Categories > TV > Dark Angel > If Scheherazade


by sheepy 0 reviews

Ben discovers the subtle shift from love to obsession to insanity. (Slash. "Pollo Loco" pre-ep.)

Category: Dark Angel - Rating: R - Genres: Angst - Characters: Ben, Krit, Zack - Warnings: [!!] [V] [X] - Published: 2005-05-19 - Updated: 2005-05-19 - 3090 words

If Scheherazade
by Melissa the Sheep (Pooh_Bah)

Part 1/6
Posted October 20, 2001

Date: September 1, 2001 to March 27, 2002
Rating: R
Summary: Ben discovers the subtle shift from love to obsession to insanity. Slash, angst, "Pollo Loco" pre-ep.
Spoilers: Zack arc of "411 on the DL" through "Blah Blah, Woof Woof." Some characterizations are built on references and/or appearances in episodes through "And Jesus Brought a Casserole."
Warning: Like I said, this is slash, Ben slash. I'm hesitant to be any more specific about pairings--caveat emptor.
Disclaimer: Dark Angel belongs to James Cameron, Charles Eglee, and/or FOX.

Notes: Dedicated to Carla Jane--it's still your fault, though some people probably worship you now. Thanks to Jane for encouragement when my confidence waned, to Sylvia for the shirt idea, and to Rashka for babysitting Pike.

And before anybody else tells me this, "pollo loco" does translate to "crazy chicken"--/literally./ But "pollo" is also slang for "young man" (that or my Spanish-English dictionary is lying to me).



"You're hiding your instincts
every minute of every day,
so no one will know
who you really are."


There have always been two options: what you were designed and trained for, and the humanity they couldn't edit out.

You've always been fascinated by the choice. You've looked at your siblings, ranged across the scale. Van is firmly at the designed end, making only enough pretense at humanity that nobody realizes what she is. Zane is just as firmly human--he's always had normal-human relationships and jobs and homes, and you hear he even bought a dog recently. Zack is near Van, Krit and Pike have moments at all points on the scale, Brin and Tinga and Mab tend toward Zane's end. Syl is in the dead center, blending in almost flawlessly but keeping her head clear of sentimental traps.

Jondy struggles with her dual instincts sometimes--she says it's because her insomnia gives her too much time to think. You struggle too. You think too much, just like Jondy, and you hate to imagine what would happen if you couldn't sleep. You would probably go insane.

It's not that the choice is hard to make. It takes only a look at Van's soulless eyes for the humanity in you to reject that option. . . . Something in you isn't quite comfortable with Zane's lack of discipline, either, but it's not as bad as Van.

So you lean toward humanity, toward telling stories and making friends and falling in love. You try to ignore the reminders of what you are, the flashes of bloodied limbs that pass behind your eyes sometimes, the moments when you shy away from physical contact because something feral in you still doesn't trust human beings.

You're human, mostly. And you know that's the better option.

You can't remember when you fell in love with Zack. The closest you can figure is some time while you were with Ethan, before Zack shot him. You cried when you found him dead, but it was more relief than sorrow.

You do remember exactly when you first kissed Zack, first took him into bed, first threw him out of his routine traveling. It was less than twenty-four hours after Ethan, less than a thousand miles from the bloody corpse in Detroit. Zack only left you when Jondy called the contact number, worried because he was more than a week late to check in on her.

You remember finding out about Van, a year later when the twins dropped in and Pike was showing you the latest picture he'd been able to get of her.

"You know," Krit said to Pike, though he was watching you look at the photo, "you really should leave her alone."

"Or what, she'll smash my nose again?" Pike returned flippantly.

Krit shrugged. "Or Zack might turn a couple million dollars' worth of biotechnology into ketchup."

"What the hell are you talking about? Zack's always wanted to turn me into ketchup. Van's got nothing to do with it."

"He's screwing her again," said Krit, with a careful eye on you and your reaction.

"He isn't!" cried Pike, sharp and pitiful.

"Hell yeah," Krit argued. "I was at her place last week and it reeked of Zack and sex. Doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out they're not estranged any more."

"Fuck," Pike wailed.

"Chill. She never liked you anyway, and you know it."

"Yeah, but . . . but . . . Fuck, Krit! This is just terrible! Right, Ben? It's terrible isn't it, Zack stealing your crush?"

You nodded silently. There were worse things, though, like your big sister stealing Zack.

You remember going to Utah and telling her to back off. She beat you black and blue, not out of jealousy, but out of offense that you'd aimed a kick at her head when the two of you argued. She's always had the same cold heartless way that Zack does, and it still makes you bitter to think how perfectly they fit together.

You don't know why you hate Van so much. You knew all along that Zack didn't love you, and you know he never loved her either. He's never tried to hide the one-night stands, the bruises and scrapes that aren't from fights. Maybe you just wanted to be the only serious one--and it's serious with Van, even if there's no love lost between them.

You try not to think of her much. After three years, you're pretty good at it.

Zack is waiting for you when you unlock the door and walk into your apartment. He's been gone longer than usual, almost two months, and you've missed him more than you dare admit. You smile and stride toward him with opened arms.

He doesn't walk over to meet you, doesn't return your smile or embrace or kiss.

You pull back and look at him with one eye narrowed. You're not really surprised, though.

"It's over, Ben," he says. His voice is low and quiet, but his calm only makes the words sting more.

No, you're not surprised. You knew all along that he was fickle, selfish, uncaring. It was a mistake to love him at all, and that mistake has compounded day by day until this moment.

"Zack," you moan. Your voice cracks--you can't even manage the dignity of dry eyes, an unwavering jaw, a stoic acceptance of what was inevitable.

But was it inevitable, really? You can't think of a reason Zack would leave you like this, forever. It's not for someone else-- the one-night stands and Van never kept him from coming back to you. He can't be tired of you, because he would have drifted away slowly, not just come back one day to break it off. You know he likes the convenience of having you right there, ready and eager any time he wants you. You doubt he's suddenly developed a moral code that forbids illicit affairs or sleeping with another man.

You won't ask him his reasons. He wouldn't answer, and it doesn't really matter anyway.

You will beg him to stay, though. You'll try to seduce him into one more time, and another time after that--like Scheherazade spinning her stories night after night, genies in lamps and treasures in caves and brave sailors slaying monsters, until the sultan finally forgot he'd ever wanted to chop off her head. But you've poured your heart and soul and humanity into loving Zack, and all of that is at stake now. If Scheherazade had failed, all she had to lose was a life already set to end at dawn.

"Please, Zack," you whisper.

You don't wait for an answer before you kiss him again, slowly, mouth, jaw, neck, down to the collar of his tee shirt.

He doesn't try to stop you.

You keep kissing your way down. You know he can feel your lips through the shirt as clearly as a normal man would feel on bare skin. Your hand goes on ahead, stops on the front of his jeans, strokes idly while it waits for your mouth to catch up. How can he tell you it's over, when he can't convince his own body not to want you?

He doesn't try to stop you. That means you've got a chance, and a chance is all you really need. You'll make him take back what he said--sometimes words don't mean a thing coming from Zack.

"Please, Zack," you beg again as you finish sinking to your knees and start working his belt and button and zipper.

He doesn't try to stop you.

You've done this a thousand times before and never once felt ashamed. This time, though, you feel cheap and dirty, guilty for stooping this low to manipulate him. . . . But then, does he deserve respect and honesty? Has he been treating you any better than you're treating him right now? He deserves to have his mind screwed over. You still have the power to do that--you've always had a little power over him, even though he's stubborn, even though it's always been just sex to him, even though his hold on you has always been so much stronger.

He doesn't try to stop you, doesn't try to stop himself from enjoying this.

It takes only minutes, you know, but the time seems to stretch as you kneel there. Seconds are multiplied by your dread for what might come next, Zack saying again that it's over and suiting his actions to his words. Minutes seem like hours as you pay such close attention to all the familiar details, make certain you'll remember Zack's taste and feel and the sounds of groans too quiet for a normal ear to hear. He feels and tastes and sounds just like he always does. You thought last times were meant to be different, regretful and tender. You remember that Zack doesn't harbor regrets, and no matter how gentle he is, he'll never be tender.

You're finished suddenly as he groans and shudders, then pulls away still breathing hard.

You get to your feet, lick your dry lips, swallow. You're right there beside him the moment his jeans are fastened again, arms wrapped around his waist and shoulders, lips at the corner of his mouth.

"Please, Zack," you murmur.

"It's over, Ben." This time his words are real, because he pushes you away and walks past you to the door.

You don't try to stop him.

You stand there in your apartment, arms empty, ears full of his footsteps fading away, the taste of him still fresh in your mouth.

You can feel your heart breaking. Tears aren't strong enough to express pain like this, but they're all you have.

You stand in front of Van's house, a tiny square of adobe and stucco with a drooping, thick-trunked eucalyptus tree and some weeds dying in the draught El Paso has been under. It's four in the morning, and the side of her house is still radiating heat left over from the day.

There are two windows in the front of the house, and you pick the one by the door. It's open; it has to be for the swamp cooler to work. You push it open the rest of the way and step inside. Van's living room is about what you expected--three computers, mountains of papers and books, a sofa that looks ready to fall apart. Your shoe sticks a bit on the floor. Van's not much of a housekeeper. Most of your brothers and sisters aren't.

You pull out your knife as you turn down a short hallway to find her bedroom, on the other side from a bathroom and a heater closet, past a framed photograph of somebody else's family. The photo probably came with the house, and Van hasn't bothered to take it down. You wonder what kind of people would leave their family portrait on the wall when they moved out.

It's a good thing you didn't use the bedroom window--the double bed is pushed up against it, and Van, in nothing but white cotton panties, is sprawled on top. Like a shadow, you drift across the room, lean over her, lay the blade against her throat. Her eyes snap open at the contact and her body tenses almost imperceptibly. "Ben?" she whispers harshly, too surprised to say anything more.

"What did you do?" you hiss.

"What the fuck are you talking about?" she hisses back.

You press the blade until a dark trickle appears against the edge. The smell of her blood makes you light-headed. It takes conscious effort not to think of what would happen if you kept pressing--crow-black eyes glossed over, copper skin marked by dried red smears, strong hand gone limp and cold.

She winces, actually winces, at the pain and the threat of death.

"Did you make him give up the one-night stands too, Van? Or am I just special?"

"Oh," she says, suddenly soft. She raises a hand and lays it gently on your shoulder, and looks up at you with unusual sympathy in her eyes. "Oh, little brother. Didn't he tell you why?"

You shake your head, ease up on the blade a little.

The moment your guard is relaxed, your back hits the floor. She has you pinned with a knee on your chest and a hand squeezing your throat, breasts swinging from the motion of throwing you down. Her grip is barely light enough that you don't black out-- she's always had perfect, deliberate control of her hands, never a twitch, never a slip. Your knife is gone, and you have no idea where it is now.

"You're bullshitting yourself, Ben," Van snarls. "Like I give a flying fuck if you're Zack's bitch? Like I could get that asshole to stop screwing around? Like he'd come back to you if you knocked me off? You're fuckin' delusional."

Her hand tightens the slightest bit. She probably didn't intend it--she doesn't seem to notice your struggle to stay conscious. Her voice starts to stretch and warp in time with the room's erratic tilting.

"I'll tell you what happened, Ben. He found Max, hasn't fucked anything since that doesn't look like her. . . . He doesn't want me. . . . He doesn't want you. . . . He's not coming back to either of us. . . . "

You hope desperately that your oxygen-starved mind is twisting her words around into something they're not--if what you're hearing is true, then there would be no reason to keep going, no reason to resist Van's hand slowly cutting off your life. . . . But maybe resistance does no good anyway. Maybe you're just denying her coldly accurate prediction, and he really isn't coming back.

Everything is fading to black, when the chokehold suddenly disappears. Van shrinks away, rocking back on her heels with a shudder. You sit up, pulling in huge gasping breaths between fits of coughing.

She folds her arms loosely over her knees as she watches you. Her breasts are left exposed, but she knows her woman's body won't ever interest you. Her throat is bared too, and that's the part of her that has your attention. The blood has stopped flowing, and is beginning to dry in trickles down to her collar bone. You're fascinated by the violence you were willing to commit, by the blood scent still in the air, by the vulnerability under her stony demeanor.

It's just before dawn now, and there's a cold blue light filtering in through the window. Out of all of you, Van's face has changed the most since the escape, chiseled and bronzed and solemn where it used to be soft and pale and almost sweet. In the pre-dawn light, she still reminds you of the girl who sprinted with Brin into the woods.

You cough again, then raise a hand to your throat and wince at the bruises you feel forming.

"Serves you right," says Van. "Psycho."

"I hate you."

"You try any more shit, and I'll kick your lily ass into the middle of next week."

You jump to your feet, fight off a brief wave of dizziness. "Yeah right," you snap.

She rises slowly, quiet feral dignity betrayed only by the fury in her eyes. "I'm bigger, stronger, and not insanely jealous of someone Zack isn't even fucking any more."

"He didn't leave you," you argue.

Van doesn't answer, just stands there looking at you. You dart forward to tackle her, but she dodges. You don't have time to regain your balance before she grabs you by the collar of your shirt and throws you toward the open door. You hit the wall beside it, face-first. Before the stars can clear, she pulls you away and tosses you through the door and into the hallway's wall. The family portrait falls from its nail at your impact, and the glass shatters on the floor. She walks right over the shards after propelling you into the living room. You manage to stumble to a stop before you hit the wall there--Van catches up soon, though, and smacks you hard against the front door.

She lets you lean dizzily against a bookcase for a moment while she opens the front door. You look back the way you came, see the trail of her bloody footprints across the dirty linoleum, wonder if that'll be enough to make her mop the floor.

"He left me," Van insists as she gathers you up to toss you out into the yard.

You could have avoided the eucalyptus trunk if you'd been in better shape. You should have been smarter than to tangle with Van, you think as the dried leaves shower down around you.

"Ask Pike," her suggestion registers through the fog of adrenaline and pain. "He was here when it happened."

There's a thump above you, a lighter shower of leaves, and you look up. The knife blade is buried in the tree trunk, inches from the top of your head. You're not sure if Van missed her target, or just meant to make you nervous.

"I don't want to see your face around here again," she says. You turn around just in time to see the front door close.

You reach up and pull the knife from the tree. The blade still has her blood on it, and you don't bother to clean it before putting it back in its sheath. You lean against the tree for support, until your legs feel steady again. It feels like a long time before you can walk away.

[ END Part 1/6 ]
Sign up to rate and review this story