The Stains Beneath Our Skin {mxm}

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“I hope you’re pleased with yourself,” Casper said to the ghoul. “Looks like you’ve made this like a gazillion times harder.”

Stretched out on the long hallway runner, the ghoul pouted and kicked its legs in the air like it was some teenage girl baby-talking her crush on the phone. Casper had been huddled outside Cain’s study for about an hour now, and he’d finished the end of the book he’d brought with him which left him with fuck all to do but watch the ghoul roll about on the floor like a puppy. And that thing made a real ugly puppy.

The ticking of a grandfather clock tapped down the hall, footsteps that walked for an eternity but never went anywhere at all, and outside of that eternal march, the house echoed empty. Silent. The hallway made a hollow throat that could never scream.

Since the incident the other morning – the ’hey, this guy probably would’ve been a damn good lay if he didn’t – y’know – kidnap me’ incident – Casper hadn’t seen Cain for almost three days. When he went to his room that night, the handle just rattled, locked. Seemed like the dick was avoiding him.

His study was locked during the day the next day, and Casper didn’t see him at the table at mealtimes, and that nut was religious about his mealtimes. The bedroom had been unlocked the next night, but it’d been starry skies and gaping corners and shit all else including Cain himself. He hadn’t been anywhere, and when Casper tracked down R2, the little sorcerous construct that Casper had heard Cain talking to the day he tried to escape – and really, what kind of nerd named his magic butler after R2D2 – the little thing had just spun around in a circle and puffed a hazy black and glimmering blue question mark above its head when Casper asked where Cain was.

So Cain had gone out. Wouldn’t that be nice. Going out.

Dragging his feet, Casper had trudged back upstairs and curled up in Cain’s bed beneath the covers. Made a nest of the duvet and all the stupidly fluffy pillows. Did cockroaches make nests? Probably to hold all their gross cockroach-y eggs. Yuck. But this nest wasn’t bug egg-y and made of garbage and cigarette butts and the scrapings from the inside of walls. It smelt like vanilla and pine and snowfall. Like Cain.

He wasn’t there in the morning either, but by mid-afternoon, R2 led him to the locked study instead of sprouting a question mark, so Casper had settled down outside to wait. He tried his hardest to read and not think about how antsy Cain avoiding him made him, and to ignore the ghoul scratching at the door. It had worked too well and now he had nothing to do but think about it. At least the ghoul had stopped scratching like some scabby lost cat.

Get up and piss off then, Roach. Get a new book and read outside and be glad the dick’s sulking. Like seriously, how much of a worm did that make him? He could’ve been relaxing, but he’d spent the whole time drifting between these big grand rooms like some Lady in White, except y’know, a ghoul in black rather than a dead girl.

Groaning, Casper knocked his head back against the wall and then climbed to his feet. The door handle still didn’t turn when he tried it, so he knocked.


Is he seriously going to ignore me knocking too? Did I upset him that much?

Casper glared at the ghoul and banged on the door. “Cain! R2 told me you’re in there. Stop ignoring me.”

Total silence.

For fuck’s sake.

“Cain, let me in! It’s been like three days now, I mi—” Casper bit off the word. His stomach dropped. Oh my god, I wasn’t going to say that. No way. Alright, fuck the knocking then. If that prick wanted to sulk, then—

The locked clicked and Casper took a step back as the door cracked open.

Honestly, he’d been expecting the haggard-face broken-man look he always got with Jack. Unshaved, unshowered, gaunt cheeks and dark circles. Acrid stench of booze rolling off him. Clothes not changed and sometimes spattered with a bit of blood. That sort of thing.

Not that Cain looked sparkling, eyes were duller than Casper had ever seen and rather than the usually impeccable grooming, everything was a bit … ruffled, but he did look fresh, and that was, well, refreshing. Just seeing Jack after they argued made Casper feel guilty even if Jack had just flipped on him over laughing at some guy’s joke and it wasn’t Casper’s fault in the slightest.

Sighing, Cain leant against the doorframe, one arm above his head and the other holding the door only just wide enough to frame his body. “Casper.” His lips took a sad sort of downturn as he spoke Casper’s name, and he didn’t follow with anything else.

Casper crossed his arms over his chest and raised his chin. “You’ve been avoiding me.”

“I’ve been busy.” Cain’s voice stayed flat and inflectionless. “Nothing more.”

God, he was sulking. The universe weeps for your plight, oh great martyr of the lost boys. It really was pathetic. “You can’t kidnap me then ignore me. That’s just beyond stupid.”

Cain raised his eyebrows, and then, with a sardonic twist of his lips, he pushed the door open and spread his hands. “Come in then.”

And didn’t that sound welcoming. The study beyond also looked … normal. No smashed glass or anything like that. Was he even annoyed? Surely there’d be at least some kind of wasting anguish or rage if Casper had pissed him off enough to stay away for three fucking days. Unless…

Well, he was just a nut, wasn’t he? And psychosis must be oh so fickle.

Cold, spindly spiders cartwheeled down Casper’s spine as he slipped past Cain into the study, feet padding across the thick rug. Maybe he shouldn’t have come. The door shut behind him and Cain lingered there, hand on the doorknob and his forehead resting against the mahogany frame. Something at the back of his neck caught Casper’s eye, just behind his ear almost hidden from view.

“Is that fucking blood on your neck?” Oh for fuck’s sake, Roach Boy. As soon as the words left his lips, Casper clapped his hands to his mouth, eyes flying wide, and Cain’s hand twitched up to his ear as he turned around.

“I—” His fingers met what must be a hard crust of blood to run that dark against his skin, and his eyes widened too, a grimace settling in on his lips. “Oh, that. I—I, ah … cut myself. Shaving, I think. Didn’t realise it was so bad…”

Shaving behind his ear. Well, he did have an impeccably sharp hairline but seriously. Looked like Cain thought the same by the way he rolled his eyes back and pinched the bridge of his nose. Casper nodded anyway, putting his hands behind his back and batting his eyes. Ghoulish, innocent Roach Boy rocking back on his heels. Nothing to see here, mister psycho nutjob. “Looks nasty.”

“Oh, it was,” Cain muttered, “believe me.”

Fucking shitballs. That was someone else’s blood. Casper smiled and sidled over to the bookcase. The textures of the covers cycled under his trembling finger: rough, smooth, leather, vellum. His heart pounded against his ribs, but hey, he made a living pretending this shit didn’t scare him.

“Where were you last night? I couldn’t find you.”

“Business, Casper. I told you.”

Well this fucking rich boy sure wasn’t doing the same business as Jack was to be coming back bloody. Unless he was a professional hitman. God, Casper hadn’t asked what his business was, had he? Probably wasn’t anything more than a trust fund baby, and business was just a complete lie anyway. So not only did his crazy involve obsessive fixation, but he hurt people too. Casper knew which one of those he preferred, although hey, at least his one wasn’t certain death. Only almost certain.

Positive attitude, Roach Boy. That therapist I always should’ve seen would be so proud.

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