Norma sizes herself up in the mirror. Her navy blue lady's suit is elegant, but the woman looking back at her is not herself. Too formal, too uptight. She exhales, rolling her shoulders in order to loosen up, but eventually shakes her head in acceptance of the inevitable. There is no way she can be light-hearted, not with her body and soul aching. No matter how much makeup she will put on, the pain beneath will shimmer through, her son's empty room as well as the lump on her forehead testament to everything that is wrong in her life at the moment.
At least she can change her clothes though. After she has done that, Norma sizes herself up in the mirror again. Better, although she still feels uneasy in her own skin. But that's not due to her clothes and there is no time left to change again, anyway. She straightens herself. Okay then. Let's do this. It doesn't matter what she is wearing; this is about getting insurance for Norman. Then why does it feel like so much more? Norma grabs her coat and heads out.
It will be her third marriage and the third time is the charm. Isn't that how the saying goes?
Alex consults his watch. Norma wouldn't be late to her own wedding, would she? There is a queasy feeling in his stomach, taunting him that she might have changed her mind until he reminds himself she wouldn't do that because it's about her son. The awareness calms him but is accompanied by the familiar sting that this doesn't even remotely mean as much to her as it does to him.
And there she is, rushing in, her cheeks reddened due to the cold outside, beautiful as always. His bride is wearing black underneath her purple coat. Alex has never seen the dress before. It looks like something she would wear for dinner otherwise, black lace with a pink-colored petticoat, the lace see-through so that it allows a glimpse at the half-hidden, brighter color here and there.
He remembers the way Norma used to dress. Floral designs, hair bands, almost girlish, but it became her. The woman right in front of him has changed. Still stunning, maybe even more so, but the weight of the world is holding her down. It's in every breath, every move. Norma never just exists; she constantly has to fight the occurrences in her life so that she can. Alex hates the idea that living in White Pine Bay has put more pressure on Norma's already strained life. It's his town, his responsibility although he is well-aware that a huge part of her problems are caused by her family. Either way, she moved here to start over and it almost broke her. He should have done a better job protecting her.
Norma approaches him, her smile reluctant.
"You look beautiful."
No more reluctance. His words make her radiant with joy. Alex would give anything to let Norma have more unburdened moments like these. He can only imagine how difficult this has to be for her. Her heavy fall, the uncertainty what the future will bring for her son. And in the middle of all this, they are getting married.
Just when she is about to say something in response, there is a voice, announcing that they are next.
"Sheriff Romero? Norma Bates? We're ready for you."
Not even 24 hours ago Alex didn't have the slightest idea he would get married today, but when Norma reaches out and takes his hand, it feels as if things were exactly how they are supposed to be.
Norma is holding his hand the entire time as they are listening to the marriage registrar. Her I do is clear whereas his is a bit husky. She has no ring for him, of course, however there is a deep gratefulness in her eyes when he puts his mother's ring on her finger, and for the first time, it feels as if this gratefulness goes beyond getting insurance for her son. Norma keeps staring at the ring and him alternately, and when they are eventually announced husband and wife and he kisses her, she kisses him back.
If that's what fake marriage feels like, he's all in.
They are standing outside of the city hall in front of their cars that are neatly parked next to each other. Reality has caught up with them. Who comes to their wedding in separate cars? And what will they do next?
"I, err, I have to go back to work," Alex states. He didn't tell anyone he would get married today. Hence he has to show up although he has no doubt that word will spread like wildfire soon.
"Okay," Norma nods.
She still has her fingers intertwined with his, holding on to him as if she is slowly getting used to the idea of their new relationship status. And seems to like it. Alex raises the back of her hand to his lips and kisses it.
"I'll come by afterwards," he says.
"Yes, sure." Norma is clearly looking forward to it, watching him with these light-blue eyes that always draw him into her world.
He is about to get in his car when her voice holds him back.
"Alex..." She raises an eyebrow, her usual, vibrant energy showing. "You really look good in a suit."
As if it hadn't been difficult enough already to leave her in order to fulfill his duties.
It's impossible to concentrate on his work. Therefore it's almost a relief when people start congratulating him, most of them barely able to hide their surprise. Norma and he will be the talk of the town for a while. The truth is, though, that every time Alex confirms that, yes, he actually married Norma Bates this morning, it makes him incredibly proud, let alone happy.
Norma is like an addiction. He can't stay away from her, tried and it didn't work, their relationship a constant emotional turmoil, their shared moments of bliss rare and a feeble construction, and yet, being with her feels better than anything he has ever experienced in his whole life. The moment Alex realized Norma would need to become his wife in order to get insurance for her son, it felt like a surreal stroke of fate fulfilling his wildest dreams although marriage hadn't been on that list, not until it was a possibility that is, the ultimate chance to have her.
The idea made him dizzy with excitement, even more now that it has become real. An irresistible scenario, the options endless without a backdoor that allows Norma to escape like she did in the past. It's soothing and strangely arousing, this hold he has over her. Or at least it was until a memory kept him awake last night, one question emerging: Had he become his father? Alex can't seem to shake off Bob Paris' words that are slowly poisoning him.
I guess none of us can change who we are. You are more like your dad than you ever have been. This is about you and what you want. How does that feel? To have spent your whole life trying to get away from someone you hate, only to turn into them.
Bitter words of a man who knew he was about to die. It doesn't make them any less true.
Alex didn't put one bullet into Bob Paris but four, didn't only kick against the nearest wall after he had learned about Norma and that fucking therapist but threw everything off his desk in a streak of rage. He pushed Norma against the door frame during their fight, was more than a little rough with her during their reconciliation although she seemed to like it. Violence is in his genes. Like his father, he does whatever he deems necessary to get what he wants. And what he wants most in the world is Norma. Money or marriage, whatever her decision would have been, the plan had been to tie her to him all along.
He loves her. So much. But she deserves a better man. Someone who didn't sell his soul years ago and lost count of how many times he has broken the law albeit he should represent it, someone without genetic burdens that threaten to take over. Alex started packing last night because he assumed he would move in with Norma but then stopped half-way. What if she doesn't want that? Would he insist? Although he is repulsed by the mere idea, it's so tempting to use his position of power to force her to let him move in if necessary, compel a closeness she might not be willing to allow yet, only because it's what he wants. It's what his father would do. Would he?
His phone rings. He knows something is wrong when he hears her voice.
"Alex..." Norma sniffles; she must have been crying. "Could you come over? Like, right now. Please?"
He had planned to take her out to dinner. One of Alex's friends has a restaurant and offered him their best table and menu for free. Well, not exactly for free since this friend is also a smart business man and for sure hopes it will be beneficial to him sometime in the future that he gave the sheriff a generous wedding gift.
Either way it's clear that they won't go out tonight. When Norma opened the door, her eyes were red and swollen from crying and she basically fell in his arms. It took him several attempts to find out what had happened. Willamette County hospital had called. The blood on Norman's clothes isn't his. Therefore he won't be released, not until Bradley Martin will have been found alive and unharmed. An investigation will make sure of that or prove the horrible allegation.
They had a rough plan regarding Norman. He would have been released the very next day and Norma wanted to talk him into committing himself to Pineview voluntarily. Alex didn't think it would work, but in typical Norma fashion she was convinced it would, mostly because it had to. There was no other plan. They both knew what would happen if Norman came home to find out his mother had married the sheriff. That kid is wired differently when it comes to his mother, the new situation a recipe for disaster.
All of this has become redundant by now. Alex spent the afternoon and early evening talking to Willamette County, Pineview and his insurance company to schedule Norman's transfer while Norma was sitting next to him, sobbing quietly. There are some documents left to sign, but he will do that tomorrow. Enough has happened today.
They are sitting on the couch in the living room. Half-lying, actually. Norma has curled up into a ball, snuggling into him. She is still sobbing now and then but much calmer overall. Alex is pretty sure it's not because she is feeling better but simply due to exhaustion.
"Thank you for coming over and taking care of all that," she mumbles.
"No problem." Alex gently strokes her back. "I wanted to take you out to dinner, but it's probably better if we delay that."
"Dinner? Really?" Norma lifts her head, the hint of a smile flitting across her tear-stained face. "That's nice."
She doesn't talk about her former relationships, but every time he finds out something, it makes Alex wonder how bad her life really has been. It would have been just dinner, on their wedding day no less, and yet, it seems to be something special for her. A vision of Norma sipping at a glass of wine appears in his mind's eye. Relaxed, flirting with him. A happy Norma. He loves the idea. That dinner has to happen soon.
Her head rests against his chest, her fingers drawing lazy circles on his shirt. She is getting sleepy while he is getting more and more alert. Alex has to concentrate on the messy situation and Norma's agitated state so that his thoughts don't stray to other places where her touch is the beginning of something, her body not next to him but writhing underneath his.
"You're right. Not tonight," Norma agrees, and for a moment, Alex doesn't know what she is talking about. Oh yeah, dinner. "You are doing all these nice things. For me, for us." She huffs. "All I do is screw things up. I wasn't able to help Norman. I'm not good at being married." Just when Alex is about to contradict her, Norma changes the subject, her mind, as always, following its own rules. "Have you been married before?"
"Hm." Norma nods, at least as far as her lying posture allows her to. He apparently confirmed her assumption. "This is my third marriage. Did you know that?"
"Well, I kind of thought it was since Dylan and Norman have different last names and don't look anything alike."
Norma pushes herself up in a sitting position, watching him thoughtfully, her voice so quiet that he has to lean in to understand the words when she speaks, "I will never lie to you again, Alex. I don't want anything to come between us."
He doesn't know what to make out of this. All of it. Yesterday it was clear that Norma wanted the marriage to get insurance for her son, that this was the only reason she wanted it. Today, even during the wedding ceremony, her behavior has been implying that this does mean more to her than a convenient way to get the best possible treatment for Norman. Whatever it is she is feeling. Maybe she doesn't know herself. Coming from anyone else, the promise to not lie would be laughable since it should be a given; coming from Norma and considering their history, it's a precious and unexpected gift.
She looks over his shoulder into the hallway, interrupting him. "Where is your stuff?"
Norma hesitates. "Aren't you going to move in with me? I mean, you don't have to, but I just thought..."
"I came right over from work, remember? I'll get my stuff tomorrow." Alex can barely hide his excitement.
Can being married to her be that easy? Can it feel so right?
She leans forward to brush his lips with hers. "I'm tired, Alex. There are some leftovers in the fridge. Do you want some? I know it's not an appropriate wedding dinner but better than nothing."
"I'm not hungry." He is but not for food.
"Okay. Then, um, I'd like to go to bed. I'm really tired." There is a flicker of something in her eyes he can't read as she stands up.
Alex has never stayed overnight here, let alone in her bed. He doesn't know what to do. This is no regular wedding night, was no regular wedding. He isn't sure what to expect once they are upstairs. Does she even want him to sleep in her bed?
"I'll turn off the lights and make sure all windows and doors are locked," he stalls for time as if Norma wasn't able to do that herself or hadn't done it in the past every night.
She seems to appreciate it though or is too weary to care. There is no sound as she quietly heads upstairs, leaving Alex to rattle at windows and doors to make sure they are safe.
Alex is standing in the doorframe, his body half-hidden in the dark as he watches Norma undress. She seems to be lost in thought, her movements casual as if her mind was somewhere else. Without make-up, her facial features are even more delicate, the translucent color of her light-blue eyes enhancing her ethereal appearance. Shoes and pantyhose are gone; she is about to hang up her dress, a sheer, skin-colored chemise clinging to her curves. Their encounters were so quick and passionate, Alex never had the chance to have a long close look at her. She is breathtakingly beautiful. Not that he didn't know that already.
Only when he moves, Norma notices him and startles. She doesn't stir, though, when he approaches her, reaches out and gently pulls one strap of her chemise down, then the other, the satin sliding down her shoulders so that the naked skin of her upper body is revealed. So, so beautiful. Alex's fingers caress her neck before they move downwards, brushing the outside of her breast. Norma's nipples stiffen in anticipation; her eyes, however, darken. She backs up, crossing her arms in front of her breasts.
"I know it's our wedding night, but can we not do that?" Norma doesn't look at him when she says that, posture and voice tense as she pulls the straps up again.
What has he done? Alex didn't give this a moment's thought, the sight of her enough to spark his actions. In his imagination they were on the bed already, making love. But Norma told him she was tired. He should have known she wouldn't want this tonight given the circumstances, the implication obvious when she went upstairs without him.
"I'm sorry, Norma. I didn't… Do you want me to leave or sleep in the other room?" He is embarrassed that she turned him down, could kick himself for putting both of them in this awkward position. Everything is different now; previous rules don't apply anymore, if there ever were any.
"No." She touches his cheek. "I want you to stay here with me. Just not like that, okay?"
As tense as Norma was before, as relaxed she is now. Relieved. The thought of her former husbands crosses Alex's mind, the idea unbearable that her relief might stem from the fact that they didn't respect her wishes like he does.
She turns around and slips under the sheets, waiting for him to join her. It feels weird to undress in front of her even if he did it before and is keeping on his briefs. They are not about to have sex, though, simply go to bed together as husband and wife. A wife that eyes him appreciatively despite her weariness. He could get used to that. Save that he doesn't know where to put his damn clothes, eventually settling for the bench in front of her vanity.
"You, um..." Alex clears his throat. "We will need a chair or something in here for my clothes."
The moment he gets to bed, Norma clings to him. "You will get your chair if you insist," she sighs. Then, in an almost happy tone of voice, "I like it. You. Here. In my bed."
He likes it too. A bit too much, actually. There is no way Norma doesn't feel his arousal.
"I'm sorry." Alex tries to shift his lower body so that it's not pressed against her.
"Don't be. It's okay," she whispers before she turns off the light.
Alex can tell Norma is trying to fall asleep, but it doesn't work, just as he is miles away from sleeping considering her closeness and his state of arousal. He is waiting for her to drift off so that he can take care of the situation in the bathroom unobtrusively. Norma doesn't fall asleep though. Her breathing slowly changes instead. Alex knows these slightly erratic breaths too well. Then she adjusts her lower body and begins to move her hips in circles.
"I always feel safe when I'm with you," she whispers.
The images come quick and incoherent. Norma on top of him, his hands on her ass as she rides him to a land of bliss. Norma under him, his hands holding her wrists over her head as he plunges into her forcefully. Maybe she is not as safe with him as she believes. Especially not when she pulls one leg up, placing it on his hip in order to create more friction in the right place. More images. Bob Paris lying in his own blood, his mouth moving. There is no sound, but Alex knows the words, a dying man accusing him of being like his father. A man without moral. A violent man who only cares about what he wants.
"Alex?" Norma's touch brings him back to the here and now. She is embracing his face with both of her hands. "Everything okay? Your breathing was really… odd for a moment."
He sees her, nothing but her, and it immediately calms him, the images disappearing. Yes, he is a violent man, did terrible things and will continue to do so in the future if need be. He would never hurt Norma though. She might believe that he is the one protecting her, saving her, but the truth is that it's the other way round. Norma has saved him from being the man he would have become without her.
Alex's smile is genuine, dispelling Norma's concern as she smiles back at him. "Everything is more than okay, Mrs. Sheriff. It seems as if you changed your mind. How did that happen?"
He pulls her even closer, making her gasp when she feels him between her legs, growing even harder if possible.
"That's a very convincing argument you have there," Norma breathes.
It's not what he has in mind though. This is about her. His wedding gift.
Alex rolls them over. This time Norma doesn't stop him, moans in anticipation instead when he worships her breasts, touches and kisses them, shoving the satin out of the way. But only when he kisses his way downwards across her stomach, she realizes what he is up to.
"Shhh..." He pushes her chemise up and gets rid of her panties. "Relax."
She is in heaven. Alex takes his time, kissing and licking and nibbling at her inner thighs and lower stomach until she writhes and begs. This is not where she needs his lips and tongue. She wants more. Now.
Finally he positions one of her legs over his shoulder. When his tongue hits her right there, Norma arches up, panting. Yes, please. This is it.
Alex knows what he is doing though, taking his time again as she presses her head into the pillow, every effort to keep a last ounce of composure gone. Norma is embarrassed by the sounds she makes but can't stop them. Every tickle of his tongue triggers a different gasp, a louder moan and she can't help but think that Alex does it to catalogue them in his mind and use them as future reference. Oh God, there will be more of this in the future. Marrying him was the best decision of her life.
When he takes a little detour across her trembling thighs simply for the purpose to make her wait and drive her even more crazy, Norma runs her fingers through Alex's hair. He looks up at her, smiling as she slips a finger in his mouth, the skin of his face partly glistening from her arousal. Everything about this is so sexy. No man before him has made her feel that way.
Norma clings to the sheets as Alex continues his sweet, torturous game. If it's up to her, this can take all night. She's a woman. They can play more than once.