A/N: This story is a collection of missing moments and canon scenes, altogether painting the relationship between Frankie and Miles. The snippets are all in chronological order, although mostly unconnected, and the amount of time between each consecutive scenes varies (from same-day to several weeks).

Part I covers roughly a year and a half of Degrassi-time, starting right before S13 and ending at #ThisCouldBeUsButYouPlayin.

A huge Thank You to FrankstonTheSequel for being my guinea pig AND for patiently answering my English Grammar questions, as well as for reading several drafts of this monster. I owe you big time! Any mistakes are clearly mine, not his.




Frankie had just turned 13 when her brother Miles left for boarding school. She was so used to having him around, constantly mocking her and Hunter, picking up a fight with their dad, and generally being a pain in the ass – like only older brothers are able to – that the house suddenly felt too quiet, once he was gone.

He didn't come home until Christmas, that year. His school wasn't even that far away, but their parents tended to be always busy at weekends, and Miles never expressed the desire to come back anyway. He looked changed, a bit taller, a bit… different. She had never not seen him for this long, and it was a funny feeling.

"So, how is boarding school?" she asked him, the first night he was back. I've missed you, is what she actually wanted to say, and Have you missed me too? But they weren't that kind of siblings; the kind that say nice things to each other.

Miles just shrugged in response, not too bothered. They were sitting in the lounge room by the fireplace, a hot chocolate in their hands.

"We all know that Dad only sent me there so I wouldn't screw up his life," he stated, bitter. "But he'll see…"

"What do you mean?" she asked.

He gave her that look that she knew all too well, for having seen it on his face one too many times. It was a look that said Don't even try to mess with me, because it'll backfire. She suddenly felt uncomfortable, as he shot a sideways smile in her direction.

"Let's just say I'm not one to go down in silence…" he replied.

By the end of the school year, he had managed to get himself expelled. They said he had set fire to a garden shed on school property, and she didn't even bother asking why he'd done it.

Not two weeks had passed, and their dad had already shipped him off again, this time to a Summer School in Paris. He hadn't been home for five minutes and had already caused a scene at the event for the launch of their father's mayoral campaign, typical Miles. Even though she was younger than him, sometimes she just wished he would grow up already, and quit the idiotic stunts.

Still, spending the summer in Paris seemed hardly a punishment, and Frankie was quite jealous of him. She had been a few times with her family and absolutely loved it, but going by herself? That would have been the best! This was the story of her life, though: Miles was the one constantly messing up, and yet he was the one getting to do all the cool things.

Nevertheless, she was sort of happy they would all be together at the same school this year. Annoying or not, Miles was her brother, and she had missed him while he was gone.

It wasn't hard to ignore Miles's antics once school finally started. While her brother was busy stressing out about making the basketball team, and throwing wild party after the next in his spare time to exasperate their parents, Frankie focused on getting a head-start on the ruthless social ladder that was high school.

Not to brag, but Frankie was born to be in high school. She'd been popular enough at her old junior high, but Degrassi proved to open new wonderful ways to her. Who would have thought that someone as cool as Zoë Rivas, aka none other than Gatsby Garcia from 'West Drive', would have attended a community school? And, most importantly, who would have thought she would have taken Frankie under her wing? Zoë was amazing. So cool, and funny, and well, an actual celebrity. Plus, she clearly understood what being in the public eye entailed, and she had endless lists of useful advice for Frankie to deal with the limelight of her father's campaign.

The only thing that threatened to ruin her new friendship with Zoë was, once again, Frankie's dumb older brother. This is something that had apparently slipped from her memory, over the one year he spent at boarding school, but Miles somehow seemed to always find his way to any of her girlfriends. She didn't pick up on it, at first, but Zoë kept glaring daggers at Miles every time he appeared in their field of vision, and when Frankie inquired about it, Zoë reluctantly admitted they had a little history gone wrong that past summer. Of course.

"What happened between you two in Paris?" she confronted Miles, marching onto him back home that night. "And don't say nothing, because I know it's not true."

Miles seemed completely unaffected by her accusations, only gracing her with an amused grin.

"What do you think happened? We hooked up. Then she proved herself the A-list mean girl that she is and I dumped her. End of story."

Gosh, Miles was so infuriating. Typical him, being all so careless about things and people. She could bet this is not how Zoë would tell the story, either.

"What did she even see in you I'll never know!" she spat at him.

"Why, Frankenstein, I'm such a charming stud, don't you know?"

She rolled her eyes at that, not even bothering to answer. She heard him chuckling as she left the room.

It was a couple of weeks after Thanksgiving, and by now Frankie had completely settled into her new routine at Degrassi. That morning, Miles had one of his evil grins on his face as he looked at her from across the breakfast table, and that's how Frankie knew trouble was coming.

"So, parents," he started, while producing his phone as evidence, "I was wondering what you think of Frankie's latest stunt at school."

Frankie's heart sunk as she got a glimpse of the picture he was showing – of her and the girls in the hallway, yesterday, Keisha holding a sign that clearly stated 'My Bra My Business'. In the chair next to hers, Hunter rolled his eyes with his most practiced Not-Again expression on, and proceeded to pull up his noise-cancelling headphones and ignore them all, as per usual.

"Frankie?" her father cornered her, "Care to elaborate?"

She sent Miles a burning Thankyouverymuch look, before turning towards her father.

"The girls and I are protesting against the school dress-code, because it's sexist!"

Miles almost choked on his orange juice. "Right… and not because you want to wear slutty clothes at school?"

"Miles! Language!" their mother interjected, and Miles raised his hands in defeat, silencing himself. Frankie could feel her cheeks blush violently.

"Well, actually," she started, getting herself back together, "if you want to know it, it was this girl Imogen's idea, and she's a senior and really smart and not at all… like that!"

Miles still had a sardonic smile plastered all over his stupid face, but her dad seemed interested in the story.

"Sexist, you say?"

"Yes, as a matter of fact," Frankie continued, feeling a bit more confident in herself, "Principal Simpson agrees with us, and he asked us to draft a new proposal," she finished, sending Miles the smuggest look she could manage without being too obvious.

"Well, it's important to get involved with your school, and I find it laudable that Frankie is standing up for an injustice," he said, rewarding her with one of his bright smiles, the type that always made her feel warm and fuzzy inside. "Once again, Miles, you could only learn from your sister!"

"What?!" her brother protested, unable to contain himself, "She was wearing her bra over her clothes, for crying out loud!"

"It was a peaceful demonstration!"

"Enough!" their father stopped them, and they suddenly went quiet, because he was using that tone, the one you didn't want to mess with. "If you can't say anything nice to your sister, Miles, then I suggest you say nothing at all," concluded Dad, and now Frankie felt a tiny bit bad about it – after all, she had been tweaking the truth the slightest bit, to embellish it a little. It was not her fault though, if she was smarter than Miles. He should have known better than trying to pin their parents against her.

She shot a victorious look at her dumb older brother, and even dared to show him her tongue (when Dad wasn't looking). Miles was sulking silently in the corner, his arms crossed against his chest. He kept it up all the way to school, and didn't talk to her for the rest of the day. And they say that girls are the dramatic ones…

For someone who complained so much about Dad being constantly on his case, Miles sure didn't put much effort into avoiding dumb situations. Like yesterday, for example, when he had managed to get caught by their father and his staff, naked in the pool with his new girlfriend. Well, technically nobody was saying they were naked, but Frankie could bet it was true. It just wouldn't have been such a big deal if they weren't. Gosh, part of her wished she had been home to see it, to see their dad's face, it must have been hilarious!

Sure, right now it wasn't much fun, at least not for Miles, as Dad was clearly giving him the cold shoulder for it at the breakfast table. Frankie didn't know what Miles was expecting, though. After all, he did have a history of dumb decisions with girls, and of screwing up their dad's career opportunities for it. He should just apologise and keep his head down, instead of making such a big deal about it.

"Since Paris I haven't messed up once!" he complained to their mother, once their father had left. "I mean, I even agreed to that stupid media training!" His voice got lower as he added, "No matter how hard I try he doesn't see it."

Frankie didn't really know what to make of this. Miles made it abundantly clear he didn't care what their father thought of his stunts. In fact, pissing off their dad was precisely why Miles did half the stuff he did. Yet, right now he sounded… hurt? Frankie suddenly felt a bit uncomfortable remembering how their dad had just openly praised her and Hunter in front of Miles, like he so often did. However, she wouldn't know what else to suggest a part from what their mum had just told him: try harder. It really was as simple as that.

And for a while it seemed Miles was actually following the advice – Frankie had never seen him as involved with the campaign. Being Miles, though, she wasn't surprised when it didn't last. When the media training event came up, it was obvious that her brother had grown bored of it all, and he wasn't willing to put even the tiniest little effort into it. His answers to the mock-questions were so over the top and obviously fake that Frankie wondered if he was actively trying to piss everyone off. Her heart almost jumped in her chest when Miles kicked his chair to the floor and left, swiftly chased by their mother. He was probably just being overdramatic, she tried telling herself as the muffled sounds of them arguing in the patio travelled all the way back to the house.

But then their mum walked back in alone, saying that Miles wasn't feeling very well and they would continue without him. And Frankie pushed down any worry for her brother's skittish behaviour, and focused her attention to Andrea and her questions.

Miles didn't let her join his infamous pool-parties, like, ever. Just a few weeks ago, he had threatened retaliation if she dared leave her room while he had people over, and they'd had a massive argument about it. Therefore, when she received Winston's enthusiastic facerange invitation to her own house, she knew that something was up.

"What's going on?" she confronted Miles, "I thought Dad said no people over!"

Their parents were in Calgary overnight for an event, and she was pretty sure they wouldn't approve of a party. Hadn't they appointed Drew as baby-sitter for precisely this reason? Besides, what exactly happened to Miles's resolution to try harder?

Miles gave her one of his infamous grins, passing by her to grab some soda from the fridge.

"Don't be such a killjoy, little sis!" he smirked, a mischievous sparkle in his eyes.

"What about Drew?" she asked.

"It's taken care of," he offered, suspiciously. That didn't make her feel any better about the whole thing.


"C'mon, Frankie, everyone likes a party. Don't you want to have some fun?"

Of course Frankie wanted to have fun. She had pestered Miles for years to be allowed to join in his social endeavours, and now that she was finally in high school she felt like she pretty much needed to. It was in the rulebook, or something.

"Fine. But only if I can invite my friends!" she negotiated, and Miles's grin only got wider in response. She just hoped this wasn't a total bad idea…

The party was absolutely crazy, and everyone seemed pretty much drunk. Frankie was no stranger to alcohol, as it was readily available at any of their parents' fancy evenings, but to be honest she didn't quite understand all the hype about it. Beer tasted bitter and awful, and while cocktails were good, it was mostly thanks to the sugary stuff that you mixed with them. She had been sipping at the same cup of vodka-cranberry for most of the evening, and in the same amount of time she had witnessed Zoë down at least five cups of beer – and that was a conservative estimate.

Miles was clearly also having a great time, if that could be measured by the level of ethanol in your blood. He strolled around the pool, having a laugh and a chat with everybody, downing shots as if they were water and goofing around with his basketball friends. Frankie shook her head and went back to her girlfriends, deciding it wasn't her job to babysit Miles, or Zoë. She was here to have a good time, after all, and she was very determined to follow through.

The sudden sound of her brother's angry voice reached her from across the pool – so loud that it overpowered the blasting music – making her turn around to check what was happening.

"You don't understand anything!" he was shouting at Maya, "Nothing!"

His girlfriend looked incredibly small next to him, and an awful feeling filled Frankie's being at the sight, making her shiver. She wondered what it was that made her so uncomfortable. It was hardly the first time that she witnessed one of her brother's outbursts, but something in the whole scene struck a chord with her. It brought to the surface other unpleasant memories, buried deep underneath and long forgotten. Memories of their dad, mostly, yelling at Miles in much the same fashion.

She wondered if he, too, was aware of the similarity.

Frankie sat quietly on the school steps, her pom-poms lying tangled at her feet. It had been a couple of days since the pool party, and they had been hands down the most unsettling few days of her life. It all felt surreal, almost like sleepwalking. She had just watched in silence as the police took away Luke Baker and Neil Martin – the sirens blasting and the two boys looking smaller than ever, still wearing their basketball uniforms. The complete mess around her had yet to fade, and some police was still visible in front of Degrassi.

Frankie was alone, waiting for her mum to come pick her and her brothers up now that the game had been cancelled. From where she sat she could see Miles, standing at the opposite side of the road with Zoë, and Maya, and Dallas, and their friends. Hunter was hiding somewhere in the school, probably the computer lab, given he never had any intention of coming to the game in the first place. Frankie wondered now if he even knew what was going on. She had sent him a text, but Hunter probably hadn't even looked at his phone yet. She'd better go look for him, she thought, before their mother arrived.

"You okay?"

Frankie shuddered out of her train of thoughts, as Miles quietly dropped down on the steps next to her. She hadn't even noticed him leaving his group. She only now registered they all had dispersed, Zoë nowhere to be seen. Maybe she had gone home, Frankie guessed. Or maybe she was still being questioned by the police.

She suddenly realised Miles had asked her a question, and must think she had turned stupid, given her lack of response. He was sitting in silence at her side, though, not probing her any further. She didn't even remember what question it was.

"I don't understand this," she told him, out of the blue, gaining herself a hesitant look from his part.

"What?" he asked, softly.

Frankie was still trying to wrap her head around everything that had just gone down. It seemed too crazy to be true.

"So… it was Luke, in the video?" she resolved to ask. "Did he… did they really do those things to Zoë?"

Miles spoke really quietly. "Yes," he said.

"I don't get it," she said.

Miles seemed taken aback. "You don't get what?" he asked, his voice way gentler than usual – as if he were afraid she would crumble in pieces if he spoke too loud.

"It's just…" Frankie hesitated, unsure of where she was going with this. So many things had happened today and she hadn't quite put her thoughts in order, yet. "Luke was talking to me, before the game," she finally said. She saw Miles stiffen, at her words, almost unnoticeably – but she noticed it anyway. "I was… sort of flattered, you know? He was acting all charming, and he's a senior, and a hockey star and everything… was he… I mean…" she took a deep breath, collecting her thoughts. "Did I do something wrong?"

Miles's face literally dropped at her last words. He looked at her with eyes so big that she had to shift her gaze away.

"No, Franks, you didn't," he told her, very quietly and yet sure of himself. "It's all on him, I promise," he added, barely audible, "And I'm really glad they stopped him before he could move on to- to someone else."

Frankie shivered slightly at his words, feeling uncomfortable.

"Zoë got him off of me," she recalled.

"…She did?" asked Miles, surprised.

"She came on and accused him right when he was talking to me."


"And you, too," she suddenly remembered, "You got in between them, and prevented him from taking his phone back."

"It wasn't just me. Dallas, too, and half the team, actually."

"You were the first one, though, I saw you. I was afraid he would hurt you."

Miles hesitated, lowering his gaze. "I couldn't just sit and do nothing," he whispered. Then he sighed, loudly. "Zoë told me, earlier today… she said that it's my fault, that I let them do that to her."

"She doesn't mean that," Frankie replied automatically.

Miles made a face, at that, one that she didn't quite understand. His voice dropped to a quiet murmur as he continued, "Well, actually… it's kind of true."

Frankie stared back at him, puzzled. Even when everyone was saying it was him, yesterday, she simply couldn't believe it to be true. Miles could not have taken advantage of Zoë, that was just not a possibility. It didn't matter how bad it looked, with the pictures of them all over facerange, and Zoë waking up naked in their pool-house, Frankie knew her brother. She knew him. She knew it wasn't true.

"Miles… you would never…"

"Of course not!" he cut her off, "But… I did leave her alone, passed out. I could have taken her upstairs, I could have made sure someone stayed with her."

Frankie noticed how tense his shoulders were, how his leg was fidgeting. She placed a hand on his forearm, squeezing him gently until he calmed down a little, and only then taking her hand back.

She fixed her eyes on the concrete steps, not looking at him, and she muttered, "People were saying that she wanted it…"

"Nobody wants this to happen to them, Frankie. Nobody," he stated, sombre, and Frankie quietly turned her eyes back to him. She had rarely seen him look this serious, and she suddenly had the weird feeling he was reprimanding her.

He was right, though. And Frankie felt really bad for not seeing that, earlier; for not siding with Zoë, her friend, as fiercely as she should have.

"Nice shiner! Did your girlfriend beat you up?" She teased him, as Miles walked back in from the 'Wild Wild West' night with an angry mark under his left eye.

Obviously Frankie wasn't happy, to see bruises on her brother's face. No matter how annoying, he was still her brother, and she didn't like the idea of him getting hurt. Miles being Miles, though, she had by now grown used to the aftereffects of whatever trouble he had gotten himself into. It usually revolved around a girl, either one he wanted to impress, or one who had dragged him into some stupid drama.

"What girlfriend," he replied bitter, "I don't have one anymore."

She was taken aback by his answer, and stopped still where she was, looking at him intently. It wasn't his words, what had gotten to her. Miles was a serial dater, she had lost count of how many girls he had been with by now, and as much as she knew he was usually the one doing the dumping, she figured it was only a matter of time before the numbers started evening out. No, it wasn't that, it was the way he had said it. He sounded – and looked – devastated. And Frankie was positive none of the many girls that were now his exes had ever meant enough to him to cause any such feeling.

"What happened?" she asked, softly.

Miles shrugged, not even looking at her. Frankie took a seat next to him on the sofa, suddenly filled with the urge to give him a hug. He looked so sad. She didn't dare, though; instead, she hesitantly looked up, scrutinising his face.

"Miles…" she started, unsure. He flinched away from her, jerking his head the other way. "Miles, I'm sure you can still fix it… You and Maya have made up before, right?"

She knew instantly she had said the wrong thing.

"Leave me alone, Frankenstein," Miles snapped angrily at her, his voice full of vitriol, "Go back to play with your dolls, or something."

He didn't even give her time for a comeback; he stood up and left the moment he finished spitting out the sentence, and Frankie felt a surge of frustration overcoming her. Playing with her dolls, really? What was she, five? So much for trying to be nice!

Later, though, she learned from Tristan what had happened. He called at home to check on Miles, who apparently wasn't answering his phone. He said he was worried, that Miles had acted like a psychopath, pointing a replica gun to Zig's head to scare him and freaking everyone out in the process. Tristan insisted Miles should apologise to Maya, and asked her to pass on the message. He said it was very important he did so. Frankie promised to let him know, but if she knew her brother at all, she was pretty sure he would never apologise.

And maybe he shouldn't, she thought. After all, Maya had clearly just broken his heart. She was the one who should apologise.

"Did you kiss an older guy?"

Miles marched into her bedroom, looking like a man on a mission.

"What?!" she unoriginally came back.

"Keisha just tweeted about your oh-so-romantic kissing with an older dude. So, did you?"

Frankie sent him the feistiest look she could manage through her bronchitis, hoping it was enough.

"I fail to see how this is any of your business, Miles," she remarked pointedly. Seriously, though, what was wrong with Keisha? Why would she tweet this, did she not know she had a Miles to worry about? Heck, if this was his reaction to her kissing an older boy… she didn't want to imagine what would happen when he found out said boy was Winston, his very own best friend!

"How this is… you're joking, right? Frankie, you're 14!"

"…So? Am I not allowed to even kiss? That's a bit rich, coming from you…"

Miles made a face so repulsed she almost burst out laughing at him. She wondered what he was picturing her doing, and if it was coming out of his own pool of experiences. Gosh, why did she think that?! Now she was the one who wanted to barf…

Miles seemed to regain his composure quite quickly, though. "Of course you're allowed to kiss, and date, and… everything," he said, sounding very reluctant. "But I really think you should start with someone your age!"

"Well… I think I should start with someone nice, and this guy is," she added.

"You don't know that!"

Oh, trust me, I think I know, she wanted to say, but in that moment a fit of violent coughing overcame her, and suddenly she was bent in half while her lungs almost exploded in her face.

"Jesus, Frankie! Keep your germs to yourself, will you?" said Miles, looking thoroughly disgusted. Frankie sent him what she hoped was a glaring look, although between the snot and redness on her face she highly doubted she'd managed to pull it off.

"We'll talk later," he decided, "You should get back into bed. And take some medicines."

Frankie sighed loudly as he finally left her room. Miles could be a piece of work, at times. And although her bed sounded really tempting, she'd better wait downstairs to warn Winston, she thought, before her stupid brother ambushed him.

Dating her brother's best friend came with its own brand of challenges. Quite surprisingly, Miles had not made a big deal out of it when he eventually found out. On the contrary, he pretty much just laughed it off and — after teasing her mercilessly for a whole day — he sort of gave them his amused blessing.

Falling into a new dynamic proved less than smooth, however. Whenever Winston showed up at the house, for instance, there would be a few awkward moments when nobody knew how to act, waiting to clear whether he was there to see her, or Miles. Frankie constantly had to remind herself that Winston was Miles's best friend first, and that him being downstairs with her brother playing games did not mean he didn't want to spend time with her. Still, finding a balance was hard. She tried her best to be reasonable and mature about it, but it was easier said than done. Especially when her dumb brother crashed her date night with Tristan in tow, claiming the TV that she was watching with her boyfriend.

She liked Tristan, and she didn't mind playing charades with them, nor did she mind when it turned into 'Murder' after the storm caused a blackout. Still, tonight was supposed to be a date. Would Miles have crashed her evening this carelessly, if she were dating someone other than Winston?

Thing is, she didn't really know. Frankie never had a real boyfriend until now, so she had nothing to compare the current situation with. School was out for Spring Break, though, which gave her and Winston all the time they needed to explore their new relationship, and little by little, eventually things started finding their own balance. Miles seemed happy to let them be, for the most part. Granted, he didn't stop being his annoying usual self, all of a sudden. But that was a miracle that Frankie wouldn't dream to hope for.

Once again, Miles was late for a campaign event. Frankie didn't even know why she was surprised, since this happened every single time, and yet she couldn't help being mad at him. Why would he promise to be there, when he was obviously not planning to make it? She had missed Power Cheer tryouts, to come and take these campaign pictures, and now it seemed it had all been for nothing as her stupid brother didn't even show up.

When he finally arrived, their parents were obviously pissed – and who wouldn't. While the crew started setting up the scene, now that everyone was finally here, their father took Miles to the side to lecture him as per usual. They seemed to be arguing animatedly, but to be honest Frankie wasn't paying too much attention to it. That is, until Miles snapped at their father – possibly a bit louder than he intended.

"Making out with my boyfriend!"

The words resonated in the room, making them all turn to him in surprise.

Everyone fell into uncomfortable silence. What the heck was going on? Frankie wondered what had gotten into her brother, for him to say something like that. Was it a plan to make their dad mad? Miles wasn't gay, obviously, and where did this supposed boyfriend come from, anyway? This had to be his twisted way to ruin the day for their father, Frankie was positive about it.

Still, something was off. Like, if this was a scheme all along, why did Miles look so deer-in-headlights? Shouldn't he be glad that all the attention was on him? After all, that's what he wanted, to constantly propel more drama… right?

Miles didn't utter a single word for the remainder of the photoshoot. He stood docile just behind Frankie, a hand on her shoulder, and then he sat on the loveseat with their mother, the twins on the armrests, and then he posed next to their father, the twins at his side. When they were finally allowed to leave, he sprinted out of the room without looking back.

But the weirdest thing happened later that day. When Frankie told Winston about the incident, her boyfriend didn't act as surprised as she'd thought. He looked pensive, sure, and he developed an impressive frown. But then he confessed that right before Spring Break, the night of the thunderstorm, he had walked in on Miles and Tristan making out in the den. Frankie was so shocked she didn't even know what to say. Tristan?!

That time Hunter and Miles walked in on her and Winston she thought she would die of embarrassment. Then her mum walked in too, and she thought she would die, period.

Winston sneaked out at the first occasion, and she was left alone to complain about the new draconian measures her mother was putting in place.

"Honey, that's different," her mum coldly replied, as she tried to point out that Miles had done way worse than she would ever do.

"Why?" she asked, protesting at the injustice.

"Because Miles can't get pregnant!" she snapped.

"Sounds like a challenge!" Miles muttered under his breath, sending her a knowing look with his signature crooked smile.

She had never felt so mortified; they weren't discussing this in front of her brothers, were they? At the same time, Miles's comment made her chuckle inside. She knew he wasn't thrilled to see her fooling around with his best friend; but the great thing about Miles was he would never judge her, or impose stupid double standards on her.

He stayed behind a little longer, as her mum and Hunter left. He leaned back against the doorframe and winked at her with a smile, before following them downstairs. And that, this silly little thing, suddenly made her feel better.

Frankie walked back home from school feeling like crying the entire time. The past few weeks had been a rollercoaster of emotions. Making the Power Cheer team had been awesome, she loved the girls and was becoming fast friends with all of them, especially Lola and Shay. But then Zoë had twisted Frankie's rant about her mum treating her like a baby into the most horrific fundraising idea ever, and everything had changed forever.

Frankie had never been on board with the plan of selling nudes via Oomfchat, and she'd only reluctantly agreed to it because she felt peer-pressured into it. But then that scare she had with Hunter, the thought that her own twin brother could accidentally see her boobs and find them… sexy? She knew then and there she could not continue with the plan. It was not for her, at all. It's not like she'd ever wanted to do it in the first place, either.

But today she got caught. Zoë didn't even let her explain, she just outed her in front of the entire team and forced her to quit. Frankie knew her relationship with Zoë was not the same it once was; it hadn't really been the same after the trial, no matter Zoë's assurance of the contrary. But this was a new low. And oh, it hurt. So much.

She was finally home. Frankie walked through the gate and into their patio, where she found her brothers. They were cackling loudly while basking in the warmth of the spring sun on the lounge chairs. They were leaning into each other, looking conspiratorially at something on their phones and half-laughing, half-arguing.

"Where's Mum and Dad?" she asked, trying to get their attention.

Hunter raised his head from his phone, still giggling. "At a fundraiser with some old wigs," he said.

Miles burst into a wild laugh, and Frankie stopped to look at him, suspicious. Hunter was definitely not being that funny.

"Are you drunk?!" she asked him.

Miles could hardly contain his laughter. "Only a little," he slurred, holding out his finger and thumb to mimic how little.

"The heck, Miles, it's like four in the afternoon!"

Miles just chuckled in response, and Frankie turned to Hunter. "You say anything to him? Or are you two getting wasted together?"

"Gee, Franks. Do you even know me?"

"Anyway, if you excuse us," Miles cut them off, "Hunter and I here were in the middle of an important predicament."

Hunter smirked at their brother. "Oh yeah. Life and death, really."

Frankie rolled her eyes and set to leave. Behind her, Miles turned to Hunter and said, "Let's ask her, she might be able to help us settle this."

"Wait, what?"

"Hey, Frankie!" Miles called her back.

"Stop, what are you doing?" Hunter hissed in a panic. He was trying his best to grab the phone from Miles's hands, and he looked horrified.

"Gee, Hunter, it's just boobs. Don't be such a prude," mumbled Miles, taking his phone back.

Frankie felt all blood draining from her face. This… it couldn't be… oh, crap.

"You guys are disgusting!" she blurted out angrily.

She turned on her heels and ran inside, upstairs to her room. Where she could hide her face in her pillow and cry all she wanted about Power Cheer, and Zoë, and her stupid brothers buying pictures of her friends' boobs without even knowing. She wanted to call Winston and tell him everything, but could she? What would he think of her, then?

She spent the rest of the evening buried in her bed, too shattered to leave the comfort of her room. Maybe tomorrow she'd tell Winston what happened with Zoë. Winston would be on her side.

"Should we… wake him?"

Frankie stood hesitantly next to Hunter, not really knowing what to answer. When their dad had sent them to fetch their brother, they hadn't expected to find him still fast asleep.

"Miles…" she tried calling his name, with no success. "Miles. Miles!"

As her voice got louder, finally her brother half-opened an eye and looked in their general direction.

"What's wrong with you?" she asked – a little concerned, but mostly pissed off.

Miles didn't seem intentioned to get up, like at all.

"Dad says you have to drive us to school," Hunter then informed him.

"Get out!" was Miles's hasty reply, as he turned his back on the two of them and sank back into his pillow.

"No need to be rude…" remarked Hunter.

"Get out, please?" Miles murmured cheekily, his voice drowsy.

"Are you wallowing because Tris is still mad at you for blowing off your history project?" Frankie guessed, "Or are you hungover again?"

"Neither, I'm sleeping!" said Miles, mumbling something incomprehensible. Frankie turned to Hunter, at that, feeling at loss for words.

Right at that moment, their father walked into the room and, without warning, pulled all the covers off of their brother's bed.

"Fine example you're setting for your brother and your sister!" he scolded him, angrily.

"Does no one knock anymore?" asked Miles, running a tired hand over his face.

Their father turned to the twins, grandiosely gesturing at the spectacle in front of them, and started spilling out one of his lectures.

"If you just take a good look, this is everything that you want to avoid being!" he said, and Frankie started feeling a bit uneasy, at that. The feeling didn't improve as their father turned back to Miles, the volume of his voice mounting dangerously with each word. "Get out of bed, clean yourself up, you drive your brother and sister to school! No more skipping, or else!"

When Dad finally marched out of the room, Frankie quietly walked up to retrieve her brother's clothes from his chair, mostly to try and avoid looking at him. She didn't like listening to all this yelling, not one bit. It always made her feel funny. And yes, Miles was late and all, but she wasn't sure he deserved being treated this way. Hunter must have shared her feelings, because she overheard him saying, "He's probably just… stressed out about the campaign," referring to their dad.

"It's okay, Hunter, I've come to accept that I'm a perpetual disappointment," Miles stated coldly as he finally got up.

Frankie's hand then bumped into something bulky in the front pocket of his jacket. She dig inside to check what it was, curious, and saying she was surprised at what she found would be an understatement.

"Where the hell…?"

"Looking for this?" she asked, showing him what appeared to be four ounces of weed.

Miles had the decency to look guilty as he stared back at her.

"C'mon Frankenstein, give it back," he asked feebly.

"What, you can't go one day without getting high?"

"Now!" he demanded, suddenly sounding threatening.

"Fine," she conceded, throwing his stash at him, "But can you at least wait to smoke until after you've driven us to school?"

She wasn't sure she'd done the right thing, giving it back to him. She knew Miles smoked, it's not that, but this looked like an awful lot of drugs to her, although she clearly wasn't an expert. She followed Hunter outside, feeling a sense of disappointment filling her. This wasn't the Miles she knew, skipping school every other day and fetching a joint first thing in the morning.

Most of all, she suddenly felt worried that something very wrong was going on with her brother, something she had missed.

So, the intervention might not have been the best idea, as Tristan had anticipated. When Miles walked in the room he immediately sensed that something was off, even before Hunter spelled out for his benefit what they were there for.

"You knew about this?" Miles asked directly to Tristan, his voice sounding disappointed.

"I was concerned about you… we all are," Tris replied softly, but it didn't seem to go down well.

"I can't believe you did this to me!" Miles accused him, vitriol in his voice.

Gathering her strength, and leaning just a little bit towards Winston for moral support, Frankie started listing all the symptoms of addiction, just like they had rehearsed, with one of the boys stepping in to "check" each of them: poor performance at school, mood swings, secretive behaviour…

"Okay, pot is not my problem, you people are!" Miles snapped, defensive.

"Hey! Don't be such a jerk!" she called him out, offended. They were doing this for him, after all.

"Oh, I'm sorry, did I upset little Frankie?" he attacked her, staring right into her eyes and suddenly making her feel two feet tall. "Look, I know you want to play with the big kids, but the truth is you don't know what the hell you're talking about!"

Frankie was left gaping at him, and it took all she had in her to fight back the tears. She had hardly ever seen Miles this mad, let alone heard him yell at her this angrily. Winston placed a hand on the small of her back, and she held onto the feeling to avoid breaking apart.

"You don't mean this, you're just upset…" Tris chipped in in her defence.

"And you," Miles went on, turning his anger to him, "You went behind my back when I thought you were the one person who understood."

"Well, I do understand!"

"No! You're pathetic, you know that? Tristan, I treat you like absolute garbage and you keep crawling back for more, why? Are you really that desperate for somebody to love you?"

The room went completely quiet at the harshness of his words. Frankie could hardly believe this was her brother talking. Since when was Miles so downright cruel? Tristan looked obviously hurt by the outburst, and he and Miles stood frozen in their spots, staring down at each other.

"Screw this!" Miles finally mumbled, as he picked up and left.

They all were left to stare at his back while he rushed down the corridor. Tristan let out a loud sigh dropping down on the closest chair, and Winston placed a hand on his shoulder, squeezing him gently.

"Well… that went down well…"

Being trapped in the school during the fire was the scariest thing that had ever happened to her. And finding her brothers outside the school, as she finally walked out… Frankie had never been happier to see their stupid faces. They looked crazy worried, too. They almost jumped her, squeezing her into a tight hug. Miles ushered her to the ambulance soon after to get her checked out, and they both patiently waited until she got cleared.

And just as she thought the day was finally getting better, their dad showed up. He didn't even ask how she was, didn't even say he was glad she was ok. She had done this for him. Did he even know, or care? All she had wanted was to prove to him she wasn't guilty of the terrible things she'd been accused of, that she didn't undermine his campaign like he thought she did.

But then, out of nowhere, came the news he had hit Miles, earlier that same day. Her heart sank at Hunter's words, she couldn't believe it. She turned around, looking for her brother's eyes.

"He hit you?" she asked, her voice shaking.

She didn't need him to answer, she could see it on his face: the way his expression changed, the shameful look, the way he avoided their gaze. And she could see it in Hunter's eyes, too.

Suddenly, the fire was not the scariest thing that ever happened to her, anymore.

A couple of weeks later, she was sitting in the den with Miles one evening, some mindless programme on TV glaring in the background. "We've seen Dad's new place, today," she told him, a bit hesitant.

It had been the first time she and Hunter had seen their father since the day Mum kicked him out, and it had been weird. Apparently, their parents had had a hearing with their lawyers, and decided that the twins should spend every other weekend with their dad. They had started slowly, today, just an afternoon visit, to get them used to the idea. Miles was over 16, meaning he could choose whether he wanted to see Dad or not, so they had obviously gone without him.

"It's a nice place, in a high-rise downtown," she continued. "The view is insane, and we have a room for ourselves, and-"

"Frankie," he interrupted her, wincing uncomfortably, "Can we please not talk about this?"

She nodded, silencing herself.

She was blabbering, anyway, she knew it. Truth is, seeing her dad had made her incredibly nervous, earlier, and she didn't even know exactly why. Maybe because last time she had seen him he had hurt her so much, with his careless words. Maybe because she still had flashes of him hitting her brother anytime she saw his face. Hunter had been a little tense too, at first, but she knew how much he missed Dad, even though he never showed it openly, so she hadn't really been surprised when he had warmed up to him quite quickly. She, however, wasn't quite ready to move on, not yet. Merely looking at her father gave her a stomach ache. Did this make her a horrible daughter?

She shot a glance to Miles, who seemed lost in his thoughts, still looking on the fence. What if she eventually did move on, she wondered. Would that make her a horrible sister?

"So?" he asked her, expectation in his voice, "Have you told him?"


She let out a sight, unable to look at him. Only yesterday, as she ran away from her own birthday party, all she had wanted was to never have to see their father again. But then they had talked, like really talked, one on one, like it hadn't happened in months – years, even. And now… Frankie was confused, a turmoil of emotions inside her. She had cried, he had cried, they had been honest with each other in a way they never had before.

"What happened?" Miles asked urgently, misunderstanding her hesitation, "What did he do?"

She could see him getting agitated, and she stared right into his eyes to keep him grounded.

"He told me he's willing to work," she said, simply.

Miles looked astounded. "And… and you believed him?"

The hurt in his voice was hard to miss, and she lowered her gaze, nodding ever so slightly.

"I told him I'm willing to work, too."

A heavy silence followed her confession, and she could sense how Miles felt betrayed at her words.

"Why would you want to keep seeing him?" he exploded, "Have you already forgotten what he's done to us? To you?"

"Never!" she cried, tears already forming in her eyes, "I'll never, ever forget what he did!"

He was looking at her with puzzled eyes, like trying to understand her.

"Then why are you giving him a second chance?" he questioned in disbelief.

"Because, Miles. He's our dad!"

She saw that this wasn't what he wanted to hear; she saw a little piece of him breaking inside him.

"We might carry his name, but he's nothing to me. And I thought you wanted out, too!" he accused her.

"I did!"

"Then what changed?"

She shrugged, unable to answer, tears now rolling freely down her cheeks.

"Well, it's your choice. But don't come back crying to me, when he hurts you again," he spat out, as he turned his back on her and left.

The last few weeks of the term seemed to fly away in a whirlwind of stress, between family drama, schoolwork, and the musical. School was almost out, now, only finals left before the summer, and Frankie was ready for it. It was a Friday night, and she and Miles were going through a marathon of old seasons of Lost in the den when their mother nipped through the doorway.

"Frankie, your father called. He can't make it this weekend, so you and Hunter are going to stay here. Okay?"

Frankie stopped mid-air from stealing some pop-corn from the bowl Miles was hogging.

"Oh… okay," she said, feebly.

The atmosphere in the room was hardly the same, after that. She could feel Miles's eyes on her, and she could sense him internally debating whether to say anything to her. She knew he was uncomfortable, and it was making her uncomfortable. Truth is, she was disappointed, although she didn't want to say anything in front of her brother. Dad had promised to try harder, and yet this was already the second weekend he cancelled, and on top of that he had missed her musical performance, the other night. She knew his job kept him occupied most of the time, but she couldn't help feeling like he wasn't putting all his effort into their relationship.

Frankie barely paid any attention to the TV for the next half an hour. Once the final credits started rolling, Miles stood up and started clearing up the coffee table in front of them, piling up their mugs and dishes and wiping the crumbs from the surface.

"Wait, are we not watching another one?" she asked, confused.

"Nah, I'm going to bed."

"At 10 p.m.? It's Friday, Miles."

"Yeah, and I'm getting an early start tomorrow," he reminded her, "I'm trying to finish up my community service before summer and I still have a few hours to cram, so…"

He grabbed the pile of dirty dishes and headed over to the kitchen. After a beat, Frankie picked up the soda bottles and followed him.

So many things had changed, recently, there was no denying it. The mere idea of her brother being home, let alone sober and ready for bed, this early on a weekend night was pretty much foreign to her. And if she stopped to think about it, Frankie could point out a number of other subtle changes in Miles. He was keeping to himself a lot more than he ever had – what with Tristan dumping him, and all the hours of community service, and Winston ditching him for her or for the musical or both. Yet despite all this, Miles seemed… happier?

Frankie and Hunter were struggling to adapt to their new family dynamic, but Miles seemed to be flourishing in their father's absence. She tried to focus on this, instead of on her disappointment at yet another let-down. Plus, school was almost over, and summer practically upon them. Soon Frankie would get to spend much more time with her dad, once she started her internship at City Hall. One weekend was not such a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

She sneaked a look towards her brother, stuffing his face with the last of the popcorn before placing the empty bowl in the dishwasher. He was quieter, lately, but not in a bad way. More like he had finally dropped part of his old facade, the part he didn't want or need anymore. He was doing great in school, his average back up in every subject. He was staying out of trouble. He wasn't being yelled at, or beaten, or hurt. Things were good, and she was grateful for it.

July came and went. This summer was proving full of surprises, but none of them greater than seeing her brother waltzing in their patio with none other than Zoë in tow, hands all over and eating each others' faces out not two meters from her. Frankie was so shocked that she didn't even say anything, at first, she just retreated in her room as quickly as she could. The sooner she got away from them, the better.

Now that Zoë had left, though, she was dead-set on giving Miles a piece of her mind.

"What, you're dating her now?!" she confronted him head-on. Her whole body was shaking with rage, and she could barely keep herself from exploding in front of him. Miles looked up to her from his seat on the sofa, eyes wide and apologetic.

"Well… yeah, I'm kind of seeing her again," he murmured sheepishly.

Frankie could not believe him. After all that Zoë had done to make her life miserable, How could he do this to her? Did none of that have any meaning, for Miles?


"Franks, I'm not discussing my private life with you…"

"Well, in this specific instance I'd say you owe me that much!"

Miles took a deep breath at her outburst, probably trying to refrain from saying something he would later regret.

"Look, I know she hurt you-"

"She didn't just hurt me, Miles!" Frankie cut him off, furious, "She forced me to sell naked pictures of myself, and then tried to blame it on me when it backfired! She ruined my life!"

"She screwed up, big time," he conceded, "But I, of all people, don't feel like I'm entitled to hold that against anyone."

She just stared right at him, without budging. She knew what he was doing, playing the pity card, but it wouldn't work.

"Hey, it's not like I'm in love with her or anything, okay?"

Was that supposed to make her feel better?

"Oh, so you're just doing it to make me miserable?" she retorted. Angry tears were making their way to her eyes now, much to her dismay.

Miles looked at her in astonishment, wide eyes betraying his confusion. "What are you talking about?"

"I'm talking about you, Miles, screwing the girl who tormented my existence!"

It was the loudest she'd been in living memory – her throat burning uncomfortably from it – and Miles went completely still in front of her.

"I know you're mad right now," he said very quietly, purposely holding her gaze, "But I'd really appreciate it if you didn't yell at me."

Frankie snorted. It was a bit rich, coming from him, wasn't it? Still, she dropped down on the sofa next to him, took a deep breath, forced herself to calm down and continue on more civil terms. It was something they'd talked about, in family therapy: how even though shouting might temporarily make us feel better, it doesn't do much to improve communication in the long run. It was funny how Miles, who had been the King of Yelling his entire life, was now the quickest to ascribe to this new philosophy.

"She's had a rough year, to say the least," Miles continued, "But before all of this happened, Zoë and I were friends. I'm willing to give her another chance."

It was hard for her to accept that. She sat quietly for a little while, his words resonating between them. When she spoke again, it was barely a whisper.

"She was my friend too, you know? Before everything," she reminded him, a tear escaping from her eyes, "And it still hurts!"

Miles didn't respond to that, but he hesitantly placed a hand on her knee. Frankie didn't protest, although the gesture didn't do much to make her feel better.

"I'm not asking you to stop seeing her," she continued – although a part of her really wished she had the guts to demand just that. "I'd just appreciate it if you stopped rubbing it in my face."

She was surprised at the lack of vitriol in her own voice, she actually didn't sound angry at all anymore. Miles was eyeing her sheepishly, probably feeling a bit guilty about it all.

"I'm sorry, Franks," he said, his voice low.

Frankie stayed quiet, pulling her legs up on the sofa to hug her knees. She closed her eyes, trying to hide her tears from Miles. She felt him moving, getting up and shifting around her. He placed a gentle kiss on her head before leaving.

It was the last week of summer already, and some kids from school were throwing a party down at the beach at Bluffer's Park. It was a beautiful, sunny day, perfect for the occasion. And yet here she was, sitting on the sand by herself, wallowing in her own self-pity.

She didn't really feel like talking to anyone, but by the time she noticed Miles approaching her, she knew it was too late to avoid him.

"What's wrong, Frankenstein?" he asked, the slightest hint of worry in his voice.

Frankie felt his eyes on her as he stood there, hovering above her in anticipation.

"I messed up," she confessed, raising her eyes to meet his. "Winston broke up with me."

Miles face twisted into a kinder expression, the faintest sympathetic smile curving his lips. He crouched down on the sand next to her and he sighed, resting his elbows on his knees.

"You know," he said softly, after a few moments of silence, "it doesn't seem like it now, but you'll find someone better. Then, all of this will seem like it didn't even happen."

She turned to look at him, only to find him staring into the distance, above the water. Miles taking time to console her was not a scenario she had anticipated, she almost couldn't believe it.

He suddenly turned his head back towards her and gave her a mischievous smile.

"His loss, anyway," he commented, shoving playfully at her side, "You were way out of his league…"

She chuckled, unable to help it. Disobedient tears had defied her will, by now, and her laugh came out as a choked sob. She sniffed, trying to wipe her face dry on the back of her hands. God, she was such a mess, Miles must think she was the biggest loser…

But he didn't. Her brother had a gentle smile on his face, as he wrapped an arm around her shoulders and pulled her close. She leaned into his side and closed her eyes, feeling a bit sorry for herself.

"Come on," he finally said, when her breathing had gone back to normal and her tears had stopped coming, "Let's go dancing."

He stood up and held a hand out for her. She shook her head with a smile, looking at him from below, then grabbed his hand and let him pull her up. It was a party, after all. Time to have some fun.

"Whoah, what's that?"

Miles words reached her as soon as she left her room. School was back in session, which meant that although it was barely past seven in the morning, Frankie was already perfectly dressed. The same didn't apply to her dumb brother, who was sporting some navy blue joggers and a crumpled white t-shirt, his bed-hair a mess, and the most comical astounded expression on his face.

"What's what," Frankie confronted him, although she knew exactly where this was going.

Miles stared at her expressively. "Your hair?" he pointed out the obvious.

Frankie shrugged. "I just wanted to change."

"Not this change, you didn't," he decided.

"What the hell, Miles?!" she called him out. "It's way too early in the morning for your crap. Move!" And she went past him, looking forward to her breakfast downstairs. Miles wasn't of the same mind, and he just trailed on behind her.

"So, you're telling me it was intentional? You actually wanted these god-awful platinum streaks and all? You want me to believe this is not some type of twisted cry for help?"

"Gee, Miles, leave me alone, it's just hair!"

"Like, Hunter," he pulled their brother in as soon as he unknowingly opened his door to the hall. Hunter looked completely caught off guard.


"What do you think about Frankie's new style?"

Hunter's facial expression was screaming that he would rather be anywhere else right now.

"What about it?" he asked, drowsily.

"Haven't you noticed Frankie's new hair? Jesus, Hunter!?"

Hunter glanced uninterestedly towards her, looking unimpressed.

"Looks fine to me," he shrugged, and then swiftly defiled into the bathroom.

Frankie crossed her arms, raising an eyebrow to Miles. Miles rolled his eyes in response.

"Fine, whatever." He moved closer to her, hands raised in defeat. "Just know that you don't fool me for a second, sister."

And, with that, he ran downstairs to the kitchen.

Frankie stood behind, all appetite suddenly lost. She tried telling herself that Miles was just pissed, his stupid ego still crushed after Tristan stole the Student Council presidency from him, and he was taking it out on her. Who cared what Miles thought of her hair, anyway, right?

She just wanted to look different, and there was nothing wrong with that. All the changes of the last few months had changed her, too. All she wanted was to show on the outside just a little of what was going on on the inside. Because the thing is, Frankie had her heart stomped over and crushed into little pieces more times than she cared to remember, in the last six months: by Zoë, by her dad, by Winston. And it's not like she could talk to Miles about any of this, now, was it.

She just wished somebody would acknowledge that things were different, now, and that she couldn't just turn a new page and go on as if nothing happened. She wasn't the same girl she had been only months ago. And the thing is – she wasn't sure the people she loved would like this new Frankie as much as the old one.

It was maybe one month into Grade 10 when their mother announced she was seeing their father again. All Frankie could feel, underneath Hunter's excitement and their mum's reassurance that no, Dad wasn't going to move back in for now, was Miles tensing, hard as a piece of rock. She hadn't seen him retreating into his head like this since – well, since their father had left. She had almost forgotten what it looked like.

"Screw this…" he muttered under his breath as he stood up and left.

Her eyes rushed automatically towards Hunter, and she saw her own worry and concern reflected in her twin's suddenly smile-less face.

Later, at school, she realised that she hadn't even let herself process how she felt about the news. Things with her dad were going well; her summer job had been good on that front, and she could honestly say they had a better relationship now than they'd had in years. But she couldn't ignore Miles's reaction, his tense shoulders and bewildered eyes. She couldn't disregard the way his face dropped every time their father's name was mentioned. She couldn't forget, as much as she wanted to.

Again, just like that day after her Gatsby party, she felt like she had to choose between her dad and her brother. And it was a choice she wasn't prepared to make.

Her mum seemed determined to make it work, though, and family dinners with Dad became a weekly occurrence. Miles never showed up. The few times he did – an hour late, when all food was gone and their father was actually leaving – he was visibly drunk, or high, or both.

And she tried to see things from his side, she really did. She knew Dad had hurt him the most of all of them, and she appreciated he wasn't ready to forgive. Still, sometimes she wished he would just show up, for once, sit down next to her and eat his food, and let Dad at least try to make amends. Was this too much to ask?

After breaking up with Winston, Frankie hadn't seen much of him – out of mutual desire to avoid any unnecessary contact. This made it all the more unexpected, when she suddenly found him asleep in her patio, of all places. She literally stumbled upon him, waking him up abruptly. He was waiting for Miles to show up for their history project, he said. He sounded quite exasperated.

"He never comes home anymore," she offered. She wasn't sure whether she'd said it to make him feel better, but it was true; Miles lately avoided their home like the plague. He avoided his friends, too. He spent all his time with that girl he was dating now, which was typical Miles, but it wasn't just that. He had changed, he was shady all the time. "He's on drugs…" Frankie hesitantly confessed, voicing her fears.

"I think he's on an entire pharmacy…" Winston flung back, a bit too casually for her liking. She was almost certain he was right, but still. This was her brother they were talking about. She didn't want it to be true. She wanted Miles to come back home, hang out with Winston as he used to, hell, she even wanted him to start teasing her again. Above all, she wanted him to pull out a casual joint and tell them, Just kidding, this is the worst drug I've ever done!

"What's wrong, Franks?" Winston cautiously asked, shaking her out of her thoughts. He was looking at her like he was genuinely worried about her, and Frankie imagined her face must be a picture, right now, to get this reaction out of him.

"This isn't your job anymore!" she hastily silenced him because God, she missed him, right now. But she couldn't go all mushy on him, it wasn't fair. This wasn't even about Winston, this was about her life suddenly turning into a bad soap opera.

"I know but… you're sad, I'm here…" Winston started, not in the least affected by her attempt to push him away.

She didn't even realise what she was doing, but suddenly she was blabbering all sorts of things to him. How she felt like she didn't know who she was anymore; how her friends seemed to want her to act the same as she used to, but she couldn't just do that while she felt so different inside. Everything had been so much easier last year, she just wished…

"I wish we could go back," she found herself saying, without even considering the implications of her words, what Winston might think of them.

For a moment, she caught her breath in anticipation for his reaction. She wanted to bite her own stupid tongue, how could she have said something so senseless? It was true, sure, she wished she could go back. As in, back when life made sense, back when she wasn't constantly worried about Miles, back when her dad and her brother could be under the same roof without drugs being involved.

She looked sheepishly towards Winston, trying to check if she had completely freaked him out. She hadn't; Winston was looking at her with his gentle, caring eyes. Then, he gave her a soft smile.

"I wish we could, too."

The phone was ringing as she fidgeted nervously, waiting for Miles to pick up.

"Hello?" his voice finally said at the other end of the line, sounding like he had just woken up this minute.

"Good, you're not dead," she sighed in relief, "So where the heck are you?"

"Frankie?" he questioned, confused. Yes, dummy! she wanted to scream, but she refrained from it.

"Mum said to get you up for school, but you're not here. So, I ask again, where are you?" she went on instead, and she couldn't help but notice that her voice came out nervous and broken. She wondered if he noticed it, too.

She couldn't understand his reply, as he mumbled something unintelligible about grass and trees, which made her sigh quietly in exasperation.

"Look, if you don't want to tell me where you are fine, but what do I tell Mum?" she asked, trying to suppress her worry. He was fine, he was talking to her.

She heard him hesitate, like he didn't know himself.

"Just… tell her that I'm at school early," he finally responded, almost making her laugh.

"Like anyone would believe that…" she remarked, sarcastic.

"Tell her I'm in the shower," he corrected his story. "I'm going to grab a taxi, I'll be home soon." A weird pause followed, in which she heard him cursing at something. "…except that I have no wallet!" he finally spat out.

"Check your pants!" she suggested, concern rising again: had he been attacked? Robbed?

"…Definitely not there," he retorted, a hint of something in his voice that she couldn't quite place.

"Then I guess I'll bring you some clean clothes…" she offered before hanging up. The day hadn't even started, and she was already feeling incredibly tired.

She would strangle him, one of these days, she thought, as she collected a clean pair of jeans and a shirt from his closet. She tossed them angrily in her bag, getting ready to lie to their mum to cover for him. She just hoped he was okay.

She couldn't believe their mother hadn't called them sooner. Apparently they had been in the hospital for a few hours already, when she finally thought to pick up the phone and call home. Frankie was hanging out with Hunter. They had finished their homework and were about to order in pizza, as nobody seemed to be showing up for dinner. Then the phone rang, and she picked up.

The words passed through her without her really grasping their meaning, at first. Miles. Hospital. Drugs. She blinked a few times in silence, staring straight into Hunter's eyes, but without even seeing him. She only realised he was talking to her when he started shaking her.


His eyes were wide and worried, and she finally got back into herself.

"We'll be there soon!" she whispered to her mum over the phone, before hanging up.

Hunter was still staring questioningly at her, waiting for an explanation.

"Miles's at the hospital," she said, plainly.

She saw his face drop, and she thought that this must be one of those rare moments in which they actually did look like twins, because she knew the panicked features in front of her were a perfect mirror of her own, down to the very details.

The rest of the evening involved a lot of waiting. Waiting for the cab; waiting for information at the hospital desk; waiting for their mother to come out of his room to meet them, only to be asked to wait outside to see him.

Frankie kept pacing up and down the corridor, and the only reason she didn't go completely mental was Hunter's presence, even though he was literally not doing anything, sitting in a corner with his headphones on, spacing out. It just made it somehow bearable, to know that someone else in close proximity felt exactly what she felt.

Their mother came to them, finally, announcing their brother was asleep.

"Can we see him?" she asked, rushing to her feet.

She nodded her permission. "Be quiet," she just said, and Frankie entered the room feeling like she was walking among clouds. It all felt surreal.

Miles looked smaller than she had ever seen him, buried in the hospital bed. He had a big square patch on his forehead, and he looked sweaty and tormented. Even in his sleep, his breathing was heavy and irregular. She wondered what he was seeing, in his dreams.

She took a seat in the plastic chair by his bed, and she felt Hunter approaching just behind her. She couldn't keep her eyes off Miles, although her vision was getting blurry with new tears. What had just happened? And, most importantly, why had she done nothing? She knew he was going down the hill, she had seen it, she had worried about him. The thought of what might have happened hit her right in her guts, and she suddenly couldn't breathe properly.

Hours passed in a haze. Both Hunter and her mother tried to get her to move from that chair, first to eat something, then to go home and rest, but they didn't succeed. She eventually dozed off for a little while, leaning over the edge of the hospital bed, Miles's sweaty hand in hers. Their mum was resting in a little armchair by the window, and Hunter alternated between sitting on the floor in a corner and venturing out of the room. He was out, right now, in search for some coffee, or some soda, she didn't even know.

She felt Miles waking up, before anything else. It was like an imperceptible twitch, and a feeling in her tummy, and when she raised her eyes to him she saw his were half open, looking drowsy but awake. Frankie leaned back in her seat, turning her head to search the room. Their mother was still napping, and hadn't noticed anything yet. Hunter was still out. She was alone with her brother.

She wanted to ask him, How are you feeling? She wanted to know, What happened? But the words died in her throat. Tears filled her eyes as she focused back on him, staring painfully back.

Her chest tightened uncomfortably, and a scary, abrupt fury suddenly overpowered her. She felt weirdly detached from her body as she rose from her chair, heart racing and head dizzy. Without warning, and surprising even herself, she suddenly stomped both her fists, hard, on his chest. And again. And again. A chocked sound escaped him, and she just kept going, letting out all of her frustration on him, and all the fear she had felt.

"What… Francesca!"

Her mother's voice reached her like in a dream, and she barely registered it. There was nothing else in the room, nothing apart from Frankie and her stupid, stupid brother, who took stupid drugs and passed out stupidly on the street, and was alive, alive

"You could have died!" she choked hysterically, her words unintelligible amongst her sobbing.

"Stop it, stop it this second!" her mum was yelling, while frantically crossing the room to reach her side of the bed.

But it wasn't her mother who eventually pulled her off of Miles. It was Hunter. She hadn't even heard him walk back in, but she suddenly felt his hands hold her decisively by the shoulders and force her up. She leaned back into him, letting sobs and tears completely overcome her.

An awkward atmosphere filled the air around them. Their mother was tearing up in silence at the foot of the bed, a hand covering her mouth. Hunter's arms were wrapped tightly around her body, blocking her movements. His head was so close to hers she could feel him breathing, warm air against her skin each time he exhaled. A fast heartbeat was filling her head, pounding like crazy, and she couldn't tell if it was hers or her twin's. And Miles, Miles was crying, too. His head turned towards the opposite corner, but she could still see it: hot tears tracing lines down his cheeks, skin red from the effort.

What had she just done? Of all the people who didn't need to be hit, Miles was on top of the list, and she knew it all too well. She felt a shameful sense of guilt expanding in her chest, stretching out until it filled her entire being.

Hunter loosened his grip around her, eventually, when she stopped shaking. He and her mother both tensed visibly as she moved back towards Miles, but they both relaxed as they saw her drop down at his side and lock her arms around his neck.

"I'm sorry!" she whispered in his ear. Miles didn't respond, he just wrapped his arms feebly around her. "You really, really scared me…" she continued, and her voice broke into a quiet sob.

She felt his grip tighten around her shoulders as he hid his face against her collarbone. His tears were wetting her shirt, reaching her skin underneath, and she thought that this was the absolute lowest she had ever seen her brother: scared, hurt, and drugged up, crying in her arms.

And she couldn't stop thinking how incredibly grateful she was that he was alive.