Though this is pretty mild compared to the sick things that happen out there, I want to warn you guys that the beginning does have an element of dark, twisted violence since it is about child abuse, so be cautious. I'm sure most people can handle it, but I don't want anyone to be scarred because I didn't give a warning in the beginning. Please, I hope you read and understand my message here. It means a lot.

.X.X.X.

"N-No…"

The soft whimper was smothered by the sharp sounds of a heavy wine bottle cracking against the countertop.

"P-Please… Stop…"

Screams quickly shattered the stillness of the night.

"G-Get away!" a young girl shouted, crawling desperately towards the front door.

"Come on, sweetie. I'm not going to do anything to you," a man whispered as he knelt on the ground beside her, shoving her painfully against the expanse of wall beside the door and gently stroking her sticky, cranberry tresses. "Hush, hush."

"L-Leave me alone… P-Please… I just…"

"I already told you. Nothing's going to happen, honey. Nothing at all…" A small smirk played on his features. "You were just being bad and you need to take your punishment. That's all. It's not so bad…"

He slowly carved the thin, jagged edge of the wine bottle into the girl's forearm, tearing away at the outer layer of pure, alabaster skin and chuckling as her new wound bled fresh against his hand. She bit her lip nearly hard enough to draw blood and forced back her welling tears at the splitting pain. She couldn't let them fall. That would mean he won.

"See, it isn't so bad, right?" he whispered again, tracing her laceration with his finger and wiping the blood against her white, cotton shirt. "It's just a little bit this time…"

"D-Dad, s-stop it," she stammered, teeth chattering with fear. "S-Stop."

"But you were being bad. You need to take responsibility for your actions, sweetie. How else are you ever going to learn?"

"I-I didn't do anything. I was just talking to a friend."

"A friend?"

She flinched. She wasn't supposed to have friends. They were forbidden in her world.

"But that wasn't just a friend. That was a boy."

"B-But nothing happened—"

"You're talking back to me?" he growled.

"N-No, I just—"

"You filthy whore!" he shouted, raising his hand and striking her across the cheek. Even at the brutal sting of the impact, she refused to let her head turn to the side, even though she knew it would diffuse at least some of the impact. Last time she did that, he hit her on the other cheek to straighten her face out, so this time, she fixed her head in that one position and made sure it held, like she dipped it into concrete.

"D-Dad, I really d-didn't…" she whispered, eyes glazed with hot tears.

"You know you're not supposed to go around with boys. They'll do anything to get you to have sex! And seeing how friendly you two were today, I'm sure you already slept with him!"

"W-We were just talking!" she cried desperately, "I swear!"

"What? Did he pay you? Did he?"

"N-No, we didn't do anything!"

"I see, so the bastard paid you for it!"

"N-No, I didn't—"

In a fit of rage, he hurled the bottle across the room, the remaining half of its broken form shattering against the hardwood and sending small and large shards alike flying. She whimpered and shook her head, her eyes still filled with tears that refused to fall.

"I-It wasn't my fault, Dad…"

He felt his surroundings and grabbed the most frightening within reach at the moment—a silver golf club from his vast collection. Then, he raised his arm, golf club in hand, again to strike her.

"S-Stop!"

The girl screamed and dove to the side in hopes of avoiding it. Luckily, she did, although just barely. Her precious, reddened cheek was cut against the fragments of sharp glass around her body, but the minor injuries were nothing compared to the power of that possibly lethal weapon. He rose from to his feet and attempted to hit her again, but she was too fast. She brought her body up from the glass, kneed him as hard as she could where it really hurt, and while he was writhing in absolute agony, bolted out the front door and took off towards safety. She didn't have much of a plan as she raced down the steps and out her apartment building, but anywhere was safer than that place she called home. She simply ran in the midst of the starless, moonless night, hoping to find someplace to stay for the night. And then, it suddenly hit her.

That boy from school—Skye! He would surely save her! She remembered his address from the last time they had a project, and he was only a couple blocks down. If she could just make it there, she would be safe. And at the rate she was running, she would be there within the minute. She was frantically sprinting through the darkened path, even though she felt her legs would collapse into themselves; they were becoming as heavy as blocks of granite to lift, but she would do it anyway. She couldn't afford to be caught. Her father had already started running after her, and he was just a few hundred meters away. But, if she was lucky enough, she could slip into Skye's apartment building unnoticed. The streetlamps in her area went out frequently, so her path was overall dim enough for her to hide.

If only she could make it to his apartment building.

It was just a few more doors down. Just a little more…

She pushed on just enough. She crashed her body into the door and nearly spilled out onto the floor, but she wasn't done yet. She ignored the doorman's words of questioning and confusion and raced up the seven flights of stairs to Skye's apartment door. Shifting her head between the possible haven in front of her and the known demise behind her back, she frantically pounded against the door and rang the doorbell until Skye finally came to her rescue.

"Lana?" he asked, his beautiful cerulean eyes growing wide and questioning.

"C-Can I please come in?" she pleaded between her heavy gasps for breath. She could hardly hear herself through the pounding of her heartbeat in her ears, but she took it as a good sign when Skye stepped aside and motioned her in. Once the door clicked shut, Lana turned back to Skye and pointed at the latch above the doorknob.

"What?"

"L-Lock the door, please."

"Oh… Okay."

Skye obediently locked the chains and bolts on his door and led Lana to the plush, black leather couch in his living room.

"What happened?" He carefully set a pillow behind her back and watched her lean against the cushion. She snuggled against the afghan under her knees, seeming cold from her sprint in the midst of a blistering winter evening. "Let me get you a blanket," he said and began to rise.

"N-No," she whispered, "Please don't. I'm fine."

Though Skye didn't believe her even as he sat back down, she really was. There were small beads of sweat forming at the base of her forehead; she didn't need to be warmed up any further. More than anything, she was just tired.

"What happened to you?" he questioned, scrutinizing her unusually disheveled appearance. Her naturally sparkling, deep violet eyes were now dulled with a cloud of pain and fear. The flawless porcelain skin of her cheeks was red, but not with the sweet flush she usually had; blood had smeared almost painfully across her creamy skin. Her cranberry locks were normally straight and framed her face beautifully, but now there were strands of sticky, sweaty hair clinging to her at some points and flying out at others. He also noticed a bit of hardened white residue tangled into her tresses. What was that? He squinted and looked a little closer.

Good God.

He knew what it was, but he didn't dare ask. And even if he wanted to, he couldn't. It was impossible to ask her to put something like that into words.

"Let me treat you," he said instead, reaching for the first aid kit under his coffee table.

"I-I'm fine—"

"Don't say that. You aren't."

"O-Okay…"

Hesitantly, Lana nodded her head and allowed him to dab the cotton balls in disinfectant to treat her wounds. She defensively fisted her fingers into her cotton tee, keeping her gaze on her lap.

"If you look down like that, I can't treat you," he whispered.

"A-Ah, yes…"

She lifted her head, and her eyes met his cerulean ones for just a moment. It suddenly dawned on her. Skye—the name was truly appropriate for him. He had the most beautiful pair of sky blue eyes, large and round and twinkling with all the compassion in the world for her. His full, silky chocolate hair flared out in low spikes, and the remainder of his sharp features was wrapped in a layer of lightly bronzed skin. With great force, Lana pried her gaze from his face and waited for him to start disinfecting. He dabbed the cotton against the blaring wound across her forearm, receiving a wince of pain from Lana.

"Are you okay?"

"Y-Yes," she managed to breathe out.

"I'm sorry. It'll just be a moment more."

He trailed the cotton ball along the cut, and after cleaning off the majority of the blood, grabbed the roll of white tape to wrap her up. She seemed to relax her tensed shoulders, realizing the pain had vanished.

"Better?" he asked after taping her and reaching for another cotton ball.

"Yes, thank you."

He continued with a new ball of disinfectant. He gently wiped away the excess blood from her cheek, cleaned off the wound, and placed a fresh band aid over it. When it was finally done, Lana rested the side of her body against the pillow entirely and drew her knees close to her chest, eyes still fixated on Skye.

"Thank you… I really can't thank you enough," she whispered.

"No, it's nothing, really. Are you feeling any better?"

Lana nodded her head and nuzzled her unspoiled cheek against the coarse fibers.

"That's good then," he said as a small smile rose to his once lugubrious features. Lana nodded once again at him, feeling a bit cheerier herself.

They sat in silence for a brief moment, both afraid to startle the other in their individual moments of happiness. However, after enough time passed for them both, Lana nervously glanced down at her chest and made a small motion with her hand to prompt him to speak. She knew he wanted to say something to her, but he was holding back until she said something.

"O-Oh, um… Well, did you need a place to stay tonight?" he questioned carefully.

"A-Ah?" she stuttered, not really expecting him to ask that. "Y-Yes… I don't want to impose, but I really…"

At the thought of going back to her father, Lana found her hands trembling and her eyes welling with fresh, hot tears. He scared her. Deep down, she didn't think she did anything so wrong, but if he saw it as bad, then it must've been. She knew she was in the wrong—she always was. But this time, it was especially bad. She ran away. She never ran away from him before. She was certainly going to be killed for something as awful as that, and truthfully, she deserved to die.

That's what she believed, despite being the victim in all this.

She couldn't hold back the pain and the fear any longer. Mordant tears burned their path down her cheeks and dripped off her chin like rain. Heavy sobs racked her small, fragile body, and in that moment, Skye scooted forward on the couch and took her in his arms. She fisted her fingers into his thin shirt and cried into his shoulder as he reassuringly hushed her and caressed her back.

"It's okay. You can stay here as long as you need."

"R-Really?" she whispered, still choking on her own cries.

"Of course. You're safe here, okay? Don't worry. I'll take care of everything."

She nodded her head into his chest and took deep, shaky inhales in the hopes of calming herself. She felt she couldn't continue sobbing into his shirt the way she was, though he in actuality didn't mind. He liked the feeling of holding her soft, petite body in his arms. She usually shied away from everyone at school who dared to reach out to her, but here, she was relying on him and holding him tight in her own arms. He was more than glad to help her; he knew she was a sweet, sweet angel who was simply too afraid to show her real self to the world. She had too much pain to hide, too much in her background to seal away from others. But here and now, she could let it out. She let out all the misery she'd buried deep inside her, misery she thought she would take to the grave with her. But Skye was there, simply holding her and listening to all her scarring stories through her cries.

After a few more minutes, Lana finally eased out of his arms and regained control of her overwhelming emotions.

"I-I'm sorry," she whispered under her breath, beautiful eyes bloodshot and watery.

"It's okay. Don't apologize."

He reached out to brush a lock of hair from her face, but she instinctively drew back before he could touch her.

"I-I just…"

"It's fine. I understand."

"S-So I… can stay here?" she asked again, just to make sure. She thought he would retract his offer, because she cried so much in front of him. She was ashamed of herself for acting as rashly as she did, but she knew she was running on the adrenaline of fear for most of that night. It wasn't her even thinking most of the time; it was just her body driving itself towards safety. And even her crying was a natural response from her body—a method of purging the built up pain that would've likely caused her to explode otherwise.

"Of course! I said you could stay as long as you want, didn't I?"

"Y-Yes, but—"

"Then please relax."

Skye flashed a gentle, reassuring smile, and for once, Lana felt her heart brighten with something resembling hope.

"You're safe here," he told her.

"Y-Yes…"

For the first time in years, she smiled. She genuinely smiled—not the kinds of smiles she put on for everyone else in social settings, but a real, earnest smile. While most took their safety for granted, Lana had to fight and suffer for some semblance of safety, which even at her happiest times, she never really had. But now, now it was different.

Yes. Now, she was safe—truly safe.

Home should be a safe place.

Now, she had a place to call home.

.X.X.X.

I'm actually pretty happy with how this turned out. At least she had a happy ending, right? Unlike many people out there (this is to raise awareness, guys!). Child abuse is an issue that really hits home with me, and I hope you all understand why I wrote it. Thanks to those of you who read it and stuck out to the end, and please leave a review for me.