And I've been a fool and I've been blind
I can never leave the past behind
I can see no way, I can see no way
I'm always dragging that horse around

Our love is questioned, such a mournful sound
Tonight I'm gonna bury that horse in the ground
So I like to keep my issues drawn
But it's always darkest before the dawn

-Shake it Out, by Florence + the Machine


It wasn't until my senior year that I started going to our team dinners. Y'know, the things our cross country team would throw the night before meets to carbo-load and 'bond.' I never believed in them before—carbo-loading for 5Ks? Please. It's twenty minutes of your life, I don't think you'll burn through two thousand calories worth of pasta.

Most of the girls knew that, and my teammates weren't fatasses, either. Those girls went to those dinners for one purpose. To talk about who's dating who, what boy they had their eyes on, which colleges they were applying too, you get the picture. When you spend twenty hours a week with a group of people, you tend to become their friends, especially when there's a common denominator. I was the girl that went out of her way to not make any friends. But even with my self-imposed isolation, I could tell they were all best friends on and off the track.

I was a little late to join the cross-country family, rah-rah, go-team spirit fiesta. But by the middle of my Junior year, I did.

"Clover, can you pass the remote?"

Johanna Mason was asking. She was a jack of all trades, and in track she could do anything from the 2 mile to the 200. She insisted on calling me Clover. She was also the reason Katniss Everdeen and I developed the weird, completely impractical friendship we did at the end of last year.

I passed it to her. We all curled up around the Emersons' TV (it was Finch's week to host the dinner), our conversations switching back and forth from boys to cross-country, school to cross-country, makeup to Mount Saint Mary's (our rival cross-country team), and gossip to cross-country. The entire time, Vampire Diaries was playing in background. On occasion Finch—a die-hard fan of the show—would shush us all. "Shut up, I'm trying to watch Delena!"

By the end of the episode, it was close to nine PM, and we were all lapsing into food comas. The room was quiet as we watched its end.

I've never watched Vampire Diaries before in my life, but from what I gathered, a brother was fighting his sister. The brother had a knife in his hand, calling his blonde sister a fool. He had a knife in his hand; she was crying.

Jesus. How melodramatic.

"Go right ahead. Laugh at the girl who loved too easily." All of our eyes were fixated on the screen. "But I would rather live my life than yours, Nick."

Tears were streaming down her face. Pfft. Cliché.

"No one will ever sit around and a table and tell stories about a man who couldn't love."

I froze.

It's a TV show, Clove.

I watched as the brother drove the knife through her heart. Finch was on the verge of tears, emotionally moved by the entire thing. The episode came to a close shortly after that, and that was when the talking picked back up, everyone making some sort of comment on the romantic dynamics or the family feud. And all the while, I clamped my mouth shut, frozen at the foot of Finch Emerson's couch.

I didn't have any sympathy for the brother. The sister's voice rang in my head.

No one will ever sit around a table and tell stories about a man who couldn't love.

The memories came flooding back before I could stop them.

Cato Ludwig.

And like that, my heart started pounding out of my chest.

I was the brother.


A/N: . . . and she's baaaaaaaaaack!

This fic is set a little less than a year after the end of Sweet Nothing. Read it if you haven't, because then everything will make a million times more sense.

Gahhhh. I'm excited. I haven't been this excited about a multi-chap in a long time.

The Vampire Diaries line references a Klaus/Rebekah scene from earlier this season. What can I say? I got inspired.

xx Nina

PS. I like you for reading. I'll love you for reviewing.