I didn't want there to be any eyes staring at me at the moment. Especially once I saw Jenna and Max talking to Bryson about what really happened at the club tonight. I half expected Bryson to just want to be left alone, considering the harsh blow that Rain had just delivered straight to his pride. But as always, his duty to the rest of the family far outweighed any personal miseries he may be dealing with. I think he'd seriously worry himself into a coma if it meant keeping us safe. I guess it's something we all do when it comes to protecting that which we value most. Even when it hurts...it can provide some kind of purpose. Even if that purpose is just a temporary distraction from the pain that's slowly killing us from the inside.

Something about it reminded me of what Com told me in the dream. And it made me wonder if maybe...Bryson was creating his own 'Beast' somewhere in the ether. Feeding it with all the suffering and hurt feelings he had while attempting to push it aside for the greater good. The noble cause. And if Comicality and Bryson were both doing it to protect what they treasured most...how long until I found myself doing the same. Willingly succumbing to madness and the undeniable psychosis of giving up your own LIFE and happiness for something else. A moral duty that you couldn't be swayed from, not even by your own demons...as they murder you slowly from the inside. How much longer until I'm consumed by the same obligation? How much longer until my life and joy matters less than the lives and joys of the people I serve?

And what choices will I make....when I'm forced to defend Taryn's life by giving up my own? Strange...I think I already know the answer to that question. And it doesn't really provide me much comfort. Not at all.

I left the main 'circle' of our little camp in the lot, hoping to find a secluded spot so that I could think. There were so many quiet parts of the lot where someone could go and not be disturbed...but sometimes it felt like they had all been 'claimed' by one person or another. Rain had her little hideaway, Jun had his place to meditate, Trevor and Michael had a place to kiss and make out, not that they minded doing it right out in front of the rest of us most of the time. But not me. I never really needed one before now. So...since I didn't have Taryn by my side to keep me stable, I decided that maybe it was time to find a quiet place of my own in this dirty old junkyard. Maybe that's what I needed. A private spot away from everybody else where I could get my thoughts together and figure things out.

I walked off by myself, just to wander through the abandoned areas of the wreckage and see if I could find myself a place to call...I dunno...'home' maybe? Taking a closer look at the stacked automobiles, different makes and models, different shapes and colors, all in their own state of 'demolition'...I found a certain beauty in it all. I don't know why. Most people would just see junk and and scraps and twisted metal...but I had been here for so long...so VERY long...that it was getting kinda hard to remember life without it. Life in an actual house. With a bed...and a television...and a working phone. Magazines, and video games, and music. Interaction with normal people, in normal places...during the da. That seems like it was so long ago. It's so weird to be stripped of soooo much of my former life and...just not miss it any more. If I had even considered running away from home before, I would have freaked out over all of the stuff that I'd be leaving behind. All of those little gadgets and gizmos, trinkets and treasures, that I once held on to for dear life for fear that I'd lose a big piece of 'ME' with them. But...they suddenly seem so meaningless now. Now that I've been without those materialistic pleasures for almost a year...something unexpected has happened. I realized that I never really needed them in the first place. I found other things in my life to be happy about. Other things to cherish, things that I wanted to hold on to. Bigger things. Love, and knowledge, and safety, and comfort, and friendship. The kind of 'materials' that no amount of money can buy. Even more, I feel like I know myself better than I ever did before in my human life. Even when I'm confused as hell about what I am and what I'm supposed to do...I feel like my foundation of 'self' is infinitely stronger than it used to be. And suddenly, little things like being gay, and high school bullies, and not being able to stay out past curfew...they seem like such insignificant problems to me. And I find myself wondering why I gave those problems so much power over me when there was so much more for me to appreciate about my life. I don't know. Maybe I've just gone crazy. Or maybe this immense power growing inside me has affected my ego to the point where I don't care any more. But...the fact is...I feel as though I can handle the best and the worst of whatever fate can throw at me. And that confidence only falls short when it comes to defending the people I love. Only THEN...do I begin to worry again.

I walked through the maze like wreckage some more, seeing the bordering fence of the place in the distance. I almost didn't want it to end. I wanted the lot to go on forever. An infinite world of my own where everything made sense. Afraid that once I had truly become familiar with every inch of it, its novelty would wear off, and it would just become another 'prison' for me. A place with walls that I was scared to step out of...for fear that all of the unknown parts of the world would swallow me whole if given the opportunity. It's a strange feeling, but one that I don't think I want to shake. It's comforting to have a place familiar enough to call home. We need it. It's human nature to establish roots and wander through it with your original starting point in mind. Hmmm...maybe that's a part of the Dawn's teachings. Maybe I'm supposed to be writing these thoughts down...for others to see someday. To maybe arrive at the truth the same way I did. Through trial and error...a mixed up mind searching for an answer. Or maybe even a whole variety of answers. Anything that will help me understand. And then elevate others to do the same.

Wow...like, my own scriptures. Geez...how am I supposed to expect anybody to find any wisdom in what I've got to say. I'm an idiot at best.

I wish this was a burden put in someone else's skilled hands. Someone with more experience. More vision. Fate could have seriously made a mistake when it chose me to be a Mimic. I've never been much of a leader. Probably never will be. What do I have to build off of but pain and heartache, spanning the entire length of my young existence. Thinking back to the mental 'voices' I heard on the Pier...they already knew I was a fraud. A stranger. A helpless little boy with no understanding and no blueprint whatsoever when it comes to explaining anything to anybody. Even if I had the answer, even if I held the truth in a glowing orb of light over my head with both hands and showed it to the entire world...who would listen? Who would stop judging me long enough to hear what I have to say? How can I expect anyone to respect my message....

..When my life has had so little meaning for me up until now?

I continued to search, turning one corner after another, not really concentrating on where I was going. As long as I didn't run into that dreaded fence, the limiting boundary of my perfect world here at the lot, I figured that I would be ok. It was quiet times like these that thoughts of my old life began to creep back into my current thoughts. Like accidentally catching the static filled broadcast of a television show in between stations. Slightly fog covered memories of my Mom...and my life. My neighborhood...and my school. They were becoming more and more distant with every breath that I took. It almost seemed as though I had dreamed the first life altogether. Made it up as some kind of strange fantasy that would explain how I got here...to this dark place in my life. Details were beginning to fade. Little details. And I naturally tried to fill in the gaps with my imagination of how I thought it used to be. Funny...everything about my life seems so much brighter and more amazing...when I'm looking back on it.

It's so weird, the things that you forget when you're in darkness. How long had it been since I even used my last name? Or was asked for my phone number, or my address, or worried about how much money I had in my pocket? When was the lat time I even cared about what 'time' of night it was unless it was nearing the dawn? I couldn't tell if these thoughts were normal or not for a vampire in his first year. But I can honestly say now that I see why they call this life 'darkness'. Because that's exactly what it was. Not just an absence of the sun...but the darkness inside of our hearts...spreading and enveloping every part of you that you allow it to touch. Never slowing down. The dark feeds on your past, obscuring it and wiping out everything that you left behind, until it hurts more to hold on to it than it does to let it go.

It made me wonder how far gone the memories of Alec and Taryn's former life were before they came slamming back into his reality tonight. How much had he forgotten? How 'lost' were his attachments? For me, it had only been months, but it had been a decade for Taryn. A DECADE! How does someone deal with something like that? What happens when your old life and your new life collide? I'm starting to hope and pray that I never find out.

I walked even further...hoping to keep my mind from running around in circles the way it was. My ribs and back still hurt a lot from fighting Alec in the club. My arms were deeply bruised from even attempting to block some of his powerful punches and kicks. And one or two of my TEETH were actually loose on the right side of my mouth, causing me to play with them a little bit involuntarily with my tongue. God, I hope those heal back straight. My mom paid a lot of money to get me braces when I was 12 or 13...I'd hate to screw up all that framework and extended agony NOW by having my teeth heal back crooked during my next sleep cycle.

So many thoughts. So many.

It got to the point where I just zoned out and had no idea where I was or where I was going. It seemed somewhat ironic, considering my current state of mind. But it was then that I heard a strange sound behind me, and when I turned around...I saw all of these stray pieces of metal being dragged in the dirt behind me. There was a long trail reaching outward, and I wondered if these things had been following me the whole time. I took a step back, and the metal pieces were dragged along with me. Tiny pieces of broken glass, rocks, sparkplugs, and trash were all....following my very step. I sighed out loud at the sight of it and tried to back up a bit faster with three or four giant steps. But the debris pursued me diligently, no matter what.

"Go away!" I said out loud, trying to turn whatever strange extra I had working at the moment to the 'off' position. But the scraps kept floating above the ground, defying my order. "Stop it...just...just stop it" I whispered, and closed my eyes, trying hard to concentrate. And then..once I opened my eyes again and moved back...the trash didn't move to chase me any more. But 'other' things were self activating all by themselves. I could feel them. Even if I didn't know what the hell they did.

My abilities could slip in and out like annoying family visitors from out of town. To say that I had any kind of real 'control' over them was a bad joke at best. There were too many for me to really define or get a handle on. I saw my shadow begin to stretch out in front of me all by itself..longer and longer, and I tried to mentally put it back into its rightful place, but that only warped it until it was strangely misshapen. Not resembling me at all. I attempted to pull it back in...and with a little concentration, it started to work....at first.

But as soon as my focus went to fixing my own shadow...something else slipped out from under my watch. I felt the hair on my arms prickle up, and tiny little shocks of static electricity began to swirl and pop in the air around me. I attempted to divide my attention and suppress that particular extra as well. It took a lot of effort, and I had to try to remain calm...but it seemed like it was working. Until I took notice of the small rocks and sparkplugs in front of me as they slowly rose up off of the ground again and levitated in mid air. Only about knee high, but they hovered there peacefully for a moment before they started to move towards me, bouncing off of my legs as though they were weightless. No...that's not how I stop this. I tried to gently push them back down to the ground...and nothing was happening...so I focused a little bit harder. And suddenly...the heaviest pieces of debris SHOT forward and rammed into the side of a nearby car door so hard that they dented the metal of it. Some of the metallic pieces actually 'piercing' through the metal.

Okaaaaaay.....so maybe that was too much 'juice'.

Come on, Justin...THINK! How hard can this stuff be? I attempted to hush my mind and just keep things a bit more steady, but it wasn't easy. Every time I tried to quiet one extra, another one would slip out of place. And when I tried to catch that one and keep it in line, two more would slip out of place. I closed my eyes again, and somehow triggered some extra that made me so dizzy that it felt like the whole world was spinning out of control. I stumbled a bit, almost nauseous from the sensation...and did all that I could do to shut that one off quickly! I experimented with a few others...and they were varied indeed. I had everything from spikes shooting out of my skin, to coughing up a black cloud of smoke out of my mouth, to creating mini 'tremors' in the ground beneath my feet, to heating the air in a nearby tire until it was almost ready to burst. I had no idea why these particular extras were activated, but each one seemed to latch itself on to a different emotion or purpose. A different experience of mine. I took another ten minutes or so to 'practice'...or at least that's what *I* called it...and while the powers themselves belonged to other vampires entirely...the emotional responses between their use of it and mine were quite similar. And once I figured that out, the abilities seemed to get stronger.

A touch of fear would trigger some, a touch of frustration would trigger others. Whatever these vampires had been through growing up...no matter what their experiences may have been...the emotions remained the same. We..were ALL the same. Whenever I thought about something painful from my life...that same pain and suffering had somehow related to all of the vampires who's extra was born out of pain and suffering. And that concept intrigued me. Any insecurities that I had about myself and my duties with this burden of mine...linked itself to many other defensive extras that I had acquired from the many vampires I had come into contact with. I could even feel Dylan's extra ready to go at my command when my more bashful emotions ere involved...and with a little nudge of thought, I felt myself bring Dylan's invisibility to the forefront, and faded out of 'sight'. It was temporary, sure, but I couldn't help but smile. Something about this new discovery helped me to..I don't know...categorize these abilities a bit better. Some were defenses, some were attacks. Some were stronger, some were weaker. Some were more obvious, and some very subtle. And with Doc's memory training still running through my mind...I could feel my brain selectively filing certain 'known' abilities away for later use. It was doing it all on its own. Like...like a factory, putting itself together to use its tools in the most efficient way possible. Somehow, my very awareness of what was happening made the process so much...'easier' than it was before. My mentality was just now beginning to evolve to the point where I could grasp the idea of the extras I had swimming around inside of my head being a true 'part' of me. It was almost like...I could SEE the design! I could decode the schematic! And all I had to do was sit back and 'feel' as my mind shuffled through the wealth of information I had absorbed, finally starting to put things in some kind of comprehensible order.

It was almost like a visible 'list' of sorts...that scrolled behind my eyelids. And the more I understood...the more my mind adapted and made room for more. It was such a rapid acceptance of power. Almost too much for me to handle at once, to be honest. And while there was still a huge '80 percent' area of total confusion in all of the powers that I had collected over the last few weeks alone...I found myself actually getting a clue about what kind of abilities I actually had at my disposal! I could feel bits of Maria, bits of Chad, bits of Max, bits of Dion, bits of Natpea, bits of Char and Becca, bits of Dash from the sanctuary, bits of the skateboarders that attacked me in the streets, bits of Jazz and Dizz from the warehouse, bits of Cato and his goons from the spice shack and Nifty Archive, bits of Tiana from her sun quest on the beach....I could feel it all! It was there, rumbling in my chest like a caged lion...WAITING for its time to be released! And....on top of everything else...I was starting to wonder if maybe...I could 'signal' these extras to work for me at will!

How cool would THAT be? To be in total control for a change?

I paced back and forth for a moment or two...wondering if this was all in my head or not, and then took the initiative to give this a try. My brain had a bunch of these extras in order after all, right? What KIND of order...I may never know. But somehow, my mind was adapting to the idea of doing more than just 'winging it' at the last minute and having random extras pop up without warning. So....I stared out about 20 feet ahead of me..mentally marking a chosen spot on the ground with an 'X'...and I tried to trig Chad's extra to take me there. I was a bit worried at first, as I did NOT want to run full speed into the side of a fucked up car and bash myself up any more than I already WAS from the night's earlier activities. But confidence was going to have to be key here.

I focused all of my energies on that one spot. Concentrate. Con-cen-trate. At one point, I was concentrating so hard that I saw an actual 'X' being drawn in the sand out of nowhere. I dug my feet into the ground a bit, and smiled, as I felt Chad's extra waiting for my command, and was starting to think that this could actually work. And then I gave myself a short, five second countdown.





And then...I BLAZED a trail from where I was standing to where I wanted to be before I could even finish the last number of the count! "...One...." Looking behind me, it took the colors of my clothes a micro second or two to catch up with my speedy movements. And I had moved so fast that it took me a moment to even realize that I was standing in a completely different place than I was before. Oh...my...GOD...it WORKED!!! Holy SHIT!!!

I tried it again, this time placing the 'X' much further away from me. And with just a thought...ZOOM! I was there! Behind me was a trail of dust that was still rising when I had reached my destination, not settling until seconds later. Sweet...ok...let's try something else.

I thought about Jazz's training back in the old warehouse, and brought that mental file to the front of my mind. And with a shift in thought...I brought my hand up from my side, palm facing the sky, and felt a build up of electricity surging between my fingertips. It got to the point where the bluish-white sparks began to circle my hands like webs of lightning. Slowly crawling over my palms, until I could hear them popping and crackling in the air. I giggled to myself, raising my hand even higher and bringing more intensity to the power of the sparks. But...soon, the electric shock started to swiftly crawl up my arm, and forced my fist to ball up tight until I couldn't relax it again. My hand cramped up, and the heat of the sparks began to BURN! "Ahh ahh ahh! SHIT!!!" I said to myself as I quickly turned the extra off and shook my arm free of the painful energy surging through it.

And yet, the smile on my face remained.

I took the idea of levitating the debris around me to a level of actual purpose, and was pleased to see it actually beginning to move and lift off of the ground with pure thought alone. I knew that third feeding was going to make my extra stronger...but I had no idea that it would feel this good. This time...I intentionally forced it to whip to the side, and a small boyish part of me reveled in the sound of breaking glass and the rocks and trash shattered the window of a nearby car. COOL! Hehehe...I had to try out some other stuff!

I tried to control what I was doing, getting a true understanding of things for the first time...but somewhere along the line....things began to spin out of control.

At some point, while trying to maintain a strange 'glow' that I was keeping around my hand...something else 'slipped'. I watched as the metal hoods of a few cars began to crumble and bend up around me as though being compacted inside some kind of giant machine. When I tried to focus on shutting that destructive off...the glow in my hand disappeared, and flames suddenly shot out of my palms! I gasped and jumped back, Maria's vocal extra leaping from my lungs...and the vibrations of my voice cause more of the windows around me to shatter in unison.

I quickly put my hands over my mouth to keep from speaking, but the shadows around me began to latch onto my arms and legs like they had done so many times before. I tried to take a single step backwards, but Chad's extra kicked in, and I found myself slamming my back and shoulders into a Volkswagen that was more than fifteen feet behind me. I winced from the pain, taking my hands down to cry out in agony. But my voice caused even MORE vibrations, which caused a stack of banged up cars beside me to topple over and nearly crush me underneath! I sped away from the destruction in time, but by the time I had stopped, I had an acidic liquid dripping from my palms, waiting to shoot webs out in whatever direction I ordered it to...and had even larger objects than before, hovering around me in some strange kind of 'orbit' that I couldn't control.

I attempted to be subtle, and get my control back....lowering the metallic objects to the ground as slowly and softly as I could manage. But then..out of NOWHERE...just as I was ready to release the objects from my telekinetic control...my eyes flared up, my vision went white, and an explosive LASER of pure energy shot out of them at top speed! Nearly blowing a fucking HOLE right through the car in front of me!!!

The force of the blast nearly knocked me off of my feet, and I couldn't shut the damn thing OFF!!! "Fuck! What the....STOP!!!" I said out loud, but the energy kept pouring out of my eyes and slamming into everything around me. I couldn't even SEE...I just heard the sound of metal being ripped apart by what I was doing. I aimed my stare at the ground and forced the laser at the dir below me until I could figure out what the fuck I was doing. I scrolled through all of the extras I had as quickly as humanly possible, trying to find the one that would shut this one down. And finally, after a highly panicked search, I found one that seemed to have an affect on it...and I was able to slowly, but surely, tone it down until I got my sight back, and the laser stopped.

It was then that I looked at the ground, and saw that the energy had dug a deep trench in the ground from where I had it focused. And that trench..led straight forward, and ended right under a three car high stack of taxi cabs. I only caught a glimpse of the movement as the stack leaned forward in my direction, ready to fall over right on TOP of me! I I hadn't been as fast as I was, I would have been crushed for sure. The cars toppled over with a loud crash, and I JUMPED out of the way at top speed to avoid the destruction!

"Huff...huff...Jesus..." I said, hands on my knees, trying to catch my breath.

"Um...what are you doing?" Came a voice from over my shoulder, and it startled the hell out of me, taking what little breath I had left. I saw Rain standing there, looking at the mess, with an eyebrow raised as though she had just caught me doing something amazingly stupid. Who knows? Maybe she had.

"Nothing." I said, standing up straight. Then she looked over my shoulder at the mess behind me. "Oh...oh THAT! It's...it's nothing really. I meant to do that."

"You meant to have three taxis fall over and almost kill you?" She asked sarcastically.

"They weren't gonna...I totally had everything under con..." I babbled a bit as her look just made me feel like even more of a dork. "...Is there a REASON that you came way out here to bother me?"

"Way out 'where'?"

"Out HERE. I've been walking around for over a half hour just trying to get away from everything in the center of the lot..." I told her.

"Then...you've been walking in circles. Because the center of the lot is right there." She pointed, and basically...I was about 50 feet from where I started.

"Oh...I uh..." But before I could even produce a lame excuse, Rain put a hand up and let me know it wasn't necessary.

"Taryn says he wants to get a few more blankets from the trailer, and you have the key. He thinks it's 'cold' over where I am, and doesn't want to wake up with the shivers." She said.

The mere mention of his name...of this situation...it's like it tuned my heart to stone. A heavy slab of concrete that I could feel slowly being weighed down into my stomach. "He...he doesn't have to leave, you know. I mean, he can stay in the trailer with me if he wants to."

"He doesn't want to, Justin. That's kinda the point."

"What did I DO?" I asked, the pain evident in my voice.

"Besides almost killing his baby brother, who knows? Bottom line is, he just wants to be away from everything for a while, and I'm trying to help. So...if you don't mind...the key, please?"

I paused for a moment, wondering how Rain could be such a bitch at this particular moment. "So...that's it? He can't even come talk to me now? He's gotta send you to ask me for the key?"

"Justin, don't be difficult, ok?" She said. "Taryn's going through a lot right now, he doesn't have time to feel sorry for your hurt little feelings too. Don't be so selfish."

"ME??? I'M being selfish?" Rain rolled her eyes and it began to piss me off. "And what about YOU? Huh?"

"What ABOUT me?"

"'Misery loves company'...that's your big game, right? It really bothers you that Taryn might actually be able to confide in somebody else BESIDES you, for a change, doesn't it? You'll take any opportunity you can to exploit his pain and get him to cry on your shoulder again, won't you?"

"In case you haven't figured it out, junior, Taryn and I have been dealing with pain and suffering together almost as long as you've been ALIVE! So don't think for one second that I don't know how to help him through it I'm what he needs right now. NOT you!"

"You know, I thought you were better than this."

"Fuck off!!! GIMMEE THE FUCKING KEY!!!" She said, and in anger I pulled the key out of my pocket and threw it over her shoulder.

"Go GET it, bitch!"

Not one for taking much aggravation from anybody, Rain suddenly exploded with a shriek, fury in her now glowing red eyes! Her fangs dropped from her gums, and she charged forward to claw at me with both hands. But my body instantly reacted to the threat, and before she could put her hands on me, an electric shock leapt out of my chest to sting both of her palms at once and stop her dead in her tracks. She painfully pulled her hands back, and we stared each other down, one waiting for the other to make the first twitch. Neither one of us blinked. And finally, after a few hardcore moments of tension, Rain turned away from me, and picked up the key.

She looked back at me, and despite the flawless surface presentation of anger...I felt a 'hurtful' vibe coming from her emotions. As though I had somehow struck a nerve. And although my little flare up was well deserved in my opinion...I almost kinda felt bad for doing it. Rain then told me, "I don't care what you think you know about me. But I'm doing this for Taryn too. I'm doing it because I promised I'd always be there."

I softened my expression a bit, hoping that I didn't do any damage to her with the 'shock' thing. "I promised I'd be there for him too, Rain."

"Trust me, Justin...you can't. Not this time." Then she added, "There are things he's not ready to tell you yet. Ok? You'll get him back soon. I'm sure of it. He won't want to stay with me long."

"Rain...I didn't mean..."

"Yes, Justin. You did. But fuck you, I don't care. You have NO idea how much Taryn had to suffer through, leaving that little boy behind. It took him YEARS to even begin to get rid of that pain. And no matter how much you, or I, or both of us, feel like WE need to be loved right now...it's Taryn that we should be thinking about. So why don't put the whole 'I Love Him More' pissing contest on hold and tend to HIS needs right now, huh?"

It hurt to hear...but she was right. I wanted to help Taryn through this. I wanted to be there. I wanted him to cry on my shoulder. But...what *I* wanted wasn't really important right now. And if...being away from me for a while was what he needed...then I'd help him out a lot more by giving him his space. Sighhh...God, there is NOTHING easy about trying to make the more mature decision.

Rain turned to leave, but I called out to her. "Rain? Take good care of him, ok?" She looked back to see my eyes water up a bit, as I struggled with the act of letting him go.

"I will."

"Oh...and...I'm uh...I'm sorry. About the 'shocking' thing. It kinda happened all by itself." I added.

"It's alright. Didn't hurt all that much." She said. "But if you ever do it again...I'll cut your fucking BALLS off and throw them over YOUR shoulder! So I suggest you get that shit under control." And with that..she was gone.

Somehow...I don't think she was kidding about that last part.

Don't worry! You'll be getting another section of "Gone From Daylight: Blood Ties" VERY soon! So keep checking back for more! K? Let me know what you think at Comicality@webtv.net or just stop by the website at http://comicality.gayauthors.org and say hello! :)