Author: Girl Who Writes
Word Count: 3635
Genre: Romance, Drama, Angst
Summary: It was always her destiny to die young without having lived an easy day in her life. It was always her fate to rise again, red-eyed and reborn.
But not like this. Not without her visions to raise her, guide her. Not without some kind of hope, some kind of north star to keep her gaze on.
It wasn't supposed to begin this way.
Notes: Trying valiantly to get this fic done before the Jalice Remix Redux commences but alas, I am too slow 3
Thank you so much to everyone who read and reviewed! This is the chapter where the 'power-swap' aspect makes itself known. More notes below!
Thank you for reading.
I don't really care how bad it hurts; when you broke me first.
They created the monster, really.
They burnt her power into her, and it eats away at all other potential. The anger is still there and it twists with the venom and the passion and the desperation and a million little hurts. They taught her suffering and cruelty and viciousness.
They built the monster day by day, year by year, and they were still surprised when she returned to them, so great and terrible.
It was always her destiny to die young without having lived an easy day in her life.
It was always her fate to rise again, red-eyed and reborn.
But not like this. Not without her visions to raise her, guide her.
Not without some kind of hope, some kind of north star to keep her gaze on.
It wasn't supposed to begin this way.
She awakens with a gasp of air she no longer needs, her eyes red and clear.
(Who am I?)
And the hunter hangs over her, grinning too wide, like his face has stretched out past bone and sinew, so pleased with his new toy. He wasn't sure that she would survive, she was so still. The head injury probably didn't help, but here she is. Undead and exquisite.
(She remembers pain and anger. And … zap. Zap, bang, pain. Light in the back of her eyes, the taste of blood. Her limbs unable to get free. Held down.)
The hunter hauls her to her feet, and everything spins for a second, everything so crisp and clear and bright - the green of the grass, the rough patches of dried mud on her legs. It's all so completely new to her.
(She feels quite strange. Like she's lost something and she can't remember what.)
"Little Mary-Alice," he coos at her. "Look at you."
And then he backhands her across the face and she hits the ground hard, leaving a furrow of grass and mud. She stares at him, wide-eyed and confused.
(It doesn't feel… unexpected to be hit. She knows that.)
"Let's get the formalities out of the way." He's crouching over her, as she presses back against the ground, and she knows instinctively that he will hurt her bad if she's not careful. "You're mine. You need to obey me, and the laws. Nothing else. Understand?"
She shakes her head.
"Laws?" Her voice is high, sweet, and it's the first word she ever remembers speaking.
"No human can know about us. If they see something, witness anything, they die for it. Doesn't matter if it is one or twelve. You clean up your messes." His breath reeks, but his teeth are shiny and white. "You get caught, and the Kings will burn you alive."
The fear is building and she nods, she nods so he moves away from her.
(W-What are they?)
"Good." He drags her back up to her feet, and runs the back of his hand down the side of her face. "Aren't you a pretty thing?"
His other hand slides over her stomach, over the soiled gown she wears and no.
(He doesn't like being told no, even as she steps back. He growls, a warning, and she turns to run but that's when the woman appears, grabbing her arms and everything is too much and when the hunter grabs her again, a wolfish smile on his face. She might be stronger than them, but she doesn't know it, doesn't know how to use it yet. She isn't their first rodeo, after all. One diminutive newborn is hardly a two-person job.)
(In a different world, many decades in the future, if she had been a different girl, she would be sitting in the lap of someone she loves dearly, listening to him talk to her and the other man about newborns.
Everyone in the family always forgets that active gifts do not always kick in right away. They can take hours or days. They can happen in moments of fear, to protect or defend. They can be terrifying, impossible to control… They are not reborn fully-realized, gifted, and graceful.
It can get messy.)
She presses her hands against the hunter's chest to push him.
She doesn't push him.
She just… doesn't want him to hit her and touch her and push her and get so close. She wants to be alone. She wants him to stop.
(He's got her by the throat, and she scrambles mid-air for a moment.)
The power, the electricity bursts out of her hands, tears down her arms into her fingers, and right into the man called James. It dances and twists around her limbs, it lights her eyes (more pink than red with all the years of forgotten shock therapy rattling around in her brain and bones and blood) and it outlines her in that dark night.
The woman screams and hurls him backward, letting her tumble to the mud again. But the electricity, it still ripples up and down her arms, ready and waiting for a return attack.
(It feels … nice. She likes it immediately, the way it skitters over her skin, traces her bones and veins with its power, hundreds of lines and point on her skin alight.)
The hunter and his partner look at her with loathing, with their decision written all over their faces. They'll destroy the abomination. They'll burn her alive and enjoy it.
So she runs.
She turns and runs, a streak of light in the darkness, her panic fuelling whatever it is that lives inside of her now. It crawls its way around her, down her legs and over her face. She is a beacon for them.
(They let her go. He is wounded, though they won't closely investigate how badly; the affect of her shock with eat away at him deep, leaving burnt stains across his body, his limbs, his face, from the inside-out. She doesn't care that much about the waif. And since she's gone running right back home, they figure the frenzy she'll fall into will draw the attention of her judge-jury-executioners. One day long in the future, he will be torn to shreds and the man doing the honours will be curious about how easily he crumbles, but not enough to think on it for long.)
He's not an important part of her story.
He was just the one that lit the fuse.
What happens next is… divine retribution for a dead girl.
A fulfilled promise.
(Her throat hurts, she's so thirsty. It's the only building, and it smells so good. Of course she gets closer. Of course she kills and drinks and there is relief.)
She finds him in the room at the end of the hallway, with two women in white caps. Their eyes are wide in fear - they've heard the screams, heard the noises outside in the hospital.
They can even smell the blood she's spilt.
She's a proper little nightmare when she finds them. So beautiful, so perfectly formed, like a doll. Gone is the emaciated, raging girl with the clouded eyes. Her eyes shine red, a red that matches the stains around her mouth that spill down her front.
(Mary-Alice has been missing for nearly four days. It was understood she had escaped and would probably die - a blind girl wandering in the forest in a thin hospital gown. Perhaps an injury or a drowning in the river. Maybe exposure. She was a word of the state, it didn't matter. Not until she came back as a monster.)
"Mary," the doctor breathes, and she looks at him curiously. "You must stop this."
She doesn't know why, but the man makes her angry. He smells wrong, like sweat and burnt flesh and chemicals. The whole room smells bad and wrong and almost haunted. There's a rough machine in the corner, it takes up almost the entire wall with wires and levers and the smell of… of…
The smell of ozone and light, like the electricity that has crawled back inside her. It sits warm and reassuring in her mind, in her belly.
"You," she whispers, inspecting the machine and reaches for the lever.
"No!" He reaches out to shove her away, and cannot move her an inch, half-bouncing off her with a dislocated elbow for his trouble.
The machine crackles to life and she jumps backwards.
"You did this," she looks at him now, glaring at her with undisguised hatred.
Just like the hunter and his companion.
Perhaps that is what she is destined for. Hatred and fear.
"It was treatment," he spits, and it should be amusing to someone how arrogant he is in the face of whatever she has become. That his ego trumps even self-preservation.
The power ripples inside of her and she lets it peek through - her eyes lit bright, the smell of burnt linoleum where she stands. He gapes and gasps as the electricity crawls over her and she reaches for him as it spreads over her, making her glow. The nurses scream, he yells like no one else, begs for God and divine intervention and she burns him from the inside out, leaving the power to rattle around inside him as long as she wants.
She doesn't let him die quickly, lets him smell his own flesh cook, watch it blister and split. She smiles so sweetly at him, at his gibbering howls, and when he is finally nothing, she drops him and gets to work on his nurses.
On his machine.
(One day she will hurt this doctor, hurt these people just as bad. She will burn the doctor to blistered flesh, to ragged charcoal. She fulfills this prophecy without knowing it, and it doesn't really fix her or anything that happened.)
By the morning, the asylum is still burning, and not a soul is still alive.
(A mercy killing for some, penance for others. Those that come to investigate will blame the new-fangled machine in the basement room; the room is licked black with fire and the bodies indecipherable. A hideous tragedy, claiming more than twenty-five hundred lives, patients and employees alike. It will become something of a myth, the foundation for dozens of urban legends as the ruins lay undisturbed for decades afterwards. Just a terrible accident in a haunted place.)
She leaves in the early morning, before anyone ventures close, when the sun is just beginning to streak across the sky. The place burns, but it is still. Peaceful. She remembers so little before, but she tries to take comfort in that peace. And in the fact that she is well-fed. Peace in the fact that whatever came before this, whomever she was before, it doesn't matter now.
The power settles back inside of her, and it is like… another sense. Just like she can see and hear and touch and smell and taste, that little flame in her head and her heart and her stomach is there, ready to be called forth.
And she slips into the woods, leaving only scattered footprints of singed grass behind.
It starts off simple. The hunter and the redhead - that was self-defense. That was terror.
The asylum - that was a frenzy, it couldn't be helped. She had to feed, and the hunter had told her, "Doesn't matter if it is one or twelve. You clean up your messes." So she did.
She heads south, washes the blood and ash in the river. She travels at an odd pace - too fast, then too slow.
She discovers it is not easy to carry a gift. That she does not know its triggers, its strength and width and breadth. That sometimes her feet leave little scorch marks as she runs; other times, she is lit like a star, streaking through the forest and she cannot dim the light.
Her next hunts are unsuccessful - the young woman on the edge of town (she gasped and fell into the dirt, and when she grabs her, bones are broken, and when she does try to drink, her gift kicks in suddenly and she burns the woman badly. There's nothing for it - the clothing is spoilt, the woman is dead, and the blood is quite tainted. She burns the body - after she kicks it in temper, her foot sinking into the meat of the ribs and chest, and now she needs another wash - and goes back into the woods.) Then the children playing at the edge of the forest (one tries to run home to tell, and her power bolts out and hits the child in the back. He falls silently, and he is quite, quite dead. His blood is quite foul after that, but salvageable, and the girl's clothes almost fit her. The girl is nearly burnt up by the time she gets control again, and inedible. She tears out her throat, and then smashes him in the head with a rock, and buries them in shallow graves.)
That's when she runs into more like her.
Vampire, they call themselves. Newborn, they call her. They crow at her with sharp smiles that mean nothing good. She hisses at them and they laugh.
(Three of them, one of her - and she's so small…)
They grab her, and they stop laughing.
(It starts small, a little spark, a nasty shock.)
They start yelling.
(Once it catches - their clothes, their hair, their venom - it's over.)
Then they stop making any noise at all.
(It smells sweet, the purple smoke clinging to her hair and dress. She looks at the pieces around her, at the clumps of hair, and the melted eyes, and she begins another fire.)
The next time she runs into others, she doesn't give them a chance to do anything but burn.
At first, they find her. She wanders between towns, trying to control her gift enough to keep herself fed, and not cook her victims before she's had her fill. (She's so tired of the scent of roasting human flesh, of weeping blisters that spread over the skin.) Sometimes another like her - maybe two or three in a little group - stumble upon her. They don't think a little slip of a thing like her is worth worrying about.
They don't expect the attack.
Once or twice, there is a survivor - someone who runs at the first sign of trouble, someone with more sense.
She learns new tricks to protect herself, learns to control her gift enough to create a haze over her features so that no one can quite make out her face beyond the fuzz and spark of electricity. Builds up strength and distance and intensity and all these nasty little surprises that make people run before they face her.
Then she starts seeking them out in the towns and cities. She watches them seduce humans, watches them stalk and hunt. And she tries to piece together some kind of morality, some kind of code - she has stolen a book or two, to keep herself amused.
She thinks back to the man and the machine, the one who called her 'Mary'. The doctor in a museum of pain and misery. (She begins stalking hospitals, a sugar-sweet smile, and drags those monsters into the dark for a meal. First, do no harm.)
She watches children (maybe thinks about herself), and she lets them pass by now - clothing can be stolen in so many other ways. (There is some guilt at those two children in the woods, but she comforts herself that she was still learning. She was bound to make a mistake or two.)
But she sees men, sees others like her, grab women and girls, and drag them into the shadows. She hears screams and fear, and her heart clenches tight. Those she follows into the dark. If the victim (she hates that word) can still run, is just terrified and not enlightened, she lets them go.
If not, she's the only one that leaves that shadowed place, well-fed and righteous, the evidence scorched and indecipherable.
She drifts a lot. Sometimes she talks to them first. Sometimes they want to fight more.
They lose. They always lose.
She learns about the Southern Warlords, finds more than one deserter. She hears about the things those soldiers do, have done, and maybe she amuses herself by catching them and condemning them; maybe she obliterates one of those armies out of irritation (sloppy feeding, a terrified town with bolted doors and papers printed with missing faces all over the streets. She is furious when she faces down that coven, her power lighting her like some kind of distorted angel, that they could be so careless.)
But of course, people talk.
(Some of the stories she hears first-hand; she's good at sneaking around, at hiding in the trees and crouching on the fringes of camping covens. The tales make her giggle - that she was behind the Great Chicago Fire. That she works for the Kings. That she is no vampire, but some kind of divine being. That she is some kind of judge and executioner.
Maybe she is. A killer, an assassin, the mythological ferryman of the dead. They fear her, fear the light of her power. That makes her feel… strange. That the warm, buzzing light is a source of terror for others. It has been her only company for so long, it feels uncomfortable to think of it as an evil thing.)
The knowledge that she is feared sits uneasily in her mind. That was never her intention.
At first, she was just afraid. It's the first emotion she woke with - fear and confusion. And those first people she met - the hunter, his companion, that terrible human doctor, those nomads - they made the fear stick to her, fill her up until there was no better way to be. She might be alone, she might be the source of apprehension south of the Mason-Dixon line, but at least she is alive. At least she is nobody's prisoner.
(It would be nice to have someone to talk to. Someone to answer her questions. Someone who doesn't care that she can break and burn and destroy. Someone who likes her.)
She drifts north, a little, to get away from the fighting, the stray nomads and deserting soldiers. To try and think about what she should do next. She has no idea how much time has past since she awoke; she has no idea when she awoke, making calculations impossible. How many years has she been crisscrossing the south and finding new victims? How many others has she burnt? How many did she let get away?
(She doesn't count them because it doesn't matter - one or ten or one hundred, they are all gone, dust on the ground. They weigh exactly as heavily as those two children she killed in her earliest days. She has tried so hard to be better than that, has made herself rules so she is never that person again.
Maybe she can do it again. Maybe she can figure this out so that she is not burning anyone who doesn't deserve it.)
She notices it more, now: that vampires travel in little packs of two, sometimes three or four. She runs into more than one individual nomad, but mostly in pairs.
It would be nice to try something new. Maybe test out the idea of a friend, someone she can seek out every so often, if not travel with for awhile.
She could even let the tales of her die quietly, a myth from the war-torn South to join the horror stories of the Immortal Children, of Caius and the werewolves, of La Planchada, and Las Ciguapas. Bury her in the past, and be someone better.
(Not forever, she promises herself; uncertainty clouding her mind. Her gift has been with her so long, the most faithful of companions, she couldn't bare to discard it entirely and forever. Just a little rest, for a while, to try something new.)
She tries to make friends. Or rather, she stops attacking the minute she comes across others. She pushes the power down, keeps it tucked away inside. It's easy to dismiss her gift as a little shock power, something startling and unpleasant, but not the biblical-horror she has heard it described as.
(One man gets close - a boy, really, who died on the streets of New Orleans. He kisses her, touches her, and she decides that this is something she wants to try at least once. Except he backs away from her, when she's half-naked before him, unwilling to let her touch him because of her gift. Even when it's just a little shock, it's too much. He chuckles at her, tells her that no man with any sense is going to put their hands on her with a gift like that. And then he walks away, and she puts her clothes back on, and she decides that being alone is better.)
Sometimes the others talk to her. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes they attack, other times they flee. There are no patterns, few signs, of how she will be received. But still, she wanders.
(She runs into one couple; a blond man and a girl with long hair that is almost pink, and they smell like the dust and sun and dirt of the South. They are scarred and edgy for a fight, the man glaring at her hard. She lets the power peek through her eyes, her skin, and they flee, the girl's eyes wide with horror as they depart. Whatever they saw in the South is nowhere near as threatening or terrible as her.)
Ten years, her little pilgrimage takes her, and whilst she has destroyed far, far less than before, she is no closer to finding a friend. A companion. Anyone who will look upon her for longer than a few moments.
It is a lonely thing, to be feared.
- I love the idea of James escaping Alice, and being covered in internal burns that peek through in places like warped bruises. And that when he does go after Bella and gets destroyed for it, he's little more than a shell because Alice's electricity has eaten away at him. Creepy and curious but not something the Cullens pay particular attention to.
- Alice went Rosalie's route in this fic, her rage and pain shaping who she is and destroying her power of visions over her power to burn the shit out of anyone who upsets her. It was initially intended to be like Kate's gift, until I made the connection with early shock-treatments which seemed like more fun, honestly.
- Alice still has very, very few memories of her humanity. She is aware that she suffered at the asylum, has some muscle and scent memory of being hit and shocked, and she knows her full name is Mary Alice, thanks to James, but she knows no more than that.
- I think it's disingenuous to think Jasper, Peter, and Charlotte are the only deserting soldiers from the Southern Wars, especially with other covens in the area. Of course, with Alice frying every vampire she meets in the area, very few would last long enough to tell their story.
- Next chapter, we get some background on what happened to Jasper when there was no one waiting for him in 1948.