Title: Sleep For Days
Author: RiseAgainPhoenix (.com)
Warnings: spoilers for eps 3 through 4
Summary: Jonty sees Ross at night, dreams vengeance, breathes death. Rated PG, 1248 words.
Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with this television show, make no profit and intend no harm with this piece of fiction
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Jonty gives in on the third night.
The first two times he sees Ross, he manages to control himself, manages to keep from leaping out of their bed (his bed, not theirs any longer, just his alone, his alone until the day he joins Ross in the dirt) to embrace the hallucination. Because that's what it mus be, an hallucination, nothing more. Ross is dead and Jonty doesn't believe in ghosts, isn't sure he believes there's such a thing as souls even, and doesn't think Ross's soul would stay behind for him even if they exist.
The first two nights, the pale image of Ross hovers by their window (his window) and says nothing, stares evenly at Jonty who stares sleeplessly back until sunrise.
But the third night, Jonty is worn out from a day spent reassuring various members of the faculty and the Dandelion Club that he's alright, really; he's worn out from keeping his burning eyes open and forcing food into his mouth when everything tastes like ash. He's worn out and his defences are worn thin, and when Ross appears again Jonty can't help himself—he calls out to the spectre.
The instant Ross's name escapes his lips, the vision moves from its spot by the window and approaches the bed. It looks like Ross—oh god, it looks just like Ross and its voice sounds like Ross and it even smells like Ross. It smells like sweat and wet earth and water from the river, and its fingers feel cold and real when it runs them gently across Jonty's brow. Jonty closes his eyes. He still can't sleep, but at least it hurts a bit less when he breathes.
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If Jonty eats less than he should, he also takes to drinking more than he should. He gulps down Dorian's cheap wine without thinking, relishing the way it makes his stomach turn. He drinks until he vomits, then drinks some more.
Dorian looks on with concern, but there's nothing he can say and they've never been ones to discuss their feelings anyway. They're Dandelions, nothing can touch them—not despair nor sorrow nor abusive fathers nor the end of the world. Jonty drinks and drinks and the most Dorian can do for him is make sure he ends up safely back in his rooms when he passes out from alcohol poisoning.
Jonty's not always sure he wants to be back in his rooms. Ross's ghost is always there, or Jonty's memory of Ross or his psychotic manifestation of the image of Ross, or whatever—whatever it is, it's always there, smoothing sweat-soaked hair off Jonty's fevered forehead and pressing blue lips to Jonty's cheek. The ice of Ross's dead touch feels remarkably good against the fires raging throughout Jonty's body.
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Sometimes, Jonty allows himself to indulge in the delusion that it really is Ross's ghost, come back from the great beyond to care for him. It's an indulgence Jonty doesn't deserve, because it's his fault Ross is dead in the first place. He failed to protect him, failed to see what was happening under his very nose, continues to fail in his quest for vengeance because he can't figure out what they're doing, Maltravers and Cooper and the whole rotten lot of them.
Jonty stays shut up in his rooms—their rooms—for hours, poring obsessively over the hourglass he retrieved from beneath Ross's skin. He studies blueprints of the faculty's offices and any bit of paper he can filch from Maltervers' chambers on midnight raids. He doesn't see the sun or any other living being for days on end, tells Dorian to sod off when he comes pounding on his door demanding to know what the hell is going on.
Jonty can't make heads or tails of the mystery, can't figure out what they did to Ross or how to make them pay for it. He trashes his desk in disgust, sweeping his work off it with frantic arms, throws his wine glasses onto the floor and cuts himself on the shards.
At that, Ross appears. Ross doesn't like to show during the day but Jonty's not sure if it's day anymore, time has a funny way of slipping through his brain now that he no longer rests or eats or leaves his rooms. Ross appears with a towel in his non-existent hands somehow, presses it against the dozens of tiny scratches in Jonty's palms, feels solid under Jonty's fist and doesn't flinch when Jonty hits him, hard. He takes the blow and nurses Jonty's hand when the punch reopens the cuts.
Jonty wants this ghost-memory of Ross to get angry at him, to hit him back or say sharp words, to hurt him. If only this Ross would be unkind to him, then he would be reminded that this isn't real. The real Ross, the one who'd lived and died, had never once treated Jonty roughly. He had always handled Jonty as if he were the finest china, with careful hands and soft eyes and an even softer mouth. He hand taken off his jacket and placed it around Jonty's thin, delicate shoulders when it rained outside.
But this false hallucination plays the part of Ross perfectly. Jonty strikes out at it, but it doesn't retaliate. He, or it, or he—Jonty doesn't know anymore—he wraps strong rower's arms around Jonty and waits for Jonty's desperate, violent turn to subside. And when it does, this Ross threads careful fingers around the bones of Jonty's porcelain hands and leads him to bed, lays him down and bids him to sleep.
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When Jonty opens his eyes again, his room has been tidied up.
Dorian must have picked the lock open; he's clever with things like that. He must've let the cleaning lady in. the broken glass is gone, all the papers flung across the floor are now in neat stacks on his desk. There is a pitcher of water and a tray of food on his nightstand, and no wine.
Jonty sits up gingerly.
Ross is by the window, in his customary spot. He manages a small, sad smile when he sees Jonty looking at him.
"You're going to drive me mad, you know," Jonty says conversationally as he pours himself a glass of water.
"How so?" Ross asks, and his voice sounds like the water Jonty is drinking, like the water in which Jonty had laid his corpes to rest.
Jonty puts his glass down unfinished. "Either you're a figment of my neurosis, and talking to you like this just reinforces my break from sanity…"
Ross pouts at him and glides soundlessly closer. He doesn't like it when Jonty implies he's not real.
"Or you really are the ghost of my dead lover, and your presence reminds me daily of my inability to look after or avenge you," Jonty continues. He allows Ross to sit beside him on their bed.
"I'm sorry I make you sad," Ross says, sounding genuine. He always sounds genuine.
"Nevermind that," Jonty says, patting Ross's hand and sounding almost cheerful for the first time in weeks. "I expect it'll all work out soon."
He's not too worried about the health of his mortal mind anymore, because he shan't be needing it for too much longer. He just has one more thing to do: he just needs to see to Maltravers and company, and then he'll be joining Ross forthwith.
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