The lake wasn't far away from where I was, and since I knew Taryn would be meeting me about a twenty minute walk South from there, I decided to let some of the starlight soak in. Looking out into the waves of the lake as I strolled down the sidewalk, I was reminded of how beautiful it used to look in the daytime. Some days it would be blue, this incredible shade of blue, that lifted your spirits just to gaze upon. And other days, it would almost glow with an emerald green color, that was just as beautiful, but in its own special way. Looking at it now, all I saw was black. The lake was black all the time. No sunlight at all. In fact, I was already beginning to forget the exact effect that daylight HAD on the colors and brightness of the space around me. The reflections, the people, the warmth. Was that all in my memory now? I think the idea of never seeing the sun again, and the actual beginning stages of realizing what you've done to erase it from your life, are two completely different things. I think I'm starting to see Taryn's fascination with the horizon. And it chilled me to know that I had left it behind so easily. That light. That bright, shimmering light. I never thought I'd begin to miss it quite this soon.

Off in the distance, I could see Taryn laying back on the grass in front of the Shedd Aquarium building, just in front of the lake. Practically in the same place that we sat and kissed that first night that I woke up and stepped my first foot out into the darkness. I started to smile as I got closer, and was more than happy to see him. Even if we 'did' have some rather serious issues to discuss that night. "You made it." He said with a smile as I stood over him.

"You didn't think I would?" I grinned.

"NO." He faked a pout, and it just made him adorable, the way he tried to keep a straight face. "You're not one for keeping your promises, you know? Ever!"

"Yeah....well...that's something I plan to change. Here and now." I said, and sat next to him on the wet grass, leaning over to kiss him delicately on the lips.

"Mmmm...well, you're off to a good start." He kissed me again, but we didn't get too far into anything. He knew we had to talk, openly and honestly. Without the haze of a strong sexual attraction getting in the way of what we needed to say. We laid side by side for a while, looking at the reflection of a full moon in the lake, and just enjoyed the silence for a bit. Having him next to me, the warmth of his skin, the softness of his presence, soothing me in ways unspeakable. It almost hurt to break the silence between us.

"So......?" I started, not knowing where to go from there.

"So...?" He repsonded, and a nervous grin crossed his lips. "Um...well..." I think he was stumbling for words himself. Even more than I was.

"How much did you hear?"

"Um...enough. I guess."

I stopped for a second, and then blurted out, "I REALLY wanted to tell you, ya know? Honest I did."

"I know. I believe you." He said timidly. His eyes didn't lift too far from his feet the whole time, and I became terrified that those wonderful green specs of his would never again gaze dreamily at me the way they once did before he found out my secret. Had I lost the one thing that truly meant something to me? My last reason for living at all?

Taryn gave me a shy giggle, suddenly feeling awkward around me. The next question I had was a neccessary one. "Do you think the others know?"

" At least I don't think they do." He was still nervous, worried even. "Bryson is a bit spooked about what to do with you, and Doc has been discussing you with Pan on his laptop almost daily. But somehow, I don't think either one of them could have predicted something 'this'."

"Is it bad?" I asked.

"No. Aww honey, no...this isn't bad. It's just..." He trailed off, not knowing what word he could possibly sugarcoat in order to call me a freak or a weirdo without hurting my feelings. "This has just all been a big surprise for us, that's all."

"Oh..." I sad, dropping my head a bit. I didn't know what was happening or where this was going. I thought I was PAST this level of doubt with Taryn. But I guess not, when you consider the bomb I just dropped on him. "Did any questions?" I asked.

"Questions....yeah, I guess a few." We fidgeted with our hands a bit, and I was hoping that things would become less awkward soon. Because as tense as it was for me right then, I was kinda finding it hard to breathe. "So...mimics....they can 'read' too, right?" He glanced at me briefly and then focused right back down on his shoes. "I mean...I remember reading that mimics can read. That's all." I waited a moment, but then silently nodded my head. I was almost ashamed to admit the fact that I had been able to do it all this time and never told him. "Did you...did you ever read me?"

"No. No way. Not a once. You have my word." I said.

"Good." He paused. "Because...there are some parts of my past that....I'm not too proud of." Taryn's eyes were completely weighed down to the grass below. "Whatever it is you need to know about me, I'd kinda like to tell you myself. Ok?"

"I wouldn't steal your thoughts, Taryn. I could never do that."

"Right." Again, he didn't believe me. And that hurt more than anything in this world. Just knowing that my word wasn't enough. Especially now.

"You think I'm lying, don't you?"

"Justin....I'm sorry. But I'm having a little trouble dealing with this right now, ok? I mean, this is major and I don't exactly know what to say."

"Say you believe me, Taryn." I pleaded. "Say you love me. Say you'll be there for me. Tell me that you won't let me 'jump'. Say it like you did the other night. Nothing's changed. Just....please don't let this make things weird between us. Please?"

I saw tears running out of his eyes when I looked at him, sparkling with every ray of moonlight that hit them. And he sobbed gently as he tried to hold it in. "I don't know if I can, Justin."

My heart stopped, and I felt the darkness seep in again. My entire life seemed to wither and break at the idea that Taryn and I couldn't go on being happy together. I could feel tears of my own welling up in my eyes, and I started to tremble with the idea of what might come of all this. My heart was already fragile when I came here....I doubt it could survive another break. "Why?" I asked.

"You''re so far beyond me right now that I can't even 'reach' you anymore. I don't know what to do. I can' you, Justin. I can't protect you, I can't guide you, I can't....I can't do anything to aid you in what you're going through. And it's killing me because all I ever wanted to do was keep you safe. All I ever wanted to do you and make sure that you knew it. With every breath I could muster. Now? Now I just...I'm lost as to what I should do for you."

"You don't have to do anything for me, Taryn. Just knowing that you're here IS keeping me safe. Because, no matter what I go through, no matter how dangerous it gets...your love will always give me the courage and the strength that I need to come home to you. Everytime." His eyes connected with mine, and I scooted a bit closer to hold him. "Nothing's changed. You just know a little bit more about me than you did before." He laid his head on my shoulder and I tenderly kissed the top of it. And we held each other like that for a few moments while we tried to reconnect over the gap that had just appeared between us.

He sat up again, and just looked at me with this feeling of...I don't know...amazement. I didn't know if it was a good thing or a bad thing to have him see me as something so 'alien'. He raised a hand to the side of my face, and rubbed it gently. "A our world. And he's right here next to me." He said with a teary smile. He let his fingers travel down to my chest, touching me almost as if to make sure I was still real. And then let it wander over to my arm, to see the mark that we both shared from the night I crossed over. His fingers traced the lines of it, and another tear dripped from his eye as he remembered a part of our fabled scriptures. "A vampire...born into darkness...out of love." He said, quoting the legend. "I guess that makes me a part of the prophecy, huh?" He let out a nervous chuckle. "I feel like I'm sleeping with Jesus or something." He blushed, but I knew he was kidding. We giggled about it for a little bit, and then his face turned serious. "I love you, Justin....I just don't want anything to happen to you."

"Nothing's gonna happen to me. I'm gonna finish my training, have 'lots' of sex with my adorable boyfriend, and we're gonna live happily ever after." I smiled. And then....a tremor. Just a gentle one, but a gentle quivering nonetheless, right there in my stomach. That emptiness inside my body reminding me of my duty to keep it fed. And just as quickly as it came, it went away. Taryn's hand went downward and made a small circle over my belly, letting it rest there. He looked up into my eyes, and I knew at that moment that he had felt the tremor. He knew I was hungry, and what would come of that in the days to come. There couldn't be much more waiting around...I'm gonna have to do this soon.

He patted my stomach gently, but didn't say a word about it. "So.....are we ok? You and me?" I asked.

"Yeah..." He said softly. "You know, you spend so much time hearing how awful and wicked and tricky 'readers' are...that you start to look at them like some kind boogie man. Then you actually meet one...and you find out that they're just like the rest of us." He kissed me tenderly on the lips. "I'm sorry if I doubted you."

"Well..." I said, "Give me an expert blowjob, and we'll call it even."

"Hahaha! Jerk!" He said, hitting me in the chest.

"Watch it! You're dealing with a mimic here, you know? I'm 'dangerous'."

"Adorable, is what you are." He grinned. "Come on, let's go back." He gave me a kiss before standing up. Lending me a hand to help me up too. "You, my little blond cupcake, have got a LOT of stuff to tell me!" And I did, all the way back to the lot, he watched and listened as I opened the floodgates and let the whole thing unravel. The run in with Jeremy at the blood shack, the underground fighting arena, the chases with Chad, the fight with Comicality, the battle in the sanctuary...I could hardly keep my thoughts together. They all kept spilling out of me so fast that I must have been talking a mile a minute. Taryn's jaw dropped more times than I can count, and he was really concerned in some parts, really excited for me in others. It all came out, and DAMN if it didn't feel good! By the end of our walk home, not only was he looking at me the way he was before, but we were more connected than ever. And an extra spark became a part of his stare, letting me know that we still had forever to be happy. Him for me, and me for him, until the end of time.

I finally clammed up once we got home, and since the lot was muddy and people were stil bit flustered over their stuff being touched, the lot was pretty much empty. People were going to bed early, and just trying to put everything back in order. But we did catch a glimpse of Rain, sitting on the hood of her car alone. Her face a complete one hundred and eighty degree reversal of the look on her face the night before. It looked as though a storm cloud was hovering just over her head, and she had evidently been crying. Even though she'd probably stab the first person to say so. I guess Darren was already gone. Leaving her to stay here alone for eternity unless she found someone else. And how hard is it? Finding someone who not only completes you and makes you feel good inside, but is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice just to be with you. How can you get so close to a person to even ask them to do something so the short amount of time that it takes them to find out that you're different? The odds are one in a million. Maybe more. I wish I could at least do something to make her smile. Rain has never been one to let me or anyone else get close to her. But I knew she had a heart in there somewhere. And beneath all that hardcore was breaking in half right now.

I wanted to walk over and at least give her some comfort, but Taryn stopped me. Shaking his head. "Don't. You'll make it worse if you try to help her now. Just let her work things out on her own for a bit. It's the only way." I guess he knew her better than I did. So I let it go.

"Hey guys..." We jumped a little as we turned to see Dylan standing right in front of us. Geez! I wish he'd stop doing that.

"You scared the hell out of me." Taryn grinned.

"Sorry." Dylan didn't fumble and fidget around as much this time though. He was trying hard to say something. "Listen...I have...sort of a problem."

"What's the matter?" I asked. Taryn wrapped his arms around me, and playfully licked my cheek. I giggled outloud, and reached around to pat him on the butt to get him to quit being naughty for a few seconds. Looking back at Dylan, I could tell he was fidgeting around the subject. He seemed almost ashamed to say it.

" 'light' is out."

"Your what?"

"My 'light' the car. It won't work. I think it got damaged or something." I looked at Taryn confused, but evidently he knew what Dylan was talking about.

"Ahh, I see. you need a place to crash tonight?" Taryn offered. I guess any 'activity' that we had planned would have to be cut short tonight. I wondered why he was inviting Dylan to sleep in our place. Then I remembered...Dylan sleeps with a night light in his car. He's still afraid of the dark.

"Can I?" He asked.

"Say no more. Let me just go in and get some stuff cleaned up to make room, ok?" Taryn patted me on the shoulder and walked on over to our home.

I heard a door open, and Dion got out of his truck to go retrieve Napolean for the night. Dylan froze up. I looked at him and just giggled. "It wouldn't be that bad if you gave him a 'hint' every now and then, you know?"

He looked at me as if he were surprised that I was able to tell what he was tense about. I don't think he realizes that it's written all over his face. "I don't think so."

"Seriously. I mean you've been here for a little while, right? You guys know each other, and you're already friends. You both kill people and drink their blood fr can't get a better common interest than that." I joked.

"Don't make fun of me." He whined. "It's bad enough as it is."

"It's only as bad as you make it. You to him a bit. You know? I think sometimes...he gets a little lonely out here too." Then I added, "And I've seen your cute little naked ass in the shower, so I know he's gonna flip when he sees it." Dylan didn't wanna laugh, in fact he covered his mouth with his hand to stop it, but a few giggles escaped anyway. And he blushed again as he tried to keep from smiling.

Then a different look came over his face. Such a longing and desperation in his eyes, being held back with all the fearful willpower he could muster. "You know...I used to 'blank out' all the time here, and just....'watch' him. I didn't want him to see me or notice me, or...anything. I just wanted to look at him for a while. Sometimes I still do." He said.

"Maybe if you let him see you once in a while...maybe he'd look back."

"I'm afraid I don't have that much faith." He said. "Anyway, forget it. It's stupid."


"Thanks for letting me stay with you guys tonight. It means a lot. I don't like being alone in the dark. I think I'd panic." He changed the subject so fast that I didn't have time to switch it back. As cute as he was, he really didn't believe that someone would be interested.

I heard a dog collar rattling on the other side of the lot, and Dion had gotten Napolean and put him in the truck for the night. When he saw us, he walked over to say goodnight. Naturally, Dylan tensed up again, but I held his hand behind my back, gripping firmly around his wrist. If I lost my contact with him for a single second he'd run off and hide somewhere before I even got the chance to see him leave. I wasn't letting him off that easy. "What's up guys?"

"Nothing much. Dylan here was just telling me that his light got damaged tonight in the raid." I felt Dylan tugging, trying to get out of my grasp, but I held him still anyway.

"Really? Damn, that sucks, Dylan." Dion knew all about Dylan, so he knew what being alone in the dark would do to him. "Do you need another place to stay? I think Gyro's got some glow sticks from the last rave he went to. We could put it up somewhere on the dashboard, and I've got some extra room." I couldn't help but smile when he offered, and Dylan got so tensed up that his hand was like stone.

" don't have to...." He stuttered, trying desperately to pull away from me now.

"Actually, that would be a great idea." I said. "Go, have a sleepover, it'll be fun."

Taryn walked up with an extra pillow and blanket. "Ok, we've got some room if you need it. I've got a pillow, and a blanket, and..."

I interrupted him. "Awesome!" I took the pillow and blanket from him, and handed them to Dion. "Dylan decided to sleep over at Dion's tonight instead."

I think Taryn had to stop himself from laughing, knowing how horrified Dylan must be right now. I think he'd prefer the DARK to spending the night alone with his dreamboy. "Really now? Hehehe, ok. Have fun." And we watched as the two of them walked off together, Dylan trailing behind a few steps and practically cursing the both of us under his breath as he looked over his shoulder. You would have thought we were sending him to the gas chamber or something. But he followed. Nervously...yes. But he followed. And Taryn and I were left to spend the night together again.

That day as I slept, I had a dream. It was so real, so vivid, that the sunlight frightened me. I thought I might burn instantly if I didn't get inside soon. I was standing on the my old neighborhood. I could remember it all, the houses, the lawns, the fences. There were kids riding by on bikes, someone mowing the was home. I knew it wasn't real, but I wrapped myself up in it anyway. The colors were so bright during the day. The air around me was alive and sweet. I had forgotten how incredible it was to be involved in a less chaotic world. I could smell the green grass beneath my feet, and took a few moments to look across the street to see my house. I took a few steps forward, ready to go in, and maybe see my mom again. But the day didn't remain so sweet. In fact, with the rumble of thunder, I saw a stampede of thick black clouds roll in over my head, and turn the day to night in seconds. The thunder boomed overhead even louder, and suddenly an avalanche of ice cold rain came pouring down on me!

The water was so thick and heavy that I could hardly breathe! It was almost weighing me down to the street. So I began to run for the house, the wind pushing against me every step of the way. The street flooded in less than a minute, the storm nearly sweeping me off my feet. And then I heard it...that familiar growl. That roar of a creature, who has been waiting for this find me again. I ran faster, finally reaching my house, but the Beast began to open up the front lawn, cimbing out of the ground, in full form this time. Without Tim's tapes to hold it back, it had no problems getting through the defenses in my mind. I ran through the front door and slammed it shut behind me. But it burst right through the opening, taking half of the wall with it! It took the front door in its hands, ripping it from the wall, and tossing it directly at me in anger! I managed to fall face down on the floor to avoid it just before it took my head off! The creature ripped up the floor, shattered the furniture, shook the walls! It's furious tantrum was being unleashed all at once, and all I could do was try to get out alive. There was no fighting it, not this time. It threw an easychair at me, and I dodged quickly to the side, hopping on top of a small table and flipping up onto the stairs. The creature seemed to melt into the wall itself, and as I ran up the stairs, the wall came alive! Clawed hands reaching out to grab at me while I ducked and jumped as best as I could. The stairs opened up with little holes, taking the form of the creature's monsterous jaws! My foot slipped into one of the holes, and I had to pull it out before the Beast bit it off! I kept moving, never letting the creature catch me standing still, and I made it to the top of the steps. But when I opened the door to my mother's room, it was there waiting for me.

I didn't have the chance to even scream before it spread its giant wings and flew at me top speed, it's unimaginable weight forcing me back as it tackled me through a WALL!!! I landed on the ground with tons of debris on top of me, but as I hurried to get back to my feet, I saw that I was in the lot again. I looked around, and everything had gotten quiet. Silent. I spun around, knowing that it was still out there somewhere. That this 'peace' was going to be shattered any minute. Then I heard a low growl, and swiftly turned to see the Beast standing over by Bryson's truck. It seemed to almost grin at me as it's lips curled up to bear its fangs. It just stood there, this hulking monster, its chest inflating with huge intakes of air. Why wasn't it attacking? Why wasn't it moving? I looked at its hand, and it was rubbing the top of Bryson's habitat. Then it took a step back as though it wanted me to look inside. I was hesitant, even terrified, but on shakey legs, I walked closer. I was expecting the creature to jump me any moment, and kept my eyes on it the whole time. But it didn't try to hurt me. It pointed to the truck, and I noticed that the lock on it was broken. Probably from the raiders trying to pry their way inside. I had never seen the inside of Bryson's truck before, he kept it locked up tight all night long, and he didn't stray too far from it, even when we were training. So I curiously lifted the handle, and I opened the door. There was a bright flash of light, so bright that it blinded me. And it was like I could hear a million memories and emotions all hit me at once. And suddenly, just like that, I woke up.

I was in bed again, laying next to Taryn. I had to touch myself and the walls around me to make sure that it was real. Then I laid back down with a sigh. Everyone was still fast asleep, but probably only for a few more minutes. It was nice to know that I wasn't as early this time as I usually am. But the one thing that haunted my mind was why the Beast would be so interested in Bryson's truck. Better yet, why he'd want ME to be interested in it too. I stared at the ceiling for a bit, mulling it over in my head, but I couldn't get the idea out of my mind. The idea that this wasn't just some random dream that he was using to scare me. He wanted me to look. He showed me. And that's when I remembered the folder I saw in Bryson's pile with my name on it. There was something IN that truck...and I wanted to know what it was.

I reached over to feel Taryn's chest. Still ice cold. Good, that meant I had some time left. I got dressed pretty quickly, and opened the door to go outside. The lot was dead quiet, and I quickly walked over to Bryson's place to look at the lock. Just like the Beast had shown me...the lock on it was broken. I was worried at first that Bryson might wake up if I opened the door and scold me something fierce. But the longer I waited, the less time I'd have to snatch it before he woke up. So quietly, I opened up his truck, and peeked inside. Bryson was still asleep, and I climbed in further to feel his cheek. Still cold. Crawling further inside, I saw boxes and boxes of papers. Those old newspapers that he's always so obsessed with. Notebooks, and magazines, and cut outs. Then, I saw it...the box of folders. I made sure to keep one hand on Bryson's cheek the entire time to feel when he started to warm up again. And I let my fingers file through all of the others' folders until I came to my own. I didn't want to chance reading it there. I'd never be able to explain it if I was caught. So I tucked the folder under my shirt, and backed out of his truck. I let my feet touch the ground and closed the door behind me. That's when I saw KID standing there watching me!

He had his head cocked slightly to one side, as if asking me what I thought I was doing. "''re up kinda early tonight, huh?" He just stared at me, and I walked around him with a wave to go back to the trailer. Did he see? Did he know? Would he find a way to tell? I don't know. I just knew that I had to know what was going on with this folder here. I made my way into the trailer and shut the door behind me. I sat down on the mattress and pulled the folder from up under my shirt. I stared at my name on the front of it for a few minutes, practically worrying myself over what might be inside. I just opened the front page and I saw some notes on me. On my extra, on my progress with my training, nothing too scandalous or anything. Another few pages were dedicated to the chasers when I first got there, and what they observed me doing. My habits and where I went to when I thought nobody was looking. But the third thing I saw...was a newspaper ad. And on the top of it, it said 'Local Boy Missing'.....

"Evening baby." Taryn had woken up, and gave me a kiss on the cheek from behind. It startled me, and I shut the folder up immediately!

"Hey..." I said, taking the folder and putting it down to hide underneath the mattress. I don't think he saw what I was reading, he was still rubbing his eyes. "You're awake."

He kissed me and I felt him move up against me on his knees, his 'morning hardness' resting in the small of my back while his arms draped lazily over my shoulders. "I hope you haven't been waiting long. You're always up so early"

"Nah, I just got up a few minutes ago myself."

"Good." He said, and I turned my head to suck an extended kiss from his lips, before he playfully pushed me back down on the mattress and rolled over me. The mattress still had a big hole in the middle from the fight last night, but it wasn't enough to really worry about. We giggled a bit as we rubbed noses, and he whispered, "So what do you think happened?"

"Happened with what?"

"Dylan and Dion. Do you think they...?"

"Hehehe, NO! But I imagine the tension to do so must have been tearing them up all night." I laughed.

"I've gotta go see this." He sprung out of bed, and I got up with him to get dressed. As he pulled his shirt over his head, I snapped the elastic on his boxers while he smiled warmly back at me. Things were beautiful again, and I felt whole.

We went outside and made sure to sit on the hood of another car right outside of Dion's place. We were gonna be the first thing they saw when they stepped out of there. Sure enough, Dylan emerged first, and he was already blushing harder than I had ever seen. Hahaha, awwww it was so cute! "Hiiiiii Dylan!" We both said simultaneously. His eyes widened a bit, and I thought he might share a chuckle with us, but instead he turned his head back down to the ground and hurried off to get away from us. We saw Napolean trot out next, and Dion came out looking rather refreshed.

"Sup fellas?" He said.

"We were getting ready to ask you the same thing." I grinned. He only gave me a weird look. "Dylan seemed kinda 'spooked' this morning. Are you two alright?"

"Of course we're alright." Dion seemed innocent enough. But when Taryn and I both raised an eyebrow, he knew what we were thinking. "Nothing happened, if that's what you're getting at."

"Uh huh."

"He just slept over, that's all."

"Sure." Taryn grinned. "So what'd you do?"

"We didn't do 'anything'. We talked for a bit last night, went to sleep, talked for a bit this morning, and then he left. That's it." We just smiled back at him. "THAT'S IT!"

"Okay, okay...we believe you." I said. "But you could have at least felt him up a little. You've got an 'audience' to think about here."

"Aw screw you both." He grinned, and we left it at that.

Our happy mood dulled down, however, when Rain came stomping past us, nearly pushing us out of the way. She hadn't said a word to anybody since Darren left. Not even to Gyro, who had been quietly doing his best to stay out of her way. He knew his sister better than anybody, and despite knowing what buttons to push, he knew when he was in danger of really pissing her off. This was not one of those times to be standing in her way. She stormed out of the lot, and Bryson just watched her leave. There was no argument this time, no questions asked. I don't think he believed he would have any impact on her this time. I don't think I've ever seen him take anything more personal than her tantrums, and he just leaned back on the hood of his truck. Staring outward at nothing. Doing all he could to not be damaged by the hurt he felt inside.

One thing that worried me though, was that Max had evidently been recruited to grab his tools and fix the lock on Bryson's truck as soon as possible. I wasn't sure how long something like that would take, but Max was starting as soon as he woke up, and he was pretty handy when he wanted to be. Meaning that I wouldn't have much time to sneak that folder back into his truck. It was still there under my mattress, and I'd have to make sure that I at least read enough of it to find out why he needed to keep it so secret from me.

"Listen, I'm gonna gather some of our clothes that got messed up in the raid. I don't know who's on laundry duty today, but they're gonna have a hell of a lot of stuff to wash and I want to get our stuff in while we can." Taryn said, and kissed me briefly on the cheek before walking away. Just seeing him, the almost unnoticeable feminine sway of his hips as he walked, made me smile. I felt so wicked sometimes, but he kept me perpetually horny for him, and I was tempted to go back in our trailer with him for another quickie before doing anything else. My mouth was literally watering at the idea, and I had to stop thinking about it before I stiffened up all the way.

I wondered if Jun had gone off to practice somewhere yet, and I walked out of the center of the lot to see if I could grab a few peeks. It really was something to see, believe me! The pure muscle was incredible. So I walked around a few corners, wondering if I could remember the little secluded spot where he'd be training. There he was, balancing on one foot, with his leg high enough to press his knee against his chest. His eyes were closed, and his smooth flawless movents hypnotized me from the very start. was SO cool to watch him move.

"Looks nearly impossible, doesn't it?" I heard the voice from over my shoulder, but I didn't have to turn around to know who it was. Trevor sidled up next to me, his grin just as unsettling as ever, and I didn't bother to even look at him. If anything, his very presence frustrated me. "Jun can do amazing things with his body. It kinda turns me on."

"What do you want?" I asked, figuring I should get right to the point without the meaningless conversation.

"What makes you think I want anything? Perhaps I'm just up for some wholesome interaction with one of my good friends."

"Psh! Whatever."

"This life seems to have hardened you a little bit already. Whatever happened to the sweet, lovable, Justin that just wanted to fit in with the rest of us? Don't tell me you're trading him in to play favorites with the others."

I turned to look him in the face and said, "Ever since I've met you, you have been nothing but trouble. As far as I'm concerned, you and I have nothing to talk about. So why don't we knock it off with the bullshit and tell me what you want so you can go away, and leave me alone?"

Trevor's smiled began to frown slightly, and his stare intensified. "You may think I'm here just to rub you the wrong way, newblood. But make no mistakes...when I really want to get on your nerves, you'll KNOW it." He said. "Don't try to make your little pissy ordeals my fault. You've been running your own show from day one. All I've given you was the truth. The only difference between me and them is the fact that I'm not gonna sugarcoat it for you and try to make it pretty. I'm not gonna bide my time and wait for you to be ready to hear it. If anything, I've been trying to help you."

"Well then I can do just fine without your help, thank you very much." I turned my head to look back at Jun, who was so lost in his focus that he had no idea that any of this was going on.

Trevor then walked in front of me, blocking Jun from my sight. "You realize...that your days of hiding are almost up, don't you? The whole 'vampire puberty' part of your life in darkness is almost overwith. You can't run forever. No more than you can hide your little secrets from the others. Or....try to use Gyro to further distract me from what you're up to." He stared me down, fully aware of what we had done. But what he did next, lit the fuse. He leaned forward and whispered in my ear..."I know you're 'hungry', Justin. We all do." I took a step back from him, but he only stepped closer. "I can see it in your eyes, more and more by the day. I can feel it. I can taste it. You've only got a day or two before the pains start all over again. Then what? How long will our favorite little boy scout drag it out this time?"

"I'll do it when I'm damn good and ready. Not that it's any of your business, but I know that if I did it once, I could do it again."

Trevor actually let a chuckle escape his lips. "Hehehe! What? Do you think that the first time's the hardest? No no no my little rookie. The SECOND time is the hardest. There won't be any fumbling and fidgeing around this time. No waiting til the last minute, no uncontrollable bloodlusts where you're only acting on instinct and can't help yourself. No....this's gonna be deliberate. Savage. What you did to that clerk at the Kinkos was nothing. A slightly more aggressive variation of 'self defense' at best. But this time....hehehe....this time you're gonna find out what it truly is to HUNT another human being. THAT'S when your mind really begins to accept what you are. The third and fourth times, you begin to forget you were ever human to begin with. And the true guilt of what you've done won't hit you until number seven or eight. Me? I didn't stop feeling guilty until my body count was in the 20's somewhere. Then all I cared about was getting to number 34. That's one more than John Wayne Gacy...."

"You DON'T scare me, you know?" I said, even though the idea of what he was telling truly was beginning to freak me out a bit. "So why don't you just drop it asshole, and leave me the fuck alone!"

Trevor's smile was completely gone this time, and he sized me up with an angry look. "Say what you want, Justin. But it IS going to happen again. And again, and again, and again. No more 'treats' from Jeremy's bloodshack, you're on your own now, junior."

"I'll be just fine." I said, ready to sock him right in the eye if I had to.

"I hope so." He said. "Because next time...big brother Trevor's not gonna be there to hold your hand you fucking BABY!" And he shoved me hard up against the car behind me! I stood back up, ready to finally give him the ass whipping he deserved, when Jun came out of his trance.

"HEY!!!" He shouted, and while Trevor and I stood toe to toe, the fight went no further than that. "Knock it off. Trevor, give it a rest will ya?"

Trevor smiled in my face, and puckered his lips to blow me a pretend kiss. "That fire...I LOVE it. Makes you cute, playboy." He said, and backed away from me as he walked back towards the center of the lot.

"What was that all about?" Jun asked me, drying himself off with his shirt.

"Nothing. He's just being a dick."

"So what else is new?" He smiled and walked back with me into the lot with the others. Trevor was REALLY pushing it these days. I don't plan to pull any punches the day he finally pushes me over the edge. He gets what he gets, end of story.

Things were pretty mellow around there. I think a lot of folks were still pretty upset over losing their stuff. But Gyro remained perky about it all. Every night he'd remind us that there were only a few days left until we'd get to go to this fabled IceZone party. It was soooo exciting to him, and he ws like a little boy witing for Christmas. Constantly on pins and needles, looking to see what clothes he was gonna wear, asking Bryson for money to buy glitter and hair gel, talking about it nonstop....every story becoming more and more unbelievable. "I hear that they've got a HUGE swimming pool underground, and the water is filled with a chemical similar to ecstacy! You swim in it, and your whole BODY tingles! They say it's ten times better than sex!" Hehehe, Gyro was cute when he was this pumped up over something. But sometimes I think he took the rumors a bit too far. "They have tiger cages, you know? Vampire tigers! How fucking cool is THAT???"

I made sure to walk around him before I got caught up in his 'Tales From The Greatest Party Of All Time' stories. I thought about going out to have a bit of fun tonight, or at least some quiet time with Taryn. But looking around, I don't think anyone was much in the mood for a 'good time'. They weren't upset or anything. Just weren't motivated to really try to be festive. Especially Bryson, who was brooding on his car as usual.

I went over to talk, using a bit of caution to approach him considering his current mood. But instead of being angry, or hurt, or even bothering to cover up whatever he was feeling...he seemed indifferent.

"Do I...have any kind of special training tonight?" I asked, hoping to show some kind of committment.

Bryson looked over at me, his face expressionless except for a silent struggle behind his eyes. One that you could only see if you were looking hard enough. Then he said, "No. Not tonight." Did he know about me taking the folder? Or maybe he was still suspicious of what happened last night with the raiders. Or it could have just been the heartbreak of having Rain ignoring him while trying to find someone else. Bryson could be hard to read sometimes. MOST times, actually. And this time, his mood was even more deceptive than usual. He sat up for a moment, and he nodded at someone behind me. It was Jenna, and he gave me a concerned look. "I'm sending Jenna out to grab some things from the Salvation Army drop box. Maybe to replace some of the stuff we lost last night. I want you to go with her."

"Um...sure, no problem." I said. And he nodded again in her direction, letting her know it was ok to lead me out and away from the lot. I looked back over my shoulder, and Bryson was watching me. I wondered if this was another part of the 'process' in my training. Or if maybe, the trust he was beginning to have for me was wearing thin.

While I usually take alleys and smaller streets while walking back towards the city, Jenna seemed to be sticking to the main streets tonight. I think she liked the traffic most of all, as busy streets seemed to be more 'alive' to her. She had a list of some things to pick up while she was out, but it wasn't anything major. I don't even know why I needed to come along. But I suppose keeping her company was enough of a good reason.

"So I see you and Taryn had a little fun with Dylan and Dion last night." She smiled.

"Hehehe, yeah...a little."

"You know, he may be running scared right now, but when Dylan passed me tonight, I think he was more in love than he was willing to admit. I literally got the shivers myself." Jenna pushed some of her blond hair back out of her face and tucked it behind her ear. She really was beautiful. Model beautiful. With small gestures like that one, you were forced to take notice. "I think it'll do both of them some good to find somebody."

"Yeah...." I said. "I think Dion sorta...regrets being out here sometimes. You know?"

"We all regret being out here sometimes, Justin. But it doesn't mean that any other life wouldn't have its own downside as well." She smiled a bit, and continued. "You know, when it was just me and Dion, and we were still new to this whole vampire thing...all we could talk about was how incredible it would be to be immortal. To live forever, and stay young, and stay up all night walking the streets. We could do anything we wanted to do, and not have to answer to anybody. It was gonna be awesome."

"So what happened?"

"Nothing happened, really. Time went on, the novelty wore is life. No matter where you are, once you start building a history there, you're gonna have regrets. The grass is always greener on the other side. Way it goes." She said. "I think one of the hardest things about this life, the scariest thing about living in being here alone. Just...the very idea that you might have to spend the rest of eternity never being truly 'connected' to's terrifying. And we all go through a period of wondering how we can have a place in this world if we don't have a perfect match to share it with. Without a defined place in this life...what is life worth." It made a sick kind of sense, even if I didn't want to admit it. I suppose that's the kind of thing a vampire goes through. Always wondering whether or not the next 100 years will be spent in the arms of someone they love, or lying cold somewhere all by themselves. It's what Rain felt when she lost Darren, what Bryson felt when he lost Rain, even what Michael feels threatened by whenever Trevor's eye seems to wander. Or what Trevor has been searching for through Taryn and Gyro in his attempt to find the other half of himself. Thinking it through, I almost felt guilty for having found Taryn so easily. It was a lottery ticket that the others had been looking for long before I arrived there.

"Do you ever think about finding somebody?" I asked.

Jenna sighed a bit, but kept her smile. "I don't know. Maybe. Some nights it's all I think about. And it really hurts to not have someone to come home to. Other nights...I'd rather not be bothered by the idea of searching for someone. I don't want to be bothered."

"You don't even look?"

"Nope." She turned the corner, and we walked down another street. This one was a bit more quiet than the others. "I guess I'll know when my heart needs to be filled up again. But for now, I need to know who I am first. It's the only way to share it with anybody else. You know?" I nodded. "I think Dion is reaching the point where he feels that someone else is 'neccessary'. And not to make you feel bad or anything...but I think you and Taryn being so happy's made all of us look at the idea and think about it differently."

"Oh..." I said softly. "I didn't mean to cause anyone any kind of misery, I just..."

She stopped me from saying another word. "Don't. Justin, you're not giving us problems. You're giving us hope. You're actually proving that it CAN be done. That a vampire can actually find the other half of their soul and live happily ever after if they just believe. It may take a few realizations and a few regrets, but they're just growing pains. And eventually it's going to inspire some kind of action that will end up making all of us happy."

"I just didn't want to hurt him, you know? Dion's my friend."

"He won't let you hurt him. Trust me." She said. "Dion shuts down his emotions, that's what he does. It's his extra." I thought back to our conversation on the Pier, and wondered if maybe that's why I kept losing the emotion that he was giving off so quickly. "Whenever he feels that emotion is clouding his judgement or making things difficult, he simply turns them off. It can be extremely effective while he's fighting or strategizing....but sometimes, I think he does it to hide. He's used it so much he never knows if what he's feeling is emotion at full potential or not. That's why he likes music so much. It gives him back a bit of the honest emotion he thinks he's missing out on." She smiled wide, "But to be totally honest, I think Dylan might be just what he needs to pull himself out of that pattern. He might be too shy to admit it, but Dion is crazy about that boy."

"Yeah, I kinda figured that." I said, and she led me even further down the street for a few minutes more. "Where is this place anyway?" I asked.

"We've got a ways to go. Just...relax for a bit." She said it plainly enough, but somehow there was a slightly different 'tone' in her voice. Something...restrained somehow. It didn't seem all that natural to me for some reason.

Jenna and I continued walking, the streets seemingly getting more deserted by the minute. It was weird, because I was just thinking about how much she liked the public streets. "Is there a reason Bryson wanted me to go with you tonight?"

She paused before she answered, "Reason? Don't worry about it. I thought we were just walking and talking."

Jenna was one of the most honest people I knew, she wasn't good at hiding what's on her mind. "He DID send us out here for a reason, didn't he? I knew it."

"Justin, don't go overboard. Bryson's looking out for you. That's all." She started, but hushed up when we heard a sound in the distance. I noticed a gentle 'rumbling' sound, like wheels on pavement. I looked ahead of us, and saw a young boy, about 14 years old, come rolling casually around the corner on a set of all black roller blades. It was odd to see someone that age out by himself this late at night, but then again, the same could be said about me on appearance alone. He paused at the end of the block for a moment, and then began to slowly glide his way towards us. Jenna took notice of him too, and we could clearly tell from his movements that he was another vampire, just like us.

He had a fresh face, baby smooth with the exception of a deep three inch scar on his left cheek. He was still cute to look at, however, and the gash on his face almost seemed to give him an extra charm somehow. He had dark brown eyes, and long dark brown hair that hung down just low enough to barely touch the surface of his shoulders. He had no helmet at all. The only protection he wore was a light grey skull cap and a single black elbow pad on his left arm. That was it. He was silent as he rolled closer to us, the wind blowing his silken wisps of hair back and out of his face with smooth and graceful motions. He was almost upon us. I thought about saying hello or giving him a friendly smile...but as he got near us, I got a cold vibe from him all of the sudden. It was weird...almost as if he intended to give me the cold shoulder. I felt myself tense up as he got within a few feet of us. You can never be too careful. Especially nowadays.

His eyes squinted slightly, his frigid stare locking onto my face intensely. The whole time he rolled passed us, he kept his focus tightly around me, examining every detail of my face, his lips sorta 'pouted out' in thought. Then.....he simply kept going. Not a word spoken to either one of us. I looked over my shoulder and saw him give me another glance before speeding up and gliding around the next corner. I swear, there are some truly STRANGE people out here on this side of 'daylight'.

Jenna waited until he was out of ear shot before she continued. "Listen...Justin...I know how you feel about this,'re one of us now. And you know what that means."

I was a bit confused. "Wait...what do you mean?"

"I mean..." She sighed, "We know you're hungry, Justin. We sensed it days ago. It's been a month. You need to hunt. SOON! Tonight if you can manage it."

"Whoah! Tonight??? Wait a minute, slow down there! I'm not THAT hungry!" I said, now seeing why Bryson would send me out here into such a quiet part of town.

"This HAS to be done, Justin. We can't afford you to develop a bloodlust and have an 'accident'. You already saw what happened to Kid when his thirst got out of control." She was determined to get her point across, but trying to keep me calm and focused at the same time. "Bryson wants this taken care of. I love you a bunch, and I know it's hard the first few times...but you can't put this off for much longer. This will be your second feeding, and your original blood from when you were alive is almost gone. Soon you're only going to have the blood of others to sustain you. And the hunger pains will get worse. MUCH worse than they were before. After this, you're gonna be soley dependent on hunting from now on. Do you understand what I'm telling you?"

I didn't want to, but I nodded. There was no panic, no rejecting the idea, no running to hide from it. Just....surrender. "Ok. I will." She gave me a look. "I MEAN it, I will. Just...just not tonight. Ok?"

"Justin...this is important. Don't procrastinate."

"I know, I know. Just...not tonight. I wanna get my head straight." She let me off with a warning, and then started walking with me again. "This gets easier to deal with, right?"

"Yes, in time." She saw me stressing a bit over it, and rubbed my shoulder. "Not everybody handles this the same way, Justin. You'll find your own method of living with it after a while. It just takes time. Everything in this life takes time." She lifted my chin. "If it's any comfort to you, even Trevor was freaked out about it his first time." She grinned.

"Hehehe...Trevor? Get outta here!"

"No no, I'm serious! He was all about feeding on someone, and saying 'when do I get to hunt?' and 'when do I get to start drinking blood?' But when he actually went out there to DO it, he chickened out. Two or three times actually. And when he finally DID do it, he didn't finish the guy off because he got sick. We had to help him chase the guy down and finish it off for him." It was such a morbid concept, and yet she told the story with such a flattering grin. Vampire humor, I suppose. "You never really know what blood is until you feel it pour out of somebody, turning black and staining everything it touches. It's not an easy thing to do, it shouldn't be. So Trevor got a heavy dose of reality that night. If it wasn't for Jeremy and him 'fooling around', he might have had a bloodlust too."

"Wait a minute...Jeremy? The blood dealer boy?"

"That's the one. To this day, Jeremy is head over heels for him. He must have shown him some pretty nifty tricks that night." She grinned. "Um...I wouldn't tell Michael about that though. Shhhh! He'll have a fit." We both laughed a little to ourselves, and I began to see why Jeremy favored him so much. Or why Trevor even knew where to find him that night he took me to get my first dose of cold blood. Trevor and a couple. Wild. Actually, it sounds kinda hot, when I think about it. "You really should have seen the look on Trevor's face though that first time. Hehehe! He was sick for a day and a half. I think he had it worse than all of us. He's wicked, but he's not as bad as he wants you to think he is." She said, and I couldn't help but laugh. I should have known Trevor was more bark than bite.

Suddenly, in mid chuckle, I became aware of that low 'rumbling' again from around the next corner ahead of us. Except THIS was a lot louder. More wheels, more pavement. I got more than a cold shiver this time around. An inner alarm seemed to go off in my mind, and I could already feel my body automatically preparing itself for whatever may come our way. My muscles tightened, my breathing picked up slightly, my eyesight seemed to suddenly focus on that blind corner with and eagle's determination. My instincts saw it coming before I did. The rumbling got louder as it approached the corner, and neither of us could see around it. Then...the noise stopped. The night went silent, and we slowed our pace down to listen for any movement. Nothing. It was like they had disappeared right before crossing our sight. This was more than 'out of the ordinary'....something was wrong.

Looking forward, I saw the same boy we had encountered earlier slowly glide out from behind the corner wall, nonchalantly rolling to a graceful stop in the middle of the sidewalk again, just like before. He stood as only a dark silhouette in front of us at the end of the block, gazing at us without flinching. Eyes glowing dimly in our direction. Then suddenly.....what looked like an entire ARMADA of teenagers, aged 13 to about 16, all came wheeling up behind him on skateboards. Spreading out across the entire sidewalk like a dark cloud of shadows. There was maybe 15 to 20 of them total, standing together in a cluster like some hellish high school field trip. They all rolled to a gentle stop....and stood waiting for us to reach them. Shit...this doesn't look good. This doesn't look good at ALL! They began to whisper something back and forth between one another that I couldn't make out. All of them were wearing the same black elbow pad on their left arms, and were clearly all working together on whatever it was they had planned. Jenna and I just continued to walk forward, knowing that turning around or crossing the street would only succeed in making more trouble once we alerted them to the fact that we wanted to avoid a conflict. She could feel the same vibrations in their activity that I could, and I could feel her anxiety increase considerably. The mood had crashed and burned instantly, leaving us on our guard.

We nearly froze up when the main boy on the roller blades started gliding towards us again. This time a bit faster than before. And the rest of the group, moving in unison, all followed his lead. They were coming straight for us. My breath got caught in my throat and I prepared to defend myself if I had to. Jenna gasped slightly, possibly ready to dart off if things got hot and heavy. The whole team of them picked up speed, the loud roar of their wheels tearing across the pavement and cutting through the silence of the once quiet block. They got closer to us, an entire 'stampede' of skateboarders and their front man on blades...this was it. We were about to make contact.

But they all just gave us the same ice cold stare...and rolled right past us again. Jenna and I had to split up as they came weaving in and out between us, circling rudely as they cut through us like the wind. It was downright frightening for the first few seconds, but I couldn't let down my guard just yet. As they skated by, their thoughts all started flooding into my mind at once. Bits and pieces of their own inner conversation. I caught fragments here and there, and noticed how very focused they were on me as they tried to analyze who I was. Their thoughts were a blur, they were all thinking...

"There he is. That's him! It's GOT to be him..."

"That's about the right age. Thirteen, maybe fourteen, right???..."

"Still young in his crossover. Still has some original cells left..."

"Face looks about right. He's gotta be the one they told me about..."

"Blond...they SAID he'd be blond..."

"I heard he was a RED head! Not blond! must be him...who else could it be?..."

I remained confused as to what the hell they were looking for...until the last skateboarder whizzed by me. In his mind, there was one word that let me know...we may have a problem on our hands.


They all allowed themselves to roll to the end of the block, and I heard them slowing down behind us. I didn't dare look. I just grabbed Jenna by her wrist without turning around. "Jenna...I want you to listen to me, ok? When we reach the end of this block, I want you to run to the nearest alley and take it North until you hit a main street. Lots of people. Lots of traffic."

"Justin...wha....? What are you talking about?"

The wheels came to a complete stop at the other end of the city block behind us. Only for a moment. And when the teenagers had regrouped with a few more whispers, I could hear them turning around.

"I need you to RUN, Jenna! FAST! Ok? You take a well lit street and you stay on that street until you get back to the lot." I said. Her faced showed such confusion, such concern. But I didn't have a lot of time left. "I will meet you there. I promise."

"But Justin...I don't understand. What's gotten into you?"

The first stride of the roller blades started off behind us, and the boy was evidently looking to gain full speed this time around. The skateboarders began their assault right afterwards. They'd be on us in less than a minute.

"Jenna PLEASE! I don't have time to explain right now!" I did my best to try to calm down. But my limbs were shaking, and the fear of not knowing what to expect in the next few seconds was worrying me. Keep your head, Justin. She'll never leave if she's sees you panic. "Listen...just trust me on this..."

Looking down, I saw Jenna's arms start to shake as well, just like mine. The look on her face matched my own. She was reaching out with her extra...I could 'feel' it. She was feeling what I felt, and she knew all at once that something was definitely up! "What kind of trouble are you in?"

"Jenna...I need you to go..."

"I'm not leaving you here."

"Jenna PLEASE!"

The roar of the wheels got louder and louder! I looked back over my shoulder and saw the dark cloud of teenagers spread out to both sides of the sidewalk in attack formation. They were now racing toward us a top speed!

"Why would they be after you? What could you have possibly done?" She said, stubbornly. I didn't want to take the chance on her seeing me fight! More IMPORTANTLY, I didn't want her to get hurt! But it was almost too late. They were coming FAST!

I turned around and saw all of them reach into their pockets and pull out jet black butterfly knives from their tattered jeans! Even the blade itself was black. And with the appropiate spinning one handed tricks, they unfolded the knives almost in unison. The clicking and clacking sound of the revealed metal echoing off the walls!

Then, with a raised hand, I heard them pierce the night sky with a shrill battlecry! "WAA-OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!" The terrifying howl drowned out every other sound around us, and they made their attack!

"JENNA!!!! GO!!! NOW!!!!" I screamed, and pushed her around the corner just in time! The kids SWARMED around me in a hellish frenzy, blades drawn and swiping at me from all sides! My instincts wouldn't allow me to do anything but cover up as I felt cut after cut scratch the surface of my skin! It was a 'warning' pass for them, they weren't cutting deep enough to do any real damage this time around. But I wouldn't be so fortunate next time.

"JUSTIN!!!" Jenna screamed, and I shouted again for her to run! Three of the skateboarders broke away from the flock to persue her as well, and she took off in the other direction. SHIT! Now they're after her too!

The skateboarders and their leader circled around at the opposite end of the block and charged at me to make another murderous pass! I attempted to get my defenses up, but they were so damn FAST! As the cloud enveloped me, knives cutting both high and low simultaneously, I found myself helpless to even strike out at a single one of them. It was like fighting a thick fog, swinging at nothing. This time, as the last skateboarder passed me, he knocked me backwards with a punch to my face! I fell back to the ground and heard them turn around not far from me to circle back yet again. FUCK! My whole body hurt! And looking at my arms, I could see myself bleeding from the almost uncountable crimson red stripes that they had put on me. I felt a warm trickle of blood crawl over my eyelash, and I knew that my face must have been just as bad. Another high pitched shreik left the gang of teens, and they attacked again! I am NOT going down! NOT LIKE THIS!!!

My body tightened up like a stone, and when they came by, I felt myself twisting and spinning around to avoid some of the slices they were trying to bleed me with. Still...some cuts got through, and I could feel myself getting even angrier. I was swinging wildly, trying to hit at least ONE of them! But they either ducked or spun skillfully out of the way! They had enough skill to dodge on those wheels without even slowing down. The LAST one to pass, however...when he came directly at me to hit me in the face again...I caught his wrist and flipped him off of his skateboard and down HARD onto the concrete! It knocked the wind out of him and he coughed and wheezed as he tried to roll away from me. The others stopped immediately, as though they never expected me to touch them at all. And with an angry glare they changed their 'formation' and started to speed towards me, weaving back and forth from one side of the sidewalk to the other in a demonic zig zag to keep me from getting a lock on their position. I took a stance and motioned with my hand, telling them to BRING IT ON!!! They evidently don't know who they're dealing with!

They circled around me, knives slashing at me from every angle. I felt the pain of getting cut up as if inside a giant blender. But I was able to dodge much more flexibly, avoiding even more damage than before. It's working even better than it was before, and I had complete control this time around. My mind proccessed the moves, and just knew what to do. It wasn't just some impulse that I acted on without knowing what I was doing. My mind was calculating every strategy and counter attack, and if made me even faster than I was before. Feeling the 'opening' in one of the boy's defenses, I kicked out to the side, knocking the little bastard right off of his skateboard and up against a car parked on the street! It set off the alarm, and by the time the others knew what had happened, I had already roundhoused two more to the pavement with one kick. I felt a hand on my shoulder, and I grabbed it, spinning under his arm to send him spinning to the ground on his knees. I then stepped on his back to jump up and out of the middle of their wicked circle, landing on the outside behind them! They were quick to adjust, and came right back at me. I began to block punches and kicks from all sides, concentrating mostly on the knives in their hands. If I caught one hand or one wrist, I made sure to deliver a punch or two before any of the others got a chance to get a shot in. My insincts intensified to a whole new level, even more deadly than it was at the sanctuary, and I felt my adrenaline levels hit an all new high! I lashed out in all directions, and they were flying to the ground in sets of two! But were back up on their boards by the time I had a chance to breathe.

Their tactics changed, and they put on a unified acrobatic display that became the utter definition of total confusion. One of them leaned sideways to put his hands on the concrete, almost horizontal to the ground with his skateboard underneath his feet...and swung it around to sweep my feet from under me! My back hit the sidewalk hard, but I didn't have time to assess the damage done. I had to roll out of the way as a jumped board was coming down to smash me in the face! I leapt back up to my feet to continue the battle, kicking a red haired girl member of the gang clear off of her wheels! I felt a slash on my back, and turned to deliver a hard blow to the kid's ribs. Then I felt another slash from behind! I spun around, but felt two more kids behind hit me behind the legs, forcing me to my knees! A third one spun to hit me across the bridge of my nose with his padded elbow! I was almost folded backwards, when I felt a kick to the back of my head, knocking me forward again! I fell flat on my stomach, and one of the fuckers jumped up to roll over my BACK!

I was aching all over, my best efforts were being beaten down from the simple fact that there were simply TOO MANY OF THEM!!! I swung my leg around to sweep one of them, but he jumped up to avoid it, the board catching him on the way back down. I got to my feet, doing my best to block the ensuing attack. These kids were REALLY out for blood! I felt my fist connect hard with a kid's jaw, flooring him hard! Someone skating past me got a surprise when I stuck my foot out behind me, my heel stopping his board on a dime! He went flying off of it into a trash can on the corner. My arms became a whirlwind, connecting swiftly and savagely at anyone in striking distance! But they were far from giving up. A blond with green eyes backflipped off of his board, pushing it forward and ramming it directly into my ankle! It bounced right back to him for him to ride again! By the time I had felt the pain, another one had done a handplant in front of me, flipping over to strike me across the face with the front of his skateboard. It was tipped with hard metal! They ALL were! Another pair of wheels landed directly on my legs, another pair running over the fingers on my right hand! I shouted out in pain, and was now just trying to get some distance between me and them!

It was nearly impossible to block them all, no matter how fast I was. I'd need an extra set of arms to even come close! I ran in the other direction, but they cut me off at every turn. I grabbed onto a stop sign, swinging around to kick two of them to the ground, but felt their leader kick me across the face, leaving his leg in the air with roller blades spinning! I rolled back over a car, hoping to get a second to breathe. "I don't suppose I could ask for a truce?" I said.

"A TRUCE???" The boy shouted! "Did you give my BROTHER a truce when you murdered him in that speakeasy?!?!"

"That wasn't ME!!!"

"You'd say anything to save your own life, Rage!"

"I'm telling you the TRUTH!!!"

"Tell it to the masses in HELL, you son of a bitch!!!" And with another order, they came swarming around the car to cut me up again! I jumped up on the hood, keeping my legs just out of the way of their pocket knives! Soon, they were jumping up on top of the car with me, and I had to spin back down to the ground. I fought back with all the skill I possessed. Think Justin. Just like Comicality said...don't panic. Seperate them all from one another. I can't fight the group, there's too many. But I can take them on one at a time until I dwindle their numbers down. Think three dimensionally Justin...focus.

When they came at me again, I spun around to clothesline a boy off of his wheels, and stepped down on his back while I flipped over another one. I kicked his skateboard from behind, pushing it out from under his feet and sending him back on his ass. I tried to kick a third boy, but someone behind me sent his skateboard rolling under my foot, making me lose balance the second it rolled under me. I stood up again, but another board rolled under my other foot, and I slipped backwards onto my back. There was no time to be hurt, I had to keep fighting. They weren't going to stop until I was dead!

I kept spinning, kept punching, kept moving....and eventually felt myself begin to slip in between their defenses little by little. But I was taking some heavy damage in the process. I needed to get away from this! My leg shot out to deliver three quick kicks to a boy's chest, and I swung around to footsweep the main boy off of his rollerblades! This time, when someone sent a skateboard to roll under my foot and keep me off balance, I stepped on the end of it and flipped up in front of me. Then, with a hard spin kick, I sent it right back at his FACE! Someone jumped to hit me in the back with his board, but I leaned to the side, snatching it right from under his feet in mid air, and he barrel rolled to the concrete. I swung the board around to connect with one kid's braces, and kicked another one up against the wall. They were caught by surprise, seeing such a change in my fighting ability, and I took the opportunity to take off before they could regroup!

It didn't take more than a second for them to start their persuit, and that thunderous roar of wheels started barreling towards me fast! I still had about ten of them left, and was hoping to lose a few more on the way. I hit the alley, hping some of the garbage, rocks, and broken glass would slow them down. Only three of them followed though. The others moved around to cut me off at the other end. I rolled over a dumpster and kicked a liquor bottle under the wheels of one of the boards. The boy fell face first to the ground. One of his partners rolled at me with his knife pointed outwards, and I grabbed his wrist, swinging him round me and letting him roll right into a wall. Leaving just one more behind me, who caught a few quick punches and a kick to the stomach, making him unable to catch his breath. I heard that rumbling quickly approaching the other end of the alley, they were sure to cut me off if I didn't beat them there. I took a few steps, and tried to remember Chad's speed extra to take off. I felt the ground beneath my feet start scrolling past insanely fast, and the end of the alley rushed up at me so fast that I was scared that I wouldn't be able to stop! Maybe this wasn't such a good idea! I let my legs catch their balance and came bursting out of the end of that alley only seconds before the skateboards got there! Without any real practice, I'm lucky I didn't run myself into a fucking WALL! I cut through a few corners and ran down a long flight of steps into a rather large courtyard used for lunchtime dining. But they were right behind me! I was skipping two steps at a time to get to the bottom. They, however, jumped their skateboards right up to the rails, creating sparks as they slid down after me. They were almost close enough to cut me in the back, so I skipped he last seven or eight steps altogether, jumping down to roll to my feet! Then I focused all of my emotional energy on the rail in the middle of the steps, feeling the halo build instantly without a second thought, and unleashed my brain geyser straight forward! The blast curled and twisted the metal railing taking out three more of my attackers as they were knocked backwards and hit the ground, rolling down the rest of the stairs. The others, however, saw the blast coming, and jumped from one railing to another. The last four of them and their leader slid down to the courtyard with me, and the battle continued. Even more fierce than before!

Finally, just as I began to feel my muscles tire and cramp, I saw a golden blur pass in front of me, and two of the boys got kicked clean off of their wheels and onto their back! I looked and tried to figure out what had happened. "Jenna???"

"I TOLD you, I'm NOT leaving you here!" The next thing I knew, she was scrapping just as hard as I was! She never struck me as being much of a badass, but evidently...I had been mistaken. So much for judging a book by it's cover!

With her whipping the other four with a vengence, and found myself fighting one on one with roller blade boy! It was hard to hit him the way he moved so fast. He fashioned his whole fighting style on being on blades, and he could spin, duck, and jump easily. But one on one, without his horde of teenage goons to help him, he didn't stand a chance! I got in so many kicks and punches that he hardly knew which way to fall, and soon, he was out of breath! He hit his back hard, and I saw his colleagues get frightened. They had lost their leader, they had lost their numbers, they had lost their advantage. When the main boy got up, he turned with a whistle of his lips, and the five of them took off in a retreat. The rolling of their wheels getting softer and softer as they high tailed it around the corner. I couldn't believe it....we....we won.

Standing there, breathing hard and bleeding from the many cuts I had received...I felt myself begin to wind down. You know, while fighting for your life, when your adrenaline is pumping fire and all you know is that you want to survive...your energy levels seem endless. However, once the threat is over, you suddenly become aware of what you've just been putting your body through, and I nearly passed out from exhaustion. I fell to my knees, and then rolled over onto my side. It felt like my muscles had turned to jello, and refused to move. I had overexerted myself this time. By a LOT! "Justin? Justin, are you ok?"

"I...I don't know..." I said breathlessly. "I think..I think I just need to lay here for a while." I said. I couldn't sleep, not until dawn anyway. But I had to just close my eyes and let my body cool down a bit before I even thought about getting up again. Jenna sat down beside me and held me in her arms. It hurt to laugh, but I did my best to chuckle a bit anyway. "You, my lady, are full of surprises."

"What can I say? Dion and Jun taught me some tricks too." She smiled, and we stayed there for over an hour together. Just waiting for my body to be operational again.

I'd like to say that my skills were efficient enough to protect me through this whole ordeal, but the truth of the matter is...they weren't. I pretty much got lucky this time. And if this is the kind of trouble that this 'Rage' character is going to bring into my life...then I need to find him and clear my name quick. Next time, my 'luck' just might run out.