All the Bitter Songs

by Aurette


Ives pulled his zippo out of his pocket and lit the cigarette held firmly between his lips. It was probably a good thing he'd been allowed to smoke in rehab. He wouldn't have lasted long if all his vices had been systematically purged from his system. As he inhaled the all-too-familiar warmth of smoke, the door slammed open and a young woman stumbled out nearly falling flat on her face.

Keeping the cigarette in his mouth, Ives reached out to steady her. His hand had barely brushed her arm before she wrenched away with a gasp. She stared at him, her eyes wide. He vaguely recognized her, but no name came to the face. Thick blonde hair framed a pretty, although wild-eyed face. Her blue eyes seemed huge, and her mascara was running down her face highlight tear trails.

"You okay there?" Ives asked, deciding to not comment on her fear of his touch. He flicked some ash from his cigarette.

She didn't answer, but took a step back. Her high heels clacked on the concrete. She seemed completely ill-at-ease in her formal wear, as if she'd never worn high heels and a fancy dress before. Ives was curious in spite of himself.

"Have we met before?"

The girl shook her head. Her wild-eyed looked eased somewhat as she got her bearings and recognized him. Everyone recognized him nowadays. While the girl wasn't acting like a spooked horse, she still kept her distance.

"I'm M-manda," she stuttered.

"Oh." Ives puffed on his cigarette. "Right. Angel's little sister." He rolled his eyes. Angel. He couldn't dislike the girl, especially not when his best friend was getting married to her. But the woman hadn't been entirely welcoming to him when they first met. It probably hadn't been a good idea to shoot up right before Nikita introduced them. It was his own fault he'd made a bad impression. Going to rehab for ninety days hadn't been enough. He still had a tendency to forget that most of his problems lately had been due to his addictions.

"God I could use a hit," he said, not caring if the girl heard. It wasn't like his drug use was a secret. It'd been splashed all over the media more fervently than Nikita's car accident. Or his engagement. Happy news (or no-fault accidents), weren't nearly as interesting as a rock star self-destructing.

The girl took another step away from him. Her breathing, he now noticed, was coming in gasps. The cool night air was making her shiver, though that might have been from her anxiety attack.

"Don't you take pills for that? Nikita said you take pills."

Manda seemed taken aback that he knew something like that about her. She managed a glare through her trembling, teary behavior. It made her look a bit older. Ives wasn't sure how old Angel had said her little sister was, except that there'd been something of a gap between them. Ives wouldn't put her over twenty, and that was being generous. "I... I..."

"Chill out." Ives flicked his cigarette. "I'm sure we'll be seeing quite a bit of each other from now on, since my best friend and bandmate is marrying your sister. My bark is a lot worse than my bite. But I guess I am something of an asshole." He smiled at his self-deprecating joke.

Manda didn't seem nearly as amused. She rubbed her arms for a brief moment before running back to the door, desperate to either return to the Fanfare banquet or to get away from him.

"Just my luck," Ives muttered to himself as he ground out the cigarette beneath the toe of his shiny formal wingtips. The door slammed behind Manda, as if taunting him. "Even little girls want to run away from me."

Author's Note: Aaaah, my NaNo! Obviously my other stories are on temporary hiatus as I work on this. I will obviously get a huge chunk of this story written this month (if not all of it), and I'll try to post as I write, but that's not guaranteed. Anyway, enjoy. :) IVES IS BACK WHOO! This prologue technically isn't part of my NaNo, since I wrote it like right after I finished Love Letters, and it does take place during the banquet everyone attended in that story.