585 words. Aileen/Ellie. Toni, hope I've not massacred your girl too badly. <3
Ellie sang to Aileen, when she had her nightmares.
(It wasn't every night, or even every week, but when they did come they came on strong and lasted for a long time, and there was nothing to do but wait until they'd passed, hold her close through her fitful sleep and stroke back her sweaty hair, untangle her nightdress from her thrashing legs, and kiss the tears from her cheeks when she snapped awake and broke down in that half-minute before she remembered who and where she was, and that she wasn't allowed to cry.)
"Why won't you tell me?" she whispered one time.
Aileen scrubbed angrily at her face with her sleeve. "There's nothing to tell."
(She dreamed about McCormack, when she dreamed. His death, sometimes. She'd not expected the act of ramming a knife into a man's heart to be so difficult. Maybe she should have used a blade that wasn't blunt. He'd woken up screaming when the dull tip broke through his skin and smashed against his breastbone, and begged for his life like a starving dog begging for food scraps. Cutting throats was much easier, she'd found. Even with a blunt knife that ripped the skin open in ugly ragged flaps, rather than slicing it cleanly. She dreamed with every one of her senses when she dreamed. The other McCormack was always there somewhere in the background, a room or two away, practicing his trumpet. She was always wearing a white dress in her dream, though she'd been wearing black that night, and his blood covered her body and pooled in her lap as he died and it was so warm. But the dreams that Ellie had to sing away with her soft crooning of illicit lullabyes went farther back than that, to his smile, cruel and beautiful and horrible, and the way she'd distracted herself by trying to turn the random pattern of tiny sweatdrops on his forehead into words that time he held a knife to her throat and fucked her.)
"I don't believe you."
"Will you believe me when I've got my gun down your throat?"
"Don't threaten me. I love you. I'm worried about you."
(She didn't ask any more after that, and she never asked any more why Aileen wouldn't allow music in the apartment, because the one time she'd talked about borrowing Eddie's new Vaughn De Leath record, Aileen's hand had come flying down onto her cheek so fast that it almost didn't hurt. She just held her close when she dreamed, and played with her hair, and pressed her lips gently to the white skin, and sang to her. She wasn't a great singer, not like Aileen was (she didn't know, she'd never heard, but there were so many rumours and stories told about her past, and while they never seemed to agree much at all they all had one thing in common -- Aileen sang sweeter than Ruth Etting and the club guys used to brawl in the streets to get her to work for them), but it didn't matter, it always soothed her, and that was good enough.)
"Don't be. I'm a big girl. I can take care of myself. I don't need you or anybody else to wrap me up like some kind of precious ornamental doll. Okay, sweet?"
Ellie looked at her for a moment, then shrugged and rolled over onto her other side. "Sure," she muttered into the darkness, and Aileen pretended not to be shivering next to her.