July 25, 2017-This story was started before the third season aired, so it is not third season compliant. As of, now, I have started a major revision; starting with chapter twenty-eight where I noticed some real problems and moving forward. I've revised this first chapter and I'm not sure when I'll get around to the rest of it. It shouldn't impact anything major with plot, but hopefully it will flow more smoothly.

Maya's not a stranger to rejection. She's been rejected by Josh more times than she can count; enough that the sting of it has almost been lost. She was rejected from The Nutcracker, the one time that had bothered to try out, ending all of her ballerina dreams. Not that they'd had the money for her to pursue them, anyway. And the crowning rejection came from her own father, when he'd walked away and never looked back.

So, she couldn't understand why Lucas's rejection of her left such an impact.

Maybe, it was because she had thought that she had a chance; that someone would pick her over her amazing best friend. That she might actually have a shot at being enough.

What was hard, was that she wanted Riley to be happy. She loved Riley and in the back of her mind she had always known that Lucas would choose someone who built him up, instead of always tearing him down. But despite all of her trying to be what Lucas wanted, in the end, she had always known that in trying to be what he wanted, she was trying to be her best friend. There was only one Riley and she was painfully aware that she wasn't it.

"Maya, we need to talk," Lucas demanded, pounding on her window.

"You made your choice, there's nothing left to say," Maya claimed, refusing to look at him.

"Yeah, I did, but I feel like we need to do something to try and fix our friendship," Lucas suggested, his voice muted by the glass.

Maya reluctantly made her way across the room and cracked the window just enough that they could talk, but she wouldn't have to let him in. She leaned her back against the wall, not wanting to let him see any weakness as they spoke.

"Okay, tell me what you could possibly say to make this better," Maya offered, bringing her knees up to her chest.

"I really wasn't sure of my feelings, I didn't just lead you on to let you down," Lucas explained and his sincerity made it that much worse. She didn't like it when his kindness was directed at her, she was never entirely sure how to take it.

"Well, that makes everything better," Maya snorted, "Let's just pretend none of this ever happened."

"If that's what you want," Lucas hesitantly agreed and she felt slightly better that he wasn't going to insist on a heart-to-Hart. It was better if she could just keep her mask in place and go on pretending that nothing touched her.

"Just take care of her, okay? She's my sister and I want her to be happy," Maya said, trying to shove any of her ill-feelings towards him and Riley aside.

"That's what I want, too," Lucas assured her.

"Good, glad we cleared that up," Maya ended the conversation, "Now, will you please go."

"I'll see you at school," Lucas offered, "And Maya, I'm sorry."

Maya was sorry, too, but it was better not to dissect all of the negative emotions that were running through her body. The anger at Riley for being enough for him, the anger at herself for feeling that way, the part of her that still admired Lucas, even though all she wanted to do was hate him.

It was better to let them lump together; where the only thing they could target was herself.

Seeing them together isn't as bad as she thought it would be. They're both still a little awkward when it comes to holding hands or being a couple, so she's not subjected to the PDA. She mocks them and teases their relationship, just like everyone else and after a while it stops feeling so much like she's reading from a set of lines that mean nothing to her.

It helps that she's still the beautiful blonde and everyone knows it. Her confidence may be about half fake, but it's just enough that people believe it. Maya's fun, Maya's the party girl, and she has plenty of boys chasing her to keep things interesting.

She's heard all of the lectures on underage drinking and not giving in to peer pressure, but she's spent the last two years trying to be like Riley and she's just so tired of it. She wants to be wild and reckless; she wants to embrace the side of herself that's nothing like Riley.

"Hey, Maya, there's a party tonight, you in?" a boy asks, leaning against the locker next to hers. He's a junior and he's on the football team, which all factor into her decision, however, in the end it's the way he's looking at her. His eyes are scanning her body and it reminds her of what it feels like to be wanted.

"Yeah, I'm in," Maya smiles, tossing her hair as she makes her retreat. She can feel his eyes on her back and she likes the feeling.

"It's a bad idea," Riley informs her, during their next class. News that she's been asked to a party by Logan Prescott has passed through most of the school and Riley had picked up on it.

"Riles, it's just a party. I'm not getting a tattoo or buying drugs off of a street corner. It's just a social gathering, even Lucas was invited," Maya defends herself, ignoring the assignment that she's supposed to be working on.

"I've heard that there's going to be drinking," Riley informed her and Maya has no questions about where Riley stood on the subject.

"If you're so worried, you could come, too," Maya suggested, checking the clock for when class was going to end.

"My parents would be disappointed in me, they'd be disappointed in you," Riley countered and those words just happened to be Maya's breaking point.

"When are you going to stop living your life based on what they want for you? At some point, you're going to have to be your own person and make your own choices," Maya insisted, slamming the textbook closed and grabbing her things as she got ready to leave.

Riley didn't say anything as they left the classroom and Maya wondered just how upset Riley really was. She'd steered their social group clear of anything bad up until this point, but Maya happened to know that as Lucas's popularity grew, so did his desire to fit in and Riley didn't exactly fit in.

"Hey, Riley," Lucas joined them in the hallway, flashing them his signature smile, "Logan invited us to his party tonight, do you want to go?"

"I'm not sure that it's really my kind of thing," Riley admitted, her eyes deliberately trained on her feet.

"We don't have to drink anything and we can leave whenever you want," Lucas said, already knowing what Riley's hang-up would be. It sometimes bothered Maya that he seemed to know Riley on a level that it had taken Maya years to get to.

"I guess we could go," Riley offered, her voice filled with uncertainty. Maya almost felt bad for pushing her, but she hadn't been the only one.

"I'll pick you up," Lucas offered, his eyes moving to Maya. He must have already known what her answer was.

"There's no need, Huckleberry, I think I can manage," Maya snapped and she watched as the rejection registered on his face.

"Don't you think it would be better if we all went together?" Riley questioned, revealing her intentions as permanent, designated-driver. Not that Maya had ever doubted what Riley's role would be.

"If that's what you want," Maya decided, shrugging it off. It would be better to go with people that she actually knew, anyway.

"Good, that's what we'll do," Riley smiled, though it didn't quite reach her eyes.

The one party turns into two and from there it's a party after every football game. Lucas has managed to make it onto varsity and he even starts in a couple of games. Maya doesn't ask why Riley chooses not to try out for cheerleading, but she knows that something is going on with her best friend.

Normally, she would be all over it, but Riley has started going to Lucas with things and Maya's still a little annoyed by it. She can feel Riley pulling away, so Maya throws herself into art club and she pretends that she knows what she's doing. She pretends that she actually belongs somewhere, even if it does feel like she's faking it.

The parties are the only time when she actually feels like herself. She doesn't drink at the first couple and she mostly stays by Riley's side, but Riley has attached herself to Lucas and being around him reminds Maya of rejection. She doesn't want to feel rejected anymore.

It starts with one drink and she finds herself feeling lighter. The lights all seem to glow just a little bit brighter and the music is just a little louder. She doesn't care what people think of her as she dances with everyone else and for a moment she feels truly alive. She feels like she finally belongs.

There's something about that one drink that changes everything for her. Any reservations she had about alcohol go away and when people offer her drinks, she no longer hesitates. Her life starts becoming slightly blurred, but the missing time doesn't seem to matter, as long as she can feel alive for just a moment.

She can almost understand why her father would choose it over his family.

"You're going a little fast, don't you think? Maybe you should pace yourself," Lucas suggests, taking the seat next to her. Riley had claimed she was sick that night and Lucas was here on his own. It was strange seeing the two of them apart.

"I'm fine, Mr. Perfect, why don't you go find another damsel in distress to save," Maya suggested, though she did set the drink down.

"Riley asked me to keep an eye on you," Lucas informed her, "She's worried."

"And what about you? She can't be happy about your drinking," Maya pointed out, her eyes daring him to deny it.

"I don't drink nearly as much as you do," he replied.

"Something tells me that Riley doesn't notice the difference," Maya informed him, "She expects me to self-destruct, but she expects more from you."

"I know," Lucas admitted and she can see the guilt reflected in his eyes.

"You should go to her, show her that you're not the stupid jock you've been pretending to be," Maya said, her feelings slowly fading into a kind of melancholy, sadness.

"What about you?" he questioned, his eyes taking in the room of drunk teenagers.

"This party looks pretty over to me," Maya decided, getting up from her place and snagging her coat from a chair that two teenagers were making out on. Lucas followed her slowly out and she found the cool, night air sobering.

"I'm not pretending to be a stupid jock," Lucas informed her as they walked towards the subway.

"Could have fooled me," Maya laughed, wrapping her arms tightly around herself.

"My brother has leukemia," he stated and Maya's laughter instantly cut off.

"How bad is it?" Maya questioned, as she sunk down in the seat next to him.

"My parents don't really like to talk about it, but from the amount of time we spend at the hospital, it can't be just a simple fix," Lucas admitted, resting his head in his hands.

"Does Riley know?" Maya asked, unsure why he had chosen to confide in her.

"I haven't really talked to anyone about it and I'd like to keep it that way,"

"Okay," Maya agrees, though something like guilt twists within her gut.

Lucas and her don't mention that night, but it's strange knowing what he's thinking about when his eyes go distant. He's always been attentive to everything that Riley says, but there's an added layer of distraction, now, and it's strange watching Lucas and Riley pull apart. She'd thought that they were going to make it.

He stops going to the parties, but Maya can't bring herself to. They're not really parties anymore, but more of groups of teenagers breaking into their parents' liquor cabinets. Maya's own mother had an aversion to alcohol that rivaled Rileys' and knowing why made what she was doing so much worse.

But she still can't stop. Her artwork has gotten better since her life had drifted into an alcohol induced haze and her tolerance seems to go up enough that her mother is unaware of what's going on. Though she would have to be there to notice anything amiss, anyway. Her mother's always out of the house, when she's dealing with hangovers and she starts to wonder if anyone will ever notice that something is clearly wrong. She's not sure how to break the cycle and she's even less sure of how to confess that she has a problem, she doesn't want to have a problem.

"Maya," Logan greets her and Maya smiles at him, "You going to Stephen's house tonight?"

"I wouldn't miss it," Maya replied, trying to ignore the pounding in her head. She's pretty sure that she's dehydrated and all she wants is another hour of sleep, but she's trying her best to act normal.

"I'll see you there," he smirked, moving on to the group of friends that were waiting for him at the end of the hall.

"Is that really the best idea?" Lucas asks, from where he had been watching the exchange from his own locker.

"Just because you're no fun, anymore, doesn't mean that I have to be," Maya replied, rolling her eyes at him.

"Are you okay, Maya?" Lucas questions and there's such sincerity in his voice that it almost throws her off. He actually wants to know.

"I'm fine," she lies, brushing passed him on her way to class.

He catches up with her again after school, "I don't think you should go."

"You're not my keeper, Hop-Along, go back to your girlfriend," Maya insists, pulling open her locker and dumping her textbooks in it.

"I'm not letting you go by yourself," Lucas informs her and she stares at him incredulously.

"Then I guess you'll just have to come with me," she dares him, fully expecting him to say no.

"Fine."

There's something different about this party and Maya knows it from the second she and Lucas enter. For one thing, she brought her best friend's boyfriend with her and she knows that it's fifty shades of wrong and for another, Logan's eyes are trained on her from the minute that she walks through the door.

Despite their casual flirting and the occasional dance, he's never shown any interest in something long term and Maya thinks that it's just as well. She doesn't want to deal with putting herself out there and while Logan is fun, he's not the kind of guy you plan forever with, but there's something different about the way that he's looking at her. It makes her skin crawl.

"You want something to drink?" Lucas asks her and she glances up at him in surprise. He looks jittery and she gets the feeling that he's having second thoughts.

"Sure," Maya agrees, watching him disappear in the direction of the kitchen.

She takes off her coat and sets it across the back of a chair, trying to absorb the energy of the room. There's plenty of laughter and no one else seems overly concerned about what's going on, so she tries to shake the feeling off and force herself to relax.

"I'm glad you came," Logan whispers in her ear and she jumps.

"Yeah, Lucas is around here somewhere," Maya feels the need to say, wondering what the hold-up is.

"Are the two of you together?" he questions casually.

"He's dating Riley," Maya reminds him, feeling defensive. Everyone knew that Riley and Lucas were together.

"She's the mousy, brunette, isn't she? The controlling one," Logan asks.

"She's my best friend," Maya corrects him, her eyes narrowing.

"Relax, I didn't mean anything by it," Logan instantly backs off, "She doesn't seem as laid back as you are."

"I should go find Lucas," Maya decides, regretting that she hadn't gone with him in the first place.

"Wait," Logan grabs her arm and Maya has to resist the urge to pull it back, "I'm sorry, I'm sure Kylie is a wonderful person."

"Her name is Riley," Maya informs him.

"I saw that new painting that they've hung in the main office. You painted it, didn't you?" Logan changed the subject and she found herself relaxing slightly.

"Yeah, it's one of mine," Maya agrees, feeling oddly proud.

"I liked the way you blended the colors," he complimented her.

"Thanks," Maya replies and they lapse into an awkward silence.

"Do you maybe want to go somewhere quieter?" he asks and a voice that sounds an awful lot like Riley starts shouting warnings in her head.

"I think I'd better go check on Lucas," Maya decides, but she's pulled back again by the arm that he's still holding.

"Come on, Maya, you flirt with me all the time," he snapped, seeming irritated. His eyes are out of focus and she wonders how much he's had to drink.

"It's harmless," Maya insists, pulling her arm out of his grip. She can already feel the bruises starting to form.

"It doesn't feel harmless," he closes the distance between them and she can feel as her back hits the wall.

"Stop," Maya attempts to push him away, but he's stronger than her and he has plenty of height on her.

"You stop," Logan replies and his breathe brushes against her face. It makes her want to gag.

"Let me go, I'm going home," Maya informs him, still trying to push him away, despite the fact that she knows she's stuck. She's felt out of control with the drinking, but this is entirely different. This is her feeling helpless and no one around her seems to notice.

"Maya," he somehow manages to make her name sound completely wrong and she gets no warning before his lips descend on hers and she feels ready to gag. She continues trying to shove him off, but he just holds her tighter and panic starts to build up within her.

As quickly as it had started, the kiss was over and Lucas was pulling him off of her. He lands a solid punch to Logan's face and Logan doubles over.

"Maya, get out of here," Lucas calls before Logan straightens out and faces him.

"What was that for, Friar?" Logan demands, wiping the blood from his lip and turning on Lucas.

"You forced yourself on my friend," Lucas replied, dodging as Logan took a swing at him.

"Your friend or your mistress?" Logan questions and Maya knows the exact instant that Lucas sees red.

A part of her knows that she should stay and make sure that Lucas is okay, but people are hurrying out the front door and she can see as furniture is being knocked over in the scuffle.

"Maya, go!" Lucas shouts, as Logan lands a punch in his gut and Lucas doubles over.

This time Maya listens and she suddenly finds herself rushing through the streets with no idea where to go. She can feel Logan's hands touching her skin and the taste of him is in her mouth. She pauses to throw up in a nearby bush and she wonders when her life got so off track.

She'd left her jacket at the party and she suddenly finds herself shivering. She wants more layers to cover herself with and she wants a scalding shower to try and erase any trace that Logan had ever touched her.

She has no idea how she ends up outside of Josh's dorm room. He's rejected her enough times that he should be the last person that she goes to, but somehow she's ended up in the area and she knows that she can't go home and be alone. She also knows that she can't go to Riley and tell her that she almost got her boyfriend killed.

"Maya, what are you doing here?" Josh asks, approaching from down the hallway.

"I don't know," Maya admits, trying to get her thoughts in order, "This is a mistake, I should go."

"You shouldn't be wandering around at night," Josh disagrees, opening his door and gesturing for her to go inside.

She reluctantly enters his dorm room, glancing around at the mess. There are clothes all over the floor and posters of bands on the walls.

"My roommate said he'd be out all night," Josh informed her, turning on the lights.

"This is weird," Maya admitted.

"You want to talk about it?" Josh questioned, clearing some of the clothing and sinking into the desk chair.

"Not really," Maya replied, folding her arms and staring intently at the ground.

"You don't think that I've done my fair share of stupid things?" Josh asked and she shook her head.

"Did you ever get your best friend's boyfriend killed?" Maya questioned, sinking down on the bed.

"That's a new one," he admitted and for a second he reminded Maya of Riley's father.

"Riley's going to be so upset," Maya groaned, resting her head in her hands.

"This isn't an actual death situation, right? I'm not going to have to help you hide any bodies?" Josh checked and she glared at him for trying to joke at a time like this.

"I was at a party," Maya confessed.

"I've been to a few of those," Josh allowed and she found it oddly nice that she wasn't receiving any judgement.

"This guy tried to force himself on me and Lucas defended me, like the knight in shining armor that he has to be," Maya snorted, "He shouldn't have even been there, but I dared him to go."

"None of that actually sounds like your fault," Josh pointed out, leaning back in his chair.

"I'm a bad influence, haven't you heard? I drink too much, I wear too little, and I have feelings for my best friend's boyfriend," Maya laughed, hysteria taking over as she realized that she had hit rock bottom.

"Wait, you have feelings for Friar?" Josh pressed, looking at her strangely.

"You didn't really expect me to wait around for you forever," Maya said, surprised by the look in his eyes.

"I thought you were in it for the long game," he replied. His phone going off lets her off the hook for trying to reply.

"Riley? What's wrong?" Josh demands and Maya moves to the other end of the bed, so that she can hear better.

"It's Lucas; he's completely covered in blood and his head is cracked open and I don't know what to do. I can't take him to the hospital because he's been drinking and I have no idea where Maya is," Riley rambles and Maya feels guilty as she hears the concern in her best friend's voice. She doesn't deserve it.

"Maya's with me," he informs her, his eyes trailing to Maya.

"What do I do about the cut on his head?" Riley questions and Maya finds herself reflecting on her trips to the E.R. She was reckless enough to have had plenty of experience.

"Tell her to use superglue," Maya suggests and Josh looks at her in surprise, "It's what they would do at the hospital. I have the scar to prove it."

"In the ER, they superglue it closed," Josh repeats.

"Superglue? Your great idea is superglue?" Riley rants and Maya can tell that she's close to going into shock and being completely useless.

"Unless you want to try sewing it closed," Josh says and Maya finds herself oddly impressed that he knows how to snap Riley out of it.

"Okay, so I get the superglue and I," Riley trails off and Maya worries that she's done something like pass out.

"Pinch the cut, and glue it closed," Josh says patiently and it's Maya's turn to be surprised that he knows what he's talking about.

"I'm not a doctor," Riley groans.

"Neither am, I, Riley. You can do this," Josh assures her.

"Okay, I can do this," Riley repeats and then she's laughing; the kind of laughing that Maya associates with complete mental breakdowns.

"I want you text me, when you get things under control," Josh breaks through her laughter and Riley quickly cuts off.

"Okay, thank you," is the last thing that they hear before the phone goes dead.

"Maybe we should go and help," Maya says, biting her lip, as she considers Riley's description of how Lucas is and the laughter that suggests Riley might not be much better off.

"If we show up there, then Riley will get caught and we'll all be in trouble," Josh replies.

"I can't believe this is happening," Maya groans, running her hands through her hair in agitation.

"I got a cut on my head once," Josh informed her, pulling her out of her thoughts, "It was a skateboarding accident, I did something completely stupid and there was a ton of blood. I thought my parents were going to kill me."

"Did they?" Maya questioned, interested despite her efforts not to be.

"After everything that happened at the hospital, they were mostly just relieved that I was okay, but that wasn't the point of my story," Josh answered.

"You're just like your brother, trying to turn everything into a moral lesson," Maya shook her head.

"There wasn't a moral to the story, either, except for maybe don't be stupid," Josh added as an afterthought, "My point was that I survived and lived to talk about it."

"I'm a complete mess. I spend more time hungover, then I do sober and I'm barely passing most of my classes. Something like this could have easily happened a long time ago, Lucas wasn't even supposed to be there, tonight. What if he hadn't been?" Maya rambled, not wanting to have her thoughts locked up in her head anymore. She could feel the tears that were gathering in her eyes, but Maya didn't cry and she had no intention of crying in front of the person that had spent so much time rejecting her.

"You're safe," Josh reached out, taking her hands in his. The chair had rolled forward and their knees were inches apart. It wasn't the closest that they had ever been, but it was the first time that he had initiated the contact.

"I don't know what to do," Maya admitted, blinking and looking at the ceiling in an attempt to keep the tears from falling.

"You don't have to do this alone," Josh informed her.

"I'm not bringing Riley into this, I'm not letting anyone else get hurt because of my stupid mistakes," Maya insisted, pulling one of her hands away from his to wipe away the tears that she couldn't stop from coming.

"I'll help you," Josh promised and she suddenly didn't care about the tears that were falling down her face. For a minute she let herself hope and then reality hit her.

"Don't make promises that you can't keep," Maya pulled away from him, folding her arms in an attempt to create some distance.

"I mean it, Maya, we'll both get you whatever help that you need. I'll help you with your homework and I'll help you figure things out," Josh said, his eyes earnest.

"I'm not some broken toy that you can just fix," Maya snapped, standing up and moving away from him, "I've been killing off the good parts in me and I don't think that there's any getting them back."

"I don't believe that," Josh argued and Maya found herself wondering what it was about the Mathew's family that made them feel a need to take in strays and try to fix everything.

"I'm going home," Maya decided, but he blocked her way to the door.

"Get some sleep, we can talk in the morning," Josh said, gesturing to the bed that she instinctively knew was his.

"I don't plan on being here when you wake up," Maya informed him, moving over to the bed and curling up anyway.

"I don't plan on sleeping," Josh countered.