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A Face of Gold, A Heart of Coal

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Luke is awake more than he is asleep.

Most nights are spent just like this one; staring up at ceiling in the dark but not really seeing it. Or seeing anything really. Anything other than power lines against the sky from the open grave he briefly shared with Robert Peach, drowning in his own blood.

'Taking a bloodbath,' a voice - a memory - that doesn't belong to him whispers giddily in the back of his mind. A wide grin delighting in Luke's discomfort, the stench of blood beneath decades old cologne, pale blue eyes watching his every move, every breath, just waiting to see what the "Mouse" will do next.

Max whines, tail thumping against the bed as the dog crawls closer and shoves his snout against Luke's neck. The coldness of it snaps him out of the fog in his mind, makes him relax his death grip on the sheets, and he forces himself to relax. The Peach family is dead, all that is left of them are bloody bits and pieces scattered in the tall grass. Well, there's Alice, but from what Zoe has told him, she's not really here anymore.

'So afraid of losing her mind and she lost it anyway,' Zoe had said and that had been the end of it; Luke understands not wanting to talk about family. Family that let you down, betrayed you. Family that you take one look at and find that you don't really know them and you're not sure if you ever did.


With a quiet groan, Luke shifts onto his side, careful of Max, and presses his face into his pillow.

The Peach family is dead - save for Alice - and they're not coming back. For the first time in years, Butcher's Block is safe. Safer. All the graffiti of their legacy has faded and been painted over. The only place they haunt anymore are people's memory.


Luke shoves his head beneath his pillow in a vain attempt to block out the sound of Robert Peach calling him by that annoying and condescending nickname. He hates it. Hates it like he hates the memory of his blood making the body under him feel warm and alive and close.

Robert Peach is dead, Luke reminds himself, eyes squeezing shut until there are spots blooming behind his eyelids. I killed him myself. I buried him. He's gone.

A prickle of unease claws its way up his spine as a breath (a breeze, he must've left the window open, forgot to close it) ghosts across the curve of his shoulder.

"Dead doesn't always mean 'gone', Mr. Mouse Man." Luke's eyes snap open at the sound of that familiar voice speaking in reality instead of just in his mind, in his memory. It's quiet, like sharing a secret and Luke can hear that damn grin in his voice. "Oh look, we match."

At the too real touch against the scar tissue on his neck, Luke scrambles away, falling off his bed in a flurry of limbs and blankets.

Max's head pops up over the edge of the bed; it's just the dog and Luke in here, in the dark.

Dread settles heavily in his stomach when he sees that the window is closed.

(He can hear the whistling coming from nowhere as it keeps in time with his rapid heartbeat.)