"It's all about the he says, she says bullshit.
I think you better quit lettin' shit slip,
Or you'll be leavin' with a fat lip."
- Limp Bizkit
Author's Note: What you see above is the format I plan to use for this particular story: song title as the chapter title, fitting caption from the song, and the band's name at the bottom. I don't know why, but I had the urge to do it this way for once! And, surprisingly, my warnings have changed for this one. There will be sex, violence, occasional cursing, and probably some death, as usual. There will not, however, be same-sex relationships. As far as I know, anyway. Just can't see one fitting into this story...Now, enjoy! And please review. Those things keep me going!
"If you're going to keep eating my food, you're going to have to start paying rent."
Words she had heard so many times before that they had lost their meaning...
Her lips tightened reflexively, driven by the memory of this same scenario twenty times before. Her mother stood across the counter from her, lips pursed in the very same way. Eyes of a bright gray locked with eyes of a dismal brown. A smile suddenly spread across her face, a bitter, mocking curve of full, pretty pink lips.
"Tell me again tomorrow." She sank her perfect white teeth into an apple, producing a loud crack over the hushed sounds of the television left on in the next room. "I'm sure I'll have forgotten by then." She turned even as her mother opened her mouth, snagging her black and gray backpack from the dark granite counter top and starting toward the door all in one fluid motion.
"Torryn-" Another loud snap from the apple muffled the woman's words, but it wasn't as if she were really listening, anyway.
She strode coolly through the living room and out the front door, finding a small red car idling in the driveway, like every morning. She hopped down the deteriorating concrete stairs and tossed the half-eaten apple into the yard. After so much as speaking to her mother, her appetite tended to vanish, a pattern she'd come to accept over the years. It was part of why she was so slender, slim and not toned, combined with a fast metabolism.
She pulled the passenger's side door open and found her mood brightening the moment she glimpsed the familiar, smiling face within. "Morning, Skylar," she greeted the boy pleasantly, dropping her bag on the floor of the car and sliding in. It reeked of stale vanilla in here, thanks to an overuse of car fresheners, but it was a smell she no longer minded. Her boyfriend had been driving her to school for months now; she'd had plenty of time to get used to it.
"You seem happy this morning," he replied in lieu of a proper greeting. The car shook as she shut the door, and his smile grew at the sight of hers.
"Not at all." There was a laugh to her voice, however, and she leaned over to kiss him as she would have on any other day. It was quick and light, all that was necessary for a greeting. She'd always found the initial tongue greeting the sluttier half of their town used to be...well...slutty.
"Sure," he said, his forehead to hers. He pushed a loosely curling tress of brown hair, shining with hints of red and blonde in the early morning sunlight, away from her face. His eyes, gazing so sweetly into hers, were of a pretty blue, and she felt as though she were falling into the sky.
She withdrew after a moment, still wearing a smile in spite of her less-than-pleasant morning. "We should go now," she remarked. "It's almost eight. We only have ten minutes to get there." He grinned and backed out of the driveway without another word.
The drive to school was filled with their usual dull chatter, random comments about the weather and what they were doing today. They decided on "a bunch of nothing" as he parked the car, just as they did every day Skylar didn't have to work.
They left the car and parted hastily, well aware that they were running late. Torryn reached her English classroom just as the bell rang, having to hurry to her seat under the teacher's disapproving glare. But it only made her smile, and class went on as it always did. And then, government, calculus, and mythology, until lunch finally rolled around.
She met Skylar and a couple of other friends at their usual table, back in one dark corner of the cafeteria. They joked and talked until the lunch line went down enough, and Skylar drifted to the line with the other two. Torryn, as usual, wasn't hungry.
While she waited for her little lunch group to return, she glanced around the cafeteria. The large, high-ceilinged room was packed, filled with the overly loud, unmistakeable chatter of teenagers trapped in a school building. Each table held a group of its own, with everything from the darker, creepier kids to the scummier, greasy-haired ones crammed together in their own special areas. She didn't have a problem with many of the people here, nor did she particularly like many of them, either. She was perfectly happy in her little corner with the small group she always sat with.
She glanced behind her at the dark hallway containing two trashcans and a can meant for recycling, just out of curiosity. There, she found a lovely surprise.
As stated before, she didn't have a problem with many people in the school; but there, standing beside one of the trashcans, was a member of a group of people she could not stand. There were three girls, talking far louder than necessary and laughing various sharp, obnoxious laughs as they threw away their trash. Torryn knew she was only a few feet from the trashcan, close enough to catch at least little snatches of conversation from anyone standing there, but this...this was ridiculous. She could hear every word as if it were being shouted directly into her ear, and the discourse was some of the dullest she had ever heard.
The bigger girl in the middle had fought some other girl and won. According to her, of course. She was claiming to have knocked her out in one hit, too. Where was the humor in that? She was lying.
The girls all turned at once, having put their ugly black trays on the metal cart by the trashcan. All three of them were wearing tight clothing, thin fabric, in shades of pink and blue, clinging far too closely to their bodies. Their jean shorts were also a bit too much, everything nearly hanging out, especially on the larger of the three girls. One member of the group smiled to show off a set of crooked, yellowing teeth.
Torryn couldn't help herself. A disgusted expression twisted her features as she watched them. She wanted to turn away, desperately needed to look elsewhere, but it was just so...ew. It was like a man on fire, horrible to watch but impossible to look away from. By the time she finally felt able to look away, the girls had caught sight of her. It was too late to escape now.
A pair of round brown eyes had found her, their humor rapidly turning into anger. "What are you looking at, bitch?" barked the bigger member of the group, very characteristic of her too-loud kind. The three started toward Torryn, all narrowed eyes and wannabe-badass attitude.
"A fat girl and a couple of ugly skanks," she retorted without thinking, keeping her voice and expression cool, as if she'd spoken on purpose. Out of her periphery, she searched for any form of help. There were no teachers in this dark corner of the room, and her friends were still absent. She was on her own. And oddly, she wasn't all that worried about it. She'd never fought one person, let alone three, but really. How hard could it be?
"Excuse me? Who the hell do you think you're talking to?" The group was before her now. She rose from her chair smoothly, turning to fully face them with eyebrows raised in a tacit challenge.
"Do I need to say it again?" she asked, more confident now that she actually meant to open her mouth. "A fat girl and a couple of ugly skanks."
The bigger girl didn't waste another second talking. Hell, she didn't even take a minute to look for teachers. She swung.
Adrenaline surged. Torryn's hand darted out to knock the girl's arm aside, the other rushing forward to send a clenched fist into a big nose. The girl staggered back from the force of the blow, but she didn't fall. She lunged again after a split second of recovery time, aiming for Torryn's face once again. She would have made contact this time, had it not been for a quick dodge on Torryn's part. She moved to one side, then rammed her still-clenched fist into the girl's stomach. She had a bit of extra padding there, but not enough to completely protect her from harm. She toppled backward and hit the floor, breathless.
The two skanks moved in at that point, aware that their friend was out of the fight for the moment. Whether they were trying to defend her, trying to look badass, or just that stupid, Torryn didn't know, but she didn't quite feel the need to find out. In reality, she didn't quite have the capacity to feel anything, being driven by instinct as she was. One girl aimed a punch at her face while the other, only an instant later, went for her stomach.
If she hadn't been fueled by adrenaline, this wouldn't have ended as it did. She grabbed the fist headed for her middle and dodged the one going for her face, all in one impossibly quick, fluid motion. Instinct continued to control her movements, upping her strength and her speed. She literally threw one of the girls into the nearby wall, settling for simply shoving the other one to the floor at her feet.
She couldn't quite see, blinded by her raging adrenaline, but she somehow knew that the first girl she'd knocked down was back on her feet. Torryn tensed, waiting as the girl rushed toward her once more, angry and more than willing to continue the fight. But she never got the chance.
A hand closed around Torryn's wrist suddenly. In her current state, every sense heightened, she could feel how foreign the skin was, smooth and oddly cool. It wasn't Skylar, whose hands were rough and always warm, nor was it another of her friends. Not feminine, but soft. Not small, but not large. A man's hand, but without the roughness she was accustomed to. She started to swing at whoever it was , instinct still driving her to fight, but they were already turned away. She felt herself moving down the dark hall, heard the shout of a teacher behind her. Soon, she was forced to a run, a sprint faster than she'd ever managed before.
Nothing else was clear until she heard a door slam. She picked up the sharp scent of cleaners, of soaps and dust and rust. She began to feel claustrophobic without fully knowing why. Warm breath was on her cheeks, steady and calm compared to the ragged, out-of-breath gasps she felt herself sucking in. Slowly, her awareness began to seep back into her. She felt as though she were just waking up, the boy before her just a dream.
She let out a soft cry of surprise when her eyes finally focused on the male. She tried to step back, to add at least an inch to the three that stood between them, but her back hit a shelf. It knocked the breath she'd just regained right back out of her, and the loud rattling of the bottles and tools and the very screws holding the rusted thing together compelled her to jump forward, right into the boy, in case the whole closet fell to ruins around her. He caught her, laughing as she instantly pushed away from him.
"Relax," he said with that same laughter still filling his tone. "I'm not going to hurt you." But when he smiled, she saw that his teeth were strangely white even in the darkness, perfect but for the abnormal sharpness of his canines. Teeth weren't supposed to be pointed like that...
She calmed down gradually, her eyes wandering over the boy's frame. In the dim light of the single dusty bulb overhead, he looked as though he suffered from jaundice. The harsh yellow glow darkened his pale skin strangely. In spite of this, she could tell that his skin was actually very beautiful. Not quite alabaster or pure porcelain, but not darkened by a tan or any sort of blemishes. It was smooth and completely unmarred from what she could see. His eyes gleamed with the same perfection, the irises a crystalline blue rimmed with the barest hint of gray-green. His hair, too, possessed a peculiar perfection even in its intentional messiness, spiked all about with a strand hanging limp against his forehead. It was a brown far darker than hers, nearly black.
He stood only two inches above her, putting him at a manageable height of 5'11. He wasn't scrawny, though he also wasn't bulky. A tight black shirt clung close enough to his torso to give the impression of a six pack even in this faint, off-color lighting. She could tell he must have been rather active, even without the tan that most of the jock type wore year-round.
"Then why'd you bring me here?" she asked after only seconds of studying him. Her eyes had reached his feet, her mind vaguely wondering why he was wearing a pair of tattered black sneakers. The faux blood spatter (at least, that's what she guessed it was in this dark, weird lighting) was nice, but the condition didn't match his faded jeans, nor did it match the newer black jacket he wore.
She looked up just in time to watch his shoulders rise and fall in a careless shrug. "Didn't think you wanted to get in trouble for fighting." But the smirk he wore hinted that there was more to it, something more devious.
She eyed him, suspicion clear in her bright eyes. The gray had taken on a strange glow in the yellow light, one that appeared to be of almost impossible intensity. Perhaps that was why he watched her with such curiousness now.
"I'll still get in trouble," she stated, silently wishing her back wasn't as close as it could get to the rickety shelf that made up the wall. "Someone had to have noticed."
"Well, duh," the boy replied with a light laugh. "It was a fight in a high school cafeteria." He cocked an eyebrow now, as if his next words were much more serious, more clever. "But how many of the people watching know who you are? I don't even know your name, and I know everyone."
She felt mildly comforted by this thought, though she still felt the need to argue, to make sure. "Someone can describe me, I'm sure. Or a teacher who knew me could have seen everything."
"No teachers actually saw you," he informed her with such surety that she had to believe him, "and you were moving too quickly, with your back to the room no less, for anyone to catch much more than your hair. And I doubt they were paying attention to that." He smiled wickedly, his dark side apparently pleased. "There was too much blood."
"Blood?" she asked, eyebrows raising in cool surprise. She hadn't intended to fight in the first place, let alone draw blood.
"Oh, yeah," he said, his tone hinting to an impressive amount of the substance. She still appeared incredulous, however. He reached for her arm and grasped her wrist before she could draw it away, his grip firm but gentle.
The dark splatter along one knuckle came as a surprise to her, the deep gash in another a pure shock. She felt the slightest twinge of pain now that she saw the wound, felt the stickiness of the blood, but it all seemed far away, pushed back by her still-gradually fading adrenaline.
"Where did that come from?" she questioned curiously, clearly referring to the wound. The blood's origin was a bit more obvious.
He laughed softly once more and released her arm, allowing her to draw it closer for a more careful inspection. "Maybe a tooth caught you, or a fingernail. Or maybe just a girl's face." He held up his own hand, the back side to her. He grinned when she looked, arching an eyebrow at one of the few scrapes there. They were recent, but well on their way to healing. How odd... "These things can come from anywhere during a fight."
She lowered her arm, and he copied. She was beginning to look suspicious again. "Do you fight often?" she asked, looking him over again with a new understanding.
"Almost every night, if I can. And I'd say you do the same, judging by how you took care of those girls in the cafeteria." Yet something in his pale eyes said he knew otherwise, that he was just testing her.
"No," she answered, once again wishing she could step farther back, away from this strange boy. "That's a lot. I've never actually been in a fight before." It dawned on her just then that her ability to stand up so easily to those girls was strange. Or...was everyone able to do that? Was it just the adrenaline and a bit of extra agility? But the stranger smiled as if knowing all too well her hesitant, questioning thoughts.
He held out a pale hand to her, manly but smooth and strangely elegant. "My name is Antony Warren. I believe we're in the same grade."
She took his hand hesitantly, her grip feeling oddly girly compared to his. "Torryn Everett. I'm almost out of this damned place."
He grinned at her creative way of saying, "I'm a senior," and replied with a simple, "Same here."
She dropped his cool hand and eyed him once more. Why had she stayed in this broom closet with this weird, perfect boy for so long? She was surprised she hadn't been raped yet. "We should go. The bell is going to ring in a minute."
"Three, actually. We still have time." He reached for his pocket, and she tensed, fearing that he was reaching for a concealed blade or a gun or something. But he only brought out a cell phone, his lips twitching into an unintentional smile at her paranoia. "Would you at least give me your number first?" he asked, glancing up at her as he flipped the black phone open. It cast an eerie glow upon his face, turning it more white than yellow. "You owe me for saving you from suspension, after all."
She frowned, hesitant. She thought of all the things a guy could want in return for his help and wanted to cringe. And what about Skylar? She liked having a boyfriend and not potentially cheating on him. "I have a-"
"Boyfriend?" He looked bored as he spoke, as though this were the dullest topic he'd ever encountered. "I know. I saw you with him once in the cafeteria." She would've been creeped out by that, but she soon realized how many couples she could point out after only seeing them once or twice in passing. She had no right to judge and even less of a reason. "You have nothing to worry about there," he told her, now scrolling through a list on his phone to add a new contact. "My purposes aren't sexual. They're more...violent."
She felt her eyebrows raise in worry. Was that supposed to comfort her? "I don't owe you that much, do I?"
He grinned at her again, the deviousness returning to his eyes. "I think you'll like what you owe me, actually."
She still wasn't quite liking this, but she rattled off her number as she'd done many times before. She didn't seem social, but she had her circle.
"There," she said once he'd stowed his phone away in his pocket, her number safely stored in his contacts. Probably under a misspelled version of her name. "Is that all you need? I'd like to have time to wash the blood off of my hands before class."
He smiled again, this one nearly sending a shiver down her spine. She felt as if she'd just sold her soul to the devil...and all to avoid a bit of school punishment. "Yeah, that's it." He gripped the rusting doorknob and twisted, his eyes still on her. "I'll text you later. Or maybe I'll just call, like people used to do in the good old days." He winked, then pushed the creaky door open and walked out into the more normal lighting of the halls.
Torryn, however, remained in the supply closet's yellow light. Her brain, now free of the adrenaline's influence, was trying feverishly to process what had just happened.
She owed a virtual stranger, a pale, perfect stranger, some sort of violent favor. And he now had her number. He was bound to end up finding out where she lived, too, and he'd probably never leave her alone. And what did she owe him, anyway?
The bell rang very suddenly to her, jolting her from her worrisome thoughts. She reached up and found the cord dangling from the base of the dusty old light bulb. One tug left her in half darkness, her skin now white in the clean glow from the hallway. She stepped out into the brightness of the fluorescent lighting and hid her hand, the one covered with drying red blood. Hurriedly, she started toward the nearest bathroom, swinging the door of the closet shut behind her. She would wash her hands, check her person for any other signs of violence, then fetch her things from her locker. After that, the day would become just a normal school day. Until she received that text or call. Then, things were bound to get interesting...