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Kissing EQUINOX fills Alice's mouth with the taste of cigarettes, and she doesn't like it, at least not entirely.

She used to hate it. Their first kiss had made Alice nauseous, filled her with the impulse to pull away. She tasted like death. The feeling is still sickly, cold, and bitter. But, like the drug itself, the taste has become addictive, the kiss and what it brings now something that Alice craves. Alice can't say it tastes good, but... it's the taste of EQUINOX, of her love, of what they share. There's no nausea anymore, but there's some lingering distaste. She's not entirely sure if it's just because her palate can't take it or because she's reminded of things like cancer and death.

Given that Alice is thinking about both those things now, it's probably that, actually. A bit of column a and a bit of column b, at least.

All of these things are what is running through Alice's head as she pulls her lips from EQUINOX's, who slumps over in bed, a blush spreading over her face. She has such a cute face, and expressions like these are more fitting on her than the more stoic stuff she usually throws at her. It's not that Alice doesn't like those, but these are the best of all. It's just so perfect, to see her so flushed and full of love. Alice strokes her cheek, and all she can think about is the taste of fucking tobacco on her tongue.

"Hey, EQUINOX?"

"Yeah, Alice?"

Alice's grip on EQUINOX's hand tightens, just a bit, and, in a shaky voice, she says, "I'm really glad I met you." Gone is all the confidence, the loud bluster that usually follows Alice's proclamations. This is small, gentle, shy, and intimate. It's... real. It's probably the realest Alice has ever been with her.

EQUINOX is violently blushing, and she covers her face, looking away. But she sneaks a glance at Alice, who is staring at her lap, hair obscuring her face. Yeah, right, this is EQUINOX's place to respond. "I'm glad I met you too, Alice," she says, embarrassed by the emotion in her voice. It's too much. For a second, she feels like she's going to puke, with all these positive emotions and all this transparency out here. This isn't her comfort zone.

Alice lifts her head, and smiles at EQUINOX. Her eyes are teary. "I really love you," she mumbles, closing her eyes and giving her a wider smile. A tear runs down her cheek. Before EQUINOX has a chance to respond, Alice shoves her face into her chest and wraps her big, muscular arms around her waist. And she cries.

"I love you too," EQUINOX says, bashfully, blushing more intensely as she gently, comfortingly strokes Alice's hair. But these are good tears, right? That may have been the happiest EQUINOX has ever, ever seen Alice. She keeps crying, and she cries hard, with long, wheezing breaths and little, high-pitched gasps. EQUINOX's shirt only gets wetter, and wetter, and wetter. But that's fine. EQUINOX kisses the top of Alice's head.

It only takes a couple of a minutes for Alice's crying to dwindle to a stop, and she sniffles a few times before she just settles herself down. Friday the Thirteenth keeps on playing on the television, forgotten. Crispin Glover has a corkscrew driven into his hand, and then a cleaver into his skull. It's a really good kill. Alice should really be paying attention to this, but, instead, she's... facefirst in EQUINOX's chest. Yeah, that makes sense. Some things just take precedence over the best Friday film (so far).

After a few more minutes, EQUINOX says, softly, "I understand, now. This was your plan all along. Lying down on my chest."

Alice responds with a muffled, "Yes."

"You're a clever one. A brilliant strategist."

Alice’s silhouette blots out everything in the whole world, bowed over EQUINOX with her hands wrapped around her throat, pressing, pressing, pressing. It’s a steadily tightening vise that slowly cuts off her breath, filling EQUINOX’s skull with pressure that nauseates her and forces the world into dizzying motion. EQUINOX, weakly, clutches at her wrists, trying to pry them away, but it’s like trying to bend steel. She looks at her with pleading eyes, but, from here, with the light behind her casting Alice’s face into shadow, she can’t see her reaction. But she can feel it. Tighter.

I’m going to die, EQUINOX thinks to herself, almost uncomprehending. From here, Alice could simply crush her neck in her hands, like a can. Or she could snap it, or she could just keep on wringing her throat until no more air escapes. EQUINOX’s grip weakens. Her eyes flutter, and stay shut a bit longer. She blacks out, only to return to this terrifying reality again when Alice’s nails dig into her neck. She spasms, slowly losing hold of Alice’s arms, and then, losing sight of her.

Just do it.

It’s a silent plea.

And it goes unheard, of course.

“God,” Alice suddenly breathes, and there is no more pressure, no more choking. Suddenly, EQUINOX can breathe. Suddenly, she can shudder and tremble and sob. Her movements mean something again as she’s able to shove herself away from Alice when she reaches out, feeling as if her throat is raw and wet with blood. Minutes pass, and the only sound is sobbing. The next time Alice reaches out, and lifts her into her arms, EQUINOX does not fight. She accepts it, even though all she feels in them is terror.

Alice chews on her thumb, carefully looking over the assortment of expensive jewelry in front of her, thinking like she’s never thought before. Overall, Alice likes to think she’s lived a life full of… interesting experiences, but that of buying an engagement ring is a new one. Each and every relationship prior to EQUINOX had fallen apart, whether quietly or spectacularly, before she could get a ring. A few times, Alice had seriously considered it, but each time, her girlfriend found some excuse to rip her still-beating heart out and crush it. But things with EQUINOX are going pretty good, so Alice doesn’t think that’s on the table this time around.

Her instincts yell at her to buy a flashy, expensive ring, one that would clearly and obviously put a high number on her love, but EQUINOX wouldn’t care. She’s not the materialistic type (at least not that type of materialistic) and has little interest in jewelry, reacting minimally to the various expensive necklaces Alice had bought for her in the past. It’s all part of the learning experience, seeing what sticks with a girl and what doesn’t. When it comes to gifts, EQUINOX prefers clothing (of a few specific styles, nothing flashy) and movies, or, most of all, records. If only their tastes in music matched up better.

Everything EQUINOX likes is so loud and abrasive, and Alice thinks some of the songs would be better described as “noise”. Not that she’d ever voice that. No, Alice has sat through hours of various eardrum destroying cacophonies, because she can’t bring herself to say she doesn’t like the music EQUINOX does. Every once and a while, though, they’re able to listen to some of the good stuff. Thankfully, EQUINOX does seem to enjoy her music. Alice blinks, realizing she’s gone off on some mental tangent, as she stares through the rings on display.

Ah, yes. Money. Alice could certainly buy her something expensive - it’s not like five thousand dollars is all that much to her, after all. But a five or ten or twenty thousand dollar ring wouldn’t endear EQUINOX to her any more than a one thousand dollar one. So there’s no point in wasting her money. She blinks again, staring at the seemingly more or less identical rows of rings. What is she doing? EQUINOX won’t care too much about the specifics, Alice. Just get a pretty one with a nice diamond, idiot. Not everything has to be a federal fucking case. Platinum is perfect, isn’t it? Alice is pretty sure platinum symbolizes something cool in alchemy. Isn’t its symbol a sun and moon? That’s perfect. Beyond perfect.

The bigger issue is figuring out how and when to propose. Alice is really just procrastinating on that, by standing here staring at the rings, pretending to deliberate when really she’s just thinking about how EQUINOX plays her music so fucking loud she’s probably going to end up deaf. Alice closes her eyes, counts to ten, and then says, “Hey, I wanna buy a ring.”

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