Alex went back to the hotel in slow pace. It was pointless to rush because he was sure she had gone to the disco with the others. Dancing, laughing and having fun with her lovely "friends". Weird… That thought terrified him. What if Jimmy has decided to do something about his proposal? Perhaps Lucy wouldn't be able to take the loneliness any longer and would accept it even if she didn't love him.

The building seemed empty, hollow and a bit apprehensive… just as he felt now. She was gone… and all he could do was to talk to her tomorrow. What if it would be too late? Maybe he'd better go looking for her and tell her that everything has changed. But how was it possible to know where the rest of the class was?

Even if he knew… Revealing your soul when you are so used to hide your feelings and not talk about important things was difficult. Alex would feel embarrassed during his confession even at the quietest place in the world, just looking at her eyes. Doing that at a place where the people are hustling, the music is pestilential and there is always possibility to be interrupted seemed absurd.

He had never been so nervous in his life. Perhaps that was because for first time in years facing up life was essential.

What if he was wrong and being with her would be a mistake?

What if she wore such a good mask that was hiding her real nature?

"Yes, your very existence consist of an endless chain of "what ifs"? Come on, Alex, I thought you had started acting like a grownup. Don't you hesitate just now! You are so close! You only need to reach out and you'll have what you want. But first you'll have to deal with all demons in your disordered mind. Every beautiful thing is difficult. In other way how would you appreciate it?"

It sounded so right, so comforting but the doubts were still eating him. The things could go wrong…

His thoughts were getting darker as he was walking down the corridor until a glimpse of light attracted his attention. It was very faint but Alex managed to trace it. It was coming from someone's room. Lucy's room, more exactly. She had stayed there for the night!

The feelings in his heart got twice more confused than before. What would happen if he just walked in? The door was half opened and it was very quiet inside. Maybe she was sleeping? Or she had forgotten to switch off the lights?

"Or may be she had lost her wish to talk to me…" The fear began grinning and strangling him with its invisible but strong hands. Cold sweat covered his forehead and his hand shook vigorously while he was pushing the handle.

OK. Now or never! I'll tell her how I feel and she is free to accept me or reject me as I did. But I wouldn't blame her if she chooses the second option."

Lucy was lying on the bed and the long unruly hair was covering her face so he couldn't see if she was sleeping or not. But it was clear that she looked wrecked, almost as a victim of an assault. The jeans and T-shirt she was wearing were shabby. The girl had pressed a pillow to her belly as if suffering from severe stomachache. Her bare foots were resting lifelessly on the sheets.

Is that what I did to her with my attitude? She needs my help just as much as I need hers.

It was unnatural to see her that way. Lucy Kane always was so strong, even during that scene in the forest she managed to keep her dignity as much as that was possible. And in that moment she seemed… shrunk and exhausted.

That had to be changed. He had a lot to make up for and wanted to start then.

Alex crouched to her and tossed back the tresses that were hiding her from his look. Now he could hear her quiet irregular breathing, and look at her closely: the pale but puffy skin, the dark eyelashes and hollow cheeks. Hot tears started burning his sides. It wasn't supposed to happen to her.

He had no right to be here, to mess up even more in her life.

Then she raised her hands up sharply and pushed his fingers away. Lucy jolted up and screamed with terror and pain as if she was wounded lethally.

"NO! LET ME GO! GET AWAY! GET OFF ME!" Her eyes had completely lost their color and they seemed as two black long tunnels ending in a land of nightmares. Every cell in her body was rocking in convulsions. The red of her lips had faded away as if all blood had been sucked out of there.

But the screams didn't wear off and the girl's voice kept on vibrating with terror. He was stunned by that view and didn't know how to react.

"Come on, use your brain. She is still in some twisted dream of hers and you have to wake her up. Now!"

Alex didn't need to be urged more by his inner voice. In the next minute, before he could realize, he grabbed her by the shoulders and started shaking her violently. It didn't help a lot, that's why he called her with loud voice, hoping that this would tear apart the fog around her.

"Lucy! Lucy, come back! You are having a nightmare. Come on… Wake up, darling." He vaguely noticed he was saying her name aloud for first time.

She was still at the same state but now her screams turned into flood of tears slipping out of her eyes. "No, no…" Lucy was crying desperately while he was pressing her towards him quite hesitatingly. The young woman started fighting but his grip was too strong.

"Wake up, Lucy… It's just a dream, just a dream. You are safe now." Alex kept on holding her and then her struggle faded. But her tears and hiccups didn't stop as she was trying to explain herself.

"I… I'm sorry… I can't stop it… I always have these horrible… d… dreams. I hate it… but… I can't help it. Oh… I thought they would stop coming after all is over…" Her words didn't make sense but he didn't try to cross her. It would be unreasonable.

"But they are still here… I can't chase them away…"

"This is just a dream, darling." He kissed her forehead, overwhelmed with what happened. "Dreams can't hurt you."

"You only think so…" She whispered in a hollow voice. The whole situation was so unreal… He was holding her and giving her comfort for whatever had happened to her. Damn, how come that he, Alex Lawrence, the Ice King, had changed so much that… There was something more essential. She needed him… more badly than they both realized.

"They won't bring you harm… not as long as I'm here." "Oh, hell, that was the most stupid thing I've ever said. I have turned in the stupid Knight in Shining Armors, entertaining his lady. Great!" "Oh, shut up! You don't want to spoil everything just now, do you?" "You are safe…"

But that didn't seem to be enough for forgiveness. Lucy raised up her head and stared at him with surprise and shock, as if she had just realized whom she had been talking to. There was something else in her gaze: fury, loath and pure hatred. It was not that easy to forget everything she had to go through just because of His Infernal Majesty. All that pain… and here he was now… to mock at her… to humiliate her… no, that was more than she could stand. Her demons shouted as she pulled away and glared at him.

"What are you doing here at all?!" Lucy looked quite frightening that way, with scattered hair, puffy eyes full of black fire and feverishly shaking hands. "Why have you come to me at all? You want to tear apart the last piece of life that had remained in me, right!"

"No, Lucy… That's not true…" His words sounded so absurd that he himself could hardly believe in them. They weren't bringing her any comfort and couldn't explain his attitude. "I came to… tell you… I'm sorry… for everything."

"Well, you already told me!" She snapped at him with spite and pointed the door with fragile index finger. "Now you can go. I regret the very day I met you. Don't ruin what I have left. Go away!"


"There is no "but"! I want you out of here! I hate you!"

Alex was startled. He felt mad at her accusations; how could she blame him like that? On the other hand, she had every right to do that. And may be it would be best if he really let her be. His presence was only giving her pain. "But I can't do that! I'm here to make up the things I've done to her. I won't leave until she listens to me."

He moved next to her and touched her shoulder.

"No, Lucy, you aren't going to get away with that so easily." Damn, how could he say something so dumb?!

She yelled, threw herself at him and attacked him with series of weak fists. The girl hadn't stopped crying but now her whining grew louder and they were seethed with anger and pain. He couldn't do something more than grabbing her by the waist and trying to make her look at him.

Then Lucy lost will to fight and just fell in his arms. She was ashamed of this but all her strength had left her. Alex embraced her and didn't say a word.

"Why?!" She was barely able to ask through her hiccups. "Why do you hate me so much? What have I done to you? I have never hated you… But you do… I feel that… Even now you hate me… why, why?"

"I DON'T HATE YOU!" He shouted, surprised with himself. His voice was fulfilled with so much sincerity that it struck both them. In that minute all the words he had needed to say from the very beginning. It was high time to tell her. "I have never hated you. I… I've wanted to confide in you for so long time… but there were a lot of things that stopped me. I had so many excuses… childish fears, past mistakes, silent dignity and foolish pride… Now I realize how stupid it was of me to give up on you. I have never felt that way for anyone… and I was about to lose you because of all this… Hell… I'm sorry… I really am…"

Lucy had stopped crying. Her eyes were still beaming with tears but she had regained her composure. She looked at him with surprise, hope and… anxiousness. The girl raised her hands and moved them towards his shoulders. Her fingers brushed his cheek slightly… with fear it was all an illusion. She'd been dreaming for this for so long…

"Go on… Tell me."

"Hell, Lucy, I love you. I know I wasn't showing it in the best way but I…"

She crossed him sharply by sealing her lips towards his. That simple action shocked him so much that he couldn't move. Their first kiss was rush, fast and they didn't have time to enjoy it. No one of them was very skilful at this. But in the same time that was one of their most beautiful experiences. That was the kiss of shared tears, pain and tragedy.

Slowly he gained some confidence and wrapped his hands around her more tightly.

Nothing both of them had experienced could be compared to this… As if the world had faded away like some distant and absurd reality and they were held as captures of boiling fire… and madness. For a moment they completely lost touch with everything around.

And for first time in their life they felt like dying of happiness.

Lucy broke off the kiss and stared at him with shining eyes, still panting and unable to control herself. Her thin fingers wrapped around his elbows were shaking with the strong emotions.

"Please, say that again… I can't believe…"

"I love you." He held her and closed his eyes. "Can you forgive me that I've been such an idiot? Have you lost your feelings for me?" Alex knew what she would say but he still needed to hear this. "Can you accept me now? I'll do anything…"

"Shut up…" She whispered with smile and pressed her body towards him. "What took you so long? I already thought you would never say this… I love you too and I have never stopped. I doubt something could change that. Just don't do that again."

"Never." He bowed his head and kissed her forehead softly. "I promise; I'll never bring you harm like this."

Then the new couple fell in silence. Alex had no idea what to say or do; he was still quite inexperienced in that matter. Yet it felt so good and somehow scary just to hold that frail frame… Maybe it was time to enjoy these sweet private moments he had never had…

But Lucy had something else on her mind. She released herself of his grip and went to the wall to turn off the lights. Then she came back to him and took his hand. He couldn't see clearly her features but the intensity in the air struck him as ice wind. What had happened? Had he done something wrong again?

The girl finally found strength to speak and that cleared his doubts.

"Please, lie next to me…" She pulled him next to her and wrapped her hands around his neck. "I need you…"

Still insecure about her intentions Alex let his body rest on the soft cover. She followed him and cuddled as a little child. His heart was about to burst out of anxiousness. He had no idea what was about to happen and truly hoped it wouldn't be what he thought. It wouldn't be right… He wasn't ready… It seemed almost as a… rape…

Besides it's been such a long time…

"I… I want to tell you something." She said after some minutes of silence. "I haven't talked about it for very long time and now… it is just the perfect moment. I truly need to tell you because in other way I would never be able to get rid of my past. Do you remember what I told you there… in the forest." Lucy looked up at him. In the darkness her eyes looked distant as planets at the outer space.

Alex nodded quietly… Yes… her personal tragedy… the reason for her constant sadness. He had often thought over it in the last few weeks but couldn't find an explanation. Now he had the chance to hear her story… The very thought that she trusted in him so much and was ready to reveal something that intimate sent shivers down his spine.

"It happened while we were still living in New York. The end of the school year was coming and I needed to prepare myself very well for the finals. Besides that I was making a very important research so I used to spend a lot of time in the library. Sometimes I was staying very late and my father had to pick me up. But in that evening no one was able to come so I decided I was old enough to walk home on my own. It's been a long day and I was very tired…" She sighed and bit her lips but kept on with her tale. "I was so tired that everything around me seemed as if I was dreaming. I even didn't see the man on the next table. Later I recalled his face and the lust he was staring at me. But it was too late. I hadn't paid him enough attention while I was leaving.

The night was cool and refreshing. Anyway, I couldn't wait to go home. The streets were quite packed and I had no reason to suspect what was going to happen. We used to live in a remote street, next to a park. The area was supposed to be safe… Just as I was turning the corner someone from the bushes grabbed me and jumped down on my throat in order not to scream. I tried to hit him but he was much stronger than me and obviously my attempts weren't bothering him at all. I think that gave him pleasure…" She bit her lips and he realized Lucy was on the verge of tears again. He put a finger under her chin and made her raise her head.

"You don't have to talk about this just now, darling. We've got the whole time in the world. I see it's very painful for you to tell me this."

"No… I have to do this." Her eyes moistened. "I've been carrying that burden for so long that I already can't bear it. It's too much for me. Please, let me finish…"

"OK…" He pressed her more tightly again. Obviously she would need some support in the next stage of her tale.

"He was moaning quietly with pleasure and was grumbling some nonsense under his breath. I couldn't think, I couldn't react, I even couldn't shout for help. I was completely under his control… He could do whatever he wanted with me…

Then I realized that the man had put a cloth at my face. It smelled awfully like some heavy drug or strong alcohol. My mind faded away and everything around me started spinning. I felt absolutely clear how I was losing consciousness. Then… the world went black.

When Lucy woke up she was lying on a bed, fully naked. Her hands and legs were tied so she couldn't move. Her throat felt very soar and she couldn't breath properly. The room was dark and she didn't manage to pick out any outlines beyond herself. Then a door was opened and a man entered there. Probably it was the same man who had kidnapped her. Bloody hell, he was disgusting! His face was soaked with loathing lust, sweat and the smile telling "I've got you and you can't run away."

The stranger was a little plump and dressed in some black leather clothes, covered with iron spikes. The type of clothes BDSM fans were wearing. There was a whip of animal skin in his hand. Her heart stopped beating of horror. She wasn't experienced at lovemaking at all. And this one here definitely didn't want lovemaking, he wanted even something more than sex… He wanted to use her as an object of his perverted desires, to turn her in his whore, a toilet, a slave… He was going to hurt her and probably even kill her. Lucy realized that in the minute their eyes met. Once she had read a confession of a girl who had been raped that way and the horrible details fulfilled her mind. The soon-to-be victim couldn't hide her fear and that turned the bastard on. He started laughing as if he was insane. And he really was. "Oh, no, no… May I wake up! May I just realize I'm not here. It's just a dream… a nightmare. Help!" She was screaming inside but her voice was frozen.

"I… I…" She stammered with efforts and cursed herself for being so weak. "I'm not going to let you… do this… to me…"

The man's sides started hurting from his rude laughter.

"You can't choose, little slut. You'll soon love what I'm going to do to you. You'll beg me for more. Do you hear me, whore!"

"I'm not a whore!" She screamed and felt how the anger started replacing the fear. "I'm not your possession! Let me go right now unless you don't want to pay for that!"

That was her big mistake. Obviously he wasn't going to put up with such a behavior any longer. The man proved that with his next actions. He raised his hands and lashed her so violently that she yelled with pain. The contact of the rude material with her exposed skin was the most terrible ache in her life. Tears started rolling down her cheeks as the man came closer to her and grabbed her breasts with both hands. He dug his nails in them to the point of bleeding. She couldn't keep her screams.

"I'll have to work on you, little bitch. You'll learn how to obey your master! I'm patient. We have all the time we need. First lesson, never scream! For every scream you'll get an additional whip." With these words he lashed her one more time and laughed rudely. "You'll learn it. Everyone learns that sooner or later."

Then he jumped on her and penetrated between her spread tied legs. Lucy knew that the first time hurts but she had never suspected it was like that. Probably he had used some iron device to make the defloration faster because she thought something completely torn her apart.

While rocking on the top of her he was whipping her until her breasts and face were covered with terrible scars and she slowly fell unconscious. Slightly before the soft darkness covered her sight she felt a heavy fist connecting with her head and some ice water.

"You won't get away with it that easily, whore! Now you have to give me pleasure. In other way I'll slice your cute little mouth."

Lucy had never been that vulnerable, hurt and humiliated in all her life. The things he forced her to do… The pain, the dizziness… She really wanted to die.

The girl had no idea how long the rape had lasted. It seemed to her as a century but probably it went on for only two hours. When it ended the man released her but she was barely able to walk. He kicked her once to make her stand but obviously noticed her state. The rapist took her fragile shaking body and went out of the room. He walked down a dark hall. Then she closed her eyes and rested in his arms, unable to fight any longer. Thanks God it was over! Probably he would throw her away. Someone would find her and take her to hospital. Talk to her parents.

"Mom, where are you?" She thought faintly.

Everything would be all right…

How wrong she was!

A loud thud woke her up. Her own body had fallen on some dirty floor. The place they were in smelled like sweat, blood and bodies. Where was she? Perhaps she had died and that was the Hell?

"Take her to the doctor. Make sure he'll fix her. I don't want her to die too soon." The loud rude voice interrupted her desperate thoughts. "We'll spend a great time together with that little lady."

How right he was!

She couldn't keep her emotions anymore and burst in tears. Alex was prepared for that. He rested his elbow on the pillow and started rocking her to sleep and whispering nonsense in her ear. Her body shivered in terrible convulsion. The youth was shaken by her story. And it was only the beginning. What else had she been through?

The anger flooded him as a red river. Who the hell could do this to the most wonderful person he had ever met? Someone had to pay for that!

"I thought they were going to let me go." She went on after some time of crying. "They kept me there for a week. The longest week of my life, full of pain and horror. Have you ever heard of hell? I've been there… They were animals, some sect consisting of sexual maniacs who adored making their victims suffer and to humiliate them… Real sadists… In the day I was packed in one dirty room with other girls. Some of them had been there earlier than me and were in much worse state… For these days we were together we got as close as sisters.

After some time one of us would be called and absent for some time. She would usually come back hours later completely wrecked. The methods they used… Well, cruel is too mild word to describe them. I… I can't and I shouldn't tell what exactly… I'll only tell you that once they were finished with me every bit of me was bleeding, every cell of me hurt like hell, most of my bones were broken… I was all… c… covered with dirt and their… excrements. I… I don't know how I survived. But not all of us did so… " Now her sobs grew that desperate that she was unable to talk. For a moment Alex got scared that she was losing her common sense. But all he could do was to keep on holding her, to caress her hair and talk to her in comforting manner.

"Shh, relax, Lucy…" His words were quite absurd considering what she was telling him. "It is all over. No one… no one is going to do that to you again. Don't torture yourself. It's all right. It's all right."

She kept on trying to talk but all that was coming out of her throat were desperate sobs and stammering.

"T… there was one… girl… she… she… was… m… my b… best f… friend there… so… f… fragile… I-it was impossible f… for… h-h-h… her… to… g… get over t… this… One evening she came back… and this t-t-time I k-k-knew w-what w-was going to h-happen… s-s-she was… d-d-dying… I… j-just h-hugged her a-and I… I… s-she just died there i-in my arms… I f-felt h-her last b-breath on my skin… oh, Alex, that was…"

"Stop… Stop… I'm sorry for all this. I'm sorry that these things had to happen to someone like you. You don't deserve this… I'm sorry I was acting that way before. If I only knew…" Her head rested on his chest as she was slowly regaining composure. The hiccups had gone quiet and the tears had stopped. He sighed with relief.

"On the seventh day they were caught. That was the day of our salvation. We were all released and sent to the hospital straightaway. All the victims were in a terrible state. I myself was covered with scars." She took his hand and slid it under her T-shirt. Alex felt the curve of something that seemed like a wound. "This is the one no plastic surgery could remove. But there were girls who suffered a lot more than me. Shelly was so badly injured that she couldn't have children anymore. Mallory's face was completely disfigured in such way that she will never look normal. It could be said I had gotten away with it lightly. The mental scars are something even worse. We were all trying to get over that nightmare and couldn't find more appropriate way than healing each other. I've never had closer friends than these girls in the months we spent in the same clinics. We were all together and that was that mattered. Some of us really found strengths to fight the life and try again. I thought I was one of them." She was talking quietly and with unnatural calmness. "But obviously I'm not. I still got these nightmares. Everything in my life is such a mess."

"No!" He forced her to look up. "Didn't you hear even a single word I said. The things are different now. I'll do my best to take care of you. I know I haven't proved that but I love you and I can make you happy. I know it's not that easy to forget about that nightmare but whatever it happens I'll help you. I swear."

She smiled weakly.

"You have no idea how long I've been waiting to hear that."

"You have no idea how long I was trying to muster courage to say that." He made a pause, rubbed her tears and kissed her lips tenderly one more time. When they broke off he asked her with concern. "Do you feel better now?"

"Yes…" The smile wasn't leaving her face though her eyes were closed. "But I'm so tired."

"Rest then. It's been a very long and hard day for you. Get a good sleep now, you'll need all your strength." He was about to get up when she crossed him.

"Please, stay with me that night."

"Are you sure this would be reasonable?" Alex pointed at the other bed.

"Oh…" She waved carelessly. "There is no need to worry. Dianne won't turn up until tomorrow. Don't leave just now… I'm afraid…"

"Ok… Ok…" He sighed with gratitude, leant back on the bed and then embraced her one more time and kissed her face. He could feel her smile on his lips. "I'll never leave you, not as long as I'm breathing."

"I know…" With these last words her head drooped on his chest and she fell asleep. For first time in months she was calm in her dreams.

Author's Note: I know no one is reading that. I think I'll start have doubts in the quality of that story and I might have it removed. I hope the story isn't such a total cliché. So, please, if at least one person reads that, review it… even if it's just one line saying "That sucks, remove it!"