It was all just a sick game. Hidden corridors and dual edged mirrors and always being just far enough out of reach to help him. Jim made sure she would never leave him again, the greatest vengeance he could have wrecked upon not just her, but Kim as well. Sage knew she was a fool to have ever loved him. How could she have ignored the signs, the past between her mother and his uncle, or more specifically the death of his uncle? Jim had been the teenage rebellion, the Romeo and Juliet story that ended up with her in a hospital and him in jail. She had tried to deny her fate then, when her mother told her that she had promised to see Edward when her mother could not.

When she was a child, Edward was the beast to her beauty and the prince to her princess. Often she thought of him as supernatural when the snow fell and cast its magic spell on the town, purifying it of its past. But naturally she grew into the popularity of her school, following her mother's footsteps, and forgot about her childhood fantasy. It wasn't till she had finished the police report from the blood stained sheets of the hospital bed that she wished once more for her hidden prince that brought the snow.

And she had visited him, one august night, the crickets and cicadas singing her up the hill, with backpack full of mementos and memories that would be given a supposed offering for nearly twenty years of loneliness. A full moon easily illuminated the cracked walls and ceilings of the mansion and with Kim's instructions she was led to the attic. It had only seemed natural, with him facing the town silhouetted in the far window, that he called out her mother's name. His tone was seemingly a whisper, desperately pleading for what had taken from him: A life and love that was never his. It had been in that moment, that she understood why she was there.

"I've come as promised." She had started, "I am Kim's daughter."

She remembered the first time she had seen the mansion's gardens. In contrast the grey and crumbling mansion, they were bright and chipper blossoming with reds and yellows, as if to try to make the poor old building feel a bit better about its old age. The sculptures that Edward made were not only beautiful but rather insightful. The hand in the middle of the front entrance had always been the biggest and highest among them all. But it was also the small things, like the curling Chinese dragon, carved roses, and soaring birds flying out of seemingly harmless greenery. Imagination and freedom were key themes.

When he worked with in the summer, he always had a glimmer of a smile, his mind far away in the past. But in the winter, as his plants bent to the cold, he seemed much….sadder .The ice sculptures, told a different story. Sage eagerly awaited the many months till winter, after hearing about the one he made for his mother.

It turned out he worked with dry ice. So maybe, Sage was a little disappointed that Edward wasn't the magic maker of snow after all, but watching him work easily made up for it. When he worked on the ice, his frenzy almost seemed frightening at times, as he chopped away to seemingly to be rid of demons. Still the work was beautiful. She even had the honor of seeing her mother in one of his pieces, dancing. She had never been so graceful. Sage had always preferred the dark, tumbling earth and the satisfaction of watching seeds turn into strong plants. It was her worst kept secret from her friends, considering the overgrown garden in her backyard. She often helped in Edward's garden, bringing more new and exotic plants to add to the collection of colors and the overwhelming lack of annuals in her opinion. Snapdragons by the carved dragon was always enough to make her smile even if she knew she would have to replant them. She ended up spending more time up by the mansion, and her friends abandoned her. She had "tainted" them and the school with her story and what Jim had done to her. They claimed she had faked everything, just to get more attention, or that she deserved it for not being good enough for the man who resided in their local jail. She hated them, and by her senior year, saw no one, save for her family and Edward. She never showed anyone the scars on her legs, where she drew swirls and flowers with the pocket knife her father gave her to protect herself.

When Edward had seen the scars by accident one day, a year after their first meeting, she watched his face grow more worried then she'd ever seen. Sage ended up explaining what had happened, everything from the first time Jim had sprained her wrist to end of the humiliating court case. She was sobbing by the time she finally explained what the scars were from: that Jim hadn't been their cause, but by her own hand. That was the first time she watched Edward's eyes grow dark with hatred. He told his story, so different yet so the same from the one her mother had spoken of. Her mother had never spoken of her Jim by name, except to mention that he had died. She had also forgotten to mention he had died by Edward's hand, though self- defense against a drunken man with a gun and a killing intent seemed more than fair to defend against. Perhaps it had been because they shared the same name, or maybe the violence was just in their blood, but she was glad to be rid of the man who made her life hell. When he finally got out of jail, the restraining order would keep him away, and hopefully keep him from going after her. Jim had never been a man to take any insult to his pride lightly. And sage had destroyed him.

Sometimes, in the back of her mind, she regretted meeting Edward, solely because she wondered if he would have ever been safer alone: safe from the grip of vengeance.

Sage stood behind floor to ceiling glass. The other side was mirrored, but she could see perfectly through to the gas-light room beyond. Her once Romeo gripped her tightly as she looked at the horrid scene, his fingers digging skin from her arm with delight. At the end of an old iron framed bed, Edward knelt his arms pulled tightly behind him against the frame of the bed, and a belt around his neck also holding him against it. He had to painfully arch back, his bared check heaving rapidly. Tears flowed freely as Aaron, or better known for his nickname the gentle blade, paced back and forth, a knife in hand like a lion before its dying meal. Sage turned around, facing her captor.

"Please don't do this. I swear I'll marry you, and not ask to see him. Just let him be." But all she got was a smug grin.

"You choose this. Now reap the rewards of your betrayal," and with that he threw her against the glass, and calmly walked up to it and knocked twice. Aaron turned and bowed, before walking and squatting next to Edward, whispering in his ear. Sage's friend twisted in his bonds, the sound of scissors against metal and sound, resounding through the room, His eyes wide with terror as he begged. His torturer merely traced his jaw with the knife in hand, still whispering.

"God, stop it! This is torture!" Sage screamed, beating against the glass. It was too thick to break, that much she already knew. But maybe Aaron would listen and stop just long enough for her to try to convince Jim. And just for a moment he did, looking angrily at the interruption to his play.

She turned and thrust herself in her captor's arms. "What do you want? What else can I give?"

"Your pain." And once again he knocked on the glass. Aaron grinned, and undid the belt connecting Edward's neck from the bed and then his arms. But he used the belt, like a leash dragging him upward to his feet, with his arms still bound behind his back. From the ceiling a short chain and hook hung, and Aaron pulled the buckle from the belt and attached it to the hook, leaving Edward to have to stay perfectly straight up if he didn't want to be further choked.

Aaron stepped forward, facing the mirror. "I have a bit of performance art that I would like to show to my first audience," He turned and faced the scissorhanded man," and you shall be my perfect canvas and crowning glory to my gallery." He turned once more, gleefully throwing and catching his knife and ended up on the side of Edward, displaying him as he spoke,

"How I long to show your intricate nature, my pet " and he started tracing the knife up and down the other man's chest, while the bound man, tried to not move.

"To trace it for the world to see of your sweetness and sorrows," the lines became swirls, petals, and then thorns. Edward was letting out small sounds of pain, but was obviously holding back.

"You are too beautiful to leave your perfection unmarred." The swirls were twisted on, deeper and tighter, trails of blood forming and finally the man started screaming, wildly twisting away from the knife. Aaron gleefully took this as a signal to work more furiously as he proclaimed his last statement.

"You are my masterpiece, and your blood is the most magnificent paint."

Sage watched in horror, her hands on the glass, sobbing while her captor clapped lightly behind her,

"Monsters….inhuman fuckers."

Finally it seemed the show was over and Aaron carefully unhooked Edward from the chain and forced him over to the bed, where he rebound him spread-eagle. Sage could hear him say, "Wouldn't want you ruining all my hard work," before taking out a bottle of alcohol and a small towel. He heavily doused the towel and started running it over the fresh wounds. With his neck free, Edward's screams seemed that much more piercing. The woman covered her ears, sliding down the wall, and curling up on the floor.

"Please….stop this," she whispered. "I'm yours; I'll do whatever you want. Just make him stop."

Jim seamlessly walked over and picked her up, bridal style and kissed her.

"I'm glad you understand now. Let's go see the freak then." The woman's eyes widened. She had done this. "Please no. I don't want to." Her captor's grin only grew.

"Good." He proceeded to carry her out of the room and down a hall that wrapped around the prisoner's room. Aaron was now wiping up the rest of the blood with a wet towel. On a small table next to the bed were a set of bandages. Jim put down Sage in the middle of the room, while Edward intently watched. Aaron got up and Jim nudged her towards the bed and forced her to sit in the chair next to the bed. She couldn't face him. This was all her fault.

"Darling, would you bandage the beast for us? Aaron is tired from his performance, and I don't feel like tainting my hands right now." The sobs started up again, against her will. The fucking bastard. Her hands shook as she stood slowly to stand over the bed. She needed to do what Jim said, or else his 'gentle blade' would just come back. She dared to look at her friend's face. Tortured eyes and torn skin stared back at her. Worry and sadness were in his features. He was still trying to be strong for her: he knew she had been watching. She loved him; she loved him enough to throw her life away for his sake. But how could she face the royal fuck- up that caused him to end up like this? She wasn't even sure she could bring herself to touch him.

But she had too. And so, with a deep breath, she cautiously undid the bindings around his wrists and helped him sit up before lifelessly pulling one of the rolls of bandage and unraveling it. Slowly she wrapped it around his waist and slowly up, leaving it just light enough that it wouldn't get caught on the wounds as he healed, but tight enough to keep the pressure and help with the pain. She had done it to herself enough times back in high school. Neither of them said a thing, while Jim carefully watched. Slowly but surely, four rolls later, she was done, and quickly scooted away from the bed back towards the door.

"Ready to leave so soon, my love? I'm afraid we're not done here yet. "He walked across the room and grabbed her already bruised and bleeding arm and dragged her across the room.

"Lay on top of him." Sage looked at him incredulously, trying to walk around him.

"Please…" but she knew he wouldn't listen.

"Don't you want to lay with your beast again? Cuddle up with the monster like he's human. Come on." And this time, the woman felt her hair being grabbed and she was ungracefully dragged back to bed and thrown onto her friend's legs, while he had to quickly retract his hands, so she didn't get hurt.

"Go on, Sage, Hold his Hand!" and She felt one of her wrists being grabbed and dragged towards the cuffs at the top of the bed, her hand grazing over the back of Edward's hands. And Jim buckled the heavy cuff around her wrist, before shoving the rest of her body on top of Edwards and then cuffing her other hand.

"And come on Freak, don't you want to comfort your beloved. Hold her, if you can." Pulling a length of chain and another cuff, Jim attached the cuff onto one of her friend's wrists and then used the chain to pull his arms across her back, so his hand was at the top of her back. He did the same with the other arm, but he placed that hand at the middle of her back.

"And try not to hurt my fiancé tonight. Sleep well lovebirds." And he left. Sage tried lifting her body away from Edwards, trying to release the weight on his wounds, but felt the blades digging into her back.

"I'm fine," Edward finally said, after a minute of the woman holding herself off, blood now starting to flow freely down her back. "Please stop. You know I can handle this." Sages grit her teeth and shook her head. She hated Jim. He needed to die. She refused to cause any more pain. The agony she felt was retribution for all she had done.

"Sage, stop. I don't your blood on my hands." The man's voice grew hard. And the woman dropped from surprise, gaining a low moan of discomfort from her friend below her.

"Sorry…sorry…..sorry, sorry, sorry…." Sage started saying, repeating over and over again. She felt blood seeping through the bandages already and through her shirt. She felt rivulets of blood flow down her back, and the wounds she had created, start to sting. But didn't make a sound. She knew they were still watching. She let herself lay there, as helplessly as her dear friend beneath her.

"Why can't we just go back to growing lilacs and pansies in the back garden? I miss the feel of the dirt underneath my nails and the smell of the blossoming roses," she finally spoke, not able to stand the silence anymore.

"The flowers are wilting."

"I know." Indeed her friend was slowly fading into the darkness of his own heart, and she was only the lone moon drifting through clouds, far from reach. And while she drifted, the sun would be locked away in eternal night.

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