Knowledge Pt. 1
TRIGGER WARNING|| THIS CHAPTER CONTAINS: SEXUAL ASSAULT
“Are you certain that you should leave tonight, Yuratchka? I kept you here later than I anticipated. I have extra room.”
“I’ll be fine, Lilia. I really should be heading out. You see me enough as it is, and I shouldn’t overstay my welcome. Besides, a 15 minute trip isn’t much of anything. I can manage.”
“You know you are welcome here, but if you insist. Just be cautious. With the snowfall and the dark, it does not supply a friendly combination.”
“I have the lights to guide me. See you tomorrow, Lilia!”
“Piss! It’s too fucking cold out here!”
I don’t know what else I would have expected while trekking through powder-lined streets. Although the sky held no sign of harsh weather, it was far too frigid of a night to be outside. I kept thinking ‘it could be worse’, and that alone was what got me moving.
When these streets beckon, it’s my calling to listen to them.
Through countless nights I’ve done this. I’ve found myself uncertain as to what it is I should be looking for out here. An escape? Someone to save me…?
No. If so, I would be searching for a lost cause. This battle is my burden to carry, and it will remain mine until further notice.
Discovering sanctuary in the contrast of kaleidoscope buildings and colourless snow does a fine job at taking my mind off everything else, though. St. Petersburg really would be a beautiful place, if I had beautiful memories to fill it with.
This is nothing like growing up in Moscow with Mom and Grandpa.
Prior to living here, that was where I called home - the rolling hillsides, vivid summer fields of green that stretched for miles; a large, open pond, lined in thick foliage of fuzzy cattails and thick reeds, with glossy, clean water that shined like glass come winter; and twisting dirt paths that I’ve traveled by foot more times than I could count.
Even though several years have passed, I could recall happier times, both for her and me.
My heart still resides there with Grandpa. This was only a reminder of what I used to have - what we could’ve kept if we had stayed. She was a dancer for Bolshoi. She was surrounded by family. As far as I knew, Mom was satisfied with the life we had; I’m trying to figure out what it was that changed so abruptly.
Well, so much for taking my mind off things.
The haze coming from the streetlights enveloped my vision, casting shadows with each crunching footprint I made. The ice smothered the surface of the water and painted the top of the glittering river; I followed in its wake. Rubbing my hands together, I shuddered, knowing all too well that the jacket cradled close against my body was far from keeping me warm in this midnight hour. I should have been used to this by now, but being near the canal makes it numbingly cold.
I would still rather be here than to head back just yet. To be honest, if it had not been for my own pursuits in ballet under Lilia’s instruction and tending to my mother’s problems, I would have no reason to stay at all.
However, let’s say that I was looking for a saving grace and a chance to leave. Taking all I've said into consideration, I could admit that I've buried myself within the crypt of my mother’s secrets. So deeply, in fact, that I cannot live my own life to a full extent. There will never be room to let anything else inside because once the truth was found, I would be left to sink deeper within.
Besides, I already promised I wouldn't leave my mom. I don't plan to break that promise anytime soon. As long as she’s here, I will remain.
Put simply, I’m never escaping this place; I’m fucked.
“Wanna fuck, gorgeous?”
...I definitely didn’t mean like that.
How could I have forgotten that predators are so disgustingly common this late and prey on whatever they can scavenge?
I definitely felt sorry for the person who-
“Didn't you hear me? I'll show you a good time, if you put out!”
He couldn't be fucking serious.
I glanced in the direction of the catcall and spotted the culprit. Sure enough, his sights were set on me. The bastard propped himself upon the wall of a nearby club, flashing a grin with a beckoning gesture. “Yeah, that's right. I’m ready to play with you for the evening.”
“Now, come on. Don’t be a tease.” This fucker was relentless, deciding to move from his perch and come a little closer. I was happy to offer him a small portion of my time to ’acknowledge his efforts’ and stop him in his tracks.
“Go fuck yourself, buddy. I said I'm not interested.” My disgust, well-evident, was punctuated with a scowl and a hoisted middle finger before continuing on my way.
Usually, these kinds of people didn't keep it up. They lurked about, yowling like cats in heat over the first thing that caught their attention, and then would retreat to the shadows from which they came, whether they were successful or not. More often than not they were intoxicated or desperate for a piece of ass - sometimes both. If they got lucky, they were gone to regret their decision in the morning.
It didn’t hit me until I felt the sharp yank of my braid balled in his fist that I knew I had done something I would regret instead.
“Don’t think I haven’t seen you before, shlyukha. You’ve taunted me each time I’ve caught you passing by, and tonight, I’m making you mine.”
“It's not my fault you have no self-control! You DO realize I'm not soliciting you, right?! I'm not even female!!!”
“Beggars can’t be choosers, now can they? Any boy who is just as pretty of a slut as any woman could be is close enough.” With the iron grip he held onto me with, it was easy for him to pull me along towards the nearest alley, dragging me backwards. Knowing then what he intended, the panic settled deep in my gut. I fought hard to break free, lashing in his grip and swinging about blindly.
“GET. THE FUCK. OFF ME, YOU SICK FUCK!!!” I yelled at the top of my lungs, but his hand clasped over my mouth in one fluid sweep and dug nails into my cheeks, effectively muffling anything else that tried to escape. With his other arm encircling my waist, he twisted until I had been roughly shoved to the surface of the building nearest to me. The grit of bricks rubbed my chest raw as my jacket was unzipped, my shirt violently torn from my torso - my upper half now unwillingly exposed to the elements.
“Shh. It will all be over soon,” he crooned into my ear, his rough, callused touch kneading along the small of my back and sending chills through me from this alone. I put up one hell of a struggle, biting at his hand and jerking in his grip as the pain searing through my scalp and the scraping of coarse clay along my chest brought tears to my eyes.
I could hear the satisfaction in his sigh as his palm cupped my ass and slid lower, leggings and underwear being next as he pulled them down my thighs. The biting cold stung at my flesh, and the scuffing didn’t cease. The friction burn only increased as what little remaining clothing I wore found itself around my knees.
It became increasingly difficult to fight back when my assailant was putting all his force into holding me down. I heard the clinking of a belt and the hiss of a zipper as my hips were angled further towards him.
When I cried out all the louder, two fingers were nudged inside my mouth, of which I bit in hopes he would relinquish. The air that managed to get into my lungs was thick and painful as I tried to breathe properly. By then, I could barely register the reality of what was happening; everything was moving so fast that the world seemed to spin.
“Keep biting. I can’t promise I won’t hurt you, but I promise I’ll make you enjoy it.”
I clamped my eyelids tight, another attempt suffocated by the digits trying to stuff themselves down my throat. I couldn't think straight. This wasn’t happening. This wasn’t happening.
S-stop touching me. Please...
“You might be shit at making promises, but I can make a promise of my own.”
The grip released in a matter of seconds as the man was pried off, gasping out for air as the fingers were torn from my mouth. Propping myself against the wall, I tried not to collapse under the trembling of my body; I didn’t dare look back, but the snap of a strike and a strangled yelp did well to assure me of what was happening.
Someone had found us.
“Nngh. Fuck. Can’t you see I was-”
“Not another word. If I see you lay a hand on anyone again, I will not hesitate to bury you into the ground with my own two hands. I do not consider myself a violent man, but I am not opposed to do what I must to keep an innocent person safe. Understood?”
“Ha! You wanna steal someone’s lay that badly? Keep the bitch!!! Not worth the trouble!”
“Get the hell out of here, or I will fulfill my promise sooner.”
The huffing and scuffling that followed were fair signs of the assailant’s retreat, leaving me and the newcomer in the alley alone. More dampness burned at the corners of my eyes, yet the only sound that could leave me was hoarse panting. The rampant pounding of my heart was barely beginning to calm when it spiked from a gentle squeeze upon my shoulder.
“Hey, are you alright?”
I whipped my head to look behind me. In place of the assailant stood a man who towered over me - one clad in leather, with sharp features that softened once his gaze caught mine.
“Are you alright?” He repeated, the question seeming out of place for someone like him. I held no doubt that this man could handle his own with ease - overpower someone like me.
“D-don’t. D-don’t...look,” I finally managed out of my daze, realizing just how naked I still was and lifting myself to full height.
“Sorry, sorry.” Surprisingly, he released his grip and averted his gaze. I shook as I reached for the material at my knees, covering the exposed flesh while lifting them with one upwards tug. He may have been gone, but I felt unclean. In addition, without a coat and shirt, I felt nearly frostbitten.
“T-Thank you. W-who are you? Where did you even come from?!” I turned to him for answers, waiting and skeptically hoping that he wasn’t an additional threatening presence.
“Otabek Altin. I am residing in this country temporarily. Not here to bring you harm, I swear. ” His dark eye glimpsed right into me as he stared me down, taking a moment to kneel and pick up the remainder of my clothing. “I was inside of the club on the corner. I heard the commotion when I came outside to head back to my apartment. I found you. I wanted to help.” The foreigner turned his head upward. “Really late to be wandering the streets alone, especially for someone so young.”
I couldn't help but scoff. Even though this guy bust ass to help me, he was unusually concerned for my well-being. Why, of all people, should a complete stranger care?
“What’s it to you? Are you on patrol?”
“No, simply a visitor to this place as of now. I can only advise you to take precautions.” Something about this Otabek guy was that he held a sense of calm as he spoke, even when making threats. It was a quality that fell between comforting and unsettling. With the clothing now folded along his arm, he stood and passed them towards me. “Even in my homeland, being out alone at night can be dangerous.”
After what I experienced, I could call him correct in that respect. I cautiously lifted both items from him and dipped my arms into the sleeves of my jacket before zipping it shut. Thankfully, no damage had been done to it, but my practice tank was ruined. I considered myself lucky that it was something I could easily replace.
“Y-yeah, okay. I get it. What about you? You should listen to your own advice and not, er, get involved with shit like that, right?”
“You were in immediate danger. It would have been wrong of me if I had walked away.”
“That’s...actually really fucking noble of you. Wait, you aren't wanting some sort of compensation for that brave stunt you pulled, are you? I-I have nothing to offer.”
“No. I do not expect anything.” He was direct - unbearably honest - as he motioned towards the mouth of the alley. “All I want now is to offer you an escort home. I would hate for you to get assaulted like that again after what just happened.”
That’s right. Home. The reason I was out here instead of safely indoors. There was no doubt that by nearing 1:00, Dmitri would be gone, and I could go back anytime. However, I was now 20 minutes in the opposing direction of Lilia’s studio - 35 minutes from home. I would be screwed if someone else desired to try their luck.
The last thing I wanted was to let myself become vulnerable. Allowing him permission to drive me would also be taking that risk if his intentions weren’t pure.
“I can walk just fine. Don’t worry yourself with me.” I lifted my hood to drape atop my head, tucking my disheveled braid inside so as to not make the same mistake twice, promptly jamming both hands inside my pockets.
He nodded and made his way towards a sleek black motorcycle parked nearby, sitting astride it and pulling a small box from his own pocket. “Are you certain there is not anything I could do to help?”
Persistent. In all honesty, while his kindness was well-appreciated, it seemed a little too much like he thought of me as a child. I was a month from being an adult; I should at least be able to manage this. “Are you trying to play upstanding citizen? Tch, yeah, no, I’m leaving. Had a long night. I’m going home now. You don’t need to help me anymore than what you already have. Do svidaniya.”
I finally caught a glimpse of what the box contained as the lid popped open, a glint of silver catching in the streetlight glow as a sleek, white cigarette was tucked between his lips. He lifted a match and struck it, flame igniting the tip. “I apologize. I will let you be on your way. Be careful,” he replied with a mumble and shifted his attention away.
Fine by me. He could do as he wished, but I wasn’t going to wait and shoot the breeze with him any longer. I turned tail and began heading towards home.
As much as I wanted to push tonight’s events as far from my mind as possible, meeting him had been a rather unusual encounter. I should have given him a little more credit than what I did. He did keep that son of a bitch from - well, never mind. I would prefer to forget about that quickly.
Either way, I believed this would be the last time I ever saw him. The sooner I put this night behind me, the better.
As I would come to find out, my fate had other plans.