When I finally DID emerge from that trailer, some twenty five minutes later, my clothes were beyond wrinkled, and my hair was more messed up than 'patting it down with my hands' could fix. Hehehe, to look at myself in the side mirror of our trailer was a comical experience, to say the least. Taryn really WAS horny tonight. He seemed to give me an extra talented burst of sexual pleasure this evening, and I was feeling kinda weak in the knees at the moment. The way his body could move, the way his kisses knew just the right spots to land and just the right amount of suction to use against my skin.....sighhhh...he's perfection times a million. I honestly couldn't wait to tangle myself up with his smooth warm body again.

As I walked past Bryson in a love induced daze, he could only shake his head. "Running a little late, are we?"

I just nodded with a big dreamy smile on my face. "Yeah...maybe just a little." I said, with a slight blush. "I'll be back later."

"With a smile like THAT on your face, I'm sure you will." He replied, and waved me off as I proceeded to walk out through the front gate. No hiding, no sneaking around with Dylan's extra, no 'incidents' or people chasing behind me. I was just walking out on my own two feet with Bryson's blessing. And it felt good. It felt REALLY good!

The streets were a bit busy that evening, the hustle and bustle of the city surrounding me on all sides. Normally, I found myself curious of their distraction in one way or another. But not tonight. This time I felt...different. As though I had passed through another phase in my life. Maybe it was telling the others about my extra, maybe it was Taryn's undying love, or perhaps it was finally seeing Richie again to find that he was still alive and well. Who knows? It might have been the AMAZING sex I just had too! Hehehe! But...whatever feeling this was that was surging through my veins at that particular moment...it took me one step further into darkness. Not the black abyss of darkness that I felt was trying to drain the life from me little by little each day. But...a darkness that simply existed as the other side of light. A comfortable place of quiet, and stillness, where I had all I needed to be happy right there in front of me. I had places to journey out to, and more importantly...I had a place to return to when it was over. It felt as though I was finally beginning to accept it..and could let go long enough to make plans for a whole new future. There's no better feeling in the world than the one you experience once you've seen the beauty in that realization. I promise you that.

However, after walking for about 25 minutes, my senses alerted me to the fact that I wasn't alone. It was a gentle tug, and while I kept walking forward at first, there was an unmistakable signature in the presence following me. So I stopped in the middle of a quiet alley...and I called him out. "You can stop following me now, Trevor. I know you're there." At first there was no answer, but I turned around and looked directly at the corner of the alley where I knew he'd be standing. A soft wind blew a few strands of his blond locks out from behind the wall, and he had been caught. "I can lose you if I wanted to, Trevor. If nothing else, I can run three times as fast and blank out to the point where you couldn't even track my position. So why don't we stop with the game and you just let me get on with the rest of my evening?"

Finally, Trevor stepped out from around the corner and approached me with a sneer. "You think you're SO damn smart, don't you?" He said, as though any of his little threats could wipe the smile off of my face now that HE was the one lost for an answer. "You wanna know something? I don't care WHAT you are, or WHAT you can do. I'm still not impressed."

"I don't require you to be impressed, Trevor. All I ask is that you back off, and you and I will be fine." I replied calmly.

"None of this makes any difference. I know you, Justin. You don't think I do, but I do. You think that just because you've got some mystical title now that you're any different from that scared little punk who wanted to walk off of the end of the pier late one night? Huh?"

My smile dimmed a bit. "Watch it." I warned him.

"All the power in the WORLD won't change who you are. It's only going to cover it up with a fake ego. But you forget...I see right through that bullshit, straight to the heart of you. And you're no better than you were that first night I found you crying on the subway steps, willing to starve to death instead of hunting for your survival. You're a fucking 'joke' of a vampire."

"I SAID...watch it, Trevor." I said, taking a step towards him. But he didn't move.

"What? Are you gonna attack me now, oh great prophetic warrior?" He grinned. "You're no savior, Justin. You've got all the bells and whistles going for you, but you have absolutely no idea what you're doing. And eventually, your extra is going to eat you alive. Mentally you're still just a little boy. You're about as threatening as a toddler with a handgun...potentially dangerous, but without the skill to actually put it to good use." He was provoking me, trying his best to get to me, but I wasn't going to fall for it this time. Frankly, I just didn't care.

"Are we finished here? Because I have things to do." I said, and I believe that I struck a nerve. As though he didn't expect me to back down from him this time.

Trevor stepped forward, and gently rubbed his hand along the side of my face. "You still think about me, cutie pie? Like that night when you fed for the first time? Did you like the way I kissed you? Do you ever stop and think what it would be like...to have me fuck you...slowly...passionately? You do think about it...don't you?" His seductive smile was wasted on me. Trevor would love nothing more than to toy with my emotions and confuse me to the point of letting him find another way to manipulate me again. But he got no reaction from me. Not at all. "You know...one of these days, Justin...you and me are going to finally find ourselves a nice little 'solution' to this minor conflict of ours. You know that, don't you?"

"Perhaps." I said. "But first, why don't you try having this conversation with your boyfriend instead. He's watching you right now from the rooftop." I gently brushed Trevor's hand away, my senses reaching to feel the jealousy and anger in Michael's emotions as he saw Trevor touch me. Trevor took a step back, and looked up to see his 'dark angel' watching with hatred in his eyes. "You two have fun." I said, and blanked out right in front of him. Walking to the edge of the alley without him even being able to sense my desires from where he was standing. I'm sure those two have a lot to discuss. I refuse to be in the center of that relationship anymore.

When I reached the old warehouse to meet up with Com for my training that evening, I saw Dizz waiting alone waiting for me. He was sitting crosslegged on a dusty old table playing Frogger on a generously 'aged' wristwatch, and really enjoying himself. "Having fun?" I said.

"I can't believe this thing still works after all this time." He smiled, but then lost his frog promptly afterwards. "It's been damn near 20 years since I've played this, you know that?"

"Yeah, I believe it."

"You wanna give it a shot?"

"No thanks."

"Come on, haven't you ever played Frogger before?" He said.

"Hehehe, yeah....when I was FOUR!" I grinned, and he blew me off.

"Whatever. You don't know what you're missing. This here...this is a GAME! A REAL game! You get excited, you get an adrenaline rush, and it takes concentration and skill. The new stuff? Psh! It's all super graphics and three-dimensional double analog joystick with 250 different controls and fifteen different buttons of blah blah blah! You need a degree in physics and eight inch fingers just to hold the damn controller! Instead of a few quick games for 'fun', you end up spending eighteen hours a day for seven weeks of your life, running around in a boring world created by somebody else, searching for little details when you could just be blowing stuff up. Or in THIS case, trying not to squashed by an oncoming truck. Plain and simple."

"You're forgetting one thing though." I said.

"What's that?"

"Frogger sucks."

Hehehe, the look on his face was magic. "That hurts dude. Honestly." He slid down off of the table and put the watch away. "So...you feeling all loose and limber tonight?"

"Definitely. I feel better than ever." I said.

"I can see that? You've got some color back in your face. I take it you finally found a donor?" He put his thumb up to my neck to feel my pulse. "Ohhhh yeah! You've got a full supply. You're gonna be hot shit now!"

"So where is everybody?"

"Well, believe it or not...Com is running a little bit late. As ALWAYS. Probably stopped to help a vampire get a kitten out of a tree or whatever the fuck it is he does on a daily basis. And uh...." Dizz leaned forward to whisper, looking around the room. "...Don't tell him I told you, but Jazz is still kinda....'recovering'."

"Recovering? Recovering from what?"

"From YOU, playboy! Hehehe, I think that little demonstration with his extra the other day wore him out a lot more than he let on. You really tested that extra of his, and he had to overexert himself just to keep up. He's been sore and twitching ever since. But you didn't hear that from ME though. Far be it for me to let a 'halflife' know how badly he kicked his ASS! Hehehe!"

"Hehehe! Really? I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt him. It really was an accident."

"Don't apologize, the old grump had it coming. Besides, you're gonna be having a lot of 'accidents' soon. That's what the training is for. K?" Dizz walked a circle around me, and kinda tilted his head. "So how many abilities have you collected so far?"

"Um...I don't know. Quite a few, I guess. I haven't really been keeping track. A lot of stuff just kinda 'happens' on its own."

"Hmmm...how is your control with the ones you know about?"

"It's still a little bit shakey. But it's getting better, I think. I've practiced with a couple of them, and I can use them pretty easily. The one I can't get to work right is this damn....speed thing. Everytime I try to use it, I end up overshooting or running into something."

"Ahhhh....ok. Yeah, that's a difficult one. It takes some practice to get it right. Especially at your level." He said. "One thing to remember, is to focus on an 'end point'. Look at the place you want to reach, and go there. Make sure you practice STOPPING at that end point, and when you start running, find another end point further along, and so forth and so on. You've got to make sure you're not running yourself into brick walls everytime that particular extra kicks in. Trust me, they hurt." Dizz was still such a 'fan' of mine. The sparkle in his eyes when he looked at me...it was full of such admiration. It was an awesome feeling to be an idol for somebody else. "You wanna learn another one?" He asked.

"Learn another what?"

"Another extra?"


"Abraham Lincoln's." He smirked. "MINE! Who do you think? Hehehe!"

"OH!" I giggled. "Can I....do that?"

"Hell yes! Com's not here right now, Jazz probably won't be able to drag himself here for a bit. Why not?" He smiled excitedly. "Besides, I'd love to have a mimic using my extra out there! It would make me feel kinda 'famous', ya know?"

"Um...ok! Yeah!" Dizz walked over and took a hold of my hand.

"I'm not sure how long it takes for you to adopt these things as your own, but I want you to just keep contact with my hand, ok? And just focus on my eyes." He held on to me, and I looked him directly in the eye. It was almost like a staring contest, and it caused me to keep breaking out into a giggle or two just looking at him. He couldn't help but smile himself, and just kept holding my hand. About a minute and a half had passed in silence, and I suddenly felt my eyes jerk over to look at a crack in the wall next to us. A huge crack, with paint peelings around it. Of course...the old place was FULL of cracks, but for some reason that particular one stood out to me. "Did you feel it?" Dizz asked.

"Feel what?"

"Here, I'll try again. Remember, look me in the eye." I agreed, and a few seconds later, I could hear the light sounds of a spider crawling on the ceiling. I looked up at it, and again, for some reason it caught my attention and held it with a certain degree of fascination. "I KNOW you felt it that time!"

"Hehehe, no! What are you talking about?" I laughed.

He stepped away from me, letting go of my hand. "What were you looking at just now, Justin?"

"There was...a spider on the wall. That's all."

"I thought you were supposed to be looking me in the eye." He smiled.

"Ok...ok, I am. Promise." I did as he asked, but the second I did it, I noticed a dust bunny in the corner, rolling by on the floor.

"In the EYE, Justin!" He giggled.

"I AM!" I smiled, and tried again, but then it felt as though my attention became drawn to everything BUT his eyes. A cobweb in the corner, a chair, a table, a brick, a marking on the wall.

"You can't do it, can you?" He grinned, and I think I was beginning to understand. "It's a 'thrown focus'. You take the attention of the person in front of you, and you can literally throw it off of you and onto something else. Anything else. It doesn't even have to be tangible. You can have somebody thinking back to their first day at junior high, and when they're not looking...." My eyes were quickly directed to a penny on the floor for a second, and Dizz appeared right behind me! "....BAM!!!" He shouted in my ear, making me jump! "You hit 'em from behind! Voila! It's cool right?"

"Yeah! I likes!" I said with a smile. "Teach me more!"

For the next twenty to thirty minutes, Dizz tried to give me the basics on what he was doing and how to do it. On catching someone's attention first through my actions, and then tossing that attention to another part of the room. His little touches and physical contact were strengthening my ability more and more. And he explained it easily enough where my body began to settle into the new ability without much trouble at all. I found myself able to actually get a good grasp on what he was teaching me, and once I had gotten the hang of throwing the focus, he began teaching me how to move around it. How to move THROUGH it, even. I could definitely find a way to put this to good use! And Dizz was having so much fun teaching me, that it almost became a game in itself. By the time I had a decent handle on the whole thing, we were practically playing hide and go seek while standing right in front of each other. Everytime I saw him, he'd throw my focus off and move, and once I sensed him behind me, I'd do the same for him, and move to aother part of the room. It was actually pretty FUN!

Shortly after, Jazz arrived at the warehouse door, trying his best to walk straight as though he wasn't still sore from our last session together. He was naturally grumpy and agitated, even moreso than usual. "I'm surprised you came back after last time, halflife." He grumbled. "You feeling up to this tonight? Because we can quit if you're still trying to get yourself healed up from our little 'lesson', the other night."

I looked over at Dizz, and we shared a secret smile. "Nope! I'm feeling just fine, actually." Then I asked him, "How about you? Are YOU ok, Jazz?"

He straightened up, a mock arrogance crossing his face. "I'm fine. I doubt you've got what it takes to hurt me anyway, young blood."

"GOOD! Cause I'm feeling great! I could probably go alllllll night!" I grinned, and I could feel his frustration as I walked passed him. Hehehe, good for him. Showoff.

"I'm glad, Justin." Came a voice from the doorway, and Comicality floated through the shadows to supervise another training session. "Because we have a lot to cover tonight. A lot indeed."

He didn't give me much of a greeting really, he just started the night off with a short meditation excercise. One where he tried to teach me the value of concentrating on two or three different things at once. He said I needed to 'divide my thoughts', so that I would be more effective with my extras and could protect myself more efficiently. However, something was different about Comicality this evening. Not that he had ever been the most cheerful person in the world. I never really expected any attention from him at all, much less candy and flowers. But tonight....tonight there was an especially dark vibe invading his attitude towards me, and I couldn't quite figure out why.

Sparring was next, and Dizz and Jazz did their worst to keep me moving! They threw objects, attacked from both sides, and came at me with much more physical contact than I was used to. It was hard for me to suddenly try to go to blows with them full force like that. "Justin! You HAVE to remember to THINK!!! You're PANICKING! DON'T PANIC! THINK!" Com shouted at me, and it only succeeded in frustrating me more. "AGAIN!"

"Wait...I'm tired." I huffed.

"AGAIN!!!" He yelled, and Dizz and Jazz followed their orders...coming at me with closed fists!

Jazz had all the strength of a herd of thoroughbreds. And Dizz was so fast that you couldn't keep track of his arms and legs visually. You'd have to move in advance to avoid his blows. They trapped me in the middle, hitting me from both sides while I tried my best to block the flurry of punches and kicks. I jumped up to grab an overhead rafter, and swung out of the middle of their trap, landing a few feet away to give me some breathing room. Dizz was on me in a flash, his kicks aimed directly for my head. I had to keep my arms up to block, and they were tiring out fast. I felt Jazz running up behind me and had to think fast. I left the ground, and let my feet walk along the wall for a few steps to roll out of the way. I threw Dizz's focus off of me just long enough to spin past him and kick Jazz in the chest. But Dizz was well aware of his own tricks, and kicked me in the back as soon as I landed. Jazz then backhanded me to the floor, my lip now bleeding slightly from the strike. I shot up to my feet and tried to fight back, but the two of them at once was really pushing my skills to their limits. Jazz kicked a table and sent it sliding towards me at top speed. I dove on top of it, stopping its forward motion, and swung a leg around to connect with Dizz's face. Jazz charged the table, smashing it in half just as I rolled to the floor. I went to punch out at Jazz, but Dizz grabbed my arm from behind, delivering a few hard punches to my ribs. I was able to contort my body slightly to wiggle my way out of his grasp, tossing him to the side, and then felt Jazz's kick hit me directly in the stomach! I was pushed back to my knees, and doubled over, trying to catch my breath. But they never gave me a chance to regroup. They just kept coming.

>From my knees, I dodged and blocked a few of Jazz's kicks, and swung around to footsweep him to the floor. I landed on my back and sprung back to my feet just in time to see a CHAIR coming right at me! I leaned far enough to the side to dodge it, but Dizz was already on me again, tackling me to the floor. I flipped him over me, but could barely get to my feet again before Jazz had grabbed me in a headlock from behind. He dragged me backwards towards the wall, my heels scraping helplessly on the dusty floor beneath me. I felt Jazz's electric pulse build up inside me, and had to use it right away. The charge flared up and shocked Jazz into letting me go, allowing me to kick backwards and slam his back up against the wall. I gave Dizz a spin kick that he was able to duck under, and the two of us traded a rapid succession of blows...neither one of us landing a single punch. When Jazz was back on his feet this time, I was able to dodge his kick from behind without even looking at him. I just 'knew' he was there. For a very short time, I was actually able to hold my own with BOTH of them at once! Even while they were giving me their all. But it didn't last. I could hardly breathe, and my body was exhausted. Jazz swung his kick low to sweep me off of my feet just as Dizz spin kicked me in the chest from the opposite direction. My back hit the grond hard, and knocked the wind out of me. I rolled to my stomach and tried to crawl away from them, but Jazz grabbed me by the ankle and dragged me back. The fight wasn't over yet.

Things got fierce, and I kicked and moved as fast and as hard as my aching body would allow. DAMN they were good! I didn't know how much more I could take. I just wanted Comicality to call a halt to this session just so I could rest for a moment or two. Then...as my thoughts got the best of me, both opponents kicked me in the chest at once, knocking me backwards into one of the supports of the warehouse. The agitation of being hurt build up instantly, and without any prior thought at all, my brain geyser shot out at them full blast from behind my eyes! Both Jazz and Dizz spun to opposite sides of the room, and I watched as the enraged power of the blast put a large circular dent in the wall behind them, cracking and splitting the plaster from the impact. Then, they ran at me from both sides, and I took another beating. There was no way to block it all. No way to dodge. They pushed me back into a corner and basically wailed on me until Comicality finally threw up his hands and yelled, "ENOUGH!"

Thank God! The punches stopped, and I slumped down to the floor, huffing and puffing, gasping for air and coughing from all the dust I inhaled from being knocked to the ground so much. My body felt like it was going to go completely numb on me. "You ok?" Dizz asked. And I nodded.

"Disappointing. Very disappointing." Comicality grunted, and only granted me a short pause before he started another excercise. This was going to be a long night.

One hour, two hours, three hours...the training went on and on and on. And even though I was doing MUCH better than I ever have before, all Com could do was inform me on how I was doing it wrong. How pathetic I was, and how I'm not concentrating. I even went through an entire excercise without getting hit ONCE, and he STILL wasn't satisfied. I just could NOT get him to applaud me no matter what I did. "Justin....sighhh...you MUST learn to focus your blows. You're swinging at the air." He said, after stopping one of our sparring matches. "You're connecting, but you're lacking in power. You want to extend beyond your target, and THEN make impact!" He'd say. "Your stances need work! They're sloppy, that's why you're still off balance." He shouted. "You're STILL allowing them to back you into a corner. DON'T allow anyone to back you into a corner, Justin, that's DANGEROUS!"

"Sighhhhh...." I gritted my teeth out of aggravation, and went to sit on a chair in the corner, using my shirt to wipe the sweat off of my face. That's it. Fuck this. I give up. He's never fucking pleased with ANYTHING I do!

Com was silent, clearly frustrated with me as well. Especially since I sat down to pout instead of continuing this last sparring match. His eyes narrowed, and turned to go outside and clear his head. "Give him another ten minute rest and then get right back to work. I want those stances to be flawless before he leaves here tonight." He said, and with that, he left the warehouse.

I was so fatigued...and yet...so ANGRY! I wanted to just put my face in my hands and cry. I seriously did. "Don't worry, Justin. You're doing great. Ok?" Dizz told me, giving me a gentle pat on the back.

"Com doesn't seem to think so." I pouted, still a bit out of breath. "I'm doing everything he's asking me to do, and it's still not good enough. I'm trying my hardest. What's his problem, anyway?"

"It's not you, really. He's just a little stressed right now. It happens when it gets close to the end of someone's training."

Jazz added, "Personally...I can't WAIT for you to be done. Then we don't have to look at your pretty boy mug anymore."

Dizz barely looked in Jazz's direction, obviously used to his attitude by now. "Com might seem like he's pushing you really hard right now, but he really wants you to get this right. He needs to make sure you're safe." I didn't say anything, but Dizz gave me a small grin. "Don't sweat it. It's a good thing, trust me." He said. "It just means he's gonna miss you when you're gone."

"Gone? What do you mean, gone? I'm not going anywhere." I said. And in the background, I heard Jazz let out a sarcastic chuckle.

"Heh heh, ohhh geez...here we go."

"What's THAT supposed to mean?"

Dizz stepped in front of me. "It just means...you're almost done here, Justin. You're progressing and growing so fast...it's awesome. It's getting to the point where we can't teach you anymore tricks. The rest you'll have to do on your own."

"But...I can still come by, right? I mean, hopefully you guys aren't kicking me out of your little 'club' here." I asked.

Jazz replied, "What the hell would you wanna stick around here for? We already told you, pretty boy...you're FINE. You got what you wanted out of Com. You needed training, he trained you. What else do you want from him?"

"I don't know...maybe be some kind of FRIEND or something?" I thought it was an easy enough question to answer, but from the way the two of them looked at each other...I evidently had it wrong.

"Justin...." Dizz started. "...I think....maybe you misunderstood. Com...he's not neccessarily one to 'open himself up' to stuff like that anymore. You know? I mean, he's cool and all...but...'friends' aren't really his thing."

"What are you talking about? We were talking just fine. He just needs to help me out a bit, that's all."

"Sure, you and about half of the civilized vampires in the entire city of Chicago." Jazz said rudely. "Come on kid, you CAN'T be that naive. What? Did you honestly think that one day you and Com were gonna be the best of friends? Maybe hang out at the bowling alley together and kick back a few shots of tequila? Let me save you the trouble, kiddo...it's NOT gonna happen." He stood up laying a towel across his shoulders and walking closer to me. "Once you're done, you're done. That's it. You'll be ready to walk out there and join the rest of the world on your own. In a year, you won't even remember his name, nor will you care. You know it, and HE knows it. So let's not try to make any false promises here, alright. I assure you, he's heard them ALL."

"I'm NOT just here to get trained and then walk out on you guys. I like it here." I said, but they weren't really buying it. Not even Dizz, who was usually on my side.

"Listen...you've got a good life, right? The problems you had before...you can deal with them now that you've got a little extra confidence." Dizz asked.

"What's that got to do with anything?"

"Well...Justin, things are different now. When you came to him, you were hurting. You felt alone, and misunderstood, and you needed to find your inner strength. But...that's changed now. You've got good friends back at the lot, you've got a new boyfriend that loves you dearly, and soon you'll be able to defend yourself in case you get into trouble. I mean...let's be honest, Justin, you wouldn't even be here if you weren't looking for some answers."

"That's not...the POINT."

"But that IS the point, Justin." Dizz was trying to tell me as calmly as possible, his hand on my shoulder. "You needed help when you found Com. You needed some guidance, and some answers, and you needed to be able to stand on your own two feet. Well...you're almost there. And soon you'll be moving on with your friends to use what you learned here for your OWN life. Soon...you're gonna forget all about this place, and he'll become some faded whisper of a memory in the back of your mind. He expects that. He knows that it's coming. That's why he's trying to disconnect from you. He doesn't even want you to look back once you leave."

"I just TOLD you...I'm not leaving. What part of this are you guys not understanding here?"

Jazz had evidently had enough of the sugarcoating. "Listen kid, don't waste our time here, alright? We KNOW the fucking drill already. We've done this a hundred times at least, and it never changes. Do you honestly think you're the first scared and lonely kid to come across us, get what he needed to stand on his own, and then take off without another fucking word spoken to ANY of us? Ever? Do you really think you're the first boy to sit in that chair and whine about how 'you'll never leave him' and how 'you'll never hurt him' and how special this whole experience is for you? Please!" Jazzmocked me with a whiney childish voice, "Oh Com...you mean the world to me! You've done so much to help me, I'll NEVER forget you! Gimmee a fucking break!"

"You don't know me! You don't know a damn thing about me!"

"Oh no? Well tell me something, halflife...what happens when your training is over? Huh? Exactly what are you going to 'need' Comicality for once you've learned how to be your own vampire?"

"Maybe some of us care a little bit more than others. Did you ever stop to think about that?"

"Get real! There are people out there who have known Com a LOT better than you do, and they have walked out on him twice as fast. Don't pretend to be the exception to the rule, because we've all been down that road before. That little piece of faith that made us believe someone like that could exist in this world DIED for us years ago. Even longer for Comicality. So spare me the sentiment. He's through having his heart ripped out by the people he trusted most." Jazz said. "He's not SUPPOSED to be your friend, Justin. He's a gateway. He's a stepladder for you to find and step on so you can get to the next level...and you know it. Nobody ever thinks to go back and thank the stepladder, kid. Not once they've grown tall enough to reach the top shelf all by themselves. So if you're thinking about causing Com any more pain by making FAKE promises of being that 'one special person' who won't leave him behind, you can forget about it right now. Because the sooner you've gone off to be all happy and cuddly with somebody else that you care about more, the sooner we can all get back to searching for the next desperate newblood with problems he can't fix himself." Jazz backed up a bit. "We're not making this up, kid. It'll happen, it always does. Right now, Com's out there somewhere, waiting for you to wipe your muddy feet off on his cape so you can ditch him and be done with it all. He's not going to be worth much more to you than that. He's a tool. You use it, and you put it back in the box. That's how it works."

"You know what? That's a pretty FUCKED up thing to say about somebody!" I said angrily.

But Dizz took over. "Trust us, Justin. WE didn't say it. HE did."

"Yeah....he said it the last time one of us tried to be his 'friend'." Jazz continued.

I didn't know what to say anymore. I only knew that arguing was going to be useless right now. It looks like I've got a lot of bad blood ahead of me. People who probably didn't give a shit, people who might have been as bad as they say, but that's hardly my fault. How could they have been screwing my image up before I even got here? I didn't have much more to say, and I didn't need to have my emotions battered any longer for something I didn't even do. I briefly looked over at Dizz, and even though he usually gave me a friendly alternative to Jazz's abrasive ramblings...he didn't say a single word in my defense. Not one. He must think of me the same way. So I just stood up from my chair and walked over to the door to join Com outside. "Screw you both." I mumbled softly, a bit hurt from them double teaming me like that, and walked out into the night air.

It was quite a distance I had to walk before I could pick out Comicality's presence among the shadows. Again, he was down by the river, staring out into the waves. Standing back to watch for a second, he looked so lonely. Just a single shadow trying desperately to separate itself from the darkness surrounding it. For a moment...in all this silence and solitude...it seemed as though he were last person on the Earth. I would have approached slowly, but who was I kidding? He already knew I was there. Whether he acknowledged me or not. "Hey...." I said quietly as I walked to stand at his side.

He looked over at me, putting a hand on my shoulder. He was quiet for a moment, but his tone when he did finally speak seemed much more relaxed. "You know...despite my criticisms, you handled yourself very well tonight, Justin."

szurp "I'm really trying, you know? One day...I'll get it perfect. I promise."

"No, Justin. Never try to be perfect." He said calmly. "Perfect is complete. Perfect can't change, perfect can't think, perfect can't grow. Vampires who feel that they have reached perfection are often close to finding a need to have a sunquest. Hoping to end their life and enter a new world, a new existence...hoping to be lost in imperfection again." He said. "That's why the elders are so revered in our world. They've mastered the art of realizing that knowledge is as infinite as time itself. Once the arrogance of assumed perfection is gone from your heart and mind...you can live to be as old as any vampire in existence. Maybe even older."

"So...the whole...'perfect vampire' idea....that's just a myth, huh?"

"I'd like to think of it as more of an endless persuit. A constant motivation that drives us to search for something more." He said quietly. "You don't have to be perfect, Justin. You just have to make your efforts to grow as sincere and complete as you'd like them to be."

"Well...in that case, maybe I'll screw up for a little bit longer." I smiled, and he, surprisingly, returned the sentiment.

"Yes, Justin. Perhaps you will." He grinned. "You have learned much faster than I expected you would. You have gone beyond stubborness and allowed your mind to remain open to new ideas. That in itself, is the most difficult task of all. Your training is almost complete."

"So I hear." I said softly, pausing for a moment or two. "Seems...Dizz and Jazz have this crazy idea that I'll be leaving soon." At that comment, Com took his hand off of my shoulder, and turned back to the waves. His grin disappearing once again behind the swirling mask of shadows.

"You still have some very imporatant concepts to learn before you're finished." He said, avoiding the last comment entirely.

"Like what?"

"You're still thinking like a 'fighter', Justin. You need to start thinking like a 'chess player'."

"Thinking like a what?" I said, confused.

"What you don't realize is that while you are extremely fast, strong, and incredibly skilled in everything you do when in combat...you are still trapped into playing your opponents game." Com moved closer to the edge of the river and looked over the side. "A true battle isn't about strength, or speed, or even size. A physical confrontation is actually a competition between two minds. The punches and kicks are merely an 'extension' used to carry out the strategy created by your thoughts. The battle is not won by the person who fights the hardest, but by the mind that better understands the inner workings of its opponent."

"But I tried thinking about everything that I'm doing and sometimes they can still beat me?" I asked. He paused, and then attempted to make it simple for me.

"Your emotions, your skills, your instincts...all of these things are important. And you ARE a strong fighter, even stronger than myself. But you still have yet to realize your full potential because of your self imposed lack of choices." He said. "Right now, Dizz and Jazz can back you into any corner of that warehouse whenever they want to. They can throw you off balance, make you angry, force you to use powers you don't understand, cause you to fight blindly, cause you to panic...you're playing their game instead of finding your own and drawing them into it. HOW you fight...IS the fight." I was silent for a moment, and tried letting some of what he was telling me finally click. "Your choices in combat still rely entirely on the circumstances of your current situation. THAT'S why you lose focus. THAT'S why they can beat you. Because whoever controls your situation, controls your choices. You'll always be a slave to anyone who is able to figure that out." He told me. "They are building the walls of a maze without end, and causing you to run through it. You have to tear those walls down and start fresh with every movement. Take nothing at face value, don't let anything influence your perspective of what's going on around you. Know yourself FIRST...and then base your choices on who YOU are. Find your OWN pespective, and let it educate you as to what the proper choices will be. Not just when fighting, but everywhere in life. Anyone with a weak mind can be 'led' into a certain way of thinking or feeling or acting...but it takes a strong person to truly know what they believe in, and can choose to accept or deny their influences without prejudice. Once that is achieved, you can then make the right decision for YOU...even when everyone else tells you it's wrong."

"Comicality scripture 4-12, verse 9." I said proudly.

"Ahhh...you've read some of my work?" He seemed almost pleased.

"My friend, Doc, at the lot made me study a few select passages, yeah."

"Good. Re-read them. For that is the missing link in all that I have taught you from day one." Com took me by the hand and led me to the river's edge with him. Both of us peering into our own reflections. "Even in your human life...you allowed your circumstances to get the best of you. You allowed an abusive father, an alcoholic mother, troubles at school, a sick friend, a car load of bullies...all of the obstacles in your world, to bring you to these waters seeking death. You let those situations control your choices, and keep you in a prison without walls." As he looked into my eyes, warmly, I could feel an unrestrained burst of concern. Support. Love. "Somewhere in you, Justin...that mentality still exists. It is your anger and your pain that anchors you down to your knees. You have to break that chain, Justin. It is the last string attached to the puppet your suffering has made of you." He said looking back at the river. "After that...you will be finished with all I can teach you. The rest is up to you." I could easily sense a sadness in him. One that he was prepared for, maybe even numb against, but it was there nonetheless.

"You know...." I said softly. "...Once....my training and stuff is all over...I thought...maybe I could visit you once in a while. Or something."

He didn't even look in my direction. "You should go. I believe you have had quite the workout tonight."

"You can ANSWER me when I talk to you, ya know?" I said with a bit of a smirk. But I didn't conjure up even a HINT of a smile from him.

"You should be focused on other things right now. After your last feeding, you will be absorbing extras at a greater rate..." He started, but I interrupted him.

"Don't DO that! Stop shutting me out and just...TALK to me!" I said, but he didn't answer. "Why are you being like this? It's like...the closer I get to being able to fend for myself, the more you push me away. Why?"

"Like I said, Justin...you are almost finished with all I can teach you." He said, now walking away from the river's edge. "Soon, you will have the ability to handle both your inner and outer conflicts without me."

"So? So what?"

"You have found yourself. And now your life must begin anew. That does not include me anymore."

"Is that what you think? That I'm just here to use you to be happy and then take off without even saying goodbye?" I was angry, I couldn't help it. I thought that maybe Dizz and Jazz were just being pessimistic about the whole thing, but seeing Com avoid my eyes like this just proved them right. "What did I ever do to make you think so badly of me?"

"I never expected you to stay, Justin." He said. "Our time together is almost up, and I wish you the best in everything you encounter from now throughout eternity."

"But WHY??? Why does it have to end like this?"

"It just does." He said, and he kept walking. But this time I put my hand on his shoulder and turned him to face me!

"You wanna know something? I'm pretty fucking INSULTED that you would see me that way! After all of this bullshit that I've been through, it really hurts to see that you never trusted me to be anything other than your 'student'." I shouted, and I WAS hurt. I was offended and felt rejected because I just couldn't understand. "Don't you think I care about you more than that? Don't you think ANYBODY cares about you more than that?"

There was a silence, and he looked me directly in the eyes, and said...quite simply..."No."

He pulled away from me gently, and backed away. "Com...it doesn't have to BE like this. I'm not going anywhere. Don't....don't you think I'd be there for you if you needed me?"

He pulled further away, the shadows swirling up even tighter against him to protect him. To hide him further from me. "What I 'need', Justin, is for you to find a life that suits you, some level of happiness, and then have you take my message and spread it as far as you can before I'm gone for good. THAT'S what I need."

"That's not good enough."

"It will have to be." I started to say something else, but he didn't give me the chance. "Come back in a week's time. We can finish the remainder of your training then. I'm needed elsewhere."

"You never tell me ANYTHING! You haven't shared one PIECE of yourself with me, and you just expect me to understand this? Maybe if you didn't shut people so far out of your protective bubble, they'd find some reason to stick around!"

"Or more reasons to run away..."

"That's always a possibility.." I said. "...But you take your chances and you see what you get. Aren't YOU the one letting your situation control you now?"

"Watch your tone." He said, attempting to regain our teacher/student dynamic again. But that wasn't the case this time. This time...we were standing at eye level.

"Why can't you just trust me?"

"My survival isn't based on trusting you." He said. "It's based on trusting the painful experiences that preceed you and anything you could ever hope to offer me."

"How do YOU know what I'm gonna do?"

"I refuse to argue about this any longer! What's done is done. I am your guide! Anything else is innappropiate." He demanded. "Now leave us."

"This isn't FAIR! You didn't even give me a fucking CHANCE!"

"ENOUGH!" He shouted back.

"What was it you told me once? Oh yeah, I remember..." I said, Doc's extra allowing me to quote him word for word. "...To think the worst of me and my intentions is more 'self inflicted' than you know."

"Go." He said, not paying me any attention at all. And I didn't move at first. "GO!" It was angry, almost spiteful, and I had no choice but to leave.

But as I walked passed him, I told him in a sarcastic tone, "Gee...thanks for 'listening', Com. I guess I'll see you in a week, huh? Great." He stood there silently, not even looking me in the eye. "I can't wait to finish my training. I guess....once I'm a great 'warrior' like you....I won't need anybody." Still no answer....so I turned to leave him there alone. "You know something, Com? You said you were always standing on the side of the river....wondering whether to chase the raft of happiness or save the drowning soul..." I said. "...But what happens when you're the one who's drowning, huh? Who are you gonna let save you when the time comes?" And with that, I was gone.

It was a long walk home that night. My thoughts were tightly swirled around what had happened, and I began to wonder if I should be angry at the son of a bitch...or pity his position. 'Vampire guide' or not...he could at least have enough respect for me to give me the benefit of the doubt. Or maybe even meet me halfway. How the hell does he expect anybody to stick around when he offers nothing of himself in return? How am I supposed to understand anything about him when he never tells me anything? It's like I'm being kept a mile away from him at every angle, and the harder I try to get closer, the further he hides from me. Well...he can't blame that all on ME. I'm not the badguy here. If he wants so much damn 'quiet time' then fine. He can have it. Who needs him? I can do just fine on my own. He hardly pays me any attention anyway. I just don't appreciate being lumped into a category with people who didn't have enough heart to give a shit. I hardly had the chance to choose them to 'represent' me.

I walked for almost an hour, and some of the frustration had melted away. But, while I usually would have loved to stick around and talk and joke with everybody in the lot for a little bit once I got home...I felt strangely uncomfortable walking back in there. It was weird, but everyone was peeking at me out of the corner of their eyes. I could hear faint whispers, and got some weird smiles from everyone around. Even MAX was seemingly walking on eggshells around me. I'm sure they didn't mean to do it, but it felt so alien to me that I opted to take Taryn's hand and go back to our trailer for most of the night anyway.

"How was your training?" He asked me, noticing that the look on my face was less than happy.

"Sighhh...'interesting'. Educational." I grunted. Taryn stepped in front of me, his hands gently gripping me by the waist, and kissed me sweetly on the lips to cheer me up. "I'm ok. Really. Just...it was a bad night. That's all."

"The nights not over yet." He smiled, and he guided to our 'home'.

I think he was still reeling from our sex play earlier in the evening, because he nearly 'attacked' me when we got inside and shut the door. His soft hands groped and squeezed me all over, and although this wasn't my PLAN to do this...I wasn't gonna stop him. Even though my body was too sore to really go after him like I wanted to. We were making out for a little bit, his lips deliciously crushed against my own, but after a few kisses, he pulled back a bit and laughed. "What?" I asked.

"You need a shower!" He giggled.

"Shut up! I've been TRAINING all night, what did you expect?"

"I expected a shower!" He smiled, and gave me another kiss as I pouted playfully beside him. "Lucky for you, I love you enough to let you sleep next to me tonight."

"Hehehe, you're a real 'bastard' when you wanna be, you know that?"

"Yes, but I'm all yours anytime you want me.....except for tonight. Hehehe!" And we laid back to simply relax for a little while longer. But we soon heard a fevered knock at our door. "What is that?" Taryn asked.

"Um....I don't know." We both got up and went to the door to see what was wrong. Standing outside was Dylan, a totally nervous wreck. He was looking like such a worried 'basket case' that we seriously thought there was an emergency. "What's up? Dylan, what's wrong???"

"It's MAX!" Dylan said.

"What ABOUT him???"

"He fixed my nightlight!!!" Taryn and I both waited, wondering where the 'bad part' was going to kick in. But evidently...to Dylan, anyway...that WAS the bad part.

"Omigod....DYLAN!" Taryn said, both he and I taking a huge sigh of relief. "You scared us half to death!"

"I'm sorry, but...this is serious! I need help! I mean...there's no reason to stay with Dion now! And if there's no reason to sleep in his truck...then...then what?" He whined.

"Did you ask him if you could stay for a while longer?" I wondered.

"He asked ME!!! Earlier tonight!" Dylan was in such bad shape. We were having a hard time trying to figure out why he was going into hysterics over it. "So....what do I do?"

I smiled. "Dude....you say 'Hell yes', and you happily improvise from there!" But that didn't seem to help from the scared look on his face. "Dylan...you like him, right?"

"You KNOW I do!"

"And he MUST like you if he offered to let you stay with him after hearing that your light was fixed. So....?"

He didn't say anything, just blushed and looked at his constantly fidgeting hands. "SO.......?" He said at last, frantically trying to get us to give him a 100 percent guarantee before coming to any conclusions on his own.

"SO....get in there! Stay with him! Get close! What are you waiting for?" Geez, he looked like he was about to cry from being so timid. "Dylan...you'll do fine. Trust me, ok? Just spend some time with him. Get to know each other a little better. You really don't have to do much more than be yourself and I'm sure Dion will love you."

"I don't know about this, you guys."

"Don't sell yourself short. You've got a lot to offer him, Dylan. So just go for it, and don't look back." I said, and Taryn backed me up with a nod. "Don't let your fear make you a 'puppet'. You can make your own choices." Gee, maybe that little lesson DID come in handy.

Just then, Dion came around the corner calling out for him, and I could feel the hysteria building up inside of Dylan fast. He was letting his shyness get the best of him, and he was already beginning to concentrate so that he could blank out and evade contact. But I wouldn't let him. Not this time. Instead, I thought back to Dizz's extra, and with just a little effort, I playfully threw Dylan's focus over towards Dion's crotch! Hahaha! Not only was the distraction enough to keep him from going invisible, but it rattled him to the point where he couldn't think fast enough to try it again. "THERE you are!" Dion grinned, Napolean trotting lazily behind him. "I've been looking all over for you. Didn't you hear me calling you just now?"

"Um....uh...." Dylan stumbled and stammered, still blushing furiously from the image in his head.

"We were talking, that's all." Taryn answered.

"Ah, ok. Well, I was just wondering if you had thought anymore about staying with me tonight. I mean...I'd kinda like the company." Dion let a little bit of his own emotion slip, and I could feel him trying to shut it down as quickly as he could. These two...I swear...they're a good match. Somehow finding the key to bring one another out of hiding...it was pure magic to watch.

"Well.....uhhh....I thought about it....er...."

"He'd love to!" I said. And although the initial acceptance frightened him a bit, and he couldn't find the words to say it, Dylan pointed up at me and replied...

"Yeah....what Justin said." Hehehe, awww...it was so cute.

"Ok...good. Well...do you wanna bring some things over or something?" Dion asked. "Or...maybe we could just talk for a while?"

"Um.....yeah, s-s-sure. That's cool. Talking, I mean." They kinda bashfully avoided one another's eyes for a moment or two, and then went back to Dion's truck for the night. With both of them waving back at Taryn and me.

"You know...I think we did them some good tonight." I said.

Taryn kissed me on the top of my head. "Yeah. I'm kinda confused though. I would have thought that Dylan would have went invisible and run off when he heard Dion coming. But he didn't."

"Hehehe, yeah....strange, huh?" I smiled, and got up to go back in the trailer with my boyfriend for the evening. I'm falling further and further in love with this place everyday.

The next evening, I think I had slept a bit longer than usual...because I could faintly hear Taryn's voice in the room as I was coming back into consciousness. For the first time in a long time, he was up before I was. He was calling my name, and tapping me on the shoulder. I felt groggy, and I just didn't want to open up my eyes. I rolled over onto my back and pulled the covers up to my neck.

"Justin....dude...wake up!" He said.

"Are you horny again? Hehehe, I thought you said I needed a shower." I said sleepily, and began reaching for my pillow. I couldn't find it with my eyes closed. But what was even stranger than that... was that I couldn't even feel the mattress beneath me. Not the mattress, not the sheets, nothing.

"JUSTIN!!!" Taryn said excitedly. And it was then that I finally let my eyes flutter open.

"OH SHIT!!!" I looked up to see the ceiling of our trailer almost pressed up against my nose, and the mattress was down below me! The blanket was hanging off of my suspended body, and my feet were sticking to the wall as though I were standing straight up on solid ground. "WHAT THE HELL?!?!?!" I shouted. "What happened??? How did I get up here?"

"I don't KNOW! I just woke up and you were like that!" Taryn started snickering at my predicament, and despite me being a little scared at the moment, his boyish laughter made me smile too.

"This isn't FUNNY, dude! How am I supposed to get down from here?"

"Hehehe! I don't know, Justin. This is too strange for ME to deal with!"

"Um.....ok...ok...what do I do here?"

"Do you want me to go 'get' somebody or something?" Taryn asked.

"No, no...it's ok. I can just...um....I'll figure this out." I slowly turned to the side and took a step forward, then another, walking sideways on the wall with no problem at all. I thought I was getting a better handle on this thing, but now it seemed to be stronger than ever. Shit! I took a few more steps, trying to get my bearings right again. I figured that this must be one of those 'huge leaps in advancement' that I should be worried about since my second feeding. I walked to the middle of the trailer, and felt myself rising even FURTHER up from the floor! "Whoah! OK! OK! Stop! Stop!" I said to myself outloud, and my feet stopped sliding further up the wall. I turned the other way, so that I was facing the floor, and attempted to find a way down. "Um...wait...I think I got it. If I just...switch my thoughts of gravity...to the floor, instead of the wall...." But as soon as the thought had crossed my mind, my foothold on the wall slipped free! My entire sense of gravity disappeared, and I fell, face down, straight to the floor with a loud 'thud'! "OWWW! Yeah...that's the trigger alright..." I said, wincing in pain.

"Ohhh...hehehe...are you alright, punkin?"

"Um...no." I said with a playful pout. "Hold me?" Taryn giggled and came over to comfort me with his soft embrace. We just stayed there on the floor for the next ten minutes or so before Bryson got up to get us started on our evening.

"Alright, Taryn, I want you to take Justin out for a bit, and start him out on some visualization and mental excercises tonight. He's going to need some help figuring things out. Ok?" Bryson told us. "And NO hanky panky, you two! This is 'homework'. You understand?"

"Yessss, Bryson." We both said, rolling our eyes.

"Good. Go to it." He sent us off, and we started towards the gate, but not before Dylan came bouncing passed us. Taryn and I looked at each other with a shocked smile. You see...Dylan may 'walk' around the lot...he may 'creep' by us undetected, and occassionally...we see him sitting still. But he does not 'bounce'. NO 'bouncing'. Not ever. At least he never did before. He was practically skipping to music...and out in the open where everybody could see him.

"Dylan?" Taryn said, his grin a contrast from his brow, which was wrinkled in confusion. "You ok, buddy?" He asked.

Dylan could hardly contain his smile. He blushed a DEEP red, held his breath, even bit down on his bottom lip in an attempt to hold his grin back...but even with his face turned away from us, we could see the biggest damn smile I've ever seen on his precious young face. He giggled outloud as though he couldn't control it, and his grin was so wide, he couldn't even manage to speak.

"Dude....what happened today?" I asked, but that only made him giggle more.

"Well...hehehehehehe......" That was all he said, and he sorta walked passed the both of us and kept grinning until he was far enough away to start skipping again.

"What the hell was THAT about?" Taryn chuckled, and then we both turned to see Dion walking out with a big smile himself. In fact, I don't think I had ever felt such a warm rush of emotion from him, not since I've been here. Taryn and I both ran over and got right in his face with grins of our own!

"WHAT?" He said. "Don't you guys have somewhere to BE?"

"TELL US!!!" I said.

"Tell you what? I don't know what you're talking about."

"TELL US!!!!" I said louder this time! I HAD to know!

"Sighhh...it was...we just..." Dion blushed this time, his skin turning an even darker shade of almond brown as his lips curled up in the cutest way. "...We...sorta...kinda...kissed last night. For a while." He said.

"For a WHILE???" Taryn said, amazed! "Like...not a peck on the lips, not a goodnight kiss, but you're talking like...'making OUT' here, aren't you???"

"SHHHH!!!" Dion said, trying to shut us up. As though their grins and giggles could be hidden from anybody else in that lot for the rest of the night. "I don't know if I could say all THAT! We just...we 'hooked up' a little bit. That's all."

We both smiled at him teasingly, and he couldn't hold his laughs in for a second longer. I reached out and put a hand on his shoulder, ruffling his hair for a second like he had done for me the other night. "I'm proud of you, kid!" I said, grinning.

"Oh, shut up!" He smiled. "GO! Get outta here! Go learn something!"

"We're gonna want details later!" Taryn taunted.

"Ask him how good his sweet little ass looks in the shower! I've seen it, Dion! It's AWESOME! It's small and tight and pale and round and..."

Dion reached into his truck and threw his pillow at me as we ran out of the gate laughing! Damn...FINALLY!!! It's about TIME they got a clue!

Taryn and I took a long leisurely walk out to some building not far from the lake. It had a large multi level parking garage next to it, and when we made our way all the way to the top, it was like we could see the whole city from there. Between the sparkling skyline, the dark waves of the lake, the motion of the constant traffic on Lake Shore Drive, and the twinkling green eyes of the boy I loved more than anything on this planet...I doubt I could have asked for a better view.

"Come on, Justy, you have to concentrate. Hehehe! Bryson said no 'hanky panky' out here." Taryn said as he tried to fend off one of my many kisses galore.

"Well that's not fair. Dylan and Dion get to have hanky panky." I smiled.

"Ha! 'Hanky' maybe...but I'll believe the 'panky' part when I see it."

"Does that mean you wanna watch?" I asked, and he gave me a gentle shove.

"FOCUS!" He said. "Remember what I told you. You take your thoughts, whatever they may be, and you mentally surround them. Kinda like a bubble." I thought of something 'fun' to send his way, and did as he told me. "You got one?" I nodded, trying not to lose the image. "Ok...now all you have to do, is focus on that particular thought, and send it straight to me. Right through my eyes. Think of it as a beam of light. And be careful not to lose it or confuse the message any. Hold it steady."

I gave it a shot, and saw Taryn suddenly jerk back and wince in pain. Like hearing the thunderous squealing feedback of a microphone and speaker. "AH!!! Ok....ok, hon...that's too much juice. Ouch..." He used his fingers to hold the bridge of his nose while he tried to ignore the agony of having me push too hard. "You've got to be subtle with it, Justin. Massage it in. you want to 'weave' your thoughts in with mine. You don't have to push. Ok?"

"Ok. Sorry."

I followed his instructions to a tee, and believe it or not, this wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be. I could tell he got the image by the look of shock on his face! Hehehe! "OMIGOD!!! You PERV!!!" He said, playfully slapping me on the arms and shoulders a bunch of times. I had just given him the most explicit vision of what Dion and Dylan would look like in the most orgasmic throws of passion ever invented! Flesh twisted together in heat, lips and tongues, hands and fingers, arms and legs...all intertwined. I know Taryn wanted me to be serious, but from the blush and smile on his face, I think he liked it.

We must have spent two hours on the top level of that indoor garage, and between giggles I was actually able to learn how to manipulate his extra well enough to get an idea of how to control it. It was pretty basic, as Taryn had only been 'safely' experimenting with it himself since his crossover. Even after all this time he was a bit worried about using it to its full potential. But we could send each other messages back and forth with ease, and I could feel my mind adjusting to the new information it had been given. We even progressed a bit to putting little suggestions into each other's heads. It wasn't really 'mind control', it was a bit weaker than that, but the suggestion was there. I liked the way it made my brain tingle when he did that. Bryson had explained to me that Taryn's extra would be the easiest for me to learn, simply because we had been so close the entire time. I practically absorbed it that first night that I had been awakened from my crossover. But somehow, I didn't think any of the other extras would be that hard to digest once I got used to them.

"No offense, hon...but my head kinda hurts right now." I said, and he decided to give it a break. "You wanna maybe, go down by the lake for a while? Explore a little bit?"


"And THEN we'll get right back to practice! Ok? I promise!" I said, and he looked at me sideways. "Scouts honor!"

"Alright...but this better not be another one of your sexy little tricks." He smiled, and I patted him on the butt as we started back into the parking lot to find the exit.

We had to walk down the ramp, level after level, and I was just enjoying the company of being with my sweetheart. Loving every detail about him. Seeing the beauty in him even in all of this darkness. And letting the warmth of his smile envelope me from head to toe. But as we got four levels down from street level, I thought I heard a sound coming from up above us. The sound of metal...like it was being bent and scrunched up somehow. And then it stopped. "What was that?" I asked.

"Hmm....I don't know. It sounded kinda like..."

My senses seemed to suddenly catch FIRE!!! And I screamed out at the top of my lungs! "TARYN!!!!! WATCH OUT!!!!!!" I lunged forward, and shoved him out of the way with all my might JUST as a fucking CAR fell from one of the upper levels down onto the exact spot where we were standing!!!

We both hit the ground hard, and rolled over one another down the ramp to safety! Jesus! What the hell was THAT??? My senses reached out as far as they could, all of them scanning the area for whatever traces of another vampire as they could find. Level after level, sound after sound....anything....even a heartbeat. Then...I was able to lock onto the presence of two rather large vampires on the level above us. I got up to my feet, and could 'feel' them moving to reposition themselves. This was no accident. Someone was trying to hurt us on PURPOSE!

"Justin...what's going on?" Taryn asked.

"Shhh! Listen...you stay here. Stay close to the wall, you hear me?" I said, but as Jenna's extra activated itself, I could feel his fear overcome me, and I had to fight to keep it from creating a panic in me as well. "It's ok. Baby...listen...it's OK! Alright? Stay here." I said, and I HATED to leave him there, but as I sensed the vampires upstairs running to grab more 'ammo' to toss at us, I knew that they weren't going to let us just walk out of here. Maybe if I just grabbed Taryn and made a dash for it....

Just then, another car was tossed over the side, and came rolling towards us down the ramp! SHIT! We both jumped to opposite sides of the ramp, and it passed us with only a few inches to spare! Thankfully it rolled past Taryn without hurting him, and I hurried over to stand at his side. "Taryn, I need you to go down to the street level, and wait for me in the park. Ok?"

"You WHAT???"

"Go down, and wait for me in the park! PLEASE! I'll be there in a second!"

"And just LEAVE you here???"

I could feel them moving to look out at the exits. They were watching. "Taryn, if I don't distract them for a few minutes, they're gonna smash us the second we try to leave any one of these exits!" The horror in his eyes was blanketed in confusion, but I did my best to calm him down. "Go....please. I can hold them off. Ok?"

"Justy...." He wasn't going to listen. He would stay right there with me, even if it meant certain death for us both. I could tell. Fuck! Just as I looked over my shoulder, I noticed the sound of metal being crushed again, as I heard another car being lifted off of the ground. They were getting ready for another strike!

Ok....ok....what did Com tell me before? A mimic's power is all in the combinations. Combinations....combinations....um...shit. I thought about it, and tried to mix together just the right recipe, hoping that I could get it to work. I did my best to focus, and used what I could of Dion's extra to shut my emotions down to an almost complete calm...then added Jenna's extra to somehow reproduce that feeling inside, apart from everything else...and combined it with Taryn's ability to send him the thought to get him to let go of his worries. I was hoping it would work and FAST, because the vampires were coming closer! "Taryn..." I said. "..I'll be ok. Trust me." I think it was working! I got him to calm down almost instantly, and with a swift nod, he gave me a kiss and started to run down towards the lower levels. I'll be DAMNED! The shit actually worked! Ok...now what?

"You still DOWN there, 'Rage', boy???" Came a deep voice, with a heavy Jamaican accent. 'Rage'??? Goddammit!!! Not THIS shit again! "Stick your head out, So I can bash it good!" I ran further up the ramp to see what was up, and was shocked to see a single vampire, dark skin, ripped like the kind of body builders you see in the magazines...holding a fucking CHEVY over his head!!! "THERE ya go, rasta!!!" And he hurled it at me!

I dived over to the side and let the car crash up next to me! Then running to the top of the ramp to see if I could give them a better look at me! "WHAT ARE YOU DOING???" I shouted. But before I could even get it out of my mouth, another car came flying at me from behind! I was able to move just in time to keep it from taking my head off, and saw another musclebound adult vampire. Short red hair, pale skin, wearing a wifebeater tshirt and jeans that looked like they were just about to bust at the seams! Another oaf with biceps bigger than his brain. "Stop this!!! What the hell is your PROBLEM?!?!"

"Less talk, more toss!" The other one said, and I had to run towards the wall to keep them both in sight at the same time!

"WAIT! WAIT!!! I'm not who you think I am!" I screamed, but something tells me that they were beyond listening at this point.

"Of COURSE you aren't! Now come away from that wall so we can make this quick!" I saw the Jamaican man pick up a Cadillac by the rear and lifted it off of the ground with just a little bit of strain!

"I'm telling you the TRUTH!!! I'm NOT Rage!"

"They TELL me you'd say dat!" The man said.

"SERIOUSLY!!! He doesn't even LOOK like me!"

"They tell me you'd say dat TOO!" He laughed, and threw the Caddy at my HEAD! I ducked down and moved forward to keep from being decapitated, and dashed behind another car!

The other one spoke up. "We got paid a LOT of cash to take care of you, 'Rage'! But you wanna know the truth? After hearing what you did to my cousin at the underground casino a few weeks ago...I would have done this for FREE!"

I thought about maybe usng the same mind trick that I used on Taryn to get them to calm down and listen to me. But, for some odd reason, none of my thoughts got through. It was like they were deflected or something. They were too stubborn to fall for the suggestion to relax. So much for talking this out! I certainly hope I'm as close to being done with my training as Comicality seems to think I am. Because I'm deinitely gonna NEED it right now!!!

More to come in a few days!!! Thanks for reading, and for the awesome comments you guys have made so far! Remember, I'm only posting a little bit of this chapter at the time here on Nifty! So if you're anxious and don't want to wait, feel free to stop by the website at http://comicality.gayauthors.org and check it out! And let me know what you think at Comicality@webtv.net! Take care, and I'll seezya soon! :)