It was terribly, terribly cold.

That was the first thing that Spirit noticed as his eyes started to open, still hazy with sleep. He must have kicked the blankets off at some point during the night, he supposed. He groaned and attempted to reach for his duvet.

His hand, however, did not move, and his mouth emitted only a muffled sound.

His eyes sprung fully open in his shock. Desperately he tried to move his arms, only to discover they were somehow held in place by the wrists. It felt almost like something was holding him down, invasive but not painful, as he only felt a dull sensation in his arms of something piercing through flesh, between bones...pins? His movements grew more panicked and desperate. His legs also seemed to be stuck, the same vague feeling of metal going through his ankles, keeping him still. There were bloody pins crucifying him to the spot.

He tried to scream, but the sound was again muffled. It was only then that he became conscious of the rubber cylinder forced in his mouth as some sort of bit gag. He tried to chew through it; alas, it seemed the rubber wouldn't tear so easily. The thing filled his mouth, making it as difficult to breathe as it was impossible to speak, and was attached to...wherever it was he was now laying somehow, keeping the redhead's head strapped in place so he couldn't see his surroundings.

He continued writhing, attempting to release himself from the spot where he lay. He could see nothing but the ceiling, grey and drab and with suspicious stitches adorning it in an unpredictable pattern. There was no doubt in his mind as to where he was, or who had put him in this state. Just the sheer knowledge that...he has going to be looming over him at any moment made Spirit's heart rate double. He had to figure out how to escape, before it was too late-

"Hm? You woke up?" the smooth, slightly monotonous voice asked, a hint of confusion in the question. "I suppose you don't sleep as deeply as you did back when we were partners, do you?" Spirit could hear each slow footstep approaching him like torture. Perhaps it was purposeful, just to illicit greater horror; whether or not that was the intent of his captor, it chilled Spirit to the very core.

The man was still out of Spirit's peripheral vision when he stopped walking. The silence was broken only by the ragged sounds of the scythe's breathing.

It was then the man laughed. It was a small, slightly bemused laugh that in any other situation would have seemed pleasant, even mildly comforting. Now, however, the laughter meant only that the torment was soon to start. Tears welled up in Spirit's eyes as he listened to the sound of the scientist taking a drag on his cigarette, unable to do anything but stare at the ceiling.

"I have to say," Stein said slowly, coming close enough that he could draw a scalpel through the air right through Spirit's line of sight, "it will be interesting opening you up while you're awake for once. I'm certainly glad I applied anesthetic." He chuckled again, blowing a small cloud of smoke over Spirit's face. "I used to think you wouldn't even wake up if I did it with nothing in your system!

"Now, let's get started here, shall we?" Stein said, his voice still cheery, but a tad softer and more serious. Spirit could hear the soft sound of blades scraping slightly against their tray as they were picked up, and he braced himself for the feeling of metal against his bare torso. He was surprised to feel a warm hand against his chest instead. He could barely feel the pressure of the hand-an affect of the general anesthetic he had been put under while still asleep before he had been moved to the man-sized dissecting pan-but the warmth was very definite.

He had never thought Stein would be warm.

"Today we're going to be examining the abdominopelvic cavity of a living weapon. Move down the sternum to the bottom of the ribcage, then proceed with cutting through the skin and muscle without damaging the material underneath..." Stein was muttering, going through the procedure as if he were instructing a class. The calmness of his voice and the warmth of his skin made it so that Spirit barely noticed as a scalpel slid into his flesh. The scalpel moved slowly but cleanly through Spirit's skin, feeling less like slicing and more like a finger stroking down his stomach. Spirit wasn't sure whether to feel more horrified by the inappropriate pleasure of the experience, or if he should just go along with it and attempt to think of the entire nightmare being an entirely different type of dream. He was about to settle on disassociating with his current predicament when he felt the pressure tugging at the top of his pajama bottoms, threatening to remove what little decency he had left.

A good amount of his shriek made it past the ball gag, and something of a growl came from Stein's lips.

"Please do try to be quiet," he said, and Spirit distinctly felt his trousers being tugged down several inches. "You'll miss out on the lecture. This is quite the opportunity for you to learn, you should know." The annoyance then dropped from his voice as he continued, "the first cut extends from chest to groin, followed by two more cuts from each shoulder to the start of the first incision." The pressure of the blade traced the lines smoothly, forming perfectly symmetrical cuts, before Stein put down the scalpel and peered into Spirit's face.

"You're doing alright?" he asked, cigarette hanging loosely from his mouth. Spirit attempted to make some sort of response which neither he nor Stein could tell if it was of protest or request. Stein smiled.

"Good," he said, moving so his face was again out of view. Spirit felt the hand running over him again, though it was now softer, as if covered in a cloth.

"With a dead specimen, there is no bleeding. However, as you are alive, there is...some blood flow. Nothing of too major concern, however." Stein's hand extended over Spirit's face, dangling his signature cross tie over him, now smeared red with blood. "As you can see, it isn't too severe, so we shall continue with the operation.

"We now pull back the flesh of the subject so that we can proceed to look at the contents of the abdominal cavity," Stein said, and Spirit swore he could hear sadistic glee in the man's otherwise calm narration. The feeling of having his skin pulled back was utterly violating, and the redhead couldn't help but squirm. Stein clicked his tongue. "Now now, be a good specimen."

Spirit felt an odd tugging in his gut, and was unsure whether or not to be grateful that he couldn't move his head. He imagined he must look horrifying, opened up, having his intestines gently pulled out and handled by the monster with the scalpel. No, that wasn't the right word for it. The sensations were dulled from the anesthetic, but there was no doubt about it; Stein was fondling, nearly caressing his insides as he pulled them slowly and carefully from Spirit s abdominal cavity.

Why on earth was this idea vaguely appealing?

"This," Stein continued, his voice emotionless, "is the small intestine. It's all coiled up inside of you, and yet three times your height in length..." He paused, and then added a voice that seemed strangely friendly for the situation, "Would you like to see what it looks like?"

Spirit didn't even attempt to respond. His words would have been pointless; they would either muffled by the gag or silenced by the tightness in his throat, and he doubted his answer would affect Stein's actions in the least. Even if he could have said something, though, he honestly wasn't sure what it would be. The state he was in seemed to be provoking a morbid curiosity he never realized he had, as well as the other strange emotions fluttering around his partially-exposed stomach. Stein peered into his silent face with a cheery, and not a tiny bit evil, glint in his eyes.

"Your expression says that you'd like to, from what I can tell," he said, not letting any emotion slip into his monotone as he slowly pulled up the long, pink organ into Spirit's line of sight. It was a bizarre, surreal feeling, seeing his insides outside of him, but not as frightening as he thought it would be. His midsection was a tad uncomfortable at the tugging, but it was somewhat entrancing to watch the other man running his fingers over the flesh. What sort of dream was this?

A tiny sound came from his throat; it may have been a subconscious sob at seeing himself so torn apart, but to both his and Stein's ears, it sounded more like a moan. Stein's eyebrows raised ever-so-slightly before he gently replaced the organ, coiling it carefully back into place.

"We'll move on then," he said, pushing his hand slowly into the cavity. Spirit winced at the squelching sound of organs and the strange, grotesque feeling of having a foreign object poking around inside of him.

Inside of him. Why the hell was this not frightening him anymore? He was only terrified at his distinct lack of terror. After all, while it was a bizarre sensation, it wasn't painful...uncomfortable, of course, but not painful.

Stein started to list the various organs as he slowly stroked his fingers over them: large intestine, stomach, liver, pancreas. Spirit thought he could hear the doctor's voice getting slightly faster, slightly more excited. This thought just made him more uncomfortable. Did the excitement mean that something worse would happen? What if it meant that he wanted to take something out of him, put something into him...

No, Spirit. No. Do not think like that.

Stein seemed to notice the crimson spreading across Spirit's cheeks as he pulled his hands out and wiped them on his test subject's tie. "Are you alright? You aren't losing consciousness, are you?" Spirit thought he could see something resembling concern on the other man's face when he looked at it out of the corner of his eye. He tried his best to shake his head, but it was impossible. Stein smiled wearily.

"I suppose this has been a bit much for you, being awake for the first time..." That was definitely concern. Maybe even a touch of kindness? No, not Franken Stein. There was no way that demon could be worried for Spirit's well being...yet suddenly, there was a palm gently stroking Spirit's face.

"There was more I wanted to do tonight, but we'll get you sewn up for now. Maybe we can continue this another night," Stein said somewhat gently before turning to the wound. He started closing up the wounds, and Spirit couldn't help but think how unreal this all was. His heart was pounding. Some crazy, ridiculous part of him wanted this strange experience to continue. For something he had been terrified of for years, Stein and his operations were far more gentle and enjoyable than he could have ever imagined...

"Done," Stein said, suddenly smiling down at Spirit. "Perhaps tomorrow night we'll try seeing what happens if I surgically swap our right hands?"

That was a bit too much for Spirit's psyche. Eyes rolling back in his head, he passed out.

Spirit woke up, lying once more in his own bed. A dream? No, a nightmare. It couldn't have been a dream. Any emotions he had that said otherwise must have been lying. It had to have been a nightmare.

Staring at the thankfully non-stitched ceiling, he ran a hand over his torso. It would all be alrigh-

Sutures. Those were most definitely sutures over the fresh cut on his stomach. He looked down at the huge red Y covering his upper body, which was starting to feel a mild throbbing pain. So it hadn't been a dream...nightmare...

Dream?

Spirit curled up, tucking his knees up to his chest and hugging himself, wincing slightly with the pain. He was alone, away from the monster, and yet all he could think was how miserable it was that he had just been dumped back where he had been found when the doctor had had his fun. Alone, that was the operative word. He really was alone...

It was terribly, terribly cold.