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I wouldn't normally post several versions of the same story here; I'd eventually make up my mind about whether I want to use this edit or that. But the thing with Through the Looking Glass is, I can't decide which one of these versions is the "right" one. They both feel right in a different way, and when I posted the earlier one, I kept feeling that this one was just as right and should not have been put aside. Eventually, when I let ladyofpride read this second version, she urged me to post it as well, and I've decided to do it now.

Most of it is the same (though there might be an occasional word difference because I edited these versions at different times). The main difference is near the end - the last couple of pages, the seven last paragraphs or so. But it was interesting how much of a difference it seemed to make in characterisation. So I'm posting this alternate take here, for two reasons: to allow a story which feels just as right to me to also be read, and to show that sex does, in fact, tell a great deal about character. Writing sex scenes is not necessarily just because some of us are wicked and love porn; it's also because those scenes really can tell a great deal about the character.

Title: Through the Looking Glass (version 2)
Author: Valancy
Fandom: Tanz der Vampire
Characters: Alfred, White Vampire
Rating: R/Mature


Through the Looking Glass (version 2)


Alfred runs in a maze of mirrors. He doesn't know for sure how he got there. One wrong turn, somewhere, and suddenly all is gone…

He sees frightening shapes in the glasses, and when he turns to look again, they're gone. Or he sees an exit but it's only another mirror. Somewhere, von Krolock's laughter echoes, but it's probably only in his memory. He is afraid.

Once he thinks he sees Sarah reflected in the glass. But when he turns to look the other way, to find her, he sees Herbert instead, advancing. He runs away, faster.

Finally there is a mirror where he only sees himself. He stops, breathes, relieved.
He must think. There must be a way to get out of this maze of horrors, get back into the regular rooms and corridors of the castle, or perhaps out into the yard. He must find the Professor, who was looking for the battlements, and they must save Sarah…

Then he realizes something. His mirror image is holding a book.

He looks into his own hands. They're empty.

He looks back up. His mirror image is looking at him curiously.

"Who are you?" he asks.

"I am you," says the mirror image.

"Mirror images don't talk."

"Of course they do. I am you, and you talk."

It looks like him - almost. There is something that's a little different, now that he looks more closely. The gaze in the blue eyes is a little sharper than he is used to seeing. The eyes have seen something he has not. There is an unfamiliar twist at the corner of the mouth, something stronger and steadier about the slender body. Or is it only the change brought by the castle? Maybe he looks like that and just hasn't seen himself? But are his eyes supposed to be blue?

"I am going crazy," he murmurs.

"Oh, no. But you do need to learn what's in this book."

"I need to get out of here."

"You need to know the book."

"What's in it?"

"The answers. The ones you are looking for."

If the book exists in the mirror, yet not in the reality, what is it? Vampires exist in reality but are not seen in the mirror. So the book must be something opposite to the vampires. He reaches for it, but meets cold glass.

"Not like that. You must come here."

Two Alfreds, one on this side of the mirror, one on the other. Are they the same? If they are not, which one of them is real? Or are they both? His head swims, he remembers the Professor's dry voice reading out pages from a book, notes complete with references, he doesn't remember if it was Alibori's or Van Helsing's or Abronsius's book, but he remembers words about souls and shadows and mirrors, speculations about worlds here and beyond. He couldn't understand it then, and he doesn't understand what all this means now. He looks into his mirror image's eyes and realizes it doesn't matter. It's not what this is about. Not relevant, the Professor would say. Not here.

"But I must save Sarah," he still protests.

"I know. But you must come here. It's the only way."

"Can you show me the way out?"

"I can. And many other things that you need to know. It's the only way you can get out of here. It's the only way you can find Sarah. It's what you both need."

He still watches his mirror image, afraid. What if this is another one of the Count's tricks and spells?

"I know you're scared. But you'll never find your way out of here alone. You need me, and you must come to me for help." When he is silent, the mirror image continues: "I know you're afraid, but look at me, I am you."

He looks, and he knows it's him. Different, but him.

"I am you. Who else could you trust, if not yourself?"

"You know, I don't tend to trust myself."

His mirror image smiles, knowing. "That's true. But you must, for once. How else will you be able to save Sarah?"

It is true.

"And you cannot trust anyone else. Who would you trust? The Professor? You know already that he doesn't understand what it's all about."

Alfred bows his head. He knows.

"And Sarah? She's enamored of the Count and his promises. The Count wants to trick you for his own purposes. All you've got is me. All either of us has is each other."

"If I only have myself to trust, then it's really frightening," Alfred whispers.

"I know." He sees in the mirror image's eyes that he understands. "But I know more than you do. And I have the book." The mirror image holds out the book.

He takes a deep breath and reaches with his hand again, but it meets the cold glass once more.
"What do I have to do?"

A smile flickers in the mirror image's eyes as he says: "Kiss me."

"What?" He takes a step back, reeling.

"Come on. It's just me. I'm you. You have to kiss me. It's the only thing that breaks the spell of the mirror and gets you on this side." When he still doesn't move, the mirror image cocks his head to the side and smiles a little more, warmly, and says: "It's just kissing your reflection. There's nothing strange about it. I bet Sarah does it all the time."

"I don't. And I love Sarah."

"Loving yourself is the first step to loving another," says the mirror image somberly, and waits. "What are you afraid of?"

Alfred could try to answer, but it occurs to him that if the mirror image is him, it knows all his answers already. So he can save himself the pain of acknowledging what he doesn't want to.
Instead, he decides to trust and be fearless for once. He leans ahead and presses his lips against his mirror image's. And instead of cold glass, his lips meet warm, real human lips which respond to the touch of his own, first gently, then with increasing enthusiasm, and he is swept away by the confusing yet sweet sensations that arise all over his body and make his heart beat in agitation. Arms, stronger than he imagined, encircle his waist and pull him close, and he feels himself pass an invisible border as he follows their lead. There is a full real human body against him, he feels warmth and strength, and his head spins a little as the lips on his own exert a stronger pressure. And then the kiss ends and he pulls back, confused and out of breath, and watches the face in front of him, real and unreal, inexplicably beautiful yet almost like his own, and realizes he has just had his first kiss, not with the lovely Sarah but with someone who is almost like him, and still not him.

The mirror image looks intp his eyes and smiles. "There. That was good, wasn't it?"

"Yes," he breathes before he has time to stop himself. The mirror image's smile deepens, and Alfred feels himself blush. The dream image extends his hand towards Alfred's face. Before realizing it, Alfred closes his eyes, and feels the hand softly stroking his face. A real, human hand. Slender and gentle. It traces the contours of his face and caresses his skin more delicately than Sarah's teasing sponge did in that reality so long ago.

"You are real," whispers the mirror image. It makes no sense, Alfred is the one who has just discovered that his mirror image has become real. He opens his eyes and looks straight into the mirror image's. They're not his eyes. There is a different gaze in them, more knowing. Less innocent. Still familiar, but…

"You are not me," he says.

"I am."

"You are not. You are… there. I am here. We can't both be me when you touch me and…" he blushes before he dares to say anything else. "And you are too strong", he goes on. "You are more confident than me and you know things."

"I do," whispers the mirror image. "But they're the things you want to know." A hand caresses his chin ever so slightly, temptingly. "Didn't you pray that God would make you stronger than you are? Braver than you are?"

"And you happened?"

The mirror image leans so close that Alfred can feel his breath on his face. "You can only be strong and brave if you know yourself." And then Alfred feels lips on his own again, warm and alive and touching him so sweetly he didn't know anything could feel that way, it's like when he sees Sarah or thinks about her or… An arm holds him by the waist now, and he discovers his own lips parting slightly to let the kiss in, responding with tentative longing and curiosity. When the mirror image pulls back, Alfred gasps, realizing what has happened. Again.

"What was that?" he asks. The mirror image looks into his eyes, smiling, eyes sparkling with something that makes Alfred's stomach tingle.

"To know." The whisper dies away as the mirror image's lips meet his for the third time. And as Alfred responds more readily and eagerly than before, and as the kiss becomes deeper and more consuming than before, he feels that he is lost already, or is it found? There's a tender hand stroking the back of his neck now, and he presses firmly against a body that is so like his, yet feels different, tantalizingly strong and seductive.

"But I have to find Sarah," he protests when the kiss ends. "I don't have time for this. I…" Another kiss silences him, and he doesn't struggle against it.

"There is no time," whispers the mirror image. "None that matters. Just surrender yourself…"

"To what?"

"To what you've always longed for."

"But I long for Sarah."

The mirror image looks at him, a sharp and knowing look in his eyes, smiles a mysterious smile that makes Alfred realize the other knows much more than he does, and suddenly he realizes.
"It was you," he breathes. "When I dreamed, we were one."

The mirror image - the dream - circles behind him, entwining his arms around Alfred's chest, pressing his head upon Alfred's shoulder. "Yes." Alfred realizes that the other hasn't been holding the book for a while. He wonders where it is. And if it really says anything important. He suddenly doesn't know how anything can be more important than this.

"Then is this a dream?" he asks, his breath catching in his throat and making his voice disappear when the other's hands move just a little on his chest.

"I am real. You are real. I'm inside you and real, and outside you."

"You are not me."

"I am and am not. It doesn't matter. What matters is…" The dream drops a kiss on the back of his neck, and Alfred gasps. "…this. Doesn't that feel good?"

Alfred swallows and is forced to nod. The other's lips press upon his skin again, caressing from atop his collar right up to the roots of his hair, and back again. Alfred shivers, feels a forbidden yet pleasant heat run through his body, and can only lean back to that strong embrace and gentle caress.

"You need to learn," whispers the mirror image. "I need to learn. That's our only way. To survive. The only way that Sarah can still be convinced to hear us instead of him."
"Where is the book? You said I need to have the book."

"We can look at the book in a minute. The book doesn't really matter. I've read it, I know it. I must teach you." He puts one hand on Alfred's cheek, caressing, and turns Alfred's head so that he can reach his lips. Another gentle kiss follows. "Your mouth tastes so good. I like it. Do you like it when I kiss you?"

"Yes," Alfred whispers. "But this… shouldn't… It can't…"

"Better than kissing the sponge, isn't it?" the mirror image interrupts, a touch of mischievousness in his voice.

Alfred blushes, not only from the movement of the hand on his body. "How did you…" Then he stops. Of course the other knows, if he truly is him. He has been there all along when Alfred was shut up in his room in the inn, shyly lifting Sarah's sponge to his lips, to imagine, and so that he would perhaps know how to kiss her if she gave him another opportunity. And yet, it can't be that the other really is him, because why is he there? But the way the mirror image kisses him again just now stops all the thinking and protesting in his brain.

"I like it," he admits when his lips are free again. "But…" His mind seems powerless to form words to its protests, and he is out of breath.

"There are more things than you have dreamed of," the mirror image whispers, and his hands drop down on Alfred's chest again, reaching underneath his coat to the thin white shirt, running up and down to feel the skin underneath the cloth. Alfred feels more hot shivers coursing through him, he feels a burning underneath his shirt and further down below.

"This is wrong," he whispers.

"Why?"

"Because…" His mind races through the various reasons and finds all of them failing.
"One of the first things we have to learn is that not everything is wrong that we've been taught. It feels good, doesn't it? You like it?"

"Yes." He can't lie.

"I like it, too. And does it harm anyone?"

"No."

"Then why would it be wrong?" The hands have reached down to his stomach, caressing up and down painfully slowly, just teasing him, making him wait until they go further…

"Oh -" It's more a gasp than a word that comes out when the hands roam down onto his trousers and brush the part of him that nobody has touched yet, where even his own hands only venture when he is washing himself, and in the darkest parts of blushing night where nobody sees him and only shy fantasies keep him company… The hands now rest on his thighs, but the burning remains.

He is breathing hard. "You… shouldn't…"

"What?" The question sounds so innocent, as if the other really doesn't think there is anything wrong… Is there? Alfred isn't sure. Should there be? The hands on his thighs make little circling movements. Deliciously tingling sensations ripple through him, making his breath and pulse quicken.

"It's not right to… touch yourself…" he stammers stupidly.

The other laughs softly. "Now, you don't believe in that, do you?"

No, he doesn't really, or he has stopped caring when he can enjoy these sensations, and when the other strokes him again, he just dips his head back and sighs.

"Don't you want to learn?" whispers the other. "I do…"

"But you know already." In all this burning of desire, he suddenly remembers.

There is silence, then a quiet chuckle. "You could say that. But I want to learn more. With somebody who is sweet and kind and gentle… Like you." The hands brush there again, and Alfred gasps and sighs more loudly. "If you don't learn from me, it will be worse. Think of Herbert. He won't ask if you want it, and he'll take you." Hands stroke up and down his thighs and hips, and Alfred senses how very close to him the other is. Lips kiss the back of his neck, irresistible. "I won't make you do anything you don't want."

There is no need to, Alfred wants this touch so much already, and it's true, here he can at least feel safe, he knows his other self won't hurt him, knows what he wants and secretly dreams of… Is his secret dream. He yields to yet another kiss, and when the hands venture boldly down to the forbidden territories again, he moans into the mouth pressed against his own, and presses his hips against the touch. All of him burns with it. As the other continues with the touching and the kissing, Alfred lifts one hand to stroke the other's hair and the back of his neck, and enjoys it when he gets happy sighs and moans as a reply.

He imagines what it would be like if Sarah touched him like this, or if he had her at his arms like this and could run his hand over her soft and delicate body and hear her sigh and moan like he sighs and moans now… Or maybe it's the mirror image telling him to imagine that, he doesn't know anymore what are his thoughts and fantasies, what the other's. It doesn't matter. They are the same, aren't they? Or close enough.

He turns, facing the other and pressing tightly against his body to feel. Their mouths meet again, and he gives in to the surges of desire arising from the kiss, the closeness. His coat falls on the ground behind them. And then the mirror image bends down to his neck. Alfred allows those tinglingly sweet kisses, allows the other to caress his soft skin more boldly with his tongue, allows removing his bowtie to expose more skin to the other's mouth… Then, as lips and tongue caress the base of his throat, fanning the flames of desire, he remembers more.

"He bit you," he whispers. "You are one of them."

"He bit you," replies the mirror image. "And are you one of them?" Alfred doesn't know anymore, he thinks he isn't but he can't be sure of anything anymore, and he hears how hot and ragged the other's breath is and how eagerly his hands explore… Is it because of desire for his body, or for a deeper, more lethal thirst for his blood? Searching hands send another surge of desire at the same time as teeth pressing against his neck make him fear. He suddenly wonders if there's a reason why Sarah doesn't want to leave the castle.

He isn't sure if the teeth are sharper than they should be, but they aren't biting through the skin, only pressing softly onto it, and he finds himself holding more tightly onto the other though he should try to escape. But where to? He is in a mirror. He can't see anything except the two of them.

"Don't be afraid," whispers the mirror image. "I wouldn't do anything to you that you wouldn't want."

"But if you think you're me, how can I know what you think I wouldn't want?"

"If you can't trust yourself, then whom?"

That's such an absurd question that Alfred lets himself be laid on the ground and allows the other to straddle him and start undoing his braces, then his shirt. Alfred discovers that the mirror image's bowtie and braces are also missing now, and when Alfred is shirtless, so is the mirror image, though Alfred doesn't remember undressing him. The bareness looks enticing, he reaches up and strokes that skin, knowing that he isn't touching himself, he is not that strong, not that alluring. But he doesn't care anymore, just touching means so much, and when the other shifts his position on Alfred's hips, the pressure shoots a wave of heat through him that burns objections away. Alfred feels hand stroke his chest, mirroring the movements of his own, exploring boldly. He imagines what it would be like if Sarah touched him like this. Then he doesn't want to imagine anything at all. He just wants to feel.

The mirror image lays down on him, Alfred feels bare skin against his own, mouth on his mouth, then mouth on his neck, making him arch back his head and moan. The other seems to know - of course he does - exactly what are the sensitive spots on his skin, what makes him want and desire so much it's almost maddening. Alfred wonders how the other knows it so well when even he doesn't know it. But he doesn't care. He wants to surrender to this pleasure.
"We were one," whispers the mirror image. "We were meant to be one. I will make us one." Their hips are pressed together in a way that makes Alfred writhe in pleasure, and the other responds by pinning down his wrists and pressing harder on his hips. Alfred gasps.

He lets his arms twine around the other's back and search the skin there, go further down and see what kind of touching makes the other twist his hips even more deliciously, and bite his teeth just a little against Alfred's skin, not painfully, only sweetly. He feels that warm, strong, slender body underneath his hands and revels. It is his dream, so it's as beautiful as his dreams, as beautiful even as Sarah… For she is a dream, too, isn't she? So he isn't even untrue to her by surrendering to what is also his dream, right? And then the other moves his hips just so, and Alfred isn't even thinking anymore, just wanting.

When the mirror image's mouth is exploring his chest, Alfred suddenly asks: "What did it feel like?"

"What?" The other isn't concerned by anything except him, it seems, and it's intoxicating. Alfred even regrets asking. He doesn't want the other to think about anything but him. How sweet it is that for once, someone thinks only about him…

But he asked, so he must continue. "When he bit you." After a quiet pause he adds: "When he… took you."

"You already know," whispers the other, and sits up again to straddle him. First Alfred fears he has made the other angry, but then he begins to undo Alfred's trousers, and it feels very nice the way his hands sometimes brush there.

"I don't remember much," he says in between heavy breaths. "Just that it was… terrifying, and yet…"

"And yet. " The other pauses to lean back and kiss him on the mouth again. He likes it. He hopes there will be still much more kissing. "And yet, when it happened, it was the most sublime thing. Nothing but giving yourself, knowing there was no alternative… It's sweeter when there's no alternative, isn't it? Because then you're never truly giving up."

"That's a twisted way to think it."

"Is it?"

"It's not… logical."

"No, here you don't need to be logical." The mirror image chuckles, and looks at him with a deliciously wicked light in his eyes. "Isn't that nice?"

Alfred has to admit that it is. He's tired of the Professor always telling him to be logical when there's so much else to the world than logic. And he doesn't want to think about the Professor and logic when he's in a situation like this, so he closes his eyes and enjoys instead.

"I know it's strange," says the other tenderly. "That's why you're getting it when you want it." The mirror image caresses him, and Alfred moans. "You want that, don't you?"

"Yes," Alfred whispers. "I want it… I want you… very much."

"That's good, my sweet." And suddenly both of them are naked, and the other presses down on him again and kisses him so fully on the mouth, and Alfred has never felt another's bare body on himself and it feels so strange and hot and intoxicating, he is afraid and curious and full of wanting. He forgets to even notice that when the other kisses his throat again, the teeth pressing against his delicate skin are sharper than before.

"We were made to be one," whispers the mirror image again. "I will make us one again."

And he feels the other's touch, tempting and stroking him. He can't think anymore, he is overcome by the lovely sensations of pleasure rising and pulsing through him. His own hands wander on the other's body, touching, wondering. Their mouths seek and find each other, his touch makes the other sigh with pleasure, the feel of the other's body and warmth makes him shudder. Every moment is exquisite, he lives for nothing but this, he thinks of nothing else, is nothing else.

And the other gently guides Alfred to bring equal pleasure to him, and it's so lovely to see that blissful expression on his face, to hear breathless tender words and pleas for his touch, to wonder at how much enjoyment the closeness of his body and his inexpert but eager caresses can bring to the other. Finally they explode together into white-hot pleasure that seems to claim their bodies and souls and twist their beings into one as sensations take them over and melt together. Alfred has never felt anything so sweet, it makes him feel life was worth it just to get to this one moment, that anything would be worth it, and he moans incoherent words as his body twists against the other's in their frenzy of pleasure.

He doesn't know how much more time passes before he rests there again, chest rising and falling rapidly with his heated breath, lovely glow diffusing all over him, all of his body and soul perfectly at peace, happy, and knowing that the other is as blissful as he is.

The other's mouth claims his once again, sweetly and softly. Alfred holds his body against his own, sighs with perfect contentment to feel that skin against his, to caress the other as he sinks down in satisfaction and kisses his mouth with tenderness and a lazy, sated lust.

"Do you feel it? Now every wall has been broken, now we are one," whispers the mirror image in his ear, and Alfred nods. He sees the forgotten book lying down next to them, but the mirror image turns his head back so they face each other. "You don't need it anymore. Now you know."

"Thank you," Alfred mutters and kisses him many times. He feels unbelievably happy and complete.
And truly they are so much one that when the mirror image's fangs sink into his neck, he doesn't even cry out. He feels the sudden pain and the terrifying pleasure, and the delicious taste of blood as the other drinks his fill from him, sucking him into darkness until he can see no more, feel no more, only float and disappear.

****

When Alfred wakes up again, he doesn't know who he is.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
love_michiyuki
Mar. 11th, 2012 04:32 pm (UTC)
Wow, I didn't think it was possible, but I actually somehow like this version even more than the one you posted before!
Even though there's only been a few changes, they sure have made a world of differences to me.

This White seems even more gentle than the one from before. Lovely, lovely characterization!
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )