Same Hate To Love You, just updated and revamped. I'll be posting the first eight chapters as I edit them, and then I'll finally be updating with new chapters after that. If you were a fan of this fic the first time around (I started writing it in 2001), I hope you like the changes. I'd like to think I've become a much better writer since then. If you've never read it, and this is your first exposure, I hope you'll enjoy it now.
This is kind of an AU – same Cliffhangers, same issues. The only difference? Scott and Shelby went to school together, from kindergarten, onward. Their issues are still the same, and woven into that fabric. It shouldn't be too hard to follow, but if you have any questions, feel free to ask! And as always, reviews (good, bad, indifferent) are appreciated ;)
A petite blonde reclined on the buttery smooth leather couch between two football players, a thin, rolled cylinder hanging between her fingers. The paper glowed as she brought the joint towards her lips, inhaling sharply, her full lips refusing to part as she passed on the chemical joy to the boy on her right. The party was being held in honor of the school's football team, who'd just won the state championships for the second year in a row, the first time their school had won back to back titles in nearly twenty years. The girl, a far away look in her dark blue eyes, glanced sideways, part annoyed, part amused, as the boy on her left began to slide his hand under her green sweater and up her back. She pushed him away, delicate little fingers wrapping around his wrist as she moved to whisper in his ear, her lips nearly dancing along the lobe.
"I want the money up front"
The boy fumbled around in his pocket, before pulling out a rather thick wad of bills. He handed them to her quickly, and she let go of his wrist almost immediately. He then watched, anxious, as she counted them, her movements slow and deliberate, smoothing out each bill, her face devoid of any emotion. Finally, after what seemed to have been hours, weeks, months, her pink lips twisted into a seductive smirk. She folded the bills up, still slow and deliberate, and slipped them in the back pocket of her jeans. Standing up, she offered him her hand, which he eagerly accepted, and they disappeared upstairs. On the couch, the boy who'd been sitting on the right, pouting, sucking on his joint dejectedly.
A mere two minutes later, a tall boy with dirty blond hair and, a giggly, dirty blonde cheerleader on his arm made his grand entrance. He was greeted with a loud chorus of compliments, high fives, hand shakes, chest bumps, and pats on the back, as someone handed him a beer; the entire scene seemed surreal, like something out of a bad teen movie. But then again, you couldn't deny that his life was just that fantastic, perhaps even better than fiction. And now he'd elevated himself to god-like status. After all, he'd scored all three touchdowns in their dominant 21-0 victory. Who wouldn't call Scott Barringer a hero?
"Yo, Brad!" Scott called, making his way over to the expansive, expensive leather couch, where his friend Brad sat, a joint in hand, stoned as usual. Brad Richardson, the son of a wealthy real estate developer, appeared in the same position, the same state, at every party since Scott had met him early freshman year. He'd even been dubbed with the nickname "Old Reliable," because in a world of constant change – a revolving door of friends, girlfriends and luxury cars – you could be as sure as the sun rises that Brad would be stoned by 9pm. However, tonight, there was something off about the picture. "What, no girl? Christ, man, are you losin' your touch?" Scott joked, cracking open his beer, accepting the joint Brad handed him.
Brad rolled his eyes, pursing his lips together and presenting Scott with a single finger salute. "Fuck you, dude," he muttered, shaking his head back and forth for a few moments, tracing the stitching on one of the couch's accent pillows before he continued. "You know man, I was so fucking close to getting with Shelby until Mark started feeling her up. So fucking close dude," he continued, holding up his thumb and pointer finger, squeezing them together to emphasize his point. "But naw, man, I was too busy with this shit," he sighed, holding up his nearly spent joint, staring at it sadly. "Too fucking busy."
He smirked. "Merrick? With Mark? Figures" he replied knowingly. Scott and Shelby Merrick had shared a long standing hatred of each other. At one point they'd been best friends, despite the fact that they'd been bickering since kindergarten, when Scott had an irritating penchant for stealing Shelby's nap mat, often hiding it in embarrassing venues, such as the boy's bathroom. It only escalated when they both played on the same co-ed kiddie soccer team, often more set on beating each other than quashing the other team. Needless to say, the spark had been lit, and they'd been competitive at anything and everything since then.
Brad rolled his eyes and took a swig of his beer, half amused, half aggravated. "Man, you two have got to hook up. Everyone can see you two are totally perfect together except, well, you know … you guys," Brad surmised with a grand, sweeping gesture of his hand.
Scott raised an eyebrow, and gave Brad his famous half smile. The entire idea was ludicrous. Everyone didn't think they were totally perfect together – in fact, no one thought they'd be perfect together. What was so perfect? He was the star wide receiver, resident stud, student council president … and who was she? A loose girl from the wrong side of the tracks who smoked, slept around, cut class – a girl who he could never, ever even fathom bringing home to meet his father. Only Brad in his buzzed haze would come up with something so ridiculous. Right?
"Me?" Scott asked, pointing at himself, a look of disbelief mixing with a smirk crossing his face. "With Merrick?" he went on, pointing in the general direction of the stairs. Laughing as if he'd heard the funniest joke in the world, Scott sucked mightily on his own joint before handing it to Brad, clapping his friend on the back as he exhaled. "You're fucking hilarious dude. I'll see you," he said, nodding as he and Cindy, the giggly cheerleader who was dumb as a pile of rocks, but who'd be the perfect candidate for dinner with Dad, made their way through a sea of bodies, heading towards their own private party upstairs.
A week passed. It was dark, and crickets chirped noisily, their song interrupting the otherwise silent, still night. Outside, a slight wind rippled the leaves on the trees, shades of red, yellow, and orange falling towards the ground, cold from fall's frosty temperatures. They swirled about in the yard of the small white house, dancing around the station wagon parked in the driveway, skimming the old fashioned wood and rope swing, swaying back and forth slowly in the breeze. It was a beautiful scene, tranquil and almost picture perfect. But you'd be silly to judge a book by its cover.
Inside the white house, Shelby Merrick slowly crept down the stairs with baited breath, praying the stairs wouldn't creak, no doubt waking everyone in the small dwelling. Reaching the landing, she refused to emit a sign of relief, and continued to hold her breath, hitching her worn, blue knapsack higher on her back. She couldn't take being home anymore. Walt had already visited her room that night. There had been a time where she'd told herself that eventually, it wouldn't be so bad. That she'd get used to it. But after nearly five years, it never changed. She never failed to feel completely and utterly violated – to feel so dirty that even if she took a thousand showers, even if she scrubbed with soap until her skin broke and she bled red tears, she'd still feel, and be, infinitely dirty.
Biting down on her tongue, she tiptoed out the door and headed for the main road without looking back. It wasn't until she was several blocks away that she exhaled, that she began to breathe again. The further she walked away from him, from the house, from all of those memories, the better she felt. She knew the euphoria would be short lived, but she'd learned to take what she could get.
As she walked along, she slipped her hand in her pocket, making sure the tight, massive wad of money that she'd collected over the past few weeks from the wealthy, desperate, stupid boys she slept with, was still there. She'd run away before, this was far from being the first time. Her mother often found her and hauled her back quickly, but last time she'd made herself scarce. She'd also run out of money quickly, and reluctantly resorted to turning tricks after sleeping under the Santa Monica pier for three weeks running, going to bed cold, with an empty stomach. Prostitution fed her, clothed her, and gave her a place to live. She wasn't proud of it, but she did what she had to do to survive. But there was an ugly side to her newfound livelihood. There were violent pimps and violent customers and she'd ended up battered and bruised, with split lips and fingerprints lining her pale arms. She didn't want to have to resort to that this time. She didn't want to answer to anyone – she didn't want to be beat to a bloody pulp in some back alley. She didn't want to become some unidentified hooker they'd found in a dumpster, headlining the 6 o'clock news.
So she'd continued selling herself, but to a more tame crowd. High school boys with trustfunds were the ideal customers: too nervous and inexperienced to try anything stupid, but wealthy enough to afford her services. Shelby had been "working the circuit," which consisted of weekend house parties and late night "study dates," for about three months. She figured the more money she took with her, the longer she would have before going back to her old, more dangerous way of life.
This time, I'm not getting caught. I'm not going back to that hell hole with him, Shelby thought to herself, determined. Her feet slowing to a stop, she let her knapsack go slack in her hand as she stuck out her left thumb, and waited for someone to stop.
Scott Barringer lay completely still, face down on his pillow, praying she wouldn't come. Deep down, he knew praying was futile. No matter how much he begged the higher powers, she always showed up, like twisted clockwork, her negligee tickling his knees, her smooth hands, armed with long, red lacquered talons skimming his strong, toned chest. He'd writhe and twist but she was so much stronger than she looked. She'd place a finger on his lips, smiling sweetly, reminding him not to play rough – she didn't want his father to think he'd lashed out at her in a fit of hormonal rage. Wouldn't that just be terrible, Scotty, she'd ask him, her lips smirking at him as she pressed herself against him, amused. The very thought of her body weight on top of him made him feel physically ill.
He'd used enough that night – some acid, some shrooms, a beer of two. Knowing prayer was bullshit, and the concept of her staying in her own room was downright stupid, he hoped he'd just black out when she came in, saying she was scared. As if on cue, the door swung open, and she walked in, smiling like a canary filled cat. The lightening cracked outside and her silhouette reflected against the door just before she closed it, fingers twisting the lock. He was still awake. His friends from his chemical party hadn't kicked in yet. Scott immediately tensed at the sound of her voice.
"Scotty? I'm scared of the storm Scotty"
She was whispering, climbing into his bed, pulling back the covers. He wanted to throw her off. He wanted to scream. He wanted to throw up. But instead, he remained face down, his jaw set, nose smashed against the mattress.
"I know you're awake, Scotty."
He felt her climb onto him, pressing her front into his back, her fingers wrapping around his defined biceps. She laughed lightly and kissed him gently, just behind his ear. "Don't play games with me, Scott. I know you're awake. Come on …" she said, keeping her voice low, trying to roll him over.
He refused to move. He wouldn't budge, until he felt her nails digging into his flesh. She was smart, making sure to leave her mark high enough so it wouldn't be visible, even in a short sleeved t-shirt. Scott resisted for as long as he could before he realized she wouldn't let up, and the pain became too great. Rolling over, he saw her eyes light up. His face was stony, serious, angry. "Get out of here. I hate you"
He stared straight up into her brown eyes, appearing beady and black in the darkness. But she ignored him, that smirk appearing on her pillowy lips once more. "You don't mean that Scotty" Elayne cooed, climbing back on top of him, unbuttoning his pants.
"I told you no more. You said no more" Scott said through gritted teeth.
"I didn't say that Scotty" she purred, as his pants slid down to his ankles and she began to touch him.
Scott closed his eyes, a wince covering his features. How was this happening? Why? What did he do? Why wasn't he stopping her? He was the football captain, for crying out loud. Football captains weren't raped. Men weren't raped. This stuff only happened to girls, didn't it? Christ, he was a freak. A pathetic, disgusting freak. A pathetic, disgusting freak consumed by confusion and guilt.
Keeping his eyes closed, all Scott could envision was his fathers face. And then the blackness slammed into him.
Shelby sat in the car tapping her foot against the door, annoyed, as her father drove up the winding road to Mount Horizon. Her pretty features were stoic, solid, unwavering. They hadn't exchanged so much as a single word the entire day, and she wasn't about to alter the situation.
After a year of being alone on the streets, turning to prostitution after the money ran out, her father had found her. Her mother, too busy being Walt's wife, had called her ex husband, asking him to "become involved" in Shelby's life. Essentially, she was asking him to look for her, because she'd washed her hands of the situation. Her father, previously absent since her parents split shortly after her younger sister Jess was born, had surprisingly complied. Donald Trump he wasn't, but Steve Merrick had enough money to hire a private investigator, and find his missing offspring within a week.
She'd been hauled off by police, after they found her smoking a cigarette on the corner of Sunset Boulevard. Assuming she'd been arrested for hooking at most, loitering at best, Shelby, dressed in a pleather mini skirt, black halter top, wild hair and garish makeup, looking much older than her nearly sixteen years, was shocked when the holding cell opened and her father appeared. The situation had been strange, but deep down, Shelby was filled with a sliver of hope. This was her ticket away from the hell that was her home with Walt. However, as usual, her euphoria was short lived. She'd been living with her father a mere week before he decided he couldn't handle her. Found her the last week in May, ready to get rid of her the first week in June. Sure, maybe it was kind of her fault. The drinking, the drugs – she still couldn't stay away from trouble. So now, he was shipping her off to some twisted school for delinquents.
Steve Merrick's jeep rounded a bend in the road, and a wooden sign came into view. "Welcome to Mount Horizon," her father half stated, half read, trying to keep his voice cheerful. He'd tried – perhaps not as hard as he should have, but tried nonetheless – to make things work with Shelby. He knew he'd deserted her, and that she resented that, but he countered that chain smoking and drinking Jack Daniels wasn't exactly the most encouraging sign of progress from his teenage daughter. Why not nip the problems in the bud, before she morphed from a dysfunctional adolescent to a unable-to-function-period adult?
Her father's comment was met with deafening silence, and Shelby frowned as her father stopped the car. Her father stepped out, but she remained inside, still wearing her seatbelt, arms crossed, face still devoid of emotion. Her stony dark blue eyes watched as a clean shaven man dressed in a tan coat and jeans emerged from a building nearby, heading towards her father. The shook hands, and her father motioned to the car; they both stared at her expectantly, and Shelby could sense the man in the tan coat was prepared to greet her via her open window. She moved to roll it up, but then cursed her father for removing the keys. Damn power windows.
Rolling her eyes, Shelby stepped out of the car, wordlessly observing her surroundings, arms still crossed.
"And this is Shelby," her father said expectantly, pushing her forward a little bit. Shelby's arms remained cross, her actions and gaze passive, but the man didn't miss a beat. In fact, he smiled warmly.
"Its nice to meet both of you. I'm Peter Scarbrow, the headmaster of Horizon." he said, extending his hand to Shelby.
She didn't budge.
He kept smiling, and nodded at her. He expected it, and pressed on. "Okay then. Shelby, this is Hannah Bauer. She'll be your counselor here," Peter continued, motioning to the red headed woman that had just walked up, also all smiles despite Shelby's cold demeanor. "You'll have a physical, and we'll check your things. Then we'll introduce you to your group, the Cliffhangers".
Shelby rolled her eyes, and smirked, finally breaking her silence. It was impossible for her to stay quiet, given this new information. "Cliffhangers, huh? How summer camp can you get, Peter?" she asked, amused, before picking up her bag, and following Hannah, without so much as a glance in her father's direction.
Peter stared after her. She was a firecracker. Sarcastic, sharp tongued, had an answer for everything. Walls of concrete, if he'd read her right. Her wit would have amused him if he didn't know any better. But her eyes spoke volumes. Those lost, empty, dark blue pools frightened him. Every kid that came to Horizon was damaged in some way, always a heart wrenching story beneath the surface. But some were completely torn apart. Some had so many pieces taken from their soul that there was so very little left.
Peter Scarbrow had an undeniable feeling that Shelby Merrick was one of them.
Evening was falling in Washington, the sun sinking in the sky as it began to morph from a glorious blue to varying shades of purple and pink and orange. The summer heat, scorching during the day, was finally beginning to subside. Tires screeched and masculine laughter filled the air outside of an impressive, large brick colonial mansion. Scott stepped out of Brad's completely restored classic convertible, grasping the door for a moment to steady himself before continuing on, tossing his friend his lighter over the windshield as he walked around the hood, towards his front door.
He'd spent yet another day getting wasted so he'd be ready for Elayne when he got home. There wasn't much else to do, since he'd gotten kicked off the football team a few weeks before. No summer practices, no running drills, no hopes of a third state championship title trophy to add to his collection. His father had been so disappointed. Aside from his own work, Scott's football was the one thing that consumed Martin Barringer's life. His son was so talented, so good, scouted by college football superpowers such as USC since he was a ripe freshman. He had dreams of the NFL, of bragging rights, of endorsement deals. Needless to say, his entire world felt like it was crashing down when Scott's coach called. Missed practices? No focus? Failed drug test! Martin had nearly cried. But surprisingly, Scott didn't care all that much. Football seemed so pointless, so minor when your step mother was paying a visit to your room every night, while your father, the man you thought of as one of your best friends, slept soundly one room away, with no clue as to what was going on in the next room.
As soon as Scott walked in the door that night, he knew something was up. His father and Elayne were waiting for them, their faces solemn and serious. His blood boiled as her father put his arm around Elayne and she leaned closer to him. She was such a fucking con. He wanted to tell his father – he needed to tell his father. But he knew it would destroy them both.
Still frozen on the spot, Scott noticed his luggage and backs, usually only taken out for vacations, packed and ready to go in the entryway. His eyes were diverted once more as a large black man he didn't know, whom he'd never even seen before, appeared in the hallway. Feeling trapped, he tried to make a run for it, but his resistance was futile. The man grabbed him with the strength of a linebacker, holding him back, securing his wrists together with a thin, but strong strip of plastic. Refusing to give up, allowing all of his rage to fly, Scott continued to fight, even as the man easily hauled him away, placing him in the backseat of his father's car, his father carrying his bags with Elayne close behind.
The ride up to Horizon had been tense, to say the least. Scott had nearly fooled his father, insisting that he had to go to the bathroom, convincing him to let him use the facilities away from the watchful eye of Roger Claypool, the man who'd dragged him out of his house as if he were a infant. Unfortunately, his attempt to escape out of a side window was botched when he realized that Roger was right there, waiting for him, ready to drag him back to the car, to announce to his father and stepmother that he'd tried to make a break for it. Elanye shook her head. Scott wanted to hit her.
Then he'd blown up at his father once they'd arrived, leaving him in his dust on his way to his routine physical. Then the headmaster, who'd introduced himself as Peter Scarbrow, had read him the riot act. There was to be no drugs, no sex, no inappropriate touching, and no violence. In other words, no fun, Scott thought to himself dryly, though he kept his mouth shut. As Peter informed him that Horizon was safe, a sanctuary for Scott, he confiscated the drugs he'd stashed away in his pockets, his shoes. In taking away his acid, Peter had just taken away the only sanctuary, the only safe haven that Scott ever knew. He'd never felt more desperate or alone
Now he was finally processed in. Walking behind Peter across the campus in silence, almost hiding, he was being taken to meet the members of his group. The Cliffhangers, Scott thought to himself, remembering Peter's address, fighting the urge to chuckle, what is this, fucking 6th grade summer camp?
Shelby sat in a chair in the lodge, lazily twirling a strand of hair around her finger. Her face contorted into an impossibly bored expression, she quickly glanced around at the other members of her "group." Two months on and she was surprised she hadn't jumped off a cliff, what with the combination of banal boys and giggly girls. There was Katherine, the quote unquote leader, the adopted girl who felt impossibly guilty because her sister drowned on her watch. There was Augusto, or Auggie, the gangbanger who liked to play with spray-paint in public places. There was Ezra, eternal loser and resident pharmacist, another adoptee who was used as a pawn in his parent's failed marriage. Of course, there was Juliette, the perky little prom queen who worshiped the porcelain gods after every meal, destroying herself slowly with a finger down her throat and a razor to her wrists in her quest to become mommy's perfect little princess. And there was Daisy. She actually liked Daisy, as much as she hated to admit it. Like Ezra, she was the product of a failed marriage, and both parents were alcoholics. She'd whacked her father with a seven iron, which gained her innumerable brownie points from Shelby.
She knew all about them. They talked about their lives, their problems, in group. Sometimes they cried, sometimes they got angry. But Shelby? Shelby didn't talk. Shelby didn't cry. Shelby didn't get angry. Shelby was calm and cool and calculated. She liked to run away, the end. Next?
"Yo man, Peter better get here soon. I ain't waitin' around for this new kid all day" Auggie complained. "You know, homework?"
"I wonder what they'll be like. Probably another generic 'I don't belong here' sob story," Ezra commented, rolling his eyes, his dark, unruly hair falling in his circle lined eyes.
Just then, Peter walked in, the said newbie behind him. Slightly slumped in her chair, all Shelby could see was a tall, sturdy figure, topped off with blonde curls. Straightening up a bit, Shelby's mouth twisted into a smile, her heart beginning to pound. Maybe this kid would finally put an end to the mediocrity that was the Cliffhanger group. Leaning over slightly, she tried to get a better view, but she could only make out an arm, wrapped in a gray sweater. Still hopeful, she kept shifting, her smile turning into a smirk. Maybe today won't be so bad after all.
Peter cleared his throat, clapping his hands briskly and everyone came to attention. "Alright everyone. We have a new cliffhanger. This is Scott..."
It seemed like time stood still, and Shelby's mouth dropped open in utter disbelief. She felt like someone had punched her in the stomach and slapped her upside the head. Her mind was traveling a thousand miles an hour in that one millisecond and it took her voice, and mouth, another half of a millisecond to catch up. "Barringer!"
Scott looked just as shocked as Shelby felt. His eyes went wide and he felt like he was glued to his spot as he looked at that same face he'd known, competed with, and on some levels, loathed, for his entire life. The face that had disappeared a year ago, without explanation, without a trace. There were rumors that she was in jail, rumors that she was in boarding school, rumors that she overdosed. But there she was, sitting right in front of him, looking like the same girl he'd teased so relentlessly – only with more modest clothes and makeup. "Merrick?" he finally sputtered. "What are you doing here?".
"What am I doing here? What are you doing here?".
Peter was admittedly confused. "You two know each other?".
"Yeah. Unfortunately" Shelby replied, glaring at Scott.
Peter shook his head, still trying to make sense of the situation as the two teenagers continued to alternate between gaping and glaring, the rest of the group sitting back and enjoying the something-you-don't-see-everyday show. "Well, strange, seeing Scott is from Washington, and you're from California." Peter commented, slightly prying for information without revealing his intentions.
"I used to live in Washington. I just moved to California. I used to go to school with Scott" Shelby said tightly, feeling a bit dizzy.
"Talk about fate – you can blink now," Daisy whispered in Shelby's ear. Shelby turned her glare from Scott, to Daisy, who held up her pale hands in surrender and took a step back, eyebrow cocked.
"All right guys, listen up" Peter bellowed, immediately regaining control of the potentially volatile situation. "Shelby, since you're apparently familiar, you can give him the grand tour. The rest of you have kitchens".
Shelby frowned, as the others went off to the kitchen, wishing, for once, that she could scrub pots and pans with those lovely industrial yellow gloves. Welcome back to hell, Shelby, she thought to herself bitterly, as she turned on her heel without waiting, stalking out the door Scott following a few steps behind.
Chapter 2 will be up in a few days. R&R please!