hi all, just doing a little bit of sprucing up for all the chapters (if this isn't your first time reading it) - fixing some continuity errors, grammar, etc. nothing major or super noticeable (hopefully). most of these chapter notes will have disappeared or been moved to the bottom (again, continuity with the later chapters). happy reading!

Some nights, she stared at the ceiling blankly, thoughtlessly. Maybe study the few cracks or count how long it takes for her eyes to shadow over every single spec of paint sitting above her. But other nights, her heart would bang against her chest, and she would grip onto the cream sheets with sweaty hands, afraid the ceiling would fall onto her and bury her alive with dust. At night, the windows would have to be closed or else the wind found comfort in her curtains, and it almost sounded like people whispering to her. There was enough whispering shared about her in the past five years that would suffice for the next twenty, and while she was trying to fall into unconsciousness was not the time for more.

It wasn't that she heard voices in her head. That would be silly; she wasn't crazy (at least, that's what she tells herself whenever she gets the courage to look in the mirror.). Rather, it was her vices that led to the talk. The whispers. Though it has been months since she had come face-to-face with anyone, they were clear like her intentions while on the televised drama. And those were two things she didn't like to think about.

It became much easier once the paparazzi stopped sleeping outside of her house post-elimination. Unlike the first season where it took weeks before she could go outside without a disguise, it only took a few days. She was washed up like debris on dirty beaches and the tabloids had little time to fabricate headlines about how much they cared and sympathized with her. They always asked the same questions about the same people in the same situations. They didn't care for answers that disagreed with what the world saw.

A year or two ago an old contestant once pleaded to the interviewers, "You don't get to see everything! You don't understand why we act the way we do towards other people besides the basic conversation and stupid mistakes we made. Not everything is what it seems." They later ended up exploited for some rumor she could barely remember at this time. It was a little sad to see someone she knew tumbling down the same hill, but the two didn't talk, so she decided against reaching out.

Before, she would stay up all night and read news, catch up on her old teammates' drama outside of the television series. It wasn't really new to her, but it was still interesting to look over. Sometimes the scandals were so big they would ask a few contestants to be interviewed on morning talk shows and get their three stagnant opinions in. After World Tour, she stopped making appearances. A few months ago, she read that she was in the top five for the most sought-after contestants to be interviewed of all the contestants ever included in the Total Drama series. Alongside her included: Heather Chang, Duncan Wilde, Zoey Bunt, and Sugar Williams.

Most of those names made her stomach turn uncomfortably and she would have to lay on her side and stare at her wall instead of the ceiling. The levels of discomfort varied, but the feeling was the same. The only person who she was indifferent to was Sugar. The characterization showcased on her television reminded her of three previous contestants, two that were known as the bfffl's, or something along those lines. The other was a snake from his slithering tongue to his feet, and she got the benefit of figuring that out throughout the two seasons she sat beside him.

At first, she wasn't sure why she was on the list. Sure, she was one of the more popular contestants, but so were Noah and Owen. Even Gwen, as much as the thought made her melancholy (for several reasons). But the longer the list stayed on the internet, the more theories appeared answering her questions. People wanted to know. About the love triangle, about Scott, about Alejandro, about anything and everything that could make her squirm in her seat and plead to be asked the next question. The last time she accepted an invite to a daily talk show, it was when the romantic frustration between Gwen and Duncan was at an all-time high. The questions were blunt, brutal, and anything but broad in her personal life as well as her time on Total Drama Action's aftermath show. Back then she was still young and naïve, believing everyone had the best intentions for her outside of the show. That sail shipped once she was eliminated from World Tour, and she read what everyone was talking about. Her behavior, her antics, her messy love life between a punk and a goth - a world she didn't belong in. Though she naturally based everyone on first impressions and appearance, the few friendships she made with unexpected allies she cherished greatly. Yet, she had a bad way of showing it at times, and that flaw blew up in her face on multiple occasions on national - no, international tv.

Tonight, she pondered on all the old contestants she ever interacted with. It was June, so the only sound disrupting the silence of the night was her isolating fan. Her thoughts ran from Owen to Scott and back to Lindsay. For most of her time being in a crappy contract via Chris McLean, she didn't think about her actions and the consequences they would have on others. She also didn't think about how they would affect herself, which ended up being a leading cause to her own self-destruction on the show and back home. Now, she feels much more guilty about the trouble she caused. This could be because she no longer has any opportunity to win money through Chris. That being said, she likes to believe if she was ever given the opportunity to be invited to another competition reality show, she would happily decline and resort back to her hermit status in her apartment.

At times, she tries to avoid thinking about the people she hurt the most while competing, but they are so integrated in her past and present she can't help but let their names pass through her stream of consciousness. It makes her nervous, thinking about how long they will be itched into her mind. The guilt is there, and it will never go away. In a weird way, being a shutout from the world has opened her up a lot more to the way she feels. She usually ignores the sentimental things (with few exceptions) and emotional ties to people and places, but ever since she came back to her apartment, she has been learning a lot about herself. And also, in a twisted way, she misses the island. Not the abandoned film lot, and definitely not the plane. The original twenty-two kids just wanting to win a hundred thousand dollars and spending a summer together on a weird island with crappy living areas and even crappier food. They were all so innocent - well, mostly. She didn't hurt people then. She didn't throw challenges for revenge or break hearts with hatred. She was just -.

Suddenly, there is a vibrating sound coming from next to her. Confused, she blindly reaches for her phone buzzing on her bedside table. Tugging it off of its charger, she makes a mental reminder to stop leaving it charging all night because it makes the battery die faster. Eyes squinting from the sudden light, she blinks to get used to the sudden light, then blinks again because of the name on the screen.

She sits up, tired, and checks the time on her phone reads 2:28am. Then, she slides her thumb across the screen and puts the phone to her ear. "Hello?" She asks. Almost immediately, she winces at the cracked sounds her voice creates. She hasn't talked in a couple days.

"Courtney!" A familiar voice greets on the phone. "I'm so glad you answered your phone, I feel like we haven't talked in forever!" The voice is light, bubbly, and calm. Everything Courtney wishes she could be.

"It's because we haven't talked in forever." There was no serious tone to match her words. Courtney naturally smiles at the blonde's voice. Then clears her throat. "How are you Bridge? Whatever it is must be important, given the time of the call."

"I'm doing great, amazing even!" Bridgette happily sighed over the phone. Courtney could imagine her now, sprawled out on her ocean blue comforter, cell phone in hand because her headphones are stuck inside her ears. Courtney remembered the times Bridgette had to buy new headphones because she always went through her pairs. "But I was up, and I couldn't go to sleep, and I remembered you told me you were having trouble sleeping too the last time we spoke. So, I thought, 'Hey, let's give Court a call!' and so I called you and here we are!"

Courtney leaned onto her bed frame. "If there is anything I know about you Bridgette, it's that you sleep very easily. Like, as soon as your head hits the pillow, you're asleep. Something must've happened for you to not only be awake right now, but to have called me."

Courtney tries to think back on her last conversation with Bridgette and realizes that was nearly two months ago. If she's still having trouble sleeping now, then it's obviously a problem. She doesn't really talk to anyone besides her few co-workers and her parents. Even back then, her and Bridgette's conversation was fluid like the waves her friend rides. There was something about the blonde that made Courtney smile and relax. Even now, as the friend was living an hour away, Courtney realized she missed someone she considered her best friend.

On the other side of the phone, there was some shuffling and a moment of silence. "Well," Bridgette sighs. "There is a reason why you're my best friend."

Courtney's heart nearly skipped a beat. If there was anything she wished the people at home could've seen during her time on Total Drama, it was her friendship with Bridgette. Despite being a part of different seasons and both going through heartbreak, they were always there for each other. Even after Courtney got lost in the flames of competition during World Tour, Bridgette was still there for her. And this may seem a little biased, but Courtney didn't attack Bridgette when she cheated on Geoff with Alejandro. Of course, she told her it was wrong, and she has to get Geoff to forgive her, but Courtney never treated her the way she treated Gwen after that entire fiasco.

The first time Courtney brought anyone home to meet her parents from the show, it was Bridgette. Everyone assumes it was Duncan, because that was her boyfriend. Courtney was so nervous she nearly dropped the dessert after the main course was served. Bridgette was as cool as she usually was, talking to Courtney's mother about her future plans and the possibility of being a marine biologist or starting a business creating surfboard for those who couldn't afford their own. When her father interjected about the finances to perform these dreams, Bridgette was honest and admitted she wasn't exactly sure yet, but she would find a way if it was meant to be.

Later that evening, while Bridgette was taking a shower, Courtney's parents gave their approval of her friendship with the beach babe, genuinely liking her. And even now, years later, they ask how she's doing or what she's been up to. There's usually a tone of disappointment when Courtney reveals she hasn't talked to her friend in months.

Bridgette continues to talk. "So, I really need to meet up with you. Like, when is the best time and day? Can we meet in the middle? There's something I need to tell you, and it's better if we do it in person."

The Latina straightened up in her bed, noting the more serious tone of her friend. "Bridgette Harrington, I'm going to ask right now. Are you pregnant? And if you are -."

"No, Court, omg!" Bridgette squealed over the phone. Then, she laughed nervously. "I'm not pregnant. I promise. I feel like you would know if I was pregnant."

That is true. Courtney has been able to predict the times when Bridgette was sick or getting her period (but that could've been from spending time together), so it's only appropriate she would have a feeling something happened to Bridgette. The two of them have been like this since Action and through all the crap they went through their bond has unexpectedly gotten stronger. Behind all the cameras they talked, caught up on drama, and genuinely enjoyed each other's company.

"Okay, just checking." Courtney smiled. She really did miss Bridgette. "I'm off for the next two days, so any of the two days is fine by me."

"Perfect! Tomorrow then, let's meet at Rolley's around one!" Bridgette confirmed over the phone.

Rolley's was a small diner the duo would meet at occasionally to catch up as well as eat amazing, greasy food. Plus, they had great smoothies.

"Sounds good, Bridge." Courtney was actually really excited about tomorrow, now that she had an actual reason to get out of her apartment. On top of that, she was getting to see her best friend for the first time in months. She took her phone off her ear for a second to see what time it was. Her phone lit up a clear 2:40am.

Then, Bridgette uncharacteristically laughed in an uncomfortable manner. "I'm glad that's settled." She agreed. Then, cleared her throat. "So," she started, "how about that reunion? Are you thinking about going?"

Courtney blinked. "What reunion?"

"Well," Bridgette began. She spoke slower, nervous about Courtney's reaction. "Y'know, the email we all got? They're having a huge reunion with all the contestants at the end of July - just the original cast throughout the first couple of seasons."

"Oh." Courtney said plainly. "I haven't checked my email in a week." She moved around in her bed.

Then, she shot up off of it.

"Wait, what?" She whispered-screamed. "There's a reunion?"

Bridgette sighed nervously over the phone. "Yeah?"

Courtney began to walk in her room. "Bridge, I can't go to that. I've burned too many bridges to go back into a room with people ready to stab me at any given moment." She paced, stricken with fear.

"But Court -."

Courtney's voice was uneven. "Bridgette, I barely sleep at night because of the horrors of that show, and especially my actions during it. Every single night, I stare at my ceiling; the guilt is literally eating me alive." This was the first time she ever expressed her true feelings about her presence on the show to anyone.

Before she could continue to ramble about her past, Bridgette immediately spoke out. "Courtney." Her voice was stricter, heavy. "Calm down. Don't freak yourself out."

The Latina gave a breathless laugh. "I've been doing that every night for months."

"Secondly," The Blonde continued, ignoring Courtney's comment, "I'm sorry I brought it up. How about we talk about it tomorrow? I want you to try and get some sleep tonight."

Courtney had such an unspoken appreciation for Bridgette. She has never said it aloud, of course, but she really did love how Bridgette's voice was so soothing it always calmed her down. She was Courtney's rock, even when she wasn't here. So, like her friend told her to do, she calmed down. Courtney took a deep breath over the phone and walked back into her room, sitting on her bed. "Okay." She spoke into the phone. "Okay, I'm good."

"I want you to get some sleep, Courtney. Okay? I'll see you tomorrow." Bridgette stayed on the line until Courtney told her goodnight, five minutes later. She hadn't really calmed down yet.

A few minutes later, Courtney went back to her original position: on her back, staring at her ceiling. Except, there were new fears crawling around in her mind. So, like some nights, she stared at her ceiling thoughtlessly.

hi everyone! I really have no clue where this is gonna go or how long this is gonna be but leave a review and let me know what you think! it's a little bit shorter, but that's because of the lack of dialogue and people in this chapter. It'll get longer the more people are involved. Anyways, I hoped you enjoyed the intro/chapter one! see you next time!