My mother's disapproval danced and played in my mind when I woke up. Haeden was still asleep and I looked at him with my most critical eye. How did he hypnotize me the way he did? What gave him that power?

When my dad died, my mom was messed up for a really long time. I learned really fast not to get in trouble or say anything out of line because it would just end up in a crying fit. I couldn't stand my mother's tears. It didn't take long for Miss Dourine to see that my mom needed help; she and Haeden moved in just before we were to start preschool.

Haeden didn't understand that my mom was fragile and he got in trouble often. I started taking care of him to take care of my mom than anything else. I didn't let him skip his assignments or fight with any of the other kids. He was a handful, but by the time we were in first grade, we were inseparable. Mom was still fragile but a lot better. I didn't have to watch Haeden's every step for her anymore but I still did; I did it for me.

I suppose I had a complex; I feared that if I didn't watch him closely, I would lose him just like I had lost my father. Nothing could happen to him if I was near; I wouldn't allow it.

Our mothers would come to understand our bond, but at that time, they didn't. When we were eight, Miss Dourine met a man and she and Haeden moved into the city. I had developed a bad case of separation anxiety since my father's death and every day that I didn't see Haeden was a day I spent forcing myself to wake up and breath. I didn't feel complete without him. What if he got hurt? What if I got hurt?

A year was spent that way, and it was one of the worst of my life. When Miss Dourine got dumped and came back to us crying, I hated myself because I was the happiest I had been in a long time.

Haeden had changed in the city; he was even more bold, even more daring, but I didn't care. I clung to him like he was a life raft specifically designed to keep me afloat. Without him, I felt I was drowning, alone and cold.

Miss Dourine worked her way through boyfriends but she and Haeden never moved out of the school district. And they always came back to Mom and I when things didn't work out.

As we grew older, I learned not to attach myself physically to Haeden so much, but my emotional clinginess only got worse. When we hit adolescence, he began hanging out with the "popular kids" but never abandoned me. Everyone else left their childhood friends in the dust but Haeden stayed by my side. I, on the other hand, rarely associated with anyone else. I analyzed my relationships as risk-reward situations; was anyone else worth the risk? I didn't really think so.

Even as I realized that Haeden was going to take advantage of me, I didn't care. The things he did to me and the things he took from me were all sacrifices I was willing to make to keep him. I had fallen into a trap; I had no one else. No one else understood me the way Haeden did and no one else wanted to. No one would ever share the traditions and memories we did. No one else helped me overcome my father's death. No one else would put up with my anxiety the way Haeden did.

When it came down to it, I knew I took advantage of him as much as he took advantage of me. We were locked in a sick symbiosis, but he had the upper hand. He had the power to leave, which would hurt me more than anything he could do to me if he was by my side; I didn't. I could never walk away from him.

At half past two I tore myself from my own head and crawled out of the bed. I was really hungry so I pulled on my sweatpants and walked out downstairs.

I dug through the refrigerator and decided to make a sandwich. With a critical eye, I examined my ingredients. The perfect sandwich is not overpowered by meat nor is it made soggy by too many vegetables or condiments. I was making mental blueprints when the doorbell rang.

I left the kitchen and opened it. Shirley stood before me, her eyes scrutinizing. I was confused for a moment before remembering that I wasn't wearing a shirt. I flashed her my best lopsided 'Don't ask' grin.

"You got out of school early," I commented, ushering her in and closing the door behind her.

"It was an inservice day, Shepard," she scoffed, "there was no school."

I looked at her for a moment before wordlessly beginning the construction of my sandwich. Without asking, she began to make herself one too.

"Where's Haeden?" she asked, "Out with some floozy?"

"No. He's asleep upstairs."

"At three o'clock?"

"Yeah, he's tired," I muttered, averting my eyes.

"Huh, that's funny. Was he up really late last night?" the tone of Shirley's voice was knowing, but of course, she wouldn't admit to knowing anything. She had to force the information out of me.

"I don't know."

"I thought you guys were inseparable. Did-"

"Okay, fine, Shirley. We slept together. Are you happy?" I gave up early, knowing she wouldn't cease until I told her.

"When? Last night?"

"The first time was after Halloween. Then again this morning," I admitted.

"Oh my gosh! Is he amazing?" she raised an eyebrow and grinned devilishly at me, "All the girls say he is."

"I don't have much to compare to..." I mumbled, "but I thought so."

Shirley rolled her eyes. "Way to further the stereotype. The most popular guy in school is great in bed."

"Keep your mouth shut. I don't think he wants everyone to know anything. He hasn't even told Mike."

"You know I wouldn't run my mouth on you. No matter how bad I want to ruin his pretty-boy reputation..."

I glared at her.

"I just said I wouldn't!"

Haeden's reputation and the potential detriment of it was a subject of constant debate between us. Shirley thought that Haeden was an ass. I didn't always disagree but I didn't want his school life to be hell either.

"I should go wake him up," I said, walking away so as not to get angry at her.

I walked up the stairs and opened my bedroom door quietly. Haeden was curled up in a ball in the middle of the bed, still naked and snoring softly. I sat down on the bed and put one hand on his shoulder. "Wake up."

He stirred but didn't open his eyes.

"Haeden," I shook him lightly, "you need to wake up."

His eyes fluttered open at that and he looked up at me with a million-dollar-smile. "What time is it?"

"After three. Shirley's downstairs," I walked over to the dresser and began throwing him clothes.

"Oh. What is she doing here?"

"She just came by," I said, pulling a shirt on.

"Did you-"

I cut him off. "Yeah, I told her. Is that a big deal?"

He bit his lip and began dressing himself. "I guess not if you don't think so."

I smiled at him. "I don't think so."

"I'll be lucky if she doesn't kill me though; you do know that," he mused, "She's like a mama-bear and I deflowered her precious cub."

I rolled my eyes. "I think she'll be fine."

"You're seriously lucky that I love you. Come on, let's go downstairs and face my executioner."

My heart skipped. What did he say?

Shirley didn't kill Haeden, but she did send many glares in his direction. It was pretty uncomfortable; Shirley usually had enough tact to at least be civil towards him. Maybe Haeden was right about her being upset about my defloration.

"So, when's the party, boys?" she asked after removing the stick up her butt, which took about forty-five minutes.

"Not sure yet," Haeden replied, "We're thinking of skipping it this year."

Haeden had a reputation for throwing wild parties, and usually I played the part of drunk-sitter and maid. Haeden had connections and friends and ways of getting ahold of things I normally didn't even think about. I didn't usually think about it, but he was prominent in our local party-scene.

"How can you skip it? Aren't you supposed to celebrate your birthdays?"

I zoned out after that; the last thing I wanted to do was listen to them argue. I hadn't been too far gone for too long when I heard my phone ring. I excused myself and ran to answer it.

By some combination of speed and luck, I made it before it stopped ringing. "Hello?" I answered.

"Hi, Shepard. You sound tired," Ethan's voice sing-songed through my cell phone.

"I had to run to answer," I explained, laying down on the bed. "What's up?"

"I texted you about the show next weekend, right?"

"I think so. I haven't been keeping up with my phone today," I said, biting my thumb. I had to remind myself to keep my eye on it.

"Well it's on Friday the Thirteenth," he laughed, "It'll be awesome if no one dies or anything."

"Sounds like. I'd love to go."

"Cool! It's an underground rock scene so it gets a little wild, but it's a lot of fun," Ethan elaborated, "Dress wild. But no girl's clothes."

I grinned. "Make-up's okay, right?"

Ethan was so easy to joke with, so easy to talk to.

"If you dress like that," Ethan said in a more serious tone, "you'll catch a lot of grief. I'll fight for you if I have to, but I'd really rather avoid it."

"Point taken. I'll avoid all my rainbow clothes too."

"Black is your best bet," he advised, "Neons would be fun."

"I do have access to neon green leather pants," I reminded him.

"The ones your friend wore on Halloween? That would make a statement."

"If I wear a pink shirt I can look like a watermelon," I laughed at the thought.

"Wow. You do a little bit more outfit planning; I have to go back to work," he groaned dramatically, "Dude bailed on us today and I have to work the counters."

"Why do you get to have all the fun?" I asked sarcastically.

"I'm just a lucky dude."

We said our goodbyes and I hung up my phone and put it in my pocket. I was overcome with a sudden rush of giddiness. I was going to a rock concert with a friend. How normal; how exciting.

When I went downstairs, Shirley had already left, opting out of sitting alone in a room with Haeden. I wasn't very surprised but I was a little ticked off that she hadn't said goodbye.

"Was that your mom?" Haeden asked, "She said she'd call but I didn't expect her to call your cell phone."

"No, that was Ethan. We're going to go see a concert on the thirteenth," I told him as I sat down next to him on the couch.

"Isn't Ethan the movie theatre guy?"


"And you're going to go to a concert with him? You barely know him!" Haeden pointed out crossley.

"He's a nice guy and he helped me out," I defended, "We've been texting and he invited me. It sounds like fun so I'm going."

"He's probably hitting on you."

"He isn't!"

"Is he straight?" he demanded.


"Then he's fucking hitting on you, Shepard!" Haeden exclaimed, "You're just too blind to see it!"

"So what if I am? I don't want anything like that from him so it doesn't matter," I argued, "I just want to go see a show with a friend."

"What are you going to do if he, like, rapes you or something?" Haeden was getting flustered and nonsensical.

"Ugh!" I stood up and faced him, "I guess I'll just take it then, won't I? He's not going to do anything like that!"

"How do you know?"

"You are so fucking impossible!" I started walking away towards the kitchen but he grabbed my arm.

He was standing up and there was an intensity in his eyes that reminded me of an predatory animal. "Just because we aren't holding hands and skipping through fields of flowers doesn't mean you can run around."

"But you can?" I challenged.

"I'm not running around with other guys! It's different!"

"I'm going to that concert, Haeden. It's not a date and I don't have to listen to you. I'm fucking going!"

"Whatever. I don't get you."

That hurt but I walked away anyway. I held my head high until I made it up to my room and then I cried until I couldn't any more. I didn't leave my bed for the rest of the day.

a/n: I don't usually do review replies but...

JHeartbreak: This chapter is for you! I hope I answered some of your questions. (I really appreciate that you give me reviews that are more than 'omg, good job, dude' (though those are nice too) And yes, I'm a lesbian that writes slash. Haha.