Pairing: Ani/Lara (Gina)
Original post date: December 31, 2010
Original post location: Passion Perfect
Word count: 956
Spoilers: Through S2, Ep 11. Set immediately following the events at the end of Ep 11.
Disclaimer: Venice and its characters are property of Open Book Productions, LLC. I'm just borrowing a corner of their sandbox for a handful of paragraphs.
Author's note: For those with DV triggers: Consider yourselves warned. Sequel (of sorts) to the S1 fic The Dance.
She didn't sleep.
She'd intended to — after she crawled off the floor and got a stumbling, incoherent Lara into bed, after she spent a half-hour crying in the shower and the rest of it hunting for Advil, Ani had intended to sleep. But as she lay there in the dark, listening to the guttural wheezes and incoherent mumblings that Lara produced as she slumbered her way toward sobriety, she realized that rest was impossible. Not because of the throbbing in her cheekbone, an unrelenting, brutal ache that refused to let up no matter how much ice she put on it, and not because of the headache that had set in shortly after her head bounced off Lara's kitchen wall. If Ani listened hard, she could still hear the ringing in her ears, as constant as the echo of the ocean just outside the bedroom window. The water's whisper was never far away, its unceasing pulse the soundtrack that underlay every single moment of life in Venice. Every cry of a child, every groan of a lover. Every conversation. Every fight. If Ani listened hard enough, maybe that sound could swallow up her thoughts. Maybe it could give her some oblivion, some peace.
But there was no oblivion, not that night. There was only time passing, taking her further from who she was, from a person who couldn't imagine that Lara could hurt her to a person who could. Lara's slightest movement was enough to send Ani lurching toward the far side of the bed, fear knotting her stomach and tensing her limbs, so she spent the hours before dawn sitting up against the headboard. The darkness danced before her eyes — liquid shapes, chiaroscuro shadings, the occasional bright blotch of color. Even in the dark, her eye found patterns, light, symmetry. It groped for order in the chaos, for illumination in the hidden. For quiet amidst the noise.
But there was no quiet, no illumination. Only this aching, relentless darkness.
She knew, dimly, that there was light out there — good people, who would be there if she asked. But when she ran through the list, the only name that stood out — the only one that mattered — was Gina's. She knew if she called that Gina would drop everything and come for her. She would knock on the door, and Ani would open it, and there would be that instant of horror, Gina's eyes going wide as she took in the rapidly darkening bruise — but none of it would matter because then Ani would be in Gina's arms and everything would go quiet, even the tide. She would be safe in the warmth of that fierce embrace — and for a moment, she would once again be Ani Martin, the girl who took pictures and just wanted to be loved. But then the world would intrude and it would take Gina with it, carrying her toward the bedroom, toward the source of what had made this "other Ani," this not-person who would let herself be bounced off walls as if it were a form of foreplay. It would rip Gina away from her, unleash an anger the likes of which Lara had never seen, and leave them all more broken, more bleeding. And then Ani would be alone again, alone in the dark with her thoughts swirling around her like fireflies, each one more fleeting than the last.
Time passed, the inexorable march of minutes carrying her forward. The dark yielded, as it must, eventually, to light. Day would bring words, words that Lara would use to try to make Ani feel something. Love, pity, sorrow. Ani was sure that the phrases would be polished, perhaps honed by Lara's writer's skill, perhaps just refined into eloquence by repeated usage. Lara would ask for forgiveness and Ani wouldn't know how to respond because forgiveness implied acceptance and Ani was too numb to accept anything — not even the love that she knew was there, lurking beneath the bullshit and the booze. A moment would come, and she would have to choose — to stay in this, knowing it would break her in the end, or to walk away and admit that she could abandon someone she loved.
You are never going to be able to have a normal relationship with anyone else until you fix this, she had once told Gina. They'd been talking about Gina's neverending battle with The Colonel, about how Gina's self-loathing had poisoned her, poisoned them. Now those words sounded trite and so very hollow. There was no way to fix the damage left after something broke inside, no way to return to being a person who could love and dream and feel. The bruise on Ani's face would disappear with time, but the cracks underneath were a different story. She might be able to patch them, disguise them, but they would never not be there. Sooner or later they would make themselves visible again, just as Gina's had.
Just as Lara's had.
Out of the corner of her eye, Ani saw Lara twitch, saw the covers shift as she stirred. Those almost translucent eyes opened, and though they were turned away, Ani knew they would be filled with remorse, that tears would be welling in them before Lara even drew breath to speak.
She listened to the words, tried to find some of her own. "I don't know anything any more," she said, but there was no complaint in that statement, no resistance. There was only her uncertainty, ebbing and flowing inside her like that unrelenting tide. There was only the pain that would not ease.
There was only her, and the person she used to be.