*WELCOME BACK* to all of you who have remained fans of the "GFD" series over the years, and a huge THANKS to the many fans who have sent emails, pics, drawings, and the like, as well! I love you all for the support, and I hope that you enjoy the beginning of this brand new chapter! Don't miss a single post! Things are just STARTING to heat up, so stay tuned! Please let me know what you think at Comicality@webtv.net or stop by my website at http://comicality.gayauthors.org and say hello!
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Even when getting off of the train, Taryn couldn't connect his once brilliant, emerald green, eyes with my own. If only I could get him to look at me..just once. But he never did. Instead he kept himself anchored to Rain's comforting embrace to the point where even reaching out to touch his shoulder was impossible. His eyes had literally been exhausted of their tears, swollen and dry, bloodshot to the degree where it just looked like it hurt him to blink. But it wasn't the pain that was displayed on his face that really hurt me...it was the dead expression of his soul that truly worried me.
After being so close to Taryn for what already seems like an eternity...after laying naked and vulnerable beside him in our bed, and seeing the glory of his heart as it was reflected in the unbelievable glow of his expressive eyes...I know him. I truly know the boy that I love. The same way that he knows me. Every inch, every emotion, every quirk, flaw, and problem, he has. And this is a depth of despair that I have never seen in him before. It was as though that invisible aura of unconditional love was gone from him completely. As though the flame had suddenly been...'extinguished' somehow. And he wouldn't even let me get close enough to him to reignite it again. Hell...he wouldn't even look me in the face
Was it my fault? Had I done something so despicable by trying to protect my 'family'? Was he secretly blaming me for what I had done to his little brother? It's not like I attacked some harmless little boy! He tried to kill me! He tried to kill ALL of us! I did....
..I did what I had to do. I didn't have any other choice. Oh PLEASE understand that, Taryn. Please...
I kept my eyes focused on him, his body weak from the sobs he had been wallowing in since we left the club and got on the train again. Rain could barely hold him up, even in a seated position, but no one else was able to touch him. He wouldn't allow it. Any attempt to approach him only made him cling to Rain even tighter, with a newly formed stream of tears crawling over his cheeks again. I have to admit that I didn't understand. I couldn't see why she was his only salvation at a time like this. Why not me? Why doesn't he trust me? Put faith in me the way he does in her? Perhaps it's selfish to even think about it in those terms...but the love of my life was suffering soooooo much, and it just...arrgh!...it frustrated me to know that I couldn't be the one to help him through it!
We got off of the train almost an hour later, and limped our way out of the subway. Gyro would still occasionally leak a little blood from his nose, both of his eyes blackened in the center from having been hit so hard. Jenna sported a very dark bruise on her cheek, and one of her ankles had almost been sprained in the conflict, but she seemed to be able to walk on it without too much difficulty. Max, who had probably taken more of a beating than most of us, was bravely attempting to walk a straight line without showing any signs of discomfort. But I could see him wince in pain from time to time as his muscles reacted involuntarily to the cramps, cuts, and bruises, covering his body from head to toe. Dylan did his best to hold Dion up and keep him close to his side...but Dion seemed too heavy for him to assist him in walking. Still, he struggled with it valiantly, while Jenna offered a little help whenever Dylan looked too tired to go on. He wanted soooo badly for Dion to be able to lean on him for support. He'd literally collapse from fatigue before he let his angel fall...and we all knew that. I stayed out of it for that very reason. Because despite Dylan's obvious strain...he wouldn't let go. He needed to be there, to hold on. And by letting him do that...it was almost like getting rid of the guilt that came with Taryn not allowing me to do the same.
It took a lot longer than normal to rag ourselves back to the lot, sad bunch that we were, and Kid and Napolean were the first to come running top speed to the front gate when they caught sight of us. At first, Kid just seemed extremely happy to see his 'idol', Max, come home. Like a loyal little puppy, he trotted over to us, wiggling his little 'tail' as though he was overjoyed and ready to play. Between him and Napolean, Kid seemed to be the most uncontrollably excited. But as they got closer...they saw the cuts and bruises on us. And the bloodstained clothes. And the awkward sway of our walk. And both the little boy and his dog slowed down their stride to try to figure out what had happened to everybody.
Kid paused for a second, and then immediately ran over to hug Max tightly around the waist. "Ahhhggggh! Jesus!!!" Max howled, his abdomen still extremely sore from the blows he had taken in the club. Kid didn't let go, but looked up at his friend with panicked and questioning eyes. He didn't speak, he never does. But the worrisome message was transmitted through his every gesture as he held on to his friend for dear life. Max, always the grump, lifted his hands and looked at the rest of us. "Can one of you guys PLEASE peel this overzealous 'midget' off of me before he finishes cracking the rest of my ribs?"
"Kid? Kid, baby...come on..." Jenna said softly, and was eventually able to pry Kid's hands away from his wounded friend. He didn't want to release him, and looked at Jenna for an explanation as to how we could let him get hurt like this. Jenna had to squat down to look at him eye to eye, and put her hands on his slim shoulders in an attempt to comfort him. "We're gonna go help Max get patched up so he can feel better, k?" Kid still looked troubled, almost ready to cry from the confusion of it. Jenna could feel herself absorbing and reproducing his emotions, but did all she could to swallow it and not let it get out of control. "It's ok, honey. He's gonna be alright, I promise." Kid hesitated a second, then hugged her around the neck. "Awwww, I know you're scared, but he's fine. See? He's alright. Come on...let's go get him fixed up. You can help. Ok? Let's just...let's get Max somewhere so he can lay down. Can you help me carry him?" Kid nodded until his dark brown hair flopped forward, and he rushed over to Max's right side to nuzzle himself under his arm. As though that little boy could possibly support Max's weight, even if he WANTED to.
Max frowned up when Kid took a hold of him. "I can walk just FINE, what the hell are you....?" But Jenna widened her eyes and gave Max a frustrated look that told him to keep his mouth shut and let his little boy disciple do something to help him feel better. Max grunted and groaned, and then said, "Fine! Geez! Oh wow, ouch...my leg, my ankle, my knee, my prostate...please 'help' me get someplace safe." He said sarcastically with a roll of his eyes. Jenna didn't even crack a smile, but Max kept up the act, and hopped halfheartedly to let Kid think he was carrying him off to 'feel better'. So they hobbled on over to a nearby table to lay him down on top of it, and Kid snuggled up to him the second his head hit the table surface. He really did love that boy something awful.
Doc and Jun came out to see what was going on and were shocked to see us all so 'beat up'. The looks on their faces were ones of horror, it made me wonder just how fucked up I was. Did we really look THAT bad? Geez, if Doc and Jun look this concerned, I can't IMAGINE what's gonna happen when BRYSON gets a look at...
"OH MY GOD!!! WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO YOU?!?!?" Bryson's voice carried throughout the entire junkyard as he came rushing out of his truck to come see what had pulverized us so badly.
"Bryson...look...we can explain..." Dion started.
"EXPLAIN??? What the hell is there to EXPLAIN??? Jesus, what happened to Max?" He shouted. "Gyro? Who hit Gyro? What's wrong with Taryn? Somebody talk to me!"
It was hard to tell if he felt as though he let us down by seeing us hurt..or if WE let him down by getting hurt in the first place. "We..ran into some trouble tonight." Jenna told him, and he moved over to the table to tend to Max.
"Doc...?" He asked.
"Get whatever left over aspirin and clean disinfectant wet wipes we've got in the first aid kit and bring it over here."
Max lifted his head, "Don't be weird, Bryson, I'm FINE. I don't need aspirin, and I sure as hell don't need any 'wet wipes'."
"They're not for you." He told him. "They're for me. Now lay back. You've got a lot of hairline fractures in here, I can feel them."
Bryson lifted his shirt and ran his hands over Max's chest. It had giant black and blue bruises all over it, and Max seemed to suddenly get a little uneasy. "Dude...really...you don't have to. I said I'm alright. I'll be good as new in a couple of days, once I get two or three sleep cycles in..."
"Don't be ridiculous. I can heal twice as fast from something like this and you know it." Bryson answered, ready to put his extra to good use. Max protested some more, but Bryson put a hand on his shoulder and physically forced him to lie still. "Listen...alright? You can fight. Better than I can, anyway. What happens if something happens in the lot huh? What if the Raiders come back? What if scavengers wander through the neighborhood..or somebody comes here looking for Justin? I need you in tip top shape at all times to help to protect this family. Now lay down and shut up, you're fucking up my concentration."
With that, Bryson laid his hands on Max's skin and closed his eyes. We all watched as the process began. This wasn't like the small amount of cuts and scratches that Rain had taken away from me the first time she used Bryson's extra to heal me. This was a much more focused and complete act. Bryson's knowledge and practice of his extra had become so fine tuned that we could literally 'see' the healing take place right before our very eyes. Not just the gashes in his skin, not just the darkened bruises...but even the bones healed with Bryson's expert touch. Max jerked and gritted his teeth a bit as the injuries healed themselves, and we all winced when we saw that same pain transferred to Bryson instead. I could almost see his ribs break, his face swell, the skin on his arms turn black and then purple with painful marks and scrapes. I had never really seen Bryson do anything like this before. And to be honest...it was extremely painful to watch.
Comicality was right...each individual extra was made for a specific vampire, and no one else could ever hope to use it more effectively than the person that ability was meant for. I just wish Bryson didn't have to go through so much....sufering in order for it to work.
Finally, after a minute or two of seeing Bryson take Max's pain away, he opened his eyes and tried to pretend that it didn't hurt as much as it did. "Better?" He asked Max, who was quickly getting up from the table.
"Yeah. Yeah...I'm fine." He said, almost looking 'ashamed' for letting him do it.
"Are you sure that's everything? Let me see your back..."
"NO! It's...it's ok. I'm good. Honestly." Max backed away from him, and Kid was instantly magnetized to his side once again.
Bryson knew better than to pursue Max's healing any further, so he just..kept going. "Gyro...come here, let me look at you."
Gyro looked down at his feet, not moving. As though he could hide in plain sight. Someone else who didn't want to put Bryson through the misery of making them feel better. But Bryson wouldn't stand for any of us to go to bed so banged up. I couldn't understand why he had this psychotic need to heal what was ailing us at the time, and I'm sure that whole 'you can fight' idea was all bullshit...but...at the end of the day, he felt it was his job to protect us. To look after us no matter what the circumstances. Maybe that's the last part of humanity he has left within him. The one personality trait that gave him that extra in the first place. To take our pain onto himself...and embrace it as his own. It's not even his burden. Why would he bother?
Then again...with the Vampire Dawn rising in my near future...I have to ask myself the same question. Why bother?
"Oww!" Gyro squealed as Bryson touched his broken nose, and absorbed the painful blow into his face. I saw blood trickle out of Bryson's nose, and he wiped it off on his shirt, feeling the pain from touching his nose.
"Ok...who's next? Justin...are you hurt?" He asked.
I didn't dare. Even if I had walked out with only a scratch, I wouldn't have let him touch me. "Bryson...I can...I can 'help'...if you want me to.."
"You wanna help me? Then somebody tell me why you guys came back to the lot looking like somebody pushed you into a trash compactor tonight."
There was a silence as we all waited for one of us to begin. Neither one of us really knew how to explain it. Thankfully, Dion had the strength to start speaking first. "We had a run in tonight...at the club."
"The club? What club?" Bryson asked, getting up and walking over to Jenna to touch the bruise on her cheek. When Bryson didn't get an answer, he asked again. "WHAT club? What 'run in'? Somebody talk to me." And then he looked over at Taryn as he seemed to be trying to secretly 'hide' himself behind Rain. "What's wrong with Taryn? Come here, let me see..."
Taryn backed away from him and Rain stepped forward to protect him. "Let it GO, already! Alright? He's fine."
"He doesn't look fine to me. Why is there so much blood on his shirt?"
"I SAID he's fine! He's got enough to deal with without your 'daddy complex' treating him like a baby. We all just wanna forget about it..."
"FORGET about it?" Bryson said with a raised voice. He walked closer and Rain put out her hand to stop him, pressing against his newly cracked ribs. "Taryn? Come on...tell me. What happened?"
Taryn seemed so frail at that moment. His head dropped, and he seemed to feel so unbelievably bad for not being able to say it out loud. Rain got angry, and pushed Bryson again. "He doesn't wanna TALK about it! Why can't you just leave him alone?"
"I'M JUST TRYING..." Bryson started to yell, but caught himself and attempted to speak calmly. "...I'm just trying to help, Rain. I need to know what..."
"You don't need to know SHIT, Bryson! And he shouldn't have to tell you if he doesn't want to! You weren't there so stay out of it!"
"Dammit Rain..." Bryson reached for Taryn, and saw the painfully deep teeth marks ripped into the side of his neck. Rain tried to keep him away from Taryn completely, and a moment later, they were almost struggling with one another. "STOP IT!!!" He scolded her.
"Some people don't need to be 'saved', Bryson! Some people don't WANT to be 'watched', and 'healed', and 'protected', all the time! Sometimes people just want to be left the fuck alone!" She screamed, and the rest of us were starting to move in to break them up before things got any worse. For two people who supposedly share 'feelings' for one another, nobody hides it better than they do. Finally, everything came to an end with Rain shouting, "GOD!!! I HATE YOU!!!" And she took Taryn and stomped away from him to go to her private little corner of the lot, roughly pushing little Gyro out of her way as she walked past. Bryson was visibly shaken by all of this...and deeply hurt, I'm sure. It was in the air around me. I know Jenna felt it too, because her eyes began to water up immediately. And to be honest, I think mine did too.
Bryson didn't look at the rest of us, and he didn't ask any more questions. He stared at Rain and Taryn for a second or two as they turned their backs on him...and when Doc finally rolled up to give him the supplies that he needed...he didn't even react.
"I got the stuff you asked me for..." But before Doc could get it out of his mouth, Bryson turned around with a painful roll of his eyes and marched back to his truck without saying a word. "Okaaayyyyy...maybe we'll just do it over there then." Doc mumbled, and turned his wheelchair around to follow behind Bryson's footsteps. I know that Bryson meant well, he always does. But I've never seen him and Rain get into it this badly before. It was almost scary to see.
I noticed Taryn stopping Rain for a moment to go back to our trailer. He was still holding the side of his neck, and when he opened the door, I made sure to hurry over to be with him. Maybe he'll talk to me. Maybe he'll tell me that it's not my fault and he'll forgive me. At least that's what I was hoping. But when I reached the trailer door and opened it, I saw Taryn standing inside with his shirt off...his porcelain white skin stained with the purplish brown residue of dried blood...the gash in his throat almost unbearable to look at. And...he had laid out a few t-shirts and pants and underwear on the mattress. Almost as if...he was packing or something.
"Taryn...?" I asked softly, asking a million questions all at once with my tone of voice alone.
Taryn's eyes met mine for a timid moment, then his gaze was weighed down to the floor. He busied himself with gathering a few more things, refusing to look at me again...and I heard a few sniffles as he hid his eyes from me. "I'm uh...I'm going to stay with Rain for a few nights. I just...need someone to talk to...about...things." He kept his back turned, but the pain was still evident with every tremble of his angelic voice.
I stepped further inside, and tried to get closer, but he moved further away from me. It stung. It felt like a needle being driven into my heart. Why couldn't he just...LOOK at me! "Taryn...about tonight..."
"I don't want to talk about it, Justy, ok?" He said, his voice trembling even more as the sniffles became more frequent.
"I didn't know, Taryn. I didn't know he was your little brother, I swear." I said, feeling my bottom lip quiver as I fought to find the words that would make things alright. "Everything was happening so fast...and there was so much chaos in the club..."
"Justin...please. Don't do this."
"He was hurting you. I would never let ANYONE hurt you! Not ever!" He was quickly picking up his stuff now, balling it up in his arms as he tried his best to just get out of there. "Taryn? Please talk to me? Look at me?"
He did, but only for a second. "I'm sorry, Justin. I just...I need to be alone right now. Ok?"
"Why?" I said, feeling a tear slip from my eye. "You can talk to Rain, but you can't talk to me? Is that it?"
He lowered his head for a second, his reddish brown hair sliding gracefully forward. And he said, in the softest voice imaginable, "She's the only one who understands right now. She's the only one who really knows what happened." He glanced up at me again, his tears flowing freely now, and I hugged him around the neck, holding him as he trembled lightly in my arms. I could feel him sobbing inside my embrace, and while his hands slid around my waist for a quick moment of comfort, he soon let go, and pushed me away. "I'm sorry. I have to...I have to go. I can't be here with you right now."
He pushed his way past me while wiping his eyes, and I stood paralyzed as my mind tried to analyze that last comment. He walked out of the trailer, and I quickly walked out behind him. "Wait...what do you mean you can't be here with me right now? What's that supposed to mean?"
He kept walking, not looking at me at all. "Just what I said."
"Just what you...?" He kept up a fast pace, and I had to put a hand on his shoulder to stop him. "Can you just...STOP for a second? Please?"
"Don't do this, Justin. Not tonight. Just walk away."
"What the hell is going on here? I SAID I was sorry! I said it a million times!"
"You just...you don't understand, ok?"
"I TOLD you...I didn't mean to hurt your brother!" I shouted, more hurt than angry.
And that's when he looked me directly in the eye and asked me, "Oh really? And how can you be so sure, Justin?"
"I've seen what you're capable of...many times. Or have you forgotten?" He said. "Who knows, Justin? Maybe 'hurting people' is what you're good at Maybe that's what you were meant to be."
I don't think any other words could have ripped a bigger hole in me than those did. I nearly collapsed from the hollow ache that I felt eating away at me from the inside out. "That wasn't me..." I sniffled. "...I was trying to protect you. He would have killed you, Taryn. He would have killed you."
And Taryn saw Rain waiting for him not far from where we stood, and he said, "I left him, Justin. I left my baby brother behind. Maybe I deserve it." And with that, he took his clothes and walked away from me to hide in some dark corner with Rain. Evidently she's the only person he trusts now. Since I'm such a 'danger' to myself and to others.
"He doesn't mean it, Justin." Dion's voice seemed so soothing when I heard it glide over my shoulder. "Taryn...he's been missing his life for a long time. We all have. And the most painful thing he ever had to do in his life was leave his little brother behind."
"I didn't mean to hurt him Dion. I was just trying to keep everybody safe" I said, more warm tears running down my cheeks. "What was I supposed to do?"
Dion stepped up and turned me to face him. "Justin...you did what you had to do, when you had to do it. That's all that's expected of you, remember?"
"I don't wanna hear that shit right now, Dion."
"Justin, just listen to me..."
"NO! I don't wanna HEAR it! I fucked up! AGAIN!!!" I said, my body trembling violently at this point. "I shouldn't have come here. I never should have 'infected' you all with my diseased corpse of a life. Everything I ever touched turns to shit. If anything...I'm gonna end up getting him killed."
I leaned back against a nearby Mustang and slid down to the ground, laying my head on my knees. Dion gave me a second to cry in peace, but then slid right down next to me. "You know, we've been through this before. With Taryn, I mean. There was a time when we were all certain that the depression he was going through was going to devour him whole. None of us could really keep track of him from one night to the next. He wouldn't feed, he wouldn't speak much...he just shut down. And, well...things didn't really get much better...until he found you." I glanced up at him for a second, and he used his hand to caress my cheek as he wiped away a stray tear with his thumb. "I can clearly remember the change in him. It was like seeing the blossoming of a dead flower. A miracle. He was writing in his diary every day, he started going out a bit more, he stayed at the Pier constantly...just hoping to see you again. I think...something about your pain mirrored his own. I think he marked you as one of the only people who could truly understand. And his attachment to Rain is pretty much the same, she just happened to get to him first, so it's been longer." He gave me a little smile, but I was too emotionally weak to give him one in return. "There's...more to this story, Justin. But it's really not for me to tell." He said, placing a soft hand on my back to rub a few big circles on it before getting up to his feet again. "Give him time. And when he comes home...you two can talk about it. Just don't force it, ok? Taryn can be fragile about this sorta thing. He breaks easily if you're not careful."
I was still crying a bit, but wanted to make myself clear, "I didn't want to hurt people, Dion. I never wanted to hurt anybody."
"I know. We all know."
"But...sometimes...I can't help it. Sometimes I feel like I'm losing my mind completely. And when I do...when I'm feeding off of that power...it feels good. It feels so good. And I'm scared that I'm gonna like it too much to be able to stop."
"You're NOT losing your mind, Justin. You just have to learn to find a way to control it."
"What if I can't?" I asked him, sadly wiping my eyes. "What if...I'm what all those people think I am?"
"All of what people? Justin..."
"The vampires on the PIER! And at the club! You didn't hear them. You didn't hear what they were thinking. But I did. They called me a 'destroyer', and a 'mad man', and a 'blasphemer'. 'Angel of death', they said. Zero said the last Mimic went completely insane, and they sent out hunters to murder him before it was too late." I said, more tears appearing as fast as I got rid of them. "What if they find out about me? What if they send too many for me to fight at once?"
"That's NOT gonna happen, Justin. You're safe here with us, I swear it."
"I'm not safe ANYWHERE, Dion! Neither are any of you. They'll hurt you, hurt Bryson, hurt Taryn...they're not gonna stop!" I said, and Dion tried to get me to relax. "I can feel it, Dion. I can feel it all the time. Always getting stronger, always looking for some kind of release. And when 'Rage' showed up at that club tonight...something inside me...changed."
"Changed?" He asked. "Changed how?"
"I don't know...it was like...some other part of me took over. And it...it challenged him. Some deep dark part of me really wanted to crush him inside of all of that rubble. And the more he fought me...the more that other...'person' wanted him dead." Dion gave me a strange look, not really knowing what to say to that. And it made the tears begin all over again. "I don't think I'm going to be able to hold this in much longer. I don't know how long I'm going to be able to keep any of this power contained. And I'm soooo scared that I'm never going to be able to get back to being me again."
It was one of those moments when I wish Dion had some of his usual words of wisdom for me. When I wish he could rain down on me with a calm and cool collection of answers like he used to. But when I looked up into those big brown eyes of his...I didn't see any. There was compassion, and friendship, love, and caring, present...but no answers. None.
"We're working on it, Justin. And we're gonna get you some help. I don't know how, but somewhere out there...there's a vampire that knows exactly what you need to keep yourself balanced. And we're gonna find them. I give you my word...we're not gonna lose you to this. We'll get through it. Together."
And with that, Dion offered me a hand, providing me the extra strength that I needed to get back up on my feet. And I could only hope and pray that it would be enough. Because that storm that I felt brewing on the horizon for oh so long now...was finally here. And I was stuck outside with no shelter from the rain.
Not for me.
And not for the people I love.
The darkness is upon us all. And I'm finding it hard to figure out if I'm the one bringing it...or if I'm the one causing it.
And a very big hug to the "Gone From Daylight" fan base that has kept this story going for so long! ((Hugz)) For more info, stop by the "GFD: Blood Bank" fan site to read submitted stories, poems, pics, and other spin-offs of the series! Also with it's own vampire "Blood Bank" message board! And if you wanted to check out the official "GFD" Bible of information, head on over to the "GFD: Wiki" site! With character profiles, vampire vocabulary, and much much more! Cool? Thanks again, and I'll seezya soon!