The Faster You Fall
Chapter One

You are bleak
You are beautiful
No matter what they say
In this light
Tired childish games
Swept us all away

-Funeral For a Friend, Sonny

Angelica is young, gorgeous, and blonde, with an impressive amount of silicone in her breasts. Her eyes are large. They are a predictable shade of blue, and made up with careful shadow and liner that has been artfully smeared to, apparently, express her fear. Her clothing looks pretty more than it actually covers her body. Angelica is very prone to hair flipping.

Angelica is also unknowingly creeping down the hallway towards a famously gruesome serial killer.

Then there is Nicky Marks. He exists in the real world, or pretends to, and is sixteen years old. He stands at around 5'11"; he is skinny enough to make Josh fuss over him and spend hours in the kitchen. His birthday is August 31st, and his parents are two gay men. He has a mouthful of popcorn and keeps forgetting to chew it.

He's gawking at the screen so intently that he doesn't notice his mouth hanging open, displaying see-food, which is, in this case, half-dissolved foamy white blobs, to anyone who cares to look. Not that anyone would look, and not that there is anyone who could do so if they wanted to. He and Josh are alone in the house, and Josh is sitting right beside him.

And he's sort of glad of that, sort of glad that he's there, with his arm securely around Nicky's shoulders, even if he is too engrossed in the television to be much help. Because this R-rated movie—which Nicky begged Josh to rent for him—is slightly scarier than he'd anticipated. Nicky doesn't much enjoy horror movies. In fact, he doesn't like them at all. But everyone at school has seen this, and will just not stop teasing him about the fact that he hasn't. None of them had seemed to be all that disturbed by it, but—a man had been dismembered a minute ago. In agonizingly gory detail.

And now this stupid teenage girl is searching for him, her boyfriend, not knowing that he's become a virtual science project on the ground a few feet away. And, evidently, too stupid to realize that it's not a good idea to run around alone in the lair of a known killer.

Nicky jumps as Josh absently pulls the blanket up higher over their legs, then tries to cover it with a wide, fake grin as Josh turns to look at him with raised eyebrows.

"Tic," he explains casually, jerking his knee again for good measure.

Josh gives him a look that clearly states he isn't fooled. Josh is hard to fool, with his degree in psychiatry and office full of a zillion-and-one books to back it up.

"Uh huh," he acknowledges dryly. He turns back to the TV, his blue eyes reflecting the flashing television lights through the darkness. Nicky wishes he could watch the movie that way; it might feel safer somehow.

But he can't, so he looks back to see Angelica heading into the room her boyfriend's body is in, and immediately forgets all about his 'tic.'

"No! Don't go in there!" He screams before guiltily shooting a look over at Josh. For once, Josh hasn't noticed Nicky's behavioral patterns; he's opening his mouth to yell something of his own.

"No, you dumb bitch! Do you want to get slaughtered?!"

Nicky snickers. He can't help himself. Hearing Josh swear is always like watching the bus hit the girl in Mean Girls—it's morbid, and yet somehow hilarious.

"I heard that, Josh."

Josh, for his part, immediately looks horrified and takes his eyes off the screen again.

"Nicky, you did not. Do not tell your father I said that in front of you."

(Josh—that psych background rearing its ugly head—has all sorts of ideas about the environment your child should grow up in. Swearing is never, ever a part of that environment. And even though Nicky's dad curses freely around him, and even though he's sixteen years old and hears much worse at school—says much worse at school—nothing can be said to convince Josh that it won't ruin Nicky's "development.")

"Uh huh," he teases, glancing back at the screen just in time to see Angelica… get her spine torn out. With a chainsaw. And a spoon. He screams at the top of his lungs before he can stop himself, grabbing crushing hold of Josh. "Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!"

"Oh my God!!" A new girl on the television repeats. Nicky twitches, his fingers loosening. He can feel the laughter rising up into Josh's throat. He doesn't worry about it for long. Onscreen, Angelica's friends have belatedly followed her into the room.

"The killer's in the house!"

At that moment, the door to the living room goes banging back against the wall with a deafening thud, and someone who is definitely not Nicky and definitely not Josh gives a bloodcurdling scream.

Instantly, Nicky and Josh scream too.

And Kay Marks doubles over laughing in the doorway.

"The look… on your faces…" Kay is practically wheezing, literally gasping for breath as he slaps one bronzed hand against the doorjamb to support himself. Nicky, his heart slowly beginning to beat again, hopes he falls. "Wish I… had a camcorder…"

"Dad!" Nicky growls, then, awkwardly, he gives a nervous chuckle. "I… wasn't scared." He gingerly pries his fingers off of Josh's arm. There are white marks left behind, perfect impressions of his finger tips. Nicky clears his throat and tries to surreptitiously rub them away.

"I hate you," Josh scowls at Kay, and his words overlap Nicky's, but his pinched face is already relaxing into a grin. And then he allows himself to laugh, giving Nick a gentle shove for his trouble. "Oh, please. I think you just cracked my ribs."

"I did not! I was—protecting you," Nicky says bitterly.

"You both nearly pissed your pants, now c'mon. Turn off that stupid movie and get into the kitchen."

Josh protests immediately. "But we'll miss the end."

"The end? Please. I can tell it to you right now. Everyone dies, except for the slightly-geeky-but-somehow-very-hot chick. Now get out here. Dinner is getting cold while you two are in here living up to the expectations of our queer household."

"I'm—" Nicky begins heatedly.

"Not gay," his parents finish in unison. Kay picks up the rest this time. "Yes, Nicky, we know. Now go. I picked up pizza."

"Sweet," Nicky blurts, immediately forgetting his grievance, and hurries out of the room. He can hear Josh berating Kay for swearing in front of him

"Was it Nicky yelling about the 'dumb bitch' when I came in?" Kay replies innocently.

"Oh, shut up."