*Warning: The following is a work of Complete fiction, it’s just the product of my over-active imagination and fears. However, it includes domestic violence, and anyone who has or is suffering from the same thing should refrain from reading it. It is also encouraged that, if you are a victim of domestic violence, you contact the police, or someone to help you right away. YOU ARE NOT ALONE, AND PEOPLE WILL HELP YOU!!*
I fell back, and managed to hold back a cry as my elbow hit the floor, splitting the skin. The tears that threatened would only make my punishment worse, so I held them back as well as I could as he struck another blow, this one to my side, causing me to turn, leaving my stomach and back open. Another blow hit my ribs, and I struggled to breathe as pain spread to my gut, a deep ache I would feel for days afterword. A hand embedded itself in my hair, and I was being dragged across the floor. After being dragged down the hall, he let go, and I heard keys, a lock turn, and a door open. He grabbed my arm and threw me into the room. The door shut, the tumblers switched, and footsteps retreated down the hall. I had peace once more.
I heard a broken sigh, and realized that it was me. I crawled over to my bathroom, which was attached to my dorm room, and made my way to the sink. Most weapons had first aid kits under their sinks or beds in case of attacks. Fortunately for them, they only had to worry about attacks from people hoping to become Kishins. I had to worry about attacks from my partner.
He wasn’t always like this, especially when we first met. He was a sweet boy, awkwardly shy for his age, and had a face that many boys longed for. No one knew his name, not even the teachers, they just called him whatever they wanted. Because he was shy, and different, however, no one really noticed him. He hung around the back of the crescent room, head down and staring into a book or a drawing, or looking dazed at the ceiling, ear buds playing music we could only hear in a hum. A few girls seemed wary of him, but I always attributed that to his aloofness, and his shy nature. I never knew that a monster could lurk beneath such a gentle façade.
Then one day, I finally got the courage to speak to him. He was shy at first, speaking in short, quick sentences, but he eventually warmed up to me. We started hanging out, after school for study sessions, or in a park goofing around. We got along so well, we decided to be partners. Not long after that, he asked me out, and we’d been dating ever since. I even learned his name.
Things had begun to change inside him, though it took me a bit to see it. He became distant, even a bit stand-off-ish, and I was sure he was going to break-up with me, and leave me as his partner. I grew scared, and did whatever I could to make him happy: cooking, cleaning, finishing his homework; all just to keep him with me. I see now how foolish I was.
He stayed, but he began to treat me like dirt. In his mind, I was an object, a toy, one that he could use and just throw away, though I didn’t see it until recently. I had always managed to find a way to remain useful, save for one way in particular. I planned to wait, and I just couldn’t lose a part of myself to him just to have him leave me as soon as it was over.
The violence began about a year ago. We had been “dating”, though I shudder now to think of it as such, for quite some time, and I was beginning to think that he was going back to how he was when I met him. He was still distant, and, in some ways, cruel, but was starting to become his timid self again. I started to smile more, and become more cheerful, thinking we can get back to how we began, and how wonderful it would be.
Then, one day, he came home from school, relaxed and quiet. I got home before him, so I could start dinner, and clean up a bit. I heard him come in, and rustle through his bag. I called out a greeting, telling him I was in the kitchen. I was washing vegetables at the time. I heard his bag hit the floor, and his calm, even footsteps come my way. He entered the kitchen, still calm, and walked up behind me. I felt his hand on my shoulder, gently pulling as if to get me to turn around, and, smiling, I turned to face him.
I was on the ground in less than a second, pain exploding through the left side of my face. He stood over me, his face a blank mask, as I tried to comprehend what just happened. Before it really had a chance to register, he had grabbed my arm and, pulling me to my feet, slammed a fist into my stomach. I doubled over, and he grabbed my hair, yanking on it to show my face. With slight smirk, he held up a paper, one I vaguely recognized as a homework sheet I did for him not that long ago. It was marked with a large D- on the top in red. He threw the paper to the ground and shoved my head down after it, causing my face to hit the hard wood floors. With that, he walked to the refrigerator, pulled out a soda, walked into his room, and shut the door. I was on the floor, disoriented, and managed to find my way back to the sink. I was frightened, and didn’t want to give him another excuse to beat me.
Soon, he didn’t even have real reasons to beat me, anymore, and did it whenever he felt it was needed, which, unfortunately for me, was often. He managed to find a way to hurt me without leaving much of a mark, and he favored it, as it tended to hurt the most. I believe he did it to make himself feel powerful, since he was always ignored, and he took his frustrations out on me. He forbade me from ever calling him by his real name. I vowed then that he was to be known as “He” or “Him”, from here on out.
I never told anyone about that day, and the days that followed. People had all sorts of guesses, of course, especially when I started to come to school with bruises, and the occasional cut. I have everyone convinced, at the moment, that I am I giant klutz. I fell down the stairs, I tripped on the way to school, I used them all, except for the excuses like, “I walked into a door”, anyone could see through that.
I didn’t really have to try too hard to keep up the klutz act in school. He occasionally gave me a mild concussion, and he forced me to go to school the next day, so it was really just a matter of me trying to stay upright most of the day. Allow myself to stumble a bit, misstep on the stairs; the act was pretty simple after a while. I was ignored, just as he was, and I preferred it that way. He began to leave me alone as well, telling me that no one would want me, and that I should be left alone. That is, unless I misbehaved.
This one started like any other day. Go to my classes, stumble around a bit in the halls, and write a list of things to do when I got home. I still had laundry to finish, dishes to do, and twice the homework of the other students. Of course, in this Academy, nothing stays “normal” forever.
I was on my way through the halls. The bell had rung, and I was a few minutes late to my class. At this point, I didn’t care. I almost thought that the teachers knew what was going on, and simply refused to help. No matter. I was on my way up the stairs when I felt my foot slide out from underneath me. I didn’t even bother yelling, I just clutched my school materials and braced for the painful impact.
It never came. I slowly opened my eyes to find myself staring at the ceiling. I carefully turned my head to see a rather relaxed pair of red eyes staring at me, and I realized I was being held. My first thought was ‘Why couldn’t I feel the soft landing?’ My second thought was, ‘OH MY GOD, HE’S GOING TO KILL ME IF HE SEE’S ME!’
“Hey, are you alright? That could have been a nasty fall. People really need to pick up their papers when they drop them, it’s a death trap.” His words drifted into my panicked thoughts. I quickly leaned forward, placing my feet firmly on the steps in front of me, and turned to face the red-eyed boy. He had messy silver-white hair, and a head band sitting loosely on his forehead with a strange emblem and the word “Soul” written on it. At the moment, he looked almost bored as he gazed at me, and I suddenly felt a little self-conscious about my looks. I knew my hair would be a mess, and my clothes would be a bit disheveled, but my main concern was if the bruises on my arm were showing.
“I-I’m fine. Just a l-little shaken, I g-guess,” I managed to reply, my fear resurfacing in an instant.
“What are you doing out here, anyway? Class’s already started,” he asked leaning on the railing.
“I’m on my way to the crescent room; I just ran into some… complications in the hall.”
“That’s funny; I’m on my way there too. Guess I can use you as a late pass,” He said, and started to walk up the stairs, stopping on my step. “Hey, you don’t mind me embellishing the story a bit, do you?”
I just shook my head. “No I don’t mind, but I really have to--”
“Hey, (Y/N), there you are!” My blood ran cold. I tried to keep the fear from showing, and it must have worked, because the boy looked at me with his head slightly tilted, and a smirk, like he was resisting the urge to chuckle. I must have looked surprised, at least. I slowly turned around, trying a small smile as I did.
“Professor Stein asked me to come get you.” He bounced down the steps, and stopped one step above mine. This did not help the fact that I was shorter than him, and I had to look up in order to see his face. He wore a fake smile, and had his eyes mostly shut, most likely to hide the emotions inside. “And who’s this?”
“Soul Evans,” the boy said, and nodded in greeting. “It’s nice to meet you. And you are?”
He did his fake smile again. “That depends. Who’s your main teacher?”
Soul looked confused. “Stein.”
“Then you can call me Aaron. I’m (Y/N)’s partner”
Soul nodded. “Alright, then, Aaron it is.”
“Soul just saved me from falling down the stairs. I guess I slipped on a piece of paper someone left there,” I said, laughing nervously and rubbing the back on my neck.
“Yup, and I just found out that we’re going to the same class, so I’m going to make sure she doesn’t trip over a penny or something on the way there. It would be uncool of me if I didn’t.”
“You don’t have to do that,” I said, waving my arms in front of me. “I can get there on my own.”
“Its fine, I’m going that way, anyway.”
He started walking, and, realizing I was defeated; I started a few steps behind. “Aaron” was walking next to me, a steely gaze fixed at Soul. Every once in a while, he’d look at me, and the look in his eyes told me that I shouldn’t go home, even though I had nowhere else to go. I didn’t understand my sudden fear. I knew that I had done nothing wrong, and I was determined to show it. I stood straight, looked directly ahead, my eyes focused on a distant point down the hall, and quickened my pace ever so slightly.
Before long, we were at the Crescent Room. We crept into the room as quietly as possible, trying not to disturb the teacher, who at this moment was attempting to dissect another helpless creature. This one seemed like some sort of pig-like animal, covered in black and white colored fur, its legs strapped down, and a terrified look on its face. Now that I think about it, I believe it was some sort of Tapir….Professor Stein had the scalpel poised above it, gesturing to the rest of the class where to make the incision, in order to avoid making the animal bleed to death. It was at this point that he realized we had come in the room.
“Ms. (y/n), Mr. Evans, how nice of you to finally join us.” He said, making everyone in the class look at us. I started to panic, and looked at my sleeves and brushed my hair in front of my shoulders. Still down. My hair still covered my neck. I glanced at Soul. He was still calm and relaxed, as if this happened every day. Maybe it did, and I just didn’t pay attention until now. I forced myself to relax, and began making my way to my seat.
“Where are you going, Ms. (y/n)? I was just going to ask you to be my assistant during this operation.”
My heart stopped, and I froze where I stood. Turning, I started to decline.
“Nonsense, you can do it. Get down here and stand next to me.”
I stood for a moment more, then made my way down the three steps I managed to climb before he called me. I made my way to his desk, and stood as far from him as possible. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t have that, today.
“Now, now, come on, stand next to me. Wait, first, go over and wash your hands, they’re going to have to be spotless for this.” He brushed his white-grey hair out of his face and gestured to a sink on the wall near the cascading levels of seats. I hurried over as quickly as I could, and carefully washed my hands, and partway up my arms. I hoped that, if they didn’t look too closely, they wouldn’t be able to see the oddly shaped bruises on my arm.
I pulled my sleeves back down and fast-walked back to the table. Luckily, no one seemed to really be paying any attention to the odd girl tugging on her sleeves in the front of the room. They were all having side conversations, or looking intently at the scarred professor, who was waiting for me to finish up.
“You can hand me tools, and help out here and there. For now, hand me the surgical marker; I need to redraw these lines.”
I did everything he asked, even holding open part of the poor animal’s side as Stein looked for a specific organ, all the while dreading the job, and trying to avoid the lolling eye of the sedated Tapir.
Soon, the bell chimed, and I ran to the sink, washing my hands until they were nearly raw, then I carefully dried them, and picked up my things. It was the end of the day, and I knew I had to get home to start dinner and our homework. I put my things in my bag and walked out the door, making my way to the stairs in front of the Academy.
“Hey, wait up.” I turned and saw… Soul, was it? He was walking towards me with a small smile on his face. I quickly looked around, seeing if “Aaron” was around, or if Soul was looking for someone else. There was no one else around. He caught up, and smiled a bit wider.
“Don’t tell me you forgot? I told you, I’m going to make sure you don’t fall down the stairs, at least for today.”
I shook my head and hands frantically, trying to get him to understand. “That’s really not necessary; I can make it just fine.”
He raised his eyebrow at me. “Are you sure you’re okay? I mean, you look a little scared to me.”
I forced my face to turn neutral and, very calmly, replied, “I have no idea what you’re talking about. I just see no need for you to take time out of your day to follow me and make sure I don’t hurt myself. Everyone in this school knows I’m a klutz, but I never hurt myself enough to need help, so it’s not necessary for you to follow me.”
I regretted my words, but I couldn’t just tell him. No matter how much I wanted this stranger to be able to help me, I knew it would be best for the both of us if he stayed out of it.
I don’t think he really believed me, but he seemed a bit more willing to let it go. “Well, you’re at least stuck with me for the walk down the stairs; I was going to head down anyway when I remembered what I said earlier.” His red eyes were insistent, and I knew he wouldn’t let this go, so I agreed to the walk down the stairs.
It was relatively quiet on the walk down, the only noises coming from the people below, our footsteps, and the occasional comment coming from Soul. I looked at the steps in front of me the entire time, watching for paper and avoiding any possible eye contact. I began to count the number of steps that were not perfectly symmetrical with their opposite side, out of pure boredom. When I got to the bottom of the steps, I had counted eight. I shifted my bag back onto my shoulder, and turned to face him.
“Thanks for walking me down, I guess…” I said, trailing off.
“It’s no problem. If you need someone to walk with you again, just ask,” he replied, smiling a grin that proudly displayed pointed teeth. I jumped slightly at this, but recovered quickly enough.
“Thanks for the offer, but I probably won’t need it.” I said smiling a little.
“Well, then, if you ever want to hang, you know where I’ll be.” With that, he left in the opposite direction I was heading in.
Where would he be? The stairway? The halls? The entryway to the school? I blew my hair out of my face. That’s helpful. I decided to forget about the white-haired boy and get home as quickly as I could. I rushed to the apartment, climbing the stairs to get to the door. Inside, I set my bag down and took off my coat. I hung my things up, and did a light jog to the kitchen. I pulled the supplies out to make dinner, washing the vegetables, and, to my despair, thinking about the boy that helped me on the stairs. I was reaching into the freezer to get the meat I needed when a hand grasped my wrist. I turned and saw Him. I was so focused on my thoughts that I didn’t hear him come in. I looked at his face and gasped. He wore a merciless grin, and it was then that I realized exactly how bad of an idea it was to come home, just as his hand rose to strike a blow.