Gahh. This is my first M-rated… anything. So forgive me if at any point this is a mess, or confusing, or awkward. I'm learning, here.

I've had this plan bopping around my brain for… God, gotta be three or so months now, which hopefully mean I'll be comfortable enough to write this. I'm not a Mature writer by nature, so you'll have to bear with me until I have a handle on things.

This also means I won't be writing full, explicit scenes. However, that doesn't mean I want the kiddies reading this, so it's staying in Mature. It'll probably closer to a lime than a lemon (that's how it goes, right? At least, that's how I've always understood it. For those of you that know more than I do on the subject, just correct me in a review and I'll be more happy than to make any changes necessary).

Oh, and this will only be a three-parter. I've already figured that much out, thank God, which means there's more of a chance that I'm gonna finish this in a timely manner. And it also means I won't change my mind after reading some of your awesome reviews and try to stretch this out just a little longer. It will be three chapters. Period.

(Is a stubborn pain in the ass.)

You won't be expecting anything very explicit from me (sorry, guys), but there will be more "inappropriate" (i.e., stuff you hear every day on your way down the halls) language, and a few risqué (I love that word… :D) scenes. So be aware, children!!!


Well, I am imagining
A dark lit place
Or your place or my place

-"Paralyzer," by Finger Eleven

Warren Peace was not a morning person.

This wasn't a very commonly known fact, but Warren was reminded almost every weekday morning when he was forced to haul his ass out of bed at 6:30 in the morning. This morning, he knew, was not a weekday, because it was not the blaring of his alarm clock that had woken him up. No, it was the dull, repetitive pounding in his skull and the sharp, piercing light invading his eyelids. This was the clear aftereffects of a hangover from hell, something that he was fortunately not very familiar with, but had enough previous knowledge with alcohol to know this was the result of those damned shots of tequila Stronghold felt the need to pass around to the other Supers.

His mother had left on a call from the Justice League. They needed a Super who specialized in telekinesis, and Angela Peace was one of best telekinetics in the country. This meant Warren was left on his own in their small, rented ranch-style house. This also meant that simple processes like shutting the blinds were lost on an eighteen-year-old guy.

In lieu of rolling out of bed, stumbling across the room, and slamming the blinds shut, Warren settled for slinging a tanned, muscled arm over his eyes. His head was still pounding like a steel drum to a beat of its own, but at least the sharp pain behind his eyeballs was slowly beginning to fade.


That noise did not come from Warren. He was sure of it. They had a cat, which was to say that his mother had a cat, a skinny little tabby with a tiny bell around its neck. Once in a blue moon, when the cat wandered into his room, the tiny little bell would go off incessantly, like a never-ending ringing.

This was not that sound.


There was a very good chance that actually fully waking up and opening his eyes would lead to nothing Warren wanted to deal with. In fact, at this point, it was probably safer for him if he just ignored the-

"Damn… where… is it?"

Okay. He wasn't going to be able to ignore that. That was the sound of another human being in this house, someone who was in his room and, from the sound of it, was rifling through his things. There was no way there was someone in his house. How the fuck…?

He lifted his arm slightly, peeking out through the crook of his arm and trying not to groan at the almost blinding light as his sore eyes adjusted to the bright lights of Saturday morning. When he was finally able to make out more than just purple spots on a bright white background, he was able to see the source of the noise. There was a person- a female person, judging by the curves as she bent down to search for something- in his room, nosing through his clothing, most of which was scattered on the floor, and wearing what looked like his favorite Guns N' Roses T-shirt. And not much else.

"Son of a…" His mysterious roommate straightened up, tossing her hair over shoulder and gathering some clothes up into a ball. "What did I do to deserve this…?"

Warren rubbed his aching head, and propped himself up on his elbows. Yes, the sudden motion did make the world tilt disturbingly off its axis and spin dangerously all around him. But it was a necessary evil, because he needed to make sure- check with his own two eyes- that the girl standing in his room, wearing his Guns N' Roses t-shirt that barely ended at the tops of her thighs, was actually the person he thought it was…


Today was not destined to be a good day. Not only did she wake up to the lovely sight of her completely naked body twisted around Warren's albeit warm, lean, and strong torso, but she also woke up with a frustrating blank on everything and anything that happened the night before.

There was Will's "legendary" end-of-the-year/Fourth of July/Graduation/birthday party that, after their mutual breakup midway through sophomore year, she had chosen to avoid like the plague… Who wanted to deal with a bunch of teenage Heroes (and a handful of Hero Supporters, because the school was still biased, even after the Homecoming Debacle of '06), wasted and horny? She sure as hell didn't.

The only reason she had deigned to visit the bash, which, by 9:30, was fully raging and threatening to turn into a riot (in her opinion), was because of Warren. It was his last year, so he deserved to go out and have some good wholesome fun.

Okay, so picking Will's party as a source of "wholesome" fun had probably been a bad idea from the start, but at the time, she and Magenta had thought it was a great alternative to what they were initially planning on doing- picking up Zach and Ethan and watching the latest Angelina Jolie flick.

They still picked up Ethan and Zach, they just took a tiny detour to Will's house along the way… without letting Warren know.

Once they got there, everything got a little bit… fuzzy. Layla remembered sharing a beer with Magenta (normally she was against drinking on principle, but Ethan had volunteered to be the designated driver and she hadn't saw the harm in having a few sips), and watching Warren stubbornly separate from the group, most likely to sulk somewhere.

After that… she couldn't remember. It was all one big blur, and one huge mess. She had slithered out of Warren's grasp the second she could, and threw on the first article of clothing she could find- an ancient Guns N' Roses t-shirt that was probably new back when her father was into head-banging.

From there, it was a mad rush to find her clothing and hightail it out of there. Layla was a good girl by nature, and not accustomed to the rituals entailed in the Walk of Shame. If she wasn't so freaking humiliated and embarrassed, she might have felt the need to stick around until Warren woke up, at which point they would discuss everything that happened and how it might affect their friendship.

Ah, who the hell was she kidding? This was Warren. They'd never have a conversation like that.

It didn't help matters that Warren's room was a proverbial pig's sty. Everything was littered on the floor, raging from old copies of Rolling Stone to ripped jeans to at least half a dozen black t-shirts… And not a single scrap of her clothing to be found.

Wait- there was something! Triumphant, Layla wrestled her comfiest pair of jeans out from under Warren's heavy combat boots and… socks? Well, at least she knew what order those articles of clothing came off. Not that that information was comforting in the slightest, but still. She had found her jeans. Now all that was left was… the rest of her outfit.

Layla stood up, resisting the urge to groan in frustration. True, she had been muttering not-so-innocent obscenities under her breath for the past fifteen minutes or so, but it wasn't like Warren could actually hear her. The guy slept like a rock. Nothing would wake him up.

She tossed her long red hair over one shoulder, well aware that her hair was a mess, and probably only a few tangles away from entering Rat's Nest status.

Her clothing had to be in this room… somewhere. She took off her jeans! This meant her underwear had to be in the room, because she certainly wasn't wearing it. If she didn't find it soon, she might have to cope with the idea of leaving her panties for Warren find, because she wouldn't be coming back for them, even if they were a set at Victoria's Secret that cost her almost fifty bucks.


Her big, brown eyes widened to the size of saucers and she silently mouthed the word, "Shit." Warren was up? When did that happen? Why didn't she notice? Why hadn't she turned around already?

Turning sharply on her heel, Layla smiled briefly and said, "Hi, Warren. Listen, umm, you clearly just got up, and I'm just gonna go collect the rest of my things and be on my way, 'kay?" She flashed him a significantly brighter smile, but knew there was no point. One glance at Warren's black-brown eyes told her all the information she needed.

He wasn't buying it.

Warren wasn't buying it. The hippie would have to be wasted and high to think she could honestly pull a fast one over him, and he knew she was neither. Hung over, possibly, but she was still perfectly lucid.

"What happened here, Layla?" he asked slowly, his voice gravelly and low from a combination of the hangover and just waking up.

Layla's eyes skittered down to his bare chest, back up to his eyes, then over to the clock on his nightstand. Finally, she dropped the deer-in-headlights look and ran a hand through her long red hair, which he noticed was almost down to the small of her back. The hippie didn't wear her hair down often enough, in his opinion.

"Shit, Warren," she mumbled, startling him from his reverie from her offhanded curse. The hippie never usually cursed. She hated using foul language. "I don't know. I can't remember anything from last night, other than dragging you to Will's party and sharing a beer with Magenta. I don't know what happened, because something had to, if I was suddenly so willing to have possibly unprotected sex with a friend. Shit, I don't even know how we got from the party to here. I mean, this is your house, right? Because I really don't want to contend with the idea of breaking into someone's house and-" She cut off abruptly, opting to tangle her fingers in her hair once more and sigh.

"This is my house," he replied, smiling slightly. Hey, if he couldn't find the humor in this situation, it was going to be a very long day, and it was already starting off pretty bad. A quick mental check confirmed that, at some point during the night, he'd pulled on a pair of boxers before passing out for the night. This meant he was safe to throw off the covers and stand up- except there was something caught on his foot.

Warren didn't remember hallucinations ever being a symptom of a typical hangover, but he could always be wrong. Why else would there be this emerald green scrap of fabric tangled around his foot?

Peeling it off, Warren lifted it up to the light. It was two scraps of green lace, connected to each other by matching pieces of string… "What the hell?" he muttered under his breath.

The second Layla recognized what Warren was holding, she lunged for it, snatching it out of his hands before he could do anything. Blushing furiously, she tucked the tiny little thing into the pocket of her jeans and said, "Uhh… that wasn't yours."

Warren smirked slightly. "I figured that much out, hippie."

Layla blinked. "Right. Of course," she said, blushing to her roots, "Listen, umm… can I use your bathroom? I, umm, want to get cleaned up…"

Warren nodded once and pointed towards the door. "It's the first door to your right." He turned around, finding the jeans from the previous night in a crumpled heap on the ground and pulled them on. It was probably easier if he got dressed quickly and saved Layla from anymore awkward glances. He was just reaching for another shirt when he heard her voice carry down into his room. "Oh…my…"

Warren walked out of his room and turned to the bathroom, but stopped short at the door. The bathroom wasn't much cleaner than his own room. The shower curtain had been ripped from its hooks, and was in a tangled heap, half out of the tub. Everything that had been on the sink- toothbrushes, toothpaste, plastic cups, soap, and more- were scattered across the ground. In between the knocked over bottles of Advil and Excedrin was the ratty gray long-sleeved shirt he'd worn the night before on the ground. There was a black t-shirt overtop from last night, but it didn't appear to be anywhere in the room. He did spot a cheery yellow tank top that he knew had to belong to Layla. He stepped into the room, unsure how to handle this situation. His dad hadn't been in his life long enough to offer tips on relationships, and, even if he had, Warren doubted he'd have anything to say in this instance.

"What… this…" Layla stared blankly at the medicine cabinet, hanging wide open, two of the three shelves broken and most of the contents either on the ground or in the sink. "We did this. Oh… my… Hera, help me…"

When he walked into the bathroom, he stopped short when he noticed something else on the ground. Emerald green, lacy… Glancing over at Layla, he asked, "Those, uhh, panties you were wearing? They weren't… part of a set, were they?"

Layla didn't look over, just stared miserably at her limp and wrinkled shirt. "Yeah," she said softly, "They were. Wait- how did you-" She glanced over at him, then did a double-take in horror at what he was holding up. Sure enough, there was her bra, the second half of the set she'd only decided to wear because it was expensive and she never had an occasion to wear it. And now, not 24 hours after putting it on, Warren was holding up across his broad chest like he might want to wear it.

"Well," he said, "Let's just say that I know this isn't mine." Layla shut her eyes and counted slowly backwards from ten. Maybe if she got her breathing just right, she'd wake up from this horrible nightmare.

She opened her mouth to say something, anything, but no words came out. It was like her life had hit such an unbreakable wall that she couldn't have seen coming with three psychics and a couple of telepaths, and she had absolutely no friggin' idea where to take it from there. She just settled for holding out her hand, and Warren dutifully handed her the bra. Before she could pull her hand away, he grabbed her wrist- not hard enough to hurt, but with enough force that she knew she wasn't going anywhere.

"Listen, Layla, I'm sorry this happened…"

"Listen, hippie, if we do this tonight you're gonna be sorry tomorrow morning."

"No, I'm not."

"Then say it. Say you won't be sorry tomorrow morning."

"I won't be sorry tomorrow morning, hothead. Now stop talking and-"

"…and it really will be okay. I mean, worse things, could've happened, right? Isn't that always what you chipper optimists are going on about?"

Layla blinked rapidly, confused. She had completely zoned out- one second she was talking to Warren, the next, she was… remembering a conversation… with Warren.

Pulling her wrist out of his grasp, she put a hand to her forehead and sat down on the toilet cover. "I think I just remembered something about last night," she said, staring at the tiles and pinching the bridge of her nose. She didn't have a headache, but she was getting tired from all of her freaking out. She needed to calm down for a few seconds and relax. Maybe then she would remember more of the night before.

"What do you remember?"

Layla smiled bitterly and replied, "I don't know where we were, but you made me promise not to say I wouldn't be sorry tomorrow morn- I mean, today."

Warren didn't make eye contact, just leaned up against the sink. "Oh, I did, did I? How courteous of me."

She grinned slightly, more then ever aware of how weird and uncomfortable and completely natural this all was. They were joking around, like nothing had ever happened. It was almost like… any other day. Oh, except she wasn't wearing any underwear and an old t-shirt from the seventies or eighties that wasn't hers, and, oh yeah, she couldn't remember anything from last night. So it still wasn't quite any other day. She continued to stare down at the tiles, and noticed there was a small waste bin next to her. Glancing at its contents, a wry and cynical smile appeared on her face, and she shook her head at her bizarre and unpredictable luck.

"That's one less thing we need to worry about," she said, tipping the waste bin slightly so Warren could see.

When he did, his eyebrows shot up in surprise and he looked up at her. "Twice?" he asked, like he wasn't sure if he was seeing things or not.

Layla picked up the garbage can. "What do you mean, 'twice?'" she repeated. When she saw what he was talking about, her mouth formed into a little 'o' of surprise. There were not one but two condoms in the waste bin. Logically, that would mean…


Layla set the bin down, then snorted. "I can't believe this," she said. She wasn't sure how many times she'd already said that aloud; she'd said it about a billion times in her head so far.

Warren didn't say any for several minutes, but Layla was okay with sitting miserably in silence. Finally, he said, "Layla, I was wondering… Uhhh… last night wasn't your, uhh…"

"First time?" she offered, smiling, barely. "No. I, um, made the mistake of losing my virginity to Will in our sophomore year. Bad idea, because not only was it generally all over terrible, but I also found out it that night was insanely awkward to sleep with a guy that might as well be your brother, not boyfriend. How 'bout you? I mean, I doubt I was the girl lucky enough to deflower Warren Peace."

Holy crap on a cracker, what was she saying? She didn't say shit like that! Shit, she didn't say shit! She was supposed to be a good girl. True, she made the mistake to losing her virginity to a guy she only kind of liked towards the end, but she was still good! She wanted to save people! And the animals! And the rain forest! People like that didn't carelessly make allusions to "deflowering" Warren Peace! And what the hell had made her decide to use the term 'deflowering'?

He quirked a brow at her oh-so-casually offhanded comment but accepted it anyway. Thank the gods, too. If he had questioned her on that one, she wasn't sure if she would have anything at all to say.

"Jennifer Frost. Sophomore year. A week after Homecoming."

If it had been humanly possible, Layla's eyeballs would've popped right out of her head. "A week after Homecoming?" she repeated, incredulous. "When I was a freshman? Oh, shit, I slept with a manwhore."

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Slow down, there, her brain seemed to urge her. First she brings up deflowering, and now she's on to declaring Warren a manwhore? What next, was she gonna get a part-time job as a stripper?

Okay. Maybe that was a stretch.

"I'm a manwhore because I slept with Jenny?"

"No," she said, standing up. "You're a manwhore because you slept with her after knowing her a week."

"She was in two of my classes at that time, hippie," he said, eyeing where the t-shirt met the tops of her thighs.

Rolling her eyes, Layla tugged the shirt down as low as she could and replied, "Oh, please. She may have been in two of your classes, but it wasn't like you ever talked to her before that night. Before I bothered you with all my dumb problems at the Paper Lantern and forced you to hang out with my friends, you didn't talk to anyone."

"Should I be eternally grateful I get to be friends with a bunch of clueless sidekicks?"

"Don't be mean, Warren" she gently chastised, "We're your best friends and you know it."

"I wasn't talking about you, hippie," he said, looking her in the eye.

There was a pause when they just stared into each other's eyes and Layla felt this inexplicable tingle run the base of her spine. She had felt that same sensation last night, right before they kissed… in the Strongholds' bathroom.

Layla finally looked away, running her hand through her messy hair. "I, uh, think I just remembered something else," she said, her voice low and soft. "I think, whatever happened, it started in the bathroom. Not this bathroom. At Will's house."

"Will's bathroom?" Warren repeatedly dubiously. "That's… different. I wonder how Stronghold would take it he found out about-"

"No!" Layla practically shouted, immediately shoving a stubby thumbnail in her mouth and biting down savagely. "You know I don't mean it as an insult, but I don't want anyone to find out…" She knew she was seconds away from crying, but she didn't really feel bad about it. She had never been so stressed out in her life… and it wasn't even 12 o'clock in the afternoon!

When Warren realized how upset she was, his demeanor did a 180, or as damned close to it as he ever could. A normal person's entire expression and possibly posture would change- when Will did it, she was almost always reminded of a puppy that had just been kicked (not a very romantic thought)- but with Warren, almost no changes were visible. It was only because she was such close friends with him that she easily picked up tiny nuances, like the way his eyebrows would quirk down and his frown would deepen.

"Look, hippie, I didn't mean to upset you," he said, shutting his eyes for a few seconds. "I made a stupid joke, and I didn't figure you'd take me seriously. I would never tell anyone about this, especially if you didn't want people to know, and I'd never tell Stronghold, even if you instructed me to do so."

She covered her face, still trying not to cry. Warren would never have told anyone. She knew that explicitly, and it was only a testament to how truly stressed she was that she actually considered that Warren would do something so thoughtless. She needed to go back to bed. Okay, poor choice of words. She needed to go home, and then back to her own bed.

Maybe if she fell back asleep, she'd wake up and this would turn out to be just another disturbing nightmare.

She could only be so lucky.

She stood up, inhaling deeply and trying desperately to control her breathing. Just because this was a mistake did not mean she had to go totally off the deep end. All of this was fixable, it just took time and patience, both of which she in spades.

"Okay," she said, exhaling slowly and smiling. "I'm going to collect the rest of my clothing, and we will discuss this further on Monday. Are you working at the Lantern that night?"

Warren nodded once, pursing his lips in what she assumed was his attempt at smiling. That was enough of a response for her, so she slipped past him and through the door, walking down the short hallway, painted a cheery and somewhat calming pale yellow.

She knew Warren's apartment fairly well, after spending a few weekends with the rest of the gang watching old action movies, and once helping him make pasta for his mom on Mother's Day. He was a great busboy and waiter, but a sorry cook.

Her shirt, oddly enough, was in the small kitchen, on top of the even smaller island. Right in the middle of the tiny kitchen, she slid on her panties and tugged on her jeans, buttoning them under the Guns N' Roses t-shirt. Across the kitchen was the living room, where she could plainly see her black flip-flops lying on the ground, on top of Warren's sturdy and worn combat boots. She stepped into the flip-flops and threw the rest of her clothing into her favorite cloth purse.

She wanted to say goodbye to Warren, but she was too flustered and embarrassed and overall freaked out to actually say anything at all. So, she slipped out of the house, shutting the door as silently as possible behind her, and headed down the sidewalk. She was really fortunate she lived only two streets down from Warren; she really didn't think she could handle having to get a ride home from him.

Layla rifled through her purse, quickly locating her mint green Chocolate cell phone, and called her first speed dial number.

"Magenta?" she said, when she heard her pick up the phone. "I did a very bad thing."


Good God, this is obnoxiously long. Almost 11 pages, and almost 5,000 words. That's a personal record for me, as far as first chapters that aren't oneshots go. And I'm pretty damn pumped about this one.

I know I just released the last chapter of Expectations, but I finished this at relatively the same time, and I just really want it off my computer and out of my hands as soon as possible. Plus, I want to hear what you guys have to say about my venture into the big, bad world of M-rated fiction.

If this seems weird or awkward at any point, tell me. I'm new at this, and I really, really want to know so I can improve. Thanks. :)