Ooh, hot damn. She did it again. Wth. N' stuff. Anywho, do enjoy, dear friends of mine. Apologies for the long delay; I decided to do NaNo this month, so I've been focused on that. And then I got distracted by Virtual Hogwarts…which is super fun. Jus' sayin. (NERDSHOUTOUT-IF YOU HAPPEN TO HAVE A CHARRIE ON THERE, TELL ME AND WE CAN NERD OUT TOGETHER. DOES THAT SOUND GOOD? :3)

Cassie's POV

There's nothing but a swirling darkness. My eyes are open, that I know, but I see nothing but white. Thick, heavy white that I can taste. White that I can hear. It's absolutely suffocating, this white. At the same time, it's peaceful. Still, silent, and lonely. But not alone. I'm surrounded by people, by voices. They're shouting at me. And it hurts.

Single words drift out of the clamor; my name, broken bits of prayer, please. Over and over. Please, please, please, please.

I can't handle it. All the pleading, all the screaming, all the noise and the white and the nothing. I can't breathe against the weight of it all. My body is crumbling under the pressure. Little chips of my skin rain off of my body, then chunks, before my entire being is breaking down to dust that floats, suspended, in the white.

"Cassie, please."

My body, drifting uselessly in the white, vibrates with the force of the words, pushing the particles back together painfully. Just as I begin to split up again, new words slam me into form. It hurts so badly I could scream, if only I could find a voice as a cloud of substance. If only I could find a voice to yell back at them, to get them to stop and leave me to float in peace.

"Cassie! Can you hear me?" Yes, I can fucking hear you. Leave me. Alone.

The whiteness around me starts to undulate, waves of gray coming to crash through my body. The disturbance throws me together even more quickly than the words did, until the dust of me is just me again. I'm whole and it hurts. I don't want this; I want to go back to being nothing, to float in nothing. The suffocating white was better than this painful, clashing sea of gray. And the noises; my god, the noises. They're so strong, I expect them to materialize into an axe and split my head open.

My body is thrown up the crest of one of the waves and I fly through the nothing, my limbs bucking on the way down as more waves slam into me. My back arches against the air, my hands curl into fists. Everything hurts and all of that is magnified by the cacophony that's surrounding me.

Somewhere between a descent from one wave and an ascent from another, something explodes inside of me. Or maybe it explodes around me. Whatever the case, there's an explosion and the gray disappears, dissolves with a flash of light bright enough to pierce my brain. The light forms a tunnel and the force of the explosion pushes me through it, faster and faster. So fast, the breath is squeezed from my lungs. So fast, my skin is plastered to my skull and my body feels like it's squishing into paper.

I shoot through the mouth of the light, into a dull world. My torso jerks forward, carried on by the momentum. My eyelids rip open and my breath returns painfully. The noise has faded to a dull roar, dull like the colors of the world around me, dull like the feeling tingling in my fingertips and my scalp.

"Oh, god!" Hands are all over my body, patting at my face, pinching my arms, stroking my hair. I shuddered under the weight of it all, collapse back down. But my eyes stay open and stare around me. Faces; familiar faces, faces that, if I could just concentrate a little better, I might be able to remember…

Instead of remembrance, a flame of pain burns up from my chest, singing right through my heart and pumping through my veins. My mouth opens to scream, and, though I feel it deep in my throat, I hear nothing but the voices yelling instead. I squirm on the ground, try to get away from the fire, plead for it to stop.

And it does.

"Is she going to be okay?"

"Are you going to be okay?"

"I'm more concerned about her."

"So? Will she be fine?"

"Where are we supposed to go now?"

"We can't do anything until Cassie's better…"

"Is she okay?"

"I'm fine," I groan, having to speak much louder than I want over the many different conversations going on around me. Every inch of me is protesting against it, but I struggle to sit up, finding it quite difficult to do with the soft something I'm on practically sucking me back in.

"Cassie," someone sighs and throws their arms around me. It takes me a moment to recognize the warm embrace as belonging to Mira.

"You're hurting me." My eyebrows knit together as I try to keep myself still. Moving too much hurts, hurts a lot. Mira snaps away from me like I just told her I have some deadly disease. Her blue eyes are stretched open in horror.

"I-I'm so s-sorry," she stutters. Her hands flit around her general area anxiously.

"It's…okay?" I'm not really sure, to be honest. I think everything's okay. I can feel all of my limbs, I can move my fingers, my toes. I can see and hear and smell and taste. I know my name and everyone around me, just not why they're so worried…

My fingers drift from my sides to my chest. Which doesn't seem to have anything covering it. "WHAT THE-" I flip over, shoving my body as far as I can onto what appears to be a very crude bed. "WHY AM I NAKED?" Every inch of me is on fire, more from the embarrassment than the pain.

"Don't worry," a girl drawls; the unmistakable tone of Alysia. "The only boy that's been in here with you like that in Selby."

"THAT DIDN'T ANSWER MY QUESTION!" I shriek, absolutely shaking with my rage. They could have, like, done things to me. Or something. "ARE YOU THAT SICK THAT YOU WANTED TO STARE AT ME WHEN I WAS PASSED OUT?"

"Please, don't flatter yourself." Alysia laughs coldly.

"Don't be rude," Mira admonishes. Rude. What's rude is me being stark-fucking-naked from the waist up. What if-oh, god, what if Nick saw me? I don't know if I trust Alysia telling me that it was only Selby seeing me, which is bad enough, trust me.

"I had to Stitch you. And having your shirt off made it easier for me to get do it properly." I strain my neck around and catch a bit of Selby's face. It's about as pink as it can get; somehow I think that, should I slap it, I could make it just a tad bit pinker.

"Stitch me? Why the-What's going on?" My hysteria level is rising rapidly. I can feel the blood pounding through my body, almost to the point where it hurts.

"You…don't remember?" Mira kneels down beside me, coming into semi-focus.

"I'm asking you because I do." God, is everyone an idiot?

"Um, you know, I…somehow think that I need to work on you a little more," Selby mutters, barely loud enough for me to hear.

"Excuse me?" Was that some sort of perverted comment? Has he been fondling me? I'll kill the little bastard, I swear…If it weren't for the sudden haze of fatigue that's creeping at the edges of my consciousness.

"You're bleeding." Mira, the only person I can see at this point, shoves her hand forward, wiggling underneath me and prodding at something just below my left breast. I try to squirm away, but her hand disappears just as quickly as it came. Her fingers are stained crimson.

"Shit," she whispers. "Okay, Cass, we'll put a shirt on you or whatever, but I need you to go back to sleep."

"You can't just tell me to sleep," I protest, though my tongue drags against the bottom of my mouth when I say it. "I'm not going to…I'm not sleeping…" Mira starts to fade slowly, dissolving against the black. I fight, though. I can't let them have me lying around naked anymore. It isn't becoming of a young lady.

"Alysia?"

"I'm on it." I've almost beaten the sleep creeping in when there's a bone melting screeching that pushes me over the abyss.

Waking up the second time is even worse than the first. Instead of my senses coming back to me slowly, they crash in with the force of a train, knock me into reality without time to adjust. The first thing I notice is that I have clothes on, which is definitely a good thing. Next, I find that I'm not in the same bed that I was in earlier. It's less of a mass of blankets and more of a mattress. I have no recollection of being moved, though, and thus my first clear emotion is confusion.

My gaze wanders from the floral patterned comforter covering me to the body sitting at the edge of the bed. It's a bit dark, but I think it's Nick. I feel like I should be angry at him for something, that I should punch him as hard as I possible can, but I can't, for the life of my, remember why.

In my strain to remember, it takes me a moment to notice that Nick's form is shaking slightly, hunched in over himself. Against the faint light behind him, I swear that I see some sort of wetness…

"Nick, you douche. Are you…crying?" I exclaim. I sit up much too fast, only to fall back against the softness behind me.

"I'm not crying," Nick tells me. He turns his face away but not quickly enough to hide THE TRUTH. "There was just something in my eye. Pollen…or something."

"Yeah, okay." I roll my eyes and nudge him playfully. Why would he be crying? He's a man for fuck's sake. Nick takes a shuddering breath and turns back to me.

"Are you feeling okay?" He sure knows how to recover, I'll give him that much. It doesn't look like he's had any sort of feelings other than the perpetual dead-pan he's seem to have lately.

I wait a moment before answering him, taking an assessment of my body. "I…think so. Jesus, Nick, what happened?"

"What…what do you mean, what happened?"

I roll my eyes up at the ceiling. "Well, I didn't just poof like this, did I?"

"You don't remember?" Nick asks slowly. He leans unconsciously towards me. "What's the last thing you remember?" I stare at him intently, thinking back as far as a I can. Gray glimmers of images flash through m mind, half-formed and too finite for me to grasp onto and drag out into a proper memory.

"I…I remember Seeing Kira coming to Black…" My body stiffens violently. "Fuck, Kira! We-we've got to get out of here. Kira's coming, she's going to get-we aren't ready for her to-" Arms are flying everywhere, legs are thrashing on the bed. I'm moving so quickly, it looks as if there's three of me. "Don't just sit there," I scream at Nick. "We've got to leave-"

"Kira's already gone," he says calmly, fighting through my rogue limbs to place a hand on my shoulder. "She's been here. We're not even in Black any more."

My muscles twitch nervously. "What are you talking about?" Now that I pay attention, though, this room is much too nice for Black. There aren't any random stains or cockroaches scuttling in the corners. It doesn't smell perpetually of smoke, nor do I hear the noises of the bar just down the hallway. "Then…where are we?"

"We're staying with a friend."

"A friend?" An edge of suspicion creeps into my voice. "Which friend?"

"One of our, um. New friends." Nick coughs uncomfortably, a blush creeping up his neck. Why in the world…

"You're hiding something," I say accusingly. He's hiding a lot of things. I curse myself for having a gaping hole stuck in the middle of my memories. If I knew what had happened, what is happening might be making a little more sense.

"Well…see, after you got shot-"

"I WAS SHOT?" Isn't that important enough to be told first? Shouldn't I have been informed? Nick, however, doesn't seem to share my concerns about this having not been brought up earlier.

"I…thought you knew? Didn't you wonder about why Selby was Stitching you?"

"I didn't even know he was Stitching me until I woke up last time. Half naked, I might add."

"You were naked." The blush on Nick's neck flares up to his cheeks. "NAKED?"

"A little bit. But can we not worry about my various states of nudity?" My heart is speeding with the excitement. "How was I shot?" My fingers fight under the covers and up the over-large shirt I have on, flattening against my stomach and drifting up to where I can still feel the shadow of Mira's touch. There-where she had been prodding-a puckered blemish, just the size of a bullet and barely two inches from my heart.

"When Kira showed up, things got crazy…" Nick trails off. He's holding back-I can tell. I don't understand why, though. Nick isn't supposed to be hiding things from me; he's supposed to tell me everything. We're supposed to be partners, friends.

"What are you keeping from me?" Nick shakes his head. "Tell me." I shout this, so loud my voice breaks. Nick stays silent, refusing to meet my gaze. What the hell is wrong with him? I'm sitting here with a gunshot wound, and he's not telling me how it happened. I don't understand what's changed in him, or when it happened. He's different; and I don't like it. One bit. "What happened to you?" I should be more concerned about what happened to me, about what happened to everyone in the glitch in my memory. I should be more worried about what's going to happen now, where we're going from this point, how everything's going to work out.

"I don't know what you're talking about." Nick yanks his hand off of my shoulder; I hadn't even realized it was still there. "Nothing's changing between us, if that's what you're trying to get at. We're exactly the same as we were six years ago." His face is hard; too hard for me. Too serious.

"If by that you mean that I'm still vastly more intelligent than you, then I suppose you're right." I laugh anxiously, trying to diffuse the tension I've created. Nick's lips tug up in a shadow of a grin. I sigh. Usually, I wouldn't let up so easily, but I can't find the energy in me to keep it going. Too much has happened and I'm utterly drained. As soon as I rest, though, I swear… "Now, um, who's house are we at again?" Nick looks much too relieved that the subject's been changed.

"That's actually sort of a long story. I hope you don't mind listening?" I shake my head. Honestly, I could listen to Nick for hours right now. In the second between topics, he's melted back into something I'm familiar with, not the strange Nick who's so vehement about Kira or the Nick who cries like a pussy. He's just Nick. My Nick.

I inwardly shake myself. Not my Nick. Never my Nick. He's made that quite clear. We're exactly the same as we were six years ago… Is that what's changed? Not Nick, but me? And he's just been trying to keep me from getting my heart hurt? My fingers yank at the edge of the comforter. This thought distresses me; it's not…it's not like I really have any feelings for him. I decided that a while ago. That much I remember. So he should be back to normal. He should be able to be just as he's always been.

Right?

Does he know something I don't? Should I be worried?

Oh, shit. He's talking.

He's talking.

I nod along with what he's saying. Hopefully, I'm not agreeing to anything outlandish.

There must be some god; the door bursts open before I have to fake my way through more of what Nick is saying. A girl with close-cropped black hair stomps in, a scowl on her sharp features.

"Nick Gant, you little dickface. You have a lot of explaining to do."

So, I hate to sort of bribe, you, y'know, if I get lots of reviews I might just be a little more inclined to get things done quicker…*hinthint* Even though I got TONS with this last chapter, which made me extremely happy. Spoiler for reviewers, and, hopefully, I'll have the next chappie done before too long. 3 Also, thank you, everyone, for all of your support and lovely comments. You make me feel good about myself. ^^ HAPPY HOLIDAYS, ALL! I'll see you next year!