I know death hath ten thousand several doors

For men to take their exits.

-John Webster, The Duchess of Malfi, 1612


Chapter 1

"Samantha," her mother's voice carried up the stairs to Sam's bedroom, marking the start of yet another day to struggle through. "It's ten-thirty. Remember what I was told about not letting you stay in bed all day?"

"Leave me alone, Mom," the dark haired girl protested halfheartedly, well aware that her disgruntlement was falling on deaf ears. "I feel fine."

"All the more reason for you to get up," Pamela Manson replied with strained airiness, and Sam was abruptly aware of the smell of the cooked breakfast her mother was preparing downstairs. "It would be a shame to spend such a lovely day indoors."

"I don't care what the weather's like," the Goth moaned. "It's still way too early." It was times like this when Sam was forced to question if her mother kept herself this impossibly perky with large doses of speed.

"Get up, Sam," Pamela's voice acquired a sharp edge to it. "Or I'm hauling you out of bed myself."

"Alright, alright," Sam conceded, reluctantly pushing the warm covers off her as she made her way out of bed and into the shower. At least she wasn't going to have to face anyone for yet another fifteen minutes, more if she took her time. God, she hoped that it wasn't going to be one of those days. The sole, rudimentary fact governing her existence? Samantha Manson hated her life.

She reached for the friendly razor propped up between her toothbrush and the shampoo, then paused for a moment in indecision, before her hand returned to working her hair into a lather. Not today. Cutting today was just asking to be found out. Although Sam prided herself in her discretion, she wasn't about to push her luck or take unnecessary chances. God alone knew how badly her mom would freak out if she found out. Relief could wait; Sam had more self control than that.

"Morning sweetheart," her mother smiled as Sam descended down the stairs. "Did you sleep well?"

"I guess," Sam grunted in response, still sour about having been evicted from her bedroom.

"Meds are on the table next to your tofu bacon," Pamela Manson chirped, forcibly cheerful.

"Thanks," Sam muttered, her voice still rusty from lack of use as she swallowed the single pill under her mother's watchful gaze, downing it with a gulp of water.

"Well?" Pamela Manson pressed. "How are you feeling?"

"It's not magic, Mom," Sam shook her head in exasperation. "Dr Trevor said that it'll take up to five weeks for the antidepressants to have an effect."

"I know dear," Pamela replied, her worry poorly concealed. "But it's been more than a month now. Are you sure that you don't feel any different?"

"Positive," the Goth replied, wincing. Nothing like unintentional sarcasm on her part to set her mother off. "Or as positive as I can be," she added, her expression wry.

She winced again at the sound of her parent's nervous laughter. "Sammy, have you ever thought that the reason that you're not getting better is because you're letting the Trepiline do all the work for you?"

"No," Sam replied flatly. "I don't think about it. I try not to."

"Don't forget your appointment with Penelope at four o'clock sharp today," her mother reminded her. "I'm sick of her ringing me to complain that you're late."

"How could I forget?" Sam replied with mock excitement. "The woman hates me. Besides, if I already have a psychiatrist, I really don't see why I need a psychologist too. They're just a waste of time."

"Maybe if you started actually trying to make progress in your sessions, she wouldn't have to force you out of your comfort zone so often," her mother said sharply, ignoring the Goth's latter question. "Her sessions cost a fortune."

"I never asked for them," Sam shrugged nonchalantly. This argument wasn't worth any more than that. And she had promised not to break the new windows. "I've made my point before. Give me pills and I'll take them, but I never agreed to go to therapy."

"You can't always opt for the easy way out, Samantha," the blonde haired woman chided. "The best things in life are always those worth fighting for."

"When did you turn into my own personal audio copy of Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul?" Sam queried dryly.

"He's outside the grounds again," Pamela Manson's lips pursed into a thin line as she abruptly changed the subject, her ire with her daughter momentarily forgotten. "Perhaps we should call the police."

The Goth raised her head, choosing to regard her mother for the first time in their conversation. "That scrawny, dark haired kid?" she rose, joining Pamela by the window.

"Unfortunately, yes," her mother shuddered. "I'd wish he'd stop his lurking. He's probably waiting for us to leave home so that he can vandalise our property."

"He's completely empty handed, Mom," Sam retorted, irritation evident as she regarded the strange boy pacing outside their grounds. "There's no way that he's going to manage graffiti without spray cans."

The boy turned, grinning as he caught her eye. The Goth raised an eyebrow in acknowledgment, distrust apparent on her features. Her mother sniffed in disgust, hastily drawing the curtains for fear of being watched without her knowledge.

"There's something not right about that boy," Pamela's fair eyebrows narrowed as she regarded the boy through a gap between the ornate curtains, who appeared to be talking to himself. He frowned, shaking his head vehemently as if in heavy disagreement, as he gestured to the air beside him. Her mother shrunk back as the boy pointed to the curtain behind which they were concealed, talking animatedly to an imaginary figure.

"He knows we're staring," Sam protested, throwing back the curtains. "It's rude."

"It is just as rude to linger outside someone's house uninvited," her mother contravened, uncomfortable of being in the line of vision of their unwelcome visitor.

The boy seemed to have come to accordance with himself, for he smiled, shrugging his shoulders as he buried his hands deep into his pockets, surveying Sam with the same annoying grin.

Her mother's sneer was poorly concealed. "All juvenile delinquency results from poor parentage, and bad breeding."

"Bad breeding?" Sam quirked an eyebrow in satire. "Such as in the case of a self made penniless inventor who twirled deli toothpicks for a living?"

"That was a long time ago," Pamela's declared with firm absolution. "Our family has refined ourselves, and gained much of a reputation since then."

"Some reputation," the dark haired girl muttered under her breath, too bone weary to continue what was clearly a futile argument on her part.

"What's become of youth of today?" Pamela demanded, with what her daughter deigned to be unnecessary haughtiness.

"It's just a kid, Mom," Sam scowled, irritated by her mother's dramatics. "Eventually he'll get bored and go away."

"But just in case, if he's still there in the afternoon when it's time for therapy, promise me you'll ignore him if he tries to approach you."

"Whatever," Sam returned to her breakfast. The sooner she was finished, the sooner she could return to her room and escape the members of her household.


Sam scowled as she left the house and headed towards the street, pointedly ignoring the blank-faced help that shut the door behind her. She hated how her mother had deemed it necessary to inform everyone who worked for them of her so called problem, making Sam's departure for therapy a household-wide affair. It wasn't as though she would ever decide to randomly lash out and attack someone. Wasn't it enough that she had won, that Sam was already forced to endure the multitude of therapy sessions that were forced on her?

The second she turned eighteen, she was moving out. The Goth wasn't one who cared particularly about money, much less material possessions. And she certainly didn't need them to be happy. Hell, she'd probably be a lot happier outside the stifling, smothering confines of the Manson Estate, where everything wasn't brought to her, whether she wanted it or not, on a silver platter. It sucked hard that she still had four years of this to come before she could finally leave.

The estate gates buzzed agape as she keyed in the code required to open them, and Sam was unsurprised by the sight that greeted her. There he was again. That odd boy who had been lurking outside the gates of Manson Estate earlier that morning.

She pursed her lips and pushed past him, refusing to acknowledge his presence. She hated agreeing with her mother, but Pamela Manson was right. There was no merit in inviting unnecessary trouble, but that didn't stop dull annoyance brewing in the pit of her stomach when she realised that he was trailing after her.

Sam stopped, and heard his footsteps abruptly stop. She started again, and the pair of feet behind her resumed their gait, as she fought the urge to look back at him in sheer ire. They made it barely a block before the Goth finally lost her patience. She sure as hell wasn't playing grandmother's footsteps with this moron.

"Why are you following me?" she demanded, spinning on her heels. "Get lost, stalker."

"I don't know," he shrugged, the annoying grin still plastered on his features. "You seem nice. Want to be friends?" he looked at her expectantly, ignoring her previous threat.

"No," she pushed past him. "I'm late."

"What are you late for?" he questioned, unperturbed as he bounded along beside her.

"How is it any of your business?" Sam retorted violently.

"It is," he quipped. "Because you're my friend."

"In your dreams, asshole."

"Are you a Goth?" the boy asked, cocking his head.

"Well done, genius." Sam snapped. "Now go away."

The stranger, however, seemed to take compliment from her insult, a sparkle entering his eyes. "You think I'm clever. Can I have a hug?"

"Oh for god's sake," she shoved him again, this time without holding back. Sam schooled her features blank to mask her surprise, stunned that he had managed to stand his ground. Despite the boy's slim frame of nothing more than skin and bone, he was pretty strong. Perhaps her mother had been right about him living on the streets. He was a lot tougher than he looked.

"I'm Danny," he introduced, as if oblivious to the fact that Sam had attempted to assault him. "What's your name?"

"Get lost," she snarled, stamping her New Rocks. "Or next time it's a steel toed boot to the nuts."

"You've got a lot of anger for someone so pretty," he nodded, probably disillusioned into believing that he came across as sage. Sam didn't bother holding back the mocking chortles escaping her lips. "And you're nasty," the boy grinned. "I like it."

"You're a real piece of work," she rolled her eyes, ignoring the irony of her statement. "You need to get some serious help. And a straitjacket."

"Stop shutting me out. You think no one understands you," he called after her. "But you're wrong."

"What makes you so sure that you understand me?" Sam challenged, her ever present rage boiling dangerously close to the surface, so much so that she could almost feel it cauterising her insides. How dare this whackjob pull the same shit out of his ass as the rest of the so-called functioning society? Judging from the behavior that he had just displayed, he had even less right to preach than she did.

"I never said that I did," the boy called Danny replied quietly. "But I can empathise with you. And wouldn't you say that makes all the difference?" deep blue eyes penetrated her vision, and in a moment of weakness brought on from emotional exhaustion, Sam allowed herself to let her guard down, forming a vague sense of acquiescence with the boy before her. It was the first time that she had ever let anyone even fractionally past her defenses for a very long time. Looking into his eyes, she felt almost sane.

"My name's Sam," she offered finally, turning to leave. While she had decided to stop pushing him away, the dark haired boy had yet to merit himself worth being friendly to. "I'll see you around."

"Wait," Danny prodded her, fumbling as he reached deep in his pocket. To her own surprise, Sam found herself backing away warily, her brow furrowed in apprehension.

"What are you doing?" the Goth demanded. "What have you got in your pocket?"

"Sugar cube?" the blue haired boy offered, presenting a filthy white object to Sam. "Oh wait," he mumbled, half to himself, pinching it between thumb and forefinger as he inspected the lint covered cube closely. "It's dirty."

"You're disgusting," Sam voiced, knowing her words to be an understatement as Danny deposited himself cross legged on the sidewalk and proceeded to pick the lint off his offering to her, displaying a startling degree of concentration on his task.

"Done!" he burbled happily, once again proffering the cube to her.

She reached out to accept the odd gift, then paused, hesitating. What are you doing, she scowled to herself. He's a stranger and a lunatic.

"Don't you want it?" For the first time since Sam had met Danny, his face fell, seemingly overcome with general disappointment.

It was then that Sam realised that this was more than just the simple matter of a dose of illicit drugs changing hands. Danny was offering her more than that, and she was being faced with a choice of whether she was willing to accept what he offered. The Goth's shoulders shook with mirth. Therapy? Or accepting a beyond questionable hallucinogen from a weirdo that she'd just met?

Sam allowed her lips to curve into a smirk. Why was she even contemplating this? No matter what it was up against, therapy lost every time. Like she'd told her mom, she'd take the drugs, but she sure as hell wasn't going to therapy. Not today. And if these weren't the drugs her mother was expecting, pissing her mother off would be an additional plus.

"Well?" Danny looked at her expectantly. "What are you waiting for?"

"I'm not going to down it right here, you moron," Sam glared. "That's just asking to get mugged. I'll take this later- and why are you laughing at me?" she hissed, as the scrawny boy gripped his sides in hysterics, the sounds of his merriment sharp and high pitched.

"What did you think I was giving you?" he chortled. "LSD? Have fun in therapy," he laughed. And with that, he spun on his heels, bolting before she could get a word in edgewise.

A/N: I'm sorry, I know the follow up to the prologue has been a long time coming. And as you can probably already tell, this story might end up being deemed as controversial by some. All I can say in my defense is that I very much intended it to be teenage and flawed, and that I mean no insult by any of it.

Thanks so much to the lovely readers that reviewed the previous chapter:

KorelC, lostghostgirl, cottongum, TexasDreamer01, KHFREAK14, Triggar, Devil Red, Mitochondria, WinchesterPhantom, Mimo-Sene, bottled insanity, Thunderstorm101, danny-fan-101, pearl84, AcousticMaiden, Shuricel, EmeraldCalling, at-a-glance, Chaos Dragon, kia, FunkyFish1991, Starla Blaise, I Collect Bananas, b4k4 ch4n, Chesom549, no.lid, Evil Long Penname Having Individual End, ShieldMaid4JC and Sasia93. :D

Hugs and kisses,