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31 January 2009 @ 03:38 am
Different Pick A Prompt - 4-2-2 - Grey  
The longest of the three written so far... but I wrote it the quickest at about 2 hours from creating the file to now...

This one... it's also the darkest. If you thought Ryan was wounded in the first two, you haven't seen anything yet. There's some serious darkness here, but I promise, Ryan lives, no matter how it may seem. My original idea was closer to the inspiration ep, but... it drifted sideways quickly. The Cohens, as little as they actually appear in this, rock though, totally taking care of Ryan.

The apartment was empty when the police arrived to do their welfare check on a 22 year-old man who never missed work or was even more than 5 minutes late without calling in. There wasn't a single living soul in the place, just a smell of something rotting. In the kitchen, they found a plate of half eaten food on the floor near the overturned table, accompanied by smears of blood on the cabinets. Later, when they called in the CSIs, someone realized that every photo in the apartment that showed the young occupant was mutilated. The images of his friends and family had been left alone, but someone had taken the time to slice through his face and torso in every picture. Even the victim's drivers license hadn't been spared, as it was held to a bulletin board with pins through the eyes and lines drawn over the mouth as though they were stitches.

The family said he had no real enemies, just a handful of people he'd had problems with in High school, but one was in a mental hospital after trying to kill the victim and his then-girlfriend years earlier, and the other was in jail on a manslaughter charge for killing that same girlfriend a few years after that. Neither could have done this, and when they were questioned the one in the hospital had been stunned, then asked curiously if the victim had suffered, while the one in jail had been stunned and asked them why someone would do that, the victim was 'practically a fucking saint'.

So the investigation stalled out within a few days, no one knowing the fate of the 22 year-old man. It seemed like a story destined to end up on 'Unsolved Mysteries' in later years, a talented young artist vanishing without a trace, his apartment turn apart and all images of him mutaliated.


The space was tiny, cramped and icy cold, when Ryan woke up, his head pounding and his throat dry. He tried to move, thinking he was tangled in his blankets, but found he couldn't shift much at all, the rope that was wrapped around his wrists digging in tighter as he tried. He started struggling more, panicking as he remembered the man that had come into his apartment. That had attacked him.

He tried to yell for help, or yell profanities at his abductor, but only screamed when he felt a tearing pain around his mouth and tasted blood trickling into his mouth.

"Ah, you're awake!" a man said, sounding almost giddy with excitement, and a moment later there was a sound of metal scraping against metal and then a bright light was shinging on his face.

Ryan squeezed his eyes shut against the sudden flood of light, whimpering, then flinching and trying not to scream again as he felt a rough hand touch his face, almost stroking his cheek.

"Shhh, it's alright," the man said. "I know, it hurts right now, but it'll all be over soon."

The words sent another sharp jolt of fear through Ryan and he snapped his eyes open, seeing only a dark sillouhette leaning over him, blocking out enough light to keep it from being so painful. He's eyes darted frantically as they adjusted to the light, trying to figure out something, anything, he could do to escape this. But when he saw the man's hand, skin that was almost gray and looked half decayed, he had to bite back another scream.

"Would you like some water?" the man asked, and then those gray fingers were on his lips, slipping a thin tube between then and a foul tasting, thick, liquid slid along his tongue and down his throat, moving too fast and almost choking him.

"All over soon," the man repeated, forcing more of the liquid down Ryan's throat. "But you need to sleep so I can continue my work."

It wasn't long before Ryan began to feel drowsy, and while part of him was terrified of what would happen to him while he was passed out, he was also pretty sure he didn't want to be awake for it, either.


The victim's family hired private investigators when the police gave up, but a friend started publically insulting the police for giving up so soon. He accused them of leaving Ryan to rot somewhere, and maybe even killing him if he was alive somewhere, suffering and waiting for help. He threatened to have every one of the police involved fired for not doing their job, and soon half the city, the rich half, was in an uproar, all over an unknown artist who lived in the Bronx.

But it worked, the police started looking harder at what they had, and they found an odd thing.


When he woke again, he was in a different position, curled up on his side on something soft, his hands up near his face, though they were still bound. And this time he couldn't get his eyes open. He wanted to scream, but instead he slowly shifted his hands until they reached his face, feeling along his mouth first and finding thin stitches keeping it shut, blood lightly caked around each hole. With growing horror, Ryan moved his hands to feel his eyes, and found thin pieces of tape holding them closed. But near the bottom, even through the tape, he could feel the distinct little ridges of the stitches that held them closed.

"You never sleep as long as the others do," the man said, and Ryan felt the bed dip in front of him, a rough hand moving to stroke his cheek again. "I knew you were special the moment you moved in."

Ryan wished he could see the man, wished he could figure out what the full intent was here, but all he could do was whimper in fear and pain.

"I'm an artist, too. I know how to appreciate those that are special," the man said, still stroking Ryan's cheek. "I would have waited longer, so you could have appreciated what I'm doing for you, but those people would have corrupted your purity. You wouldn't have appreciated it, just resented it out of greed. But I'm giving you a gift. I'm giving you fame, because everyone will want the rare art of the mysterious vanished artist. And you'll live on forever here."


The big break in the Atwood case was his gold watch, a gift from his adoptive parents on his graduation day, turned up at a Jeweler's courtesy of a man who wanted a new battery in it, one guaranteed to work for as long as possible. The Jeweler recognized the man from several years earlier, when he'd brought in a broken necklace for repair and it had matched one always worn by a girl who'd vanished without a trace. The connection between the man and the two pieces of jewelry led to the discovery that over the past decade and a half, 5 other people had vanished from the same building, some with signs of struggle, some without, but all of them had their pictures mutilated in the same ways.

No one had ever connected the cases, since they happened so spread out, 5 years had past between the previous victim and Atwood, and the detectives in their area had a high turn over right. But now they had a clue, one that pointed to a serial killer who targeted young artists, dancers, and actors, both male and female, who lived in the building.


"I have all my special ones here," the man said after he forced Ryan to sit up and slid the thin tube between stitches again, this time the fluid thinner, if still foul tasting. "But you, you're going to be right in the middle, the most special.

The man was clearly deluded, and while he was in general gentle, not shoving or hitting except for when he'd actually abducted Ryan, that only made him more frightening.

"I wish you could see them, then you'd understand what I'm doing for you," the man said, petting Ryan's hair like he was a small child. "They say we artists live forever in our work," he whispered, his mouth close to Ryan's ear and his breath making Ryan want to wretch. "My work immortalizes us both. Someday, you'll repay the favor I'm doing by making me famous when they find my life's work. It's perfect."

Ryan tried to turn his head away, tears stinging at the small holes from the stitches, and a wet cloth was gently pressed to his face.

"You have to stop struggling so much, you'll mar your perfect face," the man admonished. "There's only so much I can fix."

Ryan wanted to scream at him, demand to know why he was doing this, why he didn't just kill him already, but all he managed was another weak whimper.

"Shhh, not much longer," the man said, his dry, cracked, lips pressing to Ryan's temple before laying him back down on the bed and tucking him in. "I just have to wait for the bruises to heal. I'd be done already if you hadn't fought me so hard. Don't you know I'm giving you a gift?"


The private investigators found the original blueprints for the building that revealed a sub basement, and as they crept down the stairs they could all smell the filth that came from limited plumbing and no desire to bathe. But at the same time, they could hear the sound of water sloshing, and when they crept around a corner, they were met with the sight of a trembling man , his back to them, as a filthy man, skin grey with grime, wiped his face and neck with a clothe that was just a step cleaner than the man himself.

"Freeze, police!" the lead officer said, and the man actualy did freeze, stunned, then snapped out of it.

"How day you invade my studio!" he demanded.

"Ryan Atwood?" the lead officer called to the trembling man, who hadn't moved except for the slight tremors. The officer gestured for two of his men to cover the abductor and he headed towards Atwood, rounding the stool and freezing as he saw the stitches holding the boy's mouth and eyes closed, a pink haze to his jaw from where the blood there was half washed away. "Ryan?" he repeated, crouchign down. "You are Ryan, aren;'t you?"

Slowly, the boy nodded, the movements jerky.

"It's gonna be okay, we're gonna get you out of here," the officer said, his hands already going to untie the ropes that boudn Ryan's wrists together. "It's over son, it's okay."

Ryan whimpered slightly, and the officer, gripped his hands tightly. "It's okay, you're safe," he said. "We're gonna get you some help, okay?" He looked past Ryan to the other members of his team. "Someone get a bus down here, now," he ordered.

"Sir?" one of the female officers said as she came back from antoher room. "There's gotta be a dozen bodies in here."


"They're posed like mannequins," the woman said, looking sick.

Ryan's trembling got worse, and the lead officer turned his attention back to him. "You're safe now, it's gonna be okay..." he said, repeating the words over and over again.


There was no such thing as 'safe' or 'okay', Ryan decided while he lay trembling in a hospital bed, listening to the doctors debate whether it was safe to sedate him for removing the stitches now, or if it would have to wait until they knew what drugs he had in his system thanks to the man's odd combination of drugs. He still couldn't see, and he couldn't speak to tell them he'd rather they just cut them out while he was awake, as long as they were gone.

He finally settled the arguement for them by trying to claw the stitches out, giving them no choice but sedate him enough they could strap him down. When he passed out shortly afterwards, they must have decided they should remove the stitches while they could because the next time he woke, he was able to open his mouth and let out a scream of pain as every nerve ending seemed to be on fire.

Kirsten was there in an instant, stroking his hair and murmuring reassurances that he couldn't hear over his own screams. The doctors gave him a sedative that left him numb to the pain, drifting between awake and unconscious, mumbling harshly about the grey fingers.


They identified all 5 of the other missing apartment inhabitants as being among the bodies, and pinpointed the other bodies to other disappearances in the city. All were in the arts somehow, and all indications said they had died quick, relatively painless deaths. None of them had fought like Ryan had, which had saved him. The man, who called himself Henry Webster, said that he'd had to wait to turn Ryan into one of his masterpieces because of the bruises incurred during the struggle in the apartment. There were too many marring Ryan's face, and Webster wante the face to be perfect, serene and peaceful, as he sat forever amongst the other pieces in the collection, each one with eyes cut out and replaced with glass ones before the whole body was coated with clear laquer and dressed again.

He said he'd stitched Ryan's mouth shut because he couldn't stand to hear the devil's words coming out of Ryan's mouth, denials about the art and accusations that Webster was a murderer. He wasn't, he insisted, he was an artist like any other, and he was preseving the most gifted he could find for all time. He would make them and their limited works famous, and in turn, someday, they would make him famous.

Then he'd asked how many of Ryan's paintings had sold since Ryan had disappeared, and the lead officer had left the room to keep himself from pulling his gun and finished Webster off. The kid was still hospitalized, fighting off infection and nasty withdrawl symptoms from the still uncertain drug cocktail he'd been repeatedly fed for almost 3 weeks.


Ryan's voice came back after a few days of letting ice chips, blessedly tasteless and cold, melt on his tongue and trickle down his throat, then gradually cool water, always drunk straight from a glass because straws made him gag if they were offered. His eyes took longer, though, and never fully got back to normal thanks to several stitches scratching the eyes themselves. The first time someone brought him a sketch pad, he flipped through it and found his rawing were all nothing but grey blurs, causing him to start screaming again.

There were a dozen triggers, like the smell of paint and laquer, or hands that were too rough, even the dark, but it was the color grey that caused the most havoc, always leading Ryan to start screaming and shaking. When a nurse wearing a grey scrub top wandered in to check vitals while Ryan's friends were visiting, setting him off, one of the friends had roughly grabbed her arm and shoved her out of the room, telling her that if she ever came back in grey again, he'd make sure she was fired, then calmly returning to Ryan's room and almost standing guard as the others attempted to soothe him, not that it ever really worked, because inevitably, a doctor had to deliver a sedative before Ryan lapsed into quiet, hiccuping, sobs.

The wounds that lingered the longest were the mental ones, and after a while everyone around him started to doubt he could heal from those.


They didn't call Ryan as a witness at the trial, the judge agreeing that all it would do is further traumatize the shattered young man, but still images of Ryan's injuries, both before and after the stitches were removed, were shown, as was a video of Ryan's screaming fits brought on by the color grey, and his mumbled whispers that always came after sedation, the terrifying plea not to let the 'dead hands' touch him.

The defense, a public defender trying to make a name for himself, tried to argue that his client was being denied his right to confront his accuser, to which the Prosecutor pointed out that Webster hadn't claimed to have found Ryan with his injuries when the police arrived, he'd only been outraged that they'd interrupted his work. She asked the judge to consider the fact that Ryan couldn't talk about what happened to him except when he was drugged out of his mind after a fit because he couldn't process any of it yet, just the overwhelming fear.

"And if the color grey causes that," she said, pointing at the stilled image on the screen. "What do you think confronting the man who tortured him for 3 weeks will do to him?"


One of Ryan's friends arranged a suite at a hotel for them, one cleared of any and all shades of grey, which had been replaced by bright, vibrant colors. Every room was equipped with small light fixtures that were motion activated, so Ryan wouldn't find himself in the dark. They kept the suite warmer than they would have normally, because Ryan was constantly shivering and wrapping himself in thick layers and blankets. What the Cohens really wanted was to take him home to California, but a plane was out of the question consider his dislike of flying before and the amount of grey in them, and he was too weak to handle a car trip across the entire country, so they moved their lives, arranging them around Ryan and his quiet desperation not to be left alone for too long.

Slowly, he regained his strength, color returning to hia face and the scars from the stitches fading slightly, even as he managed to start holding conversations with them and his friends. He never spoke about what had happened, but they could handle that, as long as he was saying something. The doctors they'd talked to had all said that Ryan needed to process what had happened in his own time and on his own terms, so they didn't ask, didn't try to draw him into talking about it. They just tried to live and hoped their son would recover from his ordeal someday.


Webster was convicted for the murders of the 15 people found in the 'gallery' room of the sub basement, along with the kidnapping, torture, and plot to murder Ryan. There was no chance of him being released, except to a mental hospital if his appeal on the grounds of being mentally unfit to be held accountable was accepted. The thing was, in a twisted way, he'd been right. The victims who had been artists, they old works skyrocketed in value.

Ryan's paintings, the few he'd done and put in a gallery for sale before his abduction, were steadily heading towards selling for hudnreds of thousands of dollars apiece.

And people were clamoring for pictures of Webster's 'Gallery', some of them calling it the ultimate art.

Seth ran out of a class, sick to his stomach, when a fellow student at RISD did a sketch of a group of arranged mannequins, eyes and mouths sewn shut, not realizing that he shared the class with the brother of the soul survivor.

Summer was expelled for attacking a girl at Brown who said Webster was a true artist, suffering for his masterpiece. She'd flown into a rage and started tearing at the girl's face, screaming at her that someone should sew her eyes and mouth shut and see if she still admired Webster.

And Ryan didn't know any of it, sequestered in the suite, not watching TV or reading the paper. Just trying to get through a day with breaking apart.

The End

Original Fandom: Supernatural - Season 2 - No Exit
That's the episode where the ghost of HH Holmes was abducting girls and murdering them, and Jo Harvelle was trying to hunt him by herself when the Bros. Winchester got involved.

The killer's name, Henry Webster, actually comes from HH Holmes. Henry is one of the H's, and Webster was part of his birth name.

I kinda subtley did a crossover... the rich friends? Are the Gossip Girl crew. And the one who kicked the nurse in the grey shirt out and who arrranged the hotel suite? Chuck Bass. Yes, I am that odd... but I'm convinced they'd be friends!
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Current Music: Missing - Evanescence
fifimom on January 31st, 2009 11:22 am (UTC)
Very, very dark. Nicely written but just plain terrifying.
nullsysnullsys on January 31st, 2009 12:51 pm (UTC)
this is beyond dark and I'm really glad it's noon right now and not midnight - but great work nonetheless
jujuberry136jujuberry136 on January 31st, 2009 02:09 pm (UTC)
I'm glad the Cohens were on his side for this one- I don't think ANYONE could make it through that without a strong support group.
ihearttwojacksihearttwojacks on January 31st, 2009 02:49 pm (UTC)
Well done, the gossip girl crossover fits perfectly in mind. It's who I was thinking of when I read, but I had Jess Mariano instead of Chuck (Jess would totally be a wealthy writer by then :)
alluxeraalluxera on January 31st, 2009 04:39 pm (UTC)
Wow, that was fearsome, but a good story. I couldn't stop reading.
indigorayneindigorayne on February 1st, 2009 12:46 am (UTC)
That was scary intense. Great story.
finleefinlee on February 1st, 2009 03:18 am (UTC)
Wow, creepy. This will keep me up!
Kat: Dark Ryankatwoman76 on February 1st, 2009 02:46 pm (UTC)
Very dark. Poor Woobie.
ocmissocmiss on February 3rd, 2009 03:49 am (UTC)
Oooh man that was rough and dark (btw your background's all grey, coincidence ?). Must say it wss kind of disturbing, and the most was at the end, the people who defended the webster guy... i hope in real life there wouldnt be such people :S
Maramissmara on February 3rd, 2009 03:53 am (UTC)
Actually, it is a coincidence, I didn't even think of it... lol...

Unfortunately, there ARE people who defend some of the worst serial killers and act as though they are these amazing human beings. There are women who actually marry guys in prison for horrible crimes and claim that they are really wonderful caring people, despite ahving no remorse at all for what they've done...
beachtreebeachtree on February 4th, 2009 02:40 am (UTC)
That's both disturbing and emotionally powerful in scope. What's so unsettling is the not-so-subtle social commentary relevant to Webster's twisted perspective- and his predictions.

Dark and chilling? Yep. Sadly, I have no doubt that there are people who simply espouse evil and prey upon others. Ryan always has a knack for being at the wrong place at the wrong time...

And I keep meaning to back up to some of your Christmas/December fics. Note to self: