author's notes: this is something that has been on my mind for a long time. it's something actually serious. it will be chaptered and a short story of sorts. i don't really know how i could possibly explain this except that it's something close to me. very strange to say, i know. i don't know if anyone will be able to identify with any of the characters, seeing as how i probably don't flesh them out as much as i should, but let's just see how it goes. i've got about 1/4 of it written already, and i know that i'll finish it for sure. things could get uncomfortable later on for some people, but i'm going to be unapologetically blunt. it's for a reason. and well, it's just how some things happen.

rating: T+ to M in later chapters

extra info: everyone is of age - meaning 18 - besides one of the characters, but don't worry about her. she's the good one.

A Social Experiment on Being Bad

Jacklyn knew that tonight was going to be a wild ride; she'd decided that the moment she had entered the apartment fifteen minutes ago.

Her eyes scanned the room, heavy-lidded and empty, as if the beer in her hand had already gone to her head. It hadn't. She'd taken two sips of it and had figured that this rate, she'd still be sipping on the same beer in three hours. Under normal circumstances, she would have thought that she'd need around four beers before she had the amount of liquid courage that she would need in order to open up to everyone. Tonight felt different though; tonight felt like it was going to be very different. She brought the edge of the can to her lips, taking another bitter sip, as her eyes continued to look over the unknown people in the room. Most her boys and under other normal circumstances, she would still be standing in the back, unable to talk, unable to do anything.

Drunken people were surprisingly easy to talk to though.

With her best friend, Alicia, sitting next to her, Jacklyn felt quite safe and at ease. As long as that girl was sitting next to her, nothing could possibly go wrong. However, she could practically feel her friend's eyes locked onto one boy in particular, Ethan, a sore point with her that she never brought up. It was rather embarrassing how things went down, so she'd learned to keep quiet and never fight. The problem with her best friend – and the most wonderful thing about her – was that she was utterly confident, no matter what she said, and she was also plenty gorgeous to boot. With a best friend like that, it's not hard to get used to being second place all the time, always sitting in the shadows of her stunning figure and listening to her talk about all the boys she'd charmed. She didn't even seem to realize what kind of power she had, but oh, she had it, she had all of it.

Meanwhile, Jacklyn, older and shyer, was just now coming into her own. And it was going to end with an explosion that she wouldn't be too sure how to feel about. Whether she'd be used or become the user, the lines were going to blur tonight, and she hadn't any idea of it.

Finally, she found a somewhat familiar face in the small yet loud mob of people in the room: someone she'd talked to briefly before coming here and again briefly before when she'd walked into the room. According to policy, she smiled. It didn't seem to take too long before he'd announced to everyone that they were going to play the next round of beer pong. People that suck at this game need to stick together, he'd said, or something along those lines. According to policy, she'd laughed and agreed. Whether either one of them realized it or not, they were both playing certain types and they were both saying lines that had been written and spoken and passed down through years and years of, well, parties. He played the goofy, cute boy, and she played the naïve, sweet girl. Put them together, and you've got a stereotype that speaks for itself.

The truth was that as much as he might've been a liar, she was a bigger liar. While he may have believed that he'd roped in a gullible girl and slowly convincing her to do things that she'd never dreamed of doing, she was reading into each other his actions and just furthering them along, playing him the way she knew that he was trying to play her. She let him believe that he was deceiving her into believing that he was actually a good guy, and he let her believe that he was not as big as a whore as he'd once been. Everyone changes when they suddenly meet someone that they want to get with. Your worst qualities are laid out on the ground to be stomped on and tossed away like trash, just so you can conjure up new ones. Throw away your skeletons in the closet to make room for your next victim.

She just let him believe that she was going to be just another notch on his bedpost, just so she could get what she wanted out of him.

Let the user continue to believe that he was using, while the used actually did the using here. Call it role reversal, call it an experiment in social distortion, but whatever you call it, don't call it for real. Every action was a fake play on the other and both knew it and didn't know it at the same time. Even the connection between them was just a lie twisted into reality. He wanted his old fun and she wanted new fun, and both of them, while they didn't realize it, had found that in each other. Maybe that made them the most perfect match for the night, their mutual poison. Sure, a house on a foundation built with lies will crumble, but they weren't going to bother building a foundation, much less a house. They didn't want to play house so much as play closet or play bed or play floor or play up against the wall.

Call her a whore, but she was just trying to taste something new. Call her an adventurer, charting new territory and going on expeditions to places she had never been, doing things she had never done. Call her open-minded.

But don't call her naïve.

Every smile was a calculated measure of something that he'd want to see in her. She had watched people like him before, and while she wouldn't admit it, she had almost fallen for his little act. He must've had plenty of practice because he was perfect for the part. Not all that big, more cute than hot or attractive, swoopy hair that most girls loved to run their fingers through, and the most adorable half-smile, it was as if the part he was playing had been directly written for him. Nothing he said was particularly daring or sexy in any way; he wasn't the most charming boy in the room; and he didn't much have a way with words – but there was just something about him that seemed capable of pulling a girl in. Hook, line, and sinker. Or in his case: hook, line, and sleep with her.

And so it was there turn to play, and she did her part of shyly pointing out that they were supposed to play. He did the rest, standing up and loudly adding that she'd never played before and neither had the other girl, Alicia. The other guys immediately harped on the fact that the girls had to play, so they paired up with their partners, according to policy – Jacklyn with her boy, and Alicia with hers. Sore points be bygone – bygones be bygones – and Jacklyn didn't want to think about how Alicia had something that would last more than a night, not when she'd told herself that she didn't want anything that would last more than a night. And so she pushed herself deeper into her role: the surprisingly good player, innocent in her excitement and funny when the time called for it. They played it casual, jokingly shaking hands and casually leaning into each other.

She smirked at her friend, and her friend laughed. Both boys looked at each other, each knowing the intentions of the other – for the most part. Alicia's boy had better intentions, better thoughts of her. Jacklyn's boy was already wondering how close he could get his hand to her chest without her noticing, so she'd lean into him when he'd put his arm around her shoulders to make it closer. Up the ante, so to speak. And she just laughed lightly and looked up at him in the face and smiled pleasantly, innocently.

Don't call her naïve; call her a social scientist.

There were only two interruptions to this small dance between the two of them. A break needed to be taken, and the boys had a talk outside of the apartment. Everyone knew what it was about, and Jacklyn just giggled and laughed, telling the overprotective Ethan that he didn't need to worry. Jason isn't going to get what he really wants, were the underlining words of her little laugh. Everyone laughed at what was going on while Jason attempted to feign confusion and innocence; both of them were so well at feigning innocence by now. Jacklyn had felt innocent for so long that now that she wasn't naïve anymore, she could pretend to be it for as long as she could remember being it. When the two boys came in, she just bit her lip and grinned at her little experiment. It wasn't obvious what it was to everyone else, not even her best friend. Innocence was so easy to fake. The little game (both games actually) went on until she had won: both games were in her pocket.

Things went on a little bolder between the two game players after the beer pong game had ended. Alicia and Ethan had vanished into thin air thanks to the distraction that Jacklyn had inadvertently put up. Alicia's older brother – and Jacklyn's cousin – had showed up to the party and had been rather unpleasantly surprised by Jason's too close to be comfortable actions towards Jacklyn. For the first time that night, Jacklyn didn't particularly care. She knew that she was going to get what she wanted (at least for one night) and she'd become so good at lying that she was even capable of lying to herself and making herself believe that she was always happy for her friends.

And so the always underlining game between the Jacklyn and the boy continued. She allowed him to believe that he had her slowly jumping into his pocket, cuddling next to him on the ground in the corner. It had been a while since she'd been so close to a boy, his arm around her and her playing with his hand, holding onto it every now and then. She let him hold onto her almost possessively, even when she joked around with the other boys. It was all a part of the game, the big trick, the experiment. Sure, she'd flirt with the other guys, but whenever she'd look back at him or up at him, his eyes would be trained on her carefully. They shared a light conversation, one full of joking and laughter, and she'd laugh or pat his cheek to point out how drunk he looked. She, herself, was startlingly sober, her eyes wide and her brain ticking off all the minutes and seconds she had him.

Of course, she didn't have him all the time, and being the professional that he was, he did throw this little newbie off her game every once in a while.

"So why are you trying to hook up with me?" he asked bluntly, that little half grin on his face mixed with an almost serious expression.

Jacklyn, leaning back against him and looking up at his face, squirmed around until she was able to sit up straight next to him and looked at him with a quizzical look. She'd given that look many times before to get out of difficult situations. If it's not appropriate to feign innocence, feign confusion. It went along with her gullible role. "I don't exactly…hook up with people…ever…" she admitted quietly, shyly. After all, she was innocent, but underneath that full body mask there was a firecracker inside of her. Even he could tell that. All that had to be done was light it. And he was fumbling with the box of matches in his pocket. "It's not something I, uh, do." And she bit her lip nervously. She didn't know how she was supposed to answer it, seeing as how she wasn't trying to hook up with him and was trying to hook up with him at the same time. Plus, who knew what type of hook up he was talking about? He'd light the entire box of matches if he could get the big one.

To go along with her words, he admitted to being something of a whore – or, well, "I'm not as much of one as I used to be, just a little bit now," in his words. And she laughed and played with his hand and shrugged her shoulders. That was what she wanted to hear and didn't want to hear at the same time. Go ahead and lay your worst qualities on the floor, then mix them around a bit to your fitting.

A little laugh here and then: "Oh, well, I'm pretty much the opposite of a whore." It was as close to the truth as she would be with him the entire night, unknown to him. She looked him in the eyes and he raised his eyebrows, as if a little surprised, and she laughed at him again. Innocent as can be, and he was ready to do all he could to corrupt that and toss that image of her away into the mud. Little did he know. She was innocent, oh yes – physically speaking, she was uncharted territory for him to run his fingers over – but in mind, oh, she was far beyond that. She played this as clinically as she could, with every roll of the eyes, bit of the lip, and playful laugh. She had him: hook, line, and sinker.

Until her cousin got in the way and pulled Jason away for another talk. Jacklyn shrugged it off, warning Jason that he was going to get the talk of a lifetime, and laughed as she meandered into the kitchen to grab another beer. That was when Ethan, his hand secretly connected to Alicia's, pulled her aside to give her a talk of her own.

"You know the term womanizer?" Ethan asked her, and she nodded her head, already knowing where he was going with this. "Well, if there could be something worse than that, it's him. He can be a really shitty guy."

"I know, I know, I got it," she replied mechanically, nodding her head in understanding.

Ethan fixed her with a hard look, one that made her simultaneously thankful for having him as a friend and jealous of her own best friend. It was the sign of a genuinely good person that made her feel like a total fake. "No, you don't know. He's a real dirtbag with girls."

Just what I need, was her thoughts.

"Okay, I understand. I mean, I wasn't going to do anything serious – I'm not stupid – but if you want me to stop flirting or whatever, I will…" was what she said instead. She kept any emotion but utter understanding out of her voice. She looked him in the face, blankly, honestly, wide-eyed and totally understanding. He had brought her here, and if it was going to bother him or really piss off her cousin, she would drop the whole thing. She knew she would, even if she didn't want to.

Alicia interrupted him before he could say anything. "Oh, stop being so serious, Ethan; let her have a little fun." She winked at Jacklyn. "She's a big girl and knows how to handle herself." In a true show of female friendship and the realization that neither of them wanted anything serious, Alicia steered Ethan away and waved a good luck at Jacklyn, who just rolled her eyes and wandered over to one of the other guys to talk to him. Ethan gave her a wary look when Jason came back into the apartment, and she just shrugged her shoulders.

He was worried about Jason using her when she'd been planning on using Jason to her own advantage. When he'd drunkenly asked her if she was going to take advantage of him, she'd just laughed and said that she wouldn't dare do something like that – "unless you want me to," she'd casually added. If that wasn't a mind fuck, then she didn't know what one was.

However, Jason seemed to be a bit odd after he'd come back into the apartment. He sat down in his corner and when Jacklyn had been about to sit down next to him, he'd told her, "No, you can't." She arched an eyebrow, though she probably should've acted hurt to keep on her act, and promptly sat down by the chair next to Alicia, a few feet away from him. He backtracked on his words: "I mean, you can sit next to me, right here, but you just can't cuddle. I don't want to get my ass kicked."

Meaning by her cousin. What he didn't know was that Ethan would be joining her cousin in the beat down. Both of them.

Jacklyn turned up her nose at him, a suppressed grin on her face, and didn't even bother looking at him. "Nope, I'm just fine here, thank you." She should have acted hurt, but instead, she'd decided to put on another act, a show that she was perfectly capable of finding another more interesting and charming and attractive boy. One way to get a guy coming back is to act as if you don't need them – and she didn't. There were a few other guys that she could do the same thing with and be just fine. And so, she began to talk with Lucas, who was good-looking and funny, which seemed to bother the hell out of the suddenly left alone Jason. Poor boy was so used to getting what he wanted, and without even saying a word, he'd been presented a chance, an ultimatum, and perhaps a loss of something he hadn't even had the chance to have.

And so, once Lucas had wandered off and before she could get up to move away, Jason pounced on the chance to talk to her again. "So, about those TKE boys up there that are ruining my good name and putting it to shame…" She smiled at him. This was easier than she'd thought, but that didn't bother her much. He was just acting friendly now, slowly sobering up to the idea that it would be simple to lose a good opportunity.

end notes: chapter two has already written, perhaps maybe even chapter three. i know this isn't the best of what i've written, but it's something.