Hello there people. I'm very sorry this has taken so long to get out, but this chapter is a bit long, even for me. Plus my editor had some personal problems and so took longer than usual to get it back to me. But thankfully life has gone on, and I have finally been able to post chapter five.
    Ok, here's the warning part. This story contains ideas and concepts that offend close-minded bigots who want the world to be 'normal'. Unfortunately those same close-minded bigots are currently running the show. They have established laws in some areas that restrict people from reading, viewing, living, or even thinking about some of the ideas expressed in this story, such as love between two people of the same gender. If you live in one of these areas, you're not supposed to read this. However, if you cared about that at all, you likely wouldn't be here in the first place. Please, enjoy the story and if you like it enough, tell me so. ZippyTheBookWorm@excite.com
    I feel I must thank all of you who have written me such wonderfully supportive e-mails, I appreciate them all, and am grateful to all of you for sending them. Especially a certain David, who has been demanding that I hurry up and post chapter five so he can read it. Well David, here you go, sorry it took so long. As always, my thanks to Divine and to Bruce, and to both Matt's (Yes, I know at least two people named Matt, neither of which live anywhere near me), I love you all so much. And of course to Chantel, I couldn't have done it without you babe, your awesome!!
    I'm sorry David, I meant to speed up production and ended up taking even longer than last time. But according to my editor this is the best chpater yet, I hope you agree.

Brief synopsis of Chapters 1-4
  If you don't remember what's happened too well, since it has been rather long since the last chapter, and incredibly long since chapter one, here's a brief recap: Chris and Adam meet on the first day of school, and each, unbeknownst to the other, falls immediately in love. Part way through the second day of school Adam and Chris are walking through the halls when they hear a bully picking on a freshman, accusing him of being gay. The freshman turns out to be Chris's young cousin, Jamie. They, or more specifically, Chris deals with the bully and then takes Jamie to his house, skipping the rest of the classes for that day. Adam joins them after school, and after playing around for a bit, they all decide to go to them mall. While at the mall they meet up with the bully again, who's name is Gregg. Surprisingly Gregg apologizes for his behavior and promises not to bother Jamie, or Chris and Adam, any more. No one believes him. When they're done at the mall, Chris takes Jamie home, then Chris and Adam go back to Chris's house to study for a few hours. After Adam leaves, Chris goes to sleep and has a nightmare. In the very end of chapter four, a mysterious young man throws himself in front of an unidentified car.


Chapter Five - Stranger Than Fiction

Adam's POV

It had been a very long night for me. Never before had I had any experience with police, or such an involved experience with doctors. The police had asked me all sorts of questions: Where was I going? -home- , How fast was I driving? -between 15mph and 20mph- , Did I have my lights on? -of course- , Had I noticed the young man before he jumped in front of my car? -no, I was too busy paying attention to the road, I don't usually expect people to leap in front of my car-

Once the cops finished, the doctors took over; Do you have any medical conditions we should be aware of? -not that I can think of, no- Do you have any allergies to medication or food? -Just homework and chores- (They didn't appreciate the joke at all.) Does it hurt when I do this? -no- How about this? -no- This? -Yes, get your hands off me you evil sadist!!- In any event, I could easily have told them that other than a mild case of whiplash and a severe case of shock, (well, and that spot on my shoulder from where my seat belt had bruised it...) I was in pretty good shape. They insisted on holding me in the hospital overnight to 'observe' me anyway. Which really wasn't all that bad, I was in no condition to drive home; especially since they had towed my car and temporarily impounded it to make sure I wasn't some psycho glue sniffer just out to 'get' some hapless pedestrian.

"Gee," I said when the officer told me about my car being temporarily impounded, "I'm glad I got rid of all the beer cans and the bong the other day." I don't think he appreciated the joke.

I was a bit surprised when my mother showed up at about midnight looking haggard and quite terrible. Apparently whoever it was that called to inform her that I was in the hospital had neglected to mention that I was un-hurt, and subsequently mom had rushed to the hospital barely taking the time to get dressed. She was thoroughly unamused by the situation at first, which I totally understood, but when I told her how funny she looked with half her hair still in curlers and her pajama bottoms sticking out the leg of her pants, she had a pretty good laugh.

"Well," she said once she recovered her composure, "I think I'll just stay here for a while. There's no way I could get back to sleep now, I'm too keyed up even if you are ok." Smiling at me, and running her hand through my hair, she looked into my eyes and what I saw there was the pure love of a mother. A love I was pretty sure I couldn't yet understand, although it made me very happy and very warm to know it existed and was given so fully to me.

"Well," she said with an ironic smile as she pulled one of the padded chairs closer to my hospital bed, "how was your day today?"

"Oh, you mean other than nearly dying of fright when some stranger threw himself in front of my car not three blocks from my home?"

"Ya," she said, "other than that. I do want to hear about that too, but I'd rather hear about the rest of your day first."

Hrmmm.... I wonder if now's the time to tell her? What the heck, why not?

"Well... I'm sorta... I'm kind of..." Despite my decision to tell her, it was still a little awkward.

"Oh spit it out Adam, nothing you say can shock me at this point."

"Oh is that so?" I said raising one eyebrow in challenge. She just grinned smugly in response, leaned back in her chair, and raised both her eyebrows expectantly. "Alright then," I said emboldened by her challenge, "I'm in love."

"What!?" she said as she leaned forward grabbing the arms of the chair, her jaw dropping in astonishment. "Who? When? How?"

I smiled.

"Don't you dare play hard nuts with me mister, spill it!"

I smiled wider.

"Ok," she said, feigning disappointment, "have it your way." And with that she attacked my ribs mercilessly, tickling me in the way only a mother can tickle her son. Finding all the sensitive spots and hitting them just lightly enough to send a spark running through my entire body. I held out as long as I could, but in less than three seconds I was laughing so hard I couldn't breathe.

She paused for a moment. "Ready to talk mister?" I shook my head no and she resumed tickling me. Once again I lasted less than three seconds.

"Ok, ok." I gasped after my attempts to grab her wrists had failed to stop her form tickling me. "I give, o- ahhhh -k."

With a happy, 'I told you you'd crack' smile on her face she sat back down and looked at me expectantly.

"Well," I began, "It's this guy."

"I figured that much, you told me you were gay two years ago - I get it already!! Now, tell me the parts I don't know."

"Okay, okay." I laughed. My mom can be the most impatient person sometimes. "His name is Chris, he's about 6' 3", he's got long black hair and he's absolutely gorgeous."

"Boy," mom said, "when you go for the cliche's you really go all out don't you? Tall, dark, and handsome?"

"Nope, he's not handsome. He's gorgeous. There's a difference." I'm sure if I had been able to see them I would have seen a twinkle in my own eyes as I said that. The spark of laughter in my mother's eyes was quite visible.

"Well then, tall dark and gorgeous. Now that I've got a mental picture of how he looks, tell me what he's like. And does he know he's got such a devoted follower?"

I thought for a moment about her questions, wondering which to answer first. "I'm not really sure what he's like, other than what I've seen in the last two days. He seems nice enough, and he's got this look in his eyes that seems to be saying 'hold me', but other than that I'm not sure. And even if he is gay, I don't think he knows about me."

"Is he a.. You know, a..." For the first time that night my mother faltered. This was always the question that led to problems between us.

"I don't know if he's a virgin." I said quietly. "I just know I love him."

She tilted her head and looked at me. "I think perhaps you do. But... what about Ryan? You said you loved him too."

"I.. I think I could have. I even think I was starting to before we had to move, but this is different. What attracted me to Ryan was his differentness. The newness of the experience. I'd never had sex with a black boy before, and he'd never had sex with a white boy. We both entered it knowing it was just sex, but I think he was hoping it would become more... Who's to say? It might have. But with Chris it's different. Sure I'd like to have sex with him, but I'd almost like to hold him and tell him I love him just as much.

"When it comes right down to it mom, I just don't know. I've never felt this way about anybody before. I know that sounds as cliched as 'tall, dark and handsome', but it's true."

"My dear boy," mom said to me, stroking my hair again, "most cliche's are cliche's because they're true. I think maybe you are in love, and I hope for your sake that it works out. I love you my son, I love you oh so much."

"I love you too mom." I said quickly, pulling her into a tight hug as unexpected tears sprang into my eyes and played havoc with my voice.

"Well," she said, wiping happy tears out of her own eyes, "I think I'll go back home now. It's obvious you're not about to die, but you really should be getting some rest. I'll be back tomorrow about noon, after all this running around and excitement I'm not going to be able to pull myself out of bed before 11 at the earliest, why it's almost one'o'clock now."

"Ok, I'll see you tomorrow. Just uh... you might want to fix your curlers, they look like a fine mess."

"Oh you! Just you wait till I have the energy to tickle you again, then you're gonna get it good!!"

I laughed softly. "Love you mom, see you tomorrow."

"Love you too sweetie, sleep well." With that she got up out of her chair and kissed my forehead before heading out the door of my small hospital room. Strange, it hadn't felt quite so small with mom here.

Slowly, and happily, I drifted off to sleep, content to dream and to wonder, and to wish.

Chris' POV

I was awakened by a sharp slap across the face, followed by a hand violently shaking my shoulder.

"Chris!!" Dianne said sternly, "Chris! Wake up!"

I didn't even think, I just grabbed Dianne and began crying on her shoulder, long, hard, wracking sobs that shook my body. My dream had terrified me, driven all coherent thought out of my mind and left me a gibbering mess.

"Chris," Dianne spoke gently this time, her voice cutting through the fog in my head while her hands softly caressed my back the way a mother might caress a distressed child. "What's wrong, what's wrong? What dream is so horrible that it makes you scream in your sleep and cry in fear when you wake from it?"

I continued to cry as she held me, and very gently she began to rock me, humming a lullaby that I had never learned the words to. Just as it had four years ago, when my faceless demon first appeared, her humming was able to calm me down almost immediately. I continued to hold her as my crying subsided, resting my head on her shoulder and letting her comfort me.

"Now," she spoke softly when the lullaby had hummed itself to an ending, "tell me about this terrible nightmare." She didn't ask, she didn't need to. Long ago I had told her about my dreams with the faceless demon. She had been the only one I told other than Lil'Bit, and she rightly guessed that I would want to tell her about my new demon.

When I had finished telling her about my dream, about the strange hallway and the sad prince, and the glass window and then the horrible demon with the cruel eyes, she held on to me more tightly, and was quiet for a long time.

When she finally broke the silence that had accompanied the end of my tale, she spoke hesitantly at first, and then with growing determination. "I.. I know you don't want to hear this Chris, but I think you should see a psychiatrist about this one." I immediately stiffened in her arms. "I know, I know. You don't like mind doctors. Or any doctors for that matter, I know. But..., well one of my good friends, who happens to live here in San Diego, is a dream specialist, and I think she might be able to help you with this. Obviously you don't have to, but please at least think about it."

"Alright Dianne." I conceded quietly, knowing that she was only trying to help. I gave her a final squeeze of a hug, and then let her go as I lay back down, turning over on my back to stare up at the ceiling. I glanced at the clock and groaned, three'o'clock.

"Well, you're not likely to get back to sleep are you?"

"Not with that dream still knocking about in my head." I replied.

"Well, since you can't sleep, and you really oughtn't just lie here in bed for then next few hours, why don't you go down to the gym and practice for a while. 'Losing yourself in the forms' I think is what you call it."

"Yes, that's what I call it. Thank you Dianne, that's a good idea. I kind of want to lie here and think for a few minutes... would you be willing to go turn on the heater in the gym for me?"

She smiled down at me and played with the hair that had fallen into my eyes, brushing it back out of my face. "I sent John to go do that very thing when he first came pounding on my door telling me you were screaming. By now it should be nice and warm."

"Thank you Dianne." I said, truly grateful. "Please thank John for me as well?"

"Certainly." Was her warm reply. "I'll leave you in peace now."

Quietly she got up and padded softly across the floor and out of my room, quietly closing the door behind her. Tiredly I gazed up at the ceiling. What did it mean... What could it mean? I didn't know, and couldn't figure it out.

I got up out of bed, and pulling on a long thin bathrobe, I walked out of my room and down the stairs. I made my way through hallways on the first floor, and eventually came to the door leading to the gym. The gym itself was underground, so the door actually opened onto an elevator. Ya I know, an elevator in a private home; next it'll be escalators and moving hallways, just like the Jetsons.

The elevator came to a stop and the doors opened to reveal the gym. It might be more realistic to call it my gym, since I helped to design it and am the only one who ever uses it. The elevator opens right on to the weight room. It's got free weights, bar weights, all the machines, basically everything a professional gym has, just custom tailored to my preferences. My favorite part of the gym though, the part I spend most my time in, is what Dianne has dubbed the 'meditation room'.

It's on the far side of the gym, past a set of double sliding doors. Off to the far left, and also the far right of the room are two altars. Each is covered by a dark cloth and holds numerous incense burners, all of which were currently unlit. Set into the floor back behind the right alter is a long, narrow hot bath. To reach it you have to go down a small number of stairs. It was slowly beginning to steam since John had turned on the heat. Soon the room would be filled with a haze of warm vapor.

I closed the doors behind me and walked over towards the left alter, headed for the changing area behind it. Like the hot bath, it was set low in the floor so that standing as straight as possible my chest barely came up the top of the alter, which was as tall as my knees when I was in front of it. I hung my robe on one of the hooks there and then stepped back out towards the center of the room.

The meditation circle in the middle of the room was ten feet across and set about four inches low in the floor by two long shallow steps, almost giving it an amphitheater-like appearance. Spaced around the edge of the circle in a pentagram were five pillars made of smooth polished mahogany. The floor in the meditation circle was made of the same wood, the steps were made of a lighter cedar, and the rest of the floor was made of soft redwood. Sticking out from each pillar, facing in towards the center of the meditation circle, was a single sconce made of dark brass, each holding a large candle. Each of the five candles was lit, which meant John must have come down to light them. I made a mental note to thank him as I closed my eyes and began stretching.

Clearing my mind of all thoughts I concentrated only on the motions of the meditation Kata. Beginning simply, as it always did, warming up and loosening the muscles. Becoming more complicated, focusing the mind and body in one. Stretching further, pushing the limits, expanding yesterday's boundaries. Finally becoming rhythmic, smooth, not easy, but not difficult. Form became fluid movement and sweat dripped from my body as the candle light flickered in the now thick steam. Inches beyond the Circle vision became clouded almost to obscurity, but it didn't matter. Had I needed to move around I could have navigated that room blindfolded. The mist in front of me swirled as my hands passed through it and I lost myself once more in the motions of the Kata.

When Dianne knocked some while later it felt to me as if the intervening time could have been minutes or days. My mind was cleared - my troubles weren't forgotten, but they were no longer overwhelming either.

"Chris," she called through the doors, her voice almost completely muffled through the fog of steam in the room, "it's about five forty, you need to start getting ready for school."

"Okay" I called out to her.

"Eat something for breakfast this morning, it's not healthy going hungry in the mornings like you do."

"Yes mother," I laughed back to her.

"I'm serious, I don't want you getting sick." I didn't answer her, I didn't need to. This was another of our long standing arguments. I gave in and ate as often as not, so it wasn't really too big a deal.

I closed my eyes once more, slowed my breathing, and began stretching to warm down. It took me fifteen minutes. When I was done I considered taking a quick dip in the hot-bath, but discarded the idea almost immediately. I needed to get ready for school, if I got into the bath I wouldn't be out for at least forty-five minutes and that would leave me with precious little time.

I went up to the candles, blew each out, and then, in the darkness, made my way slowly behind the left alter and retrieved my robe. Thusly clad, I exited the meditation room and left the doors open so the steam would have somewhere to go. I turned off the heater and the bath using the thermostat on the wall, and then got in the elevator.

After I had made my way from the elevator to my room, I showered. It was nice and hot, and although it wasn't quite forty five minutes, it wasn't much quicker. I got out and dried myself off, and then quickly got dressed. Black pants, tight black tee shirt, and dark forest green button up that I left hanging open. I grabbed my watch and stared at it in surprise before putting it on my wrist. It was 7:10, I had all of twenty minutes to get to school, find a parking space and get to class. I guess those warm down stretches took a bit longer than fifteen minutes. 'Heh, I wonder if there's any traffic cops out on the highway this morning?'

Needless to say, Dianne was going to be mad at me for not eating anything, but who has time to eat breakfast anyway?

The drive to school was terribly uneventful, even speeding down the highway at dangerously excessive speeds. As a result I was able to make it to school, and even find parking spot, with almost three full minutes to spare, whew! I practically flew to class and got in the door just as the bell started ringing. I was surprised to see that Adam wasn't in class yet, (today we had Calculus first) but figured he must have had a late night or something and would be a bit late getting to class.

"Hey Chris." Jamie was waving his arm to get my attention as he walked towards me. I waved back to let him know I had seen him. "Where's Adam?"

"Grand question." I said as he fell in beside me as we walked towards the cafeteria. "He wasn't in Calc or Sign Language. I guess he must be sick or something."

"On the third day of school? Weird."

"Ya, weird. Anyway, how's your day been? I need to talk to anyone about leavin' my cousin alone?"

"Well ok, but you and I both know Amy would just flip if you said anything to any of her friends. I think the very idea that she could be related to a boy would make her go kooky.." He smiled innocently as he spoke about our cousin who lived in Utah and was an absolute air head.

"I was talking about you, ya blond little twirp."

"Ohhhh, meeee. I get it."

"Ya, you. So?"

"Nope. It was weird, Gregg just looked at me this morning as I went into class, but he didn't say anything, and none of his friends bothered me either. Maybe he was telling the truth at the mall, after all."

"Possible. I still don't trust him any further than I can kick him though..."

"Me either." Jamie agreed emphatically. He seemed incredibly upbeat... the second Jamie seemed to have ensconced himself quite happily, and I think I can say with real certainty that I like it. So much nicer to have a happy ball of sunshine than a depressed one.

"So, what do you-

"Lunch." He declared matter-of-factly, anticipating my next question.

"Ok, sounds good to me." I responded as my stomach mumbled it's approval.

"Sounds like someone is hungry."

"Oh yeah, well I kind of had to get ready in a hurry, no time for breakfast."

"Well then, let's get grubbage, I haven't eaten all day either." Huh? Did he say grubbage? Is my cousin turning into a surfer boy? - not that that's a bad thing mind you... just unexpected.

"Okay, let's eat!" I replied laughingly as we reached the cafeteria.

We made our way through the lines, got food, and then found a table outside that was empty and sat down.

"So," I started, when suddenly I was cut off completely by Amanda.

"Hi Chris." She said perkily as she sat down right next to me, practically in my lap even, and then proceeded to put a sucker in her mouth and move it around just as suggestively as is humanly possible to move a tootsie roll pop.

"Uh.. Hi Amanda." I said awkwardly, not at all used to such behavior from anyone. Least of all a girl.

"Ohhhhh, who's the cutie?" She asked, noticing Jamie.

"My cousin, Jamie."

"Hiii Jamie!" Amanda said, pulling the sucker out of her mouth with one hand and leaning over the table to tap him on the nose with her other hand. "You're cute!"

"Thanks." Jamie said shyly, blushing almost as red as he had when Adam called him Goldie Locks.

"Oh Chris he's a gem! Anyway, I'm getting distracted. I came over here to tell you that my birthday is this week, -I'm gonna be 18, yay me- and I'm throwing a rockin' party to celebrate. Wanna come?" Immediately after asking me if I wanted to come to her party she put her lollipop up to her lips and slid it around. I got the distinct impression she was flirting with me, and not at all cleanly either.

"Uh.. sure..." I said uncomfortably after a while.

"Tell Adam he's invited too! He's almost as cute as you are. Oh, you're invited too Jamie. Bye now, see you next period."

Good grief, girls are weird.

"Chris, -heh- you -hehe- you're in -hahahah- MAJOR trouble!!" And then he just plain lost it. I scowled at him as he laughed but it only made him laugh harder. "That girl wants you bad Chris! I don't think she'll be happy 'til she can do to you what she was doing to that sucker."

"Humph, she's not gonna be happy any time soon then. I'm totally not interested. Girls, blech!

"Anyway, what's your next class little cuz?"

"Uhhh, lemme check," Jamie said, digging into his pack. " Drama four."

"Really? I'm in that class... I thought it was for upperclassmen only?"

"Ya, usually. But I met with Ms. Patrick on Monday while we were registering and she gave me special permission. Said I had expressive eyes."

"Cool, looks like we've got a class together!"

Narrative POV

As Chris and Jamie continued to talk over lunch, a cruel smile crept over the face of a mean looking young man. He had proof now, and the one with the hate filled eyes would be very happy with him. The hateful one may have ordered him not to confront the pussy-fags, but he hadn't said anything about spying on them. And now he had proof, surely they would be allowed to take action now. Thinking dark thoughts of pain and cruelty, he got up slowly so as not to draw attention, and then went off to find the one with the hateful eyes.

The dark haired young man moaned in his sleep, coming close to waking. Somewhere in his tortured consciousness he felt a deep maliciousness, very much like the hate he had felt from the hateful murderer with the horrible eyes. But it was different, it wasn't directed towards him. He stirred in his sleep, startling the nurse that was watching him, but as he felt the maliciousness recede he let himself fall back into the deep almost coma like slumber he had retreated to.

Chris' POV

Inevitably lunch ended, as it always does, and Jamie and I started on our way towards the Drama building.

"Oh nooooo!" I groaned, suddenly remembering.


"Amanda's in this class too. I completely forgot. Oh I hope Ms. Patrick has us do something that will keep Amanda away from me."

"Chris, Chris, Chris. You're in way over your head cuz."

"Anyway, here's the class. You wanna sit next to me, or do you want to go mingle?"

"I think-" Just as I had been earlier, Jamie was abruptly cut off by Amanda's voice.

"Hi there little sunshine boy," she said, probably as a reference to his hair, and grabbed his hand to drag him with her as she went towards the middle of the room. "I want to introduce you to my little bro, he's a freshman too. And he needs a partner for the observation assignment, just like you do."

"But.. Uh... What observation assignment?" Jamie finally managed.

"I'll explain the specifics later, right now let me introduce you to your new partner, Gareth. Hey Gareth, get over here, I want you to meet Jamie."

I looked in the direction she was calling and noticed a young oriental looking boy with short cropped black hair facing away from us. His shoulders sagged when he heard Amanda's call, as though he was annoyed by his older sister's nagging. As he turned I noticed the look on his face, which appeared to be saying 'Oh boy. Who's this one?' The look that replaced it when he saw Jamie just about knocked me over. His jaw dropped just the slightest bit and his eye's became the most intense pools of hunger, lust, and immediate infatuation I've ever seen. Quite obviously he had the hots for my cuz. I wished I could see Jamie's eyes as well so I could get some idea of how he felt about this Gareth kid.

"Don't they make just the cutest couple?" Amanda asked quietly from right beside me, having returned from introducing the two.

"Ya. Is Gareth..." I trailed off, still lost in thought. It wasn't until about twenty seconds later that I realized what I had just said. "I mean.. Uh..."

"Oh Chris." Amanda said laughing softly. "Don't worry. He is, and by the look in his eyes so's Jamie. I've been trying to find a boy for Gareth for weeks now. Don't ask me how, but I just knew Jamie was the perfect one the moment you introduced me to him. But don't tell either of them, if it's meant to be it'll happen by itself."

"You mean you don't care?" I was shocked. I know she said she refused to conform the first day Adam and I had met her, but this was something I never expected.

"Of course not. And now that I've got you all to myself...." She trailed off just like I had earlier, except this time I was saved as the bell rang, signaling the beginning of class.

"Amanda, Chris." It was Ms. Patrick. "If you two would be kind enough to take your seats, we'll start.

I have no idea what she said for the first half of class. I was too busy getting over the shock of what Amanda had just revealed. Add to it the fact that my mind was a chaotic mess and you can probably see why I had no attention left for anything even remotely school related.

First, she knew Jamie was gay and had just set him up with a potential boy friend. Second she was trying to get me 'all to herself' for some reason. Oh I hope she isn't trying to set me up with anyone, I already found the boy I want. Even worse, what if she means she wants me 'all to herself'? Not to insult her or anything, but -as I think I may have mentioned- I'm gay. Well of course I haven't mentioned it to her, but I can't get into a relationship with a girl. What'll I do if she tries to ask me out on a date? I have no doubts that she'd do it either, she seems the headstrong type of girl that wouldn't have any trouble asking a guy out. How do I get out of this without spilling the beans? Sure, she doesn't care if Jamie's gay, but what about the guy she wants for herself? Would she feel spurned? Don't they say something like 'hell hath no fury like a woman spurned? Or is it scorned? Whatever it is, it's gotta be bad if there's nothing like it in hell. But then again, what if I'm just blowing my horn, what if she doesn't want to go out with me at all and I'm getting all worked up over nothing? Oh I hope that's what it is. Hope, hope, hope, hope, HOPE!!

See, told you my brain was a chaotic mess. And yes, it took me almost a full 45 minutes to sort all that out, even if it did only take you about 20 seconds to read it all.

I finally decided that thinking about it was only going to get me even more confused than I already was, something I wished I had thought of earlier. Having put that behind me, I turned my attention back to Ms. Patrick.

"And finally, getting back to your homework before I let you break off into your groups again, there is an expansion to the original observation assignment. From now on I want you take into account everything you know about the person, if anything, and make conjectures about how that might be effecting their personality. Remember, these only have to be observations and conjectures, meaning guesses. If you're wrong that's ok, I don't expect any of you to be psychiatrists over night. You may now separate into your groups, remember no more than two to a group."

Apparently I was the only one who's partner hadn't shown up, so I stayed in my seat and watched as the other class members separated into their groups. Jamie and Gareth seemed to have gotten past any shyness either of them might have possessed, and they were talking excitedly with each other. Amanda, while still talking to her partner, made doe eyes at me when I looked in her direction. I looked away as quickly as I could. Oh no, oh no, oh no! She's making doe eyes! AHHHHHHHHH!

Eventually noticing that I was sitting alone, Ms. Patrick came up to me.

"Excuse me Chris, where's your partner?"

"I have no idea, Adam didn't come to school today."

"Ah. Even so it would still be possible for you to begin the conjecture portion of the assignment. But if you would rather wait till you can do it with Adam, next week we are going to begin casting for our first play. You can look at the script today since your partner isn't here. We haven't put on Romeo And Juliet in a long while, and I think it's the perfect play to begin with. Especially since most of the people in this class have already played in it at some point."

"Thanks Ms. Patrick." I said to her, truly grateful to have something to do. I got up from my desk, walked over to the file cabinet Ms. Patrick had indicated, and pulled open the drawer with the stenciled words Romeo and Juliet along with many other plays like Man of Lamancha, Grease, and even one of my favorites, "Rent". It took me only a moment of rifling through the files to find the folder I needed, and I quietly pulled out a script and then shut the drawer. I glanced at the script of a play I knew almost by heart as I walked back to my seat, and then began the easy task of reading it for probably the thousandth time.

"Hey Chris," Jamie said to me a while later. "What'cha reading?"

"Romeo and Juliet. Ms. Patrick says were going to be putting it on soon and since Adam isn't here she told me I could start going over the script a bit early."

"That's cool. Hey, I wanted to tell you, Gareth and I have decided to go over to his house after school so we can catch up on our observation assignment, and Amanda's agreed to give me a ride as long as you agree to come pick me up about seven." He said all this with a perfectly innocent smile, doing his level best not to let me see the pure excitement that was flooding through him at the thought of spending time with his new friend - which of course only tipped me off.

"So," I said as nonchalantly, as possible, "I guess you've forgotten all about Josh in dance class haven't you?"


"Oh please, you're practically drooling over the kid." I leaned over in my chair to look appraisingly at Gareth, taking in his light tan complexion and short raven black hair. He was about as tall as Jamie, had dark brown eyes, and through his smile I could see straight pearl-pearl whit teeth. He was wearing a loose pair of white jean shorts and a baggy blue t-shirt with some sports logo on it. I must admit, he did look pretty cute. "Not that I blame you," I said looking back at Jamie, "he is kinda cute isn't he?"

"That's not it at all! I just wanna-" I cut him off, singing very quietly.

"Jamie's got a crush, Jamie's got a crush, nya nya nya nya nya, Jamie's got a cruuush." I smiled hugely at his indignant scowl. "Didn't I tell you I'd get you back?"

"Why I oughtta-" Again I cut him off.

"Amanda," I called over the noise of everyone else packing up and preparing to leave, "if I'm going to pick Jamie up I'll need directions to your house."

"One other thing," I said to Jamie, the responsible older cousin in me taking the lead for a moment, "do you need to call your mom and make sure it's ok for you to go over to Gareth's?"

"Yeah I do, but Amanda said she'd let me use her cell-phone."

"I sure did." Amanda said, walking up behind him. "Here you go Jamie, just hit send after you punch in your number."

"And this," she said, turning to me and holding out a piece of paper, "is for you, hot stuff."

"Uh thanks." I said, my thoughts returning to the aforementioned chaos - although this time it thankfully only took a few seconds for it to flash through my mind instead of forty-five minutes.

"You're welcome." Oh my gosh, how does she do that with her eyes!? I've never been so uncomfortable in my entire life, not even when I had to shower in the junior high gym and almost popped a boner at the sight of Jimmy Tanan, the school jock. (Now that I think about it Jimmy was really only second rate. If even that Adam is much cuter.)

"Here's your phone Amanda." Jamie said happily, "thanks for letting me use it.

"Hey Gareth, Mom said YES!!"

"Cool man, so what do you wanna."

He had scampered away to talk with his friend long before Amanda had a chance to reply, but at least it broke that weird staring contest we were having. *RINGGGGGG* I have never been so happy to hear a bell ring in all my life!

"I'll see you later when I pick up Jamie." I said to her quickly as I got up and grabbed my bag. "Hey Jamie, have fun. And don't do anything naughty." He just glared at me as I walked towards the door. I smiled in response and waved goodbye. Thankfully Amanda still had to go back to her desk and pick up her stuff, plus she had two hyperactive freshmen to chaperone, so she couldn't walk to the parking lot with me. I don't even want to think about how uncomfortable that might have been.

Once again I made my way to the parking lot as quickly as I could. This time it was not to catch up with someone, but because I desperately wanted to avoid someone.

When I finally got home I went straight up to my room and phoned Adam. The phone rang a few times, and then a machine picked up. I guessed the voice on the machine must have been his mom's, because it certainly wasn't his.

"Hi. You've reached the Cross residence. We're very sorry to have missed you. Please leave a message and we'll return your call as soon as convenience allows."

"Hi Adam, this is Chris. I was just calling to see what kept you out of school today. Give me a call when you can, we have an extension on our assignment in Drama and I picked up the homework for you in Calc. and Sign Language as well. Bye."

Well speaking of homework I suppose I ought to get started on mine.

Adam's POV

I woke up after what seemed like a few minutes, and was surprised to see Mom, her hair combed and her clothes changed, sitting in the chair next to my bed.

"Hi there sleepyhead." She said when she saw me moving around on the bed.

I smiled, letting my distractions slip away. "Hi mom. How long have I been out?"

"Since I left this morning. It's almost five in the afternoon now. Sleep well?"

"Ya, I think I did. I feel a lot better than I did last night." I winced as I tried to move my head. "But I'm sore.

"I thought you might be. The doctor said you hadn't sustained any major injuries, but might have a mild case of whiplash. He suggested you see a chiropractor if the soreness doesn't go away within a week. Other than that, you're ship shape."

"If I'm ship shape how come I've been asleep for the last twelve hours?"

"Medicine. Hospital procedure. Which also says they can't release you until six'o'clock this evening. I checked."

"Oh well. It's not like I've got anything terribly important to do today."

"I think I might have something of interest to you." She said, leaning back in her chair and smiling like the cat that had just got the cream and  the canary.

"Okaaay." I said, knowing this game all too well. "What do I have to do to get you to tell me?"

"You have to promise me you'll clean that sty you call a room. Got it? You spoiled little darling?"

"Oh ok." I said, rolling my eyes at her. "But this had better be good!"

"Well," she said, making it sound as if she had just heard the most fascinating thing in all her life and was about to pass it on to me, "I seem to remember someone indicating that they were in love last night. And then that someone went and slept straight through school. And when that someone's mom checked the answering machine today, she found a message from the boy that this particular someone is in love with..."

"Chris called!? What'd he say? What'd he want? Oh come on mom, this is torture!" The next time I think of telling my mom that she's successfully torturing me, hit me in the head with a frying pan. It would be nicer than letting me tell her.

She played it cool for a few more minutes, teasing me with things like 'oh I can't remember' or, 'now what did he say about that?' Eventually she took pity on me, and told me that not only had she brought her little tape recorder with her so I could hear the message myself, she had also brought her cell phone so I could call Chris from my room.

"Hi Adam," I heard Chris' voice from the tape recorder and just about melted, "this is Chris." As if I couldn't have guessed that. "I was just calling to see what kept you out of school today." Oh he worried about me, how sweet. STOP IT!! Stop thinking like that or you'll drive yourself NUTS! "Give me a call when you can, we have an extension on our assignment in Drama and I picked up the homework for you in Calc. and Sign Language as well. Bye." Oh he is such a swee- STOP THINKING LIKE THAT!!!!

I looked up puzzled as I heard my mom begin to laugh. "Oh Adam," she said wiping her eyes, "I don't think I've ever seen you torture yourself this much over a guy before."

"Ya well, you've never seen me this in love with a guy before either."

"Very true. Here, you can use my phone to call him back."

"Thanks mom."

"You're welcome sweetie."

Beep, beep, beep, beep, bleep, bloop, beep. Ringgggg. Ringgggg. "Hello?"

"Hi, is Chris there?"

"Yes, one moment please."

Waiting.... waiting... waiting.... WHAT'S TAKING SO LONG?


"Hi Chris!"

"Adam? That you?" Aww, he can recognize my voice.

"Yup. How are ya? I got your message."

"I'm ok. But the real question is how are you? Missed you in class today." Oh isn't he sweet!?

"I'm doing ok. Kinda got a story to tell ya though."

"Oh? A story? I'm game, not much going on here."

"Where's Jamie?"

"He went over to his new friend's house. Name's Gareth I think."

"Oh cool. Anyway, about my story. I was driving back to my house after you and I spent all that time studying. About three blocks away from my house this guy jumps out into the street right in front of my car. It was like he had waited until he knew I was too close to stop."

"My god, is he ok? Are you ok?"

"I'm fine, and thankfully he's alive too. Although I'm not too sure how thankful he'll be about that when he wakes up. Apparently he's lapsed into some kind of coma. I just got a minor case of whiplash, but the doctors made me stay overnight for observation just in case, and now the hospital won't release me until six. Ugh."

"What a pain. At least you're ok though. How's your car?" Oh he is soooo sweet. He cares, he really - STOP THINKING LIKE THAT!! Quit it, quit it, quit it! You're going to go psycho if you don't quit it!

"My car's fine. The police impounded it to make sure I'm not some psycho teenager out to kill someone, but the officer said if everything checks out I'll be able to get it back tomorrow without paying any fines." Isn't it strange the little gestures we make while talking on the phone as if the other person can actually see us?

"I wonder what could make someone want to do that. I hope he finds something to live for, though. No one deserves to be so miserable they'd be willing to jump in front of a car." Oh my god, he is such a sweet heart. - STOP THI- Oh forget it. I'll go psycho if I think like that, but I'll go psycho even faster if I try not to think like that. One of those vicious circles I guess.

"So, how was school?"


"That bad huh?"

"Yup. Boring as usual. Oh, except for one thing. Amanda's invited us to her birthday party on Saturday. She say's it's going to be a blast, and told me to tell you about it. Which reminds me. The friend Jamie went with today is Amanda's little brother. She set them up together."

"You mean set them up as in 'boyfriends' set them up?" Mom raised her eyebrows when she heard me say that and I realized I would have to explain our run-in with Gregg to her the minute I got off the phone.

"Ya. I don't know how she knew he was gay, but she says Gareth is too. I don't think either of them know that the other is, but Amanda doesn't seem to think that matters. She says if it's meant to be it'll happen without her interfering any more." Oh my god, he just described exactly what I want someone to say about us. Chris and me I mean. Oh please, oh please, oh PLEASE; let it be meant to be.

"Wow, that's cool. Uh, I gotta go, mom's giving me a weird look."

"Ok. Oh wait a sec." I could hear him talking to someone else, probably Dianne. "Hey, do you think it's ok if I come see you at the hospital? I could bring you the homework and we could start going over it if you want. The reason I ask is cause Dianne has to come pick up a prescription anyway, and I figured if I just brought her to the hospital to pick it up at the same time as I brought you your homework, it'll prevent her from having to call a cab."

"Ya sure. That sounds great. See you in what? About twenty minutes?"

"Ya, probably. See you then."

"See ya."



"Here you go mom. Thanks for letting me use it."

"Your welcome honey. Now what's this about 'boyfriends'?"

"Here goes. Monday, just after I met Chris...."

You've already heard this part so I'll skip ahead to about twenty minutes later. Which is actually about how long it took me to tell mom about Gregg and Jamie, and then about Amanda and Gareth who is apparently her little brother, (what little I know of him anyway, since I've never met him and basically know only that he's alive) and answer all her questions and deal with all her interruptions and stuff. My mom would drive a professional story teller nuts with all her questions.

....ld. Cold. Ice. Freezing. Killing. Cold. Why so cold?

Slowly his consciousness stirred, and roused itself from the pained thoughts that played in front of his minds eye. He could feel something coming closer. Something old. Something familiar. Something long sought after. Something very, very good.

Many times in his life he had felt that same something looking for him, searching, yearning to find him. Always he had felt it in his dreams, but never before had he felt it so strongly. And never before had it grown. Always it had remained distant, weak, far away and utterly unattainable. But now, now it grew. And as it grew it pulsed with a warm welcoming energy. 'Home' it said. 'Love' it whispered. 'Safety' it called. And last of all, almost better than the others, 'Warm'. Oh to be warm, a feeling that even now was denied him. If only he could be warm, if only... he... if... onl...

Once again he drifted back into the depths of unconsciousness, but this time he took with him the precious promise of warmth. In so doing, he unwittingly set forth triggers that began working invisible changes in his mind and body, as well as some few that weren't so invisible. He had hope again. For the first time in months he had true hope, and although he did not rise from the flat bed in the blank, colorless hospital room, still the nurses were happy to see color returning to his cheeks, and strength returning to his heart. Soon he wouldn't need the machines to help his heart, or his lungs. What shocked them though, was the smile that appeared on his lips and would have made his slack and lifeless face seem almost beatific, if it weren't for the deep, pain filled hollows under his eyes.

Chris's POV

As promised it took me only about twenty minutes to get to the hospital after hanging up the phone. I thought Dianne was a little paler than usual as we got out of the car, and smiled. I guess she isn't used to driving quite that fast. I grabbed my back pack out of the car and took it into the hospital with us so I could give Adam his homework.

"Excuse me?" I said at the receptionist's desk when we walked in. "Can you tell me what room Adam Cross is in please?"

"On moment." Said a thin, austere looking woman who could have been anywhere between thirty and fifty. Her voice was kind though, and her eyes spoke of compassion. "He's on the second floor, room 254." She leaned over her desk and pointed down the hall, "Take the second elevator on the left, then take a right turn when the doors open. It should be the fifth room on the right I believe."

"Thank you very much." I said before turning towards the elevator she had indicated. Dianne had already left to go to the pharmacy. We had decided in the car that she would wait for me in the lobby once her prescription had been filled.

The hospital itself was a modern clean looking building that had been built strictly for functionality with very little attention given to appeal. It wasn't really a bad looking building, but it was obvious that the designers had been interested in designing a hospital and nothing else.

I only had to wait a few seconds for the elevator doors to open after I pushed the call button, and I stepped in. Someone called out and I slipped my arm between the doors just in time to catch them. A panting woman thanked me breathlessly as she stepped in beside me and asked me to push floor four for her. I absently did so, completely forgetting to press the button for floor two.

"You look very familiar for some reason." She said to me as the elevator began moving.

"Just one of those faces I guess." I said, not really interested in talking. For some reason I was having trouble thinking.

Something was strange... a feeling of... of being watched. Or hunted.

'Cold. Ice. Freezing. Killing. Cold.' I grimaced as my mind was suddenly filled with thoughts of a frozen valley, surrounded on all sides by cliffs of ice and covered by dark threatening clouds. My skin broke out into sudden goose bumps and I grabbed my sides in a desperate attempt to stay warm.

"Are you alright?" The ladies voice shattered the vision of the icy valley and I could feel my mind returning to itself.

"I... Yes, thank you. Must have been a dizzy spell or something." I said, hitting the button for floor two just as we passed floor three.

When the doors slid open revealing the critical observation ward I had every intention of letting the lady exit and then riding back down to floor two, but suddenly my mind was once again seized by a strange feeling of being watched, but I no longer felt hunted. It felt instead as if someone were looking at me from a great distance and trying to call out to me. Trying to get my attention and signal me forward.

I staggered out of the elevator, the lady following behind me with a concerned look on her face. "Are you sure you're alright?"

I ignored her and continued down the hall, leaning against the wall to keep myself from falling. A ringing began in my ears and I put one hand up to my temple to relieve the sudden throbbing I felt in my head. I lost all sense of my surroundings. The lady was no longer there, no longer trying to help me along while flagging down a nurse. The hospital disappeared around me and I was in a long dark hall of ice. I fell against a door and it burst open. A familiar looking young man with brown hair looked up in surprise, shock registering in his brown eyes.

'Adam?' My mind couldn't grasp the concept that the name Adam belonged with this person's face. Instead my eyes were drawn to the bed that he was standing next to, and the body laid out upon it.

A part of my brain was shocked. This person looked exactly like me. His hair was shorter, and looked almost curly, and his face was drawn and pail, but he looked like my exact twin. When my eyes landed on his slack face I was once again hit with image of the icy valley.

I shuddered and collapsed as I felt all the heat suddenly leached from my body. "Cold!" I cried out in pain. "Why so cold?"

"Chris! Chris!" I heard someone calling my name as if from far away. The valley became less real, the cold less horrible.

I put up a hand, felt someone take it, helping me stand. My legs were shaky. The someone moved behind me a little, caught me as I began to fall backwards again. I didn't try to stand alone, just rested in their arms, holding onto their shoulder with my hands and all the while staring at the face of my identical stranger.

Slowly his eyes opened and I looked into eyes the same light grey as my own. A name. I know his name. But how could I know his name? I've never seen him before. It didn't matter, I knew his name.

Behind me, seemingly as though from many miles I heard a familiar voice. Dianne's voice. She was saying something, asking someone something. I didn't listen, but I heard her gasp when she saw the stranger staring into my eyes. The stranger who's name I knew. This stranger...

"Alexander." I said.

With that word I released the blocks that had been put up around my senses. Suddenly I could see, hear and feel everything that was going on. The sounds of peoples voices caught up to me and I could here Dianne ordering doctors and nurses out of the room, and somehow being obeyed. I could see the lady from the elevator standing nearby and looking at me strangely, and I could feel someone holding me.

'Adam.' I thought to myself. 'Adam's holding me.'

'Yes, he is.' I was very unprepared for the answer, and even less prepared for the sudden image that appeared in my mind, as though I were seeing myself from Alexanders point of view. Along with that image came the pain of the icy valley, but somehow it was magnified and I cried out as I collapsed against Adam, my eyes tearing in pain.

In a single quick movement Adam bent down, swept my legs out from under me with his free arm while supporting my shoulders with the other, and I found myself being carried towards the bed next to Alexanders.

'I'm sorry!' I heard in my head. 'I didn't think that would happen, I'm sorry.'

'It's ok.' I thought back tentatively as Adam laid me down on the bed, unsure if Alexander would be able to hear me.

"Just what the hell is going on here!?" A large bear of a man had just shoved his way through the crowd of nurses at the door and was glaring at Dianne as if he would as soon step on her as take the time to go around her. "What are you doing to my patient?" He demanded in the same angry voice. "And who the hell do you think you are, telling the hospital staff what to do?"

"I think," Dianne said calmly, "that I'm Dianne Steal, personal assistant to Jonathan Thompson and professional body guard to his son Christopher Thompson. I have medical training and in this situation legal authority to order civilians in any manner I see fit as long as it does not place them in jeopardy. That is who I think I am. Who, sir, do you think you are?" Dianne had remained calm throughout her entire speech.

"I think I'm Doctor Jacob Daniels," he said in a voice of steel as he stared down at Dianne from a height of almost six and a half feet, "and I want you out of my hospital. Unless you can give me some good reason why I shouldn't call security and have you forcefully ejected." His tone made it quite clear that he doubted she would be able to come up with something.

Adam leaned closer to my ear while the Doctor talked. "I thought Dianne was just your house-keeper."

"So did I." I said shrugging.

"I have a very good reason. One which I would prefer to discuss with you after you have come into the room and shut the door so that we can talk in some modicum of privacy."

The doctor seemed to agree with her, and he stepped in past Dianne as she moved out of his way. Forcing people to back up, Dianne closed the door, and turned once again to face the doctor who had walked over to Alexander's side and was checking all the machines to make sure he was ok.

"Now," said the doctor when he had finished, "talk. I want your reason, and I want to know why there's another young man lying on that bed looking like a wrung out dishrag."

"I believe," Dianne began, "that the young man to whom you are referring as 'your patient' is in fact Alexander Thompson. Twin brother to Christopher Thompson, and younger son of Jonathan Thompson. If that is the case than my duties as body guard expand to include him as well." Somewhere in the back of my mind I noticed that Alexander's jaw had dropped open about as far as my own.

'Twin brother?' I heard in my head, still startled by the fact that I could hear voices in my head.

'Can you think of a better explanation for this?' I responded, indicating the fact that we could hear each other in our heads.

'Good point.'

"You see doctor, nearly nineteen years ago the Thompson's had twin sons. Something of a miracle actually, since for one reason or another Mrs. Thompson was thought unable to have children. Shortly after the boys were born, the Thompsons went on a year long tour of Europe as a celebration. Everything went fine until nearly a month after their return. One morning Mrs. Thompson discovered Alexander's crib to be empty, and the assistant cook, Armand, had disappeared from their Florida home. A ransom note, demanding five million dollars, was received in the mail a few days later, promising the safe return of the child if the money was payed. The parents, only too willing to pay the money, went along with all the demands, did not even notify the police that their child had been kidnaped. They had the money, went to the arranged meeting place and found Armand's body. Someone else had killed him, and taken the child. A second note was found, this one causing the parents to despair. The writer of the note promised that the child would live, but that the parents would never be allowed to see him again. It was not signed. Mr. Thompson, determined to get his son back, used the five million dollars he had intended to pay for the ransom in order to hire an entire fleet of private detectives all over the world . After two years Alexander remained un-found, and Mr. Thompson gave up in despair, believing his son to be dead. Mrs. Thompson, however, never gave up hope, and hired me as her remaining son's body guard. Included in my duties was finding Alexander if at all possible. All my resources and agents, and favors proved useless however, and Alexander remained lost. I believe that now, by some strange twist of fate, Alexander has been found and returned to us."

"That is quite a story Ms. Steal." Said the doctor dubiously. But that still doesn't explain these two people." He waved his hand to indicate Adam and the lady from the elevator.

"I'm Adam Cross." Adam said, advancing on the doctor and extending his hand. "This is my mother, and we're here because I'm the one who hit Alexander while he was crossing the street."

'Your friend is lying.' I heard in my head. 'I wasn't crossing the street. I' -overwhelming shame filled my thoughts- 'was trying to kill myself.'

'I know. Adam's just like that. Don't worry, you're my brother and I'm going to make sure you have a reason to live from now on.'

"Well, Adam Cross," the doctor said, "you and I both know he wasn't crossing the street, and by the tears leaking out of his eyes now he probably remembers as well. Mrs. Steal, I have dealt with wealthy families before and if the Thompsons are anything like the others I've dealt with they'll want to bring their son home. We will of course have to run a blood and DNA test on both Christopher and Alexander to corroborate your story, but from the looks of things I doubt that will be a problem. I can authorize all the equipment and arrange for a nurse to check on him every day. I realize this may seem very cold of me, trying to rush a patient out of the hospital, but we are over full as it is, and from what I can see the only real danger to Alexander comes from himself. If you can guarantee that he will not be left alone then I see no reason why he should be kept here when there is a family that will want to see him right away. Oh yes, and the casts on his legs can come off in a few weeks, so he'll have to come back to the hospital for that."

"Thank you doctor." Dianne said, sounding very heartfelt.

"You, on the other hand," the bear of a doctor said, pulling two syringes from a cupboard in the room, "are a bit of a mystery to me. What's wrong with you?"

"Uh... nothing." I said awkwardly as he stared down at me. 'You fell on your ass and all you can say is nothing?' I gave a mental shrug in response to Alexander's question.

"Then why are you lying on that bed?"

"I had a bit of a dizzy spell when I first saw Alexander. Kind of shocking to discover you have a twin brother."

"Hmm. Well, open your mouth." I did and he shined his little pen light down my throat. "Say ahh."


"Good. Now," lifting my shirt and placing a freezing cold stethoscope against my chest, "breathe in deep. Good, now breathe out slowly. Good. Try standing up and tell me if you feel dizzy."

I stood slowly, unsure if my legs would hold me. I wobbled a bit at first, probably a result of my own doubt, but I was soon walking around the room easily. "Nope, don't feel dizzy."

"Good. Well then once Ms. Steal and I get everything taken care of you can go home with your brother and get to know him. You, Adam, can check out now. It's about six thirty. Ms. Steal, if you'll come with me we'll get the equipment you need and fill out the paperwork that will let you take Alexander home."

At the doctor's reference to time I suddenly remembered I was supposed to pick up Jamie at Amanda's. "Oh, I've got to go get Jamie. Dianne, set up everything for Alexander in my room, none of the guest rooms are furnished yet."

"Alright. But drive safely with Jamie in the car!" After making sure that was all I needed Dianne accompanied Dr. Daniels out of the room and they went off to fill out the paperwork.

"Chris," said Mrs. Cross, a nice looking lady who appeared to be in her late thirties to mid forties, "it's been a pleasure meeting you. I hope next time it's under less chaotic circumstances.

"Come along Adam, lets leave Chris alone with Alexander and go get you checked out. You can stop by his house later if you like."

"Ok mom. Bye Chris. Goodbye Alexander."

"Bye Adam." I said. Alexander simply stared at him, unspeaking.

'Why didn't you say goodbye to him?' I asked after Adam and his mother had left the room and shut the door.

'I don't like talking to people I don't know. Too many of them will turn on you.' In his words I sensed loss and grief, and hurt, as well as anger and fear.

"Don't fear me." I said aloud. "I will never abandon you. You're my brother. It's not every day you wake up an only child and then by the end of the day discover that not only do you have a brother, you've got a twin."

"I.. I don't fear you. I don't know why though. I can sense your need to go though, you said you needed to pick up Jamie. Who is Jamie?"

"Jamie's my- er, I guess 'our' cousin. I've got to go pick him up from Amanda's house. Amanda's a girl at school."

'A girl you don't like. I can tell.'

'It's not that I don't like her, so much as I wish she didn't like me quit so much.'

'You love Adam.' A statement, not a question; startling in it's abruptness.

"How do you know that?"

"I don't know. How did you know my name? How can we talk like this? I've got as many questions as you do, and probably just as few answers. But you need to pick up Jamie, we can figure all this out another time." Again he was abrupt and matter-of-fact.

"You promise you won't try anything if I leave you alone?"

' I promise.' As he said it he 'opened' his thoughts to me, and I could feel that he meant it, that he wouldn't try to kill himself again. 'I don't know why Chris, but since I woke up and saw you, my nightmare has quite playing itself in front of my eyes. I no longer feel the need to kill myself to stop it. And I don't feel so cold anymore. However it is that you've done this for me, thank you.'

"Ok," I said smiling at him, happy to have helped him without even knowing how, "then I'll go get Jamie."

'Hey, I've got an idea.' Alexander said as I walked out the door. 'Let's see how far this works.'

'Ok.'  I thought back to him, my own curiosity aroused. As I walked towards the elevator Alexander began telling me what he could remember of his life. Growing up on the streets of San Diego and living a life of perpetual cold and hunger. I was out of the hospital and down to my car by the time I realized that I was no longer walking towards the elevator.

He continued to tell me about his life as I drove to Amanda's, but I remembered to pay attention to the road as well. Our 'link' didn't fade at all, it kept going just like that annoying energizer bunny on the tv commercials. I wonder what mom and dad will say when I call them tonight....

"NO!!" the young man with the hate filled eyes roared in outrage. "NO!! I told you to leave them alone. Spying you can do, but you will not ask permission to assault them again. I will decide when the time is right!! No one else. Me. Do you understand?"

With those hate filled, terrifying eyes boring into him, the mean looking boy could do little more than nod in fearful agreement. His only consolation was that this time he didn't make any blubbering or whimpering sounds. He had learned that lesson last time. Learned it well.

"I understand your desire to crush them," said one of the more spirited of the small group to the boy with the hate filled eyes, "but why do we wait. Why not now? There are seven of us and three of them. Only two of which count. Together, we could easily take them all."

"Because," hissed the boy with the hate filled eyes, leveling his eyes on the speaker, "it is no longer enough simply to cause them physical pain. We must make them writhe in shame and self loathing first. The physical agony will be merely a later step in the destruction of their spirits."

A cruel smile lit the face of the spirited boy who had prompted this response with his question. "Yessss," he hissed in pleasure. "I understand perfectly now.."

His statement was echoed in the eyes of all present, and the boy with the hateful eyes reveled in the mastery he had attained so easily over this group. They were his now, totally and completely.

They would do anything he asked them to do, absolutely anything.

They belonged to him as surely as did any of his other possessions. They were HIS!!!

End Chapter Five

Well, there it is. Hope you liked it. I would like to thank everyone who has e-mailed me about Different, it is very inspiring. Even the ones that point out my mistakes, it gives me something to strive for. And especially the ones that keep bugging me to hurry up and finish 'the next chapter'. That lets me know that I've still got people out there who are waiting, and gets me motivated to keep working. Thank you!!! 'Till next time, goodbye, and live well. Oh yes, and isn't the title kind of a kick in the pants? 'So much stranger than fiction' when it is in fact fiction... I love irony. 'Till next time!! -Chris-