AN: CI isn't mine. And this one was actually started right after my first CI fic. The M part of this chapter is fairly brief, but it is present.

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Aphrodisia.

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"You're just a toy."

Could she have possibly realized how harsh of a blow those words really were? She must have, or else she wouldn't have said them. Stupid bitch.

Could she have possibly been aware that I was on the verge of a breakdown when I broke it off with Annette? Me, of all people. But the thought would amuse her, not pluck some humility into her. I blurted out so much crap that I hadn't even allowed myself to think, much less speak, when I cut off ties with my 'first love'. Thinking about it is embarrassing… I really let my emotions loose for the first time in years. I cared too much for her. Kathryn, that is, not Annette.

You don't even know me! The fact of the matter is, there is someone I love. You don't even compare to her.

Stupid idiot. That's what I was. A stupid idiot. Kathryn couldn't know that I was shaking when I said it, that my eyes were watering unstoppably, that I could hardly stand straight. Kathryn couldn't know that I was killing myself, not for Annette, but for her. I wasn't torn up for Annette, I was torn up in the realization that my actual love believed she was replaced. I really was a pathetic dog. I had displeased Kathryn and was doing all I could to fix it.

Staring at Annette's huge, horrified, kicked puppy eyes served to jolt a realization into my soul. It wasn't guilt, pain, yearning for the chastity queen. No. I had just realized that in all my life, no girl would ever be able to measure up. Kathryn was my unattainable idol. The goddess of the perfect woman. For the rest of my life, I would compare every single woman with her. Maybe that's why I decided to hound after Annette. The two were too different to be comparable.

I shouldn't have been surprised at Kathryn's reaction to my words. I was foolish to go in there expecting her to spontaneously squeal and clap and declare that she loved me. Her cruel response encapsulated all the qualities in her that I adored. I was being weak to allow shock to vibrate through my bones. I had showed her my weakness, and she easily exploited it. I would have done nothing else were the roles reversed. But the roles would never have been reversed because Kathryn never would have let anyone or thing rattle her in the slightest, she would never have been caught off guard, never have allowed her weakness to be visible. I wonder sometimes if she has any actual weakness. In any case, what normally made me so intrigued actually pained me this time. It wasn't just a little good natured pinch, I felt as if she had just stuck a fork in my stomach. Annette made me soft. It shouldn't have bothered me nearly as much as it did.

The stupid bitch. I'm defending her even now. She made me finally admit to loving her and then she just had to laugh in my face. I did everything wrong that day. Everything. My tone, my expression, my words, my attitude. In my state, I can hardly blame her for not being able to resist crushing me. Damn it, I'm still defending her. I wasn't being pitiful by dropping everything for her, I wasn't stupid to assume she'd be warmed by my affection- she was the one who begged me impassionedly to dump Annette, she was the one who was so hurt when she thought I didn't love her. She goaded me into sympathy and made me believe she cared. Well played, perhaps, but I cannot take a step back to admire her impressive tactics.

What have I been doing these past few years? I'd always believed that Kathryn had more respect for me than to tell me that I was just an amusing plaything of hers. I've been a dick to her more often than to most others, but I've always kept just above making her question my emotion for her. I've said I loved her and meant it and told myself we were on the same page, only she was too stubborn to admit it.

I always was the more human of the two. I had a chip in my armor that could be found and enlarged when found. Luckily, few people have ever looked that hard. My little snake on the other hand, had no such chip. Her walls were solid. Years of study had revealed nothing to me. If there was substance under the unfeeling sadistic slut, no one on the earth would know it but her. After years of study, she didn't let me in. She knew my deepest desires, try as I might to hide them from her, but I couldn't read her. It's no wonder I think of her as someone who's sold their soul. No one can be that impossibly perfect and yet so shockingly cold and still be human. We're only human because we have the capacity to feel. What does that make her?

She may have been the colder of the two of us, but that is in no way to say she was stronger. We were equals, despite her power hungry need to dominate everyone around her, she never was able to dominate me, despite the fact that she knew quite a bit of my dark corners. That was the problem with her- she always could zero in on my wavering weakness. One single voice inflection would catch her attention. It was annoying. But anyways, she always could locate my missteps, however minute they may be, but she never cared to look for why I made the mistake. She knew all my actions but her calculating mind couldn't read into my intentions as well as she could read everything else. That was mainly the result of the fact that I was more human than she understood. Depending on her mood, she used to think of me as harsh as she was or as pathetic as 'they' were. Dear Kathryn didn't think in terms of the middle ground. She didn't get that I was smarter than 'them' but had more of a heart than her. I've made sure that she doesn't see how much of a heart I do have. She may have suppressed hers, but mine still beats. The moment she figured that out, she ripped it out of my chest. It's no wonder then that I trust her with all of my sexual games and thoughtful reflections but rarely with anything that would betray to her that I feel things like remorse or affection. Despite my efforts of hardening myself around her and people in general, she was still my favourite person and my actions and words reflected those feelings. We were more understanding than blood relatives and yet so much more desirous of each other than the deepest of lovers. What we were can not be defined as friendship, for friends want each other to be happy, to succeed and to flourish. We were each other's main tormentors. Yet we weren't enemies by any means- if any soul ever caused harm to the other, both of us would unite flawlessly to bring that bastard down. It wasn't affection that bound us, it wasn't loyalty or anything that can be deemed noble. Kathryn is the farthest thing from noble there is, and I'm not exactly a shining example of a white knight myself. Everything we did was for selfish purposes, ulterior motives and all that… except they weren't. Grudging favours were bestowed to each other, always with a catch and always reluctantly and without much enthusiasm, but I have the distinct feeling that if it came down to it, she would have my back. Unless her life or reputation was on the line, of course. Wryly, I can easily picture the woman shoving me in front of her as a human shield if ever a life or death situation were to arise. She would leave me to die without a moment's hesitation.

Oh no, I'm becoming bitter again.

I'm really a shit hole. A horrible human being. Thinking of that bitch after what just happened. This normally wouldn't bother me if it weren't for the fact that I really did believe I had changed. I thought I was a good person, a person capable of loving and being loved. I was proud of myself.

In one twentieth of a second, it became disgustingly clear how wrong I had been.

People say that it's in moments where everything is a risk and extreme issues face you that a person discovers the kind of person they are. You always think that you'll react a certain way to a given situation, despite the high stress level or critically short amount of time you have to react. You always think that you know what your instinct will drive you to do, what you truly value the most in this world.

People don't know anything. In a defining moment of my life, in one twentieth of a second, my mind and body reacted together in the exact way I had believed I had outgrown.

There comes a time in every person's life when they are given a choice. It's a simple choice. You always know what you're going to choose without having to think about it. But somehow when the choice comes, you do make a decision without thinking but it's the opposite of what you thought you'd do. There's a moment, brief but immortally vital, where every human gets to choose the kind of person they are, the kind of person that's in their nature, at their very core.

My choice came. I failed the test.

In one twentieth of a second, I could have been selfless and honourable and could have died carrying all the traits I never held in life. I could have sacrificed myself to save another, securing my soul a place in heaven and attaching awe and love for all eternity in her whose life I saved. But I didn't do it. In the man I thought I had become, I would have saved her from that car and took it myself like a proper love sick and brave gentleman. But I am no gentleman and the car didn't hit me.

The world stopped for that one fraction of a second. My eyes were suddenly seeing with complete clarity and I understood instantly what was about to happen and what I could do to truly be the person I knew I had become. My mouth opened to scream her name but faltered and my legs failed to move. Didn't I want to save my soul mate? But in that second, Kathryn's face and voice drifted to the forefront of my mind and I wanted to jump in front of that car for Annette just to stick it to Kathryn one last time. I wanted to hurt her, to punish her. And the moment I realized I was thinking of Kathryn when my girlfriend was in immediate danger, the truth struggled its way to my consciousness. Everything I did or said for Annette was to hurt Kathryn. My love was simply that manufactured. I wasn't brave or good or just and instead of rushing to throw her out of harm's way in the scenario that should have been, I watched silently and emotionlessly as the car crashed into Annette.

Ronald shouted out in surprise and dismay and Annette wailed out my name in an ear shattering shriek. I walked over to her injured body and bent over her, my face still emotionless, despite my efforts of reaching deep down for any sense of pain or unhappiness in seeing Annette laying there bleeding.

"Sebastian…" She whimpered, clawing for my hand. "I forgive you."

Was that really loathing I felt appear? I had been waiting for her to say these words and now that they came I wanted to throw them back at her.

"Sebastian, I love you."

Ronald looked between us frantically and at my silence, blurted out for me to say something, anything.

I couldn't. I knew I couldn't muster up anything that would comfort her and I didn't want to hurt her now that she was already so hurt.

"Sebastian?" Annette was slipping out of consciousness. The ambulance was on its way, and her eyes were pleading madly for me to say something to her, to mourn, to panic.

"I'm sorry I couldn't jump in front of a car for you." That at least was sincere. She squeezed my hand before becoming too faint for anything.

With her death would come the demise of any chance I had of being a truly good person.

"I almost saved her." I said flatly as Kathryn stood by my side with a deceivingly somber expression on her features. She was bored as hell and it was clear as day to me. We were waiting at the back of the school auditorium in preparation of our speeches to the student body about the death of the headmaster's daughter.

"I'm sure."

I sharply looked at the woman beside me and hissed, "I did. I almost jumped in fr-"

"You didn't."

"I wish I did. I wish I could have died saving the only woman I would ever love." I muttered vehemently.

Kathryn smiled in that patronizing manner of hers and merely clucked, "Oh, but Sebastian, you didn't. And that's all that counts."

I clenched my jaw and roughly pushed her out of my way as I moved closer to the stage. I hated how nothing I did could affect her. With the exclusion of paying any other woman any attention, of course. She thought she owned me and I had managed to prove to her that she didn't. I had to change that mindset before she got too comfortable thinking I was her dog.

My speech was a load of crap. I rambled about how amazing Annette was and how truly unfortunate it was for the entire school population that they didn't get to meet her. I subdued my eyes and knew perfectly well that the whole heartbroken thing would send most of the female population at Manchester over to my side full of consolation and comfort, even the ones who had already been crushed by me. If I had thought I had changed, then every soul here must believe I had too.

Kathryn gave my shoulder a squeeze as she joined me on the podium, smiling at me in a way that would have looked tender had I not been so used to reading the tiny glitches where her ice didn't cover. To the school, she was being a sympathetic sister. In reality, she was mocking me and that soft squeeze was actually her finger nails clawing into my skin. She brushed against me as she reached the podium and I couldn't believe that no one in the audience noticed how sensual she was being. Or maybe I'm just so affected by her that she can't even touch me without me losing my head.

I knew I was supposed to leave the stage now that my bit was done, but I knew Kathryn and I had cared enough about Annette to feel a personal responsibility to stay nearby and correct any overly sickening remarks my sister would deem necessary to say.

"As student body president…"

Fuck, that phrase never failed to piss me off. She sounded like one of those fags at the front of the class who studies nonstop and answers every question; the bloody teacher's pet. And that's what Kathryn wanted them to think. Except she got to have the teachers love her and the students worship, admire, and respect her as well. It takes years of treachery to hone such an elaborate deception. She would fall one day. I will be here to watch, if not orchestrate.

"…What I'm trying to say is, I think that she can be a lesson to us all. Going into senior year, our studies and extra curriculars are key. Losing your morals and your self respect, losing sight of your goals, is something that you will live to regret… unless you're Ms. Hargrove who so sadly didn't live long enough to realize her mistake. Take courage, my fellow students, and learn from her regrets so that her memory will live on-"

I could feel myself stiffen and my blood went cold. She was not going to spit on Annette's memory. She had no right.

Kathryn felt me stiffen and placed her hand over my stomach, caressing it placidly under the cover of the podium. That one action clearly said, Be a good kitty, Sebastian. It's my turn to speak so shhh.

I pushed her hand off of me and forced a smile on my face as I cut into her speech, carefully choosing a spot that seemed somewhat final so I wouldn't get booted off the stage.

"Annette wouldn't have lived to regret any mistake of that summer, even had she lived eighty years longer. I wasn't a mistake, we weren't a mistake. She never lost her morals and she kept her respect with her until her death. If we're to remember her, we're going to remember her properly and not disgrace her character." I injected as civilly as I could. Flashing an apologetic smile at the crowd and at Kathryn, I added, "Of course, that was not a blamable mistake on your part, sister. You could hardly be expected to know everything."

"Thank you, Sebastian. I just said what I believed to be true, and what all areas of evidence proved to be true." Kathryn said graciously.

"All areas except for what the two of us felt, and you couldn't have seen what was in my heart for her." I propelled forward a somber expression, even managing to push forward a little bit of eye watering. I addressed the crowd again, "We really loved each other and you would all be incredibly lucky if you could feel that kind of emotion for even one day. For those who knew her, don't forget Annette Hargrove." And inflecting a gentle crack in my voice as I pronounced the last sentence, I stumbled off stage in a fit of passion. Every pair of eyes followed me out the door, breaking out into sympathetic mutterings in my favour, sufficiently killing any chance for Kathryn to get in another word. People are so easy to manipulate.

A few girls chased after me, cooing like a cluster of birds. I wanted to tell them all to fuck off but they took the emotion in my features to be the emotions I felt for Annette. Cecile was one of the girls who ran after me. She usually pissed me off incredibly with her undeniably weak mind but today her sincerity would be welcoming.

Plus, she let me do absolutely everything. I was her first so she didn't know what was considered whorish or what wasn't normal, she didn't know that she could say no. And she knew that it meant nothing. I was her instructor, she was my tool. Better than trying to manipulate a whole new idiot.

She looked all wide eyed and concerned and tried to make me feel better by clumsily stroking my inner thigh. I stared at her incredulously. Only a girl like her would use sex as a comfort mechanism in a time like this.

At least the other girls attempted to be subtle.

The better part of me would have been disgusted but apparently all fragments of my being that remotely resembled decency had died with Annette. I could feel a tiny twitch at the corner of my lip but suppressed it. I dismissed the fleeting urge to take her up on the offer and strode away from my harem. Holding off for a few days would mean that the next year would be insanely easy to get laid. Easier than before, I mean. My heart's all broken so no one could expect anything deep or real and if I do show any signs of deepness I'd get more points than ever before. It should be shameful of me to be taking advantage of Annette's death, and I want to be angry at myself for thinking about screwing other girls, but really, who was I trying to fool? I wasn't a good person, I've never been and I suppose I'm unchangeable.

It's unbelievable how badly I wished I could change, how much I wanted it to be a lie when I told Katherine that she was right and I didn't love Annette. I do admire Katherine in certain respects but the part of me that sought to be a better person feels vile when regarding my stepsister.

She is everything that is wrong with the world.

She is the spoiled ungrateful cow who sits on a golden throne while hundreds of girls at Manchester work their asses off five hours a night studying to get the scholarship she won't need. (The fact is that her intelligence likely towers over them all combined without studying)

She is the epitome of physical perfection who smiles glimmeringly while thousands of others look in the mirror and try to be like her, envying her; pinching fat and pressing breasts. (Half those girls are desperate whores who are God awful in bed despite practice)

She is the bitchiest of all bitches; making men psychotic with wanting to hate her and being unable to do any such thing. (Men are the weaker sex in regards to any woman like her)

She is the fucking devil; the symbol against which all temptation is to be measured and which none will ever compare. (Heaven is completely worth sacrificing if it meant having her)

She is the Eve no Adam would ever say no to. (There can be no regret from choosing her over paradise because she is paradise)

She is the creation no God would ever evict.

She is manipulative, selfish, conceited, uncaring, and inhuman.

And no one on any planet at any point in time will ever be able to hold that against her.

She is the one on my mind all the damn time even though the first girl I ever cared about lies lifeless in the adjacent building.

"For Christ's sake, don't you have any respect?" I finally snapped at Cecile. "Piss off!"

Kathryn had come out. She glared at me and I really wanted to finger her. Fuck I can't even get my head out of the gutter even now.

I grunted and shoved my way through the cluster of girls, not knowing where to go but realizing that I needed a drink and some silence.

"Are you sure you're okay Sebastian?"

"I'm fine." I hissed, whipping around to face the idiot who followed me. It was Kathryn, who made her voice go soft and caring. I rolled my eyes. "Can you not detach yourself from my presence for more than fifteen minutes at a time?"

"You know you still want to fuck me." She grinned.

"You know nothing." At her look of resentment, I added with a mocking smile, "I cared about her more than any one will ever care about you. It's funny, really; with her death comes the dawning realization that you have no control over me any more. I simply don't care any more what you do or say. All your stupid little mind fucks… I'm just done with it." I relished in the confused look in her eyes, the half beat of uncertainty. I didn't wait to gloat or wait for a response. I didn't even look back at her.

She really didn't know anything. I always thought she could read my thoughts; see into my weaknesses like some sort of witch. But now I see that she's really just another girl, just human. Soulless, yes, but not omnipotent and omniscient. It amused me to see my own foolishness and her very real powerlessness. She had no idea what to do to enthrall me again; she couldn't do anything now to affect me and she was beginning to see it. At least that's what she's made to see. The idiot really doesn't know anything- she can understand the motives and flaws in all her little minions, with all their variances. There were the Ceciles, the Ronalds, the Annettes. But I am my own category. I'm so similar to her in some ways and that baffles her- she can't understand me because she can't understand herself. I contradict her in so many other ways and that too throws off her calculations- there is no formula for me because I am not a cliché, I cannot be clustered in a neatly labeled box in her mind. I'm an individual, and the day she sees that everyone is different and it's not worth it to try to master them like puppets is the day she'll finally free herself. It's taken up her entire existence. She is absorbed in others so she can make them do what she wants to have her ploys work out. She devotes so much time in others so they can do exactly as she plans, effectively making her insanely attentive and generous and so selfish and greedy at the same time.

I'm getting myself out of the web of Kathryn. I am taking myself out of the equation. I can't let myself be controlled by her little games if I am ever to be seen as her equal. And I can't ever be with her truly unless I am her equal. And yes, I do still want to be with her so fucking much.

Twisted and ramble-crazy, aren't I?

But my first and only love just died. Should I not be granted allowances for being oddly scattered in my thoughts?

I should go to some sort of support group.

Or the whole counseling route could be an option.

The thing is I simply don't feel like messing with someone. I can't just go straight from thinking I'm a changed and decent man into plotting another immoral deed. I'm still depressed over discovering that I really am just a scumbag after all. It's devastating. Truly.

That one defining moment in which I chose not to protect Annette was the moment that condemned me to my fate of being in a static state for the rest of my life. I was given a chance to change, a chance at redemption and I failed to take it. Heaven is forever lost to me. I will writhe in this hell without a chance at freedom.

I used to enjoy the dark mess I was, the cruel games I played, the heartless malice that laced all my thoughts and actions were a thing to be proud about. Annette gave me the ability to feel guilt, the ability to see that things could be different; that I could be happy without making others miserable. That is why this is so difficult. I wanted to be different. I wanted to reject the apple and choose the right thing for once in my life but I was too damn weak. Now I don't want the fucking apple anymore- I want Annette. I want to be a different man. And I can't. I can't, not ever.

I know how stupid I'm being. I know that if I did change I would have violated my life's code. I would have turned into the very person I once loathed. I would have become a cliché- an abomination of everything I once valued.

People don't change. People want to change, people believe they can change, but at the end of the Goddamn day they are still themselves, they are still the same fucking person they always were. I can see how sad it is that I didn't care that I would be turning into a cliché. I can see how sad it is that I was willing to throw away years of beliefs, years of strenuous composition for my reputation. I hate myself for not caring about that, I hate myself for wanting to be so different, I hate myself for being so unable to change and most of all I hate that I hate myself.

I would like to think that I only broke up with Annette the first time because I was worried about my reputation. I would like to think that I only said I loved Kathryn because she manipulated me into thinking it. I would like to think that I truly loved Annette and had never really felt anything for Kathryn. That would mean I did become a better person, that I was capable of feeling something pure.

But Kathryn was right as she so normally is. Kathryn was right and she hurt me and it wasn't just injured pride that made me angry.

I would like to think that Kathryn only said what she did so I could have a real chance at happiness with Annette. I would like to think that Kathryn wasn't faking her worry that I was replacing her. I would like to think that Kathryn was being cruel to be kind.

But that is, simply, the very same as believing the devil only tempts you so you can be happy. Kathryn isn't selfless, she doesn't give a damn about anyone but herself, and she sure as hell doesn't feel anything remotely close to love.

"Oh, she's dead. Get over it." Kathryn rolled her eyes.

I stared at her. Fury was building up in my stomach and I calmly saw that if she kept going on in this line of thought I would easily find it in myself to hit her again. Admittedly, I felt incredibly sorry for striking her the first time, but she deserved it. She always did. Who gives a fuck about the rules of male chivalry? Girls can maim whomever they want but a man does it and he's an evil wife beater. Seriously. This society is so sexist.

She didn't look away from my stare and I felt the beginnings of a deep frown work its way onto my features.

"Oh golly, your eyes are clouding over. Am I supposed to be intimidated?"

Suddenly I found myself jerked forward in front of her, my body moving on its on accord, and my arm raised up and I watched as my hand clenched to strike her face. I didn't even want to stop myself.

She stumbled backwards to the floor and her hand flew to feel her cheekbone.

"She didn't die, you fucking killed her!" I snarled. "You sent Ronald to attack me. You were the reason she was in any position to be injured." I stepped in front of her and towered over her frame. "It's your fault. It's always your fault. You couldn't just settle for ruining someone's life like you usually do, no, this time you had to extinguish it all together just because you couldn't stand the fact that someone so pure and so honestly amazing existed in this world. She was everything you pretended to be and it ate you up that she wasn't faking it. Everybody loved her because she was genuinely lovable; she didn't have to lie to get people to care. You fucking killed her."

Kathryn stood up but I slapped her back to the ground. Her mouth opened in dismay. Last time I had apologized instantly for losing my temper and being physical with her but I was not sorry this time. She deserved so much worse.

"You may have a vagina and breasts but you are the one woman no man would ever feel guilty for hitting- you deserve to die a very painful, very drawn out death for all the things that you've done and I hope those blows stung. I hope they leave a mark."

Her eyes brimmed furiously with emotion that I knew she wouldn't articulate truthfully, whatever it was she was feeling, so I shook my head in disgust and left her sitting in a disheveled heap on the floor.

"Sebastian!" She called angrily after me.

I ignored her but she managed to pick herself up and next thing I knew I felt her sharp nails against my arm, yanking me back. I ripped my arm out of her grasp and shoved her bodily away from me. It didn't escape my notice that she shifted her weight and moved her arm almost protectively against herself in a subtly defensive stance. Kathryn was frightened by me. Well, if not frightened, definitely wary.

I glared at her but before I could walk away, she blurted out with rage, "Is that what you really mean? What you really want? Do you really wish I would just go die?"

"No, what I want is for someone to kill you like you killed her. Like you killed me. You're dead inside. Someone should make it official on the outside." The words were said, but I felt sick. I felt twisted.

Her face moved. Her features scrunched up. Her head ducked slightly.

"Do you really think I'm going to buy that hurt façade?" I snorted. "I will not take back anything I said so don't try and act like you're in pain. I meant every word I said. You ruined everything. You ruined the best part of my life, the only part I cared about. I can't see how you would be surprised by this. By any of this. What did you think would happen? Did you think I would forget about her and suddenly turn back into your pathetic lap dog? Even you can't be that vain."

"You don't mean that." She lifted her head again and her voice was calm, defiant.

"You're all alone now. All. Alone. Because nobody likes you. You can have your little drug habit, you can have your alcohol and your mindless sex and your stupid place in society. No one cares. You're going to die cold, unloved, and utterly empty. And I will enjoy the moment you realize that. You did it to yourself and I hope you are utterly miserable, whether you die tomorrow from a coke overdose or a year from now when someone finally gets the balls to run you over." I was being harsh. Too harsh. This was Kathryn. There was no such thing. Of course there was. We always said harsh things to each other but they were always to piss each other off; we weren't supposed to dig under the surface to the underbelly of reality where it would really hurt. Too fucking bad. She crossed the line first by doing that to Annette. By messing with my head. Too fucking bad.

"You don't mean that-"

"You're going to die and the world will laugh. They will celebrate, there'll be a parade- joy will be brought back to this earth and every single soul will be better off. You've driven away anyone who might have cared about you, and I no longer feel anything but surprise that I didn't see what you were before. A pathetic excuse for a human being who needs to hurt others just so they will notice you. You can't stand yourself and you make it so people flock to you, only so you can make them hate you. You've succeeded. Have you ever wondered why every single guy you have ever dated has chosen a weaker, more stupid, less attractive girl to be with? Any girl is better than the train wreck that is you. Nothing, not even a good lay, is worth being with someone like you. So I hope you can find happiness when you're all alone in your room with nothing to keep you company but your powder." I couldn't shut up. The words kept coming out in this passionate heave.

"You don't- y-you don't mean that." I watched her as her voice cracked and her words became subdued.

I snorted again. "I won't buy it anymore. None of it." I turned around to leave and as I did so she said something again.

"Are we done?"

I kept walking.

"Sebastian? Sebastian! Are we… are we just done?"

I didn't stop.

"Just like that, every single day we've shared, every thing we've been through, you just throw it all away because you're this huge puddle of waste. You've become a pathetic pussy. You're not Sebastian Valmont. You're not him. I guess Annette killed him."

I still didn't stop.

"I don't need you, but you need me, ass wipe."

I sighed and turned around. She didn't look the least bit upset anymore. She was actually smirking.

"Can't you just shut up?"

"What's the matter? Can't ignore me? You never could."

"I'm not dead inside like you are. I feel. And I no longer think of it as this huge thing to hide. I don't care about what you think anymore." I smiled grimly. "Good bye, bitch."

"You really cared about her. It wasn't a lie." That was awe in her voice.

"Very good. Gold star."

"You… you really did replace me? You really don't love me anymore." She melted, she sounded like a child. It would have been convincing if I wasn't so used to this manipulation.

"Oh, dear, stupid stepsister. I never loved you. And I don't want to replace you, I'm quite happy without a sadistic psychopath nagging me every single second." I flashed her another smile and strode away without waiting for her response.

I was so sick of allowing her to see that I actually did care about her only to end up having her throw it back in my face. It was inevitable, she always would twist any sincere emotion I showed her and corrupt it to her whim. Bored? Never fear, let's just go ring up Sebastian and see if I can't rip out his soul again. Sad? Well, let's amuse myself by pretending to care about him and the second he shows the slightest hint of affection, let's crush him. I know I was weak for letting her do that to me. She made me what I am today. She corrupted any positive qualities I had. Any redeeming trait, any morality, she trampled it out of me. Any hope I had for the world, she filled with cynicism. And yet I was the one hated by most people and she was the 'good' child everyone respected- when she was the one who twisted me into this. It was total bull shit and I hope she felt even the smallest amount of pain from my words.

She's a damn robot, of course she felt nothing. Any time I think I see a glimmer of humanity, a break in her wall, I know that it's her elaborate mask toying with me. She finds amusement from this, always has. Everything I think I see is something she is consciously arranging to make me see. She knows how I think, so she does what she does to make me do, say, feel, whatever she wants me to. But I won't be fooled any more. I won't let her deaden me any more.

I am already dead inside, just like her. I was once happy- there must have been a time that was more innocent, when I was less… less of this, whatever this is. But that would have to have been a time before her; she who withers everything she touches.

She can't feel anything. It's a physical impossibility. All I want to do is to make her feel. I feel like my chest might explode from all this pain and hatred and grief and it's for all the wrong reasons and I want it to stop or at the very least I want to make her suffer with me. But she isn't human, she can't feel, she can't care. She is the puppet master who will merely put down her toy the moment it stops cooperating and find and train a new puppet. She will sculpt a new guy to mess with, to corrupt. He will have to be good looking; rich, incredibly intelligent, and completely infatuated with her. He will have to already have a dark streak but he'll have to be moral enough to be changed by her. It will only be matter of time.

Try as I might to feel nothing, these thoughts disturb me. The thought of her confiding in another man irks me. No one else is her equal but she will make someone else her equal.

I suppose I am one half of the clichéd love/hate relationship.

I can't love someone like that, someone who is so hollow. I can't love someone when all we've ever done is hurt each other and find it funny when we succeed in doing so. I can't love someone who has only ever been a sex tease. I lust for her, I want her body, I want her for the chase but no one could love someone like that, especially not someone like me.

Except I honestly kind of did.

I shut my eyes. I needed to stop thinking. I needed to stop thinking about her. I needed to take something, anything, acid or glass or x, hell, I'd even lower myself to accept the disgustingly common pot. Anything to make the voice in my head stop whispering these words to me. Anything to make it stop hurting as if I'm some sort of fruitcake.

I should have protected her. I should have done one thing right, one thing honourable, one thing selfless. I should have been the one who died.

She was innocent. She was beautiful and honest and everything that is untainted. And I killed her. I let her die. It's my fault, it's Kathryn's fault, it's not fucking fair.

She's dead and I'm tainting her memory even now by allowing myself to continue to feel anything for Kathryn. I was supposed to love Annette, I was supposed to have changed. If I can find any solace at all, I know that I can never go back to Kathryn's side. I will not be her dog; I will not be sucked back into her world. She won't engulf me.

I have to hate her. I have to at least try. I have to be harsh and cold and different than I once was.

Or Kathryn will win.

And it really, really is just about that, isn't it? Life isn't as complex as some would like to believe. Either you get what you want or someone else gets it. Either you hurt someone or that someone hurts you.

I had to get away from this city. I had to get away from her. I can't think properly when she's around and as long as I stay here I will never know if my thoughts are my own or if they are a result of her seamless exploitation. I have to free myself from her and see if there is any hope at all for me left, if I can ever be human, if I can ever love or feel or be anything other than this twisted darkness that she turned me into.

My feet carried me back to the house. I would pack a few things and leave immediately. It didn't matter where I went so much as I went away. If I left now perhaps I could successfully cut her out of life. She was an addiction and if there was any hope for cleansing myself of her I had to go cold turkey.

I couldn't love her. I didn't love. I couldn't care. I wouldn't miss her, I wouldn't miss her, I wouldn't miss her. I was so much better off. She was evil and horrible and leaching and life would instantly brighten the moment she was out of it.

My keys were in my pocket, my coat on… My journal in my car, a small bag of things I would rather Kathryn not go through in my hands…

I walked into my room to see if there was anything else I needed and there she was. Sitting on my bed. Completely nude with nothing but my two leather driving gloves laid across her breasts and my glasses case against her cunt.

I rolled my eyes, strode up to the bed, and grabbed my case and took the gloves. "Lovely. Now they're dirty and will have to be replaced." Kathryn grabbed my hand as I took the gloves and pressed my fingers against the skin near her nipple. I indifferently sighed with boredom and revoked my hand back wearily and wiped it against the bed spread in disgust.

"I hit you twice in one day and that's what it takes to get you to strip? You really are pathetic, aren't you? You really just want exactly what doesn't want you." I didn't even look over her bare form.

She frowned. "What the fuck is wrong with you?"

"What do you want?"

"Well, you did still win the bet, after all."

I smiled. "It stopped being about the bet a very, very long time ago, darling."

"Look. You hit me and I'm willing to overlook that and let you collect your prize-"

"You are such a whore. Referring to yourself as an object, now, are we? It surprises me that you feel shock when others treat you like one when it is so clear that's how you view yourself. You really have no self respect. And honestly, my dick has been in some pretty low places but nothing as heinous as what you're offering." I pleasantly interrupted.

I thought her head would explode, she looked so angry. I wish I could say I felt satisfied with that look but it only brought out the clarity in the bruises on her face, the bruises I had caused. The bruises I felt revulsion at having caused.

"You won't even apologize for hitting me?"

"I told you- it was well deserved."

She slipped off my bed, grabbed my robe, cinched it around herself quickly, and closed the distance between us. "You really are a bastard."

"No, I'm finally becoming less of one."

"I beg to differ. I'd like to remind you that since meeting Annette you have hit me three times, that's three times more than you have ever struck a girl, S&M not withstanding."

"You are hardly a 'girl'. A vicious ball-cutting demon, maybe, but hardly a girl."

"Do you really think Annette was the paradigm of chastity? Do you honestly believe her intentions were pure? She placed an article in a country wide magazine proclaiming her virginity only to give it up to the first man who tried to get in her pants. What does that tell you? Open your eyes, Sebastian. She pretty much placed an ad broadcasting 'fuck me! Fuck me! Fuck me hard!' and you, so easily manipulated, you bought the act. She was just like me, except I let you know I had a fake side, she didn't. I let you in on my games, while you were the butt end of hers. I'm the better person, you know."

"Just because you can't imagine that good people exist doesn't mean she wasn't one."

"Just because you made a bet to corrupt her didn't mean she hadn't always meant to do the corrupting. And you are corrupted. Look at yourself. You're a total mess. You don't know who you are anymore, you don't know what to do with yourself. She destroyed you, and she probably always meant to. Her act was a good one, better than yours because unlike you, she didn't let her emotions get in the way. She probably never cared about you."

"She's dead. Does that fit into her master mind game? Getting herself killed? She ran over to me to try to get Ronald off of me."

"She fell onto the road, likely thinking you would save her and get killed yourself. It would have been the perfect end to her perfect scheme. Her goal- to turn the pillar of all things dark and immoral into a lovesick sap just like all the other boys. Oh, look- she succeeded."

"You're pathetic."

"You're naïve."

"You're wrong!"

"You're stupid. You keep getting these blind spots for these girls when all they've ever done is play you. Haven't you learned?"

"The only girl who has ever played me is you, Kathryn."

"I'm the only fucking girl who has ever tried to look out for you!"

"Don't give me that bull shit!"

Unexpectedly, Kathryn's hands flew to my jaw and pulled my face to hers. She kissed me with all the ferocity she could muster but I roughly pushed her away.

"How many times do I have to tell you that I don't want you anymore, you fucking whore?" I snapped.

"I was trying to protect you, you blind shitfucker."

"I'm not an idiot. I'm not going to get drawn into your lies anymore."

"Little blonde Annette woke you up to my lies, did she? Or did she just blind you to the real truth that you had once understood but now choose to ignore?"

"You aren't making any sense. All you've ever done is try to stab me in the back, I have absolutely no reason to believe a word you say and I no longer have any desire to do so anyways."

"Like I said, you're a blind shitfucker." She glared at me.

"I'm leaving now. This city, this whole fucked up existence. And I honestly hope I never have to see you again for the rest of my life." I tried to turn around but she forcefully shoved me against the wall and into a chair.

Leaning down over me, she demanded, "Why are you doing this?"

"How many times do I have to say this before it sinks in? I loved her."

"She was playing you!"

"She was doing no such-"

Kathryn's hand pressed against my jaw, cutting me off and refraining me from saying anything more.

"Listen to me. She fucked you up! This isn't you. Sebastian, you were fine the way you were and now she has you thinking you need to change and be some fairy tale prince but fairy tale princes don't exist. Why are you doing this? Where did the real you disappear off to?"

"She didn't fuck me up, you did, and you've only ever wanted to stop me from having any real chance at being happy- so get away from me, I'm getting as far away from you as is humanly possible. Praise the Lord, I'm never going to have to deal with your issues again. Try to die in a sewer, or something grotesque, won't you?"

Kathryn pushed me down again. I looked at her with annoyance. "If you do that again, I may have to hit you again. And I would rather not resort to such means."

"Don't do this. Don't be like this. Sebastian, come on. Wake up." Her voice had taken on an urgent ring and repeated to myself that this was still her little act talking but it was getting harder to believe it. She was damn good, that was for sure. "Sebastian, please." Her expression softened and became almost desperate but I remained stony. Finally, she gave up and pushed herself against the floor, her posture drastically different from the upright robotic stance she normally took.

She looked truly upset. It was a lie. It had to be.

"Why are you being this way? You're more erratic than usual. Too much coke in your system?" I mocked.

"You can't leave." She said quietly. "You can't leave. You can't just walk away from all of this. This is your life, you can't just abandon it."

"Watch me."

"Sebastian!"

"Saying my name won't do anything."

"Why do you hate me?" She blurted out so loudly the words penetrated my thick wall of she's lying and I turned around.

"Come on. Look at yourself. You have made it physically impossible not to hate you."

She blocked my exit again. "Don't do this, Sebastian. You can still rectify this. You don't have to throw it all away."

"Throw what away? This was never real. You and me? All we've been doing is playing these childish games that mean nothing. There is nothing to throw away."

"There was an us. There was a you and there was a me and we were together."

"You were the master, I was your dog, there was no us. Everything you're referring to was built on a mound of lies and selfishness. There was never an us."

"Stop it! Stop doing this!"

"Get out of my way."

"No."

"I'm not the person you want anymore, Kathryn. You were right. I am different now. I'm not the fool who would have bent over backwards just to get in your pants. I have a heart now, and I won't let you dull it into submission. I won't let you make me hate myself anymore."

"You had a heart before. You were fine before."

"You made me hate myself and now I hate you. That's all there is to it. I never loved you, I thought I did, but there was nothing there."

She slapped me. Hard. So hard I actually stumbled back.

My face hardened and I struck her back.

She retaliated back harshly and the blows turned more brutal. I was stronger than she was; I was going to hurt her, a voice said dully in my head. But she was stronger than I expected and I tasted blood. My lip was bleeding.

Her fists attacked every inch of my body they could reach, her eyes had started watering and it took me a few strikes later to realize but she was crying. I had made her cry. Her cheek was bleeding. Her perfect hair was everywhere, and she was covered with little blotches of her own blood and probably some of mine.

My fists actually ached from the force in which I hit her and my body was in pain. Still, she slapped me again and again and I couldn't stop myself from doing the same. It was almost animalistic in harshness.

Her tears mixed with her blood and ruined her make up. My shirt had holes in it from her nails and then the line between hitting each other with blind rage and sexual passion blurred into one and the brutality in which she spent on ramming her hands against my skin converted at some point into something else.

I backhanded her and my fist connected with her collar bone and my arms connected solidly with her fragile form again and again and then my hand ripped the robe opening wider and I bit down hard on the skin on the edge of her breast.

Her fists punched my chest and bruised and bled and attacked and then they were reaching underneath, clawing away at the skin and ripping off my shirt altogether.

I hit her jaw, I made her mouth fill with specks of blood, I grabbed her chest and squeezed bare breast under the smooth fabric of the robe that had slid open across her shoulders.

She forced down my pants and ripped my boxers down inch by inch, leaving a trail of blood as she tore my skin in the process.

I threw her against the wall and picked her up and crashed her on top of my dresser, breaking various things in the process and landing a shard of glass imbedding into the palm of her hand. The blood oozed from her hand down my chest and she sunk her claws into my pecks and bit down on my bare nipples.

My hand slipped against her ass

She shoved me off of her and struck my head

I grabbed her by the hair and made her collide with a handle on my drawer. She whipped around and forced me against the door, driving the knob painfully into my back.

I hissed with pain and took hold of her shoulders and savagely thrust myself into her.

The robe was still cinched but it was now infected with blood. The fabric rubbed against me as the sleeve slipped down when her arm collapsed around my back, her fingers attaching themselves to my back.

She let out a moan and pressed herself tighter against me, rougher, harder, more violently until I was sure she must be bleeding. She again threw me off her and I connected to my dresser, the wood bruising my back, my head slapping back on the sharp angle.

Kathryn shoved down my shoulders until I was sitting against the floor. She straddled me hard and wrapped her arms around my neck, sandwiching my body between her and the stiff wood.

I grabbed her and threw her on the bed, ripping open the robe so it was no longer cinched in the slightest and went down on her. She pressed her legs harshly against my neck as I did so and my teeth broke through skin on her inner thighs. She threw her head back, her back arched, the bed sheets tore…

She savagely pulled me up to her level and attacked my lips with her own, biting down on my lips and making my tongue bleed. Her hands forced my arms up and held them up as bit down on my ear and neck.

We rolled off the bed and fell hard on the floor, I threw her robe across the room and my fingers aggressively penetrated her vaginal opening three at a time, eliciting a shocked cry to escape her lips.

Panting heavily, I turned her around and shoved just as heavily as before in her other opening.

My mind blew away in ecstasy and all sense of time disappeared.

Minutes, hours, days, weeks later her nails lifted off my skin and she buckled on top of me, both of us smeared with blood, covered in cuts and bruises, feeling more fucking tired than we had ever felt before. I couldn't move. The parts of me that weren't numb were exploding with fierce pain.

My breathing continued to come out in harsh ragged pants and I couldn't move but I vaguely registered the smell of vanilla mixed in with blood and the smell of fruit mixed in with her wetness. Kathryn's body lotion. Kathryn's shampoo.

Kathryn's naked and severely beaten body on top of me.

"Fuck." I cursed out loud. I hadn't meant to do that. I really, really hadn't. I let her blind me again. Maybe my brain didn't want her anymore but my body couldn't pretend.

She propped herself up again and stared me in the eye, a very familiar glint in her eyes. I knew what her eyes were propositioning a second before she asked for it. She bit down hard on my lip and we did it all again.

Sebastian, you are so going to regret this

I sincerely wished I hadn't been such an idiot.

Because now I had no other choice.

Kathryn tried to settle against my chest again after round two. She had this little pleased look on her face and she looked completely satisifed. A disgusting part of me took joy in what I would next be doing.

I shoved her off of my bed.

"Thanks for the send-off, stepsister." I smiled cruelly. "Again, do try to die in a sewer or something grotesque."

"What?"

Oh, that was confusion. "You're a good fuck. I see that. Now if you'll excuse me...well, actually, I don't care if you will or not. See you in hell, you easy whore."

"You're still leaving?"

Oh, that was amazement. And maybe a bit of anger.

"Did you honestly think a lay would make me hate you any less?" I laughed and threw my clothes on.

"Sebastian-" That was definitely surprise and displeasure. Could I detect hurt?

"'You're just a toy, Kathryn. A little toy I play with.'" I grinned. She tried to hit me again but I stopped her and hit her instead. She fell back on the bed. "I thought no one hit you?" My voice dripped with amusement.

"You motherfucker..." She whispered.

"Thanks for the reward. Annette was better." I cocked my head to the side and chuckled as she threw a pillow at me. I shut the door before it could hit me and walked away before I could go back and apologize. The grin disappeared completely as I left the building as fast as I could without running.

I slipped into my car and started the ignition. My lip was still bleeding. Everything still hurt. I shut my eyes.

Damn it... That was harsh.

I felt regret pour into my body.

At least now she wouldn't bother me any more.

I looked back to the building and sighed. I really did love her. But it wasn't in my nature to act any differently. I really loved her but I loved revenge more.

Vaguely, I wondered if she felt the same way. I laughed at myself as I drove off. I was just as bad as she was, if not worse. Such a hypocrite.

I hoped the sickness in my mind that represented my conscience would fade away.

I knew it wouldn't.

I was such a bastard.

They both deserved better. I clenched my jaw and drove faster.

I was so fucked up.