Chapter 3

"WHERE'S ALEK?" MARIE DEMANDED as she glared at me, her eyes still watering at the same time, smearing her make-up even worse than before, if that were possible.

She was in a baggy t-shirt and tight yoga pants. I couldn't believe she wasn't wearing her normal mini skirt or low cut shirt. The only thing that's normally there that was still in place, were her tan Ugg boots.

"Hi to you, too, Blue," I said tightly, trying to joke, which just made her send me yet another glare. "He's in the bathroom, I'll text him. He should be down soon," I said and got out my cell phone, quickly sending a text message to him.

Andy: Marie's here. Crying. Get down here, clothed.

"Alright, I sent the message. He just stopped in for a few, to check on me," I told her, motioning to my wrists and trying to be a little honest at least as I waited for a reply. My phone vibrated in my hand.

Marie scoffed at me, making a sniffling noise. "Doesn't he always, Andy? Ever the night in shining armor for you, I'd say," she growled out through clenched teeth.

I kept my eyes on my cell phone, not wanting the confrontation. My phone made a soft beeping noise and vibrated once, saving me from Marie's death glare. What the hell was up with her?

Alek: Coming.

Blue continued to look at me with her dangerous glare. "He'd better hurry up. What's he doing, redressing himself?" she hissed, venom clear in her words.

I raised an eyebrow at her, but decided to ignore it. "What's going on, Blue" I asked, slightly irritated with her, not knowing what the water-works and death glares were all about. It's not like I did anything to her.

Marie closed her eyes and took a deep breath through her nose, and sent me a final glare before speaking. Her bright blue eyes piercing right through me.

"You. Of all of the people, he didn't tell you," she paused, laughing humorlessly. "I knew he didn't leave me for you. I just knew it, he really couldn't have if he didn't even tell you," she said with an almost hysterical laugh now, causing me to take a hesitant step away from her.

Once again, I raised a thin eyebrow at her. She wasn't making any sense at all, and in all honesty, she was starting to freak me out. "What are you talking about, Blue," I demanded, getting up my nerve and grabbing her arm in attempts to snag her attention.

I shot a nervous glance at my cell phone, wondering where Alek had disappeared to and why he wasn't showing his face yet. Did he know what was going on down here?

She snatched her arm away from me quickly, as if she'd been burnt. "He left me.," she practically spat. "Alek left me. What the hell else would I be crying and going on about? They said he left me for you, but if you didn't even know about it, then I knew he didn't. Then I know I can get him back. I need to speak with him." she told me desperately, trying to claw past me and into the house, acting slightly crazed.

"Slightly?" Alice murmured in my ear, sounding amused and I pushed all thoughts of her away.

I held my ground, beyond confused about whatever was going on. Marie had never been this hell-bent on getting Alek back before.

"There's nothing left for me to say to you, Marie. Other than I'm sorry that it didn't work out for us in the end," Alek said loudly from across the living room at the bottom of the staircase. "I've told you everything that concerns you." he finished, slowly making his way closer, an icy calm look on his face as he got closer to us.

I looked between the two of them, not wanting to be put in the middle of what looked to definitely be the starts of a fight, but still needing to know what in the world was going on. I took a step back, hoping that if they did start a fight, they would take it outside or at least not involve me in any serious way.

"You didn't tell me anything." I stated evenly, trying to be cautious. I wanted badly to figure out what was going on, but then again... then again I wanted nothing to do with either one of them at this moment. I clenched my fists, digging my nails into my palms, hoping that this all was just a bad dream and that I could wake up soon.

As much as I wanted Alek all for myself... I mentally shook those thoughts out of my head. No, Andy, now is so not the time.

Alek cleared his throat nervously and I brought my gaze back to his. "I was going to, Andy," he admitted slowly. "I just couldn't find the right time."

I shook my head, suddenly angry with him. "Any time would have been the right time, Alek, and you know it! How about when I woke up next to you? You couldn't have mentioned it then," I asked, almost yelling as I turned towards him.

In a way, I'd felt bad by turning on him also, but he really deserved it. I mean, he really could have spoken up when I was making a comment about it.

"What?" Marie's voice squealed through the air, anger and tension following it and making her voice raise an octave or two. I cringed.

Alek scowled at me, and I bit back the smile that wanted so badly to escape. "Not now, Blue. Later," he growled, still looking at me. "Between you losing consciousness and having attacks, and then pushing me away, no, there wasn't a right time," he yelled and I shrunk back, feeling my eyes begin to water, all thoughts of me smiling went down the drain.

I felt like I was on a damn emotional roller-coaster, and I doubted I'd be let off anytime soon. Side effect number uno of missing my medication. Emotions went into overdrive.

He'd never yelled at me before, and definitely not like this. There was a fierceness to him right now, which I despised with a passion. I didn't ever want to see or hear it again. This wasn't the Alek I knew.

"Alek, what's going on? What have you done," Marie's shrill wails began once again as she cried harder, getting even more confused as the conversation went on.

I watched his face go blank as he closed his eyes and took a deep breath, most likely trying to calm himself down before he exploded anymore. When he opened his eyes again, his face was still red, and the glare was still there, but it was no longer directed towards me.

Tears were starting to form in my eyes, and I didn't dare speak again, even though I knew that I had to. I didn't want them in my house, especially not while I cried like this. I didn't entirely understand why I was the one crying. I mean, Blue deserved to be the one crying. Not me. Me with my stupid luck. She was the one who just got dumped, probably over the phone somehow.

"Get out," I demanded in a murmur to the both of them. "I don't want you here," I said as tears finally ran down my cheeks.

I couldn't handle Alek being mad at me and yelling at me like that, and I couldn't handle my best friend's screams in my head. I had enough of the screaming for one day, I didn't need hers added to the ones inside of my head.

I watched Alek carefully as he made his was over to me, and locked his bright blue eyes with my gray ones. "I'm sorry, Andy. But I really want to talk to you about this," he told me with a slight frown, wiping away a tear from my cheek. "I didn't mean to yell like that."

Right. I shook my head. "I just want to be alone right now," I told him with a sigh, pushing past him and going to the living room where I sat with my knees pulled up close to my chest.

"Andy, don't-"

"It's too late; I've made up my mind. I don't want anyone here," I said firmly, not caring that tears were forming in his eyes too. "Nothing will happen," I murmured, looking past him, silently trying to convince myself that I was right, that nothing really would happen.

"I'll have Kitty come by later then, Andy." he murmured, and it sounded like he had said he loved me, but I couldn't be too sure, and I didn't want to believe it. It was probably just my mind playing tricks on me, and telling me what I wanted to hear.

After a moment, Marie took off to her car and sped off angrily, squealing her tires. I didn't think she should be driving, being that upset. Alek lingered in the doorway for a minute longer, and then slowly walked out to his red car.

"What's all the commotion, Andy?" Alice asked me, appearing in a white summer dress, sitting in front of me on the coffee table. She always had the habit of popping up in the worst possible times.

"Not now," I mumbled as I cried, pushing her voice and image out of my head once more. I didn't want to do this, to hurt anyone, and it was the last thing I'd ever want to do. Alice disappeared, waving at me sadly. I knew I'd hurt her feelings, but I couldn't think of anything else to do right now. I just needed time by myself, to sort things out without getting overwhelmed with voices.

I sat there and stared at the chipped black nail polish on my fingernails, hugging my legs closer to my chest and not really knowing how much time had passed. My eyes started feeling heavy, and I didn't know if I could resist closing them. Soon, though, they drifted closed; my body's way of saying I'd had enough.

I'M PRETTY SURE I'D FALLEN asleep; Kitty was tapping my shoulder gently, telling me to wake up. I slowly opened my eyes, just to jump half out of my skin. She was sitting right above me, face directly in front of mine. She was so close, that I could smell her Victoria's Secret perfume lingering in the air, along with her Listerine mouth wash.

"Alek had told me you were upset," she said in a knowing kind of tone, tilting her head to the left. "He wanted me to make sure you were alright," she finished with a slight smile on her face, taking a seat beside me.

Her reddish-blonde curls hung in a loose ponytail, stray pieces of hair falling out and framing her face nicely, her blue eyes seemed to be glowing in comparison. She was in a black vest that fit snugly against her white, short sleeved dress shirt. She was, as always, in one of her royal blue mini-skirts and black shin-high boots that laced up the sides. This part of Kitty hardly ever changed – it was either her tight jeans, or her royal blue mini-skirts.

I was quiet for a minute, knowing that she was waiting for an answer from me. "Kitty," I said sadly, letting out a sigh, looking her in the eyes. "He didn't tell me about Marie. I screwed everything up," I murmured, a sob building up in my chest, "he doesn't like me, he never did, did he," I cried, leaning against her for support as she moved closer and wrapped an arm around my shoulders. "I know he doesn't," I finished sadly, knowing the answer as I finished feeling sorry for myself.

Kitty surprised me by laughing her small, girlish giggle. "You're so... naive! You're oblivious to everything, Andy," she giggled some more, even more excited than before. "He does like you, Andy. God, you're all he ever talks about, hell, you're all he's ever talked about," she finished with an exasperated sigh. "He's crazy about you. Why else do you think Blue hated being around lately? Why do you think he broke it off between them?" she asked, looking at me as if I really was crazy.

I didn't know what to say to her, so I just stared at her with a stupid dumbfounded look on my face for a minute. Disbelief clouded my mind, filling me up to the rim; I needed Alek to prove it to me himself, prove that he liked me as much as Kitty had said. I couldn't get my hopes up, just by hearing someone else tell me about it. That would be naive.

I mean, why would I believe something someone else said, when I hadn't even heard it from that person? I just couldn't trust it, even if Kitty is my best friend and his sister… I couldn't… I can't.

"It's just a sick game, Andromeda" a voice hissed and I shook my head, pushing it to the back of my mind for now.

"I really don't know, Kitty. I... I can't put up with this kind of stuff. That's something... something I need to hear from him..." I trailed off, still crying and fighting past the voices. "I know that he doesn't like me the way I like him. He never has, or he would have shown me."

Kitty let out a low growled. "Or maybe he thought he could get you jealous by dating our best friend," she practically yelled, sounding frustrated. "Have you ever thought of that? How he wasn't that happy with her," she asked me, sounding angry. Then in a low voice, she said, "I told him it wouldn't work, why else would he have been with her so long," and grumbled something unintelligible under her breath.

"She's lying, lying! He doesn't care. Has he shown you he loves you? No. He doesn't love you," voices chanted and chattered in my ears but I ignored them.

I sat there silently, waiting for her to continue and for the voices to cease, for her to tell me more about what's going on. When she didn't, I thought I had the perfect thing to say. "Then why don't you bring him here to prove it to me? Surely he would know the difference between lies. Better yet, no. Let him come to me on his own, and then it will prove to me how much he really does care." I thought to myself, thinking out how I wanted the conversation to go.

Instead, I whispered, "He doesn't care," to her, shaking my head, the total opposite of what I had wanted to say, and pushed myself off the couch. Brushing my bangs out of my face, I ran for the bathroom and locked the door.

I let out a loud, ear piercing scream as the scene changed dramatically before my eyes as I turned around. It looked so… real

Mom! Oh my god… there's… Blood, it's everywhere! She's covered in it... what happened? The room spun around in circles as I hit the floor, lying next to my mother's lifeless body. "Help! Somebody! Help me!" I tried screaming out, but nobody was listening. I started to panic, and everything started to go black, everything stopped, spinning around me and making my stomach twist and turn... all of the blood… pools and pools of blood surrounding her, covering her…

I OPENED MY EYES SLOWLY, my vision was blurred and my head was throbbing in pain. It felt like somebody had taken a sledge hammer and an ice pick to my temples, cracking my entire skull open. The slightest noise and the dimmest of lights ignited the fire burning in my head, making it almost unbearable. My cheeks were moist and cold, most likely from tears. I didn't understand what happened at all.

Where am I? What happened? My thoughts were racing as I rapidly blinked my eyes open and closed, trying to ignore the pain. I wasn't sure if I was blind or it was just dark, and it was beginning to make me panic. The last time I'd checked, it was daytime outside. I glanced from side to side, wincing as I did so, and decided that it was dark when I seen a small light coming from underneath the doorway.

I could feel somebody by my side holding onto my hand. "K-kitty," I asked, barely able to even whisper. I didn't think it was her, but I had to say something, and she was the last person I'd seen.

The hand that was on mine was warm, and too big to belong to my friend. I was at a loss as to who it could possibly belong to. Their grip tightened on me, making my heart leap for a moment.

"No, it's me," Alek said, his voice a broken whisper in my ear. His breath came out in a hot rush, trailing from my ear down my neck, making the hairs on the back of my neck raise and giving me the chills.

I fought the urge to shudder, and then smile as realization hit me, harder than a brick, might I add. Realization of who was holding my hand, and who was practically holding me; it felt overwhelming. I couldn't believe he showed up. Am I dreaming?

"Andromeda… you're awake," he asked in a whisper, kissing my cheek softly and wiping away tears from my cheeks.

I slowly turned onto my right side to face him, even though I couldn't see him or anything else at all. I concluded that we were lying on my bed, and I was only in shorts and a shirt. We were on top of my blankets, and a slight coldness was creeping up my leg. I ignored it, busying myself with questions.

"What happened?" I asked him softly, my voice still kind of rough from being… sleeping, I had guessed, pulling his hand closer to me, up to my cheek again.

Slowly, a silence crept up on us, one that I'd always dreaded. I knew I'd gone into the bathroom crying when Kitty was there, and then… I'd seen my mom on the floor… I stiffened.

The bad part is, I didn't know if it was a hallucination or if it were real. Or maybe it was one of those silly premonitions people talk about having, but really don't have?

"Alek… where is my mom," I asked in a voice softer than a whisper. I chose to word it differently, be slightly more direct than how is she. I didn't want him to know what the vision had been about, because then he'd start to worry even more, knowing him. I'd never had one of someone lying there, dead… I'd never even thought it would come down to any of this happening...

His grip tightened slightly on my hand, in a reassuring sort of way and he wrapped himself around me, closer than before. "Hon, don't worry. She got home a couple of hours ago. Whatever you seen, it was just your imagination, okay," he whispered to me in my ear, moving my black hair out of my face and kissing my temple as he stroked my hair soothingly.

I let out a sigh, not of relief, but that's how he'd interpreted it. Does this mean I'm getting worse? Does this mean I'll be locked away in a psych ward again?

"Kitty, on the other hand, isn't happy. She wouldn't stop crying," he said, breaking my short train of thought before it even started. "I… I had to bust the door down to get to you, Andy. I thought… I thought that you were dead," Alek murmured, his voice thick with tears as he pulled me as close as he could, burying his face in my hair.

I didn't know what to say to him, I was speechless. I didn't even know what to think. "I… I'm sorry, Alek… I don't know what happened," I whispered, starting to cry and only lying slightly. I had hurt him in the worst possible way, and there was no way that I could take it back.

I felt a dark, sinking feeling in my stomach. Is this what the voices wanted from me? Do they want me to be all alone and defenseless?

He shook his head, his slightly shaggy hair brushing against my forehead, his nose barely touching mine. "No, Andy, you've got nothing to apologize for. I'm the one who should be sorry, not you. I'm the one," he said sadly, sounding defeated, his arms tightening around me, hard enough to make it so I couldn't squirm free. "Your mom… well… your mom had told us that if you keep having your… your visions, she's going to send you away," he spoke in a broken whisper, disbelief in his words, never letting go of me but tightening his grip even more as he practically cried out the next words. "I'll never be able to see you, again, Andy."

I froze. Sent away? Back there? Go back to the psych ward… I couldn't stand the thought of being sent back there. I couldn't bare it. I had killed myself, and they brought me back to life. That was one of the last things I had ever wanted. One of the last things the voices had wanted, too. I couldn't bare it.

I was sent there a year ago, because my mom had thought that I would benefit from it. The thing is, it made it all worse and they knew it. A mysterious call was placed to Boston while I was there, and some strings were pulled and I was sent home. Nobody would tell me who they had called from Boston, or who had called from there. They had just told me that a call was made, and that I would be returning home. I leaped for joy, unable to handle the insanity encased in that building, where they drugged the sane, and left the insane to suffer some more. I was only there for six months, but it was long enough to realize that it would eventually be the end of me – be it from me killing myself, the patients listening to their voices, or my voices coming to life. There was no way I would go back there, not now, not ever. Too many crazies, I thought to myself, resisting the urge to laugh at the irony.

Alice's kind was there, too. Not just a few… they crowded the rooms… they never let me sleep. I could barely breathe, the claustrophobic feeling kicked in whenever they wanted to show themselves, and it would send me straight into a panic attack. They never let me do anything, say anything, just… panic… and I wasn't the only one to see them. Alice…

"Yes, Andromeda?" her voice rang through my mind like wind chimes in the summer breeze and I winced. "You can't go back, you're not crazy. I wasn't crazy, and look what they did to me? I wasn't crazy!" she cried helplessly, her tiny voice fading in and out in pure panic and rage, all at once. "I wasn't crazy…" her voice faded slightly, a manic edge creeping into her voice.

Alice… you weren't. I'm not. I'm not going back there. I just can't. He knows why he'll never see me again, because he knows that I would kill myself there. My thoughts were directed at the little girl who was perched on top of my dresser, dressed in dark jeans and a tank top.

"You cannot! You'll survive, Andromeda. You will not go back there," she stated firmly, and then disappeared, a determined look on her face, like she had been put on a mission.

"Andy?" Alek murmured cautiously, his voice pulling me back to reality as always. I let out a sigh. "Please, tell me what I can do to fix this and I will. I don't want to lose you, not again," he whispered to me, his desperation clear in his voice.

Reality always has its own ways of crashing down on me and making me realize everything I'd been doing was wrong, and that everything I'm feeling won't ever mean anything. It has a way of hitting me, hard, and knocking me back. And when it hits me, it knocks the air right out of me. I mean, like how a punch in the stomach would hit anyone else.

"Alek, you can't fix me. I'm too broken to ever be fixed. I was never yours to be lost. You know that, Alek," I told him, my voice almost a whisper as I spoke. I pulled out of his embrace slowly as his grip loosened on me, shaking my head softly.

He pulled the rest of the way away from me, sitting up in my bed and facing away from me.

I couldn't help it; I had to keep going with what I was saying. Even if it hurt me; even if it hurt the both of us and was beyond ridiculous, I had to do it. Any other girl would have jumped at the opportunity of getting to be Alek's girlfriend, but I knew I had to say this all, before I could do anything.

"You were with Blue, Alek. For an entire year, you had told my best friend that you loved her and that you were madly in love with her. What happened to that? You left her, even after all of those promises you'd made to her, telling her that you'd be together forever. And now, now you're sitting here, in my bed, next to me saying that you love me. I don't understand you. You send so many mixed signals; I don't know what to believe anymore. Maybe… maybe it would be best if you left…" I trailed off, unsure of what was going through my mind right now.

I felt like crying, but then once the tears began to form, I knew that was the wrong thing to do. Feeling torn, I sat up and slid closer to Alek, but not close enough to be touching. Was I doing the right thing? I let out a sigh, covering my face.

The bed moved slightly, and I knew that Alek had gotten up. Soft footsteps led to the door, and then he murmured something unintelligible under his breath.

"I'm sorry, Andromeda. I didn't mean to hurt you," he murmuredZx and I heard the door open, and knew that he was taking my advice and leaving.

Building up the courage, I took my chance. "I love you, stupid," I said before he could fully leave, flinging myself backwards onto my bed, covering my face with a pillow so he couldn't see the tears silently streaming down my cheeks. I wanted to wipe them away, but couldn't bring myself to move, or even think straight.

The room was silent for a moment, and I didn't hear anymore footsteps. I knew that he'd heard me; I knew I'd said it loud enough for him to hear.

He spoke in a broken whisper; "I love you too, Andy."

I listened as his soft footsteps faded and disappeared down the hallway. I rolled over onto my stomach, the pillow still covering my face as I let the last of the tears out.

Sitting up, I wiped my face clean of all of the fallen tears. "Why am I so stupid and pathetic, and just plain… pathetic," I asked myself between hiccups, shaking my head and trying to catch my breath, trying to get rid of the tight feeling in my chest. I didn't understand what was happening or going on, not one bit. It was all a confusing mess.

The light in the hallway illuminated everything in my room in a soft, yellow glow, causing shadows to dance across my walls. Letting out a yawn, I watched the shadows for a moment.

Just then, flickers of images of a man filled my vision. He couldn't have been older than mid-twenties, and he began running towards me quickly, a fierce expression marring his features, his mouth open in a nasty expression, like he was angrily screaming at me as he ran.

I froze, inhaling quickly, completely unsure of what I was supposed to do. Was it real? Was it really happening to me? I couldn't tell; he looked… real; many of my visions don't look real at all.

I let out an ear piercing scream as he got closer and closer to me, and I noticed the blood crusted butcher's knife raised above his head, gripped tightly in his right hand. It seemed to grow in size as he ran, and looked more like a machete than anything when he got closer.

He had on a ragged, red and black plaid flannel shirt that was buttoned all the way up with its sleeves rolled up half way, specks of mud and a darker liquid covered his shirt, splatters of red on his cheeks. His jeans were worn and also covered in mud, and also a dark red spot on his left leg. The steel toed boots he was wearing were almost completely covered in mud.

The man's face was fierce with rage, a slight beard covering his chin. He had a scar that ran from the center of his forehead, zigzagged all the way across his eye and down to his chin.

Pulling my knees up to my chest, I covered my face with my hands, clamping my mouth closed as I tried sliding as close to the wall as I could. I couldn't get the image of him out of my head, no matter how hard as I tried.

The door flew open then, smacking against the wall with a loud bang and making me jump half out of my skin. The bang reverberated through my bedroom, shaking the walls and my bed.

"What's wrong?" Alek demanded, breathless as if he had just ran a few miles, and hadn't stopped to rest yet.

I shook my head quickly, my hands still over my face as I continued to cry. My body was shaking as I tried to comprehend what had just happened. I stared at the corner of my room from between shaking fingers, my eyes still wide with fear.

I heard Alek's foot-steps come in closer and I slid away from him. "Andy..." he murmured cautiously, sitting on the edge of my bed slowly and reaching for me.

"Alek," I whispered as I cried, shaking violently now, almost like I was convulsing. "I'm losing my mind," I murmured partially to myself as he pulled me quickly into his warm, muscular arms and held me close to him as he rubbed my back soothingly. Nothing he could do would be able to chase away the fear, the images, not ever.

"You'll be fine, Andy. You're fine. Nothing is going to get you, I promise. Shh," He cooed in my ear, rocking me back and forth. "You need your sleep, we've both got school in the morning," he continued as I grudgingly let my eyes close. "Nothing will get you while I'm here, I promise. I won't let it," he whispered softly, his grip tightening around me.

I finally decided that it was hard to not relax with Alek holding me, and slumped against him. Giving in to my fears and emotions, I let out a shuddering breath.

Sleep didn't find me that fast, it never did. It was like I was lost inside of my mind, watching everything pass by me quickly, yet painfully slowly. I was aware of everything that was happening, but it was like I was stuck in a pile of cement.

I was unable to move, unable to breathe, unable to save my own life. Not even from myself.

SCHOOL PASSED BY slowly. Every class the same – "You're not doing it right, you must write it like this," or "That's not the correct formula for that geometry problem." It was all the same. I longed for this last period class all throughout the day, but then once it came… all I wanted to do was go home and hide.

I pulled up the black hood from my hoodie over my head as I headed into my last class of the day - study hall. Looking down at my black and purple skate shoes, I pulled out my chair and sat down next to Kitty.

This was in a way my favorite class, but then again it's the class that I hate the most. Of course, like every other class, there was a surplus of stuck-up rich kids who thought they were better than everyone else. In this class, the amount of them had to have been concentrated. I was one of the two loner-stereotyped teens in the entire class.

The room was crowded, almost too crowded for me to be able to breathe. I hadn't seen Alek at all today, which could have been a good or bad thing. I didn't dare ask Kitty, but only because I didn't want to draw attention to myself. Well, more attention than there already was.

"Oh, look, it's Raggedy Anne and her pet, Kitty," one of the blonde girls chided from the back of the room. I gritted my teeth and pretended not to have heard them, shooting Kitty a glance to see how she reacted.

As usual, everything that was said about Kitty slid right off of her. She smirked as she doodled a picture of one of the blondes… under her brother's red car. I held back a snicker, holding my hand up to my mouth to hide my smile.

The study hall was in the Science room, and everyone was seated at the lab tables talking and gossiping. I seen a paper Chinese football fly across the room, and watched the teacher snatch it thoughtlessly out of the air as she walked into the classroom.

Mrs. Brian was at least 5'8, and she had long, curly blonde hair. She wore a knee length black skirt, and skin colored tights. Her blazer had light purple on the inside of it, matching the blouse that she wore underneath. She wore thick, plastic framed glasses, too. The term nerd-glasses had no affect on her; they were far from being nerdy on Mrs. Brian.

I switched my attention into pulling out my book, "Romeo and Juliet" by William Shakespeare, from my crammed camouflage messenger bag. I put in my headphones, blaring some random scream-o music in my ears.

I was lost in the book, lost in how madly in love Romeo and Juliet were when they barely even knew each other, and lost in how far they went to be with each other, when I felt a soft tap on my shoulder. I looked up and seen Mrs. Brian standing above me, a soft, apologetic smile on her face.

"Miss Hodge? I do believe the dismissal bell just rang," she said, laughing quietly. "I'm not sure why Brianna took off so quickly, but she didn't even bother waking you," she spoke quietly, seeming to be talking to herself.

I felt my face heat up and get red as I shoved my book back into my bag. I looked up at the clock, then out the window to check to see if the buses had left. And of course, knowing my luck, there wasn't a single bus left waiting outside. I let out a sigh and stood up, slinging my bag over my shoulder.

"Thanks, Mrs. Brian," I murmured quickly, and ran out of the classroom, towards the front door. The hallways were completely empty – no student was left lingering at their lockers or even at the office and stray pieces of paper littered the floors as I walked as quickly as I could.

I couldn't have missed the buses… right? I had to have been right. I opened the front doors quickly, and let out a sigh of defeat. The only vehicle sitting outside of the school was a little red Pontiac sports car.

I hesitated for a moment, recognizing that car from somewhere. It looked too familiar, but I couldn't place it in my half-asleep haze.

The car started up, and followed me slowly. I heard the window roll down and I sped up slightly, becoming slightly paranoid as I felt a pair of eyes bore into my back.

"Andy, I can follow you all day, you know," Alek yelled from the driver's seat of the car, laughing a little. My heart flipped around inside my chest.

I shook my head. "I can walk home," I murmured, hoping he would hear me and trying to keep that smile from creeping onto my face. I was by the main road by now, turning on the sidewalk that led down the busy Main Street.

I tried to distract myself from the though of him following me all the way home, but I couldn't. I could feel his eyes burning holes in my back as he watched me continue to walk.

I turned around quickly and his car stopped. He was on the phone with somebody, and all I heard was, "I love you too, Angie," and felt my face get red.

"What is your problem, Alek? Seriously? Have you got nothing better to do with your life than follow me around right now?" I demanded angrily, taking a step towards him. I gave in, letting my emotions get the best of me.

He flipped his phone shut and laughed. "Andromeda, get in. Please? I'd feel bad if I let you walk all the way home, alone," he said seriously.

Shaking my head, I took another step closer. "You tell me you love me, and then you take it back. Life isn't a game, but you're treating it like one. And now you're looking at me like I'm crazy!" I exclaimed, turning around and stomping away as I glimpsed the look on his face.

"Andy!" Alek yelled from behind me, and I heard a car door slam shut. Crap.

I couldn't help it; tears were streaming down my face. I started to run, afraid of what he would think when he seen me like this. He would probably think I'm even crazier… what if I am, though? I wiped at my eyes angrily, unhappy with myself for letting the tears actually spill. If I kept breaking down like this, and kept seeing things, they really would send me away. I was nowhere near being stable.

I heard Alek's footsteps come closer and closer to me, and the tip of my shoe snagged on what I could only guess was a rock. I went flying forward, but never actually fell, even though my heart and a scream were successfully lodged in my throat, neither of them not making it out of me.

Warm arms circled around me tightly, holding me in place close to Alek's chest. "Shhh, Andy. You don't have to run from me, you know I would never hurt you. I'd never even think of doing something like that to you, ever," he whispered in my ears and I relaxed into him, letting him pull me into his embrace.

I took a deep breath, steadying myself. "Why do you do this to me? You do it so easily, Alek. I don't understand," I whispered, closing my eyes. I was still facing away from him; he had his face buried in my neck and hair.

"It's so hard for me to tell you how I feel, Andy. God I wish I could do everything perfectly, that I wouldn't screw things up," he said with a humorless laugh, taking a deep breath and sending chills down my spine.

I couldn't help but laugh at what he had said. "Seriously, you screw up? I beg to differ," I said, pulling out of his hug and looking up at him, shaking my head.

Alek swiped a finger under my right eye, catching a tear that was still lingering there. "Yes, I screw up. I screwed up. Please don't cry," he said as he looked down at me sadly and placed a kiss on my forehead, successfully giving me butterflies. Crap.

I shook my head, smiling slightly. "How come I highly doubt that you have ever screwed anything up, in your entire life? Honestly, Alek. I don't think you are capable of doing such a thing," I told him honestly, staring into his blue eyes.

He smiled at me. "How come I highly doubt that you have ever screwed anything up?" he turned the question back around on me.

I couldn't help but scowl. "Alek, don't even bother. I'm being sent away, there's no two ways about it," I mumbled, turning away from him and starting to walk down the road.

Alek caught my elbow in his hand. "Not if I have anything to do with it, Andromeda. I will not let them take you away from me again," he whispered as he pulled me back into a hug quickly, making my head spin as he kissed my forehead then cheeks.

I felt more tears slide down my cheeks. I didn't know what to say to him anymore. I didn't even know that he cared when they'd sent me off the first time.

He frowned and wiped the tear away. "Didn't I tell you to stop crying?" he asked, forcing a smile. It broke my heart to see him acting like this. Everything was a confusing, emotional mess lately.

I shook my head slowly. "Yeah, I'm sorry. I just… I didn't know that you would care when I left," I murmured, looking down at my shoes and not really caring about the words that bubbled out of my nervous mouth. "I'm sorry, Alek."

He let out a sigh and I looked up at him. "Don't think about me, Andy. You apologize way too much, you know that?" he said with a laugh, a real, deep laugh that made everything feel right, at least for a second.

I tried resisting the urge to smile, but failed; even though I still felt like crying. "God, I love you, Alek," I said without realizing it, and closed my mouth quickly, my eyes going wide.

Alek looked down at me, shocked, and then smiled. "You what?" he asked, grinning at me and taking a step closer to me.

I closed my mouth tighter and shook my head quickly, knowing he heard me the first time. This. Is. So. Embarassing.

"You know, if you're not going to talk, maybe I'll just have to make you," he said, grabbing my side and tickling me.

I let out a shriek, and covered my mouth. "You're so mean!" I complained, trying not to laugh as he tickled me even more. He had me practically down on the sidewalk now, and I gave in and started laughing. Since I'd known him and Kitty for so long, they unfortunately knew just how ticklish I was, and where.

"I win," he said proudly, sitting us down on the sidewalk with a goofy smile, an arm still wrapped around me.

I smacked his arm, laughing. "Jerk," I murmured, suddenly aware of just how close our faces were.

He went serious suddenly, and so did I as I watched his eyes move from my silver ones to my lips. He leaned in closely to me, eyes locked on mine once more. I got instant butterflies, and couldn't help but smile as he towered over me.

Surprising me, even though it really shouldn't have, he closed the distance between us, placing his soft lips against mine, and kissing me with so much passion. I wrapped my arms around his neck, tangling my fingers in his shaggy hair. He wrapped his arms around my waist and pulled me as close to him as he could without pulling me onto his lap.

He pulled back slightly, a silly smile playing on his face. My cheeks felt hot, and I knew without a doubt that I was probably blushing.

One other thing that I was beyond sure of?

That was the first time, since I was a child, that the voices were completely silent.

MY HEAD ACHED AS I walked in the front door to my house, hoping that my mother wasn't home. Normally, after I have a big attack like the one that I'd had the night before, she takes off work. I didn't really feel like coming home late, and having her freak out on me for that, too. That, and I was sure my face or lips gave away some tell-tale signs of what I'd just been doing moments before.

I bit my lip nervously as I thought about it again; I could still feel Alek's lips on mine if I thought about it, and I could still taste him. I groaned inwardly. Plus, it had only happened less than five minutes ago. After the kiss, Alek had insisted on driving me home, even though it was a ten minute walk.

"I don't care if it's a thirty second walk, Andy, you're getting in this car with me, so I don't have to feel guilty about letting you walk," was his response when I'd tried to decline his offer to drive me home.

The car ride back home was quiet, but comfortably so. He'd said goodbye, with the promise of a text message later after dinner, or sooner, even. I smiled at the thought of all that had transpired.

Letting out a sigh, I realized that my mother hadn't gotten home yet. My grandparents weren't home either; they normally stayed here with us.

I brushed my black hair out of my eyes and dropped my messenger bag full of school books on the kitchen floor, next to the refrigerator, listening to the satisfying thud it made against the hardwood floor.

The kitchen was rather small; it had enough room for a table that was big enough for six people to eat at, a fridge, microwave, stove, sink, blender, and cupboards. It was your average, ordinary kitchen, made for your average, ordinary family. Little did the average onlooker know, this family was beyond ordinary. And even that was an understatement.

Slipping my skate shoes off beside the table, I padded my way to the fridge in my colorful ankle socks. My mind was still stuck on the fact that I'd be leaving in a month, or maybe even two, and I'll be gone for a full year. Sixteen was too young to be in a psychiatric ward, but that was only my opinion on the matter. I refrained from shuddering at the thought that a year was the minimum, since they had to treat me for that long and then it was up to them to continue treatment if it's deemed necessary.

Sure, my mother loves me, but I can't shake the feeling that I scare her more often than not. Some of my attacks get crazy; I flip out and end it with a seizure, but those ones are actually quite rare. I've seen worse. I've actually had worse. This time I did shiver.

I pulled my attention back to the refrigerator, the cold air from it finally affecting me. I pulled out a bottle of cranberry grape juice and filled a tall, crystal glass with it, and then shoved the bottle back into the slot that I'd found it in.

I wasn't hungry, but the argument from earlier and the thoughts of leaving had left my mouth as dry as a desert plain. I didn't want to face my mother just yet, but I knew I had to.

Sitting down at the kitchen table, I patiently waited for my mother to get home from the diner; her shift would be over at 4:30 p.m. tonight. I got out my cell phone to check the time; it was already 4:15 p.m.

Blinking hard, I tried to think of where the last hour had gone. Had I zoned out for that long already? I couldn't help but question myself, thinking for sure that my mind was leaving me after sticking around this long. I wouldn't blame it.

I watched my mom's small, white Ford pick-up truck park outside of the house, and then my mother slowly got out. Even though she looked stressed, she was still prettier than ever, I thought. She was still dressed in her waitress uniform, which was a pair of black jeans, a black button up dress shirt, and a pair of comfortable shoes. Her hair was down, spilling down her back in soft, dark waves.

I shook my head as I continued to look at her; I couldn't believe that she had it in her to go through with sending me away for the second time. I watched as she came in through the front door, a slight smile on her face.

"How was your day?" she asked me in her light, breezy voice that signaled that her day was very pleasant. Hope filled me that maybe the inevitable conversation wouldn't be too awful bad after all.

I shrugged my shoulders. All I'd done was go to school and kiss my love. "I made Alek cry," I told her with a small smirk, knowing it would get me a reaction from her, something that I really needed. She was always so closed off to me lately, and I needed her. I needed my mom.

Like I thought, she froze right where she stood beside the table. "How? Why? I don't get it," she asked, the look of pure puzzlement on her face as she tried to think it through.

"I told him that you were sending me away, again," I stated simply, hoping that she would understand.

But now, all that she did was shrug her shoulders. "It's for your own good. It's only a year. He'll get used to it," she said flatly, no emotion in her voice at all.

To me, it sounded as if she was trying to convince herself that it was true. Her false calmness bugged me, as always. I could never stand it.

"I don't get it… how can you put up with losing your only daughter, your only child; for the second time, mom? I just don't understand!" I exclaimed, trying my hardest not to yell at her. I could feel my face prickling with my anger. I couldn't help but give in to my emotions.

How could she just willingly send me away for the second time? I watched my mother turn away from me, her face also red.

"I don't want to have this argument with you right now, Andromeda. Maybe you'll learn something there," she stated flatly, her shoulders stiff, her posture perfect in her waitress uniform.

My eyes went wide at what she'd said to me. I couldn't believe her; everything she said… I shook my head.

"How am I supposed to learn in a psychiatric ward, mom? Are you for real?" I demanded, raising my voice, slamming a hand down on the kitchen table.

My voice was sharper than I had originally intended, but I didn't care anymore. I'd lost all of my patience with her; I couldn't even begin to comprehend why she was doing this to me.

"Andromeda Ray Hodge, I never said anything to you about going back there. But right now, you're really making me reconsider my decision. At the beginning of the new school year in September, in four months, you're leaving for a reform school. I'm not putting up with your acting out any longer. It will help you," my mother pleaded with me, leaving no room for me to argue.

I was shocked; no psychiatric ward treatment. When had my mother looked into a reform school? I let out a sigh, finally.

"Where," was all I could think of asking, even though I didn't say it as a question. I'd given up. My throat felt tight.

A very minute smile spread across her face. "We're sending you to Boston, your grandparents and I. They have a nice one there, it doesn't cost me at all, and they said by the time you come back, you'll be a perfect angel," she stated simply, still smiling as if she had a juicy secret she was trying to keep hidden. If only I could pick her words apart better... wait, Boston?

Boston. Why so far away? Everything that she was telling me made less sense by the minute. What was so important, so spectacular, about the reform school in Boston? Why would it not charge my mother an enrollment fee or tuition even? Especially at this time of the year? Yet another thing that I didn't understand anymore.

"Why Boston? There's a perfectly fine school in the next town over! I haven't done anything bad enough to get sent to one anyway! I haven't done anything bad! All that –"

"She doesn't want you," a voice murmured. "She doesn't need you." "You're a burden." "Better off dead," the last voice hissed. Oh God. The mumbling voices. They were edging their way back into my mind, worse than ever before. And the worst part? There wasn't anything I could do to block them out.

"Mom?" I whispered suddenly, letting the panic show in my eyes and watching it mirror back to me in her wide, icy eyes.