Long before the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or even his first encounter with Mina Harker, Dorian Gray commits a brutal crime to keep his darkest secret.
Disclaimer: I do not own The League of the Extraordinary Gentlemen nor any of the books used as references for characters within the movie and novelization of the movie
Summary: Long before the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or even his first encounter with Mina Harker, Dorian Gray commits a brutal crime to keep his darkest secret.
It was a little past eight in the evening, and Dorian Gray was relaxing on the couch of his library. He had not been long retired with a "good" book, though some would argue about his tastes in literature, when a chime rang through the house. Someone was at his door.
Reluctantly, Dorian rose from his comfortable position and descended two flights of stairs. Naturally, he took his time and, when he finally slid the door open a slight ways, his caller had turned from the door and begun to leave. Something in the very pit of Dorian's nearly forgotten soul begged him to let the man walk away, but Dorian's curiosity won the struggle inside him.
"May I," Dorian drawled as he released the door's chain and opened it fully, "help you, sir?"
"Oh!" the man exclaimed as he heard the voice. "Mr. Gray," he began as he turned around, but all British formality was forgotten when he saw Dorian. "Dorian! My God! You... you don't look a day older than when we last met! My God!"
Dorian regarded the other male oddly. Without warning, realization struck the hedonist. His dark eyes studied the forty-something man before him. The man's shocked expression had become a smile, and his brown eyes were unchanged from so many years ago. His face bore a few wrinkles, and his brown hair had been cut to shoulder length, but that did not hide the streaks of gray.
"Basil," Dorian said slowly, half not believing his eyes. "Basil... Hallward."
"It's good to see you, Dorian!" the painted said with a grin to his former model.
"Come in, Basil," Dorian murmured. "Come in."
"I have been," Basil commented as Dorian ushered him inside, the artist acting as though a decade and half had not gone by since their last meeting, "thinking about you so often lately. I simply had to come by, and now I'm so very glad I did!"
Dorian said nothing. A visit from Basil had been expected, and it shook him to the core. The idolatry Dorian had come to mock the memory of was still alive in Basil's eyes. Yet Dorian was sure, as he stared at his former friend, that Basil was looking deeper, was looking into the Hellish pit Dorian knew his own soul had become. Unless he sent the artist away now, the last thread of compassion within him warned, he would regret the things to come. Yet vanity overruled the good intention. Dorian took great pleasure from seeing the aging Basil as he securely held to his untouched, youthful features without worry.
"What's this?" Basil asked of Dorian as they ascended the first stairwell as Dorian silently led Basil to his library. The artist had been admiring all the portraits of the Gray family when he had noted one with a tarp draped over it. He had no sooner reached out to touch the covering than Dorian's hand had fiercely caught his wrist.
"That portrait," Dorian explained as he applied more pressure to the thin wrist of the curious painter and ignored the pained gasp of Basil at the roughness of the hold, "is mine. The one you painted. It is," he released Basil's wrist and spoke soothingly in an attempt to make amends for his rough behavior, "too beautiful. You did too excellently, Basil. I simply cannot bear to look upon my beauty so brilliantly rendered." As he spoke, he took Basil's wrist again, sweeping his fingers tenderly over the marks his grip had made moments earlier. Dorian smirked inwardly as a faint flush caught Basil's cheeks at the words and touch. All was forgiven in the painter's eyes.
"It was," Basil said, more to himself than to Dorian, "my masterpiece."
"Was?" Dorian questioned, his blue eyes narrowing as he watched the artist, rage threatening to overtake him at any moment. "It still is. After all, Basil, it is not as though a painting ever changes."
Basil had the sense that something was very wrong. He felt as though he were holding his hand out to a growling dog, tempting it to bite. So he did the only intelligent thing he could think to do. With a mutter of, "Of course, you know that's what I meant, Dorian," Basil followed Dorian the rest of the way to the library.
"Scotch?" Dorian asked as they entered the library. He put Basil on the couch before walking over to a small table where he kept a large bottle of Scotch and several glasses. He saw Basil nod mutely out of the corner of his eye, and Dorian returned to him a few moments later with two glasses very full of the amber liquid. He handed basil his drink before sitting perhaps an inch, at most, away from the painter. Dorian smiled sweetly as he saw the man who had so admired him, and still seemed to even if something in those prolonged glances from Basil was somewhat altered, seemed a little uncomfortable with this nearness.
"Thank you, Dorian," Basil managed to say before he took a drink of the Scotch. The slight burn of alcohol in his throat assured him that, impossible as he felt it was, this was reality, not some dream. Yet he was not unaffected by the oddity of Dorian's continued youth and the hidden portrait. Dorian's demeanor did not escape him either. This was not the shy, naÃ¯ve youth he had painted so many years ago. This was not the Dorian Gray he had worshipped as his muse. This was... someone... no, not even that... something else.
"Am I really that fascinating, Basil? You have yet to stop staring at me," Dorian remarked. He reached out, and his fingers brushed the artist's jaw. A frown appeared on Dorian's chiseled features as Basil pulled away from the touch.
"It is impossible. If not impossible then unnatural!" Basil had started speaking at a moderate level, but his voice rose to a shout by the end, and he had leapt to his feet. Trusting a kind of sixth sense more than sight, Basil felt Dorian's rage and jumped to the side right before Dorian's glass of Scotch would have struck his face. Instead, it shattered against the wall, and Basil was keenly aware that Dorian had not meant to miss, something that sorely dashed Basil's desperate hopes that Dorian had meant only to frighten him.
"I despise that word," Dorian growled. His blue eyes overflowed with rage, but a reined look soon came across his face. Slowly, he rose and began to approach his old friend. He slowly reached his hand out, saying softly, "My dear Basil."
However, Basil just stared at Dorian. When Dorian took another step towards Basil, the artist took a fast step backwards. His eyes plainly told Dorian what the other had suspected Basil would not allow Dorian anywhere near him.
"Good evening, Dorian," Basil said quickly. "I must get home."
Basil hurriedly left the library and darted down the stairs. He stopped abruptly when he came to the covered portrait. He simply could not help himself. Basil reached out and pulled the tarp up. His eyes widened, and he stepped away, allowing the cover to fall back over the painting.
He had seen the painting he had done fifteen years ago. Now the features were wrinkled and had a sort of lewd appearance. It was the face of a man who had committed some of the worst crimes and all too many lesser ones. Unnatural. Basil found the word resurfacing in his mind. This was utterly unnatural.
Because of his intensity of thought on the painting, Basil never heard Dorian on the stairs. Due to the advantage, Dorian brought the butt of his decorative cane against Basil's left temple. Basil was sent reeling, and he hand to grab the railing of the stairs to keep from falling. Falling would make him all too vulnerable to an attack from Dorian, and he knew it, so he was keen to avoid that.
Dorian cursed as Basil managed to stumble out of the doorway, still obviously disoriented from the blow to his head, but Dorian was not fool enough to chase him onto the streets where someone might see the pursuit and inform the law.
"I must," Dorian muttered, talking to himself, "pay my dear old friend a visit soon."
Two days later, Basil still could not forget the face of Dorian, either face. The youthful one overflowing with rage and the painted picture plagued by the memories of a highly sinful life. An echo had stirred only hours after he had seen that... unnatural sight. Dorian's voice loudly proclaiming in Basil's presence that he would give anything, even his own soul, if Basil's painting of him would age instead of himself.
"Dorian," Basil whispered mournfully, "some wicked demon must have heard you. My poor Dorian."
The artist had not left the safety of his home since he had returned there after fleeing Dorian. Safely inside his studio, Basil had tried to recapture those distraught features hidden beneath the tarp in Dorian's home. For all his skill and experience, he simply could not recreate the present state of what had been his masterpiece.
Basil had become so drawn into his futile attempts at capturing the face of a sinner that he did not hear his studio door open. He was oblivious to footsteps in the room, and he did not know that Dorian Gray had let himself in.
Dorian's eyes focused on Basil's back. Poor, foolish Basil. Predictable Basil. In his studio, and Parker, Basil's hired help, still was given Sundays off. Dorian was careful to make as little noise as he could, and he crept over to the table where Basil's painting supplies were kept when he was not using them. Dorian picked up the thin blade Basil used to cut canvases, and he gripped the handle tightly. This would do the job quite nicely.
Dorian stalked forward, eyeing the back of Basil all the while. The artist remained too interested in the sketch he was attempting to even notice something was amiss. Were silence not more important, Dorian would have laughed. A chuckle did escape him, though, once he was almost directly behind Basil and was bringing down the knife for Basil's back.
The sound was enough. Basil's head shot up, and his eyes went wide. Every muscle tensed, and he threw himself to the side. The knife still connected with flesh, though it was only Basil's left arm. Still, the blood flowed freely, and Dorian looked at the stained knife when he pulled it out. Basil turned around quickly, staring up at Dorian with fear in his eyes. Dorian made another lunge, but Basil evaded it, darting back. This continued for a few moments, but Basil soon realized that he was trapped. His couch was behind him, and both he and Dorian knew that he had nowhere to run now.
Dorian threw himself forward and knocked Basil onto the couch. Dorian moved quickly to get on the couch as well, positioning himself over the painter. With one hand, he roughly grabbed Basil's hurt arm, applying all the pressure he could, drinking in Basil's scream of pain. He pinned Basil's legs with his, applying more pressure to the other's arm, shoving him down so his back was against the couch. Dorian smirked as he looked down at the struggling artist, delighting in his futile attempts to throw him off. He brought the knife down, intentionally missing the heart and wounding Basil's right shoulder.
"You shouldn't have given into temptation, my dear Basil," Dorian growled as he stabbed his former friend again, this time in the stomach. "If you'd only left well enough alone," another stab, this one to the left shoulder, and Dorian paused to listen to Basil scream again, and Dorian's hand became all the tighter around his wounded arm, "I wouldn't have to punish you like this."
Basil knew the wounds were fatal at this point, especially as he felt the blade rip into him between two ribs. He knew it would be wisest to just stop struggling and accept death, but his Dorian was so changed. He had to say it... had to force the words.
"I wonder," Basil uttered, pain lacing every word, and Dorian paused, knife in midair, to listen to what the man was saying, "what your portrait looks like," Dorian's eyes clouded over with an even more dangerous rage, "now."
The last word was followed by Dorian's last stab, right into Basil's jugular. Even as the blood sprayed, Dorian stayed above Basil, holding the flailing body, relishing in its last moments of desperate pain. Once the artist had gone still beneath him, Dorian pulled the knife from the throat of his victim, and he regarded Basil's dead body coldly.
"I am so sorry it had to end this way, my dear Basil," he said to the corpse, but his voice was not sincere in the least.