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1. Chapter 1

VampireMystic%s's Photo   VampireMystic, 09 Apr 2011

The humans gave so many names to things, poor attempts to explain or express things. One City, two names “Chicago,” the “Windy City,” words—noisome sounds... with hardly any meaning, and less permanence.  The City’s many large buildings channeled the air currents, focused them, so that even small gusts were magnified, so the moniker was fitting at least. And there were other reasons, if the stories coming out of Chicago were even partly true… then the “Windy City” had a meaning to his own kind. For there was something new moving in the streets at night…The winds of change.

Millions of humans living within the city, and millions moving through one of the biggest traffic hubs in the world, supported a large population of his brethren and cousins. The more bison and antelope there were on the savannah… the more lions that could thrive, after all. But something had upset this simple balance

Reports confirmed that many vampires were leaving the city, experienced souls, long used to the Long Night, and young ones as well, with equal speed. And with them came stories of recent events that were so fantastic few really believed them.  Fear was not something easily stirred among their kind. Among the immortal, for which there was always time to see and do, the unknown was a welcome diversion from boredom. So whether they professed belief or not, many more like him were coming.

It was dangerous, he knew it. Politics was something that was older than he was, as was fear. The humans, if they noticed the migration happening, would soon protest. The so-called “Elders” would react, and the tenuous balance between the rulers of the daylight world and the masters of the night would become strained. There had not been open conflict in centuries… But it had happened before and almost certainly would again. Humans, for all their weakness, thought themselves lions as they walked contented and arrogant under the sun. And so long as they refused to accept their place on the food chain, conflicts were inevitable.

He was old enough to understand that. And, experienced with the ways and means of survival such as he was, he knew many would die needlessly among the sons and daughters of the Eternal Night. But, in the end, it was the fate of the prey to fall to the predator. Any large-scale conflict would, in the fullness of time, play out the same way as it did on the small. He had seen it play out many nights before, and would see it again… before the next sunrise.

The human world had changed much over the long night of his life, and though his body had not changed in age or fitness since he last saw the sun above his head, he himself had changed. He had grown in thought, in feeling, in knowledge and skill. As the world changed around him, unlike so many he had once known, he had put forth the effort to move with the world. To change his manor of dress, to learn nuances of speech and the manner of society, to craft for himself the camouflage that would allow him to remain the hunter, and not fall due to carelessness and arrogance.

He had been in Chicago less than a week, and in that time he had sought out and found those like himself. Though some sneered and called him “half-life,” his money and shrewd manner had secured him identification suitable to the nation and the time, clothing that suited both his apparent age and his personal tastes, and though he had made his own arrangements in the end, he knew of several sanctuaries and rest places that would receive him, should the need arise. And, most importantly, he knew who to contact to deal with the necessities that followed the hunt itself.

That had only taken two nights, the next four he had taken to search for suitable grounds. “Casing a joint,” the youth of this age might call it. It was a poor hunter who struck with no preparation when the need was in earnest. After all, he was not the only hunter among the shadows of this city’s streets and alleyways. Carelessness could be as dangerous as sunlight.

And so he “cased” clubs around the city. Watching for one where he would take no memorable notice, the sort of place where the prey’s judgment would be clouded by spirits and desire, where the youth of his flesh would draw the prey to him, and their own presumptions would help to hide the age that he knew lay visible in his eyes, the coldness of the hunter that they might otherwise see in his manner. Oh, he was confident that the humans he moved through would have no hint of what he was, the masses were happy in their ignorance and all too willing to believe “There is no such thing as monsters.” But human instinct remained, and he wanted a clean, quiet kill.

In the end he had made his choice as much for the music they favored as for his hunter’s criteria. The heavy beats and favoring of instruments over vocals appealed to him. The images weaved by the lyrics, images of pain, desire, anger, and the release of the same, gave the club the atmosphere he wanted. Even the poetry of the name “The Stalkyard,” suited him. It was a play on words, on the history of the building, and the city itself. And given his purpose, the choice was easy.

Miles south of Boystown, the dark hulk of the Stalkyard where it sat on Halsted was not the kind of place that invited the curious. The windows were taped black, the harsh lights outside did more to highlight shadows than shed light. He could smell, underneath the garbage and spilled booze, the musk of many bodies in close proximity. And as he stepped over the ruts of the former rail bed, now partially filled with black-light paint that glowed green and purple, walking toward the building he thought that, under it all, he could smell the blood of the building’s original purpose.

The club used velvet ropes splashed with more black-light paint to divide the gaping opening that had once let the iron horses of trade and industry gallop through. The staff at the door, marked by the same paint with the club’s name glowing across their chests, were numerous and visible. Their size and heavy builds made them easy to spot among the milling crowds moving through the lanes. He could easily replace the reality around him with the image of cattle: beasts placidly accepting the road toward slaughter, and he, the wolf, among them.

He had come early, and the lanes moved well, bringing him to the door without wasting too much time. One of the staff stopped him, putting a hand on his chest, just below the pendant that hung over his heart. “ID.”

One gloved hand, with the long fingers bare, brushed a stray hair back behind his ear and he made himself give a crooked, daring smile to the hard face watching him. He twisted his hip, raising his right hip and pushing it toward the man. “Chain,” he said, mimicking the man’s brusque tone.

 Without looking away from him, the bouncer reached a hand toward him; rough calloused fingers brushed the skin above the waist of his pants, needlessly finding the skin left bare below the hem of his jacket. The touch lingered there briefly before trailing down to hook the silver chain that curved from just above his ass, across his thigh, and to the front of his pants, and drawing out the leather holder from his pocket. The movement was, practiced, a quick and subtle caress.

He wasn’t even inside yet, but was now certain that he’d come to the right place.

The bouncer looked from him to his ID. He could see interest in the man’s eyes. The photo on the ID was much plainer than what he wore tonight. There were no blue streaks in his dark bangs, no gel dampening them to keep them from covering his pale blue eyes. In the photo, the simple red t-shirt under a grey zippered coat, with its hood falling back, bared and emphasized his pale throat, and made his shoulders look slimmer. The clothes were tame; the kind people wore to the human agency that issued them. The bashful smile he’d given the camera made him seem even younger than he already looked.

 It was a calculated image, to make it appear as though it was taken years before, not days. To let a human’s mind accept that he had grown, that he could be the age the ID claimed, and that he was not another “underage kid with a fake.” A necessary part of his hunter’s preparations was ensuring that, before and after, he draw no notice from human authorities. At the Stalkyard, such things did not seem to matter, judging from the humans’ minds he’d touched coming and going while casing the club.

The bouncer, though, appeared to believe the ID, and used one hand to ready the stamp at his belt while the hand holding his wallet closed it. Stepping toward him, the man pushed his wallet into his pocket. Those rough fingers stretched down, pressing unnecessarily deep. The dark denim was tight on his body, and only gave him a certain amount of space. The bouncer’s fingers, as the man had no doubt hoped they would, brushed his length, aroused from anticipation and pent needs, through the thin fabric lining of the pocket.

The man’s gaze never left his; he gave the man a sideways smile, acknowledging what the man had done without comment. Silence was the rule of that game. But his game had different rules.

“You gonna give it to me, big man?”

The bouncer smiled, and reached to take one of his hands. With a deft move of his own, he took the bouncer’s right hand in his and guided the stamp to the bare, lightly tanned skin of his stomach, just above his navel. A quick exhale and the muscles hardened as he tensed them, and leaned into the bouncer. The man’s heart was a loud drumming in his ears, and the musk of human arousal was pouring out of him as he stepped back. He looked down, deliberately still holding the bouncer’s wrist.

In orange-red paint there was a small circle with the number 21 in it. From the circle, at an angle came an arrow, making the symbol for male. Around the edge of the stamp at the rough compass points, was the word “over.” The mark would serve, like the ID, as further evidence that he was old enough to belonged in such a place. The youth of his flesh would draw the prey, the mark would lower inhibition, removing fear of consequences.

The bouncer waved him on with his empty hand and he walked into the Stalkyard. He waited to let go of the bouncer’s hand until the human would have had to move with him, and let him go. The man’s eyes were on him, but were considerably lower than his back. The leather jacket that hung just low enough to be about mid-line on his ass, he knew it did more to draw attention to it than it did to cover it. From all he had observed, the man would forget him in a few minutes.

A tunnel of sorts divided the inside from the outside. The heavy panels were draped with dark fabric. Colored and white lights danced across them without pattern. After a few sharp turns, the tunnel opened into the club and a wall of sound hit him. He had been ignoring it since he’d gotten in line, clear to his hearing, even through the careful sound proofing of the club.

Now that he didn’t have to appear deaf to it. He shifted his stride, matching his steps to the tempo of the song, exaggerating the motion of his hips. He controlled his breathing so the muscles of his abdomen showed more often than they did not. The toned, smooth muscles of his torso were on display, his only top the two halves of the open leather jacket. The Stalkyard was the sort of place where everyone kept one eye on the door waiting, to watch the next “piece of ass” come through it.

He smiled as a cursory “read” of the room told him just how many people had noticed him as he parted from the mass of people coming out of the tunnels and went toward the nearest bar. It was made of glass and dark wood, lit from above and below by soft but steady lights that slowly changed color. When he stepped up to the bar, they were the cold blue at the tip of a lit match and set off the streaks in his hair.

The bartender was topless, facing away, balanced somewhere between the big heavy muscle of the bouncers and the slimness that prevailed among  the clubs patrons. He liked the look of the toned muscle, the narrow waist, and the way the short haircut set off the slimness of the neck. But… women had never been his “thing ” as they called it now. He tapped the glass top of the bar twice with one knuckle, careful to be loud without breaking the glass. When she turned, the bartender’s breasts were a disappointment. Not because they were small, on the contrary, they were definitely “Double D” as such things were measured now. They weren’t natural, and they didn’t suite her frame, ending even his cerebral appreciation of her form.

“Cranberry and Vodka,” he said simply, pretending to eye her chest as though he was interested. He pulled a single bill from among its fellows in his left pocket and held it up. She looked first at the hand holding the money. Then her eyes moved to the hand resting on the bar. “That’s not where they put it.” He stood up straight and moved his hand, and then glanced down. She followed his gaze, moving toward him.  The clear glass of the bar let her see the stamp.

She raised an eyebrow at him, smiling. He let himself blush at the thoughts he could see flash over her mind. “Cranberry and Vodka?” she verified.

“Yeah,” he said, watching the woman eye him.

She was imagining different ways the bouncer could have placed the stamp there, all of them much more graphic than the truth. Her fantasies were a lot more to his taste than the topless woman.

“I thought maybe  I heard you say… cherry.”

He flushed as her mind produced an image of the very same bouncer that had marked him as he made short work of the kind of “cherry” she had in mind. Every decade or so, he tried to catch up on human music, so he recognized a chance to play on her words.

“No… cherries are better in pie than in Vodka.”

He heard the chorus of the song play in her thoughts… at “taste so good…make a grown man cry…” her mind was back to the Bouncer devouring a decent approximation of his cock. Clearly, attempting to flirt with the woman was pointless. He smiled when she laughed, and added “Good vodka, anyway,” looking pointedly at his twenty dollar note.

“Coming right up.” It wasn’t more than half a minute before she set the glass in front of him. He took it in one hand and downed it in one long pull… and almost choked when the brilliant image of himself swallowing some unknown man’s penis came to him from her mind.  He covered it by clearing his throat as he set the glass down. He closed himself off a little more firmly as he smirked at her.

“Maybe you didn’t hear me after all…” he said speaking carefully to be heard over the music without being “too” loud. He held up one hand, making a C with his index finger and thumb “I said cranberry and vodka.” Then he made another, much smaller C. “And, a full size, glass please, I’m not a kid.”

She laughed at him, surprised he’d taken the drink like a shot, and again at his humor. “Coming up, sir.”

Things got busy, and it took her longer to get back to him. But she set a tall glass in front of him. This time there was ice, a straw, and a slice of lemon.  “Try this one.”

He shot her a calculated look he hoped was dubious and took a careful sip. It was cranberry lemonade, with much more flavor than vodka.  He smiled at her and she took his twenty. “Thanks.”

She nodded and made change, most of which he let her keep. He thought about asking her what she thought his “best shot at going home with someone” would be, but thought better of it. He didn’t want to be too memorable, and he couldn’t get what he needed from a regular or, he suspected, the bouncer she kept picturing him with, Jerry. That would leave too much of a trail.

He walked away from the bar, opening up enough to “listen” to the people around him. A number had liked how he downed the first drink, and were interested in just how strong the one in his hand was. 

Exactly as planned…

As a vampire food and drink were a pleasure long lost to him. But alcohol was a simple enough that it could enter his body and work the same way. If he were to drink enough in too short a time. He was old enough that the little alcohol in the vodka wouldn’t intoxicate him. But he could make himself ill if he kept drinking like that. The drink in his hand was for show, at this point. He hoped to be filling his stomach with something else before he’d need to bother refilling his glass.

He sipped at his drink and put a little more looseness into his motions and walked toward where the pulsing beat of the music was loudest.

Once out on the dance floor, amid the music, motion and noise, he actually allowed himself to have fun. He let himself be present only in the moment, disconnecting his presence at the club from his purpose.  For one crystallized moment, forgetting that the Hunger was forever looming behind everything he had done in his long nights of living, everything he was doing now, and everything he was ever going to do. He held that moment, and let it push out everything else, and let it fill him. And he danced.

He let the music and his own feelings merge and guide his limbs. At first carving a space around himself, and then blending into the press as he caught the nuances of how the humans were moving around him a bit better. He relaxed, the simple motions of dancing reached into him. Into parts of him normally walled in behind layers of discipline kept safely distant from the dark necessities of what he was. Despite the dark emotions, and primal nature of the music, his dance was joyous.  His moves a celebration of life that simply accepted those parts of life.  He abandoned his awareness of time and threw all his will into moving to the music.  His body responded to his will, graceful and lithe.  The sensation and the careless existence were ecstatic.

His frozen moment shattered as a cold knot of emptiness formed in his stomach before radiating out through his body. For a moment he felt hot, and cold, and very weak. He wobbled on his feet and dropped the plastic glass he’d emptied at some point of everything but the ice. He watched, the way only a vampire could, as it was suddenly pulled into the motion of the crowd. It was kicked one  way, then another, the ice scattered and finally the cup was crushed. He felt an absurd sadness at seeing that.

But then, he was the cup: Empty of that which gave him strength. And it was time for him to refill it. Feed or die. Those were the only two choices. Letting himself starve wasn’t a choice, it was a denial of the truth, only a delay of choosing. And so, he withdrew into himself, pulling his feelings back into the depths of his soul. Detachment was his shield; it protected his soul, and helped him keep it.

He turned when someone touched his arm, “You okay?”

It was a human boy. A little taller than him, perhaps five feet eight, and not done growing, judging by the stamp placed like a kiss high of his right cheek in blue paint. It was like his, except around the circle was “Under.”  Brown eyes looked at him with concern.

“Hey man, are you okay?”

He blinked at the boy, and didn’t answer. Was he okay? No. The hand on his arm felt hot even through the leather of his coat and made him feel even colder. He needed that warmth… inside him. He saw the crushed cup in his mind’s eye.

“I’m thirsty,” he said.

The boy laughed and shook his head. “Dude, I think you’ve had too much of whatever was in that cup already.”

He smiled at the boy, he was right about that. He didn’t need any more cranberries or lemons, or vodka. He pulled the boy to him.  Or tried to, his moment of weakness had not passed and instead he went stumbling into the boy, as if he were intoxicated on spirits. The boy caught him. He wrapped his arms around the boy’s waist and smiled at him.

“I have, haven’t I? Mayhaps I should try something else.”

The boy laughed at him. But he barely heard it. He was too busy listening to the way the drumbeat of that young, living heart skipped to a faster tempo and the boy’s face turned red up to his ears. Blushing… It didn’t always happen with vampires, some, like him, could even learn to control it. But human’s… it was like their heartbeat, outside of their control. And he liked it. He held onto the warmth and as the crowd moved around them, they got buffeted and pushed about.

His bashful rescuer guided him off the floor to a quieter part of the club, constantly looking ahead of and around them, and then he’d look back at him, smile and blush some more. Every time that happened, he’d smile at the boy, or squeeze the hand leading him, which only made the young man blush harder still. Finally after a long while of wandering they came to rest at a table in a part of the club divided from the rest by soundproof walls. It was open overhead, not enclosed like the entry tunnels, so the music was still there, but calmer. Here there were many softly lit tables, with long bench seats thickly padded. And they were separated from each other by wood panels. No one at one table could see anyone from another . The boy steered him to the seat on one side of such a table and took a seat on the other.

He felt some disappointment at that, but his head was clearing, and he had enough self-control not to whimper or climb over the table when the warmth he had so enjoyed being near settled away from him. The human servant who’d shown them to the table in the first place, the waiter, came back with three glasses of water. He set one in front of the boy, and two in front of him.

“Try those and see if you don’t feel better cutie.” The waiter  looked from him to boy and winked at the boy, who blushed. He saw him looking and blushed harder.

He looked at the water glasses. Thirst…Drink… He picked one up. It felt wrong against his skin. He took a sip, and nearly spit it out. It wascold. He looked across the table at the heat that seemed to be pouring of the human with every quick beat of his heart. The contrast brought him back to his senses. He looked away and down at the other cup of water glaring at his reflection. Shamed and enraged, he had gotten so lost in the haze of his Hunger, like some new blood. How long had it been since he’s allowed himself such a mistake? More years than he cared to contemplate, certainly.

“So…” The word was so softly said only a vampire could’ve heard it clearly. The boy licked his lips and cleared this throat.  “ What- What’s your name?”

He smiled a crooked smile at the boy and said “Zack.”

He forced himself to drink the cold water slowly, humanly. And then asked, licking his lips, “What’s yours?”

“My name’s David, David Jonathan Meyers, But… my friend’s call me Jonny.”

“Jonny,” he repeated, saying it softly.

Jonny blushed and he laughed, which made Jonny blush harder, which only made him laugh more, until finally they were laughing together.

From there, it was easy. Jonny’s mind was as open to him as the bartender’s had been… More so, for Jonny had none of her jaded guile. His mind was simple, earnest. And in pain. Life had not been kind to David Jonathan Meyers. Fleetingly he saw memories of two raised voices drifting through his bedroom walls the way the music drifted into this part of the club. He knew Jonny would flinch if he moved even a hand too quickly.

“Dad… Stop… Please.”

He could see it all, Jonny’s pain, Jonny’s secrets, and Jonny’s plan. He had no happiness in his life, no reason to hope. He wanted an end to his pain.

“I’d rather you were dead than raise a faggot for a son!”

That was fine by Jonny; he’d rather die than be hit one more time. There’s was just one last thing. One thing he wanted out of his life before he traded it in for whatever came next. It was the reason he had come to this club.

If I’m damned for wanting a guy, I won’t die a virgin…”

He could see it all. With his experience he knew exactly what to say. He knew when to joke, question, tease, and when be silent. He talked Jonny into ordering food, he put money on the table, said it would help him feel better, and he hated eating alone. So Jonny ordered his favorite foods, a cheeseburger with everything, and a butterscotch milkshake.

“Not bad for my last meal, is it?” Jonny was thinking as he looked at his plate. Jonny had more guile than he’d first thought, it was simply consumed keeping the pain a secret from the world, even from himself, when he could.

Zach had ordered a plate of fries, to “settle his stomach,” as he’d told Jonny, but he didn’t eat them, he couldn’t. But Jonny thought he saw him eat a few, and that was enough to get Jonny to start.

While Jonny ate, he moved to sit next to him. The closeness made Jonny nervous, but the point where their thighs touched was making him aroused. Talking to Jonny about bands he liked, sports he watched, stealing what to say, songs to mention from Jonny’s own knowledge, the trick helped keep him calm. Full, relaxed, and “horny as hell,” it was easy to lead Jonny to the back of the club, where a maze of partitioning created more “private” rooms. He read from the mind’s around him that there were certain colored rooms that signified what you would find, or wait to find you, on the inside. To be alone, black on black, they had to go up to the third floor, past more bars, dance floors, an arcade, and down to the basement. He ignored everyone and everything that wasn’t David Jonathan Meyers.

That’s why he never noticed they were being followed.

Black on Black. The colors of despair, that was the color code of the Stalkhouse if you wanted to be left alone. You find the corner marker by a black box with a white border and closed yourself off behind the partition. And so Zach closed himself in with Jonny. The only light came from moving lights above that cast silver star patterns that drifted around them. Not that the darkness bothered him. He could see Jonny clearly; Vampires were hunters of the night, after all.

Jonny didn’t seem to mind it either. He reached up and touched Jonny’s cheek, the stamp glowing blue under yet another black light. His other hand found Jonny’s left hip. He walked forward until their hips touched.  “Dance with me.” He whispered, swaying. Jonny swallowed and shyly reached for his hips. He felt Jonny jump when he missed in the dark and touched bare skin. He laughed softly and, one by one, put Jonny’s hands on him, above his jeans, on the bare skin under his jacket. His own hands he put around Jonny’s neck, one hand curling to cup the back of Jonny’s neck. His long fingers moving in slow circles.

Jonny’s heart was racing. He could feel it as though it were vibrating against and through them both. The Hunger was there, waiting, like a jungle cat, pacing in its cage. But he held it there. It wouldn’t get out again. He would feed it on his own terms. For now, there were other desires to sate.

As he had on the dance floor, he took careful hold of the moment. Their moment, he let it fill him, and he looked at Jonny, those brown eyes, the kindness and warmth that lay behind the mask, in a safe place, away from the pain. And he let his own simple desire free, to touch and be touched. He drew Jonny’s head down and kissed him lightly. It was short and tender, lips to lips. He heard Jonny draw breath sharply in surprise, and then Jonny relaxed into him, quivering.

He held Jonny close, and when the kiss parted, he guided Jonny’s head to his shoulder. He kissed the nape of his neck quickly, lightly. In its cage, the hunger quivered in anticipation. He ignored it.

“Your first?” He whispered. Of course he knew the answer. The answer wasn’t the point.

Jonny shook in his arms. He was silently crying, something he’d taught himself. Finally he gave a chocked “…Yeah…”

“It’s okay. You know, being gay.” He spoke softly, pretending, because Jonny hoped he would, that he couldn’t hear the keening noise or the ragged breathing. He held the boy and continued:

“Some people don’t get it, that we didn’t choose it, can’t control it. That it’s really the same no matter how different it seems.”

He kissed Jonny’s neck again, longer, slower. He touched his tongue to the pulse of life and shivered. The hunger lashed out at the cage. But again he pushed it back. Jonny trembled against him. He didn’t protest, and didn’t ask, Jonny just slipped his arms around his back and held on.

“If you wait, if you’re open, and patient and honest… some people can learn to let go of the comfortable lies they were taught and see the truth. Some people won’t. They can’t, or the just don’t want to. Either way, it hurts. The waiting hurts. And it’s hard.”

“Zack? How’d you know… it was my first? Was it... bad? ”

“It was a kiss from a boy I think is beautiful, inside and out.” He smiled “It was amazing.”

He brought their lips together again. This time, instead of freezing, Jonny pressed back. A soft noise escaped him to be swallowed by Jonny as he opened his mouth to Jonny’s emboldened tongue. Their tongues danced circles around each other. He tasted like mint. Reaching between them he took hold of Jonny’s blue plaid over shirt and pulled it up and away from his shoulders and down his arms. Jonny shivered, but only giggled softly, as the shirt fell to the floor. He reached for the tight white undershirt next, and drew it up by the hem until it was over Jonny’s eyes, tangling his arms.

He kissed Jonny’s neck, his throat, touching it with the tip of his tongue as though to taste his Adam’s apple, while he ran one hand slowly over Jonny’s chest and sides. He listened it the quick thrum of his heart as he pulled the shirt free at last and let it fall. As his hands continued to touch and explore Jonny’s skin, Jonny giggled but was otherwise quiet. It made him smile when Jonny, of his own initiative, brought their lips together. The boy was shaking from head to foot.

He understood why, even if Jonny himself did not. It was one thing to be kissed, acting to kiss someone else; that was another thing entirely. What made Jonny tremble was the power and terror that came with making a choice. He respected the choice, and the struggle. And just as he had accepted that struggle as a part himself so many years ago, he accepted Jonny’s kiss, and the tongue that soon followed it.

While they kissed, he busied his hands. The simple button and zipper were open in seconds. He grabbed two tight fistfuls of the fabric that covered his ass and pulled Jonny against him.  The firm muscle that he’d felt beneath the clothes was matched by the taunt bit of muscle pressing out from between Jonny’s legs.

Jonny’s breathing was shaky against him. Taking an audible swallow, Jonny’s hands began to move down his back, the fingers still pressing into him as though afraid of losing their grip. When they got to his hips, Jonny froze. He kissed the boy lightly and whispered. “It’s all right.” Jonny flushed, despite the darkness that would have hidden his face from anyone else. Jonny’s shaking hands moved on touching his stomach.  Then, with more fumbling than he, Jonny open the bu0tton of his pants. He sighed, a long eager exhalation, when Jonny froze he whispered. “It’s alright.  You’re alright.” He spoke to more than what Jonny was doing, he was stating his affirmation and acceptance of the feelings that drove the action. He listened to the parting metal and felt the change of pressure against his body.

Bare underneath, his body throbbed dully with every breath and pushed against the now flexible fabric. He felt a tremor in his own body as he ran a hand against the side of Jonny’s hair. Their kiss renewed, grew deeper, suddenly he felt something against his aroused and tender length. With a shiver he realized that it was the same taught muscle he’d felt before.   

He held Jonny, as they continued to kiss.  Jonny’s bare chest pressed against his own through his open Jacket. Two slim arms where clutching at his back. Their two members were stretched tight and pressed together, against their stomachs and each other, with only one thin layer of cotton separating them from contact. It was a heady feeling that made him shiver.

Jonny felt it too, his trembling only grew against him, his heavy breathing quickened became sharp, and his hips surged.  “Ohh…”

He was worried, until on his next breath, he caught the smell. Seed… He didn’t speak, didn’t smile, didn’t laugh… he just slipped his arms around Jonny’s back and held him close. For the second time that night, Jonny’s brown hair fell to his shoulder.  He held the boy and swayed with him His nose pressed to the curve of his neck, the beat of his heart, frantic in ecstasy, within easy, tempting reach.

But his words, meant to ease the boy’s pain and relax his guard, had done more. And though they had not reached the act of sexual congress itself, with circumstance alone negating the potential to create life, the sensations coursing through Jonny had still reaffirmed life. The moment was coming, the perfect opportunity to strike. But, he didn’t want to. Inside him, the hunger was there, raging, urging him to tear into that pulse and take it as his own.

But he wasn’t a base animal, with nothing but instinct. He was a being with the power to choose.  It was feed or die, and would always be. But nothing bound him to feed on this one.  He eased Jonny’s jeans up over his hips and did them back up. He eased Jonny onto a low stool eaten by the shadows. After he had carefully tucked his member away and refastened his own jeans, he knelt to meet his eyes.

“You are beautiful. If you, if your family, if your schoolmates… cannot see it through the haze of their own assumptions… It does not change that it is there to be seen.”

Jonny opened his mouth to protest, fresh blush, and fresh tears, showing on his face.

“Zack…”

“Shh…” He whispered kissing Jonny again, this time chastely on his forehead.

“I know what I see, and I know others that will see it.”

He was contemplating writing on one of his twenty dollar notes when he remembered what was in his coat pocket. He took out the stiff paper card. Then he took a well-less pen from the inside pocket of his coat. He wrote the name on his identification and then the number of the mobile cellular telephone he was carrying. He put the card in Jonny’s hand, and closed his other hand over it.

“I’m giving you… my number. It’s on a… business card. It’s a good place. They can help you… to know what your choices are.”

He read confusion and anxiety from Jonny, but not about him. It was about after, after this, after tonight.

I’d rather die than be hit one more time…”

“I’m not… from Chicago Jonny. I’ve never been to this club before, and I won’t come back after tonight.”

He very carefully squeezed Jonny’s hands around the card. “But you can reach me through the telephone. So don’t come back here hoping to see me. It’s your choice, but there are good people. Some of them can be found at the place on that card.”

“You’re not mad at me?” Jonny said, confused and blushing, “That I… you know…”

“Nuh uh.” He said, borrowing a favorite expression of Jonny’s, “I meant for that to happen… sooner or later.” Jonny barked a laugh.

He heard something, more accurately, he became conscious of the fact he had heard something many minutes ago. A quick read, feeling out by their partition, revealed they had not been alone. And when he looked deeper… the hunger inside him purred.

“Jonny…” He said, his tone going smoother, lower. “I need you to get up. I need you to leave this club. It’s not safe for a boy like you.” He leaned close to Jonny and whispered In Jonny’s ear, and in his mind. “Think ‘Dangerous Drinks’ meets ‘To Catch a Predator.’”

Jonny nodded, blinking his way to alert wariness, but not of him. The Persuasion was holding. “I need you to go back to the locker, get your bag and go straight out. When you’re outside, I hope you go to that address. Whatever you choose, keep moving, okay? Can you do that?”

“I’m not sure I know the way back to the locker.”

He smiled. “Yes you do.” He kissed Jonny’s forehead, putting the path into his mind.

The Persuasion, the subtle and devious compulsion he had worked on the boy held him alert, awake. It kept him from succumbing to the drowsy afterglow of his orgasm. But it did nothing to erode the relaxed trust Jonny had for him. With a tender smile, he whispered, “Are you ready?”

Jonny nodded his head. After a moment Jonny lurched forward and grabbed him in a tight hug, kissing his cheek, long and hard. He hugged him back carefully, and when Jonny thought “Thank you.”  He whispered, his voice still low and smooth with subtle command, “You are most welcome, Jonathan Meyers. Now go.”

He walked him to the partition, opened it, and steered him away from the alcove-like space on the right. Jonny started walking… and stopped. He turned and raised one hand in a shy wave. He smiled and waved back, his expression stiff.

Go, like I said.” Jonny blushed and started down the hall again.

When Jonny was out of sight he stepped back into the partition, just barely. He shrugged out of his leather coat and tossed it onto the stool. The shadows of the shifting light made his bare torso seem even leaner,

“So… is just watching what works for you,” he called out. “Or do you… maybe want to have a little fun?”

An older man, thirty, but using clothes, dyes, make-up, and muscle to appear younger, stepped toward him smiling. He could smell spirits and lust coming off the man.

Across the dark, one predator regarded another. “That depends…” said the human, “What do you have in mind?”

This man had been following Jonny since he came in, had offered to buy him alcohol, had been flirtatious, and had been angry when Jonny had walked away to “rescue some punk,” him. He was planning to get his kicks here, maybe follow Jonny afterward…

He smiled. “The night is dark.” He took the man by the wrist and pulled him into the room. His chest and stomach brushed against the man’s side as he reached around him. He closed the partition with a sharp shove, but its oiled track made no noise.

He had seen it play out for hundreds of thousands, perhaps million of nights now. Humans were the lions in the daylight.  But they were not the only predator…

“The night is dark…” He repeated. “And full of horrors…”



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