Yeah, yeah. I know…it's been like, FOREVER since I've written anything. Blame school, cause I can. But anyways, yes I'm updating and I'm going to try to keep updating b/c in my notebook…we've suddenly reached a climactic moment, and here…I haven't even gotten to the goods, yet. Oh, dear, the time just flies by so fast. Plus, this chapter's a little bit longer than the rest, and I do hope that you will WANT to keep reading after this point.

Anyways, I don't own RENT, though I give all credit to Jonathan Larson for creating it and the people you don't recognize are mine. If you wanna use 'em, please let me know.

We walked back to the apartment and I waved goodbye as I got ready for work. I was in the shower when I heard a knock on the bathroom door.

"One sec!" I yelled, quickly shutting off the water. I grabbed a towel and heard the knocking again. "Hold on. I'm coming!"

"Come on, Kay! I have to go." I was surprised when I opened the door to see Mark standing there.

"Go? Go where?"

"Maureen called and asked me to go and help set up her stage with Joanne. I don't know how that's going to go, but I saw Collins and Angel and they said you couldn't come?"

I nodded, pulling my hair up in a bun. "I have to work. I told you that Mike wouldn't let me. It's only my second week, and even though he's going, Mike's making all the new girls work. It's really not fair." He stood there, gawking at me when I felt the blood rush to my face: I hadn't put the towel around me. It was just in my hand. "Shit…MARK!"

"Right! Sorry, um…" He quickly slammed the door, and I chuckled. Oh, Mark. You and your innocence. I wrapped the towel around me, and opened the door to a cherry-red faced friend.

"I'm covered, it's okay." Mark turned around stammering, but I waved him off. "Don't worry about it, hon. Why did you need to talk to me?"

He smiled, pressing his lips to mine. "I just wanted to do that. Like I said, Maureen called. Jo can't get some boxes out of the truck. Roger and Mimi…"

"Are out? I'm not surprised. They're attached at the hip now."

Mark nodded. "Yeah. Collins and Angel are…going somewhere, and Maureen's rehearsing."

"Okay. I'll have to get dressed and then you can walk me down to work. How does that sound?" I turned to go back into the bathroom, but he pulled me close and kissed me. He was always a gentleman, always polite and careful around me.

"That sounds like a plan." Mark pushed me towards the bathroom and chuckled. I didn't notice it until the door was halfway closed, that I felt the lack of cotton around me and shook my head.

"You took my towel, didn't you."

He laughed and threw it to me. "Sorry, Kay. I just couldn't resist." Mark walked out the apartment door and let me get dressed.

"He's not here, girls. Mike went to the show." I walked off stage, my boots clacking against the hardwood and sat down in the chair next to Fritz, the stage manager. He was trying to explain that Mike had taken the day off and given Fritz the manager duties. "Mike told you when he gave you your Christmas bonuses."

"I don't remember getting a bonus." One of the girls, Claudia, replied.

"Remember when Mike took you up to the room and gave you $50?" Another girl asked. Claudia thought for a minute before smiling and nodding. Unfortunately, I was the only brunette working tonight, and I was not happy. Luckily, I was barely able to make the rental fee for the Life Café. When Fritz asked what I was going to do, he happily gave me a twenty and gave me the rest of the night off.

"You've been dealing with this shit for too long, Katherine. Go ahead, they won't notice. The drunkards always want the blondes. Nothing in the head…"

"Everything down low." I laughed and hugged Fritz. It was our saying for the girls that worked here, because, to be honest, they couldn't keep it in their panties. He was a gentle giant and many people just thought of him as a bouncer. Well...he was the bouncer for the Cat Scratch, but Fritz always seemed to like stage managing more than bouncing. I waved goodbye and walked out the back. As soon as I got to the loft, I changed and let my hair fall. It wasn't usually curly, but I was rushed with Mark, so it was going to have to do. I changed into my favorite jeans and into a tank top and jacket, pulled my heels on and walked the two blocks to the café.

"Kay, are you sure?"

"Yeah, but it's such a late reservation. Can you still do it, Steve?" I gave him my best pout. He laughed and nodded.

"Don't worry, babe. I can clear this place out, especially for Maureen. That chick has brought so many people here; I shouldn't have her pay tabs." Steve grabbed a beer glass from the sink and washed it. "She's really one of the reasons I'm still in business. If things don't go well tonight, I might have to close shop."

I looked at him like he was crazy, but the look in his eye was all but. "Seriously? How can that be? You've always got such great money coming in!"

He shook his head. "Not anymore. Every week when I count the money, there's always a couple hundred missing. I double check it, but it's missing every week." He poured me a beer and sighed. "Hopefully, Maureen's protest will be able to bring that much in. Now, when do you need this place cleared out?"

My eyes shifted everywhere around the restaurant, but Steve knew that he wasn't going to be happy with the end response. "Kay? When do you need it cleared out?" I mumbled something and Steve leaned in to hear what I had said.

"Damn it, Kay! I need to know so that if it's in a couple hours I can get people…"

"It's in an hour!" I screamed. Fury built in his eyes and he shook his head.

"An hour? Are you fucking kidding me?"

I looked at the clock and did the math in my head. "Yeah, actually. It'll be more like an hour and a half, but there aren't that many people, though! You could just let them stay, they wouldn't mind!"

Steve sighed, closing his eyes and shook his head. "Kay, I can't clear this place out. Benjamin's father-in-law and some of his business friends are coming in tonight…in an hour and a half. They're here to talk about the 'Cyber' cafe that Benjamin's planning." He walked out in front of the bar, thinking. I stared at him, nearly glaring daggers.

"Steve! That's the whole fucking point of Maureen's protest!" I jumped off the stool and pulled him into the alleyway outside. The snow flitted against the dim lighting and it had already covered a couple of inches on the ground. "When did they call?"

He jerked his arm out of my grip. "They called about ten minutes before you got here. They're paying me triple what you're going to give me."

"So? That's just to rent it! You'll be getting more business when everyone from the protest comes here."

He slowly walked around me, looking at me like I was a piece of fillet minion. Remembering what I had been told, I turned with him, never letting him see my back. He just walked around me, his eyes moving up and down my body. "No, Katherine. What are you going to give me? You walk in here looking like a fine piece of something and expect me to just do nothing?"

Steve's eyes fueled his instinct, his arms reaching towards me. I slapped them away, but he shortened the distance and pulled me towards his body. I struggled, trying to get one hand free, but Steve just held me in place.

"I've been watching you, Katherine. I've watched you for some time now with that albino pumpkin head mother…"

"His name is Mark and don't you dare insult my boyfriend in front of me!" I quickly pulled away from him and slapped him; a stinging pain from my hand arose. He growled and slapped me back with a force that brought me to the alley floor. Steve climbed on top of me, his weight pinning me to the cold, icy ground and ripped my tank top open. He kissed my chest, making his way up to my lips. I turned away from him, but he just slapped me again and again; tears burned my eyes and ran down my cheek. I could feel him tugging my jeans down and laughing.

"I don't care what I call that fucker of a boyfriend. He doesn't deserve you, Kay...I do. He's never done anything for you. Always the gentleman, that Cohen boy. There's never a moment where he loses his anger. He's probably never fucked you like I'm going to."

I could feel him against me, pushing himself closer and closer to me. I tried crying out for help, tried pushing Steve off of me, but he just laughed harder. He slapped me again, and I could only see black.

"Here goes…here goes…"

"Roger, what's that?"

"Hm? What's what?"

"That. That lump in the snow…I think it's moving."

"Mimi, that's silly. Why would someone be out here in…"


"Oh, god. Kay! Katherine! Go inside and get Mark and Collins. Call an ambulance!"

"Okay…oh, god Roger…"

"Mimi, go!...It's okay, sis. I'm here. I've got you."

"Roger? What the hell is going on? Why is Collins calling…no…"

"Mark, we just found her."

"Here's my coat. Oh, god Roger. Wh…who did this?"

"I don't know, Mark, but I swear to God we're going to find the bastard and make him pay."

"Hey guys, what's going on? Why is Collins calling 911?"

"Steve...I don't know when it happened, but Kay's…"

"Oh my god. It looks like…"

"I don't care what it looks like! She's hurt and we've got to get her to a hospital! Tell everyone in there to make a clear space for the EMS."

"You got it, Mark."

"You're going to be okay, sis. We…we're getting you to a hospital."

"Kay, please don't go yet. I can't stand to lose you."

Aaaaaaaannnnnddd….cliffhangers: a writer's way of saying "Stay tuned!" A holiday present, I guess you could say. But don't worry, the next installment is going to be up soon, I promise! I'm going to write a helluva lot this week and next so be ready for some CRAZY antics. Reviews are always a wonderful piece of writing as is all, but THESE thrive. LOVE ALL YOU READERS!