Standard Disclaimer

Ahhh! No lynching. I profusely apologize to all of the people who were expecting more of this story and making you wait this long for an update. I admit that I have no actual reason to excuse myself , but I promise you that I'll try my best to make for it in the quality oflater chapters.

Sorry, people. Chris isn't in this one, but it gives good background on three important characters.

I hope you like this one, guys. AllForYouRemy? For your encouragement, for emailing me yourself, for making me feel like this fic counted?

This one is for you.

For my Muse.


Chapter Twenty-Nine

Flashback

"Um…Sir?"

The door creaks open and Brett thinks the curtains should be darker in here. There's too much sunlight and it's ruining his morning. Or is it mourning?

"Uh…Master Brett?" the voice asks again, and something flashes across Brett's mind. Lights. And fireballs. A scream. Maybe more. There's a hand around his throat, but it's not his throat, it's someone else's, but it doesn't explain why he still can't breathe.

"Master Brett?"

Brett wants to rip out his vocal cords.

"His Eminence has asked me to check on you," says the voice, and Brett can't move. "He is…concerned."

There's something shifting behind him. Brett shuts his eyes, lips thinning, as he clutches the sheets in his hands.

Tighter. Tighter. Always tighter.

"Should I…should I tell him that you are well?" it—he—says again and

"Very well, Sir," he says and Brett can hear the uncertainty better than the clink of china and metal. "I sh—I shall petition the cook to prepare something more of your liking."

"Well, then," he says, and Brett can feel the eyes boring into his back. "If that is all…"

The footsteps sound hesitant on the floor, and it's more like shuffling then anything and Brett just wants him to leave.

Pauses. Hitches. Takes a deep breath, and

"If it's any consolation," Brett hears and the voice is turned towards the door. "I'm sorry for…the, uh—the entire magical community was…saddened by your loss. We all felt the, uh…the grievances for…"

It's quiet, but Brett can almost hear him cleaning his glasses.

"They were…spectacular. Righteous. Incredibly strong. But…, mostly, they were…good," he finishes, moving again.

"Well, then," he says and Brett's grip has tightened exponentially on his pillow.

"Good morn—er, afternoon, Sir."

There's more foot-shuffling and china/metal clinking and more deep breathing and Brett listens to the quiet outside his head again because it's better than the chaos inside it.

"…I…I'm—" His eyes are teary, throat swollen, and he chokes when he tries to use it.

Stops. Pauses.

No more shuffling, and—despite his heart beating like a rabbit's—it's really quiet now.

"…Yes, Sir?"

Brett doesn't turn. He doesn't un-tense, and he's certain he's still tucked in like a curled child. He doesn't smile, not even one of those half-smile ones, or those amused ones.

But his grip, though, hasn't changed on his sheets and pillow.

"…Call me 'Brett,'" he whispers, and—inside—he thinks he said it more to himself than to the man, and it makes sense because it was said so softly he doesn't think anyone could have heard it at all.

Only…

"…Yes. Or course, Mas—er. Br-Brett," the man stutters, more of surprise than anything, but Brett can still hear the faintest of smiles in his voice. "Good afternoon, Brett."

There's a slight pause. The door closes.

It's quiet again.


Brett never sees him, really. When he does "see" him, he's either just too tired to talk or—to be more accurate, attempting to seem like he's too tired to talk—or he's just staring into space; deep in his own lala land where lanky boys with chestnut hair and green, green eyes who bear promises that they'll always come back actually keep them, his back facing the doorway, so it's not like he actually sees him, either way.

Mostly he just sleeps.


"Good afternoon, Brett."

"You'll be happy to know that His Eminence will be gone for a few days. Three in the very least."

Sheet shuffles.

"Ah. Well. You've finished with breakfast, then. Good. At this rate, Sir, your health may return in the next two and a half years."

A snort. Air of disbelief, more out of automatic nerves then actually response.

Still…

"Yes. Well…"

Disarming, insulting, confronting.

British.

"Good Afternoon, Brett."

Soft, head still turned away, barely heard.

"…Bye."


He sees them sometimes. Gets visions of them. Sometimes long, sometimes short.

Always them.

Spontaneous stuff, too. Prue brushing her hair. Laughing. Phone.

Potter. Playing football. Determined, just a little smug.

Then there's Megan. She's reading her four different books simultaneously and it's always her—this—that makes him think they're still tangible.

He knows they're not.


"You dare raise your hand at ME!"

"I…I apologize, Sire. It's just Bre—er, Master Brett does not quite feel like himself today, and—"

Screams. Things shattering. Incomprehensible pleas.

Sobbing.

"Tell me. …Is he…is he always like this?"

Cautious. Guarded. Honest.

"…Not always."


He thinks Jeeves—Giles? Jerry?—sees him sometimes. He has the grace to become embarrassed.

Doesn't matter though. Not in comparison.

Seeing Chris die over and over again is different than the others. Brett never saw Chris' flesh slowly turn to solid concrete. Never saw him rip and claw and bleed his way out of a dimensional rift to a demonic world and lose. Never saw him cry and sob and wither away because he couldn't control his growing empathic powers in Wyatt's New World Order.

No. No, when he sees Chris die, it's always new and equally worse than the last.


"I'm sorry! Please! God, I'm so…"

"Help! I need help in here! Somebody!"

"Oh, god…I'm so—I never…I didn't mean to…"

"Anyone! …Yes, yes, you two! Hurry!"

"No. No, please, you have to…you have to believe me! I…I never—"

"You! I need you to—bloody hell! Grab his legs!"

No. No, please, don't—you don't have to…"

"Shh. Shh. It's just me, Master Brett. You're fine. We're in your room. Nothing is wrong."

Quietly. "…I'm so sorry."


Time doesn't mean anything to him. He's lost all sense of it since coming here. It's hard to tell the time of day, now, actually, let alone what day it is. Rainstorms are common nowadays and—for a while there—Brett wondered if Wyatt brought a demon friend of his to make it like that or if nature itself was reflecting its dislike of the Abomination. The sounds of thunder and rain drops hitting the glass and the blackest, blackest grey often fill the room and—when he's coherent enough—Brett smiles at the irony in that. Once, he'd had a laughing riot so hard that Wyatt himself came barging in with half a dozen demons in tow—armed—and his demonic Book of Shadows in hand; fingers twitching on an exorcism chant. Even now Brett can't tell if the mournful and reluctant look on Wyatt's face was because Brett instantly stopped laughing or because Wyatt didn't get to use his precious Grimoire.

He finds he doesn't really want to.

He's starting to forget things, too. At first he didn't really notice, just wondered why his wrists and ankles would ache, but chalked it up to malnutrition, promising himself he'd eat the next day. He'd tell—Marcus? Tobias? Elias?—during…lunch, maybe, and—after the first four times—he'd taken the hint, and told the cook to make something Brett could actually keep down, and then the aching stopped by the next morning.

The first time he saw the bruises scared him shitless, though. He'd wanted to take a shower so, as he turned the knob to get the hot water started in his double headed shower—Brett still shudders at that particular Wyatt implication—he'd taken his robe off and found hand-shaped bruises adorning his wrists, hips and ankles. Winded, he fell backward, landing on his ass and irrationally furious and shocked and really, really fucking scared, cursing at himself for not eating and becoming so weak as angry tears fell.

Later, he'd asked—Victor? Ethan? Warrick?—about them only to have the man nearly drop the silver tray of food on the bedside table, back ramrod straight before rigidly whispering "You were having nightmares," before briskly walking out of the room. Brett never asked again, deciding that if he could trust anyone in this building—which he didn't. Not really.—it was—Nathaniel? Brian? Alexander?—and that was it. Eventually, he realized that whenever those bruises would appear—Daniel? Bryce? Jonathan?—would get this cautious, emotional—almost pitying look on his face and it felt like Brett's stomach dropped, only he was still horizontal.

He crossed that out though, and just marked—Ryan? Lucas? Andrew?—as an idiotic, judging asshole because, some days, he'd still look at Brett like that even if he was bruise-free.

Those days Brett just scowled.


He woke up with Wyatt in his room once.

In his bed.

He remembers feeling deep, scorching breath beside his ear and a heavy arm nearly pinning him where his chest met his abdomen in almost comforting position. He remembers later laughing at the thought because there was a time where he thought the words "comfort" and "Wyatt" were mutually exclusive, an oxymoron of course, and, by all means antonyms.

Either way, Brett was so fucking scare he almost blew Wyatt to Mecca with his newfound Coronation powers. Two seconds of coherency, a decreasing heart-beat, one steadying breathing pattern, and a loud drumming in his ear later, Brett came to; slowly recognizing where he was and who he was with.

And did it anyway.

Later, Wyatt caught him between a surprisingly sudden lunch—he'd only ever truly felt hungry on one of those days—and Brett remembers mentally laughing as Wyatt valiantly tried to stop himself from showing how agitated he truly was while asking,

"Was it completely necessary sending me to the Middle East in ashes?"

Brett already had his mouth open, sarcasm and barbs dripping from their toxicity, before he felt some weird, inexplicable reason not to fire them at all: a weird feeling not unlike guilt.

Which would be dumb because it's not like he asked Wyatt to come into his room and molest him while he was sleeping. He should be angry, right? Furious?

Instead, "I…I'm sorry."


"What's…what's wrong with him?"

"To be fully honest, I don't quite know, Sir. We—I believe there might be a dilemma of some sort concerning his psychic powers. Sometimes he'll just—"

"This happened before? And I wasn't informed!

"Your Majesty—"

"Get out."

"But…Sir—"

"I said 'GET OUT!' All of you!"

Sounds of feet shuffling, claws scraping against carpet, and the creak of a door opening.

The smell of sulfur and dust.

Ash.

Movements awkward, joints moving with uncertainty; fear.

Pain.

Voice low; hushed and less commanding.

Perplexed.

"It's okay. Shh. It's…it's going to be okay, just…come here. Just…let me—stop moving. Here, let me—just relax, let me hold you. No, just—there, rest your back against me. Here, give me your hands. Just—there. Let it out.

"It'll be fine. You'll be fine." Softer, "I promise you."

Then, "I thought I told you to leave."

"…I—I apologize, Sir. I've just made it a habit of sitting with him until he stops and falls asleep; healing him in the morning. I just assumed…"

"…Go home." Pause. "…I'll…"

"…Sir?"

"If you…should anyone…" Pauses. "I wouldn't kill you."

Swallows. "Understood, Sir."


Wyatt doesn't visit him often; a blessing he thanks whatever fucked up Gods are left for that small (infinitely momentous) miracle. His only regret is that Wyatt visits at all.

Well…not only.

Still.

And then there was that week that Wyatt himself—not his guards, not his General-of-the-Month, not a certain British butler, but the actual—in color, shape, and form—Wyatt himself—"stopped by" every six or so hours.

The first day it happened, Brett was so shocked he let a whole thirty milli-seconds pass before very eloquently requesting (screaming so loud that the entire floor must have heard. They did—he later learned—at least, according to—by now he secretly named the guy and only for the sake of his sanity—Giles. Then he laughed.) Wyatt to fuck off and leave him alone.

Surprisingly, Wyatt did. Just passively stared at him for a couple of seconds; at the proverbial snarl, teeth bared, eyes full of anger and frustration and hatred with just a hint of self-disgust, before jutting his chiseled chin out and snorting. Brett flinched at how he must have looked: half naked on a too-suggestively large bed with black satin sheets, looking like a refugee from a "Titanic" screening—except, you know, a boy—eyes bright with unshed tears borne of injustice and revenge.

Looking back, though, Brett thinks he could (should) kick himself.

Repeatedly, and at different times.

And wonders when exactly he became a girl.

It didn't really matter, though, as the door not quite slammed in Wyatt's wake, jostling Brett out of his reverie.

Brett took that as a victory, though—his first in very few—and congratulated himself for erupting in only sixteen milli-seconds the rest of the week.


"My name is Rupert, actually," he says, grinning. "Because, despite how 'You there!' seems to be quite the obvious guess, that hardly makes it correct."

Brett snorted (part of him laughing at the reference). "Not that anyone else around here bothered to notice."

"Your self included?" he asked, an eyebrow raised, and Brett did his best to hide his blush.

"Honestly, however, you'd be surprised to find that most do, actually. Even the demons, barring the guards, of course—although…well, they are guards, after all—I naturally assumed stoicism would be a welcome attribute in there case."

Pause. Diverted eyes frantically running from studious ones.

"You'd know that, too, had you actually taken a step out of this—"

"—Heh, prison cell?"

"…Cave."

Brett's fingers stop pulling on the un-drawn curtains. It's hard for him to find his seat.

"He…is concerned for you. He worries about you. Cares for you. He—"

Brett's eyebrows tighten, but whether it's out of betrayal or shock, he doesn't know.

"Stop it," he swallows, thickly, but his words are soft and he doesn't know if he was heard.

"I…believe that—and…if this has any value to you—"

"—It doesn't—"

"—That Master Wyatt, though—admittedly—hasn't the best of character, harbors a genuine…affection for you, that he—"

"—Do you have any family, Rupert?" His voice is cold and alien—not his—but he's speaking with it; cutting his insides like rusted blades.

Surprised. "Um…why…er, why, yes, in fact. My wife, Jenna, and two little girls."

"Then…then you could imagine what it would feel like to…to know that they d— They got hurt and you were— And that— That even though the murderer—the one who should be responsible for the whole goddamn thing—is just sitting there, enjoying his veal fucking Vitello alla Parmigiano, not feeling a goddamn thing, while knowing that some part—not matter how small you wish it could be—of that guilt fell on your shoulders…then…then you should…you can…you—"

His voice catches in his throat and he can't look at the man beside him and see the compassion there; the pity.

It's blinding, demanding, and it tastes like broken glass.

When the other speaks, his voice is soft and Brett feels the itch of ice dancing across his fingertips.

"Oh, ducks—"

Eyes cutting, flashing.

Disgusted.

He wonders if Wyatt would mind finding a replacement.

Their first job would be getting rid of the shattered pieces before they melted.

His voice is venomous, but his eyes can't seem to stop being wet.

"Then, ask me," he breathes, glaring. "Again. Ask me then how I couldn't—can't—and not feel that same self-ha— That same way."

Pause.

Voice thick, hand heavy, but so warm on his wracking shoulder.

He feels patronized by it. Insulted.

It burns.

But he doesn't pull away.

He fears he's forgotten how.

"Sometimes, in life, we find ourselves…lost. That, somehow, we've suddenly taken the road less traveled and have no explanation as to how or why we ended up at that precise location."

Such strong blue eyes. And…there. That spark.

Safety.

"There's…there is no shame in not wanting to find our way back alone."

There's a pause and Brett doesn't know how many minutes pass by. The hand is scorching his skin through his shirt, but he still refuses to look up.

The bell chimes and it's Twelve o'clock. He can feel the man's eyes on his back.

"I have to go," he says, and Brett lets out a breath, but whether it's out of relief or envy, he can't say. "Tomorrow is a Sunday so that means I won't—"

Brett's grin isn't a smile, but a strange parody of one. "You'll be gone till Tuesday. I know."

Feet shuffle and the door can be heard opening. There's a pause, but Brett finds the tiles of his floor very interesting.

When the other man talks, his voice is soft and—for once—surprisingly uncertain.

"I told you my name—Rupert—I didn't lie about that, but, well…I'd rather you'd call me by what the people I care about call me, what my friends call me."

There's a pause and Brett knows this is too cliché.

"What my family calls me."

He smirks, and it's scary. Even to him. "And what's that?"

He only smiles genuinely in return. "Alden. Call me Alden."


Special thanks to Teal-lover, Raven01uk, and Vampiric Kitten.