A/N: So, this is a series of one-shots about different people's reactions to Alex's cutting, mostly based off my own life experiences. You will likely be surprised – most people are when I tell them about these things, myself.

Summary: Sequel to 'Scarred', but can stand alone. People's reactions to Alex's new vice, and how he deals with them. Or rather, how he doesn't.

"Is this one new?" Tom asked, pointing towards a scar on his arm, near his elbow, with the still-capped marker. "It looks new."

"I had a fight with Jack, last night," Alex said succinctly.

Tom shook his head, and uncapped the marker, and began doodling again, this time some sort of flame design, with the small cuts being part of the flames, and the larger ones turning into things on fire. Tom pulled out different colored markers, so that soon, Alex's entire left arm was covered in blue, black, and silvery-gray flames.

"That new cut actually had pretty good placing," Tom said. "Great for forking this blue lick."

"I was thinking of you when I made it," Alex said dryly, which wasn't too far off – he had sardonically considered its location as he made the cut, morbid mood he was in.

"Hey, boys," a female voice called from above their positions, seated on the grass near the gate. They looked up to see Melanie Cooper.

"Hey, Mel," they both chorused.

She looked at the new design on Alex's arm, and drawled, "You're getting better, Tom."

"Think you can do something better?" Tom challenged, holding up the box of markers. Stifling a laugh, Alex already was rolling up his right sleeve. This arm had less cuts, but they were a little further apart from each other, so they were easier to work with.

"You bet your arse I can," she said, plopping down beside Alex, opposite to Tom, taking both the box and the challenge, along with Alex's arm, and setting to work, Tom watching on curiously, while Alex turned back to the book perched on his knee, figuring he'd see the masterpiece when it was finished. Besides, he had a chemistry test, today.

He checked his watch – about fifteen minutes before the bell would ring for classes.

"Is that all you ever draw?" he heard Tom ask. He looked over to see some flower stems and the beginnings of petals on his arm. Of course. At least they were all sharp-like and what not, fairly dark and gothic and just a little morbid, so they weren't really that girly. He could put up with it.

"I could be asking you the same thing," Melanie said, jerking her chin towards Alex's other, flame-covered arm, but otherwise never stopping her drawing process.

Rolling his eyes again, Alex went back to the chemistry revision.

About five formulas, and minutes, later, Melanie was done. Alex looked over and just smiled bemusedly, while realizing that had taken a lot less time than he'd thought before classes.

"There," Melanie said.

"This is ridiculous," Tom muttered.

"Hey," Alex said, breaking off the fight before it could even start. "You two can just work together, tomorrow, and draw something else."

The duo laughed, while some of Melanie's friends came up to 'collect' her for class.

"Hey, boys," one of them said – Jennifer? Jamie? – and smiled. "What's on your arm?"

"Either masterpieces or graffiti," Alex said. "I can't really tell which, yet."

That resulted in Melanie and Tom hitting his shoulders in almost perfect unison, and everyone else laughing. Jamie – Alex was sure that was it – dropped down to take a closer look, while the other two leaned against the brick wall to get themselves comfortable.

"These are actually really nice," she muttered, before stroking one of the cuts. That felt very nice, actually…"What are these?"


Alex paused, and mentally berated himself for it. As much as many, many people tended to know about his cutting, it was still incredibly awkward for him to just say it, outright, whenever someone actually asked him, directly.

Luckily, he had Tom.

"His vice," Tom said, before making a slicing motion over Alex's arm.

Jamie's eyes widened. "You mean…you did these yourself?"

Alex just shrugged and nodded. "You didn't know? I thought everyone around here knew…"

The other two girls standing gasped, and one of them actually backed away, which resulted in Melanie rolling her eyes.

"Depression isn't infectious," she said.

"I'm depressed?" Alex asked, raising an eyebrow with a smirk.

The girls just looked at him incredulously, while Melanie dropped her face into her hands.

"You slice your arm worse than my bloody cat on a regular basis and you ask me if you're depressed?"

"Are all the alcoholics, drug addicts, and smokers in this school depressed?" Alex asked.

"True," Melanie conceded.

"He's actually healthier than about a quarter of the school," Tom said, laughter in his voice. "I'm pretty sure all that other shit leaves longer lasting damage."

"Don't encourage him…or them," Melanie said, pointing at one of the girls – the one who'd backed away.

"Why me?" she asked, raising her arms in surrender.

"I have the nose of a bloodhound, remember?" Melanie said. "I can smell the cigarette smoke under all that body spray and mouthwash, believe me."

Said girl rolled her eyes, and finally seemed to not be so shocked about Alex.

"How many are there?" the other girl, besides Jamie, asked.

Jamie, herself, started counting. Alex just shook his head and went back to his chemistry.

"Oi, mate, you'll do fine," Tom said, about ready to take it away.

"I didn't study."

"You'll still do fine," Tom said. "You'll always do fine. Always! It's unnatural, how good you are."

"You're just jealous."

"36," Jamie called out.

"Weren't there only thirty-five yesterday?" Melanie asked.

"He had a fight with Jack," Tom said. "His housekeeper."

Alex just shrugged, while Melanie looked at him disapprovingly, before just shaking her head. "You do use a clean knife, right?"

"Yes, yes," Alex said.

"Just like he'll use a clean needle when he becomes a drug addict," the smoker said.

"Just like I'm sure you use a clean lighter and a filtered fag when you smoke up," Alex said dryly.

"Can we agree that you're all killing yourselves cleanly and get back to more important issues at hand?" Tom asked, one hand waving wildly while the other one pointed to the chemistry book on Alex's knee.

"It's just a bloody quiz," Jamie's non-smoking friend said.

"You're in the bottom set – I'm in the top one!"

"Your own bloody fault," she said.

"You say that like being in the top set is a bad thing," Tom said, accusingly.

"Here," Alex said, flipping back two pages, pointing to one box of formulas, then pointing to another box of formulas on the page he'd been looking at. "These ones are most important. The rest are just variations – you can figure them out as you go, somewhat."

"Thanks," Tom said in relief, pouring over them in the five minutes before class.

"Which of you drew which?" Jamie asked, pulling Alex's arms back towards her.

"Tom the flames, and Mel the flowers," Alex said. "Tomorrow it's going to be flowers on fire, apparently."

"Oh, good lord…" Melanie said. "You're hopeless, all of you!"

Alex just shrugged again, while Jamie continued to study the drawings on Alex's arm. "They're almost like tattoos."

"Yea, except they change every other bloody day," Alex muttered not-so-under his breath. "I wouldn't really want anything permanent."

"I'm going to die," Tom moaned while he looked at the formulas.

"You'll only die if you don't shut up and study those," Melanie said. "And, Alex, if you don't want anything permanent, why the fuck are you cutting yourself?"

"Wait, when did we study this one?" Tom asked, pointing.

"I have other reasons for cutting myself," Alex said, before looking over at the formula. "And, we did that three weeks ago."

"What other reasons?" Jamie asked.

"I don't remember this one!" Tom yelped out. "At all!"

"Then study it now," Alex said. "And, do you two really want to get into a discussion about just how fucked in the head I am?"

"Actually, yes," Melanie said. "I'm very interested to know. Morbid curiosity and all. Kind of like a car crash – you want to look away, sometimes, but…"

Alex just snorted. "Believe me, my mind's worse than a car crash."

"Much worse," Tom said. "It's a roving periodic table with chemical formulae on the back!"

Melanie opened her mouth to retort, but right around then, the bell rang, and she sighed, while Tom moaned.

"We've got two classes before our chemistry one," Melanie said while getting up – she shared this particular class with them (as did Jamie, oddly enough). "You'll live – just study these in your English class."

"Like I said, it's just a stupid quiz," Smoker Girl said. "You should smoke before classes – really helps on quizzes."

"I rather think my chances are helped with a clear head, thanks!" Tom yelped, taking Alex's chemistry book with him, much to Alex's amusement, who just pulled out Tom's for his own use without the boy noticing. They'd switch back later.

"Like I said – focus on the boxes. If you think you've got them down, then try for some of the other stuff."

"Got it," Tom said. "Thanks, mate."

"Good luck," Non-Smoker Girl called as she started to walk towards the building.

"You'll need it," Smoker Girl called over her shoulder, as well.

"I hope you get better, Alex," Jamie said, as she dropped Alex's arm, and followed the other two girls.

"I'm not ill," he said defensively.

None of them seemed to particularly believe him.

As Alex rolled down his sleeve, Melanie said, "I'll see you boys tomorrow – and something to draw planned in mind."

Tom was still lost in chemistry formulas, walking mostly by Alex's guiding hand on his back than by any kind of sigh, but Alex nodded. "Flowers on fire."

She rolled her eyes and went to catch up with the other girls.

"Are you still going to die?" Alex asked, pointing towards the chemistry books.

"No," Tom said. He jerked his chin towards Alex's now-sleeve-covered arms and said, "Are you?"

"No," Alex said. "Not by me. I want to live, believe it or not."

"I believe you," Tom said airily as he turned the pages, going back to his imminent doom. "But still, doesn't hurt to be careful anyway, right?"

Alex laughed. "Don't worry – I am. You have no idea."

Tom just nodded satisfactorily, and the boys lost themselves entirely into the world of torture and hell, aka school.

A/N:Okay, so, because I know inevitably, someone's going to get pissed about the reactions I'd written in for this particular one-shot, I'm going to repeat: these are based off of my own experiences.

Yes, when my friends found out, they didn't do much about it beyond just asking me to stop. Yes, it was used for entertainment. Yes, almost my entire class/grade knew, without the teachers catching right on and instantly reporting it.

Hey, preteens and teens are a far, far cry from the over-protective little angels they're always depicted as in fanfiction, especially in fics which involve dangerous vices like smoking, drinking, and cutting. Get over it, already.

Reviews are always nice, even if they really are just to yell at me. :D