A/N: (Creeps slowly out from her underground hiding place and waves...carefully) Hi, guys. Long time no see. Please don't hurt me! I finally found something inside myself to update again. Hopefully (crosses fingers) that it will be permanent sometimes. I'd like some very descriptive opinions on this chapter. I'm not sure if its up to standard. Please give me comments!
But I hope you enjoy it. I did.
Rating: M (Violence)
Panic was not something she was entirely familiar with, so having to face it at such an early hour of the morning bothered her a little. As soon as she'd gotten up, she'd been bombarded with it. Had Cloud left any clues to his evidence at having been in her bedroom? Had he left tracks in the slush? Had he made a...mess in the bathroom? Had her parents heard them? Rose scurried around her room just to be sure and even made a dart to the bathroom.
Once she was assured that Cloud hadn't put anything out of place, she allowed herself to relax and get ready for school.
When she walked into the kitchen to get breakfast, she realised that her parents were at the table, watching the morning news.
"...the three high school girls are still missing. The police say that there are yet no suspects and are still conducting the investigation..."
Rose frowned and turned towards the TV, surprised to see the news-spokesman standing in front of her school. Students had gathered around the news crew, curious as to what exactly was going on. Why wouldn't they have known of three girls gone missing from their school? Wouldn't the staff have known?
"...after several conversations with the staff, the police discovered that due to a perfect attendance record there was no longer any need to check whether students were at school."
Protocol was protocol. It just wasn't practical not to check the role even if the school had a perfect attendance record. Cloud's group was a perfect example of that. They only turned up to class when they felt like it. Rose gnawed at her lip as they put the three pictures of the girls on screen. The teenager nearly lost her balance on the way to the fridge as she stared at the T.V. Melissa, Courtney and Sarah were in a group photo together, grinning at each other stupidly in their uniforms.
How could they have gone missing in just one day without anyone noticing?
Gripping the countertop, her knuckles turned white. She'd be a fool to say that their disappearances didn't bother her. It wasn't questionable as to what gender was going to be targeted in the future.
"Don't worry, Rosey," her father gave her a comforting smile as he placed his plate in the sink. "They've just employed security guards. They'll figure out who took those girls." He ruffled her hair and left the kitchen.
Turning off the T.V with a nervous shudder, she proceeded to pack her lunch and all the necessary items required for school.
The snow was gentle as it drifted down to rest upon her shoulders and hair – it was almost comforting if it weren't for the flakes melting as soon as they came in contact with her body heat. With a sigh, Rose ran her fingers through her hair and grimaced as the ice then soaked her gloves. It was a reasonably long walk to school and at this rate she was definitely going to get pneumonia.
"This sucks," she muttered to herself and sneezed loudly. Cold weather and hot weather didn't work well with her system at all. Colds were too easily caught and she fainted more often in heat than she would like too.
The steady roar of an engine broke through her pondering and Cloud's shiny Holden pulled up beside her, its tyres crisscrossed with small chains. Rose assumed it was to stop the car from sliding on the road. Neither Saber nor Thorn were in the car. She waited as the automatic window rolled down and he leaned over the passenger side to speak with her. Just seeing him made her stomach tighten into millions of little knots.
Cloud smiled at her, a dark look in his eyes. "Want a lift?"
Trying to maintain what dignity she still had around him, she nodded and got into the car.
The goth pulled away from the sidewalk, keeping a steady pressure on the accelerator to get through the mild snow. Soft music reverberated through the interior of the car and Rose found herself nodding to the beat, occasionally tapping a finger against her bag seated on her lap. Being in the car with Cloud was a lot different than what she thought it would be. She'd automatically assumed that there would be an immense feeling of paranoia or uncomfortableness. There was nothing else except happiness and contentment.
Oddly enough, she soon found herself dazing off, eyes slightly open.
"Rose? We're here."
Blinking rapidly, she shot up in her seat, sending her bag flying to the floor. Red dotted her cheeks as the male beside her chuckled softly. She glared at him. Did he really have to laugh at her? Did he laugh at anyone who dazed off and got angry about it after? Probably. Cloud smirked at her and laced his fingers between hers, leaning across the console to press a kiss to her lips.
"Tired, are we?"
She nodded and covered her mouth with a gloved hand as she yawned.
Cloud's mouth quirked up in a little smirk before he focused his attention on the car in front of him with a raised eyebrow; granted, the car park was always busy with the fight for a parking space but this morning it was pure chaos. Rose sat up more alertly as she caught sight of police cars.
"Did you watch the news this morning? Melissa, Courtney and Sarah disappeared."
"I heard it on the radio."
Rose was surprised. The news had spread unbelievably fast, so kidnapping must happen...often in this town. Judging by Cloud's irritated expression she was probably right. The traffic slowly cleared up and Cloud skilfully reversed into a parking spot that she thought would have been too small for the large sedan.
As she stepped out of the car, she saw Kiriya walking away from his BMW, wearing a tasteful attire that wouldn't draw attention to himself. At least he had a coat on. As an afterthought she wrapped hers tighter around her body and stuck like glue to Cloud's side in a search for more heat as they approached the school.
There was no sign of Saber or Reaper anywhere, but Thorn was talking animatedly to one of the policeman, nodding and looking rather...grown up. It puzzled Rose immensely as to why she was talking with him in the first place. Had she been associated with the three girls? Unlikely. Someone started screaming and a girl about the same age as Rose broke through the crowd.
"Someone kidnapped my friends! I can't find them anywhere! They were here fifteen minutes ago."
Cloud and Rose, as well as many other people stepped closer to listen to the conversation as several policemen approached the young girl. "How many?"
"Six." And then she was quickly counting their names off her fingers, and all of them were females.
There was a bustle of activity as the police addressed the large group of students and teachers alike, making gestures to be quiet. When they had everyone's attention, the lead policeman cupped his hands around his mouth and in a loud voice said, "Due to recent circumstances, I'm afraid the school will have to be shutdown. For those of you who know anything about the...nine girls kidnapped, please stay but otherwise go home. New arrangements for your learning will be posted to you in a couple of days."
"What's the point of that?" Cloud growled under his breath as he wrapped his arm round Rose. "That's just going to create more drama."
"Why would people be kidnapping students?" Rose asked him.
"Why indeed." They both turned as Kiriya approached them through the slush, his eyes running over the way Cloud held her with animosity.
Said goth was reaching inside his coat to grasp the butt of his gun but made no move to remove it from its holster. Rose looked between the two males and sighed agitatedly. You'd think they could put the whole testosterone fight to the side for once. Kiriya eventually relaxed his posture and crossed his arms.
"I was wondering if you'd like to accompany me, Rose. Since school isn't going to be – pardon!" Cloud was towing Rose back towards his car, while she looked back over her shoulder at Kiriya with an apologetic expression. He wasn't going to give up that easily, it appeared. "Cre'tin, I demand you stop!"
Rose couldn't help the giggle that escaped. Even in French, the word moron was easily indentified. It wasn't until Cloud was opening her door for her, that he faced Kiriya with a look that would have made a lesser male shudder. Not with Kiriya though, the other goth stopped feet away.
"Stay away from her, Fortescue. I mean it."
"Dare I think you're threatening me? You, who cannot hold a gun to save your life?" Kiriya chuckled.
"Back off." Cloud stepped forward until they were mere inches apart, and it suddenly became a staring contest...until Kiriya skirted around the intimidating goth and kneeled down to talk to Rose by the passenger door. Cloud's expression was clearly comical.
"As I was saying, would you like to come with me, Rose? I am going to see the new Alice in Wonderland."
The new Alice in Wonderland? Rose thought for a moment. She'd always wanted to see it ever since it was announced on the TV but...would it be wrong to choose Kiriya over Cloud at this point? It wasn't like she had an interest in...other activities with Kiriya but she was positive that Cloud would see it that way. No, this was her decision.
"Um...yeah, sure. I'll talk to you later, Cloud."
Said male could do nothing but stare as Kiriya lead the teenager away until his sister came to his side and watched him. "So, you're just letting him take her?"
Rose was literally grinning from ear to ear as she bounded out of the cinema, twirling around, and almost bowling several people over as they tried to move around her. Kiriya came to her side with a chuckle and took her arm in a gentle grip. "You enjoyed it then?"
"Are you kidding? It was great! I never get to go to the cinema."
Chuckling, Kiriya brushed his hand down her arm and entwined their fingers together so gently that Rose had to do a double-take before she realised they were holding hands. A blush rose up to her cheeks and she turned her head away, confused at the feelings that welled within her. Was she not attracted to Cloud? Why, then, did her body go up in flames of desire whenever Kiriya touched her? In a coy fashion, she looked up at him from beneath her dark lashes to find him staring intently at her.
The gorgeous goth smiled and pressed his lips to her forehead fleetingly. "Jet `adore, Rose."
"What does that mean?" She was desperately trying to control her body at the touch of his lips. Everything was a-tingle, and it was confusing the hell out of her.
"I adore you."
There were so many things she could have said; might have said but she didn't have the chance as Kiriya suddenly locked his arm around her, swung her around and dropped her lightly behind him. The movement made her pause and she looked around him to see a group of goths that she'd never seen before.
They were older than them by more than a few years. Maybe mid-twenties. All were dressed in black, some more revealing than others. There was one girl among the five men, and she had herself attached to the 'leader'. Said leader simply oozed badass. Rose studied the girl and frowned. There was something startlingly familiar about her but she couldn't put her finger on it. And then it occurred to her; Cloud's ex-girlfriend.
Kiriya muttered a colourful curse in French and his hands became fists at his sides; something Rose focused on intently with her eyes. Was he planning to fight with them or was it simply a precaution? Surely they wouldn't be stupid enough to start a fight in the cinema; but on a second look at the rowdy gang Rose decided that they would indeed by stupid enough.
"Fortescue...well, well. Fancy seeing you here," the leader grinned and stepped away from his group, holding out a gloved-hand in greeting.
Rose looked between the two with some confusion and automatically shifted so that she was now in full view of the goths. The leader's hand darted out like a snake; ensnaring her wrist in his large fingers at he looked over the intricate wolf's band.
"Well, well, well. Cloud's trademark. You his new girlfriend?"
Slightly miffed and more than a little afraid of this goth's blatant disregard for personal space (she mentally frowned as she was reminded of another goth), she firmly yanked her hand from his grasp and rubbed her skin against her pants; a wryly smile tugging at her lips. Her little act of defiance earned her a few appraising glances from the boys. The other girl however was an entirely different story.
"Huh. The little skank isn't denying it. Cloud has sunk really low to be handling jailbait." Cloud's ex-girlfriend snickered.
Rose bristled and her hackles rose. It wasn't often that she got mad or wished to lean towards violent intentions but right now, staring at this female that clearly screamed "slut", she had to wonder what Cloud ever saw in her; what in his right mind would persuade him to date that?
Naturally, as was her habit, she just had to voice her opinion. "I didn't know that Cloud used to date a whore. Tell me, were you only a good screw or did you manage to give him a blow job that made you worthwhile keeping?"
Now, Rose had never spoken to anyone ever before like that. Just because she didn't, didn't mean that she couldn't. Even now as the silence descended on the small group, she was beginning to feel embarrassed at herself for speaking in such vulgar terms. She vowed mentally that she would never do it again for as long as she lived. But, it had served its purpose.
The fake strawberry blond that was obviously a natural brunette, rushed forward; her high heels hardly delaying her; her bright pink lips curled back over her teeth in a snarl of deep contempt. The leader of the band immediately seized his girlfriend by the waist, holding her back as she struggled against his grip.
"I'm going to kill her! How dare the little tramp speak that way to me!"
Rose decided that she was definitely going to have to enquire to Cloud about his choice in girlfriends.
"Rhys, control your woman." Kiriya muttered quietly but loudly enough so that the goth would hear.
A number of curious, and aggravated eyes - security guards - were watching the exchange warily.
Almost as if a switch had been flicked, the rampaging female went limp in her boyfriend's arms and was carefully adjusting her mini-skirt and combing her fingers through her hair. "She's not worth it."
The curious onlookers went back to their own business, assured that the violence wasn't going to escalate needlessly.
Rhys cleared his throat, managing to look a little embarrassed over his girlfriend's temper tantrum. "Well, sorry about that. She doesn't usually rise so easily to bait. Kiriya, I believe we have some...business," his eyes flickered to Rose as he said it, "to attend to."
Rose glanced curiously from one goth to another, feeling a tad nervous as Rhys's eyes met hers. There was something in his gaze that put her on edge, yet she couldn't put her finger on it. Kiriya squeezed her hand gently before moving off with Cloud's rival, conversing in low tones so that no one, not even the members of Rhys's gang could hear them.
Just what exactly are they up to?
Now alone, Rose turned her attention to the other female and didn't particularly like what she saw. The grey eyes were venomous and were not exactly emanating friendly intent towards her; nor were the few males surrounding her, she noticed. It was time to retreat. Trying to look unfazed, Rose moved away towards the exit of the cinema, joining the steady flow of people moving to and from the entrance.
They were following her.
"Rose!" It was Kiriya calling out to her, possibly rushing to her aid.
And that spurred her followers into action. The patter of heels and boots on the cool tiles was overly loud despite the countless others that moved with them. What in the heck were they chasing her for? Was the fake blonde really serious about killing her? Surely not. But then again, they did look like they were capable of a murder here and there.
Rose broke into a run, almost careening into an elderly couple considering the tiles were so slippery from people tracking in snow every second. Darting to the right, leading out of the main entrance, Rose escaped down a corridor that clearly labelled staff only, hoping that the goths would respect the admittance sign. They didn't. They came barrelling in after her.
Blood pounding through her body, Rose led them a chase down a countless number of corridors, following that signs that labelled an emergency exit. Rounding another corner, the steel door made her whimper in relief. Freedom was just beyond that door. There wouldn't be any time for her to slow down, and she dearly hoped that it was a door that swung outwards otherwise she was going to knock herself out cold.
Only just managing to stop her natural instinct from closing her eyes as she approached to door, Rose shoved her hands out in front of her, mentally sighing in relief as the door swung outwards and she fell into a deserted alley way. What surprised her was the black Holden sitting just in front of the exit, with a very irritated Cloud leaning against the side.
Unable to slow down, Rose barrelled into him, feeling safe the moment his arms closed around her. Gloved fingers ran down the length of her sides, over her hips, up her back before gently cupping her face. If she'd known any better, she would have realised he not only did it because he enjoyed it but also because he was checking her for any injuries she had sustained.
Their eyes met for just a moment. Piercing blue and gentle green studied the other, passing a number of emotions that Rose didn't entirely understand. Cloud curved his arm around her waist, pushing her back towards the car so that she was slightly behind him. She saw why.
The band of misfits had caught up and were spilling out of the open doorway, ready to pounce when they noticed just who had come to Rose's rescue.
"Angelina," Cloud all but snarled; the timbre of his voice changing to a vicious tone that had Rose shuddering beside him.
The fake blonde, a.k.a, Angelina blinked a couple of times before her lips pulled down at the corners. "Gabriel."
"Don't call me that, you bitch." Pure rage seemed to roll off Cloud in waves. Rose clutched the material of his shirt, more to remind him that she was here for him rather than for her own comfort. Fear wrapped cold, vice-like fingers around her throat as Cloud drew his gun in one movement. One moment he'd been standing there unarmed, and now the group was staring down the barrel of a gun.
"Gabe, please, don't do this." Angelina whispered, and the boys behind her, backed off in the face of the weapon, hastily retreating back into the building.
"Rose." Cloud's voice was almost normal when he addressed her though his eyes were all for his ex-girlfriend. "Please get in the car."
Tempted to protest, Rose opened her mouth to do so before he looked at her from the corner of his eye. The pure rage in his eyes was enough to send her scuttling into the passenger seat, shaking to the core as she peered through the window.
From the very moment she had met him, she knew he had been a dangerous man. Just the way he looked and acted was enough to give someone a clear indication that he wasn't afraid to do as he wished. Rose was sure that he would sooner harm himself than her with the look he had given her. Angelina had not moved, clearly having the sense not to budge when she was staring down the barrel of a gun held by her ex-boyfriend.
To make matters worse, Rhys and Kiriya finally arrived behind her, both had guns drawn on the blond.
Rose's breath hitched in her throat; heart beating erratically against her ribcage as she feared for Cloud's life. Was Kiriya on Rhys's side? Why did he have a gun? What was going on? Panic started to claw at her already frayed nerves; it was all she could do to stay in the car. Never had she been in the face of danger; it was certainly a turning point in her life.
"Drop the gun, Gabriel." Rhys said, slightly muffled through the glass, "And step away from the car."
Why were they suddenly calling him Gabriel?
Something tugged at her elbow and she whirled in the seat, ready to scream. Saber was leaning over the centre console, a finger to his lips, asking her for silence. The gun in his hand was pointed towards the roof. "It's all right. Settle down. Just be quiet."
Rose could only nod dumbly as Saber moved to the other side of the car and opened the back door, leaving it open. He disappeared around the car, obviously creeping up behind to give Cloud some backup. It was then that she noticed Reaper standing on the roof of a building directly above the alley. Their eyes met and her jaw dropped. He, too, placed a finger to his lips to ask for silence. A Browning Hi-Power was clutched confidently in his hand, currently aimed at the group below. She swallowed. Hard.
There was never a moment in her life that she had seriously needed a thorough explanation. She needed one now.
Beyond the window, Saber had joined the fray, a Browning in his hand that was pointing steadily at Kiriya.
"Drop it, boys, or we're calling it in." Saber's normal idiotic voice had been taken over by a deeper, more dominant tone. Rose was stumped. "Vincente is on the roof. Let's keep this clean, all right?"
Calling what in? Who was Vincente? Reaper? If Rose didn't receive answers soon, she was sure she was going to scream. Loudly.
Angelina was right in the middle of it all, eyes moving from Cloud, to Saber and then rising to find Reaper staring down from his height. "No need. We'll leave."
Backing off, she raised her hands to show that she was unarmed, moving so that she was now between Kiriya and Rhys. The two men began to retrace their steps into the building, never taking their eyes or guns off Cloud. The door slammed shut; the resounding silence deafening. The relaxed slump of Cloud's shoulders did not go unnoticed as he rounded the front of the car, slipping into the driver's side with a barely concealed sigh.
Rose jumped as the car doors slammed, indicating that Saber had gotten in the backseat. The engine roared to life and Cloud coaxed the car out of the small alley onto the road, beginning to gain speed at a leisurely pace.
"What about Reaper?" She whispered softly.
It was Saber who answered her. "He's got his bike with him."
Silence reigned for more than a minute; the tension in the car was almost tangible. Rose had obviously seen something that she shouldn't have.
"Would either of you like to explain to me what just happened?"
"I think the less you know the better-"
"No," Cloud interrupted smoothly, his gaze leaving the road for a moment to stare at her. "She has a right to know."
Rose's heart lurched as those blue, blue eyes stared into hers. "Know what?"
The Holden turned off the road into an emptying parking lot. Cloud switched of the engine and leant back in his seat, eyes closing. Saber leaned forward to place his elbows on the centre console. "We aren't who you think we are, Rose. Haven't you ever wondered why we walk around with guns?"
The teenager nodded. "Yes."
Sabre nodded in return. "And why we don't usually refer to ourselves with our birth names?"
"Would you like to take a guess?"
Rose's brow furrowed in contemplation. Ever since they had revealed their guns to her, she had wondered just who she was dealing with. It was obvious they were not common goths like their rivals. No, they were something else entirely. They had been game enough to wear the weapons on school grounds and hadn't been afraid to draw them. Plus, Cloud hadn't even looked slightly fazed when Kiriya and Rhys had drawn on him. A twinge of pain engulfed her. Kiriya had betrayed her, and she had trusted him. She had put her faith in the wrong male. Never would she turn Cloud away again.
"Can you at least tell me first what that was all about?"
Saber glanced at Cloud out of the corner of his eye, noted the almost imperceptible nod and immediately bombarded her with information. "That gang you met is notorious for stirring up trouble whenever possible. But that is just their alias; what they actually do is something we have yet been able to catch them doing."
Rose's eyebrow rose of its own accord.
"Trafficking women," Saber's tone was deadly; he definitely was not fond of the act. "Kiriya Fortescue is a well-known crime lord in France. He came here just a few months ago, and that was when women started disappearing off the street. Since we don't have evidence, we can't pin him for it either."
Stunned, Rose could do nothing but listen in growing horror as he continued. "We suspect that Rhys is working with him, and gave him the idea to enrol into the school. Gabriel, myself and Vincente enrolled to keep an eye on him. As you noticed, girls have gone missing. Had we not shown up today, you might have been the next victim."
Stupidly, she asked, "Aren't they a bit young to traffic women? I mean, I always thought older men did it."
Saber chuckled. "Not everything is the same in movies as it is in the real world. And Kiriya is not as young as he appears to be."
"And what about Angelina?"
"That part at least, was true. She was Gabriel's girlfriend and then we found out she was actually dating him for information."
"I told you that that was my real name awhile ago. Saber is just an alias. I lied to you. It wasn't because I used to use sharp weapons. Everything you have heard about us has been a lie, Rose."
Tears pricked at her eyes and she didn't completely understand why, until she looked at the blond heartthrob in the driver's side. From the corner of her eye, she saw Max raise his hand to comfort her but she recoiled from him, hugging the door. They had lied to her; all of them. The friends she thought she had didn't exist.
"And Thorn...is she..."
"Cassandra has also lied to you. Everything you heard about our backgrounds; all of it is false." Max removed said very softly, the purple contacts making her stiffen with further shock.
Never had she felt so alone as she did that moment.
"Who are you?" She sobbed, her heart clenching painfully as she stared at Cloud with complete accusations in her gentle eyes.
"My name is Gabriel Willson. We're not goths...we are policemen."
Rose's world shattered.
Needless to say, Gabriel had done the appropriate thing and dropped her off home, politely ignored her sobs and sniffles as she cried her misery, huddled against the side of her door, the seatbelt clutched securely in her hands. Max had tried to console her over the thirty minutes it had taken to arrive at her house. His attempts had landed on deaf ears. When Gabriel had reached over and gently brushed his fingers across the wetness of her cheeks, Rose had turned around and bared her teeth, slapping his hand away.
Neither male had tried to console her after that.
The moment the tyres hit the driveway to her house, Rose didn't wait until the car had stopped. Hefting her bag unto her shoulder, she threw the door open and jumped out, stumbling slightly to gain her balance. Snow drifted down onto her face, freezing her tears against her skin as she all but ran towards her front door.
If she'd looked over her shoulder, she would have been astounded to see the regret in Gabriel's piercing blue eyes.
That was all her parents received when they arrived home from their jobs. No explanation; not even a hint as to what was bothering her. Her father made sure that she finished every morsel on her plate for dinner. Her mother tried to comfort her, knowing that she'd obviously been hurt; it was the exact reason they had kept their daughter in such a bubble all her life.
Fleeing from her parents concerned gazes; she barricaded herself in her room only to find that it smelt of Gabriel. The masculine scent lingered on her bed sheets, and her fingers curled into the fabric, preparing to rip them off. A sob tore through her as she collapsed to her knees. There was no way she could bring herself to do it. Despite everything, she just couldn't do it.
Her breath hitched in her throat.
It all made sense now.
Why she was so upset...
Why his betrayal of her trust hurt so much...
Why Kiriya's betrayal didn't seem to matter as much...
She loved him.
Even though she had only met him recently.
She was in love with Gabriel.
The next few days were agony to her. Without school, there was no distraction from her roaming thoughts and hopes. None of the people she thought were her friends contacted her. Not even Cassandra.
Outwardly, she noticed that her parents were starting to worry about her. Inside, she really didn't give a damn. Day in and day out, she moped, watched TV and then moped some more. What else could she do? Ring him? Ask him how much was real? No. To ask him that would bring more pain than she could bear.
It was another week before the school was officially declared open again. A massive amount of changes had been made. Security fences now enclosed the entire area, manned by two security guards at each entrance. Students were now escorted to and from their classes; and watched very carefully when they arrived and left the school.
The new security put Rose on edge as she entered the grounds, smiling a little uncertainly at the security guard.
It didn't surprise her that no one familiar was in her classes. English was a terrible ordeal for her. Without Gabriel or Max, the boys were even more lecherous and mean then they had been previously; always making sexual comments at her when Mr. Lazner's back was turned.
By the time she got to her art class, Rose barely managed to keep a straight face. It was all she could do not to crumble down into despair and weep.
"Rose?" A tentative voice behind her encouraged her to turn.
Cassandra stood there; a very different Cassandra at that. The once blond was now a caramel brunette with the same blue eyes of her brother. Her clothing, which had consisted of gothic materials, was now just as normal as the next girl's.
"What do you want?" Rose's voice was hoarse, almost breaking as she tried to stop the tears from trailing down her cheeks.
"I...I'm sorry. I didn't want to lie to you but I had no choice-"
"You..." Rose's voice wavered as she cut her former friend off; she welcomed the warm surge of anger as it made itself apparent in her expression and then her voice. "...you think you can come here and apologise for lying to me? Do you actually think I care? After finding out just what you and that brother of yours will do?
"I don't give a damn about your apology. You have a choice. You aren't in the police. Your brother is."
"But I had to because-"
"You did not have to deceive me just because he had to." Her gentle eyes were hard and unforgiving.
Cassandra met her eyes and sighed. "Fine. I tried. You want to be a moping bitch, that's just fine."
A fine red imprint of a hand now presented itself on Cassandra's cheek. Its owner was too stunned to say anything.
"What's going on here, Ms. Millen, Ms. Willson?" A teacher on duty was quickly coming towards them.
Rose's resolve shattered and tears once again brimmed in her eyes and it was all Cassandra could do not to reach out and hug her. She'd been wrong. Rose had all the right in the world to mope. She'd been sheltered all of her life, and what's more, the blue-eyed girl knew that she was head over heels for her brother.
Cassandra whirled to deal with the teacher, a harmless smile in place as she assured him that nothing was wrong, despite the mark on her cheek. When she turned back, Rose had gone.
"Really, Rose...I'm truly sorry..."
After being escorted from the grounds by a security guard, Rose sucked in a deep shuddering breath and straightened her shoulders as she prepared herself for the walk home. What she wasn't expecting was the hand that grasped her shoulder. Cassandra was huffing and puffing, having chased her around the school until closing.
Rose said nothing.
"Was...going to...ask...you...to come...over...tonight..."
"Gabriel wants to talk to you."
Both girls turned around to see Max standing in front of the Holden. Saber looked completely different to Max. His previous facade had been gothic. Now...he looked like an everyday guy. Brown hair gently drifting over his shoulders and equally brown eyes stared at her with a genuine apology. The duster coat he wore concealed any weapon that he could be carrying.
For a week she had desperately tried to rid them from her thoughts. And now here they were again, stepping back into her life. And Gabriel was asking for her. Had the arrogant cop sent them in his place?
Rose quickly backtracked as the driver's side door opened and Gabriel stepped out. Her jaw nearly dropped to the ground in her surprise.
He looked different.
Where piercings had once assaulted his ears now revealed unmarked flesh. They had been fake? Who would have guessed. The excessive silvery jewellery, bangles, chains and spikes were gone. Not even the band he had given her - which was now buried in her drawer in her room - remained. He had on a pair of striking black shoes that had a pointed toe, which followed up to a pair of faded jeans. The belt that adorned his hips was tasteful; no silver studs. A black jumper encased his well sculptured chest, defining his pectorals and a long duster coat, the same as Max's settled around him perfectly.
It was then that her eyes met his. They were the same piercing blue. Though the hair that had once been blond and black was now a natural dark brown; his skin a great deal more sun-kissed than it had been before.
"Makeup," he supplied as she continued to stare at him. "This is my real skin colour."
There was nothing more that she wanted to do then run to him; have him wrap his strong arms around her and have him tell her that nothing had changed; everything the same as it was before.
But that was not true.
Everything had changed.
She had changed.
For better or worse, there was no indication yet.
"What do you want...Gabriel?"
Gabriel stepped towards her. Shoulders straight; stride long and powerful. How had she not noticed all these things before? He had play-acted being a goth so well, it was like she was staring at a different person. In a way, she was.
Stopping just a foot away from her, he tentatively reached out and brushed the tips of his fingers along her jaw. The normal arrogant look she had come to known in his eyes was gone. It was replaced by a much warmer gaze that spoke of his personality. Gone was the arrogant, self-centred goth. Whether or not this new Gabriel was an improvement had yet to be decided.
Rose couldn't help herself as she leaned into the touch of his fingers, catching herself and moving back out of his reach. A smile tugged at his lips as his arm dropped by to his side.
"Rose...I am...so very sorry for deceiving you." He glanced at his sister and then to his partner. Max gave him a nod and Cassandra smiled. The two moved away towards the car to give them some privacy. "I would...very much like to get to know you properly, Rose. Take you out tonight and lavish affection on you. I want to show you that I am not the person you met. That was a disguise."
"How many more disguises, Gabriel?" Rose had wanted to swoon at his words; the knowledge that this gorgeous, dangerous male was interested in her made her heart flutter. But even though she loved him, his own interest hadn't seemed to be genuine from the beginning.
"No more disguises. No more lies. I promise. I don't break my word, Rose."
"Yeah? And what about that night? You acted less like a cop than you should."
Gabriel lowered his gaze to the bitumen. "I'm sorry for that as well. It was an order that I do whatever possible to ensure that you didn't see through my guise."
"Even engage in a sexual act with someone you hardly know?" The warmth of anger was growing in her voice. Gabriel was careful with his reply.
"I take my job very seriously, Rose. If I'm ordered to do something, I will do it to the best of my abilities. Having spent time with you, and getting to know you, I wish that it had been someone else."
It hurt. Shameful to admit, but that particular sentence pierced her heart like no physical weapon could.
On seeing her eyes begin to shimmer, Gabriel took the chance and wrapped her in his embrace, fingers threading themselves into her silky hair. His lips touched her ear. "I didn't mean it that way, Rose. I didn't." On being this close to him since that night, she inhaled deeply. No longer did he stink of smoke. It was the masculine scent she had smothered herself in on her sheets; a musk that was all male and the hint of rainwater; a very clean, pleasant smell.
"I meant that if there had been another person that I had to deceive in that manner; in doing something so intimate, I would have done it. To spare you this pain. I care for you, Rose. I know you may think I'm a jerk and that I should go to hell but I really do care for you. I hate myself for using you like that; playing with your feelings. I'm so sorry."
Rose cried then.
And he held her even tighter, soothing her with soft words of how sorry he was and that he would do anything to make it up to her.
Eventually, her tears eventually stopped and when she raised her head, her heart clenched in an entirely different manner as she saw the truth of his words displayed in his eyes. Eyes could not lie.
Gently, the pads of his thumbs rid her cheeks of any remnant tears.
"I...I forgive you, Gabriel." She gave him a watery smile
The warm smile she received warmed her to the core. "Thank you, Rose. Now let's get you out of the cold."
"You're going to have to do a lot of making up,"
"Oh, I know."
A/N: (Shuffles nervously) Well? What did you think?