The Asylum

By Kat Reitz and tzigane

They said that the place was haunted.

Of course they did.

That was what everyone said about beautiful white houses settled prettily on a hillside, vast columns rising up from the wide porch with its snowy wicker rockers, the pretty black-painted wrought iron that framed the small balcony on the second floor. It was truly gorgeous, a rhapsody for the eyes with its brilliant ginkgo trees that flamed yellow in the fall and the rambling red roses that gleamed brightly all spring long. Anyone who saw it had to love it...

Up until they got close to it, that was.

From the road, it was just what it appeared to be -- beautiful, simple, a perfect paradigm of Southern interpretation of Greek architecture. From the road, the roses made one smile, the trees and surrounding shrubbery highlighted the grounds and the smaller house that rested off to the side, appearing to be a guest house, perhaps, or servants' quarters.

From the road, you couldn't see the white iron bars carefully placed on the lattice work of the windows, hidden from sight. You couldn't see the finger marks upon the window sills or the scraped metal of the radiators that seemed so innocently housed beneath warm, wooden barriers that should have kept them from being touched.

From the road....

From the road, you'd never know what had taken place at all.

The caretaker was, as most caretakers are, a man of solitude who would only appear when an eave was hanging too low, or a rain gutter was overflowing, or the grass began to look like a small subtropical jungle. Beyond those brief, efficient appearances, he disappeared into his little house, and did who knew what behind pulled blinds.

It was the tightly pulled blinds, the closed up look of the place that added to the creepiness. It was bad enough on its own; looming over the small neighborhood, adding its heavy, dangerous weight to the atmosphere accompanied by small whispers. They were heavy breaths batted back and forth, denied by adults during the daylight, but if one was quite... if one was ever so quiet...

Sometimes, during the evening hours, they spoke of it. The man who'd killed his wife and four children, only one escaping through a back window. A woman who'd poisoned her lover because she'd believed that he was some sort of sorcerer out to get her. The boy who sat and keened and cried at the moon and would only eat meat, and only raw.

The adults knew, of course. They knew the history of the place, they knew the gruesome stories, they knew all of the things that made one's skin shudder at night.

They knew the caretaker, too, and they nodded at him when they saw him. Sometimes, he saw them and nodded in return. Sometimes, he did not.

The local teenagers claimed that he had been one of 'them', of course... one of the madmen who'd been locked in those rooms, a megalomaniac, perhaps, or a sadist, or some other equally terrifying creature. It was a wonderful story to tell new people, of course, and a boy so recently moved onto the street provided apt ears for their tales.

They had spun the stories lightly at first, delectable hints of ideas and horrors -- best left unmentioned, of course, after hinting enough polite vagueness to make what one's imagination could stir up so much more gruesome than the sick realities. The Caretaker was one of them, or perhaps he was the old head of the hospital, gone mad himself with the closing of the place. Left with the watching of the grounds until the city reclaimed it for another project, or the historical society made it into a museum. Petty recompense for a jobless madman.

And where else did he belong but on the grounds of a defunct institution?

That was only one rumor, of course, and the children had been most boredly lingering in their backyards, gazing down at the pretty-seeming building as they talked.

The newest boy was one of great curiosity; ghosts, of course, terrified him, that went without saying. He was Asian, and there was nothing more terrifying than Oriental ghosts and ghouls. Madmen, however, bothered him not in the least, and he told them as much, sneering at their goosebumps when they weren't actually looking. The stories were captivating, mind... but none of them could hold a candle to a Chinese ghost or to a spirit-eating gaki.

His name was Naoe Nagi, and one of the other boys laughed at him when he told them as much.

"I dare you to go and knock on the door," one of the other boys said, and so he simply shrugged and began the trek across the grass, grown slightly brown with oncoming fall. It was still daylight, but the sun was shining against the back of the Caretaker's simple brick house; so when he crossed to the front, and edged up towards the dirty white door and the equally aged awning, the shadow of shade swallowed him whole.

It made shivers ripple down his spine for just a moment. He was a brave boy, but the nearness of the Asylum after all of those stories *still* made him a bit nervous, even if he didn't believe in that sort of thing. With careful tread, he crossed the small wooden porch and took a deep breath before knocking on the door.

That rap of knuckles sent the other boys scattering from their observation post nearby to run further down the street to their own houses. Never mind that most of them were old enough to drive; apparently, none of them had the simple bravery required to knock upon a man's door.

It opened after a pause that was so lingering that Nagi doubted that there was anyone at all. Locks could be heard being flipped, and a smooth voice called from within, "Yes?"

And then the door creaked open just a crack, not even enough to see a sliver of the caretaker.

"I got dared to knock," he admitted blandly, expression blank as he looked through that tiny crack. It was dark in there. He wondered why. "So I did."

"I gathered as much," a voice drawled, seemingly unoffended by the idea. "Would you like to come in? You can probably scream a bit if you like, then leave through the back door." The front door opened more, to reveal a rather handsome man, dressed plainly, with a hand shielding his eyes.

"All right," the boy agreed, taking a calculated risk and stepping inside. It was dark in there, almost too dark to see, and he supposed that it might be dangerous. He wasn't really worried about it, though. Rumor, after all, was only that. Just rumor.

The door closed behind him, eerily loud in the small house. There were windows along the wall, but they were all tightly shuttered, letting in only the dimmest glow of the fading sun. "Why don't you sit down? I'll get you a glass of juice." The man turned away smoothly, after pointing Nagi towards a small kitchen table. "You look new to the area -- I certainly haven't seen you lurking around before now."

"We moved," Nagi said easily, tilting his head to the side and looking around, becoming accustomed to the darkness slowly. "Only last month. I think the children here are..." Peasants? Twits? Mad little brats? "Pathetic," he decided on politely. "Shall I scream now? I'd like to have some juice."

"You can scream whenever you like. I'm sure your fellow children will panic." Droll-sounding words from the man who was pulling a carton of orange juice from his refrigerator. Even that failed to cast much light, since one of the two light-bulbs had been removed, and the second had been replaced with a blue bulb.

"It's interesting, to see a refrigerator in blue..." Nagi said slowly, walking towards a window. He could hear movement outside, and knew that they were close, and listening. "Wh-what are you doing? Oh, God, no!" he wailed, and then let out a high-pitched cry that sent the eavesdroppers scattering noisily away from the house.

He couldn't help laughing at them.

"You're obviously braver than they are, since you worked up the courage to knock. I still don't understand why they take such delight in frightening themselves over nothing." The glass was offered to Nagi smoothly, refrigerator door closed after the caretaker had poured himself a glass, too.

"It's like watching a horror movie, I suppose. For the sake of the goosebumps you get," Nagi decided, reaching for the glass and taking it easily, sipping from it with no fear.

"Aah." There was no reason to fear it, it seemed, since the man was also starting to sip from his own glass, and both had been poured in almost one smooth motion. "Still, it's absurd that they do this -- as absurd as if someone were lurking around your house to do the same."

Slim shoulders shrugged. "They have in other places," he said coolly, looking at the other man with challenge. "It happens when you're queer sometimes."

"Now I wonder if you mean queer as in strange, or queer as in gay." That challenge was taken, lightly, and uncaringly as the Caretaker slid into a chair across from the boy.

That shrug came again. "Gay. Very gay. It's the reason we moved. I'm not supposed to mention it, or tell the truth about it. My family..." Here, he gave a slight sneer. "...they don't want that sort of trouble again."

"Then they should have chosen a less... posh neighborhood," the caretaker murmured. "I may as well introduce myself -- I'm Treize Khushrenada, and I'm obviously the caretaker for these grounds. Your name is...?"

"Nagi," the boy murmured, bright blue eyes turning upwards to meet those of the man. "They say you're one of them. The mad ones."

"Now if I were insane, do you really think I'd be entrusted with such a historical site?" There was amusement dancing in cornflower blue eyes, around the rims of dilated pupils.

"No," Nagi decided flatly. "But if there wasn't something wrong with you, the others wouldn't be so determined there was, either. They realize something is wrong with me, too. They just don't understand what it is yet."

"There is something wrong with me," the man said agreeably enough. "I used to be a surgeon in the institution, and then my eyes failed me."

"Oh. So that's why you're in the dark." The juice was good as he sipped from it again, a bit thirsty now. "That's a good explanation."

"I simply can't see when it's light. So I suppose you're right -- there is something... queer about me." His was almost smirking, mouth curling up comfortably at one edge as he looked at Nagi.

"Oh. Ohhhhh," Nagi said, nodding slowly. "I see. Well. I suppose it's nice not to be alone in it, here."

"As pleasant as it is to have company after... so very long." He toyed with his juice glass a little, rolled between his fingers idly now that he'd drained it. His hands were long-fingered, agile things certainly made for surgery.

"Mmmm," Nagi said vaguely, drinking the last of his own. "I like you," he decided. It was a nebulous sort of feeling, but it was certainly there. He *did* like the man. He was nice, and strange, and had a sense of humor. That was something of a relief.

"Aah? You've only just met me, after all." He glanced towards the window, and its tightly pulled blinds. "Then again, you're probably known your peers outside for longer, and look at how rotten they are."

"Yes," Nagi agreed. "I didn't say I loved you, after all. That would be ridiculous, wouldn't it? But I like you. You seem... interesting."

"I don't believe I've been called interesting in a very long time." He seemed agreeable with it, though, and he stood to stride back to the refrigerator for more juice. "How do you like living in this area, so far? Aside from very little."

"The Asylum," Nagi said decisively. "It's deceptive. It seems pretty, and yet there's a certain threat there. The latticework is covered by white iron bars. It's deceitful. Far away, it looks nice, and then up close, you can see the bars on the windows."

"Much in life is like that," the caretaker mused, walking back to the table with the carton in hand this time. He offered with a gesture to add more juice to Nagi's glass. "From the road, you'd never know with a glance that there are parts of it that are rotting."

"If it's a historical site, why do they let it rot?" Nagi asked, nodding in thanks for the juice. "Why not give tours at Halloween or something to offset costs?"

"They're trying -- but there's a mile of red tape, and no one wants to put up money for anything past bare maintenance until some foundation forms for it." Treize shrugged then, "And I lack the resources to move things along."

"Oh." Quiet reigned for some time as they finished off their juice. "I suppose I should go now," Nagi said finally. "Do you mind having visitors? I'd like to see the place."

"If you come back tomorrow, a little past sunset, I could give you a tour," Treize remarked warmly. "It might take a little of the mystery away, but it's a beautiful place."

"I don't mind the loss of mystery for beauty," Nagi decided firmly. "I'll come back."

"Well, then I suppose you'll want out." Treize stood smoothly, offering a hand to Nagi lightly. His wrist, on further inspection, looked ever so faintly limp. "A pleasure to meet you."

"And you," Nagi returned smoothly, taking it. For a moment, he hesitated, held it close, and then he pulled away from the ginger-haired man. "I'll see you tomorrow, then."

"Yes." A pleasantly purred word, and then the front door cracked open again. Treize was already bringing a hand up to shield his eyes as he opened the door for Nagi. "Tomorrow."

Dusk was a lovely time of day, one of Nagi's favorite, truth be told. He preferred night to day, and the transition from horrible brightness to star-glittering dark was pleasant for him. It was especially pleasant since he was going to get a tour of the Asylum that evening.

With an almost careless movement, he hurried up the steps of the caretaker's small cottage and rapped on the door with quick, precise knocks.

Silence, and then there was a foot-fall -- from behind him. "I was already waiting for you," the caretaker announced, twisting his fingers on the handle of the shovel he had slung over one shoulder.

"Still. Knocking is polite," Nagi decided, turning to look at him. "I didn't see you outside. What's the shovel for?"

"I'm planning on planting a few seedling trees tonight," Treize murmured lightly, gesturing to the wheel-barrow that bore the lightly-leafed things.

"Oh," Nagi said. "I'll help for a bit, if you're in need."

"No, it's easily enough done -- I'll show you around the institution first," Treize declared airily, turning from the wheelbarrow. "I have all night to do it, after all."

"So why do you go about in the dark so much? Have you got that vampire disease? The one where your skin crackles if UV rays hit it?" the boy asked, face deigning to register a slight curiosity.

"No," he smiled sadly, as they started to walk down the slope that would curve back up to the Asylum. "I simply can't see in daylight any longer."

"So there's something wrong with your eyes," Nagi said as they walked up the hill towards the huge white mansion with its white columns and wide porches.

"That's right. And there's nothing that can be done for it -- I'm blind to light." He could be heard sighing as he brushed past a slightly errant bush. "Something like that takes the wind out of a medical career. I couldn't see to treat the patients here..."

"You were a doctor, then, and not a patient." It wasn't a question; it was more of a statement, really. "That makes more sense, though it doesn't explain why you're a caretaker now. Interesting change of career."

"Necessary," Treize murmured with an almost tired shrug. "What good is a doctor who can't see in light?"

"Not much," Nagi replied with a shrug. "I'd have just thought that you might have preferred some form of office work to bushes and trees. Something where you might see other people."

"I attempted it," he said agreeably enough. "Only offices tend to have lights, which take my sight from me. Even jobs after dark are carried out in lit buildings."

"Ah," the boy nodded agreeably. "So, the Asylum is a better place for you."

"I can work when I see -- the state was kind enough to leave me that option when they closed this place down." He tossed his shovel towards a spot that he'd seemed to have marked earlier with loosened earth.

"The others said you were a madman who'd been here so long that you were probably ancient and just dyed your hair. They said you come out at night just to hunt down people who dare come onto your property." Nagi snorted. "The locals don't have much by way of brains."

"I'm only thirty five," he sighed with mild sadness. "The locals should pull their heads out of their asses."

"I doubt *that* will happen anytime soon," Nagi replied as they neared the huge white building. "How many patients did this house?"

"When I started to work here, two hundred," the caretaker informed lightly. "Which is a great number, you can imagine. Most of them were moved to the new facility."

"The one four hours south of here, then?" Nagi paused as Treize opened the door. "I've seen it, once. It's not as nice. My friend is there. He believes he can see the future."

"I'm sorry to hear about your friend," Treize murmured sincerely enough as he stepped aside to let Nagi enter the silent halls before him. "It's always sad to see what peoples lives were before they come to a place like this..."

"Oh, the sad thing is that he's right so often," Nagi dismissed quietly. "It could be worse, at any rate. At least it's quiet there. It would be better if it were someplace nice like this, though." His eyes roamed about in the darkness, missing the sight of peeling paint, his ears ignoring the crunch of it on the floor beneath his feet.

"When it was fully functioning, it was much nicer," his guide sighed. "The paint was always crisp, the grounds were immaculate, bustling with life..."

"What are the rooms like?" Nagi asked, curiosity overwhelming him. "They seem nice from outside, if you don't notice the bars..."

"Likely nicer than what they have at the new one," Treize sniffed in vague disdain, as he started up a rather elegant staircase.

"This is like something out of those old movies about the South," the boy murmured, following him slowly up the stairs. It was a bit creepy, admittedly, the wood accents very dark, dust hanging visibly off of the chandelier that stood in the center of the ceiling above the stairwell despite the darkness, but still.


"Don't expect Scarlet o'Hara to come tripping down the stairs." Treize's hand left fingerprints on the banister, though there were places where the dust had been swept off onto the floor. "It would be easier to clean in here, of course, if there was electricity running to the building proper."

"Looks like all it needs would be a good broom and cloth," Nagi murmured as they reached the landing. He glanced across the way and noticed an upper story window that was partially open, just at the top. "Do you leave windows open often?"

"No," Treize murmured, starting towards it. "Sometimes, they just gust open. Or your peers break in and have sex in the middle of the hall because it's 'cool'."

The gleam in the boy's eyes was undeniable. "Well, it would be, I suppose," he said thoughtfully, moving closer to the open window. There was a railing outside, white-painted steel like the others, and a very small not-quite balcony. "Even I think so."

Treize chuckled softly as he moved up behind Nagi to close the window. "Oh, you do?"

"Yes," he said faintly, the man's arms around him pushing the window down. "Yes. I do."

The window slid into place with a snap that seemed to resonate in the air. "And why would you say that?"

"It's a forbidden place," Nagi whispered. "Like your parents' bed, or the back of a car in the middle of a fireworks display surrounded by a couple of thousand people..."

"I myself would much rather prefer the back of the car," Treize drawled, hands still on either side of Nagi as if he were holding the window closed. "Though there's a few places here that don't have the... dust problem."

"Oh?" It was a whisper of interest, bright eyes gleaming up at him. The boy's chest was rising and falling a bit more quickly, mouth trembling with want. Sex in a closed mental institution, fucking a man he barely knew... It sounded absolutely *glorious*. It was imperative that he take up the offer. He couldn't ignore it. "That could be... very nice," he murmured.

"It could be... if you wished for it to happen." The caretaker leaned nearer to Nagi, head bent downwards ever so slightly -- enough to wash a whisper of warm breath over the side of his neck.

The boy tilted his head to the side, gooseflesh rising in response to that breath as his own tongue darted out, moistened his lips. "Yes." That was his answer, a single word, but oh so true. Yes. *Yes*.

A kiss to those moist lips first, light and taunting, and not at all the sort of abruptness that Nagi wanted. It seemed as if the meeting would begin innocently, until the arms on either side of him slipped nearer, and then tightened abruptly, forcing him to turn around.

It made him breathless with lust, and he gave in easily, back pressed up against the cool glass as he lifted his face as if to ask for more. "Oh..."

A kiss smothered roughly in the caretaker's mouth. Pressed so tight against him, there seemed nothing at all wrong with the man -- firm, warm body, skillful mouth, fingers and hands that were dragging him away from that glass, pulling him back out into the hallway.

It was easy to go with him, the utter silence broken only by their footsteps. He barely knew the man and yet... And yet. It felt so good, that hand at the small of his back, the one clutching at his wrist. It made him want more. It made him want...

He was dragged into a small room, and halfway tossed down onto a squeaking mattress. The caretaker wasted no time in pulling off clothes, opening the buttons of his shirt and unzipping his pants before he fell upon Nagi.

"Yes..." He was still sure, still knew what he wanted. The man was pressed against his inner thigh, and Nagi shivered at the feel of him. His hand snuck down slowly between them, caressing the hardness there as he drew in a shaky breath. This was better than fantasy, the way the man was treating him, and he liked him. That was more than enough.

More of those caught breaths were drawn out of him, kisses and bites running down the long line of his neck as one of the caretaker's hands plied at his shirt's hem. Fingers knotted in the fabric, knuckles rasping over the skin of his soft belly before Treize pulled it up over his head. "We could be caught by your peers -- does that excite you?" he husked as the shift came up over Nagi's head, mussing his soft-looking hair.

"Yes." It seemed that was the only word Nagi knew, but he leaned up and captured Treize's mouth. "Yes. And what if they watched...?" It made him shiver, shudder to think of at all. Eyes on him, on both of them, Treize half undressed already and his own upper body completely bare.

He wanted very badly to be naked.

"I wouldn't stop." Hands dove into his pants, but didn't pull them off yet. One hand -- surgeon's fingers, deft and lean -- forced beneath the band of Nagi's jeans, beneath the edge of his underwear, forcing the fabric to scrape over his hips before that warm hand closed around his cock.

"God!" It was a short, sharp gasp, Nagi's body trying to lift up from the mattress in response. He was stopped by Treize over him, and so instead, he dropped his head back, offering the older man his throat. "Fuck..."

"Soon." A throaty promise as his hand wrapped and squeezed roughly, milking Nagi's erection for a moment before the pressure of wrist against waistband popped open the button and sent the zipper down. Then they were pulled and pushed down from his hips, and Treize shifted down to rest over Nagi on his knees so that both hands could touch and maul.

It felt so good, so good, those fingers stroking over him, finding sensitive places Nagi wasn't even certain he had. It had been so long since anyone had touched him like this, and he groaned, lifting his hands up over his head for the moment. He liked this, this feeling of being overtaken, of being close and naked and *forbidden*, something that shouldn't be.

He shouldn't be laying beneath a man he'd just met, splayed as he was, eager and nigh on begging to be fucked. He shouldn't be in the institution, a decrepit, beautiful place that was so open and accessible... Fingers slid along the cleft of his ass, pressed themselves between firm cheeks, and sought the hole between them.

A sharp, gasping moan fell from his lips as they pierced him achingly, making him cry out. It felt as if it had been forever since anyone touched him that way, and it made him bring his legs up to clutch tightly at the other man with them. "Fuck! Yes!"

"You've done this before? Good," the caretaker purred, as he twisted that dry finger just ever so slightly within Nagi. "I don't want to have to be careful."

"Oh, God..." Just the words were enough to create a frantic sort of need deep in the boy beneath him. Yes, he'd done it before, yes, he didn't care if the man was careful. "Yes, God, please, just fuck me!"

The hand that had been milking and stroking at his cock stopped, lifted and disappeared from touching Nagi. He could hear Treize spit, preparing himself apparently, and the finger within him twisted more in weak preparation.

It would hurt. It would hurt, and he wouldn't care, he'd only be glad to be full. There was something wonderfully wrong about all of this. Nagi reached up, pulled the other man down and kissed him hard, bruisingly. "Mmmm..."

His eagerness only sped up the process, conveyed that he wanted it hard, and as soon as possible -- and Nagi got his vague wish, as Treize pressed his legs further open and withdrew that mauling finger. "Scream all you like."

The words were enough to make him come then and there, Nagi shuddering beneath him as he pressed his heels to the back of the man's thighs, wiry arms clutching at Treize's shoulders. "Do it!" Rough encouragement, yes, but oh, how he wanted fucking!

There was no nancing about on what it was. When the barely slicked cock pressed against him, teasing in presence, and then demanding as Treize started to press in, Nagi knew he was going to get nothing more than a rough, fast fuck. He yelled when the thickness of it pushed into him, body arching away for a moment as he tried not to fight beneath the larger man. It hurt, it *hurt*, and God, his cock was wild between them, screaming at him that more was not just wanted, it was *needed*, and needed *now*.

"Louder," the caretaker demanded, rocking back out and shoving in again just as quickly. There was no cease in the pace, in the slap of skin against skin, the scrape of Treize's jeans against the inside of Nagi's legs.

He *did* get louder, screaming out with a raw edge in his voice that was pure pleasure. Fingers scraped at the older man's back, shirt shoved out of the way so that Nagi could get to his skin. It felt *good*, completely fucking good, and it was what he wanted. It was so much of what he wanted. "Oh, fuck, God, YES!!"

His screams were almost unheard, though, as Treize pistoned in and out of him, his own grunts and heavy groans mingling around them. Soon the creaking mattress creaked louder, jerking to slam up against the wall with every rough motion.

"Gonna... Gonna..." It was a warning, he was going to come, he could already feel himself tightening. It hurt so fucking *good*, his whole body wrapped up in the fucking right until he opened his eyes and could swear that he saw someone staring down at them.

Nagi screamed, the fright in and of itself enough to jolt him into coming, heart nearly stopping as he moaned wildly, unable to do more than clench and tremble in Treize's grasp.

A few final rocking jolts, and Treize's hips stilled just as shock set in, pulled over the edge by Nagi's hysterical screaming. It was when he slumped forwards, breathless and giddy in the afterglow, that the caretaker twisted to look at what Nagi's eyes were so widely fixed on.

A mirror.

It was actually one of the few mirrors left in the place, remaining only because it was cracked and its silver backing was mottled beyond immediate repair. The way it distorted things made it unusable, and also made it unsurprising that Nagi had been frightened when he'd seen someone looking back at him out of it -- namely, himself.

The boy was panting, trying to catch his breath once he realized what he'd seen, and he let out a rusty-sounding giggle, one that was almost hysterical. "I... I..."

The caretaker's chuckle was warm as he pulled out of Nagi, and bent to kiss the babbling lips. "You frightened yourself..."

The boy let out a hiss, biting his lip slightly as Treize came loose from him. He was desperately sore, and it made him wince. "Unh. I haven't come so hard in... Ever," he sighed, going limp.

"That was wonderful," Treize agreed, shifting to stretch out beside Nagi for just a moment. There wasn't any need to fuck and run, after all.

"Can we do it again? Not right now," he hurried to say. His ass hurt, after all, and while a *little* pain was good (even a *fair* amount of pain wasn't bad!), he wasn't willing to ask for more just yet. "But later."

"Later," Treize agreed languidly, twisting a little to run a hand through his hair. Fingers that were so often denied sunlight gleamed in the faint light that trickled in through a window. "Your parents will wonder where you are..."

"They don't really care," Nagi said faintly, "as long as I'm not announcing to the new neighborhood that I'm queer." He shifted and lightly pressed his mouth to those fingers.

"Well, I shan't do that," he murmured lightly, pulling back those fingers to kiss Nagi's lips lightly. "Unfortunately, I have to do my work."

"Hmm. Will you show me the rest of the place some other night, then?" Nagi asked him. He was more fascinated with the old building than ever now. He wondered if they could fuck in every room, or if perhaps they could play exotic games in them.

"Whenever you like," the caretaker promised, leaning into the kiss more, added pressure to Nagi's lips.

"I'll see you tomorrow, then," the boy agreed huskily. They parted ways, the caretaker slipping from the bed with a smooth bow, pulling together his clothes only as he walked away.

Well, Nagi decided as he remained on the mattress for several moments, this would certainly make everything much more interesting. Finally, he dressed, as well, leaving the room empty except for the mirror.

The bathroom wasn't a thing like Nagi's crisp, modern bathroom at home. There was one light fixture, a dim sconce, flush against the wall near the door, and no windows to shutter closed. It was almost like taking a shower in a power-outage with only a pale flashlight's worth of light to move by. But it was easily forgiven, considering that the rest of the house was often as dark as pitch, and that a bright light in that room would've sunk Treize's vision into nothingness.

Those thoughts made it no less disturbing for Nagi as he stepped into the shower, and drew the semi-clear curtain closed. It had been almost a month that he'd known Treize; perhaps a month and a half. Certainly he'd been here long enough for the other kids his age to decide that he was 'strange', so some pranks had been played on him. Nothing dangerous had happened yet, just a few silly things -- missing books, things that moved when he could only see from the corner of his eyes. Still, it was more than enough to make him nervous, and so the squeal when he turned the faucets made his skin shiver just a bit as he waited for the pipes to flood with warm water.

It started out icy, but he didn't expect it to be instantly warm. The house was old, after all, and older houses had a certain feel to them despite the minor inconveniences. So as droplets of ice splattered at his feet for a few moments, he had time to take in the shadows of the bathroom through the semi clear curtain.

There was no denying that it was creepy showering in near-darkness. It felt vaguely like something out of "Psycho", he supposed, and the mere thought made him shiver and shift nervously as the hot water finally began to pour free. He stepped under the showerhead and promptly closed his eyes, trying to shut out the nagging fear that was worming deep into his belly.

After all, Treize wasn't far away. Just outside, trimming the bushes -- at an optimal time to piss off the houses nearest the Asylum. It wasn't as if he'd let harm come to Nagi...

Unless he didn't see it.

Unless someone slipped past him.


He opened his eyes and peered through the sheer vinyl nervously into the darkness of the room, suddenly *aware* of something that he hadn't noticed before; a shadow, a, a PRESENCE, and his heart leapt up into his throat.

There was something out there, he was sure of it -- or he was hallucinating, not truly seeing it, he was...

Had to finish his shower before Treize finished his jobs, and had to rid himself of paranoid thoughts.

Closing his eyes tightly, Nagi reached up and began to dampen his hair, muttering to himself under his breath. "No one here but you, stupid," he said. "Brad would've written if anything bad was going to happen." Well, if they'd let his letter out of the facility he was in, anyway. They liked to censor Brad's mail, and fewer and fewer letters had come from Brad, though Nagi answered every one of those that did get to him.

Perhaps that was a sign that something bad was going to happen? Less letters being sent probably meant that more of them were warnings...


With a sigh, Nagi opened his eyes, pushing the water out of them as he reached for the shampoo. A shadow caught his eye, and a scream promptly burst from his throat, his thin shoulder blades hitting the tile of the shower wall as he realized that *there was someone standing just outside of the shower*!!

He screamed again, panicked, and grabbed the shampoo bottle to try to defend himself in his horror. Nagi was just a naked boy in a shower, though, against who knew what was lurking out there.

Violently, he flung the bottle through the curtain, letting loose a shower of water onto the tile. Whatever it was fell to the floor with a soft *whump* and he blinked, frowning slightly. WHUMP??

No shampoo bottle could have taken out a person with a whump.

Shakily, Nagi tossed aside the plastic curtain, and looked at the house-coat he had concussed.

"I'm a complete idiot," he muttered to himself, shaking his head. At least Treize hadn't heard him screaming like a baby over the sound of the weed whacker. With a sigh, Nagi turned back to the water, and tried to forget the intense paranoia that was beginning to make life very uncomfortable indeed.

"I think they must have some idea," Nagi murmured to Treize weeks later. It was heavy into fall and there was an undeniable crispness in the air. "There've been pranks."

Treize had just finished mowing the lawn and the leaves that scattered it, so there was no answer for a moment as he pulled the bagger off with a slight grunt. "Of what sort?"

"Oh... you know. Things flying past the window. Filmy cloth that you catch sight of from the corner of your eye. Not bricks through windows or anything."

"Don't let them frighten you like that," Treize admonished lightly, twisting to dump the clippings into a plastic bag he had for just that purpose. "You're aware it's just them playing tricks, hmn?"

"I hadn't thought it might be anything else." Well, he *had*, but he wasn't about to admit it. Nagi had no *fear* of ghosts, per se... only sometimes lately things seemed a bit strange. "Are you almost done?"

"Almost," Treize promised. "Let me carry this up to the trash bin at the front. I'll meet you in the room with the mirror, all right?"

"All right," Nagi agreed, and strolled towards the Asylum. He knew the side door would be open, waiting for them, and it was. That made it easy enough to slip inside and head up the stairs, slowly but surely.

Treize had done a little dusting, so Nagi's fingers could close over the banister's rail as he walked the familiar path, winding up to their point of rendezvous. Why, he'd even be able to watch Treize finish up his work from the window. That would be nice, to lean out of the open window against the metal rail and watch him, see him move. He was very fond of Treize.

Nagi moved silently across the landing, frowning as he peered out the window. Treize had just been right there, he could have seen him from the window, he was sure of it...

He heard a footfall, too sudden and too close to him, felt a hand grab his shoulder to try to twist him, and saw the flash of a blade caught in the window's light. He couldn't help the cry that pierced his throat, or the violent jerk that turned him, shoulder blades pressed to the thin pane of glass that made up the window, and when it shattered beneath him..

"Fuck," the boy who'd been trying to frighten him whispered. Several other teenagers snuck out of a room nearby. "Oh my God. Oh my God, he's..."

A cell phone beeped out numbers, and one of them started to stammer to the operator what had just happened. The rest seemed just as stunned as that boy, staring down at the slender gurgling figure impaled on one jagged piece.

"Nagi...? I thought I heard something break..." The caretaker, and his firm tread, as he came up the stairs.

"Shit!" one of the teenagers whispered, a girl bursting into tears at the sound.

"T...-t...." No hope of getting out more than that.

The one on the cell phone kept talking to the dispatcher, stammered out an address, and then started to sob, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry..."

The caretaker took the last few steps at a racing speed, and stood there for a moment, watching the clutch of them.

"What've you done?" he husked, unable to see past their frightened cluster. "What've you little shits done?"

"W-we didn't mean to, honest," the one with the knife gulped. Lord, they'd all heard about this man, caretaker now, patient once, and most of them were scared to death of him.

"Hmmm..." It was a whimper, barely voiced, lacking breath and blood and life.

"Nagi..." They were shoved aside like cobwebs, and Treize froze one he could see what they were hiding from him. His eyes flared for a moment, and then he knelt, fingers reaching for Nagi's neck, moving to cradle his head.

The boy's steady-growing pallor was accented by the pool of blood beneath him, by the sounds of sirens screaming in the distance. Nagi's hand momentarily curled against Treize's thigh and then went limp.

"Oh, God," a girl sobbed. "Oh, God."

One of Treize's eyes began to twitch just a little, at the outermost corner as he shifted the pad of his thumb to seek out a pulse. "You've killed him," the caretaker murmured quietly, staring down at Nagi's too still body. "What did he ever do to you, to deserve to be killed? Nothing!"

"It was just a joke," the boy with the knife said. "He wasn't meant to get hurt, just scared a little. We didn't mean to do anything to him!"

Silence from the man, as he slid his hands from Nagi's body and stood solemnly. "But you still killed him, and there was no point... no *REASON* to trying to scare him." He snatched out a hand, startling them all, and took the knife from the boy with almost a gesture of disgust. "Don't think of going anywhere. You'll still be here when the police arrive."

"RUN!" the boy yelped, waving a hand at the other teenagers there as he turned to head towards the stairs. "RUN!"

"*YOU* don't deserve to live," he snarled, lunging at the boy. The knife, dramatically sharp as it had been, slid easily into the boy's throat. "Shits like you only make the lives of others miserable..."

The gurgle that broke loose as blood sprayed across Treize brought screams from the other teenagers, all of whom scattered in different directions. He wiped a hand across his face and turned; there was only one way out, after all.

But wouldn't it be a delight to methodically lock all of the doors along the hallway, and kill them one by one? They couldn't leave him in peace, couldn't leave his lover in peace, and they would, if they lived, perhaps ruin hundreds of lives with their backbiting and their callous hatreds.


It brought a slight smile to his face as he heard some of them struggling with nailed-down windows, tugging at the iron bars. Nagi lay close by, the bleeding boy at his feet a disturbing reminder of the slim body pierced so deeply, impossibly, by glass pane.

He paused in his pursuit for just a moment to kneel by Nagi again, and whisper, "Good night..."

There was work to be done before the police came after him with their bright lights.