A/N: Here is the chapter as promised! I hope you all enjoy it! Thanks for all of your support so far, and don't forget to review. (:

Chapter Eleven

"Are you sure about this, Bradley?"

"Positive, Ariel. It's gotta be the only way."

"But I feel ridiculous! What if they all laugh at me?"

Arian and Bradley were standing outside of Quinn's house, Bradley trying to coerce Arian to relax and to hurry up inside to the party with him. Bradley had been invited, of course, seeing as how it was his girlfriend's party, but Arian…not so much. Bradley had insisted that he was allowed to come, because Bradley had invited him, but Arian was not so sure.

"If they laugh, you laugh with them. That's how you survive," Bradley explained, reaching over to straighten out Arian's collar on the new shirt that had been bought for him."That, or you punch them in their ugly faces." Bradley patted him on the chest with a grin before turning to look at the door.

Loud music was pounding from within the massive house, and bright lights flashed. Bradley wasn't a big fan of these types of party, but he was expected to attend. Besides, it had been the perfect opportunity to get Arian out there with his new, rather stunning, look. Steeling himself, Bradley moved to enter the door and was promptly dragged back and to the side by Arian, who pulled him away from the door as another couple, already piss-drunk, stumbled past them and into the home.

"What is it now?" Bradley asked, irritated, as he turned to look at Arian.

Arian's face was serious as he surveyed Bradley. "Are you sure you should go in there? The lights are rather…"

"I'll be fine," Bradley said, brushing off Arian's concern. "If I let myself get deterred every time I went to a party with lights like this, I'd never have gotten popular. And this time, I promise I took my medicine properly. Now can we please go in?"

Arian surveyed him for a moment longer, and then he sighed. "Fine…"

And with that, they stepped inside.

~*****~

As the lights and music surrounded him, Arian wondered briefly how the hell Quinn got away with this stuff; even if she had been wealthy, his mother would never have let this happen. Ever. Trash littered the once-posh foyer and every other room in the home, and drunk teenagers threw up or were having it off at regular intervals around him. The place smelled of sweat and vomit and sex and alcohol, all very strong scents that combined to make Arian's stomach twist uncomfortably.

Bradley, however, seemed just as comfortable as ever. Greeting, teasing or calling out to various partygoers casually. He wondered if there even was a place where Bradley felt out of sorts or like he was in the wrong place; probably not. Everywhere he went, he commanded attention and exuded confidence. Arian envied him.

As they walked up to a particular group of teenagers, Arian swallowed convulsively. This was the real test. They were all the people that treated him the most poorly, with the exception of Sebastian who wasn't often invited to parties simply because he was more trouble than he was worth. Even his friends disliked him.

Bradley immediately gave them high fives or handshakes as he saw fit, moving to wrap his arms around Quinn and kissing her deeply, whatever disagreements they may have had previously having vanished mysteriously.

Arian blushed and looked away, feeling even more self-conscious as the eyes of the rest of the group landed on him. He found himself wishing for Lester or even Amina, but they weren't around. Amina had probably talked Lester into doing something else.

"Oi, is that you, Somers?" said one of the group. A boy named Tony, who Arian was pretty sure had slept with Quinn multiple times and who often boasted about it and was really jealous of Bradley and hated him. That is, whenever Bradley wasn't there to hear about it. Nobody wanted to be on Bradley's bad side.

Bradley had talked to him about how he should respond to people who asked that question, but Arian felt his mouth dry up as he tried to speak, "Yeah, it's me. Who'd you think it was? Bloody Gordon Ramsay?" He finished off the pathetic statement with a nervous laugh, and immediately began cursing at himself for his stupidity as silence reigned.

Even Bradley paused in kissing Quinn to stare at him sideways with an arched eyebrow, as if saying, 'what're you thinking?'

Blushing even brighter, Arian moved to quickly escape, but Bradley pulled him back, resting an arm casually across his shoulders. "Arian looks spiffing, don't he?" he said, pointedly glaring at the people all around them.

Short comments of agreement followed and Bradley patted him on the back before returning to the heated embrace of his girlfriend, and the others moved to continue their conversations from before as if Arian wasn't there.

Arian released a breath he hadn't known he was holding and moved to lean against the wall. Maybe he could survive this. As he tried to pretend he was invisible, though, he was pulled back to the outside world by someone heading his way.

A rather pretty girl with blonde hair and brown eyes and a dusting of freckles across her face was moving through the crowd. He could see her friends tittering and watching from a distance as the girl moved, blushing brightly as she came to a stop in front of him. "U-um. M-my name is Serenity. I was just wondering…I mean, would it be alright…" the girl looked like she was about to cry and Arian blinked in confusion at her.

At the same time, silence reigned as the group became aware of the situation and Arian cursed inwardly. So much for just getting through this. Trying his best, he tried to buck up. "Would it be alright if…what?"

The girl blushed and then said all in a rush, "Would you please dance with me?"

Everyone stared at him for his response. It was obvious that they thought he should say no. Even Bradley was shaking his head. But he couldn't. He wasn't like them, no matter how much Bradley wanted him to be, and even if he didn't find girls sexually appealing, it wasn't fair to treat her like some second-rate citizen. He smiled at the girl and held out a hand, "I'd be happy to."

Arian danced with Serenity for a while, even going so far as doing a slow dance with her. "I thought for sure you'd say no," she said as he held her close.

"Why's that?"

"Well, you're incredibly fit," she said, her face turning bright red, "And you were hanging out with that lot."

"I'm not like them," Arian said, "Bradley's alright, though."

Speaking of Bradley, the blonde was pushing through the crowd with Quinn, heading towards the stairs. He knew what they were going to do, and, for some reason, he was filled with unhappiness and discomfort. He was alone now, and Bradley was off with Quinn. In fact…

In fact, a part of him was raging in jealousy.

"Everything okay?" Serenity asked, "I don't think I got your name."

"Arian," he said, coming back to his dance partner, "It's Arian Somers."

"No way!" she said, "You don't look anything like…"

She squinted at him, and Arian fought the amusement that filled him. "Oh my god, it is you! I never imagined…that's not to say you weren't cute before…but…"

Arian chuckled. "It's alright. I don't even feel like myself to be honest. This was some big plan of Bradley's."

"You two must be close. How did that happen? Wasn't he always tormenting you?"

Arian wondered what to say to that. "I dunno; we just talked one day and found we got on. He's not as much of a jerk as he tries to make himself out to be. You'd never guess it, but he's actually rather nice."

"I'll believe that when I see it," Serenity said, and the song ended. "Thanks for the dance, but it's getting late, and I think my parents will be worried. Catch you at school?"

"Yeah, alright," Arian said, and then he watched as she moved over to the group of her friends and they all began gossiping, heading towards the door.

And then, Arian was all alone. Sighing, he moved back over to the wall he'd previously been occupied. But even as he walked over, he knew he would regret it. Without Bradley there to protect him, he had no guarantees of acceptance.

~*****~

Upstairs, Bradley and Quinn had finished their business and were laying in her bed, passing a cigarette between the them.

Quinn's head rested on Bradley's bare chest, and she moved to look up at his face, blowing a tuft of smoke at him. "What were you thinking?" she asked.

"When?" he asked, waving the smoke away before taking a draft of the cigarette and then putting it out on her end-table, knowing how much she hated that but not particularly caring.

Quinn sat up. "You brought that punk. To my party. What the hell did you think you were doing?"

Bradley rolled his eyes. "It's a bloody party. I'm entitled to bring whoever the hell I please."

"Not to my party. I'm sick of this. He's been tagging around with you for ages now. It's like he's this permanent attachment to your side. Don't you love me, Bradley?" she asked, pouting at him. "I feel like he's come between us lately."

"Of course, darling," Bradley said, sitting up and taking her face in his hand and kissing her. When they parted, he patted her face and smirked. "But I don't answer to you, now do I?"

Quinn's face twisted in outrage as Bradley threw his legs over the side of the bed and stood, moving to pick up his pants and pulling them up over his hips. He didn't bother buttoning them or putting on a shirt, instead just running a hand through his hair. "Listen, this summer, why don't you come with us to camp? You and Arian could get to know each other. You'd be surprised. He's actually not all that bad."

He smirked at her. "Besides, if I remember correctly, you have to do some community service at some point."

"How dare you—"

"Now love, calm down. It's not exactly news; everyone knows about how you got caught with crystal. Nothing to be ashamed of, but your poor father went through all the trouble of getting you off with a lighter sentence, so you may as well."

Quinn shrieked and threw her pillow at him. "Get out!" she screamed, rolling over in her bed.

Bradley chuckled before doing as she bade him; he was even happier now that he'd gotten his memories back; they were serving him well so far. Besides, he wanted to find Arian anyways.

~*****~

As Bradley stepped off the stairs, eyes turned to ogle his chest. He lavished the attention—he knew he was attractive and wasn't ashamed to show that off. Plus, it was bloody hot in the place. All the bodies and things certainly didn't make for an especially comfortable experience.

His eyes immediately searched the crowd for Arian, but he was nowhere to be found. Puzzled, Bradley moved over to the group he'd been left with. They were all giggling about something, and Bradley was almost afraid to find out what it was.

"Oi, you lot. Where's Arian?"

"Oh, you mean Ariel? He's in that closet. We don't know when he'll come out," Tony said with a grin, receiving a high-five from one of the other guys at his perceived wittiness.

Bradley's eyes widened and he quickly moved to the closet, pulling the door open. Arian toppled out, his whole body wrapped in some sort of golden banner, his mouth duct-taped closed and a glistening bow from Christmas time caught and tangled in his hair.

Bradley quickly unwrapped him and pulled the tape off his face, helping him to his feet. "You alright, mate?" he asked, his hand on Arian's shoulder.

Arian shrugged it off. "You knew this would happen!" Arian accused, his eyes glistening with unshed tears of humiliation and anger.

"Oi, I had no idea! I thought you'd be fine! I never thought—"

"Fuck you, Shay! Just…Fuck you!" Arian rushed out of the house, shoving through the guests to get out of there as fast as he could.

Bradley glanced round at the stunned, silent party guests, fury evident on his face. Several of them looked terrified, but Bradley's furious gaze moved to the group that had been most guilty in the humiliation. "Do you have any idea what happens to people like you, who piss me off?" Bradley said, his voice deadly and quiet.

They exchanged a nervous look, but that was all they had time for before Bradley was on top of them; he'd teach them what it felt like to be humiliated.

~*****~

Arian hadn't really thought through his dramatic escape. He'd come with Bradley in his stupid car, so he couldn't go especially far. So instead of rushing home, he had kicked a dent in the side of the ruby-red convertible and then leaned against it with his arms folded and his face still burning.

Moments later, Bradley rushed out of the house, looking smug. "You don't need to worry about that lot anymore, Arian. I took care of…Oi! My car!"

Bradley rushed over and kneeled next to the car, running his hand over the damage. Arian had the decency to feel slightly guilty at that; after all, the car had done nothing wrong. Still, he refused to apologize. He'd been humiliated, and it was all because of Bradley's stupid idea.

"Get in," Bradley said with a sigh and a glare, moving to the driver's side. Arian silently climbed into the passenger's seat and Bradley started the car, beginning to drive down the road. It was probably the most uncomfortable car ride that Arian had ever taken. Neither of them spoke a single word as Bradley drove.

After what felt like an eternity, Bradley pulled up in front of his complex. Without a word, Arian moved to get out, but Bradley grabbed his arm, stopping him. "Listen, I really didn't mean for any of that to happen. I was only trying to help you."

"Yeah, well, bang-up job," Arian said, trying to climb out once more, but Bradley's grip on his arm was steadfast.

"I'm trying to blood apologize! Would you just stop already?"

Arian sighed and rolled his eyes, sitting back and preparing to listen to whatever else Bradley had to say.

"When I thought up this plan, I thought for sure it would work. I thought I could fix everything. I thought we could change their minds. I never suspected that they would be so close-minded or petty. I never meant for you to get hurt, Ari. Never. And you can believe that or not, but it's the truth," Bradley said, then ran a hand through his hair once more, a habit Arian had started noticing about the blonde. "The fact is, I don't have many real friends. I'm popular, but that's the only reason people want to be friends with me. Aside from Lester…Aside from him, you're the only person in this life that I can count among my friends. And if I could erase everything that Tony and them did tonight, I would. Because more than anything, I'm upset with myself for not protecting you better."

"Well, you bloody well failed at that. In fact, I'd rather do without your protection; it only got me hurt more," Arian said harshly, and Bradley quickly looked down. Arian's face softened though. "But…I'm thankful that you cared enough to even try. But if I can't be myself, if I can't be true to me…then it's not worth it to be popular. Maybe you should consider the same."

With that, Arian opened the door and began heading to his apartment. It took Bradley a moment to figure out what to say, but then, he called, "Oi, Ariel!" and Arian turned to look at him with an eyebrow raised, "We still mates?"

Arian rolled his eyes. "Still mates. See you at school!"

And Bradley smiled before restarting the car to head home. As he drove though, he looked in his rearview mirror and nearly screamed. Ramiel was sitting there, surveying him with her wide, serious eyes.

"Have you figured out what you're going to lose yet?" she asked.

"Probably my girlfriend," Bradley said, "But you know what? I don't really care."

She stared at him for a long moment, and Bradley felt distinctly uncomfortable. And then, without another word, she vanished, leaving Bradley feeling hollow and afraid; what else could he lose? He was afraid to find out.

~*****~

A/N: And there it is! Please don't forget to review!