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Vision

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            It's painful being given something so beautiful and then having it ripped away.  The world had been so full of colours and intricate delights.  Now, I walk around in fog and shadows.

            "I think that you're ready to return home, now."  The gentle, soothing voice of Dr. Jensen White had never made me happier.  "Your family has moved, but we've arranged for your transportation.  Everything may seem new and foreign at first, but you will learn the placement of everything as you have here.  Do you have any questions?"

            I shook my head.  My days with him had been difficult.  I had acted out on my anger and frustration countless times and he had been nothing but patient with me.  I was feeling embarrassed, now.  What must he have thought of me?

            To be truthful, I would be happy to never have to leave here.  This place had become my home and I at least had a couple of friends here, granted that many of them were much older than me.  With my family, it had been a flurry of sorrow and betrayal.  We were not particularly rich.  Dad's business was slow and mom was jobless after the incident.  My little sister, Violet, was a rebel without cause who often got on my nerves.  All of this was amplified when mom caught dad cheating on her with one of his students.

            The woman with dad was probably half of dad's age.  She had reappeared several times after they were caught and when I spoke to her, I was immediately left with a feeling of dislike.  She had seemed civil at first, but as the conversation heated up, I realised that she was absolutely irrational.  It was ironic that she was a psychology major.  I'd prefer it if she was admitted, instead.

            Not long after mom had found out about dad's unfaithfulness, I had caught the two in the master bedroom, again.  That was when I decided to stay in the institution, indefinitely.  I didn't want to deal with them and what would happen if mom saw those two together, again.  

            Of course, that didn't mean that I never saw them.  I was free to visit home anytime I want and they could come visit me, which they did often.  One of their last visits, mom was the only one there.  She had told me that she was planning to divorce my dad and asked what I thought about it.  I eagerly supported her decision.  She promptly added that we would be moving to Florida to stay with Aunt Jo.

            When they finally decided to move away from the bad memories, the doctor had recommended for me to stay because I was finally getting used to the therapy sessions.  I happily complied because I knew that mom hadn't gone through with the divorce and I didn't want to deal with the drama.

            Now that I seemed better, I had to return back to the war zone and hope that I was going to make it out of there alive.  What I wouldn't give to quickly turn eighteen and become my own person.  I may still be dependent on another person, but at least I'd be able to legally leave if I ever had to.

            "Dr. White?  I'm sorry for being so... so childish during all those times..." I quietly apologised.  "You've been nothing but kind to me and..."  I fidgeted with the hem of my shirt.  "Thank you for everything."

            I wished that I could gauge his expression.  "I can't say that I would ever truly understand what losing your vision feels like, but I know that you would never intentionally harm anyone."  Was he telling me the truth or was this just part of his bedside routine?  "If you don't have any questions, there is someone I know in LA who can help you and if you need someone to talk to, I will always be here.  Just dial for the reverse charge and I will take care of the long distance."  He handed me two sets of documents - one was in Braille and the other I could only assume was normal print.

            Dr. White led me out of his office and into the care of Dr. Greg Henderson, the man who was going to travel with me to my family's new home.  This man lived in LA as a therapist.  Dr. White told me that he was going to be the one to see me, now.

            I said my sorrowful goodbyes to Dr. White before obediently following Dr. Henderson into a car.  The man tried to strike up a light-hearted conversation with me as we travelled, but I was in no mood to speak.  I could feel the bubbly sensation of dread at the pit of my stomach.  I didn't want to leave the contentment of the therapeutic centre for a life of nothing.  

            "I thought mom wanted to live with Aunt Jo.  She lives in Florida.  Why are we going to LA?" I finally spoke to him when I heard the PA of the airport call for us to board.

            Dr. Henderson didn't know, but figured that they must've changed their minds.  I wondered if he knew about my situation.  Did patient confidentiality extend between doctors, as well?

            I was left to my thoughts as Dr. Henderson finally decided to take a break with the one-sided conversation.

            When we landed, he woke me up.  I wasn't sure when I dozed off, but the sleep didn't take any of the weariness away.  I felt sluggish and terrible.

            "It'll be alright," he tried to comfort me as we got off the taxi.  There was something in his tone that unsettled me.  What did he know, but wasn't saying?  Was someone dead?  When I asked, he merely brushed my concerns aside and reassured me that my entire family was alive.

            I felt around with my white cane and then with my hands, trying to get familiarised with the environment around the house.  There was a tall iron gate and a beautiful lawn.  As I looked up, I noticed how large the house was.  How did my parents afford something this grand?

            As I was lost in thought, the doctor had knocked on the door before I could stop him.  I wasn't ready.  I wasn't ready to face them.

            "Dr. Harmon?"

            "Yes, can I help you?"  The sound of father's irritated tone only fuelled my desire to run away.

            I saw the dark shadow of Dr. Henderson move to the right.  Immediately, I looked down.  I didn't want to face my cheating father.

            "Oh, my God..." I heard him whisper.  "Madi?"  I felt his hands on each of my shoulders before he began to call out to mom and Violet.

            Only one set of hurried footsteps echoed throughout the house.  "What is it, Ben?"

            Hearing her voice, I could feel tears prickling my eyes.  My mother was always so kind and gentle to a fault.  I hadn't realised how much I missed her until now.

            "Mom...?"  My voice cracked.

            I heard a muffled sob before Ben was pushed away and I was enveloped into a warm embrace.  "Oh, my baby.  You're home.  You're home!"  She kissed my face everywhere as if I was a young child, again.

            With quick words of gratitude to the doctor and a briefing of my situation, I was ushered into the foreign house.  When I walked in, there was someone standing in front of me.  "...  Violet?"  Did she cut her hair and grow two feet while I was away? 

            "Never been mistaken for a girl before."  The deep, amused voice definitely didn't belong to my sister.

            "Sorry," I mumbled.  My face was already burning with embarrassment.  "I...  I can't really see your face or much of anything else really."

            "I can tell."  And I could definitely hear the smirk in his voice.

            "Tate, get back into the living room."  Ben sounded annoyed.  "Madi, go upstairs.  Violet is going to be excited to see you, again."

            I snorted.  "Of course, she would..." I muttered under my breath.  "I don't really know my way around the house, yet," I told him.  From the way Ben spoke, it didn't seem like he was going to help me and mom was still talking with Dr. Henderson.

            "I can help her, Dr. Harmon," Tate volunteered, probably jumping at the chance to relieve his boredom.

            "No, Tate.  Get back into the living room.  Madi, just...  just wait for us.  This won't take long," he grounded out.

            I sighed and made my way towards the wall.  I might as well start getting introduced to the house.  As I travelled down the hall, I bumped into a couple of sharp corners and groaned in pain each time.

            I heard a muffled laugh to my left and saw Tate's silhouette leaning against the door frame, just out of eyesight of my parents. 

            "Shut up," I huffed, but slowly made my way over to him.  When I passed through the arch, I immediately felt his hand around the crook of my elbow.  He led me to the couch and we both sat down.  I folded up my cane and placed it on my lap.  "So, why are you seeing Ben?"

            "My mom wanted me to see him.  I get in trouble at school a lot, so I dropped out, so she isn't too happy with me," he replied nonchalantly before changing the subject.  "I take it that your relationship with your dad isn't too great."

            "It's difficult getting over what he had done," I started.  "Mom may be more willing to forgive him, but I wish that she had just gone with the plan to Aunt Jo's."

            "You don't like it here?"  Tate sounded disappointed and perhaps a bit offended, so I decided to smooth things over.  It was hard to make friends when you're blind and I didn't want to let him go if I didn't have to.

            "I just don't want to live with him," I told him.  "And I really don't know enough of this place to really make a decision, yet."

            "Then how about me?  What do you think about me, right now?  Is it too soon?"  There was a twang of flirtation in his tone.

            I smiled politely at him.  "I'm wondering what you look like and if I could touch your face to define your features," I replied.  "How old are you?"

            "Seventeen," he answered, while taking my hands into his and guiding them to his face.  "What about you?"

            "I'll be seventeen by the end of the year."  He felt cold, but his skin was soft and smooth.  My fingers trailed up his face.  He had a head of silky curls.

            When I retracted my hands, he asked, "How does my face feel?"

            I played around with the cane.  "Nice..."

            "I think your face is nice, too."

            I gulped as my face flushed red, again.  He was definitely a flirt.

            "Tate?"

            I looked up to where I heard my little sister's voice.

            "Madi?"

            "Hey, Vi," I mumbled back.  Our relationship wasn't great, but we bonded over our detest for our biological father.  She thought of me as an ass kissing over-achiever and I thought she was trying far too hard to stand out, constantly crying for attention with her rebellious attitude.

            "You're back."  It was a curt statement that didn't warrant any further words nor a reply.  "So I guess you don't have to go to school anymore, since you're blind and all."

            "Not physically, no," I told her.  "But I'm taking courses online."

            "Of course, you are," she grumbled.

            Our awkward conversation was interrupted by Ben's angry cry.  "I am a licensed therapist.  We don't need you to help Madi.  I'll take care of her."

            "Dr. Harmon, not only would there be a conflict of interest, but when you signed the contract with us, it clearly stated that we will be the only ones who are going to be having sessions with her.  If this is a monetary issue, I can assure you that it has all been taken care of.  See it as compensation for allowing us to use our new... methods."

            I was actually never told what the new methods were, but it wasn't as if I knew what the standard was for people like me.

            "Tate, do you wanna hang out?" Violet asked the boy.  This made me wonder what relationship they had.  "They're going to be busy with Madi for a while, so they don't know if we just disappear."

            I bit my lips.  "Are the two of you...?"

            Tate's shoulders moved up and down once.  "I would like to think of us as friends, but Dr. Harmon isn't too happy about it."

            When it didn't seem as if Tate was going to move from his spot on the couch, Violet went back upstairs to her room.  Moments later, I could hear the sound of music blasting through the walls.

            "I think she likes you," I blurted out.

            "I know."

            We grew silent when the front door finally closed and my parents entered the sitting room.

            "I thought I heard Violet, why didn't you go with her?" Ben asked.  His irritation was still evident.

            "She didn't seem too happy to see me...  As always..."

            Mom was immediately by my side, reassuring me that that was not the case.

            I smiled appeasingly at her before asking where I was going to be sleeping.  She slowly led me up the stairs as I gave Tate a farewell wave that he may or may not have replied to.

            From what I could tell, the room that I was given was bare, except for the bare essentials.  I was probably going t leave it this way, unless I wanted to trip and break my neck the next day.

            My first night in the house was relatively uneventful.  At least, while I was awake.  When I went to bed and fell asleep, however, I had the oddest dream.  To say that I had never had a wet dream in my life was a lie, but this one was so vivid and unusual.

            I was in my room and I could see a blur of colours, something that I wasn't used to seeing anymore.  My vision was still blurred, but I could distinctly see a figure standing by the foot of my bed.  The form looked to be male and dressed in all black.  The outfit was tight and reflected the moon glow that siphoned into my room.  Every inch of his body was covered, except for his eyes.  They looked very dark and the skin around the eyes was pale.

            I sucked in a sharp breath when I noticed that he was moving towards me.  I scooted as far away as I could in my bed until my back hit the wooden headboard.  My heart was racing in my chest and millions of questions swarmed my mind.  Who was he?  How did he get into my room and what did we want with me?

            A frightened squeak escaped my lips as he crawled on to the bed.  "W-Who are you?"

            As I was about to run away, he grabbed my wrists and held me in place.  In mere seconds, I was underneath him.  I screamed for help, but no one seemed to be coming.  I thrashed around as he shifted his grip so that both of my wrists were secured with one hand.  His other hand roamed down my body and up my cotton pajama top.

            "Stop!  Please!" I begged him with tears streaming down my face.  "Please!  Why are you doing this?  Who are you?"

            He didn't reply.  I wondered if he even heard me as his hand squeezed my left breast.

            With a swift motion, all the buttons that help my top closed ripped and flew through the air.  He leaned down and took a deep breath as he buried his face between my breasts.  I shuddered with disgust.  "Let go!"

            I felt something rough being wound around my wrists.  Where had the rope come from?

            He had tied me to the post of the bed.  With two free hands, he easily maneuvered himself between my legs.  I could feel a bulge through the tight rubbery material.  My body began to tremble.  I was a virgin and this was not the way I imagined my first time to be.  "Please, no."  I tried to kick him, but it was impossible. 

            He tugged down my pants and shifted so that the bottom slid to my ankles.  When he was satisfied, he began to rub against the only fabric that kept my innocence safe.

            "No...  No..." I chanted, shaking my head.

            Instead of taking off my panties, he merely moved them to the side.  With one rubber-covered finger, he trailed down my navel to a sensitive spot that made me gasp and shudder.  Involuntarily, my abdominal muscles clenched and heat pooled down to the intersection between my legs.

            He spent several minutes circling the bundle of nerves before moving down further.  As the finger brushed along my slit, I bucked my hip and whimpered.  He continued to rub and I realised with great embarrassment that the finger was beginning to be covered with clear, slick moisture.

            When he was satisfied, he inserted the digit.  I yelped and tugged at the rope.  A second digit entered me and a third quickly followed.  He slid them in and out as I cried, confused on what I was feeling.  I squeezed my eyes shut, but couldn't stop a whimper of disappointment when his fingers disappeared from within me.

            I opened my eyes when I heard the sound of a zipper.  HIs erection sprung out and my eyes widened with fear.  There was no way that he was going to fit inside me without tearing me apart.

            His body hovered over mine as he slowly guided himself inside me.  I screamed again as the head popped in.  It hurt.  It hurt.  It hurt.  I began to thrash around, once more, but he ignored my protests.  He continued to slide in until he hit my cervix.

            I could feel him shudder against me and when he began to move, I could feel the pain rack my body.  I knew that I had to be bleeding.  He started off slow, but as he found his rhythm, he began to increase his pace.

            I tried to stop it.  I really did, but the next thrust forced a moan of pleasure past my lips.  After that, something in him changed.  He lifted my legs over his shoulders and began to pound harder and faster inside me.

            I gasped and bucked against him as I saw white spots flooding my vision.  Pleasure exploded through me and left me completely motionless as he continued to thrust.

            Not long after, my body was responding to his assault, again.  I cried out as I came a second time and felt him freeze before collapsing on top of me.

            One of his hands untied the rope that held my wrists.  Sluggishly, I reached for the back of the black, rubber mask and found a zipper there.  I tugged at the metal.  It moved sleekly upward.  Who was he...?

            Beep.  Beep.  Beep.  Beep.

            I jerked awake and fell off the bed.

Chapter Text

                I was in my room for the majority of the second day.  My luggage were unpacked and I had my possessions organised within the drawers.

                I ruffled through a small packet of papers and turned on my laptop.  The computer was specially made for the patients of the therapeutic centre and I loved how easy it was to use it.  Everything had verbal commands.  It made studying much easier.

                For the next few hours, no one interrupted my time alone and only meals tore me away from my studying.  When I arrived at the dining room, I could feel the tension that threatened to suffocate me.  This was what I was afraid to return to.  Mom was persistent to keep a light conversation going and so was Ben, but I wasn't feeling too talkative and there was no hope that Violet would go along with mom's trivial pursuits.

                I was also informed that there was going to be a housekeeper - Moira.  She had always worked here in the house as a two for one deal, but we still had to pay her. 

                When the awkward family time was over, I returned to my room and went back to the material that I had to study.

                It wasn't long before I heard something hitting my windows.  I frowned and walked towards it, but the night blurred all the silhouettes into a giant sea of black.

                "Madi?" I heard a hushed voice outside below my window.

                "Tate?" I quietly called back.  "What are you doing here?"

                "Had an argument with my mom.  Can I come up?"

                I bit my lips nervously.  I knew that there was a tree beside my room, but I had only just met him.

                "Please?  I don't want to go back to that hell hole."

                "Okay."  I wondered if I was making the right decision.  What if someone found him in my room?  What if he was a sick rapist?

                I stepped back when I noticed that he was nearing the windowsill.  When he was inside, I moved awkwardly back to bed where my laptop was sitting before putting on my headphones.

                Tate thanked me for letting him in before sitting on the edge of my bed.  "What are you doing?"

                "Studying," I curtly replied.

                He picked up the sheets of paper covered with tiny bumps.  "How do you read this?"

                I tried to focus on what the voice was saying in the headphone, but as he asked more questions, I realised that I wouldn't be able to concentrate while he was around.  "It's just like learning a new language."

                "Were you born like this?"  He seemed genuinely curious, so I went along with it.

                I shook my head.  "I started losing my vision during the start of puberty.  I can still...  see, but it's all in black and white and I can't see anything specific.  It's like looking through very thick fog all the time," I explained.

                As we continued to converse, I realised that he was a very amiable person with a troubling life.  He was bullied at school and his mother didn't care about him.  "I can't be her perfect child!" he growled.  He explained about how she was in completely denial.  "She just drives me crazy!"  When he finished, he sounded close to tears.

                At first, I patted his arm, trying to be comforting, but as I noticed that it wasn't helping him, I pulled him into a hug.  He clung on to me like a child as he sobbed.

                "Sorry," he mumbled once he calmed down.  "I'm not making a very good impression, am I?"

                I smiled at him.  "I like sensitive guys," I replied, a soft blush on my face.  "Besides, if it wasn't for you, I would've just spent the rest of the night studying."

                He pulled away and peeked over to the open laptop.  "I've never learned that before."

                I looked sheepishly back at him.  "I'm taking college courses, right now."

                "But you're younger than me!" he exclaimed.

                I quickly hushed him, afraid that he was going to alert the rest of my family.  "I had a lot of time on my hands at the institution.  Since I can't really see, my entertainment options are quite limited."

                "So you studied."  I could hear the incredulous tone in his voice and whacked his arm.

                "Shut up," I shot back, grinning.  It slowly disappeared when I thought of what I wanted to do after I finished my schooling.  "None of this has any meaning in the end anyway.  Whatever I choose the pursuit, the likelihood that I'll be hired for it is slim.  No one is going to want a blind girl in their employment."  I sighed and laid down on my back.

                I felt him lay down beside me.  "You can always create your own business at home."

                "Where am I going to get any money?"

                We spent a long time musing the paths my life could take.  When I asked about his future, he was vague and quickly changed the subject.  I reassured him that many students didn't know what they wanted to do in life and told him that I was still the same.

                I felt the tips of his fingers brush mine.  When I didn't pull away, he held my hand in his.  His hand was cold, but it felt nice having someone to really talk to.  I never really had friends my age.  The only people I was able to converse with was my mom and Dr. White.  There were also several patients, but no one my age.  I had contemplated the possibility that I was going to be alone and thought I had accepted it, but being so close to someone now, I couldn't help longing for companionship.  I wanted to have a normal life - school, friends, boyfriends.  I didn't really get to have any of them.

                I tightened my grip on his hand and he squeezed back.  This was what I had longed for.

                Some time during the night, I had fallen asleep with Tate still laying beside me.

                And from that night on, Tate often visited me during the same time.  We never did more than talk and hold hands.  In a way, I was glad because we had only just met, but another part of me was longing to know what his lips would feel like on mine.  Would they be soft or chapped?  Were they warm or as cold as his hands?

                We talked about many things and when I asked why he dropped out, he told me about the bullying and the final step to spiting his mother.

                One day, when he was about to leave, he told me something that peaked my curiosity.  He told me to never go to the basement without him.  I hadn't been planning on going there at all, but now, I couldn't get the idea out of my head.  Why didn't he want to me to go there?  What had he seen when he had lived in this house several years ago?

                The thoughts flew out of my head when Ben told us that he had to head off back to Boston to visit a patient.  Immediately, I was suspicious.  I waited until mom and Violet were upstairs to confront him.

                "Who are you visiting?" I asked him as he was putting on his coat.

                "Just a patient," came the vague reply.

                I tried my best to glare at him.  "You're going to go visit the crazy bitch, aren't you?"

                That caught his attention.  "Madi, language."

                "My language is the last of my worries when you're going off to see the home wrecker, Ben.  Didn't we move here to get away from all that?" I argued.  "Can't you stop thinking with your dick and actually consider that your family needs you here?"

                "It's not her," he weakly protested.  "And you're only a child.  Leave the adult business to your mother and I."

                I watched as light exploded into the room before the sound of the door closing bathed me in darkness, once more.

                "Why do you even bother?" my sister asked me from the base of the staircase.  "There's no point in trying to keep this family together.  Mom is weak and you're weak thinking that it would ever be like before.  We can live without him."

                "That doesn't mean that we should condone his cheating ways and I hope you haven't been talking to mom like that.  She's trying really hard - not just for herself, but also for us," I scolded her.  Violet's blatant disrespect for the wrong people always irked me.  She was also rarely ever reprimanded for it.  God forbid if I spoke ill of the crazy bitch...

...

 

                "So, it's just the three of us for a few days," mom told us at the dining table.

                I hated how she just accepted it.  There had to be a point where she was finally going to divorce him.

                "How was school, Violet?" she tried, again.

                Violet grumbled back at her.  "You know I hate it there.  I wish I was blind!"

                "Violet!" mom scolded her before turning to me.  "Madi, what about you?  How are your studies?"

                "Good," I replied.  "The fall semester had just started, so not a lot of pressure, right now."

                Mom fell silent for a short moment before striking up another conversation.  "Dr. Henderson wants to see you next week at his office.  I'll drive you there, since I don't know when your father is going to come back." In another beat, she blurted out.  "I'm pregnant."

                I froze.  I thought that mom was only tolerating Ben, not still being intimate with the bastard.  Did he know about this when he decided to go visit the bitch?

                Beside me, Violet had abruptly stood up and stormed upstairs.  I heard mom sigh.

                "Why?" I asked her.  "I thought it was over.  Don't' say that it's for us or that he would change his ways.  What we have isn't good – it's not healthy.  You know that.  He's just not a good father.  I'm tired of defending you to Violet."

                "I don't know what to do, Madi," she whispered.  "He's always been there.  I can't even imagine living without him, now."

                I bit my lip, wondering what I should say.  It wouldn't be right to keep pushing her on a divorce while she's pregnant, especially if she didn't want to leave him.  At least he wasn't abusive and he was still the only one with a job.

                "Mom, why don't you relax on the couch.  I'll wash the dishes, today," I offered, already groping around for the plates and glasses.

                "Are you sure?  I can do it."

                I waved her off.  "It's fine.  What can go wrong?  If I break anything, I swear to call for you instead of picking it up myself.  I really want to just live like I'm not... you know."

                She seemed to finally be convinced and left me to it.

                I quietly hummed to myself, trying to rid the day's events from me head, as I filled the sink with water.  It wasn't so bad here.  The house was big and of course, the cute neighbour boy wasn't bad, either.

                A small smile graced my lips as I thought about him.  We had only just met and I was already falling head over heels for him.

                My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of someone knocking on the door.  I frowned.  Who was coming to visit so late in the evening?

                "What happened to you?" I heard mom ask.  There was a pause before she started to speak, again.  "Well, you said that.  Can you tell me what happened?  How did you get hurt?"

                I wiped my hands and walked over to the phone that was sitting on the kitchen counter.  "Mom, I'm calling the cops!"

                I picked up the phone and dialled, but when I held the phone to my ear, I didn't hear a dial tone.  "Mom!  The phone isn't wor - "

                A hand reached out from behind me and covered my mouth.  I struggled against the body that held me trapped.

                "Madi?!" I heard mom scream for me.  "Madi, where are y - "

                There was a soft thump and my mom fell silent.

                The person began to drag me out of the kitchen.  I could see several forms in front of me.  Two were standing and two were sitting.  There were three of them in total.

                "What are we gonna do?  We have an extra one," the man who held me said.

                "There were no blind girls in the transcript," one of the females stated.  "We'll kill that one."

                At the words, I struggled harder and I could hear my mom crying out with distress. 

                "Don't kill her in the house, though.  Take it outside.  I want this to be perfect."  With that, I was forced into the cool night.  As I was about to scream, the man clocked me in the head and my cry died into a whimper as I fell to my knees.  He wrapped a cloth around my face, covering my mouth.  There was a second strip of fabric wound around my wrists.

                When I felt the sharp, cool blade against my neck, tears finally pooled out of my eyes.  This was it.  After everything that I had to go through, I was going to die at the hands of a psycho who was acting out according to some stupid transcript.

                I clenched my eyes shut.  There was still so much that I wanted to do and so much that I had yet to experience.  I wanted to see Tate.  I wanted to hold hands and lay in bed with him.  I wanted to kiss him.  I wanted to marry and have kids.  I didn't want to die!

                Mustering up whatever strength and courage that I had left, I threw my head backwards, causing the psycho to curse, stumble back, and drop the knife, but not before the sharp edge nicked the tender skin of my neck.

                I scrambled back as soon as possible and tried to find my footing.

                There was a surprised cry from behind me before it turned into one of agony.  I turned and saw another dark figure behind the man who held me captive.  The figure looked familiar and he had a knife in his hand.

                In one smooth motion, he sliced the intruder's neck open like hot butter.  When the figure turned to me, I fervently shook my head and began to run, but he caught me before I was even able to reach the tall gates.

                As he touched me, my heart jumped in my chest.  The rubber material felt slick against my arm.  He picked me up with ease and slung me over his shoulder during my moment of distraction.  He entered the house and trudged up the stairs to my bedroom.  I was flung on to my bed.  All I could do was stare fearfully at him.  The world around me seemed to change and I saw glimpses of colour as I did when I dreamt of him the first night.

                He stood there silently watching me.  I looked uncertainly back at him.  As he took his first step and began to near me, I tried to scurry backwards.  When he was right in front of me, he reached behind the back of my head and the cloth fell away.

                "Please, no," I begged him.  What happened in my dream flashed through my head.  "Not now.  Help my mom and Violet.  I swear, after...  after I'll let you do whatever you want with me."

                There was a short pause before he made his way to the door.  I heard the sound of the door behind locked from the other side.

                When he was gone, I realised that he had left my wrist ties on, so I began to wiggle around until I had my arms in front of me.  I tried to feel for the knot with my teeth, but it was too tight for me to pull apart.

                As I waited for him to come back, I could hear my heart trying to beat out of my chest.  It nearly stopped when a horrified scream ripped through the entire house.  I wondered if it was my mom or Violet.  I could only hope that it was one of the intruders, instead.

                Minutes passed and there had been no other noise in the house.  Was anyone still alive?  Was I the only one left?  Where did the rubber man go?

                I curled up in my bed and waited for anyone to come looking for me.

                Knock.  Knock.

                I jerked into a sitting position.  Was it the rubber man or the intruders?  Was it mom or Violet?

                "Madi?"

                My heart skipped a beat when I heard his voice.  "Tate?"  I got to my feet and pressed my forehead against the door.  "Tate, what are you doing here?  What's happening out there?"

                "Nothing," he replied.

                "C-Can you unlock the door?  This guy put me in here and he locked it from the outside," I told him after trying desperately to open it.

                I heard the knob turn several times and then it clicked.  I stepped away from the door as it swung open.  "Tate!" I cried out and flung myself at him.

                He wrapped his arms around me and held me close.  "I'm here, Madi.  I'm here," he whispered into my hair.  "I was so worried.  I thought you were...  I - I don't think I can imagine life without you."

                I sniffed and buried my face into his neck.  "Have you seen mom or Violet?"

                "Yeah, they're fine.  The last I saw them was down the block," he replied as I breathed a sigh of relief.  "When I came in, I saw two people run away.  I didn't recognise them."

                I nodded.  He untied my wrists and led me downstairs.  As he were about to leave the house, we heard police sirens approaching.  Tate's grip on my arm tightened.

                "The cops and I don't get along," he mumbled.  "I'm going to go back home and hide."  He gave me a quick kiss on the cheek before running towards the back door.  I was left standing in the doorway with dark pink cheeks and a dumbfounded look on my face.

Chapter Text

                Not long after, the police found me standing in the house, looking completely lost.  They had reunited me with my mom and Violet who thought I was dead.  I never felt happier in my mom's arms.

                "Are you okay, baby?" she sobbed into my hair.

                I nodded my head.  I was grateful that she hadn't asked how I had gotten away because it'd be difficult explaining why Tate was at the house or why he wasn't here anymore.  He said he didn't get along with the police, I wondered what he meant by that.  What had he done to warrant their attention?

                Mom continued to fret over me until a police officer approached us to talk.  While they spoke, I was lead away by someone else.

                As a precaution, the EMT had driven me to the hospital in the ambulance after they saw the cut on my neck.  Mom offered to go with me, but I waved her off, knowing that the police would want a thorough report.  I also wanted time to myself to think.

                What happened to the three people?  Were they scared off by the police or perhaps the rubber man?

                My heart raced as I thought about the dark, mysterious figure.  He never returned after the intruders left.  Would he be angry if he returned and I wasn't in the house?  Would he…  Would he be angry enough to hurt my family?

                I was stuck with this terrible sense of dread throughout the ambulance ride.

                Once at the hospital, the sinking feeling only amplified.  I never particularly liked going here – not after the frequent visits after suddenly becoming blind.  There was enough poking and prodding to last me a life time.

                After I was seated on a bed, a kind doctor tended to me.  Despite how courteous and kind he was, I was still extremely uncomfortable as he checked for any other injuries and made sure that I was up to date with all my shots.

                "Madison?"  I jolted into awareness from my half-asleep state on the hospital bed.  "Madison, are you alright?"

                I frowned.  "Dr. Henderson?  What are you doing here?"

                "I was driving by when I saw the police in front of your house.  They told me you were driven to the hospital."

                "Oh..." 

                "I came to see how you were doing."

                "I'm good."  It was kind of him to be so considerate, but I wasn't in the mood to talk to him.  I just wanted to go back home and be left alone.  "Probably good that I'm having that session, soon." 

                The conversation was interrupted as two police officers approached.  They wanted to know what happened.  Dr. Henderson gave me a brief farewell and good wishes before I was being interrogate like a criminal.

                They asked many questions and for the most part, I had answered as truthfully as I could, but anything related to Tate or the rubber man, I lied.  Perhaps it was out of gratitude that I never told him to anyone or perhaps somewhere in my mind, I still thought that I had made him up.  He was like an apparition weaving in and out through the walls, coming to terrify me; to conquer me; to save me. 

                Once satisfied, the two law enforcers left and I was finally discharged from the hospital.  All the attention had been stifling.  In a way, I felt more like a criminal than a victim – all the questions and lying. 

Not long after waiting in the lobby, mom picked me up in the car to take me home, but it didn't feel like home anymore.  It never did and I wasn't sure if it ever will. 

Once we were inside, I made sure that all the doors and windows were close and locked before going upstairs to my room.  I even locked the bedroom door before pushing the desk in front of it.  That should do. 

                "Madi?"  The hushed voice behind me made me scream, which I promptly muffled by pressing my hand against my mouth when I recognised the voice.

                "Tate?" I whispered back as I turned around and saw his silhouette against the glow from the window.  "What are you doing here?  I thought you left when the police came."

                He walked towards me and held me in his arms.  "I was worried, so I came back.  You're alright?"  He gingerly touched the bandage around my neck.

                I nodded, relaxing against his body.  "I'm okay."

                We headed to my bed where we laid down under the cover and held hands.  Our shoulders were touching and his presence made me feel safe.

                "You saved me, Tate.  Thank you," I told him, but my thoughts almost immediately went back to the rubber man.  Where had he gone and what did he go to the two remaining intruders?  Tate said he saw two people run out, but then who had screamed?  Maybe he only scared them away?  The police hadn't found any bodies around the house, but...  I knew that the man who held me captive was dead, so where was his body?  I didn't understand what had happened, at all.

                "Madi."  Tate interrupted me from my pondering.  He had turned his head towards me.  "I told you that I can't imagine living without you.  Everything seemed so meaningless until you moved into the house.  I'd do anything to keep you safe."

                I smiled and turned my head towards him as well.  "And I never thought that I would meet someone like you."

                Tate moved closer and I could feel his breath on my lips.  I swallowed hard.  Was he finally going to kiss me?  Were we finally going to cross over the invisible boundary that we had set for ourselves?

                As our lips were about to touch, I saw a glimpse of the rubber man in Tate's place and abruptly jerked away.  My heart was racing in my chest.

                "Madi?"  Tate sounded lost and heartbroken.

                I quickly squeezed his hand when he tried to leave.  "I'm sorry," I whispered.  "Today's just been a rough day and I think the fatigue is starting to make me hallucinate."  I felt like an idiot.  I had wanted to kiss Tate for a while now and just as we were about to do it, the stupid rubber man had ruined everything.

                I was confused.  Was the rubber man even real?  I thought that it had all been a dream, but seeing him today, I wondered if it had all been real, after all.  Who was he?  He quite possibly raped me and then saved my life, today.  Was he a stalker?  How was he getting into the house?

                Subconsciously, I scooted towards Tate until my head was laying on his chest.  Our fingers were still intertwined and with his free hand, he ran his hand through my hair.

                "I really like you, Tate," I whispered.

                His hand stopped and I wondered if I had said the wrong thing.  I thought he was going to kiss me, but was it too early to say it?  I didn't want him to think that I was easy.  What was he thinking, right now?

                "I really like you, too," I heard him quietly reply just as I was dosing off.  There was a smile on my lips as I fell asleep in his arms.

...

 

                Tate watched as the brunette girl fell silent.  Her chest raised up and down rhythmically.  His thumb stroked her palm, absent-mindedly, as he stopped pretending that he had to breathe.  He had been waiting for someone his age for a while now.  Violet had been close, but when Madi arrived, he knew that she was perfect.  The best thing about her was that she was blind and would probably stay in the house most of the time.  All he had needed, then, was to find an excuse to be with her as much as possible.

                He scooted her higher into his arms so that he could feel her breath on his neck and touched her cheek.  He wondered if she knew what she looked like.  When was the last time that she had stood in front of the mirror and admired her own reflection? 

                His fingers trailed down to her lips.  They were soft.  He had been so close, today.  He didn't know what had caused her to move away, but he knew that she at least had feelings for him.

                He leaned over and breathed in her scent.  Vanilla and raspberries, just as he remembered.  He had been afraid for her, today, so he appeared in the rubber suit that one of the fairies had bought.  The problem was, he hesitated.  He knew when the intruders entered the house, but he couldn't just appear right after them, so he waited and he didn't know when would be the appropriate time to step in.

                During the time that he was contemplating, the bastard had a knife to her throat.  In a fit of rage, he had killed him in front of her.  When she looked at him with those wide, fearful eyes, he felt the desire urge from within him.  He wanted her just like that underneath him and writhing and begging for him - whether to stop or continue, he wasn't sure.

                Without thinking, he had taken her to her bedroom and was about to ravish her as he saw fit.  She was his.  His.  But then she looked at him with those round, glazed eyes, begging him for something completely different.

                With a raging hard on, he managed to separate himself after getting rid of her gag.  He'd need to store that image in his memories. 

                When she pleaded for him to help the two other females in the house, he wanted nothing more than to ignore her, pretend that he hadn't heard what she said.  Instead, he obediently left and vented his anger on one of the intruders.  He had taken an axe and swung it over and over again until the crazy bitch was split in two.  Not feeling like dealing with the other one with his erection still painfully being confined in the suit, he left her wandering into the basement where he knew that Maria and Gladys were waiting. 

                He had Moira deal with the bodies, while he got rid of the suit and wandered back upstairs to her room.  He was just Tate, again - someone who she trusted.

                She flew into his arms and he was glad that she couldn't feel the bulge just an inch away.  She'd probably just as quickly flee from him.

                Now that he had her in his arms, he never wanted to let go.

                "Is she going to give me my baby?"  A soft voice interrupted him.            

                Tate placed his hand on the girl's stomach.  "No.  Not her.  Don't worry.  I have your baby."

                Satisfied, the tall, elegant lady disappeared.

                Tate sighed and closed his eyes.  Even though he couldn't sleep, he was still able to feel comfort.  This was a good place to just rest.

                He immersed himself in a fantasy of vanilla and raspberries.

Chapter Text

                Ben had returned home the next day.  He and mom were at the police station.  Violet went with them, but I had opted to stay inside with Tate.

                I was studying and telling him random tidbits of information about the chapter.  He was sitting beside me with a ball in his hands, bouncing it against the opposite wall.  Several times, he tried to convince me to take a break, but I was determined to get the section done before everyone came home.

                Tate sighed and bounced the ball one last time before snatching away my laptop.

                "Hey!" I exclaimed.  "Give it back!  I'm losing my place in the audio!"  He paused the video and shook his head, moving the laptop away from my reach.  I began to reach forward.  My body was completely pressed against his.  From the corner of my eyes, I could see how close his lips were to mine.

                He put the laptop down.  "Madi..."

                Just as our lips were about to touch, there was a noise downstairs that made me jump.  There shouldn't be anyone else in the house.

                "Stay here," he told me, but I shook my head and clung on to him.  I didn't want to wait around helpless like I did last time.  "I'll be walking first then."

                I nodded.

                I stayed close behind him as we quietly made our ways downstairs.  We peeked into the kitchen and I saw a feminine figure standing by the counter looking at our cutlery.

                When Tate made no motion to signal that she was a threat nor did he demand for the intruder to leave, I decided to take matters into my own hands.  "Who are you?" I asked the woman once I stepped out from behind Tate.

                "Hello."  Her voice had a Southern drawl to it.  "I'm Constance - your neighbour."

                "What are you doing here?" I demanded.  I didn't like how she was able to get into our house.  I had made sure that the doors were locked.  Unfortunately, the security system that we were going to install wasn't ready, yet, but I'd be absolutely ecstatic when it is.

                "Oh, you know," she said, in a dismissive tone.

                I pursed my lips and narrowed my eyes at her.  "No, I don't.  Please, explain."

                "I want to speak with my son," she sneered once she realised that I wasn't going to bend to her will.

                Tate went rigid from behind me.  "Go away," he growled.  "I don't want to speak with you and you're not welcome here."

                My eyes widened with shock.  This was his mother?  No wonder he hated her so much. 

                "And you think you're welcome?" his mother taunted him.  "Aren't you labelled as...  what was it?  A psychopath?  I don't think her father would want someone like you to date his daughter and I don't think you're good enough for my son.  What are you - a dropout?"

                I clenched my hands.  "He doesn't want to speak with you and neither do I.  Please, leave.  You're trespassing on private property."

                "I used to live here, you know," she went on as if she hadn't heard me.  "If you'll just leave - "

                "No!" I gritted my teeth.  How was it possible for someone so infuriating to still be alive?  "This is my home.  I don't care what you did before, but you're not going to be ordering me around as if you still owned this place because you don't, so get out before I call the cops.

                There was a moment of silence before she stormed off.

                I sighed, leaning against Tate.  "Your mom sure is a piece of work."

                "Yeah..." he mumbled into my hair.

                We returned to my room and I tried to continue studying, but I couldn't stop thinking about our almost-kiss.  This was twice, now.  When was it actually going to happen?!

                Instead of lingering on anything that had just happened, I found some songs and videos on my laptop to share with Tate.  I couldn't enjoy the graphics, but it was like an audio book - enjoyable, nonetheless.

                When my family was finally home, we had just finished one of my favourite musicals.

                "Why would you choose the deformed murderer instead of the pretty boy vicomte?" Tate asked me, curiosity and fascination oozing from his voice.

                I closed my laptop.  "Why not?"

                "He murdered all those people!  Isn't that reason enough?"  Tate sounded genuinely confused and even frustrated with my flippant dismissal of the crimes.  His hands were gripping his hair and he was starting to scare me.

                I tried to calm him down.  "I know he did, but he had his reasons and he was there for her when she needed someone most.  I believe in treating a person how he has been treating me.  Sure, the past matters, but I don't want to judge someone by that," I softly explained to him.  "I wouldn't say that he was a good person because I know he wasn't.  He did murder all those people, but... he just wanted love and...  I know the feeling of loneliness..."

                There was a moment of silence between us before he enveloped me into a hug.  "I was lonely, too, but...  Not anymore.  I have you, now, and...  Am I enough?"

                I smiled at him.  "Yeah...  Yeah, you are."

                "I should go," he mumbled when mom's voice called me down for dinner. 

                As he was heading towards the window, I quickly followed him.  "Did I offend you?  When I said that I preferred the phantom?"

                He shook his head.  "No, I...  I would've preferred if she had chosen him, too.  I just wanted to know why you would choose the same."

                I accepted his explanation, but I knew there had to be more to it.  "Wait, are you going to come back after dinner?"

                There was a pause and I was afraid that he wasn't going to return, but half way down the tree, he replied, "Yeah."

...

 

                "Madi, we moved your appointment with Dr. Henderson to tomorrow," mom informed me after we finished dinner.  "It's at eleven in the morning.  Don't stay up too late, alright?"

                I nodded.  It was going to be my first session with the doctor.  Was he going to be like Dr. White?  I was kind of nervous.

                "Do you want to watch TV together?" mom blurted out after a moment of silence.  "You've been up in your room alone a lot and...  I thought maybe we can spend some mother-daughter time together."

                I was actually just looking forward to another relaxing evening with Tate, but I didn't want her to get suspicious.  "How about tomorrow night?" I suggested.  "I have a lot to sort out and I'm really nervous about tomorrow.  I'll probably go to bed early."

                She was disappointed, but nodded nonetheless.

                "Don't worry, mom," I tried to reassure her.  "I'm always alright.  I'm the queen of alright, but please don't call me that."  I grinned and this seemed to reassure her, so I took the opportunity to disappear.

                Tate was already waiting for me.

                I smiled and climbed into bed.  "Mom wants me to spend the evening with her tomorrow, so I probably won't be here until later."

                He shrugged.  "I'll come later then or I can just stay in your room."

                I laughed.  "Honestly, Tate.  You might as well live here with how much time you spend in my room."

                "As long as you're here," he mumbled.  "But I don't think your dad likes me much."

                I scoffed.  "I really don't care about what he thinks."  I shoved the laptop towards me and stretch out on my bed.  "I have a session with Henderson tomorrow.  I don't want to go."

                "What are those sessions supposed to do?"

                I began to explain about how the institution thinks that they had some new concept that would change how we viewed the world.  It sounded farfetched to both he and I, but everything was free and I also got quite a few perks with it - the laptop, for example. 

                What made me especially reluctant to go see Dr. Henderson was the fact that being alone with him gave me an odd, dreading feeling.  He appeared friendly enough, but I just couldn't get rid of the unease that I had whenever he was around.

                "How have yours been with Ben?" I asked him, taking the spotlight off of me.

                He shrugged.  "He thinks I'm a psychopath.  I haven't been taking the pills and he asked me why."  He paused.  "I told him I was afraid that my dick wouldn't work."

                I burst out laughing and quickly tried to stifle it, afraid that we would be caught.  "Did you really say that to him?"

                "Yeah," he laughed.  "He didn't seem impressed.

                I grinned at him.  "And is there a reason why you're afraid that your dick wouldn't work?  Maybe there's someone that you are trying to impress?"

                "Maybe."  He moved closer towards me.

                Just as we were about to kiss, he jumped off the bed and hurried towards the door, leaving me confused and disappointed.  When he returned, I gave him a confused look.

                "We've been interrupted enough," he breathed against my lips.

                I shuddered.  "Tate..."

                Without warning, he crashed his lips on to mine.  They felt cold like the rest of him, but as he moved against me, I could feel his passion burning through my entire body.

                When we broke away, I knew that my face must've been flushed red.  "I-I'm sorry.  I've never done this before," I breathed out.

                His fingers raked through my hair.  "Sh...  You were great.  I've wanted to do that for a while now."

                I swallowed.  "Me, too."

                "Want to do it, again?"

                That night, instead of laying down side by side, I was pressed close against his chest.  I was far too comfortable being in his arms.  If I were to die, now, I'd die happy.  Tate...  Tate made me happy.  He made me feel complete.

...

 

                "Madison, please have a seat."  I made my way to the plush couch and looked warily at him.  "May I call you Madi?"

                I nodded.

                "I hope you're doing better," he said on his wheelie chair.  "Since this is only our first session together, let's just start off with introductions and anything that you want to talk about; anything that's on your mind."

                "I don't really have anything to say."  I laid down and closed my eyes.  This was a really comfortable couch.

                "Dr. White told me that you've been taking college-level courses online."  There was a sound of shuffling papers.  "That's very impressive for a sixteen year old.  What are you learning?"

                "It doesn't matter."

                "Why not?"

                I frowned at his persistence.  "Because it's not going to lead anywhere.  Nothing is waiting for me.  I have no future."  But as long as I was with Tate, I wouldn't mind.  The question was, would he be tired of a blind girl like me? 

                "Madi, of course you have a future.  There are many successful people who are blind - Joseph Pulitzer, Helen Keller, Andrea Bocelli...  There is such a wide range of things that you can do."  I shook my head.  I didn't have any goals or dreams like them.  "Perhaps you'll even be a pioneer of something even more spectacular."

                I frown ed.  There was a sort of excitement in his voice that I didn't understand.

                "Has your vision been improving?"

                I opened my eyes and looked towards him.  "What do you mean?  Is my vision supposed to change?  I can be better?"

                He wheeled his chair closer to me.  "Of course.  This is why you're here."

                "I thought I was here for my psychological state."  If that wasn't it, then what was it?

                "Our therapeutic centre is different.  We try to help our patients regain their vision."  He crossed his legs.  "So, has your vision been better?"

                I bit my lips.  There had only been two instances where I thought that I was dreaming wide awake.  Both of them happened when the rubber man was present.  Why?

                "Madi?"  He snapped me out of my thoughts.

                I briefly debated whether to tell him or not.  How was I going to explain about the situation?  "I've seen some colour, but it was very brief.  This...  This man also stood out.  I was able to actually see him - every detail in his eyes and outfit.  I thought it was a dream or just my imagination, but the second time we met, it was the same."

                Dr. Henderson patted my hand.  "That's good.  It means that you're getting better."

                "Will it happen with other people, too?  Will I be able to see them properly?"  In my excitement, I had forgotten the motion that the doctor may have a hidden agenda.

                "Yes, that is our goal," he told me.  "Tell me if you see anymore improvements.  We'll adjust your medication accordingly."

                After my visit with the doctor, I was taken out to eat with my parents.  Violet was actually at school today, so she was absent.  She probably wouldn't have enjoyed this, anyway.

                Both my mom and Ben took this opportunity to grill me on what happened during my session.  I knew that they must've had a reason for going out to eat, especially together, but then again...  What did I do?  Mom was knocked up with his baby.

                I told them that it was good and that we just talked about my life in LA.  I skipped over how my vision may actually be returning.  I didn't want to give them false hope, especially when the family situation was so fragile.

                They also wanted me to go to other places because of how often I was stuck in my room.  During the entire ordeal, all I could think about was meeting Tate in my room.  Unfortunately, as we returned home, mom made sure that I wasn't going to go back on my word.  And so, for the next three hours, I listened to the mindless chatter of a sitcom.  I had no idea what was going on and the constant laughter from the live studio audience irked me.  Mom, however, seemed to enjoy it, so I appeased her by enduring it.

                I didn't know when, but at one point.  I fell asleep with my head resting on the arm of the couch.  Neither of my parents brought me to my room, so when I felt a hand trail down the side of my body, I thought it was Tate.  When I tried to turn to him, however, I fell off the couch.  This immediately woke me up and I groaned in pain.

                I blinked my eyes to rid myself of any lingering grogginess.  When I saw colour, dread filled me.  There was only one person that made me react this way - the rubber man.

                His black suited legs were right in front of me.  "No - "  His hand clasped around my mouth, muffling the cry.  I knew that in the moment of dire, I had promised him anything, but seeing him now, I was frightened and confused.  I didn't understand why it was only him who I can see clearly; I didn't understand who he was nor why he was doing this; and I didn't understand why I wasn't struggling more.

                He began to drag me towards the basement - the one place Tate told me to never go.  When he opened the door, it was pitch black and he didn't bother to turn on the lights.  Instead of having my body thump painfully down the steps, he had the decency to sling me over his shoulder.  I watched as the door closed by itself.  How?  There wasn't an iota of draft in here.

                When he stopped, he placed me down on to the cold concrete floor.  I stared fearfully up at him.  He stood motionlessly as I waited for him to do something.  "Who are you?"  I knew that I wasn't going to get a reply, but I was hoping to get lucky, one day.

                He crouched down and stroked my cheek with the back of his hand.  I cringed back and whimpered.  His hand trailed down my neck and down the side of my breasts where he lingered before stopping at the hem of my shirt.  "Why?"

                Instead of stopping at the shirt, however, he slipped his hand up my skirt and rubbed the cotton fabric of my panties.  I tried to squeeze my legs shut, but he nudged them back open and knelt between them.

                "Stop," I panted.  The familiar feeling of hot liquid pleasure was pooling between my legs.  I didn't have to look down to know that my panties were completely soaked.  Why was my body responding this way?  The only person I wanted was Tate!  Tate!  Tate!  Tate!!!

                The rubber man retracted his hand before tearing my panties off.  The soft material ripped as easily as paper.  My skirt flew off after and I was left completely defenseless in front of him.

                He unzipped the area around his crotch and his cock bounced out.  He was hovering over me with one hand on himself, stroking it absentmindedly as he looked at me.  I swallowed hard and braced myself as he began too guide himself to my nether lips, sliding along the slit.  He began to rub against my slit, causing my hip to instinctively buck.  I gritted my teeth to keep myself from crying out.  I shouldn't give in.  I'd be betraying Tate. 

                The rubber man entered me in one smooth thrust.  The feel of him inside me nearly brought me to the edge.  I couldn't stop the moans and sighs as he began to trust in and out.

                Not long after, I clenched my eyes shut and came, but he continued to move inside me.  In my mind, I imagined someone else inside me, instead, and when I came a second time, I screamed, "TATE!!!"

                I heard grunts emitting from him.  This was the first time I had heard him utter any sound, at all, but I couldn't focus long enough to identify it as I rode out the rest of my orgasm.  Several more thrusts and he held still inside me as he came.  I shuddered.  What if I became pregnant?  What if Tate found out?  I didn't want him to leave me.  What if...  What if...?

                I passed out.

...

 

                Tate groaned and laid on top of her briefly before moving away.  He unzipped the mask and pulled it off.  Worry filled him.  She had cried out his name.  Did she know that it was him?  He grabbed his hair and began to bang his head against the wall.  Idiot.  Idiot.  Idiot.

                Once his fit was over, he stared at her body.  It would look suspicious if he moved her body, but it would also look suspicious if he didn't.  He also didn't have the heart to leave her slumped against the cold wall.  He took off the rubber suit.

                When he placed her on the bed, he contemplated leaving so that it seemed as if he was never there in the first place.  He stood at the side of the bed for at least half an hour before slipping in with her.  He couldn't stay away.  He was addicted. 

                Subconsciously, her body rolled towards him and he was now faced with the problem of one naked leg hooked around his hip.  He swallowed hard.  The pants were already growing extremely uncomfortable.  Dying had made him absolutely insatiable. 

                Taking several deep breaths and imagining his cock sucking mother and the cheating bastard, the erection died enough for him to keep himself from raping her once more.

                For the rest of the night, he went over what he was going to say to her over and over and over again.

Chapter Text

                I woke up feeling delectably warm and comfortable.  A smile made its way to my face when I knew it was Tate's sweater I was cuddling against.

                "'Morning," he murmured, tightening his arms around me.

                I sighed happily and snuggled closer.  "Good morning."  Indeed it was.  I would never leave here willingly.

                "I'd love to stay like this with you forever, but..."  He paused and sounded embarrassed as he continued.  "You're not wearing pants and I have a bit of a problem..."

                My mind blanked when he said that I wasn't wearing pants.  Why wasn't I wearing them?  When did I take them off?

                As I shifted my position, the soreness between my legs brought back the memories of last night.  Fear jarred me.  "H-How did I get into my room?"  Didn't he leave me in the basement?

                "I found you just outside in the hall.  I was worried when you didn't come in."  He stroked the bare skin of my lower back.  "Did...  Did something happen?"

                I couldn't look at him as what happened last night played out in my head over and over again.  I felt as if I cheated on him.  "Tate...  Promise me that you would never leave me - no matter what."

                "I promise," he stated with no hesitation.  "I would never, ever leave you."  He kissed the top of my head.

                He was too good to me.  The guilt was going to eat me alive.  Did I dare tell him that I actually...  liked what the rubber man did to me?  What if he breaks his promise?  I wouldn't even be able to blame Tate for leaving me.

                My heart raced as I tried to form some kind of coherent explanation for him in my head.  "There's this man who always appears in this house at night - usually when I'm alone," I whispered.  "I-I don't know who he is, but...  He's raped me."  Tears began to well in my eyes.  "And...  And I didn't want to, but I liked it.  Tate...  I liked it.  I'm a whore...  A slut...  A no g-good..."  I sobbed as the gravity of the situation finally set in.

                As I shook and cried, Tate hadn't said a single word.  I was afraid that this was it.  I was going to lose him forever.

                Gathering up my courage, I looked up at him.  I couldn't see his expression, so I waited with bated breath.  "Tate...?"  For a second, his visage was completely clear to me.  His chocolate brown eyes were rimmed with red.  He had a frown on his face that set his beautiful lips into a firm line.  Just as quickly, when I blinked, he was but a grey shadow, once more.  "A-Are you angry with me...?"

                He fervently shook his head and his grip on me tightened almost to the point of being painful.  "No.  No.  No.  No," he chanted and buried his face into my hair.  "Not your fault."  He took a long moment to calm down.  "I would never leave you, Madi.  I love you.  I love you."

                His words made my lips tremble and I burst out crying, again.  I felt as if I didn't deserve his love.

                "I love you, too, Tate," I wailed.  He was too good for me.

                The rest of the morning seemed insignificant.  Mom had left and Violet was at school.  Dad was actually supposed to be seeing Tate in half an hour, so he had disappeared to make himself more presentable and to enter through the front door instead of leaving from his daughter's room.  That would've been an interesting sight.

                When I went downstairs, instead of finding Tate, I heard a banshee screaming for mom.  I could recognise that voice anywhere. 

                As I turned the corner, I could see her form storming towards me.  "What are you doing here?" I growled at her.  I was not in a particularly good mood and there was so much pent up hatred and anger inside me.

                From the corner of my eyes, I could see Ben approach us.  "Madi, go back to your room."

                I snarled at him.  "Why?  So you could fuck her in our new house?  Did you want to christen it with this whore?  Wasn't abandoning us to go to Boston enough?!"

                "I'm not a whore!" she shrieked.  "I fucking matter!"

                "Of course, you do," I sneered.  "If you didn't, you wouldn't have to scream it for everyone to hear...  Oh, wait..."

                Hayden let out a wild cry and tackled me to the hardwood floor.

                I cursed and tried to push her off me.  "Get your crazy bitch away from me!" I screamed at the useless father when I noticed that he was standing motionlessly by the arch.

                He snapped out of whatever he was in and pried the deranged woman off me. "Hayden.  Hayden.  Shh..."  He tried to calm her down. "I'm sorry, alright?  We'll go eat steak.  We'll go, now."

                I glared at him.  That cheating no good bastard.  "Take your STDs away from here."  With that, I stomped upstairs in a fit of rage.  I slammed the door shut, collapsed on to my bed and screamed into the pillow.

                Just when I finally found one shred of happiness, he goes off and tries to fuck everything up, again!  Wasn't it bad enough that he went back to Boston for her?  Now, he was taking her on dates in LA!  How could he do that to mom who had been nothing but lenient with him - so much more than he ever deserved!

                After my tantrum was over, I decided on a warm bath to relieve the tension and soreness in my body.  The soft pressure enveloping me had to be one of the most relaxing feelings - second only to being in bed wrapped in Tate's arms.  I smiled.  I wonder where he went.  The crazy bitch ruined his session, which I'm sure he was more than happy about.

                Aren't you happy here?  Don't you want to stay here forever?

                Yeah.  This was wonderful.  I don't ever want to deal with any of them.  I just want to stay here with him.

                Forever.

                I smiled.  Forever.

                A hand reached into the water and tilted my chin upward.

                "Don't die.  Don't die!"

                Two arms lifted me up and dragged my body to the cold tiled floor.

                "Madi, don't leave me!"

                I choked out a mouthful of water before slowly opening my eyes.  "T-Tate...?"

                "Madi!" he sobbed and held me close to him, rocking back and forth.  "I was so scared.  You can't die!  You can't!"

                Blindly groping for the back of his head, I managed to bring him even closer to me.  What happened?  One moment I was flying so high and the next, I nearly died.

                "I'm okay.  I'm okay," I mumbled into his neck.  I could still feel him shaking, or was that me?

                "Why?" he whimpered.  "Why would you do this to me?"

                I shook my head.  "No...  No, I would never...  I would never want to leave you.  I don't know what happened."  I was still breathing heavily as I tried to explain something that I didn't understand.  "I guess...  I guess I might've accidentally dozed off..."  It slowly dawned on me that I was so close to losing everything.  Even with Ben's infidelity, I still had Tate...  As long as I had him, I'd be alright.

                We stayed in the same position until I began to shiver from the cold.  He gathered me up in a large towel and carried me into my room.  Gently, he sat me on the edge of the bed and wiped me down.  I stared at my lap, not knowing what to say to him.

                When he finished with my hair, he knelt down and pressed his forehead against my knee.  His shoulders shook and he cried.  As he did, I could feel my own tears returning.

                "I almost lost you." he whispered.  "Why...?"  His voice trembled.

                "I'm sorry.  I'm so, so sorry," I sobbed.  "I don't know what happened.  I was careless."

                "Did you want to leave me?  Did you?!" he shouted.

                I jumped at the sudden change in demeanor.  "No!  You know that I would never willingly leave you!  I don't know..  I don't…"

                He stood up abruptly and pushed me down.  He hovered over me and I could feel his tears fall on to my face.  "I love you.  I love you…"  His lips crashed down on mine in desperation.

                I let out a cry of surprise at how aggressive he was, but soon, I bit and sucked his lips with the same passion.  "I – I love you, too," I panted as we briefly separated before he consumed me once more.

                His hands were everywhere.  I moaned and arched against him.  He was crazy to think that I would ever give this up for anything. 

                He hastily took off his shirt as I worked on unbuttoning his pants.  The articles of clothing disappeared somewhere in my room.

                I whimpered as he wrapped his lips around a perky nipple.  "Tate!"  My vision began to flicker from colour to black and white.  I clenched my eyes shut and tried to focus on the sensation of Tate, but when I opened my eyes again, the flickering was making me nauseated.  I held it back as long as I could, but not long after, I pushed him away and emptied my stomach on to the hardwood floor.

                Hands grabbed at my hair and held the tendrils away from the filth.  "I'm sorry.  I'm sorry," I heard Tate cry out as if it was his fault.

                I sagged against him.  "I don't know what's wrong with me."  My vision was still completely distorted.  "Just hold me, Tate."

                He complied, slowly laying me down.  As he got up, I looked at him curiously.  He disappeared out the door for a short moment and returned to clean the mess that I had made.

                When my heart stopped racing, my vision slowly became encased by the fog, once more.

                Tate slipped into bed and wrapped his arms around me.

                "Sorry," I quietly apologised.  "I didn't mean to ruin the mood."

                "No, it's my fault," he mumbled.  "It was a bad time.

                I shook my head fervently against him.  "I wanted it, too.  It's just that…  my eyes were going crazy.  I thought I was going to pass out."  I snuggled closer.  "I'll probably have to ask Henderson about it."

                When mom came home from grocery shopping, I noticed that Ben was working on the lawn.  What was he doing?  Where did the crazy bitch go?

                "How was your day, honey?"

                I stared blankly at her and shrugged.  What was I to say?  Ben brought the home-wrecker here.  She attacked me.  I nearly drowned myself in the bathtub.  I nearly had sex with Tate, but then I puked everywhere instead.  "Wonderful, mom."  Idiot.

                Without giving her another chance to speak, I disappeared upstairs and bumped into my sister.  "Hey, Violet.  When did you get home?"  It felt like forever since I had spoken to her.

                "I know about him," she said.  "They're going to kill you if they find out."

                I pursed my lips.  "What do you want, Violet?"

                "Cover for me when I need you to."

                "You can't keep skipping school," I sighed.  "You only have a few years left, then you'd be free to do whatever you want."

                She took my hand and dragged my into my room – somewhere that I had never been to before.  It was dark and I could tell that there were numerous objects scattered around the floor.  "You don't understand!  I don't get along with anyone.  I get into trouble because those assholes won't leave me alone!"

                I frowned.  "Does mom know?  About the bullying, I mean."

                She shrugged.  "I think she knows a lot.  She just doesn't want to do anything about it."  I couldn't help, but agree with her.  Mom seemed to like going with the philosophy of "ignorance is bliss."

                Talking to Violet, I realised how much I actually enjoyed her company.  I remembered a time when we were like best friends, but somewhere along the way, our interests clashed and we grew distant.  My blindness tore us apart further, as did Ben's infidelity.

                Tate was sitting on Madi's bed when the door opened and he looked eagerly at the door like a puppy.  He had become far too attached.  She was only supposed to be a way for him to satisfy his needs.

                "What are you doing here?" demanded a shorter girl.  Violet – Madi's little sister.

                Tate smiled at her, trying to look uncertain.  "Sorry.  Go lost.  I was looking for the bathroom."

                The blonde didn't believe him.  Smart girl.  "I won't' tell on you if you help me with something."  And rather devious.

                That was when he spent the next half an hour listening to the girl's problem.  He quickly devised a plan that would keep the Leah girl from bothering her again.  He made Violet also promise that she wouldn't tell Madi whatever he was going to do.  The girl didn't seem interested in the details and quickly complied.

                When she left, he heard her speak with Madi before their voices disappeared into the girl's room.  He made himself invisible and appeared in the dark room.  He had been here several times before, all of which was before he had met his Madi.  At first, he thought that Violet was perfect for him.  They had the same interests and habits, but when he set his eyes on the older sibling, it was as if she had put a leach on him.  They always said that opposites attract and he always thought that it was bullshit… until now.  She was everything that he wasn't – studious, kind, by the books.

                Before he died, he absolutely hated people like her.  They were the annoying teacher's pets who would remind them that they had forgotten about homework or wondered when the next pop quiz was going to be.  They were also always into the mainstream shit that irritated him.

                He growled and glared at the side of Madi's head, but almost instantly, his gaze softened.  He could never bring himself to hate her.  She was perfect.  She was perfect for him.  She was his.  But what was he going to do?  If she stayed in this house, the other spirits were bound to get her killed and she'd be cursed to stay in this house…  But she'd be his forever.

                His mind was a raging war of what's right and wrong.  Why did it have to be like this?

                In his frustration, he threw a nearly mug against the wall startling both of the girls.  He left before they could suspect that anything was suspicious.

                Once he returned to Madi's room, he burrowed his face into her pillow.  He loved the scent of her.  He also loved the way her hair becomes a sexy mess in the morning.

                God, he loved her.  He wanted her to stay with him forever, but what was he going to do?  What was he going to do?  Maybe if he was able to keep her in the house as long as he could.  He'd need to find something that would keep her here.  He had several ideas, but none of them were guarantees.

                He gritted his teeth and tugged harshly at his hair.

                The anger and frustration dissipated when the door opened, revealing his beautiful Madi.  He smiled.  His.

Chapter Text

                I went downstairs one day to hear that mom wanted to sell the house.  My immediate reaction was to stop her.  If I moved, IU wouldn't be able to see Tate.  No matter what I said, however, she was convinced that this house was dangerous.  She had already spoken to the realtor – Marcy.  People called "fluffers" were going to come and make our house more sellable.

                I asked what was wrong with it and that was when I learned that people called this the Murder House.  Many people had died here, usually by murder-suicides.  It all started with the original owners – Nora and Charles Montgomery.  Their son had been kidnapped, killed, dismembered, and sent back to them in jars.  Their mental stability went down from there and it was completely understandable.  Why would anyone do that to an innocent child?

                After the conversation with mom, I went on to my laptop and searched up the history of the house.  I listened to the robotic voice retelling me the story of the original owners.  I also went through a rumour about how a young woman had gone into the house at a friend's recommendation, but was never heard from again.  It sounded cliché, so I quickly moved on.  The next one was about two nurses who had been killed by a psychopathic man named R. Franklin.  The story sounded familiar.  It was chilling to think that the three people who had invaded our house was going to re-enact what happened.  As I was going to listen to the next tale, Tate climbed in through the window.

                I put the laptop to sleep and smiled at him.  He greeted me with a kiss, which I happily returned.

                I settled my head on his stomach and curled up against him.  With his hand raking soothingly through my hair, I told him about my dilemma.  His hand stilled.

                "I don't want you to leave," he said.  His fingers were slowly clenching in my hair.  "You can't leave."  I winced as it felt as if he was going to pull my hair out.  He seemed to snap out of whatever he was in and relaxed his hand once more to stroke through my hair.  I sighed and nuzzled his shirt.

                "I love you," I murmured.

                He gathered me in his arms so that my head was right under his chin.  "I love you, too."

                Just as I was about to doze off, he asked, "Are you doing anything on Hallowe'en?"

                I shrugged.  "Depends," I responded, coyly.  "Why?"

                "Do you want to go out with me?  We can go to the beach or trick – or – treating…"

                I smiled.  "I'd love that."

                A few days before Hallowe'en, Violet had come to me with a fearful tone in her voice.  She pulled me into her room and locked the door.

                "Violet, what's going on?"  The abrupt movements had left me slightly disoriented.  "Are you alright?"

                She was panting.  Clearly, something had frightened her.  "I – I don't know what happened!" she exclaimed.  "I told Tate about Leah and how she was bullying me.  He said that he'd deal with it if I brought her to the basement."  I frowned.  What was in the basement that Tate made me promise to stay away from?  Was it the rubber man?  Did he live there?  Did Tate actually know him?  What was going on?  "He…  He went crazy!  He was laughing and shaking his head like he was possessed or something.  The lights were going on and off.  There – There was this person who attacked Leah!  I- I've never seen him before.  He was deformed and hideous!"

                No, that didn't sound like the rubber man – at least not while he had the suit on, but who was it?  Tate knew that he was there.  How many other people were living in our house?!

                "Violet, don't ever go back to the basement," I told her.  "I'll…  I'll talk to Ta – "

                "No!" she cut me off.  "I promised him that I wouldn't tell you."  I could tell that she was genuinely concerned that Tate would do something to her, but I was convinced otherwise.  He would never hurt anyone, especially the people I love.

                I quickly assured her that everything was going to be fine, to not tell our parents, and to stay away from the basement and Tate.

                I'd have to figure out a way to approach that subject.

                Unfortunately, as I was awaiting Tate's arrival, mom had called me down to meet the two fluffers.  They were both male and they didn't seem to get along.  Chad was quite talkative – quick to give his opinion, but also rather condescending.  Patrick, however, was the complete opposite.  He was silent for the most part and didn't move around much, unless it was needed.

                After greeting them, Chad gave me an odd encrypted message that I didn't understand.  He mentioned something about loving monsters.  I gave him an uncomfortable and confused smile before excusing myself.

                Just when I thought that I was free to go, I bumped into Patrick who must've slipped away when I wasn't paying attention.  Ben was behind him and my father sounded rather odd when he beckoned me to my room.  I did so without complaint.

                In my room, Tate was already waiting for me.  I smiled and jumped into bed – immediately being enveloped in his arms.  "The fluffers are weird," I mumbled against his lips.

                He knead my waist and groaned.  "Those guys are idiots."

                "You know them?"

                He shrugged.  "This house has always had trouble selling an they're always the ones coming."

                "Oh…  I – What are we going to do if I have to move?"  I asked him.  "I know that mom's been afraid since the intruders and…  and I guess it'll be good for Violet to get away from the bullying…"  I bit my lips, wondering if that was to obvious.

                "You shouldn't be too worried about her," he muttered.  "Bullies always get what's coming for them."  There was something dark and ominous about his words that sent fearful shivers down my spine.  "Madi, I won't let them take you away from me.  Not ever."

                I laid my head comfortably on his chest, but I couldn't help feeling dread tugging at my stomach.  He hadn't confirmed what Violet had said, but it seemed as if Violet had indeed been telling the truth or…  Some form of the truth that she believed happened.

                As I continued to ponder, the sinking feeling was beginning to overwhelm me.  At one point, I excused myself to go to the bathroom where I lost my lunch.  What was I going to do?  I told him that I would only judge people by the way that they treat me, but what occurred had frightened Violet and I had never seen her like that.

                "Madi, are you okay?"

                "Tate, what are you doing here?  What if someone see –"

                "I was careful and you've been here for a while, so I was worried…"

                I cursed myself for my weak resolves as I flushed the toilet and sank into his arms.

                "Also wanted to ask if…  If you wanted to go out with me on Hallowe'en."  I could hear the uncertainty in his voice.  He was also ruffling his hair, something that he only did when he was nervous or embarrassed.

                I kissed him on the cheek.  "I'd love to." 

                I'm such an idiot.

                Bang!

                I jumped and twirled around.  No one was supposed to be in the house, except me.

                Quick footsteps streaked down the hall.  I felt my heart race.  Did the intruders return?  Were they new ones?

                I groped around for the metal bat that was always under my bed.  If only Tate was here, right now.  He'd know what to do.

                As I was reaching for the door, it burst opened and I swung.

                "I'm so sorry, Addie,"  I apologised profusely as I rubbed at the enormous bruise on her arm.  "I thought you were a robber or something."

                She nonchalantly waved it off.  "Don't worry.  It's just a bruise."

                "But I could've really hurt you."  I slathered some ointment on to the discoloured skin.  "What are you doing here?  And how did you get in?"  I knew for a fact that all the windows and doors were locked, except for the one in my room.

                "I was playing with my friends," she told me.

                I frowned.  "What do you mean?  I'm the only one in the house, unless you mean me, then…  I don't mind you coming over if you just gave me a bit of a warning first."

                "She shrugged before laughing at something.

                "Is there…  Is there someone in the room with me?" I asked her.  There were so many mysteries in this house.  I wouldn't be surprised if there were ghosts, especially since so many people have died here.

                Addie didn't reply, so I decided to move on to another topic.  Her presence and silence unnerved me.  "Are you doing anything for Hallowe'en?" I blurted out.

                "Yeah!" she exclaimed.  "I want to be a pretty girl – like the one in those magazines."

                I blinked.  "Addie, does that mean that you won't be dressing up?  You're beautiful."

                "You're blind.  You can't even see me," she snorted.

                "Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder," I told her with a smile.  "And my eyes say you're beautiful.  Besides, it's what's inside that matters."

                "You sound like those stupid motivational posters."

                I laughed.  Her bluntness was an odd breath of fresh air.  "Yes, well…  It doesn't make it any less true."

                "I should go before your mom's home and tells me mom," she said, standing up.  "Can I visit you, Madi?  It's kind of lonely in the house.  Mom always has a guy over."

                That was a bit too much information for me.  "Of course, Addie."

                "Hey!  Our name's rhyme!"

                I laughed, again, and she joined in.  "We can be twinnies," I told her.  "Violet and I don't talk much, so you can come over any time you want – before dinner," I added, thinking about how Tate usually occupied my time in the evenings.

                "Okay!" 

                After Addie left, I found Tate on my bed when I re-entered my room.  "Where were you?  Your sister was just here."

                "Was getting these for you."  He retrieved something from the other side of the bed and thrust it at my face.

                It was a small bouquet of flowers.  I smiled.  "Is this from our garden?"

                He ruffled his hair.  "Yeah…  But if you're gonna have people fluffing the house, they can replace them later."

                I kissed him.  "Thanks, Tate."  This was the first time that I had received flowers, even if they belonged to us in the beginning.

                We fooled around for a while before I had to go back to studying.  There was a midterm just before Hallowe'en and I really wanted to do well on it.

                The days closing in on Hallowe'en was hectic.  I was juggling studying, sessions with Henderson, and spending time with Tate.  Addie was also visiting more frequently.  No matter how much I wanted to get to know her, I had to cram the last new chapters in.  Most of the time, however, she was quite content with just spending time in the basement.

                I had opened the door to check on her once and she was talking to herself – or some imaginary person.  Afraid for her sanity, I decided to take her out for ice cream.  There was a quaint little parlour nearby that was usually relatively vacant, so we spent the majority of the afternoon there.

                When I asked what she did in the basement, she told me of twin boys who usually played with her.  Further inquiry brought on the topic of ghosts.  She mentioned several more and when I asked about the rubber man, she clammed up.

                She knew something about the mysterious stranger, but something was stropping her from telling me.  I changed the subject and asked her about her mother, instead.  This brought on a nonchalant tale of what the annoying neighbour had been up to.  Apparently, she was keeping a young, wannabe male model.  Addie seemed to have a particular liking towards him as well, but perhaps in a more…  sexual -casual way.

                As her recount of her mother's sexcapade came to an end, I questioned her about Tate.  Addie was not too enthusiastic to talk about her brother.  She told me vague happenings of what he did when he was home, which mainly consisted of staying in his room and nothing else.  I asked her if he had other friends or if he had a favourite place to be, but she brushed both questions off by saying that I was all he needed.

                The egotistic part of me bristled with job, but the rational side of me was skeptical.  Everyone seemed so secretive.  What were they hiding and why?

                After we departed, we both went home.  I noticed that the fluffers were here, again.  Chad invited me to help him despite the fact that I was blind.  I gave him colour scheme suggestions and different Hallowe'en-themed objects that I liked.  Some he agreed with, while others he vehemently rejected.

                By the end of the day, he promised me a costume to wear for the thirty first of October.  When I asked what it was going to be, he promised that it would look good and that was it.

                I went up to my room felling completely befuddled at what had gone on.  When I saw Tate situated on my bed, I happily welcomed the stability that he provided.

                Tate watched the brunette girl snuggle against him, completely oblivious to what was occurring in the house.  He had been watching her converse with the fairy.  He was furious.  He knew what Chad wanted to do, but that man was never going to tear them apart.  Madi was his.  No one was going to take her away from him.

                He stroked the bare flesh of her waist and felt himself harden.  It had been far too long since he had buried himself inside her.  She was his new addiction – much better than weed or cocaine.

                Breathing in her scent was like a de-stressor.  He would hold her forever if he wasn't worried about her becoming more suspicious than she already was. 

                He'd need to do something about that.  Perhaps a little warning for the resident gay couple…

                "Mmm…  Tate…"  He looked down and upon seeing the smile on his Madi's lips, his mood lightened.  His.

                He'd think of something later…

Chapter Text

                "How do you think you did, honey?" mom asked me when I got into the car.

                "Good."  I had just spent the last two and a half hours in the examination room.  The tension was high and the pressure was ready to tear me apart.  It was more difficult than I thought, but I was nearly certain that I had at least passed.

                "Do you want to go get some ice cream before we go to Dr. Henderson's?"

                I shook my head.  I wanted to get it over with and I also had quite a few questions for him.

                Disheartened, mom drove me to his office where he immediately let me in.  He asked me several routine questions about my day and how I was feeling.  He also asked if I was doing anything for Hallowe'en.  I answered everything accordingly.  As we continued to converse, he sounded more and more excited.  I wanted to ask him about it, but he quickly thrust a couple bottles of pills into my hands, told me to take how much of each, and ushered me away.

                I left frustrated and confused.  He hadn't elaborated on my vision and focused mainly on small talk.  How was that any help for me?

                With a huff of annoyance, I tried to push away my foul mood.  Exams are over.  Relax.  Relax…

                When mom and I arrived home, Addie was outside in the garden.  She was silently standing there.  When mom asked why she was at our house, again, Addie said that she wanted to play with me.

                Mom was a bit reluctant, but I waved her off as we made our way to my room.  Tate was already there and he was surprised to see his sister behind me.

                "Can you put make up on me, Madi?" Addie asked as she plopped down on my office chair, completely nonchalant about his brother being in the room.

                I scratched my head.  "I can't really see.  I might poke your eyes out."

                She waved her hand dismissively at me.  "I'll just close my eyes."

                I shot Tate a wary look, but he only shrugged back at me.

                Taking out my small make up bag, I groped around for the eyeliners and lipstick.

                "Can I use this, too?"  She held out a few products and I held them in my hands to figure out what they were – foundation, blush , and mascara.  I've never really used them since mom had given them to me for my birthday a few years ago.

                "Sure," I replied.  "But I'm not very good with them.  I might need to have Tate help me."

                She didn't mind, so I started my work.  Several times, I did manage to poke her in the eye, but she was very good natured about it.  When it came to the blush, I had to ask Tate to help me blend it out.  He also helped with the mascara.  It was amusing listening to him pout over it.

                Once it was done, I rewarded him with a  quick peck on the lips when Addie voiced her pleasure.

                "I think you have a future in the makeup industry, Mr. Landon."  I grinned at him.

                He held me close before whispering into my ears.  "Just Tate.  My father was an asshole."

                "Sorry," I murmured and tried to console him with my kisses.  It worked well until I remembered that Addie was still in the room.  The girl stayed silent the entire time, presumably watching us.  It was just a tad eerie.

                Tate must've noticed how uncomfortable I was because he urged his sister to go back home.

                As she was leaving, I took her hands into mine.  "Remember that you are beautiful, Addie.  You don't need all that makeup or a mask.  All you need to do is believe in yourself."

                "I know.  I know."  I could practically hear her rolling her eyes.  "Don't worry, I'm a big girl, now."

                I smiled.  "I'll see you tomorrow, then?"  I had an idea and I hoped that it was going to turn out as planned.  "Meet me in the garden at three.  I have something for you."

                She shrugged and agreed to comply.

                When she left, I headed up to my room with a large smile on my face.

                "What's got you so happy?" he asked while playing on my laptop.

                "Addie's confidence has been rather low, so I thought that I'd buy her a sexy costume, tomorrow.  Hopefully your mom isn't going to kill me."

                He laughed.  "She might rip it off Addie, though.  Mom is always jealous.  She'd never allow anyone to look prettier than her."  He trailed kisses down my neck.  "That's why I don't want you alone with her.  You don't know what she's capable of."

                I relaxed in his arms and pulled his face up for a proper kiss.  "I promise."

                He ran a finger down the side of my ribs, drawing a small bout of giggles from me.  "Stop that."

                He only took it as incentive to continue until his hand trailed lower before settling at the hem of my trousers.

                "Please," I whispered, bucking my hips.

                He needed no more to rip the fabric off me.  I moaned as he buried his face into my panties.

                "W-wait!" I panted, trying to squirm away.  "I have to wash first."

                He growled and removed the last piece of clothing to my nether region.  "I don't care."

                I shrieked and quickly covered my mouth when I felt his tongue flick the sensitive bundle of nerves.  "Tate…  People are going to hear!"

                "You should keep quiet, then."  For a second, I saw him shoot me a look from between my legs.  I moaned before retrieving a pillow to cover my face.  How was I going to stay silent when he was doing something like that.

                After a minute, the pillow was lifted off me and I started into two dark orbs that were staring at me with desire.  They were eyes that haunted me in my dreams.  "T-Tate…"

                I didn't have time to say anymore when he pulled my blouse off me and ripped the bra away.  His lips were immediately on my right nipple.  "Tate!"

                He growled again and pressed my panties against my lips.  I stared at him with wide eyes, but slowly opened my mouth as the cloth was stuffed inside.  I closed my eyes when he slipped a finger between my glistening slit.

                "I love you, Madi," he murmured into my ears as he began to hastily take off his pants.  I helped him with the shirt and when he was completely naked, he positioned himself at my entrance.

                The feel of his cock sliding and hitting my clit nearly sent me over the edge.

                I bucked my hips for him to hurry up.  He grinned back at me.  "Are you sure you want this?  I can't stop once I start."

                I glared at him and bucked my hips, again.

                His grin widened before he took out the gage and pressed his lips against mine.  "I love you so much, Madi.  So much."

                "I love you, too," I gasped when the tip of his member popped in.  He felt so good.

                "Fuck," he groaned.  "You're so tight."

                Inch by inch, he sheathed himself into me.  I hooked my legs around his waist as he began to move.  "Tate…" I moaned.  The jolts of pleasure that hit me was overwhelming.  "Tate.  Tate.  Tate!"  I was so close.  "Please…  I – I'm coming!"

                He panted and moved his hand to my clit.  He rubbed circles around the sensitive bud.  In a second, I was undone.  He pressed his lips against mine to swallow the scream that would've ruined our night.

                As his cock jerked inside me, I shivered at the feeling of the spurts of seed filling me.  Instead of pulling out, he lifted out bodies to the side, so that we remained connected.

                "Mmm…" I sighed happily.  "I love you, Tate.  Can we do that, again?"

                He laughed.  "Yeah…  If you'll give me a little break, we can try something new."

                I snuggled against him, excited about the rest of the night.

~*~

                "'Morning," Chad greeted me as I walked down the stairs.

                Since last night, I had been able to see more.  Chad's face was completely clear to me.  "Good morning."

                He turned to me with a smile on his face and a dark look in his eyes.  "I got you presents.  The white one is yours and the black one is for your boyfriend."

                I took the boxes with uncertainty.  "Thank you."  What were these for?  "Should I open them now?"

                He waved a hand at me.  "Just the white one."

                I put the two boxes down on the table and slid the lid off.  Inside was a beautiful white dress and small, feathered wings.  "Oh, they're beautiful."  I said as I took the dress out of the box.

                "Go, try it on."

                I scurried to my room with the items in my hand and quickly put everything on.

                "Do you need help with the zipper?" Tate lazily asked from the windowsill.

                I moved my hair to the side and wiggled my hips at him.

                He chuckled.  As he touched me, I shivered, thinking about last night.  "You look beautiful, Madi," he whispered.  His hands were all over me.  "But I think you look even better without it."

                I twirled around to capture his lips with mine.

                "Madi, I'm going to rip it off you if you don't stop," he groaned as I trailed butterfly kisses down the side of his neck.

                I sighed in disappointment.  "There's a box for you, too.  Chad just gave these to me.  I should probably go downstairs before he gets any ideas."  I walked over to him and pecked his lips one more time.  "Come by the front door in fifteen minutes.  I'm…  going to tell mom about you or she won't let me go out, thinking that I'd be alone.  Just don't let Ben see you.  I want this day to be perfect."

                His eyes darkened.  "I'm not going to let anyone take you away from me, Madi."

                "And I won't ever leave you, Tate," I promised.

                When I went downstairs to show Chad the outfit, he asked if my boyfriend liked the gift.  I quickly replied that he hadn't put it on, yet, but right after, I frowned.  How did he know that Tate was upstairs?

                Before I could ask him, mom came in and complimented on the angel costume.  It truly was beautiful.  It was very kind of Chad to give it to me.

                I turned towards her with a large grin on my face, but it quickly faded when I noticed that I was thrust back into a vision of black and white fog.  "Uh…  Th-thanks, mom.  Chad gave it to me."

                "Are you going to go out, tonight?  Violet can probably go with you.  I don’t' think she's doing anything and I really want her to stop moping in her room all the time."

                I bit my lips.  "Actually, mom…  I kind of have plans already with someone."  This was it.

                "Oh?  Who is it?  It's not Addie, is it?" mom asked.  "She's a nice girl, but I don't think I can trust her to watch out for you."

                Right on cue, the doorbell rang and my heart raced.  I rushed to the door before mom could get to it.  "Mom…  promise me you won't kill me."

                "Who is it, honey?"  She sounded concern.

                I opened the door and I could clearly see Tate in an old fashion suit with flowers in his hands.

                "Hi, Mrs. Harmon."  He didn't sound nervous.  Instead, it felt as if he had done this regularly.  How was it that he was so composed and I was about to have a panic attack?

                Mom didn't sound too impressed as she greeted him back.  "You're not going to hurt my Madi, are you?"

                "Never, ma'am."

                Mom sighed.  "Alright, then."

                I blinked at her in confusion.  Alright?  That was it?  She wasn't going to slam the door shut and yell at me?

                "Just don't tell your dad.  I can't guarantee what he's going to do."

                I jumped and hugged her.  "You're the best, mom!"

                She hugged me back.  "I just want you to be happy," she told me.  "As long as he doesn't hurt my baby, I don't see a reason why you can't hang out with him, but remember… we're going to be moving soon.  I don't want you to have any lasting relationships here."

                I paled.  "Y-yeah.  Don't worry.  See ya!"

                I raced out before she could say anything else.  I didn't want to be reminded that there was a possibility that I would never see Tate, again.

~*~

               He watched Madi leave the room before opening the black box that Chad had supposedly given him.  Unimpressed, he took out the rubber material.

                Nice try.

                He smirked and hid the rubber suit back in the basement before going up into the attic to find something appropriate to wear – something to complement Madi. 

                "Hey, Beau," he greeted his brother who had rolled a red ball towards him.  "I can't play, today. I  have a date with a hot girl."

                Sensing his joy, Beau was bouncing up and down with a large grin on his face.

                "I'll tell you about it when I come back," he promised as he found something satisfactory that would match with Madi.  It had once belonged to Charles Montgomery, but it'll have to do.  He doubted that the fake doctor would care much for it, now.

                When he finished getting dressed, he looked at himself in the old full-body mirror that had been covered by a white cloth.

                "You look very handsome," a soft voice told him.  Pale hands fixed the bowtie that had laid crooked under his chin.  "Have fun, my boy."

                He big Nora farewell an quickly made his way outside.

                As much as he didn't want to admit it, he was nervous.  There had never been an occasion where he had to meet his girlfriend's mother.  It didn't help when the entire family thought that he was a psychopath.

                He glanced at the flowers from the corner of his eyes.  Maybe they would make a good impression on the pregnant woman.  Her daughter was definitely happy to receive them.

                After he rang the doorbell, he waited anxiously.  Would Mrs. Harmon recognise her own flowers?

                When Madi opened the door, she looked as frazzled as he felt.  He thought that he was going to get a long, unpleasant scolding, but the mother was surprisingly calm.  If it had been his mother, he'd be locked in the house after a physical beating.

                Madi leapt out after the conversation that completely omitted him.  He didn't even have time to give the flowers to her before the door closed.

                She pecked him on the lips, grabbed the flowers, and threw them back to where he had taken them.  "Thank for the flowers, but I really don't want to hold them right now, and I don't want to give mom a chance to lecture me."

                He shrugged.  He personally didn't care for them either.  He just wanted to spend the one day outside that he could with Madi.

                With that thought, he took her hand into his.  They felt soft and delicate.  Everyone was going to know that she was his.  His.

Chapter Text

                I bounced around, dragging Tate along with me.  This was my first real date and although it seemed rather late with everything that we had already done, I was a ball of excited energy.

                My vision was still a bit off, but compared to what it had been, I was actually able to clearly see a quarter of the people I had passed by.  I didn't know how it worked, but as long as I was able to see Tate, I was happy.

                "In here!  In here!"  I pulled him into a fabric store with numerous Hallowe'en costumes on display.

                As I picked through the articles of clothing, my vision faltered and all the items blended into a large mass of shadows.  "Tate, can you…  Can you help me find something for Addie?"

                He looked at me with concern, but I waved him off.  "I want something pretty and sexy for her.  Maybe a princess or… or…  Lil' Red Riding Hood!  Go find me that!" I told him, pushing his back towards a random direction.

                He laughed and directed me elsewhere.  I was going to have to trust him.

               Several times, he described an outfit, but each time, I had rejected them.  They didn't sound like what I had in mind.  I huffed in frustration.  This wasn't going as smoothly as I had hoped.  I thumped my forehead against Tate's back.

                Seeing my frustration, one of the other customers came over.  She smoothly complimented on both of our costumes before offering to help us look.

                I smiled appreciatively at her and with her help, we finally selected something that I liked.

                The dress was described as the classic colour scheme of red and white.  The fabric was soft with some spandex to conform to the body.  It was perfect.

                I paid for the costume and asked Tate for the time.  He didn't know.  I sighed and told him to pull my phone out from my bra.  He happily complied and after taking longer than necessary to get the hidden device, he announced that it was nearly three in the afternoon.

                We made our way back to the house where Addie was…  nowhere in sight.  I didn't want to stay here too long in case Ben was going to come out.

                Just as I was going to leave, a figure jumped out from nowhere and startled me.  The world flicked from colour to black and white, making me nauseated.

                "Addie!" Tate scolded his sister with an amused look on his face.  "You're gonna give her a heart attack."

                I took the bag from Tate and gave it to Addie.  "Try it on!" I happily exclaimed, forgetting about the scare once my vision stabilised.

                "What is it?"  She looked down into the bag before gasping.  "Thanks, Madi!  Stay here!"  She raced to her house.  

                "I hope she likes it," I told Tate.

                He grinned at me.  "I'm sure she does.  No one's really given her anything before."

                My eyes widened.  Nothing at all?  Mom had spoiled Violet and I rotten when we were young.  It was terrible to think that a mother would be that negligent of her children.

                I was silently pondering when Addie came back.  I wished that I could see her, especially when she was exclaiming her joy.  "Look how it fits me!  Will you do my makeup, again?  Please, Madi?"

                I smiled and nodded.  We made our ways into my room quietly and unnoticed.  When the makeup was done, we walked back out.

                "I'm so beautiful, Madi!"  Addie hugged me.

                I hugged her back.  "But you've always been beautiful."

                She giggled and whispered.  "Don't do anything that I wouldn't do in public!"

                I flushed a deep red and whacked her in the arm, too embarrassed to say anything. 

                Tate and I left the house and began to walk towards the mall where events were being held.  There were costume contests, pumpkin carving contests, chocolate eating contests, and face-painting contests.

                He wanted me to enter the costume contest, but since I couldn't see the other contestants' outfits, I was reluctant.  He reassured me that it would be alright and that I looked pretty.  After a while of nagging from him, I finally complied, but only if he entered with me.

                He was hesitant, but agreed as long as he got his face painted first.  His request was odd.  However, I took it as him being shy and that a mask would help him.

                While we waited for the events to start, we walked into dozens of little shops.  There wasn't anything in particular that we wanted, but Tate managed to convince me to buy a couple of items from the lingerie store.  I'd definitely have to sneak them into the house.  Imagine what mom would think…  First date with Tate and he's already getting me to buy skimpy clothing.

                With Tate's face creatively painted, or perhaps not so creatively, we made our way to the crowd around a small makeshift stage.

                We were given numbers and lined up in two rows.  I held on to his hand as I waited nervously for our group to go up.

                Time passed at snail's pace before the entire ordeal was over.  I was practically trembling with adrenaline when I got on stage.  I never knew that I was so frightened of the public until now.  Some may think that it was a blessing being blind because one cannot see the expressions on their faces, but I found the unknown to be even worse.  If I could see, I'd at least know and stop wondering what they were thinking.

                When the emcee finally called us down, I buried my face into Tate's shoulder.  I had already forgotten what had happened.  It was as if I was observing myself in third person perspective.

                Tate kissed the top of my head.  "You did great."

                I blushed and smiled at him.  "No more."

                "Not if you don't want to ," he agreed.

                Judging was swift.  I couldn't see the actual costume when the winner walked up, but her silhouette was a complicated blob of shapes and angles.  Everyone cheered as she received her prize – a hundred dollars gift card to the mall.

                I was shocked, however, when the announcer said my name as the runner up.  Tate helped me on to the stage as the crowed clapped.  I knew that I was blushing furiously.  "You're beautiful, Madi," Tate whispered into my ear as I was handed a soft plush toy.  From the shape, I assumed that it was a teddy bear holding a heart.

                The emcee congratulated me one more time before I made my quick escape.  We scurried out of the building giggling and laughing.

                He pulled me over to the field nearby and we laid on the grass overlooking the beach.  "You've gotten my costume dirty."

                He nuzzled the side of my neck and muttered," I'll get you a new one for next year."

                "Madi loves Tate."  I moved the teddy bear around, trying to simulate it talking.  "Go give Madi a kiss."

                He grinned and complied without hesitation.

                I sighed happily against his lips.  As his hands began to wander, I whacked them away.  "There are people here," I mumbled.

                He frowned and laid his head on my chest.  "I love you, Madi."  His eyes closed as I stroked his hair.  "I want to spend every second of every day with you."

                "Are you proposing?"  I smirked at him.

                His cheeks flushed red.  "N-not yet…"

                "I was just teasing."  I was also blushing from the thought.  It would be nice being able to spend eternity with him, but mom seemed determined to leave soon.  I really didn't want to think about life without being by his side.

                We stayed in this position until the sun had long set and everyone on the beach had disappeared.

                "Madi…"  Tate lifted his head and looked at me with a serious expression on his face.  "I…  There's something that I have to tell y – "

                "Well…  Look who we've found."  A group of teenagers were approaching us.  They looked to be in nineties clothes with fake blood splattered on them.  "If it isn't the little asshole and his girlfriend."  It was a male who had said that.  He had short brown hair with a typical jock sweater that read, "Westfield Wolverines."

                We scrambled to our feet, while Tate quickly pushed me behind him in a protective manner.  "Who are you?"

                "What did we ever do to you?" the girl dressed in a cheerleader's outfit asked.  "Why us?  What had we ever done to you?"

                "Go away!" Tate shouted.  'I don't know who you are."

                One of them suddenly grabbed my arm and I screamed.  "Tell us or you're not getting her back."  A hand touched my cheek.  "She's pretty, isn't she?  Does she know what you did?"

                "Let her go!"  Tate's eyes were wide with confusion and fear.  "Whatever happened, it has nothing to do with her.  She's innocent.  Let her go and I'll tell you what you want to hear."

                Hesitantly, the male holding me let go.  Tate took the opportunity to grab my hand and we bolted away down the street.

                We didn't stop even after running passed the black iron gates.  My trembling hands were making it difficult to slide the key into the hole, so Tate took it from me.  The door was quickly closed from behind us and we slid to the floor, panting.

                "Who were they?"  Were they one of the reasons why he dropped out of school?

                Tate shook his head.  "I don't know.  I don't know."  He looked so puzzled.  "Someone from my school, I think…"

                "Madi?"  I looked up into the darkness of the house and saw the dark outline of my sister.  "Are you okay?"

                "I…  Why is it so dark?  Where's mom?" I asked, slowly getting to my feet.

                "They went to the hospital.  Something might be wrong with the baby."  She sounded a bit concerned,  but also rather alarmed.

                I turned on the lights and squinted.  "Tate, can you stand beside Violet?"  He seemed confused, but complied without a word.  Extending two feet away from him was an aura of colours and clarity. I  was able to see my sister.  "I – "

                Bang!  Bang!

                I jumped an twirled around in shock.  The door shook slightly from the sheer force of the knock.

                "I'm here for my payment!"  A male voice growled from the other side.  "I know you're in there!"

                I took a step back.  Tate's eyes darkened as he glared at the door.  "Do you know him?" I asked

                "No one you have to worry about," he murmured before yanking the door open.

                The man was facially deformed.  He was slouched over to one side like someone who had had a stroke.

                "Get out!" Tate snarled.

                I wasn't able to gauge the man's expression from only one side of his face, which seemed immobile.  His lips, however, slowly quirked upward as his eyes fell on my sister and I.  "Alright, but put in a good word to your mother for me, will you?"

~*~

                Tate glowered at the pathetic excuse for a man in front of him.  He had never met a more irritating person in life nor death, but Tate had to give the poor fool credit for being so persistent.

                He shut the door on Larry's face before he could even hobble off and made sure that the door was locked.  "Don't worry about him."  He lamented on the fact that he wasn't able to kill the bastard all those years ago.

                "Who is he?" Violet asked.  She sounded nonchalant, but he knew that it was only a mask.  He had seen how she screamed and ran to her sister.  The bitch told Madi even after promising that she wouldn't.  If it hadn't been for the fact that she was Madi's sister, he wouldn't have bothered with troubling himself and risking exposure.

                He turned Madi around and began to lead her upstairs, but the blonde girl followed them.

                "Who is he, Tate?" she shouted.

                Madi was rubbing her temples.  Her face was scrunched up in pain.

                He quickly ushered her into her room.  After he sat her down on the bed, he knelt in front of her.  "Are you okay?"

                She opened her eyes.  "I'm fine.  I think it might just be fatigue.  Probably having some kind of adrenaline crash, right now."

                He turned to Violet who was still standing by the door.  "Don't worry about it, okay?  If he comes again, I'll be here."  And if he saw the bastard so much as touch Madi, he'd kill him.  "Don't go out or open the door for anyone."

                She looked at him with annoyance.  "I'm not a child, Tate."  I'm not as trusting as Madi and I don't trust you."  With that, she stomped away.

                "Let's just go to bed, Tate," Madi's soft voice pleaded. It broke his heart to see her so worn down.

                He crawled in and pulled her down with him.  "I'll keep you safe, Madi.  I promise."

                She snuggled close to him.  "I know you will."  She left a warm kiss on his cold lips and slowly fell asleep in his arms.

                The day had its ups and downs, but at night, she was still his.  His

                He smiled with satisfaction and closed his eyes.  The dead dint' sleep, but they were able to lay comfortable and do nothing.

                As the night progressed, he noticed that she was moving around more than usual.  He brushed it off as an after effect from the events, but half an hour later, her movements had grown frantic.  She was thrashing around as if someone was after her.

                "Stop…" she muttered.  "Stop!  Let me go!  Let me go!"

                He sat up and shook her.  "Madi, wake up!  It's only a dream.  Madi!"

                Suddenly, her entire body stilled.  Her eyes popped open and she let out a shrill scream.

Chapter Text

                Violet say sulking on her bed, going through the day's events in her head.  Everyone had been behaving so oddly, today.  The stupid fluffers had decorated the lawn as if it was their own house.  She hadn't been thrilled with the idea of having someone knock on the door every few minutes.

                In fact, although she was concerned for her mother, she was glad that the festivities in the house had come to a halt.  She was able to relax at home, listening to music without anyone telling her to turn it down.

                Eventually, she had gotten bored and decided to all Leah.  The other girl had been her confidante since the incident.  She'd tell her about the strange things that'd occur in the house.  To be completely honest with herself, Leah had possibly become her best friend in this stupid place.

                She had told her all about her worries of Tate Langdon and his relationship with her sister.  There was just something not right about him.  He was always in the house.  Didn't his mother ever wonder where he was?

                Suddenly, she could hear murmuring from just under her window.  She looked out and saw a group of teenagers dressed like the dead Breakfast Club.

                She briefly thought of Tate's warning, but quickly dismissed it.  She could take care of herself.

                Armed with a pair of sharp scissors, she quietly made her way to the back door.

                They looked at her when she stepped out.  "I don't know who you are, but you're going to leave."

                "We're not going anywhere until he comes out," the prep shot back at her.

                Violet frowned.  "What do you want with him?  He's just some loser who dropped out of school."

                They shared a look before the jock spoke up.  "He didn't "drop out".  Don't you know anything about the school or maybe read the newspaper every once in a while?"

                She didn't like the way they were speaking to her.  "What about the school?"  What were these freak talking about?

                "Go to the library tomorrow and look at the plaque.  Look up the name "Tate Langdon" and see what you find out, sweetheart," the prep sneered.  "You'll be smart to stay far away from him."

                "Warn your sister, too," the punk added.

                The blonde goth girl stepped up with the nerd by her side.  "Look what he did to Amir."

                Amir was tall with glasses and a mouth that looked like something from a zombie movie.  "What?  Did he play a prank on him?  Paint his face while he's asleep?"

                They all looked offended except for the jock who had a very serious look on his face.  "Just remember what we said.  Look him up and what happened at Westfield high."

                Without another word, they all walked away.

                Violet watched in confusion.  What had just happened?

~*~

                I groaned and rolled over.  My head was hurting and it felt as if I hadn't slept at all.  If I had ever been drunk, this was probably what a hangover would feel like.

                "Madi?"  Tate's voice sounded different – bleak, even.  His eyes were rimmed with red.  "Madi?"  He pulled me over and buried his face into the crook of my neck.  His shoulders were shaking.

                "What's wrong?"  The grogginess had quickly dissipated upon his apparent distress.  He even looked as if he had been crying.

                He shuddered and covered my face with wet kisses.  His eyes were shining with tears.  "Nothing…  You – You were just having a nightmare and it scared me.  You don't…  remember what happened last night?"

                I frowned.  No, I didn't recall anything at all, but that wasn't rare.  Sometimes, I'd forget dreams by the time that I wake up.  But what he said about nightmares might explain why I was feeling so sluggish.  "No, what happened?"  It must've been something serious if it brought him to tears.  I mused over the image from a demon possession movie scene.

                He laid his cheek on my chest.  "Nothing," he mumbled, but I knew it was otherwise.  He was worried.

                "I have a session with Henderson, today," I told him.  "I'll ask him if there are any side effects with the new pills, okay?"  I pulled his face forward for a kiss.  "I'm alright.  I'm always alright."

                As promised, I was laying in the doctor's couch, telling him everything that had happened.  He listened patiently to my story and wrote down little notes every once in a while.

                "Do you feel like your vision has been improving?"

                I nodded.  "I can see more people, now," I replied.  "But…  Why is it only these certain people?  I can't see my family or the majority of the people on the streets."

                "You shouldn't worry too much about that," he said.  "The medication is not perfect.  It'll stablise soon."

                "And…  I seem to be having nightmares at night," I confessed.  "They're not like the ones I've ever had before.  I couldn't remember anything from it, but my…  my boyfriend was genuinely frightened for me."

                He shuffled through his papers.  "Just a small side effect from the pills.  It will disappear soon enough.  Alright, I think that will be all for today."

                I was quickly ushered out.  Since mom had the scare yesterday, Ben was the one to drive me to and fro the office.  Talking to Henderson, however, had curbed some of my contempt for my biological father, but the transportation was still awkward.  He tried to strike up a conversation, but I replied with curt words.  There just wasn't much I wanted to say to him after mom finally kicked him out.

                "Miss, I've made you chocolate chip cookies," Moira said as I walked by.

                I stopped.  Chocolate chip…  My favourite.  I took the entire plate with a smile on my face.  "Thanks, Moira."

                When I had first arrived, I thought that the housemaid was an elderly woman, but when I was able to see her, it was obvious that she was actually a very attractive young woman.  How did she end up with this job?  Surely someone at her age would like to do something else with her life.

                "Would you like something to drink, too?"  She returned the smile with one of her own.

                "Yes, please."

                She quickly fixed up two glasses of water and two glasses of juice.  I gave her a questioning look and she only smirked in response.  With a round, metal tray, she carried the glasses up the stairs and into my room where I knew Tate was waiting.

                Moira shot him a look, but said nothing in regards to my secret guest.  I wondered when she had found out about him.  At least it didn't seem like she had told anyone, yet.

                She left after setting down the refreshments and closed the door behind her.

                "Hope this won't get us into trouble," I mumbled.

                Tate grinned.  "She's seen me come in and out of the house a while ago.  Talked my ears off about propriety."

                I laughed.  It was difficult to imagine her saying things like that, now.  "She's nice and she makes really good cookies," I said before taking a bite of the warm, soft, gooey piece of heaven.  "Want one?"

                "Just one?" he teased.

                I held the plate away from him once he snatched a cookie away.  "Mine."

                He growled and pulled me down on to the bed, nearly causing me to spill the deliciousness.  "Mine," he purred.  "You're mine, Madi."  The brush of his lips on my ear made me shiver.  "Therefore…"  He plucked another cookie from the plate.  "This is also mine."

                I whacked him in the chest with my free hand.  "Not fair!  And I am not a possession, Tate," I weakly replied as he abandoned the cookies and began to trail kisses down the side of my neck.  "Tate…"

                He took the plate and set it on the night table.

                The cookies were promptly forgotten.

~*~

                "MADI!"  I heard mom scream my name.

                There was something wrong.  She had never sounded like this, except for when she had first caught Ben with his student in their bed.

                "Quickly pack a bag, we're leaving."  Her voice was slightly muffled by the wooden door.

                My eyes widened in shock and I turned to Tate who mirrored my expression.  I knew that what happened with the crazy bitch had really frightened her, but as long as we kept everything locked, no one should be able to get in.

                "I don't want to leave, Tate," I whispered to him.  "I can't leave.  I can't imagine living without you.  I'd die."

                Tate fervently shook his head.  "Don't say that, Madi.  You have to live on no matter what and…  And…"  He hesitated and a sad look overtook his face.  "And I think it's safer if you lived somewhere else.  There's something unlucky about this house.  I don't want anything to happen to you."

                "No.  No…  I can't.  I need you, Tate," I sobbed.  "I wasn't truly living until I found you.  I love you.  I love you."

                He pulled me into his arms.  "I love you, too, Madi, but right now, go pack your bag.  I'll find you."

                Feeling completely helpless, I reluctantly stuffed a duffel bag full of clothes, money, and the laptop.

                "I love you so much."  He kissed the tears away from my face.  "Live for me, Madi."

                Hesitantly, I made my way out of my room with my white cane in hand.  This was it.  Our family had fallen apart and I was going to have to leave the only man I could ever love behind.

                "Come on."  Mom opened the door and marched us into the car.  As I got in, I looked back towards the only clear spot in the abandoned house.

                He was staring back at me with his hand on the window.  His other was lifted up in a wave.

                Life was so cruel.  It would always give me things and then take them away.  Just when I thought I was finally going to be happy…

                "Boo!"  I jumped and turned to look at the seats beside me.  No one else was supposed to be inside the car other than mom and Violet, but there were.  Three squished forms had identical maniacal grins on their faces and what looked to be blood splattered all over their bodies.  Were they the intruders from several nights ago?

                Before I could ponder the notion any longer, mom and Violet were both streaming.  The car door beside me was flung open and I was quickly pulled out.

                Confused, I was dragged back into the house.  Mom told us to check the locks on every door and window.  She had a phone in hand and quickly called the police.

                When I ran upstairs, Tate was immediately by my side with worry marring his pale face.  He asked me what was wrong, but I was too bewildered to reply.  I merely did as I was ordered to do by mom.

~*~

                He watched in frustration as she walked away from him.  He had been so close to having her forever.  He had been so close…

                Clenching his hands, he managed to rein in his desire to make it happen.  He wouldn't be able to bear it if she died here and ignored him for the rest of their existence in this damned house.

                Alone…  No, not alone, but empty.  He was nothing without her.  Nothing.

                He gave her a final, sorrowful wave.  When she turned away, he made to leave to save himself from watching her leave him.

                "It will be alright, my poor boy."  Nora gathered him into her arms and gave him the comfort that his  mother never did.  "She will not leave you.  Never.  You'll see."

                Seconds later, there was a chorus of screams piercing the night.  His dead heart clenched.  What was happening?

                "Madi?  Madi!"  He pulled away from Nora and rushed out into the hall.  The three Harmons had rushed back in.  Fear was clearly on their faces.  Vivien had a phone on her hand, quickly talking to the cops while Madi and her sister were running around, frantically checking the doors and windows.

                As his Madi ran up, he took the opportunity to question her, but she remained silent with a dazed look on her face.  What had happened in the car?

Chapter Text

                Tate followed me with concern until he had to hide when mom came upstairs.  Not long after, Luke – the cop who said he would come whenever the security was tripped – arrived at our door.  Another cop was looking around the yard. 

                "No one's here!"

                My heart sank.  They didn't find anyone.  This was the second time that these cops couldn't find the people were a threat to our lives.

                Shortly after, Ben had also rushed over and I was actually happy to know that he cared enough to be here at this hour.

                "It was them!" mom told Luke.  "They were in the car with us – in the back seat with – Oh, my God!  Madi.  My daughter was sitting beside the people who nearly killed us!"

                Luke wrote down what she said.  "Did she not see them when she got into the car?"

                "No!" mom sobbed hysterically.  "S-she's blind.  My Madi…  I could've lost her…"

                "Please, calm down, Vivien."  Luke rubbed her shoulder.  "She's safe and we can't find them around here.  They must've already ran for it."

                I didn't correct them that I was actually able to see the people in our car. To be honest, it probably wouldn’t have helped since I wasn't able to see them when they first invaded our house.  Everything was just a jumble of confusion.

                When Ben asked Violet if they were really the people who were at our house, I frowned to hear her deny it.  Who was right?  I tried to recall what they sounded like, but all I remembered was the fear and being extremely disoriented and…  the rubber man who seemed to have vanished.

                I gave a statement of what I knew to Luke, but it was obvious that my words held no weight.  They seemed to be convinced that Violet was right and that the people were not the same ones who nearly murdered us.

                I wished that I could've helped mom in some way, but as I spoke to the two men, they didn't sound too interested with speaking to me.

                Once the ordeal was over, Ben offered to stay the night, but mom brushed him off.  We checked every lock on every door and window several times over.  Before I left, I heard Violet talking to mom about how we couldn't call them intruders.  Instead we were "survivors."

                Her reasoning didn't make sense to me, but I didn't want to think about it anymore.

                I returned to my room and felt safer seeing Tate standing by the window.  After shutting the door and locking it, I went up behind Tate and wrapped my arms around him.  He was safe.  He was always safe.

                He turned around and returned the embrace.  "What happened, Madi?"

                Tears welled up in my eyes as an emotional breakdown quickly consumed me.  "I-I don't know.  We were in the c-car and these people were inside w-with us…  They weren't there when I went in!  But then suddenly, they just…  They were just there."  I hiccoughed and Tate began to rub comforting circles on my back.  "M-mom s-said that they were the ones who c-came into our house, but Vi…  Vi…"  I stopped as the sobs grew more violent.

                He directed me to the bed, sat me down, pulled my socks and coat off before tucking the both of us under the cover.  "Don't worry, Madi.  They'll never hurt you.  I swear.  No one will ever take you away from me." 

Something about his words brought cold chills down my spine.

~*~

                The next day, Ben had returned to the house, claiming that he was back because of work.  Mom was lenient enough to comply.  Somehow, things had fallen back into its old routine with him in the house or so it seemed.

                Unfortunately, Violet had pulled me over and everything fell apart, once more.  She had come home from school as frightened as the day that she came back from the basement.

                She had led me into the newly made gazebo with my laptop in her hands. "Here.  Listen to this."

                It was the article that I had found before regarding the history of the house.  I caught the ending of the nurse murders, again.  I was surprised the next one was about the Langdons.  What misfortune had befall them?

                "By 1994, the Murder House had produced another tragedy.  A male resident and student of Westfield High had entered the school armed with three guns.  He shot down numerous students and teachers, injuring dozens and killing fifteen.

                The perpetrator, Tate Langdon – age seventeen – was found in the Murder House by the SWAT Team.  He was shot down in his room and died instantly.  The reasons behind the shooting remains unknown.  It has been speculated tha – "

                I stood up abruptly.  "No!" I shouted.  "I don't want to listen to it anymore.  There's no way that Tate…  that Tate…"  Of course not.  Tate wasn't dead and he wasn't a  murderer.  He was a teenager who was misunderstood and he was my boyfriend whom I love very, very much and who loves me back.

                "Madi!" Violet hissed and pulled me back down.  "Shut up or he'll hear you."

                "I don't see him anywhere," I told her.

                Violet let out a growl of frustration.  "He's a ghost!  Just because you can't see him doesn't mean shit!"  She closed the laptop.  "This must mean that the thing that attacked Leah was also a ghost."

                My wind wandered over to the rubber man.  Then it would also explain how he was getting in and out of the house completely undetected.

                No.  No.  No.  If that was true then…  "No!"

                As I was about to run back into the house, Violet grabbed my wrist.  "Come on!"

                She dragged me into the streets and down the road in the direction of her school.  "Wait, I don't have my cane!"  Why was she doing this?  I told her that I didn't want to hear it anymore. 

                "Doesn't matter."  We walked in and passed by a janitor mopping the floor.

                We entered what seemed to be the library.  "Touch it!  These are the victims of the shooting," she said, pointing to a stand with names engraved on a plaque.  "He killed fifteen people, Madi.  He's a fuckin' psychopath!"

                "Maybe…  Maybe it was a different Tate…" I said, weakly.  "I can feel him, Violet.  He's not dead.  He's not!"

                "He killed us," a familiar male voice said from behind us.

                I turned and saw the teens who approached Tate and I on Hallowe'en.  Their outfits were unchanged from that night and I was starting to suspect that that may not be fake blood, after all.

                "Look at Amir!"  He pulled the nerd forward.  "Look at what that asshole did to him!"

                The other male teen opened his mouth and blood splattered and poured down his chin.  Outside the Hallowe'en setting, it no longer looked like a tacky costume.  It was more of a nightmare.

                "Do you know what he asked me before he killed me?" the blonde goth girl asked.  "He asked if I believed in God."

                Tears poured down my cheeks.  It couldn't be.  Tate wasn't that kind of person.  He wasn't.  My hands were shaking and it felt as if a blast of arctic air had hit me.

                "Madi?"

                I was hyperventilating…  I couldn't even open my mouth to speak.  My vision flickered.  It felt as if I was going to pass out.

                "I'm sorry, Madi…"  Violet took me back home after I had calmed down enough. 

                During the entire journey back home, I felt numb.  Times like these, I actually welcomed the darkness.  I could feel detached from the world.  At least until I got to my room where I knew he would be waiting.

                When we arrived, Violet volunteered to stay with me for the rest of the day, but I brushed her off.  This was something that I had to do on my own.

                As I opened the door, I had never felt as much dread as I had now.

                He was sitting on my bed as he usually did when I was here or away.  He turned and gave me that irresistible smile.  It was the face of an angel – beautiful, innocent, pure, but it was all a lie.  Underneath the angelic façade was a murderer – the devil in sheep skin.

                I closed the door behind me.  Mom was sleeping soundly on the couch and I didn't want to alarm her.  "Why, Tate?" I whispered when I turned back to him.

                He had a confused look on his face.  "Why what?"

                "Why did you kill all those people?  Why didn't you tell me that you were…  you were…"  Tears prickled my eyes and I cursed my inability to finish the statement – my weakness.

~*~

                Tate stared at the girl he had fallen head over heels with.  This could not be happening.  How did she find out?  She was never supposed to know!  "What have you been told, Madi?  I swear I didn't do it…  I…  I don't remember any of it!"

                Madi's face crumbled into one of utter sorrow.  He made to gather her in his arms, but she pushed him away.  "Don't touch me!" she screamed. 

She refused to look at him and it hurt.  It hurt so much.  "Please…  Madi, look at me…"

                Finally, her beautiful hazel orbs – glistening with tears – turned to him and it only made his heart break.  "I'm sorry.  I'm sorry."  His own tears were blurring his vision.  "I…  I was high," he quietly confessed.  "My mom had used the bastard to kill my brother, Beau.  He wanted to be our father and mom wanted to get back into this house after we moved out…  The fucker broke up with his wife who ended up killing herself and their two daughters.  We were back here in this house and…" 

                He gripped his hair tightly in frustration.  "She wanted me to be her perfect child.  The cock-sucking whore only did what would make herself happy.  She lived in her own fucking fantasy."  He crawled over to Madi.  His body absorbing the heat into his cold, dead form.  "So I fell into using coke.  It made everyday feel better.  My life suddenly didn't feel so fucked up, anymore."  He fell on to his back and stared at the ceiling.

                "I don't know anymore, Madi.  I know I'm dead, but I don't remember how.  They told me that I killed people, but I don't know who."  He turned to look at her frightened expression.  "I just want someone to accept me for me.  Please."  He got back on his knees and crawled back to her and laid his head on her knees.  "Please, don't hate me. I  promise…  I promise I'll never do it, again.  I'll listen to you.  Don't leave me, Madi.  Don't push me away."

                He lips trembled.  His sweet, beautiful Madi.  She would never leave him.  Never.  Never.  Never.  His Madi.  His.

                "I'm sorry," she whispered.  "I can't do this.  I'm scared.  Leave me alone."  His heart dropped.  "Please, just leave me alone…"

                His entire form shook.  She was rejecting him.  His Madi…  She promised that she would never leave him.  She promised!

                He let out a scream of agony and disappeared into the basement.  He'd show her.  She was his and he was never going to let her go.

                Slipping on the skin tight suit, he slowly made his way back up.  Everyone had already gone to bed and even if they weren't, he knew that they would be none the wiser. 

Chapter Text

                I curled into a ball in the same location Tate had left me. 

                I was such an idiot. I  allowed my little girl dream of finding true love get in the way of reality.  The signs were all there…

                He was always in the house…  His mother, no matter how negligent never once asked for him.  We never spent a day outside, except for Hallowe'en.

                So what was in the basement?  What other horrors was he hiding from me?

                I wiped away my tears.  I had to be strong.  This entire mess was my fault.  I had been too naïve.  I should've known better when Violet had come to me after the scare with Leah.

                Dabbing the remaining droplets in my eyes, I made my way to the door to talk to her.  As I opened the door, however, there was a tall, towering form already standing there.

                No…  Why now?

                I backed way in fear.  The rubber man advanced towards me.  Behind him, the door slammed close by itself and locked shut.  I screamed for help, but the man leapt towards me and threw me on to the bed, faced down.  He pressed my head against the pillow, muffing the cries as he ripped away my clothes.

                I struggled against him, but it was futile.  He slammed into me and was fully sheathed in the single moment.  As he thrust violently inside me, I stopped struggling.  Tears flowed freely down my cheeks.  It hurt.  Everything hurt.

                His hand moved away from my head.  Instead, they gripped tightly on each side of my hip.  His movements became sporadic.  With a shudder, he stilled for only a minute before turning me over.

                I stared into dark brown eyes.  He hooked my legs around his shoulder and entered me, once more.

                My toes began to curl as the familiar feeling of guilty pleasure swan in my lower region.  Soft pants replaced the jerky motion that had brought tears in my eyes.

                His hands were on each of my breasts, squeezing and rubbing the mounds.

                "Harder," I finally whispered in resignation as I neared my own release.

                He shifted his hip and pounded rhythmically inside me.

                My eyes clenched shut and I screamed.

                His body collapsed on top of me.  I ran a hand down his neck to his back.  My other hand reached over to the zipped.  As I slowly peeled away the mask, matte blonde curls bounced out, caressing my face.

                He lifted his head and the rest of the mask fell away.  I stared into the beautiful brown eyes that glistened with fresh tears.

                Maybe I had always known.  Maybe a lie was better than the reality that was given to me.

                He laid back down, burying his face against the side of my neck.

                We cried.

                Perhaps there were some happy tears.  Even if he had forcefully taken my virginity, I ended up giving it to the person I loved most.

                "Madi, I love you."

                Just tell him to go away.

                "Don't leave me, Madi."

                Tell him to go away.

                "I can be better."

                Tell him.

                "I love you."

                "Go away…"  I whispered.

                His body went rigid.

                "Go away, Tate!" I screamed.

                His eyes were wide as he jerked back and disappeared in front of me.  I would never forget the heartbreaking expression on his face.

                Never

~*~

                That night, my dreams were plague with horror.  It was as if something was slowly suffocating me.  It was overwhelming…  Terrifying…  It was so dark and so evil.

                "Madi!" 

                I gasped and my eyes snapped open.

                There was someone hovering over me.  Still seeing monsters, Is creamed and hit the form.  There was a cry of pain before it tumbled over.

                Hurried footsteps approached before light illuminated the room.

                "Madi?  Are you okay?!" I heard mom cry.  Squinting my eyes, I could see both her and Violet by the door.  "Addy, what are you doing here?"

                I looked down and saw the familiar shape of my neighbour on the floor rubbing her head.  "Hey, Madi!"  She waved her hand at me.  Confused, I returned the gesture.

                "Hi, Mrs. Harmon.  Hey, Violet!"

                Mom was furious that Addy had once again managed to slip into our house undetected.  "This can't continue!  You're going back home right no – "

                "Wait!"  I cut her off.  "C-can she stay?  I've never had a sleepover before.  Maybe Vi can join, too?"

                Seeing my pleading look, Violet chimed in, "I've never had one, either."

                Mom sighed.  "Fine, but it's late.  I expect all of you to keep it down."  Just as she was about to leave, she turned back around and added, "And Violet, you still need to go to school, tomorrow."

                The younger girl cursed.

                When the door closed, everyone was sitting on the bed in a circle.  "So why were you screaming?  I mean, it was probably weird having Addy here, but I know you would't've screamed."

                "Nightmares.  That's all," I told her and it was the truth.  I was still half asleep when Is aw Addy.  The monsters were still lurking in my mind.  "I'm fine, Vi.  Really."

                "Did…  Did you talk to him?"  Violet turned her head to briefly look at Addy.

                I nodded my head.  "I don't think we're together, anymore."  I could feel my heart clench painfully at the thought of never feeling him beside me, again.

                "You broke up with him?" Addy asked.  "No wonder I haven't seen him around."  She didn't sound too concerned.

                "Addy, did you know that Tate's…"  I swallowed.  "Dead?  And the things that he had done?"

                She shrugged.  "Yeah."  I waited for her to elaborate, but she didn't.  Instead, she changed the subject.  "Mom hated the costume, but Travis loved it."  She went on to rant about her mother's new boy toy and how much time he was spending with her.  Her mother was absolutely jealous!  "Oh, while you were with Tate, this girl got hit by a car in front of our house.  It was so weird.  She had this ugly mask on.  I'm so glad you did my makeup, Madi or maybe mom would've made me do the same."

                I gave her a small smile.  "Anytime, Addy."  Hallowe'en had been such a wonderful day.  Why couldn't we go back to it?

                "Hopefully, he's not going to bother us, anymore…" Violet muttered.  She didn't seem to be paying any attention to what Addy was saying.  My laptop was turned on in front of her. 

                "Vi…"  I didn't want to talk about it anymore with Addy in the room, but my sister was adamant.

                "If he does, I'll fucking kill him, again," she growled.

                From the corner of my eyes, I thought I caught a glimpse of his face outside the window, but when I turned to look, there was no one there.

                "Ya know, he really liked you, Madi," Addy said.  "You were like…  family already."

                He had also become a permanent fixture for me.  It was odd not being with him, now. I  ran my hand on the teddy bear's soft coat.  If I brought it to my nose, I could catch a faint scent of him, but it wasn't enough.

                Suddenly, the stuffed animal was snatched away from under my hand.  I gave Violet a disapproving look.

                "This is going away," she said.

                I stretched out my hand to take it back, but stopped.  It was probably for the best.  I had to move on.  The only way to do that was to let go of the things that reminded me of him, but there was just so much...  This entire room, it wasn't completely without him in it.

                "Come on, we're going to my room," Violet demanded.  "I can't stand how bright lights are here."  She threw the teddy bear back on my bed and marched out the door.  Addy obediently followed while I reluctantly left behind my memories of him.

                It was difficult getting used to my sister's room.  The darkness meant less shadows.  I clumsily trekked to the bed before planting myself on the soft mattress.  There was no way that I was going to go anywhere else without injuring myself in here.

                We continued our conversation regarding the house.  When Addy mentioned her friends in here, neither Violet nor I doubted her anymore.  We were, however, worried that the other-worldly residents may bring harm to our family.

                "Come on, I'll introduce you to the twins," Addy suggested.  She made her way out the door without waiting for our reply.

                Worriedly and curious, we carefully followed her.  She led us to the entrance of the basement.  The door was creaky and I stared down, it was pitch black.

                He had told me not to go there, but…  What did his words even mean to me, now?

                I tiptoed down the stairs behind Violet who was following Addy.  As my feet touched the cold concrete floor, I saw two faces staring back from just beyond the railing. 

                I jumped in shock.

                "Hey, guys," Addy greeted the two boys.

                One was dressed in a green and black striped shirt, while the other had on red and black.  The twins' faces had streaks of dried blood and they didn't seem too happy to see Addy.

                "What are you doing here, fat ass?" the red one sneered.

                Instead of being insulted, Addy merely laughed.  "There are my new friends – Madi and Violet."

                They turned their heads at the same time.  It was rather unnerving.  "They're girls," they said with disdain.

                Violet was immediately riled up.  "Yeah, we're girls and I'm going to punch your face in if that's a problem with you!"

                They boys turned around and ran deeper into the darkness.  Their cackles could be heard echoing in the cold basement.  Addy was unperturbed with their departure.  Instead, she led them further in.  One of the rooms held two girls and a woman.  Their entire body was covered with burns.

                I was too afraid to even approach them, but Addy was having a conversation with the mother who was staring at me with an eerie look in her eyes.

                Taking a step backward, I bumped into another body and jumped in fear.  When I turned around, I saw Moira.  My heart settled down.

                "Addy, what are you doing here?" the maid didn't seem happy.  "You know that you're not supposed to be here."

                Addy shrugged.  "'Was just showing them my friends."

                "Back upstairs," Moira ordered.

                I was more than happy to leave.

~*~

He paced the attic.  The rubber suit was thrown into a corner.  He was frustrated, angry, and heartbroken.  His Madi had told him to leave her alone.  How dare she do that to him?!

                "Play!  Play?"  Beau jumped around beside him with the red ball in his hands.

                Tate turned.  "No!" he snarled and immediately regret it when his brother whimpered and flinched away.  "Sorry, Beau…"  He sighed, plopping down on the cot with his face in his hands.  "I'm so sorry."  Tears streamed down his face.  What was he going to do?  Madi was his happiness.  She was his light.

                For so many years, he had nothing to look forward to.  This accursed house was one long, boring day that never wanted to end.  It wasn't until he had met her did he feel his dead heart seem to beat, again.  She made him feel alive.

                He clenched his eyes shut and hit himself in the head over and over, again.  "Stupid!  Stupid!  Stupid!"  He wasn't alive.  He was dead as a fuckin' doornail!  Why was he even pretending that there was ever going to be any happiness for him in the living world?  It was impossible.  He was growing as crazy as his cock-sucking mother.  Fuckin' bat shit crazy.

                His face suddenly split into a grin.

                It Madi didn't want to love him, he'd make sure that she was never going to leave this house and if she felt lonely, he could always bring her entire family along.  Then, she'd have to stay with him forever.

                "No!" he roared.  He couldn't do that to her.  The house would corrupt her innocence.  It'd take it away.  She wouldn't be his Madi anymore!  "No…  No…  No…"

                He shot to his feet and quickly made his way to the basement.  "Nora?  Nora!"

                The blonde, elegant woman appeared by his side in an instant.  "Oh, my poor boy…"  She immediately pulled him into her arms.  He sighed.  "If you don't take what you want, it'll never come to you," she murmured.  "You must take things into your own hands."

                He closed his eyes, sinking into the comfort of her embrace.  "What if she won't love me, anymore?  I love her."  He loved her so much that it hurt.

                "She will."  That was all Nora had offered him.

                He felt just as lost as the day that he died and reappeared in the basement.  He didn't know what to do.  Time seemed to be moving without him.  Life went on for everyone else.  They didn't know how he felt.  He didn't know how he felt.

Chapter Text

                The next morning, I woke up feeling sluggish and nauseated.  It felt as if no part of me was actually alive.  Did I die?

                "Miss?"

                I jolted and stared at the maid with wide eyes.  "Moira…  What are you doing in my room?  You're not supposed to e working, today."

                She gave me a sad smile.  "Haven't you figured it out, yet?  I came with the house."

                Frankly, much of what happened yesterday felt like a blur.  What was real and what wasn't?  I rubbed my eyes and looked at the maid.  Her image flickered briefly from the young woman whom I had always seem and the old woman whom I could match the voice that I had initially heard.  "Are…  Are you…?"

                She shot me a dry look.  "What do you think?"

                I groaned and covered my face with my blanket.  "Who else is a ghost here?"

                She smiled wanly at me.  "Get up.  Someone unwanted is lurking in the house."

                "Is it Addy?  I don't mind – "

                "It's someone none of us like."

                I tilted my head in confusion, but complied nonetheless.  With mom heavily pregnant by now and Violet going to school more regularly, I was the one taking care of things around the house.

                Once I was presentable, I made my way downstairs. 

                "Who are you?" I demanded to the figure who was loitering in the hall way.

                The woman turned towards me.  "Oh, it's you." 

                A sneer immediately made its way to my face.  I didn't like her tone.  "You're trespassing.  Didn't I warn you that I'd call the police?"  My cell phone was clenched tightly in my hand.  "I'm very serious about this, Constance.  Mom might be lenient with your misdemeanor, but I can assure you that one call and you're going to have a restraining order in your hands."

                "You can't keep me away from this house," she scoffed.  "Have you seen Tate?  I think he – "

                "Hello?  This is Madison Harmon," I spoke into the phone.  "I have a woman here who has broken into your house repeatedly and is refusing to leave.  I live on – "

                "Alright.  Alright," she growled.  "I'll leave, but if you see my son arou – "

                "GET OUT!" I shouted.

                She scampered off, leaving the door wide open.

                I sighed and put down my hand.  The phone's screen was dark.  If she had been more observant, she would've known that there wasn't anyone on the other side.  Suddenly, I felt someone walk up behind me.

                "Moira, is tha – "  When I turned around, I saw a different woman.  She was beautiful – blonde and pale with seductive eyes.  "Who are you?"

                "How are you, child?" she asked, ignoring my question.

                I huffed.  The irritation from encountering Constance was still roaring inside me.  "How do you think I am?  I have random living people entering our house as if they were invited and I just learned that ghosts are lurking about here, as well!"  I threw my hands into the air.  "I can't do this!"

                Nora smiled complacently at me.  "The others here are quite nice.  Why don't I introduce you?"

                I glared at her.  "No.  I’m not going anywhere with you.  I'm not going anywhere with anyone."  I turned around and made to stomp away, but as I did, something hit the back of my head and I dropped to the floor in a dead faint.

                "Madi…  Madi, I love you so much.  Didn't you sat that you'd never leave me?"

                "You promised me forever…"

                "YOU PROMISED ME FOREVER!"

                Tate's face was distorted, quickly becoming unrecognisable.  His once beautiful blonde curls were painted black.  His face was sheet white and the chocolate brown eyes were burning black coals.

                Cold, bony hands gripped tightly around my throat.  I scratched at his arms, hands, face – anywhere I could reach, but it was useless.  My vision blurred.

                I didn't want to die.  I didn't want to die!

                Sharp nails dug into my skin.  He was going to rip my head off!

                My eyes snapped open and I immediately began to panic when I felt something around my neck.  I tried to reach it, but realised that I was completely restrained on to a chair.

                "Help!" I screamed, but a man appeared and pressed his hand over my mouth.  I looked at him with wide eyes.

                He looked passively at me, an index finger pressed against his lips.  "No need to worry.  I’m just going to – "

                "Let her go, Charles," Nora fussed.  An annoyed look marred her perfect face.

                The man clad in a lab coat with a doctor's mask sighed and began to loosen the restraints. 

                "What is going on?  Who are you?" I demanded.

                The blonde woman answered for him instead.  "He's my good for nothing husband."

                I looked at the man again in a new light.  He seemed genuinely hurt by her statement.

                Faintly, I could hear him mutter, "I only ever wanted to make you happy."

                I slowly got off the chair and looked around me.  This must be the basement, but I had never been to this part before.  It was on the other side, slightly tucked in a corner.

                "Come, burn with me," a soft raspy female voice breathed into my ears.

                I scrambled back and saw the mother of the two girls.   Her face was just as I remembered it.  The skin was charred black with blisters still bubbling underneath her skin.  Her eyes were dull – dead and empty.  By myself, she didn't look as harmless as she did the other night.

                "Hey, blind girl," a familiar voice cackled from the side.

                The tree people from the car!  Their crazed eyes and smiles scared me.  As they approached me, I tried to back away, but realised that I was already pressed against the wall.

                "Didn't get to kill ya before, bitch," the male said.  "Gonna have fun with ya, now."

My heart was pounding in my ear.  I wasn't sure what he had even said.  There was only fear.  Eyes darting left to right, I bolted off into a random direction.  Fortunately, I saw the faint outline of the door atop the stairs.  I climbed the steps two at a time, relief and excitement blooming from within me.

As I was about to reach the top, two small identical forms popped out in front of my only path to freedom.

"Please…  Please, let me through," I begged the twins.  "I'm not going to tell anyone about this.  It'll be as if nothing happened.  Just let me through."

They sneered at me.  "No one's going to believe you, anyway.  They'll all think you're crazy!"

I took a step back.  "Why are you doing this?  Why – "

                "BOO!"  A brunette was suddenly in front of me with a crazed look on her face.

                Gasping in shock, I swiftly turned around, but the old, wooden steps was more narrow than I was used to.  My feet slipped off the edge and I tumbled down.  Pain exploded around me as I hit every step of the stairs.  Darkness clouded my vision when I finally stopped.

                Through the agony, I knew that I couldn't stay here.  It'd only get worse. 

                I slowly go to my knees.  I could feel warm liquid dribbling into my mouth.  Was me nose broken?  My next swallow was thick and overwhelmingly dominated by the taste of copper.

                I clumsily stumbled to my feet and tried to run, once more.  It didn't matter where I was going.  I crashed into support beams and wooden furniture, but nothing was going to stop me.

                Turning a corner, I tripped and fell into water.  The edges of the tub was slick.  I flailed around, trying to hold my breath, but I was winded from the fall and shock.

                Eventually, I managed to break through the surface.  Sitting in the tub, I wondered why it had felt so much deeper before.

                "He killed me in that tub," a middle-aged woman said.  Her form loomed over mine.  "All we wanted to do was help him and he killed us."

                The younger woman beside her nodded solemnly.  Blood trickled from her pale face.  "He tied me up and stabbed me – fifty-three times."  She leaned down, looking at me with her wide, dead eyes.  "Why?"

                I pushed her away and managed to tumble out of the tub – soaking wet.  Without looking back, I made my way back to the door, hoping that the twins had gotten bored and left.

                Stumbling over several small objects on the way, I still managed to safely navigate to the foot of the stairs.  It was so close.  Only a short distance left to my freedom.  Only the trek up these steps.  As soon as I had the door open, I'd be safe.

                A hand shot from underneath a table and grasped tightly on to my ankle.  I let out a shriek as my battered body crashed on to the cold, concrete.

                Futilely, I kicked my leg, trying to ward away the attacker.  I looked behind me and saw a pale deformed face with sharp teeth and a manic smile.  Two black coals stared back at me as it continued to claw at my pyjama pants.

                I kicked it with my other feet, but it only made it angry.  The smile had quickly turned into a snarl.  It sunk its claws into my skin and began to pull me under the table.

                I screamed in horror, trying to grasp anything that could possibly keep me in place.  All I could reach were old, discarded toys and a chair that promptly fell over and slid with me.

                "Go away, Thaddeus," an irritated voice said from above me.  "Go away!"

                The thing let out a whimper, let go of me, and retreated back into the darkness under the table.

                I looked at my saviour in disbelief.  The blonde woman was glaring at where Thaddeus had disappeared to, but as she turned towards me, her face softened.  She knelt down and wrapped her arms around me in a maternal gesture.

                I trembled in terror.  This was the woman who had brought me down here in the first place.  Why was she behaving this way, now?  Why was everything so confusing?  When had my life become a never-ending horror movie?

                As I drowned in my own tears of self-pity, the woman cradled me like a small infant.  Her soothing words did nothing to calm my nerves, but it managed to lull me into a fitful sleep.

~*~

                He sat inside the gazebo, looking at the night sky.  There had been a time when he'd sneak out on to the rooftop with her.  It was dangerous because of her poor sight, but she'd do it anyway.  She was a romantic.

                A smile made its way to his face.  She was always so warm and trusting.  She was everything that he had ever wanted and he had betrayed her.  Why did he kill them?  Why did it mean so much back then?

                What the fuck was he doing?

                He kicked the white wooden frame and roared in anger.  Why did he have to be trapped here?  Why couldn't be move on?  There had  to be something better than this.

                "Nora's taken Miss Madison into the basement," he heard the sultry voice tell him.

                He sighed and slumped on to the floor.  "She doesn't want to see me.  I can't…  I can't…"  Tears welled up in his eyes.  There was nothing that he could do about it.  His Madi didn't want to see him.  She wasn't his anymore.

                Moira's young, youthful face sneered at him.  "All men are the same.  Take what they want and when it doesn't go their way, they lay over and fucking die.  Fucking useless lump of flesh."

                She pressed herself against him. Her chest edging out of her tight uniform.  She raked a hand through his hair and then, he snapped.

                "Get away from me!"  His red-rimmed eyes were wide.  Only his Madi was allowed to do that!

                Moira raised a perfectly arched eyebrow at him before disappearing.

                He was breathing heavily.  That nostalgic feeling…  Nothing was going to keep him away from her.  Anyone who got in his way was going to wish that they hadn't.

                As he thought of the ways that he'd make them suffer, he arrived in the basement.  All the ghostly residents were riled up about something and he had sinking feeling that Madi was in the centre of it.

                "Madi?" he shouted into the darkness.  Concern was evident in his voice.

                He heard snickering from a corner beside him, but he ignored it.  His goal was solely to find Madi.

                "Come on, lover boy, why are you going after a little prepubescent girl when you can have me?" the newest addition to the house purred.  She approached him with eyes dark with desire.  "This house…  It makes me so horny all the time."  She ran a hand down her body and moaned.  "Your dad is a pretty poor fuck.  No wonder your mom shot him dead."

                Tate gritted his teeth and clenched his hands.  This wasn't the time to deal with pests like her.  He had something more important to do.

                "You know…  She puts up a brave front, but she's really only a scared little girl who can't even take care of herself.  And she's a liar.  She's not blind.  Probably looking for attention, isn't she?  That stupid bitch."

                The anger that he was trying so hard to suppress was quickly spewing over the edges.  He turned towards the home-wrecking bitch who was grinning cockily at him.  He'd show her that there were still rules in this house.

                "There are only two things that I hate and one is cheating cocksuckers who don't know their place."  With that, he whipped out a knife and sliced open her neck like it was butter.

                "Fu – " she gurgled.  Her eyes were wide with bewilderment.  It was always shocking dying a second time, or however many times this was now.

                He gave her limp body a kick for good measure before resuming his search.  It didn't take long.  He found Nora kneeling on the floor with a small form in her embrace.

                "She's so young and fragile…" the woman said, stroking the girl's hair.

                Madi's eyes were closed.  Her cheeks were still strained with half-dried tears.

                Gently, he gathered her into his own arms.  She stirred, but remained asleep.  He smiled as she sighed and snuggled into him.  He missed this – her body warm against his cold, dead one.

Chapter Text

                I woke up in my bed feeling exhausted.  Did last night really happen?  Perhaps it had all been a nightmare or a sick joke.  Maybe I ate something wrong.  What did I even eat last night?  Had I eaten anything? 

                Shaking my head of all the sporadic thoughts, I tried to recall the horrors.  Curiosity was plaguing me, but I was unwilling to go down to the basement to appease it.  Nothing was worth going back there.

                If it really happened, though, who brought me back here?

                I stared blankly at my own ceiling.  I couldn't stay in Violet's room.  It was too dark, messy, and unfamiliar for me.  I just needed….  I just needed…

                Something hit me in the face.  I groped at the offending object in panic and realised that it was the teddy bear.  Could it be…?

                I bolted up and looked frantically around me.  No, he wasn't there.  I shouldn't even still be thinking of him.  I Shouldn't still want him as I do now.  No matter ho much I reprimanded myself, however, I couldn't get him out of my head.

                I brought the teddy to my face and breathed in.  His scent was all over it.  It only made me miss him more.  As much as I hated what he had done to me, I couldn't help the longing that tugged at my heart.  I loved him.  I wasn't afraid to admit it to anyone.  I loved him even after he had betrayed me.  Even after everything that he had done, I wanted him to hold me close and press my ears against his chest.  It didn't matter that I wouldn't be able to hear a heartbeat.  It didn't matter that we would probably never be able to have a proper family together.  It…  it didn't even matter to me that he had killed so many people.

                It just hurt so much knowing that those nights with the rubber man had been filled with fear and guilt.  I was afraid of the stranger, so menacingly appearing out of thin air.  I felt guilty for allowing another man to touch me and even though a part of me had always known that it was him all along, it still hurt.  Why couldn't he have just told me?  I had handed him all of me on a silver platter already.

                Perhaps it was my own selfishness that took me so long to accept what everyone had been trying to tell me.  Ben had tried to keep me from him.  Violet tried to tell me what a psychopath he was, but through it all, he hadn't done me any wrong.  I didn't care, then.  I didn't care until all his lies and misdemeanors hurt me.  I had been such a selfish prat…

                Lost in my own reverie, I nearly didn't hear the doorbell.  "Violet?"  I shouted down the hall.

                No reply.  She was probably at school, again. It was a lightening thought.  I smiled at the fact that she seemed to have turned over a new leaf.  At least one of us would end up making something of herself.

                "Mom?"  I peeked into her room.  "Mom?"  She didn't stir, so I assumed that she must've still been asleep.  The baby was giving her troubles and I could hear her wandering at night, sometimes.

                I didn't like greeting people at the door because of my eyes, but…

                "Hello?"  I smiled weakly at the person in front of me.  He was definitely a man.

                "Hello, Madi," a familiar voice greeted me.  "May I come in?  I have something important to tell you.  Where are your parents?"

                I hesitated, but stepped aside to let him in.  "Ben's…  away and mom's asleep.  What did you have to say?  You could've called.  It's a pretty far drive from Boston."

                He shook his head.  "My phones are being tapped.  I'm on the run, right now."

                My eyes widened at the announcement.  Did I just let in a convict?

                "No, listen, Madi."  He put both hands on my shoulders as if afraid that I was going to run, which I very well might.  "Those pills that we have been giving you?  It's all a sham.  They don't make your eyes better.  They mutate a part of your brain.  It was all a large human experiment and you…  You are the closest thing that we have to success."  He let me go and I contemplated running to the phone to call the police, but I also wanted to know what was going on.  I had been in the dark for so long, quite literally.

                "Those pills were designed to mutate your occipital lobe and the r – "

                The doorbell rang, again. 

Why were there always so many unwanted people here?

               "Madi, stop taking them.  I was fine with it until we started noticing people dying.  It only shows in long term uses, but you're in that group, now.  Don't trust anyone from the Institution."  That was a contradictory notion in itself.  He was from the Institution.  And what did he mean that people were dying?!  Was that why I was suddenly feeling so sick? 

                There were rapid successions of knocking, now.

                "Don't answer the door, Madison.  Please.  It's them.  They've found me."

                I didn't know what to do.  He had just sprouted so much nonsense and mixed in with what happened last night, I couldn't seem to comprehend anything.  I just wanted it to all go away!

                The knocking became more persistent.

                "I…"

                Suddenly, the lock turned and we both froze.  It must be Ben.  Violet was probably still at school.  Ben was the only other person with the key.  Relief immediately filled me as the door flung open.  He'd know what to do.

                "Madison!  I know this is sudden, but – "  My face dropped.  This was not the man that I wanted to be here at this moment.  The man seemed shocked to see the other person with me.  "Jensen, what are you doing here?"

                Henderson pushed me to the side and fully stepped in without my invitation.  How did he even get a key into the house? 

                "I can ask you the same thing, Greg."  Venom dripped from Dr. White's voice.  There was a small tremour to it.  If everything that he said was true, then Henderson was exactly one of those people he'd be running away from.

                Henderson scoffed.  "Aren't you a wanted man?"

                I took several steps back from the two men.  It was clear that neither liked the other and all I wanted to do was be away from this scenario.  I had to get mom or maybe call the police.

                I should probably call the police.  They'd know what to do.  Luke would come instantly, especially if I just gave a little white lie and said mom was in trouble.  It wasn't exactly a big lie.  With these two here, mom wasn't safe.

                "Madi, come with me.  We'll go to the authorities and send his man to prison," Henderson offered with his hand extended towards me.  "Come on."

                White stepped forward as well.  "Don't listen to him.  Remember what I said."

                I looked at them in confusion.  It seemed to be all I've done lately.  "I – I'll just go upstairs to tell my mom that you're both here."  I needed an opportunity to just get to a phone.  Any phone!  Or maybe if I shouted loud enough, the neighbours would hear?  Constance was probably lurking around somewhere, but would she even help us even if she did?

                Someone like her would most likely be delighted if we all just dropped dead.  She was always pilfering things from the house, as if no one noticed.  Mom was just too much of a softy to say anything about it and Violet didn't care.  What should I do?  What should I do?

                I continued to step away, hoping to find an opening to at least warn mom.

                Unfortunately, I had to inch pass White to do so.  As I did, he grabbed my arm.  "Madi, the pills, you ca – "

                Bang!

                I screamed as a splatter of warm fluid and solids hit my face.  Frantically, I tried to rid myself of the filth, but the body toppled over, bringing me down with it.  I continued to scream until my voice was hoarse and I had no breath left.  Then, I was suffocating.  The larger body was crushing my ribs.  It pressed heavily against my lungs. 

                Henderson loomed over me with his gun will pointed at White's still form.  I knew he must've had a crazed look on his face.  "Madi, why didn't you just listen to me?  I didn't want to shoot him.  We were just going to bring him to the police, but you made me.  You're the reason he's dead." 

                My eyes widened in horror.  There were so many thoughts in my head, but I couldn't make any sense of it.  This couldn't be happening to me.  Weren't ghosts in the house enough?

                He crouched by my head and brushed my hair back.  The barrel of the gun, which was still warm was pressed again my cheek.  "This house has a great history of murder – suicides," he mumbled.  "Deranged doctor goes after his former patient…"  He cocked the gun.

                At that moment, I wasn't sure if he was referring to himself or White.  I only had one single thought left.  "TATE‼!" I screamed with the last of my breath.

                From the corner of my eye, I saw a dark figure appear.  He rushed over to Henderson, pushing the mad man away.

                Instead of cringing in fear, the doctor let out a burst of maniacal laughter.  "You're the psychopath who went on the school shooting!  I can see you!  The pills are really working!"  He grunted as his assailant punched him in the face.

               "I know about this house!" he gleefully continued.  "I kno – " He was interrupted as he was flung towards the wall.  "I KNOW!"  He pointed his gun at me, a Cheshire grin growing on his face.  The gun changed directions and he pulled the trigger.

~*~

                Tate was watching.  He was always watching.  Madi looked just as he remembered.  He smiled and brushed loose strands of hair away from her face.  She sighed and shifted to her side, causing Tate to cringe away in fear of her waking up.

                When he realised that she was still asleep, he relaxed.  It had taken him quite a while to gather enough courage to really spend time with her – even if she was only asleep. 

                He knew he was being a creep.  He knew it the very first day that she arrived at the house, but she was his addiction.  It was too late for him to give up on her, now.  He'd lurk around like he once did if he had to.

                When she woke up, he retreated into a corner.  He couldn't help the stirring inside him as she undressed and changed out of her pyjamas.  What he wouldn't give to feel her soft body pressed against him, again.  He'd worship her the way she deserved to be treated.

                Unfortunately, he didn't have long to fantasise when the doorbell rang and she scurried about looking for her sister who had already left the house an hour ago.  He was quite surprised that little Violet was actually going to school.  Who knew a lost cause like her was actually making something of herself now?  If he tried a little harder, could it have been him, too? 

                He tugged at his hair.  No, he didn't want that.  It would mean never meeting Madi.

                He made his way outside and saw an unfamiliar man.  Should he get rid of him?  He quickly reprimanded himself.  She wouldn't want him killing anyone and besides, the house was crowded enough without another person joining in, especially one who could mean his Madi harm.

                And so, he opted to continue watching.  He leaned against the wall at the entrance.  As the man grabbed Madi, he had to fold his arms to keep himself from interfering.  She wouldn't like it if he did anything.  She didn't want to see him.  He couldn't show himself to her.  He couldn't.  He couldn't.  He physically couldn't.  This stupid house and its stupid rule.  Of all things…

                The doorbell rang, again, shortly after.  It was Madi's current therapist.  There was something obviously wrong with him.  He looked as if he hadn't had any sleep.  There were dark bags beneath his eyes and his cheeks were gaunt.  He did not look well.

                Tate continued to silently observe the altercation, wishing that he could have done anything to help Madi.  She looked so small and confused.  All he wanted to do was gather her in his arms and take her away from everything.  Why couldn't she understand that he would never intentionally hurt her?  He just couldn't help himself, sometimes!  This house…  This house just messed with his head all the time.  No.  No, he was in denial.  He knew he was in denial.  His entire family was fucked up.  Addy was physically fucked up.  He was mentally fucked up.  Beau was fucked up all around. 

A loud bang that echoed in the old house pulled him from his thoughts.  The first man's head was half blown off.  The contents coated Madi's horrified form before it tumbled over, taking her with it.

                Tate felt as if he was in an invisible cage, trying desperately to get to her, but it was impossible.  He had to watch as she slowly began to panic and suffocate beneath the body.  He was helpless.  He needed her permission.  He needed her to want him, again.

                He watched in horror as the doctor pressed the gun against her head.  He was screaming at them, now – screaming and screaming and screaming.  The fucking bastard!  He was going to kill him!  He was going to rip his head off the fucker's shoulders and… and he couldn't…  The crazy asshole would be trapped in this house with his Madi.  He was going to –

                "TATE‼!"

                His necessary sharp intake of breath was caught in his chest when he heard her call for him.  In seconds, he had the doctor away from her, but the therapist surprised him.  The man wasn't afraid or shocked.  In fact, the crazy fucker was laughing!

                With a scoff, he punched him in the face.  He'd teach the asshole to be afraid of him.

                Suddenly, the bastard had the gun pointed at Madi who was still trapped under the corpse.  The mad doctor, however, had other plans.  The gun shifted directions before the trigger was pulled.

                Tate's eyes widened – more from shock than anything else.

Chapter Text

                The body was lifted off me and warm arms cradled my trembling form.  "Tate…" I sobbed, pressing my face against his shirt.

                "Madi…  Madi…"  He pulled me away and began to check me over.  "Are you okay?  Did he hurt you?  I should've –"

                I cut off his words with my lips.  He seemed surprised, but I let out all of my fear, worry, and desire into it.  He wasn't adverse to reciprocate.  The feel of his soft lips made me melt.  I'd missed the way he felt against me.  His body that was not quite body temperature, but not cold, either.  Touching him was like touching my pillow – comforting, familiar, somewhere I'd go to over and over again.

                "Madi?!"  I heard mom frantically call out to me.  "Madi, are you okay?!  I heard gun shots!"  She waddled down the stairs in a rush and spotted Tate with me.  When her eyes passed over the two dead bodies, she screamed, "What happened?  Are you okay?  Are you okay?!"

               I broke away from Tate and hugged her from the side.  "I'm okay, now.  Tate saved me.  I…  I'm not even sure what happened…"

               None of us had called the police, but one of the neighbours must have because sirens were rapidly approaching.

               Tate scurried off when the two cops arrived.  Luke, the man who seemed sweet on mom, was one of them.  He checked on her first before addressing me.

               Because of our situation – pregnant woman and a blind girl, they were very gentle with us.  Who would believe that either of us could win against two strong men?

               I told them the best I could about what happened, but I was probably as confused as they were when I finished.  They told me that I'd have to follow them to the police station.  Mom, as well.

               As I sat in an office with the police.  It felt as if I was a school girl at the principal's office for the first time.  I was nervous, anxious, and scared.  Although my mom's presence was encouraging, even I found it difficult to believe my own story.  I had told them how Dr. White had come in to warn me about the institution I was enrolled in and how Dr. Henderson stopped him with a gun before killing himself.

               I had no doubt that I had several incredulous looks thrown in my direction, but the detective promised to look into the situation.  As he reassured us that there were going to be patrol cars around the neighbourhood, Ben came in.

               He sounded like the concern husband he should've been, but I couldn't find it in myself to forgive him.  Not only had he been a negligent father and husband, he had also been the one to enroll me into the institution.  I knew that he probably didn't know the ulterior motive behind the program, but it had gotten me into this mess, nonetheless.

               As usual, mom spoke to him as if their relationship hadn't changed, at all.  It irked me to no end that it sounded as if she would take him back at any moment.

               "Come on, Madi.  Let's go home, now," Mom said, kissing the top of my head. 

               I nodded and followed her into the cruiser.  Luke was going to drive us home because mom was too pregnant to drive, now.  Ben, well…  I'm pretty sure he went on his own way to wherever he was residing.

                When I finally dragged my tired feet up to my room, I immediately collapsed on to the bed.  We had been at the police station for hours.  It was already late into the evening. 

               The bed dipped to my right and I instinctively curled up against the body. 

               "I was so scared," I whispered.  "He was crazy and I don't know what he wanted from me."

                "Don't take the medicine, anymore.  You don't know what it does.  You can't be stuck here like me, Madi.  You can't.  You can't."  His voice cracked.  Tears ran down his face.

                I pressed my cheek against his neck.  "You know, I don't think I'd mind.  I just want to stay with you forever.  I love you so, so much.  I won't be able to function without you.  If it means dying and being stuck here forever just to spend that eternity with you, I would."

               He fervently shook his head.  "No…  No…"

                "I love you, Tate," I whispered.  It didn't matter what he had done in the past, I realised.  I couldn't stop myself from loving him.  He had been the one light in my life, as ironic as that may seem. 

               With his arms around me and his comforting whispers, I was lulled into a restless slumber. 

               The Cheshire grin exposed a mouth full of sharp teeth.  His discordant voice was scratchy and irritated my ears.  Shadowed hands pressed against me from everywhere.

               All of my senses seemed overwhelmed.

               "Madi!"  I jolted up with sweat dripping down the side of my face.  It was so dark here.  It was so dark!  "Madi, I'm here!"  I jumped at the feel of hands on my cheeks.  "You're okay.  You're okay."

               Groping blindly to my side, I tried to find the lamp switch.  I couldn't seem to calm my racing heart.  The darkness…  It was just all around me.

               The room was finally illuminated with a soft glow and I went limp on the bed.   Tate's worried expression flooded my vision. 

                My lips trembled and he enveloped me into his arms.  "I think something's wrong," I whispered.  "Something's wrong with me."  I slipped away and rummaged around for the bottles of pill.  "I think it's these.  They're doing something to me and this house…  I just…" 

                Tate took the bottles from my hand and disappeared out my bedroom door.  When he came back, the bottles were empty.  "They're gone, okay?  They're never going to hurt you, again.  No one will ever hurt you.  I won't let them." 

                I nodded, but something was nagging at me.  It wasn't going to end so easily.  Nothing ever did in this house.

               Tate was laying down beside Madi, as he usually enjoyed doing, but after such a long time of abstinence, he was finally able to be near her again.  This was what he had dreamed of after being casted off.  He wasn't angry at her for doing it.  No, he was angry at himself for letting it happen – for letting it come to this. 

               Similar to the many nights he'd spent watching her, she had had a nightmare.  This time, however, she continued to fuss even after he had his arms around her.  Her fingers clawed at his shirt and arms as if she was trying to defend herself from an attacker.  The puffs of frantic breath felt uncomfortably hot against his cold skin.  She felt uncomfortable hot against him.  Was she running a fever?

               He pushed away the covers and tried to shake her awake.  Eventually, she bolted up and out of his arms.  Her eyes were wide with fear and she seemed completely disoriented as if she didn't know where she was. 

               For a moment, he thought she was still dreaming as she groped around, but when the lights flickered on, he realised that something in the darkness had frightened her.  He wasn't surprised.  This house had more secrets than even he knew.  He only wished that they could've done more to help her. 

                The next few days went by in a mellow rhythm.  Ben was adamant that he wasn't going to leave, especially after everything that happened.  He was really trying, but I couldn't rid myself of the hate for everything that he had done to us.  Mom, as usual, was far too lenient with him, and Violet?  She had met a boy at school – Jesse.

                He seemed to be good for her.  She went to school every day and came back happy.  Hopefully, she really was at school.  At least the principal stopped calling and threatening to inform social service.

                As a week came and went, however, I began to feel sick – even more than before.  I'd lose my meals minutes after eating and sometimes, I'd find myself completely blanked out or unconscious on the cold, washroom tiles.

                Tate had been continuously expressing his concerns.  The nightmares had also increased.  They frightened me to the point that I was afraid of sleeping.  Tate would stay with me throughout the night.  Sometimes, he'd even read to me.  It was endearing, especially since I knew how much he hated books.  Other times, he'd give a clumsy rendition of songs that he likes.  It was silly.

                Lately, I hadn't even had the energy to study.  It must've been a few days since I had any sleep.  I knew how worried my parents were, but I refused to see another therapist.  The last one was enough.  No more doctors.

                I coughed into the sink and rinsed off the warm substance that had lingered on my lips.  The metallic scent was telling.  Something was wrong and I wasn’t sure if anyone could help me.  I thought that everything would get better once I stopped using the pills, but that hadn't happened.

                It felt as if something cold was twisting around inside me.  It hurt.  Everything hurt.  Make it stop.  Please…  Tate, help me…

                "Madi!  Madi!"  Tate was suddenly above me, tears streaming down his face.  It was like a sad rainfall trickling down on me.  "You're awake!"  He gathered me into his arms, rocking back and forth.  "Don't do this to me."

                "'M sorry…" I mumbled.  The pain had disappeared.  I was feeling like me again.  His red-rimmed chocolate brown eyes were glazed with tears.  "I didn't mean to worry you."

                He held me close and said nothing more.

                In the following days, I noticed that my vision was getting better.  I was able to see Violet and mom and Ben.  It was all very confusing, but I was glad.  I felt like a newborn seeing everyone for the first time.  Everything was so beautiful.

                I touched the counter and tied to memorise every imperfection.  It was so fascinating and complex.  Just feeling its texture had done it no justice.  Sight was beautiful.

                "Tate, mom thinks I'm pregnant," I blurted out.  They had been having a lot of unprotected sex, but since he wasn't exactly alive, I hadn't thought anything of it, but now…  it just seemed more like a possibility.

                He looked at me with wide eyes of horror.  "W-what?  You can't be."  As he spoke, however, something in his voice told me that he knew more than what he was saying.

                "That's what I thought, too, but I've been feeling so sick recently."

                "Aren't you feeling better, now?"

                "I guess…  Maybe you're right," I conceded.  Things had been better and I didn't want to ruin it with my negative attitude.  Besides, Tate was a ghost.  It's physically impossible for him to get me pregnant.  But then again, I never thought ghosts exist until this house.  "It's gone, now.  Sorry, I've been so silly."

                He smiled.  "I don't mind a silly Madi."

                I giggled and tumbled into bed with him, my worries forgotten.

                Later that day, however, mom told me to go to the drug store for a pregnant test, just in case.  I didn't want to go.  It was embarrassing and I could just imagine what the other people would be thinking.

                The highlight was that mom trusted me enough to go out by myself.  With my new eyesight, I was going to explore.  Nowhere was safe from Madison Harmon!

                I took in the fresh air as if for the first time.

                "Wait!" I heard Tate suddenly call out.  He looked anxious.  "Don't leave me, Madi," he pleaded.  "Don't go."

                I smiled at him.  "I'll be back in half an hour.  You wouldn't even notice that I was gone."

                "I'll always notice."

               I walked over and took his hands into mine.  "I promise, I'll be quick.  I really want to see what's beyond these gates.  It's like a dream come true."

                He shook his head.  His grip was becoming painfully tight.  "Don't go.  You're not pregnant.  I swear.  You know I wouldn't lie to you."

                "Tate, it's not about that.  I don’t  even want to get the test.  I'm just really, really, really excited to see everything."

                "Madi…"  His voice cracked.  "Madi…"

                "I love you, Tate."  I pecked his lips.  "Wait for me."

                Reluctantly, he let go.  My heart grew heavy seeing him so distressed, but I didn't understand why he was so persistent.  It wasn't the first time that I've left the house.  He must've been in a bad mood.  I'd just have to make it up to him later.

                With a wide smile, I stepped out.

Chapter Text

                Tate continued to worry over her.  The nights have been growing increasingly worse.  Sometimes, he'd worry that she would hurt herself with how violently she was thrashing around, but that ended up being the least of his troubles.

                One afternoon, he spotted a glimpse of the crazy doctor.  Henderson had already stayed out of sight until that moment.  Tate followed him, wondering what he was up to.  When he saw the white powder flutter into Madi's mug, he was furious.  Unseen to the human eyes, he knocked over her mug before turning to the smirking man.

                "What have you done?!"  Tate roared at him. 

                There was no fear in the doctor's eyes.  Instead, a manic grin split across his face.  "Perhaps you should've done better than merely throwing the pills into the garbage bin.  It was really easy for me to just get it… give little Madi some extra spice to her drinks."

                Tate gritted his teeth.  He should've flushed them down the toilet instead.  He should've thrown it out beyond the gates.  Why was he so stupid?!  He clenched and unclenched his hands.  No.  No, this wasn't the time to think about that now.  The doctor needed to be punished first. 

                In a quick movement, Tate had his hand around the doctor's neck.  The infuriating smirk was still on Henderson's face until he was dragged into the basement where Tate retrieved a length of rope and tied him down against a support beam. 

                "Thaddeus!  Thaddeus!" Tate called out to the demonic infant.  "I have a new toy for you!"  An evil smirk spread across his own face.  Oh, the newcomer didn't know anything about the true horrors of this house.  What he knew had only scraped the surface.

                Infantata emerged from his hiding spot beneath the table and slowly crawled over to the laughing man who's face quickly fell as his eyes fell upon the abomination in front of him.  "What are you?!  What are you?!" he shrieked as the demon child sniffed him.

                Whatever Thaddeus smelled mustn't have been very pleasant because the claws came out and he attacked the petrified doctor.

                Tate watched, but couldn't feel any satisfaction in watching Henderson suffer.  His own guilt was plaguing his mind.  If anything happened to Madi, he wasn't sure what he'd do.  It'd be hid fault.  He should've been smarter about it.

                "My boy," Nora's airy voice wisped into his ears.  "How is my child?  Is my baby okay?"

                He didn't know what the woman was talking about.  If she was referring to him, then obviously he wasn't alright.  If she was referring to Thaddeus, he seemed to be having fun.  "Fine," he ended up spitting out. 

                He had to see Madi.  Yes, she'd calm him down.  Just being close to her always made things better, even when she didn't want to see him.  As long as she was with him, everything would be alright.

                Without another word, Tate appeared in dining room where he noticed that the Harmons had already cleaned up.  He quickly made his way to Madi's room.  It was empty.  Where could she have gone?  The longer he was away from her, the more he worried.  Maybe she was with Violet.  Maybe she was with her mother.  Maybe…  Maybe she was in the bathroom.  Yes, that must've been it.  Madi was in the bathroom.  He'd just have to wait for her to come out.  He knew how she liked to have her privacy in there sometimes.

                He loitered inconspicuously in front of the bathroom for at least ten minutes before the worry set in once more.  "Madi?" he called out, knocking on the door.

                There was no reply.

                "Madi, are you okay?" 

                Nothing.

                He paced the corridor one last time before appearing inside.  A waft of coppery scent assaulted his nose.  His eyes trailed to the sink, spotted with red before following the trail down to the white porcelain tiles where a small body laid motionless. 

                "… Madi…?"  If his undead heart hadn't already stopped years ago, it would've at that very moment.  "Madi…" 

                He dropped to his knees and brushed away the tendrils of hair over her face.  Her lips were painted red.  The half-dried stain had dribbled down the side of her face and chin.  "Madi, wake up."  He gently shook her.  It always took a little while to wake her.  "Come on, your back is going to hurt in the morning if you don't get off the floor."

                No matter what he did, she remained still, but he kept trying and trying.  Ten minutes had soon come and gone.  She had never been out for so long.  "Wake up!" he shouted.  "Madi!  Madi!"

                He curled up and laid his head on her chest.  It was quiet.  It was quiet as no one moved.  It was quiet as he silently sobbed.  It was quiet as her heart no longer beat.

I stepped out and saw Tate's teary face staring back at me.  I was confused.  I turned and stepped out, again.  "W-what…?  I don't understand…"

I stared at him with wide eyes.  "I don't understand!  What's happening?!"  Why wasn't I looking beyond the gate where I knew a whole new world would greet me?  Why was I stuck with the same image of the old house instead?

                Tate rushed over to me and lead me back inside just as I was about to collapse.

                "Tate, I'm so confused," I whimpered.  "Why can't I leave?"  It wasn't fair!  I just had my sight back!

                His lips trembled.  "I'm sorry, Madi."

                The look on his face made my heart stop or…  was it already dead?  "Why?"  My own tears were already pouring down my face.  "When?"

                "It was that bastard!  I found him putting the fucking pills in your drinks.  He knew.  He fucking killed himself in the house.  He knew!  I dragged him to the basement and I – "  He stopped, looking ashamed.  "I had to Madi.  He needed to suffer for hurting you.  For what he'd done.  When I found you…"  At this point, I didn't even care about what he did to the ghost.  That doctor had ruined my life!  He had…  He had robbed me of my future!

                "You were passed out…  I – I thought it was just like before, but you were so cold.  I didn't get to you in time.  I failed you.  I failed you, Madi," he sobbed, tugging vicious at his own hair. 

                I should've known it was too good to be true.  Having my sight back was a miracle that I could only gain through death.  Why did I ever think that everything was going to be alright?

"Madi?"  He was getting worried of her silence.  Was she angry at him?  No, he wouldn't let her leave.  She was his.  "Don't leave me."  He smashed her lips against his, ignoring her struggles and protests.

                She finally managed to push him away.  "Stop!"

                "No…  No, don't leave me.  Don't do this.  I love you, Madi," he babbled.

                "Stop, Tate!  Stop!"

                "No!" he cried.

                "Tate!  Tate!"  She grabbed his face, so that he was looking straight into her eyes.  "I'm not going to leave you.  I'm just really confused and scared and…  and dead!"  She rested her hand on his shoulder.  "All I know is that I love you, Tate, and I always will, so stop freaking yourself out."

                He looked at her with wide, watery eyes.  "I love you, too, Madi."

                They held each other for the rest of the day.

                "My family…  They can't stay here," she whispered.  "This house is toxic.  I don't want them to die.  I don't want them to be stuck here forever.  Violet just got a boyfriend.  Mom's pregnant.  Ben…  I think he really wants to turn over a new leaf."

                "I'll help you," he promised.  He knew how much it would hurt her if anything happened to them.  Even though he had promised Nora a baby, he had to get his priorities straight.  He could always wait for another baby to come by, but there was only one Madi.  His Madi.

                Once they had a plan, they quickly worked on it the next day.  Tate had retrieved her body, which was frozen in a cooler in the basement.  It still looked perfectly intact, but it was difficult for him to look.  The way he found her in the washroom floor kept playing itself in his mind.  His hands shook as he positioned her corpse in the living room.

                Once done, he called Madi over to briefly check.  She nodded without caring.  It was the first time she had a glimpse of her physical body since dying.  The concept of ghosts never felt so odd.  The body in front of her felt more like a twin than what was actually once hers.

                She turned her head away and wrote down a quick note.  Everything was set.  Now, her family just needed to heed the warning.

               Vivien waddled down the stairs to get something to eat when something caught her eye – something out of place.  She slowly approached the living room before screaming in terror.  "Madison!  Oh, sweetheart.  No…  No…  Not my baby!"  How could this have happened?  Her girl had only just gained her eyesight back.  Why would this happen to her?  She didn't have any enemies.  She barely even went out!  Why…  WHY?!

                Her scream had caught the attention of her husband and other daughter.  They gasped and knelt beside her.  They felt how cold her body was.  How still Madison remained as they looked on with disbelief.

               Ben gathered his wife into his arms, trying to shield her from the horrible sight, as her knees buckled beneath her.

                "Mom, there's a note."  Violet's voice was soft.  Her eyes wide as she tried to comprehend what was in front of her.  Madison was her sister.  She had been the goody-two shoes of the family.  She did no wrong.  "This house is mine.  I've made her an example of what will happen to all of you if you don't leave.  Next will be your other daughter.  I'll hang her by her hair and skin her, then I'll carve that unborn babe out of that juicy woman.  Ben, do you let your eyes wander?  I'll gauge them from your socket and stuff them down your throat.  I will visit again in three days."

                Vivien covered her mouth and shook her head.  A sudden rack of pain hit her.  She cried when a rush of wetness soaked into her pants.  "The baby!  The baby!"

                Madi made to help her mother, but Tate held her back, cradling her in his arms.  " She'll be fine.  She's not alone."

                "I know.  It's just so hard seeing her like this."

                Within a day, Ben had packed everything while Violet stayed with Vivien at the hospital.  She had given birth to twins.  One had been a stillborn, but the other was healthy.  His new son was perfect.  They had decided on the name:  Michael Madison Harmon.  He prayed that his son could be just like his Madi – morally, intellectually…

                Tears welled up in his eyes.  He sat heavily on the couch.  She had always been so passionate – so full of fight.  Why did it have to happen to her?

                He wondered if she had ever forgiven him in the end.  It was his fault that they moved from Boston.  It was his fault that there was always so much tension in the house.  There was so much time wasted between all of them.  All the happy times they could've had instead.

                Suddenly, there was a crinkle of paper floating down.

                'I love you, dad.  I wish I could've had this talk with you.  Please take care of mom and Violet and my baby brother.  Goodbye.'

                A sob left his lips.  "I love you, too, baby.  Daddy will always love you.  I'm so sorry."

                Madi silently cried as her father left.  She was never going to see them, again.

                A hand wiped away her tears.  She looked into his warm eyes and smiled softly.

                It was done.  Her family was away from the Murder House and she had the one person that she would spend an eternity with.

                "I love you, Tate."

                In the basement, Nora was gliding around.  A small smile graced her lips.  "My baby…  My baby…"