Let me explain a thing about how copyright works. I wrote this story. Therefore I own it. This is automatic. As soon as I have put the work into a material form (e.g. on paper, a disk, or here, on FictionPress), I own it. I do not have to register it anywhere. It is my intellectual property. Look it up. If you copy this story, and that includes excerpts and paraphrasing, without my permission or without attributing me as the author, you are stealing. You are violating my rights. You are committing an illegal act. Just because I posted this on the internet does not mean it is not subject to copyright. Don't steal my shit. But just to be official:

This literary work is copyright of Alora Young.

A/N: (updated 19/02/2010) I do not own the song 'Konstantine', or the band Something Corporate, or the album Chroma (after which this story is named) or the band who recorded it, Cartel. I also do not own the link below, and if for some strange reason you feel the need to look it up, you'll need to get rid of the spaces. FP wouldn't let me post it properly. =) (I told you I don't own it, and I told you who does, so I'm not violating copyright, see?) Also, first up, I think you all should download 'Konstantine' by Something Corporate (if by some amazingly odd chance, you haven't already and been through the phase where you listen to it on repeat and cry helplessly every time Andrew McMahon sings, "Did you know I miss you?" - or was that just me? =P) and y'all need to download Cartel. Everything you can get your hands on by Cartel. Seriously. Well, OK, their second album (annoyingly titled Cartel) was actually not that great, but it had some brilliant songs. Like 'Wasted'. I love that song almost as much as I love 'Konstantine'. Seriously.

In case anyone's wondering - yes, this did use to have a prologue and I scrapped it. I realised it was unneeded. But thanks to the people who reviewed it: Shawnden and elisefey. =) Also, updates are usually up late Saturday night my time. At least until I run out of pre-written chapters. Then things'll probably be moving a bit slower. But we have some weeks to go before that. =D

Hope you enjoy reading. And please, please, please REVIEW!

CHROMA

Chroma: chro-ma [kroh-muh] – noun
1. the purity of a colour, or its freedom from white or gray
2. intensity of distinct hue; saturation of a colour
Origin: Greek chroma = colour
- dictionary .reference browse /chroma

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Chapter One
I'm Not Your Star

when the first star you see might not be a star.
"I'm not your star."
Isn't that what you said what you thought this song meant?
- 'Konstantine' by Something Corporate

-x-

"Is it just me, or do the stars look extra pretty tonight?" I didn't really think about the question before I asked it. It was hard to think about anything with Chris this close to me. His hand squeezed mine briefly as we lay side by side on the roof of his car, but he didn't reply.

Jimmy Eat World blared from the car stereo as I waited, wondering if he'd even been listening to me.

Finally, he said, "I can't think of a way to tell you that you're prettier than a star without making it sound like a pick-up line."

I turned my head to look sideways at him and smiled. "I think you just did."

He grinned and twisted to look back at me. I moved my head forwards slightly and he closed the distance to press his lips gently against mine. He turned back to the stars, but I stayed where I was, unconsciously studying his profile in silence, memorizing. At the time, I thought he was perfect, and perhaps, in that moment, he was.

After a silence interrupted only by the sounds of the night and the music from the car, he said, "You know, I heard somewhere that when stars implode they can create black holes that can drag anything that's too close into another dimension."

I nodded slowly as I glanced back at the stars. "I've heard that too." I paused. "I guess not even stars last forever."

There was more silence between us, then suddenly, he was above me, his forearms holding his body off mine as he gazed straight into my eyes.

"Konstantine," he whispered, a hand moving to play with some loose strands of my hair, "I just want you to know –"

Sensing where he was going, I interrupted him with fingertips to his lips and said, "I'm not your star, Chris. I'm not going to spontaneously combust one day and take you into some other world."

"No," he kissed my fingertips, "no, but, Kon, maybe I will. I mean – we both know I'm –"

"Chris."

He sighed as my hand moved to his cheek.

"I'm just trying to say that – if – one day, for whatever reason, we can't be together anymore, then… just know that I love you more than anything in the world." He rested his forehead against mine. "I always will."

I ran a finger along his lower lip and whispered, "I bet you say that to every girl."

His mouth grinned against my finger.

"Only the ones who are prettier than stars."

A single slow tear fell from my eye as I looked up at the stars from the passenger seat of my father's convertible. Seeing it, he hesitated before reaching over and taking my hand in what was supposed to be a comforting gesture. It only made my heart rip that little bit more. I wasn't even supposed to know my father.

"Sweetheart, I know this is hard for you. I imagine it's much, much harder than you're making it seem," he said quietly, momentarily taking his eyes off the coastal Californian road to glance nervously at me.

Truthfully, I think Shaun was handling the whole situation very well. Up until two weeks ago, he hadn't even known I existed. I'm sure most men who fathered bastard children didn't immediately take in said child without a second thought. Granted not all illegitimate children have druggie mothers who unexpectedly overdose in their bedrooms one night for their daughters to find their blood and vomit covered remains in the morning spread-eagle on the floor…

The tears were coming more readily now, as were Shaun's worried looks, both equally as silent as the other. The guilt settling in my stomach seemed to get heavier. I looked at the mansions that bordered either side of the well-lit residential street that we were driving down. Even the modern lampposts couldn't make them seem less foreboding in the night.

Poor Shaun.

What a way to be repaid for kindness – a crying girl in your car.

I scrubbed at the tears, blocking out the little voice in my head that was muttering harsh words about how self-centered and ungrateful I was. I already knew those things; I didn't need the reminders that kept dropping guilt like weights in the pit of my stomach

But, what's more selfish; my mother taking a handful too many pills and inducing her own death as her daughter cried herself to sleep in the next room, or me not being able to summon tears at my mother's funeral until I realized that I had nothing left?

"Konstantine?" Shaun's soft voice interrupted my thoughts.

I looked over at him, brushing a fly-away strand of hair out of my face.

"We're here."

He turned the car into a long driveway that lead up to one of the smaller, and somehow still unnaturally large, houses that I'd seen in the neighbourhood. The driveway curved around, passing the front steps before it lead into the double-garage. Shaun pulled to a stop parallel to the steps and popped the boot. We both got out and he took my single duffle bag along with his roller bag, leaving the guitar case behind.

I grabbed it and slammed the trunk shut before scrambling up the stairs after him. As he unlocked the door, Shaun said, "Carol and Jess will be awake. I know it's two in the morning, but they're really excited to meet you. Don't feel bad if you just want to blow them off and go to sleep. Just say the word and Jess will happily show you your room."

I nodded, and with one last glance at the ever-dimming stars, followed Shaun inside the house.

This is what I knew of Shaun's family: His wife's name was Carol. She was forty-six, looked thirty-two and had long chocolate brown hair. She was kind-hearted and accepting, with eyes that expressed more than words ever could.

His step-daughter's name was Jessica. She was seventeen, every bit as beautiful as her mother and had an infectious smile. She was a virgin, which she managed to use to her advantage when it came to boys and social ladders.

All this I had gathered from the photographs in Shaun's wallet.

The ability to read a person by looking at them kind of comes with the territory of being a messed-up teenager who grew up in a messed-up environment with equally as messed-up people.

And, no, Shaun had no idea I'd been into his wallet. Minor pick pocketing was another skill kids from my situation tended to… pick up. Of course, gorgeous bad-boy boyfriends always help these slightly screwed-up skills along…

I forced myself to stop thinking before my thoughts wandered too far in the wrong direction and focused on the house I'd just stepped into through massive wooden double-doors.

The house was immaculate and it smelled like cookies. They were the first things I noticed as I stood in the marble-floored entry parlor. A table pushed against the right wall held photos. To the left a carpeted staircase lead upstairs. But directly in front of me, frosted glass sliding doors were open to reveal the biggest kitchen I'd ever seen in a house. Behind the island counter, a dark haired woman was placing freshly baked chocolate chip cookies onto a plate.

She looked up as Shaun shut the door behind me. At first Carol's beautiful eyes were blank, then they widened in shock. After a moment she composed herself and gave me a warm smile. "Konstantine!" Her voice matched her smiling eyes.

For all I tried, I couldn't seem to smile in return.

"I, um… I got bored waiting, so I baked you cookies," she said as she walked over to us, her smile turning to a worried frown. "You like chocolate chip, right? I didn't know, but I thought chocolate chip was kind of… neutral…" she trailed off as she came to a stop in front of me.

Her eyes seemed to beg a reply out of me. I managed a rasped, "Chocolate chip is great." My throat was so dry. It felt like I hadn't spoken in forever.

As soon as I said it, the warm smile was back.

Before anything else could be said, music flooded down the staircase and seconds later, a girl appeared atop them. She breezed down and came to an abrupt stop on the bottom step.

She gave me a radiant smile and I found myself smiling slightly back.

"Jeez, Mom," she said, a note of laughter in her voice as she rolled her eyes at her mother, "she's about to collapse. She doesn't care about your cookies." She turned back to me. "C'mon, I'll show you where your room is."

With that, she was back up the stairs. I hesitated a moment, glancing at Shaun and Carol. "Um," I stared, trying to figure out how to put my many conflicting emotions into words.

Shaun gave me a gentle smile, and with a hand on his wife's back, nodded up the stairs. "You'll lose her if you don't hurry."

All I could do was nod.

Once I reached the top of the stairs, I saw a single long hallway straight ahead. A door at the end and on the left was wide open, light and music cascading out of it to fill the hallway. I vaguely recognized the song, but didn't want to think about where I knew I'd heard its name before.

Jessica was waiting for me at the first door on the right. She flicked on the light as I followed her in. The room had a queen-sized bed pushed into the far corner with a desk across from it. Not only was there a MacBook sitting on the desk, but what looked like an iStation/alarm clock positioned on the bedside table and a generously sized flat screen mounted on the wall across from the bed.

It became immediately apparent that this was a guest room – it had to be. There was no way Shaun and Carol would have gone out and bought all these things for a girl they didn't even know. In fact, the expensive technology was probably second hand; the whole family had upgraded and put the old stuff in the guest room rather than throw it out. Nonetheless, I still felt another heavy bag of guilt settle in my stomach. I was imposing on them so completely.

I looked at Jessica who'd perched herself on the edge of the bed. "This is too much," was all I could manage.

She caught on after a second of confusion and smiled in understanding. She stood and came to stand in front of me. "Look, sweetheart. I don't know what Shaun's told you about his job, but let's just say that retired racecar drivers who decide to work for massive car corporations make yearly incomes that are way over average. Trust me, if this family has anything to spare, its money." The way she said it wasn't condescending, just explanatory. It made me feel ridiculous anyway.

Of course Shaun's family had money. He lived in on of the richest suburbs of Southern California. Coming from where I did, my mind couldn't really fathom that kind of wealth.

Jessica smiled warmly at me, placing a welcoming hand on my shoulder. I tensed and resisted the urge to shrug it off; not wanting her to think it was a personal thing. "You know we're all really excited to have you here. Seriously, this may be the most boring town in America. We need some new, bad-ass chick with a mysterious, troubled past who doesn't know the ways of the rich and important. It'll be just like The OC."

I didn't bother to point out the inconsistencies in that statement, or that I wasn't really looking to get into any drama. Instead, I smiled helplessly in return to her grin.

"So," she said after a moment, "you play guitar?" She was pointing to the guitar case still clutched in my fist.

I looked down at it, suddenly fighting a new onslaught of unwelcome memories.

"No," was all I said in reply before moving past her to lay the case on the bed. When I looked back at her, Jessica was nodding slowly, obviously fighting the temptation to probe further while trying to think of another, less potentially awkward topic.

So maybe I felt a little bad about being so shut off. She was just trying to be friendly. But I didn't feel bad enough to provide her with any further information. Sue me for avoiding self-inflicted pain.

"Well…" she said finally, glancing around the room as if she expected a topic to reveal itself suddenly. I didn't say a word.

"You're probably exhausted, right?" She was looking at me now. "I should leave and let you sleep." She turned to leave, but stopped halfway out of the door and turned back around. "Hey, are you thinking about coming to school tomorrow, or just hanging here?"

I shrugged. I hadn't really thought about it.

"Tell you what," Jessica continued, seeing my wordless reply, "why don't I wake you up when I get up tomorrow and you can decide then, yeah?"

I nodded, about to agree verbally when she shut the door.

The girl was almost as perceptive as her mother was expressive. Which is why, I expect, when she came to wake me the next morning, she waited the perfect amount of time for me to wipe my eyes before she came into the room.

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