A/N: Just to warn the masses: this story contains some extremely mature content, especially in later chapters. There's slash and non-con, as well as various other socially unacceptable thing that may pop up as I continue. bashful grin The gender ambiguity in the first scene is intentional – it was meant to keep people guessing as to the character's gender when this was a wee little short story, but it just grew and grew and I couldn't hide it any more. Reviews would be lovely – they encourage me to write in the extreme. Thank you, and enjoy!

Late last night

Upon the stair,

I saw a man

Who wasn't there.

He wasn't there again today:

Oh, how I wish he'd go away.

Chapter One

'Maybe he won't show up tonight.'

Lying in bed with my eyes wide open I stare at the ceiling, the pale moonlight barely allowing me to make it out. The thought is a desperate, unrealistic one: in the four months we've lived here, he has almost never missed his evening fun.

As if summoned by my thoughts, I feel a sharp shiver up my spine – the only indicator of his arrival. No door or window has he entered through; that would be too commonplace for him.

"Hello, Precious."

My hands clench and I being to tremble: no matter how many times it happens, the fear is always the same.

"Look at me, my darling," he commands, and my eyes are reluctantly drawn to him.

He looms out of the shadows, his face a pale parody of beauty. His condescending smile widens as my eyes fall upon him. Terror fills me and I scramble to escape, to get away


My body freezes, and instantaneously I am unable to move, even as he sits and draws me close. He begins to press soft kisses to my neck, as he runs his long, pale hands through my hair. "That wasn't so hard, now was it? My beloved." One hand rests itself on my face, while the other beings to drift slowly downwards. My heart starts pounding in my chest; I feel as though I'm about to throw up.

And I can't say anything: he won't let me.

"That was very naughty of you, my treasure, trying to get away earlier." He tisks softly, his lower hand lingering briefly along my skin. "One would think you'd have learned better by now." The hand starts up its caresses again, only harsher, with purpose. "I suppose I'll just have to teach you a lesson."

I clench my eyes shut to try to hide the tears, and just as I do so my bedroom door opens.

"Alex?" My mother's sleepy voice comes from the hallway, "Are you all right? I could have sworn I heard -" There's a pause. "Are you crying?"

His hands cease to move around my body, though I can feel him smiling into my neck: we both know that he does not exist to her.

"It's nothing, mum. Just a bad dream."

Ever since he came into my life, it's been nothing but a nightmare.

The next morning the shrill screech of my alarm drags me reluctantly out of a groggy sleep, and my first conscious thought is of how sore my muscles are from the night's activity: when I throw the covers back and try to pull myself into a standing position, my back and thighs wail in protest. Steadfastly ignoring them, I stagger stiffly into the bathroom across the hall, hoping a hot shower will relieve the tautness.

It probably didn't help that I only got about two and a half hours of actual sleep. A favourite game of his is to allow me to drift off, then violently wake me before I can receive any of sleep's benefits.

The bathroom's already hot and misty, which means that my mother has used the shower already. I strip off my pyjamas quickly, glad to be rid of the sweat-soaked garments. The bathroom mirror is still fogged up, so I can't see my reflection clearly as I clamber into the shower and pull the curtain across. A quick turn of the knobs, and hot water is pouring over me, enveloping me in a blanket of relaxing heat. Already I can feel my stiff muscles begin to release their tension; I close my eyes and allow the rushing sound of the water to block out all other stimuli, all other thoughts.

After basking in the spray for a few minutes, I give my skin a thorough scrubbing with my bar of soap and wash my hair twice. I never really feel clean after he spends the night with me.

When I can finally convince myself to leave the comfort of the warm spray, I turn the water off, pull the curtain back, and brave the cold air, dripping water all over the linoleum floor in the process. Shivering, I reach for a towel and give my hair a quick rub down before wrapping it around myself. As I tie the towel firmly in place, something in the still-misty mirror catches my eye; a hint of dark blue against the muggy reflection of skin colour.

I turn to face it and swiftly wipe a hand across the mirror's cloudy surface. As I do the image clears, and I can see what caught my eye: an ugly blue-violet bruise mars the pale skin of my neck, standing out violently against the ashen flesh. I let out a snort of frustration at how I'll have to wear a turtleneck on what is likely to be a relatively warm day.

A knock on the bathroom door jolts me out of my post-shower reverie. "Alex, are you in there?" My mother's voice muffled voice drifts through the hard wood of the door. "You'd better hurry up or you'll be late."

The next few minutes are a mad dash of hastily brushed hair and teeth, of jeans and turtlenecks, of muscles starting to protest against the activity. Of only just remembering school bags before hastening out the door of our semi-downtown apartment and down the grungy stairwell (the elevator's been out of order for the last two months) and onto the practically deserted street. Not too many people are up and running at seven thirty in the morning, so I've found.

The rickety old bus pulls into my bus stop just up the street and I dash to catch it. Finding mercifully few people aboard, I plunk myself onto the nearest seat, pull out my sketchbook and begin to sketch. As my pencil scrawls over the page, I realize that my drawing has already begun to take form; long legs, delicate shoulders, long curly hair – a girl fully decked out in summer clothing.

Hand still flying, my mind starts to tune out into a haze of shading and detail and contrast. The only thoughts that penetrate are vague and related to the portrayal beneath my fingers; if I colour this in, I think I'll make skirt's trim pink; and maybe I should add hoop earrings, she seems like the type.

When I draw, I tend to loose all sense of time and place. I could draw for hours without noticing a single detail of the world around me or having a competent thought enter my head.

Abruptly I startle out of my trance and hurriedly glance out the window. I must have been drawing for around thirty minutes, because we're at the traffic light before my stop. The bus is considerably fuller than when I first got on; around fifteen people have clambered on without my noticing. I grab my school bag and start to close up my sketchbook when I catch a glimpse of my drawing and realize exactly what it is I've been sketching for the past half hour.

Staring back up at me is a pretty young girl in a tank top and short skirt waving merrily from the page. Her hair is bouncy, her midriff is showing, and I can see the hint of a hoop earring nestled among her curls.

But the smile on her face is anything but young and happy; her lips are curled into what could almost pass for a smirk and her eyes are patronizing and cruel. Her eyes. His eyes.

The lurch of my stomach is perfectly timed with the lurch of the bus as it slows to a stop in front of my school. I stiffly clutch my things to myself and get off, my shaky "thank you" lost to the driver as the doors slide noisily shut in my wake.

Shaken from the bus ride over, I stumble my way into school and slump myself down in the hallway outside my English class at exactly 8:12 am – eighteen minutes before the class is due to start. A minute and a half later my friend Naomi plunks herself down next to me.

"Mornin', Alex," she says groggily, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes. Her hand changes course to push her black-rimmed glasses up the bridge of her nose; they have a tendency to slide dangerously close to falling off on a regular basis. "Sleep well?"

I smile, the tenseness in my body evaporating; Naomi, although one of my closest friends, is quite possibly one of the most socially unobservant people I know. There's never any need to concoct elaborate tales to satiate her: the chance that she would notice anything out of the ordinary was unlikely at best. "Better than you, apparently. Long hours spent studying hyperboles and allegory last night?"

She snorts derisively at me. "Hardly. After I got back from the movies, I stayed up 'til the wee hours reading manga before I realized that it was Thursday, not Friday, and I had to get up in the morning."


"Don't I know it."

There's a pause. "So," I start, the hint of a smirk creeping at the corners of my lips. "You and Nick went to the movies last night, eh?"

"Mmmhmm," she says, the noise carefully casual.

"This is the third time you two have gone out together this week."

"Really? I hadn't noticed," she mumbles under her breath.

"Naomi, I hate to break it to you, but you and Nick are dating."

Naomi's face floods with colour. "We are not dating. We're not." Naomi and Nick have fancied each other since we all first met in grade nine (actually, I had a bit of a crush on Nick too back then, but that's beside the point). The two of them are absolutely crazy about each other; the problem is that neither of them posses the ability to take charge. Thus, they've spent the last two and a half years skirting around the situation entirely. There's certainly been an excess of turning red in the face on both of their behalves over the time they've known each other. (One of the best things about their pairing is that they're both compulsive blushers and are thus immensely entertaining.)

But about a month ago, the two of them started to spend more time alone together. They began to frequently go out to the movies, the arcade, and even started taking walks down in Robinson Park together to feed the ducks – all of which the pair refers as "hanging out". Both of them are in a state of steadfast denial that they are, in fact, dating: they've never even held hands.

One of them had better do something about the dubious nature of their relationship soon, or both their heads will explode from the overflow of blood to their faces.

It's at this moment that Nick chooses to walk up to us, dark hair slightly wind-tousled and the hint of sunburn barely touching his cheeks. There's a new-looking manly-type necklace around his neck, too boot. Naomi looks startled at his sudden arrival at this point in our conversation.

"Morning you two," he says, extending a hand to help Naomi to her feet even as the warning bell rings. She accepts the hand, flushing lightly in the process. Ah, young love. "Shouldn't we be getting to class?"

English passes without exception or intrigue -- discounting the return of Wednesday's in-class essays, upon which Nick, as always, has done incredibly well on. Stupid smart people. It's not until midway through B-block Socials that anything particularly remarkable happens.

We've just sat through forty minutes of our daily history lecture (with a promising forty more to go), and most of us are feeling fairly sluggish; although Mrs. Cantabile certainly tries, it's damn near impossible to make the 1837 rebellions of Upper and Lower Canada even remotely interesting to anyone. She's explaining the relevance of Louis-Joseph Papineau to the modern-day Quebecois; I'm enjoying the lecture through a drowsy haze when a hand places itself firmly on my chest.

I freeze, my mind suddenly jolting back into awareness. My breathing turns strained and ragged as those long, pale fingers flex possessively – and my heart almost stops when a second hand leisurely tucks my hair behind my left ear. He presses closer: his presence is all around me. Hot breath is on my ear, closer and closer until I can almost feel those phantom lips barely brushing my skin.

"Hello, love." The words are as dark and sultry as the man who speaks them. Slowly, with measured seduction, his teeth close around my earlobe and bite gently.


I fling my arms backward desperately, fighting him off, driving him away. He can't be here, he can't find me here –! My arms are flying, and someone's screaming: I realize vaguely that it must be me. Someone's holding me, restraining me, protecting me, whispering calming words. I dissolve into frantic tears everything blinks out.