Title: Images of Before and After
Author: Adi Crasher
Feedback address: dz_crasher@yahoo.com
Date in Calendar: 15 December 2005
Fandom: Carnivale
Pairing: Iris/Sofie
Rating: MATURE [see warnings]
Summary: Sofie wanted what Justin had wanted, and Justin had wanted Iris.
Spoiler Warnings: This fic contains spoilers for the end of the show. Do not read it if you wish to remain unspoiled.
Warnings: This story includes mentions of brother/sister incest, and explicit Aunt/niece incest. You have been warned.
Advertisement: Part of the FSAC:DW05

Disclaimer: Carnivale and its characters are the property of HBO productions. No money was made in the posting of this fic, and no damage was intended.

Images of Before and After.

In the After Days.

Sofie wanted what Justin had wanted, and Justin had wanted Iris. He had wanted other things too. He'd wanted power, destruction, pretty little blond girls, pretty little brunette girls, and Iris.

Poor, confused, abandoned, grieving Iris, who cried at night and smiled at the well wishers when they came, and who couldn't bring herself to even look at Sofie. While Sofie couldn't bring herself to stop looking at Iris.

In The After Nights

Iris lay in her bed, uncovered against the chilly night air, pillow pressed against her face to smother her sobs. It was wrong, all of it wrong. Justin was dead, she should be dead, and Sofie... Sofie shouldn't even be! He'd left her all alone. He'd taken Norman with him, or at least as far as they would walk together before going their separate ways. She had no illusions regarding Justin's fate, nor her own. There were days she wondered at this hell she called a life and wondered perhaps if she had already died, if this was her punishment, an eternity without Justin. An eternity with Sofie. The girl who looked at her like she wanted to eat her alive. The girl whose eyes wouldn't leave Iris alone, even here in her own bed, in the dark, with the pillow pressed against her face.

She remembered, years ago, decades ago, feeling these feelings. Having a similar pair of eyes follow her every movement. It was different then, she hadn't known what it meant to be looked at like that. She had been so young, the changes in her body only just beginning. Rose had taken her aside one day, closed the curtains and explained to Iris about womanhood, quietly and in a round about fashion that made Iris wonder what she was talking about until it actually happened.

Iris wondered if anyone had talked to Justin.

In the Before Time.

Rose and Norman sometimes commented on how easy Justin was. How he never asked for anything. However, Iris knew that it was because he never needed to. Justin always got what he wanted without asking. Always. When Timmy Housler, who had pushed Justin in the mud on their way to school once too often, died of the flu, it was Iris who had held Justin and told him that it wasn't his fault, though she suspected it was.

Iris wasn't sure whether or not she should have been surprised when he started developing an interest in girls that he started developing an interest in her as well. For good measure she was surprised, but only briefly. She could never, and would never, be able to bring herself to be afraid of Justin. So when he started sneaking into her bedroom at night all that was really left to feel was guilt. Justin didn't seem to feel it, didn't seem to think there was anything wrong crawling into his sister's bed and doing things to her that should only be done between a man and his wife. Then again perhaps he didn't see the difference between using Iris and using his own hand. After all, he controlled both just as easily. No, the guilt was left for Iris and the nights she spent alone, crying in the dark with a pillow pressed against her face.

In the After Nights.

Iris didn't even hear Sofie walking in. She wasn't sure how long the girl stood next to her bed before she noticed her. The sight of her of standing there, looking at her, only made Iris sob harder. Embarrassed, she turned away.

"Go away," she groaned, so Sophie did.


She lay in the middle of the bed, on top of the sheets, sweat glistening on her forehead. She almost shook, but instead everything around her trembled slightly to the rhythm of her breathing. The flowers by the window gave off a green sour rotting smell, which waxed and waned with the breeze.

In the house, she felt her aunt avoiding her, outside she felt a sprouting seed breaking free of the soil that bound it. Angry and jealous, she willed it gone.

Near the white porch in a relatively bare piece of turf something small exploded, scaring the birds from the tree. Inside everything stopped trembling. Iris breathed a sigh of relief. She knew what Sofie wanted, relished the power of denying her, feared the confrontation she knew was coming. It never got this bad with Justin, but then again, Justin never had to ask.

Iris wasn't surprised when she heard the floorboards creek behind her. The air had suddenly gotten heavier, and the ticking of the clock louder and more ominous. She turned and looked at the flushed face and glazed eye impassively. She wondered if this would be the day she would not be allowed to say no.

The fruit in the bowl on Sofie's left ripened and rotted, while the wilting flowers on her right recovered their glory. It was a disturbing sight to behold, and added to the surrealism of Iris' reality; the reality in which her bastard niece begged with her eyes for her aunt to fuck her like she had her father. Her father, the demon savior who had used Iris as if she were part of him all his life, and left her bereft with his deaths.

Yet this slip of a girl made all these things seem almost banal, simply by standing in front of her.

The gentle rhythmic shuddering returned, the clock warbled and stopped with a strange choking sound. Iris had to force herself not to tell the girl to stop being a brat. "Throwing tantrums will get you nowhere," she said, with more calm then she felt. Suddenly she was aware of how utterly quiet it was.

Sofie fell to her knees with all the force of a tree and a soft cry. Her hands reached out and held her for a moment, before collapsing under her weight, and Iris wasn't looking at a being of power standing in front of her, but a girl curled up on the hard floor who hurt because Iris refused her, and for whatever reason she would not, could not, force her.

Iris took a hesitant step forward, then another, and another until she stood next to her whimpering niece. "Why don't you just take it?" she whispered. The girl at her feet didn't answer. Iris knelt down next to Sofie, her dress tucked neatly under her knees.

Pity touched her heart, and the overwhelming need to prove her new-found power. Slowly, carefully, she reached out to the dark head.

Sofie stopped moving when she felt Iris lightly stroking her hair, afraid she'd scare her off. She sensed conditional surrender from the older woman, and she didn't want to upset the fragile balance.

Slowly she turned over, resting her head on Iris' lap, breathing in the smell of her clean dress, her soap, and beneath it all, the undeniable scent of Iris. She smelled like the flowers at her window.

"I don't know what to do." Iris admitted quietly.

Somewhat reluctantly, Sofie sat up. Her eyes, black on black when she had entered the room, were now back to normal and looked into Iris'. She leaned forward, stopping when Iris jerked back, and waited while she collected herself and returned.

Slowly, as to not startle her again, Sofie leaned forward until her lips neared Iris's ear. "Then we'll go slowly," she whispered, distracting Iris as she raised her hand to cup the older woman's cheek. "And do it until we get it right." Then, before Iris could think about it too much, she kissed her.

It wasn't hard not comparing Iris to Ben, or Libby, or that boy in that town. Her old life was practically non-existent. She'd killed it, along with Justin in the dead cornfield, after receiving his boon.

She could feel the heat traveling through her body, splitting at her spine and going to her hands and lips. Iris felt it too. She gasped and pulled away. Sofie took the opportunity to stand up. She reached down to Iris and pulled her to her feet, dazed and slightly flushed. She kissed her softly, almost chastely, if not for the heat that passed between them. "You'll burn me." Iris whispered, fear creeping in her voice. Sofie kissed her again, longer and nowhere near chaste, and pulled her up the stairs.

Iris followed feeling like a lamb going to the slaughter. 'So be it,' she thought to herself. 'At least I'll be with Justin.' Only somehow, that thought didn't seem very appealing anymore. They walked through a patch of sunlight. This seemed wrong to Iris. She stopped. Sofie turned around, curious. Iris opened her mouth, wanting to explain her sudden hesitancy, that what they were about to do should be done at night, in the dark, with the curtains drawn and the door closed. The words wouldn't come. Instead in the silence, she watched the dust float in the illuminated air. Sofie waited.

"It's wrong." Iris finally managed; saying what she never could to Justin, because Sofie couldn't, wouldn't, wasn't forcing her.

Sofie waited.

"It's against God's law!" Though it wasn't, not in the literal sense, and even if it was, she'd done worse, much worse. There might even be a redeeming value to this sin, because Sofie needed her.

As if she was reading her mind, and maybe she was, Sofie reached out to her, her hand open, palm up. An invitation, a request.

It didn't matter that it was wrong, that she was her niece, that she was a girl! Iris suddenly needed to do something good, and in the absence of any sort of direction, this would have to do.

She took the offered hand, and followed Sofie into her bedroom.

There, Iris was suddenly overcome with a sense of urgency. She wanted this over with, and she didn't want to think about it.

Sofie watched her fumble with the buttons on her dress for a moment before stepping forward and taking her hands in hers.

"Slowly," she reminded Iris. "Slowly." She moved in closer, so close their breaths mingled. The air almost crackled around them, and this time it was Iris that initiated the kiss.

Sofie moved one hand to the back of Iris's neck, and the other she curled into a fist and snuggled it under Iris' palm, using it to raise the other woman's hand to her shoulder.

She slipped her hands between them and started to unbutton Iris's dress. Only the middle buttons at first, giving her access to her midriff. Gently she ran her fingers across the soft skin, mapping the roundness of her stomach and the sharpness of her waist.

Sofie slipped her hands around Iris', and pulled the other woman close, inhaling her scent and lowering her mouth to her neck.

Iris gasped at the first nibble, and didn't even notice at first when Sofie's hands moved from her waist to her breasts. She was holding on to Sofie's upper arms tightly, yet she feared she might fall.

"I--" she managed to say, then Sofie brushed her fingers against her nipples, and she forgot what she was thinking. The heat lingered when Sofie moved her hands to undo the rest of the buttons. That's why she was surprised when her dress slipped off her shoulders.

She suddenly realized she was still wearing her shoes ... it seemed a ridiculous situation to be in. She realized she was still clutching Sofie's arms, and used her to balance as she kicked off her shoes. Her feet touched the bare wooden floor, and she suddenly felt young and free and innocent. Suddenly standing in her underwear in front of this girl seemed like the most natural thing in the world. Iris smiled and lessened her grip on Sofie's arms, running her hands down Sophie's arms to hold her hands for a moment before letting go, allowing her dress to join her shoes. She took Sofie's hands and moved backwards until she felt the edge of the bed on the back of her legs. Only then did she release Sofie's hands and sit down. She tugged on the girl's dress as if to remind her it was still there. She noticed Sofie was already barefoot, and wondered when she had lost her shoes.

Underneath her dress, Sofie was already naked, and Iris, even in this strange giddy state, found herself comparing her body to Sofie's young freckled figure. The breasts that had not yet lost the battle against gravity, the skin that was still tight and smooth where it counted, the stomach that was a sunken, upturned saucer with a protruding belly button. She couldn't help but feel self-conscious of her weather-worn skin and sagging breasts and stomach. She didn't get to linger on these feelings of inadequacy for too long because Sofie was pushing her up the bed, and settling between her legs while kissing her, and it took all of her concentration just to keep track of whose hands were where.

She grazed her nails along either side of Sofie's spine and brought them back to run her fingers through short dark hair. Meanwhile Sofie was marking her with sharp little bites, followed by soothing lips and tongue, and Iris wasn't sure whether she liked this or not, but never wanted it to end.

Sofie kissed the stretched marks on the top of her breasts, and Iris tensed in anticipation as the girl slipped further down and wrapped her lips around her nipple.

Iris hissed at the sharpness of the sensation that shot arrows between her legs, and braced herself against the bed. The heat from before returned, but this time she wanted more, she wanted to burn, she wanted to take all of Sofie's heat into herself. By its own volition her knee lifted itself off the bed, forcing Sofie to twist and move her attention to the other nipple, but it was the twist that caught Iris' attention, the friction that reminded her that she was not fully undressed and that she wanted to be, more than anything she wanted to be.

She raised her other knee and pulled Sofie back up to her. As she kissed her she felt more heat, blue hot against her lips, her breasts. She ran her fingers down Sofie's sides and felt as though she'd moved her fingers against soft, solid fire.

In her rush to remove her underwear, she grazed her own skin with her fingernails, but she didn't feel it through the relief of being naked, at feeling her pubic hair mixing with Sofie's, their heat mingling. She groaned and pushed up, desperate for contact.

Breaking the kiss, Sofie pulled away and cupped Iris's face with one hand, bracing herself with the other.

"Shhh," she said, running her thumb across Iris's red swollen lips. "Slowly."

They lay there for a few moments while Iris's heart slowed, her nipples felt like ice, and her place of sin burned like the fires of hell. All while Sofie stroked her hair and kissed the soft place below her ear, and when Iris could take deep breaths, Sofie took her fingers and gently sucked and licked them.

The intensity of the moment had passed and Iris found that she could concentrate on the sensations, like the pleasurable discomfort from her fingers that she felt half way down her to her elbows, before it disappeared, only to return just below her belly button and travel downward.

She couldn't a remember a time in her life when she had been this wet, when her desire had burned as bright, when she had wanted someone to touch her this badly. Her hand, the one not being orally stimulated, moved to provide some relief, but Sofie slapped it away carelessly, and laughed softly around Iris's middle finger.

Angry, Iris pulled her hand from Sofie and climbed on top of her. Frustrated, she tried for stimulation by grinding their centers together, but she simply could not get enough contact.

She sat up, and looked down at Sofie desperately. Sofie laughed again, then pulled her down and kissed her, filling her with more of the strange heat which began this encounter.

"Are you sure you're ready?" Sofie whispered into her lips. Iris answered with a growling sound and wondered at herself. Who was this person who growled with need? Where did she come from? What would happen when she was gone? Once again, she wasn't given enough time to contemplate this train of thought, as Sofie rolled them over so that she was now on top.

With one hand she held the back of Iris's neck; the other ran down Iris's chest, passed her stomach and then further down. She teased Iris for a moment but finally entered her with one finger and traced circles around her clit using her thumb.

Iris grasped the sheets and her toes curled. When Sofie started stroking in and out, she thought she had reached the height of ecstasy. Then Sofie kissed her.

As though a circuit was had been completed, Iris felt the heat from before flow through her. Only now, it filled her completely. It was the difference between a candle and the sun, a seedling and a forest, a drop of water and every ocean on earth.

Never take the Lord's name in vain but, oh God oh God this was not in vain, and why had no one ever told her it could be like this, and how could she be seeing stars during the day, and Sofie's eyes were black on black, and she was on fire but which she, and where was her body now?

Oh yes, that's right, she was in bed, in her house, with her niece, close to the field where her brother had died twice.

And as her breathing slowed and her vision cleared, she wondered why no one ever talked about the fires of heaven.

She slept.

Much After.

When she woke, the sun was lower in the sky and she was covered in a blanket. Sofie was spooned behind her, different somehow, calmer, cooler, like a fresh breeze.

"You're awake." The voice was soft, but cold. Something was coming to an end. Iris just nodded. "Thank you." With that she lifted the covers and eased out.

Iris shivered at the chill of her departure. "What about you?" she asked; what they had shared was somewhat one-sided.

"I got what I needed." The dress fell over her hand.

"Will you come back?" Suddenly it seemed very important that Sofie not leaver her life so completely.

"No, but we'll see each other again." It was enough, sort of.

"What will happen?"

Sofie stopped at the door. "Something brilliant, and terrible." Then she was gone.

Iris spent the rest of the day in bed. She fianlly got up, and looked around for something to do. The dying flowers in the window were the first thing that caught her attention, but when she came closer to them, she felt heat flow through her, different from before. Her vision darkened, and she felt dizzy. The next thing she knew she was sitting on the bed, and the flowers in the window were blooming against the sunset.