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Venom, Spite and Nothing Nice

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Violet understands now that time flows differently when you're dead. Days bleed into one another, hours creep by without notice and the seconds seem to trickle like a leaky faucet.

Drip…

Drip…

Drip…

Or a slit wrist.

She watches the growing pool of crimson around her feet, fascinated. Blood drips from the shredded veins in both of her arms, runs in warm rivulets from the deep gashes across her stomach and thighs. Her trembling legs smeared with the sticky mess, the voices clamoring for her blood finally appeased.

It hurts like a bitch but she's grown to appreciate the physical pain, to crave it like a drug. To Violet it is a thrilling high, like the rush you get when freefalling, and if she cuts slowly enough, deeply enough, it will last for far longer than if she were to plummet from the roof. She knows, she's tried it a few times. It was over far too quickly.

The pristine white bathroom tilts, the walls spin and then she feels the cold tile against her naked skin. A dull ache explodes in her head as it cracks against the floor. But it's all fading away, starting at the edges the numbing darkness is creeping in and she welcomes it like an old friend. Laughter bubbles out of her and it's an ugly, twisted sound because that's what being dead does to a person. It mangles their insides until there's nothing recognizable left and they can't escape it. The only release is that precious void of nothing within the imitation of dying.

She sees Tate just before her vision blacks out and it's the first time he's come to her since she said goodbye. His expression is miserable but his eyes are burning, black and intense. She's not surprised, not really. She's suspected that he watches her invisibly from the shadows and today she's really given him a show. He enjoys the blood, but it doesn't change the simple fact that watching her die hurts him in ways that she can not imagine. There is a moment where she could say the words to send him away but she hesitates and then the power of speech is gone. Instead she allows him this because she can't bother to feel anything when the darkness finally falls.

 


 

Sometimes Violet can't stand to be within the walls of Murder House. There's too much darkness in that place, too many voices pulling at her mind, and she can only wallow in it for so long before she begins to lose herself. Not that there is much of her left to hold on to. She barely remembers the girl that she was before her father betrayed his family and Tate destroyed the rest. But she tries because there is a resonance of that child, the version of her with genuine potential, in there somewhere flickering weakly and on bright and sunny days like today when she steps outside to bask in the sunlight she can almost feel like that naïve little girl again.

Sometimes she wonders why she bothers. She'll never be that person again. She'll never have another chance at that life again. So there's really no point, but the sunshine comforts her anyway.

Lighting up a cigarette, she takes a long drag before settling down in the grass. Across the yard Troy and Brian are taking turns with a sling shot targeting a bird nest with chirping babies inside. She sneers at their horrible aim before turning her attention to the notebook in her lap and begins scribbling words, a disjointed poem that spills out some of the poison within.

Rape the soul in a flood of regret

The tears of blood

Wounds of sacrifice

Verses of shame in a voiceless soliloquy

She reads over the words, absently nibbling on her lip. She rewrites the last line.

Verses of shame in a violent soliloquy

She supposes that the red lacerations on her arms could be defined by those words alone. What she never could say with words she displayed in volumes on her flesh.

This hollow shell of bones

Decrepit heart

Stillborn dreams

Dreams? She chuckles bitterly before taking another hit of nicotine. The dead don't dream. But she used to, she's sure she did. She tries to recall the things she used to feel were so important, the things worth wishing for. She hates that his face comes to mind with his pretty tears and wrecked voice, because Tate was a dream come true… or so she thought. She let him become her everything and was left with nothing but madness and lies.

Too many fucking lies.

Sometimes she hates him. Sometimes she misses him. Mostly she just avoids him and it's pretty easy since he seems to be doing the same. She'd told him to go away and even though he's trying to give her what she wants, what does it matter now? His goddamn psychopathic bullshit has already ruined everything.

She just wanted him. Them, Violet and Tate, for always.

Blinking away the tears gathering in her eyes, she slams the notebook closed with a growl. She doesn't even realize that she's crushed the lit cigarette in her fist until the searing pain pulls her back into the present and with a grimace she falls onto her back so she can lose herself in the blue of the sky.

Studiously she ignores the beautiful blond haired boy watching her from the attic window.

 


 

The problem with second chances is that they are a lot like New Years resolutions. It's inspiring at first, until the novelty quickly fades once you realize that deep down you've never really changed. It's only your routine that has.

Violet's not sure what game the parental units are playing at when they periodically try to act like a normal family but she no longer joins in. She humored them those first two years when they would insist on family time, Vivian tending the baby while Ben watched on with a doting smile. It was quaint and she'd enjoyed it, as long as she didn't look across the room and meet Hayden's jealous glare. Or Chad's catty smirk. Or Tate's melancholy facade.

She tried to get lost in the charade but there was only so much of the fabricated normalcy bullshit she could swallow before she couldn't pretend that they were a functional family. Because really, they are dead for fucks sake! Did that little fact escape their notice? Was that how they planed on dealing with this, by pretending that everything was fine? Because she refused to do that, especially in this evil house with her father's disposable cunt roaming around.

And Tate…

Can't forget the fact that he knocked up her Mom with what could possibly be the antichrist.

It was tragic really, that Tate was the only one who understood her in this hellish prison. She reasoned that it takes one fucked-in-the-head person to relate to another. It was only the medium for their darkness that was inherently different. He used shotguns and a latex bodysuit. She used cruel words and a roadmap of scars across her skin.

Sometimes, when she was feeling particularly spiteful and masochistic, Violet wondered if she could manipulate Tate into assisting with her suicidal endeavors. It wouldn't be hard to shred his defenses with righteous accusations and emasculating insults. Whether through guilt or anger, she was confident she could maneuver him into a violent reaction. She tried to imagine just how broken he would be in the aftermath, if she forced him to leave visible wounds to match the ones he created inside her heart.

But even petty revenge required a measure of intimacy that she was not ready to grant him yet, maybe not ever. And her morbid curiosity was still outweighed by her pride. Just like Violet could no longer look at Vivien without a sick desire to ask exactly how much she enjoyed fucking Tate, she couldn't bear looking at him for the same reason. Consensual sex or not, they both got off in the end and that pretty much says everything.

Because if Violet was completely honest with herself, that was the crux of her anger and resentment. Not the fact that Tate was a bad person. Not that he was an efficiently cold-blooded murderer. She was messed up enough to find it kind of romantic knowing that he had killed to protect her and would not hesitate to do so again. What hurt and coiled in her guts like a nest of writhing vipers was that she lost her virginity in her mother's shadow. She couldn't even claim the experience of making love to Tate as something all her own because Vivian had been there first and Violet had never been good at sharing or playing well with others.

So the distance and the isolation was inevitable really, she sees that now.

 


 

Invisibility.

Violet has worn it like a second skin, like a warrior's armor for the last few months. It feels comfortable, right in all the wrong ways and she enjoys the irony. No one had taken the time to see her when she was alive, why should death change that?

She's fine with remaining unnoticed. She likens it to watching reality television. Everyone was different when they thought no one was observing and there was always a dirty secret or two just waiting to be discovered in Murder House.

At first the need to fade had been a necessity; the only way to escape the pitying glances of her parents, Vivian's incessant prodding that she bond with her little brother, the constant ambush of barbed comments aimed at her from Hayden and Chad and the suggestive leers cast her way by Hugo and sometimes Elizabeth.

As if the ghostly bed-hopping drama crap wasn't bad enough, the new living residents of Murder House, a young couple with their first child, had turned her former bedroom into a nursery for a colicky, squalling baby girl. So even her safe haven, the one fucking room in the house that she'd had to herself- when Tate wasn't spying on her, that is- was no longer a reprieve.

Going invisible, and even incorporeal, had been the only viable option. Because Violet can only slit her wrists, throw herself from the roof, allow Hayden to stab her with a butcher knife or hang herself in the attic so many times before it just gets old and repetitive and goddamn fucking ineffective in making the voices dissipate.

But it doesn't take long for Violet to find a new thrill.

The first time she comes across Tate, it catches her off guard. His eyes are dark and haunted, his hair is wild and his mouth is set in a harsh line as he stalks the halls seemingly without purpose. He's not the morose boy she's come to expect, but it's been at least three years since she's been close enough to him to notice that he has changed. He's harder, colder and coming unhinged. Instinctively she braces herself for confrontation but he walks right past her and only then she remembers that he can't see her. She wonders if he's searched for her since she disappeared or, if like everyone else, he hasn't even noticed she's gone.

Before, Violet only caught glimpses of him out of the corner of her eye. If she was quick enough she'd find his brooding stare trained on her from a distance. Sometimes, when she was alone, she felt him watching her but she could never be certain.

But once she goes into stealth mode she begins to see him everywhere.

He's no longer hiding himself but he may as well be nowhere for all of the attention he pays his surroundings. He's lost to his thoughts, memories, or whatever the fuck darkness is swirling inside his head. She can't tell. All she knows is that this version of Tate is even more spooky than the sullen boy she'd first met and a complete contrast to the charming boy who stole her heart.

It entices her to remain hidden just to watch him all the more.

And in the end, if her lack of presence is slowly driving Tate to the brink of what little sanity he has left then that's just an added bonus.

 


 

Violet watches the unfolding argument with a mean little smile, or what would be if she were visible, as Vivien and Ben face off in the kitchen.

It's the usual bullshit. Ben was caught screwing Hayden. Again. Vivien was pissed and left feeling betrayed. Again. Ben gets all sentimental in a last ditch attempt to smooth over Vivien's temper- which just means he still wants sex privileges with his wife- and right on que his eyes turn glassy, his voice cracks pathetically and in that instant he's the vision of a desperate man about to lose the love of his life.

And that's when Violet begins to understand why all of Tate's sniveling and groveling from before had left her cold and unmoved.

It's all too easy to act sorry. Anyone can muster up some tears, sniffle a little and add in a quivering lip for good measure. Fuck if she hasn't seen Ben singing this same song and dance for the last decade. And every time he gets caught sticking his dick where it doesn't belong he pulls out the waterworks and Vivien may as well have sucker stamped on her forehead because she falls for his flawless performance hook, line and sinker.

It annoys Violet that she sees so many similarities between Ben and Tate. The way they justify their actions no matter who they hurt. The way they can seem so sincere even though she knows they're not really sorry for what they've done, only that they got caught. Even down to their disarming smiles and sweet words that can leave a girl overwhelmed and weak-kneed for the few moments she has that kind of undivided attention.

Even their lies are decadent and smooth like well aged whiskey.

And despite hating herself for it, Violet still wants to know what was the lie and what was the truth. Was the lie in the promises Tate made? Or was it when he said 'I love you'? Or was it just the omissions, the nasty truths that he tried to hide from her? Or was there never any truth at all?

Across the kitchen Vivien reluctantly allows Ben to pull her into a tight, grasping embrace. Already she has caved and Ben has won. Again.

Violet's only consolation is that she is not her mother.

 


 

The day comes when Tate's glacial indifference finally cracks and it's not exactly what Violet has been expecting.

The house is practically humming with negative energy and Hayden has only fueled the fire by causing trouble for everyone, though that in itself was nothing new or surprising. All morning she's been leaving a trail of chaos and blood through the house. First it was creating a new rift between Vivien and Ben by revealing the secret blowjobs he's been getting from Patrick. Then it was an all out war between Chad and Patrick when she casually mentions the threesome involving herself and Travis that Patrick had been all to willing to participate in. And then she slit Travis' throat just for fun, then fucked him on the dining room table and then slit the poor bastard's throat again.

Violet isn't sure what makes Hayden think it's a good idea to continue her trail of mayhem down into the basement to fuck with Tate. Maybe there is no reason. Everyone knows Hayden is bat-shit crazy after all. Still, she should have known that taking a fight to the devil wouldn't bring about anything good.

Tate, on the other hand, is sitting his in his favorite chair staring at the wall. His face is expressionless, his eyes not even blinking and Violet is certain he hasn't moved in three days. She's been timing him for lack of anything better to do.

He doesn't bat an eyelash or twitch a muscle when Hayden comes sashaying down the stairs and upon spotting him calls out shrilly, "Christ Tate! You're such a little emo bitch!"

Violet, looking for a break in the monotony, can't help but watch the unfolding scene with malicious interest.

When Hayden's greeting fails to spark a reaction her cheeky grin twists into a waspish sneer. "Are you still moping over Violet? Seriously, that's pathetic."

The fingers on Tate's right hand flex, almost imperceptibly. Violet notices but Hayden does not.

Trying a new tactic, Hayden comes up behind Tate and begins to gently run her fingers through his hair. With each pass her nails scrape harder and harder until she grips a fistful of his blond locks and jerks his head back roughly. Leaning down, she nips at his ear and purrs, "I bet I could make you forget all about Suicide Sally."

No flinch. No wince. No shiver. Nothing.

Hayden shoves his head away practically hissing with anger.

Violet has to bite her lip to keep from laughing.

Suddenly Hayden does laugh but the tone falls just short of sultry and is unnervingly off. She walks around the chair to stand in front of Tate, her smile manic and challenging. "Since you're not much into participation how about I give you something to watch instead?"

Hayden doesn't wait for a response, just starts humming a lazy tune and swaying her body in rhythm. One by one she undoes the buttons on her shirt but Tate remains impassive. Then she tosses the fabric aside leaving her in a bra designed to enhance her cleavage and her smooth skin still spattered in spots with Travis' blood.

Seeing her father's disposable cunt flaunting lush curves that are in all the right places just reminds Violet of what she'll never have. She'll never reach her twenties. She'll never grow up and out of her awkward limbs and juvenile figure. She'll never have the allure that women like Hayden wield as a weapon. And in a stomach churning instant all of Violet's humor is gone. But she refuses to leave. Now she has to see what Tate will do, if he will fuck Hayden and if they both enjoy it.

With a gleeful giggle, out of place and just fucking creepy, Hayden drops to her hands and knees and crawls forward between Tate's legs. She runs her hands up his thighs, slow and playful, but then her teasing fingers reach his crotch and she finds his dick limp and her face contorts into an ugly and furious grimace.

"What the fuck!" she shrieks, "Seriously?"

Tate mutters a response under his breath.

Hayden's eyes narrow to slits. "What did you say?"

Tate finally shifts his attention to Hayden, something dark and chilling stirring to life in his black eyes as he grins boyishly, flashing his dimples. "I said I don't fuck whores."

Hayden's reaction is a hard slap to Tate's face that jerks his head to the side. But before she can do it again he grasps her wrist in a crushing grip causing her to cry out. With her other hand she starts palming his junk through his jeans, her eyes glazing feverishly. "I like it rough, you know. It's always better when it hurts."

"It's better when it's love. But you wouldn't know that because Ben never loved you," Tate replies evenly, knocking away her hand that is pawing at his cock.

Hayden flinches as Tate's words hurt in a way his bone-crushing grip on her wrist never could. Violet almost feels sorry for her until the other girl counters snidely, "He always comes back."

Tate rolls his eyes. "And that is one of many reasons why I think Ben needs his head checked."

"Fuck you Tate! You don't know anything!"

"Really? Ben is a self-serving narcissist that compensates the lack of control over his life by turning to sex as a coping method. It's pretty obvious actually," Tate smirks cruelly. "You are obsessive and co-dependant with submissive tendencies and some serious daddy issues. You judge your self-adequacy based on physical affection because you are weak and incapable of an independent sense of self." Releasing Hayden's wrist with a brutal shove that sends her toppling over on the rough cement, Tate settles back into his chair and shrugs. "But your right. What do I know? I'm just a psychopath."

Hayden sits up glaring balefully. "You think you're better than me but you're not. You were so desperate to be loved because of your own mommy issues that you knocked up your girlfriend's mom just for Nora's approval. I mean, I've done some pretty stupid shit but that takes fucking up to a whole new level. And you've got the balls to say I'm weak when all you do is sulk and whine over that stupid little nutcase and everyone knows that she'll never forgive you." Raising up to her knees, Hayden pokes a finger into Tate's chest as she snarls, "Take a real good look at me Tate because we're not that different at all."

"Yeah," he admits ruefully, "We're both fuck ups. At least you got that part right. But I've learned from my mistakes. I'll cut out my heart before I ever hurt Violet again. Even if she never forgives me."

"That's sweet and all," Hayden says meanly, "but do you honestly think anything you can do or say will make a difference with your bastard son living next door? I bet it kills her to see how much he looks just like his daddy. Maybe I should remind her-"

Violet hates the way her heart wrenches painfully with every vindictive word out of Hayden's mouth but there's barely a second to process everything she's just heard when Tate lunges forward, his chair clattering to the ground as he pins Hayden to the floor beneath him. He straddles her waist for leverage while his hands clench around her throat in a white-knuckled grip. A cold chill slides down Violet's spine because she's finally seeing the monster that Tate is so good at hiding.

She's seen him lash out murderously in his anger. She's also seen him kill the other ghosts for sport and since the dead can't die it becomes another game to pass the time. But this is different. This is not the Tate she is familiar with. This side of him is hideously wrong because she's never seen his handsome face appear so… blank. There's no emotion in his actions, only the energy it takes to maintain his ruthless grip as Hayden kicks her legs and claws at his hands. And she knows with a sick kind of certainty that this is the face his classmates saw behind the barrel of shotgun. Not a flicker of life, only death coming to claim them.

A knot of feeling lodges in Violet's chest, but whether it stems from fear or excitement she refuses examine closely.

Just as Hayden's struggles begin to ebb Tate releases his hold and rocks back onto his feet. A horrible rasping sound comes from her throat as she greedily takes in air but Tate pays her no mind. His attention is on the axe propped against the wall a few feet away. His steps are slow and filled with purpose as he retrieves the weapon, slinging it over his shoulder carelessly before facing Hayden once more.

This time Violet feels sorry for her as she tries to crawl away but she doesn't make it far before the wet thud of the axe meeting soft flesh echoes off the brick walls. Hayden's bloodcurdling screams last for less than a minute and then it's just a repetitive slopping sound as Tate swings the axe over and over spattering blood everywhere. When he finally stops he's out of breath, crimson rivulets dripping from his face and hands as surveys his handy work.

And then he breaks.

A keening cry rips from his chest as he throws the axe across the room and Violet imagines it's similar to the sounds of a wounded animal. And then he's tearing at his hair, punching at his head and when that's not enough it's his knuckles slamming into the wall with bone-jarring force. Violet has to bite her lip hard enough to draw blood to keep invisible and silent. As her heart races she's torn with the warring desires to plead with him to stop or sling insults at his back just to make his torment infinitely worse. But for all of the violence pouring out of him, he's not calming down, he's only winding up tighter.

So Violet isn't shocked when he slumps into the wall, pops open the button of his jeans, jerks the zipper down and begins tugging on his semi-erect cock. The blood coating his hand works as a lubricant but his motions are furious and brutal. His brow is touching the wall with his eyes squeezed shut and his jaw clenched so tightly that his harsh breaths puff his cheeks as he exhales. She licks her lips and the cruel streak within her relishes the mildly arousing display despite that he's covered in gore and clearly punishing himself instead of seeking pleasure. When Tate cums it's her name that he chokes out as his shoulders heave in a silent sob, his face twisted in a tortured grimace. The tears leaking from the corners of his eyes leave a clear path in the blood drying on his cheeks.

Violet thinks she may understand a little of what he's feeling as he fixes his clothes with trembling, bloody hands and retreats into the crawl space to lick his wounds where only her bones and his demons can offer him company.

 


 

In the weeks that follow Tate does not come out of his voluntary confinement and Violet is left with little else to do but think. His baiting conversation with Hayden plays on repeat in her mind but does little to ease her conflicted emotions.

Nothing has changed, really. She's still angry. She still wants Tate to suffer and if anything the desire is even more intense after getting a taste of it first hand. It's what her broken heart demands, his pound of flesh paid in blood and tears for his betrayals. She needs to see him hurt, needs to know that the pain is not just her solitary burden for allowing him in and giving him the leverage to ruin her.

The cruelty that was her defensive mask in life has become her only constant in death. Venom, spite and nothing nice, that is what dead girls are made of. But the vehemence of Violet's malice surprises her and she hates that this is what she's become, a bitter and hateful ghost of a girl.

Her broken heart, that is Tate's fault. But the monster she is becoming is entirely her own doing and it's a glaringly awful truth that she can not ignore.

She thinks it could be the house influencing her. It does that, whispers dark temptations of pain and bliss into her mind and then fuels her desire for self harm. And that makes her wonder if Tate ever had a chance to overcome the darkness. With assholes like Constance and Hugo for parents and the most formative years of his life spent within the walls of Murder House as it spoke to him, molded him, the odds had been against him from the beginning.

Wounded pride has kept Violet from giving much thought to the reasons behind Tate's fucked up behavior but she can piece together the basics. He's disturbed, obviously. He's a psychopath that lacks any ability to empathize and therefore has no boundaries as to what he is capable of doing. It's textbook rationalization and it is the face value explanation of why he can't be helped or trusted.

But Violet knows that nothing is simply black and white, especially not Tate Langdon. So she tries to view the events that transpired from his askew perspective.

His murderous rampages are perhaps the easiest to understand. It's his outlet. All that pent up violence and rage has to go somewhere and Tate is a boy of action and reaction. He's not passive by nature which is why his recent funk is so amusing to Violet and it's more of a clue to his inner most feelings than all the pretty-worded bullshit he could spout.

But, in this case, if actions really do speak louder than words, then what is she supposed to make of the affection Tate had lavished upon her? Because her father diagnosed Tate as a psychopath incapable of love or any other kind of genuine emotion. And sometimes she feels inclined to believe him, but that answer doesn't really make sense. After all, if Tate didn't harbor some form of love for Nora then he wouldn't have raped Vivian in order to procure her a child. And if he hadn't had some level of affection for her then what had stopped him from ending her life the moment he decided he wanted to keep her around? Why try and protect her from herself?

No, there was more to Tate than just apathy and enraged impulses.

Hayden had been onto something when she claimed that Tate had a desperate need to be loved. It was there, reflected in his warped interpretations of grand gestures. A child for Nora? No problem, just find a living, expendable incubator and done deal. A friend for Violet? Just a matter of killing the new kid in the house, someone he could keep in line so she'd have some company.

It sort of appalled her that she could understand his simplistic way of viewing people and placing them like props carefully set to function in the ways that he wanted. Cause and effect were excellent tools for manipulation when orchestrated with a skilled hand. But his neurotic craving for love and approval made him sloppy and predictable. Knowing Tate, to show his devotion he'd leave a body count. Killing would be his natural inclination to show her that he would do anything for a chance to prove himself and earn her forgiveness.

It was the chink in Tate's armor that she hadn't even realized she'd been searching for and it was knowledge that she could, and would, use to her advantage. Because if her absence could seriously fuck his shit up, Violet had to wonder what kind of havoc she could wreak by dangling the possibility reconciliation just out of his reach?

And maybe she could forgive him, maybe not. The truth was that she still loved him, even though he raped and inadvertently killed her mother, despite the fact that he ruthlessly murdered fifteen kids and even knowing he was, at his core, formed from the darkness in this repetitious hell. She'd learned to accept that she couldn't make her feelings go away. But she refused to be like Vivian and Ben in their endless cycle of fuck up, forgive and repeat. If, and it was a really big if, she could eventually forgive it would cost him dearly, so dearly that he'd never dare betray her again.

So the real question Violet had to ask herself was what was she willing to make Tate sacrifice and was she willing to embrace her own darkness to exploit his?

If the stirrings of anticipation seeping through her blood was any kind of indication then she already had her answer.

 


 

It's still three more months before Tate finally rejoins the ranks of the un-living.

In the interim Violet has taken to spending her time either outside in the gazebo or playing with Beau in the attic because she has learned that her maternal instincts are non-existent and hours upon hours of cranky babies, both living and ghostly, are enough to drive her to madness. The house is also beginning to get the better of it's living inhabitants and the couple has taken to fighting over every little thing from money problems to what to have for dinner. All the yelling grates on her nerves and Violet has come to adore moments of quiet solitude.

The first time she finds Tate he seems alert and not quite as unstable. His hair is still a mess, his eyes still rimmed with dark circles and she takes note of the blood spots seeping through the material of his shirt sleeves. The bright crimson against the light gray is bold and out of place. The fact the he's back to cutting and not bothering to hide it says a lot. He's not as calm on the inside as he's pretending.

That suits Violet fine because neither is she.

The first overture she makes is to leave a poem for Tate to find in the basement crawlspace tucked securely under her own mostly decomposed hand. He has a poet's heart so she's confident he'll appreciate the meaning behind her words and understand the macabre gesture for what it is, an invitation of sorts.

Violet trails him for days before he finally seeks out solitude in the crawlspace, the one place the other ghosts won't trespass. She holds her breath, ignoring the vicious hammering of her heart when he spies the folded piece of notebook paper and goes deathly still. It seems like forever before he finally swallows hard and reaches for her gift, reverently prying it loose from her petrified fingers.

As Tate's eyes scan the words she recites them in her mind.

Fall prey to a wicked smile

Temptation in a mask of innocence

Trust in a heart that lies in love

One that has forgone remorse

A glimpse of hell in guileless eyes

Blood runs hot with just a touch

Turing inside out for closer inspection

Rip out everything but the dark

Drown in the sea of memories

Salty skin and bloody sheets

Make the wound a little deeper

Pull till there is nothing left

Standing still amidst the broken past

Sell the masquerade of childish fears

Face the burning ache that lingers

Tighten the rope and take the fall

There's a wetness to his voice that matches the glassiness pooling in his eyes as he groans, "Fuck, Vi."

Violet feels a justified sense of victory at the stark pain filtering through his expression and with a cruel grin spirits herself away to the attic to plan her next move.

 


 

After leaving that small piece of her heart for him to read, Violet decides to lead Tate on a merry chase. He's started looking for her, his gaze darting around the rooms he enters, always a naive hopefulness about him that at some point she will be there for him to find. But Violet can't bring herself to make it that easy. He has to earn the privilege of her company. All the same, she likes to get his hopes up just to see the disappointment creep into his chocolate eyes, the way they dim to a pale black as his shoulders slump slightly and the corners of his lips turn down sourly.

When Tate begins to stop looking, accepting that it may be years or even decades before she acknowledges him again, Violet makes sure she becomes visible. Just glimpses through the corner of his eye; the flash of a mustard colored cardigan, the fleeting glance of dirty blond hair rounding a corner, just flickers really. He gets the massage quickly, knows that she's toying with him and he takes each of the subtle jibes with a determined smirk and roll of the eyes because he's at her mercy and in no position to make demands.

But in the end it's just a game and Violet needs more. The anticipation of an actual confrontation is tingling along her skin, humming through her veins and each time she comes close to allowing him to catch her it makes her heart race and her throat burn with all the razor sharp words she wishes to lacerate him with.

So she chooses the attic for her purpose because it's the one place she and Tate are likely to have privacy and Violet is not ready to be sociable with the rest of the house yet. She's gotten too comfortable being invisible, become too dependent on the anonymity it offers and it's become a weakness. Or perhaps she has simply become spoiled when seeking companionship by remaining unwilling to offer hers in return.

After filching a pack of cigarettes from the living tenants and making herself comfortable in the window, Violet has only to wait. She tries to organize her thoughts, straighten them out into some semblance of coherency so that she's not a stuttering, inarticulate mess. But it's a losing battle and all efforts to remain calm evaporate with the sudden tightening in her stomach and pounding of her heart when she hears him begin ascending the ladder.

He doesn't notice her at first, his attention focused instead on a pile of boxes and a duffel bag off to the side, and the shuffling of his converse across the dusty floor makes her breath catch because the sound is so familiar and reminiscent of happier times spent in this room, a room that she has since visited alone for nearly four years. But bitterness contaminates the sentimentality of her reflections and her skin thickens once more as she braces herself for impact of the emotional kind.

Violet bides the moments as Tate rummages through a box, waits until her posture is lax and she is poised and for all appearances nonchalant. Then she flicks open her zippo and lights her cigarette, the sound causing Tate to spin around to face her. And fuck if the way his pretty face lights up doesn't make her want to knock him to the floor so she can scratch his eyes out with her blunt nails.

"Violet… uh… hey," he says nervously, his smile hesitant as he stuffs his hands deep in his pockets and moves slowly towards her. He comes across as adorably awkward and she has to admire his acting skills. Once upon a time she would have fallen for it.

Instead Violet gives him a pointed glare. "Drop the bullshit. You're not shy, Tate, so don't act like it."

He freezes, his head cocking to the side as the smile slips from his lips and turns into a wary pout. Obviously he hadn't expected her to call him out right off the bat and now he has to rethink his strategy. Violet takes a drag of her cigarette and stares him down. Finally he sighs, shuffles over and sits down cross-legged at her feet, close enough to reach out and touch but far enough away that he's not crowding in on her personal space.

He runs a hand through his tousled locks and admits with a grimace, "I am a little nervous, you know. I don't want to say anything that will make you disappear again."

This is her game, her rules and he knows it.

"Be honest with me and I might stick around," she replies coolly.

"You promise?"

Of course, she's not the only one that can smell bullshit a mile away. Turning her face to the window, she smirks, "No."

They fall into silence, Violet watching the trees ripple in the afternoon breeze and Tate taking the moment to watch her and committing it to memory, because they both know that a meeting like this may not happen again any time soon.

"You let me find you," he remarks, when the silence becomes too heavy. There's a question in his statement that begs for an answer.

"This has been a long time coming, don't you think?"

"Yeah," he agrees quietly, "too long. I've missed you."

Violet can't stand the way her heart wrenches in painful longing at his words and she bristles like an angry cat. "I'm not here to make up and play nice," she snaps, her hazel eyes shooting daggers as she faces him again.

"Figures," he nods, "I didn't expect you to make it easy. You totally fucked up all of my plans," he chuckles ruefully.

"What plans?"

"Before… I had everything mapped out. You were supposed to be a fun way to kill time while I waited for Vivian to have Nora's kid. But you were so pretty and fucking innocent and I wanted to be the one to taint you. But I wasn't supposed to fall in love with you." His eyes narrow a little as he adds, "I kind of hate you for that."

Tate's blasé attitude stings and that's how Violet knows that this is probably the most honest he's ever been with her. She feels compelled to return the favor. "The feeling is mutual."

Tate arches a brow. "The love or the hate?"

"Both, I think." She exhales the response along with smoke and her tone turns nasty, "What the hell do you know about love anyway?"

He shrugs, looking down at his hands as he fiddles with the fraying sleeves of his green and black striped shirt. "When you're happy it makes me happy. When you cry it feels like my heart is being ripped out. You're all I think about, all I want, still. And not being with you feels like I can't breathe. I hoped that if I stayed away from you it would go away too. But it won't and I don't think it ever will."

All Violet can do is huff a sarcastic laugh and look out the window again because she can't let him see those same feelings reflected on her face.

"If I had known what it would cost me I'd have told Nora no."

"But you didn't," she reminds him coldly. "You led me on knowing the whole time that you that were dead, that you were a murderer, that you raped and knocked up my mother… That was all you, Tate, not Nora.""

Tate opens his mouth to reply but nothing comes out. He tries twice more before finally muttering, "The only reason I kept if from you is because I didn't want you to hate me for all the bad stuff. I wanted to be normal for you, I wanted to be better. But I'm crazy, I know I am, and the voices, they make me to do things…" he shakes his head, trying to make them go away, trying to focus, "It didn't occur to me, at first, that hurting your mom would hurt you. I guess because I hate my cocksucker of a mother that I didn't think about how you'd feel for yours," he explains, subdued and just a touch remorseful.

"God, that is so fucked up!"

"I know," he sighs, and she's not sure if he's tired of it all or if he's trying to sound pitiful. "I really am sorry, Vi."

"Don't you dare say you're sorry," she sneers, her lips curling menacingly, "That kind of mind-fuckery isn't something you can just apologize for and then everything is magically better."

"You're right, but don't you think… I don't know… maybe you should try and get over it or some shit." He looks up at her expectantly, like she shouldn't want to throttle him for what he's suggesting. "I admit to everything I did. I've got nothing else to hide from you. And it's not like I wanted to… you know… with your Mom. She's really not my type."

Tate's reasoning is absurd, selfish and illogical just as Violet knew it would be. Now that everything is in the open he can't see why she's hurt or why she can't move on like nothing happened. Because all he knows is what he wants and what he'll do to get it. Her happiness is only paramount when it's means to an end, the end result being she belongs to him with open arms and spread legs.

Tate may be a lot like Ben but Violet refuses to be anything like Vivian.

"So what you're saying is that we should pick up where we left off, you pretending to be the sweetly obsessive boyfriend and I pretend to be the completely gullible and desperate-for-affection girlfriend and we play fucking house until the next depressed and suicidal teenage girl moves in and you have fresh meat to chase after, because lonely and stupid is obviously your type!"

Tate's brow furrows as a touch of anger flashes in his dark eyes. "Now you're being a bitch. I never thought you were stupid for loving me and I never lied about my feelings for you, just about all the other shit that happened because I didn't want to lose you. You were the only good thing I ever had."

Taking a last drag of her cigarette, Violet puts it out on the windowsill. Stretching her legs out, she notices the way Tate's gaze lingers a little too long on the slight expanse of skin bared between the hem of her dress and her knees. It irks her that she wants him to want her. It just adds to her bitterness.

"I was the only option you had. That's not love, it's opportunity," she says with a mean smirk.

"Bullshit!" Tate snarls, his temper fully engaged at her careless demeaning of his affections and her worth. "If you refuse to forgive me that's your choice, but don't say that I don't love you because you fucking know I do. And I would do anything for you, anything at all. No matter how much you fucking hurt me I'll still put your feelings first!"

"You're such a goddamn lair!" she cries furiously, "You're only sweet and caring to get what you want and right now that just happens to be me 'cause I'm the one thing you can't have. So all your promises don't mean shit because this is just a game to you. It always was! Fucking admit it already!"

Fear, adrenaline, and morbid excitement explodes inside of Violet as Tate lunges forward, shoving her legs apart to press between them. With her back flush against the glass pane there's nowhere for her to go and her attempts to push him away are futile when he grasps her wrists in a crushing grip and pins them down at her sides. Nose to nose, she doesn't back down from the black rage and frustrated tears residing in his eyes as he leans over her, livid and at his breaking point.

"You want me to be mean then? Do you want me to hurt you? Because I can," he says, his voice hoarse and body trembling.

Violet feels him, every inch their pressed together, and she's missed it so damn much that even her anger fueled hatred wavers in reaction to his proximity. But she can't let it go, no matter how good he feels, no matter how much she wants to arch against him, all she can see is Vivian being weak and Ben being selfish and she can't be that girl, the one that says it's all okay when it's really not.

"You promised to never hurt me but you did. What does it matter now if you do it again?" she whispers, angry tears of her own welling in her glaring eyes.

"Jesus Vi! It's not supposed to be like this," he rages through clenched teeth, his voice wrecked, tears spilling over, and she can see the effort it takes for him to keep from reacting violently. "I never wanted to hurt you, I swear. I never wanted any of this. Please, please Vi, tell me how to fix it."

Violet's heart breaks all over again, ripping open the scabs that never really healed. She forces herself to watch him shatter, she makes sure that she acknowledges the twisted part of her that enjoys the way he's tearing apart right before her eyes. She takes it all in so that when she manages to free one hand and brush her fingers through his hair, her touch is gentle.

"I don't know if you can," she admits sadly, "I don't know if there is anything you can do that will make me trust you again. But you're a smart boy Tate, if there is some way I'm sure you'll find it."

"No! Don't-"

Before he can turn her inside out any further, Violet vanishes.

 


 

Violet stays incorporeal for a while, drifting like a current through the house, not attached to any one thing or any one emotion. It's the only way she can deal with the aftershocks of her confrontation with Tate. She's afraid to feel knowing that it will only lead to a sadistic cycle of mutilating herself because bleeding out is far less complicated than rubbing herself off to the memory of him pressed flush against her, close enough that she could breathe in the sent of his skin.

It's the screams, blood curdling and echoing through the sleeping house, that rouse her back into a physical form. She makes sure to remain unseen as she watches the convoluted situation taking place.

Nora is the one raising up a ruckus as Travis drags her kicking and screaming from the nursery. In her fit she's a wiggling, writhing, clawing, mess of pissed off female and he's is having a hard time keeping hold of her. Other ghosts have materialized, coming to investigate, and he nods to Vivian, barking, "Go check the baby. She was trying to kill it."

As soon as Vivian disappears into the baby's room, followed by Moira, Tate solidifies next to Travis and in a ruthlessly efficient motion grasps Nora's head and twists, breaking her neck with an audible snap. The screaming stops as her body slumps to the floor and an awkward tension descends in the wake of the abrupt quiet.

When the baby's parents continue their undisturbed slumber having no clue of the danger to their child or the ghostly events taking place, Ben is the first to ask, "What happened?"

"I saw Nora go in the nursery and I figured she was up to something so I followed her. She was holding a pillow over the baby's head while humming a lullaby. I pulled her away and she freaked," explains Travis.

"I'm surprised it took the crazy bitch this long to try something," Hayden says, clearly amused.

Tate rocks back on the balls of his feet, an air of dark adrenaline about him as he says, "Well, you're the one who told her there was a baby in the house."

Ben turns to Hayden, appalled. "Why the hell would you do that?"

Before she can form a plausible reply Tate responds with antagonistic sarcasm, "Why don't you enlighten us, Ben? You're the shrink and you know Hayden so well."

It's obvious that Tate is itching to start all kinds of trouble.

Travis remains quiet, not even bothering to play mediator while Chad and Patrick give Tate menacing looks, practically daring him to make the first move. Ben, however, refuses to play into his game, snapping, "Either make yourself useful or fuck off!"

"The little one is fine," Moira interrupts from the nursery doorway, "Miss Vivian is settling her back down to sleep. I think we can all agree it's time for these people to leave. This house doesn't need the souls of any more children." Though she addresses the group as a whole, her pensive, mismatched gaze is trained on Tate.

"Yeah… don't worry, I'll keep Nora out of the way," he grins, flashing his dimples and it's a disarming contrast to the wild, predatory look in his black eyes. Without preamble he hefts Nora's limp form over the banister, looking for all the world like a kid on Christmas as her body makes a sickening thud on the hardwood floor below, crimson pooling around her pale blond head.

Moira clicks her tongue in disapproval. "Keep the bloodshed in the basement please."

Tate gives her a mocking salute as he bounds down the stairs with a bounce in his step and a crazy gleam in his eye. His converse squeak, Nora's dress rustles and the beaded trim scratches against the floor as he grasps her under her arms and drags her dead weight all the way to the basement.

Violet observes the others as they come up with a game plan to terrify the sleeping couple, Hayden looking pleased to have Ben's attention even though he's only scolding her for being such a bitch. Violet wouldn't mind helping but she has no desire to make her presence known. She debates following Tate instead, but she's not really in the mood to watch him take out his frustrations on Nora, not when her head is full of old memories of the days and nights they'd spent wrapped up in each other relieving a different kind of tension.

Violet reappears in her old bathroom. She needs solitude. She craves orgasmic bliss. It's been far too long since she's wanted to feel alive, and even though she knows it will cause her nothing but pain, she won't run from it any longer. Staying ethereal won't lessen the ache of needing the one person her self-respect won't allow her have. And while she may be desperate and stupid over a psychotic boy, at least she can pride herself on not being a coward.

She turns on the taps and undresses as the bathtub fills. Almost as an afterthought she rummages around in the cabinet under the sink until she finds her old stash of razors. She hasn't used them in over a year, not since she stopped taking a physical form, but tonight she'll need to spill blood. Pain is always the price for pleasure in Murder House.

Sinking into the steaming water is a decadent experience and an indecent moan slips past Violet's lips as she melts into the liquid warmth. Tingles dance along her skin, shivers race down her spine and she closes her eyes letting the memories that have been plaguing her do their worst.

It's the feel of Tate's supported weight pressing her down into the mattress that she remembers most clearly, mainly because it always made her feel protected and wanted, like she was something precious. And then it's his lips and how he would trail them along her neck, over her shoulder, kissing each of her shameful scars or pressed hotly against the inside of her thigh.

Her hand slips between her legs and worms its way through familiar territory, two fingers deep in an easy rhythm that allows her thumb to rub demanding little circles against her clit. It feels nice, but not good. It's not what she needs. His fingers were longer, the friction more forceful and the way he'd curl them to find that perfect spot that would make her breath catch and her heart stutter, she can't quite imitate. It's just one more thing to hate him for.

So she forgoes the sweet memories and embraces her darker fantasies instead. She thrusts her fingers harder, biting her bottom lip until she tastes blood as she imagines his hand fisted in her hair yanking hard, the toe-curling sensation of his cock slamming into her with punishing force, her nails raking down the sleek muscles of his back hard enough to break the skin and make him gasp, the sliver of fear that laces the pleasure as the monster in him comes out to play, his teeth leaving vicious marks, his fingers creating pretty bruises all while she's mesmerized by the madness burning in his black eyes…

Violet cums hard, whimpering as her body embraces the release. But it's not really enough because he's not there with her, sharing the same air as they come down off their high trading lazy kisses in the crush of sweaty skin.

So she doesn't fight the tears or try to shake off the emptiness that reclaims her. This is what she gets for dreaming and wanting, a merciless awakening to the harsh reality that she'll never be complete without him, that nothing will ever be enough if Tate is not her counterpoint in the giving and the taking. But he'd taken too much and she can't give any more so they become another tragic story in the endless cycle of history repeating in a house filled with horror and death.

The only thing that hurts worse than accepting her soul is raw and flayed is reciprocating those wounds on her skin. Yet she does, writing the tale of her misplaced trust and desiccated heart by dragging the razor across her flesh. Her blood spills, garish against her porcelain skin and comforting as it steadily drips little clouds of crimson into the clear bath water.

Violet loses herself in the ritualistic bloodletting, paying no mind the uproar of cursing and screaming going on outside the bathroom. She knows the others are accomplishing their task, scaring the young couple so thoroughly that they'll more than likely be gone before morning. All she can muster is a twinge of bitter jealousy that they'll make it out and have a second chance. She ruthlessly silences the snide voices that remind her she could too, if she'd let it happen.

When the pain is no longer numbing, she puts on the finishing touches by sliding the razor from her wrist to her elbow, first on one arm and then the other. Like a good drug or a killer buzz, the world begins to drift away.

She's too far removed to be startled when the door bursts open and in stumbles the young woman, panicked and crying hysterically. When she sees Violet, head lolling to the side and chest deep in bloody water, one arm hanging over the edge of the tub baring her butchered forearm, she screams again and the sound echoes in the tiny room.

Violet finds it funny that she managed to join in on the scare fest after all. But Tate was right, she should have tried locking the door before killing herself.

 


 

The beginning of October finds Violet sitting out in the gazebo lamenting that fall is in full swing and to look around her southern California surroundings, she'd never know it.

The weather is mildly warm, cooler in the evenings for sure, but nothing like the invigorating chill that she'd experience in Boston. She misses the changing of the leaves and their rich palette of reds and oranges and golds. There was a certain charm in the way the fallen leaves would crunch under her boots, a foreshadowing of the holiday season to come when the weather would noticeably change and sweaters became necessary to keep warm and not just hide her scars. Fuck, she never thought she'd actually miss the need to wear gloves and ear muffs.

But there's none of that here. The leaves fall few and far between. Sweaters are hardly necessary and if she's lucky it might get cold enough to warrant a jacket by January.

Not for the first time Violet wishes she could go back home. The want is so intense, so desperate, that it's hard to draw a breath past the lump of tears in her throat. And that's how Tate finds her, staring at the evergreens with a look of severe longing, lost in her own little world of things she once took for granted that she'll never have again.

"Hey Violet," he greets softly, trying not to startle her into disappearing.

She stiffens, embarrassed that he caught her completely off guard and that she was so zoned out she hadn't kept herself invisible. But that's her own fault so she reigns I her annoyance and nods, "Hey Tate."

Without asking if it's okay, he sits down on the floor and leans back against the bench she's perched on. He's within kicking distance and she debates aiming a good hard one right to the side of his head but she refrains because she's not really angry with him right now. Well, she is but she's more angry with herself and while it would feel good to hurt him- okay, more like kill him repeatedly- she remains still and composed because more than all the rest, she's missed him and it's only been building since their spat in the attic that now seems like forever ago.

Tate pulls a deck of cards from his pocket and starts shuffling them before breaking the tense silence, "You seem pretty out of it. Penny for your thoughts?"

"It's fall," she sighs, shifting around to stretch her legs out across the bench seat so that she can face his profile without getting a stiff neck.

"And?"

Violet rolls her eyes. "Fall here is shit; the leaves don't change, the weather doesn't change, nothing changes. It's like being inside Murder House only outside. I was thinking of back home and about how I never really appreciated the little things like that. I'm just homesick, I guess."

Tate doesn't respond at first, just deals out the cards in a pyramid formation, facing up and sets the rest down. He pulls a card from the stack, adds it to one in the first row of playable cards and then places them aside. "I've never seen snow," he says finally, "Always thought it would be kinda cool to have a snowball fight and go snowboarding and stuff. I bet it's fun."

"It can be," she smirks, remembering her share of snowball fights. "But it also sucks balls when you have to help your dad shovel the car out from under two feet of snow at four o'clock in the morning so you won't be late for school," she counters, but then her smirk falters. "It's stupid but I miss that too."

Tate turns to her, his lips quirked with the hint of a smile but his eyes are somber. "Nothing about you is stupid, Vi. You miss something I never got to experience. I envy you for that. This here, everything you see, is all I've ever known. Sometimes it makes me angry that I gave up the fight and that I let the madness win because it's too late now. But if things hadn't gone the way they did I'd never have met you so I can't regret it too much."

Violet knows he means it to make her feel better but she can't help the dark, simmering anger that boils to life. "Yeah, me being dead worked out so well for you. It's what you really wanted, wasn't it? And if I hadn't offed myself then you would have found a way to do it, just to keep me here trapped in this hellhole with you," she accuses, knowing she's right.

"I probably would have made it look like suicide," he admits, schooling his features to appear sheepish. "I tried to save you when you took those pills because the house forced your hand. If you stayed with me I wanted it to be your choice. But you're right, I don't know if I'd have been able to let you go. I would have tried though. For you, I would have made the effort. That's gotta count for something."

Violet hates the way she's torn; the part of her that never liked normal things is touched that he wants her so much, while the damaged part that never sees past her own discontent wants to slit his throat just to shut him up. It's the constant stalemate of love him or hate him, fuck him or kill him, pull him closer or make him go away. No matter which she chooses, she won't be satisfied.

"But you still wanted me to die just to keep you company. You never thought about the things I would miss or the life I would have had," she fumes. "That's why I stopped you from killing that boy, because as much as I wanted to hang out with him just to piss you off and make you jealous, in the end it was wrong to take his life away because we're hateful and fucked up. But do you even get that? Do you see how wrong it is?"

"I don't give a fuck about him Vi, I only care about you. I just wanted you to be happy."

"By giving me permission to fuck someone else?" she challenges waspishly.

Tate flinches, looking back down at the cards, trying to hide the hurt. "If that's what it takes, yes."

"I don't know what's more insulting; that you try and take care of me like I'm your pet or something, or that you think I'd act like Hayden by hate-fucking any guy I come across. The only reason I slept with you was because I was naïve enough to think it meant something."

"It did," he replies and she catches the tremor in his voice as he hunches forward, bracing his elbows on his knees as he fists his hands into his hair, pulling.

"Whatever, Tate."

"Remember that night on the beach, when I couldn't get it up and you got pissed? I blamed it on the meds but the truth is I was scared. I'd never wanted anyone as much as I wanted you and I couldn't get into it because I needed to be more to you than just a quick fuck in the sand, but there was so much you didn't know… but then you died anyway and now you hate me for everything so maybe… " he swallows hard, his knuckles turning white, "maybe it didn't mean anything after all."

It infuriates her that he can twist her up so easily but that's how he plays her. That's how he knows that she still cares, because he can make her react. So she takes a deep breath and refuses to comment on his heartbroken speech by changing the subject all together. "I'd kill for a fucking cigarette right now."

Slowly Tate's hands relax and fall back into his lap. He sits up a bit straighter but his voice is still strained when he laughs humorlessly, "No Vi, I'm the one that kills things. Not you."

"Sometimes I think I could kill you," she sighs.

"I'd let you," he offers.

Before Violet can explain that if he's cool with it then it defeats the purpose, a loud bang hailing from Constance's backyard commands both of their attention. She sees the little monster spawn running around giggling manically, the wide open back door having caused the loud noise when it was thrown open. Michael is in nothing but his underwear with a disheveled Constance attempting to lure him back inside with the promise of a treat. The scene would be funny and horribly normal if the child wasn't spattered with blood while clutching the mutilated corpse of a kitten and it makes Violet's stomach turn.

Trying breathe despite the sudden crushing sensation in her chest, she grits out bitingly, "He's just like his daddy. You should be proud."

When Tate remains silent watching his living mistake and the cocksucker with dead eyes and the perfect poker face, Violet wonders just how far the monster will go if she gives it the right push. So her next taunting comment is worded very carefully.

"You know what the one good thing about all of this is?" He doesn't blink but she knows he's listening. "I won't be stuck loving you forever. I just have to wait for him to end the world and I'll finally be free of you."

Satisfied that she's dealt Tate a blow he'll feel for a long time to come she wills herself to the attic so she can shed her tears in relative privacy.

 


 

Violet figures out Tate is avoiding her after a week of trying to find him to no avail. He hadn't holed himself in the crawlspace nor had he been up to the attic, at least not while visible, and she's caught snippets of his voice so she knows he's roaming the house and it's starting to piss her off that he's eluded her so thoroughly.

He was supposed to be her distraction, not the other way around.

But Violet's persistence pays off a few days before Halloween when she spies Tate talking to Constance in the kitchen. It's obvious why the older woman has paid a visit as she hangs on Travis' arm slanting him coy looks from the corner of her eye. Tate, on the other hand, is sitting on the kitchen counter kicking his feet childishly as he gives his mother a hesitant smile.

"I just thought it might be a good idea," he says, his tone hopeful yet a touch uncertain.

"I think this is a wonderful idea." Constance beams an overjoyed smile at Tate and reaches up to pat his cheek in a motherly fashion. "Now you just leave everything to me and it will all work out, you'll see." She starts to lead Travis away but then stops motioning to the bag sitting on the counter. "Oh, I brought the things you asked for. Try and make them last."

"Thanks Mamma," Tate replies sweetly, dimples and all.

Violet waits until Constance and Travis disappear upstairs and then she sees what she's been expecting all along. Tate's sweet smile morphs into a twisted smirk and he hops down from the counter, all pretenses of boyish timidity gone in a flash as he snags the bag and stalks out the room.

By the time Violet makes it to the hall he's gone.

 


 

Halloween dawns with overcast skies and the comforting patter of rain against the windows. Violet has no plans to leave, she sees no point in teasing herself with a false sense of freedom. As the ghosts head out one by one she takes to roaming the house without her invisible armor. She hopes to lure out Tate because in her boredom she needs something to focus on and he is the one thing usually on her mind. But he doesn't come near or even give her a teasing glimpse, the bastard.

Even after the rain passes and the sun comes out, Violet spends most of the afternoon playing with Beau in the attic. It's a simple thing to make him happy and it calms her because of all the souls trapped in Murder House Beau is the most gentle and kind. He has no expectations of her, no lies to feed her, just a simple game of rolling his ball to pass the time and she appreciates it.

The sun is just beginning to set when Violet wanders to her old room- his old room- and even though there is no furniture she still likes the space because it's a connection to a time when she was almost happy. She stops short upon seeing a pack of cigarettes and a folded note resting in the middle of the floor. Curiosity piqued, she glances around before crouching down and lifting the note to read.

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,

Enwrought with golden and silver light,

The blue and the dim and the dark cloths

Of night and light and the half-light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;

I have spread my dreams under your feet;

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

- Yeats

I love you and I won't let you forget it. Ever.

Violet tries not to react, incase Tate is there watching, but the tears start without her volition. She doesn't want to accept what he's trying to say and resents herself even more for wanting to buy into it. But their last two encounters stand to remind her that he'll only bring her nightmares and pain, not heavenly dreams. She reads the poem again and has to wonder if he's trying to win her back or just finish her off completely. She's not sure which outcome would hurt more.

At least he supplied her with her favorite vice because she really needs a fucking cigarette.

Suddenly Violet is pulled from her musings as raised voices from downstairs draw her attention. Stuffing the note and cigarettes into her sweater pocket she rushes out onto the landing in time to see Travis and Tate come tumbling through the front door engaged in a furious scuffle. Tate manages to throw off Travis' hold and they break apart each breathing hard as they eye up the other to see who will make the next move.

"Dude, how could you?" Travis asks accusingly.

It's then that Violet notices the blood smeared across Tate's blue flannel shirt and more smudged on his cheek and his jaw. He shrugs indifferently, "It needed to be done."

"But… I mean, fuck Tate… he's your kid!"

Tate's mouth twists in a cruel sneer as he spits, "That thing was a mistake and now I've fixed it!"

A knot of tumultuous emotion settles in Violet's stomach as the gist of their conversation impales her with wrecking ball force.

He didn't…

Before Violet even realizes that she's made the decision to relocate, she's out on the front lawn and her heart nearly stops when she finds a broken Constance, openly weeping over the body of the little boy she carried onto the property in a last ditch attempt to save him that obviously didn't work.

Violet suspects that she should be revolted, it would be the normal reaction as she studies Michael's corpse, his throat sliced open clean through to his spine, but all she can think of is Vivian, her baby brother and the five shallow graves in Constance's back yard that hide the victims of his temper tantrums. She has to fight to keep from smirking because she can't summon an ounce of remorse that the little fucker is dead.

The weight of Constance's glare when she finally acknowledges Violet, however, almost makes her back up a step.

"He did this," Constance snarls, "my wretched excuse for a son that is vile and useless and an utter disgrace to the Langdon name. Do you see what he's done to my poor boy? Do you?" Her hands flutter about the little boy's body as if she's afraid to touch him. "He said he wanted to get to know Michael and I foolishly thought he finally understood what his child could be and the potential he could reach. But no. He had to ruin my grandson just like he always ruins everything. But never again. The little shit is dead to me!"

It's the self-righteousness that Constance exudes that makes Violet angry. After everything this woman has done, everything she's put her children through, how dare the bitch try to place all of the blame on Tate's shoulders. She's sure Constance is one of the main reasons why Tate is the emotional and psychological basket case he is today. And even though she may never forgive him, Violet figures it's okay to take his side, just this once.

"Tate is dead because of you," Violet says meanly, "Everyone knows you were a shitty mom so spare me the grieving act because Tate is way better at bullshitting people than you are. You messed him up, made him the monster he's become, but you never cared about him. All that mattered was what he could give you. And it's the same with Michael, all you want is bragging rights and now you won't even get that. The little demon deserved to die and honestly, so do you."

She doesn't stick around for Constance's response, the horrid woman is Travis' burden to bear and Violet feels there's nothing left to say anyway. She relocates back into the foyer and Tate is right where she left him, bloodstained, chin tucked against his chest and watching her with unnerving intensity.

"Why?" She asks, though she already knows, she just needs to hear him say it.

"I had to," he replies softly. "This way you'll never be free of me. For always, remember?"

Violet does remember, all the fucking time, and that's the problem.

"I'm not sorry he's gone," she admits, taking a deep breath and stepping closer to Tate. Wetting the tip of her thumb with her tongue, she wipes at the blood smeared on his face, but pulls away quickly when he tries to lean into her touch.

"Violet…" he whimpers, his distant expression crumbling as the tears well up and spill over.

She wraps her arms around herself defensively and steels her spine trying to fight down her own rising tears. "It doesn't change anything. It doesn't matter how much time you buy, I can't look at you without thinking about all the lies. I see you and I see my Dad every time he betrayed my Mom. And I'm not my Mom. I won't give you the chance to hurt me like that again." She swallows hard against the lump in her throat and puts all the cruelty she can muster into a forced smirk as she adds, "And I sure as hell don't want Vivian's sloppy seconds. Go away!"

From the basement Tate's tortured scream of rage echoes though the silent house and Violet fades away with the gut-wrenching sound because she's not brave enough to feel when all it does is cause more pain.

 


 

Tate's little stunt causes an uproar amidst the ghosts in Murder House. Violet hangs around, listening in on their conversations as everyone seems to have an opinion on Michael and his murder. She's amused by the speculation over Tate's motives and laughs to herself because no one comes close to getting it right. In the end, the general consensus is that no one will mourn the demon child, which she pretty much expected.

What does surprise Violet is an unexpected conversation between Vivian and Travis that she stumbles upon one afternoon in the living room.

The two are seated on an old ratty sofa hauled up from the basement and it's the only piece of furniture in the large room. They're talking in hushes tones but she catches on quickly that Vivian is venting her relationship problems with Ben. Violet wouldn't have given them a second though except for the way Travis flashes Vivian a panty-wetting grin and she tosses her hair over her shoulder flirtatiously, a slight flush touching her cheeks. Violet takes in the subtle interaction and can't help but give their conversation her full attention.

"Don't be ridiculous," Vivian chides with a brilliant smile.

"Hey, I'm being completely serious," Travis insists earnestly, "I've always envied Ben. I don't understand why he doesn't appreciate what he has."

"After twenty years there's not much excitement anymore. At least that's his excuse this time," She replies, her smile slipping a notch.

Travis shakes his head, clearly amused. "Allow me to school you Viv. Girls like Hayden are only good for sex. You know they're a sure thing when you want to get off and get out. They don't expect much because they know they'll always be another guy waiting to step up to the plate. I probably sound like a sexist pig but she is a player and that's her game. And us guys aren't going to turn down what she's giving away for free."

Vivian's eyes narrow a little. "Is there a point you're trying to make?"

"I'm getting there," Travis chuckles huskily. "Women like you don't have to give anything away to catch a man's attention. You're confident, dignified, you know what you want in a lover and you've got the experience to back it up. Now, some guys are intimidated by that, or like Ben; just too damn lazy to work for it. But I bet you're worth the effort and then some."

"Oooh, you're good." Vivian shakes a finger at Travis, smirking. "And you're trying to get me in trouble."

It's like witnessing a train wreck, as uncomfortable as it is to watch Violet simply can't look away. Travis is smooth, she has to give him that. And her mom is totally buying in to his pussy-chasing routine.

"I'm just letting you know you've got options. I don't want to cause any problems, but Ben seems to do that just fine on his own," says Travis.

"Good lord! I'm nearly twice your age," Vivian laughs.

"You're a MILF." Travis stands to leave, flashing Vivian another megawatt smile for good measure. "Just keep in mind what I said, Viv."

As Travis walks way with a slight swagger in his step that makes Violet roll her eyes, Vivian stares after him with a contemplative expression.

Violet kind of wants her Mom to have the guts to go for it, take something for herself for a change, give Ben a taste of his own medicine. But then Violet reminds herself that Ben's had competition before in the guise of a latex body suit and she pushes all thoughts of Vivian getting laid as far away as possible.

Three days later when Violet hears her mother's breathless moans coming from one of the guest bedrooms accompanied by Travis' warm laugh, she can't help but laugh a little herself.

Violet notices a change in Vivian after her rendezvous with Travis. There's a new vitality about her, a girlishness that she's never seen her mother exhibit before. The trysts continue and Vivian seems all the better for her little diversions. And as far as she can tell, Ben is none the wiser.

So when Violet happens upon Vivian tending Jeffery as she cries softly, pitiful, heartbroken tears that remind her of the worst of her parents fights, Violet gives into her curiosity, flops down next to her mother on the worn sofa and tries not to dwell on the fact that this will be the first time they've spoken in well over a year.

"Violet?"

She waves. "Hey Mom."

Vivian hastily wipes at her eyes, and forces a smile. "Oh honey, I've missed you."

It takes effort for Violet to reign in the sarcastic reply hanging on her tongue. She knows it's not entirely true since Vivian has never bothered to look for her or even call out to her, not once. Instead, she shrugs and gets right to the point, "So what's all the crying for?"

"Nothing, nothing at all," she evades, adjusting the baby so she can face Violet. "So… how are you?"

It's awkward. Painfully awkward. And Violet knows it wasn't always like this, or at least not this bad. She and Vivian had never really seen eye to eye. They were too different, neither really understanding the other. But there was a time, back in Boston before everything went to shit, that they could talk to one another. But now, with everything that's happened and the situation they find themselves trapped in, that river of difference has become an ocean.

"I'm dealing," Violet replies carefully, not sure what else to say.

"Did you hear about what happened on Halloween?"

The question catches her of guard but Violet answers anyway, "Yeah… I was here."

Vivian nods, frowning. "I gave birth to Michael but that… thing wasn't my child. I'm glad Ta..Tate got rid of it."

Tate.

He is the last person she wants to think about right now.

So Violet not so subtly changes the subject. "Where's Travis? You've been awfully close lately," and then winces when Vivian begins crying, looking completely stricken. "Shit… uh… sorry."

"I've been sleeping with him," Vivian blurts out abruptly, ashamed.

Violet blinks. "Um, okay."

Vivien slants Violet a worried glance. "What? It's not okay. I shouldn't have done it."

"Then why did you?" Violet huffs, rolling her eyes.

"It was nice to be wanted." Vivian admits in a small voice. "Your father and I… well, it gets boring… but having sex with Travis only complicates everything. It's fun, don't get me wrong, but in the end it's missing something." She flushes, embarrassed. "I feel like I shouldn't be talking about this with you."

"Because I'm too young?" Violet laughs sarcastically.

"You're my little girl," Vivian tries to smile.

Violet can't help but resent the sentiment in her mothers tone because she hasn't been a little girl for a long time. She wasn't afforded that luxury once her parents decided to tear each other apart and drag her down as collateral damage. But Vivian's missed it, she's been too absorbed in her own drama to notice that Violet is her own person now, not a child in need of sheltering. The extramarital affairs, dead babies, Tate, Murder House and a bottle of sleeping pills with a vodka chaser all played a part in encouraging that loss of innocence.

"You don't have to sugar coat it," Violet smirks, mean and fierce. "I'm not a virgin, Mom."

Vivian pales a little because she can guess to whom Violet gave that honor and it only reminds her how convoluted everything has become and the tears fall faster. "I did it to prove a point to myself and to Ben but now I don't want your Father to find out. I don't think I can handle his reaction. I already feel so horrible and guilty. And maybe I shouldn't, but I do. How sad is that?"

Violet's never contemplated sleeping with anyone else, never felt the desire, and now she's forced to admit that she and her mother may have more in common than she's okay with acknowledging. In a way she was kind of hoping Vivian's sexual rebellion would help incite one of her own, but now her mother is a blubbering mess and Violet is disappointed and out of patience.

"God Mom, suck it up already," she snaps. "If you want to make Dad suffer then do it. Treat him like he treats you. Own up to it and enjoy it. But you can't do this half-ass crap because, quite frankly, it's pathetic."

"Violet!" Vivian gasps, wounded.

"You've always been a sucker for Dad's bullshit. He tells you you're boring so that it's okay for him to fuck someone else and you take it. You actually feel bad for it. Fuck that! He'll never learn to respect you if you let him walk all over you. He'll never stop hurting you if you don't show him what it feels like."

Vivian's expression softens and she sighs sadly, "That's what we've been doing for years, constantly hurting each other, and it doesn't make either of us happy. The truth is, I still love your Father. I always have and I always will. So I have to accept that he's a good man, just not a monogamous one."

The let down is almost physically painful as Violet stares at her mother incredulously. "So that's it? You're not even going to fight back?"

"Violet, honey-"

"No!" she shouts, jumping up from the couch, unable to stop the fury from bringing years of pent up vitriol to surface as she paces, the voices screeching to life in her head, fanning the flames of her ire, "This is total bullshit! Dad is the reason we ended up in this goddamn prison in the first place. He's the reason we're stuck with Hayden for eternity. This second chance crap was all his idea and for what? What the hell did it change other than the fact that we're all dead?"

Violet bares her teeth in a mocking grimace as Vivian stars at her helplessly. Jeffery starts to wake, his tiny limbs moving as he emits soft whimpers, but mother and daughter don't break from their stand off.

"Everything I learned about love I learned from the two of you. And when I look back now it's not surprising that I fell in love with Tate, he's a fucking liar just like Dad," Violet laughs coldly. "But I refuse to let him get the better of me. I won't let him make me weak. Because that's what love does, it makes you spineless, needy and so fucking delusional! Just look at Chad and his bitch-fits with Patrick and Hayden and the shit she starts just to get Dad's attention, and Tate with all the fucked up things he did because he wanted Nora to love him the way his bitch of a mother couldn't. Love screwed us all over. But you're the worst Mom, you let it turn you into a fucking doormat!"

"Violet, That is enough!" Ben's voice booms through the spacious room, echoing off the walls. The baby starts wailing as Vivian tearfully coos at him and Violet turns to find her father standing in the doorway, his face set in a disapproving scowl and she knows he's heard her accusations. Motioning to the baby, he chastises, "See what you've done? You've upset them both!"

Violet clenches her fists, nails digging into her skin forming bloody crescents. "I'm just telling the truth. Maybe you should try it sometime."

There's a shift in Ben as he goes from infuriated father to impartial doctor and looks at Violet, really looks at her, for the first time. The damage is there, radiating from the tiny frame of the stranger with his daughter's face. There's a flood of apology in his voice as he entreats, "You have every right to be angry with us. Your Mom and I have made plenty mistakes and we've put you through a lot. And I failed you as a father, I realize that. I should have protected you from Tate and his bad influence. You needed me and I wasn't there for you."

Yanking up her sweater sleeves, Violet holds out her forearms so Ben can see the rows of silvery scars, some jagged and raised while others are thin and barely there, that ascend from her wrist to her crook of her elbow. She knows the psychiatrist in her Dad can read those scars like words on a page and that the truth behind them will devastate him.

"I did this before I died," she says, to make sure he knows, "before this house and Tate. This was how I dealt with you fucking around. And you want to know the real irony here? Tate noticed and he was the one that made me promise to stop. The resident psycho, not my therapist father who should have seen the fucking signs. And all those years the two of you tried for another kid were like a slap in the face because you couldn't be bothered to reach out to me, the one you already had."

Ben rakes a hand over his face, his eyes glassy and suddenly he seems to wilt, his age catching up with him as the weight of the truth settles on his shoulders. Vivian continues to sniffle softly as the baby settles down, but everything Violet has said hangs between the three of them, and like her torn feelings for Tate, her feelings for her parents are no different. The affection and resentment are at war as her inner darkness tries to drown her.

Feeling the violence clawing at her, the craving to spill blood pinpointing to acute hysteria, Violet rasps, "I'm not your little girl anymore. I don't belong to anyone but myself."

And then she's gone, reappearing in the bathroom, because the need to hurt in a way she can control is as vital as drawing her next breath. She searches blindly for her razors but they're not tucked in the back of the cabinet in between the grooves of the wood where she normally hides them. Slamming the cabinet closed, she curses and starts tugging at her hair trying to think past the chaos in her head.

"Looking for these?"

Tate is leaning against the closed door, arms folded and holding the rusted little razors she needs so badly. Violet reaches for them but he pulls away, shaking his head. "You don't have to do this, Vi."

"Fuck you!" she cries, eyes on her target as she lunges and she's quick but he's quicker. She practically growls as he snakes one arm around her shoulders to hold her against him, keeping the razors above her head and just out of her reach. Furious, she slams her elbow into his stomach and he grunts but her strength doesn't double him over like she was hoping. Ripping herself out of his hold she screams, "What the hell, Tate!"

"I caught the show downstairs and I gotta admit, it was pretty awesome the way you put Ben in his place. It was hot." Tate licks is lips, "Seeing you stand up for yourself the way you did, proving to them that you don't need them anymore. I'm proud of you," he grins, but the appreciation inflected in his tone doesn't reach his dark eyes. "Only now you're going to hide away up here and mutilate yourself. I thought you were done with this shit. So I think I should be asking you, what the hell?"

Violet hates him. Really, really hates him. He has no right to judge her or play the concern card. "Give me my razors and get out!"

"Nope."

"Damn you, Tate! Give them to me!"

"Why?" he asks mockingly, his sweet face darkening with his rising annoyance, "So you can give into your weakness? You're stronger than this, I know you are."

Violet sees what Tate is doing all too clearly; playing this new role and trying to be what he thinks she wants, the bad-boy hero she described to her parents. She may not be as good at manipulation as Tate is but she can spot his machinations when he tries them on her. "Convenient that you decide to give a damn now! If you cared so much then where the fuck have you been the last four years, huh?" she asks scathingly.

"Who do you think watched over your body after you would slit your wrists? Cut you down from the rafters in the attic every time you hung yourself? Scraped your insides up off the ground after diving off the roof?" Tate's anger becomes tainted with sadness as he admits, "I've always taken care of you, whether you wanted me to or not."

"I don't need you to take care of me," she seethes, her voice choking up on frustrated tears. "I don't need you!" she lies, because it's easier than accepting his tainted version of love and letting him win.

Tate's patient stare, that bores holes into her soul, says differently. "Yes, you do," he sighs, "I won't let you do this anymore."

Inside Violet's head she's reached the point of critical mass. She can feel the shutdown coming on and her heart stutters, her breath catches and her body begins to tremble. She doesn't want to lose herself only to come back to awareness bloodied and sore with no memory of how it happened.

Desperate, she shouts the words that always assure her a momentary victory. "GO AWAY!"

Tate is gone.

So are her razors.

Violet searches around frantically, her eyes landing on the mirror and a plan snaps into place. The voices cackle in glee as she pounds her fist against the reflective glass, shredding her hands, until large shards fall with a clatter into the sink. Taking the sharpest one she runs it across her throat, fast and deep, not even registering the pain, just the sudden quieting of her mind as the violence bleeds out of her right along with her blood.

Violet awakens later in her old room wearing a fresh change of clothes, the blood washed away, her throat sore and a note tucked against her palm.

The house will get what it wants. It brings out the monster in me. It feeds your impulses to hurt yourself. It fucks with all of us and amplifies our worst qualities. You helped make it better for me and I know I can help you too. Think about it, please. You know where to find me. - Tate

Lighting a cigarette, Violet sits in the window to watch the sun set through the trees and does exactly what Tate asks. She thinks.

 


 

In her head there is a maw of darkness and her in heart a throbbing, raw nerve of pain.

I've always taken care of you

She needs to know if he can take the pain away and make her whole again.

I wanted to be normal for you, I wanted to be better. But I'm crazy, I know I am…

She accepts that he will always be a monster, even if he's not to her.

You helped make it better for me and I know I can help you too…

She wonders if they can stop the madness from taking each other or if they'll just sink into the black abyss together.

You won't ever be free of me…

She believes that, feels that truth deep in her bones.

Please Vi, tell me how to fix it…

She knows there is no going back, only forward.

 


 

It's not an easy or painless process for Violet to sort through her cluster-fuck of emotional baggage and put a game plan in order. She resists the urge to fade into incorporeal stasis and resolves to brave it out because Tate has issued a challenge and she's not about to be the one to back down, even if she is playing right into his grand scheme. The vindictive side of her is itching to beat him at his own game for once, while her vanity demands his attention remain focused solely on her, the way it should be.

He wants a second chance, she'll give him one. But he's going to find out the hard way that she's no longer the girl he thinks he knows anymore than he was the boy she thought she knew.

Violet finds Tate waiting for her in the basement, slouched in his favorite chair, a pair of ear buds in place as he bobs his head in time with the music blasting through the tiny speakers, and a very familiar iPod resting on his thigh- her iPod, the thieving little fucker- and the anxiety that had been building within Violet abruptly washes away in the wake of annoyance. But she's good with that, once more within her emotional comfort zone.

Plucking the device from his lap, she clicks the off button just as his eyes snap open, and levels him with a derisive scowl, "I don't remember giving you permission to use my stuff."

Tate's mouth curls up in a lazy, lopsided grin. "You didn't. But I figured since you keep disappearing on me that you wouldn't care." He looks down achieving the appearance of discomfiture, as he admits, "And I may have kinda hoped you'd notice and get pissed enough to come get it back."

Violet tosses the device back to him with a roll of her eyes. "Whatever."

Tate sits up a little straighter and tugs the ear buds free, turning serious. "I take it you're not here for this," he says, hefting the iPod.

"I read your note and thought about it like you asked," she answers, leaning against the whitewashed brick to face him with folded arms and wary eyes. "Honestly, I don't believe a word you say, Tate. Why should I?"

To him it's simple. "Because I love you."

Violet could fall for his admission so easily, if she let herself, but it's only words and despite the soft reverence in his voice, the gentle adoration in his pretty face, she's taking it all with a grain of salt.

"You loved Nora," she points out, unimpressed. "Then I came along and let you sweet talk your way between my legs and now you don't love Nora anymore. That basically says it all."

"Come on, Vi," he whines, "It's not like that."

"Really?" she scoffs.

"Yes really!" he snaps in irritation. "Nora was there for me at a time in my life when I didn't have anyone else. When things were bad with the cocksucker I could go to her and she'd hug me and tell me it would be okay and act like a real fucking mother. So yeah, I loved her. I wanted to make her happy because once I grew up I wasn't enough to make her smile anymore. So I tried to buy her affection back by giving her the one thing she wanted most. But you were the one who showed me that real love is not bribing someone to give a fuck about you. I understand that now and that's why I resent Nora and everything I did for her."

It takes a moment for Violet to realize why his explanation leaves her unsatisfied. Narrowing her eyes, she accuses, "You said you resent what you did, not regret. You really aren't sorry are you?"

"I'm sorry I hurt you," he replies defensively.

"You didn't rape me, asshole. You raped my Mom," she hisses, "and you're not sorry at all."

Tate takes a deep breath and she can see he's struggling to control his temper. There a tightness around his eyes that matches the stiffness in his words as he says, "I can't stand that what I did hurt you. But the truth is, I really don't give a damn about your Mom, or your Dad, or any of the other sorry fucks stuck in this house. Is that honest enough for you?"

It's Tate's lack of conciliatoriness that Violet appreciates because this time he's not just saying what he thinks she wants to hear. In return she understands in a clinical sense that he's incapable of feeling remorse and she's accepted that as best as she can. But he doesn't see where she's going with this yet, that there is a crucial point she's trying to make.

"Not even Beau?" she asks, a brow arching in challenge.

"Beau is my brother, of course I care about him. But you're more important to me than anyone."

Tate is glaring at her, disgruntled affection clear in his expression, desperation for her to believe him lacing his fervent words, and Violet doesn't hesitate to aim for his heart with a cruel little smirk. "But you still chose Nora over me. You can't deny that."

She relishes the impact of her articulated weaponry. His eyes skitter away, a guilty slump to his shoulders as he rakes a hand through his blond locks in frustration. "I thought I could make you both happy," he sighs weakly.

And she's got him, just like that.

Letting a bit of her self disgust seep into her aloof demeanor, Violet rolls her eyes. "You did make me happy, but it wasn't real. You were never the boy you were pretending to be. I know the truth now and maybe you're right, maybe I help you to be a better person. But we can't save each other, we can't even save ourselves. So what exactly do you want from me, Tate?"

He still doesn't look at her, even when the tears start leaving glistening paths down his cheeks. "I miss you, even if you don't love me anymore, even if you never forgive me, I still miss you. We were good together. And being with you, those were the best days of my existence. You can't blame me for wanting that back."

"But we can't go back to the way it was, you realize that don't you?"

"Yeah," he nods, "but I'll take what I can get."

"Fair enough," Violet assents, because she really didn't expect differently.

Tate tugs his bottom lip between his teeth, uncertain as he asks, "What do you want from me?"

"I don't know. Something has to give, I guess."

"Gotta be a little more specific than that, Vi."

"I can't forgive and forget the way Vivian does. I still feel the need to get even and make you pay for what you did. So maybe we can try getting grip on ourselves first. When I feel the need to bleed out I'll try and let you help me. When you feel the need to kill someone I'll try and help you. We'll see from there."

Tate finally dares to look at her and the hopeful, determined smile he gives her makes Violet's heart ache. He's so boyishly handsome in that moment, flashing his dimples with excited eyes, that she has to remind herself to breathe. Remind herself that nothing has really changed.

"I don't forgive you. I don't even know if this will work," she warns in all honesty.

But the spark she's ignited in Tate doesn't dim. "All I need is a chance. I'll make it work. We'll make it work. You'll see," he promises confidently.

Pushing away from the wall, Violet swallows back the acerbic remarks she could make because it's nice to have a plan, to be proactive and in control. So she doesn't say anything at all, but as she passes him on the way back to the stairs she gives in to impulse and ruffles his hair fondly.

It's a starting point, at least.

 


 

It's a chilly December afternoon when Marcy arrives at the house with a prospective home owner in tow.

Violet takes in the young man, guessing he's in his late twenties with shaggy brown hair and bottle-rim glasses, slightly unkempt and looking anything like the sort of person that could afford a Victorian mansion like Murder House, no matter how much the price has been reduced.

She follows the kooky real estate agent and the potential sucker around as they tour the main floor, Marcy gushing about square footage, the authentic stained glass and classic moldings while the young man nods along to everything she says silently soaking up every detail.

When Marcy finally leads him into the kitchen Violet stops short in the doorway, biting her lip to keep from laughing out loud in surprise. Because there on the pristine counter that Moira cleaned just that morning, is Hayden with Dallas between her legs, pants around his ankles, nailing the psycho whore for all he's worth, both of them oblivious to the new arrivals.

"And isn't this a lovely kitchen," Marcy gushes, gesturing around with her hand as if she were a model on the Price Is Right. "All brand new, stainless steel appliances and beautiful granite countertops. The previous owners wanted the best and you can't beat these kind of upgrades for the price."

Hayden moans low and sultry and Dallas' thrusts are hard enough to rock her body from head to toe.

For the first time since entering the house, the potential sucker finally speaks. "A house like this must have an incredible history. If only theses walls could talk," he says with a strange little smile.

That's not all these walls can do…

Marcy blinks owlishly, her fake smile faltering briefly. "Well, yes. The house dates back all the way to the early 1900's, after all."

"I've heard it's haunted."

Hayden's eyes open lazily and she gives the young man a once over. It's hard to tell if the appreciation in her lidded gaze is for the him or the way Dallas pulls her ass to very edge of the countertop do drive into her sloppy cunt at a slightly different angle.

Marcy presses a hand to her chest in an exaggerated show of surprise. "Well, I certainly wouldn't know a thing about that. Of course, you can't put any stock in rumors either." She pauses, running her eyes up and down the potential sucker critically. "You're not one of those ghost hunter scam artists are you? Because preying on stupid people is just not right."

The hypocrisy of the that particular statement is not lost on Violet.

"No, just rumors," he smiles, eyes crinkling in way that makes the young man look less geeky and more attractive.

Marcy's smile returns, shiny and false like everything else in LA, no doubt thankful that the last owners of Murder House fled instead of meeting an untimely demise on the grounds and therefore leaving nothing for her to legally disclose. "Would you like to view the upstairs?"

"No need. I'll take it."

Violet's not sure what to make of Hayden's triumphant grin and resolutely turns away when the brunette begins quaking and crying out from her orgasm. She tells herself that she's not jealous and that her sudden urge to hunt down Tate and get creative with a fire poker has nothing to do with the ache in her gut or the slow simmering in her blood.

 


 

Greg, that's the name of the horror story novelist and new owner of Murder House. Or maybe it's Gary. Violet isn't quite certain and she doesn't really care. Hayden has taken a fancy to the guy and she wishes him all the luck in the world with that particular poltergeist, and a quick death should the disposable cunt decide to keep him around.

Violet would rather him remain alive, he's a smoker with a constant supply of cigarettes and that's makes him okay in her book.

With the exception of Hayden and Moira, the other ghostly residents leave well enough alone. It's always nice to have creature comforts once more; furniture, cable and wi-fi, as well as a stocked pantry and liquor cabinet… and no squalling babies.

That's Violet's personal favorite.

She even has her bedroom back, granted it's now a guest room with a pull out futon instead of an actual bed, but it still makes her happy to have a space to call her own once again.

Some days she shares that space with Tate.

He's not visible, of course. He thinks she doesn't notice, but sometimes she does. She could summon him to her and then make him go away; it would be bratty and would definitely piss him off, but she refrains because it can't be easy for him to be so close to her while knowing he's forced to remain hidden since being there in the flesh would relegate him to an unwanted presence.

Outside of her room, however, Violet is just a whisper. The less interaction she has with her fellow housemates the easier it is to keep the darkness at bay. And if she doesn't feel the need to bleed out then she doesn't have to deal with Tate face to face.

It's a double standard since she haunts Tate throughout the rest of the house, well aware that he'd want nothing more than her company and her attention, but refusing to give him what he craves. The cruel little games she plays with him may not be fair but she figures he can suck it up or go hide away in the basement with the other dead rejects.

It's just one big cycle of solitary confinement, for both of them.

Still, she has her smokes and a futon. It's the simple things she tries to appreciate.

 


 

It's cold, sunny and the perfect day to be outside the dreary bones of Murder House. Violet puffs on her cigarette observing her family; the cheater, the doormat and the poop machine, looking like a fucking Rockwell painting as they spend their afternoon in the Gazebo.

Idly, she tries to remember if she's ever seen her parents that content when they were alive. Maybe, she thinks, when she was Jeffery's age but she can't recall that far back and from her earliest memories Ben and Vivian had always been posers, acting a certain way and expecting the correlating amount of acceptance in return. And that's the difference really, between now and then, because now there are no pretentious peers to judge them by lofty expectations. She hates that they may have actually found a measure of peace in this hell.

Sitting on the low wall, feet kicking back and forth against the bricks, Violet turns her focus inward mucking through the mess of her emotions to figure out what would give her peace. She knows getting touchy-feely with her psycho ex-boyfriend could do the trick, at least temporarily, but she can't bring herself to seek Tate out. She said she'd come to him when she was desperate and she wasn't quite there yet.

Because Violet is not so naïve that she doesn't know where "helping" each other will lead. There's no better aphrodisiac than four years of lonely gratification and a good rough hate-fuck can soothe the madness away just as well as any other type of bloodletting.

Still, the idea of allowing Tate back into her body frightens Violet. For the girl that always prided herself on being fearless and independent, the idea that sex is her Achilles heel is kind of a let down. But how else is she supposed to feel? None of her cruel defenses will hold up once he's inside of her, pressed skin to skin and filling up all of her empty spaces. And she needs that bitterness, she needs to remember that when he closes his eyes just before he cums he might be thinking about Vivian.

A cold knot of feeling settles within her and she lights another cigarette off the glowing cherry of the first before flicking it away, ignoring the traitorous tears slowly slipping from her eyes. Maybe it's the not knowing that makes it worse. She's left to imagine where he touched Vivian and how he moved his body to get them both off. But she's terrified to ask, too afraid that he'll lie, even more scared he'll tell the truth.

A thought, solution, punishment, comes to her in that horrible moment. It's something that's flittered though her musings before but she's never grasped at it, given it its due consideration. It's just a name really, but the implications quickly follow and Violet knows that her spite is great enough to make the attempt.

Tate will hate her. He may even kill her. She might break him, finally. And it's territory that Vivian hasn't been. It's really the only option. With an angry wipe at her eyes, Violet sets off into the house with a new target to stalk.

Hugo Langdon.

 


 

After two mind numbing days of following the elder Langdon around Violet thinks she might have prepared herself for the ordeal she's going to instigate.

To his credit, Hugo is a good looking man for his age. From the sexual exploits she's witnessed him participate in- just in the last forty-eight hours alone- she's confident he'll get her off. And since the thought of letting Hugo fuck her no longer makes her queasy she figures she's as ready as she'll ever be. She's even removed a few layers, wearing only a lose fitting dress and forsaking the usual accompaniment of long sleeves and tights.

It's never hard to track Hugo down, simply follow the sounds of sex or the tinkling of ice in a tumbler.

Violet finds Hugo in the study, slouched in one of the leather chairs with a partially downed scotch in his hand. She guesses it's his favorite room because there's a mini wet bar built into the shelving unit, a new addition from the new owner. She debates having a drink herself but then she'd need a whole bottle because one glass isn't going to make this any easier.

Maybe if she closes her eyes and squeezes them real tight she can pretend he's the Langdon she wants. She wonders if Tate kept his eyes open while fucking Vivian. She promises herself she won't regret the deed when it's done, even if Tate never forgives her. She hopes he's watching. She hopes he's not. She knows that someone is, every fucking wall in the house has eyes.

Violet wills herself visible and instantly she can feel the weight of Hugo's gaze but she keeps her attention focused on the shelf of books, perusing the titles. She's not sure how to go about this. Perhaps if she were sexy like Moira or bold like Elizabeth she could own the moment and play the coy vixen, but that's not in Violet's nature. Suddenly the enormity of what she's about to get herself into hits her, it was a stupid idea and she feels like a foolish little girl.

Violet is just about to disappear when Hugo's voice stops her. "Hey there," he slurs amiably.

She looks over her shoulder and smiles. "Hello Mr. Langdon." He's so close she nearly jumps, not having heard him move and involuntarily she takes a step back, then another and another until the desk is at her back and there's nowhere else to go.

As if a flip is switched, suddenly Hugo is all hands, roughly squeezing and palming her ass with one hand and yanking up her dress with the other.

"Such a pretty little thing," he breathes harshly against her neck. "Come on Sweetheart, I'll make it good for you."

Hugo has pushed her legs apart, the force leaning her back onto the desk's surface, and Violet has to clutch at his shoulders to keep from toppling over. She turns her head away as he starts mouthing her neck, distaste written plainly across her face at the stench of scotch on his breath.

Hugo's hands release their hold to begin fumbling with his belt and Violet's stomach turns, bile rising in the back of her throat. She grits her teeth to keep from screaming in panic because this was what she wanted right? She asked for this. Came looking for it even.

He's hot and hard against the thin protection of her cotton panties and her muscles bunch in preparation to push him away with all the might her little body can muster, but over Hugo's shoulder a flicker of movement catches her eye. Sure enough, there across the room is her audience of one, shaggy blond locks falling over his eyes as he watches from the shadows.

Tate's expression gives nothing away, no emotion, no interest, just his dark eyes fixed pointedly on her as she lets his father violate her.

Violet needs a reaction, even if right now it's just the monster wearing her boy's skin, she needs him to fucking show something. She wants to know this hurts.

Instead of pushing Hugo away, she reaches up and threads her fingers through his hair, scooting her hips closer and offering Tate a mean, teeth-baring smirk. She's got her own demons now and it's time he meets them.

Hugo's touch is unsteady and his motor skills are sluggish as he shoves his hand into her panties probing through her neatly trimmed curls, but she's not wet. Drunken rapists aren't her thing and his clumsy petting leaves more than a little to be desired. She wonders if maybe she should have tried this when Hugo was actually sober.

With a grunt and curse he rips the thin cotton that's in his way and the sound seems to echo though the tense quiet.

Gaze still locked on Tate, Violet barely manages not to wince when Hugo hits his goal, three fingers deep and nothing gentle about it, a small cry escaping her throat as her hips jerk away of their own accord. But Hugo doesn't notice, he's too lost in his own sexual need that he doesn't really care if she's ready or not. He is and he removes his fingers, aiming his dick to take their place.

Tate literally melts into the darkness and before Violet can blink reappears right behind Hugo, swiping the letter opener from the desk and jabbing the blade into his father's neck. Yanking the older man back by his collar, Tate stabs him twice more before leaving the ornate sliver handle protruding from the older Langdon's throat and shoving the body away.

Violet eyes Tate warily as she wipes at the spatter of blood on her face. "Satisfied?"

"Not really."

"Neither am I," she sighs ruefully. "It was just getting good."

"Bullshit," Tate calls her out, but his stoic demeanor is like salt in an open wound.

The sting brings out her claws. "Like you would know."

"Actually, I'm really good at reading you, Vi. You could even say I'm a fucking expert." Finally there's something stirring to life inside him and Violet hopes it's a fury that can match her own. "And right now, you're trying too hard."

"You said I could fuck whomever I wanted, remember?" Of course he remembered. Calling someone's bluff like that is not something done lightly, at least not in a war of submission like this.

"I did say that," he agrees, "And you in turn said you were insulted that I expected you to act this way. Yet here you are about to fuck this piece of shit. That makes you a hypocrite."

"Fuck you!"

"Tell me I'm wrong," Tate breathes leaning in, bracing his palms on the edge of the desk on either side of her thighs. "Come on, lie to me."

There's no point though and they both know it. Violet was never good at acting and Tate may as well be the master of improvisational realities. She should have known better than to try and con a con-artist. But the truth doesn't slake her unstable anger, the madness only burns all the brighter and like a spreading wildfire it ignites her perpetual sexual frustration as well.

"I really fucking hate you," she steams, trying not to squirm.

"You must if you were going to let my dear old Dad use you as cum rag just to piss me off," he smirks, his tone mocking and his glare cold.

She pushes. "Did it work?"

Tate's breath is warm against her lips as he moves in even closer. "I'm tempted to break your neck."

In a way this is a sick kind of foreplay. Violet's entire body is aware of how close Tate is, how easy it would be to hook her legs around his waist and grind her steadily dampening pussy against his crotch, and he'd grind back, she's sure of it. Because she's a slave to her masochistic desires and she wants his hands around her throat so she can wear the pretty bruises he'll leave like a coveted necklace, so she has to finish this game. She won't leave well enough alone, not now.

"Tell me, what gets under your skin more?" she demands, all saccharine laced with cyanide, "Cleaning up the mess after I kill myself, or not being the one to kill me in the first place?"

Tate flinches as if she slapped him. "I would never get off on hurting you," he vows, but the bottomless black of his eyes tells a different, not so tender story.

She pushes a little more. "Even if I ask nicely?"

"Violet…"

A fine trembling ripples through his lanky frame and she hopes it's a sign of his restraint crumbling. She doesn't want the side of Tate that's sweet and protective and eager to please, that's the side of him that possesses the leverage to destroy her. She wants the monster, the voices demand it, need it more than any razor or rope she's ever used.

"You fantasize about making me bleed, don't you?" Her smirk is shrewd, cocky even. "When you're all alone with nothing but your hand, you imagine making me beg for your dick. And once I'm all sticky with blood and jizz, you make me beg for my life, don't you?"

The muscles in his arms are straining, the tendons in his neck are taut and Violet is riding the high of fear, lust and adrenaline; a dangerous drug. She tilts her head enough to rest her lips on his so that they brush as she whispers, "We both know that's what you want. Quit being a pussy."

Tate sucks in a breath and Violet clamps her teeth down on his bottom lip, tasting copper as she slides her tongue over the wound and into his mouth, then quickly pulls it back when his tries to bite down. She's not sure if Tate has ever looked as sexy as he does at that moment, wild-eyed and feral with a torn lip and blood dribbling down his chin. She rubs herself on the hard bulge in his jeans leaving a wet spot on the material and he laughs, low and menacing.

"You want rough, I'll give you rough," he croons, clamping a hand around her throat and shoving her down onto the desk despite the various office supplies that dig painfully into her back. She wiggles and he squeezes hard enough to cut off her air supply. "Don't move unless I tell you to or I will choke you and then fuck you and you'll miss the best part." Violet stills and Tate loosens his grip enough for her to breathe. "Good girl. Now spread your legs."

The air is cool against her hot, damp flesh and the teasing path of Tate's fingertips over her cunt is enough to drive Violet mad. He dips them in, just a little, enough to coat them with her slickness before dragging them back up her slit. Then he pinches her clit and the unexpected pain makes her hips jerk.

"Fuck!" she gasps.

He squeezes her throat again, giving her a jarring shake. "What did I fucking tell you. Don't move."

It doesn't matter though; Violet is so desperate for his touch, his mouth, his cock, anything that will get her to cum and she just might combust if Tate doesn't do something fast. His evil grin tells her the fucker knows it too.

He hooks a hand under her right knee, lifting her leg to rest it over his shoulder as he crouches down, his lips moving to the softness of her inner thigh. She can't lift her head to watch, she can only feel as his breath puffs warm on her skin, moving closer to where she really needs his tongue, his mouth plucking little deceptive kisses, giving no warning when he suddenly bites down drawing blood, then laving the wound with long, broad licks. He bites her again and again, leaving a trail of shallow teeth marks and smeared blood, until he's only centimeters away from where she needs him most.

It's so hard to keep still, even with the threat of his hand around her throat, when Tate's tongue flicks against her clit, a single, slow experimental lick, before his fingers are back and he pinches the sensitive button causing her to hiss. He rises up keeping her leg braced against his chest as his fingers stroke a soothing circle against the stinging bundle of nerves before sliding down and slipping inside of her, thrusting hard and curling slightly as he runs his tongue over his bloody lips. "I almost forgot how good you taste."

"If you go down on me I'll return the favor," she offers breathlessly and can't help but rock her hips against his fingers and moan softly when the pressure on her throat constricts.

"No thanks. I like my dick attached to my body," he chuckles darkly, letting up on her windpipe when she stops moving. He flexes his fingers, teasing that hidden spot, giving her a measure of friction but she's too slick and his movements too slow to give her relief.

"Tate," Violet whines.

Abruptly he pulls his fingers out, leaving her empty and aching, but before she can curse him for stopping he shoves his glistening digits into her mouth forcing her to taste herself.

"Bite me again and I'll leave you here to get yourself off," he warns.

Violet sucks on his fingers like a good little girl, distracting him so she can get a solid grip on the vintage, metal stapler pressing into her spine. It's heavy but she's quick as she swings it with brutal accuracy and Tate doesn't see it coming. There's a sickening thud as he grunts in pain and stumbles back, blindly tripping over Hugo's feet and sprawling out on the floor. Tossing aside the bloodied stapler Violet straddles Tate, plucking at the button to his jeans as he glares up at her, clutching his head.

"Fucking crazy bitch!" he hisses, a trickle of crimson dripping into his pale hair.

"You're taking too long and it's pissing me off," she explains with a touch of mock sympathy, jerking down his zipper and then his jeans just far enough so that she has access to the one part of him she really wants. His thick cock bobs free from the confines of his pants and Violet shifts to take him in but then Tate retaliates and in a flurry of scuffling limbs and bruising hands Violet finds herself face down on the floor, her cheek pressed into the plush area rug, arms painfully pinned beneath her and her ass in the air.

Tate doesn't offer her any warning, no gloating words or snide comebacks, just the sharp, splintering ache as he rams his cock into her, pushing as far as he can go, reminding her that she died a virgin. He feels too big and it hurts but she's so wet it's almost good. His breathing is harsh and choppy, the only sound that fills the charged quiet and she whimpers because it's not enough. She needs it to hurt more, to hurt so much that she'll never want him to touch her again.

If only she was sane like that.

A drop of Tate's blood drips from his chin and stains the rug barely an inch from her face and his body is an uncomfortable weight on her straining shoulder but it's all circumstantial and unimportant when he begins rocking his hips at a demanding pace. She whimpers and wiggles, unsure if she's moving closer or trying to pull away. Not that she can go far with his right hand fisted in her hair to keep her head down and his left restraining her wrists against her abdomen to keep her ass up and canted at the right angle. His complete domination of her body is…

Intense.

Violet remembers telling him once, long ago in another charade, that her first time with him was almost too much for words. Then he'd been gentle, doting and especially careful to make her cum. In the aftermath he'd stroked her arm and gazed up at her with bright, adoring eyes.

Lies, the voices whisper, lies lies lies lies lies!

"Harder," she groans, unable to move back against him in her position, desperate to make the memories of what was precious disappear in a haze of red. "Harder!"

Tate complies and it's a personal testament of love and hate when he gives Violet what she wants. Easily her memories fade because there's nothing remotely tender about this moment, only the most basic sensations.

She's lost to the rug-burns on her knees, their combined sweat causing the bites on her inner thigh to sting, the taste of his blood still on her tongue and his hard length filling her up, each thrust winding up to rip her apart. When the overload of stimulants reach their peak it's not unlike the release she gets when cutting, a rush of endorphins killing the pain as something close to an orgasm takes her. Her breath stutters, her skin goes tingly and her mind shatters as soothing waves of numbness overtake her consciousness.

Violet comes back to herself in degrees. As if from a distance she notes the way Tate lets out a harsh, panting breath, his body trembling as his own orgasm takes hold. Then the pain begins to creep back in, pricks and stings here and there, making their presence known. She can take them for what they are; the price paid for needing the one who ruined her, and she can even ignore the sticky mess that coats her pussy and thighs when Tate pulls out because pleasure is messy business. But when he collapses beside her and pulls her close to nuzzle her ear and place kisses to that sensitive spot right below, it's too sweet to be safe and she struggles against him like a wildcat to escape that pain.

He lets her go with a questioning look. "Vi?"

Hugging her knees to her chest, she tries not to look at him because he's beautiful when he's happily boyish and his blissed out grin and sleepy eyes cut right though her. Panicking, the go away is on the tip of her tongue and the sudden resentment that darkens his peaceful expression stands to prove that he knows it as well.

"Don't bother. I'm going," Tate mutters, lurching to his feet and readjusting his jeans, shoulders slumped at her dismissal.

Violet tells herself he has no right to be wounded by her need for space and that sex changes nothing, but deep down she knows that's not entirely true. She'll always mean everything to him, no matter how little of herself she gives and his passive-aggressive guilt trip brings out her worst.

"I entertain myself by finding new ways to make you miserable and you come back for more like a goddamn kicked puppy. Why?" she asks nastily.

There's no hesitation that comes with a carefully constructed answer. "Because I love you enough to suffer though the bullshit," he replies earnestly, without guile or apology.

"Do you realize how whipped you sound?" Violet scoffs, annoyed that she feels like the bad guy. "You should hate me."

When Tate finally meets her hard stare his dark eyes are resigned and sad. "Lovers and madmen have such seething brains, such shaping fantasies, that apprehend more than cool reason ever comprehends," he counters with a listless shrug.

Violet blinks. "What?"

"It's a quote. Shakespeare knew his shit. Love fucks with your head, it makes you crazy, it doesn't make sense and if it doesn't turn you inside out then it isn't love. Maybe because I was already crazy I can love you better than anyone else could."

It's not what Violet wants to hear but the facts rarely are.

"Tate-"

"I know," he interrupts, "You want me gone." With a last petulant glare cast her way he vanishes.

Violet starts to call Tate back but catches herself because it's better to let him go even though his absence is equally as disconcerting as his presence. She sighs, rubbing her temples and trying to pin point the moment that her plan went wrong. It could have been when Tate passed on the prefect opportunity to kill her this time around, or maybe it was her fault when she begged him to fuck her just to ease the encroaching madness.

For all her stupid planning it's as if their relationship mimics the house itself; a series of possibilities and disappointments stuck on repeat. The only evidence of their transgression is a few new scars, both internal and external.

It makes her wonder how Tate can still love her? It would be so much easier if he would just hate her; because the depressing truth is that his interpretation of love is what destroyed her world to begin with.

On the floor staring sightlessly at Hugo's corpse, sore and sticky and surrounded by the physical wreckage of her failed sexual rebellion, it comes to Violet then, the sneaking little revelation that maintaining the anger and the heartbreak simply for the sake of her pride is exhausting and- in the scope of decades and maybe even centuries- actually kind of pointless. Clinging to her revenge like a well-deserved security blanket can't undo the horror show her afterlife has become, just like it will never help her develop an immunity to Tate's unstable devotion. Placing blame and dealing out punishments is nothing more than taking one step back for every step forward and quickly getting nowhere.

So maybe she's been looking at it wrong all along. If she wants gain some semblance of acceptance then she has to focus on the variables that can be influenced by her actions. She'll have to be her own catalyst for change.

The hard part is figuring out what exactly those interchanging variables are.

 


 

In the listless days that follow Violet is no closer to finding a way to free herself from her rage imposed prison. She holes herself in her room, letting her thoughts run in unintelligible circles until she takes advice from one of Ben's psycho-babble bullshit textbooks and figures it can't hurt to start at the beginning.

And Violet knows the root of her issues, the poisonous seed that began her fascination with pain in all its shapes and forms. Her father's careless affairs and lack of concern for his family. Her mother's need to hold onto a failing marriage by overlooking her child in favor of creating another, one newer and without flaws. Yes, she knows that a big part of her seething anger and discontent comes from their shitty parenting.

So how is she supposed purge the damage they've caused, Violet wonders. She can't change Ben and Vivian, not when they refuse to change themselves. And unfortunately her invisible fall-back crutch doesn't make them go away, they are still glaringly there and oblivious as always.

It turns Violet's stomach to realize that what's done is done. She is the person their selfishness shaped her into. She doesn't know any other way to be. The darkness is too ingrained now, it has become a part of her. Oh the poetic irony that the very darkness they created within her is the one thing that ensures she'll never be like them.

It's a brand of darkness that only Tate can truly understand.

As fucked up as it is, the raging desire to inflict pain that resonates within him is a mirror image to her own. There is a measure of cold comfort in realizing that this is a connection that Tate has never had with Nora or anyone else.

Because this isn't about love or forgiveness. This is about possession. If Tate is going to keep her chained to him with her residual affections then she's going to bind him to her side just as irrevocably with his consuming obsession.

Tate is Violet's beautifully broken boy; not Constance's perfect son, Nora's willing henchman, or Vivian's latex lover. He belongs to her and her alone. She'll carve her name into his skin if she has to, to remind him that from now on she's the only woman in Murder House he'll be aiming to please.

Violet toys with this new perspective, turning it this way and that, pulling it apart and then putting it back together. As the hours turn into days it begins to fit like a new skin, so naturally that she doesn't understand why she didn't see this simple, horrible truth all along.

And when the voices call for blood she spills it from her veins obediently and with a solemnity that merits the occasion because this is the last time Violet will bleed out to center herself.

Tate's blood will suffice from now on.

 


 

As spring begins to drive the winter chill away a frenzy overcomes the ghostly residents of Murder House, but unlike the usual bouts of violence this time it's of a carnal nature. Even a few of the more rarely seen ghosts have roused from their stasis seeking to appease this new desire thrumming through everyone's veins.

Violet pauses in the grand living room, startled by the two ghosts she's never seen before, a man and woman both garbed in strappy shinny S and M bondage gear. The woman is using a whip and with each painful sounding crack against his skin the man moans. Violet can't help but watch for a moment, morbid curiosity getting the better of her.

But a peal of girlish laughter turns her attention to the pair of teenagers playing a frisky game of grope and chase up the main staircase. Violet can count on one hand the number of times she's seen the brother and sister and their incestuous behavior is no longer a surprise. Idly she wonders if maybe that was the reason their mother was driven crazy and poisoned their entire family with cleaning solution.

And it is the same everywhere Violet wanders; Moira and Elizabeth having a threesome with Hugo, Patrick and Chad partially clothed and sweaty in the study, Ben and Vivian trying to vocally out do Travis and Hayden in the upstairs bedrooms. She's almost tempted to seek solace in the basement but then there are things Violet would rather never learn about Charles, Nora or the rest of the basement dwellers.

With a frustrated growl and damp panties Violet seeks refuge in the attic, away from the fuck-fest and it's audio and visual stimulation. Her blood is humming and running hot and she knows what she needs to alleviate the ache that's blooming between her thighs. And she's not sure if she should be thankful or resentful when she finds that Tate has beaten her to the punch, almost as if he were waiting for her.

He's sprawled on the old sofa, the one stored away when the former owners left it behind in their haste to flee, one arm draped negligently across the back while the other rests in his lap as he lazily palms the tight bulge in his jeans. Eyes locked; burning onyx to heavy lidded hazel, Violet moves closer with purpose in every step. There's no point in pretenses, they both know he'll be balls deep inside of her. The only question is who will make the first move.

Shrugging the ratty cardigan off her shoulders, Violet decides that this is the moment of reckoning. She rids herself of the frumpy flower-print dress, letting it fall to the floor with a soft rustle and puff of dust. Wearing nothing but a thin pair of pale blue panties she stops only when her knees bump Tate's, smirking viciously as his eyes roam over her exposed skin, his adam's apple bobbing as he swallows hard.

"Take your clothes off," she demands, her tone husky yet patronizing.

"Yeah, okay." Tate's answering grin is anything but sweet as he stands using the proximity of their bodies and his advantage in height as an intimidation tactic. He makes quick work of his shirt tossing it aside and then his jeans and boxers follow falling around his ankles. He kicks them away along with his converse, arching a blond brow cheekily, "Now what?"

"Seriously?"

When Tate snickers Violet rolls her eyes, sliding her underwear down her slim hips and shimmying until they reach the floor. "I figured the next step was pretty obvious."

"Shit, Vi!" He chokes out a hiss as Violet grips his rigid cock and rakes her nails down its length.

But Violet doesn't want this to be a repeat of the library. She wants to feel Tate this time, to take everything he'll give instead of settling for the cowardly numbness. So she pushes him down onto the sofa and straddles him, letting his hardness nestle itself against her soft, slick folds, but she doesn't take him inside of her yet because she knows it'll be over too quickly. Instead she grips her hands into his damp, flaxen hair and seals her mouth to his.

Their kiss is sloppy, almost frantic and for a second there's pain as his teeth catch her lip. But he just presses harder, the metallic flavor of her blood a turn on for the volatile boy beneath her. In turn his hands grip her small hips leaving marks she'll wear for days, grinding her pussy back and forth as he bucks his hips in need of some kind of friction. The head of his cock hits her clit and as the pleasure tingles up her spine all intentions of savoring the moment are obliterated by the crushing need for release.

Tate groans when she pulls away but it's short lived as Violet raises up enough for his dick to side into position. His lips latch onto a nipple, sucking, teeth scraping and her body reacts of its own accord, her hips slamming down hard taking him deep into her sopping pussy. And it feels so good this time, when she's not keeping her needs at bay, when she's finally able to allow herself to be in the moment and take her pleasure as she will. She sees now that hiding from Tate and everything he makes her feel, good and bad, was not protecting herself, it was succumbing to weakness in the worst way.

And if there is one thing Violet can not tolerate it's weakness, especially in herself.

With every snap of her hips, every tug and nip at her breasts, every upward thrust from Tate, Violet winds tighter only to get that much closer to unraveling. So she grips his hair in her clenched fists, panting and groaning as her body rides wave after wave until it's too much and she breaks first, her orgasm raging under her skin and stealing away her very breath. Tate mutters something unintelligible against her flushed skin and cums barely a thrust later, hips jerking until she milks him dry.

For the first time, since all of Tate's illusions shattered, Violet doesn't pull away. She hates to admit, even to herself, that she's missed this so very much. But the sad truth is that nothing in life or death could hope to affect her as deeply as being this close to Tate with his arms a vice grip around her waist and his face tucked against the crook of her neck.

For a long moment neither of them say anything but the uncertainty is there, she can feel it in the slow tensing of Tate's muscles as he braces himself for her usual rejection. But this time Violet doesn't vanish into nothing or say the hated words to make him leave. She just continues to toy with his hair while relishing the warmth of his sweaty skin.

Eventually the waiting becomes too much. "You're still here," he says, though it's more of a question than an actual statement of fact.

It's the hopefulness in Tate's tone that stings.

"I'm tired of taking the easy way out," Violet says offhandedly, trying to mask the vulnerability of her honesty with nonchalance. "It gets lonely and it's pointless anyway when I'll keep coming back because I still want to be with you even though you'll only hurt me."

Tate huffs an irritated sigh against her throat, annoyed at her pessimistic realism, but Violet has resigned herself to the inevitability of their mutual destruction just as she comforts herself knowing this time she'll cause her fair share of the damage.

Still Tate protests earnestly, "It doesn't have to be that way. We can be like we were before-"

"No!" Shaking her head vehemently, Violet pulls back to look him in the eye. "I'm done with the mind-games. You can't pretend to be normal any more than I can pretend to be nice. All that bullshit before wasn't the real us."

"And this is?" he asks sourly.

It's a loaded question if there ever was one. Tate doesn't have to list every one of their fucked up demons, his point is made with an arched brow an accusatory glare.

"It's a starting point to find out," Violet counters. "And this is what you wanted remember, you give me your worst and I'll give you mine."

There's a softness to his smile, not exactly tender but disarming in its warmth all the same. "So you finally forgive me?"

Violet could say yes but it would be a lie. Acceptance is not the same as forgiveness and their story will never have a happy ending, at least not while they're trapped in this perpetual hell. "Does it matter?" she shrugs.

"I guess not," Tate murmurs, his lips returning to that sensitive spot just blow her ear that he loves to bite. She grits her teeth as warmth begins to pool between her thighs once more and can still feel his cum leaking out even as his cock comes to life still buried inside of her.

Afraid she's making it too easy, Violet pushes his head away roughly and warns, "Just so we're clear, if you stick your dick in any one else ever again I will cut it off and shove it down your throat. Got it?"

Barking out a manic laugh, Tate flips Violet over, knocking her head against the armrest and pinning her beneath him. "I told you before you're the only one I really want." As if to give physical proof to his words he trails his mouth down her to her shoulder, scraping lips, teeth and tongue over her pale skin and Violet can't stop her grunt of disappointment as he shifts lower and his stiff length slips from inside her only amplifying the ache between her thighs. He sucks a nipple into his mouth, sucking gently then biting down hard enough to slightly break the skin.

Violet's hips buck and Tate grins, "Sometimes when I off one those sorry fucks around here, all that blood," he pauses to lick at the tiny drops of crimson on her breast, "it makes me hard and then I jerk off thinking about you. How tight and wet you get, all slippery and warm."

Tate's fingers slide home, long and curling upward to reach that spot that gets her going every time. Violet gasps when he plunges them deeper then groans when his mouth leaves a nice bruise shaped like his teeth on her abdomen before moving right to where she wants it most, latching onto her clit. She spreads her legs so wide her thigh muscles tremble in protest and her breath catches as Tate runs his tongue up and down her slit in broad licks, each one hitting that little bundle of nerves and she claws her nails into the grungy sofa cushion trying to remember to breathe. He's merciless in is assault and isn't long before Violet comes apart, her back arching as her breathless cry echoes through the dusty attic.

Licking his lips, Tate looks up from between her legs and smirks. "I fucking love you."

Violet rolls her eyes but there is the faintest hint of a smile tugging at her lips. "Sappy fucker."

"Maybe," Tate agrees, hooking is hands behind her knees and pulling her ass to the edge of the couch. With no preamble he thrusts his cock into her, sliding fast and hard into her dripping pussy. She expects him to move, wants him to, needs him to, but he keeps still and using his leverage keeps her immobile as well. "I need to hear you say it," he groans.

Violet glares.

"Say it, Vi."

Violet is not sure she'll ever be able to say those three little words without feeling an equal amount of resentment churning in her gut, but she'll give in right now and tell Tate what he wants to hear because she wants to get off. And later when she uses her razor on his skin she will carve those words ever so carefully into his flesh and he'll understand that there is always a price for getting what you want.

They'll give a whole new meaning to 'give and take'.

"Fine," she huffs, raking her nails down his sides, earning a hiss and jerk of his hips, "I love you too."