"If I ever see their faces again I'll beat the living shit out of them!" Marco 's brown eyes are wide, livid.

"I'll-I'll fucking kill them!" He growls, taking a step forward and staring at the spot Oskar disappeared.

I counted twenty seconds before I could stand to get up. Shaking, I stand and take a deep breath.

"Marco." I say hoarsely, watching his fists clench and unclench. He ignores me, continuing to look off into the distance.

"Marco." I say louder, with more solidity. I reach out and touch his arm, flinching when he moves. He starts pacing, running his fingers through his hair.

"Oh my god," He moans, pulling at his hair.

"They- they were-," He passed me, expression pained.

"You almost-," He stopped, whirling towards me. He took my arm with gentle hands, searching for injuries. I gasped when he touched a tender spot, yanking my arm away.

"Are you okay?" He demanded, tenderly touching my face and searching my eyes.

"No, stupid question," He backtracked, "Are you hurt?"

I pull my face away, overwhelmed.

"I-," My voice cracks.

I close my eyes.

He doesn't speak, waiting.

My shallow breaths are too fast, matching the drumming of my heart. I focus on slowing them, taking deep, even breaths. I focus on the motion.

In, out.

In, out.

When finally I was calm, I focused instead of taking inventory. Slowly I rolled my neck, and then my shoulders, wincing when I moved too fast. My cheek smarted, and when I reached up to touch it, my fingers came back bloody. Besides being a little sore, I was alright. I was fine.

I let out a breath I hadn't realized I'd been holding. I gave a breathless chuckle.

I was fine.

I open my eyes, unable to stop the laughter that bubbled out of me more forcefully.

I was fine.

Suddenly this whole situation seemed hilarious and I laughed harder, unable to stop the spasms.

Soon I was kneeling, lungs burning and tears streaming down my burning cheeks as I cackled into the open air. I don't know how long I sat there, laughing, before a light hand landed on my back. I jerked away mid laugh, letting out a strangled gasp before realizing what a stupid reaction it was to a simple gesture.

The silence makes me uneasy as I avoided looking at Marco, cheeks hot. Quickly, I wipe the tears off my face and rub my nose with my left sleeve (the non-ripped one). My heart pounded in my chest, not racing like before, but reluctantly now. I felt drained, emotionally numb and tired. The wind blew my hair back as I stood and dusted myself off. My fingers patted down the thin fabric of my favorite dress, pausing when they found a big rip at the bottom. I studied my black dress closer now, swallowing the lump that unexpectedly rose in my throat at the sight of the frayed hole near the bottom of my thighs. I reach up to touch the ripped sleeve near my shoulder, remembering when I had sewn the striped sleeves on the dress a few years ago. I drop my hand. There's no way to fix my dress.

Aware that I was being petty and materialistic, I shove the state of my dress to the back of my mind and wrap my arms around my chilled body. It was just a dress.

Finally, I allow my eyes to skirt in Marco's direction, noting the now guarded pain in his chocolate eyes. Why does he even care? I swallow the lump that once again rose in my throat, aware that he was still waiting for an answer. The gratitude I felt towards him was overflowing...but why would he save me when it meant danger for him? I have a flashback to the anger in his eyes upon finding me.

Before I could think too deeply into all of this, I shove the thoughts away.

Come on, I tell myself, this is Marco we're talking about. I put my hands in the front pockets of my dress, deciding that I wasn't going to answer his question after all.

I cough, awkwardly looking away when I found that Marco's eyes were still on me.

"I guess I better get home now." My voice was hoarse, like I had just smoked a pack of cigarettes. I clear my throat.

I can feel the embarrassment creep into my face as the silence stretched on.

"Um.." I wanted to thank him, but the words got caught in my throat. I ended up swallowing them and turning towards the sidewalk in silence.

My left leg burned and throbbed as I walked, my knee painfully supporting my the rest of my body. I forced myself not to limp even though each jarring step prickled painfully, hoping to preserve what little dignity I had left.

I had just reached the sidewalk when Marco jogged over.

"Where do you think you're going?" He demanded.

I prickle a little at the traces of possessiveness in his voice, annoyance creeping back into my system.

"I already told you." I noted with a little pride that my voice was firm behind the smoker filter.

"I'm going home."

He coughed out a short, humorless laugh, stepping in front of me.

"Not a chance," he latched on to my wrist, "I'm taking you to a hospital."

I gasped, trying to yank my arm away. I couldn't. His hands felt gentle on my skin, but trying to get away was like trying to cut steel with your finger. You just couldn't.

"I'm not going to a hospital," I hiss, letting my usual anger towards him slide into place. I tug on my new restrains. "Let me go."

"No," he said stubbornly, "you need medical attention."
He starts pulling me in the opposite direction, back towards the city. I yank right back, digging my feet into the ground. I hear him give an agitated sigh before whirling towards me.
"Fine, then you have to go to my house so I can patch you up."
I glare at him, tugging once again against the grip on my wrist.
"I don't have to go anywhere." My voice came out cold and stiff.

"It's either one or the other."

"I'm fine," I insisted. Marco gave me the 'are-you-kidding-me' look, tightening his hold on my wrist.

A gust of stinging wind blew through the street. Goosebumps rose painfully on my arms, cold seeping through my body. I was definitely not letting myself be dragged off to a hospital to wait for hours in a cold waiting room just to be told I was fine. Plus the walk was too long, and there's always that one receptionist who's a little too curious.

I definitely didn't want to answer any questions from a too-curious receptionist in a cold waiting room.

So that left throwing enough of a fit that Marco'd leave me alone, or admitting defeat and walking with him to his house.

Another long shiver goes up my spine, the wind snapping fiercely at my exposed skin.

Working up a fit would take an awfully long time..

I roll my eyes at the wind, annoyed that it was forcing my hand in decision making before sighing in defeat.

"Fine," I conclude frothily, rubbing my side with my one free hand. Marco let out a small laugh, chocolate eyes catching the light.

"That wasn't so hard, was it?" He teased me, gently tugging my arm in the direction he was originally walking. This time I follow compliantly, walking besides him. The rhythmic thuds our feet made against the concrete filled the silence.

I continued to shiver as I walked, grateful for the motion warming my stinging muscles. A few steps later, a more violent shiver crawled down my spine.

Marco suddenly stopped, letting go of my wrist with a guarded expression and started unzipping his hoodie.

"Wha-" I began, already missing his warm hand. He interrupts me, hoodie now draped across one arm and holding up his hands cautiously, as if I were a crazed animal.

"Now, listen here. You are not allowed to yell or take this off once I put it on you. This isn't barbed wire I'm wrapping around your shoulders, its a jacket. Not a big deal. I don't want you coming down with pneumonia and that being on my conscious the rest of the week. Okay? Jacket, not a bomb vest."

Bewildered, I look at Marco in surprise, watching as he slowly approached me and set the warm jacket on my shoulders. Immediately I felt better, the chill chased away by the soft, worn cotton. It smelled faintly of nachos and leather, a combination that I was surprised to find that I liked. It smelled like home, worn and lovable in a strange imperfect way.

Marco was still standing a few feet away, obviously waiting me to peel the hoodie off and throw it or something. Internally I scoff, putting my arms through the big sleeves and wrapping the jacket more firmly around me. I'm not that unreasonable.

Immediately the chill is fully chased away, the leather and nacho aroma soothing.

Much better

"Thank you," I tell him coolly, trying to ignore how warm my cheeks felt.

He nods just as calmly, expression unreadable as he starts walking again, hands in his jean pockets. I start walking too, the jacket hitting mid-thigh as I walked. I tried not to breathe in the jacket aroma too noticeably, but boy, did it smell good. We walked the rest of the way in silence, listening to the trees shake in the wind and the leaves scrape against the ground.

"They're around here somewhere.."

I was standing in the middle of Marco's kitchen, the chair Marco had told me to sit in a few feet away. Even from here, I could hear Marco's noisy search through his house for the first aid kit.

A loud crash comes from the other room, and Marco cursed.

I bite back a smile, fidgeting with sleeves of his jacket. I know I should probably take it off.. but it's comforting. I feel...safer with it on.

Immediately I frown, not liking the feel of that sentence. This is still Marco; arrogant, womanizer, and a total jerk to me and everyone he's ever known. I pull the jacket off with reluctant hands, placing the hoodie on the wood table in the center of the kitchen.

Another crash comes from the other room, followed by what suspiciously sounds like a kick against something hard.

"Son of a-"

I stifle another smile, my grin barley contained when Marco stalks into the kitchen a second later. He sets the kit on the table.

"Took you long enough." The edge I had been trying to ease into the sentence failed, and my voice came out teasing.

"Yeah, yeah," he mumbles, unlatching the plastic kit and opening it.

I watch him as he pulled out bandages and tubes full of clear gel and place them on the table, the light coming from the window behind me falling on his face. I studied his expression for a while as he worked, noting the graceful slope of his eyebrows and the (this time not intentionally) messy state of his hair. Pieces of hair flopped out in every direction, and in some parts, pieces were standing on end. He looked ridiculous.

...and just a little adorable, I had to tack on to the end of that thought. It was true anyway, this version of him was much better than the usual.

Ha, well it was a good thing he usually wasn't like this. I'd have a harder time keeping my priorities straight if this was him all the time. He's almost acting like an... an actual person.

The kitchen was silent and warm, the air between Marco and I comfortable even though my last thought made my stomach uneasy. I adverted my eyes when the feeling grew, falling to his clothes. It's funny, I've never seen him in anything but a hoodie and jeans.

He had on a snug, grey t-shirt and dark jeans, and unfortunately, he pulled off the look fantastically. It wasn't at all fair.

I huff, looking away before I got caught staring. I guess he had found what he had been looking for, because he looks up a second later, grabbing a roll of gaze and one of the clear tubes from earlier. I eye the supplies wearily as he approaches.

"Do you know what you're doing?" My voice cracked intentionally at the end. I flushed.

Marco smirks, chuckling. "Relax, I know enough."

He had walked really close to me by now, close enough that I could smell him and had to look up to see his face. My face goes red as I take a step back, the sink countertop to my back.

"Wha-" I was about to ask why the hell he was so close, but he was quicker, hands darting to my waist and setting me on the countertop in one fluid motion.

"What the-" I started to hiss, trying to get off the countertop.

"Hey, hey stop!" He blocked me with his hands, pushing me back. "It's easier to clean wounds with water. Jeeze Star, chill."

I hate how much I like the sound of my name on his lips.

I crossed my arms but stayed.

Marco turned on the faucet next to me and pulled out a clean wash cloth. He doused the cloth in the stream of water and carefully took my arm.

Quietly, he pulled up my sleeve. Red flashes before my eyes, the absence of my sleeve exposing bloody scrapes and smears all over my arm. My skin looked pale and lifeless next to the bright red.

Without my consent, my heart beat quickens as he gently dabs at the skin around the scrape, cleaning away excess blood. His motions were careful and deliberate, brown eyes tight, like he knew what he was doing.

Soon he was rinsing the scrapes under a cold stream of water and sticking bandages on them, smearing the cold gel from earlier on my raw skin.

I stare across the room as he worked, eyes drawn to a small plant in a colorful pot sitting in the window. Sunlight spilled across the green stem, leaves stretched towards the pane of glass. The green is vibrant, colorful. It makes my stomach churn as I connect it to someone else entirely.

Marco moved to my other side in silence, checking my other arm before rising the cloth in the sink. I wanted to speak, to fill this strange silence. I look down, swallowing thickly before a warm hand brushed under my chin and lifted my head to meet Marco's eyes. His chocolate eyes were relaxed as he raised the cold wash cloth to clean my injured cheek. It stung when the cloth fibers brushed against the raw skin, but I knew he was trying to be gentle.

"Why are you being like this?" I suddenly blurt out, cringing when he looked at me peculiarly.

"I mean," I backtracked, "normally you're..."

"Hitting on you?" He finished, holding back a smile.

I nod, cheeks hot.

"Well," he sighed, lowering the cloth and leaning closer enough I could smell the peppermint on his breath, "I could just as easily start again, if you'd like."

"No, no, no," I shake my head and push him away, glaring at him when he laughed.

"I like this you better," I said without thinking. Marco raised his eyebrows, and I flushed.

"Not that I like you at all.. I mean... I like you... wait, I mean I like you but only a little," I stammered, unlike myself.

Marco chuckled at my antics, patting my head. "It's okay blondie, I get it."

He kept his hand on my hair and slid down the side of my face, cupping the uninjured cheek gently.

"We're mortal enemies," he whispered, smiling a little. Speechless, I gazed at him in silence as he slowly moved his head closer to mine. I felt paralyzed as he continued to ease closer, heart beating in full gear as my body reacted to the electricity between us. Our noses, bumped, and our lips were only inches apart when a sudden sound came from the other room.

"Helloo? I'm hoooome!"

We wrenched our faces apart, mine burning. Horrified, I run my fingers through my hair as Marco retreated from the room.

"Mom," he complained from the other room.

What was I doing? My heart beat painfully in my chest, my body growing cold.

Was I really about to..

Marco returned, making me jump and successfully jolting me from my thoughts. I jumped from the counter, brushing myself off nervously and desperately looking around the room.

"I uh- um I got to go now."

I spotted my backpack on the table next to Marco's hoodie and made a grab for it.

My heart was beating wildly as I tried to put my backpack on unsuccessfully, fingers fumbling with the straps. A large hand reached from behind me and righted the straps. I looked behind me at Marco. He was frowning.

"At least let me walk you home-"

Before he could finish his sentence I was shaking my head, unable to imagine myself able to spend another minute with him without loosing my sanity.

"No, no that's fine." I began to walk out of the kitchen.

He grabbed my hand, lightly tugging me back. His grip was firm, warm against my chilled skin. But suddenly I didn't feel Marco's gentle touch, instead I felt Oskar's angry hands around my wrist, tugging me back. Panic made me lash out, jerking my arm away painfully as I cried out. I skirted a few feet away from Marco, breathing heavily. Tears pricked my eyes as green flashed before my eyes, ghost touches trailing up my side.

"Just- just stay there."

I was trembling, fear dripping thorough my system. Marco looked shocked, still frozen in the position he was in when he had took my hand.

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. When I opened them, I was able to think clearly.

"Look-" my voice still shook when I spoke, so I started again.

"I appreciate what you're trying to do; some might even call it sweet, but you're wasting your time on the wrong girl. Just-just leave me alone, okay?"

The stutter at the end ruined the effect I was going for, making me sound weak. I lifted my chin, hoping I looked a lot stronger than I felt.

I let a few tense seconds pass before I left the room, trying not to cry. On my way out, I passed a soft, middle aged woman who looked at me in surprise as I passed. I fled out the front door as quickly as I could, feeling like the coward I was.

My room was quiet, the dark surrounding me like a blanket. I sat in the middle of my bed, cocooning myself in the many soft blankets around me. I was safe, I should feel safe.

I stare blankly in front of me, not really seeing anything. If I was completely honest with myself, my mind was still reeling from the events that started after school.

I tried not to think about it, pushing everything away.

My eyes focused on a yellow bundle at the foot of my bed, and I grabbed hold of the soft fabric. It was my backpack, worn and stuffed with school binders. I run my fingers over the yellow star I had lovingly stitched onto the pack last year before I unzipped it. Maybe algebra would distract me enough. But when I pulled open my backpack, I hesitated instead over my sketchbook, pulling my stiff book from the lumpy, yellow sac.

I switched on my bedside lamp, the light illuminating the room enough to see. I pulled open the book, flipping through past drawings. Multiple grotesque mashes of animals stare up at me, fangs dripping and flashing intelligently. They looked sinister in the dim lighting, and I suppressed a shiver as I flipped deeper. I was just beginning to realize how strange my drawings were when I came upon Marco's picture, still unnerved by the likeness between them.

I flip to a fresh page, feeling the familiar tingle of inspiration in my fingers. I grabbed a stray pencil from the small table near my lamp and get to work, relishing the feeling of my hands against the paper.

As I continued to scratch lines on the paper, features became more defined, silhouettes more distinguished. It was a man, hunched and holding an obviously female body. It almost looked like they were dancing, and the man had just dipped her and was pulling up from a tender kiss.

I wondered vaguely if I was right.

See, I know enough about art that usually things start with an idea of what the piece will turn out to be, and it goes from there. For me, as strange as it was, it was the opposite. I just put my hands to paper and let them draw freely. I usually didn't know what the piece would be until it was finished.

This, I knew was abnormal. Strange. Weird. But I didn't care, sometimes it was exciting not knowing until I was done.

More detail went into the clothing, the shadows. I began to realized that it couldn't be the loving embrace I had originally imagined. The man (which I can now categorize as more of a boy)'s face was tilted upwards, away from the girl's face and looking straight through the paper. The girl's body was limp in his arms, her neck tilted at a weird angle. Her dress was ripped.

My hands filled in the bodies, molding expressions and facial features into the image. Long, light hair dusting the ground, strong, pale arms supporting her. Distraught, dark bangs tangling around the eyes. Blood, bruises, dripping.

My hand stills, finished.

I swallowed thickly, resting my hand on the covers. I dropped my pencil, a chill going up my spine.

It was Oskar, dressed in a black suit with the sleeves rolled up. He was pale, too pale in the dim light of the picture to be completely alright. Blood dripped from his chin, the substance smeared all around his mouth, just like it had been earlier today after I nailed him with my elbow. His eyes glinted black from under his bangs, crazed and sadistic. Two, sharp fangs peeked from his raw and bloody lips.

I had drawn Oskar as a vampire.

I felt numb as I turned my gaze to the girl in his hands, almost certain who I would find.

Long, blonde hair spills over her shoulder and hangs behind her head, dirty and tangled. She was dressed in a long dress, folds and lace spilling from the bodice. I couldn't be sure of the color, but it was definitely light, even with the dirt covering the hem. The dress was torn and dirty, a sign that there had been struggle beforehand. Her body hung limply in Oskar's arms. She was either unconscious or dead.

I tried to keep my breathing calm as I forced myself to look at the face.

Her head was turned away, hiding her face but showing enough of a strong jawline to be recognizable. Her throat was bloody, mangled bite marks all up her neck and shoulders. She was bruised and battered, as limp as a doll.

I was almost certain it was me.

I had to look away, taking deep, even breaths.

I had to remind myself that it was just a picture, and that I shouldn't get too worked up. I'm just recovering from a traumatic event and my mind is making up weird things to deal with it. Yeah.

Careful not to look at the drawing, I flip to a clean page. This time I made sure not to draw something unnerving. I paid more attention than I usually did, and ended up with a fluffy, cotton candy-like creature. It had big eyes and cute little antennas with that poked out of it's fuzzy head. It was adorable, but not nearly was good as my other drawings. Not completely satisfied, I doodled a little rattle-like object in it's hand and slapped a big star in the middle of the sphere. Somewhat appeased, I start to close the cover, making sure to not get a glimpse of the picture on the other side.

The pages flutter closed, and I shut the book. I sit there for a few seconds, unmoving.

Suddenly I had to urge to look at Maco's picture again, so I opened the book again and started flipping. Once again I passed my previous monster mash-ups, just like before.

I stumble upon a blank page and I hesitate.

I could have sworn...

I flip the page, unsurprised when I find Marco's face staring up at me. I turn back a page, confused.

My bird should be here. I remember, I drew it right before Marco's.

Frowning, I examine the page lining, thinking maybe it was torn out. The seal was undisturbed, the page perfectly blank.

I flip through again, the bird nowhere inside my sketchbook. I shake the book, checking for loose pages. Nothing.

I stare at the blank page with my book open, perplexed.

It's almost as if the picture was erased, or as if I had never drawn it in the first place.

I rub my eyes.

It's been a long day, I'm probably just tired, I tell myself.

I set my sketch book on my bedside table and turn out the light, bathing the room in darkness.

I'll probably find it tomorrow or something, there's got to be something I'm overlooking. I pulled the covers over me and settled into my soft bed. I slowly close my heavy eyes, not giving another thought to the blank page before drifting into a deep, dreamless sleep.


Now to answer some stuff. This is my favorite part btw, I love hearing from you guys. You could literally type something up about donuts and send it to me and I'd be ecstatic. A review doesn't have to be all super serious too, you could talk about what you think will happen or if your mind is reeling about something, tell me about it. Or if you want to fangirl about something or have a favorite part in a chapter I'd TOTALLY love to hear it. Anyway, here's some responses:

Guest- Why thank you! And I plan on it ;)

Guest- thank you!

jidg (Guest)- Plan on it ;) I'm glad you're getting drawn into it

Qruis- Oh really ;) we'll see about that

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