summary: death doesn't just destroy you—it takes every, little thing you ever are and smashes it into a million pieces, so that you spend the rest of your life wondering how to pick them up again.

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rooftops of hong kong.

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It's two a.m., and Rob's trying to get me to go home.

"C'mon," he screamed into my ear, and even then, it wasn't enough to rise above the heavy base on my left. I pretended I couldn't hear and pushed up further against the guy behind me, watching gleefully as the neon-colored crowd pushed Rob back momentarily. He gave a silent, feral snarl, bared teeth blue, and I loved it. He was always so much fun to push around. "Sophie, now—"

"He bothering you?" the guy from behind whispered into my ear, and I just laughed and shook my head, hair sticking to my neck. Grunting, he wrapped a green arm around my stomach and let another slither down lower and lower—

"Fuck off," Rob roared furiously, slapping the hand away and shoving the guy into the black swallows of the crowd. Several spotlights waved spastically above, running across the nameless faces, and as I swayed from side to side, eyes half-lidded as the heat and slick skin and moanless breaths engulfed me, the lights continued to flicker constantly on Rob's face. It was like watching a video through photographs—a glimpse of the feral anger, and then darkness, and then another glimpse of the burning eyes, and then darkness again. It went on and off like a light until the nameless swallowed Mr. Stranger, pulled him away from Rob's stare. I knew it.

And then he was coming for me, his shoulders hunched and arms flexed threateningly. He didn't need to say anything, just grabbed my wrist and began pulling me against the tide.

I smiled lazily.

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The ride inside the car was really bumpy. I only know this because I fell asleep with my head against the window and woke up with a pounding headache. Anne sucked at driving.

Dad sat in shotgun, his head lolled to one side. Occasionally, with every animal that Anne ran over, his head bounced softly against his chest, and he would sway to the other side, but he was still snoring in the end.

"Good nap?" Anne asked, looking at me through the back mirror, and I shrugged, wiping my mouth on my sleeve. The drool was disgusting. She smiled sympathetically, like she was sorry I had to sit in the same car with her, and suddenly jerked the car onto the next lane. Dad's head almost ran through the window. "Whoops! Sorry, Al…."

I ran a few fingers through my hair and yawned loudly, turning back to the scenery. Anne said we would be moving a few months ago. Said she got a new job in a better place, in a more suburban area where it was drug-free and filled with nice people my age. Bullshit. Anne loved it there, the bustling Hong Kong mornings, the culture fusion in that city. Abstract museums by day, and metropolitan socializing by night, it was where dry martinis and takeout met, and trains and bicycles rode side by side. It was the city equivalent of Anne, and she was too fast for where we were going, too furious for quaintness, and definitely way too much for this little hole of a place. But it made sense why she would want us to move here, try to get us away from the inner city noise. "Is this it?" I mumbled, licking my dry lips and looking outside te window.

She nodded quietly, a demure smile on her lips. "Looks pretty good."

The pamphlet didn't lie—the houses really did look alike, evenly spaced out with trimmed lawns on either side of them. There were a lot of trees and birds, and as we rumbled down the street in our rented car, filled with upturned fragile boxes, I spotted a high school up ahead, stretched and elongated. It was big. Very big. "That's your new school," Anne commented from above, and I watched as the building pass by like a sloth while the rest of the scenery zoomed by. How intimidating. Back in Hong Kong, the school was tiny and reserved, and everyone knew each other.

"Aren't you excited? It's a fresh start," she said, and I didn't say anything.

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A/N: I had a lot of second-year projects, but I think this one merits the second-year writing, because Q is so emotionally taxing. But y'all can totally tell that this is gonna destroy me mentally, too ROFL. It screams ANGST!, but hey, that's what you get for writing pure and unadulterated humor. Counterbalance, yes? ;)