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i know it's mad, but if i go to hell, will you come with me, or just leave?

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- DALLON -

It had been two days.

Two days since Ryan went missing, since Dallon's life crashed down around him.

Two days of darkness, skin dyed a grey because of his constant stream of tears.

Two days of having Brendon sew up every cut he etched onto himself, thankful that the servant never asked any questions.

Dallon woke up at midnight of the second night, body cramped up uncomfortably in the bathtub, eyes swollen and puffy. While crying worn him out to his bones, sleeping was impossible in an empty bed, which was why Dallon found himself sleeping in the empty bath, fully clothed, head resting against the cold wall.

He had picked out the stitches of his original cut, curls of golden thread pulled loose out of his scab, fingers prying at the wound again. It didn't matter how many times Brendon re-did the stitches, Dallon always refused to fight his urges to scratch at it, ignoring the pain it brought.

His head was a graveyard of bruises, constantly throbbing to an uneven circuit of pain, falling limp over his crumpled-up body. Sometimes Dallon would let it smack against the wall, eyes blacking out momentarily before he had to come back to the cruel reality.

Two new cuts had made their home on his left leg, more shallow than the previous. He left those stitches to be, healing up easily, unlike the cavity in his chest.

It was the one cut Brendon couldn't sew up- the hollow cave in his heart, spiked with venom and dead roses, black petals continuously falling from Dallon's eyes. The demon was numb to it by now, the gaping hole that winds flowed through, howls of past memories echoing in his heart.

The voice inside his head had merged with him now; no longer was it a stranger hissing those insults in his ear- it was him. Dallon's own conscience reminded him constantly of his own fault, how he let Ryan disappear because of his own carelessness.

He didn't try to fight it anymore. It was easier to be swept away by its black wave of poison than to wrestle with the thoughts, to be utterly consumed with the shadows of his mind. Dallon's hands furled and unfurled on their own accord, the tiny tingles of stars returning in his fingertips. Falling numb was something that happened too often now, when his own hands on his own skin would scare him, unable to feel their touch.

Brendon had brought him food, brought him water, had knocked on the bathroom door and entered to find him curled up in the bathtub again. Dallon's legs didn't fit properly in the tub, so they hung over the side, shoes balancing precariously from his toes.

Yet Dallon touched none of it. The smell of meat, vegetables or freshly baked bread didn't tempt him at all, food growing as cold as his skin did. How could Dallon eat- no, how could Dallon take care of himself while Ryan was out there, possibly dead?

When he sat up with a groan, Dallon discovered that Brendon had taken away all the food and left water on the counter, the glass magnifying the spider behind it. The spiders were a common reoccurrence; no matter how many Dallon crushed, they'd always return to torment him, inspecting him silently on faraway surfaces.

Dallon stared as the spider climbed up the glass, flipped over the edge and perched itself right above the water, appearing to drink from the glass. He watched blankly as it scurried away to wherever their nest was, somewhere behind the bathroom cabinets.

The demon's legs quivered beneath him as he got up to drink the water, anything to rid his throat of the burning taste that crept up from his stomach. Dallon was too exhausted to care that an arachnid just drank from his water, holding the glass to his lips, slamming it against the counter when he finished draining it.

Another glance in the mirror would've normally brought on a thunderstorm of tears, but this time, Dallon just stared at himself. His lips were stained with the remains of his tears, cracks in them from where his teeth ripped up the skin. The mirror itself was covered in smudges of ink, fingerprints that painted a horrible picture, one of the world Dallon lived in. The world without light.

With no Ryan around, everything was bland and dark. Nothing even mattered anymore- not the sun that wouldn't refuse to stop shining, not the moon that only shed light on Dallon's imperfections, not the decaying roses that lined every room. It was as if someone removed every feeling from the demon, leaving him to wander around aimlessly, braindead and emotionless. A puppet of a demon, insides replaced with stuffing, sewn together at his seams.

The worst things were the hallucinations, when his mind would play a cruel game on him. Dallon would dream that Ryan was laying in the bathtub with him, resting his head on the demon's shoulder, safe and healthy. The hallucinations were so real Dallon could nearly feel his heartbeat and the tickle of his breaths against his neck- but when he heard Ryan's voice, that was when Dallon would reach out for him, met with stale air. Sometimes it'd be mundane things, like asking Dallon to move his arm, or for a kiss; but sometimes it was Ryan's screams, filling Dallon's until he wanted to scream along too, terrified that someone was hurting his angel.

For short moments, when Dallon had the good hallucinations, everything would be warm and full again, that wonderful fuzziness that made his stomach tremble with love. Dallon would replay their dance in his mind, closing his eyes and letting his skull connect with the wall, brought to another land where Ryan's rugged hands still fit in his. But the moment would be tugged down the drain of the bathtub, world left even colder and barren than before.

Dallon paid no attention to the slap of feet outside his room, the soles of shoes meeting with metal, then carpet. He gravely laid back down in the tub, a sigh coming from his chest, joints crackling as he rubbed his cheek.

Jagged white lines were embedded with every inch of skin on his cheeks, scratches from nails that he couldn't stop. It was as if Dallon's body had detached from his brain, and whoever was left in charge wanted to destroy it as much as possible, hands yanking at his hair, horns and skin in sharp movements.

The door swung open and ricocheted off the wall, knocking into Brendon's knees. Dallon didn't jump- only looked up at the servant, eyes heavily lidded, hands fumbling around the shredded fabric of his sleeves.

"Your majesty!" Brendon cried out, a grin on his face. Why was he grinning in a time like this? Did he not realize that life wasn't worth living anymore, not while the world still got to spin while Dallon rotted from the inside?

Dallon raised an eyebrow, bringing his knees to his chest and hugging them, moving his legs out of Brendon's way.

"I- I-" Brendon seemed like he didn't want to spit out whatever news he had, something that annoyed Dallon's dead nerves.

"What is it?" He croaked, voice scraggly and torn up. The window of the bathroom caught the moonlight, spreading it on Brendon's ecstatic face, while it only cast shadows on Dallon's.

"I need you to follow me." Brendon beckoned for Dallon to stand, halfway out the door. Dallon didn't want to leave the safety of the bathtub, the place where his dead body could lay properly, surrounded by the heads of lifeless roses. He could only pray that no one visited his makeshift grave, catching the rose petals between his fingers and letting them crumble to dust, just as his fervor had.

But something in Brendon's voice coaxed him out of the grave, leaning on the walls for balance, listening closely for Brendon's next words- the words that would change his life once again.

"I know where Ryan is."

- RYAN -

The days no longer passed by in hours.

They passed by in moments of pain, each time of day bringing a new type to Ryan. Breakfast was new cuts to his tongue, lunch was stealing more of Dallon's writing and changing the words into something hideous, and dinner was burning his arms with candles.

Of course there was always the snacks in between meals, like kicking and punching and spitting, tangling Ryan's hair and snickering new taunts, chock-full of the worst things Ryan had ever heard. The way they spoke made Ronnie seem like a saint, words replaying in his ears even after they were hissed.

Ryan had been sleeping with one eye open, head flopped to the side, leaving a kink in his neck. He was waiting for them to kill him so that the torture would stop, and he'd finally be able to escape and wither away into the welcoming darkness. She'd wrap her arms around him like his mother used to, letting him burrow in her neck like he did with Dallon, slipping into a comfortable eternity of nothing.

Dallon had explained to Ryan on earth what happened to people who died in hell, either by chance or on purpose. They were deaths with no more afterlife, just a lost soul left to float through the outside of reality forever, an immortal free from the chains of existing.

Ryan wanted nothing more than to float away, but in the worst way possible. It held the same freeness that floating with Dallon held, except this time, he'd never drop back down into Dallon's arms. Anything during these moments would be better than the torture, even death, which had to come sooner or later.

He was slapped awake, jolting upright in the chair, saving his breath for another round of cries for help. Ryan had no idea where he was, but it seemed like it wasn't anywhere close to the palace, screams that were ignored constantly. He only knew that the servants disappeared through the door and returned with food, something Ryan would reach for even though he was bound to the chair.

The knife woman had fed him a bottle of water, but she held it too high, making him choke on it. Ryan sputtered and coughed out the stray water, soaking into his bloodstained shirt, unable to dry his stinging cheeks.

His cries had slowed into shredded words, pleading them to show mercy and let him go. Ryan'd ask them why they were doing this, but no one understood his garbled sentences, impossible to speak with the slits on his tongue.

"Wake up." She demanded, as if Ryan wasn't already awake. His mind had gone from plain tired to deranged exhaustion, running through emotions dozens by the second before he was left empty, images of Dallon flitting through his mind.

His heart gave a weak palpitation at the sight of a saw, but Ryan couldn't be bothered to care anymore. Would they cut off his hand? Head? Finger? It didn't matter- it'd all bring pain, Ryan's new best friend.

One of the twins held the saw against his horn, the other three people holding onto his head to keep him still. Two hands were wrapped around his other horn, two full of Ryan's hair, two around his neck.

When they first started to pull the tool back and forth, Ryan couldn't feel the teeth of the saw chew away at his horn. They were only cutting half off, a half-assed attempt in Ryan's opinion. Why not go for all of it? They had the time and the tools, but these idiots didn't seem to think further.

The unidentifiable servant hadn't returned since the first day, but Ryan didn't care much about them. It was probably another sicko, there to watch the grand show of beating Ryan like a circus animal, throwing taunts at him, just waiting for him to bite.

When the metal of the saw met the center of Ryan's horn though, that's when the unbearable agony begun. He yowled and thrashed in their hold, pain swimming through his skull, vision going blurry. His body had given up on producing adrenaline and left him to tolerate the pure distress, he familiar taste of blood spreading on his tongue as Ryan bit open his past wounds.

Why couldn't it end already? Why couldn't they stop their horrible game and put him out of his misery? And why was he even here in the first place?

Ryan struggled and struggled in their grip, but nobody dared loosen their grasp, saw creaking and groaning against the bone. His voice cracked as he screamed at the top of his lungs, heaving for air, neck muscles aching from being contorted.

All hope was lost. Ryan was ready to close his eyes let let death consume him whole, fading away into the void for a forever of darkness. Nothing seemed better at that moment than slipping away into eternal sleep, to escape his abusers.

As he prepared to submit to the claws of death, Ryan took in slow breaths, just as Dallon had taught him. Right now he was floating away from reality and needed to ground himself- he was floating in the opposite direction than usual though, sun eclipsing in his mind.

In- one, two, three, four. Hold- one, two, three, four. Out- one, two, three, four. Hold- one, two, three, four.

Ryan's heart was pounding much too fast to focus on, so breathing to his own beat was the next best option, deaf to his tormentors' jeers. If Dallon were here right now, he'd tell Ryan how much of a good job he was doing, how amazing he was coping with it. Even though he was doing a terrible job, letting his mind wander to other thoughts of panic and fright, Dallon would still praise him, guiding him through it.

Too tunneled-in on his breathing, Ryan didn't feel thick beads of blood roll down the remaining half of his horn, black teardrops oozing from the inside of the bone. They fell like black rain, running down the side of Ryan's head and pooling in his ear, strangely warm. Ryan knew Dallon had black blood- but he didn't, or at least wasn't supposed to. The cuts on his tongue had flooded with ordinary red blood, yet the open wound of his horn bled Dallon's inky blood, the same blood as the spiders'.

Ryan stopped focusing on his breathing, a mistake he should've never made. Everything came rushing back all too fast, suffocating him, worries and injuries binding around his lungs and squeezing. Breathing had, once again, become impossible, short, rapid little breaths falling past his lips, weak body pulling and pushing at the rope. His rope burn had turned into a full-fledged rash, vines of raw skin creeping up his wrists, searing into his forearms just as badly as the actual burns did.

He was having another panic attack- a regular occurrence at this point. The air in the room was too thin, everything too tight on his lungs, wiggling and rocking the chair back and forth on its hind legs.

Ryan was going to die. For real this time, not the type of death with an afterlife. It was too hard to breathe, tears slipping down his cheeks as he gagged on an invisible hand that was choking him. He knew it was over when his vision started to flicker, eyes submerged in dark, then too much light to handle.

Dallon. The only thing that would save him would be Dallon. Ryan silently prayed again for Dallon to save him, blood rushing to his head in a tsunami, making it pound horribly. But his prayers went unheard once again, leaving him destitute and alone, accepting his fate and letting all the air escape from his lungs. Ryan didn't care about dying anymore. He didn't care about anything.

That was, until the door burst open and Dallon stormed in, look more rabid than he ever had.

- BRENDON -

It wasn't an easy decision, telling Dallon.

For the past two days Brendon had been feuding with the dilemma, mind alternating between rightful and smart, good and selfish.

He had run over every single possible outcome a million times, and telling Dallon was the only one that stood out. Sure, he could get killed or fired, but there was also the chance that Dallon listened to his reasoning.

If Brendon was just a bit more morally right, that's the choice he would've made. Tell Dallon, deal with the consequences. But lying was so much more enticing than facing the truth- as much as Brendon wanted to think he was virtuous, he valued his own wellbeing more than being selfless.

That's why he was planning to tell Dallon he "found" Ryan, not that he had known the entire time while he let Dallon suffer silently. The past 24 hours had been literal hell for Brendon, having to stomach Dallon's open cuts, threading a needle through the ripped skin and wiping away the blood that gushed out. Brendon couldn't let Dallon see the disgust on his face, not while he was so mentally unstable, where one wrong look would send him over the deep end.

The vile taste swimming in his stomach was never ending, leaning over the trash can when the images of Dallon's insides surfaced in his mind, holding down any of his own cries. Brendon's gut always jerked when Dallon would wail, or the thud of him banging his head against the wall, when Brendon would have to intervene and talk him through it.

Dallon seemed to go through different stages of emotions, veering between normal and extreme. At one end of the spectrum, there was hitting his head or tearing out his hair, muttering quiet abuse to himself. That was when Brendon would stop listening from behind the bathroom door and interrupt his harm, gentle hands grasping the demon's wrist, firmly telling him not to hurt himself. Dallon would behave like a confused child in return, cocking his head when Brendon explained to him that he couldn't whack his forehead against the bathroom wall. The words would go in one ear and out the other, but at least Dallon wouldn't be thumping his palms against his temples anymore, instead laying there like a corpse, staring at the ceiling.

Brendon hated it when Dallon did that, sick to his stomach with how much shame he held. No matter how many times he brought Dallon food or sewed up his cuts, it never fixed the disgusting feeling in his abdomen, the outbreak of regret that made his skin itch. He had broken Dallon, and nothing he did would fix it, no matter how many glasses of water he brought him.

The demon's skin was always freezing, faded into a sickly grey colour, eyes sunken into the ebony caverns of his sockets. Brendon felt like he was talking to the undead, trying to wipe away the ash of Dallon's tears with his sleeve, giving up when Dallon wouldn't respond to his comfort.

"I'm sure Ryan is out there safe..." Brendon would crouch next to the tub, cold sweat soaking into the thin fabric under his arms when Dallon would stare straight ahead. "He wouldn't want you to hurt yourself... he'd be sad if he saw you hitting your head."

He'd grow frustrated when Dallon would remain stoic, eyes chillingly emotionless, unresponsive. It was as if he was far away; like he had left his body as a vessel, a dead husk. His movements were almost animatronic, hands flying to pick at his cheeks, slowly putting them down when Brendon would scold him.

God, not even his children were this difficult. When Brendon's annoyance at Dallon stubbornness would get to a point where Brendon wanted to yell, he'd remind himself how this was his fault, how he had taken away Dallon's family. Brendon's hate would cool quickly, reproaching Dallon in a different manner, dabbling away the blood on his slack arm.

His final decision came to him while he was taking away the cold food outside Dallon's door, frowning at the untouched plates. As Brendon walked away, he heard a a familiar sound.

Repeated clunks, Dallon's whimpers and barely-audible words were slipping out from under the door, making Brendon's heart tumble into the abyss. He had just talked Dallon through another outburst, holding onto his bony wrists and telling him Ryan wouldn't want him to claw up his arm.

But when Brendon entered the room, Dallon wasn't punishing himself. For the first time since Ryan went missing, Dallon was sleeping, eyelids painted in royal purples and grim blacks, head resting on his shoulder. The thudding was him twitching in his sleep, softly calling out for Ryan, using the pet names Brendon heard so often. His nose scrunched up as his shallow breaths quickened, tongue falling over the words, eyebrows furrowing in woe as his hands reached out around the tub.

It was heartbreaking, watching Dallon unconsciously search for Ryan, choking out a whine. Dallon's skeletal fingers were winding around the golden thread, tearing it back up from his skin, soaked in blood as his hands plucked up the stitches from the crevice in his arm.

Brendon knew he had to reunite him- he didn't even know if he had a choice anymore. His heart was constantly heavy, and he had tried everything to stop himself from feeling so terrible. Every dish he brought, every cut he sewed up, every time he rushed into the room to stop Dallon from smashing his head; none of it cured the ache in his chest. So Brendon brought the food to the kitchen, working up the nerve to tell Dallon, rubbing his ring finger as he walked through the dark hallways.

Without Dallon around, nobody had bothered to upkeep the manor, candles blown out. Dallon had only left the bathroom twice- both times to pull decaying roses from the vases, plucking their dry petals and watching them fall to the ground. The way his entire face remained blank and empty made Brendon's bones shiver, roaming the halls like a lost ghost, searching for his love. But his soul would wander forever, unless Brendon revealed Ryan's location.

It made him feel like Oprah, reuniting a lost family, except Oprah didn't tear apart the families in the first place. Also, Oprah didn't live in hell, and her guests weren't demon boyfriends.

When Dallon's eyes flared at his words, Brendon knew he did the made he right decision. He silently followed the seething demon, stomach trembling at the waves of fury that came off Dallon, staring at the twitching snakes on his back.

Brendon had only seen the look in Dallon's eyes once elsewhere- and it was on a wild dog who was foaming at the mouth, trapped in an alleyway with Brendon.

Brendon hadn't won the fight against that dog, but maybe this time, it was good to be on the deranged animal's side.

- DALLON, RYAN & BRENDON -

Red dripped down Dallon's vision, teeth gritted together so hard it felt like lock jaw. Yet he couldn't feel it, couldn't feel anything but the blisters bubbling over in his brain, hands clenched so hard his nails were tattooing his palms.

When he shoved open the door, the sight of his angel tied up only fed the wildfire deep inside him. The flames enveloped every part of his brain until heat was laying thick on his skin, sloughing off as his hands jerked up.

Dallon's eyes darted around the room, taking in the people he wanted to harm. The people he wanted to strangle until they were gargling their own blood, to peel off their eyelids so they couldn't escape his wrath, to rip their veins out and knit them around their corpses.

No one got to touch what was his. No one got to hurt Ryan. No one would escape alive.

The first person to lunge at Dallon was a scraggly little bug, frizzy fringe covering their eyes like a curtain. One elbow to the head and they fell to the ground like a bowling pin, fueling the crave for revenge in Dallon's mind.

His triumph was short lived, turning on his heel to catch their twin before they could run down the hall. But their uniform slipped between Dallon's fingers, stick-legs tripping over each other as they sprinted out the door.

Adrenaline started to rush through Brendon's head, convincing him to chase after the escapee, feet slamming into the ground under him. The twin turned down the mazes of empty halls, glancing over their shoulder every few moments to see if Brendon was still on their tail.

Meanwhile, Dallon's frenzied eyes landed on Ryan, the fear on his face feeding Dallon's violent urges. His attention was peeled away when a woman jumped on his back, wrapping her arms around his neck, trying to pull him to the ground with her.

At the same time, a blond man grabbed Dallon's shoulders, attempting to wrestle with him. Dallon copied his movement while his tendrils dealt with the woman on his back, her fighting style much more refined than the man's blunt one.

The taste of blood filled Dallon's mouth as he accidentally bit his tongue, too preoccupied with overpowering the muscular man to care. Every instinct that had been hard-wired into his DNA unraveled, trapping his human side away, fighting with every animalistic tactic he had.

A knee to the stomach disconnected the man from Dallon, pushing him into the stone wall behind him. The demon had managed to contain the woman on his back, arms and legs tied together, holding her still while he contemplated his next move.

Everything seemed to move slow, giving Dallon time to bask in his victims' crimes, heart sinking lower and lower into despair with every glance at Ryan. He couldn't make out exactly what they had done to him, but he knew whatever it was, it had hurt Ryan to the bone.

It made the animosity in Dallon blaze higher, bearing his teeth, ready to harvest the life out of both of them.

In moments like these, Dallon was proud to be inhuman, free of the sympathy ordinary people felt. All he could think of was how delicious their screams would sound, how slippery their corpses would be once Dallon was done painting them in blood. And it was then he knew he would never truly be human, too giddy at the prospect of murder to obtain human morals. Being a monster of the night was usually an indignity, but Dallon had never felt more alive, corrupted with bloodthirst.

A few kicks to the chest winded the man, fright flickering behind his eyes, Dallon's favourite sight in the world just behind Ryan on sunny mornings.

"Stop- don't hurt me, I wasn't part of this-" The man choked, holding his thick hand out in front of him. A wicked smile tugged at Dallon's stained lips, taking slow steps towards the man, rubbing his hands menacingly.

"Oh, but that's where you're wrong," Dallon's joints cracked as he bent down, grin growing wider as his free tendrils restrained the man. The women attached to his back was squirming against his limbs, but he held her firmly in place, elbowing her in the ribs to quiet her down.

Dallon was going to savor every repulsive moment of vengeance, making sure Ryan had a front row view of the murders.

Normally, Ryan would be horrified by Dallon's actions, especially when he was as crazed as this. But now it made Ryan nothing but happy, the raw intensity on Dallon's face giving him butterflies.

His savior, his hero. And Ryan never thought he'd be saved by a psychopathic demon, yet here he was, watching in glee as Dallon wrapped his hand around the man's neck.

"You see, you took something that was mine," Dallon lowered his voice, palm pressing harder to feel the scurry of the man's pulse, thumb digging into the natural dip of his neck muscles. "And now, I'm going to take something of yours."

A wonderfully malicious idea hatched in Dallon's brain, toes curling at how horribly vile it was. Early on in his days as a demon, Dallon would slip into the mind of his victims and seek out their childhood fear, bending and twisting it to his will. Bringing nightmares to life was his one indulgence, the only thing that gave him petty pleasure during those dark times.

But now, it was a perfect idea. One hand keeping the man on the wall, Dallon closed his eyes and peeked into his mind, searching around the corners for his childhood fear. Everyone had one, even the coldest people, something Dallon could mold into his own weapon.

There it was:

Kissing another man.

Dallon scoffed at it, hatred building up in his chest. What a blithering homophobe- but Dallon knew exactly what this idiot would suffer from.

Preference was no fault, but at further inspection, Dallon discovered an uncovered pile of hatred towards same-sex couples. It made his blood boil over again, hand tightening on the man's neck, making him wheeze.

Meanwhile, Brendon had caught up with the second twin, shoving him to the ground. This was his chance to redeem himself, to help save Ryan and take revenge on the people who abused him.

Brendon sat on the twin's back, listening closely to the crackle of their brittle bones, restraining their hands behind them. He couldn't bring himself to kill another human being, so Brendon kicked their head with the toes of his shoes until their eyes snapped shut, loosing consciousness. Brendon decided he would sit there on the twin's back until Dallon returned, ignoring the concerned stares from other servants. The two of them had ended up in the courtyard, body sprawled across the golden ripples in the marble, sun shining directly on them.

Ryan's pain had been triumphed by his pure enjoyment, so grateful that Dallon was here that his mind almost slid into his sweet spot. The rush in dopamine was almost enough to get him there, but he stayed grounded, watching closely as Dallon continued his game.

"There's something you should know..." Dallon's face inched closer to the man's, speaking under his breath, using that dark, sultry voice Ryan loved. He softly cupped the man's jaw, tilting his head so that he was forced to stare into Dallon's eyes, a sly smile on his face.

A disgusting feeling stirred in Dallon's stomach, ashamed of treating another man so gently while Ryan was still tied up. But it was all part of his plan, to bring the blond man's idiotic fear to life.

Dallon was no stranger to insults, but this one cut a different vein, especially when he knew what this man had done to his love. Dallon didn't know his motive, but his blatant homophobia was pissing the demon off further, angered that someone looked down at his relationship with Ryan.

Insult Dallon all you wanted, but no one got to abuse Ryan. Dallon would take every piece of slander if it meant Ryan never had to hear it again- the one thing he hoped never to face in hell.

"No one ever..." Dallon whispered, nose pressed against the man's, feeding off of the disgust behind his eyes. "Ever, ever hurts my precious angel and gets away with it."

The blond man was writhing against Dallon's tendrils, but the demon only crawled further onto his lap, wrapping his legs around the man's wide waist. Their faces were so close Dallon could feel the man's panicked breaths against his lips, smirking to himself at what would come next.

Ryan wasn't sure what was going on, a tiny spark of jealousy igniting in him, pulling feebly at the ropes. Why was Dallon treating him so nicely? Wasn't he supposed to kill them in a flurry and take Ryan into his hands like that?

The man gasped and shouted in alarm as Dallon leaned in, giving him the wettest, sloppiest kiss of his lifetime. His tongue licked at the other man's lips, eyes closed peacefully as the man mumbled and yelled for help, for mercy, for Dallon to stop making out with him.

That gross emotion only flourished in Dallon, but it faded away when he pulled the dagger from its sheath in his belt, familiarizing himself with its curves and points. Kissing someone other than Ryan repulsed Dallon, with the exception of torturing a homophobe for revenge, bringing the tip of the blade down the man's chest.

His ragged shirt sleeves brushed against the man's uniform as Dallon mouthed at his lips, sucking and making obscene smacking noises, dramatically moaning. The man's eyes widened in return, trying his hardest to pull away from the demon, but Dallon's skeletal hand held him in place. It wasn't Dallon's favourite way of getting revenge, but the horror on the blond man's face made everything worth it, even if he was dishonouring Ryan.

Dallon drank up what would be the man's last breaths as he pushed the dagger down, wedging it deep in his heart, prodding around.

"Oh, should I go deeper?" Dallon was still using his low voice, dripping with false arousal, red soaking around the blade. It was Dallon's favourite colour, swiping at the fabric with his hands and bringing it to his lips, making sure the man's last sight was him licking it obscenely off his fingers.

Ryan stared in confusion, frightened by the blood splattering Dallon's face as he pushed the knife further until he was satisfied. All the life drained from the man's eyes, a string of drool connecting their lips as Dallon leaned back, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.

"Disgusting excuse of a human..." He spat, voice as poisonous as venom, standing up. The women on his back had given up struggling and let Dallon's tendrils trap her in place, shouting for help into the one covering her mouth.

Dallon didn't have all the time in the world to play his evil game, so he stood up, brushed himself off and walked over to Ryan, giving his angel a kiss on the forehead.

"I'm sorry baby, I'll have you out of here in a few minutes." Dallon's heart wrenched at the already visible injuries on Ryan's body, lost flames of anger licking his brain again. He was unfazed when Ryan didn't answer, not knowing that he couldn't, tongue sliced up.

"And who do we have here..." Dallon tossed her onto the opposite wall, watching as her body sunk to the floor, legs sweeping beneath her as she prepared to stand up. "Ah ah ah, you're not going anywhere."

Dallon shoved her back down, listening to the crack of her skull connecting with the wall, eyes turning a shade dimmer. He would have to hurry up if he wanted to run out the concussion clock, diving right into the maze of her mind, stuffed fuller than the blond man's was.

It took Dallon a bit, but he finally found the section of her childhood, ignoring everything but the shadowed part.

Dentists. It was a common one in children, something Dallon never understood even though he had never visited the dentist. On earth, he couldn't eat, so there was no need to dirty his teeth with useless food.

A scene flooded Dallon's mind, one that climaxed with her terror, something he was itching for. Murdering someone had never giving him so much delight before, stealing away the life from the people who stole his.

Dallon crouched down, same shameless smile on his face, mind absolutely rotting at how hellishly creepy his plan was.

"What if I told you I could make all your teeth fall out with the snap of my fingers?" Dallon's voice was stuffed full of fake sugar, dripping with sweetness and cheerfulness, eating up the frantic dread on her face as she shook her head. She was too concussed to form full sentences, but she could still understand Dallon's threat well enough, body going cold.

"Oh yes, and it would be so easy." Dallon cupped her chin and ran his thumb across her lips, tightly closed, like that would stop Dallon from finding her teeth.

In reality, he couldn't uproot a full set of adult teeth. Dallon was going to plant an illusion in her mind, making her think that all her teeth suddenly dropped loose, unlocking the childhood fear buried beneath all her other thoughts.

"My my, what beautiful teeth you have," Dallon had pried open her mouth with his hand, examining the perfect rows of pearly whites just as a dentist would. "It would be a shame if they all fell..."

Grinning diabolically, Dallon snapped his fingers crisply, reacting as if her teeth had fallen into his hands even though they all still sat in her mouth. By the looks of it, the illusion was working, her hands reaching up to feel her gums as she mumbled incomprehensible garbage.

Drool started to drip from her open mouth as if she was a toddler again, the whites around her eyes showing as she shouted louder babble, smacking her mouth. Dallon couldn't help but chuckle, staring down at her darkly, pleased at her horror.

"What's wrong- oh my, they're all gone, aren't they?" Dallon gasped, watching as her eyes flitted open and closed, struggling to stay conscious.

He wrapped his tendrils around her neck, wrath zipping through his veins, narrowing his eyes. It was disappointing that his game would be over so soon, but his fun had been spoiled by Ryan's lingering pain, something that Dallon shared.

They had wrung his heart, doing such terrible things to his baby, and Dallon hadn't even pried further. The sight of Ryan in distress, face and clothes drenched in two different shades of blood, arms caked in red marks- it hurt Dallon physically, unrestrained anger setting his nerves aflame, tightening his tendrils around her throat.

"You hurt him..." Dallon's voice was shaking, blood boiling into his view, grinding his teeth down. "You-you touched what was mine."

She started to grab at the tendril around her neck, head thrashing and hitting against the concrete wall. Dallon smirked and bashed her head, a delicious crack echoing through the room, unfurling his tendril and letting her body slump.

A trail of red footprints followed him as Dallon left the corpse, gravitating towards his injured love.

"My baby, my angel, my sweet chéri- the bad people are dead darling, I'm here now." Dallon muttered into Ryan's tangled hair, grunting as he ripped apart the ropes, revealing irritated skin. "Oh my love, I'm so sorry sweetheart, I've got you now."

Ryan's excitement and adrenaline had worn off, leaving him scared and disturbed, clinging to Dallon like a lost child. His eyes kept sweeping the room, expecting some other servant to crawl out of the woodwork and fight them. Ryan's numbness has worn off, every tiny cut, bruise and burn on his body coming back to life in double the strength. All he could do was shimmy out of the bounds and lean into Dallon, whimpering at the ache.

Dallon picked him up delicately and held his head close to him, grimacing at Ryan's heartbeat, fluttering rapidly under his fingertips. His love was shaking horribly, burying his head in Dallon's neck, hiding away from everyone's surprised stares as Dallon carried him to their bathroom.

Brendon stared wide-eyed at the two of them as they walked past silently, both covered in blood. Dallon's attention was focused purely on Ryan, eyes stuck on his love. Confused, Brendon would heave the servant to the now empty room and lock them in there with the corpses of their acquaintances, leaving them to plunge into hysteria.

A weight seemed to have been lifted off of Brendon's shoulders, but the guilt still lingered, praying that Ryan wasn't terrified beyond return.

What would Dallon say? Brendon didn't want to be met with the same furious demon he'd just seen in that room- and what would become of everyone else after something like this?

Could Brendon finally escape hell and find his way back to his family?

- RYAN & DALLON -

Ryan didn't have enough energy to be embarrassed of himself, dressed in ragged clothes, body blooming with plum, crimson and grey. He had been beaten to his bones, cartilage poking out of his skin, unable to stop the shivers from running throughout his body. Every disgusting image he had seen in the past few days was resurfacing, weak whines falling past his cracked lips, coaxing him deeper into Dallon's chest.

Dallon held his trembling flower to his chest, pushing open the bathroom door and ignoring the remnants of outrage that swam through him. The only important thing right now was calming Ryan's hummingbird heart, beating like drops of rain against the windows of his soul- the tears that were slipping down his face, dampening Dallon's collarbones.

"Sweetheart, I need to put you down now," Dallon bent down to pick up the crumpled petals in the tub, a bittersweet gesture- he had his precious rose back, but his petals were wilted and dirtied with dry blood, and Dallon needed to wash him and clean his cuts.

But Ryan wouldn't let go of his shirt, gripping him tightly and breathing in his scent, trying to imprint it in his mind. Ryan never wanted to forget it again, to have to be separated from the tall demon, to be forced to let go of Dallon's big hand. He didn't think he was so dependent on Dallon, but in reality, Ryan didn't know if he'd be able to survive right now without the demon.

Their taunts were still flashing behind his eyes, nuzzling further into the crook of his neck, arms wrapped around Dallon like they'd be ripped apart again as soon as he let go.

Dallon needed to detach Ryan from his chest so he could undress him and bathe him, but from the looks of it, Ryan didn't want to let go of Dallon. The demon smiled softly at the poke of Ryan's nose in his neck, turning into a frown at his tiny whimpers, body trembling.

There was only one choice- get in the bath with Ryan. As much as he didn't want to show his body, Ryan's well-being was much more important than any of his shame.

So Dallon flipped up the bathtub handle, felt the water temperature with one hand as the other rubbed circles into Ryan's back, and started to peel off his baby's clothes.

Every injury on Ryan's body only inflicted more pain on Dallon's heart, pangs of sadness colliding with him as he discovered cut after cut, haphazardly scabbed over, some of them still open. Ryan was too busy watching the door to see Dallon's wistful eyes, running his hands gently over the open wounds, past frustration replaced by anguish and heartbreak.

Once Ryan was naked, clutching onto Dallon like they'd blow away, Dallon had to stop avoiding the unavoidable. He shifted Ryan to one hip, fumbling over his dress shirt buttons, letting it fall to the ground in a pile.

Dallon's face burned with shame when he slipped off his pants, then socks, then, reluctantly, his underwear. Ryan didn't notice Dallon's humiliation, face shoved into the spot in Dallon's neck that he fit in perfectly, legs coiled around his waist just as Dallon's tendrils were coiled around his back.

"I've got you now baby, you're safe with me." Dallon muttered against Ryan's cheek, slowly settling down into the bathtub, water rippling around them. Ryan shivered at the temperature- lukewarm, seeping into his bloody cuts, trickling over his burns. Dallon softly rubbed them in comfort, pressing kisses to the bruises on his face, uttering reassurances into his love's blemished skin.

When Dallon said he wanted to paint Ryan, he never thought it'd be like this- skin blushing different shades of black, blue, purple and red, lines of blood clotting on his cheekbones. Dallon licked his thumb and swiped off the red, concern growing in his chest like a thorned flower when Ryan didn't talk.

"Can you open your mouth for me sweetie?" Dallon said when he noticed Ryan's jaw was closed oddly, sitting uneven. Ryan slowly opened his mouth, showing Dallon the slits lining his tongue, blood surfacing on his tastebuds.

"Oh baby, my sweet angel, poor little thing." Dallon's heart fell at the sight, hand caressing Ryan's face in comfort, trying to contain the anger that flared up again inside him. It was hard to stop his fists from clenching, wishing he could revive Ryan's abusers and bring them more pain for stealing away his flower, ripping off his most beautiful petals.

He absolutely hated to see Ryan like this, all vibrancy and life stolen from him. They had taken away his carefree side, leaving him paranoid and scarred, fingernails digging into Dallon's skin.

Somewhere in the back of his mind, Ryan couldn't believe Dallon had really shown himself, that he had undressed and exposed the barest part of his body. But at the moment, Ryan was too preoccupied with dealing with his own pain, biting down when Dallon's fingers would press a little too hard into the bruises, fighting every urge he had to break down and start weeping.

Dallon finished wiping away the blood, not only on Ryan's body, but on his own too, red stains and clots underneath his nails. Once they were both clean enough, he pulled up the plug and dried off Ryan, searching for lotion in the bathroom cupboard.

Ryan's mind was still hazy from such highs and lows, keeping two hands on Dallon at all times, eyes continuously darting to the door. He knew Dallon would keep him safe, but he still worried that someone else would barge in, stronger and more powerful than Dallon. Air started to soak into his wet skin, making his injuries sting once again, hair plastered to his forehead as Dallon resurfaced from the cupboards.

Silence struck the room as he flipped open the lotion lid and spread it on Ryan's cuts, holding him close on his lap, tendrils tussling his hair.

"Does that feel any better, my love?" Dallon murmured, thumb circling a burn mark on Ryan's upper arm, kissing his forehead and nose.

Ryan gave a small nod, staring up at Dallon with his big, full eyes, pain shining in the tears that dripped down his face.

"Sweetheart, oh doll, don't cry baby. I've got you now mon amour, I'll always have you." Dallon's throat closed at the sight of Ryan crying quietly, long whines slipping past his lips.

Every past time Ryan had cried, Dallon resolved to stay strong and not fall apart too, being brave for Ryan. But he couldn't stop his own tears, overwhelmed with irreparable misery, trying his best to hold Ryan as close as possible and fix his wounds.

Ryan himself didn't know exactly why he was crying- only that sadness had crawled into his chest, heart going cold and clammy, frost climbing up the warm part of his mind. Seeing Dallon's cuts too didn't help, the jagged lines on his cheeks, entwined with golden thread and the ghost of tears.

Something horrible had happened to them, and neither knew if it would happen again. Dallon no longer felt safe here, knowing that disaster could strike at any moment and Ryan could be killed in an instant. Dallon wouldn't be able to live in a world where Ryan was dead.

After a few minutes of sobbing simultaneously, Dallon slowed his own bawls, collecting the broken pieces of his soul. His tears had stained another towel, but Dallon couldn't be bothered to care anymore.

"We'll be okay darling, I promise. No one will ever lay another finger on my precious angel." Dallon whispered softly into Ryan's ear, kissing his way down his face, stopping at his chin. Every new injury Dallon discovered brought him a new shade of pain, daintily running his hand over the small circles of burned skin, feeling the rough scabs under his fingertips. Reading Ryan's body was different now- it opened his eyes to a world of anguish, every small touch to his skin that made Ryan whimper and squirm only made the thick veil of sadness fall further over Dallon's heart.

Ryan couldn't stop thinking about the things they did and said, ducking his head down in embarrassment. Dallon showed so much love all the time- had it made others uncomfortable? Did they express too much affection that it made people want to hurt Ryan? And did Ryan even deserve all of Dallon's love?

"What's wrong, my little rose?" Dallon stopped kissing Ryan's gashes, eyebrows drawn together in deep concern.

Ryan shook his head, avoiding Dallon's prying eyes, arms hanging limp on his lap. Maybe all the affection Dallon gave him wasn't normal... maybe others thought they were weird, and not in a good way.

Dallon had just killed three people for Ryan, and it was odd seeing him so feral then, and now, so soft and gentle. He didn't think he'd ever be able to scrub his mind of the things he'd heard and seen in the past two days, the animalistic fury in Dallon's eyes, the sound their skulls made when it connected with the wall and ground. Thinking about it was enough to bring tears to Ryan's eyes again, a small whine falling past his lips, leaning into Dallon's neck and nuzzling his skin.

Dallon's throat was the one part of him he hadn't scratched up, skin smelling like flowers after the rain, dew drops rolling down Ryan's cheeks as he struggled to stay calm and grounded.

"Oh sweetheart, it's okay, you're all safe here." Dallon ran his hands through Ryan's hair, getting caught in the knots, trying his hardest not to pull at his scalp. "Let's go get in bed and I'll brush your hair, okay baby boy?"

Ryan nodded silently in Dallon's chest, wrapping his arms around the demon and listening to the low beat of his heart, thudding along in a comforting pattern like the thunder of a storm. He laid his head where Dallon's heart was, lulled by its strong pulse, letting Dallon grab a hairbrush and carry him to their bed.

Things wouldn't be normal anymore, that was for sure. Ryan didn't think he'd be able to handle being tied up by Dallon ever again, the lingering feeling of the coarse rope digging into his wrists, the boots they wore smacking against his shin. Everything still hurt terribly, every light press to his body making Ryan cry through his teeth, trying to hold it back.

Dallon couldn't shake the frown from his face, holding Ryan like he was a glass figurine, helping him into a pair of boxers before Dallon put one on too. Ryan's eyes were glued to the door, still quivering in fear, nerves agitated beyond return.

"My pretty angel, my beautiful little king, I'll take care of you sweetheart," Dallon sat him down on his lap and began to brush his neon hair, dye bleeding out, revealing the bleached blond underneath the blue. "I'm here honey, I'll never let you go again."

When Dallon curled a tendril around Ryan's fingers, Ryan rubbed his hand against his face, searching for comfort in the silky limb. It was the opposite of the rope, slipping out of Ryan's hand and cupping his chin, hairbrush pulling at his head. Dallon's long fingers where like icicles on Ryan's scalp, scratching around his ears, ruffling his hair when it was finally smooth.

"There you are, mon belle ange," Dallon smiled gently, opening his arms for Ryan to crawl into. "Does everything feel a bit better?"

Ryan nodded as Dallon began to kiss his hair, working his way to Ryan's nose, hands holding onto Ryan's hips much more lightly than he usually did. The sheets were tangled between their two sets of legs, bodies growing warm under the covers as Ryan stared up at Dallon with his big eyes, letting the demon play with his hair and rub his back.

Ryan's body was more bruised and ripped up than the doll Dallon had found in an alley, a few months before he first ran into his love. Dallon had been scoping out new territory, slipping between the shadows the buildings cast on the hot asphalt, eyes trying to adjust to the fiery sunlight.

He was between two apartment buildings, shielding his eyes from the setting sun. Dusk meant the start of Dallon's day, searching for someone to drain before sunrise, when people woke and he had to hide again.

Dallon's back was glued to the brick wall, slowly shuffling his way out to the street, a blanket of darkness falling over the city. All of a sudden something plush hit him in the head, making the demon's head snap up, ready to fight.

But it wasn't a human looking for trouble. A baby's cry emerged from the window, followed by rushed footsteps and a string of swears. Dallon picked up whatever had hit him and dashed to the nearest alleyway, examining the item.

It was a filthy doll, held together by sloppy stitch-work, seemingly balding her red locks. Dallon smiled at the toy, memories of orphanages unfolding in his mind, and all the crappy dolls he had made over the years. Over time, he'd grown better at needlework, hiding the figurines underneath children's pillows for them to find when they woke up. Of course, occasionally one would wake up and stare at him with curious eyes, which was when Dallon would smirk and hold his finger to his lips.

Children seemed to like keeping secrets, thankfully. So Dallon wasn't caught very often, and he could keep gifting them all the odd toys he made, pulling thread through spare fabric with steady hands. Dallon hadn't made any dolls in a while, thanks to children's infatuation with technology, so he'd take the opportunity to fix this one up and return it to the baby.

It took a few nights of sneaking into craft stores and stealing supplies from schoolteachers, but Dallon finally gave the doll a fresh breath of life, tightening the stitches and sewing a new dress. Dallon crept up the creaky stairs, trying to recall which apartment the doll had fallen from.

When the family was asleep, Dallon slithered into their cramped apartment, tiptoeing to the kitchen. He carefully placed the doll down, giving it's head one last pat, button eyes staring back at him with no emotion. The doll and him shared that, the inability to convey their feelings, eyes blank and lifeless.

And with that, Dallon slid back into the groove of the shadows, cornering some business man on a late-night affair and stealing his energy. Dallon didn't need to stick around to hear the child's reaction, one he'd experienced enough to copy the feeling of making their day. It seemed at this point that all his emotions were copied and pasted from past experiences, seeking out something new, a fresh face that would bring him a new flower field of feelings.

Then he met Ryan. His Ryan, his precious angel, the one person that brought him unbelievable happiness.

It was Dallon's duty to nurse Ryan back to full health, to give him everything he needed to feel safe again. If Ryan didn't felt safe with Dallon, then something was wrong. And if Dallon had done something wrong, he couldn't live with himself until he fixed it for Ryan.

The sun had started to rise outside, shedding an orange glow on everything in the room, including Dallon's opaline eyes. Ryan's mind was working overtime to process anything that was happening, including when someone knocked on the door, making Ryan flinch and grip onto Dallon.

"It's Brendon." A muffled voice from behind the door shouted, opening it cautiously. "I uh- I thought you guys might need some food after that..."

Ryan hid in the crook of Dallon's arm, not wanting to face anyone right now except Dallon. He didn't feel Brendon place the plate down on the end of their bed, didn't see the sorrow in his eyes, and didn't hear Dallon's short 'thank you'.

"It's okay sweetheart, it was just Brendon. He was the one who told me where you were." Dallon planted a kiss to Ryan's hair, shifting the food so that it was in front of them. His stomach had unfroze, remembering that he hadn't eaten for days, and neither had Ryan, skin dangerously pale.

But when Dallon held a piece of bread to Ryan's mouth, he only shook his head, uneasiness behind his eyes.

"Baby, you need to eat for me. Please?" Dallon's stomach grumbled at the smell of the freshly baked bread, but Ryan only refused it again, pulling the sheets up over his head.

It took a few moments of miscommunication, but Dallon finally realized that Ryan was scared of the food being poisoned, which wasn't far fetched considering what they had done to him. So Dallon took a bite out of everything before feeding it to Ryan, ready to sacrifice himself to save Ryan.

It was hard to eat with his scratched tongue, but Ryan washed down everything with water, more thirsty and hungry than he ever had been.

When they were done, Dallon placed the plate on the nightstand and held Ryan to his chest, murmuring soft things.

"My love, I'm so sorry they took you, nothing like that will ever happen again." Dallon cooed, but he knew what he was saying wasn't true. Another gang of servants could very well take Ryan again, and there was nothing Dallon could do about it.

That thought frightened and angered Dallon more than anything, grip tightening on his love. How did it even happen in the first place? How could Dallon just let them take Ryan, without knowing until hours later?

If he wasn't holding Ryan in his arms, Dallon would have smacked his head again, beyond frustrated at himself for letting his guard down. No matter where he went, humans would be vile beings towards him, something Dallon should have seen coming for miles. He had never hated humans more, wishing that Ryan was another species all together, even if he was technically half-demon now. It didn't matter- Dallon felt shameful for hating Ryan's people all together, even if they were evil animals.

Ryan's eyes started to flutter closed, opening them every few seconds to watch the door, head resting on Dallon's chest.

"Why don't you get some sleep, sweetheart?" Dallon lazily kissed Ryan's head, tracing patterns into Ryan's back, lightly dragging his fingers over his cuts. All Dallon wanted to do was take care of his baby, snuggling up to him under the blankets, moving down to rub Ryan's thighs. It was as if every small incision, burn and bruise on Ryan's body had been done to his heart, dreaming of different ways he would've killed the servants even though their lives were already plucked.

Ryan's hair fell into his face when he shook his head, a tiny pout on his trembling lips. His rugged finger ran along Dallon's chest, spelling out a word among his sharp collarbones.

SCARED.

"Oh baby..." Dallon's heart broke at the word, pulling his love close into him until he could feel Ryan's short breaths on his skin.

He could never let go of Ryan again.

"Don't worry mon chéri, if anyone comes for you, they'll be dead before they reach my precious little angel." Dallon's tendrils climbed up Ryan's arms, pleased at the way Ryan's heartbeat loitered under Dallon's bony fingers. His body relaxed, turning to putty in Dallon's arms, letting himself finally become pliant. "Would you like me to sing for you?"

Ryan nodded, ear pressed to the heavy beat of Dallon's heart, eyes slipping away from the door and into the demon's kind eyes.

Dallon began to sing softly, melody gliding through Ryan's ears, soothing him to sleep. Ryan pushed his swollen face further into Dallon's neck, eyelids weighing too much to keep open. The velvety touch of Dallon's tendrils helped him ease into safety, ribbons of shadows curled around his body.

It was a romantic song about bicycles, vampires and France, but Ryan drifted away too quickly to appreciate it. Dallon's hands were keeping him as close as possible, watching the door like a hawk, ears straining to pick up any noise other than Ryan's little breaths.

Dallon would die a thousand times if it meant Ryan could live unharmed, trying to blink back the gooey tears that filled his eyes at the thought of someone hurting Ryan. He had never been so attached to anything before- Dallon had grown so accustomed to the curves of Ryan's body, the divots in his hips, every single sound his rich voice made, it was an addiction.

He knew it wasn't healthy. He knew it wasn't normal to need someone so badly, to rely on Ryan for every warm feeling. But Dallon couldn't stuff down those feelings, unlike every other one he felt. Being with Ryan was his favourite thing in the world, and even if he didn't want to admit it, Dallon had nearly gone insane without him.

Without Ryan, Dallon wasn't whole. His love filled that void in his heart, the one that had been created when God condemned him to a horrid existence. Ryan had seen past his scars, had seen Dallon for who he actually was, not just some deformed monster who terrorized people for fun.

Ryan had spoken so softly, had kissed him so eagerly, had held his hand like they were made to lock together. When Dallon held him from behind, they fit perfectly, especially when Dallon would suck at his neck and tease him ruthlessly. No one had ever given Dallon such pleasure, had made his heart lighter than a ladybug's wings, had filled the black spot inside him with such brilliant sunlight.

But now his sunshine was mute and dark, beautiful light dulled by necessary fear. And Dallon would never,

ever,

ever let anyone abuse his sunshine again. No one else was allowed to touch Ryan except Dallon. No one else was allowed to bring tears to Ryan's eyes unless they were happy ones, the ones Dallon only saw when Ryan was far away in his sweet space, nuzzling the crook in Dallon's neck.

The same space he occupied right now, drooling on Dallon as he slept, a crease between his eyebrows even while he was unconscious. Dallon wanted to rub that tiny crease until Ryan's face relaxed, to get rid of the deep lines etched onto his face like strokes of a pencil. The same lines that inhabited his face when he first spotted Ryan, drumming in the shadows of the stage, skin the colour of stone as if he was a statue. A tired, adorable statue.

"My love..." Dallon whispered even though Ryan was far gone, sleeping peacefully on top of Dallon, weight laying comfortably over the demon like a blanket of warmth. "My sweet little rose, my gorgeous étoile, I'm so sorry baby..."

Dallon swallowed a cry, instead diverting his eyes to watch the sun emerge from the horizon, a hand woven in Ryan's blue hair. "I failed you... I wasn't there to protect you, to keep them from tearing up your beautiful artwork,"

A sniffle ran through the room, trying to hold down his hiccups so Ryan didn't wake, getting some much needed sleep. Dallon couldn't rest, not while someone else might be on their way to harm Ryan.

"All I wanted was- was the best for you... I never wanted them to hurt you..." Dallon squeaked out, voice rising an octave as he fought back his cries. Unable to speak clearly anymore, Dallon relaxed into the pillow, arms wrapped around Ryan tightly, but not tight enough that his injuries would hurt.

He remained like that for hours, eyes switching between the motionless door, the sun that rose outside, and the sunshine on his chest.

When Ryan finally woke up, he shot up and took in the room, expecting someone to whack him across the head for moving so fast. Every muscle in his body had tensed up, preparing to withstand a blow, eyes wide and frantic.

"Shh, sweetheart, it's just me. You're safe honey, I've got you." Dallon cupped Ryan's jaw, bringing him back down to his chest, trying to slow his panicked breaths.

Dallon carefully placed Ryan's hand on his heart, skin warmed by the pads of Ryan's fingers, palm pressed up against his pec. "Feel me baby, I'm right here, they're never going to hurt you again."

Ryan exhaled a sigh of relief, melting into Dallon's warm embrace. He was safe. Dallon had rescued him. It all seemed too good to be true.

"Did you have a good sleep, my love?" Dallon's neck ached from the position, looking down at Ryan, body pressed against his.

Ryan nodded, moving in closer to Dallon, placing his head under the demon's chin. It was the only place he felt truly safe, surrounded by Dallon's scent, like a garden after a thunderstorm.

He hated how skeletal Dallon looked, ashy grey rings around his eyes, cheeks gaunt and covered in stitches. Ryan should've guessed that Dallon would hurt himself, but the realization still stung, coaxing a whimper out of him. Dallon had been doing so well, and then everything messed up and they were back at square one.

Brendon brought them lunch, and a bowl of ice cubes for Ryan to suck on, hopefully soothing the pain on his tongue. Dallon spent the rest of the day kissing his love's body, rubbing more lotion onto the burns and telling him how he'd never let go again, how he was safe now.

They were still laying in bed, Dallon sitting upright against the bed frame while Ryan laid next to him, hands interlaced together. Dallon was brushing his lips against every one of Ryan's fingers, muttering soft praise and reassurance.

Ryan couldn't stand the new scars on Dallon, the way every inch of him was sewn together like Frankenstein's second monster. It made his weak heart weaker, staring at the shiny thread with miserable eyes, a permanent frown on his lips.

Silently, Ryan sat up and climbed onto Dallon's lap, ignoring the dull pain that spread through his body like the plague. With his legs wrapped around the demon, Ryan pressed a kiss to the biggest set of scratches on Dallon's face and just... stayed there, eyes closed, listening to Dallon's heartbeat and appreciating how good he smelled.

"Oh baby, mon amour, mon belle petit étoile..." Dallon's heart melted, warmed by the feeling of Ryan's lips on his cheek, holding his injured body close.

He was whole again. Never again would he be incomplete, one half of a person, an empty soul. Dallon had his love back even if things were different.

Slowly, Dallon rocked them together, cradling Ryan's back with his hand. It was the sweetest moment they'd ever shared, so sugary and sticky Dallon's heart couldn't contain his raw happiness. "My love, my sweet angel. I love you more than anything in the world, such a good boy."

Ryan lips turned up into a smile against Dallon's gashes, the first time he had smiled since...

Since the fight.

Was Ryan just as much as a monster as Dallon, grinning at the sight of his boyfriend murdering his abusers? Sure, some of it could be accounted to being in a delirium, but Ryan couldn't stop thinking of why those people would want to hurt him.

He had never done anything wrong- had he? Had Dallon done something? Did he really deserve all that torture?

"Rest your mind sweetheart, don't worry about them." Dallon must have slipped into his mind, leaning away from Ryan to caress his cheek with his knuckles. "Such a pretty thing shouldn't be worried about such criminals... they're all gone now baby."

Ryan looked away from Dallon, squinting at the sun, skin burning and not just from his wounds. Of course Dallon wouldn't worry about them- he just killed them. Just like he killed thousands of other people.

Dallon would never kill Ryan, would he?

But he was holding Ryan so lovingly, kissing a path up his neck, lanky fingers wrapped around his waist.

Was it all a trap? Had Dallon brought him to hell just to torment him? Or was Ryan just being paranoid?

It still baffled him how much Dallon could love him unconditionally- sometimes, it didn't even seem real, like life was one big dream Ryan was floating through.

Dallon broke Ryan out of his train of thoughts, brushing his finger across Ryan's lower lip, chest tightened by Ryan's internal dialogue.

"I love you to the moon and back sweetheart, I'd never let anyone hurt mon belle ange, I promise." Dallon said, all the air knocked out of his lungs. How could Ryan think that? What had those thugs said to him?

Ryan felt himself slipping back into sleep, worries fading away into the blank void, just like Dallon's eyes. Even if Dallon had been behind it, Ryan's only option right now was to trust him and rest, bones aching deep inside his limbs. And even if Dallon didn't really love him,

Ryan loved Dallon.

That was his last thought as he cuddled closer to Dallon, burrowing in the crook of his neck, tendrils coiled around his arms as opposed to his wrists, where his rash of rope burn still flourished.

When Ryan was fast asleep, Dallon felt it creep up on him too, but he fought it with every ounce of energy left it him. Someone had to watch the door- if Dallon slept too, they could easily take Ryan back.

Dallon didn't want to relive the past few days again; he wouldn't be able to handle losing Ryan yet again. Not when he knew how badly his angel had been hurt, how deep his wounds went, when he had every shade of Ryan's blood memorized.

As much as Dallon fought it, sleep curled itself around his brain and dragged him into its depths, holding onto Ryan like the wind could blow them apart. Every one of his tendrils was wrapped around Ryan, bodies pressed together as tight as they could go, hearts beating together in a haphazard melody.

Losing Ryan again would be like losing warmth. Losing happiness. Losing love.

It would be as if the sun had been stolen from the sky, yet this time, Dallon knew it was never coming back. His world would be overrun with frost and shadows, stuck in a thick sludge of darkness, mind driving itself to insanity until Dallon couldn't think anymore.

Dallon had never been more ashamed of himself, the way he acted when Ryan was gone. But he had been in too deep of a storm to realize Brendon was trying to help him, to stop him from hitting himself repeatedly, to save him from himself. Little did Brendon know, the only person who could save Dallon from his own demons was Ryan.

And now that they were together, Ryan was doubting their entire relationship, something that reopened the scab on Dallon's heart. He had failed his duty, not only as Ryan's guardian demon, but as his boyfriend.

If Ryan didn't feel safe with Dallon, Dallon would have to erase himself from Ryan's life. Even leaving his love was a better option than making Ryan uncomfortable, the last thing Dallon wanted.

But Dallon knew he could never leave Ryan. He wouldn't be able to handle knowing that either Ryan would be alone, or someone else would replace Dallon, someone better and normal. Ryan could go back to earth and finish living out an average life while Dallon prowled the shadows, watching Ryan's life progress without him.

It would be absolute torture to Dallon. His possessiveness was flaring like a sparkler, fizzling inside of him, pulling Ryan even closer in his sleepy state at these thoughts.

Those servants had touched his angel in the worst way possible, and in return, Dallon murdered them. It was the only option- he couldn't wait around idly for Ryan's corpse to show up on his doorstep.

Was it bad he felt no remorse? Had Dallon ever changed, or was he still the beast he was before he met Ryan?

At least at the end of the day, Dallon could slip into Ryan's mind and check his favourite corner, the one Dallon inhabited.

And thankfully, as Dallon peeked in half-asleep, he could see that Ryan was dreaming of the two of them dancing again.

Ryan really did love him.

And Dallon loved him back, even if he couldn't love himself.

It was okay- Ryan filled that void enough that Dallon could barely tell it was someone else's love, not his own. And if Ryan loved him, Dallon didn't really care about much else.

- BRENDON -

Even after reuniting Dallon and Ryan, Brendon still felt like his insides were rotting.

The nausea in his stomach had only grown worse, especially when he brought the two of them food and saw Ryan.

Ryan looked anxious beyond return, hiding away from Brendon in the crook of Dallon's arm, gripping onto him like the world was ending.

He was so... small. This wasn't the same man Brendon had taught piano to- they had hurt his carefree soul, had stolen all the life out of his eyes. They turned Ryan skittish and nervous, shrinking away from Brendon like he wanted to hide behind Dallon, sheets pulled up until only his shoulders were revealed.

Brendon ignored the lightning white scars on Dallon's chest, something he'd seen too much in the past few days, and placed down their food. The sight of Ryan, not meeting eye contact, treating Brendon like he was one of the bad servants- it made him feel like one of them, still hoping that Dallon wasn't furious at him.

Yet Dallon only cupped Ryan's jaw and pulled him closer, mouthing a 'thank you' to Brendon, obviously acting as Ryan's protector. It reminded him of all the times Sarah had taken care of Tyler and Abby when one of them got hurt, the way she'd wash their cuts and tell them it would be alright, that it wasn't the end of the world.

In an attempt to wash away his shame, Brendon continued to bring them food, watching Dallon closely too see if any anger laid on his face. But Dallon only held Ryan and looked into his eyes, wiping away tears Brendon couldn't see, whispering softly into the smaller man's ear. Jealously no longer grew in Brendon's chest- it was replaced with misery, a hollow portion of his soul that missed his own family.

Brendon only visited the kitchen, their room and his own, laying in bed wide awake, grateful that Dallon didn't appear to be mad. He was glad that Ryan was in good hands now, that Dallon would take care of him and cure his anxiousness, and that he would heal eventually.

But Brendon would never heal fully, still holding out hope that he could return to his family, that he could go back to his old life. No amount of clean clothes and fresh food would replace the warmth of his family, the bright eyes and wide smiles they all shared even though they didn't have much. It gnawed at his chest, staring blankly at the ceiling as the sun started to dip behind he horizon.

Sleeping was futile- Brendon got up with a groan, slipping on his shoes and scuttling down the hall, confused by the absence of spiders. Every since he told Dallon where Ryan was, Brendon hadn't see any spiders, which relieved him beyond words. Sure, Brendon had been working on his fear, but it never truly disappeared.

Every candle was still dark, shadow figures climbed up the walls, following Brendon as he climbed the stairs. It was as if nothing had changed, and Dallon was still dead inside, just as the manor was dead too.

The piano room was eerily silent, curtains drawn closed, time as still as stone. Brendon held his hands out in front of him, expecting to run into a ghost, or worse, a fellow servant. He hadn't made contact with anyone else since the fight, afraid of what others would think of him.

His knees knocked into the piano bench, making Brendon jump, hands clanging against the heavy keys. Heart racing, Brendon's eyes dashed to the door, waiting for someone to come in and tell him off for playing while the rest of the palace was silent.

When no one came, Brendon let out a breath he didn't know he'd been holding, taking a seat at the piano. Even though the keys were pitch black, Brendon could still find the right notes, carefully placing his hands and pressing down delicately.

He moved his hand up the piano to play a high note, bumping into something hard with sharp corners. Brendon took it from where it was wedged between the notes, eyebrows drawn together as he struggled to make out what the two envelopes were for.

One of them was addressed to him, the other to Dallon, closed with a golden seal. Brendon tucked them in his vest and darted back to his room, wondering who would mail him and Dallon such things, and how they found their way into the piano.

The sun was still taking its time setting, half of it peeking out from the earth, sky brushed with oranges, pinks and purples. If Brendon wasn't so concerned about the envelope, he'd appreciate the gorgeous sunset, maybe taking whatever wine was leftover and watching it from the roof.

A crunch broke the thick silence as Brendon ripped open the envelope, flicking on the overhead light, eyes adjusting to the sudden brightness of his room.

He unfurled a paper, page full of letters, written in a curly font.

'Dear Brendon,

This letter may come as a shock to you, but I want you to read carefully.

Informing Dallon of Ryan's whereabouts was an act of bravery, one that held a grand weight. In fact, that was the final deed that made you legible for a spot in Heaven.

Brendon, you may have committed a number of sins, but they are all justifiable- at least on my terms. I would be willing to look past any blemishes on your record and offer you a home in Heaven, along with the rest of your family.

Please think about this decision; I know the answer might seem obvious at first, but like every big decision in life, it needs to be considered. I think that is something you could benefit from, my child.

When you do make your decision, please write back to me and leave your letter in the same place you found this one.

Think dearly youngling,

- God'

Brendon blinked, like that would help him understand the words scribbled on the paper in front of him.

What?

Was this a prank? It felt like the paper was burning against his fingers, something so plain holding such important words. Brendon choked on his own spit, eyes running down the page again, taking it all in.

He could leave hell and live in heaven with his family? It sounded too good to be true, and if there was anything Brendon had learned in life, nothing good every happened to him.

The lights flickered above him, as if to confirm the authenticity of the letter. Brendon gazed out the window, searching for his answer in the sun, but it had disappeared completely.

The words soaked into his mind, finally setting in.

He could leave. He could live the rest of his life with his family, in paradise.

Brendon didn't care if the letter was real or not- happy tears started to roll down his face, splotching the dark ink, letters blurred. They rearranged himself until they were legible again, untouched by Brendon's tears, almost by magic.

His cheeks ached from smiling so wide, covering his mouth with his hand so that his euphoria wouldn't wake any others. Light seemed to sear through his chest, seeds of hope that had once been killed growing again, standing tall and proud.

Brendon remembered Dallon had a letter too, hopefully one bearing just as good news. After everything the two had been through, Brendon felt they deserved a happy ending too.

On light feet, Brendon skipped down the hall, ignoring how childish he looked. His feet tapped together in cheerfulness, knocking softly on Dallon's door even though he wanted to pound it and shout the good news. It wasn't often in life that Brendon's heart overflowed with happiness, the same rush of exhilaration he had felt when his children were born, or the moment he married Sarah.

When no one answered, Brendon slowly opened the door, taking cautious steps in. Dallon and Ryan were asleep, arms wrapped around each other, as close as they could possibly be.

Brendon's heart sped at the sight of them, breathing peacefully, faces finally relaxed in their slumber. He tip-toed around the bed and placed the envelope on Dallon's nightstand, giving them one last look.

They reminded him of his own family, hands gripping each other like the softest breeze could separate them, holding on for dear life. Ryan finally looked at rest, like the colour had returned in his cheeks, snoring lightly in Dallon's neck.

Brendon couldn't help but smile, shutting the door behind him and listening for the click, hoping he didn't disturb their sleep. He continued to skip down the hall, body lighter than it had been in years.

His dream was finally coming true.

Brendon would see his family again.

- END OF ACT 5 -