Gone From Daylight 2

I left the hospital that night after visiting hours, about 8 PM, wondering if it was all a lie. If Taryn was just saying anything and everything he could to keep me from jumping a few days ago. Maybe he was a liar, maybe even this mysterious stranger, gorgeous and innocent and serene as he seemed, was just as rotten to the core as everybody else. And to think...I actually fell for it. What an idiot I am. I was actually believing in sunrises and laughter and falling leaves for goodness sakes. I was actually believing in love. And for those few brief moments in time, my life seemed pretty damned good. So much for a brighter future. In the end, I wouldn't be sorry to see this place go.

I kept walking down the dark street and had almost gotten all the way to my house, when I heard a car screeching behind me. I turned around, blinded by the headlights at first as it turned towards me, and then it stopped only inches in front of me. Both side doors swung open, and it was the kid I was fighting with in class and a few of his buddies. About five in all, they were on me in an instant and the first thing he did was push me down. It was all happening so fast that I didn't have time to react, or think, or even scream. My house was only a short distance away, but there was no way for me to reach it. I kept trying to get up, but they surrounded me and pushed me back down, again and again. Then I felt someone punch me in the stomach, HARD. All he air inside left me in a single breath, and I doubled over and fell to my knees. That's when the main boy walked over to me, looked me dead in the eye, and punched me right in the face, knocking me down on my side. Then I felt a harsh kick hit me square in the back, and then more, then more, and the whole group began to kick and stomp me as I lie there on the ground, still trying to catch my breath. By the time I felt the pain from one kick, several more had bruised me in other places. I could see the lights on in my house, but somehow I knew that my mother was too drunk by now to help me, not that she would even be conscious. So I did the only thing I could...I turtled up and bared it. All of it. As they continued to kick and hurt me, I thought about my life, about life in general, and I knew that there would be no more pain after this. Not ever. Not for me. I just let them hurt me, allowed them to get in their last shots before I ended it all. It was all I could do, not just about their kicking, but with my life. With my parents divorce, my mother's drinking, our low income, my careless teachers, my homosexuality, my father's abuse, Richie's illness, the spitballs, the lack of friends, the pain, the suffering...all I could do was take it. Roll myself into a tight little ball, and TAKE IT! Hoping that it'll pass soon, hoping the pain will one day be over. But I was tired of waiting, and as soon as this one last torment was over, I was going to go out to that lake and throw myself in. And this time I meant it! A friend once told me to never give in to any impulse that required hesitation...this time, there would BE no hesitation. This simply had to stop, and it had to stop tonight.

Finally, the kicking had slowed down, and they all gave me a few good hard ones to leave a lasting impression. And then, as my body went numb from the beating, the leader of the pack walked over to me and said, "You're not so tough NOW, are you punk?!?!" And he spit in my face. As the wet saliva sickeningly traveled down the side of my face, crawling over my lips and dripping to the ground below, I heard them all get in their car and speed away into the night. I must have laid there for another twenty minutes before getting the strength to get on my feet. Every inch of my body hurt, and I stumbled and struggled to walk the last few steps to my house.

When I opened the door, bleeding, crying, sore...I saw my mother laying on the floor again. Still conscious, but beyond pathetic. She smiled up at me lazily and actually asked me how my day was! She was so wasted she couldn't even tell that I was beaten up outside of my own house! My clothes were torn, my hair a mess, I was full of bruises and I had tears in my eyes! LOOK AT ME!!! But she was too out of it to notice, too drunk to care. As I walked past her, she grabbed onto my leg and smiled, "Help mommy to bed, will you?" But as I looked down at her, I was disgusted with what I saw. To think that this was the last night that she'd ever see me alive, and she used it to get plastered. It turned my stomach. And I suddenly wondered why I waited this long to make this decision. I pulled my leg away and let her flop back down to the floor. She likes it down there so much, let her sleep there. I went to my room, set my alarm for 2:30 AM, and waited to take the long walk to the end of the dock on Navy Pier...for the last time.

I didn't get much sleep at all, I got out of bed and snuk out into the living room. My mother was still there on the floor, and I wanted to just walk away in anger, but I just couldn't do it. I got a blanket out of the hall closet and draped it over her. Then I got down on one knee, brushed her soft hair out of her face, and gave her one last sweet kiss on the cheek. "I love you mom. And I'm sorry." I whispered. Then I turned around, and walked out.

I got to the dock at about the same time as before, and I walked to the very end with haste and determination. I was going to do it this time. No second chances, no hesitation. I was going to keep walking until I reached the end, and without stopping once, i would throw my leg over the side and jump in. i would swim as far down to the bottom as I could, and then take a deep breath, letting the icy waters rush in until my lungs burst. And that would be it. As I got closer to the edge, I felt a fear sweep over me, getting stronger with every step, and I began to shiver and shake as I neared my destiny. I was almost there.

I took the last few steps to the railing, and I gazed into the lake, having it gaze right back at me. And I threw one leg over the side. "I thought we had a deal, Justin." Came a voice from behind again.

I spun around quickly, almost having a full blown heart attack from the shock of hearing another person's voice come out of nowhere. As soon as I saw the figure's shape in the anchor's shadow, I knew instantly it was Taryn. "What the hell? Don't you ever sleep?"

"And on the third day, his will gave way to old habits." He said calmly, almost as if he was quoting scripture. It was like he was dissappointed in me.

"I'm sorry, okay? I tried it your way, I really did!"

"Don't feel sorry on MY account. Feel sorry on yours. You're the one with one leg thrown over the railing, not me. After all the talking I've done, you still just don't get it do you?" He said. He stood up and walked over to me, his beautiful face becoming visible once again. Under different circumstances, I might allow myself to fall in love with such a flawless face.

"This is it Taryn, there's no where else for me to turn." I said, my eyes flooding with water again.

"There are alternatives in every situation Justin. But you should only use them if you have absolutely no other options available to you. Because in the long run, some choices are made far too quickly to recognize the consequences they may bring." Taryn stared deep into me again, but this time i looked away. Why should I go back? Why should I live another day? So they can tease me some more? So I can clean up my mother's messes again? So I can watch my best and only friend slowly die in front of me? So I can give those assholes another opportunity to take every bit of heart and emotion I have and beat it out of me again and again and again? Why? I won't let Taryn do this to me, not now.

"I know you want to help, and I thank you sooo much for it. Really. But you can't possibly understand what it's like for me."

"Then MAKE me understand. Tell me. Why does suicide hold this power over you? What is it that makes life so terrible that you can't bare to embrace it any longer?" He said, almost pleading.

And then I broke down and told him the whole story, everything, from beginning to end. At one point he had to put on his sunglasses again, and I think he was crying. But everytime a tear would fall, his eyes would begin to glow. The pupils became that eerie golden color, and it shined through the tinted lenses brightly. Taryn would then always turn his head so I couldn't see it. But there was something very out of the ordinary about the whole thing. That couldn't be my imagination, his eyes were flashing me. When I finished, I was so weak from hearing myself say it again, that I welcomed death with open arms. There was no stopping me now. He said he only wanted what was best for me, and that he wanted me to enjoy life for what it was, not for what it should be. Then he gave me a huge hug, one that made me feel more loved than I ever had before. I felt so close to this boy, his warmth being pressed against me as we hugged each other on that dark, cold platform. He sniffled a little bit, and kissed me on the cheek, before taking a step back. That kiss brought me more joy than anything else I had ever experienced in my life. And as selfish as it sounds, for a split second, I wished I could stay with him, or at least take him with me. But for what? He didn't love me, nobody could ever love me. It simply isn't that easy. I had something lovely with this kid, and I didn't want to ruin it by having him hate me in my final moments. So I turned it off, blocked it out, and came back to my own fucked up reality. I began to cry a litle as I backed away from him. He was hiding something from me, I could tell. But that was all over now, it was time. I walked over to the ledge, while Taryn watched me silently. He was crying again, but kept his head down. The closer I got, the harder he sobbed, even though he was trying to keep it quiet. Once again, I threw one leg over the railing, and then the other. I held on to it with both hands, leaning forward, not looking back. This was it. I peered into the hypnotic waves and was ready to let them swallow me whole. I started to loosen my grip, and prepared for my journey into oblivion.

"JUSTIN!!!!" Taryn shouted, startling me and making me tighten my grip again. "Okay...you win."

"I win? What are you talking about?" I asked. I was almost annoyed with the interruptions at this point.

"You broke your part of the bargain...now I'm breaking mine. I said that if you didn't see any value in your life after giving it a true effort, that I would help you. I'm a man of my word, and I can change things for you...if you'll let me." He said, once again holding out his hand.

"What can you do Taryn? You can't help me, no one can."

"I can't erase your past Justin. If that's what you want, then you're right, I CAN'T help you. But I CAN give you what you need to help yourself. All you have to do is take my hand Justin. Put your faith in me and walk away from all this. Please...just...take my hand." He said. I was nervous, worried, and there was an eternity of tension between us before I finally gave in...and took his hand.

He pulled me back over on to the dock and I was regretting this already. Why was I trusting him with so much? "Justin...I have things to show you, things to tell you, things to warn you about. But no matter how fantastic, or how magical any of it sounds, you must PROMISE me that you won't make a decision until you're absolutely, positively, sure."

"I promise." I said quickly. I was beyond curious now, and I wanted to know exactly what kind of trip this kid was on. I thought maybe he was going to offer me some mindblowing drugs or something. I figured that I'd try a few, see some moving posters of Jimi Hendrix, and I'd be talking philosophy with him in no time. But he looked at me, and it was as though he didn't think I understood. "Look, I said I promise, okay?"

"I mean it Justin. There's no going back after this. If you do this...if you choose this life to be your own...all of the little things that you're just now learning to enjoy, will be gone. It's something you'll have to live with...forever." His eyes were shining brighter this time, a glaring yellow flare that could be clearly seen through his sunglasses without question. But despite his warning, I took him up on his offer, and I accepted his help.

He sighed, looked down at the ground, and had a quick moment of silence, before removing his sunglasses. His head was still down, his reddish brown hair still covered his face, and I couldn't see anything from that angle. Then he said, "Fine. But I hope you know what you're getting yourself into. Does your mother work?"

"Yeah, when she can."

"Good. Tomorrow, when she leaves the house, I want you to go back and pack as many sentimental pieces and clothes and personal belongings as you can carry..."

"What...wait...you're not talking about running away from home are you?" I asked. His head was still cast downwards, but he kept speaking.

"Please, don't ask me any questions, just do as I say and don't look back. There's no possible way for you to understand the answers, not now. Grab what you can, bring it to this address." He handed me a card with the address to an old auto wrecker's lot on the west side. A big abandoned place full of rusty old cars and vans. "Don't come until after sunset. I'll be there waiting for you."

"Are you even gonna tell me what this is all about?" And that's when Taryn raised his head, without the shield of his sunglasses, without the shadow of the anchor to mask him, and what I saw was so beautiful it terrified me. His eyes, his beautiful eyes, were ablaze with a bright golden glare the likes that I've never seen. I was taken completely by surprise, and almost had the urge to run for my life when I realized that they were no contacts or special effects...those eyes were REAL! Glowing from the inside. He had two streams of tears on his face, and he looked right through me, his specs blinding me with their brilliance.

"Just meet me there after sunset Justin. All your questions will be answered then. And if you still want to do this, I mean REALLY want to do this...then I'll help you. I'll give you the alternative...you've been searching for."

Those words stayed with me all night and through to the next day. The alternative I've been searching for. I knew that Taryn had a weird way of putting things sometimes, but something about that statement rattled me to the bone. This was beyond curiousity now, this was an anxiety attack from hell. What was I getting myself into, what did he mean by 'alternative', why an abandoned car lot? So many questions. But one thing answered them all, one point that kept me alive and giddy for hours. I was going to be with Taryn, so who cares? HE invited me! It caught me by surprise, but before I knew what had happened, I realized that I was smiling. ACTUALLY SMILING! For no reason at all, I was laying in my bed, feeling this light energy stirring in my chest, almost bringing me to laugh, but not quite. It's like that feeling you get when your leg falls asleep. And it goes from being completely numb, to that annoying pain in a few seconds. But there's a transition in the middle, a feeling that tickles, and pulses, and just...it makes you feel really good. That neutral zone between feeling nothing and feeling pain. The sensation in my chest felt just like that, only a hundred times better. Oh get a hold of yourself Justin. Don't mess around and go gaga over some kid you just met. Remember the kid from the football game. I'll just be putting myself through the heartbreak machine again. And I don't want that. Not now. I'm actually feeling good for a change and I want it to last for as long as it possibly can.

Waiting for my mom to leave for work was unbearable. I pretended to go to school, but waited around at the 7-11 down the block. I figured that as soon as I saw my mother's car go by, the coast would be clear and I could grab my stuff. Where WAS she? Finally, I saw the familiar rusted side of my mom's crap-mobile zoom past, and I high tailed it back to the house. I ran in, grabbed the suitcase out of the basement lock up, and started packing. I wasn't quite sure what to take and what not to take. After being depressed for so long, I wasn't quite sure what it was that I deemed 'valuable' anymore. Hmm...some old photos might be nice, especially the one of me and Richie when he was still healthy. It was a pic of us in front of Buckingham Fountain, covered in a cool misty spray. He was such an awesome pal, we did everything together. I really should stop in to say goodbye once I figured out what Taryn had planned for me. Oops, I had been staring at it for a while now. Gotta keep packing.

It took me about two hours to really decide what to take and fit it into the suitcase and my backpack. I wondered if I should leave a note or something for my mom, but decided not to. I'd be back in a few days and I'd let her know that I was gone. So I took what I could carry, and waited down by the bus station until sunset. I didn't want my mother coming home and asking me where I was off to. I hope I had everything. I even brought my lucky coin, even though it never worked for me before. And this was it...my second chance. Please don't make this into another let down. I don't think I can stand too many more of those.

I took a little nap at the station, afterall I haven't slept much in the past few days. When I woke up, the sun was almost gone, and I hopped a bus to the west side to meet up with Taryn. Sigh...this just had to be some kind of set up. Maybe he was a gay basher or something, and the second I got there he was going to have a bunch of guys kick my ass. But at this point, I was so enraptured by him that I was willing to risk it. He was so beautiful, inside and out. I'm so damn goofy for falling for this, but I had to try. At this point I had nothing to lose.

The bus dropped me off a few blocks from the old junkyard, and I walked over. It was a quiet place, it seemed like the whole neighborhood was deserted. An urban ghost town with Chicago's sparkling backdrop. Only a few homless people and a couple of rats crossed my path on the way over. I got to the gate and walked around the lot. There were piles and piles of old cars, rusted, smashed, broken in two...a cool place for a horror movie maybe. As the last of the suns rays disappeared over the horizon, I noticed that I was there completely alone. It was silent, with only a cool wind to greet me. Was this Taryn's idea of a joke? Maybe he was just late getting here. Maybe he was never coming. I'm such an idiot.

"Knock knock!" Shouted a voice from behind me. It scared the shit out of me and I spun around quickly, falling over my bags and onto the ground. I looked up and saw a boy, a different boy. About 16 years old I guess, with short brown hair, brown eyes, and a tiny shag of small goat tee on his chin. No moustache, just a thin silky patch of hair under his chin. "Can I ask you exactly what you think you're doing here?"

"What?" I asked, still scared out of my mind.

"WHAT...are you...doing...HERE?" He repeated loudly, acting as though I was stupid or something. I didn't know what to say, I was shocked, and this kid was beyond serious. He took a step closer and I moved to get up. But he pushed me back down on the ground effortlessly. "You still haven't answered my question kid."

"Look, I must have just made a mistake..."

"HA! You're damn right you made a mistake, buddy boy!" He said with a malicious smile.

"Can I please just go?"

"Umm..." He said, pausing for a second, and then he replied, "...I'm thinking, no." And he yanked me to my feet with one hand. "You know...you really should have learned the dangers behind walking the streets after dark. I'd be happy to teach you." And with that said, I suddenly prepared myself for another beating. I just hoped and prayed that whoever this was, he wouldn't kill me. If I couldn't have Taryn, if I couldn't have a normal life, then at least give me the chance to end it my own way. Please.

Just then, another voice cried out. "NO!!! Bryson don't!" I recognized that voice and got enough courage to open my eyes again. It was Taryn, running over to us from around the corner of a pile of cars. "Don't...he's cool. He's with me."

The kid looked over at Taryn and said, "WHAT? What exactly do you mean he's with you?"

"I...uh...I invited him here." Taryn said nervously. A surprised look came over the kid's face and he released me, allowing me to breath again easily. The two of them exchanged a look and Taryn continued. "I HAD to, okay? Just...don't worry so much. I just want to talk to him, that's all."

"Dammit Taryn! You CAN'T just go out and bring home a STRAY!"

"He's NOT a 'stray', he's my...friend." Taryn replied, and he looked over at me. Just seeing him stick up for me, just feeling his green eyes fix their gaze upon me, made me weak in the knees. I may have been blockading the door to my emotions, but love was knocking hard, and it was dertermined to worm its way into my heart whether I liked it or not.

"Your 'friend'...great. That's just great. Fucking fantastic." The kid said, and he walked away shaking his head. Taryn walked over to me and the first thing he did was give me a hug. God, something about his hugs were so addictive. He was so soft and warm and gentle in my arms. I could hold him all day.

"I'm sorry, I woke up a bit later than I thought. Don't worry about him, that's just Bryson. He kinda plays 'guardian' to the rest of us. He's a bit overprotective sometimes, but he means well." Taryn said, smiling from ear to ear. He peeked behind me and saw my bags on the ground. Suddenly his smile got even bigger. "So...you...um...you're going to stay? I mean...maybe, if you want?"

"Um...sure, why not?" I replied. He looked like he was trying to contain himself.

"Cool...well, come on. I'll introduce you to the others." He said, grabbing me by the hand. Others? I didn't know there were going to be others. Not that I expected him to take me to some spot and make out with me all night, but I was kind of hoping to get a chance to talk together. The very mention of others implied some kind of weird 'support group' or something.

I could just see myself standing in front of a bunch of people saying 'My name is Justin, and I almost jumped in the lake.' Which of course would get a happy 'HI JUSTIN!!!' in response. Definitely not for me.

We walked around through the maze of cars until we came into the middle of the lot. A circle clearing, with a small fire burning in the center. There was Bryson, evidently still a little displeased to see me, and then there were a bunch of other kids too. About 10 of them or so, each one more beautiful than the last. They all seemed to be around my age, give or take 2 or 3 years, and only two of them were girls. As soon as I stepped into the clearing, every eye turned to see me. They stared, most of them in amazement. It was as if they had just seen a ghost or something, and they were all speechless at this point.

Taryn walked me over to the center of the large ring, and said, "Everybody...this...is Justin. I invited him here tonight." With that announcement, everyone looked at each other in shock and confusion. Some whispered, some giggled, and for a second I felt like the same outcast I did in school for all those years.

"Hello Justin, I'm Doc." Said somebody behind me. I turned around and looked down to see a cute kid brown hair and dark brown eyes in a wheelchair. He had some meat on his bones, a little chubby, but not fat at all. He had deep dimples and he seemed to be the first and only one in the whole lot to welcome me with a smile, so I shook his hand. "Glad you could stop by." He grinned.

"Yeah, good old Doc, he's ALWAYS in a cheerful mood. Come here, meet the rest." Taryn pulled me along excitedly to greet the rest of his friends. I was typically kind of shy around strangers, so meeting all these people at once was a bit uncomfortable to say the least. But Taryn was happy, and that made me happy.

"This is Jenna, the prettiest girl in the world." He said, and she playfully slugged him in the shoulder. She was beautiful, an untouched face except for a beauty mark on her cheek. She had shoulder length blond hair and the bluest eyes. A young Marilyn Monroe for the future.

"Hi..." she said, blushing slightly and flashing me a killer smile.

"Over here is Jun." Jun was Oriental, with dark brown eyes and medium length black hair with splashes of neon orange/brown highlights in it. Slim and sleek, with wiry arms.

"Hey. So Taryn...is he...you know...is he gonna stay?" Jun asked.

"I don't know." Taryn answered, then he looked over at me and smiled. "I hope so." His smile sent a warm wave of love through me and it made me shiver a bit. A little emotion slipped past my defenses and he went from being cute to sexy right in front of my very eyes. The light from the fire danced in the wonderous sparkle of his green eyes, and I was instantly lost in them. We held eye contact for a second or two before another boy walked up and put his hand on my back.

"Well! Looks like Taryn's found himself a little boy toy here. That's so cute." He said sarchastically. At first glance, this boy had a beauty that was downright intimidating. He had short blond hair, neatly tucked and cared for, and it looked like it was made of pure silk. To set it off, he had dark brown eyes, and the contrast was amazing. His lips were so cool, his body so trim and fit, he was like a pin up doll. I was really impressed. "Ooh, and he's thinking about me. Always a plus." He said with a cocky grin.

What? How does HE know what the hell I was thinking? Just then Taryn tugged on my arm a bit and stepped between us. "Don't be a jerk Trevor."

"Awww...didn't mean to steal your spotlight loverboy. He's all yours."

"Shut up, dick!" Taryn said giving Trevor a shove. He looked over at me shyly, like he was hoping I hadn't heard that, or maybe would just dismiss it. Once again, I wanted so badly to believe, but I ignored it anyway.

"Hahaha, you've still got that fire babe. That's why I love you." Trevor said, and he giggled a little before walking over to another boy. This boy, just as handsome as he was, had brown hair and dazzling blue eyes. There wasn't an ugly boy or girl in the whole bunch. But I couldn't have been more dumbfounded than when Trevor walked over to him and placed a big kiss on the other kid's lips. My mouth dropped open and I couldn't help but stare. Trevor was GAY? And he didn't care who saw him. It was the first time I had ever seen a guy kiss another guy, and the fact that both of them were so cute made me extremely horny in seconds.

Taryn was watching me, without a single readable emotion on his face. I got that weird feeling that he was reading my mind again. In fact, they all were. Talk about paranoia. "Um...this is Dylan. He's only been with us for a few months or so." I saw a skinny kid, about 13 years old sandy blond locks and a pair of bright hazel eyes that he kept down at his feet. He seemed really skittish, like he was scared of the world. A shy, fragile kid who's only greeting came in such a low tone that I didn't even make out what it was. Then he walked away without saying another word.

"Don't worry, Dylan's a little shy. But once you get him going, he'll never shut up." Taryn giggled. Then he walked me over to an older 16 year old guy with long dark hair sitting on an engine. He didn't even look happy to be awake at the moment. "This is Max. Max, meet Justin."

"Whatever. Look, I thought we were going out tonight."

"Max...c'mon. You could at least TRY to be polite."

Max flicked his hair back and put on this great big smile. "Well how do you do, Justin? I'm SO happy to make your acquaintence. If I was any happier, I just might wet myself! THERE...you happy now?" Okaaaay, this guy was obviously not in the mood. What an asshole. The second I thought it, he looked over at me and I had almost forgotten to stop thinking completely. I knew he had to have 'heard' me. I thought he might stand up any second and challenge me to duke it out with him, but that's when I saw a movement coming from behind him. A little boy, hiding in his shadow, peeked timidly out from behind him. This kid couldn't have been more than 10, with a mop of brown hair that hung loosely on his head. He had that look of innocence and purity in him, and his big brown eyes were like something right out of Disney.

"Well who do we have here?" I said bending down. I was more than happy to avoid that little conflict.

The boy ducked back behind Max, hiding from me as though I was the boogie man himself.

"That's the kid. He doesn't talk to strangers. In fact, he doesn't talk at all." Max said.

"What's his name?"

"HELLOOOO! He doesn't TALK, dumbass! We just call him KID!" Max said. "Geez, Taryn...you did real good for yourself with this one." And Max and the kid walked back into the shadows. "Let me know when you guys are going out. I'll be working on the van."

"You know, you guys could be a little more social for once!" Taryn said out loud to the whole camp.

"Bite me!" Max shouted back.

"Max can be a bit of a pain sometimes, but he didn't try to tear your throat out after the asshole thing...so I'm thinking he likes you." It was then Taryn realized that he had just said aloud the very thing that I was thinking a few seconds ago. He had caught his own mistake a bit too late, and there was no doubt left in my mind that they could easily read me at any time, whether I liked it or not. It spooked me something awful, but by the time it registered and I was openig my mouth to ask how he did it, he shifted my attention. "Come on, there's a few more people you have to meet. We might all be family soon." He said, and grabbed my hand again. I hadn't let the thought go, but he kept my focus shifting from one thing to another, keeping me from thinking about it for any length of time.

"This is Rain. She's...um...well, she's just Rain." Taryn said uncomfortably. He meant well, but the girl didn't seem to really take much of a liking to either one of us at all. She had a sweet face, decorated with dark eye shadow and black lipstick. She had a stud nose ring and her hair was shaved in a buzz cut on the top, but longer at the sides. The strands that hang down were colored purple and green, and her natural color on top was light brown. She just kind of stared at me without speaking, and then she extended her hand for me to shake. But the second I reached out to connect, she pulled her hand back and gave Taryn the finger. Then she got up and walked away. And this weird bunch was going to be my family? It was even weirder than the one I already had.

The last person I had to meet was Dion. He was sitting on top of a pile of crushed cars, almost fifteen feet off of the ground. A dog was sitting beside him, wagging his tail happily as he petted him. Dion was a cute black kid, with spectacular hazel eyes, short black hair, with a smooth and spotless medium brown complexion. He almost looked soft to the touch, and he never made eye contact, he just kept staring off into the sky. I yelled up to him on the 'mound'. "Hey! I'm Justin!"

"Pleased to meet you Justin. Welcome to the asylum." He said in a low whispered voice.

"Um...is that your dog?" I yelled again.

"You don't have to shout, Justin. I can hear you just fine. And yes...he is. His name's Napolean." Dion never smiled, but he didn't frown either, so I guess that was a plus. He didn't really provoke any further conversation, so I let it go. An awkward meeting, but it looked like I survived it okay.

Taryn took my hand again, this time softly, and he held it as if it was going to break. He stared deep into my soul, until I could almost see a green reflection of myself in his dazzling eyes. "Listen...I know they're giving you a hard time and all, but they don't really take kindly to strangers. It'll get better, I promise." Then someone shouted out, wondering if they were all ready to go. "Hold on! Um...Justin, a couple of us were going out on a little excursion tonight. I thought maybe...you know...you'd want to join us. Or maybe...just join...me?" Taryn blushed and a shy smile broke out on his face. He was so cute at that moment that I could feel an erection growing in my pants and had to concentrate to fight it back. My heart fluttered, and I started trembling on the inside. Was he...asking me out?

"Yeah...I'd love to." Oh no...I can't believe I used the word 'love' in front of him. Geez, I'm such a dork. But I suppose that if they could read my thoughts then they must all know that already. Taryn smiled at me, and the next thing I knew we were out roaming the streets of downtown Chicago.

After milling around for a while as a group of seven, including me and my 'date', I noticed something. Even though we stayed together most of the time while we were walking, Taryn would take my hand every now and then and slow down a bit. We would naturally fall behind a little, and he would never say much, but he would look at me and smile. I would blush in response and grin back at him, and it seemed to make him feel so good to see me smile. There was a weird tension between us, and everytime we shared a little too much of it, we would stop holding hands and catch up. Only to do it again a few minutes later. It was the most wonderful feeling in the world, holding hands with this beautiful boy, feeling his silky soft skin touch mine. Joining us that night was Trevor, his apparent boyfriend Michael, Dylan, Jun, and Max. We all made a little noise, and a few times I even laughed along with them as they teased each other and pranced back and forth along the sidewalk, occassionally jumping up to grab a tree branch, or swinging themselves around a light pole. It was a curiously good feeling. I know it sounds sad, but I never had friends like this before. I never had friends at all. I looked around me, walking with six, count them, SIX, other people. And for the first time, I felt like I was a part of something, a group, a winning team...a family. It was the only feeling that even came close to matching what I had surging through me when Taryn's smile was pointed in my direction.

We went down a dark alley and they knocked on a rusty iron door in the back. I was a bit confused as to what was going on, but soon the door opened, and the alley was flooded with the heavy bass of loud techno music. A large burly man came to the door and looked the kids up and down. "Aw geez! Why don't you damn kids just stay away from here? I'm trying to run a business, you guys are gonna get me in a lot of trouble here."

Taryn walked up to him and said, "Look, I just need to talk to Alex for a few seconds, and then we're outta here. Please? Just for a few seconds?" He was so sweet, everything about him was beautiful. He used his hand to gently tuck his shiny brown locks behind his ear, and gave the man a sad puppy look that could melt even the cruelest man's heart.

"Sigh...if I lose my license I'm personally gonna flatten the whole bunch of yas! Hurry up! A FEW SECONDS! No more! You got it?" The man said, obviously defeated, but trying to keep up the tough guy routine anyway.

"Thanks man, you're a life saver." Taryn said excitedly. And he stepped aside to let us all walk in through the door. We all walked single file down a long corridor as the beat of the music got louder, and soon we opened another door that led us into the middle of a huge dance party. There were flashing lights and lasers everywhere, the music was loud enough to make my stomach pound in time with the beat, and everyone was wearing black. Black shirts, black pants, black make up, black hair...everything. We somehow made our way through the hundred or so bodies on the dance floor, being knocked about from all sides, and finally found a table somewhere on the wall. We filed into the small booth and Taryn looked down at me. "I'll be right back, okay. Don't go anywhere." Then he smiled sheepishly and he backed away from the table. He disappeared into the crowd, never once breaking our eye contact until he was gone. I was so in love. There was no denying it. I was totally, hopelessly, and completely in love with Taryn. I'd shout it from the highest mountain top, I'd let it consume me from head to toe, and I'd stay with him and be his...forever.

"AHEM..." Came Trevor's voice from across the table. I was jarred back into reality, and looked over to see the rest of them staring at me.

"Sorry, I just lost my train of thought there for a second!!!" I shouted over the music. It was pounding so hard I knew that this would be a difficult conversation indeed.

The second I said it, everyone cringed. "Why are you yelling? Jesus, just talk like a normal person before you deafen us all." Max scowled.


"Much better." How could he hear me over this music? I couldn't even hear myself. I'd ask, but at this point I knew the questions would only succeed in making me look stupid.

Trevor eyed me for a second, as though he were sizing me up, and he liked what he saw. "Say Michael, why don't you and the fellas go score us some drinks from Stephanie at the bar?" He said.

"We're not supposed to drink. We could get Bernie in trouble if we get caught." Dylan stuttered quietly. But Trevor just flashed him a serious look that basically gave him the impression that he should keep his mouth shut. Max and Jun looked at each other and were ready to get up.

"Are...are you sure? I mean, maybe they can bring some back for the both of us." Michael replied. But Trevor ran his finger along the boy's smooth cheek and told him to go. Michael looked over at me, and then back to Trevor before reluctantly getting out of his seat. All four of them walked away from the table, Dylan giving me a slightly worried look before Trevor shooed him away. And there we were...alone.

"So Justin...exactly how did you meet our Taryn here?" He asked, smiling at me.

Hide it Justin...hide it! He can't possibly read everything. He doesn't need to know about the suicide thing, just relax, and hide your thoughts. You can do it. "...Actually...I met him on Navy Pier one night. On the dock. I...I go walking there at night sometimes."

Trevor leaned in closer, examining me, dark brown eyes piercing into me. "Really? I see." Come on Justin...just hold it back. "You like Navy Pier at night huh? The darkness, the icy cool waves...it's all sooo...peaceful, isn't it?" He said with a sly grin.

It's a trick. It has to be. He's just trying to get to me, that's all. I'm not giving up that easy. "Yeah...it's a good place to meditate."

He leaned back a little and said, "Yes, I suppose it is. But be careful. You wouldn't want to...fall in. Not by mistake anyway." He said, practically giggling to himself. Had he actually cracked the code to my brain or what? Hell, maybe he was just guessing from what he knew. I didn't make it too hard. I've got to learn how they do that. Where was Taryn anyway? "You don't have to be so tense Justin, I'm not here to hurt you. I don't bite."

He had the same confident aura around him that Taryn had the first night I met him, but his was more cocky. Almost pompous. But for some reason his striking good looks and soft blond hair gave him the innocent look of a young choir boy. A devil in sheeps clothing no doubt. But he was cute, I'll give him that. With a decent personality, he'd almost be as cute as Taryn was. "So where are we?"

"This place? Oh this is an underground vampire club. They're all over Chicago."

"I never heard of them."

"Not many people do. The party rotates, from location to location all over the city, for one night only. That way they never get caught."

"So all these people are vampires?" I joked.

Trevor smiled wickedly at me and replied, "Hehehe...they WISH!" Then that statement was followed by a short silence. I had one more question to ask him, but even though I was curious I was too embarrassed to ask. "Penny for your thoughts." Trevor said.

"Um...actually...I did have something on my mind." I decided to just swallow it up and ask. I mean, I already knew the answer pretty much, but I wanted to know more. "Trevor...I saw you kiss...Michael back at the lot. I was just wondering...are you...like...gay?"

Trevor smiled at me and din't answer me at all for at least a full minute. He just sat there and stared directly into my eyes until I was forced to turn away. "You people and your labels."

"I was just wondering. I'm sorry. No offense."

"None taken." He replied. But then he went back to that uncomfortable silence again. He just stared me down and grinned at my uneasiness about the whole thing.

"So...like...are you? Gay, I mean?"

This time, Trevor's smile got wider and he leaned forward again. "I'm interested...if that's what you mean."

He was so close, his brown eyes dancing with the display of flashing lights around us, and even though he seemed like a jerk, something was just so damn sexy about him. I felt a strong lustful urge rise out of me, something like I've never experienced before. I've seen kids around town that were hot, and I've been attracted to them all. But I've never had anybody just come right out and say they basically wanted to do me right then and there. Call it a wild animalistic need, but looking in his eyes was mesmerising. And I knew that if I gave him the nod, he'd gladly take me out back and shower me with a sexual pleasure that would fulfill my every dream. It might only be that one time, but it would be guaranteed sex with a damn good looking boy, and to a 14 year old homosexual virgin that was quite an offer. I searched for words, trying to say anything to break the mood, but of course, Trevor didn't back down one inch, in fact, he looked as though he was getting closer. Just then, Taryn walked up.

"Having fun Trevor?" He said. Trevor looked up, but only gave him a lopsided grin.

"As a matter of fact, I was." He replied. "Are we ready to roll? This place is boring me already." And after the two of them exchanged a few looks, we gathered the others and headed back out. This time going out to the Lasalle street bridge going over the busy Lake Shore Drive expressway.