01: We're Concentrating on Falling Apart

"Where the crap are you taking me?" I mumbled to my older cousin, Tiffany, as she led me down a back alley. The night air chilled my flesh, causing tiny bumps to appear on my skin while the hairs on my arms stood on end. My cheeks were stained a faint pink; the cool winter air was responsible for that. I had on a thin black jacket since winter coats weren't exactly my favorite things to wear. My appearance was usually a top priority; I hated wearing large bulky winter jackets which made me look fat.

The only sounds breaking the silence of the night were our footsteps, along with our shallow breathing. I

could see the puffs of Tiffany's breath as she turned to look at me with a smile. Her lips were going a faint blue; I wondered if mine looked the same.

Damn, it was a cold night.

Sometimes Tiff could be the most feebleminded person I could think of. She had woken me up at 2:12 AM by chucking rocks at my window. She had then told me to get dressed in my most amazing outfit, then come down to see her. Once I did this, she had dragged me across the city — on foot — and here we were, walking down an alley, freezing our butts off.

"Almost there," Tiff cheerfully announced while I sighed impatiently. Honestly; just the other day I had poured out my problems to her — fuck, she knew I was going through a hard time; yet now she was dragging me across the city in the freezing cold? Was this supposed to cheer me up? Sometimes she was so stupid; so insensitive. A walk would not do me good. Maybe a car ride; cut a few laps around, but no, not a damned walk at 2 something in the morning while I get my ass turned into a popsicle.

"Where the fuck are we going?" I hissed, my mood absolutely foul. I was glad that this city was just a small city and we didn't have to walk a few hundred kilometers (slight exaggeration) to our destination... wherever that was. Tiff seemed to think this whole trip was a surprise and when we reached the "surprise spot", I'd be jumping for joy.

More like I'd be jumping on her to wring her pretty little neck.

Damn, I was bitter.

"...and I know you'll love it..." Tiff was rambling. I could hardly hear her over the loud wind. A roaring sound in the distance made us both start; but soon I realized it was only a late sledder turning in for the night. I sighed, wishing I could skidoo, but it was far too late, far too cold, and I was far too tired. Besides, none of my friends would want to skidoo at this time, nor would I be allowed to.


I wasn't even speaking to any of those people. Not my friends, not my parents. They currently hated me. Well, actually, I hated my parents for grounding me for the weekend since I had shown up at home at 7:30 in the morning two nights ago... and that hadn't gone over too well with them.

That was partially the reason I was so tired right now. Lack of sleep does wonders.

And my friends? I had bitched them out when I had been drunk out of my mind. I always had a problem with my closest friend, Brittany, because she always copied my style. She'd take something I made up and she'd use it as her own, claiming it was hers. So I confronted her at a party, and all my friends got involved, creating a small little war among the party. I ended up slapping Britt, she slapped me back, a cat fight ensued, and then she told me to go slit my wrists because no one cared if I lived or not.

Damn, had that one hurt.

Of course, I would never slit my wrists no matter how depressed I was. For one, I believed it was selfish. Tiffany's immediate family had a recent suicide. Just two summers ago, her oldest brother had killed himself due to his depression pills. Their family sued, but their justice wasn't fulfilled. Tiff had been wrecked. I believed then and there that suicide was an incredibly selfish thing to do, especially to the people who loved you.

No matter how angry I got, I'd never kill myself and hurt everyone around me, even if I thought no one would have cared.

"Someone cares," Tiff had told me just yesterday, after I had poured my problems to her. "I care, you stupid ox. Why do you think I'm listening?" Yeah. Good old Tiff. It seemed like she was the only person who truly cared. But that couldn't have been right.

"Here," Tiffany stopped so abruptly that I almost took her out. I grabbed her shoulders to stop myself and grunted in irritation.

"Here what?" I asked, annoyed. Tiff pointed at an "Out of Order" sign laying on the ground before us, in the middle of the alley. I stared down at it, hoping it would suddenly turn into a heater and melt all the snow away. "A sign?" I scowled, then prodded at it with my foot. Tiff laughed and shook her head, her light blonde hair bobbing slightly. She had her hair done up nicely; slightly complicated, leaving some stray hairs down to give her a slight "messy" look.

Tiffany was a very pretty person. She was two years older than me, meaning she was nineteen, just the right age to get into bars and nightclubs which made her almost constantly absent. She hardly was home; usually she sat at bars with her friends or boyfriend. Actually... I hadn't heard of her being at home for at least two months.

Oh, but her boyfriend. Oh hell, was he one good choice of a man. Truthfully, I was jealous of Tiff for scoring such a hot guy. He was twenty-one, worked as a temporary bartender in some night club that was called "Project", and was the sweetest guy you could meet. He had once held a door open for me at a convenience store — now that small gesture was rare in this city, so it made a good impression.

However, as much as I wanted him, I would never take him since he was, after all, my cousin's boyfriend. Even if he wasn't, I still wouldn't have been able to get him because I could never compare to Tiffany. She was so much more prettier; or at least, that's what I thought. A lot of people said differently, but I assumed they were just saying that because I always talked about it and never shut up.

I had dirty blonde hair that I preferred to simply call brown, because being called "blonde" reminded me too much of blonde jokes. I knew they were all in fun, but still...

"Come on," Tiffany flashed me a grin, leaned over, and grabbed hold of a corner of the sign. She tugged at It and dragged it across the snow. Under the sign, dirt peeked out since the snow could not have gotten to it. Her grin never left as she swept some spare snow away from the imprint that the sign had left.

And that was when I noticed a knob.

"What the...?" I trailed off when Tiff turned the knob and, just like a door, the square imprint on the ground opened. Actually, it was a door. A door on the ground; like a trapdoor.

"Come on," she laughed at my expression and went down feet first on what I assumed was a ladder. I squinted, watching as she disappeared into the blackness in the ground. Where the hell was she taking me?

Oh well. I trusted her. I went down after her, cringing slightly at the coldness of the bars which slowly diminished the further I went down. I could no longer feel the cold of the winter, but now I was getting exceptionally warm. A comfortable warm.

Before I knew it, I had reached solid ground.

"Crap," Tiff muttered from beside me. I couldn't see her in the darkness, but I knew where she was when she gently pushed me aside and went back up the ladder. "You didn't close it," she called back to me. I saw the outline of her hair as I watched her, then decided not to stand right at the foot of the ladder incase she came back down and landed on me. I stepped away and tried to look around, but it was much too black. I stood there, waiting for my eyes to adjust, but it seemed like they never would.

I heard Tiffany join me. She was breathing slightly harder, probably from the cold. I felt her grab my arm and lead me through the dark. I kept wincing, expecting to hit something like a wall, but nothing came. Eventually, we stopped and I heard Tiffany fiddling with what sounded like a key in front of me. Before I could ask, Tiff pushed forwards on something, and loud music, red and blue lights, laughter, and crowds of people met my senses. I stared ahead at a nightclub; large lights on the ceiling bathing the crowds of dancing young adults from the ages nineteen to twenty-nine. I suddenly felt so young at seventeen — and I wasn't exactly the right age to be in a nightclub.

"Tiff," a large, broad shouldered man with a shaved head suddenly appeared, blocking my sight of the club. "You're late. Robert's been lookin' for you," he said in a rough, ragged voice that didn't quite suit him. He looked around the age of twenty-five, but I believed he could have been older since he seemed so much more mature, like a middle-aged man.

And who was Robert? Why was he looking for my cousin?

"Ah, I'm sorry, Al," Tiff put on a cute, innocent look, placing her hands behind her back. "I had to pick up my little cousin," she leaned forwards, towards the bouncer whose name was apparently Al, and smiled slightly. "She's with me, so could you let her in?"

"Did you ask Slait?" Al asked dryly.

"I did, actually," Tiffany grinned. I stood beside her, feeling awkward and nervous. Did Tiff lead two lives, or something? No wonder I hardly saw her anymore.

"Well, I suppose it's alright then," Al sighed, stepping back.

"Thanks, Al," grinned Tiff as she grabbed my hand and led me into the club. The music seemed to pound up a few notches, making me wince slightly. I wasn't used to this — highschool parties never had music this loud. Tiff stopped, making me bump into her shoulder, and she turned to face Al, "Keep an eye on her, will you? Wouldn't want someone to drag her off and..." she trailed off, and both Al and I got the hint.

"I'll try," Al shrugged.

Tiff turned to me and said, "Alright. Go have fun. Forget about your problems tonight, alright? Here, no one knows you or your friends."

I nodded, then watched her walk off, disappearing within the throng of people. I just stood where I was, feeling out of place.

"Go have fun, kid," I heard Al say from behind me, but when I turned to look at him, he was already occupied with some new arrivals. I sighed and began playing with the side of my black and silver belt, then decided I must have looked like an idiot standing off to the side and staring at people. I walked into the crowd, shoving my way further into it until I couldn't see a wall over the people around me who all seemed so into the music. I had never heard the song that was playing before; it was a unique tune with a great beat to dance to.

What the fuck are you waiting for?


I started at an intruding voice behind me and spun around to see an... okay. Pause, here. He was, without question, the hottest guy I had ever seen. No exaggeration. My heart stopped and I simply stared at him, mouth agape. He looked beyond perfect. He had the most interesting hair; black spikes done up in a tasteful fashion but with pink tips. Pink tips? Just showed how outgoing he was, and I had a thing for outgoing guys. A few wisps of black and pink hair fell before his eyes and I had the weirdest urge to push them back. His eyes were the strangest; yet they were so appealing. They were such a light blue they looked white, yet they were so sharp and intense; the way he looked at me made shivers run up my spine.

Best of all, however, was his lip piercing. My gaze lingered on it while he raised an amused eyebrow.

We don't care, there's no score.

"You alright?" he asked me. I snapped out of my trance and blinked feverishly up at him as I remembered how to breathe.

"Oh... oh yeah..." I said quietly, so of course he did not hear me over the music.

"Drunk?" he asked me, and I immediately shook my head. His smirk told me he did not believe me.

To us there is nothing out of reach.

"You need to unwind," he told me, then he slipped behind me and slid his arms around my waist as he began dancing with me, making me swerve to the beat with him. My whole body felt like it was on fire; he was so close — his warmth was overwhelming, as was his cinnamon scent. I felt so light headed; I just wanted to close my eyes and melt in his arms. Maybe this night would be better than I thought.

Yeah, You don't know.

"Come on," he murmured in my ear, his pale lips just barely grazing the skin there. "You're so uptight."

Uptight? I was not uptight. I was a damned party animal. I just... I just wasn't in the mood and... I wasn't familiar with this place, and I was so young. I felt out of place.

You have no fucking clue.

Deciding I needed to unwind, as he had said, and that I had to prove to him that I wasn't a boring goody-goody, I placed my hands on his arms and grinded back into him, emitting a sharp inhale from him. He slid his hands to my hips and my hands found their way on top of his as we danced especially close. If this guy had a girlfriend, my face would be on the ground.

Yeah, you don't know.

"That's better," he practically purred into my ear, and just like that, I felt his body's absence. I stopped dancing and turned around, but he was no where to be seen. I tried looking for any trace of pink and black hair, but I only saw a girl with bright pink hair. Deciding he was gone forever, I sighed and continued to dance, my spirits once again dampening.

Better get out before you get in.

Better get in before you get out.

Clink, clink.

I slid onto a stool at the bar, deciding that tonight, I needed to drink so I could actually dance away my depression. I stared down at the black counter top and tapped my fingernails against it, waiting.

"What will it be?," a familiar voice startled me into looking up — my gaze locked with Elias Harren — my cousin's boyfriend. We stared at each other in surprise; clearly we both had no idea what the other was doing here.

"She brought you?" Elias's eyebrows shot up in surprise. Wondering what he meant, I frowned at him, slightly on the defensive side.

"Who? Tiff?" I asked, glancing over my shoulder to see if I could, by any chance, spot her.

"Yeah," Elias shrugged one shoulder, "Who else?" he smirked and I shot him a dull look. He was tall — not as tall as the stranger who had danced with me — but still tall. His light brown hair was unique in the way that his bangs were all off to one side. The rest of his hair was slightly slicked back with gel, reaching the middle of the back of his neck. Oddly enough, his hair made him look very tasty. He had light brown eyes, which made me frown, because I could have sworn the last time I had seen him, his eye color had been a very dark chestnut color. Perhaps it was just the lighting which had altered his eye color?

"What are you doing here?" I asked him, leaning back on my stool slightly and giving him a jokingly suspicious look.

"I work here, dumb ass," he playfully grinned. I blinked at him and raised my thin, newly waxed (so they slightly hurt) eyebrows.

"This is Project?" I asked him. He nodded, his expression telling me he clearly thought I was stupid for not knowing.

"It's sort of a secret place," Elias explained with a smile, then he leaned on the counter with his elbows and gave me an expectant look. "I'm working. I'll talk to you later, alright?" He pushed himself off the counter but I grabbed his elbow before he could walk off.

"Excuse me?" I cleared my throat, "I am for a drink, you know."

"Torrie," a half smile played on his lips, "I don't want to be responsible for you throwing up on the floor."

"I can handle my alcohol!" I protested, letting go of him so I could fold my arms and pout. "Want me to go complain to... to whoever owns this joint?"

"That would be Slait," Elias rolled his eyes, then sighed and looked down at me, slightly strangely, "What will it be then, hun?"

I felt my cheeks heat up and I looked down at my lap. I loved it when he called me hun. "Just... get me..." I frowned as I thought about what would be "appropriate" to order. I didn't want to just order a beer — how classic — or a glass full of straight vodka. I tried to think of some alcoholic beverage with a fancy name.

"Elias," the other bartender clapped his hand on Elias's shoulder, then gave me a slightly wolfish grin. "I'll take it from here, alright?"

"No, it's alri—"

"Elias," the young man hissed. Elias hesitated, flashed me shrug, then went off to tend to a girl who was almost falling off her stool in her drunken state. The boy who had interrupted Elias and I (ergh!) smirked at me and ran a hand through his messy blond and tangled hair. I blinked up at him, slightly suspicious of why he had wanted to tend to me.

"I'm Sisk," he said in a sly, husky voice, "I'm Elias's more... beautiful friend."

I couldn't help but smile slightly. Upon seeing my smile, he returned it with a large one of his own.

"More beautiful?" my smile widened as I mocked him.

"Damned straight," he grinned back, winking at me. I bit my lip to wipe off my smile and glanced around, wondering where Elias went. I couldn't see him anywhere.

"Where'd Elias go?" I asked out loud.

"Who cares?" Sisk asked, feigning a hurt look, "Wouldn't you rather talk to me anywho? I mean... we just met."

I looked at him and grinned. "Oh, of course."


I laughed, but he just stood there and smiled at me, his peculiar pale eyes glimmering. He was finding this situation just as amusing as I was.

"You want a drink, beautiful?" he asked me. I nodded slightly. "Since you're new, how about I give you the... hm... welcome drink?" here, he grinned suggestively. I looked up at him and he must have seen the distrust in my eyes for he quickly and suavely stated, "I'll let you watch me make it if you don't trust me," here, he chortled as if I was being silly.

"What is the welcome drink, exactly?" I asked.

"You'll love it. Want to try it?"

I hesitated, then decided... what the hell did I have to lose?

"Alright, but... is it strong?" I asked.

Sisk paused, then a slow grin crept onto his lips, "If you want it to be."

"Make it strong," I said, then looked away, feeling slightly unsure about this. Oh well... it was only a drink, and besides... Elias worked here. And Tiffany came here a lot. How dangerous could this be? And if Elias and Sisk were friends, then Sisk couldn't have been such a bad guy, right?

"Alright, beautiful. One specialty coming right up," he winked at me once more, then went off to make the alcoholic drink. I watched him for a while as he expertly mixed a bunch of different drinks together, including some red liquid in an unlabeled bottle. I frowned, wondering what it was. Perhaps it was what made the drink "special", or unique?

Sisk came back to me with the drink. The overall color was a light pink.

"It's delicious," Sisk said, noting my hesitant expression. I inclined my head in a nod and picked up the glass, tilted it to my lips, and took a sip. And surprisingly, I loved it. I took another sip — wow, this was wonderful. I felt the alcohol burn as it went down, but it was such a pleasant feeling.

"You like it, I assume?" Sisk grinned and I nodded.

"It's really good," I said, then took another drink. "By the way... what was the red stuff you put in here?"

Sisk stopped and blinked at me, looking slightly surprised. He glanced around before his gaze fell on the red liquid in the unlabeled bottle that he had mixed into my drink. "It's... it's Sourpuss." He looked back at me, but something told me that he was lying. He walked off to someone else and began flirting with them before asking them what they'd like.

I sighed and looked away, then tapped my glass against an empty one. "Cheers to me," I mumbled miserably under my breath, knowing no one would hear my words. I didn't want them to; I didn't want anyone to think I was a depressed freak who sat at dark clubs and drank her sorrows away. "Cheers to me for making my best friends hate me." I snorted and pushed my glass away from me, the alcoholic beverage held inside slightly spilling over the polished black counter top of the bar.

"Upset, are we?" Sisk's voice suddenly wavered over me again. I looked up at him, wondering why he was back.

"N-no, why?" I asked defensively.

"See the lighting?" his gaze shifted onto the ceiling, where dim blue and red lights bathed the dancing crowds, "Makes people depressed. This club feeds off the unhappy."

Weird guy. I shrugged my shoulders and looked away from him. My mood had just been crushed, for some reason. Perhaps it was the lighting.

"You should drink this," he said, pushing my glass back to me, "It'll make you feel better. Trust me."

I took the glass, shrugged, and drank some more. He watched me until he was satisfied that I'd drink it, then he went off to mix a drink for someone else.

Before long, I had finished the addicting drink, and Sisk had automatically made me another.

"How much are these?" I asked him as he handed it to me. I took a sip as he shrugged.

"They're free, beautiful," he said with a smirk.

I frowned, setting the new glass down. "Why?"

"Did I not say they are a 'welcome drink'?"

I looked down and nodded.

Six drinks later found me sitting on a black and white leather couch, beside Sisk, whose shift had ended at 3:00 AM, and he had insisted I hang out with him. Elias' shift had ended, also, but neither of us knew where he was and Sisk didn't seem too interested in finding him.

I was, to put it nicely, completely shit faced. Those drinks that Sisk had mixed me had been fucking strong. I had no idea they were originally strong as hell, but then he had added more upon my request?

I mumbled something even I couldn't understand and leaned against Sisk, pressing my forehead into his shoulder. I felt his arm wrap around my shoulders and I felt consciousness begin to weave in and out of my mind. I groaned slightly, feeling like I needed to throw up. I clenched my eyes shut and pushed my forehead against Sisk as hard as I could to numb myself. I just wanted to pass out already.

"Hey," Sisk grabbed my head and made me look at him. He was slightly blurry. I blinked, and the blurriness faded. "You're falling asleep on me," he said slowly, so I could understand him. He leaned closer to me, then grinned as he hissed, "Come on, I'll take you to my room."

I blinked up at him lazily. His room? He had his own room here? What was this place? A nightclub-apartment? I groaned when I felt him stand up, taking me up with him. Perhaps if I had been sober, I would have paid attention to the details around me. How he held me, how he smelled like apples, how he gently yet demandingly moved me.


His room?

I knew exactly what he wanted from me. Even drunk, I wasn't entirely stupid.

Angrily, I ripped myself away from him and landed back on the couch, letting out a grunt when a wave of dizziness washed over me and I leaned over the arm of the couch, prepared to throw up. I waited; waited, but nothing happened. I felt Sisk grab me by the waist in an attempt to haul me up again, but I shoved him off of me and curled up on the couch, suddenly scared.

"You need to pass out," Sisk said, kneeling beside me, "Don't be difficult."

"No," I shook my head and buried my face in the arm of the couch, "Go away."

"What... whatever your name is," he growled out, grabbing my wrist. I tore my hand away and tucked it under my head. "Come on. You can't pass out here."

"Go away!" I angrily lashed out, trying to push him away with my foot. He sighed and got up, then suddenly grabbed my shoulders and lifted me up; his grip so tight that it hurt.

"Girl, do you want some sick pervert to molest you on the couch while you're passed out?" he asked me, his voice low and angry like a growl. I paused, then licked my dry lips and looked away. You want to rape me, I thought, but decided not to say it out loud in case he got angrier.

I suddenly placed my hands on his chest, then roughly shoved him backwards. We both stumbled a little bit, but I managed to keep my balance while he bumped into some guy with a mo-hawk. Before he could grab me, I ran off into the crowd to hide from him. I heard him yell, but his words were left under the music. I stumbled into a blonde girl who pushed me off of her after calling me a "drunk whore". I flipped her off, then continued trying to blend in with the people.

Eventually, after I thought I had lost Sisk, I accidently pumped into a boy about my height with dark green, messy hair. He gave me a grin and helped me stable myself.

"You okay?" he asked.

"Uhhuh," I grunted, then turned around and caught sight of the hot as hell boy from earlier. The one with pink and black hair. He hadn't seen me; he was busy concentrating on yelling at a boy in the crowd, whose face was beat red with either anger or humiliation.

The pink and black haired boy turned away from the other one and threw his hands in the air, signaling that he was frustrated. The strange idea to comfort him popped into my mind, and of course, being the completely sober and rational person I was, I decided to do just that thing.

As soon as he was closer to me, I walked up behind him, grabbed his shoulder, and spun him around. From what I had felt, he seemed very tense. Our eyes locked and recognition flickered in his almost-white eyes. He started when I placed my hands on his upper arms and pressed myself right up to him, not noticing how my fingernails slightly dug into his skin. The entire time I became even more light headed — perhaps from his scent or perhaps just because of the alcohol kicking in some more — our gazes were locked. He was much more taller than me, but I didn't quite care. I pressed closer; closer; closer, until he gasped out and stepped back.

"You're totaled," he stated loudly so I could hear him over the throbbing music, "Calm down."

I was slightly insulted that he appeared to not want me. He grabbed my wrist, sending what felt like electricity jolting through me, and led me through the crowd. We eventually came to the couch that I had been passing out on earlier with Sisk and I stiffened. I glanced around, looking for any sight of Sisk, but it appeared that he was gone.

I let out a breath of relief.

The pink and black haired young man lightly set me down on the couch, but I grabbed his arms and pulled him down with me. Startled, he almost fell on me but caught himself before he hurt me, his pale lips stopping just above mine. Our eyes locked, and something strange clicked in his unique eyes — something that made my wrists go numb and my insides to go slightly cold. Whatever had passed through his mind then was not a good thing; certainly not something I'd like to know about.

He smirked, then pushed himself away from me. He turned, and I watched him, half afraid and half thirsting for him, while he looked over his shoulder and nonchalantly uttered out, "Lates, Torrie."

He disappeared into the crowd, leaving me perplexed and wondering... how did he know my name?

A/N: My main character has... wait for it... slutty tendencies. -collective gasp- Actually, she's not really like that. You'll find out later why she acted like that. Haha. Anyways, please review? I get discouraged easily :(