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Downfall

Chapter Text

If she was a freak in New York, she was gonna be a freak anywhere else. Change the location all you want, the facts remain the same. 

At least that's the mentality Ivy Thorn had about herself. 

Pressing her forehead against the glass window of her parents' 1990 Cutlass, she watched the trees and general rural wasteland pass by in blending colors. 

It had been at least a day and a half's worth of time in the car since they packed up the last box and tossed away the keys to their little home in upstate New York. 

Her dad Greg Thorn was a simple sweater vest wearing man with shaggy brown hair and blue eyes, working in IT, her mom Miriam was a former Mary Kay lady, now Suzie Homemaker in standard mom clothes, wavy brown hair and brown eyes. Ivy was a 5'4 girl with hazel eyes, long hair colored black, her clothes were black, and her personality was also rather dim. 

She barely said more than a few words at a time, usually just to be polite, but if anyone ever heard the racing thoughts she had constantly, well let's just say if they were put into writing, they'd last a few series spanning over decades, if not, centuries. 

Being a 15 year old girl was hard, especially if you were perceived to be weird and freaky. 

Her mother, noticing that Ivy had been quiet but very much awake in the backseat, turned around to try and communicate with her.

"Oh honey, I know moving and starting over isn't exactly the greatest experience, but think about it! You'll have a chance to make some new friends and before you know it, you'll have your own little group. Won't that be nice?"

Her lip twitched in an effort to smile, but accompanied with a shrug, it wasn't much of a hopeful response.

She wasn't entirely thrilled with the prospect of having to start over once again at a new school, every one she had been to so far had been rather unwelcoming. Even before she started dressing in all black, kids were unusually mean to her for being so quiet. 

Miriam turned around and sighed. Her husband grabbed her hand in reassurance that all this would be okay.

-------

"We're here!" Miriam cheered. 

Ivy focused her view on the shabby looking brick building they parked in front of. 

"Yep yep, Addison Apartments, home sweet home." Said her dad, in his perky way.

It really wasn't much to look at, but then again, it only solidified the lack of hope she had. 

Wanting to get this over with, she opened the car door and began to step out, but not before hearing her mother call out to her. 

"Ivy honey, wait, you haven't moved in a-"

THUD

Too late, the world went white. The poor girl got dizzy and face planted onto the sidewalk. She heard the sounds of her parents scrambling to her side, lifting her up. 

"Are you alright, dear?" Her mother said, coddling her child. 

"Do I have all my teeth?" Ivy said drearily, her mouth hanging open to allow her mother a cursory glance. 

"Yes, it would appear so."

"Solid." She mumbled before her head dropped. Her parents helped her onto her feet, her mother handing her a water bottle. 

"Here, why don't you head upstairs and unlock the doors for us? We'll start getting this stuff out of the car." Greg handed her the keys to their new place with a worried smile. She snagged the keys and trudged inside the building, her long flowy clothes adding a dramatic effect to her vertigo infected gait. 

"Oh thank the gods, an elevator." She slumped against the doors and pressed the door open button. She shambled into the small box and pressed the button for the 4th floor. 

'Good thing this exists, otherwise I have no idea how Greg and Miriam thought they were gonna haul all that crap up 4 flights anyway.' 

For some reason, this dizzy spell wasn't going away, her vision was still blurry, and the weird movement of the elevator wasn't helping much. 

She looked at the keys for the apartment number. 

"Pfft 404, is this some kind of IT joke, Greg?" She mumbled to herself, trying to make herself laugh. 

The machine dinged and the doors slowly opened. She was greeted by a sign on the opposing wall saying the numbers of apartments and the direction they'd be found in. 

She exited and turned left, but wasn't prepared to see a ghostly figure standing there. She shrieked and fell backwards. 

"Oh man, I'm sorry, did I scare you?" She heard a voice, a boys voice, but it had pigtails. Then it came towards her, causing her to freak out again and pass out.

"Shit! Larry!!" The boy called out. A tall, long haired boy showed up 

"I'm here, what's-whoa, what'd you do?" 

"Nothing! She just came out of the elevator and freaked out!" 

"Man, if you need help disposing a body, at least be honest about it."

"Shut up, Larry! This is serious, what if she is dead?" 

"Calm down! She's probably just unconscious." During the commotion, they didn't notice the elevator going down and coming back up to the 4th floor. 

They heard the familiar ding! and the doors starting to open. 

"Okay, now you can panic." The boys were startled by the couple freaking out over the sight, a masked blue haired individual and a tall, sleep deprived looking boy with long hair standing over their daughters knocked out body. 

"Wait wait wait, she just walked out and fainted! I swear!" The blue haired boy held up in his hands in defense, prepared for the overreaction heading their way. 

The couple both took a deep breath of weird relief, confusing the two boys. 

"I'm sorry, that's our daughter. She's terribly anemic and faints at the drop of a hat." The boys looked at the couple for a second before taking a sigh of relief themselves. 

"Thank god, I'm so sorry, she caught me off guard." Said the blue haired boy. 

"Would one of you mind helping me out with her, she insists on wearing those heavy boots everywhere?" Greg scooped his arms under her armpits while the long haired boy took her legs and they carried her towards the empty apartment. 

"Hey, are you guys moving into 404?"

"Indeed, as of today." Said Greg, struggling with carrying Ivy. 

"Well uh, welcome. I'm Sal, I live in 402, and this is my friend Larry, he lives in the basement."

"Oh, so you boys are our new neighbors?" Piped up Miriam, trying to be polite. 

"As of today! I'm sorry it had to start out like this." 

"It's okay, we just got done with a long drive and she's probably extra dizzy from the trip." 

"That's gotta be a pain." 

"We learn to live with it, just make sure she doesn't do anything too strenuous and eats." 

"I see. So, is your daughter in high school?"

"Yes! She's getting ready to start at Nockfell High School, are you boys students there as well?"

"Yes ma'am." Said Larry, the long haired boy.

"Oh perfect!" Miriam clapped her hands together excitedly.

"Hey, I hate to impose but would you boys mind helping us unload the rest of our stuff? I'd be more than happy to pay you for your trouble."

Sal and Larry looked at each other and shrugged in agreement. 

"No payment necessary, we're always happy to help new Addison tenants."

---- 

An hour had passed before the last box was brought up, during the whole event, Ivy had been sitting in her new empty bedroom, laying her head and arms across the window sill, trying to get some air. 

"Well, that should do it." Larry said, wiping his hands on his pants.

"I'm curious, are you boys doing a project or something?" Said Greg, trying to make conversation. 

"What do you mean?" 

"Well, you have the mask and I was wondering if you were filming a little movie or something." He gestured to the blue haired boy. 

"Oh. Well uh.. Thing is, it's a prosthetic."

"Pardon?"

"Yeah, I had a bit of an accident when I was a kid so.." Greg went pale as he realized how insensitive he sounded, Miriam jumped in to cover.

"You poor dear, I'm so sorry." 

"It's okay, I know it catches people by surprise, it's no big deal." 

"I won't lie, I thought you might have been into horror movies or something, our daughter loves those like crazy!" Miriam playfully tapped her husband on the arm. 

"Well don't worry, we like horror movies in this building as well, so your daughter's in good company." Said Sal.

"Actually, about that. I was wondering if I could ask you boys another favor." 

"Okay, but only if the payment is pizza." Chuckled Larry. 

"You got it!" Said Greg with a thumbs up, making Larry hold his hands up in jest.

"Whoa whoa, I was joking! Again, no payment necessary." 

"Please, I insist. You boys have been so helpful and nice." 

Sal and Larry looked at each other once again before Sal spoke up. 

"What's the favor?"

"Well, you see.." Miriam spoke in a hushed whisper before gesturing all four of them go out into the building hallway, making sure that Ivy couldn't hear them. 

"Our daughter, she's a little shy. A bit of a wallflower. She's had trouble making friends due to her.. unique appearance and her quiet personality. Do you think you boys could be dears and show her around school when it starts?"

"Normally, I'm a bit of a welcome wagon anyway, so it's no problem, really." Sal shrugged, trying to be nonchalant about the ordeal.

"Really? You guys would do that for us?" Miriam had a glimmer of hope in her eyes. 

"You guys seem like nice people, and I'm sure your daughter is once she opens up."

"What do you boys want on that pizza?" Greg said, holding his new cell phone in hand, ready to dial. 

 

------

 

Ivy POV

I can't believe those two conned those poor boys into carrying all that shit for them.

Then again, since they are nice people and bought them pizza, I can't even say conned. I'm just cynical. 

I spent a good while staring out the window. Being on the fourth floor has it's advantages, like being able to see the entire wasteland that is the town of Nockfell. I could see the downtown area, but I knew that was still a bit of a drive, as far as someone without a license could tell anyway. 

And a church down the road, lovely. 

What the hell kind of IT company is all the way out here anyway?

My thoughts were interrupted however by two boys chatting away down on the sidewalk. 

Wait, those are the boys who helped bring all our stuff in. Does that one boy have a mask? I didn't even really look at him. 

I got up and went to confer with my parents. 

"Hey, did a ghost help carry all our stuff?" That wasn't exactly what I wanted to say but my mouth has yet to catch up with my brain.

"You mean that sweet boy in the mask? Poor dear, apparently he had an accident and he has to wear that thing." Geez..

"Yeah, I asked him if it was some kind of Halloween thing, thought you two might have some things in common. And that other guy, what's his name, Larry? I thought he was a grown man, he was so tall." Oh Dad. 

"Before I forget, those boys go to the new school you'll be attending. Isn't that great? You already have some friends!" 

"Whoa whoa, slow down. What did you do to those poor guys?"

"Well, with a little of the Gregory Thorn charm and a pepperoni pizza.." My dad, such a goofy guy. It's hard to say no to him. 

"You'd make a killing at FBI interrogation, dad." 

"Oh honey, I'm so excited for you, you're just gonna love it here!" Mom shook her little fists in such glee, I know she was trying to get me amped up with her, but I couldn't share the same sentiment with her. 

Still, not wanting to disappoint, I have her a small "Yayyy.." I watched her big smile fade to a sad one. I'm sorry ma, that's the best I could do. 

Now I just feel terrible. 

"Well, if it's alright with you guys, I'm gonna go to bed."

"Oh but don't you wanna eat pizza with your new friends? It should be here any moment." You're really trying to force that, huh?

"Sorry, but I'm still not feeling very well."

"Do you want your dad to help you set up the bed?"

"Mattress on the floor will do just fine for now, not any different from camping. Goodnight guys." I scuttled off hurriedly before they could try and trap me in more conversation. 

I didn't like doing that to them, but I was just getting more and more uncomfortable. I know they try their best for me to have a normal life, but that would require me to be normal first. 

Still, I'll do my best. For Greg and Miriam. 

Chapter Text

As much as she dreaded the idea of school, she couldn't help but at least be excited to try out the new clothes her parents bought her for the new school year. 

The wonderful thing about her parents is that they never really wanted to stifle her creativity and individuality. Even at the face of conservative society and so called 'preppy' popularity, they always felt that letting their daughter be as authentic as possible would be the key to at least getting her to be comfortable with herself before she could get comfortable with others. 

Which did help. She mainly wore long sleeved clothing, all black of course. Usually long flowing dresses or skirts, accompanied with a shawl or a sweater of some type. 

Ivy was the type to get cold very very easily, so tights, jackets and turtlenecks were her friends. 

Still, one would guess you can't just have sweaters for friends. 

She spent days practicing responses to simple questions. Sure, she could talk to her parents just fine, but others? She was always afraid of saying something silly, and with her mind going a million miles a second with crazy thoughts, her answers usually ended up being no more than two words, leaving most to believe she simply wasn't interested in conversation. 

In the end, it usually ended up exhausting her. 

Her mom tried to get her to go and hang out with the two boys in her building, but she usually had some excuse or was already knocked out before the afternoon was over. 

"She can't lay in bed all day, it's not good for a developing teenager." Miriam worried as she had her morning coffee. Greg shuffled his newspaper.

"Well dear, think about it. New place, new school, it's all scary. Plus you remember what her doctor said, it'll still be some time before she's adjusted to her new medication." 

"I know but.. what if it's like Greenwich? Or worse, Manhattan?"

"Nonsense, this place seems waaayy more laid back. Unfortunately, my schedule is not. Gotta go." He said flicking his wrist to view his watch. Greg kissed his wife and rushed off to work. 

Meanwhile, Ivy laid in bed, utterly defeated by her thoughts. The fact that she had The Smiths playing in the background didn't help the situation. Even when she heard the knocking at her door, she didn't stir or move a muscle in response, knowing full well her mother would just come in after hearing nothing.

"Ivy? Are you hungry at all?"

"That's a big 10-74." 

"I'm gonna take that as a no. Well, there's still some scrambled eggs and stuff for breakfast burritos if you want them." 

"10-4, commander Miriam." Ivy had not moved one inch in response to her mother, she simply laid still and let the droning voice of Morrissey sink her into the bed. Or at least that's the feeling she had before she realized it was just her mother taking a spot next to her. 

"Well, are you ready for school?" Ivy shrugged.

"About as ready as I can be. I only have to do 3 more years of this nonsense before I don't have to anymore."

"Well, that's one way of looking at it. Still, I think you'll like this new place, it isn't like those others you were at."

"Not to rain on your parade mom, but I don't think location has anything to do with my ability to make friends. If someone's a jerk in Florida, they'll most likely be a jerk in Alaska." 

"You have a point, but.. well look at it way, that boy has to wear a mask everyday and he looks like he has plenty of friends."

"That's not very nice, mom."

"What? I'm just saying that if he can make friends wearing that, I don't see why you can't." 

"I mean.. I guess, if people are willing to look past appearances. It's worth a shot, I suppose." Her mother shot up and jiggled her in happy confirmation. 

"That's my girl. Now, how about we open these curtains and let some light in?" Before Ivy could protest, Miriam jumped over to the window and pulled open the curtains, letting the morning sun spill into the room, which was received by Ivy giving a very comical vampire-esque hissing. 

"The light! It burns us! Hiissss!!!"

----- 

"Are you sure you can walk that far?"

"I think I can make it, I guess if I'm not back in an hour or so, you can send out the navy." Ivy saluted her mom before putting on her headphones connected to her walkman, and beginning the trek to a convenience store located about a mile away. 

She only had a small goal in mind, and it was only to get some candy. Plus at the insistence of her mother trying to get her to go outside, this was making both of them happy. 

"I am a passenger
And I ride and I ride.." 
She mumbled along to her Siouxie and the Banshee's tape, bouncing a little to the slightly jovial beat. She got really into the music, so much so, that she didn't realize that an obstacle was blocking her path out the front door. 

"Oof!" She collided with another body in front of the mailbox and nearly dropped her walkman. 

"I'm sorry!" She shouted, a lot louder than she would have liked, and froze up when she realized that it was the masked boy. 

"Are you okay?" He tried to reach over to touch her arm, but she retracted quickly and stammered. She pulled her headphones down to her neck to properly hear him. 

"Uh, uh, I'm fine. I'm sorry, I didn't see you." She was sweating bullets.

"It's okay! No worries." He waved his hand to ward off concern. 

"Are you heading out?"

"Er.. yeah. Going to that.. convenience mart, I guess."

"Oh, mind if I join you? I could use a soda." 

"Um.. if you want to." She didn't really want the company, but she was afraid to hurt his feelings by saying no. 

"Awesome!" He stuffed his mail back in the box and walked out the door with her. They made it about a block of uncomfortable silence before Sal finally said something.

"So, Ivy, right?" 

"Ye.. Yeah."

"I'm Sal, not sure if your mom told you. I live just down the hall from you."

"Oh, okay." She kept looking down at the ground. 

"So.. How do you like it here so far?" 

"It's.. okay. I guess. I'm sorry, I'm not good at talking." She mumbled, her volume with others was barely above a loud whisper.

"I'm sorry, I must be asking a lot of questions." He rubbed the back of his head, remembering that her mom said she was quite shy. 

"You're fine, I'm just.. not used to people asking me about myself. At least, not without asking if I worship Satan or something."

"Well, do you?" He joked, but trailed off when she just looked away. 

"Only on Sundays." She replied, trying to be funny. 

"I think the same could be said for the other guy for some people." 

"Burn." She muttered. 

"Ha, you're funny." Her lips twitched in response, trying to smile. 

"So what are you listening to?"

"Oh um.. Siouxsie and The Banshees." 

"It sounds kinda cool. What other music do you like?"

"Er.. I guess um.. a lot of it is considered boring and depressing. Goth music tends to be received that way."

"My friend Larry got me into metal, which is great but when you think about it, it's just a bunch of dudes growling about blood, demons and stuff. So, take what you will from that."

"You have a point." She didn't realize that they had reached the mini-mart so soon. The strange but familiar crappy gas station donut and stale soda smell hit them as they pulled open the doors. She immediately noticed the clerk giving her the evil eye, she put her head down and just tried to find the candy aisle. 

"What kind of candy do you like?"

"I usually end up going for sour." She said, reaching for the Warheads. 

"I wish I could like sour, makes my tongue hurt." 

"I like the feeling, it's intense."

"Oh, are you an intense girl, Ivy?" She blushed, squeezing the bag tightly. 

"Don't be silly." She averted her eyes to the floor as she snagged a bag of Lemonheads and Zotz before heading to the counter. Sal walked up with a fountain drink and started taking out his wallet. 

"Is this all together?" said the dreary clerk. Ivy barely got out a word before Sal said "Yes." while pulling out a $10. 

"Um, I-" 

"Don't worry about it. This one's on me, okay?" Ivy clenched her fists before swiping the candy into her little black bag. 

They walked back to the apartments in silence, accompanied by the muffled sounds of her walkman and the occasional sipping from Sal's soda. He then offered the drink to her. 

"Wanna sip? It's coke."

'Shit, my favorite.'

"No, thank you though." 

'I just met this guy like 3 days ago and learned his name 20 minutes ago, now he's offering to share drinks? What in God's name..' 

"Hey, you alright?"

"Huh?" 

"Sorry, you just looked deep in thought, I thought something was wrong." 

"No, no. I'm sorry, I'm not used to talking this long."

"Crap, I'm sorry. I must be a lot right now." 

"Please, it's okay. I'm just.. not used to people." She fumbled with her walkman as the tape had stopped, but she was nervously shaking and having trouble putting the cassette back in. 

"Here, let me." He took the cassette and walkman out of her hand, his fingertips gently grazing the skin on her hands. 

"Which side?" 

".... B." She whispered, holding her hands in each other. He successfully inserted the tape and handed it back to her. 

"Th.. thank you." She said shakily, still feeling the sensation on her hands. 

They approached the apartments before too long. 

"Well hey, it was nice walking with you. If you ever need a mini-mart buddy, don't be afraid to knock on my door. I gotta go meet up Larry for some nonsense. You wanna join in?" 

"Er.. I'm fine. Maybe some other time." She said, rubbing her hands.

"No worries. You have a good night, Ivy." She couldn't see the huge smile he had on his face before descending down a flight of stairs to the basement. 

Once he was out of sight, she rushed into the elevator and frantically pushed the button to the fourth floor. The doors closed and she finally stopped holding her breath, and started rubbing her hands frantically. 

Unbeknownst to a lot of people, Ivy has a problem with skin contact. A graze or simple touch, especially from a stranger, makes her incredibly uncomfortable. Her skin starts crawling and it feels like bugs walking across her arms or wherever the touch was made. 

She tried her best to calm down before heading back into the apartment, but it was hard to hide the tears that were produced during her panicking. 

She rushed to her room and closed the door, trying to to hide from her mom.

Once her breathing was stabilized, she sat down on her bed and had a chance to think about the entire interaction with Sal. It was.. oddly pleasant. 

He really was nice to her, and she kicked herself for not being conversational. 

And a strange thing to note, his hands were strangely warm, even on a breezy day. 

It was.. kind of nice.

Chapter Text

Finally, the first day of school. The jitters had Ivy in such a tizzy that she was up all night trying to prepare for the big day. She was nearly late getting out the door, she had to make sure that if she was gonna make any sort of impression, it better be her eyeliner skills. 

She had agreed to walking with Sal and Larry, though she was regretting doing so the more she thought about it. 

The walk a while back with Sal was one thing, but she didn't know anything about Larry aside from the tidbits that Sal told her, and that wasn't a lot to go on to begin with. 

Still, if Sal thought he was okay, then maybe it wouldn't be so bad. 

"Good morning! Ready for your first day?" Sal greeted Ivy at the front door. She gave a bewildered nod and wondered how one could be so cheerful first thing in the morning. The long haired boy yawned and had bags under his eyes.

"Geez Sal, could you be any more loud first thing?" He rubbed his eyes and yawned again. 

"Sorry Lar, I actually managed to get some sleep last night." 

"Don't rub it in." Larry and Ivy both said at the same time, looking at each other for a split second.

"Ha, jinx!" He pointed, she was just startled. "You're right, too early. Let's go." Larry muttered as the boys turned around and led her to the school. She trailed behind them the entire way, trying not to eavesdrop on their conversation, which was a little easy as the rampage of crappy thoughts had already begun. 

It wasn't until they reached the school that Sal remembered that Ivy was behind them. 

"Oh, we're here by the way. See? It wasn't that far." She looked up and was surprised that it indeed was only a little further walk than the convenience store.

"Oh, um.. Sal, right?" She said, trying to find her voice.

"That's my name." 

"I forgot to.. thank you for the candy. I owe you one."

"Don't mention it. I had fun."

"Whoa, Sally Face buying girls candy? What's the big idea, moving in on the new girl before anyone else can?" With that, Larry threw an arm around Ivy's shoulders, scaring her badly. 

"Stop!" She shoved him away, startling both him and Sal. She looked at both of them for a second before disappearing into the crowd of kids and into the school. 

"What the fuck is her problem?" 

------

She tried to find the nearest bathroom and hid in there. She ran up to the sink and turned on the water, muffling the sounds of her trying to catch her breath. It took a few seconds for the other occupant of the bathroom to say something, which of course, made Ivy jump. 

"Um, are yo-" 

"AAHH!!" She fell onto the ground, getting incredibly dizzy not only from the running but from the lack of oxygen in her body. 

"Whoa whoa, I'm sorry! I didn't mean to scare you." When her vision unblurred, she saw a girl with long brown hair and striking green eyes trying to console her. 

"Are you okay? Do you need a nurse?" Ivy shook her head quickly, her logical brain trying to remedy the situation and not make such a big deal out of everything. 

"Are you sure? I don't mind taking you." 

"I-I-I'm fine, I'm just.. nervous." Her breath finally slowed, she was able to somewhat calm down, but her nerves were still on high alert. 

"Are you new here? I've never seen you here before." Ivy nodded, embarrassed about this being her first impression on the first day.

"Well my names Ashley, but my friends call me Ash. What's your name?" The girl smiled, giving off such a friendly vibe.

"... Ivy." 

"That's so pretty, and I love your makeup!" Ivy wanted to smile and thank her properly, but could only whisper a small 'thanks' before looking down on the ground in embarrassment. 

"Did anyone show you around the school yet?" She shook her head, and then immediately remembered that Sal and Larry said they would give her the grand tour, making her feel sour about the shoving thing. 

"Well hey, I'd be happy to show, but class is getting ready to start, but I'll tell you what, I'll show you to your first class and then during lunch time, I'll give you the tour, sound good?" 

"... Sure." 

"Perfect! Now where's your first class?" Ivy pulled out her class schedule and overlooked the paper, utterly disoriented by the upsetting start. Ash noticed Ivy's hands shaking, and held out her own hand.

"May I?" Ivy nodded and handed her the paper. 

"I know where this is, here, let me help you up." Ivy discreetly pulled her sleeves over her hands when Ash stood up, knowing that she would offer her hands as a means to be pulled up.

Ash cheerfully led Ivy to her classroom, eager to show a new student the ropes.

"Also, have you been to your locker yet? Just a heads up, most of the locks are utter garbage, you're better off carrying a hairpin at all times, your combo won't mean a damn." 

"How MacGyver." 

"Hah, yeah this place is a little.. eehhh but you get used to it." 

"Ash! Hey!" They both turned around to see Sal and Larry down the hallway. Ivy immediately panicked and sped off into the classroom, with Ash not noticing until she turned back to see that she was gone. 

"Hey guys, uh.. Did you see where.. that girl went?"

"What girl?" 

"The new girl, dressed in all black."

"Man, fuck that girl."

"Larry!" Sal scolded. 

"Whoa, what's wrong?" Asked Ash, confused.

"She shoved me, I was just trying to be friendly."

"You also slung your arm around her like you knew her, I told you, she's timid." Larry scoffed and looked away, feeling spited. 

"Hell of a welcome wagon you guys are." 

------

 "Everyone, we have a new student this year. This is miss Ivory Thorn, she'll be joining us so let's give her a big Nockfell welcome. Ivory, would you like to tell us about yourself?"

'Great, I knew this was happening, and I'm STILL woefully unprepared.' 

"First day jitters, Ivory?"

"Er.. It's just.. Ivy."

"Pardon?" 

"Uh.. Uh.. Ivy. That's what.. I prefer." 

"I see. Ivy it is then. Why don't you take that seat over there?" The teacher pointed with a pencil to the empty seat a few rows back. 

Slowly, she made her way down the aisle, and noticed that the masked boy was in her class. The realization jolted her and made her step on her skirt, tripping and falling over. 

The giggles from her new classmates really drove the embarrassment home. She heard nothing but her own paranoia the rest of the class period. 

'Great, perfect, swell. You really wowed them. Look, the new girl is not only a weirdo, she's a clumsy ditz. Way to go, you sure showed them. And why is HE here?' 

---------- 

Once the bell rang, she tried to shuffle as quickly as she could out of the classroom, avoiding Sal. She figured worst case scenario, she'd just be late to class, which would be excusable since she's new, right?

It wouldn't be until lunch time that she remembered that nice girl from this morning said she would give her that tour. 

'But she's friends with Sal and Larry. They probably already told her about this morning, so now most likely, she won't be nice to me. Figures. Well, I gave it a shot, might as well just drop out and work at a factory for the rest of my life.'  

She was so engrossed in her own thoughts, she didn't see the trio staring at her in the cafeteria. She sat at a table by herself, her head down and seemingly busy with her walkman and her lunch. At least she had Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds to keep her company. 

"Should we join her?" Said Sal, holding his tray.

"Maybe not today, it looks like she's had a rough morning." Ash said, feeling a little sympathy. 

"She's had a rough morning?" Larry spat.

"Larry, calm down. You act like she tied your shoes together." Ash chided Larry.

"Alright, let's give her a few days to adjust and then move in." Said Sal, strangely eager to talk more with the new girl.

"Whatever, she probably think she's too good to hang out with us."

"Geez Larry, what's your problem?" Sal asked, but no answer would be given as Larry stomped over to an empty table, waiting for the others to join him. 

"What's wrong with Larry?" Ash whispered to Sal. 

"I honestly don't know, maybe he's just grumpy, he was really tired this morning." 

"Well I hope he takes a nap later or something, I'm not dealing with his temper tantrum all day." 

---------

Ivy POV 

Well, today was totally bogus. 

After school let out, I jogged all the way home to avoid Sal and his angry friend. 

On top on unwanted skin contact, tripping over myself, and the obvious staring from every single person that shared a room with me, the whole day was pure torture. 

"How was your first day of school?" My poor mother came up to me all excited, barely giving me a chance to get inside the apartment. 

"Swell." She picked up on my sarcasm, but I tried to remedy the situation to avoid being interrogated.

"I'm sorry, it was fine. Met lots of new people. Just really tired from walking home."

"Well that's good honey, did you make any new friends? Were the boys helpful to you?"

Great, now I get to lie to my mothers face.

"Yeah, I mean they were helpful. Well versed in the hallways now, as far as new friends, just acquaintances so far. Nothing solid just yet."

"Well you just gotta hit them with the old Thorny charm, as your dad would say."

"As long as I don't call it that, I think I'll be just fine. Listen, I gotta do this homework and I'm gonna take a nap. Can you just throw my dinner in the microwave?" I said while striding to my room, trying to end the conversation. 

"Of course dear. Happy studying!" Tch, yeah right. 

I closed my door and tossed my bag across the room before plopping down on my bed. Like hell I was gonna do homework now. 

Last thing I wanted to do was give school more thought. 

Ugh, I'm so tired. I may just nap now. 

Chapter Text

"Ivy, you can't skip school every time something terrible happens. If you keep letting this kind of thing get to you, you'll never be able to survive out there. Your father and I won't be here forever for you to escape, you'll have to learn how to deal with it!" Miriam pleaded with her daughter through the bedroom door in a feeble attempt to get her to calm down.

Maybe it wasn't the right choice of words but she knew that if this continued, Ivy would let life pass her by and she shouldn't be holed up in a dark room for the rest of her life. 

After about 45 minutes of nothing but faint sobs, Miriam gave up. 

"We can't keep coddling her like this, Miriam. When she was 8, sure, but she's almost 16 now. I'm worried about her social development." She called Greg on his lunch break. He left the home that morning hearing his wife beg Ivy to come out. 

"I know but Greg, the poor thing was tearing her hair and eyelashes out, and her doctor said if we try too hard to force it, it'll get worse."

"I know, I know. But we need to do something, CPS will get involved if we don't do something about this. 

"You're right." 

--------

Flashback to prior day

It was near the end of the week, the days had passed without too bad an incident. Most of the kids had left her alone for the most part, and she had been able to avoid the trio of friends. 

At least until lunchtime. 

"Dude Sal, what's your obsession with this chick?" Larry was exasperated.

"I don't have an obsession, I just feel bad."

"I'm not convinced you don't have some sort of crush on her."

"Stop it Larry. Everyone deserves a chance, we were the weirdos once." Ash was beginning to have enough of Larry's tone.

"We're still the weirdos, she's just a bitch." 

"Jesus Larry, come on." 

"Honestly, what's your problem lately?" Even their bespectacled friend Todd was taken aback by Larry's behavior. 

"I have a problem with stuck up bitches who think they're better than everybody, I mean, look, she's been sitting by herself and doesn't look sad about it, and who are we to impose on that?"

"Who says that she's any of that? Honestly, whatever your little beef is with her, either apologize or drop it." Ash put her foot down, she had it with Larry's attitude. 

"Tch, fine mom." They walked over to Ivy's table, not catching her attention until Ash appeared at her side and waved in her gaze's direction, partially startling her.

"Hi Ivy, mind if we sit here?" She looked to see all 4 teens standing around her, Larry included. A sour feeling in her stomach emerged, but not wanting to be rude and unfriendly, she accepted.

"Um.. Sure, I suppose that's fine." 

The 3 boys and Ash sat down, not knowing the overwhelming vibes they were giving off.

"You already know Sal and Larry, this guy right here is Todd." She waved toward a ginger haired kid with glasses, who gave a simple salute and a "How do you do?"

"Todd, this is Ivy, as I said, she just started."

"I hope you like it here at Nockfell, it's a cesspool of mandatory education but it's something." His tone rather monotonous but strangely friendly. 

"Th-thanks. It's okay." Larry glared daggers at her the whole time, but when he got the evil eye from Ash, he proceeded to start in on his lunch, chewing rather loudly and angrily. 

'Fuck..' Ivy's sense heightened. 

"Alright, so, my mom gave me the okay to have board game night at my place, are we still on?" Larry said, mouth full of sandwich. 

"Yeah, I finally found all the pieces to Monopoly, so I got that covered." Sal had slurped up his applesauce under his mask. 

Ivy had began to space out, trying her best to tune out the noises.

'So many noises, jesus fucking christ, is it so hard to close your fucking mouth, my god, who taught you how to eat like that? motherfucking fuck fuck fuck fuck shit shit shit god damn it fuck fuck FUCK!' 

Her appetite dropped severely, she looked down at her tray trying to focus on anything else, but was unsuccessful. The lively conversation among the friends had continued without her, Ash noticed her tightening her fists under the table, and she looked like she may have been grinding her teeth.

"Hey Ivy, you alright?" Ash tried to put her hand on Ivy's back, but instead, Ivy shot right up, knocking her tray a few inches forward, and in the process bumping against the table. The sudden noise of plasticware clattering alerted every student inside the lunchroom. Once she felt the hundreds of eyes in her direction, she broke out into a cold sweat. 

Everyone watched as she dashed out of the cafeteria as a black blur, trying not let anyone see her cry. 

The room fell into a strange silence, leaving Ash and others with their jaw hanging open. Larry was not impressed.

"I told you, too good for anyone."

-------

Ivy POV

Mother of God, WHY?! Why why why why! Why me?! I tried. I tried so fucking hard, just deal with it they say, but they don't have to be me. Fucking.. 

I just had to leave, there was no staying there and listening to those.. wretched.. noises. 

This is what I get, I let that girl be nice to me and she brings over her horrid friends. 

Why?!

Why am I such an insufferable bastard? Why does that boy with the mask get to have friends?

And that Larry.. Jesus fuck. He's such an asshole!

I just had to get out of there, I couldn't deal with it. Anymore of that and I surely would have thrown something at someone, I'd rather be seen as a freak than a violent psycho. 

God. 

I'm so glad my mom is understanding, I didn't like lying to her and saying that my cramps were really bad, but I guess whatever it would take to get her to come get me. 

Charlene probably would have just yelled at me for faking and let me bleed all over myself (Had I actually been on my period) 

My poor mother had to listen to me sobbing, I eventually told her the truth about what happened. She seemed disappointed but I think she took pity on me because I was just.. not taking it well, to put it lightly. 

I made a total ass of myself. I may as well never return to school, I had a decent 4 days or so of normal school life, but I guess that's over now. 

I cried myself to sleep. 

Chapter Text

"Sucks you got saddled with bringing that girl her homework."

"You know Larry, I'll bet that when you first entered a new school, it wasn't so spectacular either."

"Okay but I wasn't a spaz. Besides, she shoved me."

"For the last time, you got all touchy feely on her and she probably doesn't like being touched. You need to apologize or else."

"Or else what?"

"I'll shave your head."

"You take that back."

"I will, when you say you're sorry. I'll do it when you sleep so you can wake up surrounded by your pride and joy."

"Okay, as metal as that sounds, that's just pure evil."

"Muhahahahaha. But seriously." 

"Okay okay fine. Geez, twist my arm.." Sal still had trouble placing Larry's seemingly misguided anger, but he hoped that his friend would relent and let bygones be bygones. 

"Still, I gotta wonder. Her parents are hella nice, why did she turn out that way?"

"Maybe if you took the time to get to know her, she'd warm up to you. She's actually fairly nice."

"There you go again, are you sure you don't have some crush on her?"

"Stop. I just wanna be her friend."

"Oh right, you're still holding a candle for Ash." Sal turned and glared at Larry for a minute before trying to look ahead. Even though he had the mask, he still felt like Larry could see the heat rise to his cheeks. 

"Anyway, I gotta bring this up to her, I'll catch up with you later." They parted ways in the lobby of the apartment building. Though he was nervous not having Larry as a buffer, it was probably for the best in case Ivy answered the door. If she was still upset about the other day, having him there may just make things worse.

Miriam would answer though. 

"Oh! The boy from down the hall.. uh... Sam?"

"Close! It's Sal. I uh.. brought Ivy's homework." He presented the small handful of packets.

"Thank you so much!"

"Is she feeling better?"

"Here, why don't you head over to her room? I'm sure she'd love a visitor." 

"Oh um.. Well.."

"Please? I hate to ask another favor and be so forward but.. I think Ivy is having a difficult time adjusting. I guess.. something happened the other day. She won't really talk about it too much, but I know it's bothering her. She seems to like you, maybe you could talk to her?"

Sal felt uncomfortable as he still barely knew Ivy, but Miriam looked so desperate and worried about her daughter, he felt compelled to help if he could.

"Well, I can certainly try." Miriam gave an excited but whispered 'thank you' before letting him in to the apartment. He admired how it looked like a Better Homes and Gardens magazine, it was so organized, and smelled like flowers and fresh baked cookies.

"I love what you did with the place." 

"Why thank you. It's hard downsizing from a house but we're making do!"

"I know what you mean, my dad and I used to live in a house in New Jersey so I know all about adjusting."

"Oh you're from New Jersey? We just moved here from New York."

"That's cool!" 

"Yeah, we miss it but life took us here so.."

"I can relate. So.. Which is.."

"Oh, the one with the poster for some scary movie she liked. Nightmare on Elf Street?" Sal giggled as he strode over and knocked.

"The Council has reviewed your request to enter. Request approved."

He opened the door to see a heavily decorated dark room. The only light source was the TV playing. The walls were plastered with various music and movie posters, most of them containing men and/or women with dark makeup and frizzy hair. There were also various morbid knickknacks and weirdly cutesy, if not, creepy things as well. 

It took a second to find the pile of black baggy clothes that vaguely resembled a human. They faced away, hugging their knees, entranced by the movie playing on the screen a few feet away. 

He got closer and saw it was Disney's Alice in Wonderland, the part where Alice was singing about having a world of her own, and couldn't help but hear the person singing along. 

"I could listen to a babbling brook, and hear a song that I could understaannd..

I'd keep wishing it could be that waaayy..

Because my world would be a wooonnnderrrlaaaannnd." 

And right on time with the White Rabbit, Sal announced his presence.

"I haven't seen this movie since I was little." Ivy turned her head sharply and shouted as it wasn't her mother intruding upon her space. She jumped back and braced the wall. 

"I'm sorry! I should've said something when I came in!"

"Who let you in here, and why are you here?" She tried to calm down but was doing a terrible job at it. 

"Your mom said I could come in, and I have your homework. I'm sorry, I'm intruding." She wasn't sure why she felt guilty about making him feel bad for coming in unannounced but she did her best to simmer down. 

"It's.. fine. Jesus.. don't sneak up on me like that." 

"Sorry." 

"It's okay, my heart just needs to calm down, you gave me quite a fright."

"Quite a fright? I like how you talk like old-timey books."

"I suppose if a man has something once, always something of it remains.”

"Huh?"

"Sorry, I read a lot." 

"I can see that, your shelf has a lot of literature."

"Most of them are horror or supposed timeless classics."

"Supposed?"

"Look, you read Catcher in the Rye and tell me that's not a whiny kid asking to be punched."

"If you want, I can punch the book for you." Ivy's mouth twitched, she slow blinked as she wanted to laugh.

"Much appreciate, but not necessary." She noticed him staring at the TV screen, being distracted by the movie. 

"Did.. you wanna watch the rest of it with me?" He quickly turned his head, feeling a weird bit of embarrassment. 

"I-I'm sorry, it's been so long that I've seen it. I've always liked the colors and stuff."

"If you want.. you can join me, provided that you're not a movie gabber, but I will allow singing if you know the words." She said, matter-of-factly. 

"Deal." 

She crawled back to the middle of the floor and resumed her ball formation. 

He plopped down onto the floor cross legged, making sure that there were a few feet between them to give her space. 

They enjoyed the movie together in silence, as he agreed. He delighted in the nostalgia, but he couldn't help but notice her swaying and humming along to the songs, utterly captivated by the optimistic madness of the animation. He found it strangely adorable. 

Before they knew it, the movie had ended. He tried to strike up more conversation as she rewound the VHS to put away. 

"So you like Disney movies?"

"Er.. yeah. I mean.. They make me feel better."

"Really?" He was slightly intrigued.

"Yeah.. whenever I had a bad day, my mom used to put them on to distract me and cheer me up. I know it's really juvenile but.." She trailed off.

"Your mom sounds like a nice lady."

"Yeah.. she is." She went a little quiet. 

"Also, please don't tell anybody."

"About your mom being a nice lady?"

".. No?" 

"I'm kidding. I won't tell anybody.. but can I say something?"

"I suppose." 

"Don't feel bad about something that makes you happy." She clutched the VHS tape in her hands, confused by the strange feelings she was having.

"Ivy?"

"Y-yeah?"

"Are you coming back to school on Monday?" 

She looked down at the floor, still feeling the sting from Thursday's lunch event.

"I.. I don't.. know.."

"We'd like to see you again."

"We?"

"Me, Ash, Todd. And Larry." His tone on Larry's mention was a little forced, she grimaced.

"Larry wants to apologize about what happened."

"Really?"

"Yes, he's aware that he was being a huge jerk and wants to move past this." Sal felt bad about stretching the truth since he had to essentially strong arm Larry into agreeing with such an act. Ivy was a little shocked, but felt a small glimmer of hope that maybe things could be better, but her guard was still up in case this was all a trick. 

"... Okay." 

"Good. I'm glad. Listen, I gotta get going, but.. if you're not doing anything for the rest of this weekend, you're more than welcome to come hang out with us, or if you prefer, just me." Ivy's cheeks turned a slight shade of pink.

"Um.. Maybe. I'll think about it." Trying to be as noncommittal as possible. 

"Fair enough. Have a good night!" He got up and dashed out of the room, making sure to say bye to Miriam before leaving, who was conveniently already on her way into her room. 

"So.. He was in here a long time."

"Yeah.. He watched Alice in Wonderland with me."

"Oh really? How exciting!" Miriam quickly took a spot on the bed, intrigued by this new development. 

"S-sure mom." 

"Well did you guys have fun?"

"I guess? We just watched a movie, not build an empire."

"Well that's a start." Miriam was way too interested for Ivy's comfort, but she tried her best to placate her mom.

"See Ivy? You can make friends!"

"I'm not sure we're exactly friends just yet, ma."

"Well let's get there!"

"Slow down Miriam."

"Excuse me, young lady, my name is mom."

"Is that what you tell Greg?"

"Don't be a smartass."

"GREG, MIRIAM'S CUSSING!!" Miriam threw a pillow at her daughter and the two proceeded to have a relatively tame pillow fight. Though Ivy had the upper hand for a minute, her mother overpowered her.

"I concede, I concede! The empire won't forget this!" 

Her mother laughed, patting her head. 

 

Chapter Text

Monday morning came and an unusually invigorated Ivy sprang up on time for school. She danced around her room to the  sounds of Bauhaus on her CD player. 

'I came upon your room, it stuck into my head
we leapt into the bed, degrading even lice
She took delight in taking down my shielded pride
until exposed became my darker side'

She bopped and swayed while brushing her hair, oddly excited to be awake today. Even her mother noticed her strangely chipper when she skipped to and fro from her room to the bathroom. 

Even shouting 'Dark Entries!' repeatedly while shimmying on her boots. 

"Honey, I'm glad you're excited for school but maybe you oughta keep the 'Boohouse' party in your walkman today."

"Oooh! Sorry Miriam, the answer was BAU-haus. But as a consolation prize, I'll let you keep the kitchenaid mixer." 

"Don't get my hopes up sweetie, your father already dropped the ball last christmas." Her mother smirked. She loaded her CD choices for the day as well as a couple of batteries. 

"Boy, I can't remember the last time you were this cheerful."

"Enjoy it while you can Ma, the stars aligned just for you this morning." She put on her headphones, restarted the song and twirled out the door. Even though her face was serious looking, you'd have thought she was just really into her music, and she was. All the way from her door, in and out of the elevator, she bounced and mouthed along to Peter Murphy's unrelenting vocals. 

Uncharacteristically for her, she was still engrossed in her music that she didn't even notice Sal and Larry walking through the doors on their way to school. As she mouthed along to the 'Dark Entries' part of the song again, she opened her eyes and startled herself seeing the pair right outside the doorway, nearly dropping her CD player. 

"Jesus!" 

"Actually, my name is Larry." He quipped, trying to lighten his soured mood upon seeing Ivy. Her heart pounded from embarrassment. Ivy recoiled and rubbed her hands together nervously. 

"Um.. G-go.. Good morning." 

"Now we're on two words. Progress." Larry mumbled, getting an elbow his side in from Sal. 

"Ow!" 

"Be nice. Ah crud, I forgot something. I'll be right back." Sal rushed back into the doorway, looking back at Larry with a confirming nod. Larry rolled his eyes and Ivy turned around, silently pleading for Sal not to leave her with Larry, who cleared his throat loudly to make sure he had her attention. 

"Listen, about.. last week, I'm sorry." She blinked, Sal was right.

"Ssss-sorry for..?"

"For getting mad at you for shoving me. I didn't know you don't like to be touched." It sounded a little forced, but she could at least appreciate that he was trying. 

"It's.. okay. You didn't know." She looked at the ground, thankful that he apologized but also wished this conversation wasn't happening. 

"Truce?" He held out a hand to shake, to which she stared at for a few seconds before he started to pull back. 

"Oh.. Right, we just said.." She took a deep breath, pulled her sleeve over her hand and shook his hand quickly. 

'God she's so weird, but I guess this is better than nothing.' 

Thankfully for the both of them, Sal burst out of the doors. 

"Alright, let's go." 

"Did you find your thing?" 

"Yeah, turns out it was in my bag the whole time." Unbeknownst to both Larry and Ivy, Sal didn't actually forget anything, this was just the perfect opportunity to get them alone for him to apologize, at the risk of Ivy freaking out but he gave it a shot, and it seemed to work. 

Sal and Larry once again chatted the whole way while Ivy blasted her music from her headphones, she had kept them on her shoulders in case either of them tried to talk to her, hoping they wouldn't. 

"Hey Ivy, what are you listening to?" Sal called out. 

"Uh.. Bauhaus.." 

"Bow-house? They sound interesting." 

"If you want to, you can borrow my CD's." 

"Sure, I'd like that." 

"What is that, like.. soft rock?" Asked Larry, trying to be a part of the conversation. 

"Er.. I'm not sure, post punk I guess." 

"You like metal?" She shrugged.

"Kinda? Not really my thing." 

"You're probably just not listening to the right kind of metal then." He turned around and pulled up his hoodie to show off his Sanity's Fall shirt, but Ivy shielded her eyes not knowing what to expect. 

"Larry, you can't just flash girls on the street like that."

"Just showing her the true music gods that make up Sanity's Fall." 

"Geez, you won't be satisfied until all of Nockfell is listening to them." 

"First Nockfell, then the world!!" He laughed maniacally and pulled his hoodie back down, making Sal laugh and shake his head. Ivy wanted to laugh, but her lips twitched and she covered her mouth with her hand. 

Thankfully, they left her alone for the most part until they got to school. 

"Later taters." Larry saluted them as he walked to his classroom. 

"Bye Larry. Ivy, do you need to go to your locker? I'll go with you." 

"You.. don't have to do that." 

"I don't mind, besides we have the same morning class tomorrow, it's no big deal." 

"Er.. okay. That's fine I suppose." 

'Why is he so insistent on being nice to me? What does he want?'  She thought, but wasn't going to say no to him and be rude. 

But sure enough, as Sal thought, her locker refused to open. 

"Yep, I was afraid of that." He dug around his pocket for a hairpin but came up empty. 

"Shoot, my trusty lockpick. You don't have a bobby pin, do you?" She pulled one from her hair and handed it to him. After a few quick jabs, the lock popped open. 

"Presto."

"I forgot about that, I think Ashley said something about that when she showed me around."

"Oh yeah, I meant to be the tour guide."

"Ye-Yeah.." She rubbed the back of her neck, remembering the foul morning.

"Well as long as you know your way around." 

"Unless there's a secret underground dungeon I should be aware of, I think I'm set."

"Well we were gonna wait until you passed initiation but.." 

"Huh?" 

"Just kidding, no dungeons around here to the best of my knowledge, unless you wanna count Larry's room." 

"What kind of dragon is guarding that?" 

"A vicious one, but if you throw a pizza at it, it'll let you through."

"Ah, seems we have the same dragon."

"Man, I'm gonna make Pizza Hut's year." Ivy covered her mouth as her chuckles got caught in her throat.

----

Ivy was surprisingly in a pleasant mood during her time at school. The teachers will understanding and forgiving, provided that she handed in her completed homework. Ash and Sal waved at her during passing periods, Larry on the other hand, maybe a sideways glance but otherwise ignorant of her existence. 

Things were going well, at least until..

THUD 

She lost her footing and landed on her textbooks, hurting her chest on stomach. 

"Watch your step, freak." She looked up to see a rather disdainful looking blonde boy, glaring down at her before walking off. 

'Oh good. Only a matter of time..'  She attempted to get up but the pain from the hard edged books stung as she tried to move. 

"I see you've met Travis." She looked to see Ash picking up her notebooks and other papers that fell from her grasp. 

"I've always known a Travis, though in the last place I lived, they were called Brian. You could never say that name without a hint of disgust." She groaned as she gripped her stomach. 

"Here." She looked to see Ash extended a hand, this time her sleeve pulled down to cover the skin. 

"Larry told me about your touching thing, I hope this helps." Ivy grimaced, she was glad that someone cared enough but felt guilty about people catering to her. Out of habit, she pulled down her sleeve and grabbed Ash's hand, accepting the help. 

"There you go. Are you getting ready to go to lunch?"

"Yeah, I just need to put this away and grab my bag."

"I'll walk you!" Ivy couldn't refuse. 

'Why is everyone so nice to me? What's their endgame?' 

------

Ash and Ivy walked into the cafeteria, noticing that the boys, including Todd, were already seated. 

"Go over there and join them, I'll be there in a second." Ash said before skipping off to the hot food line. 

She stood there for a minute, shaking anxiously before gulping and walking over to said table, taking a seat next to Todd. Sal and Larry were sitting across. 

"Hey Ivy!" Said Sal, strangely elated to see her.

"Hello." She looked down before noticing Todd next to her. 

"Oh, I'm sorry."

"What for?"

"I uh.. Well.. I.." 

"Todd, you remember Ivy, right?"

"Yes, we met briefly last week during lunch."

"Ye-yeah. I'm sorry. Was this seat saved for someone?"

"Not at all, Neil is out sick today anyway. Feel free." He adjusted his glasses and smiled. 

"Th-thanks." 

"Hey guys." They heard a sardonic tone. 

"Oh hey, it's Maple and Chug." Larry announced. 

"Right, Ivy, this is Maple and Chug. Maple and Chug, this is Ivy."

"Aren't you the girl that ran out of here like a bat out of hell?" Asked Chug. Maple elbowed him. 

"Come on, Chug, that's not nice." She said as she took a seat next to Ivy. 

"I love your makeup." She commented. 

"Th-thank you. I like your hair." 

"Thanks." Though her expression didn't change much, it felt genuine. Chug sat next to her and began chomping down on his meal. Ivy did her best to drown out the noise. Todd noted her squeezing her right fist under the table, but opted to not say anything, but to observe.

"Do you like it here at Nockfell so far?" Asked Maple. 

"I mean, I don't hate it." 

"Sounds about right." 

"I've been meaning to ask, where did you live before here?" Asked Sal. He knew the answer per Ivy's mom but wanted to include her in conversation somehow.

"Oh, uhm.. before here, New York."

"Where in New York?"

"Well.. before here, I lived in Manhattan for a couple years, and before that was some snooty place in upstate called Greenwich."

"You lived in New York city? Did you go to any of those underground clubs?" Asked Maple, rather excited. Ivy was a little taken aback but tried her best to be polite and answer.

"Sadly no, most of those places you had to be 21 to get into, and I moved before I could get a fake ID." 

"Oooh, little miss Ivy, breakin' the law, breakin' the law." Larry joked, Sal trying not to laugh.

"I bet Manhattan was cool though, right?"

"It had it's moments, I miss the subways and Chinatown." 

"Hey guys, I'm here. Look at this crap, can this even be called food?" Ash presented her tray of nastiness that the school attempted to pass off as edible. 

"Fun fact, there's certain types of cheese that legally can't be called cheese, there's so much byproduct in it, they have to call it pasture." Todd chipped in.

"Then they legally have to call this landfill." She sat down and poked at the sad attempt at salad that they served with it.

"So, October is coming up, which means Halloween is coming as well. What are we doing this year?" Asked Sal.

"Chug and I were gonna go trick or treating." 

"Aren't you too old for that?" Asked Larry

"We're just gonna see how many houses actually give us candy." 

"Wild. Any Halloween parties?" 

"My parents are having one, however it's 21 and over, so that's a no go." said Todd.

"Do you like Halloween, Ivy?" Asked Ash.

"Of course she does, look at her." Said Larry, attempting to be funny.

"Larry." Sal chided.

"It's okay. I do, but it's been a while since I actually celebrated. I normally just stay inside and watch all the horror movie marathons on TV.

"Well dang, aren't there like.. Haunted houses or something we can go to?" Larry griped.

"I think the shopping plaza is doing one, I know I gotta take my little brother there for trick or treating there." said Ash. 

"Well that sounds fun, you guys wanna do that?" Asked Sal. Everyone except Ivy nodded or verbally agreed.

"What about you, Ivy? Would you like to join us?" 

She felt a little put on the spot, but at the same time, it was nice to feel included.

"Ye-yeah. Sure." 

"Perfect!" Her lips moved around a little, she wanted so badly to smile. 

"Okay, but that's for next month. Ivy, wanna have a girl day? Me, you and Maple can like, do our hair and stuff." Ash shoved herself in front of Larry, who feigned jealously. 

"Hey, I want my hair done too." Said Larry Everyone chuckled.

"I mean.. if you want to." Ivy never had a girls night before, but she would be lying if she didn't always dream of the aspect. 

 

Chapter Text

Sal POV

Dark in here. 

Wait, there's a little bit of light. 

Is that.. hair? 

On the walls?

This place is weird

*snip snip snip*

This is a lot of hair

I think I stepped on a pair of scissors. 

"WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?!" 

That woman sounds angry. 

Why is there so much hair? 

Whose toys are these? 

These look broken. 

*snap*

"Since you think you're grown, you don't need these damn toys!" 

Someone should help that kid, that's just evil. 

What is going on?

"You wanna look like a boy so bad?!" 

That sounds like an electric razor. 

What the fuck, lady? 

*sobbing*

"You wanna cry? I'll give you something to cry about!" 

*SLAP*

Holy shit! 

Stop! 

------

Sal straight straight up in bed, out of breath and sweating. 

He looked at the clock in his room, 3:17 AM. 

"That was creepy." He whispered to himself. 

He even felt about his own head to make sure his own hair hadn't been touched. Thankfully, to his knowledge, no unwanted 3 AM haircuts had taken place. He laid back down in a sigh of relief. 

"What was that anyway?" 

------ 

Sal rubbed under his mask furiously trying to get the sleep out of his eyes, even though he went right back to sleep after that rude awakening, he still felt exhausted from it. 

"Hey bro, you awake yet?" Greeted Larry. 

"Regrettably." 

"I should say so. Are you ready to go?"

"As ready as I can be."

"Then where are your shoes?" Asked Ivy. Sal looked down to see that he only had socks on. 

"Dang it." 

"That's okay bro, we'll wait for you." Said Larry, fiddling with his hoodie strings. 

Sal shook his head as he ran back to the elevator. How could he forget such a thing? Maybe he was more tired than he thought. 

He quickly slipped his shoes on and dashed back downstairs to join Ivy and Larry on the trek to school. Since he had been a little sluggish, he walked behind the other two. 

As if he were still dreaming, seeing Ivy's long black hair made him stop in his tracks for a second. He noticed it was fairly long, rivaling even Larry's. 

"What's up, you forget something else?" Asked Larry, both looking at him concerned. 

"N.. No. I thought I did but we're good."

"You alright dude? You're acting a little off."

"Yeah. Sorry, just had a rough time sleeping was all. I'm sure I'll get a second wind or something after first class." 

The whole walk to school, he couldn't help but concentrate on Ivy's hair. Something about the dream he had just felt strange, and almost familiar. 

------

"Sal! Hey!" Ash called out to him during their lunch period. 

"Huh?"

"Maybe you should go home man, you're not looking well." Said Larry. 

"I'm fine, I swear." 

"Sal, you should be getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night, especially for school." Chirped in Todd.

"Yeah, I'll be sure to schedule my nightmares for weekends only." 

"You had a nightmare?" Ash asked, worried.

"Nothing unlike the other times, just woke me up was all." 

"Was it that Safeway dream again?" said Larry. 

"Thankfully no. Hopefully I won't have to encounter Safeway goblin ever again." Everyone kind of chuckled, except for Ivy who had also been spacing off a little, but no one else really paid much mind to her. 

Again, he started observing her hair a little more. The dream had to be about her in some way, but he hoped it wasn't, that was too cruel. 

She must have sensed that he was staring because she looked at him for a brief second and made eye contact. Her eyes widened for a second before looking somewhere else in embarrassment. 

"Hey Ivy, I gotta ask, what do you use on your hair? It looks so nice." Ash piped up. 

'What is with the hair stuff today?'  He thought.

"Oh uhm.. nothing much really, I just use shampoo and conditioner like anyone else." 

"I'm so jealous, I'm riddled with split ends." 

"Your hair is probably dry, try leaving the conditioner in longer before rinsing." She said, immediately feeling snobby for some reason and recoiling. 

"Okay, when Maple and I come over this weekend, you gotta give us your beauty secrets." Ivy blushed, she certainly didn't feel like one to give any sort of advice. 

"For real, my eyeliner game needs help." Said Maple. 

"Makeup, hair, beauty, geez, did I walk into the girls room by accident?" Larry sneered. 

"Larry, if you wanna look pretty, all you have to do is ask." Ash dished back.

"Are you saying I'm not pretty now? I'm hurt, Ash." 

Everyone giggled, of course, except for Sal and Ivy. The former still blanking out and the latter incapable of doing so. 

-----------

*Skip to saturday afternoon*

"I'm so excited, your first slumber party!" Miriam squealed as she danced around the kitchen.

"With the way you're acting, you'd think it was your own." 

"I'm just so glad that you're making friends, I was getting worried for a minute." 

"You'd let me come home with members of a drug cartel if it meant I had friends."

"As long as you understand that snitches get stitches." 

"Greg, I thought you took Miriam's N.W.A. albums away." 

Ivy was nervous about having Ash and Maple over, not so much that her parents would embarrass her, but that she would embarrass herself by not being a good hostess or being generally boring. 

What made it worse was that it's not even like she essentially agreed to the ordeal, Ash insisted and she couldn't bring herself to say no, especially when Maple looked interested as well. 

Then again, maybe this would be fun. 

Sooner than later, a knock at the door was heard. 

"Ivy! Your friends are here!" Sure enough, Ash and Maple were let inside, both carrying sleeping bags and a bundle of their belongings. 

"Hey girl! We made it!" Ash nearly shouted. 

"It would appear so." Ivy quietly said. 

"Ivy dear, aren't you gonna introduce me to your friends?"

"Right. Mom, this is Ashley and Maple. Ash, Maple, this is my mother Miriam. Don't let the Macy's outfit fool you, she likes gangster rap and crime TV." 

"I'd be upset if it wasn't true." Ash laughed while Maple snorted. 

The girls settled into Ivy's room, both in awe at her innate sense of decoration. 

"Man, I wish my mom would let me have taxidermy." Said Ash, admiring a crow statue on her dresser. 

"Miriam isn't exactly thrilled about it, creeps her out."

"Why do you call your mom by her first name?" Asked Maple. Ivy shrugged. 

"I don't know, I think it's funny, so does Greg."

"Your parents seem so cool, like they're not telling you to tone down your makeup or wear bright colors or anything." Maple was envious, her mother wasn't too pleased with her personal style. 

"I mean, there was the time that I tried to look like that guy from The Crow, she about had a heart attack when I tried to leave the house like that." Ivy wanted to laugh when she remembered how frantic Miriam got over the excessive KISS-esque makeup. 

"Eric Draven is my boyfriend, ugh I can't wait for that to come out on video." Mumbled Maple. 

"We should totally all get together and watch it when it does." Ash overlooked Ivy's video collection. They were alphabetized, and it was amusing to see Disney movies mixed in with horror. 

"Hey wait, you have Hellraiser?" Ash said as she pulled it out. 

"Hmm? Oh, yeah. Funny story, I somehow managed to get some dude to buy it for me, the guys at Sam Goody didn't wanna sell it to me because I was 'too young' to watch dudes get ripped apart."

"I've always wanted to watch this movie, my parents would never let me!" Said Ash. 

"We can watch it if you want, but I'd prefer we do it after my parents go to sleep, only because I don't think my mom wants to see the crazy stuff that happens in there." 

The night carried on, Ash and Maple did most of the talking while admiring the various knickknacks and trinkets had in her possession. Miriam graced them with cookies and snacks throughout the evening until she eventually retired to bed with Greg. 

During the movie, both Ash and Maple were grossed out and intrigued with the graphic story line, while Ivy fidgeted and had a hard time being used to company, especially because they chatted quite a bit, but in her efforts to be social, she did her best to deal with it. 

The movie ended and the two girls gossiped away about school and people they knew. While she had nothing much to offer, part of her enjoyed the liveliness. 

"I wanna braid your hair!" Maple reached up and touched a lock of Ivy's hair, not realizing it would make her jump and nearly scream. 

"Oh my god, I'm so sorry, did I hurt you?" Maple recoiled her hand in shame, she wasn't prepared for that. 

"Uh.. Uh.. no.. you're.. fine.. I just.. need to.." Ivy sprinted off out of her room and into the bathroom. 

"Sal and Larry told me that Ivy has a thing about touching."

"Now you tell me!" 

Ivy panicked in the bathroom trying to calm down. 

'Why, why do people wanna touch me so bad? What is it about me that says 'please put your hands on me'? Why can't they just leave me alone?!' 

'Because you're so pretty!'  A little girls voice broke the train of paranoia. She looked around the bathroom in confusion, did she think that? 

'Okay.. that was weird.' 

Oddly enough, the strange voice brought her out of the horrible feelings from being touched. Upon entering her room, she was greeted by a very apologetic Maple. 

"Ivy, I'm so so sorry, I didn't know you didn't like being touched, I'm so sorry, oh my god." Her guilt seemed genuine, especially with Ash nodding behind her. 

"It's.. fine." 

After a little bit of awkward silence, they did continue on. They had tried to ask Ivy questions about herself, usually getting one word answers or nothing noteworthy, but they tried their best to get to know her. 

"Ivy, do you like anybody?" Ash tilted her head out of curiosity.

"What do you mean?" 

"Are there any boys you like?" 

"I mean, Peter Murphy."

"... Who?" 

"He's.. a musician." 

"I mean anyone from school?" 

"Oh.. no." 

"You sure? Sal or Larry haven't tried to sweep you off your feet yet?" Ivy almost shriveled up from the thought. 

"Yeah, no. Sal is just a friend. As far as Larry, I don't think he likes me very much."

"Honestly, don't even mind Larry. He's a little hotheaded but he really is nice." 

"I see." 

'Yeah right, that guy's an asshole.' 

Before long, Ash and Maple passed out. Ivy could feel the hands of sleep grabbing hold of her as well. 

She looked at the clock, 3:15 AM. 

'I was wondering when the slumber part of this was happening.'

'Me and you can stay up, I've always wanted a slumber party!' 

Ivy sat straight up. 

'There it is again.' This time it definitely wasn't her talking to herself in a different voice. 

She looked over to see if Ash or Maple were messing with her, but both remained in the same position they fell asleep in. 

'This is too freaky.'

 

Chapter Text

Sal POV

It’s dark

Am I in water?

This doesn’t feel like water

What the fuck

More hair?!

Not gonna lie, this is kinda gross

What’s that noise?

Scissors? Again?

Holy shit, I’m sinking into the hair.

HELP!!

----

I woke up gasping for air. Jesus, hair nightmares two nights in a row.

And of course, it’s like 3 AM. Ugh.

I decided to talk a walk since I knew since wasn’t going to come easy, thankfully it’s Saturday so no school in the morning.

I normally would have called up Larry but just because I can’t sleep doesn’t mean I need to bother him. He probably would have been awake but, I don’t know.

But even if I did decide to have him tag along, my mind changed when I saw Ivy rushing into the stairwell.

What is she doing up? Are Ash and Maple with her?

Curious, I followed behind her quietly. I thought she may have gone to the 5th floor, but to no avail, I didn’t find her in the hallway or in any of the rooms.

That’s strange, the only other place she could have gone was the roof.

Call it a hunch but it’s the only other logical place she could have gone, I didn’t hear the elevator at all.

I opened the door and saw her standing at the opposite side, looking up at the sky.

I didn’t want to disturb her, but I was also worried as to why she was up here in the first place, it’s late at night, her friends are downstairs, and it’s also really fucking cold.

I tried to make a little noise to let my presence be known, I didn’t wanna startle her with noises, but I figured that essentially sneaking up on her wouldn’t be a better choice either.

“Ivy?” She turned around, she looked surprised to see me

“Sal? What are you doing awake?”

“I could ask you the same thing, aren’t you having a slumber party?”

“Well, yeah.”

“Is it not going well?”

“I mean, maybe? I’ve never had a slumber party before.” Sometimes I feel bad for her, I get that she’s not used to having friends but sometimes it still baffles me that she’s never experienced something like a slumber party, but I think that’s mean of me to think.

“Well, I’ve had a couple. I’m not sure how it is for girls, but I know most of the time, it’s a sugar filled gab fest with dumb movies and talking about shit you can’t talk about at school.”

“Well, that did happen.”

“Then I’ll call that a success.” I tried to cheer her up, something must be wrong if she left her house.

“Sal, can I ask you something?”

“Of course.”

“…. Nevermind.”

“What is it?”

“Nothing, it’s just.. I feel so out of place.”

“What do you mean?”

“I feel like I’m too different from people, I have so many issues being around people and it’s all around things that are perceived as.. normal, you know?”

“What do you mean?”

“Why do people wanna touch me so bad? Is it just.. like, a thing people do?” She looked uncomfortable; I wonder if something happened downstairs.

“I think it’s in human nature to be a little touchy feely, but don’t feel bad, there are plenty of people who feel the same you do. Even I’m not a fan of being touched all the time, however it’s usually in regard to people I don’t know or not close to, you know?”

“I guess so.” She hugged herself, she has to be freezing, because I’m freezing.

“Why are you out here on the roof?” Not sure why I didn’t ask that in the first place.

“Oh, I uh.. found it.. when I was wandering late one night. It didn’t seem like anyone really comes up here and I can be left alone.”

“Crap, I’m sorry, I’ll leave.” She freaked out and stopped me.

“No! No no.. I mean.. you don’t have to. I’m sorry.” She looked a little embarrassed, it was kind of a shock that she didn’t want me to leave.

“Ivy, can I ask you something?”

“Sure.”

“Do you like it here?” A bit of a loaded question.

“I don’t know.” She looked so sad.

“I mean.. it’s better than where I’ve been, so far. But it doesn’t really matter, you can change your location all you want but people remain the same.”

“Maybe, but then again, maybe here can be different. You’ve already had your first slumber party, I mean, who knows what else is in store for you?” I watched her lips move around a little before shrugging.

“Sal, what are you doing up here?” She asked, rather bluntly.

“I couldn’t sleep either.”

“Did you have another nightmare?” I guess she heard me the other day.

“Yeah.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Not your fault.” Though the hair theme and her almost seem related, a long shot though.

“I’m not good at this but.. you wanna tell me about it?”

“Erm.. maybe another time. I’m still processing it.” She almost seemed a little hurt, I felt bad, I wanted to tell her.

“Okay.” She looked back up at the sky. The moon was bright, almost like a spotlight on her face. I try not to be superficial, but she is pretty. Her long black hair complimented her pale olive skin, and her hazel eyes looked alluring and mysterious.

“Either this isn’t a full moon or I’m not a werewolf.” She said it so quietly and succinctly, it took me a second to realize that she was joking.

“PffffffffHAHAHAHAHAHH!!!” I laughed so hard, I doubled over.

“Haha, ah, I’m sorry. That was funny.” I looked over to her, her mouth moved around a bit before she covered it with her hand.

“We should go inside.” I suggested. She nodded. We both said nothing as I walked her back to her apartment, except for when I stopped her before she went in.

“Goodnight Ivy.”

“Goodnight Sal.”

I felt a little better after that, and I hope she did too.

I couldn’t help but wonder why she wouldn’t smile or laugh.

In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen her smile once since she’s been here.

Chapter Text

The morning came and went, Ash and Maple expressed their joys and left to their homes.

“Did you have fun, dear?” Miriam asked after her friends left.

“I suppose.”

“Well, that’s better than a no. They seemed like such nice girls.”

“Yeah, they are.” She responded enough to give a sufficient answer, but not enough to try and engage in lengthy conversation.

Truth was, she didn’t sleep a wink. Even after having a comforting rooftop talk with Sal, she was still plagued by the little girl voice, but she chalked it up to sleep deprived auditory hallucinations.

“I guess you girls were up all night, you look so tired.”

“Hmm? Oh yeah, talking about boys and stuff.”

“Boys?! You like boys?!” Her mom shouted, oddly excited.

“I was kidding, mother.” Ivy’s deadpan behavior made it difficult to tell where her emotions were, and she got off on it.

“Well, you are at that age, I assume you’d be bringing home a boy at some point.”

“Or a girl, you never know these days.”

“I guess so. Wait, you just had a girl slumber party.” Miriam had a look of shock on her face.

“I’ll let you sit on that.” If Ivy could smirk, she would have. Instead she just walked to her room, leaving her mother bewildered.

------

There was still homework to be done, laundry to be cleaned, and many many things to take care of, but it was easier to just sit on her bed and think about all the things she has to do rather than do them.

Her Mazzy Star album was playing in the background, the soft voice of Hope Sandoval did it’s best to soothe her frantic mind.

‘A stranger's light comes on slowly
A stranger's heart without a home
You put your hands into your head
And then its smiles cover your heart’

She thought about how Maple wanted to braid her hair, and that how it had been a long time since her hair was braided.

She never really wanted anyone to touch her hair except her, and even then, aside from washing and brushing it, and the occasional hairstyle, she wanted to touch it as less as possible.

She brushed her hair, parted it, and took her time braiding it.

‘Huh, I’m surprised I can still do it.’

-----

“Whoa! Nice!” Said Sal.

“Huh?”

“Your braids, they look nice!” Sal said jubilantly, confusing both Ivy and Larry.

“Oh um.. thanks.”

“You know, I always wondered what I'd look like with braided hair.” Larry commented.

“I can.. do it, if you want.” She said, looking up at him for a second before looking at the ground.

“We'll see, I don't let just anyone touch my glorious mane.”

“That's because anyone putting their hand on it won't get it back. Seriously, brush your hair.” Sal elbowed him.

“I already got a mom, Sally.” Ivy’s shoulders hunched a little from the internal laugh.

Getting to the school, Maple greeted Ivy at her locker.

“Hey Ivy, I-whoa! You look great!” Maple almost reached out before remembering.

“Thank you, I’m sorry you didn't get the chance to braid it. Maybe when we know each other a little more.

“It's okay, I just wanted to say I'm sorry again. I don't wanna make you uncomfortable.”

“Thanks Maple, and it's okay. Let’s hang out more and when I’m comfortable, you can do whatever you want to it.” Maple smiled and headed off to her class.

‘Well, that was easy, and pleasant for once.’

Throughout the day, Ivy practically glided on strange good feelings, catching the attention of her acquaintances with how talkative she could be if allowed.

Of course, all good things must come to an end, and someone made sure they would.

While she was putting away her textbooks to get ready for lunch, she felt a hard tug on one of her braids before getting shoved back up against the lockers, the hard edge of an opening hitting her in the chest.

“Ugly Pocahontas Bitch.” She looked out to see Travis walking away as though he weren’t the guilty party.

“Fucking bastard.” She mumbled, rubbing her ribcage and stomach.

Unfortunately, a heavy feeling began taking place in her lower abdomen, and she grew agitated.

‘No no no.. why now?’

She knew the day ahead would be spent with her doubled over in pain, and she didn’t want to use the same excuse she did the last time she went to the nurse.

She would try to bear it, the day was halfway over. If she could at least make it through the last half, she could go home and sleep the day away, but this was just the start.

Having lost her appetite, she opted to lock herself away in the girls bathroom until lunch was over. If she was feeling agitated now, having to be around a room dedicated to eating noises would be self-inflicted torture. So now, she got to sit in a cold tile room, cursing her very female existence.

‘Of course, I have one decent start to a day and now it’s all ruined, my entire week is just ruined. Fuck you, Travis.’

Meanwhile, back in the cafeteria.

“Man, that freaking geometry test was wack.” Ash sighed as she sat down at the table.

“Are you still having issues with quadratic equations? Honestly, I’m surprised they let you pass algebra last year.”

“Man, suck my dodeca-dick.”

“No thanks, I’d rather find the surface area of Neil’s.” He said casually, making everyone spit out their food or choke from laughter.

“Dirty math jokes? You guys are grounded.” Larry giggled.

“Hey, where’s Ivy?” Said Maple.

“Oh yeah, I was wondering why the table was less gloomy.” Larry chimed in.

“Larry shut up, I’ll have you know that Ivy is actually pretty chill.” Ash said defensively.

“Whoa, calm down. I was just kidding.”

“Maybe she went to the library? I know she’s there sometimes during lunch. I noticed that eating sounds make her particularly uneasy.” Todd said.

“How do you know?”

“Whenever someone is eating rather loudly, she clenches her fists and tends to space out like she’s trying to unhear it. It definitely shows when she stops talking altogether.”

Everyone kinda looked at Todd, then to Chug who was munching away rather loudly. He didn’t notice until the table went quiet and he saw everyone staring at him.

“What?”

“Are you sure, Todd?” Asked Sal.

“Almost positive, though I really wouldn’t want to experiment at the risk of upsetting her.”

“God, why does everyone need to cater to that freakin’ girl?” Larry groaned.

“Whoa whoa, no one said anything about doing that. Todd was just sharing his findings, you know how it is.” Sal tried to calm down Larry, but he wasn’t having it.

“No man, ever since she came here, that’s all you guys every talk about. Ivy this, Ivy that. It’s not like she’s anyone special!”  

“Okay but Larry, what is your deal?” Asked Ash, rather irritated.

“I don’t have a deal.”

“You totally fucking do.”

“No, I don’t!”

“No, I wanna know, what is your problem? You had one little tiff with her and last I checked, you apologized and she’s trying to be your friend.”

“My ass. Fuck this.” He picked up his tray and walked off, Sal wanted to get up and stop him, but Ash sat him back down.

“Don’t. I don’t know what’s going on with him but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” Sal watched helplessly as Larry tossed the whole tray in the garbage rather than just dumping his food and putting it away with the rest.

This was starting to bother him, he’d never seen Larry be this upset over anyone else aside from Travis, but even that was justified.

-----

Larry POV

God fucking damn it, I’m so sick of hearing about her.

I’m trying, I’m fucking trying my hardest to be friendly.

Honestly, I don’t even know why she pisses me off so much.

Maybe because she’s fucking weak.

She’s so fucking snobby and she has no reason to be, not like she contributes much to any conversation or does anything.

She’s not even that fucking pretty, I don’t know why Sal is tripping over himself over her.

Everyone wants to walk on eggshells around her, well they can do what they fucking want but I’m not doing it.

And of course, I’m never lucky enough to completely escape her, because I fucking ran into her coming out of the bathroom, knocking her over.

She just collapsed onto the ground like a weakling, I wasn’t sure if I felt bad or pitied her.

I couldn’t roll my eyes hard enough when she started moaning and groaning on the ground like a little kid.

She curled up into a ball and I had it.

“Come on, get up. You’re not hurt.” I grabbed her arms and pulled her up. To my surprise, she didn’t resist or anything, but when I stood her up, she had this dazed look in her eyes and she was really pale.

“Hey, snap out of it.” I slapped her face lightly, but she was clammy.

“Oh fucking hell, not this shit again.” As soon as I said that, she went limp in my arms.

“God fucking damn it.” I scooped her up bridal style and carried her ass to the nurses office.

She should just live in a fucking bubble if she’s this delicate.

If I’m being 100% honest, I still wavered between feeling bad and irritated.

Irritated because I’m flat out tired of this chick.

Feeling bad because I can only imagine being this frail is probably exhausting.

Chapter Text

Ivy POV

Ugh.. I don’t feel so good, the floor is wobbly.

Wait, that’s not the floor, am I floating?

No wait.. this smells like.. cigarettes and.. Larry?!

------

Ivy came to in Larry’s arms and proceeded to squirm and freak out, making him drop her.

“Fucking hell!” He shouted as she landed on her butt.

“Fuck!” She writhed in pain on the ground, the vibrating agony amplifying her cramps.

“I was just trying to help, God.” He mumbled, feeling slighted. She hissed and groaned as she tried to get up but would fail miserably.

“Yo, okay, like what is going on with you?”

“Nothing..”

“You’re a terrible liar.” Larry couldn’t help but laugh.

“I just wanna go home.” She mumbled pitifully.

“We all do, but we still have like 3 hours left. Do you wanna go to the nurse or not?”

 “No..” She laid still, facing away from him.

“Are you just gonna lay on the floor all day?”

“Until the earth reclaims me.”

“You’ll be there for a while.”

“You know, normally I hate cold but the tile is strangely refreshing right now.”

“I’d agree with you but this place is fucking nasty, no matter how hard that poor janitor works.” Ivy suddenly felt the crawling sensation of school cooties on her skin.

“Ew..”

“Yeah, you should get up.” She sighed and tried to sit up but still felt the residual dizziness.
Larry sighed and offered his hand, knowing that she would pull up her sleeves as a barrier.

She looked at him for a second, her lips spasmed before she let out a small ‘thanks’ before scuttling off to her locker to get ready for her next class.

‘God, why is she so fucking weird?’

-------

The rest of the school day dragged on as Ivy waited for her torment to be over. The amount of pain and aggravation over the smallest thing made it difficult to concentrate. When the last bell finally rang, she burst out from the classroom ready to shove anything important into her bag and dash home.

‘Just have to get home, if I can get home everything will be fine. Just have to get home.’

She mentally chanted to herself as she tried to not barrel through the onslaught of students with the same idea.

She charged through the doors, catching only a small glimpse of Travis before realizing she was unable to stop herself from plowing into him.

“What’s your problem? Being a devil-worshipping slut wasn’t enough?” She tried to ignore him as she gathered her notes and papers, but it became difficult to do so when he stomped on them. The only way to get them was to either rip the papers or shove him.

In her haste to just get the situation over with, more contents of her bag spilled out, feminine pads being among them.

“Gross, bitch is on her period!” Travis pointed and laughed at her, garnering the attention of some students passing by, some giggling at her expense.

‘There’s no way this is happening, this has to be some awful dream.’ She stayed knelt on the ground as she put her hands to her head in disbelief. She didn’t even realize that she started to cry, the sheer embarrassment becoming overwhelming. All she could hear was laughter, and every word every bully ever said to her. The noise drowned out everything, overloading her mind with a menagerie of torture.

“Hey Travis, don’t you have a bible to hump somewhere? Get lost!” Ash shouted as she stepped to him.

“Oh look, the rest of the freak show is here.” He said gruffly. He kicked a few pages at Ivy, triggering her into getting up and sprinting away from everyone, ensuring that everyone saw her.

“Go be a loser somewhere else, Travis.” Larry said as he stepped to him as well.

“Tch, whatever homos.” He backed off and left the scene.

“God, why is he such an asshole?” Ash mumbled. Sal bent down to gather Ivy’s stuff. Ash noticed the pads on the ground and quickly scooped them up before any of the boys could see.

“She even left her CD player, geez.” Sal made sure that her device and the booklet were unharmed or at the very least still functional with minimal damage.

“Is it me, or is he being more of a jerk than normal?” Todd asked, coming up behind them.

“Well the full moon just happened, maybe he’s upset that he’s terrible at being a human.” Ash joked.

“That would imply that he’s nicer as a werewolf.” Todd replied.

“At this point, I’m more inclined to be around werewolf Travis if that’s the case.”

Meanwhile, Ivy made it home. She spent a while catching her breath before heading inside, trying to prevent the vomit from creeping up further up her esophagus.

“Running.. *pant*.. is.. *wheeze* …stupid..” She breathed out to herself as she tried to regain composure.

Only in the elevator did she realize that she was sans backpack.

‘God fucking damn it, I had to be a spaz and leave all my shit there. FUCK! My CD’s!! God, I hate this town.’

She cursed and muttered to herself as she made her way into her home.

Thankfully for her, both of her parents were gone.

As much as she wanted comfort from them, maybe it was best that she calmed down first.

She prepared a bath for herself, a rare occasion, and made sure to use her favorite lavender bath beads to soothe her troubled mind.

As she unplugged her CD player to bring into the bathroom, she remembered that the CD’s she wanted to listen to were in her bag, so she'd have to settle for Mazzy Star again.

Even though the tones were gentle and quiet, she became immersed to the point she didn't even hear someone knocking at the door.

‘She must not be home, I hope she’s okay.’

After a few minutes of no response, Sal gave up and went back to his apartment to start on his homework and decompress after an exhausting day. His dad locked himself in his room, vigorously typing away for his work. Gizmo greeted him from the couch, but otherwise remained unbothered by his presence.

Getting into his room, he set his and Ivy’s backpack down, not realizing that part of it was still open and he could see her CD’s on the top of her school things. Curiosity got the better of him and he opened her bag to retrieve them.

‘Hmm, Depeche Mode, Sisters of Mercy, Nine Inch Nails, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry? Huh, only really heard of Nine Inch Nails.’ Since he had been wondering about the kind of music Ivy listened to, he popped in Floodland, the Sisters of Mercy album.

As he walked around his room to prepare himself for his personal chores, his shoulders began to sway to the drumbeats as the song progressed.

‘Hey, this actually isn’t bad.’ While it wasn’t nowhere near as fast or heavy as the metal Larry liked, it was still interesting and dark. It was nice to slow things down.

He found it difficult to complete his homework as he wanted to try and get to know Ivy more through her music. It was silly, sure, but in a sense, he felt a little closer to her.

-------

“Ivy! Your friend uh… Sully, is here?” Her dad called from the living room as she heard a knock at the door. Even though she had calmed herself down from the earlier incident, she was on edge knowing he had witnessed part of it.

She took a deep breath before opening the door.

“Hey Ivy! I have your bag!” He presented her beat up purple backpack.

“Thanks.” Her tone was neutral as she took it from him, he could sense her unease.

“Also, I’m sorry about.. earlier.”

“Why are you sorry?”

“Well.. can I come in?”

“Sure.” She waved him in, not wanting her parents to eavesdrop any more than they already were and closed the door behind them.

“I know that Travis is a.. bit of a pill.”

“A bit?”

“Alright, he’s a huge jerk. I’m not sure what his issue is, but don’t let it get to you.” Ivy grimaced at the surface level advice she had gotten all her life.

“Yeah..” She opened up her bag to pull out her homework, noticing the absence of her music.

“Oh great, some jerk stole my CD’s.”

“Wait, um.. Well, I was listening to them earlier, I forgot to put them back in.. your bag." He said, sheepishly. 

“You what?”

“I’m sorry, I can go get them.”

“Wait.. you listened to my music?” 

“Yeah. I’m sorry, I got curious. You always got your Walkman going and I just wanted to know what you were jamming out to.”

“I see.. What did you think?”

“I didn’t get around to Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode, but I liked Sisters of Mercy.” Ivy was a little stunned.

“Did you really?”

“Yeah, especially that one song, um.. Lucretia?”

“I love that one.” She whispered, wanting to smile.

“What else you got?”

“You want more?”

“Yeah!” Sal held up his fists in glee.

“Well, hmm.. If you liked Sisters..” She went over to her cabinet full of vinyls, tapes and CD’s.

“Holy crap.” Sal uttered. Ivy peered through her collection, trying to find a perfect recommendation.

“Here, try Joy Division, they’re good for a starter.” She handed him Unknown Pleasures.

“I gotta ask, when did you start listening to all this?” He gestured to her music library. She took a minute to think of her answer.

“Well, when I lived in New York, there were a couple goth kids that hung around. They never paid any mind to me, they were older and much cooler. I always wanted to be like them. And when I moved to Manhattan for the short time that I did, they were kinda everywhere.” She picked up an album, went over to her radio and popped in the CD and selected a track before going to her bed and laying down.

“Of course, they were still too good to give little creepy me the time of day, and half the places they went I couldn’t get into. Except the record stores.”

Learning lines in the rain
Special effects by Loonatik and Drinks
The graveyard scene
The golden years

She’s in parties

“One time, this song was playing and I was able to get someone to tell me what it was. I went home, gathered all my piggy bank money and bought it. The clerk with the nose piercing got a kick out of little ol’ me in a blue dress made for Sunday school buying a Bauhaus album, but I did it. It was the first real thing I ever did for myself.”

She stared directly up at the ceiling, reminiscing the first time she ever felt at home with her music.

“And ever since then, I got more and more into this kind of music, and started emulating those spooky kids. Even though none of them ever really talked to me outside of suggesting music, I envied and admired them.” Sal took a spot next to Ivy on her bed and laid down. He felt a little bold doing it, but she didn’t seem to mind.

She noticed but chalked it up to him enjoying the music as she did.

“I won’t lie, I think that’s the most I’ve heard you talk.” She put a pillow over her face to hide her blushing face.

“I mean that’s a good thing! I guess you’re just really passionate about your interests.” Sal tried to reel back the inflicting awkwardness of his comment. She pulled the pillow down and looked back up at the ceiling.

“Well, yeah. I ended up finding out my love for horror movies through that.”

“I saw you have a bit of a collection of that as well, any suggestions?”

“Depends on if you like gore, ghosts, or Satan.”

“All of those sound pretty good.”

“I can usually hit 2 of those.”

“Maybe you’d like to have a movie night? Me, you, Ash and Larry?” She winced at the idea of there being so many people, and things still weren’t exactly stellar between her and Larry. Sal noticed her discomfort.

“Or maybe just us?” Her breath hitched in her throat at the idea of such a thing.

“Um, sure. I guess, I mean.. my rules still stand.”

“I know, I know, no talking.”

“Well.. maybe if you have some interesting commentary to add. But if you keep asking me questions that are answered through watching it, I swear to god.” She tried to save face by being sarcastic.

“Haha I get it, I get it. Well, Halloween is around the corner, maybe something this weekend in preparation for the spooky holiday?” She wanted to turn and look at him, but she feared the hidden excitement on her face would be too obvious in some way, despite not being able to smile.

“I’ll see how my parents feel about a boy staying late, though if I’m being honest, they’re being awfully chill about you being in here with my door closed.”

“Ooh, getting through the parents. Challenge accepted.” He said playfully. Ivy’s cheeks burned with mortification.

They laid in her bed and listened to the rest of the album, not saying much but enjoying the gloomy tones of Peter Murphy and some more Sisters of Mercy.

Sal went home a little while later with the okay from her that he could borrow her CD’s if he promised to listen to them.

As she got ready for bed, Ivy hummed along to her music, feeling a strange elation from bonding session her and Sal shared.

Sure, Ash and Maple were nice, but there was a strange connection she was feeling with him. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but whatever it was, it was a lovely feeling.

“I think Sally likes you!”

Ivy dropped her hairbrush as the little girl voice from before disrupted her thoughts once more. She looked around her room to see if anyone had creeped in while she wasn’t looking, hoping her mother was just playing a weird prank on her.

But there was nothing.

“Okay, this is getting annoying, who’s there?” She said out loud, trying to put an end to this madness.

When nothing happened, she took a sigh of relief, and ascribed it to sleepiness.

At least until she looked over at an apparition on her bed, jumping up and down.

It glowed and giggled, and Ivy, in disbelief, felt the blood drain from her face.

And in her typical fashion, she fainted.

Chapter Text

Ivy POV

I must have already been asleep when I saw that little purple haired girl jumping on my bed because I dreamt about her. There was nothing else besides her, just a white, endless void.

“Hi! I’m Megan!!” She was so excited, I wasn’t sure what to do or say. I was just quiet.

“Your hair is so long and pretty!” She tried to grab at it and I freaked out, falling backwards trying to avoid her. When I looked at the lower half of my body, I noticed something weird. I was 7 years old again.

My long hair was its natural color, dark brown, and I was in my Sunday school clothes. I haven’t seen this little pink dress in such a long time.

 

“Oops! I’m sorry!!” She came over and helped me up the best her little girl self could.

“What’s your name?” I didn’t wanna be rude, but for some reason, I was reluctant to talk, but I tried.

“A.. Aa.. Avv.. Avrree..”

“Avree? That’s a funny name!” She giggled. Gee thanks. I know what my name is, but I had a difficult time saying it.

“We should play! Do you like Hide and Seek?” I only ever played once, and those kids didn’t even look for me. That or my hiding spot was so good, they gave up. I shrugged.

“I can teach you how to play! Here, you go hide, and I’ll count to 10, then I’ll come find you!” I nodded, though where in this white void that I was gonna hide was anyone’s guess, but as soon as she covered her eyes, a bunch of trees appeared, and we were suddenly in the woods.

I ran into the wooded area and tried to find a good spot to hide.

I must have been far away because I barely heard her say “Ready or not, here I come!”

I sat there for a while, and felt the familiar loneliness of being forgotten, again.

I don’t know why I let this little girl trick me, but it serves me right I guess. God, I feel like such a jerk, she couldn’t have been older than the age I am in this dream.

Suddenly, I heard leaves crunching and sticks snapping nearby. I thought maybe Megan was still indeed looking for me, but something was off. This sounded bigger than a little girl.

I wasn’t sure whether to get up and look in case she saw me, but if it was a monster, I wanted to get away.

It got a little closer, so finally, I poked up my head up to try and see who else was looking for me.

I saw a bear, but it wasn’t just any bear, it was a giant teddy bear. I almost wanted to go over and hug it, but something told me to stay where I was. I was so fascinated by it, I didn’t even hear Megan sneaking up on me. She jumped on my back and shouted “FOUND YOU!”

Then I woke up.

I was on the floor, my neck and back ached from the impromptu floor nap I had, also freezing cold.

I looked over, 3:27 AM, jesus.

I moved over to my bed and passed back out, not looking forward to the fact that I still have to go back to school in a few hours.

However, I ended up being late anyway even though I still woke up on time. My cramps were killing me, I sat on the bathroom floor for an hour, trying not to throw up from the swirling torment inside my uterus.

I tried hard to get my mom to let me just stay home, but she insisted that I at least try since I had already missed a lot of school and I’m not even done with the first semester.

I barely remember any of my day there, I think people tried to talk to me, but I was just zonked. All I wanted was to just get this day over with.

I think I finally tuned in sometime after lunch, I opted once again to just sit in the girls bathroom. I’d go to the library but there’s still some semblance of privacy being locked in the stall.

It was unusually cold in there though, after about 10 minutes, I had enough of shivering and left.

The door opened and Ash walked in.

“Ivy! Oh my god, you alright?” She asked, all worried.

“Erm, I guess, why?”

“That whole ordeal with Travis yesterday, I’m so sorry.” Why?

“It.. wasn’t your fault.”

“Are you feeling okay?”

“I mean.. not really.” I didn’t really wanna tell her why but I’m not good at hiding things.

“That reminds me, I have something of yours. Come with me.” She ushered me out of the bathroom, I’m not sure what she could possibly have of mine but I still obliged. We got to her locker and she looked around before grabbing whatever it was, and she still tried to sneak them to me.

“They fell out of your bag, I figured you probably need them, shit’s expensive these days.” I looked around and stuffed them in the sleeve of my jacket.

“Th-thank you.”

“Hey, if you want, I have some midol.”

“Actually.. I could use some.” I sometimes wonder why this girl is trying so hard to be nice to me, I’m still weary of everyone around her. However, I could really use that midol. She dropped a few pills in my hand and she handed me a water bottle.

“Us girls gotta stick together, right?” She smiled at me, thankfully I was swallowing so I didn’t have to go through the show of looking like a stroke victim trying to smile.

“When did you start?”

“Huh?”

“I usually end up getting mine at the beginning of the month.”

“Oh, um.. Yesterday.”

“Dang, do they last a long time?”

“Sometimes. It’s usually 3 days, but I’ve had as long as almost 2 weeks.”

“Oh fuck that, that sucks, I’m sorry.”

“You get used to it.” I handed her back her water, thanking her again.

“Hey, so Halloween is next week, are you gonna dress up?” I don’t remember the last time I ever dressed up for Halloween.

“Probably not, but I’ll still be in theme.”  

“I was thinking of being a witch actually, aaaand, don’t take this the wrong way, I was gonna ask if you had any tips or a long flowy dress I could borrow?”

“I am the Macy’s of witch wear, I suppose I have something.” I don’t know why I say these weird things, but she laughed so I guess it worked?

We parted ways and I just tried to get through this last half of the day. Thankfully the midol kicked in, it didn’t get rid of the cramps but it definitely stopped them from screaming so loudly.

It gave me a tiny bit of hope that things would be okay.

I don’t know why I thought that, because when I was at my locker before the last class for the day, I got my face shoved into door. I hit the edge just right and felt my lip split.

“Ugly goth slut.” Of course it was Travis, OF COURSE IT WAS.

I had enough and threw my history textbook at him, hitting him in the chest.

A small victory. He really didn’t like that, because then he shouted “You have some fucking nerve!” And picked me up by my collar, shoving me back against the lockers.

“Stop it Travis, let her go!” We both turned to see Ash and the boys storming down the hallway. He scoffed.

“Bitch can’t fight her own fights so the rest of the freak squad has to come rescue her. Pathetic.” He left, but not without shoving me one last time. I’m so tired of this place.

“You alright, Ivy?” Sal asked me, I wiped my lip and looked at the blood on my fingertips. Great, now I’m bleeding from everywhere. I didn’t say anything, I just left to the girls bathroom again. I didn’t do much other than turn on the sink and stared into the mirror, watching my lip bleed.

I started spacing out, the sound of the water started to sound like static, and I just wanted to be anywhere else. I wasn’t sure how long I was standing there, because it took me a few seconds to hear Ash trying to talk to me.

“Ivy, are you okay?” I looked at her in the mirror, not turning around. I realized I may have looked a little creepy, but I wasn’t sure where I was, mentally.

“Here.” She grabbed a couple paper towels, wet them, and gestured for me to turn around, I complied. She dabbed my lip gently, not any different from a mother.

“If I’m being honest, no one would blame you if you took one or two jabs at Travis, he’s such a shithead.”

I didn’t say anything, nothing I had to add was any different from what everyone else probably thinks of him.

“It’s gonna scab a little, but I think you should be fine. Did you wanna go to the nurse?” I shook my head.

“I’m sorry, you must be having a hard time, and Travis isn’t making it any better. But, if you stick with us, you’ll always have a friend nearby.” She tried to smile at me, I felt so shitty because I wanted to give her some sort of confirmation, but I was incapable of doing so. I just started to cry a little.

“I just wanna go home.” I whispered before burying my face in my hands, not even giving a shit about my makeup anymore.

I really didn’t want to cry in front of her, I still barely know this girl.

“I know you don’t like touching, but I think you need a hug, is it okay if I hug you?” I didn’t want to be touched, I didn’t want to be hugged, but I wanted to feel something other than absolute fucking misery.

I nodded, and she made sure that her hands were covered by her sleeves before wrapping her arms around me.

I was so uncomfortable, I couldn’t bring myself to hug her back, but I’m sure she would have felt just as uncomfortable watching me cry and not doing anything.

We both ended up missing class and getting in trouble, but after she explained what happened to the principal, he let it slide on the promise that it wouldn’t happen again.

Even though this girl has been to my house, stood up for me, and even watched me during my most vulnerable moments, I still had a hard time trusting her.

But, I’m honestly hoping that she’ll be my friend.

Chapter Text

Halloween was now here; a day Ivy had silently been dreading. Though she wanted to be excited as it was her favorite holiday, this would be her first real excursion with everybody. She’d never even been part of a duo, much less a whole group.

She thought about feigning illness or asking for some divine intervention that would let her bail out of the event, but at the same time, she wanted to believe that they did genuinely want to hang out with her.

She tried to motivate herself by getting extra spooky, and you can’t go wrong with Ministry’s “Everyday is Halloween.”

Well any time, any place, anywhere that I go
All the people seem to stop and stare
They say ‘Why are you dressed like it’s Halloween?
You look so absurd, you look so obscene.

“Ah, I remember when this came out, all the weirdos in the club were like ‘This is my theme song!’” Miriam stood in the doorway, dancing along.

“You went to clubs?”

“Your father isn’t the only one that gets to be cool with his guitars and musical know-how.” She smirked

“Mary Kay Miriam, makeup maven by day, party girl by night. Who knew Greg picked a firecracker?”

“Hey, your moms still got it.” She threw out some moves that would impress even the 20 somethings. Ivy covered her mouth to suppress the smile that wanted to happen.

“So, you’re not dressing up?”

“Mom, I’m ready 365 days a year for Halloween. Besides, I couldn’t find a decent blonde wig to do Stevie Nicks.”

“I’m sure you can still achieve the same goal with black hair. You practically are her.”

“Thanks Ma, that’s actually a compliment.”

Ivy finished getting ready and was rather giddy after that conversation with her mother. As she exited, she grabbed her Ministry CD to continue the Halloween party through her headphones, even singing along loudly in the hallway.

Why can’t I live a life for me
Why should I take the abused that’s served
Why can’t they see they’re just like me
I’m not the one that’s so absurd

As she said ‘absurd’, she opened her eyes and promptly dropped her Walkman in fright. Sal was waiting for the elevator, and had seen her dance out from her apartment.

“Boo.” Sal joked.

“You scared me.” She muttered.

“’Tis the season. Here, let me get that.” He bent down and gathered her Walkman, putting the batteries in and checking to see if the CD was scratched.

“Boy, you really get into your music, don’t you?” He asked.

“It’s one of few things that bring me joy.”

“What are the others?”

“That’s for me to know, and for you to find out.” She said, flatly. Then shuffled uncomfortably.

“I’m sorry, that came off meaner than I intended.”

“That’s okay, it’s part of the mysterious air about you.”

“I’m not that mysterious.” She mumbled as they got into the elevator.

“I think so, and I think it’s interesting. You’re interesting, Ivy.” She felt a little unnerved that he was weirdly fixated on her supposed quirks.

“What makes me so interesting?”

“Your music, your look, and how you carry yourself.”

“What do you mean by that last part?”

“I like that despite appearances, you’re actually pretty nice, and polite. I won’t lie, some people think you’re stuck up and mean but they’ve never given you a chance to actually talk.”

“Is Larry part of those people?”  Sal exhaled.

“I know Larry’s a bit of a hothead, but he really is nice. I hope you two become friends.” At the risk of offending Sal, she kept her mean comment to herself, especially after he just called her nice and polite.

“This sure is a long elevator ride.” She said just as it hit the first floor.

Larry waited just outside the door with Todd, both wearing strange gear like ninjas. Ivy noticed, and then turned to Sal, who she realized was also wearing coordinating accessories but in different colors.

“Ivy, are you not familiar with TMNT?” Todd asked, noticing her bewildered look.

“Huh?”

“Dude, you don’t know Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?” Larry scoffed.

“.. Um.. Afraid not.” He just laughed, a little too sardonically for Ivy’s taste. Sal noticed as she gripped her backpack straps.

“Um.. You guys go on ahead, I forgot something.” She turned around and headed back inside.

“We can wait for you.” Said Sal.

“No, it might take me a minute, I don’t wanna make you guys late.” She then squeezed through the door.

“Tch, let’s go.” Mumbled Larry.

“You guys go, I’m gonna wait for Ivy.” Said Sal as he started to walk back through the door.

“Whatever dude.” Larry quipped as they started down the sidewalk.

Sal opted to wait by the elevator for her, but was surprised to see her standing still by the mailboxes, head down.

“Ivy? Everything okay?” She turned around, eyes watering. She quickly snapped her head back to hide the evidence, wiping off tears with her sleeve.

“Ye-yeah, everything’s fine.”

“You don’t have to lie Ivy, I’m your friend.” Ivy’s stomach turned at the word ‘friend’.

“I’m fine, really.”

“Then why are you crying?”

‘God damn it, why can’t he just leave me alone?’

“I just.. I don’t wanna go to school. I don’t like it here.” He slowly approached her, wanting to give her a hug but knowing he can’t.

“I’m sorry, I know things are difficult, but I promise they’ll get better. When I came here, I didn’t have any friends either, but then I met Larry and he introduced me to all these cool people.”

Her face twisted at the mention of Larry, she was tired of putting up with his shitty attitude.

“Look, I know this won’t fix everything, but we’re all gonna go out tonight, have fun, and I hope you’ll look forward to more fun times with us.” A strange chill went through her chest, she wanted so badly to trust the things he said.

“Come on, we just gotta get through one more shitty day of school, and then it’s candy and spooky times.” He held out his hand, hoping that maybe she’d at least cover her hand and attempt to reach. She looked at his palm, not entirely sure what he was suggesting at first, but then panicked.

‘Why does he want to hold my hand?’ But hesitantly, she extended her own hand for just a second before pulling back and shivering at the thought of voluntary skin contact. Sal was a little heartbroken, but he knew these things take a while.

“One day at a time, right?” He said, still hopeful. She covered her mouth as her lips did the thing again.

“We should go, we’re gonna be late.” She said, muffled through her fingers.

They made the trek to school, making small conversation as he explained the plot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. She didn’t quite understand but still tried to be engaged in the conversation.

They caught up to Larry, Todd and Ash, who also had been dressed as a Ninja Turtle. Ivy felt excruciatingly out of place, even though she was projecting Stevie Nicks, she just looked like herself.

“Ivy! I like your hat!” Ash came up to her, excited.

“Th-thanks. I like your guys’ group costume.” She didn’t really care for it that much, but she didn’t want to be rude.

“We should totally do all do something next year, like Power Rangers! That has 5 people!” Ash jumped up and down in glee. Ivy looked embarrassed.

“Let me guess, you don’t know what Power Rangers are either?” said a snide Larry. Ivy put her head down and trudged into the school, not saying a word to anybody.

Everyone else gave Larry a disappointed look, he ground his teeth.

“Come on Lar, we’re trying to have fun today.” Ash tried to calm him down without escalating the situation. He wanted to spit something back, but he looked over at Sal who had his head down, upset that Larry can’t be nice to Ivy for just a few minutes.

“Alright fine, but we’re showing her these god damn national treasures at some point, got it?!” He tried to recover from the shitty attitude, feeling worse after seeing how dejected Sal was. People have been asking him what his problem is, and even he had been agonizing over it. It’s not like she did anything purely to spite him, so what gives?

Maybe tonight would be different.

Chapter Text

               It was almost time for sunset, and the gang had all gathered in the local shopping plaza for their festivities.

“Yeah, we got to about two houses before they told us we were too old for trick or treating.” Said Maple, Chug following behind her, reaping the benefits of their failed mission.

“Candy will be like, 50% off tomorrow anyway.” Said Ash.

“Okay, so I just checked, they’re only letting groups of 2 or 3 at a time. Since there’s 8 of us, we should go in pairs.” Said Todd as he came back from the haunted house.

“Okay, so Larry and I will go first, who’s next? Chug and Maple?”

“Yeah, sounds good.”

“Are they gonna have candy?” Asked Chug, finishing the last candy bar, much to Maple’s dismay.

“Maybe, we’ll see. Sal, you’ll go with Ivy.” Ash winked as she said this to him. He looked over to Ivy who had been spacing off.

“Is that okay?”

“Huh?”

“We’re going in pairs, you’ll be with me, is that okay with you?”

“Uh, s-sure.” He looked back over at Ash giving him the thumbs up.

“I guess Todd and I will go last.” Said Neil.

“I’m sorry, did you guys wanna go first?”

“Oh no no no, that’s fine. At least we can make sure everyone gets out okay.” He smiled and wrapped an arm around Todd.

“Alright, it’s settled. We’ll get scared and then.. I don’t know, pizza? Anyone want pizza after?” Everyone agreed and nodded.

“Can never go wrong with pizza. Okay! Autobots, roll out!” She pointed and marched towards the line for the haunted house.

‘I swear to god, if this is another cartoon reference.’ Ivy thought, but she tried to shake the negativity as she promised not only her mother but herself that she would try to have fun.

They stood in line, watching as others go in. They heard screams and shouts so it must have been pretty decent.

That or people were hamming it up for their dates.

Sal leaned up to Ivy’s ear and whispered, “If you get scared, you can hold my hand.” Her face ran hot at the idea. She hates touching, and she’s definitely never held hands with a boy before. This holiday was proving to be more and more stressful for her, but there was a part of her girlish heart that fluttered just a little.

She pretended not to hear him out of pure embarrassment.

Suddenly, it was about to be their turn, not realizing the other 4 had gone already.

“We’re right behind you if anything goes wrong, okay?” Ivy jumped, she wasn’t prepared for Neil to lean in and talk to them. She was already on edge from everything surrounding today.

“Gotcha, thanks Neil.” Said Sal. Unbeknownst to Ivy, who Neil had not properly met until this evening, Sal had informed Neil that Ivy was a skittish person, but he had been trying to get her out of her shell, and knew Neil to be a gentle person and maybe more of a comfort than Larry.

Maybe a haunted house wasn’t the best idea, but Sal figured since Ivy liked scary movies and horror based things, maybe she’d enjoy this.

Ivy however wasn’t exactly thrilled. This was different from a horror movie, there’s a lot more interaction along with the possibility of being touched, but she was determined to try, especially since Sal put a lot of effort to try and make her feel comfortable.

They were ushered into the makeshift haunted house, and inside was a hospital theme. Stretchers, IV stands with blood pouches and broken screens decorated the area while a voice sounded over the intercom with garbled speech and bits of insane cackling.

“For a pop-up house in an old Savers store, this is pretty good.” She muttered.

“Right?” Sal agreed. It didn’t take long for the bloody doctors and nurses to come out and try to scare them. A couple got a few small yelps and jumps out of Ivy, Sal jumped at least once. He was more focused on her having a good time and making sure she felt safe than on the haunted house itself.

At one point, when a patient popped out of morgue drawer, she jumped and grabbed Sal’s arm. His heart thudded in his chest, and she immediately pulled away, shivering from the spontaneous contact.

“I-I-I-I-I’m sorry.” She said, shaking.

“It’s okay, you can hold onto me.” He said, trying not to stutter himself. She tried not to look at him, afraid that underneath the low lighting and fog, he could see how red her face was getting, not knowing that he was blushing madly under his mask.

“I-I’m fine.”

“THEN WHY ARE YOU IN A HOSPITAL?!” A gravely voice shouted as a chainsaw started up behind them.

Ivy screeched and bolted down the hallway, leaving Sal and her hat behind.

The chainsaw behemoth chased her down the foggy hallway until she came to a small clearing where she tripped over her own feet.

She tried to scramble but could only flip over to her back and watch as the perpetrator came towards her. They got very close, blade pointing to her stomach before the would-be weapon shut off.

“Happy haaalllooweeeeeennn.” The crazed looking chainsaw wielding doctor mocked her before laughing and disappearing back into the fog, where a worried Sal came rushing out with her hat in hand.

“Are you alright?” He kneeled next to her, trying not to touch her. Her gaze was still fixated towards the fog, she trembled with fear, mouth dry from breathing heavily.

“Ivy?” She then inhaled loudly and wheeze, making him jump from the noise.

“Are you okay? I’m sorry, I didn’t think it would be that scary.” He said quickly, racked with guilt.

“It’s.. okay.. it did.. it’s job.. I suppose.” She breathed out. She stood up, legs wobbly from panic.

“Okay, no haunted houses for you. Got it.” He tried to lighten the situation, feeling awful that he essentially put her through that.

“Well, I didn’t die. And it was.. exhilarating, I guess.” She still tried to catch her breath.

They exited, her in front. She got out a few steps before

“RAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!” A demonic face popped up in front of her, screaming in her face. She screamed in response before all the oxygen left her body, not yet recovered from the chainsaw doctor. She of course, got dizzy and passed out. The prankster pulled off his mask to reveal himself to be Larry, delighting in her reaction.

Sal heard the raucous laughter of Larry, Chug and several bystanders as they pointed and laughed at her unconscious body.

He did not find it funny. Ash and Maple were shocked and disappointed.

“Ivy! Can you hear me?” The laughter died down as others had realized how awkward the situation became. Desperate and scared, he shook her a few times before she stirred, his mask startling her. She sat up, and breathed heavily as she tried to process what just happened, looking at everybody incredulously, especially Larry who was still getting out a few chuckles.

She stood up, still dizzy, and exhaled.

“I’m going home.” And immediately stormed off, leaving them speechless.

“That was really mean, Larry.” Scolded Maple.

“Oh don’t give me that, it’s Halloween! If you’re gonna partake, expect to be scared! If she didn’t wanna be scared, she should have stayed her ass home.” Larry stomped and tossed the mask into a random direction.

“Enough, Larry.” Said Ash.

“What’s the big fucking deal?” Ash pointed to Sal who sat on the ground with his head in his hands, horrendously upset.

Todd and Neil finally showed up, giddy from the excitement until they saw the sour look on everyone’s faces.

“What’s going on?” Asked Neil.

“Yeah, where’s Ivy?” Todd asked, noticing her lack of presence.

“She went home.” Ash said, rather disdainfully while looking at Larry, who threw his hands up and left as well.

Everyone stood awkwardly, not saying a word.

Until Chug broke the silence.

“Does this mean we’re not getting pizza?”

Chapter Text

“I hope Ivy is having fun with her new friends.” Miriam said out loud, hoping her husband would bring some comfort to her troubled mind.

“I’m sure she’s having a blast, she seemed pretty excited to go.”

“How can you tell? She never smiles.”

“Don’t tell me you haven’t seen how she bounces a little when she walks sometimes. You remember when we took her to that place on St. Marks? She bopped around like a chicken after.” Greg mimicked her head bobbing and chuckled. Miriam smiled and tried to quell her mind.

“Besides, she would have called by now.” And just as he said that, the phone rang.

The two looked at each other, Miriam plastered with worry, Greg sighed and hoped that it wasn’t his daughter. Miriam went over to the phone and picked up.

“Hello?”

“You have a collect call from.. Mompleasepickmeupi’matFoodlion. Do you accept?”

-----

When Miriam pulled up to the aforementioned grocery store, she saw her daughter, visibly distressed and disheveled. She rushed to get into the car and refused to look in her mother’s direction as she settled in.

Miriam desperately wanted to ask what was wrong, but she chose not to, knowing that whatever happened back there probably upset her greatly.

The ride back home was completely silent, even the elevator back up to the 4th floor was awkwardly quiet.

When they came through the front door, Ivy rushed into her room, slamming the door.

Her mother gave her father a sad look.

“What happened?”

“She didn’t say, I’m not gonna press her.” They both sighed and tried to distract themselves.

Ivy laid threw herself on her bed, tossing her boots violently onto the floor and flopping back onto the bed, cursing everyone she ever knew.

She tugged and pulled on her hair, entertaining the idea of just ripping it all out, wriggling and writhing on her bed until she tired herself out and fell asleep.

When she awoke the next day, she came out much to the surprise of her mother.

“You’re going to school?”

“It is a school day, isn’t it?” She snapped back.

“Sorry, that came off grouchy.”

“Honey, if you wanna skip out on today-“

“No mother, I can’t keep missing out.” Her facial expression did not change, her tone was monotonous, and her movements were robotic. She left 20 minutes earlier than normal to avoid the boys on the way to school.

Staring in the face of condemnation
Laughter fills the sky instead of rain

Live my life alone in resignation
Arms outstretched for those who cannot see

 

She didn’t have much in the way of heavy music, aside from one of the later albums from Ministry.

She was angry. If she felt anything, it was the seething rage bubbling under the surface, and the song blasting through her headphones amplified her terrifying presence. She made eye contact with nobody, she talked to no one, she was only here because it was mandatory, but like always, if she could be anywhere else, she would.

No one had tried to talk to her, knowing fully well that she was angry.

“I’m surprised she even came to school today.” Said Ash at the lunch table.

“I’m surprised she hasn’t murdered anybody.” Maple said, sideways glancing at Larry for a second.

“Guys, maybe it’s best we don’t talk about her.” Sal muttered, pushing around the unidentifiable food on his tray. Everyone fell into an uncomfortable silence watching Sal be dismayed over the previous night’s incident.

Meanwhile in the hallway, Ivy shoved her lunchbag into her locker, having lost her appetite at the sight of Sal and his friends entering the lunchroom, choosing instead to hide in the library like always.

However, the torment waiting for her would never cease as she physically bumped into none other than Travis.

“Ew, get your filthy sinner germs off me.” He wiped himself off. Unamused, she attempted to walk past  but couldn’t resist the urge to shoulder check him.

“Excuse me, bitch?” He grabbed her by the collar, forcing her to face him.

“You got something to say, skank?” He hissed, but he didn’t scare her.

“I hope you choke.”

“Not if you go first.” Before she could blink, Travis wrapped his hands around her neck and started squeezing. Panic set in and Ivy tried to pry his hands away, but he was stronger than he looked, and the lack of oxygen to her lungs started sapping her strength. Her only move was to kick him between his legs, he quickly let go and she headbutt him in quick succession before collapsing to the ground gasping for air.

“Holy shit!” A voice said with the sound of sneakers running up towards the two.

She felt a presence over her, saw blue hair and immediately started backing up.

“Hey, you alright?” She focused her sight to see that it wasn’t Sal, but a different blue haired boy with an undercut.

“Yeah, but he’s not.” She said, motioning to Travis.

“Fuck that kid, I saw him choke you, I’ll get a teacher.”

“Don’t bother, I think he learned his lesson.” She stood up, brushing herself off.

“Are you sure?” The bell sounded, Travis tried to stand on his wobbly legs.

“This isn’t over, bitch.” He warned as he dipped into the oncoming crowd of students.

“I’m serious man, I’ll go tell someone and maybe we’ll finally get that asshole out of here.”

“Don’t worry about it. Thanks though.” Before anything more could be said, Ivy sped off to her locker, trying to conceal her neck or any evidence of a scuffle. Oddly enough, she wasn’t too upset about the Travis ordeal.

‘At least he was awful to my face.’

-------

The final bell sounded, and Ivy dashed off, still trying to avoid having any sort of interaction with Sal or his friends. Unfortunately, it would be impossible as they were already standing outside the school, but she would pretend to not see them as she strode past them. Sal couldn’t help but look at her and noticed that as her hair blew back from her swift movements, he could see the red marks on her neck that were slowly turning to bruises.

He wanted to say something but Larry interrupted his train of thought.

“Dude, just let it go, she doesn’t wanna be friends with anybody.” Sal put his head down in shame, feeling like he really let her down. Ash put a hand on his back to try and comfort him.

“It’ll be okay Sal, maybe she just needs time to cool off. She’ll come around.” Sal sighed.

“Yeah, I hope so.”

Meanwhile, Ivy had made it home and rushed upstairs to find that her parents were gone, but she wasn’t entirely upset. She wanted to be alone.

She sat in her room and stewed in her bad feelings, Nine Inch Nail’s Pretty Hate Machine album blasting away.

She slam danced around her room, black hair flowing wildly and shouting along to Trent Reznor’s pained voice.

Right when it got to the soft track Something I Can Never Have, she laid down on her bed after having worked out all her aggression through the sweat and screams.

As she caught her breath, she thought about the events that transpired on Halloween, and the ones before that, and a cloud of despair fell over her. Sal, Ash and Maple were really nice to her, Todd and Neil seemed nice, and even Chug wasn’t so bad.

Most of her problems came from Larry, even after he ‘apologized’ and his so-called truce, he was still just horrible to her.

And it didn’t make sense, Sal talked up a storm about Larry like he was the best guy in the world, but all she saw was an asshole.

Still, even then, Sal seemed like he genuinely wanted to be her friend.

‘And he was so nice and sweet during the whole bit at the haunted house, offering to hold my hand and..’ When she thought about when she grabbed his arm, she realized that was the closest she’d ever gotten with a boy. Her heart flipped a little, remembering how he had offered his hand earlier that day when she cried before school. She started to worry about the strange stirring in her stomach and chest, fearing that she was coming down with an illness.

But it only intensified when she thought of Sal, and how kind and wonderful he had been to her since she got here.

‘But then he listened to my music, and said he liked it!’

She swallowed, not entirely sure of the feelings taking place in her mind. Her hands started shaking and were becoming clammy.

She sat up and shook her head, choosing to take a shower and maybe she wouldn’t feel this way.

‘I’m gonna apologize to them, and maybe that Larry dude was right, it was Halloween after all.’

-----

The morning came and once again, Ivy was late for school, missing the opportunity to see Sal in the morning to talk to him on the way. No matter, she could see him during lunch or even after school.

Rushing into the building and to her locker, she scrambled to prepare for class, trying to rehearse her apology in her head.

But what would a school day be for Ivy without Travis coming in to fuck it all up? He shoved her face against the door and grabbed a fistful of her hair, pulling her back and dragging her down the hallway.

‘How come no one ever sees him do this shit?!’ She thought out loud, she tried to scream but Travis covered her mouth.

“Don’t think I forgot about yesterday, you fucking bitch.” She tried to wriggle out of his grasp but was unsuccessful.

He pulled her towards a door, he opened it to reveal it to be a janitors closet, and shoved her in there.

He knew the doorknob to this one in particular was on it’s last leg and prone to locking up even with a key. He slammed the door and tested the handle to make sure it wouldn’t open.

“What the fuck?! Let me out!” She started banging her hands on the door.

“Eat shit and die, skank.” He muttered as he walked away.

Sheer terror shot down to Ivy’s core as familiar suffering took place, she certainly did not like small dark spaces, especially ones where she couldn’t get out of. She tried to open the door but the handle wouldn’t budge, so she started banging on the door again.

“HEY!” *BANG BANG BANG*

“SOMEONE!!” *BANG BANG*

“PLEASE LET ME OUT!!” She pounded mercilessly on the door, hoping for anyone to hear and rescue her. But in the short minute she spent in the tiny closet, she started to lose control of her mind and began hyperventilating and crying.

“SOMEONE HELP ME, PLEASE!” She shouted, but no one would come. She slammed her fists on the door one more time before sinking to the ground and losing her nerve, eventually getting dizzy and feeling the lack of air taking her back to that familiar place. 

No matter how much she screamed or cried..

No one was coming.

 

Chapter Text

It’s dark

I’ve often dreamt of nothing

But this is different

I’m in a dark room

I hate dark rooms, but I’d rather be in here

Away from all of them

They’ve done nothing but cause me trouble

What’s that?

A red light

I’m gonna walk towards it

It’s just a door with an exit sign

I’m afraid to go through it

I want to, but as soon as I touched the crash bar, I heard someone calling for me

They said my name

But I don’t want anything to do with them

I’m going through that door

------

“I swear that meatloaf was staring at me.” Said Ash as the gang left the cafeteria. They chattered on about the day, continuing as normal until Todd pointed out the crowd gathering around the janitors closet.

“Don’t we have a locksmith for this?” asked a teacher.

“You kidding? On this budget?” The principal tried to contain his laughter.

The janitor and several male teachers tried their best to pry open the door. Then a large football player stepped up and yanked on the door, breaking the handle as well as the frame. Suddenly the students and teachers clamored at whatever was behind the door. No one could see over the small crowd.

“Alright dear, let’s go call your parents.” The principal leaned down and pulled up a rather traumatized Ivy, watery mascara staining her face, color having left her skin and hair a tangled mess. Her eyes were wide open, unblinking.

As he lead her to the office, many people whispered and giggled. Ash noted that she really must have been out of it because she didn’t even flinch when he put his on her shoulder to guide her. Her movements were robotic, her face remained unchanged from the distraught laced panic filling her.

Sal stood there silently, unsure of what to do or say. Even though he wasn’t the one to lock in her in the closet, he felt increasingly guilty.

Meanwhile, as the staff waited for Ivy’s parents to arrive, they kept asking what happened, who did this to her? But she wouldn’t answer.

“Miss Thorn, we really want to help you but you half to meet us halfway. Who locked you in there?” A female guidance counselor pleaded, but Ivy just stared at her shoes, barely remembering to blink.

She couldn’t hear anything but her own thoughts, or lack thereof. All she knew was that her feet touched the ground.

The staff looked at each other in united exasperation and confusion.

It didn’t help much when her parents did arrive and recognized the look on her face. They knew perfectly well that no one was gonna get any answers from her, much less a vowel. All they could do is guide her to the car and take her home. She wouldn’t say or move on her own, but if they had a hand on her back and lead her, she’d walk. Almost like a puppet.

They got home, they took her to her room. Her dad removed her heavy boots and laid her on the bed. Her mom chose a random Disney movie for her and they left the room.

Ivy couldn’t hear the movie, or the tired sigh her parents had outside her door.

The only thing she could her was a gravelly voice repeating one sentence over and over in her head.

“You’re a burden.”

She believed it.

The dream she had while unconscious began to seep back into her mind. All she could see was the red exit sign flashing before her.

It called her name, it promised her freedom, it was waiting right there. All she had to do was go through it.

She looked over at the clock. 2:07 AM.

The passage of time that took place as she laid motionless in bed didn’t phase her.

All she knew was that it was time to go.

I’m so tired of this.

I’m so tired of everything.

People always disappoint me, even when I try to please them.

Serves me right.

The static is calling me.

3:15 AM.

Underneath the crescent moon, on the roof of the 5 story Addison Apartments, there stood an exhausted Ivy. She shivered and trembled as the November air chilled her to the bone, but it wouldn’t matter. This would be the last moon she’d ever set her eyes on.

It smiled upon her, almost giving her a sense of comfort, that a painless freedom was just over the edge, quite literally.

She took her time to dress up for the occasion. In a sleeveless black tea party dress, a sheer cape, her hair and makeup done, you’d think she was on her way to a special event.

Well, to her, this was the special event. Jumping to the other side.

Her chest was heavy with grief over her existence. As she stood near the edge overlooking the concrete walkway in front of the building, she hoped that the fall would be enough to kill her, or at the very least by the time they found her in the morning, it would be too late.

It would be a gruesome sight, but it was the only way.

She wanted to traumatize others the way they have to her all her life.

One final fuck you.

Not even the voice of Rozz Williams could coax her out if it, in fact, it egged her on even more.

Irises lay in spring mud,
Where lovers drown each other's sorrows,
Where lovers dream about tomorrows.
As for me I drown another kind as
Sadness runs course through my veins.
Posie wreaths they crown me.
My heart, My heart
I should just fade away, fade away
Like a flower

When the song ended, she pulled off her headphones and set her prized Walkman next to her boots. She admired the aesthetic for a moment, musing at the idea of a band using the crime scene photo as an album cover. A silly and vain thought, but she was allowed to have it, she would be gone after all.

Stepping onto the edge, her cape and skirt fluttered in the cold breeze. The dizzying height hypnotizing her, pulling her towards the ground.

She took a deep breath and relished in the oncoming paradise.

 

To be continued.

Chapter Text

It’s so dark in here

I don’t feel alone in here

There’s a presence

‘Go to the roof’

Who’s there?

…..

No answer.

Why do they want me to go to the roof?

Also, how?

I can’t see anything.

Wait, I see something.

It’s just a sign

A literal sign, a glowing red exit sign.

Wait.. Ivy?

Where are you going?

Ivy! Hey! Come back!!

Don’t go through that door!

IVY!!

-------

Sal woke up in a cold sweat. Upon catching his breath, he glanced over at his clock.

3:17 AM.

The voice telling him to go to the roof chilled him. Though he didn’t know who told that to him, for some reason, he wasn’t taking any chances. Pulling on his mask, he rushed out the door and ran up the stairs to the roof. He burst through the door, his stomach bottomed out at the sight of Ivy standing on the edge of the rooftop, taking off her cape.

“Ivy, stop!” But she didn’t hear him. He sprinted to her

Ivy took her last breath, and began to step off, beginning her journey into the afterlife.

But as her foot crossed the edge, Sal wrapped his arms around her and pulled her back onto the roof. She freaked out at the initial contact and began flailing her arms, elbowing her unwanted rescuer was in the face.

They let go and dropped her, but when she scrambled back towards the edge, he tackled her, pinning her to the ground.

“Let me go!”

“Ivy, stop!” She couldn’t recognize the voice, she didn’t want to hear or see them.

“Fuck off! Don’t touch me!”

“Please, you can’t do this!”

“Just let me fucking die in peace!” She scratched and pulled at the floor trying to escape, but he had a death grip. She reached an arm out, and could almost grab the edge.

But alas, she couldn’t touch it.

Angry tears formed and streamed furiously from her eyes as she grunted and growled, trying to get her savior to relent, but they wouldn’t budge.

After a few minutes of struggling, Ivy gave up and sobbed hysterically.

“Why.. Why does everyone want to torture me?”

“Ivy, there are people that care about you, you can’t do this to them.”

“Bullshit! All of it is fucking bullshit! Every single part of it!”

“It’s not bullshit, please believe me!”

“Fuck you! Fuck you and everyone on this planet! Let me go!” She struggled against them again but they doubled down on their weight.

“You really want to do this to your parents?”

“Fuck you! They’re better off without me, I’m a fucking burden.”

“Stop it, they love you. You’re not a burden!”

“What do you know anyway?!”

“A lot, and I'd show you if you'd just listen!” Ivy turned and saw a familiar head of blue hair, and all strength was sapped from her instantly.

“S-.. Sal..?”

“Ivy please, don't jump, I'm begging you.” Ivy saw his blue eyes pleading through his mask. The grief in her chest had come back tenfold.

“But.. why?”

“I know life's been rough on you but please, stay. I promise it’ll get better, but you have to stay to see that.” He still clung onto her, afraid of what'll happen if he let go. Her eyes burned as they were raw from the continuous crying.

“I'll let you go, but only if you promise to come back inside. Please.” Her lip trembled as she relented and sank onto the floor.

“I don’t wanna be here anymore..” She sobbed into the harsh roof floor. When Sal felt that she wasn’t going to fight him anymore, he sat up and pulled her into a hug, locking his arms around her to make sure she couldn’t try to escape if she still planned to dupe him.

Her chest heaved and ached from the ensuing grief, she wanted to die so badly but someone rescued her from it. She wanted to believe that someone actually cared enough to stop her from making a mistake, but her mind wouldn’t allow her to, telling her that they all liked to torment her.

But rather than argue with him, she just cried, not even acknowledging the fact that Sal was touching her. When she quieted down, Sal tried to talk to her.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t let you jump. You have a full life ahead of you.”

“And what kind of life awaits me? Endless suffering and pain inflicted upon me for just existing?” She snapped.

“You’re wrong. I know things will be different for you here. You have friends that like you, your parents love and care about you so much. You’re still so young, and everyone would miss you if you left. Please, if not for me or your friends, do it for your parents. I can see how much they love you, and they just want the best for you.”

“How do you know?”

“She told me herself. She just wants you to be happy.”

“I can’t be happy.”

“Why not?”

“Because..”

“That’s not a good reason and you know it.”

“People won’t let me.”

“I know people are shitty, believe me on this. But.. I mean, if I have to punch every person that’s ever been shitty to you, I will. Hell, I’ll punch Larry.” Ivy let out a small ‘tch’, Sal mistaking it for a laugh.

“Got a laugh out of you.”

“It wasn’t a laugh, I don’t think.”

“Well if you don’t come inside, I’m gonna tickle you and make you laugh.” Ivy swallowed.

“… Please don’t, I think I have to go to the bathroom.”

“Well then?”

“.. Okay.” Sal let go and stood up, walked around her to offer her a hand. She looked at her gloved hand before taking his and standing up, her heart pounding out of her chest at the covered contact. He looked at her makeup stained face and attempted to wipe away her tears, but when his thumb just barely touched her cheek, she pulled back.

“Er.. Sorry. I can do that.” She used her gloves to wipe her face. Sal looked at the ground, feeling a little bad.

“I’m sorry.” He uttered.

“For what?”

“Touching you. I.. forgot.”

“It’s.. fine.”

“No, it isn’t. I never want to make you uncomfortable, and yet that’s all I seem to do.”

“Sal..”

“I’m sorry. I really want to be your friend.” She was taken aback.

“Why?"

“I mean, you’re pretty cool, you dress like a vampire and your music is pretty rad. And you’re funny.”

“I’m not that funny.” She looked off to the side,

“I think you are.” She wanted to smile but clenched her teeth and covered her mouth.

“You okay?” She nodded.

“Let’s go inside.” He motioned for her to come with him, and she did. They walked down the stairs in silence.

When they got to her floor, they heard a woman’s voice.

“I told you we should have checked in on her, where could she have gone?” Ivy turned the corner to see her mother fretting. Miriam turned and froze when she saw Ivy in the stairwell. They stood in silence for a second.

“Ivy?” Her mother was about to cry.

“Mommy?” Miriam rushed over to hug her daughter.

“Honey, I was so worried about you.” Ivy felt tears welling up as she squeezed her mother.

“I’m sorry mommy.” She cried into her mom’s shoulder. Sal stood awkwardly in the stairwell, but he let out a sigh of relief. Miriam opened her eyes to see him standing there. She mouthed ‘thank you’ to him before ushering Ivy back into their home.

Sal trudged back to his apartment, completely exhausted, but thankful that he got there in time.

And also that it was Friday, because there was no way in hell he was getting up for school in less than an hour.

--------

Sal woke up in the afternoon all groggy and tired. Though he slept a long time, the adrenaline rush from last night’s rescue mission took a lot more out of him than he realized, but he didn’t regret it.

If it meant that he could see Ivy again, it was worth it.

He sat up and picked up the walkie talkie that Larry had given him.

“Come in, Larry Face.”

“Weeeeelllll, sleeping beauty has arisen.”

“Tell that prince I didn’t consent to that kiss. Anyway, what’s up?”

“Ah my mom is making me do chores right now.”

“Lame sauce.”

“Tell me about it, you wanna hang out after though?”

“For sure.”

“Sweet, I should be done around in a couple hours.”

“Roger that.” He got up and prepared for the day. After putting in his eye and washing up, he headed down to check the mail, and bumped into his favorite goth.

“Oh, Sal. Good morning.”

“Indeed it is.” He smiled underneath his mask, he could see her blushing, clutching the paper bag in her hands.

“Um, I just.. wanted to say.. Thank you.”

“You don’t need to thank me, just keep living your life.”

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”

“Are you quoting books again?”

“Oscar Wilde.”

“See, you have to be around to give me inspiring literary quotes.”

“And to give you these.” She presented the bag to him.

“What’s this?”

“I know it’s not much but, it’s candy. To also thank you for buying me candy a while back. I um, also threw a can of coke in there.” Sal was elated to receive such a gift.

“Hey um.. do you.. want to..” She started her sentence but trailed off.

“Hmm?”

“Mm.. nevermind.” Her hands clenched up, letting her anxiety get the best of her.

“No, what is it?”

“I was.. going to see if you wanted to.. hang out later. Maybe?” She looked at the ground, ready to be rejected.

“I would love to!” He said, rather excited. Her heart jumped.

“But.. I already made plans with Larry.”

“Oh, that’s oka-“

“But, um, I would like to hang out after, or maybe tomorrow? We can do tomorrow, that way I can give you all my time.”

“Oh, you don’t have t-“

“I know I don’t have to, but I want to. I really do want to hang out with you, and it’s probably best for right now that it just be you and me.”

“I-if you’re okay with that.”

“More than okay.” Her shoulders hunched up, she wasn’t sure how to proceed, this was the first time she’d ever asked anyone to hang out. The last couple times were thrust upon her.

“Well then, I’ll see you tomorrow, Sally Face.” She walked into the elevator.

“I got some extra candy in case Larry wanted some as well.” She said before disappearing through the metal doors. Sal wanted to ask about it, but wouldn’t be given the chance.

Chapter Text

Sal POV

I was so happy to see Ivy up and around, I spent all night being so afraid for her. I wanted to check in on her, but I knew her parents had that covered. Seeing her in the lobby was good enough.

I took the bag of candy upstairs and snacked on a few. She picked out sour stuff but there were also gummies and some chocolate. I was surprised that she told me some were for Larry, especially since neither are fans of eachother.

I wish he could just simmer down and be nice to her, I feel like they could be great friends, or at the very least just try to get along for everyone else’s sake.

But I can’t make either of them be friends with someone they don’t like.

Still, it was nice of her to include him in the candy jackpot.

He finally called me down when he was done with his chores. Good thing because I was getting ready to eat all this candy without him.

“You still have Halloween candy?”

“Actually, Ivy gave them to me.” I saw his face sour.

“Cool.” Sigh.

“You can have some, if you want. She got some for you too.” He blinked at me for a second.

“She doesn’t even know what I like.”

“To be fair, I don’t either.

“Dude, sour is the best.”

“Well then good news, there’s like a fuckton of sour shit in here. You know I don’t really care for that stuff.” He squinted at me before diving into the bag. I knew he couldn’t resist.

“Fuckin’ a. Warheads? What a masochist.” He popped one in his mouth, I laughed watching his face twist up in agony.

“Shit!” He giggled as his eyes watered.

“Fuck, that was intense.”

“I don’t know how you guys can do that, I’m salivating just thinking about it.”

“Ha, Sal is SALivating.” I shook my head, what a dork. I found myself once again wishing Ivy could be here having fun with us.

“Anyway, what’s up? You slept in pretty late today.” I couldn’t exactly tell him I had to prevent a 15 year old girl from jumping off the roof.

“Pulled an all nighter for homework.”

“On a Friday? Dude, you coulda waited until Sunday like everyone else does.”

“Yeah but then I would have been up all night then and be tired for school.”

“Fair. So what’s on the agenda today?

“I don’t know, what’s Todd up to?”

“Ah he’s got some science project.”

“Oh, Todd can do homework but not me?”

“Yeah ‘cause it’s Todd. That’s like, his lifeblood.”

“Good point. Ash?”

“You know she’s probably watching her little brother.”

“You’re right. Ivy?”

“Dude.”

“What?” He sighed and looked away from me.

“Look, I’ll be honest, I don’t think me and her are gonna get along. Not for nothing, I tolerate her for you but I just don’t see us being friends.”

“Why? Can you please give me a reason?”

“I just.. I don’t know man. I’ve tried but.. It just isn’t happening.” I just felt so defeated. I almost wanted to cry, though I’m not even really sure why. It shouldn’t be THAT big of a deal, some people just can’t get along, but.. I really wanted them to. Larry means a lot to me and I like Ivy, I don’t know why but I feel like they probably have a lot in common.

I think I did cry a little bit, because Larry freaked out.

“Whoa, what’s wrong?”

“I just.. wish you guys could be friends.” I felt like this was a trivial thing to get all sappy over but it was starting to hurt my feelings.

“Okay okay, you got me with the puppy dog eyes. I’ll try to be nicer to her.” He exhaled and scratched his head. I don’t wanna manipulate his feelings on the matter, but I really did feel upset about the whole thing.

“Really?”

“Yeah yeah, just don’t expect us to be best friends. The candy was a good start though.” It looked like it pained him to say it, but I’m glad he’s still willing to try. I hope Ivy can forgive him.

“Alright, no more sadness. Dare me to eat 3 of these fuckers at once?”

“You’re such an idiot. Do 6.”

---------

Sunday came, and although her face didn’t show it, Ivy was ecstatic about having Sal over, even more than when Ash and Maple came over for the sleep over.

Not that they weren’t fun, but it had yet to be just her and Sal hanging out, and it would be nice for it to not be a crisis. She wanted to erase that terrible image of her from his mind.

“That Sal boy is coming over? So you do like boys?”

“Mom.”

“Honey, it’s okay to like boys, you’re at an age.”

“What if I liked girls?”

“Then I guess I’d be welcoming a daughter in law in the future?”

“At least you’re supportive.”

“Ivy, dear, be honest, do you like girls?”

“… I barely like people.”

“So whoever you bring home has to be a real winner, huh?”

“That’s the plan, Stan.”

“My name is Miriam.”

“I thought it was Mom.”

“You know, if you weren’t my daughter, I’d poke you in the eye.”

“So you’re okay with poking strangers in the eye?”

“I don’t have to go home with them.”

“Everybody watch out, there’s a serial eye stabber on the loose. Her name is Miriam and she likes to steal mens chinos.”

“DO NOT TELL YOUR FATHER!!”

---

Before long, it was the afternoon and Ivy skittered around her room to make sure everything was perfect, though she wasn't sure why she was scampering so hard to impress Sal. It's not like he hasn't seen her room before.

Then she panicked, what would they do? Watch a movie? She didn't have much in the way of video games, the movers lost a couple of their boxes and other items and of course, most of it was her stuff.

He'd probably want to talk, but what would they talk about?

In the midst of her episode, Sal had already walked in as Miriam let him in the door.

“Hey Ivy!” She jumped and shouted, nearly falling over.

“You really are jumpy, huh?” Her cheeks flushed red.

“How are you so quiet?!” She growled in a harsh whisper while trying to calm her nerves.

“Oh, my bad. Um, hold on.” He went out the door and closed it, leaving her in confusion. Then he knocked.

“C-come in?!” She couldn’t find the proper words to further prove her perplexity.

“Hi Ivy, how are you?”

“You continue to mystify me, Mr. Fisher.” She mumbled.

“I gotta be just a little interesting, otherwise you’ll get bored of me.”

“Don’t be silly.” Ivy shook her head, thinking there was no way she’d ever get bored of him.

“So.. What do you wanna do?” He asked, looking over her room.

“Um.. I mean, we can watch a movie or.. something. I’m sorry, I’m not much of an entertainer.”

“It’s okay, it doesn’t take much to entertain me.”

“Okay um.. well, do you like.. horror movies?”

“Yeah for the most part, what did you have in mind?”

“I did just get a new movie, well, new to me. It’s ‘An American Werewolf in London’.”

“Oh neat, what’s it about?”

“I guess these two guys go backpacking and one of them turns into a werewolf?”

“I’m down!” She pulled out the VHS and popped it in the VCR.

“Um, did you want.. popcorn or anything? Do you want the lights off?”

“Whatever you want, popcorn would be cool though.” Her mouth twitched at his eagerness.

“Er, okay. I’ll be right back.” She was relieved to be able to grab a few more minutes to settle her nerves. It wasn’t like he invited himself over, this was her idea, but she half expected him to not show up.

Meanwhile, Sal studied her room again, just trying to pass the time. He got curious of all the different posters she had. He had seen these before but now that he had a chance to look, he wanted to know more about them. He couldn’t tell which were bands or movies, all had a general dark theme to them.

Before too long, she arrived back with a bowl of popcorn and 2 cans of coke.

“Oh, you didn’t have to get me a soda.”

“Well, I was grabbing one and figured you’d probably want one.”

“Did you get coke just for me?”

“Nonsense. This is my favorite soda.” She muttered.

“Oh sweet, mine too.”

“Small world.” She set the bowl down and went to turn off the lights.

“Hey what’s uh.. um..” He looked around and tried to think of something to talk about, wanting conversation.

“Rosemary’s Baby, is that a band or..”

“Oh, it’s a movie.”

“What’s it about?”

“Do you want me to tell you or do you wanna watch it? I have that too.”

“I mean, uh..”

“Sorry, that may have been mean.”

“You don’t have to apologize. I know you said something about asking questions.”

“It’s not that I don’t like being asked questions, I just don’t like when someone keeps asking what’s going on and it could have been solved if they were actually watching the movie. My dad is guilty of this.”

“I see.”

“Rosemary’s Baby is about this young couple that move into an apartment building, they’re trying to have a baby but things get a little Satanic.”

“That sounds neat.”

“It’s actually one of my favorites.”

“I’d like to watch it with you sometime.” Ivy hunched up, remembering that there were some sex scenes that made her slightly uncomfortable.

“Uhm.. maybe. Not tonight, but.. eventually.” She quickly shut off the light to hide her embarrassment.

She made sure to sit a few feet away from him on the floor, it was a little strange to not be centered in front of her TV but if Sal was willing to be a decent movie partner, she didn’t mind.

It was difficult for her to concentrate on the movie, every time she glanced over at Sal, her stomach started doing flips and made her feel uneasy. The room started to feel hot, she started sweating.

“Um, are you warm at all?”

“Not really, why are you?”

“I’m just gonna turn down the heat.” She got up to check the thermostat in her room, but the heat wasn’t even on. She said nothing, hoping he didn’t notice.

Once the gore started happening in the movie, it was easier to distract herself from the strange feelings gathering inside her.

“Whoa, he got tore up.” Sal exclaimed before he was able to catch himself.

“Crap, I’m sorry.”

“Oh no, you’re right, he is indeed shredded.” Trying not to take her eyes off the screen.

The movie progressed and during one scene, Sal had giggled quite a bit over the dialogue. Ivy wanted to laugh, occasionally letting out a small scoff. Sal would try and sneak a glance to see if she was smiling, but it was unnerving to see her react and not at the same time.

“That makeup is amazing, he’s so disgusting looking.” She said in an awe.

“Yeah, it’s like he was actually thrashed by a werewolf.”

“I’ve always wanted to learn how to do that.”

“Thrash people?”

“Yes.”

“I think you could do it.”

“If my hands don’t, I suppose my facial expressions will.” Sal chuckled.

But then came a scene where the inevitable in most horror movies happened, the hook up. Both Ivy and Sal gulped and felt the awkwardness set in, she tried to grab a handful of popcorn but apparently, he had the same idea. His fingertips grazed the top of her hand, she pulled away and tried to be subtle about the incoming harsh rubbing to try and alleviate her touch phobia.

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine.” Her heart thudded in her chest, but then.

“Holy crap, he looks like Lon Chaney with a serious case of moldy prune face!” She barked. Sal started guffawing loudly, startling her. Sal fell back and held his stomach as he laughed, Ivy covered her mouth.

“Moldy prune face! Oh my god, Ivy, you’re so funny!” He sat up as he struggled to catch his breath. Then the transformation scene happened, and Ivy sat up to fully take it in. She shifted when the main character stripped naked as he screamed in agony, but once the changes started taking place, it was the last thing on her mind.

“Whoa.” She uttered. As they went through the pain transformation, limbs extending, hair everywhere, Ivy tried another quip.

“Is this what puberty is like for boys?” Sal tried to stifle himself.

“I mean, I’m still waiting for that bear rug to show up on my chest.”

“Ew.” The tone in her voice sounded amused, he hoped to see even a slight curl in her lips, but nothing.

Before they realized, the movie was over.

“Oh man, that was intense. Thanks for that, I enjoyed it.” Sal said as he stood up.

“Did you wanna do anything else, or watch another movie?” She asked, weirdly fearing of him leaving soon.

“To be honest, I don’t know if I wanna do another movie just yet.”

“Oh, alright.” She looked down, fearing that she seemed desperate, but Sal sensed her unease and tried to remedy the situation.”

“B-b-b-but I still wanna hang out!”

“Erm, only if you’re okay with that. I uh.. didn’t have anything else to do today.” She rubbed the back of her head.

“Okay! Um, do you wanna go for a walk?”

“S-Sure!” She cursed herself internally for being a spaz.

“Great!” They put their shoes and outerwear on and headed for the front door.

“Mom, we’re going for a walk.” Miriam turned from the kitchen and saw the bounce in her daughter’s step.

“Oh! Okay, well have fun! Be careful!” Once the two were out the door, Miriam couldn’t conceal her squeals of excitement.

They walked and talked for a while, Ivy going on about the kinds of horror movies she’s seen, how she can’t stand certain plot devices or excessive screaming for the sake of screams, but also passionate about effects and makeup. She gesticulated quite a bit, and though she didn’t smile or laugh during the entire conversation, Sal appreciated how excited and dedicated she was to her interest and delighted in seeing her comfortable enough to conversate at length about it.

“Oh man, it’s almost nighttime.” Sal noted.

“Ah crap, I didn’t even realize.”

“It’s okay, I enjoyed talking with you.”

“Are you sure? I did most of the talking..”

“I’m just glad to hear you talk about something you like, you beat your record from last time.”

“My record?”

“Yeah, when I came over that one time and you talked about the music you like.”

“Oh, yeah, I guess I was a bit of a chatterbox today.”

“I like talking to you.” She covered her mouth.

“What’s wrong?”

“Oh, nothing.” They approached the apartments and headed into the elevator.

“Ivy, if you don’t mind, I’d like to walk with you to school tomorrow.”

“Wasn’t that the plan?”

“I hoped, but I didn’t wanna assume.”

“Don’t worry, you’ll see me bright and early.”

“I’m glad.” Her hands trembled in her pockets.

They got off on their floor, and Sal walked her to the door.

“You don’t have to do that.”

“Yeah well, I guess it’s the gentlemanly thing to do.”

“If you insist. Welp, Casa Thorn.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow, then?”

“Unless the universal deities decide to rain hellfire on this building, yes.”

“Well dang, whoever’s responsible for that offering better get to it.”

“Goodnight, Sal.”

“Goodnight, Ivy.” He lingered for a second making sure she went inside before heading back into his own place.

Once Ivy shut the door, Miriam made a beeline for her.

“So? How’d it go?”

“I mean, it was a walk.”

“Did you guys go anywhere? What did you talk about? You gotta tell me.”

“Geez Miriam, we just talked about horror movies.”

“So he shares your hobbies?”

“Is this an interrogation?”

“It can be.” She smirked.

“Then I’m waiting for my lawyer.”

“Awwwwwww you’re no fun.”

“That’s my job.”

“He didn’t wanna stay for dinner?”

“Nah, we’re both pretty tired.”

“Oh right, you have school tomorrow.”

“Get it together, Miriam.”

“It’s Mom!”

“Make up your mind, woman!” She jested as she shut herself off in her room. After her bedtime rituals, she laid in bed, strangely enthusiastic about going to school tomorrow, and getting to walk with Sal.

At that realization, her eyes shot open. Her stomach was getting butterflies, and the sweating earlier? What was that?

‘Nothing, it’s absolutely nothing. I think I’m just getting sick. It’s the right season for it. I don’t think I wore a scarf earlier. That’s all.’

She shoved a pillow over her face to stifle any silly girlish thoughts.

He’s just a friend.

Right?

Chapter Text

Flashback to about 8 hours before Ivy tries to jump off the roof*
              

The elevator doors to the basement, and a rather disheveled Miriam Thorn came out to do laundry. She tried to distract herself as best as she could, but the image of her frazzled daughter refused to leave her mind.

Lazily dropping articles of clothing into the washer, she felt her eyes sting with oncoming tears. She gave up and braced herself on the appliance to try and stop herself from sobbing.

“Is that washer acting up again? Don’t worry, I can fix it.” She looked up to see a tan skinned woman with long brown hair and a blue jumpsuit coming out from near the vending machine.

“Oh honey, you don’t have to cry. I’ll get it working.” Miriam sniffled and wiped her face.

“Oh no, it’s not the washer. I’m sure it’s working just fine.” She failed terribly at hiding her upset feelings, but there was no hiding it.

“You’re Mrs. Thorn right? From 404?”

“Yeah.. that’s me.”

“What’s wrong, dear?”

“Oh, nothing just.. mother stuff. Haha.”

“Well, mother to mother, you can tell me. What’s bothering you?” The woman placed a hand on Miriam’s back to try and offer comfort.

“It’s just.. my daughter.”

“That little Ivy girl?”

“Yeah.. she’s.. having such a hard time.. And the kids at school are just.. so mean.”

“I know how that is, my son has had a fair share of bullies, but not so much since he’s taller than most of them now. He’s a tough boy.”

“My Ivy is so fragile and quiet, it makes it easy for people to pick on her and she won’t defend herself. Just this morning, some kid locked her in the janitors closet for hours.”

“Goodness!”

“She’s upstairs crying her eyes out, but she won’t say a word to anybody, not even who did it.”

“Mrs. Thorn, I’m so sorry.”

“Whenever things are bad, she just.. has this look on her face. She locks up, she won’t move or talk. I love my daughter so much, and I feel like I’m failing her as a mother.” She started sobbing heavily. Lisa pulled her into a hug and patted her back. Then Miriam gave a small delirious laugh.

“Haha.. I’m so sorry, you barely know me and here I am, a blubbering mess telling you all my problems.”

“Now don’t you apologize for feeling the way you do, and you’re not a failure, little Ivy is lucky to have parents like you and Mr. Thorn that love her so much.”

“You really think so?”

“A terrible parent wouldn’t be crying over their child’s unhappiness. You seem like good people, and I think my boys can vouch for you.”

“Your boys?”

“You’ve met my son Larry and his friend Sal, haven’t you?’

“Of course! They helped us move in.”

“They’re such sweet boys.”

“Yeah, they walk Ivy to and from school.”

“I’m surprised I haven’t seen her hang out with them, all the kids in this building tend to hang out with eachother.”

“Ivy’s.. really shy. She just had her first sleepover a couple weeks ago.”

“Her first one?”

“Yeah. They looked like nice girls, and I think she had a good time. She didn’t complain about it or seem upset.”

“Well there’s a start.”

“I just.. I know she’s been having issues with people at school, but she won’t tell me anything. I know she has a hard time saying what’s wrong but.. I thought she trusted me.”

“Give it some time, I’ve only had a son but I know that teenagers get a little secretive around this time. The best we can do is give them space and they’ll come to us when they’re ready.”

“I can only hope so. I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name.”

“Lisa Johnson.” She said with a can-do smile.

“I’m Miriam.”

“Nice to meet ya, Miriam.”

“Likewise, and thank you.”

“What for?”

“Talking to me. I mean, I can talk to Greg but it’s nice to talk to another mother.”

“No need to thank me. I see a mother in need, I’m always willing to step in. You can always call on me for help.” Miriam smiled and tried to finish loading the laundry, only for it to not start.

“Okay.. maybe I do need a fix here.” Miriam sheepishly laughed.

“I’ll get my tools!”

Chapter Text

               The morning came without the sun, typical for the winter season. The dark sky is deceptive when one is not an early riser.

However, Ivy was up on the move, ready to pounce on the day ahead with Bauhaus covering a David Bowie song. She sang along cheerfully, despite not having a smile on her face.

‘Ziggy played guitar, jamming good with Weird and Gilly,
And the spiders from Mars. He played it left hand
But made it too far
Became the special man, then we were Ziggy's band’

Miriam opened her door and watched as her daughter put on a little show. She was happy to see her so high spirited, considering the Halloween incident and the closet scenario were only just last week.

Ivy noticed her mom in the doorway but continued her little performance.

‘Ziggy played for time, jiving us that we were voodoo
The kid was just crass, he was the nazz
With God given ass
He took it all too far but boy could he play guitar’

It was almost magical the way her daughter went all out, especially when getting ready for school of all things.

Ziggy plaayyyyedd.. guiiittaaaaarrrrrrrr.’

She gave one last headbang as the ending flourished.

“Now you gotta brush your hair again.”

“A minor chore in the world of rock and roll.” Miriam swore she saw an attempt at a smile.

“You’re pretty hyper this morning.”

“Got a full 8 hours, almost unheard of in the lives of night children.”

“Wow, sounds like you should do that more often.”

“Yeah but I’ll lose my spooky kid street cred.”

“Ah, well we can’t have that.”

“Is it snowing out?”

“A little, it’ll get worse later.”

“Splendid. At least I have my winter gear.”

“That get up that makes you look like a Russian princess?”

“принцесса нежити”

“I hope that was Russian for ‘yes mom’ and you didn’t just summon a demon.”

“Don’t look in the fridge, then.”

“You scare me, child.” Her mother smirked before going back to the kitchen to finish packing the lunch she made.

Ivy pulled out the fuzzy hat that went with her coat.

‘I hope he doesn’t find me ridiculous.’ She thought as she pulled it over her head.

‘Wait, why do I care if he finds me ridiculous?’ She shook her head vigorously to try and rid those silly thoughts.

She pulled on her boots and coat and left the room.

“You know, on anyone else it would look silly, but you pull it off.” Her mother smiled as she handed her the lunch bag. Ivy flipped a lock of hair with her hand.

“Of course I do.”

“Ooooh, sassy girl. Who are you and what have you done with my daughter?” Ivy let out a soft hum as she grabbed the bag and went out the front door.

She tried to contain her excitement over seeing Sal, bouncing in the elevator. When she got out, she realized that she may have been a little early as no one was out just yet.

‘I’ll wait here a few minutes, it is unusual for me to be up and ready by this time.’ She rocked back and forth on her heels, waiting for the door to open.

When it finally did, she quickly turned her head and grimaced when she saw Larry, who was equally just as disappointed to see her.

‘Great, this guy. Ugh. I may as well try to be nice since Sal really cares about him.’

“Good morning, Mr. Johnson.” Larry smirked for a second before remembering what he promised Sal.

“Good morning, Ms. Thorn.” He wasn’t entirely amused by the formality, but this was as good as it was gonna get.

“I guess I should thank you for the candy, Sal said you got extra for me.”

“Don’t mention it.” Her expression remained disdainful before she shut her eyes and exhaled.

“I apologize, that came off as rude.”

“Maybe if you smiled more.” She looked away.

‘I hate being told to smile. God damn it, this is gonna be harder than I thought.’

Thankfully for both of them, Sal came bursting out of the door.

“Gah! Sorry, I woke up late!”

“No worries dude, we just got here.”

“Whoa! Cool outfit!” Sal gawked at Ivy’s outerwear.

“Yeah I meant to ask, what’s with the Cold War outfit?” Larry sneered. Sal elbowed him.

“Oh, these are just my winter clothes. I got them in New York City.”

“That’s right, I forgot you lived there before here.” Sal added.

“So what made you move to this dump?” Asked Larry. Sal was already seeing the cracks and began internally freaking out.

“My dad works in I.T. and there’s a new company starting here, they wanted my dad to come and build it up.” Ivy was weirdly cool about answering Larry’s questions.

“Come on, boys, we’ll all be late if we keep standing here.” She turned and lead the way.

“Ooh, bossy. Ow!” Sal pinched Larry and glared at him. Larry mumbled curses under his breath.

Ivy walked ahead of them during the little trip, Sal swore he saw a little bounce in her step. He wanted to remark on it but decided to leave it alone for now, fearing that bringing it up will make her stop. He didn’t even realize that Larry had been talking to him for a couple blocks, but Larry definitely noticed him not paying attention, at one point even going ‘Blah blah blah, blah blah, yadda yadda yadda’ to test him. Sal was none the wiser.

“Sal, I fear your friend has devolved into madness.”

“Huh?” He snapped out of it and looked at a very displeased Larry.

“Ah, sorry dude. Was distracted.”

“Yeah, I bet.” He scoffed. Sal felt sheepish when he realized that he had just been staring at Ivy the whole time. When they arrived at the school, Ash and Maple were waiting by Ivy’s locker.

“Oh my gosh, Ivy! You’re here!” Ash ran up to her.

“Yeah, why wouldn’t I be?”

“Well, I-I, I mean.. well..” She trailed off, not wanting to rock the boat.

“If you’re referring to last week, I’m fine. Really. I’ve had a whole weekend to decompress, everything is fine.” She said, a little monotonously.

“As long as you’re okay.” Maple peered around Ash and tried to change the subject.

“Ivy, I loooovve your coat, it really suits you.”

“Thank you, Maple. That’s very nice of you.” Ivy’s lip twitched as she wanted to try and smile but covered her mouth and tried to save face.

“Whoa, you okay?”

“Ye-yeah, I’m sorry, I had to burp and didn’t want to do that in your face.” She lied. Sal watched as Maple and Ash talked to Ivy for a few seconds before heading to his own locker, Larry still in tow.

“I’m glad Ash and Maple like her.” Larry rolled his eyes but kept his mouth shut.

After a couple classes, the dreaded lunch period had arrived, and Ivy actually wanted to join the others, she had been in such a great mood that maybe a little socializing wouldn’t be so bad.

But what is a passing time without running into Travis? She bumped into him when turning the corner, both equally not happy to see the other.

“So the evil witch lives.”

“Sucks, doesn’t it?”

“You better not rat me out, or else.” She glared at him for a minute before taking a deep breath.

“Don’t worry, I won’t say a thing. In fact, I forgive you, Travis.” He was shocked.

“Excuse me?”

“That’s right, all is forgiven.”

“What are you playing at?”

“Let’s face it, it’s your word against mine, I’ve been nothing but trouble since I got here. So I forgive you. Do you want to know why?” Travis didn’t like where this was going.

“Why?”

“Because, my dear boy, the things I’m gonna do to you are gonna be far worse than what some public school system can dish out. The torture and agony I plan to inflict upon you will haunt you even in your dreams, and you won’t be able to tell anyone about it, no one will believe you.” His eyes widened.

“And the best part? You won’t know when it’s happening, you’ll just have to wait until it does.” He stood frozen in place, Ivy was oddly terrifying when she wanted to be, and her lack of facial expression only added to it.

“Good luck, Travis.” She taunted as she walked away. When the sound of her boots clicking down the hallway faded into the lunchroom, he let out a few shivers. He didn’t put it past her to have any kind of hell powers.

“I knew it, she is a fucking witch.” He muttered to himself, wondering what kind of torment awaited him.

Back in the cafeteria, Ivy saw Maple waving her over to their groups table, patting the spot next to her.

“Ivy, Ivy, Ivy, what are you doing for winter vacation?”

“Oh uh, I.. I don’t know, I assumed I would just be at home.”

“You wanna have another slumber party? Ash and I are totally down.” Ash leaned over and nodded vigorously.

“I mean, if you guys want to.”

“Yes! Oh my god, we should make it like a 3 day event.”

“3 days? I mean, I’ll see if my mom is down for it.”

“Wouldn’t you have to watch your little brother, Ash?” Sal asked, curious about this little event going on.

“Oh man, you’re right. I hope they’ll let me go at least one night.”

“Hey, I got an idea, why don’t we have a Christmas party?” Said Todd.

“Yeah! That’d be awesome!” Ash shouted.

“Okay but where? Todd, we both know we can’t exactly do it in your parents apartment.” Sal tried to think of possible places, he didn’t think his dad would be too keen on having a bunch of teenagers in his home.

“I can ask my mom if she’s okay with it, I’m sure she would be though, she loves all you guys.” Said Larry. Ivy shifted a little in her seat, catching Larry’s attention. He looked at Sal and sighed.

“Ivy, would you like to go?” She snapped her eyes to him in near disbelief.

“Me?”

“It would be rude to make all these plans in front of you and not invite you.” His deadpan expression made the gesture seem ingenuine, but the fact that he was willing to at least try was something. She would have felt the same way had it been her.

“If you don’t mind having me.” The rest of the group held their breath for a few seconds, waiting for the world to end or some kind of cataclysmic event to signify the intensity of this unlikely truce.

Ivy and Larry noticed and looked at everybody.

“What?” They both said it at the same time, in the same inquisitive tone.

Everyone collectively exhaled a sigh of relief, making Ivy and Larry look at each other in confusion.

 

Chapter Text

Sal POV

Friday finally came. I was in such a good mood because the week had actually been good! Ivy sat with us every day and started talking a little more. There wasn’t any incident with Travis, Ash and Maple made plans with her, and even Larry tried his hand at conversation. Granted, they were limited to a small question here or there, but it was progress!

I was hoping that Ivy was enjoying herself, but.. It’s been hard to tell. She doesn’t smile or laugh. Even when things are gut busting, the most she’ll do is close her eyes or cover her mouth.

I don’t want to say it bothers me, but I often feared that she was uncomfortable or not having a good time, she doesn’t really say when something is upsetting her. However, she kept coming back, so maybe she just has a different sense of humor?

School ended and to my surprise, I saw Todd out in front talking with Ivy.

“The guy sold his soul for vanity, and in his egomania, he participated in egregious hedonism, everyone hated him after a while. Only when he saw the true reflection of his soul did he attempt, and I’m using the word attempt lightly here, to rectify his behavior, but it was for personal gain of surface level crap, not for the sake of being a decent person.” I have no idea what she was talking about, but it was still nice to see her in the zone. If you could engage her on something she liked, she would talk extensively, though I would have to say her vocabulary is rather large. Todd’s about the only person I know that doesn’t interrupt her to ask her to define a big word she used.

Heck, yesterday, she said something and Larry finally spoke up and said “Yeah, I only understood like 2 words out of that whole conversation."

“So a cautionary tale of hubris?”

“Precisely. A beautiful face does nothing for a rotten personality. A turd rolled in glitter is still a turd.” I still don’t understand how she doesn’t believe she’s funny. Todd spotted me and adjusted his glasses.

“Ah, Sal. Ready to head home?”

“For the most part. I’m surprised you’re here though, don’t you normally have science club after school?”

“Yes, however our president fell ill so I’m free to return home to start my weekend early.”

“Great! We can all walk together.” I looked at her to see any form of excitement, but at best, her eyes were a little wider.

“Where’s Larry?” She asked, which shocked me for a second.

“Probably running behind, he’d been feeling a little slow today.” Just as I said that, Larry showed up.

“Speak of the devil, and he shall appear.” I heard Ivy say in a low voice.

“One day, you’ll worship me.” He pointed at her, trying to be cool.

“In your dreams, Johnson.” I worry about their interactions. To say they’re getting better would be a huge exaggeration, but they’re talking, I guess.

We all set off for home after waving to Ash and Maple. Chug had decided to join us today, asking about what kind of party games and snacks we’d be having at the Christmas party, but I kinda tuned him and Larry out because I started eavesdropping on Todd and Ivy’s conversation a little.

“I mean sure, he shared the idiosyncrasies of most respected vampires but let’s be real here, he was about as threatening as Count Chocula.” Todd giggled a little. Everyone kinda had their own field they were good at in school. Todd and I were good at math, Todd being more on the science side. Ash and Larry were the creative types, Maple loved poetry and history class, Chug? Well his favorite subject was lunch, but he always had his homework done.

Ivy was the bookworm, she reads a lot of books and excels in the English and reading classes. At the very least, I think she does because if you heard her talk about any form of literature, you can tell she pays attention to the plot and detail, but if the book is garbage, she won’t read past the second or third chapter.

“Man, how do you find the time to make all these like.. observations?” I heard Larry shout at her. I noticed this week alone I spaced out a lot whenever it came to Ivy. It was starting to make my stomach feel weird, I could only really focus on her, the things she said, her little gestures or manners of expression.

“When you’re me, and you don’t have any friends.. you have all the time in the world.” She stared ahead when she said that. Everyone got a little bummed out.

“Well, don’t worry. We’re your friends now, but we’ll make sure you’ll still have time for your books too.” Todd smiled at her. Todd’s friendly but I’d never really seen him be so warm and welcoming, then again, he’s always been a nice guy.

I saw her look at him for a second before turning back.

God damn it, not even a tiny curve of her lips.

Why am I so focused on that?

-------

The group of boys plus Ivy had made it home, they all shivered and relished in the warm blast of air coming from the lobby.

“Well rugrats, Larry’s gonna take a nap. Later.” Larry saluted as he descended to the basement. The remaining four piled into the elevator, Ivy being unfortunately trapped in the corner. The threat of close contact started to rattle her, but she held her breath as Todd and Chug got off on their respective floors.

Finally having a moment alone since last weekend, Sal summoned a bout of courage as they exited the elevator.

“Hey uh, are you busy later?” He stammered.

“Aside from staring at a popcorn ceiling waiting for my descent into madness, my schedule is void.”

“Might I entice you in some video games in lieu of the exciting world of cheap interior design?” He had been picking up on her manner of speech in small degrees.

“Mmm, I guess I could move the plaster appointment to Sunday. It’s been a while since I played video games.”

“Great. I’m gonna get changed and eat something.. so.. see you at.. 6?”

“I’ll be there.” She turned and left to her apartment, Sal waited until she was inside to skip down the hallway in anticipation of his evening with her. He had been dying to ask her the entire week to hang out again, but for some reason, he would just get nervous and chicken out, especially if anyone else happened to be nearby.

Before too long, 6 PM came with a knock on the door. Sal rushed to open it and tried to hide his giddiness.

“Good evening!” He shouted, startling her.

“Ah, sorry, was uh.. cleaning and rushed out.”

“I'm sorry, am I early?”

“No! Not at all, please come in.” Sal found difficulty in controlling the volume of his voice, and it was evident in her reactions. Still, it wasn't enough to deter her from spending an evening with him.

“By the way, my dad's not here so we can be as loud as we want.”

“Finally, I can practice the Tibetan art of scream singing.”

“Sweet!” He exclaimed. He guided her to his room, she was surprised at how bright and organized it was.

“Your room makes mine look like a dungeon.”

“Yeah but you pull off the dungeon dweller well.”

“I’m glad someone appreciates my craft, I work really hard to make Gary Gygax proud.”

“Keep up the good work.”

“Kitty.” She said, weirdly childlike. He turned to see her eyeballing the orange and white tabby on his bed.

“That's Gizmo, he’s my buddy.” She continued to stare at him wide eyed.

“You wanna pet him?”

“C-can I?” She already had her hand outstretched, hesitantly approaching the critter. Gently, she gave him one small stroke which woke him up, and he was gladly receiving her affection.

She quietly gasped in awe. Sal watched closely for any signs of a smile, but her face remained in a state of wonder.

“He's pretty friendly.” He said, realizing quickly that she probably didn't hear him, she was completely enamored with the cat. He cleared his throat a little to draw her attention to him.

“Oh.. sorry.”

“It's okay, you and Gizmo can hang out anytime, but tonight is you and me.” She felt her cheeks raise up in temperature from that combination of words.

“You said.. video games, right? What do you have?”

“I have.. Super Mario, Legend of Zelda aaand.. Mortal Kombat.”

“Mortal Kombat sounds fun.”

“Right on, prepare to lose, Thorn!” He said as he tried to locate the cartridge. She sat down in front of the TV, nervous but excited for the fun activities.

“Don't cry if you lose.” He teased as he sat next to her. She noticed how close they were and tended up.

“Ah, sorry. Am I too close?” He said while shuffling a few inches away. She didn't have it in her to say that he was perfect where he was.

“You ever played Mortal Kombat? It's pretty violent.”

“A couple times in an arcade.”

“Sweet! It's a little different on the home console but still just as fun, I promise.” She gave a soft hum in response.

He chose Liu Kang, she chose Scorpion.

“Ooh, good choice Ivy.” He snickered as the battle screen showed up. He got a few hits in.

“Ha!” But his cheering was premature as she suddenly, without blinking, unleashed deadly combos onto him. Sal was left speechless as she won the first two rounds almost flawlessly.

“Uh.. Well, I let you win because I didn't want you to feel bad.” He tried, horribly.

“Mhm.” Her lips twitched a little.

“Now prepare for a beating!” This time he went with Raiden and she chose Johnny Cage. He tried to button mash his way out of it, but she calmly whooped him without changing her expression.

“Yo, what?! You did not just beat me with Johnny Cage!” He shouted. She covered her mouth.

“Okay, best 3 out of 5. You're going down, girly.”

His choice this time, was Kano, and she went with Sub Zero. Sal tried with all his might to remember combos, standing on his knees to further whatever angle he could achieve, but it was a wasted effort. Ivy beat the tar out of him.

“Finish him!” Shouted the game.

“Oh, hold on.” She hit a few button in succession, and performed a fatality. Sal's jaw dropped as he watched Kano turn into ice and subsequently shattered

“I… wow..”

“Sorry.”

“For what? You totally owning me? Nah, don't be sorry. Either Larry really sucks or you're the master of Mortal Kombat.” Sal laughed as he said that, hoping to get a giggle out of her. Nothing.

“Wanna play Super Mario?”

“Sure.” He popped it in and sat close to her again, this time waiting to see if she'd say something. It felt a little mean but part of him wanted to see if she was uncomfortable around him. If she fidgeted or didn't respond as much, he'd back off. But throughout their gameplay, she was chatting with him just fine. Only when he accidentally bumped her trying to get through a frustrating part did he back up when his skin grazed against her hand and she pulled back.

“Ah, I'm sorry. I'm way too close.”

“You're fine.” Out of nowhere, Gizmo came and snuggled into Ivy’s lap.

“Oh my god, does he like me?”

“It usually takes him a while to warm up to others, I’m genuinely shocked right now.” She had forgotten they were playing a game, she was infatuated with Gizmo.

“He’s so fluffy.”

Another hour had passed and during a boss fight, Sal started feeling an itch in his eye socket.

“Crap, I got something in my eye.”

“A likely excuse.”

“No really, hold on.” He put down the controller and started rubbing his eye through his mask.

“Ahh, damn it.”

“Are you alright?” She asked.

“Yeah, my eye is just.. really bothering me, hold on.” He popped out his prosthetic eye to inspect it further.

“I should have washed my hands first but dang, that was bugging me.” He turned to Ivy as he spoke to her and saw that she was absolutely horrified.

“Ivy?”

“You.. you just.. pulled out your eye..”

“Oh.. I haven't told you about my eye.”

“…….Noo..” She didn’t take her gaze off his eye.

“Yeah, I have a glass eye. I was born with two regular eyes, but-“ He quickly noticed the color draining from her face as she started to lean to the side, Gizmo flying out of her lap.

“Shit!” He tried to catch her while also not losing his eye. She laid slumped over in his arms, eyes half closed, vision blurry and unable to hear him call out to her.

“Damn it.” He laid her gently on the ground before running to the bathroom to drop his glass eye in cleaner while he fetched a glass of water for her.

When he came in, she was semiconscious and attempting to sit up, he rushed over to her.

“No no no, don’t sit up too fast.” He set the glass down and tried to cradle her a little to at least make sure she didn’t fall again. Her eyes darted around for a second before her vision returned.

“You okay?” He handed her the glass and she took it with a shaky hand.

“I’m sorry, I should have told you before.”

‘Before I saw you pull out your fucking eyeball?! Would have been nice!’ She thought furiously before feeling terrible about it. She downed the glass to think of a response.

“It’s.. I was just.. surprised. I’m sorry for reacting the way I did.”

“Don’t be, you should have seen the time I sneezed so hard, it shot out of my eye socket. Larry almost crapped himself on the spot.” Ivy’s lips stretched, poorly stifling a chuckle.

“Gross.”

“There’s a laugh.” He said. She looked up at him to observe his eyeless socket but found herself staring into the one eye he did have, finding him strangely enchanting even with the new discovery. She then started blushing and realized she was essentially being held by him.

She sat up quickly, trying to hide the fact that she was ogling him.

“Careful, careful.” He held out his arms in case she got dizzy again.

“I’m fine. Where’s your eye?”

“Oh, I’m cleaning it. It should be done now anyway." He got up to retrieve it, leaving Ivy the ability to breathe as she gathered her thoughts.

“See, EYE’m all better now.” He pointed to his fake eye. She really wanted to laugh, but she covered her mouth with her hand and looked away. Sal let his curiosity get the best of him, and sat down next to Ivy who was still looking away.

“Are you okay?” She nodded, still not turning back around.

“Ivy, can… I ask you something?” She slowly uncovered her mouth and looked at him.

“Why do you cover your mouth so much?” She knew this question would be coming at some point, just shocked it took this long.

“Just a habit of mine.”

“How does one get in the habit of covering their mouth so frequently?” She started to look down.

“Because.. I don’t want people to see my mouth.”

“What’s wrong with your mouth?” She wanted to get angry with him, but he was her first real friend, if she got angry, he might not hang out with her anymore.

“Are you gonna ask me to smile?” Sal realized quickly that this was definitely a sore subject for her and started to regret asking.

“I’m.. I’m sorry. I just.. I noticed I’ve never seen you smile or laugh, and I’m always afraid that you’re uncomfortable or that you’re not having fun.” The two sat in awkward silence as they both didn’t want to make the other feel bad.

“When.. I was little, I was told, constantly, that I had an ugly smile and that my laugh was annoying, and that no one wanted to see or hear it. So I started covering my mouth whenever I felt the need to smile.” She hugged her knees as her past crept up on her. Sal felt his stomach turn a little.

“Who says that to a little kid?” Even though he knew the horrible things that people had said to him about his face.

“You’d be surprised.” She mumbled.

“I’m positive that you have a very lovely smile.”

“I wouldn’t know.. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve smiled since I was 7. Now my face just twitches a lot and makes people look at me weird.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Why are you sorry?”

“People are cruel, I know that firsthand. And no one deserves to be told that kind of nonsense, especially a little kid.” She shrugged, having given up trying to erase her childhood.

“It’s whatever.. besides, I think my face accessorizes well with my wardrobe.” She said, attempting to steer the conversation somewhere less unpleasant.

“Well, that’s one way to look at the bright side, or in this case, the dark side.”

“You nerd.”

“It’s a hard job, but someone’s gotta do it.” Ivy felt a strange warmth inside her, and she wished that she could smile, at least for him.

“Well, I should get going. It’s getting late.”

“You sure? It’s the weekend, you can stay longer.” He tried not to sound desperate, but she didn’t pick up on it.

“As enticing as that sounds, I don’t wanna receive the birds and the bees talk from Greg and Miriam just because I was at a boy’s house past 10 PM.”

“Fair, at least let me walk you to the door.”

“I suppose I’ll allow it.” He ushered her to the front door, and when they got there, he stopped before unlocking it.

“Um.. Ivy?”

“Yes Sal?”

“For what it’s worth, I don’t think you have an ugly smile, and I hope I get to see it one day.” Her cheeks flared red instantly. Sal’s heart pounded upon delivery of his words, but he meant it.

She felt her lips contort a little, and muscle memory already had her hand to her jaw, but on a swift act of bravery, he stopped her hands with his, gently of course.

She had noticed that not once during the entire time was she repulsed by human touch, at least from him anyway. Her lips quivered nervously, but she was delighted that someone truly wanted to see her in that way.

Sal unlocked the door and opened it for her.

“Goodnight, Sally.” She whispered.

“Goodnight, Ivy.” She walked out of the door and he shut it. He took a deep breath and tried to steady his heartbeat. He never acted that way before and was glad that she was accepting of it.

Ivy glided down the hallway in pure, previously unfelt, bliss.

Chapter Text

Over the next couple of weeks, Ivy was on Cloud 9. The more and more Sal and her hung out, the more she started to fall for him. She had never developed feelings for another person before, nearly every human she had ever come in contact with were so cruel and nasty to her, usually calling her a freak or a witch.

But not him.

No, he was different. Butterflies swarmed her insides whenever she thought of him. She looked forward to their hangout sessions on the weekends and various weekdays, whether they played video games, watched movies, or just listened to music and chilled, she always had a good time with him.

Unfortunately, this also meant that he wasn’t spending as much time with Larry, if any at all, and he definitely noticed Sal’s lack of appearances in his life.

He had almost stopped talking to Sal altogether because in his eyes, all Sal cared about was Ivy and whatever she was doing. Ash saw how tepid Larry’s behavior became and asked him about it, but he only said that he was just sleep deprived and wasn’t feeling up to anything lately. He was tired of people telling him that he needed to calm down and try to be friends with Ivy, in fact, he started to resent her more and more.

He would go on ahead for their walks to and from school, not caring to converse with her or Sal anymore.

And Ivy saw this as well.

She decided to bring it up during their walk home.

“How’s Larry?”

“Larry? He’s good, I think.”

“You think? He’s your best friend, isn’t he?”

“I haven’t hung out with him in a while.”

“He’s probably lonely, you’ve been spending all your time with me. He probably misses you.”

“I guess you’re right. I just really like hanging out with you, you’re fun.”

“Don’t be silly, I’ve never brought joy to anyone.”

“Oh stop it. I like being around you, even if you somehow manage to kick my ass at everything.”

“Well, maybe you should give Larry a shot and feel like a king again.”

“Yeah. Hey, maybe we can all hang out.” Ivy grimaced at the idea, the images of the dirty looks Larry had been giving her lately flashed through her mind.

“Actually, I have some things I need to catch up on. Some reading, cleaning, et cetera.”

“Well gee, if you wanted to get rid of me.”

“Damn, you caught me.” Her deadpan expressions usually delivered her sarcasm very well.

“You are right though, I should pay Larry a visit.” He thought out loud as they reached the front door.

“And Todd and Chug too.”

“Man, what kind of reading do you need to do?”

“Sal, they’re your friends.”

“You’re my friend too.”

“Yes, this is true. But seriously.”

“Alright alright, but I wanna see you at least tomorrow night or Saturday, I’ve been eyeballing that Rosemary’s Baby movie of yours.”

“Please don’t mention eyeballs.” Sal laughed as he headed to the basement, seeing Lisa as she was getting into the elevator.

“Hiya Sal, haven’t seen you in a while.”

“Hi Lisa, is Larry home?”

“Should be, he better be.” She joked. Sal went in and knocked on Larry’s door.

“Yeah?”

“Hey dude, it’s me.” He heard shuffling before the door opened, showing a very bored looking Larry.

“No solicitors.”

“I can’t interest you in an overpriced vacuum that breaks down after two uses?”

“For 10 easy payments of 29.99, you can suck my dick.” His face didn’t change much, alarming Sal.

“Whoa, you okay?”

“.. Yeah, just tired. Come on in.” Sal went in and sat on the beanbag chair.

“What’s up, man? Been a while since I saw you.” Larry sat on the bed, elbows resting on his knees, stoic face.

“You’re looking at it.”

“No ghostly adventures or anything?”

“Nope.” The tone in Larry’s voice unsettled Sal.

‘He looks pissed off. Maybe Ivy was onto something.’

“I’ve just been hanging out with Ivy a lot.”

“Yeah. I noticed.” Sal shifted uncomfortably.

“Is.. Is everything okay?”

“You tell me. I haven’t seen you in two weeks, you’ve been attached to Ivy like a barnacle.”

‘Oh..’

“… Yeah, I.. I guess I have been.”

“So why aren’t you hanging out with her then?”

“She.. said she had some things she had to do.”

“… So I was just Plan B, huh?”

“She.. told me I should go see you.”

“But not once did you think to come visit me or even hit me up at all. She had to tell you that.” Now Larry was angry.

“That’s.. not..”

“Not what you meant? You didn’t mean to just ignore your best friend for some girl that doesn’t even smile? That’s fucking creepy, by the way.”

“Larry, don’t be mean.”

“No, you know what man? I’ve had it with you and her. You wanna hang out with her so bad, go. I don’t need this shit.” Larry stood up and started walking towards the door.

“Larry..”

“Just get out man, I don’t want to talk to you right now.”

“Larry wait, I’m-“

“Save it, dude.” He opened the door and refused to look at Sal. Larry had never been this upset with him before. He stared at Larry for a few seconds before slowly getting up and walking pitifully out the door with his head down.

He kicked himself for being a terrible friend, on the way up the elevator, his anxiety shot through the roof. All he wanted to do was go to Ivy and talk to her about it, but he didn’t wanna bother her with his upset feelings, nor did he want to make it seem like it was her fault Larry was mad.

He sat in his room for hours, petting Gizmo and trying to rehearse an apology, but nothing felt genuine or good enough. Larry was Sal’s first real friend, throwing him under the bus over a girl was unlike him. At least when he started crushing on Ash, they all hung out and were friends.

Then his stomach did flip flops as he thought of Ash, and things began to get confusing. He still liked Ash as well, but even though Ash was really nice to him and cared about him, she didn’t show much interest in him in that way.

“Ugh, Gizmo, what do I do? I keep screwing up.” Gizmo gave a small ‘beerrrowww.’

“You’re absolutely right. I need to fix all this.”

He knew he needed to apologize to Larry and start paying attention to his friends, otherwise he’d lose them.

Chapter Text

*Mid December*

It was late on a Sunday night, and Larry decided to sneak out into his treehouse to have some alone time. However, he noticed that someone else had the same idea.

“Sal?” The blue-haired boy had been sitting in the corner, head in his hands. Larry climbed in and walked towards him.

“Hey buddy, you alright?” But Sal didn’t move. Getting worried, Larry crouched down and shook him, scaring Sal and himself because Sal shouted.

“Sal, it’s me, what’s wrong dude?” Sal sniffed, evidence of him crying were apparent.

“N-nothing, I’m sorry, I’ll leave.” He tried to get up but was stopped by Larry.

“Nuh uh, not until you tell me what’s wrong.”

“Look, I know you don’t care about her at all so I’m not gonna bother you with it.”

“Dude, you’re my best friend, you can’t sit in my treehouse crying and not tell me about it.” Sal shook his head, a small sob escaping his lips.

“Dude, please. Don’t worry me.” Sal got quiet, tried to think of what he wanted to say.

“… Ivy won’t talk to me.” Larry gulped.

“Why not?”

“I.. I don’t know. Just.. she just.. started telling me she was too busy to hang out.. then she.. just.. stopped talking to me. Now she avoids me like the plague, and I don’t even know what I did.” Tears came streaming out, he’d been trying to hold them in but talking about the situation intensified his bad feelings.

Larry’s insides somersaulted as he watched Sal break down.

“Sally, I need to ask you something.. Do you like Ivy?” Sal got quiet. He had time to think about it, and while friends come and go, Ivy’s absence devastated him.

“I.. I think.. I..”

-------

*A few days earlier*

Ivy rushed home once again, desperately trying to evade Sal and his friends. Barreling down the street, she held on tightly to her Walkman as her music blasted to block out anyone trying to talk to her.

It started out slowly, she would tell Sal she had homework or was feeling dizzy or ill. Then she stopped coming to lunch and began hiding out in the library again.

Suddenly she would leave early and quickly to and from school, making sure to elude him entirely.

There was a time during passing period where he called out to her, she pretended not to hear him, and made her sudden increase in speed obvious, leaving him hurt and confused.

Locking herself in her room, she took a deep breath and tried to collect her thoughts. It was painful to shut him out like that, after all, he was her friend, almost her best friend.

He had been nothing but kind and friendly to her.

And yet, here she was, giving him the cold shoulder.

She tried to play music to drown out her thoughts, but she gravitated towards something that would only exaggerate her upset nature.

She plopped down onto her bed, sapped of any and all motivation. Tears rolled down her face as Nick Cave’s words played to her.

‘I don't believe in an interventionist God
But I know, darling, that you do
But if I did, I would kneel down and ask Him
Not to intervene when it came to you
Oh, not to touch a hair on your head
Leave you as you are
If he felt he had to direct you
Then direct you into my arms’

The weight in her chest increased, breathing was a chore. Whenever she thought of Sal, it hurt her. She played back their interactions, how genuinely interested in her he acted, how nice he had been.

Then she remembered all the time she saw him looking at ‘her’, and the good feelings were wiped out.

“God.. why.. he.. he isn’t..” She clenched her chest and curled up into a ball.

“I hate this.. Why can’t I just forget about him?”

She wanted the bed to swallow her whole and spit her back out without the ability to feel emotions.

“This isn’t fair..”

‘And I don't believe in the existence of angels
But looking at you I wonder if that's true
But if I did I would summon them together
And ask them to watch over you
Both to each burn a candle for you
To make bright and clear your path
And to walk, like Christ, in grace and love
And guide you into my arms’

The words did anything but soothe her heartache, but she refused to change the song. She rolled over and hugged her pillow, wishing that it was Sal instead.

But she knew that day wouldn’t come.

-------

*flashback to the day after Larry yelled at Sal*

“Alright, since Thanksgiving is coming up, we’re gonna be starting on the Native American portion of our curriculum. Everyone get out your textbooks and turn to page 257.”

Ivy felt uneasy. She knew this part would come eventually, and she would just have to bear it as she always did.

She shared this class with Sal, and while they couldn’t sit next to eachother, they would often make passing glances at the other. But today would prove to be challenging. The portion started easy enough, nothing yet.

“Aren’t the Native Americans extinct?”

“My mom said my great great grandmother was a Cherokee princess.”

“I mean, if the settlers didn’t come, they’d still be living in teepees, right?”

With that last remark, Ivy stood up, making her presence known and left the classroom.

“Ms. Thorn, where do you think you’re going?”

But she ignored the teacher and exited the class, leaving everyone to whisper harsh things in her absence. Sal attempted to get up.

“Mr. Fisher, if your rear so much as lifts off that seat, you can join Ms. Thorn in detention.” He wanted to argue but relented as he didn’t wanna cause trouble or have his dad get a phone call. Sal was normally a well-behaved student and never wanted to make waves, but he wanted to console Ivy.

Meanwhile, Ivy hid out in the bathroom and cursed out every person that said such vile, ignorant shit in the class. She skipped out on the rest of class and just waited until the bell rung to head to her locker, where a concerned Sal was waiting for her.

“Hey, you okay?”

“.. Yeah.”

“What happened?”

“Just.. I’ll tell you about it later, I don’t really wanna think about it.”

“Okay. Thank god it’s Friday, huh?”

“You can say that again.”

“You know what that means, don’t you?”

“TGI Fridays is having a special on appetizers?”

“TGI Fridays?”

“Oh god, I forgot I’m in the boonies.”

“Remember, I lived in Jersey before here, I know some things.”

“Like the fact that New York is superior?”

“Them’s fighting words, ya crazy broad.” Sal didn’t have too much of an accent but it did come out randomly, or when he put effort into it.

“Anyway, what does Friday mean?”

“We get to hang out!”

“Oh, that’s right.”

“Did you forget?”

“No, just a little distracted is all.”

“Well hey, school’s almost out, then we can start the weekend. I gotta go though, my class is on the other side of the building. I’ll see you out front!” And he ran off. Ivy opened her locker and looked in the mirror stuck to her door. She tried to curl her lips as best she could into a smile, she had been trying in secret to learn how to smile, remembering what Sal said a while back.  

It wasn’t much, but she wanted to surprise him.

“What’s with the twitchy witch lips? You having a stroke?” Her face dropped and turned to see Larry, a little shocked to hear him start a conversation, albeit a rude beginning, but maybe he’s a little recharged from hanging out with Sal.

“You wish.”

“Ouch, I’m not that mean.”

“Mmm.”

“So what’s going on?”

“Nothing.”

“Don’t look like nothing, you’re all giddy over Sal.” He sneered, trying to push her buttons.

“N-no I’m not..”

“Yeah you are. You’re trying to look all cute for him, you’re not fooling me. You like him.” She blushed furiously, frowning to try and ward him off.

“Don’t be ridiculous.” He smirked when he saw the red in her cheeks.

“You totally do, it’s written all over your face. You’re even trying to smile for him.” She covered her mouth. Why was he antagonizing her?

“But, if I were you, I wouldn’t get my hopes up He’s got a huge crush on Ash, had it since the first day they met. Wouldn’t be a good idea for you to get attached to him.”

Her insides dropped. One of her worst fears was confirmed, she knew it was too good to be true.

“I’m not attached, he’s just a friend. Nothing more.” She slammed her locker shut once she felt her eyes well up with tears. He caught a glimpse of her glassy eyes before she turned away and trudged to her next class.

He sunk internally, why was he acting this way?

‘She.. told me I should go see you.’

Sal’s words echoed in his head, he was still hurt and angry over the situation, but he realized she hadn’t even done anything to spite him. The fact that she said Sal needed to see him just made him feel worse.

‘Shit.. why did I say that?’

-------

“Hey Ivy, ready to walk home?” Sal said cheerfully as he saw her come out, but she rushed past him, ignoring him entirely. He stood there in confusion, not thinking to chase after her.

“Hey Sal, what’s up?” Ash came up to him.

“Uh.. I was gonna walk home with Ivy, but she ran off.”

“That’s weird, maybe she had an emergency?”

“I guess, I just thought she would have told me.”

“I’m sure she will later.” Larry overheard the conversation and his mouth went dry. He tried to casually walk by without being noticed, but he heard Sal tell Ash that he’d see her later before running up to him.

“Larry, wait!” He stopped, but he didn’t turn around, feeling afraid that Sal would somehow figure it out.

“Hey man, can we talk?”

“.. Sure.” He couldn’t bring himself to be angry at him anymore, especially after feeling guilty for what he said to Ivy.

They both started walking home, the first quarter in complete silence before Sal finally spoke up.

“Look, I know this doesn’t make up for what I did, but I really am sorry about ditching you like that. I just.. got really caught up and.. Man, it just sounds like excuses. I’m so sorry, that wasn’t cool of me, and I understand if you’re still mad at me.” Larry sighed.

“It’s all good, I’m sorry for exploding on you like that. I just missed you, man.”

“I missed you too.” Larry gave a half smile, but the bitterness of his earlier actions still plagued him.

“So are you and her hanging out later?”

“Yeah, but I was thinking, maybe we can all hang out together?” Larry coughed and tried to play it off.

“Um, maybe. I mean, if she’s up for it.” He knew the answer to that question already, but he didn’t have the heart to tell Sal the truth.

“I think she would be, she likes video games and stuff.” Sal went on for a second about all the activities him and her did over the last couple weeks, but stopped himself.

“Ahah, I’m sorry, that just sounds like I’m rubbing it in.”

“No worries, Sally. I’m glad you two are having fun.”

Larry tried to be nonchalant, but inside he was panicking. He knew this would come back and blow up in his face at some point, but.. if he could play it off and nothing happens, he wouldn’t have to worry about it anymore.

But it wasn’t exactly a fair plan for everyone involved now, was it?

“Okay man, I’ll hit you up in a little bit. I’m gonna go see if Ivy’s okay.”

“Alright man.”

Sal excitedly hit the button for the 4th floor, bouncing in the elevator. Finally, he could hang out with Ivy and Larry at the same time, maybe now they can be friends!

After he put his backpack down in his room, he headed to Ivy’s apartment and knocked, Miriam answered.

“Hi Mrs. Thorn, is Ivy home?”

“Oh, I’m sorry Sal, but she’s not feeling good.”

“Oh no, is she sick?”

“I think she’s just dizzy and needs to lay down for a while. If you want, I can tell her you stopped by.”

“Yeah, I’ll come back tomorrow if that’s okay.”

“Of course it is, you have a good night now.” She smiled before closing the door.

‘Well that sucks. Maybe Ash was right, she was just feeling crappy and rushed home to lay down. I can still see her tomorrow.’

He made his way to Larry’s apartment, still excited to at least be able to hang out with his best friend, and that they made up.

“Hey bro, looks like it’s just us tonight.” Larry studied Sal for any strange signs.

“Oh, did Ivy not want to join us?”

“Her mom said she wasn’t feeling good, but we can still try tomorrow. Besides, I think we need some quality bro time.” Larry gave a weak smile. The two went on about their evening, Sal none the wiser of Larry’s nefarious deed. Every time Larry would get comfortable and think everything was fine, he would see the image of Ivy’s teary eyes in his mind and feel sour again.

It ate away at him, and he wanted to take it back. At this point, he was just waiting for it to come back to him in spades.

‘Maybe it won’t be so bad, and we can all go back to normal.’

Chapter Text

It was just a few more days, that’s all. Just one last week before winter vacation started, and she could spend 2 weeks inside without anybody and have a chance to heal.

It was 5:30 AM and the morning was freezing cold, and she was already on her way to school. She hadn’t been able to sleep at all over the last few weeks. Maybe 2-3 hours on a good day, and things were starting to get weird.

Her heartache increased, she stopped talking, she couldn’t see faces or hear anyone. Just static.

Even her music become just noise.

‘I hate this, I hate everyone, I knew this was all a farce.’

To her, everything was awful again.

‘I never want to feel feelings again.’

The voracious negativity swallowed her, she didn’t realize half the day had passed until she was broken out of her trance by Maple.

“Hey Ivy, where’ve you been?” She looked at Maple with a dull shine in her eyes, then around the room to find that she was in the library, meaning it was lunchtime.

“What’s going on? No one’s seen or heard from you for a long time.” It was almost painful to respond, but Maple had never done anything to her. In fact, as of right now, she may have been Ivy’s only friend. Ivy licked her lips as she hadn’t spoken a word in days.

“Maple, how experienced are you in organ removal?” Her voice rasped. Maple was taken aback by the sudden violent inquiry, but figured entertaining it would lead to answers.

“Well we just did the frog dissection bit and I passed with flying colors.”

“Cool. I need you to cut my heart out and sacrifice it to the Sumerian god of icky gross feelings.” Ivy stared ahead as she said it.

“Why?”

“…. No reason.”

“Wait, your heart. Oh my god, you have a crush on someone.”

“Regrettably.”

“Who is it?” Maple became excited.

“I’m not at liberty to discuss.”

“I’ll bet it’s Sal.” Ivy’s eyes widened.

“Who told you?!” She shouted, making the librarian practically hiss at them.

“I was just joking but holy crap, you like Sal, that’s so cute!”

“No it isn’t, shut up.” Ivy panicked, Maple finding it adorable.

“You should tell him, you guys would be so cute together.”

“No! Not gonna happen.. not in a million years.”

“Girl, he probably likes you too.”

“Highly unlikely.”

“What? No way, you should give a shot.”

“Absolutely not.”

“Why?”

“Because.. I don’t think I can handle the rejection.”

“What? Why would he reject you?”

“… He likes someone else.”

“Who?” Ivy swallowed.

“… I don’t know.”

“Okay but let’s think about this. He’s been here longer than you have, if he did like someone else, don’t you think they would have started dating already?”

“I don’t know. I’ve never dated anyone before, or even had feelings for another person. I can’t gauge when a good time to start dating someone is. For all I know, they could start dating tomorrow.”

“Ivy, come on. You should still try! The worst he can say is no.”

“That is honestly the worst thing that could happen. My heart won’t be able to take it.” She buried her face in her crossed arms. Maple couldn’t help but pity her.

“Oh man.. you got it bad, don’t you?” Ivy nodded.

“I wish I didn’t..”

“Why?”

“Because.. I like having him as my friend. And yeah, I like spending time with him. But.. If I confess, and he doesn’t feel the same, I’ll lose my friend.”

“Damn..”

“So.. rather than deal with all that, I think I’ll just keep it to myself.”

“Won’t that make it worse?”

“Maybe.. But I’m hoping this is just some stupid crush that will go away.”

“But what if he likes you back?”

“What if he doesn’t and I make a fool out myself? Or what if he does and he gets to know me more and it turns out he thinks I’m boring or crazy?”

“You were hanging out with him a lot, I’m sure he knows a little about you.”

“More than I’d like to admit.”

“And he still wants to be around you?”

“… Yeah.”

“He has to have the hots for you.”

“Don’t get my hopes up, it’ll just inflate whatever ego I have left and that’ll make the oncoming disaster that much worse.

“You can’t think like that Ivy.”

“It’s all I know how to do. I’ll get over it. And.. Maple?”

“Yeah?”

“Promise not to tell anyone?”

“.. Okay but.. well.. Nevermind.” The bell sounded and Ivy dragged herself out of her chair and left, hoping to tune out the rest of the day. Maple started to follow her until she spotted Ash waving frantically to her from a partially hidden space in the bookshelves.

“Oh my god, tell me I didn’t just hear that.” Ash whispered, she was incredibly giddy.

“What did you hear?”

“Ivy has a crush on Sal!” Her smile looked crazy.

“Shhh!! She didn’t want me to tell anyone.”

“Well, technically you didn’t. ‘She’ did.” Ash winked.

“But she said he likes someone else.” Ash’s head nearly fell off. There’s no way she wouldn’t know if he liked someone else.

“What? Who?”

“That’s what I asked, but she said she didn’t know.”

“That’s bogus, someone told her that to throw her off. We should totally get them together.”

“I was thinking the same thing.” Ash and Maple clapped their hands together and jumped up and down excitedly until they were shushed by the librarian.

-----

The next couple of days had passed without much incident, though neither Sal or Ivy haven't so much as made eye contact, much less been in the same room together than wasn’t mandatory.

Ivy continued to hide out in the library, and Sal would just hide in the bathroom, worrying everybody. Outside of school, she hid in her bedroom, shutting herself off and making books and Disney movies her friends again. Sal did better at keeping appearances, but he seemed distant and distracted. Larry knew what was bothering him, Ash and Maple knew what was bothering Ivy, but no one could come together and find a solution without making anyone uncomfortable or revealing someone’s secret.

Though, Larry had sort of an idea. A way to at least try and make it right. It was a shot in the dark but knowing he was partially responsible for his best friends misery, he had to take a chance.

He headed straight home after school, hoping to catch Ivy and talk to her. He knew that she must have been sprinting to and from school or at the very least, left early to avoid Sal and the rest of them.

He caught up to her just as she was reaching the apartments.

“Hey, wait up!” He shouted. She turned to see who was accosting her, grimaced at it being Larry.

“You talking to me?” Larry nodded, a few random sounds trying to be words came out amidst the panting.

“Fuck.. how d-.. *pant* you get.. *wheeze* so quickly?”

“Why did you run?” Larry held up the ‘hold on’ gesture as he regained his composure.

“I gotta talk to you..*pant*”

“About what?”

“About what I said.. a while back.”

“Oh that. I’ve been meaning to thank you.”

“Yeah I-.. Huh?”

“You were right about getting my hopes up. It sucks having my heart broken before I finally had the chance to give it to someone, but.. it’s a learning experience.” The dead look in her eye unnerved him, it wasn’t like her usual deadpan expression, the anguish shone through.

“Listen.. It.. really doesn’-“

“You don’t have to try and comfort me or anything. I’m used to disappointment, I’ll get over it.”

“Hey, I’m trying to-.. mm.” He caught himself becoming angry, but he wanted to fix this whole mess, after all, this was his doing.

“Sal.. Really wants to be your friend, he wants to see and talk to you again.” Ivy paused for a moment and turned around before taking a deep breath.

“I don’t know about that.”

“At least come to the Christmas party, everyone wants to see you.” She turned her head back to him, confused.

“Everyone? Who’s everyone?”

“Todd, Maple, Chug.. Ash.. and Sal.” She frowned and turned back.

“I don’t know if I can do that.”

“… Please? Just for a few minutes? Do it for him. He’s.. really torn up about you not being around.” Ivy’s heart thudded in her chest.

‘What the hell is going on? Is he actually begging me to show up? Is this another prank?’ Her fists clenched in her pockets.

“Do you promise that this isn’t some sort of elaborate prank to make me look like an asshole?” She tried not to growl out her words, the anxious nerves wrecking her insides. Larry wanted to be offended, but unfortunately, he knew exactly where she was coming from.

“I promise. All you gotta do is show up, say hi and catch up with people for a little bit, and you can leave. I’ll even cover for you if you say you’re tired or not feeling well.” She turned back around to make sure it was actually Larry Johnson talking to her.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Sal in the distance, who obviously had spotted her and increased his walking speed.

“Okay. Deal.” Larry gave a sigh of relief and relaxed his shoulders.

“Thanks Ivy.”

“Don’t mention it.” She muttered before disappearing quickly inside the building, just barely escaping Sal.

“Larry, was that Ivy?”

“Yeah.”

“Did she say anything? What’s going on?” Sal’s questions came out rapidly.

“Uh, nothing really. Something about an English test.” Sal looked at him for more answers but put his head down after a long few seconds.

“I see.” Larry patted Sal’s head to try and alleviate his sadness.

“Hey, she’ll come around.”

“I hope so.” The two went inside to hang out for a little while, Larry wanted to try and take Sal’s mind off of Ivy, hoping to cheer him up a little.

Ivy settled into bed early for a nap, or at least an attempt at one.

‘Do it for him.’ Larry’s words echoed in her head.

‘Why should I? He likes someone else, I’m not gonna expend my energy on some boy that doesn’t even like me back.’ Foul enraging thoughts filled her mind, and yet she cursed herself.

‘No, no, no. So what if he doesn’t like you back? He’s still your friend, he clearly likes being around you and the others have been nice. If Larry went out of his way to beg for them, then.. then..’ She tossed and turned in her bed, waffling over going to the party or not. She buried her face in her pillow and screamed.

Then, a strange voice in her head spoke to her.

‘You should go sweetheart, the poor boy is heartbroken.’ It wasn’t the little girl voice, it was more adult and motherly. She looked up to see if Miriam was talking to her, but nothing. A chill went up her spine.

‘I need to sleep. I’m going crazy.’

Chapter Text

Ivy POV

It’s peculiar how you can stare at something inanimate for so long until it changes shape. Even your posters seem to change expression. If my Vampira poster started talking to me, I would’ve expected it at this point.

It’s all static.

My body’s becoming waves.

Wait.. There’s a hand, someone’s talking.

“IVY!!” I didn’t realize my mother had come in, or how long she’d been trying to catch my attention. She looked terrified.

“Honey, what’s wrong?!”

“…. Nothing, mother.”

“Don’t lie to me, you’ve been staring at the wall for days now.” Days?

“… What day is it?”

“It’s Wednesday.”

Oh. I’ve been in here for 5 days. I guess that’s a long time to stare at the wall.

That couldn’t have been all I did… Could it?

“Ivy dear, you haven’t been hanging out with your friends or anything. Did something happen?”

Did something happen? I don’t know. I just want to stare at my wall in peace.

“I don’t think so.”

“When’s the last time you’ve eaten?”

Good question. It’s Wednesday.. so..

“I haven’t been very hungry.” I could sense the worry radiating off her, I want to tell her, I want to be upset with her.. But, I can’t feel anything..

“I don’t think I like this medication.” I mumbled, not taking my eyes off the wall. Mom sat next to me on the ground.

“What’s wrong with it?”

I mean.. is it wrong to not feel anything? All I ever feel is anger and misery, so is it really that bad?

“I can’t.. Feel.”

“What do you mean?”

“I just.. don’t feel anything.” She put an arm around me, trying to pull me closer to her.

“Do you want to try a different one? It’s been a while since you changed to this one, maybe it’s time to find something else.”

“I don’t know.”

“When was the last time you took it?”

“…… I don’t remember. I feel like I took it today, but I could also be remembering another time I took it.”

“It only works if you take it. Have you been marking your calendar?” I glanced at the mini calendar on my nightstand. I haven’t marked it since the end of November.

“Not as well as I should have been.” She just hugged me for a few minutes. I could always stand her hugs, they were always so warm and inviting. She was one of the first people that could touch me without my skin trying to melt off.

“I’ll tell you what kiddo, why don’t you come with me to the store? Get you out of the house, I’ll even let you play one of your CD’s.” Mom didn’t care too much for my music, and I didn’t want to subject her to it, I’d just wallow more in my misery.

“Can we play dad’s music instead?”

“What’s wrong with my music?”

“No offense mom but I don’t think I can handle anymore Debbie Gibson.”

“Hater.”

I love my mom so much, I’m glad to have her.

I started to feel a little better when we were halfway there, mom let me play his Red Hot Chili Peppers CD. It didn’t seem like anything I’d listen to but whenever I did get to hang out with my dad, this is the kind of music he likes.

Dad’s from California and you wouldn’t be able to guess it at first glance but according to mom, he was a bit of a bad boy before he decided he liked computers. Mom was a well to do kinda girl from upstate New York that liked Madonna and Donna Summer.

They met when he started going to college in Albany. Love at first sight apparently. Married after a year of knowing eachother.

Seeing them all lovey dovey after all these years makes me wanna barf sometimes, but I’m really glad to have a set of parents that actually like being around each other and can function like normal people.

We got to the grocery store and as soon as we passed the baking aisle, I remembered that I wanted to make cupcakes for the party.

“Hey mom, do I have any allowance left for this month?”

---------

Ivy spent the next day prepping her dessert for the party, hoping that everyone would enjoy them and that it would satiate them for her not being there for too long, and also that Larry would follow through on his offer to cover for her when she decided to dip.

‘Take me out tonight
because I want to see people and I
want to see life’

She resisted the urge to sway to The Smith’s as she carefully piped the frosting on her cupcakes. She had made chocolate cupcakes with fudge frosting, which were decorated with a white chocolate holly and dusted with icing sugar.

“Ooooooh, my little Martha Stewart. Can I have one?” Her mom bounced in anticipation.

“You’re lucky I had the presence of mind to make one for both you and dad, I knew you couldn’t resist.”

“You hardly bake anymore! Hell yes, I’m gonna have one!”

“Alright alright.” She picked up one of her finished ones and presented it to her.

“Knock yourself out.” Miriam gladly took the little cake and shoved the whole thing in her mouth, shocking Ivy as they were decent sized.

“Does dad know you do that?”

The evening came quicker than she realized, and she got ready in a flash. Nothing too fancy, just a black sweater with white stars and a black skirt and stockings. Before she could leave, her mom came in the room.

“Wait wait, I got something for you.” She held in her hand a little headband with a black bow on it.

“A little juvenile, isn’t it?” She said as she took it out of her mothers hand and put in on, admiring herself in the mirror.

“There, now you’re the gift that keeps on giving.” She hadn’t worn bows or ribbons since she was a toddler.

It looked nice though.

“Thanks mom.” She grabbed her tray of cupcakes and carefully headed down to Larry’s apartment using the key card he gave her that morning.

It was strange approaching him on her own, they’ve never hung out or had an entirely pleasant conversation. Even her asking for details was short and concise.

In the elevator, she grew increasingly pensive. The idea of seeing Sal was troubling, and the fact that Ash would be there as well only made the pit in her stomach deeper.

She began to regret the agreement her and Larry made, but her body automatically headed towards his door and knocked, the sounds of laughter and joy hopefully muffling the noise so she could say she tried and walked away.

‘It’s not too late, I can just leave the tray and bolt.’ Just as she started to bend down to leave it, Larry opened the door and was almost surprised to see her.

“Oh good, you made it.” She gave a stiff nod and tried to calm her breathing.

“Come on, you’re almost there.” He whispered. Slowly, she managed to walk a few steps in.

“Hey guys, Ivy’s here.” Everyone turned and greeted her, but all she could do was stare and tremble. Larry tried to save the situation by taking the tray from her.

“Here, I got this. Now go say hi.” It was alarming how accommodating he was being, she was positive at this point that this was a well formulated prank, but when she saw how eager the rest of the group was to see her, she felt compelled to keep up her obligation to Larry.

“Ivy, girl, we still need to do that slumber party.” Maple came forward and lead her to the couch, immediately gabbing about whatever had been going on at school and so on. Ash came and joined them, sitting on the other side of Ivy, effectively trapping her between the two.

She did her best to maintain her composure, it wasn’t like she could ignore Ash forever.

‘Of course he likes her, she’s so pretty and sweet, and she has always been nice to me. I hate feeling this way.. You’re a lucky girl, Ash.’ She responded and was polite to Ash, trying her best to diffuse the ill thoughts in her mind, but she saw Sal sitting across the room. Not particularly staring but possibly just looking in their direction.

He didn’t really greet her when she came in, a small wave but otherwise kept to himself.

Ivy’s mouth went dry when they made eye contact for a moment, she looked away and tried to return to whatever conversation her, Maple and Ash were having.

“FUCK!!” Larry slammed his fist on the counter, startling everyone.

“What’s wrong?” Todd asked. Larry held out a cupcake with a bite taken out of it.

“Did you make these?!” Ivy stood up, worried that she left something in or they came out bad.

“Ye-Yeah, why? Are they bad?”

“No, they’re fucking delicious!!” He shouted, bits of cake flying out of his mouth. Ivy’s face twisted up in confusion.

“Why are you upset about that?!” Everyone broke out in laughter.

“I wanna try!” Ash shot up from the couch and nabbed one.

“Oh my god, these are great! You guys better get one before I eat them all.” Everyone else filed in line, Ivy stepped off to the side and watched as everyone happily munched on her dessert, lauding her with compliments and making her blush furiously. She’d never made desserts for anyone other than her parents, and seeing it turn out well in a different social setting was a shock to her.

She watched as Ash took one and brought it to Sal, who was still sitting on the other side. He gladly took it, turned around out of view to unbuckle his mask and shoved the cake in his mouth. Ivy fidgeted, worrying that he wouldn’t like it.

“Wow, you’re right, these are good.” He said quietly, after buckling his prosthetic back on.

“Consider it your birthday cake since we all dropped the ball on that.” Ash teased.

“Birthday?” Ivy said, not realized she said it out loud.

“Ah, yeah, my birthday was this week, so we just did like a birthday/Christmas combo party.” Her shoulders dropped.

“Oh.. I’m sorry. Happy belated birthday. I would have made you a whole cake if.. I’d..” She trailed off, feeling worse and worse by the second.

“It’s okay Ivy, this will do just fine.” Ash looked over and saw Ivy crumple internally. She looked at the ground and rubbed her hands nervously. Larry happened to look over as well, seeing that Ash was standing next to Sal and Ivy looking like a nervous wreck. He tried to go in and save the situation.

“Do you need to go?” His whispered to her, she nodded.

“I know you got up early to make them, I’ll bring the tray to you later.” He said loudly enough for Sal to hear.

“Yeah, thanks Larry.” She made her way over to the door.

“You’re leaving? You just got here!” Maple whined.

“I’m sorry, I’m just really tired. I got up really early to make the cupcakes, I’m glad you liked them.”

“You got up early? But the box kind only takes an hour, right?”

“Box? I made those from scratch, frosting and all.” She wasn’t gloating, but she might as well have been.

“What? You’re lying.” Maple feigned disbelief.

“Are you some kind of dessert fairy? Can you make my birthday cake?” Asked Chug.

“For real, I mean, she made Larry pissed off with how tasty they were.” Said Todd, mostly everyone giggled.

Ash leaned into Sal’s ear and whispered.

“Go walk her upstairs.” Ivy looked over just in time to see Ash talking in Sal’s ear and hastened her exit.

“Anyway, I gotta go. I’ll see you guys later.” Her hand touched the doorknob just as Sal ran up to her.

“Wait, I’ll walk you!” Ivy heard his voice and almost sprinted out, but at the risk of making a scene, she tried to deter him nicely.

“You don’t have to do that.”

“I-I insist!” She gave a quick glance to Larry who gave her a subtle nod.

“Alright. Goodnight guys.” She waved to everyone who bid her goodnight, rushing out before Ash gave a thumbs up to Maple, a small event that Larry noticed but said nothing about.

They came up to the elevator and pressed the button. She avoided making any sort of eye contact with him.

“I’m really glad you made it. I was hoping to see you tonight.”

“It was no trouble. However, I am sorry that I missed your birthday.”

“It’s okay. I’m just.. really happy I got to see you.” The elevator dinged as the doors opened, her heart pounded as his words sank in.

‘He likes someone else, don’t get attached. He’s just a friend that’s really nice, do NOT get attached.’

The doors closed but Sal didn’t push any buttons, just looked at the floor. She almost reached to the panel until she heard him trying to talk.

“Did.. Did I do something?” He asked, his voice wavering.

“What?”

“Did I do something to upset you?” She knew this conversation was coming, but why did it have to be now?

“No, you didn’t.”

“Then.. why did you avoid me for weeks? If I did something that hurt your feelings, please, tell me so I don’t mess up again. I wanna fix this.” He still looked at the ground, flexing his toes in his shoes.

“It.. wasn’t anything you did. I just.. had something going on with me. I didn’t want to make it yours or anyone else’s problem.”

‘You’re a terrible fucking liar.’ She scolded herself.

“Ivy, you’re my friend. You can always come to me if something is bothering you.”

‘Yeah, how exactly do I say you’re the one who’s bothering me?’ She tried to drown her thoughts.

“I didn’t wanna burden you.”

“You could never burden me.” She dug her nails into her arms, she wanted so badly to just tell him the truth, but she still believed it would end poorly. She kept her mouth shut but her body visibly shook.

He saw that she was uncomfortable and pressed the button for the 4th floor.

“I’m sorry, I’m trapping you in this elevator to talk to me and all I’m doing is upsetting you.” He continued to look at the floor until the doors dinged again. They stepped out but Ivy stopped before they turned for her door and whispered “I’m sorry”, trying not to break down again.

“Why?”

“Because.. I made you feel like you did something wrong when the problem is me.”

“Ivy..”

“I’ve never had friends before and I’m already messing it up so badly.”

“You’re not messing it up, I promise. Just.. be yourself.”

“That’s the worst thing I can be.”

“Nonsense, I think you’re wonderful.”

“… Really?”

“I like hanging out with you, you’re really funny and interesting. And.. I.. missed you.” Sal clenched his fists in his pockets, trying not to let too much of his feelings spill out all at once.

“… I missed you too, Sal.”

“Can I hug you?” He spat out, not thinking. She thought on it for a few seconds. She dreaded touch, but, if she could feel anything else right now..

“Okay.” She uncrossed her arms, he rushed in and wrapped his arms around her. Her chest felt heavy and her insides spun around. The sensation was agitating, but yet.. it felt warm.

She gripped onto his shirt and tried to contain the tears that wanted to spill out of her face. It was a long hug, the longest she’d ever had.

As much as her skin wanted to crawl off of her, she never wanted it to end. Neither Sal or Ivy would noticed the smile that almost happened, just a small curl of her lips.

‘God damn it Sal Fisher, stop making me fall for you.’