Chapter 1: Let Me In
Even though the vents were one of the very few places Miles could go that were vaguely safe he was still always on edge in them. Especially when he was crawling along like this. Knees slamming into the metal and echoing thunderously in the small, enclosed space.
One of his most frequent thoughts in the past ten hours has been ‘thank god I don’t have claustrophobia.’
But he did have plenty of other phobias. Bees. Clowns. Death. Thankfully, only the last was relevant in this festering wound of an asylum.
Or maybe not so thankfully. A swarm of bees or an overflowing clown farm would be welcomed over the piles of guts and puddles of blood that seemed to decorate every corner of this godforsaken hellhole.
With everything Miles had seen even in this short time, he had a feeling he was going to have a whole bunch of new phobias.
Unfortunately, somehow he felt seeking out psychiatric help after all this would only make things worse. Considering the situation. Last thing he was ready to do after escaping this shithole of a mental hospital was approach anything even vaguely resembling it.
Couldn’t think about the future quite yet though. Right now, he had a plan for the present.
Eliminate one of the biggest sources of danger, Chris Walker.
That was why he was currently crawling through the narrow air vent with an oddly bulky bag he was transporting with absolute care. He knew he couldn’t beat Chris in anything resembling a physical altercation but he had an alternate path, a longshot he was willing to try.
Appealing to Chris’s humanity.
He’d found many documents on Walker, one of Mount Massive’s most notorious denizens. A veteran soldier, saw god knows what overseas on several tours. Army police. Worked briefly as security at Mount Massive before they took him in as a patient. Whole mess of problems, including anxiety so bad that he decimated his own face. And, more worrisomely, a recent affection for ripping people’s heads off.
His mental condition not helped by the raging fuckholes that built and ran this rancid place. Turning Chris from a man to a monster.
From the outside, someone would probably think Miles was off his rocker himself but he honestly mostly felt bad for the man. Despite being grabbed by the throat and thrown through a window by him.
Not that that hadn’t freaked him out. God, even the idea of approaching Chris was filling him with dread. But as he reached the exit, he peered down at his stomping, enraged prey he knew what he has to do.
Calling out, his voice felt foreign after hours of only silence and screaming, “Hey. Big guy. Look up here, buddy.”
Jerking his head up brought a clang of chains that yelled at Miles’s flight response. Bidding him to disappear further into the vent.
But he didn’t listen to that, staying just barely poking out of the vent, “Your name is Chris Walker, right?”
The massive man looked more confused than anything, staring up at Miles in the most non-hostile state he’d ever seen him. Not used to being addressed directly anymore. For a second, Miles thought his pause was futile but Chris nodded once. Sharply, curtly, with a growled, “What of it?”
Lucid. Chris Walker was at least something resembling lucid.
“My name’s Miles Upshur,” Miles tapped his own chest, “I just want to talk to you a little bit. Small man to unreasonably large man.”
Chris grunted at that, empty eyes eyeballing him as he watched Miles dig behind him and procure two cans, two plastic forks. Both reasonably clean. Cautiously, Miles held one set down towards Chris. Nervously adjusting so Chris could only grab the can, not his wrist. Last thing he wanted was to pulled down from his high perch and ripped to pieces before he could even say a word.
Curling up against the side of the vent so he was a bit more visible, Miles cracked open the tab on the can and opened it. Oranges. Really the only thing he’d found so far. Always did like fruit, although god knows how old and/or otherwise questionable these are. Below, Chris did the same although he remained standing. Examining him like he was waiting for this to be a trick as he stabbed a fork in and fished out a slimy looking slice of orange.
God, the man didn’t eat great. Miles politely didn’t flinch at the man awkwardly trying to eat with no lips, mouth pulled back involuntarily.
“So, Chris,” Miles said, popping one of the pieces into his own much-more-intact mouth, “You were in the military police, right? Spent some time in Afghanistan?”
White eyes still glaring a hole into Miles, he nodded again.
“Don’t know which was worse for you. Seeing the horrors of war or being in this hellhole. Probably this place, honestly. Saw your files. You used to be a normal dude before these Murkoff assholes got their claws into you.”
Snarling, Chris tightened his grip. A small noise of the can crumpling, just once, seemed so loud in the otherwise abandoned corridor.
“Not looking to offend you,” Miles raised his hands, “You just tried to serve your country. Be a hero. Then you came back, tried to reintegrate with society using the skills you had, then they… they did this to you. Whatever cruel experiments this place does.”
Chris looked away with what should be his brows furrowed, inelegantly eating more of the oranges.
“That’s why I’m here, Chris. I’m a reporter. I got an e-mail from someone who was working here about the inhumane conditions they were keeping you all in.”
Looking back up at him. Curiously. At least, he seemed to be. Already finishing off the can of oranges, right down to drinking the syrup. All without looking away from Miles above.
Holding up the camera, Miles continued, “I’m here to record what’s happening here. Show the world. Get everyone in here help. Including you.”
Blinking. Staring. God, Miles wished the man could make any facial expression other than ‘pained grimace.’
“I mean it. I hear you, when you’re talking to yourself. I mean, I don’t think you’re going about it the right way at all but whatever it is you’re doing? You think you’re helping people. Somewhere inside you, you’re trying to do the right thing. You’re just a little confused about what the right thing is.”
Growling, the can crumpled far too easily in Chris’s hand. For a second, Miles thought he was going to throw it at him but instead it just hit the floor with a clunk. Chains rattling as Chris turned abruptly to begin walking away.
Fuck, that statement hadn’t gone well. Leaning out almost far enough to fall from the opening to the bloody floor below, he yelled for Chris to come back, “Hey, hey, hey, c’mon man. Don’t walk away. One more thing, alright?”
Stopping. Turning back to him. Staring.
“I know that you, uh, did all that business to yourself,” Miles said, circling the lower half of his own face, “Anxiety. Can’t blame you. If I’d have seen half the shit you’ve seen I’d probably be taking chunks off my face too.”
Another indiscernible look. All he had to go on was the man’s stance which seemed to relax a little.
“Anyways, I got something for you,” Miles said, moving his half eaten can of food further into the vent so he could pull an oddly shaped bag onto his lap, “Read about it in one of your files. Found it in one of the offices, confiscated personal effects.”
Lowering the bag carefully, Chris grabbed it. Trying to look nonchalant, Miles’s heart was going wild. His trump card. More than anything, this was his best shot at getting Chris to be alright with him.
Opening it, Chris pulled out the soft, pink object.
Mouth gaping, even more than usual, Chris sounded incredulous, “Little Pig?”
And it was. In his hands was an object he’d long ago made his peace with losing. His childhood toy, a rather beat up old stuffed pig. Mildly bloodstained but not looking much worse for the wear than the day he’d arrived here with it.
Above him, watching him gently touch his prized possession, Miles tried not to sound too victorious, “Thought you’d like that. Maybe feel a bit better?”
Chris’s voice was strained but, god help him, it almost looked like the man was smiling as he replied, “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome,” Miles nodded, picking up his oranges to resume his meager dinner, “Maybe, uh, remember that I’m just here to help you guys. Next time you catch me on the ground. In grabbing distance.”
Whatever look Chris was giving him it was indiscernible but going off the bag held tightly to his chest, Miles hoped he was happy. Not just for his own benefit. He wasn’t lying when he said he wanted to help here. Even if it was something small like this.
With another curt nod, Chris turned away and stalked off with the bag still tightly clutched to his chest.
Leaving Miles to wonder how things were going to be from now on.
Chapter 2: Only Eight Left
His panting and whimpering echoed loudly in the vent, no doubt all the still captured people of the fake hospital area Trager had set up in the Male Ward could hear him.
Even though Miles knew he both couldn’t and shouldn’t, some part of him wanted to hop down and free a few of the poor bastards that the ugly bastard had left tied to beds. But how could he gamble on that? Some may be more than eager to attack him anyways. And his…
He just held his mangled hands up, the first time really looking at them without a manic asshole chasing after him. Bones. He could see his bones.
Fuck. Fuck Trager. Fuck this place.
His stomach lurched but he managed to compose himself as he hid his hands in his jacket.
Don’t look at ‘em, Miles. Just try not to think about the fact a crazy motherfucker with a Degree from... augh, so fucked up you can’t even think of which Ivy League school is the douchiest. Whatever, don’t think about the fact a crazy motherfucker with a Degree in being A Fucking Bastard With An Amputation Fetish from Fuck University cut off two of your goddamn fingers.
God but how do you NOT think about that? It was taking absolutely all of his willpower to leave his hands hidden and not gawk at them like a drooling moron.
Bloody stumps. Fingers cut off by completely unwashed scissors that Trager had pulled out of a filthy, piss-stained urinal. Bones exposed and almost certainly infected with god knows what. Fingers don’t grow back and that shit certainly isn’t on ice. This is just how your body is now, Miles. This is permanent.
Your stupid, impulsive plan to break into a creepy ass murder asylum has now had permanent, physical ramifications.
Before he could even stop himself, his hands were out of his jacket and he was staring at them again.
Oh good, the panic is setting in.
It manifested itself as what was essentially a grown man throwing a child’s tantrum while confined in a vent.
The sounds of his screams and the thundering bangs of his shoes kicking the side of the vent were loud enough to be heard throughout the Male Ward. Setting off the other poor unfortunate souls here. Wailing long after Miles himself had collapsed against the side of the vent, defeated and exhausted.
Well, at least Miles wasn’t freaking out all alone.
Soon to be even less alone.
The clanking of chains was still audible over the sounds of wailing, heralding the slow, shambling approach of Chris Walker.
Opening his eyes, Miles watched as the massive man walked over and stared up at him. Emotions indiscernible, as always. He supposed he should be more afraid, having the man just barely out of arm’s reach but should Chris bother pushing something over to pull himself up here, Miles could be fifty feet down the too-small vent and out of reach.
Also, Chris seemed to be more curious than anything. Maybe Miles had actually gotten to him with the pig? God, he really hoped so.
“Hey Chris,” Miles nonchalantly sighed, “How you doin’ budd-... man.”
Staring back, empty eyed.
“I’m going to take your vacant stare to mean ‘Yeah, Miles, I’m doing pretty alright. Ripped off some heads, ate a sandwich, took a good nap.’”
Maybe he really was going crazy too but it looked like Chris tried to smile at that.
“I’m going to also assume you’re asking ‘Hey, why are you screaming in a vent and hugging yourself like a lost child?’ Well, the answer to that is I am NOT doing pretty alright. Ran into the good doctor. Richard Trager.”
Okay now this time he KNEW he wasn’t losing it. Chris’s eyes narrowed as he looked around, very obviously ready to kill the dude. God, Miles would have loved to watch Chris hunt down Trager like a sick animal. Pick him up one-handed and rip his grody little head off. Unfortunately, yet still fortunately, Trager had already been crushed in an elevator door.
Miles had felt a bit mad climbing out of the elevator shaft just to come back here but he knew the area would be clear of any threats and he needed a breather. Badly.
Enjoying being the bearer of good news for once, Miles couldn’t help but smile, “Calm down there, big guy. Trager’s fucking dead. Chased me into an elevator but he got caught in the door and uh… he’s a little bit crushed to death.”
Chris relaxed at that. Apparently he had something resembling history with Trager. Given how big of a douchebag the guy was, Miles wouldn’t be surprised if each and every patient in this hospital had a grudge against the guy.
“You know I came here to help, right?” Miles groaned, still holding his hands in his jacket.
He nodded. Miles likes when Chris shows he’s actively listening. Makes him feel safer, somehow.
“Man, I don’t… I don’t BLAME the guy who sent me the e-mail but fuck, couldn’t the guy have given me some warning of exactly how bad it is in here? Would have brought something to defend myself like a nice non-lethal taser or something.”
Looking down at Chris, he could have sworn he saw the man’s chest move like he laughed.
“Yeah, yeah, I don’t think a taser would stop you,” Miles waved that away, “But could have given me something against Trager. Might still have my-”
Chris looked inquisitive at that but Miles just ignored it, averting his eyes.
“If I could… if I could just get out right now I have more than enough footage to get this place fucking dismantled, brick by brick. Get you guys some help. Stop Murkoff’s fucking madness. Make sure nobody else gets hurt.”
Staring. Waiting. Miles didn’t even know if the man was comprehending what he was saying.
He kept going nonetheless as his concerns unravelled, “But I’m not… going to get out, am I? I’m gonna die here, Chris. I’m gonna die here. You’re gonna die here. All those poor fucks tied to the beds are gonna die. Mount Massive isn’t going to be happy until every single one of us has died in the worst way possible.”
There was a clink as Chris stepped closer. Miles fought the urge to duck further into the vent because who knows why Chris decided he want to be closer to him?
Then there was an answer, an actual one, not one Miles constructed in his mind to feel like he wasn’t speaking to a brick wall.
Even though he’d heard Chris speak a couple times it never got less weird. A simple question, “What happened?”
With a huff, Miles braced himself before taking his hands out of his coat again. Holding them out, bloody stumps immediately evident.
His voice hitched, “Trager cut off my fingers. They’re just gone. I don’t… I don’t wanna die here, man, but I’m gonna. I’m going to die here. I don’t even have any family or hell, even any FRIENDS. Nobody know I’m here. My corpse is gonna rot in this shithole. It’s fucked, man. IT’S FUCKED.”
Panic’s back. Jerking his hands back into his jacket, Miles swore loudly and kicked the side of the vent again. This time leaving a huge dent.
Curling up and closing his eyes tightly, Miles returned to hyperventilating as he heard the sound of Chris’s chains again. This time, sounding fainter and fainter. Opening one eye, Miles watched as Chris walked away and turned a corner.
Great, he just poured his heart out to a terrifying man who also tried to kill him and got rejected. Obviously. Good job, Miles. Now you feel stupid too. Fucking idiot. Of course he doesn’t care, why should he?
Closing his eyes again, Miles contemplated if he could fall asleep in the vent.
Lost in his own thoughts, he didn’t even notice that the chains were getting louder again.
The ensuing, thundering banging noise right next to his head made Miles scream. Echoing through the ward, not in the normal way, but in all the captured men screaming along with him. Jumping into a crouch, he looked frantically at Chris who was staring up at him. Lowering his arm. All but pulling his hair out, Miles yelled, “What the fuck was that, dude?! Don’t throw shit at me!”
Chris only calmly pointed beyond him, urging Miles to look at exactly what had been tossed into the vent.
Awkwardly getting himself back into a sitting position, Miles picked up the box. Unmistakeable. White with a red cross on it. A first aid kit. Nothing that was gonna save a life or anything but at least he could try to disinfect the stumps and cover them up so he doesn’t have to look at them.
Looking back at Chris, Miles immediately felt guilty for yelling at him but the man just stared back with that same grimace he always had. Uncaring about the verbal abuse.
“Sorry,” Miles sheepishly apologized anyways, “Just, uh, a little on edge. To say the very least. Thanks, man.”
Chris nodded, “Welcome.”
Pulling out the disinfectant and looking at before sliding it back into the box, Miles gave Chris a bit an embarrassed look, “I’m, uh, gonna go find a dark corner to do this in. This shit’s gonna hurt and I don’t really want you to watch me cry. Gotta keep some semblance of my dignity.”
This time there was no question in Miles’s mind. A short, unmistakable laugh. Chris’s forced grimace turning into a forced smile for a split second.
At that, Chris turned around and started stomping away again.
Leaving Miles to his grisly task and oddly hopeful thoughts.
Chapter 3: The Belly of the Beast
His stomach growling was audible now, loud enough that Miles was vaguely concerned that it was going to start giving away his location.
No longer did he have a great concept of time passing. Clocks all around the asylum seemed to be wrong, broken or tampered with he didn’t know.
All he did know was that he was dehydrated, starving and exhausted.
Food and water just hadn’t been an option. After those cans of oranges, Miles had had no such luck. He’d fished those out of a lunch box next to a dead guard who was apparently very concerned with not getting scurvy.
And water? Forget it, all of the sinks he’d encountered were broken or full of blood because of fucking course they were.
Sleep was something he’d tried. High up in the vents, above it all. But not quite. While the patient who had crawled up there had just benignly been looking for a place to rest his head as well it made Miles all too painfully aware that no, the vents weren’t infallible.
Next person to crawl up there might be out for blood. Or, hell, simply attack him out of fear that HE be the one out for blood. Couldn’t fucking blame them for that train of thought. Shit, if he was a patient he’d probably be punching dudes just to establish dominance. Be head crazy of batshitsville. Seemed like the way to go for the big bad motherfuckers lurking around this place.
I mean, Trager was literally picking people off for fun by sheer virtue of “I have sharp things and no morals” and nobody wanted to be a part of that. Chris had the run of the joint, no one was going to fuck with “goddamn gigantic guy who rips off heads.” The twins with their dicks out? Fucking power move, no one’s gonna fuck with them on principle. Even Father Martin carved himself his own little “don’t fuck with me” niche of starting a cult. Safety in numbers.
Not to mention Miles had heard whispers of others. Nothing concrete, just patients warning each other. A terrifying groom looking for a bride, god knows he doesn’t need that in his life. Something… intangible, should he believe the whispers. Someone Miles supposed had made themselves a messiah. Walrider, whatever that meant.
Mostly these threats seemed to be far away but he had a feeling he was going to be dealing with one of them very, very soon.
It was how he’d even found out there was a functioning kitchen somewhere in this hellhole. Guarded by someone that the patients were referring to as a butcher.
Finding the kitchen was easy enough, follow the signs until you’re staring at it. But before he could even turn the corner the massive, abnormally huge pools of blood on the floor were evident. Peeking the corner, Miles tried not to throw up at the scene before him. Or, worse yet, succumb to passing out like his body so badly wanted to.
A mostly naked man with a beard was frantically, aggressively taking bites out of a very dead body laid out on a table. Great. The butcher eats what he cuts. Miles supposed that makes sense, nickname wise.
Staying hidden, Miles looked elsewhere. A pantry door, slightly open. Cans, plenty of closed cans. Apparently whoever this cannibal who had claimed the kitchen was had no interest in, erhm, conventional food.
His stomach rumbled harshly, scrambling Miles’s already compromised brain even further.
Ignoring the primal urge to senselessly smash and grab he looked around. Two entrances to the kitchen. Looking down he picked up a metal bar, seemed to be a piece broken off a wheelchair. Hefting it a couple times, Miles threw it as hard as he could behind the man as he feasted on the corpse. Landing it perfectly in the opposite hallway, through the other door.
Without a hitch, the cannibal’s head jerked up at the sudden noise. Miles noticed with a sickening drop in his stomach that he picked up what appeared to be a large buzzsaw. Good, that’s definitely a thing he should have.
Waiting, ignoring the throbbing behind his eyes and the growing weakness, Miles saw the cannibal turn the corner.
Frantically, he bolted in and started trying to gather up as many cans as possible. Shoving them into his jacket pockets, underneath his arm, one in his hand. Wishing he hadn’t handed over that bag he’d found to Chris. Whatever, he’d find another.
A sudden sliding feeling under his arm, followed by the loud slam of a can onto the ground.
It wasn’t even a second before the cannibal jerked back in and looked like Miles like cheap chinese delivery leftovers at five in the morning.
As much as he didn’t want to, Miles abandoned all but a couple cans. Knowing he’d just barely outstrip the man in his current state. Good to know he’ll have to go through this more than once now.
To his horror, Miles was finding the cannibal keeping up with him way too easily. Swearing to himself he tried to pick up the pace but god, the world was practically spinning at this point.
Great, this is how he dies. Asshole with a buzzsaw, eating his corpse. Hopefully none of the corpsefuckers find him. Hell, hopefully THIS guy isn’t a corpsefucker. That is a terrible train of thought and even worse? It’s a realistic possibility.
Looking behind him, Miles found the cannibal right there. Reaching out. Hand only inches from him.
Closing his eyes, Miles got one last burst of speed before he hit the proverbial wall.
Over twenty-four hours of exhaustion overtook him, sending Miles crashing to the ground as he was awkwardly grabbed by the cannibal.
He aimed a kick at the man but not only did he totally miss the target, it wouldn’t have even mattered. The force wouldn’t have been enough to even daze him. How the hell was he supposed to fight him off? A guy in the process of starving versus a guy who’s been feasting on human flesh for god knows how long. Obvious outcome.
Each act of rebellion against being dragged just got weaker and weaker as Miles found himself dragged back into the kitchen.
Well, Miles, time to die. Given how close he was to passing out, that seemed like the kinder end. Giving up, Miles let himself begin to succumb to exhaustion.
Being hoisted onto a table he watched the cannibal look at him hungrily. Faintly, in what seemed like the far distance he heard a buzzsaw rev up. However, suddenly he saw his captor stop. Look up. Hearing something he didn’t hear.
Miraculously, the cannibal started running away. For a second, Miles felt relief until it dawned on him.
Nobody in this place runs unless a bigger threat is coming.
Closing his eyes, Miles decided playing dead was the best choice. Or maybe just dying. That was starting to feel like a viable option.
Quickly, he started drifted off. Blind and deaf to the world.
Not even coming back to the waking world as he felt himself being picked up by his jacket. Being dragged by an unknown captor to an unknown destination for unknown reasons.
- - -
Soft. Wherever Miles was, it was soft. Somehow, that was the weirdest and most pressing issue he was taking with his current, unknown situation. Largely because he was mildly concerned he was crashed on the clouds outside heaven’s gates and awaiting judgement. Somehow, he sure as hell knew he wouldn’t make it in.
But as he laid there he became more and more certain he was simply a part of the regular, old human world. No part of his body wanted to cooperate but slowly, Miles started to come to. Unmoving, he slowly managed to crack an eye open.
Despite staring directly at a wall he could still tell that, yeah, this was definitely still the inside of Mount Massive just noticeably… cleaner than the rest of it.
Looking down, he seemed to be lying on a few of what was probably the cleanest mattresses in the entire place. Sure there were a few flecks of dried blood but compared to some of the shit he’s seen it might as well be the king’s chambers in Versailles. Even a clean blanket was pulled over him.
Afraid to move, Miles could absolutely hear things behind him. Shuffling of papers, creak of a chair, heavy, uncomfortable breathing.
It dawned on him exactly where he could be.
As slow as possible, he moved just enough to be able to peek over his shoulder at the rest of the room.
He was definitely in an office of some sort in the Administration Block. Preserved from all the chaos going on outside for one very large, very obvious reason. Said reason currently sitting at a sturdy wooden desk, weirdly calm as he flipped through a file like he ISN’T a colossal bloodsoaked killer who rips off heads for a living.
The logical part of Miles’s brain knew that clearly Chris had brought him here after rescuing him but the animal part was screaming at him to run.
Not like he had the option though. Stomach growling and mouth dry, exhaustion might have been taken care of but he’s still not in great shape and Chris is surprisingly and alarmingly fast. Even if he made it out the door, it wouldn’t be long before he’d get captured again.
Not given the time to contemplate what he should do further, Miles’s breath caught as Chris realized he was awake.
Rolling over weakly, Miles prepared himself to run as the large, bloody man approached him and crouched down. Having only ever been this close when he was throwing Miles out a window.
But this time no violence ensued as Chris set down a small collection of things in front of him.
A can of beans, a spoon, and a bottle of water.
Chapter 4: Ode To The Bouncer
Miles was truly living up to the moniker of “little pig” as he absolutely shovelled the beans into his mouth before practically drowning himself with the water bottle.
God. Beans were his favorite food now. He could eat beans until he explodes and you know what, that would be just fine by him. But fortunately, the amount of food was finite but reasonable. Letting him collapse against the mattress propped up against the wall, eyes closed in contentment.
If Miles never had to move again, that would be great.
Coming back to the real world he opened his eyes and looked up. Chris was still standing there, absolutely looming over him with an empty stare.
It was completely unambiguous that Chris was non-hostile but jesus, he was still intimidating as fuck. He had to be bordering on seven feet tall and built like a brick shithouse. Far too much of his face missing, a bloody mess of cartilage and torn scraps of skin. Mouth pulled back tightly into that unknowable grimace. Not to mention sheerly the information that Chris could pick him up one handed was freaking him out.
But Miles wasn’t about to be rude to the absolute tank of a man who’d also saved his life, wiping his mouth off on his sleeve, “Thanks, man. Probably would have died if I tried to make it into that kitchen again with that fucking cannibal bastard there.”
Miles continued to squint at him in confusion, until the man stomped away to the other side of the room and sifted through one of the folders before walking back and dropping it next to Miles.
Picking it up, Miles opened it. Frank Manera. Sure enough, a very familiar face was staring back at him. The cannibal, before he was such. An old, tattoo covered hippie. Another depressing reminder of Murkoff’s cruel experiments. Reading on, the man had been questionably detained for protesting the asylum.
Looking up at Chris, Miles closed the file and handed it back, “Poor, hungry bastard. Looks like he was a vegetarian before those fucks got their claws into him too.”
Chris just nodded, tucking the file under his arm, “He was. Hunger strike while here. Now? Not so much.”
That was easily the most Miles had ever heard Chris say at once. Leaning forward, he wanted to see if he could keep the big guy talking, “So, uh, Chris. About this whole… you rescuing me thing. Was this like, my one get out of jail free ticket? Or is this this kind of… permanent? Catch and release, only to hunt me down again?”
For a second, Chris looked unsure before answering flatly, “Permanent.”
God, that was the most relieving thing Miles had ever heard. Relaxing into the mattresses again, “Oh thank fuck.”
“Leave when you want,” Chris grumbled before returning to his borrowed desk. Large, wooden chair creaking underneath his weight. A semi-crushed and much smaller office chair was in the corner, undoubtedly a victim of Chris’s ass.
Miles knew Chris said he could leave when he wanted but honestly, he was mostly intrigued by seeing Chris act so… normal. Like he was sitting at his 9-to-5, filling out paperwork instead of blood-and-guts smeared abandoned mental hospital doing god knows what.
Eventually, Miles pushed himself up off the mattress. Although, instead of walking towards the door and leaving he found himself wandering towards Chris and the desk.
Chris looked at him a bit warily but didn’t make a move to stop him as he allowed Miles to peek over his shoulder. Barely able to with the extreme height difference, even with Chris sitting. Looking at the desk, Miles saw plenty of files with various names he didn’t recognize over them. One caught his eye though, one name he did.
“Can I?” he asked, pointing at the file only for Chris to shrug at him. A quiet ‘go nuts.’
Picking it up, Miles looked disdainfully at the name emblazoned on it before flipping it open.
Richard Trager. The son of a bitch who cut off his fingers and was mangled-hands-down the only person in this hellhole he actively hated. And he was dead. Somehow, knowing more about him would be comforting. Especially considering the corporate douchebag was most certainly ex-Murkoff. Miles didn’t considering himself above slandering a dead man’s name in this case.
Of course, the file was deeply, deeply incriminating. Unsurprisingly, before becoming the premiere whole-ass-out amateur surgeon Trager was the dickbag in charge of cutting corners until everyone here was ripping themselves and each other apart from sheer stress.
Somehow, getting crushed in an elevator seemed too kind of an end for him.
Putting the file open on the desk, Miles began to quickly get pictures of the pages of the file until he noticed Chris curiously looking at him.
“Just… recording what these assholes were doing. Particularly juicy file,” Miles said, patting the paper.
Chris nodded and went back to work. Miles had to admit, he was a bit surprised at how chill Chris was when he wasn’t, you know, trying to rip him to pieces.
He was even allowed to pick up other files, flipping through them and recording any relevant important information. Chris only stopped him by smacking a hand down on the second to last file on the desk. A stern look as he let go. Peering down at it, Miles saw the words “Chris Walker” written on that one. That’s fair. Miles wouldn’t terribly want people reading a file on him either.
Looking closer at the desk, Miles realized that underneath all the files was a map of Mount Massive. Places circled, paths traced. Not only was Chris killing people but he was being very systematic about it.
Thinking back on the bits of information he’d found about him, Miles supposed this was the type of “containment” Chris was going for.
No one alive, nothing to contain right? But what was he trying to contain in the first place?
Miles knew he had to find out. He couldn’t leave this shithole until he did. He wasn’t losing his goddamn fingers without getting the entire story. Maybe...
“Look, I don’t exactly agree with your methods but ultimately, you and me have the same goal kind of. We want to help the situation here. What do you say to, uh, teaming up? I get enough information on this place, I can get this place dismantled,” Miles offered, leaning on the back of the heavy wooden chair.
He nearly jumped back as Chris abruptly jerked his head up to look at Miles. His emotions and thoughts inscrutable as always. Staring emptily at him.
- - -
It worked. Holy fucking shit it worked. It actually fucking worked.
Miles wasn’t about to pretend he wasn’t still terrified as shit but there was also a great deal of comfort in being followed around by seven feet of “fuck that.”
God, it was a weird dichotomy. He was simultaneously the most and least safe he’d ever been in his life.
This was also the first time he got the luxury of actually looking around the place, namely the Administrative Block. It seemed like, honestly, at one point Mount Massive might have actually been a relatively nice place to work. Not to be staying, probably, but to work sure.
Looking up at Chris, he really did hope the man knew where he was going. Miles had simply tapped the files and asked Chris to take them to where had the most of these bad boys. But Chris seemed to be acutely aware of everything going on in Mount Massive, significantly more intelligent than Miles had assumed. No random violence, just a military man on the prowl to secure a perimeter. By any means necessary.
Miles looked up at him while they walked, unsurprised that the man was ignoring him to look around. While no sensible person would attack Chris, Miles was certain less sensible ones had rushed him.
Looking around himself, Miles could blatantly see a door to the outside world. Should he just have asked Chris to help him leave? Probably could have still swung it with Chris, say he can get this place dismantled with what he already has. And maybe he could, honestly.
But that… that secret, at the heart of Mount Massive. He wanted it.
I mean, fuck a single story at that point, Miles could put together a whole damn documentary.
Realizing Chris was now significantly ahead of him, Miles shook his head and jogged a little to catch up.
Might as well talk to him.
“So, I know you were stationed in Afghanistan,” Miles started, watching Chris nod at that, “You know, I was over there roughly the same time. Not as a soldier, obviously, I mean look at me I’m like five foot five, but as a military correspondent.”
Chris actually took interest in that, looking down at Miles, “Yeah?”
“Don’t think we ever crossed paths, obviously. Honestly? Would have remembered a giant like you. Even though you definitely had a nose then and probably also some hair. Maybe a bit thinner? Either way, it’s not like you had an adult growth spurt.”
“Yeah,” Chris nodded, “Nose. Blonde. Still fat, though.”
“Kind of a crazy small world thing though, right? I mean, we weren’t in the exact same place but I did recognize the name of one of the base you were stationed at on your file. Really close to the one I was on. We were easily within walking distance of each other. Now we’re here. Within arm’s distance of each other.”
Miles nearly had a heart attack as Chris suddenly patted him on the head, demonstrating said arm’s distance with a short, restrained hiss of laughter.
Laughing nervously, Miles ran a hand through his hair, “Uh, yeah. Thanks for the demonstration.”
Chris made another low, raspy laughing noise again. Very amused by either his “joke” or by Miles’s reaction. Probably the latter. But could the guy blame him for being jumpy?
Eventually, Chris stopped at a door off of the main hallway, tucked away in a little one of its own, and pulled out the ring of keys from his pocket. Miles had watched him calmly lock the room they’d left just as he stooped to unlock this door. Vaguely surprised by the fact he didn’t just knock it down. Leaning against the wall opposite, Miles watched as Chris fiddled with the rusty looking lock.
An unholy screeching reminded him of exactly how dangerous this situation is as a few armed variants slunk into the hallway behind them. Eyeballing Miles excitedly, gripping their weapons tighter. Unaware of Chris’s presence just out of their sight, they eagerly bolted towards Miles, excited to chop him into bits.
Were it not for the fact he was suddenly and alarmingly off the ground, Miles would have found the way the variants skidded to a halt and scrambled to run away as they realized their target was very much not alone fairly humorous.
Being pressed against Chris’s side in a one handed grip, essentially sitting on an arm that was thicker than his entire torso, Miles felt even smaller than he usually did despite being currently on eye level with Chris.
Watching Chris angrily eyeballing the scattering variants like he wanted nothing more than to chase after them, Miles patted Chris’s chest, “Calm down there, big guy. They’re already running, let them keep their heads.”
“Dangerous. Potential hosts. Need to secure the perimeter. Nearby town,” Chris hissed, clearly still thinking about it as the variants started disappearing. Jumping over objects, closing doors behind them, running out of sight.
Hosts. Chris said hosts. What the fuck did that mean? Somehow, Miles felt like he wasn’t supposed to ask.
Instead Miles just opted to try to subdue him in faintly remembered terms he might connect to a bit better, “Hostiles gone, focus on the primary objective.”
It worked. He could feel Chris untense his shoulders and give up a futile chase with an annoyed grunt.
“Things’ll be alright,” Miles reaffirmed, “And even though I’m kind of enjoying being carried around like a prince, I’d also kind of like to be on the ground.”
Obliged, Miles was placed back on the ground before Chris started at the door again. Successfully getting the stuck lock open this time and swinging the door open, gesturing for Miles to go through. A small but very densely packed room of filing cabinets.
- - -
This was amazing. This was fucking amazing. The more Miles dug through files excitedly the more he found.
Perfect records of cut corners, blatant safety violations, incidences that Murkoff had swept under the rug. Everything about the dodgy, above ground running of Mount Massive. Lining up piles of pages and just going through them as fast as possible, ensuring that clear pictures of all were captured on his camera.
Chris just stood there, leaning his back against the door, as he watched Miles excitedly gather large piles only to systematically go through them. Seemingly amused by how genuinely excited Miles was. He certainly hadn’t seen anyone this happy in a long time. Apparently he missed it.
Hours they were there. Chris eventually sitting down in front of the exit, managing to fall asleep like that. Miles simply engrossed in his work until he eventually had all the pictures he could ever want.
Eventually returning to Chris, Miles found him out cold. Uncomfortable snoring, quiet but there. Twitching slightly, an almost growling noise coming out of his forced open mouth.
Seeing the giant sleeping was the weirdest thing Miles felt like he’d encountered in Mount Massive yet. It was wild for him to think that less than probably a day earlier, the man sitting in front of him had throw him through a window in an attempt to kill him. Now? Now he was helping Miles.
Reaching out, Miles carefully touched Chris’s shoulder, “Chris?”
He jumped straight back several feet as Chris violently woke up, an oversized fist smashing into the file cabinet with a loud yell of rage or fear. Possibly both. Denting the metal of the offending container horribly as Chris panted and looked around wildly.
“It’s just me! It’s just me. Miles. You’re in Mount Massive, please do not punch me and/or rip off my head,” Miles said, hands raised as he continued to back away a bit.
Looking around warily, Chris calmed down. Peering up at Miles with what was unmistakably embarrassment, before looking away again. Jumping as Miles cautiously approach him and patted his head, “It’s okay, big guy. I’m probably gonna be waking up like that, too. Nothing to be ashamed of.”
Again, Miles found himself suddenly grabbed but it was mildly less alarming this time. A slightly too-hard hug, Chris’s head still being on level with Miles’s stomach- hell, almost his chest, despite sitting on the ground.
Today was just going to be full of weird stuff, wasn’t it? Regardless, Miles awkwardly hugged him back. Trying not to make a noise of pain as that only made Chris tighten his grip around his waist.
Chapter 5: Only Human Again
A kind of laid back chapter, compared to the rest. A bit of a breather. \o/
The rest of their morning proceeded as more of the same. Chris letting Miles into places he shouldn’t be, Miles collecting information that he wouldn’t’ve had. Personal offices didn’t give him quite as much as that one, big treasure trove but there were still some scattered files of use.
Frustrations mounted, though, as documents on this mysterious “Walrider” were still incredibly scarce. Miles knew he couldn’t give up until he found those files. That very well hidden jewel of evil within Mount Massive’s endless guts.
A pit stop by Chris’s lair though.
Miles knew he was already gambling by running around with exposed bones but hey, his entire thing is bad decisions. Been makin’ ‘em since elementary school. Not changing anytime soon.
But... he was at least staying on top of changing the bandages.
Perched on the shitty, broken office chair across the desk from a quietly reading Chris, Miles bit at the bandages until he got the edges free. Dirty, dried blood bandages falling to his feet. Flinching at the sight of his own mangled hands and trying very hard not to think about the fact he’d watched Trager pull those scissors out of that filthy urinal.
But it didn’t work, he couldn’t look away. That was his fucking finger bone. The rest of the digits gone. Not coming back. Lying on the floor of a grime covered hellhole. Rotting.
The more he thought about it the more and more his breathing sped up until he was all out hyperventilating, vision starting to go black.
Miles hadn’t even managed to get the bandages off of his second hand.
Being grabbed initially alarmed him, Chris easily resisting and reversing his attempt to pull away as he nearly tugged Miles around to his side of the desk. Grabbing the first aid kit and bringing it over as well.
“Stop looking,” Chris grumbled as he started taking off the second set of bandages.
Miles managed to jerk his head skywards, staring at the ceiling and trying to ignore the feeling of his hands being freed. Oversized claws being as gentle as they can as they can, nails still digging in just slightly too hard.
But it was mild discomfort or immense discomfort as he struggled against both his brain and his body as he’d have had to try to bandage his own hand himself.
Distract yourself, Miles. He stayed looking at the ceiling as he asked, “You, uh, have much experience with being a field medic?”
“Not much,” Chris replied, “Not my job. Enough.”
“Yeah, I imagine if someone’s down you’re the one they wanted covering the violence end of the situation.”
Chris growled at that in reply.
“Look, man, I think I’m allowed to associate you with aggression when the first time we met we you threw me out a window.”
Well, Chris just had to nod along with that one. Can’t refute that.
Miles felt his wrists be released, bandages wrapped tightly. Looking down, the work was surprisingly neat, all things considered. Still stressed out but less so, Miles nodded, “Thanks, man. Not uh, not a great feeling looking at your own bones.”
Looking up at Chris’s best impression of a ‘really?’ stare as he could give. A reminder that, uh, there’s worse things can be done to your body. Even if you do it yourself.
“Yeah, yeah, I know. I could be missing my entire face. If you see me start picking at myself, stop me. Doesn’t look comfortable and it would be a crime against humanity to ruin my flawless visage,” Miles gestured at his own face with a winning smile.
Chris’s laughter was strangled against the restraints on his face. Man, that… that shit can’t be comfortable.
A ghost of an idea came into his mind, just some sort of “thank you” for the assistance.
Miles knew he was getting far too casual about getting close to Chris as the man warily watched him crane his neck to examine the device pulling the huge man’s mouth back. Miles swore, “Fuck that shit… uh, that’s in your neck. Jesus, Murkoff didn’t cut any corners where it came to being wildly inhumane, did they?”
Chris shook his head, “Shouldn’t take it off anyways.”
Taking in the rest of Chris, it wasn’t hard to think of something else Miles could do to help him.
“How about the chains? Any objection to me trying to get those off?”
“No,” he replied, looking down at them like he’d almost forgotten about them. God, to be that strong.
Miles dug around in his inner jacket pocket for a second before managing to fish out one of the bobby pins with a victorious noise, “There we go, never leave home without some of these babies.”
The look Chris gave him was judgemental.
“Yes, they’re for lockpicking. You already knew I operated a little skeevy, what’re you gonna do, officer? Cuff me?”
Chris’s hissing laugh was just slightly lecherous.
Miles gave him an amused look, “Did you just… was that a dirty joke? Really?”
The fact Chris looked away with something resembling a smile was telling.
Grabbing Chris’s arm and turning it to examine the lock, Miles shook his head, “Alright, creep, now let’s get these chains off you unless you’re secretly into them too.”
“No,” was his short, practical answer to that. Compliantly letting Miles lean over his arm and struggle with the lock. Tinkering and twisting the bobby pin with a determined look on his face.
Miles had to admit, at least to himself, that these were some iron clad locks. Murkoff, understandably, didn’t want the largest, angriest patient out there, knocking heads. Or, rather, ripping them off. Somehow, Miles felt like he’d be on the side of the one beheading people for once. A foreign feeling.
Swearing under his breath, Miles tried to twist the lock around to face him, “Can’t get a good angle…”
Once again he felt himself get grabbed, this time being pulled by his jacket until he was nearly sitting in Chris’s lap, pushed against his chest. Oversized hand on his side, over his jacket. Looking at the lock from his point of view, rightside up.
“Getting handsy, aren’t you?” Miles joked, not pausing in his efforts.
Immediately Chris took his hand off his side with a, “Sorry.”
Miles only waited a single second before replying, “Didn’t say you had to stop.”
As Chris put his hand back on Miles’s side the man briefly contemplated if this place was getting to him. Now he was FLIRTING with the giant mass murderer that was his weird accomplice. He threw you out a window and you’ve been in the room full of heads, Miles, and yet you’re still doing this. Hell, you’re taking off his chains. The only thing that tells you and others he’s coming.
Miles had always been a fan of, well, being dwarfed by his partners but they usually had considerably more of their face attached to their skull and considerably less proclivities towards murder.
And he definitely hadn’t met any of them in a place as sketchy as this one. Not even the dive bar where he’s met that massive bouncer while covering a gruesome murder in the shadiest of shady sides of town.
At least that bar hadn’t been covered in blood and gore. Alright it had a little blood. But nothing compared to the gore coated hallways of Mount Massive. Hell, Chris himself was covered in blood.
Maybe if he can just… Miles focused more intently and the lock caught and sprung open. A victorious ‘ha!’ before he immediately set upon the second. Easier this time, starting to get the hang of it. Dropping, by the time he was on the leg chains, he knew it well.
The sound of the chains being dropped heavily next to Miles was startling. Twice. The third and four from his legs having less far to fall, being kicked out of the way.
“There, feeling better, big guy?” Miles said, patting his back.
Chris turned his arm around and around, examining the ripped up skin underneath.
“Well, fuck,” Miles said, looking closer at it, “Didn’t uh, didn’t realize that was your own blood.”
“Had to break out, at any cost,” Chris replied, looking closer, “Quarantine.”
Quarantine. Miles had, of course, heard Chris muttering to himself about quarantine, even before reaching out of him.
“You keep saying ‘quarantine’, what are you trying to quarantine?” Miles asked.
Chris only grunted in reply, with a warning glance that told Miles to stop asking questions.
But Miles is not a man who is easily dissuaded from questioning large, dangerous people he shouldn’t be pushing just a little bit further than he should, “What, don’t trust me? It’s not like I’m gonna go and unleash whatever it is you don’t want unleashed. Is it a particularly dangerous patient? Not sure which one he is? I can help with that too.”
A snarly growl in response, Chris opting to ignore him by picking up a file and flipping through it dismissively.
Sighing, Miles went back to his previous thought, “We’ll come back to that later. Is there anywhere in this place with running water?”
“Everywhere. Unless patients destroyed the tap. Large reserves of water.”
“Alright, take me to the showers then.”
- - -
Experimentally, Miles turned a shower head on. Dodging the water as it came out, almost jarringly clean and normal compared to their surroundings.
Chris stood just outside of the shower area, arms crossed, expecting the reasonable explanation for this trip being “Miles wants to take a shower.”
Instead, however, he felt Miles grab his arm and start tugging, “C’mon, they work.”
Looking down Chris could see he was still entirely dressed as he futilely tried to pull Chris towards the showers. Grunting, “What?”
“Dude, you’re literally covered in your own blood. It’s gross and probably not good for you. Take a shower.”
Chris looked around warily, not tremendously liking the idea of that.
“What, you think I can’t be a lookout? Plus, honestly, people don’t want to mess with you clothed, no one’s gonna wanna mess with you naked. Intimidation factor. Like the dick twins.”
Chris breathily laughed at that, what a way to be referred to.
Miles was a bit more focused than him, “Seriously, man, being covered in blood cannot be helping your situation. We all already have god knows how many infections. Don’t need to make it worse.”
Pulling was gaining him no purchase and letting go to push at him wasn’t either. Giving up, Chris walked in. He made his complete refusal to undress obvious though, still annoyed as he turned on the water.
“Your pan- wow, I really hope you either have a second pair of pants hidden somewhere or like walking around in wet clothes.”
Chris only grunted in reply, turning his bloodied arms over and over under the water. A warning glance over his shoulder telling Miles to go keep watch.
Complying, Miles leaned against the entrance. Back to the showers, eyes on the door. Making sure no one was coming. However, it seemed that patients weren’t tremendously interested in taking a shower in general as he didn’t see a soul other than a particularly skittish man who bolted the second he saw Miles standing there.
It wasn’t tremendously long before Chris tapped his shoulder, soaking wet but free of blood aside from some dark, dark stains on his pants.
“There, isn’t that better?” Miles said, patting his now clean arm, “Kinda weird seeing you without blood, kinda a weird statement to say that but true. My turn now.”
Chris watched as Miles shrugged out of his jacket before dumping it on the bench.
Noting Chris was watching he waved a hand at him with a laugh, “Hey, don’t stare. You’re gonna make me self conscious. And don’t think I can’t tell where you’re looking. Your eyes may be whited out but I still know.”
There was a low chuckle but Chris complied, looking up towards the ceiling.
- - -
“You know, your pants are going to be wet for hours,” Miles said, happily running his hand through his now relatively clean hair as he deftly dodged a pile of guts on the ground, “This place has to have a laundromat, right? Could stop by there.”
This was, of course, ridiculous. Treating the rest of today like he was running errands around his neighborhood instead of wandering around a literal hell with a tremendously deadly man he’d befriended… still doing errands. Just in a place where errands have no place.
He was helping the man though, he supposed, and since Chris was preoccupied with him he wasn’t running around ripping people’s heads off in a desperate bid to “quarantine” some unknown threat.
So he’s doing good, right? Right.
Chris had only grunted in response to Miles’s question but he was leading them somewhere Miles didn’t recognize so this was probably the way to the laundry.
Even though it… really didn’t seem like it.
Yeah this was… definitely some sort of security guard locker room? Miles tried not to flinch at the carnage inside, at least three men turned into human puzzles. Hell, his body count was probably off now that he really looked at the number of limbs tossed about carelessly.
Chris seemed utterly confident as he ripped open one locker that was secured tight, breaking the hefty padlock with far too much ease. Miles couldn’t help but question his search though, as delicately as he could, “Hey man, no offense, but I don’t think they’re going to have your size.”
His confidence only wavered for a second, looking confused at the too-small uniform before quickly perking up as he turned towards a similarly locked cabinet. Also opened with ease, a multitude of uniforms in that one. Chris checking the name tags before pulling out a set that dwarfed the others.
“Watch the door,” was Chris’s only warning before he was halfway to losing the wet pants.
A loud bark of laughter as Miles instinctively slapped a hand over his eyes, “Oh my god, none of the people here have any shame when it comes to nudity, do they?”
“Not watching the door,” in reply.
“Alright, alright, I’m watching it.”
Miles didn’t have to stare at an empty doorway for long before the shuffling noises of clothes being put on behind him subsided, replaced by noises of annoyance.
Peeking behind him, Miles found Chris mostly dressed, aside from a struggle with the buttons on the over shirt, surprisingly fitting him. Sharp, overgrown fingernails slipping on the plastic buttons. Cautiously, Miles offered, “Need a hand? Or two? I’m missing a few digits but I still think I can do those a bit better.”
For a second, Chris hesitated but as sharp nailed fumbled over a button again he gave up, “Sure.”
A few steps later he found himself, while being able to do it, still a bit clumsy. The discomfort of trying to use his right hand’s middle finger was glaring, feeling like doing things left handed. Regardless, he could grip the buttons at the very least.
“I feel like a 1950’s housewife about to send her husband to work,” Miles laughed as he fixed button after button, “If you’re putting on one of the ties though you’re on your own. Always been terrible at those.”
“Might have to go without then.”
Miles was still a bit confused as to how the hell a behemoth like Chris had immediately found clothes to fit him. However, as he got the top half of the buttons done a shining glint in the corner of his eye told him.
A silvery name tag, reading “WALKER” in all caps.
“Oh! You… you used to work here?”
“So they just… snatched you and made you a patient? Or did you… do something?”
Chris looked away, “Incident. Overreacted.”
“And they took it as excuse to make you a human guinea pig?”
Looking warily at the bodies around them, Miles couldn’t help but wonder if any of the guards here had work alongside Chris at one point.
Hell, how would Mount Massive have gone if Chris had stayed a guard? Sure, the patients were swarming any employees they could get their hands on but Miles severely doubted Chris had been any smaller before the experiments.
Could Chris have saved them all? Maybe that was Mount Massive’s biggest mistake.
From their point of view, at least. From a normal person’s point of view their biggest mistake was “massive violation of basic human rights.”
Miles was a normal person. At least, he liked to think so. And right now, looking at one of the products of Murkoff, previously a benign blue collar employee, in his old uniform.
Over the past day, whenever Miles got caught up in his mind, Chris simply stood there. Waiting. Not really knowing what to do with someone so preoccupied with his own thoughts.
Eventually, Miles patted Chris’s chest with a bit of a forced smile as he was still coming off a ‘this place is a hellhole’ spiral, “Feelin’ good yet, big guy? Sure as hell looking better. No more blood, no more chains, way more clean with some comfier clothes.”
Smoothing down the front of his familiar old shirt, with difficulty Chris smiled against the restraints on his face.
- - -
Miles wasn’t really entirely sure if it was nighttime again but he was certainly feeling tired enough to call it a day.
Stretching as he was let into Chris’s lair again he mused, “Tomorrow, can you maybe take me by another big bad like Trager? I mean, he can’t be the only one lurking around right?”
Nodding was all he got in response but that was enough.
Looking at the mattresses lined up, Miles asked, “So, you gonna help me drag one of those over a bit?”
“Can’t sleep on just one.”
“Well, uh, I’d rather not sleep on the ground.”
Chris just looked down at Miles for a bit before he looked back up at him.
It immediately clicked in Miles’s mind, “Well… I guess I’ve done weirder shit in the past 48 hours than sharing a bed with a guy who has definitely ripped off about fifty heads. Why not.”
Chapter 6: For Whom The Wedding Bell Tolls
there is so much fuckery in both location and canon timeline in this chapter, let's just pretend none of it applies lol
also i'm mad i have no reason to use the title "For Whom The Wedding Bell Tolls" for anything longer than just a single chapter because it's such a good title for something related to eddie
It was definitely mildly alarming to be woken up by the feeling of claws on your stomach, even if not hard enough to hurt.
Falling asleep, Miles had been a bit too tired to think about how weird sharing some floor mattresses with a large, faceless mass murderer was. Waking up it was a bit more stark. The cacophony of snoring thundering leaving Miles wondering how the hell he’d slept through it.
A part of this arrangement Miles really hadn’t through through the fact he’d watched Chris wake up from a nightmare and punch the shit out of a filing cabinet. Miles wasn’t a pushover but he sure as hell couldn’t handle a direct hit from Chris.
Taking stock, Chris had an arm around him. The weirdest big spoon Miles has ever slept with, normally a position to easily get free from but normally his partner wasn’t five times his size.
That’s bullshit, his partners were always at least twice his size. But normally they weren’t full of crazy-experiment-super-strength. Also no distinct danger of them accidentally hurting him just waking up.
Experimentally, Miles tried to get Chris’s hand off him. This failed immediately, only making Chris pull him closer.
Should he chance trying to wake him up? Chris was certainly less twitchy than his nap yesterday.
Thankfully he didn’t have to think about that for too long. Waking up gracefully wasn’t something Chris was prone to, evidently, but when he jerked awake Miles only found himself lifted up protectively as empty white eyes scanned the room.
“All clear, big guy,” Miles said successfully masking the alarm of being off the ground, patting his arm, “You can put me down now.”
Grunting, Chris did so before standing up. Apparently all ready to set about his day as he approached the desk.
But, given Miles is here, his literal headhunting was still going to be on hold.
“So I was thinking-”
“Oh, now you’re the funny guy now?” Miles laughed, smacking Chris on the back, “Don’t take my job, man. Speaking of, got questions related to that. There any more of you big bads wandering arou-”
Chris shot a glare at Miles.
Miles wasn’t having any of it though, “Hey, don’t give me that look, you’re like seven feet tall and were ripping off heads you can’t pull the high and mighty card. You’re big and you were doing a bad.”
Chris shrugged, guessing he couldn’t really refute that.
“Well, I’ve already seen you, Trager, Manera, the Twins… I mean there’s gotta be more than five of you wandering around.”
“Drop it,” was Chris’s reply, marking down gods knows what on his map.
Miles draped himself over Chris’s shoulders with a sloppy grin, “That answer tells me everything I need to know. So, when do I get to meet the mystery man? The more I can get on record, the better I can get Murkoff in trouble.”
“Now that’s something I never thought I’d hear from you,” Miles replied, undeterred, “Unless you just mean dangerous for ME.”
“What, don’t think I can handle myself well enough?”
Chris’s answer to that was just to grab Miles’s wrist and put a mangled hand up in front of his face.
“Alright now you’re just being mean,” Miles pointed with a finger he no longer had, “My mistake with that one was trusting a mystery voice on a speaker. And in my defense, he sounded like a normal dude.”
Letting go of Miles’s arm, Chris shook his head, “No.”
“Oh come on! You’re gonna be there, it’s not like anyone’s gonna fuck with you.”
“Not a gambling man.”
Letting go of Chris, Miles started putting on his jacket, “Well, I am. So come on, we’ve got a job to do.”
For a second, the sheer audacity he was having in bossing around a guy who has proven multiple times that he can pick Miles up one handed sunk in. However, that feeling of dread left quickly as Chris sighed and started following him out.
It peeked back in, however, as Chris pointed in his face, “You’re going to listen though.”
“Cross my heart and hope to-”
- - -
This part of the asylum was certainly new to Miles, making him wonder exactly how much of the, well, massive, building he hadn’t seen.
Despite being such a large block it was utterly vacant. Miles would have thought this area would be more populated. Especially as, peeking into doors, he was relatively certain this must have been a recreational area.
An abnormally high amount of the doors they passed were barricaded shut from the outside. Miles was used to seeing doors blocked but usually it was to keep someone out of a room. The way they were almost made it look like they were trying to keep something, or more likely someone, in.
Then again, that could easily explain why it was so vacant here.
Miles supposed it made sense since Chris was taking him to a big bad.
“So, you gonna tell me anything about this guy?” Miles said, experimentally trying to climb one of the barricades to peek in a window.
Chris just grabbing Miles by the back of his jacket, “Don’t climb.”
“I’m an adult,” Miles protested, squirming free, “So are you just taking me to a French Revolution reenactment or a murderer because right now all I’m seeing is barricades.”
Sighing, Chris grabbed the back of his jacket again and started pulling him into another room. Abandoned, like everything else in this section. Just some broken furniture and one of the very few unbarricaded doors Miles had seen.
Locked and closed but not for much longer as Chris easily kicked it down.
“You know, you really coulda been a regular cop after the military,” Miles mused as they walked, “I mean, if you were the one they sent in after me for breaking and entering, I think I’d shit myself.”
“Thought security would be easier. Calmer.”
“Didn’t wanna be in that life anymore, that makes sense,” Miles nodded, “Wish that’d worked out better for you, man. Really do.”
This time, Miles didn’t even flinch when Chris ruffled his hair affectionately. He was already used to it. Chris still had business on his mind, using the opening to regrab Miles’s coat collar and pull him closer, “Don’t wander.”
Batting his hand away, Miles wiggled his camera, “Gotta get the shot. Don’t worry about it, I’ve been in more dangerous situations than this.”
“No, you haven’t.”
“Maybe so,” Miles raised a non-existent finger at him, “But bad decisions are my thing.”
Chris growled at that, easily pulling him up by his jacket. Getting an arm around him to carry him despite his attempts to escape. A reminder that just a couple days ago being grabbed by Chris would have been certain death.
“I can’t film up here, man,” Miles protested, “Just put me down, maybe? I’m an adult.”
“Adult! I’m an adult.”
Grabbed roughly by the back of his jacket, Miles was starting to feel more and more like an overgrown kitten as he was reluctantly placed back on the ground.
“Alright, that’s better, let’s get going,” Miles said, adjusting some settings before beginning their descent.
Despite Chris’s ongoing insistence that they were in the right place, Miles was beginning to wonder if this was a deliberate wild goose chase. Oh there were bodies everywhere but that was, disturbingly enough, something Miles was accustomed to.
The only thing that made Miles believe Chris was the man’s hypervigilance. Clearly unhappy with being in this area.
Miles questioned him though, getting a bit ballsier with walking further ahead, “You sure there’s someone lurking around here? Because it looks, uh, pretty abandoned.”
“He’s here,” Chris answered.
“Don’t know. Busy man.”
“Well, I suppose the best you can do is make a job for yourself here. Sure the guy didn’t go and get himself killed? Lots of violent people around here.”
“He’s not dead.”
“We’d know. Stop wandering.”
Chris made another move to grab Miles by the back but this time he successfully dodged it, “C’mon, man, cut that shit out. I like being manhandled but like, in moderation. Leave me on the ground.”
“I swear to god if you say ‘dangerous’ again, I’m gonna bolt.”
Chris just huffed at that and made another grab for Miles with a more serious, “Stop.”
Easily dodged again, dancing backwards, “No, YOU st-”
His foot found no ground however, sending him backwards with a shout. It wasn’t a long fall but he slammed hard on a metal surface and it didn’t take long to realize it was an open elevator shaft. Mercifully, the elevator had only been a floor down. Miles definitely didn’t feel great about how shaky it felt though, his weight alone had made it sink a bit.
So that, uh, that wasn’t a paranoia talking “stop”. That had been just a warning of an actual, tangible danger “stop.”
Looking up, Chris was peering down at him concerned. Miles just gave him a thumbs up after checking his camera as he yelled up, “Still kicking. Like I said, I’m an adult.”
Chris gestured for Miles to move, very evidently being absolutely ready to jump down after him.
“Woah, woah, woah, don’t jump!” Miles yelled up, ignoring the look of irritance he got in response, “Seriously, don’t. This elevator isn’t very stable, it barely took my weight. And you’re, uh-”
Warning glare from Chris.
“You’re like a foot and a half taller than me,” Miles wisely chose his words.
Chris seemed to find that answer acceptable.
“Do you know another way down here?”
“Yes,” Chris answered with an authoritative point downwards, “Find a hiding place. Wait.”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m going.”
Chris disappeared with that, leaving Miles to leap off the elevator. Not looking to get crushed in between it and the wall. Already saw that happen up close, didn’t wanna go out this way to have that happen to himself too. Plus it’d be really awkward to meet Trager in hell and have died the exact same way.
Looking around, regret was starting to sink in. Right about now getting carried around like a toy poodle was starting to look pretty damn good.
At least they hadn’t found the mysterious baddie lurking over here, right? Right?
No, not right, because now it was another floor they hadn’t gotten to at all and if he WAS lurking down here…
Maybe he should actually try and find a good hiding place.
Slinking down the hallway, Miles kept looking into room after room to no avail. Whoever was in charge of this area wasn’t a big fan of places to hide. Everything was… oddly kind of orderly.
Miles wasn’t comforted by the fact he was fairly certain that he was hearing someone walking around. But the footsteps were very light, Miles hoped they simply belonged to a lost patient. It was grim but having two flies in the spider’s web was in his favor. Although, ideal situation, both of them get away.
It was starting to feel suffocating being here though, creaking and tapping noises surrounding him.
But nothing really stood out to him until Miles peeked down another hallway, camera tucked tightly against his stomach.
Whoever had made their home here had meticulously set up a makeshift wedding chapel. Miles would have been mildly impressed that someone would take the time to set this up if not for the corpse in a dress propped up in the front.
“Always the bridesmaid, never the bride,” Miles mumbled to himself as he walked down the aisle for lack of a better direction to go, feeling like a first person bridal video, “Mom always did want me to be a wedding photographer.”
He’d kill for something, anything to hide in or under. No lockers, no beds, not even a desk.
As Miles reached the front of the aisle he started creeping the corner when a loud bang of something hitting the ground. Echoes making it hard to tell which way it came from. His panicked brain screamed “FORWARD” though, sending him bolting around the corner, across a room of sewing machines, into another hallway, to an intersecti-
Sudden pain slammed into his side, sending Miles to the ground. Half pinned by a frantic mess of long, bony limbs.
The other man yelped when Miles shoved him off, maybe a little too hard considering he hit the wall. Looking at him, the guy was very easily the most normal looking person Miles had seen in the asylum. Aside from the scientist and doctor corpses.
A tall, thin Asian man. Hair had been dyed blonde once, quickly being overtaken by naturally black hair. Absolutely terrified.
“Uh, hey, man,” Miles tried talking to him, the man shying away, “You a normal guy? Do you know somewhere to hide around here? Kinda crazy statement I’m about to make but I’ve got help coming.”
The look the man gave him was best described as skeptical, cut off by him looking around wildly presumably for a danger. Getting up quickly before almost bolting, nearly knocking Miles over as he grabbed his wrist. Somehow managing to keep him in place, even while holding his camera in his other hand.
“Alright, whatever,” Miles managed to hold him in place despite his efforts to twist away, “You’re running from someone? Who’s in this area? What am I up against?”
“Ed-Eddie,” was the man’s only answer before he started trying to claw Miles’s hand off him.
Before Miles could make a sarcastic comment about how deeply unhelp that information was it quickly became moot. Both him and the scrawny man froze for a second as, uncomfortably quietly, this area’s big bad appeared.
Miles wasn’t entirely sure if his love of reading crime websites was a blessing or a curse right now as he recognized the man, fucked up face aside.
Eddie Gluskin. Several women captured, mutilated and killed. So only good things were gonna happen now. Nothing like being stared down by a known serial killer who most certainly has expanded his scope beyond “poor, innocent women who had the audacity to come to the bridal shop he worked at.”
“Darling!” he chirped, looking back and forth between the two of them, probably not even entirely sure himself which one he was referring to.
Miles and the skinny man didn’t even spare a glance towards each other as they bolted down opposite hallways. Only after being halfway down the hallway did Miles look back. Watching Eddie look between them for a second before deciding to chase after the other guy.
It was no mystery why. Miles was considerably faster than the other guy. Eddie wanted an easier grab.
Speaking of being grabbed, he’d just about kill to be grabbed by a certainly particularly large inmate. Not… not the one who just flipped a coin for who he should go after to kill. Chris.
God, he really should have listened. Riding around on a death machine sounded really great right about now. Much better than running around, possibly in circles. Alive potentially only by the grace of a second guy running around.
That poor scrawny bastard. Unless he caught a lucky break, that guy was probably dead. Or worse.
He should have just stayed in the elevator shaft. What if Chris and he keep passing each other? Maybe he should just find a room he can hole up in and wait. That old thing they always tell you to do when you’re a lost child. Which he feels like the equivalent of right now.
Okay, Miles, just pick a room. One without, you know, corpses in it. Or at least minimal corpses. The bar for this whole situation is very low.
He was really starting to lose track of time as he wandered. Occasionally he’d hear Eddie in the distance, yelling something or, even creepier, singing some old timey song to himself. But he didn’t see the man again.
But, of greater concern to him, was the fact he hadn’t seen Chris again yet. His sense of time wasn’t great but time was definitely passing. An hour, at least.
Wandering in and out, Miles tried to stick to the same area. Weaving in and out of the building, finding the idea of completely leaving a death sentence. Miles severely doubted he could make it back to the administrative block from here.
Pushing open yet another a set of double doors, Miles hope-
That is the most corpses Miles has ever seen in his life, holy fucking shit. Hanging from a ceiling like so many hellish pinatas.
Looking up, camera pointed skywards, Miles wondered if this shot was even worth it. Not even the cruelty of Murkoff on display, at least not direct. Just the work of one apparently very industrious murderer, given free reign in a place where plenty were trapped with him.
A drop of blood on his face brought him back, wiping it off with disgust Miles knew he had to keep moving. Find a hiding place. Wait for Chris. Miles couldn’t make bold claims like ‘he’d never leave without me’ but he felt he could think ‘he will make numerous, systematic sweeps of the area before leavinging me’ with relative certainty.
Picking up the pace, Miles found himself back near where he’d started. Maybe… maybe that was the right idea though. Might be easier to find him here.
Well, that was true. But on two prongs. Both for Chris and Eddie. The former of which being the only one he wants to find him. Miles severely doubted his ability to befriend Eddie like he had for Chris. No beloved childhood teddy bear to chuck at him from a vent.
Miles continued to creep through the rooms, before the sound of a buzzsaw being revved up reminded him of the imminent danger.
Swearing quietly, Miles still couldn’t tell where shit was here. The echoes distorting the sound too much. He couldn’t quite tell if he was running away or running towards the sound. Desperately hoping it wasn’t the former.
But there was another sound. Doors being kicked in, accompanied by loud stomping. And something which should be alarming but wasn’t. His name being yelled.
Chris was here and Chris was close. Miles turned to run towards what seemed to be the source of the sounds. Helped by the fact the buzzsaw stopped. Although that was worrisome in itself, presumably meaning Eddie was on the move again.
Opening another door, Miles found himself looking at a naked, tied up and supremely freaked out man. For very good reasons, as the currently still saw blade was dangerously close to his junk. Saw dust all over him, looking at him in a frantic plea for help. Recognizing him as the guy from earlier, Miles ran over and started yanking the knots loose, “You’re one fucking lucky dude, you know that right?”
The man nodded, nearly panting, “Faster! He’ll come back a-and there was noises. Out there.”
He pointed towards the door and, as if on cue, Eddie flew through it. Slamming onto his back with a noise of pain, dazed by being thrown through a locked door. Miles noticed a distinct lack of knife this time around, no doubt disarmed by-
Chris. The second he filled the doorway, the scrawny guy managed to get even more freaked out. Before Miles could even say anything about that, maybe help this poor bastard, he hulked out despite his size. Breaking the ties to the limbs that Miles hadn’t untied yet free. Grabbing his clothes off the ground and bolting with a panting fear.
But Chris had no interest in him, his running away only making things more difficult for himself in the near future. Especially as Eddie managed to get his legs under him and bolt as well. Opposite way, but certainly going to run into his prey again again. There at least enough semblance of clarity in his mind that he shouldn’t try to marry Chris Walker.
Chris had no interest in continuing to chase Eddie either as he spotted what he’d actually been looking for.
Miles didn’t even try to dodge being picked up by the back of his jacket this time, being held at eye level with an annoyed Chris.
“Well, you found me so it all worked out, right?” Miles tried to laugh it off.
Chris growled a bit in reply, non-existent eyebrows furrowing. About then was when Miles realized the side of his other arm was bleeding a little bit, a cut going up his arm.
“Shit, your arm…” Miles managed to reach the arm to examine the cut, “You okay? That from Eddie?”
“Hostile disarmed,” Chris replied with a curt nod to both question and Miles really didn’t doubt it, it wasn’t terribly deep but, you know, no one likes to be stabbed.
“So… you mad at me?”
“Want me to kiss your injury better?”
Miles yelped as Chris threw him over his shoulder, leaving him to dangle uncomfortably from his waist as he started walking away. For half a second he tried to twist around to at least sit on Chris’s shoulder but a hand clamping him back down said “don’t.”
Chapter 7: What Becomes Of Us
alright lads we're in the home stretch for the ending now, get hype! i hope to have this fic finished sometime in the next week but even more hopefully by the end of this week \o/
Chris had protested that the cut on his arm hadn’t been enough to even bother with but Miles had forced him to put his arm on his lap to bandage it up the second they were back in his lair. Slightly difficult, considering the weird angle the knife had cut.
“So why didn’t you just, like, tell me that a quasi-famous murderer was lurking around here?” Miles asked, turning the arm over to try and secure the bandages tightly.
“More interesting,” Chris replied, “Make you want to go more.”
“But I mean, we were going anyways?”
“Busy man. Big place.”
Miles laughed, “So your whole plan was to take me there and just hope that Eddie was off clomping around?”
“Great plan,” Miles smirked.
“You ran. Compromised the operation.”
“What, so you think we wouldn’t have even seen him if I stayed with you?”
“He’s got a rotation and you know it?”
Miles shot him a dirty look, letting go of his arm to put his hands on his hips, “I lovingly patch you up and you’re out here trying to trick me.”
“Sorry,” Chris offered up, half-heartedly.
“I guess I’ll forgive you. Darling.” Miles laughed at his own joke as he smooched the injury over the bandages, Chris grunting at him with the closest approximation he had to a frown.
Flicking Miles in the middle of the forehead, he growled, “Not funny.”
“Incorrect, very funny. And, jokes on you anyways, I still got footage of everything,” Miles said with a nod back towards the laptop sitting on the desk next to them.
Miles had been quite happy to snatch up the slightly beat up thing on the way back to Chris’s little lair. It was a little worse for the wear, a bit nicer tech than most of the stuff on the floor. He couldn’t help but wonder if a patient had dragged it out of one of the personal offices. It certainly looked out of place sitting on the hallway floor.
He’d convinced Chris to help him get a less shitty office chair to sit on, currently perching on it next to him. Feeling tiny as hell in comparison.
Chris had given him a weird look when he’d picked it up, until he’d pointed out that he’d like a back up.
“I wonder whose laptop this is, you ever see these around Mount Massive?”
Miles narrowed his eyes at that, “Alright, always nice to get mysterious answers in a place like this. I’m not gonna rob the joint or anything, theft is not exactly my thing. Try to leave things exactly as I found them, actually.”
“No more questions,” Chris grumbled, moving around files, “Not accusing you.”
“Are there any others?” Miles said, letting the injured arm rest on his lap while he tapped at the map, “Don’t lie to me this time.”
With his good arm, Chris circled major sections of the map, “Eddie. Trager. Twins. Me.”
Mile pointed at the section labelled “chapel” which Chris had ignored, “What about this?”
“Father Martin. Not that interesting.”
That was a pretty genuine statement, Chris not finding Father Martin much of a threat apparently.
Miles didn’t know if he was a threat but he sure as hell had a little bit of a grudge for the guy, “Oh yeah, big fan of Father Martin. Loved the part where he drugged me and dragged me around the asylum. Total blast.”
Chris hissily laughed at that.
He smiled at that, “Always did like getting the stoic guy to laugh.”
Whenever Chris ruffled his hair like he did just now, it moved his entire body. Almost comical how much stronger Chris was then him.
Despite being mildly jiggled, Miles wasn’t entirely distracted from the topic at hand. Pointing at a segment of the map which had been ripped off, “What was this?”
Chris wasn’t looking at him as he said that though, pointedly avoiding eye contact as Miles tried to question him further, “Do you really not know or are you jerking me around?”
“Drop it,” the tone not joking around.
“Alright, but if you’re making me miss something big I’m gonna be really disappointed in you,” Miles chastised, going full parent, “And even if you think Father Martin is disinteresting and I’m not his biggest fan… I dunno, maybe I should check out what he’s doing. Might be good to show some, you know, more normal patients.”
“Tomorrow,” Chris agreed, not objecting to that. What the hell was Father Martin going to do if Chris was there? Not much.
“Looks like we’ll be wrapping up my time here soon then, I’ll be glad to be out of here with my footage and my backups. If you wanna pick up any other laptops or hard drives or, hell, thumb drives, I wouldn’t say no to ‘em. I’ve dragged myself through hell for this footage, I won’t pretend I’m not protective of it.”
Even now as the videos backed up onto the laptop he felt better, being able to look through them. Well, the thumbnails at least. He wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit to pull up the video of Trager cutting his fingers off. Although some sickened little part of his brain was morbidly curious. He was able to shut it up though.
It was divided up neatly based on when Miles had hit record, Chris not able to help curiously looking over to see what had been captured.
Of course, a few of the thumbnails contained himself. Given the angle it was quite obvious that it was from the first time he’d met Miles and, well, thrown him out the window. Reaching over, he tapped on the video and pulled it up to a surprised ‘hey!’ from Miles.
Chris wasn’t obvious to how fucked up he looked, he’d seen himself quite shortly after breaking out of his cell. It had been upsetting, of course, to see what he’d become and that revelation was still relatively recent but ultimately he’d had to accept it. He’d known to some degree what he looked like anyways. What he could make out in the reflective glass of his prison.
That was a bit different from watching yourself quite literally some someone else’s point of view. Picking them up. Throwing them through the window. The clip was short, ending when Miles had hit the ground.
Miles didn’t quite get why Chris would want to see that again, giving him a bit of a confused look.
His limited capacity to express his thoughts was stark right now, “What about this?”
“I mean, I’m not mad at you if that’s what you’re asking,” Miles raised an eyebrow, “Thought that was obvious. As far as I’m concerned, we’re all squared up considering you’ve been keeping me safe.”
“No. Not,” growling, Chris scratched the back of his head before just kind of gesturing to the whole screen of thumbnails.
Miles tapped the edge of the laptop for a while, trying to figure out what Chris was trying to communicate. Looking over all the previews of the clips, turning it over in his mind until…
“Oh, you want to know if I’m gonna use the clips of you?”
“Even though I have, uh, some particularly incriminating footage of you I’m just gonna leave it on the cutting room floor. Consider that a parameter of our friendship.”
Friends. Chris seemed to appreciate that, again ruffling Miles’s hair but pulling him into an awkward, one armed hug this time. Tightening his grip almost painfully tightening at Miles hugging back, rubbing his back.
When they let go through, Chris still was looking away a bit, “After this. What?”
“What after Mount Massive? I mean, I get home and back like twelve more back ups, cut it all this footage into something a little more usable, then, well, start circulating it. I’ve got someone who can help me get a website going this, this story definitely blows every other story I’ve ever done out of the water.”
Chris shook his head, tapping at his own chest.
Miles figured that one out a little more quickly, “You… you want to know what’s going to happen to you after Mount Massive?”
Chris nodded, looking away again.
“Well… I mean, I’m not gonna leave you here but it’s not like I can just blend you into normal society again. I mean, physically alone, you’re not exactly someone I can hide. You’re like seven feet tall, restraints put into your skin, missing your face… people are gonna question that.”
Looking down at himself, he knew even with the more normal guard uniform he was still… well, scary looking. He sounded defeated, “Then what?”
“You’re not going to like this but I’m pretty certain that, considering you were involuntarily committed to an asylum for the CRIMINALLY insane… well, the authorities are gonna want to put you in another mental hospital.”
“I don’t want to g-”
“Chris, you’re not really going to have a choice in this matter.”
Miles could feel Chris tense up in anger at that, shaking his head, “I’ll fi-”
“You can’t fight your way out of this,” Miles shook his head with a stern point, “But… look, you protected me in here and I’ll protect you out there.”
Chris looked skeptical at that, turning his head away again.
“Seriously, if you attack anyone outside of here… look, I can cover up what you’ve done in the library there but I can’t hide you attacking people outside of here. They’ll take you down and you might not even get the chance to be put in a better place. You could just be gunned down. People… people aren’t going to see you as human. I’m going to have to try and change that for you.”
His head dipped lower, grumbling something to himself.
“The better you behave out there, the better your chances of them eventually letting you live in normal society again.”
“Well,” Miles started, a bit cautiously, “You can come live with me. When they’re willing to let you reintegrate with society. I don’t know if you’ll be able to get a normal job again but I mean, it’s not like I’m gonna stop doing stupid shit. Might be good to have an absolute giant on my side when I’m breaking and entering for the greater good.”
“Aiding and abetting."
“Yeah but like… for the greater good.”
“Chris, there is a room disturbingly close to us that is literally full of heads you have ripped off people and that is a much more serious crime.”
Once again, Chris was really only able to nod along to that. Absolutely true. Cannot refute. He still looking uncertain about all of this, though. For good reason, what could Miles do that he couldn’t? Albeit with much more force?
But Miles stood up, on eye level with a still sitting Chris, promising, “I won’t let them do any more evil to you, okay?”
For a second he hesitated, nowhere on Chris’s face exactly well suited to being kissed, before eventually settling on his cheek. Above the brace and about as close to his mouth as he could without his smooch landing on teeth or the decimated area around Chris’s nose.
Miles barked in surprise as he was suddenly hoisted off the ground in a way too tight hug, Chris pushing his forced open mouth, teeth only, against Miles’s cheek in an awkward facsimile of a kiss back.
Chapter 8: The Ghost is the System
Note: Sometime tonight or tomorrow a short epilogue will be posted, I always finish my epilogues within a short frame of time (sometimes as short as an hour or two).
I'm sure it can be a bit confusing to post so close together so I always try to make a note of it.
There is so much fudging about how Mount Massive is set up in this, if you call me out for it I'm just gonna call you a nerd and shove you in a locker.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“You know, of all the advice people have given me in my life, ‘follow the blood’ is definitely the most unpleasantly ominous,” Miles muttered, trying to pick up somewhere near the end of the trail.
Chris was far less than happy about Miles wanting to pursue Father Martin and his cult. Ultimately, unknown to Miles, Chris wasn’t afraid of what Martin would do but rather what he’d say. He knew what that cult was. He knew what they believed.
And more importantly, Chris knew Miles couldn’t learn about the Walrider.
He knew that if Miles knew anything about that one big secret he’d never drop it.
Frankly, he was surprised Miles hadn’t been more focused in on that word. Scrawled on walls, whispered by patients. Maybe he thought it was a mass delusion, Chris would like to keep it that way.
Miles took Chris’s silence for nerves, which they were, but assumed different reasons, “You gettin’ anxious, big guy? I still meant what I said. Getting out of here, I’m not gonna abandon you.”
Head grabbed, hair ruffled. However, Chris looked no more comforted.
“I’d be a little more concerned where Father Martin finds all the blood but there’s really an ample supply here,” Miles said as they passed another one of his little murals.
For a while they just followed the signs, pointing them around, mercifully catching the thread near the end. Almost every wall painted, less signs and more prophecies. All scrawled in Martin’s bloody handwriting.
Every time Miles tried to move ahead, he submitted to the back of his jacket being grabbed as Chris kept him in line. Not keen on letting Miles out of grabbing distance again.
But as they approached Father Martin’s area, something arose. After they passed a few benign patients, holding lit candles, they came to the actual chapel. The dick twins standing outside, seemingly not interested in killing and eating Miles which was a confusing, but arguably pleasant change of pace.
However, beyond them, Miles could see Father Martin nailed to the cross.
“Jesus christ…” Miles muttered, “Almost fucking literally.”
Warily, and despite Chris not wanting to let go of his jacket, he tried to enter. Stopped twofold, by the twins abruptly barring the door with two sharp weapons and Chris jerking him back protectively with a growl.
“The preacher said not to let him in,” one twin said, talking exclusively to his brother.
“His little friend, yes.”
“But the big one, no.”
Miles looked up at Chris with a thumb towards Father Martin, “Look, I don’t like the guy either but maybe I can help this situation.”
“No,” Chris gripped his jacket tighter, “Not again.”
“This is different,” Miles, master of bad choices, argued, “There’s no big bad stomping around except them.”
He nodded at the twins, non-hostile although clearly not going to let the both of them pass without a fight. And given the weapons resting at their sides, Miles didn’t terribly like the idea of Chris or him getting any more cut up than they already were.
“No,” he reiterated, “Done.”
Miles pointed back at Martin again, “Look, there’s a dude nailed to a cross. One last thing, alright? After this area we’re leaving anyways, just need one final shot. Please?”
There was a long standoff, serenaded by the quiet chanting of the patients inside before Chris reluctantly let go, “Hate this.”
Miles patted him on the chest, “Look, I’ll be right back.”
Regardless, Chris seriously looked about ready to bang down the doors the second it closed between them. This was dumb. But at least the chapel doors couldn’t have taken more than a few blows. Sturdy, but not that sturdy.
The twins flanking Miles was infuriating to see, right up until Miles stood in front of the man on the cross.
Chris couldn’t hear what was being said but he could definitely see when the cross, and by extent Father Martin, went up in flames. Followed quickly by Miles being accosted by the Twins and dragged towards a door on the opposite side.
Within a single slam, Chris had shattered the glass of the door, just enough to hear Miles yell back to him, “Meet me at the ground floor elevator!”
Ignoring that Chris managed to completely break down the doors after a few more body slams but by the time he got to the other exit that the twins had dragged Miles out of there was just the swinging grate of an open vent.
- - -
Where Miles had dropped down was familiar, a major relief that it wasn’t far from the elevator. A nice, easy trip back to Chris. They get the stuff from his lair, they leave. Easy peasy.
Granted, he wasn’t the biggest fan of being alone again but the twins had disappeared the second they let go of Miles. He knew every other big bad was either dead, far away or on his side. All he has to do is avoid any minor aggressive patients and he was in the clear.
However, when he stepped into the elevator and hit the ground floor button… it just kept descending.
“Fuck me…” Miles mumbled as it went down, down.
When the doors opened, Miles tried not to gawk too hard at what he was seeing.
He tried to see if the elevator would go back up but some part of him almost hoped it wouldn’t. That small part was sated as the elevator refused to budge, even a single bit. Remaining fingers excitedly tapping on the camera, Miles tried not to be too excited to get to film this.
This place was wholly different from anything he’d seen before. As he walked around, he found it hard to even believe this place was underneath Mount Massive.
It was so much more modern and clinical down here. The only thing down here had in common with the hellhole above was a similar mess of dismembered dead bodies spread around like confetti at the world’s worst birthday party.
Sweeping his camera back and forth, Miles figured this must be… some sort of laboratory. Where the scientists worked on god-knows-what.
Had Chris been down here? Did he know about this place? Looking around, Miles had the feeling plenty of patients had been down here. Finagling a door open, he looked into what seemed to be a vacant jail area.
Well, vacant of alive people. Each and every cell had been broken into, most of them still containing their prisoners, dead. All of them having a small whiteboard, listing their name and few stats about their respective experiment.
It was ominous walking towards the final cell. At the end, larger than all of the others. Notably shattered outwards, not inwards. Broken chains lying like dead snakes, half dragged out of the cell. Still blood but much less.
And on the whiteboard? Chris Walker, 6’8”, hostile, restrain at all times, sedate before interacting.
Well, Mount Massive, you certainly failed at those last two parts. To Miles’s benefit, honestly.
Exiting, Miles continued to look around but not for too much longer as suddenly, blaring noise blindsided him, bright lights flashing him dazed. Gripping his camera too tight, accidentally hitting the night vision button.
When the shock wears off Miles finds himself still looking through the camera, by instinct. For a second his panicked mind couldn’t even comprehend what he was looking at.
A fractured figure, suspended in a black cloud. Flying quickly towards him.
How Miles got away from the creature he himself couldn’t tell you. If you asked him his best guess, Miles would have said a mix of dumb luck and running in circles, Scooby-Doo style, was what had given him his survival.
But as he slunk deeper into the bowels of this weird laboratory Miles was beginning to count his regrets. Breaking into Mount Massive. Getting into Trager’s stupid dumbwaiter. Befriending Chris then NOT immediately having him help break him out of this hellhole. Not just being happy with a distance shot of Father Martin on the cross. Leaving Chris for a second time, after it was so disastrous the first time.
Now he was gonna die in this hell hole after being given a golden ticket out.
Good job, Miles Upshur. Have fun dying alone.
He knew he had to at least try to survive. As he crept he peeked into files, even though he was so frightened again that he couldn’t happily revel in the knowledge.
Walrider. Supposedly a creature from another realm. More realistically, a swarm of nanobots.
Whatever it fucking was, Chris had known what it was and Miles should have just done what he’d said. Because this… this is what Chris was trying to contain.
But as he approached a final lab, Miles saw the source of all Mount Massive’s evils.
The Morphogenic Engine.
Huge fucking thing, Miles approached it cautiously. To his horror, there was a guy inside of one of the small balls around the giant one. But Miles didn’t really have time to gawk at that as he picked up the file on the desk of the huge machine.
This man’s name was Billy Hope and killing him was Miles’s, well, only hope. Poor Billy here was Walrider’s host, what it needed to live. In a grim way, Miles understood Chris’s systematic killing. No one alive, no new host should this one die.
Perhaps an evacuation might have been more humane
It returned. The creature, the Walrider.
The next twenty minutes or so of Miles’s life were somehow even more harrowing than the last few days. As terrifying as the other things chasing him had been at least all of them had been human. Deep down. Despite how fucked up the engine had made them.
This creature though… it just seemed to be omnipresent. Even grabbing and throwing him at one point.
But he managed to get what he needed to do done. The only thing standing between him and killing this creature, hopefully, was to slam his mutilated hand down on a panel. Shut the whole thing down.
Bolting towards the Morphogenic Engine, Miles focused on nothing but the panel.
It saw him though, screeching after him, claws merely inches from his face when the loud, sudden bang brought its attention elsewhere.
Huffing and heaving, Chris filled the doorway of the kicked down door.
For whatever reason, the Walrider was suddenly much, much more interested in Chris than he was in Miles.
With horror, Miles saw his normally immovable protector suddenly be flung forward like a ragdoll before being slammed backwards into the glass of the observation chamber. There was a thunderous noise as a spiderweb of cracks formed around where Chris had made contact with it.
But as horrible as that noise was, the sound of Chris screaming was much more concerning. It was the most oddly human Miles had heard from him, undistorted by half his face missing. Just a normal man’s scream, afraid for his life.
As the creature, barely visible if not for night vision, began to lift Chris again Miles’s brain caught up with the situation.
Slamming his hand down on the panel, immediately made the Walrider release Chris. Dropping to the ground in a pile. Still moving though, that was the important part. Incredibly dazed but moving.
Miles was only given a second to see Billy begin to struggle as his pod filled with blood before he realized that while the Walrider had given up attacking Chris, the creature wasn’t done with its rampage.
Flung violently to the side, all Miles had in his mind was the desperate hope that any second now the creature would at least be crippled by this enough to run. But it should be dying, why wasn’t it dying?
A few more times, Miles was thrown around roughly. Only seeing out of the corner of his eye Chris now sitting up, frantic but unable to stop this from happening.
Eventually it stopped through, just a second, as Miles found it face to face with it about twenty feet off the ground.
What was i- oh god, no, nope, don’t fucking do that!!
Completely helpless to stop it, Miles was forced to watch as the terrifying creature… god, he didn’t even have a coherent thought to describe this. Merged? Fused? Possessed? Him.
Either way it sunk into his stomach, an ice cold cloud being absorbed into his skin and guts in easily the least pleasant sensation he’s ever countered. A frigid feeling spreading outward from there.
Not being given another second to contemplate the ramifications of what had just happened to him he suddenly felt his frozen stomach drop along with his entire body as he slammed back down to earth one final time.
Miles’s world kept fading to black and back as he lay there on the ground, his body threatening to make him go unconscious in self defense. Uncomfortably, he realized some of the black was real. A mist coming off his body. Barely visible unless you were looking for it.
He’d almost welcome the darkness if it would stop the alternating pain and freezing cold going to war in his body.
Like the world’s slowest strobelight he watched Chris approach him lying on the ground.
Picked up again, considerably less roughly this time.
Chris looked unsure of what he was supposed to do about this as he pulled Miles onto his lap.
“I really fucked this up, didn’t I?” Miles asked.
He shook slightly as a weak and raspy laugh came from Chris, sounding more pained than usual. He nodded.
“So, your quarantine…” Miles started, “That… that thing is what it was, wasn’t I? No one alive, no hosts?”
Looking away, Chris nodded again.
“Well, I won’t… I won’t pretend I’m a scientist or anything but what it did to me… well, it was pretty unambiguous. I’m the host now, aren’t I?”
The claws curled tighter into his jacket, as Chris nodded again. Still not looking at him.
Miles wasn’t stupid. He could deduce, even with his shaken mind, what Chris was thinking right now. The man had systematically and thoroughly killed dozens of people in an attempt to contain what was now lying helpless in his lap.
Just… now trapped in the body of someone he’s made the foolish mistake of getting attached to.
“Are you going to kill me?”
Suddenly and sharply, Chris looked back. Staring.
“That was your goal, right? I mean… I guess we saw what happens when a host die…”
Chris struggled for words, “Can’t… can’t kill you.”
“What, too much of a pity to waste my beauty?” Miles managed to joke, even as pain racked his body.
Without an ounce of sarcasm, Chris replied, “Yes.”
“You’re gonna… you’re gonna make me blush,” Miles said as his head lolled back as he almost went unconscious again, “Fuck, this uh… shit, why are you so okay? It threw you around too.”
Chris didn’t have an answer to that, just beginning to stand up now as he continued to hold Miles who was feeling increasingly like an injured baby animal found in the woods.
As he started walked towards the exit, Miles asked, “So what’re… what’re we doing then?”
“Thanks, that’s helpful.”
It was Miles’s turn to laugh, “What are… you just gonna have to keep track of me, I’m your quarantine now?”
“I suppose it doesn’t matter where we go then, does it?”
“Man, you’ve really signed yourself up for hell, you know that right?” Miles couldn’t help but stop the shit eating grin on his face.
Chris looked at him, Miles supposed an eyebrow would have been raised if he had them.
Elaborating, Miles only looked more smug, “I mean, now you’re stuck with me and now you know my decision making skills are so fucking bad I will literally go and get myself possessed by a hell demon.”
However, Chris didn’t seem to mind as he managed to continue to hold Miles with one hand and ruffle his hair with the other.
We're within throwing distance of the end! Just a short epilogue and this journey will be done. I've enjoyed writing this but I always love wrapping up a story so I'm quite excited to get this journey done.
Chapter 9: Epilogue- Escapism at its Finest
PLEASE NOTE: This is just the epilogue, posted same day as the last chapter which is the one before this.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Neither of them had much to pack when they made it back to Chris’s lair.
Easily it all fit in one bag. Nothing but a laptop, a slightly beat up camera, and a stuffed pig.
Leaving the laboratory below had been… eventful.
To say Chris didn’t like watching the Walrider start messing with Miles was an understatement but as the black smoke curled under a door ahead of them he had to find himself oddly grateful.
Whatever had happened behind said door had left a mess. If either of them had to make an educated guess, the creature had remanifested in an effort to protect its new host from the armed forces on just the other side.
All they knew that was by the time Chris opened the doors and walked through with Miles they had been nothing but a bloody pulp.
But now, as they packed their meager belongings and prepared to leave, Chris couldn’t help but be concerned about the possibilities with that.
Would the Walrider only act in self defense? So far it had killed the swat team or whatever they’d been but it wasn’t killing Chris. They’d passed a few patients, benign ones, and it left them alone.
Maybe it being a part of Miles… maybe it was conforming to his more pacifist world views?
Chris hoped it was that last one but also figured they’d find out.
Walking towards the front door, Miles felt relieved and anxious at the same time.
Miles knew the creature was around, more than Chris did. He could see it clearer, always darting ahead, always looking for… for danger. As far as Miles could tell.
He tried to address thoughts to the Walrider to see if it would listen and it did seem to react and conform to his thoughts. At least, Miles really hoped he wasn’t just reading into it. Watching the creature’s actions as it lurked in the corners of his eyes.
Right as they’d left it had disappeared again, diving downstairs ahead of them as they descended.
Miles didn’t know what it had done but there seemed to be a fresh pile of body parts for them to step over as they approached the front door. Despite this, Miles felt better as he closed his eyes and took a deep, deep breath of fresh air.
Reopening them he saw they weren’t alone though and not just because of the creature floating around them.
Limping slowly ahead was the same scrawny man as before.
It wasn’t hard for them to catch up and apparently the man was too distracted by the freedom being dangled in front of him to notice he wasn’t alone.
By the time he caught up, the man had reached Miles’s jeep and was experimentally pulling at the door handle. Unlocked.
Miles called out to him from Chris’s arms, “Hey, I know these are some extreme circumstances but don’t steal my car?”
The man’s head jerked up. Presumably, he wouldn’t have been so pants shittingly terrified if it was just Miles but his escort… well, Chris was a whole other situation. Mercifully, something about being outside had caused the man to freeze instead of bolt.
“Bro, if you drive you can borrow my ride to your house but you’re not leaving us here.”
Miles patted Chris’s arm to be let down as they approached the car. The man will watching them warily as Miles climbed into the backseat and gestured for Chris to follow.
For a second, he looked around but saw no better options as he slid into the driver’s seat.
Flinching as Miles pushed himself forward to extend a mangled hand to him, “I’m Miles Upshur.”
Gingerly, he grabbed the hand while trying to politely ignore the slightly bloody bandages, “Waylon Park.”
Collapsing against the backseat, he patted Chris’s chest, “This is Chris Walker. My combination boyfriend and bodyguard.”
“Did you… did you know him before he was here?”
“Nope, what you didn’t start a weird romance with an inmate? Only way to do Mount Massive, really.”
“Before you were here?” Miles laughed.
Waylon gestured towards the building, incredulous, “Yes! Before I was here!”
Miles said, gesturing for Waylon to start driving, “Well, alright man. Let’s get you home to your wife so I can get home to my life.”
Despite his continuing skepticism towards their larger, significantly more bloody and faceless companion Waylon complied, turning the jeep around and starting to drive away from Mount Massive.
In the backseat, Miles settled in against Chris’s arm and closed his eyes.
Mount Massive might have taken his fingers and his humanity but he was alive.
Feeling his hair get ruffled, he smiled slightly.
Oh, and he wasn’t alone.
Well, we've hit the end! This fic definitely got a lot more attention than I expected and I enjoyed writing it but I'm also quite happy to finally be down to doing only 3 medium/longfics at once lol.
This is also the only fic I'm doing right now that like... doesn't have some grand tragedy.
There's a chance I might do more Chris/Miles at some point in the future but right now I do have another Outlast fic going, "Let Me Sell You The Dream" which is Trager/Blaire. I really wanna stick to 3 or less fics going at once lol.