A/N: This chapter is extremely short, on my word processor it was just over a page. This is for a reason! I promise, most chapters WILL NOT be this short. This particular chapter and the following two are an introduction, a prologue of sorts. For this reason, all three will be shorter than normal. Please enjoy, this story is my baby.
The door shut, creating an echo that broke the silence as it ran between the floor and low ceiling, another reminder of how late it really was. The car beeped behind her as she locked the doors, her feet carrying her half way to the building door. She crossed the guard by the door, who had his usual crossword puzzle in hand. Originally, much too long ago for her to remember when, he would have unsuccessfully tried to hide the game for the sake of appearances; after all, he was supposed to be looking after the building's cars during the late hours of the night. That had stopped many nights ago, as soon as she became a common sight when returning home in the early hours of the morning, the game of lies between the two had ended. For she was a player of their game too. She had also pretended to be doing something she wasn't, her lies a blatant cover for her late night activity. She had long ago run out of lies and him of interest, now she just nodded a greeting and he tipped his own head in reply. The interchange was automatic, a similar version of the same scene happening every time she returned home during his shift. All of her actions were automatic, actually. Rote was leading her from her car, through the building door and into the building's elevator.
The elevator, a simple white box with a mirror opposing the doors and the number pad and display-screen beside them, rocked slightly and hummed as it climbed. She waited with a mounting impatience for the elevator to reach its stop and let her out, while that familiar darkness threatened to consume her. Finally, the elevator stopped in the twelfth floor and opened to the very centre of a hallway. This floor held four apartments, two on each side of the short hallway she found herself in. She turned left and walked towards apartments 12 C and 12 D, one immediately in front of the other. When she reached them, though, she hesitated. She looked from door to door, keys in hand and undecided. She could still feel the darkness, though, and that cold death was gaining ground on her weak defenses, that was the defining factor. Pocketing her keys, she turned towards 12 C and rang the doorbell.
After an impossibly long couple of minutes, she felt movement behind the door before it opened to reveal a young man, Michael. He had curly, golden hair that was messily covering his head and a lean body, slightly visible through his plain, gray tee-shirt and boxers. He blinked hazel eyes a few times to drive the sleepiness away as he stared down at her from an approximate height of six feet. As soon as his vision cleared, he focused on her face, studying her with scrutiny. She tried to keep her inner turmoil from showing, but he must have seen through her façade because with a soft and reassuring smile, he moved aside to let her in.
His apartment was simply decorated and kept clean, some furniture was visible in the living room, surrounding a big screen T.V., and though the other side of the apartment was dark, she knew that on the kitchen counter was the ever-present basket of fruits. She hung her leather jacket and purse by the door and followed her neighbour deeper into his apartment. Half way across the living room, her clothes started coming off. By the time they reached his bedroom, their movements were already clumsy and hurried as they fought with the last articles of clothing.
An hour later she was zipping up her jeans and running her hands through her hair while looking for her shirt, which she knew had been dropped somewhere by the door.
"Victoria," Michael called behind her.
She turned and watched him expectantly. He looked at her for a second and then changed his mind, choosing to keep quiet. He shook his head and then smiled a little. Victoria merely shrugged as she turned around and continued to look for her clothes. A few minutes later she was crossing the hallway and walking into her apartment.
The darkness within her had been pushed back for the time being.