She'd been the careless to his careful, and he could never forget that-forget her. Even months after she'd shut the door on his fingers, he could still sense the lingering of her lovespell lotion on the one suit he owned. A gray spot on his shirt remained were she'd wiped her mascara.

Two months later, when they met again, pondering over their stressful scedules, he'd been amazed at how much she'd changed-the small lump of fat that drooped over her jeans had ultimately disappeared; she'd tamed her mass of curly hair and chopped into a sleek bob that matched her cat like eyeliner. Instead of returning with a new purse, she wore something different on her arm-a boy. A dashing boy. The type of boy that adolenscent girls cooed over and eyed with averace.

Julian remembered Frances standing in the door way as if she'd walked into her own self-made mess. Casey, upon siting Julian, dropped his glance to the floor. At the same time Julian decided Frances was a raging whore, he also relized that Casey was cowardly, and not nearly as cool as his vest and hat combo suggested. He'd passed the two, trying to show as little emotion as possible.

The memory flashed in his head, as he waited for Casey to emerge from the crowd of overweight tourists.

It'd taken only a little bit of convincing on his dad's part to let him skip three days of working so he could drive to the city and meet up with a "friend", a proposal that would normally lead to fat no and a run through of all the bad things that infested New York. Perhaps years of Julian's exceptional conduct proved him responsible. Or perhaps he would have done anything to get back the normal Julian, whatever that meant.

As he scratched his head, he recognized Casey samwhiched in a throng of confused tourists, desperate to peel himself out of the crowd. Julian gave him a wave.

"Oh hey there," Casey's smile appeared friendly, reminding him of an awkward adult who wasn't quite sure how to speak to teenagers. "You look...different."

Julian forced a smile. "Thanks I guess."

After their stiff encounter, Casey led him to their first destination, The Merrimak, a world renown ballat studio, where Frances danced before enrolling into Northwestern. Along the way, Casey filled Julian in with the details. How her parents hired a search team to look through the cities' forshaken allies and parks, nothing. How they'd dialed all her distent friends, nothing. How they'd looked around Northwestern campus for traces of her-weather it be her feathers or the bow she wore the night of her performace, nothing.

"Wait, so if they've already looked here, then why are we coming back?" Julian couldn't help but ask.

"For clues, I guess. I thought maybe one of us could figure something out."

Having nothing to say, Julian stayed silent as the city air steamed his cheeks. They had nothing more to talk about, so they remained quiet for the rest of the walk. Julian prefered this, for the constant whiz of traffic made it hard to communicate. The towering buildings silenced his thoughts.

They spent the next several hours jumping from check point to check point. Upon entering Franceska's old dance studio, his entire body went into culture shock from the glisening chandaler and the gold accents. Whereas before the traffic and a thosand other sounds produced cacophony with his thoughts, in the dance studio only three sounds seemed privalent-girlish giggles, gossip and music. Music as lovely as the dancers themselves, who stuffed their change of clothes in designer purses. At first he wanted to stay their until the sun kissed the horizon, but soon realized that his dingy apparal clashed with the studio's pastels. Then he felt simply adift.

In addition to exploring her dance studio, they also visited Laurel Middle School and the indoor gymnasism, where Franceska received private Tennis lessons. Although he received glances into the world he didn't belong (her world), he'd failed to notice any clues that might have pointed to her whereabouts; most of the evidence, such as planned service hours and a job at a dance company, suggested that she had not run away, but rather, gotten stuck in different circumstances.

Once they had finished their journey, they decided to grab cheap food at a cornerstone deli. While eating, Julian asked, "Do you think she got kidnapped?"

Rather than dismiss him as childish, Casey gave the answer consideration. "I can't say. I mean you were the one last with her. What do you think?"

Julian shrugged.

"Do you think her disappearence has anything to do with Blake?" Casey asked.

"I doubt it, considering he's locked up."

"True," Casey paused, "All I know, is that even when things were the worst, she never stopped dancing. So for her to pass up the chance for a job at the company, something better must have been thrown her way."

"Yeah..." Julian made a face-the kind of face someone makes when they've run out of things to say. His posture stiff and formal, Casey stared at the pavement, as if he were trying to find words to fill the silence.

"What was it like having music class with him?" Julian asked shyly.

"Terrifying. Even when he played fast songs, you could tell his mind was on something else. Ya know? Always got some crazed look when he played. But god he was talented."A haunted look flickered on his face, then disappeared like the flashing billboards in Time square. "Gosh, I always knew he was fucked up, but I never thought him capable of doing what he did. What do you think?"

Regretting his question, Julian could feel the food lurging in his stomach. "Well he certianly did hate Thomas."


Why? Because Thomas, unlike Julian, didn't shutter at Blake's coy smile and death threats. Because underneath his pudge, lay years of martial arts training. Because Thomas represented the wall that seperated him from his glistening treasure, Alice, whom he lusted after like a lion lusts for prey.

"It's complicated," he told Casey, trying to surpress the image Blake. "But does this place have a bathroom?"

"Yeah, but you'll have to go to the back of the building, outside." Casey gesturend towards a narrow alley that led to a courtyard filled with rusted fire escapes and brick buildings.

Without thinking, Julian bolted to the courtyard, making sure he was out of Casey's sight.

Before he could reach for the door, someone grabbed his arms and muffed his mouth, giving him no chance to scream. Blake, he thought. He killed Thomas, now it's my turn. He jerked Julian's body backwards and grabbed his legs. He squirmed trying to free himself of their grasp, but Blake was as strong he was weak. Even when he pulled and squirmed and thrashed like fish trying to escape a net, he knew his efforts were only irrations, for he continued to tug at his arms, before dropping him on the ground. Blake used his claws as hand cuffs.

Imagining his ragged blonde hair brushing his cheek, he wondered what Blake would whisper after he finished snapping all the bones in his body. Would he talk about Thomas in those moments as he fell? Or would he simply laugh like he did various times after he'd decorated Julian's body with cuts and bruises?

He didn't know. Only continued to reach out, call out, wait out until he got an answer. The answer he got was a man calling his name. "JULIAN!"

"CASEY!" He screamed, expelling all air from his lungs. The faster Casey ran, the further away he seemed, until finally his world became nothing more than sea of black. Now, he would die a merely a footnote in the city's history of crime.

[Author's Notes: This chapter is a work in progress. Because I did this on my laptop, the spelling is really bad. Correcting it isn't worth it. Material in this chapter subject to change XD]