Basically this is an AU. The roles are switched, Tate's alive and Violet's the ghost, and it's set in 2011. It's going to be a three shot with an ace soundtrack and everything. In the same way that music helps me get into the writing, I think it enhances the reading, too, or maybe I'm just crazy. The link to the complete playlist is on my profile, labeled "4".
Soundtrack: Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums by A Perfect Circle / Like Suicide by Soundgarden / In Bloom by Nirvana / There's A Place In Hell For Me And My Friends by Morrissey.
Warning: Language, violent themes, lots of triggers about both self-harm and suicide, mild sexual content.
i think i made you up inside my head
safe from pain & truth & choice & other poison devils
see, they don't give a fuck about you, like i do
—A Perfect Circle
The first time he enters the house is the moment that he knows he'll be here forever.
There's a pulse about the house. Sometimes where he strides, it's like he can almost hear the floorboards breathing and the walls whispering to him — lies or truth he can never tell. Even through everything, he's retained his naivety and it's the ugliest thing about him, he thinks.
Marcy, the realtor, explains the "recent occurrences" (read: grisly murders) that had happened to the previous owners and Tate stands over the very spot where they'd bled to death in the dimly-lit basement.
He can feel it in his veins.
Blood, what was pumping through him right now.
Keeping him alive. Forcing him to survive in a world made of piss.
Just thinking about the fact that he was touching the very place where somebody, anybody, had lay in their last moments, probably choking to death on the blood filling their throats and lungs, sticky and thick and creating a dark puddle on the floor that'll never quite wash out of the wood, makes a shiver run down his spine.
"We'll take it."
Sometimes, he'll be carrying boxes into the room he'd picked, and he'll feel a chill run right across the nape of his neck, where the bone sticks out. He'll spin around, dropping the box on the floor at his feet, but it'll be empty, hollow space. Nothing but him and his own twisted thoughts.
He blames it on the side effects of his antidepressants, but sometimes the feeling of his hair standing on end gets so strong that he truly believes there's something in the house with them. There's something more than what they see with the naked eye when Addy stops suddenly, and points, laughing at the unseen. It can't always be the maid who's fleeing around the corner, and there are breezes like breath across his forearms when every window is closed and he's trapped in his mind.
Tate tells Constance, once. It's a mistake. The woman is smoking a cigarette and painting murals across the walls — twisted things, like cannibals and monsters with faces only a mother could love. Tate likes them in some weird, affectionate way, but he'd never tell his mother. She wouldn't care. And he'd never take the risk of making her happy.
Constance slaps him across the face. It's not so much the force of her thin, long fingers, but rather the speed of her impulsive movements that makes him stumble to the floor. She's buzzed and he really should've just thought better of it, so he only flinches and scoots away, still sprawling.
"You've caused enough pain to this family for a lifetime, you selfish bastard," she spits, the white cancer stick gripped between her index and middle finger on one hand, a thin paintbrush in the other. "Can't you just let it alone for once, Tate?"
He stands up, brushes himself off. "All right, fine," he mutters. "Shit."
Constance throws her lit cigarette and it stings his face before he flings it off and it lands on the shiny wood floors, burning itself out within a matter of seconds.
"What the fuck, Mom!"
She stands and he cowers. He disgusts himself. "Watch your language, young man!" Constance screams at him. He's sure that Addy can hear it from up in her room. He prays that she doesn't come down. It'll only make it bad for her and worse for him. "Can you imagine? Running away from the scene of the crime like common criminals. It's all your fault. It's all your goddamn fault." She kicks his Chucks with a pointed shoe. "Get out of here. Just seeing you, seeing something that I'd given so much too, knowing it's my flesh and blood you're wearing — it makes me want to vomit."
He runs upstairs, kicking the banister and punching the walls, screaming at the world, hoping that the neighbors will hear. Hoping anyone will.
Addy opens her door, eyes wide and hair ruffled, wearing her pajamas. "Tate?" she whispers, terrified and sleepy. "What's happening?"
"Just go back to sleep, Addy," he snarls, and shrugs her off when she calls after him, her voice bouncing off the walls.
He ignores the open door to his room, where Kurt Cobain's voice fills the void, and instead heads straight into the old-fashioned florescent bathroom. He's so concentrated on getting his razorblades from where he's hidden them underneath the bath mat that he nearly runs over the girl standing in front of the mirror, blood dripping from a slice on her wrist.
"You're doing it wrong," he says immediately, closing the door behind him and turning the lock without another thought. "If you're trying to kill yourself, cut vertically. They can't stitch that up."
She looks at him. He expects her to smile but she doesn't; her eyebrow quirks and he follows her gaze up her arms where there are already two matching vertical slits, dark brown and red with scarring skin. "What are you doing here?" she asks, her voice flat and uncaring. He walks around her to where she's already laid out his razorblades on the sink top — all different shapes and sharpness, his prized collection.
He takes one of the blades in his hand. She ignores his movement. He balances it between his fingertips like a cigarette, but he's too distracted by the way her blood is bubbling out of the fresh cuts on her wrist. "If you're trying to kill yourself, you might also try locking the door," he retorts, just as coldly.
She rolls her eyes and rolls up her sleeves, not even bothering to stop the bleeding. The blood makes a dark, almost unnoticeable smear against her sweater. "You didn't answer my question."
"Shouldn't I be the one asking?" he counters without missing a beat. "Random girl in my bathroom. It's like a wet dream. Is this how they welcome everyone to L.A.? We should've moved here years ago."
She snorts. "Of course." She turns to the door, but he grabs her wrist — the one that's not covered in blood. He's not in the mood to test himself tonight, and he knows he couldn't handle that anyway.
"Of course what?" he asks, his voice low.
The girl looks at him with light hazel eyes. There's a darkness in them, a sort of film that she wasn't born with. Her eyes reflect her suffering. "You're just like everybody else. Full of shit. I shouldn't have expected anything more. How old are you, seventeen? You're zoned for Westfield High in this neighborhood. You'll probably fit in beautifully with the rest of them; shallow and close-minded. You'll blend right into this world." She spins on her heels again, but he grabs her. This time she slaps his hand off of her shoulder. He cringes.
"Wait. I'm not like everyone else," he pleads. "I — I'm Tate."
She rolls her eyes. "Bullshit. I'm surprised you haven't changed it to Kurt at the rate that you're going. Striped sweater? Ripped jeans? Obviously dyed blond hair that you probably haven't washed in a week. I can hear In Bloom playing in your room from here. I guess no one's ever told you about subtlety." She smirks. It's a look that appears quite at home on her delicate face. "Keep it. It separates you from the others."
He watches her carefully, trying to keep a smile from twitching onto his lips. "What's your name?" The smile flutters into his expression gently, almost fittingly.
"Violet," she murmurs. "Like the — "
" — Hole song?" he finishes for her. She's struggling to hold back her own grin. He can tell he's impressed her and it makes him giddy with something he's never felt before.
She laughs. "There's hope for you yet." She turns and he watches her back as she opens the door and turns down the hallway, pausing for a second before regaining his bearings and chasing after her. But when he bends over the banister, looking for a glimpse of her downstairs, she's gone and the door's cracked open. When he shuts it and locks it, careful to tiptoe past the room where his mother's fallen asleep on the couch, a half-empty bottle of red wine next to her, and returns to the bathroom, the blood's washed down the sink cleanly, and there's only his blades scattered around the faucet to remind him that she wasn't just a figment of his psychotic imagination.
One of the blades is missing. It was his favorite. It was the one he used the first time he tried to kill himself, but he doesn't mind. He'll let her keep it.
He comes home from his first day of school with a black eye and a split lip. He'd thought that maybe when Addy had graduated high school, he wouldn't be stuck defending her all the time, but people who've only ever laid eyes on him still hate him. They hate what they don't understand.
When he gets to the lawn, two boys in matching striped shirts and bellbottoms are waving bats around Addy. Tate drops his backpack at the gate and sprints toward them, but they're already laughing and running away by the time he's halfway to her.
Addy's in tears. "Tate!" she cries. "I was having fun until you came along. You ruin everything."
As he enters the house, his mother takes one look at him and sneers in disgust. "It's a wonder you're still breathing, boy," she mutters, "what with the trouble you're always getting yourself into."
And when he finally gets up to his room, his bloody lip running down his chin and his muscles tight and sore, he can't even bring himself to protest when he finds Violet sitting cross-legged in the middle of his bed, scrolling through his iPod.
"You've got some promising taste," she says without looking up, "but you're missing some key things. I mean, you've only got Meat Is Murder on here and that's it. And I can't even find a single song by The Sex Pistols. You've got to expand, Tate. You can't listen to just Nirvana and Soundgarden forever." When he doesn't respond, she lifts her chin, her curtain of honey brown hair revealing her face. "Oh, my God. What happened?"
She stands up. He drops his bag at his feet, his books spilling out, but he doesn't move. He hangs his head, exhausted and rejected by the world. When she arrives at his side, quickly, like a spirit, she runs her hand across his bruised face. With her touch, he can breathe again. He reaches up and touches her elbow, and her fingers ghost along his defined jaw line. "First day at my new school," he sighs.
A held breath exits through her pursed lips. "Westfield, right?"
He nods brokenly. "The worst."
They spend the day lying on their stomachs, blasting through Tate's song selections. Tate doesn't do his homework, and neither of them care.
He downloads all of Morrissey's albums just for her; illegally, of course, but it's the thought that counts. They compare scars — her dark, beginning to heal, crusty ones, and his fresh, bright red, not-nearly-as-deep ones. They tell stories and trace each other's marks and he feels complete, slowly and surely, with her.
"Where do you live?" he asks her while she furiously searches up bands on his laptop, downloading songs for him to hear, one after the other.
She gives him a look between annoyance and nervousness. "Why? Trying to stalk me?"
The side of his mouth curves impishly. "Well, you do seem like a heavy sleeper…"
"Bullshit. I couldn't sleep through an earthquake on the other side of the planet." He laughs, loud and hard, for the first time since he didn't know when. The bed shakes with the sound. "I live — um — down the street. With my grandmother."
Tate nods. "My dad left when I was six, and my mom's been sucking random men off ever since. Like, honestly. Thanks, Dad, leave me with the biggest cocksucker on this whole planet. She's such a bitch, too. Especially to my brother and sister." He pauses, watching her suck on her bottom lip as she contemplates the whole thing, still staring at the computer screen. "Where're your parents?"
There's something in her eyes he can't decipher. "The truth?" she asks. He doesn't say anything, just bobs his head up and down slowly. "I don't care."
In the end he falls asleep with his head by her legs. She's still determinedly going through the couple thousand songs on the device. (He'd stolen it from someone back in Boston — swiped it right out of their hands and run, run, run, but he figured that's not something you tell someone the second day you meet them.)
When he wakes up, an hour later, groggy but with a smile evident on his face, Morrissey is echoing from his newly-filled iPod. The scent of Violet, light and feathery, is everywhere, and the bed is still rumpled where she'd sat as he'd snored next to her in peace. He looks at his palm, and there are Sharpie marker scribbles on it, smudged slightly. When he looks at it closely, he realizes they're letters.
As he closes his fist and docks his iPod so that There's A Place In Hell For Me And My Friends fills the whole room, he thinks that things might not be as bad as they seem.
"So, Tate, these fantasies started…two years ago? Three years ago?"
"Two years ago."
The therapist his mother hires is handsome in a douche kind of way. He writes notes at random intervals and rubs his unshaven cheek often. He tries too hard to keep a straight face, and in turn Tate tries harder to freak him out.
"It's always the same — it starts the same way." Blood. Carnage. Piss. Vomit. Brains. Spilling out their ears. Drowning in their own blood and saliva.
"How? Tell me?"
He watches Dr. Harmon carefully, eager to measure just how far he can push him. That's the first thing he thinks of when he meets someone for the first time — not their eye color, or their clothing, but how far he can possibly push them until they're out of reach. "I prepare for the noble war."
How fast could he stop Ben Harmon's pulse? He could shoot him right between the eyes, watch his big medical degree brain explode out the back of his head. Slit his throat while he talks, so fast he won't even have time to react, watch the blood spurt out of his Adam's apple. Maybe strangle him to death in front of a mirror, arms paralyzing the grown man. He'd wear some sort of mask, and towards the end of the struggle, as the lack of oxygen makes Dr. Harmon's brain shuts down, he'd let his doctor pull the mask off and watch the look of horror as the poor man realizes his killer. That's the best part. When the victim acknowledges you — when he finds out that you're their savior, the one who plays the part of bringing them to the better place.
"I'm calm. I know the secret. I know what's coming and I know no one can stop me. Including myself."
"Do you target people who have been mean to you, or unkind?"
The darkness is raging in his mind, screaming filth and terrifying things. There's darkness in everyone, but it's when he let it in that he'd become so fucked. That's why babies are born with blue eyes. They're born pure, but the world taints them so damn quickly. "I kill people I like."
He likes Dr. Harmon. But not enough, not yet.
"Some of them beg for their life. I don't feel sad. I don't feel anything." Dr. Harmon looks up from his note-taking, and Tate has to bite the inside of his cheek to keep from smiling. Gotcha. "It's a filthy world we live in. It's a filthy goddamn helpless world. And honestly, I feel like I'm helping to take them away from the shit and the piss and the vomit that run in the streets. I'm helping to take them somewhere clean, and kind."
There's something inside. Gnawing at him. Dr. Harmon looks closely at him, his mouth falling open slightly as his brain works to assess the patient. Tate knows how Dr. Harmon is going to die. Tate is going to kill him.
"There's something about all that blood, man." He thinks of popped blood vessels and opened wrists. He thinks of Violet, and her Morrissey and sarcasm and deep purple scars. "I drown in it. And the Indians believed that blood holds all the bad spirits. And once a month in ceremonies, they would cut themselves to let the spirits go free."
His voice gets low and raspy just thinking about it — blood and gore. It makes him thirsty.
"There's something…smart about that. Very smart. I like that." Tate looks up, and he sees himself a million times, bloody and dead and dripping all over the floor. He can't blame the others, really. He's just as filthy and tainted as the rest. "You think I'm crazy?" I know I'm crazy.
Dr. Harmon pause, mulling over his reply. "No. I think you're creative. And I think you have a lot of pain you're not dealing with."
Tate doesn't skip a beat in answering. "My mother's probably worried about me, right?"
"Of course she is."
He grins. He can't help himself. "She's a cocksucker. I mean, literally, a cocksucker," Tate explains, and then glances at the door to make sure she's not standing there, ready to throttle him. "She used to suck the guy next door off all the time. I'd be surprised that she wasn't fucking you if she wasn't paying you so damn much." He cocks his head. "I thought doctors didn't make house calls anymore. How much extra did you charge? Fifty? A hundred?" Tate fingers the hole in the knee of his jeans. "Or is my mom sucking you off, too?"
Dr. Harmon swallows. "Tate, I think we're getting off topic. Why don't we talk more about your visions?"
"You don't have to worry. My dad found out when I was six, and he left." Tate sighs. "He left me alone with a cocksucker. Can you imagine? How sick is that?"
"I've heard worse."
"Cool." Tate leans forward almost subconsciously. "Can you tell me some? I like stories." His favorite's The Boy Who Cried Wolf. He was taught when he was little that the moral of the story was that liars die a martyr.
Dr. Harmon smiles. "No, I can't."
Tate could kill him right then and there. Jump across the coffee table and beat the man's head against the floor until his skull has as much consistency as mashed potatoes. But he doesn't. He could've been a fucking saint in a past life. "The world is a filthy place. It's a filthy goddamn horror show." He's shaking, there's so much screaming within him then. "There's so much pain, you know?" And he'd gotten the bunt of it. He's been dying since the day he was born. We all have. "There's so much."