Eatcha Heart out

Eatcha Heart out

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Introduction

Please read the rules before you read the whole story and decide whether this is the roleplay for you. Please.

A pretty manor house sprawled out in the hills. Not exactly secluded, but by no means in the center of town. It is said that a rich, handsome young man lives there with only a butler for company.

“Well, that isn’t entirely true. I am rich, and handsome, but by no means young anymore. Also, James is all that much company wise. He is great at cleaning though, which is great because I have a tendency to play with my food before I eat it.”

This dashing young man hosts many high-scale galas. Anyone lucky enough to receive an invitation instantly goes up in social standing. Although, there have been a few strange deaths and disappearances connected with these dances.

“No one seems to realize that I’m the one behind everything. Those foolish humans still flock to my parties, ripe for the picking. Some of them even pay me for invitations. I always have a good laugh over that, right James?”

Most of these mysterious deaths have been written off a unfortunate accidents. A bear attack, or maybe a couple ran off and eloped. The attacks are usually too scattered to be from the balls themselves. Or at least, that is what thought the attendees of the galas cling to. Because these dances are so spectacular, so wonderful, so extravagant.

"I host so many dances, and guests only go missing every couple parties, so connecting me to the disappearances would be quite a stretch for the stupid humans. Especially since they cling to the parties like desperate leeches. Although, I did cut it rather close this time, taking five humans in the same day. I managed to convince everyone that they hadn’t even come to the party. And they lapped it right up, wasn’t it hilarious James? But it will be worth all the effort. I have made up a delicious game for them to play so I can get my souls in a timely manner.”


The truth of the whole matter is that the young man is actually a soul eater, once an unearthly being (know as an angel to you humans), but he committed a sin and was promptly cast from the heavenly realm. He was forced to live as an animal, given a weak human form and a mad desire for the life force of humans. A hunger for souls.

“Oh yes, the higher ups were very displeased with me. Honestly, I don’t even remember what I did to deserve demotion. I just remember my first human experience of pain. Human bodies experience pain much more easily than my old body did, and tearing out my tongue wasn’t the gentlest way to introduce me to such agony. Even if I was still immortal in the human body, pain still hurt. And that hunger. It was so horrible. It made me go mad because it was so intense but so hard to satisfy. James can vouch for me on this one. ”

Soul eaters are the dirt of society. The speechless beasts kill human after human, searching for an edible soul, not sane enough to realize that any human killed by a soul eater would have their soul reincarnated instantly, thus depriving the beast of its meal. Souls are only free for a soul eater to consume in the few seconds between a human’s death from a earthly cause and when the grim reaper collects it to deliver it to the proper place.


“I guess the higher ups decided that the possibilities of this happening were so slim that it would happen only sparingly, and the fallen being would suffer from eternal madness. But I bested the system, oh yes. I came across a burning village, a village where all the occupants were slated to die. I feasted that night, stuffing myself with souls. It resorted me to a rational state, although I don’t think I’ll ever be as clever as I once was, or as composed, but I managed to keep myself satisfied by making a deal with the Grim Reaper. He let me have parts of the death list, the list that tells when, where, and how humans are going to die. Then I could just stalk the humans that would die soon until they kick the bucket, and then snatch their souls. Life was good then, eh James?”


The Grim Reaper and the soul eating beast came to an unspoken agreement. The seemingly young man made the Reaper’s job easier, and the Reaper kept it a secret and provided the fallen being with an constantly updated list of choice life force.


“Oh, that was a good life, but it got old quickly. I hated living like an animal after the first joys of ridding myself of the maddening hunger wore off. I had nothing, and I couldn’t communicate with the humans at all. They were all terrified of me. I was nothing more than a glorified animal. I moved with the prey, I was what humans would call an albino, which was feared and thought to be one with the devil, and I was a monster. Most of the dead bodies I got the souls from I also ended up eating as nourishment for my human body, to make me stronger. But then I met James. He was a fifteen year old boy, slated to die with the rest of his family in a fire. I liked him immediately. He had such a beautiful voice. And he was a hard worker, he had guts, and he was very spirited. I wanted him, so I made him mine. I force fed him his sister’s soul as he lay dying because I’d already stolen his tongue, and he was mine. You still are, right James?”


After his acquisition of the young man, a boy he gave the name James, the creature took on the human name Drake, and wormed his way into the budding society of England. Death was very common there, and Drake and his companion thrived. James would remain immortal as long as he consumed souls regularly, but could not catch his food source on his own. He was tied to Drake by need, just as Drake had intended.

“Well, that was quite a bit about me. A bit too much if you ask me. I would have been fine and dandy if we’d stopped after the ‘dashing young man’ bit. Who came up with this idea anyway? I thought I was just here to explain the rules of the game. Not to pour out my whole life story for the world to hear. No, I’m not complaining. Yes. No. Fine, I’ll get on with it. No need to get annoyed with me. Can’t you cut me some slack? Whatever. James? Write out the rules. It’ll be faster that way. You remember them all, right? Make it clear and simple, okay? Good boy.”


  • Five rooms, all connected by one hall.
  • Five Humans.
  • No escaping.
  • Freedom for the last man standing. (Not really. But they don’t know that.)
  • Doors have broken locks.
  • Daggers are provided.
  • Or you can make your own shiv. That would be okay.
  • We also provide Forearm blades.
  • Or razors.
  • But you have to bring your own fear. Sorry. We are fresh out.
  • There is plenty of glass. And heavy objects too.
  • We will give you enough rope to hang yourself, but we’d prefer if you hung someone else.
  • You have permission to commit homicide. We won’t turn you in.
  • This is the Game. You’ve lost it, even before you began.
  • With a constant flow of fresh life force, it could go on forever.


(This roleplay takes place in Victorian England. Yes you may talk with a bad English accent now.)

Players

Pieluver-Drake Stewart-still alive and killing James Butler-As living as he'll ever be.

BekaL101- Monica Hargreaves-dead Edward Williams-dead


Seijun13- Tom Oliver-dead Alexander Enfield- ...Dead? Or maybe not. Hassen Heindrick-Still mostly alive, woo!

Toki Skwigelf(Inactive)- Gepetto Castle-dead

SeraphicStar- Esther Hathaway-dead

SunshinexDeath- Deget Carmona-dead Suibhne Tadhg-dead


SeraphicStar made this lovely picture of all the characters from the first round.

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Bio sheet

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Age: (I’d prefer humans ages 18 to 35, because Drake favors the flavors of souls around those ages.)
Personality: (Make it as long as you want. Three words or three thousand. Just give the gist or explain everything. But keep in mind that your character will die, so don't pour hours upon hours of work into it.)
Appearance: (Any kind of picture along with a short description. Or a long one without the picture. Add weight, height, all that kind of stuff.)
Likes/dislikes/other: (Anything else you’d like to add. This isn’t mandatory.)
Short history: (What brought them up to this point. Make it however long you want. But please, keep in mind that you will make more than one character over the course of this roleplay.)

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It had been easier than killing a dead sheep to get the five humans to walk straight into the trap of their own accord. All Drake had to do was lay on some charm and explain to them that he was worried about all the disappearances that had occurred lately, so he was asking his guests to come up five at a time and mark their names off on the list of guests. James had guided the humans, two males and three females, up the wide sweeping stairs to the game board and locked the door behind him. Easier than taking a soul from a child. Or a tongue for that matter.

Hopefully they were all uneasy by now, after ten minutes or so of standing about on the game board. Drake flipped the latches up deftly with one sleek white finger and slipped through, giving the heavy oaken door a good kick to lock it back. His eyes flicked across the five faces before him. James was standing off to one side, his eyes fixed on a point on the far wall. He’d lined them all up in a row, like he was told. Good boy.

The five of them were standing in the middle of the short hall, in between the first set of doors and the second in the hall, and James was standing next to the last door at the end. The enormous Parisian rug on the floor, with its white and crimson pattern softened Drake’s steps as he moved to stand in front of his new guests.

The rooms themselves only had hard wood floors underneath the fancy four-poster beds and each even had its own dresser with two tunics, a couple pairs of loose leggings, and various weapons. Pretty nice for livestock. But Drake liked to provide only the best for his food. It was only good form to provide good service, so long as they didn’t get blood all over the sheets or the curtains.

“Welcome friends, humans, guests, what have you. I am glad you five could make it over today. How Have you enjoyed the gala so far?” Drake paused amiably for little under half a second before continuing. “Delightful, yes, I’m glad you all have enjoyed it. Now, down to business. I’m sure you all are wondering what you are doing here, and who these others are. I’m positive you already know me and little James though.

“So, let me introduce you all.” Drake strolled to the young woman to the far left, a brunette little doll of a woman.

“This is Esther Hathaway. She will be occupying this room right here.” Drake pointed at the room on the left, one of the two nearest to the exit. He put his hand briefly on her shoulder before moving on to the slightly taller blonde woman next to her.

“And this miss is Monica Hargreaves. She will have the room opposite to Miss Hathaway. I hope you two ladies will get along.” He said with a grin. Then he moved on to the next person, a petite man with blonde hair, putting a hand on both his shoulders as he stood behind him, dwarfing him by over a head.

“This is Gepetto Castle. He has the room next to Miss Hathaway. Play nice, you two.” Drake said, clapping the young man on the shoulder before moving on to the next man.

“You, my friend, will have the room across from Mister Castle, Tom Oliver.” He said eyeing the man as he strode behind him. Bleah, why did he pick this one to bring in? His soul had little of radiance that signified flavor. Hopefully he’d kill off most of the others before he died.

“Ah, and here is miss Deget Carmona. I knew your brother, did he get home alright? He was a sweet man, James got on with him quite well. Poor boy was sad to see him go. Oh, and you have the room on the end.” Drake said grinning widely as he spoke. Oh, how he loved a good bit of irony. And wouldn’t it be delightful if Zeke’s sister tasted just as good as he had.

Then he moved back to the exit, catching James by the arm and dragging him along as well. He turned and stood again in front of them, holding James aloft by the collar of his jacket. James stared at the ground, not making eye contact with any of the humans.

“Time for some rules.” Drake said, his red eyes flicking from face to face. “No sex. Please. I do not want any children conceived here. Play nice with James. He is going to be keeping an eye on you all. Also, please fight amongst yourselves. The last one standing gets to go free. The doors here do not lock, so do not attempt to hide. I get rather unhappy when I am hungry, so do not dally. But don’t kill James. I hate trying to find new help. And he does so well cleaning these rugs. Oh, and speaking of that, if you are going to bleed to death, please do it in your room. I just had this rug imported and I don’t want you all going and messing it up. Everyone understand?”

Drake suddenly released James, who sprawled on the floor, a surprised look on his face. He scrambled back to his feet, straightening his uniform. As he did so Drake pulled a sweet from a pocket in his lapel. A small hard candy affixed to a stick, wrapped in paper. He examined it for a second, saying, “Clever, eh? I find they are much easier to eat when you make them with little sticks on the end. And it make it so much easier to do this as well.”

Drake turned, caught James’s face in one hand, and jammed the candy in his throat, twisting it until the boy cried out in pain then withdrawing the sweet and popping it in his own mouth. James slumped on the floor, coughing up blood, tears streaking down his face. Hopefully now they wouldn’t kill the boy, and Drake felt quite a bit better now.

“Oh yes, and James will have to room with you, Deget. Don’t worry, he is a good boy, he’ll sleep on the floor in the corner and won’t make a peep.” Drake said over his shoulder as he pulled a letter opener from his pocket and unlocked the door.

He shut the door swiftly behind him, locking the deadbolt as well as pulling the latches and fiddling with all the other locks. No one but James would be able to get out now unless they somehow managed to procure a key, because even a skeleton key couldn’t unlock Drake’s brainchild of a lock.

James was on his hands and knees, expelling blood from his raw throat. He wondered vaguely through the pain how these humans felt about being penned up in here to kill each other off. Hopefully they wouldn’t take it out on him. Being murdered hurt, even when it didn’t kill him. And if he was rendered unable to move, Drake would have a fit, and some souls would go to waste.

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Well, wasn't this fun.

Deget had put on some of her best clothes: A black vest and white, ironed dress shirt that fit to her figure slightly to give her curves a gentle squeeze along with pin-stripped pants and boots. 'What a shame' she thought briefly. 'That these clothes will get dirty. Ta think I fished them outta the closet just to get them all messed up.' She looked a bit like a man with her strange attire but the soft shape of her face, her full lips and eyes did give her away. If you didn't see her figure.

She was so dumb- so incredibly dumb to get into this stupid thing. Lined up in the hallway like sheep or cattle lined up for their deaths. Behind her glasses and in her mind's eyes, she wondered if things had gone differently for Zeke. What if- What if.. No. Things were probably different for him but nevertheless, she was in this situation now, wasn't she? Stuck in this manor- her new prison- with people that would probably have intentions to kill her. She didn't- wouldn't- trust Drake's words about the end. People like him probably would 'reward' the last man standing with death. Maybe a diamond necklace only to be stained in blood a little bit afterward.

But that was not the present- not yet. For now, the Jamaican listened and absorbed the information of the four others that she would be 'playing with.' She didn't stiffen when Drake got to her but instead offered him a polite smile. "Thank ju very much," she murmured. "Bu' he didn't happen ta come back- haven't seen 'im in quite a while." She nodded at him before looking onward and frowning at the display of poor James. Her heart went out for the butler and when Drake finally left, the glasses-clad woman was the first to go up to him.

She knelt down a bit and frowned at him slightly. "You alright?" It was a quiet question and one she hoped he would answer. "O' course ya don't have ta answer but simply nod. Probahly can't speak 'cause of what he did.." The woman seemed quite calm and made sure James was okay before standing up once more and adjusting her glasses.

Her Jamaican accent was noticeable- she didn't try to hide it anymore- as was the way she stood up. Like a sore thumb, with her dark skin and features. Whatever. She was quite proud of who she was, thank ye very much, and she wasn't about to let anyone convince her otherwise. Or make her think differently.

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Xx The Little Yellow Bird- Geppetto Castle xX

The snow was very plentiful,
and crumbs were very few,
when a weather beaten sparrow through,
a mansion window flew,
Her eye fell on a golden cage,
a sweet love song she heard,
sung by a pet canary there,
a handsome yellow bird,
he said to her: miss sparrow,
I've been struck by cupids arrow,
would you share my cage with me,
She looked up his castle,
with its ribbon and its tassel,
and in a plaintive tones said she:
goodbye little yellow bird,
I'd rather brave the cold
on a leafless tree,
than a prisoner be,
in a cage of gold.


Castle, he might as well of been a statue with the way he stood soundlessly-motionlessly-even breathlessly it would seem as if his legs were bolted to the floor . Feathery golden hair cut into a short bob hid two bright golden eyes- both unwaveringly straight. You might have had to look twice at the unnaturally slender gentleman- he appeared like a flat chested girl at first glance. His large girlish lips were naturally puckered, making him always look like he was whining about something.

A soft 'huff' of air was squeezed from his lungs as the 'No sex' rule was mentioned, it suddenly broke his spell of being frozen. A chain reaction within his body caused a hand to slowly find itself to his forehead. He shaded his eyes with his hand, exhaling a held breath. Really. How could they be so daft, no sex? What was this supposed to be? What kind of unfortunate stressful gathering would urge forth a 'no sexual encounters rule? He shook his head, it was unfortunate because he was going to need to break this specific rule.

"Oh my." Suddenly everything seemed to change motion when James was subject to being hurt.

Blood, blood blood blood.
Red, lovely, frightening, beautiful, ugly, blood was spilled and tasted and savored. Castle's heart fluttered. This innocent party was suddenly so very frightening, and strangely Castle welcomed it- he welcomed the darkness, he welcomed the seduction of death's sweet calls. Would he survive? Perhaps, perhaps not. Did it even matter anymore? No. Non.

"Non, non non non. Madame, allow me- please." French, he was obviously a French-man. The effeminate young gentleman strode over to the two- a hand outstretching to James's back, he set it gingerly onto it the other, lips pursing even more ( if that were possible ). "James, monsieur you're going to need to drink some water. Apply direct pressure to your neck like this" The boy pressed a hand to his own neck.

"I would like to inquire about any alcohol you might have laying around...?" He murmured softly, eyes suddenly straying away. "I'm an addict you see." Truthfully he was, he would probably be the first to crack from withdrawl.

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Deget's eyes snapped to the Frenchman- or was that a woman, she couldn't fairly tell- before sighing. "Makes no sense ta drenk yer way silly," she said softly with a shake of her head. "Alcohol should be used to numb pain of wounds you get; When it is used to numb the scars, things do not go well." Ah, so wise. How people drink to numb the pain of stab wounds or hits but to numb the pain of your mental wounds, your scars is just something that never works out as you plan. Sure you can control your alcohol intake but after a while, it can control you.

Quite a few men and women back in Jamaica had taught her that before she moved.

The woman looked down at James and pursed her lips slightly as a small smile twitched onto her lips. "I hear you liked.. him." The butler should know who she was talking about. "If you liked him, he probably enjoyed your companeh too.. Which means I should have no problems with you."

After saying that, Brianna let out a puff and loosened her belt and shoes and vest. So much comfier when they were baggy... "I will go fetch him some water." It also gave her an excuse to explore and search the house very quickly. The Jamaican gave Geppetto and the injured butler a small smile before dashing off very quickly- very, very quickly.

That's what she got for running all the time as a child- speed. And some nice, long legs but that's not the point. A mere minute or maybe even four minutes later, the sound of running footsteps were heard before Deget came back in with a few napkins in one hand and a small cup of water in the other. To clean up and help James. Unfortunately, she hadn't found many things in the kitchen and because she was such a kind soul, rushed back to where James and the others were rather than taking time to investigate a room or two.

Matters like that could wait later.

" 'Ere you go," Deget murmured as she crouched down and passed the water to James before beginning to clean up the mess.

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James shook himself like a wet dog, wiping blood for his chin. Oh, god that had hurt. He stood shakily, the opened his mouth. It was easier to show them rather than explain that he wasn't one to hold a very good conversation. The mangled stump of muscle in his mouth did the talking for him. He gestured towards it, ignoring the glass of water, and rubbed his neck. Damn Drake, why did he have to go to such measure, bringing attention to James. James did not mind being carried around by the scruff of his neck like a kitten, but being pushed from windows and having things jammed down his throat was not the way he wanted to spend his eternal youth. Not at all.

He gave a half smile to the short man and the chocolate skinned girl who looked so much like her brother, who James had killed by dragging backwards out of a window, then back into the corner, resuming his old position. Fade into the woodwork. The job of a good butler. Do what you are told and do not be seen. He stared at the glass of water that was still sitting on the floor where he'd left it. He had no use for the stuff. his throat would heal soon, no need to go around consuming things and making his belly uncomfortable. James had an appetite for only one thing. Not that he could help it. That was Drake's fault, the burning hunger.

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Deget's mouth formed into a slight 'o' and the vowel escaped her parted lips, eyes dawning in understanding. "Okay then." She nodded her head and finished cleaning up the bloody mess (figuratively and literally speaking) when she saw James just go away. The woman looked to the direction he had went and gave him a big ol' smile, dimples resulting in the affectionate expression. She stood up and brushed herself off before turning to the Frenchman and grinning.

"Nice ta meet cha. 'M Deget- if you can recall. I like that accent of yours." It wasn't flattery but just a simple statement of what was the truth- to Deget that is. In Jamaica, they were quite affectionate and she gave the man a brief, light hug and the other three a wave and grin before looking around. Quite the impressive mansion..

Yet she felt that air. It was dark and heavy, weighing down on the polite and spacious atmosphere. Enough to make a shudder go down her spine momentarily. Thank her Grandmother- God Bless the woman's soul- for teaching her those 'tricks of their trade.'

It helped with reading the air. And with reading the people.

She could already tell most the other two women were here just to have one though the brunette seemed to have more ... plans then the blonde. The man- his air was a mystery. Geppetto's air was a sad one and one that made Deget quickly turn off her mind and just stop. It was a bad habit of hers to read the air but it helped in the situation she was in right now. Even though the woman had not gone deeper and more in depth- and she didn't think she particularly could, due to the little facts she'd yet to unearth- it was enough to let her calculate some things in her head. These people were all here for different intentions, some people having darker ones than others, but it had nothing to do with her cause. Her intentions were different from their selfish own reasons and plans. Not only was she doing this for her loved one but to stop the madness this place contained.

But really, it did have the lingering stench of just plain ol' badness. Gave Deget the chills, that it did.

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He waited silently as the man struggled, really it was only a butler- the man should have been prepared to settle through abuse when he accepted the job. "Chum. pressure." He reminded the other, before sighing as the woman left to go fetch the other water.

Deget's slight complaint about the consumption of alcohol caused his tongue to click against his teeth. A soft exhalation of breath left the blonde's lips as he slowly stood to his feet, trembling fingers found their way to his coat as he adjusted it, a nervous tick of his . "Despite the validity of your statements regarding alcohol- I am suffering from withdrawl, I fear the situation we are currently in will require me to quit... trembling... like a goddamned INFANT!" His voice rang throughout the small space, leaving him wide-eyed and bushy tailed. The sudden outburst left him surprised. He rolled his eyes, standing up unnaturally erect as he made his way over to a set of chairs. He lowered himself down onto the chair, doubling over so that his elbows rested on his lap and his palms were over his eyes.

He inhaled sharply, the slight traces of his spine could be seen like thin speckles underneath the cloth of his rather stylish jacket. He was coping, it was understandable- they were all thrown into this, and some were hardly considered adults yet. He didn't even know these people--- could he trust ANYONE?

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Deget looked at the Frenchman strangely before letting out a laugh- not a tinkling little giggle or anything. A laugh. She was Jamaican, she didn't know or care about the rules of these Europeans and the Frenchman. She was an islander.

"Oh luv, I've seen worse from people wit' withdrawal. Dutty Man back at home stabbed his wife, that he did. Breath easy, man, Balance~" She was basically telling the short blonde to calm down and chill out. Jamaican slang could take a while to get used to but she would probably be doing it a whole lot- and these people should get used to it. After another quick look around, she looked at the Frenchman- and all the other- and grinned. "Well, I won't be sittin' about like a sack of lard. I guess I'll see ye around." She waved goodbye to them before going on her way with exploring the mansion, hips having a slight swing and her walk purposeful.

Even though she was here to investigate, this was also fun to her. She loved exploring.

The woman found it hard to resist the temptation of running up the staircase and jumping onto the chandelier- like she'd done when she was a child- but ultimately, she won the mental battle and chose to explore downstairs first. She didn't care if people wanted to kill her. Deget had enough smarts and things up her sleeves to keep her in.

Really, she didn't want to hurt anybody. She'd rather just avoid them if they got hostile towards her but oh well. You couldn't trust anyone in life- no even yourself.

So really, this wasn't just a game. It was the game of Life. Think about it.. Think about it real hard. (Of course, the inner novelist could be coming out and messing with Deget's mind but she liked to think herself a wise woman sometimes. )

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He wasn't supposed to be here. He could tell now, but it was far too late to do anything about it. He really should have known better. That letter was far too good to be true, but he was lonely and it was the only good thing to have happened to him that day. He had even gone as far as to dig out his nicest clothes - the ones he had worn when he had first started courting his wife - and finish work without being too late for the gala. All that effort put to waste. Well, that had certainly ruined his day.

But not nearly as much as finding out they would have to fight each other. Tom wasn't a fighter. Oh, sure, he was strong enough to hold his own in a fight. Lord knows he had been in some; but that had been when he was younger. He was older, now, and beginning to suspect that he wasn't quite all there. Not a good combination. Even worse when his strong like (he refused to call it an obsession) with knives was thrown into the mix. Just how long would he last? Last until what? Great, now he really was going crazy. Well, he was going to find out soon enough.

By the time Tom finished musing, things had happened. He had only sort of half-watched everyone. Things had happened and he had seen them, but he hadn't been paying attention. He did notice the one girl - oh what was her name? Deget! That was it... - leaving to explore. Well, there really wasn't anything else to do and there certainly was no point in standing around with a bunch of people that were obviously going to try to kill him at some point. Better off to keep himself separated than to stay in a crowd. At this point, the fewer people he stayed with, the better. But why not have at least one person to share company with?

None of the others seemed to be all that excited to explore and Tom really wasn't about to walk up to anyone and ask them to join him. Not when his luck was about as low as it could get. As far as he was concerned, the day was only going to get worse. Might as well make it gradual, rather than sudden. He chose to follow after Deget. He said nothing, not at all interested in bringing attention to himself just yet, but simply observed. He kept half an eye on the girl - being very careful to keep at least three feet of distance between them should something unexpected happen - and the other half on his surroundings. This place was more interesting than he had first realized and he had a sudden desire to see everything.

Knowing his luck, he was going to die, anyway. Might at well have a little fun, in the meantime.

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When she was gone from the crowd, an air of sudden grave seriousness weighed down Deget's aura and she slowed for a moment and sniffled. The woman put her head in her hands and a choke sob seemed to come from her before she shook herself up- and continued. "Gonna have ta brick up," she said to herself with a shake of her head.

Deget didn't pay much attention to anything except the mansion's air. She tried to track down a certain air and opened a door- a bathroom. She continued on and on- looking into closets and bathrooms and rooms connecting to the kitchen and other bathrooms. Finally she was able to find a bedroom- and the smell of death hit her like a ton of bricks. It was, of course, a smell only she could smell- sense. Whatever you wanna call it but with whatever word or noun, one thing stayed the same. Someone had died in this room. She ventured inside the room with a grunt and looked around, getting out her notebook and jotted something down as she continued to investigate.

The woman wondered what had happened to the poor, unfortunate soul that was killed inside of here. The Jamaican shook her head mournfully before looking inside the closet. "Poor thing.." she murmured to herself. It may have been the smell of death but it didn't have the spark she was searching for at the moment.

" 'Cuse me sir?" she called, looking into the closet though completely aware of the man a few feet behind her. "Can ya come in 'ere please? I can't find da light- I think it's high up," she called back. "And my dreadful eyes can only work so well with dese glasses ya know. I think I could be goin' blind ya know; My eyesight's gettin' worse and wurse; Called meh a Blind Bat back on the eyeland. Couldn't see for shit." She let out a laugh and bumped into a wall, having reached to far into the closet and hitting her head.

It was such a loud thump that she was sure the other man could hear it.

Ah shit, man, that hurt.

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Ah, Someone was skulking about. Maybe two someones? Should Drake have some fun? The man mused momentarily. No, maybe just watch for a little while. It was the fiery girl, Deget, the one he hope tasted just as good as Zeke, and the man with little flavor. Drake decided that now was as good a time as any to play with his game pieces, the gala was over, and with James busy he'd have to clean up by himself. Drake found a passage he knew led out close to the closet where the two currently were. He'd made sure there were plenty passages, but most required one to break a few limbs to get in first. They were human proof, you could say. "Don't go wandering or the ickle beasites will getcha." He s,called out, his voice echoing through the slim passage that came out a few feet from the closet as a secret door hidden with in another. Rather clever, if Drake did say so himself. "They do like their souls, yes they do. Without bitty Jamesie to watch you, who knows what might eat you."

Ah, now that that was done, it was time to go clean up. Uhg, the dreaded chore.

__

James sighed as he watched Deget and Tom leave. Who knew what mood Drake was in. He didn't usually like people wandering down his halls. He had a habit of hiding out for James and pouncing on James when he least expected it, usually breaking his spine or his jaw. Something that hurt quite a bit.
He stared at Gepetto instead, pushing away the painful thoughts. Why not indulge the man? It wouldn't hurt him. James turned and slipped through the door pulled himself up the wall and through the crack at the top, sliding out in Drake's room. Ah, Drake always did like his wine. Getting drunk was an easy thing to do, it only took four or five bottles of the stuff. how much would Gepetto need? Humans did have less of a toleration for the stuff. Maybe just one? James grabbed the first bottle of red he found and left through the door, avoiding the two who were exploring the castle carefully. When he made it back to the room he opened the door and slammed the bottle down in front of the blonde man.

He signed a few words at him, not that the man would know what they meant, this was Drake and James's own means of communication, private between the two of them, but it made him feel better. Then he resumed his watch from the corner of the room, staring at the two ladies that were left.

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Esther was the last to arrive at the manor, following her rule of never being the first to arrive to a party. She was led into the foyer where she met four other individuals; a young man who had a depressing air about him, a dark-skinned woman dressed in a rather mannish fashion. She appeared overly friendly and excited to be here, which Esther found slightly annoying. Then there was a rather pathetic-looking man who looked about as lively as a taxidermal head. Finally, Esther's eyes fell upon the blonde woman. 'What was she doing here?' Esther knew who the woman was; Monica Hargreaves. She had made her "acquaintance" in the past at a high society gathering, though she would hardly consider themselves friends. Esther found her to be arrogant, prudish, and haughty - traits she despised in other women. I can't believe she's here too, Esther thought to herself, 'I don't get it. She's not even that pretty! And I wore that very same dress to a ball not three months ago! The nerve of some people, I swear...' Thoroughly disgusted, Esther turned her back to the other guests, staring out a window.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After Sir Drake had made his entrance and revealed his true intentions, Esther's mind was racing. 'I don't understand. What is the meaning of all this? Does he truly intend for us to kill each other? And then what becomes of the survivor? No...impossible! This must all be some sort of cruel joke! There is no way Sir Drake would truly mean what he said...' Then her gaze moved to the young butler. The frenchman and dark-skinned woman were at his side as he coughed up blood. The sight sent chills throughout Esther's body. The evening had turned from a promising, romantic gala to a horrifying, surreal nightmare.

As the dark-skinned woman, 'Deget, was it? What an odd name,' left the room, apparently to explore, Esther turned toward Monica and shot her a concerned look. Without a word, she left the foyer and approached the double doors that led to the courtyard. "I'm not staying here a moment longer. This is insane!" Her petite, gloved hands touched the knobs; they felt cold, even through her gloves. She tried to turn it - locked. Struggling with the door for a while longer, her breathing quietly becoming more rapid, it was obvious that it wasn't going to budge. She turned back toward Monica and the others. "It's locked! What are we to do?"

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Soft golden eyes fluttered open as a loud noise startled the young beauty. Castle slowly lifted himself up, foggy eyes focusing and unfocusing on the man in front of him. Wine. Sweet red wine, sweet and delicious liquid love. "I cannot thank you enough." He was so refined, and yet so young- he had to have entered society at a very young age.

The man stood to his feet, fingers gracing over the cork of the bottle as he slipped it out. He half-mindedly paid attention to the young Esther woman, truly a beauty- his heart sagged for her, she must have been truly frightened. He pressed the wine to his lips, fingers still trembling as the sweet liquid poured down his throat, a sly smile found is way to his face- already his mood had turned for the best.

"Sweet madame." He stood out of the chair, fingers reaching to slick back beauty golden hair, eyes to match focused on her as he slowly stepped towards the direction she had gone, tailcoat elegantly stretched behind him as he tucked a free hand in his pocket. He reached his destination and approached the young woman, offering her his arm in an escort-like fashion, he wanted to take her away from the door- he wanted her to not feel any sorrow."What we do is we wait. We do not indulge this sick man's game- he wants us to kill eachother? We will not... We simply will not, we ban together." His trembling body matched that of a wet dog, a little wet dog- perhaps he was more frightened than he was letting on, more weak than he liked to believe. "It would be such a shame for such a beautiful woman to feel such sorrow, it is best that you find your own way to cope."

He removed his arm from her and allowed a soft gloved hand to raise upwards and touch her cheek before he finally pulled away, eyes flashing. He turned to his bottle, all thoughts resting with the sweet liquid and then he allowed lust to over take him as he drank from it again...

And again.

And again...

And again...

He sat around and drank from it- each time the blush on his face grew and his knees buckled beneath him even more, until finally he was a mess. A drunk mess.

Goodebye little yellow bird

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Tom was aware of the silenced sob – at least, that’s what it looked like – but he did nothing. Better to watch and stay safe than get too close and end up falling into a trap. Her exploring soon became repetitious, though, as there was nothing for him to do. After a while he left, choosing to explore a different area of the mansion. It wasn’t long before he found himself in the kitchen.

There really wasn’t much to interest him. It was just a kitchen, after all. A rather large kitchen, but still a kitchen. But he was curious about one thing. Pulling out drawer after drawer – shutting them when he didn’t find what he was looking for – Tom searched until he found the silverware. He ignored the forks and spoons, instead going straight for the knives.

They were beautiful but very sharp. Intricate designs decorated the handles, but weren’t as nice as the ones he collected. Then again, the ones he collected were designed for looks, not usage. These were meant to be used. They would serve to protect him, though, and that was what he needed. Grabbing three, he stuffed them into an inside pocket of his coat before searching once more for Deget. He didn’t like being alone in such a large house.

Tom found her just as she was entering a bedroom. He followed her, curious as to what she had found.

"Can ya come in 'ere please? I can't find da light- I think it's high up.”

He really shouldn’t have gotten too close, but, once again, he felt compelled to do something he shouldn’t have. “Alright,” he said softly, leaning over her and reaching into the closet. He started to feel along the wall when a voice whispered, "Don't go wandering or the ickle beasites will getcha."

A soft click signaled his hand turning the switch on accidentally and he jumped. “Who’s there!” he called, pulling back and dancing away nervously from Deget. Jumpy much? “Where are you?” Tom wandered over to where he had heard the voice, running his hand over the wall. He found nothing, but he was sure he had heard a voice…

Just what was going on?

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James kept an eye on Gepetto, standing a few feet from him and watching him warily. Just in case. James did not want to have to clean anything up or have to fix something that had been broken. Drunks rarely had their own best intrest in mind. Or anything at all in their head. James knew this from many, many years of cleaning up after Drake after his master had downed one too many bottles. You could learn so much from a man when he was drunk. James had heard most of Drake's life story, more times that he had cared to, that way.

The pale youth examined the young man. Gepetto really was handsome. No, that wasn't quite the word. He was pretty, yes that was it. If James had cared about his looks at all he'd have been jealous. But he was not jealous of that. He was jealous that this man would get to die. To leave. And it wouldn't hurt for all that long. If James died it would take nearly a month of pure agony. The agony of starvation. James frowned unhappily. It was better not to dwell on such painful things as one's own demise. He tipped his head to one side as he stared at Gepetto's face. It was ironic. Both of them seemed young, but both were older than they looked. James felt a small flash of superiority. He was the oldest 'mortal' here by far.

James decided that he wanted a closer look. It wouldn't matter what Gepetto thought of a butler sitting next to him because Gepetto wouldn't be alive for very much longer. Who cared what anyone thought? James thought bitterly as he sat down and propped elbow up on the table. His fingers traced the wood grain, and occasionally he would dig his nails into the oaken surface. He leaned forward like a bird poised for flight, examining the man before him with an unnerving intensity. What made him so human looking? Or maybe it was what James could see that others couldn't. The warm light inside of a human that signified life. That little bit of life that James lacked.

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"Thank ye," Deget replied when she heard the man come over and was in the process of pulling out of the closet when she heard the voice. Unlike the man, the woman didn't really jump or panic but rather was quiet for quite a while. She seemed to blink at the light and slowly straightened before turning to Tom. "Brick up."

The woman sighed and took off her hat, shaking her hair lose with a huff before tying it back into a horse tail. "The lil' beaties are probably there as a scare tactic. The voice, 'owever, is quite the mystery." At the end of her little sentence, her eyes landed upon the vent on the ceiling and she let out a little 'hurmuph.' Well.. Everything connected to the vents right? "Hold on..." She got a chair and got onto it, standing under the vent. It was locked. Well, that could be fixed easily, yes?

A slam was heard as she slammed her elbow into the vent, three more of them proceeding before she took the now loosened opening off and put it to the ground. A little blood was leaking from her cut but otherwise she looked quite fine. "Quite dusty up 'ere. If ya wanna follow, I can only offer ya one thing: Hope you're not 'fraid of bugs." She gave a grin to the man below before hefting herself up into the vent and pulling her notepad up with her.

Two words: Tight fit. Good thing her matches were in the breast pocket or she would be- in a mere word- screwed.

"Dis is MAAAD!" Jamaican Slang: This is awesome. Her excitement was strange, sure, but a little understandable. Especially due to the fact of her slightly echoing voice which meant this could lead to more places which meant she had more things to investigate. Soon her legs followed her upper body and she vanished into the vent- a few banging happening before she stuck her head out of the vent and down to the man. "There are plenteh o' spiders up there. Leads to more places, too." She soon swung out of the vent and landed down on the ground.

Patting the dust from her hair and shirt and pants, Deget jotted down a note or two before putting her notepad away and removing her vest. "Wanna stay 'ere or go see where that voice came from?" The woman looked to Tom, removing some webs from the vest before putting it back on. "Or do you wanna get some rum? 'M thirsty."

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Her eye fell on a golden cage, a sweet love song she heard. Sung by a pet canary there, a handsome yellow bird. He said to her- Miss Sparrow I've been struck by cupid's arrow will you share my cage with me? She looked up at his castle with its ribbon and its tassel, and in plantive tone said she- Goodbye little yellow bird.

Words words words, they rumbled through his brain- knocking against his skull rattling against his bones- goodbye little yellow bird, goodbye little yellow bird. Was he the yellow bird? It wasn't long before he finished the entire bottle, lips stained a beautiful purple, and eyes stained a foggy hope-lessness. "Mmm..." nonsense spewed from his mouth as he leaned backwards in his chair, thin limbs trembling. "Oui, Je suis tellement ivre droit maintenant" He leaned forward rubbing his hands against his leg. (( French for "I am so drunk right now."))

And then, the butler caught his attention. James, the young man from earlier- if he hadn't been so drunk, perhaps he would have stricken conversation with the young chum. Slick golden eyes slowly rose to meet the man sitting in front of him- such frightening intensity. Such a frighteningly intense being- and at the same time there was something untameable, who was this young man? "Oh... Look achu,." That lovely French accent was so strong that one couldn't even understand a single word of what he was saying. He leaned forward to set his drink down his but fell forwards immediately, his young body unable to keep himself on the chair any longer. Stumbling forward the blond landed on his knees, a soft 'uff!' expressing itself from his lips. He bit his lip, only a little pile of blonde. He grumbled outstretching a drunken arm in front of him, it touched James's chair the closest thing to him. He latched onto it and stood to his feet like a newborn dear.

And then the world blurred and it was suddenly time to pass out, he couldn't have chosen a better time or place. He lost consciousness and buckled forwards- landing directly onto the thoughtful demon in front of him. Thin limbs sprawled about over the young looking butler, face falling into that comfy little nook that was the side of James's neck.

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This is insane...he really expects me to kill someone? As soon as I get out of here my father is going to know about this..., Monica thought angrily as she glared about the room, her narrowed eyes lingering on Esther Hathaway...she was so common,little more than a high-class prositute, throwing herself at men like she were drunk. And that butler...'James' was it? She knew that she treated her servants badly, but even she would admit that what Drake had done was appalling, he could have killed the boy, not that it was important, she supposed. What was important, however was how to get that disgusting drunk off of said boy, without actually having to touch him for that long. James had suffererd long enough, but it wasn't out of kindness that she was going to help. Monica was devious: if James somehow took a liking to her, then maybe, he could help her get out of this horrible place...
"Alright, you horrible drunken mess, get off of him!", Monica shouted as she roughly lifted the Frenchman, using more strength than her thin frame would have suggested. Monica was stubborn, if she wanted something, she would do it. She left Gepetto on the floor in his disguting state, she didn't want to touch him any longer than neccessary.
"Are you alright...James, was it?Drunks really are disgusting, aren't they?", she said, kindly (not a usual thing for her, but then, she had a plan), and sat down beside the boy, her face showing a flicker of pain as the bones in her corset dug into her body. she had tied her corset even tighter than normal for this party, so that anyone else would have passed out within about five minutes. Monica was used to it though.She thought regretfully that the dark blue dress that she was wearing would be ruined soon, if what Drake had said was true, and she would either kill or be killed before the night was out...

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James managed to swallow a smile as the drunken blonde Frenchman toppled onto him. Humans were so funny when they were drunk. Even Drake seemed to always be in a better mood when he was intoxicated. James allowed the unconscious man to rest a while on top of him. It wasn't particularly comfortable, however, and after a few moments James started to stand, intending to carry the pretty young man to his room before resuming his watch. But ah, what was this? Monica, the slight blonde woman, bodily pulled the young man from James's lap and cast the body to the floor where the little thing lay like a cast away doll.

James stared at Gepetto for a moment before looking up at Monica, who took a seat beside him. She was speaking to him, obviously not realizing James wasn't much in the conversation department. 'I find that drunks, well, happy drunks are better companions that puppies' he signed at her, well aware that she wouldn't understand a word of it. He quirked Monica an odd smile and displayed his mangled tongue to her for a brief second. Then he bent, caught Gepetto by the collar of his jacket, and hauled him up into a sitting position on the ground, propped up against James's own leg. It wouldn't do to have the young man chocking on anything, his tongue, or if he got sick from the sheer amount of wine he'd downed.

Then James turned his eyes back to Monica, propping his head up with his hands as if he was intrigued. Go on...? He seemed to say.

--

Oho, what was this? Drake looked up from sweeping much off the floor of the dance hall when he heard a voice float from the ceiling. A female voice. Someone was exploring the vents that brought fresh air from outside to the innermost parts of the castle. He'd have to get those grates tightened, wouldn't he. Good thing the ones to the outside couldn't be penetrated unless one was chopped into tiny cubes. And no human would be able to do very much if they were cut that small. Speaking of that, Drake thought, snapping from his tangent about cutting humans up, morning was dawning bright through the foggy windows, and it was only polite that Drake bring breakfast to the guests.

But first Drake tilted his head back and yowled up to the vent that was centered on the ceiling next to one of the huge chandeliers, "Don't wander too far, breakfast is soon!" in a voice loud enough to make the crystals jitter and shake. Then he strolled off to the wide kitchen to try his hand at cooking, something he only did sparringly seeing as neither he nor James really needed to eat.

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Monica was shocked at James'...state...if she had thought that Drake was cruel for trying to kill him, then this had turned him into a monster in her eyes. She actually felt...sorry for the boy, how long had he been like this? Fortunatly she had some understanding of the strange gestures he made in answer to her question: one of the kitchen staff was deaf, so she had (reluctantly) learned some of the signs she had used. She didn't know what James' meant, but felt better in the knowledge that he was trying to communicate with her. She suddenly had an idea, and she went into her handbag for the small notebook she kept in it, which she used for recording gossip more than anything. Tearing out a few pages, and finding a pencil in her bag, she pushed it across the table to him.
"Can you write, by any chance? That will make things easier for both of us, I think, since I have no idea what your silly little gestures mean", she was being too nice to this child, but she had to be, if she was going to get out...she would do anything to get out of here now

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James stared at the paper for a second, biting his lip. then he picked up the pencil in a shaky hand and began to write in German, just for the sake of it. James knew many languages, even if he could never lean to speak them. What else was there to do in the quiet evening when his belly was full and his master content to laze about? He smirked slightly as he leaned back to admire his shaky handiwork. James was born left handed, but Drake insisted that he write this way simply because it annoyed James. And because Butlers, especially butlers of his 'age' shouldn't have beautiful penmanship. He shot a glance at Monica, lead filled stick against his bottom lip before crossing through the lines of nonsensical German vocabulary.

"Yes, I can write. Somewhat." James's shaky cramped writing was ugly. "And I 'said' that i was used to drunkards. You have met my master, haven't you? " James's writing slanted almost violently to the left as he wrote, and his words slowly rose up the page.

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“Brick up.”

Tom huffed; he wasn’t sure what she meant by the statement but he had the distinct feeling that she was calling him some kind of coward. It didn’t really matter now, though. He was what he was, and there wasn’t a whole lot he could do about it.

Bang! Bang bang bang!

Once more, he jumped at the sudden noise. Why couldn’t anyone give him a little warning first? Was that too much to ask?! Actually, in this situation, it probably was. How had he gotten himself into this mess, anyhow? Oh, right. His wife had gone on a trip without him. Everything always seemed to go wrong when she wasn’t around. Well, at least the kids had his good luck charm.

There was nothing beside the closet, no matter how hard he looked and pushed and prodded. Several times he could have sworn he had hit a part of the wall that sounded different – he had even managed to find out the exact size of the little section – but he simply couldn’t find a way of getting it open. Finally he gave up. What was the point of trying if nothing was going to happen, anyway?

Returning to the closet, Tom listened to Deget’s comment about spiders. No big deal. There were spiders everywhere in the barn where he kept his horse. If he didn’t clean his coach regularly, they would collect there, as well. So when Deget asked him what he wanted to do, there was little hesitation as he replied, “I’m rather curious about where the voice comes from.”

And maybe – just maybe – the vents would lead outside. There was always that slim possibility…

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Deget grinned and nodded. "Wonderful." She had been listening to the hollow noise that came from a certain place in the closet and jotted it down in her notebook. "Right then. Let's go." The woman gave Tom a good chap on the shoulder before going out of the room and down the hallway. She had a feeling that they couldn't get to the place where the voice came from with traditional means so they'd have to go deeper into an investigation so they-

Wait. They? Well bother, now she'd gotten Tom included into her little mess. Oh well. The man would be good company- she guessed.

After putting her hat back on and making sure her clothes were all good and hadn't yet gone askew. She cleaned off her glasses before motioning for the man to follow her- and she was off. Down the hall and peeking into doors and closets and entry ways. By then, she'd found another vent and after a quick observation, deemed it the one they should go up into. The other vent was good sure but she'd also heard the faint buzz of flies and the whir of something in there.

And if she couldn't see something that was making noise, that meant she shouldn't try and investigate without further knowledge of it.

The same procedure happened and the vent's opening was soon there for her to enter. She grunted and climbed up, wriggling around a bit and looking down at Tom. "You can come too- if ya want. If ya find somethin' cool or another vent, just give a shout down it, yea? I'll hear ya." She gave him a smile before finally vanishing into the clutches of the cold vent.

Having to go on all fours, she climbed and shimmied down the vent with a grunt. "Dammit all. Hn, 'least this can hold me up." Something amusing to calm her down. Finding the funny in everything right?

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Monica squinted at what appeared to be nosensical squiggles on the page, slowly realising that they were actually meaningful, and she nodded as she read them. Not only did Drake hurt this boy, he was a drunk as well? This was just horrible...and this boy was stuck here all alone...No! I have to remember why I'm doing this: to get out, not to make this child into a charity case...though Mother would have approved...she was always into her 'good causes'...

"It's good you can write...at least he taught you that much...you're up here all alone with him, huh? Don't you have any family?", She asked, almost fearing the answer. If he was up here, then that probably meant he didn't have anyone left, only his Master, which was no postion for this boy to be in, especially in his state...she (annoyingly) felt another surge of pity for this poor child, but she would not let this distract her from what she had to do.

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They were killed a long time ago. A house fire. Drake only managed to save my life. So now I pay him back with my service.

James scrawled, blinking a couple times to prevent himself from tearing up. It had been so long since he'd thought of his mother or his father, or even his little sister. A hundred years at least. James bit his lip and sighed heavily. Oh God, this wasn't the time to think about that. After a few seconds with his head bowed James added another sentence to the paper. Drake is my family now, so everything is okay. Oh, what an seemingly innocent sentence, James thought ruefully. But it was true. James was alive, and Drake was there too. Good company. And James had to admit that he understood why Drake had tethered his life to James's. What a lonely existence it would have been.

James turned suddenly to make a head count. Gepetto was on the floor, Ester was near the door, Monica was sitting with him, where were Tom and Deget? Out exploring? Hopefully James wouldn't get into trouble with Drake for not keeping a closer eye on them. And Hopefully Drake wouldn't get angry and kill them either. Both would be bad.

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Suddenly, in the corner of the room Deget and Tom where in- very close to the man in fact- something appeared. It was a milky, almost filmy sort of blue and was transparent though you could see it had that some sort of solidness to it. The apparition twisted and settled into a man with only a bit of color showing.

The man- the thing- had black hair. It almost looked purple. He was a bit tall with bangs hanging near the sides of his face and flowing out into layers around his face. He had a sort of small- maybe even sad- smile on his lips and his eyes were a bit brown. A bit. He had on pants, a dress shirt, a tailored vest and some dress shoes and was fingering the charm on his chain with a little hum. The ghostly, musical rhythm filled the air. The voice drifting in and our and in and out.

But the body still remained.

It cleared to show the edges and the angles and that it truly was a man but he wasn't alive. His skin (people could see it used to be brown) wasn't the right color and he wasn't... solid enough.

Something was wrong. Nothing could appear in mid-air, just like that. Ah, but this wasn't a person. It was- yes- technically a person but you could see it wasn't a person.

Maybe a ghost? Maybe a spirit? Who quite knows.

"Huhm, Huhm, humm humm hum huhm. Gonnaaaa gettt somet'in ta eattt after this galaaaa," the man/ghost/thing hummed. Fading in and out, edges blurring in and out- his voice, a ghostly and tender whisper, going in and out.

~

Up in the vents, Deget felt the air change and heard the almost distant humming. That voice.. sounded so very familiar. She paused in her crawling and actually shuffled back a little bit to hear a bit more. Was it Tom? Was it someone else? Or was she- in all her madness and buried emotions- hearing things again?

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"That's understandable, I guess...but if he treats you like that, then it is most definatly not 'okay', as you put it. I'm...sorry about your family...I only lost my mother last year, so I guess I know how hard it is, to a lesser extent though.", Monica had no idea why she had told James this, but she rationalised it by pretending that she had to get him to trust her, so that then he would help...
He turned suddenly, and Monica followed his gaze, watching as he seemed to be making a mental countof the room's occupants. She had noticed the negro woman with the man's clothing leaving earlier, but didn't know where the other man had went. She watched as the boy sitting across from her started to look scared and she put a light hand on his arm, trying to comfort him from whatever had frightened him.
"It's okay...whatever it is that scares you, you are safe for now.", she said softly, knowing that it probably wasn't: that James would probably get in trouble for letting the two leave, though she didn't know why he would. If they wanted to explore, then that shouldn't be a problem, should it?

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(Gonna repost this later...)

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James jumped when Monica put her hand lightly on his arm. Were his emotions that obvious on his face? James rand a hand through his hair, pulling it from the crimson ribbon that held it back away so his chocolate hair fell in his face. He bit his lip musingly. Should he try to go find the two humans? No, he didn't think he would. Drake had seemed to be in a good mood earlier, so the two would probably be okay. And James would bear whatever came his way whether he liked it or not, and he'd get punished for leaving these three without supervision as well.

The young man almost unconsciously reached down towards Gepetto's warm body below him, putting a hand lightly on his head. Humans were so warm, in more than one way. You could almost feel their souls inside of them, warming them from the inside out. James played with a lock of the man's hair as he reached over and picked up the pencil again.
Don't worry about me miss. I'm not. I was worried about what would happen if they came across Drake. Here they have me, out there there is no telling-

James broke off suddenly, slowly laying the pencil down. Stop writing, he told himself sternly. If Drake wanted them to know, then he'd tell them himself. It was no place for James to go about disclosing such things as Drakes true...nature.

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Monica still had her hand on James' arm as she read the words on the paper. What had this boy meant when he 'said' that? Were the other two in some kind of danger? Not that she cared, of course, but if the others were in trouble, then did that mean that she was too?
She only just realised that James was cold, not cold because it was cold, in fact the room was quite warm, but his skin was like ice, Monica could feel it through his clothes...it was unnatural, yes, but all Monica could think about was that this boy must be ill or something to have skin like that...

"Are you alright, James? You do not look well at all.", Monica asked, genuinely concerned for the boy. If he were ill, then he couldn't help her escape...
She put a hand on his forehead: still the same freezing temperature...this was starting to worry her...
"You should be in bed, even a servant must rest if he is ill, how else will he regain the strength to serve his master", she stated resloutely, not realising that hse had completely the wrong idea...

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Unconscious, yes- completly and utterly passed out. However, the young boy was slightly riled upon being pulled onto the floor. A soft 'uff' was expressed from his lungs, fingers weaving around tufts of invisibility. For that brief fleeting moment he felt strange, he felt like a piece of pathetic furniture, like a useless drunk. And then another sensation enveloped him, he was moved to the security of a leg- this was enough to wake him ever so slightly.

Soft eyelashes fluttered, he truly was a young beauty of a man- a girl with 'extremities' slapped on for convenience sake. His mouth was slightly ajar by now, pouty lips tucked underneath his tongue for a simple moment.

It felt strange, it felt good, it felt secure.

He felt the movement of James- he felt him lean forward, he felt him move his arms- he felt everything, and he liked it. He liked feeling every ounce of a person, it was an almighty feeling. And then suddenly a hand was rested upon his head. His moaned softly, a feeble sound expressed from his ajar mouth- he let his shoulder blades move against the other, nestling himself. He moved his body to the side, pressing his cheek to the other's leg while he pressed a gloved hand to James's leg, cradling it like a pillow.

It felt good.

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He couldn't really say why, but Tom felt compelled to follow the tanned girl. There really wasn't anything particularly special about her. Perhaps he was feeling the need for company? Or maybe she reminded him of his wife. Both were energetic and positive (far more than was healthy, in his opinion) and - so far as he could tell - made things work out for the better. So far. Things would go wrong at some point. Tings always did. It was like some unspoken rule that something must go wrong by the end of the day. He just hoped it wouldn't happen quite yet. He rather liked her company.

But he couldn't understand Deget's train of thought. This was a perfectly good vent right here. Why should they leave it? What was the point of spending extra time to find a new vent? The more time spent looking was that much less time left to live. But she was the unspoken leader. Again, he didn't understand why. Maybe it was the trusting feeling she gave off, or perhaps her commanding tone of voice. It might even have been the fact that she seemed to actually know what she was doing, while he hadn't the slightest idea. Whatever it was, he didn't question it. He simply followed her lead.

Door, door, door, door... Just how many doors did this place have? It was a good thing Tom wasn't the one looking around or he would have stopped after a short time. He might have the patience to sit for hours in the rain, but he simply didn't have the patience to check every room in a mansion. He was weird like that but he wasn't complaining.

And, suddenly, they were standing below another vent. There had been no warning except Deget's comment about shouting down the vent before disappearing into the vent. He watched, thought about climbing up, and then slapped himself (yes, physically. There was a beautiful red mark on his cheek afterward). He couldn't crawl through a vent behind a lady! That was just... wrong! But, if she got stuck... No, there was simply no way he was going through that bloody vent after Deget. If he had been first, that wouldn't have been a problem.

Cupping his hands around his mouth, he called, "I'll go down a different vent!" There, that was done. Turning around, Tom nearly walked into... .... Well, he wasn't quite sure what it was. It looked like a person, but at the same time, it wasn't. Now things were getting interesting. Was this good? Or was it bad? Or maybe it was a bit of both? He glanced back at the vent but didn't see Deget. He would have to deal with this himself.

One hand grabbed at his coat, fingering the knives through the fabric. The other reached out, cautiously, stopping just before the apparition. "Hello?" he asked, trying to brush the thing with his hand. "Who -no- what are you?"

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James looked down at Gepetto as the man stirred, pressing his body closer to James's leg. James's mouth bent upward in a soft momentary smile. It felt nice to have someone so warm and alive near him, someone who needed him for support without fear of being harmed. Of course, James did not know if the pretty young man's actions were merely because his brain was foggy, or because he trusted James. Whichever it truly way, James decided to go for the latter. It made him feel better.

Now to address Monica again. How should he respond? James mused as he ran his fingers through Gepetto's hair as if the man was a lap dog or a kitten. Do not worry about me, miss. I am perfectly fine. I've always been this chilly, for almost as long as I can remember. Drake says that it was a result of a childhood sickness or some such thing. James lied through his teeth, shaking his hair from his face as he looked back up at Monica. Believe me, he urged with his mind hoping that the young lady would believe him. The less she pried the easier it would be for James to remain unobtrusive and do his job.

Green eyes then turned back towards the blonde man, and James mused quietly about what was going on inside his head. Here he was, in all this danger, sleeping with his body cuddled up against one of his oppressors, looking like a doll come to life. James winced slightly as he realized something. He was investing too much emotion into this man. Some part of James actually wished he could be like Gepetto, sweet and pretty and mortal. So mortal. And instead of hating the young man for having something James did not, the young butler almost...what was a good word...James fished for a word to explain himself to his own mind, but none surfaced. He just knew that when the Blonde dies, a piece of James would mourn. Like he'd mourned for Zeke. Sweetness and innocence and beauty should not be subjected to such things.

Oh, Monica! James jerked his head back up, snapping from his train of thought and turning his gaze back to the blonde woman before him. I am sorry. He wrote shortly on the paper, which was about halfway filled with his scrawl.

--

Drake moved about the kitchen, humming lightly the entire time. "Breakfast for the humans." he sang to himself, grinning. He chopped food up haphazardly and threw it all into a large pot he had on the fire, leaning over to examine the simmering contents. Water, some kind of meat, carrots, four or five potatoes, which had been great fun to peel, and a smattering of various other ingredients, including flour, which had gotten everywhere except for into the pot like Drake had intended. James would have to clean that up later.

"Now, how long am I supposed to let this do that boiling thing?" He muttered to himself, frowning and pulling at his ear as his eyes traveled across a page of one of the many recipe books he'd been gifted. "Well, I'll just cook it until it looks sort of done or the fire goes out." he decided, closing the book with a snap.

Flour floated lazily in the air as Drake dusted off his clothing and leaned forward again to watch the soup, which had risen to a roiling boil. Curiously Drake stuck a hand into the water, capturing a little chunk of meat between two fingers. The flesh on his fingers turned an angry red, but it didn't hurt all that much. Drake stuck the bit of food into his mouth, tipping his head to one side. No, it didn't have the same release of desire that a good soul did, but at least it tasted as human food should.

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The apparition looked up and a smile appeared on its face but it wasn't really looking at Tom. It seemed to be like an old memory and then he ran, passing right-through-Tom. "I gotta tell Deget about tanight! Oh 'ello there James! I was just lookin' for ya.." The voice trailed out like the slowing rate of the film before slowly vanishing as it ran out of the room. A small voice said 'Be careful round 'ere, mon,' near Tom's ear and a warm-cold air seemed to pat the man's shoulder before vanishing. The air hung with a cheerful sadness and the feeling that a memory- something old but not forgotten- had just happened.

A moment later Deget dropped from the vent with a grunt and looked at Tom a bit strangely. "Didja call me?" She asked, looking around the man to see what he was exactly peering at but yet she saw nothing. The air, however, held the hint of something that'd been here- and it was familiar. "What's wrong Tom? Didn't see a ghost did you?" There was a joking expression on her face, but strangely she had a serious note to her voice.

Like she really wanted to know if the man had seen a spirit, a ghost, or merely anything. The woman's fingers were already twitching to get her notepad and jot down notes.

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Ohgodohgodohgodohgod! It passed through him. Right through him! Tom wanted to scream but he couldn’t. He never screamed. At least, not for good reason, and this, apparently, wasn’t a good enough reason. That or his body seemed to know better and kept him silent. He was forced to watch in silent shock as the event unfurled before him.

But one thing did catch his attention. The… thing (he had no idea what it was) seemed to know Deget. A ghost, maybe? It made sense. But ghosts weren’t real. Now, it was official; he truly was going crazy. He belonged in a sanitarium. Not a pleasant thought, but it was the truth. He didn’t belong here, one crazed man surrounded by sane people. Though, at the rate things were going, everyone was going to go crazy eventually.

” Be careful ‘round 'ere, mon,” a voice whispered. Tom turned, more sharply than he should have, but saw nothing. Great, now he was hearing voices. Shortly afterward, a warm pat on his shoulder had him turning the other way. And now he was feeling things. Would he start raving, too? No. He refused to let himself do so.

He shook his head and rubbed his neck where he had given himself a crick. Maybe… Maybe this would be like a cold. If he ignored it long enough, it would go away on its own. In the meantime, he’d have to settle for feeling like crap. Not the most pleasant solution, but it would do. Ignore it long enough and it would go away…

"Didja call me-“ “Whaugh!” Shrieking like a little girl (yes, he was teased often about that fact), Tom jumped away and turned to face Deget. She watched him curiously before questioning him jokingly.

He stared at her blankly, his eyes flicking between her hands, her face, and her notebook randomly. Had he seen a ghost? Yes, yes he had. But he couldn’t tell her that. She would think he was crazy. He could see it in her eyes. She wanted to write down what he had seen and it would only convince her of his sudden lack of sanity. This was not going well.

When had everything gone so wrong?! The moment he had stepped through those doors.

Tom forced himself to relax. He shook his head slowly, and laughed nervously. “No, of course not. There’s no such thing as ghosts…” He hoped he sounded more convincing than he thought. He couldn’t tell her. Not yet, anyways. Maybe later, when the time was better and he wasn’t quite so freaked. But just then, he wasn’t quite sure what he had seen.

Smiling suddenly - he knew he was being way too cheerful, but he was desperate to distract her - he asked, "Where should we go now? I know, let's find the kitchen. It should be morning now, or it's still night. I don't know. We should eat. I heard a voice mention food somewhere, I think." Great more voices. He really wasn't helping his case. How could he convince someone of his sanity when he couldn't convince himself? "Drink! Food! Sleep! Something!"

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Deget raised an eyebrow and seemed to slump in disappoint- she perked soon after. The man's strange behavior only fueled her belief and by fueling her belief, she became more determined. A laugh left her lips and she went over to Tom with a smile and a little cheerful hum. "Calm down, mon," she purred and ruffled his hair a bit. "Let's go get something to eat and then we'll find out what we wantta do next."

The woman looked around and frowned a bit. A name slipped past her lips, a whisper but it was unintelligible. Instead she wheeled around and just looked at the door- hat pulled down so the other wouldn't see the wetness that had come to her eyes.

She spoke quietly a small, " C'mon. Let's go."

With a little stretch and 'tsk', the Jamaican walked out of the room and began going to the nearest kitchen that she'd last seen. Go down, take a left and look for the...

Last door on the right. She opened it and blinked at the sight of the white-haired male by the name of Drake cooking. "Hullo there," the woman said respectful though her polite voice didn't fully meet her small smile.

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Drake looked over his shoulder as he heard a human voice. "Oh, hello there Miss Deget. I see you've been exploring. " He said, picking up the knife he had set down on the table and spinning it around on his finger a couple times before dropping it in the big metal sink with a clatter. He walked back over to the pot in the fire, sticking his bare hand in to see how hot it was, talking all the while to Deget over his shoulder. "You better keep an eye out though, I wouldn't wander these halls alone. Mind you, I do, and James can hold his own rather well, but I wouldn't want my guests getting hurt, now would I? If you are going to go exploring could you at least cart James along?" Drake asked, licking the broth from his blistering fingers for a moment before lifting the large pot from the flames and setting it on the marble counter top.

"Anyway, if you're looking for some human food, I'm going to bring it up to your rooms, so follow me if you're hungry. I don't take kindly to guests with a habit of stealing." he waved one hand in the air behind him as he talked, and then paused for a second, hand outstretched. After a few seconds of impatient waiting he started, looking around with an annoyed expression on his face. "Oh." he said to himself, shaking his head. "How foolish." He walked over to the other side of the kitchen to grab the ladle himself, as well as china plates and a handful of spoons.

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Deget's smile widened just a little and she chuckled quietly. "Yessur, I have," she hummed as she leaned against the door frame and watched Drake cook and wander about. Sticking your hand in a pot of boiling soup wasn't very smart but it was jotted down in that little notepad. The woman's attention returned back to the white-haired man.

"Of course. I'll whisk him away from where ever he is soon enough." She smiled at him and shook of her head. "I dun take too kindly to stealurs as well," was the murmured response. ' 'Specially those who steal humans from there families,' she thought to herself bitterly.

As she watched the man walk about, a sudden question rose to her throat and a muscle in her jaw faltered. "Do you remember my brother?"

Dammit. Her hope was that she could save it for later but just seeing this male who acted like all was fan-FUCKING-tastic in the world, in this mansion... God, it made her want to snap. The Jamaican woman would've pummeled him too- if she'd been younger and more foolhardy. She was older, wiser, and better. ... But that idea of punching the living shit out of Drake was tempting. Then the other part of her mind told her to focus and the other part thought, 'Kinda cute' but she quickly punched that part of her mind and thus, resulted in a wince on her part.

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Drake turned momentarily and gave Deget a broad smile. "Ah, you ask about your brother, I do remember him. He was a striking young man. Not very easy to forget." Drake said, turning back to his work. He ladled the soup into the bowls carefully, intent on not making a bigger mess for James to clean up. "I recall that I asked him to keep an eye on James, because he didn't seem to be mingling well with the others. From what James doesn't say, they got on quite well.' he said, thinking back to that evening. It had been one of the more interesting hunts. Especially since Drake had overindulged, and the whole thing was a bit of a blur.

"They went and explored the whole manor together. He was a good man. James doesn't get on well with many people. I've always worried about him, he never interacts with children his own age or anyone, really." Drake sighed lightly, as if he truly were worried, like a father worrying about his only child. "But I don't meddle, I just try to push him towards the right people. I heard somewhere that that was the way to do it." Drake waved the ladle around as he talked, shooting a glance back at Deget every so often. He was really getting into this whole doting father thing.

"So yes, I do remember your brother. You remind me of him, but I do think you a a touch more strong willed than he was. You seem like you balance him out well. Ah, but I recall you said he didn't come home after the Gala. That rather worries me, I must admit, I liked that man. And James will never admit it, but I am positive that boy liked him too." As Drake walked past Deget on his way to the sink the reached out and touched her face briefly, under her chin. No, she was more fiery, while Zeke had been much more on the sweeter side. Drake smiled slightly at her. "Yes, you two are quite alike. Such strong personalities." he murmured before continuing on his way. A thrill of excitement rose in his belly. Her soul was so strong. It was amazing. And alluring. It made Drake's stomach whine with hunger.

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Deget couldn't help but smile at what Drake said. She even relaxed a little and leaned against the door frame as she watched the man ladle out the soup into the bowls. Listening to the man that probably killed her brother speak so kindly- so sweetly- about her beloved older brother. 'Sounds like Zeke,' she thought to herself with a mental chuckle and a shake of her head. 'He and James.. I'm happy that they got along so well.' She couldn't help but think about that.

How much she already had a liking towards the young butler and how the butler had liked her brother.

The woman nodded her head occasionally as a few bangs went to fall to her eyes, shading the look of sadness in them that was covered up by a small lil' smile.

People had always said they were a little like yin and yang at times. Zeke was sweet and kind and loving without questioning anyone- without needing to be asked. Deget was a bit more stubborn, more sharp and more questioning than him with a touch more sass added to her genes. Said Jamaican chuckled and smiled at Drake a bit. "Thank you, Drake," she said quietly with a nod towards him. The touch of the white-haired male's hand under her chin was met with the reaction of Deget stiffening. She slowly relaxed and smiled right back at Drake, eyes kind but sharp. "Thank you- I'm sure my brother has good things to say about you, too," she murmured.

Her eyes sparked slightly at the end- it was just for a moment- but she told him with that little spark what she was thinking. 'I will get you. I will find out what you've done. And if I find out you ever hurt my brother, you're gonna wish you never invited me. But for now, I'm going to be nice and I'm going to like you.'

As the man walked away, Deget let out a quiet breath. "Dammit. That soup smells good," she murmured. Drake was beginning to get the 'acquaintance' title but she still had strong suspicions. The woman touched her necklace- it'd been tucked under her shirt- and sniffled. If only she had Zeke here to enjoy it with... No matter.

Maybe she'd go and get James.

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"Alright...I won't question you further about it...for now. Just know this: I don't believe a word of what you just wrote, although I don't know what exactly there is to be sorry for in your case.", she stared at James, somehow finding his solemn green eyes fascinating, though she didn't know why that was...maybe it was because they were so sincere, so...sad...as much as she hated the feeling, it broke her heart to see this child in this way...she shook her head to clear it: why was she feeling this way? He was just a servant, this was so inappropriate! And so much younger than her! Yet, despite all that...this child seemed like more than he was...there was an impossible agelessness in those eyes...so much sadness, and lonliness...yes, it broke her heart...if she didn't have to get out of here as fast as possible, she might have considered taking James with her, and get to work on removing that sadness from his heart...she actually felt bad about having to leave him up here with that monster, Drake, but it would have to happen...she could always come back for him, she supposed...with police and whoever else her father could get to come with her, so that this Devil would be destroyed...

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There was a word for moments like this, a word for the fleeting moments of strange comfort that such a leg could offer the young Frenchman. There was a word for the prickles of goosebumps that speckled the back of his arms as sweet golden eyes opened carefully.

Infatuation.

He was infatuated with; the stiff ironed warmth of James's pant-leg a fine material that Geppetto yearned to dream against, he was infatuated with the way he shifted around, with the way that marbled cold hand threaded through his hair. He felt his shoulders tense with each swaying movement of the other's hand, and he was even infatuated with that fleeting feeling that James's eyes were on him. Drunk. Was he still drunk? Perhaps that was what urked the helpless way Geppetto Castle clung to the other. Why James? Because, he could feel it the infatuation. He could feel the yearning inside the other for something greater, James didn't even need to speak- Geppetto wanted to take the other's problems and bear them on his own shoulders.

"Forgive me." And then reality sets in, and Sir Castle realized that he needed to release the other. It is only polite. And, the butler must be growing weary of entertaining the drunkard.

Carefully the blonde stood to his feet, he outstretched a gloved hand for support that was unnecessary- he simply wanted an excuse to feel that pulsating infatuation of James's extraordinary frame one more time before he graduated to his chambers, or perhaps to the toilet to vomit. Gloved fingers nestled carefully against James's leg, using that to stand to his feet. "Forgive me." He repeats again "I-" golden eyes lower to his hand, still resting on the other for a long drawn out moment before he finally pulls away. "I-" he can't find the words, the words that he needs to say- so he chooses not to say anything.

Castle slowly turned around, fingers curling under his collar as he made his way towards the door.

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Her mind not far from a panic, Esther left the other guests in the foyer and made her way down the hall to the room that Sir Drake said had been prepared for her. The room was a rather nondescript, albeit quaintly furnished place with a bed, sofa, chest of drawers, and a vanity. Despite her eyes traveling all about the room, the young lady saw none of this. Instead, she shut the door behind her...

"Wh-what...!?" The door did not have a lock on it! Was her plan to hide in here? Esther wasn't sure exactly, but if that had been her plan, it was foiled. She strode over to the bed and sat upon the edge, her body dropping dramatically. There, she softly began to weep, dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief. Fear had overtaken her body and she knew she needed to steel herself for the events to come, but for now...she would let her tears out.

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Tom watched her warily. She was willing to believe his story so easily? Or was she willing to avoid the situation to put him at ease? Or was there some ulterior motive? He couldn’t be sure, but he would let it slide. It wasn’t important – not yet, anyways – and would only hinder them. Instead, he followed after her silently, memorizing the path they took.

On the way to the kitchen he zoned out, so it was no surprise that he didn’t listen to Deget’s and Drake’s conversation. Besides, it had nothing to do with him. Instead, his eyes focused on the knife. Not the prettiest; just a standard knife used for cutting up food. But it was sturdy and strong, and probably quite sharp. More than enough to protect himself with and he wouldn’t have to feel bad about using it.

But it was in the sink and he couldn’t just walk over and take it. Not with Drake watching them. He fingered his coat, feeling the hard steel beneath and relaxing. He could come back when everyone had gone to sleep. He was used to staying up later than everyone else. That was practically part of his job.

All of this led to the question, How many paths were there? The mansion was huge, and Tom already knew there were vents scattered throughout the house. Not to mention, there was at least one trapdoor. Who knew how many paths there were to each room. If he could find all or even most of those paths…

He could practically rule this building.

If he could memorize the layout of the house, he could make a mental map of where everything was. He could find the fastest way from one room to another. No one would be able to catch him off guard! Mapping out the house wouldn’t be too hard, actually. He’d been mapping out the streets for years; more than long enough to perfect his memorization and mental mapping skills. But that was outside, this was a house. It would be different, but essentially the same.

The faster he memorized the mansion, the faster he gained an advantage over everyone. This was easier said than done. How could one find a secret door if they didn’t even know where to start looking? Actually, he had a hint. Thinking back, Tom remembered the voice from the closet mentioning a “Jamesie”. Even now, Drake was talking about exploring with James. Maybe this James person would be able to help.

“James,” he murmured, talking more to himself than anyone in particular. James was the butler, right? The last place he had seen James was the main room, where everyone had been locked in. “Must find.” He turned to leave, not at all paying any attention to Deget or Drake. The two were unimportant at the moment, and he could always find Deget again at a later time if he wanted. After all, it was just the five of them until someone snapped…

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Deget had already begun making her way to where she had last seen James, going in an opposite direction than Tom had gone. On here way back to the main room the smell of soup wafted into her nostrils. She peeked Drake setting up soup but decided to pass quickly in fear of becoming side-tracked, in fear of becoming drawn into him or doing something rash.

It was not the time to feel rage. She needed to find James.

After a number of twists and turns and run-ins with closets, the woman found the main room and approached the door. Opening the it, she narrowly hurt herself on the door for it swung inward and not outward.

"Oh surry," she said quickly when she almost ran into Gepetto. The woman grinned a bit and gave a small pat on the blonde's shoulder. "Ya look tired. Maybe you should go to ya room or something for a little while. By the way." She dropped her voice to a whisper. "In one of the kitchens, they got stored rum. Just a heads up if ya want it."

With another pat on the shoulder, Deget walked over to James and looked at him. "Hey James. I don't mean to be very blunt or offending but do ye think ya can.. tell me about my.. brother? Please?" Her voice had softened a touch when she mentioned her brother and the Jamaican seemed to be holding back something, blinking a bit before swallowing and relaxing.

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James sighed, a reaction not only to Monica's words, but also because Geppeto had gotten up. He watched the young man get up and walk away after apologizing. James felt almost empty without the gentle warmth beside him. He stared after Gepetto for a long second before turning back to Monica with a half smile on his face. Much more than you can imagine, Miss. He wrote, his other hand dangling down next to the chair as if there was still a pretty blonde head below it.

Then he studied Monica's face. What exactly did she want from him? She was obviously one from a high class, one of those who wore their corset too tight and were born to rule over their underlings with an iron fist. But she seemed to honestly care what he was writing. What did she want? And then it dawned on him. She probably thought if she befriended the young butler she'd have a greater chance of survival or escape. And smile grew upon James's face. Such a silly thought. But he rather liked the attention, even if being around humans made him uncomfortable, so he'd indulge her. String the young lady along a bit. Maybe, just maybe, keep a bit of an eye out for her. But she'd still die, there was no avoiding that, no.

Deget burst through the door and made James relax. Well, she looked somewhat okay. Sad, but okay. Her request made James's jaw go slack. Zeke. Deget wanted Him to tell her about her brother. Oh God no, he didn't want to think about that one now. He sighed heavily through his nose and shot Monica a glance. Then he grabbed the pencil and wrote,

Yes. Zeke, I remember him. We explored the castle together. But I'm sure you know quite a bit more about him than I do Miss.

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Deget had to refrain from egging James on. She knew the boy probably didn't want to think about her brother, to talk or discuss him. In her mind she knew that James had been friends with her brother and because of that it would probably be hard for him to talk about Zeke. But still.. Maybe she shouldn't ask the butler all too much.

"No need to call me miss, Sir." Her voice was gentle and teasing at the end as she sighed deeply. "Ya can sign if you want, too, by the way. Whatever you are better at or like doing more," the woman murmured.

Her lips pursed into thin lines and she closed her eyes for a moment- and you can see how much stress she'd had. The woman was only 24 years of age but yet there were already wrinkles forming in her forehead. There were were already stress lines that deepened in their valley from the edge of her eyes and then thinned out somewhere near her cheeks. All of a sudden, Deget just looked tired and beaten. But soon she straightened and let out a little puff of breath- and the fire in her soul and in her heart went back to burnin'.

She looked back at James and smiled. "Did he.. say anything about where he'd go after the party? Anything about plans or about me? 'A course ya don't have tu answer but I'd appreciate it if you could."

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No, not that i know of, James signed slowly for Deget. But he talked of many things, so it may be that I missed him say that, or don't remember. James shot a glance at the door to make sure Drake was not around before continuing, Drake is a bit of a handful, so I forget quite a bit. He did talk quite a bit about you though. It seemed like you two were very close. James squeezed his eyes shut for a second after he finished 'speaking', pinching the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger. He didn't much like thinking about that hunt. Not only had it been one of the hardest on the boy's emotions, but he'd also fallen out of a window twice, making for pain an virtually all levels. Most of him memory of that was faded, even though it had merely been a short time ago.

James ran his hand through his hair unconsciously and sighed. Humans could be so...stressful. High maintenance, and hey always had a nose for pinpointing the things that hurt the most. James's family, anyone he'd killed, things like that. It didn't help much that James was eternally trapped in a teenager's body, with emotions that roiled like the ocean during a typhoon.

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"Hmm?" Geppetto swayed a bit, eyes flashing only slightly when Deget set a hand on his shoulder. He liked her- she was bright and vivascious, like a sister he'd never had. "Ah. Rum." he repeated, fingers weaving through his hair. "Thank you."

He felt good as he walked, very good.

Rum? It was so very tempting, but no he was practically already tripping over his feet. He was afraid of what he might find in the halls, what might jump out at him? The young blonde strolled along, fingers reaching out to touch the sides of the walls as he walked, thoughts touching down on James very often.

And Drake?

How frightening it would be to run into the man, the very man who treated others as if they were a plaything.

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Deget slowly nodded and smiled at James, expression softening as she leaned forward and gave him a small hug. "Thank you." She leaned back and sighed a bit. "I appreciate what you've told me. I'm sorry if I stressed you out or anything; I won't bring him up anymore, if you'd like." The woman offered him a slight chuckle but even that faltered and quieted.

She could feel the tears fighting to get through but she fought right on back. "We were very close," she murmured. "Ya know.. S-Sometimes, I just feel like... Like he's gone. But then it's like something kinda pinches me and tells me to keep on lookin' because God knows I ain't one to give up and throw in the rag." She laughed a bit. "I'm just happy that you two- you and Drake- were able ta at least tell me somethin'," she said with a shrug and another weak chuckle.

From the corner of her eye, she snapped her head to look at the corner. A man was there- pants, dress shirt, and a vest. He was twiddling his thumbs and looking around, his head going to her as he suddenly seemed to perk and look up at someone. "Oh 'ello there, Mr. Drake," was the apparition's cheerful comment before the scene slowly faded away.

"..."

What. The. Hell.

"... I need some food," the Jamaican whispered as if she'd just seen a ghost and had an epiphany at the same time, slowly walking away with a shake of her head. "Going nuts."

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Drake watched Deget leave, then furrowed his brow. Wow, he was starting to become rather inattentive, wasn't he. He hadn't even noticed Tom until the man spoke softly and turned around to leave. It now bounced about in the back of Drake's brain. Why hadn't he noticed the human? He'd have to get James to keep an eye on that man, just to be safe. Quickly, Drake placed all the bowls and the other food he'd prepared, some biscuits and tea, on a large silver tray, one of the ones James could balance on one had so easily, and made his way slowly down the hall and up the stairs.

At the top of the stairs he spotted a blonde head making it's way down the hall. It was Gepetto. Drake followed the young man silently for a little while, but soon his curiosity got the better of him. He set the silver tray down on one of the many little tables that held up vases and all that type of thing and called out to the young man in a cheery voice. "Mister Gepetto, How goes it?" He sped up slightly to stroll beside the young blonde man, a light smile on his face.
__

James smiled sadly at Deget. Why did humans have to make his not-life so hard? She hugged him gently, unaware that it had been him who'd killed her precious older brother, but then she looked up and away,as if there was something in the corner of the room. She looked rather scared. James tipped his head to one side curiously. What had happened there? He stared momentarily at the corner as Deget walked away, muttering something about needing food, but he saw nothing. How odd.

The young man turned back to Monica, thoughts buzzing in his head. That had been an interesting conversation. What had Deget seen that made her react in such a way? James hadn't seen anything there, so that meant that there hadn't been anything there, right?

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Oh how frightening. That chilling voice, one that made Geppetto feel so very uneasy.

He turned swiftly to stare at the man who had just approached, eyes slightly widened still from his earlier escapade. "I'm-" He steadied himself, showing no desire to allow the other to smell alcohol on his breath. "I'm fine, yes. Well, thank you." Geppetto stopped, and took the time to press a hand across his chest bowing his head. He curled his nose after that and slicked his hair backwards.

"Forgive me. I have already- burdened your butler. I think it might be best if I would retire-" He turned away, blushing. It was hard to meet Drake's gaze, the man was so frightening for some reason.

This man was the cage and he was the yellow bird.

Goodbye little yellow bird.

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Right. Left. Through a few more doors then down the hall. He knew exactly where he was going, but he let his feet carry him around. And then he stopped. a voice drifted towards him and he cocked his head curiously. The voice was familiar; there was no way Tom would ever forget Drake's voice, but he didn't feel like stopping. Lowering his head, he brushed past them. The less contact he made with them, the better. He needn't have bothered lowering his head, though. His expression had gone back to neutral, making him resemble a wooden sculpture, and his eyes never betrayed his emotions, anyway.

And then he stopped, glancing back. Blond hair, dazed expression. He knew the stance, the look, and the smell. The man was a drunkard. If the man wasn't drinking, then he was dreaming of drinking. Tom knew the type, having had to drive several around the city. Drunks were either very harmless or very dangerous. He would have to find out which category this man fell in. Otherwise, he was in for a nasty surprise.

Tom glanced down the hall. He wanted to find James and start mapping out the mansion, but he needed to know more about the Frenchman. Finally, he shook his head and turned around. He could map the building at any time, but he didn't have quite as much time to learn about his opponents. He made his way back to the pair, not sure how much he had missed and not particularly caring. He didn't force his way into the conversation or try to get between the two men. Instead, he kept his distance and watched - and followed, if Geppetto decided to move. He wasn't about to recklessly throw himself into a dangerous situation.

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It was like her instinct kicked in. Her protective instinct that is. Deget ran across Geppetto and Drake but kept her distance. She hid behind a convenient, little coffee table and peeked over it like a child spying upon their parents. Oh poor Geppetto.. To run across Drake like that. Even though she wasn't nervous around Drake, there was only the slightest bit of unease. And you have got to learn something about this woman. Sometimes she can be a little nervous but never uneasy.

"Just go, Clock, go," she urged him through a whisper though the blonde couldn't hear her. Wait, what was she doing? Hiding? Ugh, the things that got into her sometimes..

She spotted Tom across the hall and raised an eyebrow but well, who cares.

Instead she stood up and walked by casually, smiling at Geppetto and nodding at Drake before going to her room. She gave Tom a questioning look before going into her- and Jame's- 'quarters.' The Jamaican closed the door and sat down on the bed with a sigh. Well. Ya can't save everybody and that proved to be too true tonight. At least she had soup- seems Drake had visited her room and the drink was still pretty hot.

She blew over it softly as the ripples of the liquid commenced afterward. With her closed- but not locked- door, Deget was left with her thoughts and musings and ponderings for the moment.

But she was blessed with the 'Busy-Bee' syndrome and wouldn't sit around for all too long.

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Drake looked The young blonde man up and down. He did not look well, not in the slightest. "Oh, don't you worry about burdening James. That is what he is there for. And between you and me, I think he likes the work. It keeps him busy. Why else would he have stayed with me so long." He smiled down at the man for a second before turning and grabbing a bowl from the tray. "Here. This should make you feel better." He said, pressing it into the young man's hand just as Deget walked by. He watched her stroll by to her room, then spotted the other man, Tom. He nodded slightly at the man before turning back to Gepetto. "I'll tell James to check on you later, Sir, to make sure you are feeling better." Drake smiled brightly before turning, and resuming his distribution of food.

He first stopped at Tom's room, setting the bowl on the nightstand. Then he proceeded on to Monica's room, and Ester's room, who he found was inside. He remained silent as he set the bowl and the teacup right inside the door, before slipping back out. no need to disturb her. The he went to find James, who he found sitting at a table with Monica. "Breakfast is in your room." he told her, then leaned close to James and whispered in his ear. "Keep an eye on Tom, I'm having trouble seeing him. Also, Gepetto doesn't look well, would you drop in on him later? I want this game to be fun," he said before turning away.

James nodded. Tom, where was Tom? Oh well, James would find him later. But he knew why Gepetto was ill. Too much to drink. And the young man had already intended to check on the pretty young man anyway, seeing as it was more or less than his fault that Gepetto was in such a state.

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Geppetto's gloved hands settled over the bowl he'd been ushered, truly it was a kind act- perhaps he could forget those harsh eyes even if for a single moment to enjoy the contents of that lovely bowl. "Ah. Thank you." And then bravery boiled in over the blonde and he reached out swiftly, fingers wrapping around the other's coat just before he began to leave. "You shouldn't treat him that way." He met the other's gaze fearlessly unwavering golden orbs thickening. James. It was so very obvious that was the 'him' to which he referred.

And then he released the other. "What a lovely thought." he ushered towards the soup, naturally pursed lips puckering before he turned.

Deget, the busy little bee ran by him and he caught her smile.

Slowly he turned away and then made his way to his room, fingers waving over the door as he let himself inside. He set the soup to the side, not particularly fond of what might be within it. Like tiny pieces of a doll he removed his jacket, long slender limps slipping out of the beautiful material which he had sent for to be made from the city. Beneath he wore a long white collared jacket with a black buttoned vest. He didn't have the will to remove anything else- so he stretched out over his bed, long limbs catlike as he pillowed his head.

It felt good. Good to breath, to trace his fingers along the headboard of such a fancy bed.

It felt good to pretend that his life wasn't in danger.

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Deget. Poor Deget. Tom watched her walk past and returned her questioning glance with a blank stare. He liked her and didn't want her to get hurt, but the game was set up so that everyone would be hurt eventually. Poor, poor Deget. She didn't deserve this. No one did. He watched her disappear into her room. Perhaps he could help her, keep her out of harms way for as long as possible. Yes, that was what he would do. Even though they might have to fight in the end, it would be worth it.

That decided, he returned his attention back to his current task. Drake left, carrying the tray to the various rooms to drop off food. Tom followed Geppetto to the Frenchman's room, stopping when the door was shut. The blond didn't seem all that dangerous, now, did he? But even the gentlest of animals could become dangerous if cornered, and drunks had a tendency to lash out more easily than everyone else. No, he couldn't take any risks. Geppetto would have to be the first to go.

But he couldn't kill a man. Tom approached the door and placed a hand against the wood. He simply couldn't kill anyone here. But what if he didn't? He didn't have to touch them at all. What if he created situations or 'accidents' that would take of everyone? The whole mansion was a playing board and everyone inside were the pieces. It was simply a matter of maneuvering everyone and everything to his advantage. He wouldn't touch a single person here.

Everyone else would do the job for him.

Tom never knocked and never tried to open the door. A hollow grin graced his lips as he turned and walked away. Now the game made more sense. If he couldn't win with brawn, he would win with his brains. Now it was essential that he map out the mansion. If he could find every path available to every part of the building - and possibly hidden entrances to the rooms - he could survive. He could manipulate his surroundings and the participants as he saw fit. At last, he had a fighting chance.

Tom made his way back to the main room to find only James and Monica alone. Everyone else, it seemed, had left for their rooms. Not surprising since everyone had been up basically all night. Everyone must have been getting tired and there was food in their rooms. But as long as Monica was there, his plans were drawn to a halt. He couldn't drag a woman along! Not even Deget. And he certainly wasn't going to aid this potential opponent. No, she simply had to go. She had to be put in her room, even if she had to be dragged - kicking and screaming - and chained to her bed, she simply had to go to her room.

And James. Tom cocked his head and smiled, that same scheming smile that had seen the front of Geppetto's door. James would help him map the mansion. Drake had been constantly reminding both him and Deget to bring the butler along when they explored, surely that meant something. So Tom would take the butler. The more help he had, the better.

The smile vanished as Tom approached the pair. Bowing to Monica, he turned his head toward James and studied the pair cautiously. He would have to tread lightly if he wanted things to go according to plan. The first step had to remove Monica from the picture. The sooner she left, the sooner he got to explore.

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James looked up at Tom with a questioning stare. Then his gaze turned to Monica. He picked up the pencil again and scrawled out, How may I be of assistance to you, sir? Or are you aiming to talk to Monica? Then leaned back in his chair. A good opportunity to detach himself from Monica's side, and her conversation, which had slowed down severely after Deget had interrupted, wanting to talk about her brother, and follow Tom, like he was told. Of course, until he got bored and went on to check on Gepetto. James mused for a few seconds on how drunk The pretty young man would be then. Hopefully he would be feeling better, or James would feel bad for making him so sick. Another thing to ad to his list of guilt that followed him everywhere.

So much guilt. James tugged on his tie, swallowing hard. then he pulled on the collar of his jacket, adjusting the black material until it rested more comfortably on him. It was a shade too big for him, the tailor who'd crafted it had been unskilled at creating a fine suit for a boy so small. His cold fingers rubbed at his neck as his eyes traveled around the room again. No one was there anymore, apart from Monica next to him and Tom. Everyone must have been either in their rooms or out exploring. most likely in their rooms. This was probably a very traumatic for the humans, and they'd stayed up all night. even James was starting to feel the strain of staying up too long, and he yawned luxuriously, like a cat, displaying two perfect rows of teeth and a less than perfect mangled bit of muscle in the back of his throat.

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Esther couldnt' bring herself to even look at the soup. What kind of animal was this Drake anyway? He steals everyone away from their lives, locks them away with the intention to kill...and then brings them a warm meal? It didn't make any sense. Nothing did...

The girl dabbed at her eyes one last time before standing up and catching her breath. No sense in crying now. Weakness wouldn't do in this situation, especially if the others picked up on it. She didn't believe that any of the other guests would actually attempt to kill another...unless someone snapped? Quickly, Esther's mind raced through what she knew of each guest...

The young blonde man seemed quite mild mannered and treated her like a proper gentleman should. That other man...Tom, was it? He didn't look like he had much of a grasp on anything. His eyes...so hollow. He was definitely one to watch out for. Then there was Monica. Strange...a few hours ago she'd hated her. Now, seeing the girl made her feel calm somehow. Like she still retained a piece of her old life here. There was also that jamaican woman with the strange name. Esther didn't quite trust her either. She was too...relaxed. An evil man has locked everyone away and she skips around like it's a scavenger hunt. Still...that could mean that the woman had a good head on her shoulders. Could Esther perhaps rely on her? Lastly, there was the young butler. Forget it. Something had to be terribly wrong for him to willingly stay here and put up with Sir Drake's abuse. She decided then and there that he wasn't to be trusted in the slightest.

"So that's it then..." Esther whispered to herself. Straightening her dress and gathering her courage, she slowly opened the door to her room and stepped out into the hall. If she could recall correctly, his room would be...

Two soft knocks echoed through Geppetto's room and the door opened hesitantly. Esther peeked through to the young man lying on his bed. "Excuse me, Sir Geppetto? Could I...could I please come in?"

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Just as the young golden haired gentleman had begun to drift off into 'Geppetto land' there was a knock at his door.

Could it be the silent butler? James?

The knock was followed by the dainty voice of a petite young woman. Esther? Yes it was Esther. "Yes?" There was a shuffling sound he he slid off of his bed, fingers quickly jutting up to the collar of his shirt to fix the mess he'd created of himself. He felt slightly indecent- not wearing a jacket, it wasn't like he was naked or anything, but he felt that a jacket was more than appropriate for a woman to be seeing him in.

"But of course, mademoiselle, but of course." He approaches the door, bowing his head to her- never one to forget his manners even if he was still tipsy, and even if they were opponents bent on killing eachother.

"Is there something I can do for you?" Hesitant golden eyes seeking nothing more than to gage the woman's health traveled up and down her form swiftly. He wondered how this woman was taking things, he'd been quite amused with Deget's eagerness, quite frightened of the way Tom's eyes followed him around- and quite un biased towards any of the other guests whom he had failed to make contact with.

Pale. She looked pale.

"Mademoiselle, you look rather ill. Might I insist that you sit down?" He looked slightly flustered in his feeble attempt to find a seat for her, fingers weaving over his thin arm as he glanced around his room. There was a small side-table where he'd set his untouched bowl of soup, he grabbed the chair and pulled it over against the wall nearest to her, so that she might have a seat. "Please, I must insist."

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Deget gulped down her soup like a depraved man who had his first drink of water in years. She stretched and yawned, quickly getting up and walking out of her room with a confident stride. She passed Esther and gave the woman a nod before taking a right down a hallway and taking the- in a poet's terms- road less traveled.

This hallway was dimly lit and a bit musky when she thought about it. And it was exactly what she'd been hoping for. Things like this meant more little passageways and even though they'd be dusty and dirty- they held secrets.

She found a vent and searched the hall quickly found a nice lil' vent.

Elbow to the metal, chair as a boost and she was up though going head first this time and hanging by her hands. She nudged the chair back to something close to its previous position with her foot, got the vent in her left hand and hefted herself up into the vent. The vent's entrance was quickly replaced into (somewhat of) its previous looks though the dent was a bit noticeable. Eck; This was pretty dirty, too. A lizard had quickly investigated her hat and made itself comfy on her shoulder as she crawled through the vent with a cough.

"Bloodeh hell. Place needs ta be cleaned up," she muttered as she made her way down the vent. If only this wasn't oh so loud... But they probably couldn't hear her.

Hopefully.

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Esther took the seat Geppetto readied for her. In her hands she twisted her damp handkerchief. "I suppose I do feel rather ill. I...I'm sorry to bother you, I just..." she was struggling to find the words, "I just...don't want to be alone." It came out a little clumsier than she'd hoped, but the overal feeling was conveyed nonetheless. She sighed softly and looked at him, her face a mixture of fear and sincerity.

"Do you think we can trust the others?" Esther blurted it out before she'd had a chance to think about it. Was she even sure she could trust him? She supposed so. At least for now.

"I just want to get out of here as soon as possible. If we stay together I'm sure we'll be all right." She paused a moment, thinking of how she should put her thoughts into words. "Perhaps if we get Monica and that jamaican woman we can find a way to escape this place..."

She looked down to the floor. The smell of alcohol emanated from the young man. Suddenly, Esther wasn't so sure this was a good idea. Still, he had shown her a kindness she took solace in. Looking back up, she flashed him a smile that hid gritted teeth. If they could trust each other, all the better. But she'd settle for him trusting her.

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He feels sorry for her, she is having trouble adjusting as well as some of the others- this is understandable, perhaps this means that she is the most sane of them all. "I understand." He sits on the corner of his bed closest to her, lowering his eyes as he runs a quick hand through his hair. And then the question is asked and he needs to think honestly about this.

"I'm not sure, I don't know the nature of everyone. But I do know that trusting eachother is the only way we're going to escape. I don't think we should do anything drastic yet--- I think that we need to get a feel for our environment." He feels sick, suddenly so very sick- he wants to vomit, but he holds it in- not wanting to offend the lady he is entertaining. Pretending that he is entertaining this woman in a little piece of property that momentarily belongs to him is one of the only things that helps Geppetto feel normal, feel like there is nothing wrong.

"I know that you can trust Deget- she was the first one that helped James while he was down for the count." He smiled. "I do hope that you feel that you can trust me, I am a peaceful man when not provoked- and if you are in trouble I will be here to help all the same."

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Monica watched as James' eyes travelled around the room, and then yawned: the boy was getting tired, as was she. She didn't normally stay up this late, her father would have never allowed it. She had a feeling that James was contemplating leaving with the other man, Tom, was it? That was a good thing, it meant that she no longer felt obliged to stay in the room, and could go to her room.
"It's quite alright, James. I was about to retire to my room anyway", she said kindly as she stood, noting the odd expression on Tom's face, as if he didn't want her to be there, which was strange, since she hadn't even spoken to him yet.
She went to her room, where she sat down on the bed, the bones of her corset digging into her again.
This won't do at all...not if we are in danger..., she thought, annoyed as she went to the wardrobe, hoping that Drake, the monster that he was, would have at least provided a change of clothing for his guests. He had, simple clothes, but they would do, Monica supposed, unhooking the buttons of her dress, letting it pool around her feet. The corset went next, the extra breathing space feeling strange to her at first, but the restrictive piece of clothing was soon flung to the side.She took off her shoes and stockings, leaving her feet bare. She then got dressed in the clothes provided: a simple shirt and trousers, the latter of which she had never actually worn before: it wasn't proper for a lady to show her legs this way. But what do manners mean in Hell?, she thought with a sad smile. Now moving to the dresser, she started to remove the pins from her hair, allowing it to flow down her back in thick waves, which she then held with one of her ribbons to stop it getting in the way.
Looking in the mirror, she appeared a completly different person: not the delicate young socialite that she had looked like previously, but more like the negro woman, Degat. That was good: if she were going to survive, she could not do so in that dress, it would restrict her movement too much...and she needed to move, if she were going to fight.
How could Drake think that I'm just going to roll over and die? I don't think so..., she thought to herself as she left the room, hoping to find something she could use as a weapon.

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Drake was having a grand time in his room, sitting at his desk with an fountain pen, what a delightful invention it was. He was playing with sketching out various portraits. He wasn't very good at drawing with the messy pen, but they faces were at least halfway recognizable. There was James, leaning out a window, an annoyed look on his face. That had been from when Drake had taken up hunting birds and left all the carcasses out on the back lawn. James liked animals, and seeing so many dead ones had really annoyed him. He'd signed down a few vulgar things at Drake, which he had found extremely amusing. At the next Gala there had been an abundance of fowl related dishes, and both James and Drake's fingers had been red and raw from plucking so many birds. Drake smiled fondly at the memory. They stayed up for three days straight plucking all the birds, and it had been great fun.

Then there was a rough sketch of Deget, another face beside her's. Zeke's. They truly did look quite a bit alike. There was also one of Esther, of her staring directly out of the page at the viewer that made Drake smile. He wondered how much power the pretty young lady really did have. Wouldn't it be great fun if she actually managed to kill some one? Drake would egg her on and see, he decided.

Now he was working on one of the pretty young man, Gepetto. Thant one reminded him of James the first time they'd met. Maybe that was why he'd decided to pick the young man. And it was obvious that James must fancy him, seeing that one bottle of red was missing from Drake's room. No one else would have been able to unlock the door apart from James, who had all the keys to the manor.

How sweet was it.

James, fancying a human. It was almost laughable. But the boy was still human at heart, no matter how much Drake had tried to squash the little quirks of compassion the boy still kept. OH well, it would be better to let him keep being smitten and having the man, Gepetto, the pretty little pet, die than try to squash the feelings on his own. It wasn't like James could run off any where, or do anything bad. Drake was still in control of the situation.

As he finished the likeness of the slight blonde, Drake leaned back and sighed lightly. Maybe he should try his hand at painting again. Wouldn't it be hilarious to bring the guests in for a sitting so he could paint them? Or maybe he could play around with charcoals. The ink was already covering his hands, so getting them messier would be much of a bother.

Time to start on Monica's face.

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Deget climbed around with a groan and felt herself fall, tumbling down a chute that led to God Knows What. Her yell- scream- echoed slightly before she landed face first onto the floor. Fucking ouch! Unlike similar events of things such as this from when she was younger this wasn't fun. The ground underneath her was cold and she could smell bugs or flies buzzing about.

Something smelled rank and her nostrils flared at the more natural air.

Where was she? The woman hesitantly reached out as her fingers brushed against what was seemingly the wall next to her. Then trailed down the bumpy edges of something before finally going into use. The room or the place she was in could be described as a tunnel without any lights. Now her eyes were fairly used to adjusting to the darkest of exteriors and interiors from her nights in Jamaica. But even this was a lot for her eyes to make out but when she finally did get used to it she decided one thing.

To explore.

The woman stood up shakily and grunted as she carefully felt around with her foot, with her hands and arms. God it was cold in here but with a sense of warmth.

Outside warmth. God damn, this could turn out bad. The walls felt solid- slightly hollow but solid. Hm.. She probably couldn't get back into the chute so it was just going to go forward from here.

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Esther gave Geppetto an honest, contented smile. "Thank you Sir Geppetto," her voice was not unlike that of a tiny drop of sugar dissolving in a hot tea. "I feel much safter knowing not everyone has lost their minds yet. Let us be able to count on each other, yes?" She stood up slowly, smoothing out the ruffles in her gown. "I shan't keep you any longer good Sir. Do try to have a peaceful evening." She nodded her head demurely and gracefully strode to the door, opening it and disappearing behind it without a sound. Once on the other side, she leaned up against the wooden frame, sighing in despair. How in God's name would she get out of this mess? How would any of the guests get out? Esther was afraid to find out. What was even more frightening was the knowledge that she soon would find out.

Just then, the door across from Esther opened. Out stepped what looked to be Monica...but she was dressed in a most peculiar fashion. She had shed her dress for a rather plain looking, boyish garment and her hair was pulled back garishly. "M-Monica...? What are you doing?" Esther was a proverbial cournocopia of emotion. Instant disgust to see Monica, as was her habitual feeling toward the girl. A wave of relief to see a familiar face. And shock to find her in such a state.

Esther took a step toward the blonde heiress. "Monica, listen. That young man, Geppetto...he and I are going to escape. We're not about to indulge Sir Drake in any sick sport. If we stick together he cannot touch us. Please, come with us. It will be safer that way."

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Geppetto smiled, nodding as she left fingers tightening around tresses that surrounded his pants. He felt a lot better, he didn't feel as sick as before, for once he felt strong. Perhaps he felt jubilant because he knew there was someone that would be there for him.

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"Mum."

Flash, suddenly his eyes flicker and he is standing in France. Dirty five year old fingers are wrapped needily around his mother's dress- the prostitute with pretty blonde hair and large blue eyes, she truly was a beauty- painting down like a doll with make-up and powder and pinched cheeks to make her look lively. She had large dark circles around her eyes, but Geppetto couldn't have loved a woman any more than she loved him.

Her eyes slowly lower to meet his.

"Pourquoi sont nous ici ? " (( Why are we here? )) Geppetto asks softly, starved hands trembling with low blood sugar.

"Geppetto c'est le temps que je vous ai enseignés quelque chose. La vie est des sacrifices et de l'amour."
(( Geppetto, it's time that I taught you something. Life is about sacrifices and love. )) His mother leans down, she smells funny. Like the 'nono' liquid she carries around with her, it's called 'nono' because Geppetto is 'too young' to try any of it.

"Quand vous faites des sacrifices il vous aide, quand vous faites des sacrifices pour l'amour - il aide votre âme. Le chéri, sacrifiez-vous pour vos aimés, c'est la seule vraie façon de mener une bonne vie." (( When you make sacrifices it helps you, when you make sacrifices for love- it helps your soul. Darling, sacrifice yourself for your loved ones, this is the only true way to live a good life. ))


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Sacrifices, make sacrifices. Was he really going to listen to the cheap words of a cheap woman? The words that came from the very mouth of a whore who sold her body for money?

He couldn't deny it though, as he slowly lay back down on his bed, pressing a hand to his heart. He couldn't deny that those words rarely left his mind.

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Monica smiled at Esther's obvious shock at what she was wearing, she knew it would be unusual, although she was actually glad that it was the other female who had first senn her in this way. If she had come across a male first, it would have embarrased her.
"I was thinking the same actually...although, why stop at escaping? If we can, we should kill him. It's not like he will let us go without a fight anyway...Do you know where Degat is? She was exploring earlier, so she may know where to find weapons..", she said quietly, though her voice was full of strength, looking up and down the corridor, as if expecting to see the dark-skinned woman appear from nowhere. She didn't particularly want to bring her rival along with her, and that disgusting drunkard, but if it would help her escape, then so be it. James probably couldn't help, she realised, he was too bound to his master to betray him. She never though it possible, but sometimes a servant's devotion to one's master could actually be rather annoying, especially in this case...

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Deget popped out of a closet with a squeal and rolled a bit, eyes wide and slightly surprised. She jumped up and let out a little 'YES!' before dancing around like a.. She just didn't know what she danced like. She was so fucking happy it was almost unbelievable. Vents led to different places, different places also equaled secret places and secret places equaled happy lil' Jamaican woman~ God, this was such a major discovery for her. She was so excited, she couldn't wait to tell Ze-

Oh wait. Yeah, that wasn't possible..

She sighed and began making her way out of the room to tell James what she'd found. She was down the hall from the other three and went to go see the butler, spotting Tom and waving at him. " 'Ey guys! Guess what I found? Guess~!"

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Drake's eyelids fluttered as he succumbed to the heavy weight of sleep. His head tipped down until his face was resting against the scrap of paper he'd nearly finished a sketch of Monica on. The warmth of the mid morning sun lay on his back like a soft blanket, its light magnified by the thick-paned glass. And Drake dreamed. Most of Drakes dreams frightened the soul eater, they were of times before now, times when there was no warmth for the young man, when he'd lain hungry and mad for days on end, covered in gore and dirt, not a rational thought to his name. Those dreams scared him because they were so vivid. Like he could go back to how he had been, feral and mindless. A stupid animal.

But not this lovely morning. This morning Drake's dreams were of a different sort. But no less frightening. Oh, how could Drake have a dream that did not scare him witless? That was why Drake tried to avoid sleep like it was the plague.

The air was chilly and shattered multi-colored glass was scattered everywhere across the corridor. Drake leaned his white head out into the night, a grin on his face. Below he could see the limp form of James, who'd exited the window just a few seconds before. He opened his mouth to make a comment to the young Jamaican man beside him, but the chocolate skinned man had a different idea. Angry fingers reached out and caught Drake by the neck, much stronger than they should have been. Drake was not expecting that. His eyes flashed with horror. That wasn't how it was supposed to go.

And then it was Drake tumbling from the window, not Zeke as it had truly been, and Zeke slamming one strong fist into Drake's suddenly much to human chest as he lay, not alive, but not able to die either. James's eyes watched with a morbid interest that was almost real, and Drake begged himself to wake up, but he couldn't. He realized now how lucky Zeke had been that he'd died when his head hit the ground after falling from the three story height, because watching a hungry beast pulling soul after soul from your empty chest cavity had to be the worst experience life had to offer. Every soul Drake had ever consumed, hundreds of thousands of insubstantial wisps of life was being delicately lifted out until a mountain of the incandescent things were stacked up next to Zeke.

No, this was not how it was supposed to go. Drake wouldn't die...he was immortal, it was part of his curse that turned out to be a gift. He couldn't...but he did. When Zeke pulled out the final soul, one that was plastered to the back of Drake's chest cavity, clinging desperately to his spine. A scream of pain ripped through Drake, waking him in the moments that his dream-self died.

Drake awoke to find that he'd fallen from his chair, he lay splayed now, spread eagle with on leg still up on the chair as if it refused to let go. lay, his pupils smaller than pinpricks, gasping for breath. Oh God, that had been horrible.

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Tom watched as James scribbled the note and waited patiently before picking it up. The paper was filled with large scrawl he scanned it curiously. A little pang of guilt pricked him as he set the paper back on the table. He was not an educated man, and, thus, did not know how to read or write. There was no telling what was written on the paper as he could not distinguish any of the characters from anything else he had seen.

It was about then that Monica decided to leave. Tom watched her go before turning his attention back to James. The butler yawned and Tom smiled. It reminded him of his children, always trying to stay up later than they could and claiming that they were fine. It was both adorable and depressing.

Drawing himself to his full height, Tom motioned for James to follow. “Drake keeps telling me that I need to be with you when I explore, so I’m here to take you with me,” he explained. No point in beating around the bush or making a story. Why bother hiding it? ‘Sides, it seemed James couldn’t tell anyone what they did, so it was much safer than taking someone else. Perhaps he should collect Deget, simply to warn her of what was to happen. No, he would tell her later. She would learn, eventually.

Leaning in suddenly, he asked, “How many ways are there into each room and how do I find them?”

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James stood obediently, nodding. Before answering his question, the young man pointed over at Deget, who he could not answer and Tom hadn't noticed. She seemed to have found something, and was extremely excited about it. And then he held up three fingers. He pointed over at the door, then up at the vent that was in the corner of the room, and then at the other set of passage ways, the series of mousehole-like cracks that no human could possibly fit through without serious internal damage. Maybe a popped lung or two. Or they'd just suffocate anyway. But he pointed it out anyway. The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Or close enough. God knows mute boys don't tell lies. But they could hold a very nasty grudge.

Then he looked past Deget, at Geptto's door. When would he get a chance to check on the young man? Maybe he'd poke his head in as they walked by. Yes, that sounded like a good idea. James yawned again then shook himself slightly. Wake up, he told himself sternly, now isn't the time to go falling asleep.

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Deget jogged over to Tom and James and began jumping up and down excitedly. Her smile was wide, eyes bright and cheeks flushed as she began explaining her find. If only her hair was a little darker, if she was a little taller and without her glasses- she could be his twin. The resemblance to them was very strong.

"I went in this vent right and then I fell down and DAMN, did I bust my head- I think I'm bleedin' abit ja know but me nah wan ta complain, mon, me nah want twu cause it smelled rank in the place. It'a DARK, me boy, DAHRK oooohhh, and the flies were a buzzin' and I could smell air." Her Jamaican accent was almost as thick as his, too, but a little more understandable. The woman proceeded to explain the almost tunnel like thing she'd fell into and how she'd felt the hollow walls and how black it was.

She explained how she popped out of a closet in one of the rooms only minutes after knocking and walking around the walls and the tunnel. Deget was describing one of the secret entrances.

After she was finished, her soul was blazing with energy and passion and her smile was wide. "It was so COOOOL~" she squealed before gasping. "We should find more. One of them might lead outside, I just know it!"

Oh, total success.

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Guess. Guess what! Always with the guessing. He got enough of that at home with his kids. But the familiar question still brought out the familiar reaction of a pleasant smile and he turned to look. Guess at what? He didn't care. It was more of a reflex than anything. Still, it didn't help that James had had to point her out before Tom had notice or figured out what she was saying. He simply hadn't noticed. Oh, horrors.

For a moment, his attention was held by the butler. So, there were three passages into each room? The first was the door, of course. The second was the vent. Oh yes, now he remembered. Deget had showed him and he had almost gone up in one. Until the creepy ghost found him. Maybe he really should tell Deget what he had seen...

What, and have her realize how crazy he was? Tom shook his head. No, he simply could not tell her yet. He did not feel like losing a friend simply because she believed he belonged in a sanitarium. He wasn't crazy. ...Yet.

And the third way? A trapdoor in the wall. Tom immediately investigated only to find it impossible to use. He couldn't fit through, and even if he could he would only hurt himself. No sane man would try to fit through. No crazed man would either, actually. Not unless they were really, really far gone. But he made sure to remember its location. It might come in handy, later.

The butler yawned and Tom glanced over. It was only natural that the boy would be tired. Poor child, Tom couldn't remember when James had slept last. Come to think of it, James hadn't slept at all. But the butler was still needed and he needed to explore. He covered his mouth to hide a yawn before approaching Deget. "Deget..." Hesitation. What was he going to say? 'Hi! Want to come explore with me so I can set up traps and make the other contestants kill each other so I won't be guilty of actually hurting anyone'? He opened his mouth to say more, but then she began babbling about her latest find. A secret tunnel? Oh, this was important. If he could find out where that path led, and to which rooms it connected...

If he could map the vent, he could rule the entire mansion! He'd be the phantom of the mansion! No one would know, it would his - and Deget's, mustn't forget her - secret! Grabbing her shoulders, he gave her a gentle shake and locked eyes with her. Probably not the most pleasant experience for the poor girl, but it would make sure she listened. "Deget! Do. Not. Tell. Anyone. Ever!" No one must know. "This will be our secret. If we find a way out, then we tell everyone. But until then, no one must know. Understand?" Yes, he didn't even have to tell her his plans. If she was trusting enough... If he could gain her trust, he just might be able to use her.

No one must harm Deget. Ever.

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James shook himself again, more vigorously this time, like a wet dog, and blinked, focusing on Deget. A slight look of worry passed his features. Not only had she been wandering around in the tunnels, but she'd also nearly gotten herself killed. Why did humans have to be so stupid? James wondered, exasperated. And she was so excited over nearly killing herself. James shook his head slightly, closing his eyes and letting out a quiet breath from between his teeth.

There wasn't a way out, James had seen to it himself, unless they wanted to take the same exit Zeke had. The first and second floor windows had been reenforced with metal, and it wasn't possible to survive a tumble from the higher windows, even if the first impact didn't kill the human. Drake had hunting dogs. He was rather partial to the actually. He'd started buying them when he'd gotten into sport hunting. And they were prowling the perimeter of the manor at all times, unless of course, guests were due to come over.

And Then Tom took a few steps closer to Deget, and James forced himself to remain standing where he was. Not to seem like he was eavesdropping on whatever Tom was going to say. but he listened in anyway. It sounded like Tom had some kind of a plan.

Delightful. Maybe that meant James might get a nap soon, especially if involved killing him. Or the two could keep busy plotting with each other and... and James could go find Gepetto. A frown flicked across James's face, replacing the look of exasperation. Why couldn't he get the blonde man out of his head? It wasn't good to be making attachments, not now, especially when he knew that at least Tom was probably planning someone's death. he didn't know if Monica and Esther had joined forces, or if Deget was in on Toms plan, but he was pretty sure that the fragile drunkard probably hadn't given fighting much of a thought. James felt a thrill of what was that, fear? in his belly. Poor Gepetto.

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"K-kill him!?" Esther stepped back in shock. Monica sounded so brash, so...desperate. She was right though, (as much as Esther hated to admit it.) Things were desperate. She needed to get over her fears and fast. There was no room for weakness here. Grudgingly, she nodded at Monica. It was a slow and awkward nod, but she agreed nonetheless. "Very well. Let's try and escape together. If we run across Sir Drake then...then we'll try and fight but...I think it best we avoid meaningless confict." Esther hadn't so much as raised her hand to strike someone her entire life. The thought of murder, for self-preservation or not, was going to take some getting used to.

Just then, her attention was brought to the foyer where she heard shouting. Cautiously striding into the room she saw that Deget woman speaking to the quiet man...Tom, was it? Deget was babbling wildly about some discovery she had made. She seemed genuinely excited about it. Drawn to the hope the woman was radiating, Esther approached them. "Excuse me...but may I ask what is going on here? Did you find something, Miss Deget?"

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Deget blinked and turned her brown eyes to Tom's own, slightly unnerved. But that feeling went away in an instant- she was comfortable around Tom. He was a nice man and his quiet air made her a bit content. A smile curled onto her lips almost immediately and she listened intently, blinking a few times as her lips parted a few.

On her end, there was a silence before her chuckle broke the air. " 'Course. I won't tell a soul- my lips are sealed." She brought her fingers and pretended to zip her lips, fumble with locking them and threw away the key with a nod.

So trusting. She liked to call Tom her friend- her little pal- and of course you would trust your pals right? If you couldn't trust your pals, they weren't pals.

She put her own hands on the man's shoulders and nodded with a grin. "But if you wanna find more entrances, we're gun have to use the vents. To explore- yes, exploration!- the hallways less traveled. That's how I found the secret tunnel, anyhow, so it'll work again!" The woman said cheerfully with a clap of her hands before ruffling Tom's hair with a toothy grin. "When we find a good exit outta here, we'll tell the others and we can all escape! Even you James."

Caring eyes turned towards the young butler and she mused the boy's hair with a tender, loving care. "By da way." She looked at Tom once more. "The soups good. If yer gonna explore, ya gonna have to get energy. Especially on your bones." She poked the man with a grin before ducking and dancing out of his grip with a hum. "First one I'ma tell when we find an exit is Geppetto. He's real nice, ya know- I can just tell. He'll be happy and probably go and tell the other two gals. Oh.."

Blood trickled down her forehead and she laughed uneasily. "Forgot about that hit. I'ma find some bandages.. Woo. Gettin' woozy," the Jamaican murmured to herself as she pressed a palm to the cut and began mumbling about how she was dumb for not bringing bandages. Just to make sure, she dug through her pockets but only produced about a few inches of thick cloth.

Eh, better than nothin'.

As she tended to her wound, her eyes snapped to Eshter and she blinked. The secret that Tom wanted her to keep was fresh in her mind and she smiled. "Yep! I found something awesome!" She grinned. "There are cool knives in one of the kitchens- real sharp and good for unscrewin things. If the windows have screws, we can use them!" It was a half-lie since she'd actually come across that in the mansion but all the same, it felt bad.

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Monica had followed Esther when she went to ask Degat what she had found, keeping herself out of sight. She smiled evily when she heard the Jamican woman mention knives...that would be useful...if she knew where the kitchens were...that would be a problem...she would need to wander a bit before she found it, and that might put her in contact with Drake...or James, if he decided to leave those lunatics behind...she didn't like the thought of having to injure the child, but if that was what it took to get out...so be it...
Leaving Esther with the others, she went in search of the manor's kitchen. If anyone (Drake) asked: she had finished the soup and was looking for something else to eat, as much as the idea of even wanting to eat that much repulsed her, she also knew that fear changed people, made them behave differently.She just hoped that theory would be enough to fool someone into believing her story...

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"Goodbye little yellow bird, I'd gladly mate with you, I love you little yellow bird, but I love my freedom too, so goodbye little yellow bird, I'd rather brave the cold,
on a leafless tree, than a prisoner be, in a cage of gold." A good singer, the golden haired elfen boy wrapped his lips sensually around the words. His voice lifted like a bell, a chirp-

The song was so dreary, he didn't understand why he loved it so. If he loved a yellow bird enough, he would stay in the cage of gold with it-

James

Suddenly he desired the others company, it did not matter if formalities were not kept, it didn't matter- he craved more of the other, such a mysteriously drawing individual. Infatuation, were the others like this? No. Only him- James was his, only his. His little yellow bird, in a cage of gold.

He stood to his feet, slowly treading over to his door- he opened it a crack, golden eyes dancing along the hallway. "Aha" there he was, his butler clad in black ( ;3 ) the one who he so desperately needed to see, and yet Geppetto could not think of a reason to summon the other. Nonetheless his burning need to inherent some form of attention fluttered across his chest, and his fingers squeezed into fists.

He approached James from behind, a gloved hand outstretched, grabbing the cufflink of the other's shirt- giving a slight tug "Monsieur I would like to-" His French accent was literally SO strong that the moment he began uttering the words and his French slurs came out, he stopped the sentence short. Damnit, why did this guy bring out the French in Geppetto!? He loathed his accent so very much, he loathed it with a passion hotter than the burning sun, he was great at hiding it- but this butler brought it out of him without having to say a THING. "I would like to request your assistance." Soft golden eyes rose slowly, meeting the other's stifling gaze.

Naturally puckered lips pursed even more as he attempted to think of a good reason to need the other, but none came. His poor little alcohol influenced mind was still foggy- his hair was all messy, and his eyes were watery making him look like he had just gotten out of bed. He looked shamefully nice without his jacket on, he dressed well with his pretty collared shirt and black button up vest. "I'm sorry... Perhaps I need to sit down." he touched a hand to his forehead as if he were suddenly dizzy, sucking on his bottom lip. This was a bad idea- he decided to take the easy way out and play his 'I feel faint' card.

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Tom smiled and gave Deget a quick hug. Good girl. Sweet girl. Kind, trusting girl. She trusted him, without expecting anything in return. He would have to reward her, keep her close. But how? What could he do that was so special? He couldn't give her a present; there was nothing to give. He couldn't love her; he already had a wife that he still loved more than anything in the world. Maybe a smile? A true, genuine smile that actually reached his eyes.

Ha.

Fat chance of that ever happening. He'd been trying to do that for years for his wife. There was no way he could do that in a mere few hours. But what could he do? Oh. Yes, that would do. That would do perfectly. Tom grinned as he stepped away from Deget. Yes. He would watch her, protect her. Keep her from walking into his traps or getting hurt by someone else. As long as he kept her by his side, she was safe. He would keep her safe in return for her trust. Like a pet. She would be his pet, and he always cared for his pets. His horse and his dog especially, but now he had Deget, as well.

"Soup. Soup is good. Soup is food food. Food is important. Yes. Soup." Tom paused and then mentally smacked himself. Had he really said that out loud? Wonderful. He shrugged it off and reached for her playfully, only to miss as she evaded him. And then she began babbling about Gepetto. Tom winced as though he'd been stabbed as he listened to her chatter. Was this... guilt? It was painful, whatever it was.

Poor Gepetto wasn't going to leave. The drunkard was (in his eyes) the most dangerous. The sooner he was eliminated, the better. But he wouldn't tell Deget. He would lie his way out of trouble if he had to, but he was not going to tell Deget. Instead he continued to smile at her. Let her believe, let her be happy... let her believe and have hope...

"Yep! I found something awesome!" A sharp inhale signaled Tom's sudden unease. Would she tell? Would she give away the secret in her excitement? "There are cool knives in one of the kitchens- real sharp and good for unscrewing things. If the windows have screws, we can use them!" He released a sigh and turned away. She hadn't told. Good girl. Trusting girl. She deserved a medal for that.

Turning around, Tom nearly walked into Gepetto. Poor Gepetto. Poor little Frenchman. If only he knew what was going to happen... Tom paused and then stepped around the man. "I'll be back," he called over his shoulder, alerting Deget and James of his intentions to return. As for the blond man, well, Gepetto could do whatever he wanted. And Tom? Tom went to his room to eat.

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A tug on his sleeve jerked James from his more dismal thoughts about Tom and Deget's 'exploration'. A small smile bloomed, unbidden, on James's face. It was Gepetto, looking ruffled and sleepy, an anxious look on his face. James's eyes traveled up and down Geptto, partly because he was checking o make sure the young man was okay. But that wasn't exactly the only reason. Gepetto said something in a rather cute french accent, but then, seemingly annoyed with himself, repeated himself, trying to mask the french sounds in his voice. James wondered why. The french made him unique.

And then Gepetto said something about sitting down, an ill look passing across his face.James jumped into action immediately, taking hold of the delicate young man's elbow, which was only clad in a shirt, and his other gloved hand reached up to feel Gepetto's face. Ah, but he couldn't tell if the blonde was feeling warm because of the glove. In an easy motion James pulled the glove off with his teeth, tucking it in his jacket before reaching back out for Gepetto's face. His chill hand trailed up the side of the slim face and stopped at his forehead, pushing locks of feathery golden hair away.

No, he felt as a human should. Just warm enough. Then what was wrong? Was he just feeling a bit faint, after affects from the drink? Maybe. Maybe James should hep him back to his room and find him something to drink. Yes, that was a good idea. James, one hand firmly but gently wrapped around Gepetto's slender arm, steered the young man back to his room, motioning behind him at Tom and Deget for them to start off without him. He'd be there in a moment.

Maybe.

As James walked he swept his hand across Gepetto's back, smoothing the material of his shirt and the sleeves of shirt. A habit, James told himself. Just the habit of a butler, to straighten things and make them look nice. Oh, but Gepetto looked so nice already. Heat rose in James's face as he bumped the door to Gepetto's room with his hip, guiding the young man in and setting him down on his bed. Then he bent over him, inspecting the young man's golden eyes. His pupils looked fine too. What exactly then was wrong with him?

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He relished in the smallest touches he was granted, first a soft grace against his clothed elbow- pursed lips relaxed, and then he was taken aback by that sudden movement, a quick chilled hand pressed to his forehead. It felt so wonderful, that he was certain if he had truly been ill- that simple touch would have urked the misfortune away, leaving him healthy. His lips parted even more into the smallest sort of look of surprise.

Can he feel it too? That mind-numbing intoxication, that delicious infatuation. He had to, Geppetto couldn't possibly be the only one.

Geppetto's mind reeled as he was gently steered towards his room. A 'Mmph' sounded from his throat when his back was smoothed. It was such a lovely little act, such a lovely little butler. Such a lovely little yellow bird.

A sharp inhalation was achieved from Geppetto when the other guided him to his bed. Natural. A natural, good choice for the other- Geppetto claimed to be ill and this kind butler was simply doing his job. However, when the other leaned over him, that inhalation which he'd been storing escaped quickly in a swift huff. The young man still smelled like wine- a thick rich grape smell. He reached out to James, fingers dangling carefully around the front of his shirt. Golden eyes widened, wavering up to meet the other's cool calculated ones. He could see the whole world in those eyes. And it scared him.

He could feel absolution, he simply could not be this close to the very product of his intoxication without reaching out to it. Gloved fingers tightened around the other's shirt, making no move to push the other away or draw him near- it was a simply act of raw need, a weird animalistic instinct. "Monsieur." He muttered softly, mouth slightly open. "Thank you for your help."

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James's breath caught in his throat as he stared into Gepetto's eyes and the man's hand grasped the front of his shirt. The soft golden rings of Gepetto's irises looked soft and warm. it made James feel older than he had in a long time. But it also made him feel like a child, awkward and gangly. His lips parted after the golden doll of a man spoke, as if he were going to speak in return. Maybe he was.

"Ah,"

That was the extent of James's vocabulary. The single word he could say. And it wasn't even a word. But it was a release. James didn't know what it was a release of, exactly, but it was something. The strange breathy yet guttural sound, the vocal manifestation of James, a release of fear. Yes, that was what it was, all the tension and fear that had been rising in James's belly was gone. Oh, that felt good. And the warmth of Gepetto, so close, so warm and what was that, he still smelled of wine. That heavy heady scent. It was deliciously dizzy.

A light smile grew on James's face again, blood rushing to his face, making him feel a bit warmer than usual. This proximity to Gepetto made him feel wonderful. If the feeling never went away, neither would James. He was content to merely stand there, drinking the golden warmth in. He was like the sun.

Ah, What light from yonder window breaks? But could Juliette ever match up to this? Did Romeo ever receive such warmth from his 'sun'?


James's gloved hand reached up and encircled the hand that was clutching his shirt front, holding the warmth to his chest. He shivered slightly, for the first time realizing how cold he was. Like a dead body. James swiftly swept away such thoughts as his own immortality, deigning instead to focus on Gepetto. This striking little doll. It was funny, James thought, how James thought of Gepetto as little. They were more or less than the same height. Gepetto might even have been a bit taller than the butler.

James's bare hand reached up again to touch the delicate features of the young man before him, this time not out of concern, but because he wanted to. Two thin pale fingers traced the pretty man's jaw, following the bone up into the feathery golden hair. It was so pretty, like, like, James couldn't think of anything that could match the beauty of this man's locks as he ran his fingers almost hungrily though them. He leaned forward slightly, his mouth still partly agape, a smile twisting his features up. James didn't smile genuinely all that often. For a fleeting second he wondered if that would change as of now.

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Deget smiled and hugged Tom back before wandering off- by herself. She went to the kitchens to clean up her wound and wrapped it in some sturdy looking bandages she'd found earlier. While doing so and cleaning herself up, it was time to equip some weaponry. But really, they would only be used- right- if absolutely necessary.

More so than not, the knives and daggers are going to be for unscrewing and pick-locking things. But now, ho ho, the little scientist came out in the Jamaican when brown-eyes sparked at the thought that- possibly- she could make stuff.

And thus the Mc. Guyver trend was started for Deget was the true bearer of the name. Strapping and wrapping point A and weapon B and point X together to create a weapon- a pick lock- all these marvelous things!

So the young woman went into those dusty deserted hallways before coming across something. The hallway was upstairs and what she saw near the window stopped her dead. Deget felt her heart-pound as the familiar figure stood there with his back to the window and the saddest damned smile on his face. It was as clear as day, that beautiful voice- the one she yearned for and was the sole reason she showed up, the reason she was snooping around. The same clothes, the same hair, the same eyes glasses nose lips- that voice. And a hand came up and yanked him through the already shattered window. Her lovely Zeke vanishing with the look of shocked sadness replaced by a slightly bitter, happy smile.

Deget watched it once. Twice. And then it vanished as if the wind had blown it away.

It was like that, her mental state was broken, fractured. She had skittered away from the window and had her hand firmly between her mouth, eyes wide. What had she just seen? That couldn't have been him, not him- no no no no no. Her brother was still alive. James would've told her if he'd died, Drake wouldn't have been so calm.

"I'm going crazy," she whispered to herself with slight astonishment. But soon her resolve hardened and her soul flared. She needed to find Drake. Not James- the poor boy had enough on his plate and she couldn't ruin his time with Geppetto (for she saw, already, what sort of flower was blooming between the Frenchman and the butler) but Drake.

She needed her answers.

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Slowly, so slowly, oh, ever so slowly Drake felt his body calm down. He continued to lay on the floor, staring up at the ceiling. It was a rather nice ceiling, a bit plain, but still nice. It was much nicer than his dream, at least. Drake let his thoughts lazily buzz through his mind, never stopping for long on one blossom of contemplation. What was James doing right now? He always looked so solemn. It was part of the reason Drake liked to boy so much. He was very thoughtful. And it was rare for him to express emotions.

Speaking of emotions, what was Gepetto doing? Did he feel the same way Drake thought James felt about the young man? Even thought Drake felt a slight sting of jealousy, it was his butler, not Gepetto's, he still thought it was rather cute. And he'd get to comfort James after the young man's death. James was usually the one doing the comforting.

No, Drake was going to avoid that train of thought for the moment.

Ignore ignore ignore...not thinking...stop thinking...What were the others doing? Drake jumped on the new thought. Well, maybe Tom...Tom might be in the kitchen, trying to think of a way to kill the others. he seemed to be the only one who would be capable of killing. Esther and Monica would either be talking to each other or brooding in their rooms, they were two respectable high born ladies, they probably didn't have much of a fight in then. Unless, maybe there was some rivalry between them. Yes, and they could attack each other. Oh, that would be great fun. Hilarious. Gepetto, Gepetto would probably still be in his room, he hadn't seemed all that well at all. Had James checked on him yet? And Deget. The spunky young miss. She would be exploring if she was anything like her brother. did she have James with her? Maybe. Drake couldn't decide if she would or not.

There. that was everyone. Drake could see them in his minds eye, going about what ever it was he imagined them to be doing. Hmm... when was lunch? what time was it now? Drake flicked his reddish eyes open to glance at the window. It was still morning time from the way the light shone into the room. Still a time yet until lunch. What would he make? And what about for tea time?

Hmm... He was feeling uncomfortable now...

Drake shifted slightly, turning his head to one side so he as staring at the door, which was slightly ajar. He'd forgotten to close and lock it. Oh well, no one would be able to kill him anyway, so it did not matter. Drake used the side of the chair to pull the shoe off his elevated foot, and then examined the pale appendage. How interesting. How...

Footlike.

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Such a lovely sound. Geppetto Castle's eyes widened slightly at the sound he was rewarded from the silent butler. The most delightful thing to ever grace his ears, it was one of the most beautiful things he had ever heard- he relished in it, the exposure of an 'Ah' ripping through his heart.

It would seem that this infatuation that the duo shared was a silent one. A romance which could be described with so many words, so many thoughts, feelings and burning stares- and yet the two did not speak them. James could not speak, but that did not matter- he was beautiful, he was so young and yet his eyes were so old and wonderful, who was James? What was James? He did not need to speak, he only needed to hover over Geppetto like that- the most peculiarly peasant smile across his face.

It felt so good when the other touched his face like that- when he ran a hand through his hair.

"Come away with me". Geppetto's eyes begged the other. "Come away with me forever."

"I won't let anyone hurt you. "His hand tightened around Jame's shirt when the other's chilled hand met his." I won't let anyone ever hurt you again."

"James." Geppetto starts, eyes reflecting concern as his eyes lowered to James's hand. "You're freezing." He removed his hand from the other only for a moment to take off his glove, urgency was thick in the other's voice as he took James's hands. He squeezed them in between his own warm ones, eyes never once leaving the butler's. Slowly he rose the other's hands up to his lips, he exhaled his breath onto the other lips bracing against the cool flesh.

And then that smile.

Such a beautiful smile.

James needed to smile more.

The close proximity caused Geppetto's cheeks to burn red, he wanted James to be closer. He removed a hand from James and slowly brought it up to James's shoulder. He pulled the other down closer to him, Geppetto could not help it.. He could not help but to indulge himself in the other's beauty. They were so close now that their stomach pressed against eachother, eyes only a breath away.

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So warm. So soft. So human. So indescribably amazing. This closness, his eyes, that pleading look. 'Follow me' It said. Oh, James wanted to. He wanted to follow this golden man and dissapear, to hide away with this sun-on-earth for the rest of existance.

They were so close now that James could feel the other's heartbeat, and was suddely aware of his own lack of one. Yes, blood still flowed to where it was needed, but it did it through the livelyhood of others, never his own. Every breath he took was one stolen from another. James's eyes welled up with tears.

No. For some reason James could not understand, He did not want Gepetto to see him cry. He bowed his head forward, his pale cheek brushing against the warmth of the man underneath him's face. The rest of his body folllowed that motion, pushing him forward until his arms were wrapped around the amazing human sun that was Gepetto. He pressed his face against the delicate doll's neck, his body warming slowly as he pressed closer. He was nearly sitting in Gepetto's lap now.

Do not cry. Do not cry. For the love of all things human, do not cry. James told himself, his breath catching. But he couldn't help it. Here he was, in the arms of this glory on earth, a horrible murderer and theif. And Gepetto did not even know what James was. What vile mosnter had its head pressed against his oh so warm neck.

Mismatched hands, one gloved and one not, clutched at the back of Gepetto's shirt. The roles reversed. Now James was the one depending on the slight man, overcome by emotions amplified by adolecence. Of all the human things to loose, why couldn't the crazy feelings be one of them?

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Something made a loud bang in the vents and Deget popped her head out, grabbing the vent's entrance before it could fall and clatter to the ground. She was in another hallway but this one more so deserted than the rest. She let out a huff and began crawling back into where she originally came- replacing the vent as she did so before exploring.

The vents had become easier to navigate through and she found that the more dirty, cramped, nasty smelling places she ventured into- the more hallways and secret passages she landed in.

So the cleaner ways would promise a different site, yea? On her fourth time going through the vents a certain thing caught her gaze.

In most of the vent's slits there was noise. Talking, shuffling- just something. This vent had no noise. She frowned and peeked through it though she only saw the outside of a room. Huge, double mahogany wood doors... How strange. Regular rooms didn't have such extravagantly carved or furnished doors nor did the hallways they lay in have the same thing either. A useful observation. A sudden lump welled in her throat and she swallowed it down with a shake of her head and pursed lips. "Maybe.." Maybe it could be Drakes?

It would only make sense for the master of the mansion to have the best room, right?

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Click.

As if all of the world's focus suddenly shifted, the mood in the room became so thick as the young body above him began to crumple.

It wasn't visible at first. The smile was all the existed- all that needed to exist. However as a few moments passed by, and the other began to look... Like he was about to cry. He said nothing at first, eyes reflecting his growing sense of urgency, he was frightened for the other. Was his James okay?

Before he could ask, James crumpled into him. Geppetto lifted his neck upwards to nuzzle the other's head possessively, he wrapped slender arms around the slender boy. Such a beautiful boy, such a sad little thing- it broke his heart to see the other distressed. Comforting hands pressed against the other a protective embrace, his little yellow bird was in pain. How could anyone allow James to live in so much pain?

He pressed his cheek to the other, a hand snaking up to the back of James's head. "You don't need to hold yourself back." Geppetto whispers to the other, he can feel James's young frame tremble, it is as if he were struggling to keep himself in check.

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James's gangly body trembled. Gepetto didn't realize what he was. If James could speak he would tell the man. Would he even be able to speak through the lump that was welling in his throat? But what was this? A whisper. Softly reassuring. You don't need to hold yourself back. Permission to cry? Oh, he was so sweet. James's body shook slightly as a sob tore itself from his throat. This was worse than physical pain. that would pass, but this felt never-ending. His body slowly relaxed, however, as he continued his guttural sobbing. It was almost painful for the sobs to tear themselves from where they had been lodged for the last hundred or so years. Tears of real emotion, not ones from pain.

Gradually, gradually, the sobbing calmed. He felt so much better now. And he felt so warm as well. He felt loved. Gepetto cared about him, didn't he. Why else would James be sitting in his lap, sobbing into his neck? James lifted his head slightly, pressing his cheek against Gepetto's and playing with the golden hair again. Tears still glittered in the adolescent's eyelashes, and his heart still felt heavy, but he'd realized that now wasn't the time to mourn what was to come. Now was to enjoy this warm, glorious moment.

James's ungloved hand, which was in the center of Gepetto's back, found the ridge of the man's spine and started to trail down it, delicately running the tips of his fingers over each raised segment. James's own back wasn't nearly this straight. His many falls and tumbles of late had left it bent strangely, three segments obviously still broken. It made James feel horribly inadequate. But that didn't matter. What did matter was that his body was warm now, sharing Gepetto's heat. His body felt good, and so did the golden man's.

James looked at Gepetto's delicate ear, which was partly obscured by his beautiful hair. James leaned his head back slightly, still pressing his cheek against Gepetto's, and blew lightly on his ear, jusut to see how the warm man would react.

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Tom ate quickly, not wanting to stay in one place for too long. He had things to do, traps to set, people to kill... Well, he wouldn't be killing anyone, would he? No, of course not. They would be 'accidental' deaths. Yes, that's right. 'Accidental'...

He shook his head. There was no time to be worry about that now. He had to get to work. Gepetto would have to be the first to go. But, the Frenchman was busy with James - Tom had seen them out of the corners of his eyes as he had left - and he wasn't cruel enough to interrupt them. Then, someone else would have to go. Oh, perfect! If he could get someone to go exploring alone with him, he could experiment on them and use them to find an effective way to get things done! It was perfect! But first, he had to find an adequate test subject.

Finished eating, Tom left the empty dishes where he had found them. They weren't needed just yet, and they probably wouldn't be used at all. It was difficult to create "accidents" using a bowl and a spoon. He could, however, use a fork or a knife. Pointy objects were much easier to use, after all. With that thought, he pushed himself off his bed and looked around. The room was practically empty, save for the wardrobe, bed, and desk. He made his way to the wardrobe and peeked inside.

A shirt and pants. There were other outfits, of course, but he saw a shirt and pants and he liked them. Well, it wouldn't hurt to change clothes, would it? He could keep his overcoat, but his old clothes were dirty from being worn all day. It didn't take long to change, and soon he was standing outside his room and looking around. The girl - Esther - was standing in the hall, but otherwise it was deserted. Deget must have wandered off somewhere. Dang. He wanted to go exploring with her.

No matter. He glanced around once more before giving a quick tug on his gloves and picking a direction. He would leave Gepetto alone with James for just a bit longer. Better to experiment with someone rather than make a mistake when it counted most. Wandering the halls was actually quite boring. It seemed everyone had vanished from the mansion and Tom began to wonder if someone had found a way out. No. There was no way out. At least, that was what everyone kept hinting at. Except Deget. Deget was always hoping...

Tom stopped suddenly and cocked his head. There were footsteps somewhere ahead of him - not too far and coming towards him. He listened carefully and finally decided that it was only one person. Silly, when would they learn that it was far too dangerous to wader about alone? Well, here was his test subject. He kept on walking, making sure to keep his expression neutral so that he wouldn't seem like he had been expecting the person. Step step step step... Turn the corner and-

Monica? Of course it was a girl. He knew that. Even so. He felt a bit bad that he was going to be dealing with the girl, but it no longer mattered. His eyes widened in slight surprise before he quickly bowed. "And what might you be doing out here? Don't you know it's dangerous to be wandering about alone?"

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Esther watched helplessly as Deget and Tom went their seperate ways, the former running off with a gait that was all to excited given the circumstances. Turned around, her eyes scanned the room for Monica. 'What? Where could she have gone? All that talk about staying together and she goes and leaves me here!?' Esther's gloved hands rolled into petite fists. 'The nerve of that girl! I should have known she wasn't to be trusted! Fool that I am, I thought her better than that.' With a huff, Esther began to walk through the foyer and back toward the main entrance.

She silently strolled about the area, into the parlor, then across the hall into a lavishly decorated sitting room. Such a shame, really. She had actually thought all of this was to soon be hers when she'd arrived at this God forsaken prison. Sir Drake was nothing like what she thought. He was cruel and sadistic and...frightening. As the girl meandered about the unoccupied rooms, searching for something to give her hope (an unlocked window, another exit, even...even a weapon would suffice at this point) the sound of her footsteps reached her ears. It was then that she truly felt alone. Alone in the manor and perhaps even alone in the world now. Her chest suddenly became unbearably heavy as she choked back more tears. Her breaths became shallow and pained, her corset and gown adding to the discomfort. Closing her eyes, Esther managed to get ahold of herself.

"Come on now," she whispered to herself, "You can do this. Deget's looking for an escape route right now and Geppetto had said that he'd be there for me."

No one in their right mind would start attacking her or any of the other guests. They needed each other to stand against Drake. So why was she here alone and everyone running about following their own whims? The thought didn't exactly make Esther feel any safer...

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As the sobs came, Geppetto's fingers tightened around the young man's coiled frame. Such pain. Such agony. Such remorse- he could feel it seeping out of each and every pore within this young man. He simply sat there, letting the other cry- he offered no half-hearted words of comfort, no soft keens, he simply held his precious jem- he held him and bore the pain which the other released. He would glady take the burdens away from James, he would glady take James's place- no matter what.

As the sobs died away and the desperation ended, Geppetto's hand removed itself from the back of the other's head. He moved his hand to the other's eyes, gently wipeing away the spilled emotion.

The blonde gave a low "Oh!" goosebumps prickling his neck as he threw his head back and gasped, it was a surprisingly sensual thing for the young man to do- "Sacrebleu!!" A French expression of surprise bubbled out of his lips and he immediately blushed, curling his nose with a play look of anger across that pretty little face.

Two could play at this game.

He gave a low laugh, grabbing James shoulders and pushing him to his bed, he decided to see if the other boy was tickling- or if he took kindly to being pinned down by Geppetto. Skinny fingers found their way to James's rib cage, tickling the other as a goofy expression found its way to Geppetto's kind little pouty lips.

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James bent as Gepetto pushed him back, off his lap and onto the bed. For a second James wondered if Gepetto was angry with him, but then he realized that it was meant playfully, especially when he felt slender fingers spider across his rib cage. His lips parted in a little 'o' of surprise, then a giggle bubbled from his lips. the sound was odd, but there was no doubt that it was laughter. When was the last time James had actually laughed? His body stretched as he tried to escape the heady feeling of being tickled, but he couldn't manage to get quite enough away. Maybe he didn't really want to evade Gepetto's touch.

The butler found that he was trapped under the warm body above him, golden eyes and grinning lips and more gold. So much gold. A precious metal. A precious man. James pulled his other glove off with his teeth, it was so much quicker that way, tossing it aside. He could feel his body growing warmer, almost unbearably so, in the heavy black suit.

James's wide green eyes glittered with mirth as he wiggled underneath Gepetto. He tipped his head back, shaking with laughter. His face was till tear stained, but such feelings were long forgotten. He reached out and danced his fingers across the side of the doll's neck. Let's see how he liked being tickled.

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Such a beautiful sound. Geppetto's goosebumps rose when the other awarded him with one of the most satisfying things in the world- a laugh. He smiled, joining in with the other's mewls, expertly tickling those silly little spots on the other's rib-cage. He snickered when two prodding fingers soon found their way up to him in retaliation. The little bugger, he was too darn cute for his own good.

He exhaled a quick breath of laughter eyes shimmering with amusement, this was truly the best medicine. It helped him forget- it helped him pretend like he probably wasn't going to leave this mansion alive, it helped his nerves dull. It helped him love the man beneath him.

He couldn't hold himself back anymore.

His breath drew in quick huffs- still stained with the musky scent of whine, soft fingers slowly trailed up the other's form- reaching his cheek, cupping it with his hand for a quick moment. He could not hold himself back. He could not hold himself back. He absolutely could not hold himself back.

His face fell. His beautiful- feminine face grew serious and those shimmering eyes grew narrow as he lowered himself. Cold. So cold. Why was James so cold?

Lower. Lower, until their eyelashes could have met- soft butterfly kisses.

And then his lips met the other's lips in a soft, caress.

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The mood changed in a instant. Why? James wondered for a fleet second. Then he realized why. Oh, he realized. Surprised pulled at his mouth, parting his lips, at first, but hadn't he expected this in the first moment, the first time Gepetto had collapsed into his lap, out cold from too much to drink. James could smell it now, and he imagined that if he could taste, if he still had a tongue, that heady, sweet grape taste would be present. Then he smiled slightly, a fierce feeling feeling welling in his belly. One hand found the small of Gepetto's back, the other the golden back of his head. Such a delicate body. So small. James wondered if he could just take this little doll and put him in his pocket to carry around forever. To protect. he'd never let anyone hurt his little Sun, his radiant warmth. How was it even possible for such beautiful warmth to be wrapped up in such a small, such a fragile body?

Now it was less about depending on each other, but more about forgetting. Forgetting the future, where death and shame lingered. Forgetting the past, fogged by horrible memories and past pains. Forgetting all fear. Just living. Oh God was it living.

Oh, the golden man probably wouldn't expect the expertise James moved with, pushing back against Gepetto's delicate mouth with an uncharacteristic passionate hunger. James had more experience than the handsome, delicate doll on top of him would ever have. But it was so glorious, this heady feeling, like being drunk. But better. So much better. Then James backed off, almost too swiftly. Silly him. He was being rude. He let his head relax against the bed, eyes half closed. If he was a cat, he'd be purring. If he was a dog, his tail would be wagging. But he was neither of those. he was just James, a butler, and a soft sound of pleasure was humming in his chest.

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Monica turned in surprise when Tom approached her. Time to test her excuse...
"I was looking for the kitchens, Mister Oliver. The soup that Sir Drake provided was very good in my opinion, and I was in the process of getting some more. Would you care to join me? As you said yourself, it is rather dangerous to wander here.", Monica was slightly frighted of the dark-haired man, he always looked like he was plotting something, but she was happy for any company right now, even if it was the indimitating man...she would have preffered James though, despite the knowledge that he would betray her, she somehow felt safer with the silent child.
She felt a little guilty about leaving Esther, but she balanced that with the knowledge that the other girl would have probably blown their cover by now, by screaming whenever a spider ran past, and there were a LOT of spiders...not that Monica was scared of them, she actually quite liked them, but she knew for a fact that her rival was terrified of the creatures, the thought of which made her smile.
"So, kind sir, would you happen to know where the kitchens are? I know that Degat and yourself were exploring earlier, perhaps you came across them?"

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Buttflies fluttered around his brain- tickling his ribs, tickling his fingers, tickling every aspect of his entire body. He tightened frightened finger around the other's shoulder, this felt good... Really good. He inhaled the sweet scent of the other- why was he so cold? It felt good, but at the same time he wanted nothing more than to warm the young man up.

When the kiss was broken, so was the spell. He watched with wonder as the man pulled away swiftly- could it be that he didn't want it? No. That wasn't it, the other had kissed him back with such expertise.

Soft feathery fingers wrapped around the blankets of his bed. He was still concerned with the other- he didn't want James to feel cold. He threw the blankets over the young man, eyes twinkling as he curled up on the bed next to him, planning to join him in a a little reflection.

But, then he remembered that he had just downed a lot of alcohol, and the few escalated moments that had just followed were more than 'stomach' sloshing. He pressed a hand to his mouth quickly as nausea threatened him "Oh god". He groaned bouncing off of the bed, running towards the little area he'd been given as a restroom. He dropped to his knees in front of what seemed to be his unused chamber pot.

He heaved into it, fingers trembling against the floor beneath him. This is why he was so skinny. He rarely ate anything, and when he did it was quickly thrown up after a drunken episode, he was a little more sick than he liked to think.

"Sorry!" The low groan lifted upwards, directing his apology towards James. "I am being so very indecent."

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So, she was looking for the kitchen, was she? Tom smiled (he really would have to learn how to make it look less evil, one of these days) and motioned for Monica to follow. "You're a very lucky woman," he commented, walking past and running a hand along the wall. "I do happen to know where a kitchen is - and I'm sure Mister Drake left everything out - that I can take you to. Let's see, turn left here." He glanced behind to make sure Monica was following before continuing onward.

The kitchen really wasn't that hard to find. Just a few turns and a few hallways would take them to their destination, but then, he was special. He spent most of his time learning locations and memorizing routes to from said places. It was only natural; being a cabby made such talents quite necessary. If one couldn't do such a simple task, they either didn't keep the job for long or they learned that ability. That being said, Tom first sought out a familiar hallway and, from there, followed the rout he had taken the first time. It was only a matter of minutes before they arrived at their destination.

Tom stopped at the entrance to the kitchen and looked at Monica. It wasn't a "let's-see-what-she's-up-to" type stare, but rather a piercing stare like he was searching her soul. "Well?" he asked, motioning for her to enter, "Is this where you wanted to go?"

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"Thank you very much, sir...this will do quite nicely...", Monica replied, smiling sweetly as she entered the kitchen. As Tom had predicted, their host had indeed left everything out where he had left it, knives and various other pointy objects strewn over the worktops and in the basin. She moved to the cupboards, looking as if she were looking for a bowl and such, but really slipping a few of the knives into her pockets as she passed, making sure her movements were hidden from the man, who was looking at her in an ever creepier way than before...did he mean to take advantage of her here? If that was so, then he should be ready, since Monica had just slid a long, thin knife up her sleeve, ready for use. It was a good thing these clothes were a little big for her...they would conceal the knives better, and allow for better movement...

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Tom watched her movements carefully, noting that, as she moved, several of the knives "mysteriously" disappeared. He was at a poor angle to see how she did it, but it didn't change the fact that she was concealing weapons beneath her clothes. Well, crap. That complicated things. Lifting his right hand to his mouth, he placed his thumb against his lips as he thought. He had knives of his own tucked carefully into his overcoat, so now they were close to evenly matched. He doubted she had much fighting experience - knives or otherwise - but it didn't really matter since he didn't, either.

Entering the kitchen, Tom went directly to the wall opposite Monica. She was busy collecting her weapons, but he made sure to glance back and check her position often. He didn't want to be caught off guard, after all. The first thing he collected was a large fork, quickly discarded when he couldn't think of a use for it. The next thing he picked up was a skillet. It was heavy and had to be held with both hands. It could be used as a makeshift shield, but that meant he couldn't hold any weapons. He kept the handle sticking out over the counter's edge so he could grab it easily if he needed to. He chose a cutting board, much lighter and easier to wield, before making his way back to Monica.

Perhaps he would look like he was just trying to help Drake by putting the wooden board back where it belonged, or maybe she would realize his intent. Either way, he approached her from behind and started to lift the board with the intent of striking the back of her head.

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Monica now had at least a dozen knives and various other sharp things concealed on various parts of her body, but she had realised that she had been messing around for too long, and that soon Tom would be wondering what she was doing. She turned back towards him, to tell him that, now that she thought about it, she wasn't all that hungry at all, when she saw the chopping board aimed at her head. She screamed, and instinctivly raised the knife she had up her sleeve defensivly, though she somehow knew that it wouldn't do much good, until she felt it connect with something relatively soft. She dove out of the way, just in time for the chopping board to crash to the floor, where she had been seconds before...
He meant to kill me? Oh God, what have I let myself in for, when I agreed to come with him? Still I think I hurt him..., she thought, paniced as she saw the blood drip from the man, though by the way he stood she couldn't see where it was coming from...the fact that she had hurt someone, even by accident, terrified her, and she sat on the floor, frozen as the male seemed to recover...

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Hit her fast and hit her hard. That had been the plan. The wooden board would most likely kill her, but if it didn't, she would still be unconscious afterward. He could then take his time to finish her off. Make it look accidental, or suicidal. He hesitated. Kill? He was going to kill her? No. He wasn't supposed to even touch her. It was all supposed to be "accidental". So why was he suddenly thinking about killing her? It was all wrong! Wrong, wrong, wrong!

It was in that hesitation that Monica decided to turn around. Poor girl, she really shouldn't have. Tom watched her, smile frozen on her face, as time seemed to slow down. Too late now. He couldn't go back now. His decision had been made. He brought the cutting board down, hard, as she started to scream. Past the point of no return, it was now "kill or be killed". And it seemed Monica had no intentions of going down quietly.

Tom really should have known better than to try and attack while she was facing him. He didn't see the knife until it was too late. The blade rose straight up and that, combined with the force of his arm being lowered, had it easily deep in his arm before he could stop and jerk the blade out of her grasp. He dropped the board with a sharp cry and stumbled back, grabbing at the knife's handle. For a moment, he simply held it, gasping and yelping in disbelief at what had just happened. Then, with a sharp yank, he dropped the knife and held the wound in his good hand.

Looking up, Tom watched Monica. Cold, calculating, calm. She couldn't see him panic, he carefully hid that beneath the soulless exterior. But he was panicking. Everything had gone wrong, all at once. If only she hadn't turned around. If only she had waited just a bit longer. If only, if only. Didn't matter. She seemed to have frozen on spot and Tom smiled. Beautiful. Maybe this time, he could finish things. Or at least hurt her. If it didn't work this time, he would have to escape. He couldn't risk death now. Not when he was so close. So desperate.

He released his arm and advanced quickly. Reaching into his coat, he pulled out one of the fancy knives he had stolen earlier and his grin widened. "Tag," he said softly, aiming, ready to finish what he had started, "you're dead..."

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James floundered for a moment, attempting to disentangle himself from the sheets. He managed to pull himself away from the cocoon of cloth, and staggered over to Geopetto, the last sticky dregs of the bed sheets clinging to him like a ghost's hands. He crouched next to his golden doll, his brow pulled with worry. He frowned when the man apologized, there was no need for that. He couldn't help the fact that he was not well. And It had been James's fault for being the supplier anyway. But if He hadn't have gotten Gepetto drunk, there was a great possibility that James would not have just had such a gorgeously stunning moment with his sun-on-earth.

Poor young man. James reached out and rubbed the crouched back before him. Slowly, rhythmically, his fingers following the bumps of the other's spine. He was so thin, thinner than James was. Why was that? James paused for a moment to take his slightly too large jacket off and cast it away. Ah, that felt better. The green-eyed young man then shifted closer to the golden-eyed one, hoping to comfort him with his body. He ran one hand across Gepetto's back, up and down, and his other hand reached to brush golden hair out of the man's face.

Was there anything he could do? James would have said the words if he could, as his golden doll what he needed, but he couldn't, so he settled for making quiet hushing noises and comforting him gently. Hopefully Gepetto would tell James if he needed anything.

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Deget scrambled out of the vent with an oof and landed somewhere in a closet, yelping and being a little stunned for a moment. She let out a huff and made her way out of the mess of jackets and deserted coats. "Hm." The woman looked about in the hallway she'd ended up in and began making her way to the kitchen.

Swinging the door open to reveal an empty kitchen. So she was probably on the Western parts of the Mansion as the main part was inhabited by the others. Speaking of others...

As she collected a few knives and raided the kitchen, she wondered- faintly- how the others were doing. Tom must've been finishing up his eating, Geppetto.. well, he was with James the last time she'd seen them. The two males were probably getting to 'know' each other later. (At this, Deget let out a rambunctious laugh and chortled to herself. How funny it would be if the butler broke Drake's rule.) After eating a few snacks she'd managed to find, it was about time to head back to the main hallways.

Back to the vents.

The Jamaican traveled through the vents- for she had recognized the routes rather good- and popped out into Tom's room. She knew she had because she'd left a small, lil' mark right where Tom's room would be.

It was the remembering part that was a little challenging. Popping out of the vent, she plopped down on the bed and decided to wait with a cheerful little smile. The map in her head would be rather easy to put down on paper, right? Tom would be happy about that. But she'd have to get better with the actual hallways and kitchens- not just the vent routes.

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Monica shuffled back on the floor, her heart racing as she watched Tom come towards her, only stopping when she felt her back hit the counter...she was trapped...
"Why, sir?", was all she could think of saying, hoping to at least make him pause, her eyes welling up, the unshed tears blurring her vision...she didn't want to die...no one did...but she especially didn't want to die here...she raised another of the knives that she had picked up, knowing full well how useless it was in her hands...but holdinag a weapon somehow made her feel braver, gave her more resolve...she wasn't going to die here, but she wasn't killing Tom either...if she could hurt him, then maybe, but she would stop at killing, if she could...God forgave accidental deaths, right?
She slowly got to her feet, and held the knife out in front of her. Her golden hair had came loose from it's ribbon, and hung about her face in thick curls, giving her a wild appearence...She would NOT die here...

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Drake sat up suddenly, his foot falling of the chair. Oh, something good was going on. Drake cocked his head back and inhaled deeply. Oh, was that fear he smelled? Yes, that sounded right. Mmm, it smelled good. Following his nose, Drake made his way quietly to the kitchen. Oh, how ironic. Was dinner served. Actually, it was near lunch time. Maybe after he'd had a bite to eat he could feed the humans that were still alive. Speaking of that, which human was going to die. curiously Drake poked his head into the kitchen. Scents from breakfast still wafted lightly thought the room, almost overpowered by the prevailing scent of fear.

Monica and Tom. Tom seemed to have the upper hand, but Monica was holding her own. Personally, Drake hoped that Tom would win. The man seemed more capable. He'd be able to kill more humans effectively. But it honestly didn't matter. Even thought Tom probably wouldn't taste all that good, it would still be a meal.

Drake slipped in, shutting the oak door behind him with a gentle click. Then he leaned on the door, tipping his head back with a lazy grin. He closed his eyes. Mmm, it smelled so good. It reminded him of days gone by, traveling up and down the countryside with James, over rolling hills and to various homes. Those had been the good days. Quite a bit of work, but still a good lot of fun. He was so wrapped up in the scent and his own excitement that he didn't realize how much of a mess he looked. His hair was ruffled, his collared shirt rumpled, he was missing a shoe, and his had ink stain smeared on his face and hands.

'Don't mind me. Carry on." He said softly, pleasantly, as if he was interrupting no more than a heated debate or a chess match. "But I must warm you that If someone doesn't die soon, no one will get out alive." He said, eyes still closed and head tipped back, the purple veins of his pale almost translucent neck visible. Maybe they'd attack him. that'd be great fun as well. He hadn't had a good fight in a while, in fear of killing they prey and loosing the soul. But here there were so many it wouldn't hurt all that much to loose one.

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Esther soon realized that there was nothing of interest in the front area of the manor. No escape route, no hope. With a petite, defeated sigh, the girl gave up her search. She began to stroll back toward the heart of the beautiful prison, her heeled shoes click, click, clicking on the hardwood floors and echoing throughout the foyer.

'Where is everyone?' The eerie silence puzzled her and Esther couldn't decide if it was for better or worse that she was suddenly alone. She figured Geppetto was still in his chambers - but she couldn't bother him again. He looked so sickly when they had last spoken. That jamaican woman seemed to be enthralled with the ventilation system of the manor. She could be anywhere by now. That left Monica and that creepy man. Esther didn't quite like the idea, but being with Monica was better than being alone, even if she was a prudish twit.

When Esther finally snapped out of her thoughts, she realized she had unknowingly entered the dining room. A large rectangular table with long white candles stood in the center of the room. A large, red curtain of velvet was drawn over the bay window, blocking out much of the natural light. Esther imagined countless dinner parties taking place in this very room. Laughter and conversation...she could almost hear it now. A far cry from reality. She sighed again and looked about the room. The door to the kitchen was across from her. Behind her were more shut doors. They probably led to storage rooms, she suspected.

It was quiet. Esther closed her eyes for a moment and basked in her self-pity, the air around her thick and foreboding...

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It felt good.

He leaned forwards, eyes focused on nothing as fingers became unclenched from their nestling spot. His back dipped when the other advanced behind him. Such protection- he felt safe in the arms of his captor.

"Oh. James..." A brief exhalation of the other's name projected Geppetto's fondness of the other. He was so fond of James. So fond of the silent other. He feared that if he were to ever heard James's true voice he would collapse at the other's feet in awestruck wonder- and never leave that place again.

After his final wretch, and his poor little tummy was emptied, the blonde collapsed forwards and pressed a hand over his eyes, he then pulled back up and looked up to his James with a look of exasperation. "This is so indecent of me." He began, a soft exhalation of breath followed those lovely strokes- his 'I am a stuffed peacock gentleman' act shining through naturally. "James. I am sorry for you to have to dote on me in such a state as this-" he pushed the pan away, his catharsis- his cleansing was completed.

"I fear I am keeping you. So selfish of me- I am being so very selfish. James. Please, I must insist that you don't worry over me any longer."

Golden eyes traveled over the other. James looked good without his jacket- so good. He had never had more of a desire to be selfish- to keep the beautiful young man, to take him away.

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A light frown slipped across James's features, darkening them for a second. He caught the side of Gepetto's face, cupping it gently with his thin icy fingers. The golden man didn't realize that James wanted him to be selfish. James didn't want to leave. He never wanted to go back out and face life again. Just stay here in this little warm room. Alone together. It felt so good. So safe. He tried to let Gepetto know that with his eyes, gazing affectionately into the two pools of sun-kissed amber of his little golden man, rubbing his thumb slowly across the delicate face.

'Keep me, take me, never let me go.'
'And I'll follow suit.'

Now it was time to do something else. No more of these thoughts of leaving. More distractions. James's eyes traveled across the room as he released Gepetto's face, and they landed on the bowl of soup. He stood up in a swift motion, picked up the bowl and nabbed a blanket before going back to his little doll. His wonderful gorgeous little doll. Poor little doll, poor little man. He set the bowl down, in case his other became hungry it was in easy reach, and wrapped the blanket around himself and Gepetto, drawing him closer. He leaned his face against that of his golden man, an arm around his shoulder. If this didn't explain what he was trying to say, then there was no hope.

But he wouldn't give up, even if there was no hope, because in truth, he felt just as selfish as Gepetto must have thought he was. He wanted to keep this amazing sun-drop to himself, away from harm, away from his master. You're all mine. He wanted to say, hugging his ill other gently.

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Pouty lips trembled at the contact of the other's delightful little thumb, he practically purred like a cat closing his eyes as he leaned towards the touch- a happy little cat.

Geppetto watched the other with curious eyes. James didn't want to leave- he felt a sense of pleasure ring over his little body at the realization of this. He felt momentarily cold when his delightful little bundle left away- but when he returned a sloppy little smile found its way to Geppetto's face. The blanket around his shoulders brought goosebumps to his flesh.

"Jamesie." He murmured out the little pet name, leaning forwards- so that he gently pushed the other to the ground, he cuddled up next to the other, cheek pressed beneath James's neck- booted feet stuck out of the blanket while he nuzzled up next to his favorite little friend.

Like little kittens- two tiny little gentleman trembling like they didn't have a place in the world except for here. They looked like little pets, curled up on the floor entangled in eachother's arms. Geppetto decided that the spell never needed to be broken- he would never let James leave, ever.

It was a cute sight to behold.

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James's eyelids were slowly giving up a losing battle. He was so warm and safe here on the floor, His Gepetto's skin brushing his own. It was deliciously sweet, A heavy taste like a fine wine. James hadn't tasted anything in such a long time, but he imagined that this feeling was like that. Slowly, slowly he began to drop off, exhausted after two sleepless days. His head settled against the floor, his lips slightly parted, and his arms relaxed their grip around his doll, his sun-drop. It took his a few moments to leave consciousness completely, unspoken words forming on his lips.

Sweet sleep. instinctively James drew his knees up to his chest, making himself as small as possible. That had been something he'd learned early. Don't take up anymore space than you need, or your going to loose something, and it won't grow back until the next soul is caught. Most likely a hand. Burning it was the worst part. The smell, and watching a part of yourself wither in flame. It was necessary though. If the appendage still existed in a whole form, then it wouldn't grow back. And one would never get it back. Until the part was properly decayed or destroyed.

James shuddered slightly in his sleep, dreaming unpleasant things. He pressed his head against Gepetto's chest, making a muffled squeak of discomfort, seeking the warmth. The warmth was reassuring. It was much better than the cold. Everything in the manor was cold. But this. This wasn't. And it was wonderful.

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And so the little kitten slept, Geppetto brushed careful strands of hair from James's hair- eyes shimmering while the other slept. Such a vulnerable side of the other. His eyes fell upon James's coat, laying in a little bundle--- oh goodness, he wanted to wear that coat, would it be so horribly embarrassing if James woke up to find the other clad in his clothes? He decided to take the chance.

Slowly, without disturbing the other- Geppetto reached across and grabbed the dark jacket- he slipped it on over his shoulders a perfect fit- one would think the two were brothers with their similarities. He inhaled sharply, the sweet scent. Delicious.

And then he curled back up against the other, laying behind James so that he could wrap his arms around the young boy's stomach- easing the other to uncurl. He pressed his chest against James's back, low breaths rocking the two together as he entangled them within the blankets.

Spooning. Thats what they called it- the little kittens were spooning, the most lovely little sight to behold. Spooning on the floor, enveloped in eachothers warmth- Geppetto dawning his lover's jacket. One would have thought they were married for years.

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The morning drifted by for James, spent in sometimes deep sleep, sometimes in a warm sleepy stupor. After a while however, he emerged from his half unconscious state, awake and refreshed. One learned to get the most for a short amount of sleep when they worked for a volatile soul eater like Drake. As James surfaced from his blissfully warm sleep, he found that he was enfolded by something. For a brief second he panicked, going still and tense. But then he realized what it was that had him by the middle, enfolding him in a soft warmth. It was his Gepetto. Everything was okay. James relaxed. Everything was okay. Good.

James sighed lightly, reaching a hand up behind him to touch Gepetto's face gently for a moment. He was still all there. Good. After enjoying the feeling of being so close to Gepetto for a second, feeling the rise and fall of the golden-sun-drop's chest against his curved back, his heart beat, everything, James gently pulled himself out of his lover's arms and stretched delicately. A cat after a long nap. Then he leaned over to his doll with a sleepy smile on his face, Brushing the side of his face with his lips.

"Mmm." James said softly, attempting to untangle himself from the blanket with no luck. He needed to move around a bit, take a walk, clear his head. Maybe Gepetto would come with him?

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With eyes squeezed shut and fingers wrapped carefully around James Geppetto didn't even stir when the other had begun to move. He was a sleepy man, that was for sure. His mouth was slightly opened, peacefully sleeping as if he weren't in a house full of people who wanted to murder him.

When a soft kiss was pressed to the side of his face he stirred, a low 'Mmm..." Was urged from his sleeping body. "James." Was the word that was eased from his lips. Still half asleep a large golden orb opened, inspecting the moving figure in front of him. "Oh." He muttered softly, letting go of the man. He rolled onto his back- freeing the other from his cocoon of blankets, he stretched his long catlike limbs.

When he was finished he stood to his feet, looking like a three year old as he brought a fist up to his eye and rubbed it- he had never slept that well in his life.

It was because of James.

He looked to his lovely friend, a sloppy gleeful smile found its way to his lips. "Mm...morning..." Messy messy hair, long locks of blonde were matted in every which direction. He had forgotten that he'd put James's coat on in the middle of the night- so he shamelessly stood out in the open for the other to see in all of his glory.

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As James stood up a bit shakily, shaking the blanket from where it was clinging to his leg, he noticed that his jacket wasn't where he left it. It was somewhere much better. A grin spread across James's face, he was delighted. He reached out and took the lapel of the coat in his hands, drawing the golden man closer. He tipped his head to one side and kissed the wonderful man fleetingly before pulling away. He remained close, however, a bright grin on his face. That was his way of saying good morning, although it wouldn't be nearly as enjoyable if said to anyone but this delightful man.

Then he released Gepetto's- well, really his- jacket and took a pace back, pulling at the collar of his shirt. He felt rumpled, but pleasantly so. He'd had a good rest. He ran a hand through his hair, thinking for a second. What time was it? Nearly lunch time? Drake would probably be down in the kitchen then. Maybe it would be better to head upstairs. Maybe find a patch of sunlight to sit in. And he'd have to bring Gepetto along, James felt if he left Gepetto alone, he'd be leaving most of himself behind as well. He had so much emotion invested in the beautifully delicate man. Was it foolish? Were these delicious emotions foolish. No, James refused to think that they were.

Hmm... Maybe it was a good time for that foray. James really needed to stretch his legs, and this room was starting to give him a foreboding feeling. To ask his other, however, posed a bit of a problem. Maybe he could pantomime. James held up two fingers to Gepetto, then inverted the v. He then moved his fingers as if they were walking and quirked an eyebrow.

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Why. Why? Good question, why. Why her? Why here? Why now? Why not let everyone just continue on in their little world, oblivious to their surroundings? Why why why.

Why not? Everyone... They were dangerous. A threat to his personal health and safety. And Deget. They would try to kill Deget eventually. He would not let that happen. No one was allowed to kill Deget. That was a right reserved only for him...

But why Monica? Because, because, because... Because she's dangerous! Look at her, she's a cornered animal. Been so from the start. And the cornered ones are the most dangerous. Funny. He'd always thought it was the drunks. They were always so unpredictable and had such mood swings. He stopped and twirled the knife in his hands as he asked, "Why not?" He grinned, wider, but this time it was different. Haunted, frightened, hunted, desperate. "Gepetto was supposed to be first," he said suddenly, taking a step back. He watched her warily. She was starting to recover, not good. The moment she got to her feet completely, she would have to be... disposed of. "He's a drunk. Far too dangerous and... unpredictable to simply let wander." The smile wavered, weakened, then returned in full force. "You, you were special. You were alone. I needed someone to test on; see what worked. Besides, didn't I tell you, 'it's dangerous to be wandering about alone'?"

Tom started to advance again, knife still twirling slowly in his hand, when he finally registered her expression. Monica - poor girl, she really shouldn't have to go through this - looked about ready to cry. She held her knife in front of her protectively, trying to prepare herself to stop his next attack. His grin faltered and he grit his teeth together. "Stop it," he said softly. His head lowered; he felt so guilty. Stop looking at me like that... Why should she? She has every right to cry, and you know it. After all, isn't she going to die? "STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT!" He didn't hear the door shut or lock. He didn't hear Drake's comment or see the lazy smile. He was focused completely on Monica.

It wasn't his fault. None of it was. He didn't want to kill her any more than she wanted to kill him. But it was too late. Too late. He couldn't go back now. He had to finish what he had started or she would mess up all his plans. He wasn't a man anymore, but a beast - cornered animal just trying to get out of trouble. He took a step forward, twisting his body as he swung his arm, and aimed for her chest. The strike, if it landed, wouldn't kill her. There was enough force that the knife would cut through her clothes and skin, but the wound wouldn't be deep. He was too far away for that. But it would hurt her, like she had hurt him.

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Deget had dozed off, curling up on the bed and clenching the sheets in her balled up fists. She had a bad feeling about something and it transferred into her dreams somehow. She woke up with a start and shuddered. The events of last night caught up to her and she slowly sat up- eyes lidded and confused for a moment before he realized why she had been in this room in the first place.

Waiting for Tom.

The woman frowned to herself and rubbed her eyes. Tom had never come, now that she thought some more and remembered why exactly she'd fallen asleep.

Should she go investigate or simply wait some more?

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Upon being grabbed and pulled into a delightful, sweet tasting little kiss- Geppetto's eyes flashed, he however quickly blushed upon realizing that the jacket he'd been wearing was indeed the pretty young butler's. "Oh.. I..." He smiled, eyes lighting up as he winked at the other. "If you want this back, you're in for a fight darling." The word darling tasted good on his lips, he wanted to call Jame's lovely names like that more.

He hadn't had a drink yet, and that was okay- he didn't want to feel drunk in the presence of his young love, he did not need a drink... His body needed it however- his fingers trembled at his sides, he would ignore his needs for James- just to dine in the other's presence without having a mind effected by alcohol.

His lovely little yellow bird had begun to ask him something, he squinted his eyes and extended a hand quickly. "Oh! One moment" Trembling fingers found their way to his pocket, pulling out what appeared to be a cute little set of bi-focals. He pushed them onto his face, eyes large and googlie as he watched the other.

"Oh, you want me to go on a walk with you?" he smiled arm finding its way around James's waist. "I would love to~" He chirped.

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Esther was just about to check the back pantry when she heard it. The sound of anger. Of harsh, animalistic tones screaming - and not far off. As the silence was decimated, the girl's insides lurched. Instinctively, she found herself running toward the source of the noise. Suddenly she stopped. 'What are you doing!? You don't know what in God's name is in there! You could be running straight into a trap or...or...what if someone finally snapped!?'

Esther then realized in horror that the yelling was Tom's voice. He had lost it. She knew he was unstable. She'd expected this to happen and yet it still shook her to the very depths of her being. 'Who could he be yelling at?' Geppetto was resting in his room, Deget was probably in the vents still, so that left... - 'Monica!' Now the girl was completely at the mercy of her instincts. Everything that was sane and right in the world screamed at her to run. To run and fetch help. But fear, confusion, and morbid curiosity had gripped her mind. And won.

With trembling hands, she pushed the swinging kitchen door open...

...and gasped in absolute terror when she realized what she was seeing.

That man...that horrible man. He had Monica cornered and the two were staring each other down, each armed with a knife. There was blood on the floor. Whose was it!? Esther's hands clasped her mouth in an effort to stifle her cry. It looked like the unfortunate guests, like it or not, were starting to play Drake's game...

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James smiled when Gepetto slid a pair of glasses onto the bridge of his nose. He looked so adorable with them on. Was it possible that anything could detract from the shining beauty that was Gepetto? James didn't think it was possible. With a grand flourish, James motioned 'Onward!' He wouldn't worry yet that the hand around his waist was trembling. He merely tucked his own had into it, holding the warm shaky fingers still. His other arm, after opening the door, moved to wrap itself over his sun-drop's shoulders, hugging himself to the man.

As James started up the stairs, guiding Gepetto with him, he started to hum. It was a nothing song, just random notes. He could vaguely remember that as a child he'd loved to sing. But that was in ages gone by. Long ages. and Drake also told him that the reason he picked James as his butler was because of his pretty voice. That didn't make much sense to James, but then again, most of the things Drake did made no sense to the butler. He just did what he was told. Well, except for now. Now he was disobeying orders, he really was supposed to be tailing Tom, and it felt good. Damn what Drake wanted, James wanted Gepetto. And Gepetto wanted him back.

Suddenly, James realized that his grip on Gepetto's shoulder was getting tighter and tighter. He relaxed his grip swiftly, nuzzling his face against his other's ear in apologetically, a sigh expelling gently from his throat. Be in the moment, do not think, just enjoy. He told himself sharply, resting his head on the warm shoulder next to him as they walked on.

The hallways on the third floor of the castle were rather musty, James rarely had the time to clean them thoroughly, but they were decorated with vases of dried flowers and ancient tapestries, most of them not gained by traditional means, but some of them gifts. The windows became lager, more decorative, and these were not secured as the ones lower were. high morning light was seeping in through the windows, warming the hallways, and the rolling hills and forest behind the manor were clearly visible. In short, it felt glorious, especially with Gepetto by his side.

___

Drake spotted Esther open the door across the hall, torn from his engrossment in the stand off unfolding before him. Idiot girl, did she want to die too? Tom had obviously lost it, which was great, so long as someone kept him from killing everyone else at once. Speaking of that, where was James? he should have felt the fear and come down by now. With a swift movement, Drake swept across the room to Esther, avoiding the two who were standing, one driven crazy by fear and anger, the other cornered and trying to hold her own.

"Esther, what are you doing? Go, or he'll kill you too." Drake hissed at the young lady. One dead human was enough for today. Drake tried to move in front of the swinging door, blocking her view, hoping she'd leave without protest.

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Esther's mouth was frozen open in absolute horror. When Sir Drake seemingly glided across the kitchen to her, she would have screamed - if the very wind hadn't been knocked out of her petite frame. Struggling to catch her breath, all the poor girl could do was manage a soft, choking noise. She stepped back from Drake instinctively, a hand clasping at her throat in fear.

It didn't make any sense. Drake wanted everyone to kill each other. He wanted everyone to die. And now here he was, the sadistic master of the manor, telling her to run. To save herself. Again, Esther took a step back. Then another. And another, almost tripping over the carpet in the hallway. With that, she turned her back on Drake and the bloody mess that was the kitchen - and ran. Heels pounding on the floor, wheezing in terror as the corset added to the extreme discomfort. But she felt none of that now. Further and further she pushed herself. Where could she go? Her room? No place was safe in this prison. Still, she ran, tears streaming down her face because it just didn't make any sense...

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Feeling the hand tighten around him Geppetto turned to the other with a gentle look of concern splashed across his golden features. His eyes begged the other to tell him what was wrong, but at the same time he made no move to prod into the other's personal life. All Geppetto knew was that James had seen some hardships... James could not speak, and he was left to wonder if that was because of his master or not.

"Does your... Throat... Still hurt?" He asked softly, eyes reflecting his concern as he strolled along with the pretty other.

He eyed the floor that they were walking on, bi-focas still resting on his face, magnifying those large pretty eyes as he took in the sights and even the smells. "Wow." He whispered quietly, trembling fingers winding tighter around his companion, he was afraid that if he let go the dream would end and he would wake back up out of a drunken stupor.

He grabbed James's hand, ushering the other to follow as he approached one of the large windows, his mouth dropped open as the sight in front of him was beheld. "James!" He simply exclaimed the name as if all his surprise and all the glory could have been expressed with that single name. James! Not even a choir of angels could have glorified the situation like exclaiming the boy's name allowed. James! James James!

He wanted to sing. He had to, would it be strange if he did?

"James... Can I sing you a song?"

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James closed his eyes when the light from the window hit him, warming his chill skin. He shook his head slightly when his golden sun drop asked if his throat was still sore, wondering if there was any deeper meaning behind the question. But he'd not think on it. James wished he could just not think at all right now. His thoughts were going sour. He could feel something in the air, a cloying feeling that made him shiver. And it kept bugging him. What was it and why was it so familiar?

And then the pretty ray of sunshine spoke again. 'James...can I sing you a song?'

James looked at him for a second, smiling softly. You don't have to ask, silly. His eyes said. Then he nodded, releasing Gepetto so he could stand in front of him, leaning against the window sill, the sun warm an his back. He'd love to hear a song. when had the last time he'd heard anyone sing? Other than Drake's little ironic ditties, but those didn't count. And Gepetto, he looked like an angel, so he must be able to sing like on too. The angel's likeness, singing to the devils spawn. How funny. Or, it would be, if it happened to someone else. Oh, what would James give just to be a normal human?

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A slightly frightened smile comes to the boy's lips as he releases his hold over James. Truthfully he is afraid, it has been ages since he sang- and there is not a piano around for him to poke at, but he just needs James to hear his song... His yellow bird song.

(( This is it- the song that Geppetto is so obsessed with. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wd0_K0fqGVA Try to imagine a boy singing :D ))

As a child he had very few memories of his mother. He didn't care much about the woman- except for the fact that she used to sing him a song. It was a sad little song filled with sad little realities and promises.

He slowly raised his head, extending an arm as he turned away to look out the window.

"The snow was very plentiful,
and crumbs were very few,
when a weather beaten sparrow through,
a mansion window flew,
Her eye fell on a golden cage,
a sweet love song she heard,
sung by a pet canary there,
a handsome yellow bird,
he said to her: miss sparrow,
I've been struck by cupids arrow,
would you share my cage with me,
She looked up his castle,
with its ribbon and its tassel,
and in a plaintive tones said she:
goodbye little yellow bird,
I'd rather brave the cold
on a leafless tree,
than a prisoner be,
in a cage of gold.

The spoiled and petted yellow bird,
could scarcely believe it true,
that a common sparrow should refuse,
a bird with blood so blue,
he told her the advantages,
of riches and of gold,
she answered that her liberties,
for gold could not be sold.
She said I must be going,
but he cried no no its snowing,
and the wintry windstorm blows,
stay with me my little deary,
for without you 'twould be dreary,
but she only sighed ah no.
Goodbye little yellow bird,
I'd gladly mate with you,
I love you little yellow bird,
but I love my freedom too,
so goodbye little yellow bird,
I'd rather brave the cold,
on a leafless tree,
than a prisoner be,
in a cage of gold.


As he sang the pretty little words he looked up at the boy, eyes slightly somber. He felt like he was trapped in a cage with a pretty yellow bird, he wanted to fly away- but he loved the yellow bird dearly. He wanted to take the yellow bird away with him. "I.. Uhm." He blushed a deep crimson. "I don't usually sing for people so I..." He looked down to the jacket he was wearing, the one that belonged to James.

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James's eyes slid half closed as he listened to the song. He let the words carry him, such heavy words. But if he resisted, he'd drown. So James merely let the words carry him. His lips parted slightly as he listened, a slightly bemused expression crossed his face. Such a pretty song, but so sad. And it reminded him of himself. Caged, trapped, but longing for the little sparrow that flitted right outside. Longing, longing to be free, but not able to live a life outside the cage, not able to feed himself.

When his golden doll went red, another oh so warm color, James used a single thin finger to lift his chin for a brief moment. If only he could communicate how much he loved the song. How much he loved the fact that it was Gepetto sing the song, for him. Now it was time to lighten the mood. James reached down and clasped Gepetto's hands in his own. He bowed his head slightly, then swept his lover across the floor, a waltz humming in the back of his throat.

'Would you care to dance, my pretty little bird? I can dance a waltz or two, my sparrow dear, even if this golden sir can never say a word.'

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Geppetto took the hand, eyes flashing with something close to a sad sort of enthusiasm. He felt strange, however- singing that song felt good, it was like he'd told the other a secret that had been weighing on his chest for a very long time, he was liberated. How very peculiar. He swayed across the room, chin tucking perfectly in that little nook that was James's shoulder, lips pressing into his neck. His arms moved along the other's form- appreciating it like a gift from the god's

He smiled, thoughts in a foggy blur of happiness for a long while, they were simply two lovers dancing- nothing more and nothing less, there wasn't an extensive formula surrounding it, or a sick man's game-

He squeezed his eyes shut, fingers weaving around the other's shoulders. "I don't want him to hurt you." He cleared his throat, whispering the words into his neck. "He's hurting you isn't it..?" He continued the slight waltz, but then a thought struck him and he pulled away, eyes shocked- he was dumbfounded- why hadn't he seen this earlier?

"Drake will hurt you if he knows I'm distracting you from your duties." He released his hold of the young man, biting his lower lip. "I can't let him hurt you. If he hurts you I don't even-" He covered his eyes with his hand, trembly trembly hand. He needed a drink You need a drink. His brain whispered, he presses a hand to his chest and his heart thumps back at him. It tells him he needs a drink too- a small drink... Rum in the kitchen.

Trembly trembly.


Drink.

No.

He turns away from James, heart breaking as he walks away in a hurried huff, fingers reaching the collar of his shirt- figetting with it. It was a nifty little habit he'd picked up when he was in a scarce mood as he was now.

Down the halls. Running now. Why was he running? Each step he took his throat became more constricted- his James was behind him. His James was hurting, he wanted to stop his James from hurting.

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Monica could only gasp as the knife went down into her chest, not deep enough to kill her, but enough to hurt...hurt a lot...She dropped her own knife and slid back down to the floor, clutching at the wound, trying in vain to stop the blood flowing...but even through the pain and panic, one question forced it's way to the front of her mind: why hadn't he killed her? He could have, easily...so why? Unfotunantly, she couldn't voice that question, she was in too much pain to, but it was in her eyes nonetheless, the tears flowing freely down her face...
Why? Why don't you just kill me? I know you can, and you feel you need to, so why not just do so?

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Fingers were left out in the air, trembling, slightly, as the figure of his lover retreated. No. Don't go. The plaintive cry rang in James head, trying to force itself from his head out into the open air. It did so in the form of a low pained moan. 'Don't leave me, my little golden doll. Take me with you. The pain you leave in my heart is worse than any Drake could possibly inflict, for physical pain will end but this heartbreak will last for eternity.' James stood in a bewildered silence for a moment that stretched on into the misty distance, a second that spiraled into infinity. And then he ran.

James's feet hit the stones, but after a short time he realized that the tight ill fitting shoes were slowing him down. He had to get to Gepetto, before he got to where ever he was going. Where was his golden little sun-on-earth going? James slipped out of his shoes easily, without breaking stride, and continued to run over the bare stones and the occasional rug in his sock clad feet. But after his long moment of staring shell shocked, he couldn't even hear the sounds of his other moving along the corridor. He'd have to resort to less pleasant methods.

Less, desirable methods. But if it helped him find his lovely love before anyone else had the chance to get to him, which might end in his delicate man's death, it would be worth it. James cocked back his head and inhaled deeply through his mouth. The delicious scents of five very human souls wafted up to him. it was dizzyingly painful. Oh God, James suddenly realized how bad his idea had been. So...hungry...James's frame bent forward, eagerly. The hunt. He couldn't catch souls, but he could kill... tear human bodies....So hungry...

--

Mmm, Drake leaned forward, watching blood gush from the open wound eagerly. His fingers tightened into fists. Oh, she wasn't dead yet, but soon. Soon, he promised the little hunger in his belly, the hunger that was pushing its way up slowly, blindly, like a little phoenix poking its head from the ashes. His eyes turned to Tom and he took a slight step forward. He didn't want to frighten the human into fleeing before he job was done, but he was so hungry, and here was this soul right there, keening in pain, whining and writhing, just waiting to be eaten. Oh, it made Drake's heart race in excitement. God, he hadn't been so excited in years, maybe not since he'd met his James the first time.

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Perhaps it might of been in the blonde's better interest if he had paid attention to where he was running- perhaps he might have seen the slight fold in the small rug that decorated the hallway- and perhaps he might have not lost his footing when he hit it.

But he wasn't paying attention. And he did hit the spot on the rug. And he did lose his footing. Up and away he went- Geppetto didn't just wipe out, he completely and utterly lost himself in a full on "Feet off the ground" tumble. The poor blonde landed like a sack a few feet away from the small hitch in the rug. CRACK the sickening sound of his glasses smashing filled his pulsating ear drums. He lay there on his face for a few uncomfortable moments, simply reveling in the fact that he had completely and utterly tripped "Uhhhhfffff..." The blonde groaned as he regained the air which had been knocked out of him.

He pressed a finger to his lip, it was bleeding- no doubt he was going to have a pretty swollen lip in the morning.

He really hoped nobody saw that.

He really hoped.

Completely unmotivated to move, the blonde inched his way back onto his knees- no need to lose any self respect that he had left and sprawl on the ground like a piggy. He pressed his fingers to his mouth, nasty nasty red. He was on the ground with his elbows digging into the carpet along with his knees with his little tush sticking out. He frowned, lifting up his smashed glasses- more than likely the glass was what nipped his lip.

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Run...run...run... A tiny part of James's mind screamed at him, but James didn't care. he was in the hunt. But where was Drake? James could foggily remember the first fifty or so years of his un-life with Drake, and he could remember that Drake had been around him constantly in that time. Mostly for fear that James would wander off and destroy a whole town, so consumed was he in the hungry blood-lust of it. It had taken James a long time to become accustomed to the never ending hunger, but as he adapted to it, he learned that there were ways of ignoring it. One of those was never taking a breath deep enough to really catch the smell of anything less that five meters away. No tracking the scent of a soul unless he intended to eat it. Or if Drake told him to. Because Drake could control James better than James could control himself sometimes.

But when they were both rational, James was the one in control. Of course that wasn't the case now. James was loping along right now, sometimes using his hands to propel himself faster, and sometimes hitting walls as he turned corners. The closest scent was a warm sweet one, but the edges were frayed with salty pain. And there was a slight sourness to it. Overall, a very intriguing scent. And it was close, three corridors away. James slid on the stone floor, scrabbling to find purchase of the slick stones and colliding heavily with the wall.

"Oh." A heavy breathy sound escaped his lips as the young soul eater stumbled to his knees. Gotta keep going...He pulled himself up to his feet again and continued to run. Ah, so much closer, what was the body that sheltered the soul not moving? Silly human, not realizing the danger so close...so close... Slam.

Against the wall again, but there it was, the human, with its back to him. James sat for a moment, staring at him, before getting wobbily to his feet. Now the dire need to get close was gone, this human was obviously weak, it was lying on the ground, all there was now to stalk it and prevent it from running. And where was Drake?

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He hated her. The way she looked at him, the way her eyes accused him. Why did she keep looking at him like that? Tom didn’t want to kill her. At least, that was what he told himself, but a small voice in his head kept whispering, Yes you do. He didn’t want to kill her, but he hated her.

Why? Why did he suddenly hate her? Because she was accusing him. It was written all over her. Tom narrowed his eyes as he glared at her, trying to decide what to do next. He couldn’t just let her go. She would just run off and tell everyone, and then everything was ruined. His plans, his hard work, everything.

So why do you hesitate? Damn that voice. It was so persistent. It wanted blood. Then again, a small part of him had wanted to hurt people for quite some time now. But didn’t everyone? Get it over with. You can’t let her go, anyway. So why prolong it? The voice had a point. Why did he drag it out? He was very capable of ending everything, right here, right now.

Something wet trailed down his cheek. Tom rubbed it with his good hand – he was starting to lose feeling in his right arm. He’d have to look at that later – and advanced on Monica. He was crying. He didn’t want to admit it, but he was crying. He didn’t want to do this, but there was no other way. He was cornered, she couldn’t be allowed to leave, and the voice in his head was very convincing.

“I’m sorry.” He moved forward suddenly, slashing with the knife. His target was her neck, supposedly the quickest and most painless way to die. And, if he hit, there was no way she could ‘accidentally’ survive.

“I’m sorry.”

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Monica saw what was coming...had done from the start, when he had first attacked her...and yet...she didn't fight, didn't even try to stop the blade decending towards her neck...this was the best way, she supposed, to go with out any pain...

“I’m sorry.” his voice was full of tears for some reason, though Monica couldn't understand why...he had wanted to kill them all, just as she had wanted to kill Drake...she hoped that Tom would do that for her...

"I know...", was the last words that she said before the knife hit home, and her voice was silenced forever...she slumped to the floor, the blood pouring from her neck, staining her blonde curls red as she lay on them, the last gasps of breath struggling out from her ruined throat...until they stopped altogether...and she lay still...her blue eyes dull, lifeless, like the body which owned them...

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A low wail of triumph sounded in Drakes throat as he pounced on the dead body, ignoring Tom, and broke through the chest of the dead girl. The soul, yes the soul was there, glistening and white. It huddled against the spinal column, trying to avoid leaving. But no one could avoid this. Drake caught the whip between his fingers with practiced ease, and without backing off the body, crammed the entire thing into his mouth. No time to wait for James, he was going to be punished for not coming. And The game had been Drake's idea in the first place, hadn't it? So he got the first soul. James could have another one. Perhaps the young Gepetto's? Wouldn't that be a laugh.

Drake sighed in pleasure, wiping his mouth on the back of a bloody sleeve. The shirt would no longer be wearable, but it was worth being sloppy over. he felt good. Better than he had in weeks. But the warm feeling wouldn't last long. maybe an hour or so. With his back towards Tom, Drake looked down at the body underneath him. How to get rid of it? Hmm... Decisions decisions.

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Tom stared at Monica blankly. It was all over; there was nothing left. Her body looked so... empty. And the blood. Thick, red, sticky, and it was everywhere. He lifted his left hand ad looked at it. It was covered in blood, mostly Monica's. His right arm was covered in his own from where she had stabbed him. What was this feeling of pain and emptiness? Why did his chest suddenly feel so heavy?

He still couldn't believe what had happened. He had just killed another human being.

A triumphant cry startled Tom out of his thoughts. He jumped out of the way just in time for Drake to pounce on the body. Tom watched in horror as the body was broken open and something white pulled out. He stepped back once... twice... three times before a voice screamed, RUN! Someone was screaming. Tom turned and threw the kitchen doors open. A voice was screaming in terror. His heart was pounding in his chest as he ran as far away as he could. A voice was- Wait. Wasn't that his voice?

Yes. Yes it was. Tom was screaming like a frightened child. It his screams that echoed around the mansion. He was positive that everyone had heard him. Did that mean Drake would be chasing him now? "Tag, you're dead." The words he had spoken to Monica echoed in his mind. Would he be tagged next? Would the next person he ran into try to kill him? It didn't matter anymore. He was screaming and running, still holding his knife and trying to run away from the source of his terror. He wouldn't be able to run for much longer, though. He was still bleeding heavily and already he was starting to feel lightheaded.

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Oopsie. He'd frightened the human. Drake better go catch him before he hurt himself more. Or committed suicide. That would ruin Drake's whole day. Suicide soured a soul until it was almost uneatable. Bleah. He'd just leave this bloody little body here. He'd ask James to clean it up later. Right now he had to save the human from doing anything stupid or hurting anyone else for the movement. It wouldn't be too hard to find the man from the way he was wailing. Was he still carrying the knife? "Don't run with sharp objects, human, that's one way to get yourself impaled." Drake muttered to himself before starting off to find his little chess-piece. This one was a knight, he was sure. He'd made the first move.

Tomorrow Drake would have to find a new human. Drake pondered where he'd get a tasty one for as he strolled down the hall. Hopefully Tom would collapse soon, and Drake could drag him back to his room and fix up his arm. Disease was another thing that tainted souls. Swift deaths always tasted better than long, drawn out affairs. And it would ruin the game if the main player died of disease. Drake began to hum merrily, disregarding the blood smeared all over his face hands and shirt. Blood was a common enough happening. But it didn't wash out.

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The scream snapped her out of her half-asleep stupor. Deget straightened and slid off the bed- as if she possessed the muscles or bones at all- before opening the door and looking around. Tucking a few strands of hair behind her ear, the woman set off in the direction in where she'd heard the scream come from. What had happened- what had she missed? A new find, a fight?

But the thing was, that piercing sound of terror sound male. Drake didn't do that, Geppetto- she was pretty sure he wouldn't do that. And James damn well couldn't have made that sound.

So who was it? That left only one person.

... Tom.

Finally, the Jamaican crossed the fleeing male. Eyes wide she stopped the male with two hands clasped firmly to his shoulders and steered him to a wall. "Woah, woah WOAH! Tom, mon, ya okay?" Her eyes observed the taller person before something dawned on her horribly. "Yer bleeding." Now she panicked a little. "I gotta get you some help!" she squawked out and began looking around frantically before taking him- dragging him- to a bathroom. There had to be a first aid kit, there had to be a medical... thing she could use!

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Scream, run, scream, run, scream, run, scre-WALL! WHAM! Poor Deget. She shouldn't have frightened Tom like that. Tom never stopped running so he almost ran over her until she changed his direction, causing him to run into the wall instead. "Owowowowowww..." he moaned, clutching at his head and sagging in Deget's arms. She was panicking about something. What? Was he dying? Or had she noticed the knife he was still holding? Maybe it was all the blood... He was vaguely aware of the fact that he was being half carried half dragged until his brain finally registered the fact that they were in a bathroom.

Wonderful, he was starting to zone out. Not good. Was he dying? He was pretty sure he was. "Mmmph. Deget?" Stop panicking. Tom watched her movement cautiously. Her freaking out was starting to scare him. Stop it, stop it, stop it! There wasn't much of anything he could do, so he settled for squeezing his eyes shut. Hopefully, if he couldn't see his death coming, that would get it over with faster.

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Drake sped up a little bit when the wails stopped. Was Tom dead? no, he couldn't be. Drake would have felt it. Okay, maybe that was exaggerating his skills a bit, but still. He'd have known if Tom had kicked the bucket. And it would have been such a pity. Tom was the best player.

Following the trail of blood that had been left by the crazed bleeding man, Drake hurried through the halls. Gah, the blood wouldn't wash out of the rugs very well, he'd have to go find new ones. Great. Hadn't he told the humans not to bleed all over the carpets? Maybe he should use reverse psychology on them and tell then that they had to bleed on his priceless rugs. Then they wouldn't. or they still would. Humans were crazy like that.

Finally, finally, Drake could feel that he was getting close. Tom's blood trail became muddled at one point, someone else had come, and then it turned into a bathroom. Well, the blood didn't turn into a bathroom, Drake shook his head. he needed to stop over thinking things. Drake swiped at his mouth with his shirt sleeve again and called out softly,

"Tom? Are you alright? You're going to need some stitches for that wound." He poked his head cautiously into the bathroom, seeing Deget, Tom, and quite a bit of blood. He bit his lip. All that blood didn't bode well for Tom.

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Deget searched frantically and slam her fist to a wall, hissing "FUCK." There was no medical kit in this bathroom and now Tom would die, just like everyone in her life- dying, dying, dying. Dammit, no. She couldn't think like this- it was plain horrible for her to give up hope. She could help Tom; You didn't need first aid kits to help somebody.

Her head snapped up at the sound of the appearance of Drake and she almost cried. The tears built up in her eyes, you could see it, but she didn't let them fall.

"Please, there's no first aid kit. Can you help me with bandages- or- or something?"

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The kneeling body remained unaware of any other foreign attack, he had a simple task on his mind- stand to his feet and somehow fix the little mess he'd made. The boy moaned, pressing his fingers to his lips- watching the scarlet stain his pretty little fingers. Really. He was a clumsy fool- and now he would be doomed to see important details now that his glasses were cracked.

WHAM

The sound of something inhuman slamming into something rang throughout the small corridor with a heart sinking PLUNK. The angel trembled as he whipped around quickly to eye his predator, his lower lip was already two times as big, the blonde brought a trembly hand up to his eyes and squinted making out what the figure in front of him was.

James?

Once, when Geppetto was walking through the streets of paris- he encountered a hungry dog. It's fur was a mass of festering sores, and his left eye was completely blind- he could see each and every wrack of it's rib-cage with the feeble breaths that it inhaled. The dog had cornered him, and stared at him with an animosity- an instinct that only a truely starved hunter could even muster. The dog stared at him with hungry eyes, it's entire body following suit.

This is what he saw. He saw a hungry predator, it's body starved- it would not listen to reason. And yet, Geppetto saw his lover- he saw the boy he'd woken up with that morning and waltzed with only a few moments earlier. "James?" The name left his bloody lips in a hazey whisper as he took a tiny step back. "Is that... You?" He knew it was James, he didn't even need to ask- and yet he did it anyway.

He realized he was being silly. "Oh. James..." The name left his lips as he sniffled softly, he took a few steps forwards- "I'm sorry I ran away. I just-" He couldn't find the words, instead he approached the figure of the boy.

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Esther slammed her bedroom door behind her just as Tom's screaming hit her ears. She shut her eyes tightly - tears squeezing out. She tensed every muscle in her body as the screams continued. Slowly, she sank to the floor, her every sense begging for the noise to stop. Esther had heart screams before, of course. Women. Women would scream when they recieved good news. Women would scream when a mouse ran across the parlor floor. But this wasn't a mouse...and it wasn't a woman...it was a man. The sound of a man screaming, screaming in absolute terror, was foreign to the young beauty. Tom's wails invaded Esther's head and bounced around in her skull as the vision of that bloody kitchen scene burned deeper into her psyche. She could only hope that the screams would end - and Tom along with them. If Monica had killed him, it was because he deserved it. She knew he had attacked her first.

'Please,' she whispered to herself, 'Please let Tom just die. Let this just be over...'

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"We need to get him to his room." Drake said, stepping fully into the room and running a hand through his hair, thinking. "He's going to need stitches." Drake put his thumb nail into his mouth, chewing on it as he thought. Then he bent and scooped the man up into his arms. The human was bleeding profusely from where he'd been stabbed. "Damn it, this wasn't supposed to happen." He muttered under his breath as he turned. "And where the hell is James? Have you seen him, Miss Deget?" Drake shook his head, carefully easing through the door with the human in his arms.

He'd have to take some risks. "I've got some stuff in my room, in the desk drawer. Bandages and a sewing kit and all that lot. Door is down the hall, up a level, and to your left across the hallway and then the big oaken door. It should still be open. Just kick the drawer and it'll unlock." It'd have to do. Even though the sketch papers were still out on the desk, as well as his jacket and his left shoe. Eh, it didn't matter. Who cared what these humans thought about him.

"And be quick please."
--

James withdrew hesitantly as the human stood, backing up a few paces. But then he regained his confidence. This man was not approaching him with violent actions in mind, but in a rather friendly manner. How funny. He didn't realize what James was. James moved sideways, green eyes fixed on the man, gauging his reaction. Would he run or stay? James couldn't decide which one he'd enjoy more. Maybe the running. It'd be so much more fun to chase after him. James dipped, balancing himself on two outstretching fingers, head tilted upwards to continue staring at the human's face.

No glimmer of recognition. James didn't register who it was at all. He was just a hungry souleater, and here was an unwitting human, blood smeared on his little mouth, open or the picking. A low growl rose in James throat. Run, human, run as fast as your legs will take you. James will catch you if you fall.

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And then he saw it- it was with a brief, inhuman sense of revelation that Geppetto could see it in the other's eyes. He saw that dog- the hungry dog on the streets. When the man crouched he felt his heart sink- tender fingers unwrapped themselves from around the smashed glasses, they fell to the floor with a tiny 'plunk'.

He opened his mouth as if he would speak, but instead he said nothing- lower lip trembling.

Run away. Run again.

His brain screamed, and he withdrew in upon himself- it was time to take action.

Like a gazelle he shot, across the halls- he was a slender little boy, he was a drunk suffering from withdrawl, he would not make it far- and yet he ran away. He ran to break the spell.

Those eyes.

His breath came out short, catching in his throat like he was about to implode upon himself. And then, he realized he was being silly- James wasn't going to hurt him... James... The boy behind those eyes was James. The blonde stopped, eyes glued to the ground- he did not turn around either, he left his back facing James. He would not be afraid of his lover.

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"I don't know. Last I saw, he was with Pet," Deget answered immediately, eyes trained on the bleeding body of Tom. She nodded and began making her way to the room, stopping and squeezing Tom's hand lightly before running off. She didn't feel like taking advantage of Drake but it was a necessity. Her reason for coming here was still absolute but now she'd learned to care for Tom, and Pet, and James and maybe even Drake a little. Bother, this wasn't working out like she'd planned.

Thanks to her long legs and quick feet, she got into Drake's room and quickly retrieved the needed items. Her gaze lingered on the desk and she made a mental photograph of the pictures and searched through a drawer or two.

Oho. A key.

She pocketed it carefully and dashed out of the room-only a minute she'd spent in the room- before skidding to a halt where Drake was with Tom's body. "Got them all," the Jamaican said as she set the equipment down and immediately opened them up.

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"Good, Deget. Thank you. I don't think this poor hu- Tom will make it very much longer." Drake sighed, gently laying the human on the floor. Then he tipped his head back and yowled, "James, If you don't get here immediately your head will part company with your body." Then he gave Deget an apologetic smile before kneeling down to get to work, coughing slightly. Hopefully James, the silly little butler, would come. And stop messing around with the french-man. How Ironic that was. like King Richard Lionheart. Messing around with french-men. His father had been angry with the prince. Drake had thought it hilarious. And it hadn't detracted from his soul at all. Richard had been delicious. His little brother, however, had been considerably less so.

"wee need to clean up all this blood." Drake said, digging through the supplies for a rag. "I can't work if I can't see the wound. Monica really got him good."

__

Run, run, get the human. Eagerly, James chased him. And then the human just stopped. James leapt. Knocked the human to the ground. Gotcha. You didn't run enough, stupid human. Time for a little game. Gotta wait for Drake. James leaned close to the back of the young man's neck. Mmm, he smelled so good. James sat, his face still close to the young man's spine. Did he really have to wait? James's fists clenched and unclenched, and after a short time, he lost his patience. He tipped his head slightly to one side, poised with his mouth open to bite, when a voice pierced the air.

Drake!

Gotta go, gotta find Drake. But he couldn't bring the human with him, no. He'd have to hunt all over again. James jumped off the human and took off down the hall, going to find his master. maybe there was food there.

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Tackled. With a small exhalation of whatever air had existed within his young frame, it was gone in an instant as he hit the ground. James on top of him, and not in a good way. The beast of a man shuttered above him with animosity- what was he? What could James possible be? How had he changed from sweet and loving to a beast of a man in an instant, had this all been a game? Was Geppetto really apart if a much greater experiment?

He crippled at the thought, lowered his head, and pressed his cheek into the ground. He would welcome the fate that tempted him so- he would welcome death by James's hand- his love, even if their love had been a farce.

And then a booming voice sounded over the halls, and as fast as James had tackled him- he was gone in an instant.

Silence. The blonde tasted silence, he swallowed it like a tuft of muck- burning his insides. He had no inspiration to get up, and yet he did- eyes suddenly dulled. His brain screamed at him- logical mumbo jumble that made so much sense to him, but at the same time it did not. His brain screamed at him to run, to bang against the walls, to scratch and scratch and fight for his freedom, but he was tired. Oh so tired.

"James." He murmured the name again, he wondered how many times he had said the other's name over the past little while.

He drew near the kitchen, the very place Deget had promised him rum. Oh how he would have loved to see the woman- he wanted to hug her, and leech the kindness out of her- but she was gone, and so he would drink his rum.

He sat at the table, after having found the alcohol in its spot- and he pressed the bottle to his lips.

James...

He'd just been- ATTACKED BY JAMES.

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Deget winced at the yell but didn't mind. All she cared about that was Tom would be okay. She smoothed the man's hair away from his eyes and offered him a smile- albeit a shaky, trembling smile. " 'Ey Tom?" she murmured. "You still awake there?" Deget didn't think she could make due to another person she cared about dying. It would hurt too much.

But she wouldn't bother with those cliche 'Stay with me' lines and what not. Because Tom was going to fucking live- this man was not dying on her watch.

She helped Drake out with a frown, glancing at him with eyebrows knitted together. "What happened with him and Monica? They got into a fight?"

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Drake grabbed the thread. He was good with a needle in thread. After sewing a tongue into one's own mouth, everything was easy. "Yeah, They were fighting. I think Tom killed Monica, then I came in, and he ran away screaming. So I chased after him." Drake looked up at Deget. He had so much fun lying through his teeth. "This is going to hurt, Mister Oliver." He said loudly, on the off chance that Tom was still conscious. "It'll be over in a few seconds though. just hold on." Drake gently rubbed antiseptic, a relatively new invention, at the edges of the wound, It would sting, but not as much as the needle would. Then he threaded needle then licked it before swiftly stitching up the wound. It wasn't orthodox, but it would have to do. Drake hummed lightly as he worked the needle, teasing it through the skin.

There. Drake nipped the thread with his teeth. "Now we need to wrap it up.' he said, sticking the bloody needle in the pocket of his pants. Drake chewed on his lip as he reached over Deget to grab the roll of bandage and a little metal clasp to keep the whole thing together.

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Deget's eyes connected with Drake's- searching and probing before she looked down sadly. "Oh." She didn't fully trust Drake but.. but the story did sound true, concerning the fact that Tom did have a knife in his hand. The woman handed and helped the man here and there with stitching up Tom but otherwise, she was just an observer. Or maybe kinda like a nurse.

"You've done this before?" The Jamaican asked quietly as she watched what the manor's owner did- shuddering at the licking part a little. "You seem good at it." She was good at bandaging and took over from there- making sure they were nice and tight but not too tight before securing it.

Things were unraveling. Already a woman dead..

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"Sure am." Drake said. On a sudden whim, to what end he did not know, he flicked his tongue out at her, displaying the messy stitches that held the muscle in place. Then he withdrew his tongue and grinned a shark grin at her. "It takes practice, but If you've got all the time in the world, you can learn to do anything. Except maybe...having a heart. That is something only humans can do." He didn't know why he was divulging so much information to the young woman, maybe to frighten her, or merely to see what she would do, but it amused him.

James skidded to a halt at the turn of the corridor, spotting Drake sitting in blood with two humans. Excitedly he bounded forward, colliding with Drake. Ignoring the humans, he tugged on Drake's arm, trying to make him follow.

"Oof!" Drake cried out, surprised, when James hit him. "Calm down James. Where have you been?" There was a tinge of annoyance in Drake's voice, but affection also. He recognized what state James was in. He'd always liked it when James was like that, it reminded him of a little puppy dog. But it wouldn't do right now, not with so many humans wandering about. He caught his butler by the side of his head, slamming it down into the stones.

"Calm down, Boy. Your going to kill someone if you keep that up. Why did you do that in the first place. You know what happens, and you wouldn't want to kill little Pet, now would you?" His words to James fell on deaf ears. James was out cold, a little pool of blood forming beneath his head. Drake ruffled the unconscious boy's hair. "You'll be back to normal when you wake up, eh? Or I really will have to put you out of service for a while." Drake smiled pleasantly.

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Deget blinked with sudden wide eyes and her suspicions were confirmed. Drake could not be human; She didn't know what he was but he sure as hell wasn't any human. The woman held her surprise in and shivered slightly. "But anything can learn to have a soul," was her reply- calm and quiet as she smoothed out Tom's hair once more. When James came around the corner, the woman looked up and smiled at him- eyes growing affectionate and soft. Seems like someone was a little excited.

It was kinda adorable.

Though she had to stifle a gasp as the boy was slammed so violently against the stones. The Jamaican rushed to his side, glaring at Drake with fire in her eyes before making sure James would be okay. The poor dear...

But she'd heard something about Geppetto. Making sure that James wouldn't die, she nodded her thanks at Drake before running off to see if the blonde male was alright.

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Geppetto had finished his bottle of rum and was onto his next, within a matter of moments. It was his own little pity party, and everyone was invited. The rum bottle, his most favorite guest arrived with his lover- the glass, they danced together with a friendly waltz, this one included a chello a beautiful stringed instrument. They waltzed right up next to eachother.

"Woops." The drunken Geppetto slurred as he dropped the glass.

"Loooooks like your date has been shat-terd" He groaned pressing a finger to his lips. Poor mister rum, he loved his date mrs. Glass dearly. And now she lay in shambles on the floor, so very dead.

Nonsense scrambled through his mind as he pressed his chin to the counter and pressed the bottle to his lips. Rum was good, great quality- a great drink no doubt about it...

No.

Doubt...

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"Geppetto." Deget walked up to the blonde and took the bottle of rum away- or began to, anyways. But she stopped before taking a bottle of rum herself and popping it, swinging the bottle to her lips and chugging it. It left her lips after a minute and she leaned back against the counter with a deep sigh. "Fuck it. I don't care anymore- Rum is good. Great. 'Acen't had a good drink of it in a damn good while," the Jamaican woman grumbled before sighing and sniffling. "Watcha doin' here by yaself 'Pet?"

Another swig- this time longer, more relaxed and loose.

She needed company and the little blonde was good company. She liked his company. And she missed the company- the distant memory- of rum. Where she would drink it to.. an almost excess amount of liquor.

An alcoholic, kinda. Okay, not kinda but a pure alcoholic. Just ask the bartenders. They knew her pretty damn well.

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"James, you stay here." Drake said to his unconscious butler, patting the boy's head again before standing, scooping Tom up into his arms again. "As for you, Your going to your room and getting some rest. i expect you up tomorrow." Talking to things that couldn't answer was a habit of Drake's. It came from being alone for all those years. Drake gingerly carried the human body up to her quarters and gently laid him on the bed, arranging his limbs so he'd be comfortable when he woke.

Now it was time to go into Monica's old quarters and prepare them for a new guest.
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James' body lay, his head in a puddle of blood, waiting for itself to recuperate. It would take a while, head wounds always did, especially when the skull was cracked. But it was one of the only ways to calm him down beside feeding him, which was out of the question at the moment. So the body lay on the stones, face down. Waiting.

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In their little haven, the two very much alike in their alcoholism. Geppetto gave a low laugh, fingers tightening around his second bottle. "Mmm. Jus' havn a cupple swigs." His face fell, and as happy as he was in an instant it was gone. "Oh. Deget." His face scrunched up and he dropped his bottle- it added to his little collection of broken glass.

"James was-" The bundle of blonde hyperactivity was upon Deget in an instand, wrapping his arms around her in a hug- he paid no respect to her personal boundaries, his emotions wet with drunkeness.

"And then he-" His mixed up words made no sense, none in the slightest, but he'd begun to sob already- "Scared." A single word to reflect all the emotion that everyone in the entire house was feeling. Scared. Scared. Scared.

He made no attempt to release her from his hug.

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'That man...that horrible man, he...he killed Monica!' Esther dried her tears with her handkerchief. Her tears were not shed for the tragic blonde beauty, however. It was foolish to pretend she liked the girl. It was obvious the two did not mesh well...but dead? She didn't deserve that fate. None of them did. But Tom had killed her. Tom Oliver. The creepy, hollow-looking man who said little and watched everybody from the corners of the room. Esther's blood pressure rose as his haunting face came to mind. Her heart raced in both fear and outrage. He was dangerous. Unstable. And now someone innocent was dead because of him. Someone was dead, and for what? So that he could rest peacefully in bed? No. He was a killer. And he would kill again...

It was but less than a half an hour ago that Esther heard the voices in the hallway. She cracked her door open slightly to eavesdrop on Drake and Deget. That's how she learned of Monica's death. She wasn't safe. No one was - especially with Tom still around...

Esther found herself alone in the hallway once more. It appeared that the other guests did not seem to care for her much, but that may prove to be a blessing in the grand scheme of things - and what a scheme it was. She looked down at the faded brass doorknob that led to Tom's room. She toyed with the idea of touching that knob. Of putting her hand on it and feel its coldness in her palm. Perhaps she would turn it. Turn it and then push on the door ever so slightly. Just a little push and - crrreeeaaakkk!

The girl stepped into the room and shut the door behind her without a sound. The room was furnished much like her own. On the bed in the corner lay Tom, his arm crudely stitched. It looked putrid and disgusting, which made her hate him even more. Her heart was pounding so hard now it echoed in her skull and gave her a headache. Despite the fear, she cautiously approached the bed. Further and further she walked until she was practically hovering over the man. Was he unconscious? Was he even asleep?

And there Esther stood. Looking down at him. Silently watching him, the way he had watched the others...

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Tom wasn't completely aware of what was happening He knew there were people, and that those people were talking. How many were there? Two? Three? He wasn't sure; the voices were beginning to merge together. He caught words here and there, recognizing at least one voice to be a deep male. Gepetto? No, the drunkard wouldn't be doing this. Then who-

Crap.

Crapcrapcrapcrapcrap! It was Drake! James couldn't talk and Gepetto would not be too keen on helping people. That only left Drake, the man he had been running away from. The man that did... something (he wasn't quite sure what) to Monica. Monica. Where was the girl, anyway? Was she still dead? Stupid, of course she was. Then, where was her body? Had it been buried? He hoped so. It was too cruel to just leave her body in the kitchen for anyone to find.

Okay, back on track. Tom grunted and opened his eyes slightly. His mind was wandering and he was having difficulty focusing - his mind and his eyes - on anything. Deget. He was pretty sure she was nearby. Wait, there she was. Fretting about in the corner of his vision. Drake said something about hurting and he winced mentally. Was he going to suffer for killing Monica now? He had to get away. Couldn't take chances with this crazed man. He had to-

"AAARRRGGHHHNYMSPITZZSTAPHFourglk!" He writhed as the needle stitched the skin back together, wishing desperately he could have died with Monica. Or at least passed out. Good intentions or not, this was not a situation he wanted to be caught in ever again. Although, he did get lucky and pass out shortly after the stitching was finished, but not until he had suffered about as much as his body could handle.

Tom woke up some time later. His eyes were hazy and unfocused and he made no effort to focus them. He just stared at the ceiling and thought. Why had he woken up? Something had happened. Something... Intruder. Yeah, what the voice said. Someone was in the room with him. He could feel them staring at him, watching, waiting. It scared him, to be quite honest. It didn't help that he was still suffering from adrenaline from trying to run away from Drake, but it was quite creepy to stay in a room with some random stranger that was - as far as he was concerned - going to try to kill him.

And there wasn't a bloody thing he could do about it except stare at the ceiling and hope they would go away.

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Deget looked down at him in confusion before her face melted into a soft, loving expression. Like one would look upon their sibling. She wrapped her arms gingerly around Geppetto and placed a gentle kiss to the top of his head. "It's 'kay, love," she whispered quietly. "Just let it all out." The woman stayed like that for a while, rubbing the blonde's back and whispering for him to calm down but tears of her own had already began slipping by. It was hard to be strong when things were like this.

Always the one people relied on you had to be strong. You couldn't give in. But now the pain- the immense sadness- began weighing down on her and she gave a short sob as well before making it stop.

But the tears kept falling- very slowly- as she silently shared her own sadness with the other. Someone had died. Someone she had became friends with almost died and had killed. Things were falling apart at the seams and there she was, a little puppet in this unfortunate game. With her strings of control- that kept her alive- being snipped one by one.

Truthfully, Deget didn't know if she would last all much longer in all this. She just didn't want any more deaths. She didn't want to see people she cared for be so sad and scared.

She didn't want to have the share their emotions because she was scared, too. And now she needed a shoulder to cry on.

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He felt sorry for Deget. Suddenly he could feel the other shaking- and he realized that she had begun to sob as well. What a pair the two of them were, the two drunks in their states of desperation. Geppetto stopped his drunken fit of sorrow and held the young woman in a strong hug- he was a thin little man, but he was still able to offer her a warm hug, a warm drunk hug. "I thinks that- uhm y'uu be closestss.. Tiing I gots to a sister."

He set a hand on the back of her head comfortingly. "I hope yu gets out-" He paused to steady himself- he'd begun to topple over. "Outta here."

He pulled away and gave a goofy little grin past a red puffy face, his poor little lip was still large and red. He pressed his thumb under her eye and wiped a tear away.

"Cheers mate." He murmured lifting up his bottle before he pressed it to his lips and chugged.

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At those words, Deget could've burst into a fit of wails. Her heart clenched in sadness but yet Geppetto's words.. However drunken they were.. She got cheered up. She wanted to hug and hold and have drinks and days off with the Frenchman like a normal day. To talk to him like a brother, to giggle and joke with him like a brother because she felt that they were siblings. "And yer the closest thing that I have to a livin' brotha'," she responded quietly, not at all drunk but getting a little tipsy.

Her smile tipped higher and she kissed Geppetto's forehead in thanks before getting her own bottle. "Cheeurs." She clinked it together with the others and took a chug, sighing deeply and putting it on the counter with a hard 'THUMP' before looking over to the Frenchman.

"I'm.." Her throat clenched when she thought these may be words she could not fulfill. "I'ma try and get ya out of 'ere, tu." And when she thought about it, something popped up in her brain.

"Hey Pet.." She got another bottle of rum. The Jamaican woman popped the cork and drank it before putting it back on the counter. "If.. If I don't make et outta here, I wanna tell ya this.." Her gaze went to the male and she sniffled. "And this is something I've never told anyone, ya hear?"

And slowly, she began to explain why she was here. Because of Zeke. Because she needed to know if he was alright and now that she knew- knew what Drake was, knew what he'd done... She intended on telling the police. To get Drake in a cell or something. That's why Geppetto meant so much to her. Because he reminded her of Zeke- in his own French, drunk little way.

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It was hard for him to comprehend, but Geppetto understood most of what she was saying. The young blonde had set a hand on her shoulder, eyes heavy with sadness when she explained the loss. "He--- sounded likeah gud man." Really, he meant it, to have a brother like that, he seemed like a great man.

"Ma mère était une prostituée" He paused and blinked as if he didn't realize he was speaking another language. "Eh. I mean. My mum was a prostitute.. Whore.." he spat the word whore and then took another drink. "Fer all I know I have tonza other siblins out there. I will die here, with nobody to miss me." He said that last bit surprisingly clear. "Except you.. And..."

James. Sweet James. James. My little yellow bird... James.

"And- mon amour..." His love. He left it at that, she could take it however she pleased.

"I would gladly die for either of you."

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Deget nodded and sipped her bottle of rum. The foreign words made some sense for she'd associated herself with learning a few different languages; French had been the 4th on her list to learn and she'd read some books on it. But it was good to have a translation as well. However bitter the words and that statement was.

The woman frowned and listened, nursing her bottle gingerly. About to protest at the last statement with a flourish. At least the blonde took the chance to correct himself.

She was quiet for a moment before saying in a slow manner, "Je vous remercie, Geppetto frère." It'd taken her a while to remember the grammar and words and even if she'd stumbled a little, it was the thought that counts. "I would do the same.. for you."

And on a second note. "Besides, I already know yer lil' love, 'Pet. You guys are cute together." Deget gave him a lopsided grin and drank deeply once more.

It was cute, how Geppetto and James were all in love. Deget was in love with the idea of being in love- but witnessing the emotion happen was good, too.

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Geppetto looked like he could have died and gone to heaven when she murmured the words in French. His sister! And she even spoke his mother tongue! He happily googled her with his googlie eyes wet with drunken-ness. When she claimed to know who his love was... However he choked-

It took him a few moments to collect himself, rum sure had it's way of burning his throat on the way down. His face drew into that of a tomato, it was so red that literally it was a wonder that his skin could generate enough pigments to show a color such as that. "I..." He let out a quiet giggle, like they were two girls discussing crushes. "He's." He set a hand over his face. "Les choses que j'aimerais beaucoup à faire pour que l'homme ..." (( The things I would love to do to that man )). Woah baby. Geppetto sure had a sensual side when he was drunk.

"But." He paused looking to his drink. He remembered why he was drinking in the first place.

"He..." He couldn't even find the words.

"Things are complicated."

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Deget examined him with an amused grin, bursting out into hearty laughter when she heard the words. Geppetto's expression in general was adorable but those words made her want to bust into a fit of giggles. The two of them- giggling school girls. She sipped her rum and looked at the male before giving a shrug. " 'Ell, life is complicated. Ya naw gun hope fer love ta be different. If things ain't complicated then ya can't fall in lu' even more," she said with her Jamaican accent showing itself with a flourish.

She sighed deeply and tipped the bottle back, only a drop going on her tongue.

The woman stared around the room before proclaiming- demanding, "WHAERE'S DA RUM GONE?!!"

And proceeded to slip and fall on a bottle that was by her feet. She burst into a fit of giggles and stayed like that, avoiding the glass as she sipped the bottle of rum- looking up at the blonde with a smile.

"Things 're gun get better. Be 'appeh ju found love, mon. Dere are a plenteh a people 'o want love auhn can't 'ave et! Can't get it.." There she goes, depressing herself.

Again. She chugged her bottle of rum with a sigh, looking at Geppetto when she finished her long drink. "Sorry. Went off on a rant.."

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Esther studied every detail of Tom's being as he lay before her. His pained, exhausted expression, his sweat-soaked forehead, thin black strands of hair clinging to his face. His arm crudely cared for with dried blood caked around the stitches. His breath was shallow. He looked pathetic.

This man...this horrid man was a killer. Insane. He'd ruined everything when he robbed Monica of her life. They were all supposed to ban together - to stand against Drake and refuse to comply with his sick fetishes. And now this. But something troubled her. This man was responsible for the death of an innocent. He didn't deserve mercy of any kind. In fact, she should just kill him now before he recovers and kills again. It would be divine retribution. She would be a hero. Perhaps, God would save her soul in the end...But none of that mattered now because this man, this shell of a man...was simply that; a shell. He was weak, vulnerable. Esther couldn't kill him. Lying there in that bed, he was almost silently pleading for pity. Esther's face contorted into a pained grimace as tears began to well up on her delicate lashes and drip down her cheecks. She couldn't kill him because she was better than him.

And then the man stirred - if only for a moment. 'Does he know I'm here? Did he see me?' The young beauty was startled back to reality. As quietly as she could, Esther backed away from Tom's bedside and exited the room. She shut the door behind her and leaned up against it, sighing dramatically. As the sun rose overhead, it grimly reminded her that the day was only half over. And even that didn't matter. There was no end to this. She wasn't safe at any time or in any place. No one was...

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Finishing with Monica's old room, Drake straightened his shirt before stepping back out into the hall. He really needed to change his bloody clothes, but there were more pressing matters at hand. Food for the humans, was the most urgent. Drake wasn't sure exactly how many times a day they needed to eat, but he wasn't going to take any chances. Maybe he'd get all the humans together for a meal, except, perhaps, Tom. That way he could make sure they were eating. Starvation was not an option here.

Oh look! So lost in thought, Drake had walked right by Esther, who was leaning against Tom's door. She looked sad. had she killed Tom? Drake wondered as he turned around to greet the young lady. No, it didn't seem so. The scent of his soul was still as faint as ever.

"Esther! You look rather worried, miss. How about you come down to the dining hall for a meal?" He caught her arm and began dragging the girl along, still talking excitedly, "I'm going to collect the others as well, except for poor Tim. He didn't seem to be doing that well after I stitched him up. But Deget, and Gepetto should be in attendance, don't you think? And of course, James, if he's awake. yes yes, It will be grand." The rumpled looking man gesticulated wildly. Okay, maybe he had gotten a tad starved for company over the years. He hadn't had a truly formal dinner in ages. This would be so much fun!

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"Mmmmm. Don't let it getchatoya. Oui. Don't let it get to you." He didn't realize he was repeating himself. "You're wunna the most beautiful ladies I have ever seen." He smiled. And James was one of the most beautiful men he'd ever seen- sweet gracious. "Don't let anyone ever tell you different."

He leaned in over the table eyes dull as he attempted to drink again- the first time he missed his lips and the liquid fell onto the ground with a 'splash' the second time he made it, but found that his bottle was now empty. Darn it.

He reached for his fourth- popped it open and grinned. "Seems tuh me that..." He trailed off, eyes dimmed. "Uhm." He forgot what he was going to say... And it was a really good point to be made! "Seems tuh me that there isn't a lot of rum left."

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Deget's smile was lopsided and slightly wavering but it was a smile. She didn't think she could get out the word 'thank you' without stumbling and laughing. She finished her bottle in a few more minutes- 4 probably- and frowned at the male's realization.

It was true.

"Oh darn," she murmured loosely and sighed- then groaned. "Wanna go two da next ketchen fer moa rum?"


((OOC: AT SKOOL HUR. Lame reply is blamed on school. :P ))

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Drake continued to talk excitedly as he moved down the hall, pausing momentarily when they passed where James was still lying, unconscious, to sling the boy over his shoulder. James flopped limply, the back of his head still bleeding a bit, it would still be quite a while until he recovered enough to regain consciousness.

"Now, I've got James, and Esther, I wonder where the other two happened off to." He said, half to himself. Ah, no matter. He'd find them after he'd gotten the pot of soup back up to an edible warmth. Setting off down the hall again, still talking aimlessly for no other reason than that it amused him, Drake more or less than dragged the young woman along. Swiftly he made his way to the dining hall, depositing James's limp body and the young lady there.

"Keep an eye on James, will you? I'll be back in a moment with food." he said over his shoulder.

Now it was time to put the food back into the fire so it would heat. And find the other two. Drake entered the kitchen, stepping over Monica's body, he really needed to clean that up, as he did so. He grabbed the pot that was still sitting out from breakfast, added a bit more water and some more meat, then put it back on the fire along with some more wood. Stoves were for the less talented and easily burned. Fires were the way to do things right in Drake's opinion. He hummed lightly as he worked, wondering where the humans had gone off to and gingerly avoiding the dead body on the floor.

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Drake was upon her before she could manage a protest. She winced and attempted to draw back from him but the man had her by the arm and was now dragging her down the hallway. Her heart and stomach lurched inside of her as she began to feel sick from fear.

'Oh my God...what's going to happen to me!? Is he going to k-' Drake continued to drag the girl toward the dining hall, bantering quickly. 'Wait...a meal? He wants to have a...a...?'

It sounded absolutely insane, but it sounded to Esther like the man wanted to organize a sort of luncheon with the other guests. The way he went on was not unlike an excited child. A sadistic, terribly frightening child, but the genuine enthusiasm was evident.

Drake scooped up the young butler on the way to the dining room and slung him over his shoulder. Esther stared into the boy's pale face and gasped softly at the sight of the dried blood about his head.

Soon they were left in the dining room as Drake turned to apparently fetch the others.

"Keep an eye on James, will you? I'll be back in a moment with food." Again, Esther did not get the chance to protest. As the sound of the man's footsteps faded away, she turned her head toward the unconscious James. She let out an inaudible sigh and soaked in the unnerving silence of the dining hall...

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She could not wait any longer. Her mind wandered and wobbled, as did her body as she stumbled out of the kitchen. "I'ma get da rum," she called back to Geppetto with a wave and goofy smile.

Deget wandered about as the map that she'd constructed in her mind fell apart in bits. No longer did she know where she was or where she was going, but rather more so if she could have a Seventh Sense to sniff out rum. Her steps were not very wobbly but still were. A few stumbles and near-trips happened, of course, but she was fine. Man oh man.

Wasn't that a huge lie.

There was some kind of pain in her that hurt. It made her want to cry or or to punch something or just to scream. She missed her brother. She wanted her Mommy. A hug was needed, it was in order. But yet, thankfully, rum called to her. The Jamaican woman cheered as she came across the kitchen, investigating to find it full of rum and even a bottle or two of vodka. And wine.

" 'Ello rum."

Hugs were in order.

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Drake was in the process of staring hard at the pot of soup, waiting for it to start boiling, when he heard sounds of life in the next room. Where the wine and other such liquids were stored. Aha. One of the others. Abandoning his pot of soup, Drake poked his head into the other room. Oh hello, It was Deget, Her back to him, something in her arms. She seemed to be raiding the drink closet. Silly human.

Careful to make enough noise so as not to frighten the young woman, Drake strolled over to her. Yes, she had a bottle of rum wrapped up in her arms.

"My, what a romantic embrace. You hadn't told me you had a lover, Miss Deget." Drake said softly, leaning over her shoulder with a grin on his face. She smelled heavily of the stuff. "I imagine you've already emptied the other room's stocks, haven't you, silly girl." He said with a quiet chuckle. "You should get soemthing else in that belly of yours or you will be hurting later." he warned genially as he turned to go back into the main part of the kitchen and continue his watch over the pot.

That left Gepetto to find. Unless James had already managed to kill the young man before Drake had taken care of him. The thought made Drake frown. It was possible, why hadn't he thought of that earlier? Also, would Deget follow him into the other room or merely continue in her embrace?

"Oh, Dammit all." Drake cursed as he peered into the pot. It had begun to boil in his absence. Time to take it out of the fire.

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Deget slowly looked over to Drake, mouth open slightly and a shocked expression. The bottle was cradled in her arms and were nestled against her chest- like it truly was a lover. It was the only thing that wouldn't leave her. That's why she loved it so much; You could never trust a man but yet, the alcohol was always there for you.

The woman looked at the male and followed him into the next room. Setting the rum down on the counter, she pulled Drake into a hug from behind. "'Orry," she murmured. "A lil' 'ammered at de moment and I tend to turn cuddly durin' such things."

Soon she pulled away and got the rum. Cork popped, bottle to lips. And chug. The burning liquid left a pleasant warmth down her throat and made Deget sigh pleasantly.

Her feet weren't working like she would like them to. Break time.

Plopping onto a chair, she sighed deeply and looked at Drake through lidded eyes and her eyelashes. "You cook guud, by de way."

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Drake froze, surprised, when the arms wrapped around him from behind. He hadn't been prepared for that. When was the last time he'd been touched affectionately by anyone that didn't have an obligation to him. Basicaly, only James touched him willingly, and that was mostly when Drake was drunk. He continued to stand, a shocked statue, for a few seconds after he was released. And for once, he had no witty thing to say.

Quietly, Drake took the pot from the fire, shooting an occasionaly glance at Deget, who sat herself down on a wooden chair. She was jsut drunk. She must be a very affectionate drunk. "Oh, thank you." He said, well, mumbled. His excited air had deflated, now he was more surprised and reserved. Keeping his head down, Drake carefully began spooning soup into bolws, clamping the pot between his torso and his arm. It was hot, but the albino soul eater didn't care. He never cared. Really, he didn't.

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Deget cocked her head to the side and frowned. "Ya okay?" Her accent made things looser and make her sound much.. 'drunker' then she truly was. "Seem a liiiill' sad." Standing up once more, she tested out walking a bit before going back to Drake and sidling to be in front of him. A bit of a tight squeeze, sure, but nevertheless, she was always good with being close to people.

Tilting his chin down, the woman rose an eyebrow. "Ya don't look okey." Another quick observation. "An' don't try ta lie ta me, hun. You can't lie to me. I may be a little tipsy bu' I ain't that tipseh," she said with a deadpan look.

Poor Drake. She wondered if the male was sad or needed a drink.

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James stirred slightly in his spot, waking with a quiet groan. Then he fell off his chair. Oh God was his head sore. He sat up, blinking and rubbing the tender back of his head. Where was he? He only had vague memories of what had happened after Gepetto sang that song. He remembered seeing the young man on the ground, seeing Drake and Deget sitting over someone else in a pool of blood, and getting his head cracked on the stones. That was about it. The butler's fingers felt their way over the hairline cracks that were still on his skull. The back of his head was covered in blood, matting his hair and slicking it against the nape of his neck.

What exactly had happened? James looked around as he got to his feet, his knees trembling with the strain of keeping him upright. Oh! There was Esther. James jumped slightly when he spotted her, backing away tentatively with a slight bow. How had he ended up in the dining hall with Esther?
--

Drake sighed heavily when Deget asked him if he was alright. Yes he was alright. he was a damn souleater, he had everything a devil-on-earth could want. He was fine. Just dandy. Drake continued pouring soup into the bowls until suddenly the young woman was right in front of him. She'd slid into the tight space between him and the counter. Drake froze again, staring down at the drunken Jamaican. Dear God she looked like her brother.

"Nothing that you need to worry your little head over." Drake finally managed to say after a long search for words. He shifted the pot in his arms, careful not to burn the young woman. Why was he being so careful about that? She was here to die, it didn't matter. But nonetheless, Drake almost felt as if he was near some innocent creature, a doe maybe, that would run off if he made too sudden a move.

Drake reached out and awkwardly patted her cheek before taking a slow single step backwards. "Nothing for you to worry about." he said again, turning around so he was facing the fire. It was starting to die out. He should put some more wood on it. But he didn't really feel like doing it. He was too busy standing in semi shocked silence. Much too busy.

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Deget huffed and made a 'tsk'ing sound a few times. "Now don't go on with that," she said sternly though she was softening a little. Drake may have been a little bit of a psychopath and was definitely more than a little twisted, but if there was one thing she couldn't do was watch someone worry and fret. That was her job- not anyone else's.

The woman sighed and looked over to Drake, getting a few logs and throwing them in the fire carefully. "Well, mig' as well." She huffed and began riflinf through the cupboards and drawers. There was a smile on her face now- a loopy one. "I can cook, ya know. Nothin' all too fanceh but I dare say I could whip up somethin' quickly."

She went and searched around- finding some fish cooling in a small box full of ice as well as some vegetables and fruits. A glimmering, sharp knife was pulled out from the drawer and she began cutting and dicing food with a hum.

A hum Zeke taught her. It was a bit of an ear-worm but a pleasant one.

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The humming jerked Drake from his thoughts. God, she had a knife now. If there was one thing he knew about humans it was that they were breakable. And if said human was drunk and had a rather sharp knife, that was most definitely not good. Even if her intentions were good. Drake knew quite a bit about being under the influence of rum, wine, all the lot, and knew that even the very best intentions could lead to some very nasty things. Although, it also depended on one's point of view. Drake's intentions were usually selfish. But they were good for him. So they weren't all bad, right? And he did some good things too. He'd taken care of James. Well, it was his fault James needed taking care of, so that didn't really count, but still.

Ah, no time to justify past actions now. Now was the time to prevent an accident. Drake had to admit that the young woman was rather infectious. Her spirit, that is. Buoyant. He rather liked her. But then again, he'd liked Zeke too. It didn't stop the hunger, and that was Drakes number one priority.

For the sake of the game, Drake told himself. It was all for the sake of the game. He reached out and caught the arm that was holding the knife. "If you don't mind, Miss Deget, I'd prefer that you let me do the cutting. You can tell me what to do instead eh? I'm not much of a cook." he said, his voice trying for his usual witty spirit and missing its mark.

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Brown eyes connected to red ones rather bluntly. Deget looked at Drake for a good three minutes before finally sighing. "Okay then. Just try no' ta cut yer finger off, yea?" she said with a chuckle before giving up her place at the counter with the vegetables. It was Drake's turn to dice. She removed her vest and put it on the chair, leaning back against the counter to watch the male.

"So first o' all, make sure the pieces are very small. Tiny. Slicing and then dicing would be a good thing to do ta ac'omplish this, if 'a du say so mahself." Deget smiled and let out a tiny yawn as she cut herself a knife- this one not very sharp but good for removing the scales from the fish. "You don't want to descale it do you?"

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Rocking the knife up and down to cut the vegetables, Drake eyed Deget with one eyebrow raised. "It depends. How sharp is that knife?" Descaling, skinning, plucking, Drake had done them all a million times. "It also depends on how much you'd like to do it." Drake's spirits were starting to come back now that those feelings had gone away. The rocking of the knife was rather soothing, the feeling of vegetables under the knife, the smooth crunch. The sound spoke of millions of days in a kitchen, mostly with James, making human food. James had always been better than him at it. Ironic, because the boy'd never be able to taste it, but he did have a knack for culinary artistry.

Drake waved the knife as he spoke again. "Because if it is absolutely necessary for you to do it, then you may, but I'd rather that I do it. You are my guest after all." A small smile. Not very enthusiastic of a smile, but it was there. Maybe it was a bit of a smirk. Then back to chopping up vegetables.

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Deget eyed Drake right back. "Not very sharp," she responded as she examined and inspected the fish. It seemed good- not rotting and not too fresh. Good for cooking and maybe even a little broiling. She was actually used to doing the cooking and was, least to say, impressed when a man could match her skill. That's why she admired Zeke so much. He was like a woman with the way he cooked. Her smile faltered at the thought but picked back up and sighed lightly. "Hmm.."

Fine then.

The Jamaican woman walked over to Drake and put the fish and scaling knife down. "I suppose you can do it if you want. Sorry, if I'm taking over stuff." She gave him a grin. " 'Usually I'm da one doin' all the cooking."

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"I know what you mean." Drake said with a nod, picking up the knife and spinning it on his finger a couple times to get a feel for it. "I end up cooking quite a bit. James is usually around to lend a hand though. He knows what he is doing." Slowly, Drake began the delicate process of removing scales from the cold fish. If one went to fast, then they would mess up and possibly miss some scales or loose some of the flesh. But if one went to slow, not only would it be time consuming, there was a high possiblility that one wouldn't get up the momentum to pull the scales off efficiently. Drake considered himself an expert on scaling and gutting fish, if he didn't say so himself.

"You don't have to apologize, anyway. I'd just feel awkward if I were standing here watching you cook. Thats mostly what I do with James. Time for me to be useful, eh?"

Drake found himself grinning. Ah, lighter spirits. Looks like Deget could manage to drop him down eight or nine rungs then help him climb all the way back up. My, what a confusing young lady.

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Deget laughed happily and in a very relaxed moment. She didn't say anything for a few good minutes, just observing Drake and pursing her lips slightly. Then, slowly, she cocked her head to the side and her face softened a little. Something in her expression changed and seemed to soften along with her feeling towards the man in front of her.

"You've changed a little," the woman said. "Ya seem more relaxed, when I think 'bout it." A shrug of the shoulders and then a chuckle. "It's wearin' off." And she was glad it was wearing off, too.

An urge to drink more so she could contain her feelings, the ones she hated, came over her. But it passed after a moment. With some difficulty, the woman pushed the urges away.

With difficulty, mind you.

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"Oh, you know me. I change faster than light into dark. It comes from only having James for company" Drake said, shooting a glance at Deget. "But is seems I've passed it on to you. You seem conflicted now, Miss Deget. Are you allright?" He walked past her, talking the long routeto avoid the dead body, to dump the fish scales into the waste box. He could use whatever grease he'd gotten for something or another. James knew what to do with it.

The ruffled man turned around, grabbing a grease rag to wipe his hands off on. Although, it wasn't really necessary. adding fish oil stains to his already bloody shirt wouldn't have hurt it any. Drake tuged on the hem of his shirt, straightening it.

As he made his short trek back to where Deget was standing, he looked at the young woman inquisitively. "What's on your mind now?" he asked as he grabbed the fish, cleanly beheading it. Time to de-gut it. What fun.

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Deget shook her head and smiled wryly. "Trying to keep myself from snatching up another bottle o' rum," she answered quietly. Beginning to feel the urge coming on again, she clucked her tongue and looked at Drake almost desperately. "Talk." The woman seemed to be panicking just a little. "Please, just... talk. Please."

She seemed to reel back and listen to herself.

"I mean, to distract me a little bit. My thoughts just.." A long, deep sigh. "They're going on a bad route." Her facade broke down again and her stress, sadness, and depression showed. Her head hurt, her back ached, she was sad and wanted things she would never get. Her spirit was breaking on the inside but somehow she always repaired it. But yet, the more it got patched up, the harder it seemed to make herself feel better.

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Esther watched as the young butler regained consciousness before her. Once he'd gotten his bearings he'd jumped back and bowed. Even after what had happened the boy was still dutiful. Still calm. His aura made her uneasy. She didn't trust James any more than she trusted Drake or Tom. Still, even though his silence was unnerving and his gaze made her shudder, Esther was somehow glad to be in his company. Truly, it was better than being completely alone.

She watched him with eyes like a confined animal. She felt so small, so vulnerable. She wanted nothing more than to escape this terror. And here was James. Living here with Drake for God knows how long. Why? Why did he stay? It wasn't long before Esther voiced her thoughts...

"Why do you stay here?" She hurriedly whispered to him, as if Drake would reenter any moment. "You know this place well. Why can't you just leave? We could all end this right now. We could leave...right now." She'd hoped to sound confident and persuasive, but it came out as little more than a plea. Here she was practically begging for the help of a taciturn mute, knowing deep down that it was all for naught. Still, her will to live remained bright inside of her. As long as she was alive. As long as she had her soul - she wouldn't give up her will to escape.

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Drake gave Deget an odd look for a second before turning back to the fish. "Well, okay. Talking is my forte." He paused for a moment, removing the fish's bones with swift efficient movements. "Maybe I'll tell you the story about James and old Missus Weston. She managed to get him into a dress you know." Drake grinned. Now that was a good story.

He commenced to tell her about how he'd loaned James to the elderly lady for a day in exchange for some of her servants to help him fix the roof. The woman had been complaining about how lonely she was, and how much she'd like the company of a young person for a while. So of course Drake offered up James. She'd mistaken the poor boy for a young lady, and James had no way to protest or explain. A week later She'd brought him back and had told Drake off for making the poor young 'lady' dress up in a suit. James had been decked in a blue and yellow summer dress and nearly covered with bows. He hadn't looked very pleased. The green-eyed butler had sulked in his room for a couple days after that.

As he spoke, Drake finished with the fish and held it up. "Okay then, what now?" he asked with a little grin.

_ _

James watched the young lady frantically asking him for help to escape with large sad eyes. Silly girl, why don't you understand? If I could escape, don't you think I would have left long ago? With a little ironic smile bending lips, James leaned forward slightly, as if he was about to impart an important secret. He lifted up an index finger and in a single fluid motion he drew it across his own throat.

To leave is to die. For me.

To stay is to die. For you.

With an apologetic look, James straightened. He had his own best interest at heart. It came from being a selfish child for the last couple thousands of years. And having to look after a selfish child as well. Starvation wasn't a very pretty way to die. Not very comfortable either.

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Deget listened with closed eyes and afterward, she was shaking. Shoulders and body bursting with shivers and convulsing in them. But they weren't bad but the very opposite. Soon, her laughter could be held in no longer and the sound boomed out. An infectious, bright, hearty sort of laughter that was not contained- that was never contained. Not even a little tinkling. Just a rambunctious laughter- a very loud one. Even when she tried to muffle it with hands over her mouth, it refused to be quieted.

She was Jamaican. She was used to laughing like this.

After a while, slowly her hoots of laughter died down and she was left doubled over and holding her stomach, still giggling and gasping for air.

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Drake shot Deget a worried look at first, wondering what was wrong with her. But he soon realized. Oh. She was laughing. Well, it was nice that he could make her laugh so. So loudly. But she hadn't answered his question. Oh well, that meant he got to do it his way.

"Are you alright, Miss Deget?" he asked as he reached up to grab a heavy iron skillet from the top shelf. He swept all the vegetables up into it, as well as the fish. Then it went into the fire. Well, not int other fire, but right over it. The flames licked the bottom of the skillet as well as his hands, but Drake didn't notice. He was too busy staring at Deget, who was bent over laughing. He'd never really been the cause of such a reaction before, and it was a bit off-putting. Especially because at first he'd thought the young woman was dying.

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She took in a large gasp of air and finally settled back into her smiling, bright-eyed self. "I'm marvelous," she said with yet another chuckle. Deget wiped the tears from her eyes and looked at everything with a shrug. "That's good. Oh God, thank you, Drake. I really needed that." The woman was practically beaming now.

Like Drake was some little angel who could do no wrong.

Going over to the white haired male, she looked at the food and then to him. Something from her mouth popped out and she murmured, "I bet Zeke would've said wonderful things about you." A last smile and hen she returned back to the wine closet.

She really did want more rum.

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Drake looked after Deget pensively. Such odd creatures, females were. He finished with the food and dished it out. Now back to the dining hall. Oh well, Gepetto would get food when he came looking for it. But Drake'd need to bring Deget with him. And He'd need James to go look in on Tom to see if he was alright or not. Goodness, taking care of guests was much harder than Drake had expected.

"Deget, if you want some food, come on. Esther and James are already in the dining hall. Leave your drink here." Drake said, poking his head into the wine closet for a moment before continuing down the hall. If she was hungry, she'd follow.

Then to the dining hall. Esther and James seemed to be getting on well. Or at least, no one had killed the other yet. Not that Drake expected them to attack each other, but one never knew.

"James, go check on Mister Tom, please. If you hurry, you might have something to eat." Drake said pleasantly, placing the food on the wide wooden table. The he looked up at Esther. "Help yourself." He said, settling down into a chair.

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Deget was still looking through the pantry. The older the rum the better it would taste, and the better it tasted the happier she would become. As she was doing so, Drake's words about food and the dinning hall reached her ears. Ah.. Stay or go? She might as well leave- all this drinking wasn't really good when she hadn't eaten very much.

"Okay, coming."

She put the bottles down and jogged out of the wine pantry, going out the kitchen and finding her way into the dining hall. She stretched and rolled out her shoulders before cracking her knuckles.

Man, was she stiff.

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It had been quite a while since the person had left. Tom had heard the door shut behind them (him, her? He wasn't sure and he desperately wanted to know) and had soon found himself surrounded by silence. Which meant he was left along with his thoughts. And that little voice. That annoying little voice. Well crap. Now he wished the person was back. Being strangled while helpless was betting than this! Wait, something was off. Where was the voice, anyway? Was it gone? Had it wandered off? Yes! He was free! He was-

The crap are you going on about? @$#&*!! Your constant thinking is driving me up the walls. Just shut up for once!

"Look who's talking!" Dripping sarcasm. Tom jumped at the sound of his voice. He hadn't meant to speak out loud, it just sort of happened. But, even worse, it didn't sound like his voice! It was all hoarse and cracked, and talking hurt. When had that- Oh, pfft. Of course. When he had gone running down the halls, screaming bloody murder after Drake... Drake...

No! Bad thoughts! Happy place. Happy place. Tom closed his eyes and took a deep breath, forcing himself to calm down. That's it, calm down. Freak.

"Says the disembodied voice." Again, he hadn't meant to say anything out loud. He just... did. But, it felt good to talk. The silence was almost crushing and being stuck in bed without any way of leaving was starting to get to him. Combined with killing a person (yes, he had killed her. It hadn't been an accident, he had intentionally killed someone) and seeing Drake to that thing with her body, it was really no surprise that his nerves were shot.

And Tom still couldn't wrap his brain around the fact that he had killed. That's right. He had taken a knife and intentionally killed a person. It was all supposed to have been an accident! Bring down the cutting board, end it quickly! That was all. But then she had turned around and-

Happy place! HAPPY PLACE!

Would you stop with the constant THINKING?! Deafening silence. Tom blinked, staring at the ceiling in shock. The voice hadn't gotten angry before. Frustrated, yes. Happy and excited, most definitely. But angry? That was new. Thank you! Now, get your lazy carcass out of bed and move! We have things to do.

"But my arm-"

Is perfectly fine, the voice interrupted. Now, if you please, time is wasting. Gepetto is still a walking threat and we've lost track of him, which makes him even more dangerous now.

Oh. Oh dear. That wasn't good. A drunk was dangerous but a drunk you didn't know the whereabouts of? Tom shuddered and tried to block the rush of unpleasant thoughts. Happy place. Happy place.

More like the sanatorium, for you.

"You're cruel." Tom pushed himself to a sitting position with a grunt and took several deep breaths so he wouldn't empty the contents of his stomach. Dizzy and nauseous, he used one hand to support himself and the other to clutch at his stomach. Oh, this so did not feel good.

Good boy. Now, let's see about actually getting out of bed.

Easier said than done. Hanging his head, Tom decided to stay where he was and wait for his body to calm down enough to actually let him move. Let the voice rant and rave, he was still the one in control of the body. He decided what he did and when!



So far.

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James walked swiftly up the stairs, pulling the last of the blood from his chocolate hair with chill fingers. The ache in his skull had died down, and was replaced by hunger. James couldn't help but feel that he'd missed something when he was with Gepetto. Not only that, his memory was slightly foggy. And where was his lovely little golden man? But now was not the time to worry about his sweet doll, he had orders to follow.

Up the stairs, to the left, a right. There it was. Was Tom still there? Or had he wandered off? James tapped lightly on the door with his finger pads before poking his head in. Yes, Tom was still there, and he was sitting up. Well, that was a good sign. James knew he was in no proper attire to enter, but he did anyway. He hoped that Tom wouldn't really mind that he wasn't wearing a jacket and he had no gloves on. It didn't really matter anyway.

Stand and look for a second. Evaluate the situation. Tom didn't look all that well. How did he get hurt anyway? James deicided that he had the potential to be dangerous. Best to approach with caution.

Standing for a moment with only his head poking into the door, James counted to five in his head. Then he slowly moved farther into the room. He stood in front of the door for a little while before cautiously approaching the man. He gave a questioning look. 'are you alright? do you need anything?' he seemed to say.

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Tom groaned, trying to block the voice in his head. Naturally, said voice was starting to get very impatient, urging him to move before they lost any more time. But Tom didn't feel like moving. He wanted to lie down and go to sleep, but the voice wasn't going to let him do that any time soon. That much was obvious. Well, to be quite honest, he really just wanted to throw up and get it over with, but that obviously wasn't going to happen within the near future, either. So he sat on the bed, trying his best to breath deeply and ignore the profanities now echoing in his head.

Until James entered. Poor James. Sweet James. Stupid, stupid James. James really should have known better than to enter Tom's room alone. He should have known better than to approach the disoriented man without making sure he was noticed first. And he certainly should have known better than to get within arm's reach of said man. But it was very good that James approached with caution or he would have suffered quite a blow to the head.

Poor Tom was too distracted with trying to get the very obnoxious voice to shut up by mentally screaming at it. His stomach had finally calmed down, but to anyone watching, it looked as though he were about to drop dead. He hadn't noticed the butler enter his room or approach slowly until he had finally given into the voice's demands and swung his legs over the side of the bed. His eyes feel on the stranger and he froze, tensing until he couldn't move. For what felt like eternity (though it was little more than a few seconds, a minute at most), they stared at each other, each trying to get the other to do something first.

All that was needed was a little push, and the voice was happy to oblige. Drake is a monster, James works for Drake, and Drake is always trying to get you to drag James around. Therefore, James must work with Drake and is just a much a threat. Kill him before he can kill you!

No hesitation. Tom leaped forward with a quick, "Okay!" and lunged at the butler with the intent of trapping the smaller man beneath him. It didn't help that his right arm was still practically unusable and hurt with every attempt to move it, and he was still suffering from the side effects of blood loss and excessive adrenaline, which left him at a serious disadvantage. Didn't stop him from doing his best to carry out his mission, either.

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A thrill of fear shot through James's veins as Tom stood there staring at him. He just stared back. Tom looked in a bad way. A really bad way. He hadn't noticed James come in, and had become started he he had noticed the young man. That wasn't good. Especially when he agreed with something that did not exist as he pounced on James. A yelp pulled itself from the young mans throat. Well, that was a surprise. The butler crumpled under the weight. Don't struggle. Remain calm.

The stone floor was hard against James's back, he wanted to move so bad, but he resisted the urge. He remained still, frozen, wondering what Tom's intent was. Was the man going to try to kill him? Well damn, if that wasn't the second time in the last couple hours. James didn't exactly want to be rendered unconcious again. Especially because being killed hurt. Pain was not high on the ranking of things James enjoyed. But he couldn't hurt Tom, that would make Drake angry. Drake had told him to check on Tom, not murder him. And since Drake wasn't there at the moment, the soul would be wasted. Waste not want not.

Speaking of soul, the proximity to Tom's soul was making James even more hungry than he had been. His lips parted and he swallowed, trying not to breath. While still trying to seem human. Which wasn't the easiest task in the world on a good day. Especally not with an angry, pain crazed man on top of him.

James's eyes flashed as he searched for a viable escape that wouldn't hurt the human. There wasn't one. Tom weighed too much for James to simply push the man off him. He'd have to incarcerate him first. Dang. No escape. looks like he'd just have to bear whatever came his way. As usual.

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She was alone. Completely alone in this manor, this huge, empty dining room. Alone with no one to rely on....Alone with Drake.

Like a frightened lamb, she submissively sat at the table, a decent-sized spread of food was set before her. Esther felt sick. She knew, on some instinctive, subliminal level, that she was hungry. The girl couldn't remember the last time she'd actually eaten something. But still, she could not bring herself to partake of the meal. Fork in hand, she apprehensively picked at the food, nervously pushing it about the plate. She kept her eyes down to the table. Occassionally, she would steal a glance up at Drake, who was seated at the table as well. Just before their eyes made contact, hers would dart back down to the food in front of her.

Esther's heart was pounding. She smell of the dish was beginning to make her dizzy and lightheaded. Still, she said nothing, instead hoping that she would make it through this experience in one piece. She hoped that Drake wouldn't speak to her. She wished that someone else would enter the dining room. She prayed that this moment would end...

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Drake smirked as he watched Esther pick at her food. She looked uneasy. He opened his mouth to make some sort of comment, but the Deget walked in. "Deget!" Drake said, smiling at the young lady. "So glad that you could make it. help yourself. You've already met Esther, I presume." His smile turned sardonic, and he reached out and captured a cube of carrot from one of the dishes delicately with his spidery fingers. "Thank you for helping with the cooking by the way." he said shooting a glance at Esther as he did so. As if to say, 'See, it isn't poisoned.' the he stuck the carrot in his mouth. To him it tasted unpleasant, the crunchiness not favorable to his tastes. but then again, not many human foods were similar to souls.

Then he turned his red eyes back to Deget. "I hope you haven't brought your lover with you, because I don't have enough to share with Miss Esther. I think it might make her uncomfortable anyway. She doesn't seem the type to dabble in such things, no?" He said, referring to her rum bottle, the one she had cradled in her arms not too long ago. But Esther would have no clue whatsoever of what he was speaking of. Playing with minds was so much fun. And Speaking of minds, how was James fairing with Tom. Maybe it wasn't the best idea, sending the boy up there alone, but he was immortal, so it didn't really matter, did it? Oh, sure he might hurt for a while, but it would pass.

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By this point, Tom wasn't entirely sure what he was doing. Both hands pinned James' arms to the floor while his body prevented the smaller man from moving. Ha. He had won. It had been so easy! Too easy, actually. Much too easy. This must have been a trap! Of course! No, wait. That made no sense. Why would a butler prepare a trap? And why come alone. That was something he, Tom, would do, not Drake or James.

So, something else? Tom cocked his head and stiffened, waiting for something to happen. Nothing did. James didn't even try to escape. He just lay there, pinned and completely helpless. Well, that made no sense at all. Poor Tom was at a sudden loss as to what he should do. He made no attempt to hide it, either. There was no one else around and he still felt woozy, which meant every emotion was scrawled across his face.

Kill it! Kill it! the voice urged. Easier said than done. Tom almost cried in frustration at the voice's sudden stupidity.

For one thing, he had only one good arm. James could have easily freed his left arm if he had tried, seeing as it was Tom's right arm that held it down. Heeling hadn't finished yet and it would take time for the extensive damage to be fixed, allowing for full use of the appendage. In short, strangling was out of the question. Rather difficult to chock a person to death if you only had one hand.

The second problem was similar to the first. He had several knives tucked safely in his coat, but grabbing at them would involve using his bad arm so his good one could hold the butler. Tom flexed the fingers of his right hand slightly and winced. It still hurt and his fingers wouldn't respond properly. Most likely, if he tried to grab or actually hold anything, the object would fall out of his grasp easily. Still, it was better than nothing and was the only other option he could think of.

Tom settled for stabbing. Releasing his grip with his right hand, Tom fumbled around the inside of his jacket until he found the pocket with his knives (or rather, the ones he stole from the kitchen). He tugged and pulled, keeping one eye on James, but only succeeded on ripping the pocket and spilling the contents on the floor. That sucked. Okay, so the knives were no longer an option. What to do, what to do.

Oh, wait. Of course. Why hadn't he thought of that before?

Tom's smile grew malicious as he giggled excitedly. Such a simple idea, he should have tried it before grabbing at the knives and tearing his pocket. He'd have to get Deget to fix that later. And he'd have to find a new pocket for his knives. Maybe on the right hand side this time...

But now was not the time for that. His right hand grabbed carelessly at Jame's mouth and thin fingers applied light pressure to the boy's jaw. "Come on, Jamesie," he sang, "open wide!"

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James's head was tilted upwards at an odd angle. He stared wide eyed at Tom, who seemed to be contemplating his next move. The young butler resisted the urge to sigh in exasperation. Never attempt to catch an enemy before you know what you shall do next with him. he could have easily surged upwards and thrown the man off balance, especially since one of the dark haired human's arms was virtually useless.

How long was this going to take? James looked past Tom and stared up at the ceiling, slightly bored. Tom's facial expression changed to one of confusion to one of determination. Ah, took you long enough. James thought. The man flexed his fingers, then reached into his jacket. James closed his eyes, bracing himself for the pain that would follow stabbing, but after a tentative second of nothing, opened them again. Tom was fumbling in side his jacket, and managed to spill his weapons on the ground.

The butler snorted quietly at that. Way to go. The fearful anticipation of pain was waning. This man was no good at this, not like Drake was. Drake knew how to make someone hurt. All Tom was doing was making a fool of himself. But then, a maniac giggle. That did instill a bit of fear in James. Tom had gotten an idea. It was a familiar giggle, a sound akin to one Drake would make.

Fingers grabbed his jaw, commanding lightly for him to open his mouth. The voice. Oh god, no.

James was no longer in the manor, but in a memory, hundreds of years ago. First a fire. Escape from the falling building, and his sister's wails behind him. he'd tried to save her. There had been a man, pale as anything. James called out, pleading for help. Before he knew it, he'd been tackled. A pale form straddled his soot covered body. Bewildered confusion. The gentle crooning as a pale hand touched his fire singed face. A hand jammed in his mouth. Red eyes flashing with glee and curiosity. The horrible pain of his tongue parting company with the rest of him. Then nothing.

His body spasmed violently, and James tried to pull away from Tom. His head hit the stone, and a small wail of fear rose in his throat. His eyes rolled back as he struggled against the man above him. Not again. He bucked and writhed to no avail. The weight above him was much too heavy for his fear crazed efforts of escape. He was a weak adolescent human again in his fear, there were no precise movement, just fearful wiggling.

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Tom watched as the boy's eyes unfocused. His head straightened and his body tensed in preparation for what would happen next. He knew this reaction, he had seen it before. It was most common in drunks, but he had also seen it in the sanatorium when the mentally unsound were lost in a nightmare. And he knew that Jame's mind was no longer in the present, but stuck somewhere else. Somewhere horrible, judging by the way the body tensed and spasmed.

And Tom honestly didn't care.

James' thrashing was only more evidence to the butler's danger level. More proof that this man needed to be removed. There was no screaming and Tom huffed in frustration. Honestly, if the man would simply comply with his demands then things would move along much faster. No matter, he would take control of the situation. His right hand abandoned its previous task and reached over to grab at one of the knives. He fumbled for several minutes - James' constant thrashing was making the job much more difficult than necessary - and finally held a knife firmly.

And then he fell. Tom had been twisting himself at odd angles to do what he needed. The voice hadn't been there to warn him of the impending danger and James' erratic thrashing had been deemed unimportant information so he was completely unprepared for when James gave a particularly violent twist of his body, causing Tom to lose his balance and hit the floor. And just like that, the boy was free to go wherever.

But Tom wasn't about to give up. He had a task to complete, a weapon in his hands, and a threat to his and Deget's health and safety loose in the mansion. He wasn't about to give up now.

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James, suddenly free of the weight, scrambled backward, his back pressed against the wall. he wasn't thinking properly, and there was a horrible burning sensation in his throat and where his tongue had once been. He cowered against the wall, pressing flat. Tears begin leaking out of the corners of his eyes from fear and pain of the horrible things running inside his head...all those memories... Why couldn't they just go away? A sob ripped from the boy's throat, but the next was swallowed with discomfort. His breathing was uneven, his eyes closed. The chocolate haired boy rocked back and forth slightly, the bite of tears in each breath, sharp and unforgiving in his chest. His hands covered his face as if he were a fearful child, but as the pain in his brain began to calm, the memory retreating. The burning pain and the vivid flashes calmed into a light pulsing pain at the back of his skull. Where the crack in his head still resided, trying desperately to finish healing itself in all the commotion.

The butler peeked from between his fingers, one large green eye appearing. It widened. He pressed back further against the wall, his breath catching. He blinked, then opened the other eye, his hands slowly sliding from his face. He stared at Tom with rapt attention, forcing the last of the pain away, a blank look on his face. His cheeks were tracked with tear-stains, but the tears were long gone. The fear filled memory had gone nearly as quickly as it had arrived, leaving the boy a bit confused. A slight cough forced itself from his chest, which was aching slightly from having the man's weight on it.

Eyes traveled from the weapon, the knife in Tom's hand to the man's face, then to the ground. James swallowed hard. He steeled himself for the inevitable. He really did not like to die, but eh, it was life. For him, at least. Tentatively he shifted, leaning forward, his eyes daring Tom to move. With his sleeve he wiped the tear-salt away from his cheeks, then began edging slowly to the door. He probably wouldn't make it there, but it didn't hurt to try. Well, it did, but that was beside the point.

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Always with the crying! Tom writhed mentally, a part of him screaming in pain at the others suffering, a larger part of him shrinking back in terror at what he was doing. He probably would have curled up in a corner and started to cry himself if that persistent little voice hadn't decided to come back. And scream at him. Scream in anger, disgust, and rage at what had happened. Why was he letting the little monster live? It had to be dispatched as soon as possible or bad things would happen! Bad, horrible things! Only, Tom couldn't quite make out what the voice was saying because he had started to scream as well, shouting at the voice and trying to command it to be silence.

It was very strange to listen to him since he had began speaking for them both. What followed was a short conversation that went something like this:

"Oh, for the love of god, would you just kill it already?!"
"NO! Just leave me ALONE!"
"Shut up and kill it!"
"Go'waygo'waygo'way!"

There also a lot of senseless screaming. By the time he calmed down enough to reassess the situation, James was at the door and almost gone. There was a loud scream of, "NOOO!" - Tom couldn't be sure if it was him, the voice, or both of them or even someone else that had come up - as he lurched forward and grabbed at James' legs with one hand and thrust the knife forward with the other. He didn't care where it struck, just so long as he could slow his target down long enough to finish business.

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James ignored Tom's mad screaming, intent on trying to make it to the door. He was nearly there too when a hand grasped his ankle and the sharp point of a knife plunged into the side of his leg. A wail bubbled from his throat, an animal cry. He fell sideways, against the wall, trying to remain calm as adrenaline pulsed in his body. Blood began to run down his leg swiftly, pooling below. The knife had made it to bone, and the pain was agonizing. James would be limping for hours. But that was probably not going to be the worst of his injuries by the look on Tom's face. His worst mistake, a human instinct, was pulling away, making the knife tear across his leg before it lost contact with him. Stupid! He mentally berated himself through the haze of pain. But what was done was done, there was nothing around that. It was made even more futile a gesture because Tom's hand was still wrapped around his ankle.

Maybe he could just give the man a good kick in the face and bolt painstakingly away? But then he'd get in trouble for interfering with the game. James's body was trembling with the effort of holding all the pain and adrenaline in his little body. His green eyes were wide, and his mouth was open in a shocked expression. Tears were escaping again, but there was no sobs, just the lingering animal wail emitting from his throat. He was a young gazelle struck down by a lion. Wait, no...Did gazelles and lions live together? The wail quieted as James momentarily contemplated that. The thought, so outside of the pain, was like a life raft, and James clung to it desperately, drawing himself away from the burning in his leg and mind.

That was something Drake had unwittingly taught him. Not through any conventional lesson, but from the necessity to escape the pain that followed Drake where ever he went. Distractions. Beautiful distractions. His body still reacted to the pain, sweat making his body sticky and his breaths come fast. But his mind was a bit more serene as he thought about gazelles and mountain lions, neither of which he'd seen personally. But they were nice to think about. James stared up at the ceiling, the top of his head resting against the wall, his body heaving with each breath, which was accompanied by a strained whine.

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Deget perked as her ears picked up the sounds of screaming. She thought, at first, it was her imagination as they were loud screeches. Like some madman had been let loose. And that was something she needed to investigate. The woman began to walk towards the sound as her pace quickened to a jog- the screams grew louder- and then she had broke out into a sprint. Her hat flew off but that was nothing compared to the agonizing pain she felt in her mind because she knew that voice. She knew it.

"What the--?!" Screeching to a halt, she saw the scene before her. James. Tom. Fighting, knife-- God, Tom looked like a mad man. His eyes- wild. It didn't frighten her as much as it made her want to cry.

Brown eyes going wide, she said in a whisper, "God Tom, what are you doing?"

Her trust would be her downfall. Her eyes held sadness and that familiar note of shock-- love. Her friend.. Her friend.. She had to help them. James, sweet, kind little thing. A-And Tom, he needed help. He could stop this madness- all the violence- if she helped. "Tom.. Please, no, stop." Slowly, she inched forward with her body shaking just a little.

But the Jamaican steeled herself and held her hand out to Tom, lips turned down into a mournful frown. "Come on.. Ya-- Ya don't want to do this.. James didn't do anything, c'mon Tom.." Deget spoke his name tenderly as she tried coaxing him into stopping.

"You don't have to kill James. Not him, no. Tom, just-- just stop."

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Blood, blood, everywhere blood. He'd forgotten just how much people could bleed. Funny, considering he'd been bleeding almost as much only hours earlier. But there were large amounts of blood and Tom paused to take in the sight.

He hated it.

He couldn't really explain why. The more he looked, the angrier he got, like he was being accused of this horrible crime. But it wasn't his fault! James was a monster! He had to be! He worked for and lived with Drake, after all, and Drake was a monster. So James had to be one as well. Right? And besides, Tom hadn't wanted to kill James at first. It was the voice! The voice told him to it. That's right, blame it on the voice. Because the voice did tell him to do it. And he obeyed.

It was Monica all over again. Tears and blood and screaming. He hated it. "Shut up!" He swung the knife but missed. Stupid, clumsy fingers! "It's not my fault!" This time the knife hit, cutting deep into the leg once more. At least the sobs had quieted, making him feel a bit better. Only a bit, though. Not enough to calm his anger. "It's not my fault!" He didn't try to swing the knife this time, but instead wiped at his own tears as he pulled himself to his feet. What was the point of swinging a balded object if you couldn't see what you were trying to hit?

"God Tom, what are you doing?"

Tom twisted, tightening his grip on James' sleeve. The hell was Deget doing here? She shouldn't be here! She shouldn't- She couldn't-

The voice, sensing his sudden distress - and perhaps something more - whispered, Now, now, Tom. Calm down, relax.

Tom watched as Deget inched toward him. His eyes were wide and he looked like a trapped animal. That should have been the all the evidence she needed to back away. But she didn't. She didn't even stop, but just kept on coming. Coming closer to the monster.

No, correction. She was coming closer to the monsters. Plural. Because people didn't kill other people over and over for any reason. Only monsters did.

"Ya don't want to do this." How right she was. Tom really didn't want to do any of this. And yet, the situation he was trapped in made it impossible for him to not do this. Because everyone was a threat and he wanted to keep Deget safe. And to do that, he had to make sure there was no one left to hurt her. "You don't have to kill James. Not him, no. Tom, just-- just stop."

No, he didn- Wait. What? Deget was... protecting James? She had sided with James? The monster? She wanted to help James?! No. Nononono. This was all a mistake. She couldn't want to... But she did. It was written all over her. Her expression, her voice, the way she moved so carefully, and what she said. It's couldn't be true, but it was. Did that mean... she was a danger as well?

Yes. Yes it does. Damnit! This wasn't supposed to happen! Tom tightened his grip on James' shirt and clenched his teeth. His whole posture changed from frightened to angry. This. Wasn't. Supposed. To. Happen! This wasn't in the plan! This wasn't- But she- How dare she!

This had to be fixed. Quickly. Well, she was siding with the monster, was she? That meant it was too late to save her. But everyone else would try to kill her and Tom didn't want that. No, only he had the right to take her life. He hadn't planned on doing so, but plans changed. His right arm lashed out, stabbing at James, before he began to advance on Deget. He didn't care if he had killed the butler, mortally wounded the man, or missed entirely and stabbed the wall. If he missed, it would only take a minute to fix that mistake. But first...

First he had to take care of Deget.

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Deget saw the change and became confused. What was happening? Was- Did Tom change his mind? Yes.. He had to. Tom wasn't a killer or a murderer or a mad man. He was a Tom. The Tom. And more importantly, he was Tom, Her Friend. Friends didn't hurt each other brutally so Tom wouldn't hurt her. ... Right?

But something nagged her that that wasn't the case.

Why would she think that though? Tom was only- scared. Like a frightened, confused child who lashed out and threw tantrums. And all children could be helped. That's right. All she needed to do was help Tom and everything would be fine and this would be a whole, big misunderstanding. And they could go back and have some food and all would be right again.

A squeak leaped past her lips but she was too loving. She could help Tom. That's why she didn't run away- even when Tom stabbed something. She didn't know- her attention was focused only on the other male.

Instead, the Jamaican woman had a smile come to her lips and she relaxed a little. "Tom.. Y-Ya okay now right? Y-Yer calm?" she asked quietly, shaking just a little. Desperate to believe that he wasn't going to kill her like he had done before. Hoping. Wishing. Wanting to believe in a lie so much that it became a truth of sorts. A blinding false truth.

And yet she wasn't stupid. She was not a normal woman who trusted so easily. Alarms in her head blared, her soul raged and something in her eyes- slightly helpless, slightly scared- snapped back into a clear focus. "Please." Deget swallowed thickly and balled her hands into fists, eyebrows furrowing and a look of conflicting emotions creasing onto her features. If all ended well, Tom would walk away from this and they could be better. But if not.. God, she didn't even want to think of the possibilities. It was scary but it was a reality she had to consider.

What if Tom didn't walk away? What if he tried to get rid of her like he tried on Monica, on James?

'Then you fight.' Ah, hello little voice. She hadn't heard from it for a while- it had been with her a month after Zeke's disappearance. It's voice was quiet but androgynous in gender. Warm. Caring. But intelligent. It reminded her of Zeke himself, the very person that had made it emerge. 'You have to be strong. Even if you don't want to do it, you're going to have to if he tries anything. Deget found the dark, desperate lie and cloud in her head clearing.

She gave a mental nod. 'Because you, me-- WE-- are not going to die without giving a fight.'

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It was impossible for Esther to stay in the dining room with Drake for another moment. After the jamaican woman had run off, she'd heard the most horrid of noises; animal, gutteral wails and snarls. She knew in her head that it was a man screaming, but the sound...it was inhuman.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Suddenly, if but for a moment, Esther was a child. A young girl of five or six perhaps, and dressed from head to toe in frilly white lace. A large bow sat at the top of her delicate porceline head. How she'd loved that bow. That was the first day she'd worn it. It was also the first time in her life she'd heard that animalistic cry. Her mother had taken her to visit her grandfather that day. He was a doctor who worked just outside of Wales in a sanatorium. Esther remembered how everything about the place was white - so white in fact that she believed that if she were to press herself flat against the wall, she would vanish from sight. It was an amusing little thought for a carefree child...and then came the screaming. It came from one of the wards. Loud, terrible, like a giant from a storybook. It screamed for help. Help from the voices. And her grandfather briskly walked off toward the noise. She'd wanted to grab him, stop him from going near whatever was screaming but then her face was buried in her mother's hip as she cried and cried...

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It was the sound of pure insanity. The fear rising in her throat, Esther jumped up from her seat at the table and her eyes met Drake's. She stared at him for an instant before turning her back on him and leaving the dining hall. Lifting the front of her dress above her feet, she jogged toward the wailing, although every instinct in her body told her not to. It was the first time she'd ever done something that went against her better judgement.

Rounding the corner, Esther's hands flew over her mouth to cover a silent scream. Blood was spattered all about the guestroom. The young butler lay writhing about on the floor - was the blood from him? And there was Tom. Knife in hand he was bathed in sweat and blood as he struggled to get to his feet. Deget was before him, urging him to calm down. Esther gazed into Tom's eyes; the glint of depravity overwhelming his once placid face.

'Did he...did he intend to kill her too!?'

Esther did not know Deget. She did not trust Deget. But the sad truth remained that Deget's presence here meant that Esther wasn't completely alone. Without thinking any further on it, Esther screamed out to the woman.

"What are you doing!? Get away from him! Now!"

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Deget wheeled around and looked at Esther. Her face was hard and the frown was still etched on her lips, concern and surprise shining in her eyes when she saw the woman. She tried her best to smile. "Don't worry. Don't worry- I can handle this," she called back softly before nodding away. This wasn't Esther problem- she'd gotten herself into this mess. Besides, it was about high time that she started taking her own advice. Time and time again, she'd told people to stop caring for someone if they knew they were only going to get burnt in the end.

Well, here she was now. She'd gotten too close to the fire, cared for it too much, egged it on and this was going to be the consequence. How bad her burns would be lied on her shoulders- and Tom's.

Not Esther's.

"Go on, I'll be fine. I'll be joinin' ya in the dinning hall soon." That last part was a slight lie, as it was yet to be decided, but she just wanted the woman to leave. She might get hurt.

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James was in severe agony. Another stab to the leg and one to the shoulder, he was sprawled like a doll, limp on the floor. For a little while. His eyes were on Deget. Each breath came out in a quivery sob, part for himself, part for the young woman. She would die. It was a bittersweet emotion. For one, he would get a meal out of it. Something that would erase all the pain. But she would be dead, and it would be painful. She was a likable woman, even more so because of the emotions he'd felt for her. Pity. Guilt. That he'd killed her dear brother. Poor girl.

Fingers wet with blood scrabbled against the stones as he struggled to his feet, his right arm useless, the one that had been stabbed. His left leg was nearly useless as well, and his body trembled like a leaf. Deget was speaking with Tom. Foolish girl, didn't she notice that he wasn't in his right mind? James pushed himself against the wall and tried to rise to his feet. Slowly. Painstakingly. A sob ripped from his throat again. Think of the lions, James, think. He told himself, groaning quietly as he eased himself up. The two human's attention was on each other, they didn't even pay him a glance. That was good.

Then another human entered the scene. God, how stupid were these people? if one hears screams, the smartest thing is to go the other way. Especially in this house. It was Esther. Well now, the gang was all there. Except for Pet and Monica. Where had those two gotten off to?

Another stupid decision. Deget turned to speak to Esther. One should never turn their back on an angry animal. James stumbled forward, a shout burbling in his throat, to stand between Deget and Tom, staring defiantly at the man. He had to admit that it wasn't all bravery and liking for the woman that fueled his actions. Mostly it was because he was in debt to her. He'd taken her brother, and he wasn't going to let her life dissipate as easily. But his body was trembling violently and the bleeding was furious. It would be simple for Tom to knock him out of the way. But it was an honest effort, one of the most honest in James's life. Or his not-life, whichever.

--

Drake followed Esther after a short pause to listen to the sounds. Tom and...James. Tom sounded like thge offender, and it didn't sound much like James was fighting back. Good boy. He had his priorities straight. Then he leisurely followed the sounds. Deget's voice had added itself to the mix, and then Esther's shrill command. That made Drake speed up a tad. He didn't want everyone to die this afternoon. Actually, he'd prefer they wait until the next day, but that probably wouldn't happen with Tom in that state. The man could beat up James all he liked, but he couldn't kill everyone else too. Drake could only eat so much at a time.

Coming up behind Esther, Drake peered around the corner. There was blood everywhere. Tom had a knife and James had multiple wounds. He was struggling to stand. Drake smirked. Deget was turned, speaking to Esther, and Drake reached out swiftly and grabbed Esther's arm as James put himself between the two humans.

"Goodness, Esther, Do you have a death wish? If you'd like to stay and watch that is fine, but could you please do so behind me? I don't think I can save Deget, but i don't want everyone to die." he whispered in her ear, keeping an eye on the proceedings at the same time. This was rather interesting to watch. like a theater production, right at home. How quaint.

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Her head snapped back to Tom but something was different now. James. Bleeding, dirtied, hurt James. What did he think he was doing?! Did he even know the extent of his wounds?! God, these people. They were completely selfless in their own little way- Esther putting herself into the fray to warn Deget (even though said woman had vanished while her head was turned) and despite the young butler's injuries, he was trying to protect her. Even though the attempt was very much and obviously in vain.

"James, no.." Deget didn't know what to particularly do. She put her hand on the male's shoulder, her frown deepening and her eyebrows furrowing even more. "You're gonna hurt yerself more," she said softly.

It was a motherly sort of voice. Dammit, she cared too much about people sometimes. 'Don't get him involved in this.. This is all you and Tom. No one else should get hurt in the process,' the voice said quietly in her mind. Yes, that was it. No one would get hurt because of her. She was not going to let that happen to anyone else she knew and even remotely cared about.

This was her problem.

And frankly, the Jamaican wanted most of them to butt out- but only for their own good. She cared too much to let them try and get involved.

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Deget looked so scared. Like she was trapped in a cage with a hungry lion. And she smelled like fish. Everyone was screaming, there were sounds everywhere, everything was chaos! Tom stumbled back a step, adding in his own wails to the chaos. Why couldn't they shut up? What did it take to get some silence?!

Oh.

There.

That was better.

Like a radio being switched off, all the noise just... stopped. That's right, stopped. Is that better? "Yes... Much." So the voice was helping him again? Finally. He took a shaky breath and surveyed the new situation. Not much had changed other than the new screams - which he was currently ignoring - and the blood everywhere. Tightening his grip on the knife, he took a step forward. Deget first, then James.

Wait. Tom's eyes flicked to the side. "Why?" I thought you wanted to save her? He shook his head. "Too late for her." Another step. "Now stop bothering me." The voice must have been worried. The sudden fear and worry echoed in his head as it spoke, Whatever you say. Just don't come crying to me for comfort when she's gone.

It was funny how Tom could see Deget's mouth moving but there was no sound. It seemed so comical. Unreal. Maybe none of this was real. Maybe it was all a hallucination. Yes. That explained everything. That meant... That meant... Was it okay to kill everyone? Maybe that was how he would escape the nightmare. No one was real, right? Right. None f it was real. It was the only explanation. The only-

Deget looked away, just for a moment, but it was enough. Tom threw himself forward, lashing out with his knife. Perfect aim, would have struck her heart. Except James got in the way. The knife buried itself in flesh and was quickly ripped downward to cause as much damage as possible. Maybe this time James would stay down or finally die. Tom side-stepped the body and snarled, "Why won't you just stay dead?!"

Now. Now there was no one. Just him and Deget. He hadn't heard Esther and Drake appear, nor did he see them. His attention was focused too hard on Deget. The knife in his hand was almost useless now, though. The sheer amount of blood made the handle slick and he found himself having to hold it tighter than normal to keep it from slipping out. He had one shot. Two if he got lucky. Fine. Two running steps forward, stop, twist, and kick hard. His aim was to stun her, slow her down enough to have a clear shot at her throat or chest.

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"TOM!" Deget screamed in surprise and stumbled back, the kick getting her in her stomach. She wheezed and almost fell. Almost. She reached out, grabbed Tom's shirt in her hand and gave a grunt as she pulled. As she fell, her knee came up and struck Tom in the stomach before going down and throwing him over her. Landing on her back, the woman had to breathe deeply and blink for a second.

The fall hurt- mainly her head. She could feel the wound get irritated, most likely to open up again. That's what kept her down so long. Dammit, Tom was good when he was mad.

But wait, she could still help. She could.

Struggling to her feet, the woman stumbled and fell on her knees a little as her hand went out to grip something for support. "Tom, don't- please, don't.. I don't want to hurt you Tom, don't make me do this.." was her quiet, almost desperate plea. Tears were building up but they never gathered too much- never fell past that one point.

The voice calmed her and steeled her, willing her vision to focus. Her glasses had smashed to the floor (they'd been in her bag) and the world was still a little dizzying. Maybe she'd be okay, who knew. But all she knew was that she had to stop Tom and help him.

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Well, at least he'd tried. James feel sideways, clutching his chest as blood spurted from the wound. It had been high, hitting near his collar bone and tearing downwards. And it hadn't knocked him out. He'd only flickered for a second, a mock death, before curling in on himself, twisting on the ground, agony playing funny games with his face. Oh so funny. He was silent, his lungs damaged, but tears streamed down his face. He closed his eyes for a short time, giving up the struggle to gasp for air and giving his body a sweet moment to rest. Lions and...what was the other? James didn't know anymore. he didn't know much of anything any more.

In a swift decisive movement James flipped himself over onto his front, squeezing his eyes shut for a moment after he did so, a silent moan of pain sounding in his head. Now he could watch the goings on. Deget was down. Tom had...kicked her? How cruel. She was on her knees, and she was speaking. James couldn't hear her though. His ears were buzzing. His vision was swimming too, but he didn't really care. It would pass. Eventually. But where was Drake? With him down for the count, Drake would need to be close by to control this. Surely he knew what was going on?

And speaking of that, where had Esther gone off to? She hadn't said another word. But James did not feel much like twisting his body to look. he was okay where he was. Not comfortable, never comfortable, but okay. Fine. In pain, but not more than he could tolerate. There wasn't any amount of pain he could not tolerate. Not that he particularly wanted to find out, but he was fairly confident on a good day.

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Tom wheezed as Deget kneed him. She probably hadn't meant to, but she had struck his solar plexus, causing him to stumble back a few steps before collapsing in a heap on the floor. Suddenly, Tom found himself at the mercy of anyone watching. His hands were wrapped protectively around his stomach, adding pressure in hope of relieving the pain, as he struggled to breath properly. Having his lungs work properly would have been greatly appreciated right about then.

Already, Deget was scrambling to her feet. Tom twisted his head to watch her from his position on the floor. He made no effort to actually get up - what was the point of hurting himself if he wasn't fully prepared for the next attack? And the voice had disappeared again. Maybe it was the blow to his stomach? Who knew, he'd have to figure it out later.

Tom listened to the calming silence. How strange the noises sounded, suddenly. He was aware of them, he could hear them, but his brain wasn't registering them. It was like listening to background noise or a radio that had been turned way down. The sounds were there, but he couldn't quite hear them. It was kind of funny watching Deget talk. He had a vague idea of what she was saying, but it was like her voice had been shut off.

She was probably still trying to get him to stop fighting, but he let her talk. She could try what she wanted, he wouldn't stop. The madness had to be ended, he had to get out, everything had to be stopped. No one would kill him or Deget. He wouldn't allow it. But he didn't want her to die. In all this madness, she had been the most sane. This... This...

NO! The voice was back and angry. It new what he was planning. And why not? It seemed to know everything he wanted to do. I won't let you! Too late. With a huff, Tom pushed himself to his knees and looked up at Deget sadly, silently pleading for help. It was time to end the madness.

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Deget looked back at Tom, the same look of sadness written across her facial features. "I'm sorry, Tom.. Just please- come on, you can stop this.." she murmured, slowly going towards the male. She reached inside her bag and let her hand rest on something. The voice cautioned her and told her to take heed- she did. If her guard had been down, there was no doubt her arms would've been around Tom by now and hugging him and maybe even crying. But she was stronger than that.

Slowly, her free hand outstretched- like she was offering Tom a hand to get up. She was. If there was something she wouldn't do, it was killing or hurting somebody a lot when they were down on the ground. Not to mention the hand was a symbol in itself.

A peace offering or a means for the woman to hurt him.

And she didn't want to do that. But she would. Deget would, unfortunately, probably have to.

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Listening to the sound of Deget's voice, Tom found himself calming down just a bit. It wasn't much, but it was enough to make himself feel horrible about what he was planning. No! He gave a quick shake of his head. He couldn't waver now, not when everything was starting to fall into place! He eyed her bag warily but shrugged it to the back of his mind. The voice in his head cautioned him, warning him that she had something up her sleeves. Whatever. As far as he could tell, Gepetto was the only person that didn't carry a weapon of some kind. No, wait, he had his liquor bottles. Nevermind.

Deget's hand reached for him, offering him a lifeline to sanity. Oh, if only he realized what she was trying to do. Guilt would come later, he knew. The guilt would be overwhelming and violent. There would be no telling what he would do afterward. But that would be later. Now, he was strong for just a little while. He had one shot to do this.

One shot.

One try.

One.

Tom grabbed her hand gently with his left hand. His whole arm trembled, afraid of what he was about to do. There was a moment of hesitation - only a few seconds, really - before he jerked sharply and jabbed at her with his knife.

With the sharp tug, one of two things would happen. Either Deget would be pulled down toward Tom, or Tom would be pulled up toward Deget. Either way, Tom had a strong grip on her wrist, and nothing short of an outside force would get him to relinquish his grip on her.

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Deget waited, her gaze never wavering from Tom. It came as to her as a great relief when he took her hand. "Tom.." she whispered happily and for a moment, her grip on whatever was in her bag loosened so she could help the other up. That was her next mistake. thrown off by the sudden jerk. A yelp would've sounded if it had not been for the shuddering gasp she gave. Falling backward, the other fell down with her.

Oh, that reminded her of London's Bridge. Except for the fact that in London's Bridge, you weren't stabbed. Or bleeding. Hah, childhood fun, right?

Giving a grunt, she used the momentum of her fall and gave Tom a good headbutt. But that proved to be a bad decision. With her head already throbbing from her last fall, the cut that she'd gotten from falling from the vents, and everything else, her vision blinked out for a moment.

Then it popped back, blurred and distorted slightly.

Great. Now she had a headache and bad vision. Not to mention having to hurt someone she cared about- when she got the chance to, that is. Her head.. really was, blatantly, fucked up.

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Tom tried to brace himself, but being pulled forward hadn't been part of the plan and had caught him completely off guard. Come to think of it, a lot of things had been catching him off guard lately. Things just weren't going very well, were they? But, that aside, he was unable to properly brace himself and ended up falling forward on top of Deget. Which wouldn't have been all that bad if her twisting hadn't pulled the slicked knife out of his hand leaving him weaponless. Probably a good thing for Deget, since the knife would help keep the blood flow to a minimum if she didn't pull it out.

It also didn't help that Deget had decided to use the fall to her advantage (why couldn't people just die quietly?!) and gave him a vicious headbutt. With a sharp grunt, he rolled off her and tried to pull away. Except... Deget still had a strong grip on his arm. Beautiful. Oh, this day just got better and better. Why couldn't anything ever go his way? In the end, Tom settled for holding his free hand against his head where he had been smacked - smearing blood across his face in the process, which gave him an even wilder/more helpless appearance (depending on how one decided to look at him) - and watching Deget warily.

A part of him wanted to grab another knife. His arm wasn't hurting as badly and he was positive he could hold a knife now with minimal problems. The only problem with that? The knifes were just out of reach as long as Deget held him. It was painfully annoying, how they were less than an inch from his fingertips, but no matter how he strained, the woman kept him just far enough away that he couldn't grab at them. All that was left was to wait. She would loosen her grip n him eventually, or she would try to get closer. He just knew it. And the moment she did, Tom was ready to pounce on the knives and continue his attack.

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Deget felt around for a moment, arms flailing a bit as her grip on Tom faltered. Her head was bleeding. The cut- god dammit, the cut. And her side was stinging and it really, really hurt. She put a hand to it and pulled it out with a grunt, pushing herself away from Tom and trying to wriggle. She wanted to keep distance and she wanted to get her bandages. Grabbing blindingly, she dug through her bag and began to look though it. Feeling, really, but she was also looking.

They were at the bottom, damn it all.

Pulling them out hurriedly, Deget fumbled and wrapped them around where she had been stabbed, trying to tie it. "Damn, damn, damn," was her continuous mumble.

Her eyes were still unfocused, messed up. It made her mad this inability to focus solely on what she needed to be focused on. It made her feel weaker- and in a situation like this, she didn't want to feel like that.

At all.

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At last, Deget released him! With a sharp cry of excitement, Tom pounced on the scattered knife collection and soon had one in each hand. He didn't need to grab at her anymore, she didn't look like she was getting up ay time soon. That was more than enough for him. But even though he wanted to kill her, he hesitated as she pulled out the bandages. He may have been homicidal, but he wasn't cruel. He let her bandage herself, forcing himself to watch.

That's right, you did that. Oh lovely. You can still walk away, you know. It's okay. Just let her live. You don't need to do this. Yes I do. Tch! He sounded so weak. But not to her. It's alright. Just let her go. He felt so pitiful. Tom hated feeling pitiful. It was like he was worse than everyone else. It made him feel like a horrible person, and he didn't like that. That was bad, and he didn't want to feel that anymore! And it was all Deget's fault. All Deget...

But mostly his. Because he was a horrible person. And that sucked.

"I'm sorry." It was Monica's death all over again. "I'm sorry." Stiffly, Tom limped over to where Deget was sitting on the ground. The knife in his right hand was dropped within reach of her - he didn't even realize it had fallen - as he moved to stand behind her. Hopefully she wouldn't notice, and give him time to sit down and wrap his arms gently around her. Let him hold her gently, almost cuddling.

What do you think you're doing?! The voice was nervous. It was losing, and it knew it. Stop it! Stop it! Whatever. This was one battle the voice would have to lose. The scene was both beautiful and painful. It was almost like being back home with his wife again, except he wasn't home. And this was Deget. And she was going to die.

And it was all his fault.

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Deget finally bandaged her wound, however messy it may have been, and slumped slightly. She wanted to fall back and just rest now. Her head was pounding and now to wounds were open. The one on the back of her head was steadily dripping with blood, but at least she had enough to power to a least stop a little of the blood from the wound on her arm. Ah.. Was her vision starting to swim a little more?

Looking up at Tom with a swaying vision, lips twitched up into a sad smile. "I know, Tom," was her soft reply. "I know." Reaching out the woman gave a soft pat to her friend's leg.

The voice smiled at her- she could feel it- and it knew that the Jamaican made the decision. It was time for her to go. And it was Tom's job to make sure the deed be carried out.

As the man lowered himself next to her, Deget smiled again and closed her eyes a little with a sigh. Look at her, dying like this. Like Zeke she had been young. A lot to look forward to. But yet she knew that the time to die would eventually come for her. How old she would be- maybe Deget had been aiming for the age of 80 or so but this was good. She was dying, anyways, two open wounds bleeding? Better to be stabbed and die quickly than for everything to be drawn out.

Truthfully, she was happy Tom would kill her. It was actually a nice way to die- with a friend. A friend who apologized. She'd already forgiven Tom; Everything he'd done had been forgiven.

Because he was her friend. Friends forgave each other.

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The voice was still there, screaming at him to stop. It didn't want this any more than he did, even less it seemed. But Tom had tuned the voice out and was now busy holding onto Deget. His legs on either side of her and his arms draped over her shoulders, he sat like that for several peaceful minutes. It felt good to not have the woman angry at him. A part of him knew he was being forgiven for what he had done - what he was about to do - and that put him at ease. It wouldn't stop him, but it did make him feel a bit better.

Strange, how he couldn't cry. He could feel the tears there, threatening to spill over, but he stayed painfully dry. Not being able to cry made a different kind of hurt. A searing pain throughout his whole body.

You don't have to do this, the voice pleaded.

Carefully, Tom positioned the knife against Deget's throat. For a second, there was a peaceful stillness. Ah, if only he could stay like that forever. If only none of this had happened. If only, if only. Tom jerked his arm suddenly, dragging the knife across, before pushing himself up and gently laying the body on the ground. Scooting back, Tom pulled his knees to his chest and stared at the ground. The voice was still screamed for him to stop but it went unheeded.

A sudden coldness fell over him. Deget - his only friend- was gone. He couldn't return home to his wife after what he had done. There was nothing left for him here and everyone else was most likely going to try to kill him. No, he couldn't let that happen. No one was allowed to take his life. No one!

Tom gripped the knife and pressed the tip to his chest. How ironic life could be. He had killed two people and now he would join them. There was fear at the thought of killing himself and that caused his hands to tremble. Still, there was little hesitation as he slammed the blade through his heart and pulled it out. Leaning back, he let himself fall to the floor and stared at the ceiling. How ironic that he had sworn he would not die and yet, here he was bleeding to death.

How painfully ironic.

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James, his face screwed up with pain, pulled himself up to his hands and knees, a wail rising in his throat. It was part pain and part grief. This was Zeke but twice as bad. He crawled unsteadily to Tom first, pushing the bloody knife under the bed just in case. Blood streamed from his multiple wounds, and he couldn't help but take a shuddering, painful breath in through his wounded chest. He peered into Tom's face for a second, watching the man die, before crawling to Deget. God, where was Drake? Another wail rose in his throat, tears streaming from his eyes. He grabbed Deget's arm with his shaking hand. She was dead, no doubt about that. James closed his eyes, trying to regroup himself. Two humans dead in one day. He didn't know about Monica's death. Two.

"Stop your carrying on, James. You can be fixed." Drake said, leaving Esther to stride over to where his butler was crouched, staring at Deget's body. The albino grabbed the boy by the collar of his shirt, lifting him up to insect the damage done. James dangled like a kitten being dragged about by the scruff of his neck. Drake gave the boy a sharp shake, making James cry out in a low, animal sound. "Oh, sweetie, what have you been doing? Your completely soaked through." Drake said as he dropped the boy. James sprawled backwards, looking up at Drake with wide eyes. Drake chuckled, ruffling the boy's bloody hair.

"Now, down to business. I feel a fifty fifty split is in order." Drake did not mention that he'd already gotten one soul earlier in the day. "I get Deget's and you get Tom's. Since you let them both die, shame on you." Drake crouched next to Deget's body, waiting for the soul to rise. he was more patient now, not nearly as eager to punch through chest cavity to get what he wanted. After a shot while the milky white soul rose from her chest, darting about cheerily as it tried to find it's carrier to the next world. But The thing was met by Drake's waiting hand. It was caught and devoured in a snap. Ah, So she was as good as her sweet brother. Drake paused for a moment of triumph.

James watched, expression tight with pain, as Drake took his time.

But soon enough, Drake moved to Tom's soul, which was drifting apathetically above it's body. It was clearer than Deget's soul, which meant one of two things. One, that Tom was ironically pure, or two, that his soul was just not very good tasting. Drake drew the moment for as long as possible before catching the wisp and feeding it to the butler.

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Deget leaned against him with closed eyes and her breathing slow and calm. The voice was Zeke, she realized. He was always with her. He was the one that had saved her when she nearly went mad with loss, with pain and he was the one that had helped her through it. Ah, that put her at a great calm. So she'd found Zeke after all. Kind of funny.

The woman sighed gently and tilted her head, pressing a kiss- almost motherly kind- to Tom's temple. "It's okay," she murmured gently as she felt the knife at her throat. "It's gonna be okay, Tom, I promise."

A smile was on her lips and the tears that had not spilled for days, months, maybe even years flowed down her cheeks freely. They made little rivers alone her face and dripped off the bottom of her chin.

Her eyes turned to James once they were open and she smiled once more. "And you be strong, too," she called out to him in a gentle coo.

It happened then.

The knife slid over her throat and a gentle spill of red rose up and flowed down her neck. Deget made a choked little sound before her eyes slid shut. It was a good enough slice that she wouldn't have to feel pain for very long- just some sharp prickling and feeling of loosing air before it stopped. At least she had died with a smile on her face. Her soul took the last of Deget's energy and burst out, almost seeming to have an excess presence like the flames trickling off the rising wings of a phoenix.

Darting out, the soul darted around as it tried to find its oasis but it was caught then.

Something happened. A layer seemed to shed itself and peel off, rising quickly and settling over the room. Throughout the mansion the warm essence spread, like heaven song. Love and joy and warmth and comfort and mirth and happiness before it turned quickly leaving the feel of a sad tinge to this. The heaven song rang for a fluttering moment before the melodious feelings rested to a stop and made its home in the mansion.

Deget was dead.

But something apart of her was not.

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It was over. The guest room that had once been Tom's was now a blood bathed altar. Esther had watched in horror as Tom cut through the young butler before making his way to Deget. He'd killed her. Slit her throat and yet she died with a smile. The two of them had just perished in each other's arms - and for what? Because Tom was insane. He was insane and dangerous and frightening. And now he was gone. And Deget. Deget whom Esther barely said any words to. Both of them were gone, as well as Monica, in a single day. And now she was alone...

Drake pushed her to the side as he made for the bodies. So much blood. She never truly realized how much blood the human body contained. Esther couldn't bear the sight of it any longer. It was like a scene from Hell. Worse than anything she ever could have imagined on her own. Feeling a painful lump rise up into her throat, the girl stumbled a bit, doubled over. She leaned a hand against the wall to steady herself as she began to cough and choke softly. She was trapped. Everywhere she looked there was death. She couldn't even close her eyes anymore - the images permeated her very mind. Tears ran down her hot, red face as she struggled to catch her breath. Aimlessly stumbling along, Esther couldn't think anything beyond getting away from it all. Away from Drake. Away from the blood and the bodies. Away from this manor.

She never saw what Drake had done to Deget and Tom...

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Now It was time for more work. Pah, he had to find three new humans, as well as hunt down Esther and Gepetto. Such Fun. And he also had to clean up this mess. No, James would have to clean up the mess. Drake smiled. He was feeling rather light now, maybe a bit too full. It reminded him of the days when he had been young, eating everything he could get his grubby hands on. Ah, the times gone by. Such sweet reminiscence. "James, If you'd be a dear and clean this up, as well as the larger kitchen I'd be ever so pleased. i must go find the other two humans." James, who was still sprawled out on the floor, his body wracked with spasms as he healed himself, blinked in affirmation.

Now then, first on the list to find was Gepetto. Drake took his time, searching each level in the house, the top floor first. But Gepetto was nowhere to be found. For him at least. He did manage to find Esther though. She was wandering about on the second floor, looking rather dazed. Well, that was what bloodshed could do to a girl. Almost affectionately Drake hailed her, approaching as to not scare the girl off. "Are you alright, Lady Esther? You look a tad pale." he asked, a genial smile on his face.

James, after a short moment to recover himself, began to clean the bedroom. it took a long time to clean the blood from the floor, but he managed. It took even longer to figure out what to do to the bodies. In the end he decided the best thing to do would be to bury them, since Drake had not given any specific orders. So James carefully took the two limp forms in his arms, gently, and managed to carry them out into the garden. He steeled himself against emotion, as he'd been taught, and began to dig with his hands. There was one other mount of dirt in the garden, another body that Drake hadn't taken care of himself. James might have been a monster, but that didn't mean that he wasn't human.

After that he went to clean what he assumed would be the mess from lunch. What he found wasn't exactly what he was expecting. Monica's body and dried blood everywhere. From the looks of it the death had occurred while James had been occupied with Gepetto. And Drake hadn't even shared! James cleaned up the kitchen too, leaving another mound of disturbed soil in the garden. His fingernails were ragged now from digging, but James didn't much care. He was just doing what he had to do, rather mindlessly. Keeping most emotion out of his way.

Until suddenly, Gepetto. or at least, Gepetto's limp body. Dead. Dead dead dead. Surrounded by shattered glass and wine. This emotion ripped from James's throat. No, it wasn't enough that Gepetto was dead, he had to have been killed by his own habit. he'd drunk himself to death. James stumbled to the body, shaking it. Cold and stiff. No. Rigor Mortis had already set in. James pressed his pale face to the other's chest, sobbing. No. His little sun was no longer warm. It-it wasn't fair. The animal wails of grief from James's throat, for all their mourning loudness, were soft, muffled. Gepetto was still wearing James's jacket. It couldn't be.

No.

Why?

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Drake was looking at her. Smiling at her...

"Are you alright, Lady Esther? You look a tad pale?"

His words were like honey. They resounded inside her head with contrast - sweet words from the Devil himself. It made her head spin and her heart sink. Nearly everyone was dead now, just like he'd intended and yet...Drake himself didn't partake in any of the killings. He'd even stepped in to seemingly get her out of harm's way several times now. Did it really make a difference, however? She dared to look at him.

He was both frightening and oddly poised. The man, (could he even be considered as such?) appeared to be glowing before her, like he had partaken of a grand meal or just enough wine. She didn't want to speak to him. She couldn't even try, as the lump in her throat ached terribly and she choked back tears. Looking at Drake the way a scared yet starving kitten would, Esther nodded and made her way to her bedchambers. Sleep didn't seem like the best reprieve but with each labored, exhausting step the girl realized she had little choice in the matter...

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The next day dawned late for the household. Or at least, for Drake and James. Which was over fifty percent of the household. Drake left Esther alone for he was consumed with plans for the day. Exciting plans. Including four more guests. Very colorful guests. James on the other hand, spent most of the morning mourning. His eyes were red and puffy, and his bottom lip protruded. He'd stayed with Gepetto's body for a long while, until Drake came looking for him and took the body away from him. James didn't know where his dead little bird was now. He just knew that it was no where near. And that he had work to do. So he tried to put up a brave front as lunch rolled around. He provided meals for Esther, leaving them outside her door. He didn't think she was eating them though. Oh well, to each their own.

---

After tea time, the deeds were done. There were now five humans in the house again. They were each in their own rooms. The butler, a man named Heindrick had the room that previously belonged to Deget, his master, Enfield had the room that had belonged to Gepetto. The man Williams had the room of Monica's, and the interesting young man who at first seemed like a woman had the room that belonged to Tom. They had all been situated in their rooms in the easiest way possible. By knocking them unconscious and dragging them to their respective beds. Which had been quite a bit of work for James. Especially since the first two, the master and servant, put up quite a fight. James was still nursing a few bruises about his face from that. He hadn't expected the servant to be so fierce. Especially with a face like that.

Williams had been knocked about the head by James after some things that the butler did not prefer to think about, and the last one, Tadhg, had been drugged, as James was feeling rather sore after his tangle with the previous humans and his nerves were frayed after being accosted by Edward.

Drake had left the boy to go back to his own rooms for a bit of a nap, instructing James to keep an eye on the newcomers as they woke. He'd be back around later to give them the full greeting. Perhaps over a nice dinner. If no one was already dead by that time.

So there James sat, dozing in the far corner of the long room that all the doors fed into. He kept one eye open, but he was tired and sore and was having quite a problem doing that. His chocolate locks fell about his face, shadowing the bruises there. One lazy green eye roved the room, landing on each of the doors in order every so often. But resting on one beloved door a bit more than the others. He couldn't shake the grief, even if he could hide it.

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Alexander Enfield and his servant Hassen Heindrick were not the couple that had been invited to Drake's "party". No, it was supposed to be Ada and Reuben Enfield. They were the ones that the invitation had been addressed to, but they were unable to attend. Plans had been made the week before for them to take a trip to see Ada's parents. Alexander was to stay home with the servants since he showed no interest in going and the doctor had advised that he not take any long trips. However, his health demanded that he at least get up and move around a little bit.

Upon receiving the letter, his parents had become ecstatic. At last, the perfect way for their baby boy to get up and move as well as a chance for him to find a girl to settle down with! It was the opportunity of a lifetime, and they decided right then that Alexander would take their place at the party. But they had to leave on their trip before he did, and thus they wrote a note for him to take with him. Alexander, not wanting to go, had decided that Hassen would go with him. The poor boy had no interest in going, but it was out of his control.

As the letter had said, a carriage came to pick them up. The servant driving it, James, appeared friendly enough, though he certainly wasn't one for talking, it seemed. James had been surprised upon finding that the two he was picking up were not the two he had been told to take. Still, it was better than nothing and the letter had given several good excuses. Drake wouldn't be that upset, would he? Hassen had kept a wary eye on the boy, while making sure his master got into the carriage safely. Once the two were seated, the whip was cracked as the horses started to move. At last, they were on their way to goodness-knows-where.

Hassen had wanted to complain. He had wanted to voice his opinion about the whole stupid matter very badly but he had kept his mouth shut. It was not his place to speak against his master. Besides, servants were only allowed to speak when spoken to, and even then, he was only supposed to say "Yes, sir" and keep his replies short. The less he spoke, the better. Those were the rules of conduct for servants, and he was no exception.

"Heindrick."

"Yes, sir?" He drew himself out of his thoughts and blinked. It took only a split second to realize that he had relaxed in his seat, allowing his back to slump. He quickly corrected that and tightened his fists in his lap.

"I'm bored." A thin finger tapped the black suit pants expectantly. When the servant stiffened nervously, a wicked grin spread across the man's face. Yes, that was what he wanted to see. The nervous tension - and, of course, the fear - that came with not knowing what to do. He closed his eyes partially and watched the servant with an eager yet bored expression. "Well?"

Hassen blinked as his brain worked overtime. It took everything he had to return the hungry stare with a blank one. He had learned early on that looking away or breaking eye contact only brought trouble and gave Alexander more than enough excuse to abuse him. And yet, the mere power was than enough excuse, as well. What was he supposed to do, anyway?

"Heindrick."

The master required an answer. Hassen bit his lip in thought. What was there that he could do? No, scratch that. What was there to do that didn't involve bodily harm to himself? There had to be something. Or maybe Alexander merely wanted conversation? No, that was stupid. Alexander never allowed him to speak more than a few words at a time.

"Hassen."

That had his attention. An angry blush tinted his cheeks and he bit back a harsh retort. Taking a deep breath, he forced his voice to remain steady as he answered, "Yes, sir?"

"I said I was bored." The finger continued to tap expectantly, but it now had an undertone of irritation. How could a finger tap have an undertone? By the way its pace had quickened slightly.

Hassen shook his head gently. "Patience, sir."

"Hmph." And just like that, the tapping stopped. Crossing his arms and legs, Alexander watched his servant with a cold stare. No matter, there would be plenty to do once they got to their destination. The trip was finished in silence. Hassen could have sworn the tension was thick enough to cut with a knife, which did nothing to ease his nerve. Nevertheless, he kept his expression calm and his body relaxed but ready to complete any command given.

At last, the carriage came to a stop and the pair looked to the door. For several minutes, there was no sign of life. Then the door opened and James motioned for them to step out. Naturally, Alexander was the first to leave and, thus, the first to notice that something was terribly wrong. For one thing, their destination - while it could be seen - was still too far away. Secondly, there was no one around to hear if something happened. Thirdly, why would a carriage drive need to carry a plank of wood?

Oh, right.

Right about the time Alexander put all the pieces together, the plank made its job known and the body collapsed like a sack of potatoes. James double-checked to make sure the man wasn't dead - Drake would have his head if he made such a careless mistake - when Hassen tackled him to the ground. There were no words shared - there was no need to talk and the pair were too busy fighting to really care, anyway - and the blows dealt were heavy. The German received several blows from the board before it was wrestled from James' hands, leaving the smaller boy basically defenseless.

There was a split second where Hassen towered over him and James adopted an "oh shit" expression, before the next blow was dealt. It took quite a bit longer than he would have liked (along with a few broken ribs and a snapped wrist that he could have done without) before the smaller of the was able to turn the tide of the fight by knocking the taller man down and twisting said servant's arm back into a painful position. That done, he struck the back of the man's neck sharply before dragging the two bodies back into the carriage.

Much dragging and grunting was involved in moving the two men to their appropriate rooms. Alexander wasn't all that difficult to move - the man was dangerously underweight, James had quickly discovered. Hassen, on the other hand, was pure muscle and fighting mass. Despite having a thin frame and looking quite harmless, he was surprisingly heavy - James guessed around 175 pounds - and much better at fighting than James had first guessed. It didn't matter, though. The two were carried to their respective rooms and left to wake by themselves or with the help of someone else.

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Suibhne Tadhg decided that today was going to be a wonderful day. Dressed in a loose, flowing blouse an tailored pants, the Scottish male winked at the men who nodded their heads at him- smiled. It was the sort of day where he felt.. exuberant. Full of an underlying passion that tore him at the seams and made him want to dance and do a jig. He'd just gotten back from a beauty store to buy some products that one would think- well- stupid. Strange. What would he do with red chalk meant to be mashed up into something else to produce the deep, seductive red to be put upon one's lips? No matter. He had his own special way of doing things whoever didn't understand it- well, that was their problem.

At the moment, no one could put him down. No one could stop the beaming smile on his face, the skip in his step as he danced (literally) back to his small home in the countryside.

The letter had been a surprise. What could a big, rich man like Drake with a little ol' entertainer like him? Suibhne was known around the taverns and bars for his music and dancing. Nothing more than that. At first, it was thought to be addressed to the wrong person. And then it had his name on it and well, yay! He was invited to a ball! A party! An extravagant gathering of people in which he could- could let loose!

Not that he didn't do, mind you, but he hadn't done it in a while when he'd looked back on it.

The next three hours that day were spent relaxing, finishing up telling his family the good news, and finishing up chores and tasks. The next several hours after that were spent solely on getting himself ready. Hair brushed and combed, parted into two large bundles of hair to hang on the side of his face and the other two on the back having the same thing done to them.

The red powder was dabbed at his eyes and then had a white powder mixed to them, swirling it in and then letting it curve down to accent his eyes. A soft pink added to his lips, face washed and then clothes put on. An off the shoulder shirt that had a corset-style lace up to the back to make the fabric nice and snug against him.

A lot of time went in to making himself look good that afternoon. More than he usually did.

Suibhne finally left his house around the setting of the sun, going to the bar to announce his leaving. He stayed a while for a sip of some tea before making his way out- even though something bad happened. Never take your eyes off your cup. That was a rule of the bar- of all bars- and of all taverns. A very international rule.

After a while, the Scottish lad gave up on walking and thinking.

It had to have been hours before he finally regained some sense of consciousness.

And woke up in a bed- comfy and warm.

"Wuddafug?" It was slurred out and heavy with sleep, a loud thump heard in the room following it soon after. "Ughhn.." Bringing himself to his knees, shuffling sounded and then the door being creaked open as a woman (not really but everyone seemed to think that) looked around. Another groan, another sigh and then Suibhne rolled out with an 'oof~' "Dis ain't the tavern," he observed as his eyes wandered and landed on a little butler. Their eyes connected and the male stopped.

One blink.

Two blink.

Wide smile, go!

"Hey there!" he exclaimed rather cheerfully as he began crawling towards the boy. Too lazy to get up yet. "Do ya 'appen ta know where I am? Coulda swore I was in the bar.. And then I was walkin'. Or somethin. Hm." He yawned and pulled himself up- feeling a little sick at first by the sudden change before dealing with it. He'd faced worse. Like a real, bangin' head ache. Hurt like hell fire.

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Edward woke slowly, painfully...and incredibly pissed off. What had happened? There was a sharp pain at the back of his head as he tried to sit up. A slim pale hand touching the spot revealed blood. Now he was really annoyed, as the memories of before came back. He had been so close, James had been so scared of him...but that fear had only fed his need to continue his actions. he knew that Drake wouldn't have been happy, but as long as Edward didn't leave any marks on the boy then he never had to know, did he? He had been so close...and then a sharp pain, coupled with the sound of breaking glass, then only darkness. he wrinkled his nose at the faint smell of vodka that was on his clothes, and at the shards of the bottle that were strewn across the bed and were tangled in his blood-matted hair. Gingerly touching the wound again, his cool fingers on the cut making him wince, he looked around the room. Yes, now he remembered. He had asked James to show him the rest of the manor, and that beautiful silent boy had led him straight to the bedrooms, probably guessing the true meaning behind Edward's odd request. Good lad, he had known what was going to happen, probably because he had been through that before. Edward wasn't sure he liked the fact that others had come before him, most notably his host, but James, that delicate looking, silent beauty had made him more aroused than any other had, even Matthew, who had been his favourite back home. Matthew with his shimmering red hair and dark gentle eyes...but he was not James, not that pretty child...not that which had technically been off-limits to him...Drake didn't need to know...
Then the pain had come, and the suffocating darkness. And this room, where he had awoken. He looked for his bag, hopefully that han't been taken from him. Thank God, there it was, at the foot of the bed where he had left it. He had a change of clothing with him, as before he had left it had occured to him that Drake may have wanted his 'services' fairly quickly, and who knew what it may have involved if his hosts had been entertaining guests at the time. Now he was glad of his foresight, and he got changed, while trying to comb the glass and blood from his hair. He had to look presentable, did he not?

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James sat, staring at the human male through hooded eyes. His head was slightly bowed, but when the man stood, the boy's head followed him. He lifted an eyebrow slightly and shook his head minutely. His fingers played with the cuff of his jacket, tugging and twisting. He still looked rather rough, the man did. And not much like a man. Smeared makeup marked his face. That was James's fault. He hadn't been all that gentle by that point. Exhausted and irritated, yes, but careful a resounding no.

The boy pulled himself to his feet with a sigh. There went his rest. The others would probably awake soon, then he'd have to look after them. And God knew that none of them would be happy. Suibhne was the only one who hadn't seen James before he'd captured the human. He rubbed at his face for a second, wincing slightly at the pain. It was funny. He'd more or less than died, and survived the pain, but the minor bruises still hurt enough to make him react physically.

He opened his mouth, which was the easiest way to explain his inability to answer before moving away from the human, over to the other corner of the room. He continued tugging at his sleeve, studying Suibhne, his green eyes flitting up and down the man. He looked cheerful. Ha. He probably wouldn't be so for long. James thought with an almost uncharacteristic anger. He realized that he didn't much care anymore. About anything really. Sweet apathy. It wasn't complete, but James was more numb than he had been in a while. As the realities sunk in further. There was even less game then there had ever been. Not even hunger. Well, hunger for souls. There were other types of hunger there. Perhaps revenge. But there was no one to deliver it to. It hadn't been Drake's fault that Pet was dead.

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Suibhne's smile was happy and had an almost child like innocence. But while while his eyes held a light of happiness in them, they sharpened almost strangely. Giving them the color and look of a cat hiding in the bushes- watching with an almost strange silence. Poor boy's tongue. How had that happened? Probably hurt a lot. Going over to the butler, he bent down a bit to be eye-level with James and gave him a grin. "I understand. I should'a had a notepad somewhere but I left that at home. Fortunately, I'm real good at.. that game. Whereya guess things.." It escaped him at the moment but he would remember it soon enough!

"I'm Suibhne! Suibhne Tadhg." Straightening, he licked his thumb and wiped the smeared make up away from his face. Without it, he looked better with some light bruising apparent. His eyes were highlighted though.

Little specks of strange coloration floated around that gave them a shine.

Looking around, the Scottish male sighed slightly. "This ain't anywhere I been 'fore. I'ma go look about. Ya should go rest, eh?" He looked back to James and gave ruffled his hair affectionately- like this boy he had barely met a few minutes ago was a little brother he'd known for his whole life. He'd never had a brother. The thought was a nice one. "Hwly fawr!"

It was Welsh; the men back in his town used to speak it sometimes. He went off and away to explore the big mansion- the place where he could feel something against his skin, feel something bad.

He wondered if it would spark his sight again. Hm..

But then he heard someone behind him. Looking over his shoulder and walking backwards, he looked at the male and grinned. "So dere are others, huh? Great! Ain't alone in all my confusion.. Nice ta meet ya!" He went up to this man- very tall man, oh he liked- and nodded at him. "My name is Suibhne Tadhg. You are?"

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Alexander was not going to wake up any time soon. That was an undeniable fact, mainly because of the man's poor structure and fading health. Sure he could go places and stay on his feet for hours at a time, but a hard blow would take extra time to recover from. Which meant the Enfield boy wouldn't come into the picture for quite some time yet.

Hassen, however, was awake and alert not long after Suibhne had made a rather loud exclamation. Immediately, the servant took in his surroundings. It was a plain room; there was a bed, a bedside table, a desk in a corner of the room, and a wardrobe opposite said desk. Aside from that, there was nothing. Not even a window. The man grunted as he got off the bed and did a careful inspection of the room. As far as he could tell, there were no traps. The wardrobe was far from pleasing since it left him with rather... ambiguous clothing (way too feminine for his liking) but he couldn't stay in his old clothes anymore. They were wrinkled and dirty and the right sleeve had been torn from the fight. He was no longer presentable to his master.

Speaking of which, where was Alexander, anyway? Hassen began to panic and almost left the room before he remembered his current state. No, he could not present himself to anyone in this condition. A glare was sent to the wardrobe, as though such a thing might change his selection of clothing. Nothing changed, however, and he was forced to change into the clothes available.

While the clothes weren't ideal, his body structure made it very clear that he was a man. HOWEVER, the clothes were far too brightly colored for a servant to wear. This went against the rules and he almost couldn't bring himself to leave the room. But Alexander was missing and it was vitally important that he find his master before something horrible happened.

But he just couldn't bring himself to leave the room dressed the way he was.

It took time and patience, much pacing, and quite a bit of brooding for Hassen to make up his mind. By the time he came to a decision, he'd worked himself into a panicked frenzy, which meant there was only one appropriate way to leave the room. That's right. By breaking down the door.

There was a loud thud as his foot connected with the door, followed by a crushing silence. In his desperation t get out, he'd forgotten that the door swung inward and now his shoulder hurt from the impact. After the soreness had subsided somewhat, Hassen opened the door as quietly as he could and stepped out. Two people caught his eyes and he immediately focused his attention on them.

Drat. Not Alexander.

His excitement was killed with the discovery and he studied the pair warily. A woman (he assumed, he was too far away to be sure) and another servant (again, he assumed since he was too far away to be sure). As much as he didn't want to, he forced himself to approach the two until they were within hearing range. After that, he came to a halt and cleared his throat to get their attention. He hated everything he was doing. It went against his training and the rules that had been mercilessly beaten into him. Hassen was very careful to keep at least three feet of distance between himself. In anyone tried to approach him, he would move away to prevent any chances of contact.

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Esther awoke, somehow feeling more exhausted than before. She'd dreamed that she was having afternoon tea with Monica and Deget. The three of them were atop a cliff that overlook a wildly thrashing ocean. Esther hadn't particularly cared for either of the two ladies but seated at the small table sipping tea and gossiping with them - she couldn't have felt happier. Then suddenly the sky turned black. Monica and Deget stopped talking abruptly and Esther squinted through the blackness to see them. When her eyes adjusted, what she saw sent her into a chilled panic; two filthy skeletons sat in the same seats the two women had been in just a moment before. Tattered clothes hung from their limbs and dry, crusted makeup was caked over their skulls. Esther screamed but no sound came out. To her horror, the girl felt as her body was grabbed by unseen hands and was flung over the side of the cliff. And then she saw nothing.

The nightmare had frightened her, yes. But the feeling of dread only worsened when Esther saw she'd woken up in the same bed she'd fallen asleep in. This was still Drake's manor. She was still a prisoner. She was still going to die. 'No. I mustn't think like that. I must find a way to escape this place.' She couldn't trust James and there was no one else left in the house for her to rely on. No one else. No one...

...which meant that she was the sole survivor. Did that mean she'd won Drake's twisted game of life and death? He promised freedom to the last one standing. But he was the most untrustworthy of all. Could she even think of believing him? If Esther had her way, she'd never come across the man again. But that, she knew somehow, was inevitable. Silently promising herself that salvation was soon to be hers, the young beauty steeled herself and walked to the door. Grasping the doorknob, she was both ready and completely unprepared to face whatever may be waiting for her on the other side.

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James allowed his hair to be ruffled by the man who he was coming to think rather eccentric. This was a habit of Drake's, ruffling his hair, and the nonchalant gesture enacted by another made James rather uncomfortable. He was torn when the man made to leave, whether to follow him or wait for the others? He didn't particularly want to do either. But then his attention was drawn by Suibhne's voice to a second human who had awoken. The servant.

James stared at him warily as the feminine male approached the taller one. The taller, the servant, didn't seem to want to be approached from the way he was standing. James couldn't blame him. But he still didn't much like the man. And he figured that the feeling was mutual. It was a good thing Drake had been okay with the change in humans. "One human is as good as another, Jamesie, good boy for getting two of them." Drake had said.

This one was probably looking for his master. In such a situation James probably would have done the same. Although, after failing Drake, James would probably be split by avoiding the daemon and looking for him. Especially if the failure was of this caliber. Death as the ultimate end. But they didn't know that yet, surely they didn't. Ah, sweet ignorant bliss. Ah, for the days.

But the days were not now.

Now was the time to look after humans, keep them out of trouble until their untimely demises. James stared at the tall blonde man for a moment with tired green eyes, lifting an eyebrow slightly as Suibhne emitted a cheery greeting. He tilted his head slightly to one side, in the direction of Alexander's door. He'd heard the thump at the human's door earlier, but had been too occupied with the other man to do anything about it. This one seemed to be alright though. To clarify the motion, James jerked his thumb in the direction of the door too. But this Hassen man did not seem to be daft. But just in case.

James hoped that the man would either be occupied with going to find his master or by Suibhne, and not coming after him. He was the only obvious captor as of now. And it had been a close fight. James had no craving to end up broken and bleeding again, as like what had happened during the fight with Tom and Deget. He didn't much want to clean up the mess either. And James was tired, sick and tired. Drake wouldn't be too happy if James got into a tussle with one of the humans, even if it wasn't technically his fault. if he hadn't been the instigator. He had started it, if one would like to think of it that way, by causing a threat to the other's master. That was one of those things that one simply did not do. Especially when the other was much bigger and physically older than one. Even though one could not die. It still hurt.

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Hassen wrinkled his nose as Suibhne approached him. Drat. This person really couldn't read body language, could they? He stepped back as she - he? - approached, being careful to maintain the three feet between himself and them. The whole time, he studied the person carefully until he finally came to a conclusion. This person was far too flat to be a woman, but much too curvacious to be a man Then again, it was always possible that the person was slightly malnourished. Despite the person's feminine appearance, he was going to have to settle for the male gender.

Suddenly the person introduced himself - getting way too far into Hassen's personal space while doing so - with, "My name is Suibhne Tadhg. You are?"

Hassen hesitated, not sure he really wanted to talk to this person. No, correction. He really didn't want to talk to anyone at the moment. He had far more important things to be doing, such as looking for his master. But he had been directly addressed, which meant he had to give a reply or suffer the consequences. With a small sigh, he said, "Hassen Heindrick." Short and blunt. The way a servant was supposed to speak.

That task finished, he quickly maneuvered himself around Suibhne - he would have to fix the gender confusion eventually - and dared to focus his full attention on James. He had missed the head motion, but caught the thumb pointing him in the right direction. His eyes narrowed but he said nothing. It was neither the place nor the time to be speaking. Still, the servant had caught his attention in a way that bothered him.

James bothered him, like he knew the boy yet didn't. Something about the servant was unsettling and he didn't want to find out what. He wanted out, to go home as soon as possible. And there was that little warning going off in the back of his head. The boy was a danger; a threat to his master's health. It would have to be taken care of, but not until he had evidence. One could not go on instinct alone.

So, very carefully, Hassen wound his way down the hall and around anyone else that was starting to leave their rooms, and made for the one that James had pointed him to. His hand rested on the doorknob as he paused to look around. Oh lovely, there was Suibhne again. The short man was far too happy, in his opinion. Strange, it seemed he was the tallest person in the mansion so far.

Which was completely irrelevant.

The knob twisted followed by the door opening. He left it open as he entered to check on Alexander - who was finally beginning to stir. A careless move - if anyone wanted to, they could just waltz right in - but he was in a hurry and too worried about Alexander to care. Besides, if he really was the tallest person there, then he was most likely more than enough to take care of anyone that wished to harm them.

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How did he say that? Suibhne tested the name out in his mouth, playing with it in his mouth a bit. "Hassen Hindreik. Hassan hiendrick. H-Hassen.. Hassen Heindrick. Hassen Heindrick!" There it was. He got it right. Smiling to himself, he looked around and into the room. " 'Nother person?" he asked. There was something tat the Scottish man didn't know much about. Back in his village, you busted into places almost everyday- everytime. That was one of the things that England had not changed about him.

Sliding into the room with fluid movements, he looked at the figure in the bed for a moment. "Hope 'e wakes up soon." Grinning at the tall servant, the man left the room soon after and stretched.

Ah, if that man in the bed was as good-looking as Hassen, then he would be in his own lil', messed up Wonderland. Suibhne almost giggled to himself.

Wasn't he just a little too giddy? When taking in the events of today and everything else, his spirits did damper a little. There went his happy mood- dropping like the cliff divers back in his country.

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The door slid open on its hinges and Esther emerged into the hallway, each step heavy with misery. Her eyes on the floor, she sensed something odd; another person was in the hall with her. Someone different. Someone new. Her head snapping up, Esther's gaze fell upon that of a slender, delicate figure. A woman, a woman she had never seen before was standing right there in the middle of the hallway! She blinked a few times, thinking it was her imagination and praying it was not. Before rational thought could kick in, Esther was already frantically jogging toward the person, her high heels loudly sounding on the floors. This person could be salvation. They could be hope. Solace. They could also be danger. Fear. Death. But young Esther had no time to think about such things as she was already stumbling to a halt in front of them.

"E-excuse me! Oh...oh my..." she struggled to say so many things at once. But alas, as the poor girl had only one mouth and one voice, none of them could be conveyed properly. "Please...you are...? Who are you? What are you doing here? How did you get here? How-how did you get in!?"

In the back of her mind, Esther subconsciously kicked herself for acting such a fool. This wasn't like her. She was the epitome of grace. The most sought-after girl in the city. The most beautiful rose in the garden that was London. And now here she was, a frightened doe stammering like a madwoman in front of a total stranger, with no regards to class and poise. Part of her was ashamed. And part of her didn't care. That other part was pure, animalistic fear. The two warred with each other until finally, the battle appeared to end in a deadlock. Esther managed to regain some of her composure (after all, it has always been said that remaining calm in times of disaster saves lives - namely her own) but still demanded answers from this new person. Who could it be? Were there any more people here? Did help finally arrive? Perhaps this sinewy-looking woman was part of some sort of rescue effort?

As Esther studied the woman's face, she quickly retracted her initial assumption. This person wasn't a female at all! It was in fact a man. A young man wearing feminine clothes. While his appearance could certainly pass for that of a woman with ease, Esther instantly knew otherwise. Call it...woman's intuition, if you will. The sight was odd. Sure, after what she had seen in this manor, something trivial like a mistaken gender couldn't hold a candle to the horror, but nevertheless she found herself to be instantly taken aback by the man. Still, another person in this hellhole was exactly that - another person in this hellhole. Which meant that she wasn't alone with Drake. Small victories...small victories...

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Hearing clicking footsteps, the Scot turned his head and looked upon the woman with surprised eyes. "Oh!" he squeaked quietly before turning to face her more properly with a confused look in his eyes. What had happened to this poor woman? She looked scared, frightened and many more emotions mixed into one woman. How sad- how confusing. He hoped she would feel better but listened to her stuttered out questions, stumbling over each other with a way that reminded him of a schoolgirl in front of her crush.

"I'm Suibhne Tadhg," he answered the first question. "And.. Mmm, don't know quite how I got 'ere. 'Spect something happened ta me but it's a blur." The male laughed it off and rubbed the back of his neck with a sigh.

"But enough 'bout me? Who are you, miss? Ya seem very.. worried." His concern came out and he put a hand on the woman's shoulder, a frown- for once!- with eyebrows knitting in confusion and worry. He didn't like it when people were scared and a mess like this. Maybe this little lass was a lost sheep like him as well. She seemed much to fancy to be here as well. Like those prim and proper and prissy laddies Suibhne passed on his walks to the richer parts of town. Strange.

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Suibhne. His name was Suibhne. With a hand on her shoulder, Esther instantly felt his compassion and knew that it was safe to be this close. That idea alone put her mind at ease enough for her to speak properly, though the undertone of silent panic never left her voice...

"This place...it's not a manor - it's a prison. Drake. Drake Stewart, the master, he...he..." she stopped for a moment, tears welling up in her eyes. She swallowed them back and continued, even though her throat ached. "He brought us here a few days ago. Said it was a party. But he's locked the doors and won't let us out. He...he wants us to...to...kill each other!" Just hearing herself say that was frightening enough. Esther knew it sounded mad. She knew it would probably take a miracle for this man to believe her. Would she, herself, even believe this story? Especially from the lips of a stranger? She dared not answer that.

"There were others besides me. F-four others. I watched them all kill each other! Now they're all gone and I'm the only one left! Please...please, we have to get out of here! I cannot stay in this place a moment longer!"

In desperation, she realized she was tugging on the man's sleeve. Instantly, her grasp was withdrawn and she looked up at him. The girl hadn't the faintest clue as to what she could possibly do to escape from here. Her foolish hope was that this Suibhne did. And if he was brought here, did that mean that there were others? Could she possibly convince them all of Drake's twisted intentions? Could she truly perhaps be the one to stage an uprising against him? Sadly, Esther recalled the conversation with Geppetto, Monica, and Deget. Save the young alcoholic, Tom had done away with them. It was Tom who ruined their plans. Was there another Tom here now? Esther's eyes traveled across the various bedroom doors in the hallway. Could the next Tom be in one of those rooms right now?

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Hassen liked to have exploded as the Scottish man entered then left. Half of him wanted to pound the snot out of the man - did he know nothing of privacy and whatnot? - while the other half mentally abused himself. Stupid stupid stupid Hassen! How could he have just left the door open like that? Stupid stupid stupid! Without checking on his master, he ran to the door and slammed it shut before anyone else could enter. He didn't care that everyone down the hall would have been able to hear it, he just wanted it shut.

It was the only thing separating him from them.

That finished, he turned his attention back to Alexander. A small snicker escaped and Hassen found himself very happy that Alex was currently asleep. If his master had been awake, he would have been beaten for such carelessness. He took his time composing himself before he approached the unconscious lord and shook the man gently. It took several gentle shakes before the lord stirred and then more poking ad prodding to get said lord sitting upright. After than, Hassen stepped back and waited patiently to be given a command.

Alexander groaned as he was poked awake, not at all pleased by the rude awakening. Really, he'd have to work with Heindrick on that. Once sitting up, he blinked his eyes several times and quickly surveyed the room. It was the same as Hassen's in all respects except the layout had been turned so that the bed was on the wall with the door, the cane was within reach, and the violin was leaning against the des.

And Heindrick was patiently waiting for a command.

Snapping his fingers to get the servant's attention, he commanded, "Get me a change of clothes. I can't present myself to everyone in less than perfect condition."

"Yes sir." Heindrick jumped at the command, hurrying to the wardrobe and picking out a suitable change of clothes (they were just like his. He took pride in the fact that they were going to be wearing the same outfit). Once the outfit had been chosen, he quickly dressed Alexander and then set to work on brushing the man's hair and straightening everything. Once perfection was achieved, Heindrick handed Alex the cane and opened the door. He followed his master out of the room, being careful the shut the door behind him, and then glued himself to his master's side. As much as he hated being around people, he hated being separated from his master more.

He was quite careful to stay within arm's reach f Alexander in case anything happened. Alex, on the other hand, simply didn't care. Putting on a charming smile, he approached the first person he saw (two people, technically; one was practically hanging off the other) and waited for an opportunity to butt into their conversation.

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Listening to the woman, Suibhne's face slowly drew into an emotion that seemed foreign on his face. An expression that didn't seem to really belong- something strange. It was to have no expression at all. To be just blank. Ingesting this information slowly like molasses sliding down a young child's throat, the male slowly shook his head and sighed. "And hear I 'hought I coulda left tonight and tell my Mum about all of this," he whispered to himself before looking at the woman with a frown on his lips and a compassionate yet sad look to his features now. "Look, miss. We'll find a way out. I have a few tricks up my sleeve- that I do. And we'll repor' this man Drake and I'll tell my Mum about this and we'll laugh about it."

He smiled at her in a comforting manner before turning his head to the male drifting near them- waiting. He observed the male openly- eyes dragging down his body than back up to his face, as if measuring the person's appearance and attitude itself.

So far, he did enjoy the physical.

The inner, however, could use with a little more spit and polish. Hopefully he wasn't complete smile and charm but a spoiled brat like he was thinking. "Well, hello dere," he said with a wide smile appearing on his lips, offering his hand for a shake.

Personally, he was more of a hugger but he had to get to know snobs first before actually hugging them. "I'm Suibhne Tadhg. I 'spose you didn't come 'ere the way you would've liked to. I mean.. I came 'ere with a bloomin' headache but even so, this isn't about me, is it?" He chuckled to himself and smiled again at the stranger- eyes happy and exuberant once more.

He didn't look at all like the emotionless slate he'd been moments before- but even that was a strange thing to be seen on him. Happy was a much more fitting expression to put on Suibhne. He glowed and brightened- like a little shining star.

Or a fire. Get too close and you burn.

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Once Edward was satisfied that he at least looked presentable (his head still hurt like hell though, and was still bleeding a little into his dark hair), he went to the door. He could hear voices from the other side of it. So he wasn't alone here then? Perfect...It meant he could influence them, make them trust him...this would be fun...
Slowly opening the door, he slid a look of frightened confusion onto his young looking face before leaving. To anyone observing, he was just a scared young man, who was injured as well. Perfect bait, no one would suspect what he really was. He knew he was evil and manipulative, but he had tried honesty before. Honesty didn't work in society, it only got you killed. Lying to people so that they would trust you was more fun anyway...
"H-Hello? Where am I?", He made his voice match his face, not quite a frightened whimper, but still scared sounding. It sounded as though he were trying to regain composure the more he spoke though. That was expected, especially for a man of his age and build. He was an adult, even if he didn't look much like one. More importantly, he could pull off the act of acting like a high-class male, the result of years of observation and practice.

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His head turned to the voice and he shook Alexander's hand, nodding at him one time before going over to the male. He looked harmless enough.. Wait. Suibhne's eyes narrowed just in the slightest and just for the briefest of moments as he neared the 'frightened' young man. Damn. Nnf. Tall- just how he liked 'em. But he was another snob wasn't he? His clothes looked rich and the Scott could practically smell the expensive wafting off of this male and into his senses.

"We're in a Mr. Drake's mansion. More like' a prison cell now t'at the miss 'as told me everythin'," he answered the tall (oh and was he tall) man. "Suibhne Tadhg. Your name?"

He smiled at him- observing him and looking at him. Damn, was this man was tall. He'd like to crawl up that pole- oh yes he would~ But this wasn't the time or the place. If they made it out of here soon, though, he was going to pursue that tree. Gave him funny thoughts just thinking about it. Though his expression stayed the same happy, cheerful one like before.

Why?

Now did he want to make a bad impression on this (sexy) stranger? No. Not yet at the least.

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So it seemed that his host had plans for them all...Edward's doubts about his new 'business partner' (though he was starting to doubt that) were not so misplaced after all...Still, it wasn't all bad. He seemed to have caught the attention of this young creature, and he could tell right away that 'Suibhne Tadhg' was male. And a very pretty one at that. Yes...Edward could use this one, since it looked as though James wasn't all that he seemed to be.
"My name is Edward Williams. I must say, it's an honour to meet you, though it would have been a little more enjoyable if we had met under better circumstances", he introduced himself, taking the male's hand and lightly kissing it, the way one might do to a high class lady. Even though Suibhne was male, the affectionate gesture still fit. And Edward needed to get his claws into someone as soon as possible, if this was to be bearable. He had to be sure that he would have someone to do the dirty work for him, should the situation call for it. Back home, he had been in a plentiful supply of people who were willing to cut out their own hearts, should he ask them to. He had Matthew, or Thomas, or Stefan...the list of those people was quite a long one. Here...he would need to do things himself...

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Suibhne blushed and laughed charmingly, eyes closed before opening once more- and they were sparkling. In both glee and with mischief. A gentleman to kiss his hand- not a winker or a joker but rather, a charmer. A rich charmer. And he caught on to that kind of man real quick. They were the liars- the ones that had to be watched closely. He would not be tricked so easily.

"Pleasure to meet you Edward. 'Spose you're right but, really, where could we have met?" The Scott slid his hand away from the taller man and his eyes narrowed- the mischievous glimmer sparking as he leaned up close to Edward.

With one hand on the male's chest and the other on the taller's shoulder, he said quietly, "And lad, you're not going to win oh so easily. Yera very handsome guy but I'm not so easily fooled." Patting the man's shoulder, he turned got back on his feet and tilted his head to the side innocently. But his smile betrayed it.

"So Mr. Williams. How'd you end up here? Gota letter as well?" His smile was still happy with mischief tinting its edges but his eyes were amused. Waiting for the answer. Most men couldn't handle his actions- but maybe Edward wouldn't be most men like he thought. Even so, he wanted to see the man's reaction. It would be funny.

And let him gather some more information on this Edward Williams. Gauge his personality.

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Esther watched as the gentlemen exchanged pleasantries. They were extremely well-mannered, something she was quite accustomed to. If fact, surrounded by the current company, the girl could almost forget the mess she was in. The fancy clothes, formal speech, and lofty gestures took her back to countless high-society galas, and in turn, even more happy memories. Yes, being civilized was the way to get out of here safely. Not like Tom, that madman, or even foolish, foolish Deget. These men were...different. And although she was somewhat put off by the seemingly dark and mysterious air about them, it was equally enchanting. Especially that Edward Williams fellow. To say he was handsome seemed to pathetically fall short. He was alluring; both masculine and mild. And they way he carried himself showed his breeding. Were Esther at a formal party right now, Mr. Williams would certainly be at the top of the 'dance card' so to speak. Yes, this was the Esther she remembered. Smoothing out her dress and catching her breath, she spoke...

"Esther Hathaway. Pleased to make your acquaintance, good Sirs," she gave a coquettish nod before adding, "Unfortunately I do wish it were under better circumstances. For you see..."

She told them everything. About Drake and James. About Tom and Monica and Deget. Even that pitiful young Geppetto. She told them of the manor. Of the locked doors, impossible windows, and even the intriguing ventilation passages the jamaican had discovered. Twice her voice cracked and the girl was reduced to tears. And when she made it to the end of her story, she prayed the men would believe her. Suibhne did. Esther was already beginning to trust him. He reminded her of the young alcoholic. Though that past experience taught her that to rely on anyone too heavily was the easiest road to perdition.

After her explanation, she looked around, studying the gentlemen's faces. Surrounded by such tall men, she felt both safe and intimidated. Whether she be closer to Heaven or Hell, Esther knew something was going to give.

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James stood at rapt attention, his back to the wall, watching as the rest of the humans awoke. His eyes were slightly narrowed, he didn't know how Drake would feel about Esther ruining his fun, but there wasn't anything James could do less than jumping the young woman to shut her up. And he wasn't going to do that. He regarded Edward warily when the man exited the room. That little play-actor. Huh, reminded him of Drake, acting all timid and coy towards the other, the male who looked more feminine that masculine. They all seemed to be taking it rather well. Even though Suibhne had gone blank when Esther told him of what was going on.

James would have to keep an idea on that one. His fingers tugged at his jacket as he stood, becoming restless. And he realized just how tall all of these others were. Except for Esther. Poor girl. She'd either be saved or killed by these men.

Then came the story. About everything. There were spots, things she had missed, but it was mostly accurate. She didn't know many things though. She didn't know of how exactly James was still alive after being stabbed so many times, or of Drake's eating habits, and James wasn't about to supply any information. He'd have liked to keep up the facade of an innocent butler up for a little longer for the ones he hadn't fought with, but oh well.

And the parts about Gepetto made his belly turn. Made him look to the floor, not able to keep his eyes on the girls face any longer. God, he needed to get over the human, but he simply couldn't. He couldn't. And he didn't really want to let go of that warm little sun. He'd have to though, if he wanted to make the rest of his un-life as painless as possible. His fingers were pulling more insistently at the fabric of his sleeve. He swallowed hard. There was a strong urge in him to edge out of the room to inform Drake of the human's awakening, but he knew that drawing attention to himself wasn't desirable.

Drake would be angry if his servant was put out of action. Speaking of that, Hassan. He was at his master's side, like a tall dog at the side of his human. Wary too. James could imagine him wit his claws out, ready to tear off the head of anyone who threatened Alexander. That was the job of a servant. He'd need to be incapacitated for the other to die. James might have to help with that. The others, apart from perhaps Edward, seemed incapable of doing that, and Hassan certainly wasn't going to do away with his master. That simply wasn't done.

Not done at all. But then again, look what the manor had done to Tom. That had been frightening, James had to admit. Watching him kill Deget. It was worse than having to kill someone himself. And that was bad enough, having to kill his fellow man. But a hard heart was needed for the job he'd been recruited unwilling for.

James began to sigh before catching himself. Silence. He reprimanded himself. But it was too late.

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"I'm Suibhne Tadhg. I 'spose you didn't come 'ere the way you would've liked to. I mean.. I came 'ere with a bloomin' headache but even so, this isn't about me, is it?"

Alexander laughed gently - a rather charming laugh, the ladies always said - but it didn't carry to his eyes. If one were to look, they would see the hungry eyes of a predator, not a young lord trying to make friends. "No, I didn't like I would have liked," he replied, rubbing the back of his head. "Got knocked about rather hard. It seems Heindrick did, as well." He smiled, a hint of sadism thrown in from knowing what the servant's reaction would be.

Hassen stiffened and blushed angrily. Yes, he had been knocked around. What his master didn't know was that he had put up quite a fight before losing, but he said nothing. Besides, he had still lost in the end, so what was the point of bringing it up? Still, at least Alexander hadn't been that upset by his failure. It was only a matter of time, though. Only a matter of time.

Another young man entered the conversation, drawing Hassen's attention. The servant eyed the man warily but, again, said nothing. For once, Alexander was silent at anothers appearance. For a long time, the lord kept to himself, listening rather than speaking for a change. He listened and watched Edward's interactions and then came to a decision.

He kind of liked this man.

There was no time to make acquaintances, however, as Esther called for everyone's attention. Once again, Alexander kept to himself and allowed the girl to talk. As she told her story, he was inclined to call her crazy. He wanted to except... there was a ring of truth in her words. He would have been the first to laugh at her and say she was insane if it weren't for the fact that he had been attacked by the very servant that had brought him here.

Speaking of which, where was that blasted servant, anyway? He would have to teach James the meaning of fear. That and no one messed with him. The thoughts brought a sadistic grin to his face as he began to plan. Oh, he would have quite a bit of fun here. Especially, from what Esther had been saying, the law wouldn't find him here. So there would be no consequences to whatever he did here, right? Yes. It was perfect.

This would be fun.

A sigh exacped from James' lips. Hassen jumped at the noise - it had been dead silent once Esther had finished - and looked for the source. His eyes fell on the other servant and his eyes narrowed. Again, the warning signals blared in his brain, but he didn't have enough evidence to go after the man. Instead, he edged closer to Alexander until they were touching. He received a sharp glare but ignored it. He enjoyed the contact and Alexander had never stopped him before. Now was no different.

Let the people do what they would, Hassen was content to stay in his little paradise for just a little while.

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Listening to Esther, he came to a decision. "Well." He took the ties out of his hair and tied it back into a low hanging ponytail, bangs still at his face. He smiled at everyone- but his eyes held something strange to them. An emotion that he knew very well- but the others may have not even experienced yet. "I'm going to explore and try and finda way outta 'ere. Lolly around much as ya like, but I should be on my way." Suibhne stretched and went up to the woman and patted her shoulder in a comforting manner.

"Don't worry, Miss. Esther. We're gonna get outta her. And even if we don't all make it out, I'll try and get you out. Out of all of us, ya deserve yer freedom after whatya've been through." He grinned before turning and walking off- with a near skip in his step though it held an amount of purpose.

Swinging his legs over the railing, he vaulted over it and landed on his feet nimbly- lightly. Like a cat. The Scott hummed as he went on his way, a twisted skip in his gait as he bobbed his head to and fro.

Ah, did he have his piccolo? Oh yes, he did! Getting it out, Suibhne smiled at it before pocketing it once more. "I wonder.." Forming a small circle with his index finger and thumb, he held the circle to his eye- to look through it. The world in colors and links and lines of shivering masses of colors. It was very beautiful but also told him something. There were links of vibrant oranges and yellows along with subdued blues and silver whites; There were energy forces here along with spiritual ones.

And lots of blood shed. How sad.

He let the world go back to normal and went on his happy way.

--

Deget swooped down next to James, breath ghosting near his ear as she settled down near him. A new batch already? This man was crazed- but smart. Had to give him that. She turned down her spiritual force so mostly James could sense her- and even faintly see her. "So," her voice sounded- echoing slightly and a near whisper. "How ya gun handle these? They're different- stronger. Damn right taller. 'Spect that this is going to be one hella game. Like chess. I'll set that up- this is going to be fun."

The air vanished and she let herself vanish slowly- to where, goodness of God knows.

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In the middle of reprimanding himself for drawing the attentions of the others, a sudden presence next to him made his start violently, making a small surprised sound, hands moving up to protect his face as he spotted a vague outline of someone human. Someone familiar. James peered at the from for a second from behind his arms. Crap. What was Deget in an unearthly form doing here? This was not good. He should probably inform Drake of that. In a split he was gone, off down the hall, away from the humans. Perhaps a bit cowed by the sudden reappearance of a dead person. Well, it wasn't unheard of. Wait. Wait.

Hold on a second. James paused for a second in mid stride. If Deget was here, that might mean that the others.... No, best not to give himself false hope. As he turned to go down the stairs to Drake's room to inform him, Drake was going up. In an easy movement he caught the boy by the shoulder and swung him around. At first James though that Drake might have felt the change too, the appearance of a ghostly human, but he hadn't.

"They are all awake now?" He inquired as he pulled the boy up the stairs again. "I spotted that one, the happy Scott, when I was cleaning up all the things the guests mucked up. I don't think he noticed me though. I thought I told you to keep them all together, eh?" The words were reprimanding, but the tone was not. Drake was still in a very good mood. He had four new humans. And they all looked very tasty. And amusing. He hadn't mean to get all males, but the one new female he'd invited hadn't come. But oh well. Alexander and his servant would do just as well.

Back up the stairs, down the hall, James stumbling along behind him, Drake went to greet his guests. There was the ones left, Edward, who was very amusing in Drake's opinion, Alexander, who was most definitely going to make the whole game much more fun with his servant, and Esther were the only ones up there, seeing as the cheery, feminine man was off skipping around the manor.

But wait. How much had Esther told them already? Damn. The woman seemed intent on ruining his fun, wasn't she? Drake shifted his grip on James to the collar of his jacket as he approached the humans, flipping the boy over and lifting him up to speak into the little servant's ear.

"How much did she tell them?" He whispered. James squeaked, flailing slightly in surprise. His face was already beginning to turn purple because the front of his jacket was digging into his windpipe.

"I see. Well, We are just going to have to remedy that." Drake said as he came to a stop, pasting a genial smile on his face as he dropped the butler. James let out a small squeak of pained surprise as he struggled back to his feet. His eyes were flicking, searching for the form of Deget. Where was she?

Before he could get a food look in, Drake issued another order. "Go find Suibhne. Where ever he's run off to. Tell hi- wait, scratch that. Bring him to dinner. I expect you to be present by the time we get down there. Go."

So James was off again, wobbling down the hall as he regained a more normal coloring in his face.

Drake turned his attention to the guests. "Well, greetings. I'm sure Esther has already filled you in on everything, and it is already dinner time, so Why not get acquainted over a good meal." he waved his hands excitably as he spoke. And to remedy anything Esther had explained to them about the previous guests, he'd have to make her seem not entirely right. Which would mean counter acting what she'd said. Which might make him seem crazy as well, but he could live with that.

"But I'm afraid We don't have any wine though." he said with a frown. "Gepetto went and drank it all. I think you'll like him though. James took a fancy to him right off. And Deget. She's a dear. She's the reason there is food on the table, because I'm hopeless in the kitchen. And James doesn't care either way." He laughed slightly, beginning the herd the humans down the hall, still going on about the previous guests as if they were still alive.

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Suibhne was having a very nice conversation with this woman Deget. She was like him- no where near the fancy, posh accents of the English or the seductive tones of the French. Her island accent was charming on its own and she had a witty way about words that made him burst out laughing almost every time he got her jokes. They bonded quickly. "So, is it fun floatin' about the mansion?" he asked as he twirled about- dancing and walking backwards as the spirit floated along with him.

"A bit. Watchin' the games, conversin' with others- creepin' people out. Pretteh fun, dutty maun, pretteh fun," her voice echoed out- a little louder now that she made her appearance more known to the the Scott.

She smiled at him, he smiled at her and they went on.

He soon found a room with a vent and the woman pointed out where she left her small map of the place. And her bag. James hadn't disposed of it- how nice of him. Suibhne hefted the bag up and looked through it- eyes sparking. "Wow! Useful stuff ya 'ave 'ere." He came across the notepad and looked through it, nodding his head. "Hey. I'll make sure ta show them this."

"Who?"

"Da police. Bring this man to justice."

"He's no man." Deget sighed. "He's somethin' else, but definitely no man." Suibhne nodded and put the notepad back in the bag, putting it on his own shoulder as he walked out of the room and went to do something else. Explore more. Deget was by his side, chatting softly with the male but dimming down her appearance more- unless someone came across them.

She told him about her life, her writing, her little home. He told her about his own home, his own little hobbies and his clothing. They were bonding through similar situations and upbringing. Through their secrets- his 'second-word circle' and her 'sight.' It was nice to have someone to talk to.

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Edward's eyes narrowed dangerously when Drake approached, and his expression was fast becoming a full-scale glare when his 'gracious host' began talking and leading them all downstairs. It was obvious he was lying about the 'other guests'...if Esther was telling the truth, then there were no others left. And Edward had a sense for when someone was lying, he did it often enough. And Drake was talking the biggest amount of bullshit that Edward had ever heard. Best to play along though, to disguise the fact that he didn't believe a word that the man said.
"Well, let us hope that we get to meet these others soon. If this 'Deget' is as good a cook as you say, then it would be nice if we could thank her in person. I think I will go look for Suibhne as well though...Who knows where he could have gotten to.", Edward explained as he left the group, following the corridor that he had seen the Scot go down before. As he walked, he thought of the events of the last few minutes...especially of the odd presence he had felt before Drake had appeared. It wasn't the feeling of dread he had felt during their so-called 'business meeting', this was calmer, not evil at all. It was almost...nice? Very strange...very strange indeed...

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"Heya." Deget stopped and Suibhne looked at her. The woman began to slowly lessen in solidity a faint outline now. "Someone's comin'," she told the man with a shrug before hanging near him. They continued walking- eventually seeing Edward coming. Suibhne smiled at him and waved- having been looking through his 'sight circle' when they stumbled upon the male.

Or rather, the male stumbled upon them.

Putting his hands down, he jogged up to the tall man (Damn he was tall) and looked up at the male. "Came lookin' for me, eh?" He teased with a grin, still in happy spirits. Besides, talking to a handsome man always did brighten his day a little. Deget hung back- her presence still in the air though she had receded and pulled it back. This spirit business was still a bit challenging with some aspects though she was beginning to get the hang of it. The main issue for her was her presence. She didn't always want to be seen or felt; she had her own reasons along with the fact that Drake needed to be surprised. Hopefully James hadn't spilled the beans.

Drifting closer, the woman-spirit smiled grimly. Edward was a manipulator. A charmer. He was going to be trouble. And so, the chess board was set. A king, a queen, pawns and knights.

She hoped the Scott wouldn't get caught in the web the others would spin.

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"Came lookin' for me, eh?", the younger man jogged up to Edward with a smile. Such a happy young man, and so pretty...but what was that behind him? He couldn't see it that well, just a faint shimmer in the air, but he felt it...this was getting ridiculous, Edward didn't have the Sight or anything like that, so why was he sensing this odd presence? He could somehow tell that the presence was female, it gave off that kind of vibe. A previous guest? Perhaps...
Narrowing his eyes a little at the space where the presence was strongest, he turned his attention back to the young Scot. "Yes, I volunteered to find you. Apparently, dinner is ready. By someone who goes by the name of 'Deget', though I'm not sure how true that is...", he replied, focusing his gaze on the female...ghost? yeah, he'd go with that. From Drake's description of her, Deget fit the feeling he got from it the most, so he assumed that this Jamaican was dead, but perhaps not completely gone...best to make sure though...
"Who were you talking to? Don't tell me this place is haunted as well. Though, if it is, it could be useful. I have some considerable experience with the paranormal.", Edward made his tone light, almost as though he were slightly joking. The last bit he said, the part about his 'experience', was completley serious, and mainly aimed at the odd presence. To let 'Deget' know that he knew she was there, as much as he found it odd.

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James trotted down the hall. If he were a Scott, where would he be? He didn't know that Edward had already found the other, and it was still his duty to find the man, even if someone else had volunteered anyway. Down the hall, down the stairs. Drake ha d been working that way, so that was the way James went. He was feeling slightly uneasy after the encounter with Deget, a bit jumpy.

Down the hall, left, straightening his jacket. He had a little angry band about his neck. He really did need to find a tighter jacket if Drake wished to cart him about that way. Huh, as if Drake would ever get him one. That would be a miracle of miracles. Just short of never eating another human again, or James escaping and managing to live.

The sounds of voices floated in the air to him. He recognized both voices. Speeding up, he skidded as he turned the next corner. Aha ,there they were. ANd there was the other presence.

James legged his way over to the two, moving as fast as he could without tripping over his slightly overlong outfit. Edward had his back to James. James had no particular urge to be around the man. Wait. Why were there two of them? Hadn't... Well Damn. Drake wasn't going to be happy at all. Stupid humans, why did they have to make things so much harder for him? It wasn't like he wanted to be doing this.

With a sour look on his little round face, James approached the two.

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Suibhne smiled and put made the circle with his finger, looking through it and then a little to Edward's left. He nodded and a sigh was heard. "Alright, alright." The woman slowly appeared next to Edward- flashing him a smile before her presence drifted away and vanished. She had heard James coming. Two's company but three's a crowd. And sometimes crowds could be just a little too much for her.

The Scott grinned and waved to James with a smile. Deget had to struggle to hold her presence completely. Especially when she saw James. The poor boy- he'd changed. It had to do with Pet and she knew that. He'd loved that man more than she had known and this was just so sad. She hoped that he would be okay. A bitter heart was even worse than a sad one.

"I'll remember that, Edward," Suibhne hummed as he winked at the taller man. "Let's go get that dinner, huh? I could use some food. And if 'Deget' made it, then I'm sure it'll be good. Send my thanks to the chef." He chuckled and began walking toward James- meeting the butler half way. "Well you don't look very happeh."

He put his hands on his hips before looping an arm through James's own. "Come on. Cheer up a lil'." Grinning down at James, he began walking, grabbing Edward's hand and bringing the male along.

As stated before: He knew not the term 'personal space.'

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Edward had been about to protest at Suibhne grabbing his hand, but then saw that the pretty man had done the same to James, in a way...The young Scot was right: his green-eyed beauty did look rather upset...Reaching behind Suibhne, Edward gently touched James' hair, in what would be a comforting gesture if anyone else had done it, but it was intended to remind the boy what he had done to Edward, of the now scabbed over cut across the back of the taller male's head. It still hurt when Edward moved too quickly, and made him feel dizzy. And it was James' fault. No one hurt Edward, he was always the one to hurt. The fact that James had gone so far as to knock him out with a vodka bottle made Edward wish that he was alone with the boy, so he could show him what pain really was...His hand tightened slightly on the boy's hair, not enough to cause pain, but it was a warning. Do not cross Edward Williams...or expect to be severly hurt...

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Suibhne was blissfully unaware of this and let go of Edward's hand soon enough. He reached in the new bag and brought out his piccolo, bringing it to his lips and beginning to play. It was a bit of a chipper tune- mischievous and lighthearted. His sister taught him it. The 'Elf Song' she'd named it- for the garden elves that were said to roam their garden grounds.

People said around his village that if you were to treat the gardens well and leave offerings, your garden would flourish. The Elves did this because they saw your good deeds and acts. But if you were a bad soul, your wheat and plant would slowly wilt and go bad. Not to mention that if you played this song for them, they would give you even more luck and rewards for doing so.

He used to play it every 3 months- especially around harvest season. That's what he'd been taught to believe- though along the way, he learned that taking care of the plants also helped in this process. But who else but elves could give you bright, ripe and juicy fruit and vegetables? Even when you neglected doing garden duty twice!

The male smiled to himself as he played, a skip in his gait as he finished the song.

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James was pulled along. He didn't particularly like it, but it was being better than being dragged by the scruff of his neck. He kept a wary eye on Edward as Suibhne grabbed the tall man's hand. It seemed that he was on everyone's bad side today. Well, smashing them about the head with different objects accounted for that, and he couldn't blame them, but all these men were so much taller than him. By about a foot. And James didn't exactly enjoy thinking about what they could do to him. Somethings are worse than death. Like eternal servitude to an abusive crazy daemon, for one thing.

The other put his hand on the back of James's head. The boy resisted the urge to duck forward. He shot Edward a green-eyed glare when the other's hand tightened in his hair. But a thrill of fear shot through his belly. He swallowed hard as he was released, opening his mouth so as to breath better. His heart was jumping in his throat, and he shot a last wary glance at Edward before turning his attention to Suibhne as the man released him. The man had a piccolo, one of the things that had been in his bag. James knew because he'd had to take inventory on all the guests possessions.

The man seemed pleased with himself, off in his own little land. That one seemed to reside there more than in the real world. It was a cheery enough tune, but the music seemed to go flat in the air. In the oppressive fear that hung like a fog. The upper levels of the manor held fear. How many killings had occurred up here? More than James would bother to count, even though he did remember nearly every one. And they did have a list as well. Family lines too. Drake didn't have much else to do but that. It differed drastically from the way he'd used to live, even when James was still young. Before he'd settled down and built himself a nice little house. And brought the humans to him, instead of hunting them. Inducing killing rather than finding those near death.

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Drake emerged and the color drained from Esther's face. Was he upset? Did he hear her tell the guests about everything that had happened? She took a step back instinctively and watched him the way a rabbit watches a predator in the bushes. When he spoke, it was honey. His gestures were fluid and welcoming. To see Drake act so pleasantly only added to the bitter taste of fear.

'Liar.'

Once again, she was being ushered down the hallway and into the dining room. And then Drake spoke about Geppetto and Deget. He talked about them like they were still alive. That monster! Was he trying to undermine her claims? Esther felt a dreadful weight drop upon her delicate frame. She was suffocating in the demon's twisted words. His story couldn't possibly hold up for very long. Could it? The other guests would soon catch on that there no longer was a Deget or Geppetto or Tom or whoever. The fact that Drake perhaps believed this would work made the girl feel uneasy.

Her heart pounding harder than ever (that it still beat at all was a wonder all its own) she continued to follow Drake to the dining room, afraid of what the repercussions were should she refuse.

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Alexander jumped as Drake appeared out of nowhere. Hassen, sensing his master's unease, tensed and glared at the man. He was a bit surprised to find himself standing at the same height as Drake, but decided to use that to his advantage. Drawing himself as tall as he could, he held his chest out and his arms rigid, an indirect challenge to the other man. 'I dare you to touch me.' A warning touch from Alexander forced him to relax slightly. No trouble was to be caused just yet. They would have their fun in due time.

In the meantime, Drake was beginning to push everyone in the direction of the dining hall. Alexander followed happily, ignoring everything that came from their host's mouth. Hassen listened carefully, filing the information away for later. He relaxed even more when Edward left in search of Suibhne. The less people that surrounded him and his master, the better.

Trotting over to Drake, Hassen asked softly, "Sir Drake, what happened to the servant you sent to bring my master and myself here?"

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Drake frowned when the man Edward, left, but no matter. James would have to find him too. But the reactions to his appearance by Esther and Hassen amused him. Esther looked rather frightened. Speaking of her, he had something for the girl. Mostly to see her reaction. He was curious. How was she faring? But then, oh? He was approached by the servant of Alexander. He gave the man a raised eyebrow, pausing in his carrying-ons to hear the man's question.

"You mean James? I told him to go fetch the Scott. Suibhne." A slight, amused smile crossed his features. As they reached the door to the dining hall, he shot a glance at his pocket watch. "Oh, and he's late isn't he? But anyway, play nice with him please. He's the only one I've got, and I don't particularly fancy having to go off and find a new boy. Especially one who can clean carpets like he can." Drake laughed, amused with himself as he opened the doors to the wide room.

Then back to Esther. He dug in his pocket for a moment, found what he wanted, then held out a clenched fist slowly to the girl, as if she were a deer that would be frightened by a sudden movement. He did not smile now, even though he wanted to. He didn't want to frighten her now. "I have something for you, Miss Esther. A gift, you could say." The words sounded almost ominous, which wasn't the tone Drake had been attempting to go for.

The gloved while hand flipped over, unclenching like a porcelain clam opening to reveal what was inside. A slender golden necklace with dewdrop gems positively dripping from the chain. Then Drake offed a small closed lipped smile. An almost...shy smile. An ' I don't give people gifts often, I Don't know how this will be received' smile. For all his charm at talk, Drake wasn't a people person.He wasn't very good at such things. Because those things required practice with actual people.

"I think you deserve it."

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Upon hearing Drake speak her name, Esther froze, her muscles tense. He stood before her and held out his fist. Esther kept her hands clasped tightly against her chest, subconsciously putting a barrier between the two of them. She stared at him intensely and said nothing. It was a look of both fear and, somehow despite how vulnerable she felt, strength. She wouldn't - she couldn't cower before him. Not again. It was all the poor girl could do to keep from bursting into tears. And then Drake opened his hand...

A golden necklace. Ornately cut gemstones hung from the thin chain and it nearly glowed in the warm light of the hallway. It was beautiful. Despite her instant attraction to the piece, Esther was confused. Was this...a gift? Was Drake truly presenting this to her? She gazed at the necklace for a moment, still frozen in place as if it were going to lunge up and snap at her touch. The girl looked up at Drake again. He was...smiling? She had seen him smile many times before, but this time it was...different. It wasn't his usual sadistic, plastered-on grin. This was more...human. It made Drake appear somewhat vulnerable even. This made Esther feel even more uncomfortable. This entire time she'd been deathly afraid of the man. His voice, his presence made her insides cringe with dread. Now to think of him as more than a filthy monster only added to the horror of the entire ordeal.

Esther stared at Drake and still said nothing, though her mind was racing. She knew she certainly did not want to reach out and take the necklace. She wanted to slap his hand away and scream that he was the Devil, that he couldn't have her. She wanted to run away and never have to look at his terrifying face again. She hated him. She wanted to kill Drake. And while her soul burned brightly with adrenaline, anger, and defiance, the girl decided it would be best to accept the..."gift."

Keeping her eyes downward and on the necklace, Esther slowly reached for it. For a moment, her petite, gloved hands touched his and she was instantly repulsed. Still, she bit her tongue and forced herself to take the necklace. Without looking up at him, she spoke, her voice heavy with despair and barely audible...

"Thank you...It's lovely..."

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James? So that was the butler's name. Hassen made a careful mental note of that as he returned to Alexander's side. He wanted very much to go off in search of James, but knew he had to remain by Alexander's side. Oh if only he had a bit more freedom to do as he pleased. With a small sigh, he resumed walking with a purposeful stride. It a sort of self-defense mechanism. The more confidence he had in his stride, the less likely people were to just walk up and attack him. It also made people more wary of approaching him, but he liked that.

It was about then that they entered the dining room. Alexander watched as Esther received a necklace from Drake. She seemed nervous, almost terrified of it, but she still took it. With a genuine smile, he said, "It's very nice. I'm sure it would compliment you perfectly." It wasn't much, but it was a start. Throw a few compliments here and there, then learn something important that could be used against them later. And even though he did it so often, no one had ever caught on yet.

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Drake's smile brightened into it's usual amused smirk. "I was cleaning the spare rooms when I spotted it. Thought you might like it. I've got no use for for such things." He told the frightened girl over his shoulder. Then he looked about again. "Dammit James," He said to himself as he strode into the dining room. "Late again." He clenched the watch in his fingers tightly for a moment before replacing it. Then the pale snowy haired man waved a hand, beckoning the others. He ran his tongue over the jagged ridge of his teeth, thinking to himself about the genius of his plan. It was amazing to be not particularly hungry. It must be how it felt to be a rich human. Always sated. A glorious feeling of well being. Even if it did require work.

"You can sit where you like." He tossed over his shoulder to the humans as he went out the door on the far side of the room. "I'll be back in a moment." That was a warning. Don't run off, it commanded. Sit. Stay. Be good. Drake trotted down the hall to the kitchen, where food was waiting. Fish, which Deget had shown him how to make properly, soup, pretty much the only thing he could make well. And bread, and the very last bottle of wine. The only one that had been saved from consumption. And that was only because it had been in Drake's room. The only one who'd been in Drake's room for any length of time was Deget, after Tom had stabbed Monica.

Balancing the gargantuan tray with the practiced ease of years of boredom, Drake made his way back to the other room swiftly.

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Suibhne finally got James and Edward to the dining hall. After curling and curving through twisted hallways and doors, the Scott sighed in relief when he saw the dining room doors. Entering the room, he smiled at the others and let go of the other two men- sashaying off to find himself a seat. "Fi-ne-lly. Though we'd never find dis place," he said with a laugh to himself as he sat himself down near one of the men. Any one of the men- they were all very attractive. But his stomach was impatient and it focused his thoughts on one thing.

Food.

Rubbing his stomach, the male sighed once more and adjusted the bag upon his shoulders. Deget hadn't followed them around- she was drifting around some place.

Maybe watching over him, maybe doing her own little thing. Who knew. "Wonder what we're 'avin' fer dinner," he mumbled to himself- trying to think of the positive at the moment.

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When James arrived in the dining room, looking anxious, Drake was not there. That made the young boy nervous. He was going to be in big trouble. He took his place behind the chair at the head of the table, his arms folded behind him and a slightly worried look in his eye as he observed the others. And sure enough, when Drake pushed through the doors a couple moments later, the look on his face was not a pleasant one. Well, not for James at least. He was going to be made an example of some sort again. Drake looked mildly pleased, a smirk on his face.

The white daemon passed around the food before tossing the tray lazily like a flying disk. It glided through the air and slid to a stop on an empty end table. Drake clapped his hands together in slight childish delight at his own feat before sitting down, giving James a hard look. James sighed softly. This wasn't going to be fun.

"Well then." Drake said loudly, catching everyone's attention. "I'm glad we all could make it here tonight, even if some of us weren't the ones intended to come." His gaze rested for a second on Alexander, his fingers coming together to form a steeple right under his chin. &qu