A/N: Idea came to me and won't let go. Post-Not About You. Might need reference to Chapter 17 on Random Acts of Bleachness for greater understanding. Dark(?)
Wake Me When It's Over
Gavin jerked awake. He was again curled into a fetal position, his fists clenched, shirt wet, shivering with remnant fear.
Fifth time this week. What's wrong with me? Gavin slowly unfolded himself and sat up. He buried his face in his hands, wishing to forget his nightmare. He wished Adrien was there with him: Adrien with his warm hands, low, rich voice, soothing kisses and gentle brown eyes. But his lover was away on a conference, and Gavin had to come up with the final piece for his latest collection. The date of the exhibition was drawing close, and what he had believed was the central concept was no longer as good as he had hoped it was.
"I need a drink," he muttered to himself. The digital horological display by the bed showed that it was three in the morning. Too fucking early to call him. Dammit.
The house was too large, Gavin reflected, though it was exactly the right size when Adrien was around. His footfalls were too loud, the air was too chilly, and the emptiness too resounding. The nightmare coiled about him, refusing to leave. Even the water was nauseating. He sat down heavily and shook his silver head of hair.
Blood on his hands, and a sword, and dead bodies, and death. Too much death. Gavin let his head roll back. He wanted, he needed a clear mind, and all these nightmares were not helping him. They had been plaguing him for months now, though never as severely as this, and only since...
"Since we moved in," Gavin muttered to himself, spooked. "Into this house."
The crunch of gravel outside the house startled Gavin from his thoughts. He jumped out of his chair and hurried to the door. As he opened it, he saw Adrien thanking the cab driver and pulling his luggage from the trunk.
"Gavin!" Adrien said delightedly, "I was hoping to give you a surprise in the morning – I didn't think you'd be awake." He dropped his duffel bag on the porch and hugged Gavin. "I missed you terribly."
"Me too," murmured Gavin, clutching broad shoulders tightly. Even the older male's accent was tantalizing. "Now get on inside and show me what exactly you missed about me."
Adrien stroked Gavin's long silver hair from his pale face. In the short two weeks he had been away Gavin had thinned considerably. His cheekbones were sharper, his fingers more slender, bonier, and Adrien could see his ribs when they made love earlier.
It worried him.
Gavin's lashes fluttered and he opened his green-blue eyes sleepily. He smiled at his older lover and pushed the stray lock of brown hair from Adrien's face. "That was good," he mumbled contentedly and curled against Adrien. "We gotta do it again."
"Have you been eating regularly, Gavin?" asked Adrien, kissing the slim man in his embrace. "You're far too thin."
"Way to change the subject."
"Answer me, love."
Gavin sighed. "I've just not been sleeping well," he said, glossing over the real facts. "I'm eating as much as I usually do. And stop treating me like a child – I'm only six years your junior."
"I'm sorry," muttered Adrien contritely.
Gavin pressed his mouth to Adrien's. "It's all right. You're just concerned. Anyway, I sleep better when you're around."
"Then sleep, love. I'll watch over you."
"It's not working, is it?" said Lisa. She tilted her head. "There's something lacking in this collection, Gavin. This isn't your usual standard." She clicked through yet another folder. "I thought your central piece was gonna be the Jumping Man."
"I know, I know," said Gavin, resigned. "I changed my mind. The Jumping Man isn't what I really wanted this collection to showcase, y'know? It's not – it ain't enough. It doesn't have that, I don't know what the term is, but it just isn't it."
"Well honey, I hate to break it to you, but you gotta settle on your centerpiece asap. We've already booked the date and now you wanna switch themes?"
Gavin kneaded his temples. "Lisa, I get it. But the other pieces are okay, right?"
"Yes, yes. I'll get the flowers sorted – you wanted calla lilies, right? - and the guest list is seventy percent confirmed. I can still delay the invitations for about a fortnight. Gavin, sort it out. You have a month and a half left."
"I get that too. I'll see you soon, Lisa. You take care now."
"Will do. Give my love to Adrien."
Gavin shut off the videoconferencing window and got up. It was easy to just switch over to another piece in his installations, or stick to the statue he had thought would be the crowning jewel for this collection. The Jumping Man was good, certainly; Gavin had managed to capture a grace of motion as yet unseen in his earlier works.
It was good. But it was not great.
Adrien came over to Gavin's workstation. "Still fretting?"
"Yeah," said Gavin. "It's not working out, A. I'm... I'm stuck."
"Have a good rest, love, maybe that can help."
Gavin smiled. "That's a good idea. Wake me in an hour?"
A blade in his hand. He looked down at it, ignoring the silver hair that whipped into his eyes.
A tall, brawny redhead was crouched before him, panting heavily. The redhead was bleeding heavily. The redhead was about to die.
He pushed back his silver hair, smiled and drew back his blade. The redhead would die.
The blade sprang forward.
A girl stepped in front of the redhead. The girl looked familiar. The girl was stabbed. The girl died.
"No," gasped Gavin. He sat up, retching dryly. "No. no, I didn't mean to. I didn't, it was not me. I didn't do it, I didn't." He rocked slowly back and forth, tears streaming down his face.
"Gavin, you okay – oh God, love, why are you crying?" Adrien rushed in and cradled the younger man against himself.
"Not me, I didn't kill her. I didn't do it, Adrien, I didn't, I swear I didn't!"
"What? Who? Killed whom, Gavin?"
"I didn't kill her!" shrieked Gavin, fingers digging into Adrien's shirt. He was madly weeping now. "That wasn't me!"
Adrien hunkered down and wiped the tears away with his palms. "It was a dream, Gavin. It was just a dream-"
"IT FELT REAL!!" Gavin was panting now, heavy breaths mingled with sobs. "I did it! I LIKED doing it! I thought – the sword – it was mine, I stabbed her – I enjoyed it!"
"It wasn't you, it wasn't you, Gin, it was NOT you!"
Gavin went deathly still. He looked up at Adrien. "What did you call me?"
"I called you Gavin."
"No," said Gavin. He backed away from his lover. "You didn't call me that. You called me something else." He got off the bed and looked around wildly for a coat. "I gotta leave this house. I have to go. This place is driving me insane."
Adrien got up and took Gavin's hand. "Wait, you're not yourself."
"You've got that right," laughed Gavin, but the eyes were wild and lost. He tore his hand away from Adrien's "I don't know who I am. I don't know – I think – no. I know who I am. I am Gavin. I think. Who am I?"
Adrien held out his hands placatingly. "You are Gavin. Love, you need to breathe slowly, slow down-"
"No. no." Gavin's knees buckled. "I have to leave. I have to leave this house. I don't know – I have to leave now."
"Gavin, honey, please, breathe. You're gonna pass out if you don't relax-"
The silver-haired man stayed on the floor for a long moment, his face downcast. Then he slowly looked up, eyes haunted. Gavin stared at the brown-haired man. "You're not Adrien."
"Love, what are you talking about?"
"You're not Adrien," Gavin repeated. His vision swam. "This is wrong, this is all wrong..." The nausea rose along with blackness.
When sunlight hit Gavin full in the face the pale young man was disoriented. "Someone draw the curtains? Too fucking bright," he mumbled grouchily.
"I'm glad you're well enough to complain," said a low voice. Gavin rolled onto his back. Adrien sat beside him, resting against the seal-gray headboard. "You scared me terribly last night."
Gavin covered his eyes with a languorous hand. "What did I do?"
"You woke up from a nightmare, I think, and got very confused." Adrien carefully helped his lover sit up. "I think the stress of coming up with a new focus for your collection is getting to you, love."
"I didn't use to have nightmares," murmured Gavin. The recollection began to kick in. he shuddered and rested against Adrien's broad chest for comfort. "But for the past few months, I keep having the same few dreams. I can't get the images out of my head."
Adrien passed a glass of water to Gavin. "You want to talk about it?"
"I dunno. Not really. It's all violence and sex and deception and murder," Gavin said softly.
"In other words, a Hollywood neo-noir thriller."
Gavin was faintly amused. "Yeah, you can say that." He sipped the water. "But in my dreams, I'm always the same person, the one committing those crimes."
Patting Gavin's hand, Adrien asked, "Did you ever fantasize about doing those things?"
"Maybe it's your subconscious trying to rid you of your stress," suggested the dark-haired older man. "A kind of catharsis."
Gavin sighed. "I hope so. Speaking of which, I really need to go over my work again, find the central theme that can unite all the other pieces."
Adrien got off the bed. "I'll call Lisa, ask her to postpone the exhibit."
"No!" Gavin's forceful tone took Adrien by surprise. Gavin pushed himself off their king-sized mattress. "I promised that I will have this one out. Call Lisa. Tell her... tell her to use the Jumping Man."
Adrien studied Gavin, slender and strong-willed. "Alright. Breakfast is laid out. Go have something to eat." He hugged Gavin briefly before pulling out his phone to make the call.
Gavin's cheerful face fell as Adrien walked out of the room.
If he tells me I'm fine, I will believe him.
I have always believed him, and he has not let me down yet.
Little weights add up.
They add up, and one day, they crush the bearer.
"Adrien, honey, pass me the latest issue of GQ?" Gavin called out. "The one which I marked with Post-Its?
Obligingly, Adrien walked into the workroom where a number of steel and PVC pipes had been twisted or woven into a cage around a mannequin. He handed the magazine to the younger man.
"That is disturbing, Gavin," he remarked with a frown.
"It should be," said Gavin vaguely. "Art is meant to provoke a reaction."
Adrien shrugged. "Anyway, our landlord asks if we want to join them for a barbecue dinner tomorrow. Something about celebrating summer solstice."
"That's nice." Gavin flipped to the advertisement which showed the pose he needed the mannequin to stand in. "Tell Mr Urahara that we'll be there."
"Yeah, I'll let him know."
Gavin waited until Adrien left the room before he closed his eyes and counted to ten. And then he started to hold his breath... until he choked and began to weep.
Adrien looked as he always did: dignified, gentlemanly, suave. Gavin looked out of the car's window, unwilling to stare at the man driving. His throat was tight.
The house. That room. The cat which died... how old was it when it died?
When Adrien opened the door Gavin couldn't help his startled jerk. For a beat Gavin wondered what would happen if he just ran away from here – but where would he go? Where could he go?
Why would he go?
The older man must have sensed Gavin's odd feelings. "Gavin? You alright?" he asked in his crisp British accent.
"I'm fine," lied Gavin smoothly. "Just tired."
"Wash up and rest first, love," said Adrien.
"You're not sleeping?"
Adrien sighed and patted Gavin's head. "I just remembered that I've to dash off a reply to Professor Hu tonight. I'll be in bed soon, love."
The water was too hot, but Gavin always found steam soothing. Beads of condensation rolled down the surface of the mirror, revealing green-blue eyes in two wide streaks. With a damp hand Gavin rubbed across the fogged-up glass to see more clearly.
Gavin stared at his own face in the mirror. It was strange, how something you see every day could appear so alien. Gavin touched the long, narrow eyes, the thin lips, the sharp chin. Then he put his fingers to his own mouth, slid his digits along his lips and nudged the corners upwards, edging his mouth into a smile.
He let his hand fall from his face, and stared at the sinister, smiling mask grinning at him in the mirror. His eyes, never large, now slitted and snake-like; his pale face now death-white; his hair hanging past his eyes, further hiding the expression.
Not his face.
My face. His mask.
The smile vanished as Gavin smashed his fist into the center of the reflection.
"What were you thinking?" whispered Adrien, carefully extracting yet another sliver from the bleeding hand.
Gavin said nothing. He didn't even flinch as Adrien dabbed antiseptic on the cuts. The brown-eyed man wrapped Gavin's knuckles in gauze and then secured a bandage around it. He pushed back Gavin's hair from his face, struck by the empty and hollow gaze.
"I think I'm going mad, Adrien."
Adrien swallowed and cradled his lover into an embrace. "Come here, love." Once Gavin was resting in his arms, Adrien began stroking silver hair in a calming manner. "Gavin, you're not going mad. You're very, very sane. You're probably feeling too much pressure."
"Then why am I doing all these?" Gavin's harsh whisper was an accusation.
Adrien sighed. "I don't know. Maybe we really ought to move away from here, if being here gives you this much pressure. Maybe you're having difficulty adapting to a different culture, or maybe the lack of friends... I should never have accepted the post here."
"Or maybe," said Gavin, still as a statue, "this house is haunted, and I'm starting to hallucinate I am someone else."
"It's not haunted-"
"-the face I see in the mirror is not mine," said Gavin, still in the same even tone. "When I dream, I am the person in the mirror. When I wake, I can't remember what I look like anymore."
Adrien tightened his embrace. "You're overthinking this. We'll go on a holiday, a short break next weekend. You can't work with an injured hand anyway."
"You don't understand, Adrien, I am NOT overthinking it! I am someone else, someone who raped and killed and murdered without remorse, and, and died... I died, I died in this house... I died in this very room..."
"You are not dead, Gavin, you're here with me-"
"-I died, I died here, once, and then again, in another place...but similar..." Gavin raised his gaze, his voice a fascinated whisper"I died in your embrace, just like this. I died when you told me to. I obeyed you."
Adrien stared at his lover. "Gavin, I don't think I can be more worried about you than I am now."
The younger man curled into Adrien's chest. "No you can't. No you can't, Adrien, because I am mad." Slowly, like he had just seen a great joke, he began laughing.
And he couldn't stop.
When Adrien looked up from his seat, he saw Mr Urahara and Mr Kurosaki hurrying towards him. In the eight months since he and Gavin moved in, the two older men had been like parents to them in a strange land.
"What happened?" asked Mr Kurosaki in faltering English, his worry obvious in his intelligent brown eyes. "You said he was attacked-"
"-I said he attacked himself," interjected Adrien quietly, in his accented Japanese. "He tried... Gavin, he..."
Mr Urahara sat beside the younger man and patted his shoulder. "If you don't want to tell us, you don't have to." When Mr Kurosaki wanted to speak, the blond man shook his head.
Adrien swallowed and buried his face in his hands. "I was out. I went to buy lunch. When I came back he was – he had cut himself. In the chest. He said something about digging it out of his chest, that it didn't belong there... God, if I had been late, if I had been in the university..."
The two Japanese exchanged shocked glances. Mr Kurosaki covered his mouth. "Is he still in the operating theater?"
Adrien nodded. He could not trust himself to look at anyone now without breaking down. He did not know how much he could take.
I remember now. But do you remember me?
"Gavin? Gavin, you're awake," whispered Adrien. He cupped his lover's cheeks and touched their foreheads together. His dark hair fell over his eyes. "Thank God you are all right."
"You wanted to be God once." Green-blue eyes blinked tiredly at Adrien. "You could have. You gave up godhood, for me."
Adrien wanted to weep. "Gavin, what are you talking about? Gavin, love, stop scaring me, please. Come back to me."
A weak smile and a tender touch to the older man's mouth. "I did. But you forgot your promise."
The room was too empty, too cold, too sterile. Adrien's fingers trembled. "What promise?"
Ignoring the pain, I sat up and whispered against his ear. "You promised that we'll remember together."
His hands fell to the mattress and brushed over mine. "Gavin, what are you talking about? What promise?"
"I know who I am." I pressed my lips to his. "Know who you are. Feel who you are. Be who you are."
I remember now. But do you remember me?
"They've disappeared," said Kurosaki Ichigo, his captain's haori soaked through in the morning storm. His orange hair, flecked with gray, was still vivid, though it invited less trouble than it used to.
Urahara Kisuke frowned beneath his green and white striped hat. In all the intervening years, he had never altered his dress sense, though his bones felt the cold more easily now. "Adrien left his job at the university. Gavin never completed his commission for the LA gallery. The private investigator can't trace them leaving Japan."
"Did you try Soul Society?"
"Not even Yoruichi can find them," replied Urahara. "They've gone."
Ichigo lowered his gaze. "I hope they're safe."
Beneath them was the urban sprawl of Tokyo city, home to millions of souls.
And not two of those belonging to Adrien Bryce Emrick and Gavin Kent.