Tough Love--Tales of Alic and Dee continued

Beyond the Shadows

Share the shadows
Of my soul
Light the darkness
Make me whole
Find the joy that
I can't feel
Prove to me that
Love is real

Familiar Comfort

The crack of pool balls and smell of leather and smoke was a familiar comfort to Dee as she lounged in a shadowed corner of the South Side Bar & Grill. Here she was on her home turf, among people she understood. It always amazed her that no matter what city she went to, these places were so much the same. She depended on that, needed it. Even loners needed companions sometimes.

Companions...her thoughts turned a corner she had been trying to avoid. She arose and strode past the milling crowd of bikers as if to outrun her wandering thoughts. An occasional hand reached for her waist or behind as she walked, but a brief glimpse of the wildness in her eyes warned them off. She reached her pearl Harley and fired it up, pausing to stroke a finger absently across the oddly matched couple painted on the gas tank: demon and angel, companions forced to endure and console each other in a delicately balanced dance of fate. She shook her head to clear the cobwebs of memories trying to trap her and thundered away toward the freeway.

As she neared the on-ramps, a sign offered her a choice. West, toward California, her mortal home, or east, to new roads, New Orleans perhaps. She chose, running east, away from memories she did not want to face.

The open road and roaring engine failed to keep her mind off what lay behind her. Alic...His face rose in her mind like the dull ache of loneliness. 'Love is different for monsters' she had told him. In what way?, she asked herself. Because we're not supposed to feel, because we have too much time...She searched herself as she rode and considered. Feel...wHo? had asked her if she felt as his own maddened hands clawed at his face. No, her body felt little, except the constant hunger. Love was no longer the physical passion it had been. That was lust, she reminded herself. Lust had little to do with love, as pain-filled memories of her marriage served to remind her. So what was left? Dreams, her thoughts answered, hopes, knowledge, fellowship, emotions...Her body might have different needs, but her mind felt only slightly altered by the beast within. Was that an illusion? Perhaps, but all existence bore the weight of some illusion. The hunger reminded her of the differences. Crimes had been committed in order to survive. She had lost count of the lies, the thefts, yes, even the deaths. Only another of her kind could understand. Alic had understood. Monster she might be, but Damienne she had always been, and would continue to be until the beast succeeded in stealing the last shred of her sanity away. She would never give up her belief in love, whatever form it should take. The demand of her stubborn humanity guided her to the next freeway ramp. She took the exit labeled 'Dallas' and headed for home. Never.



Damienne parked her Springer and climbed the stairs with an odd mixture of trepidation and relief. The familiar creak of the rickety staircase seemed loud as an alarm to her tense senses. She was relieved to see the hole in the door had been crudely patched with an old piece of plywood still wearing the graffiti that hinted at its former placement on some closed down crack house. To Dee, it looked as warm as a welcome mat. It meant Alic was still using this haven. She wasn't sure what kind of welcome she might receive from him, but she felt certain they could work it out.

She raised her hand to knock, then hesitated. What if he didn't want to see her? What if he wasn't alone? The beast growled within her at the thought, striving for any excuse to break free of her hold on it. She forced her fears aside and turned the doorknob. It was locked. She fumbled in her jacket pockets for the key. When she finally had it, she found her hands were trembling as she reached for the lock. With a silent prayer to whatever held love precious, she hoped the key still worked. The lock clicked open. A smile blossomed on her face like the first flower of spring as she went inside.


The Heart Makes the Home

Damienne's smile faded a fraction as she looked around the haven she had spent so much time in with Alic. Even though the door had been repaired, the room beyond showed little sign of recent use. It looked nearly the same as when she had last seen it. Still, she thought, why bother to lock a door if you don't need a safe place when you return? Tossing her leather jacket on the bed, she decided to fill the lonely time ahead by straightening the place up. She was just as safe here as at the old warehouse, so what difference would it make. At least she'd be here if Alic showed up.

By the time she decided to relax, the apartment again resembled a home, except for the holes in the walls. Grabbing a small sketchbook from her bag, she hopped on the bed to wait.

His mind full of the list of things he meant to grab from his old haven, Alic entered the shabby old building and headed up the stairs. Too many people knew this place. He glanced around cautiously as he pulled out the old copper key that unlocked the door.

Hearing sounds coming from the door, Dee was instantly alert and poised for trouble. She was also filled with hope. Was it him? Had Alic finally come home? She focused on the doorway, dread and hope boiling in her thoughts.

The door unlocked and swung open quietly. Alic strode casually in, but stopped as soon as he got a look around. 'Clean...who...?' he wondered. Confusion was written on his face as he walked further into the room. Caution replaced confusion as he spotted Dee on the bed.

"Alic! Good to see you." Her beautiful smile was hard to resist. Dee was pleased to see her friend relax a little as that smile warmed him.

Still, he looked bewildered as his eyes looked at her, then around the room. He seemed to be missing his voice as he stammered through his confusion. "Umm....what, wh-what are you doing here?"

Dee tried to hide her nervousness as she answered sternly, "Don't look so surprised. I told you I'd be back."

Alic's eyes fidgeted around the room, back to Dee, then away again. "That you did. And you're back."

"And I'm not leaving," Dee replied, then added softly, "unless you want me to..."

Still avoiding his lover's gaze, Alic bit his lower lip, thinking. "No....I...I don't think so."

Almost weak with relief, Dee got up went to him. "Good then," she smiled.

Alic returned the smile weakly, but his eyes remained locked to the floor. With all the tenderness she could summon, Dee reached for his chin and lifted it up, seeking his eyes. "It's ok Alic. I know you feel bad, but we're going to make mistakes. We'll deal with them."

His eyes continued to run away from hers and around the room. In a voice that was a bare whisper, he replied, "Yeah."

Desperate to reach him and draw him away from his shame, Damienne tried to explain her return. "Look, I did a lot of thinking. I've been alone for a long time, and now, away from you, I was lonely like never before." Struggling for the right words, she went on. "I like to...to...to have somebody to be with, who understands me and needs me."

Alic's gaze reached slowly for hers as a grin spread across his face. "I can do that."

"I know." Dee smiled back.

She was content to wrap her arms around him, holding him close as he finally leaned forward to kiss her lightly. They could discuss finding a new haven later.



Dee stood up and looked the Harley over with a critical eye. It shone like clear silver in the streetlit night. The chrome sparkled on the engine and spokes. Not a speck of dirt sullied its pearly glow. She frowned, however, as her eyes fell upon the little figure that sat atop the back of her seat. The little fairy prince Twink had given her seemed to condemn her with its tiny carved features. Dee reached out and unfastened it. She picked up the damp cloth she had been polishing her Harley with and cleaned the road grime from the image. Looking at it closely, she realized the features were familiar. 'Alic...it looks like Alic..' she thought. An inward groan gripped her. 'Oh Twink, I'm so sorry, I should have known...'

Tucking the figure into her inside pocket, Dee fired up the bike. All her anger seemed to implode on itself, replaced by a deep pity and regret. The giggles of the insane dancer seemed to haunt her now as she realized she'd never hear them again. She cruised the streets not caring where she ended up. The wind eased her mind, but could not erase the guilt she felt. Forcing herself to focus on her surroundings, Dee realized she was in the theater district of Dallas. She smiled and parked the Springer near a dance school. The building was old, but in good repair. As she entered, Dee could hear music wafting down the stairs in front of her. Drawn by the melody, she made her way up them. At their top they opened out onto a large room lined with mirrors on one side and railings on the other. She kept to the shadows of the doorway and watched. A group of 20 or so dancers was rehearsing an upcoming show. They were good, but as she looked them over, memories of Twink doing the only thing that seemed to give her peace crowded into her thoughts. 'They're not as good...' Dee thought, turning away and heading back to her bike.

The roar of the engine filled her ears and mind as she rode away, drowning out pain and guilt for a while. She let the bike decide where to go, taking highways or back roads as the mood took her. She hadn't really realized how huge Dallas was. Eventually her path ended in front of a small blackened patch of ground where a little building had once stood. The air still carried the stink of burned oil and ashes. No other trace of the building remained. Blown away, like the hopes and dreams of the one who had lived there. Taking the little prince from her pocket, Dee placed it on the ground. "She needed your protection more than me...I'm sorry Twink." The empty air did not answer the softly murmured words. Dee chose not to look back as she guided her bike away. There was nothing else she could do.

-Sonja Torres 1998

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