Swiping a fist across my forehead, I slide out from under the car, having finally replaced every shitty piece with newer parts. Really, how this junk even still worked... The first truck was bad, but even that couldn't be compared to this. And to add to that, after fixing six automobiles, my back and knees hurt, no matter how much I stretch.

I rub my cheek, determined to not show a sign of being tired, and snatch my water bottle from its perch on my jacket, taking a long swig, draining it. I toss the empty plastic into the trash bin in the corner.

"Dante, it's closing time. Wash your hands on the way out." Wicked appears just at the edge of my vision, annoyingly silent. "You have some smudges on your face, by the way." He crosses his arms over his chest, leaning against the wall. As the cash manager, he never gets a finger dirty, so it's easy for him to comment on everyone else's state of cleanliness. White long sleeve, blue jeans, blue-black hair pulled back into a low ponytail, nothing ever out of place. Not even bags under his light green eyes. Almost like he's too good to work a day in his life.

A soundless snarl builds on my lips, and I glare at him from the corner of my eye. "I'll let you know when I care." I kick the rolling board I was resting on safely under the car, satisfied with the look of surprise he sports. It's uncommon for me to reply, much less...in a civil manner. I must be losing my touch.

But Wicked takes the hint anyway and disappears back into the cash desk room, glancing at me as he goes.

"Tch..." I pick up my jacket, dusting it off and donning it. While I was able to work without losing a finger or smashing my foot, my mind has been drifting back and forth from the little nerd and that flirt. Both of them, for some reason. I can understand the nerd, considering he's been pushed around and might still be in class, around those dickheads, but the flirt? Haylie? What the hell is she doing on my mind?

"Payment from last week," Wicked's voice tears into my brooding moment. I turn to find him holding out an envelope, waving it at me. His gaze is knowing--knowing what...? But he doesn't ask, and I don't tell.

I tuck the envelope into my pocket, glowering at him for good measure. This prick has no idea what I'm going through. What I've already been through. But I don't feel like arguing. I'm just going to hop on my motorcycle and drive my ass back to my apartment.

The road to the complex is short, practically just a turn around the corner. I lock up my motorcycle in the shed, pocketing the key while tossing a protective carp over it. Some little kids huddled in the back drinking look over at me enviously, eyeing my hand in my pocket and the helmet in the crook of my arm like it's their ticket to eternal happiness. Scoffing at their expressions, I head up to my room on the fourth floor, taking the stairs two at a time. The hall is empty; most people are turning in for the night, or running errands. Nothing really goes on here, as it is. As for me... I unlock the door to my apartment, letting myself in and shutting it behind me again.

The apartment really isn't all that bad. It's a little small, but comfortable enough. The first room is the living room, with a love seat and a sofa, sparsely decorated, since I don't bother with shopping for this place. The hallway to the right holds three doors--the bathroom, my room across from that, and the laundry room. Right behind the living room is the kitchen, also barely furnished with a wooden counter and four grey stools. Again, it's not much, but...right now, it's all I've got.

Rubbing my temples, I put my helmet on the sofa, shedding my jacket and lying it over the black protective gear. Might as well freshen up before going to bed. I've got five classes tomorrow, and I know it's going to be a longer day than today was.

I take off my clothes, chucking them into the laundry basket as I walk into the bathroom, setting my boots and belts aside to carry to my bedroom when I'm done. I step in the tub, quickly wash away the dirt and grime from work. The warm water releases the tension from my muscles, allowing me some relaxation. I sigh, rinsing soap and shampoo out of my hair and off my body. Right now, I could really just do with some sleep. Any homework can be done tomorrow before classes start. I shut off the water, shaking droplets from my hair, walking toward my room.

The flash of white catches my sight in the mirror, and I stop, dripping, in front of it.

A tiny, hesitant voice curls up from my thoughts, sounding strangely nerdy and shy. When did you become this tired? When did you stop wanting to be happy? It asks.

Dull, grey eyes stare back at me, blinking in sync, framed by snow colored locks. The smudge is gone, replaced by the bruise from the fall off my motorcycle. A slightly crooked nose. Thin, pale lips. A long neck riddled with scars. The torso, too. Scarred, screwed up. I let go of the sink--when had I latched onto it?--and close my eyes. I remember receiving them, every one. The long gash across my chest being the most prominent, though fading slowly now. I remember them all.

Can I go back to who I was before?

A cold bark of laughter escapes my mouth. What is this stupidity?

But etched into the back of my eyelids, clear, deep blue eyes stare back at me, hoping for help.

What have I gotten myself into?

The End

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