Genre: Drama/ Romance
Warnings: Mentions of rape and murder
Summary: Selene has been inside her apartment for the past year with no intentions of leaving. But, when a mysterious man named Bastian starts visiting her, will it be the thing she needs to rejoin society?
Disclaimer: The letter are lyrics by Sopor Aeternus. All characters are fictional and any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.
A/N: I have posted this story here before but there have been some changes. Scenes have been added mostly.
He came back that night smelling like drying blood for the third time that week. I heard him open the apartment door and rolled over to turn on the bedside lamp. The smell used to make me sick so he used to have an elaborate system in place to change his clothes before he came home. However, as time has gone on the smell has almost become a comfort, he has returned, he is okay. The bedroom door creaked open and his face appeared, eyes hidden by a curtain of dark brown hair.
“Did I wake you up?” he asked, voice hushed.
“No, I wasn’t asleep yet,” I replied. He nodded and disappeared back into the hallway. With the door cracked open I could hear him go into the bathroom, probably to remove and soak his dirty clothes for the night, and then fiddle around in the kitchen for a few minutes. He was always hungry after these jobs. Soon after he appeared back at the bed room door, clothed only in his underwear; he gave me a small smile and came over to the bed. “Did it go well?” I asked.
“He put up more of a fight than I expected, but it ended fine,” he answered, drawing back the covers. I moved closer to him and he wrapped one arm around my shoulders, his skin warm against my own.
“Did he hurt you?” I asked as I snuggled into his chest. He brushed his fingers through my hair and shook his head.
“No, I’m okay.”
“That’s good.” The light went out and he made himself comfortable for the night as I drifted off to sleep.
Dear Mom and Dad,
I know it must seem to you like the strangest thing to say, but in the winter of his presence I've always felt warm and safe.
It had started normally enough, which is to say that it hadn’t started normally at all. It had happened one night back in December, a year after I had locked my front door to the world. I was reading a book, curled up in a corner of my sofa when the sound of the trash cans outside falling over met my ears. I looked over my shoulder to see what it was, expecting a cat or dog but instead a man was standing in the road, a metal pipe in his hand. His black jacket was covered with the white snowflakes that were falling, they dotted his dark hair and melted, the water mixing with the sweat that had formed on his brow from running. He was breathing hard like he had been chasing someone or something, but whatever his target may have been had obviously escaped him. He threw the pipe down in annoyance, a loud metallic clanging sound erupting as it hit the already battered trash cans. My eyes were transfixed on him, a mixture of curiosity and fright coursing through my veins. He must have seen my shadow or something because before I knew it he was looking up at my window. I had forgotten myself as I watched him, so when I finally noticed that he was looking at me it was already too late to hide.
The following day I was waiting for my lunch order, my mind idly wandering as I paced back and forth in the living room. Dark eyes, all I could think about were dark eyes. The gaze in them seemed to peer into my soul, like it could see all my secrets, knew what I was thinking. The knock at the door made me jump, my heart skipping a beat.
“‘Bout time,” I whispered as I went to answer it. It didn’t occur to me that the usual delivery man always rang the doorbell, then left the food in the hallway, my money already waiting in a special closed box on the outside, so when I opened the door I nearly screamed when I saw that it was the man from last night.
Bag in hand his eyes fixed themselves upon me through the crack that I had opened the door, my blood running cold as those dark eyes gave me the once over.
“Do you want your food?” he asked in a voice that I didn’t think could come from someone I had found so mysterious. His voice was gravelly but still high, a mixture of childlike tones and wisdom beyond his years. He was dressed in a black suit that was pristine and flawless; it hurt to look at it in its perfection. I reached out hesitantly for the bag, his eyes watching my every movement. He didn’t move his hand away from me; just let his fingers go as my hand gripped the bag.
“Thank you,” I murmured, my eyes dropping to the floor as I spoke.
“Mind if I join you?” My breath caught in my throat and I felt myself drowning. He wanted…to come in? Why? I hadn’t let anyone past my front door in over a year, what made him think that he would be the first? What made him so special?
“Why? I don’t even know you.” My eyes were still on the floor but I could sense his lips quirk up into a smile.
“I think it will be good for you.” My eyes trailed from the tips of his fingers, up his outstretched arm and finally to the smile that was on his face.
“I think that you should go home,” I told him before closing door as fast I could. I stood there for a few moments clutching the bag to my chest, my body shaking. He had gotten too close. He was confident, cocky, just like all the others and I already felt myself start to hate him.
I always knew no skirt no suit would ever bother me, as long as he is present, as long as this man stayed close to me.
After that first time I thought he would disappear like a wisp of smoke from one of the cigarettes that he liked to smoke after every meal. But my hopes that I would never see him again were short lived as he came back the next day. Each time he visited he would knock in the same way, sometimes just to drop something off, like a book or a movie, and other times he would knock and sit out in the hallway and talk to me through the door. We didn’t usually have long thought provoking conversations, at first he would just come and tell me the mundane details of his day so far. Sometimes he would intercept my lunch orders and deliver them like he had the first time but I still would close the door in his face. Every once in a while he would have his own food and would sit and talk to me while we both ate. During those weeks that we talked through the door I came to realize that maybe the man in the hallway wasn’t the big bad monster that I believed he was. He was observant, confident, easy going. He would crack jokes like he could tell that I had just put my fork in my mouth, when I was having a particularly bad day he always knew the right thing to say to make it bearable. It was on one of those days that as I listened to his voice I was overcome with a need to touch him. My fingers itched but I had to restrain myself from throwing open the door. I wasn’t going to surrender just yet.
“How can you tell?”
“You’re being quiet.”
“Is that how you always know?”
“Yeah, usually I get some sort of response from you.” My fingers hesitantly went up to the lock on the door, stopping part of the way before finally undoing it. I opened the door only far enough so that I could see the sleeve of his shirt. He must have heard me but he didn’t turn around, he just continued staring out into the hallway. My finger gently traced down one of the stripes on the shirt.
“Do you want to come in?”
I rarely ponder on him in the wayward hours of the day, but am surprised at my own delight I find in seeing him again.
I had to order an ashtray to leave out for him during his visits and started to keep a well stocked wine collection. He was observant, quiet, but it wasn’t uncomfortable. You would think that spending time with a stranger in silence would be, but his very presence was calming, peaceful. Somehow I knew that despite what I had seen that night he would never hurt me. On our second lunch…date? Could you call them dates? I wouldn’t call them that, it just seems weird. Anyway, the second time he showed up for lunch he was wearing a ripped up pair of jeans that seemed as out of place on him as they did completely natural. He wasn’t the cool sleek professional that he appeared, but just a regular guy that wanted to eat with me.
“I don’t even know your name,” I whispered absent mindedly while I waited for the water to boil for my tea. He was sitting at my small kitchen table, a cigarette between his fingers and a glass of wine in front of him.
“I don’t know your name either,” he replied. He was right, neither of us had willingly offered up this information until this very moment, a month after that first time. Anonymity was such a big part of our meetings that it had never seemed important to find out. Why should I pester him about a name when I’ve already shared more with him by letting him into my apartment in the first place? What more could he possibly find out about me from my name than by snooping around in my bathroom? Was knowing a person’s name really that important in creating a bond with them?
“It’s Selene,” I finally said as I brought my mug and tea pot over to the table. With his cigarette nestled between his lips he got up and pulled out my chair like it was a normal thing to do.
“Just call me Bastian.” He smiled.
I do like his company; I enjoy it, in fact…
“Why are you a shut in?” From the look on his face I could tell that he already knew the answer. He wasn’t the kind of person to ask questions to find out answers, he only asked to confirm what he already knew. It had been plenty of time for him to do a full background check on me if he felt the necessity to do so since our last visit and from the tone of his voice when he asked the question he more than likely had.
“Why do you care?” I asked. The way his lips turned down made me realize what he wanted. “I can tell that you already know the answer to your own question so why should I tell you anything?”
“You aren’t telling me anything, it’s for you,” he said. Our eyes locked for a few moments, neither of us moving, no words were exchanged.
“I don’t want to tell myself anything either.”
“Fine; how long have you been inside?”
“Almost two years now.” I sipped at my tea while he fiddled with one of the cigarette butts in the ash tray. That was the last thing we said to each other during that visit.
Sometimes he would show up with bruises or cuts, playing them off even though he knew I knew that he was up to no good. “You kill people, don’t you?” I asked cautiously as I spread ointment on one of the cuts he would actually let me touch.
“Maybe I do. You used to work in an office building, didn’t you?” he inquired.
“Maybe I did.”
“Does it bother you? That I kill men, then come and visit you?”
“As long as you’re getting the bad ones I don’t give a fuck what you do.” He hummed in response, like he was thinking of the right thing to say but wasn’t quite able to grasp it. “Why do you keep coming back?” I whispered. He turned his head to give me a small smile before reaching behind him to clasp my hand.
“Truthfully, it’s because you saw me that night. But once I started talking to you I came to realize that we’re kind of similar in some ways. Both isolated and detached from the rest of the world but in very different ways of course. You letting me in was a big step back outside for you, you know that right?” He said. I was frozen, I didn’t know how to respond to his words, I didn’t know how to feel. His grip on my hand however told me everything that I wanted to know.
Which is quite ironic, 'cause he's mostly occupied by the methods that exist to blow out people's lights...
There was one week when he didn’t come at all. I didn’t want to admit it to myself but on the third day of no visits I began to get worried. I hadn’t realized how much of what I did during the day relied on his coming to lunch. By the end of the week I was restless, I hadn’t slept well for the past few nights but I couldn’t sit still long enough to take a nap. I flipped on the television but would walk away from it a few seconds later because I couldn’t focus on it. I started multiple books but wouldn’t get passed page ten before I put them down in frustration. By Saturday I was so exhausted that all I wanted to do was lay on the couch and sleep but my nerves were completely electrified with unease. Something had happened to him. The thought had started lurking at the back of my mind after a few days but as the week had dragged on the notion began creeping farther and farther forward. I wanted to hear his voice, get some confirmation that he was okay, still breathing. I had to stop myself from jumping up and running to the door when I finally heard that light but familiar knock. Despite the bandages around his arm the same reassuring smile was still plastered on his face.
By the time summer was in full swing Bastian had become another fixture in my apartment that I regarded like he had always been there, like my couch or bed. He didn’t seem new or out of place, he fit in with the nooks and crannies like they were made to fit him as well as me. Usually when someone finally forks over a key to their place they are making something official, it’s a way of telling the other person that they are theirs and that they now belong, but Bastian didn’t even bat an eye when I slid a copy of my key across the table to him one afternoon. No words, just understanding as he pocketed it, our eyes never meeting like some sort of agreement that if we didn’t acknowledge it, we would never have to talk about it.
And we didn’t. Whatever we had was progressing like any regular couple’s would, minus the talking about everything. There was never any sort of awkward questioning about whether we were together or not, no fights about Bastian moving in, he just kind of showed up one day for lunch with a suitcase and has moved stuff in slowly but surely ever since. To this day I can’t tell you if I would even consider him anything more than the man who lives in my apartment, all I know is that as long as he is here I know that I have nothing to fear. It might seem like a strange thing to say after all, but even though his nights are preoccupied with ending someone else’s I’ve only felt warmth and love in his embrace. You are probably questioning how I feel safe with him; he kills men for goodness sake. But what is there to fear when you are not a man from someone who only kills men?
I never had to worry though; it can't give me the chills, because, you see, men are the only species that he kills.
I am falling. The ground underneath my feet is cracking, breaking, dropping and there is nothing that I can do to stop it. I feel my body start to plummet and all I see as I disappear into the darkness is a hand that is reaching out but that I cannot reach. This nightmare has been with me every night since I locked my door and my heart to the outside world almost two years ago. It’s cradled me, held me as I slept at night waiting to creep in and infect me with its fear. But with a magic kiss and an arm around my waist, this nightly visitor no longer had an invitation.
His price is one that only broken hearts are willing to afford.
The newspaper says that that bastard is getting a promotion, that he’s climbing the corporate ladder straight to the top on the backs of those that have sweated, bled and cried for him. Nowhere does it say that behind his plastic smile lies a monster in wait to snatch up his next victim, to ruin someone else. There is no subtext, no malice hidden between the lines of the article and I can feel my blood boil as I crumple the side of the paper in my hand.
“Now do you want to tell me why you can’t leave this apartment?”
If I, one day, might also decide to need this special kind of service that this man provides…
“You already fucking know, why do I have to say it?” I demanded of him. He sips at his wine before removing the newspaper from my hand. He clasps it with his own to still its shaking.
“Because if you don’t say it, it will consume you. It’s what’s keeping you prisoner in here, isn’t it?”
I could feel the dams breaking from the calmness of his voice, the way he massaged my fingers as he talked. Tears pooled in the corners of my eyes and I couldn’t force them back even though I tried. I lowered my face, letting my hair curtain around it to hide the tears from his searching gaze but I could still feel him get up from his chair and encircle me in his arms.
Oh, I will pray that my fate kindly agrees to the plot, and sends someone like this man to come and finish the job.
“It’s okay, I already know. I won’t judge you,” he whispered close to my ear. His fingers worked themselves through my hair and I couldn’t stop my mouth from saying the words that I wanted to keep secret from the world.
“He raped me.”
“Whispering it isn’t going to help you.”
“He raped me,” I said a little louder. He picked up the newspaper and held up the picture so I could see it.
“What did he do to you? What did the man in this picture do?”
“The man in that picture raped me!” I nearly screamed at the picture, unable to stop the torrents that streamed down my cheeks. He let go of my hand and I buried my face in them, I didn’t want him to see.
Because I just cannot bear the foul and blasphemous thought that involves getting slain by some filthy amateur's hands.
“I want you to kill him!” I shouted, my finger jabbing angrily at the picture. “I want you to kill him.” He studied me for a bit, a small smile on his face as he looked between my red tear stained face and the picture in the newspaper.
“Are you sure that’s what you want?” he asked as he took the newspaper from my hand and folded it back up.
“Yes…I want him to suffer the same way he’s made me suffer.” He pulled me to his chest, allowing me to hide my face in his shirt as he massaged my back in small circles.
“If that is what you want.”
Death is always quite disastrous, messy, common and obscene, but in the golden hour when he leaves all is stainless, all is clean...
I heard the apartment door open from my spot in the bed and rolled over to turn on the bedside lamp. The bedroom door opened and Bastian’s head appeared, his face covered by his hair.
“Did I wake you up?”
“No, I wasn’t asleep yet.”
I know that you must surely think me mad, but he's the most human friend that I ever had...