Summery: Break's abrupt regression into Kevin Regnard has everyone unsure what to do with him but with Liam awake again there's some chance of bringing Break back. That is, if Liam can stay on his feet long enough to do so. Post party.
Characters: Liam/Break, Gil, Sharon, Oz, Echo, Oscar, Vincent, Ada, Alice.
Comments: I wanted to write Kevin!Break. And murderous insanity. That is my only excuse.
There were voices, distant, unrecognizable, too far away to understand, but the tone was concerned, worried, nervous all mixed into the murmurs. It was apparently time to leave rest behind, something was happening, something was wrong.
Coming awake again was slow, like swimming gradually up through dark waters, until Liam could feel the sensation of lying on something soft and comfortable. The memory of the most recent time he had woken up like this snapped him the rest of the way awake, one arm raised to defend himself against the Bandersnatch. Something in his shoulder tore and he gave an involuntary hiss between his teeth.
A person leaned into his view and for a second he was back in the basement room of the mansion with the godawful, malicious little girl leaning over him. Gilbert would have gotten a completely reflexive fist to the face if Liam hadn't been in too much pain from whatever he'd done to his shoulder to do more than twitch his arm. His other hand went to his shoulder to find it newly bandaged under his shirt but bleeding. He must have torn it open.
Gilbert peered down at him intently, then when he saw Liam move his hand to his shoulder his face shifted into such relief it looked almost painful. "You're finally awake." he said, and then he leaned back and raised his voice to speak to someone else in the room. "He's awake!"
Suddenly several people were leaning in around the bed he was lying on crowding him in with their concerned and relived faces.
"Thank the Abyss, he really is awake," said Lord Oscar.
"You tore open your stitches," Lord Oz told him frankly.
"I think he already knows that." Miss Ada murmured.
"Blood all over again." muttered Alice. "You bleed a lot glasses man."
"Are you alright?" Gilbert asked.
"It doesn't matter if he is or not, Master Vincent will deal with it." said Echo, who had an almost annoyed expression on her face.
"Enough everyone," said Miss Sharon's voice, from farther away, "He'd only just woken, give him room."
That made those hovering over his guiltily back away, giving Liam room to breathe and space to see that Miss Sharon was standing by the fireplace. It the fireplace that did it, one look at it an he knew he was in one of the guest rooms in the Rainsworth mansion. How he had gotten there was something of a mystery, last he remembered he was lying in the grass by wide eyed Miss Ada -who probably been frightened out of her wits by Eques appearing with him- somewhere just off the grounds of Isla Yura's mansion.
Of the people gathered around his both Gilbert and Sharon were still in their party clothes, but others had apparently had time to change into clothes less torn and bloody. Except Lord Oscar, he hadn't been at the party, had he? At the moment Liam couldn't exactly remember.
How long had it been since then?
He went to sit up and immediately winced, it wasn't just his shoulder that was throbbing, his head was reminding him it had been hit very hard and several nasty gashes called painful attention to themselves. For the time being he gave up the attempt, slumping back onto the bed.
"You shouldn't try too move to much," Lord Oz said. "The doctor said you were not really supposed to try to do anything if- when you woke up."
"But, Oz," Gilbert frowned at him, "this is important, he needs to-"
"That's quite enough, Gilbert." Miss Sharon had already learned to snap her voice out like a verbal whip from her grandmother, who used the trick often when people were vexing her. "I'm going to have to ask all of you to leave now."
There were several protestations but they were cut off, Liam didn't have his glasses on so he couldn't see what sort of look Miss Sharon was giving to earn such instant obedience but it must have been formidable. "My servant." She told them firmly. "My problem."
The first response was from Lord Oscar who nodded. "Of course." he said, then turned to usher the others in the room out in front of him. At the door he turned back and told Miss Sharon, "Hurry. Vincent probably won't be able to hold him for long."
"I know." she said. "Keep Gilbert outside. We'll need help getting there."
"Of course." said Lord Oscar and he left, closing the door behind him.
Only then did Miss Sharon turn fully toward him, the entire time she had been keeping one side of her face toward the wall. There was a wound on her cheek, a neat slice from near the corner of her eye almost all the way down to her jaw.
"How did that happen?"
Her hand went up to touch the cut and she gave what he was fairly sure was a wry smile from the tone in her voice when she spoke. "It's something of a long story. I don't really think you'd believe me if I told you."
He frowned. "Why wouldn't I believe you?"
"You remember when we were little and Xerxes with with us on a walk? It was the time when we went in the forest and we fell into that poacher drop-fall?"
"I… remember." he said, not sure why it was important. It hadn't been a fun experience, he'd broken two rips and sprained a wrist on impact and Miss Sharon had broken her leg badly. If Xerxes hadn't managed to avoid fall in with them they would have been trapped for hours.
"And do you remember how Xerxes was when the poachers came back to check the trap? How he sort of… snapped?" her voice was carefully neutral, no emotion to hint at what she was getting to.
"Yes. He killed them. All of them." Those had been the days when Xrexes was just making the transition from Kevin Regnard to Xerxes Break and even then the sudden violence had been nothing either of he or Miss Sharon had expected. Break had killed the poachers with a knife he'd pulled from under his coat and there had been a rage on his face that would have seemed completely uncalled for except the poachers had been planning to quietly get rid if them, they had said so just before Xerxes had attacked them.
"Do you remember how even after they were dead he kept-" Miss Sharon put her hand over her mouth for a moment, then she forced herself to speak again. "He kept attacking, even though they were down."
Liam felt the cold feeling of realization spread. "Where's Xerxes?" he asked.
"And you managed to climb out of the pit-"
"Why isn't he here?"
"You talked him down. Do you remember?"
"Miss Sharon, where is Xerxes?"
"Do you remember, Liam?"
"Yes." he snapped, "Yes, I remember. What of it?"
"He's become that again."
The world fell into silence as Liam felt his mouth fall open. "H-how… why?" He started to try to ease himself upright.
"You were very sick last night." Miss Sharon came forward and put a hand on his arm - on that side wasn't bleeding- keeping him from getting up. "It's only been a day since the party and… you lost a lot of blood. You were very weak, the doctors weren't sure… and then you got a fever," she touched the back of her hand to his forehead. "You still have it. Last night… we weren't sure you were going to make it. It looked bad. And then Xerxes went into his rooms all of the sudden-" she gave a bitter smile, visible without blur from this close, "I guess he thought… you know. Nothing we do is calming him down."
He reached up with his good hand and touched the wound on her cheek "He did this, didn't he?" his fingers were bloody and were he touched her skin he stained it red. "He's really so far gone he doesn't recognize you?"
She nodded. "He called me an impostor; he said 'You almost look like her but not quite. Don't try to fool me.' It was…" she shook her head. "My Xarks-nii doesn't even recognize me."
"Let me talk to him." Liam said.
"Would you? The doctors told us you really shouldn't be moved but…" there was something in the way she pursed her lips told him she was keeping something back.
"What else is there?"
"For the most part he'd kept to his rooms but, well… people have been hurt. He cut up a Pandora contractor who tried to talk to him for Lord Barma. Pandora is regarding his as insane and a danger to others. The upper ranks are meeting to decide what to do about him. But with you awake… maybe you can bring him back to himself. I know you two were… very close."
"You knew about that, did you?" This wasn't the time to leave it delicately to the side, if she knew her asking him to do this would take on a much more practical shade of reasoning.
"He loves you." she said simply. "If he didn't he wouldn't be like this because he thinks you're dead. Maybe you can… nothing anyone else has done has helped. They've sent in Vincent Nightray." with a shiver she wrapped her arms around herself. Considering what Vincent Nightray had done to her the reaction was understandable.
That explained why Echo had been with the group when he'd woken, not with her master. "But what can he do against Xerxes?" A sudden vision of Vincent's scissors and a vulnerable Xerxes made him sit up far too quickly, he ended up doubled over, his head spinning, clutching his shoulder and listening to a myriad of wounds making themselves known and felt.
Miss Sharon laid a hand, very cool on his skin, on the back of his neck, and when the pain from his sudden movement receded enough for him to straighten she explained, "His chain makes people fall asleep, the upper ranks of Pandora thought that he might be able to pacify Xerxes that way."
"But Vincent Nightray." he said.
"I know, that's what I thought. He's with him now."
"What?" Liam swung his legs out from under the sheet, putting his feet on the floor. The world spun for a moment, when it settled he looked down and realized he was still in his party clothes. The coat and tunic was gone, no doubt mangled beyond saving, but he still wore the shirt that went under it, stained profusely with blood, along with the trousers though no shoes -he had a clear memory of loosing the shoes stumbling through the forest to find were the fight had gone.
Trying not to move his shoulder he pulled his shirt closed and tried to fumble the buttons closed with his left hand, which refused to work as adroitly as it should.
Seeing that he was having trouble Miss Sharon leaned forward to help him button the shirt over the bandages. "It hurt you so much when they moved you the doctors mostly left what you had on if they could." she explained. "It was easier."
"I see." he said, and then shook his head, which persisted on aching, "Vincent Nightray. Who could ever think that was a good idea?"
"We were getting desperate. Stay there for a moment." she went to take a coil of bandages from the bedside table. "Your shoulder is still bleeding. I would call the doctor but…"
"There isn't time." He said, in agreement to the unsaid statement.
She nodded and came over to wind the bandage around his shoulder. "That will have to do for the moment."
"It will." he said, "You said the upper ranks are meeting right now?"
"Yes. I'm afraid… there's been talk of putting him in a lunatic ward."
"Xerxes isn't insane."
"He's not acting like a sane person right now, Liam. Maybe you do something but the rest of us have been trying all night and all today and this," she touched her cheek, "a lot of broken furniture, and Samuel Havesher getting cut to pieces is all we've gotten."
"I'm going to have to get up to do anything about that." he pointed out.
Sharon blinked at him for a moment, and then realized she was blocking his way. She backed up, asking, "Are you sure you should try to get up?"
"I don't know." Which was the absolute truth, he was aching and in pain and felt dizzy and too warm all at the same time. This probably wasn't a good idea but if what Sharon said was true… it looked like he didn't have a choice.
He tried easing his weight onto his feet and almost fell when his left gave out under him -the Bandersnatch had worried at it like the dog it resembled while Lily had laughed- but Sharon grabbed his arm and managed to guide him back to sitting on the bed. "I don't think this is going to work." he told her. "I can't…"
She nodded and went to open the door, "Gilbert," she called into the hallway, "We need you."
Gilbert Nightray came back in and not being able to read the expression on his face from a distance reminded Liam of something. "Is there any possibility… does anyone know what happened to my glasses?"
"Oh!" Sharon said, "I forgot completely, I'm sorry." she went to the bedside table and returned with his glasses.
"They're broken." Gilbert said. "Still, I mean. There wasn't time to get them fixed."
"It's better than not being able to see." he said, slipping them on. Someone had cleaned the blood from what remained of the glass. He felt oddly touched at that.
"So he said he'd…" Gilbert left the end of the sentence trailing, looking to Sharon for an answer.
"He said he'd try." she replied. "Now I need you to get him there."
Somehow he managed to get Liam to standing and out into the hallway, Liam didn't remember bits and pieces of it. He had his good arm around Gilbert's shoulders but that left a lot of weight on his bad leg and Gilbert's steadying hand on his side was holding him directly on one of the slices from the Bandersnatch's claws.
The trek seemed to take an a small slice of eternity, he knew that the guest quarters weren't far from Break's but it seemed to take them a long time to get there. Probably because he was not doing all that good a job of walking, Gilbert was next thing to dragging him; Liam was grateful he didn't seem to mind.
And what was he going to do once they got there? How was he going to pacify an insane Xerxes? Did they really think he could do that when he could barely stand?
"Liam," Gilbert was shaking his shoulder -his good one- gently. "We're here."
He shook his head; the attempt to clear it only resulted in sending the hallway spinning.
"Are you alright?"
"I don't need to be." Liam said. "I just need to be alive. That should…" he wasn't exactly sure how to end that sentence.
"Help?" Gilbert offered.
Slowly Gilbert took his steadying arm away, Liam could feel himself swaying but he didn't immediately topple, which was progress. Only when the world stopped being quite so fuzzy around the edges did he notice that Echo was sitting by the door, her legs drawn up to her chest and her arms wrapped around them.
Apparently Gilbert noticed her too because he asked her, "Is Vincent still in there?"
She nodded. Her face didn't show concern but, then again, Echo's face rarely showed anything of what she felt. "He hasn't returned." she said. "It's been hours."
Gilbert bit his lip, frowning. "Damn." he murmured. "Liam, I know you probably want a moment to rest but could you…"
"Open the door." Liam told him. "And don't go in, no matter what happens. It won't help."
"Are you sure that's-"
"Do it, Gilbert," he snapped.
The man flinched and jumped to open the door for him, watching without comment as Liam forced himself to walk through the door, favoring his bad leg heavily. He rested a hand on the frame of the room, pausing for a moment to let it take his weight so he could make the attempt to get his eyes to refocus.
Maybe this hadn't been the best idea.
Inside furniture had been overturned, a table had been smashed, the bookshelf had been stripped of its books, and it looked like someone had taken something sharp to one of the walls, carving multiple rents into the plaster.
"Xerxes," he called into the silence of the room. His voice faltered, even though he had tried to keep it steady and he cleared his throat before trying again. "Xerxes."
There was darkness past the door to Xerxes' bedroom and in that darkness something stirred, a voice drifted out. "Always calling me by that wrong name."
Surrendering the support of the doorframe Liam limped forward, squinting into the darkness. "What have you done with Vincent Nightray, Xerxes?"
A chuckle from the darkened room made Liam shiver, that was not the laugh that he had ever heard from him before. Something moved in the other room and Xerxes emerged, dragging something. He heaved it up and let it drop in the space between them.
It was Vincent Nightray, unconscious and bleeding from the head, his fair hair matted with blood.
"Your little Rat tried to use his chain on me." said Xerxes, quite calmly. "I couldn't have that."
"Echo." Liam said. "Get him."
And suddenly Echo was there, dragging her master toward the door, in that way she had of seeming to appear out of nowhere when she was needed. Liam waited for her to reach the door, knowing she was there because when she was Gilbert said, "Here, let me help."
"Close the door, Gilbert." he said. When Gilbert started to splutter something about 'unsafe' he turned to glare at him.
The spluttering broke off and Gilbert closed the door.
Then Liam turned back to Xerxes. "Hello, Kevin." he said wearily.
The man across from him cocked his head to the side, "You know my name. None of the rest of them did."
"We've met before."
Xerxes' eyes narrowed, "I don't remember that."
"You should." he tried for another step and didn't fall on his face, though his shoulder was informing him in no uncertain terms that it didn't like what he was doing.
"You seem to know an awful lot." Xerxes' hand went into a pocket, a slow and distinctly threatening gesture. "Who are you?"
"You know my name."
"No! I don't!" Xerxes snapped. "I don't know any of you. Impostors and fakes and crazy men the lot of you."
"That's why you cut Miss Sharon, wasn't it?" he edged another step forward, just a little closer. "You really didn't know her?"
This time Xerxes noticed what he was doing and drew what he had held in his pocket. The knife caught the light and glinted sharply, held in a hand that apparently remembered exactly how to use it. "Stay right where you are!" he barked. "Not one more step or I'll cut you even worse than I did that impostor girl."
Liam let the foot he had raised fall back to the floor without taking the step he had planned. With that knife pointed at him that was all he dared do. "You must be very confused right now, Kevin. Do you know where you are?"
"No. Where am I?" Xerxes demanded and suddenly all the questions were tumbling out of him, gaining momentum as they poured out. "Why is everyone mistaking me for this Xerxes? How did I get in this place; who are you; who is Xerxes Break; how did I get out of the Abyss; and why the hell can I barely see?" he punctuated that last question with an angry slash with his knife. "What happened to my eyes?"
"The easy one to answer is in the middle. You are Xerxes Break."
"That's a lie!" he roared, slashing the air in front of him again liked he was intent on slitting its throat. "I'm Kevin Regnard, knight of the Sinclair family." He faltered, "Or, at least, I was until… Where is Miss Emily?" pointing the knife at Liam he demanded, "You, tell me, where is she?"
That made Liam frown, was he really that far gone? "Don't you remember?" he asked.
"No, course I don't! I don't know anything about how I got here, I already told you that!"
"But you should know." Liam insisted, "You do know." He took another step forward.
Something seemed to snap in Xerxes' face, rage taking over. He roared, "Where the hell is Miss Emily?"
"Dead." Liam said flatly.
"No!" Xerxes reached over and snagged a book from a nearby shelf, hurling it at him. "Where are the Sinclair?"
Liam winced as the book clipped him on his shoulder, black stained his vision and the world spun for a moment but he forced himself not to crumple, staying on his feet with an effort of will. He staggered a step forward, gaining ground.
"Where are the Sinclair!" Xerxes demanded again. "Where is my master?"
"All dead." said Liam. "Years ago."
With a scream of rage Xerxes reached for another book, he drew his arm back toss it but paused with it half raised. Slowly he lowered it. "Dead?" He repeated softly. "All dead? You… you expect me to believe that?"
"It's the truth," he stepped forward again and was at last close enough to reach up and touch Xerxes' face. "You know it is."
Xerxes frowned at him for one long moment. "Your hand is too warm." he said finally.
"Fever." Liam explained.
"Is that really the truth? Are they really all… gone?" Xerxes asked, and his face was so open, so lost, that Liam wanted very badly to lie.
But he didn't. "It is."
Everything went blank of Xerxes face for a heartbeat and then it drew back into an expression of fury. "No!" He snapped. "That is a lie! He's alive, he has to be!"
"The Sinclair family!"
"No, you said 'he'. Not 'she' and not 'they'. Who were you talking about?"
"I… it was no one. I… a slip of the tongue. Now, tell me, where are they? Why have you been keeping them from me?"
Xerxes grabbed him by the shoulders and actually shook him with frustration as he shouted, "The Sinclair family!"
Liam felt the rip in his shoulder as more stitches went and everything faded down to black.
The next thing he knew his cheek pressed to the cold hardwood floor, which felt good against his too warm skin in a far off way. With an effort Liam pulled himself to the present, forcing his eyes open.
"What's wrong with you?" Xerxes was standing over him, peering down at him with what might have been concern on his face.
He put his hand to his shoulder and found he'd bled through the bandage; his shirt was sticky with blood. When he went to push himself up his head momentarily spun as a dozen minor injuries throbbed but he shook it away enough to prop himself up.
"I did that, didn't I?" Xerxes gestured at the wounds.
"No. You didn't." Liam said. The wound on his side ached as he tried to sit farther up and he gave a hiss between his teeth.
Reaching out Xerxes cautiously touched his shoulder, drawing his hand back quickly when Liam winced. "No." he said. "This… this is my fault."
"No!" Liam protested. "It isn't. You weren't even there at the time."
"It… is." Xerxes said slowly, frowning as if something was trying to get itself to the forefront of his mind. "I don't know why… but it is."
"It isn't. Xerxes, why do you have to blame yourself for everything?"
"I don't know, why do you have to force your way into things to dangerous for you, Liam?"
There was a sudden silence between them. "I never told you my name." Liam said.
"Didn't you?" Xerxes went down to his knees beside him, "How would I know otherwise?"
"Because you are Xerxes Break?"
"I'm not-" Xerxes automatically began and the paused. He thought for a moment, and then brought up his hands to stare at them. One hand held the knife still and the other palm was stained with blood from where he had touched Liam. He whispered, "It almost makes… sense. So then," he turned to him, "who are you?"
Liam sighed and gave up the fight to keep himself propped up, slumping back to the floor. "You already know my name."
"No, I mean, who are you to me?"
"We are…" Liam gestured in the air above him with his good hand, looking for the right word. "… together."
Suddenly Xerxes' hands slammed back down over his arms, pinning him to the floor. The crazed look was back in his eye. "So they thought they would throw this 'Xerxes'' lover at me to see if they could pacify me, eh? Well, it won't work. No one fools Kevin Regnard like that!" Their faces were so close that Xerxes' nose almost brushed his, his breath puffing into his face. Shallow breaths… Xerxes had been hurt too in the fight, hadn't he? Only he would be so stupid as to do all this while injured.
"Stop it, Xerc."
"Shut up." Liam snapped. "Snap out of it. I'm here, I'm alive and fine and not planning on dying soon unlike some of us I could mention. I intend to live. So stop acting like you've already lost me, you idiot."
Xerxes' face broke, the anger fading into surprise and the shifting to relief. His grip loosened on Liam's arms and he whispered, "Liam?"
"They said you were going to die." his voice was small. "Everyone was so sure." He collapsed onto the floor next to him, his next words muffled by Liam's shirt. "I was so sure."
Reaching up to tangle the fingers of his good hand in Xerxes' hair Liam gave a huff of annoyance. "I'm not dying."
The reply was mumbled into the material of his shirt. "You're too warm. And bleeding. And weak. Anything could happen to you."
"I'm not going to die. I told you that before I went into that party, remember?"
"You promised me." Xerxes reminded him, voice still utterly… vulnerable. "And then you were dead."
"I didn't know that!" Xerxes lifted his head to glare at Liam and Liam was surprised to see his eye was over bright. "They said you were dead and then you weren't. And then you almost were again. I'm supposed to be the one who's dying; you're not allowed to die first!"
If it hadn't been such a serious moment Liam might have laughed at the wining tone in Xerxes' voice. Instead he sighed and pulled Xerxes carefully down enough to press his forehead to his. "Calm down, Xerc."
"But you-" Xerxes began and then he must have sensed the glare that he couldn't see on Liam's face because he cut himself off and took a deep breath. Only after letting it out did he speak again. "Don't die. Please?"
"I never planned on doing anything like dying." Liam smiled. "You're always so fatalistic, Xerc."
"… sorry." Xerxes mumbled. "About…"
"I know. So am I."
Xerxes sighed and allowed himself drop to the side of Liam. In his shifting his arm hit Liam's bad shoulder and Liam gave an involuntary sound of pain. "Damn." Xerxes said, sitting up. "You're still bleeding."
"I seem to be doing a lot of that." Liam said rather calmly. "I suppose I should be used to it by know."
"How sick are you?" Break asked in wonder.
"Rather." Liam replied, then pointed sternly at Xerxes with his good hand. "And no using that as an excuse to regress. I'll get better."
"Yes, yes. But in the meantime you're bleeding."
"I am." Liam said mildly.
"… exactly much blood have you lost?" Instead of waiting for an answer Xerxes stood laboriously, going to the door and rattling the doorknob. Finding it locked he banged on it until it opened a cautious crack.
"Doctor." Xerxes demanded. "Now."
"Break?" asked the person cautiously peering through the door.
"Yes." Xerxes said bluntly. "And he needs a doctor."
Edging the door a little more open Gilbert craned his neck to see Liam lying on the floor. "What did you do to him?" his voice was appropriately horrified for a man who had just seen his rather mauled brother dragged from this same room.
"Get a doctor." Xerxes snapped. "I'll explain later."
"So you're you again, right?" Gilbert was already taking steps away down the hall, but he couldn't seem to stop himself from turning back and asking.
Mutely Xerxes gave him a glower.
"Right, doctor. I'll get right on that."
Closing the door again Xerxes went back to sit next to Liam, rubbing his eyes -or, the eyes and the eye socket- with the heels of his palms. "I was insane?"
"You were Kevin." Liam replied. "It was pretty much the same thing. You had the upper ranks terrified."
"That is going to come back to get me, isn't it?"
"I'll deal with that later. In the meantime, do you want me to help you up?"
"I think it would better if I stayed here." Liam said. "In fact, I'd prefer that."
"Then stay there. There should be a doctor along soon."
There was silence for a few minutes then Liam blinking into the darkness encroaching his vision and said, "I think I'm going to go back to sleep. Whether I want to or not. Will you be here later?"
"Where else would I I go?"
"I mean… will you be here when I wake up?"
Xerxes snorted. Reaching into a pocket he produced a candy and began unwrapping it. "Of course." he said.