you're a criminal as long as you're mine
he wants a burger to eat, knowing that it will simply sit inside of him like lead when he consumes it. the action the need of having a burger is more to do with having an action to do with his hands, something to fill his mouth with that isn't cigarette smoke to drive out the thoughts, feelings, and memories of victor fries in his mind, in his body.
alexander should be writing this down for his therapist to see. he isn't, though. he's trying to remember the way he used to cook burgers for luna, trying to recall the exact way he used to make them so he can stop tasting something bitter in his mouth and to drive out the feeling of his--victor's--fingers gripping a container that is keeping an organ at the precise temperature necessary needed for an implant.
most of the articles he finds online are mocking, waist deep in cold puns or dripping with sympathy for victor fries. almost none of them truly know the victor fries that alexander is growing more uncomfortably familiar with in wandering daydreams, in memories that surface bidden only by a change in temperature or the shifting of the light. the way they come in waves, from different moments of victor's life is unsettling.
there's violence, of course. alexander isn't shocked when a shifting shadow drags up the memory of batman, radiating anger, a fist hurling towards him, nor is he shocked that simply looking at a picture of snow brings forth an avalanche of memories from a snowy wedding to a hasty escape or a hand reaching out into the cold to feel absolutely nothing. those, he feels marginally prepared for.
he isn't prepared for the ones with nora fries. they're uncomfortably vivid, as if she lights up everything around her. the blonde in her hair, the genuine concentration she had, the patience and grace she possessed all come shining through in the memories. he understands why victor fell in love with her immediately in those moments. feeling that again, feeling like the one person who mattered the most was momentarily back in his life hurts in a way that alexander is at a loss to describe. they're frighteningly as bad to wake up from as old memories of studying with luna or of the long talks they had at night. the pain he feels on waking up is, logically, isn't his. he knows that he never actually knew nora fries....
and the pain is the same. he feels as if he's grieving twice over in utter bewilderment.
what nora fries brings that luna doesn't, however, is the memories of the realization of losing her. luna was taken at once, unexpectedly. there was never any time for alexander to process the possibility of losing him.
victor, however, was forced to listen to another doctor diagnose his wife. he had to listen as the symptoms were spelled out, as the possibility of life going on without nora was spelled out in front of him. he had to remain calm in wake of devastating news for him, and faced with the prospect of living without his wife, alexander can feel victor fries change. he can feel every goal in life reorient itself to the service of keeping nora fries alive through any means necessary. he calculates the money for treatment, runs through books for research, and still is the loving husband nora needs. he thinks, he plans, and alexander remembers every step.
what victor does is gruesome. very few websites seem to know that victor fries decided to take matters into his own hands long before waynecorp's experiments. alexander is privy to memories of victor accessing website databases long after his shift has been over, cataloging women with good health. stalking them over days and weeks, assuring himself of their health. and meticulously waiting for them in one of gotham's parks, hand shaking not once as he sets to kill them for the organs needed for his wife.
sara greenberg. myra ellison. helen bigelow. rebecca smith.
all of them dead at victor's hands. all of them sacrificed for the love, the life of nora fries.
like everyone else, alexander assumed many things of her innocence, her sainthood. in the memories, she seems easily deceived by her husband's soft words from every transplant, believing herself simply to be lucky.
until helen bigelow is reported dead.
she says nothing until she and victor are home, allowing him to brush her hair. she keeps her eyes on victor, only saying, tell me the truth.
he does, calm and without regret. tells her nothing more than utterly necessary, aware of the legal repercussions, still thinking about what could happen to her if she knew more.
alexander expected her to plead with victor to stop. instead they exchange two simple phrases: i love you.
that is all that matters. it is enough to carry victor through one more killing, nora fully understanding of what was happening. it is what sustains him through waynecorp experiments to try to save her, what keeps him trying through a radically altered body, through endless horrors, aches, and pains. he and nora loved each other. they would always love each other, no matter what.
it's the memory that haunts alexander the most, frightens him more than any visage of batman ever could. it is the fact that in that moment, alexander not only understands victor fries but in that moment, he is sure that he would have done the same thing had it been luna there. to keep luna alive, to snatch as much life as possible if he could do so, alexander knows he would have done so. harming others would have been easy in comparison to living without luna, a price he would have happily paid in the end so long as they still loved each other.
now, he understands victor fries in the most intimate way possible, finding that maybe there wasn't much difference between the two of them than he'd thought--and all the questions that came with it.
FEELING HELPLESS I LOOK FOR DISTRACTION I GO SEARCHING FOR YOU
"you don't need me to help you with this course," luna's voice is steady, calm and has that flint of tone that alexander was starting to recognize as an opening silo to an argument. "you haven't opened up that book the entire time you've been here with me."
caught, alexander isn't quite sure how he should respond to this. he keeps looking at luna's hands, poised in front of him perfectly clasped together, not touching the food alexander had ordered a few minutes ago. he feels as if he's been chastised by this man he's looked up to for months, who he followed onto this campus to know better--even if he would never admit such a thing outloud for fear of what it could mean, to admit to that. he swallows, looks up and tries to say something that doesn't feel foolish (luna makes him feel deeply foolish, sometimes)...
and comes up empty. his mouth closes, jaw clenching with the inability to voice what he wanted to say.
luna is patient, saintly almost, with his silence as it stretches onward.
it takes a few more moments of silence until alexander can finally voice, "no. i don't," he looks up fully, still struggling with what precisely he's feeling, sitting here in luna's kitchen, fingers nervously reaching out to start unpacking the chinese food before him. "you're smarter than-- i..." he feels as if there's something just beyond his grasp for what he wants to say, needs to say. he wants to get there, to stop feeling thrust under a spotlight like this.
luna's fingers touch his own on the bag. alexander freezes at the sudden touch. there are a thousand reasons as to why luna would have reached out to deliberately touch him with the first five being the ones that make him uncomfortable, as none of those ideas are something that he thinks luna shares.
and yet, he can't make himself pull away.
Till we're lost in the heat of the moment
whenever alexander mentions the boarding schools he's gone to, there is always an assumption that such places helped to engender a community of brotherhood, understanding and safety. anyone who has actually gone to such schools knows that such an idea is laughable.
for many people, they eventually made it out with friends, connections, rivalries that mattered in the real world, could always be circled back to, and in a manner, could make something of it.
most boys were not alexander, who routinely found himself sneaking off to other places on the grounds to eat his food alone, who kept to himself whenever he could manage, who's one friend lived elsewhere, and who preferred the company of his nanny to his parents' voices over the line interrogating him on grades.
it was all this to say that to have any semblance of kindness or friendship was sparse and lacking. most contact with other boys in the emotional and physical sense, for him were ones laden with tones of annoyance or purely punitive in nature. his roommate bodychecking him roughly in the hallways, the sports he hardly participated in left him bruised, and the visible irritation others had whenever those necessary social engagements happened and alexander, somehow, failed to miss a social cue, or did not understand the joke being said.
to be suddenly touched by luna ibarra, in his kitchen, in a way that does not feel punitive or laced with irritation is strange. stranger still is that there is a yearning alexander finds in those moments before he bolts from the apartment. a yearning to have that touch spread, to have it linger in a longer way than the few moments he was permitted there, to have a true sense of... of something he has no name for.
So draw me close
two days pass between the hasty retreat. luna texts him, emails him. alexander ignores it, tries to actually pay attention to the course laid out for him. he feels however, his mind starting to wander every few pages. he thinks about what he's left there, about the warmth of luna's hands on his in that moment, on how much he had wanted from it. the words, the emotions are still there, at the very edge of his mind, sitting there, wanting to be understood.
worse, really, is that he misses luna. it isn't the same thing as missing other friends, as missing his parents or missing anything else. it is deeper than that, sticks in the craw of his mind in a way that he can't dismiss the same or push down like anything else.
so when, on day three, luna sends him another text, asking him to meet him for lunch, alexander says yes.
when luna asks him if they are still friends, alexander says yes.
and when luna asks him if he wants to leave for awhile, to make up for time, alexander says yes.