The Stains Beneath Our Skin {mxm}

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Musings, by Roach

Casper was still in the kitchen when Cain got back. When the light had cycled muddy yellow and violet and black like a bruise swelling in reverse. He hadn’t stayed there, but like an inevitability, he’d returned from all those echoing reaches of the house. Left the vacant eyes of the mirrors in his and Cain’s room and the familiar warmth of the study behind to settle in this nook of normality with its sturdy wooden units and bland whitewashed walls.

He’d tried to read for a bit, then screamed and thrown his coffee across the room when he realised why he couldn’t, and then shaking, whimpering, he’d sent R2 upstairs to fetch pillows and a duvet.

Cain’s pillows and duvet.

Casper bundled himself up on the floor in the scent of pine and vanilla and that tickling crisp of winter so peculiar to Cain. If he pressed his face close enough into the softness and thought about that sweet smell hard enough, it was almost like this black pit in his gut didn’t eat him alive.

Cain was going to kill him, and all Casper could do was wish Cain was still here so he wouldn’t feel so fucking alone.

How was that fair? Jack had never done that to him. This torment that gripped him, teeth sunk into his chest – when the fuck had he ever wanted company? That’s why he’d done all this. That’s why he’d screamed and cursed and shoved Cain away even while little halfway-sane Casper with his mourning robes on sobbed into a fucking handkerchief at the death of their plan.

Because when he was like this, when Casper saw happiness, it burnt his tongue like bile and rotted out the spaces beneath his skin.

All because it was exactly what he’d never deserve.

But wasn’t this it? Not just it, but bolded, italicised, screamed in capital letters across the rolling grounds and gifted to the wind that howled across the fields to carry his message back to the heavens – tell the Norns their plaything had finally accepted his fate.

Cain was fucked. He was totally psycho nutjob crazy. Fixated on Casper in his endless chain of lost boys and the madness fuelled by his mad-god magic, and … and Casper kind of liked it.

Messed up, right? The ghoul knew it. Lurking in the darkness, it chattered and whooped, its clawed hands and feet clattering against the tiles as it scampered about in the shadows. The flashes of its white skin where the moonlight seeped in were the streaking passages of blind fish in guttering, lightless depths. The ghoul wanted it. It always had.

It wanted it just as much as Casper always had.

The devil lounged on his throne with blood trickling past his lips and his long fingers scratching through Casper’s hair.

It was a nightmare. It was the only thing he’d ever deserved.

It didn’t matter either way, because the plan was the only way he’d ever get out.

And … it was kind of all he’d wanted anyway, only wrapped up in madness and the last knife in the back of his freedom.

Now he’d ruined it.

Casper curled deeper into the covers, his breath hitching in his throat. The fabric lay so soft against his cheeks, a cotton kiss. Claws clicked against the rough flagstones, and with a low whine deep in its throat, the ghoul butted its head against the back of his neck. Casper batted it away. Stupid thing. Like seriously, the day he took comfort from his mental break demon, he might as well just slam the madhouse gates himself.

Like lying here dreaming of comfort from psycho kidnapper wasn’t halfway there already.

A scratch against the back of his neck. The ghoul loomed so close now that Casper could smell the rotten meat stink of its breath. He slapped at it again, hauling the covers up over his back, but its claws plunged back down, raking along his spine.

Irritation a knot beneath his tongue, Casper flung the covers aside and flopped onto his back. Tarry drool dangled from the ghoul’s lipless mouth, threatening to plummet onto his face, and its black eyes spun like twin galaxies drowning in a black hole.

“Can you just fuck—”

A low wumph went through the air. Might have not made a noise at all if the house hadn’t rung so silent, but all it made was a fraction of a second before he would’ve heard something anyway. Something slammed out in the hallway. Clattering – metal on wood on wood – and a clumsy, edgeless scuffle.

Casper froze, his throat a thumping knot, until—

Oo-ow. Stupid bloody, cocking...”

Cain. It was Cain.

Casper scrambled up to his feet, wrestling with the covers tangled about his legs as he made some drunkard’s hop across the kitchen floor. His mind, still sulking down on the floor, gaped at the shitty bad sense of his body because seriously, if he’d just lain there, nutjob out there probably would’ve just walked past and left him in peace.

But no, here he was, practically jogging out of the kitchen into the hallway like some fucking maiden welcoming her husband home from the goddamn war. His heart rattled about in his chest, laying on his ribs like some surly old dwarf with a pickaxe.

He caught himself on the doorframe, twisting on his socked foot to face the short length of hallway down to the back door. Darkness still pervaded here, but a moment later, R2 whizzed out on his heel and the construct’s indigo glow bathed the hallway like moonlight filtered through a black sea.

Down there, Cain made a shadowed, huddled shape of twisting limbs and strange angles, but Casper knew that shout so well not even his wretched mind could impose a monster on it. More muttering stumbled down the hall, the occasional shouted word – sometimes familiar, sometimes strange and meaningless – punctuated a sharper movement or a slam of his fist against the wall.

Casper slumped against the doorframe. The fall of tension slipped from his lips in a huff of laughter. Drunk. God knew Casper knew pissed beyond comprehension when he saw it, and Cain was smashed.

Smashed he could deal with. Smashed was familiar. Maybe … maybe smashed was his way to play good little housewife and worm his way back in. That’d be sweet for everyone, wouldn’t it? Cain waking up all tucked up nice in bed with Casper asleep in his clothes above the covers beside him, artfully positioned so it looked like he’d just dropped there while he sat and patted Cain’s head or something.

Casper grinned. He could do that. Or he could leave Cain to knock himself out on the walls and wake up sprawled by the back door in the dirt and the cold. Maybe the idiot would stumble through the house – up the stairs, stagger along gripping the bannister, and one little slip

A kid could dream, and they’d be sweeter dreams than he’d been having for weeks.

Just as he’d decided to turn and leave Cain to knock his brains out to his heart’s content, a more coherent slur tumbled down the corridor. “R—R2. Lights. Lights, please.”

Heart lurching up his throat, Casper slipped back around the corner, back against the arch of the kitchen door. A moment later, illumination flooded the corridor, gnawing at Casper’s eyes. He gritted his teeth and squeezed them closed. An unwilling smile twitched at his lips as Cain mumbled something that sounded a lot like a thank you before another racketing crash went through the corridor.

Fucking idiot was still polite to his magic butler when he was pissed.

Now what? Like he’d be able to sleep with Cain smashing about in the hallway, and what if he came into the kitchen? Would he even notice if Casper just walked off? Actually, even if he did, what the fuck did it matter? Casper snorted. Stupid. Tentative, he blinked at the sharp light while he knocked his head against the frame. If he walked off right now, he wouldn’t even have to look at Cain.

Casper twisted, shifted a little further back inside the kitchen on silent, socked feet, and poked his head around the corner, fingers curled around the doorframe.

His gut dropped.

Smeared across Cain’s mouth and throat, soaking the front of his shirt a sodden red, was glistening crimson blood.

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