Dropping onto the bar behind her, Lily panted heavily, watching the DDR scores on the screen come to a stop. This was it, she was either done, or just beginning. If she lost this one, it was back to the arcades for another year or so until she was good enough to compete in school. She gasped when the scores came up, both A's. Looking over at the girl next to her, she saw the same pained expression on her face. Now it was either a judge's call or 'good sportsmanship' that determined the winner.

A teacher was called up, thankfully a younger one that actually knew about this game. After close examination of the screen, he noticed 15 more perfects on Lily's side and declared a winner. Shaking hands with the girl next to her, she muttered things about it being close and stepped down from the pad. Not many people were still in the gym that was set up as the competition. It was past midnight, so many had grown bored and left or been defeated and left.

A few people congradulated her on their way out and she nodded, picking up her water and drinking what was left. It was semi-warm and not very refreshing, but much better than nothing. Looking around, she saw the boys were still competing. The competition was 5 dollars to get into, 2 dollars just to watch, and the top boy and the top girl were sent on to a professional tournament. She was going to New York City. Not very far away from New Jersey, but she'd never been.

Wandering over to the boys' side, she saw that most of the people were gone, only a few crowded around the last two male competitors. Unfortuneately, one of them was Brendan, her ex boyfriend. The other was a somewhat nerdy guy she'd seen around school but never talked to. She hoped the nerd would win. Sitting down in a chair, she played with her empty water bottle, watching the dancers go at it. She could tell Brendan was gonna win already. The nerd was nervous and kept missing. Lily sighed, getting up and throwing her bottle in the trash. Turning toward the door, she started walking when she was stopped by a voice on a megaphone.

"Tonight's winners have been announced. Brendan Hawthorne and Lily Quintine." Lily shivered as his name rang out so quickly. "Please, you two, come to me and we'll get everything put together so you can be on your way to the tournament this weekend."

She sighed and turned around but stopped dead when her eyes fell center on a chest. A male chest. She followed the chest to the neck to the face and saw Brendan staring back at her. Her mouth went dry and her knees shook. She felt as if she was going to fall, his hand shot out and grabbed her upper arm. Lily almost did fall, but his other hand steadied her even more.

"You ok?" He asked, his green-blue eyes staring into hers.

"I'm fine." She jerked her arm away. "Let's go up there." Tossing her long, reddish brown hair that was currently done up in a pony-tail for the tournament, she sped past him to the make-shift stage area. Brendan followed behind her and they stood side by side while a few people applauded, most had left after they were announced and they were handed packets to sign and get signed with details about the up-coming competition.

After more applause, they were allowed to leave and Lily made her way to the door, pulling her hoodie over her head. It was early December and freezing outside, especially at night. She would've brought a heavier coat, but it was a DDR competition and she didn't want to leave it unguarded. Standing outside, she shivered and looked around for Wayne's car. It wasn't there.

"Great, just fucking great..." She muttered, rubbing her hands. He had probably come here early, gotten impatient and left. Or he just never came. Sighing, she shoved her hands in her hoodie's front pocket and started down the sidewalk, away from her high school. About halfway down, a large car drove by her, too close to the sidewalk and hit a puddle, throwing water over half of her body. Screaming in surprise, and from the almost freezing water, she shook what she could from her sleeves and slid the hoodie off, finding it more logical to walk in the cold with a wet shirt than a wet hoodie. Her shoes made squishy noises as she sped up, the cold hitting her fast and almost stealing her breath.

"Assholes..." She sighed, wrapping her arms around herself, trying to keep warmer. She was about halfway down the second street when another car pulled up next to her, stopping. She tried to ignore it, turning her head away and hoping whoever it was wasn't some kidnapper. It was nearly 1 AM, prime time for pedaphiles looking for high school girls.

"Lily? Why're you walking?" The car's window rolled down and she looked over to see Brendan's figure behind the wheel of his black truck. He opened the door and came around to her. "Why are you not wearing your jacket? What the hell, is that water all over you?" He opened the passenger door. "C'mon, I'll take you where you need to go."

"No, I'm fine." She said firmly, tossing her hair once more at him and continuing on. His hand shot out and grabbed her arm. His grip was steady, but gentle, and it felt so warm against her chilled skin, making her blush.

"You might catch pneumonia if you don't, Lily. Get in the car. This isn't about you and me, it's about your health." He pulled her softly until she was looking at his face. "Get in,"

"Gah, fine." Pulling her arm away, she approached the open door and climbed in. He shut it behind her and she shivered, pulling her knees up against her chest. He got in the driver's seat and started the car, rolling up her window and blasting the heat. Her fingers were nearly numb, but she held them up near the vents.

"When you get home, you have to take a warm bath. I don't want you getting sick." He said after a little while.

"I'll be fine, I'll just change and go to bed. Don't want to wake up my parents with running water." Lily shrugged, her teeth beginning to chatter. He looked at her and frowned.

"You HAVE to get into something warmer than your body right now. I'll take you to my appartment and you can use my bathtub. Then I'll take you home." Brendan replied after a moment's thought.

"I'm NOT going to your house! No fucking way!" Lily exclaimed, sitting up fully and glaring at him.

"Well, you're going to get very sick if you don't and I don't want that. You're just going to get your body heat back to normal then I'll take you home. It'll be ok."

"Wayne'll kill you if he finds out." She growled.

"Ha, please, I've seen the way he treats you, Lily. Why do you even date him? He'd just use that as an excuse to break up with you." He said, no hint of a smile on his face. Lily quieted her complaints quickly, looking out the window.

Convincing herself not to cry in front of him, once again, she pulled her knees tighter against her chest.

"Look, I didn't mean for it to come out that way, Lily. I'm sorry. But it did have to be said by someone. He treats you like crap and you don't do anything about it! If I had given you that, you would've kicked my ass out the door. I don't know why you don't do that to him. I know it's not about your image, cause you don't really give a shit about that, but it does puzzle me." Brendan said as they turned into his appartment complex.

Lily didn't reply, merely stared out the window. When she didn't say anything back, he dropped the conversation with a shrug and pulled into his parking spot. The car stopped and he turned to look at her. She pretended not to notice and reached for the door handle, but his other hand covered hers in the middle of the seat. She looked over to find his face very close to hers, his eyes glowing with something she couldn't really figure out...

"Lily... Listen, I..." He started, then paused. A second later, he pulled away and shook his head. She was glad it was dark, because she was blushing madly. Brendan opened his door and stepped out. She followed him shortly, almost gasping as the freezing air hit her skin once more, making her shiver. He waited up for her and then they set off for his appartment. After climbing two flights of stairs, he pulled out a key and walked down a hall, turning to the right in the middle and unlocking the door. She followed him inside, allowing him to take her jacket from her. He left the room for a moment with it and returned without.

"I put it in the wash. I'll do that with your clothes, too. Just give them to me." He held out his hand and she just stared at him.

"You want me to just take off my clothes right now? In front of you?" She began blushing once again.

"Well, it's not like I haven't seen you.."

"We were going out then! This is totally different, Brendan!" Lily shrieked, crossing her arms over her chest. "Just start a bath and I'll go change in there."

Brendan shrugged and led her down a short hallway, into a small room with a tiny tub, barely big enough for her to sit and stretch her legs out in. He bent over and started the water, turning back to her quickly. She soon found herself up against a wall with him between she and a bathroom sink. "The water takes a little while to warm up, but you should really get out of those clothes." He muttered, apparently not noticing her increasing blush with him that close.

"Ok." She replied as he nodded and left, closing the door behind himself. Lily sighed, relaxing her shoulders and looking in the mirror. Man, was she blushing... If he didn't notice that, he was truly an idiot. But she could always blame it on the cold. Yeah, the cold was making her blush, that was it. Shaking her head and stripping down, she bundled up her clothes and opened the door just enough for her to set them outside it and shut it once more. A moment later, she heard him picking them up and walking away. Putting the top seat on, she wrapped a towel around herself and sat down, putting her hand under the running water. It was still cold and she pulled back, wiping the water on the towel.

Suddenly the door opened again and she jumped as Brendan entered, setting a new bar of soap down for her. "I didn't think you'd wanna use my Tommy stuff." He said quickly before exiting. Lily recovered from her shock and jumped up, throwing the door open.

"Hey! Ass! I could've been NAKED in the TUB!" She yelled. He was already at the end of the hallway, but he stopped and turned around, smiling slightly.

"Yeah, good thing you weren't, though." He shrugged as she whirled around, picking up her shoe from the floor and hurling it at him. It hit his chest and bounced off, knocking him back a little.

"ASS!" She shrieked before slamming the door shut and tightening the towel around her. Locking the door for good measure, she checked the water again and found it pleasantly warm this time. Leaving the towel behind, she sank into the hot water and sighed out loud with pleasure as the heat washed over her too-cool skin, making her shudder in delight. Just then, she could hear her cell phone ringing out somewhere in his appartment. It was Wayne's ringtone and she groaned, hoping to God that Brendan would know enough NOT to answe-

"Hello?" She heard through the wall and she screamed out in anger, dashing out of the tub and wrapping the towel back around her, then unlocked the door, nearly slipping on the floor with her wet feet and rushed down the hallway, only to find Brendan sitting in a chair, reading a book, her cell phone next to him on a table.

"Why did you answer that?!" She cried, rushing over and picking her cell phone up, quickly looking through recent calls to see it was really Wayne calling. Turning back to look at him, she could only imagine how Wayne had reacted to a boy picking up her phone, despite the fact his female, cheerleading friends, often pick up his cell phone with a much 'distracted' hello.

"It rang?" He blinked at her, putting his finger in his book and closing it, clearly not interested in putting it down yet just to talk to her. "It was your asshole boyfriend, by the way."

"I know it was, what did you say to him? Better yet, what did he say to you?" She crossed her arms over her chest, making sure her towel was securely wrapped around her body.

"He sounded drunk and he kept asking for you, so I don't think he really cared that I picked up. I explained to him several times that you were just using my bathroom for the moment, but I don't think he cared. He got impatient when I didn't immediately summon you and started yelling at me for making moves on his girl. I told him, 'You know what, jerk face? You don't deserve her, and I'm sure that despite the fact you're starring quarterback, there are quite a few things I could tell my father about you that would get you arrested in a heartbeat. And I highly doubt any of the females I would question would disagree with me upon certain charges.' He got all mad and hung up. I'm sorry if he breaks up with you, but if he does over that, he really didn't appreciate you. I already know he doesn't, but still. Proof." Brendan then went back to his book, apparently more interested in that.

"You what? What the hell are you talking about? Why would you get your dad involved in this?" Lily asked, semi-stunned.

"My dad's a cop and, Lily, he talks about everything too loudly in my English class. Including all the young ladies who he 'persuaded' to do him 'favors'." Brendan set his book down once again, this time removing his finger and folding the corner as a bookmark. "He never talks about you though. Just complains you don't want to do anything to him. But that was before Winter Break... He hasn't forced you to do anything, has he?"

"Why do you want to know? I mean, why do you even care? You BROKE UP WITH ME because... I don't even know why except some bullshit excuse that I was 'cheating on you'. Was I? No. Did you believe me? No. So why the hell should I tell you anything that I have to deal with that is partly your fault?!" Lily's eyes filled with tears and her voice shook a bit. Before he could react, she had turned and darted back to the bathroom, shutting the door behind her.

Brendan raced after her, turning the knob before she could lock it and forced the door open slowly, shoving his foot in so that she couldn't shut it on him. Sticking his head inside, he looked at her and let out a small gasp. In the bright light of the bathroom he could see bruises on her shoulders and neck. Big, slightly red and dark purple imprints of hands all over her chest. "Oh my God, Lily... What did he do to you?"

"Nothing! Leave me alone!!" She screamed, tears streaming down her face as she lowered her head to cover them up with her hair. Finally, she leaned against the door, crying and wiping her eyes with her hand. Slowly, she lowered herself to the floor and pulled her knees to her chest, hugging them close. Brendan forced the door open the rest of the way and lowered himself onto one knee, listening to her soft whimpers.

"Lily... What did he do?" He whispered, reaching out and gingerly touching her arm.

"Don't touch me!!" She cried, scraping his hand away with her fingers before clamping her hands over her ears and burrying her face in her knees. "Don't touch me..!"

Moving closer, Brendan wrapped one arm around her shoulder, forcing a hand from her ear and murmured, "It's not Wayne, it's me, Brendan... It'll be ok..."

Lifting her head, she looked at him through her long, brown hair and he pushed it away from her face. Her eyes were red and puffy, tears were still coming out and he did his best to wipe them away. "It's all my fault..." She whispered, putting her face in her knees again, rocking back and forth. "If I had just done something when he asked... He wouldn't have..."

Cringing, Brendan slid the other arm around her and held her close. "It's not your fault, Lily. There's nothing you could've done... This is all his fault and I swear, Lily, he'll get his."