Point of View
6 months earlier
Any time now.
He wiped his sodden hand on the dish towel draped carefully over his shoulder, being sure to keep busy. If all went well, they would never know of his involvement. It wouldn't be hard. They would be far too deep in their grief over their second missing son and he would just slip away to his new prize possession.
He had meticulously planned every second of this day. Oliver would leave soon after dinner, excusing himself from the idle conversation as he usually did. The drugs James had mixed into the young scientists tea would be taking effect anytime now, leaving him defenseless and primed for taking.
The butler hovered on the edge of the living area, half listening to the hushed voices of Martin and Lin talking business on the long couch. Luella sat opposite of them, her lip caught between her teeth as she delicately swirled her wine in its glass. He fought off a grin at the thought of seeing her tear stained face, those stunning violet eyes bright with grief and instead crossed the room with a humble smile. "Can I get you a fresh glass?"
Luella jumped, nearly spilling the remains of her wine onto her dress. She had been so entranced in her own thoughts that she hadn't even noticed the young elegantly dressed man offering his hand to her. "Oh, James. You startled me." She forced a short laugh and handed him her glass. "A cup of tea sounds lovely, dear. Thank you."
He smiled and nodded, turning back toward the kitchen.
"Wait – James?" He turned back to her, biting back a chuckle. This was it, the beginning of the end. He knew what she would ask. "Have you seen Oliver?"
He shook his head. "Not since supper."
"I see. Thank you."
The worry was evident in the down turn of her lips and the slope of her shoulders. He wondered how long it would take for reality to set in; when would she realize Oliver wasn't coming home? Excitement bubbled in his chest. It wouldn't be long now.
That was when the door opened. The sound of the heavy wood smacking into the wall echoed through the mansion.
"Luella?" A voice slurred from the entryway. James' heart stuttered. It couldn't be... this wasn't supposed to happen, not like this. He couldn't afford any failure. James stiffened his shoulders, forcing a confused expression as he turned back to the three adults who sat frozen in their seats, dazed as another crash sounded. Then there was the sound of shattering glass. "Mum?"
"Oliver?" Luella lunged from her chair, practically flying into the foyer. "Oliver!" She gasped, a hand fluttering to her mouth.
James tried not to look as angry as he felt as he followed her into the entryway.
The sight of Oliver's limp body drawn out across the floor surrounded by a sea of broken glass and rose pedals was... a true work of art. No brush, no canvas could ever duplicate the beauty of this mistake; this moment. A shiver ran the length of his spine as blood from shallow cuts on his victims hands mingled with the water from the broken vase, creating a dark pink cloud, almost like a halo around his body. It was divine.
Until she ruined it. Luella Davis flitted through the hall, dropping to her knees beside her unresponsive son. She sloshes through the blood puddle and scattered the roses across the rest of the foyer, destroying it.
James shouts in his rage, tearing the paper in two until it's nothing more than useless confetti covering the concrete floor. He jams a hand through his short blonde hair and falls back onto the thin cot that was supposed to pass as a bed. If everything had gone according to plan the first time... he wouldn't be rotting in this God forsaken cell.
But if he had succeeded... James groans, resting his head against the cool concrete wall. If he had succeeded, he never would have met her.
And God, was she worth it.
Noll drifts slowly back into consciousness, feeling as if he has been asleep for years rather than minutes as reality chases away the last lingering remnants of a dream he can't recall. He cautiously peeks through his eyelashes, wondering what exactly had woken him up. The room is dark save for the dim yellow light coming from overhead and the sun is noticeably absent from the blackened windows; it must have been late. It takes another moment before he registers the warmth of something pressing gently against his throbbing shoulder and contemplates it through half-lidded eyes, unwilling to move just yet.
Could it be a cat? No, he didn't have a cat...
"Noll, sweetheart," Luella's soft, motherly voice breaks through the last of his sleepy haze. He looks up, wincing at the aching pain in his neck as his deep blue eyes meets her familiar violet ones. She smiles, "It's time to get up."
He nods, hearing her words but not quite ready to put in the effort to sit up. Sometime during his slumber he must have turned over onto his stomach, nearly tumbling to the floor in the process. One of his knees rests on the carpeted floor, possibly the only thing keeping him from falling off entirely as one of his arm's follows suit. It hangs precariously off the edge, his fingers grazing the floor while the other is folded under his head, posing as a make-shift pillow.
He scrambles to sit up, feeling Luella's warm hand leave his back as he moves.
"I don't..." I don't remember falling asleep, he wants to say, but stops himself. It doesn't matter in the long run and he really doesn't need Luella worrying about his lapses in memory any more than she already does. He blinks for a long moment, feeling the soothing whisper of sleep threatening to drag him back to the world of dreams when he hears the unmistakable chatter of his team. Their voices bounce through the hallway, simultaneously inviting him into the conversation and shutting him out.
It's been like this ever since they arrived in England. Noll somehow manages to avoid their company, whether out out of nervousness or guilt, he isn't sure, and none of his former friends acknowledges his existence. From time to time, Luella and Martin forbid their son from skipping dinner and force him to sit at the table with the others for a very uncomfortable amount of time. In times like these, his crew was more than happy to just outright ignore his presence. That was just how it went.
They blame him.
Noll runs a hand over his face to hid the tension creeping back into his chest, then he rolls his shoulder to coax some feeling back into it. "What time is it?"
"Quarter until nine," she started, picking up one of the pillows that had fallen to the floor. When she doesn't say anything else but just looms above him looking uncomfortable, Noll looks up at her expectantly. "...Doctor Arainn called. You missed your session."
"I did?" Noll sighs and runs a hand through his hair, kicking off the rest of the blanket he doesn't remember having. He slips his phone out of his pocket with deft fingers, flipping it open. The whole blue screen lit up with notifications, he scrolled through them.
One is a snooze alert for the alarm he had set so he never misses a session. With a disappointed click he deletes the message and turns his attention to the call list.
13 missed calls, it says; from Luella
It was no wonder his mother-figure seems so frazzled. Considering the events of the past 6 months, he can help but feel guilty about worrying her unnecessarily. She probably had a heart attack when he didn't pick up. "Shimatta. I'm sorry, Luella." The apology sounds forced and awkward on his tongue, but it isn't as if he doesn't mean it. That is perhaps the most difficult part about it. "It was on silent."
She glances over him, reaching out to smooth down a lock of his hair that refuses to lay flat. "It's okay, sweetheart."
Noll jumps to his feet in momentary panic. His heart thrums in his chest as he watches the tall, dark-haired man straighten from his place leaning against the entryway and cross the space between them. His face is kind; dark green eyes crinkle around the edges as he offers the pair a disarming smile. The teen studies him, crossing his arms over his chest. Why did he look so familiar? "Who are you?"
Luella never loses her smile as she takes a step back and gestures him forward. "This is Doctor Arainn's husbandー"
"Doctor August Arainn," the man says, offering his hand, "It's nice to see you again, kid."
Again? Noll tries not to focus on the pet-name too hard as he considered the doctor's hand. "You're a therapist, too?"
"Something of the sort."
When Noll felt his skin make contact, instinct took over. He stilled, waiting to be dragged under by the pull of his psychometry, his breath froze in his lungs hoping to stay off the wave of nausea – but all that came was the pressing warmth of the doctors' hand. Noll blinks, staring blankly at the offending hand until he hears the older man's knowing laugh.
"Psychometry only works if you allow it to work. I thought you knew that."
"I did." Noll huffs, taking back his hand. He knows very well that it is possible to control his psychometry but he has only ever succeeded in pulling himself out of the vision, not avoiding them. He crosses his arms. "Why are you here?"
Luella smacks her son's arm, "Manners, Noll." She warms, then turns a smile to August. "I'll leave you two to talk but please, don't be afraid to stop by more often."
"Of course, thank you, Luella. And tell Martin good luck on his project." When she is safely out of earshot, August gestures to the couch. "Shall we?"
Noll sits on the other end of the couch, leaning forward to rest his forearms on his thighs. Every sense is on full alert as he eyes the doctor, unable, or perhaps unwilling to let down his guard. The memories of what happened the last time he did that are still so fresh in his mind it makes his ribs ache.
August leans back on the couch, a sharp contrast to the teen's rigid, closed posture, and crosses his legs. He studies Noll with trained green eyes, "I would say I'm sorry for your loss but I'm sure you're sick of hearing it."
He remembers now. Flashes of memories from his childhood with this man sitting before him, urging him to sleep with a soft, melodic voice. It was irresistible. Noll fights the urge to grab the nearest weapon. He doesn't remember why exactly this man had been hypnotizing him, only that it had something to do with his brother. "You're a hypnotist." He can feel his nose crinkle in disgust at the word.
"I prefer behaviorist, but yes." A smile graces August's face, "you remember."
"Only pieces." Noll swallows, turning his dark gaze to his guest to repeat his question, "Why are you here?"
"Mara – my wife – was worried when you didn't show for your session." The doctor casts the teen a side-long glance, laughing as he says, "she is not a happy-camper right now."
Noll laces his fingers together in front of him, sucking in a deep calming breath. Then he closes his eyes and blows out the air in an irritated huff. "And you came to check-up on me."
August doesn't answer right away. He considers the boy's rumpled clothes, pale skin and tired eyes, trying to keep the worry out of his voice. "He's in your head, isn't he? Dumont."
Noll's head jerks up, startled. His dark blue eyes pierced the doctor as he fights the urge to increase the space between them. "How do you–?"
"You look like shit, Olly." August leans forward, mirroring the teen's posture, "It doesn't take a therapist to see he's gotten to you."
Noll avoids his gaze, snatching the last mint chocolate bar off the coffee table. "I'm fine."
August watches him; studying him. It was subtle, maybe in the way the proud teens shoulders hunched just a little too much, or the nervous tap of his feet but the longer he sits, coaxing what might pass as a conversation out of the boy, the more obvious it becomes. Oliver is the exact opposite of 'fine'. "I read the case reports, Olly. I know what happened." he found himself saying. Noll froze. "You don't just get over something like that."
He is met with ringing silence.
Noll's heart feels like it's attempting to break out of his chest. He isn't ready for this. He isn't ready for any of this.
Panic rises in his chest and once again he could feel the ghost of cold metal encircling his wrists; the biting cold of the basement floor.
Sometimes... Part of him was still in chains.
When it becomes obvious that Noll isn't about to answer him, August claps his hands together. "I'd better go before Mara blow a gasket." He sighs as he pushes himself to his feet, surprised when Noll follows his lead.
Noll nods, raking a hand through his hair, making it stick up in the back again. "I'll reschedule the session."
"Listen, Oliver," August lays a hand on the teen's shoulder. Noll stiffens on instinct, expecting his abilities to spike, then he sags in relief. "If you need anything, anything, call me."
Noll doesn't feel the need to answer, remaining silence as he leads the doctor through the hall to the front door. Then a thought hits him. "Can you tell me something?"
August doesn't look surprised as he says, "It's about before, isn't it?"
"You hypnotized me," Noll says it as fact, finding a only nod as August's reply. "Why?"
"You were having nightmares; refusing to speak, refusing to eat. It was only natural that your parents call me in."
Noll tilts his head so his bangs shade his eyes. His chest aches but he needed to know. "Where they aboutー?"
"If I said yes," August interrupts, dark eyes shining, "would it change anything, Olly?"
Noll grips the door handle harder, knuckles turning white. He shakes his head. "No, it wouldn't. Goodnight, Doctor."
"Take care of yourself."