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She should have come with a warning. Toxic. Dangerous. But instead she has the face of an angel, her long, blond locks and light-blue eyes giving an innocence to her she probably lost decades ago.

He drinks his second Scotch in one go, putting the glass down too hard. The bartender raises the bottle questioningly and Alex nods his approval, pushing his glass towards him.

“Hit me.”

Alex drove to the nearby town to have a drink after work undisturbed. Not that he ever really is off duty. But even though his squad car is parked outside, no one knows him here. He changed into jeans, black shirt and a leather jacket, his clothes letting him blend in. Just another man sitting at a bar, having a drink. Here and now, he is not the Sheriff of White Pine Bay. He is a man trying to forget.

Downing the next drink, Alex scoffs at no one in particular, essentially at himself. It won’t work. Getting drunk that is. The alcohol burns in his throat, a welcome feeling. He is too used to it, though, too many lonely nights on his couch or in bars like this. It will take many more drinks to make him forget, too many considering he has to drive back later. To hell with it! He’ll just sleep it off in his car. Who cares, anyway?

He registers a motion to his left at the end of the bar, and for a brief, irritating but even more intoxicating moment, he believes she followed him, is not only a constant presence in his thoughts and dreams but actually there. When Alex steals a glance, however, he sees a woman he has never seen before save that her blond hair as well as her figure resemble the one of the woman he is desperately trying to forget.

Come on, you don’t even dare to think her name? he scolds himself. Coward. What do you fear will happen? 

Alex swallows the last sip of his Scotch. How is the glass empty again already?

Norma Bates. Shit! He didn’t only think that; he murmured it. People will think he is crazy. But when he looks around, no one seems to have noticed except the woman who smiles at him understandingly. She raises her glass to him, and this time, he looks a little longer at her. The hair is a tad too short, her dress too contemporary, let alone that her eyes although blue do not compare. And yet, when Alex orders another Scotch for himself, he also orders another drink for her.

It's wrong. When the woman stands up and approaches him, though, he can’t help but feel a tinge of anticipation. Perhaps he has found something else than alcohol to distract himself.

“Thank you for the drink. Is this seat taken?” She’s well-spoken, her jewelry expensive as he notices only now. Not the type of woman you would expect to meet in a bar like this. They are probably both here for the same unfortunate reason.

Her red lips remind Alex that Norma usually wears lipstick, too, but was marginally made up the first time he saw her. In jeans and an old shirt, she was pulling carpet out in the middle of the night, even with tousled hair and casual clothing effortlessly more beautiful than any other woman he had met up to that point. She was stunning, the color of her eyes mesmerizing. Still, that was not the first thing he noticed when he saw her. Alex’s warning bells went off the moment he laid eyes on Norma Bates. He just knew she meant trouble.

“Carol,” the woman introduces herself as Alex offers her the seat next to him and tells her his name in return.

Contrary to popular belief, Alex is not so bad at small talk. It’s just a matter of whether he wants to make the effort or not, and right now, the way she strokes the stern of her glass not so subtly seems to be worth it. Carol, whoever she is and wherever she will be tomorrow, has something to offer he wants. Needs. Because he can’t have it otherwise, an illusion with a stand-in as close to a truth he is attempting to block out in vain as he will allow himself to get at this point. He has fallen for Norma Bates. Plain and simple. How is that possible? He just met her. Let alone that she’s a nuisance. However, if he can’t run from her, why not have her? Even if it’s not really her.

They talk about anything as long as it’s meaningless. There is a funfair this weekend. Does he intend to come? Maybe (although there is no way in hell Alex would participate in something like that). Does she prefer white or red wine? White (although the way she downs the liquor tells Alex she is used to it and doesn’t care about its color). All the while, Alex’s thoughts are elsewhere.

Did Norma kill Keith Summers? For God’s sake yes, she did, self defense or not. It should be about that, about convicting her, but instead Alex couldn’t decide whether he wanted to strangle her or press her against the door to feel her curves that were deliciously apparent underneath her robe when he questioned Norma on her front porch. He gives a shit about Keith Summers. That guy was a scumbag and the world is better off without him. Norma, however… When he questioned her again in his office, hoping that the location would intimidate her, the opposite occurred. Norma Bates in defense mode is a dangerous thing. She was so damn smug, the realization that whatever he would try to make her acknowledge his ascendancy was bound to fail making him furious. He is not used to not be the one in control. So why was all he could think about then was how it would feel to kiss her? And why can’t he stop thinking about her now? Norma is always there, wherever he goes, whoever he is with. She always barges in between.

It’s the other woman’s hand he feels on his thigh though. Alex hesitates; she notices it in his face, the intensity of her touch easing off before he covers her hand with his and holds her gaze. Carol smells nice; the resemblance is there. So why not go for it? It’s him who’s in control, right? She smiles and stands up first to go to the restroom. Alex stretches the muscles of his back. It’s been a while that he has done this.

He waits a moment and then follows her. The bar is empty enough that they most likely and with some luck won’t be interrupted; nevertheless there are enough other people present so that the coincidence of their simultaneous absence won’t attract attention. They will be gone only a couple of minutes, anyway. Five probably, maybe less.

Carol appears to be nervous when Alex enters the bathroom stall but then smirks and pulls him towards her. Her lips are soft and eager, her hands wasting no time when she goes for his fly and belt. Alex doesn’t mind. That’s what he is here for.

Clothes are pushed out of the way as far as required; they pause only for the always awkward, however necessary moment when Alex slips the condom on before he lifts her up. Their bodies are not used to each other. Nevertheless, they find the right position and rhythm surprisingly fast.

You better work with me, okay? I’m the last guy you want on your bad side. Threatening people is not what Alex usually thinks of while having sex. He can’t help but remember what he told Norma when he was questioning her for the first time though. His anger back then hasn’t decreased at all, making his strokes harder. Norma was so unapproachable, and yet within reach, standing so close to him that he caught a whiff of her perfume and glimpse of the chemise she was wearing underneath her robe every time she moved. The illusion is perfect, their close proximity blurring the other woman’s features. It’s Norma’s hair tickling his face, her breath next to his ear, her quiet moans making him speed up. Five minutes? Make that three at a max because the images keep coming.

Okay, we’re done now. He was so frustrated after he had questioned Norma for the second time. When she walked out of his office without so much as a casual glance at him, he wanted to grab her, hold her back, make her admit whatever she had done but moreover what she was doing to him, throw her on his desk, rip her clothes off and… The images are too much, pushing him over the edge. Alex comes with a stifled groan.

It takes him a moment to find back to reality and realize that the pleasure was solely his although Carol obviously enjoyed the hard and fast pace of their encounter. He slides his hand between their bodies, gently continuing to push into her, but she shakes her head, indicating that she wants him to ease her down. The moment is gone, the absurdity of two strangers using their bodies to feel close to other people a truth too uncomfortable in the harsh neon light to maintain the arousal.

“I’m sorry,” Alex says.

“God no,” Carol appeases. “It was good. It was… enough.”

Even though they just had sex, it’s her words that make him feel close to her. Alex’s smile is genuine. In another world, they might have had a chance. She’s sexy, intelligent and nice, a rare combination. In this world, Carol smoothes down her dress, leans forward to brush his lips with hers and leaves. When Alex goes back to the bar shortly after, she is gone.

He considers going through with his plan to get even more drunk and sleep it off in the car, but the Scotch tastes stale when he orders another one. Alex detects a long, blond hair on his leather jacket and stares at it before he wipes it off. He pays the drinks, grabs his keys and walks out.

It’s time to get rid of the fucking spell Norma Bates has put on him.