Better Man

O.o.O.o.O.o.O

Sloan Loveney has had a tough life. She knew from a young age that she would never be her brother, Finn, and she accepted that, but it took her in a different path. She became friends with the outcasts of the school, and she started going down a path of addictions.

She met her first friends was a girl by the name Hanna, who dropped the last H on her name because it was too pure for her reputation. More commonly known as Hanna the Hussy, Sloan knew that being friends with her would give her that same reputation, but Sloan didn't care. She had a friend, and that's all that mattered.

Her friendship with Hanna the Hussy, led her to a group of kids who were the deviants of the community. There were the girls, Hanna of course, Dirty Shirley, nicknamed for her actions around the school, Jessica, who needed no nickname to prove her reputation, and last but not least Crystal, who's real name is Catherine, but everyone predicts that she'll be a stripper in her future, so why not give her a stripper name, which she gladly took and ran with.

The boys on the other hand were more deviant than the girls. Not just with their sexual reputations, but with their unlawful actions. Axel was the first boy who Sloan every liked. He was charming, which should have been a red flag, and he was hot. Two things that just drag women into his dangerous lifestyle, which Sloan realized too late. She was stuck under his rule for months, which felt like years, until Spike came around. Spike was a guy who had the same charm and attractiveness as Axel, but didn't have the control issues, at least, that's how he presented himself. He saved Sloan from Axel, but once they were together, it was like a tether that was always connecting them, to Sloan, he was her saving grace, but to the outside world, mainly her brother Finn, and his best friend Damion, they saw how toxic their relationship was, and weren't happy about it. To round out the guys in her friend group were Rex and Trojan. Rex was a huge dude who was into weightlifting and shooting heroin. He was intimidating, and he loved it. Trojan, nicknamed because he always had a pack of condoms in his pocket to have sex when his body called.

Her friend group was frowned upon by everyone, but they didn't care. They smoked, did drugs, got into trouble, and she felt important. And that's all that mattered to her.

But drugs, and bad relationships weren't the only part of Sloan's life that affected her. Half way through her freshman year, she developed and eating disorder, and it caused more trouble, and more issues for her, but her friend group was supportive, or at least, she thought they were, and that's what helped Sloan get through high school, and deal with her issues. Sloan wasn't 'happy' but she was getting by, and for her that was good enough.

O.o.O.o.O.o.O

It's been 10 years since Sloan graduated high school, but just because you leave, doesn't mean you leave the people and the relationships. Spike and Sloan have been on and off again since high school, getting into trouble, and getting into dangerous situations.

Her brother Finn didn't approve of her relationship with Spike, but he gave up trying to get her to see how toxic their relationship was because she never listened. When she would be depressed because they broke up, or get herself into terrible situations, Finn kinda gave her the cold shoulder. He has told her time and time again that Spike was no good, but she refused to listen, but Damion couldn't let this one go.

Sloan had gotten so high, and Spike and her got into an argument, where Spike used physical means to restrain her. He left bruises, and scratches, and that was Damion's final straw. He needed her to see who Spike truly was, and if that meant getting into an argument with her instead, so be it.

"Jesus Christ Sloan, you deserve more than him!" Damion yelled, finally letting his guard down.

"You don't know Spike. He loves me." Sloan countered.

"He doesn't love you." Damion said. "He loves making you feel worthless. He loves belittling you. He loves the power he has over you."

"I'm not some little girl anymore Damion. I know what I'm doing." Sloan said.

"You have no idea what kind of sick and twisted relationship you're in Sloan." Damion said. "You've been going back and forth with Spike since high school, and he's literally suffocating you."

"You don't know anything Damion." Sloan said, on the verge of tears. "High School was a nightmare for me. Spike was the only thing keeping me together."

"I know high school was hell for you Sloan. I know you suffered from an eating disorder. I know you had a problem with drugs. I know you got into an abusive relationship with Axel that Spike saved you from." Damion said and Sloan was shocked. "I know all of this because I have always been here, but you've never noticed."

"Damion." Sloan said slowly.

"I'm tired of watching you ruin your life Sloan." Damion cut her off. "I'm tired of seeing you settle for less than you deserve. And maybe I'm not the right man for you. But at least get a better man than Spike." He finished before leaving Sloan completely dumbfounded. Sloan had no idea that Damion ever felt that way about her, but she didn't take the time to notice in high school, and now that would forever haunt her.

O.o.O.o.O.o.O

What Damion said to Sloan was stuck in her head for weeks. She couldn't seem to forget every single thing Damion said, especially about him always being there, and her not noticing. Was she really that blind? Evidently. But in order for her to move on from that conversation, there was only one thing to do, and that was to ask Spike the burning question, and Sloan tried to prepare herself as much as she possibly could, but Spike was a wild card, and this could go any way.

"Spike, what do you love about me?" Sloan asked Spike.

"What kind of stupid question is that?" Spike asked, disregarding the question.

"A question I would like for you to answer." Sloan said.

"Come on babe. Don't get all mushy on me." Spike laughed.

"Please. Just one thing." Sloan continued.

"Fine." Spike said, annoyed. "The sex. The sex is always amazing, especially when we're both high." He smiles as he thought about it, and Sloan just sat there, she thought a part of her would be crushed that he only cared about the physical part of their relationship, but after the fight with Damion, it's what she expected, and she was mortified that she allowed it to continue for so long.

"That's it?" Sloan asked.

"What more do you want from me?" Spike asked, and Sloan took that as her last straw.

"I want absolutely nothing more from you." Sloan said. "Ever again." She said as she got up.

"You're fucking with me, right?" Spike asked as she grabbed her coat.

"No." She simply said.

"You'll come back." Spike said. "You always do." And Sloan stopped at the door.

"I'm gone for good Spike. I will never give you the time of day again." Sloan said calmly.

"Whatever you stupid ass bitch." Spike hissed and with that Sloan walked out, and left Spike permanently in her past.

O.o.O.o.O.o.O

Sloan thought the best decision was to stay with her parents for a few weeks. Get herself back on her feet, and start a fresh life. A life without Spike, and without drugs.

That's right, Sloan was going to quit. She didn't need them in her life, and frankly, she didn't want them in her life anymore either. The drugs were going to be left permanently in her past with Spike, and she was ready for a new start.

Little did Sloan know just how hard it was going to be to stop using. She locked herself away in her room for weeks trying to fight off the urge of her addiction, but it became too much, and she needed a fix, and she needed it fast. She still had the dealer that Spike used, and figured it was worth a shot. He told her to meet up at their regular spot, and Sloan practically ran out of the house to get it. Twenty minutes later, she was home, with a needle, and a fresh batch of heroin, and as she plunged the needle into her arm and felt the heroin in her body, she never felt more at home.

O.o.O.o.O.o.O

"Finn, I'm worried about your sister. She barely comes out of her room." His mother said over the phone. "Your father and I aren't currently in the state, could you go check on her?" She asked.

"Of course mom." Finn said as he changed his plans and went to his childhood home. He grabbed the key under the mat, and made his way up to Sloan's old room. He tried the door, but it was locked so he knocked. "Sloan, are you okay?" He asked. "Mom is worried about you, and frankly so am I." He said, but there was still no answer. "Come on Sloan, open the damn door." Finn yelled, getting irritated by the lack of response. "Fine, you give me no choice." He said. He backed up, and rammed into the door a couple times before it finally broke, but what he saw, he wasn't prepared for. "Sloan!" He yelled, as he ran over to his sister. Needle still in arm, and foam coming out of her mouth. He grabbed his phone and dialed 911.

"911, what's your emergency?" the operated asked.

"My sister, she OD'd." Finn rushed out.

"Okay, I'm sending an ambulance to you." The operator said. "Is your sister and addict?"

"Yea. She's been addicted to all sorts of drugs since she was in high school." Finn said.

"Do you know what she currently overdosed on?" She asked.

"Heroin." He said, as he looked at his pale sister.

"Okay, the ambulance should be there in a moment." She said, and that's when Finn heard the sirens.

Everything went by in a blur. Sloan was hauled into the ambulance, and Finn went with her. Before he knew it they were at the hospital, and he was left in the waiting room. He didn't know what else to do so he called Damion. He asked him to meet him at the hospital, and in record time he was there. The two of them at in the waiting room waiting for news on Sloan, Finn hoping her got there in time.

"Sloan Loveney?" The nurse asked.

"Yes?" Finn asked.

"You got to her just in time." She said and Finn let out a sigh of relief. "She's stable right now, but if she isn't properly treated for her addiction, she could be dead the next time she shoots up."

"Thank you." Finn said.

"She's in room 234." The nurse said, and the men nodded. They made their way to the room, and when they walked in, Sloan was in the bed, tubes in her mouth, and IV's in her arms. The sight was frightening, and Finn didn't care what he had to do, Sloan was getting help, whether she wanted it or not.

O.o.O.o.O.o.O

When Sloan woke up, she knew something had to change. This wasn't the life she wanted anymore, and she was ashamed it took nearly dying to finally realize that. She got an earful from Finn and her parents, and she took it, because she knew she scared them to death. It was the last thing she wanted to do, and it was a wake up call for sure.

Which is why, two weeks after OD'ing, Sloan enrolled in a rehab facility in Hawaii, and she was leaving today. It was definitely going to be a shock, but she needed professional help. So as she was at the airport, saying goodbye to her family, it really hit her how serious this was for them.

"I know you can't call, but if you get the privilege to write or something, please write to us." Sloan's mom said as she hugged her.

"I will. I promise mom." Sloan reassured her for the millionth time.

"And don't try to cop out." Finn said. "You're there for a year, don't use good behavior or whatever to get out early. You need the full year."

"I know. I promise. I'll stick it out. Even when I'm going through withdrawal." Sloan reassured him, and he nodded and pulled her into a hug.

"We're going to miss you kiddo." Sloan's dad said, and she smiled.

"I'm going to miss you too dad." Sloan said.

"Flight 350 to Hawaii, now boarding." The announcer said.

"That's me." Sloan said.

"We love you." Her mom said.

"I love you all too." She said, and with that, she boarded the plane, and prepared herself for the next year of her life. She wasn't nearly ready, but she was going to embrace it, every single part of it.

O.o.O.o.O.o.O

A year in rehab felt like an eternity to Sloan, but she's never felt better in her entire life, and going home was one of the few things that actually got her through her treatment, and her cleanse. She couldn't wait to see everyone again, and just be normal for the first time in her life.

Finn and Damion were meeting her at the airport, and she had to admit, she was nervous to see Damion again. After he admitted to basically liking her, she couldn't seem to her him out of her head. She wanted to be a better person for herself, and her family, but she also wanted to be a person who Damion could actually be with. So when she looked for her brother, she found him immediately, but they weren't alone, there were two women with them, and her heard sunk.

"I can't tell you how amazing it is to see you Sloan." Finn said as he scooped her into a hug.

"It's so good to see you too." Sloan said to her brother.

"You look good." Finn said.

"I look like a woman not addicted to drugs." Sloan said and he laughed.

"And it suits you." Finn said. "Stay this way."

"I promise." Sloan said. "I never want to be that person ever again."

"I want to introduce you to someone." Finn said. "This is Megan, my girlfriend." He said.

"I've heard a lot about you." Megan said.

"I wish I could say the same, but no contact." Sloan said and she nodded.

"Well, it's nice to finally meet you." Megan said and Sloan nodded.

"And this is Kate." Damion said, for the first time. "My fiancé." He said and everything in her dropped.

"Fiancé?" Sloan stuttered.

"Yea." The woman, Kate, said enthusiastically. "We're getting married in 5 months." She beamed as she showed off her ring.

"Congratulations." Sloan said, because it was the only thing her brain could form.

"Thank you." She said brightly.

"Now, why don't we go and get something to eat for your return." Finn said as he slung his arm around his sister.

"Sounds great." Sloan said as she tried to act like the latest news wasn't crippling. She'd only been gone for a year, yet she missed so much, and there was no chance of going back.

O.o.O.o.O.o.O

"We just got you back though sweetie." Sloan's mom said as they sat at the kitchen table.

"I know, and I love being with you guys, but I feel like this place is just littered with my past. A past I want to lay to rest." Sloan explained. "I need a new start."

"But all the way in Hawaii?" Her dad asked.

"I loved it out there." Sloan smiled. "And I called the rehab center to see if I could volunteer as a mentor there, and they were thrilled." She explained. "I can get a job, and mentor people like me, and really make a difference." She said. "I think it's what I need."

"And we can't possibly make you stay?" Her mom asked.

"I need this mom, and I want this. I finally have a purpose in life, and I want to see where it leads me." Sloan said.

"But call, and write, and email, and visit once in awhile." Her mom said, and Sloan laughed.

"Or you could visit me." Sloan suggested.

"I like that idea better." Her dad said, and they all laughed.

"Well, now I have to go break the news to Finn." Sloan said.

"He'll be happy for you." Her mom said, and Sloan nodded, hoping she was right.

She got to the restaurant that they agreed to meet at, and the minute she saw his smile, she thought about not telling him until she was in Hawaii, but she decided against it, because he deserved to know.

"So, what do you have to tell me?" Finn asked when they were situated.

"I'm moving." She said slowly.

"Oh, where too?" He asked.

"Hawaii." She said, and his eyes widened.

"Why?" He asked, a little shocked.

"A fresh start." She said. "I got a mentoring position at the rehab facility I went too, and I just need a new environment. This place is riddled with my past, and I don't want to be reminded of it."

"If Spike is giving you shit, I'll take care of it." Finn said.

"I haven't heard from Spike since I dumped him." Sloan reassured him. "I need this Finn."

"But Hawaii is so far away." Finn whined.

"But not inaccessible." Sloan said. "You can visit, and we can talk on the phone, and FaceTime."

"I just got you back, for real. I don't want to lose you again." He said.

"And you won't. I'm here for good, just in a different state." Sloan said.

"Across the country." Finn pointed out.

"True, but I'm doing this Finn." Sloan said.

"I support you." He finally said. "But I'm gonna miss the hell out of you."

"I'm gonna miss you too. More than you know." Sloan said and they hugged it out. This was going to be tough, but Sloan knew she could do it, and she was ready to be more than just an addiction.

O.o.O.o.O.o.O

Five years. It's been five years since she's been home, but her brother was getting married, and she wouldn't miss it for the world. Of course her family had come to visit her, but actually being back in her hometown was strange, especially because she wasn't used to having seasons anymore, and it was Fall, so it was slightly chillier than she was used too.

She's been in for about a week, and wedding festivities were sucking her dry, but she would do anything for Finn, except being the wedding. When his fiancé asked if she wanted to be, she politely declined, happy to just be a guest on his big day. So as the time approached, Sloan knew the inevitable was going to happen.

Sloan knew it was inevitable running into Damion. She knew the moment Finn got engaged that he would be the best man, and their reunion would happen. But that didn't mean Sloan was prepared for it.

The wedding was amazing, and Finn never looked more in love with Kelsey than when they said 'I do', and Sloan was incredibly happy for him. And when the reception started, everyone took their seats, and laughed and enjoyed the speeches and dances. Sloan wanted to be as joyous as this atmosphere, but something in her wouldn't let her. Sloan was pulled out of her mind when Finn stood in front of her.

"May I have this dance?" He asked, and Sloan couldn't help but smile.

"Of course." Sloan said as she took his hand. They made their way out into the dance floor, and started swaying to the music.

"I'm glad you're here Sloan." Finn said to her.

"I wouldn't miss your wedding for the world." Sloan told him honestly. "Although the fact that you're married is so weird." She laughed.

"It is strange, but when you know you know." Finn smiled.

"I wouldn't know." Sloan said sadly.

"I think you knew." Finn said. "And you ran."

"That was different Finn." Sloan said. "I wasn't sure of anything, just that I wanted to see if there was something. And it was too late."

"I always knew Damion had a soft spot for you." Finn explained. "At first I thought it was because we are best friends and you're my little sister, but than I started noticing. He was always looking at you, or getting angry at Spike, or worried about your health." He continued. "Damion has always been in love with you."

"He married someone else Finn." Sloan said, a little angrily. "If Damion really loved me, he wouldn't have done that."

"Damion moved on." Finn said. "And moving on doesn't always mean forgetting your first or true love."

"It doesn't matter anyway." Sloan said with a shake of her head.

"It does matter." Finn said. "Damion got divorced almost 3 years ago." He said and Sloan's jaw dropped.

"But Kate and him seemed happy." Sloan said as she tried to process the news.

"They were." Finn said. "Until Kate cheated on him."

"That bitch." Sloan said, but Finn laughed.

"With a girl named Ashley." Finn continued.

"Wait, I'm confused." Sloan admitted. "Kate's a lesbian?"

"Yea. And she has been trying to deny it her entire life, but she just couldn't anymore." Finn said.

"How did Damion take the news?" Sloan asked.

"He was devastated. He loved Kate, and for her to only love him like a friend or brother was hard. But he knew she needed to be herself, and that their marriage wasn't healthy for her." Finn said. "He pretty much just focuses on his career now. Hasn't dated since."

"Why didn't you tell me this?" Sloan asked.

"Because this is between you and Damion. I gave you the information. Now it's your job to do something with it." Finn finished, and so did the song. He kissed her forehead and Finn made his way over to Kelsey. Sloan's head was spinning. She needed air.

She walked out into the patio of the venue and let the breeze hit her. She could fairly hear the music in the background, but her mind couldn't stop spinning. Everything was different now, and she didn't exactly know what to do with all that information.

"You've been avoiding me." She heard from behind her, and when she turned around, there stood Damion, looking better than ever.

"I have." Sloan admitted before closing the distance between them slightly. "Finn told me." She said after a moment. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be." Damion waved her off. "Things happen. And Kate's happy, and that's all I wanted for her."

"But still. You got married. Expecting forever with her." Sloan said.

"Yea, But forever is never guaranteed." Damion said. "Don't get me wrong, I never wanted to get divorced. I watched my parents go through it, and I never wanted that to be me, but life has other planes sometimes."

"You think she'd have the decency to tell you." Sloan said.

"You barely knew Kate. Leaving shortly after getting out of rehab." Damion said. "She is one of the most amazing people I've had the privilege to meet. And I will always be here for her. I walked her down the aisle at her wedding, she calls me when her and Ashley get into huge fights, and when they decided to have kids I was the first call." Damion explained. "What she did, probably wasn't the smartest, or the nicest thing to do to someone, but she's a decent person. Don't ever say she isn't decent." He finished, and Sloan was shocked.

"I'm sorry." She finally said. "I guess I'm just upset that she would do something like that to you."

"People do what they think is right in order to survive. Kate thought marrying me was how she got to keep her family, but she realized that she wasn't happy, and her happiness needs to be first in her life, and she has that now." Damion said. "I can't possibly be mad at her for choosing her happiness over our marriage."

Sloan didn't know what to say after that, so she just didn't say anything.

"How's Hawaii treating you?" Damion asked after a couple moments of silence.

"It's amazing." Sloan admitted. "I love my job, I love the people I work with, I've taken up surfing as therapy." She laughed. "Packing up and moving there has been incredibly good for my heath, my happiness, my career. I couldn't be happier."

"I'm really glad you turned your life around Sloan." Damion said honestly.

"I wouldn't have had the courage without you yelling at me." She admitted.

"I never wanted it to get that far, but you needed a kick in the ass." He laughed.

"I know, and I'm thankful you did." Sloan said.

"So, any lucky guys out there in Hawaii?" He asked.

"Nope." Sloan said. "Couple dates here and there, but I wanted to focus on myself. For once I wanted to be first."

"And you deserve it." Damion added.

"I never would have thought that without you." Sloan said.

"You went through the process to better yourself. I can't take any of that credit." Damion said.

"You know, they made us make a list when we first got to rehab." Sloan said. "They had us list the top five reasons why we were there. They were pretty basic answer, myself, my family, my future, my health, but you were the last one on my list."

"Me?" Damion asked, a little shocked.

"You once told me to find a better man than Spike." Sloan said. "Which isn't hard. He's scum." She said and Damion laughed. "And all I could think about was, 'wow, if Damion can see me at my absolute worst, and still think I'm worth it, what man could be better than him?' and I wanted to become a person who deserved you."

"Sloan." Damion said.

"Let me finish, please." Sloan asked and Damion nodded. "I didn't deserve you back than." She said. "I didn't deserve a lot of things, and I think that's why I gravitated towards Spike, and that group of kids in high school. I thought they were the only people who could make me feel less like a burden, and like I belonged." She explained. "And you're right, I never gave you the time of day because you were always way too good for me. Smart, handsome, athletic, just everything that I never was, and could never be. So in my mind, we didn't belong together." She said. "But I think I'm worth it now. I think I deserve you." She said as she looked at Damion. "And if you don't feel the same way, that's cool, but I just – I think I'm enough on my own to want to be enough for someone else." She finished, and Damion was shocked.

"Sloan." Damion finally said as he moved closer to her. He cupped her cheek and smiled at her. "You've always been enough." He said. "And you've always been worth it." He continued. "You are smart, beautiful, funny, and everything I've always known you could be." He said and Sloan couldn't help but smile. It was quiet for a moment before Damion leaned in and pressed his lips to hers, and even that couldn't stop her from smiling. It might have been a long time coming, but they were here, and nothing else matter.

O.o.O.o.O.o.O

Moving home was an easy decision for Sloan. Hawaii had been her home for 5 years, but she missed her family, and she had Damion now, and she knew she could be happy again in her hometown, and she wanted that.

So 3 years later, and everything was just as amazing as they were the night Damion and her finally got together. They got married a month later, and have been happy every since. They had a little girl, Amber, who was the light of her life, and she made her realize how truly lucky she was to still be around, and she would never take that for granted again.

It was a normal Wednesday, and they were out to lunch with her family. Nobody knows how the tradition started, but every Wednesday they got together to have lunch, and nobody ever questioned it. Everything was amazing until Sloan's phone started ringing.

"Hello?" She answered.

"Is this Sloan Loveney?" The caller asked.

"It's actually Sloan Hastings now, but yes." Sloan asked.

"You're listed as the emergency contact for a Shelton Kingston." He said and Sloan's eyes widened.

"Uh, I guess. I haven't seen him in years though." Sloan said.

"Well, you're the only number here, and we need you to come identify the body." He said, rather crassly.

"He's dead?" Sloan asked.

"Drug overdose." He simply said.

"Uh, sure. I'll be there in 15 minutes." Sloan said before hanging up.

"Who was that?" Damion asked.

"The morgue." Sloan said. "Apparently I was still listed as Spike's emergency contact. He's dead. I need to identify the body."

"Doesn't he have a family for that?" Damion asked, still not over how horribly he treated Sloan.

"No. His parents kicked him out when he was 16, and he was bouncing from couch to couch at friends houses." Sloan said. "I was the only stable person in his life, and that's saying something considering we weren't stable at all."

"Are you going to go?" Finn asked.

"I just need to say it's him and leave. I feel like I have too." Sloan admitted.

"You don't have to do anything." Damion said. "Especially for that piece of shi-" He said as Sloan covered their daughters ears.

"Language." Sloan said.

"I'm just saying. Who is really going to miss him, and notice his body wasn't identified?" Damion said.

"You're a better man than that Damion Hastings." Sloan said to her husband.

"So you're going?" He asked.

"I'm going." She said as she grabbed her coat. "And so are you."

"What? Why do I have to go?" Damion said.

"Because you can finally put this anger to rest." Sloan said.

"But what about Amber?" He asked.

"Do you wanna go spend the rest of the day with Uncle Finn baby?" Sloan asked her daughter, and she clapped and giggled. "That's what I thought."

"She's not even 2 yet, she has no idea what you asked." Damion said as Sloan threw his coat at him.

"Get over yourself Damion. We're going." Sloan said and Damion gave Amber a kiss goodbye before running after his wife. He slipped his hand into hers and she smiled at him. "You're a better man than this Damion." She reminded him.

"I know." Damion said. "I'm a better man." He repeated.

"Exactly." Sloan said.

"It isn't hard when comparing me to Spike though." Damion said and Sloan laughed as she wacked his arm. "I'm just saying." He added, which made her laugh, just like he always did.

A better man, Damion was indeed.

End.