"Protection? From what? From who?"

"Now, Justin, don't start getting all flustered and fidgety on me. For right now it's JUST a security measure. There are a lot of vampires out there who want to be able to do what you can do. Your extra is probably one of the most rare and most powerful of all the extras we've ever encountered as a species. Others, whether their intentions are good or bad, will come looking for you. You have the ability to become a 'perfect' vampire, and that can make you both extremely valued...and extremely dangerous."

"Tim...I don't WANT to be this way! This is just getting worse and worse and I can't stop it."

"I know son, I know. I will do what I can to help you. I need you to come back tomorrow night to see Char and Becca. They are two of my best, and they can help you to figure out exactly why you are what you are. I give you my word, this is just between us, you and me. I suggest you keep it quiet as well. People are always watching." I had no choice but to agree. What else could I do? I was hoping and praying that this would all turn out to be some kind of big mistake. Some horrible error in Tim's judgement that would allow me to just exist without any deep responsibilities to a life and culture that I know absolutely nothing about. A PROHET? Please! I can hardly do my MATH homework! "Here..." Tim said, handing me a small bag with three capsules inside. "Take these tonight before you go to bed. They will help to keep your hunger from getting out of control. But I warn you...they act as a distraction, NOT a cure. The hunger will still be there, it just won't hurt as much. These will allow you to keep your senses for the time being. We don't want you drawing any unnecessary attention to yourself. Understand?"

I walked over and gave him a big hug. "Thank you Tim. Thank you." I took the pills and was ready to leave, but he stopped me one last time.

"Justin, remember, no one is to know about this. These other vampires...they won't play fair. They'll hurt your friends if they have to. Be careful." I nodded and hopped on the train to go home. Not long before sunrise, which was a good thing. I knew I'd have questions that I wouldn't be able to answer when I got back. And I had a LOT to think about. I was beginning to think that the only thing worse than being an outcast...was being special.

I walked back into the lot as quietly as I could, trying to avoid the remaining stragglers who hadn't turned in yet. I wanted to make it back to my trailor as quickly as possible, but Dion was sitting right outside of it, waiting for me. "Justin! So??? What'd he say? What happened?"

"Dion, hey...look, I'm really tired. I just want to get some sleep. It's been a long night." But I don't think he was buying it.

"Something happened...didn't it." I didn't say anything, I just directed my eyes away from his, and tried not to confirm the statement, or deny it for that matter. "Go to bed." He said, and without another word, he patted me on the back and let it go. I guess he was going to let it slide for now. But I assumed not for long. Exactly how was I going to explain to the rest of them that I may be the first of my kind in six hundred years? Bryson would make sure that he never let me leave the lot again.

I opened the door to the trailor and saw Taryn sitting at the table, waiting for me. "Hey..." I said.

"You're late."

"I'm sorry, I had a lot on my mind."

"You promised you'd be here. I thought that...after last night..." Then he just sighed and looked down at the floor.

"I'm REALLY sorry, Taryn. Please believe me."

"So where'd you go?"

Oops, bad question. "I...I can't tell you."

"You can't tell me? Great...that's just great. Fine."

"Please don't be like that. It was important." I was hurting him. NO! I never meant to hurt him, not ever.

He was twirling a matchbook with his fingers, and didn't even look at me. "You have two days now, Justin. Then you're on your own." He said, and he stood up.

"Taryn please...I said I was sorry, ok?"

"Save it."

"Where are you going?" I asked as he headed for the door.

"I'm staying with Rain tonight. You can stay here and work out whatever it is that's on your mind. I just really don't care right now." And with that, he left, slamming the door behind him. Nothing could have hurt me more. He must have hated me at that moment, and I couldn't even tell him anything to defend myself. For his safety and for mine. Here he was, just the night before, telling me how he wanted us to share everything. And I go and ruin it. Nice work Justin. I closed my eyes and laid back on the bed, staring helplessly at the ceiling. I cried myself to sleep that night, alone. I could only hope that, in time, he'd understand.

I woke up a bit early the next night, earlier than usual anyway. Maybe it was the empty space beside me, or the fact that his sweet kiss and warm hug didn't act as a blanket to keep me comfortable enough to sleep longer. Who knows. I walked out to sit on the front steps as the night's first stars came into view. I just kept to myself quietly, watching everyone else wake up and come out of their dwellings gradually to fill the lot with life again. If you can call it that.

Things seemed almost back to normal. Dylan shyly glancing at me every once in a while, thinking I wouldn't notice. Jenna was off laughing and mothering everyone as usual. Max and the Kid were seemingly unnaffected by the other day's events, and went right back to being the 'orphan/big brother' duo that they were before. And Doc was happily tapping away on his laptop, with Jun looking over his shoulder. Trevor and Michael were nowhere to be seen, but I assumed that they were either out clubbing or simply making out where no one could see them. There they were, my 'family'. Doing the same things that they always have, probably since before I was born. The only difference, was that Taryn wasn't by my side to watch with me. He wasn't filling me up with his presence, brightening my life with his touch. And that made me feel more hollow inside than any hunger ever could. If only Tim had a pill for what I was feeling now. I never knew how much contact we had with each other, or had close we had become, until it was taken away. Almost as though a huge part of me was gone, and I had lost my sense of habit in his disappearance. Everyone else had their special functions and daily routines. Me? Mine was gone for the time being, and I was left with a huge gap where my love used to be.

As I watched everyone from the steps, Taryn nowhere to be seen, I decided to try something. I was just sitting there observing them all, and something made me want to look even closer. Call it curiousity, or just plain nosiness...but there were a few questions about them that I wanted to know but was too scared to ask. And I knew they wouldn't answer me. They would either cover it up, distract me with something else, or hide it in some philosophical riddle. Or they just might get upset and walk away. But in my mind, I wanted to know. I had a right to know. I don't want to wait another 5 years before they were responseful enough to tell me, 'oh, by the way, I'm really 50 years old and once slaughtered a village of people with my bare hands.' So I began to wonder...exactly how effective this mind reading thing could be. Nothing too major. I didn't want to go probing their deepest secrets or invade any privacies. Just a little information that would allow me to know them a little better. There's no harm in that, right? Just a little push...that's all it'll take. They won't even know it was me.

I began with Dylan. He's probably one of the hardest people to get to open up right away. Let's see what I can find out. Ok Justin...just like Taryn said...see what he is, and seperate him from what he isn't. Focus. He's the only one who exists. Not too deep...easy...eeeeaaasy. And then I felt the energy envelop me. I became a vaccuum, absorbing his thoughts into me as 'quietly' as I could without alerting him to my efforts. It seemed easier this time, almost like I knew exactly what I was doing. Maybe my body is settling into this faster than I thought. At this rate, I'd be a pro in no time.

I began to hear the voices in his head, echoing, all at once. All of his memories, all of his dreams, all of his insecurities. They became a swirling cyclone of information...it was endless. And I was able to shuffle through them with ease, searching. Searching for something...I don't know...intriguing. I saw him coming from a somewhat religious background, being teased by a kid on the bus, I saw his mother buying him a puppy for Christmas, his first wet dream, him falling out of a treehouse...I saw it all. Only split seconds of it, but it was like I soaked it all up immediately. Feeling it. Experiencing it through his eyes. Then...I saw something else. Something...unnatural. A piece of information that he had evidently pressed back into his subconscious, because it seemed to be a very muddy image compared to the others. The voice was distant, and garbled. It hid in the dark corners of his mind behind the other swirling pieces of his life, and refused to show itself before I used a little more concentration to bring it forward. It was hard to read, but I got bits and pieces of it. It was a man, his father...shouting out Biblical verses...I saw a belt...and then, I felt it hit his backside. MY backside. OUR backsides. And then I saw him pushed into the basement, and locked inside. He screamed, pounded on the door, crying, begging. The images skipped around a bit after that. Roaches, a mouse, some food being slid under the door. Just wafers and juice. And a passage being read to him at length...every single night before he went to bed. The imagery fought me, trying desperately to break free of my hold on it, and bury itself back in the fog of Dylan's forgotten memories and lost dreams, but I just wanted to hold on. Just a second longer. Dylan is afraid. Afraid of his life, of his sexuality, and because of the basement fiasco, he's...apparently afraid of the dark. Ouch...his crossover must have been quite a shocking experience. Then the image ripped itself free of my hold, and spiraled back into the heart of the twister. I drew back, and relaxed as I let his thoughts return to him. I felt a bit dizzy at first. Trying to grab all of that information at once, and see it constantly spinning at high speeds like that for any length of time was exhausting. It took a second for my eyes to adjust again, and then I looked over at Dylan to see if he had noticed. His face seemed different somehow. I don't think he knew I was knocking around inside his head, but I think that I may have brought some of those memories back to the surface just long enough for him to recollect them. And he was saddened by it. He's afraid of himself. Made to believe that he is evil or disgusting, an outcast. By his own parents, his friends, even his religion. THAT'S why he shies away from everyone, he honestly doesn't feel worthy of their love and attention. He must have remembered it all, because he stopped what he was doing before, and walked off to a corner to sit alone, sadly hating himself in silence. I almost felt bad for even bringing it out of him. Some things are just better left alone I suppose. I think I see now what Tim meant about being 'dangerous'. This wasn't just some neat parlor trick I was playing around with...this was someone's life. Their thoughts and fears, passions and pains, and they weren't meant to be toyed with. There was a great responsibility involved, I was going to have to remember that.

Just then, something extremely unexpected happened. I saw the Kid run to the middle of the lot to pick up something that Max probably threw at him and missed, and all of the sudden...it turned itself on! The mind reading ability just switched on all by itself, as though the Kid had triggered it just by being there. The strange thing is...I didn't...FEEL anything emanating from him at all. Nothing. No emotions, no feelings, voices, memories, or thoughts. Only...static. Loud static, and nothing else. As though he had effectively blocked out every image in his mind from the rest of the world. I knew that I shouldn't, but this was strange. So I pushed a little bit, attempting to sneak my way in. Nothing. So I pushed a little harder, probed a little deeper, just a glimpse. That's all I wanted. Just enough to know that he HAD thoughts and emotions. I focused on trying to get through one of his defenses, and suddenly the static swirled up tightly, almost as if it was increasing the strength of his mental shield, and it alerted him immediately. I saw the Kid's head suddenly shoot around to see what was going on. He looked left, right, up, down...trying to figure out who was trying to force their way into his secrets. I got nervous, and the energy cut itself off. Thank God! I didn't want to be found out. I lowered my eyes to the ground, hoping that he wouldn't notice me. He scanned the lot for another few seconds before Max called out to him, and then he shook it off to join his friend. That was close. What the hell brought that on? And more importantly, how is it that the Kid can hide his thoughts so easily from me when everyone else is an open book? What WAS that static inside of him?

"Hi....." Came a voice from behind me. It startled me a bit at first, considering my previous activities. But when I looked up, I saw Taryn, and it instantly made me feel whole again. All in that one moment of time. I should have been feeling like shit from the way I treated him, but I was too relieved to see him at the moment to even care.

"Hey..." I wasn't sure how we should even start this, but I knew that it would be easy to get through it once we did. He sat down next to me, and although we exchanged a few glances, neither one of us said anything. Then, I figured that I should just stop being an idiot and speak. "Um...I...I really missed you, last night."

"Good." He said, still trying not to give in so easily. But it only took a few seconds for his blank face to soften up a bit. "Sigh...I guess...I missed you too."

"I'm really sorry about last night, ok?" I said.

"Me too." And he hugged me as I marveled in the power and glory of his touch. "I love you so much, Justin. You have no idea."

"I do Taryn. I do." But the hug was all over too soon, and he looked me directly in the eyes, kissing my lips quickly before speaking again.

"Justin...I know...I know you have your issues with this, and I swear to you that I understand them. Every single one. But...we have to go out tonight. We have to. Ok? We'll go out, and we'll talk, and I'll do everything in my power to make this transition as easy for you as I possibly can. I swear to you, I will be there for you."

His eyes sparkled with promise and hope, and I knew that it was a step that I had to take. Time was running out. Part of me wanted to give in, part of me wanted to protest...but neither one seemed to overpower the other anymore. And as a sharp pain ran through me, straight from my stomach and up my spine to hit me behind both eyes, I gave in. "O-o-ok...I'll do it."

Taryn's eyes filled with tears and he sighed deeply in my ear as he embraced me once again. "I will be right by your side, every step of the way, do you understand. Always. I love you."

Tim's pills must have begun to wear off, and all too soon. It was now or never. "Let's just...let's go...ok? Before I change my mind."

"I am SO sorry to push this off on you."

"I know." I said, and I closed my eyes, letting the last of my 'civil' tears fall to the ground. It was then, that I made my decision to give myself over to it completely. I would either kill someone willingly, or the pain would cause me to do it involuntarily, or I would starve to death while my friends and my love watched. Either way, the hunger would win. And I would be stuck with my decision forever, no matter what it was. "Let's get this over with, ok? I have to see...someone tonight."

Taryn had questions, doubts, fears...but when he saw the look in my eyes, he knew that now was not the time to ask any more of me. Not now. "Ok. I'll take you out, we'll talk about a few things on the way. I'll teach you everything I know, I'll make this as painless for you as I can, I promise." Then he handed me my pair of sunglasses, and we walked out together. The glow from my eyes during a hunt was sure to penetrate right through them, and we needed to keep our cover until we were close enough to strike. I couldn't believe that I was actually going to go through with this.

I felt the eyes of everyone on me as we left the lot. They knew what I was about to do. They saw it in the stress in my eyes. The shakiness of my walk. And they all knew, that I'd have blood on my hands before the dawn.

Taryn attempted to talk to me, trying to almost psyche me up over the whole thing, making it a game. I knew that he was just as nervous as I was, but tried to put on an act for me anyway. He tried to break it down into mechanics for me in an attempt to make it seem more like a process than an actual murder. Take the emotions away, and that would make it easier for me to go through with it. Right? Maybe...who knows? Whatever he was trying to do...I wasn't so sure that it was working.

"Ok...now I'm taking you to the 'not so nice' part of town. It will be easier to find a...'donor' there." He said.

"Donor? Don't you mean 'victim'?" I still had a need to hold on, to not let go of that little voice inside of me that was telling me it was wrong, but Taryn only tried to snap me out of it.

"Dude, you're going to have to change over to an entirely different way of thinking right now. Do you understand? There will be conflicts and regrets and doubts and ALL of that going in...but it doesn't change the fact that you NEED to eat. Once you feed, you can keep your morals and values in tact. For NOW, though, and I hate to say it, but you have got to push that aside in order to survive. Understand?"

He made sense, and yet didn't make sense at the same time. Or maybe it was my emotions making it seem that way, wanting so badly to believe one way or the other. Tossing my conflicts aside was not as easy as he made it out to be. But I went along with it anyway. "Yeah...sure." He didn't believe me at all, but he went right back to his lesson, hoping to catch me further along the way if he kept talking.

"I hunt in the bad parts of town because the people there usually find me. It's not so much of a chase really. More like waiting to be mugged...setting up bait and watching the 'wicked' step into the trap. Believe me when I say that there are some people who I feel no sympathy for when it comes to feeding." Was I imagining this? Was Taryn even the same person that I knew before? Or maybe his mind was stripping itself of it's conscience as we neared our destination. And it made me wonder if he had to have this conversation with himself every time he went out for food. "Now your fangs have never appeared because you've never actually used them before. This will change. When the time comes, they'll appear on their own. They'll spike down from the top of your gums and rest on the outside of your canines. I won't lie to you, it's going to hurt the first few times, but you'll get used to it, and once you feed, they'll retract and the gums will heal in a few hours time."

We turned a corner, and I looked around me as the streets seemed to get darker and darker as we ventured further from the downtown Chicago skyline. "As soon as you sink in, the fangs will begin draining pretty much by themselves. Now one mistake you DON'T want to make is to treat the bloodflow like you're sucking it through a straw. The fangs will do their job, all you have to do is hold the donor steady. Later on I'll teach you how to consciously drain them more quickly." We turned another corner. Geez, it seemed like he was walking so fast. "And don't swallow too much. Living blood is an emetic, it'll only make you sick. Remember, you're 'absorbing' the blood...NOT drinking it. If you get a stomach full of living blood, you'll be sick as a dog until it's incorporated into your system the slow way. And that could be DAYS. Got it?" I wanted to ignore him. I just wanted to rip into some random person and get it done and over with. But Taryn kept looking at me while he spoke, asking if I understood, making sure that I was always paying attention. Making sure that he kept talking so as to keep my mind from wandering back to being afraid and confused. He wanted me to act on instinct, and instinct alone. "When you bite, you want to go for the throat. Any main artery in the body will do, but the throat is most effective. You see, the throat will paralyze your donor and force him or her into shock instantly. It also gives you more control over their struggling. You cover their bodies more completely, so that they can't push you off. And by wrapping your arms and legs around their midsection, you can cling much more effectively until they are too drained to move anymore. You can also use a free hand to cover the mouth or clutch the windpipe in case they scream for help..." Oh Jesus....this was getting worse and worse. And the way he kept describing the horrific act so...practically...as though he were giving me instructions on how to program a VCR. Doesn't that bother him? The struggling, the screaming, the shock?

"...Are you with me?" He asked.

"Yes..yeah, I hear you."

"I know that I'm covering a lot of stuff, but I want you to just get the basics down for right now. When it comes to the actual act, it will mostly be left up to improvisation anyway."

"Yeah...the basics...sure." That's when he stopped me, and turned me to look at him.

"Sigh...you can do this. I believe in you. Ok?" And he kissed me on the cheek.

I worked up a fake smile, and replied, "Hehehe, can we say 'peer pressure'?" He smiled, and gently used his hand to wipe the wisps of blond hair out of my eyes. Then his fingertips traveled slowly down my cheek, and rested on my lips.

"Are we ready?" he asked, a bit nervous about my answer.

"Um...no. But I'm going to try anyway." Not the answer he was looking for, but it seemed to be enough. He held my hand, and we began walking through the alleys and between dark buildings. I was shaking the whole way, but he tried to be strong for me. More sharp pains ravaged through me, a couple of times it even caused me to stop dead in my tracks. It really WAS getting worse, and FAST! It was like having knives piercing you from all angles, and the rumbling inside was enough to cause my whole body to quake. I would soon be having full blown convulsions if I didn't get some nourishment soon. I could feel myself dying, and 'painful' was hardly a strong enough word to describe it. We passed a few 'possibilities' on the street, but Taryn didn't stop for them. I guess there was slim pickings that night. "How do you...how do you know when you've found a...a donor?" I asked. At least having him talk to me kept my mind off of the pain.

"You seek them out. They're out there, believe me, but I personally try to pick them very carefully. I'll have to teach you to sense defects on your own someday. Right now, I'll help you out with choosing someone good."

"Defects...? I don't understand."

"Everyone's blood is different. And whatever you feed on, sorta becomes a part of you until the next time you feed. Now some defects are temporary. Like...you feed off of a drunk or an addict, you get their high. It only lasts for a day or two, but if it's in their blood, it'll be in yours. Now, if they have more serious defects, sickle cell, anemia, HIV...then you will also be infected with those traits until the blood cells have all died off and it's time to replenish yourself with new blood."

"How long does that take?"

"The average cell lives for about twenty days. So we only have to feed like once a month. But, trust me, a month is a long time to be sick. So you have to watch for infections, diseases, genetic flaws, and all sorts of imperfections. But don't worry, I will be sure to fill you in on all of this at length so you can remain the healthy young blond that I fell in love with." He smiled.

"I never thought there would be so much to learn about..." But he stopped me in mid sentence.

"Shhhh...." Then I saw them, two guys who were standing in front of a burnt out building, one of them looked to be buying some jewelry off of the other one. "Do you sense it?" Taryn asked.

"Sense what?"

"Remember what I told you about reading minds? Use that. Read their thoughts." I did as he instructed, and sifted through their minds so easily it was like child's play compared to the vampire's thoughts I've read. I saw a ransacked apartment, a woman, beaten and kicked. Teenagers, tourists, older ladies, and foreigners...being ripped off. Scared, mugged, hit, pistol whipped on some occassions. Or maybe they just ran by and snatched the jewelry right off of them. And for what? For money. Just for money. "You see it, don't you? Now you tell me...would you really feel bad if you used one of these bastards to cure the burning pain in your stomach?" He whispered. And he had a point...because I didn't think I would. Not at all.

"So...this is it?"

"I'm ready if you are." Taryn said. I wasn't...but it was now or never. I didn't know them. Who would miss a couple of no good thieving junkies anyway? They deserved it. They did. And if I could cure my thirst and rid the world of this scum at the same time...then so be it.

We approached them as they began walking down an alley. There were no witnesses to be found. It would be perfect. As we got closer, I began to smell the sweet tang of their plasma as it rushed through their veins. I could taste its bittersweet zest on the tip of my tongue. And they had no idea of the bloodshed that was about to occur. Taryn was silent, but I could still hear the poetic verses of his teachings as they echoed inside my head. It was then that I began to see it, feel it, taste it...the 'switch'. The instincts kicked in, and I could suddenly understand how easy it would be to go through with it. To execute these scoundrels for my own sustenance. I felt the itching at the top of my gums again, and this time, I knew exactly what it was for. Taryn had still been clutching onto my hand, but as my body took a more savage control over my senses, I almost became annoyed with his restraint. I pulled back from him and he let my hand go, obviously expecting the change in my demeanor. We walked side by side, and I became anxious. Bloodthirsty even. The rumbling in my stomach worsened, but the pain was almost gone. As if my body was numbing it just long enough for me to strike. We were only 20 feet behind them, and catching up fast. We kept up a quiet pace, so as not to let on that we were even there. But I actually felt like chasing them. Making them run in terror. To feel the fear that they must have inflicted on the unfortunate people that fell victim to their money making scheme. I felt the hunter in me rise to the surface. I could almost faintly hear the tribal drums in the back of my subconscious. We were still nearing them, and my eyes went from gold to a dark shade of crimson. This was going to be soooooo sweet.

Taryn sent me a mental message as we got only a few steps away from them. And I read it easily. "You take the one on the left, I'll take the other one. Remember, quick, quiet, and as painless as possible. Go for the throat the second you're on them. Your reflexes are much faster than their's. You will have already begun feeding by the time they know what's happening to them." I was now close enough to hear their heartbeat, and it was then that I felt the dagger sharp fangs burst forth from the top of my mouth. They were FANGS! ACTUAL FANGS! I ran my tongue over the tip, and almost pierced it straight through. I could taste the stale blood from my gums where the fangs shot out. It didn't hurt that much, or maybe my animal instincts had me too focused on my prey at the moment. I couldn't really explain it, but it felt good. I felt...BETTER than them. Stronger, faster, more agile...almost godlike. And I noticed my lips beginning to curl up at the sides, as a wicked grin forced itself onto my face. This must be what it feels like to go mad.

"Are you still listening, Justin?" Came another message from Taryn. I sent one back letting him know that I was, and he continued, "They're going to try to run once we get close enough, you just follow my lead. Whatever you do, don't leave them alive. You take them down...you keep drinking until they're dead. Got it?" 'Dead'...the word stuck out for me, and a small piece of my mind screamed out to stop. It was a brief moment of clarity that my natural vampire reflexes tried to eagerly silence. It was as if I could feel another entity taking possession of me. Forcing me to go forward and feed quickly before I changed my mind. This has got to STOP! I've come this far, there's no turning back now. They DESERVE it! Assholes! I can see it in their thoughts. They're thieves, muggers, drug users and pushers. The world would be better off without them. I dug even deeper into their minds, trying to find even more reasons to hate them, and found something else. A girlfriend...a child...a happy Christmas dinner where he bought his five year old son a Playstation, I saw him being laid off from work, broke, helpless...forced to find a way to feed his family. Arrgh! I shifted from one thought to another, searching for more crimes, more thefts, a murder, a rape, ANYTHING! But no matter what I saw, there was a reason for everything...many of them beyond his control. Many of the crimes done out of desperation. He was far from innocent, and yet, not nearly the heartless bastard I was hoping he was.

"Almost there. Ready?" Taryn asked, but I didn't answer him. No...come on...don't back out now. You are so close! I can TASTE him! He's RIGHT FUCKING THERE!!! "Justin? Can you hear me?" But I couldn't do it...I couldn't ignore what I had seen. It was too late.

"I can't do it Taryn! I can't!"

"What are you talking about? This is IT! Don't back down on me now, Justin. We're right here."

"I...I want to..."

"GOOD...then do it!" Taryn was becoming harsh and insistent. He was trying to make me into a 'soldier'. Trying to make me react on impulse instead of following my mind.

"This isn't...this doesn't seem right to me."

Taryn was getting frustrated now, and I was beginning to think that the thirst had grabbed him just as strongly as it had me. "DON'T THINK! Give yourself over to your instincts...let THEM guide you now!"

I tried, God did I try. But my heart wouldn't let me. I couldn't give in to the thirst, I just couldn't. And I just stopped walking completely, falling back against a wall. The guys in front of us looked back to see what was going on, but didn't really pay us any mind. As far as they knew, we were just two teenagers in the alley. No real threat there. Taryn stopped, his shoulders dropping at the loss of a perfect catch. They kept walking as he watched them disappear around the corner. He just...stood there. Unmoving, with his back to me. I couldn't see his face. Couldn't tell if he was disappointed in me, or angry. I held my head down, and felt tears trickle down both cheeks. My eyes slowly transformed back to their original glow, and my fangs retracted back into their 'sheaths'. My sanity had returned, and so had the pain. I slid down into the trash on the sides of the alley, and turned over on my side as the pain ripped and shredded me on the inside. It twisted my guts so horribly that I began to gag and twitch from the misery. Taryn turned back to face me, and although he looked somewhat upset that his 'food' had gotten away because of me, that look faded away quickly. And it was replaced with a knowledgeable look of love, and genuine concern. He came to my aid, kneeling down in front of me, and I sobbed outloud.

"I'm sorry...oh Taryn...I am so so sorry! Oh God...no..." I cried louder and louder as he held me there in the dark. I had failed...again. And now I only had one more chance to make it right. One more night to kill, or leave. I knew Bryson cared for me, but I also knew that he wouldn't jeopordize the safety of the others for my sake. Taryn began to cry as well, because I'm sure that he knew the consequences as well as I did. "I tried. For you...I tried..."

"I know babe...I know. We'll find a way. I don't know how yet, but you'll get through this. We both will. Ok? Shhhh..." And we sat there for the rest of the night, crying until we had no tears left to shed. I chose to not go back until I was sure that every last one of the group had already gone to bed. I wanted to avoid them for as long as possible. I didn't have the strength to tell them I blew it tonight. But there would be no avoiding them if I didn't feed by the next night.

I never did make it to see Tim. It would have to wait. Which suited me just fine, because something told me that my next visit to him, might prove to be more terrifying than hunting is. I was trying to reach the advanced level, and hadn't even learned the basics yet. Everything was moving so fast...how was I ever going to keep up?

We crept back into the lot, tired and groggy, just minutes before sunrise began to light the morning sky. Taryn was practically out before his head even hit the pillow. That cute teenage snore of his more resembling the purr of a baby kitten. And I quickly stripped down to join him before I passed out next to him. Boy...when daylight breaks, us vampires don't play around in the sleep department. It was like an alarm clock in reverse, knocking us out instead of waking us up.

The last thing I saw, before closing my eyes, was that piece of paper that I had brought home with me not long ago. With a symbol etched into it. The symbol of "Comicality". If what Pan told me about the scriptures was true, then Comicality would be looking for those that he deemed helpful...and also...those that he saw as being dangerous. Which one was I going to turn out to be? Maybe I'm a prophet, a 'good guy', like Tim said. Or maybe...my extras, my thirst, my mind reading and 'mimic' capabilities...will take a stronger hold of me than I thought possible. It's already obvious that it's going way beyond my control these days. What if the madness I experienced tonight was just a taste of what's to come? Maybe I AM dangerous. Maybe I'm losing my control a little bit more each day. Normally, thoughts like this would keep me up for hours, but as the first rays of sunshine crept over the horizon, my body went limp, and I fell asleep. Only fate knows what the future holds now. And I am helpless to stop it. No matter how good...or how BAD...it becomes.

Friday, September 22nd, 1999

Trouble in paradise? Maybe, maybe not. It's really hard to tell at this point. Unfortunately, Justin isn't adapting to his 'growing pains' as well as I had hoped. I don't know why I expected him to. I guess that I've been living this way for so long that I've forgotten what it's like to still hold on to your humanity. I hardly even remember "society" anymore. It's just 'us' and 'them'. Justin's pains are getting worse, and I know that he only has a few days left before he completely loses it. Right now the pain is intense, but he still has control. He has no idea how bad it can get, and how the mind will simply switch off when the animal instincts fight to survive. He doesn't need to learn that lesson the hard way...not like I did.

On the bright side, he's gotten his glow. A golden aura that is as beautiful as the heart that fuels it. Every bit of him is so incredibly beautiful to me. A sexual, emotional, spiritual turn on that just keeps me smiling through most of the night. I went out and bought some special contacts for him this week. Just so that I could always look into the blue splendor of his eyes and feel at home whenever I wanted to. I know I should have saved the money and tried to get the rest to pay Jeremy off for the blood supply he gave us. But he's too preoccupied with the IceZone party to come knocking for it anyway right now. Speaking of the blood supply, we were attacked by those bastard scavengers down in the subway. I almost don't want to think about it. I swear, I would cease to live another day if Justin was ever taken from me. And I am prepared to starve right along side him...if that is what he chooses. We can't ever be torn apart. My love for him is all I have left.

Tensions are building, some bad dreams, and Justin seems to want to know answers to questions that I simply can't give him just yet. Some I can't give him at all. I should share bits and pieces of my life with him, I know I should. And it's not that I don't trust him, because I do. But he's not use to this life, to these people, not yet. You figure, you know someone long enough, and get a fixed image of them, they could tell you anything, and that image won't change very much. Or maybe that's just something I tell myself to keep from filling him in on my past. It's not something that I like to think about often. Not something I would want him to know. Especially concerning Trevor.

To be honest, Trevor has been keeping his distance from the both of us. And that worries me even more than it did before. What is he planning? I wish I could trust him to leave things alone between me and the boy that I love, but somehow I don't see that happening. Something is bubbling in that brain of his, and I intend to find out what, before it's too late.

Last, but not least, I took Justin on a hunt tonight. He tried, boy how he tried, and for a brief moment, I thought he was actually going to do it. But...he let his conscience win. He's still too connected to his old life. Evidently there are a lot of things unresolved there. Things that he'll go searching for if they continue to haunt them like they have been lately. Physically, he's ready. But emotionally, he simply won't give in. I don't know whether to admire that, or fear it. I just don't know what to do to help him any further. I worry...all the time.

Not a whole lot accomplished from this entry tonight. I think my mind has been pulled in so many directions lately, that it's hard to really concentrate. Anyway, it must be getting close to daylight, because I'm getting drowsy. I'll write more in the near future. Hopefully all good news next time.

P.S.- We had sex yesterday! And it was GREAT! Hehehehe! Just had to throw that in there! G'night.

There you have it...AT LAST!!! The third chapter in the "Gone From Daylight" series! Now remember that there was a lot of material taken out and then put back in and removed again before I got this chapter looking somewhat decent. There is still between 50K and 60K of stuff from this chapter that will be included in the next one! So look for that one SOON!!! Please tell me what you think of the story (yay or nay) at comicality@webtv.net or stop by the NEW website at http://studflower.com/~comicality/

THANK YOU FOR READING!!! And stay tuned for more!

COMING SOON: "Gone From Daylight: The Beauty and the Darkness"