Title: my late cousin
Author: Sita Loire
Summary: It's never easy being the cousin of a tragic socialite. Luckily for Astrid, tragic socialites always die, and their cousins can step into the limelight. Rated for mentions of slash, suicide, and female domination.
Warnings: Implications and mentions of slash, suicide, female domination to a very minor extent.
Rating: R
Notes: There might be more of this, there might not be. I have another paragraph but it depends if I can flesh it out. Forgive me for any grammar or spelling mistakes, I was typing with ridiculous speed and haste on Wordpad, which annoyingly has neither wordcount nor spellcheck.

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The weather was unremarkable the day my cousin died. It wasn't hot and it wasn't cold. He wouldn't have liked it. Darren always thought the world should revolve around him, and most of the time, it did. I could almost hear him complaining that it should have rained. He would have used the sulky tone that used to get him everything he wanted.

Everyone turned up for Darren's funeral, but that wasn't much of a surprise. It wasn't that my cousin was particularly special or even a very nice person. It's just that he had real tortured-soul charisma and the kind of smile that was rare and pretty enough to make you want to see it again. Girls and boys alike used to do anything to make Darren smile. Unfortunately the only ones they usually got were from me, giggling at their efforts. It was easy for me to be condescending to his admirers because I had the good fortune of knowing him since we were both towheaded and unsteady on our feet. He would smile at me when he wouldn't for anyone else, and they were too blinded by the flash of his teeth to notice the elements of sympathy and falseness it posessed.

Those elements disappeared entirely once, and they stayed away for almost a full year. That was when Darren met the "girl of his dreams." The girl of my cousin's dreams was, in actuality, a boy, and not by a long shot the first one who had driven him to make this statement. He was, however, the first one who made my cousin drop all his inhibitions and really be himself for the first time in over a decade. I had never known Darren to act his age, but suddenly he seemed a proper boy of eighteen.It made me happy to see him so... normal.

He stopped dying his hair and let the matte black strands turn shiny and flaxen again. He smiled more and more, and even got rid of his dark contacts and started flashing blue eyes at me again. He got to look so much younger and more carefree that for the first time in years he was asked for ID. I giggled and said that now that he was in love, he was going to live forever.

Eight months later, he was dead.

His suicide was gruseome to read of; an unheard of combination of slit wrists, arsenic, and overdosing. It was rumored that his suicide note described a grande finale of hanging himself that had been thwarted by his hesitance to force someone to discover a live version of something that had terrified him in a film. After it was over, the papers depicted him as a threat to society and made his death seem like a public service. Still, no reporter could cover up or deny his perfect grades or the numerous reports to his credit. They went looking for stories about abused classmates and angry exes and instead got glowing reports of a boy who pulled strings and lent hands.The media lost interest; his friends and family didn't.

Eventually his parents fled the city, but they left the house and it was our job to clean it up. I wandered through his bedroom looking at dozens of photographs and strange little keepsakes. His room still felt like he would come home at any time. Piles of unfinished songs and sketches were stacked on the floor beside the bed, his clothes were everywhere but the closet. I picked up a black shirt that looked smaller than my own and folded it. Unexpectedly, tears pricked my eyes. I hadn't cried much since his funeral, but I couldn't stop picturing the half-inch of skin that used to show between his pants and shirts like this. The faint smell of cologne left on the shirt didn't help a thing. I missed him, and I was girlish enough still to think that no one else could possibly feel the same way.

The thing was, however, that that was actually possible. Silly and fifteen though I was, the closest thing my cousin had to a confidante was me. His boyfriend realized this. I came out of the abandoned mansionette with an armload of boxes, stumbling in the sunlight after the forgiving dimness of his bedroom, and found him waiting for me. He hovered down past the gates, looking afraid to come closer.

"Hello, Paul," I said. He was red-eyed and pale, but despite his fragile appearance and my protests he relieved me of my burden.

He did not greet me in return, but being the younger cousin and pale female imitation of a tragic socialite, I wasn't surprised. "Astrid. Why did he do it?" He asked me, and I pressed my lips together and snatched back the boxes.

"I can't imagine."

Paul seemed pained by me. I assumed he realized it was my cousin's posessions packed in the boxes and felt stung by me taking them from him, but perhaps it was the likeness of our blond hair and the way my eyes masqueraded as my cousin's color when I squinted against the sun.

"You must know," he urged me. "You were his best friend." I dropped the boxes into the trunk of Darren's old BMW and studied him, hearing his rasping inhale at the arch of my eyebrow. He found me like him, and indeed, at the funeral I felt stares at my hair and lips, but I was neither prepared nor willing to be a poor man's substitute for Darren.

"He didn't have a best friend." I was matter of fact. I dusted my hands off and leaned against the car. This boy was sweet, unassuming, and a good person. He didn't have a hope in hell at understanding my late cousin.

"But you knew him best. You were close." Close. Yes, we were that. There were times Darren held me not like a cousin and whispered fiercely to me that he felt like he was suffocating. "Let me take you somewhere--I can drive you downtown for lunch, you can tell me... you can tell me..." He'd been begging then, all pretty eyes and gleaming white teeth. I saw, as I had so many times before when the two took me places, what Darren liked in him. Darren and I did not have the same taste. "I want to know him."

You're centuries too late, I almost said, but slammed the trunk down instead. "I can drive now. I'm sixteen."

"Oh, when did you get your liscence?" Paul asked more out of hammered-in polite reflex than any real care to know.

"He took me the day he killed himself." I enjoyed his wince and thought that perhaps I was, after all, my cousin's cousin.

"Tell me..." Helplessly. He was defeated, more boy than man, with slouched shoulders and a shattered vulnerable veneer.

I stepped towards him then, tilting my hips up against the side of his thigh and touching his opposite hip. He was too wounded to deny me and did not care that I was not only a girl but six years his junior. I took him into the back seat of my cousin's car where he had lain many, many times before and took off every stich of his clothing. He couldn't focus to remove mine, so I took off my panties and left the rest on. The only noise he made when I worked my fingers inside him was a startled moan of Darren's name.

Afterwards I sat astride his sticky stomach and looked down at him. The dying rays of the sunset filtered in through the window behind me and shadowed my face.

"You look just like him," Paul said in a hoarse whisper, and I smiled just the way Darren used to.

"From now on," I told him while twisting my fingers in his hair, "I am him."