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Love is for Conformists

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3rd person POV

Stan Marsh was just walking out of class, looking for his long time girlfriend Wendy Testaburger so they could walk home together. She was so excited when they reached high school and, despite their on and off relationship, were still going steady. She wouldn't stop gushing about how they were high school sweethearts which sometimes got annoying but he had to admit the way her eyes lit up was cute.

"Stan?" Her voice was unusually timid as he found her waiting by his locker.

"What's up babe?" He smiled and she sighed as she looked away.

"I have to talk to you about something serious." He raised an eyebrow, this probably didn't have to do with her regular "girl struggles" she often complained to him about.

"Okay, what do you want to talk about?"

"Well, I'm not sure how to say it and I don't want to sugarcoat it so I'll just say it. Im breaking up with you." She stared into his eyes and he blinked.

"Why this time? Did I forget something important?" His lack of reaction got her upset.

"No Stan! Im breaking up with you for real! As in, we're not going to get back together, ever!" His eyes widened at her words.

"What! Why?" He couldn't believe what she was saying. Sure they'd broken up a few times in the past, but they always eventually got back together after things were patched up.

"I just don't see us really having a future together, sorry, I hope we can still be friends." She turned around before he could respond, her hair lightly whipping him in the face as she practically ran off. He stared after her, a sinking feeling in his gut.

"There's no way I'd believe that lame excuse." He tightened his hands into fists.

"Woah, what's wrong Stan?" Kyle asked from behind him and he turned around as he crossed his arms.

"Wendy just broke up with me."

"Again?" Kenny snickered and Cartman rolled his eyes as they heard the news.

"You don't get it Kyle, she said it was for real this time, that we were never getting back together ever again."

"Oh, but why?"

"She gave me some bullshit excuse." He swung his backpack onto his shoulders and marched out of the school.

"So what are you going to do?" His friends followed him.

"I'm going to her house, there's no way I'm going to be left hanging like that without a proper reason."

"I say you ditch her, Wendy Testaburger is a major bitch and you act like a pussy whenever she's around." Cartman shoved some chips in his mouth and Stan glared.

"Shut up Cartman." He went off in the direction to her house and his friends stopped following him.

"Good luck dude." Kyle called to him and he waved without looking as he ran down the street toward the large house. He impatiently hit the doorbell a few times and tapped his foot as he waited until it finally opened.

"Is Wendy-" He expected to see Wendy's mom, dad, or even the girl herself. Who he didn't expect was to see one of the only black kids in South Park.

"Oh hey Stan, what's up?"

"Token! What the hell are you doing here?" At this point Wendy came to the door and shook her head.

"You don't know when to quit Stan, I already broke up with you but I guess you didn't take me seriously." He saw Token shrug in an unapologetic if not slightly confused manner before the door was slammed in his face and he couldn't help but stare at the wood for a few minutes before numbly walking away in a sense of déjà vu.

"Token? Why Token again?..." He mumbled to himself as he walked home. Suddenly when Stan doesn't have a girlfriend anymore, all the couples in South Park seemingly decided to go out at the same time, doing lovey-dovey things that only made him feel worse. He barely remembered opening the door to his house and walking inside, or his mom asking how school was. "Fine..." He muttered and walked upstairs, letting himself fall facedown in bed still absorbing what just happened. He gripped the front of his shirt and turned over, remembering the last time this happened and the events that came with it. "My heart... My soul..." He mumbled before his eyes slightly widened in realization and he quickly got up, looking through his closet to find as much of his black clothing as he could.

"Stanley, where are you going?" His mom was making cookies in the kitchen as he ran downstairs.

"Just with some friends!" He ran out of his house and towards a house he had only visited a few times many years ago, dressed in black jeans, an ash grey tshirt, and changed his regular beanie for a black one, running down the street to the only people he knew wouldn't shun away his pain. He got to the front door and knocked quickly, a sweet looking woman opened the door and greeted him with a smile.

"Hello there, a friend of Henrietta's?" He nodded while catching his breath and she let him in. "Dear, a little friend of yours is here." She called up the stairs.

"Whatever mom, just let whoever it is up." The door didn't open but he could hear Henrietta call back.

"Alright hun! I'll be right there with some snacks, okay?" She smiled at Stan as he went up the stairs toward an out of place black door, knocking on it.

"What do you want?" He opened the door and saw a familiar sight, expect everyone was just older. Henrietta with still chubby with huge boobs, Michael was tall and lanky with thick curly hair at the top of his head, Pete's bangs were still long with red highlights in them, and Firkle was probably in middle school now. "Oh, it's you. Tired of being a conformist?"

"I need your help." They all took a drag of their cigarettes in sync.

"That much is obvious." Pete rolled his eyes.

Chapter Text

3rd person POV

"So your girlfriend ditched you again?" Stan ended his explanation and that was the only thing Henrietta asked. He nodded and she sighed, letting smoke puff out from her lips.

"Yeah, basically..." He sighed, rubbing the back of his neck a little awkwardly, and she took a deep drag from her cigarette. 

"So what are you going to do? Beg her to forgive you by trying to be some white knight on a nonexistent horse like our parents wanted us to believe was real?" Pete leaned back in the beanbag chair he was sitting on, flipping his bangs out of his face as he spoke. "Shit like that only happens in those fake fucking fairytales."

"Love isn't real, it's all just a hallucination created by some chemical reaction in your brain." Firkle added softly from the corner of the room.

"I wish I had understood that sooner before getting my heart torn out and shred into a million pieces right in front of me." Stan sighed and sat on the dark wood floor, carful not to knock over any candles.

"Only conformists have hearts, we threw ours away a long time ago." Michael offered Stan a smoke, he didn't smoke but appreciated it and graciously took it. "Can't hurt what you don't have." Someone snorted loudly and Michael's eyes narrowed.

"I wouldn't be talking if I were you Michael, seems like you'd pledge your immortal soul to Sophia in a fucking second if she asked you to." Pete didn't look at him as he flicked some ash from his cigarette and Firkle couldn't help but let out a small snort at how uncomfortable the older goth looked.

"Shut the fuck up Pete, you don't know what you're talking about. I'd rather gut myself like some fucking fish than waste my time on a pointless relationship that'll make me blind to what's actually happening in the real world." His tone was defensive and he glared at his lighter as he lit Stan's cigarette.

"Who's Sophia?" He asked as he tried not to cough from the sudden nicotine in his lungs.

"She joined us a few years ago. She wasn't goth when we found her, but she's cool." Henrietta snuffed out her smoke on a nearby ash tray.

"Yeah, she's pretty chill but doesn't have much time to hang out since she actually goes to class like some nerd." Pete rolled his eyes but his tone wasn't aggressive.

"Oh, where is she now?"

"She's not coming over today, she's at work." Firkle spoke up from his dark corner.

"Does she even have time to be goth?" Stan thought out loud and received a few glares.

"Being goth isn't just some hobby you can pick up and drop whenever you want like a cheap slut." Henrietta looked away as she lit up another cigarette.

"It's a part of who you are, it's a way of life. This is how we are morning, noon, and night, we don't go home and put on conformist masks just because other posers do." Pete flipped his bangs out of his face.

"I'm sure even you can find time throughout the day to breathe, being goth is the same for us." Michael looked up at the cieling, his earring dangling and reflected the light from the candles.

"Get rid of those conformist thoughts new kid." Firkle was flipping though a book with a plain black cover.

"Yeah I get it, my bad." Stan looked down at his hands.

"So, you want to officially join us again?" Henrietta asked and Stan nodded. "Alright, well, now we meet behind the gymnasium and smoke there, and we still go to Benny's and the Village Inn on weekends."

"Alright, I'll meet you guys there then." They nodded and Henrietta took out a book.

"It's time for poetry, feel free to stay." She sat up a bit more and put down her cigarette, nodding when Stan didn't move from his seat on the floor.

~somewhere else~

"This better be good Jew, my mom was about to finish making dinner." Cartman crossed his arms as they met up in front of his house

"I'm worried about Stan." Kyle sighed and Cartman rolled his eyes.

"Of course you are, now that Wendy broke up with him you want to take her place don't you?" He said sarcastically and held his hands together under his chin as he batted his eyelashes.

"Shut the fuck up fatass, I'm serious. Tell him what you saw Kenny."

"He was running down the street in all black and was heading toward that goth girl's house." He muffled quickly.

"I think Stan went back to those goth kids." Kyle crossed his arms and Cartman sighed.

"So? He'll get tired of them in a week and go back to moping around with us, what's the big deal?"

"They're bad influences, what if this time he decides that he actually likes hanging out with them? Not to mention that football season is over, but what about next year? He'll quit that too and keep pulling away until we basically never hang out again!"

"Look Kyle, I don't know how things work in the Jew world, but here people get over things once they realize they're being little pussies. So stop your bitching and either kick him square in the nuts to remind him he owns a pair or just wait it out." He went back inside and slammed the door shut leaving Kenny and Kyle out on the porch.

"Why do we still hang out with him?"

"I don't know." Kenny shrugged and they started walking back the way they came, trying to brainstorm ideas on how to help their friend. "Taking him to Raisins won't work." Recently, the franchise opened up a separate bar area in every restaurant where the girls who have worked there since they were younger can continue working while also appealing to an older crowd of mostly high schoolers and middle schoolers. The business is very careful of the older adults coming in and there's plenty of security due to the ages of the girls. Overall they seem to take good care of their employees despite how they're expected to act while on the clock.

"We just need to show him that Wendy breaking up with him isn't that big of a deal. Stan can easily find another girl to go out with, but he's been with Wendy for so long that at this point he probably feels like she's his only option. And let's face it, Wendy didn't exactly hate having Stan treat her like she's the center of the universe." Kyle crossed his arms and Kenny kicked a pile of snow.

"But it's not like he'll listen to us, he usually doesn't when it comes to stuff like this. Maybe he just needs a girl to want to get into his pants? That'll show him that there are other girls out there who are interested." Kenny pointed out with a smile but Kyle shook his head.

"You know as well as I do that he's not like that. Stan wouldn't just fuck a random girl, especially not now." Frustrated, he put his hands in the pockets of his coat, already missing his best friend.

"Well I'm out of ideas." The boy in the orange coat shrugged.

"We need to keep thinking Kenny, the more time we waste is more time that he spends with those goths." He shuddered remembering how gloomy Stan became.

"We'll think of something." Kenny said empathetically, patting his friend on the back.

Chapter Text

3rd Person POV

Stan was currently sitting behind the gym, smoking a cigarette with the goths. As soon as he got to school he remembered that the majority of his classes had Wendy in them. At her insistence of wanting to spend the day with him, he chose as many as he could with her at the beginning of the year. This only served to soured his mood so he decided to skip class and might as well hangout with his new friends. Once he got there, he saw them already sitting in their usual seats, silently smoking. One thing he'd always admired about them was that they didn't feel the need to fill their silences with small talk, unlike him and his friends that were always arguing about one thing or another.

"Didn't think you'd start ditching so soon." Michael took a drag of his cigarette, not looking at him as he blew the smoke upwards.

"Yeah, how nonconformist of you." Pete didn't look at him as he spoke, flipping his bangs out of his face.

"I just didn't feel like dealing with those conformists." He kicked a pebble and Henrietta offered him a cancer stick which he accepted with only the slightest reluctance, still not completely used to smoking. "Thanks." He took out the lighter he stole from his dad and lit the end, sucking in small puffs until the end was glowing red.

"Sophia said she'd hang out with us today." Firkle spoke up from his spot behind the other three.

"After work, right?" Pete flipped his bangs out of his face and the middle schooler nodded.

"Yeah and she said she might have time for a quick smoke during lunch before she leaves." The boy scrolled down through his phone, before texting something back, presumably to Sophia.

"That's cool." Michael was obviously pleased even if his face didn't show it much. They sat on the floor saying nothing except for the occasional remark about nonconformity or how cruel the world was until the lunch bell rang. Before it was done ringing throughout the campus, soft footsteps walked toward them, given away only by the snow crunching beneath black shoes.

"Sorry I've been so busy." A soft voice apologized and Michael rolled his eyes.

"It's whatever." He said trying not to sound too pleased at seeing her. Stan looked up and his eyes widened.

'This must be Sophia...'

Sophia was a tall, slender girl with mile long legs and very subtle curves. Everything about her was delicate; her slender neck and wrists, even the way she walked seemed to radiate a feeling that if anyone bumped into her she would immediately topple over to the floor without much of a fight. Her skin was almost as pale as the snow around her and her hair was an inky black that reached her waist. The only thing out of place about her look was that she had long bangs that covered both her eyes, almost as if they grew out and she didn't bother trimming them, but unlike Pete she didn't flip them out of her face. There were also strands of hair framing the sides her face and hiding her ears. She was wearing black skinny jeans, black vans, and a blue and black striped hoodie. Stan vaguely remembered seeing her around, he probably saw her in the hall once or twice but he couldn't be sure.

"Oh, we have a new friend." She accepted the cigarette Michael offered her, bringing out her own silver lighter and lighting it with a flick of her wrist. When she was done with it, she put the lighter back into her pocket and blew the smoke up and away from anyone's face.

"Yeah, that's Raven." Henrietta took a deep inhale of her cigarette. Sophia let her backpack fall on the floor and it must have been heavier than it looked because it made a loud thump.

"Cool." She sat next to Michael and Firkle didn't hesitate to move over so he could lay his head on her lap, surprising Stan at how affectionate the younger boy could be, but no one else questioned it so he didn't either. She ran her fingers through the middle schooler's bangs a few times, taking a relaxing breath of smoke. "My next day off is two days from now so I'll be able to hang out the entire day." She said softly to Henrietta who nodded. "Do you read poetry too?" She turned toward Stan and he tensed up a little at the sudden question.

"Yeah, sometimes." He mumbled and she tilted her head.

"Why'd you decide to go goth again?" She remembered her friends talking about him a few times, even pointing him out in the halls sometimes, but she had never actually met him in person before.

"My heart was ripped out of my chest and raped right in front of me." He looked away and she blinked silently, absorbing what he just said.

"Deep. That might go well in a poem." She finally answered, twitching her fingers so the cigarette ash would fall on the floor.

"His girlfriend left him again." Henrietta clarified as she flicked her finished cigarette bud onto the floor. "Dumped him for some other kid and didn't care if she crushed his soul for the rest of eternity. She was a black hearted conformist who sucked the life out of him and bailed when there was nothing left."

"Harsh." Sophia blew the smoke in her mouth upwards. "So your tormented soul sought us out for the cool comfort of darkness?" She put the cigarette to her lips again and he couldn't help but stare at her shiny, black nails.

"Yeah, pretty much." He swallowed the lump in his throat and started coughing after a particularly deep inhale of nicotine.

"Don't force yourself too much." She commented as she stood up, gently patting Firkle's head as she did. "I'll see you guys later, my shift starts soon." She flicked her cigarette bud to the floor and crushed it under her foot.

"But it's barely lunch." Stan spoke up and she turned to look at him, or at least he thought she did, he couldn't tell where her eyes were focussing on.

"I have early dismissal." She shrugged and picked up her heavy backpack, sliding it onto her shoulders. "I've got to go."

"Cool." They all chanted back at her minus Stan who only nodded. She turned around and walked away, her long hair swaying behind her. He watched her leave, thinking that her presence was calming, especially with the soft way she spoke.

"Don't get any ideas Raven, Michael and Firkle will happily skin you alive and wear you like a suit." Henrietta rolled her eyes but there was amusement in them.

"Shut the fuck up, I told you it wasn't like that." Michael tried scoffing and looked away, but his voice was off. "I'm not going to conform to a role like that." He flicked his cigarette bud to the ground.

"I'll still skin you alive." Firkle went back to sitting a few feet behind them again.

"Whatever, who said I was interested?" Stan took a long drag of his cigarette and started coughing again.

"I never said you were." Henrietta raised an eyebrow and he did the same.

"I'm still not." He mumbled and stared at the end of his cigarette, watching the tip glow a dull red and the thin trail of smoke unfurl from it.

"Whatever." They all chorused.

Sophia POV

I unchained my bike from the front of the school and started riding toward Benny's. After hanging out there for so long I noticed a 'HELP WANTED' sign and thought I might as well apply considering I spend a lot of my time there anyway. The place was perfect, the coffee was cheap and it was pretty lonely most of the week except for old people or on Sundays when a bunch of church goers decide to go eat as a family. This job is pretty convenient because I get to see my friends even when I'm busy. I got to Benny's and chained my bike to the side of the building where there was an employee bike rack.

"Hey." I said softly and the other waitress smiled at me.

"Right on time, hurry up and get changed." I nodded and went to the back where there was a small changing room with a few lockers before changing into the uniform consisting of a baby blue polo shirt and some black slacks, once again thankful that I wasn't obligated to wear the uniform dress that the older waitress wore. I tied my hair back in a low ponytail except for my bangs and grabbed a half apron, pinning on my name tag as I did. Reaching a computer in the break room, I clocked in and grabbed a notepad to take orders with.

"Welcome to Benny's, what can I get for you?" I walked over to a table where two old men sat and took their orders. Seems like it'll be another boring shift, it was a pretty slow day and the people who were here ate extremely slow, not giving me much to do. I spent most of my shift pouring coffee and nodding bored at the old people whenever they tried telling me a story. Old people took up so much of my time and they usually didn't leave very good tips, just spare change most of the time since their concept of money was outdated by quite a few years. Of course I occasionally got some nice folks who tipped pretty well, but they were rare. After my shift was finally over I went to the back to change back into my regular clothes, letting my hair down as I pulled out the hair tie, sighing as I stuffed my uniform in my backpack so I could take it home for a wash. "You mind if I take some coffee?" I asked the only other waitress here and she rolled her eyes.

"Go ahead kid, you always do." I gave her a nod of thanks and filled a few of the disposable cups with some black coffee, counting out five before hesitating and filling a sixth one.

"Maybe the new kid likes coffee." I shrugged to myself and placed them close together in one of the plastic bags with the Benny's logo in the front and tied it carefully so that incase of spills I wouldn't get coffee all over myself.

"See ya tomorrow!" I nodded to the cook as he peeked over the counter to send me off with a smile and wave. I walked out to my bike and carefully put the coffee in the metal basket before getting on and riding to Henrietta's house as smoothly as I could. It was only six so I should be able to make it just in time to hear the end of their poetry. The trip to her house was a silent one and I took the time to think about everything and anything that came to mind, mostly about what would be waiting for me when I would go home later. Thinking so much made it seem like I got there pretty fast and I was content to see that I didn't spill any coffee. Before walking up to the porch, I left my bike in their front yard and rang the door bell.

"Oh hello Sophia, here to see Henrietta right? They're upstairs reading poetry." Her overly cheerful mom greeted me and I nodded as I carefully held the bag full of coffee cups.

"Thanks." I walked in and made my way up the familiar stairs, not bothering to knock before I walked in. "Hey, I brought coffee." They all nodded at me and I set the bag down on a table with a few candles on it, taking out the coffee cups.

"I was about to stab my stomach open and rip out my guts, so thanks." Henrietta accepted the coffee and immediately drank from it.

"Dark and bitter, just like my life, thanks." Pete said dryly as he took a sip of his.

"I can't wait to overdose on caffeine some day." Michael didn't smile, but he gave me a not-frown as he took his cup.

"Thanks Sophia." Firkle took his cup and started drinking deeply from it.

"I wasn't sure if you liked coffee or not, but I brought you a cup anyway." I said softly as I held out a cup to Raven and his eyes slightly widened.

"Oh, thanks." He took it slowly and did a bad job of hiding his grimace at the bitter taste.

"I'm sure Henrietta's mom has sweetener if you need it." I drank from my cup and he shook his head with a determined look in his eyes.

"No, this is fine. I don't need any sweetener in my life, it does nothing to me anymore." He had a heavy double meaning in his words which Henrietta nodded approvingly of.

"Woah." Her and Pete nodded at him.

"If you say so." I took my seat next to Michael and Firkle sat with his back against mine.

"We were just finishing our poetry if you wanted to join in or whatever." Michael offered me a cigarette and I took it, flicking my lighter on to light it.

"So I'm just in time then." I took a small book out of my backpack where I'd occasionally write my thoughts down during class.

 

"I learn to live with contempt, it's depth comforts me as stress eats away at my sanity like maggots on a rotting corpse. Death the only beacon of hope at the end of a dark, dark, cave. Caffeine runs through my veins, warming me like a heroine addict with his fix, temporary promises of well-being about as trustworthy as a cheap prostitute. Both leave their disease in my soul, my friend death won't accept me anymore; he doesn't want to catch something unpleasant."


"Woah." Henrietta sighed as I took a deep inhale of my cigarette.

"My head was all over the place during class." I closed my book and put it back in my bag.

"That was pretty good." Raven said a bit awkwardly, not sure how to praise me

"Thanks." I blew the smoke upwards and the door suddenly opened.

"Sweetie pie! I brought snacks!" Henrietta's mom announced happily as she held a tray of brownies.

"Go away mom, leave me the fuck alone. You probably laced those so I could drop dead once and for all." As she said this, I stood up to take the tray.

"Oh you're so imaginative sweetie!" She happily handed over the tray and left right before I closed the door.

"Conformist bitch, she probably wishes I would be a cute little housewife and bake little treats like a bad 60's fever dream. Disgusting."

"Yeah." Everyone sighed and I took my seat with the tray resting in my hands.

"We don't want any of her conformist brownies, you should throw them away and let maggots eat them." Pete flipped his bangs out of his eyes and I shrugged one shoulder, grabbing a brownie and biting into it. I'd never admit it out loud, but Henrietta's mom was actually a really good cook, a luxury I didn't have waiting for me at home.

"I'm hungry and if people want me to starve to death, I won't give them the satisfaction." I swallowed my bite and they nodded.

"Yeah." They sighed as one and each reached for a brownie, passing the tray around and it was empty in a few minutes. I'm glad her food didn't go to waste, she's actually pretty nice.

Chapter Text

Sophia POV

There was an insistent buzzing under my pillow that made my entire head vibrate, forcing me out of my peaceful sleep. I slowly blinked my eyes open as I woke up, squinting as the morning sun hit them perfectly. My limbs stretched and reached as far as they would go before I decided to roll over and finally get up. Mornings were silent affairs for me, I'd creep around my house trying to make as little noise possible, hence the morning alarm put on vibrator mode, and leave before my mother even had a chance to notice me.

My hands did all of the work as I ran on autopilot, dressing in my usual style: black, brushing my teeth, and sitting back down in my bed to brush my long hair. I'd thought about cutting it more than once, but Henrietta encouraged me to keep it long for the aesthetic; something about it making me look mysterious or like the Grudge? I can't really remember but I don't have plans to cut it anytime soon. I combed down my bangs and sighed as I tied on my black sneakers, frowning as I noticed how worn out they were starting to look. Looks like I'll have to save up to buy some new shoes soon... I picked up my backpack and pulled it on as I walked to the kitchen, heating up some water over the stove and preparing a travel mug that I could take with me.

"Two spoons of coffee, three spoons of sugar..." I muttered to myself as stirred around the sugar and instant coffee mix. Once the water was steaming with little air bubbles at the bottom, I turned off the stove and poured some into my mug. The spoon stirred around my coffee until I was sure the grains at the bottom were fully dissolved. Putting the lid on the mug and grabbing a granola bar, I made my way to the front door, closing it silently behind me and locking it. I walked out of my house with a cup of coffee in hand and grabbed my bike before slowly walking to school.

It was really early, school wouldn't be starting for another hour or so but I couldn't stand being in my house any longer so I left before my mom even woke up. The crisp morning air was cold against my cheeks so I pulled the hood of my hoodie up and closer to my face. I didn't feel like riding my bike yet so I pulled it along by the handle bar as my legs warmed up. My days usually consisted of me leaving the house before my mother woke up, going to school, and going to work. I was able to get early dismissal by opting out of taking electives and replacing them extra core classes while also taking classes during summer school. By no standards was I an over achiever, I just wanted to be done with my education as soon as possible, one of the perks being the option of early dismissal since I've been getting so many classes out of the way. That's how I was able to maintain a job during the week which helped buy stuff that my mom wouldn't give me money for.

"Hello Kenneth." I said softly as I came closer to the train tracks, a boy in an orange parka was coming out of his house just as early.

"Hey." He muffled a greeting as he fell into step with me. I've known Kenneth since I moved here. My mom has been raising me on her own for a while so we couldn't afford to live in the nicer part of town across the train tracks. After the first few nights and a random encounter, we realized we had a lot in common that not many others in our social groups do. We're not exactly friends, I would say, since we never hang out, more like confidants - he scratches my back and I scratch his. I think he's more relieved than anything to have a girl around that Karen can run to for female troubles or general girl advice, even if I'm not so good with that. Speaking of the brunette, she doesn't seem to be around this morning.

"Where's Karen?" It wasn't rare to see him walking hand-in-hand with his little sister. She was a pretty cute kid, just really shy, nice as hell though. I'm pretty sure Henrietta has a soft spot for her too.

"She slept over at a friend's house and is getting a ride to school." I nodded and sipped my coffee as we walked for a few more yards before he seemed to have suddenly gotten an idea. "Hey! You're one of the goth kids!" I raised an eyebrow, not that he could see.

"Yeah, I thought you knew that already." Another sip of my coffee and he shook his head.

"No, I think you could help me and my friends." He started walking a little faster and took out his phone. He called two numbers and told them hurriedly to meet him at the bus stop, keeping it short before hanging up.

"Help with what?"

"We think one of our friends is turning goth." He was fidgeting anxiously as he led me to the bus stop where he usually waited to be taken to school. "We're worried about him since this isn't how he usually acts."

"Oh?" I stood next to him and sipped on my warm coffee, glad that it had cooled down enough to be drank comfortably.

"They should be here any second." He fidgeted and I sighed as I leaned my bike against the pole with the bus stop sign. We waited in silence and neither of us bothered trying to fill it with awkward small talk. The comfortable silence ended all too soon as whiny voice called out.

"Oh God Kenny, don't tell me you started fucking goth girls." I turned and saw a fat boy who had his breakfast in his hand and was scowling at me as if I had personally offended him. Kenneth visibly rolled his eyes.

"No asshole. Just hold on so I don't have to explain everything twice."

"Ugh fine, but it'd better be good, I didn't get to bring all my breakfast with me." He stood next to Kenneth and ate his breakfast in silence, except for his loud breathing.

"What's this about, Kenny?" A boy wearing a green hat yawned as he walked toward us from roughly the same direction, blinking a little confused as he saw me. "Oh, hello." He said a little awkwardly and I gave a small wave in return as I took another sip of my coffee.

"Spill it poor boy." The fat one spoke up as he finished his breakfast, receiving a glare from inside the orange parka.

"Fuck off. This is Sophia, she's my neighbor-"

"Ew! Goth and poor! What else could be wrong with you, you got AIDS or something?" Fat One yelled out and I glared, already not liking him.

"Shut up conformist, I'd rather be goth and poor than have a heart attack at nineteen." I crossed my arms and he glared.

"Ey! Im not fat, I'm buff!" Apparently someone doesn't know that you're not supposed to talk with your mouth full.

"Keep lying to yourself, aren't you aware that pig lard isn't on the food pyramid?" I scoffed and he took a step closer to me threateningly. I might have been scared if I wasn't so disgusted at seeing the chewed up food inside his mouth.

"Listen bitch-"

"Shut the fuck up and focus you asshole, this is about Stan! Finish what you were saying Kenny." The boy in the green hat glared at the fat one.

"As I was saying, this is Sophia and I think she can help us with Stan."

"How can she help?" Green Hat tilted his head.

"Well, she's a goth but she's pretty cool. Since she's on 'the inside' she can convince Stan that he's not really a goth and he'll go back to normal." Kenneth crossed his arms proudly and the other two thought it over.

"Yeah, that could work!" Green Hat smiled to me as I finished the rest of my coffee. "You just need to talk to Stan for us, he'll listen to you." That's fine and all, but I have no idea who they're talking about...

"Um, who's Stan?" I spoke up softly and they furrowed their eyebrows.

"I could have sworn he would have gone to you guys by now for sure." Kenneth tilted his head and scratched his cheek.

"He has black hair, dark blue eyes, and a hat with a puff ball on it, he's sad because his girlfriend broke up with him." Green Hat described and a lightbulb went off in my head as I thought of our new member. 

"Oh, you mean Raven?" I kicked some snow and he nodded as Fat One scoffed.

"What a gay little name, did he pick it out himself?" He seems to enjoy being an asshole, I guess.

"No, that's what the others call him." I rolled my eyes, not that they could see.

"Yeah, I remember them calling him that last time." Green Hat nodded. "So how is he?" He asked concerned and I could instantly tell that him and Raven must be pretty close, his worry is enough to prove that. I'm sure he must be close with Kenneth and the fat one too, but they don't compare to green hat. Most likely the best friend.

"I haven't had a chance to spend much time with him, but he seems pretty tormented on the inside." I shrugged and looked away. "I can tell he's not truly dedicated to being goth, just depressed. From what I've seen, he's trying too hard to fit in with us." They nodded at each other.

"Alright, Sophia was it? We need you to talk some sense into our friend for us, he'll listen to you since you're on equal standing in his eyes. The last time this happened he kept calling us conformists and ignoring us." Green Hat said with a small edge of desperation in his voice and I sighed.

"I don't think that would really work, I don't think you guys understand what it means to be goth." I put my hands in my pockets and leaned against my bike.

"What do you mean? You just wear black and act like you're better than everyone else while at the same time being full of shit and crying about how the world sucks." Fat One rolled his eyes and I sighed.

"Being goth is about finding the beauty in things that others normally wouldn't. Sure, we all seem to dress the same and there are a bunch of posers who think being goth is more of a fashion statement, but that's not the point. When you're goth you stick together. We all have different reasons for being goth, perhaps trauma, sadness, or we were simply born with those ideals and views, but I'm no one to tell someone to stop being goth just because they aren't 'doing it right', that's something a conformist would do." I said softly as I grabbed my bike.

"But you just said Stan isn't really goth!" Green Hat yelled frustrated as I swung a leg over my bike seat.

"He's not, but I can tell he's in pain and wants some sort of comfort, even if it means pretending to be something he's not for a little while. He may not be 'truly' goth, but he takes comfort in the darkness the same way we do, he doesn't want to deal with a bunch of conformists wannabes just like we don't. The others accepted him pretty easily, so I see no reason not to. If what you all say is true then he'll just get bored of us and go back to you, just be patient while his inner self has time to recover from what that girl did to him." I started pedaling and could hear green hat sigh frustrated behind me.

"Much help you were, you faggy bitch!" I could hear the fat one yell and rolled my eyes as I made my way to school. It was probably going to be a long day and I didn't want to deal with stupid teachers hounding me for being late. Once I got there, I chained my bike to the front and made sure the lock was properly in place. There weren't many thieves around here, but people are sometimes cruel just for the fun of it. I slowly made my way to the front doors and through the halls, stopping only at my locker to leave my clean uniform and a few other things that I could pick up again after school.

My locker wasn't overly crowded or decorated like I'd seen other girls', just a few packets of instant coffee and sugar here and there for when I really needed a cup during school, and a small whiteboard I bought at a thrift store that I wrote little reminders on. The little whiteboard was duck-taped to the back of the locker and had a dry erase marker hanging by a string next to it. There was nothing written on it today so it's safe to assume I didn't forget anything, hopefully. I left my travel mug next to a binder and made sure I wasn't forgetting anything that I'd need for today's classes. It was so annoying to have to come running back here every hour just because I was missing one thing or the other... Once I was done with that, I shut the metal door and once again checked that the lock was properly shut in place.

Opening my granola bar, I took a loud bite out of it and chewed slowly as I made my way to my first class. My friends weren't in any of my classes, not that I would have seen them if they were since they ditch so much anyways. Henrietta, Michael, and I were all in eleventh grade, Pete was in tenth and I'm pretty sure that Raven was the same grade as him. Of course, Firkle was still in the middle school part of campus, but he'll be able to join us in high school next year. The seat next to me stayed empty, the way it's been since the beginning of the school year, and every year actually. My gothic appearance was enough to push others away and I was okay with that I guess, moving around so much when I was younger made me sort of an introvert, but that was perfect for the crowd of friends I was currently a part of.

My classes passed by at a snail's pace and when lunch rolled around I went to my locker to grab my things. Maybe if I was quick enough, I'd have time for a quick smoke with-

"Sophia?" I turned around and saw a group of guys around me. There were the four from this morning plus two other ones, a kid with soft-looking blond hair that I couldn't help but notice had a scar over his left eye, and a brown haired kid using crutches. A sigh spilled out of my lips as I finished packing up my backpack.

"Yes?" I asked softly.

"W-w-we hear that Stan is friends with the guh-goths again." The one in crutches stuttered and I nodded slowly.

"Yes, I suppose that's true." I leaned back against my locker and the soft blond rubbed his knuckles together, a nervous habit I suppose.

"Oh hamburgers, poor Stan. He must be feeling pretty awful to go back to you guys." He frowned and I scratched the back of my head.

"I'm not sure what you expect me to do about it?" Green Hat crossed his arms.

"We just want you to talk to him."

"What makes you think that'd he'd listen to me, we don't even really know each other." I frowned and adjusted the straps of my backpack.

"We j-just need you to t-t-tuh-talk some sense into him." Crutches spoke up with a smile and I rubbed my arm. They were all staring at me expectantly.

"Come on Sophia, we don't expect you to change his mind." Kenneth said softly and raised his eyebrows a little. My fingers reached up and pinched the bridge of my nose.

"I promise nothing." I started slowly, opening my locker again. "And I'm not going to try to convince him of anything, but I might mention you guys and see what he says, that way you guys will know what to do in terms of being his friends." Green Hat seemed a little frustrated but Kenneth's eyes sparkled.

"Thanks Sophia." They all thanked me and walked away as I shut my locker door. I walked in the opposite direction to grab my bike and headed off to work.

Talk to Raven

"That whiteboard never stays clean for long." I muttered to myself.

Chapter Text

Today was finally my day off from work, this means that I was free to spend the entire day with my friends, something I haven't done in a while. A small smile tugged the corners of my lips up as I made my way behind the gymnasium where I found my only friends, sitting together as they usually did.

"Hey." I said softly and they looked up from their seats on the floor.

"Woah, nice of you to show up for once." Pete flipped his bangs out of his face as I took my seat next to Michael, taking the cigarette he offered me and lighting it. Firkle moved closer to lean his head against my shoulder and I reached back to pat his hair gently.

"It's my day off so I might as well spend it with you guys, not like I have anything better to do." I shrugged as I sucked on the end of my cigarette.

"Whatever." Pete looked up at the sky and I subtly looked over at our new friend. Stan Marsh, huh? His friends were pretty worried about him, Green Hat especially, going as far as to come to me for help. They must really care a lot about him... Well, except the fat one, he seems like an asshole.

"Hey Raven?" He lifted his gaze from the floor to me, a little startled, obviously not expecting to be called on.

"Yeah?" He turned in his seat so his body was facing me. Alright, at least I can say they owe me a favor now, here goes nothing...
"What do your friends think about you being goth?" I put my cigarette to my lips. His face hardened, but he looked kind of sad at the same time, obviously torn.

"They don't understand what I'm going through, they'll try to relate, but they can't. They have no idea of the storm raging inside me, and will just tell me to get over it and move on, but I can't. I should have just moved on from Wendy the first time, but I'm fifteen now! I don't have time to start over with someone else, that's why I can't just get over it. My shot at not dying alone is gone." He looked down at the ground and fisted his hands.

"Conformists." I vaguely heard Henrietta, Pete, and Firkle sigh at the same time. I sighed and ran my fingers through my hair a few times thoughtfully, seems like Raven is a pretty stubborn guy.

"So, besides what you feel towards Wendy, you don't plan on being their friend anymore? Don't you think they miss you? Whatever went down with Wendy isn't their fault, so why should they loose a friend because of it?" I asked softly and he frowned as he looked at the floor, his eyebrows slowly scrunching together into a glare.

"I don't need conformists like them, I don't feel like putting up with their bullshit." He flicked the ash off his cigarette angrily and Pete nodded approvingly at him.

'Wrong answer Stan...' I thought with a small twinge of remorse, knowing that Kenneth and Green Hat would come asking for me again sometime soon.

"Why all the sudden questions Sophia?" Michael frowned and looked away, his earring swinging around with the motion.

"Just curious about our new friend, unlike the rest of you I've never met Raven before."I shrugged and took another breath of my cigarette, sighing the smoke out and watching it drift away for a second. "I'm just being curious, no harm in that."

"Well it isn't very goth of you to be so worried about Raven's conformist personal life." He crossed his arms and I raised my eyebrows, unamused.

"Hey! I'm not a conformist anymore!" Raven stood up and Michael glared, slowly standing and tightly gripping the handle of his cane.

"Wallowing in self-pity just because you want some conformist, cheerleader back doesn't make you goth, it just means your conformist, macho, ego is bruised." Michael looked down his nose at Raven. They were both tall, but Michael had a few inches on Raven.

"Why I'm goth is none of your business." Raven looked like he wasn't sure what to say but was pretty upset anyway.

"Whatever, you'll be gone by the end of the week, just like last time." He blew cigarette smoke in his face and Raven glared angrily.

"It's none of your business for how long I'm goth either." Raven stepped closer and I watched them in concern, hearing Firkle flip open his switchblade from somewhere behind me.

"You guys are acting like a bunch of jocks in a Disney movie." Pete scoffed as he flipped his bangs out of his face and it only served to make them angrier.

"Your jealously doesn't surprise me Michael, but lay off Raven. We already told you being goth is life for us, not just some hobby; you sound like a conformist so don't get mad if Michael calls you one." Henrietta rolled her eyes but was smirking in an amused sort of way. It got awkwardly quiet and Michael was the first to sit back down, rolling his eyes as he flicked his cigarette bud to the floor.

"So, are we headed to your place?" I asked Henrietta as Raven sat down again too.

"We're heading to the cemetery." She sucked at the end of her cigarette. "There's supposed to be a funeral today, so we'll hang around afterwards." I nodded and sighed as I looked up at the sky.

"I can't wait for my funeral." Michael sighed whimsically and I snorted.

"Just waiting for people to mourn and cry over you, huh?" I flicked the ash off my smoke.

"Yeah, if anyone bothers to care that is." He snorted and I rolled my eyes. After school was let out, we got up and made our way to South Park's cemetery, taking our time in walking there. People often thought of the cemetery as a dark and dreary place, some even found it scary, but not me. The cemetery, especially at night, was such a beautiful, peaceful place. The lack of life, no pun intended, made it the perfect, quiet paradise. The dirt next to the tombstones was soft and comfortable to lay on, and the mausoleums were a great place to sit and just watch the falling of rain snow. The little flowers, trees, and patches of grass always made me smile when I watched them grow, it showed that life continued on and can always be found even in the most unexpected places. I really wished I had a talent for drawing or poetry so I could express my love for the cemetery, but unfortunately I lacked in those skills. We reached the cemetery just as the funeral finished, somber and tearful people walked by us, some looking like they didn't care and others looking like they wanted to throw themselves in the grave along with their deceased loved one.

"Oh, it's you kids again." The grave digger scowled as he saw us. We didn't bother to learn his name, and he didn't bother with ours.

"You know us, we never miss a good show." Henrietta rolled her eyes and smirked. The grave digger was one of the few people my clique was civil to, this is probably because he was just as, if not more, jaded about life than us.

"You little bastards sure are cynical." He scoffed and walked away from us, continuing his work. The other reason why we're polite towards him is because he doesn't rat us out; any other person would have called the cops on kids loitering around in a cemetery, but he doesn't seem to care and we'd like to keep it that way. We walked to our favorite place to sit, an old tree that's highest branch had an amazing view of the entire cemetery. Cigarettes were passed around and we took our seats, except Firkle who climbed up the tree to sit on one of the lower branches and lean his back against the trunk. I sat under him on the ground with my back against the trunk, the tree's large roots made a comfortable nest where I could comfortably lounge.

"How would you guys want to be burried?" Pete suddenly asked and I tilted my head back in thought.

"I'd want my body to be left in a huge mausoleum with a curse on whoever entered." Michael passed me a cigarette and I leaned over to accept it from him.

"I want to be cremated and turned into a jewel, that way I could possess anyone who wore me." Henrietta lit a cigarette and sounded amused with herself.

"An unmarked grave is fine for me, I don't want to deal with conformists in the afterlife if I can help it." Firkle said from up in his branch.

"How I'm buried will be the problem of whoever's still alive." Raven shrugged and Pete smriked.

"Well I want to be buried under a tree so my dead carcass can fertilize it and be useful for at least something." Pete turned to me. "How about you sophia?"

"How I'm buried..." I mumble and look over the graveyard, my eyes flitting over all the gravestones, some abandoned and others looking well taken care of, very clean and full of flowers. "I think I'd want to be buried normally, and just hope that someone cares enough to visit my grave." I said softly and stood up, brushing off the bit of dirt that stuck to my jeans. I looked up at Firkle and he offered me a hand, I grabbed it and lifted myself up, carefully climbing the tree. A familiar branch acted as my seat and I smiled softly as I parted the leaves and smaller branches, looking across the cemetery's beautiful scenery. My body relaxed against the trunk of the tree, lighting the cigarette Michael gave me with a flick of my wrist. I think I might need a new lighter soon, the flame on this one is getting pretty small...We spent the afternoon here, exchanging our thoughts and occasionally writing a few lines of poetry when the inspiration came. I even managed to get most of my homework done, knowing I probably wouldn't have a chance once I got home. Pretty soon, the sun started setting and night started falling, bathing us in cool, calm semi-darkness. I sighed as I let my legs dangle over the edge of the branch, looking up at the stars as they finally showed up.

"Let's get some coffee." Michael said from below and I looked down.

"Village Inn?" He nodded I started making my way down the tree, careful to find the footholds so that I wouldn't fall.

"I doubt you'd want to go to Benny's on your day off." He shrugged and I dusted myself off as I finally made it to the ground.

"Well, let's start going then." Pete flipped his bangs out of his eyes just as Firkle jumped down from his own branch. Everyone got up from their seats and dusted themselves off. I pulled on my backpack and grabbed my bike's handle bars, pulling it along as we started walking. We slowly made our way out of the cemetery, nodding at the grave digger as we left. It was really quiet for a few minutes and we all flinched when my phone suddenly rang.

"Sorry about that." I apologized softly. We stopped walking and I picked it up without checking the name on the screen. "Hello?"

"Why aren't you home yet?" No beating around the bush huh?

"It's my day off." I said softly.

"Well why didn't you come home then! Am I the only one who lives in this fucking house or what? You'd better get your ass over here and do some goddamn house work for once in your life! Just because we're trash doesn't mean we have to live like it!" The call got cut off and I stared at the screen for a bit longer before slowly putting my phone in my pocket. She was pretty loud so I'm sure my friends could hear what she said...

"I have to go." I said softly.

"You're flaking on us?" Firkle frowned and I sighed, smoothing down my bangs a little anxiously.

"Not by choice." I bit my lip and turned to walk in the opposite direction. "I'll see you guys some other time."

"We'll be at the Village Inn for a while." Pete called out to me and I stopped briefly to nod. "You know, incase you can catch up later or something." He flipped his bangs out of his face and looked away.

"Call if things get weird or something." Michael stared right into my eyes intensely, almost as if my bangs weren't there, making the corners of my mouth twitch upwards.

"Thanks." I turned around and swung my leg over my bike, getting on began pedaling home quickly, before she got any angrier than she already was.

3rd POV

Christine Harte is an alcoholic, single mother of one. She wasn't always like this, but then again there were many factors that led her on the path she was currently on. For starters, her long term boyfriend and high school sweetheart, Charles Smithings left her before they could get married. Another factor was that she got pregnant very early on in life, her junior year of high school to be exact, this is what led the decision for them to begin planning their early wedding. And the final nail in the coffin was realizing that Charles left her for her bestfriend, saying he just wasn't ready for this kind of commitment and that she would be fine on her own, but he would always have his phone ready in case she ever needed anything.

Christine later realized that he changed his number and no longer had a way to contact the father of her child.

The young mother scraped on by and barely managed to finally finish her high school education. Her parents, ashamed of their daughter, immediately kicked her out after graduation, leaving her all alone in the world with a baby girl not yet even a year old. Christine was able to find odd jobs here and there, some more degrading than others, nothing high in salary given that she only had a high school diploma, but made enough to be able to eat and pay for rooms or garages people were renting.

Even at a young age, Sophia began to realize that her childhood was vastly different than others' her age. She realized that her lifestyle wasn't like others' and that her mother wasn't like other mothers. Her's was too busy to nurture and take care of her, but even when she had the time, Christine still neglected her daughter, sometimes refusing to even look at her. The reason for this being Sophia's resemblance to her father. Like her father, Sophia's hair was black and she inherited a condition shared by his family called Complete Heterochromia, meaning that, just like her father, her eyes were two different colors. Once upon a time, Christine wished that their children would have his eyes, something she now regretted. Sofia's right eye was like her mother's, her left like her father's. This resemblance only made Christine more bitter and she began to take that bitterness out on her daughter, barely speaking to her and having no patience for a child, which is understandable to an extent considering her young age.

Christine was never one for drinking in her youth, but as she got older and life began taking its toll, she found that alcohol was a small escape away from her difficult life. It numbed the pain and made her forget about her worries, like a vacation at a fraction of the price.

Unfortunately that escape turned into a daily occurrence.

Almost daily, when she got home from work, she would guzzle down alcohol as if she were dying of thirst. Once it settled into her blood stream, she would more often than not take her anger out on Sophia, often screaming profanities or ordering her around. The times Christine got violent with her daughter were few and more often when they began. After a particular incident, Sophia began to realize that what triggered her mother the most was seeing her eyes, so so she cut her bangs to hide them, lessening the times her mother went after her, preferring now to complain, loudly, about how full of shit her life was.

Despite her neglect, Christine was strict with Sophia, often yelling at her not to make the same mistakes she did. The most upheld rule in the house was to never speak of Charles Smithings, the few times Sophia did ask weren't pretty and she quickly learned that some things were better left unknown. That's why the young girl is in such a rush to finish her education, wanting to get away from her abusive household and thanking whoever was out there that she didn't have siblings that needed her.

"There you are." Christine scowled as she saw Sophia, taking a drink from her bottle. Sophia turned her gaze downwards and silently walked to the kitchen to begin washing a large pile of dishes that hadn't been there this morning when she left for school. "Off with your little emo friends again, huh? What a waste of time." Christine tched and threw her empty bottle on the floor, making Sophia wince as she hurried to finish washing the dishes. Christine grabbed another bottle and opened it, throwing the cap over her shoulder since she wouldn't be needing it.

"I'm going to bed." The younger girl said softly, drying her hands before practically running to her room, making her mother scoff and roll her eyes.

"Not yet you're not, you still need to clean the kitchen and the bathroom, I won't let you slack off just because you're deciding to spend all your time with a couple of freaks!" Sophia sighed and put down her backpack, walking back out and quickly grabbing the mop and some rags. "Your homework better be done, I'm sure even you can finish high school." She sneered. "Although, considering the crowd you hang out with, I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't." Sophia ignored her and silently cleaned the kitchen first, the faster she'd finish, the faster she'd be able to get away. "That'd be a laugh" Christine chuckled bitterly and took another gulp of alcohol, laying on the sofa and turning on the small television. "So, which one of your little friends is trying to get you pregnant? That's why they let you be with them, isn't it? They probably got tired of fucking that fat girl and moved on to you." Sophia continued to ignore her and mopped the kitchen faster, not caring if she missed a few spots. "If you get an unwanted package, I'm sure the nice people at the abortion clinic can help." Sophia wiped down the tables and counters as fast as she could. "They're godsends that people don't know how to appreciate." Christine's tone turned bitter and Sophia practically ran out of the clean kitchen.

"Done." She mumbled and ran into the bathroom to quickly clean it before putting everything away and throwing herself into her room.

"Tch." Christine changed the channel and glared at the screen.

Chapter Text

Sophia POV

It was a boring day like any other and I was just finishing up the last class before my early dismissal. My eyes stared at the clock on the wall, trying to will it to go faster. I'd stopped taking notes about fifteen minutes ago considering that we were reviewing before an upcoming test and I already had a pretty good grasp on the material. Once the bell finally rung, I quickly put my things away and walked out, eyes slightly widening as I saw two people waiting for me at the door. They were standing just outside in the hall and a few steps away from the wave of students that spilled out of the room.

"Ah, I was expecting you sooner Kenneth, Green Hat." I nodded at both of them respectively as I adjusted the straps of my bag and walked towards the school's exit where a row of lockers was, staying close to the wall so the crowd of students walking in the opposite direction wouldn't herd me toward the cafeteria.

"Hold on, we need to talk to you." Green Hat kept up with me as Kenneth fell a few steps behind while he dug around in his bag for something. I couldn't help the sigh that escaped my lips as I stopped at my locker, opening it and putting back what I wouldn't need to take home with me.

"Oh? Well, I have to get to work, so if we could talk some other time, that'd be better for me." Taking only what I'd need for tonight's homework and shoving it in my bag, I heard a forced cough and turned around to see them with items in their hands. Kenneth was holding a box of expensive cigarets, the ones that sat on the high shelves at the liquor store, way above the cheap ones my friends bought; Green Hat was holding a Tweak's Coffee gift certificate toward me.

"You get a free choice of one beverage. Any size with whatever you want on it, for free." I raised an eyebrow as they both motioned for me to take the items being held out to me.

"You guys didn't have to do this, I would've talked to you anyway." I mumbled a little embarrassed that they'd gone so out of their way to bribe me.

"We know, but we thought this might butter you up first." Kenneth winked as he walked behind me and put both items in my backpack before giving my shoulder a gentle pat.

"So what is it you guys want to talk about?" We were the only ones left in the hall considering everyone else was gone for lunch. The banging of my locker closing echoed down the hallway, filling the sudden silence around us.

"Have you talked to Stan?" Green Hat finally spoke up and I sighed and looked down, scuffing my shoe against the poorly waxed floor.

"I might have mentioned you guys to him..."

"What did he say?" They looked eager for answers and I put my hands in the pocket of my hoodie a little uncomfortably, knowing I was about to be the cause of their disappointment.

"He said that you guys don't understand him. He doesn't want to hear you just telling him to get over it." They frowned and shared a look. "He honestly thinks he's missed his one chance with 'the love of his life'." My air quotes held just a small hint of sarcasm and their frowns only deepened. "But I can tell he misses you. I think it hurts him that his closest friends don't understand..." I added softly and they nodded.

"Anything else happen?" Kenneth spoke up and I shook my head, feeling a bit guilty when Green Hat got a sad look in his eyes.

"That's about it. Try talking to him, I'm sure he'd appreciate it. Just make sure not to try and pressure him into doing anything and be as understanding as you can." They slowly nodded and I shouldered my backpack. A few moments of silence passed between us and I shifted my weight from foot to foot a few times before adjusting the straps of my backpack a little awkwardly. "Well, um, see you guys later then." I mumbled as I walked out the front doors toward my bike, unchaining it and swinging my leg over it. I had just pedaled a few yards away when I heard hurried footsteps slapping against the concrete.

"Sophia! Hold up!" I planted one of my feet on the ground and came to a stop as I looked over my shoulder, raising an eyebrow in slight surprise.

"Green hat." I acknowledged with a nod as he caught his breath.

"My name's Kyle actually." He panted and I shrugged, knowing I'd more likely than not continue to refer to him as Green Hat. In my thoughts at least.

"Alright, Kyle, what do you want? If I don't leave soon I'll be late for wor-"

"This won't take much of your time I swear." He quickly stepped in front of my bike, almost as if to stop me incase I decided to ride off.

"What is it?" I adjusted the strap of my backpack again and he stared intensely into my bangs, probably trying to look me in the eyes and convey how serious he was.

"I know it's a lot to ask, but Stan is hurting right now. He's liked Wendy since forever, and I think he just needs help forgetting about her." I nodded prompting him to continue and he gave me a knowing look. "He's still young, he'll find another girl in no time. He's just used to Wendy being the only girl around him all the time." He continued staring at me, giving me a look I'd only seen on people when they nudge their friends and laugh at inside jokes.

"So what do you expect me to do about it?" I finally asked, raising an eyebrow and he coughed awkwardly into his fist.

"I'd rather not spell it out..." He finally looked away, adverting his eyes almost bashfully. I got off my bike and let it fall to the floor, the sudden bang startling him a bit.

"I'd rather you did because I'm not liking what I assume you're implying." Even though he couldn't see my narrowed eyes, I'm sure he caught on to my soft but clipped tone.

"Well, what is it you're assuming?" He furrowed his eyebrows and crossed his arms.

"Are you implying that I should take advantage of the fact that Raven's hurting, to worm myself into his psyche, and become a rebound just so that he can go back to being the way you want him to be?" I asked softly but angrily, stepping closer to him and poking my finger against his chest. He swallowed thickly and shrugged.

"H-hey, it doesn't have to be serious or anything long term, it's probably better that it isn't! We just want him to realize there are other girls out th-" He didn't get to finish his sentence because I shoved my hands against his chest and he fell into a convenient pile of snow right behind him.

"How dare you think that I would even consider-" I clenched my jaw as he sat up to look at me, eyebrows furrowing worried. I threw my backpack onto the ground and dug through it until I found the packet of cigarettes and the gift certificate, shoving them into his chest. "I can't be bought, taking these and doing that would make me no better than... than a prostitute or something." His eyes widened and he shook his head.

"That wasn't our intention, I swear!"

"Whatever." I picked up my bike and swung my leg over it.

"Please just hear me out!" He called out as I started pedaling but I ignored him and made my way to work, mumbling to myself all the way.

"How dare he... I know he's worried about his friend but that doesn't justify him asking me to throw myself at Raven... Even if I did, Raven is in too much pain over his ex-girlfriend to even think about reciprocating the affections. And why would they think that I would agree? Doesn't Kenneth know me well enough to know where I stand when it comes to relationships? How dare they think that I'd agree to something so manipulative?" I continued grumbling under my breath all the way to work. When I finally got there, I locked my bike in its usual stall and crossed my arms angrily, shifting my weight from foot to foot a few times before groaning and walking into the diner.

"Almost late." The waitress said distractedly as I walked by her towards the back.

"Sorry." I mumbled and changed into my uniform. I tied my hair back and put on my apron as I walked back onto the floor, trying to clear what just happened out of my mind. "Hello, my name is Sophia and I'll be your server for today, what can I get for you?" I walked to a table and pulled out a notepad from my pocket, clicking my pen against it and holding it up to begin writing once the customers told me what'd they'd want.

 

After my shift was over, I changed out of my uniform and poured the usual cups of coffee to go, making my way to Henrietta's house still unable to get Green Hat's words out of my head. Leaving my bike in their front yard, I knocked on the door and patiently waited for someone, most likely Henrietta's mom, to open it.

"Oh! Hello dear, Henrietta's just up in her room." Mrs. Biggle smiled at me and I nodded politely.

"Thank you." I said softly as I walked around her and carefully carried the cups of coffee in the usual Benny's plastic bag. I walked up the stairs and walked in without knocking, Henrietta was about to yell before she noticed it was just me. "I brought coffee." I placed the bag on a table and they all nodded. After handing them their cups I laid back on Henrietta's bed and sighed tiredly, ignoring my own coffee cup as I preferred to stare up at her ceiling.

"Here." Out of the corner of my eye I could see Michael offering me a cigarette, but that only reminded me more of what happened this afternoon with Green Hat.

"No thanks." I sighed softly as I closed my eyes and rolled over onto my side with my back toward them, grabbing one of Henrietta's black silk pillows to stuff my face in. The bed slightly dipped next to me and a hand suddenly began to rub soothing circles between my shoulder blades. Without meaning to, my body began relaxing and slowly dozing off. I could feel fingers gently running through my hair, lulling me deeper into unconsciousness.

3rd POV

"I brought cookies." Henrietta's mother practically sang as she smiled brightly and walked in, only for her daughter to glare as usual.

"Get the fuck out mom." She rolled her eyes and her mom didn't even flinch as she looked at the bed.

"Oh dear! I'll bring a blanket for her!" She walked away without closing the door and came back in less than a minute. "Here you go, just tuck her in with this." She handed a soft quilt to Stan before scurrying out of the room, leaving the tray of cookies behind.

"Fucking bitch." Henrietta sighed and Stan stood up, turning around to look and see who was asleep on the bed. Sophia was laying on her side with a pillow in her arms and Michael was sitting next to her. Her shoes were on the floor next to the bed, most likely taken off by the boy sitting next to her. The taller boy's face was relaxed, obviously lost in thought as he lazily lifted his cigarette to his lips in one hand, and continued running his fingers through Sophia's long hair with the other. It was kind of unsettling how gentle the whole scene was.

"She's asleep." Stan couldn't help but blurt out, unfolding the quilt and draping it over her. Her body immediately tensed up at the sudden contact before relaxing against the soft material and sighing softly. Michael was pulled out of his deep thoughts once he felt Sophia tense up under his hand, sending an unappreciative glance towards Raven. Firkle was watching the three of them like a hawk, almost unblinkingly as is eyes kept glancing from Sophia, to Michael, to Raven, and back again.

"Yeah, she sleeps here sometimes." He rolled his eyes and Stan continued to look at her. Her posture was relaxed and her long hair was draped around her almost artistically. Long hair that was slowly slipping off of her face. Without thinking, his hand started reaching for her bangs, aiming to part them away from her face. He was curious what kind of face she had under them and why she chose to hide it. Maybe it was just a goth thing, but it must be uncomfortable to have hair in your face without a good reason, Pete was proof enough of that. Before his hand could come any closer, Michael slapped it away, making Stan wince and retreat his hand.

"Paws off, she wouldn't like that." He frowned and Stan raised an eyebrow.

"How come? What's so bad about me seeing the top half of her face?" He crossed his arms and Michael moved so he was between Stan and Sophia, completely blocking her from his view. Pete, Firkle, and Henrietta all exchanged sly looks, amused as Michael once again put his feeling for Sophia on full display, without even realizing it...

"That's her business, not yours or mine." Michael's face slowly fell into a glare and Stan backed off.

"Fine, if you say so." He sat back down and continued sipping on his bitter coffee, that thoughtful expression still not leaving his face.

"There's nothing wrong with her face if that's what you're thinking." Pete flipped his bangs out of his face and almost smirked, watching as Raven turned to him curiously.

"That nonconformist hair style really suits her, don't you think?" Henrietta took a deep drag from her cigarette and let it all out slowly. "She's even more nonconformist under that fringe, too bad she doesn't like showing off." Her eyes rolled and Michael's glare depend.

"Shut up Henrietta, Sophia won't like you talking about her." He shook his head and she scoffed.

"I'm not giving anything away Michael. If you really want me to shut up why don't you just slice my tongue off and stitch my mouth closed so I'll never say anything again?" She flicked her burnt cigarette butt onto an ashtray and he rolled his eyes, unamused.

"Whatever Henrietta." She shrugged unaffected and picked up a black, leather bound book, opened it to a random page, and grabbed a pen that looked like a quill made from a sleek, black, crow feather. Firkle stood up and walked over to the drawers next to the door to grab the tray of cookies left there.

"What, don't tell me you're going to eat that sugary shit?" Pete flipped his bangs and the younger boy shook his head.

"I'm sure Sophia would want them." They were all aware of how Sophia didn't appreciate wasting food and didn't question him any further. He reaching into her backpack and found an empty ziplock bag with a few crumbs already in it, probably from a past lunch or snack. He stuffed all the cookies in there and sealed it carefully before putting it back where it was. "I'm going to leave, my parents are going to be insufferable if I come home late again and I'm not in the mood to listen to their conformist lectures." He picked up his messenger bag and laid the strap on his shoulder, patting his pocket to make sure his switchblade was still there. They muttered their goodbyes to him and he walked out. They sat in silence for a while; Michael was still running his fingers through Sophia's hair, Pete was staring down at his coffee cup, Henrietta was writing in her black book, and Raven was deep in thought, wondering what Wendy was doing right now.

'She's probably brushing her beautiful, long hair right now, and taking off her makeup. Probably sitting in that pretty lace nightgown that's her favorite shade of purple...' He could clearly picture her sitting in front of her vanity, delicately brushing her hair over her shoulder, a shoulder that Stan had kissed many times. 'Now she has someone else to kiss it...' He abruptly stood up, slightly startling Pete who was sitting closest to him.

"I should go too." He grabbed his things and walked out the door without another word, making the other three stare at each other curiously.

"What crawled up his ass and died?" Henrietta arched one of her thin eyebrows. Pete stood up and flipped his bangs away from his face, picking up his backpack and lighting another cigarette.

"I'm going to go too. It's getting late, you should probably wake her up soon." He nodded toward Sophia and Michael slowly nodded.

"I will, in a little bit." He flicked the ash off his cigarette and Pete narrowed his eyes.

"She'll be in trouble if you don't do it soon." He gave him a meaningful look and Michael rolled his eyes.

"I'm aware." Pete nodded at Henrietta who's only response was blowing smoke at him. Pete made sure to shut the door behind him and silently went down the stairs. Now it was just the three of them and Henrietta couldn't contain her amusement any longer.

"You look like a guard dog with rabies." She smirked making Michael glare. "I wonder what Sophia would think of you snarling at anyone who so much as comes near her?"

"I doubt she'll care. And so what? It's not like anything will come of it." The taller boy looked bitter as breathed in deeply from his cancer stick.

"So you're admitting your affections? That your body and soul belong solely to her?"

"No, that'd be stupid." He looked away and glared at one of the candles burning near by. "Who needs that Ken and Barbie love anyway." His voice gave off that same bitter tone that was always there whenever he talked about relationships.

"Spare me your excuses Michael, you're disgustingly obvious." Henrietta rolled her eyes at her friend. She suddenly sighed, sounding as though what she was about to say was going to be really painful. "You two actually wouldn't be so bad for each other. Given that you're both scarred from your parents' mistakes, you'd be perfect together. A match made in hell, picked by Satan himself." She said a bit sarcastically at the end and Michael looked away from her.

"Shut up Henrietta." He managed to mumble.

"Well, you'd better do something soon because you two are painful to watch, it makes me want to throw up at your failed flirting attempts-"

"I get it!" He glared at her and her smirk only widened.

"Good. You should wake her up by the way, it's late and I don't want her to get in trouble just because you enjoy watching her sleep." Henrietta rolled her eyes and he sighed, softly grabbing Sophia's thin shoulder and gently jostling her.

Sophia POV

A hand was gently shaking my shoulder as I slowly opened my eyes. The first thing I saw was that it was really dark through Henrietta's window. The stars were twinkling at me, winking at me from the sky. A yawn slowly escaped my mouth as I rolled over onto my back and looked up at Michael. My bangs parted over my right eye and he stared down at it with the left corner of his mouth slightly tilting up, not exactly a smile, but he wasn't frowning.

"Hey." He said quietly as he stared into my deep brown eye, and after a deep breath I sat up, bangs falling into my face again as I reached under them to rub the sleep out of my eyes.

"What time is it?" I asked softly and he checked his phone, the brightened of the screen making me flinch as he held it towards me.

"It's just after midnight." I jolted up as if I were electrocuted and scrambled off of Henrietta's bed.

"Oh shit." I mumbled as I realized I wasn't wearing my shoes and looked for them under Henrietta's bed. The only people in the room were Henrietta and Michael, everyone else was understandably gone by now. "You guys should have woken me up, I hope my mom isn't still awake or she's going to go ape shit." I shoved my shoes on to my feet and sloppily tied them. Chances of my mom being passed out at this hour were about fifty-fifty, but those odds didn't do much to calm me.

"I was going to wake you up earlier, but you looked really tired." Michael looked away and I sighed, running a hand through my hair and fidgeting with the ends.

"Thanks, it's alright, I'll see you guys later." I grabbed my backpack and practically ran down the stairs, careful to be quiet because Mr. and Mrs. Biggle were probably asleep by now. Picking up my bike from their yard, I got on and pedaled as fast as I could, rushing down the dark streets that were illuminated only by a few flickering street lights. By the time I got home I was gasping for breath, going through the back gate to try and sneak in through the back door, praying the entire time to whoever would listen that my mom would be asleep.

3rd POV

The next day, five goth kids were sitting behind the gym, smoking as usual and ignoring their classes. Stan was starting to become worried about missing so much school, hoping his parents didn't get a phone call and find out, but didn't voice his thoughts. The goth kids usually skipped class, but would once in a while go just to keep the teachers off their backs so they wouldn't call their parents, or if they genuinely enjoyed a class they'd go more often.

"So this morning, my mom asked if I wanted to go shopping after school. That's a laugh, I told her I'm not some prep in a Brittany Spears music video that wants to waste a day at some stupid mall with a bunch of conformist posers. She totally started crying, serves that bitch right." Henrietta started off the conversation and everyone nodded.

"Yeah." They sighed in unison and all took a drag of their cigarettes. A notification that sounded like a horror movie scream suddenly rang and everyone looked at Michael who took out a slick, black, smart phone. The boy opened his texts and after a few seconds his eyes widened.

From Blind Whisper: She should be gone by now sent at 9:02am

From Blind Whisper: Come get me sent at 9:02am

From Blind Whisper: please sent at 9:03am

"We have to go." He got up and dropped his cigarette to the floor, grinding the toe of his shoe into it.

"What's up?" Pete stood up and put his hands in his pockets.

"It's Sophia, she needs us to go get her." Their eyes widened and they quickly stood up, walking quickly to the side parking lot where they'd be able to sneak out more easily than the front. Raven was surprised at how his usually lethargic friends were suddenly full of energy and running out of the school, their worry was almost palpable. He followed them silently, wondering why they suddenly had to go pick up Sophia.

Chapter Text

Sophia POV

By the time I got home I was gasping for breath, going through the back gate to try and sneak in through the back door, praying the entire time to whoever would listen that my mom would be asleep. I quietly took my key from my pocket and slowly pushed it into the keyhole, wincing at how loudly it seemed to ease in. My backpack slowly slipped from my shoulders and I carefully held it in my arms so it wouldn't make any noise or jostle around as I walked, taking my shoes off and leaving them near the door as an extra precaution. As slowly as I could, I pulled open the door and tiptoed into my house, my eyes desperately scanning the kitchen for any signs of my mom, a moving shadow or someone breathing, almost sighing in relief when I found none before I remembered the living room. The door closed quietly but the soft click of the knob, slowly settling into place, made me cringe. My teeth dug into my bottom lip as I held my breath, I'd only have to make a short trip through the living room and down the hall before I could hide in the safety of my room, for once thankful that, unlike most of the houses in South Park, this one was only one floor. Well, except for the basement, but that doesn't really count I suppose. My feet didn't make a sound as I stepped out of the kitchen and into the carpeted living room, slowly continuing my journey as my eyes adjusted to the dark.

I almost forgot how stealthy mom could be when she wasn't completely wasted.

The glass bottle breaking against the left side of my face made me scream, more in surprise than pain, shock didn't let me feel it quite just yet. My backpack fell out of my hands to the floor along with me before it was kicked away.

"You little bitch! Where have you been?!" My limbs flailed as I scrambled to get off the floor, rushing to go back the way I'd come. There was no doubt in my mind that she was furious and there was no explanation I could give that would save me from that. I pushed myself onto my knees and was about to lunge for the kitchen-

Another surprised scream left my mouth as her face was suddenly in front of mine.

"Probably out getting fucked by your emo friends aren't you! Just eager to continue this miserable life instead of actually making something out of yourself!" I fell back on my butt as she screamed at me, tensing up harder as she bent down to grab my hair, aiming for the crown of my head and dragging my head up. Her fingers tangled themselves in some of my hair and bangs, staring into my dual colored eyes with an angry expression. My eyes were wide and staring back into her's, seeing something flash in them before she suddenly slapped me hard. "Don't look at me like that!" I fell on my back and tried getting up again. "When I was your age I actually had dreams! I wanted something for myself!" She yelled almost hysterically as she grabbed my hair again and dragged me, I managed to stumble and crawl along with her so all my weight wouldn't be on my scalp. She opened a door and threw me inside, more painful groans and whimpers escaped me as I felt my body hitting stairs before finally landing on the floor. All that cushioned my fall was a few more glass bottles that broke under my weight. I'd been meaning to recycle those... "Well have fun getting pregnant then being left to die in this cruel world! You think those weirdos are your friends, but they'll drop you the second they get the chance!" She yelled before slamming the door loudly and locking it from the outside.

I don't know how much time passed as I shakily panted for air, but once I regained my bearings, I pushed myself off the floor, my breath hissing through my teeth as I felt glass cut into my palms. It's not the first time I've been thrown down in here when I've been home late or have done something to her her mad, but it's not exactly something I'm used to... My body slouched against the wall and I couldn't help but groan softly, reaching for my phone in my pocket and frowning when I saw a few cracks in it.

"Fuck." I muttered as I tried turning it on but it was dead. Already prepared, I moved to the darker corner of the room and plugged my phone into a charger I left here a while ago, bending the cable at an odd angle for it to work. The screen lit up showing me a red battery sign and I closed my eyes. It'd be a while before it was charged, not to mention there's shitty service down here... I absentmindedly ran my hand over my thigh and picked out a few pieces of glass, whimpering softly as I did. There didn't seem to be any glass on my face, but there was definitely a cut and some shards in my hair which I carefully pulled out. I curled up into a ball and picked up a dusty, old blanket, pulling the weird smelling material around myself and closing my eyes, wondering if Kenneth would ask me what all the screaming was about the next day...

My eyes slowly blinked open and the first thing I saw was my phone announcing that the battery was full. My internal clock told me it was still morning, but I had no idea what time. Sitting up more, I unplugged my phone and waited for it to fully turn on, groaning as the movement irritated my thigh. There was blood matting my hair to my face and sticking the material of my pants to my leg, that'd be fun to clean up. My body tensed up as I heard footsteps above me, quickly checking the time, I realized it would still be an hour before my mom left for work. I swallowed the lump in my throat and looked down at my phone. There wasn't much service in here, but I'd be able to send a text or two. Sitting back and making myself as comfortable as I could to wait, I picked up a half empty water bottle and drank it down in one gulp. My hair stuck to my face and pulled on my skin uncomfortably when I tried to get it off. Face cuts were the worst; no matter how small they were, they still managed to bleed dramatically and always looked worse than they actually were. My toes wiggled from inside my socks and I remembered that my shoes were outside, probably wet from the snow and morning dew by now. I waited silently as I heard my mom moving around upstairs, probably already forgetting that she left me down here. My eyes stared down at the lock screen of my phone, not daring to use the Internet to pass the time incase it interfered with the service, choosing instead to open it and look through the few pictures I had saved on the device, mostly of my friends and I together in different places. Henrietta usually took her mom's car so that we could have an easier time getting around; we sat together at cemeteries, horror parks, a museum of terror, Stark's Pond, and a clearing in the woods. All these pictures were taken at night, and we weren't exactly smiling and throwing up peace signs, but I only remembered good times when I looked at them...

I checked the time as I listened for any movement and heard none, deciding now would be the best time to send those texts since she seemed to be gone already. I scrolled through my short list of contacts before pressing the desired one.

To Tall, Dark, and Depressed: She should be gone by now sent at 9:02am

To Tall, Dark, and Depressed: Come get me sent at 9:02am

I hesitated before biting my lip and typing out one last word.

To Tall, Dark, and Depressed: please sent at 9:03am

I clutched my phone to my chest as I waited, biting my lip nervously. My eyes closed so my sense of hearing could focus more clearly as I desperately waited for my friends to come. Almost half an hour later, I heard someone banging on the front door before footsteps thudded loudly around the house, suddenly thankful that I forgot to lock the back door last night. The door opened loudly and multiple sets of feet ran inside, making small bits of dust fall from the basement's cieling.

"Sophia! Where are you?" They must be looking for me in my room.

"I-I'm in the basement!" I managed to yell out but my voice cracked a few times. The footsteps came closer and the door knob jiggled wildly.

"Sophia! Are you in here?" Michael's voice was uncharacteristically urgent as the door's lock clicked right before it slammed open against the wall, making me flinch.

"I'm down here." I barely managed to whisper. The relief of hearing my friends hit me like a punch to my gut, making my eyes involuntarily water as I got up quickly, wincing as the dry blood on my pants pulled on the skin of my thigh.

"Holy fuck, Sophia." Feet ran down the stairs as I walked toward the them, cursing when I stepped on some broken glass.

"M-Michael..." My voice shook as he stood next to me and looked me over, eyes widening at all the blood.

"No way..." He swallowed thickly. I reached forward and grabbed his jacket in my fists, breathing shakily as I leaned my forehead against his shoulder. All the anxiety and fear from last night came bubbling past my lips and I could barely keep it all in. His arms pulled me tightly against his chest, surrounding me with the warmth that the basement was lacking and making me feel safe for a few long seconds.

"You came." Was all I managed to whisper, remembering when I whispered those exact words what felt like a long time ago.

"You're okay now but, fuck, we need to get you out of here." I nodded and lifted each of my feet up to brush off any glass that stuck to my socks, making an uncomfortable face that he noticed. "Here." He held his arms out and pulled me to his side, supporting most of my weight. He managed to drag me upstairs with one of my arms firmly around his shoulder, my hand balling the material of his jacket in my fist, and the other wrapped tightly around my waist.

"It's not a big deal, I can at least walk..." I muttered horsely, using my free hand to try and wipe away the few tears that managed to get past my eyes and down my cheeks.

"You're hurt." Michael said softly and a little out of breath as he basically carried me upstairs.

"Oh fuck." Firkle ran at me and I smiled softly at his worried face. Pete had a look of disgust as he kicked a stray beer bottle, the glass clinking against the kitchen tile.

"We need to get her out of here." Henrietta glared and roughly exhaled the cigarette smoke out from between her lips.

"She can't walk like this." Firkle frowned and I sighed.

"I can walk-"

"No, it'll just aggravate your wounds." Michael glared at an old stain on the carpet and Raven watched me silently, his eyes wide and upset.

"I can carry you." He finally spoke up making the rest of the people in the room simultaneously quiet down.

"Can you make it to my house?" Henrietta broke the silence and he wordlessly nodded, taking long strides toward me. Before I could object, he pulled me out of Michael's hands and picked me up in a way I'd only seen men carry women in movies.

"Ow." I winced and tried to adjust in his arms, his wrist was pushing against my hurt thigh.

"Sorry." He muttered and put his hand under my knees. I looked down at my hands as he began walking out the back, Pete closed the door behind us.

"I'll bring your shoes." He flipped his bangs out of his face as he bent down to grab the wet footwear. It was a silent and tense walk to Henrietta's house, my friends didn't have the need to break it but I could tell Raven was anxious.

"Are you sure you can carry me all the way there? I can walk." I asked softly, trying to distract both of us; him from the tense silence and myself from the pain in my leg and face.

"It's fine." He muttered not looking at me.

"Of course, you're a jock." Michael scoffed softly from behind us and Firkle snorted.

"Jock?" My eyebrows furrowed and he sighed.

"Football team." He muttered and I rolled my eyes, remembering all the hype about South Park High's star quarterback during football season. How could I forget about the famous Stanley Marsh, leading the South Park cows to endless victories. People paid less attention to us then, which was a good thing I suppose.

"Won't your parents be home?" I whispered and Henrietta rolled her eyes.

"Just my mom, but she won't do anything." She shrugged and we continued our walk to her house, a few people stared at us making my skin crawl uncomfortably. Once we reached her house she walked right in and we followed.

"Sweetie? You're supposed to be in school right now! What are you- oh my god! I'll get the first aid kit!" Mrs. Biggle practically screamed and dropped the rolling pin she was using to make something, probably a pie or something.

"Shut up mom! Just hurry up and get us towels and the first aid kit!" Henrietta yelled as she led us upstairs to the bathroom.

"Sit her down here Raven." She nodded toward the toilet with the cover down and he nodded, sitting me extremely gently. Firkle came and knelt next to me, his eyes looking up at me in concern and I gently ran my fingers through his hair, silently assuring him I was okay. Raven backed away while I was sitting and Mrs. Biggle ran in with a white box that had a red cross and a stack of towels.

"I'll make you some tea dear!" She ran downstairs before Henrietta could yell at her.

"Let me see your face." She opened the box and I shifted uncomfortably, patting my bangs down out of habit, wincing when the blood on my face pulled on them. "Just do it." She held some antibacterial solution in one hand and a wet towel in the other. I sighed and closed my eyes before lifting my bangs out of my face, feeling uncomfortably exposed as I gently pulled on the matted down hair.

3rd POV

Stan swallowed the lump in his throat as he watched Sophia's hand disappear behind her bangs and lift them up. The air whooshed out of his lungs in shock. Her face was beautiful. Her forehead wasn't big like he had suspected, and her nose was thin and straight, leading up between two thin black eyebrows and big eyes. They were closed and had bags under them, but that wasn't what caught his attention. On the left side of her face, concentrated around her eye, there were multiple scars. Henrietta gently wiped the blood away and as she did, he was able to get a better look at her face. Some were older and faded to only thin silvery lines, but others were more recent and lightly bruised her face. The biggest one he saw ran from halfway up her forehead at the start of her left eyebrow, through the middle of the brow, and ended at the outer corner of her eye, leaving a small scar gap in the middle of her eyebrow. It didn't seem to run over her eyelid which was good because it probably would have damaged her sight.

He was ironically reminded of when he and his friends were the cause of a similar looking wound over Butter's left eye...

The most obvious cut must have been from last night. It ran down her temple to the top of her cheek bone and had dried blood all over it.

"Quit staring." Michael hissed angrily as he smacked Raven's shoulder, but that didn't stop him.

"It already has a scab forming, you shouldn't need stitches..." Henrietta muttered as she cleaned the wound.

"That's good at least." The hand holding her bangs was shaking so Henrietta reached over to grab a few bobby pins and clipped them up so she wouldn't have to hold them.

"Open your eye, I want to see if there's any glass in there or if it needs eye drops to clean out any blood." Sophia shifted uncomfortably, biting her lip and furrowing her eyebrows. She finally opened one eye, her right eye, it was a brown so dark it looked black, a pretty color that made Stan think of the woods at night from when his uncle Jimbo took him camping. The iris slowly moved over each one of them before the other one slowly opened.

"Holy shit dude." He softly gasped as her eye opened all the way. It was slightly red with irritation, but that wasn't what surprised him. He expected it to be the same dark color as her right eye...

Sophia's left eye was a deep, almost royal, purple with flakes of silvery grey around her pupil. The color lit up her face and contrasted with her dark hair. She looked around at her friends nervously before Michael stepped forward, grabbing her shoulder and leaning down to whisper in her ear.

"If he's bothering you, I can kick Raven out." He whispered but she shook her head, looking down at her shaking hands. Michael reached into his pocket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes, opening it and easing the butt of one out before offering it to Sophia who graciously took it. He put the pack back into his coat pocket and brought out a small bundle of matches, lighting one as Sophia brought the cigarette to her lips, letting her light it before shaking the match so the small fire would go out and flicking it into the trash can. After a calming breath of smoke, Sophia turned her eyes back to Henrietta who held her face and leaned in closer to examine her eye.

"Seems fine, just a little irritated. You probably got blood in it." She shrugged and eased her head back to put an eye drop in.

"Now, let's look at your leg." She began pulling at the ripped cloth making Sophia softly hiss. "Ah, the glass and dried blood." She grabbed more antiseptic and Firkle flipped open his pocket knife, carefully slicing away the cloth at the seam so Henrietta could take a better look. The bigger girl sighed before opening the bathroom mirror, bringing out some tweezers and rubbing alcohol.

"I brought tea!" Mrs. Biggle practically sang as she came back in, startling everyone since the bathroom had been relatively quiet so far, and gently pushed the mug into Sophia's hands. "It's so nice to see your eyes for a change!" Everyone stiffened as she finally addressed the pink elephant in the room. "You have such a pretty face dear, I have a few cute hair clips I can give you. My little Henrietta doesn't like them, but I'm sure-"

"Get the fuck out you conformist bag of demon jizz!" Henrietta screamed making the older woman frown. She slightly pouted and turned to leave, slightly huffing as she did.

"Fatty." She muttered under her breath as she left. Sophia sipped on her tea, Pete lit a cigarette, Firkle put away his blade as Henrietta kneeled next to him, and Michael seemed to be glaring at Raven who hadn't taken his eyes off her face.

"Theres just a little bit of glass, I guess you got out all the bigger pieces already. These cuts aren't too deep, but your thigh is pretty scratched up." Henrietta commented offhandedly and Sophia nodded slowly.

"You can ask." She said softly, turning to look at Raven who was finally shaken out of his obvious staring, trying to ignore the warm towel being rubbed over her leg.

"You don't have to-" Michael began but his mouth snapped shut once Sophia's eyes flitted over to him and she smiled softly. When her full lips curved upwards, they made her eyes soften in a way that made Michael freeze where he stood, unable to look away from the rare sight. Her smiles were usually reserved for Firkle or when they were in the woods or cemetery.

"It's okay Michael, " She assured him softly. "Raven is one of us right? If he came to help, he should at least be able to ask." Her dual colored eyes stared deeply into Michael's dark ones. He sighed and nodded, stepping out of the room along with Pete who offered him a cigarette.

"So, um, you're one of my friend's neighbor." Raven said a little awkwardly and she nodded.

"Yes, I actually already know Kenneth." He nodded as he rubbed the back of his neck and the only sound for the next few minutes was Henrietta working on the injured leg.

"So, um-"

"Get out Raven, she needs to get cleaned up before I can bandage her." Henrietta stood up and washed her hands, lighting a cigarette right afterwards. Sophia stood up a bit shakily and smiled gently.

"We can talk later." She said softly as she reached up to pull the clips out of her dirty hair, hiding her eyes once more.

Pete and Michael were sitting in Henrietta's room, one sulking and the other watching quietly. Smoke slowly rose from their lips as they quietly enjoyed their nicotine. Pete was sitting on a black beanbag chair and Michael was sulking on the floor, glaring at nothing in particular.

"I didn't realize Sophia was into jocks." Pete flipped his bangs out of his face and Michael frowned, squeezing his hands into fists. "You're going to lose your chance." He added in a softer tone making the taller boy narrow his eyes.

"I don't know what you're talking about." He scoffed and took another drag. "As if I'd care about something so insignificant. No need to offer up myself on a silver platter just so I can follow in my parents' footsteps and have my own broken family in ten years." He flicked the ash off his cigarette bitterly and his red haired companion sighed.

"Whatever, you're not fooling anyone." He rolled his eyes and flipped his bangs again. "Just don't go emo on us if she suddenly gets close to Rav-"

"Just leave it alone Pete." Michael flicked his cigarette butt into one of the many ash trays around the room, quickly lighting up another one and taking a deep drag from it. Pete stared at his tall friend for a while before rolling his eyes. It was no secret that Michael and Sophia had similar issues growing up. Having a broken family was tough, something that they both related to so it wasn't surprising how they grew closer faster than the rest of their group, or how Sophia seemed to trust Michael the most. Sure, by now they were all close as can be, but instances like today showed who her mind thought of first. She had the rest of their phone numbers, her reaching out to Michael wasn't something random, and the fact that he freaked out in an almost un-goth way drove this point further home.

With this came another issue.

As an unstated rule, goths weren't lovey-dovey with each other the way conformists normies were, add that to the fact that they were both unwilling towards relationships given their family issues, and all you're left with is awkwardness that was ironically only felt by those not involved. Pete wasn't sure of Sophia's exact feelings for Michael, but there was definitely something there; Michael, on the other hand, couldn't be more obvious to everyone, except himself, with his constant denial of said feelings. Pete sighed and flipped his bangs, grinding his cigarette butt into a nearby ashtray.

"Whatever."

Chapter Text

3rd POV

"Charles, are you sure about this?" A petite woman who looked younger than her actual years asked a tall man with salt and pepper hair.

"Sure I'm sure, this is what I've been waiting for these past few years." The man was broad shouldered and hunched over a desk in what appeared to be an at-home office, signing a few papers before stapling them together.

"What if she doesn't want to meet you, or doesn't know about you, or hates you-"

"Then it'll be her choice, but I owe it to her to give her the opportunity to choose." He pulled some wire-rimmed reading glasses off of his face and faced the blond woman. Her arms were crossed and full lips pouted, a sign that showed her distaste for the situation despite her acceptance of it. "Sarah," Charles enveloped the petite woman's small hands in his bigger ones. "She's my daughter, I have to meet her at least once."

"I know." Sarah sighed and rolled her eyes as Charles kissed her hands, an obvious attempt to butter her up. "Do you even know where she is?"

"I have an idea and have been really narrowing down the area. She's somewhere in Colorado." There was an edge of nervousness in his voice now.

"What about Christine? Who knows what's become of her life?" Sarah asked uncomfortably, the thought of her ex best friend made an almost painful ball of nerves twist around in her gut. The man sighed and pulled her closer, resting his head above her heart.

"We're both adults, I'm sure we'll be able to talk things out civilly." He shrugged and she ran her fingers through his wavy hair.

"I hope you're right." They held each other in silence for a few minutes before she squeezed Charles' shoulders and suddenly spoke. "I want to come with you." Charles furrowed his eyebrows and pulled away to look at her.

"Are you sure? I don't mind going alone and I know how apprehensive you feel about Christine..."

"I know you know, but like you said, we're all adults now, and I think it's time I took some responsibility as well." She had a determined glint in her eyes and he sighed.

"Alright, but you'll have to ask your mom if she can keep an eye on the kids while we go."

"Of course." Sarah smiled and kissed his forehead. "Just let me know when to start planning the trip!" She sashayed out of the room and he rolled his eyes.

"It's not a vacation you know! It'll be a life changing experience!" He called after her but she probably didn't hear him. He shook his head and turned back to the thick stack of papers on his desk. They were in a large manila folder labeled "Sophia Harte", about five years worth of work laid in front of him. "I'm so close." He muttered softly, purple and grey eyes flashing determinedly. "Papa's coming Sophia, just you wait."

Sophia POV

Once I was left alone, I pulled off my torn jeans and dirty shirt, wondering if it'd be worth it to try and salvage my pants. I stripped down and began filling the tub with warm water, folding my clothes neatly and leaving them on the toilet seat I had just stood up from. I crossed my arms over my chest as I waited for the water to rise, staring at it splashing against the walls of the tub. There isn't a tub in my bathroom, just a shitty shower... Once the tub was about two thirds of the way full, I turned off the water and slowly sank in, hissing softly as the hot water splashed against my thigh. My body reclined and I dipped my head back so my hair would get wet, immediately feeling the weight of the water in it as I sat back up. A soft knock caught my attention and I crossed my arms over my chest again, sinking a bit deeper into the water.

"Who is it?" I called softly.

"Sophia? I'm going to leave these inside." Henrietta knocked again before opening the door and reaching in to leave some clothes on the sink.

"You can leave my clothes, I'll throw them in the washer when I'm done." I murmured but she took them anyway.

"It's fine, they'll get a head start on washing." She stepped into the bathroom and closed the door behind her. I hugged my knees to my chest as she stepped towards me with a cigarette, placing it on my lips when I opened my mouth, and lighting it.

"Thanks." I mumbled as I held the stick with my teeth.

"Are you, like, sure you're okay?" She took a drag of her own cigarette and looked away.

"Um, yeah, I should be okay. My wounds should heal over in a couple of days and hopefully the scars will fade in a few months." I looked away awkwardly, taking a deep breath full of smoke. For a few minutes, the only sound in the bathroom was our breathing and the soft lapping of the water at the edges of the tub.

"Michael was really worried about you. We all were." She turned towards the door. I immediate felt a swell of affection rise inside me as Henrietta awkwardly shared her feelings.

"I really appreciate you guys, you know." My voice came out softly and for a second I was worried that she didn't hear me.

"We know." She opened the door and walked out again, leaving me alone. I finished my cigarette and began washing my hair, scrubbing my fingers tenderly where that bottle hit me. My thoughts flew through memories of other bottles hitting me, some flying at me and others coming out of nowhere. My fingers ran through my hair, taking out the worst of the knots and squeezing all the suds out. After I was done with that, I began scrubbing my body, being extra careful around my thigh. The dirty water went down the drain and I rinsed myself off one last time before stepping out and wrapping a soft towel around myself. The clothes Henrietta left me were mostly from a change of clothes I had left behind a while ago; black cotton panties, striped fuzzy socks, and pajamas Henrietta had given me for a past birthday, some loose satin shorts with a matching camisole that was slightly padded at the chest so I wouldn't need a bra. I'd slept over a couple of times -her parents didn't mind and were actually glad she was doing something "appropriate for a girl her age"- and she noticed I usually just wore old clothes to sleep. Being the Gothic Queen she is, not to mention an amazing friend, she said I'd look more like a succubus if I wore something like this to sleep. Unfortunately, I decided to leave the pajamas here, not wanting my mom to get angry over my gift and potentially throw them away while I wasn't looking. But, thankfully, on occasions like these the pajamas came in handy. Of course, it was still pretty early but I didn't really feel like going out, especially with the night I'd had, and I'm sure Benny's will understand considering the times I've called in sick for work were far and few between. I slowly dressed myself in the pajamas and rubbed the towel all over my hair, trying to squeeze out all the water that was still in there after wringing it out. Once I was done I left my towel in the laundry basket and walked to Henrietta's room, carrying the mug I'd left in the bathroom.

"Oh! You can go ahead and give me that dear." Mrs. Biggle came out of nowhere and practically snatched the mug from my hands. "Feel free to stay in Bradley's old room or just let me know and I'll set up somewhere for you to sleep in Henrietta's room." I nodded and took the plate of food she practically thrust into my hands, swallowing the lump in my throat at the kindness she was showing me.

"Thank you Mrs. Biggle, I really appreciate it." I said softly and sincerely, making her smile soften.

"It's no problem at all Sophia, you know you're welcome here anytime you'd like, for as long as you'd like." Her words were heavy with an added meaning and I nodded slowly, knowing she was offering to let me stay for a while so things can have a chance to cool off with my mom.

"I'll keep that in mind." I bit my lip and she smiled again before heading downstairs. The plate had a hot pocket, some chips, and mixed berries. My feet carried me to Henrietta's room and they all looked up as I walked in.

"A little early for pajamas, isn't it?" Pete flipped his hangs out of his face and I shrugged.

"Who says I have to conform to what society deems appropriate for me to wear during the day?" He rolled his eyes but I could see a small smirk tugging at his lips. "I don't think I'll be going out much today so I decided to skip ahead and wear pajamas." I said softly and sat down on Henrietta's bed, picking up a chip and pushing it into my mouth.

"I'm going to wrap your wounds so they don't get infected." The bigger girl walked toward me with a first aid box and I nodded. She sat cross legged in the bed next to me and examined my leg, getting out a bottle of rubbing alcohol and a tube of antibiotic ointment. I relaxed my leg and let her do her work, eyes softening as I saw Firkle sit behind me with a hairbrush and gently run it through my hair. This went on for a few minutes and I appreciated how gentle Henrietta was being with me, just barely brushing her fingers over the wounds and making sure the bandages weren't too tight. While she worked on me, I continued eating the chips and bit into the hot pocket, wincing when the filling scalded my mouth, slowly chewing and moving my leg when she needed me to. "Now your face." I nodded as Firkle began brushing my bangs back, holding them in place for her so she could freely work on my face. "Try not to sleep on that side of your face, I'm assuming you're staying over right?" She finished up with just some gauze and medical tape and Firkle let my bangs go, letting them fall back into my face. I nodded and bit into the hot pocket again, immediately regretting it as my tongue got burnt again. I slowly chewed and tried not to spit it out as the younger goth ran his fingers through my hair.

"Are you staying in your room?" Michael spoke up from where he was lounging on the floor and I shrugged.

"It's not really my room, but I think I'll sleep in there for a bit, you guys probably want to hang out and I don't want to be in the way."

"It might as well be your room, I don't think that twerp is ever coming back." Henrietta rolled her eyes. I've never actually met Bradley, but turns out he was adopted and went to go live with his real family some time during elementary school after he found out about his parentage.

"Oh yeah, I almost forgot about Bradley..." Raven muttered and I wondered how they knew each other, probably from the last time he was goth or something.

"I don't think it's right for me to claim a room in your house..." My fingers picked at the half eaten hot pocket, it was still pretty hot so I mainly focussed on finishing the chips, I'd leave the fruit for later so it could cool down my mouth.

"It's whatever." Henrietta rolled her eyes and lit a cigarette. I pulled my knees up to my chest, licking the salt off my fingers as a soft yawn suddenly escaped my mouth.

"You should sleep, I doubt basement floors are very comfortable." Michael stood up and I nodded, picking up my plate as I stood from the bed, my legs slightly shaky.

"Yeah, I should probably head to bed now." I said softly, walking to the door.

"Just call if you need anything." Pete flicked his bangs out of his face and I nodded, Michael following me as I left the room. Bradley's room was much brighter than Henrietta's, two of the walls facing each other were a soft teal color and the other two were white, the only thing out of place was some thick black curtains at the window which was open with the sun was still pretty high in the sky.

"Are you okay?" Michael asked as he closed the curtains to block some of the sun and I put the plate on the bedside table. The room dimmed quite a bit once the curtains were shut.

"Yeah, I'm fine." I sat down on the soft comforter, running my hand over it absentmindedly. We were silent for a few moments before he suddenly spoke up.

"You don't have to go back." His fists clenched at his sides and I raised an eyebrow. "Any of us would let you stay over. Henrietta's mom especially." He shoved his hands into his pockets and looked away.

"I couldn't do that to any of you, I wouldn't want to be a burden." My voice came out softly, it wasn't the first time we'd had this conversation.

"No one would mind." He lit a cigarette and took a deep drag from it, his hand lightly shaking. As much as we claimed to like cigarettes for the aesthetic, we were all pretty hooked on the nicotine.

"I'm sure their wallets would." I picked up a blueberry and let it fall into my mouth.

"You pay half the expenses at your house anyway. You're a good kid, way better behaved than any of us, as conformist as that is." He started pacing, clearly agitated. I furrowed my eyebrows a little concerned, it wasn't often Michael lost his cool. "You shouldn't have to live with that bitch. You don't deserve-"

"Sit with me." I interrupted him and grabbed his hand as he passed by me, stopping him in his tracks and making the words die in his mouth. Silently, he took a seat next to me, sinking into the soft bed and reaching his hand up to take another breath of smoke.

"I wish I didn't have to go back either, but the last thing I want to do is be an unnecessary burden to someone." He turned to look at me and just as he opened his mouth to say something, I pressed a blackberry against his lips. He stared at me for a few seconds before loosening his lips out of their tense position and letting the berry roll into his mouth. My finger pressed against his dry lips and I pulled away once I felt him begin to chew. "Your favorite, right?" I smiled as he looked away, turning his face away from me.

"No, why would I have a favorite fruit? That's stupid and conformist." He huffed but I could tell he wasn't really annoyed as he chewed and lifted his cigarette to his lips once more.

"If you say so." I let a small smile spread across my lips and he shrugged as I put a few blueberries into my mouth. He turned to look at me again and I smiled a little wider as I stared into his eyes. "You really don't have to worry, it rarely ever gets this bad." My voice was soft and the smile slipped off my lips, instead replaced by my teeth.

"That's what you say every time this happens." He reached forward and brushed my bangs out of my face with his free hand, his eyes were hooded as they looked over me. I bit my lip a little harder as I stared into his deep, dark, eyes. "That bitch doesn't have a right to mark you like this." He said softly and I closed my eyes but could still feel his intense gaze.

"My face is already fucked, I don't think one more will do much." His breathing stuttered and the hand that held my bangs tensed up.

"That's not true, you're-"

"Ahem..." Someone coughed a little awkwardly and Michael immediately let go of my hair. I patted my bangs down and turned to look at the open door where Raven was stepping into the threshold, looking incredibly uncomfortable. "Um, you said we could talk, but I can go if-"

"It's whatever." Michael got up and walked out with his head down and his cigarette between his lips. I sighed and looked down before grabbing the hot pocket still on the plate and biting into it. It was cold.

"It's fine, come in." He stepped in a little awkwardly and I finished what was left on the plate as he shifted his weight from foot to foot.

"I didn't mean to interrupt anything..." He stood next to the bed and I shook my head.

"Don't worry, that was nothing." I pulled back the comforter and tucked my legs in, leaning back on the headboard as I stared at the jock-gone-goth. "What did you want to talk about?"

"Is this," he hesitated before his hand waved over my bandaged leg and face. "something that happens often?" I shrugged and picked up the last berry on my plate, a big red strawberry.

"Not really. It's happened a few times over the years, but it isn't something you have to worry about dealing with too often." I bit into the juicy fruit and he nodded. "I'd like to thank you for what you did today, you barely know me yet you came along to help anyway. I owe you one and I think you deserve some answers." I watched him bite his lip as he hesitated, staring at the plain teal wall

"Why does it happen?" His eyes moved over the dark curtains and I shrugged.

"My mom has issues that she, evidently, feels should be taken out on me." It was the simplest way I could explain the situation.

"That isn't right..." He looked down and I shrugged.

"I'm sure there are people who have it worse."

"Why doesn't your dad do anything?" His eyebrows furrowed and I looked away.

"I've never met the man." The silence after that was deafening, I could hear him swallow thickly.

"Sorry." He muttered and I pulled the comforter and blankets a little tighter around myself, settling into the amazingly soft bed.

"Don't be." I placed my phone on the bedside table near the plate, it didn't seem like he'd be saying anything anytime soon so I decided to keep the conversation going. "How do you know Bradley?"

"Oh, um, we used to play together as kids." He sounded embarrassed and I laid back against a small mountain of pillows.

"What did you play?" My head tilted to the side as I tried to imagine something he would have been interested in as a child.

"We had a super hero game, but we stopped playing that a long time ago." I nodded and folded my hands in my lap, he finally looked over at me. "So, um, I hope this isn't too personal or anything, but, uh, how did you become goth? Henrietta mentioned that you weren't goth when they found you..." My eyebrows shot up and I sat up a little straighter.

"Oh, well, that's a pretty long story." I shrugged a little awkwardly.

"You don't have to tell me if you don't want to?" His eyebrows furrowed and I sighed.

"No, it's fine, get comfortable because this is going to take a while." I offered him a pillow and a seat on the bed, a somber smile made its way to my face as I remembered that night....

3rd POV

Michael huffed as he stomped back into Henrietta's room, his face was flushed an unattractive, splotchy red and his hand was fisted, crushing the cigarette that rested between his fingers.

"Something wrong Michael?" Henrietta smirked wickedly. The taller boy glared at her, fixing his mouth in a tight, unimpressed line.

"Nothing." He rolled his eyes and sat back down in his place on the floor. Firkle suddenly let out a loud giggle, smirking at the older boy with bright, amused eyes.

"Worry not Michael, Raven will most likely leave her alone once he's satisfied his curiousity. Probably." He added unconvincingly at the end making Michael scowl.

"Leave him alone Firkle, we don't want him wallowing." Pete flipped his bangs out of his face, an amused little smirk on his lips.

"You're all insufferable!" Michael practically growled as he clenched his teeth and angrily tossed away the ruined cigarette, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a carton. "Perfect. Just perfect." He glared at the small, paper box. The small, empty, paper box. "I'll be back later." He rose to his feet and left without another word, a vein pulsing in his forehead and the sound of his friends' snickering trailing behind him.

"No it's fine, get comfortable because this is going to take a while." He heard Sophia's soft voice and glared at the floor. A fresh wave of irritation washed over him as he heard the soft sound of something heavy settling on a soft mattress. "I'm not sure where to start..." She murmured softly.

"Um, why don't you just start at the begining. Have you always lived in South Park?" Without knowing, Michael stopped outside the door to listen, but at the sound of Raven's voice he scoffed and went down the stairs.

"Oh, are you leaving already dear?" Henrietta's mom smiled sweetly at him and he scowled at nothing in particular.

"I'll be back later." He muttered and walked out the door, trying not to slam the door too hard behind him. He shoved his hands in the pockets of his black jacket, walking the familiar street to the liquor store. It wasn't the closest one, but the owner never made a fuss over minors buying cigarettes. His annoyance spiked as he thought of Raven. He never had a problem with him before; despite being a conformist, the blue eyed boy was pretty cool. It would have been fine if he wanted to wallow in self pity and hang out with them at the same time, but the fact that he seems to be getting close to Sophia bothered the curly haired boy. Why would he try to be her friend if he's just going to leave again anyway? It was unfair to Sophia and his friend didn't deserve that. Or at least, that's how he justified his annoyance. "I'll take two packs." He probably slammed the money on the counter a bit too roughly, but he was beyond the point of caring. He walked out of the store and pulled a cigarette out of the new box, lighting it and taking a generous inhale, holding it for a few seconds before slowly exhaling.

"Token is so sweet! Look at what he bought me!" He looked over and saw Wendy Testaburger gushing at Bebe Stevens about some charm bracelet she had on.

"Wow! Are the jewels real?" The blond's eyes were wide and the black haired girl nodded proudly.

Wendy Testaburger.

Conformist cheerleader and the source of Raven's anguish.

The tall boy's eyes narrowed as he studied the cheerleader, watching her freak out with her conformist friend over some stupid bracelet.

Hmm, interesting.

Chapter Text

Sophia POV

~About 5 years ago~

My hands were pressed against the window of the bus we were in, staring at more snow than I'd ever seen before.

"Are we going to live in South Park from now on?" I asked my mom nervously and she sighed as she scrolled through her phone.

"I don't know, okay? Just sit down and be quiet." I could tell she was irritated so I sat back down and buckled my seat belt, swinging my legs back and forth. It wasn't uncommon for us to move around, I've already done it more times than there are fingers on one of my hands, so the prospect of being able to stay in one place for a long time really made me nervous. Apparently the houses here were really cheap, so cheap that even my mom could afford to pay one off with her meager salary.

The bus passed through the city and pretty soon we were going through a smaller town. There seemed to be a few big stores, but besides that there were only small shops. I pulled along my suitcase and slung on my backpack as i followed mom, huffing a little as I tried to catch up with her longer strides. It was really cold here, colder than I was used to, but in a way it felt nice. I breathed deeply and the cold Colorado air filled my lungs. The air here felt clean and really crisp compared to other places we've lived in, but the cold air kind of hurt my nose.

"Are we almost there?" We seemed to be getting away from the shops and we now walked through some residential streets. All the houses looked the same; two floors and a front yard, probably a back yard, and almost all of them had a car in their driveway. There were a few kids playing on the street and they stared at me as I walked by. I tried waving but they turned around and ignored me. They could probably tell i wasn't from around here, but that's okay, I'll have time to meet them later.

Pretty soon, we were getting closer to some train tracks and just as we walked over them, the mood shifted. There were a few homeless people around and some rundown shops that look like a few of the popular ones hipsters used to frequent a few years ago. The first house I saw had tattered curtains in the windows, a rundown car in the driveway, and a few crates in the front yard along with a broken bike. The houses here didn't have two floors and looked a little bit longer, but it was nicer than a few of the other places I've been. We suddenly stopped in front of a gray colored house. There were a few broken windows, someone sprayed graffiti on the side, the small gate leading to the backyard was hanging on its hinges, and the front yard had some trash thrown on it, but it was ours and hopefully we'd be living here for a long time.

"I like it." I said softly, a warm hopefulness filling my chest.

"Just get inside." Mom sighed and opened the door.

I guess the last people who lived here didn't take all their furniture. There was an old couch with a weird stain -that I hoped wasn't blood- in the living room, and a dented microwave in the kitchen. I peeked into the other rooms and found a really dirty bathroom, two bedrooms, and a closet. I let out a small shriek when I opened the closet door because a few rats ran out as soon as the afternoon light hit them. I walked over to another door and opened it but softly gasped as I saw what was there, or lack thereof. All I could see were a steps leading down into a pitch black room that seemed like the entrance to a different dimension or something. I lightly shook my head to clear it before closing the door and walking back out to the living room, seeing mom sprawled on the floor. She had her eyes closed, but I could tell she wasn't asleep by the way her eyebrows were pinched together and the forceful way she was breathing. Quietly moving around her, I walked toward the back door and walked out to see the backyard. There was some garbage strewn around along with a few flat tires and plenty of weeds popping out of the soil. It would take a whole day's worth of hard work but I was sure I could clean up the backyard nicely. Maybe I could even get a pet! I walked back inside and looked around the kitchen. There wasn't anything edible in the refrigerator, just a lump of something that looked like it'd been rotting for a long time. I connected the fridge's plug into the wall and heard it start humming softly as it turned on.

"Uh, mom?" I called out into the living room and heard a loud sigh.

"What?" She called back irritably.

"There's no food." I walked into the living room and she opened her eyes to glare at me.

"I'm tired." She stood up and grabbed her bag, walking into the bigger of the two rooms and slamming the door behind her. I sighed and grabbed my own things, walking to my room.

The walls were a faded white and there was some graffiti in the corner, but it was mine, my own room. I put my things down and sat in the middle of the room; there wasn't a bed, and I wasn't brave enough to check if there was anything behind the closed closet doors. There was an old dresser that looked ready to fall apart, but it was better than nothing. I put my things down and sat on my suitcase as I unpacked my backpack, taking out a small bag of peanuts that i had begun eating on the trip here. As soon as I was finished with my snack i walked around the house checking to see what worked and what didn't. There was electricity and the water worked just fine -although I had to let it run for a few minutes so it could come out clean- but the air conditioning system, both hot and cold, wouldn't turn on meaning it was probably broken. I finally plucked up the courage to check the closets and cupboards and was relieved to only find a few spiders.

Mom was asleep the whole time, so I wandered out to the backyard, kind of bored of the inside of the house. I kicked a bit of snow around and sat on an old tire, thinking about how long it would take me to clean up the backyard.

"Hey!" I heard a slightly high pitched voice call. I turned around and saw a little girl with brown hair in pigtails.

"Um, hi." I slowly stood up from the tire and she smiled at me.

"Are you our new neighbor?" She asked sweetly and I nodded.

"Yeah, I just moved in today." I smiled and walked closer to the fence she was peeking over. Just as she was about to say something else, I heard a voice shout from inside the house.

"Sophia! Where the hell are you?" Mom shouted and I sighed.

"I guess I'd better go back inside, it was nice meeting you though." I waved at the little girl before running inside. "I’m here mom." She crossed her arms and sighed loudly.

"Come on, we're going to the store." She pulled on her jacket and picked up the house keys from the counter. I nodded and ran inside my room to grab the jacket I left in there. It was kind of late when we walked out, the sun wasn't setting yet, but it was pretty low in the sky. We walked for about twenty minutes to a local grocery store and got a shopping cart before going inside. I stayed close to my mom and walked quietly beside her, letting her pick out what she wanted in peace. While she was busy picking out some vegetables, I looked around and noticed a few other families in the store. Some of them turned to whisper about us and others didn't bother to keep their voices down.

"There's that new family."

"Is it just them two?"

"Yeah, that lady's a single mom."

"The girl has some weird eyes."

"Yeah, wonder if there's anything else wrong with her."

"I heard they moved in to the houses near where Sodosopa used to be, across the train tracks."

"You mean where all those poor and homeless people are?"

"Yeah, gross."

I looked up nervously at mom, I could tell she was angry as she left the cart in the middle of the isle and walked back towards the entrance. Struggling to keep up, I jogged to stay next to her as she muttered angrily to herself. One of the reasons we moved away from the city was because she couldn't it stand it once the neighbors found out more about us and began talking; but I guess in a town as small as this word travels a lot faster.

"Um, mom, where are-"

"Shut up." I bit my lip and quickly shut my mouth, recognizing her tone. We walked for a few more minutes before I could see a liquor store in the distance. My eyebrows furrowed as I slowed down my steps, watching her practically stomp inside. Already a few yards behind her, I could see her bump into someone and continue as if nothing happened towards the back where the cheap beer probably was.

"Oh no." I muttered softly, nothing good ever happened when she bought stuff from there.

3rd POV

Michael and Firkle hung back near the entrance of the liquor store in case there needed to be a hasty escape, Firkle holding a bag full of drinks and snacks they had just bought that would be later eaten at the cemetery. A hasty escape might be needed because, currently, Pete and Henrietta were trying to smooth talk the cashier into selling them cigarettes, weaving together a story about how they didn't have their IDs on them and they had a rare disease that made them look younger than they actually were. Usually the group of goths didn't have a problem getting cigarettes, but the old man who used to sell them to them at the other liquor store closer to the center of town suddenly died; the guy who replaced him was an asshole who said that if he was going to sell cigarettes to minors, they'd have to give him a little extra to make it worth his while. This was fine and dandy, but eventually the guy started enjoying the smell of his own farts a bit too much and began demanding that they pay him more; naturally, they told him to go fuck himself, which brings them to their current situation.

While they waited, out of nowhere, some lady practically slammed open the door. It hit Firkle in the shoulder and made him stumble into Michael while simultaneously dropping all the snacks on the floor. The lady didn't even acknowledge them as she practically ran to the back of the store.

"I hope you die you conformist bitch!" Michael yelled after her as he bent down to help Firkle pick up the packets of junk food. They could hear the door open again from behind them, albeit this time more slowly.

"I'm sorry about her; here, let me help." A thin girl with black hair suddenly knelt down next to the small goth and began picking up the snacks, gently placing them in the plastic bag before standing up. Michael scowled at the girl as Firkle wordlessly accepted the bag full of snacks.

"We didn't need your-" He cut himself off as she turned toward him.

Weirdly enough, the only thing he could think of was that she looked kind of like Wednesday Addams.

Her skin was pale, like alabaster, and her nose was thin and long, but in an elegant sort of way; it reminded him about the fancy women he saw in a book about the Black Plague. Her eyebrows were dark and thicker than Henrietta's, and her eyes were framed by equally as dark lashes.

He swallowed hard as he stared at those eyes; they practically wailed nonconformity at him. One, an almost black dark brown, the other, a lighter purple that glittered like a jewel at him.

Their staring contest was broken by something slamming on a countered and a muffled grunt. The three of them looked over and saw that the same woman from before shoved Pete onto Henrietta and slammed her case of beer on the counter. The girl next to them flinched and sighed tiredly.

"I really am sorry about her." She repeated softly as the woman completed her transaction with a handful of wadded up bills. Without even looking at the girl, she began walking out of the liquor store, the girl biting her lip nervously as she did. "Well, uh, I guess I'll see you around." She ended awkwardly as she walked out of the store, the motion sensor by the door chiming annoyingly as she did.

"Who was that?" Henrietta crossed her arms as Pete grabbed the cigarettes the guy at the counter finally sold them.

"Who knows?" Firkle began walking out and the rest followed his lead. Cigarettes were passed around and they began their trek to the cemetery, a head of curly hair quickly dismissing the girl from the liquor store, he'd probably never even speak to her again, so there was no point dwelling.

Chapter Text

Sophia POV

~About 5 years ago~

I ran out of my house as fast as I could. I had no idea where I was going and it was raining, but all I knew was that I had to get as far from my house as I could, who knows what would happen if I stayed. Sobs and gasps tore from my throat as I finally slowed my trek. I looked around and saw I was in a pretty empty street; it wasn't residential, but there weren't many shops around either, just a flower shop and a liquor store. Farther away I could see some sort of park that had a gate around it. I sat down on the sidewalk curb and buried my face in my knees as I continued sobbing, trying and failing to control my breathing. Blood dripped into my eye and down my face, some even going into my mouth, making me spit it out disgustedly.

Sure, in the past mom had hit me before. I wasn't a stranger to a swat on the seat of my pants or the occasional smack to the face. Once, mom even grabbed my face and shoved me into the wall, but she had been really drunk that time and didn't acknowledge the bruise on my face the next day. I'm sure I'm not the only kid who's gotten hit by their parents at some point or another.

All those times were nothing compared to what she did today. I guess the stress of moving and what happened in the grocery store caught up to her. The tips of my fingers gently touched the wound that went through my eyebrow, I flinched as I did and immediately pulled my hand back. Just as I thought I was getting my breathing under control, the implications of what would have happened if she had aimed just a tiny bit lower made my sobs come back full force with a vengeance.

At this point, the rain completely soaked through my clothes and hair, leaving me shivering on the sidewalk. Suddenly, I could hear footsteps grow nearer, momentarily snapping me out of my panic and into a brand new one; I'm a little girl, alone on the street, late at night, in an unfamiliar place. I hugged my knees closer to my chest, making myself as small as possible, and hoped that whoever was walking by would ignore me. Whoever it was, stopped right next to me and my fists clenched until my knuckles turned white.

'Please go away, please go away, please go away, please go-'

"Why are you sitting in the rain, this isn't some conformist boyband music video." Well, judging by the voice alone, I could cross out the danger of it being some gross old guy. I peeked my good eye up at him.

"Oh, I saw you in the liquor store." I said softly, immediately recognizing the curly hair and sharp features. He raised an eyebrow and leaned a bit more of his body weight onto a cane made of dark wood.

"You didn't answer my question." He stated dryly and there was suddenly a lump in my throat.

"I can't go home." My face hid itself in my knees again as the panic of potential kidnapping went away.

"Why not?" His voice didn't sound as bored as before, it lost most of its dry quality and could even pass for curious if it wasn't for how monotone it was. The hitch in my chest was the only warning I got before my shoulders began shaking with the effort to repress my sobs. It took a few moments for me to respond without my voice shaking.

"My mom isn't herself right now." I slowly looked up at him.

"What do you..." His voice died off and his eyes widened as the street light illuminated my face. I could still feel blood dripping from my eyebrow down my face in a small, warm river. "No way." He scrunched his eyebrows together and I flinched as cold rain water splattered on the cut over my eye. I whimpered softly and kept my left eye closed. He seemed to be thinking pretty hard about something as he visibly swallowed the lump in his throat and tapped his cane on the sidewalk. "So, uh, seems like your life fucking sucks right now, doesn't it?"

"K-kind of, I'm sure there are others who have it worse." His question caught me off guard and I wiped my nose on the back of my sleeve, sniffing a few times. I'm already soaked to the bone, I'm sure a bit of snot isn't going to kill me.

"Well, our lives suck too, you should join us. You definitely have the backstory for it." He shrugged and offered me a hand.

"Join you?" My eyebrows scrunched up and he nodded.

"We're goths who hate all things conformist, shitting on society's rules and dry-fucking the status quo in the ass." I stared at the hand he held out to me, slowly reaching up and grasping it.

"How do I become a nonconformist like you guys?" He hauled me up surprisingly easy, shrugging as he reached unto his coat.

"You just have to dress like us and do what we do." A cigarette appeared from one pocket and a cheap lighter from the other. I tiled my head a bit as he lit his cigarette.

"Okay, uh, sounds easy enough." I reached my hand up to brush away some wet hairs sticking to my face.

"Good, let's go." He turned around and began walking where he came from.

"Where are we going?" I hesitated but eventually followed, trailing behind him ever so slightly. My head started pounding a rhythm that was in sync with my footsteps, somehow also feeling incredibly heavy and light at the same time.

"I'm taking you to a friend's house to fix your eye." He said nonchalantly with an air of boredom that I was quickly piecing together was usual for him.

"Sounds good." I said softly and my words came out slightly slurred, I began to nod my head when the oddest feeling of gravity being pitched sideways suddenly hit me and my footsteps faltered.

"Yeah, it's not very far, just a few streets away, but she knows a thing or two about-" His voice sounded incredibly far away as the floor slammed into me, very rudely might I add. "What the hell?" Even if it was raining and I could feel the cold sidewalk pressed up against my right side, I can't remember a time where I felt more comfortable than this. "Hey, what's wrong with you?" His curly hair dripped water onto my face as he leaned over me.

"I'm just gonna... rest my eyes... for a bit..." Why wasn't my mouth pronouncing the words right?

"Ah fuck, you're passing out." I could barely make out the scowl on his lips as my eyes slowly closed.

"My baaad..." I slurred one last time before completely blacking out.

3rd POV

"Son of a bitch." Michael scowled as he stared at the unconscious girl. He looked around but there wasn't anything he could use to carry her in, not even an old skateboard or shopping cart. He huffed out a breath before snuffing out his half finished cigarette and saving it in the box for later. Reaching down, he grabbed the pale girl's arm and grunted as he pulled her up. Granted, she didn't weight a lot to begin with, but his lithe form wasn't doing him any favors.

As Michael started his journey, he began asking himself why he bothered? Sure, stopping next to her on his way home from the cemetery didn't cost him anything, if anything, it satisfied a rare trickle of curiosity that started once he saw her curled in on herself on a dirty, wet sidewalk. He right away recognized her from the liquor store as the girl with the alcoholic mom; just a tad too polite but judging by the way she carried herself or the way she spoke, he didn't deem her as a conformist, Brittany wannabe. She seemed more of a shy, girl-next-door type from one of those vomit inducing romcoms his mom liked watching. He couldn't bring himself to regret not giving her more than a passing thought though, he would probably have had to scrap those ideas too.

Was this dark haired girl worth dragging all the way to Henrietta's? Probably not. But she already agreed to be a goth, so it wasn't like he could just leave her on the sidewalk to bleed out by herself in the rain. Sure, it'd probably make a pretty good visual, and could probably be used well as the main element in a poem, but she already agreed to be goth; and goths stick together.

As conformist as that may sound.

Michael cursed as he realized just how far he would have to drag her.

Sophia POV

I softly groaned as I regained consciousness. Now that my senses seemed to be coming back, I could tell I was laying down on something plush, though not necessarily comfortable. I slowly blinked my eyes open, or at least I tried to, and was glad to see that the room was dim with only a few flickering candles. My left eye wouldn't open and when I reached up, all I could feel was gauze and medical tape.

"Oh, I guess she isn't dead, bummer." A girl's voice said from somewhere above me.

"You mean I won't get to perform an autopsy?" A more childish voice asked almost dissapointedly.

"You could, but it's not really an autopsy unless she's dead." A different voice scoffed. How many people were there?

"What else would it be then?" The same kid's voice from before said, sounding almost indignant.

"A serial murder?" The voice that scoffed guessed.

"I wouldn't kill her, I'd just poke around a bit."

"I can hear you, you know." My voice was raspy and I sounded incredibly sleepy.

"Sorry to interrupt your beauty sleep." The voice arguing with the kid from before's said really sarcastically. I didn't respond as I slowly rolled over to get my arms under me and push myself to a sitting position.

"Where am I?" I squinting as I looked around the dark room. Not only was it dim, the colors weren't exactly cheerful, it was draped in blacks and dark reds.

"I told you before, we went to a friend's house to fix your eye." I turned toward the voice and saw the same boy from before. He didn't have his coat on and his hair was still pretty wet as he smoked a cigarette, occasionally extending an arm to flick the ashes into a glass ashtray.

"Am I your friend Michael? That's sickeningly sweet." The girl said sarcastically but the boy only rolled his eyes. I lifted my hand and gently prodded my left eye. I could feel the lid strain to open so I kept it closed under the bandages.

"You fixed my eye?" I asked softly and the girl wearing a black dress nodded.

"I put a few stitches where it cut through your forehead and eyebrow, then just pushed the rest of the skin together with medical tape." She shrugged nonchalantly and I bit my lip.

"Is that safe?" One of my eyebrows -the left one- pushed towards my forehead worriedly.

"As long as you keep it clean." I nodded and swallowed the lump in my throat as I looked around. The room was covered in candles and soft places to sit, making me realize that the plush thing I'd be laying on was a mountain of neatly folded towels over a soft looking quilt.

"So, you wanna be goth?" The boy with red bangs flicked them out of his face.

"Uh, yeah, I guess so." I said softly.

"What's your deal?"

"What do you mean?"

"Like, why is your life miserable?" Bang flick.

"My life is miserable?" I frowned and looked at each of their faces, all of them looking bored with similar faces of disbelief.

"You have an alcoholic mom who beats you and slices your face open." The tall one who brought me here deadpanned. I couldn't help but shift uncomfortably.

"I'm sure there are people who have it worse." I muttered as shifted my eyes.

"That's no excuse," bang flick. "Of course there are people who have it worse, haven't you seen how many conformists there are, strutting around like drag queens with mops for wigs?"

"We each have our own issues." The girl spoke up as she lit a cigarette. "My parents are annoying, conformist, wannabes that want me to be a stupid little princess in a fantasy world full of frogs shitting rainbows or something. My stupid mom still won't get it into that cow shit she calls a brain that I don't do that sort of thing; you'd think she'd catch on after so many years, but i suppose common sense isn't as common as you'd think."

"I live in a shitty trailer with my conformist parents." Bang flick. "They're never around and I don't think they've even properly looked at me since I started elementary school." Bang flick. "Not that I'd want them to, if it was up to them, I'd be quitting school and getting a useless day-labor job, as if I'd do something as conformist as that. If I do quit school it'll be because I'm finally leaving that shit hole." Bang flick.

"My parents are just a pair of failures trying to deal with each other." The kid who wanted to perform on autopsy on me spoke up from where he was sitting in the corner with his knees tucked into his chest. "The only reason they're together is because my mother waited too long to abort me and my father decided he'd stick around. I ruined her body and ruined his career so now they look constipated all the time and are bitter assholes. Father doesn't even try to hide the fact that he's cheating on mother, and mother likes to pretend she's younger than she actually is. They're both idiots if you ask me."

"My parents had a lot of issues so my old man left when I was younger. He left behind a phone number and an address in case I ever needed anything, yeah right." He scoffed bitterly. "They were both dead ends and my mom ended up remarrying some asshole who thinks he can tell me what to do, she changed a lot for him and it makes me sick to even look at her."

I swallowed the lump in my throat as I listened to their stories. One by one they each lit up their own cigarettes and stared at nothing as they spoke. It was quiet for a few minutes before I pitched in.

"My mom got pregnant when she was in high school and her parents kicked her out as soon as she graduated. My dad left before I was even born, but my mom gets really mad whenever I ask about him so I don't know what happened. We've had to move around a lot and have had to live in some really shady places just because we can't afford anything better. I think my mom blames me for how crappy our situation is. She gets drunk really often and most of the time she'll just yell a lot, but sometimes she hits me. It rarely ever gets as bad as tonight thought." I added on quickly at the end. With the perfect timing that can only come from hanging out together for a long time, they each exhaled a mouthful of smoke and nodded pensively.

"Yeah." They all sighed out. We sat in a comfortable silence for a few minutes.

"My name is Sophia, by the way." I smiled softly at them.

"Name's Henrietta." The chubby girl wiggled her fingers at me sardonically.

"I'm Pete." He flicked his red bangs out of his face.

"Firkle." He stretched his legs out as he idly played with a switch blade I'm pretty sure he's too young to have.

"I'm Michael." He nodded his head of curly hair at me and his earring dangled around with the action, catching and reflecting the light off the nearby candles.

"So, uh, what do I have to do to be goth?" I sat up a little straighter and laid my hands in my lap. Henrietta smiled as she leaned over and offered me a cigarette which I hesitantly took.

"I'm so glad you asked."

Chapter Text

Sophia POV

Stan looked pretty thoughtful when I finished my story; he sat idly on the bed, playing with a loose string on the soft comforter. I didn't mind the silence, I checked my phone and noticed that I had dragged on a little more than I had meant to, wincing at how late it was. Going home wasn't a big concern at the moment, the Biggles were nice enough to let me sleep over when things with my mom got particularly bad. Mom probably won't be too upset at me being away for a while; I'd come home as always, bandaged up and quiet, and she would have a list of chores for me to do. You know, the same old song and dance.

"Why didn't you tell the police about it?" Stan finally asked. If I had to guess, I'd say he was just trying to think of something to say that wouldn't be too insensitive this whole time. 

"It never occurred to me as a kid," I began softly. "Then I made friends and decided that it wouldn't matter. It's not like getting my mom in trouble is going to get her to change, if anything it'll make things worse. Besides, based on what Kenneth and Karen have told me, this beats foster care." He nodded pensively and I tried hiding a yawn behind my hand. 

"You should probably sleep now, I bet you're really tired." He stood up and I nodded. I settled myself deeper into the blankets and moved around the pillow under my head into a more comfortable, squishy, shape. "Thanks for telling me by the way." He said awkwardly at the threshold of the door. "You didn't have to." 

"You're our friend Stan. Goths stick together, as conformist as that sounds." I moved all my hair over one shoulder and ran my fingers through the tangled ends a few times. He gave me a final nod and turned off the light before leaving, shutting the door quietly behind him. I laid back and blinked up at the ceiling a few times, taking a few deep, measured breaths before closing my eyes and relaxing. Sleep came quickly and I embraced it, eager to rest.

3rd POV

Stan walked back to Henrietta's room, opening the door and the smell of cigarettes practically punched him in the face. 

"So, have you finally satisfied your curiosity?" Henrietta turned the page of a book, the perfect image of boredom. 

"What do you mean?" He slowly sat down on a black beanbag chair and Pete passed him a cigarette. 

"What I mean is," She carefully put her book to the side, shattering that image as she leaned forward to give him a piercing stare. "We don't just give away our secrets freely Raven. Sophia has chosen to let you in on something very personal, something that isn't to be taken lightly. Which means, she considers you a friend, a part of our group. You heard her before, 'Raven is one of us, right?'. She has cemented your place among us and if you do anything to jeopardize that, if you throw it all away with a simple 'screw you guys, I'm going home' just as you did last time, well," she stood up and glared down at him with more hatred than he's ever seen, more than he ever saw directed at her mom. "We'll make sure you regret it." Stan swallowed thickly and he looked at the others for help. Michael's glare was just as heated if not more than Henrietta's, Firkle was twirling a butterfly knife between his fingers as he gave Stan a flat stare, and Pete has his arms crossed, flipping his hair out of his face as usual. 

"Come on guys, of course I wouldn't do that." He pulled his beanie down a bit more so it flattened his bangs against his forehead, hiding what little sweat would be beading there. 

"Alright, just so we're clear." Henrietta sat back down and everyone relaxed. 

All except Michael that is. 

Stan was starting to think Michael had a problem with him. 

And he couldn't be more right. 

Michael was already planning something, but the curly haired goth had to bide his time, he couldn't strike too early or else the repercussions would be devastating. He would just have to be patient and keep all his cards close to his chest, his first step was ensuring that a certain person would be on his side, it's inevitable really considering the pattern she frequently acts on. 

It's pathetic, really, how predictable she can be. 

But she's useful, and that's all that matters. 

Sophia POV 

The next morning I woke up to a gentle knocking; my eyes fluttered open and I blinked up at the white ceiling for a few seconds. I was so comfortable and warm, the mattress seemed to cradle me and the comforter felt like a warm hug. I was about to drift back to sleep before the knocking continued. 

"Sophia? Are you up dear?" I could hear Mrs. Biggle call and decided it would be better if I got up. 

"Yes, Mrs. Biggle." I managed to call back not too groggily. She opened the door slowly and peeked her head in, smiling as she saw me sit up. 

"Good morning dear, did you sleep well?" She nudged the door wider with her hip and balanced a tray full of breakfast in her arms. 

"I did, thank you." I rubbed my eyes from under my fringe and and yawned. 

"Oh, I'm so glad you were able to rest. Here, I've made you a light breakfast." She settled the tray on my lap and put the cup on it on the nightstand. There was some toast, scrambled eggs, and a perfect bunch of shiny green grapes. "I know you kids love your black coffee, but I thought some orange juice would do you some good today." She smiled, indicating the cup on the nightstand. 

"It's more than perfect Mrs. Biggle, thank you." I gave her a small smile and she beamed in return. 

"I'll just open up these curtains here and go get you a spare change of clothes to wear how's that?" She threw open the black curtains and I was glad she put the juice on the bedside table, because I flinched so hard I jostled the tray a bit. 

"You don't have to do that Mrs. Biggle, I'm sure I can just ask Henrietta to lend me something."

"Are you sure dear? I'm sure I have some cute clothes in the attic, it's no trouble at all to find them." I nodded and began picking at the grapes. 

"I'm sure, I really appreciate it though." She sighed and smiled again at me. 

"Alright then, I'll come back later for the tray okay? Take your time." I nodded and she left again, closing the door behind her. Some grapes and a few nibbles of toast later, there were a few sharp knocks at the door before it was pushed open. 

"I hope you're decent Sophia." Henrietta called before throwing open the door and walking in with Firkle and Pete in tow.

"Morning." I said softly, offering a grape to Firkle as he perched himself next to me. 

"Closer to afternoon actually, but we thought it'd be best to let you sleep." Pete flipped his bangs out of his face and I nodded. 

"Anything planned for today?" I scooped some eggs into my mouth and they shrugged, Henrietta sat on the edge of the bed and Pete leaned against the wall. 

"We were planned on going to the Village Inn for some coffee, but we're waiting on Michael and Raven." I nodded before my eyes widened. 

"I never called in sick yesterday." I began fumbling for my phone, almost knocking down the orange juice in the process.  

"I called for you yesterday, they said to take the weekend off if you need it." I sighed softly and thanked Henrietta. We sat for a few more moments of silence as I ate. 

"Oh, I need to borrow something to wear." I remembered as I was finishing off my toast. 

"Sure, but why?" She lit a cigarette and I sipped the orange juice. 

"Well, I think it'd be too cold to go out in my pajamas." I shrugged. 

"Are you sure you want to go out? It'd suck if you passed out on us, once was bad enough but I'll ditch you guys if it means having to accompany Raven as he carries you in his arms like some damsel in distress from a sexist fairytale." She rolled her eyes and Pete snickered. 

"I think I'll be fine. If I pass out just put some sunglasses on me until I wake up. Or you guys can pretend I'm a corpse to scare the cranky waitress." I scoffed and put the tray aside, finally done with my breakfast. She shrugged and leaned over to flick some cigarette ash onto my empty plate. 

"You're finally awake?" Michael appeared at the door with a backpack tossed over his shoulder. I looked up and shrugged. 

"I woke up a little while ago, I just finished eating actually." 

"What do you have there." Firkle tilted his head and Michael tossed the backpack to the corner of the room. My backpack.

"I went back to get this for you, I'd figure you'd need it if you're staying a while." My eyes slightly widened before the corners of my lips twitched upwards. 

"Thank you." I said softly, looking at the worn out backpack that held my homework and work uniform. 

"How sickening." Henrietta said in an obviously fake sugary voice. Michael rolled his eyes and scowled at her.

"So, are you coming to the Village Inn with us?" I asked and he raised an eyebrow at me. 

"Us?" He repeated as he lit a cigarette. "Shouldn't you be resting?" I sighed and rolled my eyes.

"I'm fine, really." I tossed the covers off and threw my legs off the edge of the bed, standing on the balls of my feet for a quick stretch before making my way to the door. "I'll just pick something from your closet." I called back to Henrietta. I walked into the dim room and went straight to the wall adjacent to her bed, opening the wooden door. Going directly to the stuff hung in the back, clothes that don't fit anymore, I was able to riffle through the sea of black. I eventually found an old pair of jeans that was littered with rips along the legs, and a black sweatshirt that had a skinny puppy album cover on it. Taking what I found, plus some black socks with red stripes from her drawers -ignoring the skimpy lingerie that she for some reason had at the ready on top-, I made my way back to the room I slept in. They were all lounging around and someone opened the window so their cigarette smoke wouldn't fill up the room. I grabbed the breakfast tray and balanced the cup on it before picking it up. 

"You can just leave that there, my mom'll probably come pick it up in a bit." Henrietta commented disinterestedly.

"It's alright, I have to grab my clothes from the laundry room anyway." I said softly and carefully made my way downstairs. Mr. Biggle was already gone for the day so I wasn't worried about him seeing me in my pajamas. 

"Oh! I was just about to head upstairs for the tray!" Mrs. Biggle took it from my hands with a smile. "Thank you dear, I just baked a pie if you want a slice?" She smiled sweetly but I shook my head. 

"No thanks Mrs. Biggle." I watched her gently put the tray down onto the kitchen counter. 

"Alrighty, but there'll be a couple of slices waiting for you kids when you come home." Her grin was infectious and I found myself lifting the corners of my lips. I gave her a solid nod before turning around and heading to the laundry room. I saw my clothes neatly folded on a basket labeled with my name. There were four other baskets, three for the people who lived here and another labeled "guests". After the first few times I stayed, Mrs. Biggle got me my own basket and labeled it with my name. She's always been nice like that. I don't interact much with Mr. Biggle, but he doesn't seem to mind having me around, if anything just because of how polite I am to his wife. I grabbed my clothes and went back upstairs, noticing the rip on the pants was neatly sown. 

"Just another minute." I said softly as I grabbed my borrowed clothes and walked into the restroom. 

"Hurry up." Pete flipped his bangs out of his face and I nodded. I locked the hall bathroom door behind me and gently pulled off my pajamas, stretching and kicking my legs a few times to see how it felt; it was mostly sore but nowhere near being a problem. After getting my foot stuck in the rips a few times, I managed to pull on the skinny jeans and then the socks, stepping into my shoes but not tying them yet. I pulled on my bra and frowned at it. I never needed much to hold my boobs, since they were a pretty small size, but this is just getting ridiculous. The bra was a faded color and frayed in more than a couple of places. 

"I guess I have to save up for more than just shoes." I muttered as I pulled on the sweatshirt. Bending down to tie my shoes, my mouth puckered to a huff as my hair flopped over and covered my face. I reached behind the mirror above the sink for my toothbrush and quickly brushed my teeth, washing and drying my face afterwards. "Done." My fingers ran through my hair a few times and I patted my bangs down. Taking quick steps, I walked back to the room and left my folded pajamas on the now neat bed - Mrs. Biggle must have come in here while I was in the restroom. "Let's go." I said softly and everyone stood up and made their way to the door. 

"Finally." Henrietta sighed. "We're going out!" I could hear her yell at her mom but couldn't hear the response. Just as I was about to follow, Michael took a step closer.

"Hey." Michael tapped my arm and I turned around to look at him. We were the only ones left in the room.

"Yeah?" I furrowed my eyebrows and he fiddled with the filter on his cigarette.

"Are you sure you want to go out? You can stay if you're not feeling well." He didn't look at me. "Don't go out just for us."

"I really am fine, nothing hurts." I shrugged my shoulders and I saw his tongue dart out to moisten his lips. 

"I could stay behind too, I'm not really in the mood to look at that poor excuse of a waitress, she does nothing but complain every time we go." He said this all very uninterested, but my eyebrows slowly rose. 

"You would stay with me? Just the two of us?" I swallowed the lump in my throat and he gave a jerky nod.

"It's whatever." He shrugged but I could see a splotchy red color stain his cheeks. 

"I have homework I need to catch up on." My sentence was practically whispered and I could see his adam's apple jerk up and down suddenly. 

"I'll ask Henrietta's mom to make a pot of coffee." He replied just as quietly and I kicked off my shoes. 

"I'll go tell them we're staying." I bit my lip and we suddenly couldn't seem to look at each other. I ducked my head down and tightly grabbed the banister as I walked downstairs. Henrietta, Pete, and Firkle were at the front door waiting for us. 

"For fucks sakes, are you ready yet or not?" Pete crossed his arms. 

"I'm staying." Firkle raised an eyebrow. "Michael is too." Henrietta's lips curled up into a delighted smirk. 

"Try not to make a mess." She snickered and I could feel the uncovered part of my face flush. 

"It's not like that." I whispered as I looked down at my feet. 

"Oh, I think we know exactly what it's like." Pete's smirk joined Henrietta's. 

"Have fun kids, don't do anything we wouldn't do, and definitely don't do anything we would do." And with those charming words, they were gone out the door in a flash.

I really wish Henrietta wouldn't look so satisfied with herself.