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: 2005-05-20 - 3296 words

If Scheherazade
by Melissa the Sheep (Pooh_Bah)

Part 6/6
Posted March 27, 2002



"If your brother was a killer,
would you want people to know?"


You have to leave, you realize as you lie on the floor seizing. Krit's gone to check on Steve, and now it's all falling apart. He won't forgive you for this, and you don't know why you ever thought he might. Maybe you just weren't thinking.

You try your best to stand up, and you fail. Sometimes, with some things, it's pointless to try--but so many times, you've been too stubborn to admit defeat. You're admitting it now.

You wait until your limbs stop twitching and then you rise--maybe success is all a matter of timing. You pick up the tryptophan bottle Krit left beside you, and you fumble it open and swallow a few pills.

You pause for a few moments to clear your head, and then you get dressed to leave. Krit left a shirt crumpled on the bed, and you put that on--it smells like him and a little bit like you. You want so badly to be comforted by that. But you're not.

You left your shoes on Steve's bedroom floor, so you put on Krit's scuffed-up combat boots. They're too tight and that's going to drive you nuts, and you wonder if that's anything like what loving him did to you. They're the best you can do, though, so you keep them on.

Once you're dressed, you move on to luggage--you're not going to leave New Orleans empty-handed, the way you left Salt Lake City after Zack abandoned you. You take Krit's dusty olive-drab duffel bag from under the bed, and you go over to his dresser to start packing the things you'll need. He keeps an envelope full of fifty-dollar bills taped to the back of the dresser, and you help yourself to it--you don't feel the slightest guilt for stealing from him, because he's done so much worse to you. You'll need clothes, too--his size is close enough to yours that you've been borrowing from him, so you'll take from him as well. You throw in a few pairs of jeans from the bottom drawer. When you open the middle drawer for shirts, you freeze--there's Steve's scent floating out toward you. One by one you pick up the shirts and raise them to your nose. About half of them, the worn ones that always hang a little too loose on Krit's slim frame, smell as if Steve wore them for a long time before he passed them on to Krit or Krit stole them.

You pack up every one of Steve's shirts.

You don't want to leave. Any excuse to stay, you're willing to take--so here you are in the church, sitting at the end of a pew, duffel on the floor beside you. You hope that Krit cares enough to look for you here, to come inside in spite of the fears the sanctuary stirs up in him, to tell you it's all okay.

You wait for hours, staring forward at the Virgin and sitting numbly through two masses and countless visitors to the confessionals, until finally, when the church is empty for the moment, you hear hesitant steps coming into the foyer and up the side aisle. You continue to look ahead as you hear him stop at your pew. He stands in the aisle right beside you, watching you.

"Damn you, Ben," he hisses, too quiet for anybody but you to hear, if anybody else had been here. You can barely make out the quiver in his voice, and you don't know whether it's grief for Steve or his fear of churches.

You don't reply. You don't look at him. Your hopes are too fragile, and the slightest thing could shatter them.

Krit pulls in a shaking breath.

"I hid the body," he says. "I cleaned up the apartment."

"Thank you," you whisper.

His fist comes out of nowhere and catches you right on one of your worst bruises. Your head snaps back with the impact.

"Fuck you, Ben! You think it was easy for me to do that? Does that even matter to you? Doesn't anybody else matter? Why's it all about you?"

You shake your head. You finally look up at him--that blow was enough to get rid of all your hopes, and there's no way for him to hurt you more. His eyes are red, and his face is streaked with dirt and sweat or tears. He's got mud on his clothes and arms; he must have sunk the body in the bayou.

"It's never been about me . . . " Never. Not with Ethan, not with Zack, not with Krit. Not even with Joel. You've finally taken things into your own hands, just this once, and you don't think that's so selfish.

"The hell it hasn't. Why do you think I let you stay with me, and slept with you, and took care of you so long? I should've sent you to L.A. when you first showed up on my doorstep. Zane would've taken you in same as I did, and you wouldn't have killed anybody over him."

"He wouldn't have screwed me and then screwed me over, either. He wouldn't have lied about loving me."

Krit narrows his eyes and shakes his head. "I never said I loved you, Ben. Never."

"You've never loved anybody," you accuse, "not really."

He blinks slowly, three times, before he responds. You almost think you see tears in his eyes. "Steve was the first man I was ever with."

"And how many girls did you have before he came along?" you ask bitterly. First times don't really matter with someone who's as much of a slut as Krit.

"I loved him."

"You're not capable of loving anybody."

"And you are?" Krit scoffs.

"I loved you. . . . I loved you too much."

He's silent for a moment. Then he drops your shoes--the work boots you forgot when David took you away--on your lap. "You left these at the scene, baby."

You don't dignify his sarcasm with words. You reach into your pocket and take out the napkin crumpled around the teeth like gift wrapping. You pull his hand toward you and close his fingers around the present. Curious, he tugs the thin paper away from its contents, and he stares down at them with wide eyes.

"Oh my God." His fingers spread in horror, and the teeth fall to the ground, clattering on the cold tiles. He wipes his palm on the leg of his jeans, even though the teeth didn't leave any blood on him.

"You said it didn't matter," you whisper. "When I tried to kill Van, you said that was okay, that being jealous was a good reason and it would have justified it if I really had slit her throat. You didn't even mind it when Syl killed someone for no reason. Why's it so different now? What's the difference between being jealous over Zack and over you? What's the difference between Van and Steve?"

Krit doesn't answer, just stares at you with those wide eyes.

You draw a breath. The sanctuary is deserted right now, except for you and Krit, and you hope nobody else walks in and sees the teeth scattered under the pews and into the aisle.

"Anything's okay, isn't it," you say, "until it happens to you. This was never about me--it's always been about you."

"I could call the cops." Krit speaks so quickly that the words almost tumble over one another, and you're sure they would be just a blur to a normal ear. "I could tell them where to find the body. I could tell them about how you came home bloody like that, and how Steve had the same tattoo as you. I could tell them that you hang out here. I could tell them the names of all the gay tattoo artists you could've slept with to get it done--was it John Penna? Matthew DaWood? David Schwartz?"

You flinch.

Krit smirks. It's not as potent, when his eyes are still wide with horror. "I thought it might be David. Think about the trouble he could get into, tattooing somebody who was too smashed to consent. Maybe he was even your accomplice--he'd do anything for a boy as pretty as you, when he's drunk."

"Krit, don't," you protest weakly.

"Don't? Who are you to ask me not to?"


"I will. You'd better get the hell out of Louisiana before I do."

You have to leave, even if you don't want to. There's really no reason to stay any more, and there's every reason to go. There's no way Krit will take you back now, and you can't be sure his threats were empty.

So you buy a ticket for the next bus heading out of state. It's going west, through Texas and New Mexico and Arizona, all the way to L.A. and Zane. He won't ever use you like Zack or Krit have--he won't ever have the chance to, because he's too straight and too committed to his Colleen.

You call him before the bus leaves; he says you're welcome to stay for as long as you need.

"And if I hear from Pike again before you get here, I'll be sure to let him know you're alright--because you are alright now, aren't you, Ben?"

"No," you sigh. "No . . . I can't talk about it now." Zane wouldn't understand about the jealousy and the rage and the blood, and the other people in the bus terminal might overhear. Maybe you'll never be able to talk about it to anybody.

"They made you strong, Ben--you'll be alright. You will. I promise."

"Yeah," you whisper. "Yeah. I hope so."

Zane is silent for a moment.

"Your bus route stops in El Paso, doesn't it?" he asks. "Maybe you should stop at Van's for a while, instead of coming straight here. You sound like you need someone a lot sooner than L.A."

You nod thoughtfully. Zane never knew about how much you hated Van--but the old murderous rivalry doesn't seem to matter any more, without Zack to fight over. "Maybe I'll do that."

"Call me," says Zane. "Let me know."

You make up your mind during a layover in Dallas, and you call Van.

She's waiting for you when you get off in El Paso at a quarter to midnight. She doesn't say a word, just starts walking once you've seen her. You follow her out to the dark parking lot and a rusty pickup truck you don't remember her owning.

"This is why never to fuck your brother," Van says to you as she hands you a cup of coffee and sinks down onto the couch beside you. She's fumbling things again, not paying attention, and she poured in so much milk that you can hardly tell there's coffee at all. "Doesn't matter how pretty he is, how much you think you love him or need him. Zack screwed us both over, Krit screwed you over--and Pike wonders why I won't touch him with a ten-foot pole. I guess this is why incest's such a taboo."

You take a sip. Her coffee beans have been stale a long time, and her milk is beginning to turn sour. You set the mug down on the desk near the ratty creaking sofa where the two of you are sitting, and you think of how much better Krit plays host. You could use some of his moonshine now--or maybe not, since it would remind you of him, and of Steve, and of why you're sitting here with Van instead of sleeping in Krit's arms.

"I didn't think you ever had bad ideas, like sleeping with Zack," you say.

"Fuck," she groans. She's closed her eyes and tipped her head to rest on the back of the sofa. You're not sure, but you think you can see a long, faint scar across her throat where you tried to cut it months ago. "I'm only human."

She's anything but, and you're glad for that. Van's about the only person who can understand what you've just been through, and a human being couldn't shrug off murder attempts and broken love triangles like she does. She comes just short of forgiving you and starting to care, but it's worth so much more than the human emotions it parodies.

"How'd you end up with him, anyway?" you ask.

She shrugs, strong shoulders pulling against her black tee shirt. "First time I went into heat. It went from there."

"I can't believe you put up with him when you weren't prowling around like an alley cat."

"Zack was an asshole, but he was good in bed."

You nod, remembering his hands touching you, remembering his strong beautiful body, chest against your back, both of you drenched in sweat, and you wonder if it was always just about control, because he hardly ever cried out his pleasure. . . . You remember the other things he's done, too, the reasons you can be grateful to have known him--saving you from the police or Lydecker, forcing you out of relationships you never would have left on your own. But you never would have left Zack on your own, either. He used you, just like Joel and Ethan and Krit.

"Didn't it ever go deeper than sex?" you ask Van.

She just stares at you.

"Did you love him?"

"You know I don't fall in love. It's not what I was made for. I needed to get fucked, he fucked me, and I don't know why people have to be so emotional about things like that."

You don't believe a word she says, but you don't tell her so.

"Van?" asks a voice.

You spin around toward it, and see a man standing in the hallway in his pajama bottoms, tall and blonde and sleepy-eyed.

"Who's this, honey?" he asks.

"My brother," she says. "Go back to bed, Don."

He casts a skeptical glance at you, then looks at her. "You coming with me?"

"I'll be there soon."

"You need to take better care of yourself, honey. Think of the baby."

"I'll be there soon," she repeats. He glances at you again, then turns reluctantly and goes back down the hall.

"Baby?" you ask.

"I was in heat," she murmurs, too quiet for Don to hear. "He was there. Turns out he's the sensitive and responsible type, and now I've got him for keeps. Isn't that ironic? Everybody but me wants a man like him . . . "

"You're going to have a baby," you murmur. It's the sweetest thing in the world--funniest, too, but still sweet. Maybe she'll be a good mother, even if she's not that kind. "Going to be like Tinga."

"I'll be fucking miserable if I have this thing. It's a liability. If Lydecker came around, I'll have to leave it. It won't be able to protect itself, and he'll take it--it'll end up wishing it hadn't even been born."

"So what are you going to do, then?"

"Miscarry. There's ways to make that happen. And maybe Don will leave, once there's no baby. . . . See, Ben? We all got problems. You just gotta figure out what to do about them. You're doing the right thing, leaving Krit. Now you just need to be careful--no more sociopaths, no more control freaks, no more abusers, no more older men. Don't let people stomp on your heart. And then you'll be just fine."

"Yeah," you nod. You'll get through, by being more like what they intended, less like what they tried to erase. They designed you with a purpose, and maybe it's useless to fight those instincts.

Van nods too and stares off down the hall, resting her forearms on her muscled thighs and dangling her hands between her knees. There's a shard of glass still lying against the baseboard, from when she threw you against the wall and broke that picture frame. They made her so perfect and precise, but she can't even clean her floor completely. Maybe it's just something she doesn't care about. Maybe it's a rebellion against the pristine, sterilized laboratories and hallways at Manticore.

Van's looking at the glass too.

You think about the barcode you marked Steve with, the crack of his neck, the way he crumpled to the ground. You think about the church that didn't soothe you like it should have, about Krit standing in the aisle muddy and exhausted, the way he just stared at you. That's the last time you ever saw Krit, maybe the last time you ever will see him, and you're almost sure he's still there, frozen in time by the shock. In your mind, he'll never pick up the scattered teeth, never go back to his clubs and bars and one-night stands, never even move from that spot. He'll be there waiting for you, when you come back someday.

Van gets up and goes over to the linen closet in the hall. She takes down a spare pillow and a blanket, and brings them back to you.

"I'd let you share my bed, but Don's there already."

You smile at her joke. "I wouldn't mind sharing with him."

"Touche." She punches your shoulder, and turns across the living room to go back to her man. She pauses at the head of the hall and looks back at you.

"I was worried about you, Ben. For the longest time."

Neither Van or David worried half as much as they should have, you think. Even now, calm and safe, you can still feel yourself slipping. "Pollo loco," Pike called you once, before Joel or Ethan or Zack or any of this--"Crazy boy." You shot back that he was the one who wasn't all there, he was the one who'd been so reckless and had almost been captured a week before. But there was more truth in his words than either of you ever guessed.

Van turns again, rounded female hips swaying as she walks down the hall. She closes the bedroom door behind her.

You put the pillow down at one end of the sofa, and spread the blanket.

As you take off your shoes and slip into your makeshift bed, you can hear Van in her bedroom. There's the brush of fabric coming off of her body, then the rustle of bedding as Don moves aside and she climbs into the bed beside him.

"So he's your brother?"

"That's what I told you, isn't it?"

"Last I checked, white boys like him didn't have Apache sisters."

"Fuck off, Don. I don't wanna explain it."

If you're sure you're going insane, doesn't it mean you haven't yet, not quite? Doesn't it mean you still know what's real and what's not, still know up from down and right from wrong? It means that you're not completely lost, and that there's still a chance to turn back--doesn't it?

"There's too many things you don't want to explain."

"I'm not about to change that just for you. Maybe we're not right for each other. Maybe you should pack your bags and take your bitter ass somewhere else. I don't need this drama. I don't need you."

"Van, I want this to work . . . "

"But what if I don't?"

Don doesn't reply. Van doesn't add anything more. Soon both of them are breathing with the slow even rhythm of unconsciousness, and the house is silent, dead.

You stare up at the water stain on Van's ceiling, and it's hours before you drift to sleep.

[ END ]
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