Madison used long strides to make her way towards the bus stop; she hoped that Alan would meet her along the way. Walking home in the dark always scared her, even though she made the long journey every night. She was regretting giving Arion back his jacket, when a car pulled up beside her, a gray Mercedes Benz with black tinted windows.

The back window rolled down and revealed the face of the loud mouthed man from the café. "Get in." He said and opened the door.

"No, I don't know you." Madison barked and began to walk faster.

"I'm Darick Mitchell. There, now you know me, get in." The car continued to cruise along side her with the back door slightly ajar.

"I said no, leave me alone."

"Light haired girl!" Brad called from a car behind the Benz. "Get in, he'll take you home."

Madison heart pounded wildly, it was dark and there was no one in sight to help her. "No!" She screamed and began to run towards the bus stop.

After a few moments, she stopped to look around and it seemed that they had given up on her. Bent over she breathed heavily, "Damn, Madison, you didn't run that far." She mumbled to herself. "You would think you ran a marathon."

Suddenly a hand grabbed her wrist and she looked up into Darick's face, "I'm offering you a ride home. Why do you have to act like I am trying to kidnap you?"

She yanked her hand out of his, "I am waiting for a friend and I said no!"

Darick's face grew dark, "Fine, we can wait for him in my car. It has heating." With that he grabbed her arm and dragged her over to the car parked on the side of the street.

"I don't want to wait in your car!" She yelled as he opened the door and shoved her inside. "Asshole!" She screamed into his face when he sat down in the backseat beside her.

"Driver, tell Brad and the others to go home." Darick said, ignoring her angry outburst. "Then wait outside the car until I inform you otherwise."

"Yes, sir." The young man said as he stepped out of the car.

Madison looked at several shopping bags that were on the seat next to her. They were all from high end stores that she didn't even dare to step foot in as she was afraid of being thrown out.

"They're for you." Darick said.

She turned her eyes from the bags back to him, "Excuse me?"

"They are clothes. Brad got your sizes from your friend. It's not easy to get clothes that fit a girl that is tall but has a thin frame. Are your breasts fake? How is it that you don't fall over?"

Madison almost dropped her jaw from his words, "I don't…"

"You'll wear these clothes from now on. I have others on the way, but the sizes had to be specially ordered."

"What?" She was flabbergasted and could not figure out what to say.

"I'll give you a monthly allowance of a hundred thousand dollars, and gold card in case you need extra, and you can have access to all the services at my home. There is a spa among other facilities that you will find useful. If you chose not to live at my mansion, I'll purchase you a nice apartment close to the school." He looked proud of himself, "I think that covers it. Anything else that you want?"

"What the hell are you talking about?" She couldn't decide what she should be feeling in those moments.

"In return, you will walk with me in school and go on dates with me twice a week. I don't expect you to have sex with me right away, but I am sure you will eventually want to. Let me know when you decide you are comfortable enough."

Madison's jaw dropped, "Are you saying that you want me to be your girlfriend?"

"Why else would I give you all this?" Darick growled.

The anger boiled up in her body and she was certain that her face was red, "Let me out of this car."

Reaching over, she opened the door and shoved Darick out. Stepping over him, she began to walk towards the bus stop in a mad rush. Arion and the others were outside their cars, obviously waiting on their friend.

Darick caught up to her after a few steps and grabbed her upper arm, "What the fuck are you doing? What more do you want?"

"Let go of me now!" Madison screamed.

"Why are you so angry?" Darick yelled back at her.

She yanked her arm from his grasp, "I'm not for sale, you snobbish fuck tard!"

"Everyone's for sale. Especially a whore like you that would fuck anyone." Darick immediately regretted repeating the rumor to her, he was about to apologize when a pain rushed across his face. She had punched him, and hard enough that he fell backwards onto his behind.

Standing up, he grabbed her arm before she could walk away. "I may have deserved that, but you…"

Another punch was administered to his face before she kneed him in the groin. She swung her backpack at him as he fell to his knees in pain and it connected with his shoulder and cheek. The rest of the group came running to his defense, but didn't seem interested in attacking her.

"Stay away from me!" Madison screamed.

"Madison!" Alan's voice called from behind her.

She looked over her shoulder to see Alan standing on the sidewalk. With a quick twist, she ran to him as quickly as possible. When she reached him, she used him as a shield from the others. Darick was up on his feet though notably still in pain. He limped over to her slowly with his hand still on his groin.

"You are going to regret this!" He yelled.

"Leave her alone." Alan stood firm in front of her. He didn't seem to mind acting as her shield.

Darick seemed to ignore him. "I offered you everything you could possibly want. Don't think we are finished! I always get my way!" With that he spun around and headed back for his car.

Madison met eyes with Arion who was behind him, he looked to be upset. She wasn't sure if his worry was for her or his friend. The group returned with their leader, leaving Alan and Madison alone on the street.

Alan bit his thumb nail as they walked the distance from the bus stop to their apartment. "I can't believe there are people in this world that have such audacity." He finally said. "To think, he actually thought he could purchase a girlfriend like that… it's… well, I guess it isn't too far fetched. I'm sure there are girls that would have jumped at that chance, but not my Madison." He wrapped his arm around her shoulder.

"I have to admit that it was pretty terrifying." She swallowed, "I'm not one get to scared, but…"

"Yeah, I saw the look on your face when you ran towards me." He frowned, "I didn't even think you could show emotion on your face."

Madison grinned and punched his shoulder, "Don't make jokes at times like this." She was carrying the bag with milk and bananas, which had ripped and she was forced to carry it with both arms.

They walked side by side for a short distance in silence, "Hey, would it bother you if I asked out Bria?"

"No, why would it bother me?" Madison looked over at him.

He shrugged as he pulled out his key to open the apartments' front door, and allowed her to enter. Her door was the first one near the entrance, there was none across the hall until the third apartment as the stairs were in the way. Alan had a key to her apartment and unlocked it for her.

"Thanks, I'll see you tomorrow morning."

Alan nodded as he shut the door, and she could hear him enter his own apartment and lie down on his bed. After putting her milk away, she knocked her clothes onto the ground and laid down as well.


"Yeah?" She asked through the wall.

"Could it bother you a little?" He asked.

She chuckled, "Why do you want it to bother me?"

"I don't know." She heard him move on the bed, "I already asked her. She said no."

Madison turned onto her side to look at the wall and placed her hand on it, "I'm sorry, Alan. Did she say why?"

"She wants a boyfriend who is well off. Did you know that was one of her big selling points for going to that school?"

"No, but it doesn't surprise me. She is always talking about dating guys, but she never says anyone looks cute unless they look rich." Madison giggled, then remembered herself. "I am sorry, though."

"Actually, I am kind of relieved. The only girl I have time for in my life is you, and even that is barely a few moments in the evening for dinner." He sighed, "Speaking of which, are you too terrified to cook?"

Madison rolled her eyes though she was amused, "Don't be an ass. I'll come over, let me grab my ramen."

Jumping out of bed, she grabbed two packages of oriental flavored top ramen and exited her apartment. Alan's place was much cleaner than her own. She didn't know how he found time to clean as busy as he was. He also had a patio but it faced the alley way and the sliding doors were in the back of the room near the bathroom. Madison's was near her kitchen facing the street so anyone who walked by could look into her apartment.

Grabbing a big pot from Alan's cupboard, she filled it with water and put it on the burner. "What flavor do you want?" She asked as she looked at the shopping bag full of Alan's top ramen.

"What are you having?"


"Let's go with that then." Alan was sitting on his bed with his back against the wall. The twin size, squeaky bed didn't look like it fit him well and was most likely the cause of much of his back pain. Even though he didn't complain about it much, it was apparent in how often he stretched his back.

Madison dropped four bundles of the noodles into the water, then pulled out two bowls and two forks. She dumped the contents of the spice packages into the bowl then went to take a seat next to Alan.

"What are you going to do about your part time job?" She asked when she sat down.

"I talked to my parents; they said they are alright for now. I think I should replace it as soon as possible though. Even if they don't need the money, I should set aside cash for a rainy day."

"I bet I could talk Fran into giving you a waiter position during the evenings with Bria and I. Would that help?"

Alan turned his head to her and grinned, "If you could do that, I would worship you as my god. I don't know where I can find time to job hunt and do interviews with everything going on now."

"Great, one more follower for the goddess Madison." She grinned and went to stir the noodles.

Pulling out the noodles, she distributed them into the bowls. She always gave Alan more even though he never noticed. He worked a lot harder than she did and needed more energy to get him through the day. Sitting on the bed, they both blew into their bowls trying to cool the broth before they ate their meal. Madison washed both bowls and forks before putting them away.

She sat back down on the bed next to Alan, "It was a crazy day today."

"I could tell from the guy chasing you and the band-aid on your elbow." He rubbed his hands over his face as he sat forward.

"This is the calmest it has been all day." She sighed.

"Yeah, for me too." He turned his head to look at her but was still leaning against his arm. "It's nice to spend our evenings together, where we can forget everything for a little while."

"Yeah, it is."

"We should be together." Alan said.

Madison chuckled, "We are together."

"I mean as a couple." He smiled.

She hit him in the arm and stood up, "You are such a flirt, Alan. I'll see you in the morning."

Alan watched as she shut the door and his smile faded. Even though he meant what he said, Madison thought he had only been joking. He knew it was because he had made his way deep into the friendship role and that would be hard to dig himself out of.

Arion opened his bedroom door. His room was complete with his bed, a large walk in closet, two sofas and a plasma television along with all video game equipment. He even kept a pinball machine and a pool table near the double glass doors that led out to the balcony. There was also a small fridge. He never had to leave his room unless Darick or the others called him to come along with them.

"You are home late." Aries was lying on his bed with his hands behind his head as Arion turned on the light.

"Why are you laying here in the dark?"

Aries gave a weak shrug and sat up to brush his dark chin length hair from his face. "What's up?"

Throwing his book bag on the couch, he sat down on the bed next to his brother with a sigh. Laying down he put his hands behind his head and Aries mimicked him. "Darick's being stupid again."

"Nothing shocking about that."

"No shit, that's why I said again." Arion barked when he turned his face to his brother, "Sorry, I'm in a bad mood."

"You're in a bad mood. I have to fucking hang out with those nouveau riche losers all day long." Aries snorted before he let out a sigh, "Better than nothing, I guess."

"Darick will forget about it eventually. Just hang in there for a while."

"Ah, they aren't that bad when they aren't being flashy. Painting their Benz neon green and wearing gaudy jewelry." Aries rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Stupid girl in there hangs onto me like she is my fungus. Drives me nuts."

"Use her until she's no fun anymore. She's no different than any other poor girl. She'll still walk away when you toss some cash at her."

Aries nodded, "Maybe. Hey, speaking of poor girls. What was charity case doing with your jacket? You never told me."

"Her sweater got ripped and I offered her my jacket."

"That doesn't sound like you." Aries turned his head, "Got the hots for her?"

Arion looked into his twin brother's face, "Yeah."

He chuckled, "I thought so. She is pretty hot. She doesn't look it from far away and the fact that she doesn't wear any make-up doesn't help, but once you get close… if she took her hair down and smiled, she could be super hot."

"She's tall too."

"Yeah, I forgot you got a thing for tall girls." Aries chuckled, "Then again, so do I."

"I think like attracts like. Both us being as tall as we are, we are on the look out for tall ones."

Aries nodded, "When are you going to make your move?"

"I'm not."

He sat up and looked down at his brother, "Let me guess… Darick."

Arion rolled his eyes and sat up, "Yeah."

"The Sherard brothers foiled again by that brat." He laid back down. "Trust me, it's not worth it. Another girl will be by shortly. Let the brat have her."

"I already made the decision that I would." Arion laid back down. "Besides, the guy is almost twenty one and still hasn't kissed a girl before. It's kind of pathetic."

Aries laughed, "You know what would be fun?"

He turned his attention from the ceiling to his brother, "What?"

"Never mind."

"No, what? You have me curious."

Aries sat up on his elbow, "I should teach that brat a lesson. I'm already out of the group; I might as well take the girl."

Arion frowned for a moment before he laughed, "He would be so pissed." He grinned, "I bet you could too. The man can't even have a civilized conversation, let alone woo a girl. He tried to buy her a bunch of gifts and basically buy his time with her."

Aries made a sound like he couldn't decide if he wanted to laugh or scream, "What did she do?"

"She beat him up with her backpack." Arion chuckled, "It was great. Though, it made me wonder if she could beat up a good fighter like Darick, why she doesn't protect herself in school."

"She doesn't want to cause problems." Aries laid back down. "The nouveau riche losers tried to befriend her today, and she totally blew them off. She's a very guarded person."

"I noticed."

"They told me they just want to become her friend, but I think they have an ulterior motive… maybe I should join up with them to get her on our side."

Arion shook his head, "You don't want Darick anymore pissed at you than he already is."

"Fuck Darick. I'm doing this to piss him off." His smile widened, "Arion?"


"Let's cut your hair."

"What? Why?"

Aries sat back up on his elbow, "So you match me. Let's teach the brat a lesson."

Morning always came too soon, but that day she was not awakened by the sounds of her alarm clock. Instead a loud, thunderous knock came from the door. Madison crawled out of bed thinking that it was Alan, which meant that she had most likely slept in. Opening the door, she was wearing nothing but a large t-shirt.

A tall man in a black suit stood in the doorway with several shopping bags in his hands. He didn't bother to ask for admittance, but instead entered her apartment and dropped the shopping bags on her bed.

"Master Darick says to wear what is in the green bag today." With that he stepped out of the apartment, shutting the door behind him.

"Who was that?" Alan asked through the wall.

"One of Darick's servants, I suppose."

Alan laughed, "I got that much. What is in the green bag?"

Madison opened the bag to find a shoe box, along with a clothing box, and several smaller boxes which she assumed held jewelry. "Clothes."

"What kind?"

She opened the clothing box, "It's a blue summer dress with a sweater." She opened the shoe box, "Matching lace up sandals."

"Lace up?"

"You tie them all the way up to your mid calf… like Roman sandals." She coughed as she opened the jewelry boxes, "Some diamond rings, earrings, necklace, and watch."

"Wow! He really went all out." Alan chuckled.

Anger rose throughout her body, "I told that bastard that I didn't want any of this shit." She began to shove it back into the bag.

"Would it really be that bad to take gifts from him? I mean you told him that you didn't want to be with him. Maybe he's just giving you those because he bought them and can't give them to anyone else."

Madison snorted, "I'm sure he can return them. If I wear just one thing that man gives me, then it's like marking me as his. I have to get ready for class."

When she stepped out of the shower, Alan was in her room looking through the gifts. "There has to be at least eighty thousand dollars worth of stuff in these bags. He left all the tags on them."

"Probably to show off." She turned up her nose and grabbed some clothes before heading back into the bathroom to change. "I'm not for sale!"

"You are of stronger will then I am. If someone offered me all this stuff, I'd take it." Alan put everything back into the bags. "What are you going to do with it?"

"I'm taking it back to him today."

"You are going to carry all these bags with you to school." Alan laughed, "That's just too funny. I wish I could be there to watch you struggling with all this…"

"Enough. This isn't funny." She stepped out of the bathroom in jeans and a black t-shirt with pacman on the front. "This is harassment."

Walking over to the phone, Madison dialed in some numbers and waited. "Is Brianna there?" Another moment passed, "Bria, I need you to get to school early for me and meet me at the bus stop." She paused, "I need you to help me carry some things… shopping bags."

Alan laughed.

"Could you borrow it? Ok, I'll wait." Madison looked over her shoulder at Alan, "She is going to see if she can borrow her mom's car for the day."

"You are just too funny."

"Yeah, I'm here." Madison said into the phone, "Great, pick me up at my house. Thanks for the help." Hanging up the phone, she finished getting dressed. "She'll be here in half an hour. Why are you still here?"

"My morning class was canceled today. The professor told us the other day, so I got an hour to relax." He leaned back on the bed, "You will find out about that job at the café for me, right?"

She nodded, "Of course, I said I would." Sitting on the ground, she began to pull on her shoes, "I can't believe that ass would send someone over here in the morning and force his gifts on me."

"You know, Madison…" Alan coughed nervously, "maybe, you could use him."


He shrugged, "I mean, hear me out. I'm sure he is just toying with you like you said, but what would it hurt to have a better life for a while. Afterwards, you could probably live off of whatever he gives you. You won't have to work as hard and you'll have more time to study."

"That doesn't work for me. I don't like living off others and I refuse to use him. Even if he is a big jerk, he is still a human being and doesn't deserve someone using him for their own purposes." She tightened her shoe lace and stood up to grab her banana.

"Wouldn't you both just be using each other? I mean, if you came clean from the beginning that was your intention…"

"No, Alan." Madison turned to him as she began to peel her banana. "He may be able to use people without his conscience getting to him, but I couldn't. Besides, I'm independent and I like being that way. I may eat ramen every night for dinner and have a banana every day for breakfast."

"Don't forget your peanut butter and jelly." Alan smiled.

"Yeah." She sighed, "I may not wear designer clothing and only get things from the second hand store. I live in this dump, but truthfully I am happy. Even though I have to struggle so hard to barely get the things I need to survive, I am happy. That happiness comes from doing for myself and not relying on others to give me what I need."

He nodded, "I understand."

"Besides, I don't know this guy so I don't have any feelings for him, except the obvious conclusion that he is an asshole, who was spoiled by his parents. I mean look how he treats me. The only way he knows how to get people to like him is by buying them off." She bit into her banana. "I feel kind of sorry for him in that regard."

"I didn't think of it that way." He looked down at the shopping bags, "You really think these are gifts to buy your love?"

"I know they are."

"Ugh, there are so many." Brianna whined as they pulled the bags out of the Honda's trunk. "Why don't you keep them? It's not nice to return gifts to people."

Madison bit her inner cheek briefly, "You just don't get these people do you? Remember when I said that all people like us could be was toys?"

She nodded as she shut the trunk and began to gather up some of the bags.

"This is what being a toy is. They buy you stuff to keep you happy until they are bored with you, then leave."

"At least they leave you with thousands of dollars worth of stuff." Brianna said as they headed in from the parking lot, which was vacant as usual except for the professor's vehicles.

Eyes fell on them as they walked in with the bags that were clearly marked with stores that the two girls could obviously never afford. It surprised Madison that no one questioned her; no one gave their usual glares, or tried to trip them. She wasn't sure what had happened over night, but had an idea that Darick might be involved.

"Ok, we are going to throw the bags at his feet and leave." Madison told her, "Don't linger, just walk away."


"For dramatic effect."

"You promised I would see Brad."

Madison sighed, "You will, but briefly. It will remind him of you, but show him that you aren't interested."

"But I am interested."

"Yes, but if he thinks you aren't, he'll be more aggressive in coming after you."

Brianna grinned widely, "Alright!" Her grin faded, "What if he wants to talk to me?"

"Give him the cold shoulder and keep walking. You have to look like you are united with me. He'll think that Darick is ruining it for him and come apologize to you." They made their way to the court and Madison's eyes deadlocked on Darick. She didn't hear anymore of Brianna's questions.

Darick smiled as she approached and stepped away from the tree that he and his group were using as shade. "I see you got my gifts."

Madison threw them at his feet, "What part of me kicking you in the balls made you think that I wanted anything to do with you?"

He and the other three guys chuckled.

"She kicked you?" The girl with the light brown hair in a pink summer dress asked as she clung tightly to Grady's arm.

Darick looked over his shoulder at her briefly, "Be quiet, this doesn't concern you." His eyes returned to Madison, "They were all bought for you. It's not as if I have any use for them."

"Find someone else to make into your doll, I'm not interested." Madison began to storm away when she realized that Brianna was not with her.

"Those pigtails look adorable on you." Brad said.

Madison turned around in time to watch Brad tug gently on one of Brianna's pigtails. The girl hadn't even dropped the bags she was carrying. Madison debated abandoning the girl there, but instead returned to her side.

She grabbed Brianna's wrists and shook them, "Let go of the bags, Bria."

"Oh." She giggled and looked down briefly as she released them; her eyes went immediately back to Brad's.

"Let's go." She pulled on her arm, but Brianna was locked in place. Reaching up she grabbed her pigtail and pulled her away from the group.

"Ow, Madison, ow!" Brianna yelled as they walked away from the group.

Arion stepped forward, his hair was cut shorter but Madison didn't even look at him. He put his hand on Darick's shoulder and squeezed, "Sorry, man, she just isn't interested."

"I'll make her interested."

Brad laughed, "What are you going to do with all this stuff?" He gently kicked one of the bags.

"Leave them by the tree. She'll accept them eventually." Darick looked over at Kate, "Did you hear me? Move the bags over to the tree."

"Oh right! Sorry!" She released Grady's arm and began to gather up the bags.

"What's your next move?" Arion asked.

Darick shrugged, "I don't know yet, but this isn't over."

"Let her go." Brad walked up beside him, "I know a hundred other girls, this one is nothing special."

He turned his eyes to look at his friend, "I don't want those other girls, I want that one. That makes her special."

"Why? What's so great about her? She wears cheap clothes, she doesn't put on make-up, and she wears the same hairstyle my grandmother has." Grady laughed. "Sure, she could be good-looking, but she's…"

"Enough!" Darick barked. It scared several of the students that were walking by him and they hurried off. "She's just special, alright?"

"We aren't going to help you get her, unless you come up with a better answer than that." Brad sat down under the tree and Arion followed beside him.

Darick walked over to the tree and leaned against it, his eyes went to Kate, "Go to class!"

"Ok!" She chimed with a large smile, and skipped off towards the art building.

"She smiled at me." Darick mumbled and his face grew slightly red.

Grady laughed, "I'm sorry, did you say she smiled at you?" The other guys joined in his laughter. "Girls smile at us all the time, so what?"

"This was different!" Darick yelled, "I was holding some of Arion's drawings while he pissed the second week of classes last year. Some fucker ran by and knocked it out of my hand… I got him back later… anyway, she helped me pick them up; smiled at me, and told me not to worry; there were a lot of jerks like that here."

"So?" Grady rose an eyebrow.

"So, she didn't know who I was. She thought I was just another student who was being picked on. Her smile was genuine! She didn't want anything from me! All she wanted was to help me for a moment in my life!" He kicked the tree.

"You're stupid." Arion laughed. "She probably doesn't even remember helping you, and if she did you've already destroyed any good image she had of you."

"Fuck you. I'm stupid? What's with the hair cut and dressing like Aries? Where's your black jacket?" Darick pinched the shoulder of Arion's t-shirt.

"My mother's in town and you know how she wants us to dress alike." Arion groaned.

The boys laughed, "Didn't have time to hide your hair being longer then?" Asked Grady.

Arion shrugged and looked up at Darick, who was watching where Madison had disappeared into the distance. The other two realized what he was doing as well.

"I could probably help you." Brad put his hand on Darick's shoulder.

Darick turned his eyes to him, "What do I need to do?"

Brad crossed his arms and sucked on his bottom lip, "I'm not used to getting the guarded girl, but I think I might have some ideas."

Madison sat on the stairs with a sigh of relief. She had feared that the Rags would be there waiting for her, but it was empty. After Arion had seen her hiding space near the library, she knew it was only a matter of time before Darick knew about it. She just hoped that Aries didn't blab everything he saw to his brother. Being that they were twins, she had her doubts about the safety of her hiding space. She had often heard that twins were much closer then normal siblings. However, if that was so then she didn't understand why they allowed Darick to separate them.

Shaking her head, she pulled out her peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Unwrapping it, she mumbled to herself about forgetting the entire incident yesterday and that morning. It was better to forget that anything happened, so she could move on and return to the shadows like she wanted.

Brianna hadn't left a note on the stairway that morning, and that had been another reason that Madison had returned. She didn't want those snobby rich brats reading Brianna's inner most thoughts. It turned out that she didn't have to worry about it, and was somewhat glad for it. As it meant that Brianna was adjusting to her life here or she was mad at Madison for tearing her away from Brad. Either way, it didn't bother her in the slightest.

Opening her psychology handbook, she began to prepare for the test that was coming up next week. A warm breeze blew and she looked up to the garden. She could barely make out the koi pond beyond the budding bushes. It was a nice day, much warmer then the day before. No need for sweaters except for the occasional wind but it was rather warm.

Her eyes fell on the large tree in the distance and a frown formed on her face. That one plant had tainted her serene view of the garden, because she knew what stood underneath. Another question came to mind as she sat there. The Rags had told her that they normally ate lunch under that tree. She wondered if Darick and his group had taken it over and they were just looking for another quiet place to have lunch.

A deep chuckle made its way up the stairs and Arion sat down beside her. "What are you doing here, Arion?"

"Aries." He tugged on his hair, "It's shorter."

Madison brought her brow together, "Arion had the same haircut this morning and was wearing similar clothes."

"Saw my brother, did you? You two dating behind Darick's back?" He grinned and looked towards the tree.

"I thought your friend said that the Rags ate under that tree. Did Darick run you guys out?"

Turning his attention back to her, he kept his grin. "Nope. We ate near the tree, not actually under it. More in the garden away from Darick's eyes. I just like to stay close to my brother." He leaned against the wall.

"You miss him?"

Aries snorted, "Why would I miss him? I see him every night at home."

Madison cocked her head to the side, "Because you seem the type to attach yourself to people, especially your twin brother. Which is why you ate lunch so close without his knowing, so you could be with him but not get him in trouble with Darick."

"Whatever." He laughed.

"That's why you joined the Rags. The thought of being alone killed you, and you needed some reason to be close to your brother. Are you afraid of him not needing you anymore?"

His eyes slanted, "You don't know anything about me."

"You're right, I don't. That doesn't mean I can't come to my own conclusions based on what I have seen and been told thus far. I've always been good at figuring out what makes others tick even after meeting with them only briefly." Madison closed her book and looked towards the tree.

Aries swallowed and kept his deep frown.

"That's probably why you are here now. After I gave you Arion's jacket, you realized that I had a connection with him. Which meant that if you attached yourself to me, eventually your brother would be along. Or perhaps, it wasn't just the jacket. Arion may have informed you of the time we spent together behind the library or at the café."

"Why are you saying these things?"

Madison smirked, "Because you also strike me as a person who doesn't like when others know them. You like to be the mysterious stranger that people call friend, but never really get close to. So, if I have you all figured out then you'll be terrified of me. Your way of thinking is that no one should know you as deeply as your brother does. Therefore, you will want to keep your distance from me, which is my intention." She turned her eyes back to her book and began to read.

Aries ripped the book from her hand, "You knew I was Aries the moment I sat down, didn't you? You were just fucking with me."

"Yes, I did."

He handed the book back to her, "How do you do that?"

"Do what?"

"Know everyone's innermost thoughts when all they say to you is hello."
Madison chuckled, "I've seen you around with the Rags. I could tell by the way you talk and how you hold yourself when you walk. It had nothing to do with the way you said hello, because you never said it." She opened her book back up and began to read.

"So, you've been studying me, eh? Should have written me a love letter or something." He gently shoved her shoulder.

"I wasn't studying you. I am just one of those people who understands people similar to myself."

"How am I similar to you?"

"We both hate being alone, so we attach ourselves to anyone who is an easy target. The Rags, who don't really belong here and are thrown from the general public, for you. Other people who are bullied and alone for me. Plus, we both have really bitter attitudes that keep people from trying too hard to get close." She turned her eyes to him, "I also know that if someone had just told me what I told you, I would have turned tail and run by now. That is if my motives were just a passing interest. You've stayed and even asked questions, so I am curious as to what motive keeps you here?"

"You're a lot deeper person then you look. You're… you're a thinker, aren't you? You put a lot of thought into what you do and say to make sure everything you do and say is perfectly in your control."

Madison smiled, "So do you. Therefore I ask again, what is your motive for being here?"

"A passing interest that just got a whole lot more involved."

"You are flirtatious like your brother as well, albeit more subtle." Madison realized she hadn't been eating her sandwich and bit into it.

"I'm more aggressive then him as well."

"Hmm." She turned her head as Aries leaned forward to kiss her cheek. Instead he laid the gentle peck on her lips. Madison began to gag on her sandwich as Aries stood up with a chuckle and headed down the stairs. After a moment, she was able to regain her composure and swallow down her food, though it was too late to respond Aries's behavior as he had left.

"And they even invited me to a party this weekend!" Brianna skipped as they walked to the café. "Erica Sumpter, do you know her?" She didn't give Madison time to respond, "She and I wear the same sizes, so she said I could wear one of her dresses. Isn't that nice of her? She even wants to do my hair and make-up!" She giggled and clapped her hands.

"Just be careful when you go, Bria."

"Coal is always so suspicious of others."

"Don't talk to me in the third person." Madison stuck out her tongue. "Besides, it's good to be suspicious of these types of people. I wish the best for you, I really do. I want you to make friends and be happy. It's all you've ever wanted since you joined CHU, but you just need to watch yourself. Alright?"

Brianna's skipping stopped and she dropped her head, "Alright. I understand." She took Madison's hand and swung it back and forth as they walked.

"You know what?"

Brianna rose an eyebrow and looked at her out of the corner of her eye.

"There was no candy in my locker this morning." Madison played with her backpack's strap, "I was a little disappointed."

She giggled and jumped once before releasing Madison's hand, "Hoping it was a secret admirer like I said, huh?"

"Maybe a little."

Brianna threw her arm around Madison's waist under her backpack, "You know what?"


"Even if it was, he's a coward and doesn't deserve you."

Madison laughed, "Oh, and why is that?"

"You need a guy that doesn't hold back, and isn't afraid to say what's on his mind. You resist people too much, so he has to be determined and undaunted of your constant rejection. Because you would reject him, over, and over, and over, and over, and over…"

"I get it." Madison frowned, "Almost sounds like you are trying to sell that Darick asshole to me."

Brianna shook her head, "Oh god no. I mean… well… actually, yeah. Someone like him would work. Unfortunately, you haven't seen hide nor hair of him since you threw his gifts at him. So, obviously he isn't the one for you." She giggled again, "The right guy for you, would have come and sat with you at lunch even after you did that. He would be walking with you to work asking you out over, and over, and over, and over…"


"Until you said yes." She laughed.

"You are way too hyper today, Bria." Madison sighed, "I guess it's nice that one of us is happy though."

"Oh yeah, by the way." Reaching up she grabbed Madison's braid and yanked down.


"That's for pulling my hair and yanking me away when I was talking to someone."

Madison rubbed the back of her head, "You weren't talking. You were standing there dumbfounded and you looked like a complete moron. You hadn't even dropped the bags yet, I had to shake them out of your hand… you even destroyed my grand exit!"

Brianna opened her mouth to retort when the sound of laughter hit them. Both girls looked over their shoulders at the group of four familiar boys.

"Ignore them." Madison said as she grabbed Brianna's hand.

They both began to run down the sidewalk. Madison was a little surprised that Brianna had come so easily, but decided that her friend was probably embarrassed that their discussion had been over heard by Darick and his group. Madison had a pretty good idea of how that felt as she too was feeling slightly humiliated by such a private conversation being publicized to those idiots.

When the café was in sight, both girls stopped running and looked behind them. The guys didn't seem to have chased after them, so they stopped to take some breaths. "That was so embarrassing!" Brianna squealed. "I am never going to talk to them again! How rude was that!"

Madison looked up to see that Brianna's face was bright red, but she wasn't sure if it was a blush from embarrassment or from running. "Those are the kinds of people I am warning you about."

Both girls breathed heavily and tried to calm down before they entered into the café. Fran would be overly curious as to why they had run all the way to work, and neither wanted to deal with explaining the entire situation to her. The woman never understood and would always ask a thousand questions that had nothing to do with the situation.

"Ok, I'm alright. You need to remember that your legs are longer. I was beginning to feel like one of those cartoons. Where the person runs off holding the collar of their shirt and they are just flapping in the wind behind the runner." Brianna stood up straight and waited for Madison who was leaning against the brick building.

Madison laughed, "Sorry."

"What are you girls doing?" Fran yelled from the front door of the café. "Get in here!"

Madison stood up and they both made their way over to Fran, "I need to talk to you."

Fran rose an eyebrow, "About?"

"I have a friend who is badly hurting for a part time job."

The old woman sucked on her bottom lip, "Ok, let's go in the back."

"Are we going in or what?" Grady looked down at his watch which showed five in the evening. "We've been standing here for three hours."

Darick gave him a brief glare and continued to watch Madison wait on tables. He wasn't certain of why she had run away from him before and was afraid of approaching her at that time.

"Darick, come on, I'm hungry. If you don't want to go in, let's go some place else." Brad moaned with his hand on his stomach.

"I agree." Arion was leaning against the brick building behind them. "My legs are tired too."

"Be quiet, I'm thinking." Darick snapped.

"Thinking about what?" Brad groaned, "My stomach is really… hey, isn't that the guy from yesterday that saved light haired girl from you?" He pointed at Alan, who was walking into the café.

"He didn't save her! It wasn't like I was attacking her! She was attacking me!" Darick barked and folded his arms.

His friends laughed as Darick watched Madison hug her friend in front of the door. She then took his hand and lead him towards the backroom. Brianna stopped them half way and kissed his cheek, before Madison and he disappeared into the back.

"Hmm, maybe they are more then friends." Grady joked.

"What? What does that mean?" Darick punched his friend in the arm.

"He means that she is taking him into the backroom for a quickie." Arion chuckled, knowing that it would set his friend off.

Darick rushed towards the café door with his friends behind him. Brianna smiled as they entered, "Welcome back!" She then returned to the table she was waiting on.

The four boys took a seat near the back, where Darick could watch the backdoor. "Maybe he should go back there?" Brad chuckled.

"Don't give him any ideas." Arion warned though there was amusement in his voice.

After a moment, Brianna walked over to their table where she was greeted by a grin from Brad, when she laid down the menus for them. "Can I get you guys something to drink?"

"Did we ask you…" Darick began.

"Yeah, yeah. You want Madison to wait on you, I got it." Brianna waved her hand at him, which caused the others to laugh. "You know if you were a little nicer to people, you might actually have a chance. As it stands now you are nothing more then an annoying fly buzzing around her head."

"I'm a fly?" Darick yelled and slammed his hands on the table, which caused several tables to look at him.

Brianna shook her head as she pressed her lips together, "I really don't like you." She cleared her throat and looked at the others, "The rest of you are ok, though. What do you want to drink?"

"Coffee." All three boys ordered.

"Yeah, coffee." Darick sighed.

"You can wait until Madison comes over to get your coffee, if she's even in the mood to deal with you." Brianna twisted around and walked behind the counter to get their coffee.

"How dare she speak to me like that! She's going to regret…"

"No, Darick, no!" Arion used his napkin to hit him on the head, "She is Madison's best friend. What do you think will happen if you hurt her?"

Darick turned his head to glare at his friend.

"I'll tell you." Grady answered, "She won't forgive you and she'll never…"

"I get it!" He barked.

"Yeah, you should really sweeten up to dark haired girl." Brad nodded as he played with his fork. "She's in the position to convince light haired girl into dating you."

Darick pressed his lips together and frowned, "I don't want to be nice to her."

Arion rolled his eyes, "Of course, you don't. You only want to be nice to Madison, and that's your problem. Brad is trying to be your wing man, but you keep scaring her away."

"As long as she likes me, she'll keep coming back and who do you think will be right behind her?" Brad raised his right hand and let it dangle backwards.

"Three coffees." Brianna put the coffee down on the table.

Arion stepped on Darick's foot on the table and motioned his head towards Brianna.

"I'm sorry that I have been so curt." Darick mumbled, it was barely audible over the sounds of the customers.

Brianna smiled, "Apology accepted."

It surprised them all that she had heard it. Even though she worked in the café everyday and had to get use to hearing people over the sounds of the patrons, Darick had said it in almost a whisper.

"You have great hearing." Brad said with a smile.

"I know, wing man." Brianna grinned as she pulled out her writing pad, "Have you had time to look over the menu?"

"Uh, no, we are still deciding." Grady answered when he realized that Brad had been left speechless.

"That's going to end badly for us." Arion chuckled as Brianna made her way over to another table.

"No shit, you think?" Darick growled.

Madison appeared from the back room with Alan beside her. He was wearing a green apron, and the two laughed as Brianna approached them and pointed at the table.

Walking over to the table, Alan was close behind her. "You want something?" She asked Darick.

"Uh, coffee." Madison looked to Alan, who was pulling out his writing pad. "No, Brianna gave me the order form." She handed it to him. "Just change the three to a four." Her eyes went back to Darick, "I'm training the new waiter; I hope you don't mind." Her words carried a tone that informed him she didn't really care if he did mind, and that was only brought home as she walked away before he could respond.