"We're going to be staying at Alex's for a little while," Kyle said softly, gently brushing my hair away from my face as a turned sideways in the seat and pulled my knees to my chest. "Our place is still a crime scene and I want to get the doors fixed and have a cleaning lady come in before I take you back there." I didn't respond, just continuing to stare through the windshield blankly. "Nikolai... I'm so sorry this happened. If we had thought for a moment that Markov would be coming after me or knew where I lived, I wouldn't have let you stay there. I took you in to prevent anything else from happening to you, not to give you more pain to deal with."
I nodded a little. I knew it wasn't Kyle's fault and I didn't blame him for what happened, but I just didn't feel like talking right then. I just wanted to curl up in bed with my bear and pretend that the rest of the world didn't exist. Pretend that I'd never had a mother like her or been so different from other kids. I just wanted to be normal, like every other kid out there. Why couldn't I just be normal?
Brushing the tears off my cheeks, I looked up as the car stopped. It was a different complex than the one Kyle and I stayed in, this one looking much more upper class. I hadn't thought Alex could afford an apartment in a place like this, but then again, looks could be quite deceiving with her. Alex was waiting for us in the lobby and as soon as we entered, she wrapped me in a near bone crushing hug. She kept her arm around my shoulders even after she turned us to head to her apartment.
"Alex, here's Nikolai's cell and white board," Kyle said, making her abruptly stop to look at him. I looked up as well, confused as to why he wasn't coming with me. "It's okay, Nikolai. I'm just going to go finish up everything dealing with this so we can both put it behind us sooner." I nodded a little and reached up to take my things from him.
"Don't worry, Ky," Alex said, her voice confident. "Between me and Herman, nothing will happen to Nikolai. So go do what you have to and hurry back." Kyle nodded and ruffled my hair as he offered an apologetic smile before he left. "You aren't afraid of dogs, are you?" she asked as we got on the elevator. I shook my head slowly even as I looked at in complete confusion. She only smiled and led the way to her apartment. I didn't have to wait long to find out why she'd asked if I was afraid of dogs. As soon as she opened the door I was greeted with a low growl.
"Herman, sit!" Alex ordered and immediately the growling stopped and was followed with a soft whine. She took my wrist, holding my hand out to the way too large to be in an apartment dog. "Friend," she cooed at him and his large black muzzle came forward to sniff at my palm. I smiled faintly as his rough tongue slid over my fingers a moment later. "Good, now that that is settled, lemme show you which room you'll be using for the next couple of days." I nodded and followed her down the hall to the second room on the right, with Herman staying right beside me.
"The bathroom was the first door on the right and this is your room for the next few days," she said as she opened the door. Immediately, something colourful darted out of the room and back down the hall, causing me to jump in surprise. "Oh, that was Abbey. She's a little Absinian cat. Silly girl gets locked in bedrooms fairly often, so don't be surprised to open a door and have her come darting out. I dug out some old clothes from the store I've been meaning to take down to donate, but they're still new, just out of style. I can't imagine those disposable scrubs are all that comfortable." I nodded a little, noticing the pajamas laid out on the bed and the clothes on the desk.
"Well, make yourself at home, Nikolai," she said softly. "I'm going to make some breakfast if you're up to eating." Again I nodded and stepped into the room as she went back to the kitchen. I cocked an eyebrow as Herman followed me in before laying a hand on his broad head and scratching behind his ears. Realizing he wasn't going to leave, I just shut the door and began to change into the pajamas she had laid out for me. They were a little big, but that was fine. I crawled onto the bed, laying on my side facing the wall as I ran my thumb slowly over my cell phone. Herman didn't wait for an invitation either and laid down on the bed as well, pushing his way between me and the wall and forcing me to snuggle with him.
I laid there for a bit, staring at my cell with my arm draped over Herman's thick neck. Kyle had told me that my text for help had gone to Serj and I was certain he was probably still worried about me. I just didn't know what to say. Finally I typed in the two simple words of bI'm found/b and sent it to both Serj and Skylar before closing my phone. It was a little after seven now and I was fairly certain they may have been waking up to get ready for school. I hoped they'd forgive me for not going today. I didn't think I could handle it or stay awake through it.
It was a few minutes later when I got the text back from Serj asking if I was alright. I smiled sadly at my phone as I slowly typed a response, bAs alright as I can be./b I felt marginally better that he was at least awake to get my text. Again I only had to wait for him to send another text, this one asking if I needed anything. I glanced down at the current replacement for my panda bear before replying back, bI want my bear. We're staying at Alex's for a couple of days./b I couldn't help but smile when I got the reply asking where Alex lived. He was really going to bring me my bear. I gave him the name of complex and her apartment number before nuzzling Herman a bit. He just licked my face in response.
Between the warmth of Herman's body and the lack of sleep from the night before, I found myself falling asleep. I didn't bother to fight it much, knowing that Serj would wake me when he got there. Well, him or Herman, one of the two was certain to wake me up. I felt Herman shift and cracked my eyes open as I heard a low growl escape his throat when he put a paw on my side. I turned my head slowly to find Serj standing by the door and smiled faintly at him before gently patting Herman's big head. Serj slowly walked over, extending his hand to the dog.
"I believe Alex said 'dog' not bull," he commented in a soft friendly voice. Herman sniffed his hand for a long moment before turning and looking at me. I smiled as I reached over to take Serj's other hand and nuzzled the back of it. Herman huffed a bit, but returned to his previous position as I rolled over to fully face my friend. He smiled and slowly sat on the edge of the bed. "Can I hug you, iArahaes/i?" he asked and I nodded, reaching out for him with the arm I wasn't laying on. I had been so afraid I'd never get to see him again. He laid down next to me and wrapped his arms around me. "I am so glad you are not hurt," he muttered.
I buried my face into his chest, my fingers clutching at the back of his shirt tightly. I was so afraid he was going to suddenly disappear and I'd be back in that room again. It hurt to clutch his shirt so tightly, but I didn't care. I had him there with me. He shushed me gently and stroked my hair back tenderly. "It is alright, ilaskovaya moy/i," he whispered as he held me close. "You are safe now." I nodded a little, loosening my grip on his shirt. It was too dark in the room for him to see the bruises on my hands from beating against the trunk, or the burns on my wrists from trying to get loose. I didn't want him to see though. I just wanted him to do what he was doing and hold me.
He kissed the top of my head and brushed my hair back again before he sighed softly. I nuzzled into his chest, trying to keep myself from crying. I hadn't cried since Kyle had insisted they untie me and I didn't want to worry Serj. Even still, I was far too relieved to be back with him to keep all of them at bay. He shifted some, pulling me closer to his body before pulling back a moment. One of his hands left me, but before I could see what he was doing, the hand was behind me and out of my line of sight. I turned my eyes up to his face, moving a hand to brush the dampness off my cheeks. I was curious as to what he had done, but all I could see was the faint smile on his lips. I almost gasped as I felt something lay against my neck before Serj leaned forward and kissed my forehead gently.
"I thought this might cheer you up some, iArahaes/i," he explained as he turned the rough, but cool chain around so that something rested in the hollow of my throat. I reached up, feeling the rough stones that comprised the necklace before my fingers flitted over the pendant. I felt tears well up in my eyes as I smiled, feeling the dragonfly that was laying against my skin. I wrapped my arm back around him, shifting so that I could kiss him softly. I felt his hand tangle in my hair as he returned my kiss. After a few minutes, I broke the kiss, tucking my head under his chin as I tangled my legs with his to get as close as I could.
"Thanks..." I murmured faintly, not sure if it had been loud enough for him to hear. I relaxed as I felt him rub my back a bit.
"You are very welcome, Nikolai. I am just glad it made you smile," he said and I smiled to know he had heard me. I flinched a bit as his hand dipped too low on my back and felt Herman shift as well in reponse. He immediately pulled his hand back. "I am sorry, Nikolai. I did not mean to make you uncomfortable," he said before frowning at the dog. "Go back to sleep, Herman." I shook my head a little bit in denial, though it was simply because of how close I had gotten to being raped that it was uncomfortable at all. But I didn't want to tell Serj. I just wanted him to hold me like nothing had happened. He wrapped his back around me, but kept it higher than before.
"You go back to sleep too, iArahaes/i, you must be tired," he said and I nodded slowly. I was exhausted. The last twenty-four hours had been torture on me emotionally and physically. I locked my legs around his and clutched his shirt tightly, not wanting him to disappear while I slept. He chuckled some and kissed the top of my head. "Sleep, I will be here when you wake up," he assured me. I nodded, letting the heat between his body and Herman's seep into me and make my eyes grow heavy. I tried to fight it for a bit, but gave in when the soft, steady rhythm of Serj's heart regulated my breathing and made it impossible. I was gone the moment the darkness took over my vision.
"I should have woken him up, but he looked like he needed the rest and Nikolai was clinging to him so tightly," I heard Alex whisper. I cracked an eye open to see Alex and Kyle standing in the doorway, watching us.
"I don't think I would have done differently," Kyle replied. "We got there in time to stop Markov from violating him, but I am not sure it was soon enough to prevent more emotional damage from being done. His hands are scraped and bruised, most likely from beating on the underside of Markov's trunk. And there are rope burns across his arms and legs from the rope he'd used to tie him down. Serj might have been the only person who could have calmed him down like this."
"It's a little odd," Alex murmured. "Nikolai took a shine to him so quick considering everything he has been through. I don't know if I would have been able to cling to anyone if I was in his current position." I was surprised to see Kyle put his arm around her shoulders and kiss her temple softly.
"You were a lot older than he was when you needed someone to cling to," he said softly. Alex sighed before wrapping her arm around Kyle's waist and laying her head on his shoulder.
"And you were just persistent enough to keep me from sinking," she replied. "He'll be okay, you know. As long as he has stable ground to stand on, he'll get better." Kyle nodded, but laughed softly.
"Hard to imagine teenagers being stable," he muttered. Alex rolled her eyes as she poked him in the stomach.
"That is where you and I come in, Ky," she said. "We're the ones who provide the stability. And hopefully, when his father comes to get him, he can provide the stability Nikolai needs." Kyle frowned deeply at the mention of my father and tightened my grip on Serj's shirt. He knew something that no one was telling me.
"That man should know by now that Nikolai needs him," Kyle muttered angrily. "He really should have shown up by now to take him home or at the very least, give up his parental rights so Nikolai can be adopted. The boy doesn't deserve to be stuck in this waiting game." I pressed my face into Serj's chest, wondering, not for the first time, what was going to end up happening to me. Did my father care enough to claim me or to even let me go? Was Kyle tired of taking care of me already?
"Is it Nikolai who's stuck or is it you, Ky?" I heard Alex ask softly and Kyle sigh.
"I'll take care of Nikolai until his father comes or he turns eighteen," Kyle replied and I breathed a sigh of relief. Even still, I couldn't but to wonder about my father and his intentions with me. "I just think Nikolai deserves to have a stable home and I don't know that it's possible to give him when his father could show up any day and disrupt everything for him. We don't even know if his father lives here or across the country. I don't know if Nikolai could handle having everything change again."
"Time will tell, Ky," Alex replied. "He's a lot stronger than he looks." Serj's arms tightened around me and I looked up suddenly to find that he was awake. It worried me a little since I didn't know how long he had been awake, so I didn't know how much of their conversation he had heard. "Come on, Ky. Let's not wake them up yet. You know as well as I do it's not that common for Nikolai to sleep so well." As soon as the door closed, he bent down and gave me a gentle kiss.
"Good morning, ikrasivaya/i. Or should I say good afternoon?" he asked, looking around for something. I pressed myself closer to him as if there had been any space between us to begin with.
"Hi..." I whispered, still worried about what he might have heard. Still, I didn't want to move to get my board and ask. Instead, I just kept my hands out of his line of sight. He smiled and nuzzled against my neck some.
"Mm, I wish I could always wake up with you like this," he muttered, his hand rubbing my upper back as he held me. I nodded a little in agreement, only for me, it wasn't quite waking up with him I wanted to do. I just wanted to sleep with him. I wanted to be held and touched tenderly. I truly couldn't get enough of it and I was glad Kyle and Alex had left us alone again. Though, I kind of was beginning to wish Alex had taken Herman with her. He held me for a while longer before he pulled back enough to look at me.
"Are you alright, Nikolai? That man... did he hurt you at all?" he asked and I had to look away. The police had gotten there before he actually 'hurt' me, but it didn't mean he had been idle for the nine hours he did have me. But, I was reluctant to tell Serj. He'd already been worried enough. Finally, I nodded, but subconsciously pulled at the sleeves of my pajamas to cover my hands and make sure my wrists were covered. He frowned at me. "Was that to the first or the second question, iArahaes/i?" he asked softly, rubbing the back of my neck gently. I opened my mouth to say it was the first, but my chest tightened as I tried to lie to him. I couldn't do it.
"Both..." I mumbled leaning my head into his chest. He tightened his arms around me and kissed the top of my head.
"Everything will be alright, iArahaes/i. I promise. Where did he hurt you?" he asked softly. I bit my lip as I pulled back enough to sit up and pulled the pajama top off, revealing the crisscrossed rope burns across my upper body and arms. I couldn't look at him though. I swallowed hard as I moved my legs up, so I could pull my pant leg up and show the rope burns around my ankles that were even worse than the ones on my torso. He stared at the burns for a moment before gently taking one of my feet in his hand and pulling it up toward him. He kissed the burn gently before looking up at me.
"These are nothing to me," he whispered before placing another kiss on the damaged skin. "Absolutely nothing." I whimpered a bit, incredibly happy that the burns didn't matter to him, but earned myself a cold nose in the back as it woke Herman up. I shivered a bit, before pointing to the nightstand behind Serj for my board. I almost didn't care now if he saw how bruised and scraped my hands were. He reached back before handing me my board and marker, his hands absently massaging my calf.
bI don't know what you want to actually know,/b I wrote after staring at the board for several long minutes. I wanted to tell him, but at the same time I didn't and I was so confused where to even start. He smiled some and rubbed my leg soothingly.
"Just start from the beginning and tell me as much as you feel comfortable with, Nikolai. I will listen to whatever it is you tell me." I nodded a little.
bI opened the door cause I thought it was the pizza guy. He was looking for Kyle, but decided I was good enough. I kicked him to get free and hid under the sink in the bathroom. He found me and dragged me out of the apartment, even with me scratching and biting his arms. He threw me in the trunk and I guess I panicked. I beat against it for what felt like hours./b I paused there, giving him a chance to read while I absently rubbed my hands. I was probably lucky I hadn't broken them with as hard and as long as I had hit that trunk. He glanced at my hands again and took the one not holding my marker before bringing it to his mouth to kiss the bruises and scrapes.
"Nothing," he murmured before letting me reclaim my hand. I cracked a smile at him, before cleaning off my board to continue.
bHe made me strip for him while he touched himself. He made me kneel so he could... on my face. That's when he showed me the video camera. He taped it all./b I stopped for minute, brushing the tears away that had accumulated in my eyes. Serj leaned forward to kiss my cheeks, catching the tears that my hand had missed.
"It is alright, Nikolai. You will never have to do such a horrible thing again," he promised. I nodded as I quickly cleaned the vile words off my board. I hated what had happened and I wanted to forget it, but I had to tell it first.
bAfter that, is when he started tying me up. He bound my arms so awkwardly behind me and then to the bed. He touched me. Not like she did, but I knew it was going to end the same way. But it didn't get there. Cops showed up first./b He smiled some and I figured he was probably as relieved as Kyle had been that he hadn't been able to rape me.
"For which, I am extremely glad," Serj said shifting some and pulling me gently into his lap to wrap his arms around my waist and nuzzle against my neck. "But it still would not have mattered to me. I care too much for you to let something like that get in the way of being with you." I blushed a bit and smiled as I relaxed, draping my arms around his neck. I'd definitely gotten lucky to find him. I really hoped that my father wouldn't take me away from him now. We stayed that way for a little while, Serj just holding me tightly with the occasional kiss on my neck and shoulder.
"Ah, you two are awake," Alex said as she opened the door. "Dinner's ready if you're hungry. Your's too, Herman." Herman jumped up, immediately leaving the room to hunt for his dinner. Serj hummed a bit.
"I suppose since I have not eaten today I should, but I am so enjoying myself it is hard to make myself get up..." he said, nuzzling my neck and shoulder. I blushed deeply as my eyes went a bit wide at the brazen display of affection he was showing in front of Alex. I was almost mortified, but at the same time, I completely agreed.
"Mmm, since you put it that way," Alex said. "Come on, Romeo. Juliet needs to eat even if you're too comfortable." I ducked my head, even more embarrassed now. Serj chuckled some at me.
"Oh, very well," he said with an overdramatic sight before letting me go. I stood and pulled my shirt back on, hiding the rope burns that had caught Alex's attention. Reaching a hand out to Serj, I followed Alex down the hall to the dining room area beside the kitchen. Kyle got up as soon as he saw us, getting two glasses of milk. My eyes however were locked on the man I didn't know who was sitting there, sipping a glass of red wine. I halted, more than a little nervous. Serj's hand tightened its grip on mine reassuringly.
"Uh, hallo," he said with a slight nod.
"Oh! I should have warned you!" Alex exclaimed. "Serj, Nikolai, this is my fiancee, Will Harrison. Will, this is Nikolai and his boyfriend, Serj." I nodded a little, relaxing only a bit to find out this guy was dating Alex.
"It's a pleasure to finally meet you," Will said, smiling broadly. "Lex has talked about the two of you almost nonstop for the last week." I waved slightly as I blushed at the mention of Alex talking about me. There couldn't have been that much to say, could there?
"Ah, good things I hope," Serj said, sitting down in one of the empty seats. "Kyle, could I also have a glass of juice?" he asked, glancing over at my foster father.
"Sugar low?" Alex asked as I slipped quickly into the empty chair next to Serj's. I glanced at my raven haired friend with a little worry.
"Just a bit. I have not eaten since this morning so it is not surprising," he replied, taking my hand under the cover of the table. I squeezed his fingers tightly as Kyle set a glass of orange juice on the table for him. Dinner was filled with idle conversation that had absolutely nothing to do with the night before or how I'd come to be in Kyle's care. At one point, Herman came over and nosed at my hand that Serj held until I let go to pat his head. Only then did he lay down, but he remained between our chairs.
I could tell Serj was not thrilled with Herman's need to be between he and I, but didn't say anything about it. However, after dinner, he had to leave, saying that his mother was probably having a stroke over the fact that he hadn't gone to school and then hadn't come directly home. I understood, sort of, but I really didn't want him to leave. I felt safe with him there. Alex and Will took Herman out for a walk, giving Serj a chance to give me a long slow kiss goodbye without interruption from my four-legged bodyguard. Leaving me breathless, he reluctantly left with the promise to see me at school the next day.
With a heavy sigh, I moved to plop down on the couch next to Kyle, who draped an arm across the back of the couch. He didn't really say anything as he flipped through channels, watching bits and pieces of anything that had nothing to do with crime. I had a feeling we had both had quite enough of the drama to last us awhile. Apparently, Serj wasn't the only one not allowed to get too close to me, as Herman wedged his large body between me and Kyle as soon as he got back from his walk. Silly dog. He was almost as bad as Serj could be.