My tongue bitterly licked the front of my fangs as I attempted to keep my turbulent emotions under control. I grinded my teeth and tried desperately not to give in to what my instincts were telling me. They didn't see 'Dion' at all. The boy who was the first to break me out of the lot against Bryson's wishes when I was going stir crazy in this place. The boy who taught me to see the 'big waste' of life and helped to give me a better perspective. My instincts didn't remember the time he saved my ass from the scavengers in the subway, or from Cato at the spice shack, or who had been fighting side by side with me from the very beginning. No...all my instincts saw at that moment was an enemy. A 'threat' to my well being that needed to be destroyed in order to survive. Once I turned it loose...it would show no mercy. I knew that for sure. And yet...it was ohhhh so tempting.
"Dion...settle down. You don't know what you're doing. You're not thinking clearly..." I said, but he pushed me again.
"Not thinking clearly? Funny...I seem to be seeing things clearly for the first time." He shoved me again, and I heard a deep growl rumbling inside of my chest. My eyebrows angled themselves downward as I began to shake with rage.
"You really need to turn around....and walk away."
"And what if I don't? Huh?" He said. "What? Are you gonna kill me too? Is that it? Is that what you're threatening me with? I told you...I'm not scared of you, Justin." He reached out to push me again, but this time I felt my hands rise up to grab both of his wrists and hold them tight. I looked him in the eyes with anger. I was breathing harder now...and in my mind, the insult of Dion's attack began to take hold of my emotions. Gods are not to be challenged. "Go on, Justin. Do it." He said. "DO IT!!!" I felt my palms heating up, burning Dion's wrists in my grip. Wisps of smoke began to rise from his skin...but Dion gritted his teeth, and he didn't flinch. I increased the heat until it was searing his flesh, but he stared me down with a fury, determined to bear the pain without giving in to it. Our eyes locked gazes...and I increased the heat even more.
"Dylan was an accident. Let it go."
"If this is the best you've got...then you already lost." Dion said, and I noticed Jenna, Max, and Rain rushing over to see what the hell was going on. "I trusted you, Justin. I trusted you!"
"It...wasn't....my...FAULT, Dion!" His skin continued to burn, and the guilt of what I was doing to him began to add to the darkness taking over my thoughts.
"I could KILL you for what you've done! Or...I could let you kill me. Either I'll have vengeance...or peace."
"You don't mean that..." It began to hurt. He hated me. How could someone I cared sooo much for actually hate me this way? My emotions were all over the place...sadness, anger, remorse...I was trying to shut them down as fast as I could, but they just kept slipping out from under my control. "Dion...please..." I said, a single tear rolling out of my eye. "...Don't make me..."
I had never seen him like this. Dion's emotions were always so level. So balanced. But he was completely letting himself go...and so was I. I could feel it happening. "I've lost him, Justin. I've lost my music..."
"Dion! Justin! What are you doing??? STOP!!!" Jenna shouted. "Max!!!"
"Way ahead of you!" Max said as he moved in to try to push us apart. But I held his wrists tight, and I refused to let go. "Hey! Back the fuck off! What the hell is WRONG with you two?"
As Max's anger built up inside of him, his arms got stronger. Suddenly it was too much pressure for me to hold on, and he acted like a human crowbar to pry us apart.
"KNOCK IT OFF!!! Do you think this is gonna do Dylan ANY good at all??? DO YOU???" Max's size had always been intimidating by itself, even more so when you added his constant 'big bully' attitude. But Dion wasn't scared of him. He was hardly scared of anything. The second Max turned to point his finger in my face to tell me to calm down, Dion had already maneuvered his way around him and headed right for me. It was too fast for Max to catch him. But it wasn't too fast for me.
His fist lashed out at me, and my instincts reached up to block the blow. It was only a split second later that Dion followed up with more, and before anyone else could react...we were locked in a full blown fistfight. Dion was strong! Every time I blocked a punch I felt as if I had rammed my forearm into the corner of a cement wall. He could shut his emotions on and off so quickly that it was hard to tell if he was being strategic or just plain angry. The calm gave him focus, the emotion gave him power. It was truly his extra. I had never imagined that it could be used so effectively in a fight before. I tried to stop long enough to think, but he wouldn't let me. Never had Dion fought with such anger...and the moment I lost focus, he kicked me hard in the chest and sent me flying back onto the windshield of a car, smashing it instantly.
I had the wind knocked out of me, and my vision blurred slightly as I saw Dion's fangs extended, stomping his way towards me as he pushed Max and Jenna off of him. They tried to stop him, but it wasn't much more than a distraction.
Jenna called out, "Rain!!! Get Bryson! Tell him they're fighting! Dion, STOP!!!"
Dion moved around them and raced over to grab me by the ankle and roughly pull me down from the hood of the car. He slammed me on my back on the ground, and started to drag me over the dirt. My body reacted. Pushing my palms down in the dust, I stopped his movement, and my body lifted up to reach up and lock my ankles around Dion's neck. With a twist, I spun him to the ground and got back on my feet. My hands were shaking....my chest and back were both sore...and the shadows would no longer wait for my consent. They were there to 'protect' me at all costs. Even when I ordered them not to.
Dion charged me and dug his shoulder deep into my stomach as he tackled me to the ground. Our fists slammed into one another as we rolled over each other, shouting and grunting with every blow. We rolled until we hit a stack of tires, and we both moved to stand up again. We fought tooth and nail, trading blow after blow...and still, even though my goal was not to really hurt him...that lack of full potential was evident. I was still holding back. It burned within me...the need to fully dig into him and bring this battle to an end. Quickly. But at what cost? What cost to Dion? What cost to my sanity? If I give in...if I allow myself to go all the way...I know there would be no turning back. The only question now is...would I even want to?
A swift kick from Dion sent me spinning to the ground, and Max jumped him from behind, trying to pin his arms down at his sides. I sprung back up, and without even realizing what I was doing, I took advantage of Dion's helpless position. I took a few cheap shots at Dion's face, and when Max spun him around to protect him, I kicked Max hard in the back, sending the both of them face first into the dirt.
I felt a hand on my shoulder and spun around to lock the arm. My fist shot forward, but I was able to stop it a few inches short of striking its target. It was the long blond hair that alerted me to Jenna's presence, here arm still horribly broken from the fight with Rage. My fist was so close to smashing her in the face that the wind from it actually blew some of her golden locks back. I paused...looking closely into her light blue eyes, seeing the pain in her expression, and I stopped. Then I felt her trying to secretly manipulate my emotions with her extra to pacify me...and the anger returned. "STAY OUT OF MY HEAD!!!!" I pushed her down on her broken arm, and she cried out in agony. I saw Jun jump in to get a hold of me, but when I struck out at him, his slim body was able to dodge and block most of what I threw at him. It wasn't until Dion rushed in that he found himself overwhelmed. There was no way that he could fight both me and Dion at the same time, nor could he stop us from fighting each other. Even with Max's help. Dion pushed them back, but when I got close enough, Jun took a harsh elbow to the face, and Max...a spinning kick to his stomach, dropping him to his knees. Dion took the opportunity and kicked me backwards, escalating the hostility as Doc, Bryson, Gyro, and Rain all came over to break it up. Trevor and Michael came outside to see what the commotion was, and Taryn, hearing the ruckus, opened the door of the trailer to gasp in horror. He still had the saltwater stains of tears on his cheeks...and it created such a void within me. A pain that I deserved for what I had done...but one that was distracting me from the fight. So like everything else...I shut it down.
"HEY!!! STOP FIGHTING!!! DO YOU HEAR ME???" Bryson shouted, but we had gone way beyond his father figure status at this point. This was going to happen whether he liked it or not.
Dion grabbed me by the throat, and I tried to break his hold, but he pushed me backwards to keep me off balance. He slammed me up against a truck, and I delivered a few harsh blows to his ribs. He kneed me in the stomach, and I twisted around to flip him over my shoulder onto the hood. He was quick to spin around and kick me in the face, but I moved to jump up on the truck with him. We heard Napolean barking loudly as we traded more blows with one another, our noses bleeding, our faces bruised. In a rage, Max rammed his shoulder into the side of the truck and knocked it over on its side, causing both of us to toppled down to the ground. But we didn't stop. Dion pushed Rain to the ground when she tried to step in the way, and came at me. Our arms locked up in combat...but I was much much faster. Chad's extra kicked in until my hands were moving in a blur. And while Dion was desperately trying to defend himself, I had Jeremy's vibration extra rattling him with every punch. At the same time, I had a dark 'halo' building in my mind, and began drawing energy from the shadows around me. My extras were all being activated at once. I can't be beaten. At long last...we are reaching the peak of our abilities. This is the creature I was meant to become.
"Dude...!" Came a voice behind me, but the second he touched me, my leg kicked backwards, and I turned just in time to see Gyro flying backwards into Doc, who was brutally knocked out of his wheelchair and into the dirt. They both curled up in pain, but the fight continued. Dion's rage kept pressing me backwards, and I jumped up on one smashed car after another, with Dion chasing right behind me, swinging his fists harder and faster than ever.
We climbed up to the top of the stack, fighting high above the lot, with Dion's powerful blows nearly cracking my Radius...and despite their pains and our harsh attacks on them, Jenna, Jun, and Max, still attempted to climb up and put an end to this.
"You took EVERYTHING from me!!!" Dion screamed.
"I loved Dylan too!"
"NOT LIKE *I* DID!!! You led us into a TRAP!"
"He wasn't even supposed to BE there!!! I wanted to keep you safe!" I shouted back, but he just kept fighting. I used Dizz's extra to throw his focus to the side while I swiftly zipped right past him. But he regained his focus too quickly and grabbed me by the back of the neck, pulling me down onto my back. He held me there until a series of electric sparks crawled up Dion's arm to shock him and give me enough time to kick him in the jaw. He fell backwards just as Max wrapped his muscular arm around my neck. I brought my arm up to grab at the inside of his elbow, pushing it down on the joint so he'd be forced to bend his arm and let go of my throat. I could feel the 'demon' within me acting on its own, and I wanted to gain better control over it, but it was reacting faster than my mind could process. So I twisted Max's arm, and flipped him off of the stack of cars without thinking about how much it would hurt when he hit the bottom. Jenna was moving towards me, and I swept her feet from under her, but she held on to my ankle to keep from falling back down to the harsh ground below. Her empathic extra still trying to drain me of the anger.
I think the invasion of her mindset into mine was only making things worse. Because I could actually 'feel' it. And my body was responding with more hostility in a desperate attempt to stop it. Jun continued to find a way to 'lock me up', his arms and looks trying to restrain me while I continued to spin and duck and twist my way out of his grips. He couldn't hold me. And no one could hold Dion. Out of everyone in the lot, we were probably two of the most powerful fighters there...so their attempts were futile. No matter what the did, Dion and I continued to find ways to clash in the middle. And then...as out arms locked in combat, our punches speeding up as we each tried to score a hit on one another, with me CLEARLY being the stronger opponent...I felt my halo reaching full capacity.
when the friction between us got to be too much, I felt myself being lifted slightly off of my feet by an unseen force. It was only a foot or two off of the stack of cars beneath me, but it was definitely a levitation of noticeable achievement. It happened within a few seconds, and even though Dion kept fighting me, I was consumed by the all mighty power of the hatred within me. And without any restraint whatsoever...I screamed out loud...and let the energy go.
There was a dead silence just seconds before the blast. My brain geyser was fully charged. An emotional explosion of the conflicting confusion, anger, and misery, I felt...all combined into one concussive blast. It shot out of me in all directions, like the pulse of an exploding star...and it brutally tore through the defenses of everyone trying to contain me. Jenna, Jun, Max, and Dion were all sent off the top of the stack...knocked clean off of their feet. The others on the ground had to shield their eyes as they were nearly blown back as well. Even Taryn had to hold on a the trailer was tilted slightly and began to rock.
I swiftly dove off of the stack to catch Dion in mid air and pushed him down hard, slamming his back against the ground when he hit it. A cloud of dust flew up around us, and I started to ram my fist into him over and over again. "Are you gonna leave it alone now??? HUH??? Are you DONE?!?!?!" I couldn't even really see him through the dust, but I kept punching anyway. Over and over. Over and over. I couldn't....I couldn't stop myself. My fist it just...it just kept going against my control. Flashes of my father swept through my mind...reminding me of how much it hurt. How many times I wished he would just kill me and get it over with. Flashes of that bully in school...and how good it felt to release that anger bring him the same level of pain he had brought to me. I thought about them attacking me that night outside of my house, I thought about catching him again that night in the park with Trevor, about vicious tangles I had the Beast, about the showdown I had with Natpea at the warehouse...the rage...it felt to good to stop. The door had been opened, and the demon was loose. Powerful black wings spread on either side of me as I kept going. Punches being delivered, even after he was already down. Already defeated. It scared me. My body was so wound up, my adrenaline so high, that tears of anger flowed from my glowing red eyes. It's happening all over again, but this time it's worse than ever. Stop this, Justin! STOP this!!! Stop stop stop!!! What are you DOING? What am I doing? Am I even me right now? No...this is all wrong! ALL WRONG!
Finally, using all the will power I could muster, I held my hands still.
There lay my best friend, his beautiful face...battered and bruised beneath me. There was a momentary look of horror on my face. I stared at my hands and they were covered in ice cold shadows. Once I regained enough focus to peel the shadows back...I saw my bare knuckles nearly broken, and they were covered in Dion's blood. Ever strong, Dion remained conscious, waiting for me to finish it. He was in sooo much pain, but he refused to give up. He was ready. I never would have been that brave.
I got off of him, and tried to keep my emotional tides from drifting back in the other direction. For a quick second, Dion looked up at me...and I think he could see my struggle. He saw a part of me that he had known all along...and another part of me that he just couldn't recognize. A stranger, wearing my skin like a cheap costume. It made him pause.
But whatever it was he found familiar in me...it went back into hiding as soon as I got back on my feet. I gave him an evil look and then saw everyone else at the lot staring at me. I HATED having their eyes on me. I'm NOT an animal at the zoo! "Stop STARING at me!!!" I screamed, small licks of electricity crawling up and down my arms. I looked back down at Dion as Dylan ran over to hold him close...sobbing at the state of his beloved boyfriend. Then I looked back towards Taryn, who seemed too scared to move. His hand was covering his mouth as tears ran up and over the back of his hand. I didn't need this. They're WEAK! All of them are weak! And they're making *ME* weak just by being around them. I'd be stronger if it wasn't for them. If it wasn't for Taryn. I could be all powerful. Do you hear me? ALL POWERFUL! But first, I have to get rid of the 'sickness'. I have to find balance again. I can pull all of my separate parts back together again...and I can make myself whole. That's the only way to stop the voice. The only way to fix myself.
I turned to face the others, and I said, "If anybody else wants to take a shot at me....the get more of the same." And with that, I left. I walked right past everyone watching...and I marched out of the front gate. To be honest, I had to wonder whether or not I wanted to ever come back. What for? They did what they could to make me a strong vampire...but I'm beyond them now. There's nothing else they can do for me. Nothing else they can teach me. Perhaps it's time I moved on...and began my works towards the Vampire Dawn.
I'm not sure how long I had been walking. The night was at its darkest. I hid my swollen knuckles by keeping my hands in my pockets. It was a bit painful, but it saved me from getting too many strange looks from people passing by. The city lights bore down on me with a judgement all their own. Now that I was out of the heat of the moment and had time to think...an uncontrollable sense of shame wrapped its coils around my heart and squeezed it hard. My chest felt heavy. What had I done to Dion? What had I done to Taryn? I hurt my family. I hurt them all worse than ever. They won't forgive me for this one. I know they won't. The one rule that Bryson always made perfectly clear was that he wouldn't tolerate having his family put in harm's way. He's not gonna just let me exist as a constant threat to everything he's built in that place. People he cares about. People he loves. I don't even know if I should show my face long enough to go back and get my stuff.
I had this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, and I sniffled a bit as my emotions all let go at once. Whatever I was holding back with Dion's extra...once it was deactivated, they came back with a vengeance. And it hurt. God....it hurt. Tears rolled down my cheeks, and I got off of the main street, dipping into a nearby alley to collect myself.
I couldn't get a grip on my feelings at all. Somewhere in my mind, the confusion kept swirling at speeds that I couldn't keep up with. And yet...there was also something else present in there that I still couldn't place. It was the third time that I had been made aware of its presence. It bothered me that I wasn't able to define it, as it remained a splinter in my every thought. A hint of another mindset entirely. But it wasn't Alec...not this time. I could tell his 'anti-light' presence from all others. But this one was different. Familiar, yes. But whatever it was, it wasn't ready to show itself just yet. Or perhaps...I wasn't ready to understand it yet. Maybe it was my own inexperience that kept me from fully embracing the idea. But that bright swirling light was there...and something about it felt...soothing. Something tells me that the key to my balance might lie somewhere in that illuminated void. If only I could mature enough and find the right path to lead me to it. And that seemed like such a far way off from where I was. So unbelievably distant.
How could I even begin? And how do I know that I won't get lost along the way?
I attempted to wipe my tears away, but more just kept pouring out of my eyes. I held my breath as I nearly choked on the bottled up emotion, my throat burning with self loathing. I had to put both of my palms down on the top of a nearby dumpster just to hold myself up straight. It was so painful, my heart so damaged with guilt, that I could barely stand it. I held on tight, my battered knuckles giving me twinges of pain as I attempted to brace myself. I couldn't stop the misery. It was overwhelming me from the inside. My humanity...what little was left of it...was dying. Slowly. painfully. And the fact that I couldn't get control of it started to make me ANGRY! My emotions began to shift all over again...I was so helpless. They swung back and forth so quickly. I felt my hands gripping the top of the dumpster so hard that the metal nearly bent in my grip. Pull it back, Justin. Pull it back...
I couldn't find a middle ground between the sorrow and the fury...so I had to reactivate Dion's extra and shut my emotions down completely again. you have to understand, I had no choice in the matter. It may make me cold and heartless, but it's the only thing stopping my temperamental emotions from eating me alive.
A fury came over me as my instincts felt themselves being silenced, and in anger, I kicked a DENT into the side of the dumpster, knocking it up against the brick wall, and held on to the sides of my head as I fought to block out the frustrated voices inside of me. Arrghhh...FUCK!!!!
And then...as the extra took control...silence. At long last...silence. The tears stopped, the rage faded, and I was able to stand straight up again and let go of the dumpster. It almost didn't feel real, being void of emotion. But it was better than the alternative.
It was that state of mind that finally made it possible for me to walk back out onto the street again. Not caring. When you don't care...you're not as vulnerable. You're not as scared. Life is so much simpler when you're not required to give a shit. If only I could have found this ability sooner. If only I could have lived this way in daylight. My emotional armor would have been strong enough to handle anything. And I wouldn't have to be here like this. I wouldn't have to worry about anything.
As I walked out to the edge of the city, back to the constantly churning waves of Lake Michigan, I wondered how long I could maintain this lack of feeling. I wondered if I could erase the pain in my life long enough to focus. Long enough to make things better. But then...I thought back to what I was told Comicality about the creation of the Beast. It worried me. What happens if I end up doing the same thing? If I push my own inner demons aside for so long that they manifest into a Beast of their own? Or maybe add to the one already haunting me. The longer I wait, the stronger they become. The harder they'll be to defeat. If only it was as simple as hiding from all the bad things in my life. If only I could ignore it all and snuggle up under a blanket with Taryn...leaving the rest of the world behind. But I guess that's not reality, is it? I'm not going to be able to hide for much longer. If Dylan's lethal wounds taught me anything tonight...it's that the stakes are MUCH higher than they ever were before.
I sat by the dark waves, staring out into the night sky...a silver moon being reflected on the surface as a cool wind blew a few strands of light blond hair out of my face. I looked to my left, and in the distance, I could see the long stretch of Navy Pier. I was...difficult to think back to that lonely night, when I first gazed into those turbulent waters and thought that....death was preferable to a life of constant pain.
The more I thought about it, the more I could feel emotions slipping in past my wall of defenses. It was a struggle to keep detecting new breaks in my wall...but I did all I could to block it out. I can't let it sink in. I can't deal with the pain right now. I have too much to do. Too much to fight for. I'll just...I'll wait until I have time. Until I can...give it the desired amount of concentration and have the right amount of privacy. THEN I'll cry. THEN I'll face my conflicts and straighten them out. But not now. Not now. I have to...push them aside. I have to bock out the agony long enough to do what I'm supposed to do. Once I find the message and deliver it to the rest of my kind...I can put it behind me. I can go back to living without this 'expectation' to perform miracles. I can finally be just like everybody else. It's all I've ever wanted. Is to just be left alone. Sometimes...the spotlight is too bright for anyone to bask in it for longer than needed.
"Still feeling like a fish out of water, are we?" Came a voice from behind me. I knew exactly who it was from the second he opened his mouth...and I shut down immediately, hiding as much emotion from him as I possibly could.
"How did you find me?" I asked quietly.
I peeked out of the corner of my eye as Trevor's pretty face came to sit down beside me on the concrete. Even from my peripheral...his slightly wicked smirk was evident. "You know...the lake isn't such a great hiding place for you, Justin. Taryn either. You are certainly two of a kind, I'll give you that."
"Maybe at one time. I doubt we'd make for good company anymore."
Trevor scoffed. "Psh! Please! If I thought for one moment that there would be any force on Earth that would stop Taryn from worshipping the ground you walk on...I would have taken advantage of it long before now." He gazed out at the lake with me for a moment or two. And then said, "I don't know if I'll ever see your infatuation with this place, but I have to admit...it can be a rather soothing experience. Watching it for an extended period of time..."
"How long are you gonna bullshit me before you decide to tell me what you want, Trevor?" I said, turning to look him in the eye.
He smiled at me, staring right back. And he said, "I want to talk. We have much to discuss, Justin. Perhaps....we can help one another."