I had missed him! His touch, his scent, his kiss...to be in contact with it again was orgasmic. My love for him became explosive, all in that one instant, and it was as though my heart didn't know how to handle it. We were so wrapped up in the moment that we'd forgotten that someone else was even in the room with us. "I think I'll leave you two alone." Dash said from the doorway, and with a smile, he walked away to give me and Taryn some privacy.
I tenderly reached up a soft hand to lightly run a finger over his bruised eye, that porcelain white skin now turned shades of red and purple from my outburst at the lot. I jumped as, with a deep inhalation, Taryn winced at the touch. He tried not to make it look like it hurt so much, but deep down I knew that it did. Just knowing that it hurt, made me wince right along with him. "Ohhh...baby, I'm so damn sorry. I'll NEVER forgive myself! I can't believe I fucking hit you..."
"It's ok, Justin. Really. It looks a lot worse than it is. It'll be gone in another sleep cycle or two. I'm fine." I reached for it again, but this time he quickly leaned away from me. "I didn't say you could 'PLAY' with it! I said I was fine!" He giggled.
I shot him a genuine smile of my own, but the guilt inside didn't hide too well behind my grin. Despite the unbelieveable joy in seeing him here next to me again. "How did you find me?" I asked.
"Last night before I came in for the night...you were going through one of our drawers. You left a hand drawn map sitting out next to the bed. It was the only clue I had of where you might go to. So...I took a chance and...here you are."
"Does...does Bryson know?" I asked timidly, and Taryn gently shook his head. "Any of the others?"
"No. I didn't tell them anything. I promise."
Feeling that ice cold lump of guilt in my stomach, I lowered my eyes to the floor and asked, just above a whisper, "Are they...are they ok?"
Taryn sighed, "Well...Max is still healing up. It may take a few days. Dion and Jenna have a few scrapes and bruises, but it's nothing major." My head dropped even lower, but Taryn used a finger to lift my chin. "Hey...they're ok. You just...you caught them by surprise, that's all."
He put a hand on the back of my head and brought it softly to his shoulder, where I felt a few painful tears escape my eyes. Nothing hurt me more than the fact that I could never take back those few angry moments. That I could never make it right. Then, as he gave me a few soft strokes of my blond hair, I noticed a brief silence that rose up between us. A silence where Taryn looked like he was struggling to say something and yet didn't quite know how.
He lifted me up and looked me in the eye, our gazes melting into one another momentarily, as he silently brushed some of his silken hair back to tuck it behind his ear. "I...I didn't mean it. You know? I just...I couldn't stop myself..." Taryn nodded, but I had to make sure he really understood. "Seriously...I would NEVER put my hands on you...on ANY of you."
"Yeah...yeah, Justin. I know." He said....then there was another uncomfortable pause, and I began to sense his stress levels rise slightly as he smiled at me again. A smile that was used more as a mask than anything else. Somehow...I knew that the hard questions were coming. He tried to lighten the mood a bit at first by saying "Geez...and here I thought that you were the one always getting beat up in school?" An artificial giggle escaped his lips. He knew something was wrong, and that me hiding it from him any longer would be bad for the both of us. "Doesn't look like you would have had any trouble defending yourself to me."
"Um....I guess...I guess Dion taught me a few tricks. Here and there." Don't do this, Justin. Just...TELL him! Stop pushing and pulling the truth in order to make things easy. This is TARYN here! We can tell him! We CAN!
"That was 'more' than just a few tricks, Justin." He wanted the truth. He NEEDED the truth. And for some STUPID reason, the words just got caught up in my throat and absolutely refused to come out! "Honey..." He started, an almost pained look on his face. "...For the last...well...a long time now...I've turned my head to a lot of things concerning you. Your crossover, your extra, your sudden disappearances from the lot...and everything that went with it. And I KNOW you have your secrets, and I have mine, and...I'm trying reaaallly hard to respect that, ok?" He put his hand on my knee, and gave it a squeeze as his eyes focused on me with even more intensity. His contacts began to glow as his eyes became wet with the beginning of more tears. "But, Justin, this is seriously starting to worry me. I never know where you are, or what you're thinking, or why. I feel like you're in some kind of trouble and that you need me to be there...but I CAN'T. I can't because you won't let me in." Tell him, Justin. He's right here. RIGHT HERE! And he's opening his soul to you in a way that no one else ever has. In a way that no one else ever could. "Justin...I can't help you like this. I'm trying to give you enough space to find your own path, I really am. But I'm so far outside of your life right now that I can't seem to get a straight answer from you anymore. And it's killing me inside to be kept at arms length all the time. I just...I want to help you, hon. Can't you see that? We all do." He held my face in his hands gently, his tender fingertips landing lovingly up at my ears. "I don't want to pry into or intrude on any place where I don't belong. But...." He stopped for a second, and then said, "...I wanna 'belong' everywhere, Justin. I want to be a part of you again."
"And I KNOW what you're gonna say, Justin, and I KNOW it's probably none of my business, and I KNOW that I should be patient and wait for you to tell me all about the little things that I seem to be missing...but...I want to start. Right now. Right here. Tonight." The first tear had fallen, leaving a trail of silver from his black eye down to his softened cheek. "We keep saying that we'll make time to talk again, that we'll come clean with each other and not hold back anymore. But between you always being busy, and chores around the lot, and Gyro's visit, and Bryson trying to keep us distanced while you learn and get trained...we never get the chance."
He was right. He was absolutely right. We had fooled around a bit, kissed and hugged, had mindblowing sexual interludes, and plenty of laughs in between. But it had been an extremely long time since the two of us had just gotten a few seconds to sit down and 'talk'. To just look into his eyes and really dig deep into my own soul to show him who I really was. Some of that connection that we had discovered that first night when he rescued me from my biggest mistake...had vanished. I had busied myself with every offbeat character and quest for information that I could find, trying to get a better understanding of who I am and what was expected of me in this new life of mine. But in the meantime, I had forgotten what made this new life so very important. What made it possible. And what made it beautiful. A huge part of that distance between Taryn and I...came from secrets. Too many damn secrets. And it was all my fault.
"I never meant to push you aside, Taryn. Never. I'm so sorry if I...if I..." I felt tears streaking my face, and Taryn reached out to hug me. The choked back sobs in my throat freed themselves a bit, and I let go. "I've been such an idiot..."
"Shhh...It's ok, hon. It's ok. I just....I need you. And I need you to need me back."
"I do need you, Taryn. I really do." It was then that I felt Taryn move back a bit, and his baby soft lips touched mine in the sweetest caress. We kissed sensually, and I was instantly lost in him all over again. The very taste of him filled me up from the inside. His scent left me breathless with its perfumed aroma. His touch tingled every nerve that he ran across with the smoothness of his palm. As he leaned forward to kiss me more deeply, I could feel the tender strands of his hair glide forward and lightly brush against my cheeks. His love was the light that pierced through every dark corner of my mind. As long as I granted him access. It was something that was long overdue. With a quiet pop, Taryn broke the kiss. And, with a teary smile, he rubbed the tip of his nose lovingly against mine in the cutest way.
We stared at one another, reconnecting. Feeling our hearts and desires entangling themselves into one entity all over again. All the time, trying to remember that we were in a church, and that certain 'activities' should probably wait until later. I was almost ready to go in for another passionate kiss when we heard a few restrained giggles coming from the doorway of the room. We looked over, and some of the sanctuary's younger children had crowded around the door to watch us make out. Once caught, they couldn't hold back their playful snickers any longer and burst out laughing at us. We couldn't help but laugh ourselves at the situation. "You guys like that, huh?" Taryn smirked.
"Boys don't kiss boys!" One of the little boys said, wrinkling his nose up as though we were just being silly.
"Who him?" I said. "He's not a boy! This is a big ol' GIRL!" Taryn elbowed me in the side at the comment.
"Yes he is! I know 'cause I can see his 'thingie'!" One girl said while pointing down to the tent in Taryn's pants. Taryn strategically turned away with a blush.
"Get outta here!" I said, playfully tossing one of the pillows on at them. With another burst of screams and giggles, the kids scattered to both sides of the door, running off down the hall to play elsewhere. All except for one. The smile disappeared slowly from my face, as I saw Kyra standing outside watching me. Her face was void of all emotion, and her fingers were dyed different colors from the crayons she had been holding recently. Then, she turned slowly and walked away without saying a single word. Again...the little girl struck me as odd, maybe even creepy, but Taryn was my focus for the time being.
"Listen...why don't we go out to the lake tonight. We can talk, really talk, and we can get some privacy...It'll be great." Taryn said.
"Will I get to see your 'thingie' too?" I smiled.
"Hehehe, not if you keep calling me a GIRL, you won't." He leaned in to give me another quick peck on the lips before standing up. "I missed you. ALL of you. I want it to be like it was in the beginning. Ok? Just for tonight?"
"It'll be even better than in the beginning. I promise."
"Cool...then let's head out." He began walking, but stopped momentarily. "Wait...what do we have to do to get 'out' of this place, exactly? I doubt that they would let us just walk in and out as we please?"
"Actually, I think we can. I've just gotta get Dash to show me how to open up all those damn locks." I grinned, and Taryn grinned right along with me as he put an arm over my shoulder. We walked out into the dark hallway as I kissed him sweetly on his cheek, again and again. I could feel myself being filled up with that endless sense of joy again. He brought it back to my life the instant he had crossed my vision, and if Dash says I needed faith in something to guide me...I'd choose Taryn's love in an instant.
However, something caught my eye as we exited the room. I noticed a small crayon drawing hanging low on the wall, attached by a single piece of see-through tape, just outside of the room. I picked up a corner and peeled it from the wall to give it a look. It was a child's drawing, obviously. This time not much more than a few stick figures with faces on them. But I knew it was Kyra's doing. I could 'feel' it, as though her essence was radiating from the page itself. Looking closer, I saw myself, a blond stick figure, in the middle of the paper. And around me? Other stick figures. At least TEN. And they all had frowns on their faces, surrounding me and trapping me in a corner. I wasn't quite sure what it meant, if anything. But it was apparently trying to tell me something. What, exactly, is anybody's guess. But SOMETHING. Then...looking down to the lower right corner of the page, I realized that there were two more figures that didn't seem to be at all involved with the others. They were apart from everything else. Simply added to the picture without necessity, it seemed....except for the fact that one of them was circled. With a red ring and a line through it. It almost felt like...like...I don't know...a warning. Especially for that one figure in the red circle. A negative vibe surrounded the image, and my senses picked up on it somehow. That particular image, that figure, was dangerous. Perhaps...even deadly.
"What's that?" Taryn asked.
"Oh....it's...it's nothing. One of the children here drew it for me." I smiled at Taryn, putting the picture back inside the room for safe keeping, but making sure to keep the image from wandering too far from my mind. If Kyra could spontaneously draw the Beast effortlessly like she had earlier, and if her predictions were as precise as Dash said they were, I should probably be on the lookout for something like that. Hopefully, it won't come anytime soon. "Come on. Let's get out of here." I said, and Taryn and I headed out of the sanctuary and on to our favorite spot. Once again...we were joined together on a level that no one else could ever touch. A level that only those who know true love can reach. The very evening wind itself seemed to applaud us being so attached to one another. If you've ever had that feeling...you know what it's like. Absolutely untouchable.
Taryn and I held hands unashamed that night as we walked out towards Navy Pier. It was closed down already for the night, empty with the exception of a few security guards and late night janitors. I wasn't sure if they had seen Taryn out there enough to know not to ask us to leave, or if they just didn't care. But either way, they let us spend the time alone with no hassle. Left in peace at long last, Taryn guided me out to the huge black anchor that stood so firm at the end of the dock. The place where my life both ended and began anew. The place that I knew we would be coming to for however many centuries that we were allowed to spend together. Despite what was going through our heads that fateful night when we met for the first time, just sitting in the shadow of that anchor felt like home.
The cold concrete beneath me gave my body a slight chill when I sat down. But Taryn was quick to toss his arm over my shoulder and hold me close to share some of his inviting body heat. I could feel myself melting into his shoulder as he delicately kissed the top of my blond locks and gave me a squeeze. I let my arms worm their way around his slim waist and hold him tight as I placed an angel's kiss on the side of his neck. "You know...even though we've never really been that far apart...." I started.
"....I really missed you, Taryn." I tilted my head to kiss him once more, before resting my head back on his shoulder. "Not just since last night. I mean...just being around you. You know...without the distractions."
"Yeah. I missed you too." He whispered. "It won't be much longer. I think Bryson is doing his best to trust you to find your own way. It's just...it's difficult at first for most vampires to adjust, you know? Without some kind of guidance or structure, things can go pretty wild in a short time. He knows what he's doing."
"I know. And I understand Bryson wanting me to grow and learn and ALL of that, but....I need you, Taryn. I need you by my side more than anything. And I hate it that so much gets in the way of us being together."
"When your crossover is complete...when you've been taught enough to stand on some kind of stable foundation concerning the life you're going to have to lead from now on...then he'll ease up a bit. He just doesn't want anything to happen to you. And neither do I." I gave Taryn a tighter squeeze, and we stayed like that for a while. The sound of our unified heartbeats seemingly controlling the rolling waves in front of us. It was beautiful.
We kissed for quite a while, just enjoying the coolness of the wind, and the warmth of our embrace. The hypnotic sound of the tide was more soothing than you can possibly imagine at that moment. We were inspired to just lean back and stare out into the darkness in surrounding us. For me, it was just an opportunity to see out into the seemingly infinite lake as it touched the sky at edge of the horizon. But to Taryn...there was much more meaning to it. I could feel it in his embrace. It was as if he was still waiting for that beautiful sunrise to suddenly leap out of the lake and bathe us in its light once again. And it saddened him more and more by the minute. He missed the sun. I didn't need any special abilities to realize that. It would glow with agonizing intensity from behind his eyes. Sometimes he dulled it down with one of his passionate smiles, and I'd be so in love that the misery inside of him would seem to fade away. But without that cute little mask of his, his inner emotions would flood to the surface...and it was heartbreaking. "You still miss it. Don't you?" I asked softly. "The sun?"
He paused for a second, and then sighed to himself. "Yeah....sometimes, I do." He said. "It was the one thing that I had....that let me know that everything was going to be alright. You know?" I held him tighter, and he held back a sniffle. "Ten years...ten long years. It's so hard to believe that my entire life in daylight, only exists in my memory. It seems so distant now, like I have to ty harder and harder to remember certain details, faces, voices. It almost seems like a dream. An old fantasy that I can't even prove ever existed, much less re-emerge myself into it. It almost...feels like some bedtime fairy tale that I tell myself before I go to bed in order to sleep at night. I can't believe it's been that long." I could say nothing to comfort him. I could only hold him closer to me, changing positions just enough to lean against the metal of the old anchor while letting Taryn's head slide down to lay warmly on my lap. He snuggled in deeply, and I used one arm to caress his shoulder. The other hand I used to quietly pet his hair, letting the silken strands pass through my fingers delicately. There's nothing more sensually pleasing, than running your fingers through your lover's hair in silence. I had hoped that it would give him some comfort from his thoughts. Maybe it did. Maybe it didn't. I wasn't sure, but it was all I could do. "You know....my dad...he used to work nights. And he'd never come home until early in the morning." Taryn said, after a few moments of silence. "He'd tell me...
'Taryn...just remember that when you look out towards the lake, and see the sun rising out of the water...you'll know that Daddy's coming home, and that he'll never leave you. As long as you remember that, I'll always be looking out for you, kid. No matter what.'
Taryn's chest started to tremble slightly as tears dripped from his eyes, each droplet filled with the memories of a brighter time. "It's been soooo long, Justin. So incredibly long. And now...it feels like he can't find me anymore."
I had nothing to say, no comfort to give him. After all he had given me, I was helpless to bring back what he needed most. Loving him with all my heart was satisfying, but it was a house built on what I now see as a broken foundation. One that could never be fixed again. "If he loves you even half as much as I do...he can find you anywhere." I kissed him on the top of his head.
"Sometimes, I can't be so sure." He said. "It took a long time for me to dettach myself from it all. My dad, my mom, my brother Alec...it took years for it to stop hurting. Even now, I don't know if the pain has lessened over time, or if I've just gotten used to it."
"I know. Sometimes, as awful as it was, I think I miss my life too." I whispered. Taryn sat up for a second to look directly at me.
"You know....that night, when you were going to jump..." He said, "...I had NEVER been so scared of losing someone. Never." His eyes were watery but intense in their stare. "I would have done anything to help you. You know that, right?"
"I just...I fell in love with you, Justin. And I tried not to, I really did. I was wrestling with my feelings every single night, hoping that I wouldn't fall for you. But...you were cute, and you were special, and...it just felt like your sul was reaching out for something. Out of all the humans I had come across in the past decade of darkness, you were the first one that seemed to personify everything that I am. Everything that I wanted to be. And...just like me...seeing you walk out here night after night...it seemed like you had your light stolen from you too."
I thought back to the memory, it still a vivid picture in my mind. "You know...you really did scare the hell out of me that night. You were so 'weird'."
He smiled a bit. "I'm still weird. But now you get to be weird with me." Then his smile faded, and he took another deep look into me. "It was Dion that told me to talk to you for the first night. I kept telling him that I was scared, that I wouldn't know what to say, that I never had a chance of being with a...human. But I think he knew that you were the only chance I had at ever being happy again. He saw me spiraling downwards pretty fast, I suppose. So I did..."
"And you turned out to be everything I knew you would be. And more." He inhaled and looked down towards the ground. "I got...caught up in you Justin. And...I wanted you with me. I wanted...I wanted you to stay with me." He looked back up into my eyes, as though he were trying to make me realize what he was saying. "I never meant to bring you into all of this darkness. I wanted you to go back to your life and appreciate all of the little things that I had given up for a chance at some unknown treasure that I had never found until you came along. But...when I think about it, REALLY think about it...I would have done anything to keep you, Justin. Even if it meant...an eternity without the sun."
I think I was beginning to see what he was gettng at. "Taryn...I chose to be with you. You DO know that right?"
"I just...I can't help but feel that...in some small way...I tricked you into being here. That somewhere deep down, I knew I wasn't going to let you go." I slowly leaned over, and hugged him tight against me, kissing him on the cheek.
"I wasn't going to let you go either, Taryn. And don't you ever think that making that decision wasn't one of the best things I've ever done." I felt more tears crawl over my cheeks as I squeezed him tighter. "I can't breathe without you, baby. I can't breathe. I am so happy that you brought me to your world."
But he could only whisper, "I wish you could have brought me back to yours, Justin. I miss being 'blinded' by everything. Being led around about what I'm supposed to do and who I'm supposed to be. I miss it. I'd give anything to be blind again."
We held our embrace until our emotions balanced out again, until the tears stopped pouring and only the warmth of our love was left to comfort us both. I don't know what my life would have been if Taryn hadn't been here to stop me from jumping that night. Or if I'd even HAVE a life for that matter. But I didn't regret this choice, I didn't regret the love in my heart. And despite the consequences and the ordeals I've faced...with all of the dillemmas and all the harsh realities I've had to face...Taryn was the center that made it all worthwhile. And when it came down to it, I didn't regret a thing. We spent the next hour just talking. Not really diving into anything deep like I had expected, but warming up to it by getting in touch with one another all over again. It felt good. Damn it felt good. For that one hour...our souls became delightfully united again. And I wanted it to last forever.
"Taryn!" The shouted voice came from further down the pier, and got louder as they ran closer to the end to meet us. I looked out from behind the anchor and saw Jun and Dion speeding our way. They pretty much knew that Taryn would be there. But me? I think I surprised them.
"Taryn, I..." But Dion stopped when he saw me there with him. It was only a moment's pause, but it was enough to remind me of what I had done. Ashamed, I let my gaze drop down to the concrete, and I didn't look up again. "...Taryn...we need your help."
"Need my help? For what?" Taryn sat up, wondering why they were both in such a rush.
"It's Gyro...he's in trouble." Jun said. "BIG trouble! We were looking for him at the club, and we found him for a few seconds but lost sight of him..."
Dion stepped in, "He left with somebody, Taryn. And some people think they overheard him talking about 'spice'." Taryn's face dropped instantly, and he got up on his feet.
"No...no way. Gyro doesn't mess around with that shit."
"I know that he never has before. But there were witnesses that were there, and they're all basically saying the same thing. He left with some guy and they were half drunk and talking about getting twisted out of their minds tonight." Dion looked back over at me, but still hadn't said a word in my direction. Then he took a deep breath, and he said, "Taryn...we need to find the flophouse where Gyro is located. We need to know where to start looking. I....I know you can help us."
I looked up for a quick second, and a very quiet Taryn looked back at me. "Why would Taryn know how to find a flophouse?" I asked, but they didn't answer. None of them answered. And I was beginning to wonder if this was one of the parts of our in depth conversation that we were going to be building up to that night.
"Come on. If this guy was local...I think I know where he might be." Taryn said, and he held out his hand to help me to my feet. He just gave me a loving look, his hand brushing the side of my face, and he whispered, "We'll come back to this later. All of this. And we'll talk about the important stuff next time. I've got...I've got a lot more to tell you."
I nodded my head in agreement. "Later then."
"Pinky promise?" He said, holding up his pinky with a slight smile.
I eased a slight smile on my own face and made the appropiate gesture. "Pinky promise."
"Come on! We've gotta find him and get him home before daylight!" Jun said, and we took off to find our friend. No matter what condition he may be in.
We took turns jumping the turnstile at the subway station, as it was too far out South for us to walk or run the distance. And we caught the next train going out that way. I swear, it was the quietest train ride that I had ever taken with them. And yet it wasn't out of anger that they had stopped talking to me. It was more like they were keeping things from me, from each other even. I wanted to apologize, to beg Dion to forgive me for hittng him. But I didn't know how to begin. He had been my friend, kept my secrets, taken me out of the lot my very first time after my crossover...he didn't deserve that. No way. That's exactly why I'm going to make sure that it never happens again. Not to him, or Taryn, or anybody. From now on, I'm not fighting anybody. It's gotten way out of control, and it's more trouble than it's worth. I'm done with it. Sitting in silence on that train....I felt guilty and stupid, Taryn felt guilty and stupid...it was an oddly comfortable balance in an uncomfortable situation. One that didn't start to loosen up until about 30 minutes later when we started getting closer to our stop.
We had arrived at the place much sooner than I had expected. And my nerves were shaking themselves to pieces as we walked off the train and into one of the seediest neighborhoods that I had ever been in. In broad daylight OR after dark. Taryn stayed at my side the entire time as he guided us through the alleys, practically knowing every step in advance. Wherever we were going, it was clear to me that he had been there before. And something about that made me wonder even more about what his life was like before I entered the picture. I knew that he was probably just as scared as I was at one time, but maybe it was for a series of different reasons entirely. Taryn guided us through the alleys and courtyards of the neighborhood. Sometimes, it seemed as if whole BLOCKS had been abandoned. Burned up bricks and boarded up windows. Taryn started out as the leader of our little quest that night, knowing the area like the back of his hand. Jun and Dion, however, took over in leading the way once we had a lock on where this place was. And if they were worried about anything at all, they didn't let it show much. Nor did they let it slow them down. Instead, they moved swiftly forward with Taryn and I walking breathlessly to keep up with them. Their duty outweighed their caution by a mile.
We stopped at what looked like an old abandoned apartment building, about 20 stories high, with boarded up windows and nothing but dirt, weeds, and concrete for a 'lawn'. Occassionally decorated by a sprinkling of broken glass shards, but other than that, a wasteland of an area. The place was surrounded by a short, 4 foot high, metal fence with spikes on the top of it. It seemed as though even the birds and squirrels of the area knew not to go in. The very air around us stood still, and it didn't help to loosen me up any. That's for sure.
Jun walked into the building first, stepping in through two wooden planks that doubled as a door for the shifty looking place. Dion followed, and Taryn and I went in with some hesitation behind them. The stench of the old place was overpowering at first. I'd rather hold my breath until I suffocated, than breathe in another whiff of that polluted air...thickened with the pungent smell of unbathed drug addicts and urine. "Don't touch anything." Jun warned. "Not even the walls."
"I don't even wanna touch the FLOOR in this place!" I answered.
We went up the stairs to the second floor, searching for any sign of Gyro that we could find. Then we went up to the third. Then the fourth. We found nothing. Just more bodies, lost souls. Some of them human, some of them vampire kind. They were strewn about in whatever cleared space they could find on the concrete floor. Some had even used corners to prop themselves upright as they indulged in the liquid bliss that they had injected themselves with in the last few hours. The strange thing was...it was almost like the exact opposite of Dash's sanctuary. A twisted reflection of it. A hellish purgatory to his divine salvation. Their similarities were, by far, more disturbing than their differences. It wasn't a pretty sight, not by any means. It almost hurt to think of Gyro in a disgusting building like this. Still...Dion had a reliable source, and if he said that Gyro was here, then he was here.
Finally, after wandering from floor to floor, we found something on the 8th floor of the building. A level with dead blood spilled out over the tile, and an 'exclusive' presence of vampires that we could all feel the second we left the stairwell. We walked out to explore the level further, and came to a large empty room. The ceiling was at least twelve feet high, and the room looked like a loft of some sort. It was there that I saw two familiar faces sitting at a table in the center of the room. It was the two young men from the club, the ones that asked Jeremy about 'spiced' blood just a few days ago. This must be the place.
"There...in the back." Taryn said, and he pointed to a small figure laying on its side in the back of the room. A 13 year old boy on a thin dirty mattress. Hair that was once blond, but now dyed a variety of different rainbow colors...much like his sister's. Even in such bad shape, Gyro was an angel in appearance. His face was smudged with dirt and scum from the floor, but he was half conscious, half unconcious simultaneously. I doubted that he could even tell who we were as we hurried over to kneel at his side. "Gyro!" Taryn said in a loud whisper. "Gyro, wake up!"
"C'mon buddy, we need you to get up right now. Wake up, kiddo." Dion added.
It took a few slaps in the face and some heavy shaking to get him to come to, but Gyro was HARDLY in the position to comprehend the situation. "Huh....wha....what's going on....?" He said with an incredibly slurred speech.
"Gyro, we've gotta get you out of here." Jun said, grabbing his jacket from the corner and shaking the dust off of it.
"Oh...heyyyyyy...I know you guys..." Gyro smiled. "Hey everybody! These are my friends!" He shouted out loud with a giggle.
"SHHH! Shut up!" Dion scolded him with a whisper. "Get up! Come on!"
"What's the hurry...where are we going?" I don't think Gyro was anywhere NEAR being in his right mind. The drugs in his system had elevated him to another reality completely.
"We're going back to the lot. Taryn, help me get him up." Dion asked, and Taryn walked over to assist him in getting the limp body off of that dirty concrete floor.
"Wait...wait...just....just let me lay here for a few more minutes. K?" Gyro mumbled under his breath, and started drifting back off to sleep almost immediately. His head fell back as he temporarily slipped out of consciousness.
"Shit..." Jun grumbled. I looked to the corners of the room and saw a few of the people stirring along the walls to see what the commotion was about. Most of them were just junkies, probably 'twisted' out of their minds and admiring the pretty colors of our clothes. But there were one or two guys in there who seemed crystal clear, and were more than interested in what was going on with their new 'client'. "Gyro." Jun said, but when he didn't wake up, he smacked him a good one on the cheek. "GYRO!"
"Owwwww....fuck! WHAT?" He said, now awake, but still unable to focus.
"How much did you take?"
"How much what?"
"How much DRUGS, Gyro! How twisted are you?"
The kid fought to regain his senses, but couldn't quite put his logic together in any kind of order. "I...I don't know. They just...they gave me a bag. I came in here with somebody...and he...he just gave it to me..." Gyro's eyes rolled back a bit, and a smile spread out on his face as he started to drift off again. "Hehehe...you guys have GOTTA try this shit..." Then he passed out on us again.
"NO! Wake UP, Gyro! We've gotta bounce out of here. NOW!" Dion said, shaking him a bit more forcefully now.
I went over to keep Gyro from falling back to the floor like a sack of old potatoes. I put his arm over my shoulder and my arm around his waist. Taryn took the other side to help me. Damn this boy was heavy when he was playing 'dead weight'. But shortly after being in physical contact with him...something strange happened. Something I couldn't explain. My body became alive with his 'presence' all of the sudden, and I saw flashes of someone drinking with Gyro at the bar. It must have been from earlier that night. It was another vampire, slightly older, but something was 'off' about him. He had...TWO vibes inside of him. As though he were two people at once. I tried to remain normal in front of Taryn and the others while I mentally attempted to dig deeper. That's when I saw it...the other vampire didn't have two vibes...someone else was inside of him. Almost controlling him with suggestions and mental pushes.
"Justin? You ok?" Dion asked, seeing my obvious loss of concentration. I lost the image immediately, and couldn't get it back. Whatever it was, one thing was clear...Gyro was brought here for a reason.
"I'm...I'm fine. Yeah. Let's get out of here."
It was then that we heard footsteps getting closer to us, and two of the guys from the corner came over to see what was up. "Can we help you gentlemen with something?"
"Actually, our friend...he's in bad shape. We're taking him home." Jun answered.
They lifted Gyro's head and he gave them a wide, sleepy, grin. "He looks fine to me. He's twisted. That's just what him and his friend ordered. That's what they got."
The other guy piped in, "If anything, you guys are blowing his high."
"Who did he come in here with?" Taryn asked.
"Don't know." The first guy said.
"You don't know who he came in here with?"
"I don't HAVE to know, kid. It's not my JOB to know." The man added. "Now, if you guys are looking to get hooked up, that can be easily arranged. But if you're not here to twist with the rest of us, then I suggest that you and your friends here wait it out and come back to get him in a couple of days."
"A couple of DAYS?" Dion exclaimed. "I'm not leaving him in this shithole for a couple of days!"
"I'm afraid you've got no choice there, 'friend'. Until sunshine-boy's friend comes back with the money he owes us for his fix...he's our collateral." The man said.
"Whatever. Look, we're out of here." Dion moved forward, but one of the guards put their hand on his chest. "Get the fuck up off of me!" He shouted, savagely pushing his hand away. Things were escalating quickly, and we were just a few seconds away from having a bad situation on our shoulders. Jun nodded for me and Taryn to start walking, so we could carry Gyro to a safer location. Just in case anything were to suddenly jump into action.
"Get Cato in here! Now!" One man shouted as the other moved out of the door to retrieve what I assumed would be their boss. "You're not going anywhere. You wait until our man gets back here, and you work out your debts with him."
"I'm not staying here for anybody! We're leaving!"
"I can't let you do that..."
"FUCK you!" It was one of the first times I had ever seen Dion really get upset and shout at anybody. But as soon as the emotion appeared on his face...it wiped itself clean. It was as though he had flipped some kind of inner switch to turn the emotion off and return to normal. He walked forward to push the guy aside, but the guy reacted and pushed him back. It was the catalyst that set everything else in motion.
Dion jumped at him instantly and grabbed two handfulls of his collar, pushing him hard up against the wall. It was hard enough to almost knock the other guy unconscious and when Dion let him slip down to the floor, he stayed down. Jun led the way to the door, and Taryn and I made sure to keep walking, quickening our pace so as not to run into anymore trouble. We weren't so lucky. Standing in the doorway, was the other guard, and next to him was a male vampire, about 19 years old, with dark chocolate skin, a shaved bald head, and a long leather overcoat. He had a long scar from his lip to his ear almost, and a scowl across his face. This...was Cato. They blocked our only exit from the place, and we all backed up slightly as we prepared for what might be coming next.
He spoke. "I understand that your friend here owes us a rather large sum of money for the supply of narcotics that we gave him tonight. Is that right?" No one answered at first, but Jun then replied with a nod. "And you want to take him out of here without paying a single cent. Is THAT right?" He looked strong, even through his jacket the curves of his muscled arms were visible. His long legs made him almost a head taller than the rest of us, and through the black mesh of his shirt, I could see a set of rock hard abs that looked almost impenetrable. He wasn't about to let us just walk out of here. "I'm afraid that's just not possible. Now look, if you fellas want to go get the cash and come back tonight, he's free to go. If you want to find the friend he came in with, and force HIM to pay the money, he's free to go. But you can't just leave without collateral. That's not good business."
"He wasn't supposed to BE here. He was tricked into coming here. He DOESN'T get twisted." Jun added.
"He looks pretty twisted to me." Cato replied.
"You don't understand..."
But Cato abruptly cut him off. "THOSE are your choices gentlemen. Take 'em or leave 'em."
Jun looked over to Dion and gently nodded a signal. Dion looked to me and Taryn simultaneously, and gestured for us to head for the door. I could feel the tension in the room rise to it's highest level, building to the point where it was almost hard to breathe. And then, with the wink of an eye, Jun took action! His hands lashed out so quickly that they hardly registered in my vision before hitting the guard in front of the door. He fell to the ground and was out immediately, but when Jun directed his attack towards the towering Cato...not a single punch hit its mark. Cato kept his place right at the door, and his hands seemed to be just as fast as Jun's if not faster. They began to spar and strike at each other at what looked like the speed of light. Neither one getting in a shot. We still had no exit, and Taryn and I were stuck holding Gyro upright as Dion charged forward to double up on the human barricade keeping us locked in. It was the first time that I had ever seen Jun fight...and the very sight of it was beyond art in motion. What I had seen him accomplish in the yard through his pure focus rituals was NOTHING in comparison to what he was doing now! His arms and legs were like 'liquid', every move shooting through the air at its target as his flexible body fought to keep up. His strong wiry limbs bent like green branches on a sapling tree, whipping at Cato with full force, and still not making much of a dent.
Dion, on the other hand, was much more forward with his techniques. His blows were stronger, more direct...the sheer power and energy being pushed through the air with the force of ten men. Dion's kicks went straight for the center of the person he was aiming at, and were delivered with merciless accuracy. But this 'Cato' character was somehow able to take them both on without even flinching. His blocks and dodges were calculated differently on both sides of his body, abling him to take Dion and Jun at the same time, at different speeds, with different styles. Their fighting raged on in front of that door while we watched from a safe distance. Looking for that one golden opportunity when we'd be able to get past them and out of that door.
Then...a FLASH! It almost blinded me from the inside as I suddenly recaptured the image that I had gotten the first time that I had touched Gyro. I saw the bar at the club, the other vampire, and then....a hand reaching out to touch that vampire. A slight touch on the shoulder, a single moment of contact, and then an electric charge of some sort passed into him. I remembered that feeling. I remembered that 'touch'. It was MICHAEL! I could see his face clear as day! Michael set this whole thing up. He used his extra to get the other guy to lead Gyro here and leave him behind. That little SHIT!!! Now I see! He wanted me out of the way. He wanted GYRO out of the way! His jealousy over Trevor's love was getting DANGEROUS now!
I snapped out of it just in time to see Jun and Dion free up a slight space for us to slip through the door. "C'mon! Let's go!" Taryn shouted, and we moved as fast as we could to get to the door while dragging Gyro along with us. But before we could get there, Cato flipped back over to block the entrance again. Dion moved in to protect us, but Cato knocked him off of his feet with a footsweep. Then, before we could defend ourselves, he hopped forward and kicked me roughly in the side, and all three of us went tumbling down to the ground below! Dion and Jun fought even harder, doing their WORST to at least keep him busy while we got away. However, when Taryn and I worked our way to our feet, and I saw him hurt...the pain in my side numbed itself. I didn't feel any agony at all after a few seconds, and my body tightened up instantly. That kick, that one attack, had activated my instincts, and they were ready to defend at any cost!
Control, Justin. Control. I took deep breaths, hoping that my body would obey me this time. We don't need this. If I start now, I'll hurt someone again. Don't do it. I tried to calm down a bit, and grabbed a hold of Gyro, tossing his arm over my shoulder. We waited for another break in Cato's defenses to attempt another escape. But me remaining 'calm' wasn't enough. My palms began to itch, and I could feel my teeth gritting together hard. My breathing had changed, my chest had become more solid, the muscles tensed and ready. But I kept still. Looking over at my boyfriend...my beautiful Taryn, marked with the unforgivable stigma of a black eye...a reminder of the last time that I had lost control. I won't do that again. I won't endanger my friends. I did my best to force the building pressure out of my mind, and just waited for my chance to flee the scene.
Dion was working harder than I had ever seen to defeat his enemy, but Cato was FAST! DAMN fast! And even with Jun doing what he could to get through his defenses, he seemed untouchable. Then, Cato actually jumped back against the wall....and stuck there! He was standing out sideways as though the wall had it's own artificial form of gravity. Jun attacked first, and Cato was able to fight just as well from the side as he did on the ground. It made it even harder for Dion and Jun to get any shots in from this new angle, but they continued to press him hard with everything they had. Cato could move from the floor, to the wall, back to the floor, and even to the CEILING, without missing a beat! And it was dizzying for my friends who couldn't fight on so many planes. Especially when he switched between them so rapidly.
Dion and Jun began to coordinate their strikes, hitting high and low simultaneously as Cato flipped back and forth across the ceiling. He was upside down, blocking vicious kicks from both sides, before delivering a hard upside down kick to Dion's face, knocking him back against the wall! He spun down sideways to the wall, and caught Jun in a tight chokehold, his arm becoming a vice around his throat. My body was SCREAMING to get involved, but my fear of what might happen stilled my hands. For the first time since I've had these abilities...I was terrified that I wouldn't be able to turn it off once I got into motion. Not until everyone in the room was severely injured or worse...my friends included. For fuck's sake...what am I supposed to do???
Dion jumped to his feet, and ran towards Cato at top speed. Cato switched from being on the wall, back to the ceiling, still holding tightly onto Jun's neck and almost hanging him by lifting his feet from the floor! Dion didn't pause for more than a split second. He ran towards the wall behind Cato, jumped up, and sprung off the wall with a spin kick to knock Cato back down to the floor. Jun dropped down with a thud, but got his second wind in no time. This time, he intensified the activation of his extra, entering a deep inner state of meditation and focus. I could feel it in the air around me, and it was so strong that my mimic ability reacted to it instantly and I almost got sucked in with him. I fought to keep from letting the focus take hold of me, and with some mental struggling...I was abe to keep my balance in reality. Jun became a dynamo, his moves so erratic and frenzied that Cato was knocked back a few yards! He rolled on the floor until he reached a wall, and continued rolling up the wall as he distanced himself from his opponents. With one foot on the wall and one on the ceiling, he continued the battle. His every move was even more unpredictable than the last, moving at such a dizzying pace that I was amazed that Jun or Dion could get in a shot at all. The combinations that Cato could pull off were out of the realm of definition.
"Justin! Look!" Taryn shouted, and he directed me over to a window where it looked like a homeless person was climbing in to take a nap. "Do you see what I see?"
"He's climbing in the window." I said, but then I thought twice about it. "And...we're eight floors up."
Taryn and I looked at each other at the same time and said in unison, "Fire escape!"
We shuffled Gyro over to the window, and looked outside. Sure enough, there was a shakey old iron fire escape outside. Steps and ladders leading down to the alley below. "After you..." I said, and he climbed outside.
I handed him Gyro out the window, his seemingly lifeless body weighing Taryn down and almost pushing him over the side. Then I climbed out afterwards, and looked around us. The night air hit me first, and the surroundings of the city almost felt like freedom. But we weren't out of the fire yet. I looked over the edge at the ground 8 floors down. About a 75 foot drop at least, I'm thinking. And at the bottom, a short spiked fence made of rusted metal. Without much hesitation, we started our careful decent down the staircase, and the metal creaked and groaned with every step. By the time we were halfway down to the 7th floor, we could hear pieces of metal falling off of the stairs and 'clinging' and 'clanging' their way down to the distant ground beneath us. Then, the whole thing jerked forward and we froze! I was practically holding my breath until the stairs felt somewhat stable again. We didn't have much time. Okaaaaay...so maybe this WASN'T such a good idea.
Inside, Jun and Dion were getting more used to Cato's tricks, and with a few leaps and spins...they could knock him down off of those walls with a lot more ease. Dion gave Jun a boost up into the air any moment that he needed one, and Jun's acrobatics would allow him to touch Cato no matter WHERE he fled to! Then, once Cato had been sent spiraling to the ground again...Dion was right there to pound on him some more. The two of them made an unbeatable team, but not an invinceable one. And they took their share of harsh blows as well. Jun had been cut in several different places, and Dion was bleeding from the nose, bruises covering his chest and back. It took the both of them at the top of their game to be an even match.
"Keep moving, Justin. We're almost there. Just a few more floors." Taryn kept going and I followed as fast as Gyro's motionless feet would allow me to. But the shabby old fire escape was wobbling and falling apart more and more with each step. Not to mention that it was so narrow that we could barely fit through it ourselves, much less with a third party in our arms. "Almost..." Then one of the steps gave way and Taryn tumbled over the side!
"TARYN!" I reached out without thinking, and grabbed his arm while still holding Gyro on my shoulder. The railing was beginning to bend, and we could feel it jerk forward as it began to tear itself away from the wall. "Shit! Hold on!" I was shaking Gyro violently while holding onto Taryn's hand. "Wake up! DAMMIT Gyro!!!! WAKE UP!" He was trying to come to, but the drugs in his system kept him sedated. I weighed my options...if I dropped Taryn, he MIGHT be ok. As long as nothing punctured his heart...he would heal. IF nothing punctured his heart! I don't know if that was a chance I wanted to take with the spiked fence down below. But...if I dropped Gyro while he was still asleep, the extra weight would come down hard on this wobbly staircase, and chances are that we'd ALL go over! "WAKE UP!!!"
"You...you don't have to yell, you know?" Gyro said lazily, his eyes still closed. THANK GOD!
"GYRO! Jesus! Move to your left, and hold on to the wall!" I said, but he was going blank on me again. "GYRO!"
"Move to your fucking LEFT, and hold on to the WALL!!!!!" He slumped his way over to the wall and leaned up against it, still standing up straight, and smacked his lips as he tried to stay awake. I immediately used both of my hands to grab Taryn and pull him back up to the fire escape landing. "C'mon!" We grabbed Gyro, and started going down those steps even faster than before.
Just then, we heard a loud explosive crash above us! And Cato flew out of the window, catching onto the railing of the staircase and swinging himself over to the wall. He started leaping downwards from level to level like some kind of lizard, and he was catching up to us fast. Dion and Jun came rushing out right behind him, and jumped down a few levels to cut him off! Falling for two or three floors and then grabbing the railing to jump back up! Jun attacked from the left, Dion from the right, and Cato was still able to take them from either side. He used the steps to his advantage and was swnging from one side of the staircase to another. Seeing us getting away, Cato kicked Jun hard in the stomach, knocking him to his knees. Ten he swung his legs over the side to drop down another level. Thankfully, Dion lunged over the side and grabbed him by the collar of his jacket and yanked him back up. Cato spun around a few times, removing the jacket from his arms and kicked Dion back against the stairs. By then, however, Jun had recovered, and took him up where Dion left off! Their fight continued up there with even more rage than before, and the already unstable staircase was violently shaking from side to side with the turbulent activity. Their punches and kicks were loud enough to be heard all over the neighborhood, I'm sure, and metallic debris started to come crumbling down in chunks on us. Followed by pieces of brick as the screws were being pulled from the wall. Taryn and I didn't stop moving though, we just kept going. Even with the entire structure vibrating and trembling beneath our feet. The fifth floor...the fourth floor...the third!
But the turbulence above proved to be too much for the structure of the fire escape, and we heard the unimaginably loud screeching and cranking of twisted metal as the upper levels of the fire escape pulled themselves from the walls and began to collapse right down on top of us! Taryn and I had no time to get to the ground, and we knew we'd have to jump! I didn't know if we'd hit the fence or not, I didn't know if I'd break both my legs once I hit the ground...all I knew was that being crushed under a ton of steel didn't sound like a holiday to me! So Taryn and I grabbed a good hold of Gyro, and with a scream, we jumped over the side just as the metal came crashing down on us! The noise was louder than anything you can imagine, and the dust settling around us was suffocating me as I gasped for air. We'd missed the fence by a decent margin, and landed on the ground without too much more than a few really bad bruises and cuts. Dion and Jun were laying not far from us, nursing some painful injuries of their own, and Cato was nowhere in sight. Taryn had the wind knocked out of him pretty bad, and was trying to catch his breath again. And Gyro...all he could say was...
"Fuuuuck! What are you guys DOING to me? Why'd you throw me off the balcony?" He moaned and held his stomach for a few seconds as I got up to my feet. How could he be THAT out of it to not know what he had just put us all through? Surprisingly, I wasn't all that hurt. Not as hurt as I 'expected' to be after such a long drop.
"Are you guys ok?" I shouted out to Dion and Jun.
"JUSTIN! Look out!" Dion shouted, and I turned to see Cato standing up behind me! I didn't have time to think...but then again, I didn't 'need' to.
His arm reached out to hit me, but I caught his wrist flawlessly and pushed it away, leaving his ribs wide open for a hard shot. My knuckles cracked from the impact, and he cried out in pain as it hit its mark. He swung at me a few times and hit nothing. I moved much too fast for him, even injured. Then, he made a big mistake. He reached his leg up to kick at me, and my foot swung up from the ground to meet it. I kicked his leg off to the side...and it landed on top of the spiked fence. Before I knew what I was doing, I brought my leg down on top of his knee...and the spike skewed straight through his calf, emerging on the other side! At the same time, his knee was broken, the leg almost bending the wrong way. The bloodcurdling shriek that left his mouth echoed throughout the entire alley and THEN some once he had realized what had happened. I backed away from him...amazed by what I had just done. I could see the rusted metal spiking out through the top of his shin, and him trying to pull it free while using his other leg to balance. I looked at my hands, and fell silent all over again. I wasn't thinking, I was....I was 'reacting'. He was trying to hurt me, I HAD to...at least...I THINK I had to...
"Justin?" Taryn rolled over and worked his way up to his feet. "Baby, are you ok?"
"Yeah....I'm ok." I said, and he limped his way over to me to give me a tight hug. I held him against me, and kissed him on the cheek. I suppose I should have felt comforted that we had made it out alive. But...there was something wrong. Very wrong.
My extra was getting more violent. More...brutal with every encounter. There was a time when I could ease it up a lot more. When fighting with Dion that first time, it was just sparring. With Chad on top of the train, it could be restricted to just 'capturing' him without hurting him. Even in the fighting rings, it would warn me before breaking an arm or inducing some savage tactic to hurt someone. But NOW? Now it was acting all on its own, creating the most 'effecient' means of stopping my opponent dead in his tracks without any concern for who it was or why. The level of damage that I could do was growing more intense, and I was almost certain that I was rapidly becoming more of a threat. To everybody.
Another loud shriek pierced the sky, and Cato pulled his leg free from the spike with a sickening slush. Then, he disappeared into the shadows of the alley, hopping until he found away to escape to the surrounding darkness. Jun and Dion got up to join Taryn and I in our hug. I don't know whether or not Taryn saw what I did while he was winded...but when he and Jun walked over to pick Gyro up off of the ground...Dion put his hand on my shoulder, and nodded approvingly. He saw. He knew. And with a playful pinch of my cheeks, he silently told me that I had done well.
Dion felt Gyro's head. "He's getting worse. We've got to get him home and see if Bryson can do something to help him."
"Do something like WHAT?" Jun replied.
"I don't know...SOMETHING!" They were wiping the sweat from Gyro's forehead, his fever increasing to drastic levels. "If we don't get him some help, his body will overheat. He'll stroke."
It was with some hesitation that I said it. It was a location that wasn't really to be shared with anyone. But this was an emergency, and I quietly told them, "I know a place where we can take him." They looked over at me, and didn't quite comprehend what I was saying. "Really. I know a place. They'll take good care of him. Just....follow me." And we all got ourselves together to travel north. Back to the sanctuary where I knew he'd be safe.