018. Memoria – Colorless

Title: Colorless
Genre: Undefined
Characters: Valerie Vega, Nicolas Blanc
Story Origin: Vignettes prior to Angel of Lies
Prompt: 018. Colorless
Word Count: 1,605
Rating: R
Summary: Nicolas refuses to let things lie.
Warnings: Language

Valerie came to, her body curled up in a ball, her head resting against her knees.  Her neck ached and her entire body felt as if it were disconnected from the neck down.  There was the distant sensation of floating, almost as if her limbs were no longer attached to her body.  She tried to focus on the press of the bed beneath her, trying to gather all her fractured thoughts and feelings.  It was moot.  She felt drunk, her head spinning, her functioning senses garbled and lost in translation.  If she could still see, she imagined that everything would be wobbly and distorted.

The distant crackle of a log rattled around in her head, increasing her agony.  She tried to tune it out, burying her head in her legs, gripping onto them as hard as she could with her hands.  Her fingers felt numb and tingly.

“Awake again?” Nicolas’ voice cut through the silence like a terrible knife.  She cringed, making a sound of pain.  Every move he made, even the distant flexing of his fingers, sounded as if it took place right next to her ear.  It was unbearable.  “You’ve been coming in and out of consciousness for over an hour now.”

Valerie wasn’t surprised that he was there.  It was almost routine now.  Christian would leave and Nicolas would be forced to stay with Valerie until she was coherent.  If she showed signs of declining health, he was to alert Melissande immediately.  No one was completely sure where Christian went during all of this, only that he left.  Nicolas didn’t particularly enjoy being left to pick up the pieces, but it was his on-going punishment for being such a prat years ago.

It was well-known that he did not agree with Christian’s blatant taking of Valerie, not at all.  He and Melissande were fervently against it, but their worries fell on deaf ears.  Valerie was adamant and Christian was silent, as always.

Valerie willed her limbs to move, the motion sluggish and inhuman.  One of her tingly legs dangled over the bed, her shoe hanging on by the toe.  She fiddled with the other, trying to work her numb and seemingly useless fingers to pull the other off.  She wanted to change, her clothing felt constricting–suffocating.  It burned against her skin.

Nicolas watched her carefully, the way she wobbled, the pained expression she wore.  Her face was ghostly white, dark circles forming under her violet eyes.  She looked like a doll left unattended for far too long.  Her attempts at removing her shoe looked more like her fingers mindlessly fumbling with the bed linens, and then finally, finding the shoe.  It wasn’t her blindness that hampered her, no… it was everything she’d lost.  Even a simple vampire could feel the tension in the air, the crying out of her soul as it pieced itself back together slowly.

“You shouldn’t be moving,” Nicolas warned her, even though he knew it was moot.  She would move, she would stand, and she would shout at him, despite it all.  That’s how it always panned out, anyway.

“Don’t you get tired of being here?” Valerie asked candidly, still messing with her frustrating shoe.  She faced him, but her vacant eyes stared past him.  It was a lazy motion, he did not feel the press of her own power against him.  She wasn’t actively looking at him, it was just a reaction.  She was facing the sound of his voice.

“Yes,” Nicolas replied, his voice short.  “Unfortunately, Christian seems completely committed to the idea that you need a nurse maid and so, here I am.  Hardly dignifying, which is completely its intent.”

“And you deserve it, you know,” she said, finally kicking off her shoe.  She teetered over the edge of the bed, landing on her foot, following with the other one.  She stood up, trying to orient herself.  “You could be dead.”

“It would be a better fate than watching you act like an idiot.”

Valerie turned her back to him.  Her hands moved through her hair, collecting it and gathering it at the base of her neck, exposing her clothed back.  A single, tiny zipper stood amidst all the fabric.  It was a taunting motion that required no words to accompany it.  Somewhere along the way, Valerie had developed a bit of a vengeful streak.  If her mother were truly the virtuous angel everyone made her out to be, then Valerie most assuredly did not take after her.  Not in the least.

His fingers gripped the small zipper, moving it down her back, watching as it slowly revealed the skin beneath.  It stopped just sort of the base of her spine.  He released it, waiting for her to make some sort of biting comment.  Instead, she remained silent.  She shed the clothing like a snake shades its skin, slowly and methodically, the fabric falling in a pool at her feet, the stalkings following suit.

Valerie had never been sheepish around Nicolas, but that had been a mix of ignorance and innocence before.  Now it was just plain cruelty.  Her malice towards him was not subtle.  She made sure he noticed every single thing she did to spite him.  It was annoying as hell.  She strode across the room, nearly naked, and said nothing.  The silence was deafening, suffocating.  His anger was growing with every passing second, filling the wordless air with tension.

If the Demon Queen and Sanctus Unus hadn’t messed with her, Valerie would be nearly thirty now.  She wasn’t a girl anymore and had completely shed that innocence that made her seem slow.  Now she was the Seer, empowered and stronger than most could fathom.  Perhaps worst of all, she wore the body of a young adult like some people wear clothes, all supple skin and untraveled curves.  She had very few scars, her pale skin hiding them as well as makeup might, but one stood out to him.

It marked her back, a thin line nearly three inches in length.  Her stomach had been the concentration point for Christian’s hands, and so the mark had sealed up entirely, but her back, the entrance wound, had been left to scar.  It was a glaring reminder of times long past.

“So, you’re just going to do it again,” Nicolas seethed, his anger at the boiling point.  “There won’t be anyone there to save you this time, Valerie.”

She froze where she stood, not quite expecting him to travel down that road.  Nicolas had played her emotions, used them against her and gained an advantage.  With that advantage, he’d sentenced her to death.  Christian had saved her.  After that, she never saw Nicolas the same way again.  In fact, she never thought she’d have to, as Christian made it pretty clear what he’d do to him.  Sanctus Unus had other plans, though, and Nicolas managed to avoid Christian’s wrath.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she replied, though her voice was quiet and strained.

“You know exactly what I’m talking about,” Nicolas shot back, his voice becoming a low growl.  “Look at you!  You can barely function, hell, it’s a miracle you can stand… and to what end?  You can’t stop him, in fact, you’re probably making it worse!  What happens when you run dry?  What happens when you end up dead because of all of this?”

“I can handle it!”

Nicolas scoffed, “no you can’t.  Your strength wasn’t meant for this and you know it.  You’re abusing it, just like you’re abusing Christian’s trust.  You’re only doing this because it’s the only way he’ll see you and you’ll know it.  For fuck’s sake, Valerie, you’re not Beryl!  You can’t be.  Stop trying.”

Valerie’s shoulders began to shake and her knees felt weak.  His words hit her at her core, her body still suffering from the effects of the connection.  She fell forward, her hands connecting at just the right moment with the armoire.  She held herself up, her entire body wracked with tremors.  She panted, closing her eyes, trying to focus her will.

Nicolas moved to help her only to be met with a violent wave of energy.  It had cost her.  Her knees shook beneath her, threatening to give.  She held fast, digging her fingers into the wooden doors.

“Don’t touch me!” She spat, her weakened voice quaivering with strain.  “Get… out.  Just… get out.”

He took a step back, raising his hands up in retreat, “fine, have it your way.  I may have fucked up royally, but at least I can admit it.  What about you?  You know this is wrong, you know what you’re doing is ridiculous… how long are you going to keep it up?  How long before it’s not about helping Christian anymore?”

Valerie was silent, her vacant eyes filling with tears.

“Guess it’s a little too late, it’s already obviously about you,” with that the door slammed closed behind him, echoing in her sensitive ears.

As soon as he was gone, Valerie collapsed.  She leaned against the armoire, hugging herself tightly, trying to stop the tremors that shot through her.  Tears slipped down her cheeks unchecked and she felt as if the entire world had become hollow.  Nicolas’ words resonated through her head.

Just another one where we see why Nicolas and Valerie are the way they are with one another.  Nicolas, of course, has suitably paid his dues for what he’s done.  In fact, he’s even changed a little.  Nicolas will always be Nicolas, but that doesn’t mean he can’t feel like ten tons of an ass for doing what he did.  Especially seeing how it changed her and made her suceptible to this.  Everyone blames Christian, but it isn’t his fault.  He doesn’t encourage her affections.  Mentioning Beryl is a pretty good way to make Valerie feel like crap.  Nicolas knows her buttons as well as she knows his.  It’s an interesting sort of dynamic.  Certainly not what I anticipated when I began writing Wings of Steel.

This didn’t turn out precisely as I had planned… but that’s probably for the best.  This messed up triangle of crazy (or is it a square?  I guess Beryl doesn’t count, in this case) is nutty enough without me adding anymore sexual tension to it.  Just remember folks, don’t throw a blind virgin into a pit of vipers.  It’s bad for business.


10 Responses to “018. Memoria – Colorless”

  1. Veron says:

    Nicolas said pretty much everything I’d ever want to say to Valerie. And I can’t frickin’ believe it. NICOLAS said everything. NICOLAS. He has changed and I’m completely unsure about his change. And the fact that Valerie IS affected by the mention of Beryl means absolutely what I thought it would mean. That this is not about do or die right or wrong, its about scary ass mothereffin’ Christian. I actually just went over to stare KiD Christian to think that he went from that caring, kind of naive, understated thing to whatever the nuts his is now is CRAZY.

    And that Valerie would actually have the malice to taunt Nicolas in that way. Granted he deserves to fall into a pit of fire and ear wax to rot for what he did to her, but this situation appears to be changing Valerie also… and not for the better.

    I don’t blame Christian for the situation… but I do blame him for his nonchalance. He seems content to lie in this.

    But I’m so glad to hear both Melissande’s and Nicolas’ side of things. Brilliant.

    It’s important to remember that we have not seen Christian’s side of it. That in Memoria, it’s mostly Valerie and everyone else, not Christian. Christian is for AoL, what brief time he gets there, but he DOES have a reason for the things he’s doing. It will mean different things to different people (as is its intent), but he’s not just running around, hurting his friends, completely ignorant of it. He knows what he’s doing, but it’s a necessary evil for this moment. As for him ever being naive… well, with Beryl, sure. But Beryl is a HUGE part of the equation. Beryl is gone. :( Trust me when I say Christian would prefer to be gone, too. But that’s selfish…

    I don’t mean to sound like I’m backpedaling, I’m not. I knew, going into this, people would NOT be happy about Christian and they would assume he was evil/terrible/etc, completely forgetting his core nature. He’s always been 100% capable of being good or bad, given his parentage, and right now… he’s walking the line closer than he ever has before. People also forget how much of an impact Beryl had on him… and everything that’s happened. Beryl is dead, Evangeline is gone, he has nothing. Anything he ever loved is gone.

    Which brings us to Valerie and yes, she’s being completely selfish. You KNOW there’s a problem when you’re getting lectured by Nicolas, of all people. Seriously, LOL! However, what Nicolas did to her? Completely screwed her up, beyond repair. Imagine trusting someone so completely and having total faith in them, only for them to freakn’ kill you. It’s kind of messed up, you know. The BIG question is, why is Nicolas lecturing? Why does he give a flying fudge nugget? If you’ll look at where he’s appeared carefully so far (both in AoL and Memoria) you can see something there. Too little, too late, unfortunately. The damage has been done.

  2. TK says:

    Oh Valerie…
    I keep thinking about Beryl’s first encounter with Valerie way back in KiD… they’re both changed a hell of a lot! I wonder what Christian would have said back then if he’d been told that both Beryl and Valerie were going to fall for him…
    Really nice shots this time Mao.

    Oh, man. The changes are mind-boggling! I don’t even really factor KiD in anymore for any character but Beryl, because she was the only one solidified in it (except Antony). That story was way too changed from its original intent for me to sort of consider it now. Sigh, unfortunately, it’s integral to understanding a lot of stuff. Thanks! Christian has made it very clear he sees Valerie as he always has, so he has no given her any false hope.

  3. Dektora says:

    Wow, Nicolas has hit the nail right on the head! I’m glad he said what he did to Valerie, she needs to hear that it’s a selfish lost cause. Not sure it’d change anything, but it needed to be said.
    It is indeed weird to see Valerie torture Nicolas the way she does. I was thinking that if someone could forgive someone else for trying to kill her, it would be Valerie. But I guess she trusted Nicolas so deeply until the moment he stabbed her that something broke inside of her. It’s sad to see her like that, even sadder than to see what Christian has become.

    It’s very interesting to see the current situation from the Blanc siblings perspectives.

    You know things are bad when Nicolas is talking sense! Of course, his sense is fueled by other things. Don’t think he is going at this out of the goodness of his heart. Hell no, he’s got something to gain from it. It definitely needed to be said, Valerie needs to gain perspective quick, before she falls and can’t get back up. And you are completely right, something broke inside her and it won’t be fixed anytime soon. As for Christian, he’s hanging on for a purpose.

  4. S.B. says:

    I feel very very sorry for Valerie. I can understand why she’s torturing Nicolas (who probably has NOT fundamentally changed, maybe he’s a little smarter). I can understand why she’s giving it all up for Christian. Turning her wrath on Nicolas…she’s indulging herself. And that is never a smart move.

    Triangle? More like the square because Beryl is always a factor.

    I have to say I love LOVE the shot taken through the firelight. And the way you describe Valerie’s efforts to shake life back into her feet and legs and just take off her shoes. Wonderful, wonderful writing.

    Nicolas is being a dick for a reason this time. He messed up, he’s realizing certain things, but you know what they say, too little too late. I wouldn’t say he’s suddenly Seriously Nice Guy ™, though. Never, LOL! Impossible. And you’re right, square–she’s always a factor. Thank you! :D

  5. E. Black says:

    And this is why I love Nicolas and Valerie. The way they ping off one another is like fireworks gone horribly wrong but still beautiful to look at (now I’m going to have to figure out how that works). You write them with so much tension that it’s electric.

    You know, you have a point. Even when they’re at one each others throats, it’s an unmistakable dynamic. See what you did, Nicolas? Ruined it. Way to go.

  6. laura says:

    I don’t know why, but I always feel so silly trying to comment on these stories – they’re so hardcore compared to the usual fluff I write ;) But I do read and enjoy them, anyway.

    I just wanted to be nostalgic and say that the very first time I read any of this was back in WoS, when Valerie had her funny little crush on Nicolas. I’ll second the ever-present chemistry between these two. It was always there.

    Valerie has always been my favorite character from this, I think, probably because she was a central focus of the story when I started reading. Wow, how she has changed! I’ll go ahead and say *grown* actually, even if it is for the darker, because it’s probably not ever safe to be so trusting or open. But what a lesson she’s had to learn!

    It’s nice to see Nicolas growing as well (or at least attempting to), but still remaining himself at the core. Same with Valerie I think, and you’ve done a really great job at this. There’s still the shadow of the girl she used to be. She’s always seemed to be searching for someone she could really and truly trust, and I wonder if that has something to do with her attentions towards Christian right now?

    Laura!!! I didn’t even know you still read this stuff. You should NOT feel silly for commenting at all. I adore your writing and it is always awesome to have another writer’s perspective. I appreciate you taking the time to comment! I’m also really glad to see that you like Valerie. She was never really a focal point past the beginning of WoS, so I never anticipated anyone would have her as one they liked over others.

    And, you’ve pretty much nailed it. Valerie, despite learning that hard lesson, is still looking for someone she can trust and rely on. It’s her constant search for a subconscious replacement for her father (who did anything and everything for her). The feelings for Nicolas stemmed for him ‘watching over’ her and then Christian actually saved her. Unfortunately, while she can trust Christian, she will never have any romantic entanglement with him.

  7. goodbye_sun says:

    Damn, Nicolas has actually grown a pair, a little too late, but hey, at least he has them now. Not that taking Valerie down like that was the most mature thing, he was right, but doing so in such a way seems almost the act of a jealous man, not just a friend or a watchdog.

  8. Becky says:

    Wow, Valerie has really changed, but I still love her and she’s one of my favorite characters. I do miss that innocent Valerie a bit but I think the change is for the best she’s not a kid anymore.
    Nicolas? Heh he DID say it all. In a way I think he does still care for her, oooh why did he have to mess it up!!! >:(
    I mean it’s cute that Valerie likes Christian, but it won’t lead anywhere and Christian will always love Beryl, and I think it should stay that way.
    It was really cool to read about Nicolas and Valerie in the beginning of WoS and the fact that she still believed in him when everyone turned against him…stupid but so heartbreaking. *sob* I know they probably won’t end up together but despite it all they’re still my favorite pair here. =)

    Haha, yes, Nicolas definitely messed up any chance of that. Lesser women may get over a man trying to freaking kill them, but not Valerie. She tends to hold a grudge and not just that, her trust and everything was broken in that moment. She’s clinging to Christian, but she knows its futile. She’s not Beryl, she’ll never be Beryl, and she can never take her place.

  9. Becky says:

    Hey, Nicolas looks kinda cute in the third picture from the top (1st picture of him). Sorry lol, I was reading this again and I had to say it… :D

  10. Tanya says:

    Oh Nicolas, you dark, smouldering devil … Sorry, got a wee bit carried away for a moment ;) He does smoulder though! Yes, he’s definitely getting some pay back for what he did to Val, and there seems to be no doubt that she’s enjoying every minute of making him suffer. I’m starting to wonder how much of an influence Melissande has had on her since WoS? It’s a bit like comparing apples and oranges, but she must have had at least some influence. Very interesting that it’s Nicolas rather than Melissande who’s saying what they both think about the way Val is letting Christian use her, whereas before Nic would be hiding and Melissande would be the one giving Val a lecture.

    ROFL, I have such a hard time seeing Nicolas as smoldering, but maybe it’s because I know him so well. ;) I’m sure Melissande has had some influence on Valerie, being the only older woman figure she’s had in her life as a constant, though more reliably, Valerie took from Sesana. It’s hard to see, but it’s there. Sesana had a quiet sensuality about her and Valerie has the same, even if her innocence dulls it considerably. Nicolas is butting in because he’s just being a prat. He wants to hurt Valerie because that’s what he does. Instead of being reasonable, he goes for the jugular. Melissande and Nicolas share this trait, when they hurt, they want the object of their hurt to do the same, despite past reasons or legitimacy of their hurt.

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