Title: To Save a Life

Summary: Bradley Shay is tired of fighting for everything. When he's on the verge of collapse, angels come to him and offer him an alternate: they will show him the life he thinks he has always wanted, for an entire year. The catch? He has to lose just one thing, one thing that comes to mean the world to him, in order to keep everything else. Figuring he's got nothing to lose, he accepts, and so begins his plunge into an alternate reality, where his parents are normal, his only friends are together, he has money, and what's more, he's popular. But when he begins to fall for Arian Somers, the openly gay (and beautiful) scholarship student, Bradley isn't quite sure of what he wants. Will his foray into the alternate world save his life? Or end another?

Rating: T for profuse amounts of British slang, cussing, violence and possible death.

Additional Notes: Any of you guys read To Be Missed? Well, if you did, then you'll be getting a bit of a treat with this one! There will be brief cameos from all your favorites: Adrien, Glenn, Kelci and Rowan, and more often, Ramiel and Jeremiel, the angels that both made Adrien's experience possible and made him a bit miserable. If you haven't read it, well, then they'll just be random faces in a story for you, but that's okay! This story is stand-alone, even if it's got brief mentions of another story. And don't forget to review!

Prologue

November 12, 2010

4:45 PM

"Not so tough now, are you, Shay?" The mocking statement was punctuated with a sharp kick to Bradley's ribs, causing the blonde to grunt in pain and jerk back. He was up an instant later, his fury giving a boost to his battered frame as he rammed an elbow into the other kid, Sebastian's, face.

Sebastian Harley was the worst kind of scum. He had spiked green hair, more piercings than any human ought to have, and possibly the worst case of acne Bradley had ever seen. He made a career out of preying on the weak, something that Bradley understood, even if he didn't like it, but what made him such scum was the fact that he had hit a girl, something that Bradley found unforgivable.

And Bradley had let him know as much. He and his best mate, Lester Carmichael (known as Les to those who were friends with him), had cornered Sebastian and taught him a lesson, a lesson which had ended in the green haired git taking a dip in the toilet head first. Lester had stated quite matter-of-factly that "Green turds ought to go back to where they belonged, which is in the shitter."

It had been a good moment; unfortunately, Sebastian was a vindictive bastard and had waited until just the right moment to gang up on Bradley with three of his gang. It was shaping up to be a bloody fight, but Bradley thought everything was going quite well. He'd managed to knock out the friends Sebastian had brought along, at least, and now it was a lot more even. Bradley intended to win.

And he was winning, too, he noticed as Sebastian went down from the elbow to his face. Bradley was on top of him in a second, pummeling his face in with his fists until the other boy was crying and begging him to stop. He punched him one more time to show that it wasn't because of the boy's pleas so much as it was Bradley deciding that enough was enough. He stood up, kicked Sebastian one last time for good measure and then spat on the ground next to his face.

"Not so bloody tough yourself, now are you, wanker?" he commented derisively with a sideways smirk out of lips that were cracked and bloody from the fight. "Next time, I'll be turning your nads into kebabs, yeah?"

Satisfied, Bradley turned and began walking home. He only stopped for a breather when he was absolutely positive he'd not be getting caught. He was a mess, a bloody beaten mess. His ribs were burning and his lips still hadn't quite stopped bleeding. He had a cut dashing across his nose and a gash just below his hairline where he'd been rammed into the corner of a dumpster. His knuckles were skinned from the punches, and small punctures graced each one where one of Sebastian's piercings had given almost as much as they'd taken in the fight.

His dad wouldn't be happy, Bradley decided, when he saw this. He always had that look on his face when he saw Bradley come home with more bruises that meant he'd been in a fight. Even assuring the old man that he had won the fight never quite got that look of hurt and disappointment out of his eyes,. He would just a half-hearted admonishment and then he'd turn and leave, probably to go and tend to his pathetic, sloppy drunk bitch of a mother.

She hadn't always been that way, though. Bradley could remember a time, long ago now, when she had been kind and loving and whenever he'd scrape a knee, she'd be there with a bit of Neosporin and a magical healing kiss for him.

All the troubles started when his mum lost her job at the bank and his dad had to take time off for heart complications. Since then, it was a struggle for his dad to pick up odd jobs to keep some kind of food on the table, working ridiculous, irregular hours wherever and whenever he could and his mother drinking all of their money away, claiming that she needed it or she'd die.

Bradley sneered. Sometimes, he wished his dad would grow a bloody spine and tell her to sod off with her drinking problem and make her own blasted money to support her addiction. Bradley told them often enough what he thought of their stupidity, but that generally only ever got him locked in his room. Not like he stayed there for long, of course. He always snuck out.

Sighing and deciding that it'd be best not to dwell on the past, he altered his course a bit and instead began heading over to Les's house. He'd clean up some before facing his father's disappointed and hurt gaze. It was always easier to pretend you didn't care when you weren't covered in blood and hurting all over.

~*****~

"Oy! Les, open your bloody door!" Bradley said, kicking at the door to the RV parked in Lester's parents yard that served as Lester's room. Lester's reasoning was that his parents always told him, 'their roof, their rules,' but if he was in his own roof, he had his own rules. Thus, he'd made some money and bought the RV for himself and his parents couldn't bitch at him so much.

The door swung open and a half-dressed skinny bimbo slipped past him out the door, looking humiliated. He stepped out of her way an watched her go with a smirk before turning to the tall form that now stood in the door of his RV.

Lester Carmichael was, in a word, cool. He always seemed to be calm and carefree, a smirk always gracing his lips and some kind of musical rhythm being tapped out on his thigh, no matter what was going on around him. Right now, he was standing there with a cigarette in his mouth and a black towel tied around his waist and nothing else covering him up. His dark hair was kind of messy, but in a stylish sort of way, and thick, and his eyes were a dark brown, almost black. He leaned against the frame, taking in Bradley's appearance.

"You look a fright, mate," he said finally, stepping aside and allowing Bradley to move past him into the RV.

"Why, thanks, I hadn't noticed," Bradley said sarcastically, making a beeline for the sink and painfully leaning down to open it and pull out some medical supplies and a clean rag.

"Butterfly bandages are in the top cabinet; I got a new box at market today. Figured something like this would happen," Lester said, having gone into his room to get on a pair of pants.

"Always does," Bradley responded, retrieving the bandages before taking a seat at the table and beginning to take care of his many hurts.

"What's the damage this time?" Les said, stepping out of his bedroom.

"Bruised, possibly cracked ribs, cracked lips, bloody knuckles and a nice gash along my hairline," Bradley answered immediately, having expected the question.

Les moved over to him and tiled his head back, looking at the gash and applying some medicine.

"Owowow!" Bradley protested.

"Stop being such a bloody baby, you git," Les said fondly, reaching down into the box of butterfly bandages and closing up the gash. "Not too bad."

Bradley made a face, but accepted the assessment and ministrations of his friend. "You might want to be careful. They might come for you next. You were there, too, you know."

Les cast a sideways glance at his friend. "Thanks for the concern, but don't worry about that. I already took care of it."

Bradley raised an eyebrow. "How'd you manage that?"

"Paid 'em off," Lester said, moving to the sink to wash some blood off of his fingers from the gash.

"Ha, figures. Where do you get all that money anyways?" Bradley asked, sitting back and wincing when that caused his battered body to shift uncomfortably.

"Steal it from dad," Les said, smirking.

"Wanker," Bradley muttered with a shake of his head, but he couldn't help the smirk that stretched out onto his face.

Sighing and standing up, Bradley patted Les on the shoulder. "Well, mate, I'm going to head home. Dad's going to have a fit when he sees this, I bet. Maybe if he's at work I can sneak to bed before he sees."

"Fat chance, that,. Why don't you just stay here for the night?"

"Amina's coming over at 10 isn't she?"

"Well, yeah, but--"

"You know I don't get along with her. The bitch needs to learn her place."

"Oh, come off it. You just don't like that she and I have a sort of chemistry."

Bradley scoffed. "Right. A chemistry that you abuse by boning every pretty bird you see these days."

"I do not!"

"And the lovely lady that just left when I got here?"

"An associate," Lester said, rubbing his nose.

"Right. Look, Les, I'm not staying here. I can handle my dad just fine."

"Fine. But be careful, yeah?"

"Always," Bradley called, shrugging one of Les's jackets on to hide the blood on his shirt.

And Bradley was careful, too. He even nearly made it home to his drunk mum and his workaholic dad when he was hit with the car that belonged to his arch nemesis.

Luckily, he'd managed to roll on top of the car to avoid having every bone in his body broken, but he couldn't quite avoid all of the injury, and he flopped painfully on to the ground as the car sped off.

Bradley couldn't move. His whole body hurt and he didn't know what to do. His parents wouldn't be able to afford all of the treatment he'd be in need of for this. He may as well just die there. Tears threatened to overwhelm him for the first time since he had been 6 years old.

This is it. I'm going to die here. Should've stayed at Lester's. Even if Amina was coming over, I should've stayed.

A sudden jerking took hold of his arm, and he knew that things were about to get worse. He was an epileptic, although he didn't let that fact get around, and seizures always started with a small jerk, and then he'd suddenly feel it all over, and everything would get out of control. He hated having a seizure; he hated losing control of himself.

Without warning, a sudden flash of light lit up the side of the road where he'd fallen, and a woman stood there. She was the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen with a child-like face and golden hair bound in tight curls all around her face.

Almost immediately, he felt a calmness sweep through him, and all of the warnings of a seizure swept away, replaced by a feeling of security that he could never face.

"Poor child," said the woman-child in a voice that sounded like twinkling bells. She knelt down next to Bradley and touched his face with a hand, which reminded him of when his mother had still done that. He didn't even find himself minding that she'd called him a child. How could he be mad at this beautiful, innocent creature?

Then, another figure appeared, this one larger and male, with dark skin and golden eyes. "Ramiel," he said to the woman-child, "is this the one?"

"Yes. I have been watching him. He is the one I wish to help."

"Very well." the large male came over and knelt down next to Bradley as well.

"What's going on?" he asked, his voice sounding sort of sleepy to him. He was pretty dazed, he noted.

"Are you tired of fighting, child?" Ramiel asked, petting him.

"Yes," he said, suddenly finding the energy to sit up. All of his pain seemed to have been erased by the presence of these beings, whatever they were.

"What is it that you want more than anything?"

"Money. Popularity. My family the way it should be. A really hot girlfriend. And a beautiful cherry-red convertible."

"I am Jeremiel, and this is Ramiel. We are angels. We can give you all of that, an entirely new life, for one year. But there is a catch," the male, Jeremiel, stated.

"What catch?" Whatever it was, Bradley was pretty sure he'd do it. His whole existence was one big fight. He needed a break, desperately. And if these "angels" could give him that, he'd take it.

"You must lose one thing in return," Ramiel continued.

"Which thing?" If his life involved having lots of money, a nice car, a girlfriend and a nice school, he was relatively certain he could deal with losing one of those things.

"Whatever it is that you value most from that life, it will be taken from you, but if you so wish it, you may continue on having all of the others."

"Sign me up!" Bradley said. He would probably have to give up the car, then, but he could live with that for the sake of being free from having to fight for every single thing in his life.

"Very well. You must also not tell any of this to anybody. It is of the utmost secrecy. Now, shall I send you there?" Jeremiel said.

"Yes. Bring it on," Bradley said, smirking.

The whole world seemed to suddenly go fuzzy then and he fell back to the ground, his body shaking violently in a seizure. Thinking he'd been bamboozled, Bradley felt his consciousness swept away, replaced by darkness.

~*****~

A/N: And that, my friends, is the very first chapter of the new story! Please review and tell me what you think!