A/N: This is my first attempt at a fan-fiction so I'm a little nervous about how my story will be received. Please review and if you see any grammar or spell errors, let me know. I've read this chapter over and over again to try and make sure it's clean but that's usually when I miss easily spotted mistakes. Hopefully you will all enjoy my story as it progresses!
001 – In a New York Minute
After a heavy night of drinking, Elijah Moore's favourite thing to do was stumble down to the harbour, plop his rear at the end of a dock and wait for the sun to rise. With a beer bottle in hand and his bare feet wading in the river, he could sit for hours just peering up at the coming dawn. His cousin, Lana, on the other hand, was fast asleep by the time the sun managed to break over the horizon. She had never once made it to sunrise no matter how many Friday nights Elijah pulled her down to the pier. Despite her inability to stay awake, Lana had always followed her cousin down to his favourite dock and she would sit with him until someone shook her awake and said they were home.
There was one night in particular, the only night she didn't go, that happened to change their lives forever. Megan had been beyond plastered and was at the point where they weren't sure if she should've been brought to the hospital to get her stomach pumped. Lana had had a cold and the headache raging through her brain told her enough was enough. She and Connie offered to take Megan home and Tyler said he would drive them. That left Vincent and Elijah to stumble to the harbour, beers in hand and cheer on the sunrise.
Only Vincent and Elijah weren't alone on the docks that night.
It was early morning when her roommates came stumbling in, large grins upon their faces and a fresh bottle of beer in their hands. Lana had been woken early by her never ending headache and struggled down the stairs to see both of them laughing happily upon their leather sofa.
"Did you two just get home?" She asked, shuffling past them and towards their white washed kitchen. Luckily it seemed the two idiots had already started brewing a pot of coffee, something she wanted nothing more than to drown in.
Vincent shot her a mischievous grin, his bloodshot eyes twinkling, "I think we've solved our money problem, baby."
"What are you talking about?"
Lana knew they all wish they had a little more in the bank. She knew she did. Being a waitress didn't pay much but it was the first job she had been able to come by when she arrived in New York City. It was also the closest she could get to her dream of one day running a bakery, at least for the time being. Despite her tiny pay checks, living in a house of six roommates made board decently cheap and she had yet to really worry about making her bills meet.
Lana's cousin mirrored the same up to no good look his friend held, "Don't worry your pretty little head about it. We just happened to meet up with a few friends who happened to have a couple job openings."
She gathered a blue mug from the drying rack, pouring the glorious murky liquid inside, "A job? You, Elijah Moore, got another job? Since when did you get off your ass and pull your own weight?"
"Oh laugh it up, kid," scoffed Elijah. "Vince and I will be rolling in dough by the end of the month."
Her right eyebrow rose. Rolling in dough? Elijah had only worked two jobs in his entire life. He had been a dishwasher at her mother's restaurant and recently an errand boy at prestigious law firm. Lana hardly thought that qualified him for the big bucks. Vincent wasn't much better. Coming from a wealthy family he had never had to lift a finger and though he was charming she couldn't see being a 'rich brat' as much of a credential.
"I don't understand. What the hell type of job did you two get?"
"Don't worry about it, Lana," said Vincent, brushing off his girlfriend's concern with a wave of his hand. "We've got it all under control."
"I find that hard to believe," muttered Lana, drowning her unease in a rather horrible brew. "Who made this? It's crap."
"Didn't we tell you?" Elijah asked. "Vince and I found a new use for the coffee maker. It's a great place to hurl in."
The look upon Lana's face was priceless and the two jokers burst into a fit of laughter as she gagged, rushing to the sink and spitting the remaining coffee out, "Ah! You're disgusting, Eli!"
"He's kidding, Lana," said Vincent, chuckling loudly behind his hand. Elijah was in an uncontrollable fit of laughter, rolling around on the couch, his hands clutching his stomach, "C'mon, Love, you know we'd never do that to you."
"You're both sick," she hissed, slamming her mug down upon the counter. Vincent continued to snicker, pushing himself up from the clutches of their old sofa and stumbling towards Lana's frowning form. His feet slapped across the hardwood, halting right in front of hers. "That was gross and you know it."
Vincent's large hands, calloused and raw from working out, ran themselves down her bare arms and he was pleased to watch the Goosebumps follow his path, "C'mon, Lana baby, you know he just likes to tease you. You've lived with Eli for years and you still let him bother you."
She huffed in his face, "Since when did you get so sensible?"
Vincent placed a wet kiss upon her cheek; the skin was still flushed red with anger, "Someone has to be around here."
"Would you two go get a room or something? You're making me want to puke again and this time I will barf all over the coffee maker," came Elijah's deep voice. He was sitting upside down upon the couch, his long legs kicking wildly in the air. "Dude, you know where my shoes are?"
"You dropped them in the river, bro," laughed Vincent.
Lana buried her tired face in her boyfriend's neck, "What an idiot. C'mon, Vince, I wanna go back to bed. You coming?"
"You need to ask?"
It was about three weeks later when Lana finally realized how crooked Vincent and Elijah's new jobs were. She had been in the kitchen attempting to master a chocolate soufflé her mother made famous in their hometown. Megan was watching television with Connie, both engrossed in a decorating show and upstairs Tyler sat reading a novel.
Lana had just placed her creation into the oven, praying that it wouldn't fall like it constantly did, when their front door slammed open and Vincent rushed inside. There was a wild look in his eyes, a paranoia that screamed as he rapidly looked around their tiny living room.
"Vince?" Megan asked, pushing her lithe body off of the couch. "Vince, what happened to your face?"
"Nothing," snarled Vincent and he kicked his boots off furiously, sending them flying against the wall. "I'm going to bed."
"Vince?" His head snapped up and those once so gentle green eyes locked with the worried brown ones of his girlfriend. "Vincent, hon, what's wrong?"
"What's wrong?" He asked, his voice laced with anger. "You want to know what's wrong, Lana? Your fucking cousin is going to get me killed!"
"Killed?" She placed the oven mitts in her hands down, cautiously wandering towards her furious boyfriend. He was a tall boy, large and muscular with shoulders that might as well have been bigger than their doorframe. Vincent was intimidating when he was angry and with the blood dripping from his mouth, he looked terrifying. His right eye was swollen, red and he struggled to keep it open. "What's going on?"
"I quit," hissed Vincent and when Lana moved to wrap her tiny hand around his gigantic one, he shoved her off of him. Lana crashed into the side of the couch, stumbling backward until her body smashed into Connie's. "Leave me alone, Lana!"
"You asshole!" yelled Megan's shrill voice. "You just hit your girlfriend!"
"Meg, its fine," Lana murmured, allowing Connie to help her back up. Megan didn't bother listening. The tall Hispanic girl had rushed forward with a sharp finger pointed. Vincent only brushed her off with a roll of his eyes. "Vince..."
"Fuck off!" He roared and before either of them could retort his large legs barrelled up the stairs. They could hear him pounding around the second floor, the third, until finally his bedroom door slammed shut. It was only then they dared to speak.
"I... Are you both alright?" asked Connie. "Megan?"
"Alright? I'm fucking livid," snarled the girl. Her tanned face had turned a deep scarlet and it looked as though smoke should be coming out of her ears. "Lana, you sit your ass down. You are NOT going up there."
Lana sighed, obeying her command and flopped back down beside Connie. The couch whined under their weight, "We can't just let him stew, can we? This is the first time I've ever seen him angry -"
"Thank god for that," Megan retorted. She brushed her thick, black hair over her shoulders and it fell like waves down her back. "He's fucking vicious."
"He's terrifying," Connie added and her tiny, pale hands reached for the cordless phone lying on the glass coffee table. "Maybe we should call Elijah."
"No way," whispered Lana. Her voice shook at the thought of it. "I know what Eli's anger's like and if they got in a fight or something I do not want to see him until he's cooled down. At least his brother's up there... Maybe he can talk to him."
Megan replied with an agreeing nod. Connie dropped the phone in her hands between them and they sat silently, neither of them certain what to do. It was an hour later when Elijah showed up and just as Vincent had he stormed through the doorway, tossing his shoes from his feet and barrelling up the stairwell. Lana wasn't certain but she noticed his face looked unscathed.
It was only when they had heard the loud blare of angry music coming from his room did Lana get to her feet. Megan and Connie waited silently in the kitchen, each prepared to dial 911 if anything got out of hand. Lana tried her hardest to assure them Elijah wouldn't do anything stupid but neither seemed to believe her.
The walk upstairs was slow and painful. Her palms began to sweat, her legs quivered and the louder the music got, the more ragged her breath grew.
"Eli," she said, knowing full well he couldn't hear her. "Eli."
Lana's knuckles rapped along the wood, harder and harder until she began to pound at his door. There was no answer. With a stupidity she regrets now, she forced the door open. What greeted her brought absolute horror to her face. Upon her cousin's back slithered a great untameable beast. It was inked into the skin like a disease, traveling the entire span of his build. The tail disappeared down his left pant leg, the head rested upon his right shoulder.
The mauve serpent, with its thorny spine, seemed to be glaring at her, taunting her and hissing, "He's mine now, you stupid girl, and you will never get him back."
"What the fuck, Lana?" A shirt was pulled over the hideous creature, breaking her trance. "You can't just break in here -"
"You... What did you do, Eli?"
Lana's horror was evident. Her eyes were watering, her hands quivering as she stepped forward but all Elijah did was scoff.
"I'm making money, Lana. Lay off."
"Lay off? You want me to lay off?" She cried. "That's a fucking Purple Dragon tattoo, Eli! You joined the fucking Purple Dragons!"
"Oh, very good, Lana, and we always thought you were the dumb one."
"Elijah!" She stepped forward boldly. Any fear she had once had of her cousin's temper diminished. "You – You just -"
"Stutter a little more, cousin, I didn't quite get that."
"You asshole!" snarled Lana. "You just made a fucking deal with the devil! There's no getting out of the Purple Dragons, Eli! You're going to be stuck for life!"
"A little dramatic, don't you think?" He had turned his back to her again, the black t-shirt hiding the hideous deformity he so easily permitted to be stained into his skin. "Look Lana, I get you care but back off. This is my life now and I'm going to live it how I want."
"Eli, you're going to get yourself killed," She was crying now. "You... You can't do this."
"Already did," laughed Elijah. She snarled at him, growled as wet tears slid down her face. Elijah released a half-hearted sigh. "Oh c'mon, Lana, it's not so bad. Besides I'm already bringing in the big bucks. How about I get you that dumb dress you've been saving for for weeks? It'd barely make a dent in my account."
Her cousin moved to pull her into a hug but she slapped his hands away, "You can't bribe me, Elijah. Look, you either quit this dumb gang or I'm... I'm calling Mom."
"Mom?" His laughter sent chills down her spine. "Call your Mom, Lana. Call your Dad for all I care! I don't need them anymore. I've got my own life now and besides I could pay for this whole shitty place by myself with the cash I'm racking in. Now get out of here. I've had a long night."
The door was slammed in her face. She was left staring at the wood, listening to Elijah's horrid music and allowing tears to slip down her cheeks. When the door never opened again and Lana realized that purple beast she had seen was real, she stumbled back down to the living room. Megan was in the kitchen, pacing with their portable phone in hand. Connie sat upon the couch, eyes locked to the television but they all knew she wasn't watching.
Lana cried in Megan's shoulder for a good half an hour. She screamed and wailed until Connie pulled her into a hug. Tyler came down a few minutes later to tell them his twin, Vincent, wasn't coming out of his room. They all sat silently for the remainder of the night, listening to the roar of Elijah's stereo and praying their little family of six wasn't broken for good.
Weeks had past and Vincent and Lana's relationship crumbled. While she tried her hardest to ignore Elijah's sudden new occupation, Vincent grew paranoid and locked himself in his room. Anytime Lana tried to speak with him, to coax him out he snarled and shoved her roughly from his life. She broke it off with him quietly behind the safety of his locked door. He didn't bother answering. Lana supposed they both knew it had ended the night she found Elijah's new ink.
As for her cousin, he now lived on the night. Elijah would sleep during the day and disappear just after the sun set. They only spoke when she was begging him to reconsider and it would end in him either yelling or storming out.
"Eli please!" Lana whined, hastily pulling on her runners. "Just listen to me for once!"
Elijah snarled, slamming their heavy front door shut behind him. Lana quickly pulled it back open, rushing down their cement stairs and out into the street. The late summer air was cool, crisp and she could already feel the pull of autumn's boney fingers creeping through her skin. Her cousin didn't seem to notice the cold despite wearing nothing but a tight t-shirt and dark jeans that clung to his burly build.
"Stop following me, you idiot!"
"Elijah, just let me talk that's all I'm asking!"
Her hands rubbed her bare arms frantically as she jogged after him. The night sky loomed above, the city lights glaring down while roaring cars zipped by as if a speed limit didn't exist. Elijah hurried his walk when he realized she wasn't backing off. Lana was determined and soon she was chasing him down, no longer feeling the chill. Buildings zipped by as they tore down streets and around corners. The street lights above them flickered.
Elijah came to a sudden halt. His cousin crashed into his beefy build and was quickly shoved as he turned. Her feet stumbled backward and she fell, landing roughly on her bottom in the entrance of a dark, dingy alley. Above her Elijah snarled, glaring down at the pleading girl.
"Leave me alone, you fucking idiot! You don't know what you're messing with!"
"Eli, please," Lana pleaded as she stared up at him from the ground. "It's not too late to get out of it. We can leave the city -"
The roar of an angry engine came from behind them and its owner, a sleek new pick-up truck, pulled up beside the curb. A tired sigh fell from Elijah's lips. It was too late. He had tried his hardest to keep her away but his stupid cousin was too stubborn. She cared too much and now there was nothing left he could do.
"Hey! Got a new toy, Eli?"
"Back off guys, it's just my stupid cousin," snarled Elijah.
The pick-up's heavy doors slammed shut and Elijah watched as his cousin winced at the sound. Three men approached each one more frightening then the next. Lana's large eyes widened to near impossible extremes until her chocolate brown orbs tried gathering Elijah's. He did his best to look away.
Lana felt her breath catch and she stumbled to her feet, backing away cautiously. Elijah just watched her and tried to tell himself there was nothing he could do. She had dug her own grave, not him. This wasn't his fault.
"Cousin?" The tallest asked. They were all dressed in black, clad in tight shirts and cargo shorts that carried more bullets then a marine. There was a Mohawk on this one and Elijah tried his hardest to remember his name. Nothing seemed to strike him but it was no matter, names weren't important to him and they would do nothing to help him with his goal. If anything names added a familiarity, a closeness that Elijah couldn't risk. "She's cute, Eli. This can't be the 'dumb bitch' you've been talkin' 'bout."
"The one and only," sneered Lana's cousin. "Leave her. Let's get out of here."
The sigh of relief she had released quickly caught as Mohawk laughed. It was a powerful roar that shook his burly body, a roar that caused Lana to shrink back farther into the alleyway. The Purple Dragon looked at her with a devilish grin, cracking his knuckles in his palms while the ferocious tattooed serpent on his bicep curled tauntingly.
"Leave 'er?" sneered Mohawk. "Now, I don't think that's such a good idea. She's been causin' you problems, right? I think if you gave me some time alone I could take care of her... meddlin'."
"Eli," begged Lana, her bottom lip quivering. "Eli, please."
Elijah just watched her, his pale eyes stoic and sombre.
"Eli, don't do this..."
She had dug her own grave, Elijah thought, not him.