Summary: And this is what happens when you're dead.
Spoilers/Warning/Triggers: Language, violence, sexual situations
A/N: So this is a two-shot. This first part deals with the majority of ghosts in the house just doing stuff. The second part will have them interacting more. I kind of just wanted to write some stuff to get the ball rolling on my ahs_exchange fic and get me in the mood. Also I wanted to write Violate smut, and that smut wouldn't have worked for my ahs_exchange prompt so I needed to get it out of my system somehow. The poems are Neruda, I'm not a large fan of poetry but Neruda kind of challenges that.
Leave me a place underground, a labyrinth,
where I can go, when I wish to turn,
without eyes, without touch,
in the void, to dumb stone,
or the finger of shadow.
I know that you cannot, no one, no thing
can deliver up that place, or that path,
but what can I do with my pitiful passions,
if they are no use, on the surface
of everyday life,
if I cannot look to survive,
except by dying, going beyond, entering
into the state, metallic and slumbering,
of primeval flame?
When the House is empty, of any living residents, things happen. Routines persist, uninfringed upon by the flesh and blood and breathing.
No one's really changed, there's nothing to be gained by good behavior.
One of the perpetual teenagers might add "no sign of heaven anywhere in sight" a bit of wisdom set to a musical backdrop of a band that adheres to their policies of bitterness and regret and mental instability.
The shrill ting of his alarm startles him out of bed. Connie must have gotten up early, a hair appointment or to prune back the roses in the wake of summer ending, he knows because she isn't hissing at him to be quiet after the alarm clock falls to the floor with a bang and keeps ringing, spinning itself in a jangling, noisy circle.
Maybe she slept on the couch again, too much Jim Bean.
Once the alarm is set back where it should be he sits on the edge of the mattress and scrubs at his face, the stubble rough against his palm.
He needs a shave.
The sink basin is steaming and the water scalds his hands pink when he dips them in, he jerks them back and clenches them tight to get rid of the feeling.
"Your wife went to the store."
In the bed where he sleeps next to Connie.
And here she is again. So different from his wife, shy, sweet, no venom and barbs from the woman who washes his sheets and mops the floors.
He enjoys how domestic she is, how she makes him feel like a man again, an important one. Not just a shit-stain in the back of someone's underwear. Connie has always been a ball cutter, but that's what you get where you marry a girl whose father was richer than you'll ever be.
Her nails are red and she's wearing a shade of lipstick his wife would make her wipe off if she was home to see, but she isn't home to see.
And he's got to go to work.
But the way her fingers are stroking the edge of the door is making him strongly reconsider.
"You're going to make me late."
"You went in early two days ago; you deserve to sleep in a little. Don't you?"
She steps closer, he looks down, heels and underpinnings. He wonders if she's the one that sent his wife out for an early morning errand.
"You're going to make me very late."
"Well, maybe you should take the day off. Your wife has her bridge game today with that awful neighbor of yours."
She's lathering up his shaving brush in a way that is inexplicably arousing.
Moira is a tall woman but not so tall that he can't peer down into her parted uniform blouse.
When it happens it doesn't hurt. There's red ribbons of blood spilling down his chest and over the obvious erection encased in his white briefs, it sprays into her face and he crumples on the bathroom floor like a broken toy.
Brian calls Troy an asshole and Troy tells Brian to suck balls.
They go swinging through the front yard, smashing the hedges with aluminum bats. It makes a distinctive sound, the branches smacking against metal, hollow, light, like summertime and afterschool exploring.
Today they descend into the basement from the outside stairs and leave the door open, a rectangle of afternoon light Illuminating the first room they come into, stretching out across the cement floor. The light gets dimmer but it's not so dark that they will make excuses to leave on the basis of what lurks in the dark.
One twin smacks the other and a bat rolls under a work table. While he stretches underneath to retrieve it a wicked little girl dressed like a princess is waiting out of sight with a pilfered gas station lighter.
She giggles and the little boy with gleaming orthodontist work swears at the smell of burning hair. It's just singed but it makes both boys angry enough to chase the ghoulish little princess.
They are intercepted by a man in a leather jacket.
He won't do anything but he still sends them back out to the yard, he makes the smoldering girl hand over the stolen Bic and as the twins go they call him a faggot and break a jar holding a pig fetus.
Vivien isn't half bad. She's friendly and cheerful in the way neighbors who know it's your dog shitting on their lawn are friendly. Except it's not really a dog in this case shitting on the lawn of her and her husband's matrimonial bliss, it's his mouth on her husband's dick.
But she doesn't say anything and he doesn't say anything so they lie out in matching lawn loungers getting their tan on.
"How are things with you and Chad?"
"How are you and Ben doing?"
"He surprised me this morning."
"He caught that cat that comes into the backyard and strangled it for me."
Patrick adjusts his sunglasses and pours them both another glass of spiked lemonade.
There's a boy she sees sometimes. He seems so sad. He never tells her what's bothering him, she never really asks but she's been told she's a girl you can really talk to. But he won't talk to her.
He's lovesick, she thinks. Maybe.
And sometimes he leaves books behind when he leaves a room.
And sometimes he'll quote the most beautiful poetry she's ever heard.
She tells him so and he'll smile at her. But his smile is sad too.
Sometimes after he leaves his books behind she tries to recite the poems in them like they're one of her scripts.
She cries sometimes, because she's sad too. Fame is so lonely and there are bigger tragedies than hers in the house.
There aren't many people in the house who are willing to help her keep the boredom at bay. Sometimes she reminisces with Ben while Vivien is otherwise occupied but largely she thinks of that as Ben's brand of manipulation, giving just enough to keep her wanting more of him.
An embrace, some handholding, a stolen desperate kiss that he'll allow. It's pathetic but there's something addicting about being rejected so violently.
Vivien, for obvious reasons pretends she does not exist. The littlest Harmon avoids her like the plague or throws a scathing remark in her wake.
Tate will tolerate her for short spans of time.
Travis is always up for a quickie and she likes to keep the little burned girls in the basement occupied with stories and cartoon character voices but their mother has a things about women who try to steal husbands, but she's warming to her, figuratively of course.
Elizabeth is a planet revolving around itself, their conversations don't last long.
And if Elizabeth is a planet, Bianca the number one murder groupie is a goddamn space cadet.
Fiona is so self-important that she'd rather get hit with a shovel than talk to her.
Dallas is a moron. Capital M.
Moira is prickly and sour.
Rolling a ball back and forth with Beau is only fun for so long.
Chad is the closest thing to a friend she really has, go figure. He doesn't care so much about her and Ben's history, because cheating doesn't really get his goat unless he's the one being cheated on. Other people doing it is just another conversation piece for him.
Mostly she's not sad or lonely, she's just terribly bored.
Giving in to temptation and all that.
They don't make-out or talk the first time she goes looking for him, finding him half-asleep on the futon mattress he's dragged into an empty basement room, his own little hidey hole. They all have them.
He knows it's her and makes room, but they don't face each other because she'll leave if she has to actually look at his face and him because he probably hates not being able to tell her to fuck off, that it's too hard to have to look at her when he knows they aren't going to be everything they used to be.
She curls up against his back and presses a palm against his spine as the other creeps under his shirt feeling the thump-thump-thump of his fake heartbeat on her skin speed up, her nails scritch-scratch the fine dusting of hair on his chest and navel. Her fingerpads rub against the faint lines they might leave behind afterwards.
It's a habit. He used to smile, soft, sweet, and nice right down at her and call her a kitten. It was cute, made her feel like a mooning swooning fifteen year old girl.
She's trying to not cry, but her eyes are itchy and damp and she wipes tears away against his shirt covered shoulder-blades.
Before long she's shaking but he doesn't turn and gather her up like he might have before, she glad he doesn't. It's not like they're together anymore.
He's so warm though, she misses falling asleep warm, safe. With him. She feels him sigh, long and heavy and she cries harder, her nails digging in.
Everyone has their little hours of operation. Not her. She's on, around the clock, whenever there's a mess.
Dust settles everywhere, blood gets on the carpet and seeps into the wood, mud gets tracked in by careless feet.
And it's a thankless job.
Between him and a few of the like minded others, they keep the house in working order. Order on its way to splendor. It's a distraction. Curtains and rugs and throw pillows, a new shade of blue from the upstairs bathroom. Robin's Egg. It's perfect.
Some fake flowers.
A few new light fixtures to replace those of non-Tiffany manufacture.
The house is almost liveable.
He has to set the redheaded double menace straight a time or two but otherwise the house stays as he arranges it.
It's something to do.
He's no stranger to drunk, angry women, but she's not really a woman.
She's just a kid so he pushes her off him as gently as possible and tells her maybe she should go to bed.
She just snorts and calls him a pussy for turning down pussy.
Tells her she's too young.
She asks if he only does grannies like Constance.
He tells her she's being a bit of a bitch.
She says go figure and lights a cigarette, offers him one that he accepts.
He asks if she's okay.
She says she isn't and leaves.
He lies down on the couch and blows a sloppy smoke ring at the ceiling, gets the feeling that he's being watched and looks around the room.
Constance's son is sitting in the leather chair across the room.
He doesn't look happy. Probably because his girlfriend tried to kiss another guy, tried to kiss him. And wanted more than just a kissShit. He makes himself scarce.
Charles makes the fire and she makes the drinks. It's a rare moment of peace for them. She's dealt with the child all day and she's positively exhausted and when Charles made an unexpected appearance to surprise her with a small gift of new pearls she felt lightened by the gesture and passed the child off to Nanny.
She touches the three strings along her collar and smiles softly, Charles catches her and grins brilliantly back at her. She hands him his drink and they settle in for a quiet night by the fire.
It's the loveliest evening she's had in a long time.
Vivian's named the cat Sheba. It curls up in his lap while he smokes a cigarette on the front steps. Animals have always liked him, it's always been something of a private joke for him. He was the reason most of the neighborhood pets went missing.
It's raining today and the smoke stays close, the cat sneezes and he grins down at it, humming a little. It opens a dirty olive eye and regards him warily. It should.
He pushes it off his lap, towards the stairs. It startles and catches itself, running away out into the rain. It sits in front of the closed iron gate and stares out at the road, tail moving against the wet walkway.
Ben stares out across the wet asphalt too.
Sometimes he wishes he could just walk out, he used to sit out on these same steps some days when Vivien was out somewhere and Violet was at school and think he could just walk out the gates, leave, never come back, never be found again unless he wanted to be. He did it before once, when he was a kid.
He could have done it again.
But he stayed and now he can't leave.
She goes to find her daughter. Sometimes she's successful, most times she isn't. Violet can't be found if she doesn't want to be. She goes into the attic and finds Hayden instead. She doesn't stay to say hello. Her husband's betrayal is too real, too hurtful. Vivien doesn't trust herself with being around the things that have made her hurt.
He sometimes has an audience while he works, he lets them thread needles or dissect a small piece of scrap animal he keeps on the floor by his work table.
The twin boys or the little girls are his usual guests. They are helpful when they aren't bickering with their respective siblings.
Other times the older boy who sleeps in another one of the basement rooms, some tenant of Nora's, one of the maid's boys or perhaps the driver's, comes and offers him a surgical mask of ether, helps him to his chair, or mops his head with a sponge while he operates.
They talk often, he's in love with a girl who does not love him. The boy reminds him of himself during his courtship of Nora. Charles tells the boy to show his affection through gestures, gifts really. Especially when words will not suffice.
Other times his guest is Doctor Harmon. A smart man who knows anatomy well enough to be of some help with his experiments.
It's no secret she's always disliked Constance. The dislike has persisted despite Lawrence being gone, despite Constance getting so old she can't walk or shit or breathe on her own anymore. The old women next door has kept love for a few things, despite her shriveled, pathetic body and heart. And soul.
If she has one. If she didn't sell it for something useless to her now.
Constance loves her children and her Pall Malls and her roses.
And when Lorraine lets the girls outside to play in the sun under the watchful eye of the nice young man who she thinks was far too innocent to get tangled in the strings of Constance's plans and shifting moods, she trails careful fingers over the blooms she can reach.
Their leaves and petals and thorns blacken and crisp up, smoldering as she goes. And Lorraine smiles. Petty little amusements. Pastimes, really.
There are mean ugly boys who live in the house who take their dolls and cut off their hair and melt their hands and feet off on the furnace. There's a monster in the basement that is scary looking but silly too, because it's wearing a dirty lace dress with ribbons on it.
Sometimes it comes out while they are in the middle of tea time. It doesn't want to play though, just leaves them presents and then goes away after they dress them up.
The presents are dead though and some fur is missing, tails too, their eyes drip out of their head sometimes but after they put them in dresses and tie the hats on them, they are okay to play with and sit in little Barbie chairs. They sit in them better than their old dolls did.
And when her sister annoys her she can throw the stinkiest one at her to make her shut up.
He tries to write her poetry but he just can't figure out some composition of words that would make her mind turn back to thoughts of him.
He tries to do her favors, killing, maiming for her benefit.
But she knows why he's doing it. To win her back, not to set things right.
Setting things right has never been his thing. He's always been a fuck shit up kind of kid.
No amount of damage to anyone else around will help fix the things he broke between them.
A/N: Yeah, just one last part after this.