Sugarhell: Moonchild10's Fanfiction

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Bitter Season chapter 3
Soubi and Ritsuka
moonchild10 wrote in sugarhell
Title: Bitter Season
Fandom: Silent Hill 2
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: James/Maria
Summary: Maria receives a letter from James... a letter that he doesn't remember writing. Desperate for answers, James is willing to chase the truth, even if it means losing his last real connection to who he is.

The song Maria is singing is this one XD it's my addiction. I promised my little sister I'd use it in this fic at some point.

There was a long period that stretched farther than the black hills around them during which James did not speak to Maria. She seemed to take the hint and only spoke to give him directions, and all in all the trip was becoming increasingly uncomfortable.

“Oh, come on James,” Maria said at length with a soft sigh. “Giving me the silent treatment, are we?”

James glanced over at her and saw that she was reading the letter again. She had it spread out in her lap. “Put that somewhere safe,” he told her, ignoring her previous statement.

“So he can still talk,” she said with a wry smile. “Don’t worry about this old letter, James. I’m not going to let anything happen to it, since it’s so damn important to you, for some reason,” as she spoke she was folding the letter, and she opened her bomber jacket and slid the piece of paper into the interior pocket, zipping it. “There. Nothing is going to happen to it now. So stop worrying about it.”

“I’m not worrying about it,” James insisted, and Maria laughed.

“Yes you are,” she muttered. “Why is it that every time there’s something else to focus your attention on, you put it before me? First Mary, now this stupid letter.”

“Why are you acting so jealous?” James asked, confused. Maria’s behavior rarely made any sense to him but today this seemed to be taken to the extreme.

“Because I’m supposed to be yours,” she said plainly, as though it was the most obvious thing in the world. “You said you wanted me. You said you wanted me with you. Why would you say that if you didn’t mean it?”

“I… I did mean it…” bewildered, James wondered if he should stop the car. It wasn’t entirely clear to him whether Maria was serious or not. He could still feel her eyes boring into him and he happened to glance sideways to see that she was smiling.

“I’m just kidding, James,” she told him playfully. “You’re so easy to tease. Did you know that?” James really had nothing to say to this and he ignored her for a moment. Maria leaned across the gap between their seats and he could feel her fingers as they began to move through his hair. In a way, it was pleasant, an affectionate little gesture that he had not felt in years. “Did Mary tease you like this, too?”

“Can we not talk about Mary?” James as cautiously, keeping his tone guarded. “I’d rather not talk about her.”

“Why?” Maria sounded amused. “She’s your wife, after all.”

“She was my wife,” James corrected her, and he swore the ring on his finger burned. “But that was before.” slowly, he was beginning to feel as though he was cutting the ties to his past, and Maria seemed to be helping in her own often hurtful way.

“And now you have me, right?” she still sounded amused, as though she didn’t really believe it. “But what I want to know is, am I just a replacement? When you’re fucking me, will you really just be fucking Mary in your head, James?” her tone was odd, innocence layered with accusation. There was that anger again and this time James simply slammed on the breaks, not bothering to move to the shoulder.

“Stop it, Maria,” he told her. “Stop it right now.”

“Why?” she asked, red red lips curved upward in a smile that told him quite plainly she knew all his fears, his doubts and insecurities. “Because it’s true, or because you’re afraid of it not being true?”

“Just stop,” suddenly, James was very tired. He rubbed a hand over his eyes. “It’s not true. You know it’s not true, Maria. I told you before, I have you now. I told you it was all that mattered. There’s no point to any of this at all.”

“So do you love me, then?” Maria asked, and the air in the car seemed to thicken. The silence stretched long and dead and she humphed. “I didn’t think so.”

“It’s not like that, Maria,” James told her helplessly. Maria’s eyes were turned away from him, far far away. All at once recognition flashed across her features and she turned back to him, seeming to have forgotten about the topic at hand. James was relieved.

“Good timing stopping the car, James,” she said, stretching leisurely. The sign before them said Shepherd’s Glen, 1 mile and James was struck with a little tremor at the fact that it was Mary’s hometown. An eerie coldness was filling the car and James quickly pressed the gas. There were far too many coincidences here, too many details that overlapped. It was beginning to chill him. Maria was uncommonly silent on that last stretch of foggy road and James was grateful for it. He didn’t want any more of her probing comments are disturbing insight into what made him tick. Already his head was throbbing.

After five minutes of silence, Maria leaned forward and switched on the radio, turning the dial around at random until she found something satisfactory and then sat back. “I met this little girlie, her hair was kinda curly. Went to her house and bust her out, I had to leave real early…” she sang along with the radio, and James sighed and rubbed his temple with one hand.

“Maria, could you shut that off? I have a headache.”

“It's tricky to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme that's right on time. It's tricky...tricky tricky tricky…”

James leaned forward and turned the radio off, and Maria sat back in her seat, sighing.

“You’re no fun, James,” she told him, staring out the window. James thought she was being incredibly juvenile but said nothing. He knew he was on thin ice with her already, and didn’t want to make things even more uncomfortable. Making the turn from highway 90 to Shepherd’s Glen made the hair stand up on the back of his neck. There was the most uncomfortable feeling on the air, as though something was lying dormant in the town, waiting for him.

Shepherd’s Glen was a relatively small town and it wasn’t long before Maria was pointing out a small house across from a tackle and bait store. James got out of the car with her, and tried not to glance out toward Toluca Lake. It was impossible not to notice the rising rooftop of the Lakeview Hotel on the other side. This close proximity to Silent Hill jarred something inside James, something primal and wrong. It was impossible to explain and James was relieved that he was the only one conscious of it. He watched Maria digging her ring of keys out of her pocket calmly, barely conscious of the cold wind that bit at his cheeks.

“James…” the whisper was sudden and warm against the back of his neck and he whirled around with a hand clapped there, glancing wildly around for the source. He saw nothing but parked cars, houses with doors locked tight against the cold, and a fat orange cat lumbering toward a front porch. Shaking off the momentary terror, James turned back to find Maria watching him curiously, now holding her keys.

“What’s wrong?” she asked him gently.

“Nothing. I thought I heard…”

“Heard what, James?”

“Nothing. The wind, really,” he replied halfheartedly, not wanting to utter the name that was on the edge of his tongue. Because Mary was dead. Dead people don’t whisper in people’s ears.

“Come on, James,” Maria said, jarring him back to the real world. She jingled her keys at him. “Let’s go inside and find your precious envelope, huh?” she was smiling brightly at him and it was almost unfair how carefree she seemed when the looming presence of that terrible town was so very near.

“Okay,” James agreed numbly, following her up the peeling wooden steps. The house needed a new coat of paint and there was dust on the window boxes. James took all this in while Maria slid her key into the lock, attempted to turn it, and cursed.

“My keys hate me today,” she muttered. “Maybe I got them mixed up…” she tried the other key to no avail and sighed. “Dammit, why isn’t this working?”

“Could it have something to do with that?” James asked, pointing to the sheet of paper taped to the door. Maria snatched it and her eyes darted over the lines of print with surprising speed.

“I’ve been evicted,” she hissed when she finally lowered it. “My possessions have been moved into storage and I’ll have to pay the full cost of storing them.”

“Why would you get evicted?” James wondered out loud.

“Apparently, I haven’t paid my rent,” Maria said with a deep frown. “I had autopay set up… it must be the bank’s fault. I’ll call them… clear it up later.” she turned to James, hands in her pockets, and looked uncharacteristically small and helpless. “Sorry, James. I guess we’re not getting that envelope.”

James’ soul fell just a little. With the hope of getting into that house lost, his hope for discovering the answer to where in the world the letter had come from was lost as well. It was a question that had not stopped burrowing into his brain since the moment Maria had first mentioned it, and now it seemed they were at a dead end.

“Can I see the letter again?” he asked, and Maria nodded, reaching into her jacket and unzipping the inner pocket. After a moment of feeling around, she looked up at him, obviously bewildered.

“I can’t find it.”

“What do you mean, you can’t find it?” James asked, panic rising in his throat.

“I mean it isn’t there,” Maria told him, slightly haughty. “It’s not where I left it.”

“It has to be,” James told her. “Check again.”

“It’s not there, James,” Maria said firmly, digging through her pocket again. “And there’s no hole, either, so it couldn’t have just fallen out.”

“Letters don’t just disappear,” James argued.

“And letters don’t just send themselves,” Maria reminded him. “It wouldn’t be the first thing we can’t explain.”

“But that letter…” James muttered.

“Forget the letter,” Maria said indignantly. “It’s time to think about more important things. Like the fact that I don’t have a home anymore.” she moved a bit closer to him and James was conscious of the way she was looking at him with those eyes, those impossibly wintry blue eyes. “James, you said you wanted me with you, right? Will you let me stay with you? At least just… until I can get this sorted out?”

“Of course,” James replied. It was the least he could do, really, after pulling her along on a wild goose chase and constantly making her feel second to a woman who was dead. He was very conscious of the fact that she deserved better. Making the decision to be with her, more or less, should have come with more changes on his part than it had. Even now he could feel himself drawing back into himself, withholding a part of himself as she pressed her forehead to his chest.

“Thanks,” she cooed, her voice its usual seductive purr again now that she was no longer distressed. “Mm, you smell nice, James.”

James stepped back a little, holding her at arm’s length, and looked at her without really seeing her. “We should get going.”

“Not so fast,” Maria’s lip twitched a bit in amusement as she stepped close again and enclosed her thin arms around his waist. “Don’t I even get to show you my gratitude?”

“Here?” James asked, surprised, and Maria laughed.

“Such a dirty boy,” she teased, raking her left hand’s bubblegum pink painted nails gently down his cheek. “Get your mind out of the gutter, James. I don’t mean that.” she pressed just a little closer and James was a bit ashamed that he wanted to recoil. That wedding ring on his finger… it bit down on him, he swore. “I do like to do other things, you know,” she shifted herself upward and pecked him on the lips. James was suddenly very conscious of the scent of her perfume. It didn’t smell cheap.

“Maria…” James began, but Maria pressed a finger to his lips.

“Stop it,” she said. “You’re not nearly as cute when you talk,” she replaced her finger with her lips and her warmth created a barrier against the cold on his front. James wanted to pull away and he hated her all over again, in the meanest, most twisted way, but hate dulled itself when he realized it was misplaced hate. In reality, he only hated himself. He had let Mary die, and now Maria was reminding him of a time before that fateful night. It was a wonderful sensation he couldn’t forgive her for.

James tried to extract himself from the embrace but Maria was too busy kissing him to allow it. She smiled just a little when he managed to pull away for a moment, and the flashing of her eyes reminded him all over again that she was certainly not Mary.

“Stop fighting so much,” she purred. “I know you like it, James.”

In the cold, windy street James experimentally held her and he found it not painful, nothing like holding Mary, so there was nothing to tie it to traumatic memories. It was harder and harder to think of Mary when Maria was kissing him, and somehow he allowed himself to give in to her for the second time in one day, though this time she broke it off before the evidence of his yearning could show itself.

“There, was that so bad?” she asked, smiling at him. “Next time, just go with it, alright? It’s easier for both of us that way. Now let’s go. I want to get out of here. I want to go back to your place.”

“Okay,” somehow, though their quest had turned up empty James felt significantly more agreeable than he had when they had arrived in Shepherd’s Glen, and he followed her down the front walk toward the car. Before getting in Maria opened her mailbox.

“I might as well get my mail,” she said offhandedly, reaching inside. There was only one thing in the mailbox, and as she held the simple white envelope in her hands, they began to tremble.

“Maria? What is it?”

“It’s another from you,” she replied. “And I’m guessing you didn’t send it?”

“No,” James assured her, watching as she slid a manicured nail under the flap and tore it open, drawing out the letter. She unfolded it with shaky hands.

“It’s another short one,” she informed him. “It says ‘Maria, I’ll be waiting for you in Heaven’s Night, James‘.” slowly, her eyes came up to meet his and the change of plans passed between them without words. They didn’t need to say it. They both knew what was going to happen next.

James put the car in drive and slowly, reluctantly, he guided it down the road that would take them around Toluca Lake, back to that shadowy and foreboding place he had hoped he could put from his mind forever. Increasingly, he was beginning to see that once one has been to Silent Hill, they never really leave. With Maria beside him he resolved himself to be prepared for whatever was going to happen next.

The ring on his finger burned more than ever.

Chapter Four


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