So what if I never hold you...or kiss your lips again...
Alice Brandon's eyes opened, looking around wildly as she did so, it had been so long since those words were spoken to her and in that voice and yet it sounded so familiar to her, like an echo that she couldn't quite make out as her hazel orbs looked around the empty room of her padded cell and she sighed softly. He had been gone a little under twenty-four hours, and already she felt her vision burn and memories fading with time, the electroshock therapy she had been undergoing was threatening to make her to forget it all. She had to hold on, had to force herself to remember, if she forgot then she might forget the sound of Joseph's voice and she couldn't imagine going through life without remembering him, she knew he would be coming back for her, she just needed to be patient, that was all. She reminded herself of his promise to return for her as she let her memories come to life before her eyes, she couldn't forget, there was just no way, she had come too far to give up now...

It was December 1916, Mary Alice Brandon had been committed to the Briarside Institution for the Mentally Incapacitated...a fancy series of words to state that one was being committed to an insane asylum never to be seen from again. She was fifteen years old when her father dragged her inside the building, she tried to fight him but her short stature and petite frame made her far too easy to pick up and carry over his shoulder as tears streamed down her cheeks, she was afraid and there was no way to deny that she was, she wanted to go home. No, she wanted to run away and never come back, to forget the visions about seeing her mother murdered, the ones about her father paying a man to do this to be able to marry his mistress, the ones about paying the same man that had murdered her mother to come for her next. She knew that the day would come, she had run to her aunt's house but they had turned her away, they didn't care for her strange gift at all, so she had run to the marshal who had promptly taken her back to the home she had escaped from just hours earlier, calling her a liar for the things she had claimed. Her father had been livid that she had run off and worse, had told people the truth though no one believed it, Jackson Brandon was far too well off in the community to ever be thought such things about.

So now here they were at Briarside where he planned on having her committed and forgotten about, he had already stated to many that he was taking her to a special hospital on the outskirts of Mississippi that specialized in rare diseases to have her looked at. It was his plan to go home and tell people that she died while she was there, so that no one thought to come looking for her, that was the best way to go he thought as he didn't want anyone to ask questions about her whereabouts or what had happened to her. Alice knew that there was no way to get out of this, she had tried to do anything she could think of, right down to pleading and promising that she would never tell anyone nor would she ever run away again but to no avail as he set her on her feet so he could fill out the commitment papers. The moment her feet touched the floor, she bolted for the door but was grabbed by two orderlies, taken down to the ground screaming as Jackson filled out the paperwork, the director of the institution watching over the scene as she screamed that she wasn't crazy and didn't need to be there. To no avail, as a female nurse came to escort the two orderlies with Alice to her new cell, she tried to fight but there was just no use in trying to get away, they towered over her and their muscular frames showed no signs of letting her go.

A melody, a memory, or just one picture...anything that could take away the pain for even just a moment or two in time, she had a feeling that these walls she was being taken were the walls of death and the only way she would ever be taken beyond them was when she was stone cold and no longer breathing the air of the Earth. She was thrown into a padded cell, the storm slammed shut and locked before she could reach it, pounding on it to be let out, clawing at it until her nails were broken and her fingertips were left bleeding, tears streaming down her cheeks as she shivered in cold and fear. She could hear the wailing and caterwauling of the other patients down the halls, carrying on about how they wanted out or screams of pain, people talking to themselves and so much more, it frightened her down to her very core. She moved away from the door and into the furthest corner of the room, drawing her knees up to her chest and wrapping her arms around her legs, staying as small as she could as she began rocking back and forth, singing a soft song her mother had once sung to her to herself over and over, trying to block out the sounds beyond the door.

It was nightfall when the door was finally opened once again, a woman standing in the doorway in a pristine white uniform that stood about five foot seven to five foot nine in height, she had blonde hair trapped in a tight bun at the nape of her neck and striking blue eyes as a soft and very fake smile appeared on her lips. "Mary Alice Brandon, I am your nurse Francine, I expect you to take orders and be good otherwise you will be stripped of any and all privileges that come to you, do I make myself clear?" she said firmly, hands upon her hips as Alice licked her lips and nodded. "Good, on your feet Mary Alice, you will be referred to as such merely because we have four different patients with the first name Mary, now follow me and nothing bad will happen to you," she said, waiting for Alice to get slowly to her feet before taking her by the arm and escorting her out of her cell. She was stern, there was no denying that, and Alice was sure that outside of these walls she was probably a very good person with a good heart but in here she had to put on a front to be sure she kept her job, she didn't hold it against her, not many women were allowed to work in these days yet.

Still though, she was unprepared when she was taken into a small room and ordered to remove her clothing, Francine watching her as she did so before grabbing her by her forearm and leading her into the shower, turning on the icy cold water as she did so, pushing her under the water. Alice gasped as the cold water make goose flesh appear upon her arms and she shivered as she felt someone grab her hair to wash it before cutting in painfully short, her locks that had once gone down to her waist now gone and forgotten as something was muttered about the possibly outbreak of Typhoid. Once she was cleaned to Francine's standards, she was moved into a clean room where she was given a set of pajamas that were so light blue that they were almost white and told to put them on before Francine moved her into a new padded cell, closing the door behind her. "Sleep, or no breakfast in the morning," she ordered, closing the small window that looked into her room from the door, leaving Alice to sit on the uncomfortable bed shivering. She was more frightened than ever as she took the thin blanket and covered herself with it the best she could, closing her eyes and attempting sleep.

She awoke when footsteps approached and stopped in front of her door, keys jingling as she sat up, the door opening to reveal a man standing there, he was at least in his thirties, very pale with black hair and eyes the color of liquid Topaz, that was the only way to describe them in her mind. He smiled, it reached his eyes he noticed, as he gave a gentle bow of his head before he spoke, and she would forever remember that his voice sounded like silk if it had the embodiment to speak. "Good morning Mary Alice, I am Jacques, your run of the mill orderly and humble servant if I may be so bold to say so," he said, that same smile on his lips, almost as if reassuring her that it was alright to come out, another patient at his side that had long auburn hair that fell to his ankles and violet eyes. "Don't be afraid, this is Nathan Wilson, another patient and lost soul such as yourself, I am only every nice to the special ones," he said, Nathan's eyes twinkling as she finally came out of her cell to take Jacques hand, and he squeezed it gently. "Now then, off to breakfast shall we?" he said leading them to the large cafeteria.

"Alice...I like to be called Alice," she said softly as they walked and she saw that friendly smile come to Jacques lips once more, he seemed pleased to hear her speak and she decided that she liked him much more than she did Francine. "Ah then, Alice, it seems you have fallen through the looking class but consider me the Mad Hatter and Nathan here the March Hare that have come to lead you upon the way shall we?" he said, prompting a soft giggle to escape her lips, she remembered her mother reading her those books often, they were her favorite. She nodded her head, her now short, black hair bouncing around her face as they showed her to a table that she could sit down at while they went to collect breakfast for her so that she did not have to wait in the horribly long lines, and they soon returned, Jacques with two trays, one of which he set down in front of her so that she could start eating, which she did slowly despite the blandness of the food.

"I found that if you don't think about what you're eating it goes down a bit easier," Nathan said softly as she nodded and thought about it from what he said, it was easier to eat that way she had to admit and was thankful that he had suggested it. She wondered why Nathan got to keep his hair long when the rest of them had such short hair, almost at if he had read her mind, he cleared his throat and looked at her. "They keep cutting my hair but it grows back so fast that they finally grew tired of trying, plus I have a natural immunity to Typhoid," he said, which made her nod, it made sense to her indeed. And so began the tradition of eating their meals together-she, Nathan and Jacques who almost never touched a thing on his tray, stating that he had lunch in his office if he got truly hungry. She was scheduled to start seeing a doctor but he was not to arrive until sometime after Christmas, so she would just have to bide her time until then, her birthday was on the twenty-first and she would be turning sixteen before she ever saw the doctor.

The weeks passed by rather quickly, though Jacques came the night of her birthday to let her out of her cell along with Nathan to have a small birthday celebration together, she noticed that Nathan looked worn and had since the full moon though she never questioned him, she knew that this place was draining. It was the day after Christmas when the new boy arrived, she could hear him from down the hall screaming that he was not crazy and she sighed, she felt sorry for him, she had been there just weeks earlier and knew his screams would be to no avail as she sat upon her bed waiting for Francine for her morning shower. She came two hours later, taking her harshly by her arm, it was clear the nurse had had a very bad night prior as she gripped Alice so tightly that she had bruises forming on her pale skin underneath her fingers before she was told to strip down and get into the shower. Francine was behind schedule which meant that Alice was the one to pay for her anger, stepping under the cold water as the new boy was brought into the large shower room, told to wash himself up, and she looked over her shoulder at him. He had light brown hair that was short, it had recently been cut she could tell and when her hazel eyes met his soft brown ones she felt almost a jolt before he turned his back to give her privacy and she did the same.

Once dressed, she was taken back to her cell to wait for Jacques to collect her for breakfast, hearing the new boy put into the cell beside hers, his calling that he was not crazy as the orderlies walked away and she heard him sigh as she sat next to the vent that connected her room to his. "They won't listen to you, they never do, its best to just do as your told so your privileges aren't stripped away from you," she said through the vent to him, laying on the floor to look into his room, startled a bit when he laid down to do the same. "Thanks for the advice Bright Eyes...my name is Joseph...Joseph Adams, my grandmother had me committed because I see things that come true," he said, a faint smile on his lips as he looked at her. Alice was flustered at his calling her Bright Eyes but she quickly recovered and cleared her voice before speaking, noting that she was suddenly nervous as her eyes remained on his. "My...my name is Mary Alice Brandon though I prefer to be called Alice, I was put in here because I had visions of my mother being killed and seeing my father hire someone to do it, he sent me here so I wouldn't cause anymore problems for him," she said, smiling softly, it was nice to know there was someone else like her there.

The door to her cell opened, and she straightened up to see Jacques standing there with his usual friendly smile upon his lips, Nathan in the hallway waiting for them as well, watching her get off the ground with a quizzical look in his eyes. "Why Alice, why ever were you on the floor just now?" Jacques asked waiting for her to exit her cell as she smiled brightly. "I was talking to Joseph, the new boy, he's like me Jacques," she said with an excited smile as he chuckled and closed her door behind her, going to Joseph's next. "Well if that's the case, why don't you invite him to come along with us to breakfast," he said as he unlocked the door so that Joseph could come out, and Alice was surprised to see how tall he was, standing at his full six foot four stature, his eyes meeting hers and making her blush faintly. "Would...would you care to accompany us to breakfast? This is Jacques, the nicest worker in the asylum and this is Nathan, another patient, they can't cut his hair because it grows too fast," she said.

Joseph smiled then, a brilliant flash of white teeth as he shook hands with Jacques and Nathan before looking back to Alice with a nod of his head, her eyes meeting his once more, like a magnetic pull kept her looking back to him over and over again. "I would really like that, my sister always said seize the day or die regretting the time you lost, so no time like the present to start living by her motto," he said, telling them of his twin sister Jessica and older brother Gabriel back in Rochester. He told them of how his grandmother had tricked him into accompanying her to a meeting in New Orleans but instead brought him here and paid for him to be forgotten about, Alice knew what that was like as she did had had her father do it to her. Jacques told her to go and take their usual table and the three of them would go and get her breakfast as well, Joseph watching her go as she walked to the table and sat down while he moved with Nathan and Jacques.

"I see the way you look at her, you knew her in a past life or you dreamed of her long before you met her," Nathan said as they stood in line together, prompting Joseph to turn and look at him quickly, unsure how he could know that, but the violet eyed man merely smiled. "I have dreams like that too, all the time, its part of the reason why I was committed here, my parents were afraid of me so they got rid of me, better than being on the streets again I have to admit. Alice there just turned sixteen about five days ago, locked up in here for seeing the truth and trying to stop it, not a lot of us are locked away for telling the truth and making our parents fearful of us, Jacques always knows which of us were though and makes sure to keep us together," he said. Nathan was twenty-one and had been there for nearly six months now, during the full moon he had a hard time and had to be moved to a different cell that he would not be able to break out from for the safety of the workers and the patients at his own insistence.

Joseph nodded as he carried his tray and walked with the other two men back to the table, sitting down across from Alice with a smile and watching her as she returned said smile, her hand reaching up to brush a lock of short hair from her eyes before she began to eat, hearing Nathan give him the same advice he had given her awhile back. They all talked of their homes, Nathan from Saint Louis back in Missouri, Joseph back in Rochester in New York, and Alice from small Biloxi right there in Mississippi, even Jacques spoke of his home in Glastonbury before he had come to the United States. It was a fun morning before they had to return to their cells, Joseph's hand brushing against Alice's and sending an electric current up her arm as she looked up at him to see that he had felt the same thing before he took her hand and bent the far distance to kiss it softly before returning to his cell just before Alice returned to hers next door, her cheeks blazing pink as she leaned against the door and smiled, her first encounter with Joseph Adams and already she was smitten as she slid down to the floor and crawled over to the vent where he was waiting...their bond had already started to be forged and for once, Alice had someone that she could confide in.