A/N: It's been ages since the last time I wrote seriously, so hopefully this won't disappoint too much. I tried to play with style a little bit here – its narrative form is much more detached than most of my other writing, and as such, it's still a little rough around the edges even after two substantial revisions. I'd love to hear any constructive criticism or feedback you have, and thanks for your time.

How had her life come to this? Trinity Sutter often wondered with a great deal of irritability, usually whilst reading from gen. ed. textbooks. Twenty-one never really looked quite like (not even remotely like) its actuality in her adolescent imaginings, and she continued to feel faint pangs of longing and disappointment whenever she considered her current state of affairs. She was not the charming, cosmopolitan sophisticate she endeavored to be: not particularly sleek or slim, not a fashion plate or trendsetter, not the cool chick sipping on mocha almond lattes while discussing Nietzsche at open mic night. She was not the interesting, special girl she used to believe, in spite of herself, that she would become (that she indeed felt entitled to become on the sheer merit of having and owning up to a ridiculous name like Trinity Sutter). Rather, she found herself a slave to the resentment she harbored towards the more socially adjusted and the schoolwork she completed diligently out of a fear of failure. No prospects, no hopes – just cold, hard realism staring her in the face as she collected college credits and worked her way towards a degree in chemistry.

Sometimes science was the answer, she thought - the way it required precision and meticulous attention to detail. It was meant to be analyzed at every angle, pulled apart and ruminated over, examined carefully again and again and again. Running experiments, staging and arranging multiple trials… It appealed to her, this goal of perfection in data, the strength in numbers. The sterility of a lab seemed to match her stiff personality, and, painfully self-aware, mercurial, she hid underneath a lab coat and safety glasses, keeping herself at arm's length from everyone and everything.

Every once in a while – usually in the spring, she noted, when her impatience with schoolwork and the confines of her dormitory were at their highest – Trinity's restlessness got the better of her. She was inexplicably and strongly moved to act, and this need for movement and release consumed her. Fewer things could make her more frustrated than this undefined need, as there was no reason for it, she thought, and it certainly communicated no sense of direction. No matter how many times she attempted to get to the bottom of the issue, how many angles she dissected it from with her scientist's eyes, Trinity could not discover the cause of her problem and could therefore not address it. What was she expected to do? she wondered with irritation. There was nothing to do. And yet it crackled under the surface of her skin anyway, providing her no escape from its power, in spite of her numerous attempts to repress it. After all, Trinity did not like to operate outside her insular comfort zone; vulnerability in any form simply did not appeal to her, and she did not like to enter into unfamiliar surroundings or situations because it often meant relinquishing her locus of control. Instead, she allowed the unnamed passion to burn and bubble within her, attempting to keep up a cool reserve and an unaffected air. She may be cross and frustrated now, but she would get over it soon enough.

x x x

The fever was beginning to make her unreasonable.

A girl of few words (and even fewer positive ones), she naturally found herself a girl of few friends. And these friends? Well, they were of the joyless, boring, grade-mongering sort, seemingly unable to throw caution to the wind and have a good time. Trinity often found their Puritanical work ethic stifling and maddening, but she adhered to it anyway, preferring to be part of the crowd and angry rather than alone. There truly was a certain safety in numbers, and Trinity hid behind them. She did not have to face herself when she was with them (or when she was with her chemistry homework, which she found equally as exciting and entertaining), and she could pretend to abandon accountability as she let them dictate the nature of their social encounters.

However, the unsubstantiated passion made her disagreeable; she was never satisfied to just sit and work on homework or watch a heavy historical drama anymore, which took her friends aback. Though they were used to the naturally withdrawn girl's vague air of discontent and her reluctance, they had learned over the past couple of years how to masterfully manipulate it through coercion, always (eventually) getting their way. Lately, things hadn't been working out quite so neatly, and the Trinity whose thoughts and feelings were written plainly in her visage, who always gave into the whims of the majority in the end, began to resist as her thinly veiled disdain for life slowly morphed into something more complex and muddled, something approaching indifference if not quite optimism. They preferred her misanthropic to quietly detached, finding her much more predictable and compliant in that state, and they were resentful of her current (and obvious) passive aggressive displays of displeasure and inattention.

She began avoiding them altogether, no longer able feign interest in their trifles. Spending lunch and dinner alone was but a small step towards independence, and in this detachment, she did not feel encumbered by their petty worries. For a while she buried her feelings underneath her homework and her chemistry lab duties, and she was content if not happy while she began to aspire to greater things. Right now, it was all about control as the madness began to sweep her away.

x x x

She took to dancing because it was the only thing that gave the appearance of satiating her restlessness. Trinity always reacted physically to music, and she especially lost herself in the rhythmic beat of club music. She could feel the persistent kick of the bass well up in her belly as she moved, and the throbbing beat engulfed her so fully that it became inextricably linked to her heartbeat. She felt melded to the music – her new pulse – and she danced with ease. Trinity was not a particularly great dancer, but she moved confidently, every shake, bend, and swivel perfectly calculated, an extension of the music that filled her.

She always came to the club alone, and until she met Alexander, she left alone. A number of partners would sidle up to her in a night, but she rebuffed their unbidden touches and advances. She was in control, and would let no one move her. Eventually, even the most persistent partners would wear out; her energy was inexhaustible under the influence of this passion. Only Alexander could match her in stamina as she moved under the flashing colored lights.

Trinity knew her friends hated him. Often, she found herself hating him, too. He could be so surly and unpleasant (she could be so surly and unpleasant) at times and he took great pleasure in making her angry when the sport suited him. However, he looked at her with that fire in his eyes – a heavy, hooded stare that only hinted at the desires lying beneath – and his possessiveness thrilled her in spite of its provocation. He was sexy and impassioned, equaling her in intensity, and he loved to kiss her and touch her, always with the utmost precision and a respect approaching worshipfulness. She enjoyed the feel of his hands settled on her hips, her waist, the small of her back as they moved together, night after night while they lived for the weekends. She reveled in his attention, feeling the electricity he generated course through her, fueling her frenzy. Most evenings culminated in rough make-out sessions in the backseat of his car (occasionally sex, if her roommate was gone), drunk off one another's heat. She didn't know if she loved him; most times it didn't matter.

One quiet night, they shared a small booth at the local Steak 'n Shake at around three in the morning. Contemplatively sipping on a chocolate milkshake, Trinity found herself studying Alexander's hands – strong, elegant hands with slender fingers, soft skin, and the vague shadows and outlines of veins. These veins, she thought, and the blood that flowed within them were what made him so vital, so powerful. She watched them shift underneath the surface of his skin as he lifted a french fry to his mouth (the mouth she had found equally powerful and compelling earlier in the night), and took notice of the leather bracelet he wore for the first time. The braided brown leather looked so soft and inviting to her, and she continued to watch him with her practiced scientist's eyes, absorbing every detail. He brought his hand back to the tabletop and she instinctively reached towards it and the soft, worn bracelet. He grabbed her roughly by the wrist and she gasped softly in surprise and fear, feeling the blood and muscle and sinew at work in his grip. She steadily held his steely gaze for a long moment – calculating, questioning, obstinate – and he finally relented. He reluctantly released her and turned his palm towards the ceiling, allowing her to unfasten the bracelet.

Her eyes widened upon discovering a multitude of raised scars along his wrist. Gingerly, she began to trace the lines with her fingertips. Thin, short slices, like hash marks, decorated the admired skin and several of these cuts appeared fresh. She furrowed her brow in concentration, still skeptical of the sight, thinking that there must be a mistake, and she raised her eyes to meet his for confirmation. His gaze would only meet hers for a split second, and this unusual air of defenselessness was proof enough.

"It's… It's the only way I can deal with— with this emotion. There's just this fever in me or something, and… and I bleed it out," he admitted quietly with a great deal of difficulty.

Trinity nodded, understanding and accepting, intrigued. She continued to study and examine his scars underneath her fingertips and paused contemplatively, making eye contact once again. His vulnerable gaze probed hers, finding the compassion he sought and something approaching curiosity. He could practically see the calculations forming in her mind behind those carefully observant eyes, and after another long moment, she laid her own hand on the table, palm up. Realizing immediately what she intended to do, a frown began to tug at the corners of his sensuous lips. He found his own sense of helplessness mirrored in her.

Perceiving her determination, Alexander asked, "Have you done this before?" She shook her head no and pushed her hand towards him with more conviction. Another long pause, and then softly, feelingly, "Are you sure?"

He took a deep breath and covertly extracted a Swiss army knife from a pocket. He glanced around, making sure the wait staff could not see them, and reluctantly slid his hand underneath hers, cupping it gently, as he put the blade to her wrist. He studied her carefully, feeling a brief tug of conscience encouraging him to resist her entreaties, and she nodded for him to proceed. He pierced the skin of her wrist with a practiced flourish, quickly nicking a short but moderately deep cut.

She closed her eyes tightly as a gasp hitched in her throat. She dared not move, dared not breathe, dared not think, as she felt the blood rising to the surface, pooling and coagulating. Before, it seemed as if every inch of her body had been on fire, and now… now that the cut was made, the overwhelming power of her fever, of her emotional burdens, seemed to be concentrated into this one bleeding incision. Finally, Trinity exhaled and breathed deeply. The pain was a bit hard to tolerate, but she felt liberated underneath it all. Finally, that passion, that madness, that instinct, was quelled, under control. Trinity opened her eyes and managed the beginnings of a smile as he watched her. She brought his scarred wrist to her lips and kissed it.

x x x

Her friends did not care for what she had become. They watched critically as she seemed to change right before their eyes. One could easily see how calculated her every move was – each laugh, each flick of the wrist, each mysterious smile, each accessory. In fact, she seemed more decorated every time they saw her. More makeup, new shoes, belts and scarves and chokers and bracelets and watches, all in rotation. She was more layered than before, but they could sense that something was missing. She didn't seem like herself anymore. She didn't seem like anyone.

At night, they did not see her strip down before getting in the shower. She gently rubbed the bare wrists (his powerful hands), sensitive and sore. Her fingers rose self-consciously to her neck (his powerful mouth), and the bruise they found seemed to scream at her touch. She studied the neat cuts on her left wrist with cool detachment. Alexander was her direction, after all. He was her release. She ignored the pain as she stepped underneath the showerhead and convinced herself that she was in control.