“I am giving you a new life...if you accept. Do you accept?”
An empty, box-stacked apartment had such an odd melancholic air about it. In your hands you held the last box of your belongings from your previous life. Sighing, you gazed about the room: this place was much smaller than what you were used to.
You placed the cardboard box atop some others and opened it. The first thing that popped into your view was an old magazine you’d kept around for no apparent reason. It was the last thing you’d collected from your house back in Phoenix, better hold on to that.
This low budget apartment was to be your fresh start, the new beginning of something extraordinary. Although this was not as roomy as a single house, it was still bigger than a dog kennel. You cast your eyes around and smiled. This wasn’t so bad! Sure, you had nothing fancy, just the most basic things to make you comfortable, but this was good...normal.
Right now, you could use a little normal. Pleased with your work, you decided to call it a day and hit the covers. A quick change into your pyjamas and you were headed for the bedroom, yawning and stretching.
This day had been rather tiring: it was also the first night you’d be sleeping in a comfy bed again. As your back hit the mattress and your head fell down into your fluffy pillow, a content sigh escaped your lips –it had been so long since you’d been able to sleep soundly.
Your eyes were heavy with sleep, and quicker than expected, they drifted shut. In all exhaustion, you even forgot the close the doors to your balcony and crawl beneath the blankets. The sun set, and dark clouds pulled up above Detroit: a storm came and went while you lay soundly asleep.
The cold wind from outside hit you hard as you flinched upwards into a sitting position. Your chest rose quickly while sweat covered your body with a sticky, foul sensation. Somewhat in a panic, you glanced about your room, fear dancing in your tired eyes –your sight was still blurry from being plastered with sleep, making you even more anxious. Once your vision cleared and you were completely sure you were awake, you calmed down.
Slowly, you raised a hand to touch your face and rub the last bit of sleep away. That was a terrible nightmare, or rather memory. That man.
The goose bumps on your skin made you aware of the open doors to your balcony. After giving them a quick rub you shot up and strut over to close it quickly, before any more cold got in.
You’d gotten out, but one person you’d faced in The Crypt still haunted you: your last victim. The old man with his rosary. Ever since you’d left Arizona, you had been seeing him everywhere. Now he even visited you in dreams.
Still quite shaken by your unpleasant nap, you wobbled to the kitchen and took a glass of water from the tab. Leaning against the counter, you gulped it back with big tugs. “I need help...” you mumbled to yourself, slamming down the glass in front of you. “Serious help.”
You shifted awkwardly on the grey fold-in chair as people took the stage, each explaining how they had been abused and how they had dealt with it in the past months. They all stated their name, age and how long they had been dealing with their problem before getting to the actual description of their experience.
A support group for abuse survivors was a bad idea. A very bad idea. Most people here had been abused as a child, or by their life-partner, but none had seen the same horrors you had. You weren’t saying they didn’t have a tough life -heck, you weren’t sure you’d survive being beaten by the one you love!- but you felt like none of these people would ever understand what you’d gone through. You’d killed people, for Christ’s sake!
Nervously you nibbled on your lower lip and twisted a tissue in your hands. This had been your fifth, maybe sixth, session with this group and you still hadn’t introduced yourself. Last time, the group ‘leader’ came to you and asked you to speak today. Foolishly, you’d agreed. After this man was done speaking about his verbal abuse at work, you’d be opening up yourself to these strangers. This was worse than any high school presentation you’d ever done!
After a reluctant round of applause and the man disappearing to the back of the room, you stood up. You nearly bolted for the door when your stomach tumbled, but managed to get a hold of yourself and go on stage.
You tapped the microphone hesitantly, “H-Hello everyone, my name is (Y/n), and I have been mentally and physically abused by several people.”
“Hi, (Y/n)!” several voices said, some a little later than others.
You took a deep breath and sighed, lightly adjusting your posture, “Alright...” you said, “Some time ago, I was...taken from my home.”
A large quantity of eyes bored into you and you could feel yourself grow hot within. This sort of attention was very unwanted, but if you wanted to move on, this was where to start. “I...I was starved, beaten and forced to...” you trailed off, eyes watering. This was something you didn’t want to share, and somehow, these people understood –they didn’t press on, didn’t tell you to continue, just nodded knowingly and started their applause.
Brian, the leading man, came up to you and guided you to the side of the stage, “You did good for a first time (Y/n), but I’m assigning you a mentor...someone to help you get over it. We’ll meet him when this session is over, for now go back to your seat.”
Minutes passed, and finally people started to leave the room. They flocked out back to the real world, while you sat waiting for your mentor. Caretakers had started to clean up the room, removing all the empty fold-in chairs around you and mopping the floor. All this time you stared at one spot on the wall, feeling strange with this whole situation.
Was this really going to help, or should you just let yourself get locked up in a mental institution? Best case scenario you’d forget all that had happened, worst case: you’d kill yourself after being pumped full of drugs prescribed by a hospital psychiatrist. And this mentor, he probably didn’t know shit about what could help you.
At that moment, Brian came back in trough the doors behind you, your presumed mentor by his side. They chatted some, but you didn’t quite follow the conversation until he called out to you: “(Y/n)! I want you to meet Nick, he will be your mentor from now on!”
You turned around on your chair to face them, heart stopping when your eyes met with your mentor’s. Those angelic blue eyes, it was the man from The Crypt! The fallen angel, Lucifer.
“Hello, (Y/n).” Lucifer innocently offered you a hand, which you refused to take. “Right,” he lowered it again and shot a look of feigned-concern at the Brian, “I’m Nick, and I’ll be coaching you back to normal.”
“I kindly refuse...” you muttered formally, not breaking eye-contact with Lucifer. His eyes had captured you again, like they had before –it was just so damn hard not to look at them. You clearly saw some kind of sick amusement in them, but it was so subtle some people would mistake it for kindness. You, on the other hand, knew this meant trouble for you.
“Now don’t me childish, (Y/n),” said Brain, “Nick is our best mentor, he’s helped several people back on their feet after the most traumatic experiences! At least give him a chance.”
You glared at Brian and stood up rather quickly, causing your chair to collapse on itself behind you, “I said no!”
They watched unmoving as you stormed out the front door, feet stomping with anger. “I’m sorry, Nick, I don’t know what got into her,” Brian apologized, patting the other man on the back lightly.
“It’s okay,” Lucifer gave Brian a reassuring smile, “I’ll talk to her. I’m sure she’ll warm up to me.”
Once outside, the sound of your shoes tapping against the pavement somehow encouraged you to walk even faster. You found yourself constantly glancing back to see if you weren’t being followed. Was someone playing some kind of sick game with you? This wasn’t fair! This was all one big game of his, wasn’t it?
You turned a corner, and just as you looked back one last time to see if he wasn’t there, you bumped into him. “Hello, dear. Where are you going?”
A lump manifested itself in your throat. You sat across from the man that had offered you a new life, in a public diner, wanting nothing more than to burst out into tears. You didn’t know what had gotten into you –seeing the goddamn devil just made you a little emotional. “What are you doing here?” you asked, voice cracking slightly under the pressure of the moment.
“Making sure I made a good investment in letting you live, of course. Well, among other things...” So this was the catch. He was never going to leave you alone, was he? Lucifer smiled a little at your confused state and sipped his coffee. “I still don’t understand why humans like this drink so much...but it seems like the appropriate thing to do in this kind of situation, don’t you agree?” Lucifer said, pointing at your own, untouched mug on the table.
Nodding, you hesitantly reached for it and took a sip. You rubbed the cup between your palms slightly, feeling sick with anxiety. “This is all one big game to you, isn’t it?”
Almost sounding offended, Lucifer scoffed and waved his hand dismissively. “Game? I see it more as an experiment.”
You exhaled through your nose and shifted slightly, trying to put what the hell was going on in a better perspective, “Okay...experiment, right. You mention before you were here because of me ‘among other things’, what did you mean by that?”
“That’s a story for an other time. I want to talk about you, now.” Lucifer leaned forward and put his elbows on the table for support, “How bad are your nightmares?”
Instantly, you cast your eyes downwards, gulping down a gasp. “How do you know about my nightmares?” you said, almost like a whisper. Your caution caused him to chuckle –his laugh sending your head into a spin.
“I’m the angel on your shoulder, dear, I know every little thing about you.” You noticed how Lucifer’s entertained gaze traced from your eyes, down your face, to your neck –there it rested until you found out what he was implying.
You reached inside your blouse, pulling out the rosary you’d taken from the old man back in The Crypt. It had been around your neck ever since you’d been freed –you didn’t know why, but it felt good to keep it around...but know that you came to think about it, it was also the source of your restless nights.
Casually Lucifer leant into his hand and smiled. “Is it me or is that thing giving you the creeps?” he asked, with a tone that told you he already knew the answer to that question.
He took your silence as a ‘yes’ and continued: “Look, I saved your life, didn’t I? I want to make sure you actually live it. We start, by getting rid of this!” He snatched the rosary from your neck and put it in his chest pocket, padding it down as if to show you it would be kept safe with him.
A slow, whimpering breath left your lips before you got up, digging into your pocket for change. “Just leave me alone,” you said, slamming down whatever money you had found on the table. Then you left him there all alone, heading home for a long shower and an evening of depressing TV shows.
On your way home, you simply couldn’t shake this odd feeling. It felt like you had been holding your breath for the longest time, while actually there was nothing wrong with you or your surroundings. The sky was still as blue at it had always been, the construction workers on the corner were just as loud as ever, and the old lady on the ladder cleaning her window was still as nice as when you’d first seen her. But still you felt like you were running out of air.
You gazed up at the sky, trying to let it open your airways so you could breathe again, but it didn’t help. You were breathing, just not getting the same relief. For a brief moment, you closed your eyes and tried to get a hold of the past situation.
A bucket off water came falling down from the ladder on which the old lady stood: and it was coming straight for you. It all happened so fast, you only had time to cringe and prepare for impact. Just when you were sure it was about to hit you, you heard a splash and saw it crash down beside you. Strong arms had themselves wrapped around you, a chest pressing into your face. Someone was holding you in a very tight grip, looking up to your saviour, your heart jumped in surprise.
Be damned. Lucifer.
The woman climbed down from her ladder and rushed over to you to see if you were alright. She nearly smothered you with concern: “Good Lord, dearie! Are you alright?” she asked, pulling you from Lucifer’s grip slightly to check on you. When she saw you were unharmed she sighed in relief, “Thank Heavens! You have an angel watching over you, girl! This could have been nasty.”
Lucifer licked his lower lip and smiled innocently at the woman, putting a claiming arm around your shoulder, “She sure does! She was very lucky I have quick reflexes!” he said, rubbing down your arm gently. Such formal touches were very inappropriate, coming from anyone –coming from this man, they made you freeze on the spot.
“Indeed she was, fella’! You’re a very lucky lady!”
“I...” you started doubtfully, freeing yourself from Lucifer’s hold. Your eyes shifted between the old lady and your supposed guardian angel, uncomfortably trying to figure out what they expected you to say. “I...I suppose I am, thank you. I’ll be going now.”
From that point, you went straight home, not looking back once.
Once home, you immediately went for the bathroom, losing various articles of clothing on the way. First you turned on the water and let it run for a bit so it could warm up, then you carefully stepped into the shower, closing the curtains.
As the water hit your back, you pushed aside your hair and leaned back, allowing it to completely drench you. It was time to wash and rinse the body! The lavender scented body wash gave off a gentle odour that had a very therapeutic effect. It encouraged you to stay just a little longer.
A good twenty minutes later, you still weren’t ready to get out and get comfortable on the couch. You’d started pondering about what had happened earlier. Now leaning against the tiled shower wall, it was all you could think about. You’d tried to change the subject with yourself, but you always found yourself asking questions about Lucifer and his little experiment. All you wanted was just forget and to be able to breathe again. Was that too much to ask?
“Well, if you would just accept my help, you’d reach that goal a lot quicker.”
You jumped, your hand unwillingly slapping the tab shut and drawing back the shower curtain. There, leaning against your sink, was Lucifer: a smug smirk adorning his lips. You clutched the curtain against your body tightly and glared at your unwanted guest. Did he just...answer your thoughts?
“What? The door was open, I let myself in.” Lucifer uncrossed his arms and held out a towel for you. “You’re done showering.”
“I think I’ll decide whe-"
He wagged his finger and moved closer to the shower, “Ah-ah-ah! Who do you owe your life too, dear?” Lucifer asked shaking the towel, pressing you to take it. “I’m not going to wait all day.”
Hesitantly, you took the towel and stepped from the shower –your back facing Lucifer so you could wrap it around you in peace. The hot steam inside the bathroom was still lightly scented with lavender, you noted. Very pleasant –it was probably the only pleasant thing you’d come in contact with tonight.
Glancing over your shoulder, you saw Lucifer’s eyes fixate on a single droplet of water running down your leg. His gaze followed the trace down delicate skin closely, until it hit the ground, then it shot up and met with yours.
His eyes were filled with something strange: you didn’t know what it was, but decided you didn’t like it. “Don’t look at me like that,” you said rather demandingly, a mean glare manifesting on your face.
“I’ll look at you however I see fit.”
The heat of the room was either becoming too much for you, or the sudden realization that the devil was in your bathroom had finally gotten through to you. It felt like your legs were about to give way when, suddenly, his hand dragged across your back to rest on your shoulder. “Come,” Lucifer said, opening the door to your living room and guiding you into it.
Taking your hand, Lucifer led the way to a chair. Once you’d reached it, he stood behind you, pressing down on your shoulders to make you sit down. Somehow, you felt compelled to do as he said, and sat awkwardly while his grip on you remained. His fingers began to rub circles into your shoulder blades, strangely calming you. “Come now, (Y/n), you really need to relax! Do you really think I’m going to hurt you?”
“You wouldn’t have saved me if you were planning on killing me, right?”
Your shoulders protested when Lucifer gripped them tighter and leaned on them, closer to your ear. He chuckled. “Oh, clever girl!” Slowly, his hands draped down from your shoulders to your arms and back up. “I’ve got some great news, even. I’m going to take our relationship to a new level...I’m moving in, dear!”
SEE YOU IN THE NEXT CHAPTER