Red Yurei

Note: With Halloween coming up, I thought it would be a good time to write a scary story and so here it is! See if you can guess who is bothering poor Grell.

Disclaimer: The characters are not mine. They belong to someone else and this is just for fun.


It was the worst day in Grell's immortal life. Little did the red reaper know it was about to get worst.

It started out like any other day had. Grell had arrived at work twenty minutes late and William had assigned him a list of souls to collect. All except one had been in London; the oddball having the nerve to go die in some remote desolate location. Worst, the exact location had not been listed; just a vague description of the general area. That had not been helpful at all and so Grell had walked wearily all over the weed-choked countryside and into the woods.

His heel on his favorite boots had snapped off without warning and he had gone tumbling down a steep incline, getting all scratched up in the process. Luckily his face had been spared, but the sharp branches had raked his arms, chest and legs, tearing right through his clothing. His beloved red coat had been damaged as well, the bottom hem having torn free and the black bow being ripped right off. Then he had spent a painful hour limping around trying to find it as the day grew late, the sun setting. He had feared he might have also lost the little glass vial he kept Madam's soul in but to his relief it was still safe in his coat pocket. After finding the bow stuck to a branch on the side of a steep hill, which had been very difficult to climb with his now swollen ankle, he jammed it into his pocket and continued looking for the soul. Finally he found it; the corpse partly covered by fallen leaves already, and collected the soul and viewed the cinematic record.

He had to limp all the way back to London then, his ankle getting fatter and fatter the more he walked. He collected the others on the list, except for two who he feared had been stolen by hungry demons. He had been hours late but what could he do? "William should have given me a more precise location for that first soul! Really, what was he thinking of when he wrote "east of London in the woods by a big rock"? That could be anywhere!"

When he arrived back at the office, William had stabbed him in the head with his hedge trimmer, angry over how extremely late he had been. He had been accused of "consorting with that demon and wasting time" even thought he hadn't seen Sebastian for over a month. His pitiful state didn't soften the other man's anger at all. Ronald had already left for the day so he wasn't there to stick up for him. Eric stepped in though, pointing out his numerous injuries and the fact that his lovely hair was tangled full of burrs. There was no way he would romance the demon looking like a homeless waif who had camped out in the woods. But Spear's wickedly sharp death scythe had already done the damage: his clothes were even more blood stained now and he had a nasty headache to boot.

Eric and Alan helped him back to his apartment, apologizing for Spear's mad behavior and wishing him to get well soon. The two friends left, the apartment door clicking shut behind them.

And that is when things took a turn for the worst.

Grell was extremely weary. His head was pounding like a drum in a marching band and his poor ankle was nearly as fat as a pumpkin. He reached into his pocket, pulling out the black bow and the little glass bottle. Placing both items on the corner of his night stand, he started to remove his red coat. As he was pulling the coat off of his arm, the scarlet material flung outward and a bit of it struck the tiny glass vial, knocking it to the hardwood floor. The glass shattered, sharp shards flying everywhere. The smoky pink mist that had been locked inside hung in the air for a moment, quivering. Then it seemed to dissipate and vanished from sight.

"What?" Grell turned and saw the shattered bottle on the floor. A feeling of raw panic overcame him and his breath caught in his throat. He had thought the thick glass unbreakable and that was why he had used it. He had wanted to keep Madam's soul safe and with him, as he just couldn't bear to lose her even if he had murdered her. That had been an accident of sorts, his emotion overcoming him. And he really didn't want to see her name dragged through the mud and see her sent to prison. It would be horrid beyond belief. And so he had saved her from that.

And he had saved her from a worst fate as well. He was pretty sure murderers went to that fiery place below and since he had bottled her soul she never was sent there. Luckily, William had never noticed. For a "by the book" person, a lot of things slipped by him unnoticed.

And so Madame had stayed with him all of this time, safe in his pocket or sitting on his night stand. Often he would talk to her, tell her about his day and the events in his life. He moaned on how poorly William treated him and how much he loved Sebastian. In a way she was the only real friend he had as his co-workers thought him weird and so didn't associate much with him outside of work. It was a lonely life.

And now he had lost her.

"Where did you go?" Grell cried as he frantically scanned his bedroom for the lost soul. She should be easy to see with his special Shinigami eyes but he just didn't see her anywhere. He looked between his bottles of perfume and makeup, stared up at the ceiling and even painfully got down on his sore knees to look under the bed. The bright red pain that shot through his knees didn't matter, as he had to find her. But no matter where he looked he couldn't find her soul. He collapsed on the floor, crying. It was too much at once.

He lay there for some time, too weak to move. Finally he shoved himself to a sitting position, the scratches sending fresh bursts of hot pain through him as his body moved. He wiped at his wet eyes, sure he must look like a demented clown now with black mascara streaks running down his face. The crying had stuffed his nose and it was hard to breathe. He really needed to blow it but that meant getting up off of the floor. And every time he moved, a new burst of pain shot through him. He really didn't want to think she was lost to him for all eternity. He had never said goodbye to her before, as Ciel had.

He hadn't even attended her funeral.

But now the lost hit him like a brick to the head.

Twisting around, he clung to the bed's frame and weakly pulled himself to his feet. Reaching out for the next piece of furniture to lean on, he made it to the wall and then into the bathroom. Flicking the modern electric light on, he was horrified to see the ghastly state he was in. Ugly dried blood from his head injury stained the front of his white shirt and even had ruined his pretty bow tie. And his hair! Instead of the smooth free flowing locks he fancied it was a tangled mess of sticky brown burrs. "Oh, I hate those burrs! It'll take me hours to get them out!"

But then he remembered how Madame was gone and the drive to get them out vanished. His injuries and extreme tiredness didn't help any either. The hour was late, past midnight actually and he desperately needed sleep. He weakly picked up a tissue and blew his nose, clearing it. His lovely green eyes were bloodshot and yes, he looked like a raccoon. He washed his face the best he could and patted a wet soapy cloth at the scratches halfheartedly. It just didn't seem that important, not with the aching hollow in his heart.

Limping, he made his way back to the bedroom and crawled under the blanket, the scratches burning with each move. The wet cloth had been like pouring acid on the wounds, but he knew they needed to be cleaned. One would think an immortal would be immune to pain but unfortunately that was not so. Thinking he would deal with his hair tomorrow after a good rest, he lay his head on the soft pillow.

He had almost fallen asleep when a loud bang woke him up.

Grell shot upward in bed, his heart pounding within his rib cage. His bedroom was dark except for a weak beam of light that shone in from a streetlight outside his window. The weak light made the dark room more grey than black, allowing him to see the familiar shapes of his furniture. He clutched his blanket with red painted nails, his breath coming short and fast. Normally he was very fearless but that unexpected sound had startled him as it was out of place. The Shinigami apartment complex was usually peaceful and silent at night unless some emergency came up but then they would be notified. The loud bang, however, was out of place.


The noise came again and Grell flinched, instinctively drawing the fuzzy blanket up to his chin and cowering under it. The echoing sound seemed too close, as if it were in his apartment and not down the hall somewhere.

Except he was alone, wasn't he?

His green eyes scanned the darkness but he didn't see anyone. Still, logic told him inanimate objects couldn't make noise by themselves.

And that meant someone was in his apartment!

The frightening sound came again, in three quick successions.


Grell squealed in fright, his thin battered body trembling. He also realized the noise was being caused by his apartment door being slammed shut repeatedly. Realizing he would have to get up and go do something about it, he threw off his blanket with a trembling hand and inched out of bed. His poor ankle shot hot fire up his leg when he put his weight on it, but he had little choice. There was no way he could sleep with that racket going on anyway and he needed sleep desperately. Still, he picked up his chainsaw off of the dresser, just in case. His tired brain could make no sense of it, why someone would be doing this to him in the middle of the night…

By the time he reached the door, he found it yawning wide and with no one in sight. The hallway was deserted as he had expected, the dim night light down the hall flickering in an odd manor and then it went out. For some reason that creeped him out even more. Why would the light burn out now of all times? Was it just coincidence? His breath came faster as he stood in the now pitch black hall, only the dimmest light leaking out of his apartment from the distant streetlight. Moments ticked by and nothing happened; no one leaped out to grab him or yell some scary sounds. His heart rate slowed and he breathed a sigh of relief.

The red reaper leaned against the frame of his doorway, his fear giving way to yawns. The chainsaw seemed like a thousand pound weight in his hand and he didn't fully understand why he had dragged it with him to the door. The reason seemed silly now. His fellow reapers wouldn't hurt him. Sure they were often rude and thought him weird and maybe a few even laughed at him but surely they wouldn't hurt him, would they? He tried to puzzle out an explanation but his brain felt like cotton candy. He yawned loudly, wet tears running down his face. Turning, he inched back into the apartment and locked the door this time. He normally didn't lock it as he never had to before, but maybe the hinges were bad? He crawled back into bed and kept the chainsaw close by, just in case. Truth be told, he still felt a tad jittery…

Minutes ticked by and soon he fell into a restless sleep. He had been sleeping only a short time when the door unlocked itself with a loud click. The reaper mumbled in his sleep at the sharp sound, drawing the fuzzy blanket over his head of tangled red locks. Then the door opened with incredible speed, the doorknob slamming into the wall behind it and cracking the plaster with a spider web pattern.

Grell shot awake again, his green eyes wide with fright. The prowler, whoever it was, had returned! He scrambled out of bed as quickly as he could, snatching his chainsaw off of the dresser where he had put it only moments ago. He held the weapon in front of himself as he slowly and painfully inched towards the door. He stepped on something and paused, glancing down. He bent a tad clumsily and picked the item up; trying to see what it was in the dark. The texture was familiar though. It was one of his fancy dresses he kept in the closet for when he went to the opera dressed as the woman he really was. But what was it doing on the floor? Carefully moving towards the wall, he felt around until he found the switch. Flipping it up, he turned the light on. The bright light blinded him for a bit, the whiteness stinging his poor eyes but when his eyes had adjusted, he was shocked by what he saw.

Someone had tossed all of his clothes out of the closet and onto the floor!

Hot fear swept through him then, as the sight was so disturbing. To think someone had been pawing through his things while he had slept just a short distance away! He then glanced towards the apartment door and saw it yawning wide again, even after he had locked it. Had the person already been inside after he locked it?

Grell's grip on the chainsaw tightened, his knuckles turning white. He scanned every corner of the room he could see but didn't see any lurking shape of a person. In his current state, he was in no shape to fight someone even if he was the best reaper on the dispatch. He hobbled out into the hall as quickly as he could and moved to the closest room to his. The light that had been off before was back on again, but the fact really didn't register in his sleep starved brain. He pounded on the door as best he could, hoping the sound would wake the reaper within.

He heard a few muffled grunts and then the door opened. Eric stood there looking half asleep with a hastily pulled on unbuttoned shirt. "What?"

"Someone broke into my room and threw all of my clothes out of the closet!" Grell cried to the other reaper as he stood only on one foot, the injured one lifted in the air. Mostly it was the wall he was leaning against that was keeping him upright. "I tried to rest but someone kept slamming my apartment door over and over…"

Eric took one glance at Grell's pitiful state and swore. "That devil! He just won't let it rest, will he?"

"Huh?" Grell felt confused. As exhausted as he was, he just couldn't follow the other's thought patterns. Besides, the word "devil" only brought up thoughts of Sebastian and Grell knew it had not been him. That little brat kept his poor Sebas-chan on a short leash.

"Spears, who else do you think?" Eric explained as he wrapped an arm about Grell's shoulder and started to help him back towards his wrecked apartment. They had only taken a few steps when Alan appeared in the hall in a pair of pajamas, having emerged from Eric's room.

"What's going on?" The sick reaper asked as he rubbed his tired eyes. It was clear from his tossed hair and the tired expression on his face that he had been asleep.

"Spears trashed Grell's room it seems…" Eric replied in a sour tone.

"But…but… it couldn't be William!" Grell blurted out, his green-yellow eyes wide with shock. It was no secret he had a crush on William as well and enjoyed flirting with the grim man. Of course, the other never returned any affection at all and seemed disgusted with it all. Well, maybe not disgusted but annoyed. Yes, it annoyed him to no end but that didn't stop the redhead from trying over and over. And that, of course, annoyed William even more.

"Who else could it be?" Eric replied as he paused in the doorway of Grell's room to survey the mess. "He was angry at you earlier, wasn't he? He always has that stick up his butt and wants everything to be perfect. Those two souls didn't get collected and clearly it bugged him a lot more than he let on. And so he sat in his office bubbling and stewing and then he did this…"

Grell tried to imagine William, his dear William, doing this and just couldn't. "But he couldn't!"

"People have secrets, Grell." Eric explained as he stared the other in the eye. "You think you know someone but you have no idea what they're really capable of doing. A person like Spears is a bomb waiting to go off. The man doesn't know the meaning of the word "relax" and that's bad."

"As much as I hate to agree," Alan added from where he stood next to Eric. "I think Eric is right. He's always hitting you with that hedge trimmer of his. He doesn't do that to any other reaper. Ask yourself why."

"He's prejudice is what!" Eric exclaimed with a frown. "Look at yourself. You have dried blood all down the front of your shirt and William did that to you. If you don't put a stop to it, it'll only get worse."

The words sunk into the Grell's tired sleep-starved brain and he realized it was true. William never did stab any other reaper with his death scythe. Why hadn't he ever noticed that before? Still, it was hard to believe that he would do something like this…

"Look, don't worry about this mess." Eric reassured him as he waved his hand at the clothing tossed all over the floor. "Alan and I will clean it up and then we'll spend the night here to make sure he doesn't return. I find this just as disturbing as you do…"

Grell was helped over to his bed and the bloody shirt was removed in favor of a clean nightgown. The red reaper blushed at the attention the two were showing him, but he felt much safer with them in his apartment. He really couldn't believe it had been William but he couldn't think of anyone else either. Did one of his co-workers really hate him so much? He let Eric check his wounds as Alan hung up the clothes on hangers and placed them back into the closet. Thankfully none of his under-things had been tossed out of the drawers as that would be rather embarrassing. And the idea of some stranger pawing through his red lacy pantaloons was sickening. If that ever happened, he really didn't know if he could ever wear them again.

The terror of the break-in had made him completely forget that he had lost Madame until he saw Alan sweeping up the shards of the broken bottle. Just the sight of it made him sniffle, his eyes getting teary. His throat tightened painfully and he could feel the hot tears leaking out from under his long fake lashes.

The other two, however, misunderstood his tears.

"Don't cry. We won't let that scum hurt you any more…" Eric promised as he sat on the edge of Grell's bed. "I should have stepped in earlier to do something about this, but I had my hands full. I know that's not any excuse though…I just didn't think it would come to this."

"But what can we do?" Alan asked Eric with a sad expression on his pale face as he dumped the broken glass bits into the nearby wastebasket. "If it was William, he'll just deny it. And as our supervisor, he's in charge…"

"There must be someone higher up…" Eric replied with a frown.

"But who?" Alan asked as he handed Grell a box of tissues off of the dresser.

"I'll find out." Eric promised with a hard glint in his eye.

Grell dabbed at his wet eyes and blew his drippy nose, still crying about his lost Madame. He would tell them if he could, but he didn't know how. What he had done broke a bunch of rules as he wasn't supposed to hang onto souls or stuff them into bottles to keep as pets. But he had loved her and had needed someone to talk to. And if he told them about Madame, then he'd have to tell them about his time as a butler and well, they might think that was weird. Shinigami just didn't serve as butlers to humans.

"Do you want me to fix your hair?" Alan asked softly.

The red reaper nodded and turned slightly so Alan could get behind him. With the comb and brush from his dresser, Alan started to slowly untangle the long locks and remove the countless brown burrs. He was careful not to yank them out and was extremely gentle, which Grell appreciated. He often felt alone and isolated from his co-workers and normally their indifference didn't faze him one bit, but now he greatly appreciated all they were doing. A section of hair was done at a time and before Grell knew it, his most beloved possession was back to its normal free-flowing state.

"All done. Why don't you try to get some sleep?" Alan suggested as he got up off of the bed and put the hair care items back where he found them. "We'll make sure that Spears doesn't come back."

A nice pleasant warmth filled him at the words, knowing that they cared so much about him. He snuggled under the blanket feeling safe and secure. "Thanks. It means a lot to me."

"If Spears comes back, I'll bash him in the head." Eric threatened with a crooked grin on his face. "Maybe then he'll learn to act like a proper supervisor and not to discriminate."

Alan made himself comfortable on a chair near the dressing table and Eric flicked the light off. The darkness returned and only the sound of Eric moving away from the light switch could be heard. A chair creaked, signaling the other reaper had seated himself. The room was silent except for their soft breaths and the occasional creak of the furniture as they shifted about to get comfortable.

Grell tried to still his mind but he couldn't. He tried to imagine William sneaking into his dark bedroom to do those things and the image just wouldn't come. Was Eric right? Was William really that different than what he thought he was - that strict and uptight persona? Of course, Ciel never dreamed his dear aunt could be a murderer either so maybe it really had been William after all? Eric was right about one thing: sometimes you really don't know a person at all even if you think you do.

The pain throbbed steadily in his head and in his ankle, the pain thumping in time to his heartbeat. The numerous scratches burned, too, but not as badly. Those he could live with. He was used to pain really. The fact that someone had invaded his personal space and attacked his beloved possessions hurt far more. Time ticked by and Grell found himself drifting off to sleep without even realizing he was doing so.

And soon he was dreaming…

His beloved Madame was standing there in her favorite red outfit with the white ruffled blouse, the wide brimmed red hat perched on her head. His heart leaped with joy upon seeing her again as it had been so long and he dashed up to her as quickly as he could as in the dream his injuries was gone. Then he noticed her frown and he skidded to a halt. "Madame?"

"You disobeyed me Grell." She said sternly. "A proper butler is supposed to obey his mistress's orders. You know that."

"But I…" Grell paused as the excuse died on his lips. He tried to think up a witty comeback but his mind had gone blank. Instead the guilt he had carried over her murder rose up, guilt he didn't even know he had. He had saved her from an awful fate so why the sudden guilt? Maybe it was dragged up from deep within due to seeing her face to face again?

"Yes?" Madame stood there glaring at him, one hand on her hip. Her red eyes looked bloodier than ever and they glowed with unshed fury.

Grell quivered in his high heeled boots, his bony knees knocking together. He had forgotten how glorious Madame Red could be when she was killing prostitutes. Her fury exploded out then as she did her wicked deeds, ending the women's useless lives on the streets and poverty stricken parts of town. He had loved her when she had been drenched in blood, her sharp scalpels dripping…except that anger had never been directed at him before. The fake persona he had created of the clumsy, unsure butler suddenly seemed more a part of him than he had realized. With that unwavering angry stare his confidence fizzled out and died. He took an uncertain step backward, his immortal heart thumping unusually fast. "I'm sorry!"

"Sorry doesn't cut it, Grell. Sorry works for a broken plate or teapot." Madame Red coolly explained as she glared at him. "A death scythe through the chest is not the same at all."

He gulped nervously, beads of sweat pouring off of his brow and into his green eyes, stinging them. He thought frantically as what he should do or could do but his mind drew a blank. He just had never been confronted like this by someone he had killed before. He licked his suddenly dry lips, pausing for time. He felt he had to say something, anything. She deserved that much he knew; an explanation. But how do you explain a spur of the moment decision, especially one you regretted later? The truth was he had been sickened and disappointed by her willingness to spare Ciel. He didn't realize how much she had loved the little brat but clearly she had and it had annoyed him greatly. And so he had done what he had.

"Well? What do you have to say for yourself?" She asked as she stood there impatiently thumping the toes of one blood covered shoe on the floor. Both hands were on her hips now and if anything she looked more furious than ever. "You kill me and then I don't even get an explanation?"

"It was an accident!" Grell wailed out as he fell to his knees on the floor before her, quivering in fear. A bitter taste filled his mouth as he tilted his head back to look up at her. He watched as her hand slid into a pocket on her skirt and pulled something forth, the item gripped securely in her tightened fist. To his horror he realized it was the sharp scalpel she had used on the prostitutes. His green-yellow reaper eyes could see the brownish flakes of dried blood where the blade met the wooden handle all too well. The long steel blade shone in the light as it was raised in preparation for plunging it downward at him.

"This will be an accident too then." She replied. "I'm sure you'll understand…"

Grell shrieked like the girl he claimed he was, a high pitch blood-curdling scream. Any moment the scalpel was going to plunge into him as it had already started its downward swing. He weakly threw an arm up to block it but didn't have any faith that it would succeed.

And then his shoulders were being shaken, a gruff voice telling him to wake up. Grell shot upright in bed, the horror of the nightmare still fresh in his mind. He immediately glanced down at his chest, half expecting to see the scalpel poking out of it, the blanket drenched with blood. He didn't see anything though and his mind was still having a hard time believing that the nothing was true – surely the scalpel must be there? And so he ran his hands over himself, feeling only the smooth silk of his nightgown. His breath was coming fast and his palms were sweaty, his heart racing at a crazy speed. He realized he must look like a mad person but at the moment he didn't care.

"Hey, relax…" Eric's voice said from beside him. "You were having a nightmare so I woke you up. Seems like Spears really rattled you this time. He should be demoted for such sick behavior…"

"A nightmare?" Grell turned to glance in the direction of the voice and in the dim gray light of the room he could just make out the other reaper's form. Eric was sitting on the edge of the bed and looking at him. "But it seemed so real…"

"That's how dreams are." Eric replied and laid a reassuring hand on Grell's shoulder. "Alan has trouble sleeping, too, so I'm kind of used to this so don't feel embarrassed or anything…"

The red reaper relaxed a tiny bit, sure now that he had not been stabbed. He willed his heart to stop racing but he could still feel it thumping away, the adrenaline rushing through his system. His Madame had looked so real, so glorious…he missed seeing her like that all covered in wonderfully red blood and releasing her wrath. If only it hadn't been aimed at him!

But maybe dreams were the only thing he had left now as her soul had been lost. He would miss talking to her for hours as he held the little bottle. But who could he tell his problems to? Eric had enough problems caring for Alan and he hated to intercede on a daily basis. Should he ramp up his pursuit of Sebas-chan? Perhaps if he tried harder they could have a real relationship?

"Are you going to be OK?" Alan's soft voice asked.

"I'll be fine." Grell reassured them. "The prowler hasn't returned?"

"Not that I know of. It's been very quiet. Well, I did hear a few odd squeaks – not sure what that had been." Eric patted his shoulder reassuringly. "Don't worry. If Spears returns, we'll catch him in the act. He'll have some tough explaining to do then."

"Yes, I heard those odd squeaks too." Alan said from within the dark room. "I had almost drifted off to sleep and then those odd sounds started. I don't think I ever heard them before. What do you think they were, Eric?"

"I have no idea." The older reaper admitted. "I doubt if it's important though, as I locked the door."

"But I locked the door before and the prowler still got in." Grell told them as he stared into the dimness of the room. Before his little apartment was soft and cozy, a place he could relax, unwind and be himself. He would curl up in bed with a wicked romance novel and a decadent plate of sweet treats, like ripe strawberries dipped in chocolate. At other time he would buy a box of Funtom's chocolate covered cherries and pretend they were a gift from his darling Sebas-chan. A sudden chill coursed through his veins as a thought occurred to him, a horrifying though. "You don't think its mice, do you? Those filthy rodents could ruin all of my belongings!"

"No, these squeaks sounded different…it's hard to explain." Eric replied.

One of the shadows in the room moved, growing taller as Alan stood from the chair he had been sitting on. "Maybe we should turn the lights on and check? It's better to play it safe, isn't it?"

"Yeah, I think you're right." Eric agreed as he also rose from the edge of the bed, stretching his legs for a moment. "Who knows what crazy thing Spears might do? I was watching but if he were to dress completely in black he could blend into the shadows in here easily. I'll get the light."

Grell listened to Eric walk across the room and shaded his eyes with a hand in preparation for the overhead light being flicked on. The blinding white light came on then and he winched, his eyes stinging from the sudden brightness. After a few moments his eyes adjusted and he could see Eric glancing about the room. Everything seemed to be in its right place: the books on the shelf, the clothes in the closet and so forth. Nothing had been destroyed or tossed about by unseen hands. Grell breathed a sigh of relief and leaned back against his soft pillow.

Then he noticed how pale Alan's face looked. Well, Alan always did look a tad pale due to the Thorns but at the moment his face was as white as a sheet. He stood next to the bed, trembling. His green ringed eyes were wide in horror behind him glasses and his mouth had dropped open to hang agape. Slowly he lifted a shaking hand to point at Grell's dresser.

"Look!" Alan cried as he pointed at something. "Someone was in here!"

Eric hurried forward, his unbuttoned shirt blowing open from his haste. When he saw whatever Alan had seen, his face grew dark with anger. "How the devil did he do that? We were right here!"

"What, what is it?" Grell asked as he leaned forward, wanting to know what it was the two could see. In order to see it, he either had to turn around in bed or get out of bed, as he was facing the wrong way. And so he threw off his blanket yet again, swung his legs over the side until his bare feet were on the floor and then heaved himself up onto his good foot, one hand on the bed for support.

And what he saw scratched onto his ornate oval mirror shocked him. His favorite red lipstick tube lay open, the end blunt. Words in greasy red had been hacked onto the mirror's surface in quick angry strokes. How anyone could sneak next to his bed when Eric and Alan had been on guard was beyond him, but sneak they did. The blood red words were proof of that.