by Kai Wailbone

Author's note: finally, the end of chapter eight. This should take us to the end of chapter seven, and thus move the story on.

Oh, and incidentally - many on my mailing list have not written back. Please let me know if you'd like to be on it, or if you'd like to be taken off. Thanks.

For Joelle -- the "Grace" to my "Will." Love ya' sweetie. ;-)

Oh, and one more thing --

Christopher, Christopher... you know who you are. A friend of yours wrote to me. You know which one. If you're reading this, drop me a line, I'd love to chat.


This is fiction. Though there are characters based on real people, this work in no way reflects the real life sexualities, opinions, or thoughts of the real-life counterparts of said characters.

The title is taken from the Underworld album "Second Toughest in the Infants." The chapter headings are from lyrics on the same album. The chapter subtitle is from the Nine Inch Nails song "The way out is through."

WARNING - This section of the chapter DOES include the after-effects of a rape scene. I apologize for all those more sensitive readers who were shocked at the ending of Chapter Seven, but for obvious plot-spoiling reasons I could not warn more efficiently before now.

Chapter Eight-C -- Resonator (Part 2.3)

"The way out is through"

"All I've undergone

I will keep on..."

- Nine Inch Nails, "The way out is through"

Trevor blinked as the lights were turned off, the impressions of the room burned into his sight for a few seconds before fading into the darker lines supplied by the dim light that escaped around the curtains.

A dark shadow passed over the lighted cracks at the edge of his vision, as well as a shuffling sound as Erik made his way across the room and back to his bed. He waited until the sounds gradually subsided and he was sure Erik was settled.

"Did you turn it off?"

"Yeah." Erik's voice sounded a bit hoarse when he whispered. "Yours?"

Paranoid, Trevor glanced at the night stand to the small black box of his microphone. The lights were off, but he had taken the extra precaution of taking the batteries out, and they sat gleaming beside the larger shadow of the mic.

"Yeah, it's off." Trevor cursed his demand for whispering, knowing in his heart that no one was listening outside the door, but didn't want to take the chance.

"So tell me," Erik said after another moment, his whisper gaining slightly in volume. "What's the real reason?"

"Real reason for what?"

"Why do you really think it's all your fault?"

Trevor smiled into the darkness. Erik was jumping right in... He'd offered Erik the chance to ask his questions after the mics were turned off, expecting much more pointed questions.

Then Erik continued.

"Seriously, man, are you gay or something?"

"Wh- what?" Trevor sputtered.

"Yeah... seriously. You seem all obsessed with everyone getting along and accepting Jacob. Is it because you're gay and are afraid we won't accept you?"

If he'd been any less surprised or offended, Trevor might have noticed that Erik's voice was genuinely curious, and had lost the mocking, harsh tone that had usually accompanied talking about such things.

"No!" he hissed. His heart rate had sped up in the past several seconds, and he was finding it difficult to remain calm. "Fuck no, man, what made you ask that?"

"You just seem really into this."

"Well, I'm not, okay?"

"Okay, okay, fine... you're not."

Trevor forced himself to take a deep breath. More than a little bitter, he whispered, "And even if I was, I sure wouldn't tell you. We all know how you feel about gay people."


"I mean, you obviously can't handle it."

There was a moment of silence, and Trevor wondered if he might have pushed too far, if Erik would just turn around and stop talking for the night. At this point, Trevor wasn't sure if he wouldn't prefer that.

After several minutes of silence, Erik spoke.

"I guess not."

This time, Trevor noticed the tone of Erik's voice. It was soft, contemplative, and even a bit regretful.

"What do you mean by that?"

In the dim light, Trevor could see Erik shrug his shoulders. "I really don't know. I mean... a part of me wants to be okay with it, you know? A part of me thinks I'm just being stupid and acting like a little kid. But... I'm sorry, man, I just can't do it."

Trevor tried to think quickly, unsure of how to handle this abrupt - although, he guessed, temporary - change in Erik. Speaking softly, he said, "Well, maybe you have your own issues to work out about this."

If he hoped Erik would receive his words with consideration, or that the curious, opened-mindedness would last any longer, he was disappointed. Erik laughed harshly.

"What?" he asked, not bothering to whisper. "You think I might be gay?"

More from anger than any real thought, Trevor shot back, "Well, at least I try with Kelly."

"What?" Erik sneered. "On your ridiculous 'Trevor-train'? Face it, man, no one wants to ride that."

"Oh, fuck you, man." Trevor turned onto his back. "At least I try. You're always off by your lonesome, having sex with every little piece of tang as if you've got something to prove."

"Yeah, well, I like to keep my options opened."

"That's what Jacob used to say."

Instead of rising to the bait, Erik paused. "True, he did... hey, if he's gay, what's the deal with that girl Janie?"

Trevor bit his lip for a moment, thinking. It was true, Jacob had often talked about Janie as his girlfriend, though now that he thought about it, Jacob had always been careful to be very vague...

"I dunno, man," Trevor finally replied. "I guess we'll just wait for Jacob to say something about it."

Erik grunted, but didn't say anything. After several minutes, Trevor wondered if he should go on with what he wanted to talk to Erik about, but as he opened his mouth he yawned. By the time he was done, he had forgotten what he wanted to say.

As he tried to remember, he fell asleep.




"I still don't get it."

"He's fucked up, Germ."

"Because he isn't getting the object of his affection? Many people have gone through the same and moved on, living happy, healthy lives."

"You didn't see him in the bathroom. He was... he was heartbroken, Jeremy. He honestly thought he had something with Ashley, something that is now falling apart."

"That's the way of things when you fall for a straight boy."


"Sorry. Just... this is getting out of hand."

"Yes, but not the way you're thinking."

"What do you think?"

"I think he needs someone to talk to."

"Why me?"

"Who did he come out to?"



"Okay, fine, I'll talk to him."

"Before the party. You know how you get."


"When your sisters are around, you forget about everything else."

"C'mon, man, they're my sisters."

"No excuse. You need to talk to him."

"Well, you know, they will be at the party, anyway..."


"Fine, fine... I'll talk to him."


"Why do I hate that word these days?"

"About Ashley..."

"What about him? He's just confused."

"You didn't always think that. In fact, I remember when you were afraid he might even be dangerous."

"And he may yet be, but only to silly little closeted gay boys who think they have a chance with him."

"Implying what?"


"You want my opinion?"

"Do I have a choice?"

"I think he's young and horny."

"What a surprise."

"Something that could confuse Jacob."

"Already has."


"No. I'm not getting involved. Ashley's no problem. In fact, I'd even go so far as to say he's mostly harmless."

"Except towards Jacob."

"Okay... yeah, fine, and I'll talk to Jacob. But other than that, Ashley shouldn't even be a concern. He's a harmless little straight boy who found a new way to get his rocks off. Okay? No problem at all."




Dan stumbled away from the bed, desperately untangling his legs from the bed sheets and scattered clothes on the floor. His throat worked convulsively, but in spite of - and maybe in part because of - his frantic flight, his vision was getting blurry and splotchy around the edges.

The darkened square of the doorway loomed in his vision, and he threw himself towards it. Automatically, he reached up to the light switch, kicked the door closed behind him, and fell to his knees in front of the toilet. Throwing the lid up, he tilted his face towards it just in time to throw up the contents of his stomach.

Coughing and struggling not to choke, Dan gripped the sides of the bowl, his eyes closed in pain. The taste was still on the back of his tongue, that cloyingly bitter, thick taste...

Just the thought of it made him gag again, but there was little left in his stomach to vomit. Bile rose to his mouth, which he spit out quickly, but it could not remove the memory of that taste...

Leaning his head against the side of the toilet, he moaned softly to himself, a sound that echoed dully and a bit eerily in the ceramic bowl. What the fuck had just happened? He remembered Ashley...

Oh, god... Ashley...

Ashley was still out there. A stab of fear mixed with disgust and shame flew through his heart before he could quickly wipe that thought out of existence. First things first... he would deal with Ashley later.

Spitting the last of the bile from his mouth, he paused over the bowl, careful not to look at what floated in the water below. Reaching up blindly, he flushed, but waited to see if he would gag any more. After several seconds, he spit a couple more times, then braced himself to stand.

It was surprisingly difficult, as if he had been drained of more than just his half-digested dinner. His legs shook and threatened to buckle beneath him, but he gripped the edge of the sink and pulled himself up. Another groan escaped his lips as his stomach turned, but it didn't heave violently enough for him to worry. Turning carefully, he looked at himself in the mirror.

He was shocked to see how pale he was. His hair was tousled and sweat-drenched, his eyes a blood-rimmed red. Working his tongue a bit, he felt his jaw ache a bit, but didn't want to think about that. Raising his hand, he wiped a bit of spittle from his chin, and turned on the faucet.

His hand, filled with water, was half way to his face before he thought to wash his hands. Reaching for the tiny, paper-wrapped hotel soap, he tore the package opened and started to lather his hands even before most of the paper was off. Growling slightly, he dug his nails into the soap itself to get the now-wet paper off, snapping the thin bar in half. Not caring, he tossed the half that was the most paper-covered onto the floor, and started to wash his hands vigorously.

When he was finally satisfied his hands were clean, he finally raised his hands full of soapy water to splash on his face. The water burned his eyes, and the sudden pain made him sputter, but he didn't stop. Rubbing his face as hard as he could, he continued to bring the water up from the sink, splashing liberally on either side and onto the floor. Only after he had run enough water over his face and hair to be dripping wet did he stop, but he couldn't seem to lift his head. Instead, he stared at the water circling down the drain.

How simple...

Suddenly he felt irrationally jealous of the water, able to escape so easily down the drain, so innocent, so oblivious to what was going on...

Angrily, Dan slammed his hand to the bottom of the sink. Water sloshed up over the sides and onto his bare stomach. For the first time he realized that the water was cold, and he shivered in spite of himself. Turning off the faucet, he turned and grabbed one of the towels and started to dry off.

It was from the corner of his eye that he first noticed the marks. Leaning back towards the mirror, he turned his head. On the side of his neck were several dark, angry red marks, no doubt from where Ashley...


A stab of bone-numbing fear encompassed him like a splash of more cold water. Ashley was still out there. Waiting. And he'd... he'd...

Dan couldn't even meet his own eyes in the mirror. What was he, now? What had happened? A sudden thought occurred to him -

(What did Ashley see in me to make him think he could do this?)

but he tried to push it away.

I can't go back out there. I can't. I'll die if I do...

The hopelessness of the situation washed over him in waves. He couldn't stay here all night... he couldn't remember what time it was when they... started... but he knew it was still early. The thought of spending the whole night in the bathroom...

But I can't go back out there. Please, God, don't make me...

Slamming his hand on the sink, he ground his teeth, his anger surfacing violently, only to give way to an even more violent surge of shame and hurt. He felt betrayed, violated... words he'd only ever really heard before. He never really knew what those words meant until now, and now...

A sob rose in his throat. He tried to swallow it down, but it came back even stronger, and he couldn't stop as he started crying uncontrollably. Lifting the towel to his face, he hugged it to him as if it were a consoling friend, and sobbed into it as if his heart would break.

His treacherous legs took this moment to give in to weakness, and his knees buckled, dropping him to his knees. Leaning against the counter, Dan cried helplessly into the towel, too afraid to go outside and face the creature that he had thought was his trusted friend.

The fear and crying caused his stomach to heave. Dan crawled to the toilet and found he had more in his stomach to give up, after all.

Yes, I know that was a bit rough, and I apologize to those with tender sensibilities that were... disturbed. On the other paw, this story isn't meant to be a sweet four-chapter romance. Not that there's anything wrong with those... Anywy, chapter nine should be out at the end of the month... of course, I didn't say which month... heh-heh... -- Kai Wailbone

Check in for the next chapter -

Second Toughest in the Infants

Chapter Nine - To Dream of Love