Casper was silent as he lead her to the end of the balcony, just a few doors away. It was the last door. The one Dillon had been staying as far as possible from. It was unmarked and locked, but Casper opened it as if it weren't. He stood aside, nodding Caroline inside.

Once she was in, he followed, closing the door and turning the light on. It was a bedroom… or at least, it had been. It now looked like a cross between a luxury bedroom and an intensive care unit. The comfortable queen bed had railings and was inclined like a hospital bed. Beside it were large medical machines… one recognizable as a respirator due to the mask and tubing.

He gestured to an armchair close to the bed in the corner. “Take a seat.” He left his cane by the door and limped to the dresser on the other side of the room. He pulled open the top drawer and took out a file. He stood in front of Caroline with it in his hands.

“Less than a year ago,” he began. “Was the first time Dillon was kidnapped. It was by a man who used to work for me. The reasons don't really matter. It would take hours to explain and I believe he was a bit unhinged anyway, but the point is, he was perfectly human and nobody who wasn't human has ever done a single thing to him or anybody important to him. I want- I need you to know what he did.”

He opened the file and selected an X-Ray. It showed a rib cage. On one side of it, there was a thick line of missing bone across the middle of each rib. Around the line, were dozens and dozens of shattered pieces and fragments. It looked almost like somebody had hit it with a huge axe.

Casper ran his finger down the front of his own chest all the way from the collar bone to the hip. “That was done with a motorized saw,” he said calmly. “Essentially a damn chainsaw. And it went almost all the way through his body. It scraped up his back ribs too. It went through his lung… his liver… a kidney… his intestines. He felt every second and every inch of it. It only didn't go through his heart because he has situs inversus.” He tapped the other side of the X-Ray. “It's on the other side. ” He took his hand back, folding his arms. “He died.” He left a nice long pause. “And then… his abilities brought him back. They healed him… just enough that he wouldn't immediately die again, but everything was still damaged. He could still feel it. He was still practically torn in half. In maybe a minute, he drowned in his own blood and he died again.” He left another pause. “He came back again. He healed a little bit more… by some miracle, he didn't drown again even though his abilities just kept creating more blood to come pouring out.” He was talking so casually… just telling a story. But now, his tone did steadily turn more bitter. “And then… He did it again. The sick fuck sawed him through again. Dillon died. He came back. He was sawn through again. And again. And again. At least fifteen times from what I could tell after. No matter how much begging… how much screaming… how much pain… how much death… He kept going. I've got plenty more photos and X-Rays if you'd like a look.” He dropped the file at Caroline's feet. The edges of a few very unpleasant pictures slipped out.

Casper's voice definitely wasn't calm anymore, but he wasn't quite aggressive yet. “When I finally found Dillon… he was dead. He was barely in one piece. His torso was torn open. His skin was grey. I killed the bastard who did it. In an instant. I wish I didn't. I wish I'd made him suffer even one percent of what he did to Dillon first…. But I didn't. I let the fuck get away with it pain-free.

“Somehow… somehow I managed to bring Dillon back. Somehow I was able to get it to start healing. I got his heart beating again. He was in a coma for eight weeks. Unable to breathe on his own for another six. Bedridden for another four. He couldn't so much as close his eyes without nightmares making him scream himself awake and make his lung bleed.” He pointed towards the bed where there was a distinct indent in the mattress from an unmoving body. “It was all here. Over three months right here. I had this place built to be a fun place for him to get away to. Now this is all he can think of when he steps foot on this side of the lodge.”

Casper sighed, his voice was calming down a bit again. “He used to be confident… outgoing. Brave, even. Now… he's scared of his own shadow. He still can't sleep peacefully without medication.”

“I kept him home for months… He was too scared to set foot outside the house, and I sure as hell wasn't about to let him. Yet, eventually… he needed out. He knew he wasn't going to get any better cooped up at home. He wanted to move out. I'm still amazed wanted to so soon. I didn't want to… but I let him do it. I let him move out again.”

He took a deep breath. This was the next chapter of the story. “One week,” he said simply. “He was on his own for one week and you and your friend came along.” His eyes flashed red. He spoke slowly. “You can't imagine how enraged I was. Somebody had the audacity to take him again. Somebody was giving him a reminder. Again.” His voice turned to a growl. “I wanted to tear you two apart. At the very least, I wanted you two to suffer the most pain your mortal bodies were capable of. I killed the first one too quick, I didn't want to make the same mistake.”

He sighed, shaking his head, allowing his eyes to go back to brown. “I didn't. Why? Dillon isn't the same person anymore and neither am I. I allowed that to happen to him. I may as well have done it myself. I'm his father, for Christ's sake. I'm supposed to protect him. I failed him and I can't undo it. You're alive because I'm trying to be the person- the father he deserves. He's giving me a second chance, I owe you at least that much.”

He shook his head. “This is all a… very long winded way, I suppose, of trying to tell you… that monsters don't have sharp teeth. They don't have tails. They don't drink blood. They don't have claws. Monsters have no physical description. Monsters… hurt people. They tear innocent people to shreds for next to no reason. Monsters can be perfectly human. Do you understand me, Caroline? There are no sides. There's no grouping these people here and those people there. There are no groups. There are only individuals and they deserve to be treated as such. You are not a Hunter. You are not somebody out to hurt my son. You're Caroline. Who are you, Caroline? Are you a monster?”

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