Title: No Light, No Light
Rating: PG, although it's not really kiddie stuff
W
arning: angst
Pairing/Characters: mentions of Marty, Luis, original character; Sheridan and a couple of surprise guests
Word Count: 1,401
Summary (for chapter): prompt: sky. You're going to take one wrong step, and your sick little game is going to be over. This is what happens when you have my imagination, and are truly not satisfied with the ending you were given. Not that I wanted this to happen, really, but it would have explained so much.





~*~




"It really is a shame."

Against her volition, Sheridan's blue eyes tracked the other woman's progress around the small room, and she gripped the spoon in her hand tighter, until her knuckles blanched.

"Just how far you've let yourself go." A smile curled at the corners of the brassy mouth, not sympathetic in the least, and she lowered herself in the chair opposite Sheridan, lifting a chipped tea cup to her lips. "I'm a little offended you didn't make a better effort to look nice for our afternoon tea."

Sheridan laid the spoon in her hand down, resting her hands in her lap to pick at the threadbare satin swimming on her slender frame. Her chin dipped toward her chest, and as it did, a curl of long blond hair, peppered with hints of gray, brushed against her prominent collarbone. Anger flared within her, but just as quickly, she squashed it down. She didn't want to suffer those consequences again, and she was certain the other woman knew that. Forcing herself to be as meek as possible, she delivered an answer she hoped would be deemed satisfactory. "It's been so long since I've had the pleasure of your company. You caught me by surprise." Still, she couldn't keep the barest hints of indolence from creeping into her tone.

Blue eyes narrowed at her, and nostrils flared, but not another word was exchanged, not for several long minutes.

Sheridan felt the crawling sensation of dread seize her belly as it always did when she was gifted with one of these visits, and she knew whatever was coming, whatever the other woman had in store for her, it wasn't going to be good. In fact, it may just snatch away the last shreds of dignity and hope she'd been able to hold on to through the endless hours and days and years she'd called this gilded underground prison her home.

"I've been busy." Manicured fingers reached for the purse resting just beside her chair. "And I have the pictures to prove it."

Sheridan suppressed a shiver at the mad, taunting gleam that appeared in the blue eyes that watched her expectantly, from the face that used to stare back at her every morning. Her fingers itched to touch the corners of her own eyes, and the ever-deepening lines she knew to be there, anchor herself to the reality that she knew, and not the one fed to her in crumbs and cloaked words.

"Go ahead," the other woman gleefully encouraged. "Look."

Sheridan felt the floor drop from beneath her, and the walls surge forward in an attempt to crush what was left of her spirit. Her son, her Marty, looking so strong, so tall, so like his father as he looked into the camera, standing against a backdrop of blue, blue sky (blue sky she feared she would never see again). Tears stung her eyes with alarming immediacy. She was so caught up in tracing his beloved features over and over again with her fingertips that she didn't realize the other woman had risen to her feet, had moved closer to her (to better enjoy her torment).

"So handsome, our boy. Don't you agree?"

Genuine pride laced the words, and Sheridan couldn't help but look up to meet the other woman's gaze head-on. Wordlessly, she nodded, and with trembling hands, carded through the rest of the photographs.

"He starts high school in the fall."

Choked with emotion, Sheridan cast the rest of the pictures aside. She shrank back when a lean arm brushed against her front, and feebly tried to push away the hand that foisted the cruel evidence of all she had missed, all she continued to miss back at her.

"You haven't even gotten to the best ones, silly sister of mine. Keep going. Keep going," she insisted. "Luis looks so distinguished with the gray, don't you think?"

Ignoring her words, Sheridan voiced a sudden realization out loud. "Fancy's not in any of these pictures." Her blood running cold with a myriad of possibilities, she asked the question that begged to be asked. "Beth, what did you do?"

The other woman's eyes flashed, flared with indignation, and she snapped out a seething warning. "I'm Sheridan. You're nobody. Beth doesn't exist anymore!"

"Forgive me, Sheridan," Sheridan forced herself to make the Herculean effort to appease. "I didn't mean to upset you. I'm just curious."

Sheridan (Beth) stood up, stalked across the small room, littered with cast-offs of a former life, and gathered her self-control again before speaking. "Fancy and Luis proved to be just as ill-matched as I'd suspected all along. She's no longer in the picture."

With her words, any lingering doubts surrounding the other woman's tenuous grasp on sanity vanished for Sheridan, and she shuffled frantically through the pictures again, looking for any sign of her niece, any clues to give her hope, to ease her mind. But she found nothing of the sort, for a second viewing of the pictures merely alarmed her more. Luis's brown eyes were dead, Marty's (too grown-up) gaze somber, and the boy, the boy curled around and clinging to his father, hiding in his brother's shadow, the boy was a mere ghost, caught between two worlds, the one with his mother and the one without. "No," Sheridan moaned, feeling grief and regret grab hold of her thin shoulders. "Fancy, no."

Sheridan (Beth) considered her for a long moment before making a confession of sorts. "She didn't meet Antonio's particularly unfortunate end, if that's what you're afraid of."

Hope and despair flared within Sheridan's heart. Hope that Fancy would put her brains to use, save herself, perhaps save them all in the process. Anguish for the fate that Antonio hadn't deserved. She may not have loved him as she loved Luis, but once upon a time, she had cared, and still, she grieved for him, for them all. "She's alive."

A close approximation of her own blond hair fell across a curiously arched brow as Sheridan (Beth) shook her head. "I've never understood you. She took everything from you, everything you ever loved, yet you've never hated her. Why?"

"If you have to ask that question," Sheridan told her unflinchingly, "then you'll never understand."

Again, anger sparked the flinty, cold blue eyes, but only for a brief moment, for it was soon gone, replaced with an evil, calculating gleam. A cool, mocking facsimile of a smile appeared as she shouldered the purse and turned to go. "I've grown bored with your company. Besides, Luis and the boys are waiting for me." Her back to the door, her eyes never leaving Sheridan, she motioned her intent to leave to the camera mounted in the corner of the room.

Sheridan recoiled, unable to hide the sought-for reaction. "One wrong step, Beth. That's all it's going to take. You're going to take one wrong step, and your sick little game is going to be over. Luis is going to know exactly who and what you are."

Beth threw her head back and laughed, a sharp, long, humorless sound. "You keep telling yourself that. While you're at it, say a little goodnight prayer for the souls of those that have even come close to discovering the truth."

Sheridan's eyes slammed shut against the cruel reminder, and she turned her back to the sound of the heavy locks disengaging, the unmistakable sound of the guard's gun at the ready. When they opened again, they landed on the pictures. She grabbed them, whirling around and tossing them at Beth's feet. "You forgot something."

Beth merely shrugged, smiled a twisted smile. "Keep them. Spruce up the place a little. I have the real thing." Kicking the pictures aside with the toe of her high heel, she acknowledged the burly man standing sentinel at her shoulder. "I really can't keep Luis waiting any longer. Introduce her to her new roommate, will you?" She trailed her hand across the muscled chest as she slipped past, false promises in her eyes, deceit in every gesture, and then they were alone, Sheridan and her keeper and a ghost from her past.

Despair took over Sheridan's mind and body then, like a swift, ravaging cancer, and she lifted a hand to the dirty cloth tied tightly around the pretty face, muffling the shocked syllables, the futile screams for help, and loosened it, said only her name.

"Fancy."





~*~

And that, my dear readers, would have simultaneously left me enraged and made the bitter pill of Sheridan and Luis not getting together at the show's end a little easier to swallow.



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