Furious, she slammed through the backstage door out into the parking lot. Twin streaks of black were running down her cheeks, and she angrily brushed them aside with the sleeve of her long black leather trench coat. Rage, futile anger and despair were all she could focus on, and there wasn’t even anything left for words. The heels of her heavy combat boots made loud echoes off the asphalt as she stomped past rows of cars, focused on only making it to her own.

The shiny black BMW had been a gift for her 16th birthday, one her father was exceptionally pleased with. Truth be told, she was quite happy with it herself, as it seamlessly blended graceful elegance with the power and speed of other cars kids her age drooled over. She fumbled with the keys, dropping them on the pavement when they snagged coming out of her pocket. She stamped her foot, turned her head skyward and cursed whatever gods would hear. Taking a breath, she scooped them up and found the one she sought. The wood trimmed interior welcomed her as she opened the doors and slid inside, pulling the drivers door shut. Retaining some presence of mind, she locked the door and slipped the key into the ignition.

Then, and only then, did she allow herself to truly start to break down.

Her tears fell freely, and she couldn’t stop them. It was the grandest betrayal to her thus far, and struck her notions of truth and honesty and tossed them right out the window. She couldn’t believe how shocking it was, and yet – half of her expected this should have happened earlier. She started to regain control of her sorrow, pushing it aside to focus on the details, and gave way to her vastly growing hatred. She wiped her eyes one final time, not caring about her makeup, and started the car.

Whipping through the parking lot of ‘The Main Stage’ as the rain came down, Genevieve blinked tears out of stinging eyes as she despaired. “I can’t believe that asshole! What in the hell was he thinking!” Visions of the encounter replayed themselves; stuck in that trap she called a mind, letting her relive her own shock again and again. “Never again! Never another like him! Never!” she swore into her own mind, spinning the wheel quickly onto the straightaway to leave the lot and head back home. “Home… I’m going home, and I’m going to get that bastard, I swear!” She floored the accelerator, and the brand-new BMW responded instantly, zipping her down the lot and towards the gates and home.

About one hundred feet away, a large black van pulled out in front of her. Swearing, Gen hit the brakes, but it was far too late. She hit the van in the side, hard enough for her to shoot forward and bang her head on the steering wheel. Glass shattered all around her, and she felt dizzy. Trying to shake it off, she somehow put the car in park and turned the engine off, then collapsed into the seat. “Oh Gen, how stupid of you… get a hold of yourself.” she thought to herself, knowing the whole thing was going to reflect badly on her, not to mention disappoint her father…

Struggling to remain conscious, she turned her head and made her eyes focus on one of the men approaching, probably the driver of the van. “I’m so sorry…” she whispered, her voice faint above the other noise. The man must have heard something as he approached, and casually took a gloved hand to knock some of the glass away from her door. He ducked and peered in at her, and she was about to ask for him to call for an ambulance, when the glove slipped over her mouth. Her nostrils flared as she struggled for breath, and she gagged on the smell coming off those gloves… a smell like…

Her eyes flared wide in horror as the man continued to smile, raising his right hand, which held a dripping syringe, and plunged it into her neck. Any other thoughts she might have had slipped away, and the world went white.

Part One

It is interesting, looking back now, how much things have changed. I was just a normal girl, looking forward to a normal life. No huge suprises would be mine, and the rest of my path was mine to choose. Was I happier then than now? Not knowing the horrors humans inflict upon themselves, oblivious to the secret evils that lurk in the darkest shadows?

No, I cannot believe I was.

I've always aspired to know all I could, even just for the sake of knowing itself. I used to live life like any other teen, just for the sheer thrill of being alive. Maybe that is where I mis-stepped, trusting in those I shouldn't have. But how was I to know that then? Experience is a brutal teacher certainly, but without having friends back then, would I have had the friends I do now? If not for the betrayals I faced then, would I have forged the trusts I have now?

The answer eludes me, for the path my life took led me here, to the Academy, and to the friends I have now. Surely my life could have played itself out differently had I not been what I am now… but I suppose such thoughts just lead to spiraling madness if pursued. My life, myself, they are what they are.

And I wouldn't change them for the world.

-Genevieve Spettro

Chapter 1

“I’ve thought about it, and I suppose it’s reasonable to let you go. However.” The deep voice belonged to her father, and his tone was always a clear indicator of what mood he was in. “However, I feel that we should establish a curfew. You’re only fifteen, so I believe we’ll start with midnight, seeing as how you prefer the nightlife so.” he said with a small grin. As he leaned against his desk in his usual lecturing pose, Genevieve still thought him one of the most devastatingly handsome men she’d ever seen, and she loved everything about her father.

His black hair, now starting to get streaks of grey, was cut a bit long for professional tastes, but he was his own boss, and loved the style regardless. His chiseled features gave him a strong nose and square jaw line, one that was covered in salt-and-pepper colored stubble already, though she knew he’d shaved this morning as he did every morning. The olive dark skin and black hair only accentuated his Italian features. A tan suit displayed his broad shoulders and athletic frame, one hard earned from living a life on the go and still getting out to pursue his hobbies. He stood there, the top button on his shirt undone since he’d gotten home and done away with the tie, and Genevieve couldn’t help but think he could have been some kind of male model, had he chosen a different path. But beneath the veneer was the mind that captivated her, the one thing that really brought them together. Her father’s intelligence was astounding, and years spent in courtrooms and elsewhere had given him a broad range of topics and information that allowed him to merge seamlessly into any conversation. He was a great negotiator, when he tried. Like he was now.

She could barely contain her joy at this newest surprise. “Oh father, thank you!” She said, leaping up out of her chair to grab him in a big hug. Heck, she figured he’d have started the negotiations with a ten o’clock curfew, and she’d been totally prepared to argue about how everything she liked to do started late enough as is. It was enough trouble to see a concert that started at eight or nine without adding to the fact that she’d have to miss half because she’d have to turn around and go home. Add to that fact most of her friends didn’t have cars yet, and it was a problem she was happy not to have.

She spun and dashed off down the hall. Victor called out after his daughter, "Home by midnight I said! And don't be late for practice, you have thirty minutes!" his tone utterly serious. Gen knew the stern routine, but practice was one of the few things she'd never be late for. "Got it!" she yelled back, heading to her room to call her best friend Jeri Madeline Desanti, another girl who started life among the regular working class, and consequently, the only one Gen felt she could relate to.

Finally hitting her room, she didn't bother to close the door; she and her father held few secrets from each other, it was just easier after all, wasn't it? Hopping onto the bed, she reached over to the nightstand for her phone. It was a privilege she had and enjoyed, having her own phone line, and one she made use of regularly. She hit and held the '2' key for a moment, then stared at the ceiling while she waited for Jeri to answer.


"So, you have spoken to your friend then, yes?" Victor Spettro asked his daughter as she finished putting on the fencing gear. He stood at ease in his own white suit, the rapier he fancied reversed in his grip to face the point behind him as he waited. He shook his head as he continued. "I swear by all the God's Graces, she will get you into trouble sooner or later. Mischievous, that one."

"Oh father, you just think that because she has red hair." Gen said, her tone light. "I assure you, Jeri is as fine a friend as any I've ever known. Besides, it's not like I don't have my own mind." Finished with her own outfit, she set about stretching her limbs, rotating her shoulders and shaking some blood into her limbs. "What's it to be this time?" she queried, as her father and she often used such sparring matches to settle disputes, or work as motivation for whatever personal rewards they wished to acquire. Of course, since technically it was her father's money, he could very well buy or not buy whatever he wished, but he enjoyed their time together enough to see the value in such a system, and adhered to the rules as well as she did.

"Hmm… let us see then. Yes, I suppose there was this suit I had fancied the other day. It was, I think…" he paused, pretending to consider. "Five hundred. Pretty cheap, truly." He flashed a dazzling smile as he hefted his weapon into a salute posture. "What do you say? Two for three?"

Genevieve snorted as she took her rapier from the wall mount, twirling it easily to loosen her wrist. "The expression is 'two out of three', and yes, I would love a shopping spree." She let a small grin slide on to her face. "The timing is only too convenient." Her voice dropped into a silken whisper at the last, as she set her fencing mask in place. Whipping her rapier up in her own salute, she casually eased into her stance, her eyes fixated upon her father doing the same.

Faster then her eyes could follow, her father's rapier tapped hers once, twice, in rapid succession, instantly putting her back a step and on the defensive. "You speak in rhymes my daughter. Do not think to distract me lest you distract yourself." he teased, still standing in the same spot he'd started in.

Gen muttered something under her breath, though almost even as she started she thought better of finishing the phrase in front of her father. Twirling the rapier again, she stepped forward and snapped back into her starting stance. "Sorry. I keep thinking of Jeri pestering me about going to Sean's party tomorrow night." She knew the distraction would be momentary at best, even as she tapped, rolled into a riposte, and found herself with just a short lunge to her mark.

Victor Spettro chuckled. "You know that boy is trouble, and I've told you his father is worse. Why must you be involved with anyone who seeks such dire company, I wonder?" As he reset his guard, she came on quick. He beat down her furious lunge easily, nearly slapping the sword from her grip as he stepped inside of her reach, and tapped her head with the hilt of his own weapon. "You stumble into trouble too easily, I fear." he whispered, his tone grim.

Frustrated at the ease he displayed in beating her so readily, Genevieve stood silently, and awaited the reset of their positions. She tried to calm herself, clear her mind, even as another part of her berated herself for her hasty attack. "Focus." she thought as she resettled her position. Her father stood opposite, and relaxed his own posture, his countenance grim.

She came forward with an overhead strike, which he parried easily, sweeping low. She met his blade there with her own, and the slapping metallic 'tings' rebounded off the walls as they continued. Step for step, move for move, it seemed each had finally found some focus as they fell into a familiar rhythm.

Genevieve left no room for doubt as she concentrated at the task at hand. She focused on each maneuver, trying to predict the next. Even as she parried, she put her sword on an intercept path for the next stroke, anticipating the pattern with uncanny accuracy. She had seen this particular routine before, and even as the feint high came in, she concentrated on sweeping it aside right at the hilt of her own blade. Her eyes narrowed, her mind set on the next move, she did not notice the peculiar flash of light that sent her father's eyes to the hilt in her hand…

She set her weight backward, and lunged forward, scoring a hit low under her father's blade. "Ah ha!" she shouted in triumph, glad to have drawn the second, decisive point. She pulled away from her father, who stood blinking at the exchange.

"I fear I grow too predictable, these days." he said, his voice sounding far away.

"To the victor go the spoils." Gen replied, pulling her face guard off and tucking it under an arm. She flipped the rapier into the air, catching the hilt deftly to present it to her father. "Do put the gear away, will you?" she asked, her tone polite as she narrowed her eyes, trying to figure her father's thoughts. "I must shower yet before I finish my homework…" she blinked once at him, then stood a moment longer. "Are you alright, father?"

"Yes." he said quickly, snapping out of whatever reverie had entranced him. "I'm fine. Go ahead, I'll clean up." he stated simply, taking her sword and helmet as he turned toward the wall where their blades were kept. She stopped him with a hand on his chest and quickly stepped up on the tips of her toes to plant a kiss on his cheek before she went for the stairs.

"Alright then. Goodnight, if I do not see you this evening. Remember I'll be out late tomorrow night." She spun and headed back upstairs to shower, leaving her father to wonder if he was really losing his edge… or if there were truly something else that captured his attention.

Shaking his head again as he replaced the blades, Victor replayed the steps of the exchange in his mind. Surely, it was just some trick of the light that captured his attention, allowing his daughter to slip past his guard. Just some fluke. He didn't honestly think it was 'old age' yet, for he felt very much in his prime. Just a trick of the light then.

"Surely." he muttered under his breath as he turned and headed for the stairs himself, banishing the other, darker thoughts from his mind.


Chapter 2

"It's going to be the show of the year!" Jeri exclaimed happily, perched on a chair in Genevieve's room. "I mean, it's just local band status, but around here, that means they have a real shot, right?" Looking to her friend for some assurance, she noted Gen keeping her face carefully neutral. "Right?" Jeri asked again, her voice cracking a little, looking for some sign that her friend shared her excitement. She found none, until a stray touch of a smile caused Gen's lips to twitch at the corner. "Oh you!" Jeri said, reaching for a stray pillow at the foot of the bed and hurling it at her friend sitting atop it. As Gen snapped a hand into the air to deflect the stuffed missile, she burst out into laughter.

"You should have seen your face! So tragic!" Gen joked as Jeri mocked anger, which abruptly turned into a fit of giggles. "Show of the year or not, I'm wondering if your enthusiasm isn't colored by some ah, empathy… towards one of the members of the band, perhaps?" Genevieve asked with a tilt of her head and a sly smile. "I've seen the way you two look at each other… even while he's onstage and you're on the floor." she teased. "Swaying back and forth in those tight, leather pants…"

"Stop!" Jeri shouted, her embarrassed face breaking into a full on blush. "He's… David's just a really nice guy. That's all there is to it."

"Uh huh." Gen nodded knowingly, her smirk still plastered on her face. "Well, he's just a really nice guy then. Who happens to look good in leather pants. Maybe I'll just ask him out…" she said, her voice trailing.

"You wouldn't dare!" Jeri said, her embarrassment turning to a mixture of horror and shock.

"…for you." Gen finished, her grin breaking wide open.

"Oh you're horrible!" Jeri said in mock anger, reaching for another pillow that was promptly snatched away. As the pair erupted into another fit of giggling, Jeri took a breath to compose herself, and turned to regard Genevieve seriously. "Do you think he's really that interested in me? I suppose I could ask him to Sean's party tomorrow night. You are going, aren't you?" she asked quickly, seeing Gen's face quickly turn sour.

"You know, I would rather not." Genevieve replied, her voice carefully monotone. The Sean in question was Sean Bartelli, commonly known around school as 'Beaner' for his uncanny knack of selling whatever drug was currently in fashion. Genevieve had a personal problem with Sean, going back to the time Jeri had introduced the two. He was a stereotype of the scene, smooth talking and good looking, but completely full of himself. Add that to the fact that he sold drugs, and it added up to someone Gen would rather not be associated with at all. And given his father's ambiguous criminal ties… "After all," Gen thought, "where else would he get those drugs he sells so readily?" She knew her father didn't approve, though he rarely forbade. And truly, she didn't approve either… but it was were all the popular kids would be, and she was counted amongst them, so she would be expected to attend.

She hated being popular. It was so… restricting.

Looking at Jeri's face though, it was hard for her to deny her best friend. She knew that Jeri would need moral support to go, and moreso to face David and talk to him, were they ever to date. "Geez, couldn't we just wait until they play another club or something? Why do they have to play at Sean's house party anyway?" Meeting Jeri's anxious blue eyes with her own grey-green orbs, she dropped her head and sighed. This was a battle she couldn't win, not while being a true friend.

"Oh fine." Genevieve sighed, as Jeri crowed in delight. "But! If we're going, we'll need something to wear."


The mall was busy with shoppers this afternoon. Summer was drawing to a close, and now all the sales were for the skimpier clothes that made the humidity off the lake more bearable. Jeri pulled Genevieve through the attending shoppers with ease, the pair weaving in and out of the more trendy stores with a practiced pace that belayed their knowledge of the building. Jeri kept fretting over various dresses, as she tried to find one that she felt would impress David, of course. Gen kept her thoughts to herself in that regard, only mentally rolling her eyes as each new store presented several more options Jeri simply 'Had To' try on.

"What about this one?" Jeri asked, doing a little twirl in front of a full length mirror. As the question was the same one she had asked some fifty times already, Genevieve replied without even looking over. "Yes, that's a good one." she stated with disinterest as she moved over to look at a purple silk blouse. Shopping like this was actually something Genevieve didn't do often without Jeri, since she had always been direct and fairly simplistic in her tastes. She currently favored this particular blouse though, the solid royal purple catching her attention. Gen moved to another nearby rack, and grabbed up a black halter top to wear under it, and then proceeded to the other side of the store to select a pair of black slacks to complete the ensemble. Moving over to the changing room to try it all on, she caught Jeri tossing her a look of disdain.

"Geez girl, and here I thought you might just pick something a bit different." Jeri said with a flippant tone, gesturing at the white pullover blouse with black leggings Gen was currently wearing. "I mean, we're going to a party… you should look like you're going to have fun." She turned back to the mirror then and flipped her scarlet hair back, twisting to see the back of her latest dress, a yellow number with some ivy pattern.

"What? I look good in solid colors." Gen said automatically. This was an old conversation for them, and each knew the steps as well as they knew each other. "Besides," Genevieve began, "I'm not the one that's trying to impress some guy I've been fawning over for months." She put a hand to her chest, while looking at Jeri's reflection in the mirror. "Oh David, how handsome you look tonight! And look at this pretty dress I picked just for you! It comes off so easily…" she said in a high-pitched mockery of Jeri's own voice, giggling when the other girl flashed a look of irritation. "Of course you're the best bassist ever, with those magic fingers of yours…" As Jeri quickly bent and picked up an abandoned hangar to throw, Genevieve darted quickly into one of the stalls, closing the door just in time to hear the hangar bounce off and clatter harmlessly to the floor.

"You're so mean Gen!" Jeri shouted, her tone light despite it. Genevieve could only laugh, loudly, about the whole thing, and soon heard Jeri's suppressed giggling coming from outside the changing stall. "Well fine then, you be that way. But hurry up, I think I'm going to buy this one for tonight, and there's still another store I wanna hit before we head home." Genevieve heard the door next to her's close, and some scrambling around behind it.

With a sigh, Gen replied "Yeah yeah yeah." as she quickly stripped down and hopped into the slacks. The halter top went on easily, and the purple blouse, though a button down, went right over her head and on. She paused to take a quick look in the little mirror the stall held, and found nothing out of the ordinary with the outfit, judging it satisfactory for her purposes. She leaned in closer though, and took another look at the stark contrast between the bold colors and her own skin tone, which did seem slightly paler then normal. "Hey Jeri, do I look kinda… I dunno, sick to you?" Gen asked, before shrugging out of the outfit and donning her previous clothes.

"Sick?" came the reply, followed by the sound of the stall door opening. "I don't think so. You don't seem sick at least, just a bit pale. I figured you were skipping the tanning beds lately." There was a pause, and then she announced, "I'm going to the register, meet ya out there kay?"

Gen mumbled something noncommittally and finished putting her new clothes haphazardly back on their hangars. She paid a bit of attention to her hands as she did so, trying to remember the last time her skin didn't hold that olive-dark pigment her father's genes had blessed her with. Sure, she was a bit lighter then he was, but she assumed that was because her mother had been fair skinned. At least, from the pictures she'd been shown… not wanting to continue that train of thought, Genevieve took a breath and grabbed up her purchases, and headed out to the cashier.

"Come on slowpoke!" Jeri teased with a smirk, standing near the cashier with a bag in her hand. Gen stepped up the the counter and tossed her purchases up on it while the bored looking cashier scanned the tags. "So what, you wanna hit a tanning bed before we party tonight?" Jeri asked, deliberately not looking at Genevieve's purchase, already knowing there was no convincing her less-fashionable friend.

"Nah. I mean, it's already getting to be fall around here, so there's little point. Plus, it's not like I'm feeling sick or anything. Aside from the little bit of sleep I've been getting, I feel great." Genevieve dug in a pocket and pulled out a small collection of cards, handing one to the cashier. She took a glance at her watch as the cashier finished things up, and frowned. She was certain it was later then it said… "What time is it?" she asked the cashier.

"Quarter after three." came the automatic response as she passed the card back. "This day can't be over soon enough, and I just got here." she continued, as if the girls were sympathetic to her plight. "Here you go, thanks for shopping with us Ms. Spettro."

"Thanks." Gen replied as she grabbed her bag. Turning to walk out, she felt Jeri fall into place beside her.

"You should really get a new watch." she said, as if the thought hadn't already crossed Gen's mind.

"Hey, I happen to like this one. If it actually kept time, that would just be a huge plus." Genevieve replied with a sly grin. She spared the device another glance while they walked. It was solid silver, with some ornate weaving design encompassing the band. The face was reflective pearl, as where the two hands. The numeral display was traditional roman style, which she favored, especially since it threw other people off while they counted. She had always meant to get it fixed, ever since the week after she'd gotten from her father. The hands moved erratically, variously being too fast or too slow to keep actual time. Despite that fact, she thought the trinket beautiful, and refused to leave it behind.

"One more stop I suppose, then we can head home and get changed." came Jeri's voice, snapping Gen from her thoughts.

"One more stop? And just where would that be?" she asked.

"You'll see." Jeri replied, trying to act mysterious. She scrunched her freckled face into a silly grin, and stuck her tongue out.

Genevieve could only roll her eyes and follow.


It became evident as they approached that Jeri's selected destination was the commercial chain store for 'gothic' accessories. Blacklights and glowing posters hung in the windows, alongside fake plastic skulls, lava lamps, lightning balls, and various macabre trinkets generally reserved for Halloween. Genevieve thought the music blaring from the store was just a touch under 'too loud' as she entered, noticing that the few people shopping and working were all looking at her and Jeri like they didn't belong. Of course they didn't, and that was obvious just by comparison to the others.

Almost uniformly clad in black, many had piercings visible anywhere they could fit them. Most had heavy black makeup under their eyes on on their lips, though the cashier took it one step further and accentuated hers with a vibrant red, though it looked jagged and heavily applied. Her too-many-times-dyed hair looked like it held the texture of straw, and Genevieve counted no less then six different colors and blends in it, though it was mostly a sort of unnatural yellow. She also made zero effort to hide her sneer as she noticed Genevieve looking at her. Gen promptly looked elsewhere, not intimidated but not wishing to offend or cause and commotion. Why in the heck where they here?

For her part, Jeri ignored everyone around her, brilliantly oblivious to their disdain. She casually looked around the store, strolling past aisles of clothing with sarcastic catch-phrases and band logos from the various metal and punk scenes, casually stepping past the few people who happened to be wearing such clothes as they made an effort to get in her way. As Genevieve made her way over to her friend, Jeri finally found what she was looking for, on some twirling racks shining with silver.

"Hmm." she whispered, tapping a finger to her chin, a classic parody of thought. As Gen caught up to her, she took in the display and its contents with a glance.

"Jewelry." she huffed. "We came all the way over here so you could find some macabre earrings to try and impress some guy in a metal band? You are aware," she dropped the volume of her voice a bit, "that we're surrounded by people who really do not want us here. Could you at least make this quick?" Genevieve took a glance around, only to find that many eyes were still upon her. Completing her surveillance with a casual flip of her obsidian hair, she began to impatiently tap her foot - her nervousness only quickening the rhythm.

"Okay, okay, geez. And here I was thinking that being impulsive was a bad thing." Jeri said hurriedly, tossing Gen a wink as she selected a pair of silver skull studs.

"Being methodical takes time, and that's something I'd rather not tax here." Genevieve replied, knowing as well as Jeri this old argument, but willing to concede this once if it would get them out of the store more quickly. She turned and followed Jeri to the counter, not meeting the glaring eyes of the girl standing there. Jeri payed for the earrings with a smile like the sun, recieving nothing but a harsh glare from the attendant in return.

"Thank you uh," Jeri said hesitantly, drawing Gen's attention. The cashiers nametag read, "Morticia…" Jeri said haltingly, quickly gathering her small bag and retreating, Genevieve right beside her. Morticia only continued to glare at the pair as they hurried away.

"Yeah, that wasn't the least bit creepy." Gen said as they left the store and turned towards the doubled glass doors marking the mall's exit. "And the name? Morticia? Really?" she said sarcastically, rolling her eyes.

"Yeah." Jeri agreed. "Bet her real name is Sunny." she said in a conspiratorial whisper, leaning in towards Genevieve. Both girls giggled, hitting the doors simultaneously and stepping into the late afternoon sun to await Jeri's mother and a short car ride home.

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