Don't own. Don't sue.

First and Last

The first time Adrian Ivashkov fell in love, he was in the third grade and she sat two rows ahead and to the left of him. He passed her a note with empty check boxes and they split sandwiches from their lunch boxes.

His friends admired him while pretending that "cooties" were the worst thing that could happen to a kid.

He held her hand and she blushed, as much as their kind ever could, and looked away bashfully. Adrian was certain they'd be together for ever. Their names were scrawled on notebooks and desks surrounded by hearts and arrows.

When she moved away at the end of the school year, he cried into his mother's shirt and wiped his nose on his sleeve.

He wouldn't see her again but he still remembered the way she'd separated the blue M&M's from the rest and saved them for him.

That was the first time Adrian Ivashkov experienced heartbreak.

The second time he fell in love was in middle school, his family now lived in Portland. It was always sunny and warm when they kissed behind the bleachers and held hands in the hallways.

They were royalty in name and in status; their peers worshipped the ground they walked.

He couldn't have been happier.

Then she kissed his best friend and Adrian experienced for the second time what it was like to have your heart tear in your chest, he didn't cry this time, instead he threw the bracelet he'd been planning on giving her for their month long anniversary (diamond, expensive, of course) down the drain and waved it a sardonic goodbye.

That was the first time he picked the lock on his parents liquor cabinet, he'd realise later that they hid the good stuff behind a false wall at the back and his father's personal three hundred bucks a pop scotch was kept in his private study.

The third time Adrian fell in love it wasn't with a Moroi, or a Dhamphir or even a Human, it was with a lake.

A beautiful lake.

His parents had a holiday home in the east of Alaska, during the winter, in what little light there was, you could still feel the chill in the air, the lake was just a few minutes away, hidden by a wall of trees and completely isolated, he'd sit at its edge and listen to the sounds around him, in the quiet he could feel the beginnings of Spirit all the more. It wrapped around him like a blanket and he'd feel only his own soul pushing in on him. He loved that place.

When they returned one year later to find a mini-mall in its place his mother was delighted not to have to travel for her shopping needs. Adrian merely stared at the concrete, where once there was pristine water and he swallowed the darkness that Spirit surged in him. With a defeated sigh he accepted heartbreaks familiar presence once more.

The fourth time, he barley remembers, but guesses it was love, because when he thinks on that human girl he met in the casino in Vegas, with the short dress and the bright eyes, who had kissed him full on the mouth and whispered promises in his ear, somewhere deep within it hurts him still.

He woke up the next morning with nothing but a hangover and a huge hotel bill, the notions of a diamond ring and happily ever after still buried in the memory of his fifth tequila shot.

He can't remember her name.

He wonders if she remembers the one he gave her, in place of his own.

The fifth time he thinks it may really be true, he meets her at a ski lodge under dark circumstances, she's bundled up in snow gear and smells like sweat, she gives him attitude and he knows she's something else.

She loves another, he can see, but when the Strigoi come and Rose is left nursing her own heartbreak Adrian thinks he knows so much about it that just maybe he can help her.

They become lovers under false pretence, which back then, felt like destiny to him. She promises him in so many ways, never sounding like lies but being nothing but.

When he drinks her blood, it feels so right to him, so certain that he doesn't hesitate when she runs off with Dimitri, now restored, to clear her name, he trusts her and he's so sure that he ignores the flickers of Spirit that tell him he's mistaken.

When she leaves him he truly hadn't seen it coming, she seems so happy now and it tears him apart to see because he was like that with her but she never was with him. He could never make her that happy.

For what he thinks will be the last time, because nothing could come close, his heart breaks in his chest. He drinks and smokes and for the first time since he begun he cries over his pain and Spirit crushes him just that little bit further.

His mother isn't there to comfort him; he's left with nothing this time.

The last time Adrian Ivashkov falls in love, he doesn't recognise the emotion, it feels different this time, sneaks up on him and fills the cracks between what is left of his mind and all that he is.

He spends his nights drawing golden eyes, until his fingers are almost permanently stained with oils. She teases him about sorority girls with car trouble and he wants to play pool with her.

She's never loved before and he never thought he could again, maybe that's why it takes them both so long. Adrian gets it before she does and when he kisses her the first time she freaks out, clutches her golden cross and avoids him for days. He wonders if it's worth the effort, he thinks he knows how it'll end.

But he lets it happen anyway, risking it one more time, for a Human and an Alchemist who knows way too much useless information and little to nothing about what's important in life. He wonders if he can teach her.

She struggles against it, against him, always trying to fit what she was feeling into a box with a bow, when she fails that, he is there for her and neither can stop what happens from then on.

When the Alchemists try to take her away, when his father rages at him, when even open minded Vasilisa Dragomir stares at him in shock he wonders, just for second, if he'll be left heart broken again.

It doesn't happen and he thinks that maybe if it did, just maybe he'd be able to handle it. She taught him that strength. Even Spirit can't take it now.

But while she's here, with him and only him and looking at him with those golden brown eyes he's sure he'll do anything to hold onto her. Because he knows, once and for all.

He'll never fall in love again.