*Trigger warnings apply. Violence and sexual assault.*
She turned. His blue eyes had that look in them. Momentarily she tensed, but shot him a smile and bounded over to him nonetheless.
She was his imaginary friend, it was her duty to come when he called. Besides, he would never hurt her, not really. He couldn't hurt her…except in play, perhaps, but not likely even then.
She wasn't real. It wasn’t possible.
Still…it worried her from time to time. Especially when he had that look.
The young billionaire lounged on the Underground stage central to the room and tossed his head to try and flick the hair from his eyes…or to draw attention to its boyish charm. It amused her how easily he seemed to manipulate others, herself included, by playing both charming and boyish at exactly the right moments. Far from being annoyed at her weaknesses to his whims, she was proud of him for being so very good at it...at least usually.
Lately he had been acting strangely, trying to touch her in ways she didn't trust. And then there was the way he’d attacked Asinoe earlier that night with his silly letter opener and won Lyra the bet with Dorian...not that Dorian would admit that she’d been right.
-I bet he hits her before that conversation is over...-
They hadn't quite settled the matter. Others had broken up the attack, and someone had reminded her that non-imaginary people could die if stabbed with a letter opener, so they’d stopped arguing about it.
Yes, lately her creator had been not entirely himself. Ever since Bella had started being extra nice to her…since Belladonna had disappeared. So much had been happening...changing…
"Come lay down with me. Keep me company," he almost purred, patting the pile of pillows on hard wood beneath him with a sharp slap. Lyra smiled carefully and edged closer, arranging herself modestly on the cushions beside him…and letting out a started squeak as Jasper grabbed her about the waist and dragged her closer.
Around the room, the odd spattering of people lingered, one or two glancing her way at her cry. She felt reassured. This was her home. Surely she was safe here…and with Jasper of all people.
Turning her attention to him, she began talking about the events of the evening - who said what clever thing to whom, which of the invitees had gone home with other members. She loved his parties, his friends and family. She loved his world.
"Oh, and you must talk to Dorian about verbal contracts, Jasper. He’s a slippery one, but I’m sure you can sort him out without having to resort to any more nonsense..."
"You're very pretty," he interrupted her, grinning that predatory smile she'd seen in brief, uncomfortable moments over the past few weeks.
"Well, you imagined me like this," she replied carefully. This sort of talk never ended well.
"Yes, that’s true. You are so very clever," he reached over and pushed her hair from her face, "You are my cleverest imaginary friend."
She laughed and pointed out, "I am your only imaginary friend…" her words trailing off as he began to run his hands down her chest, toying with the ebony buttons of her lace dress. Biting her lip, Lyra made a grab for them.
"I don't like it when you do that," she partially gasped.
"Why?” he smirked, “How does it make you feel?"
"It makes my stomach tingle. But I don't like it." She winced away from the question. Blue devilish eyes shone up at her.
"But I do. And you are my imaginary friend, aren't you?"
She nodded weakly.
“So it makes sense that you’d like what I like…right?”
Lost for a clever response, she relented with a nod and loosened her grip slowly. He smirked, letting his hands trace her frame leisurely, taking far too much delight in her mortified blush.
"You want me to be happy, don't you Lyra?" his lips grazed hers with the question before dipping to one side and licking her pale face. He chuckled when she gasped and murmured that she tasted sweet, his fingers tracing a line down to the hem of her dress and dipping underneath.
Her reaction was immediate. She scrambled to pull her dress down and sidle further away from him, her expression apologetic as she met cold blue eyes. He was having none of it, pulling away from her irritably.
"Fine, then,” he pouted, turning from her. He seemed almost insulted.
She was horrified.
"Jasper? Jasper please. I’m sorry…” a hand went to his arm when he ignored her, “You just…you just make me so nervous. I’m very sorry…please…”
"You don't sound sorry."
"I'm French, my heart - I rarely sound sincere..." she smiled thinly as she spoke, words she didn’t really understand falling too easily from her lips, her pale fingers curling over the shoulder of his black velvet jacket, "But I am...truly."
"Prove it." There was a clarity to his words that she wasn't used to, they were deliberate, planned.
"But how?" she spluttered, at a loss.
He shrugged her hand off his shoulder nonchalantly and turned away once more. They sat in tense silence as long seconds dragged by. Lyra bit her lip.
“You really want to make it up to me..?"
He turned back to her, finally, holding up a small square of white chocolate that he’d gotten from the Gods only knew where. He offered it to Lyra and she obediently ate it, though she felt he must still be angry with her, for he’d forced it into her mouth far too roughly. Usually he fed her bits of what he was eating just to be nice and to share…but this had hurt.
And then all at once he was pushing her backwards, laying her down on the stage and moving to sit on her unceremoniously.
"Fine. Make it up to me. Tell me a story, Lyra," he demanded, wielding a chocolate block at her as he winked. She looked at him doubtfully. This felt a bit more normal…he was straddling her and had food. This was a game...or at least she hoped it was. Something dark in his eyes made her unsure.
Still, he wanted a story, and she thought it best not to remind him about manners in this instance. She’d already upset him once.
Licking her lips and adjusting her body beneath him, she began.
"Once, long ago, there was a soldier on his way home from war, with nothing but three biscuits in his pocket and a song on his lips…"
"Louder," he said, his eyes glittering darkly, "I can't hear you." Lyra bit her lip again.
"A little way down the long road home he met a beggar with a flute, who played s...s...such a tu..."
"Open," he ordered before pushing more chocolate in her mouth, and then, "Keep going."
She struggled to swallow and went on.
"…such a tune that the solider was compelled to dance, but this dance was...”
He started undoing her buttons as she stammered out the story, flicking them painfully against her chest as he unbuttoned each one.
"That he felt...Jasper...I don't..." her hands moved to her chest but he slapped them sharply away. She felt the hard press of chocolate against her lips as hot tears filled her eyes and her vision blurred.
"Open up," he said sharply, ignoring her feeble protest. The chocolate was shoved into her mouth again and he clamped a hand over it until she swallowed, pressing a hard kiss to her trembling lips moments later.
"Good girl," he breathed against her, “Keep going."
The tale fell out of her in stuttered and gasped sentences - the three beggars, the magic sack, the geese and their trade for a peaceful night at the inn. Jasper seemed to be only partially listening, delighting instead in stripping her dress from her an inch at a time, pinching her exposed nipples hard and smirking at her sobs. Lyra briefly wondered what had become of all the people around them, and why no one had come to stop him. Perhaps they had all left?
"Do you love me, Lyra?" Jasper almost taunted. She drew in a ragged breath.
"Of course. You made me. You are the only family I have in this whole world…" she didn’t like the way he grinned at her. It was nasty.
"I see. What if I imagined you another family?" he mused, raking his nails down her sides and laughing when she cried out.
"I…I don't w...want another family. I…have you."
Jasper shook his head, shifting to slide between her legs, running an absent finger along the line of her underwear.
"Oh, but I have the perfect family for you, Lyra…" he snapped the elastic of her panties, making a small cracking noise against her tense skin, "A beautiful but distant mother, a cruel father who delights in torturing children…and a little brother. Let's see...what shall we name them?"
She opened her mouth to protest but chocolate filled it so quickly she nearly choked, the pale hands she struggled to cover herself with easily pinned above her head moments later.
"Hmm, we need a mother’s name...Constance, perhaps? Yes…” he hooked a finger into her underwear and dragged it down, frowning theatrically as he pretended to be deep in thought, "And how about a father named…Armand?”
“…don’t…” she whispered, hot tears spilling over her cheeks. She felt suddenly nauseous. She didn’t like this game. She didn’t like what he was saying.
“And the boy...he needs a name too…" his eyes fixed on her, smart, clear, very conscious. For a brief moment she was caught in his stare and the maddest of thoughts danced through her mind.
That’s not Jasper.
She looked away, but he gripped her jaw so hard it hurt and turned her face, forcing her gaze back to his.
“What’s your brother’s name, Lyra?” he demanded. She shook her head and whimpered, then cried out as his hand clamped about her throat.
“…What is his name?"
"…Jacob," she replied, without volume or breath to the words, “Hi…his name is…Jacob.”
Slowly, the dreams she’d been having of late came to the surface…
…a classic beauty, sad looking, with hair the color of sand on a tropical beach set in perfect waves around her face. A stern faced man in a perfectly cut suit who wore a name and title like a winner’s laurel. The height of Parisian society...
...Lord and Lady Mon...
Her night terrors of dark tortures slid into grandiose dreams of golden gilt soirees, clinking glasses…sharpened knives. Tears welled in her eyes as memories of a blonde little boy - her brother, her heart – soon followed. The one she swore to protect from the day he was born til he died of old age.…the one she had given her life and her very understanding of existence up for.
She fought back a sob.
"Ah yes. Jacob. You told him stories too...didn't you Lyra?” Jasper sounded so angry. So cold.
“Wh…why are you doing this?”
“I bet that turned out so well for you, Monėre…"
His fingers slid inside her suddenly and painfully hard. A muffled cry escaped her, though whether it resulted from the assault or the memories he was evoking she couldn't be sure. Gritting her teeth, Lyra blinked the tears from her eyes, staring at the boy above her in horrified confusion.
This wasn't right. A Black wasn’t supposed to do this to her. No one was. She was a virgin and she was supposed to stay that way. And she was not to be bossed around like this. It was the rules…though she didn’t know whose rules or why.
Monėre’s don’t sleep with Blacks.
All she knew was that she missed Jasper as he used to be when they played. When they got drunk and laughed together. This person on top of her, this blue-eyed demon with his fingers moving roughly in and out…this wasn’t anyone she knew or cared to know.
“I imagine you want to finish the story, Lyra…” he crooned at her, smirking when she writhed and jerked beneath his touch.
That’s right…the story. She hadn’t finished it. Blinking back tears again, she swallowed and tried to ignore the pain and fear, and the memories pushing against her mind. She was his imaginary friend. She had to do what he wanted her to do. That’s why he’d created her.
"The solider woke up…well rested to…a fully cooked breakfast awaiting him. He opened the window and…breathed the air of a free man…and there on the horizon…was a towering castle that flew no…flags. He dressed and went…down to ask the inn keeper…about it...ugh…the…"
Jasper leaned over her, licking and then biting her inner thigh hard to see if she would squeal. She winced, but kept talking. This seemed to please him and his touch became gentler. Slightly.
" 'The castle is full of demons, Solider…none go near it,’ the innkeeper said, ‘Each night…they hold their wild revels and prey upon the town, stealing livestock…and children…’”
Jasper paused suddenly, lashes flickering ever so slightly as he listened to her words. After a moment his eyes widened, then narrowed.
“The soldier shook his head 'Well someone should do something about it!' The innkeeper sighed. 'An army tried, my good man. All that was left in the morning were bones and shadows.' But the solider swore black and blue that he would do something about the Devils in the castle at the top of the hill, and he set off up the path with his magic sack and his ruby whistle…" Lyra’s words trailed off as she realised that Jasper’s fingers were no longer inside her. He was sitting in silence between her legs, staring at her.
She blinked and didn’t move, afraid she would startle him back in to his very un-Jasper-like activities. Taking a deep breath, she went on, her tone low and even.
"The walk was longer than he had expected, and the Soldier had slept later than he realised, so it was that as he passed through the black stone gates in to the abandoned courtyard the sun set and plunged the castle into darkness..."
Slowly, carefully, she drew her hands from his grasp, watching him warily. He didn’t move, those intense blue eyes had glazed over and he seemed quite far away. Lyra sniffled, feeling slightly safer as she continued to weave her tale around them both.
"A strange and unearthly silence fell over the castle - the solider suspected that there would be more noise on the moon - until…" she gestured slightly, as if she saw and mimicked the Devils in flight, "Bat wings blackened the sky! Ungodly hoots and hollers filled the air as the creatures tumbled into view…clawing and grabbing at each other…"
Slowly, Jasper reached out to touch her face as she spoke. Lyra didn't wince or pull away. It was obvious something had shifted within him again. She closed her eyes as he moved off her, sliding down to lay beside her over the pillows, one of his previously rough hands carefully and almost delicately drawing her dress down to cover her thighs.
Lyra relaxed bit by bit, forcing her body to melt against him as she spoke. On her tale went…the solider challenged the Devil’s to a game of their choice with a pack of blessed cards as the King of the Underground - the man she had believed created her, who had been grievously assaulting her only moments ago – lay curled against her side, listening like a child, his face pressed upon her shoulder.
"Hand after hand they dealt and he won...though they cheated and swore. The more he won, the more they fumed...but it did them no good. At the first call of dawn fifty barrels of gold sat behind the soldier…he had taken all their wealth…he had beaten them…"
The pressure on her shoulder began to shake. Without a thought, Lyra reached out a tentative hand to brush his hair from his face. His eyes looked even bluer when he cried.
"It's ok, my heart. It’s ok…whatever it is, we’ll fix it..." she crooned, lifting his chin so he could see her. In the moment that their eyes locked…she forgave him everything.
"I....I’m..." he started, but his breathing was erratic, ragged. His whole body was shaking. Lyra looked at him sharply and sat up, drawing him to her.
"Breathe," she said, grabbing his hand and placing it on her chest so he could match her as she inhaled and exhaled deeply and evenly. The panic ripped through him, his free hand trembling as it sought out her cheek. His lips moved, but for the longest time he couldn’t speak.
"Lyra...Lyra…I couldn't save them…" he finally managed between wracking breaths. She shook her head and continued breathing clearly until he tried to calm himself, drawing his hand from her face and kissing his palm.
"Who, darling one?" she asked quietly.
"The children. The ones like us…”
Lyra felt something deep within her twist and crack, her jaw tightening as she stared into wide pools of blue.
“I...it was my...I was trying...how am I supposed to do this alone? How…can I possibly…" She hushed him as he lost his words to panic again, stroking his face, his brow, his lips.
"Well…I'll help you, of course. Please just breathe…Jasper."
"Promise me Lyra...”
“I promise…” He seemed to grow agitated, shaking his head vehemently as she tried to ease him onto his back, “Rest now…it’s been a long…very long night…”
“Promise me that you'll help me...we have to save them, Lyra…” he was clinging to her now, almost painfully tight. Slowly she drew his hand from her arm and returned it to her chest. He stared at her, his expression somewhere between terror and madness.
"Breathe, mon coeur. Of course I’ll help you. I’m your im…” words trailed off as that knife within twisted and held, her eyes filling with fresh tears as a lump rose in her throat, “I’m your friend, Jasper and..." she swallowed back the rush of memories, "I remember..."
Deep inside her mind, the Jackal stirred, whispering through her subconscious.
Not now. Soon.
Yes, this wasn’t the time to start thinking, to start processing and understanding. Now she had to help Jasper.
“I’m…Lyra…I’m…so…” his breath was slowing now, the rise and fall of his chest matching hers. His eyes were closed, his face nuzzled into her neck. Lyra’s forehead creased as she drew her arms around him, kissing his brow and breathing in the scent that was wholly and utterly Jasper.
"Shhh…rest…” she murmured, ignoring the twinge of throbbing pain that lingered as a reminder of where his hands had been. Looking down at him now, at the trembling and whimpering young man in her arms, it was hard to believe that he’d been the cause of such discomfort. He looked so afraid. So lost.
I’d give my life for you…I’ll protect you till the day you die of old age…
Pressing her cheek to his, Lyra stroked his hair reassuringly, listening as his breathing became more even and he succumbed to sleep.
“We’ll save the children from the towers," she whispered to him, "I’ll help you, little brother. I promise."
She turned. His blue eyes had that look in them. Momentarily she tensed, but shot him a smile and bounded over to him nonetheless.
Written by Luna Madness and Natalie Ristovski.
All characters and story lines remain the property of N.Ristovski and the Underground. All character writings within the Underground are fictitious. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2014. Natalie Ristovski.