Vin Hampton: Genius. Hacker. Sharp tongue. Sharp shooter. Enfant terrible. His Tigress. (RolePlay only, OC)
#Vinlock The Forbidden AU
Note from the writer: This is a Vinlock AU set 40 years in the future. Punky and I have been discussing it for a while but have not had the stomach to post it. Until now. I hope you enjoy it.
Vivienne knew she was slowly going blind, but the process was slow enough that she had time to adjust. It had started in her forties: objects in the distance had started to blur into vague colours. She began to wear glasses, and did not quite understand why Holmes liked them so much. During the first few weeks, he had made her sit still a few times while he drew this new image of her in his notebook – first in pencil, then in pen and ink. She was fond of his drawings; he always added a spark in her eyes that she couldn’t see when she looked at herself in the mirror. For the first drawing, he sat down right in front of her, so the woman in the portrait looked straight out. He drew her as she was, her nose slightly too wide for her face, her right eye a bit lazy. He was particularly careful drawing the spectacles – he wanted to get them just right. He was obsessed with accuracy. She indulged him, and sat quietly and comfortably, petting their ageing cats and listening to the sound of the pencil scratching her image into the paper. The second time he drew her, he sat at an angle, tracing the contour of her strong cheekbones and spending far too much time on getting the pout of her bottom lip just right. The third time, he sat her in profile and drew the soft flesh under her chin. She didn’t like that, but he assured her she was beautiful. “Your bone structure is beautiful, Vivienne, you are beautiful,” he said, and then kissed her lips and put his pencils away.
Vivienne smiles at the memory as she stirs the vegetable soup on the stove. She is almost seventy and the glasses are ornamental. She sees peripherally, by tilting her head and looking out of the corner of her eye. Everything else is a mass of abstract shape and colour. It isn’t too bad, and she has had time to learn that everything can still be done, only more slowly. Careful not to scald herself, she spoons some of the hearty soup into a bowl and feels underneath the counter until she finds the drawer handle, pulling it open and taking out a spoon. She takes calculated steps to the kitchen table and sets the bowl down, sitting down with a little bit of effort. “Holmes?” She calls out. He has spent most of his day in the garden, sitting in the mild sun and drawing. She does not hear the sound of his footsteps and calls him again.
Their house in Sussex is quiet. It is cosy, with two bedrooms, one of which has become their library, and a large garden, which Holmes had used for his beekeeping and gardening for the better part of a decade. Now, it is mostly unkempt, although Vivienne has hired a gardener and a maid who quietly tend to the house while Holmes is out on his visits to John’s house. John and his wife live a few streets away, and once a week, when their grandchildren are not at the house, John comes by and picks up Sherlock and the pair of them sit in John’s living room. John has published a number of books based on his years of detective work with Sherlock, and now, he reads them to him.
Vivienne misses reading. She listens to audiobooks, but they are not quite the same. When she is alone, she spends time in the library, running her fingers over the spines of her old favourite books. The thick collection of Eliot’s poetry, hefty, a green blur; 1001 Arabian Nights, huge, hardbound, and midnight blue. She doesn’t miss the computer screen quite so much. Sometimes, Holmes reads to her, but he loses interest very quickly. She enjoys it when he does; his voice, though older and more gruff, has retained its velvety timbre and when he is not restless she sits beside him, her head on his shoulder. He still smells exactly the same as he did forty years ago – of wood and tobacco and tea. When he lets her, she lifts her hands to his face and traces it with her fingertips, which remember so much. She cannot see him properly, and she notices that in her mind, he always looks almost forty. She can feel his skin has sagged, but his beautiful lips are still soft and his curls, although they are now completely white, are still quite thick. In her mind, his eyes are still a dazzling shade of blue, and still convey his once boundless intellect.
Sometimes, he remembers her – usually, it is when he has spent hours poring over his notebooks. Her heart skips a beat when he calls out for her, “Vivienne!”, as though it were the name of precious ore. A little bent, he comes out of the library and she outstretches her arms, feeling around for him. He holds her waist and pulls her close to himself. “My living doll,” he says, warmly. It used to make her cry but now she has learnt to cherish these precious moments, which are becoming more and more rare. Sometimes, his memory lasts an entire day and she does her best to encourage him to remember more. Or they sit in silence, enjoying affectionate caresses and occasional anecdotes, but mostly an unspoken knowledge of the life they shared together, which has been, for the most part, happy. They never did have children, but their lives were rich. Vivienne finally devoted time to studying and, in her forties, got her doctorate in biotechnology. She became a lecturer at a prominent London university, and for twenty years mentored students who went on to achieve remarkable things. They were all her children, in a way. Holmes continued to work until the legwork became too much, and then they retired in this little house in the country.
There are bad days also. It started slowly, with him forgetting words, forgetting to put his shoes on before he went out. When the doctor diagnosed him with Alzheimer’s, Holmes called him a charlatan and sought a second and third opinion. When he could no longer refute the proof, he spent days locked in the library, refusing to eat or speak to anyone. Eventually, Vivienne found him curled up in a corner, weeping. She bathed him and took him to bed. “We will find a way, we always have.”
“How? You are going blind, and I am losing the only thing I care about,” he scoffed.
“You haven’t lost me,” she said, pressing a kiss to the beauty mark on the back of his neck. She couldn’t see it, but knew exactly where it was.
The episodes have become more frequent. It has been three years since the diagnosis and Vivienne knows they will only get worse. One day soon, she will not be able to cope alone, and she will have to bring in a helper. She has promised herself that the moment he becomes a threat to himself, she will do exactly that. So far, however, it is mostly forgetting. He takes showers with his clothes on. He forgets to put milk back in the fridge, so it goes sour. He hunches over scientific tomes and she can tell from his frustrated silence that he is struggling. She feeds him every day, because he truly forgets now. His face still lights up when she promises muffins. He has not changed all that much.
They still sleep together every night. Even during the worst moments when he struggles against her and demands to know who she is and what she has done with his Living Doll, she can usually calm him by reaching out and stroking his hair.
The vegetable soup is going cold and Holmes has still not come. Vivienne decides to go to the garden and fetch him, because it is possible if he is having a bad moment that he will be stubborn and refuse to come and eat without being coaxed. She shuffles toward the glass door and can just make out his thin frame, slouching on the bench by the rosebush. “Monster, it’s lunchtime,” she says, walking in his direction. He does not answer her and she frowns, frustrated. She doesn’t like it when he is quiet; it is better when he yells, insults, throws tantrums. When he is quiet, it means he is sad. She sits beside him and strokes his back through his woollen cardigan. “Sit up, my love, and come to the kitchen with me. The food is getting cold.” He does not speak and she reaches for his hands. They are empty. From the corner of her eye, she can see the vague outline of his notebook and pencils on the floor. She picks them up with a sigh and her spine aches dully. “Darling…” She strokes his hair and his head lolls to the side. Of course she understands, but it doesn’t register until she has felt for a pulse and has found none. At first, she experiences a sort of cold feeling. Her skull tingles and she is not sure how to react. And then comes the sadness, all at once, like a wall of water. She places her fingers on his face and feels about frantically. She closes his eyes and his mouth. His lips are still warm, his skin is still warm. She draws his head to her chest and sits, stroking his hair, the soup now completely cold.
John and his wife accompany her to the funeral, three days later. She learns he died quickly of a heart attack, and blames herself for not being there, for not having realised, for not having been able to save him. She can barely speak his eulogy. Her lips tremble and her words are broken. “Sherlock was brash and arrogant, but he was also brilliant, and kind, and good. And he was the whole world to me,” she manages, before she shakes her head and signals for John to help her off the podium. She is led back to her seat and a Bach fugue plays as Sherlock is lowered into the earth.
Back at her house, John’s wife makes them all tea and Vivienne sits quietly with her late husband’s oldest friend and wonders how she will ever live without him, how she will ever sleep without him in her bed. On the kitchen table is Sherlock’s notebook, open at the page he was drawing on when he died. “He was drawing flowers all morning,” she says, breaking the silence and running a hand over the paper. She cannot see what is on the page, only knows there is no colour.
“Flowers?” John says. “He wasn’t drawing flowers, Vin.”
“He was drawing you. This is your portrait.”
Exactly one week after Sherlock’s death, Vivienne drinks a cup of tea and gets into bed. She has asked the maid not to change the sheets; the ghost of his smell is still there and she buries her face in his pillow. She falls asleep eventually and forever.
Who would think a man had so much blood in him? The first man I killed was Connor. Connor married me and beat me. I snapped and smothered him in his sleep. I never thought of it as murder, because there was no blood. I simply… protected myself from him. I simply took a living man and turned him into a dead man. If I had stayed, I would have been found guilty of manslaughter but the bruises and the scars and his history of violence would have meant a short sentence. If I had stabbed him in the chest while he beat me, it would have been self defence and I would have got off easy. That always made me wonder; how I could have had my hands soaked in his blood and the courts of law would still have beaten their gavel in my favour.
I should have stayed. I know now I should have stayed, it would have changed everything. I would have done a couple of years behind bars, maybe less with a good lawyer. I could have finally gone to university. I would be something now. A professor. A businesswoman. A doctor. Something. I could have been something. [I was something and now I am nothing but that is again my own damn fault] But I was afraid and I ran, I took the first opportunity that presented itself and I ran right into the centre of a web. I’m no victim. I was a victim, and I ended that. But I didn’t know the magnitude of what I would be getting myself into. “I could find a place for you,” Yuri said, and I thought… I don’t know what I thought. I thought I could do some drug runs for him like I used to do for the boys but no, this was oceans bigger.
I had been in training for three months when Yuri took me out to downtown Moscow and pointed at a man walking his dog in the street and said “Kill him”.
“Out here? In the street?”
“Walk up to him. Shoot him. Come back to the car.”
He was innocent. I don’t know what his name was. The first man I really killed with blood was just an innocent man walking his dog. I don’t remember much, but he was wearing khaki trousers and he had a kind face and a wedding ring and I said “Sorry” right before I shot him with the Beretta Yuri had thrust into my hand.
“Ruby,” he had said, “I have to know you are loyal.”
I did a lot of things for him to know I was loyal. But that was later. If I had refused or run away, I’d have been the one with a bullet in my eye. I know because I saw it happen to a couple of people.
But this guy, he bled on the pavement. It pooled and it was so much blood. And the dog kept yelping and pawing at him. I got into the car and we drove away. Yuri bought me a drink and a bracelet, and I got another ring tattooed into my ankle. Murderer. This was murder, this one bled.
You know, you think you are a person with morals. You think you are good. You think you would do the right thing. You would be surprised at how twisted you could be. Yes, you. You would be surprised at what you would do to stay alive if it was your life on the line. And you’d be surprised at how you’d come to enjoy it. We people, we think we’re so superior, but we are beasts. We thrive on darkness, on violence, on death. We love it. It fascinates us. It may scare you but if you open the dam just a little bit, it will bore a hole into your skull quicker than my bullets ever did. You would have done the same, you mark my words.
Philip Roth, The Dying Animal (via likeafieldmouse)
You asked if I would write my thoughts on you, and I said I would be willing. I fear, my love, that I do not possess a mind quite so meticulous as to regularly and accurately document you the way you do me. And there is so much of you I have learnt already that I fear I would only forget something basic, which will render my account of you incomplete.
Only know this: my hands, my fingers, my lips are your students. They know your every groove and muscle; they know each bump on your scalp which your curls conceal. They are well acquainted with the trembling of your thighs when they caress your navel and the taut skin right below it. They know every mole and marking, and each is as precious and important to me as any ruby. My tongue knows the scar above your mouth. My hands know your hands, and search for them in the dark expanses of the night. I have learnt what it means when your hand squeezes mine, when your thumb strokes my palm, when our fingers interlace like lovers.
Holmes, the convex of my belly knows the concave of yours, and in those cherished moments of warm, syrupy passion my skin cries out for you, to be touched, to be loved, to be explored and claimed by you. I know you like it when I kiss the fleshy skin behind your knee. I know you like it when my teeth graze your neck. It makes your heart beat faster, maybe out of some perceived danger. I know the length of your limbs because I know exactly how far in I must curl at night before you are wrapped around me and I feel like a whole person. I know how my head rests perfectly on your shoulder and I feel how you flinch, however subtly, when I touch the marks along your arms - remnants from your self-destructive urges. I try not to dwell on them because my love you are too perfect to ever have to feel like you deserve pain.
I know your voice is low when you are confident or angry, rushed when you are trying to keep up with your racing mind, stumbling over consonants and missing the sharpness of the post-alveolar fricative. It happens when you’re frightened too. I pretend not to hear it.
And if I could, I would record every last twitch of your muscles but it would be impossible. You are infinitely complex. Despite your protestations, your experience of emotion runs deeper than the lines in the palms of your hands; it courses through your blood, it mingles with your synapses. You deny it, but I see the little spasm, the little contraction, the controlled convulsion, and I know otherwise, and I know that that makes you uneasy.
But I will never apologise for making you /feel/ - not emotion, nor sensation. You said once you wanted to belong to me. Let them belong to me: the urges, the caresses, the orgasms, the aftermath, the tangling of limbs and the comedown. Let me have them, I know them all: your words, your looks, your pleas. Let me own them. I will be your teacher, I will be your student.
And the map of you remains contained in my fingertips, so you know when I am touching you and embracing you and comforting you, I am also learning you. Let me hold your secrets. Only you can read me.
Öd’ und leer das Meer. How bleak and void the sea. How black and how wine-dark the glassy, glossy surface of my mind, under which all manner of ravenous maws yawn and split, gulf-like; in the depths of which so many monsters marry memories, and make madness manifest. I push it down beneath the glass: my madness. My ocean. My wide, dark, wine-dark universe of screaming. Only once I was submerged; I lost myself in the deep blue blackness and images, constant images, came up in visions like a series of liquid ghosts, palimpsestic spectres, one on top of the last, pushing me down with the weight of emotion, until I was on the seabed looking up through a tunnel of memories forged in water. (“The many men, so beautiful! / And they all dead did lie: / And a thousand thousand slimy things / Lived on; and so did I.” )
In time, I was hauled up, gasping and spluttering for air (for I had forgotten in my madness to grow gills) and I used the debris to build myself an island in the middle of my ocean (there, to the left, a stupendous leg of granite, do you see?). A wise man once said an island does not stop being deserted just because it is inhabited. (“Alone, Alone, all, all alone / Alone on a wide wide sea!”)
“…that question so dear to the old explorers- “which creatures live on deserted islands?”- one could only answer: human beings live there already, but uncommon humans, they are absolutely separate, absolute creatures, in short, an Idea of humanity, a prototype, a man who would almost be a god, a woman who would be a goddess, a great Amnesiac, a consciousness of Earth and Ocean, an enormous hurricane, a beautiful witch, a statue from the Easter islands.” – Gilles Deleuze, ‘Desert Islands’
Kali lives on that island, and Shiva, beneath her. And for the briefest of moments, so did Persephone.
(“I lie on the floor, washed by nothing and hanging on. I cry at night. I am afraid of hearing voices, or a voice. I have come to the edge, of the land. I could get pushed over.” )
When I first learnt of my pregnancy, I worried my legacy would be one of horror. Like all mothers, I wished to preserve my child from the evils of the world, but then, not all mothers embody the evils of the world. I worried about turning into my own mother, who hanged herself from the olive tree in our garden. And if I am the olive tree my mother hanged herself on, then it follows that the new life inside me would be a little olive. A perfect, round, little olive. How would I protect my daughter from the sea when it is in her blood? How apt, I thought, that I should make her her own island, her own little cosmic egg, so close to the sea but worlds away. No, she should have her father’s mind: a palace – she would be a princess.
[theydonotknow/ notevenoneofthemknows/ thathemoatsurroundingthepalace /isfedbythesea/ thewidedarkwinedarksea]
“The whole Mediterranean- the sculptures, the palms, the gold beads, the bearded heroes, the wine, the ideas, the ships, the moonlight, the winged gorgons, the bronze men, the philosophers- all of it seems to rise out of the sour, pungent taste of black olives between the teeth. A taste older than meat or wine, a taste as old as cold water. Only the sea itself seems as ancient a part of the region as the olive…” – Lawrence Durrell, ‘Prospero’s Cell’
When the ultrasound[waves] echoed against the empty chamber of my womb, when the picture showed me nothing but an image of myself from the inside, and not the perfect little olive I so longed to see; when I was told the chemicals I had been taking to control the ocean had caused this pretence of motherhood, through a sense of pooling grief I began to understand
That my daughter (the olive)
My daughter (the perfect cosmic egg)
Was not a sea-creature;
No, my daughter (mine, the fruit, not his, the princess)
Was the sea itself.
I had built an island to get away from the sea, only to be impregnated by it. I was the mother of the sea, I was the mother of my own madness (the sea itself… as ancient as… the olive…)
“for whatever we lose (like a you or a me), it’s always ourselves we find in the sea”
These are the things I dare not speak; the things I dare not whisper into the darkness of his curls. Here are the shores between sanity and the sea.
//Excerpts and references:
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner – Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The Odyssey – Homer
Desert Islands – Gilles Deleuze
Prospero’s Cell – Lawrence Durrell
Cat’s Eye – Margaret Atwood
Maggie, millie, molly, may – e. e. cummings
"I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once."
We have spent the afternoon curled up together on his old armchair in his lab. My favourite place in the world is no longer Gorky Park, or that old cigar room on Half Moon Street. It is no longer Lake Como, with its water so blue it is the very essence of blue, the font from which all blue takes its inspiration. My favourite place in the world is this old armchair, tatty and worn. Some people say the heart of their home is the kitchen, the place of nourishment. This is my heart, my place of nourishment. This is where we sit together, inextricable, in comfortable silence, and we read for hours, feeding that which is of paramount important to us both. We sit in such a way that it is impossible to decipher who of us is on top and whose arms are around whose neck. He rests his head against my chest and from where I am, gazing down at words on pages, I can smell his hair, which is clean and soft and smells like a mixture of my shampoo and his own scent. I think if I lost him it would be the loss of his scent which would eventually kill me. I would haunt the house searching for the last traces of it until there were no more traces of it and then there would be no more reasons. I do not know why I experience love and loss in conjunction or parallel. I want to smell his hair and experience infinity; instead I experience the entire infinite spectrum between love and fear. Love is a disadvantage, he says; to which I add: only insofar as loss is its eternal companion.
His hand goes slack, his breathing deepens. He falls asleep slowly, and then all at once. They say sex is the most intimate act, and sometimes I guess I agree. Sometimes, sex transcends the physical. Sometimes sex happens, within the glow of love (the hormonal glow, he would argue), and it is so intensely intimate that I and You cease to exist and it is not even a matter of We, but we move from nouns to verbs.
But I would argue sleeping is the most intimate act; to place enough trust in another person that you would allow them to be present while you were in a state of unconsciousness. That is intimate. I lower my face and kiss the top of his head and he is the source of scent and of reasons. He says I create tangible worlds in my head and I am sure that is a symptom or in the very least a lingering proof of psychosis, of my neurons and synapses all muddled up, so mundanities and mythologies are one and the same. Still in this moment I feel like both his mother and his lover, and perhaps also a stranger. But mostly his Other. There is a warmth in my chest which radiates from the contact point between his temple and my sternum and I am unsure whether it is purely psychosomatic or if it could be electricity from where his fabric is trying to connect to mine. We are all stars, we are all atoms, there are no sharp lines and boundaries, not really.
The ever-present urge to consume him takes over and so I put down my book and I wrap my arms around him, engulfing, embracing. I think of Magna Mater, and wonder whether I am her despite the emptiness of my womb, the rattling emptiness of a pod. I am mythologising again, but isn’t that what we are, in the end? Mythologies? We look back on our actions with a mixture of flawed memory and nostalgia and we assign mythologies because that is how we make sense of the chaos. Our fathers and their fathers and especially their mothers knew this. Think of all the gods and goddesses, and all the hamartias and hubrises, and all the heroes and all the monsters. Think of all stories, all the stories we tell, the real and the fiction. We tell them with words. They are mythologies. And we are infinitely capable of them all. There is no such thing as monotheism or polytheism - there is only chaos and the cloying compulsion of our mind to organise it.
He, in his state of intimate sleep (Endymion and Selene?) lifts his head and buries his nose in the crook of my neck. My chest almost aches, proving psychosoma and what should be a moment of love echoes with clarity - of endorphins and dopamine and all other sorts of names of things which sounds like ancient gods. The reality of us as pools of chemicals. I refute it and stroke his hair. I fall asleep slowly, and then all at once, cocooned in the comfort of this old, worn-out chair, which I know nothing about. It is without a history to me; it is simply my heart. It is the All-Chair, I think, as I…
[How wide and dark the sea. How wine-dark. Öd und leer. Scylla and Charybdis. Snow.]