A/N: ...I'm really, truly sorry for the long update. There aren't any excuses for this. As you can tell, I'm still alive, but you should tie me to a stake and burn me. I haven't lost my reviewers, have I? I saw how many people reviewed and I had to stop being lazy and update already. Thank you so much for the reviews. I appreciate them! It's a little late, but Merry Christmas everyone!


Maddie quickly sprinting to his side, pushing away people as she went, not even bothering to apologize to them.

A cold rush of fear coursed through her veins as she landed on her knees, scraping them as she slid on the floor. She felt a tiny pinch of pain at that, but that was nothing compared to what was happening to Reid. The golden-eyed girl took one look at Reid, who held a hand to his bleeding abdomen, his pale fingers already being drenched with droplets of blood. She administered his sight of him before looking up at Tyler, her eyes demanding an answer.

"We were playing pool," Tyler whispered to her urgently, his eyes wide with panic, "and Reid won. One of the guys we were playing with took out a gun and shot Reid from behind."

"Who was the guy?" she asked.

The youngest Son shrugged, eyes strained on his injured friend. "I think his name was Mike or something—I don't know!" he added in frustration. He looked around wildly, staring at the crowd of people. "What are you all staring at? Fucking dial nine-one-one!" he bellowed at them, an anger not commonly seen on him usually.

His angry yell caused a couple of people to take out their phones and dial.

"C-calm down-n, B-Baby B-Boy…" Reid stammered, trying to ease the situation with a grin. But all he ended up succeeding with was a hard wince.

"Don't tell me to calm down!" Tyler screamed, another string of curses running from his mouth.

"He's got every right to panic," Maddie muttered, willing herself to calm down for the sake of Tyler and Reid. She carefully cradled his blonde head in her hands before letting it drop gently to her lap. She didn't miss the sharp intake that had come form Reid. "Sorry."

Reid shook his head. "No p-problem…"

"The ambulance is coming soon," she reassured lightly, fingers stoking his cheek.

She felt someone drop by her side. "Who shot him?" demanded a firm voice.

The blonde Son tried to respond, but Maddie placed a finger against his lips. She turned to Caleb. "We don't know who exactly, but Tyler said it was some guy named Mike," she paused, feeling a soft, but shaky kiss being pressed at the tip of her finger. She looked down incredulously, considering the situation, her butterscotch eyes softening.

He was doing that now?

Reid's response to her sad, questioning gaze was a low chuckle, which ended in a spasm of coughs. Blood landed at the corner of his lips, to which Maddie unhesitatingly wiped it away. She looked at Caleb—the oldest of the four Sons, their leader, and who also looked scared to death upon seeing Reid's state. Behind him, Pogue stood with his back to her, in an attempt to shoo the crowd away.

She leaned in closer to the eldest. "Can't he use to make him feel better?" she whispered.

"He can't. If he uses, he might do something wrong and kill himself."

"What about you?"

"I can, but the risk is too—"

"Reid's on the verge of dying, and all you're worried about is risking exposure?"

Caleb had never seen the golden-eyed girl angry before, but the image in front of him was scary enough to knock himself to his senses.

Here Reid was, coughing and bleeding to death and all Caleb could think about was how many people would see if his eyes would turn black in the consequence of saving his brother or not.

"You're right," Caleb looked at Maddie, as though seeing her in another light.

"No."

Both heads whipped down to the injured blonde boy in Maddie's lap. "No," Reid repeated, hand rose to his mouth to stifle another wave of coughs. "Don't w-worry about m-me, I can wa-ait."

"Reid," Maddie looked down at him hardly, "you're almost dying and the ambulance is taking way too long—"

"No!" That came out louder than Reid had intended it to be and his fingers latched onto her own. His bloodied fingers mixed with her porcelain white ones in a flurry. He squeezed her hand softly, as though he was the one reassuring her.

She felt like crying.

But she hadn't shed a tear since she was two.

Reid's breathing was getting slower and slower by each minute, and Maddie wondered why he was using his power to save himself. Did the boy want to die? Caleb looked stricken. Tyler had already gone outside to see if the paramedics were arriving here or not. Pogue was still attempted to disperse the crowd. Katherine had an open mouth, her eyes still wide at the events that were currently taking place. Nicky, for some reason, was holding a bat and she guessed the owner was gesturing everyone to get the hell out. And she, well…

She felt like one of those useless bystanders one would see in movies and on television, where the bystander would do absolutely nothing while something was happening. All a bystander was good at was really watching and whispering. A good bystander would at least call for help or try to break up whatever was going on. And when Reid closed his eyes for a while, she suddenly panicked at not being able to see his beautiful blue irises.

"Reid," she pinched gently at his arm, getting him to wake up. He didn't. "Come on, Reid, stay with me," she murmured quietly. She lightly tapped his cheek, her taps steadily turning into light smacks.

He didn't move. When his breath hitched, Maddie felt like crumbling.

"Caleb," she managed as she tried to wake Reid.

The eldest turned to crowd. Luckily, Nicky's bat and Pogue's glare was threatening enough to have them distance themselves a couple feet away from them. In a millisecond, Caleb's eyes were already turning coal black.

Tyler came bursting into the place. "They're here."

Caleb's eyes resumed to their normal color. Using his power, he had moved the bullet inside of Reid up to the blonde Son's surface, so that the doctors and the surgeons could remove the bullet without a hindrance. At least Reid wasn't in any potential risk of dying. He left most of the blood clotted there, so that there wouldn't be any leading suspicions as to where patient's blood had gone. He gave an extra dose of power to make sure Reid would be knocked out for the next twenty four hours or so.

When the paramedics came in carrying that stretcher of theirs, Maddie almost didn't want to let Reid go. She felt Caleb place a hand on her shoulder, and she unwillingly let the paramedics take the blonde away from her.

"Thanks," she said, watching the stretcher roll into the ambulance.

Caleb shook his head in response. "I should be thanking you. I shouldn't have been worrying about exposure when Reid's life was in danger," he then chuckled bitterly. "Some leader I am."

Maddie smiled. "Better to be too cautious than too incautious. You'll deal with fewer consequences that way."

The dark-eyed boy smiled back, arm latching around the small girl's frame. "Need a ride to the hospital?"

"Yeah," she replied. She heard a small sigh on her right side, and she turned curiously. "He's going to be alright, Tyler," she reassured Tyler, who wore a deep frown.

"I used on him," Caleb chirped.

Tyler widened his eyes at the eldest Son. "You what?"

"She's the one to blame," Caleb pointed over at Maddie. "She talked me into it."

Tyler knew Caleb Danvers. He had known the older boy since they were children. Caleb wouldn't use for anything unless it was serious, let alone use in a room full of people. The one time Pogue had received a giant scratch on his leg with blood oozing out and everything, Caleb, who had gotten his powers first, refused to use it.

Reduced to speechlessness, Tyler turned to Maddie. "Thank God you discovered us at that alleyway and came into our lives," he told her, without any hint of humor or sarcasm.

Maddie bit back a laugh. "Hey, Tyler?"

"Hmm?"

"Can you describe to me this 'Mike' guy?"

"Sure," Tyler's eyes furrowed in thought. "Well, I think I remember seeing him around Spenser. He's got brown hair and green eyes. I think he plays baseball," he suddenly snapped his fingers as his eyes widened in recognition. "Oh, that right! He's the team captain! Wait until I kill that son of a bitch," he added darkly.

Michael Shepherd?

A frown marred Maddie's pale face. "Not unless I kill him first."


Friday night had been a complete blur to Michael Shepherd.

One moment, he was there like every other teenager, hanging out at Nicky's. He had been admiring Maddie, still remembering her soft rejection to him like a sting. And then he noticed Garwin with some other blonde chick. Here Michael had thought the two of them were together, which was the only reason why he backed out of asking her out. He had a full mind to go over there and ask the pale girl to dance, but a boy had stopped him that night.

Michael didn't know how the conversation went with this unfamiliar boy, who he still couldn't remember, but the last thing he saw were eyes the color of the black night.

The next thing he knew, he challenged Reid Garwin and Tyler Simms to a game of pool. His anger at the blonde Son was already piqued, so his demeanor wouldn't let him refuse the bet he made against Garwin. He grew angrier and angrier when every shot Garwin made went in, and the blonde found himself winning. He had been so angry that his hand had shifted in his coat pocket, feeling something cool and hard before taking it out. Without realizing it, he had aimed for Garwin and pulled the trigger.

As Garwin fell, Michael watched in horror. No—he wasn't a murderer.

He didn't know why he challenged Garwin to a game of pool. Michael didn't even like pool, let alone was he actually good at it! He couldn't play a game for his life!

No, Michael was a good boy, or that's what he told himself. He would never carry a pistol in his pocket. The moment Garwin had fallen, he ran outside of Nicky's, his breathing labored at the events. He started at the gun as if it was an alienable object and he ran the pistol over and over again with his car.

Friday had been yesterday. Today was now Saturday—early baseball practice.

He was extra quiet today, as he hit the balls that raged over him with his bat. As he watched them sail over across the pitch, he mulled over his thoughts. He wondered how he got that pistol in the first place. Which led to his second thought on who the black-eyed guy was that had talked to him earlier. That guy must have slipped the gun into Michael's pocket.

"Shepherd!" a loud voice roused him from his thoughts. He turned to Coach Finnegan, the breath knocking out of him by surprise when he saw Maddie standing beside his baseball coach.

Bat in hand, the captain ran over to his coach and their guest. "Yes, Coach?" he asked, but his eyes were still on the golden-eyed girl, who smiled serenely at him.

"This lady says she needs to talk to you," Coach Finnegan muttered, tapping his pen against his clipboard. He grinned at Maddie. "Now, don't you keep him out too long."

"I promise it'll be quick," she smiled at the coach, blinking when he nodded and walked back to the pitch.

"You've won him over," Michael said in awe, eyes trained on her. "Coach never lets anyone interrupt practice."

"Really?"

"Yeah. This one time, he—" Michael was cut off when Maddie reached out and took the bat he had been holding.

In one fluid motion, the bat was twirling lazily in her hand. She peered up at Michael with a smile, and a second later, that pretty smile disappeared, replaced with darkened eyes and a thin frown. Michael was about to ask what was wrong, but he cried out when something connected with his ribs, nearly smashing them. His hand gripped the pain that was etched there, administering the pain before realizing Maddie had twirled the bat again, ready for another strike.

"Wait!" his hand shot out, palm facing her to stop her.

"Why should I?" she asked tonelessly, the bat swinging again. This time, the bat swung and hit the back of his knees, causing him to jump laboriously in the air before landing his back on the dirt-filled ground. The end of the bat connected roughly with his chest, pinning him to the ground.

For someone so small, Michael didn't know she could do that.

Maddie looked up at the sky, noticing how cloudy it was beginning to get. "Wonderful weather we're having," she observed, the bat digging deeper and deeper to him, ignoring his yelps.

"I know what this is about," he rasped.

"Do you?" she queried. "Alright, tell me."

He didn't know if she was kidding or not, but at the look she sent him, it had him talking. "I don't know why I shot him, okay? I was just mad—" he winced when the bat lifted to hit against him hardly.

"Why were you mad?"

"Because I saw you there with Katherine, and then I saw Garwin with some blonde girl hanging on his arm. I thought you guys had been together and to see you two like that—" he cried once more at another hit.

Her face was leveled with his in an instant. "How is that any of your business?"

He huffed. "Because I like you! And Garwin shouldn't be treating you that way! I had the right to ask you out and he just happened to be there—"

Maddie rammed the bat into his side, letting him cringe before she threw the bat away.

"If you recalled, I rejected you before Reid arrived, so you should have been mad at me, not him," she gritted her teeth, her face the epitome of anger. She grabbed the front of his baseball shirt, gripping it so that the neckline tightened around his neck, making it hard for him to breathe. "If there's a next time, and I'll assure you now that there won't be, you fire your damn gun at me, not Reid. Understand?"

When he struggled to answer, she realized she was choking him. Maddie let loose of his shirt, choosing to glare over at him instead. As Michael slowly nodded, she stood perched over him.

"I don't ever want to see your face again," she told him quietly. "If I do, you'll find this bat in places that'll give you a hard time sitting down once you remove it."

With that said, she left demurely, intending on hiding in the shadows that the school provided her with. Maddie had never been one for dramatic exits. As she left, she couldn't help but grin to herself. Coming today, beating the crap out of Michael, that was all chivalrous of her, wasn't it? It was almost as though she was defending his honor, like the true Prince Charming she was.

Reid was so her damsel in distress.

So deep in her satisfied thoughts, she didn't notice the figure that was perched on Spenser's roof. His eyes had glinted with amusement when he had seen the way she had treated Shepherd with a bat. He turned to look back at the boy, who was still on the ground, probably crying to himself. The figure let out a low, cruel laugh escape from him.

It had been too easy confounding Shepherd.

And with Madeline Bennett in the midst of it all, it would make things even better.

Everything was turning out more perfectly than he had planned.

Meanwhile, at Gloucester Medical Hospital, Reid didn't cease to be himself, even when he just had a bullet taken out from him, and he was living on painkillers.

"Hi," he smiled in his charming sort of way as a middle-aged nurse bustled in. The nurse had blushed, reprimanding herself for blushing at the antics of a boy who was half her age, before placing his breakfast on the table. She left hurriedly, fighting another blush when he winked at her.

"Reid, she could be married for all we know."

Surely he was imagining that mother hen-like voice he knew all so well. That couldn't really be Caleb there. He was just hearing stuff in his mind. The blonde Son turned towards his first visitors. Of course, the rest of the Sons were there, looking over at him anxiously.

"Well, come in," he drawled lazily, eyeing his food with certain curiosity. "It's not like I'm dead or anything."

"But you were close," Tyler said, unfailing concern evident in his dark blue eyes as he gazed at Reid on the bed.

Reid was silent for a moment. He turned to Caleb. "You used on me, didn't you?"

Caleb nodded. "Yeah, I did."

"Why?" came Reid's bewildered response. "Are you stupid, Caleb? There were many people around—" he stopped when he noticed the eldest Son.

Caleb Danvers had been shaking his head to himself, a light smile donning his face. Never in his life did he think Reid Garwin would be reprimanding him one day. It all seemed too surreal. When his grin turned into a full on laugh, he was the subject of everyone's stares.

"Why the hell are you laughing?" Reid demanded eyebrows furrowing. He searched around the room. "Where's Maddie anyway?" Judging the way she held him last night—insert smirk—he would have thought she would be here to visit him too. He tried not to look too disappointed when he didn't see her around.

Pogue lifted an eyebrow. "Why? Do you want her? Oh, wait, we all know that answer to that…" he trailed off, chuckling along with Tyler and Caleb.

"Har har," Reid grumbled. "Now where is she?"

"She said she was visiting Shepherd," Tyler responded.

Shepherd. Michael Shepherd.

Reid almost had a heart attack when he heard that.

"Whoa, Reid, what are you doing?" Caleb asked, pulling Reid back. The blonde Son had bolted from his pillows, determined in getting the needles that were attached to his arm off. He swatted at Caleb's hands when the elder tried to stop him. "You're not supposed to be getting up until tomorrow."

"She'll be alright," Pogue reassured, assisting Caleb at pulling Reid back. "Why so worried?"

"Why'd you let her go?" Reid fumed as he glared at his brothers. "The bastard's got a fucking gun! How do you think I ended up in this hospital?"

The only answer he got was three blank faces.

"You're all idiots," he muttered, falling back against the pillows since both Caleb and Pogue wouldn't let him up.

"She can handle herself," Tyler offered, smiling weakly at the blonde boy's stare. "Besides, I just got a call from her. She says she's on her way."

Reid continued to glare at the whole lot of them. He couldn't really get mad at Tyler, because the guy was Baby Boy and all, Tyler was too willing sometimes. He couldn't stop Maddie. Pogue was the more silent of all of them, being always so pensively thinking. He wouldn't notice if Maddie had gone. So, naturally, all his anger rested on Caleb, the sole person who was supposed to be responsible, supposed to be a leader, and supposed to look out for the welfare of others.

"Speaking of the devil…" Pogue trailed off, noticing a petite figure in the hallway.

On cue, Maddie strolled in, looking thoughtful since her eyes seemed to be glazed over. She smiled at everyone and even smiled wider upon seeing Reid's conscious state. Her smile was so bright, Reid even forgot why he was angry in the first place.

He was so whipped by a girl who—well, he wouldn't consider Maddie his girlfriend…yet.

Sure, they kissed a couple times. He's even taken care of her when she was sick. They had a funky relationship.

"We'll leave you two," Tyler smirked, winking at Reid before heading out, followed by Caleb and Pogue, who were chortling amongst themselves.

Once the door closed, Maddie walked to the edge of the bed, looking at him. "How are you feeling?"

"I've been better," he answered, lying back. "Damn painkillers."

She laughed, and when Reid scooted to the side of his bed and patted the seat next to him, Maddie couldn't help but crawl onto the bed with him. While he lied under the sheets, she stayed on top, so she guessed it was safe. They stayed quiet. Too quiet for too long. It was unnatural for the two of them to be staying that silent.

"I'm sorry," Maddie started, her fingers playing with the hospital sheets, "about the Michael stuff and everything. You shouldn't have gotten shot."

"Did you figure out why that fuckwit shot me?" Reid's tone was bitter.

"He was angry at you. I mean, Michael thought we were together, considering I rejected the date he asked me to go with, and since you popped up that day, he sort of put two and two together. And then he saw you this blonde girl and he just got mad."

Reid wanted to ask if she had been jealous upon mentioning the 'blonde girl', but her tone didn't sound envious at all. So she wasn't the type to get jealous so easily. Damn, was she so freaking perfect all the time?

And then he thought about that earlier that day on Friday. "I was a dick towards you. I'm sorry," he murmured and the words sounded so foreign to him, since he rarely ever apologized, unless it was to his mother. "I was jealous. Seeing the two of you talking."

She blinked. "Why?"

He shrugged casually, offering a lazy smile. "Dunno. Just was."

"Well, that doesn't bother me anymore," she lied back against the pillows, her arm grazing his side. "Well, I took care of him for you."

"What'd you do?"

"I used his bat."

He guffawed, immediately feeling better on the painkillers. "Good job, Bennett."

"Thanks," she grinned. Her face lessened as she sobered. "Just don't scare me like that again," she commanded, her mind still filled with thoughts of a bloody Reid in her arms.

He snorted. "Speak for yourself."

"What do you mean?" she asked as her head whipped to face him.

For someone so smart, how could she not figure it out already?

"When the guys told me you went to find Shepherd, you don't know how worried I was," he told her, his bright cerulean eyes narrowing at her. "I almost jumped out of bed and considered dragging you back here."

"I told you I took care of him already. You didn't have to worry," she replied, her head tilted to the side—which he thought was a cute trait of hers.

"You don't get it," he sighed, hand gripping his blonde hair. "You know that blonde girl that was hanging around me last night? A couple hours in, I took her to that alleyway and I kissed her—"

"I don't think I want to know about it, Reid," Maddie cut in, staring at the dots on the ceiling.

He gripped her chin and forced her to look at him. "Just listen," he said, waiting for her to nod hesitantly before continuing his story. "So when I kissed her, I couldn't help but think how wrong it was. Usually, I love that shiny thing you girls put on your lips—"

"Lip gloss," she supplied.

"Yeah, that. I usually like the ones that taste like cherry. And this blonde girl had cherry lip gloss on, but it tasted disgusting. And she reeked of perfume. I mean, it was too much. When I touched her hair, it was all dry and didn't feel soft at all. She's got amazingly huge tits and a small waist, and these big brown eyes. And she had make-up on," he stopped his rant, pausing to look over at her face. "Do you get me?"

Maddie's chin was on her hand, listening very intently to what he had been saying. "Okay, if you didn't like girls who wore cherry lip gloss, wore too much perfume, had bleached hair, and pretty much had a non-authentic body, why'd you hang out with her last night?"

Someone please shoot me again, Reid pleaded in his mind. He never thought how hard this was be. Was she really that oblivious? Did he have to spell it out for her?

Instead, his long arms went around her, engulfing her in his circle. Once he trapped her, he pulled her closer to him until she was practically lying on top of him. Reid contemplated the widened look in her eyes, but he leaned in and finally touched her lips with his in the softest of kisses. His mouth felt like a gentle caress against hers. It was so soft, creating a blitheful passion of it's own between their joined mouths. He ran his tongue over her lips, and before she could open her mouth, he had already pulled away. Her eyes resumed thoughtful again, as Reid reached up and tucked a stray strand of dark hair behind her ear.

"You know, that should have been our first kiss," his breath grazed her ear before a kiss was pressed along her jaw.

"So, that girl—" Maddie paused at her words, not knowing if she was right or not, "—was only there to make me jealous?"

Finally.

Reid nodded then, unable to fight the grin off his face. "When I kissed her, I only thought about you. "You," he kissed her wrist, "You," he kissed her shoulder, "You," he kissed her neck, "You," he kissed her chin, "You," he kissed the shell of her ear, "You," he kissed her cheek, "You," he kissed her nose, "You," he finally placed a light, teasing kiss to her lips.

"Oh," she suddenly smiled bashfully. "Why didn't you say so?"

He rolled his eyes. "Gee, why didn't I think of that?"

Maddie leaned in, brushing her nose against his. "You should know that I don't get jealous easily."

"You don't get jealous at all," he corrected, pointing it out for her. "But I still had to try."

"Wait," she watched as Reid laced their hands together, fingers delicately entwining. "This does mean we're together, right? That you're mine, and that I don't intend on sharing you with any other girl?"

He knew there was more threat to her innocent tone. "So possessive—that's hot," he stated. "But, yes, that does mean we're together. And you can't blame me for beating the fuck out of all those guys that stare at you. It would be perfectly understandable as to why I'm obligated to protect what belongs to me."

"What about going on dates?"

"You mean going to expensive restaurants and letting me ravish you afterwards?" he grinned in that trademark cocky manner of his. "Why not?"

"No," she chuckled, resting her chin on his chest. "It doesn't have to be fancy. We could go take walks in the park or go see a movie—something like that."

He leaned and kissed her again. "If you want it."

"Okay." A determined expression crossed her face as he waited. "Reid Garwin, will you go out with me?"

"Hey, that's not fair," he immediately protested. "I'm supposed to ask you."

"We've already established that we're a couple, so it really doesn't matter who asks who."

Reid sputtered. "But—but, I'm the boy. It's practically traditionally for the boy to ask the girl."

"That's old-fashioned, Reid, but maybe for you, it's tradition." This time, she was the one that initiated the kiss as she leaned down. Her tongue winded around his, adding more pressure to his bottom lip as she did so. With another peck, she smiled sweetly at him. "Besides, in this relationship, I'm Prince Charming, and you're the damsel in distress."

Just as she and Tyler had bet on, Reid's staggered expression was priceless.