Chapter 1: Kitten
There was a time when the fog reached out and the Entity sent out a summons that Frank Morrison felt every nerve in his body come to life in hungry anticipation. But just like everything else in his life, the same old song and dance eventually drove him back to apathy. He itched for a shake up. He needed something that would get his attention and hold it. Checking the keychains latched about his belt loops, he smiled. Perhaps this would help. He was bringing presents to the trial today. With a quick adjustment to his mask he allowed the fog to pull him under its dark lull.
Arriving in a different realm was something Frank would never get used to as he patted away the molten embers of the Entity's essence. Being undone and put back together again in a blink of an eye was a mindfuck. As he blinked the dark haze from his vision and looked around. There was a building in the near distance standing out in the gloom. Ironworks. He hadn’t stepped on to these grounds for a while now but he wasn’t going to complain. It was a nice change of scenery from Mount Ormond, that was for certain. Now all he needed to do was find someone. The explosion of a generator off to his left couldn’t have come any sooner. Rolling his shoulders, Frank let out a deep exhale.
“Fucking up already?” he sighed and began forward with little urgency. He had to get the blood flowing first.
The second explosion went off immediately after and just like that Frank took off. Whoever had been there had enough sense to finally cut their losses by the time Frank arrived to see only the first piston had churned to life. He looked around before he kicked the generator undoing all the progress. When the sparks flew he couldn't help but stare. Maybe if he reached out and let the sparks fall on to his skin the burns would jostle something in him. Give him a much needed boost or at least make him feel something. His fingers were just about to make contact when he heard the scrape of fabric along brick. He jerked his head up and stared at the broken down wall in front of him like he could see through it. At this rate he should with as many times he had encountered this play.
Someone’s feeling ballsy.
Turning away he started a slow jog only to immediately doubleback along the outer wall. He wasn't sure if the yelp of surprise was from his appearance or the gen’s explosive pop. All Frank knew was this pencil pusher just signed his death warrant. He missed when he lunged but at least he had a chase to preoccupy him and they were only two minutes in. With a swift kick to the generator he spun and followed.
Take it slow. Drag it out. He told himself. You end this too soon and it’s right back to sitting around without shit to do.
All of a sudden there was a flood of light spilling over the grounds somewhere to the right of him.
Oh these fuckers were playing this were they?
He was only a few feet behind the bispeckled man when he caught sight of someone in a pair of red pants running from the newly powered generator. Running around shirtless around a guy with a knife was just asking for a good stab and Frank had a good stab in him. Hell, he had more than just one as he felt a fire light up in the pit of his stomach. It burned deep and spread through his limbs to heat his blood as he veered off course picking up speed. He was on the larger man without a moment’s notice and struck. Instinctively he tightened his grip along the handle and pulled back as the man cried out and surged forward. The blood that had splashed over his hand had only served to fuel his movements. He needed this feeling to last. Glasses boy wouldn’t have gotten too far and so he cut across the treeline. It took only a second to spot the dirty white shirt sticking out behind one of the trees and another two before his blade cut in deep.
Now, Frank was having fun. With a look ahead he figured he could cut him off unless he tried to mind game. If he did mind game then his death would be even sweeter the minute he caught him because make no mistake about it when Frank Morrison wanted something he got it.
He dashed to the left with the intention of landing another blow only to be knocked off his feet as something slammed into his chest. His footing lost, he stumbled back and hit the ground hard. Someone fell on top of him just as he had slid his mask off to suck in much needed air.
“A-are you okay? I didn’t see you coming around the corner,” warm breath ghosted against his collarbone while hands slid over his chest and down his leather jacket. Before Frank could tighten his hold on them they crawled off him allowing him to sit up. In front of him sat a familiar dark skinned girl patting along the ground carefully.
What the hell was she doing? And why was she not bolting for it?
"You’re not hurt are you?" she spoke again keeping her voice down. She looked in his direction squinting. "Are you new here?"
She thought he was another survivor. Frank could have laughed but instead he cast a look from his leather jacket then back to her. And where the hell was his knife?
"What are you looking for?" he asked instead to get a furtive glance.
"My glasses. I can't really see without them and it's dark."
Maybe it was his dark sense of humor or something else but Frank turned his gaze to the area around them. It took a minute but he had caught sight of a pair of blue frames laying in the grass. Silently he got up and retrieved them only to stop as something tickled along his ears and whispered to him.
Kill her. She's right there.
He turned to find the girl with her back still towards him. She had crawled towards the crate still oblivious of him as he advanced on her. If she stood right now he’d be breathing down her neck.
He waved the frames in front of him as a head turned and tipped back him. A smile broke out on the girl's face.
"Really? You're a lifesaver"
There was way too much excitement in that voice. She had an accent he realized, just barely but it was there. There was something familiar about her intonations. He had heard it before but it was the way she smiled that gave Frank pause. No one smiled at him like that. Not even when he tried to keep his nose clean. Especially not a girl like her. If they had gone to school together he doubted she’d even look at him. No, a girl that probably hid behind books. Avoided crowded hallways and any form of social activity. Avoided guys like him but right now she was gathering her dropped medkit and dusting off her skirt and jacket with that smile still on her face. Directed at him.
"Here," he wiped the blood off the frames on to his jeans before he pushed the glasses into her hands.
She squeezed his fingers lightly sending a shock down his back just before she let go. As she shuffled her medkit under her arm to get her glasses back in place Frank racked his brain for a name. A name for a face.
“We should go find Dwight and David, I think I heard them,” she said rubbing at the lens of her glasses.
“Dwight and David,” Frank echoed and frowned.
Wrong names. He needed a name for her face.
“Yeah there is always four of us. You make four of course.”
“By the way I’m Clau-”
On instinct Frank pulled his mask back on just in time to see the same shirtless ass from earlier come barreling around the other side of the wall. He paused the minute he saw Frank then grabbed a hold of the girl just as she had pushed her glasses up her nose.
Who was this, Dwight or David?
"You off your bloody tits love? Fuck are you doin’ with this psycho?" he seemed more panicked than the girl did when she looked at Frank.
He had expected fear but instead it was confusion. And then she was letting the Brit drag her off. There was a moment where Frank stared after them as the sudden feeling of loss washed over him. His nails dug into the palm of his hands the same way he used to do as a kid. Pain was always welcomed over sadness. He had no reason to be sad, if anything he should be annoyed. He had a perfectly good kill in front of him and he blew it for what? He inhaled sharply.
Get your shit together Morrison.
His hunting knife had been right where Claudette had been standing when he finally looked down. The guttural whisper tickled his ears as he retrieved his knife and tested its weight.
Claudette. That’s what her name was.
The loud revving and pinging of a fully functioning generator kicked him out of his thoughts. Shit. Two down and no hooks. He had to change that.
He tracked them down on the other side of the grounds. All of them together beside a generator like he wouldn't get tipped off but Frank didn't charge right away. It was moments like this that he wished he had stealth on his side. Sure he could duck but he wasn't like any of those latex masked fuckers. He couldn't just stalk them unnoticed but he could hang back and just watch as the men abandoned the generator to crouch around Claudette unpacking her medkit. They circled looking about their surroundings with fist clenched. They looked like a bunch of mangy dogs trying to protect a defenseless kitten.
The thought brought a smile to Frank’s lips as two of them had deemed it safe and returned back to the generator before he zeroed in on Claudette tending to the shirtless survivor from before. That one had to be David, he decided. He seemed familiar with the girl. Not in the way that he expected survivors to be but something more that caused a hot flash of anger to well up inside his chest. His fingers dug along the grip of his knife as he straightened up hearing the third piston beginning to pump steadily. They were about to finish that generator. He ran.
Jeff spotted him first and jumped off the generator kicking its progression back and ran to the left. Dwight took the right just as a newly healed David had done. That left Claudette who scrambled to gather the materials of her open kit. Frank drew to a stop right before he reached her with his arm pulled back but he didn't bring it down. He could have but didn't. Something stopped him as he stared down at the frozen girl in front of him. He cocked his head and she took a step back, looked from his knife and then to him. There was that confused look again when there should have been fear. It made him wonder what other looks he could get from her.
Curiosity made him step closer until he was only a hands width apart. Her look of uncertainty quickly gave way to fear. Honestly, Frank couldn’t stop himself from leaning in to peer into her face. Now that was a good look on her.
"You better run kitten," he purred.
Boy, he wished he had Ghostface's camera to capture the sheer embarrassment that passed over the girl's dark features. It was cute. She was cute.
When she took off passed him he laughed, counted to three, kicked the gen and gave chase. She might not have had the speed of the red head or seemed inclined to try to loop him like that chick with the partially shaved head but Frank had to give it to Claudette. She was making this fun for him. His blood was even heating up again but something told him to wait so at the last minute he changed direction. He caught Dwight on the other side of Ironworks and dug his blade into his back. Jeff ran directly into him so Frank took advantage to keep his adrenaline pumping before spinning back after Dwight.
Glasses boy had decided to try to loop him around the discarded wooden cable spools but in his panic or perhaps just utter idiocy threw a palette down. With ease Frank slid over the wooden planks, ducked passed Dwight, turned and downed him at the exact minute he felt the rush leave him.
“You know you almost had me there,” Frank crouched in front of the other who looked at him with something akin to mortification that made him laugh. He reached out and patted a ruddy cheek harshly.
“Aw don’t look at me like that. It was your buddy who fucked you over but I’ll tell ya what…” he paused to dig a finger into a curved laceration that split the shoulder seam of the button up and stained the entire sleeve red. “I’ll get him for ya but only after I’m done with you.” Frank promised and dragged a bloody finger down the middle of the pale faced man’s forehead. He stared at the mark momentarily before letting out a dramatic sigh and hoisted the man up.
Like most, Dwight put up a fight, wriggling and kicking like a spoiled brat hoping to loosen the grip on him but it only made Frank hold tighter. He had plans and it started with this first hook.
The minute iron pierced muscle and flesh he was off. He caught David trying to commit to a gen that Jeff had blown and ran from at the same time another genny roared to life. Three gens, two hooks and Frank’s kitten was nowhere in sight. For the life of him he didn’t know why he felt so irritated about it. In fact it was souring his mood so much that he nearly missed her slipping around a pile of logs. It was the ethereal pressure of the Entity in his ears that caught his attention and made him look back. Frank’s mood had done a 180 almost immediately as he slunk after her. He had tried to keep his steps silent the way the Ghostface had attempted to show him but he was never one for patience. Knowing him he had already been heard but when he looked around the stacked logs and found Claudette still there looking the opposite way he decided that perhaps he did learn something.
“Here kitty, kitty,” Frank cooed rounding the stack with his knife drawn behind his back.
Claudette hadn’t even given him a single glance before she ran. He had expected her to head straight for the foundry so when she booked it for the trees and through a maze wall Frank was surprised. But he should have seen it coming. Now that he was on her she was going to do her best to shake him.
Good luck with that baby doll, you got ol’ Franky's attention.
He had nearly caught her at the shack but hung back to give her breathing room and to throw a palette when she looped him through a t-wall. Frank never let her out of his sight for more than a second though. As bad as he wanted to he had refrained from letting instinct take over, it wouldn’t do to end this yet but it didn’t mean he couldn’t tease the girl. Just a little touch to let her know who was in control and that he could catch her at anytime. Yeah, that would be okay. Besides, she was the one who touched him first so with his mind made up Frank picked up his pace putting him at grabbing distance. His fingers latched around her bicep and his knife slashed, cutting into her jacket. The momentum forced Claudette to spin around towards him as she let out a cry and pushed him away, both her hands shoving at his chest. Call it surprise on his part at the contact but Frank backpedaled which had allowed the girl enough time to deviate in her path and lose him.
Shit. Where the hell did she go?
With a quick once over of the land he decided Ironworks was his best shot at catching her. He slowed in the wide entrance way of the building and strained his hearing hoping he’d pick up on any muffled noises of pain.
“Come out, come out wherever you are,” he called to no reply as he stepped further inside. “I know you’re in here kitten. I saw blood.”
It wasn’t a lie. Frank had noted a few drops spattered randomly along the concrete floor but it was so sporadic that he wasn’t sure which direction to head. A particular trail had led him towards the lockers. She couldn’t be that stupid. She had been playing it relatively smart this entire trial and with Frank being on her ass the way he was he was hard pressed to believe she had jumped into one of the metal containers without it being obvious.
“Kitty?” Frank crept forward. He knocked on the side of the first one and listened to the hollow echo. He had given the second one the same treatment before drawing up to the third.
“Here kitty, kitty. Come out and play.”
Frank could have laughed at his warped sense of humor. He did when his knuckles rapped along the rusted metal of the locker and he heard a thump. Excited he threw the doors open only to stop. Oh if the disappointment he felt could be translated on his mask.
“Well shit, you’re the wrong pussy,” he deadpanned as he stared at Dwight cowering against the back wall. He was shoddily patched up but that would be the least of his worries when Frank grabbed him by the collar and yanked him out.
“W-wait! Please let me go” Dwight stuttered as he tripped over his own feet. He nearly brought Frank down with him but he was the only one who crashed on to his knees. Frank let go.
“Now why would I do that?” he asked glancing around.
Sure, he had no intentions of letting the pencil pusher go but he didn’t know that.
“B-b-because you’re...nice?” Dwight smiled with uncertainty. Whether it was at his own words or he wasn’t sure if a smile would help him out Frank didn’t care. Glasses boy had guaranteed himself an early death the minute he tried to play him at the generator.
Frank frowned and leaned down into the man’s face.
“I don’t care about being nice,” he tapped his knife on the bridge of black frames. “And I certainly don’t care about you.”
Dwight's eyes darted around for a minute as if looking for something. Or someone. And just before Frank could look up towards the overhanging walkway he felt hands wrap around his knee.
“I can take you with me!”
Frank jerked his head back around towards the survivor.
“Y-yeah, when we find a way out of this place, because you know we will. I c-can get you out too as a thank you if you let me go.”
Somehow Dwight had looked less sickly at that moment and more youthful. Full of hope. Frank could barely remember what hope was. He could however remember how easy it was to become annoyed.
“You really think there's a way out?"
A head nodded at him enthusiastically that he felt himself smile.
"Wow, for someone with glasses you really are fucking stupid,” he snorted.
Dwight looked offended as his brows furrowed and he released Frank’s leg.
“Gla-glasses don’t translate t-to the size of a person’s intelligence.”
The urge to roll his eyes hit Frank almost immediately but he curbed the want in favor of something else.
“You know what I changed my mind about letting you go. In fact I got something for ya,” he announced brightly and watched Dwight’s face morph into one of relief.
"You are? Oh thank God."
"Yeah, consider me your own personal Jesus. Reach out and touch faith and all that good shit," Frank muttered and unclasped one of the keychains from his belt and tossed it to Dwight.
Confused, the man caught it and looked it over. His fingers shakily traced over the ivory mold of a skull and a man's screaming face merged as one. There was something satisfying about the way one could see a person's hopes and dreams get face fucked right in front of them. Dwight obviously didn’t feel the same as tears sprang into his eyes as the token crumbled into dust and golden embers. By the time he turned to scramble on to his feet to flee, Frank had already raised his knife.
Admittedly he had gotten a little carried away in killing Dwight. There were a few more deep wounds than normal but Frank couldn't feel guilty about it. Killing was always cathartic for him but for some strange reason he didn't feel as satisfied. With an annoyed huff Frank got to his feet and left the foundry. As much as he’s lied throughout his life he had always been truthful when it came to violence. He had told Dwight that he’d get Jeff for him and he meant it.
“Jesus you're heavy,” he huffed as hefted Jeff up on to the hook who bellowed out in pain. It was enough to make Frank wince as he stepped back and stared up at the man. It never fell short of amazing how old the man had gotten while Frank hadn’t aged a day. He could barely remember what Jeff looked like when he was younger but he knew one thing for sure. For such a quiet guy Jeff was loud as hell even as he dangled there grunting like a stuck pig. He would have mocked the man too had it not been for the sound of crunching of dirt and rocks. Turning, Frank caught David trying to duck out of sight.
Oh no you don’t.
Frank wasn’t about to allow a quick save. Jeff had tried to make him look stupid with an earlier juke so he could just hang out for a minute. Whether someone eventually got him down or he was sacrificed didn’t matter.
David must have realized that a rescue was currently out of the question, turned tail and ran. If Claudette was around, which Frank hadn’t felt, she’d have to be the one to come to Jeff’s aid as Frank brandished his knife and went after David.
It wasn’t until he had lost the Brit did Frank realize he had been taken across the grounds of Ironworks. The damn cool down of his frenzy had cost him a hit. Sure the spurt of energy was nice but it was a bitch when it left him right before a palette was thrown down blocking his pursuit.
Luckily, there were only so many places the fighter could have gone and if Frank had to guess he would say one of the lockers in the small brick space he circled. He threw open the doors of the first locker only to be caught off guard with David bursting out of the second one. The stun was text-book survivor stuff but the right fist connecting to his mask sure the hell wasn’t.
“Bloody cock sucker not so tough now are ya mate,” David spat as he danced around the blade swung at him.
Frank barely had time to react before the Brit had punched him again, caught him in the ribs with a knee and swung him directly into the brick wall. Pain bloomed from his face down to his toes as he stumbled and fell to a knee. Something hot and coppery was running down his face, he could taste it on his tongue. Blood. Frank’s shoulders shook as he laughed and pushed his mask up high enough to let his fingers dance along his lips and nose. They came away red and sticky. David was going to die when he found him.
With the way his head throbbed and his ribs railed at his movements, Frank had gone for a slow pursuit. He hadn’t heard any other generators popped and based on David’s original intentions, the man was probably on his way to rescue Jeff from being sacrificed. That gave Frank some time to recoup.
The rumbling of a generator left abandoned in the foundry attracted his attention before he looked to where he had killed Dwight only to find his body not where he left it. Instead there was a large trail of blood leading away from the pool of blood to the other side of one of the lockers.
No way he lived through that.
Curious, Frank followed the path only to stop as he spotted dirty dress shoes. He trailed his gaze up soiled trousers and passed a once white button-up, now crimson, to settle on a pale face. It was the only part of Dwight that Frank hadn’t cut up. His glasses had been straightened however, his hair too. Almost as if someone had tried to make him look presentable.
He could have just left to exact his revenge on David but something told Frank to stay and so he did. He moved carefully around one of the vats and stopped. Claudette was leaning against the metal side. Frank narrowed his eyes at her.
Why the hell was she just standing there?
“There you are,” he spoke, voice a bit rough from the pain.
Claudette didn’t seem to hear him.
Closing the distance, Frank stood in front of her. Her white blouse was covered in blood and there were smudges of it along her right cheek. She must have been the one to move Dwight. Her bloody hands confirmed that, they looked as bad as his own. Frank drew his gaze back to her face. Her eyes weren’t focused on him at all. In fact they bore right through him hauntingly. It was like gazing into a void. It was a look he knew all too well. A look he avoided facing when he stared at his own reflection.
“I wanted him to be comfortable,” Claudette finally spoke though it seemed more to herself than to him. “Dwight always said that getting sacrificed was always hard but dying at a killer’s hand scared him more than anything no matter how many times it happened.” The shaky breath she took made Frank think she would cry but she didn’t even as she closed her eyes. “I hate this place so much. I hate that we’re never getting out of here.”
“Your buddy over there thought differently. Even offered to get me out of here if I let him go but we both know how that worked out." It was a callous thing to say but Frank's conscience made few appearances these days.
Claudette opened her eyes and looked at him then as if just realizing who he was. Her brow furrowed.
“How can you not care? It’s like you get enjoyment out of killing us,” the accusatory tone didn’t sit well with Frank. He didn’t care for people judging him.
“Did it ever cross your mind kitten that maybe I do?”
His response was clearly unexpected by the widening of dark eyes.
Frank shrugged, ignoring the pain in his head.
“You know how it goes, troubled childhood, no one wants to give you a chance so you do the next best thing. Say fuck’em and be a rebel without a cause and all that good shit.”
“You mean you decided it was easier to be a monster.”
The words had barely left Claudette’s mouth before Frank grabbed her without warning by the lapels of her jacket and slammed her backwards into rusted metal. In that moment he didn’t care about the cry of pain that escaped her or the way she winced as he tightened his grip.
“Don’t act like you’re fucking better than me,” he hissed and brought his knife up to her cheek. “You may have had a little cozy family life and had everyone accept you back in the real world but here the roles are reversed. I’m the someone and you’re the no-one.”
As pissed as he was he hated that he never had the best check on his temper. He hated that she set him off without intending to but most of all he hated the way she tried to recoil from his touch.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to insult you,” Claudette’s voice was barely above a whisper. “I’ve never been good at talking to people. I guess that’s why…” she trailed off and lowered her gaze.
“That’s why what?” Frank pressed still angry but he was also curious.
Claudette made a noise then, something like a hiccup and strangled sob as she shook her head.
“That’s why, what?” he tried again less angry but once more a head was shaken at him. Leaning in, Frank settled the flat of the blade along her chin. “I’m not going to ask you again and eyes up here kitten,” he tapped the underside of her jaw lightly making the girl flinch.
It was a few seconds later but she finally looked up though she barely managed eye contact. She had tears in her eyes.
“It’s stupid” she said. “But I was never accepted. I was always alone.” She glanced off momentarily with a sniff. “It was humiliating...it still is.”
Silence fell between them as Frank stared at her. Admittedly he had been surprised by her confession. Sure she might not have been the most popular girl but he had expected her to at least have a small circle of friends, after all he had one and he was the biggest degenerate in all of Ormond and Calgary combined.
“Yeah well fuck'm. They were probably a bunch of punk asses anyways,” he muttered. For as much of an ass as he was growing up he never targeted kids like Claudette. They were miserable as it was, they didn’t need anyone to make it worse.
“No, I think it was just me,” Claudette replied.
“Well if we ever get out of this shit hole we can hang so I can prove you wrong,” Frank didn’t know why he said it but he liked the idea even if he knew there was a slim chance of it happening.
Tears welled up in the girl’s eyes as she looked up at him. Shit, Frank thought. He hated when people cried. Susie drove him crazy with her tears if only because he was ill equipped to deal with it. Joey, on the other hand still had a soft side despite the things they did. He always knew exactly what to do.
Trying to remember the few times he had stuck around, Frank pushed his mask up just enough that he could hold his knife between his teeth. He carefully moved Claudette's glasses up to rest at the top of her head and let his thumbs rub over the corner of her eyes and down her cheeks. Strangely enough she had allowed his clumsy version of comfort. Seemed to crave it. Maybe that was the reason Frank had pulled her against him to lock a hand in her hair as his other pressed between her shoulder blades.
Claudette sobbed then as she pressed her face against his chest and wrapped her arms around his waist.
Frank should have already sunk his knife into her. He knew that but it only made him tighten his grip as he settled his chin atop of the girl’s head. When was the last time he held someone and they held him back?
It seemed like an eternity had passed with them just standing there before Claudette sniffed and made a sound akin to a broken laugh.
“This shouldn’t feel nice,” her voice was muffled against his chest before she tilted her head to look up at him with embarrassment. The expression was soon changed to one of surprise as she reached out and touched his chin.
Retracting his hands, Frank removed his knife from between his teeth and spit off to the side.
"No thanks to that boyfriend of yours. Fucker hit me good."
"Yeah, the shirtless guy."
There was a moment of shock that flashed over dark features before eyes moved from his face.
"David isn't... I've never had one," Claudette mumbled as she untied the bow around her neck. She seemed to be working on instinct so when she gently wiped the fabric along Frank's lips he let her. He wished his vision wasn't partially distorted as he watched her.
Her face was contorted in concern. Concern for him. And Frank liked it. He liked how her free hand palmed his cheek allowing him to soak up her warmth as he leaned into it. When her thumb brushed the scar over his lips he inhaled deeply. The urge to bite was overwhelming but Claudette withdrew her hand before he could act on it.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to hurt you" she apologized and Frank laughed.
"Baby doll if that's what you consider hurting you can hurt me any day," he offered. He stepped forward then and pressed his body against hers as he settled his hands on either side of her head. "Though I wouldn't mind if some pain was involved."
The ping of a generator sounded from the distance caught his attention. He looked over his shoulder. There were only so many places left to get a generator done. And all of them were in close range to the foundry.
He remained where he was though. There was something nice about the way Claudette seemed to fit perfectly against his taller frame. And there was the fact she wasn't repulsed by him. Maybe if he had this back in Ormond things wouldn’t had gotten so fucked. Maybe he would have been calmer, less inclined towards violence. He sure as hell wouldn't have killed anyone that was for sure. Wishful thinking never did shit for Frank but he couldn’t help but get mad at what could have been.
Sliding his mask back down with one hand he brought his knife back up to trail it along Claudette’s throat.
“Not your boyfriend right?” he asked.
Claudette barely shook her head but Frank had his confirmation before he pulled the now stained scarf from her hands and shoved it into his back pocket.
“Now I’m only going to tell you this once,” he began situating Claudette’s glasses back on to her face. “You wiggle, scream or hit me and I’ll put this knife through your skull. Got it?”
“Got it,” Claudette repeated.
Frank ducked down, wrapped an arm securely around the back of Claudette’s knees and hefted her over his shoulder. She had let out a small yelp but that was expected before he headed outside of the foundry and towards the hill. Or at least he would have had Jeff not come from out of nowhere and blinded him with a flashlight. One would think with the limited vision of a mask that Frank would be immune but if anything it seemed to make it worse. A sharp pain bloomed behind his eyes and he dropped Claudette in favor of shielding his eyes.
When his vision had decided to finally right itself he found Jeff pulling Claudette up to her feet. The sirens of the exit gates blared across the grounds then and Frank straightened up. If the Entity had been loud in his head before it was near deafening as he ran straight for the pair.
“Run!” Jeff shoved Claudette, sending her stumbling right passed Frank who couldn't have been happier.
How cute, he thought he was going to get a body block.
It wasn’t until the minute Frank’s knife buried itself into his shoulder and he hit the ground that Jeff realized what had happened. Jeff’s face paled as Frank stared down at him.
“That’s right, no one escapes death motherfucker,” he laughed as he unhooked another keychain. He dangled it briefly above the man’s face before it crumbled into nothing.
The third light of the door buzzed loudly by the time the exit gate came into view and Frank saw Claudette grab David’s hand as the metal door began to slide open. She noticed him a second later followed by the Brit who scowled.
“What? Come back for another beatin’ av’ ya?” David turned instead of following Claudette who had ran back to grab him and drag him further inside.
“David what are you doing, he has NOED,” she latched around his arm but the man had brushed her hand away as Frank came to a stop just at the open gate.
“And I have my fists,” David insisted as he widened his stance and squared his shoulders. “Now step back and let me take care of this, yeah?”
“David don’t” Claudette pleaded but her eyes were on Frank.
“We’ll go after I beat his face in again. Promise.”
This fucker was way too cocky than he had any right to be especially right now. Frank was going to fix that.
He charged forward, ducked David’s right hook and drove his hunting knife through the man’s chest. The look of shock on the Brit’s face as he sunk to his knees had been worth the wait but Frank was vindictive. With malicious intent he drove his foot into David’s chin sending the man toppling over and sputtering blood.
“Not so big now are you, you muscle headed fucker?” Frank grinned as he unhooked his third keychain and crushed it in his fist.
David, to his credit, had tried to push himself up despite bleeding out but it didn’t matter when a blade was sinking into his forearm. If Frank had been enthusiastic about killing Dwight he was absolutely devoted when it came to David.
Overkill was a good way to describe what Frank had done as he sat on his knees and panted. His hands looked like he had dunked them in buckets of red paint. The leather of his jacket was now slick while the grey hoodie underneath was going to stain an ugly brown. David looked worse though, like a pound of bloody meat with fifty large gaping holes in it.
It was only when he looked up that Frank had remembered Claudette. She was still standing there, just watching him even as David’s blood pooled out towards her boots.
Leaving his knife in David’s chest, Frank got up fully expecting Claudette to bolt but she stayed still even as he reached for her. With a bloody finger he drew a smile over her lips, pushed his mask up passed his mouth and grinned.
“Smile kitten,” he said and pushed her backwards into the fog.
Chapter 2: Trial Trauma
After her strange run-in with Frank, Claudette finds herself struggling to get through her trials alive. When she finally thinks she's over it she gets pulled into a trial with the last person she wants to see.
First things first, thank you to everyone who has commented on this story. I didn't anticipate that you guys would like this so much. To show my appreciation and because some of you asked, here is another chapter. I don't know what I'm doing but I hope you guys like it.
Returning back to the campsite had never scared Claudette as much as it did now. It wasn’t as if there was anything there that could hurt her. She was safe there. There was absolutely no reason to be scared yet her heart pounded in her ears as she tried to steady herself. Her legs gave out then and she collapsed amongst the dense woods. The adrenaline had worn off and now it was all crashing down on her. Trial trauma. It was how Bill described it once. Told them not to try to fight it and just accept it for what it was then move on. How was Claudette supposed to move on from the fact she had found comfort in the arms of someone who had a habit of murdering them? She didn’t think Bill had an answer for that and she certainly wasn’t keen on asking him either.
With a deep breath, Claudette had closed her eyes and pushed herself back on to her feet.
That’s right, just breathe. It was a normal trial. You've seen people die before. You're alive. You escaped. Stop thinking about it.
That was the mantra she recited in her head as she continued along an unseen path. It helped drown out the logical part of her that tried to remind her that there had been nothing remotely normal about her time in Ironworks. The Legion had been strangely focused on her despite the fact that she hadn’t bore the Entity's mark of obsession. In fact none of them had that trial. It didn't make any sense. After all she had been in countless trials with all iterations of the Legion and nothing close to this had ever happened. Yet this one had seemed hell-bent on finding her. He had even given her a nickname. Kitten.
Was it because she ran into him?
For Claudette the idea wasn't far-fetched. She knew what could happen if you ran into the wrong person. There were enough repressed memories that reminded her about the importance of watching one's step as a child. It wasn't a stretch to think that the same advice likely held strong with killers. The only difference was instead of the petty retaliation of school children there was the near guaranteed death at the hands of a killer.
Claudette hadn't been killed though. Instead the Legion had shown her compassion or at least some strange interpretation of it. Why?
He could have killed her like he killed Dwight. Like he killed Jeff. Like he butchered David right in front of her before pushing her beyond his reach.
A hand on her shoulder jerked her out of her thoughts to find Adam in front of her. His brows were knit in concern as were Kate’s who had flanked him. Was she back already?
“Are you alright?” Adam asked in a way that had made Claudette painfully aware that he was probably repeating himself.
“You look a little out of it darlin’,” Kate added as she came to stand at Adam’s side.
It was like coming home from school all over again to deal with her parents questioning her. Claudette hoped the smile she gave was convincing enough. She had even made sure to meet both Adam’s and Kate’s inquisitive gazes as she rubbed at her arms.
“Sorry, I guess I’m just a little bit tired. We didn’t have that great of a time,” she spoke then looked away. “The guys didn’t make it.”
“Oh sweetheart,” Kate sighed and before Claudette could stop her the blonde had pulled her into a tight embrace. “It ain’t nothin’ to beat yourself up about. You win some, you lose some but the most important thing is that you’re back with the rest of us.”
As much as Claudette appreciated the woman’s kindness she had the terrible want to pull away. To have someone touch her now didn’t feel right. Didn’t feel the same. But she stayed where she was albeit frozen even as Kate finally pulled back.
“Claudette,” she began carefully. “Did something-”
“Let her rest Kate,” Adam interrupted taking the blonde by the elbow giving Claudette a wider berth. “She just got back.”
Claudette couldn’t have been more grateful for the man’s interruption. She needed some time alone and with some of the others gone she would be able to sit in peace without too many questions. Her mind didn’t seem to get the memo as she sat against a log staring blindly into the flames. The pungent scent of blood still lingered in her nose despite having been cleansed during her journey through the fog. Even now she could taste the bitter copper from where the Legion's thumb had pressed along her lips. But more than anything she felt gentle hands ghosting over her skin and in her hair. Overwhelmed, she squeezed her eyes shut and buried her face into her folded arms trying to ignore the sensation.
Her efforts were in vain. If anything, closing her eyes had made it worse. The hands on her felt real now just like the steady thumping of a heartbeat that echoed in her head and made her own pick up pace. She didn't want to open her eyes. It was an irrational fear to have but what if he was there when she looked up.
Don't be stupid. They can't come here. He can't come here.
But was she really being stupid? The warm breath fanning over her ear and the fingers trailing over her neck felt real enough.
"...smile," a male voice spoke.
In her surprise Claudette had swung her arm out hitting whoever it was in the face before she had gone scrambling over the log only to stop as her eyes settled on the man holding the side of his face.
“Oy! I just asked what a bloke gotta do to get you to smile? Didn’t think you club me for it,” the man grumbled as he stepped over the fallen tree towards her.
“Who else do I bloody well look like?” David snorted crouching at her side. His lips were curled up in apparent amusement. “Give ya a start did I, love?”
Claudette wanted to deny it but she was certain she had let out a yelp before tumbling backwards.
“I didn’t hear you. You’re usually...loud,” she attempted to explain looking everywhere else but at the Brit who gave a huff.
“Not a Yankee, pet. Been over this before.” If David was irritated by her comment he made no show of it as he took her by the hands and pulled her up along with him. He had kept a firm hold of her. His smile had lessened considerably though the longer they stood there just staring at each other.
Please don’t say anything.
“You got out alright yeah? Bloody tosser didn’t touch ya did he?” David finally questioned clearly troubled by the idea.
What was she supposed to say to that? She had gotten out but not by her own doing. That ‘tosser’ had been the one to push her into the thick mist. As far as the touching went, it was best to keep that to herself.
“I was right at the exit remember?”
“Atta girl! Knew at least one of us would get out. Shame the whole bit went to the dogs though.”
The grin that broke out on David’s face was almost infectious until Claudette remembered the way his lifeless eyes had stared up at her.
“Where’s Dwight and Jeff?” She peered around a broad shoulder but couldn’t find the two men. Surely they had arrived back around the same time as David.
“They’re about. Probably wanted to get some rest after gettin' their asses handed to them without puttin' up a fight.”
The news had eased Claudette somewhat. Perhaps she had just needed to rest a bit and calm herself down. That was it or so she told herself. She kept telling herself that too even when she found herself becoming more and more withdrawn.
Sometimes she caught herself replaying the encounter with the Legion in her head. Other times she wrapped her arms around herself in some vain attempt to recreate the same feeling and warmth that she had felt in Ironworks. It was a strange thing to do, she knew that and it scared her. What did that say about her other than what she already knew about herself? That she was ill-adjusted and socially inept. She could deal with that. Coming face to face with the Legion again however was something she didn’t think she could handle.
Thankfully no one had seemed to take notice of the fact she had begun keeping to herself. After all, the last five trials had been particularly hard for her and it had been well accepted that getting killed was enough to leave anyone on shaky ground no matter how many times it had happened. If there was any good news to be had from her trials was that Claudette had yet to face the Legion again. The others hadn't been as lucky. Apparently several of them had been unfortunate to have multiple run-ins with the smiling masked killer. And each time most of them had been sacrificed or violently killed. Even though she knew she shouldn't, Claudette felt guilty. Like somehow that their deaths were her fault despite knowing otherwise.
"Seriously what is that guy's problem?" Meg's voice came from somewhere between the trees as Claudette had been bent helping Quentin pack a few empty medkits. They were getting ready to head out to scavenge some plants to create some healing balms.
When she looked up she spotted the small group of Meg, Ace, Kate and Nea emerge into the clearing. The look on their faces told Claudette everything she needed to know. No one had gotten out alive.
"Che, consider your luck better than mine señorita. El boludo tunneled me," Ace offered up as he massaged his neck. He looked haggard as he dropped down on to the old yellow chair they had found in one of the nearby shacks. Bill often claimed it as his own but he wasn't here right now.
"He tunneled all of us," Nea seemed less bothered by whatever had happened but Meg looked livid.
“Yeah and it’s like the third time he’s done it too. Every single time I’ve been in a trial with him he has at least an Ivory Momento in hand . I’m surprised we even managed four gens this time. Guy’s a freak.”
The comment had gotten a chuckle from Kate. “That’s one way of putting it though I think psycho is more like it.” She paused as she settled on the arm of Ace’s chair. “It is kind of odd though, it’s always like he’s looking for something when he goes after one of us.”
Claudette paused as she got the last medkit tucked away with the others. What did she mean by that?
“Yeah looking for one of us to kill,” Meg suggested for the blonde to shake her head with a short hum.
“I don’t know but he seemed a little disappointed when he finally found me."
“Poor baby, maybe next time he’ll get so disappointed he’ll just decide we’re not worth it and let us go,” Meg mocked untying the sweatshirt about her waist to pull it on missing the older woman’s smile.
“Sweetheart are you still mad that he closed the hatch on you last time?”
Meg clearly didn’t find the situation as amusing as she folded her arms and gave Quentin a pointed look as if just now noticing him and Claudette on the opposite side of the fire. “I think I’m more mad I got screwed over by someone I saved from being sacrificed. That freak just took advantage.”
To Quentin’s credit he seemed nonplussed as he secured the hiking backpack shut and stood.
“I told you it wasn’t a good idea to try to loop him again and just head for the exit with me. He already knew where the hatch was from the third time you looped him,” it was so matter-of-fact that Meg refrained from arguing. Instead she had taken a seat beside Nea to quietly stew in a failed trial. “We’re headed out,” he spoke again to no one in particular but Ace had waved and reminded them to not stray too far.
For Claudette, she appreciated moments like this where the pressure of a trial didn’t weigh on her. Quentin, in her opinion, made for a great companion. She was grateful for his company and that while he had noticed her silent struggles he didn’t broach the subject. Instead he would ask about different plants that he'd come across during his free time. It was why they had scheduled their little scavenger trip. Just around the edge of what seemed to be a warped version of the Asylum lay an outcrop of mullein. Claudette had been ecstatic about the discovery but it was the echinacea Quentin found that truly brought a smile to her face.
Every medkit had been filled with as many plants they could pack before they had finally settled amongst the purple flowers.
“You know,” Quentin began as he continued to focus his attention on the flower crown he was idly weaving. Claudette had shown him how to do it. The one she had made was currently resting atop his brown locks. “This is the most comfortable I’ve seen you lately.” He glanced at her from the corner of his eye when she turned her head to look at him. “I didn’t want to bring it up before but I thought since you seem more yourself it would be okay.”
For a moment Claudette just stared at him. Had she been that obvious and if Quentin had noticed surely the others had as well.
“Don't worry, I don’t think anyone else noticed. Well perhaps Bill and Jake but they probably think you were just down about your trials.”
“It’s okay, I’m feeling better now,” Claudette turned her gaze away. It wasn’t a lie either. Only recently had she started to feel like herself again or as much as she could in the Entity’s realm. Her thoughts no longer came to a standstill when something reminded her of the strange encounter with the Legion.
There was a sudden gentle weight pressing down on Claudette’s head as Quentin adjusted his finished crown about her forehead. He sat back then with a smile and rubbed absentmindedly at his eyes. The poor boy was clearly tired yet had still suggested that they stock up on medical supplies though she could have done it herself. Gently Claudette reached out to tug him to lay back in the grass with her.
“Close your eyes, I’ll watch over you,” she spoke gently. Quentin’s head found her shoulder as he yawned.
“Not tired.” He shuffled closer and as if considering his next action he had carefully settled his arm over her waist and let himself relax. He had fallen asleep shortly after.
Claudette must have closed her eyes at some point as well because one moment she was staring up into the infinite night and the next thing she knew she was staring up at solid concrete. Realization hit her like a pound of bricks as her heart dropped into the pit of her stomach. She had been pulled into a trial.
Oh God, had Quentin been pulled in too?
Getting her bearings together Claudette sat up from the cold floor as her gaze fell on to the unwelcome sight of a severed pig head. Gideon Meat Plant, bottom floor. It wasn’t her favorite place to be but it was definitely better than Coldwind.
Hesitantly she got to her feet and carefully exited the room. She hadn’t seen anyone yet or heard the beginning chugging of a generator which probably meant she had started further from the others than she would have liked. At least she hadn’t run into any Jigsaw boxes. She did however come upon a generator. Giving a quick look around her, Claudette took the backside of the machine and began working. She had been halfway done too before she heard rushed footsteps coming her way. Quickly she ducked behind a cement column briefly catching a glimpse of blue hair. Must be Feng. Staying still Claudette counted to ten but when the killer hadn’t appeared she moved back to the gen. The minute it sprung to life she hurried a few yards away before slowing down to a creep as she neared the stairs.
The plant always disoriented her when it came to remembering which set of stairs led to which section. She hoped as she climbed the first two steps that she was close to another generator. A familiar scream rang out from the upper level. Dwight. He sounded some ways away so running into the killer at the top of the stairs was unlikely. Taking the gamble Claudette pushed on, cleared the landing and crouched in a corner. Dwight screamed again, his cries echoed closer much to Claudette’s unease. Two screams in such a short amount of time meant only one thing.
Reluctant she hurried into the adjacent area and hid on the other side of a table. Stacked crates blocked most of her view but she caught a glimpse of Dwight’s red t-shirt as he was carried into another section of the plant. Once he was hooked she counted to ten then moved. With quiet steps she found Dwight staring off in the direction she assumed the killer had gone in.
“I don’t have anything to heal you with so you’re going to have to run,” Claudette said as she got the man free and wiped her hands down the front of her torn white jeans.
“T-that’s okay,” Dwight wheezed as he pressed his palm to his bleeding shoulder. “I hid a kit up on the walkway leading to that drop. I’ll fix myself up then get working on the genny over there before I jump down.” He gave a reassuring smile. Unfortunately, Claudette felt everything but reassured. He had already been hooked so early into the trial. She nodded anyways.
“Okay, just be careful.”
“I’ll do my best.”
Watching the man head off in the opposite direction Claudette let out a sigh. Without her supplies she was useless to the group when it came to healing so gen duty it was.
Finding one she got to work immediately just as another generator came to life elsewhere. Returning her attention to the wires in her hands Claudette felt hopeful. Once they got this one they would have three generators completed and with Dwight primed to get another…
Her enthusiasm was cut short as she picked up the sound of footsteps. They sounded like they were coming from the room across from her but she wasn’t sure. Letting go of the wires carefully to prevent the generator from backfiring Claudette backed away. Sidestepping around a doorway she pressed herself up against the reinforced concrete wall and waited. When she heard nothing she chanced a glance to find herself alone. A shaky breath escaped from between her lips only for a yelp to follow as someone jerked her around and shoved her hard into the wall. A knife pressed against the side of her neck but it was an all too familiar grinning visage staring down at her that made Claudette’s blood freeze.
“Hey there kitten, long time no see.”
Even after being called that the last time she had seen him Claudette still didn’t know how to react. What was she supposed to say? ‘Long time no see, killer’ seemed like the type of smartassery she expected from Meg. She decided to keep her mouth shut instead and watched as the Legion leaned in close enough that she could hear his soft pulls of breath.
“What? Don’t tell me you forgot me already,” he adopted a hurt tone as he lazily moved the flat of the hunting knife over the slope of her bare shoulder. "I sure didn’t forget about you."
There was something more unsettling about who was speaking the words than the words themselves. But Claudette had to admit that she was somewhat flattered if not just speechless.
“You didn’t?” she questioned confused.
“Don’t think I could even if I wanted to.” He brought the tip of the knife under her collarbone absentmindedly that she didn’t think he meant it as a threatening gesture or at least she hoped not. “So?”
Belatedly she realized he was waiting for her answer so quickly she forced herself to speak.
“I-I didn’t forget you,” she insisted.
“Yeah? I think you’re not just saying that."
"It’s the truth. In fact I haven't been able to stop-'' Claudette began in protest not liking the idea of being called a liar but quickly shut her mouth.
“To stop what? Thinking about me?” the Legion asked, amusement dripping off each word that she regretted speaking immediately especially as his free hand drifted along the side of her face. His thumb brushed idly over her bottom lip. “Just between you and me the feelings mutual,” he purred much to Claudette’s mortification.
It was a terrible thought to have but if he just stabbed her right now she would have been extremely grateful. She’d even let him hook her without protest if it meant the conversation would end. All of sudden a thought came to her.
“Are you feeling better? I mean your nose?” she asked and got a laugh in return that startled her.
“Yeah, actually I am. It wasn’t broken or anything. Here, feel.” The Legion grabbed her hand and with his forearm he shimmied his mask up enough to bring her hand up under it and against his face.
It still baffled Claudette just how human the Legion was compared to the other killers. She couldn’t help but marvel at the way his skin felt under hers. Her curiosity urged her on to trace the slope of his nose. He had a scar if the light uneven texture under her fingers meant anything.That made two now, she made a mental note before mapping the bone structure of his cheek. Admittedly she was so engrossed in her exploration that she hadn’t realized she had strayed from his face and to his neck. There was a tattoo there that she hadn’t noticed before and indulgently Claudette stroked the ink.
“Fuck,” a deep inhale of breath snapped her right back to reality that she nearly jumped.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to,” she made to pull her hands back but they had been grabbed in a near bruising grip as the Legion crowded her back into the wall.
“You sure about that?” the Legion’s voice was no more than a throaty whisper. His thumbs stroked the inside of her wrists in tandem drawing Claudette’s attention to his blood stained hands and the black frayed fabric secured around them.
Was that her ribbon?
She didn’t have time to give it anymore attention when the completion of a generator reverberated a few rooms away killing the tension between them. Dwight.
“Your friends sure know how to shit all over a moment don’t they?” the Legion grunted in obvious annoyance before he grabbed a hold of Claudette’s chin and waved his knife in front of her face. “Remember the rules. No kicking, no hitting, no screaming and you sure as fuck better not stab me with anything.” It was the only warning she received before her stomach lurched as she was hoisted over a shoulder.
She had nearly slipped off when he had kicked the generator violently but a hand caught around the back of her thigh keeping her in place. What she swore was a laugh jostled her slightly before the hand moved away and patted her on the butt.
“Don’t worry I’m not gonna drop ya, sweetheart.”
The promise was the least of Claudette’s concerns. Her concern was more for the fact that he was moving from room to room bypassing hooks clearly looking for something. It wasn’t until he had settled her back on to her feet that she realized what it was. A locker. He nudged her from behind.
“Get in.” And so Claudette did. “That’s a good girl. Now you stay here and I’ll be right back.”
It wasn’t as if she had a choice in the matter. There was an unspoken threat as the Legion fixed his mask back into place. Just before the doors closed Claudette’s gaze dropped down to a bullet studded belt but that’s not what caught her attention. It was the skull keychains that swung against a hip. The memory of David’s death became fresh in her mind all over again.
“Wait!” she grabbed a hold of his arm and pulled sending the Legion stumbling into the locker with her.
He laughed and encircled his arms around her, tucking her head beneath his chin. “Aw, what’s wrong missing me already?” he cooed at her. “Don’t worry baby, I’m not going to make you wait as long as you made me. Just chill here and I’ll be right back. Promise."
The warmth wrapping around her body was distracting enough that Claudette had forgotten to plead on the others' behalf. She had only remembered when the Legion had released her and closed the locker doors shut.
The altruistic part of her told her to leave and try to save the others but there was also the fear of being caught-out and killed. Self-preservation eventually won out as she covered her ears to block out the screams. It felt like hours that she sat there before one of the doors were pulled open. Quickly Claudette stood expecting to see the Legion only to be surprised by a bloody Feng who looked just as surprised.
“Feng, you’re alright,” she breathed a sigh of relief.
“Of course I am,” the raven haired girl gave a smug grin despite the obvious exhaustion.
“Here, get in.”
Just as they got the doors pulled shut a yell rang out.
“Adam” Feng whispered before she moved onto her toes to peeked through the locker slats. “Dwight’s already dead. The killer brought an ebony but I have a key.” With a breath she grabbed Claudette’s hand and rushed out. “Come on, the hatch should be downstairs.”
“Are you sure Adam’s dead? The hatch won't spawn if he's still alive.” Claudette asked following after the Chinese girl who glanced back at her.
“He will be.”
And as if on cue the man’s cries of pain echoed through the plant spurring them to pick up their pace.
They had just made it downstairs by the time Claudette heard the tell-tale sign of the Legion picking up speed. Somehow he knew where they were and at the rate they were going they were going to get caught before they found the hatch. There was no time to tell Feng about her plan so as impulsive as it was to do Claudette let go of the girl
"Go!" she urged when Feng made to protest.
Luckily the girl clearly understood and ran for it as Claudette spun around. She just needed him to see her. It would buy Feng some time.
When the Legion came barreling around one of the concrete pillars she darted off to the right.
“Hey!” he shouted following right behind her.
Claudette felt her heart was going to burst from her chest at any moment as she tore through the rooms. Even as she vaulted an open window and cut through a doorway on the left she could still hear him right behind her. He was going to catch up to her.
In the distance something clicked before the groaning of metal cut through the chaos of her mind. Feng had found the hatch. If the continuous sharp gust of air meant anything then it should be up ahead and to the left. Escape seemed guaranteed when Claudette turned the corner to see Feng about to jump. Of course that was until a hand caught a fistful of her sleeve and yanked. The sudden force tripped her up but it was the body colliding into her from behind that threw Claudette’s balance off. A sharp pain shot up her leg as her boot twisted and she crashed hard into the floor. The Legion fell right with her as he yelled out in pain and grabbed at his head thrashing around like a wild animal.
Self-preservation kicked in again as Claudette crawled backwards away from him in fear.
“Fuck…” he rasped and reached out for her. “Wait.”
Before Claudette could react she was pulled backwards and then everything went black.
Chapter 3: Noise
Frank's anger rears its ugly head after the incident at Gideon Meat Plant much to the Entity's pleasure and to the detriment of everyone else.
This is your captain speaking. If you cannot swim please remain at the center most part of the ship and remember to wear your life vest at all times. I will not be held accountable for your well being. We are headed into turbulent waters.
In all seriousness I appreciate all of you guys and your kind words. It truly makes my day. Enjoy.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
If Frank Morrison could kill someone right now he would do it in an instant. A couple of potential victims came to mind, specifically that blue haired bitch with the pigtails but as things currently sat he’d have to wait for the chance. For now he was doing his best to not pass out as he heaved violently once again into the battered sink. His whole damn body felt like it was on fire though his lungs seemed to have taken the brunt of it. It was blind rage alone that had allowed him to ignore the violent spasms that ran through him as he made his way back to the resort.
Grabbing a hold of the basin in a white knuckle grip he heaved once more and spat the last traces of blood into the stained porcelain. Apparently they could extend their frenzy, it just had consequences. For Frank it had almost been worth it. His fingers twitched at the thought.
So close. So damn close.
Agitated, Frank twisted the faucet on. The water sputtered for a few seconds before settling into a pressured stream that washed the remaining remnants of blood down the drain. It never failed to amaze him that no matter how unnatural the Fog was they still had clean running water. Bending over, he took in a mouthful, swished and then spat before straightening up again only to pause at the sight of his reflection. Cold, empty eyes stared back at him like a void. Bracing his hands on either side of the mirror, he leaned in. Claudette had that same look when he found her hiding in Ironworks. He hated that damn look.
“You poor, pathetic fuck.” He reared his fist back and sent it into the reflective glass.
There was something satisfying in the flash of pain that danced up his arm as spidery fissures splintered out over the mirror’s surface. Sure it would be as if he never touched it later on but for now Frank felt less empty.
“Frank?” a muffled voice followed by a knock came from the other side of the door. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah, just give me a minute," he called back as he looked down at his bloody knuckles.
Well shit, good job Morrison.
Quickly, he unwrapped the black fabric from around his hand and turned the water back on. Luckily the cuts were shallow enough that he had been able to just do a quick rinse before grabbing a paper towel from the dispensary. With experience Frank folded the brown paper, pressed it against his knuckles and rewrapped his hand. It was a crude job but his bandages were in his room and he wasn't in the mood to deal with Susie's fussing. Pushing his mask back down Frank moved over to the door and pulled it open to find the girl standing there.
"You know there's like two other bathrooms in this place, right?" he asked flippantly.
Susie lowered her gaze from his mask as she pulled at the cuff of an oversized sleeve."I didn't need to go."
"No shit? Then why are you bothering me? Joey's not back yet," Frank huffed as he stepped around the pink haired girl intent on going to his room. He really wasn't in the mood to give her his best rendition of his usual devil may care attitude.
Unfortunately Susie wasn't getting the memo.
"I know he's not here…" she began a bit shakily. "I just wanted to make sure you were okay. I saw you when you arrived and…"
The words gave him pause but he didn't turn around. He could practically hear her grinding her braces together in thought.
"If you want to talk about it, you know I'm here for you...right?"
He hadn't done a single thing to her yet there Frank was, feeling guilty. He turned to find her staring at the floor. Typical. Why did she always pick the worst times to be a pain in his ass?
“Hey, braces,” he called and despite the residual pain still dancing along his nerves held his arms open.
Without fail Susie lifted her head up and upon seeing his gesture hurried to wrap her arms tightly around his waist. Though Frank wasn’t in the mood to be touched he couldn’t help but appreciate the reciprocated affection. As much shit as he gave the girl he did have a tender spot for her. Susie was the little sister he never had.
“I got the quad today,” Susie spoke excitedly as she rubbed her cheek against his jacket.
“Really?” he pushed her back gently by the shoulders to look at her.
“Mhm. I mean I had some trouble in the beginning but then I just…” Susie made quick stabbing motions towards his chest that he had laughed and pushed her further away from him.
“Easy there braces. Save that excitement for when Joey gets back. You can tell him all about how you made them your bitch.”
Susie’s face fell instantly as she dropped her hand to her side. “Don’t you want to hear about it too?”
He sighed. “Maybe later. My fucking head is killing me so I’m going to lay low for a bit,” he waved his hand dismissively and turned back in the direction of his room.
“You still have your mask on Frank,” Susie’s voice stopped him again. “You’ve been doing that as of late and you only do that when you’re mad.”
If it had been any other time Frank would have spun around and unleashed on the girl. Instead he continued on to his room and slammed the door shut behind him. As a precaution he flipped the lock. The last thing he needed or wanted was someone inviting themselves in because Susie couldn’t keep her mouth shut.
Pulling his knife from his belt, he dropped it onto the beat up oak dresser. With sluggish movements he started on his leather jacket. The grey zip up hoodie was the next to be dropped somewhere on the floor followed shortly by his shoes before he dropped heavily on to the bed. Carefully he unwrapped his right hand to peel the soaked through paper towel away to see that his knuckles for the most part had already healed. If there was one thing he liked about the Fog it was the fact he wouldn’t have to deal with anymore scars.
With an exasperated breath he finally removed his mask to stare down at it. The blood stained, garish smile stared back up at him with the same empty eyes he saw back in the bathroom.
“What the fuck are you smiling about,” he muttered in distaste and tossed it onto the bedside table in favor of his walkman.
Adjusting the headphones over his ears he scrolled his finger over the volume wheel until he met resistance then pressed play. It was almost automatic that his muscles relaxed themselves as an aggressive percussion thundered in his head. The others had never got his taste in music. Said they couldn’t understand how he could stand listening to such ‘noise’. Noise. That’s what all his foster parents had called what he listened to. It was as if no one could see that there was meaning behind all those distortions and wild drumming. Those noises were what stood between Frank and complete self-destruction. They were what was currently keeping him from tearing the resort apart and screaming what was left of his soul into his pillow.
To think he had been so fucking relieved to see her again. Happy even.
Jesus, when was the last time he had been truly happy? Fourteen, no maybe fifteen years ago? Hell, even his relationship with Julie never elicited much out of him aside from the occasional moments where he didn’t feel like he was drowning in his own apathy. But Frank had never expected much when she attached herself to his hip. Despite some of the things he did he wasn't stupid. To Julie he was no more than a meal ticket out of Ormond, a walking “fuck you” to her parents because of some bullshit self-entitlement issues that stemmed from her slightly above average looks. Well he got her out of Ormond alright.
Never got a fucking thank you either. Claudette had been more grateful over him finding a shitty pair of glasses.
Dragging a hand through his hair, Frank paused as something soft brushed along his forehead. Holding his hand above his face he stared at the black fabric secured around his palm and frowned. He could feel the threads holding his anger at bay begin to give.
She would have stayed. It wasn't her fault.
He wanted to believe that. Needed to believe it but he had a shaky history. No one had ever wanted him for him. Even those fake smiling faces in the foster care office never truly wanted him. He always got sent back eventually. They were just as bad as Clive. The irony of it all? The only one to ever smile at him so genuinely had been someone he routinely victimized. The thought was almost too painful to laugh at.
If only he had killed the others sooner.
Closing his eyes Frank brought his hand against his face, retracing the same path Claudette had along the bridge of his nose. She had nice hands. There was an uptick of his pulse just as a distorted drum solo had flooded through his headphones at the same time his fingers skimmed over his lips. The longer he kept his eyes closed remembering the feeling of her skin on his, the lower his hand traveled. His thumb pressed along his tattoo with moderate pressure eliciting a groan from between his lips.
Something whispered in the back of his mind. His nails dug slightly into his flesh.
Why did she have to leave the locker?
If only he had gotten to her sooner.
As his palm pressed against his chest Frank tried to tune out the voice. Tried to envision warm skin against his own.
Punish. Suffer. You must make her suffer.
“Shut the fuck up,” he hissed tugging his shirt up around his ribs while one of his hands zigzagged for his belt. His heartbeat was becoming just as erratic as his breathing. It was beginning to become impossible to distinguish what was the music and what wasn’t.
Rectify this matter. Pain. Make her despair.
As if he had been struck by lightning Frank bolted up from bed. Like a possessed man he yanked his discarded jackets back up over his arms, shoved his feet back into his shoes, grabbed his mask and knife and bolted from his room. He hadn’t even noticed Joey coming through the west entrance of the resort as he jumped the upstairs railing.
The only thing he was aware of was the fact that his music was mirroring his frantic state as he jogged out into the snow. The whispers were louder now. Taunting and prodding all at once.
Foolish boy. Here you are someone. Remember.
The pain in his head was coming back but the voice wouldn't shut up. It was incessantly loud.
Kill her. Devour. Let her feel your pain.
His feet had moved on their own, carrying him out towards thick foggy walls and he allowed it. As he stepped into the cold mist he felt his anger crash down onto him like a broken dam. Tightening his grip along the handle of his knife, Frank ran.
Joey was the one who eventually found him sitting out behind a broken wall though Frank didn’t remember ever coming back to Mount Ormond. To be honest he couldn’t even recall where he had been. The only thing he knew was that his hands were caked with thick, crusted blood. In fact he could feel patches of it along his neck and down his shirt. Apparently he had had some fun.
Unlike Julie and Susie who had to some extent been understandably freaked out Joey had remained silent. The only noises he did make were the occasional grunts from hefting Frank up over his shoulders and getting him undressed and put into bed.
“Not going to bitch me out too?” Frank asked snidely as he rolled on to his side.
There was a half-hearted shrug of shoulders as Joey dropped into the worn armchair that faced
“You’re a pain in my ass Frank.”
He raised his brows in amusement. “Yeah?”
Unlike with most people Frank couldn’t stand sitting in silence but with Joey it was nice. There was never the fear of wondering if the conversation was going to go somewhere he didn’t want. This was one of the few things he was always certain about. Joey wouldn't talk unless he wanted to.
“Hey,” he called gently as he tucked an arm under his head. “You know how we all sometimes hear strange things?”
Joey leaned back in his seat and crossed his arms over his chest. “You mean the voices?”
“Yeah, I guess. They ever get so loud that you can’t think?”
“A few times,” Joey admitted before he tilted his head in apparent thought but it was hard to tell when he still had his mask on. “Is that why you ran out of here like a bat out of hell?"
“I just needed to clear my head. I thought a walk would help,” Frank answered though admittedly he hadn’t exactly been aware of most of his actions but Joey didn’t need to know that.
“How’d that work out for you?”
“Good? Think I got pulled into a trial though.”
Joey let out a sigh. “What do you mean you think?”
“I don’t know,” Frank frowned and rolled over to his back to scrub his hands over his face. “But I’m better, I feel better. Just needed to work some shit out.”
“Thanks for dragging my ass up the stairs Joey. I can always count on you,” he spoke suddenly to get a rueful laugh.
“That’s my cue to leave then,” Joey pushed himself up on to his feet and stretched. “If you need something just hollar ok?” he instructed as he opened the door.
Jutting his thumb up into the air, Frank rolled over and grabbed his walkman as he listened to the door close. Pulling the headphones on he checked the volume once more and pressed play before he yanked the blankets up and over his head.
Two more trials had come and gone since the incident at Gideon's and while Frank was still angry he had somehow managed to tune out the Entity’s incessant badgering. There was a part of him that was aware that the whispers would probably never go away fully but as long as he could hear himself think he was fine.
He had begun taking his mixtape into trials as well much to the detriment of the survivors. If they thought they hated him for the whole mori fiasco they had another thing to be pissed at him for. It was as if the longer he listened to his music the quicker he was easily agitated into a frenzy and the longer he was able to retain it before his body rebelled. He had forced the survivors into an infinite loop of mending with how deep he kept cutting until he finally just slugged them and let them bleed out in the swamp. At the farm he was more charitable with the hooks. He had even humored the red head into looping him for two gens before he had hopped the pallet and snatched her by one of braided pigtails. The look on her face was priceless.
Looking from where he was perched outside on a broken snowcat he noticed the building of fog reaching out for him. Rewinding his tape he jumped down to the ground and let the Entity spirit him off.
Raucous percussion and warped reverbs seemed to echo out into the empty classroom as Frank waved the lingering plumes of fog from his vision. Great, the preschool. He never had a great relationship with the educational system even when he was younger. To compound his aversion for anything school related this one just had to be associated with a pedophile. The quicker he finished the trial, the better.
Turning for the exit he flinched as a burning sensation ebbed along his wrist. It was a feeling he had seldom dealt with but he knew by now that if he pulled his sleeve up he’d find the strange spider legs of the Entity burned into his flesh.
Well looky there. He had himself an obsession.
Lowering the volume somewhat, Frank left the classroom and headed down the hall. Not long after the Badham realm had been created he had learned that the chances of a survivor starting in the boiler room was almost a given and something was pulling him in that direction. Unsheathing his knife he found the stairs and began his descent. He had been halfway there only for a generator exploding just outside of the building to stop him in his tracks.
When he didn’t hear the hurried steps of a survivor he turned around and headed back upstairs. The low churning of the generator told him someone was still there. Slipping out the opposite door he moved around the corner to catch sight of blue hair.
Either he was a lucky bastard or the Entity was over the moon with his recent trials. Either way Frank wasn’t going to let the opportunity pass him by.
With vengeance he ran forward and sunk the hunting knife into a bony shoulder. Feng cried out as she sprang away from him.
That’s right you blue haired bitch, you better run.
Giving the generator a good kick Frank sprinted after her, rounding the chain link fence like a wild animal. She could run all she wanted because as far as he was concerned she was already dead. He was going to chop off one of those ponytails and attach it to a keychain before he gutted her and tossed her up on a hook to bleed out.
As he picked up speed someone ran behind the ambulance in the distance but his attention was solely on Feng who headed for one of the houses. Strangely enough she hadn’t ran inside. Instead she hustled around the truck, once, twice and on the third go around she threw the pallet down. Frank awarded her efforts by vaulting it and sinking his blade into her side. She stumbled forward before crumpling in the driveway.
Moving his headphones down around his neck he wedged his foot under Feng’s ribs and forced her over onto her back. Seeing her face this close had only seemed to renew his hate for her no matter how petty it might have seemed.
“Hurts doesn’t it?” he asked before he threw a leg over her and crouched down.
The young woman’s ragged breath was his only reply but that was fine with him. Her talking would have only served to piss him off more than he already was. He on the other hand had plenty left to say. Lazily he brought his knife against her cheek and pressed just enough to break the skin. A pitiful whimper filtered out between trembling lips much to his amusement.
“What was that? Can’t hear you over the music.” His fisted a hold of hair and yanked her head up none too gently.
A palm caught him in the throat in retaliation and while it wasn’t the hardest strike he had ever had the displeasure of taking it was enough to send him sputtering and toppling off to the side. With renewed strength, Feng fumbled to her feet with all the grace of a newborn deer and ran.
Oh how he wished he had brought a mori with him. He’d love nothing more to turn her into a human pincushion when he caught her again but in a way this worked for him. She’d have to mend herself up before she did anything unless she wanted to bleed out and with how deep he had gotten the second strike she didn’t have long.
Massaging his abused throat, Frank threw a glance around. The sharp ping of a powered generator sounded somewhere back near the school and so that’s where he headed. Or would have. He had been halfway there when a woman in a bloody pinstripe pantsuit called out to him. If it wasn’t for the fact that she was waving him over frantically he would have sworn she was fucking with him.
“Hey you, come and help me with this thing,” the woman spoke in a distinct Latino accent.
She had to be new.
Turning around towards her, Frank wondered how long it would take her to figure out he wasn’t a survivor. Her lips pursed as he drew closer to the generator she was crouched in front of, her eyes darting to his right hand.
“I thought the others said we couldn’t get weapons.”
“Oh this?” Frank waved the blade slightly as he joined her beside the generator. “You can’t but I can...perks of being the killer” he struck out at her but the woman fell back on to her butt just barely escaping a blade in the face.
“What the hell you psycho?” the woman scurried backwards along the asphalt.
“Says the dumb bitch who invited said psycho over,” Frank taunted as he drew himself up to follow after her.
“Jane, run!” an all too familiar voice had him whipping around as his wrist began to burn viciously.
For a moment everything had seemed to slow down as Frank’s gaze settled on Claudette standing at the edge of the street. Her white shirt was filthy, stained with fresh blood which meant Feng was probably somewhere all patched up and doing a gen.
A harsh whisper rang out in his head as he slowly started forward.
Kill her. Make her pay.
As he drew closer he could see the rising and falling of Claudette’s chest. The way she just barely slid a foot back into the loose gravel. At the last possible minute she turned and took off. He followed just as quickly if not quicker as his body temperature spiked. It wasn't his original intention but now Frank wanted to fucking kill her.
Claudette had barely gotten inside of the school by the time he was practically on top of her. His hand caught a fistful of her dreads before he swung her into the wall rattling the nearby bulletin board. The edge of his hunting knife found its way against her throat as he stared down at her, both of them panting.
“We gotta stop meeting like this, babe,” he deadpanned before he pressed closer against the girl who let out a sharp breath. “But then again, where’s the fun in that?”
To his annoyance he was left with silence as if her eyes darting away from him wasn’t enough. With just enough force, Frank dug the tip of his knife just under her chin earning a sharp cry as Claudette tried to lean away. He grinned when her eyes finally snapped up to look at him.
“That’s a good girl but that doesn’t mean I’m any less further from putting this knife through your skull,” he taunted, his voice shook slightly as he tried to contain his anger.
“Please don't,” Claudette protested as she reached up and wrapped her hand around his wrist. The sudden movement sent the blade scratching along her skin drawing blood. She winced and tilted her head back but otherwise remained still. “I-I’m sorry” her apology tumbled out. “I tried to stay but then Feng found me. What was I supposed to do?”
“I thought maybe if I could get her out safe-”
She deceives you. End this.
“Don’t you ever shut the fuck up?” Frank snarled as he drove his knife into the drywall just beside her head before he had even realized what he was doing. His outburst had evidently been enough to quiet the loud whispers but now he was left with a girl nearly in tears cowering away from him. “Hey” he reached out only to jerk back when something slashed across his palm.
Looking down at his hand Frank blinked. Well shit, he was bleeding. Of course he was bleeding. Claudette had been marked as his obsession this go round which only meant she had something sharp on her person. He laughed feeling less angry than he had originally.
“You know kitten,” he began wiping his hand down the side of his mask before he boxed her in. “If you needed something to scratch I would have gladly offered up my back.”
“What?” Claudette’s brows rose.
Leaning in for her ear, Frank yanked the hunting knife out of the wall.
“Come on sweetheart, you’re a smart girl. You figure it out. I’ll give you some time.”
There was a harsh shove at his shoulders along with a kick to his thigh the minute he slashed her in the side. Nothing too deep but it was enough to convince Claudette to get as far away from him as she possibly could. It reminded him of Ironworks but this time his actions were purely selfish. She wasn’t going to lead him to the others which meant all Frank had to do was go the opposite way and find them himself.
Fixing his headphones back in place he took a deep breath and tilted his head. Two people were on a generator, he could feel it. All he had to do was walk out of the school and he’d be able to hear them. Intuition proved him right. He found the blonde country girl and the woman from before rushing their way through repairing a generator. They had tried to shake him by zigzagging around the trees but that had been their mistake. Criss-crossing in front of each other only fed into his frenzy and made it possible for him to chain his hits together. One hit, two hit, three hit, four. Jane went down hard with a scream.
Wiping his knife clean on the breast of his letterman jacket, Frank bent down beside her head.
“What was that you were saying about me being a psycho again?” he asked conversationally to get an indignant look.
“You’re all crazy. This entire place is crazy,” Jane spat as she tried to push herself up on her elbows and look around.
Frank followed her gaze back over to the street and grinned behind his mask. “She’s not coming.”
“Who are y-”
“Kitten,” Frank said. “She’s not coming to save you like she did last time. You see we have a special thing going on between us and you’re cutting in on our time.”
The woman looked somewhere between incredulous and disgusted but the look had quickly dissolved to fear and then excruciating pain when he got her up on a hook. He wondered if she had been warned against struggling.
The Entity had descended on her the minute he cut back across the street and hopped the picket fence having caught sight of blue hair.
Feng may have been fully healed but she was still at a disadvantage when Frank allowed his music to rile him up again. To her credit she had nearly lost him when she ducked inside the preschool’s back entrance only to take a sharp right and exit out the side. Eventually he caught up to her, digging his knife into the same bandaged up shoulder as an insult to injury. By the time she had ran him around the dilapidated shack it was apparent the blood loss was getting to her. She had practically tripped over the open window when she went to vault it allowing Frank to grab her by the the back of her shirt and yank.
Something akin to a twig snapping cut into the charged air. As Frank released her and looked down he realized why. By the looks of the violent angle of her hand and the way her radius bone jutted out to the side it was safe to say she had broken her wrist. And if her mewling was anything to go by it hurt.
“Bad break huh?”
He knew it was tacky to say but he couldn’t help himself. Being vindictive was part of his nature.
“Here, get up,” he jerked her up on to her feet drawing a shriek from her.
“Get off of me!”
A hand came flying but this time he was ready for her going for his neck and side stepped the blow. With a grip still on her other arm he yanked it behind her back and stabbed her one good time. As her muscles tensed Frank decided he wasn’t going to hook her. He wasn’t even going to cut her hair off. He was just going to let her bleed out. Just when she collapsed a generator popped in completion.
Two generators done, two survivors left. One more gen done and they were going to get a hatch play. He had to get back to the school.
He had just stepped into the building when a third generator roared to life.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” a moment of panic hit Frank like a ton of bricks.
Where the hell was the other one? Where the hell was Claudette.
With rushed steps he skipped several steps to get down into the boiler room just in time to see the hatch spawn. Aside from the roaring fire and clattering pipes it was silent but he still descended down into the basement to check the lockers before hurrying back up. There hadn’t been any signs of anyone on his way back from the shack which meant they had to have been at the house. Sprinting up the stairs he tore out the front entrance catching sight of the blonde running right towards him though her attention was off to her left.
Taking advantage of her distraction Frank picked up his pace, raised his knife and swung. The made contact almost immediately.
“Claudette!” the shriek had pulled him from his thoughts and for a second Frank stood there trying to process why the blonde was laid out on her ass several feet from him despite the fact his knife had clearly struck something. A shoulder to be accurate. A white covered shoulder at that.
Reluctantly he looked down to find Claudette slowly reaching for the wound as hot crimson spread its way through the fabric of her shirt, dying it a bright red. She looked as surprised as he felt.
“I-it’s okay,” Claudette took a painful breath as she staggered backwards. Frank didn’t know who those words were for. If it was for him he sure the hell didn’t feel any better. Not even when she had pulled her shoulders back and turned towards her friend.
“Hurry and run Kate. I’ll be right behind you.”
As much as it was apparent the young woman didn’t exactly believe that it would be that easy she scrambled up to her feet and ran. Claudette took off in the other direction surprisingly still nimble. It wasn’t an ideal situation but Frank didn’t have time to piss away and so he followed after the blonde. The faster he caught her the faster he could get back to Claudette.
Kate had been too out of it to properly navigate where she was going. She tripped over her own feet, neglected throwing pallets and was an overall mess when he finally downed her. Luckily she had taken him right to a hook so that was where Frank left her swinging.
It was only then that the Entity decided to return, drowning out his music with its caterwauling. Doing his damndest to ignore the demanding and taunting whispers, Frank booked it for the boiler room. He forewent the stairs and instead jumped down the hole in the middle of the hallway floor to see Claudette nearing the howling hatch. If he had been angry before he was damn near furious as he caught her around the waist and hauled her off her feet. As expected Claudette screamed out in protest and reached for the waistband of her shorts in an attempt to free whatever she had used to cut him before. She was going to try to land a decisive strike but Frank was faster. He found the jagged metal and threw it down the hatch before he dumped the girl on to the dirty mattress behind them. Angrily he followed after her and pinned her down.
“You said you’d wait,” he hissed venomously and just like that Claudette had stilled under him.
“I-” she began only to turn her head away.
“Look at me.”
Frank forced her head back with a tight grip on her chin to see unshed tears well up in her eyes. He felt guilty but he’d be damned if he just let her go again. For a second he just stared at before he trailed his fingers over her lips and down to her neck. When he had tugged at the collar of her shirt she tensed and bucked against him.
“D-don’t” she warned weakly.
“What? I’m not a fucking creep,” he snapped as he carefully pulled at the soaked fabric to get a better look at the still bleeding, inflamed wound. “I just want to see how bad it is.” He added somewhat late. “I wasn’t aiming for you.”
“I know...it’s why I jumped in front of you,” Claudette admitted, rubbing at her eyes as he sat back. “It seemed like a good idea at the time but now…” her voice trailed off brokenly.
Instinctively Frank pulled her up and against his chest to get his arms around her. Surprisingly she went willingly, the fight having left her. He could feel her fingers curling into the back of his jacket and the way her heart beat against his own as she sobbed breathlessly. The fact that the skin at the back of her neck felt clammy was something he chose to ignore. Instead he rubbed small circles along her back willing her to calm down. Eventually she had.
“Hm...is that music?” Claudette’s breath ghosted over his throat when she tilted her head up.
Music? That’s right, his mixtape was still playing.
“Yeah,” he removed his headphones from around his neck with a hand. “You want to listen?”
The girl nodded eagerly and just as eagerly Frank had slipped them over her ears. He had fully expected her to wrinkle her nose and throw an insult but she hadn’t. Instead Claudette pulled her head back and smiled brightly at him.
That fucking smile gave him goosebumps.
“I haven’t listened to music in forever,” she sighed contently before pressing her face back against his shoulder. Her arms tightened around him. “Thank you.”
It wasn’t until he couldn’t feel Claudette’s shallow breaths that Frank realized the Entity had finally shut up.
I don't know what I'm doing. If you guys have any suggestions of where you'd like to see this go please feel free to leave me a comment.
Chapter 4: Read the Label
After the events at Badham, Claudette tries to regain her balance.
There was something about dying that you never got used to or maybe it was the part where you were reanimated. Claudette wasn’t sure as her eyes snapped open and she painfully gasped for air. From the base of her scalp down to her toes, pain pulsed through her body and in response she curled up tighter on her side. Aside from the stray beams of light and radiating circles dancing in front of her, her vision was blurry making it near impossible to place her current location but she knew one thing for certain. She was back at the campfire. Relief should have flooded through her at the revelation but all she seemed to feel at that moment was miserable.
Pressing the heels of her palms against her eyes she tried to ignore the wave of emotion that began to well up in her chest. She wasn’t going to cry. There wasn’t any reason to. If anything she should be smiling, laughing even. She had heard music for the first time in what seemed like forever. The Legion had been kind enough to allow her the opportunity to try on his headphones as he sat there with his arms around her. Though the situation was far from ideal it was still, in some unsettling way, nice.
At the thought Claudette finally pulled her hands away and sat up just as the darkened space of the tent was filled with flickering firelight. A head poked through the opened flap before someone crawled in blocking out most of the light. Without her glasses she could only vaguely discern who it was. One of the guys, that’s as much as she could tell as she blinked in attempt to focus.
“Hey,” a soft voice called out to her.
Quentin. Slowly the relief she should have felt earlier was beginning to take root.
“You’re finally up,” he shuffled over to sit in front of her. “I was starting to get worried. We all were.”
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to worry anyone,” Claudette apologized. “I guess the last trial sort of took a lot out of me. But I feel better now,” she added as she fidgeted around with the light blanket at her side only to stop when her fingers came in contact with something much thicker than the blanket. Grabbing it, she brought it up to her face.
“Oh, I must have left my beanie in here with you during my shift,” Quentin explained somewhat but he didn’t move to take it back. Instead he reached for the pocket of his shirt. “Speaking of which...I have your glasses,” he spoke as he retrieved the blue frames which he unfolded before carefully leaning forward to settle the legs over Claudette’s ears putting everything back into focus.
“Honestly I don’t know what I would do with you. Thank you,” Claudette smiled.
“You seemed to be doing well on your own before I got here. Besides, you would have done the same for me.”
The forlorn tone in his voice didn’t go over Claudette’s head despite her mind still being slightly foggy. Wordlessly she held her arms out to be eyed with wariness before Quentin was accepting her embrace and squeezing her tightly. He must have been really worried about her. Just thinking about it made her feel terrible. From the many times they had spoken there were two things that were the most apparent. He absolutely hated to sleep alone and he was afraid of losing another person he cared about.
“Don’t worry Quentin, everything’s going to be alright,” she rubbed a hand from his nape to his back and up again to get a light sniff before the body against hers shifted and sat back.
“Yeah, I know. It’s just…” eyes diverted from her face.
They both knew what wasn’t being said and to be honest it was for the best. There was enough spoken baggage already. They could afford to keep some things from out in the open. Taking a hold of the beanie in her possession, Claudette pulled it down onto a messy head of curls and gave what she hoped was her best smile.
“Come on. I should probably let the others know I’m up now,” she decided to get a smile in return before they left the shelter of the tent.
The vertigo that accompanied being back up on her feet after a death experience was always unwelcomed. It made her unsure of her steps but thankfully she didn’t have to go far as the minute Kate saw her, the songstress was crossing the camp to pull her into a hug.
“Aren’t you a sight for sore eyes!” Kate whooped dancing Claudette in a circle. “Thought we’d have to get someone here to kiss you to wake you, Sleeping Beauty. You gave us all a scare when we found you knocked out in the woods. I would have dragged you back myself too but luckily David came back around the same time and carried you.”
Of course she was knocked out even after being revitalized. Why did it seem that she could never have a normal trial anymore? Oh right. The Legion.
In an act of comfort, Claudette patted a tattooed arm as she glanced over to Quentin who looked mildly amused. Kate was squeezing her a bit too hard, not that she blamed the older woman. She just seemed so predisposed to mother hen her at times which she honestly didn’t mind. The genuine care was heartwarming.
“I’m sorry, it wasn’t my intention but it’s good to see you’re okay Kate,” Claudette spoke as she was finally released.
“Of course I’m okay. Just as happy as I can be, darlin’. You know me. One bad trial isn’t enough to get me down. I was hoping you’d get the hatch though.”
“Yeah...me too but it’s alright. I’ll just have to do better next time.”
“Now that’s the spirit. Can’t have you all mopey like Quentin and Jake,” Kate teased as she pulled Claudette along towards the campfire.
“I’m not mopey,” Quentin protested as he settled himself on a log to get a smile.
“Course not sweetheart. I’m just makin’ fun.”
As Kate continued to tease Quentin about his lack of a sunny disposition, Claudette couldn’t help but notice that the campfire and the immediate space around it was empty. Aside from Jeff, who seemed lost in thought as he was hunched over a beat up sketchbook, there was no one around but them.
“Where is everyone?” she asked concerned.
“Oh that’s right,” Kate spoke as if just remembering something. “It seems like the Entity wanted some of us to pull double duty so it’s just us four and then you got Nea and Feng asleep in one of the other tents and those other two…”
“Adam and Jake went scavenging not too long ago,” Quentin supplied helpfully as a yawn escaped him.
The last part had caught Claudette’s attention. Jake had willingly taken someone along to scavenge with him? As much flack that her fellow survivor got for his aloof ways he wasn’t exactly antisocial yet she still was a bit taken aback. Jake usually went out on his own if he didn’t ask her to accompany him. She must have had a look on her face for Quentin to give her a knowing smile.
“It wasn’t his idea. Adam told him there was no sense in him skulking outside your tent when it wasn’t his turn to look after you and pretty much dragged him off to see if they could find anything for the toolboxes,”
“Adam did have a point,” Kate insisted but Claudette was already walking towards the nearest treeline to hear the rest of what she was saying.
It wasn't until she was a good ways away from the campfire that she realized she should have asked about which direction the pair had headed off into. Being impulsive wasn’t in her nature but then again she was still a bit out of it. A sudden wave of dizziness stopped her in her tracks. She probably should have just waited but it was a bit too late for that. Not wanting to push her luck she sat down against a tree and drew her knees up against her chest. She just needed to focus on her breathing and she would be fine. Burying her head in her arms, she closed her eyes. It would be alright if she rested a bit longer. If one could look past the strangeness of being in the Entity's realm sitting in the woods was almost calming. Claudette had always enjoyed the outdoors and now she had an abundance of nature around her. All she was missing was some music.
Oh music. What she would give to hear those reverberating beats again. How did the melody go? Claudette started with a short hum as her fingers tried to tap out the beat along her knee. Music was never her forte but she was certain she had at least remembered the overall flow before the sound of a branch snapping alerted her.
Quickly opening her eyes she turned her head and looked up to find Jake standing beside the tree staring down at her. Oh God he must have thought she had lost her mind sitting in the middle of the woods making strange noises with her head buried in her arms.
“Um, hi,” she greeted him.
There was a few more seconds of long staring before Jake finally placed the load in his arms down beside the tree, stepped around it and crouched before Claudette’s feet.
“What are you doing out here?” he questioned gently.
“Looking for you.”
“Why? I was going to come back.”
Neither one of them had broken eye contact but Jake was the first one to move as he brought his right hand up to his mouth and gripped the fabric covering his index finger between his teeth and pulled. With his hand free of his glove he reached out and placed his palm against Claudette’s cheek. It might have been a simple gesture but between them it held so much meaning. It was Jake’s way of communicating things he couldn’t or wouldn’t say.
I’m here and I’m not going anywhere.
Reaching up, Claudette grabbed a hold of his wrist and pressed her face further against his hand.
“You’re warm,” she mused.
“Gloves help with that,” the subtle tones of teasing were there as she released his hand.
“I guess three layers of clothing helps too.”
Jake pushed himself up to his feet, grabbed the hem of his jacket and pulled it up along with the blue dress shirt and white thermal shirt he wore underneath to expose black fabric.
“Four,” he said.
With a small laugh Claudette stood and dusted herself off before looking around.
“I thought the others said you were with Adam. Where is he?” she wondered as the other had pulled his glove back on and went to retrieve his things.
“I left him,” Jake answered unapologetically before a low fog began rolling in. “What were you humming by the way?” The question caught her off guard as they began heading back towards camp.
“I-it was just a song I remembered. I guess it was stuck in my head.”
Whether Jake was satisfied with the answer or not he didn’t say and so Claudette just enjoyed the companionable silence that fell between them. When they arrived back to the campfire they had found Adam already back before the first group had returned from their trial. Meg had been the first to notice her followed by Ace and Dwight. Bill, not to anyone's surprise had stayed behind and based on Meg’s colorful recap of dealing with The Cannibal, was sacrificed. Once everyone had settled down Claudette had found herself swamped with questions and though the concern was nice it wasn’t something she really wanted to talk about. Jake had all but abandoned her as he had beelined it to his usual spot leaving her with a pat on her shoulder that basically said you’re on your own.
Luckily her opportunity for escape had come in the form of none other than David King. The minute he had returned and saw her he had practically hauled her off of her feet and crushed her in a bear hug.
“It’s nice to see you too, David,” she greeted him with a hug of considerably less force.
“It may be nice for you, love but I’m bloody well chuffed to be seeing you up and about again,” David snorted as he finally settled her back down as his hands went to her face. “Gave us a right scare you did. Alright?"
“I feel much better now. Don’t you know a hug from David King has the same calming properties as lavender and passionflower?” Claudette asked to get a bemused look in return.
“Now you know me, pet. Know bugger all about flowers but if there is one thing I am, it's passionate.”
Despite his abrasive ways, David was endearingly sweet or at least Claudette thought so. Of course it sort of helped that he seemed insistent in sharing her company. It wasn’t as if David never tried to communicate with her in the past, they just weren’t what you would call the best of friends. Nowadays he appeared interested in remedying that not that she minded in the least. He was a good distraction from her mind outside of their trials and while he couldn’t tell her a thing about the vegetation in England aside from the basics, he made up for it by telling her about Manchester. More specifically, about his life there. It gave Claudette something to look forward to when neither one of them were spirited off to a trial or David wasn’t engaging in some petty argument with the others.
Sadly, despite all the attention it wasn’t enough to detract from the fact that every now and again Claudette would catch Jane staring at her. It was odd. Ever since their trial together at Badham Preschool the talk show host kept staring at her. Was she mad that she had been the first sacrificed? It wasn’t as if Claudette hadn’t tried to help. In fact she had gotten cut for her efforts. Worse, she had been forced to bleed out.
No good deed goes unpunished, she guessed.
No one escaped trial either. One minute she had been averting her gaze away from Jane’s and the next thing she knew she was shivering in the Red Forest. Of course it would be raining. At least she had been wearing her scarf and jacket before the sudden transfer to a trial. Pulling her jacket tighter around her, Claudette quickly found a generator. She had been halfway done with repairs when a hand touched her shoulder making her jump. Had it not been for the hands quickly coming around to steady hers the generator would have sparked and backfired in her face.
“Ah perdoname ‘Dette. Didn’t mean to startle you,” Ace’s gentle accent came quietly as he sidled up next to her. His usually worn shades were pushed back into his hair. The rain was probably making it harder to see with the dark tents of his lenses. She let out a breath before she smiled.
“No worries, I should have been paying more attention,” she waved the apology away as the man got to work helping her get the gen up and running.
Ping. That was one.
They hadn’t seen the killer yet and were trying to keep it like that as they began a quick repair on the genny just outside of the lodge. Ace’s luck had shown its hand when the man had found a decently equipped toolbox. Just as they had finished a cry rang out through the trees startling the crows. Wary, Claudette peered over in the direction the noise had come from.
“Jane,” she answered the unasked question.
Ace, for his part, appeared nonplussed as he gave a quick survey of the tools in his possession. They probably could get one more use out of them before the rust took its toll.
“Should I get her?” he asked then.
“No, I need you to remain my lucky charm and get the rest of these generators powered up. I’ll go get her.”
With their plan set in place, Claudette began a cautious trek towards where she had thought she heard Jane. Not too far off she found the woman already hooked. She had finally learned that struggling was unwise but she still sobbed loudly. Looking around her, Claudette eyed a particularly crowding of trees. The last thing she needed was to recklessly run out into plain view to find out that the killer they were dealing with was Michael. He had caught her unawares one too many times and she wasn’t very keen on making it a habit. It wasn’t until she was certain that she wasn’t being stalked that she quickly jogged over to Jane.
“Follow me,” she directed before pulling the wounded woman free and ducking behind a high wall to pull out a thick roll of bandages and salve she had stored away in her jacket.
“Thank you,” Jane gave her thanks as Claudette helped her out of her jacket in order to see to her injuries. “He got me good. I didn’t even see him approaching. One minute I was working on a generator and the next thing I knew, your little friend was pulling me off,” the woman spoke in a pinched voice.
“Friend?” Claudette frowned at the choice of words though most of her attention was on getting the gauze wound tightly around the talk show host’s shoulder before she pinned the tail in closed with a clip.
“Yeah, the psycho with the mask,” the older woman straightened up from where she had been crouched.
“The Legion? Is that who we’re dealing with?” she asked distractedly as she put her things back into her pockets trying to ignore the trembling of her fingers.
“White mask right? Then yes, I’m pretty sure it’s him though I don’t think you have to worry about him, not the way he talked.”
Claudette finally looked at the woman.
“You spoke to him?”
“I did when I thought he was one of us and then later before he hooked me he told me that you two had something special going on and apparently I was ‘cutting in on your time’”. Jane fixed her with a scathing look. “Do you normally bond with knife wielding psychopaths?”
Even without the rain soaking her to the bone, Claudette’s blood still would have run cold. Did The Legion really tell Jane that? If so, why? The snapping of twigs and the crunch of leaves broke her out of her thoughts just in time to see Meg sprinting around the corner. Her cheeks were slightly red but the wild look in her eyes told Claudette all she needed to know. She was being chased.
Claudette didn’t even think twice about running though a part of her wondered if she was running more from Jane’s question than the possibility of being stabbed. Her feet carried her closer to the edge of the trial grounds before she dived behind a stack of logs. Peeking from behind her hiding place she caught sight of the back of a leather jacket but something wasn’t right. It took only another glance down to more discernible hips for Claudette to realize while that was indeed The Legion it wasn’t The Legion. Her Legion.
Ace had managed to get another generator as Meg continued to run the killer around up until she slipped on the wet ground and got herself caught. In fact, they all had been hooked at least once during the trial but in the end they had managed to power up the doors and escape.
She should have been happy but all she could think about was Jane’s not so subtle accusation. Talk about being blindsided. At least she now knew why the woman had kept giving her looks. Too bad she really couldn’t do anything about it. If Jane tried to confront her she would just tell the truth. She hadn’t done anything wrong. She had no control over what the killers did or said, especially not one who seemed to be as erratic and confusing as The Legion.
Confusing. That was indeed a good word to describe him. Well that and violent. But all the killers were, it was basically a prerequisite for their role. Singling out certain survivors however seemed to be of personal preference. Laurie was the first to have to deal with unwanted attention granted it had been that way prior to her entering the Fog and Jake had his own trouble it seemed when it came to The Huntress. It looked like Claudette was going to be joining the club. The only silver lining was that this particular Legion didn’t seem hard pressed on killing her anymore.
Too bad her luck pretty much ended there when it came to any other killer. Trial with The Clown was basically a nightmare scenario with them all getting sacrificed. Her and Quentin had both been killed by The Nurse's hand in another and in the last one she had gotten her leg mangled in a bear trap and left for dead. The ratio of dying to surviving had gotten so bad that the minute she had opened her eyes and found herself in Léry’s she figured that she was as good as dead.
She always hated coming here. Other than the very real possibility of getting lost, Claudette never did like hospitals. Taking a deep breath to calm herself she began down the hall only to stop at the sound of footsteps. There was something else too. Like garbled noises that kept fluctuating in pitch and rhythm. Tilting her head to one side she closed her eyes and tried to decipher exactly what it was. It wasn't static, that was for sure. She would have felt the jolts from The Doctor by now. Whatever this was it was becoming louder now, closer and more clearer despite the distorted tones. Wait. Distorted with fluctuating pitches?
There was little doubt as to what she was hearing but part of her wanted to confirm it. Fortunately, she had enough common sense to quickly push that want aside and move into the open room beside her. This one had a locker and so as quietly as she could she slipped in and pulled the door shut. It had been just in time too for seconds later footsteps drew closer before the distortion had become clear enough to reveal itself to be exactly what she thought it had been. Music. And there entering the room casually was The Legion. Claudette's breath caught in her throat just as he stopped and turned towards the locker. His mask was slightly different from the last time she had seen him but the large tattoo that adorned his bare throat confirmed his identity.
Please go away. Please go away. Please.
For what seemed like the longest, The Legion just stood there staring before he reached for the handle. He probably would have found Claudette too had it not been for someone messing up on one of the generators. That had gotten his attention immediately allowing Claudette a chance to make her escape and head the opposite way. In her haste she nearly collided with David coming from around the corner but the man had steadied her.
“Not that way. I just saw him,” Claudette cut him off, grabbing his hand as she did to pull him in the opposite direction.
“What about the other two?” David questioned as he willingly let her lead him to a generator.
“He heard someone so they must be on the other side. Maybe if we can avoid him we can get out without any of us-” a sharp scream stopped her mid-sentence.
David looked at her briefly and raised his brows before focusing back on the sparking wires between his fingers. Another shout followed the first one.
“You were saying, love?”
This was not the way to start a trial. Claudette could only hope that someone getting hooked in such a short amount of time wasn’t a harbinger of what was to come. She’d actually like to get out in one piece this time. She wanted everyone to get out. The generator roaring to life under her fingers gave her hope. They just needed four more to go. They could do it. All Claudette had to do was focus and keep out of sight.
David had left her after the second generator to go take the heat off of Adam leaving her on her own. It wasn’t ideal but it was even less ideal for them to be clustered together with a killer like Legion prowling about. That had been the exact reason for her and Laurie to split up once the third generator was up and running. The last thing any of them needed was to be placed in an unending cycle of mending when they needed to be doing gens. There was usually one near the showers so that’s where she headed.
She had just found it by the time she heard David bellow out in pain. It was faint considering the distance but knowing that he had been hooked trying to save Adam didn’t bode well for her. By now she had been the only one not hooked due to sheer luck. If she could get the gen repaired they would be one step closer to escape but if she went to go find David by the time he was rescued then she could help heal him quicker. They could get the gen done quicker. But if she got caught…
There was no time for those types of thoughts. The generator could wait. Turning back around, Claudette ran in the direction she had last seen David go. It was a good thing too as she had caught sight of Laurie darting around a corner a few rooms over with The Legion hot on her heels. She was going to get caught again. Unfortunately with the killer so close Claudette wouldn’t be of any help. If anything she’d probably get herself into unwanted trouble and besides Laurie was more resourceful than herself when it came to defense. Chances of her having something sharp on her was all but guaranteed. She would be alright.
Right now David was her concern
“Here, let me see,” Claudette spoke already tugging David’s jacket down his arms with one hand as her other settled her medkit onto a gurney.
“Always knew you had the stones to be hands on with me. Shame I gotta bleed for us to make it to this point,” David grunted though he still managed to give her a cheeky grin.
Truth be told if it wasn’t for the fact that he was injured Claudette was certain she would have found an excuse to leave him. Instead she just avoided his gaze and opened up her kit.
“Laurie’s probably going to go down sooner than later so when I’m done here we should head towards the showers. I saw a gen there,” she spoke as she fumbled to get the bandages unrolled. It was as if her fingers wouldn’t work no matter how hard she tried. David must have noticed before he reached out and plucked the roll from her hands.
“How ‘bout you let me take care of this while you go see if you can get that genny started on,” he offered already setting about getting his shoulder wrapped.
“Are you sure?”
“What? ‘Fraid I’m gonna cock this up are ya?”
“No, you’ve actually gotten better at the whole healing thing,” she returned with a smile to get one back.
“Then get going.”
Nodding, Claudette took the adjacent path from the way she had come in an effort to keep distance from where she had last seen The Legion. Laurie must have managed to escape unharmed for aside from the loud churning of machinery she didn’t hear anything. Well at least not until she was away from the center of the treatment theater. Then and only then could she hear music but by the time she had realized what it was she was trapped in a shower stall staring up at a masked face.
“H-hi,” she greeted when the silence between them had gotten too much for her to handle only to be greeted with more silence. It was unnerving to say the least. He was just standing at the entrance of the stall, knife in hand, watching her. Every other time they had run into each other he was invading her personal space. What was wrong with him? Maybe if she continued talking he would react to her but what could she say?
“Cat got your tongue?” It was the first thing she could think of.
Something like a laugh came muffled from behind the mask.
“Not yet,” he finally spoke. He sounded slightly hoarse.
“Not yet?” Claudette asked curiously to get a shrug in reply that made her frown. Was she missing something?
“It’s complicated,” The Legion added a few seconds later before he took a step forward.
He seemed to hesitate before he took one step after another until he was close enough to touch. The proximity had forced Claudette to tilt her head back so that she could peer up into the open drilled holes of his mask. She hadn't even noticed him sheathing the hunting knife into his belt. He really was making her nervous.
“A-Are you alright? You’re quieter than normal,” she pointed out in an attempt to end the silence.
“Last time I saw you, you died in my arms yet you’re asking me if I’m alright?” there was a bitterness to the words that Claudette didn’t really know how to react. She really needed to be finding a way to get away from him yet here she was having a conversation.
“If it makes you feel any better I have had worse trials. Much worse. In fact I’d say that was one of the nicer ways to go. Of course it did help that there was music and you…” she looked off in embarrassment but she couldn’t help the smile that came to her lips. As bad as it was to think she had found comfort in that moment. Usually when they died it was alone and in pain, not with arms wrapped around you.
“I like when you do that,” The Legion breathed as he moved both his hands to cradle her face startling her.
“Smile,” he said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. “When you fuckin’ do that…when it's at me.” his thumb trailed along her lips. He seemed distracted yet attentive at the same time. Like he was thinking about something.
“I think you might have a better smile than me,” Claudette called herself making a joke but at the silence she received it must have fallen short or so she thought before a hand moved from his face to the mask.
“I don’t know. You gotta tell me,” and without warning The Legion pushed his mask up and away from his mouth and smiled.
Oh. Was the first thought she had. Oh my, followed that thought and then Claudette’s mind sort of short circuited as she stared up at that smile. She didn’t think that she’d ever get used to just how normal he appeared to be, scars and all.
“So, what do you think?” a gentle hum left him.
“I think that I like your real smile over the mask,” she answered honestly. “You look nice...or at least from what I can see.”
“Yeah? Should I take it off for you? I mean I’m sort of fucked already so might as well get comfortable.”
“Wait, what do you mean you’re-”
Two generators springing to life followed immediately by the blare of the doors made her jump.
“That’s what I mean,” The Legion deadpanned adjusting his mask back in place before he moved to Claudette’s side to slide down the tile and sit. He opened his leather jacket to retrieve something then. His walkman. His behavior was really strange.
“Hey,” Claudette began as she watched him. “Aren’t you going to, well you know?”
“Come here,” a hand wrapped around her wrist and tugged, forcing her to sit down beside the other who was pressing at a few of the buttons. “I know this neat little trick that makes opening those doors take longer. Gives me enough time to do this,” he pulled his headphones free and settled them over Claudette’s ears before he pressed play.
Like before, music flooded through the small speakers and through her body. It made her almost giddy but she couldn’t help but be confused.
“Why do you want me to listen to this?” she questioned unsure of his motives to have a masked face turned towards her.
“Because I just threw a fucking trial to get you to stay with me,” he looked away. “I thought you said you liked it."
"I did. I mean I do... I'm just…" Claudette really didn't know what to say before an arm was thrown over her shoulder and she was pulled into The Legion's side.
And so she did up until a door was finally opened. It was all a bit surreal even as The Legion pulled her up on to her feet and led her to the opposite gate. Quite honestly, she half-expected him to grab her at any moment and hook her as she powered the gate open.
“Hey, it’s Claudette right?” him speaking again let alone using her name made her spin around to find him directly behind her pulling out the tape from his walkman.
“Yes?” she could have kicked herself for answering the way she did but she couldn’t help it.
“Look,” he held the tape up for her.
Across the label it simply read:
Followed by a wide mouthed smile crudely drawn next to the surprisingly neatly scrawled words.
She might have been slow when it came to innuendos and relationships but Claudette considered herself very quick on everything else. Lifting her gaze from the tape to the other she tilted her head and surveyed him.
“Your name’s Frank?”
He must have realized her question was rhetorical because he didn’t answer. Instead, he placed the tape back inside the music player then shoved it back into the pocket of his hoodie leaving his leather jacket unzipped..
“It fits you,” she decided after a few more seconds before she looked over her shoulder. “I should probably get going.”
“Hey, I’m not holding you back,” Frank raised his hands in surrender.
He had meant it too for as Claudette neared the point of no return the only thing he had done was follow her though he remained a foot behind her. Stopping, she turned to look at him.
“Um thank you for everything, I really appreciated it,” she gave her thanks to get a nod.
“I’ve never been good at saying the “s” word so I figured this was the next best thing.”
“‘S’ word? You mean sorry?”
“Yeah, that one.”
The fact he was so honest about the matter was in its own way charming. Claudette smiled.
“Well, apology accepted. I wasn’t upset about it though.”
“Thanks, babe. You really are a special kind of girl,” Frank returned amused before he had stepped forward and leaned down towards her. “Just do me a favor okay?”
“O-okay,” Claudette agreed.
“Don’t let me catch you smiling at anyone else.” And with a slight push on her shoulders, Claudette was stumbling out of the trial and back into the Fog.
Chapter 5: The Problem with Rats
Frank's apathy reaches a new low as life in the Entity's realm and being stuck at Mount Ormond only serves to remind him of the choices he's made in his life and the truths he tried to ignore. He also makes a decision in regards to his current problem concerning one Claudette Morel.
Going back to Ormond was the last thing that he wanted to do but with the bitch of a headache that he was dealing with courtesy of one pissed off Spider Bitch, Frank really didn’t have a choice. The taste of copper was still heavy in his mouth despite spitting most of it up on his way back. While blood never bothered him the sour residue was something he could do without. He didn't regret his actions that led to his current predicament however. As impulsive as it was to throw his trial it was definitely worth it. The only thing he truly regretted was his failure to fully capitalize on his self-made opportunity. He'd blame that on being caught off guard.
Truthfully, he hadn’t expected to run into Claudette. Hadn't even thought to look for her in Léry's which was ironic in itself considering after the fuckery that was Badham Preschool he had done nothing but look for her in every single trial afterwards. It was the only thing that really drove him. His sole motivation. The fucked up part about it all was the fact that beforehand he had routinely sacrificed and afflicted countless moris on the girl without a second thought. But now here he was, Frank Fucking Morrison, in his damn feelings and obsessing over a survivor.
Always was into some taboo shit, huh Franky.
He snorted derisively at the thought as he arrived on the outskirts of the resort. Even with coming in through the back way closer to the abandoned mining equipment he could see the towering structure of The Chalet. The place was starting to be the bane of his existence. It didn’t help either that as of late the gang had started interrogating him at every turn and watching his every move. Hell, he had even caught Susie following him a few times. Sure they meant well, he guessed, but it didn’t mean they weren’t pissing him off.
Letting out an annoyed huff that sent a vibration of pain throughout his body, Frank made his way towards the building keeping his hands buried into his jacket pockets. If he came through the back entrance maybe he could save himself the trouble of having to interact with anyone.
"Hey handsome? Out past your curfew or something?" an all too familiar voice called out to him.
Stopping in his tracks, Frank looked up to find Julie up on one of the second level balconies with Susie at her side. The corners of his mouth tugged down into a particularly harsh grimace as he zeroed in on their youngest member.
That little fucking rat.
If it wouldn't be for the blowback he'd remind her exactly what he thought about people who couldn't keep their mouths shut. No, it wasn't worth it and so he did the next best thing. He adopted his usual air of indifference and shrugged as a thought came to him. If they were out here looking for him that meant Joey wasn't there. Great. Just what he needed and from the way Julie was leaning over the railing it didn’t look he was going to get to his room without her prying.
“Why didn’t you come in from the front?”
“Why are you looking for me?” he retorted but wasn’t looking for a response. He hoped that was obvious by the way he had continued on, walking under the balcony and entering The Chalet.
The rush of steps above him told him that the hint hadn’t been taken. Of course it wasn’t. As selfish as he could be he hadn’t met anyone as self-centered as Julie. Most people didn’t catch on, they were too smitten by her looks and the fact the popular girl gave them a moment of her time. Frank wasn’t most people. He had caught on to Julie’s true nature within a few hours of her introducing herself to him. Perhaps it was that he thought he had found a kindred soul that he stuck around in Ormond instead of finding a way out like he always did. It was why he let Julie think she had him wrapped around her little perfectly manicured fingers. Or maybe it was because he had seen exactly the type of person she was, saw that she thought herself smart enough to play the game, that he had developed some deep perverse desire to show her she was way out of her league.
“Joey was just here but he got taken to trial,” Susie’s voice called out to him demurely as he reached the opposite set of stairs. He didn’t turn around.
“I figured that much when I saw you two trying to ambush me.”
"Will you grow up Frank? No one is trying to ambush you,” Julie followed after him. “You’re too smart for us, remember?” she added belatedly in an attempt to appeal to him.
She had stopped being appealing to him a long time ago but had yet to catch on to the fact.
The corner of Frank’s lips twitched in amusement before he turned from where he had stopped on the first landing.
“Kind of have to be with you two now don’t I? I mean we got you, princess. Good looks yeah, but that’s about it and then we got good ol’ Susie the Rat,” he turned his attention to the younger girl who had been wise enough to keep her distance. Always following Julie’s lead. “Unassuming and docile but will go behind your back in an instance.”
“Are you serious right now?” Julie scowled. “We’re trying to show our concern and you want to hurl insults? You know that Susie has been nothing but supportive to you ever since you became...I don’t know, whatever this is.” A hand flapped dismissively at him. “If that makes her a rat then I guess we all are.”
“Hey, just calling it like I see it Jules. Can’t blame a guy for being honest.”
“Yeah well I can blame him for being an ass.”
“Julie,” Susie spoke up as she tugged at the tattered end of her hoodie. She was avoiding meeting his face even when he still kept his mask on. “Maybe we should just back off. Frank probably just needs to rest. For all we know he had a rough trial.”
She always did take after Joey with trying to be the voice of reason when he wasn’t being hasty. Frank snorted.
“Don’t worry about me sweetheart, trial couldn’t have gone any better if I had tried,” he insisted before turning back up the stairs but he hadn’t missed the metal plastered smile being sent his way.
A rat she may be but at least she was an adorable rat. She just talked too damn much. Julie on the other hand looked as if he had just pissed in her Cheerios. She wasn’t as forgiving as Susie. Always had been a bully in her own way especially when she wasn’t getting her way. Not his problem. Getting to his room he set the lock in place before he removed his walkman and tossed it on to the bed. In an attempt to not cause himself any further discomfort he gingerly removed his jackets as he made his way towards the adjoining bathroom. They all had one but he just happened to have the nicest one despite the dilapidated nature of the resort. If there was one thing Frank had and would always cherish in life it was privacy but above all it was to have something of his own. He was still working on that and existing in an eternal hellhole wasn’t going to stop him. Tossing his mask haphazardly on to the floor he peeled off his shirt and stood before the mirror.
Jesus did it look like he had gotten his ass kicked and in a way he had. Under the hazy glow of occasionally flickering bulbs he looked worse for wear. Dark scorching marks wrapped this way and that along his arms, chest and torso while it peppered in blotchy patterns elsewhere. Some of the wounds still gave off a black smoky haze from the Entity’s malicious touch. Strangely enough his face was never touched. Bringing a hand to his face, Frank ran a finger over the scar on his lips before he gave a smile.
I think that I like your real smile over the mask.
Did she really mean that or was she just humoring him? Trying to avoid meeting another unceremonious death at the end of his knife. As if he would. Badham had really fucked him up. If he was going to go balls to the wall with the kills he had diligently made sure Claudette wasn’t one of the four survivors. Guilt wasn’t something he was used to feeling so when it hit, it hit. God he never wanted to feel that way again.
A loud succession of knocks came to his door, aggravating his headache and pulling him out of his thoughts.
“Frank! Frank, open this door right now,” Julie’s loud but muffled demand floated its way into the bathroom.
Fuck, did she not know when to fucking quit.
Knowing it would only piss her off more, he took his sweet time getting his shirt pulled back on before finally leaving the bathroom to open the door. Any other time he might have been inclined to be smug about the entire situation but not right now. Instead, he leaned in the space between the open door and doorframe and fixed Julie with a blank stare.
There was a moment of silence as Julie stood there flabbergasted. Underneath that was hesitance, followed by a second of palpable fear before her nose wrinkled in distaste.
“What? Is that all you can say to me?”
“I don’t know Jules. I could tell you to fuck off if you prefer,” he offered in mock consideration to be rewarded with a quick shove to his chest.
It wasn’t enough to unseat his balance but the unwanted contact did irritate his already abused skin that him stepping back had given Julie the chance to step into his room. She was really the last person he wanted to be talking to right now but she didn’t seem to get the hint. It was a habit of hers. Tunnel vision or rather Julie vision. She saw things the way she wanted them to be even when they hadn’t been that way for a long time.
“You know, Susie may be scared of you but I’m not,” Julie began as she got the door shut.
“She’s not scared of me,” Frank couldn’t help but contradict her. He could never pass up an opportunity to let a person know that they were wrong.
“Of course she is. Why do you think she lets you walk all over her the way you do?”
“Simple. She admires me.”
The look he received said that his words weren’t to be believed but that was fine with him. It made sticking it to her all that more better. Leaning against the wall beside the door he crossed his arms and let himself relax.
“You know that’s always been your problem. You always underestimate people,” he started up casually enough but internally he was near seething. He didn’t know what it was but lately everything about Julie just seemed to anger him. It was like the longer he was stuck in this distorted reality the more the thoughts and realizations he had about his life before just seemed to be further confirmed and hammered home. “I get it though. A spoiled girl like you who’s been given everything her entire life can’t help but look down on everyone else around you even when they’re giving you what you want. If I were in your shoes I probably wouldn’t give a girl like Susie a second glance either but I gotta tell ya Jules, she’s not some meek and mild little girl. Braces can be a little vicious bitch when she wants to when she has the proper motivation.”
“How can you say that about her, let alone me?” Julie looked like she didn’t know whether she wanted to scream at him or break down crying.
He hoped it wasn’t the latter as a cruel smile pulled itself across his lips. He didn’t think Claudette would like it as much but she wasn’t here and he was tired.
“Guess she didn’t tell you how she robbed some guy and stabbed him in the back just to impress little ol’ me. Or that she shoplifted from the store she spotted him at prior,” he spoke as he watched her horrified expression. She really did live a sheltered life.
“You mean that guy on the news? Susie...no way.”
“Like I said, she’s not scared of me. As far as what I said about you,” Frank pushed himself from the wall and advanced slowly towards Julie. She put on a brave face but it didn’t detract that for every step he took she took one back until he had trapped her against the opposite wall. “I didn’t say anything that wasn’t true, babe.”
The slap was expected. It was basically routine now in their relationship or rather what once had been their relationship so when Julie had quickly followed up the assault with an apology and buried her face against his chest as her arms tightened around his waist, Frank was numb to it all. Drowning in his own apathy once more. How he would kill for a little bit of normalcy for once. And while he had no intention to provide the comfort and reassurance that Julie was desperately trying to coax out of him, he still wrapped his arms around her.
“I hate when you get like this,” Julie murmured from where she rested against him.
“You say that as if I’ve ever been any other way.”
“Oh stop with the tough guy act Frank,” she raised her head to look up at him. Moved her hands to cradle his face. “You don’t have to pretend with me. I know things haven’t been the best between us but-”
Almost immediately Frank pulled her hands down. He wasn’t about to open himself up to her just to get himself disappointed again.
“Don’t worry about it,” he insisted as he stepped away and took a seat on the bed.
Pointedly he ignored her as he picked up his walkman and ejected the tape. To think, Claudette finally knew his name. It shouldn’t have made a difference but it did. In some fucked up way it gave legitimacy to whatever it was they were doing, whatever he was doing. And to think he didn’t have to manipulate her into getting to this point. Not the way he had with Legion, with Julie. Flipping the cassette over to the B-side he placed it back into the player as he looked up to find himself being stared at.
“That’s what I want to know. I know things haven’t been the same between us in a long time Frank but you’ve really been acting weird as of late and I want to know why,” Julie all but demanded as she crossed her arms in front of her.
“Aw baby, don’t tell me you care?” he smiled sardonically as he stretched out onto his back despite the ache he felt. “Hey, I’ve always been curious, not that it matters now, but if you had gotten out of Ormond what would you have done?” he asked in honest interest.
The question had clearly caught the girl off guard before she shrugged with a small smile playing at her lips.
“I don’t know. I always wanted to go to Toronto. Maybe that’s where I would have gone. Probably cross the border eventually to see what’s so great about the states. You know, just live my life the way I deserve.”
The fact there was no mention of ‘them’ doing any of that together didn’t escape him. Didn’t surprise him in the least either. From the moment Julie attached herself to him back in Ormond, Frank had always had the nagging feeling that he was once again in a temporary state of being. It only took him being sucked into some perpetual limbo for him to get his confirmation. He should have gotten the fuck out of Ormond when he had the chance instead of encouraging a bunch of wannabe delinquents because he wanted some entertainment.
Good work there, Frank.
“Why do you ask?” Julie’s voice reminded him that she was still in his room.
“Like I said I was just curious and now that I have my answer you can get out,” he rolled over to face the wall.
He looked over his shoulder taking on the same blank that always seemed to unnerve her, effectively shutting down her protest.
“Fuck off or I’ll make you fuck off.”
It was the only warning he was going to give her and Julie, thankfully, was smart enough to see that. They both knew he’d have no qualm in making good on his threat but he was hoping the need to act upon it wouldn’t come up. Not because of some type of moral conscience of course but out of the simple fact that as good of a front he was putting up, Frank was in pain.
“You can be a real asshole sometimes Frank. I hope you know that,” Julie spat.
Funny how she switched at the drop of a hat when she wasn’t getting her way. Frank would have laughed at her if it wasn’t for the fact he’d jostle his ribs so instead he closed his eyes and listened to his door slam shut.
In the Entity’s realm, this interpretation of Ormond didn’t experience day and night cycles but the skies did darken to some degree and the perpetual rolling fog thickened as if to signal what they loosely called night time. That’s what Frank woke up to, bleary eyed and aching. Going back to sleep was an option but the craving for nicotine to burn its way through his lungs hit him the same way hunger would hit a starving man. Reluctantly he pulled himself out of bed and fumbled with the inner pocket of his leather jacket to fetch his pack and lighter only to stop as something by his door caught his attention.
What the fuck was that?
Abandoning his current task he stepped over to find a spotty pack of cigarettes tied to a cassette tape with a piece of torn fabric and smiled. Susie had brought him a gift. She had even thrown in her mixtape with it too as a form of a peace offering. It basically screamed Frank, please don’t hate me. He really wasn’t lying, the girl absolutely admired him despite everything. He appreciated it though, the gesture made the cigarette taste all the more better. Hell, he’d even listen to her mixtape despite not being a real big fan of her preferred genre.
Finishing up his cigarette, Frank got himself dressed, grabbed his things and headed out. Julie had clearly sequestered herself in her room as Susie and Joey were knocked out on the couch together which meant he had no one to explain himself to. Perfect.
As electric beats and fast tempos filled the emptiness around him he wandered aimlessly until he found himself standing in the middle of a street surrounded by abandoned houses. From the looks of it, it didn’t look as if the Haddonfield Boogeyman was around. He must have been in a trial, afterall it wasn’t as if the shape of a man ever went anywhere else or at least not to his knowledge. He didn’t speak and sure didn’t associate himself with the others though he did seem to tolerate Frank’s presence to an extent. Probably because he was smart enough to stay across the street.
Moving on he eventually arrived at Autohaven and parked himself atop one of the mountains of smashed cars. Distracted, he watched the way cigarette smoke swirled out above him that he hadn’t noticed the movement off to his left or the legs materializing a foot away from him until a bloody hand reached down and plucked the burning stick from between his lips. Had it been anyone else, Frank would have without a doubt given them a few new holes for their troubles. But it wasn’t just anyone and technically he was trespassing. Tilting his head back he stared up into glowing eyes as he watched fingers crush his cigarette into nothing.
“Didn’t think you were here,” he spoke as he watched what was left of paper and tobacco slip from long fingers.
Those same fingers then pointed towards the rundown gas station.
“So you saw me coming a mile away and didn't come out to say hi huh? Typical.”
A soft rumbling was his reply before the Wraith had crouched at his side though it did nothing in the way of bringing them at equal standing. The specter still remained a head above him. It was expected but the fingers snagging into the collar of his hood and yanking certainly wasn’t. Instinct made Frank lash out only to have his arm caught in a bruising grip. Another noise came forth from the cloaked figure, this time it was a deep reverberating thing, a warning to keep still and so Frank begrudgingly did, allowing stained fingers to have their with his jacket before tugging the neckline of his shirt away from his body. It took all his willpower to not lash out at the Wraith who seemed fixated on the bruises that still marked his kin.
Of course he knew they were there. He had the nose of a bloodhound.
“I fucked up,” Frank spoke if only to end the silence between them.
The Wraith finally regarded him as he retracted his grip. He made a noise.
“Something happened during one of my trials and I thought I could make up for it,” he continued as he looked away and frowned. “Fuck, I don’t know why I’m telling you of all people this but one of those survivors really has my head fucked up. Long story short I threw my trial and well…” he pulled his sleeves up and flashed his marred forearm.
For a while he was simply stared at to the point he almost cursed himself for confessing something like that to some overgrown tree but then the Wraith settled down beside him and turned his gaze skyward.
The words were soft and reassuring that Frank completely overlooked the fact this was the first time he had heard the Wraith’s voice. Instead all he could think of was that maybe he wasn’t the only one dealing with conflicted emotions towards the other side. It was the type of confidence boost he didn’t know he needed but he had gotten it and subsequently his mood had seemed to even out. His trial performances had gotten better as well. In what seemed like forever he wasn’t overthinking the possibility of running into Claudette but perhaps that was simply due to his current want to find the bitch who had not only hit him with a palette but had also caught him off guard when she busted out of a locker.
He was gaining ground on her. Would of had had her too had he not run full force into someone when he cut around the side of the office, knocking them both down. Well there went his frenzy.
“Shit,” he snarled and had all the intention to take out his frustration on the person who had gotten in his way only to stop when he realized who exactly he had run into.
“Frank?” Claudette stared up at him in surprise.
“Hey kitten, didn’t see you there,” he spoke distractedly as he glanced up to find that Jane had paused in her retreat to stare.
Why the hell was she looking at him like that? The bitch clearly had a death wish that he was more than happy to fulfill. He was also more than happy to stay where he was or at least he would have been had Claudette not pushed him off of her and quickly scrambled back away from him.
“What the fuck are you doing?” he demanded absolutely incensed.
He had only thrown a trial for her not too long ago, given her his name and had for the most part been on his best behavior. If she thought she could just make him have feelings for her and then turn around and push him away she had another thing coming. Getting to his feet, Frank stepped towards her before he noticed the way she looked from him and over to Jane who was still watching them. Something was up. Claudette was back to acting like the everyday survivor and the longer he stood there the quicker he had a good idea why. Reaching the girl he grabbed her around the bicep and yanked her up none too gently and placed the flat of his knife underneath her chin forcing her head up.
“What’s up with your friend staring us down?” he questioned as he kept his eyes trained on a wary gaze.
“You said something to her about me.”
It wasn’t an accusation. Just a simply stated fact.
“Is that what this is about? Because I gave her a nice friendly welcome to the Fog?”
“Th-that’s not what this is about,” Claudette tried to pull from his grasp but he simply tugged her back. “Why did you tell her that we...that we had something special going on?”
“Aw don’t tell me that you're ashamed of me, sweetheart?” Frank taunted only to be rewarded with silence much to his irritation and so he changed tactics and moved his hand to her ponytail and wrenched her head back drawing a sharp cry of pain from her. “Tell ya what, since what I said bothers you so much I'll do you a favor. No more special treatment in trials. Next time you see me you better fucking run like your life depended on it,” he spat before he hauled her off of her feet and up and over his shoulder. With a sidelong glance he found that Jane had finally decided to wise up and run for it.
He really couldn’t stand a rat. Thankfully, he had come to trial with a mori on him just for insurance.
The basement was in the office and so that’s where he headed though he had let Claudette back onto her feet when he had reached the bottom landing. Taking her by the arm with a gentler grip he pulled her around down the last few steps before trapping her in a corner.
“You’re not hooking me?” Claudette was the first to speak.
“Don’t sound so damn disappointed about it. I said next time I see you.”
“Right,” the girl nodded before she cocked her head. “I guess you’re feeling better now. I mean because unlike last time you seem more talkative. That’s good,” she added then.
“You say that like you actually care,” Frank snorted to watch as Claudette quickly looked away.
“Well I...I still remember how you were nice to me back at Ironworks.”
“Trust me I wasn’t trying to be nice to you.”
“O-of course, I mean why would you?”
The lingering tones of sadness weren’t lost on Frank. Neither was the fact that he was in a trial and still had people to kill.
“How well do you know your way around this shit hole outside of trials?” he suddenly asked, killing the tension somewhat as a confused gaze regarded him. “Like if you were back at that little campfire of yours right now, could you make your way to Ormond if you wanted?”
“The resort? Um I don’t know, I guess I could, not that I’ve ever tried,” Claudette admitted.
“Do it and I’ll consider us even.”
“Even for what?”
“This,” Frank said and wasted no time tugging up both his jackets and shirt to expose pale, bruised skin.
Admittedly the dark marks had mostly faded but they were still visible. He figured after another trial or two that they’d be completely gone.
“W-what is that? Are you alright?”
He hadn’t expected Claudette’s reaction or her reaching out to touch him but she did and it sent a shiver down his spine before he grabbed her hands.
“Easy there baby doll, we can play show and tell later. Just make sure you stay out of my line of sight or I will hook you.”
“And don’t forget to show up. I’ll find you.”
Leaving no room for argument, Frank released her and took off not really sure what his endgame was but at least he no longer had to worry about compromising his trials all in the name of fraternizing. He’d figure it out later he supposed but right now he had a certain survivor to find and boy did he find her fast. Luckily he had already hooked her once which meant he could jump right into butchering but not before they had a little chat.
“Big ass and a big mouth, what are the fucking odds huh?” he clicked his tongue as he wedged his foot under the woman’s stomach and kicked her over onto her back. “What are you, like in your thirties? Haven't you ever heard the saying loose lips sink ships?”
“Go to hell, freak,” Jane spat at him as she pushed at his leg and tried to sit up while holding her split open side closed.
Oh no you fucking don't.
Quickly putting an end to an attempted escape, he planted his foot in the middle of her chest and beard his weight down on her before lowering himself down into a crouch.
“Already there, bitch, so let me make something clear to you,” Frank retorted as he pressed the tip of his knife to her left cheek hard enough to draw blood. “When I said me and kitten 'have a special thing going on between us’ I meant that and only that. Ergo stay out of my business and keep your mouth shut.”
“Funny because I heard differently. In any case what makes you think I’m scared of your threats let alone that I’d listen to anything out of your mouth?” the woman challenged him as her eyes shone with defiance.
“You believed me the first time we spoke according to what I’ve been told, remember? And as far as you being scared of me, you're talking to the wrong killer. I just want you to remember I’m not stuck in here with you, you’re stuck in here with me but if our first introduction didn't clue you into that fact then I guess I'll fix that with a new lesson. Legion 101, there's only a few things I can't stand more than a fucking rat.”
It was the only warning Frank gave before he braced his hand against the other side of Jane’s head and speared his hunting knife through her left cheek and out the right. The way she thrashed and screamed nearly threw him backwards but he quickly righted himself and jerked the blade out in an angle that tore the left side of her mouth open. From the looks of it, or from what he could see from the copious amount of blood spurting out, he had sliced into the underside of her tongue.
“Now would you look at that? You really do have a big mouth now,” he laughed as he stood up dodging a weak swing towards his face as Jane gurgled and mewled out in pain.
If he were a bit nicer he might have left her there to choke but Frank had already filled his quota of being nice with Claudette. Reaching down to his belt he unhooked the skull keychain and crushed it in the palm of his hand. By the time he had finished with Jane the bandages around his hands were dyed a vibrant shade of red and he could feel the wet clumps of viscera sliding down his neck and under his shirt. He felt a high he hadn’t felt in a long time. It was nice. It was also nice to end his trial with three out of four survivors dead if only because Claudette had taken him seriously. Had she been a second or two slower at sliding between the small wedge the opening gate had provided he would have killed her.
This time when he returned to The Chalet he came through the front with his mask pulled up to find Susie sitting on the stairs fiddling with her crudely sharpened ruler. She hadn’t even noticed him until he was standing in front of her and holding the handle of his knife out to her.
“What’s this for?” she questioned though she took the offered weapon albeit leery of his actions. Not that he blamed her.
“Consider it an early birthday present for my favorite rat.”
“I said I was sorry Frank,” Susie began as she clutched the knife to her chest. “I was just worried about you and-”
“Hey, hey, hey it’s alright. I get it, I really do,” Frank quickly reassured her. “You’re one of the few people who actually care about me even when I don’t deserve it and even if I don’t say it, I appreciate you.”
There was a long stretch of silence as Susie just stared at him like he had just lost his mind before she hurried to her feet and wrapped her arms around him.
“Thank you,” she tipped her head back to grin at him.
“Don’t mention it but what do you say we go outside and I show you how to use that thing,” Frank offered as he shoved his hands into his pockets. “It’s a lot different than that toy of yours and the last thing I need is you cutting yourself up when you're supposed to be cutting survivors.”
“You mean it?”
“Yeah, I have some time to kill so why not unless you want Joey to show you.”
“No, no this is perfect,” Susie quickly protested. “I’ve been meaning to ask you something anyways about my frenzy,” the girl carried on as Frank followed her back outside.
This would keep him busy until he needed to leave for his little date.
Chapter 6: A Saint In Ormond
Jane takes exception to Frank's actions back at Azaraov's Resting Place and decides to confront Claudette about it much to her mortification.
Yes, yes I finally have updated this story so you guys can stop asking me about it and refreshing the page constantly. I just would like to say thank you to all of you have supported this story and a super thank you to you guys who take time out of your day to leave me a comment. Your comments are what encourages me to continue writing for you all and lets me know whether I should continue on the things I write. To you guys who may be going through a difficult time I send my well wishes and positive vibes and hope things will get better soon. Thanks again and as always please take care of yourselves. Hope you guys enjoy the chapter.
Jane was staring at her again and she wasn't the only one. In fact ever since she had returned, Claudette had looked up more than once to find a few pairs of eyes on her. She tried her best to ignore it. Tried to pretend that she was just imagining it and that Jane hadn't once again spoken to the others about what she perceived to be some type of relationship between their appointed healer and one of the Legion. Of course she hadn't described it exactly like that but she had insinuated more than enough times that the smiling face killer was giving Claudette questionable attention. Thankfully, there had been those like Quentin and Meg who argued that the killers often directed their interest on one of the survivors but it didn't quell the older woman's suspicion. Her constant mentioning of the topic had eventually concerned both Adam and Kate enough that they had all but ambushed Claudette the minute Jake had been pulled off into a trial.
Naturally, Claudette had assured them that all was okay and the topic, to her relief, had been dropped. Unfortunately while that was the case it hadn't diminished the fact that she was aware that some of the others still had lingering concerns with the strange occurrences she kept finding herself in when it came to the Legion. To be honest she couldn't blame them for that. It wasn't as if she was doing a good job with instilling trust with them. She still had yet to fully explain what had happened at Lérys after all. Coming up with a reason she had practically disappeared failed to come easily to her even when she could have easily said that the Legion had found her. David had defended her on the matter however, saying that as long as she had gotten out the rest was irrelevant. While she knew he meant his words she was also aware that to some extent he was bothered by what had happened. He just chose not to push it.
To make things worse, Claudette didn't feel like she could speak to anyone about the strange situation she kept finding herself in. Not even Quentin.
Why did Frank have to speak to Jane the way he had back in Badham? Of all people why her? It was as if he was looking to cause an issue. Looking to get her in trouble as payback for something she didn't even know she did.
Quickly, Claudette shook herself of the thought. That was unfair of her. Frank had no way to know what type of damage his words could cause her. It wasn't as if he had any clue about the dynamics of the survivors. There was also no way for him to know that Jane would take him at face value. On top of that there was no benefit for him to cause her any trouble with the other survivors or at least not that Claudette could think of. Sure she knew next to nothing about him but she doubted that if he wanted to do something malicious that this was the way he would have done it. After all he had been the same person, it turned out, mori-ing the others during trials simply because she hadn't been in his trials after that fateful encounter at Ironworks. If he truly wanted to make a statement he had the means to do so. That, she knew for certain.
If she could let out an exasperated sigh without being questioned she would have.
Truly this entire thing was a confusing mess and to add to her growing problems Claudette had basically agreed to meet him outside of trials. What was she thinking? Was she even thinking at all? He had killed and sacrificed her more times than she could count and now she was planning to find Mount Ormond Resort as if he had asked her out on some kind of date. She must have lost her mind. That’s what happened. The Clown had cracked her skull with his boot in her last trial and everyone knew that such blunt force was enough to do some type of damage to the brain.
Residual brain damage that the Entity didn't bother to rectify.
She let out a breath as she continued grinding down the lavender she had tasked herself to take care of. No, her choice had nothing to do with the mori she received from the Clown. It had everything to do with Frank. She agreed because he asked. She agreed because she knew those ugly bruises littering his torso were somehow her fault. She agreed because she was afraid of what would happen if she said no. She agreed because despite everything he made her feel something she didn't know how to put into words.
“He really was telling the truth about how you two have such a special relationship wasn’t he?” Jane’s voice had her snapping her head up to find the woman standing directly in front of her.
“W-what?” Claudette stuttered.
The older woman’s lips pulled back into a smile that screamed the opposite of friendly. It was a look that Claudette knew too well from her days in grade school. She hated it.
“Don't act like you don't know what I'm referring to. You were the only one who managed to escape,” the former talk show host stated bluntly as she folded her arms across her chest. "It's not the first time he's kept his hands off of you while the rest of us went down."
“I...that's not true. None of us escaped Badham and I barely made it out this time. If I had gotten to the door even a second late…” she trailed off.
Frank had warned her to stay out of his line of sight and she had done just that up until the very end. If he had gotten his hands on her she knew for certain that he was going to keep his word and hook her.
For a while neither one of them said a word as Jane eyed her, clearly trying to tell if she was lying or not. It was nerve wracking and it triggered every single insecurity she had ever had all over again right when she was getting better. Or at least she thought she had been. Had she been deluding herself all this time all for the sake of trying to keep the others from thinking she couldn’t be self-sufficient?
“Alright, girl to girl,” Jane huffed as she crouched down in front of her. “What’s really going on with you Claudette? Too many strange things have happened for me to simply dismiss them as being a huge coincidence,” she spoke softly.
While it was apparent that the woman meant no harm with her question, Claudette couldn’t help but feel offended as she tightened her grip around the pestle in her hand. She was going to get callouses.
“There's nothing going on. It's like I told you all before, I don’t have any control over what any of the killers do,” she said. “And that includes the Legion.”
“Then what he’s talking about that’s supposedly between you two...it isn’t mutual. Is it? Look I may not be a counselor but I've covered enough segments about young women being trapped in unhealthy relationships with men to know when something isn't right. And this Claudette isn't right."
The assumption prompted Claudette to look up and meet a concerned gaze. She didn’t like where this was going and it was making her panic.
“Jane I don’t think…” she tried as she released the pestle in her hand. “I don’t know what you think is happening but the Legion he’s...that’s what they do, the killers I mean. They target us sometimes because it gives them something to do.” David and Ace’s boisterous laughter rang out through the camp, catching her attention and for a minute she felt less tense until she looked back at Jane and lowered her gaze. “I don’t know what he said to you this time but I’d appreciate it if you’d just let me handle it.”
“Is that your way of telling me to stay out of your business?” Jane got to her feet and frowned. "You know he called me a rat and mutilated my face before he cut my tongue out because of you."
The words had plunged Claudette's heart into her stomach.
"What did you say to him during the trial?"
"Nothing I didn't-"
"Kitten. That's what he likes to call you," Jane interrupted as a knowing look followed with a smug smile tilted her painted lips upwards. "But you knew that right?"
"I don't want to talk about this anymore," Claudette spoke quietly as she got to her feet, abandoning the mortar and pestle altogether. She'd have to come back to it later.
"Why not? Don't you think you owe us an explanation? If not everyone else then how about me seeing as I've been on the receiving end twice thanks to that psycho boyfriend of yours," Jane pressed but Claudette only shook her head.
Her heart was pounding so hard in her chest, if she didn't get some space between her and the woman she was going to have a panic attack. Collecting the medkit she had been restocking she made to pass the woman only to feel a hand grip her around the arm and pull her back around.
"I don't know what pretty little lies he might have fed you to make you think he cares about you but he's a killer Claudette and you're a survivor."
"Fuck is goin' on 'ere?" David's voice came heated as he excused himself from Ace's side and began making his way over.
The sudden interruption had given Claudette the opportunity to shake the hand on her free before she quickly moved in the Brit's direction. Her intention was to bypass him but that was made impossible when he stepped in her path.
"Oy, love," he settled his hands upon her cheeks to tilt her head up, forcing her to meet his gaze. "Alright?"
"F-fine, I'm just going to take a walk," Claudette could barely get the words out as she felt tears begin to burn her eyes.
There was no way that David was going to let her go if she started crying. She had to calm herself down. Taking a much needed breath, she smiled and hoped that it didn’t look as forced as it felt.
“There was something I wanted to go and have a look at now that I have the time so if you could check on Quentin I’d really appreciate that.”
David’s gaze held her for a second before he looked over her head to where Jane was still standing before back to her once more.
“Just don’t be gone too long, yeah? Was hoping we could talk,” he finally spoke as he let his hands drop from her face.
“T-talk?” Claudette repeated.
“Yeah, talk. Ya know that thing we’re doing now,” David mocked but she knew he meant no harm that she laughed.
“Right, silly me,” she glanced down at the medkit she had been gripping. “We can if you want...talk I mean, when I get back..if you still want to that is.”
“Hold ya to it love.”
Funny how David King of all people knew how not to pry. Really Claudette could have hugged him for it but the last thing she wanted was to be in Jane’s line of sight any longer than she had to so she did what she was always good at. Running away.
She was angry with herself for being such a coward. Why could she stand with her head raised when talking to someone with a knife in their hand but couldn’t stomach a few questions from someone who she should have considered an ally? The more Claudette thought about it the further she walked as if compelled to do so though common sense told her to not wander too far. There had been several times a few of them had tried to map out the area around the campfire though the task was harder than initially thought. While they had been able to get a general picture of the area it hadn't been as detailed as they wished. Luckily they had been able to come to the conclusion that there were safer zones compared to others and that there were, what Dwight had dubbed, “pocket realms” scattered about. That being said, they had never been able to pen down where and when said pocket realms would be. It appeared that the Entity’s world shifted without rhyme or reason though Jake noted the Red Forest seemed to remain roughly in the same location.
The thought made Claudette freeze mid-step as she gave a cursory glance around her. She was still well within the safe zones but if she remembered correctly if she veered further right the air would get colder. Colder air meant colder weather and colder weather once it hit a certain degree usually meant snow. Mount Ormond was the only realm so far that had snow. She almost took a step back.
Was she really doing this? Apparently she was more naive than she thought. Walking straight into the arms of a killer or at least metaphorically. Whether Frank greeted her with open arms was up for debate and as much as she shouldn’t be, Claudette was curious about the type of reception he'd have for her. It frightened her. A smart girl like her should know better. A part of her yelled at her to head back to camp. That she still had the chance to turn around and find David to have that talk he wanted. Besides it wasn’t as if she promised Frank that she would come and even if she had she didn’t owe him anything.
Do it and I’ll consider us even.
Okay, maybe she did owe him something. For a while she just stood there, adjusting and readjusting her grip on the medkit’s handle before she finally took a hesitant step forward. If Frank wanted to hurt her he could have done it already, it’s what she told herself as she took a deep breath and nodded. She might have been unable to stand up to Jane but she wouldn’t hide from someone who kept showing her goodwill no matter how skewed it might have been. With that decided, Claudette turned towards an unseen path and began forward.
Fog. Lot’s of it.
That had just been one of the many thoughts that had flooded Claudette’s mind as the temperature dropped around her. That same voice from before was yelling at her to turn back but as a large structure appeared through the dense sheet of fog she realized it was way too late for that. She had made her decision so needed to see it through. Maybe if she was lucky Frank wouldn’t show up. If she was really lucky he wouldn’t show up and she could return to the campsite without any of the other Legion members stumbling upon her. Oh, now there was something she hadn’t given adequate thought about. There was a high chance that she’d run into one of the other masked killers and an even higher chance that she’d get stabbed for simply being there. But as her foot sunk into the surprisingly soft snow she knew turning around was no longer an option.
This Ormond was much different than the one she was used to seeing during trials. From what she could see as she drew closer, the resort didn’t have a single destroyed wall. It looked completely intact and for the most part in good condition. Though the grounds were free of any generators, the broken down snowcats still remained. Standing there now all alone, Claudette couldn’t help but feel as if she had walked into some type of horror movie.
Perhaps she shouldn’t be standing out in the open like this. Frank told her that he would find her as long as she showed up so if she were to find somewhere with more cover he would be able to find her right? This was his territory after all.
Deciding it wasn't in her best interest to go inside, Claudette found the emptied out structure that she assumed must have served as some type of rental booth at one point in time. She had never been to a ski resort so was a bit shaky on the proper terms for things about this particular realm but she did know that despite the small building having its doors pried off that it was much warmer inside than it was outside. A chill ran through her body as she took a seat on the wooden floorboards and drew her legs up against her chest. In hindsight she probably should have dressed warmer but then again she hadn’t planned on leaving the campsite or at least not as abruptly and definitely not to come here. Jane ambushing her had really triggered her fight or flight response and none too surprisingly, Claudette had chosen to run.Truly she wanted to not give the whole thing a second thought but in that instant it all seemed to crash down all around her as tears welled up in her eyes and eventually spilled over.
Even in this strange world she couldn’t seem to get normal life right. Why did she have to be so weak all of the time?
Pushing her hands up and under her glasses she did her best to hold in a sob but failed as she willed herself to stop crying. Her distress eventually overtook her to the point that she was virtually deaf to the footsteps along the outside ramp and ignorant to the person watching her.
“Well shit, you really did show up,” a slightly muffled voice came.
Startled, Claudette quickly looked up to find Frank standing in the doorway.
“F-Frank,” his name left her mouth as she scrambled up on to her feet and pressed her back against the far wall.
He didn’t say anything to her then. Just stood there and the longer he did the more her embarrassment mounted along with the budding regret of even showing up. Before she could utter an apology he finally moved. Instinct made Claudette want to take a step backwards but she was already up against the wall and so she simply watched him close the distance between them until he stood directly in front of her. With him this close she could hear the soft pulls of his breath echoing from behind his mask before he grabbed her by the shoulders and all but yanked her forward. A surprised noise left her as she crashed into his chest and arms wrapped around her. She didn’t know what he had planned to do but this certainly wasn’t it but for one reason or another the action calmed her. It was like Ironworks all over again.
It felt like hours had passed as they stood there before he finally pulled back and looked down towards her left.
“You plan on playing nurse with me kitten?” amusement coated his voice.
“Oh I…” Claudette looked down to the medkit she had brought with her. Admittedly that was the furthest thing from her mind when she had left the campfire. Having healing supplies on hand had become something of a security blanket for her. “You’re injured right?” she asked as a shiver wracked her body. She missed the heat of his boys already. “I could look at them for you if you want.”
“Yeah?” Frank seemed slightly surprised before he shrugged. “Alright if you want to be a fucking Saint, who am I to tell you no but first we need to go inside,” he turned for the exit.
“Inside?” she frowned to be regarded once more as a hand gestured towards the thin long sleeve shirt she had worn with her skirt and stockings.
“Can’t have you freezing your ass off ten seconds into this thing, now can I? Besides, I need to get you covered up if I’m going to take you out.”
While she should have questioned exactly where he would be taking her, Claudette grabbed her medkit and obediently followed after him across the resort grounds and into The Chalet. The warmth that greeted her as they made it inside was more than welcomed though she couldn’t help but remain on edge as she threw a look every which way. It didn’t look like anyone was there or perhaps they were and were simply hiding.
“Kids are gone so don’t worry about anyone seeing you here,” Frank’s voice made her blink and look back to him. He was already climbing the stairs when he glanced over his shoulder. “Room’s this way.”
If someone were to tell Claudette that one day she’d find herself conversing with someone who usually spent most of their time hunting her down she would have smiled politely and inwardly thought them crazy but that was exactly what she was doing as she was ushered through a doorway. It was a fairly large room but upon thinking it over it made sense. Frank was clearly the leader of Legion so probably had claimed one of the nicer rooms for himself. If that was indeed the case then she didn’t blame him one bit. The bed looked more than comfortable. Quentin would probably cry over a bed like that if he saw one now.
“How do you want to do this?” Frank was in front of her again after getting the door closed and locked. “Should I undress or do you want to do it?”
Her confusion must have been written plainly on her face for him to continue as he stepped closer as if that was even possible. Another inch and he’d be directly against her.
“Show and tell, remember? Or did you change your mind?”
“No I didn’t, I just…” Claudette avoided looking directly up at his mask though it didn’t detract from the fact that she felt his eyes boring down on to her. “We can do it however you want.”
Frank made a noise then, something low in the back of his throat before he leaned down towards her.
“Gonna hold you to that kitten.”
The words were practically purred before he moved for the bed leaving her speechless and staring. It wasn’t until he had started pulling at the zipper of his leather jacket that she remembered that breathing was necessary.
Why was it so warm in this room?
“So what were you? A med student or something?” Frank spoke as he peeled the leather from his arms and tossed it onto the nearby recliner.
“Um no, I was studying botany actually,” Claudette answered as she directed her attention around the room.
“That’s like plant science, right?”
“You’re familiar with it?” she looked back as she felt a rising excitement.
“Not really. Had a foster mom who was really into plants,” the other shrugged as he started on his hoodie. “Plus I had like a one year phase where I was sort of big on science but it was just because I wanted to set things on fire.”
The confession was unexpected and in some way charming. As she stared at the Legion she could picture him with that mask burning things down with chemicals. For some reason it didn’t appall her as much as it probably should have. She tilted her head as curiosity got the better of her.
“What ended the phase?”
Frank paused as he had gotten his hoodie down his arms. He wasn’t wearing a shirt.
“Got my ass sent back to foster care. That and I found out matches and lighter fluid worked just as well and didn’t require any studying,” he answered bluntly.
“Sorry,” Claudette lowered her gaze though she wasn’t quite sure if she was apologizing for what he said or for the fact she was now staring.
She had, by now, seen enough shirtless males that it didn’t really surprise her anymore but this was a completely different scenario for her. Not only was she standing in a room with a shirtless killer but she was standing in a room with a shirtless killer who was covered in a plethora of what looked like scorch marks. To think, back in the basement those marks looked terrible but seeing them now in better lighting they were a lot worse than she had initially thought. What in the world happened to him?
“Come ‘ere,” Frank spoke then as he took a seat on the side of the bed.
Somehow just him sitting there, shirtless and with his mask still on was more intimidating than when he was fully dressed and wielding a knife. It gave Claudette pause and made her rethink her choice of coming here but it was far too late to change her mind. Trying to hide her nervousness she stepped forward until she stood before him.
“What happened to you? I mean there’s no way that one of use could have done something like this to you in a trial,” she asked as her gaze tracked a hazy dark strip that stretched along his shoulder and down to his bicep.
“Gotta get down on your knees and ask me, baby doll. I don’t like when people stand over me, makes me fucking antsy.”
“O-oh I...right, sorry,” the words flew out of Claudette’s mouth as guilt hit her. She hadn’t even considered the possible implication of her actions as she settled down into the space provided between camo clad legs. Well at least not until she looked up to come face to face with that smiling mask. “Is this better?”
“Yeah...perfect,” Frank finally answered eventually as he took a firm but gentle hold of her chin. “You can work like this right or do I need to lay down?”
“No, this should be fine if this is the extent of your injuries.”
And as if to make his point he hooked his thumb into both the top of his bullet belt and pants and tugged his hand downwards that even with the minimal give Claudette could see that what she was seeing was in fact, not, the extent of his injuries. A noise of surprise left her as she just sat there and stared. There was no way her mere presence at Ormond could make up for that. With how bad everything looked she was amazed he could stand let alone do a trial without any outward signs of discomfort.
“Aren’t you in pain?” she asked, finally moving her eyes back up.
“Why? Are you going to kiss it all better for me? If so maybe I should lay back.”
As ignorant as she could be when it came to the opposite sex Claudette had quickly caught on to the not so subtle tone that had wrapped around his words. It made her heart pick up its pace ever so slightly.
“Salve,” she said and fumbled with the latches of the medkit. “I have slaves that I can put on them or at least most of them. I don’t know how well it will work on you but lavender and arnica usually do well with bruising.”
“What are you waiting for then kitten? You were jumping to touch me back in that basement so here’s your chance. Daddy’s willing and ready to go,” Frank sat back some, opening his legs up wider.
If it wasn’t for the fact that Claudette had always taken the act of healing seriously she might have balked at his choice of words. Instead she told herself it was just the way he was before grabbing one of the tins and unscrewed the cap. Looking back up she took a moment as she stared at the bare skin displayed in front of her. Usually she was only needed to take care of a moderately sized wound or bruise. Sitting there looking at Frank she didn’t know where to start.
“What?” the lighter tone he had been using with her before had been replaced with the harsher, combative edge she remembered him having back at Ironworks.
“It’s uh...nothing,” she shook her head and carefully reached for his right arm.
She flinched when he held it out to her and nearly apologized for it but caught herself at the last minute. Gently she took a hold of his arm and looked the marks over before she noticed the bloodied bandages around his hand.
“Can I take these off? I have some clean ones I can give you afterwards.”
For a second it seemed that the killer had tensed up before he withdrew his arm.
“Yeah, let me do it,” Frank muttered before he set to work unraveling the filthy wraps that he deposited on the floor before presenting his arm again.
From what Claudette could see, the dark markings didn’t extend past his wrists but as she turned his hand over she paused. While she had expected his hands to be rough she hadn’t expected the number of old scars littering the other’s palms. Curious she reached for his left hand to find it just as scarred up, if not more as several circular marks stood out along his palm. Absentmindedly she ran her fingers over them before black ink caught her attention. Roman numerals. It was small, no larger than a half an inch. Tilting her head she read the numbers: 12.25.90. A date. Frank’s fingers closed around her own just then, stopping her gentle caress.
“As much as I like the attention I thought you were supposed to be rubbing me down,” he teased.
“Sorry I was just-”
“Just a bit,” Claudette admitted as she collected a small amount of salve on to her fingers and took Frank’s right arm into her grasp once more. This time she didn’t let herself become distracted as she began to carefully work the balm into his skin.
“Have you ever made a promise to yourself? Like something big enough that everything you do going forward is shaped by it?" Frank's voice came softly as she continued treating his wrist and forearm.
"No, I don't think so."
"Yeah, well that's what that date is for me. That day while all the other kids were ripping into wrapped presents thinking some fat fuck in a red suit actually gave a rat's ass about them I was making a promise to myself. I told myself I was never going to feel sorry for myself again. That I was going to control my life," he explained airily though something told Claudette that the topic was a sore spot for him.
"Were you able to keep the promise to yourself?" she asked as her hand slid up a toned bicep. For someone with such a lithe form he packed quite a good bit of muscle.
"Yeah. Haven't broken it yet with the exception of ending up in this place. Though I gotta admit I’m doing a pretty good job making it work for me."
“Got you here don’t I kitten?”
There was something about the way he said those words that made her smile as she leaned up on her knees to focus on the darkened flesh just above his bicep. The bruises there blocked out most of the tatted words encircling the appendage. This time she couldn’t read it.
“I’m not interested in preserving the status quo; I want to overthrow it...Machiavelli.”
She must have had a surprised look on her face because he snorted.
“Let me guess, you pegged me as only a guy with good looks and a hard on for violence.”
“I didn’t say that.”
“Don’t have to but you probably would have thought it eventually. Most people do,not that I can blame them. I mean look at me,” Frank made a brief gesture towards himself. “I don’t exactly scream academically inclined.”
“Well you know what they say,” Claudette moved over to his left arm. “Never judge a book by its cover.” She gave a light hum then as she came to a particular ugly set of crisscrossing marks. “So can I ask you now what happened to you?” she cautiously pressed the subject. The last thing she wanted to do was aggravate him but he had said that she had to ask without standing over him and right now she was on her knees.
“Let's just say that the fucking Spider Bitch didn’t take too kindly to me throwing my trial for you so she thought a little bit of corporal punishment was in order.” He shrugged then. “It’s just one of the ways she tries to keep us in line but I don’t regret what I did so don’t you dare try to pity me over this.”
“I don’t pity you,” she stated simply. She honestly didn’t. She did however feel guilty.
“Good, keep it like that.”
For a while they were both quiet as she finished up his arm which meant it was time to get to work on his chest and abs. Heat crept up the back of her neck as she tried to decide how she wanted to go about this.
“Um…” she began but thankfully Frank seemed to be aware of her conundrum.
“Work your way up and then you can get my back,” he instructed and so she did.
Strange how it was only now that she realized just how warm his skin was. Perhaps this is why he seemed so nonplussed about walking around such a cold place without a shirt under his jackets. He probably ran hot. Or perhaps it was just because the resort was adequately heated that the shirt would be overkill but then again he could have just worn a shirt without his jackets. It was such a silly thought to be so consumed with but Claudette had always been prone to getting fixated on things no matter how inconsequential they appeared.
“Hey,” Frank's hand twisted loosely in her hair before he pulled her head back to better look at her. “I asked you a question.”
“Sorry, what was it? I didn’t hear you."
“You were crying earlier and I want to know why.”
The way he said it didn’t leave much room for debate but still Claudette found herself hesitating as she lowered her gaze.
“It’s just that I was upset but I’m fine now,” she answered, hoping that he’d be satisfied with that but the way his hand remained in her hair told her that she wouldn’t be so lucky.
“That nosy bitch said something to you again didn’t she?” Frank sighed in annoyance as he moved both his hands to cradle Claudette’s face. “What did she say? Actually no, don’t tell me. It’s obvious she didn’t get the fucking memo after the last lesson I taught her so it looks like another one is in order,” he leaned in just enough where he could press his mask against her forehead. “Legion 102, you don’t fuck with what’s mine.”
His thumbs brushed over her cheeks then, sliding back in forth before he abruptly stood up though he kept a hold of her. The action had forced Claudette to crane her head back further as she looked up at him while her mind became a chaotic mess.
“Come on, let me get you something to wear,” he removed his hands finally and stepped around her.
Unsure of what she should do, Claudette climbed to her feet and simply watched as Frank threw open the closet door and began to rifle through it. Kate would be jealous to know that one of the killers had a wardrobe to store their things in even if they didn't have much. She couldn’t help but smile at the thought as she let her gaze settle on the back of Frank’s head. Brunette. For some reason or another she had expected that. She had also expected to see a large tattoo taking up the expanse of his back but aside from those same ugly bruises and a few scars that dominated his right side it was surprisingly bare. The only ink he seemed to have was what looked to be two words just under a trimmed nape.
“Here, put this on and then we can go,” Frank spoke then as he turned back around with a dark zip-up hoodie in one hand and a shirt in the other. He held the jacket out towards her.
Taking the jacket, Claudette pulled it on as she watched the other get the shirt over his head before he went to fetch his discarded jackets and to her concern, his knife.
“We’re going somewhere?” she asked as she tried to stamp down her nervousness.
“Told you I was going to take you out didn’t I?”
Nervously Claudette watched as he pulled the roll of bandages from her medkit and set about rewrapping his hands. His experience was obvious with the way he had finished in a matter of minutes before he grabbed something from the dresser. Sliding it into the pocket of his hoodie he proceeded to tuck his knife into the back of his belt as he approached her.
“Don’t worry kitten, you’re gonna love this,” he insisted and with that tugged the hood up over her head and pulled her towards the bedroom door.