A super-morbid and angsty Basta one-shot. I didn't intend to post it, it's really more of a drabble, but since you all like him so much I thought I'd go ahead. :) I don't own Inkheart - but read and enjoy!

He hated that feeling so much. So much. Even after all the years that it had come and gone and come again, he hadn't stopped hating it. The seizing up of air, as though it had been his own chest that his knife had pierced. Sometimes they screamed, but it seemed like that made it easier. They would drown out the screaming in own his head a little bit.

The thought always came back the same... he hadn't been meant to take lives. No man had. It was unnatural, repulsive. It had made him sick before, but thank goodness he had outgrown that at least. It had been horribly embarrassing, especially in front of the others.

He still sometimes replaced the knives afterwards, though. That compulsion hadn't completely passed. He had a bizarre attachment to the knives themselves, which seemed to account at least partially for his actions. The item itself was a tangible manifestation of the power that he had lacked for so many terrible years. He didn't like to see stains on the knives from other peoples' blood. It was awkward, disgusting. He had tried to wash them off, of course; replacing quality knives was an expensive habit. But it never washed off, not even when he soaked it in alcohol or scraped it across a sharpening stone.

In his head, it never came off.