Okay, so I totally promised myself I'd finally post this fic when I had it all finished or at least half of it or something, but whatever. I wanted to take my time with it so I wouldn't have to rush the timeline for once for readers. I don't, and I know a new fic is exactly what I don't want to tackle at this point of my life, but whatever. Why not? Might as well celebrate being able to properly post things again. I've gotten a decent enough amount written, though.

But, basically, this fic springs from my realizing, "oh, there are like no Lizzie/Edwin chapter fics out there." And I wanted to be the first, because I have like this insane desire to be the first at things. But obviously I've held back, since I wrote this like, I dunno, months ago, if not maybe a year ago. First started writing, I should say. It's been an on-and-off thing, and I'm blocked right now. But it's also kind of based off of a desire to include a little science in a fic for once, because I like researching things (it makes me feel smart). So there'll be a little bit of that, as you'll see in this chapter, but not so much in the other chapters...

Anyways, first thanks go out to San Cerulean and Lady Azura for telling me what they thought of this fic waaay way before I posted it. Your opinions really meant a lot, and I'll probably be asking you guys all kinds of things later about it, especially since I'm all nastily blocked right now. BTW, Lady Azura really has some completely wonderful Lizzie/Edwin fics out there, by the way, so check 'em out.

Secondly, it should be said that Lizzie and Edwin are teenagers in this fic, so Derek and Casey are in college. I explain most of that later, but it should be noted that Liz and Ed are in their last year of high school... And I think I did a three-year-age-difference between Derek/Casey and Liz/Ed. Edwin's older than Lizzie... Hm, oh, and Marti's five years younger than the both of them. That's about all you need to know, I think.


Bifurcation: Occurs when a parameter change causes the stability of an equilibrium (or set point) to change suddenly.


"The Application of Chaos and Game Theory in My Daily Life"

Okay, so the title needs a little work. I'd been staring at the blank page so long that the words were beginning to blur. The title just glared back at me, so boring, so matter-of-fact, reminding me just how devoid of ideas I really was. My mind was as empty as the page. To make matters worse, the headache I'd been nursing for over an hour had morphed into a raging migraine.

I rubbed my temples in a futile attempt to alleviate the pain. Maybe now wasn't the best time to start. It was as if as soon as I typed that title, I doomed all my ideas to death. It wasn't like I wasn't prepared. Six years of evidence went into this project. I had all the material I needed, but when the time came to write, my ideas just... disappeared. The words wouldn't come.

Frustrated with myself, I minimized the document. I had forcibly realized that it was really pointless for me to stare at the blank document. All it was doing was straining my vision. I pressed a few buttons, opening a very familiar document. I decided I might as well do something productive as long as I was awake, and I'd found that the longer I put off doing logs, the harder it was to remember my observations. I sighed, scrolling down to the bottom of the document, determined to pick up where I'd left off.

Edwin's Log

October 12, 2012

Went to school. Test in Physics. Got Chem test back. I set the curve, so I got a 112. L didn't do so well. Seemed disappointed.

Considering offering her help.

T tried to ask me out again. I ran before she could get the words out.

D dropped by today. Laundry this time. N invited him for dinner. Contrary to predictions, D stayed and then went to L's hockey game. D cheered the loudest, especially when L accidentally body-checked T.

Fine. I cheered the loudest then.

L's team won, despite the blunder. Family went out to celebrate after, toasting to L. I haven't seen L that happy in a long time. L looks tired, pale, and drawn lately. L was positively beaming today. Haven't heard her laugh that much in a very long time.

Out of character behavior, since L usually collapses after games. Wonder why the change in behavior... Note: Analyze differences between the two times to figure out the reasons behind L's unusual behavior.

I frowned, going through some earlier logs. As I read, I began to notice a trend. Lizzie had been acting strangely for at least two weeks, and I had yet to figure out the cause for her behavior. She hadn't been acting strangely enough to cause alarm or worry, but she had been acting out of character... and that was more than enough to whet my curiosity. Besides, she's my best friend. Shouldn't I, of all people, know what's up with her? I vowed to figure it out, pinching the bridge of my nose uselessly trying to relieve the pain between my eyes. But not tonight, I thought wearily. I don't have time...

Still pondering Lizzie's behavior, I pressed save and minimized the document, not bothering to add that I'd been up for hours staring at my project cluelessly. My eyes prickled, dry and bloodshot. I stared at that other screen dully for a few moments longer, hoping some idea, any idea, would come to mind.

Nope. Nothing. I thought of all the research and observations I'd done, carefully cataloging them in my head, searching for any inspiration. Still nothing, even after all that. My head hurt so badly it felt like someone had put my whole cranium in a vice grip. So I sighed heavily, feeling my shoulders sag, and I gave up. Grimacing and holding my head, I quietly exited out of the programs, shut off and closed my laptop. I wanted nothing more than to sleep, but my need for aspirin overcame my need for sleep. I cracked the door open, peering out into the inky darkness of the hallway.

It seemed like no one was up. The coast was clear. I opened the door a bit wider so that I could slip through and made my way downstairs in the darkness. I'd wandered about the house so often at night that I knew the way with my eyes closed. I neither stumbled nor made a sound as I padded down the stairs and across the hallway to the bathroom. I was about to open the door and walk in when I heard something. It was a door creaking open softly. My heart jumped. I've always been jumpy at night.

Immediately my head turned to glance down the hall. My eyes hadn't properly adjusted, but I noticed right away which door it was. It was the door to Derek's room, standing wide open. It wouldn't have been anything suspicious, except the door had opened from the outside, and it wasn't Derek or one of his girlfriends standing in front of it. I squinted in the darkness, trying to make out whomever it was. Whoever it was obviously hadn't noticed me yet, so I took the opportunity to watch him or her.

After blinking a couple times, I realized that the person was neither an intruder nor a male. Marti's grown up quite a bit lately, but the figure was significantly taller than her. Then my vision cleared, and I knew who it was. I was staring at my favorite stepsister, Lizzie. At first I thought I was seeing things, so I blinked a couple more times. But I wasn't seeing things; it was Lizzie poised in Derek's doorway. It couldn't be anyone else. Casey was hours away in Toronto.

Frozen, I leaned against the doorframe and stared at her, wondering what on Earth she was doing. I glanced down at my watch (fortunately digital), noting the time. It was 3:47 on a Friday morning. What was Lizzie doing awake, much less at Derek's door? I ran through the possibilities, but my head still pained me. I came up with nothing.

Lizzie often had trouble sleeping in the past. Nowadays she's usually so tired she can just pass out for hours. However, Lizzie had quite a number of other things to do before resorting to Derek. I had never known her to go to him in the past; she, as well as everyone else, knew never to disturb Derek when he was sleeping. Besides, if Lizzie couldn't sleep, she would've first tried reading, and if that didn't work, she'd listen to some music. That usually was enough, but if she still couldn't sleep, she would've gone downstairs and gotten something to eat, probably a warm glass of milk. If that didn't work, she would try and watch TV. If she was showing no signs at all of tiring, she'd occasionally bake something or clean (very Casey-like of her, really) until she got tired. Finally, if none of that was enough, she would come wake me up and make me help her get to sleep. I can't remember a time when it hasn't worked.

Clearly something is wrong here. She never even came to me. I watched her with beady eyes. She didn't move for an eternity, merely hovering in the doorway, so I was about to go back upstairs. My headache had faded a little, and I was so exhausted. Then Lizzie surprised me and darted into Derek's room with a fleetness I wouldn't have suspected. I rubbed my eyes, not sure what I'd seen. The door, however, was still wide open, so Lizzie must've gone inside. Curiosity piqued, I suddenly found myself walking down the hallway to Derek's room. I could hear his heavy snores, so I knew he wasn't awake. I couldn't help but wonder what exactly she was doing in there, and just what it was, exactly, that she wanted from my big brother.

She either has a lot of guts or has lost her mind. Who knows? Maybe she's sleepwalking. Derek used to do that all the time when he was a little kid. Actually, now that I think about it, he was still a somnambulist a few years ago when he was Lizzie's age and younger. It's funny, but he kind of had a resurgence after the McDonalds moved in with us. I always wondered about that.

Finally, I peered into Derek's room, searching out Lizzie's form in the darkness. She was standing with her back towards me directly in front of Derek's bed, so I couldn't see what she was doing. I could see a little because the moonlight fell on her, lighting up her hair and some of her skin. I frowned, suddenly noticing just what Lizzie was wearing: a nightgown. Lizzie does not wear nightgowns to bed. She usually wears a t-shirt and sweats or pajamas or shorts and a tank-top or sometimes, very rarely, a really long shirt that used to belong to her dad. It wasn't just any nightgown either, but one that was almost scandalously short and immodestly tight. I pointedly tried not to look because I respect Lizzie, and it felt wrong to look at her all... discomposed and... undone. It felt like I was invading on her privacy by watching her.

It was kind of like lingerie with lace trim. It was a light pink color and almost transparent. Lizzie also hates pink. She never wears stuff like that. Her hair was down and messy, a bit curlier than usual, as if its unruliness was intentional. It was like I didn't even know her at all. Does Lizzie have a secret life I don't know about? My frown deepened, and I suddenly noticed that she was leaning down. That could mean nothing good. I felt a white-hot feeling of alarm, and I wanted to dash out and grab her before she did anything. Still, something held me back, kept me from barging right over there and pulling her out of the room.

Lizzie leaned down further, but I couldn't see where exactly she was putting her head. As she bent over, her negligee rode up, giving me a hint of her underwear, red and skimpy. I gulped hard, feeling even more guilty than before, and looked somewhere else. I saw the strap on Lizzie's nightgown fall and then slip too far down her shoulder. The chemise slipped a little further down her body as she finally stopped bending down. I tried to avert my eyes but to no avail. Who was this stranger? My stepsister doesn't wear such flimsy clothes. It's almost as if she's begging for it... I did not just think that. That is a Derek thought, and I am not Derek.

She placed her hands, palms down, either on Derek or on his bed. I couldn't tell in the darkness. My brother kept on snoring in peace, oblivious to whatever it was that Lizzie was doing to him. I was kind of afraid to find out, honestly. Since I had no idea what she was doing to my brother, I was rather alarmed. For all I knew, she could've been killing him or... I won't let myself think about the alternative. That's just sick and wrong. I didn't know how far she was going to go, so I deliberately made a noise in the hallway with the hopes that it would scare her off.

Fortunately, I ducked out of the doorway just in time because Lizzie came barreling out of Derek's room, a look of sheer panic on her face. She was frantically straightening her nightgown, but it only made the already-low neckline even more revealing. Wow, I am seeing way more of Lizzie than I'm used to tonight. I grabbed Lizzie by the wrist before she could escape to the safe haven of her room, determined to find out what was going on and why she'd been in my brother's room... practically molesting him! In doing this, I accidentally wound up pinning her to the wall. My hands clamped down hard around both of her wrists, forcing them up above her head.

Surprisingly, Lizzie didn't scream. Her eyes went wide with shock upon seeing me, though. She was panting lightly, either from surprise, her race across the hall, or the guilt of whatever she'd been doing in that bedroom. I couldn't say. I could feel her heartbeat racing, practically even hear it thud. In the dimness of the hall, I noticed that she was flushed and a little sweaty, as if from shame. A sudden chill went down my spine, and I closed my eyes for a minute, not wanting to know what she'd done. Still, closing my eyes changed nothing. She was still there, crushed between me and the wall.

I could feel her chest heave against mine. Her breasts pressed hard against my chest. I didn't remember getting that close to her, but I knew it was too close. It was inappropriate; it didn't feel right. I opened my eyes and felt her whole body shudder against me in a completely unholy way. I exhaled shallowly, completely flummoxed. She shouldn't have done that. I let out a long breath I didn't know I was holding and looked down at her. Lizzie bit down softly on her lip. Her eyes were devoid of fear; she seemed almost relieved. She avoided my gaze at first, but when I finally caught a glimpse of her eyes, I found them to be mysteriously dark. Her breath was warm on my face, her skin hot to the touch.

Her eyelids fluttered lightly before finally closing. I blinked in confusion, suddenly realizing that the whole mood had changed. Something was indeed not right, only now I was stuck in the middle of it. Lizzie just stood there patiently, not fighting me back, not chastising me, not doing anything... almost like she was waiting for something. I had no idea what she wanted or what she was waiting for, so how could I possibly help her? "Lizzie..." I hissed, trying to catch her attention. Lizzie slowly opened her eyes and looked at me. Just then I got a funny feeling in my stomach, like my intestines were all tied up in knots. "What were y..." I tried to ask her that very question I wanted desperately to know the answer to, but the words hung thickly in my throat.

Lizzie merely stared back at me evenly, but there was a feverish, distracted look in her eyes. It almost seemed like she was looking past me. She didn't speak. I guess I couldn't ask her because, really, I didn't want to know what she was doing to my sleeping brother. I knew all I needed to know. I'd caught her red-handed, and it was wrong. Nevertheless, I struggled to think of something... anything... to say to her. We stood there together, so close, in complete silence, not quite awkward, but not exactly comfortable either. Eventually it occurred to me that I was wasting my time there, and that I would be better off sleeping like I wanted to earlier. Since it was my intention to let her go, I loosened my grip on her wrists, which fell like leaden weights to her sides.

I tried to draw back a little, all too aware of every place where Lizzie and I touched. I needed distance to be able to breathe properly. I hadn't started to move back very far when Lizzie surprised me by reaching out and placing her burning hand on my cool cheek. Her eyes were clouded and heavy-lidded. When she spoke, it was in a low murmur that poured down my spine like a cool glass of water. "In this light, you look a lot like him," she whispered reverently, almost rapturously. I inhaled shallowly and felt myself shiver all over. Her voice almost tickled me. However, a few moments later, epiphany struck as I realized just what she'd said.

It all clicked in my mind. All the pieces fit together; I knew what was wrong with Lizzie—seriously wrong, all right.

Instinctively I drew back, out of her grasp. I saw the barely-concealed hunger in her eyes, the desperation burning inside of her, but I had my limits. I long ago drew the line and vowed never to cross it; I'm not going to stop now. "You're in love with Derek," I said tactlessly, noticing all too well how breathless I sounded. My voice was an octave lower than usual and husky. I felt my cheeks flush, and I was glad the darkness shielded me. Lizzie neither confirmed nor denied it in words, but her body language was enough for me. I saw the way she slumped and dropped her gaze to her feet, clearly ashamed. That's when it really hit me. It was real; my hasty hypothesis proven. I couldn't even say supported like I should because here was unequivocal evidence that my theory was a fact.

Lizzie shuffled her feet awkwardly, not knowing exactly what to tell me. She could feel the disapproval radiating off me in waves. My curiosity was satisfied but not for the better, and now that it was I only wished that I could return to my former state of ignorance. Finally Lizzie mustered up the courage to look at me, painfully managing a smile. "C'mon, Ed, like you never fantasized about Casey during that whole cold-shower phase of yours?" Lizzie retorted weakly, trying to make a joke of it and failing miserably. I remembered those early days of puberty with a scarcely-masked grimace. All her remark served to do was embarrass me further, especially since I had never fantasized over Casey.

Now it was my turn to look away, cheeks burning. "No," I replied simply, "I never did." Casey was off-limits, and she's not my type anyway. It was the other, more agreeable stepsister that had occupied my thoughts those years in the bathroom. For some time after we moved in I had a massive crush on Lizzie. It lasted almost all of middle school until it finally sunk in that nothing would ever happen and that it was wrong. Luckily it faded, and I'd all but forgotten it, but I am not willing to see it come back again. Of course I couldn't let Lizzie find out that I'd once...

Lizzie sighed, shoulders sagging. "Then you're lucky," she quipped dully, leaning against the wall heavily. I just stared at her, still not quite believing it. Lizzie in love with my older brother? Who could believe that? Casey would blow a gasket if she knew! Of course, Casey wouldn't find out. There was a sibling code, and I wasn't about to break it. However, I wasn't going to help Lizzie land my brother when I know it's wrong. She's like a sister to me, and I need to look out for her. Setting her up with Derek is the exact opposite of looking out for her. I don't want Lizzie to get a broken heart, but with Derek it's inevitable.

I just nodded, exhaling heavily, once again noticing just how close I was to Lizzie. One of the straps fell down her shoulder. Lizzie glanced at it, but she made no moves to push it back up. She seemed laconic and apathetic. Her eyes were frighteningly empty. I motioned to her attire somewhat awkwardly, trying to avoid looking at just how little clothing she was wearing. If I looked at it, I wouldn't be able to stop because then I'd notice it. Lizzie's my best friend and my sister, but I'm still a red-blooded man. "Is that what all this is about, then?" I asked almost angrily, gesturing to her lack of clothing. I hadn't realized I was so upset. "You want to seduce my brother?" I growled, practically snarling at her.

Lizzie flinched slightly, flattening herself against the wall. She closed her eyes as if she'd been stricken. I felt bad almost immediately, regretting what I said. Still, I couldn't take it back, no matter how much I wanted to, just like she couldn't take back her feelings for Derek. I hadn't meant to spit out all those awful things and make her feel awful. I just... didn't exactly approve, and she could do a lot better than my brother. She didn't utter a sound or even open her eyes. She didn't even attempt to deny it. I guess she was waiting for me to leave.

So I lightly captured the strap between my fingers, pulling it all the way up to its rightful place on her shoulder. My fingers brushed lightly against her skin. Her skin was still so hot that my fingers burned afterwards. She drew in a ragged breath as her eyelids slowly flickered open. Suddenly she was looking at me again, headlong, with that bewildering look in her smoldering eyes. I didn't know what to make of it, of her. I'd never seen that look in her eyes, that emotion. Lizzie's eyes were warm, friendly, even inquisitive, but not burning... never hard and bold like this. Lizzie knows me better than anyone, but I'd never seen that written plainly in her eyes like it was now, like she was seeing through me. I hadn't moved at all like I'd wanted to, but the aura of distress that hung about Lizzie held me there.

After all, she's my sister, partner in crime, and best friend. If she's drowning, I'm going to rescue her. She goes down; I'm going down with her. Lizzie's eyes dropped down a bit lower as she regarded me strangely. I felt my frown return, wondering why she was staring at me so unnervingly. Then she draped her arms loosely around my neck, moving closer to me once again. I was so stunned by the sudden gesture that I practically jumped up in the air. I blinked, still in shock, and then pulled away. There was something terrifyingly real about the moment. I didn't know what was going to happen next, only that this woman was not the Lizzie I knew. I like to know what's coming next so I know what to expect, and I didn't.

I was forced to take the situation into my own hands. Hastily I removed Lizzie's arms from my neck, grabbing her lightly by the wrist. She was heavy and unwilling to move, so I half-dragged her into her bedroom. She fought me every inch of the way, strangely enough. No one expects a girl in a pink nightgown to be that strong, and even fewer men would admit that a girl in a pink slip is stronger than they are. I have no defense for that since the brain isn't even a muscle, but the struggle was only slightly balanced in Lizzie's favor. The battle for dominance was a complete blur. I don't remember a thing, but suddenly we were all the way across the room, exhausted. With a single motion, I gently pushed Lizzie down on to her bed.

What I didn't notice, of course, was that she'd grabbed me by the wrist, bringing me down with her. Actually, she brought me down on top of her so suddenly I didn't see it coming. I'd forgotten how strong she was, how she could incapacitate a man over three times her size. Falling knocked the breath out of me. I was exhausted and sweaty from our fight and my lack of sleep, my mind wearied by the hours of research I'd done earlier. I lacked the energy to even move at first, let alone push myself up and away from her. That dark, strange look was still in her eyes. She said nothing about my proximity.

She was a puzzle that didn't fit together, a book written in a language I couldn't read. Her grip on my wrist loosened some, but she didn't let go. Not completely. She was holding me there with her just as much as I was laying there, awkward yet comfortable. Lizzie shifted her hips, trying to get more comfortable, knowing I could feel it. It didn't feel right at all. She leaned forward infinitesimally, and I felt her hipbones pressing into my skin sharply. She was so very thin, this Lizzie, all sharp edges and curves. Then she licked her lips, leaning her head back so I got a glance at her eyes. They were whiskey brown, amber-colored, dark and intent and searching. Gone was the lightness, the laughter I knew.

She was looking at me, and I suddenly realized with an awful clarity just what she was intending... what she meant by that stare. Lizzie wanted me badly. Worse still, I knew why. She wanted me because she was really in love with Derek, and she wanted him even worse, but I'd interrupted. Even if I hadn't interrupted, she knew she couldn't have him anyway. She wanted me because she wanted to feel a man, and I happened to be in the wrong place at the right time. She wanted contact, skin on skin, and she was craving it desperately. Desperately enough to settle for me.

Regardless of everything else... the facts that she's my stepsister and my best friend and it's wrong... I was insulted. I've never liked being stuck in Derek's shadow, but I've accepted it; however, I draw the line at being a substitute for my brother in a girl's arms, especially Lizzie's. So I leaped off of her as if I'd been burned. This Lizzie was dangerous, volatile, unpredictable, and I needed to get away from her. I couldn't trust myself around her. "No," came my voice in a hush as I shook my head again and again. I may love Lizzie more than all my other siblings, but I refuse to let her use me. I've kowtowed to Derek, Casey, and Marti's will for my whole life; I'm not about to submit to hers now, compromising all my principles, because she's desperate.

Lizzie sat up abruptly, wrapping an arm around my neck before I saw it coming and pulling my head down towards hers. Her eyes were still so hungry and needy, so intent that I didn't know what to do with myself. So I did what I could, and that was to push her away almost violently. She'd regret this in the morning if she even remembered it, which I doubted. She tried to sit up again, struggling, and I found myself clutching her wrists, holding them down against the bed, once again half on top of her. Liz fought me, though, as hard as she could, but my white-knuckled grip was stronger. I held her down. "Go to bed, Lizzie," I ordered a bit too hoarsely.

Her eyes flashed suggestively, hinting at the other connotation of the words. I suddenly remembered my position. It was as if she was some sort of wild animal, a savage beast, a kind of monster I had to restrain. Lizzie had always been a little spunky, tougher than me, and a bit headstrong. The only difference was that those traits had seemingly multiplied in her hope to get my brother. I realized with a flash of clarity that it was the middle of the night, and I was in my scantily-clad stepsister's bedroom, straddling her and holding her wrists down to the bed. I know how it looks. If I was some other guy... I erased the disturbing thought from my mind as quickly as it had entered. Flushed and barely panting, I removed my hands from around her wrists, seeing the red marks I left behind and knowing they would bruise tomorrow. I awkwardly got off of her, mechanically pulling the covers up over her heaving form. "Goodnight," I muttered hastily.

Unable to stay there one minute more with that stranger I couldn't trust, I bolted out of the room, slamming the door softly behind me, dashing up the stairs to my room two at a time. I climbed straight into bed, physically and mentally exhausted. My headache had returned with a fury, and thoughts kept circulating in my mind, making rest an impossibility. Sleep did not come easily to me; I was too shaken up for that. My eyes would close momentarily, but something always drove them open. My mind neither slowed down nor stopped thinking rapidly. As I could not silence my thoughts, my headache grew even worse, but I dared not go back downstairs and risk meeting up with Lizzie again.

I wound up staring at my ceiling in the dark for most of the night, unable to catch even a wink of sleep. When rays of sunlight flickered across my ceiling, my alarm went off, and I was forced to drag my tired, aching body out of bed. I could barely keep my eyes open. I plodded down the stairs to the bathroom like a zombie, barely awake enough to register the scalding hot heat on my back. Then I dazedly walked back upstairs and dressed slowly. Today was going to suck, I decided grimly. Thanks a lot, Lizzie.

Loren ;

Anyway, I'd really appreciate it if you'd review and tell me what you think. I don't know when exactly updates are going to come (other than when I'm not busy)... but I won't be awful about them unless I'm really stuck, I promise. Thanks! Hope you liked it!