White: secrecy, truth, peace, healing, rebirth.
The first -- simple and sexy, a sheer silk sheath that skimmed my body just like it was meant to. Innocent and not, all at the same time.
The second -- smooth taffeta, a skirt like a bell with a train fit for a princess, tulle in my hair, the works. All my fairy-tales come to life, woven tight, and zippered up the back.
The third -- a fluid satin column, expensive and fine, embroidered with a shimmery sheen that fell elegantly to my ankles. Whispers and secrets born in it’s folds.
All of them were white. Wedding dresses always are.
Her dress was like my second one, which made sense. I mean, same groom after all. I bet he offered her a fairy tale, too. I wonder if she’ll actually get it.
Not fair, not fair. I know who the evil witch is in this particular fairy tale. Which is okay. There at the church, there was time for fair, or nice, or any of those pretty, meaningless words. I didn’t save Sonny. I had to save Jax, even if it meant his pretty fairy-tale bride didn’t get to have her perfect fairy-tale wedding.
I’m not going to pretend that part of me wasn’t glad about that. Why should she get what I never had? And, yes, I know what that makes me. Didn’t I already say I knew who the villain was here? It’s just that I never thought when I saw Jax again, it would be his wedding day.
No. Scratch that.
I never thought when I saw Jax again it would be his wedding day, but it wouldn’t be mine.
Watching his bride from my vantage point hidden on the balcony, watching how she’s lit up like a pale, pure flame, watching how her eyes are full of him, I almost hate her. Not very nice, but it is true. And, I’m sick of things that aren’t. The last four years of my life were full of things that weren’t; they were full of lies and secrets and darkness. Fear, too. Lots of that.
After all, I don’t wear white dresses anymore. I wish I did.
I don’t remember the cliff. I don’t remember going over it, I don’t remember my mother doing whatever it was she did to make me lose control, I don’t remember any of it. I learned all that later. It was in all the papers.
What I remember most is how peaceful I felt, finally. I had my mother in my life, and she was finally this woman I could respect and even love. I remember thinking that everything really was going to be okay. And, then -- white.....
This blinding white light directly above, bright in my eyes. Blinking. I am..oh, hello eyeball. Thinking, now. Not thinking. What is thinking? What is.... I must have made a noise there, something. I don’t remember that. The next thing I remember, after the panic, is a voice like liquid velvet and a warm, gentle hand on my arm.
“So she awakes, our lady of the sea.” His hand remained on my arm, but didn’t tighten, didn’t threaten, and there was a calm amusement in his tone. “Don’t worry, little mermaid, you’ll be alright. It will all be fine.”
Whatever else he brought to my life, whatever else he’s done, I’ll always remember this about Luis Alcazar: in what was probably the darkest time in my life, he came to me first with laughter and comfort. No small gifts.
I don’t remember much about the next few months. Things were just really confused for a really long time. And, then, by the time they got unconfused things were ... what they were. I was sick, and Luis couldn’t make that go away, but he could make it so it didn’t have to hurt anyone except me. For a long time, I thought that was as close as I could get to peace. I’m still not sure I was wrong.
Or maybe it was just that if you tell yourself a lie enough times, you start to believe it’s the truth. It’s a skill I learned with my father, perfected with Sonny, and honed to an art form with Jax. Sometimes I wonder, if I had been completely honest with any one of them, would I be here now?
I know the answer to that. Secrets didn’t make this bomb hiding in my DNA go off. At least, I think they didn’t. Then again, what do I know? I never even tried the alternative, and the one time in my life I did, I went over the cliff.
The thing is, though, as I crouched in the church, thinking of everything that had led me there, I wanted suddenly to take it all back, to have one giant do-over. I wanted, more than anything, to be honest with everyone I loved. I wanted to just let the clean, pure light of truth just wash over me.
Even as I thought it, I knew: fantasies don’t come true in this life. No matter what the woman in the white dress in front of the church thought.
I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. You’d think it would be Jax commanding all my attention; I was sure it would be when I set out for the church. Instead, it was her.
She wasn’t his type. I mean, it doesn’t take a genius; look at me and Lois and Miranda. She was too -- too tall. And too red-headed. Stick the four of us in a line, and it’s not to hard to pick out which of these things doesn’t belong. Watching her, standing beside Jax, she just didn’t seem to fit.
People aren’t always what you think they are. Take Jason Morgan. I never knew he could be kind. I thought that died along with the boy who used to wear his face.
But, when I slid out of bed the morning after we -- after, there were no guards on the door to my room, and the door stood open. He turned as I padded up behind him, and for just a moment, as the pale morning light crossed his face, I swear to God I saw the boy I once danced with at my prom and kissed on a beach. Then, his eyes met mine, and I saw the man who I’d fucked last night, the man who’d met me at an altar a thousand years ago and broken my heart. I lifted my chin.
“I’m going to Jax,” I told him. “You can’t stop me.”
He smiled slightly at that. He wasn’t amused. “See me trying?” he asked.
My eyes narrowed. “Okay,” I said, slowly. This was too easy, and there was always a price. I stepped past him to the unguarded exit, paused with my hand on the doorknob, and spoke to the door. “I’m not some whore, Jason. I didn’t sleep with you last night to get you to let me out of here.” I would’ve, though, I thought, eyes closed. If I had thought it would work.
He was silent, and for a moment I panicked, cursing my stupid pride because what did it matter really, when Sonny was dead and Jax about to be. Let him think I’d traded my body for my freedom, let him think whatever the hell he wanted, just as long as he let me-- “Brenda. There’s a cab waiting to take you to the church. Just,” he paused, “just go.”
Standing there, listening to this thing in his voice I couldn’t name, I had this really bizarre thought that if I turned, I’d see a man I’d never met, not Jason Morgan or Jason Quartermaine, but someone else who was neither and who was maybe both. I didn’t turn, though. Walked out, instead, got in the cab Jason paid for and came to the church.
I don’t know if it was kindness or even payment for services rendered. I just know that it was something I’d never have expected. Maybe it doesn’t matter, though. Maybe it doesn’t matter how you got to a place, it just matters that you’re there.
When the woman, Skye, when she stepped forward and said her vows, I knew it didn’t matter that she wasn’t dark or petite, that she wasn’t his type at all. She looked at him, and she was just this pale pure flame, all full up with love for him. It was in her eyes and her voice and even the way her hand rested in his. I knew. I’d been there, I’d stood beside him, made promises to him in love and out of it, and I knew the difference.
I held my breath as Jax began to speak and finally, finally, turned my gaze to him. My blue-eyed love. Except -- not. Not mine any longer. Same as I heard it in her, I heard it in him. He loved her. Really, truly loved her the way...the way he loved me once.
I rocked back on my heels, letting that wash over me. It was the truth I had asked for earlier, the cold, clear wash of truth. Only it wasn’t cold at all; instead, it was warm and golden and sweet. Jax loved, and he had love. And, suddenly, that was enough. It wasn’t just what I said I wanted; I really, truly wanted it. Sonny was dead, and I couldn’t change that, but Jax was alive and happy and, oh, loved. The reverend spoke then, and I almost gasped out loud. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast. It is not proud. He said that, at the wedding of Jasper Jacks, and I closed my eyes, and for the first time in four years, I could swear I felt peace.
It was when I opened them and let out a small, shuddering sigh that I saw him. I saw Luis Alcazar slide into the church, unseen by anyone, and just like that, it was gone. Because I remembered, with a palatable shock, what this was all about. Not a wedding and not peace, but war.
I hurried down the stairs, from the nave into the sanctuary. I had to stop him. It was why I was here, and I had to. There just wasn’t any point in even considering an alternative.
I slipped through the doors, following where I’d seen him go. He’d disappeared into a small room off the main chapel, and I pushed open the door and stepped in. The second I did, my arm was grabbed, and I was pulled hard against someone’s chest. I didn’t speak, and a moment later, he swore under his breath and let me go.
“Brenda,” Luis said, as I lifted my eyes to his. His eyes bore into me, but I couldn’t even feel them. I couldn’t feel anything.
“Luis,” I echoed, calmly. I shook my head only once, feeling so strong, feeling like I could do this. Like I had nothing left to lose. “I won’t let you kill Jax.”
He smiled, the same half-smile Jason had given me earlier that morning, the one that didn’t have anything to do with humor or amusement or joy. “I’ll do what I need to do.”
I took a step forward then, my eyes dropping from him to the gun he was holding. I’d always hated guns. “Kill me instead,” my voice was a husky whisper, the same tone I used to whisper to him in bed, our bodies twined together, and I could see him jerk to attention. I didn’t know if it was my words or my tone; I didn’t care. “Shoot me. My life doesn’t matter.”
For a moment, I thought it had worked; I thought I’d broken through that veneer of calm he wore enough to do what I had to do. Then his smile hardened, and my heart sank. “I disagree,” he said, his voice smooth and tight.
“You killed Sonny.”
“Brenda, I --”
I rode over him. “And if you kill Jax, I'll kill myself.” I reached out, deliberately, and wrapped both my hands around the barrel of the gun. “Shoot me.”
He didn’t move, didn’t even try to take it out of my hands. I’d known he wouldn’t. Luis was many things, but he wasn’t stupid. “You know I could never hurt you ever.” The irony was that he truly meant it.
“I hate you,” I hissed. “I hate you for pulling me out of the ocean. I hate you for keeping me alive. More than anything, I hate that I ever let you lay a hand on me. Luis, look at me.” I took a step towards him, and I could feel the cold metal pressing against my skin. “I have never cared about you,” I swore, and it didn’t even matter that it was a lie. I was close enough that I could feel his body tense, and the gun jerked against my chest. I smiled and wanted to laugh, closer to crazy than I’d ever been in my life. Just shoot -- do it! You know you want to. Do it. No one will know.”
I slid my hands toward him, quickly, towards the trigger and the handle; all I wanted was to distract him enough to take it from him. At least I think that’s all I wanted, but then again, what do I know? I’ve never been clear about what I wanted in my whole entire life. I slid my hands toward him, and I twisted my wrists, intending to wrench it out of his grasp while he was too angry and distracted to stop me.
I twisted my wrist, turned my whole body, but he didn’t let go of the gun; instead, he yanked it towards him, and I followed, my hands still wrapped about it’s barrel, and it was pressed between us, our bodies close together in a sick parody of a lover’s embrace. It happened so fast, everything was just so fast, and my fingers were tightening, tightening even as he jerked backwards away from me. “Brenda!” Luis called out my name, high and desperate, and his cry was punctuated by an explosion.
It was so loud. I had forgotten how loud a gunshot was, and we were in such a small space. I started to tell him that, that I had forgotten, except that I couldn’t; it wouldn’t come out, nothing would, and I was falling, falling only it didn’t feel like falling -- it didn’t feel like anything. Luis was beside me, kneeling, and he was saying something, but I didn’t have to listen because it didn’t matter; both his hands were holding mine which meant he’d dropped the gun, and he couldn’t hurt Jax, not now, not ever.
The door burst open behind us; I could hear it, even if I couldn’t, quite move to look and see who it was. Luis was dragged away from me, and that was good because I didn’t want him to touch me anymore, and I still couldn’t make my voice work the way I wanted to to tell him that. Everything was going blurry, but I heard someone say my name, and it would be rude, wouldn’t it, not to turn? So I did, forced my head around to look, and I saw him. Saw him, with Jason behind him, and more people behind both of them, only he wasn’t a person anymore, he was a ghost, I saw him shot, saw him dead, and he was here to bring me...to bring me home.
I always thought it would have been my mother.
I smiled, or at least -- I think I smiled, I meant to smile, and I pushed the elephant sitting on my chest off as hard as I could, managed to whisper, once. “Sonny...” I said, looking right at him, and I did, I smiled, I know I did. I tried to hold out my hand but it weighed too much, and all I really wanted to do was sleep, sleep now that it was alright, now that Jax was safe, and Sonny was here, and I closed my eyes, and all I knew, all I saw was white, white, white, all the way down...
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