DISCLAIMER: Los Hombres De Paco and its characters are the property of Antena 3. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Despite the spoilers we've heard for the upcoming season, I'm writing this fic on the assumption that no cast members are leaving/that the status quo isn't really shaken. (In my perfect world, it wouldn't be, of course.) As you can see, this is going to be a somewhat long fic; I'm aiming to put out a chapter a week through January, but come February I may have to scale it back to a chapter every other week. So if you don't like reading WIPs, you should know that this one will probably not be finished for quite a while. As always, comments and constructive criticism welcome. Don't make me beg, guys! Also, thanks go out to random_flores and disturbed_muse for betaing this. I really appreciate it, you two. :)
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Songs of Innocence & Experience
I'm leading someone else's life.
'Cause then came you.
Then there's you.
I keep your picture
In my worn through shoes.
Then there's you.
Then came you.
When I'm lost,
I look at my picture of you.
Week 7, Day 6
Pepa scrubbed frantically at her skin. The water was only lukewarm, now, not the blisteringly hot it had been twenty minutes ago, but her skin was still red and raw and chafed.
She scrubbed more, trying to scrub the day off. Trying to scrub herself off.
She felt like she was going to explode or implode or cry or .
Christ. Today had started so well. Her dealers' sales were up, El Diablo had sent word that he was satisfied, that she would be moving up another rung next week.
She had caught herself being savagely pleased by this, and had felt sick. Was this what her competitiveness was leading her into? Being happy that she was ruining lives, just because her ego liked the attention, liked being the best?
Then Adrián, young but already her best dealer (and one she fully intended to take with her as she moved up the ranks) had come to her, asked her to accompany him on a deal with a new buyer. The kid was rich, he said, and checked out, and he had no reason to be suspicious, but it just didn't feel right, he had said. He wanted Pepa to come with him, just to make sure.
He had good instincts. She reminded herself to tell him that the next time they saw each other.
She kept scrubbing.
So she had rounded up two of her other dealers and gone with him. Good thing Pepa had listened to her own instincts, as well; in the middle of the deal, some of Álvaro's dealers had shown up. Álvaro was Adrián's main competitor in the barrio, and had apparently been a thorn in the lower levels of El Diablo's operation for quite some time. As for the buyer, the kid was either an ex-client of Álvaro's or a nervous as fuck plant from the other organization, because he had looked terrified as the two gangs had swaggered at each other, strutted, spit, cursed.
Then the bullets had started flying.
Pepa and Adrián had ducked behind a dumpster, returned fire. She did not know where Jaime and Miguel had taken cover, though she heard them swearing and firing, too.
She could still smell the blood. Hear the gunshots. Hear the cursing, the screaming, the sound of bodies hitting pavement.
After a few minutes, the sirens had started in the distance.
Pepa and Adrián had not stuck around to see if Miguel and Jaime had gotten out, or even if they had been okay. They had just bolted, around dark corners and over low fences and through piles of garbage, until the sirens were a distant memory and they could (more or less) blend in with respectable folk traversing one of the main avenues in Sevilla.
Adrián had only been grazed. Pepa, miraculously, had not been hit at all.
Her scrubbing slowed slightly as she realized she still had not heard from Miguel. She was not sure whether she should be worried. She was not sure whether she should care.
She did not know if she actually did care. She felt numb, and like her lungs were going to burst, and in her head what was more worrisome was that she knew she was numb and still could not care.
She thought she might have killed a boy today.
He had not looked more than eighteen.
She felt dirty.
She felt like she wanted to scream.
The worst part was that she thought she might have killed him and part of her did not care. It was just another dealer off the streets. A rival, no less. No need to feel, to shed tears.
She was scaring herself.
These thoughts did not distress her as much as she knew they should. Instead, her attention was focused on another matter.
Joder, I am going to have to report on this to El Diablo.
At least there was not going to be any paperwork.
A bitter smile twisted her lips. Silvia always teased her about her utter hatred of paperwork.
Well. If by 'teased' Pepa meant 'bitched when her reports were all a week late,' yeah. It was the downside of working with your girlfriend; when you neglected to file a report or two, she knew, and being OCD would nag you incessantly over the dinner table, in the shower, even in the bedroom about it.
And Díos, could Silvia nag. She had turned it into an art form, really. If Lola was anything like Silvia, no wonder Paco was constantly on the edge of a nervous breakdown. At least Pepa knew what she had to look forward to in the next sixty years.
Christ, what Pepa wouldn't give to hear her nagging right now.
She bit her lip as a wave of loneliness swamped her. Usually she could manage this, but tonight, tonight
The soap slipped from her grasp as she sat down hard in the tub, burying her face in her hands. She missed Silvia. Seven weeks, seven fucking weeks, without seeing the redhead. Without hearing her. Without touching, tasting, smelling her. Without even knowing how she was. If she missed Pepa. If she appreciated not having to deal with late reports. If her phone's screen was scratched up or if Silvia was still obsessively keeping it undamaged. If she had reverted back to eating totally healthily yet (she was going to have to reintroduce Silvia to junk food when she got back, she just knew it).
God, she missed Silvia. And felt so unequipped to deal with it. She had never missed anyone this much. Not her father or her mother or her brother or Sarita or Marta.
Taking in a heaving breath, Pepa hugged herself, curled into a ball. She shut her eyes.
If Silvia were here, she would be worried, Pepa knew. The redhead would strip down and get in and get on her knees beside Pepa, run her fingertips over Pepa to ensure she was physically okay, curl around her and hold her.
She could almost feel Silvia's hands on her, imagine a curtain of red hair separating her from the rest of the world, the soft skin sliding against hers.
Pepa smiled. She could just see Silvia's expression, the way she would be biting her lip just a little, the way she would have that adorable little furrow between her brows, the way she might be fidgeting.
She could imagine how it would feel to have Silvia's hands on her. The way Silvia's fingers would feel as they ghosted over her. The way she would smell. The way her breath would play over Pepa's neck.
Pepa's breath caught.
Somehow, her own hands had drifted between her legs without her noticing it.
She uncoiled slightly. She touched herself gently.
Her breathing quickened. Her nipples tightened.
This was a bad idea, so bad, she knew. She would wake up in the morning and miss Silvia all the more.
But she could not resist the lure of her redhead.
She shut her eyes as she imagined Silvia there, with her, sped up her hand. Silvia knew her body so well, would know exactly what Pepa needed, how she needed it, would know to touch Pepa just like this .
Her fingers on Pepa .
Her tongue .
Her skin .
She imagined. Touched herself harder, faster. Panted. Her hips jerked in a rhythm. Her thighs tightened.
Pepa groaned in frustration. She was close, so close, but she couldn'tthere was something missing. A short redhead who snorted a lot, and she almost wanted to laugh but there was nothing funny about this. It was almost starting to hurt.
Blindly, she reached around her neck. Felt the chain that Silvia had given her, that she never took off.
She held it hard. Raised it to her lips, kissed it, desperately mouthed it.
She swore she could taste Silvia on it.
She came hard, with a groan, and her head snapped back and she hit it against the back of the tub so hard she saw bright colors, and not in a good way.
She lay there for several moments. Recovering herself, after moving all her fingers and toes and determining that they worked, she had to chuckle helplessly.
Life was never dull around her redhead.
As had become routine, Pepa went and dug out the picture of herself and Silvia at the beach, and got into bed cradling it in her hands. She flicked off the light and held it just above her heart.
It was ridiculous and corny and dammit, Pepa had never been this person before. She used to be able to go days without thinking of Marta. Better that way; safer. Deep down, and in a way she hated herself for, she resented Silvia.
She used to be able to do this before she reconnected with Silvia. She used to be okay, before Silvia had come back to her.
Silvia was worth it.
Two weeks ago, she had finally admitted that she could not sleep without the picture next to her. (And really, how embarrassing was that? It was so not her. Pepa had thrown away all her stuffed animals at the age of fourteen in a fit of pique. She had never bought any ever again, unless the plush puppy she bought for Silvia after a perp had given her girlfriend a black eye counted .)
Now she slept with the picture every night. Maybe it was absurd, but she felt always felt better when she settled down for bed, and tonight was no exception. She would make her excuses to El Diablo; she would hunt down Álvaro and Miguel.
She would be okay.
Week 7, Day 7
Silvia shut her phone, sighed in relief. She dropped her head into her hands, taking deep, shuddering breaths as she tried to get a grip on herself.
Pepa was alright, at least for the moment.
Apparently a police informant had seen Pepa just a few days ago. Rocio could not tell her who it was, what contact she or he had with Pepa, any of the details. Silvia suspected she barely knew any herself.
But that did not matter.
Pepa was alive and okay (if a bit skinny and stressed).
She started to shake.
Was this what the rest of her life was going to be? She had been a wreck these last two months, knew she had been sleepwalking through her life. She woke up only at the precinct. Her job had not been affectedyet. It was a refuge, actually; in the lab, she could lose herself in samples and analyses, could forget about the gaping hole in her life.
At least until she found herself wondering when Pepa was going to stop by and distract her.
But she was not blind to the way her father looked at her and assigned her easy crime scenes, the way Paco and Lola were now inviting her over for dinner almost every night. Montoya, too, was shadowing her; she swore that he was somehow in Cachi's every time she walked in. (She thinks she has a good idea, now, of what Pepa had whispered to Montoya before she left.) Everyone looked at her like she was fragile, like she was going to break if they spoke too loudly to her. It was irritating. It was maddening.
And it was probably fair. If Silvia had not been determined to do Pepa proud, to be strong for her girlfriend, she would probably be falling apart just about now.
But Pepa was alive and well. Silvia hoped she was eating her vegetables; she needed healthy food to keep meat on her bones.
When Pepa got back, Silvia was going to treat her to a day at the spa. Or spend a day in bed with her. Or force feed her Lola's best dishes. Or something.
Because she was going to make it back. Because Pepa was okay.
She glanced at her keys, got up, and threw together a simple overnight bag.
Opening the door to Pepa's apartment, Silvia smiled, as always, when she looked over and saw the note above the mantel. She watered the plants, flipped on the lights, turned on the lamp above the African violets.
That done, she wandered into Pepa's room. She had not been in there in a few days. She knew her father had begun to be worried about the fact that she had all but moved into Pepa's apartment, and had consciously scaled her time in Pepa's apartment back.
She had found that it was easier to get through the day that way, too.
She pulled her shirt off, slipped on an old button-down of Pepa's, grabbed Pepa's pillow and the stuffed dog that Pepa had bought for her (and that Silvia had insisted would live in Pepa's apartment; despite Pepa's fervent protests, there were a handful of times Silvia had awoken before her girlfriend and seen Pepa snuggling into the puppy with a smile on her face, and it was the most precious thing she had ever seen). She settled down to watch some TV.
On the futon.
She had to smile. She loved this piece of junk.
"Silvia, que vengas!"
Silvia opened her eyes, shivered as the shadow fell across her. Pepa was standing between her and the sun. It created a halo around her girlfriendone that Silvia had to smile upon seeingbut it meant she could not see the look on Pepa's face.
Though Silvia probably did not need to, as Pepa's tone meant Trouble.
She shot Pepa a suspicious look. "Where?"
She could make out a bright flash of white teeth; Pepa was grinning. "Come here," her girlfriend (and how weird was that to say, even in her own head) repeated, and thrust out a hand.
She dripped onto Silvia's stomach.
Still suspicious, Silvia accepted the hand, let Pepa tug her to her feet. "This way," Pepa said, and led her to the edge of the surf, in until they were up to almost their knees. "Look, there," Pepa had said, pointing. Intriguedshe had briefly considered marine biology in collegeSilvia had leaned over and looked.
And had suddenly been choking down a mouthful of salt water as Pepa shoved her into the surf.
She surfaced, coughing, spluttering in rage.
At the edge of the shore, Pepa was laughing so hard she was crying.
"PEPA!" she had roared. Pepa had looked up with tears in her eyes and still, infuriatingly, Silvia felt her heart beat faster.
"Lo siento, lo siento, pelirroja!" Pepa held up her hands as Silvia, dripping and furious, put her hands on her hips and glared. Pepa mastered her chuckles as best she could, nodded seriously. Silvia was not fooled. She arched an eyebrow.
Pepa stuck her lower lip out, sashayed into the water, till she was an arm's length from Silvia. "Lo siento, princesa. You were just too easy." She almost broke out into laughter again, and Silvia felt herself soften.
She was still annoyed, though, and she crossed her arms. "Did you have anything to show me or did you just want to get me wet?"
Pepa opened her mouth, shut it, looked at her, bit her lip, let a snicker escape, and then they were both doubled over laughing for a long, long time. Finally, their laughs petered out.
"Come here, princesa," and Pepa had to snort at the look on Silvia's face as Silvia backed up a few steps. "No, really. Come here," and she sank into a crouch in the surf, water up to her belly, plunging her hand below the waves. Intrigued now, Silvia settled down by Pepa, leaning into her subtly.
"Here," and Pepa lifted her hands. Silvia had to smile. Pepa was holding several beautiful sea shells.
"There's more still under there," Pepa told her, and Silvia reached down, around the slimy sand, and felt the fragile shells. She gathered them up, admiring the pretty colors.
"Pepa, they're beautiful," Silvia said with a smile in her voice. "But they warranted getting me up and all wet?"
Pepa shrugged, looked away. "They reminded me of that time we went to the beach when we were kids," she said bashfully, and Silvia blinked.
She remembered that day. Little Sara's first trip to the beach, and the pride on Paco and Lola's faces had been so evident. She remembered Pepa, surly (Pepa had always been surly then), but there, and the way Pepa had slowly brightened as the day went on, and how after lunch they had ranged away from their siblings, wandered the beach hand-in-hand.
She remembered picking up a beautiful shell, and being entranced, and Pepa whispering 'I'll make you a necklace of shells, Silvia.' They had stared at each other. It was sunset, and Silvia had felt something that she only recently fully understood as she had gazed into her 'cousin's' eyes.
She remembered the way they had huddled together that night for warmth around the fire, the way Pepa had given Silvia her sweatshirt even though Pepa was obviously shivering herself. She remembered sitting between Pepa's legs, leaning back and resting against the other teenager.
She remembered falling asleep on Pepa's shoulder in the car ride home.
She looked at Pepa; met her stare. Pepa had the same look in her eyes now that she had had all those years ago, and again, Silvia marveled about what had started between them then, what was still happening now. "I'll still make you that necklace," Pepa said, and Silvia caressed her cheek.
"I don't need it anymore," she whispered. That spark flared between them, and Pepa drew Silvia's face toward her, shutting her eyes
and shrieked as Silvia shoved a handful of wet sand in her mouth. She spat frantically into the water, washed her mouth out several times, and it was Silvia's turn to laugh hysterically.
But then Pepa's mouth was clean, and her eyes were flashing, and Silvia had not gotten far enough away, and she had Silvia in a death grip.
"Pepa!" Silvia shrieked, and was laughing, and Pepa hauled her off her feet and backed up until the water was almost at their waists, and they were wrestling, awkwardly, laughing and smiling, and she knew people must have been staring but she did not care, she just did not care right now. Finally Pepa won, and she threw Silvia into the deeper water, and dove after her girlfriend. They wrestled in the deep water for God, it must have been an hour, before they tired and trudged toward the shore. Pepa, beaming, took her hand and Silvia let her. She did not fight the quiet smile overtaking her own face.
When the water was at their knees, Pepa stopped, tugged Silvia around. She looked at Silvia. There was so much to say, so much they wanted to say, but their relationship was new, so new, they both knew it could not stand up under the weight of such declarations. Not yet.
But it was in both their eyes.
Pepa shut hers, leaned down. Silvia put her hand across Pepa's mouth, whispered in her ear.
"Not until you've brushed your teeth," Silvia said, and shrieked as Pepa's eyes flew open and she heaved Silvia into the water once again.
A loud noise.
Silvia started up, and for a brief moment she did not understand why she was not surrounded by salt water. Shaking her head to clear it, she glanced at her watch and groaned, grabbed the remote and switched the TV off. She stretched, flipped the lights, headed to the bedroom.
It was way, way too late. She had fallen asleep on Pepa's couch, watching TV. Yawning, curling up in Pepa's bed and around the puppy, she wondered what had happened to the picture that sweet older woman had taken of them.
She fell asleep with a smile on her face.
To Be Continued
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