There were a few times throughout the night where Alec woke himself out of his deep sleep. His violent cough, rattling around in his chest before calming down and kicking me a few more times afforded him some peace. Those little feet, knees, and elbows, hurt like hell...but I didn't want to wake him up with any complaints of his unconscious attacks. I simply suffered through the pain in silence while he settled back down into the warm, swaddling, sheets surrounding him. I can't tell you how good it felt to finally feel his once ice cold limbs relax in my brotherly embrace. I was reaching a point where I was afraid that his lips would turn blue and my lame attempts to provide him some level of comfort and protection would be wasted.
The truth is...I couldn't go to sleep until I knew, for sure, that my baby brother was ok first. I just couldn't. I would begin to nod off on my own, but Alec's illness would cause him such misery that he'd wake up again, shuffle around for a moment, and drift back off. As though his physical positioning would somehow heal the sickness inside of him. And I'd force my eyes open, holding him close until I heard his soft breathing return to normal.
Every time he moved, I moved. Wishing that I could somehow shield him from the plague his little body was fighting off with every biological weapon at its disposal. His immune system wasn't experienced enough to have much practice in these matters. Even as a baby, whenever Alec got sick...he got really sick. 'Trip to the hospital' sick. And that was ok when we were at home...but out here on the streets, totally dependent on the kindness of strangers? Alec's failing health was a bit of an emergency. There were only two options for me now...cure him, or let him get worse. The answer should have been easy...but it wasn't. Not for me.
Alec must have been pretty quiet for a decent length of time, because I was finally able to sleep deeply enough to have the rest do me some good. My mind wandered away from my worries, my eyes ceased to burn, and I was actually able to release my tight hold on Alec to find a comfortable position of my own.
But then...I felt a stirring down beneath the sheets.
I was so groggy that it was hard for me to return to consciousness. My body felt tingly...my legs weak. And yet, it was a sensation unlike anything that I have ever known. A pleasurable vibration that cause my insides to squirm and my head to spin. A warm, wet, sensation...trapping my hard shaft in its tender suction. As though I was being masturbated with a handful of silk. But...I wasn't touching myself. This wasn't me.
Trying to clear the hazy cobwebs out of my mind, I opened my eyes to look down and see movement underneath the blankets. I almost couldn't make sense out of what was happening, but it felt so good that I almost didn't want to know what was happening until it was over. Instinct cause the muscles in my hips to flex and tighten, my cheeks slightly lifting up off of the mattress to further bury myself in the sultry heat nursing at my hardness. A hushed whimper escaped my lips, and I tried to come out of my fog to figure out how this was at all possible. I ran my fingers through my hair, clearing my vision, and clearly saw the shape of a head bobbing up and down with the same rhythm as the blissful shock of being serviced in the dark.
I felt completely under this person's control, and I liked it. ″Wha...? Trevor? Trevor, are you...?″ I whispered, but got no answer. ″Mmmm...God, what are you doing? Wow...″ I said. But as I became more aware of my surroundings, I immediately noticed that Alec was no longer by my side. What had happened to him? Where did he go? ″Trevor? Where's my brother? Trevor, wait...I can't find Alec. Where did you put him?″ The sucking got even more intense, nearly bringing me over the edge...but my concern took priority. ″Trevor...Trevor, stop!″ I got up on my elbows and tried to scoot backwards, but the lustful mouth crawled further forward to follow me. ″Stop! What are you doing???″ I said louder, and reached down to throw the blankets to the side.
What I saw caused me to cringe, as my step-father, Chuck's, face became visible! ″Tasty! I KNEW you'd be into it, China Doll!″ He said, and slammed his mouth back down on me to take me all the way to the base!
I immediately started kicking and wriggling and let out an angrily disgusted SCREAM that echoed off of the bedroom walls!!!
And then...I woke up with a frightened gasp of horror.
I had been so thoroughly disturbed by the nightmare that I was literally shaking with rage. I felt Alec move in the bed next to me and jumped involuntarily, afraid to be touched by much of anyone. Even him.
I held my hand to my chest...the painful thump of my heartbeat causing me to shake while I attempt to catch my breath. The lingering images in my mind of Chuck touching me...doing...that...to me...it nearly caused me to throw up. I covered my private area with my free hand as I sat up and tried to shake the awful visions from my brain. Alec grunted and jerked around a bit, but thankfully didn't wake up all the way this time. As violated as I felt at that particular moment, I don't think I wanted to make enough contact to console him. I didn't want to touch or be touched by anybody. Not now. Maybe not ever again.
I carefully slid out from behind Alec and off the foot of the bed, turning back to make sure the covers were pulled back up to his shoulders. Then I snuck out of the bedroom to get some air.
The house was dead silent. All the lights were off, but while it was still pretty dark at this time of morning, I peered out between the blinds and saw the sky slowly brightening up with the approaching dawn. I wanted to look out towards the lake. From this apartment, it was clearly visible in the distance. I just had a little bit of trouble trying to get the blinds raised. I kept trying to figure things out, but upon closer inspection I noticed that the strings used for operating the blinds had knots tied in them. A BUNCH of knots. Clearly it was done on purpose to prevent them from ever being raised at all, but I could still use my fingers to pry my way between the slats and peek outside. Not only was the sky getting brighter, but small touches of color could be seen coming to life.
I couldn't explain it, but even now after everything that's happened to us, the rising sun still soothed my weary thoughts and my battered soul. Maybe it was just some weird mental response, or a false reaction created by routine and random belief...but it was true. The brighter the sky got, the better I felt. The horrific images of my nightmare began to fade away, and I was able to take a deep breath and feel rejuvenated. Whole. I stared out of that apartment window for at least ten more minutes, not saying a word. Not taking a seat. Never once taking my eyes off of that bright horizon. Because, just as my father once told 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."
I wanted him to come back to me. I wish he was here right now. He'd know what to do. About Alec, about Mom, about Chuck...he'd make things right again. He'd give me hope. God, how I missed having hope.
As the Sun began to peek out from the far end of the lake, an overwhelming surge of emotion swelled up within me, and I felt a single tear crawl from my eye as I realized that I had no plan for how I was going to get through the next few hours, much less the next few days. I didn't know where the next meal was coming from, how to come up with any more money, or even where we were going to stay tonight. I thought I had things under control, but...it crumbled and fell apart so fast. So what now?
Seriously. What now?
At that moment, I heard Alec's tiny little cough from the other room. It sounded even worse than before, and he was hacking and wheezing until he was almost gagging from it. I closed my eyes as I heard him gasping for air, and two more tears rolled down my cheeks.
″Taryn?″ His tiny voice called out between coughs, and for a moment...I was almost too scared to face him. Too scared to walk back in that bedroom and have him see no answers whatsoever when he looked me in the eye. But when I heard whimper, ″Taryn, where are you...?″ He just sounded so helpless. I had to straighten up. I had to at least appear to be strong, even when I was just as lost as he was.
″I'm coming, Alec.″ I said, wiping my tears away and clearing my throat. I took one last look at the dawn before allowing the blinds to snap shut again, and I went to tend to my brother. He was sitting up in the bed, still clinging to the blankets by pulling them around his shoulders. ″Heyyy...how are we doing big guy?″
″I feel yucky still.″ He said. I sat next to him on the bed and pressed my hand to his forehead. He was a little warm, I think. I can't say that I really have a mother's instinct when it comes to feeling around for a fever.
″We're almost done, ok? With the whole vacation. Then we can go home.″
″I wanna see Mom.″
″I know you do, Alec, but I need you to be my soldier today. Alright?″ Immediately, Alec began to sniffle and whine as he realized that he still wasn't getting his way. ″Don't. Don't do that. Alec, we can...we can go home really soon, I promise.″ But I saw Alec's eyes close, and his face wrinkled up as his mouth opened up for him to cry. I tried to shush him, but he wasn't having it. He didn't even have the energy to throw a tantrum this time. He just broke down in front of me and cried in defeat. ″Alec...please, honey, just...I need you to stop that.″ It broke my heart to see him surrendering the way he did. It made me realize that perhaps it took just as much effort from him for me to stay strong as it did any effort of my own. ″Don't cry. I need you to stop crying, ok? Babies cry. You're not a baby, are you?″
But Alec looked at me and said, ″You're crying.″
He was right. And I hadn't even realized it. Shit.
I quickly wiped my tears away and pulled Alec in for a hug. He wrapped his arms around my neck and held on as he sat in my lap, his tears turning into quiet sniffles, and then he began to cough again. I could feel his whole body shake and tighten up from the agony of it. ″Shhh...it's ok. I'm gonna see if I can find some medicine to make you feel better, ok? Can you stay here and be brave for me while I look around?″
″I'll be good...″ He whined. And I let him go, giving him a kiss on the forehead before getting to see what I could find in the bathroom. If I can just keep his body healthy and his brain occupied for another day or two, we just might make it through this ordeal alive.
I went straight to the mirror and opened up the medicine cabinet. But...it was empty. I mean, I saw two toothbrushes and some toothpaste, but that was it. Nothing else. No medicine, no aspirin, no antacid, not even a single Band-aid. I checked a few of the drawers and cabinets beneath the sink, but they were even more empty than the medicine cabinet above. It just sort of struck me as being a bit odd. But, maybe they're like my mom and keep stuff in the kitchen instead. So I closed everything up and tried searching for something over there. I looked on top of the refrigerator but there was nothing there. Okaaaaay...
Maybe they hid it in one of their cabinets, then?
I started on the right end of the kitchen, opening up cabinet after cabinet...and I found...'nothing'. And I don't just mean any kind of medicine...there was no food. No plates, no bowls, no silverware, no pots, no pans, no oven mitts...every last drawer and cabinet was as empty as it must have been the day Sean and Milo moved in here. The only thing they did have was a small shelf full of glasses to drink liquor out of from the bar in the living room.
Curiously...I took a few steps towards the fridge...and I opened both the fridge and the freezer doors at the same time. I saw a few bottles of juice and soda, again...probably just for mixing drinks, and few trays full of ice. Nothing else. Not a single bite of food in the entire kitchen. What the heck is going on here? Who lives like this? It's not like Sean and Milo can't afford to eat, right? They've got alcohol and music and video games...they pay bills for the apartment, obviously...so where's all the food?
My mind was trying to come up with some sort of wild excuse as to how or why the kitchen and bathroom would be so vacant, but as I heard Alec's sick little puppy dog whimpers flaring up again from the other room, I tried to get my mind back on the task at hand.
When Alec saw me walk by the room, he called out for me. I told him, ″I'm right here. Just...ummm...hold on a minute. I'm going to ask Sean where they keep the 'feel good' stuff, ok? Sit tight for me.″
″M'kay...″ He said meekly.
I knew that it was super early and that Sean and Milo were most definitely still asleep at this time of morning, but hopefully they're just keeping everything in the other bedroom where they were sleeping. Geez, I hope they're decent. I'm still not quite sure if they're, like...a couple, or friends with benefits, or just...'co-workers', but whatever they are to one another, I didn't want to judge and I certainly didn't want to intrude.
I stood outside of their closed door and listened to hear if anybody was moving around in there. Or snoring. Or something. But it was dead silent. So I lightly knocked three times on the door.
I got no answer.
Ugh...I felt so bad about this, but I think they'd understand how urgent it was that I find something to keep Alec from choking on his own coughs the way he was. So I knocked again. This time a little bit harder. ″Sean? Milo? It's...it's Taryn. I hate to bother you, but...I looked all around the house and I can't seem to find any medicine. Do you guys think you might have some cough drops or some cold meds hidden away somewhere?″
I reached for the doorknob, and slowly turned it, opening the door just a crack so I could peek my head inside. ″Guys? Is it ok if I come in?″ I didn't hear anything. Not even the sound of heavy breathing. ″Guys?″
I looked at the bed, and Sean and Milo were both laying there under the covers. Sean all snuggled up behind his bed mate, spooning him from behind. Hey must have been super hard sleepers to not hear my voice, or the knocking, or even Alec's constant 'barking' from the other room.
″Hello?″ I said, raising my voice enough for them to hear me, but not enough to scare them out of a deep sleep. But still...no response. They didn't even fidget...or stretch...or roll over. So I opened the door all the way, and I carefully stepped inside. There were little piles of discarded clothes on the floor, some stuff on the dresser in front of their bedroom mirror to fix their hair and some spray cologne. Other than that, and a shared closet of clothes with the door wide open, their room seemed to be just as empty as the rest of the house.
I thought...maybe if I got close enough to touch one of their shoulders or something and gently shake them awake, they'd be able to help me. Maybe they were just drinking last night after Alec and I went to bed, and they're just passed out. Right? Maybe they're still intoxicated. It is pretty early after all.
″Milo?″ I said, stepping closer to the bed. ″Sean?″ The closer I got to them, the more uneasy I felt. My brain wouldn't accept it, but the evidence was becoming undeniable. I saw how stiff they were. Their skin was so pale that it didn't look like their bodies contained any life at all. They didn't stir at all. Didn't react to my presence or my voice. A fearful chill crawled up my spine as I reached the side of the bed. Their eyes closed, mouths parted slightly, just laying there in each other's arms. ″Are...are you guys ok?″ I asked, my mind still trying to tell me it wasn't true. I took my shaky hand and gently shook Milo to see if I could get him to wake up.
That's when I lightly put the back of my hand against his cheek. He was ice cold. Nobody could be that cold and still be alive! Nobody!
My body was suddenly wracked with tremors, and I backed away from the bed, both hands covering my mouth. They were DEAD! Sean and Milo were both DEAD!!!
What happened??? What did I do??? Was it because of the rain last night? Was it hypothermia? Did they just...oh no! Oh God! OH GOD!!!
I've got to get out of here! I've got to get out of here NOW!!!