Hello! I apologize for the long wait. I had camp and then went to my grandma's house and … *face palm* forgot my laptop! She doesn't have internet either though.

Disclaimer: I do not own anything Never Back Down …

Kate POV

I walked through the crowded hallways of Cypress Creek high school, desperately trying to get to my first class, Psychology, on time. Thanks to Ryan, I knew exactly where it was. It didn't help, however, that it was on the top floor at the opposite end of the entrance.

Finally, after much pushing and shoving, I managed to arrive at class five minutes early. There were only three people in the classroom. Two guys and one girl. I quietly walked in and took a seat in the back corner.

"Are you new here?" the girl asked me. She looked friendly and didn't sound like an idiot skank so I decided to be friendly in reply.

"Yes, I am. I'm Kate."

"I'm Baja. Nice to meet you, Kate." Baja replied with a smile.

I smiled a little. "Nice to meet you too, Baja."

After that, there was no more time for conversation as the rest of the class began piling in. To my pleasant surprise, Ryan was one of them. He gave me a small smile and sat in front of me.

Then, a hot dark haired kid came over to me and stared down at me. "That's my seat."

Everyone in the class fell silent and watched us.

I looked up at him and replied coolly, "Find another one."

The kid leaned into me, close. I could smell alcohol on his breath and suddenly became afraid.

"I said. That's my seat. Get out of it."

Baja suddenly got up, came over to us, and tugged on his arm. "Jake. Stop. You're drunk. Please. Just … go."

The kid, Jake, backed away from me and stared at Baja with such fury, that I for a moment, he was going to hit her.

Then he relaxed slightly and muttered, "Yeah. Sorry …" he looked questioningly at me.

"Kate."

"Kate. Sorry, Kate." And he took the seat next to me.

"It's fine." I muttered.

The cafeteria was extremely crowded, but I managed to make my way to a small two-person table by the window, without spilling my lunch.

As I ate my lunch, I looked around the cafeteria and studied it. There were the Goths sitting at one table. The nerds at another. The popular kids took up at least four tables. And then the rest of the tables were sparsely occupied by single or a couple unpopular kids.

I looked around for Ryan, but then remembered that he had a different lunch period. I did spot Baja. Who was, surprisingly, eating only with one person - a shaggy haired slightly chubby kid. I'd pegged her as a popular girl. Hmm.

She looked up, saw me, and waved me over. After I made sure that it WAS me she was waving to, I picked up my tray, headed over to the table, and sat next to the chubby kid, across from Baja.

The kid looked at me and gave me a really cute smile. "I'm Max Cooperman. Who're you?"

"Kate Warner. Nice to meet you, Max." I smiled.

"Nice to meet you too." He replied and went back to eating.

"Kate." Baja said, quietly, and I looked at her.

"Yeah?"

"Have you met Ryan yet?"

"Yeah, I met him yesterday actually. Why?"

"You should know some … things. About him. About me. About Jake. And Max."

I nodded slightly. "Okay. What sort of things?"

Baja took a sip of her water and then began. "I moved here two years ago. I was a nobody. I had a couple friends that I studied with. That was it. Ryan was the king of the school. The best fighter. The hottest guy. We were both in the library studying one day. He came over to me and we started talking. Four weeks later, he asked me out. I accepted. Of course. I felt that our relationship was different than the ones he'd had with other girls because during the four weeks that we weren't dating, we hung out nearly every day. I knew nearly everything about him. And him about me. We became best friends. He didn't care that it looked bad on him when he talked to me, the most unpopular person in the school, in public. Ryan seemed like such a good person. He never touched a drop of alcohol in his life and I know he still hasn't. He worked out. He ate healthily. He was rich. He was kind. He was funny. He was smart. He was hot. Everything you could want in a guy, right?"

I nodded.

Baja continued. "Then I found out about the fighting. Ryan seemed obsessed with it. He WAS good. The best. Still is. He started being a bully one day out of no where. He would pick on the new kids of the school. The boys, not the girls. He'd be all nice and invite them to his parties at his house and then beat the crap out of them for fun in front of everybody. I thought it was alcohol at first. But it wasn't. To his credit, despite having a horrible temper and me pestering him all the time to stop, he never once touched me in anger. Well. Until we broke up. And that … was because he wanted to tell me something. Important. And … well, we'll get to that. Anyway. We started drifting apart. We didn't see each other as often. The year after I moved here, Jake moved here. Ryan saw him as prey. And he caught it. But Jake fought back. Basically, this is what happened. Ryan beat the shit out of Jake. Taunted him. Insulted his dead father. Jake started training to be a fighter and beat Ryan in the Beatdown after Ryan nearly killed Max trying to lure Jake to fight him again."

My eyes widened and I stared at Max in horror.

He smiled slightly and said, "It's all good now between us. He apologized. And … well, Baja'll tell you."

Baja continued again. "Anyway. I broke up with Ryan in the middle of all of this and started dating Jake. Ryan got angry and grabbed my arm really hard trying to tell me something. Something that I wished I'd listened to. He bruised me pretty badly. That was the only time he hurt me, ever. Anyway. At the end of the whole Ryan/Jake issue, Ryan learned his lesson and went back to being the person I'd met so long ago in the library. Jake … he became the king of the school. I was his popular girlfriend. Ryan, Jake, and Max became fast friends. They were like a trio. And still are. Ryan apologized to all of us about fifty million times. And explained to us why he had done it. Which … I'll let him explain to you, if he wants. It's supposed to be a secret. I'll give you a sneak peek into it though. Basically, everyone knows Ryan's dad is an important man in the underground fighting industry with a fierce temper. But no one ever would've thought that he'd go to such extreme lengths to have his son make him look good. Ryan will elaborate for you if you ask him and tell him that I told you the whole story of everything. Anyway. Everything was going well. We were all best friends. Then, two weeks ago, Jake and Ryan were at a party. Someone spiked Jake's drink. When they were driving home, Jake had insisted on driving, they hit a boy. And killed him. Jake became an alcoholic after that. He also blames Ryan for spiking his drink. Which, Ryan didn't. The police believed his alibi and so do I. Anyway. Jake's an alcoholic now. I'm single after he raped and abused me. Ryan, Max and I are still very good friends. We try to help Jake in every way we can. And … I think Ryan likes you. A lot."