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Unto the Victor of the Gods this be

Chapter Text

Wade wakes up.

Now, this isn’t an unusual thing; nothing remarkable about Wade opening his eyes.

Of course, most days he’s not waking up after being dead.

Maybe that’s why he’s so shocked.

.

How does he know he was dead?

Well… it’s fairly obvious if one knows the signs.

Not breathing: check.

Cold: check

Body stiff and unresponsive: check check.

Yep, Wade was dead. And then—he wasn’t. But he’s still not breathing.

He wonders how long it’s been. He remembers everything. All of it.

He wakes up not breathing and not hurting, just stiff, but sensation quickly returns.

Frankly, he’d have preferred if it hadn’t.

He’s never felt such pain before, such a sharp and biting pain. That wreck when he was sixteen and the car crumpled around him, his arm breaking in four places when he was twelve, that last beating Mom’s boyfriend gave him at age seven and he spent two weeks in the hospital—together, those can’t equal this.

Wade wakes up and wishes to god he’d stayed dead.

.

He doesn’t know how long he’s slept. Has no way of knowing. The world is dark around him, dark and cold. He can’t move so he just stares at the sky.

The stars shine bright above and the pain slowly recedes. The burn all over fades to a slight ache.

He tries to take a breath but there is no movement. He closes his hand into a fist and almost cries when his hand listens. He moves his other hand, then his feet and legs. No pain, just an ache, and an ache he can deal with. He raises his hands to his face, slowly feels from his chin to his hair. There are no cuts. He is whole.

But he’d been dead. He knows he was dead. And now… he’s not.

.

He remembers that last day, that nightmare. Horrific beyond telling—cut and sliced and basically buried alive.

He wonders if he’ll dream, now that he’s awake, and hopes not. They won’t be anything good, that much he knows.

Not that they ever were in life, so not like it’s new.

Wade wonders if Carly survived. If Blake, Paige, Dalton—Nick. He knows he should be more concerned; Carly was the closest he ever came to love. But the emotions are distant, as are the memories, and apparently the dead don’t feel much.

.

Finally he rolls over, presses his face to the dirt. He tries to breathe, to smell the earth, but his heart and lungs and whatever else he’s forgotten from biology refuse to work. His body is cold, slow to respond, and he figures physically, he’s still dead. His soul, or whatever, has returned to his body, but he’s still dead.

Wade wonders if he were in Heaven or Hell or neither. If either exists. Why he didn’t stay wherever he was.

He lays still, spread out over the dirt, straining to breathe but feeling nothing. His body works except for the breathing parts. He can hear the blood flowing but he’s not breathing—which is not possible. None of this is possible.

Wade pushes himself up and pulls his legs under him, getting ready to stand. The sky is slowly lightening above him and he rises. He doesn’t know how long it’s been since he stood but it feels good.

He doesn’t hurt. His clothes are whole and untorn, as is his skin. And he doesn’t understand. It makes no sense.

With a look around, Wade steps forward. His stride is sure, unhurried. He doesn’t know where he is, where he’s going, how long it’s been. He doesn’t know much, nor does he care.

He was dead but now he’s not. He can remember everything from before, but it’s distant, not important. It was before and now this is after. For whatever reason, he’s been given a second chance.

Wade picks a direction and starts walking. He doesn’t know where he is or how he got here, but—he’s hungry. He wonders what dead men eat. He licks his lips and strides through the woods, a smile twisting his lips.

He’s still not breathing.

.

He walks for hours. The sun crosses to the other side of the sky. He paused when he came to a small lake. Wade can’t breathe so he doesn’t know if he smells, but he bets he does. So he stripped and swam for a bit, washed as well he could. He let the sun dry him and put his clothes back on, then kept walking.

He doesn’t tire, he isn’t thirsty, but he is hungry. The hunger is starting to gnaw at his stomach. The forest stretches forever and there is no noise. The wind doesn’t rustle the trees and there are no animals.

Around him, but for the sun, the world is dead. He wonders what that means.

Two days pass. He tries berries and grass but they taste like ash in his mouth. He never tires, never thirsts, but the hunger is driving him mad.

He never sees any animals. It’s starting to worry him.

A week goes by and the forest refuses to fucking end. He thinks he’s going in circles—he never was good at directions.

At sunset, he sees a doe and her fawn. He freezes, worried they’ll run, but they don’t seem to notice him. An owl hoots and he almost smiles.

Seems like he finally found the animals. He licks his lips.

So, Wade reflects after his feast, he’s faster and stronger than he was. He doesn’t tire and he doesn’t thirst, nor does he need sleep. Also, he doesn’t breathe.

And he likes to eat stuff raw, with the blood still flowing. And he can eat a lot. He never felt this full before Ambrose and his murder.

He thinks he knows why the forest was so empty. Animals have always sensed things that are wrong.

And, Wade bets, something is really fucking wrong.

.

The tenth day after he wakes up, Wade hears a highway. He’s clean, relatively speaking, and bets he looks as trustworthy as ever.

He’s eaten deer, fox, and fish. He wonders what human tastes like.

It takes another day before anyone picks him up. An older gentleman in a sporty car, looks like he can handle himself.

You know, if Wade were normal. Which he’s not.

“What day is it?” he asks.

“Monday,” the nice man answers, his eyes flicking from the road to Wade and back.

Oh, yes, Wade remembers this. Some of Mom’s ‘special friends’ used to look at him like that, before he shot up a foot in eight months and decided he no longer wanted to be a victim.

He’s anything but a victim now.

.

By sunset, he has a phone and a car and the taste of man-blood in his mouth. He’s sated and happy and sees he was dead for roughly a year.

The world stretches before him. Everything he once was is quickly receding behind him. He can’t even remember the color of Carly’s eyes.

He turns the radio up loud and sings along.

Wade is still not breathing. It bothers him less than it should.

Looking in the mirror, he doesn’t appear to be a predator. He still seems to be an all-around nice guy. He’d help little old ladies cross the street, he’d break up bar fights, he’d defend people he never met.

He figures a big city is the best place to start. He’s always been good at blending in. And he’s a master at looking harmless.

Going by the guy’s GPS, New York is a few hundred miles to the east.

Wade smiles and licks his lips, turning the radio up louder.

For whatever reason, he woke up in the middle of nowhere after being dead. He’s not going to question it. Human morals no longer apply and he’s hungry again.

He remembers, vaguely, that once he’d have shuddered at killing. Even if they were one of Mom’s ‘special friends.’ Life was priceless.

Wade sees a car up ahead.

He’s not the man he was. He doubts he’s a man at all.

He doesn’t tire or sleep. He’s not thirsty. He doesn’t breathe.

And he’s hungry. Sated for a few hours, then starving again.

He woke up after being dead and he knows he’ll never wake again.

He passes the car, sees it holds a couple and a kid, and starts to plan.

Chapter Text

The first time Nick sees him, it’s a year to the day. He doesn’t say or do anything—just watches Nick. Almost studies him.

And then he smiles. That’s when Nick wakes up.

He gasps and gulps down air, jerks up in the bed, mutters and snarls. He presses a hand to his chest; his heart is beating like it hasn’t since Ambrose. Since he almost died. Since Carly almost died.

It’s been a year. They’ve moved on, put those days behind them. Carly took the internship and Nick’s a bartender; they live together in harmony.

It took almost losing each other to realize how much they need each other, but they learned the lesson.

Carly never mentions Wade. She talks about Paige, but never mentions Wade. Nick tells her all about Dalton, about what really happened with the car. Mentions that he thinks he might be bi, but he’s not really sure.

They cling to each other some nights, unable to sleep alone. Vincent and Bo loom on the dreamscape, terrible and terrifying; Carly whimpers and Nick does his best, but they are killed every time.

Nick wakes shuddering and Carly crying, and they go about the day.

.

A year on and they are almost happy. Nick is on the straight and narrow; Carly is on the path to success. Ambrose is a distant memory, ignored beneath the sun and hated beneath the moon.

But now Wade haunts Nick’s dreams and he doesn’t know why. He doesn’t tell Carly—she never mentions the man she loved. Never speaks of him. So Nick can’t start that conversation.

At first, Wade only watches whatever Nick is dreaming. A silent spectator, he never moves or speaks. But slowly, it changes. Slowly, Wade starts molding the events.

It takes months, but finally Wade’s specter rules Nick’s dreams, weaves them.

Nick wonders but he never speaks. He wakes unhappy and lost, snaps at Carly for no reason, is short with every person he meets. After a few weeks, Carly confronts him. Demands to know what’s going on.

All he has to offer as an excuse is “Your boyfriend won’t leave me alone.” So, he can’t say that. He can’t say anything.

She sends him to a shrink and they talk about Ambrose, his dreams for the future. They talk about everything except what they need to and Nick still can’t sleep. But he learns to cope and finally he’s nearly fine again.

But then, on the second anniversary of everything, Wade’s specter kisses him on the lips.

Nick wakes yelling and hard, and Carly hurries in. He’s gasping like he’s run a marathon and Carly demands, “What’s going on?”

He doesn’t have the words or an explanation. He never thought of Wade like that. Never. Not once.

Well, maybe once. Or twice. Every time he looked at his little sister’s boyfriend. Damn it all to hell.

Nick can’t meet Carly’s eyes, so he looks past her. And there in the corner stands Wade.

Nick closes his eyes and sinks back into the bed. Carly huffs and storms out.

Wade waits for him in the dreamscape and finally Nick speaks.

“What do you want?” he asks softly, and Wade smiles. Reaches out to gently touch Nick’s cheek.

“I’m hungry,” he whispers, pulling Nick close and pressing his lips to Nick’s neck. “I’m so hungry and nothing sates me.”

“And I can do something about that?” Nick gasps out, leaning into Wade.

“No,” Wade answers, pulling back and looking into Nick’s eyes. “But you’re so pretty…” His smile is wicked and Nick wakes wondering what the hell is wrong with his subconscious.

.

It’s a month later. A month of those dreams and that man and Nick is ready to kill someone, it’s so damn frustrating.

Not to mention wrong.

Wade was Carly’s boyfriend. And now he’s dead.

But, a part of Nick argues, did they ever find a body? They found Paige’s, Dalton’s, Blake’s—but not Wade’s.

When Nick goes to work, he’s not expecting Wade to be sitting at the bar, nursing a full glass of water.

He stops Molly, one of the older waitresses, and asks her, “Do you see that guy?”

She follows his gaze and nods. “Been there a few hours. That’s still his first glass.”

Nick thanks her and slips behind the bar.

Hours pass. Wade never orders anything else. He talks to a few people, smiles at a few others, doesn’t cause any trouble.

Wade is fucking dead. Nick would have bet his soul. But here he sits.

He never, Nick notices, takes a single sip of his water.

Finally, Wade stands. A pretty little thing, maybe twenty or twenty-one, blonde hair and blue eyes, walks with him out of the bar. She’s a little bigger than Carly, just as loud, and Wade towers over her.

He holds the door for her and glances back, meets Nick’s eyes. And smiles.

.

Four days later, Nick’s flipping channels. He’s gotta be at work in thirty minutes, but he doesn’t feel so good. He’s thinking of calling in sick. Or quitting.

He’s just so damned tired. He’s been tired since Ambrose.

He pauses on the news. Some girl named Marie Adamson is missing. Twenty-one years old. Blonde hair, blue eyes, five four and a half. Last seen at Ronin’s, where Nick works.

“We live in interesting times, don’t we?” a dark voice asks, laughter threading through the words.

It’s been over two years since he actually heard that voice. But he recognizes it instantly.

“What the fuck’s going on?” Nick roars, lunging to his feet.

Before Ambrose, even at his most intimidating, Nick could never equal Wade. He’s reminded sharply of that now, and it pisses him off.

Wade’s wearing black jeans, old boots, a dark green T-shirt, and a wicked smile. He seems bigger than Nick remembers.

“I’m hungry,” Wade tells him, stepping closer. “So hungry. Nothing ever fills me for along.” His eyes glint and Nick swallows.

Wade licks his lips and says, “I won’t eat you, Nicky. You don’t have to worry. I just wanted to see you.”

“What are you?” Nick whispers. “You died.”

Wade laughs. “I know, Nick. I was dead. And now I’m not.” He moves too quickly for Nick to follow and has him pressed against the wall. “But you know the best part?”

A moment of quiet and Nick notices. He can’t feel Wade’s chest rise or fall, can’t hear or feel his breath.

“You’re not breathing.”

.

Marie Adamson is never found. Nick wonders how many others are missing.

Wade still haunts his dreams and Nick sees him sometimes. He never tells Carly.

A year to the day in the bar, Wade visits him again. Slips down beside him on the couch.

“You smell like blood,” Nick says conversationally.

“Do I?” Wade asks. “Huh.”

“What are you?” Nick’s voice is soft, hesitant. He’s not sure he wants to know.

“Something wrong,” Wade answers.

“Are you gonna take me, too, now?” Nick turns off the TV and faces Wade.

“No,” Wade responds and meets his eyes.

Nick sees the kiss coming and doesn’t turn aside.

He wonders when it’ll all go to Hell, but then thinks it’s already there.

.

Four years after Ambrose, Nick wakes and wonders when it all went wrong.

Carly hasn’t spoken to him in months, he can’t remember when he was happy, and he sleeps next to a monster every night.

He still doesn’t know what Wade is. His skin isn’t cold but he doesn’t breathe. He’s told Nick he doesn’t thirst, he doesn’t tire, and he can’t taste anything but blood.

“I’m not evil,” Wade said. “I just don’t care.”

He took Nick on two hunts. “Pedophiles,” Wade whispered in his ear.

Nick doesn’t know if it’s true, but he’s willing to believe it.

Watching Wade, Nick knows he’s completely fucked. Seeing men torn apart, eaten alive—should not be so hot.

But it is, and Wade smirks when he meets Nick’s eyes.

When Wade kisses him, Nick can taste blood. All he tastes is blood.

Nick hasn’t been happy in years. He can’t remember how it felt.

The sun rises and he sleeps next to a monster.

Wade reaches over and cups his face, whispers, “No second thoughts, Nicky.”

“No,” Nick murmurs and closes his eyes.

Chapter Text

Jake, darling, it’s time to wake up now. You’ve slept too long. You must leave this… cage.

The words whisper just beyond his reach. He hears them, but can make no reply. He listens, for he can do nothing else.

You’ve let them chain you, with their lies and their medication. You are leashed, almost broken. I am nearly ashamed to call you mine.

He shudders and trembles, tries to attain consciousness, only to fall back, to plummet down. Parts of him stir from their slumber, rise to the forefront.

Ah, yes, my son. My gorgeous, glorious child—awaken. Awaken for me now!

And his eyes open.

...

Wade stretches, turns. He almost breathes deeply and instead pushes open the door. He ignores the blood dripping from his chin, his fingers; he doesn’t look back at the men who litter the floor in his wake.

He pushes open the door because even though he no longer sleeps, he’s been dreaming of the man locked inside. Dreaming since the week after he woke up from being dead. Dreaming of dark blond hair, of huge hazel eyes, of a voice begging for salvation.

It is not salvation Wade will offer, but his offer will be taken all the same.

Hear me, Jake. Hear me and listen to my words. You know the truth in them; you feel it in your bones. Do not ignore me, my son. You cannot. You killed me with rage in your heart, but you were already mine.

His eyelids flicker, wanting to return to sleep. It was all easier when he dreamed and could not remember. It was easier when he could pretend it all to be a nightmare.

But he’s awake now. Fully awake. He can’t remember the last time his mind wasn’t hazy, weighed down by the pills shoved down his throat and the liquid pumped through an IV. He can’t remember those last few moments, only feel loss. Dread curls through him, dread and fear.

Whatever happened, he knows, it cannot in any way be good.

You are mine, blood and bone. You are mine, instinct and knowledge. You are mine; in magic I conceived you and in pain I bore you—unto the ending of the world, Jakob, you are mine.

His eyes flutter closed and the voice murmurs, the words twining about him, seeping into him. Now that you are awake, my love, now that I have found and claimed you—he is coming. Let him take care of you, Jake. That is my final request.

Since that week after, since he killed the kind man with cruel eyes, since he tore the body apart and ate the flesh while it was still warm, since he let the blood stain his face and hands and realized there was no coming back from this, that he didn’t even want to come back—She has spoken to him. Cooed in the back of his mind, praised him for every thought and deed, laughed as he maimed and killed.

I gave you life after Jehovah turned His back in that town and left you. I have given you attributes no mortal has had in millennia. Do as I ask, dear boy, and you can remain so until you grow weary and beg forgiveness of Heaven. And all I ask, such a simple task—protect my son from those who wish him harm.

Before he even formed the thought, he agreed. He was dead in that town, dead for a year, but then he woke in the forest, alive—without a pulse—and whole. Better than he’d ever been before. Better than any other person—thing—on the planet.

He didn’t sleep, but he dreamed. He saw Jake Grey’s life as though he’d lived it himself. Everything, every piece of Jake’s soul was laid bare in front of his eyes.

Wade had been on the way to New York, to play around with humanity’s filth, but instead he turned around and shot towards Washington, for a psychiatric hospital and the devil’s son.

He could vaguely remember his existence in the years leading up to Ambrose. Remember weakness and pain, illness and joy. Love. Now he felt only empty and hunger, always hungry. Unable to be filled.

When you find my son, oh dear child, you will never again long for anything else. When you stand beside him, prepared to defend him against all, you will be sated. I have given you life, darling. And in return I request but one action. If you obey my will and hurry to my son, you will no longer hunger. Will you do as I say?

With everything in him, Wade said yes. It wasn’t like he had anything better to do.

Jake lies still and breathes, remembers. His will and his mind shudder, then break. It is all true and he knows it, cannot escape the knowledge. Cannot escape the certainty that, had he been stronger or better, he could have saved them. Mom and Connie and Dakota and Uncle Ross and Dad—he could have protected them.

Jakob, love—it is what it is. You are what you are. And even you cannot traverse time, cannot erase what has been written. I formed you, fashioned you, even molded you all your life; despite my not being there, you never left my grasp. You never will. So you can defy my wishes forever, or you can listen to me now. I have not left you alone, Jake. I have made provisions for you, ensured your safety—whether you want it or not. The soldier I have pointed your direction will stay with you, come Heaven or high water. He is nearly indestructible; Jehovah will have to leave His paradise to end my creation.

He can feel her fingers trailing along his face, across his lips. Her voice weaves around him, sealing him in her net. He has no reason left to stand against her, no reason at all. With his eyes closed he can almost pretend it’s a dream, a nightmare, a fantasy—he is insane, just like they say. He has to be completely mad.

When he reaches you, darling boy, he will offer his hand. To seal the deal, for good or ill, for the eternity that stretches before you—you must take it.

The guards were a joke. They fell, one after the other, necks snapped and skin torn. He paused, here and there, tasting a bit; but always, he swiftly moved on, drawn by a pulse beneath his heart, a rope that bound him to his Savior’s son.

Finally he came to the room that contained Jake, the boy he had to look after for the rest of the world’s life. He paused outside the door, listening—nothing but patients moved in the hospital. All the personnel, from doctor to janitor, had left the world with terror in their eyes.

Almost, he felt fear. If this boy was all She had said—but he shook it off. It didn’t matter. She had given him life for this one purpose: to ensure Her son’s survival. He owed Her a debt he could never repay.

Plus, he’d get to kill a whole lot of shit.

Jake, eyes still closed, his mother’s words echoing on the air around him, feels her soldier outside. A choice presents itself before him: he can give in to her will, become what she wants or—he can continue fighting. But he’s tired. He’s just so tired.

The door creaks, swings, and he opens his eyes.

In both their minds, Marisol’s laughter sounds. Welcome, my darlings, to the new world. Here it begins.

Huge hazel meets slanted green and there is no going back. A hand reaches out, waits; another hand grips it—with one light tug, Jake stands.

“Hey,” the soldier says. “m’name’s Wade.”

“Jake,” the heir replies. “My name is Jakob Grey.”

They exit the room together and there will be no going back.

What’s done is done. You are what I created you to be. Do not regret, Jake. It is a useless feeling.

Jake’s not sure what his mother wants. But until God Himself steps down from the sky, Jake will not die. That he knows. Nonetheless, he’ll be hunted; the ‘good’ side will send warrior after warrior to kill him.

He hasn’t quite harnessed his ‘abilities,’ not yet. And even after he has, he knows he won’t use them freely.

Which is where Wade comes in. Invincible, for all intents and purpose. Doesn’t get tired or thirsty. Has no need to breathe.

Always hungry.

After he explains all he’s discovered about himself in the weeks since waking in the middle of the woods, he tells Jake he’s not as hungry as he was. He still desires blood and flesh, but he doesn’t crave it as badly as he did.

Neither of them fully understands, but it doesn’t matter. Like his mother said, what’s done is done. And can never be undone.

.

When it happens, it feels inevitable. Neither unexpected nor unwanted. Easy. Right.

Wade initiates it, but with one move, one word, Jake can end it. Instead, he tilts his head and puts his hand on Wade’s shoulder. Instead, he presses himself against Wade and kisses back harder.

“Sure?” Wade asks, mostly an afterthought.

“Yeah,” Jake answers.

They both hear Marisol laugh.