"Boy, look at you, looking at me
I know you know how I feel
Loving you is hard, being here is harder
You take the wheel
I don't wanna do this anymore
It's so surreal, I can't survive
If this is all that's real." - Lana Del Rey, High By the Beach.

Courtney walked along the beach, surrounded by the sunset sky. The ocean soaked her feet and lapped around her toes. She was alone and admiring her freedom; no troubles were on her mind for once.

A faint whistle came from behind her. She stopped and looked around, wondering where it had come from. Seeing that no one was nearby, she continued walking, but had scarcely moved when she heard the same whistle again. She paused and had not even walked a step when it came a third time.

Courtney swiveled around with her arms lifted high. "Alright! Who's making that whistling noise?"

She nearly jumped out of her skin at a voice behind a rock. "It was me, sweetheart." A guy emerged, and Courtney noticed his piercings, tattoos, and mohawk instantly. He was not exactly her type, but something about his demeanor called her attention that she could not quite put her finger on.

"Sweetheart? I'm not your sweetheart," Courtney scoffed.

"Of course not." He swept her body with his eyes. "However, I can't help but wonder why someone as pretty as you is walking alone here."

Courtney crossed her arms over her chest. "Am I not allowed to take a walk by myself? What is it any of your business that I do?"

He gave a loose shrug. "Well, I'm just saying, you never know when someone might come over and kidnap you an-"

"Yeah, yeah, I get it. What about you? Come here to get high by the beach or something?"

The guy put a hand to his heart. "Excuse me, but just because I look like a punk doesn't mean I do drugs."

She squinted at him. "Do you do drugs?"

"No! I prefer to vandalize."

She rolled her eyes. "Not another bad thing to do, of course."

A smirk slid onto his face. "That makes two of us, sweetheart. You're alone right now, talking to a stranger who could easily overp-"

"I suggest you stop right there."

"I'm Duncan."

Courtney drew her eyebrows inward, lips parting. "What?"

"And you are?"

She considered her options for names- Joyce, Samantha, Elizabeth- then realized that she had been silent for too long. Duncan expected a lie. "Courtney."

Duncan scrutinized her momentarily. Once he had surmised that she was telling the truth, he sat down against the rock, putting his arms behind his head. "Fitting for a princess, in my humble opinion."

"I don't live in a fairy tale, thank you very much."

His eyes danced. "You sure about that?"

She made her expression rock-like. "I'm not going to respond to that."

"Looks like someone has anger issues."

"What?" Her arms went down in a fit. "I do not!"

He cackled. "Sheesh, can't you take a joke?"

Courtney's face turned bright red. She did not like being mocked, especially by this random teenager with an attitude. Before she could retaliate, Duncan spoke once more. "You need to lighten up a little. A lot, actually. Maybe you should stick with me."

She fired off a scoff. "And why would I do that?"

He smiled endearingly, and she turned her face away to keep thoughts from entering her mind. "If you stick with me, you'll have all sorts of fun that you'd never imagine possible."

All of Courtney's life, her parents had been strict. She had always wanted to be free and daring, but she could not do so with them around. However, she was an adult now, and she could not keep herself from thinking that maybe, just maybe, it was time for her to take matters into her own hands.

She kept silent while thinking, and Duncan pulled himself up on one knee. "Take it from my perspective. Do you wanna have fun, or do you wanna stay a giant stick in the mud?"

"Insulting me isn't gonna help," she snapped.

He put his hands up. "Just, stating the truth."

After a moment more of thinking, she looked at him with defeat. "You know, you might actually have a point. Maybe I should loosen up a little."

Duncan stood up with his arms out. "And the princess sees the light!" He slid in next to her and slung one arm around her shoulders. "You're gonna hate me for what I do at first, but you'll soon love it, trust me."

She pulled his arm down. "Well, you're going to have to work on the trust thing first."

Duncan proved true to his word. At the start, Courtney wanted to call him every insult in existence. However, Duncan understood how she worked and was always a step ahead of her. When he bought dark hair dye and put it on the bathroom counter of their apartment, Courtney was hesitant at first. "I don't know, Duncan..." she said, fingering her sun-bleached locks. "I like my hair the way it is."

"Well, I think you'll look great with dark and long hair, you know? And besides, if you don't like it, you can just change it back. No biggie."

"It's bad enough that you convinced me to move out of my parents' house. What if this makes them completely disown me?"

"Screw them if they do." He got on one knee and took her chin in his fingers, looking gently into her eyes. "This is your own personal decision, not theirs. Will you do it or not?"

A pause. Courtney closed her eyes and turned to the mirror. Without replying, she took the hair dye. Her light mocha hair was soon replaced with chocolate brown. When it dried, Courtney saw her reflection in the mirror and felt strong and proud in a way she had never felt before.

Several months passed, and Duncan's and Courtney's relationship blossomed. They started to do everything together and somehow, despite being polar opposites, made each other happy. Duncan even admitted that Courtney was the love of his life, making plans with her for the rest of their lives. It was an evening while they were laying together in bed when everything changed.

"Courtney, I've been thinking about this for a while... If I gave you something very important to me, would you take it?"

Courtney was struck silent for a moment by his words. "Oh... I don't know, Duncan. It would depend on what object. If it's any kind of piercing, yeah, no." They chuckled. "That's not what I'm into, but I'll take what you give me if it's in good taste."

"That's actually what I expected you to say, because I wanted to give you this." Duncan pulled out a small box and held it toward her. Courtney sat up and took the box, opening it gently. After pulling out the tissue paper inside, she saw a vintage brooch and ring.

Courtney let go of her breath. "Duncan, where did you get these?"

"They were my mom's. She passed them on to me from my grandma." He took a deep breath. "My mom used to be the joy of my life. I loved her over my dad for the longest time, but she died after I turned thirteen. My whole life changed. This is all that I have left of her."

Courtney swallowed and looked down. "I- I can't accept this, Duncan. This is too mu-"

"Courtney, if you're willing to be the new joy of my life, you'll accept it without any questions."

Courtney met Duncan's eyes staring at her intensely, and all thoughts of a reply vanished into thin air. She embraced Duncan and entered into fierce, passionate kissing with him. Out of necessity, they eventually broke from each other and gasped for air.

"So, I'm guessing you accept my gift?" Duncan said.

Courtney giggled, a rare sound from her. "Duh. Why else would I kiss you?"

"That's my girl," he chuckled. "Or, should I say, that's my princess."

"Are you ever going to stop calling me that?"

He grinned goofily. "I actually don't know. I like seeing your reaction."

"Whatever," she laughed, throwing a pillow at him.

"Hey! Watch the hair!" He threw a pillow at her back, and soon enough, they were engaged in a massive pillow fight, not caring about their hair in the slightest.

Despite that evening, Duncan's and Courtney's relationship soon spiraled. Courtney tried her best to salvage their relationship, but everything came crashing down the day that Courtney noticed the brooch and ring were missing. She closed the box they had been given to her in, her eyes wild. "Duncan! Where are the brooch and ring you gave me? They're not in my jewelry box!"

"What brooch and ring?" Duncan yawned on their bed. "I haven't seen anything like those lately."

"Haven't seen anything lately, my ass!" she yelled. "I know I'm not crazy! I'll tear this whole house up to find them!"

She strode out of the room, but Duncan stood up erect and marched after her. "That is it!" He grabbed her arm and began dragging her toward the door.

"Ouch! What are you doing?" She tried to wiggle out of Duncan's grasp, but he pulled her back.

He spun her around to face him, his eyes blazing. "It's over, Courtney! I can't stand this shit from you anymore! It's bad enough that you cling to me like a lost puppy, but now, you've gone completely nuts! I have better things to do than to listen to you nag all the fucking time!"

Courtney put her free hand on her hip, her gaze just as fiery. "Better things? Are you implying there's someone else in the picture?"

"I have, in fact! She's much better than you will ever be. We actually share the same interests instead of arguing over the tiniest differences. Oh, wait- that's just you."

"You can't do this to me!" Courtney cried. "I've done so much for you, and this is what I get? To be thrown out after giving up everything just for you?"

"Oh, Princess." The pet name no longer had any affection behind it. "Don't you know that life is too short for this crap? We're all born to die at some point. I need to live my life while I still have the chance." He opened the door. "Goodbye, Courtney."

"Duncan, wait, I-"

Duncan thrust her out and closed the door. She leaped back to open it, but discovered that she was too late- it was locked. She sat down on the ground and sobbed from the bottom of her heart, which had been torn apart.

Almost a year passed, and Courtney learned how to move on. She became the owner of a beach house, grew her hair out, and got a tattoo of the letter "M" on her hand; she was even a successful banker with a well-stocked company. However, her heart remained bitter when it came to Duncan. She had vowed to get revenge on him and his fling, whom she had learned was named Gwen, even if it ruined her.

She was on her balcony, wearing a floral dress with a mint green housecoat and scoping out her surroundings with a telescope, when she caught a flash of green hair. Feeling tingles all over her skin, she zoomed her telescope in closer on the hair and growled at what she saw: Duncan and Gwen making out. Her teeth grating together, she watched them until they rode a sail boat into the ocean, at which point the final rope she was at snapped inside of her.

"Time to show him who's the real man." Courtney ran inside her house and zoomed down her two flights of stairs. Racing onto the beach, she stopped at a black boulder and dug underneath it until she touched the top of a worn-out guitar case. "Aha! I knew I had this somewhere!" She dug the rest of it up and lifted it, getting back up. "Time to put this bad baby to use."

She ran back up the steps, tugging her housecoat as it got tangled on the railing, and opened the case on her balcony, pulling out a bazooka. She cocked it and aimed for the boat, about to come within range at any moment. Her hands sweated- her heart pounded. She knew there was no going back.

She fired.

The boat exploded in a ball of fire. Charred remains splashed into the water, human and otherwise. Slowly but surely, a smirk came to rest across Courtney's face. She had vanquished her enemies. Her life was over the way it was, but she could not care less- the ends justified the means to her, and she had achieved the justice she had desired. Feeling renewed and inspired, she wrote a small number of song lyrics to preserve what she considered to be the key moment of her life.

Everyone can start again
Not through love, but through revenge
Through the fire, we're born again
Peace by vengeance
Brings the end.

And with that, another awesome oneshot ends. I really liked Lana's High By The Beach since it just stood out to me and I was determined to make it into an awesome oneshot, which I did with some help from the amazing JojiMC, who was more than willing to help with editing and corrections! Again Joanne, thank you so much! I really love the work and dedication you put into this oneshot and it really paid off. I can't wait to send more pieces each way since I don't have to tell you that you do admire each uniqueness about the file I send. c:

So what do you all think happened to Courtney? Did she escape or was she sent to prison? The world may never know.

Until next time! Please read, review, favor, alert and spread the word.