It was pretty much a fact of life that alcohol fuelled creativity. With the aid of a few vodka shots, I'd managed to design a pretty kick ass costume for Jinx. She'd been over the moon with it. And with Gwen's added skill, she was going to look awesome.

A few more shots and my own costume brainstorming was going well. Plus, well, it helped me get my mind off Paige.

Paige and Will.

Will and Paige.

Sitting in a tree.

I shuddered at the thought.

She'd messaged me on Facebook. I was really starting to wonder if she'd figured I liked her; did she just like the attention or something? Was she taking the piss? Was there some bet among her and the rest of the band as to how long she could string me along for?

Was she just being, well, nice?

Hey D! How's things going? Any ideas for Halloween costumes yet?

I glared at the screen, before slamming the laptop shut.

What was I going to type back?

You're hot. Really hot. And amazing. I think I love you. No idea for Halloween yet! Dress up as Misty from Pokémon for me?

Fuck that.

I pushed the laptop to one side, pulled my sketchbook towards and began on my ideas. My brain was fixed in video game mode, and I ended writing a whole host of names down the side of the page before doing basic sketches of what they might look like.

I loved Halloween.

The chance to be someone else, anyone else.

How could I not love it?

Plus, to top it all off, we were celebrating by Jinx having a party.

I tried to ignore the fact that Jake, Will, Paige and Clara were probably going to be there. I'd just hang with the others. Show Paige that I, actually, had a lot of friends.

And I'd get wasted.

Shit-faced.

Absolutely bloody off my face.

Hell yeah.

I glanced down at the page.

Paine. Final Fantasy X-2. (There was no way I was even going to attempt to pull of Yuna or Rikku.)

Jigglypuff. Because why the hell not?

Princess Peach. That could be quite funny.

After that, I ran out of ideas. All the other ones I could think of were too…slutty. Nothing I could pull off. Nothing I'd want to pull off.

I really didn't want to go with something standard. I didn't want to dress slutty or sexy.

It didn't leave me with many options

I stared down at the page, glancing at the three small pictures I'd drawn. Paine would require leather and swords, not something easy – or cheap – to come by. For Jigglypuff, I could just use cardboard and paint it pink. Princess Peach…where the hell would I get a dress like that from?

I let out a frustrated cry and dropped my head onto my arms.

Why was this so bloody difficult?

Sitting back, I flicked the laptop back open and watched as the screen flared to life. Moving the mouse over to my folders, I scrolled through the various cartoons I had there.

A fair number of them were anime. I had some of my childhood favourites on there, too. Pokémon, the Aladdin cartoons (because, really, who could get enough of Jasmine?) among others.

My mouse hovered over my most recent addition. One I hadn't grown up with, but one that was amazing, fresh and funny. Did any kids actually watch it?

I moved my laptop so I had a clear view of it from my bed, and settled back to watch.

As the introduction filled up the screen, the idea hit me.

I actually began laughing. It was so simple, so obvious, and I'd be able to pull it off. Somehow. I had to! This was just too genius to pass up!

X X X

Half term was a time for relaxing. To forget about homework, at least until the Sunday before school started again. It was a time to hang out with friends and enjoy the break from school.

Not a time to be acting as therapist for Nate.

He was lying on my bed, legs stretched out and hands actually on his stomach. I was sitting on my chair, staring at him, wondering if he'd pulled that pose on purpose.

"Lucy's really excited about it," he said. "She said she's looking forward to meeting all my friends. But I just…I'm terrified Clara will say something."

I shrugged. "So what if she does? You're with Lucy."

Nate turned, lifting himself up on his elbow and staring hard at me. "I don't want to see her again." He emphasised every word. Or did that mean none of them were emphasised? Damned if I knew. "I left school because of her. Whenever I see her again I just…just…"

"Relive it all?" I muttered, frowning as I stared down at the floor.

"How do you stand it?"

I shrugged. "I have no idea. I draw, I guess. I try to forget she exists, try to forget she's somewhere in the same building. And Jinx…Jinx helps. More than Gwen and Faith. Well, it's good having them around, too, but like…" I took a deep breath. "This is going to sound weird. Harsh, maybe. But...looking at Jinx, and thinking of the shit Clara's done to her…she came out of that. I mean, you must have noticed, she's happier, right? Clara did worse to her than she did to us."

Nate fell back down on the bed, turning to gaze at the ceiling. "You ever worry it's going to start up again?"

"All the time. And I'm shit scared about her being at the party."

"So am I."

"But if she goes near Jay…" I would kill her. I seriously would. Jinx was…simultaneously the most fragile and the strongest person I knew.

I didn't even have to finish the sentence.

Grinning up at the ceiling, Nate said, "Yeah. Me too."

X X X

There was a section of the beach that was hidden away. It took time, energy and a little climbing to get there, but every so often we made the effort. It was worth it. The cliffs came up on either side, the one behind sloping down enough that it wasn't too dangerous climbing down. I loved it here. I think the other three did, too.

Out spot, our place.

"This is a no guy zone," Faith said, as we settled ourselves on the rocks. The waves lapped at the shore, and we'd have to climb back up in another hour or so before the tide came in all the way. "You're not allowed to bring your boyfriends here, okay?" She was grinning as she said it, and the other two grinned back, both agreeing.

"Does that mean I can bring someone here?" I asked. "You know, when I find the right girl."

"No," they said, in unison.

"A no partner zone," Faith stated, sharply nodding her head. "This place is just for us, right?"

"Right," I agreed. It was the day before the party, and my costume was finished. From the discussion on the way over, all our costumes were done. Not I knew what Gwen and Faith were wearing. They were keeping tight lipped, as was I.

Jinx wasn't happy.

"But you all know what I'm wearing!" she'd moaned.

"Only because you're awful at not saying anything. And because you needed Dawn and Gwen to help you."

Now, Jinx brought her knees to her chest, resting her chin on the top. She was smiling, gazing out at the sea.

"I love you guys," she muttered.

"All right, who's been spiking her water with vodka?"

At least Gwen and Faith laughed at my comment. Jinx cracked a smile.

"I mean it. Don't know how I would have got through the last few years without you." She turned her head, her sweeping gaze taking in all of us.

"Ditto," I said, nodding my head. "Without a doubt."

"If you suggest a group hug, I'm leaving," Faith drawled.

We laughed, falling silent for a while as we stared out at the water. In the distance, right on the horizon, a speedboat skimmed across the water.

When we spoke, it was about anything and everything we could think of. Except boys and girls. No mention of boyfriends or crushes or who we were going to one day marry. Jinx even resisted commenting on her latest celebrity crush.

Instead, she told us snippets of what her brother and his mates were doing to the house in preparation for the party. Fake cobwebs covering the inner door as you walked in, fake blood on the walls (where it'd be easy to clean off), skeletons and things hiding in dark corners.

"It should be awesome," Jinx said, eyes wide and a huge grin stretching from ear to ear. "If they actually make an effort, anyway."

Mathias certainly had an eye for decorating. Not normal decorating. He was arty, but his stuff was twisted and dark. Most of the art teachers had got rid of his stuff the moment he left school, but one of them kept his gruesome paintings on the wall. Jinx had shown us even more. He had a whole sketchbook of haunted house stuff, inside and out, and anyone who had older brothers or sisters knew his GCSE year Halloween party had been epic.

We'd been too young, and Jinx had been away with her parents.

So none of us ever experienced Mathias' legendary Halloween house party, or had brilliant memories for any of the others. Instead, we were making our own.

And Jinx, clearly, knew how to carry on a tradition.

"Is your brother going to be there?" I asked, picking up a smooth rock and throwing it from one hand to the other. She shook her head.

"He'll be there for a bit. But he's going out to town with his mates."

"Cool."

"What about Harrison's mates?" Faith asked, breaking the no-speaking-of-partners/crushes rule. Even if it was Jinx's boyfriend she was talking about. "His band?"

"They're coming." Her grin widened, and there was something secretive in her eyes. Lurking there, just beneath the surface. "I'm excited. I've only met them, like, once."

"Excited?" Gwen turned to her. "Aren't you scared? Joe was on about me meeting his mates when they come down to visit, and I'm terrified!"

"At least you've met his sister," Faith said. "And she likes you. That must make it easier."

Gwen shrugged, as I fell back on the rocks and stretched out. They dug into my back, but I didn't care. I stared up at the sky, smiling, enjoying the company of my friends and wondering what, exactly, the part would be like.

A/N: Yeah, I know, not the best chapter. But, the next chapters will deal with the Halloween party. Excited? As always, love to know what you think. And if you have a second, there's a poll on my profile page that I would really appreciate some votes on. Thanks very much.