Characters: Austin and Charlie
TW: noncon, violence, character death
Notes: Hope you guys enjoy my Dalton Games submission! My twist is a bit gory and triggery, so I’ll post it at the bottom, but I hope you enjoy. I do not own Dalton or any of the characters. I also do not own Glee. And I do not own the three quotes from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Thanks for reading! And thanks to my wonderful betas, gizard and aloganlikeme!
“I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night? Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is ‘Who in the world am I?’ Ah, that’s the great puzzle!”
-Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
The first time, you black out.
You’re outside when you wake, blinking blearily into the blinding streaks of sun and the concerned countenances of your dorm mates as they shake you urgently, whispering, “Austin! Austin, are you okay?”
You’re sore and your head hurts like there’s a hammer bludgeoning your brain.Logan, face taut with sharp lines of worry, relaxes when you numbly nod and mumble about your apparent sort-of-liveliness. You don’t know whether he’s relieved because he’s prefect or because you’re his stepbrother, but you suppose it doesn’t matter, because it never has. You’re not even sure if he knows who you are. He barks at Bailey to bring you back to Stuart, then leads the pack away.
In the common room, Bailey makes you a mug of hot chocolate with whipped cream spilling over the sides and brings you a book you haven’t read yet. You and Bailey aren’t friends – you don’t really have any, the others boys are all so loud and intense and you prefer sitting in your blessedly single room with your Kindle.
Yet Bailey has always been kind to you, a big brother figure of sorts since your arrival in the fall. You haven’t read this book before, so you steady your shaking hands and open to the first page, smiling gratefully at the junior. He plays soft music and puts a hand over the words, breaking your concentration before he breaks the news.
Derek is missing.
It’s not until only syrupy chocolate remains at the bottom of the mug that you notice the blood and dirt underneath your nails.
You can’t sleep.
You’ve sworn off coffee and caffeine. You turn off the laptop and stop studying before nine every night (consequently shocking several Stuarts into unmovable masses that stand in stupors in the middle of your path). You’re even taking sleeping pills.
You’re exhausted, but it doesn’t make a difference.
Every time you shut your eyes, you see blood.
The police are searching for Derek. The parents are furious. The student body thinks he’s dead.
You know that’s not true.
When you finally doze, you dream of Derek’s tear-streaked cheeks and still and battered, but breathing, body.
Derek still lives.
You can’t bring yourself to tell.
Bailey tries to comfort you, though he can’t possibly know why. For a week, he soothes your nightmares and lets you sob into his shoulder. He makes soundtracks for your favorite books and slips them under the door. He offers to take you to see one of the school counselors, but you politely refuse.
The more he talks to you, the less afraid you feel. You don’t need any other help.
When you thank him for all he’s doing, he shrugs and smiles. “That’s what friends do.”
You have a friend.
The next morning, you wake from a dreamless night with a pair of bloody headphones pressed to your chest.
You cry when the news is broken to you, even though you already know.
Bailey is gone.
The fear is back.
You’re disgusted with yourself, but at the same time, content.
The blackouts continue, more frequent, more noticeable. You lose an entire day about a week and a half following Bailey’s disappearance. The last thing you remember is the Brightman twins making you laugh. They somehow turned all the coffee a slimy green color that stained the drinkers’ lips, teeth, and tongues.
The Stuarts even smiled. It’s been hard since losing two of your own.
The next day, the twins are gone.
Cordelia calls every day, worried about danger in the school. She wants to bring you home. She wants you to be safe.
You don’t have the heart to tell her that you are safe.
You would never be able to explain why.
By the end of the month, Spencer and Justin also vanish.
They’re all alive, but barely.
You don’t feel sick when you think about it anymore.
People have started naming the mysterious villain. The titles are all ridiculous and fairly laughable: The Dalton Killer, the Phantom Murderer. Some people are fantasizing about alien abduction.
You don’t go along with it.
After all, it’s just you. And it’s not like they’re dead, anyway.
You see them each day, every day, when you’re alert and can remember it. Nobody else seems to notice your absence. Half the time, your classmates think you’re holed up in your room or in the library. You’re given space, probably because they think you’re torn up about Bailey’s vanishing.
It hurts, yet, but not that badly. Sometimes he’s conscious when you visit. He rarely talks, but lies on his moldy, limp mattress and stares at you with lifeless eyes that burn with never-ending fear. But then you sit down and read to him, or hum a few bars of music, and it’s all okay because he smiles and knows that it’s you.
It’s just you.
Dwight Houston goes missing within twenty-four hours after declaring a Hunt for the demon kidnapping students.
As soon as you wake up, you go to the hiding place. The Twins have christened it the Rabbit Hole, which seems awfully fitting because the entrance is underneath a bush and it’s really just a relatively large dirt room with mattresses where the occupants seem to multiply. They can’t get in without you and your odd powers, but they also can’t get out. One Twin is already tending to Dwight when you arrive and the other tries valiantly to fend you off.
The thing inside you takes over, because it is much stronger and much crueler and a lot more powerful than all the prisoners of the Rabbit Hole put together. The Twins both cry out when they are thrown against the wall.
The demon – that’s all Dwight will call you, because that’s what’s inside you and doesn’t that make it you? – then slips away and lets you apply bandages to his injuries, lets you patch up the gashes on the Twins’ heads.
The next day, you leave Alice in Wonderland on the Twins’ bed as an apology.
They let you cry into their arms, then read you a majority of the book.
Having friends is nice.
Charlie Amos isn’t considered the Windsor Mama Bear for nothing.
Somehow, miraculously, he traces back Dwight to you.
“What have you done to them?” he growls, his nails digging into your shoulder where he’s gripping you. Your palms are full of dirt – you’ve just returned from bringing the prisoners their rations – and you have the Twins’ book pressed to your chest as a sort of shield.
Logannotices (what a nice change, you think briefly) but you wave him away, mouthing that you’re fine and not to worry because really, he’s never worried before. He obliges only after Charlie glares.
The coldness seeps in with the demon and wrenches his hand away. You fight for control and momentarily gain it. “It’s not me,” you whisper, on the verge of breaking.
Charlie stares for a moment and then, having made his decision, grabs you by the wrist and drags you back toWindsor.
You receive odd looks as you walk through the common room, but he simply leans down and whispers, “Cry,” so you do and then suddenly it’s not acting but real and you’re sobbing into him as he half-drags-half-carries you up the stairs to his room.
Then his façade of compassion is gone. He dumps you on the bed, locks the door, and grabs a baseball bat from the corner, which, under normal circumstances, might have frightened you, but really only makes you want to laugh.
And then you do. Hysterical, unbridled, gut-splitting laughter that has you doubled over from the sheer pain in your abdomen but it feels so good. You laugh at the bat, you laugh at his anger, you laugh at your pathetic attempt to stay in touch with the world even though your body is hardly your own. You laugh at life.
Because it’s so funny how it tries so hard.
Charlie eventually puts down the bat and sits on the edge of the bed, quiet and unsure. You’re a little cold, but not chilled, which means the demon is present but not working. You get the advantage of strength and power and it gets the advantage of feeding off you like a leech.
“What are you?” Charlie asks when you’re simply a giggling madman. “Why are you doing this to them? What are you doing to them?”
You roll over on your back and grin up, drunk on the demon’s influence. “I can’t explain myself, I’m afraid, Sir, because I’m not myself, you see.”
The next morning, you wake up in Charlie’s bed, tucked in under the covers with full memory of the night before.
Charlie is sleeping on the floor.
He yawns and sits up about a half hour later, blinking in surprise for a moment before memory dawns. He stands, orders you to stay, and flees the room. He returns with coffee (which you quickly reject, much to his surprise), a water bottle, and a plate of cookies.
“Best things in the world,” he proclaims and all but shoves one in your mouth. It is good and you shyly ask if you can package up a few for later.
He shrugs and takes a swig of the cooling coffee.
You wrap a few in a napkin (one for Derek, one for Bailey, one for Spencer, one for Justin, two for the Twins) and nibble on some crumbs. “Maybe the baseball bat will get it out of me.”
Charlie, who had been sitting pensively by the window, almost chokes on his drink. “What?” He spins around frantically, panic in his eyes.
You turn red and shrug, eyes down at your hands. They’re clean, but you never cleaned them. You feel a flood of appreciation for Charlie. “Isn’t that why I’m here? So you can figure out how to get it… out of me? Dwight said it’s a demon.”
You glance up in time to see Charlie flinch. “I don’t suppose you quoting Alicelast night has anything to do with the Tweedles?”
“A little,” you mumble. “They’re my friends.”
He snorts and walks over slowly, cautiously, like you’re a dangerous creature that’s been let out of its cage. “Friends that you’ve gained by imprisoning them in a hole.”
You look up, alarmed.
“You talk in your sleep,” he explains, shrugging.
There’s quiet for another moment as you contemplate your choices. It’s not hard to figure out the demon’s pattern – for an evil, noncorporal force, it’s rather predictable. It attacks anyone who takes away the fear. Anyone at all.
Bailey made you feel cared for.
The Twins made you laugh.
Dwight made you feel hopeful.
You can’t remember the others, but that’s not your fault.
“You need to get the demon out of me,” you declare. “Before you get hurt.” You reach for the baseball bat, but he yanks it away.
And then you’re ice on the inside.
You are conscious but not you.
Or rather, your body is not yours. You are trapped within it, behind bars in a corner of your mind, watching helplessly as your hands grab Charlie roughly and wrench the bat from his grip. You’re as much of a prisoner as he, as much of an abductee.
You are not the Dalton Killer, the Phantom Murderer, or whatever names the student population has slapped onto the kidnapper.
You are you.
The villain is what’s inside you.
“Austin, stop it!” Charlie gasps in pain as you – the demon knocks his head against the wall. He slumps down to the floor and you feel hot tears run down your cheeks before you see them on his. You don’t want to do this. You don’t want to watch.
You’d much rather die.
The demon doesn’t seem to care.
You can’t stop.
You take him to the Rabbit Hole.
The next morning, you wake up in Charlie’s bed, tucked in under the covers with full memory of the night before. You don’t know why the demon brought you back to the dorm.
Charlie is beside you, breathing softly, bare skin against yours.
You suppose it just isn’t time yet.
The coldness is finally gone and you can finally move your own body. Gently, you extract yourself from the tangle that is you and Charlie (don’t look at his bruises, don’t think about how they’re like the others’, don’t think about all those nights you can’t remember), pull on your clothes, and pad into the bathroom.
Then you retch into the toilet until there’s nothing left in your body except air, organs, the demon, and you.
“Charlie!” you yell. You hope he knows it’s you and not that thing. “Charlie!”
He wakes just as quietly as he slept and enters the bathroom a moment later, fully dressed with a bottle of water.
He hands it to you and holds your hair back as you puke again.
“I’m sorry,” you whisper, head against the cool ceramic bowl. “I’m so, so, so sorry.”
He doesn’t absolve you of your guilt, but he doesn’t blame you either.
You’ll take what you can get.
You don’t know why the demon made you watch.
Maybe to scare you into submission.
Maybe it was bored.
You can’t look any of the prisoners in the eye anymore.
They all enjoy the cookies, though.
You don’t like sex. It’s scary and out of your control and you’ve always been told to wait until you’re ready and you are definitely not ready.
(And it really doesn’t help that you’re really not all that into guys. Even if you are, how are you supposed to know by now? You’re only fourteen and sex is scary and confusing and you just don’t like it much at all.)
The thing is, you do like Charlie and he’s pretty much your only friend who isn’t in the Rabbit Hole all the time, so when the demon makes you go to bed with him, you don’t do much in opposition.
It’s not like you can, anyway.
Maybe the demon thinks it’s being kind by letting you remember every moment you have with your friend instead of erasing it from your memory.
Maybe it just doesn’t think at all.
Sometimes, the demon leaves you once you’ve already started. Charlie’s long given up and given in, letting the demon do whatever it wants to you both. Usually, when the demon leaves mid-sex, you’ll break apart suddenly, gasping and shaken and so grateful to have control again, so grateful to be able to pull away and get dressed and not look him in the eye even as he reassures you half-heartedly.
Sometimes when it leaves, you keep on going.
It’s not that Charlie doesn’t know it’s you when that happens. He sees it in your eyes, in the way you hold yourself. When it’s you, you go limp in his arms. You’re not good at being in control. The demon took that from you long ago.
You can feel the stares of the other prisoners, but that never deters either of you. He knows you’re desperate, perhaps he knows even more acutely than you. You need to feel something, even if it’s just his lips and moving limbs and grinding hips and the smell and rub of a condom that you only manage to open after the demon has slipped away. You always let Charlie handle it, partly because your hands shake too much and partly because you need to have his hands on you to know that you’re you, that you’re real, that you are not the demon doing horrible things.
Charlie is the best friend you’ve ever had, because you know that even Bailey won’t do this for you. Sure, he’ll sing and read and make hot chocolate and help you feel better, but he’ll never make you feel real and present and you. Not if it means the slide of sweaty skin and the pathetic moans of need but not want.
Sometimes when the demon leaves and you don’t, Charlie says stop. You do.
More often, he says nothing and lays you down on the mattress with soft, sucking kisses down your whole body, with sweet whispers that it’s all okay and that he’ll never hate you. He doesn’t seem to mind.
He’s kind of your best friend and it seems to help him cope.
So you don’t really like sex, but it’s okay.
After a while, kids stop going missing.
The missing are assumed dead.
You don’t speak up.
Charlie doesn’t, either.
So the parents mourn and the school board goes crazy butDaltonmanages to survive thanks to a driven campaign that involves all Houses coming together for once.
You don’t really participate, but Charlie tells you all about it when you’re in his room, unclothed. The demon is totally absent.
You don’t really know when sex became a willing act between you two.
And you still don’t really think you like it.
But it’s still okay.
It’s always better when you’re not in the Rabbit Hole anyway.
“You’re getting better,” he points out one day when you worm yourself into his arms. Charlie is strong, well-defined. You kind of wish you look more like him, but you’re afraid to work out because the demon might take advantage of that. In fact, you’re afraid to be strong at all. Charlie has to basically force you to eat and maintain your health. “No power struggles for about a week now.”
You shrug and tilt your head up to kiss him, take his hand and lead it down your body, dragging his fingertips agonizingly slow until it reaches your low stomach. You let go and he lays his palm flat against the skin.
“Austin, if you want to talk –” he says, like always, but you kiss him again and reach for the condom on the night table.
He rips the package open with his teeth, only because one hand is too busy helping you squirm and arrange you underneath him.
It kind of hurts when he finally musters up the courage to just do it, but you just bite your lip until it bleeds. He kisses it and you laugh, even though you’re vaguely uncomfortable and far too full-feeling, because his lips are stained a horrific red.
You don’t want to talk about anything. If you start to talk, he’ll realize how screwed up this all is. He’ll realize how dangerous you are. He’ll realize that you need to be gone.
You don’t want to lose your friend.
The day the demon takes Charlie for good is a day of darkness for you.
One moment, you’re in your room, reading quietly and ignoring phone calls from your hovering mother.
The next, you’re in the Rabbit Hole.
The demon kidnapped Charlie.
And then the demon’s prisoners kidnapped you.
It’s all poetic justice, you suppose. You dragged them here against their will and now they keep you in their clutches, tied and gagged and unable to harm anyone else. It’s a good strategy. You wish you had thought of it. You let them go ahead with it.
And they’re kind to you, as well. They can’t get out – nobody can get out except you, though they’ve all tried, because the hole only opens with the demon’s power - so they really have nothing else to do, anyway.
A few candles are lit around the edges. Bailey sings something happy. The Twins whisper. Dwight observes. Charlie, Justin, Derek, and Spencer all stay far away, discussing war tactics with varying levels of enthusiasm.
You sit and brace yourself.
Charlie has his bat. It’s sheer luck that he managed to grab it as you – as the demon attacked.
But nobody ever said it was good luck.
The bat stays in the corner, untouched by all.
You don’t really know what happened. You never really do, not when the demon is involved.
You don’t know how you got out of your ropes. You don’t know why it was Charlie that you attacked and not Dwight, not Bailey, not the Twins, not anyone else.
But that doesn’t matter, because the bat is bloody and Charlie’s brains are spilling out of his skull, smeared on the dirt floor.
You hand the bat to Dwight, who seems to take it more out of instinct than anything else, and kneel down in front of him. He’s the Hunter here. You trust him with this.
If the demon can’t be stopped, you have to be.
“Do it,” you tell him and bow your head, feeling the coldness rise up inside and prepare to take over, to protect, to save you, to–
The bat beats it.
It’s nice to have friends that will do anything for you.
It’s nice to be dead.
“I almost wish I hadn’t gone down that rabbit-hole — and yet — and yet — it’s rather curious, you know, this sort of life! I do wonder what can have happened to me!’”
-Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Charlie and Austin get kidnapped, then forced to have sex with each other. They are then both killed with Charlie’s baseball bat.