Disclaimer: I don't own Daughters of the Moon—(rated for language and minor "adult" content, I suppose.)

I. An Inbred Army Of Fashion Sluts

Through the murky forest, you peered closely, seeing the thinning trees scattered unevenly amongst the rotting earth, so close to one another, that the jagged branches tangled together, a mess of wooden limbs. You want to flee, to evade of the rotting stench that is clasping hold of you, yet the trees' wicked shadows dance across your meager body, casting a treacherous shadow over the land—you can not escape the darkness. No one can, not in the forest of your mind, the forest that represents the sorrowful realm lingering in your head. It's all chaotic, a kingdom of despair.

In the distance, from somewhere in reality, you strain to hear the sand inside the hourglass, creating a pile at the bottom as time catches up to the rotten land of your mind—the forest of anguish and misery. You hope to hear the cracking of the glass, the cobweb patterns, because you wish so desperately that the hourglass will shatter into small fragments.

Oh, how much you wished to destroy time. The hourglass breaking is the destruction of time. When time halts, ceasing to exist, then the rotten forest you inhabit will forever fall, and that is what you hope for.

The forest, the land, is your mind, your body, your soul—

The crumpled, lined-paper was promptly yanked out of my loosened grasp. Cocking a single eyebrow, I shifted to the side, eyes questioning and displeased once seeing Catty, the paper in her grasp: brown orbs skimming across the words without a care. I tapped my fingers against the tabletop, impatient, till she finally released the paper. Her expression displayed bemusement.

"I happen to thrive off time," Catty teased, perching down on the chair adjacent mine, "no need to diss it."

My lips curled into a wry smile as I stuffed the paper into my handbag. "No need to follow me to the café."

The Awakening, a medium-sized coffee shop: a sanctuary for those, meaning teenagers, wishing to find the newest hangout—why not a coffee house situated near the slums of Hollywood, which was a rough description, seeing as the entire land of Hollywood was the definition of scum and slum. Still, The Awakening remained a quiet place for someone evading the hassles of a crowded city. The aroma of finely brewed-coffee, fresh paint, and flowery incense lingered, a calming affect to an already serene area.

For several prolonged moments, I stared longingly at the small stage near the corner of the room: a raised deck for bands to play during the nights and for poets to bear out their souls through simple, mismatched words and phrases. Would it be worth to effort? I wanted so desperately to share my songs—my beautifully drawn voice—to those who I know and don't know. I wanted to accomplish something.

But honestly, what the hell was poetry?

"Michael Saratoga's been searching for you."

I flinched, not pleased by how Catty pronounced his name, so crisply and full of awe.

"I know, right?" Catty easily interpreted my expression. "I don't know why all the girls squeal at the mere sound of his name. He's nothing special—only useful for eye candy, I admit. His personality is freaking dull, nothing appealing to my taste—"

"Which is everything and anything that moves and has a dick," I finished, giggling madly.

My brunette friend frowned, yet couldn't conceal the amusement brightening in her chocolate-colored eyes. Dark brown tresses framed a rounded face with gaunt cheeks and flat eyebrows. In retrospect, Catty was always the plain one, never once possessing any feature that could qualify as beauty—she was pretty, of course, but not beautiful or stunning or attractive, if that made sense. Her thin figure hinted to an abuse of drugs and such: Catty was into anything that could send her into another world where reality meant nothing, where her present problems no longer existed.

"I love only you," I muttered, grinning ear-to-ear.

"And I, you," Catty admitted teasingly, bowing her head properly, as if that was a sign of her promise that the words were true and etched into stone. Friends since kindergarten, Catty and I were an odd pair, linked together solely by the problems progressing in each other's lives.

Kendra, once a tender woman, was Catty's adoptive mother, yet couldn't ever seem to fit into a good role as a responsible parent: Catty partied till the dawn rose, her grades slipped to failure, and her attitude and appearance resembled that of a druggie—nevertheless, through all these years, Kendra remained unfazed and uncaring: only their for the kind words and good shelter.

Then Thomas came, I bitingly thought, remembering the man that had entered Catty's life several years ago. Thomas was now Kendra's boyfriend—a scrawny, doe-eyed man with a shaved head and bony limbs: veins always protruding. The bruises smeared across Catty's body, hidden behind layers of clothing, finished this story.

"Party at Morgan's tonight," Catty announced, supplying a new conversation.

"I don't like her… She never shuts her trap."

She shrugged. "Not like you'll see her—loads of girls and boys are bound to be there, like always." A devious smile crossed her expression. "I need to buy some "stuff" from her, remember?" She wiggled her eyebrows, up and down, suggestively and playfully.

I sighed, fully knowing most of the druggies in the school: Catty, of course, and also Morgan (who, shockingly, maintained a gorgeous body through and through: not even having dark circles under her eyes or reddish coloring around them). I briefly recalled a boy named "Collin", the brother of the newest addition to La Brea High, Serena Killingsworth. He was a senior, and she, a sophomore, just like me and Catty—I remember him whispering to a drug dealer, asking for something I couldn't make out.

It would astonish parents, what with all the druggies and drug dealers littering the campus.

Times were changing.

"You have to go," Catty pouted: crossing her arms and puckering her lips. I cocked my head, unable to contain the butterflies that erupted in my stomach at the adorable expression on her face. How could I deny her anything, that manipulative bitch? And that's the answer, folks: I couldn't, never…

"I'll go."

She clapped her hands together, a short squeal tearing from her throat, prompting several heads to snap in our direction. Yes, Catty was always the enthusiastic one, making me wonder what her morbid mood appeared as (something I've never once witnessed in the years we've been together).

"But if anything goes wrong," I warned, "I'm going invisible and hightailing it out of there."

She waved her hand dismissively, still the unconcerned one.

I sighed.

OOO

Through the crowded halls of La Brea High, I could clearly see a certain person strolling my way, anxiously, and with a sharp turn, I eluded him: Michael Saratoga. Most would consider me simply being shy. I could scoff at the idea. Of course, I was sometimes a timid girl, but such a trait wasn't why I refused to blatantly ignore Michael. Perhaps it was his attitude, resembling that of a golden retriever, a dog—you know, trailing your path, overly loyal…

Not so appealing, I say.

"Hey, Vanessa," a voice purred in my ear. Already knowing the hoarse voice, I whipped around, and sure enough, Morgan remained behind me, hip cocked and arms folded across her chest. Like every day, she was head-to-toe in silvery, expensive jewelry and the "in" fashion of this week. Her blue eyes were tinged with a hint of fatigue, for they were heavy-lidded—as if keeping them open seemed a terribly exhausting task.

Before I could reply, Morgan launched herself into her normal running talk, words barely decipherable as they meshed together:

"You know I'm having a party, right? You're going, I know that much, but I was wondering if I could, you know, rummage through your mom's closet before Saturday night comes—to pick out some fresh new clothes. You know how I like to set new trends, even though you're the one usually doing it." She sighed dreamily at the statement. "I mean, when's a good time—?"

"Tomorrow after school," I offered.

She smiled genuinely. "Good. All good—three days before the party." Swiveling around on her heel, she strutted off, heels clicking annoyingly on the tile of the hallway. Tomorrow, the safest time—Eleanor, my mother, would still be at her fashion industry, a massive building always crowded with men and women. The women were always decked out with stylish, knee-high boots, unnecessarily large leather handbags, and the latest in fashion clothing, whether it be copies from the sixties to the eighties or that damn punk attire that stupid teens have deluded themselves into wearing day after day, continuously thinking that it was "unique" and showed their "individuality".

Say that to the other thousands of teenagers imitating your "unique" look. Ha, don't make me laugh (I suppose, if you haven't noticed, I have a bitter outlook on fashion).

But yes, Wednesdays were safe times. Eleanor's daily routine consisted of storming into the house, the perfect image of a grizzly bear on fire, and downing as many shots of alcohol and wine before shoving out as many spiteful insults as possible at me. While said insults were being carelessly tossed around, I'd be glancing at the clock on the wall, waiting for 7:00 PM, the time she usually passed out: either collapsing on her bed or on the ground, I could never predict. She'd wake up around 3:00 in the morning, get everything needed to be done, and fall back asleep—leaving for work at 8:00.

I have such a magnificent mother…

"What a freak," someone, a reedy voice, whispered harshly. I slowly shifted where three girls huddled together, their whispering unnecessary—after all, their target was down the hall, and it'd be hard to hear such words, even in a normal tone, through all the chattering from the other students. Still, I gazed pitifully at the victim, Serena Killingsworth. I, however, continued to observe her, clearly understanding how the term "freak" fit her description.

Serena dialed the combination of her lock, startlingly bright emerald eyes blank (even I could see it, from so far away). She sported a clingy snakeskin skirt, her legs fitted with torn fishnets; a loose-fitting black, long-sleeved shirt covering her torso, sleeves slumping off her shoulder to reveal glossy tan skin—hidden behind another layer of fishnets. Her fashion-attire disturbed me, it being far worse than the other "Gothic" shit going around. I admired her hair, though: long, auburn curls that tumbled to her back, bangs covering her eyebrows.

"Why does she dress that way?" anther questioned, a tinge of disgust in her tone.

"Why do you feel the need to dictate what she wears?" I snapped, comment loud enough. They whipped their heads around to glare venomously, and in seconds, their eyebrows pinched together in nervousness once seeing it was the "oh-so-popular-and-worshiped-Vanessa Cleveland". The girl, her name Corrine, I think, clutched her friends' hands and marched away, making a short "humph".

I rolled my eyes and continued down the opposite end, passing by Serena. For a brief second, we caught each other's eyes, her sending me a knowing look that, oddly, brought upon a shiver running down my arms. Hands in my duffle coat's pockets, the wool warm, I sauntered to first period in slow strides—first period being English Honors: an easy A.

"Vanessa—!"

"No," I snarled, shifting past Michael. I admit… he was—is—stunning: disheveled, glossy black tresses, dimples, and a perfect smile, perfect height, perfect body. Bottom line, perfect—annoyingly so. How could anyone stand that? It may have been years with Catty that spiked my love for the strange and imperfect, but even Michael was pushing it: I mean, going above perfection? Was there such a thing?

I cringed, revolted, at the thought.

"There's no such thing as perfect," people often tell you.

Bullshit:

Tell that to Michael Saratoga.

OOO

"You know, I'm pretty sure druggies are the ones able to actually enjoy Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas," I explained, already not comprehending the psychotic movie being played before the wide screen television—one of the few expensive items in this shabby home belonging to Catty. Thomas was working at his shitty ass job, and probably won't be back until late. After all, what's a day for a lowlife bastard when no beer is involved in the end?

Catty leaned against the plush, beaten couch, giggling manically. "I"—gasp—"have no idea"—snort—"what the hell you mean. It's just fucking insane, I can't even believe it!" I smirked at her. She was always the best company, never throwing her drama at you, unlike all the other "friends" she had, who always involved their problems with my life—whining and bitching constantly.

Uh… horrible.

In order to keep my sanity, I opted to examining the living room—the first room you see the moment you enter the one-story house. The kitchen was also attached: linoleum floor, patches of it peeling, and bright orange walls. Each room smelt of spoiled milk and cat vomit, despite no pet ever being in this house before. Catty's tiny bedroom consisted of a single bed, a broken down, pinewood dresser, and a canvas in the corner: a half-finished painting in the process. Catty, always high, painted the oddest shit—things that no one would be able to imagine; not even children.

"I have an outfit picked out," she suddenly exclaimed. Leaping off the couch, she skipped to her bedroom, me trailing closely behind, the movie abandoned. The small, narrow hallway had photos in mismatched frames, either plastic or finely carved, pinned against the walls: Catty and Kendra, when times were blissful and neither were constantly consumed by daily beatings. For a moment, I paused, admiring the happy smile on Kendra's face.

A smile that no longer existed.

I gasped when I entered the bedroom. How had she managed to change so quickly? Indeed, the outfit she posed for in front of me was the normal clothes she wore for everything: school (which she rarely attended) and parties. It was sluttish, which I've become accustomed to with her. She grinned at me while smoothing her hand up her thigh, sticking out her leg: wearing a leather micro miniskirt and a tight corset that pushed up her cleavage.

The straps of the garter belt under the skirt were visible—her legs sheathed with black stockings—, and on her feet: (more leather) black, knee-high kinky boots. It astonished me that any woman could strut about in public and maintain her dignity at the same time—or man, if that man enjoyed wearing high-heels. I mean, with the crazy world we live in today, everything seemed possible.

For Christ's sake, I had the ability to become a transparent phantom, floating through the air!

"Like it?"

"Always the tramp, I see," I teased.

She eyed me, smirking mischievously. "You know I'm a virgin."

"Not for long."

"I have standards," Catty explained, peeling off the boots and stretching out her legs. I craned my neck, unable to gaze at her—so tantalizing, despite her being a "Plain Jane". She was enthralling through her personality, smile, and dark eyes. How could I resist something for so long? For twelve years, in fact—twelve years, I've opposed the greatest temptation of all, always suppressing my own desires.

Lost, I see?

Did I forget to mention.

Oh, my…

I'm in love with my best friend.

You can wish my luck with that. Or, if you're completely disgusted with these desires rampaging in my body, you can damn me to the deepest depths of hell where I belong—after all, heaven doesn't allow "freaks", am I right? I do recall the hyena being rejected from Noah's Ark for being a freak: after all, who would want something different? No one. I, however, love strange.

My best friend is strange.

… Understand?

Spectacular.

OOO

AN: Yep, a different version. Characters involved—and probably all changed: Vanessa, Catty, Serena, Jimena, Stanton, Zahi, Morgan, Collin, Chris, Kyle, Tymmie, Cassandra, Karyl, Maggie, Michael, Yvonne; other smaller roles, too. Have fun. Some pairing changed and love triangles (and pentagons!) added.