's Chapter Notes:
Disclaimer: Characters from The Lost Boys belong to WB Studios. "Rebecca" belongs to Mackenzi Phillips and the Disney Channel.
Dedication: To Keya because I know you can get through the difficult semester. To Sammy because I thoroughly enjoyed the first of the "Twist of Shadows" series.
Dedication: To Keya because I know you can get through the difficult semester. To Sammy because I thoroughly enjoyed the first of the "Twist of Shadows" series.