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Visions of Fire

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“Okay Mr. Castellanos, you are here because of a recommendation yes?”

“...”

The man let out a small sigh.

“Listen, I understand not wanting to be here. A lot of people are embarrassed by seeing a therapist but you don’t have to feel that way with me Sebastian.” He shifted in his seat woodenly. “I’m here to help free you from anything that’s eating away at your mind, heck just pretend I’m not here and talk to yourself!” he chuckled awkwardly.

Sebastian’s fingers were linked and supported his head. His tired eyes stared at the faded blue wallpaper. After a few more seconds of silence, he stood and walked toward the window behind them.

“Tell me doc..” the therapist squirmed in his chair. “What makes you think YOU are going to be the one that cures me hmm? Whatever I have, cannot. be. cured, fuck I don’t even think a priest can help me at this point,” he huffed out while throwing his hands in the air.

Sebastian’s head tilt ever so slightly in the direction of the therapist. He stalked back over to his chair and sat down making sure to lean forward so he was closer to the man’s face.

“I am not a mental case. You are not going to be able to help me,” he hissed making the therapist flinch a bit.

The man peered down at his blank paged notebook and clicked his pen. Sebastian slunk into his chair and relaxed a little.

“Well Sebastian, you’ve made it pretty clear that you have no mental illness, so can you tell me what IS wrong with you?” he asked cautiously.

Sebastian raised an eyebrow and half a smirk stretched across his rugged face.

He pursed his lips in amusement. “Alright. You want me to tell you? Fine, you won’t believe me. Just like the rest of them.”

“Try me.”

The chair creaked as Sebastian leaned forward.

“Can you be haunted by a place?”

The doctor held his breath.

“Can Hell itself, haunt you? Hmm doc?” His arms crossed “What do your notes say about that?” he questioned heatedly.

A veil of silence fell upon the room save the rhythmic ticks of the clock on the wall.

The doctor finally began to move again and took his glasses off to clean them.

“That’s odd”.

“What’s odd?”

“You are the second person to tell me that they felt as if they were haunted by a place”.

“Who the fuck is the first?!” Sebastian exclaimed.

“It’s confidential but I feel like this may help you. Strangely enough, you have that same frazzled look in your eye. Like you permanently saw a ghost,” he observed.

“Goddamn it just tell me already!”

The therapist stared with an unreadable expression.

“Someone named... Joseph Oda.”

Chapter Text

Every night it was the same. No matter how much whiskey he forced down his gullet, it was the same exact thing. That same haunted face staring back at him with no emotion. Ruvik. Almost every time Sebastian would fall asleep, Ruvik and that dilapidated asylum were always swimming through the amalgamation that was Sebastian’s damaged psyche. This wasn’t just a simple dream though. This felt real. He could feel every touch, raspy breath, and assault under the gaze of the deluded man; studying him like a specimen in a Petri dish.

Most of his doctors told him it was sleep paralysis but Sebastian didn’t believe that for a second. He knew how Ruvik worked. Somehow that bastard wormed himself into Sebastian’s brain and gave no sign of eviction. Perhaps they were right though. Sebastian’s mental health was nothing short of a chaotic mess. It’s a pretty fair assumption that he may be hallucinating a psychotic scientist observing him while he slept. He had to stay strong though, for her.

The mobile phone on the nightstand vibrated against the oak eventually hitting up against the metal base of a lamp. Sebastian woke with a small gasp and frantically searched for the source of the sound. Once he found the phone and put it on snooze, he laid his head back down and had a thirty minute fight trying to keep his eyelids open. He checked the phone again and it read 6:03. Lily was probably finished getting ready and headed downstairs for breakfast. Begrudgingly, he sat up in his bed while rubbing the sleep out of his eyes and threw the covers off to get ready so he could send Lily off for the bus.

***

Lily munched groggily on her bowl of cereal while Sebastian nibbled on a piece of toast as he held his phone in his free hand. His fingers kept tracing the numbers on the screen, contemplating on whether or not to call the number. Lily seemed to notice his actions and lightly tapped the table’s surface to get his attention.

“Dad?” she asked quietly. “Are you okay?”

Sebastian gave her a sad smile and put his larger hand over hers. “Yeah, I’m fine sweetie, just spacing out I guess,” he murmured.

Her gaze dropped to the table, unsatisfied with the answer he gave her. Lily was smart, she could pick up on how someone was feeling. Sebastian knew that she knew so he did his best to lift his mood. He stood up and grabbed something with a loud plastic wrapper from the counter.

“Here,” he placed the item next to her bowl of cereal. “I got you a honey bun on the way home yesterday, you can have it now or for lunch. Up to you,” he added.

“Thanks dad, I’ll save it for lunch. Their dessert options suck,” she mumbled as she put the treat in the front pocket of her backpack.

Sebastian chuckled lightly. “Just make sure it doesn’t get squished, that’d be gross right? Nothing worse than a flattened lunch,” he smiled.

“Eh, wouldn’t be the first time. You tend to put my soda on top of my sandwich. I might as well eat baloney flavored paper.”

Sebastian scoffed and lifted his eyebrow at her. “As long as it makes a turd, it’s good to eat.”

“Eww dad! That’s freaking gross!” she said between laughs. Sebastian laughed too and teasingly messed up her hair.

The sound of brakes made both of them turn their heads in unison. Lily threw her backpack on and made toward the door but not before a cough stopped her.

“Where’s my goodbye at little miss?” Sebastian sing-songed.

“Dad I’m going to miss the bus,” she said with a slight tone of panic.

“Ah, no you won’t. Just wanted to say goodbye is all. I love you,” he whispered while gently poking her nose. Lily smiled and broke away to head for the door.

“I love you too dad. I’ll see you later!” she shouted as she neared the door.

When the door slammed shut Sebastian was immediately aware of how alone he was. It was good she was adjusting to a normal life, he just wished he could do the same.

***

An hour went by since Lily left for school and Sebastian’s fingers were still lingering over his phone, debating on whether or not to call the number. He anxiously bit on one of his fingernails as his brain did somersaults. If he called, there would probably be a whole floodgate of problems that would break and destroy the peace he had finally earned. If he didn’t, he would never know what happened to his oldest friend Joseph. Sebastian couldn’t let him go. Knowing he was alive out there somewhere and might need his help.

Hesitantly, he flipped the phone over in his palm and gently pressed the call button. The dial tone made his blood pressure rise and his hand tremble slightly as he raised it to the side of his face. He swallowed hard and readied himself for impact.

The person on the other end finally answered after a second of silence. “...Sebastian? Is that you?”

“Kidman”, he replied. “Tell me everything you know about Joseph.”

It was silent minus a little sigh Sebastian could hear. “Is this about the therapist?” she asked cautiously.

Sebastian sat up straight in his chair and squinted his eyes. “Wait, you knew about that?”

“Yes Sebastian. I’m the one who slipped his business card under your door,” she answered with a bored tone. “That’s not important right now though. What did he tell you?” she asked excitedly.

“Well,” he started suspiciously. “This mystery man seems to know something about Joseph. He wouldn’t tell me though, he was just kinda cryptic.”

Kidman huffed into the phone. “Yep that’s Dennis for ya. Old bastard hasn’t changed at all.”

“Dennis? His name wasn’t Dennis though, the card said Henry Vause. Who are you talking about?” he asked as he leaned forward and let his elbows support the weight of his upper body. “Kidman, I’m not in the mood for head games. Tell me how it is or I’m hanging up.”

There was a short silence.

“Kidman!” The grip he had on his phone caused his knuckles to slightly turn white.

“Jesus Seb, let me collect my thoughts first! I’m going to tell you, just hold on to your ass cheeks,” she replied with a slight edge to her voice. Sebastian could hear paper crunching on the line.

“What the hell are you doing?” he asked impatiently.

“What?” she asked. “I’m throwing away my wrappers from Taco Bell. It’s lunchtime for me.”

Sebastian rolled his eyes so hard it hurt. “Are you serious? It’s not even close to lunch.”

“Yeah I’m enjoying myself for once, now do you want to know about this or not?”

“Yes. Tell me what you know.”

She sighed. “Dennis is his real name. Henry Vause is an alias he made up so they wouldn’t go looking for him.”

“They? Who’s they?” Sebastian interrupted.

“I’m getting to that Seb,” she replied. “Dennis used to work at Mobius with me, he was the therapist that we would all see before our ‘training’. By training I mean brainwashing pretty much. They make you think that you’re actually doing something with your life and that you are helping the greater good...”.

Sebastian raised an eyebrow. “...okay?”

“Sorry, I lost my train of thought. Um, oh yeah! Dennis might have had Joseph as a patient. He just recently escaped Mobius like me, so he was still with them at the time Joseph disappeared. Well he didn’t really disappear, Mobius took him. This means we at least know which branch he’s being held at. It’s relatively close but these places are usually pretty clandestine. Finding the exact location may be tricky. They like to hide. Did Dennis tell you anything else?” she asked after taking a deep breath.

Sebastian’s head was spinning with this overflowing slew of information. He pinched the bridge between his tired eyes. “No, he just pointed out how similar Joseph and I acted. I.. may have gotten a little too excited though and I think I scared him. They kicked me out before I could ask anything else.”

Kidman groaned. “Seb you dumbass. You need to get another appointment with him! He’s the only one that might know where Joseph is!”

“Okay okay! I’ll schedule another appointment with him,” he said tiredly.

“Good, we need all the info we can get. This might be dangerous though Seb, what about Lily?”

Sebastian smacked himself in the head. Shit. He forgot that he can’t just go and get himself killed anymore. He had a daughter to go home to. He had a reason to live now.

“I’ll have to talk to her about it, see what she thinks. Oh and I wanted to ask you some—“ he cut off abruptly.

Sebastian watched the hairs on his forearm rise slowly. The hue in the room changed from a dull gray to a vibrant blue. His brain throbbed and swam around in his skull as if it were in a fishbowl. Kidman’s voice was still heard through the piercing sound that cut through the silence of the usually calm house.

“Seb? Seb? Sebastian! Are you okay?! Sebastian! Answer me!” she demanded.

“Juli, I’m going to have to call you back,” he replied calmly. “I have a bit of a situation here.”

Standing in front of him was a small, pale boy. Clad in a filthy white uniform that belonged to an asylum and completely bare feet, the body of Leslie Withers stood only a few feet away behind the table. This wasn’t Leslie though. No, it was the bastard that started all of this. The reason he couldn’t sleep at night, why he couldn’t hold down a normal job, why he was viewed at as a crazed lunatic, why he would never live normally again. It was none other than Ruben Victoriano looming in the dark. He came to know him as Ruvik though, the virus in the system. The psychotic killer that created STEM.

He moved closer slowly before he abruptly teleported within inches of Sebastian’s stiff form. Ruvik leaned down to look Sebastian in the eye.

He gave a dark chuckle. “So, you can finally see me Seb? Miss me?”

Sebastian’s phone plummeted to the cold floor and skidded across the tile until it disappeared into the shadows of the early morning.

Chapter Text

Still frozen in the chair, Sebastian made no effort to move. His body wasn’t working with his brain and only the rapid beat of his heart made it feel like his chest was expanding. His hand gripped the edge of the table as Ruvik eyed him down curiously.

Ruvik’s eyes wandered all over his body, stopping on Sebastian’s petrified face. It was as if he was some sort of lab specimen being ready to be dissected. The exact thing happened when he dreamed. It was a dream... right?

“Like a fine wine Seb, I see you’ve aged. Though I do notice more lines on your face. Stress perhaps?” he asked calmly.

Sebastian blinked in confusion. Then he felt an age old rage build up from the bowels of his mind. He stood and then towered over the small albino kid. “You have some fucking nerve coming here and telling me I have fucking wrinkles on my face!” he huffed into his stone cold face.

Something caught his eye on the table. It was an arm. It was HIS arm, lying still on the table attached to the rest of his body. It remained facedown on the table motionless and panic began to override his senses. His eyes widened and then he turned to see Ruvik slightly smirking.

“What the fuck did you do to me!?” he yelled while he grabbed the dirty uniform so he could pull Ruvik up closer to his face. “Am I dead?!” He pointed at his own body sprawled on the table.

It wasn’t Ruvik he was screaming at though. Where once burnt and charred skin was, smooth youthful skin covered his face. It was Leslie. This was Leslie’s body and Sebastian couldn’t help but lessen his grip on him. Those eyes though, they weren’t his. They were cold and calculating like a hawk, waiting for its time to strike.

“Well? What did you do to me?” he asked while shaking the little body erratically.

Ruvik peered behind Sebastian’s shoulder at the still form. “Why don’t you get a closer inspection Sebastian?” His eyes were full of mischief.

Sebastian eyed him cautiously then violently shoved him towards the counters and slowly crept to his own body. He watched closely then noticed the body’s back moving up and down in a rhythmic fashion. He wasn’t dead.

“I’m... asleep?” he asked quietly to himself.

“Yes,” Ruvik chimed in. Evidently he heard Sebastian’s inquiries. “This is your astral form, I put you to sleep so that I could speak with you,” he explained with a deadpan face.

Looking at the petite pale man set off a ticking time bomb within Sebastian’s head. His calloused hands went straight to his head and pulled at the dark hair, threatening to pull it out. Images of blood, guts, gray matter, twisted and demented creatures flashed through his head as the events of Beacon flooded his senses. He could still smell the coppery scent of the blood, he could still feel his blood-soaked clothes clinging to his body making him feel sticky and sick. Bile began to rise in the back of his throat making his jaw clamp tightly shut. His whole body doubled over as he relived everything.

Ruvik observed quietly and waited for the fit to be over. He curiously placed a finger on the top of Sebastian’s head waiting for some kind of reaction. A hand wrapped tightly around his wrist making him instinctively try to pull it back. Sebastian’s head snapped up and he gritted his teeth. Before Ruvik could pull his hand away, Sebastian shoved him on the floor and wrapped his hands around his small white neck.

Sebastian tightened his grip trying to evoke some kind of emotion out of the psychotic son of a bitch. There was nothing but soft gasps and Ruvik’s tiny hands clawing at his own.

“How can you act like that? Like you didn’t put me through the deepest level of hell? Do you know what you’ve done to me?!” he shouted in Ruvik’s face making him flinch. “I will never be normal again and it’s because of you!”

Tears began to spill from his eyes and go down his cheeks in streams. Mostly out of anger but there was also something else lingering with it. The grief that had buried itself for years. Sebastian hadn’t cried since he lost Myra. These emotions were thrown into the back of his head, bottled up until they were filled to the brim. They were finally spilling over and flooding out all other senses.

He released his grip on his neck and fell back so he was sitting next to Ruvik’s legs. He quietly covered his head with his arms and sobbed. Ruvik’s eyes went wide with astonishment as they darted to watch the man sitting beside him. He rubbed gently at the bruises forming around his thin neck.

“Why me? Why does life love fucking me up the ass? Am I that shitty of a person?” he asked through wracked sobs. “What did I do to deserve this?!” He peered up at Ruvik with a tear-stained face.

***

Ruvik was speechless. This is not anything close to what he expected Sebastian to do. He had predicted the violent tendencies but nothing like this. The last thing he expected him to do was have a mental breakdown. He knew Sebastian to be the strong type, all brawn and no brain. He was in his mind after all; you find out a lot about someone in those circumstances. Sebastian was also very similar to himself. They both didn’t know how to deal with these emotions. Why they didn’t is different but they both didn’t face them in a healthy way. Ruvik didn’t ever understand them or knew how to react to them appropriately and Sebastian turned to alcohol to drown them.

Sebastian’s silence alerted him out of his inner thinkings. He found himself reaching out to gently touch his shoulder but was smacked away before he could.

“Don’t fucking touch me freak!” he practically growled.

Ruvik retracted his hand and rubbed where he swatted at him. “Sebastian, I didn’t come here to torture you like this. Well, I’ve been here for quite some time but that’s for a differ—“

“Wait, what?” Sebastian asked.

Ruvik gulped and scratched the back of his head.

“I will explain myself later. It is rather complicated and I need to tell you something.”

“What could you possibly have to tell me?” Sebastian scoffed.

“I may know where Joseph is.”

Sebastian perked up enough to stop sniffling. Ruvik sighed.

“That’s one of the reasons I revealed myself to you but I may also need your help. You see, Joseph may be in a facility on the outskirts of town... along with my body.”

“Your body?”

“Yes, My body. This is merely my astral form. The vessel I chose is in a sort of coma-like state as of now. You may have seen me appear in the the same plane you thrive on or when you dream. I’ve been with you this entire time Sebastian,” he explained carefully.

There was steam pouring from Sebastian’s ears from the fast working of the cogs in his brain. “What...”

“You went into STEM again. I was with you. I didn’t want to reveal myself just yet though so I tried giving small hints that obviously went over your little head,” he stated.

“Hints? I don’t understand. I didn't see you anywhere in there.” His voice was full of confusion. Ruvik found it endearing and chuckled.

“The teleporting of that deranged artist? The wardrobe of your wife? The flames and memories of Beacon from that insane zealot? Nothing reminded you of me?” he asked while trying to read Sebastian’s expression.

“Why haven’t you tried to kill me? I thought you hated me?”

“No I don’t hate you Sebastian, I hate myself. I was trapped within the confines of my own twisted perception of my memories. I was just a brain in a tube. Everything I worked for, gone—“

“You killed people though,” Sebastian stated.

“You think I don’t know that? It obviously haunted me for years in that hell. My sins caught up to me and manifested into the patients I had tortured. I was... wrong.”

Sebastian lifted an eyebrow. “Why the sudden change of heart hmm? Trying to trick me into thinking you’ve actually changed?”

Ruvik went silent for a time.

“See? You’re still a piece of shit, like me,” Sebastian huffed as he lifted himself off the ground.

Ruvik’s eyes stared at the floor then slowly peered up at Sebastian standing over him.

“I... do think I’ve changed though. I think it’s because of him.”

“Him?” Sebastian’s voice was suddenly small. “You mean.. Leslie?”

Ruvik grunted in agreement. “I believe we merged into the same person that day. You wouldn’t be able to know where I end and where he begins. We are just one homogeneous being.”

Sebastian scratched at the thick stubble that lined his chin. “So why aren’t you in his body? Wasn’t that the whole point? I mean you are but obviously you’re a weird ghost thing.”

“Something went wrong I suppose, the connection wasn’t entirely made between body and soul. I must have lost my way. I tried finding it several times, but I couldn’t ever locate it. I do have a prediction on where it may be.”

“Why did you stay at my house though? Don’t you think that’s weird considering you tried to kill me?” Sebastian asked.

“You’re the only person I know that’s alive”. He twiddled with the fabric of his shirt, pulling at it in embarrassment.

Sebastian’s eyes softened a bit and he let out a small sigh. “Fine. I’ll help you, as long as you help me find Joseph though. This doesn’t mean we’re buddy-buddy though. I’m just using you as a means to finding my friend, got that?”

Ruvik had a very small grin spread across his face before he stood up and his usual scowl replaced it. His small frame made him far less intimidating as he stood in front of Sebastian’s much taller one. “So, do we have a deal Sebastian?”

Hesitantly, Sebastian stretched his arm out with his palm wide open. “Deal, freak.”

Ruvik stared down at the hand like it was a foreign object. Sebastian huffed and grabbed his small hand to shake it. “It’s a handshake Ruvik, it’s not going to kill ya for Christ’s sake.”

Ruvik rolled his eyes and grabbed Sebastian’s head with both hands. It was strangely intimate and made Sebastian’s stomach flip. “What the fuck are you doing—“

***

With a loud gasp, Sebastian was jolted awake. Everything was in the same place it had normally been, nothing was blue anymore. Ruvik was gone. Sebastian questioned if the event even happened. Did he hallucinate the whole thing? It was so real feeling though.

He shook the sleep out of his head and stood up looking for his phone. It was hiding beneath one of the chairs with its screen lighting up every few seconds. He bent down and grabbed it. The screen was littered in notifications. Kidman sent about seventeen messages, all with an increasingly panicked tone.

“Sorry fell asleep. Thanks for your help Kidman.”

He pressed send and stuffed the phone hastily in his front pocket. The confusion still swimming around in his head caused a piercing headache to form at his temples. Was that really Ruvik? Kidman told him that he had died. Unless she lied of course. There really was no one he could trust anymore, no one except his daughter.

His joints began to protest from standing in the same place for too long. He really was getting too old. Too old to be doing this shit. He sighed and made his way to the living room to watch his afternoon shows. A nice calm before the storm.

Chapter Text

In the days following Sebastian’s odd reunion with Ruvik, he couldn’t get a hold of Kidman at all. It was as if she fell off the face of the earth and took a spaceship to the next galaxy. There was no clues on where she went off to either, she just vanished.

Sebastian found this extremely suspicious, what could she even be hiding from him? It was almost as if she knew of Ruvik being alive somehow. Perhaps she knew the whole time and was hoping he’d never find out? Well, he found out without even wanting to. Now she turned up missing when he needed her most. Typical.

Unfortunately, Sebastian would have to rely on the phantom of Beacon mental hospital to assist him. How the hell was this even going to work? He was a goddamn ghost for Christ’s sake. He would come in handy for going through locked doors though. Where was he even going to start?

Lily had been through enough with Union, so Sebastian thought it most wise to send her over to her Grandma’s house for a few days. Just until he could at least find this place. It was supposedly on the outskirts of the city, close to the lake. Why would they have a Mobius facility so far from the city? Easier testing maybe without any risks of being found out.

Whatever the reason, this was going to be the last and final run in with Mobius. Whether Joseph is found or not, he wasn’t going to stick his neck out any further. He finally had his daughter back and he would like to live his the rest of his life in chaotic peace.

***

The morning that Lily had to leave came all too fast. The night before he explained to her as vaguely as possible where he was going. He had told her that he was going out to meet a friend that he hadn’t seen in years that happened to be a few hours drive away. Also that she needed to spend time with her Grandparents. She seemed to buy it, but with Lily it is hard to tell what she is thinking. With her being the top of her class, she could easily pick out when he was lying or not. This time he hoped she fell for the little white lie.

Sebastian poked his head in her room to find her sluggishly collecting the last bit of her belongings. Her black hair obscured her face but even then Sebastian could see the corners of her mouth drooping along with her eyelids. He opened the door all the way and tapped on the wall adjacent to the door to get her attention. She turned to look at him with pouty lips. Sebastian’s heart dropped but this was what was best for her.

“Hey,” he murmured softly. “It’ll only be a few days alright? When you come back, we’ll have a movie night. I’ll buy you any candy you want, how does that sound?”

She lowered her head and glanced over at her small desk which was littered with an assortment different colored papers.

Sebastian craned his neck to get a closer look. “What’s that sweetie?” he asked gently.

“It’s my stupid science fair project. I don’t know what topic to choose. Everyone already picked all the cool ones,” she pouted.

“Oh come on now, there’s a lot of cool things to do with science!” He thought for a second. “Uh... I can’t think of any off the top of my head but I’ll help you when we get back alright?”

“We?” she asked curiously.

Shit.

“I-I mean ‘when I get back’. When I get back we’ll work on your project together alright?”

She gave him a small smile. “Okay dad. Thanks.”

A car horn honked abruptly scaring both of them.

“That must be Grandpa.” He strode over to where she was and knelt down to her level. “You have a good time alright? It’s only a few days, if you really need me I’m only a phone call away. I love you so much.” He wrapped his arms around her tightly and gave a kiss on the top of her raven hair. When he let go, she grabbed her small purple suit case and made for the front door.

Sebastian stood watching from behind the screen door. The doors shut on the car and he waved at her and his parents as they drove out of the driveway. He watched until their car disappeared off the road and all that was left were the beams of the sun peaking over the horizon.

“It’s hard to let go. I know.” A raspy voice stated in his ear.

Sebastian gasped so hard he started to choke on the quickly inhaled air. Ruvik stood next to him with his lips pressed in a thin line. “I didn’t mean to frighten you, I suspected you knew of my presence by now,” he said calmly.

“I thought that was when I was asleep! Jesus Christ I think I shit my pants a little. How can I see you right now?” he asked exasperated.

“I told you, I can weave in and out of this realm and the other. There are drawbacks though when I stay in this one too long.”

“Like what?” Sebastian asked annoyed.

“People can see me. I hate people. I also begin to fade faster. If I don’t get to my body soon, the link between it and myself will die and so will I. I would hope they have my body on some sort of life support though.” His voice trailed off.

“That sounds rough. So were you here the entire time?”

Ruvik groaned. “Sebastian, do you not listen? I told you, I am with you all the time. I see everything.”

Sebastian’s nose wrinkled slightly. “Well that’s disturbing to know.”

“I give privacy when it’s needed,” he retorted. “Oh and what’s this with your daughter needing help with a science project?”

“I thought you just said you didn’t invade our privacy?” Sebastian asked.

“I didn’t think it was that private of a matter and as you know I have knowledge of the sciences. Perhaps I could help he—“

“No thank you,” Sebastian interrupted. “This is a family matter and I don’t think you’re qualified AT ALL. At this point you’re just a weird ghost problem that I can’t get rid of. Leave her alone.”

“Fine. I won’t pry.”

“Good.”

With that, Sebastian closed the door and locked it then sauntered over to the living room to get a few moments of peace.

***

From the time Lily left, Sebastian lazed around and watched tv most of the day. He ordered takeout for himself and rented a new movie. The silence of the house always made him feel empty and lonely. It made him think of Myra and it stung like flesh on a burner. His only companionship now was the tv and maybe the stupid spirit who followed him around like a naive puppy. Ruvik wasn’t naive though. If Sebastian knew any better, he’d say the kid was lonely too. He’d probably never admit that though.

Watching the screen was becoming more and more of a chore for his drooping eyelids. His body sunk deeper and deeper into the couch as the weight of tiredness pressed down on him. Eventually, his head tilted to one side and he finally lost his battle. The tv drowned out his soft snores.

For what seemed like a minute, an hour had actually passed by and he struggled to open his eyes. Through the blurriness, he could vaguely see a white blob sitting on the couch next to him. He blinked the sleep away and instantly recognized the blob and groaned.

“What do you want now?” he mumbled.

Ruvik sat next to him with his legs drawn up to his chest which made him appear even smaller than he was. “Nothing. I was watching television with you. How do you do this for hours? I felt dumber after doing so.”

Sebastian straightened himself a bit and scowled. “You calling me stupid? Also I’m dead inside so that’s probably why. Why are you watching me sleep?” he asked suspiciously.

“I told you. I was watching the movie— uh show I mean, whatever this is,” he said while motioning his hands at the tv.

Sebastian squinted his eyes. “Then why the hell was your face the first thing I saw when I woke up? I told you no fuckin’ funny business!”

Ruvik’s eyes shifted nervously under Sebastian’s gaze.

“Ruvik...” Sebastian warned.

“I don’t plan on doing anything to you. I swear,” he said anxiously.

“Then why the hell—“

“It’s nothing! It’s nothing important. Just drop it,” he said embarrassed.

Sebastian watched as a... blush? Ruvik can blush?! It traveled from his neck to the tops of his cheeks.

“You might want a napkin or something,” he added. “You’re drooling.” His voice was now muffled by the fabric of his shirt he was shoving his head in.

Sebastian stared blankly at the curled up ball on the end of the couch. Why in the hell was Ruvik acting like this?

Sebastian used the back of his long sleeved shirt to wipe away the drying spit that went down his chin. “You’re fuckin’ weird. Well if that’s it, I’m going back to sleep. Be ready, we’re leaving in the morning. If you don’t come, I’ll just go back to that therapist guy. Got it?”

“Fine,” Ruvik glowered and teleported away in a blue static.

Was this even the same person that had no problem splattering his head for fun?

Chapter Text

Although the weather had been calm and peaceful, Sebastian could feel a storm within himself. His intestines curled into knots and he felt nauseous as he stared intently at his already packed suitcase, filled with only a few small things. Today he would leave to find Joseph. Ruvik would accompany him too, though at this point he didn’t feel like he had a choice in the matter. The little shit followed him everywhere he went.

He swiveled his head around the bedroom to spot any traces of Ruvik. Of course when he wanted to discuss something with him he was no where to be found. He sighed heavily.

“Ruvik!” he shouted loud enough for a small echo. “Are you coming or not?”

The sound of the clock’s ticking on the wall was the only thing Sebastian heard along with the ruffling of the comforter beneath him.

He made a frustrated growl. “Ruvik! Show your ass right now or I’m going to kick it!”

“Show you my ass? Whatever for?” Ruvik cooed behind Sebastian on the opposite side of the bed.

Sebastian frowned. “You show me your ass literally and I’m calling a fucking priest,” he stressed.

“I attempted to jest with you but I see that was useless. What do you require from me?” He settled on the bed and propped a leg up so he could turn to face Sebastian.

“Are you going with me? Do you really know where this place is? Because if not, you can just stay here and do whatever you do when I’m not around.”

“Well,” he started. “I may not be entirely certain but knowing these fiends, I have an idea of where they would put it.”

“So you’re not a hundred percent sure?”

“No.”

Sebastian rubbed his face and pulled down on it distorting his features. “Then why the hell are you coming with me?”

“I am... bored,” he stated quietly.

“That’s it? You’re bored?” Sebastian asked.

Ruvik’s eyes wandered to the left and landed on his hand, watching it pick at the blankets. “Yes, that is it,” he murmured.

“Whatever,” Sebastian huffed. “Just be ready I guess, get your ghost supplies—“

“Can you please stop that?” Ruvik mumbled under his breath.

“Stop what?”

“Referring to me as a ghost. I know you may think it’s funny but seeing as I may actually die and disappear from this world forever, I don’t see the humor in it,” he hissed.

Sebastian glared at him in disbelief with a click of his tongue. Then his expression lightened and his eyes softened. “No no you’re right, it’s not funny. It’s fucking hilarious,” he snapped. Ruvik’s eyes darted to Sebastian’s face, a slight glint in them.

“Why the fuck would I care if you live or not?” he continued. “Did you ever feel that way when you were screwing around with me in your own fucked up brain circus? No? Then fuck off!” He exploded.

Ruvik’s small form grew even smaller as he curled in on himself again. “I regret the things I did to you. I was full of anger and wanted vengeance on the world. I should have never taken it out on you—“

“Just shut up. I don’t want to hear your excuses. All the shit that has happened to me in my life and I never wanted to put someone through what you put me through. Now if you want to come with me be my guest but don’t expect me to treat you like one. You’re here to help me so I can help you. Got it?” he spat in Ruvik’s direction.

Ruvik’s hands were curled into lax fists on each side of his head and his lip quivered. Sebastian noticed and snapped his fingers to get his attention. “Hey, I’m talking to you!”

Big round eyes found his own as Ruvik’s head turned toward him. The ice blue irises were glassy with tears as they threatened to spill over.

“You’re... crying? Damn Ruvik c'mon,” he drawled.

Sebastian finally saw a face he hadn’t seen since that night in Beacon. Right now, he was gazing into the face of Leslie. Suddenly all anger deflated and he felt his paternal instincts overwhelm him. This was still Ruvik though.

“Okay stop using the puppy eyes on me you bastard,” he grumbled. “I’m going to be in the truck, if you’re coming with me then stop crying and get your ass moving.” The bed shifted as Sebastian stood up and grabbed his remaining bag. He glanced back at Ruvik still sulking and rolled his eyes. A second look back at him and he was gone. Sebastian shook his head and tried to bury the little bit of guilt gnawing at him.

***

It had been when Sebastian was already a few miles down the road that he concluded Ruvik wasn’t coming. He had expected the little shit to follow him but like always, he’d be facing this thing head-on by himself. If only he could contact Kidman, maybe she’d lend a hand but there was still no sign of her. Either way, he was going to find Joseph.

The last thing Kidman mentioned was that psychologist that Sebastian had visited a few days before calling her. He knew something but wouldn’t say what for some reason. Sebastian pulled over into a nearby gas station to go to the bathroom and stock up on snacks and drinks. Before he got out of the car, he searched his phone for the number of the man in question. Luckily, he had a habit of putting phone numbers in his phone immediately after he had learned them.

He stared at the name “Dr. Vause” with curiosity knowing that that wasn’t in fact his real name. Dennis was his name. Just who was this guy? Obviously he had a somewhat close relationship with Kidman in the past. When he met him he just seemed like an awkward older man trying to be humorous but miserably failing in the process. Something was darker about this man if he used to literally brainwash people. Sebastian had to find out what.

He set his phone down on the console, deciding he’d get everything he needed first and then he would make the call. Then he questioned if he should just show up at the office he was at. He would think about it over a bag of chips.

***

As doubtful as he was, Sebastian decided to give the old guy a chance. Besides, he didn’t have Ruvik now so he had absolutely no idea where he was going or where to even start. If only Ruvik hadn’t been so melodramatic and told him, he would at least have a small inkling.

A jab of guilt jolted through him again as he thought about all the things he had said to him. It wasn’t even that that had bothered him though. It was the face he gave him; it was that same scared look Leslie had plastered on him the whole time through Beacon. Poor kid was terrified and somehow he had scared him enough to make that face again. It wasn’t Leslie though... right? Sebastian shook himself out of his inner arguments with his own mind and focused on the task at hand.

Downtown Krimson City was busy as usual, people bustled throughout the streets bumping into each other and giving no mind to it. The holidays were around the corner and people would battle each other for the last turkey or ham on the shelf. Sebastian merely sighed at the ridiculous activity.

Finally, he could spot the same office he went to a few days ago. It was nothing to brag about, just a boring and regular doctor’s office. The truck parked and he searched for his pack of cigarettes for a quick smoke. As he reached over into the passenger seat, his eyes instinctively squinted at a luminous blue light inches in front of his face. When he opened his eyes, his hand was now inside the abdomen of an ashen boy. Ruvik looked down at the hand halfway into him and glanced over at Sebastian with a deadpan face.

“Wow Sebastian,” he started, his eyelashes fluttered. “All you had to do was ask if you wanted to be inside me.”

Sebastian retracted his hand as fast as he could and glared at Ruvik with revolt.

“Ruvik?” Sebastian sneered. “What the fuck are you doing?”

Ruvik rolled his eyes. “Obviously I am here to join you in your rescue mission.” Sebastian’s face was flushed and Ruvik took note of it. “What’s the matter?”

“What the hell was that about?” Sebastian asked with a tone of disbelief.

“What was what about?” Ruvik picked at the skin near his fingernails and inspected them mockingly.

“Don’t play dumb with me, were you... hitting on me?”

“Hmph,” Ruvik huffed. “I don’t know what you’re talking about Seb.” He enunciated Sebastian’s nickname, resent practically dripping from his lips.

Sebastian straightened himself, cigarette carton crushed between his hand. He studied Ruvik’s downcast face and scratched the back of his neck. The kid was undoubtedly pissed. With how he ended their last conversation, Sebastian could sort of understand. There’s no way Ruvik could expect him to forgive him so easily though. This would be a teamwork effort.

Sebastian fiddled with his lighter as an awkward silence clung to the air. Eventually Sebastian threw his pride out the window. He was going to need this bastard’s help.

“Listen,” he muttered while turning in his seat to face Ruvik. He let out a deep sigh. “I’m sorry for what I said back there. You gotta understand though, you put me through literal hell. It’s not going to be sunshine and rainbows all of a sudden just because you want to help me. I shouldn’t have gone off on you though. Okay? So stop fucking pouting. Oh and no more of that creepy fucking shit you call flirting.”

Ruvik’s head was bowed and his eyes shifted everywhere but where Sebastian was. His arms crossed in front of his body. “Understood. You’re the one who took it as flirting though. Maybe I just wanted to mess with you.” A small almost unnoticeable blush fell on his cheeks. Luckily, Sebastian was preoccupied observing the entrance of the building.

“Whatever. Now if you’re going to go in there, no one will see you right?” Sebastian questioned while still peering out the windshield. It was silent so he turned to look at Ruvik. He wore a peeved expression on his face.

“Are you serious Sebastian? You just had your hand in my body! Of course no one but you is going to see me. You’re the only one connected to me.”

“Okay okay it was just a question, I didn’t know I was the only one able to see you. Why is that though? And connected? What the fuck does that mean?” he inquired.

Ruvik’s eyes wandered then landed on the building in front of them. “I’ll explain some other time. Let’s just find out what this Dennis man can tell us about your precious Joseph.”

Sebastian shrugged and turned off the truck. He then glanced at Ruvik with an eyebrow slightly raised. “Okay fine, are you going in with me or not? Don’t talk to me though because if I answer, they’re definitely putting me in the looney bin.”

A sound so strange and foreign made Sebastian do a double-take. Ruvik tried to act like it didn’t happen, but it was too late. Sebastian had heard it. Ruvik giggled. He actually giggled and it was one of the cutest things he had heard other than his daughters own. If it had been Ruvik’s actual voice it probably wouldn’t have sounded so innocent but it was Leslie’s smaller and lighter voice. Sebastian had a half smile when Ruvik peered over at him.

“... what?” Unfortunately for Ruvik, his skin was so colorless any sort of blood rushing to his face made itself apparent. Sebastian smirked and stuck a cigarette in his mouth.

“Nothing. Nothing at all,” he grinned.

He exited the truck and flicked his lighter out and lit the cigarette.

“Let’s have a visit with this ‘Dr. Vause’.”

Chapter Text

The room’s temperature was enough to raise goosebumps along Sebastian’s covered arms. Ruvik wasn’t bothered, obviously having no feeling to external forces, so he paced the room in his aristocratic manner. Sebastian pulled his jacket’s opening tight so he could zip it up; this room was practically a meat locker.

It smelt of stale cologne and must. The carpets were well weathered and the curtains had tears along the bottom where they touched the floor. The seat Sebastian was sitting uncomfortably in made him itch and squirm. The green material had started to rip down the middle exposing a sliver of the yellow foam inside.

Sebastian found his eyes landing on Ruvik though, watching him inspect all the little trinkets that littered the desk to the side of the room. His hair caught rays of sunlight and mimicked the sun itself, giving the effect of a halo. The irony of Ruvik having a halo made Sebastian inwardly chuckle. Ruvik must have sensed Sebastian’s gaze as he turned his head and locked eyes with him. They stared for a time before Ruvik averted his gaze and blinked rapidly. Sebastian wished he could read that diluted mind.

The doorknob jiggled and clicked open. A woman with a brunette bun poked her head in just enough to whisper to Sebastian, “Dr. Vause will be with you shortly, make yourself comfortable.” She smiled and closed the door gently.

Ruvik was still and seemed to be pondering while looking out the window closest to Sebastian. He never noticed how glum the young man always looked.

Sebastian shifted in his seat and couldn’t decide where to look at. “Hey— Uh.. are you okay?” he muttered awkwardly.

Ruvik turned to face him with his usual deadpan face then resumed to stare out the window. “I thought you didn’t care what happened to me?” he snapped.

“That’s true but you always look so goddamn sad,” he stated. “Must be my stupid fatherly instincts,” he trailed off while he picked at the frayed fabric of the seat.

Ruvik seemed to ignore him so he gave up and continued to mess with the fabric while he waited for Dennis.

***

It felt like an hour went by and Sebastian began to wonder if he should have come here at all. Just as he was about to stand up and make for the door, it swung open and an older man walked in.

“Well I see you came back Mr. Castellanos. We’re not going to get handsy today are we?” he jested.

Sebastian crossed his arms and leaned back. “Yeah, sorry about that. I just haven’t heard anything about Joseph since well... never. He’s been missing for years now and you know things. Of course I would be excited, I thought you were a professional doc?” he quipped.

Sebastian watched as the man sat down stiffly. His hair was practically gray with only a few black strands trying to fight their way through. The jowls of his face sagged along with the corners of his eyes, his eyebrows drooped down almost obscuring his eyes entirely. From what Sebastian could see, they were a deep blue. He wore a tan jacket with a maroon button up shirt along with a worn pair of khakis. The guy could have been selling him car insurance if he didn’t know he used to work for Mobius.

The man slightly raised an eyebrow and his friendly demeanor seemed to fade. “I am a professional,” he began with a dark and aged voice. “Now what do you want from me? You clearly have no interest in therapy so what is your aim Mr. Castellanos?”

“Please, it’s Sebastian,” he started, “Dennis, right?” Sebastian watched as the man clenched his fists at the mention of his real name. “I’ve been told that you used to work with a certain company. You even told me yourself that you treated Joseph— brainwashed him actually, from what I’ve been told. Now, could you help me out maybe by telling me where you did this?”

Dennis’ arm had a slight tremble to it as he clenched the arm of the chair. “How did you get this information? Are you with Mobius?” His voice came out shaky and breathy. He stood in a cautious manner and backed away from them to slink away to his desk.

Ruvik watched intently, observing the older man’s actions then glanced over to see Sebastian looking back at him as if searching for an idea of what to do. Ruvik shrugged his shoulders and continued his daydreaming. Well he was no help.

“Sir, I didn’t mean to scare you but no I’m not with Mobius. I fucking hate them. They ruin everything they touch, including my daughter. She still has nightmares about that psychotic artist,” his voice began to wander. “I need to know where Joseph is, I intend to save him from them. I just need an address or I’m fucked. Please?”

Dennis was visibly shaken. His eyes were wide and his breathing was erratic. Sebastian pitied the poor man.

He calmed himself and straightened the black tie that looped around his neck. “Yes, I— I know where the facility is. It’s a newer branch. I wasn’t there for very long but from what I could tell, your friend was very intelligent. His work ethic was incredible. In all my years in this horrid business I never saw someone so determined and precise. Unfortunately, he was also easy to manipulate.” He carefully made his way back to his seat.

“Joseph was easy to manipulate? That’s bullshit! He never let anything get to him.”

“I’m sorry to tell you but he suffered from severe depression. He must have hid it from you pretty well. It was the factor I used against him. He has a whole new mindset now.” His head lowered and he linked his fingers together.

Sebastian clenched his fists and bit his top lip. “Listen, I need to find that facility. Fast. Can you just give me directions or something? Give me a hint or a riddle, I don’t fucking care at this point! I need to find my friend. I don’t care if he’s brainwashed, I’ll figure that out when I find him but I can’t do that without your help,” he snapped.

The doctor suddenly peered up and squinted at Sebastian. “Who told you that I used to work for Mobius?” he asked suspiciously.

“Juli Kidman.”

A toothy grin broke out onto the man’s face. He let out a small chuckle. “Oh Juli,” he began. “She was the only light for me in that hellhole. If I had a daughter, I would’ve wanted her to be like her. So you know her?”

“Yeah, we used to work together at KCPD.”

“I remember that. It was her first big case. She was so scared that she would screw up. Poor kid shouldn’t have ever been in there. Someone as smart as her should’ve done something with her life,” he said softly, a sad smile on his face.

“Well, if it makes you feel better, she’s no longer working for them,” Sebastian stated.

The old man’s face lit up. “Really? Do you know how I could get a hold of her? I’d love to check up on her.”

Sebastian scratched the back of his neck and sighed. “Actually,” he drawled. “I haven’t been able to get into contact with her for two days. I have no idea what happened.”

Dennis nodded his head solemnly and pulled a pen out of his jacket pocket. The little end table next to him had a small notepad. He grabbed it and started jotting down something. Ruvik finally turned around curiously watching the man. He handed Sebastian the small piece of paper and leaned back in his chair.

“That should be the correct address. I can’t tell you whether you’ll get your friend back but I wish you all the luck in the world. It’s been nice meeting you Sebastian but I have an afternoon appointment. I’ll show you to the door,” he said as he stood out of his chair.

Sebastian stared at the scribbled writing, wondering where this place was. It was quite a ways out though, judging by the area code. “Thank you doc. I don’t know how to repay you. Other than paying my fee of course,” he laughed. He stood and stretched his legs then sauntered to the door. Dennis smiled at him.

“If you get a hold of Juli, tell her to call me. Will you?” he asked quietly.

Sebastian grinned. “Oh course sir.” They shook hands then Sebastian made his way down the hallway.

“Wait!” He could hear Dennis yell from his office. “Mr. Castellanos!”

Sebastian froze in the lobby as he received his card back from the receptionist and turned around towards the hallway. Dennis had his head peeking out from his office.

“Remember the name ‘Jennifer’!”

Sebastian gave him a curt nod and exited the building confused. “Jennifer. Who the fuck is Jennifer?” he thought to himself.

Nonetheless, he kept the name in the back of his head.

***

Ruvik was already waiting for him in the truck’s passenger seat. Sebastian rolled his eyes and made for the door.

When he sat down and started up the vehicle, Ruvik was still ignoring him. “Hey didn’t I say I was sorry? Goddamn, you can’t blame me for saying those things can ya? Maybe I shouldn’t have—“

“You were right,” Ruvik interrupted.

“What?”

“Everything you said was right. I... really don’t deserve to live. I don’t even know how to be normal. I wasted my life for achievements that went to someone else anyway.” His voice was so small. Sebastian’s heart ached a little for the psycho.

“What you did during your life was fucked up. You killed people; experimented on them like animals,” he stated, “... but you also showed me your life before that. Your family, your sister, your intelligence. You could have had a bright future if it weren’t for that old creep that encouraged your bad habits. You just need to, I dont know, retrain yourself? You are no different than anyone; you’re not above or below them. You are human.”

Ruvik pursed his lips and lowered his eyelids. “I suppose I am. Do you truly think me redeemable though?”

“Ruvik, you are smart. You can use your talents somewhere else. Save lives instead! This is your chance to start over, you don’t have to be the monster that you were. That’s up to you.”

The albino finally glanced up to look at Sebastian. He observed his face and blinked. “The only other person to encourage me was my dear sister. The only light I had in my dark life.” His lip quivered.

Sebastian cringed at the bringing up of Laura so he quickly changed the subject. “Well, lets just look forward alright? I’ll try being nice to you, but you’re going to have to be patient with me. Lucky for you, you look more like Leslie than that burnt potato chip,” he smirked. Ruvik glared at him. “Hey! You sent a weird safe head man after me, I get to call you names.”

“Fine,” Ruvik breathed, a slight smile on his lips.

“Now, lets see where this place is.” He entered the coordinates into his gps and eyed it curiously as the location appeared on the screen. “Hmm, doesn’t look familiar,” he showed it to Ruvik, “what about you? Look familiar?”

Ruvik’s eyes went wide and his mouth went slightly agape. Sebastian drew his eyebrows together in confusion. “What? What’s wrong?”

“Sebastian. You have been there before.” He glanced up at Sebastian. “That’s my old estate.”

Chapter Text

Sebastian’s eyes were glued to the dull screen of the gps, Ruvik’s head only inches away from his own. “You’re positive that that’s your old house? The one that burnt down?”

Ruvik’s jaw muscles visibly flexed as he clenched down on his teeth. “I am most positive. They must have rebuilt it on my land in spite of me. Those fools will pay—“

“Hey hey hey!” Sebastian interrupted, “this isn’t a vigilante mission to take down Mobius, we’re only getting Joseph back. You can always get a new house and go on your own little expeditions; I’m done with that charade.”

“I am homeless and half dead. The odds are very low at this point Sebastian.”

“Touché, we’ll worry about that stuff some other time. Let’s just head out there and scope the place out okay?” Sebastian inquired, stretching his arm across the space between the seats as he backed out of the parking lot into the main road.

Ruvik grunted in agreement and with that, he went back to his usual silence. Sebastian turned the radio on to liven the mood a little with no success.

***

Krimson City traffic made Sebastian’s brain want to self-destruct itself. It had been almost forty minutes and they were still downtown, nowhere near the main highway.

Sebastian peered over at Ruvik and noticed the dreamy, vacant expression on his face as he gazed out the window. Curiously, Sebastian peeked from behind his fluffy hair and saw nothing interesting. Nothing other than a shirtless man sitting on a bench, wiping the gleaming sweat off his forehead. Suspicion rose in his head but he decided to let it go. Probably for the best to just ignore what he deducted.

“So Ruvik,” Sebastian attempted to distract Ruvik from his staring, “What was it like to be a rich aristocrat? Being that I’ve always been poor, I’m just curious.” He waited for a response to which he got nothing.

“Okaaay, did you have a hobby? You know, other than butchering small animals.” Ruvik’s head snapped towards him and glared daggers at him “What?” Sebastian asked sarcastically.

“No, what are you trying to do? Did I not just explain to you how I knew I was in the wrong? Why must you antagonize me?” Ruvik spat towards him, his eyebrows furrowed.

“I don’t know, maybe I’m just testing the waters. See if you really have changed. I haven’t felt super threatened yet so I guess we’re in the clear. I did ask a simple question though.”

Ruvik’s posture relaxed and he began to pick at his fingernails. “I didn’t have time for hobbies. I had rigorous studying and learning to do. I never had the chance to do things normal children did.”

“You never watched cartoons?”

“No.”

“Ate Spaghetti O’s?”

Ruvik’s face scrunched up. “What? No.”

“Uh... never played video games?”

“Forbidden in the house.”

“Damn, I really pity you now. What kid doesn’t get to eat fucking Spaghetti O’s?”

“What are Spaghetti O’s?”

Sebastian threw his hands in exaggerated astonishment. “Jesus Christ! We’re getting a can of Spaghetti O’s on the way home. Hopefully they’re as good as I remember.”

“We’re going back home after this? I thought we were going to get Joseph? I’d really enjoy having a body that isn’t charred as well.”

“I don’t have any supplies really. I honestly didn’t think we’d find the place. I need at least a handgun, these people don’t know how to have a civil conversation.”

Ruvik nodded his head.

“Oh and I don’t know if you should get your body just yet,” he muttered nervously.

Ruvik’s eyebrows lowered darkly. “Sebastian, you can’t be serious. Do you know how long it has been since I’ve had a normal functioning body? I was still an adolescent when I lost feeling in almost seventy percent of my skin! I need that vessel as soon as possible!”

“Okay okay! I know, it’s just we don’t even know where it’s at in this place. Your house was huge last time I checked—,” he sighed as he glanced at Ruvik’s slumped over posture. “Fine we’ll look for your body but if I get killed I’m blaming it on you.”

“I won’t let that happen.”

“No offense, but a marshmallow saying this just doesn’t convince me,” he laughed.

Ruvik grinned and played with the dingy material that had been bunched in his lap. “So, I’m a marshmallow now?”

“Yeah. You’re white and puny. Marshmallow confirmed.”

Ruvik blushed and quickly glanced out the window so Sebastian couldn’t see. Sebastian rolled his eyes then let the words “we're going back home” bounce around in his head.

***

Eventually, buildings and skyscrapers were replaced with long stretches of emerald fields with very few houses spread about; mostly forest covered the area. The sun had finally made its way to the horizon and gave way to the moon and her stars. Only a blotch of sunlight made a gradient of blue fading into pinks and oranges making the clouds above them dark and moody.

Sebastian yawned and stretched as best he could within the small confines of the cab of the truck. Ruvik made no effort to even look in Sebastian’s direction, let alone talk to him. Sebastian figured it would make the time go by faster if he were to strike up a conversation.

The thought rolled around in his head for quite some time before he finally had the courage to ask, “Ruvik. Why did you show me your childhood? Did you show Joseph too? Or was it just me?”

The hum of the truck made Sebastian even more anxious. Not like he could do much to him but he didn’t want any unnecessary conflict. Ruvik remained quiet for a time.

“I showed you because,” he began, his voice unsure and shaky, “I thought you, out of all the participants, would be able to understand me. Even if it was just a little. You didn’t though. You didn’t even try to understand.”

“Ruvik!” Sebastian snapped, “I don’t think you understand what you put me through! Listen, I am so sorry for what happened to Laura. What your father did? Fucked up beyond all reason. Besides all that, you really fucked me up mentally. It’s hard for me to pity you after all you did to me. You have to understand that.”

“I do understand now Sebastian. I am trying my best to redeem myself but it seems you won’t let me.”

“Look, I’m sorry. I forget that you have changed a little, thanks to Leslie, but every time I see your face, I’m taken back there. Everything comes back to me.”

“There’s nothing I can do to reverse it. You can only let me help you now without questioning my every move.”

“Why are you helping me though? You could be anywhere in the world right now, why are you hanging around me?” Sebastian asked suspiciously.

“I thought I already answered this. It’s because you’re the only person I know—“

“Bullshit. You have an ulterior motive. Just say what it is.”

“Sebastian I don’t have—“

“SAY IT!”

“Is it so terrible that I find myself attached to you?! There is no ulterior motive! I—I simply like being around you...” His face was flustered.

Sebastian’s eyes blinked rapidly.

“You wanted my answer and I gave it. Are you satisfied with yourself?” Ruvik cried, his arms crossing over themselves.

Sebastian’s eyebrows rose comically. “Not really satisfied, more like confused as fuck.”

“Why?”

“You hang around me because you... like me? Why would you like me? I’m an ass.” He pondered for a second, eyes shifting from the road to the smaller man. “It’s not, ‘like’ like right? You know, romantic feelings?”

“No!” Ruvik’s own body betrayed him as his face heated, a blush creeping onto his face.

Sebastian let the mood cool down a bit. His eyebrows furrowed as he thought about the whole ordeal. Then he remembered earlier, when they were stuck in a traffic jam. “Hey,” he asked nervously, ”Can I ask you something?”

Ruvik hummed with a blank expression now.

“Do you... like men? You know, sexually?” Sebastian grit down on his teeth and scrunched his face awkwardly waiting for Ruvik’s answer.

Ruvik curled in on himself, making his body even smaller than it already was. “I don’t see how that’s any of your business,” he mumbled from under his arm, “or how it’s relevant.”

Sebastian wanted to punch himself in the face. “Just curious is all. I mean, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! I was just wondering if that’s why you always turn red as a tomato when I talk to you— See! It’s happening right now!”

“Sebastian leave me alone!”

By this time Sebastian was full on laughing. “Big scary psychopath likes dudes. That’s a twist I didn’t see coming!”

“Can we stop talking about this now?” Ruvik grumbled.

Sebastian grinned maliciously and made sure to lean in a little closer, dropping his voice an octave. “Why’s that Ruvik? Scared you’ll want this?” He asked rubbing down the front of his torso jokingly. “My manly essence too much for you?” he teased.

“I get it, me being homosexual is hilarious to you.”

“So you are?” Sebastian asked excitedly with a mischievous grin.

Ruvik smacked his hands to his mouth, his face a new shade of crimson.

Sebastian’s laughs bounced off the walls of the cab, hitting Ruvik and making him sink deeper into his embarrassment.

“Hey I’m just poking fun at you. Liking dudes is perfectly fine. Don’t let it bother you too much,” his voice trailed off a bit, letting the humor in his voice falter. “Have you always known?” he asked in a more serious tone.

Ruvik evaded any sort of eye contact but still answered, “My sister had a number of boys that wished to court her. I was jealous that she wanted their attention. I also found myself jealous of all the attention she was receiving. I wanted them to notice me in that way too. I knew then and there that I preferred the company of males. I never had a chance to act on that though.”

“So you’re a virgin?”

“...yes.”

Sebastian didn’t know what to say to this new piece of information.

“It’s strange, isn’t it?” Ruvik asked sullenly.

“No! It’s not strange, just rare for someone to hold out on that for so long. There’s nothing wrong with waiting for the right person.”

Ruvik suddenly smiled darkly. “Oh but I wanted to. I dreamed of getting rammed from behind—“

Sebastian now found himself blushing. “What. The. Fuck?!”

“What?”

“I—I don’t want to know that, Jesus Christ...”

“Good to know I can make you uncomfortable too Seb.”

“Yeah yeah yeah, let’s just stop talking about this okay?”

Ruvik’s eyes gazed dreamily through his thick white lashes. “Alright. I blame you though.”

“Blame me for what?”

Ruvik let out a small chuckle. “I don’t think you realize how attractive you are Sebastian.”

A strange twisting sensation deep in the stomach alarmed Sebastian. What was this? He hadn’t felt this since— no there was no way.

“Okay seriously lets just stop talking about this,” he said suddenly dead serious.

Ruvik raised his hands in mock surrender then went back to his scenery watching.

Sebastian made another quick glance to Ruvik’s white form and found himself confused. Whatever that was, it had nothing to do with the fact that Ruvik complimented him. He had to have been overly tired. Right?

He switched the radio off as a they came up to a wooded area. Ruvik suddenly leaned towards the windshield to get a better look and muttered, “We're here.”

Chapter Text

Driving up the driveway, Sebastian had a series of chills travel down every vertebrae of his spine. Everything, from the old rusty gate, the overgrown shrubbery, the massive fountain in the front appeared the same as it had in STEM. The manor itself was completely refurbished though and had a more modern style to it. Instead of its original, dreary dark color palette, the entire building was now smooth and white. The pillars were gone along with the shutters, it was just blank white walls. Sebastian glanced over to record Ruvik’s reaction and was surprised to see him with a completely impassive expression on his face. Sebastian’s eyebrows furrowed and he tilted his head.

“So, uh, how are we going to do this? Just walk in? I don’t see that working out well.” He scratched the tip of his chin and played with his bottom lip.

Ruvik turned to him and instinctively eyed at Sebastian’s finger moving along the chapped skin of his lip. Sebastian snapped his fingers at him, breaking him out of his little trance. “I’m sorry, what?” he responded; Sebastian rolled his eyes.

“I said, how are we going to get in there? I don’t have any weapons, so we better get this right or we’re biting the dust. Any ideas?”

Ruvik’s lips pressed together in a thin line then suddenly out of nowhere, his nostrils flared and his eyebrows knit together. Sebastian glanced sideways at him. “What’s wrong?”

“There is a way in other than the front door. It just happened to bring unsavory memories along with it. I can still smell the mold and—“

“Just tell me, you can reminisce later.”

“... the basement.”

Sebastian bowed his head and closed his eyes. “I’m sorry Ruvik. I didn’t know—“

“It’s fine,” he interrupted, “It’s the only way. Chances are, it isn’t the same anyway,” his voice trailed off dismally.

Pity made its way to Sebastian as he studied the small white figure. “Okay. Let’s get your body then. I’m still getting you Spaghetti-O’s when we get back home,” he said softly with a small smile.

“You’re letting me stay? With you?” Ruvik asked incredulously.

“Well that’s up to you. Unless you’re planning to kill me in the night, you can stay with me until you get on your feet again. Alright? One sign of funny business and boom, you’re out.”

“I didn’t expect you to show such niceties to me.”

“Yeah well, it’s unfortunately in my nature. Everyone deserves a second chance, even you... Ruben.”

Ruvik’s eyes were wide and glassy when he glanced back over to Sebastian’s beautifully aged face. “You called me by my name...”

“Well yeah, that is your name right?” He coughed awkwardly when he noticed Ruvik regarding him with such a soft look. “Okay okay, before we get too chummy, let’s get this over with okay?”

Ruvik nodded dreamily and peered down at his lap. Sebastian sighed before turning the truck off and grabbing the door handle. “You ready?”

“I suppose. I have no choice, it’s this or I fade into nothingness.”

“Let’s go.”

Sebastian clambered out of the truck, snuck to hug the side of the stone wall circling the immense fountain and disappeared in the dark of the night following Ruvik’s ghostly figure.

***

Above them, dark clouds hung low to the earth, the air smelt fresh and ripe. Sebastian and Ruvik knelt to the sides of a small window just above the ground. Thunder rumbled from the murky sky, they both peeked at each other in disbelief. It started as a light sprinkle but Sebastian could tell from the lightning weaving through the clouds that it would get heavier.

“Okay, what’s our plan of action here?” Sebastian whispered harshly. “We gotta hurry, I think it’s about to downpour.”

Ruvik pursed his lips slightly and peered back at the small rectangular window then at the dampened ground. His eyes seemed to lock onto a decent sized rock. Before Sebastian could even stop him, glass shattered in all directions causing him to flinch and cover his head. “Ruvik! What the fuck are you doing?!” He hissed.

“You said we needed to get in as quick as possible.”

“Well yeah but— ugh never-mind, for someone so smart, you do some stupid shit.” He tilted his head down into the opening to get a better look on the inside. It seemed to be a storage room of sorts, boxes and crates were lined against the wall and what appeared to be a sort of generator. At the far end on the left side of the wall, Sebastian could see a door. “Okay, I see a door. Now umm,” he inspected the size of the window, “hopefully my fat ass can fit through here.”

“You should be able to get through if you enter feet first. I would help you but...” he put his translucent hand through Sebastian’s face to demonstrate.

“Right, you’re a spook... how did you throw the rock though?”

“I suppose it has something to do with the energy I harness. I can only do so much with it.”

“So you ran out of ghost powers?”

Ruvik didn’t look impressed.

Sebastian smirked. “Don’t worry about me, it’s not too far down and I think there’s a box right below it. I can’t see shit though. Oh wait.” He pulled out a small flashlight from his back pocket. “I forgot I grabbed this.” He clicked it on and stuck it down into the room. With his suspicions correct about the box, he started to position himself to slide down in. “Okay, I’m goin’ in.”

“Sebastian, be careful with the glass.”

“Aww you did a good job caring Ruvik!” he grunted as he crammed his legs into the small opening. Ruvik narrowed his eyes and Sebastian winked at him.

As Sebastian carefully lowered himself to chest level, he lost his balance and slipped back. Ruvik quickly tried to grab at Sebastian’s hand but went right through it as he watched him fall straight down. “Sebastian!”

Sebastian landed with a thud, the air knocked completely out of him. He choked and gagged for a time before he sat up and saw a mass of blue static appear next to him following a little albino kid. “Sebastian! Are you okay?” Ruvik cried as he knelt down next to him.

“Yeah, damn that fucking hurt,” he grimaced as he rubbed at his upper back. “Didn’t think it was that far down,” he laughed between coughs.

Ruvik’s eyes drooped and his head bowed. “I’m... sorry I couldn’t grab you. I tried but—“

“Hey,” he blurted, “you tried at least. Don’t beat yourself up over something stupid like that. If you weren’t like that you would’ve grabbed me right? Don’t worry about it so much. It’s good that you wanted to help, that’s progress.”

Ruvik nodded then stood up to study the dark room they were now in.

Like Sebastian guessed, the rain had finally began to come down hard. Water began to trickle down the side of the wall from the broken window. Sebastian’s flashlight must have fell along with him; it rolled slowly towards his feet, the light still on. The small flashlight’s beam was the only light source other than the strip of light peeking out from underneath the door. He grabbed it and shined it toward the corner of the room where the door was. “Guess that’s our way out now,” he breathed.

“Lead the way,” Ruvik chimed in from behind him.

***

When Sebastian poked his head out from the unlocked door, his eyes instantly narrowed from the blindingly white surroundings. It was just a hallway with various doors lining it, at the very end a staircase led to the upper part of the house.

Everything was white. The walls, the ceiling, the floor. White.

Sebastian wondered why security was so lax here. When they had broke into the basement area, not a single alarm went off. That he knew of anyway. There was not a single soul down here. No scary monsters, antique decorations, or demented puzzles. It was not even the same place where he had struggled with a certain someone blowing his head up. There was nothing from the previous house at all.

Out of nowhere, Ruvik went ahead of him as if he knew something he didn’t. “Hey! What gives?” Sebastian hissed.

“Leslie’s body, I can feel it. It’s near.”

“God is there anything that isn’t creepy about you?”

Ruvik simply shrugged and went down the hallway checking the inside of doors, one by one. Sebastian stood directly in the center observing his surroundings, waiting for Ruvik to discover something. There were at least twelve doors, six on each side. No windows or nameplates adorned them but Sebastian noticed simple black numbers on the side of each one. That had to have been the only way to identify what room was what.

“Sebastian!” Ruvik signaled from down the corridor. Sebastian trudged toward the ghostly figure.

“What’s in there? Is it Leslie? Or your body— whatever the fuck it’s supposed to be.”

“Yes I believe so. I’m going to try and deactivate the lock on the door. It seems to be electronically locked,” he observed, “I don’t think I’ll have enough energy to unlock it though. We are at an impasse.”

“Great. Guess we’ll have to murder someone and take their body...”

Ruvik raised an eyebrow. “You’re sounding more like me everyday.”

“Well that was a joke. Unlike you, I’ve never actually killed someone that didn’t deserve it.”

“Who are you to decide that Sebastian?” Ruvik countered sarcastically.

Sebastian’s eyes rolled into the back of his skull. “I do not want to get philosophical with you right now. We need to focus and find someway to open this damn door.” He put a hand on his hip and stepped back. “What if there’s a control panel upstairs?”

“I suppose that could be a possibility. The problem is knowing where to find it.”

“Hey,” Sebastian started, “Why can’t you just get into your body right now? You could unlock it from in there,” he chided.

“You will see why that isn’t a good idea. Let me scope out the main floor. You stay down here, just in case there’s hostiles.”

Sebastian huffed, “Fine. I’ll just sit down here and wait I guess. Hurry up though, this place is giving me a bad vibe.”

Ruvik shook his head then dissipated with a mass of his usual blue static. Sebastian’s back met the wall and then he slowly slid down into a sitting position. Might as well get a little breather out of this.

***

Almost thirty minutes seemed to have passed and there was still no sign of Ruvik. Sebastian bit his lip and brushed a hand through his hair. He didn’t know whether or not he should go upstairs to check but Ruvik was invisible to everyone but him so he should be fine. Then what the hell was taking him so long?

Sebastian had lost his patience; he stood and made his way to the staircase. As soon as his foot stepped on the first step, and loud crack of thunder and lightning shook throughout the entire facility and made Sebastian jump back. A few seconds after, the power went out and everything was pitch black.

Fortunately, he still had his small pocket flashlight but it still wasn’t a lot. Panic began to set in when he realized he was alone in the dark at this highly secret building. His teeth grit down and he clenched his hand around the small flashlight.

He flashed the light around the void hallway. The white now looked like a shadowy grey, making it seem even darker than it already was in there. The fact that there were no windows made Sebastian feel like an animal trapped and cornered. There was no way of knowing anything from down here.

A soft clicking sound from behind him made his whole body freeze and take on a slight tremor. Sebastian had seen and experienced some terrible things but it didn’t mean he wasn’t vulnerable to fear. He knew literally anything could be behind him so he let out a small breath and slowly began to turn his head toward the sound. When he glanced back to where he heard it, there was nothing. The hairs on the back of his neck began to stand on end.

“Sebastian.” A voice whispered right into his ear finally set him off.

“HOLY SHIT!!” His eyes were wide and he had assumed a fighting stance. Ruvik stared back at him mirthlessly. “Ruvik?! Goddamn it! Don’t do that!” The little shit had the small beginnings of a smirk.

“Sorry Sebastian, I didn’t think you would react in such an animated manner.”

Sebastian let out the breath he had been holding. “Where the fuck were you? What took you so long?” He demanded.

“I was unsuccessful in finding a control panel, but luck is on our side. The power went out therefore—“

“The door opened...” he sighed as he realized that was the mysterious noise behind him.

“Yes. Something seems wrong though.”

“Why?”

“I found a computer system. There was an alarm that went off but no one responded.”

“There’s people here?”

“Yes, that’s what’s strange. They aren’t doing anything. It’s like they’re waiting...”

Sebastian’s eyebrows knit together. “Hmph, that is a bit weird. Alright, let’s get in there, get you in that body, and get the fuck out of here. I don’t feel like making any new friends today.”

“Agreed. If you would open the door though before I go in without you.”

The door was slightly ajar and Sebastian grabbed the edge of it. “What’s the magic word Ruvik? Where are your manners?”

Ruvik sighed. “Please, Sebastian?” he grumbled.

Sebastian opened the door, flashlight in hand and immediately took in a sight straight out of a sci-fi movie.

Chapter Text

Something reflective made the beam of light from the flashlight blind Sebastian. As he moved the light away from the surface, his eyes widened at what he saw. In a glass tank in the center of the room, was Leslie’s suspended body. He was submerged in some sort of liquid, most likely water mixed with some kind of preservation chemical. Sebastian turned his head to the side where Ruvik gawked next to him.

“I guess that’s it huh?” Sebastian raised an eyebrow. “How do we get it out? Never mind that it’s naked...”

Ruvik sighed moving closer to the tank. “That is the least of my problems Sebastian. The power is out, therefore the life support is off.”

“Oh shit.”

“Indeed. We need to do something fast.” Ruvik put a hand on the hard glass of the tank. Various wires and pumps came out of it and connected to a monitor right above his head.

As Sebastian moved further into the room to join Ruvik, a strong whiff of antiseptic entered his nose and made it crinkle up. “God I hate the smell of that shit— Ruvik what’s wrong?” Sebastian asked suddenly when he noticed Ruvik’s terrified expression. Sebastian followed where his eyes were and they landed on Leslie’s body. It was squirming and struggling erratically.

“It’s going into cardiac arrest. Sebastian, we have to do something, quick!” Ruvik’s voice raised as he demanded Sebastian.

“Oh fuck! I don’t know I—“

Ruvik’s legs started to slowly fade. His eyes were round with shock and fear. Sebastian kicked into panic mode. “Sebastian...”

“I know I know! Fuck! Umm there’s gotta be something that can break this glass... uh—“ his eyes darted around the room frantically, searching for a blunt object. As he scanned the room with his flashlight a small flash of red caught his eye. A fire extinguisher! “Hang on Ruvik, I have an idea!” Ruvik was silent, not wanting Sebastian to know he was afraid.

Sebastian tore the extinguisher from the wall and held both sides of it. He sauntered to the tank and gave one last reassuring look to Ruvik before slamming against the glass. A small crack started in the very center of it. Sebastian made it his goal to hit that spot every time but it proved difficult. With his frustration, he put every bit of strength he had to get him out of there.

After one last swing and a frustrated yell, water finally began to pour out of the glass soaking him in the process. Sebastian honed his aim towards the already broken pieces to break off more. A few throws of the extinguisher and Leslie’s body finally came flopping out with a wet slap to the ground. Sebastian threw the fire extinguisher to the side and searched for Ruvik. He was nowhere to be found. Vanished.

Sebastian put two and two together and knelt down beside the small wet body and began giving CPR. There was no response after a few pumps so he grabbed his head and blew into his mouth then proceeded to pump his chest again. “Son of bitch! You can’t die! Not now you little bastard, after all the shit I went through to get you here!” His voice cracked as he grunted harshly to the lifeless body.

After one last session of giving mouth to mouth, water gushed out of Ruvik’s mouth and into his own. Ruvik gasped and choked as Sebastian lifted him to a sitting position, cradling his delicate head. “It’s alright it’s alright. I got you,” he whispered softly holding his head gently between both of his hands. “Can you breathe?”

Ruvik nodded his head as his petite hands came to rest on Sebastian’s, slowly bringing them down off his face. His eyes blinking in some sort of disbelief but it could have also been just irritation from the water solution. He focused on touching Sebastian’s hands then moved onto his own face, leading to him exploring his whole body. “I— I can feel. It is... cold,” he mumbled as he studied the soft white hairs raising on his arm.

Sebastian stood slightly and struggled with his balance before covering Ruvik with something. “There,” he wrapped his jacket around his naked body, “that should keep you a little warmer, it’s not too wet. Didn’t think you’d be butt ass naked, sorry. I have some clothes in the truck though—“

Ruvik stared at him dreamily as he clutched onto the jacket. Sebastian realized just how close he was to him. He could see him shivering slightly and the unshed tears that filled his eyes; he was actually here and he could touch him. Sebastian pressed his lips in a line and scooted closer to the trembling form.

“Hey, sit closer. My body heat should help warm ya up. At least until this damn power comes on.”

“I would but this body is so weak. I’m so hungry, cold, and tired—“

Ruvik squeaked as Sebastian scooped him up in his arms and sat him on his lap, cradling him like a small child. He chuckled lightly. “I used to do this with Lily after giving her a bath. She always hated the damn things. Now that’s all she does. I guess she’s growing up... Ruvik, you okay?”

Ruvik’s entire chest up to his cheeks, was red and flushed. He hid his face in Sebastian’s chest trying to conceal himself so Sebastian wouldn’t see his humiliated face. Sebastian’s heart fluttered a bit and he found himself sort of flustered. Son of a bitch this stupid kid was cute.

A few minutes was all it took for soft snoring to reach Sebastian’s ears. “Wow, I guess you were tired huh?” He brushed the dampened white hair out of his face, admiring the thin white lashes that laid atop his cheek. He almost forgot that this was Ruvik. Now he appeared a hundred percent like Leslie and it really threw him off. That’s the only reason he was treating him like this. That’s what he’d convince himself.

Sebastian felt tired himself but decided to stay awake to keep watch. The storm should blow over soon and then they’d have to find a way out. Right now, he would bask in the warmth of another human while listening to the sound of heavy rain hitting the roof.

***

Thirty minutes had passed and Sebastian’s eyelids sagged and wavered with tiredness, he could hardly keep them open. He hadn’t stayed up this late in years, he would be exhausted tomorrow; that’s if they got out of here.

An eerie humming sound filled the small room and echoed in the hall. Followed by it was the sound of the life support behind them and the revival of the lights overhead. This room was alabaster as well. The brightness of it all making him squint his eyes, as they were now somewhat adjusted to the dark. He blinked a few times to wake himself a little before peering down at the sleeping form in his arms. He hated to wake him but they had to get out of here. Something wasn’t right.

With the back of his hand, he gently tapped at Ruvik’s pale cheek. “Hey, I know you’re tired but we gotta get out of here. I’ll let you sleep on the couch when we get home, Okay?” Sebastian’s voice was small and hushed.

His eyes stirred and then slowly started to open. “Mmm..” he hummed annoyed.

Sebastian studied the small facial features and couldn’t help but notice that even though his body was now Leslie’s, the features of his own face somehow stood out, like the deep scowl his face always expressed.

Now with Ruvik fully awake, they both stood up, Sebastian helping the withered and malnourished body that was Leslie no more but Ruvik. With his slender arm slung over his shoulder, Sebastian guided Ruvik out of the room and into the hall.

Still silent and vacant. Something was off and it set alarm bells off all over in Sebastian’s brain. Ruvik even tensed against Sebastian’s side and scanned the room. “Strange, still no one.”

“Yeah, lets just hope they’re off today,” he spoke with suspicion. “Let’s at least get out of this basement, it’s making me claustrophobic.”

They hobbled slowly to the staircase and began their ascent.

***

As they neared the end of a long winding hallway, Sebastian saw a room at the end. His head peaked out and he immediately recognized it from his time in STEM. This was the room that housed the grand piano. Now it was covered with cold steel and numerous computers and machines.

Sebastian’s eyes eventually landed on Ruvik’s small form, awaiting some sort of comment or remark from the emaciated young man. Nothing but his normal scowl with a mixture of tiredness.

Sebastian slowly let Ruvik’s scrawny arm slip away from his shoulder, gently grabbing it and settling it next to his side. “Can you walk on your own?” He asked quietly.

“Yes,” he breathed. “Not for very long though, I feel the weight of exhaustion suppressing me.”

“Okay, if you need a hand or something just ask me.”

“I do not need your—“

“Hey. Who just helped you get your body back? Hmm?” Sebastian pressed his lips in a tight line. Ruvik bit down on his bottom lip slightly. “That’s right. Me. You’re going to have to throw your pride out the window. You’re standing there butt ass naked for Christ’s sake.”

Ruvik pouted and tugged at the jacket draping over his petite frame. “Fine, lead the way Sebastian.”

“The front door should just be past these next two rooms right? This was your house.” Sebastian crept carefully to the small hallway leading to another room. That room was empty as well. Was this place even inhabited?

Ruvik nodded and awkwardly shifted towards Sebastian’s side. “I prefer to forget this place. Nothing good came from it.”

“Okay. Touchy subject, I get it. Now come on!” Sebastian’s voice echoed through the vacated room and traveled down the hall.

When they came to the large double door at the end of the second room, both of them stared for a time. Sebastian could feel something nagging at his gut, something wasn’t right. This was going too smoothly. He peered down at Ruvik to see if he was on his wavelength. His eyes met his and he merely shrugged. Sebastian shook his head and cautiously opened the door.

The two winding staircases remained along with the large front door at the end of the foyer. That wasn’t the first thing his eyes landed on though.

Standing directly in the middle of the room, was Joseph Oda, surrounded by a large group of suited men and women.

On his face, a cocky grin as he painstakingly walked toward Sebastian. “There he is. My knight in shining armor. I was told you would come looking for me, Seb.”

Chapter Text

The air that hung between them began to dry the gaping mouth of Sebastian. A million thoughts traveled their course all throughout his brain. Only one had a voice loud enough to be heard over the rest. He found him. He had finally found him. This is where he was the entire time. Being used as some sort of Mobius puppet. A deep part of Sebastian wished he had died in that tub, at least he wouldn’t have become this.

Sebastian studied his estranged friend, his eyes darting around his body. His demeanor was not that of his own. He stood with sense of purpose, not like his usual timid and shy self. A basic black suit and tie ensemble covered his slender body, just like the administrator. The ebony hair on his head was groomed and gelled perfectly, resembling that of a doll’s hair. The eyes behind his black framed glasses were now dark and stared straight through Sebastian’s very being. This wasn’t his friend, they made a monster; it’s what they do best.

Joseph cocked an eyebrow and waited eagerly for a response, tugging the black gloves on his hand to tighten them.

“Joseph?” Sebastian whispered softly, “Joseph, it’s me, your friend Sebastian. We were partners. Remember KCPD?” Sebastian’s voice started to raise.

Joseph’s eyes darted back and forth between Sebastian and Ruvik. He pushed his glasses higher onto the bridge of his nose and smiled. “I know Sebastian, I’m not an idiot. And friend? What friend abandons the other without even thinking to look back? Can you tell me that Sebastian? You never even made an effort to look for me!” He spat.

Sebastian sighed and slumped his shoulders. “No Joseph, I didn’t look for you because I thought you died. Kidman shot you and I thought I lost you. She just told me recently that you survived, I’ve been looking for you since. Please, you have to come with me!” His voice wavering between frustration and desperation. Ruvik observed from behind Sebastian’s right arm. Joseph glanced at the small man with a slight scowl.

“I’m afraid I can’t do that Sebastian. You see, I’m doing something for the greater good, more so than being a lowly detective,” his eyes squinted as he glared at Ruvik, “I see you finally found your vessel Ruben Victoriano. You should enjoy it while you can.”

Sebastian straightened his back and furrowed his brow. “What are you talking about? Did you know he was still alive?”

“As dumb as you think I am, yes Sebastian, I predicted he would eventually show up here to claim this body. It was bait; set out in order to lure him to his final resting spot. He needs to be executed, I need to finish what that incompetent Kidman couldn’t finish.” Then he gazed at Sebastian curiously. “Now you showing up with him was a complete surprise. How could you willingly work with someone who intended to torture and kill you?” He asked mockingly.

Sebastian grit down on his teeth. “He’s not the same as he was, he’s... changed somehow. That’s not the point. What I don’t understand is how you can work for this crackpot, piece of shit company. They’re the ones to blame! Ruvik was a pawn of them too! Can you not see that? They will only keep you until they have no use of you anymore!”

Joseph turned around to walk away from Sebastian but swiveled his head to talk over his shoulder. “I don’t expect you to understand Seb,” His voice dripping with malice, “unlike that pathetic police station, I’m revered here! Respected! Not seen as another worker ant. I have purpose here!” Now he was back to facing Sebastian, his eyes wild and dark.

Sebastian opened his mouth to retaliate but was stopped when he felt a small tug on the sleeve of his shirt. He peered down at Ruvik and saw him mouthing something to him. “Remember, he’s brainwashed. This is useless. We have to get out of here,” he mouthed cautiously, making sure Joseph couldn’t see him.

Sebastian nodded and glanced back at Joseph. “Okay Joseph, I’m sorry you felt that way. If we leave we won’t ever bother you again,” he lied, “now can you let us go? For me Joseph?”

He seemed to ponder for a bit before looking to one of the suited men behind him. They nodded at one another and Joseph grinned back at them, his fingers scratching at his chin. “Hmm, I have a better idea.” One of his gloved hands reached into his pant pocket, pulling something out of it. Between his fingers, he held a small oblong object. It was silver and had a small red tip. To the side there was a gray button, no bigger than a thumbnail. Sebastian’s eyes went wide.

“Joseph, what is that? I promise I’ll just go home, I’ll take Ruvik with me. You won’t ever have to see us again!” He shouted, the panic in his voice rising.

Joseph chuckled. “Sorry Sebastian, you give me too valuable an opportunity. Do you remember STEM?”

Sebastian glared back without an answer.

“Of course you do, being trapped in that lunatic’s brain. I remember vividly as well. I harnessed that hell and made it into a weapon.” He stalked back and forth like a predator readying to strike its prey. “Now, it’s still in its testing phase but I thought ‘what better time than now to test it’?”

“Joseph... don’t do this...” Sebastian pleaded.

A very brief look of regret crossed Joseph’s features but he instantly shook it away. He signaled for his entourage to leave the area. “It’ll be up to you whether you survive or not Sebastian. Good luck.”

The capsule flew into the air, Sebastian and Ruvik watching it spin towards them. It landed with a metallic clang a few feet in front of them. The sound of it landing was followed by the thump of another object falling onto the ground and the hiss of a pressurized door. Static interrupted the silence and a voice followed it. It was Joseph.

“Oh and Seb, I left you a little parting gift. I can’t wait to see if you find it or not. Have fun!” The voice rang out from an intercom system and stopped with a sudden click.

Sebastian began to panic as a steady stream of red gas seeped out of the grenade-like object. His head began to ache harshly, making him grab the sides of his skull. A familiar high pitched frequency made his stomach drop and his heartbeat hammer intensely against his ribs.

***

The stark white of the room began to diminish, replacing it was twisted and gnarled steel, barbed wire shot out of the walls, and the shadow of large fan blades made the darkened room even more ominous. Sebastian’s eyes grew wide and his hands trembled. Memories of a large foreboding woman flashed at him immediately. His stomach churned and his jaw tightened. Something drug him out of his inner thoughts. Sebastian could here a voice behind him.

“Sebastian! .... none of..... is real! ...... hallucinogen!”

The voice sounded like Ruvik but Sebastian couldn’t be too sure. It grated against his ear drum and echoed darkly. Then out of nowhere, the room compressed itself into a long corridor. Sebastian heard something through the wall behind him. There was a massive iron door with grates at the end of the hallway. The noise continued to grow louder until it sounded as if it were about to burst.

Quickly, he started running down what seemed like an endless hallway. There was the crashing of the door followed by the sound of rushing liquid. He clumsily turned to the source of the sound. A river of blood was flooding and outpouring down the hall in hues of red and black and staining everything in its path. Suddenly his body was falling into another area of his memory of STEM. The blood had gone away and now he was in an open area, much like the one he had started out in.

As much as Sebastian had tried to shove these memories into the darkest recesses of his mind, he remembered everything as if it had happened hours prior. His voice of reason was failing and his panic was rising.

He instantly recalled where he was again. This was the Victoriano mansion, the way it had been before it had been burned down. Sebastian had only memorized it as the place where Ruvik had tormented him left and right.

He tried to slow his breathing and ease his mind a bit so he could properly think. Before anything could happen though, he heard a bloodcurdling scream from the upper balcony. His eyes immediately darted to the area. From his toes to his head, he froze in fear.

The clacking sound of fingernails made his skin crawl along with the labored and heavy breathing. In a cascade of blood and carnage, the abomination that was Laura, manifested only a few feet in front of Sebastian.

Snapping out of his stupor, he began to run but realized there was no point. Every door he came to was locked. He was trapped with this screaming monstrosity.

Just as he was about to give up and just let her take him, he noticed a mass of black on the floor. His heart lightened when he realized what it was. Next to the doors leading into the dining room, was a revolver lying on the floor.

With renewed energy, he sprinted right past the four-armed monster and slid on the floor slamming into the doors. His arm reached out to grab the gun when he noticed something odd.

As he watched Laura, he noticed her crawling frantically in a circular path. Her screams were growing louder and louder still, each one giving Sebastian goosebumps. He ignored the strange behavior and stood up recklessly. Laura stopped suddenly and began crawling in Sebastian’s direction.

The sounds of her heavy breathing, her screaming and moaning made Sebastian’s hands shake as he held the gun and readied it. He pulled back on the hammer and rested his finger on the trigger. She was now right in front of him.

Sebastian closed his eyes and yelled as he squeezed on the trigger, the recoil making the gun almost fly out of his hands.

Instantly the screaming stopped. A loud thump hit the floor and Sebastian hurriedly scanned the room. She was gone, there wasn’t even a trace. He dropped the gun and fell to his knees, his breathing labored and dry. The room slowly began to return to its pallid self. Sebastian searched around the room, his eyes darted to and fro.

“Ruvik? Ruvik?! Where are you?” He yelled into the empty manor. There was no answer, only raspy breathing. “Ruvik!”

As the aged decor of the mansion faded into the blinding white of the new facility, Sebastian gazed down at the floor in horror.

A small pool of blood was beginning to run over the alabaster tile in a thin stream. The blood met Sebastian’s knee and seeped into the fabric there. His eyes followed the blood and stopped on the choking and hacking body of Ruvik. A hole of red just under his collar bone. Sebastian gasped and slapped a hand to his mouth.

“Oh god...”

Chapter Text

The room began to spin and the rushing of blood from Sebastian’s rapid heartbeat pounded in his ears, making him woozy and unable to comprehend what had just happened. Tears welled in his eyes making it difficult to focus on the small and lifeless body. There was a notable lump in Sebastian’s throat that he swallowed harshly as he watched for any signs of life.

Ruvik took in a broken breath and Sebastian quickly crawled over to his side to see the damage he had done.

His eyes surveyed the wound, blood was spurting out but not like it would with an artery. Sebastian tore a chunk of the fabric of his shirt and applied pressure directly on the wound making Ruvik hiss and wince.

Sebastian felt a strong and heavy wave of guilt as he watched Ruvik’s eyes squeeze shut and his jaw muscles tense. “Ruvik... I...”

Ruvik’s eyes opened to a slit and his breathing was ragged. “Sebastian,” his voice was scratchy, “there’s no time for that, we need to— we need to dress the wound and clean it.”

Sebastian nodded then made sure Ruvik wasn’t exposed; the least he could do was make sure his dignity was intact. He gently grabbed Ruvik’s left hand and guided it to the wound.

“Okay you’re going to have to keep the pressure on this okay?” He demanded as calmly as he could, “I’m going to pick you up now so brace yourself.”

Ruvik grunted in response. His eyelids were drooping, he struggled to keep them open and Sebastian noticed this. He was probably going into shock.

Sebastian dug his arm underneath Ruvik’s back and the crook of his legs and lifted carefully. He glanced back at where Joseph had left them to perish. Anger had swelled into an ugly boil that threatened to pop and ooze hatred. Sebastian shook it away though for the time being, he needed to remember that that wasn’t Joseph. That wasn’t his neat-freak, controlling, goody two shoes best friend. It was just the husk of a man being used to do bad. He would come back for him though. He had to.

Ruvik’s tense body suddenly fell still and lifeless as he was holding him in his arms. Sebastian’s fingers groped his pale neck to find a pulse. It was erratic along with his breathing and his skin had begun to fall into an ashen grey color, his lips a light blue now. Sebastian’s eyes grew wide as he realized what was happening, he didn’t have much time now. A crack of lightning followed by the loud grumbling of thunder signified that it was time to go.

Sebastian kicked the front door open and he ran as fast as he could into the stormy dark night.

***

Sebastian sped through the dampened and slippery roads like a bat out of hell, his eyes darting over to Ruvik in the passenger seat a little too often. One of the times he hadn’t glanced, he could hear retching and gagging; Ruvik had vomited pale yellow bile all over his half naked body. He was still motionless but he was breathing, lucky for him they were only about fifteen minutes away from the house.

Every time he glanced at him, he felt a sharp sting of guilt. He didn’t mean to shoot him. As much as Ruvik had put him through, he genuinely didn’t mean to shoot him. So why did he feel guilty? This man would have killed him without a second thought and here he was speeding and risking a ticket to get him help.

Perhaps it was the fact that when he looked at him he saw innocent little Leslie. He had an overwhelming urge to protect him, regardless of it actually being Ruvik. Sebastian dragged a hand down his face and sighed deeply, “What am I going to do?” He thought to himself.

When the car stopped abruptly, Ruvik flung forward and the seatbelt dug into the gunshot wound. He immediately woke up and screamed in pain. Sebastian hurriedly unbuckled himself and flew out of the truck to jog over to the passenger side door.

He carefully moved the seatbelt away from the wound and unbuckled his as well. The rain made everything far more difficult than it should have been. The concrete below his feet was slick and ready to trip up Sebastian. As he lifted Ruvik out of the truck, his foot slid in front of him making him grab onto him tighter. Ruvik groaned and curled up with pain.

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry! Ruvik we should really take you to a hospital, I don’t know what I’m doin—“

“No! We— we can’t go, Leslie Withers is supposed to be dead right? I don’t want to raise any suspicions. We’ll just—“ he hissed and tightened his grip on Sebastian’s arm, “we'll just have to make due with what we have and if I die here, so be it.”

By now they were both soaking wet and freezing. Sebastian tilted his head to the side and clenched his teeth, the smell of vomit still lingered and made his nose scrunch up. “Fine. I’m not letting you die though. I’ve worked with some gunshot wounds in the past. I’m sure as hell no surgeon but I’ll do my best.”

“Great. Now— now can we get out of the rain?” Ruvik shivered in his arms.

“Shit, gotta get you warmed up fast,” he realized.

They fought through the pouring rain and practically busted down the front door.

***

Time was running out before dawn would arrive. Lily would be coming home soon and Sebastian was playing doctor with a strange man she knew nothing of. He would have to make haste with the time given. No matter how this man may have treated him in the past, Sebastian couldn’t just accidentally shoot someone and let them die. It wasn’t in his DNA to let someone suffer.

The rain had finally let up a little by the time Sebastian made it into his bedroom. Ruvik was silent in his arms but was still conscious as he was tensing and writhing in pain. Sebastian placed a clammy hand over his forehead, he was definitely running a fever.

The bedroom had a slight draft to it and the ceiling fan didn’t help. This time of year it was usually snowing but there had only been showers and thunderstorms lately. Still it was frigid and blustery.

Sebastian struggled getting the blankets of his bed untucked so he could set Ruvik down. Ruvik’s hand had remained on the bloodied piece of fabric up until he settled into the soft mattress, then he groaned and grit his teeth as Sebastian helped maneuver him to get ready for the extraction.

Sebastian’s face was just above Ruvik’s, he could feel the small, shuddering breaths on his cheek. Ruvik glanced up at him and smirked. “What’s wrong Sebas— Sebastian?” He asked breathily, “you actually worried about me dying?”

The lines on Sebastian’s forehead crinkled as his eyebrows furrowed. “You need to stop talking. Just rest here while I find what I need okay? I still think we should go to the hospital—“

“Sebastian..”

“Fine! Fine, I’ll do it but if you end up on a slab in the morgue, don’t blame me,” he spat in Ruvik’s face. Ruvik’s smirk was gone and replacing it was small little gasps. “Fuck, just— hang tight! I’m going to get the alcohol and tweezers.”

Sebastian ran through the house frantically checking every drawer and cupboard searching for a pair of tweezers. Before he found them though, he spotted the rubbing alcohol on the bathroom counter. He quickly grabbed it and went back to the living room.

In a small end table, junk accumulated like scissors, paperclips, thumbtacks, and other little items. Sebastian dug through the messy drawer and found a small sewing kit. After a few seconds of frantically searching, Sebastian finally just tore the drawer out from the table and dumped its contents out in frustration. A small pair of tweezers peeked out from underneath a crumpled piece of notebook paper. Sebastian collected them and ran clumsily to the bedroom.

Ruvik was sweating and shivering as Sebastian set all the supplies onto the end table adjacent to the bed. He pulled the blankets further up Ruvik’s body and gently pet his forehead. Ruvik closed his eyes and relaxed into the touch. Sebastian then grabbed a clean sock and poked it at Ruvik’s mouth.

“Here, you’re probably going to want this,” he suggested as he rubbed circles on Ruvik’s clammy head.

Ruvik nodded and opened his mouth to bite down on the sock. Sebastian removed his hand from his head and grabbed the alcohol and a clean cloth. Ruvik’s eyes were wide as Sebastian firmly held him down against the bed.

“This is going to hurt like a bitch, okay? Stay with me,” he assured him as he undid the top of the bottle and readied to pour it on the wound,” if you need to grab onto my arm go ahead, I’m here for ya.”

The clear liquid poured steadily onto Ruvik’s collarbone and seeped into the gash immediately making Ruvik lurch forward and scream into the sock he was biting on. Tears were streaming down his face and Sebastian pushed him back down trying his best not to hurt him even more.

“It’s okay! It’s okay! We’re almost done! I just gotta get a little more in there to make sure you don’t get an infection okay?” Ruvik nodded with big watery eyes and Sebastian’s heart ached.

The second pouring wasn’t as bad but Ruvik still screamed and squirmed under Sebastian’s weight. His white hair clung to his dampened forehead and his eyes were red and puffy. Sebastian lifted his hand off of his other shoulder and grabbed the sock out of his mouth.

“Are you okay? That seemed pretty fucking painful.”

Ruvik merely grunted in response and peered down at the injury. The hole was now clean at least and easier to inspect. Sebastian would have to use the flashlight on his phone for better lighting but it would have to do. He had to get the bullet fragments out as best he could. Sebastian was praying that it wasn’t too disintegrated.

Ruvik threw his head back down on the pillow and slowed his breathing. His voice came out shaky and hoarse. “Not as bad as burning but still pretty painful.”

Sebastian rummaged through the old first aid kit that had been under his bed. All it contained was a disinfectant spray and a roll of gauze. He collected the gauze and grabbed for the tweezers.

“Alright,” he sighed, “here comes the hard part. I’m not guaranteeing anything but I’ll try to get the bullet out as best I can.”

“It’s okay Sebastian, just leave it in if you have to. I just want the pain to go away.”

“Well it’s far from the end of that bud,” he sympathized as he cleaned the tweezers with the alcohol. “Sorry this is the first thing you have to feel in your new body.”

Ruvik huffed a pained chuckle. “Don’t worry about it Seb, we're even now.”

“That’s fair I guess, still doesn’t make me feel less shitty,” he smiled sadly. “Okay I’m going to try and get this little piece here; I can see the tip of it. I think it broke into three pieces. I’ll try to get them out. You’re going to want to have your sock again though.”

So Ruvik shoved the sock back into his mouth and braced himself for the pain.

Sebastian frowned as he gazed upon the injury. The tweezers were an adequate size but it would be difficult to pull the shards out without a reliable source of light. The flashlight on his phone would make do but he had to be careful, there was a lot of tissue that could be grabbed and yanked accidentally and he didn’t want Ruvik to hurt anymore than he already was. Considering he’s still getting used to feeling physical stimuli, Sebastian assumed he’d be particularly sensitive to pain. He steadied his calloused hand and carefully entered the wound.

Ruvik’s breathing began to pick up pace again, his anxiety and fear was affecting Sebastian as well. He halted his actions for a brief time to let Ruvik calm down.

“You okay bud? I know it’s going to hurt but let’s just try to get this over as soon as possible alright?” He peered over at Ruvik’s clenched fist and brought it up over his shoulder. “If you need to squeeze, just squeeze me. I’m here. You’re gonna be okay.”

Ruvik nodded weakly and gulped after forcing his eyes shut. Sebastian rubbed his shoulder and continued his ministrations.

A larger fragment of the bullet was just below the layer of skin and was easy to retrieve. Ruvik let out a small whine as Sebastian grabbed it with the tweezers and worked it out of the flesh. He set it down on the piece of gauze he laid earlier.

“See?” He whispered softly and close enough to raise the hairs on Ruvik’s forearm, “that wasn’t so bad. There’s only two little pieces left.” He went back to the gash and began working the tweezers back inside.

This time, Ruvik could really feel it, Sebastian could tell by the small jagged nails pinching and clawing his shoulder. His jaw clenched and bit down hard on the sock in his mouth. The only comfort was Sebastian’s body heat warming his cool clammy skin.

The tweezers dug deep, worming their way through the flesh and tissue that encased the bullet shard. Sebastian tried his best not to grab the wrong thing but the undependable light emitting from the phone made it near impossible to not have any slip ups. Every time he pinched at tissue, Ruvik would flinch and hiss muffled cries from behind the sock. He had almost had a piece too but Ruvik had jolted and made Sebastian instinctively pull back to let him relax before proceeding. Blood had started to pour out of the wound again; all of the sudden movement must have irritated any coagulation.

“Fuck! You’re bleeding again... I gotta hurry and get the rest out. You’re going to have to tough it out, I know it hurts but you gotta stay still Ruvik. Do you understand me?” Sebastian asked while digging deeper into the bloodied injury, trying to get a better hold on the jagged piece of metal.

Ruvik squirmed under Sebastian’s weight with tears streaming down his face. His eyes were screwed shut and twisted in pain. Sebastian could hear him sobbing through the sock.

Determined, he clamped down hard on the piece of bullet and with the pressure of the tweezers, it popped out between them. He quickly placed it on the now bloodied gauze and went back in for the last piece. He shone the light of his phone directly into the shot, blotting the wound with some extra gauze so he could get a clearer look. The last shard had been buried deep and he’d have to dig in harder than the last two.

Outside, the rain had picked up again and beat down on the metal roof of the small duplex creating a loud metallic noise overhead. The sound was distracting and evoked even more anxiety, Sebastian watched the water pour down the glass of the nearest window then averted his attention back to the situation at hand.

He glanced over to Ruvik and gently squeezed his hand. “This’ll be the last one, it’s going to hurt like a bitch though. Just remember to breathe okay?” Ruvik’s head struggled to nod.

The tweezers dug in far deeper than before, Sebastian could feel all the resistance of the tissue and muscle. He was praying he wouldn’t do permanent damage to his arm as he circled around in the wound. He finally hit something metallic.

At this point Ruvik was grunting and occasionally yelping as Sebastian poked and prodded around in his flesh. As he wiggled in deeper to get ahold of the fragment, Ruvik was flailing around, twisting his body in agony and screaming through the sock. Sebastian grabbed the bullet shard and yanked hard to which Ruvik squeezed his shoulder so hard, Sebastian was sure he’d have bruises tomorrow.

The shard finally came out and was plopped down on the gauze. Sebastian panted as he readied a needle and thread. He felt the pressure of Ruvik’s hand release and the bed creak. Sebastian peered over to see Ruvik’s eyes shut and his breathing evened out; he passed out again. The blanket had jostled its way down Ruvik’s body exposing his chest to the frigid air so Sebastian tugged it up to his neck to keep him warm.

As he sewed the wound shut he watched to make sure nothing was out of the ordinary. He finished the final stitch and stared at the small body on the bed. If he didn’t make it through this, Sebastian would have to carry that for the rest of his life but on the other hand he did what he could and if Ruvik’s life were to end (again) then that was the way it was supposed to be.

His own eyes had succumbed to dreariness and he struggled to keep them open. The results would have to wait until morning even though it was nearing that time already.

As he readied himself for bed he realized he had set Ruvik in his own bed. He didn’t feel like explaining to Lily why he was sleeping on the couch so he would just sleep next to the bed sitting on the chair he had brought in for the “operation”.

He settled himself in the chair and laid his head next to Ruvik’s arm, nestling it into the comforter, trying to ignore the blood and smell of vomit so close to his head. Sleep came with no problem and they both snored peacefully after a chaotic night, Ruvik’s fingers wrapped gently in Sebastian’s dark hair as the sun came up over the horizon through the gentle showers of rain.

Chapter Text

A sharp burning pain woke Ruvik out of the deep sleep he was having. His eyes were red and felt like sand had been embedded in them the whole length of his slumber. As he slowly opened them, the bright light of the sun peeked through the blinds and made him squint, to which he used his hand to shield the rays.

Now that his eyes were more focused, they darted around the room as he slowly sat up in the bed. Sebastian was no where in sight, he had been sleeping next to him and if Ruvik was being completely honest with himself, he was a bit dejected that he hadn’t remained there. Instead, a small note sat on the end table.

Ruvik reached over to grab it not without yelping in pain as he somehow forgot about the gunshot wound that would scar his collarbone. His hand traced over the poor suture job by Sebastian and he smiled. No one had ever gone that far out for the sake of him. No one ever cared enough and if they did they were long gone now.

His heart fluttered in his chest as Sebastian’s handsome weathered face popped into his head. For quite some time now, Ruvik had these feelings for the man that he couldn’t explain.

He had watched Sebastian fall into a dark hole and lift himself back out of it. Watched him battle through another bout of STEM and come out of it once again. Watched him play and bond with his daughter while still dealing with the demons in his head. Ruvik admired his strength and resilience, part of him was jealous that Sebastian could endure these trials and tribulations and still come out of them a kind and caring person. Another part of him was jealous for another reason.

During his time being unnoticed, he would watch as Sebastian flirted and mingled with random women. Though he never did anything with them, somewhere deep down in Ruvik there was an urge that worried him. He hadn’t felt the urge since his time with Mobius. As he would watch in disgruntled silence, Ruvik fantasized about sawing their pretty little heads open or tearing their ample chests apart. Ruvik knew very well just how handsome Sebastian was, that didn’t mean he had to share.

He stared down at the wound and realized how disturbing and cynical his thoughts were. At times he only felt scared and alone, like his anxiety was always out of control but those dark thoughts were always looming like thunderclouds on a mediocre day. Merging with Leslie had changed a lot about himself and he was still discovering things. The best thing to come out of it was the ability to feel. His body was so smooth and sensitive. Though at the moment it was a curse more than a blessing.

Though he was naked at that moment, he could feel the blanket atop him so vividly. How it rustled against his skin and how some parts were scratchy from old age and dragged against his skin producing goosebumps. The feeling was wonderful, he relished in the softness of the bed for as long as he could.

He sighed and grabbed the note drowsily.

“Hope your arm is doing better, if we’re lucky there won’t be any infections. I had to help Lily with her things and I talked with my parents for a bit. Just stay in my room for the time being, I’ll have to introduce you to Lily. I think you’ll like her. I’ll bring you some food so don’t worry, it’s a special treat ;) I’ll check in on you throughout the day.”

Ruvik rolled his eyes as he set the note on the edge of the table. He’d have to stay in here for the rest of the time? Oh well, at least it was comfortable and warm.

As he settled in the bed once more, a sour smell rose to his nose and made his nose crinkle a bit. He smelt of vomit and blood. Later he’d ask Sebastian for some help with a bath or something. In the meantime, he’d catch up on sleep and wait for Sebastian to check on him.

***

Sebastian yawned and scratched the back of his neck as he stood over the blazing heat of the pot he was calmly stirring. His eyes directed themselves to the soft padding of footsteps on tile and he turned his head to see Lily heading towards the table to sit down.

“What are you making dad?” she asked with a slight raise of her brow, “it smells like ketchup.”

Sebastian chuckled, “Might as well be, just making a little snack for myself. I’ll cook something later tonight, what are you in the mood for hmm?”

“Umm,” she thought out loud, “What about pizza?”

“Pizza? Again? We just had some the other day.”

Lily lowered her head a bit and Sebastian sighed. “Pizza is fine, I mean who gets tired of pizza right?”

Lily pumped a fist under the table and got up to look for the number for the pizza place. Sebastian peered up and saw Lily heading for his bedroom and his heart skipped a beat. “Lily! Wait!”

She froze and glanced back at Sebastian wide-eyed, her hand still resting on the handle. “Why? What’s wrong?” she questioned curiously.

Sebastian lowered the heat on the stove and thought up a small lie. “You can’t go in there right now, uh, Santa dropped off some gifts early to help me.” He smiled awkwardly.

Lily raised a brow and crossed her arms. “Really dad? Santa? Everyone at school knows he’s not real.”

“What?!” Sebastian exclaimed, “you don’t believe in Santa anymore?”

She shook her head slowly and Sebastian grabbed a bowl out of the cupboard cautiously, thinking what to say next.

“You know,” he began, “just because they don’t believe, doesn’t mean you don’t have to.”

“Dad, how is it possible for one man to go all over the world and deliver to every kid?”

“It’s magic Lily! You have to believe or else you won’t get anything.” He smirked mischievously.

“Really?” She slowly made her way back to the table, staring at Sebastian intrigued.

“Yep, haven’t you got stuff before? You’ve always believed and you got your presents. Think of what would happen if you didn’t.”

“Okay dad, I get it. I’ll keep believing.”

“Good, now go work on your science project young lady,” he commanded while pouring the contents of the pot into the bowl.

Lily disappeared into her room and Sebastian’s face dropped into its usual frown. He blanked out for a bit before he grabbed the bowl and headed towards his bedroom.

***

Ruvik stirred around in the sheets as he heard the door click open. He popped his head out from under the covers and felt his heartbeat quicken.

Sebastian strode over to the side of the bed and set down a steaming bowl of something on the end table. A strong smell of tomato wafted into Ruvik’s nose piquing his interest.

“Hey I uh, got you somethin’. It’s not very fancy or anything but maybe you’ll like it,” Sebastian smiled as he settled into the chair next to the bed.

Ruvik scooted to the edge of the bed, grabbing the covers with him to keep his naked body from Sebastian’s sight. He leaned closer to the bowl to inspect its contents and immediately glanced up at Sebastian with confusion.

“What is it?”

Sebastian tried to remain tight lipped but busted out a small laugh and gave a toothy grin. “It’s Spaghetti O’s! Come on try some!”

Ruvik stared at Sebastian in disbelief. Sebastian squirmed under his gaze.

“What? Something wrong?” Sebastian asked suddenly worried.

Ruvik smiled and huffed a breath of air. “I can’t believe you actually kept your word. Is it good?”

“I personally like it but maybe that’s because I’m garbage. Don’t think someone like you is going to like it.”

“‘Someone like me’?”

“A spoiled brat.”

Ruvik glowered. “I am NOT a brat.”

Sebastian threw his hands up in surrender. “Hey I’m just teasing, but you gotta admit, you have some expensive taste. You were an aristocrat after all.”

Ruvik rolled his eyes. “I suppose that’s fair to assume. I had a good life, up until I was locked in the basement for eight years, give or take.”

Sebastian appeared visibly uncomfortable and Ruvik sighed. “I’m sorry. It appears that I’m being ungrateful and resentful. Thank you Sebastian. For everything.” He cast his eyes down and picked at the skin on his fingers.

“No problem, now eat your delicious lunch before it goes cold,” Sebastian smiled and watched in anticipation.

Ruvik spooned the small circular pasta and shoved it in his mouth suspiciously. His face immediately scrunched up. “Ugh, what is this? Ketchup and pasta?”

“Everyone’s a critic,” Sebastian quipped then his face turned dark and his posture slumped, “listen Ruvik, I’m really sorry about... you know..” he motioned around his shoulder.

“Sebastian, it’s okay. I told you, we’re even now. Unfortunately for you, I think I’ll live thanks to your inadequate surgery skills.” Ruvik smirked as he munched on his food but it quickly faded when he saw Sebastian hunched over.

“It was like I was there again. It felt so real. I could feel the blood, even smell it. Just what the fuck did Joseph do to us? Did you see it too?”

Ruvik grew silent for a time, screwing his eyes shut as he remembered that horrendous memory. “I believe I saw something different from you. The gas honed in on our deepest fears, making us relive and experience them again. I was back in that barn... with her...”

“Ruvik...”

“I could smell her hair burning Sebastian. I could smell my own flesh burning! It felt so incredibly real, I swore I was on fire again. It had tricked me. Then you broke me free of that nightmare. You saved me from the flames.”

“I wouldn’t call it that,” he murmured, “we don’t have to talk about this now. Right now, we just need to make sure you don’t get an infection. How have you been feeling?”

“Sufficient I suppose, in need of some pain killers, but fine. You’re lucky you missed my subclavian artery. I’d be six feet under by now. I have to admit, I’m rather impressed with how you handled the situation— what?” Ruvik noticed Sebastian staring at his chest and covered himself with the sheets that must have slipped down without him noticing, a slight blush came to his face.

Sebastian shook his head and averted his eyes anywhere else. “Sorry! It’s just, I forgot how intensely pale Leslie was. Even your nipples are white,” he observed while stifling a laugh.

“Really Sebastian? I’m trying to commend your deeds and you stare at my— my nipples?” he huffed with embarrassment.

Sebastian barked out a laugh and stood up while stretching his arms. “Well you’re welcome Mr. Victoriano. Now eat your food, its got plenty of vitamins.”

“Yeah, vitamin tomato.”

“Ugh! Rude! I’ll eat it if you don’t—“

“No! I was joking, I’m actually really hungry.”

Sebastian squinted and smirked then started searching through his closet to find Ruvik some clothes. “That’s what I thought. We’re having pizza later. Don’t know if you’re ready to meet Lily yet though. I’ll bring you a few slices, you cool with that?” There was no response. “Ruvik?”

He heard the faint sounds of coughing and sputtering so he turned his head toward the bed and saw Ruvik choking on the Spaghetti O’s. “Oh Jesus Christ!”

Sebastian trudged over to the bed and sat on the side of it, grabbing onto Ruvik’s small body and smacking his back. Ruvik kept shaking his head and appeared to be trying to say something. “Hey! What’s wrong? Let me get you some wat—“

“Sebastian,” Ruvik coughed, “I’m fine, I just inhaled a noodle is all. There’s no need for a panic.” He set the bowl down haphazardly onto the end table.

Sebastian blinked and then blushed from embarrassment. “Oh, umm, yeah. Be careful, noodles can be treacherous,” he laughed nervously.

Ruvik smiled and playfully punched Sebastian’s chin. “Hah! You worry about me! You like me Seb, admit it!”

Sebastian rolled his eyes, “Yeah, whatever you want to think. I’m just looking out for your dumbass because no one else will.” He then furrowed his eyebrows as a putrid stench entered his nose, he sniffed closer to Ruvik. “Oh Jesus Christ, is that you? Shit you stink!”

Ruvik grabbed Sebastian’s nose and pulled him closer, “I wonder why that is hmm? Oh yeah, you shot me and I vomited all over myself so excuse me for not smelling like roses”, he emphasized the last word by shoving Sebastian away from him.

“Oh yeah,” Sebastian scratched the back of his neck, “Umm, if you need help with that later just let me know. I can help you with the bath tub or shower if you need it, you’re pretty frail.”

Ruvik blanked out dreaming about the thought of Sebastian bathing him, then was quickly broke out of his trance with snapping fingers in front of his face.

“Hey! Do you want my help or not?” He asked softly enough to melt Ruvik into a puddle of goo. He shifted in the bed a little.

He stared into Sebastian’s hazel eyes and lost himself within them. Sebastian began to scoot back after realizing how close they were, which honestly sort of hurt Ruvik. “Yes, I’d like that. Thank you Sebastian.”

Sebastian grinned and ruffled Ruvik’s pale hair with one of his large hands, making him blush even more. Sebastian couldn’t help but laugh. He stood up and strode back over to the closet, picking out some well worn clothes for Ruvik to wear.

Sebastian threw a black T-shirt and a pair of grey sweatpants over onto the edge of the bed, “There, at least get dressed so you’re not naked anymore— oh I almost forgot,” a pair of underpants flew right into Ruvik’s face making him scowl. “Oops sorry, they might be a bit big but you’re smart, you can cinch them.”

“I thought I was a dumbass,” he stated in a bored tone as he started to dress himself.

“Mmm, only with certain things. Okay if you need anything else just knock on the door, try not to be too loud. Lily is already suspicious. I’ll bring you some pain killers in a bit. I’ll be out here,” Sebastian flew out the door without any chance to say anything else.

Ruvik was already getting stir crazy but he was pretty content with laying in bed wearing Sebastian’s clothes. Perhaps there is a higher power after all.

Chapter Text

Ruvik’s legs twitched and squirmed under the sheets. They were fidgety from lack of exercise as was the rest of his body. He didn’t want to go back on Sebastian’s word though and appear suddenly around Lily. It would be awkward and he very much wanted to avoid the encounter all together. He had never dealt with children and had no ambitions to do so.

The bed creaked as he lifted his torso up off the bed and placed himself against the wall to sit up at least. He winced when he put too much pressure on his injured arm and cursed inwardly. It was such a simple wound but the pain it was causing was close to excruciating. Of course, Ruvik had been through worse pains so this was closer to that of a blister than a gunshot. Nonetheless, it was pretty painful.

Judging by the sound of the front door opening, Sebastian must have received the pizza finally. Thinking about it made his stomach rumble. The Spaghetti O’s weren’t much of a meal and they gave Ruvik slight heartburn. Still, he wanted a slice of pizza and his salivary glands made that apparent.

After eating, he would get a bath. The smell had worn off a bit from changing his clothes but it was still present and strong on his skin. It made his already upset stomach twist and turn. Besides, he hadn’t had a bath in quite some time. Not one where he could actually feel the warmth of the water. This time it would feel fantastic so he spent the time waiting for Sebastian to fantasize about it.

Just then there was a light tapping on the door. Ruvik’s head perked up and turned towards the door.

Sebastian’s head popped in the small opening along with a plate of pizza; around 3 slices. He cautiously looked behind him then peered back at Ruvik.

“Hey, uh, you want some? I got two so I figured you could eat quite a bit. You’re probably pretty hungry hmm?” He whispered as if Lily would pop out of nowhere.

Ruvik slowly stretched his legs and hiked them over the edge of the bed. When he stood he could feel all of his lethargic muscles cramp up and sent him falling to his knees in a crumpled mess. On his way down, his shoulder hit the end table and he screamed loudly. Sebastian’s face filled with worry. He scrambled to set the plate down and quickly assessed Ruvik’s pathetic form on the ground.

“Ruvik! Are you okay? What’s wrong with your legs?” Sebastian lightly held onto Ruvik’s other shoulder and watched as a dark blotch formed into the black shirt on the opposite side. “Shit, here, lets get you into the bathroom,” he grunted as he struggled to get Ruvik in his arms.

Sebastian trudged into the bathroom haphazardly, trying his best not to hit Ruvik on anything. He set Ruvik down on the toilet clumsily and curiously stared at Ruvik’s hand still clutched on his shirt.

“Ruvik, you can let go now,” Sebastian gently encouraged him to loosen his grip but Ruvik’s other hand grabbed hold of his wrist in a vice-like grip. Sebastian’s eyes grew wide and concerned when he glanced at Ruvik’s face. A few tears had already streamed down the side of his cheeks.

“Sebastian,” Ruvik choked out, “it hurts. It hurts so bad. Why does it hurt?!” His body shivered and shook. Bones jutted out from underneath his skin. It made sitting on the hard toilet seat almost unbearable. At this point he was full on crying.

Without a second thought, Sebastian wrapped his arms around his small body and hugged him. One of his large hands rested on the soft down on Ruvik’s head, making him burrow into Sebastian’s neck.

“Hey, shhh. It’s alright. Your body is just a bit malnourished. We’ll get it back into good shape I promise,” he pet the delicate white hair that covered his fingers, gently massaging his scalp occasionally. “I think bathing will make you feel better hmm? How does that sound?”

Ruvik nodded in the crook of his neck and Sebastian awkwardly pat his back to signify he was done hugging. “Okay, I’ll be right back. I gotta go check and see if Lily is asleep or not. Just stay right here, I have to put another stitch in. Damn thing came out,” he started mumbling towards the end of his sentence and strolled out of the room.

Ruvik’s face contorted when he felt the wetness of the blood underneath his shirt. It was sticky and uncomfortable. His eyes drooped and his back hunched over. Every limb felt twenty pounds heavier than it should have. It was a hassle to do anything in this body.

His fist clenched along with his teeth. He never anticipated this. He never even thought of going through something like this again but here he was. This was his Hell. He was sure of it. Being cursed to be incapacitated for the time he’d be on this miserable planet. Hot tears rolled down his cheeks again as he stifled his frustrated sobs. He breathed in a big gulp of air and slowly let it out. His body finally began to ease up. He would get through this. Just like he did before, this would be easier than recovering from burns. So why was he so bent out of shape then?

Sebastian tripping over something on his way there brought him out of his fit. He could hear Sebastian cursing at one of Lily’s toys she must have left in the bedroom. Ruvik couldn’t help the small grin that spread on his face.

Sebastian sauntered in with a towel and a clean bandage. He set everything on the counter and grabbed for the needle and thread he left in there from the night before.

“Okay,” his voice trailed off, “I’m going to have to make use of my shitty suture skills again I’m afraid. Just hold still, I’ll get the tub running after we’re done here,” he suggested while pulling the thread through the needle.

It wasn’t as painful as the first time but it wasn’t pleasant either. Ruvik knew sooner or later they would probably have to see a professional to actually patch him up. He was reluctant though. Was Leslie Withers considered dead? If so, it would be a bit strange to turn up at a hospital as a previously dead person. He would hold out as long as he could.

Sebastian cut off the excess thread and gently pat some Neosporin over the red and irritated wound. He bent over the tub and turned the faucet. He tested the water and faced towards Ruvik. “Okay umm, if you want to get in— I’ll just uh, be waiting out there.” He made his way for the door before Ruvik piped up.

“Can you actually... help me? My arms.. they’re so weak. I fear I might fall asleep too. Just— Just stay in here with me please? You don’t have to actually do anything...” Ruvik’s face couldn’t get anymore red if it wanted to.

Sebastian stood in the doorway flabbergasted. For some time, he hesitated but looking down at the scrawny body filled him with pity. He sighed as he made his decision. He blinked then let go of the handle and shut the door. “Alright. I’ll help you but you got to wash your... you know. I’m fine with everything else. I understand,” he glanced down at his feet.

Ruvik slowly began to lift his arms to strip his shirt off and Sebastian quickly turned around to look the other way. “Just tell me when you’re in the tub,” he stammered.

Ruvik continued struggling with taking his clothes off. When he finally got his ill fit underwear off, he attempted to stand and ended up gripping the side of the tub as his body gave out and crumpled to the floor. Sebastian instinctively went to help and blushed when he was looking down at a naked Ruvik. His heart ached as he saw the ribs and hip bones poking out of his alabaster skin. He sighed and gently grabbed Ruvik’s good arm and lifted him up into a standing position, letting Ruvik put most of his weight on him to step in the tub.

As soon as Ruvik’s leg met with the water, instant goosebumps traveled up his body and made him moan. Sebastian averted his eyes and slowly lowered his frail body into the warm and welcoming water.

When Ruvik was fully in the tub, his eyes instantly shut in deep and wonderful bliss. Tears began to well in his eyes again but he shook them away; he wouldn’t cry in front of Sebastian again. Every muscle in his tired and feeble body loosened as he sunk in deeper.

He almost forgot Sebastian was there before he heard shuffling behind him. His head was buried in a cabinet on the side of the wall. The sound of plastic bottles hitting up against each other made Ruvik guess that that was where he kept the toiletries. His search stopped when he pulled out a emerald colored bottle of what looked like shampoo.

Sebastian raised an eyebrow, “Irish Springs good for you?” He tilted the bottle for Ruvik to see.

“Anything is fine, thank you.”

Sebastian knelt down behind Ruvik’s head and then rolled up his sleeves. “I’ll get your hair for you, let me just... find.. a.. Aha! Found one!” He triumphantly held up a small cup.

Sebastian scooped some of the water into the cup and carefully poured it over Ruvik’s thin, fluffy hair. His hand cupping his small forehead and brushing back to keep the water out of his face. Ruvik’s eyes were closed and his breath was evening out.

Seeing his hair wet was an interesting sight, it’s usual fluff was gone and now it clung close to his head. It was reminiscent of his usual bald head but the water had darkened his pale hair into a light grey color ruining the illusion. His eyelashes were clumped with water as well. It made them look like deformed little white spiders on the tops of his cheeks.

Sebastian found himself staring intently at him. This was Leslie’s face. He had never really seen him with such euphoria and peace. The time he spent with him he was horrified and distressed. Seeing this was nice though. His pale skin was glowing under the dim light of the bathroom. He had never seen anyone so pale before. Of course he had seen albino people on tv and whatnot but not up close. His skin was similar to marble. So smooth and soft looking, Sebastian found himself wanting to touch it.

Ruvik must have noticed him slacking with pouring the water and opened his eyes to look back at him. “Something wrong?”

Those big round eyes studied him with confusion. The red around his eyes contrasting against the cerulean irises. Sebastian for some reason found himself peering down at his full lips. For someone with no color to their skin, he had such pink lips.

Ruvik raised an eyebrow and waved a hand in front of Sebastian’s face. “Hello? Earth to Sebastian,” he interrupted.

“Huh? Oh -uh- sorry. I was just thinking about something,” Sebastian mumbled.

“What were you thinking about?”

He sighed, “I just, don’t know what to do now. I thought maybe I’d be enough to get Joseph back but I guess not. I’m a bit lost now.”

Ruvik played with his hands under the water. “We’ll figure something out. Mobius is tricky though. They make you feel like you’re actually worth something, like you’re a somebody to them,” his voice lowered along with his head, “it is the worst mistake you could make. Feeling like you’re somebody.”

“What do you mean? You’re somebody. You’re a strange somebody but you’re somebody.”

Ruvik’s mood shifted. He suddenly scowled at Sebastian as he finished wetting his hair.

“What?” Sebastian asked innocently.

“I am nobody Sebastian. I died and no one cared. I was probably better off dead to be perfectly honest. No one would care either way.” He slouched in the tub but Sebastian grabbed his chin to turn his head to look directly at him.

“Who’s helping you wash yourself hmm? Who stitched your injury? Who risked their own ass and got you another body AND a second chance of life? You may think you’re alone Ruvik but you’re not. I’m here to help you atone for your sins and get you back to a normal life, stop focusing on the past. I’m over it now and you should be too,” he emphasized the last word by flicking the tip of Ruvik’s nose. Ruvik winced and frowned.

“Why do you care though? After all I put you through. I’d understand if you wanted to drown me right here, you’d have every right to.”

“Then I’d be stooping to your level. As much as I fucking hated your guts, I couldn’t bring myself to abandon someone so pathetic. No offense. I tried telling myself that I was doing it for Leslie. I think we both know that he’s no longer here though.” He sighed deeply and scratched the side of his chin. “Look, I want to help get you a normal life. Your father and that demented scientist took that away from you and made you into a monster. You have another chance to be a better person. I want to help encourage that.”

“You have too much faith in me.”

“Hmm maybe I do. The point is, I know under that psychotic brain of yours, there’s a man in there with talent and intellect that just needs a push in the right direction. It won’t be easy but I’ll be here for you. I’m all you got so take it or leave it.”

Ruvik’s shoulders were shaking, the water was getting cold now but he wasn’t shivering from the water. He was crying again.

“Hey, what's the matter?”

“I’ve never had someone want to be by my side regardless of who I really am. I never had any friends, I scared everyone around me. The only person I cared about died for my sake. She died because of me. Gah! I don’t know why I’m crying so much!” He croaked and wiped the tears from his already wet face.

Sebastian remained silent for a time thinking of what to say next. Nothing came though and he tried to change the subject. “It’s okay to cry Ruvik, obviously your body is wanting to let it out. The water is starting to get cold. Last thing we need is you getting even more sick, now just relax. We can talk some more later alright?”

Ruvik nodded his head and wiped his eyes again.

Sebastian squirted some of the green substance into his palm and began to massage it into his scalp. Ruvik closed his eyes and groaned. No one had ever touched him before. It was... nice. The fresh scent reached his nostrils erasing any smell of the blood or vomit.

Once Sebastian finished rinsing his hair he gave Ruvik a bar of soap. “Uh here, you can wash your bits. Unless you need some he—“

“NO no I don’t need any help with that, just give me it,” he snapped as he snatched the soap out of Sebastian’s hand. His face was completely flushed.

Sebastian smiled as he searched for a towel. He set it on the counter and stared at the door waiting for Ruvik to finish washing the rest of his body.

“I’m done.”

Sebastian grabbed the towel and held it next to the tub. He noticed Ruvik struggling. “Okay, just stand up. I’ve got you.”

“But I have to get out—!” He squeaked as Sebastian took the whole towel and wrapped him up in it and picked him up out of the tub bridal style.

Sebastian laughed when he saw Ruvik’s shocked face. “What’s wrong? Did I make you swoon?” He asked mischievously as they headed to the bed.

“N-no, you just caught me by surprise is all,” Ruvik’s face turned bright red and it spread to his chest, “I’m just tired now.”

“Mmhmm, keep lying to yourself. I know you want my body,” Sebastian teased but Ruvik wasn’t having it and shoved Sebastian’s face away from his own. Sebastian smiled through the delicate hands on his face.

“Sebastian. I am naked and very cold right now. Can you please put me in the bed?”

“Alright fine, I’ll get you some clothes,” he assured as he set Ruvik onto the bed as a small cocoon wrapped in the towel up to his chest.

Sebastian tossed him another oversized shirt and some underpants. He paused during his search through the drawers. “Hey uh, I can’t find anymore pajama pants. You fine with just sleeping with those?”

“Yes, I’ll be under the blankets anyway.”

“Okay. Oh and I’ll probably be sleeping on the floor next to you, don’t want Lily getting anymore suspicious ya know?”

Ruvik played with the towel’s frayed ends. “You know this is a queen sized bed Sebastian, you don’t have to sleep on the floor,” he mumbled nervously.

Sebastian stopped and suddenly glanced over to where Ruvik was sitting in his towel. “You want me to sleep... with you?”

“NO NO!! Nothing like that! I was just saying, it’s a big bed. It’d be foolish for you to sleep on the floor next to it. I’m also very small, I won’t get in your way. It’s just a suggestion,” he stammered unable to look up at Sebastian.

Sebastian pondered at the situation. He hadn’t slept with anyone in his bed for years, save for the few women he brought back for one night stands and Lily when there was a thunderstorm. Those were rare occasions though and he hadn’t slept with a woman since before Beacon. It would be incredibly awkward. Then again maybe it wouldn’t. It wasn’t like he was going to have sex with him or anything. Plus his back hurt already too much. He let out a long sigh.

“Fine, I’ll sleep in the bed with you BUT you better not cling on to me or anything. I know I said I’d be there for you but don’t get too chummy. Deal?”

“Deal.”

As Sebastian settled into bed, Ruvik changed into the clothes he gave him and it almost made him choke on his own spit. The shirt wasn’t as oversized as he thought it was and it rode up exposing his slender body and the loose fitting underwear he gave him. They were baggy so Ruvik must have pulled them up higher so they wouldn’t fall off but in doing so, Sebastian could see the fold of where his leg and ass met. It took all of his strength and willpower not to look so he shoved his head into the pillow.

“Would you hurry up and get in the damn bed!?” His voice was muffled in the pillow.

Ruvik’s expression was confused but was still unaware of the way he looked so he sluggishly climbed into the bed.

The night was awkward but somehow it was peaceful. Feeling someone else’s warm body close and knowing he wasn’t alone. Ruvik couldn’t help but smile to himself. Sleep came easily that night.

Ruvik kept his end of the bargain and kept to himself all night. Fortunately for him though, Sebastian broke his own rule and had Ruvik wrapped around him close to his chest to feel his heartbeat. Ruvik had never slept better.

Chapter Text

Ruvik stirred only when he had realized the warmth of Sebastian's body was absent. He stared at the indentation of where he had been laying, wondering if he harbored any of the same feelings Ruvik had.

They had been sleeping together for almost three weeks now. Winter was finally settling in and Ruvik still felt lost. He had made no progress whatsoever with the thick headed man. Ruvik was beginning to wonder if he was becoming a mere stuffed animal for him to cling to at night. He felt used. These thoughts began to fester in his brain.

Sebastian still hesitated in introducing Lily to him and if Ruvik was being honest with himself, it really hurt. He had thought there was at least some trust between them but Sebastian must have still seen him as that disfigured phantom.

Ruvik's thoughts were interrupted when a noise emitted from what seemed like the kitchen. Sebastian was supposed to be at work and Lily at school. Who was here?

Cautiously, he stuck his head out from a small crack in the door to investigate. When he didn't hear any further disturbances, he let the door open all the way and slowly made his way to the kitchen. It must have been the house settling.

The tile was cold and made him tiptoe to the refrigerator to see if there was anything to snack on. He scanned the shelves and noticed the bunch of grapes Sebastian had bought him were missing. He grit his teeth and rolled his eyes back into his head.

“Why even buy the damned things if you're going to eat them–”

Before he could finish mumbling to himself, he noticed a pair of big blue eyes observing him from behind the bar. Ruvik let out a little gasp as he continued to stare her down. Black hair, pale pristine skin, beautiful light eyes, it felt like he was looking upon a young Laura. She calmly set down a bowl with a gnarly twisted mess of twigs. There goes his snack.

“–all. Uhh…” Ruvik struggled to form a coherent sentence. “I suppose I should introduce myself. I'm Ruben although your father prefers to call me 'Ruvik’.”

She remained silent but appeared to be studying him like a hawk. If Ruvik had to guess, she had probably never seen an albino person before. That would explain her curious expression.

Feeling awkward he decided to leave her be. “Well I'll just be going back in the room, I'll let your father explain–”

“You're really pretty! Your skin is so white and smooth, are you albino?” she asked kindly.

Ruvik's eyes widened and he found himself blushing a little. No one had ever called him pretty. “I– um well yes I am. Are you not at all curious as to why I'm here?”

A wide grin spread on her face. “You're my dad's boyfriend, I already know don't worry. I heard you scream one morning. I guess my dad's embarrassed or something but he really shouldn't be! It's been years now since my mom… well nevermind that. But–”

Ruvik was more red than a tomato at this point. “No no no! I'm not his… boyfriend. I'm just helping him with something.”

“Soooo you have to live in his bedroom with him?” she quirked an eyebrow at him.

Ruvik could not be more embarrassed, he slowly made his way to the bedroom door while trying to get her to stop asking questions. “Well, it's quite complicated. I don't think someone as young as yourself should have to worry about such things. Just trust your father enough to know everything's fine.” He gave her his best fake smile.

“Okay but how come you have to stay in there?”

“It's simply your father's wishes. I'm in no place to question him.”

“This doesn't sound like a very healthy relationship.”

“Perhaps it's not but you need not worry. I will just take my leave–” his voice trailed off as he reached for the door handle.

“Hey!” She shouted, startling Ruvik. “Are you any good at science? I need help with my science fair project but my dad kinda sucks at helping me. Can you?”

Ruvik beamed at the question. “I love science. What do you need assistance with?”

Lily smiled widely and grabbed Ruvik's hand and drug him to her room. “Come in here! This is where I have everything we need!”

For the first time in years, Ruvik genuinely smiled.

***

Sebastian wiped the tiredness from his eyes. Though the work at a retail store wasn't hard persé, it was still tiring to deal with. KCPD had been trying to contact him relentlessly. As much as he missed the force, he didn't think it was a wise decision right now. Lily needed him and a simple nine to five job was going to give him more time to spend with her.

As he pulled into the driveway he thought of ways to introduce Ruvik to Lily. He personally didn't think they'd get along very well but Ruvik was living with them now so it'd be beneficial to have them know each other at least. He sighed as he made his way up to the front door.

When he entered the house it was more quiet than he had expected. Lily was off for winter break so he thought she'd be jumping off the the walls with excitement. “She really is growing up,” he thought solemnly.

Suddenly, he heard a laugh come from Lily's bedroom which caught him off guard. Did she have a friend over? She hadn't said anything about it though. Then he heard a much deeper voice and sprinted to her door.

As he opened the door hurriedly he shouted, “Lily! Just who in the–”

Ruvik was kneeling on the ground opposite of Lily, a pink marker in his hand. Between them was a large tri-fold poster board. Sebastian blinked at the scene.

Sebastian lowered his voice and whispered as if Lily wouldn't hear. “Ruvik? What are you doing in here? You're supposed to stay in my room!”

“Dad you know I can hear you right? What's wrong with Ruben hanging out with me? He seemed pretty lonely so I let him help me with my project,” she smiled at him as if to wave off the situation.

Sebastian mustered his best dad voice, “Lily, he's a stranger! Haven't I taught you not to talk to strangers? Who knows what he could've done?”

Lily turned fully around to face her dad and gave him a confused look. “If he's such a stranger, than why have him in our house?”

Damn. She had a point. He glanced at Ruvik who appeared to be ready to explode at any minute. “What's wrong with you? You got your way didn't you? Even though I told you specifically to wait for me to introduce you two.”

Lily's mouth was agape and Ruvik stood, trudged towards the door, shoulder checked Sebastian on the way out, and slammed the door to Sebastian's bedroom so hard both of them cringed.

Lily began to put up her markers and let out a sigh. “Why are you so mean to Ruben dad? I think you're being a bit unfair. If he was going to hurt me, don't you think he would've done it by now?”

Sebastian scratched at the back of his neck and nodded. “Yeah okay, you're right. I guess I'm just paranoid.”

“Why? He's really sweet.”

“Lily, don't underestimate him. I know he looks small and defenseless but I know a different side of him and it has really messed me up. I'm just asking you to be careful okay?”

“Yeah fine. I think you should apologize though. I think you hurt his feelings.”

Sebastian rolled his eyes.

“Dad…”

“Okay okay fine! I don't know when he became so sensitive Jesus Christ.”

“Everyone has a sensitive side dad. Maybe he just finally found his. You aren't helping by being the way you are.”

“Okay thank you Dr. Phil.”

Lily smiled triumphantly and stood to walk towards the kitchen again. “I'm still hungry. I ate a whole bunch of grapes and I'm still starving. Geesh.”

Sebastian watched as she trotted away. He lifted his head towards his bedroom and bit his top lip. What the hell was his deal? His mood has declined over the last few days and Sebastian couldn't figure out why. He spent time with him so he wasn't completely alone and bought him things that he requested. Hell, he let the guy sleep in his own bed with him! That's more than enough. In Sebastian's opinion, he was almost being too nice.

He gathered himself and headed to the door.

***

When he entered the room, Ruvik was sitting on the side of the bed furthest away from the door with his back facing Sebastian. Sebastian hesitated before knocking lightly on the door to get his attention. He remained motionless. Sebastian huffed out a long breath of air and walked in so he could face him.

Ruvik was staring out the window, watching the leaves dance in the light breeze. “Sebastian. Would it be best if I left?” He asked quietly breaking the silence.

Sebastian wasn't expecting that so he stumbled over his words a little. “Well if– if that's what you want. I told you you can stay here as long as you abide by my rules. I think I've been pretty nice–”

Ruvik's head snapped up to scowl at Sebastian. “Nice? That's what you think this has been? Nice?! I've been cooped up in a small room for weeks now with almost no human interaction! You cling to me at night like an octopus with separation anxiety! What do you want from me Sebastian?! Hmm? I'm trying my best to understand and I think I've done pretty well. The only person here that can't move on is you!” He spat in Sebastian's direction as he stood up angrily.

“Ruvik,” he started, “do you even realize how terrible of a person you were? You sliced people up for fun. Of course I'm going to be overly cautious with you being in the same house as my daughter you dumbfuck! I'm glad you think you're changing for the better, but can you at least try to look at this from my perspective?!”

Ruvik was so close now that Sebastian could feel his breath on his cheek. “Oh believe me Sebastian, I could've easily slit your throat in the dark of the night. Let your blood pour over me as I watch the life drain out of your eyes. But I didn't. I have no interest in the matter anymore. If I wanted to do something to Lily, it would've been done by now so get over yourself!”

“Hah! Says the guy that still cries out for his big sister at night. When are you ever going to get over that!? Beacon happened waaay more recent than your sister.”

Ruvik's eyes went wide and tears started to well in them. He took a few steps back and clenched his fist. Sebastian Immediately regretted the words that fell out of his mouth.

“Ruvik, I'm sorr–”, he attempted to grab Ruvik's shoulder but only got met with a loud slap to his arm.

At this point tears were streaming down his face. “NO! I'm done Sebastian! Done! I don't know why I ever had any sort of feelings for you but it was obviously a miscalculation.” He began storming out of the room, pushing Sebastian out of the way in the process and into the hall while yelling behind himself, “I will leave so you and your daughter will have the peaceful and happy life you've always wanted. I'm obviously not part of it and never will be. You can find someone else to smell your rancid morning breath!” With that, he slammed the front door and was gone.

Lily stared at the front door then looked back at Sebastian. “What did you do?”

Sebastian sighed and hung his head low. “I fucked up. Real bad.”

Chapter Text

The hours went by and the sun started to make it's decent. Sebastian drummed his fingers along the table impatiently and nervously bit the inside of his cheek. Lily observed from the couch as some sitcom blasted on the TV. She turned it down and manoeuvred herself to face Sebastian in the kitchen. His hand was in his hair and his head hung low.

“Dad?” she asked quietly.

His head snapped up and he smiled at her instinctively, though Lily knew better. “Hmm? What's up?”

“I know you're upset that Ruben hasn't come back,” she affirmed softly. When there wasn't a response, she turned the TV off and padded along the tile floor to sit at the table with him.

Sebastian peered over at her with a troubled expression. He finally let out a defeated sigh. “I thought he'd be back by now. I guess he really was sick of me. I should've known this was going to happen eventually though.”

Lily's eyebrows furrowed and she scooted closer. “Dad, if you're this upset over this, then why aren't you looking for him? He couldn't have gone too far on foot. Right?”

Sebastian thought for a time. Lily was right, there weren't many places for him to go. Down the road there was a grocery store and a small strip mall. What would he want to do there though? A small little light bulb went off in his head.

“Wait!” He exclaimed suddenly, “I think I might know where he is. I know him a lot more than he thinks I do.”

“How long have you known Ruben? How did you two meet?” Lily asked while squinting her eyes suspiciously. “You guys have such a weird relationship.”

Sebastian glared at her. “Okay I know! It is weird! I think I should probably tell you.”

“Tell me what?” her eyes grew wide.

“Well, you know the place you were trapped in for all those years? STEM?” She slowly nodded at the mentioning of the word, “Well, he invented it. The company turned on him though and stole his brain to be the core of it. We got a call from a mental hospital. I was rushing to the scene with– with Joseph and Juli. We all got sucked into his demented mind. That's where I met Ruvik.”

“Ruvik? His name's Ruben though right?”

“Yes his name's Ruben but we called him Ruvik because it was short for Ruben Victoriano. He… tried to kill me multiple times, wanted to see me suffer. There was so much hate and anger in his mind. He showed me his childhood, his sister, and his terrible father. I had lost both you and your mother at this point so I must admit I did pity him a bit but that didn't excuse him for the terrible things he'd done. He's different now. He's softer and I think it's because of Leslie.”

“Now who's Leslie?”

“I'll tell you the whole thing later but I really need to find him because he doesn't know what he's doing and he could be cold. The dumbass has never lived a normal life and I need to show him how.” His head fell into the palms of his hands.

Lily smiled, “Sounds to me that you like him a little more than you should.”

“No! It's nothing like that! He's just… probably one of the only people I can actually talk to about it…” Sebastian halted his words when he realized what he had said.

He had been looking all over for someone to connect with and have a mutual understanding of each other. Someone who wouldn't look at him like a lunatic when he opened up to them. Someone who went through the same thing he went through. He got what he wanted and he ultimately blew it because he couldn't look past the person Ruvik once was.

He suddenly stood up and frantically searched for the keys to his truck. Grabbing them and his phone he ran to the door but stopped just before walking out the threshold. “Lock the door when I close it Lily, I'll be right back!”

Lily nodded and rolled her eyes as she made her way to the couch again. “Pssh they're a thing,” she laughed to herself.

***

Sebastian went to the farthest corners of his brain, where things that he'd never want to think about again resided. One thing that stood out to him while he was in Ruvik's house, was the amount of wine bottles littering the entire place. If he was anything like Sebastian, if anything inconvenient happened in his life, his first action was to drown in a bottle of alcohol.

His truck was parked in front of a drab and almost desolate bar. The place had been here for years but was only somewhat busy on Saturdays. Other than that, it was a ghost town.

Before getting out, he let his eyes wander around the area, searching for a speck of white. Nothing but a drunken couple making out on a bench next to the exit. Sebastian scowled and left the truck to look for the small and troubled man.

Immediately, the smell of stale cigarettes and the vinegary smell of hot wings wafted into his nose. He straightened his jacket and scanned the area. Nothing but some miserable looking sods watching a football game quietly. He huffed in defeat and decided he might as well have a drink himself.

The bartender was a stocky man with a good amount of scruff. He wore a button up shirt that Sebastian thought was a few sizes too small. The buttons we're struggling to hold on so a strip of his bare skin was visible. He couldn't help but stare at his chest. When he finally realized what he was doing he blinked and shook his head. The bartender was staring him down. “So are you gonna stare at my hairy tits or do you want a drink?”

Sebastian's eyes bulged and his face turned red. “I– I wasn't staring at your chest sir. Just like your shirt is all,” he complimented nervously.

“Thanks. What do you want?” He asked in a deep gravelly voice.

“Just whiskey on the rocks.”

The man sneered and trudged away to get what he needed.

***

After two drinks Sebastian decided to give up on the search. It was probably the best for both of them. They would only remind each other of that hellhole so it was only inevitable for them to go their separate ways.

He tipped the bartender and thanked him. Suddenly he turned back around to face him. “Hey uh do you have a restroom?” Sebastian asked.

“No we shit in the sinks.”

“...”

“Right after that booth right there. There's a step down so watch yourself.” He droned on.

Sebastian raised an eyebrow and made sure to not ever come here again.

When he entered the room the harsh smell of bleach or ajax smacked him in the face. He went to the urinals and did his business.

Someone was in one of the stalls. He could hear two people talking, one quieter than the other.

“–after all that flirting and you're not going to hold up your end of the deal? With a mouth as pretty as yours, it's a shame a cock has never been in it.”

Sebastian finished washing his hands and listened some more so he could hopefully hear the other person. There was some rustling and the sound of someone grunting. Sebastian guessed the other person.

“Come on now, don't be scared. I'll go slow for ya. Just– get on the fucking ground!”

Sebastian had heard enough. With all the force he could muster he busted down the stall door, hitting the offender in the back. What he saw made him even more livid.

Ruvik was backed up between the wall and toilet, the man's hand still clenched in his hair. He was clearly inebriated but still conscious enough to try pulling the man's hand off of him.

The man turned to face Sebastian. “What the fuck!? Who do you think you are–”

Before he could even finish his sentence, Sebastian grabbed him by the collar and drug him to the sink. He grabbed the back of his head and bashed it into the ceramic edge of it. When he finished assaulting the man, he lifted his head up and threw him against one of the stalls behind them. He stumbled back and landed on his rear. A small dribble of blood began to drip down his head where he had just been beaten.

Just as the drunkard was about to say something, Sebastian knelt down to eye level with him. He spit right in his face and used both of his hands to grab him by the collar to lift him up to standing position. Sebastian got right up in his face. “If you know what's good for you, I suggest you Get. The. FUCK out of here now!” he barked in his face making him flinch.

The man quickly regained his balance and ran hurriedly out of the restroom without a single word. Sebastian wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and peered back at the stall. Ruvik was still next to the toilet, clutching his legs. Sebastian's face softened and he quietly walked towards him. “Ruben, are you okay?” He asked softly while kneeling down to get a better look at him.

Ruvik's head lifted but he refused to give eye contact with Sebastian. “I'm… fine,” his voice wavered.

Sebastian said no more and offered a hand to him. A trembling, little powder-white hand placed itself in his palm and he squeezed it reassuredly. “Let's go home okay?” Ruvik nodded tiredly.

Sebastian carried Ruvik bridal style out of the bar but just before he opened the door he turned towards the bartender. “Hey big tits!” Sebastian inwardly laughed when he turned to look at him, “Some of your patrons like to prey on vulnerable people, I'd keep an eye out.” Before he could see his reaction, he had already left.

Chapter Text

Sebastian stood against his truck. His arms were crossed and his eyebrows knit together. Before going into the house, Ruvik had started to gag and ended up emptying the contents of his stomach right in one of the bushes that lined the front of the house. Sebastian sighed and shook his head as he slowly approached to kneel down next to the small man and rub his back in gentle circles. With the palm lying on his back, he could feel Ruvik's rib cage expand with every heave. With one last gag, Ruvik seemed to be satiated for the time being. He stared down at the pile of vomit and remained quiet.

Sebastian bated his breath and hesitated before even speaking. "... are you okay?"

"Mnn," Ruvik continued to space out.

Sebastian hung his head and squirmed in the uncomfortable position. "Ruvik, let's go inside. I'll help clean you up alright? C'mon up ya go," he spoke carefully as though anything he said might offend him.

Ruvik's eyelids wavered and he stumbled as he stood. Sebastian's hand snaked around the side of his waist and assisted him to the small step up to the front door.

The house was dark save for a little night light that was nestled in a corner of the kitchen. Lily must have already gone to bed. It was for the best. He would have to deal with drunk Ruvik.

Sebastian gently lowered Ruvik down onto the couch and whispered, "Wait here, I'll get you some water." Before he could go though, a hand wrapped around the collar of his shirt and dragged him down. "Ruben, what the fuck?" Ruvik had pulled him on top of himself so now Sebastian was in between the smaller man's legs.

Before he protested, Sebastian wanted to see what he would do. Ruvik held his face between his delicate little hands, curiously caressing Sebastian's stubbly face. For some reason, Sebastian felt his heart thumping around wildly in his chest as nimble little fingers stroked their way into his brunet locks.

Sebastian tensed up when he thought Ruvik was moving his head down to kiss him but instead he ended up laying on his chest, hearing his soft breaths. He noticed the breaths began to stutter and hault. Ruvik's hands tightened in his hair and he rested his head on the top of Sebastian's; it felt like he was hugging his entire head.

"Sebastian..?" his breathy little voice vibrated against Sebastian's cheek.

"Hmm?"

"Did– did I deserve it?"

"No! Why would you think that?! Jesus Christ Ruben, no one deserves to be treated like that," he blurted. He could feel the smaller body below him shake.

"You've been calling me Ruben."

"Well yeah it's your name," he said nonchalantly, "what's wrong?"

Ruvik sniffled and held tighter. "I.. I love you. I don't know what to do about it. Even if you don't love me back, please don't let me go Sebastian. Please, I'm so lost…"

Sebastian felt something stir deep in his stomach. His eyes darted around the room as if the words he was searching for would just be lying around. He closed his eyes, "I'm here Ruben. I'm here." He bit his top lip and felt awkward when Ruvik didn't respond. "I'm… I'm sorry, about what I said. I was wrong."

Ruvik continued to cry into his hair. "I miss her so much. How do I stop it? How do I stop seeing her in my dreams? It hurts so much…" his voice trailed off into quiet sobs.

"Ruben, it's okay to miss her. I know it hurts but it's also a good thing you remember her right? Live on for her, get better for her you know? Make her proud." Sebastian cringed at himself as the words came out. Damn he was cheesy.

The hands in his hair stopped their ministrations. "You're right. Laura wouldn't want this for me. Thank you Sebastian." He nuzzled into his hair once more.

Around thirty minutes went by, Sebastian could feel Ruvik's breaths even out and assumed he fell asleep. Sebastian huffed out a chuckle. "How could you love someone as fucked up as me?"

"You are too hard on yourself Sebastian. You are laying on someone that killed innocent people yet you put yourself down, why?" Sebastian flinched when he heard his voice again.

"I don't know, maybe it's a dad thing," he grumbled.

"There is no such thing as a perfect father Sebastian. For what it's worth, I think you are a great father. Lily seems like a very happy child."

"Heh, I guess I'm not so bad. Still, falling in love with me will get you nowhere but screwed."

"Then maybe I want to be screwed," Ruvik whispered in his ear.

Sebastian could feel heat where Ruvik's breath hit on the shell of his ear. He lifted himself so he could finally look Ruvik in the eye. His eyes were still glassy from crying but his face was flushed. Sebastian felt a pressure on his crotch as he stared down at him. Heat soared up from his pelvis and rested in his belly. He found himself moaning but quickly moved around to avoid the other's knee.

"Ruben, you're still drunk. You need to sleep."

"What if I don't want to sleep? Hmm Seb?" He purred.

Ruvik's hands crept around Sebastian's neck and pulled him down. Their lips mashed against each other. Sebastian could feel Ruvik's inexperienced tongue enter his mouth and his face immediately scrunched up. They broke apart and Ruvik appeared visibly hurt.

"Sorry, it's just… vomit isn't the sexiest taste."

Ruvik blushed in humiliation. "Just… leave me alone Seb. I'll sleep out here tonight." He curled up on himself like a small child.

A mischievous grin spread across Sebastian's face. He supposed he could humor him a bit. "Last time I checked, the mouth wasn't the only place you can kiss."

Ruvik perked up a bit.

Sebastian started with small little pecks on the underside of Ruvik's jaw, peppering them down his pale neck. Ruvik began to squirm and moan under Sebastian. He let out small little pants when Sebastian sucked at the junction between his neck and shoulder.

After swiping a hot strip of salvia with his tongue, he abandoned Ruvik's neck and grabbed the lapels of his oversized button up shirt. Sebastian busted the buttons on the shirt and exposed an expanse of pale and supple flesh. Sebastian slipped out of the jacket he was wearing and threw it somewhere near the tv. He resumed to lightly kiss Ruvik's neck and stopped when he heard the other giggle. Sebastian's heart seized up on itself and he was for sure that he malfunctioned or something. "Are you.. ticklish?"

The tips of Ruvik's ears were pink. "I.. suppose I am."

Sebastian stored the information into the inner recesses of his brain for a later time. Right now, his target was a little lower down.

Ruvik sucked in a breath when he felt Sebastian's stubble on one of his nipples. He lightly took one in between his fingers and pinched, while his tongue worked the other. Ruvik's back arched and his mouth was parted. His fingers dug into Sebastian's scalp, grabbing a handful of hair off and on again eliciting a husky groan from the bigger man.

Sebastian lifted his head, a chain of saliva following him before he licked his lips. His hands rested on the sides of Ruvik's chest. "You've really filled out since your first night here. Do you feel better?" He rubbed with his thumbs, trying to feel for individual ribs.

"Mhn." Ruvik found himself unable to form coherent sentences with the current situation.

Sebastian brushed his thumb over the bundle of scar tissue at Ruvik's shoulder. "Can't believe that happened almost a month ago. Crazy huh?"

Ruvik nodded fervently. "Sebastian…"

"Hmm?"

"It hurts."

"What hurts?"

Ruvik ground himself against Sebastian's lower thigh and let out a lewd moan.

Sebastian found himself blushing then.

"I–uh… don't think this is a good idea. You're still pretty drunk bud."

"Sebastian please! Stop stalling!" Sebastian could hear the desperation in his voice.

Sebastian's hand came smacking over his own face. He never anticipated having to deal with a drunk AND horny Ruvik. "Kissing just wasn't enough I guess," he thought to himself.

"Okay first off, you're drunk as fuck. Second you are very clearly a virgin and are you entirely sure you want your first time to be when you're drunk? You might not even remember! And third, you were literally molested a while ago." He explained as gently as he could to save the boy's feelings.

Ruvik began to pout and Sebastian couldn't help but feel a bit guilty. "Fine, okay I'll get you off but there's not going to be any penetration tonight. You need to be fully aware, otherwise I'll feel like a goddamn piece of shit."

"It's because I'm ugly isn't it?" Tears welled up in his eyes and Sebastian instantly reached out to wipe them away. Seeing Ruvik this emotional over such trivial things amused the hell out of Sebastian and he tried his best not to laugh.

"No no no! You're very cute. Trust me, you're very tempting but no thank yo–"

Suddenly, Ruvik pushed him back against the couch and straddled his lap. "You don't even have to do anything Seb, I'll do all the work," he slurred. He forcefully grabbed Sebastian's hands and slapped them against both of his asscheeks.

Sebastian's eyes almost popped out of their sockets. "Whoa! Holy shit calm down Ruben! Seems I'm the one getting attacked now." He tried to remove his hands from Ruvik's ass but then Ruvik snaked his hands around his neck and began grinding down on his crotch. Sebastian let out a long groan.

"That's right Seb. You're still mine. To do with as I please."

Sebastian stared back unamused. Ruvik continued to thrust himself into Sebastian's lap not even caring about his reaction. Sebastian was feeling a bit cheeky himself. His hands gripped right above Ruvik's bony hips and he began to thrust into Ruvik's movements.

Ruvik's eyes rolled into the back of his head and his head fell onto Sebastian's shoulder.

Sebastian actually started to get really hard and was thrusting unironically now. It had been months since he had done anything sexual with anyone. He felt his pulse quicken and his breath become uneven. He could feel that tight coil of pleasure slowly become undone. He was so caught up in it though, he didn't realize that Ruvik was unresponsive. As difficult as it was, he halted his movements. He cupped the back of Ruvik's head and scratched at his scalp, "Hey you okay?" He asked breathlessly.

Next to his ear, he heard soft little snores.

He sighed and picked the small body up with ease since he was already clinging to him. With how drunk he was, Sebastian was surprised he didn't fall asleep sooner. He trekked his way into the bedroom, trying to avoid waking him up in any way.

He laid his small body down onto the cool sheets and helped take off his clothes to ready him for bed. After he finished dressing him, he made his way to the bathroom to brush his teeth and maybe relieve himself.

As he swished mouthwash around in his mouth, he realized Ruvik probably wouldn't remember tonight. Did he really meant what he said? Ruvik was in love with him..? If that's why he toyed with him in STEM, then he was weirder than Sebastian thought he was. It was best not to dwell on it though. He was drunk so it couldn't have too much truth to it. Right?

After wiping his face of any toothpaste, he glanced down at the bulge in his pants. It would probably go down on its own but he still shifted his pants down so he could free his erection fully. With a tissue in hand, he began to pump the shaft vigorously. It didn't take much for him to cum all over the tissue and part of his hand. Then he dazed off and felt strange. "I just jacked off to him. To him! What the fuck is wrong with me…" he thought to himself. Embarrassed of himself, he trudged out of the bathroom.

Sebastian clicked the lights off and crawled into bed right next to him. Even through the darkness of the room, those white eyelashes were still visible and they fluttered everytime Ruvik flinched in his sleep. It must have been a nightmare. Sebastian reached a hand out and placed his thumb lightly on his pale cheekbone. The man in the bar flashed through his mind suddenly. Remembering what he did to Ruvik, he grit down on his teeth. "Anyone ever hurts you again like that, they'll go missing," he whispered to himself. Ruvik's eyebrows were drawn together and Sebastian felt a surge of protectiveness wash over him. He couldn't even blame it on the fact that he looked like Leslie, he genuinely liked this little shit. He scooped up the small boy and held him against his chest.

The lull of Sebastian's heartbeat calmed him and they both fell into a deep sleep.

***

There was a certain darkness surrounding Sebastian. A darkness that held positively no light whatsoever. The ground beneath him made squelching sounds with each delayed step. Something was in this place with him, breathing heavily a few feet above him. His heart pumped erratically and a slight tremble took to his hands.
As much as he tried to remain quiet, his panicked breathing and the incessant beating of his pulse increased his already growing anxiety. Whatever was above him was moving toward him with the sickening sound of bones crunching as each step landed.

Sebastian let out a breath he had been trying to hold as he backed up against a wall. Suddenly, down what seemed to be a long hallway, a blinding light erupted from nowhere. Though he could only see the outline and silhouette of the thing above him, he knew exactly what it was. Laura. In her extra pair of arms something was dangling lifelessly. Sebastian's eyes narrowed to get a closer look at it. His heart sank immediately upon discovering what it was.

Lily's small little body was contorted with her arms and legs bent in unnatural ways. Her lifeless eyes stared back at him, they were black and glossy like a doll. His hands shook as they went into his hair. He pulled and tugged on the strands as he fell onto the floor of this hell. He felt hot tears stream down his face and he let out a low and gravelly yell. It echoed throughout the hall, travelling back as he let out another one.

He collapsed backwards and hyperventilated. No matter how close he felt to passing out though, he found that he couldn't.

Suddenly, there was a soft stroking on his left arm. It felt like a small hand. Sebastian's eyes searched for what was touching him. A man in a white and tattered robe was observing him calmly. Burns traveled up from his abdomen to his face; he was practically burnt everywhere. This was none other than Ruvik.

Sebastian's eyebrows furrowed. Why was he here again? Ruvik watched him like a hawk, seemingly blocking his view from his grotesque sister and Sebastian's dead daughter. His breathing evened out a bit before he felt his whole upper body shake.

***

Sebastian took in a large gulp of air as he woke to find himself safely in his bed. The room was quiet until a feather light voice disturbed it.

"... Sebastian, are you.. okay?" Ruvik sat in front of him with his hands on both of his arms. Ruvik halted his gentle shaking. Sebastian quickly sat himself up to face Ruvik. Their faces were mere inches apart.

"You..? You were in my dream. Not just this time but… all the other times as well. You–" At this point, he was breathless. He stared at Ruvik's shocked face and smiled.

Slowly, Sebastian cupped both of his hands on either side of Ruvik's face. He stared down at his lips and found himself leaning in.

"Sebastian..?" Ruvik asked with a noticeable blush on his face.

Panicking, he decided to just embrace the small man into his arms. Ruvik's hands lingered in the air for a short while before deciding to land on Sebastian's back and grab at the material of his shirt.

"I'm sorry Ruben. I'm so sorry…" Sebastian whispered in his ear.

Ruvik held him tighter. "There's no need to be sorry."

They held each other for some time before Ruvik broke the hug and grabbed at his forehead. Sebastian smirked and got out of bed, "I'll get you some pain killers." Ruvik nodded and lied back down.

Sebastian's feet scuffed through the silent kitchen. He stretched as he fumbled for a glass out of the cupboard and searched for medicine. He noticed his phone was forgotten on the counter and grabbed it to see if there was anything interesting.

There was a text message from Kidman.

"Seb, sorry I haven't been able to contact you. They've been watching me."

He immediately put down the glass he had in his hand and made a call to her.

"We're sorry. The number you're trying to reach is not available–"

Shit. Shit! Why is her phone cut off? He quickly searched through his contacts and clicked when he saw Dennis's name.

"We're sorry. The number you're trying to–"

Fuck! His eyes widened and he instinctively ran to Lily's bedroom. When he hit the lights on, there was nothing but a skewed bunch of sheets and pencils scattered on the floor. He buckled onto his knees. No. No, not again. This can't be happening.

He ran throughout the house screaming her name. Ruvik finally popped out of the bedroom with concern laced on his features, "Sebastian! What's wrong?!" He stalked his way to the kitchen counter to grab something.

Sebastian paced around the living room. "They took her! They fucking took her! My baby girl… I'LL FUCKING KILL THEM!" His face was red and a vein was pulsing on his forehead.

Ruvik watched him, waiting for him to calm down. He approached cautiously and when he stood in front of him and looked up, he grabbed Sebastian's hands and put car keys in them. "Then let's get her back."

Chapter Text

The tires screeched as Sebastian made a sharp turn to get on the highway. Ruvik was gripping onto anything his little hands could find. His knuckles turned white with how hard he was clutching. Sebastian paid no mind to him and concentrated on the road. "Just hold on," he grumbled at Ruvik. Traffic was picking up and red tail lights littered the road in front of him. The truck slowed almost to a halt. Ruvik stared at him while trying to catch his breath. "What?" Sebastian spat.

Ruvik scowled at him, "Don't take your frustrations out on me Sebastian. I want to get Lily back too but we both need to remain calm." He finally lessened the grip he had on his seatbelt and let his shoulders sag. "You could have killed us back there!"

"I was a police officer. I've driven a lot worse I can assure you," he snapped at him but then tightened his lips together and sighed, "sorry, I'm just… panicking I guess. I can't do it again Ruben, I'm not strong enough." He continued to study the cars in front of him, not letting Ruvik see his face.

"I know. We will get her back Sebastian. They aren't going to kill her, they only do that when you aren't compliant. Their specialty is to use people until they're a dried husk."

"Yeah… this isn't very comforting bud." He flashed Ruvik a sarcastic grin.

Ruvik squirmed in his seat, "I apologise. I'm not very good at this."

Sebastian turned his head to the smaller man and noticed his dejected expression. He bit his bottom lip and hesitantly put his hand on Ruvik's. His eyebrow twitched when Ruvik's hand remained still. Just as he was about to retract his hand, the much smaller one wove it's fingers into his.

"You're doing fine. Just, work on your wording a bit okay?" His thumb rubbed the soft skin of Ruvik's hand.

Ruvik nodded and averted his eyes. A pale pink threatened to devour the entirety of his ears. Sebastian chuckled. "Geesh, after the way you were last night… now look at you. Blushing like a little virgin."

Ruvik's head snapped around. His eyebrows were furrowed together, "Last night…? What do you mean?"

Sebastian struggled to keep the laughter that was bubbling inside him at bay. He took a deep breath and asked, "uh well what do you remember?"

Ruvik silently collected his thoughts while Sebastian stared at the two little pink rose petals that were his lips. He mumbled and mouthed things before seemingly giving up. "I remember… the bar. I fell asleep in the truck and I can't remember anything after that."

Sebastian's smile instantly fell off his face. "You remember the bar? And that guy?" He asked carefully.

Ruvik slowly nodded. He twiddled with his fingers. His eyes seemed to be searching for anything to land on. The floor seemed to be the spot. "I–I wasn't trying to seduce him but he was really nice to me at first and told me how pretty I was. He said he liked me and wanted me to show him that I liked him so he told me to go to the bathroom with him. He seemed really lonely–"

"No don't you DARE excuse the shit he did to you. Ruben, I don't care how lonely, horny, or depressed a person is, you don't do that shit. If he really liked you, he wouldn't have done that. That guy was a dickhead," he muttered the last sentence to himself. Ruvik's grip on his hand tightened.

"Thank you Sebastian. You didn't have to do that."

"Yeah I did. I would have done it for anyone else too. No one deserves to be treated that way."

"Not even after–"

"Not even after that," he let out a sigh, "Ruben, I think I can forgive you for what you did. Yeah it's hard but I know you're a different person now. I've decided to stop being stuck in the past. It's over and there's nothing I can do about it, yeah? So let's just stop saying we deserve shitty things okay?"

"What happened last night? To change your mind so fast.."

"Oh you know… you little vixen you," Sebastian waggled his eyebrows.

"What!? I did something?"

"Oh yeah! You grabbed me and pulled me down on top of you, made me kiss you, oh! And you pretty much dry humped me and fell asleep."

Ruvik's face was buried in his hands. Sebastian could see the once pink ears, turn completely red now. "No, don't tell me anymore. Please!" His voice was muffled through his hands.

Sebastian howled with laughter. "Don't worry I won't tell anyone!" He smirked but Ruvik was utterly humiliated.

"...I'm sorry." His head hung low and his voice had a serious undertone to it.

"Hey! It's okay! Don't worry about it. No big deal."

"But you just said that no one deserves that."

Oh.

"Well… this was different. I uh, got a little caught up in the moment too. Heh."

Ruvik's eyes widened. "You mean you…?"

"Yeah I messed around with you too a bit okay?" Sebastian felt his face heating up, "Hey look! The traffic is finally clearing up! Now we can get our asses moving!" He honked the horn a few times at the lethargic cars in front of them.

"That's not doing anything," Ruvik groaned.

Sebastian squinted at him, "Who's the one driving here? Look they're moving now!"

Ruvik rolled his eyes and propped himself up against the window.

Though he was having a good time poking fun at Ruvik, Sebastian still could feel his heart stammering in his chest. Lily's little face kept reappearing in his mind and he fought the urge to go into a blind rage. Ruvik was a good distraction but was also just nice to have around. The corner of his mouth turned up and he felt a wave of determination.

"Don't worry Lily, we're coming."



***



At some point, vast plains of green and brown replaced the grimy, industrial scenery of the city. The area was already familiar territory as Sebastian had come down this way about a month ago. Despite that, it still felt wrong to be going back down this way. He shouldn't have had to come down this way so soon or better yet, he hoped he'd never see the place again. Deep down though, he knew he would come back here for Joseph eventually.

Sebastian's eyes glanced down at the passenger seat where a sleeping Ruvik was scrunched in a very uncomfortable position. There were soft snores coming from his petite nose. Sebastian's lips curled into a small grin.

As he entered into the stretch of land that would lead them to Ruvik's estate, he couldn't help but be a bit perplexed. It felt like he entered a different time era. It was the strangest thing. These people seemed to be stuck in time. Farmlands and large churches littered the whole place. A patch of yellow caught his eye and he remembered the place vividly. The heads of large sunflowers danced in the evening breeze. Amongst them was a dilapidated building. Sebastian swallowed hard as he watched it go by. The barn where Laura was inflicted with fatal burns.

Ruvik stirred slightly and Sebastian found himself speeding up to pass the area as fast he could. As Ruvik adjusted himself tiredly, Sebastian let out a breath of relief. He didn't feel like triggering childhood traumas right now.

Sebastian fiddled with the steering wheel. He wondered what Laura was like. She must have been an amazing person to have Ruvik borderline obsess over her. However nice she may have been, he'd always see her as the unsightly monster she was in Ruvik's brain.

His thoughts were abruptly halted when he finally came up to the large gate of the cursed estate. When he made his way out of the truck to open the gate, he scanned the area and pursed his lips. Either their security was extremely lax or something was wrong. As he swung the gate open, he quickly made his way back to the vehicle.

Ruvik stirred awake when he slammed the door. He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and tried to blink the tiredness away. His white hair was so light and airy that in certain angles, it resembled the down of a bird. Sebastian couldn't help but smile softly. "Hey, sorry for waking you up but I think something is up."

Ruvik's face scrunched when a beam of stray sunlight hit across his eyes. "Hnn? What do you mean?"

"I mean, something isn't right. I slammed that gate hard enough for people down the road to hear. No one seemed to care."

"Do you think they're using their tactic from last time?" Ruvik asked groggily.

"Hmm," Sebastian pondered, "maybe. I guess the only way to find out is to go in right? Let's just be careful. I got my gun in case anything gets messy."

"Even if it's–"

"Yes even if it's Joseph," he let out a deep sigh, "if it comes to my daughter, I won't let anyone get in the way of that. Even my best friend."

Ruvik glanced down to pick at his fingernails and then straightened himself in his seat. "Okay. I'm with you."

"Alright, let's rock and roll."

"Ugh don't say that."

"What? 'Rock and roll'"'?

"Yes that. You sound like you're in some cheesy action movie."

Sebastian chuckled, "At this point, I might as well be Bruce Willis."

Ruvik rolled his eyes and popped the truck door open leaving Sebastian alone in the cab.

"Hmph, I'm cooler than Bruce Willis…" he mumbled under his breath as he stuffed his revolver in its tattered holster.

They both stood in front of the large fountain, observing the whole place before their eyes landed on each other. Sebastian nodded his head towards Ruvik, "You ready to do this?"

Ruvik cocked an eyebrow, "Just as long as you don't shoot me again Seb."

"Guess I'll never live that down."

Ruvik snickered. "It's perfect manipulation material, might as well make use of it."

"Hah! Okay you shit, let's go."

Not even the crunching of the gravel underneath his feet could mask the sound of his heartbeat. The gravity of the situation finally settled in his gut and no amount of banter could calm his nerves now. The thought of losing his daughter again made his eyes glassy as they reached the large front doors. His hand trembled as it reached for the door handle.

Then another cold hand laid itself gently on his. Ruvik was smiling sadly at him as if he knew what he was thinking. Sebastian took a deep breath in and gave Ruvik a determined expression. With a push from both of them, the doors swung open releasing the cold air of the facility.

Unlike last time, the main foyer was pitch black save the small amount of sunlight streaming in from the door behind them.

Sebastian stalked the area carefully and used the flashlight from his phone to get a better look of things. The place looked exactly the same as it had last time. He flashed his light on Ruvik who was staring up towards the stairs. Suddenly, he cupped both hands around his mouth and took in a deep breath before yelling, "Joseph!!"

"Ruben! What the fuck are you doing?!" Sebastian hissed.

A glint of mischief was in Ruvik's eyes, he approached Sebastian calmly then pointed at the rungs of the staircase. "What do you see Seb?"

"Uhh cobwebs?"

"Precisely, notice the dust also? On top of the railing?"

"...yeah."

Ruvik took a step back to let Sebastian observe as well. Ruvik was right, there was an even coating of dust covering the railings. "They aren't here. Then where the fuck could they be?!"

"We should look around. Odds are they knew you'd come here, so this is going to slow us down tremendously. Let's split up and look for something that may give us some insight."

Sebastian huffed a breath, "Alright! You're right, as usual. I'll go to the left, you take the right. Do you have a li–"

There was the small sound of feet walking across the floor then a click on the side of the wall. Light flooded the area. Ruvik stood next to the light switch with a cocky air about him. "Hmm, what do you know? They haven't turned off the electricity yet."

Sebastian glared at him. "Okay smartass, meet up here if you find something or.. don't find something," he lectured.

"Affirmative, detective," Ruvik jeered as he made his way to the right wing.

The older man watched in amusement as Ruvik's small form disappeared into the room, a cheeky little grin spread on his weathered face.

When Ruvik was no longer visible, Sebastian made his way in the opposite direction. The area was shut off by a sliding door. It appeared to be electrical and his theory was proven correct when he approached it and it slid open.

The place inside was littered with what looked like surveillance monitors. It gave the room an eerie blue glow. Sebastian eyed another door at the end of the room and made his way to it.

The mansion didn't change much from its original floor plan. In Sebastian's haunted memories, this place used to be a dining room. Now it was only seemed to be used for security purposes.

When he entered the next room, he was immediately hit with the smell of antiseptic. This room was better lit and was more spacious than the other. Judging by how big the room was, Sebastian could guess that they combined the last two rooms to make room for what looked like STEM terminal prototypes. These were quite different from the ones he had been subjected to.

Instead of a tub, it was an oblong sphere filled with some sort of liquid substance. Oxygen was provided through tubes at the top. Curious as to how anyone would get in one of these, Sebastian got closer to inspect it.

There was a hole at the top where the person could lower themselves in. As he observed it, he realized the only way you could sit in this thing comfortably was if you were in a fetal position. His eyebrows furrowed and he reached to the top opening to touch the liquid. When his hand reached the substance, it was instantly obvious that this wasn't liquid but some kind of gel or jelly. What unnerved him most was that it was still strangely warm. What the hell is this shit?

Next to the pod, was a small table full of instruments and a lone file atop it. Sebastian grabbed it and flipped through the documents. He stopped on one.

With the subject fully emerged in the Mother, immersion and compatibility with STEM has increased to 20%. Subject is suspended to insure astral body separates almost entirely.

Sebastian rolled his eyes, "Cute, they're making progress with this dumb shit." He threw the papers nonchalantly without care. Other than the pod, there was practically nothing here to give him any clue as to where to go.

He trudged his way down the hall to the foyer



***



Ruvik was leaning against a wall with utmost boredom. When he saw Sebastian appear from the sliding door he perked up a bit. "Find anything?"

"Nah. Jack shit! I take it you didn't either?" Sebastian grunted as he stomped toward Ruvik.

Ruvik shook his head discontentedly. Sebastian cursed and threw his hands up behind his head.

As fun as it was to watch, Ruvik snapped Sebastian out of his rage. "Seb, there's still the top floor and the central wing. There has to be something here. It wouldn't make much sense to just abandon this place for the fun of it."

Sebastian's jaw clenched and he hung his head. "Ruben, I'm getting impatient. These bastards have been fucking with me for years now! Years! Am I that fucking entertaining?!" he seethed.

Ruvik deadpanned and made his way up the stairs, "Come on. We aren't going to find her by getting mad."

Sebastian huffed and climbed up the stairs behind Ruvik.

The room in the middle that used to have large statues and family portraits was now a large conference room. There were two file cabinets adjacent to the back wall. Sebastian sat at one of the chairs and plopped his head into his hands. Ruvik sensed his frustration and took to the large cabinets to sift through the hundreds of documents.

About thirty minutes went by before Sebastian got up to inspect Ruvik's work. His small body was amidst a pile of Manilla files and papers. His hair was strewn about and his teeth were clenched as his eyes scanned every word on each document.

As Sebastian began to walk back to his spot, Ruvik sprung up and slammed a file on the table loud enough for the sound to reverberate. "Look!" He exclaimed.

Sebastian picked up the file and flipped through the papers. His eyes scanned a map that was oddly familiar. Then it clicked.

He stuffed the paper back into its file and marched out of the room and flew down the stairs, Ruvik trailing behind him. "Seb! Where is that? It's in the city, yes?"

Sebastian finally reached the front door and turned towards Ruvik. "I should've known, they're hiding in plain sight. A place that wouldn't even cross your mind."

"Where? Where is it Sebastian?" Ruvik demanded.

Sebastian turned his back on him and stared outside.

"KCPD."