Word Count: 600
Summary: Perfect Southern belle though she may seem (swooshing skirts, soft drawls), Lorena likes a proper winter.
Author's Note: Written for anythingbutgrey's wonderful Doomed Ships Comment Ficathon (go play!), for angearia's prompt 'Bill/Lorena, I wish I'd known you then before your heart turned black', which grabbed my heart at once.
I kinda SUPER LOVE Lorena and her lovelorn crazy, I can't help it! I have loved Angel/Darla for a zillion years, I was hopelessly predisposed to dig this dynamic.
I begged you to hear me, there's more than flesh and bones
Let the dead bury the dead, they will come out in droves
But take the spade from my hands and fill in the holes you've made
(Mumford & Sons, “Thistle and Weeds”)
Perfect Southern belle though she may seem (swooshing skirts, soft drawls), Lorena likes a proper winter. They acquire a townhouse in New York City, meaning to stay until the snow stops and the air loses its bite. They walk the streets arm in arm once the sun has set. The Christmas season lends a certain joviality to the hustle, the great sooty triumphant rush that is the city. Half-remembered lines of Whitman fill his brain as he takes it all in. Lorena glides through like a fish. Languid old Bon Temps is still in his bones, and he keeps up with her but only just. Hurry makes him nervous. Puts him in mind of the war for some reason.
One night they cross paths with a young boy who’s had the misfortune to let go of his mother’s hand.
“Oh, William,” Lorena murmurs, her nails digging into his sleeve, “isn’t he charming? Let’s.”
She’s eaten already, so she takes her time playing with her food. Once they arrive at home, she takes the boy out onto the balcony with her and pulls him into her lap, then asks him a series of kind-voiced questions – what’s his name, does he have any brothers and sisters, any dogs or cats, is his mother pretty, is his daddy rich. The child is not frightened. Bill can’t tell whether it’s due to glamouring or more natural charm. She asks the child which songs he knows, and teaches him the names of the different stars.
Bill watches from inside, feeling absurdly as though he ought not to interrupt. She could be any mother, young and pretty and enchanted with her son. She looks a bit like his wife, laughing sweetly in the star-strewn dark. The boy laughs along.
Later, when the boy is a discarded lump on the floor, arms and legs at funny ragdoll angles, and Lorena is licking leftover blood idly from one finger, he asks her, “Did you have any children? In your true—” But she will lecture him for that. “—your mortal life?”
Her eyes narrow. “Why?”
A good question. She is no woman, that he knows, but he cannot help wanting to see ghosts of life in her. His reasons are selfish.
“I wish to know you,” he says simply. It comes out sounding like a plea.
“That, sweet William,” she chides, “has nothing to do with me, or with what I am. What we are.”
“But she is in you still. At the center of you.” For this is how he feels. Underneath he is still the man he was, never mind the monstrous sheen she’s painted over him. That (he believes, he must believe) is a matter of the body, not the soul. He still dreams about the sun. About Caroline and Thomas and Sarah. He knows he will go to hell but at least that brings him sorrow. Surely it must count for something. And if the beat of blood makes him forget— That is not his fault. This is not a thing he chose.
But she laughs, like she had at the boy when he’d told her his dearest dream was toffees for breakfast.
“You gentleman,” she accuses, love in each word. Her arms snake around his shoulders. Her embrace puts steel to shame, heavier than any memory or thought of God. “You dear young fool.”
It is the only time he asks.