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 Dawn [Josiah]

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Dr. Cyril H. Darling

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PostSubject: Dawn [Josiah]   Fri Sep 14, 2012 7:00 am



"Ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee."

* * *

    Josiah...


In the silence of the children's ward, Cyril jerked awake.

"Josiah..." Where was he? What had happened? Groping the the darkness, Cyril rolled over on the narrow camp cot, reaching out for the tutor who ought to have been in his bed, warm and slumbering beside him. He choked on a breath, finding only the cool motionlessness of evening, the void of musty air. What had happened? Where was he? A brutal dream. The worst he could ever remember having. That was all. Wasn't it? Panicked, Cyril rolled further and met the air for a split second of freefall, before the cracked tiles of the old room jarred the breath out of him and knocked into his face as he met the floor. Laying still for a moment, he felt the shivering remnants of the dream slide over him, twisting his insides in agony, and shuddered there, squirming. Where was he? How had he gotten out here? What had happened. A tiny sliver of crescent moon spilled a weak and milky light in through windows overgrown with kudzu, and with quickened breath he crawled towards the meek shaft that cast its pattern on the floor. The children's ward. How could he mistake it? Why did it shock him? Where was he expecting to be, save for warm and safe in his own bed? Confused and suffocating in the dark, his hands scrabbled desperately over the tiles and seized the camp light, fumbling to jerk the dial to the left. When the florescent tubes sparked to life, he let out a harsh gasp of agony, wincing away from it, dropping the plastic object with a clatter. He hurt. Didn't he? It was a curious feeling, unsettling, off-putting, like a too vivid memory of agony, not truly there, but never really gone. What had happened?

Cyril could hardly breath as he lurched to his feet, staggering, tripping over the camp stove and kettle and only managing to remain upright by grasping for the doorframe with both hands. He hugged himself to it as a drowning man clings to a raft, and threw a stricken, confused gaze out into the deserted, dilapidated hallway. He didn't remember coming out here. But he must have. Was I drunk? Screwing his eyes shut, shards of distant light imprinted themselves against the backs of his eyelids, as if he was peering up through a well, through the towering walls of gnarled and decaying skyscrapers. That cold shiver of recollection slithered over him again, not tangible enough to pick apart, but present, like a spectre at his shoulder, cramping his stomach harshly until he was left whimpering, half doubled over and still clinging to the doorframe. He tried desperately to try to remember why he was here, how he'd gotten out to the children's ward, and what had happened, why he felt this way. A dark, oppressive coldness hung over him like a wet blanket, smothering and suffocating him, and he felt it's soullessness deep in his bones, an almost tangible ache of despair, or pain and ruin, of loneliness. It was a bad dream. Whatever it was. He felt it like the last remaining shackles of a nightmare, like a different, dark universe just beyond his reach. He thought he might be sick, but when his body tried, nothing came up, only the pain twisting his insides and piercing into his skull. And for the first time since he'd been at Hallowsgate, the darkness felt threatening to him, malevolent and ominous. He couldn't stay out here. He wanted to go home, needed to go home. Josiah's name was the only word that seemed to want to come to his lips, as if for hours, in his nightmare, he had been framing it over and over again, like a mantra, picturing the cool sanctuary of his eyes, wanting to pour himself into them and curl up there, hidden and still.

Ordinarily, the walk from the children's ward might take Cyril fifteen minutes at most. He knew all of the short cuts, ever door and every trail to pick through the whispering grasses and the tangled, snagging bramble vines. The thorns never cut him, trampled by experienced feet before they could reach out for his flesh. But he felt them biting him through the fabric of his slacks as he staggered out of the building and gaped at the cold night air as if he couldn't find breath enough. Nature reached for him, grabbed at his feet and shins, and tripped him more than once as he tried to run, wheeled and fell each time, as if his limbs would not cooperate. Everything felt... wrong. His eyes were tearing by the time he made it to the edge of the courtyard, crawling on his hands and knees to the broken fence. Distant, over the tops of the grasses between there and the small village of staff cottages, he could make out the lights of home, wanted to scream into the night for Josiah to come outside, to chase away the distance between them in bold and confident strides across the field. What had happened? "Josiah... Josiah..." Where was he? Was he okay? Had something terrible happened? Using the fence to help him back to his feet, Cyril moved through the easier terrain like a sleepwalker, his gait heavy and shambling as he meandered toward home and Josiah. Home. He was going home. Why did it feel like the most important thing he had ever done in his life? Why was there this aching, terrible desperation driving his uncoordinated limbs? What had happened, and why did he hurt so badly, and not, at the same time? How had he fallen asleep in the children's ward, and what time was it? And was Josiah waiting for him, calling him home, drawing him desperately to him with that strange, intangible thread that bound them to one another?

He almost fell against the front steps of the cottage when he tried to take them, and went down on one hand to break his fall, keep himself upright. He looked wild by now, sickly pale and hollow-eyed as he reached for the doorhandle, and let out a quiet cry as he found it unlocked. Why had he feared it would be shut to him? How could he have ever thought that he couldn't come back to his own home, to his lover, the only person who had ever understood him, wanted him despite his many flaws? The forgiving door closed quietly behind him as he stumbled in quietly and turned to lean against it, sucking in desperate lungfuls of the familiar place, the glow of many lamps. It smelled a little stuffy, as if the windows hadn't been opened in days, and there was bourbon there too, stale and familiar, but heavy. For a moment, he scarcely dared to turn around and look, as if he would find that Josiah wasn't here, that the cottage would be vacant, that there was no-one left for him. No-one's coming... Curling his fingers against the door, he heard his own fingernails scrape against the wood, his eyes screwing shut again. He had to know. He had to find Josiah. It was the only thing in his head, stuck like a skipping record, his silent mantra, his soul's whispered cry. It felt like the most imperative mission he'd ever undertaken, and he could not place why. He only knew that he was desperate to find him, to be held, perhaps told that everything was just fine, that everything was... normal. Seeking comfort had never been in Cyril's blood, but he needed that now, wanted it, and it was that terrible want that forced him to turn around and spy Josiah draped across the couch, a mostly empty bottle of bourbon curled in a hand against his side, nestled at his ribs. For a terrible second, his mind queried if he was dead. Dead? Why would he be dead? But he felt the indescribable terror of the idea roll in his stomach.

Cyril's feet brought him staggering across the room, almost tangling in the edge of the old throw rug, as if every obstacle that could be put in his way had been, especially to trip him, to slow him, to stop him reaching the tutor. But as he neared, he saw the steady rise and fall of Josiah's chest in slumber, the sweet, perfected angles of his face turned away, toward the back of the couch, where the arm cradled his skull in a familiar embrace. This was where Cyril often dozed, and he could have cried out load in relief as he fell to his knees at the edge of the couch and reached out both hands for him. At first, he took the bottle, prying it out of Josiah's hand to drop it to the rug, not caring if it spilled, wanting it gone for some reason he couldn't place. How much did he drink? Why did that matter? Why did the thought of Josiah drowning himself in that bottle sting so much? They drank bourbon all the time. "Josiah..." He breathed, to the drunk and slumbering tutor. Placing one hand desperately on his chest, the fingers splayed, he reached for his face with the other, took him by the chin to tip his head away from the back of the couch so he could peer into his face. Cyril looked almost as wretched as Josiah did, his eyes having taken on an unnatural, feverish sort of light that didn't seem to reflect the world around him quite right. He was pale, as if in the grip of influenza. But he was there. Tangible. Unmistakable. "Josiah..." He almost wasn't sure if he'd ever be able to speak another word so long as he lived. He didn't know why. Just nothing else seemed to fit against his lips. Not yet. Not until Josiah woke and saw him, found him.

Find me. Josiah, please. No-one's coming. Josiah... Josiah...


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Josiah Rudolph

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PostSubject: Re: Dawn [Josiah]   Fri Sep 14, 2012 8:00 am

The day before, Josiah had woken to an empty bed, cold and alone but for the weak shaft of sunlight spilling across the blankets, and the suit he held in his arms. It was a poor substitute for a living body, and it should have been worn by a living body the night of the harvest dinner and dance, but Cyril had never returned home to put it on. The tutor hadn't eaten that morning, nor since then. He'd been on a steady diet of bourbon and grief, and had hardly noticed when the record he'd been listening to on repeat suddenly switched to another song, the unsettling childish voices barely creeping past the edges of his consciousness. He had stayed seated before the record player, cross-legged and unable to move, his head drooping toward the floor and the bottle of bourbon propped against his thigh, warming to the temperature of his skin. Throughout the course of the afternoon, and as evening slowly crept in and took its turn, he drank the entire contents of the bottle, only moving occasionally to go the bathroom, splash his face with cold water, stare at his hollow-eyed visage in the mirror, hardly recognizing the face of the man he saw there. Who was he? What was he doing here? What was he going to do? No matter how much he drank, the answers still wouldn't come, but it was easier not to ask himself the questions the further he dipped into the bottle. At length he passed out on the floor, sleeping fitfully, his dreams dark and fearful. They didn't let him slumber for long. He kept seeing visions of an elevator shaft, feeling the bottom of his stomach drop out in freefall, and gasped awake into the darkness when it became too much for his unconscious mind to bear.

Eventually, he moved from the floor to the bar, cracking the seal on an unopened bottle of bourbon. If that ran out, there were plenty of other options to see him through the next several days. A part of him knew that he couldn't keep doing this, but he couldn't quite bring himself to care. Confronting reality was a task he didn't feel up to tackling until he'd had time to... to what? Drink himself into an early grave? Did he think that was the way to be with Cyril, to call him home to him, wherever he was? Maybe not, but he'd have time to figure it out later. He had all the time in the world, it seemed. After all, it wasn't as if he was going anywhere. It was a conclusion that didn't take long to come to as he settled himself back down on the couch, the record player now silent. Hallowsgate had seen fit to that, shackling him to the grounds and crumbling wards in ways he still wasn't quite sure he understood. If his certainty that Cyril was dead was in fact true, and not some desperate construct of his worried, paranoid mind, he'd be just as bound to the asylum as the other ghosts who haunted the place, and if Cyril wasn't leaving, then neither was Josiah. Was it crazy to think that way? It made sense to him. Where else could he possibly want to go, when all he wanted, all he needed, was right here? Or at least it had been. He'd found it and lost it, and didn't know if he was getting it back. It was easier to fall asleep, let the bourbon drag him down, than ponder the head-spinning nature of his thoughts for too long. The second time he slept, blissfully, he didn't dream.

Josiah didn't know when Cyril woke up in the children's ward, dazed and in pain, because he was draped across the couch, his second bottle of bourbon in as many days tucked against his ribs by a limp hand. If he had been awake, he might have felt it, that severed cord of connection knitting back together and coming alive again, in a manner of speaking. It might never be the same, never be fully as whole as it had been before, but it was there all the same, and a drifting part of his unconscious seemed to know it as he stirred against the couch cushions, mumbling in his sleep. His head turned back and forth on the pillow, hair tousled; the last time it had seen a brush was two days ago, when he'd been getting ready for the harvest festival, anticipating seeing Cyril there. The sight of the suit had made him smile then, because he had never seen him in anything like it before. He'd been pestering the facility administrator about going into Charleston to get fitted for one for weeks now, promising to absorb the expense, and at some point Cyril had conceded. Regrettably, obligations at Hallowsgate hadn't allowed them to make the time. It was that way with most things; he should have expected it. Hallowsgate always came first, and sometimes Josiah hated the place for it. Was he really living here? Doing more than just existing? What was he missing out in, in the world that existed beyond the veil of secrecy shrouding this place from ignorant eyes? Maybe nothing. It hadn't been that long since he'd first arrived, though sometimes it felt like it had been years, that he had never known anything but Hallowsgate.

The rest of him didn't look much better than his tangled hair. He hadn't had a shower in the blur of the past two days either, hadn't shaved or changed his clothes. Cyril's t-shirt still hung off his lean frame, and he wouldn't have been surprised to find it sealed to his torso like a second skin now. He had cried into it, and all the alcohol had made him sweat too, binding it to him. Quite frankly, he looked a mess when Cyril stumbled into the cottage, just as pale and wrecked as his slumbering counterpart. At this point, they both looked like they'd been dragged through a hedge backwards, or left loitering in some dank cellar far beneath the earth for days, deprived of food and air and sunlight. They were a fitting pair, and it might have been comic if it hadn't been so damnably tragic. Josiah didn't hear Cyril staggering in, didn't feel him catch himself on the door or trip over the number of fallen items he had haphazardly knocked over on his way around the room, pacing when he couldn't sleep or sit down. Papers and books were scattered across the carpet, along with a number of liquor bottles, beer and wine he'd indiscriminately sipped from when he needed a different taste in his mouth. Bourbon was something he and Cyril shared in their quiet sanctity of their private moments alone; it almost felt wrong to drink it without him, but it was the only way he knew how to feel close to him while he was gone.

When Cyril pried the bottle from Josiah's loose fingers, he stirred again, frowning and moistening his lips with his tongue as his hand clenched and released around empty air. Where was the bourbon? He needed a drink... It must have fallen out of his hand. He had to get it back, he thought, like a child who had dropped a prized toy on the ground. Struggling to stir, the first thing he registered was pain, white hot light flickering on and off inside his skull. It wasn't quite the same as it had been in the north wing, not as rapid, intense, or mind-numbingly blinding, but it was close enough to make him wince in discomfort. He rolled over, half onto his side and groaning, eyelids parting millimeter by millimeter. Who was that, crouched on the floor beside him, staring into his face? Whose hands were on his chest, his face? Why was anyone here? Didn't they know he just wanted to be left alone? “I don't... no... I don't want company. Please leave me alone,” he whispered hoarsely. “Turn the lights off. I can't...” A moment later, realization caught up to him, and he blinked, his eyes opening wider and staying there in shock and disbelief. Cyril... What was going on? How was he there? Did it matter? No, Josiah decided stubbornly, it didn't, only that he was. “Oh my god, Cyril. Cyril. Cyril. I thought I'd never see you again. I...” His lips formed other soundless words, words that wanted to spill past his lips and take shape on the air, but they wouldn't come out as anything but nonsensical gibberish, so he only cut himself off and stared into Cyril's eyes from inches away, hardly daring to breathe. What if he blinked and he was gone again? More importantly, what had happened to him? He wanted to ask, but all he could do was reach for him with shaking hands, winding his fingers in the front of his shirt with a strength he hadn't been able to muster for anyone, least of all himself, in days. Though it seemed improbable, he was here, and Josiah could feel him again.

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PostSubject: Re: Dawn [Josiah]   Fri Sep 14, 2012 8:49 am



In the same breath, Cyril felt as if he had been asleep, drifting for a thousand year, and that time had stood still as well, frozen around him. Where was he? What had happened? What time was it? What day? What month of what year, of what century? He didn't understand why, didn't understand the how and the where, the when. He understood only the steady feel of Josiah's hand in the front of his shirt, in that moment, the way it seemed to pull him closer, their invisible thread made tangible in the clench of fingers in fabric. Cyril was still wearing the unremarkable dress shirt and slacks he had been wearing the moment they had last parted ways, with a kiss and the sort of lingering glance they always seemed to become trapped in, reluctant to even part ways for a few hours. Thinking of that moment now made something inside of Cyril shriek a violent, bereft cry, and his eyes screwed shut involuntarily, pain written in the deepening lines of his face. Why? Why was this moment so... So different. So important? So achingly vital? He leaned forward into the couch, and into Josiah, and buried his face against Josiah's side, not caring about the shirt he was still wearing, the state of his hair, the 5 o'clock shadow that left him looking more unkempt than Cyril could ever remember. He only cared that it felt as if he was dying on the inside, shrivelling up and hoarse with crying out in a silent voice.

His hands curled against Josiah too, against his ribs, and his shoulder where he'd dropped his hand from his face, and a retched sound escaped him as a low, roached howl smothered against his own t-shirt, draped over Josiah's tortured form. He didn't know where that sound came from, or why, but he couldn't hold it in. For once, there was no cool voice of doubt and ridicule within him. It too had died, just curled up and died along with everything else that wasn't his desperate need for Josiah to be near him at all times. As he bent over, leaned into him, he shook, shivering and squirming at the feeling coiling up inside of him. That strange echo of pain, of loneliness, helpless despair. No-one's coming to find you. Shaking his head, though against what he did not know, he smothered another cry and pushed his arm out, to drape it right over Josiah, as if he could gather him to him, like the pillows on their bed that seemed forever imprinted with his scent now. For a time, this was all he could do, all he wanted to do, unable to frame words and only needing to clutch Josiah to him as if terrified he'd be ripped from him at any moment. Tears bled into the dark cotton of that t-shirt, and he as helpless to stop them, too bereft and desperate and relieved to care. When he did finally manage to lift his head, it might have been only seconds, or it could have been hours. Time felt intangible to him now, fickle and flimsy. Meeting Josiah's eyes with his own bloodshot ones felt like looking at him for the very first and very last time at once, and he looked stunned, dazed. As he calmed, a vacant sense of confusion began to take him back over, as if he was again that sleepwalker, travelling home over the fields.

"Josiah..." He whispered again. What else could he say? What else should he say? he'd scarcely processed the dishevelled state of the room around them, not caring. Not caring about anything but simply being here. He sputtered a breath and tried to steady himself, only now, finally, peering away from Josiah to the scattered books and papers, the empty bottles. What had happened here, and why? Why couldn't Cyril put the pieces together, the broken shards of time? Some of them were missing, weren't they? Or were they? Why did he feel so bad? Why didn't any of this feel right? Slowly, gingerly, he lowered himself back to sit on his heels, though his hands never left Josiah for an instant, curling in the shirt to keep a firm hold of him in case he should try to slip away. "I had the most terrible dream..." He breathed, barely even a whisper. But he couldn't remember what that dream was now, only that he'd had it, that he felt it. He was staring off across the room almost vacantly as he said the words, his expression as haunted and hollow as his voice. Had his lips even moved...? They must have. He'd spoken aloud, hadn't he? Shaking his head slightly, as if he could clear the strange haze, the fog, he moistened his lips too, and found his mouth parched, ashen almost, as if he could taste brick dust and the very stuff that the old wards were made up of, as if it was a part of his chemistry now.

"What... What happened?" Blinking, he gingerly freed one hand to reach for a fallen, empty bottle, but rather than pick it up, he only touched it with his fingertips, sent it rolling a couple of inches against the carpet. His eyes swept the devastation, struggling to make sense of it all, of anything. The shirt and slacks he wore bore the dust of the old wards heavily, crumpled and stained with rust in places, as if he'd been laying against old iron, or as if it had been laying against him. He pressed the palm of his free hand to his forehead for a moment, trying to force logic to come to him, realisation. It was stubborn, wouldn't seem to clarify. He felt as if he was too drunk, or maybe too high, smothered back under the weight of thorazine perhaps, and the sluggishness of it all frightened him. Maybe he had been drugged. Yes! Yes! that must be it! "I think... I must have been... drugged. I don't... None of this... What time is it?" Had he missed the harvest festival? Or maybe, maybe he had been there. he closed his eyes and tried to picture it, summoning up recollections of the bright, autumn leaves garlands hanging along the ceiling. Yes, yes he must have been there, he decided desperately. Subconsciously, recognising any alternative possibilities was too painful for him to process. His mind was grasping desperately at straws, to avoid the truth.

Finally turning to peer at Josiah, he almost seemed to come back to himself, the confusion beginning to fade away as his mind jammed puzzle pieces from a completely different scene into the gaping chasms where the real pieces had gone missing. "At the festival," he proclaimed quietly, his tone growing a little more self assured. "I must have been drugged at the festival. how long have I been out? ...What happened here?" He gestured to the disarray around them. "You... You look like death warmed over. Are you okay? Do we need to go back to the hospital." Ignorance was bliss. Denial was a force not to be reckoned with. He did not want to entertain other thoughts, other questions, any other possibility than that he had gone to the festival with Josiah, and that they had had a good time, together. Even if this all felt wrong, even if he hurt. That was surely just the aftereffect of whatever he'd been drugged with, no doubt as some prank of one of the unrulier patients. Not the echoes of his own death, the hours of suffering that had come before, broken and bleeding into himself at the bottom of an elevator shaft, crushed, pinned by the weight of steel and stone from above. "How much did you drink? Did you even eat anything?" As he spun his own fairytale, he was visibly calming, though he remained looking a little hollow. Regardless, he tried to rise to his feet with a look of concern colouring his features, meaning to walk away and head to the kitchen. "I'll get you some water, something to eat. You look like you've just been on a day long bender."


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PostSubject: Re: Dawn [Josiah]   Fri Sep 14, 2012 10:21 am

For a few moments, all Josiah could do was stare at Cyril in awe. Now that he was here in front of him, looking alive and... maybe not well, but at least whole, he couldn't be sure whether it was real or just a dream. Was he still sleeping? The snap and crackle of tension in his head, a sensation he couldn't put a name to, seemed to suggest otherwise; the pain was too acute to be attributed to a dream, but he wouldn't put it past himself to be fabricating any of it, knowing how desperate he had been, and still was, to see Cyril, feel him in his mind, touch him just like this, fingers scrabbling against the front of his shirt as if it was all the reassurance he needed that everything was going to be alright. It was real though, wasn't it? He felt solid beneath his fingertips, though maybe not as warm as he would have liked. In comparison to Josiah's feverish skin, Cyril's was uncommonly pale and chilly, as if he had been outside for hours, loitering in the cool night air. Autumn was coming, the evenings growing longer and colder, and Cyril felt as if he had been intimately familiar with it. There was something else though, some distant whisper of doom and anguish beneath it, the faint taste of plaster dust, rust, flaking metal. Had he been lost? That couldn't be it. There was no one who knew Hallowsgate better than Cyril. He didn't even need the stars to find his way home. What could it be then? What had happened to him to make him disappear for days?

Josiah was also aware that something didn't feel quite right about their reunion, and it wasn't in the way they felt about each other; clearly, that much hadn't changed as they collapsed together, the wall that had been separating them for too many long, anguished hours fading away, crumbling into dust, leaving no space for light or breath between their bodies. There was something wrong about Cyril though; he didn't feel the same. He was changed, in a way Josiah was too addled - and maybe still too drunk or hungover - to immediately pick up on. The tendrils of the tutor's mind snaked out without his say-so, slithering into the cracks and crevices of Cyril's like smoke, searching for some answer there. It jarred him to find that their consciousnesses combined and slid together easily, jagged shards of glass repairing in slow motion, as if he was watching a video play out in reverse. In those fleeting seconds, he couldn't tell where he ended and Cyril began, and it was almost sweet. Bittersweet. He could almost see what had happened, the vision from his dream flashing through his head again and causing him pain that made him cry out in tandem with Cyril as they clutched each other. Darkness. An elevator shaft. An angry little boy. A gut-wrenching plummet from five stories high. Josiah pressed his forehead into Cyril's shoulder, shaking his head in staunch denial of the fact that he already knew the answer he was looking for. It had been a dream, just a dream. It didn't mean anything... did it?

Josiah's hands slid around Cyril's ribs to his back, his fingers gripping him with bruising intensity at first, until the touch became more tender once he realized he wasn't going anywhere, wasn't going to slip out of his hold. His palms eased down his spine and back up again, exploring the planes of muscle and jutting angles of his shoulder blades as if he didn't know them already. He might have been touching him for the first time, or even the last, but it wouldn't be the latter, if he had anything to say about it. The howl that tore out of Cyril's throat seemed too big for his body to contain; maybe that was why it needed out. He couldn't keep carrying it around, letting it shred his insides. Josiah was stricken down to the very bones to hear it, but he made no move and uttered no sound to stop him. Whatever had happened to him, it was clear that he needed it. He didn't scream; his throat felt raw enough that he was sure he had done it at some point, though he couldn't remember it if he had. Now that he thought about it, he couldn't remember much of anything from the past forty-eight hours. It was all a muddle, and maybe that was the point, why he had decided to get drunk in the first place. He had been doing it so that, later, he wouldn't have to remember how he felt in those first soul-crushing days without Cyril, before someone finally came by and told him that the facility administrator's lifeless body had been found, confirmation of what he already knew to be true. It was going to happen, he had been sure of it, and it was an unspeakable relief to know that it was a conversation he didn't need to have now. Cyril was here, with him, not lost out in the woods somewhere, or in one of the old wards. He was here, and if Josiah could barely stand to be parted from him before, it was bound to even worse now. How could he let him out of his sight again? How could he trust that every time they saw each other wouldn't be the last time, having come so close to it once already?

His name on Cyril's lips was like a prayer he'd been waiting to hear, a blessing that couldn't come soon enough. Nothing had ever sounded so beautiful to him, even if Cyril's voice was dazed and so thin it was nearly transparent. Yes, say it again. Just that. Only that. He didn't want to know what else Cyril would say when he found the rest of his voice, didn't know how he would answer any questions he might ask. Cruelly, almost as if the facility administrator had direct access to his thoughts and wouldn't allow them to pass quietly, he spoke again. "I had the most terrible dream... What happened?" Josiah blanked. What could he say? For now, he refused speech, but Cyril didn't seem to mind, filling up the silence with arbitrary words, making up stories that had Josiah gaping dumbly at him, fumbling with a tongue that felt thick and clumsy in his mouth. When he sank back onto his heels, Josiah feared that he was going to break away from him entirely, and barked a sharp, short cry at the nightmarish thought of it, leaning forward and gripping him all the tighter for it. “Cyril, you... you weren't drugged...” He looked frightened as he stared at the other man, and he was, because he didn't know why he was saying these things. Didn't he know what had happened to him? Didn't he know what day it was, that he had missed the harvest festival? “You weren't there. You never went. I came home from work and your suit was still on the bed... I had to go alone, and I was alone when I came home. You weren't here. You... you've been missing for the past two days. I was worried sick. You don't know what happened to you?” How could he not know what had happened? Josiah wanted to cry out with frustration, feeling nauseous. Maybe he really had died... But if so, how was he here, and why could Josiah touch him? Why did he feel him more strongly than ever?

“You don't look so good yourself,” he whispered, his hands trembling on Cyril's shoulders, thumbs ghosting back and forth over the ridges of his collarbones. “I don't need the hospital. I've been drinking too much, but I didn't think you were coming back.” When Cyril mentioned getting him a glass of water, fixing him something to eat, Josiah's face turned a whiter shade of pale than it already was, stark and almost mad with abject terror. “No! Don't go. Please don't go... I'm fine. All I need is you. Don't leave me... Please don't leave me again. I was so scared.” Biting back a sob, he pulled Cyril closer to him, using the leverage he had on his shoulders to wind his arms around them, sliding his hands into his hair at either side of his head.

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PostSubject: Re: Dawn [Josiah]   Fri Sep 14, 2012 11:57 am



Cyril did not feel strong, or coordinated enough to deny Josiah, even if he had wanted to. As he moved to get up, he only folded at the knees again and fell back into Josiah, fining a home there against him that he had never known anywhere else, never wanted to part from again. Again? For a moment, lost in the darkness of Josiah's shoulder, he could almost forget the way the tutor had stared at him, the way his words echoed around inside of Cyril's consciousness like billiard balls dropped in a vacant, marble floored room. Sharp. Painful to hear. Had he winced when Josiah had said them? He couldn't be sure now, and reeled silently, willingly trapped. His stomach rolled uselessly inside of him again, threatening to make him ill, but there was no real reflex that came along with the feeling. Was it nausea or was it something else? The ghost of pain. What had happened? He had gone, hadn't he? He had gone to the harvest festival. He must have gone to the harvest festival, because how could he have been anywhere else? he didn't want to be anywhere else! A part of him must have known, must have been holing onto that secret, or else he would not have tried to cling so stubbornly to these falsified notions. You... you've been missing for the past two days.

No.

Cyril shook his head against Josiah's shoulder slightly, finally, defiantly. No-one's coming. they can't hear you. Josiah can't here you. He's not coming. You're alone and no-one's coming for you. He shuddered a breath almost violently, as if it threatened to be a sob, and was not consciously aware of how his cool fingertips bit into Josiah's flesh. No. Whatever he'd dreamed, whatever had happened, he didn't want to remember it now perhaps. Two days. How could it have been two days? And if it had, what had happened to him in that space of time? It wasn't possible! He didn't want to know! But it was there, whatever it was. That feeling of wrongness. "No... No, I was... I went to..." His voice was a whisper that bordered on a cry, weak but defiant, reluctant. The cold wave of almost recollection came up over him again, the more his mind tried to piece it together, and he shuddered abjectly against Josiah, pushing a hand into his shoulder after a time so that he could sit up some, try to catch his breath. But he did not let go of him. Not again. If he could have, he would have stayed here with Josiah through all eternity, trapped in their own tiny universe that consisted of this living room. And yet, how immense that universe would be with Josiah in it! "I don't remember... I don't... I was..." There was that vacancy to his stare again, as if he was peering right through the room around them, beyond the tangible substance that it was made of, into some other place. Some dark place. There was a coldness there, and emptiness, and just as soon as Cyril felt it pawing at him, he physically recoiled. There was no where for him to go but in upon himself, and he curled up tighter so that he had to bury his face in the edge of the couch cushion instead of against Josiah.

"I was here... I was here..." the conviction in his words was weak, but there was a strain of stubborn defiance to it too as he brought his arms around himself, clutched at himself, doubled over on his knees with his head down against the couch. There was an air about him that had most certainly not been there before tonight, and to Josiah it might be static, the taste of ozonated air in a lightning storm, chilling as the cold winds that descended from the skies. To Cyril it felt like the depths of a winter's night, when all the trees were barren and not a creature was stirring. Just the blank, lifeless cold of still and fallen snow, and a moonless sky. Impenetrable and lonesome silence. 'I was calling out for you.' The last thing he'd said, the last thing he'd thought about. Josiah. And the first thing that had entered his mind. The only pressing need. He wept into the worn and familiar upholstery by Josiah's side, not entirely sure why, and his mind flitted to thoughts of that suit. Hadn't he worn it? Hadn't Josiah been proud and perhaps a little smug to see him in the better tailored evening wear? Hadn't they laughed and exchanged glances across the merriment of the hall during the harvest festival? No.

"Don't... I can't..." Find me. Josiah, find me! "I was there. I was there!" As he cried out into the pillow hoarsely, the dim table lamp nearest to them -the one that had once gone out when Hallowsgate had sent it's demons to torment them- flickered, dimming and brightening with the abrupt volume of his voice, as if threatening to explode again. There was an immense sense of something that seemed to erupt from Cyril's skin like the invisible shockwave of an explosion in slow motion. It was as if his sense of lonely desperation and betrayal had become a tangible thing, threatening to push all of the air out of the room and suffocate them both. He turned his face to the side, a single hand reaching ahead of him to grasp for Josiah, and he choked for a breath. What was this? What had happened? Why did this feel so wrong? How could it all have changed? They were still both here, and he couldn't understand this, any of it! "I was there! I saw you! I saw you... You were smiling." He'd woven the tale to be everything he wanted, the opposite of what had happened. But reality could not be erased, even for as flimsy as it now seemed. It hung over him, a great, oppressive cloud, and it was all the more invasive the more upset he became, trying to sneak it's way into Josiah's head and heart too, poison him, cripple him. This tale was a beautiful dream, spun on the last remaining consciousness of a dying man, a dying wish. But it wasn't true, and no matter how hard Cyril clung to it, he couldn't make it so. And a part of him knew that.

'Tell me... Tell me you remember that. You have to remember it. It was real. It was real! I'm not crazy! ...I'm not. I'm not crazy..."


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PostSubject: Re: Dawn [Josiah]   Fri Sep 14, 2012 6:02 pm

Don't ruin this, Cyril. Don't say anything, not a word. Josiah did not want to talk about what had happened, or what he thought had happened. He had been almost positive of what he'd felt in relation to the facility administrator and his tenuous state of being over the course of the past few days, but now he was second-guessing himself. Reality was playing tricks on him, making him wonder if any of it had been real or if it had been in his head all along. This place had made him half mad, it seemed. How was he to know if and when he finally cracked? It was often said that crazy people didn't know they were crazy; hell, some of Hallowsgate's patients still didn't have a firm understanding of what was wrong with them, in a perpetual state of denial. Either way, was it really smart to ignore his instincts again, as he had first done on the night of the harvest festival? Look how that had turned out. He had gone on a two-day bender, leading to his current position on the couch in their living room, looking at Cyril with bleary, bloodshot eyes and five o'clock shadow, and a fresh set of mental and emotional scars that might never go away. Josiah was well aware that he was more scruffy and unkempt than his companion had ever seen him before, and maybe it could have been avoided if he had listened to his intuition, gone out to find Cyril instead of standing in the ballroom feeling his stomach churn with the terrible certainty that something was wrong and there might be time to fix it. Still, his appearance was the least of his worries. Neither of them were in a position to judge each other in that regard. It was a trivial thing.

What really worried Josiah was the possibility that if they ignored this, the pervading sense of wrongness about the time Cyril was missing, his absent bits of memory and confused demeanor, as well as Josiah's accompanying sense of guilt and unrest over it all, they might never recover from it. Denial was just a tool for procrastination and forgetfulness, and it never held up for long. It had to be debunked sooner or later, and for Josiah, sooner was always better. There were only so many the ways the mind could trick itself into believing something different had occurred than what had actually taken place, but maybe he was underestimating its powers. After all, people believed in a benevolent creator in the sky, and wasn't that crazy, in a way? Wasn't that mankind's biggest hoax, the most laughable delusion humans had ever birthed into being? The mind could be a feeble thing, or it could be uncommonly strong, capable of convincing a man of anything given he wanted to believe it enough, and right now, Cyril seemed ready to believe anything that would put him in Hallowsgate's ballroom the night of the festival. Josiah couldn't let it go on, knowing that it wasn't right, that it would not put them back to where he wanted to be. Could anything get them back to their place in the sun? They'd only had a glimpse of that summer meadow beneath the sweet infinity of clear blue skies, but they had been there once, so there must be some way to get back to it again. He had to find the way, had to bring Cyril there with him, or else they might be lost forever, doomed to wander the shadows, struggling to hold onto each other in the crippling darkness.

“Cyril, stop,” Josiah pleaded, and though his words were quiet, they were imperious and laced with conviction as he pushed himself up on the couch on weak, unsteady arms, rising into a seated position. “You have to believe me. You weren't there, and I wasn't smiling. I knew something was wrong. I felt it... I felt you leave me.” He didn't want to cause Cyril pain by refusing to agree with him, but he couldn't feed into his self-denial, because it would only feed Josiah's too if he let it. Whatever was happening, he owed it to himself to be honest, for both their sakes. “I tried to find you and I couldn't. You just weren't there. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I wish I could tell you otherwise. I wish I could let you believe what you want, tell you it was all a bad dream, but it wouldn't be right. This isn't right. Something happened to you, Cyril. I think you-” Before the tutor could say anything more, he felt lightning crackle on the horizon, smelled the ozone of the coming storm on the air, and his head snapped up, nostrils flaring. He'd been floating down a sea of bourbon and his little boat was about to capsize, vulnerable against the relentless pounding of the waves. Was it approaching or had it already passed? He felt like he'd been living beneath the shadow of fat, ominous rain clouds for weeks, even if he had missed their passage overhead and was only now seeing them move off into the distance, soaked to the skin and shivering. Something was coming for him, and he was sure that he recognized it somehow, that he had felt it before, but he was still helpless, now as then, to do anything to delay it or prepare for it. It hit him with all the earth-shattering impact of a missile, and all he could do in reaction to the fallout was twitch weakly, once, against the tortured, musty couch cushions before he toppled like a chess piece, limbs jerking alive without conscious thought or decision.

Cyril's defiance and anger, those things were the storm, and Josiah was tapped into it, unable to extricate the tangle of his mind from the facility administrator's. The other man's discomfort was his own, but it was more than human now, wielding an unearthly, intangible force of strength Josiah wasn't capable of comprehending or withstanding. His synapses fired, nerves bursting into flame, his mind flickering urgently; that too was as much a slave to electrical impulses as the lamp on the stand, its light dimly weaving in and out of the backdrop. He lost his ability to see, to hear, to think, a prisoner in his own body as it seized, wracked and dehydrated limbs subject to violent spasms he would feel in the soreness of his muscles later. He was locked out of himself, trapped in the darkness again, and this time, what he saw in the interim, instead of the ghost of Hallowsgate long past, was a clearer vision of the elevator shaft Cyril had been sent hurtling down. Josiah was looking over the edge, gazing at a long vertical corridor of nothingness in front of his feet, the ringing of childlike laughter echoing through the rafters behind him. Cyril, no! Don't go in there! But it was too late, he already had, and he was dying, he was dead... oh god, he was dead! The man who had returned to him tonight felt different because he was no longer alive. Josiah had been right all along, and he had trampled on the last straw that would keep him from denying it to himself, or Cyril, any longer. It didn't matter if neither of them were ready to confront the unforgiving blow of the truth. Did they have any other, better choice?

He didn't know how long the seizure lasted, or exactly what happened during it. All he knew was that he came out of it some time later, and it could have been minutes or hours; he had no way of knowing as he thrashed against the couch, his body ready to do his bidding again. Josiah gasped as if he had been drowning, struggling to sit upright and arrange his limbs into a position that would let him reach blindly for Cyril if he wasn't already hovering over him in consternation and concern. He babbled like a mad thing, his eyes rolling wildly in his skull, as if he was trapped at the bottom of that elevator shaft with his lover, fighting to dig him out from underneath a crushing pile of rubble with mangled, useless fingers. The place Cyril loved most had betrayed him, killed him. What were they going to do? When enough sense had come back into him that his lips could shape more than unintelligible sounds of misery and awful comprehension, he nearly choked on the words that pushed their way up his throat. Reaching his tongue, they rolled off of it much too smoothly, as if some part of him had always known he'd have to say them one day. “It was the elevator, Cyril! The elevator! You're not crazy, you're just... you're dead.” In those moments, he didn't have the sense or presence of mind to put it more delicately.

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PostSubject: Re: Dawn [Josiah]   Sat Sep 15, 2012 9:45 pm



It was not so much Josiah's words that brought Cyril back out of himself, teetering back from the cliff's edge, though he seemed to feel the words and understand them implicitly, more than he recollected hearing them. What roused his stricken face from the edge of the couch was the feeling of Josiah tensing, twitching, as if Cyril too sensed the oncoming storm mere seconds before it blacked out the sun and tore their tiny universe apart. Am I crazy? Is that what this is? Am I really crazy after all? Have I been crazy this whole time? He drew in a sharp breath though he didn't understand why yet, lifting himself from the couch's edge to pin Josiah with a dark, probing look. What was going on? Why had a darker sense of foreboding materialised in the pit of his stomach? He was about to open his mouth to speak something along those lines, to ask what it was, what was wrong, but he never made it that far before Josiah slid to the side, his limbs all coming alive with tense, jerking shakes. Cyril's own confusion and misery seemed to dry up like a drop of water splattered onto a skillet, and he froze for a second before instinct took over, and had him reaching for the tutor. For as dazed and half vacant as Cyril was, he was a doctor, or had been one, and he knew a seizure when he saw one. Was this the remnants of what had happened in the north wing? Was Josiah more ill than the doctors had been able to tell? What if he had a brain injury? They should call an ambulance, shouldn't they? Without thinking consciously about it, Cyril took a hold of Josiah's shoulder firmly, and tugged him fully over onto his side, mindful to fend off the wild movements of his arms and not be hit. The nature of his panic now was entirely different, cool and sharp as the edge of a knife. His hollow expression took on tones of fear and concern as he wheeled around on his knees to find something he could wedge between Josiah's teeth, to keep him from clenching them, breaking them or suffocating. What was this, and why did he feel that coldness lapping about them, that strange, empty darkness?

"Josiah..." He murmured in abject distress and concern, turning back to him with the first acceptable thing he could find, which was Josiah's leather wallet. Reaching for him again, he slipped in close, past the shaking of his arms, and took his face in a hand and a half, prying his chin downward with his fingers just enough to slip the edge of the wallet between immaculate, white teeth. His breath came quick and shallow as he stayed there, Josiah's head clasped carefully between his hands. What could he do? What should he do? Why was this happening? What nightmare had he become trapped in? Wake up! This wasn't real, couldn't be. It felt like a nightmare, as if some malevolent but invisible presence was hanging over them, making him want to run from the monsters in the dark. "Josiah... Josiah, wake up..." He didn't know how long this lasted either, though it must have been at least a minute if not two, and by the time Josiah seemed to return to the land of the living, Cyril was inches from his face, his own set in lines of terrified concern and remorse. What had this place done to them both, and why? How? Why! He moved when Josiah did, flinching away from the tutors wheeling arm slightly as it knocked against his shoulder. But he didn't recoil, only grasped him by the shoulders again and helped him to sit up. It if was possible -which it might not have seemed a few minute ago- Cyril was even paler now, the 'blood' having drained from his face under the weight of his nauseating worry. "Wake up.. Stop, calm down! Calm down." Though Josiah was babbling and reeling, he kept a firm hold on him, propping himself with one knee up on the couch, next to the tutor. This was not happening to them. Couldn't be. He wanted to wake up in his bed, curled against Josiah's side. Please...

You're not crazy, you're just... you're dead. What the hell kind of cruel trick of his subconscious was this anyway? And why couldn't he wake up? Why? Josiah, of all people... Why would he say that, how could he say that? Jet as he stared into the tutor's bereft face, the sound of his words echoed around in his mind, as if shouted down that very elevator shaft he spoke of. Flashes of it came jolting back to him, to fast to really make out behind his eyes. That cold memory of agony. The terrible desperation in which he had awoken, groping in the darkness of his old room in the children's ward. He moved to shake his head, but what happened instead was against his conscious will. He recoiled, jerking his hands back in brutal denial. The force with which he pulled himself backwards sent him staggering fully to his feet, and the backs of his knees knocked into the edge of the coffee table, almost sending him tumbling right over the top of it. Instead, he wound up sitting down, hard, on the wooden surface, feeling his bones jar. "No," he spluttered. Wake up! Wild already, his hair waved around the sides of his face, tangled, as he shook his head with a vehemence that left the room spinning for a moment. "Why are you..? Why would you say..?" He felt his stomach roll again, glimpses of the last light of day coming back to him, distant, as if down a long, dark tunnel. He heard his own, weak voice call back to him, echoing from too many floors, bouncing from the closed elevator doors above. Help me... "No. You're wrong!" Taking on an angry note, bitter denial, Cyril jerked to point a finger at Josiah in defiance, and shot to his feet with new found determination. He wouldn't believe that. He couldn't. It was too cruel, too painful, and even if Josiah reached out for him now, he wouldn't be able to stop Cyril from storming away from the couch, toward the bedroom door.

He wasn't sure what he expected to find. The suit shouldn't be there, he reasoned. If he'd worn it to the festival, it shouldn't be there. But there indeed it was, the jacket crumpled, the slacks disturbed but still laid out. Shirt. Tie. Dress shoes by the edge of the bed, waiting. Just where he'd put them. What was going on? Why was this happening to him. "Wake up. Wake up!" Why won't I wake up? Josiah, wake me up, wake me up! Get me out of here! Clawed fingers wove through the hair at the sides of his head and pushed fingertips against his skull with a bruising intensity as he stared at the scene, the broken lamp in the corner, the disturbed bed sheets and crumpled suit jacket. You know why... "No. No, no. This isn't... I'm not... Wake up. Wake up. I can't..." He looked and sounded, for all intents and purposes, like a mad man as he stood there, overseeing this scene. He was reeling between his concern for Josiah, and what had happened to him, and the cruel press of reality, of realisation. With bitter desperation, he clung to his denial, to his perfect, mismatched puzzle picture. But all of his pretty dreams were starting to dissolve, as the real missing pieces began to show up. Simon... Don't leave me here. You can't leave me here! Josiah! Help me! Someone, god... Someone! Many hours ago, Josiah had taken out his despair on the standing lamp next to the bed, but had reined himself in enough not to inflict his torture on the rest of the room. Now Cyril wheeled on his feet to finish that job for him, his angry and bereft cry thunderous as his jutted out his arms and shoved a stack of nick-knacks, papers, and toiletries from the top of the tall dresser. They all went clattering, items smashing and bouncing or rolling across the hardwood, to be joined shortly thereafter by the distinctive smashing of glass, where Cyril pulled the vanity mirror from the wall and threw it with a force he didn't know he had. It hit the nearby wall, denting the horsehair plaster and breaking the wooden frame in the process. It sounded like a tornado had hit the bedroom for a few moments, and Cyril didn't notice the lights going out, as the bulbs whispered and then popped in their sockets. This wasn't happening. He was determined to wake up. He had to wake up. "Wake me up! Josiah, wake me up! Wake up! God! Wake up!"


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PostSubject: Re: Dawn [Josiah]   Sat Sep 15, 2012 10:59 pm

For the most part, Josiah was an honest person, but he usually balanced the conviction of his knowledge and opinions with tact and compassion. When he came out of the seizure, he had no filter to put it more gently to Cyril. He knew what he had seen, what he had felt, and if Cyril was wounded to hear it, he had no idea how awful and guilty Josiah felt for having to say it, and also for having ignored his instincts that first terrible night. Could this have all been avoided? He had no idea how. If Cyril had been down at the bottom of that elevator shaft the whole time, there was no way Josiah could have found him, no way he could have pulled him out short of throwing himself down there to join him, and then he'd be just as stuck, crippled by the fall. Was it better to die together? It was a hopelessly cliché, melodramatic construct, more fit for lonely, suicidal teenagers who were in love with the idea of tragic, eternal love, but for a moment Josiah almost wished he had been there with Cyril. Nobody should have to die alone. He didn't want to die, didn't want to be stuck at Hallowsgate indefinitely, if he even came back from beyond the veil, but it pained him to think of Cyril stuck in that dark place alone. I have to find you. Don't go without me.

He winced as Cyril scrambled backwards, away from the couch, nearly toppling over the coffee table before he sat down heavily on it. The tremors were still lingering in Josiah's shuddering, feverish frame, making his arms and legs twitch and fidget, his fingers restlessly tapping against his knees as he hunched over them, trying to catch his breath. He'd spit out the leather wallet as soon as he'd come awake, and it was resting beside his thigh now, a mundane reminder that there was a world outside of this cottage, this tiny universe that had been corrupted somehow. "I'm not wrong," he wheezed, cringing away from Cyril's accusatory, jabbing finger. "I saw it. I was there just now! I felt the darkness..." Biting his tongue to keep from saying more, knowing he didn't have anything to say that was as comforting as Cyril wanted it to be, Josiah cowered against the couch cushions, pulling his knees up to his chest. He wanted to stop Cyril, to tell him not to do what he was planning, instinctively knowing what it would be before he heard the crashes coming from the bedroom. This has to be a bad dream. It has to be! Wake up, Josiah... Wake him up... "I can't!" He wailed aloud into the bereft silence of the living room, unaware that he was talking to himself. "I don't know what to do!" Winding his fingers into his hair, he tugged at the fine strands at his temples, as if that jar could him out of this nightmare, make it all go away somehow. He wanted to be comforted, unable to fathom what he should do, but Cyril was a mess, he was a mess, and he couldn't seem to get his legs to work. If he could have, he would have stood and made his way to the bedroom, to stand in the doorway and tell Cyril to come out, stop throwing things, reassure him that there was a way they could figure this all out. But if there was, he didn't know what it might be, and he wouldn't lie to Cyril, even if the truth hurt.

Josiah knew that he had seen the suit laid out on the bed as soon as he heard the first crash, wrinkled but otherwise pristine and unworn. He heard Cyril crying out, echoing the nature of his own thoughts, his desperation to find a way out of this. He would have given anything to be able to pinch himself awake and find that this was all an elaborate, vivid nightmare, that he was sleeping peacefully in the bed beside Cyril, his lips pressed into the hollow of his shoulder, the warmth of his arm heavy and slack against his, the lamp in one piece on the nightstand beside him. No matter how much he willed reality to come sweeping back in and show him a different picture, abolishing the present moment and rendering it a mere figment of his imagination, he knew it was impossible. This was reality, and no amount of wishing could change that. The only thing to do was move forward. He didn't know how, but maybe something would come to him if he started by putting one foot in front of the other. It took several long, agonizing seconds for Josiah to unfold his limbs from their cramped position and push his hands against the couch cushions in an attempt to stand. His knees were shaking, weak and unreliable, but his need to get to Cyril overcame his body's determined efforts to send him hurtling back down to the couch. If he let that happen, he might not be able to get up again, and he couldn't leave Cyril alone, nor could he bear to sit there and be parted from him for too long. A part of him was frightened to see the havoc Cyril had wreaked on the bedroom, frightened of what more he might do, but he wasn't frightened of him. Josiah knew that Cyril would never hurt him.

Feeling faint and feeble from the lack of food in his system, the nauseating presence of too much alcohol, and the seizure that had wracked him scant minutes ago, Josiah shuffled around the side of the couch slowly, crossing the room on bare feet that dragged across the carpet. Every agonizing step felt like miles, but he was determined to get there, not wanting to be helpless, useless. The last thing Cyril needed was for Josiah to be a burden on him; he had enough of those already, and it would have been an understatement to say that he wasn't taking them at all well. It wasn't that Josiah didn't understand, but the longer he flat-out denied it to himself, the more it hurt every time he had to tell him otherwise. He didn't want to argue with Cyril, didn't want to see the lines of confusion and anger written on his face when he looked at him, but he couldn't lie to him either. There were times when he was sure he'd told a white lie here and there, but when it was important, truth surfaced on his lips, etched in the sincere lines of his face. Josiah couldn't deceive Cyril in word or in deed. His lips wouldn't lie for him, nor would his tortured expression. Maybe it would have been easier to tell him that it was alright, that it had just been a bad dream and they'd gone to the harvest festival together, smiling and laughing, but Josiah was simply incapable of doing it. Cyril deserved to have his fairy tales, his dreams and self-spun stories, but in the end, it would only hurt more than help both of them.

Wincing, he leaned heavily against the door frame of the bedroom, feeling the renewed crackle of tension on the air. The lights had all gone out, but Josiah could see Cyril silhouetted in the dim yellow glow leaking in from the other rooms. All the lights in the house had been on before Cyril had found his way there, as if Josiah had been hoping they could act as a beacon to guide him home. His head throbbed, his muscles threatening to seize and send him tumbling again, but somehow, he was able to keep the sensation at bay, calling on the thinnest thread of consciousness to obey him, to not do that to him again. Resting a shoulder against the door frame, Josiah brought his hands to his head and squeezed, as if he could push the pain out, then took several steps into the room, wishing his gait could be more steady and confident. He wanted to exorcise the demons in Cyril's heart, in his soul, in his head, but the most he could do was position himself in front of him, taking care to step over the scattered wreckage on the floor, and take his shoulders in his hands, knowing he couldn't really hold him there if he didn't want to be touched or crowded. Josiah wasn't actively thinking about what he was doing or about to say; he just did it, moving his hands from Cyril's shoulders to the sides of his face, willing him to look into his eyes. "If I could wake you up I would," he whispered, voice despondent and mournful. "But I don't think I can." Maybe it would help if he at least said it, repeated words he didn't really believe would do anything to help. "Wake up, Cyril. Wake up. I'm here. You're here. Wake up and see me." Desperately, he closed the millimeters between their faces, kissing him with bourbon-stained lips. Cyril might push him away, might reel from him and refuse it, but for a moment, it briefly occurred to Josiah what a relief it was that he could still do this much.

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Dr. Cyril H. Darling

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PostSubject: Re: Dawn [Josiah]   Sun Sep 16, 2012 12:10 am



With the items piled on top of the dresser strewn across the room, dotted with shards of mirror that winked and twinkled in the light from the doorway, Cyril hadn't stopped. His rage had become an almost tangible thing, that force which had dogged him throughout his life, moved and motivated too many of his actions. It had clouded him from birth, born of neglect, hatred for the people who had created him and left him to the whims of the world, helpless, a babe. In death, that hate and rage flooded through him with a power he couldn't have explained in words, had never quite felt before, or at least not in a long time. It was the feeling of betrayal all over again, fashioned into a single memorable point, rather than distant recollections of cigarette-burned carpets, and the saccharine, plastic smell of crack cocaine and amphetamines on the air. He could picture the twin, bottomless pools of Simon's eyes now as if he was standing there still, waiting for the ancient, seized elevator brakes to snap loose of their channels. He had been hurt and betrayed in the worst possible way, and perhaps that was what he felt now. That and his hatred of himself, that he had brought these people here, that he had been so stupid, so blind. Before Josiah could pry himself from the couch and make it to the doorway, Cyril had turned his rampage of destruction on the next nearest available breakables, and his own nightstand bore the brunt of it, the second lamp smashed into the wall, the drawer tumbling out as he grabbed the narrow stand and yanked it over on its side. It was only when he felt the press of Josiah's presence at his back that he calmed, the blinding, red rage muting back into a suffocating blackness. His limbs all went still. How could he hope to process this? How could he make any sense of it? How could he ever move forward, think of the future? He didn't have one any more, did he? He had died in this place, and now, whatever would be Hallowsgate's fate might be his own.

He heard Josiah moving slowly through the wreckage behind him, but he did not move, standing with his hands coiled into fists at his side and his back to the door. His shoulders and chest heaved with each desperate breath that he supposed he might not need any more. If this was a nightmare, maybe he would never wake. Even if he was sleeping, maybe he'd died in his sleep, suffocated somehow. When he closed his eyes, he saw that place again, felt the recollection shimmer through his insides again as a dull, white hot pain. Broken ribs, maybe a broken back. He couldn't tell. It all hurt the same, all at once, and he whimpered against ti quietly as Josiah stepped around him and pulled his attention back to the possible here and now. Cyril imagined that maybe he was in hell. Maybe Hallowsgate was hell after all. But if that was true, how could Josiah be here? it couldn't be hell, if the tutor was still with him. But it couldn't be heaven either, if he was to be trapped in this place forever more. Coming back to Hallowsgate had been a choice, and he had been enthusiastic about it because it had been his decision. If this was all real, if there was a chance that he could never leave this place now... His expression dissolved into misery as Josiah took his face between his hands, called to him to wake up, and a quiet, helpless sob took him over, squeezing tears out from his eyes as he screwed them shut again. His shoulders shook with each hiccuped breath. Wake up, Cyril. Wake up. I'm here. You're here. Wake up and see me. He whimpered into the kiss, felt a grounding tug that wasn't physical at all, somehow. He wasn't sure how to describe it, only that he felt snatched back from the edge again, but not fully... here.

"...I can't." He croaked weakly. Try as he might to wake from this nightmare, he sensed it now. he couldn't. he didn't know what he was or what had happened, but he knew, deep in his being, that this was it. That he was here now. That he would never again be back where they had been, alive, vital, happy, free. The pieces were still scattered, the sequence of events not there for him to see, to pick apart. Josiah knew more than he did, perhaps, having seen back through that dark ether, via the tortured spirit at his side. Whatever the north wing had left the tutor with, it seemed able to peel back the layers of time itself, as if Josiah could open all of the secret doorways and passages, and crawl right through to the bones of Hallowsgate, and those who had died here. Grief washed unrepentant over Cyril, crawled insistently through Josiah's palms and fingertips, to coil up his arms and threaten to drag him down too. Cyril gasped quietly for a breath, but it was muscle memory. Was he even here? What did any of this mean? How did this happen? How could he be standing there? Was it all just in his head, his own private afterlife? What if none of this was real? What if he was dreaming, still trapped at the bottom of that abandoned elevator shaft, bleeding into his own broken body?

"I was calling out for you..." Trembling, his fingers uncurled from fists and tentatively reached out to find Josiah's sides, the touch light, almost afraid. "In the dream... In the dream, I was calling out for you. I was... I was trapped somewhere, in the dark, and no-one was there. He left me there." But it wasn't a dream, was it? These fleeting, isolated fragments of memory. It wasn't a dream. but none of this could be happening, could it? Why me? Why me? Cursed from the cradle, he thought. Cursed and branded, broken, unworthy. The simple happiness he found in Josiah wasn't for him. Hallowsgate had known that, decided it. You know why... A low moan of anguish bloomed somewhere in the pit of his stomach and forced its way out of him, wretched and guttural. "This isn't... Josiah... I can't be..." What do I do now? What's going to happen? "Everything's wrong. All of this is wrong. What if i'm still there? What if this is a dream? What if you're not real? What if no-one finds me... I can't go back..." Go back where? Where was I? His head shook slightly between Josiah's hands, moment before he simply folded into him, burying his face in his shoulder as if he could blot out the world, deny its existence. There he wept quietly, a broken, weak sound, and Cyril's neglected t-shirt wicked away the tears that leaked free of him. Were his tears even real any more, or just made of the same ether as everything else at Hallowsgate?


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Josiah Rudolph

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PostSubject: Re: Dawn [Josiah]   Sun Sep 16, 2012 1:28 am

They had to get out of this room. It was only a matter of time before Josiah stumbled, unsure of how much longer he could stand still, stay upright, and then he might cut his foot on a shard of broken glass, or worse. What if he had another seizure? What if Cyril, in his dejected, miserable state, hardly in the present, couldn't catch him fast enough to keep him from falling? What if he cracked his head again, jarred something loose in his brain, and had to go back to the hospital? Who would take him? Cyril, being dead and bound to this place, wouldn't be able to leave the grounds. Josiah didn't know what would happen once they reached the front gates, if they tried to go. Would Cyril simply disappear, leaving Josiah alone with no one to drive him into Charleston? Would he have to leave the car puttering on the drive and make his own way to the medical wing, bleeding internally, collapsing on the front steps before he could get that far? It was a scenario he didn't want to contemplate, but he couldn't help but think of everything else that could go horribly wrong, as if he and Cyril hadn't suffered enough trauma already. Hallowsgate had it out for both of them; clearly, it wasn't just him anymore. Everything that could go wrong would if they gave it the chance. What was the worst that could happen to him now, aside from death? And wouldn't it be sweet, in a way, if it happened? If that was the penultimate, then what did he really have to fear at this point? Even as he thought it, he knew it wasn't entirely true that he no longer had anything to be afraid of. He did have a life outside of Hallowsgate, if he wanted it, had people back in Georgia who would suffer if he was snatched out of the world at too young an age, his full potential unrealized. He couldn't let it happen to him, couldn't put them through that. Still, that world, and that life, were no longer for him. How could he ever leave this place, knowing what he knew, and in love with a ghost, of all things? God, how fucked up was he? Why couldn't he just be normal? Why couldn't he walk away?

Cradling Cyril's face between his hands, he felt the cool wash of his breath through his nose, bathing his upper lip like frost on a windowsill. How was he breathing? Was any of this real? As cold as his breath was, threatening to freeze their lips together, how could it be happening if he wasn't alive? Josiah didn't know. Nothing about this made any sense, but he supposed he had relinquished his grip on logic and reason the day he'd gone out to the north wing, subsequently gifted - or cursed - with glimpses into the past he shouldn't have been able to access, and could have never hoped to do on his own. The past was the past, he had always believed that, but somehow the past was present now too. His whole world view had been flipped upside down in the following days, and coming to terms with it was easier said than done, something he was still struggling with. The past - Hallowsgate's past in particular - had never gone away, it seemed, and now it resided in him as much as it resided in those haunted and hollow halls. Something strange had happened in the abandoned therapy room he'd found himself in, something that had given him a direct line to the entity that was Hallowsgate and everything it comprised, including memories of time long gone by and spectres that refused to leave, and he'd be damned if he knew how to explain it to himself, let alone anyone else. It just was, and he had to accept that, because it appeared he was stuck with it, for better or for worse. He didn't want it, didn't want any of this, wanted to go back to those days in the sun with Cyril, when they had both been alive and full of new hope, but maybe he was embellishing his recollections to make them better than they actually were. After all, nothing had ever been easy for them, plagued at every turn by this phantom or that. Josiah had refused to be dragged down by everything that had happened to him, but maybe he should have let it take him. Had Hallowsgate gone after Cyril because it couldn't have him? If they couldn't have the tutor, they would take the next best thing, the man who meant the most to him. It was needlessly cruel, but there was no changing it. Josiah wasn't sure if he would have changed anything anyway, because maybe things would have turned out the same no matter what he'd done. He had always had the keen and unexplained foresight to know nothing could ever be ideal at the refurbished asylum, but he had stayed nonetheless. Perhaps this was his punishment for not listening to the intangible voices that had been telling him to get out since he'd first arrived.

Cyril felt real, he felt alive, and though Josiah didn't know why, he wasn't in a place to question it at length. All he knew was that he was unspeakably grateful for the ability to hold his face and kiss him as before, even if his skin was uncommonly pale and clammy, even if his lips were nearly insubstantial, as light as gossamer. It almost seemed as if they solidified, taking on greater weight and shape beneath Josiah's own, as if he was the only thing making Cyril real and keeping him here. Cyril spoke against his lips then, a thin and broken sound, and Josiah bowed his forehead against his, eyelids fluttering against his cheeks, a lonesome whistle of breath escaping him as his fingertips scraped lightly at Cyril's temples, the sides of his jaw, feeling familiar stubble and the tickle of his tangled hair. He could have wept at the substance of him, still fearing he might disappear at any moment, slipping through his fingers like sand. Josiah gasped, the warmth of his own breath snaking out to caress Cyril's face as it collapsed on the exhale, coiling out of him painfully. Everything hurt, even breathing, and he didn't know if he'd ever feel genuine pleasure again, pure and untouchable, or any other emotion or sensation that wasn't bittersweet with the remembered longing of how things could have been. He swallowed hard against the tightness in his throat, tasting tears, but he didn't think he had any left to shed. He would have cried with Cyril if he could have, because the grief that passed through his skin and into Josiah's fingertips was paralyzing, making him wish he knew of an easy way to get rid of it. Letting it go, giving it up to the night, was a skill he had yet to learn, and maybe he never would, far too sensitive to ignore another's pain. The fact that it was Cyril's made it all the more difficult to distance himself from, absorbing it as if it were his own. It made him shiver and squirm, the touch of Cyril's fingers against his sides simultaneously grounding him.

"I've got you," Josiah murmured. "I've got you, and I promise you I'm real. I wish it was a dream, because then I could take you out of it, take you away from this place." As Cyril curled into his shoulder, weeping, Josiah slumped against him too, letting his hands fall from his face down to his shoulders, and then around to his back, where he held him tightly, stroking up and down the length of his spine in slow, soothing motions, as a parent might strive to comfort a child after a nightmare. He had done this very same thing with Ian before, but it wasn't the same with Cyril, who was not a child, and whose connection with Josiah was much different. They were intimate, they were lovers - in a sense - and the tendrils of Josiah's mind reached out with warm and smoky fingers to touch the disturbed parts of Cyril's that were struggling to hold onto something real, the faint and lingering manifestations of a life he had known before. Without knowing what he was doing, or how, Josiah focused on pouring all of himself into Cyril, connecting to his energy and combining it with his own, radiating what meagre light he still had to offer. It wasn't much, because he was just as haunted and tortured as the other man, but it was something. He offered healing at any cost to himself, strengthening the cord that bound them to one another by recalling every untainted moment they had shared, willing Cyril to remember too, to not be afraid. Josiah didn't expect that there was any conceivable way he could make Cyril feel better, but it wasn't for lack of trying, and after he had held him for a time, letting him cry until he was exhausted from it, he spoke quietly into the charged, chaotic silence. "Come on, let's go sit down, or get you cleaned up. We shouldn't stay in here." Cyril was filthy, and Josiah wasn't in much better shape, knowing he should at least run a washcloth over his own face. It was a task to devote himself to when he was trying not to think about what they were going to do, how they were going to recover from this.

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