Don't own Hetalia and all that jazz.

And yes, this is a side project, don't worry, this won't be multi-chaptered. Probably. Not. Because I have other responsibilities first, three to be precise. And I feel bad about not updating them as swiftly as I'd like.

Sorry. Thanks if you're reading this because you've read my other stories, though. Really appreciate it. My inspiration for this was that creepy "Man Upstairs with the Babysitter" urban legend, you know, the urban legend that inspired crappy movies like When a Stranger Comes Calling. I didn't like that movie too much, but it still inspred this fanfic. I shamelessly support RusCan and I shamelessly plug as well! Check out my As Hot as Ice and Cold as Fire! And if you already have... sorry, this is just to get my creative juices flowing, nothing more!


"You sure you'll be okay, bro?"

Matthew glanced at his twin, whose bright blue eyes glint merrily with excitement, but not without concern.

"I-"

"Come on, Alfred! This is taking too long! Why are you we up here anyway? You need to take a piss or something?" one of Alfred's friends shouted from the passenger's seat.

"No! I'm just saying bye to my brother, geez!" Alfred shouted back.

"Brother? You have a brother?" the friend shouted back incredulously. "Who? What's his name?"

Matthew sighed.

Nameless, faceless, emotionless. This combination… just worked so well. Each fit with the other two in perfect harmony. There was a time where being without any recognition or even simple acknowledgement hurt him, but that was the past. A long time ago. It felt like a long time ago, but you lose track of time as your sanity slips, spiraling, into a whirlpool of slowly fading colors, colors that swirled round and round and round until they swirled into nothingness, a pale gray. Nothing more, nothing less. Simple. Easy. Painless.

"He's-!" Alfred paused, checking his watch. "Oh, it's eight o' clock! Holy shit, dudes! Sorry! Come on, let's get going before that party starts without us!"

And without another glance at his brother, standing forlornly at the door, he ran off. Leaving his brother alone once again. Without blinking, Matthew slammed the door shut after him. No point in standing there, wishing he'd at least said good-bye.

No point at all.

The blond, petite little Canadian inhaled deeply, pressing his palms against the kitchen counter. Frowning at his reflection in the polished surface.

Taking care of Mr. Vargas' children and his house for three days was really going to be a challenge.

He hadn't wanted to do it, of course. Working with children or working with other people at all wasn't on the top of his list. Usually canoeing, reading quietly, watching birds, taking a shower, and sleeping were on his list of things to do. All of these activities were recreational. Not because he was lazy, but because no one ever remembered that he was a human being and was capable of social and physical activity, such as American football, soccer, even hockey, which had once been a hobby of his before his life had turned downward. No one remembered that Canadian in the corner, the one that might actually be good at hockey, better in fact, than anyone else in the room. The few sympathetic eyes that managed to see him in the daylight assumed that he was a loner and that reading and watching birds ranging from pigeons to pelicans to hawks fly by were what he was content doing. No one ever considered that maybe he wanted a friend, wanted human companionship, wanted what every human wanted, to be loved. No one ever considered that maybe that kid, all alone out on the lake in his canoe, simply drifting alone, staring at the clouds, would actually crave something more.

He brushed a blond strand of hair away from his dark violet eyes, squinting at himself in the shiny black surface. He blinked and leaned closer. Something about his face made him frown. But he didn't like to look at himself, not in the mirror. Something about his face, his frown, and most importantly, his eyes filled his stomach with disgust. He looked away, closing his eyes and leaning forward, bending over the kitchen counter and pressing both of his crossed arms against the cool marble texture. He put his head into his arms. It was so cold. So dark. So dark here, in this lonely, lonely house in the middle of nowhere, deep into the depths of the unknown, beautiful and mystical, but mysterious and unknown nonetheless. Like the lake. He'd seen it during his thirty minute drive up here and had almost crashed into a tree. The lake had almost… hypnotized him with its depth, with its mysterious, cool beauty. Like a siren, beckoning for him to come and stay, stay forever in its cold embrace. No deception, no lies. Honesty. Come here, child. I know you're hurting, I know you need someone to hold you and keep you and cherish your cold, cold existence-

"Hey! You dumbass babysitter! Aren't you supposed to be taking care of us, you dumby bastard?"

Matthew sighed.

But he'd taken the job. Why?

Because Alfred had used up all of his cell phone minutes on his friend and had gone over 800 minutes. Their father had nearly blown his tea kettle over the price racked up on his phone bill. He'd yelled furiously at his oldest son for hours before finally deciding that Alfred was going to pay off every dollar of it, starting by babysitting Mr. Vargas's children, who needed a babysitter and had called for a favor at the last minute. Of course, Alfred had resisted. Normally it wouldn't be a problem, Alfred had argued, but this time it was because there was a totally awesome, super cool party for all the super cool people up on a low moutain, the Monderosa, as it was called. Not officially, just by the kids that considered it their hangout. Not too hard to climb and not too small for it to be a lame hill. Plus it was high enough for a rather pretty view of the surrounding countryside of flowers, meadows, and occasionally, herds of deer.

Not that there would be deer that night. Not with a party like that going on.

They'd be lucky if there would be any conscious teenagers by twelve in the afternoon the next day.

Yes, one of those kinds of parties.

The biggest, greatest, most epic party, the party of parties, that would be totally ass-kicking, as Alfred had shouted. The end of the year blowout. If he missed it, he'd be a total loser!

Which was why Matthew had ended up standing in for him.

"I-"

Something hit his crotch. A light hit, but a hit nonetheless.

Matthew gasped in pain.

"What's the problem?" he choked.

"I'm fucking hungry!" the older Vargas brother shouted at him. Matthew glared down at him with pain-filled eyes.

"Why did you hit me?"

"Because I'm hungry, you damn bastard! I'm- ack-ack-thchoo! Chigi!" Lovino Vargas sneezed, his face furiously turning red.

"Lovi, you're sick. You're papa told me you should get plenty of rest. Go back to bed," Matthew told him, rubbing his balls and wincing.

"Don't masturbate in front of me!" Lovino squealed, his words ending in a coughing fit as his face flared even redder.

"I'm not," Matthew said quietly. "Go to bed, you're sick."

"I don't have to listen to you, you-!" With another sigh, the Canadian picked up the squirming little Italian, who protested violently as he was carried to his room and plopped down next to his little brother, who was curled up asleep like a little angel. Lovino didn't like that. He kicked his brother's back, but the other little boy slept blissfully on. "There will be none of that," Matthew said firmly. "Leave him alone and go to sleep yourself. You're sick." He rubbed the boy's back, his cold hands feeling the feverish warmth of Lovino's skin. "Your papa told me he already fed you. You don't need anymore food, just rest. Okay? Just rest. Sleepy-time." To his relief, Lovino's furious, slanted eyes eventually dimmed as the soothing , strangly cold circles against his feverish skin calmed him down. He started to fall asleep, unwillingly.

The Canadian sighed in relief.

Good. both of them were asleep. Now he just had to leave them alone.

He would feel bad about being relieved that the brothers were sick, but if they hadn't been, he'd be stuck with an aggressive little Italian and his accident-prone little idiot for a brother. Matthew thanked whatever gods were up there that all he had to do for some easy cash was sit in this big house and wait.

He backed out of the room and closed the door slowly.

He walked down the stairs.

It truly was a beautiful house.

To his left was a magnificent window with a panoramic view of the rippling lake. The rippling, yawning, blue-almost-black lake, staring at him.

Beckoning to him, almost.

Not begging. Asking him to come.

He had the choice.

It was there.

It would always be there for him. Not like the others. It didn't take and it didn't receive. It was simply there and would always be there. Reliable, safe, trustworthy.

Something caught in his throat. Something lodged into his brain, clouding his thoughts and polluting his heart.

He pressed pale white fingers to the glass.

Wishing the glass would-

The phone rang.

Matthew jumped.

Heart pounding in his throat, he jerked, falling backwards. He felt a flicker of panic, the panic of falling with nothing to grab onto, but his hands found the reassuring banister. He stared at himself, his body pressed against the banister, his eyes wild, reflected in the window, in the seemingly bottomless lake. For a second, he could see himself drowning in his own eyes. Then the phone rang again and he shook his head and stomped downstairs to grab the phone.

There was a phone on the coffee table. He reached for it, seizing it and pressing the Talk button before it could ring a third time.

"Hello? Vargas residence," he said quietly.

He waited.

Maybe he was too quiet. Again.

"Hello?"

There was a slight hitch from the opposite line.

A single breath.

Then another.

"Who is this?" Matthew asked. "This is the Vargas residence."

Panting. Heavy breathing, inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, crackling. Then silence. Static.

Whoever it was hung up.

The Canadian's eyes narrowed in confusion.

"Pervert," he hissed into the mouthpiece.

He put the phone back into its holder.

Prank call.

Stupid.

But who would be prank-calling the Vargas's anyway?

They didn't seem like the people teenagers his age would prank call.

A flicker of unease.

Had the mysterious person been calling him?

No. No, that was ridiculous. Who would know he was here anyway?

People barely knew it when he was there, in the room, so why would anyone remember where he was, now, tonight, on the night of the big party blowout? Who would bother calling him?

It didn't matter. It wasn't scary. It wasn't creepy.

Matthew knew that the seed of anxiety had no good foundation for being there.

But it was.

A seed of tension.

He grimaced, staring at the phone.

The house was dark. It was a beautiful house, with refinement and class. Chandeliers, crystal, semi-precious stones, even gold, silver, every luxury you could imagine and more adorned the houses walls, tables, staircases, ceilings. Flat screen TVs, one of which was in front of him. He stared at it, but couldn't bring himself to turn it on. Something about the silence in the big, empty house felt sacred, like breaking it would be disrespectful. He glanced out the window at the lake, but his eyes didn't linger. His eyes flickered to the phone again.

It rang.

He stared at it uneasily.

He didn't want to answer it.

That was his first response.

But he couldn't just ignore it. It could be Mr. Vargas or his father or someone important.

Matthew's fingers fumbled for the phone, slipping a little before grasping it tighter.

He pushed the Talk button.

"Hello?"

For a few seconds, all he could hear was his heartbeat, throbbing in his chest.

Static crackled from the other end. Nothing but silent static.

Silence.

His heart beat louder.

"Who is this?" he said.

"YO, MATTIE!"

The blond jumped like he'd been shocked.

"Alfred! Don't do that to me!" he half-shouted, immediately shrinking as his voice broke the silence. A sense of wrongness tugged at his subconscious mind.

"DO WHAT, MAN? YOU'RE TALKING SO QUIET! I CAN'T HERE YOU! THIS PARTY IS TOTALLY RAD, MAN! YOU'RE MISSING ALL THE FUN!" the American shrieked.

Matthew winced, holding it away from his ear.

"Might I remind you who I'm sitting in for?" he said.

"WHAT?"

Matthew repeated, as loud as he could.

"SORRY, THE RECEPTION'S SHITTY UP HERE!"

"So is your hearing," Matthew murmured before repeating what he'd said again. That time Alfred caught it.

"YEAH ABOUT THAT-" his voice cracked. He said something else, but Matthew didn't catch it.

"What?"

Alfred repeated what he'd said.

"I can't hear you, okay? Listen, just- just talk to me la-?"

There was a creak. A light thump.

Matthew froze, his violet eyes widening.

The phone went dead.

His teeth gritted against each other as he bit back the fear collecting in his mouth.

He dropped the phone onto the couch.

Another steady, easy thump. The floorboards creaked with tension.

Matthew stood. Flinching as the floorboards creaked loudly under his own weight.

And squeezing his eyes shut as he heard the thumping stop.

Directly above his head. There. There above him.

There was someone in the house with him.

On the top floor.

With the children.

Matthew immediately kicked into gear. He jumped over the table and landed with a loud stamp, seizing the fire poker.

"Who's there?" he shouted. "Who's there?"

Who's there?

He paused, considering that question for a moment.

Who was there? Was it just his imagination? Just his vague reminiscing of the horror movies Alfred made him watch, when he remembered that he had a brother, that is? Just a ghost? Just a rambunctious ghost?

A dry, cracked laugh escaped his lips.

A ghost.

Just a ghost. Nothing but the remains of a human being. Bodies weren't remains. Ghosts were.

And that was what he was. That was what the noise was.

Nothing more than his sad hallucinations.

He sat down.

Creak, creak, creak.

Nothing but his thoughts.

Thump, thump, thump.

Nothing but himself.

Scccccrrrrrraaatttccchhhhh.

The wind. Branches beating against windows and doors.

A high-pitched whistle.

Definitely the wind.

Creak, creak, creak.

Nothing but himself.

Thump, thump.

Nothing.

Creak.

But.

Scrape.

Himself.

Nothing.

Nothing.

Nothing.

And at that moment, Lovino and Feliciano Vargas both sat up and screamed simultaneously.

Thump.

Matthew bolted up immediately. He was up the stairs and bursting into their bedroom in a flash.

Not noticing the shadows flickering at the end of the hall. The brief licker of a twin pair of shiny white sparks.

"Kids?"

Lovino had his little brother held tightly in his arms, huddled in the corner, his back to the wall, his eyes wild. Feliciano's eyes were scared and he was shaking, but he looked exhausted, as did his older brother, whose eyes held a feverish kind of energy. His eyes narrowed, flooding with fury as he saw his babysitter.

"Get away!" he shouted, not recognizing him.

"No, no, it's okay, it's me. What's wrong?" Matthew asked, coming into the room.

"You damnable maple-sucking-!" Lovino continued ranting while Feliciano burst into tears.

"What- what is it?"

It took him awhile to calm them down.

"You stupid Canuck, how dare you leave us alone?" Lovino howled. "Something bad could've happened to us!"

"I assure you, you're safe, okay?" Matthew said soothingly.

"No! Because there was a man in the doorway!"

The Canadian's gut clenched.

"What?"

"Are you deaf? There was a man in the doorway!"

Matthew looked over his shoulder.

He felt his throat tighten. The doorway was empty.

But he could feel something in the air that was... wrong.

And his stomach didn't like it.

"I-I'm sure it was... just a dream," he forced out, trying to smile disarmingly. Lovino wasn't convinced however.

"There was no one here," Matthew said, trying to convince the children, as well as himself. "And I promise you guys are safe, okay? I promise."

"Pinky promise?" Feliciano sniffed. He held out his pinky finger. Matthew shook it with his own.

"I promise," he said solemnly. "I promise you guys are going to be fine. It was just a nightmare. No danger at all."

Downstairs, the phone rang.

"I'll go get that," he told them.

"Don't leave!" Lovino squealed.

"I have to answer the phone. It might be your dad," he replied, patting both of the little Italians on the head. He tugged on their cute little curls, just on an impulse. It seemed to work. Almost immediately, they both fell back, their eyes fluttering shut, like they'd been asleep for hours. How odd. Maybe that was comforting to them? Having their curls pulled? He knew what his own curl did, but it was far from comforting... in fact, what his curl did made him seem like a pervert for touching theirs in the first place.

He trotted downstairs just as the phone rang a third, the last time.

He dove for the phone.

"Hello?" he said.

Static. Crackling static.

"Alfred?"

No reply. It might've been his imagination, but there seemed to be a shuffling noise in the background of the heavy static. It was probably just his imaginaton, though.

"Alfred," Matthew said, annoyed. "If you crinkling paper over the phone, it's not funny, okay? Just drop it, okay?"

Pause.

Matthew was about to hang up the phone when he heard a quiet murmur.

A mere whisper.

But through the static, the question rang clear.

"How were the children?"

Click.

Whoever had been on the phone hung up.

Matthew dropped the phone.

He collapsed onto the couch, clamping his hands around his eyes.

Who the hell was calling him?

How had they known what he was doing? How had they seen him?

Matthew stood up and spun in a circle, staring at every window, every shadow, every door with anxiety.

Something bad was happening.

These weren't just prank calls.

Someone was watching him. Someone was watching him and the children.

That set off a switch in his head.

His first thought was to run. Just grab the kids and run. Find the keys to one of Mr. Vargas's cars and just drive away.

But that was ridiculous. The children were sick.

He couldn't drag them outside on some wild run.

Besides, it might've just been Alfred, thinking it'd be funny to spook him. It could've just been coincidence that Alfred had called just after the children had claimed to see a man in their doorway.

Yeah, that was probably it.

Matthew's mind accepted it, but his heart wouldn't quit pounding.

He sat down with a sigh.

He closed his eyes wearily.

Calm down, calm down, calm down.

He wished he had someone to calm him down, someone he could trust that could tell him it was okay, that everything was okay. Someone he could trust to take care of him.

But he'd never had anyone like that. Because those who remembered him only thought of him as a strong individual, a loner. When he and Alfred had been down with the cold, much like the Vargas siblings, Arthur had come into their room and had sat next to Alfred all night long, gently rubbing his back. He'd looked at Matthew occasionally, from time to time, to make sure he was alright, but he, like the others, assumed Matthew was okay, stoic and used to being alone. Assumed that Matthew liked to be alone and didn't like to be touched, that Matthew was the independent one who didn't need anyone to care about him but himself.

And over time, that was what he'd become.

And he had to calm himself down because it wasn't fair to the children. It wasn't fair to worry them. He was the one taking care of them. He was the stand-in for authority, so he would be the strong one here, the one who'd reassure them that he would take care of them and that they would be safe.

His heart slowed back to its normal pace.

He opened his eyes.

The ceiling.

There was a splash.

A gentle splash.

His eyes wandered lazily to the window. The wide, panoramic window, to his right with the staircase going down across it, cutting through his view of the lake.

It wasn't the mountains or the lush green meadows or the colorful flowers or the swampy marshlands with fireflies and their sparkly wings and the fireflies sparkling yellow that hynotized him.

It was that damned lake.

He could see it. All of it. No deception. Transparency.

He could see it.

It could see him.

Matthew stared at it. In an almost trance-like state, he stood up once more and pressed both hands against the glass.

The glass was so cold.

But it almost felt warm. Beckoning.

He wished the glass was gone. That there was nothing between him and that yawning, gaping black hole-

Click.

His glasses had clinked against the glass.

Blinking, he pulled his face away.

There was a man standing behind him, reflected in the glass.

Inhale.

Massive pain in his back.

He had stumbled back and tripped, hitting the ground.

He flipped himself, defensively crouched, his mouth open in mid-scream.

There was no one there.

No one behind him.

He was alone.

He was alone.

A flicker of disappointment.

But that didn't make sense. He was disappointed? Why? Because there wasn't a murderer in the house, running around terrorizing him?

Matthew straightened up, clutching his aching back.

He felt chills on the back of his neck.

They said that the hair on your neck was almost a sixth sense, a warning that there was someone watching.

But there was nothing behind him but the lake.

He refused to look back. Looking back meant admitting what he wouldn't admit, what he couldn't admit.

That there was really no danger on the outside, but the inside. That the phone calls, the reflection, the children's "man in the doorway" wasn't the danger. He was.

Because if he was really honest with himself, he knew very well what darkness lurked in his heart, not outside.

That if the glass hadn't been there, he would've jumped.

And that was more dangerous than any villain, imagined or not.

Ring. Ring. Ring.

Ring. Ring. Ring.

He didn't want to answer it.

He knew it wasn't Mr. Vargas. He knew it wasn't his brother.

But he knew that he had to answer the phone.

"Hello," he said quietly. "I know it's you."

"AW, DAMN, YOU GOT ME! HI MATTIE! IT'S GILBERT!"

Matthew let out a scream.

"What? What? I was just messing with you! Calm down, birdie, it's just me!" Gilbert shouted. "You okay?"

"I-I guess. I mean," a short glance at the window. "I guess I'm fine."

"You guess? What's the problem? You need me to come over or what?" the albino shouted.

"No, no, I'm just- I'm just-"

"HEY GILBERT! COME ON, LET'S GO SWIMMING!" a girl shrieked on Gilbert's end.

"Yeah, awesome! Let's dump Yao first though! That'd be totally awesome!" Gilbert shouted.

Forgetting Matthew was on the phone, he hung up.

The Canadian closed his eyes, pressing a finger on the bridge of his nose and squeezing.

He put the phone on the glass coffee table.

As soon as he did, it rang.

He almost smiled.

Was Gilbert calling him back? Had he actually remembered, in a split second, that he had hung up on his Canadian friend?

"Gil? Gil?"

There was an awkward pause.

"It's okay," Matthew said softly. "I'm used to it."

Still a pause.

"Gil? I'm okay, you don't have to worry."

"But I do. Are you okay?"

That wasn't Gilbert's voice.

Matthew slammed the phone down on the glass without hanging up.

He stumbled back, his legs hitting the back of the couch and folding, letting his body fall.

He put a hand to his mouth, staring at the phone, his eyes glassy.

Tears began to roll down his cheeks, soaking his shirt as they spilled.

Sobs wracked his chest, but only a choked coughing sound could be heard.

No one had ever asked him that before. And certainly not a stranger.

He cried.

He cried.

He cried.

That was all that needed to be described.

That seemed like all he seemed to do.

The location changed, from his bedroom to his canoe, to the closet of a friend's house, to the Vargas's house, but it was all his life seemed to be.

Just one long night of crying, of sorrow, of tragedy not described by words other than "he cried."

A long, long night.

A sleepless night.

He wanted to sleep. He really, really wanted to sleep. He wanted the night, the never ending night to be over.

Just end it.

The hair on his neck rose.

The lake was staring at him again.

Could he resist it?

Did he want to?

It seemed like a dream.

A dream where scenes changed as quickly as his thoughts changed.

One second he was in the house, turning the alarm on as he left, the next he was on the cliff. The house was perched on said cliff, so there wasn't much space for him. But he'd never needed much space.

Six steps and there it was.

The lake was there. Waiting.

The lake didn't care for his life, but at least it would keep him.

If he went in, it would never let him go.

He was so ready. So ready for someone who wouldn't let him go. Someone who would hold him and never release him.

It wouldn't be caring. It wouldn't be love or affection. It would be... death.

But what else was there? What security did he have?

He was nothing more than a ghost. Just what was left of what should've been a human being.

His mind been beaten down into nothing after years and years of solitude and loneliness trapped inside his head with nowhere to go. His mind was a cage and all he'd done over the years to his pain was hide it. But it had been eating his mind, his soul, his heart every second until there was nothing left.

And now he was ready for his body to join it.

He began walking. Vaguely he was aware of the house behind him, of the children, sleeping in their beds, of someone he didn't know, calling mysteriously. Vaguely he was aware of the children, who needed him. Of the possible danger in this decision, not to himself, but them as well. He was leaving them behind, with someone who knew they were home alone and was somewhere nearby, somewhere they could see into the house. He knew.

But he was leaving life behind.

Nothing else mattered.

It wasn't life that would matter. It was death that would.

A step. A step. Another step. Another. One more...

And it was done.

Falling, falling, falling.

With a scream, his back arched and his body thrashed.

He opened his eyes.

He was on the couch. In the house.

The clock said it was midnight.

It was a solid, pitch dark black out there.

The windows were nothing but black.

It was like he was in a coffin.

But he wasn't dead.

And he couldn't see the lake anymore.

It had all been a dream.

Matthew didn't know whether he should be relieved or disappointed.

And that threw him for a second.

Did he- did he really want to-?

Something wet dripped into his lap.

His hair.

His hair was wet.

His body was aching.

He was soaking wet.

Had he been outside? Was it raining?

No.

The water on his skin had an... unhealthy green tint.

Lake water.

It wasn't a dream.

But if it hadn't been a dream... how was he still-?

Ring. Ring. Ring.

Ring. Ring. Ring.

Ring. Ring. Ring.

He let it ring.

A feeling of exhaustion, of confusion, of a dull kind of fear weighed down his limbs.

Someone. Someone was calling.

"Hello, this is the Vargas household. Please leave a message," came Mr. Vargas's recorded voice.

"Mattie? Dude, you okay? Sorry I forgot to say goodbye, man. This party was just so rocking awesome! I didn't mean to seem like an arrogant bastard or anything! I wasn't ignoring you or anything dude!"

Alfred or Gilbert? Both of them had forgotten. And it could've been either of them.

The mesage machine turned off.

He closed his eyes.

He wanted to sleep.

But he didn't want to ruin the couch. He sat up.

And realized that there was a coat around him.

A thick, giant coat, wrapped around him. So thick it felt like a towel. He stared curiously at it.

Beige. Warm. Large.

Whose jacket was it?

Where had it come from?

He bit his lip.

He pulled the coat tighter around his cold, wet body.

Maybe he'd pulled himself out of the water. Maybe he was brain damaged and couldn't remember pulling this coat out of Mr. Vargas's closet.

He checked the alarm. It was on. The code was written on a scrap of paper hidden behind the pad. He checked the message machine. There was Gilbert or Alfred's message, but no message from the security alarm company that would've called if it had been set off.

He rubbed his neck. He felt so cold.

Taking a hot shower would help.

He scrubbed the dingy lake filth off his body, trying to be thorough.

The coat.

The "dream."

The lake.

The alarm system.

Had he dragged himself in?

But if he had, then why could he remember it?

And why had he saved himself anyway?

Saving himself wasn't the plan. He was tired of saving himself.

There had to be someone else. Someone else involved in this story.

But he didn't understand!

The phone calls, the man, the noises, the little mysteries.

If there was someone watching him, did that mean they'd seen him jump?

Had they... saved him?

A trickle of cold water, just a single drop, ran down his spine.

He pulled back the shower curtains.

No one in the hallway. He started to wish he'd closed the door instead of stripping down and just hopping in the shower.

Unease.

But he couldn't place it.

But he soon quit trying.

There was a more pressing question on his mind.

Did he truly want to die?

That was a interesting question. One he wasn't sure how to answer.

Did he?

All evidence pointed to yes, he did.

But the moments he wanted to kill himself were rare and in-between.

Sometimes, he felt like he was obligated to live.

If there was anyone who'd notice his absence, it was his brother. And he didn't want his brother thinking it was his fault. He didn't want any of his family thinking it was their fault. Even if it was. He was obligated to fade out of existence completely before truly dying. He didn't want anyone to suffer because of him.

Angrily, he scrubbed his face until it felt raw.

How dare he?

He had actually left the Vargas kids without a caretaker. He'd left them alone. Been considering leaving them alone forever.

How could he? Abandoning his charges for a suicidal notion placed in his head and letting himself believe that there were no consequences for his actions?

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Selfish, selfish, selfish.

How dare he think about himself when all he was, was trash.

He wanted to apologize to the Vargases, but they were asleep and didn't know their babysitter had tried to kill himself but had somehow lived.

No, they didn't need to know that.

Squeak.

Matthew flinched at the noise, wincing as he felt pain splitting his back. He bent over, trying to reduce the pain to no avail. He'd just have to wait for the pain to pass.

After a few seconds, the pain faded and he could stand up straight again.

He pulled the shower curtains back with a squeak as the shower curtain rings scraped the metal rod.

The door was shut.

Matthew's throat went oddly dry.

"Lovino? Feliciano?" he croaked. "Was that you?"

He turned the water off and stepped out.

He took a white fluffy bathrobe from the hook on the door and stepped out into the hallway. He shivered; the floor was cold against his bare feet.

"Hello?" he dared call out. "Kids? Lovi? Feli?"

Silence answered him.

Fear clenched his heart, spiraling through his blood vessels and sending his adrenaline pumping.

He felt a scream building up inside his throat, but fear locked his mouth shut.

Calm. Calm. Calm.

It didn't mean anything, it didn't mean anything. It was just his paranoid mind. Just his sensitive mind. He was just feeling sensitive after trying to kill himself and then coming to his senses.

Just jumpy.

He checked the kids' room.

Feliciano was curled around his brother, both arms around his neck, his body pressed against his stomach while Lovino looked like he was trying to get away from him.

Cute.

Matthew felt a strange sense of calm from them.

He was the adult here. He had to take care of these kids.

Panicking would do none of them any good.

Ring. Ring. Ring.

The phone was ringing again.

The Canadian carefully stepped down the stairs.

"Alfred?"

"Hey Mattie! Did-get-ca-?"

"Alfred, you're going in and out," Matthew said. "Can you hear me?"

"Kind of. Mattie- sorry-didn't-party-couldn't-intense-stupid," Alfred's voice came in fragments.

"I can't understand you," Matthew said.

"Wait- going-find-be- reception."

The phone clicked off.

The Canadian waited.

It rang.

"Better now?" Matthew asked. "Can you hear me, Alfred? What were you saying?"

The phone clicked off again.

The Canadian sighed.

He put the phone down.

He walked back upstairs.

He hung the bathrobe back up before dressing himself, cleaning up the water he'd left behind from his shower.

He was about to rub his hair dry when the phone rang again.

Figuring it was Alfred calling him again, he wrapped the towel hastily around his head before trotting downstairs. He decided to just take the phone with him instead of this pointless running up and down. He took the phone.

"Hello? Al?"

"Are you okay?"

"What do you mean?" Matthew asked. "And how did you find such good reception? Are you coming home now or something?"

No answer.

"Are you coming home yet, Al? I-I don't think I'm okay."

"Why not?"

"Al?" Matthew frowned.

"No."

A quiet murmur.

Matthew felt his throat tighten and his stomach drop.

"Who are you?" he forced himself to say. "Why do you keep calling me? What do you want?"

No answer.

"What do you want? Why do you keep calling me?"

Static.

Heavy breathing.

Suddenly a fire, a burst of anger, flared inside his chest.

"Leave- leave me-leave me the fuck alone! Stop fucking calling me!" he shouted, feeling quite unlike himself. Quite different. He felt... angry. Furious.

Furious for being afraid.

"Stay off the fucking phone! If you're trying to scare me, then you can just stop! Just stop! It's not funny and if it's just for your sick amusement, then you can go fuck yourself!"

He slammed the phone down without letting the caller respond.

He was breathing hard, just glaring at the phone for a moment, feeling his heart beat uncomfortably against his ribcage.

For a moment, he panicked.

Who knew who had called? What if it was a psychopath? What if he knew where Matthew was, right now? What if he could see him?

His heart stopped when the phone rang once more.

He flinched.

What had he been thinking?

Was he insane?

Why had he picked now to stand up for himself? Why had he decided now to grow angry? To be furious instead of sad. To be fierce instead of a coward. To face a problem head on instead of simply hiding or waiting until someone else came to face it for him.

It rang again. And again.

He was so tired. So tired of being afraid.

He was tired of his heart, his little mousy heart that beat wildly all over the place, his little broken heart.

It hurt too much.

They said after a while, pain has to fade. No one can hurt forever. No one. He was numb to the pain. The pain was nothing to him anymore.

And logic was too.

He didn't answer the phone.

But he wasn't watching it with a wild-eyed fear.

He waited.

He glared at the phone and waited.

"Hello, this is the Vargas household. Please leave a message."

"Um, Mattie? I found better reception. I think." Alfred's voice was going in and out and crackling, but Matthew could make out most of what he was saying. The parts he didn't get could be guessed. "Listen, you don't have to answer the phone, but I just want you to know I'm sorry for making you stay in for me! This party is rocking, dude. Sorry you missed it, man. And thanks for standing in for me. It was really nice of you, bro. When I get back, I'll probably be drunk off my ass tonight, but maybe we can watch some movies tomorrow night? Just you and me? I feel bad, so we can spend some time together later... Love you."

Matthew lunged at it.

He pressed Talk and brought it to his ear.

"Hey Al? Alfred?"

Static.

Some crackling.

Matthew sighed.

He put the phone on the table and sat once more.

Feeling a surge of love for his brother.

Alfred actually cared about him.

He'd called knowing he'd been insensitive to his brother's feelings. He'd actually known how his brother had felt. He'd felt bad.

Matthew wanted so badly to hear his brother's voice again.

He wanted to hear him say "Love you" again, because as sad as it sounded, those words were alien to his ears.

He smiled.

Alfred was his big brother. Of course he cared about his brother. He was a fool to think otherwise just because his brother wasn't good at expressing it.

You mean he forgets it sometimes.

Before Matthew could really respond to the maliciously hurtful thought, the phone rang.

He seized it and answered it.

"Hey Alfred. Yeah, that'd be great. Thanks for calling me. Listen, could you- could you… come home? I mean, come here? I know you're party is amazing and all, but I kind of- I'm kind of… nervous up here. If-if you wouldn't mind watching movies now instead of tomorrow? I know you want to get wasted and all, but-but I really-"

Matthew couldn't say it. He just couldn't bring himself to say what he'd done, been trying to do.

It would've broken his brother's heart.

He wouldn't understand.

He'd blame himself.

He'd come home immediately.

"Alfred, I tried to kill myself a few hours ago. And- and I really can't handle being alone! So-so, could you please- could you please come over here? I can't- I can't… be alone anymore."

Maybe he wanted his brother to care. Maybe he wanted his brother to blame himself and feel guilty.

Maybe he wanted to know his brother cared and would be concerned.

No static this time.

Was Alfred listening intently? Was he shocked? Was he hurt?

"I-I really-really want to... hear you say you love me."

"I will."

Matthew screamed.

He was wrong. He was very wrong. He was very wrong.

He thought fear could only last so long.

He thought the pain of being afraid all of the time had numbed his pain core.

He thought his anger had overtaken his fear.

He thought his emotions were dry, withered out until there was nothing but a husk.

But no.

He was only human.

That voice, that voice.

Those words.

It was a man.

His voice was soft and gentle.

He sounded a little sad.

And he scared the wits out of the Canadian.

The fear was back. There was no escaping it.

The fear had never left him.

He sprung up off the couch. He flew up the stairs.

He made for the children's room.

"Feli? Lovi? Feli! Lovi! We're going to go to my house, okay?" he shouted. "I'm going to call my dad and-"

Matthew pushed on their door. It was locked.

"Feli? Lovi? Let me in! Let me in! We're in danger!" he shouted, pounding on the door. He didn't care if he was being paranoid.

He was scared.

He was scared of the caller, scared of being alone, scared of this big empty house with nothing but himself.

He just wanted to be home, where it was safe, or at least, comfortable.

He didn't want to be the adult.

He didn't want to be in charge.

He wanted to be home.

It wasn't his heaven. No, far from it.

But it was his home.

He wanted to be home so badly.

He wanted to be away from the uncertain fear of the phone caller, and the alluring lake, and the guilt of knowing he'd nearly committed suicide. He wanted to start again and never come near this place, never come near this haunted place where his heart had been torn open and put up on display.

All to someone he didn't know.

Someone who knew.

Knew things that no one else knew about him.

He was torn between fear and guilt and humiliation and grief.

Every emotion set his lungs on fire, causing his voice to burst out of its shell.

"Why did you lock the door, goddamnit?"

"D-don't-don't come in!" he heard Lovino cry fearfully. "Don't!"

"Let me in!"

"No! You can't come in! Get out of here! Leave us alone!"

"No!" Matthew tightened his fists.

This was going to hurt. It was going to hurt a lot.

He threw his body against the door, slamming his gangly limbs as hard as he could against the door.

The door's lock snapped.

He shoved the door open with a slam, not letting his throbbing shoulder or his bruised fist slow him down.

"Lovi-?"

Something hard and heavy smashed against his temple.

Bright white pain.

All he saw were bright white flashing lights.

"Matthew!"

The last thing he heard were the children's screams before sinking it blackness.

Lovino. Feliciano. Alfred.

I'm so sorry.


As am I.

So I'm starting another fic. You guys asked for it!

So you have asked, so you shall receive. This is now another updating project.

:P

Thank you for reviewing though. It was really kind. I'm sorry for the turdy ending, but this time, there's an excuse for the crappy ending, because it's not really the end!

I'm really contradicting my author's note at the top... but I won't delete it. I want everyone to know what this started out as.

So they can't blame me for how shitty it was after it's over.

Just kidding. :D

This isn't just a side project anymore.

*sigh* for better or for worse.