Title: Fruit Flies and Domination
Fandom: Laurel Canyon
Disclaimer: I don’t own the characters. Steve Krantz wrote the book and Lisa Cholodenko did the screenplay. But, in homage, I chose an ending like the ones she tends to favor…
Archiving: This’ll be at www.realmoftheshadow.com/harper.htm
A/N: This derives from the movie, not the book. It’s actually more of an alternate ending. A “What if Sam didn’t turn Sara down” kind of thing… If you don’t want to be spoiled for the movie, don’t read this. If you don’t have a clue what the movie is about, go here: http://us.imdb.com/Title?0298408
The title is a line stolen from the movie. This is un-beta’d, so please ignore any mistakes. If you’d like to send feedback, I’d love to receive it. I’ll be at Xfjnky2@yahoo.com. Enjoy.
Alex stared out at the pool watching that ridiculous pink raft float by, one hand resting uneasily against the cool glass of the window pane. She thought she was close to panic, or perhaps just in shock, because nothing about her traitorous body seemed to make sense. She felt cold, from the inside out, yet somehow intensely aware of the slow, steady thump of her heart.
Thump… thump… thump…
Like nothing was wrong, like Sam hadn’t just looked at her with sad eyes, lips pursed with regret as he neatly folded the last of his clothes. She thought she might have felt better about the whole thing if he’d slammed out, if he’d been full of curses and accusations, but he hadn’t. Instead he’d seemed resigned, like a straw man looking out at a hurricane. Like he wasn’t sure if his life was the one he wanted anymore, but that he thought he was going to go and find out.
“I’m sure you can stay here. My mother seems to adore you,” he’d said, and she’d searched to try and find the faintest hint of sarcasm or bitter rejection in his tone, but it wasn’t there. Of course it wasn’t, because he didn’t have a clue about what had been going on in his absence. Or maybe he did, but was so used to finding himself on the short end of that particular familial stick that it just didn’t matter any more.
She’d met Sara. All wide, doe eyes and self-effacing bullshit innocence, and she’d known even as she sat across from her that first day that she didn’t like her. That there was a reason not to like her, and even if she hadn’t discovered it yet, it would happen. Surprise of surprises, she’d been right, and she couldn’t help but remember Sam’s words as that fucking bovinely placid face swam through her mind.
“She doesn’t make me feel like less of a man,” he’d said, in that searching for the root of everything psychiatrist way, soft eyes imploring her to understand. “She makes me feel good about myself.”
And Alex had wanted to ask why she didn’t make Sam feel good about himself, but the words died in her throat. Lodged there by guilt, probably, unable to pass by lips that had already betrayed him. Not like he’d betrayed her, obviously, though probably not because the intent wasn’t there. She knew better than that. The mind and the flesh had both been more than willing, and if it hadn’t been for Jane, she’d have tumbled into the abyss of infidelity without a backward glance. So, it was ironic, really, that Sam had beaten her there.
“I just can’t stay here,” he’d said, zipping up the suitcase, broad frame somehow made smaller with self-pity as he looked at her. “I’ll fly back with you, explain it to your parents… whatever you want. I just need a few days, that’s all. Time to get my head on straight, to get things sorted out. Time away from her.”
From Jane, she imagined, because she doubted that he would be spending much if any time away from Sara. And she wanted to curse, to rant and rave, but she didn’t feel entitled, and so she didn’t say a word. Instead she just nodded, watching him turn back with a shy smile as he shouldered his way out of the door, then followed him there, fingertips pressing against the glass as he walked resolutely down the stairs, past the pool, and, presumably, out of her life.
She didn’t know how long she stood there, probably until Sam was long gone and back out into the Valley, crying on the shoulder of his new love. Long enough for morning to find its way into afternoon, until finally she blinked, slowly becoming aware of the stiffness of her joints, of the ache in her feet. Then, with a soft, barely audible sob, she slumped to the floor, face buried against her knees, and cried.
It was close to midnight when she wandered into the house, not sure what she wanted beyond knowing she didn’t want to be alone anymore. It was dark and quiet, two things she most certainly wasn’t used to, and she wondered what had happened to make it so. Maybe another party, or an impromptu trip to God knows where, and she felt a thin string of jealousy wrap itself around her heart and tighten momentarily. She’d liked having that freedom herself, fleeting as her experience with it had been, and knew her life would be even more drab and gray for its absence.
The clink of glass on glass drew her attention, and she squinted her eyes, looking for a form among the darkness. She found it, long and lean legs stretched out over the couch, a slender hand draped over the side, precarious grip barely holding on to a thick glass tumbler. A mess of wild, wavy hair obscured the contours of the other woman’s face, shadows hiding what little wasn’t already covered, and Alex moved slowly, as if caught in a cage with a feral lion.
“Where is everyone?” she asked, voice stilted and formal, sounding oddly out of place in this highly informal house.
There was a low, raspy chuckle, the quick flick of a lighter brightening the planes of the older woman’s face for a moment, leaving in its wake the burning red tip of a joint. “Gone. Kicked’em out.”
The smell of burning marijuana was acrid, a bitter siren’s call, and Alex inched closer, reaching out to take the joint when it was offered, a deep draw filling her lungs. “Gone?” she echoed on a stream of smoke, feeling the first hint of tension leave her body. Purely psychological, her mind noted absently, well aware no physiological changes had yet occurred.
“Yeah,” Jane drawled sharply. “Gone. The single’s finished. Ian’s finished, at least with me, and I wanted them out.”
Settling gingerly onto the corner of couch left free by the spare, lanky frame, Alex narrowed her eyes, a hint of confusion in her tone when she asked, “You and Ian… you’re finished?”
Jane sighed, inching up slightly so that she was in a half-recline, a smirk on her face. “It seems he quickly lost his appeal.”
Alex was quiet for a moment, body suddenly once again taut with tension. “But I thought you were in love with him,” she said plaintively, not quite sure why it was so important to her.
Jane laughed again, the sound rough and hoarse, a harsh bit of unpleasant non-amusement. “Honey,” she murmured, eyes twinkling, “I’ve thought I was in love with a lot of people.”
The reply didn’t comfort her, and Alex swallowed nervously before asking, voice small, “Is it because of me?”
“Because of you?” Jane repeated, tone bordering on incredulous. “You think I sent him packing because he wanted to fuck you? Because you wanted to fuck him?”
Alex flinched away from the harsh assessment, unable to meet the dark eyes watching her. “It wasn’t like that,” she said, voice weak and breathless.
A snort of laughter met her words. “Don’t bullshit me. You think I’m going to take some kind of moral high ground with you? Think I’m going to be a sanctimonious bitch and scream about how you were trying to steal my boyfriend? Please… spare me the schoolyard drama. It wasn’t like he was the only one who would’ve fucked you.”
“But you didn’t,” Alex said on an indrawn breath, not used to the kind of brutal honesty that seemed to be Jane’s stock in trade. She liked to hide the ugly things from herself and others, to obscure them behind pretty words and lies, to bury them as if they never existed. “Didn’t fuck me, that is.”
“Not because I didn’t want to,” Jane drawled, a hint of disgusted amusement in her tone. “But even I’m not far enough gone to sleep with my son’s fiancee.”
“Ex,” Alex said, voice tremulous even as her chin jutted out fiercely, as if preparing for the blow to come.
Inching up even further, eyes inscrutable in the darkness, Jane murmured, “Excuse me?”
Squaring her shoulders, Alex said strongly, “Ex-fiancee. He left me for that second year resident he’d been drooling over. Sara, from Israel. He said you probably wouldn’t mind if I stayed here for a while longer while he went and ‘collected’ himself.”
There was a hint of bitterness in her tone, and she was surprised to hear it come out so clearly. She’d told herself, when she finally picked herself up off of the floor, that it didn’t matter. That she was better off without Sam, if only a few weeks of strife and turmoil could tear them that far apart. That there were parts of herself she was only just beginning to explore, parts she might just like better than the ones she already knew.
“Did he now?” Jane asked, tone speculative, the query pulling Alex from her thoughts. She looked over, nodding, reaching out blindly for the joint once more being passed her way. “And you just let him?”
“Well,” Alex said, the bitterness making a reappearance, “what could I do? It wasn’t as if I’d been faithful, exactly.”
“If thinking and doing are the same thing, maybe,” Jane shot back, voice starched stiff. “Not that it’s not fucking priceless.”
Alex frowned at that, body once again growing tense as she felt something bubbling within her, something just screaming to be released. Something burning into her so deeply that she knew it was going to come out, with or without her permission.
“Why’d you stop?” she asked suddenly, voice accusing, eyes flashing.
Jane stiffened, hand freezing where it was, halfway between the couch and the bottle of scotch resting perilously on its side on the carpet. “Stop?” she repeated, tone disarmingly calm.
“Last night,” Alex said in a rush, suddenly painfully nervous. “Why did you tell Ian to stop.”
“I already told you,” Jane said uneasily, lurching up suddenly to wrap her fingers around the bottle’s neck, bringing it up and spinning the cap off then putting it straight to her lips and tipping it up.
Feeling something inside her grow dark and twisted, bitter and cynical, Alex sneered, “Because even you won’t fuck your son’s fiancee.”
“Ex-fiancee,” Jane shot back vengefully, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. “Because sometimes, no matter how much you might want something, it’s still wrong.”
Inching even closer, angry beyond comprehension, Alex said, voice a low hiss, “And is it still wrong now?”
Pushing up, closing the distance until there was only a scant inch between them, Jane stared into Alex’s dark eyes for a long moment, until the air between them grew heavy with tension and the younger girl stopped breathing, body tense with anticipation. Then, creeping slowly forward, tongue flicking out to wet dry lips, Jane smirked.
The sun seemed brighter than was possible, stabbing into her corneas like an ice pick with a grudge, and Alex moaned, rolling over onto her back, fingers tracing across her stomach as she burrowed deeper into the covers. She didn’t want to get up, didn’t want to face the day and all the emotions that would inevitably arise, and she certainly didn’t want to run into Jane. Not after having been so unceremoniously rejected the night before, something her pride still hadn’t even begun to recover from. So instead she rolled back over, pulling the comforter up to cover her head. It quickly became stifling, though, the air trapped underneath the thick wall of fabric above her growing hot and heavy, making it almost impossible to breathe, and for a moment she thought about just laying there until the oxygen vanished entirely, leaving her with a not so easy out. But, she couldn’t do it, too smart for her own good mind already racing to map out the consequences of that particular action.
Besides, she wasn’t about to give Sam yet another thing to add to his list of things to be pained and sensitive about.
“Up and at’em.”
The almost sunny note in the normally slightly surly voice was enough to prompt Alex to peek her head out from under the covers, eyes squinting against the brightness as she watched Jane push open the bedroom door. The other woman was wearing black leather pants and a faded green tee-shirt, hair barely held back by the sunglasses she’d slid into it. Typical attire, a mix between carefree rock n’ roll attitude and wholly age-inappropriate garb.
A bag hit the covers, landing squarely over Alex’s midsection, and she grunted with surprise as she reached down, picking it up gingerly.
“I brought you doughnuts,” Jane said with a small smile, hands shoved into her pockets awkwardly. “I’d have cooked breakfast, but it’s not really my thing.”
Opening the bag cautiously, Alex shot Jane a confused look, eyes wary. “What are you doing here?” she asked after a second’s hesitation. “I would have thought you would want nothing more to do with me.”
Frustrated sigh furrowing her features, Jane said, “I think you’re a good kid, even if you did fuck up a little.”
Irritated at the words and the tone, Alex said, voice tight, “I’m not a kid.”
“Sure you are,” Jane shot back with a little laugh, posture easing somewhat as she felt the balance in the conversation shift.
Feeling her anger grow, part of her wanting to shout out that anyone with both a M.D. and a Ph.D. couldn’t possibly be a kid, Alex instead calmly re-folded the top of the doughnut bag, laying it carefully on the nightstand beside the bed. “I can get out of here if you want me gone,” she said, voice even and detached.
“Shit,” cursed Jane, eyes narrowing slightly, “now I’ve got to deal with temper tantrums too.”
Pushing back the comforter with a indignant huff, Alex stalked over to stand in front of the older woman, arms crossed over her chest as she tried to look as intimidating as she could considering she was wearing a pair of thin cotton pajama pants and a tank top. “You don’t have to deal with anything. I said I’d leave.”
There was something in Jane’s eyes, maybe the shrinking circle of hazel, the green/gold mix giving way to a tide of black, or perhaps it was the way she stiffened, leaning back slightly, nostrils flaring on an indrawn breath of surprise, but Alex felt it. Felt the balance of power between them shift once again, this time tipping back her way. “But, that’s not what you want, is it?”
Feeling trapped, embarrassed by her inability to control her emotions, Jane slammed down a façade of steel, jaw clenched tightly to leash her anger. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said between gritted teeth, refusing her body’s command to back down.
Alex took another step forward, so close now that skin brushed softly and the air between them grew blazing hot with the combined heat of their bodies. “You still want me,” she whispered, voice low, eyes hypnotic. “You could say it’s not true, but you’d be lying.”
“Doesn’t mean a thing,” Jane replied, voice oddly distant as she struggled to regain her composure, to tear her eyes away from ever deepening dark, velvet brown.
Smiling slyly, pleased with the evasion, Alex slipped a hand under the other woman’s tee shirt, fingers brushing against soft skin before trailing down to hook behind worn, smooth leather. “Why the sudden bout of conscience? There’s no reason to feel guilty now. Sam’s left me, you’ve left Ian. Come on… one more new experience to round out my trip to California.”
“I think you’ve had more than enough of those,” Jane drawled, voice a sleepy rasp, eyes hooded. “And I’m not a little girl’s toy.”
Closing the distance between them, lips brushing against the other woman’s when she spoke, Alex whispered, “That’s not what I’m asking you to be.”
The kiss was warm and soft, hesitant at first until Alex moaned and pressed forward, backing Jane into the door frame. Her fingers were fumbling with the button on the other woman’s slick leather pants, slipping and awkward until Jane took the initiative, reaching down to slide it free, a look of something akin to resignation in her eyes. She sighed, the warm exhalation ghosting past Alex’s lips, then gave her shoulders a barely restrained push, sending the younger woman sprawling back on the bed. Stepping inside the room, she kicked the door closed with her foot, dark eyes drinking in Alex’s vulnerable slouch with a kind of predatory hunger. Then, fingers whipping her tee over her head, she managed to ignore that little voice in her mind. Jane never had been all that good at restraint anyway.
Taking a long draw off of her cigarette, Jane let her hand slide down, palm settling on the head resting on her belly for a second before long fingers tangled in silky dark hair.
“You’ve got to go home sometime,” she said, voice tired, body boneless and weary.
There was a nearly silent rustle as Alex turned deep, soulfully introspective eyes her way, the soft puff of each even breath teasing the underside of her breasts. “Why?” the young woman asked, as if the question was one that didn’t even deserve asking.
Sighing, wondering how one eventful morning had turned into a night, and how a night had turned into two nights, then five nights, then almost a month, Jane brought the cigarette to her lips again, looking for the answer in a stream of blue-gray smoke. “This isn’t your life, Alex,” she said finally, soft smile curling at her lips.
Shifting so that she was leaning up, fine tremors running through her body, suppressed so tightly that Jane wouldn’t have known they were there had she not been able to feel them against her, Alex said softly, “Maybe it is now.”
Reaching up, catching the older woman’s fingers with her own and entwining them, she pulled their joined hands over in front of her face, studying the contrast. Her own were soft and smooth, having never seen a day’s manual labor in their life. Not that Jane had been out digging ditches, but there was something about the work-hewn skin that Alex found immensely appealing. Decidedly feminine, but hardened… like Jane herself.
“So what… you’re going to call your folks and tell them you’re going to stay in California? That you’re sleeping with a woman now? That you’re in love with your ex-finance’s mother?” Pausing, letting that sink it, Jane continued, tone less strident. “Alex, you’ve got to go back, got to finish your dissertation. Leave the fucked-up life choices to someone like me.”
“I’ll go back and defend my dissertation,” Alex said fiercely, face set with grim determination. “And when I’ve finished, I’ll come back. Will you wait on me?”
Biting her bottom lip, caught up in the naked emotion being telegraphed her way, even as some part of her brain screamed at her to be logical, to look at the time that had led up to that moment, to see the littered trail of broken and discarded relationships she’d left in her path, Jane drew in a deep breath and held it, feeling suddenly old. “I don’t know,” she admitted with a shrug, exhaling deeply before taking another deep draw from her cigarette for lack of something better to do.
Relaxing, obviously hearing something in the non-promise that Jane hadn’t meant to say, Alex leaned up, brushing a light kiss against the other woman’s lips. “You will,” she said smugly, then slid down the older woman’s body again, head easing back into its place on Jane’s belly.
“You love me.”
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