I hated my hair. It was auburn colored, and naturally straight, but it was getting too long for me to gel it the way I wanted. So I hated it. It was evil hair.

I gave up trying to style it how I wanted and stuck my head under the faucet, turning the cold water on full blast. I came out from under it with a drop of water falling off of my chin. I grinned before shaking my head furiously, showering Haeden with drops of cold water.

He pulled the toothbrush out of his mouth to say, "You baftard!"

"Baftard? We're so keeping that one," I remarked.

Haeden spit out the excess toothpaste and, with a smirk, said, "Even with a mouth full, I'm a genius."

"Come on, genius, we need to grab breakfast before we leave."

We went downstairs, where my mom was making waffles. Sure they were Eggo toaster waffles, but they were waffles, and I loved her for making breakfast for us.

"Morning Miss Cindy," Haeden sing-songed, kissing my mother on the cheek before grabbing a plate and a waffle.

He always called my mom Miss Cindy, and I always called his mom Miss Dourine. That's just the way it was. I loved the small things that we did that never really changed.

I grabbed a grapefruit and sawed it in half with a butter knife, passing half to Haeden and sprinkling Splenda on mine before eating it with a spoon. It was a part of our morning ritual when Haeden and I were living together, which we were.

Miss Dourine had just gone through a bad break-up, and he'd been paying the bills. Miss Dourine was hunting. Either for a job or a man, whichever could pay the bills quickest. Usually, it would be a man.

Haeden finished eating before me and went to start Bumblebee, which is what we decided to name our van. We'd had it painted yellow with a black stripe, so the name fit, and we never lost her in a parking lot.

I cleared the table when I was done, said my I-love-you's with my mother, and went outside. I slipped into Bumblebee's passenger seat with ease and fished a CD out of the glove box. I put it on and felt myself relax.

"I dumped her," Haeden said as he was pulling out of the driveway.


"Yeah. I feel like a douche, but I wasn't interested anymore. And neither was she," Haeden rolled his eyes, "If you catch my drift."

"Uh…?" I didn't catch his drift at all, actually.

"She decided to go celibate," Haeden said, a hint of bitterness in his voice, "And that wasn't working for me."

I couldn't see why not. Haeden had a lot of girlfriends, but he always cheated on them. No girl was the only girl for more than two or three days.

But I didn't say that out loud.

"And you shouldn't feel bad about not wanting to be with her," I said, in an attempt to be comforting, "I mean, it's more douchey to pretend to like her than it is to dump her."

"But Shepard…I…" Haeden struggled to find the words, "Well, you know."

"Yeah, I know," I confirmed, "But the poor girl's going to have to get over it. And eventually, so are you. Maybe being apart is the best way to let it go."

"God, Shep, it was a kid. Could have been a kid," Haeden stared at the road, but didn't really seem to be seeing it, "It could have been a kid. We were stupid, and it never should have happened, but that doesn't mean that it really didn't happen. I mean…I guess she did the smart thing, but why do I feel so guilty, Shep?"

It was October; only two weeks were left until Halloween. That meant Haeden had been with Summer for two months. That was monumental for him. He'd call a girl his girlfriend for two weeks sometimes, if she was a godess in bed. And even then, monogamy was a word he didn't understand at all.

"Because you're not a heartless baftard?" I said, lisping the word bastard to make him smile.

He did, but he looked over at me, and I could see the sadness in his eyes. I reached out to touch his hand, as a comforting gesture, but should have considered our location. We came to a stoplight, and he leaned in and kissed me. I think my head could have exploded.

It ended soon, and I was filled with regret. I didn't know if the regret was that it happened or if the regret was that it didn't last long enough for me.

Haeden and I got to school early, like we always do, and normally we would hang out in the cafeteria until it started getting full and then go sit in the bean-bag chairs in the library's reading room. We didn't go to the cafeteria that day though, because Haeden didn't want to see Summer and she always ate breakfast at school.

There were only two beanbag chairs in the reading room. They were ours, and everyone who hung out in the library in the morning knew it. It was annoying when one of them was taken, but I just sat in Haeden's lap when it happened. When they both were taken, we threw a bloody fit until one, if not both of the people occupying the chairs got up.

Both were empty today, like usual.

The reading room was small, there was a circular table with six plastic chairs and two bean bag chairs. There was a larger one on the other side of the library, so most people hung out there. There was only one computer in ours.

We drug the chairs together, the way we always did. The librarian didn't like that, for some reason, but we did it anyway.

The door was closed. We always closed it, but it felt different today. I could tell by the look in Haeden's eye that he wanted someone. And here I was, almost hoping he would kiss me again.

He caught my eye, and I don't know if I expected to see a predator or a puppy, but I saw neither. He was almost blank.

"What are you thinking, Shep?" he looked at me with those knowing eyes. They looked gray. Sad. Like a rock that had been sitting out in the rain.

"You don't want to know," I answered, looking away for as long as I could.

"Goddammit, Shep, I wouldn't ask if I didn't want to know. You have to tell me," his voice wasn't commanding, though. It was pleading.

"You don't want me," I confessed, "You kiss me because you're a sick, sadistic, lonely person that needs someone, and I'm here. It's not taking advantage of me because I want it…but it doesn't mean anything either. I'm trying to make sense of that…"

"Shepard…" he didn't deny anything because everything was true, "Shep, I don't want to hurt you."

"I know."

"Am I hurting you?"

"You'll always hurt me," I answered honestly. I didn't lie to Haeden. I couldn't, "You're too perfect to not hurt me."

"I'm sorry."

"I know."

"I love you."

"Not how I love you, though," I stated.

"I'm sorry," he reached for me, but I pulled away. He reached again, and I didn't. I let him hold me. And when he looked down, I kissed him, because I knew he wasn't brave enough to do it himself. I would be there for Haeden when he needed it. Even when it tore me in two.

"You can't do this to yourself, Shepard," he pulled away from me with a silly grin on his face, "You can't let me hurt you. If I hurt you, you have to tell me so I can fix it."

You can't fix it. You'll never be able to fix it.

"I know you're doing that thing where you want to say something, but you think it instead. I can see it written all over your face," Haeden accused.

I grinned at him, and instead of saying what I was thinking, I said, "We're fucked up. Both of us."

"I know."

First period was English, Haeden's worst subject. We had it together, like we had most our classes together. The only class we didn't share was second period. Haden had flunked biology freshman year, and it set him back. We never had science classes together anymore.

Our teacher was lecturing about something, and I was writing the key points down without really paying any attention. Haeden was texting me, like he always was when we couldn't be talking. Never mind that our school had a strict no-cell-phones-during-class policy.

'You sure ur okay?' he sent.

'I'm fine. U shouldn't worry so much,' I replied.

'Lol, d'you see anna farris? She isnt wearing panties and i can totally see up her skirt. She's grinnin at me.'

'I don't need to hear that. Anna's a nice girl.'

'REAL nice in my opinion.'

I grimaced and texted, 'Don't fuck anna. Shes a virgin.' Anna was a really nice girl. Our moms knew each other. Sometimes Anna confided in me when she couldn't talk to anyone else. She was a virgin, and lately, her friends had been making fun of her for it. She wanted to lose her virginity by any means necessary, because she couldn't stand being ostracized. She had a lot of self-esteem issues and always wanted to be accepted by everyone.

'So r u. Does that make u unfuckable? No.' Across the room, I saw him smirk.

'My virginity isn't an issue. Annas is. U'll hurt her.'

'I've hurt a lot of girls. They bounce back sooner or l8er. And ur virginity is too an issue. Are u gonna be a prude forever?'

'I'm not a prude! I'm just waiting for Mr. Right.'

'Uh-huh. Who's he?'

I actually typed out, 'You,' but erased it before sending it. That would be stupid. Instead I sent, 'Idk. He's tall dark and handsome. Trustworthy and out of the closet. Likes good movies and soy milk. My mom likes him. Your mom does too.'

In essence, I described Haeden. Other than being out of the closet and liking soy milk.

'That's y ur a virgin. Ur to picky.'

'I don't mind being a virgin, t.y.'

'Only cuz u don't know what ur missing.'

I changed the subject. I didn't want to get into talking about sex with Haeden. It hurt too much.

Everything went as usual the rest of the day. After school, we hung out at a cute little smoothie bar/coffee shop place that we both absolutely loved. It was called Amerezza, which meant something in Italian. The owners were wonderfully quaint and really loud. We loved it there.

We began setting up plans for Halloween.

Halloween was our holiday. We spent pretty much all the holidays together, but Halloween was special. We had dozens of traditions, some old as us, and some fairly new.

Since we were eleven, we'd gone to see the midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It was amazing. When we were twelve, we decided to dress like girls, and kept it rolling through the years. At fourteen, we didn't want to go trick-or-treating before the movie, so we decided to blow up pumpkins. That one survived too. Over the years we'd gotten fire crackers, matches and lighter fluid, and the occasional air pump. Some ideas were duds, but others were phenomenal. We took them off into the woods to blow; neither of our moms would let us do it in the driveway anymore.

We would normally blow the pumpkins at twilight, and at about eight, we started getting dressed. At ten, one of our moms would drive us into the city and we'd bus hop until we got to the theater, but this year we could drive. No bus hopping for us. We were planning on sleeping in the parking lot of the theater too, courtesy of Bumblebee's air mattress.

Haeden always got invited to a ton of parties, and me too by default sometimes, but we never took anyone up on them on Halloween. For years, we didn't tell anyone but our closest friends where we were going, but one year a guy on our hockey team saw us at a gas station and snapped a picture with his phone. That picture was the hot forward of the moment for two days. We went to school the day after Halloween and had to explain everything, though Haeden wanted to let them think we were just drag queens. I guess it wasn't so abnormal for guys to dress as girl for Halloween, but with us people thought it was a big deal. Maybe because we really did look like girls. We took it seriously. No one could understand why, but that was okay. It was our thing. No one else was supposed to understand.

After strawberry-banana-blasts at Amerezza, we headed home, but we were still talking about plans for Halloween. We were both so excited. We thought this Halloween would be the Halloween to trump all Halloweens. It was going to be life changing, we thought. I don't think we really believed what we were saying at the time, but we were right.

a/n: Ammerezza means bittersweet in Italian. The shop sells coffee and smoothies, I thought it fit. Fruit is sweet and coffee is bitter...w/e. The word's pretty. :P

T.y. for the faves and alerts and reviews! More would be nice; I'd love to know what y'all are thinking.

And even though I don't really care for review replies being posted as author's notes, I must ask, Dez, what in the world were you thanking me for, honey? I appreciated the review even more than I normally would, but you confused the hell out of me. Whatever it is, you're welcome. And BTW, I wrote this chapter faster in hopes that you would leave another review and explain. See? People, reviews DO make people write faster. I've said my peace.