First Night

The sun is setting, causing my skin to crawl.

Where the hell are they?

"Kota, you should get a shower," I hear Dakota say.

I shrug, still watching out the window from my perch on the windowsill.

It's now just past six-thirty and the wind outside is picking up. Aiden and Billy have been gone for over five hours with no sign that they hadn't been hurt.

"Maybe we should go check on them," I try, tearing my gaze away from the window to face Dakota, "Maybe they need our help."

He sighs, one hand on his side and the other running along his hair, "Kota, I know you're worried, but we can't just head out there this late."

"But-"

"They're fine," he says confidently, as if he actually knows it, "They probably met up with a small horde and decided to wait it out."

I cross my arms, glancing back out the window.

He sighs again and I can hear his footsteps coming closer. Before I know what's happening, he lifts me up like a bride and takes me away from my window.

"Whore!" I growl, "Put me down!"

He chuckles, unaffected by the insult, "You need a shower, Kota. You reek of blood and sweat."

"Well gee, thanks," I grumble, crossing my arms.

He leads me through Aiden's fairly decent sized house, through the living room with a fireplace, passed the kitchen with a lot of yummy foods, and into the large bathroom, where he finally puts me down.

"Take a hot shower, breathe, relax, and stop worrying about Aiden and Billy," he says.

"That's easy for you to say," I hiss, putting my hands on my hips, "He's not your best friend."

"No, but you are," he says, but quickly corrects himself, "Were, anyway. And just because he's not my friend doesn't mean I'm not worried. Calm down, babe."

I let out a long, frustrated breath. "Sorry," I say curtly, "Just stressed."

"It's cool," he says lightly, shrugging, "Now take a shower."

He heads for the door and splashes of blood dances in my vision, staining the shining white tile with red. The sink has blood filling up in it and my eyes widen. Mom's face appears on the wall, showing dead eyes with an empty hunger burning them. Blood is dripping from her mouth, running into her straight teeth…

Tears well up in my eyes and I turn on my heel, grabbing Dakota's shirt, stopping him.

"Please…" I whisper, voice cracking, "Please don't leave. I… I…"

He turns at the sound of my broken voice, eyes filled with some emotion I can't decipher. Before I can say anything, he pulls me in a strong hug, wrapping his arms firmly around my waist.

"God…" he breathes, "You're such a pain-in-the-ass."

"Gee…" I mumble, burying my face in the crook of his neck, "Thanks for those kind words."

He chuckles and pulls away, leaving his hands on my waist. He smiles a little, but I can see the sadness in his eyes, "Go get cleaned up. I'll be right here."

"Thank you," I whisper, looking down, "And listen, about what I said, about it being easy for you, I'm sorry. I'm just-"

He took his index finger and lifted my chin, forcing me to look at him. He leans in, causing me to hold my breath, and puts his forehead against mine, smirking, "Don't worry, babe. I already know you didn't mean it."

My face heats up and I turn around quickly, "Don't peek."

"Of course not," he says, but I can hear the smirk in his voice.

To be safe, I push the shower's glass door open and step in fully clothed. Once I'm inside, I strip completely, throwing the clothes in a heap just outside.

The hot water heats my sore body at a scorching temperature, relaxing my coiled muscles. It's only then that I realize how tight I've been since Aiden left. It felt as if I've had my muscles flexed forever, ready for a fight if the time came.

I scrub the bloodstains off of my body and wash my hair with the Axe 2 in 1 shampoo Aiden has setting on a ledge above the showerhead.

Thoughts of Aiden and Billy out together have me worried sick.

What if she sacrificed him so she could live? What if something happened and they can't make it back because she's too stubborn? What if… What if…

What if he's dead?

My stomach curls and my heart lurches.

He's not dead. He's not. Dakota's right. He's okay. He's okay. He's okay…

"Kota, are you okay?" Dakota's voice causes me to jump.

"Yeah," I say, letting the hot water wash my swollen eyes.

When I'm done, I push the knob down, shutting off the water. It's then that I realize that I didn't have anything to change into but my bloody jeans and thin spaghetti-strap.

And honestly, I don't want to change in to those.

"Dakota, can you hand me a big towel?"

"Sure," I hear him say.

He shuffles through the cabinet under the sink and pulls out a white towel, throwing it over the glass for me.

I wrap it securely around me, making sure you can't see anything, and open up the glass, stepping over my clothes.

Dakota's eyes widen and I hear his sharp breath.

I clear my throat, avoiding his gaze. "I forgot to get clothes," I explain, "Aiden has a few pairs of my underwear here in case of emergencies and I can just wear one of his shirts."

He blinks and coughs, like he's trying to clear his mind, "O-Of course."

I walk past him and open the door. The rush of cold air causes me to shiver and I hastily head to Aiden's room down the narrow hallway.

His room is huge, twice the size of mine at least. Clothes are littered all over the brown, plush carpet, almost covering it up entirely. His king-sized bed is against the west wall, two night stands on each side, and closet doors are directly across from it, hanging open a little. Inside the closet is a small-ish dresser with my underwear in it. Usually, it had more than just my underwear, but I was running low the other day so we brought all my clothes over to my house to have them washed.

So much for that idea.

On his walls are some of the pictures we've taken over the years and others of bands he likes.

"I've always wondered if he lived alone like the rumors say," Dakota says, breaking the silence, "What happened to his parents?"

"He left when he was sixteen," I say, heading over to his closet doors.

"Problems with dad?"

My muscles tighten further at the thought of Aiden's father and I try to force them to relax, "His father was overbearing to say the least," I say, rummaging in the dresser, "He didn't approve of Aiden wanting to go to college for music instead of trying to get in a sport."

"That doesn't sound too bad," Dakota comments.

I sigh, pulling out a pair of white underwear with a cute, blue owl on the back that had pink eyes. "He blamed it on me."

"Why?" he asks, tilting his head.

I grab a black long sleeve and turn to him, "Because he believed that if it hadn't been for me getting my music scholarship at such a young age, Aiden would've never wanted to go to learn any instrument."

"But Aiden plays the drums and guitar," Dakota says, obviously still lost, "It's not like he plays the piano like us."

I nod, "And that's what Aiden tried to convince him, but no matter what Aiden said, his dad wouldn't budge. So, Aiden left."

"What about his mom?"

I stop what I'm doing, staring at the black shirt and towel bundled in my hands, "She… died. Around the time Aiden and I started hanging out."

"Wow," Dakota breathes, "I've never heard any of this."

"Because Aiden doesn't tell anyone," I answer simply, "I'm the only one that knows."

Dakota smirks, "You guys are really close."

I eye him suspiciously, but nod nonetheless.

"And you two always act like a couple in school," he finishes, looking slightly amused, "Are you sure you guys are only friends?"

I laugh, "Us? Together? That's funny."

He shrugs, still smirking, "It's possible."

I shake my head, "No, not really. I love Aiden, don't get me wrong, he's an amazing person and I would be nothing without him, but he's more of my brother than anything else. The thought of kissing him is… weird."

"Now," I continue, "Will you turn around so I can get dressed?"

His smirk widens, but he turns around nonetheless.

I let the towel fall to the ground and slip on my underwear, pulling the long-sleeve over my head shortly after.

It fits the way I expect it too. It's a little too big, going over my butt and down to just above my thighs, the sleeves going to the middle of my palms, but it also fits snuggly, shaping my curves perfectly.

"You can turn around now," I say, walking over to Dakota, "I'm decent."

He looks over at me and shakes his head, muttering something like 'tease' under his breath.

I head to the living room, in the mood for the warm fire.

The living room, like almost every other room in the house, is pretty big. With wooden floors and walls, a white couch that can sit up to four people is placed in front of the fireplace. On either side of the couch, perpendicular to both it and the fireplace, are two more white couches, both that can fit only three people. Across from the fireplace, behind the long couch, is an entire wall of books, trailing up to the ceiling. Above the fireplace, placed just far enough not to overheat, is a fifty-inch flat screen mounted on the wall. A chandelier hangs from the ceiling between the bookshelf and the long couch, making the floor reflect sparkles from the fireplace.

Quickly, I take a seat on the floor, directly in front of the fireplace, and warm my hands.

"Are you cold?" Dakota asks, chuckling.

I stick my tongue out childishly, "Shut up. It's freezing."

He chuckles again, shaking his head as he sits next to me.

Silent fills the air and I yawn a little, stretching out my arms.

"Tired?" he asks.

"A little," I admit, "It's been such a long day."

"Why don't you go to sleep then? Alex and Ms. Garcia are up now. It wouldn't hurt for you to sleep for a few hours," he suggests.

I shake my head a little, staring at the flickering flames, "Every time I close my eyes… I see Mom and Grammy. I see Danielle… trying to kill you. I don't want to see that."

"What if I promise to stay here with you?" he offers, "And I promise I won't do anything."

I shoot him a playful, suspicious glance. "You swear you won't try to attack me in my sleep?"

He holds his hands up in defense, chuckling, "I'll try, at least."

I laugh with him, shaking my head. When our laughter dies down, I look at him, "Promise? Not to leave, I mean. Promise you'll stay with me?"

He smiles crookedly, "Promise."

I lean against him, head resting against his shoulder, "Thanks. I really should stop being so mean to you."

"You really should," he agrees jokingly. "No, don't worry about it. I probably deserve every bit of your anger. Well, most of it any way."

I yawn again, trying to cover my mouth my hand, "That's for sure."

He chuckles softly and I can feel his body rocking a little.

With another yawn, I close my eyes, drifting into blackness.