Chapter One

Dagwood sat alone at a table, staring down a new bottle of whiskey as he bounced a rubber ball off of the kitchen wall opposite of him. He could see his reflection in a number of surfaces from his seat, including the glass bottle of alcohol. He was still wearing a gray suit and vest with a burgundy striped dress shirt, from attending some benefit dinner or other, with his dark brown hair styled back, away from his face. He hadn't bothered to shave for the last few days and his brown eyes reflected indifference as another man stepped into the kitchen.

"You're not drunk, yet." Argus commented to his friend. A quiet mischief pulled at the corners of his mouth as he took a glass from the counter to pour himself a shot of Dagwood's whiskey. He poured it back and swallowed like it was nothing.

Dagwood frowned and gave a slight shrug. "Don't act like you're any better. You're just incapable of actually getting drunk." He looked over his friend, silently trying to figure out why he had shown up at his house later than usual. "You probably started drinking before it was legal. You've only been 21 for what, eight months?"

Dark blue eyes rolled, as Argus removed his jacket, revealing one of his sleeveless shirts that showed off his defined arms, and a pair of loose-fitting jeans. Around his neck was a black leather choker that he always wore, and his short hair he'd dyed a dark purple was as messy as normal.

"When did you get that tattoo?" Dagwood asked, pointing to the new ink on Argus' face. It was on his left cheek, a black symbol that more or less looked like gibberish in Dagwood's eyes.

"Oh, today. Haha... Its kanji." Argus said, going to the fridge and removing a bottle of beer. Dagwood said nothing about his friend freely drinking his alcohol.

"That's Chinese, right?" He asked, gesturing with the whiskey before tilting it back for a quick sip. "What does it mean?"

"Uh..." Argus hesitated, taking a moment to pop the cap off of the bottle of beer. "This one is a Japanese kanji." He said, "And you don't get to know what it means."

Dagwood chuckled, "Don't get all defensive, kid." He began, reminding Argus that he was five years older. "You know I have a few tattoos myself. But that," He tapped his own cheek, "Is a very public display. Therefore, it must have something to do with a girl you like. Am I right?"

"Shut up, Dags. You and I both know that there's no girl." Argus growled. "The only ones you see me around are Eirawen and Maeva, and you're usually there. If not, Dem and my brother are there." Even as he drowned himself with beer, irritation came through his voice.

"True, if it was either of them, then it would have to be Eirawen. But someone would have to be drunk, and seeing as Eira doesn't drink and you can't get drunk... Yeah, there probably isn't a girl. But I don't know why else you'd get a tattoo on your face." Dagwood stood as he let out another laugh, and began to rummage through his cabinets. Finding nothing there, he leaned over and opened the fridge. "Why is there never anything to eat?"

"Because you always expect me to do your shopping." A new voice said. Ironically, it was Eirawen that had joined them, her heels clicking on the white tiles as she strutted over to the table. Normally, Argus would have smiled to see her, but there was something off about her today. Her long curly hair that she'd dyed a neon blue was worn up in a disheveled high ponytail, and instead of one of her many dresses she wore a blouse with a cinched waist over shorts and lace tights. Her eyes were glazed over.

"Are you...drunk?" Argus immediately regretted asking the question, as Eirawen snatched what was left of his beer from his hands.

"Don't be silly. I hate alcohol." Even as she said this, gulped down some of Argus' beer. "I'll be up in my room if anyone wants me." She added, setting the bottle on the table before leaving the kitchen for the upstairs bedroom she sometimes used.

Dagwood turned toward Argus and raised a brow. "Well, are you going to sleep with her?" He asked, "Because if you don't, I sure as hell will."

Argus felt his jaw physically drop, "You would take advantage of your friend?"

Dagwood shrugged, "Only if you don't."

"I... I'm going to go check on her." Argus mumbled leaving his seat only after downing the last of his beer. "Maybe guard her door..." He direct a sharp glare at his older friend, "So don't try anything."

Dagwood batted his hand dismissively, "Don't worry, I won't disturb you kids."

"Shut up." Argus snapped.

"Hey, she did say if anyone wants her. What else would I get from that?" Dagwood teased, taking another shot of whiskey. "She had a date with her boyfriend, came to my house drunk, even though I'm a known playboy, and said she'd be up in her room if anyone wants her."

"Dags," Argus sighed, "It seems like what you're saying is that they broke up and that she's looking for a rebound guy. But I have just one question for ya." He shot him a serious look, "Who would be dumb enough to break up with Eira?" Dagwood only gave another halfhearted shrug.

Argus had every intention of just standing outside the door and standing guard, but as he reached the second floor bedroom, curiosity got the better of him. "Eira? Are you okay?" He leaned on the door frame, flinching a bit as the door opened.

Eirawen stood in front of him, her long bright curls now falling over her shoulders. Her dark brown eyes almost immediately focused on his new tattoo. "Hey, Argy. That's new." She pointed a finger at his cheek.

"Uh, yeah. It is." Argus nodded, "You smell like a bar, Eira. What's going on?"

"Tch. Well, that's flattering." Eirawen glared at him, though she slipped a hand onto his shoulder.

"Yeah, well... What are you doing..?" A skeptical eyebrow raised as he leaned back. "You're getting kind of-"

"He dumped me." She interrupted, "He told me that he's engaged to another woman. He says that it was arranged through his parents, but..." She trailed off for a moment, "If he really loved me, he wouldn't have let me be the other woman, right?" Her hand slid further up around his neck, "Now there's probably some poor woman out there that's been wondering where her fiance has been going for the last year. She probably even thinks that I'm some sort of slut. But I'm not. I mean, I mean..."

Argus sighed, "You need some rest. You're not quite... You're behaving... We'll talk in the morning." He promised, but she shook her head. "Eira, I'll be able to help you out better if you explained what happened with a clear head. You-"

"But I need to say this right now. I was going to break up with him, anyways." At this moment, she stepped closer. "Because I like you, Argy." With this pulled his lips to her's, and though her grip on him was weak, he did not fight her, at first. A few seconds passed in the kiss before he pushed her away.

"You don't know what you're doing. This is a mistake, Eira. I'm not risking our friendship for some drunken one night stand."

"Ugh, you're impossible. Why do you think that I had to go to the bar. Not because he dumped me and all that crap. I needed to slightly lose my inhibitions just to tell you that I like you." She pulled him into the room, "Come on, let's talk. Right now." Eirawen smiled, "Hmmkay?"

The next morning, Maeva Eremita strutted into Dagwood's kitchen, having expected him to be there, much like Argus and Eirawen had the night before. As expected, Dagwood was passed out in his chair, an almost empty whiskey bottle in his hand. She took the shot glass from the counter, filled it with water from the faucet and threw it at his face.

Dagwood awoke with a cough, "Why, hello sweetie." He greeted, nearly falling out of his chair. "To what do I owe this morning pleasure? Oh, wait, right..." He massaged his temples, "Your sister is upstairs, but I'm not sure if you should disturb them."

Maeva leaned over the table, causing her long black, purple and blood red hair to sway. "Oh? And what would you mean by 'them'?" She inquired.

Dagwood met her hazel eyes with a gentle smile, "Eira and Argus. He went to guard her door, but when I looked, he wasn't even there. So, I just drank all by my lonesome. You didn't come. Neither did Demario. Where is that kid, anyway?"

Maeva rolled her eyes, "Yeah. No. You're obviously still drunk. Argy is like a brother, or something. What you're implying...Just...No." She shook her head.

"I'm almost perfectly sober. I'll make some coffee." He stood with a slight flourish, "You want your tea?" He opened the cabinet and waved an opened bag of chai tea mix at her. Maeva nodded. She grabbed a roll of paper towels and began to clear the table.

"You're such a pig, Dagsy." She commented.

As he started a pot of coffee, he felt himself grin. "And you," He turned, eying the twenty year old's attire. She wore all black, a short fluffy skirt with a laced up corset and a pair of high heels. "Are a bombshell. Seriously, why don't you have a boyfriend?" He filled a cup with water and placed in the microwave.

Maeva shrugged, eying the doorway for a few seconds. "To be honest, you don't find many smart, funny and cute guys."

"Oh, that's right, you don't find me cute. What was it that Eira called me? Ruggedly beautiful?" The microwave beeped, "Here ya go." He handed her the hot water along with the chai tea mix.

"That's not what I meant, but yeah. Demario is cute, but not my type. Leary is hot, and then Argy is apparently sexy." Maeva explained, putting a few spoonfuls of the mixture into her cup and stirring it around.

"Why are the two brothers hot and sexy? That's hardly fair. The fact that you admit it means that you need more female friends." Dagwood pointed out, as he took a seat on top of the counter.

"Why? So you can sleep with them and make things...weird? Again?" Maeva snapped, before taking a sip of her hot tea.

"You're still on about that, Maeva? He only did it the one time." Argus interrupted, staggering into the kitchen.

"Whoa, there. Did you really sleep with her?" Dagwood gasped, with a sort of choked out laugh.

"Fuck you, Dags." Argus growled.

Dagwood's grin widened, "Someone was, but I don't think that it was me. I've never actually been drunk enough to not remember being laid..." He tilted his head in thought, then rolled his shoulders.

"What the hell? No one got laid!"

"I'm not sure about that." Dagwood said, staring at his friend head on for a while. Argus let out another growl before stalking off. "Where are ya going?"

"Home. I really fucking screwed up." Argus mumbled, causing Maeva's eyebrows to arch.

It was only a short while before Eirawen joined Dagwood and her sister in the kitchen.

"Hi, sweetie." Dagwood greeted, "Did you sleep well?" He poured a cup of coffee and handed it to her.

"Where's Argus?"

"Your ol' Argy went home, for a change. Surprising, I know."

"Yeah, well..." Eirawen glanced at her sister, "Can you talk to this guy? I should go find Argy-boy." she swallowed the last of her coffee and returned the empty cup.

"Talk to me about what?"

"Well..."

"Bye." Eirawen skipped out. Maeva raised a finger for Dagwood to wait, and sure enough, Eirawen returned a few seconds later. "Can I borrow someone's car?"

Dagwood sighed, "Fine..." He dug his keys out of his pocket and tossed them to her. "I'll hitch a ride with Maeva, later. Just don't do anything I would do."

"Right then, no legal driving. But what if I get pulled over?" Eirawen threw Dagwood a teasing smile, "Kidding." She skipped out of the house again.

Outside, she used the clicker on the key ring to open the garage door, revealing a slick purple-black sports car that Dagwood used on many occasions to pick up "town sluts" as Eirawen sometimes liked to call them. She reasoned that if they went home with him because of the car, then they'd have to be sluts.

Argus lived a few minutes' drive from Dagwood's place in a small two bedroom house that he rented with his older brother, Lear. It was painted a light lemon, almost white, with green trim, with a small fruit tree planted out by the one car driveway that led to the garage that snugly fit the two cars that belonged to the brothers. But instead of parking in their driveway, she parked Dagwood's car at her apartment's parking lot, in one of the guest spaces, after checking to make sure that her own car was still where it should have been. From there, she made the short walk to the Grayson brothers' house.

Eirawen flipped through her key ring, taking a moment to find the proper key. Everyone in her group of friends had copies of the keys to each others' houses, since some of them had known each other for a long time, or instantly got along. Sometimes if you've had a long day, you just crashed at whichever place was closest. Last night, that place had been Dagwood's house, in the case of Eirawen. Dagwood and Demario lived more in-city than the rest, but Dagwood definitely had more room in his lofty house than Demario did in his quaint apartment. One might think that the friends slept over at Dagwood's house the most, but it actually depended on who it was that needed a place to stay.

Eirawen really did sleep over at whichever place was closest. Probably because she had no sense of privacy whatsoever. She even had her own room at Dagwood's house. Her sister, Maeva, had an apartment in the same complex, but they still stayed at each others' places fairly often. Sometimes their friends forgot which apartment belonged to who.

Dagwood probably only really stayed at Eirawen's apartment for some odd reason or another, unless she wasn't in the mood for having him on her couch in the morning, which put him at the Grayson brothers'.

Lear never stayed over at a friend's, but he would check in on them periodically if he hadn't heard from them in too long, or he'd go pick up his brother if he'd stayed away from home for too many nights. And usually, Argus would be staying at Demario's after stopping at Dagwood's for a drink.

Demario didn't like taking advantage of his friends unless he had to. At least, not at first. Eventually, he got used to the fact that it was dangerous to go home at night, especially since he didn't have a car, and had to take a bus and walk everywhere. Even though he wasn't that worried about it himself, his friends would worry about him, since he was the youngest and smallest of them at 18 years old.

For some reason or another, the house keys on Eirawen's key ring all had different key covers on them. The one for the Grayson brothers' house was white with zebra stripes she'd drawn on it herself. She didn't know why she found it appropriate. Maybe because she always sort of thought that Argus was one of the more wild of her friends. Lear, too, in a lesser sort of way. His brother did some things that would really surprise or scare them, sometimes. Eirawen fingered the key, suddenly wondering if it was the time to be using it.

"Eirawen?" A deep, strong voice caught her attention. There was a smooth tone to it, backed by massive lung capacity that was rarely used by the man of few words. She turned, greeting the elder Grayson brother with a quick smile. Lear stood at 6'2", wearing a blazer over a t-shirt and dark jeans with a cowl scarf around his neck. His black hair was short and messy, his dark gray, almost black eyes shone some concern towards the young woman before him.

"Hi, Leary."

"Looking for Argus?" He asked.

Eirawen tilted her head, raising a brow and leaning forward just slightly. "What? Are we not friends, too?" She retorted, lightly slapping his arm. He gave her a gentle smile that let her know exactly what she needed to. "I didn't even hear your car pull in. Is his-" Lear shook his head. "No car? Well, I suppose that you'll do. Come, let's talk." He didn't question being invited into his own home.

"Hold on." Dagwood interrupted Maeva's explanation, for what seemed to be the dozenth time. "So. Your uncle died. And left you a manor. In some small town in the middle of nowhere." He dropped onto the couch in his living room, where the fireplace roared with a fire that the housekeeper had started that morning. "And you want us to live there? The six of us? Together? Just drop everything here and move?" Maeva nodded. "That's insanity. I love it." He decided, throwing back a fresh shot of espresso.

"Great," Maeva let out a sigh of relief, "So, maybe while my sister is handling the brothers, we can go meet Demario? I'll drive." Already, she took her car keys out of her bag.

"I don't see why not." Dagwood agreed, "He should be home. Theoretically speaking. I just got comfy, but oh well. And of course you'll be the one driving! Eira's got my car and I'm not driving yours."

Demario's apartment was actually within walking distance of Dagwood's house, but seeing as Maeva would be driving to her and Eirawen's apartment complex later on, they still chose to drive there. The apartment he lived in wasn't as nice as where the Eremita sisters lived, with next to no parking, being by the busy street. It was a tiny one bedroom apartment with enough space for a bed in his room and a couch and small television in the living area. His stove didn't work, but even if it did, he didn't know many recipes, so whenever he cooked, it was usually and Eirawen's place.

Maeva and Dagwood found the teen on the couch, watching one of his dance shows he was in love with. It was probably a recording from the night before, but he leaned forward with focused intent. Most of the shows he watched were interesting enough, but Maeva and Eirawen always thought that he could do better than most of the contestants on them and encouraged him to try to audition, but it had yet to happen.

Having heard them let themselves in, Demario gestured for Maeva and Dagwood to join him. He was wearing a purple t-shirt under his regular black vest, with jeans torn up from a few years of B-boying on the streets. As he watched another well-choreographed dance routine, his brown eyes lit up with as much excitement as on Christmas day, oddly matching with his messily styled dark hair with the patch of blond on the right side. He skin had a natural light tan, from being mixed, though the Filipino blood from his mother's side of his family shone through the mood, petite stature and all. At the end of the dance, he paused the show and turned to his two friends.

"Hey guys, what's up?"


So, what do you all think? Is it a weird place to cut off? I hope not. Any favorite characters, so far? I personally like Dagwood... Well, I like all of them, but I'm sort of biased, as the author.

Review, if you're up to it. It would make me very happy~! Thanks!

MitsukiNori