I watched as Napolean inched closer with his head down, but when Torsten and Grim growled at him for getting too close to their owner, he quickly put his tail between his legs and scurried off back to Dion's truck where he'd be 'safe'. "I don't need a whole lot of room, really. Just a place to lay my head for a while until my shop gets fixed." Jeremy said, winking at Trevor. "Of course...I wouldn't object to you and me sharing a little 'snuggle spot' like we did back in the day. You remember? A little kissing, a little touching...the Nine Inch Nails 'Downward Spiral' album had just come out...we had some wild times, you and me, didn't we?"
"Who is this?" Came a voice from around the other side of the car, and I looked to see Michael coming around to investigate this sly smile and figure out why it was pointed at his boyfriend. He stood directly in front of Jeremy and stared him in the eye.
"Name's Jeremy. And you are?"
"Trevor's BOYFRIEND." Michael said sternly. I certainly hope Jeremy wasn't looking to get into THAT little predicament.
"Really now? Does 'Trevor's Boyfriend' have a name? Or did you change it to symbolize ownership?" Jeremy smirked. But Michael was NOT pleased at all. "There's no worries, man. Seriously. I didn't know that Trevor was currently entertaining 'company'. He's had himself a few sweethearts in his day, I thought I was catching him between sausage rides, that's all." He peeked around Michael to look Trevor in the eye. "Weren't you and Taryn an item the last time I paid you a visit?"
But Michael made sure to push Jeremy back a step. "Maybe you should get your facts straight before you coming barging in on our territory, Mr. Blood Dealer."
Both of Jeremy's wolves released a deep grumble from their bellies, and Jeremy gave Michael a threatening grin. "You got a 'problem' with me, junior?"
"Nothing I can't handle." He answered. "Maybe Trevor mentioned that he's no longer available."
"Hmmm...funny thing, I didn't hear him say that at all. Maybe this 'boyfriend' of his isn't worth mentioning." I doubted that Jeremy really had any feelings for Trevor outside of a few 'interludes in the nude'...but having Michael challenge him and expecting him to back down...gave Jeremy the green light to antagonize him as much as possible.
"I, personally, think you should keep moving. You're not welcome here." Michael sneered.
"Nope, that's where you're wrong. Trevor pretty much told me that I was welcome here whenever I wanted to drop by. So this is me...dropping by."
"You want a place to stay? Try the beach. Catch a sunrise, you'll love it."
"You know, I WOULD. But...sighhh...go figure, I burn easy." Jeremy quipped sarcastically, and Trevor stood up to hopefully bring a close to the rapidly escalating conflict.
I have to admit, I was kinda surprised to see Trevor wrap his arms around Michael from behind. For a moment there...I could have sworn that I felt a moment of actual affection coming from him. More than usual, anyway. "Jeremy...dude, look, it would be kinda...you know...awkward, for us to really..."
"He's NOT interested! Get over it." Michael said, leaning back to kiss Trevor lovingly on the cheek to spite his rival, and Jeremy took the hint with a raised eyebrow.
"Sooo...you're saying that I should wait another couple of months until this infatuation has blown over like the rest of them, huh Trevor?" Jeremy said, and Michael looked about ready to bite his throat out when Bryson interfered, Jenna by his side.
"What's going on here? Who is this?" He asked, and Bryson and I looked at each other briefly as Trevor was forced to explain.
"Bryson...listen...can I talk to you for a sec?" Trevor asked, apparently ready to ask for permission for Jeremy to stay, which meant that there was a slight chance that he actually might be...well...living here with the rest of us for a while. And I wasn't sure how the hell that was even going to work.
Trevor and Bryson stepped to the side to talk in private for a second, and Michael and Jeremy stood almost toe to toe with one another, staring each other down. Michael with his wicked jealous streak, and Jeremy with his instigating smirk...each one waiting for the other to jump first. I saw Jenna clench her fists instinctively, no doubt absorbing the emotions of both parties, and I knew that they were just a few comments from getting into an altercation right then and there. I cleared my throat, hoping to clear away some of the tension, but it didn't work much. So I said something, just to break them up. "So..your lab was trashed?"
Jeremy spoke to me, but didn't take his eyes off of Michael for a second. "Totally. He made sure that it was pretty much uninhabitable by the time he left. He came down on us so hard and so fast that we didn't have much of a chance to defend ourselves." Just then we heard Bryson grown as Trevor tried to explain and their conversation got a bit more heated from the looks of it. "I take it your 'Daddy' has a problem with visitors?" Jeremy asked.
"You have no idea." Jenna told him.
"Yeah well, they made room for you, they can make room for me." Jeremy said. "You mind telling me what the hell you did to piss this other kid off so much?"
"It's a long story." I said.
"And getting longer by the minute, I'm sure. He's got a serious hard on for your boyfriend back there." Jeremy looked over at Taryn, who was currently crying on Rain's shoulder, not paying us much attention at all. I swear...I could feel his pain from across the lot. Not because of some extra ability...but simply because I loved him enough for our emotions to be forever intertwined. God it hurt to see him cry so hard. From so deep. "If you ask me, I'd say that you should keep that boy out of the streets for a looooong time. Because if that kid ever finds him...whew..."
"We need to discuss a few things here." Bryson said, now approaching the rest of us again. "You said you were attacked...what did you tell him?"
"What did I tell him?" Jeremy said with a confused look. "You mean BESIDES 'stop fucking up my place you maniac'? What are you talking about?"
Bryson stomped closer to him, but Torsten and Grim rose up on their feet with an angry growl. "This isn't a GAME we're playing here! What did you TELL him???"
"I didn't tell him ANYTHING! Geez, don't get your knickers all twisted up, old man. Do you honestly think I'd be this banged up if I had actually given the little brat what he wanted?" Jeremy told him.
Bryson was still giving him a sour look, his protection for the rest of us being compromised by Jeremy's very presence there. "Were you followed here?"
"What? No! Are you crazy?"
"How do you KNOW that? Are you CERTAIN!"
"I'm a blood dealer, dude. Don't you think I'd know how to get around town without being followed. What are you so jumpy for? I just came to stay with some friends of mine in an abandoned car lot while my place gets fixed up. That's all. You act like you were sitting on the lost City of Gold around here or something." Jeremy said, but Bryson didn't look convinced. "Look, the kid got through my defenses undetected somehow. I don't know how, but he got the jump on us. We fought it out, but the little fucker is DAMN good. So he put me through a fucking wall, and he said, 'I'll find them, no matter how long it takes. I'll find them.' And that was it. End of story."
"He didn't say anything else to you?" Bryson asked.
"Oh yeah, a whole bunch. Somewhere between him kicking my ass and practically tearing the walls down of my shack, we sat down, had some tea, and engaged each other in a nice long chat about life, love, and politics. You know...the usual." He was being his usual sarcastic self, but when he didn't get a reaction, he rolled his eyes. "Look...I'M the fucking victim here. I'm lucky to even be alive. And if I hadn't kept my biggest reserves of product in a remote location, I'd be out of business right now And it's because of YOUR little brat pack here that I'm even in this position! I tried to help them out some months ago, and this is what I get? I'm hardly the one to be shaking the 'naughty' finger at, bro."
Bryson was clearly steamed, but Trevor asked, "Jeremy...are you sure that he didn't say anything else? Anything at all?" As always, Jeremy's reaction to Trevor was a bit more productive.
"The only thing that I remember being 'strange', outside of him showing up in the first place, was that he didn't even know Justin's name. Does that help?"
Bryson's expression softened slightly. "What do you mean?"
"He didn't know him at all. I barely knew who the fuck he was talking about. And yet, when he first kicked in the door...it seemed like he was all about finding 'blondie' over here. It's like he specifically came for him first. I thought that maybe Justin was the whole reason for him being there. But after a minute or two...it was clear that he was much more interested in looking for Trevor and Taryn. I don't know why Justin even came up." Jeremy shrugged. "Maybe you should ask your golden boy over there if he's the one that led him to my place to being with."
The idea had barely sunken in before I noticed Gyro whistling happily as he walked around a few car to share a few happy-go-lucky words with the rest of us. "Hey, so what are we doing tonight? I figured we could..." He stopped dead in his tracks, took one look at Jeremy standing there, and then at his two attack wolves...and his eyes got so wide that I thought they were going to split at both ends. Jeremy gave him the usual smile. "Hiya, cutie. You remember me, don't ya?" And in an instant, Gyro stumbled backwards a bit before practically 'bolting' off to some other end of the lot where the enemy couldn't find him. "I'll take that as a yes."
Bryson saw the look in Trevor's eyes, and while Trevor was never one to beg for much of anything, Bryson could be such a softie when it came to his 'kids' at the lot. Still, he tried to keep up a strong front. Just to make it look like he wasn't giving in too easily. "How long do you plan on staying?" He said through gritted teeth.
"Not long at all, actually. My place will be rebuilt and repaired in a matter of days, I'm sure. I've got vampires working on it as we speak. And I keep reserves of all of my stock in a hidden blood bank with a close friend of mine, Uriel. He runs the place for me, and he'll be shipping me out a fresh supply as soon as he gets the transport working. I should be out of your hair, in a couple of days. A week tops." He answered. Bryson squinted his eyes, as if he was looking for some kind of trick. "Listen, Pops...I'm not looking to wear out my welcome. The idea of sleeping in old banged up cars is not my idea of a luxury suite, ok? I much rather enjoy the company of corpses and my other comforts of home. Unfortunately...I'm shit outta luck at the moment, and Trevor here owes me more than a few favors. So I figured I'd take one."
Bryson stared for a moment longer, and then called out, "Max?"
"What is it?"
"Do you think you can find our 'guest' here a wreck, and sun proof for him before dawn?"
Max looked Jeremy up and down with a frown, Kid peeking out from behind him at the new face in the lot. "No." He said, and Bryson gave him a look. "What??? I mean, besides the fact that I just don't feel like it, we don't have any wrecks left. Not any that I can sun proof before dawn. Justin's been smashing up half of 'em with his little 'accidents' I hardly have anything left to work with." Bryson had to quickly give Max the silent signal to keep quiet on my abilities and Max grunted. "I'll look around...but I'm not gonna find anything. By the time I bang the kinks out of another wreck and find the materials to tape up the windows...the sun will already be on the rise."
"What about Dylan's car?" Jenna asked. "He's staying with Dion, and most of his stuff is over there anyway."
Jeremy looked over at the small compact car, and raised his eyebrows a bit. "You sure you guys don't have, like...a limo or something?" There was a silence, and he sighed to himself. "Fine. Whatever. But I'll need a space for Torsten and Grim as well. We can't all be expected to squeeze into that cracker box."
There was a mischievous gleam in Michael's eye when he said it, and I gave him a dirty look the moment he opened his mouth. "Wouldn't you know it..I think young Justin has a newly vacated spot in his trailer at the moment. Taryn is staying with Rain, so he should have plenty of space Lots of room, soft mattress...'interesting' company..."
"You son of a bitch..." I started, but Jeremy was quick to accept.
"Sounds good to me. One nice tight ass to cuddle up with is just as good as another."
"Now hold on just a minute..." I said.
Bryson said, "I don't think that's a good idea." He looked over at me, obviously worried about me absorbing even MORE extras at Jeremy's side. Not to mention the fact that we were TRYING to keep my identity a secret! We didn't need yet another witness to what I was capable of. "Justin..he needs his space."
"I don't take up much space at all, it's no worries." Jeremy said with a tilted grin. "Right?" As though I could give him an answer. He waited for a reply, and then said, "Well, kiddo, let me put it this way...both me and my 'loyal companions' here need a place to stay. One place is in that little toy car over there, and the other is in your trailer. So...you can either share a space with me.....or with THEM." And both wolves focused their attention on me, bearing their fangs with eyes glowing a deep shade of red. Gee...some choice THAT was.
Both Jenna and Trevor looked over at me, and I silently shook my head, cursing Michael and his envy for 'setting me up' like this. But, with a pout, I finally surrendered. "Fine. Whatever. I don't care."
"Great. Can I go now?" Max grumbled, and began to walk away with Kid right behind him.
Jenna walked off to catch up, "Max...wait. Ask Doc if he's got any more bars of soap, and take Kid to the old church for a bath, ok?"
Max wrinkled up his forehead. "A bath? What for?" He said, looking down at the little boy. "He doesn't stink or anything." Kid raised his arm up and sniffed underneath, silently shaking his head to agree with his big 'brother figure'.
Jenna told him, "You don't have to wait until he stinks to give him a bath, Max."
"Fine, then YOU give a bath. I wanna go out tonight."
"I can't. I'm a GIRL, Max. You know it embarrasses him." She said. "Look at him, he's got DIRT on his face!"
"Arrrgh! What the hell, Jenna? He's a little boy for crying out loud. Let the poor kid stay 'dirty' for a little while. You keep on cleaning him up like some baby doll all the time and you'll turn him queer." Max huffed, turning to Jeremy to add, "No offense."
Jeremy responded with, "You know he's right. My mom made me take a bath every day when I was human...and I've been sucking dick ever since."
Jenna was appalled on both counts. "Ugh! You can be SO frustrating when you want to be, Max!"
"I can be a lot less frustrating when you leave me alone, Jenna." He answered. I was enjoying a bit of the show until Bryson tapped me on the shoulder and pulled me over to talk to me and Trevor in private.
The worry on his face was almost blinding. "Justin...I don't like this. We're trying to keep you safe. What happens if he finds out?"
"He WON'T tell." Trevor told him. "Look, I know Jeremy well enough to know that we can trust him. Or at least let him stay here for a couple of days without there being any big problems."
"We don't know that for sure, Trevor." Bryson said.
"I'm sorry to say it, Trevor, but your opinion in this matter is a little bit biased, don't you think?" When Bryson said it, Trevor's face hardened a bit. Almost taking offense.
"Jeremy and I might have fooled around a bit back in the day, but that's all it was. He's no more attached to me than I am to him. I know him, Bryson. He wouldn't BE here if he had anywhere else to go. And he wouldn't betray us. Not for any reason. If anything, he's been helping Justin out since his crossover." Bryson still didn't like the idea, but Trevor made a good case. "If nothing else, he can tell us what went down with Alec. If he's still looking for us, then maybe we need to know what he knows before he shows up on our doorstep here at the lot."
Bryson folded his arms, and after a brief pause, he said to me, "Justin..I don't know if you can handle being in close proximity to another vampire. If you take in any more extras..."
"I'll be ok, Bryson. I've been around Jeremy enough already where I've probably absorbed some of his extra anyway, whatever it is." I said. "Besides, you can't just stop me from ever being close to anybody ever again. I..I'm working things out. I think I might be able to handle it."
"No. I don't like it." Bryson said. "Justin, you stay in my truck, and I'll stay in the trailer with Jeremy. Or I'll get somebody else to do it..."
"Bryson...I can handle it. Ok?" I said. "Really. Just...don't worry. It's just for a few days, ok?" He wasn't really taking it well. I wasn't having much of an impact on his stubborn attitude. "Please? Just...have some faith in me. If you have faith in me, Bryson, then I KNOW I can do it. Ok?"
Bryson shot me a look, and despite struggles within himself, he said, "You two are together for SLEEP CYCLES ONLY! You got it? You keep your distance from him." Then he turned to Trevor, "That goes for you too. We've got enough problems with Michael without your little side exploits making it worse."
"Why, Bryson...hehehe...you assume too much." Trevor smiled wickedly. "I'll be a gracious host. You have my word." And he fixed his neat blond hair as he moved away to go back to the conflict. Strange. Maybe the affection I read from him before was slightly misplaced. I think he 'liked' the idea of being in the middle of two boys. Seems more in line with Trevor's personality than what I felt before.
"Justin?" Bryson stopped me from walking away by taking a hold of my arm. "Doc tells me that you shut down your communications with the Jeweler. Why?"
I stopped for a second, lowering my eyes to keep him from seeing the truth reflected in my stare. "I just...I don't need his help. He's a phony."
"Doc and Jun both seem to have a lot of faith invested in what he was saying. What makes you think he's a fake?"
"I know what he's doing. He's just spouting off lies from old scriptures and prophecies and...none of it's true. None of it. So...he can't help me Not with that ancient bullshit." I said.
Bryson held his tongue, but I knew what he was thinking. Just keep me comfortable for the time being until he can convince me to do what he wants me to do later. But I'm NOT gonna fall for it this time. I'm NOT! "If that's the case, Justin...then I want you to go back to your exercises with Jun, starting tomorrow night."
"NO arguments! I am not going to sit here and allow you to self destruct just because you're too stubborn to ask for help. When you awaken tomorrow evening, I want you to report to Doc and Jun, and begin your mental focus exercises again. And I want you to stick with them this time until we find whatever it is inside you that's making your extras go so haywire on you. Do you understand?" He said. I pouted, staring down at my feet, dreading the moment when I'd have to go back to that nightmare again. But Bryson put a hand on both of my shoulders and asked again, "Do you understand?" And I slowly nodded. He put a hand on my back, and we started walking back to join the others. His voice was so calm, so soothing. I have to admit that it felt good to put some level of trust in what he was saying. Whether it was possible or not. "I know things are tough right now...especially with you and Taryn, but...it's important that we find out what's wrong with you so we can anticipate any more problems before they happen. Alright? I care about you. We ALL care about you. And we're doing what we feel needs to be done in order to protect you from becoming unstable."
"I'm trying, Bryson." I said sadly. "I'm really trying to figure this out..it just...it won't....listen to me sometimes, and..."
"Hey...it's ok. Look, I don't know what I'm doing here either. We're all winging everything at this point. But as long as we can stay a half a step ahead of a total breakdown, we'll do alright. Just work with us, and we'll get to the bottom of it, ok?"
"Thanks, Bryson." I said, and he patted me gently before leaving me to think on my own for a while. I wanted to believe that I had what it took to be more than just a ticking time bomb...but it was getting harder and harder all the time.
"Hey, you know where I can get a...'bite' to eat around here?" Said a voice from behind me, and I saw Jeremy walk up. "I haven't fed in a while. I've already put it off for two or three days, and I'm looking to get 'right' again, you know what I mean?"
I didn't look him directly in the eye, but I answered him. Might as well start being somewhat friendly, after all. "Bryson doesn't like for us to feed too close to the lot. It draws attention. We usually go to the outskirts of town to...uhh...you know."
"Suck the blood of the innocent? Oh yes, I know it well." He grinned. "But, uh...I'm not looking to wander too far from home tonight. So...IF you were to break one of Bryson's little rules, where would you go?"
"I wouldn't break the rule. It's there for a reason." I told him.
"So you're not gonna tell me then?" I just stared at him for a second and he let it go. "Alright. Fine. I'll find my own lunch. Just thought maybe one of you was willing to get out from under the iron fist of your 'camp counselor' over there and have some fun."
"You thought wrong. Bryson takes care of us..."
"I'm sure he does, babycakes." Jeremy said, and started towards the gate. "I've already moved my stuff into the trailer, so don't bother changing anything around. Oh, and I like the right side of the bed. Hope you don't mind." He told me. "See ya later...when I've got a bit more of the 'red' in me!"
I watched him leave, wondering if I made a mistake agreeing to this. But as he walked through the gate, I felt as though there was a certain...I dunno...'emptiness' in the lot around me. Something was missing. Lacking. And I suddenly didn't feel complete any more.
It was then that I looked up...and I noticed that Rain and Taryn weren't sitting in the same place as they were before. The hood of the car was empty. I looked around to other ends of the lot, hoping to catch a glimpse of them somewhere...but I didn't see either one of them. Maybe they went back to Rain's private little spot, or maybe they were just behind a stack of cars or something and I couldn't catch them in my line of sight. But if that was the case, then why was my breath so short? Why was I getting increasingly nervous by the second?
I walked around a bit more, and when I found myself spinning in circles without seeing them, I felt my heart stop.
Max walked by, and I called out to him. "Max? Did you see where Taryn went?"
"He took the munchkin to get a bath at the old church. Why?"
My mouth dropped open. "You sent him to give Kid a bath???"
"I didn't 'send' him to do shit. Jenna insists the kid's covered with cooties or something, and he volunteered to go. God knows I didn't want to." Max grumbled.
"WHY DID YOU DO THAT???" I shouted out in a panic! "Why did you let him go out there alone??? Wha...how....MAX!!!!"
He gave me the most confusing look. "What are you talking about? He's going to a church to make sure a little boy takes a bath. I didn't exactly send him off to war, ya know." He couldn't understand why I was panicking. He couldn't see why that was the STUPIDEST fucking thing in the WORLD to do right now!!! "Hey, Justin, chill out. He took Rain with him, he's fine. Relax."
"He's NOT fine! Ok? He's NOT...FUCKING FINE!!!" I said, feeling all of my abilities rise to the surface at once. They were ready. They were waiting for my order. And when Jun and Doc came over to see what the heck was wrong with me, it was already too late to put my little magic tricks back in the box. They asked me what the problem was, but I didn't have time to explain it to them. "When did they leave?"
Max shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know...maybe ten minutes ago."
"I'm going after him." I said, and stomped my way towards the front gate. Bryson asked what was going on, but I left that to the people behind me to explain to him. I had to go. I could feel that dark storm brewing deep in my soul all over again...but I didn't fight against it so hard this time. Depending on what's waiting out there for me...I might need it.
I had gone maybe five or six blocks when I divided my attention enough to notice Doc and Jun hurrying to catch up to me. Doc called out my name, but I didn't stop. I couldn't. Taryn was all that mattered now. "Justin??? Dude...come back! Wait...dude just..." He was trying to push his wheelchair as fast as I was walking, but eventually had to ask Jun, "Dude, can you 'push' me here?" The both of them hurried out after me and could barely keep up. "Justin? What are you doing?"
"You guys don't understand. Ok? So just leave me alone. I'm not going to let anything else happen to Taryn. I just wanna make sure he's ok."
"Of COURSE he's ok....Justin???" Discussing my actions with them was only slowing me down. And I did what I could to tune them out. I walked even faster, and made it another two and a half blocks before they breathlessly caught up again. Doc refused to let it go. "Does this have anything to do with the whole 'Soren' incident? Justin, that was a mistake, and you dealt with it. It's over. You can't just keep charging out into the streets, half cocked, like this any more. People are LOOKING for you!" Doc said, as Jun pushed him faster to pick up the pace.
"Let 'em find me! I'm waiting! Maybe I can give them a few good reasons to leave us the fuck alone!" I said.
"Or a few good reasons to come back with even BIGGER numbers until it's too much for you to handle. Did you ever stop to think about that?" Doc said, but I kept marching. The energies inside were swimming in my bloodstream, itching for the opportunity to realize their full fury. "You can't....you CAN'T just shadow Taryn all night, every night, and watch over him every second..."
"Why not?" I said. "Didn't you guys do it to me when I first crossed over?"
"Yeah, and if you'll remember, you weren't very happy about it. And we weren't very good at it. So why make the same mistake?" Jun added. But I kept marching towards the church to find my boyfriend and bring him home where he'd be safe. I'm the only one strong enough to protect him from harm Me...and the rage inside of me. "Justin...Justin, wait. Ok? Slow down."
"You're wasting your time. I'm not going back without him." I said. "Don't try to stop me."
"Dammit, dude....just HOLD ON!!!" Doc shouted, and he grabbed a hold of my wrist and literally 'yanked' me backwards to face him. "Now...you need to STOP this! You're going down a VERY dark road right now, and once you go beyond a certain point, there's no coming back. Do you understand me?"
"Go HOME, Doc! This doesn't concern you." I said, feeling my anger swell as thoughts of Taryn in danger began to infuriate me.
If only Doc and Jun would turn back and leave me to my duty. "Taryn is important to you, we get that. But you can't make him a prisoner of your affections and deny him the freedom to go somewhere without you 'guarding' him all the time. You're not gonna be able to 'fix' things by hovering over him, you're only going to make things worse. You can't just bully the world into being 'safe', Justin, it doesn't work like that."
I was already too worried to let them stop me now. The powers at my control were already lining themselves up and preparing for battle, like loading bullets into a gun. They're idiots to think that I had come this far to lose him now. "Let go of my arm, Doc." I warned him. "LET GO!!!"
"Or WHAT? You're gonna hit me?" He asked....and there was a pause between the three of us as we dwelled on the concept for a moment. I looked down at Doc, who adjusted his glasses slightly, waiting for my answer. I think it might have been the only thing that brought my attitude back down. That, and a pinch of shame for even considering it. Because...somewhere in that turbulent storm of emotion...I almost did. I was willing to hurt my friends in order to keep going. And if I had been any further wrapped up in my own selfish pursuits I would have. Without hesitation.
Jun touched my shoulder, and I almost pulled away from him. He spoke softly, but firmly. "Taryn is fine, Justin. He's safe. And he'll be back soon. You can't force him to stay put for the rest of eternity. And you can't run out and catch every raindrop in you hand before he gets wet. You have to let go of that level of thinking."
Doc added, "Don't you see what you're doing? Whatever it is that's gotten you so out of balance, so unbelievably unstable...you're feeding it. You're making it infinitely worse every time you give into it. You think you're doing it out of 'love', but you're NOT. You're being driven by anger, and pride, and brutality. And the more you give in to those impulses, the stronger they're gonna get. Until eventually violence becomes your answer for everything. And where do you go from there? Huh?"
I tried. I tried to calm down the voices inside, tried to bottle up those emotions again. But it was getting soooooo hard to contain myself. Sooooo hard not to use the talents I had acquired so far to force the rest of the world to leave us alone. I felt as though I had the power of a god in the palm of my hands...but the more I used it, the further I fell from grace. And into madness.
How long would it be until I ended up like Alec?
"Come back with us, Justin. Come back to the lot, and we'll all wait for Taryn to come home safe....together. Ok?" Doc said, and he loosened the grip on my arm. "What do ya say?"
"I just....I worry about him so much..." I said, and they were quick to comfort me.
"We know. And we're worrying about you too. We just want you to keep your mind straight until we can figure out what to do with you. Alright? The faster you get your extras under control the better. But don't start feeding the idea that you can control the whole world and everything in it. That's a dark place that you DON'T want to visit. And there are a lot of vampires out there who are probably waiting on you to make that decision." Doc told me, and even though I hesitated a bit...they were able to turn me around, and start taking the first steps home. I looked back out at the night sky...the church not that far away. But I didn't go the rest of the way. I felt the energies calm down...and my breathing return to normal Maybe....maybe I can try to trust him to be ok. Just this once. PLEASE, Taryn...please come home safe. Please....?
We walked for almost a block when Doc looked up at me and asked, "Um...one question? You really weren't gonna 'hit' me, were you?"
"Do you really want to know?" I replied, and I think it took Doc a second or two to realize that I was kidding. Or...at least I think I was kidding.
"You're a fucking beast, you know that?" Doc grinned, and Jun joined in with a cute smile of his own.
"Hey, wait up!" Came a voice from down a side alley, and we all turned around to see Jeremy trotting along to catch up to us. He had evidently already made a quick meal out of somebody, and had removed his shirt, wearing an open jacket. There were some droplets of blood on his bare chest here and there, but he had kept himself pretty clean through the ordeal. "That old guy reeeeaaaaally hit the spot. Hehehe!" Jeremy said.
"Bryson doesn't like for us to spot donors this close to the lot." Jun said.
"I tried to tell him that. He won't listen." I said.
"Gimmee a break, it's no big deal. He barely put up a struggle. Slag Hunters drove right up and took care of the mess before I even finished feeding. It's all good." Jeremy wiped some blood off of his cheek, and then he tossed Doc a plastic bag with his blood soaked shirt inside. "Throw this in the laundry with your stuff when you get back, will ya?"
Doc scrunched up his nose, making Jun giggle a bit. "We're not exactly hotel room service, you know? If you wanna stay with us, you do your 'own' laundry."
"Hey now, I'm not 'mooching' here. I'm a victim of circumstance." Jeremy said, wiping another drip of blood from the side of his lips. "It's not like I was secretly HOPING to have my shop torn to splinters by some 'renegade freak' looking for your pretty boy over there. The least you could do is show me some love and hospitality for my inconvenience."
"Funny, I thought that was Trevor's job." Doc mumbled, and Jeremy gave him a sarcastic grin, along with a middle finger.
Jeremy could be a bit abrasive at first, especially if you didn't know him, but sometimes he toned it down just enough to be endearing. It was almost enough to bring a smile to my face. But while the three of them were talking, I felt a slight 'pull' on my senses. A heightened level of awareness that triggered a certain defensive reaction in me. It was sudden, and it was strong, and I knew better than to not pay it any attention. It was like having a glass shatter in a room of complete silence. I stopped walking with the others, attempting to focus, and Jun was the first to notice that something was wrong. "Justin?"
I didn't say anything at first. I looked around the dark alleyway, checking behind us and then on all sides. It felt as though the air itself had stopped moving. This wasn't natural. No. This was a 'forced' silence. The kind of silence that someone maintains to 'mask' their presence. And there was definitely more than one of them. I reached out with my most acute senses and after a few moments...I detected the steady beat of a vampire's heart on the rooftop above. With four more joining it from different corners of the alley.
Jeremy continued to find small splashes of blood on his clothes, and kept quickly wiping them off. "Jesus...this guy was a real 'bleeder'. I got more ON me than IN me." Then he looked back up at me with a huff. "Can we go now? I kinda wanna grab some clean clothes and take a hot shower. I'm feeling kinda 'greasy' here."
Jun knew something wasn't right. He stepped up to me and whispered, "Justin....what do you see?"
"I don't see 'anything'...and that's the problem. Because I know they're there."
"Four. Maybe five." I told him. "We're being 'followed'."
"Followed? Followed by who?" Jun asked.
"I don't know. But someone's locked on to me. I don't know how, but I think they know what I am." I whispered back.
Doc saw us talking, and his face changed, recognizing the danger from a distance. He stopped his chair, and Jeremy looked back as well. Jun asked me, "What do you need me to do?"
"Get Doc and Jeremy OUT of here. Now. And DON'T take them back to the lot! That's what they want us to do. I don't want them to find us again later."
"What about you?"
"Trust me...I won't need any help."
"Really!" I said, looking Jun directly in the eye. "I've GOT it. Just go. Once they realize that they can't beat me, they'll come after Jeremy and Doc. They'll need you there to protect them."
Jeremy was confused, and getting impatient, "Uhhh hello? What's with the whispering? Places to go, people to see? What's the hold up, cowboy?" I gave Jun the nod, and he swiftly headed in their direction, taking Doc's wheelchair in hand and giving it an urgent push. With a wrinkling of his brow, Jeremy asked, "Wait...what are you doing? You're in a hurry now? What's going on?"
"Do us a favor, Jeremy...shut up and keep moving. Trouble's coming." Jun told him, and carried Doc towards the end of that alley as fast as he could.
"Trouble? What do you mean trouble? What KIND of trouble?" Jeremy hurried to keep up without an answer, but then looked back to see me staying behind. "What about him?"
"Justin can take care of himself." Jun said.
"Take CARE of himself? A couple of months ago he couldn't even FEED himself without my help!"
"Yeah, well....believe me...a lot's changed since then."