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Primeval/Malory Towers

Alicia had not meant to stop and watch.

She had just been returning one of Darrell's books and, if she were honest with herself, hoping to prompt a conversation that would last an hour or so. There was no answer at Darrell's dorm room so Alicia had slipped down into the university gardens. It was a warm night and her friend liked to sit and write at the tables down there.

She found Darrell, but she wasn't writing.

Alicia was surprised really; not at Darrell's carelessness because, after all, she was impulsive. No, Alicia was surprised that Sally was so willing to risk anyone else seeing them, even if they were out of view from anyone's window.

She didn't notice how tight her grip on the book had gotten until her fingers ached and brought her out of her daze.

Still she couldn't tear her eyes away. She wanted to just shrug and walk back to her room, toss the book carelessly on the bedside table and regale Betty with what she had just seen, but she couldn't. She found herself focusing on the fact that she was surprised it was Darrell pressed against the wall, always figuring Darrell for the more dominant personality. She certainly looked more than happy where she was now, as her hands grazed beneath the hem of Sally's top to find skin, and she leant forward to kiss Sally gently.

When the two pulled apart a little, that was her cue to leave before they caught her, standing like some kind of sap and staring at them.

She did try to come out with a quip when Betty asked if she had found Darrell but the words caught in her throat and she just threw the book back onto the bed and grabbed her robe to head back out to the showers.

Alicia shook the last vestiges of her dream, one she had not had for many months, from her mind as she awoke to pitch black – the lamp they had made the previous day had gone out during the night. Alicia rolled onto her stomach and slowly pushed herself up onto her knees as she tried to ignore the shaking that was surely caused by the dream. She patted the ground in front of her as she crawled, found the lamp and started to stuff the mixture that they had mashed together into it. They had tried so many combinations, Alicia couldn't remember how much dried grass was in it, if this one had animal fat, or if that peculiar oily leaf had gone into it. Darrell had written it down, and beyond that Alicia didn't much care.

She chided herself even as she reached around in her search for the matches, but she would be damned if she were going to try and use flint in the pitch dark. The satisfying lash of the match was followed by a soft glow, and she pushed it into the lamp and the glow slowly grew.

Alicia glanced across at Darrell, curled up under the coat she had been wearing when they had arrived, with her face buried. The other woman had indeed lost her fight, and Alicia had no idea what to do to get it back. She had tried optimism, she had tried reverse psychology, she had even tried insulting Sally, and none of her efforts had gotten results.

“I can feel you watching me, it's unsettling”, Darrell's voice made her jump and the other woman removed the coat from over herself and sat up.

“Good morning”

“Is it? How can you tell?”, and if there had been sarcasm in Darrell's voice then Alicia would have replied in kind or with a quip, but the question was delivered with no emotion, and so she just shrugged.

“Did you get any sleep?”, Alicia shuffled closer and took in the paleness of Darrell's face, obvious even under her dark tan.

“An hour or so, it's hard to judge time”, Darrell got to her feet and started to walk around the cave. There was silence for much longer than Alicia was comfortable with and she started to tap her fingertips against the floor of the cave in time with Darrell's steps. The longer the silence went on, the more difficult it got to say anything, and that wasn't taking into accout the dream that still rung in her mind.

“Stop staring at me”, and Alicia blushed at Darrell's word, she hadn't noticed that she was.

“I was just thinking...”, and Alicia scrambled for something to say, “...would...you take a look at this?”. Before she really had time to think through what she was saying, Alicia pulled Connor's notebook out of her bag and held it out to Darrell.

“Why? I won't understand it”, Darrell folded her arms across her chest and Alicia wanted to jump up and shake her, to tell her to sort herself out. But that wouldn't help matters any so she took a deep breath,

“I can't even read it...well...not most of it”, she said, “It's in some kind of short-hand, figured maybe you might be able to...”. She waited out the stand-off, for all of the half a minute it lasted for before Darrell's resolve broke and the other woman took the notebook and returned to sit down on her coat. Alicia held her breath as Darrell opened the first page and tilted the book to catch the light of the fire on the pages so she could read. Another minute passed as Darrell looked up and down the page and Alicia couldn't help but watch her the whole time.

“It really is peculiar to have you stare at me”, Darrell said, and Alicia felt herself go red again, “I won't be able to do this if you keep watching me”.

“You can read it?”, Alicia got up and moved to sit beside Darrell.

“Some.”, Darrell's voice took an edge of sharpness for a moment, then softened, “I recognise some of the short-hand. I might be able to work out some more. This bit here”, and Darrell pointed to a line, Alicia had to lean in slightly to look at it, “this is a list of materials, I think this part is from when Connor first built the device”. Alicia nodded and was suddenly very aware of how close she was to Darrell, in the quiet of the cave with only the faint crackle of the lamp, she could hear Darrell's heart-beat. Shaking, Alicia pulled back and chastised herself for her ridiculous reaction. To her relief, Darrell had not noticed her behaviour.

“If you can decipher this then...”

“I said I might be able to, don't go getting your hopes up”, and Darrell was back on her feet, with a mutter of going to have a quick wash. Alicia lay down on top of Darrell's coat and let out a heavy sigh.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Jan. 12th, 2015 07:52 am (UTC)
Awww, I liked this - the juxtaposition of Alicia's memory with the emptiness of their situation, and their shared past. Also yay for possible discovering of new information!
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )


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