A/N First things first, in case anybody is freaking out...yes, this story will be focussed around Riff and Cassian but I am not slashing them together, in any way, shape or form. As mentioned, the pairings are RiffxCain and CassianxJizabel. Both are important to the plot, although there will be more of the former than the latter to start with.
Secondly.....hello! At last, here this story is. It's been in the works for a while and I am excited to get it started. To those of you who have grown used to my JizabelxCassian fics, expect a more angsty and unstable Cassian than usual. To those of you who like my older CainxRiff fics and have been waiting for an update forever...I'm sorry for keeping you so long! I recently fell back in love with the pairing.
Warning: This story takes place AFTER volume 8 so if you haven't read to the end of the series, this will spoil it for you. The rating of this fic will elevate in later chapters.
Note: I am taking a lot of liberties with this, Ms Yuki never told us how deadly dolls really work, nor much about the inner workings of Delilah. I am going out on a limb but have tried to keep it believable.
DISCLAIMER: The Cain Saga belongs to Kaori Yuki and her publishers. I am making no money from this story. This story inspired by a great variety of songs by Poets of the Fall – lyrics at the start of this chapter from 'Desire'.
A false sincerity,
A liar and a thief,
My pulse and memory,
A comfort within grief.
His dreams were cold. Cold and dark and deep.
He felt as though he was swimming through an icy lake, the pressure of the water pushing in on him from all sides at once, taking his breath and crushing all his movements. Half-formed shapes swam in and out of his vision, silvery-grey and distorted. He saw corridors, endless corridors and winding stairs. Faces appeared before him to vanish before he could recognise them, eyes wide with fear and mouths open in silent yet agonising moans. He could taste blood in his mouth, the metallic bitterness coating his tongue and teeth like oil.
Suddenly, one face became prominent in his vision, appearing sharper and more defined than the other apparitions that plagued him. This face was young and beautiful, and it was smiling strangely despite all the chaos around it. As he focussed, the eyes of the face before him became suddenly crystal clear and he was faced with a pair of golden eyes, filled with some inner light that fought the darkness and the cold surrounding them.
Staring at the golden eyes in the vast sea of oblivion, he felt a sudden thrill of fear and thrashed around, trying to surface. There was somewhere he had to be. Someone he had to be with.
Riff's eyes slammed open and he jerked as though trying to sit up but fell back again quickly. There was a great splashing noise and Riff realised he must be lying in some kind of liquid; he could feel it lapping around his shoulders and feet. He stared wildly in front of him and saw a high vaulted ceiling shrouded in darkness and hung with cobwebs. Looking to the sides, he saw that he was lying in some kind of metal container that prevented him from seeing what sort of place he was in. He tried to move his arms frantically but found them to be secured to the bottom of the container by his wrists and the same for his feet by the ankles. He raised his head a little but could barely move that either, since whenever he tried a wave of nausea and disorientation swept over him.
Panic seized a hold over him and he began to thrash about wildly. He had to get out of this place, wherever it was. He didn't remember why, but he knew he had to find Cain as soon as possible. Accepting that he couldn't pull himself free, Riff tried another course of action.
"Lord Cain!" he called again, voice hoarse and cracked. In the silence that immediately followed his cry, Riff heard a short, scornful laugh echo around the room. The quality of the light changed as though someone was walking past a lamp or candle that helped to light the room.
"Honestly," someone said in a soft and dangerous voice. "I had been wondering whether that was the first thing you would say when you woke up but for it to actually happen...it's so cliché."
"Where is he?" Riff asked, beginning to thrash again in his efforts to see the speaker. "I have to see him!"
Another laugh, followed by "Oh, I don't think you'd want to see him right now, not as he is. Trust me on this."
The light shifted some more as the speaker circled the container and Riff could feel hidden eyes watching him carefully. He pulled against his restraints until he felt them cutting into his skin, but his usual strength was not there and he felt weak and drained.
"Stop that," the speaker said sharply, tapping on the side of the container which gave a metallic tang. "You'll damage yourself if you keep that up."
Riff grudgingly stopped his thrashing and strained to see the speaker, which was when he finally got a look at himself. He was naked, lying in a metal container just large enough for him to lie in without touching the sides. The container was filled with liquid which splashed as he moved. It felt heavier than water, thicker, as though it was resisting moving aside when Riff moved his fingers. A splash of liquid had landed o his bare chest while he had been thrashing and was now slowly trickling down his side and back into the container. In the flickering, dim light of the room, it left a black smear.
Eyes widening, Riff felt fear sweep through him. What kind of place was this? What had happened to him? He tried to remember how he had arrived here but his memory was dark and clouded and he found it difficult to distinguish between recent memories and those from a long time past.
"Don't look like that," the speaker said suddenly, breaking through Riff's thoughts. "Yes, it's blood. Don't do anything stupid. It might be blood but without it, you wouldn't be hearing me right now. I didn't think you'd be so surprised, to be honest with you. It's not like it's your first time in one of these things now, is it? Though I guess it's less refined than you're used to. I'm not an engineer, after all."
The speaker finally came into Riff's view, leaning over the edge of the container by his feet. A handsome yet weary face looked back at him, with sharply defined cheekbones and unruly brown hair that was slightly too long to be acceptable in society. The speaker's eyes were sharp and glittered with a disconcerting intensity as he watched Riff. One of the hands curling over the lip of the tub had a thin scar running across the back.
"I know your face," Riff said with difficulty, battling with the tangled mess of his memories and failing to find a name. "Who are you? What have you done to me?"
The man smiled without humour and clicked his tongue. "You are in no position to be questioning me...but I will answer you. In time. First of all, I have to make a few checks. What's your name?"
"Riff," the pale-haired butler answered promptly, if suspiciously. "Riff Raffit."
"Good," the man replied. "Your memories seem to be coming back fine. You should be feeling a little confused right now, but that will wear off. What's the last thing you remember?"
Riff frowned and closed his eyes in order to access his memories more effectively. Despite his fear, he felt it best to comply with this man's wishes, at least until he knew what was going on. Something in the strangers eyes wasn't right, he looked unstable but not evil or malicious. As Riff fought against the sea of jumbled memories, one swam to the surface. He could see a carriage. Beside the carriage there stood a slender man with silvery hair. Behind him was...
"I remember betraying Lord Cain," he said in a stricken voice. "I...no, I remember Riffael betraying Lord Cain."
"Well done," the stranger said, urging him on. "What else?"
"It...it's muddled after that. There are glimpses of...people. People wearing masks. Blood. A balcony..." He nodded to himself as things became clearer. "I remember meeting Lord Cain again. My arm..." He glanced down at himself to see his arm in perfect working order, not the skeletal horror his memory was showing him. "How..."
"What next?" The speaker urged. "Don't get distracted."
Riff closed his eyes again. "I fell," he said slowly. "I fell and...the doctor was there. He was injured, but...he gave his life to give me more time." Riff shuddered at the memory of warm blood covering his face and upper body. "Then...someone carried him away. They-"
In his mind's eye, Riff saw a pale hand clutching onto the doctor, a pale hand with a small scar running down the back. His eyes slammed open again and he saw the speaker smiling at him in amusement.
"You were there," he said in an accusatory tone. "Who are you?"
"I'm glad you remember me, Riff," the man said slowly. "But who I am doesn't matter. I'm not important. Carry on telling me what happened."
Riff narrowed his eyes suspiciously but did as he was told.
"I went to find Cain. He was by himself like he was as a child. We...the building!" he cried suddenly. "The building began to collapse! The window smashed and...we...we..."
The man at the end of the container nodded. "Yes. You died. Well done, it appears you remember everything, and not just your own memories, am I right? You seem to remember Riffael's actions too. Excellent."
He moved around the container until he was standing directly beside Riff, looking down into his face.
"Time to answer one of your questions. What have I done to you? I suppose you've figured that out by now, right? You're a smart guy Riff. I brought you back from the dead."
"How?" Riff asked shakily, wishing that this was all just a strange hallucination but knowing that it was the truth. He could remember the pain of the glass entering his body and the darkness clouding his vision. He became suddenly angry. "If you brought me back, where is Lord Cain? Why isn't he here too?"
The man bit his lip for a moment before replying. "It's complicated. I didn't know if I could to do it, to tell you the truth. You've been a deadly doll for years yes? Even though you didn't know it. You've been dead for a long time, whether you like it or not. Because of that, it wasn't too difficult to bring you back. But the Earl..." His eyes lit up with sudden inspiration. "Okay, think of it like this. Think of a clock. When the clock is built, the clockmaker needs to make sure every gear and every cog is the right size and in just the right position. Without a detailed plan or experience, he could not make that clock work. Now, imagine you're given a clock that's already been built but has simply run down. All you need to do to make that one work is find the key to wind it back up again. You follow?"
Riff nodded shakily. "You found the key to wind me back up?" he said slowly.
"Well, not literally, but that's pretty much it," he replied. "The Earl on the other hand, is like a whole pile of gears and cogs without a plan to follow. I don't know how to bring him back," he paused and turned suddenly serious eyes on Riff. "But I can find out," he said softly. "With your help, I can bring your beloved Earl back for you. Will you help me?"
Riff's eyes widened and he lay still for a moment, mind whirling. He was utterly confused and lost upon a sea of emotions. He was suspicious and disbelieving of the whole situation, half convinced he was dreaming but he was also terrified for his safety and that of his master. Cain...if this man was speaking the truth, could Cain be brought back from the dead? Riff felt a vague surge of hope within him and then frowned again. Would that be the right thing to do, after all?
The whole situation was insane. He was lying in a pool of blood of unknown origin, in a dark room that could be anywhere, with a person who could be practically anyone. Riff had no idea what to think, but the need to ensure Cain's safety cut through every other emotion.
"I can see you need some time to think, huh?" the man said and clapped his hands, suddenly businesslike. "Okay, let's get you out of this thing. Don't move."
He reached into the container and swiftly released Riff from his restraints, soaking his forearms in blood. Next, Riff felt a sharp stab of pain from his inner thigh and looked down in shock. The man withdrew his arm from the horrifying pool holding a small tube. Catching Riff's questioning gaze, he shrugged.
"They're used to pump the blood into your body and regenerate your cells," he said quickly. "It's just how they used to regenerate you before, except Delilah's machine was larger, faster, more efficient and allowed you to stand up. As I said, I'm not an engineer. I did the best I could."
Riff nodded and braced himself as at least six other tubes were pulled from various part of his body. The pain was sharp, but bearable. Once they had been removed, the man helped Riff climb out of the container and stagger over to a battered armchair which he sank into awkwardly.
The cold air of the room hit him in waves and he began shivering uncontrollably, his large frame wracked with tremors. The other man left him for a moment and he sat feeling very weak, scared and vulnerable, rivulets of blood running from his pale skin to soak into the fabric of the old armchair. He surveyed his surroundings to try to distract himself from the cold. The room was large and circular in shape, the ceiling high and the floor covered in tiles. The walls were lined with frayed and dusty curtains and the floor covered in old rugs and chairs along with a few tables. Every table top was covered in small gas lamps which illuminated the room just enough to see. Riff got the impression that the room had once been important and full of people, but had now been commandeered and taken over. As he thought this, the stranger returned from a corner of the room and handed Riff some blankets which he gladly wrapped himself in.
"Where are we?" he asked quietly.
"Delilah's headquarters," the stranger replied. "What's left of it. We're the only ones here now. Have you had enough time to think about my proposition yet?"
Riff shook his head nervously and opened his mouth to speak but was interrupted.
"Decide quickly. I can't hold on any longer, definitely not to wait for you to question your morals. It doesn't matter. If you don't make up your mind now, I have no use for you or the Earl." His eyes narrowed. "Neither of you will see the daylight again if you don't help me," he threatened.
Riff stalled a little longer, curiosity taking over. "How much time has passed?"
"It's been just over a year since the fall of Delilah. I can't wait any longer than this."
Riff gaped, mind reeling. A year? He had been dead for a year? He shook his head to rid sudden images of decay and waste, seeing instead the calm smile of his master just before the end, golden eyes shining with warmth and light...hope.
He bit his lip and nodded slowly. His captor was right, it didn't matter whether agreeing to revive Cain was right or wrong – a world without his master was a world that was not worth living in, and now he was breathing Riff did not want to lose his life again. He would be helping to turn Cain into a monster, he realised. But perhaps...perhaps he wouldn't mind. He was too young to be dead, too young to have no future. With this in mind, Riff nodded more confidently.
"I'll help you," he said slowly, "If you promise me that you won't be using my master for any further experiments. I would rather live without him than see him become a tool of Delilah."
The stranger laughed. "Of course. Riff, I'm not working for Delilah. Not anymore. They barely even exist anymore. And I promise that if we manage to revive the Earl, he's yours. If the procedure works, I won't need either of you anymore and you'll be free to go."
"Then why are you doing this?" Riff asked suspiciously.
"That's something that you don't need to know," the man said quietly and then held out a hand. "So, we agree? You'll help me?"
Riff nodded and took the bloodstained hand in his own. "What can I call you? I don't recall your name."
The man shrugged. "I doubt you ever heard my name more than once or twice. The first time we met...let's just say you wouldn't recognise me now. The last time, you were preoccupied by finding the Earl. Riffael wouldn't have known me either, I joined the organisation after he was sent to work for the Earl and had left by the time he returned. I told you, I'm unimportant."
"That may be," Riff said slowly. "But you brought me back and you're giving me a chance to save my master. That makes you very important, in my eyes. If I'm going to help you, I need to have a name to call you by."
A moment of silence passed and the man finally sighed and raised his hands in defeat.
"Fine. I planned on keeping everything secret but you know what? I think I can trust you. As long as I have Cain, you'll be loyal to be, won't you?"
Riff blanched at this unhappy truth. "I suppose I have to be."
"In that case, Riff," the man continued, standing up and taking a mocking bow. "You can call me Cassian. Are you ready to help me?"
The name struck a chord in his memory and he vaguely remembered Doctor Disraeli speaking it during his final moments. Riff knew that Cassia had saved him and was offering him a wonderful chance, but he was afraid. Cassian's eyes unnerved him, and the man seemed to fluctuate between emotions with unusual rapidity. And Riff still didn't know why Cassian was helping him. What was in it for him?
Pushing his doubts aside and focussing only on the memory of Cain's soft smile, Riff nodded.
"What do you need from me?" he asked.
A/N I hope that wasn't too confusing. This is somewhat of a mystery on Cassian's side, but you will find out everything soon enough. Please click that little green button and leave me a review! I want to know how you feel about this as a beginning, where you think it's going to go, whether you hated it, even! I just want to hear from you. I respond to all my reviews so you won't be ignored!
Oh, and final note: I WILL be finishing Sacrificial Lamb, I am just stuck on the damn last chapter at the moment.
Thanks for reading! 3