I went out of the back door, surprised that people actually said 'g'night Justin' on my way out. People who didn't even know my name before tonight. I guess that was my little imprint for the evening. Maybe they'll remember me the next time I visit. It felt kinda weird, but in a good way. For the first time I felt...I don't know...'popular'. I never saw THAT coming.

I left the club and once the cool air of the alley hit me, I was more than happy to free my mind from the growing number of thoughts entering it all at once. It was a bit too much for me to handle, the variety of thoughts and feelings hitting me from all directions. I wondered if it was that strong for Trevor when HE used this particular talent of his, or if he had to learn to control it. To focus it somehow and cut back on all of the outside static. It was his individual ability, so it's not like someone could 'train' him to use it. He'd have to experiment on his own, and then share it with others. I suppose that was the biggest part of the whole vampire philosophy behind teaching those you trust about your special gifts. Not just 'stealing' the power from them or absorbing it accidentally...but actually learning how to harness that power from the vampire that knows it best. No one could teach me how to use it like Trevor could, no one. I've been curious about the others at the lot from day one, but at this point, I was still a bit afraid to ask. I knew Bryson's incredibly strict rules about anyone teaching me anything until after I had settled into my own extra first. But what happens if I absorb something beyond my control? What if it gets even worse than it was for me tonight? Things are moving so fast, and my body is quickly making decisions for me that my mind isn't ready for. And yet, there's no one out there willing to help me learn. Not until 'they' determine me worthy and experienced enough for them to teach me. So many secrets. >From me, from them, from the humans, from these mysterious 'elders' I've heard about...what the hell is it with these people anyway?

I instinctively made my way to the lake, going to enjoy the silence, and be alone with my thoughts for a while. I felt the charm around my neck, and looked down to see it shine faintly as it reflected the moonlight. Such a simple thing, and yet it meant so much to me. "It looks good on you." Came a voice from behind me.

I turned around to see Taryn approaching me, greeting me with his warm smile. "I was wondering what happened to you." I said, and walked over to take his delicate hand in mine.

"Rain had some things to talk about, that's all. She's having a hard time dealing with things. Especially with her brother being back and all." Taryn looked into my eyes, and brushed his hand through it gently.

"They don't get along too well, I take it."

"They do, I just don't think either one of them wants to admit it though. They'll fight and grumble and curse at each other for a while, but when it's time for Gyro to pack up and move on, she won't want to let him go. It's just their style." Taryn looked over at me, and ran his fingertips through my hair. He gazed into my eyes with a sense of wonder, it seemed.

"What?" I asked with a grin.

"Nothing." He blushed a bit and pulled his hand back.

"No, come on, tell me." I insisted.

"Nothing. It's silly. Forget about it." He giggled shyly. He was so damn cute when he was being unusually bashful.

"You're gonna tell me. I know you are. I'll tickle it out of you if I have to!"

A look of fear came over his face mixed with a hysterical smile, "DON'T! I was just thinking, ok? No need to get all freaky about it." I came closer with my fingers wiggling, and he began to laugh before I even touched him. "No no no no...stop! Don't!"

"Then tell me!" I said. He looked a bit lost for words, but it didn't matter. I knew deep down that I was going to tickle him anyway. "Please? I wanna know what's on your mind." I smiled. But he still didn't answer. Istead, he tightened his lips and with a grin, he snobbishly put his nose in the air. "You asked for it!"

I lunged forward and the two of us began tussling back and forth, with Taryn cringing and laughing so hard that he threw himself onto the ground just to get away from me. Hearing him laugh was such a beautiful experience for me. One of the most amazing symphonies that my ears have ever been graced with. When accompanied with the adorable visual of his smile, his eyes, his flowing reddish brown hair...the entire experience was breathtaking. And not just now, but each and every time. My love grew more and more complete with each passing minute that we were together, and twice as fast when we were apart. I've never felt so alive.

We kept wrestling and rolling around on the grass until I was on top, and we took a short breather as I looked down on him. His face got a bit more serious, and he leaned up slowly to kiss me. "Does this mean you give up?" I said.

He didn't say anything at first, just nodded his head softly, and looked into my eyes again. Even deeper than he had before. I was confused, he was looking at me as if I were someone completely different. And he whispered, "My God...you are sooo incredble. I always knew that, but...it's like I find new ways to appreciate you more everytime I look at you. You are as essential to me as the breaths I take every evening when I open my eyes. I know it's weird...but I feel like I've fallen in love with you all over again...for the first time." I was caught by surprise and saw his contacts faintly begin to glow, as Taryn became slightly misty eyed at the thought of what he was saying. Then, he turned away with a grin, almost as if he were ashamed of it. "Heh...I'm sorry. Don't mind me, I'm just spacing out is all."

"That...that's quite possibly the most...beautiful thing I've ever heard." I said, a sniffle accompanying my words. I was speechless beyond that, the only language being spoken with the stray tears that fell from my eyes.

"Good." He giggled, wiping his eyes. "Now quit being a fag and get off of me." I kissed him deeply, and lifted myself off of him, helping him to his feet. We then went to sit on the rocks and watch the lake. We talked for what must have been at least an hour, when the conversation came back to our old lives before all of this. And that's when I noticed a hint of sadness in Taryn's demeanor. A shift in his attitude that made it seem like he didn't want to get into anything that would pry too much into his past. However, out of all the times that I have felt guilty about prying and let it slide...I really wanted to know.

"So...you miss your life?" I figured that I could ease into it as softly as possible.

Taryn stared out at the black horizon in front of us, and said, "...Sometimes. Yeah. It's been so long though."

"Miss your mom? Your dad?"

"My father's dead. And no, I don't miss the son of a bitch that took his place." He said, and I felt him begining to shut me out a little bit more with each question.

Still...I went on. "I'm sorry. I know that had to suck. Any brothers or sisters?"

"Can we stop this? Please? I've gotta get back to the lot." He stood up to leave, and I got up quickly to stop him before he could walk away.

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Really. Ok? No more questions. I just...just sit here with me for a while longer." I put my hand on his shoulder to comfort him a bit. "Please?"

"I don't mean to be so touchy, Justin. I guess...I just learned to forget about them. To...push them down where I wouldn't have to miss them anymore." I held him close to me, and I felt some of his tears soak through my shirt. "I had a brother once." He whispered.

"Shhh...you don't have to talk about this if you don't want to." I whispered back.

"He was 4 years old when I left. His name was Alec. I guess, he would be about your age by now. Sometimes...when I'm out at the lake, I think about him. I wonder what he looks like, what he's doing...sometimes, I wonder if he remembers me at all. And if he does, I wonder if he hates me for leaving him in that house alone." Taryn hugged me tighter, and stopped to hold back a sob.

"Did you ever think about maybe going to see him?" But before I could even get it all the way out of my mouth, Taryn interrupted.

"There's no going back. Not ever."

"I know that we're supposed to stay hidden and all, but..."

"Not EVER...Justin. Loose ends left to dangle could mean big trouble for us as a whole. I agreed to leave them behind when I crossed over, and it's a decision I just have to live with." I felt Trevor's extra turn itself on again, and I felt Taryn's sadness pour out of him and into my soul. To think that such a beautiful boy could hurt this way, cut so deep by his own choices, it was heatbreaking. Then, all of the sudden, without warning, a flash of his past exploded into a vivid reality right in front of my eyes. A man, an older man, slamming Taryn's head against the headboard of his bed. 'SHUT UP!' he shouted in a harsh whisper. The room was dark, quiet, and the man wiped the tears off of Taryn's face, whispering...'my pretty little china doll.' And then, in a flash, the vision was gone again. It happened so fast that I didn't know how to concentrate long enough to know what I was seeing. But the fear, the pain, the shame...it was all there, surging through me like some strange emotional arsenic. And what hurt the most, was the knowledge that hugging Taryn closer to me was all I could do to comfort him. If that was just a glimpse of what his life was like, I'd want to forget about it too.

"It's ok babe. We've got each other. And I'm not going anywhere. Til death do us part." I said.

"You know what I miss more than anything, Justin?" Taryn looked back out at the rippling waves of the lake. "...The sun. The color, the warmth, the light. I miss being able to walk among people and hearing them laugh and play and just 'live'. The night has a beauty all its own, but it so quiet sometimes, Justin. So lifeless. Without you in my life, I'm afraid that the silence would swallow me whole." He sat up straight and pushed his hair back a little. "I don't even...dream about the sunlight anymore. That's how long it's been."

"I wish there was something I could do." I said sadly.

"Don't worry. I have all the light I need in your smile." Taryn took every opportunity to indulge in being a hopless romantic. But this time, it wasn't as real as it usually was. Because emotionally...his sadness was still there.

We got back to the lot about an hour before we had to turn in, and Taryn decided to spend that last hour in the van by himself. It was a struggle trying to balance between my need to comfort him and his need for some space, but I gave him some time to be alone. Sometimes, knowing that you were constantly leaning on, complaining to, and worrying someone who's close to you can make things feel so much worse. I stayed out for a while longer, helping Jenna put some more black tape over one of her windows. And that's when I saw Gyro coming home from the club. A little shakey in the knees, I might add.

"I see you made it home ok, party boy." He said, a slight slur in his speech, but not so smashed as to seem anything other than happy. He then turned to Jenna and said, "Evening, beautiful."

"Thanks for your help, Justin. I think the window blockers will hold just fine." Jenna said, ignoring Gyro completely. And then she walked away.

"Yep...she loves me." Gyro smiled. "I'd do her in a second. Really I would. She's a tiger." I gave him a playful slug in the shoulder to get his attention back. Jenna WAS like a sister to me afterall. And he said, "Sooo...how was your trip to the lake?"

"Good. I enjoy it, it's eerily calm in a way, you know?"

"Calm? Never understood the meaning of the word. I'm an adrenaline junkie, remember? There's only three states for me, excited, drunk, and unconscious." Then Gyro looked around, and whispered, "So who met you up there?"

"Where, at the lake?"

"Of course. Did you...uh...'run into somebody we know?'" Gyro said with a smile.

"Um...actually...Taryn was in the area, so, he stumbled across me sitting on the rocks and stopped to stay with me." I replied, wondering why Gyro asked in the first place.

"Ohhh...yeah, sure. So, you went to the lake, and Taryn just...'happened' to stumble across you? Is that right? He just happened to be out at the same time of night, walking around the same spot, and found you sitting on the rocks in the dark...kinda wild, don't ya think?"

"Taryn loves the lake. He's always out there when he needs some peace of mind." I said.

"Funny. When I was here, Navy Pier was Taryn's magic spot. Not some random place on the lake where you were tonight. I just thought you might find it strange that he found you there tonight." Gyro looked around again, and then whispered, "You've been 'running into people' by accident a lot...haven't you?"

"Exactly what are you getting at?" I asked, not sure whether he was joking or serious or mixing the two together to keep me from telling which was which. But Gyro just gave me a huge intoxicated grin and started to walk off to go to bed.

"Nothing, dude. Nothing at all. Must just be a wacky coincidence. Afterall...Chicago is a pretty small city." He said with a bit of sarcasm, and then he bent over to pick up a small rock, tossing it over at Rain's hideaway. "G'night sis!" Then he just laughed to himself, and climbed into his 'sleeping quarters' for the night.

What he said, left me confused, and yet inspired me to think about what he said. I never thought about it before, but in actuality, Gyro had a point. Taryn did just kind of show up out of nowhere that night. On a lot of nights to be honest. I began to let the wheels in my head start turning, butmy body began to wind down, warning me that daylight was rapidly approaching. The fatigue was basically hitting me over the head, and I was sure that I'd pass out on my feet if I didn't start back to the van. Everyone else sleepily walked off to their respective corners of the lot. Dion covering up his radio and possessions on the back of his truck, Napolean letting out a jawbreaking yawn before hoping into the cab with him. Dylan helped Doc back into his dwelling, folding the wheelchair up and putting it into the trunk. As I looked around me, I realized that in such a short time, all of these people, unbelievably mismatched in their personalities, had all become my family. I had come to love them for who they were, good or bad. And as they gradually began to warm up to me, that love increased, and I generally cared for them as I would my own flesh and blood. Maybe even more so.

As I walked back to get some shut eye, I saw the Kid passed out and laying on the ground, his head on an old tire. Poor kid, the sleep must have hit him pretty hard all at once. He had a couple of action figures laying by his side, and I picked them up, putting them in my shirt pocket. Then I lifted the Kid up into my arms, and carried him back to his car. That little boy's face couldn't be more angelic. And I had to smile as I heard a small boyish snore rattle behind his slightly parted lips. I put him in the car, and closed the door tight to make sure the sun couldn't get in. I passed by Jenna as she headed off to turn in as well.

"He won't stay, ya know." She smiled.

"Who? Oh...Kid? Nah, I think he was pretty tuckered out. He won't be up until..." But before I could finish, the Kid's car door opened up. And he sleepily came walking out, teddy bear in hand, and trotted off silently to Max's car. I should've known that boy wouldn't be able to sleep without cuddling up to his best friend on Earth. "Hehehe...you got me." I grinned.

"Don't worry. You're actually learning pretty fast." She said. "I'm glad you came to stay with us, Justin. You're actually a nice guy."

"Shhh...don't let on. I'm supposed to be undercover." I smiled, and then yawned widely as sleep battered me with a vengence and the sky began to slowly brighten at the corners.

"Get some sleep. I'll see you tomorrow." Jenna gave me a hug, and we went our seperate ways for the day. Jenna was one of those people who was almost always smiling, always a kind word, always had the magical ability to comfort you with just a few words. Considering what I've seen in the minds and hearts of some of the others in our little camp...I began to wonder what it was in Jenna's life that could have made her want to choose this life over her own. You would think a popular princess like that wouldn't have any troubles at all. Then again, like I said before...I have to learn not to trust my eyes when it comes to this world.

It was impossible for me to guess when the second dream started, but it took a hold of me so quickly that the shock alone was almost enough to wake me up. In the dream, I opened my eyes to find a bright light shining in my face from above. I squinted and worked up enough strength to push it aside, sitting up to get a bearing on my surroundings. When my eyes were able to focus, I found myself back in a morgue, very similar to the one at Jeremy's blood shack. But this one was MUCH bigger. Infinitely long, infinitely wide. Table after table after table, each one decorated with a different corpse. Cold, silver paletts seeming to suspend an entire graveyard in mid air before my eyes. I began to look for a door, a way out of some sort, but the room had no end. Not in ANY direction. It just went on and on, for as far as I could see. I swung my feet around and stepped off of the table, letting my bare feet hit the ground. The floor was ice cold, almost making my feet go numb from the contact, and the room was so silent that it was almost deafening. Even my heartbeat seemed to be too loud.

I walked forward, my body shivering, my mind racing. The bodies on each table were of every size, shape, and color. Pale, lifeless, frozen into an unnatural position. Some of them...still dripping blood into the large trays beneath the table. I tried not to look at any of them, but they were everywhere. I walked forward in a straight line, picking up the pace and hoping to at least see a WALL somewhere in this limitless void. But no matter how far I walked, there were just more bodies ahead of me. Surrounding me. I began to walk faster, and faster, and soon I was running. Top speed, passing by hundreds of tables, corpses passing by me in a blur. I ran and I ran, I ran until I gave out of breath. And still, no exit in sight. When I stopped to catch my breath, and looked around me...it was as though I hadn't moved at all.

"Justin!" Came a loud whisper from one of the tables. I snapped my head to the side to see where it came from, and didn't see anything at all. I looked around me, but everything looked identical. Table after table, a rom full of cold bodies. "Jusssssssstin." Came the sound again, and I heard the patter of little feet slapping softly against the cold floor. I squatted down to look underneath the table, but I couldn't catch a glimpse of whatever it was that was calling me.

As I walked forward, I kept hearing the scampering footsteps of something in the room with me, and I began to wish that I could just find a way out of the room. "Justin...safe. No worry. Justin live....looooong time." The whispers came from different parts of the room, and it was impossible to try to chase them around. But after walking for a few moments, I saw a difference in the room, some tables that were not like all the others. There were three figures wrapped in dark black body bags a few tables away from me. Not just exposed and open as all the others were. I moved closer to investigate, slowly so as not to run into my 'little friend'. Whoever it was. There were 3 bags, with three corpses, on three different tables. I knew that I wasn't ready for what was inside, but I moved a shakey hand forward anyway. Trembling with fear, yet moving closer with an unstoppable feeling of curiousity. I took hold of the zipper on top of the bag, and didn't move for a brief moment. Instead, I took a deep breath to prepare myself for whatever I might see inside that plastic coffin. With a deep breath...I pulled the zipper down slowly, and as I did, I noticed the other two zippers sliding down also on the other two tables. As though all of them were combined. I continued...and when the zipper was all the way down, I reached in to open the bag and see what was inside.

Suddenly, without warning, a hand lashed out of the bag, grasping a firm hold on my wrist and clutching so tightly that I thought it would break! It scared the living shit out of me, and when the body sat straight up...it was the man from the Kinkos shop. His throat had been torn out, his body drained and pastey white. Did I do that? Is that what he looked like when I was finished? He didn't say anything, but when he did finally open his mouth, blood gushed from it in a thick gelatinous ooze. It was so dark it almost looked purple, a coagulated syrup that slowly sludged its way down to his feet. I struggled to free myself, but I then felt another hand grab me from the second bag. And it was Richie. Covered in sores, so thin that I could see his bones clearly through his skin. His eyes began to burn and turn to ash right in front of me as I pulled desperately backwards to free myself! I began to scream as loud as I could, but no one could hear me. I couldn't bare to look at them, the man that I murdered, and the best friend I left behind. Then...when I looked into the third bag...I saw who the last body belonged to.

It was ME!

I was laid out, ice cold and a shade of blue. Dirt was crusted on my face, mixed with what looked like seaweed and trash. My skin was wrinkled, as though shriveled up by being underwater for what looked like days. Had I drowned? Gone from my life? Could I have jumped off of the edge of the Pier that night and not known it? Could this all be a piece of my punishment? I stared at my body, and saw it laying back, its eyes wide open as well as ts mouth. And then...I watched in horror as a huge crab pried my jaws apart and crawled out of my body, the throat relaxing from the bulge that the sea creature had occupied inside. I felt the Kinkos clerk bite down on the fingers of my left hand, and Richie bite down on the others. I cried out in pain but couldn't move. I was stuck!

The two corpses began biting their way up my arms, taking out huge chunks of my flesh with every sickening squish that they made as they bit through my skin and muscle tissue. The pieces that they didn't swallow whole, they chewed a few times and spit out onto the floor. By the time they had reached my shoulders, I was hysterical. They savagely buried their heads into my neck and growled hungrily as they began eating away at me, bit by bit. I couldn't fight them, I couldn't stop them. And just as I felt Richie bite drectly into my adam's apple, I woke up with a scream!!!

I jumped out of the bed in a frenzy, and nearly leapt all the way across the room. I was soaking wet from head to toe from a cold sweat, and breathing so hard that I began to hyperventilate. I gasped for air, trying desperately to calm down, grabbing onto the wall of the van to keep myself from falling over. I was shaking uncontrollably, and kept feeling my throat to see if I could find any bite marks. It was like I could still feel them...sinking their teeth into me. It was so real...so SO real! I looked back at the bed, where Taryn was once again unaffected by my outburst, and I knew that I had been thrown back into consciousness early again. I sighed to myself, clutching my chest as though it would be enough to slow down the painfully rapid heartbeat, and slid down to the floor.

Why? Why do I keep seeing these things? The dreams are getting even worse, more realistic, and they might just kill me if they keep coming so frequently. I sat on the floor for another hour, just looking down at my feet, and continuously asking myself...what's wrong with me?