Author's Note: Yeah, The Walking Dead sucked me back in once I finally got caught-up. That, and Daryl/Glenn (Darlenn?) is my guilty pleasure. So along came this idea, inspired by Lady Gaga's Judas video (hadn't seen until recently) . And even though the lyrics didn't do much for me, I loved the imagery and the concept.

So let me know what you think. Reviews and criticism are always welcome and appreciated.

::Prelude to Judas, Part I::

All things considered, Glenn liked to think he was a pretty smart guy.

Sure, he may not be rocket-scientist levels of unbridled genius. He still used his fingers when counting, sung Fifty Nifty United States under his breath when he forgot one, and would have failed half his classes if it wasn't for spellcheck.

But, when it comes to the little things, the obvious things, like making sure he's turned the stove off before leaving his apartment or not wearing socks with sandals, Glenn knew he had it all figured out.

Common sense. Yeah, that's what it was. Exactly what it was. Glenn had a well-developed, keenly-honed ability to make sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts. At least according to Wikipedia. After all, he's been working at this for twenty-four years, and anyone working on something that long had to be good at it.

Because Glenn knew things. Very self-explanatory, yet significant, things. Things such as:

Looking both ways before crossing the street.

Don't hop into a stranger's van because he's offering candy.

If a girl asks if she looks fat in a dress, say no. For the love of God, say no.

And, perhaps the most important, the obvious, the would-be no-brainer, the 'well, no fucking duh'- don't accept a job working as a bartender in a grungy, sleazy, menacing excuse of a bar right out of Mad Max notorious for its biker gangs and police intervention.

Glenn would have sooner jumped into the pedo-van allured by the promise of lollipops from a clown with razor-sharp teeth than start working at the confusingly named Electro Chapel, because in the words of the great Obi-Wan Kenobi; "You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy."

And that was putting it lightly.

The Electro Chapel was well-known in Atlanta. As in, everyone knew about it and stayed far, far away. It was all metal and leather and alcohol and violence- the kind where even the hardest of the hard-core thought about it for a second before taking a step inside. It was one of those places where someone either knew they belonged or knew they didn't, there was no "just breezing through and looking for a good time." Because when people went looking for a good time, it usually meant not dying.

Yet somehow, he, Glenn Rhee- awkward, geeky, pizza-delivering college student with a master's in Common Sense, was now a part of this terrifying, menacing and very much not safe establishment.

He blamed his job.

Yep. Delivering pizza was now officially the Devil's work. It was probably one of the circles of Hell. The one where the victim is forced to drive out to creepy customers in the middle of No-One-Can-Hear-You-Scream-vile, only to get tacky change dug up from between couch cushions as a tip. Only Glenn's personal Hell apparently wasn't diabolical enough, and thus broke away from the loop of endless Horrifying and Mentally Traumatizing Pizza Deliveries to begin the next and final stage of his punishment; being offered a job to make drinks in a bar where getting shived was a way to meet new and exciting people.

Because nothing, not hillbillies answering the door wearing confederate flags and holding shotguns or guys whispering to imaginary friends about hating anchovies, could be more dangerous to his person than working at the Electro Chapel.

However, for some strange reason, one yet to be discovered by man, Glenn was not only working there, he was working there voluntarily.

Maybe it was the cheese fumes? The stress of college? Prolonged exposure to Atlanta's heat? Whatever the reason, the 'why' didn't matter. Glenn's acceptance, as totally insane as it was, aside, this was clearly all his job's fault. If the local pizza joint he worked at had any standards whatsoever, then he never would have had to go to the bar that anyone with two brains cells to rub together and a healthy appreciation of life knew to avoid, would have never been offered a job, and would have never said yes.

Then again, Glenn was the one who applied to deliver pizzas for a place called Kiki's In and Out Pizzeria: All Night and Anywhere.

Nope. Nope. This was still not his fault. Glenn only worked there because he had too. It was necessary, because working meant money and money meant food and Glenn liked food.

He had a good thing going at Kiki's. Saying no to working at the Electro Chapel should have been like breathing; natural and essential to life.

But he hadn't said no.

And here he was; looking at his life, looking at his choices.

So, upon much time spent in reflection, going over in his head the events leading up to this point in his life, contemplating the human condition and the power of one's existence as it works alongside the grand scheme of the universe, he came to one conclusion . . .

Realistically, the blame could sensibly and rightfully be dumped on his parents.

Three years ago . . .

Glenn picked at his chicken, trying not to be obvious about how nervous he was. There were only two outcomes for this situation; bad and not-as-bad. But he had a plan, and he was going to stick with it, even if it meant being disowned. Which would suck. A lot.

He looked over to his dad, who was sitting at the end of their family's modest dining table, then over to his mom, who was sitting at the other end. Both were almost finished with diner. His older sister Shannon was across from him, mindlessly sipping iced-tea while reading over her twenty-page psychology thesis and his little sister Emily was on his left, discreetly trying to hide her broccoli under her mashed potatoes. He gnawed at the inside of his lip. Well, everyone was here. Might as well go for it.

"So," he started conversationally, trying to keep his leg from bobbing like a jack-hammer, "You're probably wondering why I've called you all here." His pathetic attempt at humor fell so flat it hurt, but at least he got a sympathy giggle from Emily.

His parents turned their attention on him and Shannon just sort of briefly looked over in his direction in that 'I'm totally listening to you, go on.' type way. His mom gave him a warm smile that he couldn't return.

"Is there something you'd like to discuss with us, dear?" she asked, and he let out a shaky laugh.

There was a short moment of awkward silence. Well, awkward on his part. Shannon rolled her eyes from across the table, because, seriously, how dare he interrupt her? It's not like there were four other rooms in the freakin' house she could relocate to. Glenn opened and closed his mouth, taking in deep breathes of air, desperately trying to figure out where the best place to start this conversation would be only to have his words to die away as a strangled sigh and start the process all over again.

Jeez, this was hard.

On his third attempt at honest-to-god words, when the eye-rolling and the huffing and puffing didn't make Glenn get to his point any faster, Shannon looked like she was ready to blow his house down. Or at least stab him in the leg with her salad fork.

"Seriously, Glenn? You are how old again? Just get on with it." Older sisters were evil and only existed to make life harder. That is a fact of life. Shannon knew Glenn was horrible at stuff like this. Trying to speak up about something obviously important was almost as bad as trying to keep a secret; it a) stressed him out, and b) he was just plain bad at it. And when Glenn was put on the spot (even if he started it, but Sharron so was not helping) he stressed, and when he stressed, he just blurted things out, no grace whatsoever.

"I want to go to a community college in Atlanta." Case and point.

The attention on him only magnified and he could feel the beat of his heart strum through his pulse, not entirely sure if it was better or worse than the pit of dread filling his stomach. His dad sat up straighter and his mom moved her plate to fold her hands in front of her. Shannon was actually paying attention now and Emily stopped trying to will her vegetables out of existence. But even through the mantra of Oh, crap, oh, crap, oh, crap! going on in his head and the anxiety eating at his fingertips, Glenn felt a million times lighter with that off his chest. It was cathartic, and looking on the bright side, he did get the ball rolling. It may have been more like the giant boulder trying to squash Indiana Jones, but it was a start.

He was a glass half-full kind of guy.

"Glenn," his dad begins and Glenn already knows what he's going to say, "We've discussed this."

Tension chewing up his insides notwithstanding, Glenn wanted to bang his head of the table and groan. What his dad meant by "discussed" actually translated into "you're mother and I have already picked out the school you'll be going to, and you're going to agree with our decision."

George and Hana Rhee were good parents. They raised his sisters and him, put a roof over their heads and food on the table. They didn't yell at Shannon when she totaled the back end of the Kia one month after getting her license, just made sure she was okay first then calmly let her know she was going to pay them back for the damages. They accepted it when Glenn sat them down and told them about liking girls and boys, both of them saying they still loved him, no matter what. And when Emily was suspended for getting into a fight in middle school, they listened to her side of the story and refrained from grounding her as long as she promised to let a teacher deal with the bullies next time.

Really, they were good parents, but that didn't mean they were perfect.

"Your father's right, dear," his mom agreed from her end of the table. "We've been talking to a friend who works at the university in Chicago who says he can get you in with a five-minute phone call. They do have a highly-regarded law program."

And there it was. To the casual outsider, it didn't look like much, but really it was just the tip of the iceberg.

The tip of the iceberg that sunk the Titanic.

It was the fatal flaw both his parents shared. They were way, way to controlling.

If there was there was one trait Glenn caught from his parents, it would be his love of planning. Knowing what steps lead where and mentally flipping through all the different ways to take them until he came up with the best combination. He liked it, and it just came so naturally. Sort of like his own Parkour, without all the running and flipping and leaping from rooftops. It helped him when he needed to find a shorter route to school if he was running late or remembering the best places to hide when he felt like getting away.

But his parents, they could out-plan God. Hell, Glenn would bet his copy of the Amazing Spider-man #129 that his parents started planning his life the moment he was born and had the whole thing written-out and laminated by the time they brought him home. They just naturally assumed he was going to walk the path they laid out for him.

Wanting your kid to do well in school was fine. Wanting him to eat healthy and stay active was fine. Wanting him to have a better life was fine. But telling him he was going to be a doctor or lawyer or some other type of high profile job, telling him where to study and what courses to take, telling him that it would do him well when he settled down and had a family. . .

That was not fine.

Because Glenn didn't want any of those things, at least not right now. True, maybe if he actually knew what he wanted to do with his life, he'd have a better argument, but he didn't. Besides, wasn't college supposed to be a place where you could discover yourself? Wasn't it a time for people to figure out what they wanted instead of just for those who knew since they were five?

Regrettably, his parents didn't see it that way. Having a plan from start to finish offered stability and ensured success, so screw the journey. To his mom and dad, it was all destination and they knew the best route to take. So he should just bow to their infinite wisdom and go with it.

Plus it didn't help his case when Shannon decided she was going to be a psychologist just like their dad.

That had begun the "It's been going so well for your sister, it will work well for you too, Glenn" approach his parents took in his last year of high school- a kind of 'if it's not broken, don't fix it' type logic.

"But if you're worried about Chicago, there's always Columbia or MIT. Don't think you only have a single choice," his dad assured, smiling and giving a slight nod, believing the conversation to be over.

No. Glenn glanced down for a moment, digging deep down for the courage he found to start this. He got this far. He made his choice. He had his plan and he was still sticking with it- even if his parents didn't like it.

Which they wouldn't.

"I know, dad," his voice was quiet and way steadier than he could have hoped for. "I've already signed up for classes in January and taken out a loan . . . for Westwood College in Atlanta." It was defiant and as close sacrilegious as could be for a family that wasn't particularly religious. Shannon was staring at him like he was crazy. His parents looked a little shocked, but like with every situation, they addressed it evenly, which marked a tally for them in the Makes Them Good Parents category.

"Well, Glenn, have you considered how you'll support yourself? A loan is perfectly fine for the short term, but debt is a slippery-slope and your father and I won't finance this." His mom's voice was composed, and even though Glenn was relieved she wasn't yelling or exceptionally angry, it was unnerving.

Despite starting his college fund when he was but an unborn jelly-bean, that money had been saved for Dr. Glenn Rhee, M.D. or Glenn Rhee, Attorney at Law. Neither of which were him, so he wasn't going to see a dime.

Some people may think that keeping the college fund you saved up for your kid from him just because he didn't want to go to the school for the career you picked out is extremely douche-y . . . well, it was, but Glenn had been dealing with his parents for twenty years and was used to their . . . what's a good word? Ummm, unconventional expressions of love.

Glenn kept his shoulders squared and head up, fighting the urge to stare down at his half-eaten food and fidget. "I've researched the area. There are tons of places and small businesses hiring all the time, and a friend of mine is letting me stay at her and her sister's so I don't have to shell-out for student living right away."

His dad sighed and pushed his glasses back up his nose and his mom looked unconvinced. He was back to chewing the inside of his lip. They didn't believe him, but he wasn't backing down. Not about this. Glenn glanced between them, making sure to look them both in the eye to show that he was seriously serious.

"I'm doing this."

He knew it boiled down to his mom and dad thinking he was wasting his time- which was funny, because that was exactly what Glenn would be doing if he went to one of the fancy super-schools his parents listed for him. He'd be wasting his time and their money and all for something his heart would never really be in. So, Glenn was putting his foot down, metaphorically speaking, and moving to Atlanta to go to school to find something he could be passionate about.

Whatever it would be, he needed the chance to discover it first.

"Alright," his dad sounded more like he was humoring him than anything, but Glenn would take what he could get. "You are an adult, Glenn, and your mother and I certainly can't tell you what to do." Not that they wouldn't try, but it was as close to a blessing as he was going to hear and Glenn, not pushing his luck, gave a stiff nod and excused himself from the table.

Glenn knew he wasn't going to receive support from his parents on this and the conversation as a whole went well, definitely on the not-as-bad end of the spectrum. But still, a little encouragement would have been nice so he didn't have to walk away feeling like an ungrateful jerk and completely dismissed at the same time.

It hurt. Even with being used to the way his parents were and knowing how the whole ordeal would pan out long before he worked up the courage to talk over diner . . . it still hurt- stinging, just a little.

Later, after retreating to his bedroom, there was a knock on his door and Glenn, not wanting to talk to anyone, answered anyway. Emily was on the other side, giving him enough time to give her a drained "What?" before she attacked him with ninja-speed and wrapped him in a surprisingly strong hug for a tweenager.

"I think you should do what makes you happy, Glenn," she said, smiling up brightly at him before letting go and skipping back to her room to write in her diary or cut-out pictures of cute boys from magazines or do whatever is was twelve-year-old girls do.

Glenn totally didn't tear-up. His allergies were just convenient.

The next month was filled with Glenn packing, Shannon calling him an idiot, Emily thumbing him up every time he turned a corner, his parents still believing he was going to call this off, and more packing. It was late October when Glenn shoved the final box into the passenger seat of his 1998 black Corolla. He ticked off all the last minute things he grabbed finger by finger, double-checking that he hadn't forgotten the box of rare comics hidden under his bed guarded by old gym socks or left any unmentionables lying around his now sparse bedroom floor.

He took one last look around, the situation finally starting to dawn on him. He was leaving, he was actually doing this. Glenn almost couldn't believe it. He'd always taken the path of least resistance when it came to his decisions, but not this time. His eyes swept along the house's lawn, its green grass like a second bed on lazy summer days. The tree he'd fallen out of when he was ten and broken his leg stood proudly next to his home. His neighbor's powder-blue house that he'd use as a landmark went inviting friends over.

He'd done it. Glenn had actually stood his ground. He was leaving.

Holy crap.

"Hold up, Glenn!" Emily's voice brought him from his revelation and he couldn't help but smile. If he was going to miss anyone terribly, it was definitely his little sister. She barreled into him at kid level Mach-5, knocking the wind out of him in one fell "oohff!"

"Didn't think you were leaving without saying goodbye, huh?" she said, looking up at him brightly with a toothy grin.

"You caught me, shrimp," he wheezed, catching his breath and ruffling her hair because he could. "I already took a shower and thought I could escape without you giving me anymore cooties." She stuck her tongue out at him and he did the same, making faces until she laughed and he was the victor.

"Mature, Glenn, real mature." Shannon called out, walking over from the front door. "I totally believe that you're ready to strike out on your own."

"Awww," he let go of Emily and pulled Shannon into an exaggerated hug, "I knew you loved me."

"Yeah, yeah. Try not to wake-up naked tied to a post," she grumbled, giving him small pats instead of actually embracing him. "And not to tight, I just ironed this shirt for an interview." How warm and fuzzy of her. Glenn rolled his eyes and returned the light back-pats, subtlety placing a bright pink sticky-note saying "Free Hugs" to her back. He knew his sister all too well.

He pulled away and gave Emily a conspiratory wink. She giggled but said nothing.

Best. Side-kick. Ever.

His mom and dad stepped outside a second later and everyone was in the Rhee family driveway seeing Glenn off.

His dad hugged him first. "Be safe. And remember you can call us if you need anything." Glenn had to bite back a 'money and emotional support would be nice, thanks' but knew deep down his parents did care, if in a convoluted and inconvenient way most of the time. His mom followed suit, "We love you, Glenn," and gave him an extra squeeze before letting go.

There were no tears or 'we're proud of you''s, not like when Sharron left for school. Probably because his parents still weren't convinced that Glenn wasn't just going to drive to the end of the street and sleep in his car for a few days to make a point. He wasn't too bitter about it. Much. Denial isn't just a river in Egypt, after all.

He gave everyone a final hug, making sure Shannon's sticky-note wasn't in danger of falling off. What kind of brother would he be, letting his big sister miss out on all the free affection? His smile was a little strained for his parents, but he did still love them. He picked up Emily and gave her a twirl- which wasn't as easy as it used to be, he thought, now realizing that he wasn't going to be around every day to see his little sister grow up.

Because he was seriously, incredibly, indisputably leaving.

It hit him like a blow to the gut, and he felt a little weightless.

Aww, man. Stupid allergies.

Everyone was watching him go as he climbed into the driver's seat and pulled out of the driveway. And they were still there when Glenn checked his rear-view mirror five houses down.

Okay. Where did he put the Benadryl?

The drive from his family's house in Columbia to where he was now going to be living was about three hours, give or take a few minutes. There hadn't been any traffic or spontaneous natural disasters, and he spent most his time humming to songs playing on the radio. It helped distract him from any back-peddling, like thinking this was a horrible idea and maybe he should have given this more thought and Oh my God, what am I doing?

But this wasn't a horrible idea, and Glenn had thought this through and the only time he wondered what he was doing was when he had to check his directions after turning off on the wrong exit.

The worst thing to happen during his drive was a serious case of numb butt.

The thing about Atlanta was that it was huge. Busy and huge. It wasn't like Glenn hadn't ever been in Atlanta before, just that the reality was sinking in that he would be living here full time. He felt a little overwhelmed, a little over his head. And it. Felt. Awesome.

Glenn could feel the stupid half-grin he was wearing but didn't care. He was way too busy enjoying the sweet, sweet taste of freedom and looking around for the Horvath apartment complex.

She said it was a cranberry-colored building about four floors high. Crap, I wasn't supposed to take a left at that light, was I? Glenn was worrying on his lower lip- a habit he should try getting a hold on- hoping his keen sense of direction wasn't failing him when he saw a sign reading Horvath Apartments.

Ha. And he'd almost doubted himself.

Glenn pulled into the complex, parking in the visitors area and grabbed the scrap piece of paper he'd written the apartment number on. The outer door of the building was heavy and Glenn promised to start lifting as he heaved it open. He quickly scanned though the list of names and numbers then pressed the buzzer next to 203.

There was a deep, static-y noise followed by a young woman's voice. "Hello?"

Hearing her familiar voice, Glenn felt like he was five again, going to his first ever sleepover.

"Hi, you ordered a scrawny Asian kid with a double helping of geek?"

"Glenn?! Oh my God, get up here!" The door buzzed and he flew up the first flight of stairs, excitement and anticipation motivating his legs. It was a good thing nobody else was on said stairs or he would have run them over. He reached the second floor's door when it opened before he could turn the handle. She had light blonde hair and light blue eyes and the biggest smile and it felt like Glenn hadn't seen her in forever.

"Amy!" Amy gave him a giant hug and Glenn gave her one right back.

Glenn met Amy when they were in elementary school, becoming best friends over a shared Snickers bar during lunch time and a mutual love of the undeniable badassery of the Pink Power Ranger, literally like two peas in a pod- which was ironic since they both hated peas- through the rest of school, until sophomore year in high school when both of Amy's parents died in a car crash.

It had been hard; Glenn had been with Amy when she got the news. He'd held onto her while she cried, wanting to cry himself. Mr. and Mrs. Ellis were good people- Glenn got to know them pretty well. They were almost like a second family. But Amy needed Glenn to be strong for her and he didn't mind holding back his own grief to give her a shoulder to cry on.

Then Amy had to move in with her older sister Andrea in Atlanta. He never considered himself to be a selfish person, but his reaction to the news was something like, no, she couldn't leave him. Amy was just as much a rock for Glenn as he was for her and they were always there for each other. Her leaving, if only a few hours away, made his throat tighten and his fists clench.

But it didn't take long for him to realize how much of an ass he was being, if not outwardly. Yes, it sucked have to say good-bye to his best friend so soon over something so awful, but Amy and her sister had lost their parents and needed each other more than ever.

Still, through the wonders of modern technology, they'd been able to keep in touch, no less best friends than the day before Amy left, and when Glenn confided in her about wanting to break away from his chosen destiny, she jumped on the idea of him moving in with her and Andrea. They could work out some sort of roommate arrangement and Andrea was totally cool with it.

Glenn wanted to say no at first. Sure, the idea sounded awesome and sure, he was desperate, but that felt like taking advantage of a friend's good will. Amy told him he was being a dumbass and that if he moved anywhere other than to her and her sister's guest room then she would find him and force him to watch Batman & Robin until his eyes bled and he begged for mercy.

Needless to say, Glenn came around to her way of thinking.

"I've missed you so, so much," Amy said as she pulled away, eyes tinged with red.

"Same here," Glenn was secure enough in his manliness to admit that maybe it wasn't just pollen as he rubbed at his eyes. Webcams and microphones be damned, Glenn loved Skype as much as the next guy but it couldn't compare to authentic human interaction.

"Why don't we grab your stuff? Andrea and I fought off the last of the dust bunnies a few days ago, so the room is ready to go."

"You're too good to me." Amy smiled and they nudged each other on the way down to Glenn's car, immediately falling right back into step. Unloading all his stuff took a mere three trips- even if those trips were ten minutes apiece with them stopping to talk and goof around, Amy threatening to go through his things at random and Glenn threatening to let her. And on reflection, taking their time wasn't such a bad thing since carrying boxes up a flight of stairs started jellifying his legs on the way down from the second trip.

Maybe he should plan a full-out exercise regime if he was going to stay in Atlanta for the next few years.

With a twin bed and dresser already set up in the room, and all of his things waiting to be released from their cube-shaped cardboard prisons, Glenn felt the strain of his day peak; he was beat. He could feel Amy judge him when he flopped face-first into fresh sheets. Not that he cared when his body relaxed into the amazingly soft mattress, tension easing from his arms and legs.

She could judge all she liked.

"Come on, Glenn," Amy tugged at his leg, "You only just got here. I still have to show you around the complex and your stuff isn't going to unpack itself."

"I don't think your building complex's layout will change tomorrow and unpacking things should be saved for rainy days. Besides, napping sounds like a whole lot less work and just as productive." Glenn blissfully inhaled the lavender-vanilla scent of his linens to drive home his point, ready to drift off on a cloud of recently-washed serenity.

"Wow," Amy laughed, smacking his shoe, "Thirty minutes living in Atlanta and you've already turned into a lazy bum."

"Not being lazy if it's deserved," he countered, "No force in Heaven or Earth or an early release or Red Dead Redemption will move me from this spot." He meant it. Hours of packing, driving, and then unpacking really did a guy in. This was glorious and every muscle he was reintroduced to today agreed one-hundred percent.

"Hey, I'm home!" called a voice followed by a door being shut from the kitchen. "Is Glenn here? I'm pretty sure I saw his car on the way over. I brought lunch." Glenn perked up, hearing the rustling of plastic bags and the undeniable scent of Taco Bell, aches and a well-earned snooze abruptly forgotten.

"Hey Andrea, Glenn and I will be out in a sec," Amy called back before shooting him a look as he hopped off the bed, perky and ready to feast.

"What?" he asked innocently. He was a man and a man needed his lunch.

She rolled her eyes fondly, "Way not to be a total guy and stand at attention for food."

"I'd pretend to be horribly offended by your sexist views and double-entendre, but," Glenn drew out, walking out of the room, ". . . yo quiero Taco Bell," and made a dash for the kitchen.

He regretted nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Even with a spacious apartment like Amy and Andrea's, it wasn't far to the kitchen and Amy was hot on his heels. He had to stop before the arch-way leading out from the kitchen to the living room, hitting the breaks or else he and Amy would've ended up dog-piling her sister. Luckily for Andrea and her precious cargo of Mexican fast-food, both Glenn and Amy were able to slow down- Amy mostly shoving into the back of Glenn and Glenn being propelled a couple of inches forward.

Andrea looked a bit startled at their sudden entrance. Glenn was desperately trying to hold back a fit of totally manly giggles when Amy began poking him in the sides to get him to move out of her way. He stood valiantly until she unleashed a full ten-fingered assault, removing him from the path to her sister. Getting his breath back, he was sure that there were actual children who didn't act as childish as he and Amy did.

He still regretted nothing.

"Sorry about that," Amy said, regaining her composure like she hadn't just nearly tickled him to death.

"Yeah, I have no idea what got into Amy back there." He got an elbow to the arm.

"No problem," Andrea said finally, her voice a little tight, like she was trying not to laugh at their shenanigans. Yeah, Glenn gave that a couple of days. Maybe three or four depending on how much time they all spent together. "It's good to see you again, considering last time wasn't much of an introduction."

Glenn smiled, a little embarrassed, his shoes suddenly very tempting to stare at. When Andrea had come after their parents' accident, he had kept his distance, thinking she and Amy would prefer to be by themselves while dealing with the particulars, both personal and material. Not wanting to unintentionally be in the way or anything, he had given the two some space whenever he could.

So, for as long as she had been in Columbia, Andrea had known him as the best friend of her sister who excused himself the moment she walked into a room. Glenn hadn't realized how weird that would be to someone until Amy told him Andrea asked her what she'd done wrong to make him avoid her like the Black Plague.

"Yeah. You'll see I still haven't grown out of my awkward phase. I think the switch was flipped to the 'on' position at a young age and it's been stuck ever since."

Andrea chuckled. Looks like there were no hard feelings.

"But in all seriousness, thanks for letting me stay," Glenn rubbed the back of his neck. "It really helps."

Andrea smiled at him. She had a great smile. "Well, I know how good of friends you and Amy are and we've got the space," she handed them the fast-food bags and they sat around the coffee table in the living room. "But you'll be singing a different tune when you realize how much Amy and I hate dusting . . . or vacuuming . . . or doing house work of any kind. We had to guilt ourselves into getting this place into shape."

"Oh, don't worry," Amy dug into her first taco, "I already told Glenn that you and I have each other's backs when it's time to decide who does dishes. And we have cherry-blossom pink manicured claws."

Scoffing, he reached for a packet of mild sauce. "A little manual labor for room and board is more than a reasonable trade, but it's only fair to warn you, go all Catwoman on me and I will go for the hair." Glenn won his inner bet when Andrea laughed out loud. She also had a great laugh- and an infectious one too- causing him and Amy to laugh with her, leaving most of the food to get cold while the neighbors were probably turning up their T.V.s, thinking the people in 203 were all crazy.

And that's how it worked. Glenn became an unofficial roommate, helping around the apartment and bringing in food and rent with his job between classes. It was a great system. Andrea had her full-time occupation as a civil rights attorney (she understood completely when Glenn gave her the summarized version of his parents and their long-term, bullet-pointed expectation of his life, saying that a career in law was definitely not for everyone.)

It didn't take long for him to really like Andrea.

He and Amy went to different colleges- meaning they couldn't hang out as much. Amy wanted to be a writer and was working towards a specific degree, unlike Glenn's general and all-encompassing approach to the classes he took. Not to mention they both had part-time, school-has-been-taken-into-account jobs.

But they all lived together. In the morning there'd be dibs on the coffee machine for whoever was the most coherent (normally Andrea, since she had the most practice functioning as an adult with actual responsibilities), but she'd take pity on them and would toast him and Amy bagels before they lumbered out to their cars and off to campus. At night the three of them would re-group, relaxing over dinner and talking about how hot this client's brother was, or about the creative-writing teacher that came in with only half a moustache, or about the stoners in the back of the class room who always brought in Cheetos and Mountain Dew.

It was a fulfilling living arrangement; Glenn had a system that worked- a family away from family.

So why, why, a thousand times why- did he have to throw it all in a blender and hit frappe?

Although . . . now that he was thinking about it, maybe it really was his jobs fault. A little financial support from the parents would be nice, but Glenn would've gotten a job anyway- even with his mom and dad being, well, his mom and dad, Glenn wasn't one to live off of somebody else. And unlike his parents calculatedly making his life a little more suckish, he could directly link Kiki's responsibility to his troubling and life-threatening predicament.

Oh, yeah. Situation with parents was definitely getting its share of the credit, but Kiki's is what put him directly into the line of fire.