I Could Never Take Another's Hand, It's To You I'm Condemned.








Sascha/Aleksandr Valentinovich Raskolnikov: Physically: Shortish about 5'7, dull green eyes, chestnut coloured hair, very thin, dark circles under eyes, not porcelain but pale skin, very high defined cheekbones. Rather shy and quiet, isn't all that confidence, has a major inferiority complex. Likes music but isn't very good at making it what so ever. Has a few friends at school but doesn't really relate to them or hang out with them very much as over the course of years they've slowly grown apart, but just hang out together still as they always have. Has a best friend who works at the same café as him. Nobody knows he is gay except for Mags and the two boyfriends he has had in the past. Likes to paint as well.

Mags: Short and very sweet. She is a perky, cheerful little ray of sunshine. Very understanding and a good listener, but when on her bad side it's very scary. Has a normal body not thin not fat. Naturally white blonde hair usually has some random neon colour streaks. Aqua coloured eyes.

Taylor: Physically: 6'1, black hair, stormy grey blue eyes, thin but slightly built, perfect face, pale skin. Very confident, loud, and has a lot of energy. Digs partying, doing drugs, and has a real abrasive in your face type of attitude. A little bit arrogant as well, plays guitar. Enjoys hardcore music and is very promiscuous. Is very hated around the school and doesn't take anyone's shit.

Nadezhda/Nadia Valentinova Raskolnikova: light auburn hair, blue eyes, and high cheekbones, thin, short. Has never gotten along with her brother even when they where kids. Ballet dancer, resentful, angry.

Yelizaveta = Liza: their mom. Mamulya

Anoushka [model name]

The prisoner 1112

Plot: Alex is a shy kid with low self-esteem; he has a twin sister Nina. They have never gotten along. His dad was a bourbon drinking sociopath who disliked the fact that Alex had never been one of those overly manly guys. He thought football was stupid, and would sooner paint. His sister was obviously their father's favourite. His dad would slap Alex around a bit but his favourite was mind games and making him question his self worth. However that changed when he went in Alex's room and seen a picture of him with his boyfriend at the time. He snapped and kicked the living shit out of Alex. He ended up with a broken wrist, concussion, two cracked ribs, a blood transfusion, and a myriad of bruises. It would have been worse had not Alex's mother intervened and tried to stop him, which resulted in his mom getting beat up. His dad stormed off in a rage and Ana promptly filed for divorce. Alex really disliked his school most of his life as it had been a crazy catholic school and he really found it all to be bullshit. As you can obviously tell his father was 'religious' and chose the schooling, his mom went along with it as he would get a better education there then at the public school. The school is rather small only five hundred people or so. Alex has a few friends who he has a hung out with for years, despite the fact that they don't have too much in common they're still his friends. He also works at a coffee shop with Mags. He has had a crush on Taylor since he started attending the school two years ago after getting kicked out of public school. They end up getting paired together for a science project and they end up getting along rather well. After which a few days later he invites Alex to a rave as he learned about his love for electronic music. They end up hitting it off and a week later Taylor disappears for a while due to a binge. During this time Alex ends up telling his mom about his sexual orientation and how it's his fault their dad left. Nina who is really pissed off about him leaving ends up telling the entire school knowing it would outcast him. Which is what happens, soon the people he called his friends treat him like a pariah and he feels even shittier about himself. However one person is happy about it when he gets back to school as he so eloquently puts it "I can now shamelessly hit on you without feeling like a sexual predator."

Clyde: regular person

Cranked: excited

Razz my berries: impress

Subterranean: hip

Mook: moron

Grease: to kill


Giggle water: alcohol

Threads: clothes

And how: I strongly agree

Hopped up: fucked up

Eighty-six: get rid of screaming meemies: the shakes

I awoke to the annoying sound of my alarm clock and groggily rolled out of bed. Rubbing the sleep out of my eyes I stumbled towards the closet and grabbed some clothes. I managed to pull on my skinny jeans and a faded Jawbreaker shirt. I couldn't help but stare into the mirror, as I got ready; I've never been the biggest fan of my physical appearance. I always just looked… I don't know? Sickly I suppose. Dark circles constantly adorned under my eyes… I don't think I've ever really experienced a good nights sleep. I'm constantly tossing and turning and waking up throughout the night. Not to mention my skin was really pale, but no… not that beautiful porcelain colour, that disgusting anaemic type of pale. Then to top it off I have to wear nerdy looking glasses… okay I'm a liar I like my vintage looking black-rimmed glasses. With a small sigh I ran a comb through my chestnut coloured hair and shook it into my eyes. I wandered upstairs to the kitchen and grabbed a cup of coffee and dumped a lot of sugar in it wishing we hadn't run out of Splenda.

"Would you like some coffee with your sugar?" My mom asked while refilling her cup.

"You can never have too much sugar," I replied.

"Are you going to eat any breakfast today or just too much caffeine and sugar?"

"You know I never eat breakfast," I said feeling self-conscious. She was always trying to get me to eat more; I just don't have much of an appetite. A lot of times I have to force myself to eat.

"You should probably start making your way to school if you don't want to be late like your sister," she said with a small smile.

"Okay, I just have to brush my teeth." I said before quickly chugging my coffee and scurrying to the bathroom. I brushed my teeth at a lightning speed and made my way out the door… not before grabbing my messenger bag filled with books. I trudged down the sidewalk and made my way to school a couple minutes before the bell rang. Another day in this shit hole, I grabbed my books and entered the science room. I took my seat near the back and stared out the window while the class slowly finished to fill up. Once the last bell rang Mr. Morris came in and started to go on and on about-inherited traits or genes or something as equally boring. I was snapped out of my daze when I got hit with a little folded up note. I took a glance around and seen Mr. Morris was sufficiently distracted with writing something on the whiteboard. I unfolded it and started to read it.

Hey Alex

This class is sooo boring! But at least you being in it makes it a little bit better. It's too bad we have assigned seats though. So what'd you do this weekend? Mine was so dull, all I did was go to some stupid party and had to babysit my little sister. It really sucked. Are you going to that dance in two weeks? I might… not too sure yet. It doesn't look like it'll be all that amazing but if I had a date to it, I'd probably go. Plus it's an excuse to buy a cute dress.
xox Mischa

I couldn't help but have a small sigh escape my lips as I finished reading the note. Mischa wasn't very subtle… and I thought I made it clear I didn't like her that way. Don't get me wrong she is cute with her perfectly tailored blonde hair and big hazel eyes. But I don't swing that way, I obviously wasn't about to just go out and say "sorry I'm gay" that'd be a catastrophic thing to say in a school as religiously close-minded as this one. There was only one openly gay kid here and he was constantly in fights and only a handful of people had no problem with him. But I just really don't know how to stop her. I thought by ignoring her advances she would take a hint… but I guess not.


I didn't really do all that much this weekend. I mostly just worked and watched old movies with some friends. Your weekend sounds like it was better then mine was. But I think saying I was working sums it up pretty well. I probably won't go to the dance in two weeks. School dances aren't really my thing; I could be doing so many better things with my time then listening to some shitty music in the gym.

- Alex.

I folded up the piece of paper and threw it towards her. She managed to pick it up off the floor and a small frown adorned her face as she read it through. Thankfully before she could scribble another one he came in the door. He was late, as always… but when you looked that good you could afford to be fashionably late. "So Mr. _____ I see you've decided to join us," Mr. Morris said.

"Yeah I thought I'd grace you with my presence," He replied taking a seat not too far from my own.

"Well then, why don't you answer this question for me? Who discovered DNA?" he asked hoping he wouldn't know the answer.

"What the hell do you mean who discovered DNA? It isn't something you can discover, your skin is DNA, your blood is DNA, it's all around you. What I think you meant to ask me was who discovered the molecular structure of DNA and that would be Francis Crick, the guy dropped some acid and seen the swirly twist around thing whatever it's called. Won a Nobel prize for tripping balls." He said with a smirk. I loved listening to him talk he always spoke with the utmost conviction… as if you'd be absolutely insane to refute him.

"Well you're partly correct, however I doubt he ingested LSD." Mr. Morris said condescendingly.

"Everybody knows he dropped acid, hell it was still legal during the time. It wasn't made illegal till 1968, shows what you know," he spat back. I couldn't help but sneak a glance at him… he was just so amazing. He was the epitome of perfection with his shaggy black and purple hair and stormy greyish-blue eyes. Not to mention his face was just… ugh. I sound like an obsessive ten-year-old girl, but I just can't help it… he's absolutely gorgeous. I've had a crush on him since he started going to school here two years ago… but haven't spoken a single word to him. He was so different compared to everyone else here. He was constantly getting into fights, disappearing for lengths of time, and partying like crazy. Apparently he got kicked out of the public school after lighting up a joint in math class and throwing his desk at the teacher or well that's what my friend Mags says… but who knows. I quickly looked down at my books before he noticed me staring. I can remember how ecstatic I was when I learned he was gay… until realization sunk in. Why would someone like that want me? I'm not good looking enough, I'm not interesting enough, and I'm far too shy. I got smacked again with another note and uncrumpled it. She really doesn't give up does she? I scribbled on the paper and threw it back hoping the bell would ring soon. She couldn't stop going on about that dance and asking if I'd still think it was stupid even if I went with an amazing girl. Fuck it was annoying. The class continued on like usual no more outbursts from Taylor and Mischa decided to stop throwing me notes. I eagerly walked out of the class and to my locker.

Around lunchtime I wandered towards the cafeteria. I stood around in line for a while and ended up grabbing a juice box and granola bar. I slowly inched my way to our table where of course Mischa was with a huge grin on her face once she seen me approach. "Hey Alex! What's up?" she asked in her bubbly tone. I guess she forgot about science class.

"Uhm nothing? Drinking juice," I replied stabbing open my juice box and taking a sip.

"What's Jawbreaker?" Tim asked looking at my shirt.

"It was this bad that's since broke up. I don't know how I'd describe their sound I guess maybe punk or post-hardcore? But not early punk or anything," I said opening up my granola bar and taking a small bite of it.

"Oh, never heard of them." He said eating his nachos.

"Have you heard that Save Your Generation song by Fall Out Boy that isn't really on any album I don't think?" I asked drinking some more juice.

"I have," Jana said excitedly.

"Yeah it's a Jawbreaker cover, except they kind of fucked it up by taking some lines from Boxcar and throwing it in there." I said quietly. Lunch continued on like this, my small group of friends sat around talking, Mischa batted her eyelashes at me, and I didn't really say much. But they where used to it, we don't really have a lot in common. They're nice people don't get me wrong, but over the years we've grown apart. I just have different interests then they do.

The bell rang and I threw my wrappers away before moseying on to Social Studies. I once again took a seat near the back and doodled on the desk waiting for the bell to ring. Once class started Mrs. Grahm started to drone on about something or another to do with the U.N or some other boring shit like that. It really didn't interest me in the slightest; it wasn't till the end of class when she announced that we'd be working on some project in partners that I tuned it. I didn't even know we where working on a project… let alone what it's about. She handed out some sheet and then went to her desk and said, "Alright I'll be choosing your partners for you so stop looking at your friends so hopefully." She continued on her list naming out random kids in class till she finally got to me, "Taylor and Aleksandr." I felt my heart start to beat wildly. I couldn't help but feel nervous and excited at the same time. But then worry kicked in, I was bound to make an idiot of myself around him.

"I'm going to get to the point, fuck social niceties." Taylor said standing in front of me. "I need to get a good mark on this project if I want to pass, so we're unfortunately actually going to have to work on this shit. Now when do you want to work on it, as I highly doubt this haggard bitch is going to give us time to do it in class as she never does."

"Uhm… I-I… I don't really care... I have to work tonight… but I'm not busy tomorrow," I said quietly feeling absolutely idiotic for stuttering.

"Alright whatever, I guess I'll talk to you tomorrow," he said before stalking off to his desk. A couple moments later the bell rang and I quickly made my way out of class.

As I exited the school Mischa was standing near the front doors and eagerly came up to me. "So what are you up to tonight?" she asked walking beside me.

"Work," I muttered.

"Oh, that's too bad I was going to invite you over to watch some movies. Maybe some other time then?"

"Yeah maybe," I said.

"Well I guess I'll see you tomorrow! Bye Alex." She said her smile faltering as she turned in the opposite direction to her car. I shook my head and made my way towards the little downtown coffee shop I worked at. Once I finally got there I threw my bag in the back and pulled on my black apron that had my name and 'My Little Pony' stickers courtesy of Mags adorning it.

I walked around to the espresso machine and was quickly greeted by a hug from my best friend. "I know I'm unbelievably sexy but I thought you had more self control," I said with a laugh.

"Shut up! Can't I hug my best friend?" The short platinum haired girl with rainbow streaks said.

"Not until you get your cootie shot."

"Got it last week so it's all good in the hood," She said with a snicker. I quickly wrapped my arms around her and then the bell signalling a customer rang. She walked over to the till and took their order. It usually worked like this; she'd take the orders and handle all the money and stuff while I made the drinks. I dumped some milk and syrup in a frothing cup and started to foam the milk. We had a few people come in and we worked in relative silence.

Once nobody was in line I said, "I have something I got to tell you."

"You're pregnant?" She asked.

"Be serious for one minute, pretty please?" I asked.

"Fine," she said with a pout.

"Okay so you know that Taylor guy I told you about…"

"The one you've liked for a bajillion years and most likely have disgustingly kinky wet dreams about?" She asked interrupting.

"No that really creepy guy who busks down the street," I said sarcastically.

"Snarky snarky!"

"Anyways… so we're partners for this project in social and stuff. And ugh I'm just freaking out on the inside. He just seems like such an asshole… like when he first came up to me he was just so in my face and…"

"If I recall correctly you once said one of the things you like about him is how straight forward and to the point he is."

"Can I finish?" I asked with a raised eyebrow. "It's just I'm freaking out. I'm going to make a complete idiot out of myself. I fucking stuttered when he talked to me. And I'm so fucking shy and won't know what to say to him and we don't even get class time to work on it. So we'll be alone together and I'm just going to be a thousand times as nervous…." I rambled on.

"Alex, chill out. Stop thinking about it, you're over analyzing everything. I'll admit for a guy that wears tight jeans Taylor is pretty intimidating and while he seems like an asshole he is a pretty nice guy. I can't say I know him all that well or anything but every time I've talked to him he was pretty nice and that's pretty much what everyone except the freaks at your school think. So stop freaking out, besides shouldn't you be excited that you're finally going to spend time with him… even if it is over something as lame as educational purposes?" she said trying to calm me down.

"You may be right but I'm still freaking out," I said playing with my apron.

"Aw cheer up sunshine, you're a real cool cat. You got nothing to worry about."

"Thanks, you're the greatest."

"You know it," she said with a big smile before going up to the till to take another customer's order. Work continued on and it was just as dull as always. I'm positive if Mags wasn't there I'd go insane… but thankfully everyone who works here is pretty cool. They're usually one of Mags' friends, as her parents own the joint. It was near closing and I was finishing up the mopping while Mags cleaned the counters and tables off. "Alright so tomorrow you have to call me and tell me every sordid kinky detail of your project."

"You're going to grow up to be a rapist or direct porno," I replied.

"Only scheisse films baby," she said and winked.

"Disgusting!" I exclaimed before going to the back and putting the mop away. I then took off my apron and grabbed my messenger bag. "Well I think I'm going to head home," I said walking towards the door.

"Wait five minutes for me to get rid of this apron and I'll give you a ride," she said going towards the back. I waited patiently and moments later she emerged jingling her car keys.

"You don't have to you know, I mean it's kind of going out of your way." I replied.

"I'd rather waste a bit of gas then have my bestest friend walk around downtown at night."

"You make me sound like an eight year old girl," I said crossing my arms.

"Come on slow poke," she said starting to walk towards the door. We left the café and she quickly locked up and then we entered her beat up silver car. To be honest I'm surprised the thing ran but hey she only paid $300 for it and it got you from point A to point B. Once she pulled up to my two-story house I gave her a quick wave and walked inside. I ran down stairs to my bedroom and quickly got started on my homework. I didn't have much but still homework no less. I scribbled in the answers… or well what I hope is the answers at lightning speed and once I was finished proceeded to read some more of Naked Lunch by William Burroughs... again. Then it hit me… the perfect birthday present for Mags. She was turning seventeen in a couple weeks and I couldn't think of anything to get her, but this idea I had was brilliant. I ran to my bookshelf to search for it, I had somewhere in my possession a first edition hardcover… not some mass-produced paper back of Burning In Water, Drowning in Flame by Charles Bukowski. It even still had the wrap around ribbon on it. Unfortunately some careless asshole put a small ink spot from a felt marker on the cover… but regardless it was perfect. She hasn't read much Bukowski only a little bit here and there but since she loves the 'beat generation' so much she is bound to love it. I finally found it underneath a pile of poetry books ranging from Ginsberg to Plath to Poe. It was one of my favourite books but I think that's what made giving it away even better. I ran upstairs to find my mom if there was any wrapping paper in the house she'd know where it is.

She was sitting on the couch watching some TV show or another when I excitedly asked "Hey do you know where any wrapping paper is?"

"What do you need wrapping paper for?" she asked in her accented tone.

"Mags birthday present, I finally figured out what to give her," I said with a big smile spread across my face.

"Hm… well there might be some in the storage closet downstairs but it's probably got Christmas designs on it."

"Thanks!" I exclaimed before running down the stairs. I skidded to the storage room and started to rummage around. I finally found some it was bright red and covered in snowflakes but it didn't matter at all to me. I also found a bunch of light purple ribbon and a bag of bows. I wrapped up the book and put a ludicrous amount of bows and ribbon on it then set it on my desk. After a while of just reading and such I decided to shower and head to bed.

When I awoke I still felt tired as I had a terrible nights sleep, I was nervous all night coming up with a million scenarios of me making a fool of myself in front of Taylor. Once I dragged myself out of bed, I rummaged through my closet and laundry basket trying to find something nice to wear before realizing I wouldn't be able to impress him regardless so why bother? With a defeated sigh I pulled on some black skinny jeans and a green plaid shirt. I considered putting some white liner on my bottom water line and some black eyeliner on my top waterline along with mascara to make my eyes and eyelashes appear bigger but decided against it. I was fucked around with at school enough for my clothes I don't need to add wearing makeup to it. I made sure to scrub my face super clean and ended up sweeping on a little foundation and silica powder so my complexion would at least be nice, even, and shine free. I also spent extra time on my hair giving it that tailored messy look before shaking it into my eyes once again. It'd probably look better if I trimmed it a bit but it was nice to be able to hide behind hair to avoid looking someone in the eyes. Digging through the tackle box under the sink I popped out my wooden ebony plugs and slipped in some purple stone plugs… I've considered further stretching my ears (I really want to go up to 3/4ths 1/2inch doesn't feel big enough anymore) but I really don't want to buy all new jewellery. I didn't even realize I was late until I noticed my mom wasn't even home anymore. I quickly slipped on my vintage neon orange chucks Mags got me when we went thrifting and grabbed my messenger bag. I didn't even remember to make coffee so I decided to quickly grab one at a little shop on the way to school. I was about fifteen minutes late when I came in and entered my Career and Life Management class. "Care to explain why you are late?" Mr. Munroe asked.

"Sorry, I overslept," I said looking down at my feet. I hated it when I was put on the spot like that. Does it really matter why I was late?

"See that it doesn't happen again," was all he said before getting back to his lesson. I sat in the only free desk and pulled out my books. The class was absolutely dull I really don't even see the point behind it. Yes we all know what STD's are, we've taken sex ed how many times? Yes we know that according to the government drugs are the worst thing to ever happen to society despite the fact that everyone knows the efforts to save us from drugs has caused more destruction then drug use itself. I sipped my soy latte and pretended to pay attention. Thankfully Mr. Munroe ended up putting on a movie for the end half of class so there really was no work involved. Once lunch rolled around I bought a cup of disgusting cafeteria coffee and ended up having to dump a lot of sugar in it. I made my way towards my usual table and seen everyone was there. Tim, Jana, Mischa, and Ryan. I've been hanging around with these cats for years, well no Mischa only hung out with us a bit until she decided to focus her attention and yearning on me. It was flattering and all as she is really pretty… but still rather annoying.

"So how was work?" Mischa asked.

"It was okay, I ended up slipping on some water Mags left on the floor but it was a pretty decent shift," I replied lamely drinking the fowl concoction in my cup.

"Fuck I have to write this stupid ass book report on some book from like the twenties in a few days," Ryan complained.

"What book man?" Tim asked.

"I don't know Great Gatsby or some shit like that," he said sourly.

"The Great Gatsby is pretty good, it's about all these rich people who party and get fucked up during the prohibition era. Plus it's really short," I said before taking another sip of my coffee.

"Really? That's sick." Ryan said.

"Is there a movie of it?" Jana asked.

"I think so," I replied lamely. Pretty soon the conversation was overtaken about some new horror movie that was absolutely amazing… I hadn't even heard of it. I felt like I lived in the bat cave I was so out of the loop when it came to pop culture. Hell all of my [albeit limited] knowledge of pop culture came from Chuck Klosterman books. The bell finally rang and I walked to Social class. My heart was beating a mile a minute as I entered the familiar room and took my seat. The class filled up and soon Mrs. Grahm was droning on about some bullshit or another. Truth be told I wasn't paying attention all I could think about was later today. I quickly filled out the worksheet we had handed out to us but I highly doubt I did all that good on it; I really wasn't paying much attention.

Once class was over Taylor stopped me just outside the door. "So I guess we should work on this thing after school, we can't do it at my house so what about your place?" he said impatiently.

"My house is fine," I said quietly refusing to make eye contact.

"Alright meet me by the front door after school," He said before stalking off to his next class. I quickly scurried to my next class and couldn't help feeling extreme anxiety over what was going to happen after school. Once school was over I filled my messenger bag with my social textbook and project outline and took a deep breath before heading towards the front door. Once I exited the school Taylor was standing there leaning against the wall with a bored expression on his face. "So you got a car or are we taking mine?" He asked boredly.

"Yours I guess…" I said. He nodded and I followed him through the parking lot to a beat up dark blue car. I got in and he lit up a smoke before skidding out of the parking lot. I quietly gave him directions while he drove to my house at a dangerous speed. Some band I've never heard of before but who where pretty good blared through the speakers. I'm glad we didn't talk despite how awkward it was, as I would've ended up saying a bunch of stupid things. We finally got to my house and walked in, I kicked off my shoes and once we entered the living room we where confronted by the glare of my sister Nadya and two of her moronic friends.

"What's that freak doing in our house?" She said intensifying her glare.

"Go fuck yourself bitch, it isn't like anyone else will," Taylor spat out vituperatively. We headed downstairs to my room Taylor silently following me. Once we got in my room I threw my messenger bag on the floor and sat down next to it.

"I didn't know that bitch was your sister," he said dumping his books on the floor as well.

"Yeah… she's unfortunately my twin," I said pulling my books out of my bag.

"So, what should be do this thing on?" He asked opening up his textbook.

"I… I… don't really care... To be honest… I haven't been paying any attention to what Mrs. Grahm has been going on about," I said with a small blush.

"Oh well its just some report on the downfalls and positives of a organization of nations or some shit like that, I wasn't paying much attention either. But I think we should do ours on the Soviet Union as it'll probably have the most information about it out."

"Okay," I said opening my textbook and grabbing the project outline "Uhm… I'll be right back… I think there's some books about the Soviet Union in my house," I said quietly before quickly slipping out of my room. At least he picked something I would have a lot of shit about in my house as my mom after all lived in communist Russia and is a history professor at the local college. I went into the office and started scanning the bookshelves before grabbing an encyclopaedia, and about five books covering topics from the rise and fall, the revolution, the genocide, and well pretty much anything else you could think of that had to do with the Bolsheviks. The pile was large and heavy but I managed to bring them all downstairs without dropping a single one. It wasn't until I tried opening my bedroom door that they all came tumbling. I quickly picked them back up and set them down by our textbooks feeling intensely embarrassed.

"Holy fuck that's a lot of books," he said while looking through which ones I grabbed.

"Yeah… there might be more laying around elsewhere… but these ones looked promising," I said quietly before opening up one of them and grabbing a notebook and pencil off my desk.

"Your house is just crawling with books, even your room is," he said looking around my disorganized dark purple and black bedroom.

"I guess," I said quietly.

I started to jot down notes in my notebook. We worked in relative silence until he finally said, "can I turn on some music or something? This silence is driving me crazy."

"Go ahead… there's cd's stacked… all over, some records in the yellow milk crate… and a bunch of stuff on my laptop." He nodded and started going through my random piles of cd's. "Isn't it a bit late to still have an unopened Christmas present?" He asked holding up Mags' gift.

"Oh… uhm… it's my friend Mags' birthday gift… it was the only wrapping paper I could find," I said quickly diverting eye contact.

"By Mags do you mean that Maggie-Lynn chick, you know the one with the constantly changing hair colour?" he asked.

"Uhm… yeah." I said quietly.

"Hmm, didn't think you where friends with her. You seem like you two would have real conflicting personalities as you're so quiet and she's the complete opposite and shit," he said while setting down the gift and looking through more of my albums.

"No… she's my best friend," I said refusing to make eye contact. I just pretended to focus on the book in front of me.

"Shit going through your cd's is going to take forever, can I just check out your iTunes?" he asked walking up to my computer.

"Go for it," I said. I started to jot down some more notes while he clicked around doing what the fuck ever.

"Damn you have a fucking excellent collection of various electronica, didn't peg you as the type to dig that stuff."

"Yeah… it's good. The rave scene is just… I don't really know how to describe it… other then amazing," I said feeling unbelievably nervous.

"I don't think I can picture you at a rave, not to be presumptuous but you seem way too reserved to be into that scene," he said before putting on a song and sitting back down by the mess of books.

"I've only been to one… but I guess… the environment… and when I'm rolling… I'm not so shy," I said refusing to make eye contact.

"Well aren't you full of surprises, what's next you also strip on weekends?" He said with a smirk. I couldn't help but blush and focus on my notebook.

Thankfully I soon heard a knock on the door and my mom came in, "Sasha is your friend going to be staying for dinner?" she asked while looking at the mess of books on the floor.

"Uhm… I don't know… are you?" I asked looking at Taylor.

"Sure, but I'm a vegetarian," he said.

"Oh don't worry Sasha is as well," she replied

"By the way Mamulya I took a bunch of your books from the office as we're working on a report about The Soviet Union," I said.

"Too bad you're terrible at reading Russian all the best ones aren't written in English," she said before leaving the room. She often made remarks about me not being able to read Russian very well despite speaking it fluently… but in my defence the Cyrillic alphabet has some of the same letters as the Latin alphabet but they make completely different sounds so it's fucking easy to get mixed up.

"Sasha?" Taylor asked with a raised eyebrow.

"It's uhm… a common nickname for Aleksandr in Eastern Europe." I said nervously.

"Oh it's cute," he said before getting back to his messy pile of papers. I couldn't help but blush and further hide my face.

We continued to work and what little conversation we did make tended to regard the project and if he could smoke in my room. That is until Nadya barged in and said with a sneer, "suppers ready." Then turned on her heel and left. I set my pencil down and slowly made my way upstairs Taylor in tow. We entered the kitchen and one of Nadya's friends was still over… Jill I think her name is. "Go and help yourself to whatever," my mom said motioning to the food on the counter and stove. I grabbed a bowl and put a little bit of mushroom shchi in it, grabbed a small slice of rye bread, and poured some juice in a mug.

"Uhm… do you want some juice?" I asked Taylor.

"Yeah sure," He said grabbing the jug. My heart felt like it was about to beat out of my chest when our hands brushed against one another's. I took my food and sat at the table. Taylor took a seat next to me while Jill and Nadya sat across from us and my mom sat at the head of the table. I slowly started to eat a bit while Jill and Nadya where engrossed in quiet conversation.

"Sasha aren't you going eat more than just soup?" my mom asked with a small scowl on her face.

"I'm not really hungry…" I said quietly staring at my bowl.

"I think you're just anorexic," Nadya said venomously. My mom threw a fierce glare towards her, which would put Nadya's to shame. "Look at him!" She exclaimed in her defence, "he's so bony and he barely eats anything not to mention his skin is all gross and pale, he's all frail and weak and is constantly greying out and shit. I wouldn't be surprised if he puked up what little he does eat."

"Nadezhda, that's enough." My mom said in a sharp tone.

"Don't get angry with me for admitting the truth you wish to deny," she said casually.

The room was enveloped in an awkward silence as I sat there awkwardly. Why did she have to bring that kind of shit up? Okay so I may have some issues with food… but it's not like I'm anorexic… I do not have an eating disorder. Not to mention of all the fucking times to bring up something like that, she chose now! Ugh what the fuck is wrong with her… what did I ever fucking do to her? The silence continued on until Taylor decided to break it by saying, "So Mrs. Uhm… shit I don't know your last name…"

"Just call me Liza," she said with a small smile.

"So… Liza I hope you don't mind us hijacking all your books. They're really informative. I just took a random stab in the dark by choosing The USSR to do our report on; it's really rad that you have so much information on it. But what are these books written in Russian that you mentioned earlier?" He asked.

"Well I grew up in the former Soviet Union as you can probably guess by my accent. And I just have some more in-depth books written by people who where actually there and not just random historians. However most of the ones you two have downstairs are rather informative. I'll have to take a look around the house tonight and see if there are some other ones you will find useful. However you should keep in mind that while Joseph Stalin was in power he constantly had revisions made to textbooks to shine him in a far better light than that swine deserved,"

"Thanks Liza, I really appreciate you letting us use all this stuff. There's no chance of me failing social now," he said with a small laugh. It continued on like that. Jill and Nadya quietly speaking to one another. Taylor and my mom talking and me sitting there awkwardly while eating my dinner at a snails pace. I finished up around the same time as everyone else and put my dishes in the dishwasher. Taylor was behind me and followed suit and then we wandered back to my bedroom.

"So… do you want to continue working on the project… or… uhm resume later." I asked quietly.

He checked the time and said; "well we have quiet a bit of shit so I guess we can just work on it another night. Do you work tomorrow?"

"Uhm… yeah." I said messing up my hair a bit and looking at my shoes.

"Well what about the next day?"

"Uh… yeah but it's… a really short shift… I'll be done around six."

"Well I guess I'll see you around six then," he said with a smirk before grabbing his things and leaving.

After he left I picked up all the books and set them along with my notes in a neat pile. I grabbed my copy of Naked Lunch and read in silence. I made sure to shut my phone off as Mags would undoubtedly call sometime tonight and I wanted to at least wait till tomorrow to give her all the 'sordid and kinky' details as she describes it, it'll at least give us something to talk about during the dreary thing called work. I washed all the makeup off my face and made my way to bed.

The next day I didn't talk to Taylor, but still couldn't help but steal glances at him every now and again… thankfully he never caught me. Mischa continued to shamelessly flirt with me, and I made my way to work once again. I couldn't help but smile as I entered the café. It wasn't like a Starbucks… it had character there was a 'NO BEATNIKS' sign on the front door and another sign that said 'HIPPIES PLEASE USE BACK DOOR' also the hours all ended a little oddly. We didn't close at 10:00 we closed at 10:02. Plus the inside was just nice, the espresso machine covered in comics and quotes. Artwork on the walls that was constantly being changed… hell even some of my paintings adorned the walls from time to time, maps on the roof, four clocks stating the time in different cities around the world. It was impossible to hate this place with its checkerboard linoleum and tasty coffee. When I entered the shop Mags immediately said, "You ignored my calls."

"Figured I'd give us something to talk about today," I said walking into the back and pulling on my apron.

I hopped up onto the back counter as it was pretty dead and soon Mags started in on an interrogation. "Tell me everything! Even the smallest details," she said in an excited tone.

"Uhm… well. I don't know… he stayed for dinner. And my mom likes him I think,"

"Hm… what else?" she said her smile growing.

"He said my nickname Sasha is cute," I said a blush crossing my cheeks.

"Well did you make a fool of yourself like you thought you would?" She asked a little more seriously.

"Kind of… I ended up dropping the books I grabbed from upstairs all over. And I couldn't help but stutter a tiny bit and eye contact was completely out of the question, I also blushed like a zillion times. Then Nadya had to go on about how I'm all anorexic and bulimic and shit it was so fucking awkward afterwards. But then he broke the silence by starting a conversation with my mom while I just sat there silently wishing to kill her in her sleep and find a nice corner to die in," I said scuffing my shoes against one another.

"Aw cheer up sunshine, she's a stupid whore!" She said before engrossing me in a tight hug. "Besides he didn't call you anorexic he called you cute."

"He called my nick name cute," I said a tiny bit disappointedly.

"That's probably just his subtle way of calling you cute, you do after all go to a crazy close minded religious school. He probably didn't want to scare you off, so chin up kid."

"Scare me off," I said with a scoff. "If I had the confidence I'd jump his bones."

"Yes but does he know that?" Mags said triumphantly.

"No…" I replied quietly, "but you know just as well as I do why I can't be open about it till high schools over."

"I know sweetie only four or five some months before that hell is over and you're a high school graduate you lucky duck," she said with a grin.

"Yeah I guess you're right," I said smiling.

With that she turned around and went to take someone's order. I made coffee as usual while Mags did all the social interaction. After a while she said, "I'm going to sound like your mother but we're not having the endless conversation where I insist you eat, you say you're not hungry, and I force you to anyways. What do you want for supper? A panini like usual or should I grab us something from upstairs 'cause I'm fucking ravenous."

"I guess something from upstairs, I'm kind of sick of sandwiches."

"Alright, be back in a flash." She said before running upstairs. Yeah she also happens to live upstairs. There was this little studio apartment up there; her parents lived out of town. So they let her move in up there once she was sixteen as it was closer to school and she's only had her car for a few months. Not to mention it allows the café to be open a bit longer and for someone so young she's responsible as hell.

I stood around boredly when a familiar face entered. "I didn't know you worked here Alex," Taylor said while standing by the till.

"Uhm… yeah. Slinging caffeine seemed less dangerous then meth." I said refusing to make eye contact. "So… uh… what can I get for you?"

"Hm… how's the London fog?" he asked.

"Uhm… I've never had one," I said uncertain.

"Well I suppose I'll try it, I guess I'll get a medium soy London fog with extra vanilla," he replied.

I started to punch a few buttons on the till then said, "okay that'll be 3.50".

He fished around in his pocket for the money and while handing the exact change to me said, "nice name tag."

I quickly looked down at my nametag covered in sparkly 'My Little Pony' stickers and blushed. "Uhm… thanks," thankfully I had an excuse to end the conversation and started to make the drink. As I frothed the soymilk Mags came down holding two bowls of ramen.

"Mags, long time no see," Taylor said.

"Yeah man, what's shaking?" she asked. I finished making the drink and handed it to him before picking up my food and sitting on the back counter.

"Not all that much the usual shit, too many drugs and too many fights. What about you? I haven't seen you since that party like a month ago," he said with a grin.

"The usual shit working, hanging out, nothing all that exciting." She replied then turned around to me, "Alex get off the counter and go sit at one of the many empty tables."

"I have to make drinks and stuff, plus I always sit up here. Why do you care all of a sudden?" I asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Alex it's deader then a graveyard here, come on we'll go sit like normal people." She said grabbing her bowl of noodles and giving me one of her 'don't you dare think about defying me' looks.

A small sigh escaped my lips and I muttered something along the lines of, "you're so fucking pushy." Before hopping off the counter and carried my food. Of course she just had to go and sit down at the table Taylor was at. I nervously sat down next to her and Taylor sat across from her slowly sipping his tea.

"You should turn this joint into a ganja café. You know kind of like the ones in the city and shit. I mean you wouldn't sell weed or anything but people would always be in here, plus they like munchies," Taylor said with a smirk.

"That's a pretty good idea but it'd offend a lot of people in this hell hole unfortunately," Mags said sadly.

"Yeah I guess," he said. "Well I'll be back in a minute I need a smoke like you wouldn't believe." Then he left and stood out front with a cancer stick hanging from his lips.

"Alex," she said smacking my arm. "Start talking or something, you shouldn't feel so awkward I'm sitting here too."

I slowly swallowed my noodles and said, "I can't I'm going to say something stupid plus I can never form coherent sentences around him. He probably thinks I have down syndrome or something."

"No he won't. He'll think you're all cute, and sweet, and shy which you are. So play it to your advantage," she said.

"I can't. You just don't get it Mags all of this stuff comes easy to you but I'm the most socially awkward person ever and it doesn't help that he's the fucking epitome of perfection," I said with a small sigh.

"While I sympathise I really do. If you don't start talking to him I'm just going to tell him that you've had a crazy huge crush on him for the last two years and want his body," she said with an evil smirk on her face.

"You wouldn't," I said incredulously.

"Oh, but I would," she said slyly. I quickly looked up from my bowl to see him flicking his smoke and coming back in. I immediately looked down at my food and nibbled at the noodles. "So have you seen that new horror movie… fuck I don't know what it's called?" Mags asked once he sat back down. Gee good going Mags try to get me to talk by starting a conversation about something I won't know a thing about.

"Shit do you mean that one with like that brutal curb stomping scene?" he asked.

"Yeah that's the one, is it any good Alex and I where considering going to see it," she said.

"It's brilliant, so gory but with not being over gory and fake looking. Pretty good plot line as well," he said taking another sip.

"Mags if it isn't about zombies… whatever the hell it is, then I don't want to see it," I said quietly.

"You're no fun, what do you have against horror movies other then your oh so precious zombie films?" she asked.

"The characters are annoying. They all scream too much… and do stupid things," I replied.

"So what is your favourite movie? Night of the Living Flesh Eaters or something?" he asked.

"Uhm… no… it's… embarrassing…" I said looking down intently at the table.

"I won't laugh scouts honour," he said with a smile.

"I can't picture you as a boy scout," I said refusing to make eye contact. I know if I did I'd end up stuttering like a moron.

"I rocked that uniform, until they kicked me out for making all the other scouts look bad."

"Yeah… I'm sure that's why they kicked you out," I said sarcastically.

"Stop trying to change the subject, I want to know what's your favourite movie?"

"It's… Harold and Maude," I said quietly.

"What the fucks Harold and Maude?" he asked.

"If someone told you the basic plotline you'd think it was creepy and weird. But it's actually pretty good, mind you if Alex forces me to watch it with him one more time I'm going to have an aneurysm," Mags interjected.

"Shit what time is it?" Taylor asked looking around.

"Well it's eight here, eleven in Buenos Aires, three in Amsterdam, and seven in New Delhi," Mags said.

"Thanks, you should label those clocks a little more clearly though… or I should wear my glasses. Anyways I better get going it was nice to see you again Mags, and I guess I'll see you tomorrow Alex." He said before hightailing it out of the shop.

"You're the most awkward person I've ever met," Mags said before devouring the rest of her supper. I slowly ate some more noodles before throwing them out. I'm so fucked up. Why can't I just be like a normal person and be able to eat an actual full meal without feeling the need to throw it all up? Why can't I have a healthy appetite instead of just forcing myself to eat a little bit here and there to avoid passing out.

"Mags… I feel like a freak, am I a freak?" I asked hopping back onto the counter.

"Yeah, but everyone's a freak. Some people are just better at hiding it then others," she said with a reassuring smile on her face. I gave her a fake smile, but didn't feel any better. We closed up, said our farewells, and I made my way home. I needed time to think. I finally made it home and entered my house making my way to my bedroom. I received a glare from Nadya who was watching TV and logged onto my computer. What I ever did to her… I still don't know. It's been like that since we where kids though, I mean yeah as a child I just thought it was that regular sibling rivalry thing. But I think she actually hates me… aren't twins supposed to be close?

Around lunchtime I sat at the usual table and Mischa decided to ask me, "so Alex… are you coming to the movie with us tonight?"

"Uh no I got to work then have this project to do in social," I replied boredly.

"Aw can't you just do your project some other time?" she asked.

"No sorry only time my partner isn't busy and shit," I said before taking a drink of water.

"Who's your partner?" Jana asked doodling on the table.

"Taylor… I don't know his last name."

"Poor you, that kids a freak," Jana replied.

"Yeah he is pretty fucked up not only is he a fag but I heard he slashed this guy outside of a bar. Apparently the guy almost died; he went right for the throat," Tim said before eating some more of his lunch.

"Shit that is fucked, I've heard some crazy things about that guy but that is definitely near the top. I saw him kick the shit out of Mark though it was intense. Don't get me wrong Mark put up a hell of a good fight and got in some real good hits, but fuck… that psychopath just doesn't know when to stop. Teeth, blood, broken nose, all that shit it was crazy," Ryan said.

"I don't really know him that well or anything but he seemed pretty normal to me," I said surprised by the fact that my friends actually believed some of these crazy rumours surrounding him. I mean yeah there was a lot of crazy shit floating around about him… but to think he actually slashed some guy's throat? You have to be fucking kidding me.

"Maybe he's just trying to get in your pants, he is gay after all," Mischa said.

"Not all gay guys hit on every guy they see… that's just illogical. That's like saying all straight guys hit on every chick they see," I said trying not to sound defensive. "Not to mention we have some friends in common and end up at the same parties and everyone seems to think he's pretty normal from what I've gathered." Some days I don't even know why I hang out with them… how close-minded can you get? But then I remember how much fun we had together back in the day… I suppose we are just growing apart and aren't the people we once where.

"Regardless he's still weird," Mischa said.

"Yeah the kid is fucked up, he's always out of his mind on drugs. Hell I even seen him smoking a joint in the parking lot a few months ago," Jana said.

"The guy probably sells drugs too… I mean how else would he pay for them?"

"Prostitution?" Mischa asked.

"Jacob was telling me that he heard he inhales computer duster to get high and huffs gas and shit when he doesn't have enough money. He even overdosed on cough medicine once," Tim said.

"Wouldn't fucking doubt it, the guys a right freak. I once heard he sold one of his kidneys on the black market for drug money," Ryan said.

"Shit, I haven't heard that one yet… it's probably true though, he seems like the type to do something like that" Tim replied.

"You can't be serious?" I said, "Do you really believe every rumour you hear? Black market kidneys, cutting throats, are you guys listening to yourselves?"

"Alex the kid is obviously fucked up, not to mention a lot of this information came from credible sources," Jana replied.

"Geez Louise I've heard everything now, what are we in junior high? Do you have any idea how ludicrous a lot of this shit sounds?" I said trying to sound completely indifferent. I fucking hate the mentality this school breeds… how idiotic can you get? Who would actually buy this shit?

"Crazy people do crazy things," Mischa said.

"Yeah I guess," I replied not bothering to continue this conversation. It was obvious it was going nowhere… seriously if they believe he sold his kidney on the black market… well then there was just no point.

I sat around making the odd contribution to the conversation as the topic strayed from Taylor and to the dance coming up. Fuck school dances is all I have to say… shitty music, hanging out in the gym with the teachers around, sounds like fun.

I wandered home from work really not looking forward to continue working on the project. Once I entered my house I grabbed a granola bar and went to my room. I slowly ate while reading Naked Lunch and listening to some music. After a while of reading I heard a knock on the door then Taylor came in.

"Hey what's up?" he asked walking further into the room.

"Uh… nothing really," I said setting my book down and going to grab the pile we had for the project.

"So should we continue working on notes?" he asked sitting down on the floor and leaning against the bed.

"Uhm… sure," I said opening my notebook.

We worked on collecting more notes and then he asked, "What song is this? It's really good."

"Oh… uh Dorothy at Forty… uhm yeah… I have the album Happy Hollow on… but this isn't Cursive's best work at all," I said avoiding eye contact.

"Rad, I'll have to check out some more of their shit. This kind of music isn't usually my style but it's good. What's their best album?" he asked scribbling down on his paper.

"The Ugly Organ… without a doubt," I replied. "So uhm… what kind of music are you into?" I asked trying to take Mags advice and actually talk to him.

"Shit… I'll listen to anything if it's good. But I'll admit I'm more punk, metal, hardcore, orientated. I also dig a lot of dubstep and hardstyle and well I'm pretty open minded when it comes to electronica; except happy hardcore fuck happy hardcore. What about yourself?"

"Uh… early punk, some folky stuff, cliché indie rock… post-rock… post-hardcore… uhm… original emo like Rites of Spring and stuff… trance… dnb… jungle… I don't know whatever sounds good I guess," I replied staring intently at my notebook. The evening continued on rather mundanely we mostly worked on the project and made a bit of conversation here and there. It never really went past small talk. By the time we had finished taking notes it was pretty late.

"Well I guess I'm going to go," Taylor said standing up. "I don't know you that well or anything so I don't know if you'd be into this but you said you liked electronica and shit. Well I got the map points to this rave happening tomorrow night so you want to go?"

I felt my heart start to beat a million miles per minute, "uhm sure when does it start?" I asked.

A small grin quickly spread across his face and he said, "I think around ten or eleven or some shit? It's an all night event and some really great DJ's will be there. It's like two hours away though in this like field outside of the city, so uh I guess I'll pick you up sometime around seven or eight… well whichever depending on when it starts." He quickly left afterwards.

I pulled out my cell phone once I cleaned up all our stuff and put the books back on the shelf; and punched in Mag's number. I gushed to her about how excited I was and how I couldn't work, thankfully she didn't mind.

I awoke extremely excited; I was looking forward to the rave tonight. Hell I even drank a bunch of cough medicine to knock me out so I'd be well rested. School seemed to drag on and on however. Lunch time was terrible, religious studies was excruciating, and Mischa kept passing me notes and trying to get me to do something with her over the weekend. She even mentioned possibly visiting me at work… which was definitely not something to look forward to. By the time school ended I was practically exploding with excitement. I took meticulous time on my appearance pulling on my bright green skinny jeans and black shirt covered in tiny lightning bolts in every colour of the rainbow. Hell I even wore a bit of makeup something I usually never had the courage to do so. Sure it wasn't much just a tiny bit of eyeliner but it really did make my eyes pop. It was nearing seven when I ran upstairs to tell my mom I was going to a party tonight and won't be back tonight. She usually wouldn't be so obliging but I didn't go out to party often plus I mentioned it was at Mags' place and she loves Mags.

I anxiously sat on the couch waiting for the doorbell to ring and when I finally heard it I couldn't help but practically run to the door. "Hey," I managed to squeak out before quickly making my way to the vehicle. I couldn't help but feel undeniably nervous as I sat in the warm car. We drove practically in silence the 'soft' hum of Bad Brains being the only background noise.

"So uh… I don't really know you that well. What do you do for fun and shit?" Taylor asked finally breaking the silence.

"Oh uhm… I guess I read a lot. I like to paint as well, but I'm not very good. Hang out with friends, listen to great music… nothing all that exciting. What about you?"

"Nothing too spectacular. I party a lot, listen to great music, and just live life I guess. I really fucking dig playing guitar as well."

"That's really rad. I've always wanted to play an instrument but am pretty much musically retarded… well I suppose I played the recorder in elementary school but that doesn't really count."

My heart felt as if it was beating out of its chest as he grabbed my hand and weaved us through the crowd. The music pulsated from some speakers near the stage where a guy with dreads stood behind a turntable.

The room was buzzing with laughter and conversation as everyone eagerly partied in celebration of Mags' birthday. I on the other hand sat at the kitchen table drinking my beer with a sour expression on my face, avoiding eye contact with everyone. I wasn't in a good mood. I knew Taylor was too good to be true, of course he'd associate with a scumbag like Jesse. I don't know why I let it affect me so much though… I really shouldn't let someone affect my mood like that. Taylor is a junkie, scumbag, man-whore… so I should be glad I didn't get all that involved with him. I backed out before getting too hurt, sure it feels shitty right now… but it's nothing some alcohol can't fix. I shouldn't just sit all solemnly… this is Mags' birthday and my shitty mood isn't going to ruin it. I chugged down the rest of my beer and wandered to the fridge. Throwing the PBR can in the recycling bin I grabbed another and walked up to a small group of people. "Hey what's shaking?" I asked cracking open the can and taking a sip.

"Oh hey Alex, not all that much we're just discussing Waking Life," Thom replied.

"Have you seen it?" Darcy asked adjusting her Wayfarers.

"Hm… I'm pretty sure. That's the film that is kind of animated but at the same time realistic feeling and is set in a dream and just talks about various philosophical topics right?" I asked not quiet positive if I had the right movie in mind.

"Yeah, that's the one. What part of the film did you enjoy the most? " Niles asked.

"This is probably going to sound sort of trivial as it covered such an array of deep topics and I'm picking something so… well regardless. I think my favourite part is when he talks to that woman with red hair who has that soap opera idea and when they pass by each other and they just talk about not being another face in the streets and how we just brush past people and stuff," I replied.

"I think you're the first person I've heard say that's the part they enjoy the most. I mean most people usually just say something like 'I dig the animation' and go on about how it was 'trippy' or try to start a conversation about universal consciousness when they have no fucking clue what they're talking about. I never really thought about that scene too much but when you think about… it's really beautiful. I don't want to be just another face in the street either," Thom said before chugging his drink.

Our conversation was soon interrupted by a tipsy Mags skipping over and throwing her arms around me in a super tight hug. "Alex you're amazing, amazing, amazing," she gushed squeezing the life out of me.

"You're pretty amazing too Mags, now can you let go I can feel my ribs crushing?" I asked.

"Sorry, but shit… I just opened the present you gave me. It's so thoughtful and nice and fuck… I just love it."

"What'd he get you?" Niles asked curiously.

"I'll show you!" she said beckoning for us to follow. We all followed her to the other end of her surprisingly large apartment and there leaning against the wall was a painting. "Isn't it amazing… Alex painted it for me. It's just perfect, then to top it off he gave me his first edition copy of Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame." She quickly pulled me into another bone crushing hug and said, "It's all so fucking perfect!"

"Shit that's actually really good… How long did it take you to do?" Darcy asked.

"Oh fuck… well it was something I had planned for a while… ever since Mags was telling me how the thing she missed the most about Seattle was the skyline at sunrise and yeah it was something I had always wanted to paint for her; I've been working on it on and off since summer as I used oils. To be honest though I didn't even think of giving it to her as a birthday present up until a few days ago."

"I'm surprised you never told me you where an artist," Thom said. "I really like how you mixed the sun coming in from the horizon with the overcast so native to Seattle, not making one over power the other but just blending together flawlessly."

"Yeah that is pretty great, I just love all the fine details on the buildings," Niles added. The four of us stood around discussing art as people came over to wish Mags a happy birthday. The apartment was to put it bluntly overflowing with people. I couldn't help but feel a tiny bit of resentment towards my parents as I looked around the room. Not a single person from the tiny ass school I go to was present. However there where a lot of people from the two public schools and others who have graduated, it just made me feel a little blue that I was stuck at the shit pit known as Saint Francis High School. "I'm going to get another drink," I said mostly to myself before wandering back to the fridge.

As I mixed myself a strong drink from someone's vodka that was just sitting on the counter some girl who I didn't really know but had seen in the background at a couple of parties came up to me and flirtatiously asked if I'd mix her a drink as well. Nodding I grabbed another plastic red cup and made hers just as strong as mine. "I'm Jade," she said introducing herself.

"Alex," I replied taking a sip of my drink and leaning against the counter.

"So Alex I haven't really seen you around are you new in town?" she asked batting her eyelashes.

"No, I just go to the catholic school unfortunately," I replied with a grimace.

"That's pretty shitty," she said.

"Yeah that pretty much sums it up, anyways nice to meet you and all that jazz," I said before wandering back to where Mags, Niles, Thom, and Darcy where standing. By the time I got over to them Sarah was also standing around with them and just about to spark a blunt. "Hey Sarah, long time no talk," I said before taking a sip of the burning liquid.

"Alex! It's been a while, I just got back from Cape Town," she said with a smile.

"Fuck I can never get over how much I love your South African accent," I replied.

"And I can never get over how much I hated boarding school in South Africa," she said with a laugh.

"Yeah that would be pretty shitty, I'd most likely go insane if I was in boarding school," Darcy said. Soon enough Sarah sparked the large blunt and we stood in a small circle passing it around trying not to cough our lungs out.

I woke up with a pounding in my head and a foul taste in my mouth. I tried to recall the events of last night but the latter end of it was only coming in flashes. Groaning I dragged my body out of bed to get a drink, weirdly enough my bedroom door was open; I thought nothing of it until I noticed the person sleeping on the couch in my basement. Taylor was stretched out with a pillow from my bedroom supporting his head and a small smile on his face. What the fuck happened last night? Once I got in the kitchen I grabbed myself a glass of water and some advil. I chugged the water and poured another glass before thinking of what would I should make for breakfast to get rid of my hangover from hell. I was debating between burnt toast or just going out to buy some greasy French fries. Unfortunately we where out of bread and I didn't feel like going outside in my condition so I decided to make some perogies. Groggily I dumped them in some hot water and pulled out a frying pan to grease them up. Not too long after I started Taylor wandered upstairs and sat down at the table. "There's advil on the counter and water in the fridge," I said not taking my attention off the cooking I was attempting to do.

"Thanks," he said before grabbing them.

"Want some?" I asked pulling them out of the water.

"Sure," he replied tiredly. I managed to make two bowls of greased up perogies and passed one to him.

"So what the hell happened last night?" I asked suddenly feeling very self-conscious. It didn't really register to me until I was sitting right across from him and noticed him staring at me that I wasn't wearing a shirt. Fuck and I have to be eating as well… peachy. If he doesn't already think I'm disgusting he will now.

"You where fucking annihilated so I took care of you," he replied casually.

"You did?" I asked quietly unable to make eye contact.

"Of course I did. You where a complete wreck, if someone didn't stop you, you would've gotten alcohol poisoning or woken up in a ditch or something," he said.

I suddenly felt a wave of intense guilt wash over me. "Oh well thanks… and uhm I'm sorry for the other day. I overreacted when I seen you with Jesse. I was in a shitty mood and I shouldn't have taken it out on you and made assumptions and stuff," I said with as much conviction as possible.

"It's alright don't worry about it. Why do you hate Jesse so much anyways if you don't mind me asking? Is it something in particular or just his basic character?"

I started to eat some more of my food before I finally answered his question, "I dated Jesse for well… I don't know quite a while I guess. And to sum it up he basically used me, constantly made me feel like complete shit and was just a fucking asshole."

Taylor obviously surprised choked on his water a bit and his eyes widened, "you used to date Jesse?" he asked. "I can't believe it… I'm sorry but that just seems so insane to me. I mean Jesse just doesn't seem like someone I could see you with. The guy is sluttier than me and just well I can't really even picture him in a relationship with anybody to be honest."

"Yeah we dated for almost a year or some shit but it isn't like that stopped him from fucking anyone he could get his hands on," I replied. Taylor decided not to press the subject any more and we ate in relative silence, it wasn't really awkward or anything though, there was just no need for mindless conversation in our hung over states.

"Well I should be heading home," Taylor said after putting his dishes in the sink.

"Alright see you on Monday I suppose," I replied.

The thing that blew my mind however was that he quickly pecked my lips before softly saying 'goodbye' and exiting the kitchen presumably on his way home. I felt my cheeks heat up and immediately felt filled with glee

Bounding up the stairs I searched for my mom. I needed to ask her if I could spend the night at Mags' despite it being a weekday. However I wasn't prepared at all for what greeted me when I went in her study. My breath caught in my throat to see my mom sitting there in the spinny chair with tears rolling down her cheeks. "What's wrong?" I quietly asked walking up to her. She looked at me solemnly and muttered something inaudible in Russian. I asked her 'what's wrong' once again only this time in Russian. It felt weird to be speaking Russian… I never really spoke it anymore since my parents divorce. When he lived here he was really adamant about us speaking it and would ignore you if you spoke in English (obviously unless we had guests over who didn't speak Russian).

She gave me a small strained smile and said, "It's nothing… I'm just being over emotional."

"It isn't nothing," I said grabbing her hand and trying to give her a reassuring smile… my mom was never one to really cry. It hurt to see her so broken up over whatever it was… I can count the times I've seen her cry on one hand so it obviously had to be something big.

She sighed then gave me a grave look averting eye contact completely before she spoke, "It's your father's birthday."

The colour drained from my face I'm sure… fuck its all my fault. If only I'd been more careful, if only I'd have locked my door… it's my fault my mom is sitting here crying her eyes out, it's my fault Nadya hates me, it's my fault we come from some bullshit 'broken home'. Intense guilt seemed to envelope me and I quietly said, "It's my fault."

A look of shock seemed to envelope her features and she gave me a fake smile. "Of course it isn't," she said in a futile attempt at reassurance.

"Yes it is… I brought it upon myself. I should have told you that day but… I… I was scared… I'm a fucking coward. He did… it. Because… uhm well… because he was right all along," I tried to explain but my voice cracked and I could feel tears well up in my eyes. When I finally looked at my mother she gave me a look of reassurance… but this time it didn't look forced and faked. Taking a deep breath I just blurted it out, "I'm gay."

Confusion then shock crossed her face and she gripped on my hand tightly. After a couple of dreadfully long moments however she said, "It isn't your fault, you didn't bring it upon yourself. I love your father and I do miss him dearly despite all of his shortcomings, however I can never forgive him for what he did. He tried to kill you and it is not justifiable just because you like men."

Once she said that it felt like a weight was being lifted off of my shoulders I finally looked at her and whispered, "I'm sorry."

A stern almost angry look crossed her face and she said very calmly, "You have absolutely nothing to be sorry about."

"Uhm… okay. I-I just can't help but feel bad though. I shouldn't have been so careless… if I wasn't he wouldn't have known… I shouldn't have hidden the truth from you… I shouldn't have taken so long to say something… I shoul—"

She cut off my rambling and said once again in that eerily calm tone, "you have nothing to be sorry about." I numbly nodded my head and before I could start going on again she enveloped me in a tight hug. I hugged her back and we stood there in silence just clinging to one another.

"I-I'm going to go to bed," I said quietly once we finished clinging to one another in our misery.

"Goodnight," she said with a soft smile.

"Night," I replied. I felt great to say the least, I didn't have to hide behind lies and secrets I didn't have to guard what I said… sure I was in no way ready for Nadya or any one at school to know… but it felt amazing for my mom to finally know the truth.

The next morning I was in a ridiculously good mood. It felt like nothing could rain on my parade, I got ready for the day and hummed some indie-pop song as I slipped in some wooden pink ivory plugs and felt enthusiastic to say the least. Packing up my messenger bag I went upstairs and things still seemed to be awesome. The sneer my sister gave me as she ate breakfast had no affect; the disappointed look my mother gave me as I just grabbed a cup of coffee and an apple had no affect. After I brushed my teeth I pulled on some shoes and headed out the door. Nadya would obviously be late as per usual but I could care fucking less. I went through my morning classes without a care in the world, sketching idly, listening to my iPod, and every once in a while paying attention to my lessons. Come lunchtime I bought a bottle of water and went to my usual table. However I couldn't help but feel awkward as everyone stared at me. It wasn't just people from my table either… it seemed I had warranted the attention from people who I didn't even think where aware of my existence. "Is it true?" Ryan asked almost immediately.

"Is what true?" I asked with a raised eyebrow before taking a sip of my water.

"That you're gay," he replied.

The colour drained out of my face immediately and my heart sped up. "Where the hell did you hear that rumour?" I asked trying to sound casual… there was only one source of it… and if my suspicions where correct… and they must be… well then I don't know what I'm going to do.

"Your sister," Jana said quietly.

I knew it… I fucking knew it. How could that bitch do something like that? Obviously she's never been fond of me… but does that justify what she did? Once something finally starts going my way she just has to fuck it up… what the fuck did I ever do to her? "You never answered the question," Tim said in a serious tone.

"I don't see the point of dignifying a question as ludicrous as that one with a response," I said hoping nobody would realize what a flamer I really am.

"It makes so much sense, I'm surprised I didn't see it before. It was so fucking obvious, now I get why you where so pissy when we brought up Taylor's short-comings, or why you would bitch about the supposed hypocrisy of the bible, or fuck the way you dress, all those weird people you hang out with that don't go to this school, those fucked up books you read, why you've like never have had a girlfriend, why you held the opinion you did when we talked about gay marriage in CALM class last year… everything Nadya is saying about you is fucking true," Ryan said with utter conviction.

The air felt as if we where at some crazy high altitude and it was hard to breath… why does this have to be happening to me? "I assume everyone holds this opinion and if not whatever, but I don't think you should be sitting with us anymore," Tim said refusing to make eye contact.

"W-what?" I said my voice faltering.

"I think it's for the best if you just leave Alex we don't want to be around someone like… you," Jana said quietly.

"Well in that case… fuck you guys. I wasn't aware that we where still living in the dark ages but I suppose I've been proven wrong. I hope your bigotry and close-mindedness works out well for you," I said picking up my bottle of water and standing up.

"And I hope you rectify your ways before you burn in hell," Tim said.

I stalked off ignoring the looks I received from many a person… this was just fucking peachy. Nadya once again found a way to fuck me over, my so-called friends have pretty much told me to fuck off, and life just doesn't seem to work out ever in my favour. It seems like things only ever look up so it'll hurt twice as bad when they come back down. I thought of hunting down Taylor but I don't think he was even here today… besides I didn't want to seem weird and clingy… I mean we aren't even dating… sure we've kissed and hung out a couple of times… but that's really it, I don't even know if we could consider one another friends. Yeah sure we hang out in the same social circles… kind of, but that doesn't really mean much. Shaking a bit I walked outside and made my way to a desolate part of the grounds. I sat under a shady tree and contemplated what to do. I took a deep breath and decided to call Mags her lunch hour was nearing finished and she probably wouldn't want her minutes wasted but I couldn't wait. I pressed the speed dial number and waited impatiently she answered with an enthusiasm and asked if I was going to stay over tonight.

"They all know…" I said quietly. "I-I came out to my mom last night and I guess Nadya overheard and now she's gone and told everyone… I'm some kind of pariah now." I had to pull the phone away from my ear as Mags angrily started to rant about how fucked up Nadya is and how fucked up this school is and so many other things along that same vein. My ears didn't perk up until she suggested I skip the rest of the day and go to the café to hang out with Thom and Emily and how she'll join me soon she just has to write a test first. I happily agreed and decided to stay at her place regardless of what my mom had to say about it. A small smile hit my face as I shoved my cell phone back into my skinny jeans and stood up. As I started to make my way back to the school to grab my things however my blood ran cold and I knew things weren't going to end up well.

Three of Nadya's jock asshole friends came up to me with a sneer, I suppose they where hanging out somewhere outside as well. "Well well if it isn't the little faggot," the tallest of the three said pushing me in the shoulder.

"Shoulda figured you where a queer, surprised it took everyone this long to figure it out," the blonde and stocky one said with a glare.

I felt paralysed… I had no idea what to do. I've never really been in a fistfight or anything like that before. Sure as a kid I'd play fight with my cousins Mitya and Kostya and there was a couple of times things would get out of hand… but this was something completely different. Terror ran through my veins as I anticipated what was going to happen. Before I could even figure out what was going to happen the one guy who kept silent the entire time grabbed me by the collar of my plaid button down shirt and punched me in the jaw. I didn't even have time to get my bearings back before I felt his fist collide with my stomach and then my face once again. I grit my teeth and took my beating, I wanted to fight back sure… but it was three against one and I didn't want to actually anger them and have this hell continue on any longer than it had to. When the bell rang the silent guy sneered at me and stalked off his friends in tow. I couldn't even believe what had just happened… these guys I've never even spoke to came up, called me a fag a couple of times… and then kicked the shit out of me… what the fuck is wrong with people? With a sigh I swiftly walked down the halls of the school once I was sure nobody would be lurking in them anymore. I grabbed my messenger bag and decided to just go home and grab my things for my stay at Mags'. I caught a city bus and ignored the stares I was receiving from people… yes I know there's blood on my face and that some is still trickling out of my nose… yes I know I look like hell. Fucking assholes. When I finally got home I stumbled downstairs and went to the bathroom. Around my left eye was a little red and swollen, my nose was trickling blood, my lip was nicked up and bloody and my jaw/cheek area was a dark red. I washed my face and plugged my nose up with tissues until the bleeding stopped. I discarded my blood stained shirt and threw it in the laundry. I pulled on a v-neck I found on the floor and a grey cardigan then shoved a change of clothes, sketchbook, and my toiletries and shit in my messenger bag. Once I was finished I locked back up the house and took the bus to the café. I entered the familiar building and gave a heavy sigh… I knew I looked like shit. "Alex! What happened to you?" Emily asked loudly ignoring the fact that she should be making a drink for a customer.

"I'll tell you when you're not busy… I'm just going to go upstairs and throw my things up there and yeah…" I said feeling like shit. She nodded and Thom looked at me with shock but maintained his composure. I went up the old rickety stairs and hoped to fuck the door was unlocked, it was as per usual (thank fuck) and I threw my bag down next to the sofa. I went into the bathroom and started to rifle through the medicine cabinet I found a bottle of T4's and grabbed a couple of them. I stuck my head by the tap and swallowed the pills. I pulled my sketchbook and pastel box out of my messenger bag and went back downstairs.

They weren't serving any customers so Emily quickly came out from the back and asked, "What the hell happened to you sweetie?" I've always liked Emily she was in her early twenties, had short brown hair in a pixie cut and was ludicrously tall, she was really sweet and nice to everyone… but it was always sincere not some fake bullshit.

"My sister fucked my life up by telling what was my deepest secret to everyone so the close minded freaks at my school took it upon themselves to ostracize and fag bash me," I replied in a defeated tone.

"Aw, don't fucking listen to them. I know the next few months will be horrible but just wait it out and it'll be tough but you'll be a stronger person for it and once you graduate you will never have to see those people ever again. I don't know why your sister would do that though… but never mind that, it doesn't matter none of their opinions matter," she said before enveloping me in a tight hug. I couldn't help but wince due to the beating my torso took and lightly hugged her back.

Once she let me go she gave me a reassuring smile and went back behind the counter as another customer came in. I stood in line behind that person and fidgeted a bit feeling a little awkward from the sympathetic looks I earned from Thom and Emily. Once I got to the front of the short line I ordered a skinny vanilla frappe and decided to just sit down and fuck around with my pastels until Mags got here. As much as I like Thom and Emily I really wasn't in the mood to talk and I think the only one who could cheer me up right about now was the ever-exuberant Mags. After about a half hour she rushed in and hugged me as soon as she took one look at me. "Oh Sasha, don't tell me those bigots at your school did this," she said running her fingers lightly over my fucked up jaw and cheek.

"It's not as bad as it looks…" I said quietly.

"Don't pull that fucking tough guy shit with me. You said the same exact words when you where in the emergency room. Are you going to stay the night?" she asked.

"Yeah… I never bothered asking. But I can't go home… I can't face Nadya… the worst part of all of this isn't the world knowing my secret, it isn't the getting fag bashed, it isn't being ostracized… it's that my fucking twin sister is the catalyst for all of this. I know she's never been particularly fond of me… but how could she do this?"

"I don't know… I mean you know I've never liked her and thought she was a bitch but this event is close to taking the cake of all the horrible things she's done. I could go all Sigmund Freud and try to come up with a reason for it… but I don't know her well enough and a part of me really doubts there is any reason for it other than the fact that she's a fucking bitch. But you shouldn't waste your time pondering this it'll get you nowhere and just keep you up at night," Mags said with a small smile.

"Yeah I guess you're right," I said with a sigh before putting my pastel back in the case.

"So what'd Taylor do when he seen you all battered and bruised?" Mags asked suggestively.

"I don't think he was at school today… besides you shouldn't say it like that. Why would he do anything? We aren't dating, he probably doesn't even dig me that much anyways," I replied awkwardly.

She just scoffed and said, "Doesn't dig you that much much? He made out with you and took care of you when you decided that alcohol poisoning was a good idea, he obviously likes you."

"Kissing someone doesn't necessarily mean you like them, people fuck people they loathe all the time and just because he stopped me from dying doesn't mean he likes me, it means he is a decent human being."

"Ugh stop with your self deprecation. I get that at this moment in time you have every right to feel all emo and have a little pity party but you have them far too often and I don't have the patience to deal with it… no offence," she said with a surprisingly kind smile.

"Fine, emo moments over… let's just keep the topic off of me. How was your test or whatever?" I asked not really caring… which was pretty selfish of me.

"It was alright, just a test I suppose. By the way Sarah is having a party this Friday are you in?"

"Sure I guess," I said boredly. "I know I'm being shitty company but I think I'm just going to go upstairs and lay down… I feel like hell despite pillaging your medicine cabinet for opiates and I'm just really tired."

"Don't worry about it doll face, go on upstairs and catch some z's. Also don't pull the whole 'courteous' bullshit and sleep on the uncomfortable couch go on my bed," Mags said seriously.

"Okay night," I said with a small wave to Thom and Emily and went up stairs. I set my sketchbook and pastels on the coffee table and pulled out my plaid pyjama pants and a shirt; I quickly changed and shut every curtain in the apartment. I crawled into Mags' comfy bed and snuggled into the orange blankets and almost instantaneously fell asleep.

When I awoke I could hear muffled noises outside the bedroom and I felt surprisingly better… despite my torso throbbing a lot worse than before. I stretched and left the bedroom I was surprised to see some people sitting in Mags' living room surrounded by a thick cloud of smoke watching some movie… okay not that surprised her apartment was a popular hang out place. I paid no mind to everyone in the living room and went back to the bathroom to steal some painkillers, I swallowed three more and my injuries looked a lot worse. My eye could now officially be called a black eye and my jaw/cheek looked a thousand times worse. My lip was nicked and swollen and lifting up my shirt I ignored how much weight I needed to lose and traced my fingers over the bruises forming there as well. Once I was finished with glaring at my physical appearance I left the bathroom and when I entered the living room Mags said, "I called your mom and told her that you where staying at my place."

"Thanks," I replied quietly before walking up to where everyone was sitting, I took the only free seat on the sofa and observed who was all here. Mags obviously, some brunette girl I don't know, Sarah and surprisingly enough Taylor.

"What the fuck happened to you?" Sarah asked.

Taylor finally looked up from the joint he was rolling and shock spread across his features. I felt self conscious to say the least and stared at the movie playing. I couldn't help but sigh, this may only be the third time I've told this story but I was already fucking sick of it. "My sister is a heinous bitch who took it upon herself to inform the entire school that I'm gay so some asshole closet cases decided to fag bash me," I replied hating this story more and more.

"Fuck, that's brutal," Sarah said in her thick accent.

"I guess but I dunno I'm pretty much past the pity party stage; I just want revenge. I know where she sleeps, I'm going to finally make her regret always being such a bitch… you know if I ever get a spine and stuff," I said with a grin… it was partially true though. I did want revenge and would most likely be far too spineless to go through with anything I come up with. "And if that doesn't work out I'll just glare and think really mean thoughts more often," I said as seriously as possible… I just wanted to laugh this off. I didn't want it to be some serious thing anymore even though it was. I don't want pity anymore… I don't want any of that jazz. Everyone laughed except for Taylor who just sparked the joint and looked kind of angry. We sat in silence as it passed along and watched the movie playing (it was The Darjeeling Limited). I was grateful when the joint made it's way to me as I greedily inhaled… in my defence it made me feel better. I passed it on and conversation seemed to cease as we smoked in silence.

"Isn't Alopecia an album by Why?" Sarah asked.

"Yeah it's probably their best album," I quietly replied.

"I never realized they named it after the medical term for balding before… that's so fucking weird. What's everyone's favourite song on it… assuming we all like Why?"

"Hm… that song Crohn's or something it's so funny how it talks about puking behind Whole Foods and shit," Mags said with a grin.

"The Fall of Mr. Fifths or maybe These Few Presidents… I don't think I can decide," I replied. "Actually no wait… The Fall of Mr. Fifths nothing beats the lyric 'Why be upset, I didn't say I didn't have syphilis'".

"Uhm… I'm going to be a non-conformist and say fuck Alopecia my favourite song is Gemini (Birthday Song)," Brunette girl said.

"I don't think I've even listened to Why? before… maybe who fucking knows?" Taylor replied in a weir d tone… it just sounded so flat not even bored just… robotic-like I guess is the closest I could get to describing it.

"Blasphemy," Mags exclaimed. "Once this films over we're putting them on, you'll dig them… or at least I'm assuming you will."

"Alright, sounds good," he said.

"I heard on the radio this commercial for syphilis and it was like naming statistics and fucking nobody gets syphilis anymore… it was fucking awesome. It kept going on about how you should get tested for it, best STD ever hands down," Sarah said.

"There's a best STD?" brunette girl asked with a laugh.

"Don't be silly Kayla of course there's a best STD, just as there's a best dictator, a best uhm what are other horrible things?" Sarah asked.

Sarah continued to ponder best horrible things when I decided I might as well get rid of the swelling I was subjected to. I walked over to the kitchen area and started to make a makeshift ice pack when I felt hands on my waist. I nearly jumped out of my skin to say the least I was so surprised. I quickly whipped around to be greeted by a very serious looking Taylor. "How are you?" he asked ghosting his fingertips over my fucked up looking cheek/jaw.

"Uhm, I've been better… not that bad I guess I'm a little sore," I replied.

"Who did it?"

"I don't really know who. Three jock assholes I think my sister hangs out with," I replied casually.

What sounded like a small… growl escaped from his throat and he said, "they fucking ganged up on you?"

"Uhm… yeah kind of I guess. I mean the one guy did the most of it the other two just kinda helped out? I dunno, the bell rang so it didn't really go that far," I said wrapping my bag of ice cubes in a tea towel. I put the towel to my solar plexus and grabbed a glass.

"Lift up your shirt," Taylor said seriously as I poured myself a glass of OJ.

"No," I said giving him a questioning look.

"I want to see how fucked up you are now lift up your shirt."

I couldn't life up my shirt… I could care less about the bruises but I was way too self-conscious. He'd definitely think I was disgusting and any small chance I had of being with him would be gone if he saw the flab on my stomach. "It's not that big of a deal Taylor," I said with a sigh before going back to the couch and sitting down. I set my icepack to my lip where it was most swollen and watched the movie and tried to ignore the looks Taylor gave me. Once the movie was over I had nothing to focus intently on however I was grateful when Mags eagerly stood up and turned on Why? hoping it would provide some more distraction.

However before the first song ended Kayla stood up and said, "okay well I have to head home, I'll see you guys around I suppose. I hope you feel better kid whose name I don't know."

"It's Alex," I replied pulling the ice away from my mouth.

"Awesome, I'm Kayla. Anyways I better skedaddle," she said with a grin and a wave.

Sarah and Mags where engrossed in some in-depth conversation about music while Taylor sat all glarey-like and I sat around awkwardly. It wasn't until Mags said, "I'm so fucking hungry we should order pizza." Did I pay attention to the conversations around me.

"Sure that sound's good," Sarah said with a grin.
"Yeah why not," Taylor replied still keeping up his demeanour.

"Alex?" Mags said after a moment or two.

"Oh… no… I don't really want pizza," I replied pulling the ice away from my face. She glared at me fiercely obviously not wanting to make a scene but still trying to force me to eat. "Don't fucking look at me like that Mags I never said I wasn't going to eat I said I wasn't going to eat greasy ass pizza," I snapped in annoyance. I gave gone through a lot of shit today the last thing I need is Mags getting all self-righteous and bitchy over my eating habits.

The expression that was a mix of anger and worry left her face and she pulled out her cell phone asking everyone what they wanted on the pizza. She ordered and with a devious grin said, "Come on Sarah we're going to go pick it up. It'll be way faster that way, you two hold down the fort and don't do anything I wouldn't do."

"Alright, see you guys soon," Sarah said with a wave before standing up and following Mags. They left the apartment through the back door and I felt really fucking awkward to say the least.

I hadn't been alone around Taylor since the hangover day to say the least and we hadn't really spoken since it either and then the whole kitchen conversation just emphasized the awkwardness between us. We sat in silence for a while until Taylor finally broke it and said, "It is a big deal."

"What?" I asked quietly.

"You said it wasn't a big deal. But it is you got the shit kicked out of you by three huge jock assholes. I don't think you realize how small and frail you are… you don't exactly have the build of a fighter… I don't know maybe you're scrappy or something but you could've seriously gotten fucked up," he explained.

"I'm not going to say it was sunshine and rainbows because it wasn't and I'm not a masochist but that really isn't anywhere near the worst beating I've received," I said my thoughts immediately straying to when my father tried to kill me… when people asked 'what happened?' I told them I'd been in a car accident the only one person outside of my family to even know the truth was Mags. "Besides what's done is done. I'm sorry if I'm being an asshole and everything. But today has been a long day, first my sister fucks me over which is probably the worst part of it all, then my so-called friends tell me not to hang around them anymore lest they catch my 'disease' which I really shouldn't be pissed about as we've been growing apart steadily and shit and I never really even hang out with them outside of school anymore but still it's the principal of the matter, then I get my ass kicked, and to top it off I have everyone giving me this bullshit pity and asking what happened… uhm sorry I guess I'm starting to ramble."

"It's okay," he said with a sad smile. "I just got kind of worried when I saw you… fuck of all the days of school for me to skip I chose this one."

"Don't worry I'm not as fragile as I look," I said with a small smile.

"I want to believe that," he said getting up and sitting on the small sofa next to me. He pulled the hand holding my ice pack in place away and looked at me intensely. I felt my heart start to race as he pressed a feather light kiss to my swollen lips. He kissed me so gently and precariously as if I'd crumble into a thousand pieces beneath him. Every time I would try to press my lips fiercely to his and just ignore the pain he would slightly pull back and kiss me even gentler. It was so queer to be kissed like that… I don't think anyone has ever kissed me so sweetly and tenderly. It was so different but I couldn't help but smile into the kiss. It wasn't anything like the demanding lust-filled kisses I was used to being wrapped up in, this one was surprisingly something so much better. Once we finally broke apart he smiled at me in a way that made my heart feel as if it was beating out of its chest. We looked at each other intensely for a few moments and I couldn't help but smile… his eyes where mesmerizing; they where the most gorgeous grey-blue colour. He lightly kissed me once again and put an arm over my shoulder as we sat on the couch in relative silence. The music still played but conversation wasn't needed… it wasn't some kind of awkward silence though it was surprisingly nice. After a few moments Sarah and Mags bust in holding a pizza box and laughing like hyenas.

"I say we watch a movie," Sarah said setting the pizza box on the coffee table.

"What do you guys want to watch? I kind of want to watch Garden State," Mags said.

"That movie sucks it's pretty much a fucking iTunes commercial," I said with a grimace. I really wasn't too fond of that movie it just kind of sucked as far as I was concerned.

"How the hell does it suck?" Sarah asked incredulously.

"I'll admit the character Natalie Portman plays is cute as she's so fucking weird and everything. But the movie just sucks as far as I'm concerned. It's all so ludicrous they think they're 'oh so in love' just because they cling to one another in their pathetic misery, they let their lives be governed by the one major tragedy or fucked up aspect of their life… but I mean everyone has those things. Everyone has that fucked up thing but it isn't like your entire life is defined by it… there's like no plot… it's just a parade of indie rock songs and angst and what the fuck is with that scene with The Shins? It had no fucking point other than to name drop… I dunno it just was such a stupid move, I like the Postal Service cover in it though," I explained.

"Well fuck you then. I just vote no more Wes Anderson despite how amazing he is," Mags said with a mock-glare.

"What about a movie he produced? The Squid and the Whale is good," I said.

"We aren't watching The Squid and The Whale, masturbating kid freaks me out with his Oedipus complex shit," Mags said busting open the pizza box and grabbing a greasy slice… I couldn't help but grimace.

"Okay fair enough, that kid kind of freaks me out too. Who the hell rifles through their moms underwear drawer then proceeds to jerk off… drunk or not that's just creepy," I added.

"That does sound creepy. I've always heard that kids whose parents haven't been through divorce won't really dig it or get it or something… I don't know I haven't seen it, care to shed some light?" Sarah asked.

"I thought it was okay and my parents aren't divorced, some parts of it just kind of weirded me out. Wasn't bad but wasn't great either it was just interesting," Mags replied.

"Well my parents are divorced but I dunno theirs was nothing like the divorce portrayed in the film you know the cliché of custody battles and picking sides and shit. This film portrays it in a more I don't know… realistic? No… a more commonplace way I suppose. I can see how a child of divorce will feel more emotional ties to the film as it'll bring up memories and shit but I dunno I never went through any of that shit and really dig it and all that jazz," I said. I normally wouldn't be talking this much about my life especially something like that but I suppose the opiates and cannabis seemed to wipe away my cares and apprehensions.

"Sounds interesting," Sarah said.

"Yeah it really is, so what do you guys want to watch?" Mags asked.

"As long as it isn't a foreign film I could give a fuck what we watch," Taylor said casually.

"Foreign film is great," Sarah said.

"Maybe so, but I'm not in the mood to read subtitles."
"Fair enough, I'm leaning towards watching something funny that requires little thinking," Sarah replied.

"Yeah I'm down with that, I'll put in Clerks," Mags said getting up.

"Awesome," I replied before getting up to look for something to eat. I wasn't particularly hungry despite not really eating all day but I know Mags would bitch. I poked around her kitchen and ended up grabbing the smallest bowl I could find and filled it with some mini carrots, celery, and grapes. I took a seat back down next to Taylor and tried to focus on the film. I felt unbelievably self-conscious to be eating in front of everyone especially Taylor. I refused to make eye contact with anyone as we slowly munched on our food and watched the movie.

"This is the best part ever," Mags said just as it was about to get to the 'berserker' scene.

"Undeniably," I said setting my bowl on the table.

"Is Olaf even a Russian name?" Mags asked once the scene was over.

"How the fuck should I know?" I asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Gee I don't know you've been to Russia, you speak Russian, and you're fucking Russian," Mags said sarcastically.

"Fuck, all I know about Russia is that communism didn't work out so well and that the word vodka comes from the Russian word for water," I replied.

"Are you fucking serious?" Sarah asked with a laugh.

"Yeah voda is water in Russian and 'ka' is used as a diminutive or some shit so it pretty much translates to 'little water'," I replied.

"That is so awesome," Sarah said laughing some more.

"That is pretty great," Mags said busting out the stash case. "Taylor want to roll us another spliffy?"

"Yeah sure," he said as she passed him the stash case.

As he rolled a joint Mags said, "you know all this talk of vodka makes me want to host a theme party, I don't know what theme though something fun."

"Ugly sweaters?" Sarah suggested.

"Pirates," I added.
"Hm… maybe I don't know. I want to do something really original though and those have all been done," she said dejectedly.

"I don't think anyone around these parts has done Cowboys and Indians," Taylor said as he finished rolling the joint.

"That's a good one," Mags said.

We sat around smoking weed and watching the movie in relative silence it was hard to focus on the film however as Taylor had an arm strung casually over my shoulder. Once the film was over and it was relatively late Sarah said, "Well I better head home."

"Yeah me too," Taylor added.

"Okay see ya cats later," Mags said getting up and throwing the pizza box in the garbage.

"Bye," I said with a small wave.

As Sarah was hunting down her jacket Taylor did something wholly unexpected. He looked at me intensely and kissed me gently. "I'll see you tomorrow," he said with a small smile before standing up and heading towards the door. A part of me couldn't help being ecstatic. Until realization sunk in… he was probably acting like this out of pity, he knows what it's like to be fucked around by the assholes at that school and now he's trying to make me feel better… but really doing the opposite. Someone like that could never like someone like me. He's beautiful and amazing… I'm weird looking and fucked up.

"Told you he likes you," Mags said sitting down on the couch.

"Don't be ludicrous. There's a difference between pity and infatuation," I said dejectedly.

"You are so fucking blind," Mags said rolling her eyes. "Want to kill some zombies?" she asked turning on the xbox.

"Okay," I said grabbing one of the controllers. The night continued on in that fashion we played Left For Dead until… well quite late, I eventually convinced her to let me pass out on the couch and we said our goodnights.

Come morning I woke up from my mediocre sleep by Mags shaking me with her hair half done. It was odd to see her like that, she was one of those girls who refused to even leave the house if she didn't have her hair and makeup done; not that she needed it. I kicked her out of the bathroom the moment she finished her hair and took a quick shower. We got ready, drank our coffees, and Mags forced me to eat a slice of toast despite my protests about not being able to eat in the mornings. Fuck and she wonders why I have such low self-esteem? Maybe if she didn't force food down my throat at every opportunity I would look better thus allowing me to feel better about myself. "Get out loser," Mags teased as we sat in her shitty car right in front of the school.

"Ugh I really don't want to do this," I said nervously. I don't think I've been this nervous for school since the first day.

"Yeah well you have to now get out before you make me late," she said with a grin.

"Fine, I guess I'll see you tonight at work," I said before getting out and giving her a small wave. With a dejected sigh I walked in the doors and tried to make myself as invisible as possible, which wasn't that hard people hardly paid attention to me before they knew. The odd person would look at me and then whisper to their friends, but overall nobody cared that much about my presence. I was glad Mags dropped me off just before the bell so I wouldn't have to stand around looking like an asshole and grabbed my books. I wandered into science class and set my books on the desk. I could feel people's eyes on me as the class filled and we went through attendance. Taylor wasn't here… but then again it is the first class and being late is pretty commonplace for him. While Mr. Morris droned on and on I had my sketchbook open and doodled. I wasn't really fond of sketching to be honest, sure I fucked around with charcoals and pastels from time to time… but I really preferred painting. I was mostly just drawing eyes, as I blended one a tired or possibly stoned looking Taylor busted in the room.

"You're late Mr. _____," our teacher said in a flat tone.

"When am I not?" Taylor said with a grin before sitting down at one of the empty desks. I continued to doodle and went out of my way to make sure I didn't glance at Taylor… it was hard as I loved to eye rape him but I didn't want to seem weird and clingy and expectant. When I finally did bring myself to glance at him I was surprised to find he was staring at me. I quickly looked away and I'm sure a small blush adorned my cheeks as he grinned at me. About half way through class I felt something hit the back of my head I looked down to see one of those fancily folded notes I routinely received from Mischa. I looked at her with a raised eyebrow and she gave me some pleading look so I picked up the note and folded it out.

Alex, I'm sorry about yesterday. I just sat there silently when I should've said something. However I was angry at you as well as angry at myself. I felt so foolish, I've spent so long obsessing over you and some idealistic part of me hoped you reciprocated those feelings… which I suppose you never will. But I'm past that petty anger and now I just feel guilty. I could care less that you're gay and am more angry with Tim and Jana… I suppose Ryan as well then I ever was at you. I hope you can forgive me for being such a bitch and we could be friends again?

xox Mischa

I couldn't help but be confused than smile slightly at the note she sent me. I smoothed the paper out some more and worked on a reply.

I forgive you. If I was in your place I probably would've done the same thing as shameful as it is to admit. I'm sorry if I ever strung you along… I tried to make it clear I wasn't interested but I suppose I was too spineless to ever come out and say anything direct, which would've been the right thing to do. If you're serious about being friends again there's a party this weekend you should come with me.


I folded it up and tossed it back to her and continued with my doodles. Almost instantaneously a piece of paper fell onto my desk and once Mr. Morris was sufficiently distracted I folded and flattened it out.

Wow, this is so weird that you're inviting me to a party. A good kind of weird, but weird anyways. I'll go as long as you promise not to ditch me as soon as we get there or something as I doubt I'll really know anybody there.

xox Mischa

Once the bell rang I bolted out of my class but before I could get very far I felt fingers wrap around my wrist I turned around to see Taylor standing there with a small smile on his face he quickly said, "at lunch hour meet me out front alright?"

"Uhm okay," I said feeling awkward.

"Awesome, see you then," he said before stalking off. I wandered to my next class and went through the same motions.

I loved parties at Sarah's house. She lived in some giant mansion out of town and often had parties there as her parents where never in the country. I'm not even sure what they do? All I know is a year ago she got kicked out of her very prestigious boarding school in South Africa and was exiled to this town. Mags and I always dressed up a bit when we went to Sarah's it made us feel classy and such to be at this party at some fancy house and to look borderline fancy… despite the fact that it was mostly just drunken college students with liberal arts degrees and teenagers at the party. However we weren't the only ones to class up a bit at her shindigs quite a few people did, not that anyone showed up in a ball gown or tuxedo or something. However there was champagne present so that automatically makes it a classy shindig. I fixed my hair so it'd look messy but tailored and sighed a little. I was still all battered and bruised but I should at least be a little optimistic the swelling in my lip has gone way down. I pulled on my black skinny jeans, a white button up shirt that was wrinkled to hell, donned some suspenders, and a ridiculously skinny black tie that was all loose and such. I yanked on my black blazer and decorated it with some old Soviet pin it was a red star with a picture of Lenin and some Russian writing underneath. I kind of jacked up a bunch of old pins my mom had sitting in the bottom of her jewellery box because well… they looked so neat. Once I was satisfied with my appearance I heard some honking come from outside and I quickly shoved my cell phone, a bag of weed, and a vodka filled flask in my pockets. I also grabbed the bottle and funnel and quickly bounded up the stairs. Nobody took notice of my departure and I eagerly got in Mags' car. She too was dressed in classy clothes and had on a black high waisted skirt, what appeared to be a purple corset, black tights, most likely some nice shoes, and a black sweater sitting in-between our seats. Her hair was in an up-do and she had on a faux-pearl necklace. We looked to put it bluntly fucking great. "Looking good doll face," I said as she drove haphazardly down the street.

"You too good sir," she said running through a stop sign. I gave Mags the directions to Mischa's house and quickly bounded up the sidewalk of her suburban home. A couple of moments after ringing the doorbell she opened the door and shock spread across her features.

"What's with the clothes?" she asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Oh well this party is at a mansion out of town so some of us dress up kind of borderline classy and such to feel cool or whatever," I said with a grin.

"Ugh why didn't you tell me? I'm wearing fucking jeans and a t-shirt," she exclaimed with a small glare.

"Not everyone dresses up you know, like a good chunk of people don't," I said with a roll of my eyes.

"Fuck off, I don't care. I'll be five minutes I'm going to put on something at least better than this," she said looking at her clothes with disdain.

"Fine but hurry up we still need to pick up some one else," I said dully. I scuffed my feet together as Mags gave me an odd look before tapping her wrist to indicate to hurry the fuck up. After a few more minutes Mischa opened the door wearing much better clothes. She had on black flats, some teeny tiny black dress, some black tights and a bunch of silver necklaces.

"How do I look?" she asked giving a small spin.

"Good, but you should grab a sweater or something. A good chunk of the party takes place outside and the air conditioner is always on," I said impatiently.

"Okay," she said quickly running back in and coming back with a grey cardigan and a mickey of rum.

We got in the car and I quickly did the introductions Mags gave a small nod and she sped down the streets to an apartment complex. She honked the horn a few dozen times and Darcy and some guy came bounding out of the building. Darcy was dressed to kill in a mini dress as well and the guy with her was dressed a little more casually but still pretty sharp looking. They squeezed in the back seat and Darcy quickly said, "Hey kids this is my new boyfriend Paul so be nice. Paul this is Alex and Mags and some girl I don't know."

"I'm Mischa," she said with a grin.

"Neat, I'm Darcy," she replied before leaning forward and pressing next on the iPod. "Sorry you know how I can't stand She & Him."

"Blasphemer," I replied as Mags drove at a dangerous speed. Sarah's house was a half hour drive away but with Mags' driving we where sure to make it there in half the time. I dug around in the glove compartment and pulled out a CD case and some scissors. I started to roll joints as everyone chatted amiably, Mischa fit in pretty well with my friends, which was definitely pleasing. I sparked one of my freshly rolled joints and rolled down the window just a dash.

"Roll that fucking window back up this instant Aleksandr Valentinovich Raskolnikov or I will kill you for ruining my hair," Mags said severely.

"Geez you had to bust out the full name?" I said rolling back up the window.

"Your damn rights I had to, this hairstyle took me a while," she said driving even faster.

"Well it looks fantastic if that's any consolation," I said before taking a deep drag off of the joint and passing it to Mischa.

"Thank you," she said.

Mischa looked a little apprehensive as she took the joint from between my fingers and took a small puff off of it before passing it on to Darcy. We smoked the joint and pretty much just rocked out to the music playing. We finally pulled into the long winding drive way and noticed it already filled with cars. We pulled in pretty far from the house and Mags said, "I'm locking the car up. If you leave anything in here you do at your own discretion the only ones who'll have keys are Alex and I so yeah search for either of us if you're that desperate to get in." She passed me the keys that where in the ignition and I quickly pocketed them. We all exited the car and started walking up towards the large house. It couldn't even be called a house it was some old timey white mansion with ivy or some shit growing along the sides and was fucking huge. We entered the brightly lit and tastefully decorated foyer and started to head towards the main living room/area where most of the partying went on (however a lot of times we'd just party outside and in the pool house). Mischa and I followed Mags to a table with cliché red beer cups and mix and such at it. She pulled a mickey of something out of her purse and mixed a drink, Mischa followed suit and mixed herself a drink as well. "Aren't you drinking?" Mags asked noticing me not following suit.
"Way ahead of you," I said pulling the flask out of the inside pocket of my blazer.

"Straight liquor?" Mischa asked with a cringe after I took a sip from it.

"I am Russian vodka is my water," I said in Russian with a grin.

Mags just started laughing while Mischa gave me a weird look. Mags then asked, "Did you just say vodka is your water?"

"Yeah how'd you know?" I asked with a laugh.

"The etymology of vodka lesson you gave us the other day," she said with a grin.

"What language where you just speaking?" Mischa asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Russian," I said casually.

"You speak Russian? That is so neat," she said before taking a sip of her drink. Some indie rock band was playing loudly but not too loudly thankfully and a grin spread across my features as a classily dressed Sarah came bounding up.

"Mags, Alex it's so good to see you two," she said with a grin.

"Are you drunk already?" I asked taking another small sip from my flask.

"No! I'm just excited to see you guys."

"It's been like two days," I said with a smile.

"Maybe so," she said.

"Well I'm at least happy to see you," Mags said with a giggle before hugging Sarah.

"I'm too rugged and manly to miss you," I said with a grin.

"Fuck you that hurts my feelings so much. But I'll forgive you for a sip of your… what I assume to be vodka."

"Go hard… and I say that figuratively not seriously," I said passing her the flask.

She took a greedy sip and passed it back before saying, "I'll be back soon my friends. I need to make the rounds, by the way Alex I saw Taylor out back."

"Shut up," I said blushing a bit.

"I'm going to join her in making the rounds," Mags said topping her cup off and following Sarah to wherever the hell she went off to. Mischa and I stood around for a little while chatting about nothing in particular when I decided it was time to make the rounds a bit at least. I wandered around the large room stopping to talk with the people I knew well… there was a lot of mild acquaintances and oddly familiar faces milling about but I didn't bother stopping to approach them. I introduced Mischa to a bunch of people and she seemed to get along pretty well with everyone at the party, which was a definite relief, as this didn't really seem like her scene. Then again we never where super close so who knows what her scene was? I also had to tell my fag-bashing story about a thousand times which was pretty annoying however the multitude of hugs I received helped make up for it.

"Do you want to go outside and smoke a jay with me?" I asked her as we made our way back to the table and she mixed herself another drink.

"Uhm… I'll go out with you but not smoke any I'm not really big on smoking weed anyways, I've like only done it a few times," she said with a nervous smile.

"Alright sounds good," I said before dragging her through the house and out the back door. The backyard was well illuminated and there were some tables and quite a few people outside as well. Sarah's parties always attracted large crowds way more than just the people who where part of the 'scene' as well. I mean sure the usual parties had liberal arts majors, and the artsy high school students; but her parties attracted an obscene amount of people. My eyes scanned the crowd music pumping out from some speakers I couldn't spot and I noticed a few familiar faces. I sparked the smallest joint from my baggy of them and took a deep inhale. I was chatting with Mischa about how stupid our school was when a dishevelled Taylor came up and plucked the joint from between my lips. He took a deep drag off of the dwindling down joint and passed it back to me.

"What's up?" he asked before taking a large gulp from his beer. He was surprisingly dressed kind of classy as well… or well he wore a blazer anyways… I highly doubt one could deem ripped up skinny jeans as classy, but he did look really good.

"Nothing really, what about you?" I asked passing the joint back to him.

"Hm… not too much. Good shindig tonight; are you going to get alcohol poisoning and need taking care of again?" He teased.

"No!" I said blushing a bit. "Besides I don't think I could handle a hangover as horrible as that again."

"Yeah but you gotta admit that was a great party," he said passing me the roach which I of course burned my fingers on a bit.

"Yeah it was pretty great… well what I can remember of it anyways," I said taking a drag and throwing it on the ground. "By the way Taylor this is Mischa, Mischa this is Taylor… I assume you two already know one another's name but fuck it introductions make me feel important… like a diplomat or some shit."

"Hey you're in my science class right?" Taylor asked.

"Yeah Mr. Morris' class," she said.

"He's a fucking dick," Taylor said pulling out a cigarette then putting an arm around my waist. I felt my heart start to speed up when he touched me. As he lit up a cigarette I pulled out my flask and took another sip from it.

"Yeah I fucking hate him he failed me on a project for no reason other than to be an asshole," she said casually.

"You're carrying a flask with you," he stated with a small laugh.

"Of course I'm carrying a flask. We're at a classy party I can't be drinking out of a plastic cup," I said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

"What's in it?" he asked rhetorically before plucking it out of my grip and taking a large gulp from it. "This is some good vodka."

"I guess," I said yanking back my flask and taking another sip. It was practically empty so I finished it off and then fake pouted. "You're a horrible booze-fiend," I said putting it back in my pocket. "Now I got to go refill it, I'll be back in two shakes… or two hours actually fucking Mags and her parking skills."

"Hm, I'll come with you. See you around Mischa," Taylor said tightening his grip on my waist.

Mischa merely smirked and said, "see you around."

Taylor and I walked through the halls and exited the house, we walked in silence down the driveway and towards the beat up car but it wasn't awkward by any means. Besides I'm sure I would have babbled incoherently, I could barely even think coherently my thoughts seemed to be stuck on how his thumb lazily went around in circles on my hipbone. I unlocked the car and sat in the front seat my legs outside and the door wide open. I yanked out my flask and stuck the funnel in it and opened up the half empty bottle. Once I finished filling up my flask Taylor ran his fingers down my jawbone. "Do you have any idea how fucking sexy you look tonight?" he said standing in front of me.

"Uhm… thank you?" I said taking a swig from the bottle and setting it down. Once the flask was safely in my pocket he fiercely pressed his lips to mine in a lust filled kiss. I eagerly kissed him back and set my hands on his hipbones as his knotted in my hair. Feeling confident (the vodka helped I'm sure) I started to nibble on his lower lip and tried to snake my tongue into his mouth. I could feel him slightly smirk before obliging and kissing me back just as fiercely. When we finally broke apart he gave me the sweetest smile and lightly pressed his lips to mine once again in a chaste kiss. I locked the door behind us and pulled out the flask for another sip.

I felt apprehension as I stood outside the door of my house. I've put off coming home as long as possible but… I'm going to have to go through with it sooner or later. I took a deep breath and opened the front door I pulled off my shoes and thankfully no one was in the living room. I went to the kitchen to grab a drink and my mom immediately gasped once she saw my face. "What happened to you?" she asked.

"Got the shit kicked out of me," I replied casually.

"Why?" she asked severely.

I froze at that question. Do I tell her what Nadya did? I mean sure she'll get in trouble which will please me to no end… but she'll hate me even more. But why do I even care what she thinks of me? It isn't like she gives a fuck about me… which really hurts. Know what… fuck her she fucking deserves it. I hope she gets grounded for a year and then when she's finally ungrounded she gets rabies. With a small sight I said, "Nadya must've overheard our conversation the other day and decided to take it upon herself to inform the entire school what a flaming faggot I am. So some asshole closet cases decided to kick the shit out of me."

"Is that why you've been avoiding the house and skipped school?" she asked.

"Uh yeah…" I replied self-consciously.

"Don't worry I'll have a talk with your sister and I'll pick you up some bruise cream tomorrow."

"Thanks but I don't need any," I said with a smile before grabbing a drink. My mom continued to send me worried glances so to get rid of them I grabbed an apricot out of the fruit bowl and chopped it up. I was by no means hungry and was already forced to eat by Mags but they're only fifty calories or so and if it'd get rid of those glances I'd scarf it down. She smiled noticing me eating the fruit and left to find my sister I assume. I threw the pit away and decided to hide out in my room, I locked the door behind me and turned on my laptop. After a while I heard angry banging on my door and someone… I'm sure I know who was trying to open the door but thankfully failing.

I was content as fuck watching movies on the couch with Taylor. Some foreign film played in the background but I wasn't all that focused on it, I was just so happy to be resting my head on his shoulder and so content that life had been beautifully uneventful as of late. Once the film finished Taylor shifted positions and pressed his lips lightly to mine. I kissed him back and trailed my fingers down his jaw line. His hands clasped onto my hips and we continued to kiss, it getting more and more urgent as time prolonged. His hands started to trail up my torso and under my shirt when I broke apart. I kissed his jaw lightly and said, "Come on, not here." I stood up then grabbed his hand and we went to my bedroom.

As soon as we entered I locked the door behind me and went to turn on a lamp and shutting off the regular light. "What're you doing?" he asked sitting down on the bed.

"I'm not taking off any clothing without the proper lighting," I replied casually before going through my CD's.

"Why?" he asked coming up to me and placing hands on my waist then proceeding to trail kisses on the small amount of my neck that was exposed.

"Because I'm self-conscious about my body, I have a bunch of gross scars and shit," I said as casually as I could muster. True my legs where a little nicked up from when I used to cut and there is a pretty gross scar on my torso, but whom am I kidding? I'm not really all that self-conscious about my scars as they're in the past… I am however self-conscious about my weight as much as I hate to admit it.

"Oh, well if it helps any I don't care about that kind of stuff, I'm not that shallow." I couldn't help but smile slightly at his words and shoved a mixed CD in the stereo in case someone comes home… and we're being noisy. I pressed play and then guided him back to the bed. He sat awkwardly just staring at me for a couple of brief moments before pressing his lips to mine in a heated kiss. His fingers wound themselves in my hair and I trailed my hands up his shirt pausing briefly to brush against his nipples. I then grasped the hem of his shirt and started to pull it off. We briefly broke the kiss so I could yank the shirt over his head and I then did the same to mine. I couldn't help but feel self-conscious as he stared at my body… fuck why can't my lamp be further away or have a weaker light bulb or something? Ignoring my internal complaints I started to press kisses down his neck and chest, his breath hitching when I trailed lips over the hollow of his throat. I kissed there again and trailed my lips down to one of his nipples before placing it in my mouth. I licked a circle around it; it immediately hardening beneath my touch and lightly bit it. The moment my teeth came down a noise erupted from Taylor and he arched into my touch; I wouldn't go so far as to call it a moan but he was definitely enjoying himself. I felt a smile grace my features before I captured his mouth beneath mine once again. One of his hands played with my now hardening nipples and he used his other hand to undo my white belt.

I broke the kiss and helped pull off my half undone pants. "Don't be too disgusted," I said as I yanked them off and threw them on the floor. He looked down at my legs and his face paled as he noticed the white lines marring my thighs. Then he did the wholly unexpected; he lightly traced his fingers over some of them and then proceeded to place feather light kisses on some of the scars. My heart felt like it was welling in its chest as I lay back and felt him trail kisses up from the scars and then onto my hipbones and up onto my ribs, he even kissed the gross torso scar. My stomach has always been the least favourite part of my body and it was just ridiculously sweet to have someone be so loving to my ugly bits. However once teeth and a warm mouth found their way onto my nipple I couldn't help but gasp. Taylor stopped what he was doing and started to press kisses on my clavicles before biting the left one and eliciting a groan from me.

As he kissed and bit at my collarbone I started to fumble with his zipper trying to pull off his pants as well. He stopped what he was doing and assisted me with that task before kissing me with urgency. Our hands seemed to have minds of their own as we trailed our fingers over one another. I grasped onto the band of his boxers and started to pull them down. "Wait a sec," he said breathlessly placing a hand on one of my hands whilst using the other to keep himself propped up. "I have no idea where you stand on the whole top-bottom bullshit. So which do you prefer?"

I couldn't help but smile at his question and leaned up to kiss his chest. "I could care less, I dig both. Whichever you prefer I suppose. If we're feeling really adventurous we could do both," I said before kissing his chest again.

"Fuck you're amazing," he said pressing his lips to mine and rubbing my already erect penis with the heel of his palm through the fabric of my boxers. I started to yank off his boxers and he momentarily stopped everything he was doing to help me out with that. The moment his boxers lay forgotten on the floor and his lips where back against mine I took it upon myself to slowly stroke his cock spreading the little spurts of precum on the head. He broke the kiss softly moaning before grabbing my wrist and looking at me with lust filled eyes. I ceased the strokes and he started to pull off my boxers. Once they too lay discarded on the floor he said, "I want you on top." Then kissed me on the clavicle.

"Okay," I said getting up to rifle through the drawer beside my bed. In the back corner I finally found a small bottle of lube and a condom. I couldn't help but marvel at his beauty, as he lay naked on my bed staring at me hungrily. I set the supplies down next to him and crawled on top of him kissing him once again. I then proceeded to stroke his cock loving the way he'd moan into my mouth. I decided to stop teasing him and grabbed the bottle of lube. I coated two of my fingers and tried my best to warm it up a bit. "Ready?" I asked placing a kiss on the hollow of his throat.

"Yeah," he said breathlessly. I kissed his throat again and teased his opening a bit before gliding a finger in. He bit his lip and I kissed his throat before trying to find his spot. Once I scraped my finger against it a small moan escaped his lips and I entered my second finger. As I prepped him I placed kisses all over his throat and chest, after I was sure he was ready I pulled out and wiped my sticky fingers on the sheets. I ripped open the foil packet and rolled the condom over my throbbing member then spread more lube on it despite the condom being one of those lubricated ones. I lined myself up with his opening and kissed him before slowly starting to enter. Endorphins stimulated my synapses and I immediately let out a guttural groan. He was so… tight, and warm, and fucking perfect. I kept my body perfectly still despite the vehement protests from my hormones and gave him time to adjust. I felt his hands move to my hipbones and took it as a 'go ahead'. Slowly moving my hips a moan escaped my lips and we started to create a rhythm proceeding to go harder and faster with each thrust. I kissed and bit at his throat loving the sounds escaping his lips. I could feel something start to build-up in my chest and I started to jack him off hoping to not be done before him… premature ejaculation is just embarrassing. His muscles clenched and he blew his load all over his stomach and that amazing feeling muscle contraction brought me over the edge. My orgasm ripping through my body I moaned loudly and wanted to slump down and sleep or something. I slowly pulled out and tied the condom up before putting it in the garbage.

"You can use the sheets to clean up, or I can grab you a cloth," I said breathlessly. He nodded then wiped himself off with the dirty sheets and I lay back down on the bed basking in my afterglow.

"That was… fucking great," he said turning on his side and draping an arm over me.

"Yeah," I replied leaning in closer to him.

I disliked this idea already, but I of course agreed. Fuck why did I agree? Taylor just has to look at me like that and I immediately agree to whatever the fuck he says. Talk about spineless. I pulled the cardigan on over my vintage shirt and smoothed out my jeans. I was fucking with my hair when I heard the doorbell and with a heavy sigh I went upstairs and answered the door. Taylor was standing there looking as gorgeous as ever. "Hey, ready to go?" he asked.

"Yeah let's get out of here," I said leaving the house. The minute the door shut he pressed a light kiss to my lips and we got in his car. Some really angry band was blaring out of the speakers and we drove around until we finally got to the restaurant. Ugh why the fuck did I agree to dinner? We could've gone for coffee, or people watching, or gone to a show, or watched movies… but no he had to ask me to dinner instead. A small sigh escaped my lips and I really hoped it wasn't audible thankfully he didn't notice and we entered the small restaurant. My nose was immediately assaulted with a cacophony of smells and he told the hostess of our reservation. She lead us to a small table near the back of the restaurant and set menus down, I ordered a water and Taylor got some soda. I perused the menu and looked for the lowest cal option. I set my menu back down and Taylor was looking at me with that smile that made my knees weak.

The waitress came and we proceeded to order, I ordered a salad and Taylor ordered some pasta thing. The minute I ordered and insisted to the waitress that's all I wanted Taylor glared at me fiercely. "A salad?" he asked his tone menacing.

"I like vegetables," I replied casually.

"Let me rephrase that, you're only going to eat a salad?" he asked his glare never faltering.

"I'm not very hungry."

"You know I talked to Mags about your… dietary habits, not to mention from what I've observed… I think your sister may very well be right," he said.

"Right about what?" I asked confused.

"That first day I was at your house and she said you're anorexic, well I think she's right," he stated simply.

"Fuck you, I'm not anorexic. That's absolutely ludicrous, yeah I'm thin, and yeah I don't have a very big appetite most of the time but that doesn't mean I have an eating disorder," I stated trying to hide my emotions and control my rage. How dare he accuse me of having an eating disorder? In a restaurant of all places!

"Somehow I doubt that. Firstly you wouldn't be so angry if there wasn't some truth to that statement not to mention it explains a lot. The lies, the skipping meals, the fact that you won't remove your clothes unless it's dark, not to mention Mags has known you for years and she verifies my suspicions. Do you really think it's sexy that your ribs stick out in the disgusting manner they do? Hm? Do you think it's sexy how your thighs don't touch and you look like you walked out of a concentration camp?" he asked his voice hard and intimidating.

"Fuck you, you're such an asshole. Of all times to bring this shit up you chose now. Guess what, even if I did have an eating disorder which I don't. It would be none of your fucking business, it's my body and I can do with it what I please," I said before standing up and storming out of the restaurant. The nerve of that fucking asshole! Like it's any of his goddamned business what I do or don't put in my body. He is not the boss of me, he doesn't fucking own me, he can't make those kind of decisions about me nor can he judge me. So it's all right for him to run off and binge on drugs for lengths of time but it's somehow a huge deal if I skip a meal or two. That audacious prick! I stormed down the street being sure to go out of my way and down alleys so he wouldn't see me if he decided to follow (not that I expect him to, this is just precautionary measure). I stumbled into some park and climbed the top of the jungle gym and leaned against the bars. That fucking prick! Where does he get off accusing me of having an eating disorder? Fuck he'd never ever understand it so what right does he have to judge me. God… what is wrong with me? As much as I try to delude and convince myself I only have 'minor' issues with food… I know deep down he's right… and that reality really fucking hurts. I don't want to be fucked up, I don't want to die or end up like one of those scary people you see on TV… but I don't want to get fat either. I try to keep a balance… obviously eat some… but not enough to gain weight and now and again maybe drop a few pounds, is that so wrong? Fuck… I know after my… 'accident' the doctors said I was dangerously underweight… I know everyone who has suspicions (other than Nadya) worries… hell I even worry sometimes. Tears ran down my cheeks as I contemplated all of this. This is all so fucked up, what am I supposed to do? He knows… he fucking knows, and if he wasn't certain before he undeniably is now. I really fucked up.

I wandered home quite sometime later and went as far out of my way to avoid others as possible. I bolted down to my bedroom and yanked off my clothes. Standing in only my boxers I gazed upon my reflection in the mirror I grazed my fingers over my poking out ribs… I examined my collarbones and prodded at them to see just how far they stick out, I placed hands on my jutting out hipbones, fingers glided over my slightly concave stomach… maybe he is right… maybe I do look like a concentration camp victim… But… I'm thin… I'm actually thin and being thin is something society tends to regard as aesthetically pleasing. Sure being thin is pushed on women more then men… but being fat isn't considered sexy by anyone. It's not as if I'm wholly feminine either, I do have muscle covering my limbs… I do work out… I fuck… do I really look good or am I gross? Fuck… this is so fucked up. I couldn't handle those thoughts anymore so I popped too many over the counter sleeping pills and fell into a restless sleep.

The next morning I was a little groggy and felt like hell. I showered, got dressed, pulled on a sweater despite the warm temperature and slung my messenger bag over my shoulder. I wandered upstairs and made myself a cup of coffee then grabbed an orange. It's normal to eat fruit for breakfast isn't it? Don't tons of people just mow down on a grapefruit or something? I munched on my breakfast and was just thankful that everyone was busy so I could avoid all conversation. I finally got to school and secretly hoped Taylor wouldn't be here today. Fuck what do I even say to him? This is such a fucked up situation. Taylor it turns out did end up coming to school but he didn't even so much as glance in my direction and I did try to avoid him a bit as well. During lunch I hung out with Mischa instead of Taylor like usual and it wasn't until after school that we finally spoke. I was exiting the school and he was loitering outside and immediately marched up to me and said, "We need to talk." He looked really tense and was trying to restrain his anger or something. I merely nodded and followed him to his car. We drove around not speaking to one another, not even looking at one another until we finally stopped at one of the spots we'd go to get high. Lighting up a cigarette he finally looked at me and asked, "What the fuck is going on?"

"Uhm… what?"

"Alex, stop with the bullshit. You may be a good liar but I can see through you. Can we have at least one fucking conversation without you making stupid excuses and lying?"

"Okay…" I trailed off awkwardly.

"Why the fuck do you do it? Why?" he asked in an exasperated tone.

"Uhm… I-I don't really know," I replied quietly.

"I thought you said you weren't going to fucking lie, now fucking tell me!"

"I don't know!" I shot back angrily. "I've never really sat down and thought of the reasons before… fuck you don't get it alright."

"You don't get it. How the fuck do you think I feel watching the person I love kill themselves?"

"Your such a hypocrite. You run off binging and that's alright, but I skip a meal or two and it's the end of the world."

"I am not a hypocrite," he shot back darkly. "I know how much you hate my binging and I am at least trying to stop, I at least have cut back on it… but you don't even exude the effort at all."

"I-I… you just… fuck you don't get it… I don't know why I am the way I am… fuck I've been in denial about it for eons… I mean it's… fuck… you-you don't think I realize how fucked up it is? You don't think I realize that I'm hurting myself. I mean I try and balance you know… eat enough to live but not enough to put on weight. I-I don't know if I'm too thin or not… I'm just so confused. I don't want to end up like those scary looking people you see in brochures and on TV but I don't want to get fat either… I'm so fucking terrified of landing on either end of the spectrum and I-I'm just so confused," I rambled on pathetically.

"Oh" he said after quite a lapse in time. "I'm sorry for how I brought it up last time. I've kind of had suspicions for a while and there's been so many nights I haven't been able to sleep because I've been worrying and it just… watching you order only a salad and insist over and over again kind of just made me snap. I shouldn't have said anything then and I'm sorry for being such a blunt asshole."

"It's okay, I kind of like how you're a blunt asshole anyways. I mean yeah it can sometimes be fucked up and as if all tact has gone out the window… but overall I like how you just get so right to the point," I said hoping I didn't start blushing.

"I know that this is a serious thing and you can't get better overnight or anything. But will you please try? Like will you at least try to eat more, or at least put some sort of effort into getting better?" he pleaded.

If I hadn't seen that look in his eyes I know I would have agreed but been lying… god it was so desperate so pathetic so worried and so loving all rolled into one. "I'll try but I can't give you any promises and you have to be patient," I replied feeling intense amounts of shame.

The summer was supposed to be a crazy adventure, or at least two months of utter hedonism before some of us run away to university, some of us go back to school, and some of us just stick around working the 9-5. Instead we are going to fucking Russia, I understand where my mom is coming from with this visit. We have both just graduated, haven't seen like any of our family since we where kids, and will probably be both running far, far away pretty soon. Things between Nadya and I are getting along a lot better than we ever have and we understand one another now… but we are still by no means close we aren't even like normal siblings yet… so maybe this is a good thing. Instead of doing our own thing over the summer and then going our separate ways we'll be stuck in the same place together. This trip is horrible, it's long, there are screaming children, the layover in Prague was annoying to say the least (I didn't even have time to check any of the amazing architecture out), the movies on the flight sucked, and some kid kept kicking the back of my seat.

The plane landed in Ekaterinburg and I immediately fought hard to not turn my nose up. The airport was clearly left over from the Soviet era and was pretty old and shitty looking. We went through customs, grabbed our luggage, and finally made our way outside. It was dark and I wanted nothing more to sleep but I was immediately jolted awake by seeing our mother and some woman of nearly the same age who looked very much like her hugging. That I assumed was our aunt Sof'ya, after greeting our mother she greeted Nadya and I going on about how much we've grown and shit like that. I couldn't bother myself with the details but we where finally shuffled into a car and drove up to a house in the suburbs. Only one of our cousins still lived at home and I was to share a room with him whilst Nadya and my mother shared the now-spare bedroom. Kostya was already asleep as I set my bags down and crawled onto the small cot set on the other side of the room.

Upon awaking I found the bedroom to be empty and I wandered downstairs. Kostya was sitting around watching TV but nobody else was around that I could tell. "What time is it?" I asked flopping down next to him.

"Seven-thirty, you slept for a day or so," he replied. Now that I was awake I finally took in his appearance, despite sitting down I could clearly tell he was tall and had dark hair and lightly tanned skin, he looked nothing like how I remembered him he was always so fucking small when we where kids.

"Awesome… so what's there to do in this town?"

"Parties, gigs, just like any other town."

"What's the drinking age here?"

"Eighteen not that anyone cares, it's easy enough to buy liquor if you're underage," he said.

We continued to sit around talking and it turns out we had a bit in common. We both like punk music and poisoning our livers with grain alcohol.

Supper was awkward to say the least, I was able to have my other 'meals' by myself as my aunt and uncle where working, my mother was busy visiting people, Kostya slept a lot, and Nadya was on Facebook. We all sat around the table with mismatched chairs and I slowly slurped at my borscht and nibbled my bread (the rye bread here is about a million times tastier than the kind at home, it's also weirder looking). Then I had to hear… it. A phrase I hate more than the most vicious fag bashing. "Sasha, here have more borscht. You need to get some meat on those bones," my aunt said putting another spoonful of the thick hearty soup in my bowl. Nadya and I shared a look whilst my mother played oblivious… I really fucking hate it when people say that kind of shit to me. I'm trying to get better, I'm trying to put on weight… and it's like my efforts don't even matter. This internal battle is fucking killing me and all I feel is confliction over the most mundane of daily activities—eating. Half the time I don't even see the point in trying anymore, as it never seems to be good enough for anyone. The only two people who get it seem to be Nadya and Taylor. Or well maybe they don't fully get it, but they at least understand that I'm trying my hardest and how conflicted I feel… I think Nadya does the most. Of all the people to truly understand this part of my life, it's my twin sister. But I shouldn't be so surprised; she is after all a ballet dancer and has to deal with body image and weight issues a lot more than the average person. Supper continued on monotonously, there where awkward questions about our lives (okay not that awkward, I'm just an awkward person), and we heard a bit about the city and what everyone has been up to. It turns out Mitya was drafted into the military last spring and was incapable of dodging it. Talk about fucking scary, you don't even have a choice in the matter; however according to Kostya it's easy as hell and Mitya is just spineless when it comes to orders from his father (apparently only cowardly scum draft dodge) and his parents refused to help him pay some bribes to get out of it.

That night Nadya and I where invited by Kostya to go hang out with his friends. I jumped on the opportunity to get wasted and Nadya warily agreed to come. We left the house and caught a bus to the centre of the city and went into some store. I bought myself a big bottle of vodka (for dirt cheap), Kostya picked up some beer, and Nadya got coolers. I was surprised to say the least that we weren't id'd and hell Kostya is clearly underage. We then went to a park more on the beaten path and behind some trees in this neat little slightly wooded area were two girls and two guys sitting around in semi circle all drinking. Kostya did the introductions and the slight blonde girl was Vera, the other girl with really nice slightly tanned skin was Lidiya, the boy with a large frame and facial piercings was Sergei, and the last boy who had a really uneven haircut and high cheekbones was Pavel. I plopped down on the ground in-between Kostya and Nadya and cracked open the bottle immediately dumping some in the fountain drink cup I jacked from a convenience store. I felt a little awkward at first as everyone was sitting around discussing music (with the exception of Vera and Nadya who immediately hit it off) and I knew like none of the bands they where talking about. However they brought up the Gogol Bordello tour which was coming up and that was definitely my in to the conversation.

We sat around drinking for a couple of hours when Pavel pulled out a bag of marijuana or 'shishki' as he called it and then proceeded to roll the weirdest joint ever. I don't think I've seen anyone roll in that manner since junior high when none of us could roll. He had this like hollowed tube/paper and was packing it with the ganja. I passed him a lighter which he gratefully took and lit the 'kosyak' and then did the weirdest thing ever. He lit it and stuck the lit end in his mouth then went right up in Kostya's face and blew the smoke into his mouth. This is apparently a pretty common way to blaze in large gatherings and called 'paravoz'. It was a little awkward to be so up close to a virtual stranger and Nadya shied away from the concept entirely (I'm not sure if it was over the cannabis or the personal space invasion) but it was also kind of neat. I mean I've never smoked ganja in this manner in my life and it was just cool to try something new.

The next few days continued on like this. During the day Kostya played tour guide whilst Nadya and I went to museums and other touristy things, I'd sketch random buildings, we'd eat supper with the family, and then we'd go out to party with Kostya's friends (Nadya didn't come all the time as she hated all the drinking and drug use). Lidiya and Pavel (or Linya and Pasha as I was instructed to call them) ended up being the ones I had the most in common with and I met a few other kind of neat people on my adventures in parks and apartments getting hammered. It was a party at some flat that something pretty crazy happened. This was the biggest and craziest party I've been to since arriving and I was sitting on a kitchen counter with Pasha and his friend Fyodor. We continued chatting and all three of us had forgoes heavy drinking that evening to just smoke shishki and sip beers. However a bag with a familiar black and sticky looking treat ended up shaking up the whole evening. Fyodor dug through a drawer and found some tin foil whilst Pasha decimated an empty beer bottle and removed the bottom of it strewing broken glass in the kitchen sink. Fyodor stood in front of us whilst we kinda huddled together a bit and he had the tinfoil all ready and Pasha put a chunk of hash on it. He held onto the bottle and Fyodor lit under the foil then offered me the next hoot. I put my lips to the broken bottle and Fyodor lit the new little hash chunk and I quickly inhaled immediately perplexed by the taste and scent. I passed the bottle to Fyodor whilst Pasha took the tinfoil and lighter. I then exhaled and said, "This isn't hash is it?"

Pasha immediately laughed, shook his head, and said, "No this is 'chernyee'." Which I immediately realized was black tar heroin. Despite this new development I didn't turn down the bottle when it was passed to me once again and I took a deep inhale relishing in the calming sedative effect that washed over me. It wasn't like I had imagined it; I always envisioned something so much more forceful, something so much more intense. Instead I was just wrapped up in this calming and warm feeling. We stood around smoking the heroin for quite a while and where all rather high. The high was phenomenal, it wasn't a crazy rush like I'd always heard about, but it was a really calming and nice feeling. It was similar to weed kind of… in the whole relaxing you completely sense. But it was completely different in the fact that it didn't make you laugh a lot it just made you feel all warm and fuzzy and blissfully apathetic. I rolled a joint (I don't understand the whole pack a cigarette tube thing, rolling is so much faster) and sparked it whilst the three of us sat around on the counter talking about politics.

The next morning I had a bit of a headache and if I got up too suddenly I'd have a dizzy spell but overall I was surprised by how little of a hangover heroin had. We only spent a few more days in Ekaterinburg (a week in total) it was a week of utter hedonism filled with heavy drinking, two liaisons with heroin, and some of the worst hangovers of my life. It was fun though, really fun. After the week in Ekaterinburg we got on a train to Moskva and just before departure I picked up a bag of anasha (or marijuana) from Pasha and found out he'd be in Moscow in a week and a half for the Gogol Bordello show (along with Vera, Fyodor, and some people I don't know. Crazy fucker even sold me the extra ticket they had).

We boarded the train and throughout the trip I marvelled at the Russian countryside, I did a shit load of sketching, and also slept my hangover off. A day later we arrived in Moscow, I wanted nothing more to shower and I declared war against the Russian railway system (I don't care if the train went fairly fast and it was a long trip a day on a train is a day too long). When we finally arrived in Moscow we where picked up by our Uncle Viktor and took the metro to his apartment (so neat looking with its marble floors, so horrible with its large crowds). If I thought the traffic in Ekaterinburg was bad it made Moskva look great in comparison… it was absolute insanity. When we got to the apartment we saw our Aunt Kristina and their daughters Tamara and Nataliya (who I've never met before as they're just kids). I however just wanted to sleep and was given a spot on the couch.

Ever since our run in with the police Nadya has been even more unadventurous, she hangs out in the apartment all day and only leaves to go to an internet café not too far from here. It was really pathetic how much she was sitting around in the apartment so I devised a plan to get her to actually go out and do something. She was sitting on the couch watching some horrendous reality TV show when I said, "get dressed in some nice threads, we're going to go do something."

"I'm not going anywhere," she replied not even looking at me.

"Yes we are, get out of that slump. I have a grande idea and if you don't hurry the fuck up and get dressed I'm dragging you as is. And before you go all preachy no we aren't going to go get wasted with the degenerates I associate with."

"Fine," she said in an annoyed tone.

After she went to get ready I dug through my bag for some of my nicer clothes. I found some slacks, a dark purple button up, a skinny black tie, suspenders, and a black blazer. I yanked on those clothes, fixed my hair a bit and then slapped a little mascara on my eyelashes. About half an hour later Nadya came out wearing a strapless grey dress and a bunch of makeup on her face, "Do you have opera gloves?" I asked adjusting my tie.

"Uhm yeah… I guess I'll put them on," she said before disappearing again and showing up with black gloves and a pair of ankle boots with a scary looking heel in her hand.

"Put on some shoes and let's go," I said slipping my wallet in my blazer.

"Okay," she said picking up her purse and slipping on her shoes. I pulled on my converse and we went on our way. "So where are we going?" she asked as we made our way to the metro.

"You've been sitting around watching reality TV lately so I'm being unorthodox as fuck and taking you out on a date," I said.

"You are aware that you're my gay brother right?" she said with a smirk.

"And you are aware that we could make so much money with twincest porn?" I said trying not to laugh.

"You're so fucking gross," she said with a laugh.

"Pretty much," I replied. We finally got to the restaurant and ordered some dinner, I was so happy that she didn't even bat a lash at me just wanting salad. God I've been so overfed lately, I'm putting on way too much weight way too fast. It's fucking scary.

We chatted mindlessly about random topics speaking in English, which Nadya relished in as we've been confined to the Russian language the entire trip. "So Alex… taking a serious turn here," she said as our dishes where placed in front of us. "How are you… like food wise?"

"Oh uhm… I guess I'm getting better… I mean it's still a struggle. This trip is kind of fucking me up a bit… alcohol has so many calories but even worse like everyone is shoving so much food down my throat and like all I keep hearing is I'm too thin or whatever… and it's like my efforts don't even matter," I explained awkwardly before harpooning a veggie.

"Yeah I get what you mean… but your efforts do matter. I mean you used to look fucking gross and this is coming from a girl who had a minor encounter with bulimia. You are looking really good now, still a little on the emaciated side but pretty soon you're going to be in that perfect spot of 'sexy thin' not 'sickly thin'," she said with a sad smile.

I couldn't fight the small smile that enveloped my features. "Thanks… I mean for everything not just feeding my ego. I think of all the people in the world you're the one that gets… this the most. I mean sure Taylor and Mags try to understand but… they just don't get it fully. I mean you get that

I had been back for a day and had just slept off my jetlag. I've gotten a lot of good sketches (Nadya also got pictures) so I'll be able to get some good paintings and was more than eager to see Taylor and Mags. Taylor and I didn't part on the best of terms… and I never bothered to go on the internet while I was in Russia but I was more than eager to see him. I unwrapped the Matroyoshka Dolls I got her and set them in a box. I also grabbed the flask and lacquer box I got Taylor and set it in a random little box. I went out of my way to try and look as good as possible and decided to pay a surprise visit to the café. I didn't really pick up gifts for anyone other than Taylor and Mags and spent all of my cash on hedonistic pursuits. I got to the café and noticed it was Mags and some unfamiliar face working. I entered the café and hopped up on the counter (the line was devoid of customers thankfully) and went to the back area in a 100% unconventional and possibly unsanitary manner. "Alex!" Mags said pulling me fiercely into a hug.

"Hey," I said hugging her back and then doing the European double kiss thing (it's three kisses in Russia instead of the standard two) and then handing her the box I left on the counter.

"Oh Alex, how European of you," she said with a grin. "For me?"

"Why of course darling," I said with a smile.

"By the way asshole good job staying in touch," she said opening up the box.

"Sorry but Russia was crazy. I went to local shows, saw Gogol Bordello, went to art galleries, did touristy things, got in a fist fight, and did so many drugs my liver wants to kill me."

"Oh my god, are these those weird dolls inside dolls things," she said with a grin.

"Yeah," I replied.

"Wait you got in a fist fight?"

"Yeah Moskva is fucking insane. The cops there are so corrupt and I had to pay them off and when I was riding the metro one night after I left this bar with some comrades and we got in a fistfight with these skinhead fucks. Luckily we where all so pissed neither of us really did the other any damage."

"Now that surprises me, you're not a violent drunk."

"Not usually, besides they started it."

"Sure they did," she said sarcastically. "Oh by the way this is Jack we hired him a week after you left as Thom quit."

"That fucker quit? Lamesauce," I said slightly surprised. Then took a look at the boy who was clearly in high school and had a short stature and brown hair. "Greetings Jack."

"Yeah, he got a job at some fancy restaurant."

"So is there anything going on tonight?"

"Hm, in light of your return from the land of ice and snow I think I'll get Sarah to help whip up a little shindig as I can't really think of anything that is going on yet," she said with a grin.

"Excellent make sure all the usual characters are there I also managed to bring back a few bottles of vodka."

"Oh really now?"

"Yeah the shit is cheaper than bottled water over there and a bit stronger. I even had Nadya stick a couple of bottles in her bag for me. Anyways as much as I love you, I want to go see Taylor so I think I'm going to get out of here."

"Oh… uhm about that. You do know Taylor is kind of pissed off at you? Or at least I think he is I mean he's been binging like mad way more than the usual summertime fun."

"Still? I know we had just argued before I left but if he's still angry well then what a freak. Besides I can't judge him for the binging shit. Hell I was doing fucking heroin when I was in the good 'ol USSR."

After I spoke those words I received a slap on my arm/shoulder. "Heroin?" Mags asked in a cold tone.

"Don't worry yourself. Smoked it twice with my friend Pasha. Totally not as addictive, crazy, or harmful as we've been told."

"Fine," she muttered. I gave her a grin and a kiss on the cheek then hopped up onto the back counter and pulled out my cell phone. I called Taylor but received no answer.

"That fucking cunt," I muttered. "Do you know where Taylor would be, fucking asshole won't even pick up his phone."

"Try calling Kayla, Jesse, or Paul," Mags said offhandedly.

"Jesse?" I said appalled. "As in the scum of the earth Jesse?"

"Oh fuck, sorry forgot you haven't been here for a while. Yeah Jesse is dealing again he's like totally cornered the blow market and sells this fucking amazing ecstasy so Taylor has been paying him visits. I don't think he's hanging out with him or anything though, but they do see each other a lot," Mags explained with a fake smile.

"Fucker refuses to pick up my calls so he can hang out with that cunt," I muttered before calling Kayla. She was glad to hear from me and told me that Taylor mentioned something about going over to hang out at her place after he showered and got ready. "Well Mags my love, I'm off to punish Taylor accordingly and give him his present, I'll see you tonight text me the details," I said hopping off the counter and picking up the box with Taylor's present. I gave Mags another hug and then caught the bus to Kayla's new apartment (she apparently just moved out of her parents place so her house has become a real party den). I entered the apartment complex and knocked on door 240.

"Alex, good to see you," Kayla said with a grin opening the door up wider for me to come in.

"You too," I said kicking off my shoes and following her to the living room. I sat on the couch and noticed some unfamiliar guy looking half-dead on a chair.

"By the way this is my roommate Drew. So how was vacation?" she asked lighting up a cigarette.

"It was… pretty great. I did the touristy bit, but I met a lot of really neat people. Plus I partied like it was going out of style. The people I was hanging out with where fucking insane, my liver probably fucking hates me. It doesn't help that liquor is cheaper than water over there."

"Sounds awesome, wanna smoke a bowl?"

"For fucking sure," I replied.

About half an hour later I heard another knocking at the door and Kayla went to answer it I was surprisingly nervous as I sat on the couch taking a hoot off of a bong. "Alex?" a familiar voice said surprise in their tone.

"Hey Taylor," I replied after exhaling the smoke.

"What're you doing here?" he asked sitting next to me… though not as close as usual.

I took in his appearance and immediately felt a pang of guilt and worry. He looked haggard to be blunt; he'd clearly lost some weight, was sporting some serious under eye dark circles and had an unhealthy tint to his skin tone. "I just slept off my jetlag and wanted to see you. You weren't picking up your phone so I hunted you down," I replied casually.

"Oh… I'm out of minutes," he said.

"Oh well uhm… I got you this," I said handing him the box.

"Thanks… do you want to go for a drive? I think we need to talk," he said.

"Uhm sure… Kayla I'll see you later, by the way there's a shindig in the works Mags or Sarah will have all the information about it," I said standing up.

"Awesome, I'll see you later," she said.

We got in his beat up car and he started driving down the street. "Alex… what the fuck is going on?"

"Uhm… I don't know?"

"Fucking tell me, don't pull that fucking confused sweet and shy thing that you know is infuriatingly endearing. I want answers now," he said coldly.

"Look Taylor I've been gone for a fucking month. All I know is we had an argument before I left and that you're apparently still pissed off at me."

"Why didn't you answer the emails I sent you? I haven't heard from you in over a fucking month and you act like nothing has happened."

"Is that what this is about? I didn't answer your emails, as I didn't even go on the computer when I was there. Look I'm sorry if I made it look like I was blatantly ignoring you and I suppose I should've made an extra effort to stay in touch but it's not like I went out of my way to ignore you or just ignored your emails… fuck I didn't even know you where emailing me until just now. If it helps any I'm sorry and I really missed you," I said with the utmost sincerity and suddenly feeling really guilty. God I'm so selfish, I didn't even bother to try and keep in touch I just spent my time getting drunk and never once thought of emailing him. Sure I thought of him a lot and how happy I'd be to see him… but I didn't even bother to talk to him once.

"Honestly?" he asked.

"More than I care to admit," I said quietly a small blush adorning my cheeks.

"Fuck I really missed you too," he said pulling into a random parking lot. Once the car was in park he looked over at me with the sweetest smile and I passed him the present sitting on the dashboard.

"It's not much really… but yeah open it," I said.

He opened it up and a smile crossed his features. "A flask and a stash case?" he asked amused.

"It was either that or a fur hat and vodka," I said with a grin.

"I like them," he said setting the box back on the dashboard and kissing me. God I've missed this, I eagerly kissed back and placed a hand on his hips. I kissed him with desperation and dug my fingers into his hipbone. He broke the kiss and a small whine escaped my lips. "We need to stop before we get carried away… I'm not adventurous enough to do anything here," he said placing a chaste kiss on my lips.

"Fine, drive us somewhere secluded," I said impatiently.

We lay entwined in the backseat basking in our afterglow and just the feel of holding one another. "I missed you so much," he said quietly tightening his grip on me.

"I missed you too," I said shifting my head so I could place a kiss on his neck.

We eventually got dressed and continued to sit in the backseat him smoking cigarettes and me getting an ingenious idea. "Want to try something I learned in Russia?" I asked pulling an empty Belamor tube out of my pocket.

"Sure," he said looking at the tube.

"Okay awesome," I said grabbing the sack of weed I picked up from Kayla out of my pocket. "Have scissors?"

"Yeah," he said reaching up to grab scissors and a CD case from the glove compartment.

I filled the tube with weed and grabbed a lighter. "Uhm they call this paravoz… it's usually only done in big gatherings and is kind of weird. Nobody rolls joints either, they just fill these things up with weed, it's like junior high all over again," I said amused.

"Okay, so what is paravoz exactly?" he asked.

"Lean against the door like how we where laying before except uhm… sitting up more," I said groping around for a lighter. He complied with a mildly confused look on his face and I sat myself on his lap facing towards him with a smile on my face. "Lighter please," I said with a grin before sticking the kosyak in my mouth. "Okay open your mouth and get ready to inhale." He complied and I stuck the lit end of the kosyak in my mouth and blew on it the smoke going out the other end and into his mouth our faces only inches apart. I took the kosyak out of my mouth and took a little puff off of it as he exhaled.

"They smoke weed like that there?" he asked perplexed.

"I had the same reaction too initially. It's more done in larger gatherings and I guess everyone just digs the novelty factor of it. It's kind of awkward at first though when someone you've barely spoken to gets all up in your face like that," I explained passing the kosyak to him.

He stuck it in his lips and did the same for me and I greedily inhaled the smoke. He held the kosyak and said the hand he had on my waist tightening, "I know its just smoking weed but I do feel a little jealous that someone was getting all up close to you like that."

"They don't usually get quite… this close. Besides it's not viewed as erotic or intimate over there, it's just fun and games," I said giving him a hoot.

"I suppose but you know how irrational I am when it comes to things like that," he said with a small smile. A third of the way through the tube we butt it out feeling quite stoned and he rolled the window down a bit as I flipped over to be sitting in-between his legs with my back to his chest.

"So what's been going on since I left," I asked loving the feel of his arms wrapped tightly around me.

"Well… a few forgettable faces have moved away with university looming ahead, Sarah got a rather disastrous haircut, Tim got arrested, Jesse started dealing, and that's really it. Nothing too exciting I suppose," he said.

"Uhm… on the topic of drugs I've heard you've been binging. And no I'm not going to go all preachy and hypocritical on you… again. I just… please don't take it to far and be careful… okay?" I said my voice getting quieter as I carried on.

I felt him kiss my temple and he said, "I was only trying to fill the void while you where away."

"I was getting pretty fucked up when I was over there as well. The stereotype that everyone is drunk is completely true… well kind of… everyone is drinking anyways. I was drinking damn near everynight and if not drinking I was doing something else… I also did heroin when I was there."

He immediately stiffened and said in a restrained tone, "you where doing smack?"

"Y-yeah… I smoked it twice near the beginning of my trip. It was kind of fucked up how I tried it, I thought we where smoking hash all ghetto like with tinfoil but it turns out it was some lovely black tar," I replied.

"I know heroin is probably not as bad as we've all been led to believe but promise not to get caught up in it, I know the high is supposed to be the best thing in the world but please don't start doing it," he asked his tone showing small bits of his desperation.

"The high isn't all it's cracked up to be. It's… I couldn't say fun, but it is definitely a nice high. But it's nothing like that orgasmic rush people are always going on about in movies. It's kind of boring actually… I mean you can have an argument about politics on it… which I did. And you feel nothing either way… it's kind of sad actually, it just numbs you entirely."

"Oh… well what else did you do there?"

"Uhm… visited family which was awkward with the exclusion of a couple of cousins I'd party with, got in a fist fight on the metro in Moscow, had to bribe a cop, went to some gigs, saw Gogol Bordello, did touristy things like check out art galleries and monuments and stuff, partied way too much for my own good, and I don't know that's really it… I really just spent most of my time all fucked up, hell I even brought some vodka back with me."

"You got in a fist fight and bribed a cop?" he asked amused.

"Yeah we where both drunk and on the metro and this guy picked a fight with me but we where both too drunk to do any damage and the cop thing is really common. You're supposed to carry your passport at all times as it's like the only ID that counts and Nadya didn't have hers so I had to pay the cop off," I said.

"Is bribing cops cheap?"

"Ridiculously so," I replied.

"So… why was visiting family so awkward?" he asked.

"Well… I haven't seen them since I was ten and I was a little scared to go and see my dads side of the family… but it all ended up being pretty normal."

"Why where you afraid to see them?" he asked.

"Oh… fuck… I-I shouldn't have said that… uhm… I guess-I guess I can tell you. I mean I trust you and I suppose you can know… just promise not to tell anyone okay?" I pleaded.

"Uhm… okay, I promise," he said confused.

"You know that scar I have on my stomach and uhm… I don't know if you even noticed me back then… but do you remember when I came to school all fucked up looking and told everyone I got in a car crash?"

"Yeah… you had a broken arm or something and were all bruised," he said.

"Well uhm… I actually broke my arm in two places, had a detached retina… it's why I have to wear glasses now, one cracked and three broken ribs, internal bleeding, a concussion, got a few stitches on the back of my head and I also had some trauma on my neck…" I said listing off my injuries in an attempt to put off the inevitable. "Anyways uhm… th-there was no car crash. My dad… he never really liked me, the only time he really paid any attention to me was to scorn me, he never really hit me or anything though he just fucked with my head… but uhm… when he found out I was gay he kind of snapped and-and tried to… kill me," I explained.

"What?" he asked quietly. "Are you fucking serious?" His arms around me tightening.

"Uhm… yeah… I guess it's pretty fucked up," I replied.

"He-he did all of that just because… you're gay?" he asked perplexed.

"Uhm yeah… he's always been a homophobic asshole… he used to make fun of me a lot and just fuck with me… he never was really violent or anything though. Sure he slapped me the odd time but it was usually well deserved… I don't know what to say… I guess it was just the last straw and uhm besides… I dunno people are a lot more homophobic in Russia… which is kind of ironic considering Lenin decriminalized homosexuality before like any other country in Europe or North America, I actually saw Lenin's corpse it was creepy—" I started rambling hating how awkward this conversation was getting.

He kissed my temple and said, "stop rambling please… so is that why you uhm… have those food and confidence issues?

"Uhm… kind of probably… I mean he used to belittle me a lot… Jesse didn't help either… he kind of fucked me up as well… I don't really know what was the cause of it you know? It was probably a few different things."

"Will you… uhh will you tell me about Jesse? You've made little vague comments here and there… but I just… fuck," he said awkwardly.

"Yeah… I can tell you… fuck I just spilled my darkest secret to you, telling you about Jesse is nothing in comparison. We met at some party and I was immediately enthralled… he just seemed so awesome, you know? I mean I was this shy kind of nerdy guy and well I seen him at the café the next day and I dunno I guess he dug me or something… I felt just so amazing that this older, confident guy had some interest in me. I was… I don't know… naïve I guess. I mean it was my first relationship… fuck my first everything. We started dating immediately and at first everything was perfect and idealistic but slowly he just got… I don't know cruel or something. He just treated me like shit… he pretty much just used me for sex and I don't know just fucked with me I guess," I replied.

I love Sarah's house if you can even call it that. This party was exclusively outside/in the pool house place. Taylor and I entered the familiar backyard acting extra clingy towards one another and I looked for Sarah or Mags or Thom or somebody I adore. I pulled my flask out and took a sip, which just caused Taylor to smirk when he saw it. "Want some?" I asked holding it out to him.

"Am I one to ever turn down alcohol?" he said taking a sip and putting it in my blazer pocket. We then went right up to a table set up with mix and shit and grabbed beers from an open cooler.

"Alex!" a familiar voice said and I looked to the side to see Sarah approaching us and dressed in an adorable lacy white mini dress.

"Hello Sarah," I said doing the cheek kiss thing (turns out it's three instead of two, talk about weird).

"My, my Europe has done wonders for your mannerisms," she said with a faux-impressed look on her face.

"Of course it has, my babushka smacked me and called me an ill-mannered and insolent little boy."

"Ha, are you serious?" she asked with amusement and grabbed a beer out of the cooler.

"Yeah she's kind of… I don't know I don't really want to say mean… but she is kind of… harsh and cold and stuff. Crazy thing is according to everyone else in the family I'm somehow her favourite," I replied.

"Who'd pick you as their favourite?" she asked with a grin.

"That's what I thought," I replied with just as much mirth.

I was dumping out coffee grounds when Mags gave me a slight push and said, "Some chick wants to talk to you."

"Oh yeah?" I said with a raised eyebrow and continued with my work.

"Yeah she said something about buying one of your paintings," she replied with a grin.

"Fucking serious?"

"Yeah she's the really hot chick in all black standing by the pick up area," Mags said motioning to her.

"Alright, be back soon," I said walking towards the girl in question. She was one of those girls that people fall all over themselves to please; you know airbrushed pretty. "Uh… you're apparently interested in one of my paintings?" I asked awkwardly motioning for us to sit down at a table right by where we were standing.

She immediately put her attention to me and then smiled broadly before sitting down. "Yes I noticed the one on the wall you did of St. Basil's Cathedral and well… it's very beautiful," she said giving it a quick glance.

"Thanks," I replied feeling a little nervous.

"So… is it for sell by any chance?"

"Uh… yeah sure," I said giving it a glance.

"Well how much do you want for it?" she asked pulling her wallet out from her purse.

"Oh… uhm… I don't really know. I haven't really sold much art before you know?" I said feeling nervous. "Just pay whatever you're willing to pay for it."

"How about fifty dollars?" she asked.

"Uh… yeah that sounds great," I said a grin on my face as I went up to the wall and pulled the painting down.

I stood in front of the table and she gave me the money and I gave her the painting. "So… what is your name by the way?" she asked not even bothering to look at the painting.

"Oh, I'm Alex," I said awkwardly.

"Well Alex it's a pleasure to meet you, I'm Jill," she said with a smile.

"Nice to meet you," I said with a small nod before going back to work.

She gave me a smile then left the café. "So how'd it go?" Mags asked excitedly.

"She paid fifty bucks for it… I mean it's not even that good… I'll never understand people," I said with a wide grin.

"Fucking nice, that is really great Alex. Hey… do you think you can bring in some more work tommorow? I need to change things around in here," she said smiling.

"Of course, any pieces in specific?" I asked sitting on the back counter.

"No… bring a cacophony. I have a piece sitting upstairs which is fairly big so it'll be the focal point. It's basically a bathtub… Mark did it actually. And then I was just going to have you put up random paintings of yours… I'm getting really bored of this Lego art," she said looking around the café.

"Will do," I said with a smile.

The next day I bummed a ride from Taylor and he helped me bring in some artwork. I had a rather tall and thin piece that was of a pink squid. It had a slightly creepy feel to it and it didn't help that there was 'blood' dripping from the top of the canvas. I also brought a charcoal that I recreated from a picture I found of Red Square filled with soldiers… it was really dark and things where slightly fuzzy but it was a nice piece none the less. And lastly I brought in a close up of an orchid all done up in blacks and whites. "Hey Mags where do you want us to put these?" Taylor asked holding the large squid painting while I held the others.

"Let's see what you kids brought in," she said with a smile as we set them on a table.

"Fuck I love this squid or octopus or whatever… it's so neat. Uhm how about we put it over by the door," she said motioning to where she wanted it and then the next twenty minutes comprised of us hanging up all the new artwork and taking stuff down. The bathtub painting was pretty neat but rather large and my other two paintings sat on either side of it. Then on a different wall we hung up a bunch of black and white photographs.

A few days later Jill came back in and was with a friend this time. I made their drinks and as I passed them out Jill gave me a smile and said, "spasibo."

"It's actually pronounced spa'siba," I said curious as to why she would be speaking Russian in an American café. Don't get me wrong it's an interesting language… but anything you want to say you can say in English in half the time so it is rather impractical.

"Uhm… I don't think so," she said furrowing her brows slightly.

"Trust me it's spa'siba, spa'sibo is how you spell it when you do a translation," I said about to go back to work.

Before I had a chance to however Jill's friend asked with a condescension lacing her tone, "And how would you know?"

"Uh… Russian is my first language," I replied awkwardly.

"Really?" Jill asked curiously. "So you didn't just sign your painting Aleksandr Raskolnikov to be witty?"

"No… I don't really see what's witty about that anyways."

"Because Dostoeyevsky has a character named Raskolnikov and it's a painting of St. Basil's Cathedral and all," she said surprised I didn't get it.

"Oh… well I've never read Dostoeyevsky, I'm more into the beats then classic Russian literature," I replied with a shrug.

She actually looked… scandalized and said, "You must be joking! He was an absolute genius, you must read him."

"If my babushka couldn't convince me to read Tolstoy, I doubt you can convince me to read Dostoeyevsky," I replied with a shrug before going back to work. "That chick is fucking weird," I said walking up to Mags.

She laughed and said, "Why is that?"

"I think she has a fetish for Russia or something… she just gave me a language lesson on my own native tongue and then tried to convince me to read Dostoeyevsky," I replied.

"That is awesome," she said with a smile.

"No it's just… confusing. I mean Russia isn't that great… it's like only redeemable quality is how cheap liquor is and how much everyone is into liver toxicity. It's dirty, traffic is terrible, nobody smiles, and yeah it's fucking bleak there."

"Nobody smiles?" she asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Not really… like you know how on the street people are just cheerful and have a spring in their step well in Russia everyone is so fucking maudlin looking. And oh man, whenever you try to buy anything you like never get your change and the people working actually get pissed off if you ask for it, they are so fucking rude to you as a general rule, and some stores have the most asinine systems ever. Like you buy a ticket from one person with your purchases written on it and then you have to go to another person for them to grab them instead of like a normal line, it is so fucking annoying."

"Okay… that is really fucking pointless."

I wandered around Sarah's backyard with a smile upon my face. Sure Taylor disappeared… wherever, sure I can't find Mags… but this is great. It's still so nice out and the bugs aren't even bad tonight. I couldn't help but smile as some really terrible hip hop shit came from the speakers set up haphazardly, I bet Taylor is yelling at whoever was audacious enough to fuck with the Modest Mouse that was playing earlier. I sipped from my beer as I meandered to the pool house where the stereo system was set up but before I even got there someone totally unexpected came up to me. "Alex! Fancy seeing you here," Jill said with a smile.

"Oh hey, what's up?" I asked still a little creeped out by her.

"Nothing really, what about you?"

"Uh… yeah not much," I replied taking a sip of my beer and hoping Mags would stumble up and drag me away. Jill is nice and all but she kind of weirds me out, she has like some fetish for Russian culture and is always hanging around the café and is just… weird.

"Fun party huh?"

"It's alright, pretty early still… smaller crowd than usual though."

"Oh really? Hey, mind telling me why so many people are dressed up… even you are?" she asked curiously.

"Most of us who know the host try and dress up for the parties. I guess it's kind of a long running joke, we used to drink champagne and stuff a lot when partying in Sarah's fancy ass house so I guess we just decided classy is the way to go."

"That's really neat, cute suspenders by the way," she said pushing some hair behind her ear.

"Uh thanks…" I replied feeling even awkwarder as she took a step nearer and further invaded my personal space and then actually touching one of my suspenders to my horror. What the fuck is with this chick?

I breathed a sigh of relief I didn't even realize I was holding in when I felt an arm drape over my shoulder and heard Taylor say, "Hey love."

"Who're you?" Jill asked raising a perfectly manicured eyebrow.

"Taylor and you are?"

"Jill, so how do you know Alex?" she asked cautiously.

"Taylor's my boyfriend," I replied before taking a gulp of my dwindling down beer.

"What?" she asked with shock lacing her tone.

"Uh yeah?" I replied giving her a weird look… fucking chicks I just don't get them. "Hey is this Neutral Milk Hotel?" I asked suddenly.

"Yeah," Taylor replied with a grin.

"I fucking knew you where going to go on a musical rampage when that moron switched out the albums. Hey Jill it was nice talking to you, I'll probably see you later when I'm done making the rounds," I tried to say as pleasantly as possible.

"Yeah for sure, talk to you later," she said placing a quick kiss to my cheek and sashaying off.

"I hate her," Taylor growled.

"She fucking creeps me out."

"How do you know her anyways?" he asked curiously as he dropped his arm and we wandered around.

"She hangs out at the café a lot and bought one of my paintings."

"I want to eat her spleen."

I couldn't help but laugh at his statement, "I can't believe you're jealous of a girl. Sure she's pretty and all but she has tits, which are fucking gross and weird. Who wants to fuck something with fat sacks on their chest? Fucking nasty."

"Ugh mad truth."

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