dakota elisabeth castille did not fall in love. she didn't "do" commitment. but her six-month long entanglement with zachary meyers had brought her dangerously close to that. he stood beside her at the top of the social ladder, and they had everything together. she was the queen, and he was her king.
at least, until she walked into his apartment three days ago and was greeted with the sight tiffany rivera between his sheets. tiffanny rivera, her third-in-command in their little posse of six.
suffice to say, the pretty blonde was no longer a member of the clique.
the resulting fallout at school (her, dakota castille, being cheated on? oh how the turntables) was to be expected, but it didn't unnerve her. she was already used to the whispers behind her back as she walked down the hallways, the side glances she'd receive as if they thought she lacked peripheral vision, the sudden silence that blanketed a room full of people whenever she entered, where it couldn't be more obvious that she'd been the subject of their conversation just moments earlier. no, dakota didn't care for the gossip trail surrounding her, for it had been a constant presence in her life for years.
what was unnerving was the constant ache in her chest.
on this particular friday evening, dakota found herself hosting a party in the comfort of her own home. some coped with heartache wrapped in blankets downing ice cream by the pint, but the brunette found solace in alcohol, loud music and a house filled potential flings. after refilling her cup for what felt like the sixth time that night (but was probably more), she navigated her way from the kitchen to the living room, just in time to watch tiffany and zachary making out against a wall.
the same wall he'd pinned her against a mere week ago.
she could already feel a familiar gnawing in the pit of her stomach, but dakota's expression remained unfazed as she walked towards the leather couch in the centre of the room. though she could barely feel her feet at this point, she somehow managed to sit down in a passably elegant fashion, her azure eyes never once leaving the couple. why the fuck were they even here? showing up at her house as if nothing had happened? granted, she'd invited them out of necessity - she couldn't let them know that she actually cared, that she was actually hurt - but she had at least hoped that they would have the decency to spend the night somewhere where dakota wouldn't have to be reminded of every moment she'd spent in zachary's embrace.
then again, perhaps she'd expected too much.
"ugh." her face pulled into a grimace at last, disgust evident in her voice. "it's absolutely revolting." a hypocritical statement coming from her, to say the least - she'd gotten off with more guys at parties than she could remember. but that didn't matter at all now. not when all that seemed to matter was the spectacle of her friend in her lover's arms, his lips pressed against hers.
his lips. his arms. they had been hers. he had been hers. and she had been his.
and then he fucking cheated on her and now he was tiffany's and she was nobody's.
the lump forming in her throat was the warning sign she needed to tear her eyes away. she couldn't cry here. not in their presence. not in his presence.
"can you believe the nerve of them?" at last, she turned to face whoever it was that she had taken a seat beside - someone who's identity, up until this point, had remained a mystery to her.
If there was one thing that people knew about Casey Meier, it was that he didn't party. He just wasn't the type to; when it came to spending his free time, he much preferred quieter, more sensible pursuits, like reading or studying or relaxing to the flow of a good beat. He didn't drink, he didn't do drugs, he didn't go out and do dumb shit like so many other guys his age, and perhaps unusually for a high school senior, he had little to no interest in having sex. By anyone's standards, he was nothing short of a decent kid.
So what in the hell was he doing here?
Rather than spending a quiet Friday night at home, as he normally did, or otherwise just hanging out with his usual friend circle, he found himself instead attending a wild party hosted by the most popular girl in school. There was screaming and laughter and alcohol all around, and it altogether made for a very chaotic environment that was absolutely not his cup of tea. It was about as much as he'd expected, really.
It wasn't all bad, though. If there was one upside to this whole situation, it was that he wasn't here alone - this had been planned as a group outing, you see, and so the rest of his gang was here as well.
However, that was becoming more and more of a cold comfort with each passing minute. After all, the only reason he had chosen to come was that they wanted him to, and even then they had to convince him. 'You've never done this before, you should give it a shot', they said. 'I'm sure it won't be that bad.'
And that wasn't all, either. Since he had ridden here with them, that meant he had to leave with them as well. Sure, he could try asking someone else for a ride home, but there was no one else here that was both familiar enough and sober enough for him to feel comfortable asking. As far as he was concerned, he was as good as stuck.
Vaguely, and a little bitterly, he had to wonder where the others were now. He'd lost them all in the crowd a good while ago, and he hadn't been able to find them since. If he had to guess, though, Lance was probably making out with Cynthia in the bathroom or something; Mallory was almost certainly doing something crazy with a bunch of other kids; Logan and Nicole were most likely socializing with some other people they knew here; and while Patrick had said they'd stick together the whole time, he wound up leaving Casey to try and get some hot guy's number, and he never came back.
To be fair on the last point, though, that was well after the two of them had gotten drunk.
Yes, you read that right. Casey Meier - current salutatorian, assistant librarian, straight-A student, and all-around goody-two-shoes - was drunk out of his mind right now. Or at least, he sure felt that way.
It hadn't at all been his intention when he arrived, or at all, in fact. But while he was hanging with Pat, one thing led to another, and he let down his guard just a little more than he should have. Now, he was regretting every second of it. He could hardly stand, he damn sure couldn't walk, and he was thus entirely incapable of just getting up and searching for Logan like he wanted to. It was all he could do to just sit and stew in his own misery, tugging down hard on his hood in a vain attempt to block out all of the noises and lights and smells that threatened to overwhelm his senses.
It did help a little that he sat alone. As it so happened, there was this nice couch that was set right in the center of the living room; that was where he was sitting now, and where he had been for the past... hour or so? He didn't know, he'd long since lost track of time. All he knew was that right now, he just wanted nothing more than for all this to be over. Then he could finally go home.
"Can you believe the nerve of them?"
The question barely registered, but it was nonetheless able to penetrate the drunken haze that seemed to enshroud his mind.
However, his response didn't come quickly. He had to take a second first to actually process that there was someone sitting next to him now, and that apparently, they were addressing him. He'd been so used to everyone ignoring him (and vice versa) that he hadn't even considered the possibility. Once he realized this, he released his hood, then lifted it up a little so that he may actually take a look at whoever it was that was talking to him.
His mental performance wasn't at its peak right now, nor was his eyesight. But even so, he could tell right away that this wasn't one of his friends. In fact, the more he studied her, the more he realized that she was quite the opposite.
It wasn't just some random partygoer sitting beside him. It was Dakota Castille herself, the very host of the party. The realization was enough to shock him even now.
Not because he admired her or anything. Far from it; his personal opinion of her was fairly neutral. But his associating with a handful of more popular kids meant that he tended to hear about the goings-on among their ranks, and her name was one that came up pretty often. She was by and large one of, if not the most well-known girl in the school - the 'Queen Bee', as Mallory liked to put it. There was so much drama surrounding her that it seemed one could hardly go a week without hearing about it.
Him, though? He'd never had anything to do with her. In fact, low-key as he was, he hardly had much to do with anyone. Sure, he was familiar with many of the staff and the teachers, but as far as peers went, most people who knew of him outside his core friend group only knew him because of his friend group. She might have seen him before as a background figure in some of their social media posts, but beyond that? He didn't think she'd recognize him. Even if she knew he existed, he was probably nobody to her.
So why, then, was she talking to him now?
That was his only response at first, spoken eloquently after what would've only been a brief pause to her. Then, he glanced around, looking to see who she was talking about. But there were so many people around, that unless she gave an indication, he wouldn't have a clue.
"... Uh. No?"
Was that the right answer? That felt like the right answer.
But then, with how loud it was, and how softly he tended to speak, she probably wouldn't be able to hear it anyway.