1.

"Shell, stop. You're going to kill yourself," Michael said turning piercing green eyes to his best friend as she balanced on the ledge of the roof. Something was wrong, but she wouldn't tell him what it was.

            "Death is supposed to be the next great journey, though," she said sardonically.

            "Yeah, and if you don't stop you're going to see it real soon," he replied watching her move with cat-like grace. She didn't fool him, though. He knew she was one wrong step away from falling off of the apartment building.

            "Come on, Michael, you should try it," she said throwing her mane of not quite brown hair behind her. He was afraid that the movement might throw her off balance, but it didn't. He walked up behind her and pulled her off of the ledge. Her black skirt flowed around them both. He remembered how she'd looked at the funeral. She hadn't stood with the family. She'd flatly refused to go anywhere near them. Instead she'd stood with his sister, Elizabeth. She still wore the same black shirt and black skirt.

            She fought for a moment then gave in and sat on the cool concrete with him. He put an arm around her, and she laid her head on his shoulder. In minutes she was asleep. It had been like this for the past few months. She would leave home at night and meet him here. She almost always slept there all night. Something was wrong, but she wouldn't say what it was. Then her mother had died a week ago, and she'd become even more withdrawn. He put his coat over her when he noticed that she was shivering.

            Elizabeth appeared in a flash of magic. Shell knew what they were, but they tried not to make her face the reality of having vampires as friends too often.

            "She okay?" Elizabeth asked. Michael shrugged.

            "Physically she's exhausted. Mentally…well, mentally she needs some kind of help.

            "Michael, I know I shouldn't be telling you this, but she wasn't where she said she was that night."

            "Huh? She was with you. We all saw her."

            "Yeah, she was. Then she left. I'm not sure where she went exactly, but…"

            "You think she went home," he stated as a chill made its way up his spine.

            "Where else would she go? You said she wasn't here."

            Michael cursed in several different languages. They'd been stupid not to suspect that maybe she'd seen more than she'd ever admit. Shell had a way of doing that around humans. They just didn't seem to notice her if she stood unobtrusively in the shadows. It might be completely possible that she knew exactly what had happened to her mother. He couldn't bear the thought of her seeing something like that. From what he'd heard her mother's body had been pretty messed up when the police got there.

            "What are we going to do?" he finally groaned.

            "We have to get her to talk. Who knows what kind of danger she's in right now?"

            "Yeah, but you know Shell. How are we going to get her to spill to us?"

            Elizabeth thought for a moment, twirling a piece of white-blonde hair around her index finger. "Maybe we can't, but Mom…" she trailed off.

            "I can't-" He was interrupted by a whimper from the girl asleep in his arms.

            "Shell? Wake up Shell!" he said in what he hoped was a soothing tone.

            She woke up with a scream that would wake the dead. He'd only heard such sounds from demons. She sat up, pale and trembling from whatever she'd been dreaming.

            "Are you okay?" Elizabeth asked gently. Shell didn't answer. She was too busy holding in the tears that threatened to overflow. Suddenly her stomach felt strange and she scrambled to the side of the building and puked. She wiped her mouth and moved away from the edge.

            "Go let Mom know we're coming, Elizabeth," Michael said in a grave voice. His decision was made. Elizabeth nodded and disappeared. Shell, in her dazed state didn't even notice.

            "Shell?" he said trying to get her attention.

            "Yes, Michael?"

            "You okay now?"

            "Of course! It was just a silly nightmare," she said trying to laugh it off.

            "What was it about?" he asked hating the pained look she gave him but wanting the truth. She turned away from him, but he moved so that he was in front of her again. "Tell me," he commanded. She turned her face away again, and he saw that he wasn't getting anywhere with her. He grabbed her arm and silently said the spell that would take them to his home. His mother rushed to meet them. Shell looked more alert than before.

            "What the hell do you think you're doing, Michael?" she asked in a tone he'd missed in the past week. "You know I hate being moved by magic. I feel like I've been run over by a truck you ass."

            "Michelle?" his mother asked in a surprised tone. Shell hardly ever used bad language around her.

            "Sorry Mrs. Johansen," Shell said automatically.

            "That's okay. I understand you've been through something very traumatic."

            "Not really," Shell replied, "lots of kids' parents die."

            "Not in front of them," his mother countered.

            "What do you mean?" Shell asked agitatedly.

            "We know you weren't with Elizabeth," Michael said gently. Shell's face held a flash betrayal before it went back to the cold mask she was wearing. 

            "Of course I was. You saw me, stupid."

            "That was earlier. You left later."

            "I went to the roof. I needed some time to think. Besides, I was tired," she said lying effortlessly.

            "Quit lying. I was there, and I know you weren't."

            She was silent, having been caught in her own lie.

            "Where were you, Shell?" he asked in a pleading voice. She looked at him with large, scared eyes; he'd never realized before now how much red the brown held.

            "I know what you're thinking," she whispered.

            "You know you can tell us anything. Please, just talk to us."

            "No!" she yelled, breaking the quiet.

            "Michelle," his mother broke in, "I want you to look into my eyes." He could sense her trying not to, but she was forced to by the magic his mother wielded. Their eyes remained locked for what seemed like hours before his mother broke the spell. Shell fell into his arms, unconscious. Michael looked at his mother and was surprised to find tears in her eyes beginning to flow down her cheeks. They made bloody paths down her face.

            "What did you see," he asked with growing dread.

            "She saw the whole thing," his mother answered.

            "Who did it?" he asked in a pained tone.

            "Daniel," his mother breathed before passing out as well. Michael's face took on a look of surprise then murderous rage. He was going to kill him for this.

Note from Shadow: Yes, I am evil, so if you want to know who the heck Daniel is you must wait for the next chapter mwahahaha. Thank you to whoever decides to read this! As always, my muse made me do it!! Also, you know that little button that says review? Well it would be really nice if you clicked it and left one!