It took a while for my limbs to stop spasming painfully from over using them. I have put my body through pure hell over the last week alone, and it was just about ready to shut down on me. Jenna was kind enough to let me rest for a bit until I was able to move again.

"You know, if you would feed when you're supposed to, your body would function a hell of a lot better. Not to mention it would heal faster." She said, trying to help me up to my feet.

"I know, I know." I said, rolling my eyes.

Jenna sighed, and used the sleeve of her shirt to lightly dabble the blood off of my forehead. She was so gentle about it. Only my mom would have taken more care. And she gave me a look over. "You're cut up pretty bad, but thankfully the gashes are not as deep as they look." She stood back a step to examine the damage. "Some of it'll heal by tomorrow night, hopefully. Hard to tell. But I think I have some make up that can hide some of the marks on your face for a day or twom just in case. I suggest you lay low and stay quiet until then. Lucky for you, Bryson's got his mind too wrapped up in other things right now. I don't think he'll notice as long as you keep a low profile." Great...just what I need. Another 'low profile'.

"Ahhh!" I hissed, as she touched a particularly sensitive spot on my brow.

"Sorry." She seemed to wince with me, almost simultaneously, and sorta gave up on 'patching' me up right then and there. "Listen, why don't we head out to the old church so we can get you cleaned up. K? Take a nice long shower, and I'll try to get you a fresh pair of clothes."

I nodded, and she gave me some assistance for a moment or two until she was sure that I could walk straight again. And we made our way out to the mission. It was pretty quiet at that time of night, as always. And we were able to come through the back door and go down to the showers without running into anybody. Jenna said she would rummage through their donation stuff and see if there were some clothes that would fit me, and left me to get undressed. Geez, trying to take off a tattered shirt while attempting to avoid any painful cuts or bruises is a task reserved for a master, believe me. I had to bite my bottom lip just to keep from screaming outloud. Getting my shirt off was the hardest part, as I had multiple slashes to both of my arms, my chest, and my back. I let the bloodstained shirt fall to the floor, and looked at myself in the mirror. Ouch...I think the sight of what those punks ha done to me made it hurt even WORSE! Physically, my body was already trying to heal itself, but mentally...the teenager in me was on the verge of a panic just from seeing the amount of damage done. My once blond hair had been stained with a shade of crimson, and my chest was practically quivering with small muscle spasms and twitches from aching so badly. What surprised me most however, was that despite the many cuts and gashes all over me...I wasn't really bleeding that much. Not anymore. But I guess I already knew what that meant.

My body was even hungrier than before, after losing so much blood. It was saving what little supply I had left to sustain operating on a vampire's logic instead of a human one. Still, I had lost a great deal of what I had left, and that meant that the bloodlust would be taking control of me much sooner than later. THAT was definitely going to be a problem.

I pulled my pants and underwear off, and walked naked into the showers. I let the water run until it was nice and warm and stepped into the soothing spray. Almost instanly, I felt my muscles relax, and mybody's tensions begin to disappear. I had to be careful while washing up. The soap would sting and burn as it dripped over every cut, my washcloth felt like sandpaper against my matter how softly I rubbed it over my flesh. I could taste the blood in the water as I rinsed it out of my hair...and just that slight tang of bitterness, licked innocently away from my lips, triggered another hungry tremor inside of me. My chest began to quake, and my tongue reached out more to see if it could swipe some more blood from the surface of my lips. My body was craving its next meal. My fangs felt ready to drop at any moment, and I had to concentrate to keep them from doing so. Looking down, I could see my erection standing at full mast, and my heart seemed to beat in desperation. I don't know if it was me, or some deep primal urge taking over....but I suddenly wished for some unknowing victim to walk down into that room for a late night shower. Any of the mission's residents, it wouldn't matter. Just for a moment. I'd make it quick, panless. They wouldn't even see it coming. I'd do anything...just to taste the blood of another human being on my lips again.

I finished my shower with my mind in a daze. And dried off with a towel, wrapping it around my waist before walking back out into the dressing area where Jenna was waiting. "These pants might be a little big on you, but they should fit." She said, holding up a pair for me to wear. "I didn't bother looking for any underwear, but I wouldn't trust anyboy else's underwear anyway. So you're just gonna have to go 'commando' until we get home. Be careful with that zipper." She smiled. Then she walked over and ran her fingers gently across the cuts on my chest. The sensation gave me goosebumps, and it tickled a little bit. "I don't know how well I'm gonna be able to conceal these, but I'll see what I can do." She then moved her gentle hand to my face, and lightly brushed my wet blond locks back to feel my forehead. It was a natural teenage reaction I suppose, but having this beautiful princess touch me in such a tender way 'excited' me. I got a little nervous and started to blush a little bit as the front of my towel began to tent out beyond my control. I directed my eyes up to the ceiling so as not to look at her, but I think she noticed shortly after. She then let a sweet grin cross her lips and she pinched one of my nipples between her fingers, giving it a twist.

"OW!!!" I screeched.

"Don't you go getting frisky on me there, Tiger!" She giggled.

"Sorry..." I sighed, blushing even harder now. "...I can't help it."

"I thought you were gay." She teased.

"I'm not THAT gay!" She took her hand down from my face and walked back over to put my clothes on one of the benches.

"Well, I'm flattered. But right now we've gotta get you home before Bryson starts locking everything down and making sure everyone's home." And with that, she left me some privacy to get dressed again. The pants were pretty baggy on me, but it might be due to the fact that I didn't have a whole lot of 'ass' to fill them in with. And the shirt she gave was a size too small, so it clung to me pretty tightly as we made the long walk back to the lot. I must have looked really strange, but I guess it beat walking home naked.

Once we got to the lot, Jenna sort of ushered me passed the few people who were milling around, and got me back to my trailer. Taryn was sitting out in front, writing his current thoughts down in his diary, and I could see the immediate shock in his face when he looked up into my eyes. "Oh my God! Justin....what happened to you???" He said, jumping to his feet to take a closer look at the obvious cuts on my face. Jenna and I had to give him some quick silent signals to tell him to keep it down.

"Taryn, don't panic, ok? I'm alright." I said.

"But what happened? Who did this to you?" He was trying hard to keep his composure, but his fears and concerns came pouring out all at once.

Jenna stepped in, "We need to get him inside."

And all three of us went inside of the trailer. I plopped down on the bed and Taryn swiftly took his place at my side. He took a closer look at my arms and saw more cuts, leading all the way up into my sleeves. "Oh God!" He was almost in tears. Everywhere his eyes landed on me he saw a new cut or bruise, and he was scared to even touch me. Even though holding me close was the only thing on his mind. "Justin...?"

"It's ok, hon. Really. It's ok." I leaned forward and kissed him delicately on the forehead to calm him down a bit. It didn't work much. "We ran into...some trouble...that's all. The cuts aren't that deep, and they'll be mostly healed up by tomorrow night."

"Justin, no WAY these are all gonna be healed up by tomorrow! Are you crazy? Even freshly fed, it would take two or three days. At least."

Jenna said, "Listen, I'm gonna go grab some of that make up and see what I can do about the cuts on your face, ok?" She decided to give us a few minutes alone, and went back to her car.

"Who did this?" Taryn asked. "Justin, please? Talk to me?"

My eyes looked down at my feet. "It a 'gang' of some sort. Some vampires that were out looking for someone else."


"No...not scavengers, Taryn." I told him, and looked back up into his eyes. "Evidently, somebody out there is doing some very nasty things and hurting a lot of innocent people." Taryn looked worried, but I had to tell him. "They think it's me."

"But why would they think it was you? You've been here with us. You haven't hurt anybody, have you?"

"No, I haven't hurt anybody, but THEY don't know that. And since this other boy has been known for levelling entire GROUPS of vampires at once...they're not going to take the chance of asking me any questions before they dig into me." I thought I heard someone walk by our trailer, but whatever it was, it just kept going. I lowered my voice and whispered in Taryn's ear. "Listen...whoever this other boy is...he's my age. He's very early in his crossover just like I am. And he can fight...really fight. He calls himself, 'Rage', and lately he's been causing a lot of damage around town. Somehow, because of the similarities in our situation, I got thrown into the middle of this."

"But why is this...'Rage', doing all of this? I he after you?"

I paused for a moment, and told him the truth as best as I knew it. "....I don't know." Taryn lunged forward and hugged me tight around the neck.

"Well...we've got to DO something. We've got to get you out of here. Back to Dash's sanctuary, or maybe you could hide out at Tim's..."

"They'll find me. No matter where I go, someone is going to figure that I'm the enemy, and they're gonna come after me. The sanctuary is full of this guy's victims, and while they've told everyone that it wasn't me...I'm not exactly sure who I can trust there."

"So what are you gonna do?"

"I'm gonna find out what I can, tomorrow night. The more I know, the easier it'll be to identify the real culprit and clear my name. It's the only way to keep me out of this whole thing." Before I could finish, I heard Jenna's light feminine knock at the door. Taryn wiped his eyes and straightened up as I went to let her in.

"I think I found a few things that'll help cover some of the scars. At least long enough for you to sneak in and out of the lot for the next few days. It's not much, but there's a fifty-fifty chance Bryson won't notice." She said. But Taryn, after only a second's hesitation, had another idea.

"Come on." He said, grabbing me by the hand as he stood up, heading for the door.

"Where are we going?" I asked.

"I know how to make things a little better." Was his only answer, and he told Jenna we'd be back soon.

Taryn looked around at the others in the lot, and found a way to 'safely' guide me through to a secluded spot in the maze like wreckage around us. It seemed like we had walked all the way to the other end of the fence on the next block. It was probably deeper in the lot that I had ever gone before. It made me realize that I never thought about how big this abandoned lot was outside of the little area we 'camped out' in. Through many twists and turns, we came upon another very small clearing. At the end of that clearing...was a single car with its roof smashed in. And laying on top of that car...was Rain.

Taryn pulled me forward with determination, but I felt like some distant outsider, invading her peaceful paradise here. Something tells me that I wasn't supposed to know about this part of the lot. "Rain?" Taryn said softly. "Rain...we need your help."

She sat up on the hood of the car, and flashed us both a dirty look that threatened to set us ablaze if she concentrated any harder on it. "What are you doing?" She said angrily. "What's HE doing here???"

"Rain, listen...I know this is your private space..."

"NO, Taryn! I don't think you do. Because if you DID, you wouldn't have brought him here."

"Please...just hear me out, ok? I wouldn't have come here if it wasn't important." She was still visibly upset, and had no problem letting me know that I wasn't wanted around there. But for some odd reason, that I've never really been able to explain, Taryn has always been able to talk to her. In a way that made her listen. It was some kind of silent bond that they shared, and while they weren't neccessarily 'buddies', it created a mutual respect between them. "Rain, please? Justin's hurt."

Her head turned slowly, and Taryn brought me closer. She could see the scars on my face and on my arms, and wrinkled up her brow at me. "Jesus...what fucking 'blender' did YOU crawl out of?"

"Rain...I need this as a favor, ok? Can you help him?" Taryn pleaded.

"Why should I?"

"Look at him...he can't walk around the lot like this."

"If he'd stop being such a sissy and hunt when he's supposed to hunt, he'd heal up a lot faster."

"He's just takes time..."

"Well that's HIS problem! Not mine!" She said, laying back down on the hood in a huff. "Maybe he should get in trouble. Then Bryson will straighten him out on a couple of things and we won't have to baby him like some two year old anymore."

I remained silent through Taryn's idea so far, but I couldn't let him do this all by himself. Even though I couldn't imagine how Rain was supposed to assist me with this. "I know things have been...a little rough for you lately. It has been rough for all of us. But....if you could help me..."

"Excuse me, but do you even know what the hell you're talking about? Huh?" She said, still angry at my very presence in her litle home away from home. "Rough for all of us? What do you know about 'rough', Justin? You're still a little boy 'playing' vampire. You're only a few months from being out from under mommy's watchful eye. You don't have the faintest IDEA what we've been through just to survive this long out here. Or what it's like to sit in the dark all by yourself just wishing....just..." For a moment, I almost thought I saw a single tear ready to drip from her eye. But it never did. "...Forget it, kid. You don't understand." She pouted, and looked back up at the sky.

"Rain...." I said.

"WHAT?" She answered in an annoyed tone.

"...I'm sorry.....about Darren that is. He was....he was cool."

She didn't say anything at first, but after a moment, she sighed to herself, her gaze still focused on the sky above. "He was a total loser...." She mumbled. "...I'm glad he's gone."

"You don't mean that." Taryn added, but Rain was getting more angry for every tear that tried to force its way to the surface...and was swallowed back down.

"You know...." She said softly,"Losing someone you love is really hard. But realizing that you never had a chance with them from the very beginning? It murders the soul. And it doesn't come back. It never comes back." It was with that statement, that I saw the first tear fall from her eye, and roll silently down her right cheek. She quickly rolled over on her side away from us, her voice shaking. "Leave me alone! You don't know anything about it! So just turn around and go find your own answers someplace else!"

Taryn walked over to the car, and very cautiously...but tenderly...placed his hand on her shoulder. And her shoulders began to tremble as the emotion pushed harder to express itself.

She pounded her fist against the hood, so enraged that she was letting all of this show in front of anybody else. "Why did you BRING him here?!?!?" But as Taryn rubbed her shoulder, she sobbed, "I really liked him, Taryn. You have no idea...."

"I know." He said quietly. "I'm sorry. There will be others. I'm sure there will..."

"Fuck you, Taryn! Just go away!"

"Rain, I'm trying to help you..."

"NO! You're not! You're just trying to help him, and you need me to do it." Rain pushed Taryn's hand away, and slid off of the hood to her feet to get some distance. "It's bad enough that you two have to have to rub the fact that you're happy in all of our noses all the time. And now you're gonna give me the old 'one day your prince will come' speech?"

"Rub what in your faces? What are you talking about?"

"You know damn well what I'm talking about. Ooh look at us, we're so happy. I've got this great blond boyfriend that everybody loves, aren't I special? Let's go make kissy faces at each other and walk to the lake and have lots of sex every time we get a chance. Because we've got each other for the rest of eternity." She wiped the tears from her eyes, a sullen anger coming back to take its place. "It's disgusting, you know?"

"We don't DO that." Taryn said in our defense. "I THOUGHT you were happy for me."

"WHY?" She yelled back. "Why would I be happy for you? Why should YOU get all the good fortune all the time? When is it gonna be MY turn to fucking be happy?" Taryn didn't know what to say. "No answer for that, is there?" She walked closer to stare Taryn in the eye. "I am sick and tired of living in pain. Do you understand that?"

"I promised you once...that I would always be there for you whenever you needed me, Rain. Always. That hasn't changed." Taryn said, his eyes now watery with tears of their own.

"Yes it HAS, Taryn! So don't give me that bullshit!"

"Why won't you believe me?"

"Because you're 'happy' now! Congratulations, Taryn. You got everything you wanted. All of those long nights when you and I used to talk, and wish, and looks like God decided to answer ALL of your little prayers." She sneered. "So what would you need me for?"

"I NEED you to be my friend!"

" don't." Rain looked over at me, and then back to Taryn, his face wet with tears. "You don't even have the 'desire' to know me anymore, Taryn. You've got your life now. And after all we've been through together, after all the heartfelt emotion I've shared with you over the time we've been here in this can't even be fucking bothered to TALK to me unless you need my help." I didn't want to interfere, I didn't have a place in their relationship. Outside of being the one who may have caused it to wither and break like it was doing right here in front of my eyes. "Tell me I'm wrong, Taryn. Tell me, in all honesty, that you would have come out here to talk to me tonight if Justin hadn't needed my assistance." There was a pause, with nothing said between them. "I never thought you'd abandon me this way. Not you."

"I didn't abandon you, Rain....I would never do that."

"I was there for you. When nobody else would listen, I was there. When you were hurt and knew you could always count on me. I was even there for you that night when you were going to take that 'last' walk on the Pier, Taryn. That night when you found your companion over there." She told him, and then went a step further. "In fact, in case you've forgotten, I was even there the night you went back 'HOME'. Do you remember that, Taryn? Do I need to remind you?"

Even through his tears, I could tell that she had crossed a painful line that Taryn would no longer stand for. "I can't believe you're doing this." He said, and wiped his face clear of sadness. "You don't want to help us? Fine." And he turned to walk towards me. Taryn grabbed me by the hand and pulled me so that we could walk away and leave her there to sulk in private.

"FINE!!! Go! I don't care anymore than you do!" She shouted, and Taryn released my hand to stomp back over to that girl and face her eye to eye.

"What do you want from me?!?! I SAID I was sorry!"

"I want my TARYN back! The Taryn that would always go out of his way to hug me and let me know he gave a SHIT about me when he could CLEARLY see that I was hurting!!! The Taryn who needed ME as much as I needed him! The Taryn....the Taryn...who promised me that he would never just...up and LEAVE me here all alone." She sobbed. "The sweet soul that existed before HE came along." My heart sunk when she said it, and suddenly, all of her dirty looks, her middle fingers, and every foul word she had spoken to me since the very first night that I stepped into that abandoned junkyard...all came into focus. I had stolen away one half of a two person 'support group' out here in all this darkness. On an emotional level, I had been the 'other woman'.

"I'm sorry...." I said under my breath. "Maybe...maybe I should go. I'll leave you two alone to talk." I said. No reaso for me to hear anymore of this. I've obviously been a problem to her, and I'm probably making things worse just being here.

"No." Taryn said defiantly. "Either Rain is gonna help us, or she's not."

"How about NOT?" She pouted.

And Taryn gave her one last look. "Ok then. Fine...forget it." He took my hand again, and led me out of the clearing. Whatever feud that had sprung up between was hitting a very sensitive point right now. I don't think Taryn wanted to push it any further than he had to. He was upset, but deep down, he felt as though he had truly lost someone special to him.

In the background behind us, Rain continued to shout. "You can't just come by here and USE me, Taryn! Believe it or not, I have feelings too! And I'm not going to be fooled into helping you just so you can go back to being happy with someone else!"

"Taryn...?" I said.

"Just ignore her, Justin." He said angrily, still walking. "Just ignore her."

"Be glad, Justin! You win! You've got him alllllll to yourself now!" She screamed, "Hey Taryn! You just blew me off first, asshole!" And that was the end of it. Taryn marched me back through the maze like patterns with determination. Every twist and turn around old car wreckage and auto parts, trying hard to keep the emotion from welling up inside him. But it was no use. Half way back to the center of the lot, Taryn began to cry again.

"Taryn, wait. Please? Just slow down a second."

"Fuck her! She doesn't know what she's talking about!"

"Taryn...?" I stopped walking and pulled back on his arm. "If you want...I can try to talk to her..."

"She's not gonna listen to you. She doesn't listen to anybody."

"I'm sorry. Ok?" I said, and Taryn froze. His eyes meeting mine. "I didn't...I didn't want to cause any problems. I just..."

"NO! Justin...this is NOT your fault, do you hear me?"

"Yes...yes it is. I shouldn't have gotten in the way and monopolozed all of your time like this. It's not fair to either one of you." But Taryn interrupted me.

"Justin..." He let out a long sigh, and paced for a moment or two before sitting down on the ground. "When....when I first came here...I was in a lot of trouble. Ok? Something bad had happened shortly after I crossedover into darkness. It took me a very long time to get over that. I had left my family behind, I was adjusting to this new world, I was coming to terms with who I was....I spent a lot of years regretting my decision to do this." He said, brushing the hair out of his eyes. "Before my crossover...I had run away from home. I was on the streets."

I wasn't sure that I was ready to hear this at all. I don't know why. But suddenly having this boy that I've only known as a vampire, tell me about his life before that, worried me. Even hearing about his life before me. Possibly...because I was scared that whatever it was that he was keeping a secret from me after the last two was going to be something I wasn't sure I'd be able to handle.

"My father had passed away...and my mom had remarried. This...this 'guy'...named Chuck. As it turns out, he liked the idea of loving teenage boys more than loving my mom." He took a deep breath, and looked down at the ground. "So....he....he would...'touch' me."

It hurt him so much to say it, or to even bring it back into his memory. But it hurt even MORE for me to hear it. "Taryn...omigod. Did he..."

"No...I didn't give him the chance. When it got to be really bad, I took my little brother, Alec, and I ran. It was in the middle of the night, and we had very little money. I remember...after a while...we were so cold. Soooo hungry. If it wasn't for Trevor...we would have died out there for sure."

"Trevor?" I asked.

"Yes, Justin. my sire. He's the one that turned me." I sat down beside him, and listened carefully with my arm over his shoulder. "I knew what he was doing, and I knew what it would mean. I'd be here, in the body of a teenager, forever. I was ready...but Alec...I didn't want him to be hurt. I would never put him through that. I loved him, I couldn't sentence him to an eternity in darkness. For godsake, he was only 4 years old."

"So what did you do?"

"I did the only thing I could do." He looked up at me with two streams of tears trailing down his cheeks. "I agreed to go with Trevor, I took Alec back home....and I left him behind." He sniffled. "I knew that I wasn't supposed to go back to my old life, I knew it. But I HAD to protect Alec. I didn't want that monster to put his hands on him. So.....soon after my crossover was complete...I went out into the streets, and I went to pay my stepfather a little 'visit'. Rain was my chaser for the night. I didn't know it at the time. She tried to stop me from having anything to do with my human life ever again, but I begged and I pleaded her to grant me a chance to explain. So we sat down in a park...and for the first time in my life...I told her everything. The whole humiliating story." Taryn closed his tightly, as though trying to block out the memory completely. "Afterwards, even though she said it was against her better judgement, she agreed to keep the whole thing quiet from the others. She accompanied me back to my old house, while my mother was away, and I climbed in through the window. I attacked him, Justin. I broke arms, fingers, ankles....I told him that this would just be the BEGINNING of what I would do to him if he EVER laid a fucking hand on my brother! EVER!"

I caressed Taryn's cheek softly and hugged him close to me. "He deserved it, baby. He deserved it."

"I never went back after that, Justin. I don't know if I helped any, or if I made things worse. I just....I just wanted my brother to be safe, that's all." He cried. "Ever since that night, Rain has been the only person that I've ever talked to about what happened that night. We would spend hours...just sharing pieces of our past with one another. The good and the bad. Neither one of us trusted anybody else with the intimate details of our lives...but we trusted each other. And for many years...we've cried on each others shoulders for help." Taryn then sat up, slightly pulling away from me. "I don't think I've lived up to my part of the bargain. I should have been there for her."

"You were there for her, Taryn. You still are." I said.

"No...I've been doing exactly what she said I did. I found my own happiness and left her to rot alone in misery. I should have been there. She would have been there for me."

"I'm sorry Taryn. I'm really really sorry that any of this had to happen."

"I told you, this isn't your fault. It's mine. I went through a long depression before I met you, Justin. Years long. I tried everything to get out of it. I tried forgetting about it, I tried drinking, I tried 'spice'...everything. You wanna know how I found Gyro that night? I knew where the major spice shacks were in this city. I've been to them all, believe me. And every single time that I was feeling my worst, Rain was there. All I had to do was say the word, and she'd come running. She did everything she could to always look out for me. All she needed in return....was a friend. And I couldn't even do that."

I wasn't quite sure what to say to him at that moment, but my heart took over where my every word would have failed. "I know that she's upset...and I know that you feel responsible. But she really cares about you, Taryn. She wouldn't be hurting this much if she didn't still care."

"She thinks I don't give a shit about her, Justin." He cried. "She thinks I purposely turned my back on her."

"But you didn't. She just misses you, that's all."

"She was the only one who was ever really there for me....I didn't mean to make her feel this awful." He said. "She trusted me with her feelings..."

"Of course she did. Because, deep down, she knows you're the one to trust them with. Right? I mean, why else would she tell you all of those things?"

"Because he listens." Came a voice from around a corner. And Rain stepped out from behind an old wreck to see Taryn and I huddled together on the ground, his eyes red and swollen with emotion. She stepped in further, a much more calm and collected look on her face. She must have been listening. "Taryn listened to me. He REALLY listened. And not just enough to get some angle on how to cheer me up. He actually let me bare my soul to him...and then he let me know that it was 'ok' to be hurting this way. No one had ever done that for me before."

Taryn stood up on his feet, and fixed himself up a little from sobbing on my shoulder. "I know you're hurting now, Rain. I know that. But I never would have left your side. I'm not that heartless. If I knew for one second that you needed my heart, I would have given it to you. I promise you...I would have been there for you."

"I can't always tell you when I need help, Taryn. What I loved about you most is...I didn't always have to. And I miss that."

Taryn walked over, and gave Rain a warm hug. One that she almost didn't want to accept at first. But eventually...she wrapped her arms slowly around his waist, and they embraced as friends. Much closer than I ever could have imagined. "You know..." Taryn began, "...When you were with were happier than I've ever seen you. It was like your whole world lit up, just for him. It was good to see you smile again."

"It felt be 'filled up' with some kind of actual feeling. Instead of always being so dead inside. Instead of the constant echo of all that emptiness. I never thought I'd be that vulnerable to anyone again. But I was....and I paid the ultimate price for it."

"But it was WORTH it, wasn't it? Just to be happy....for a little while?" Taryn asked.

She took a long pause, and after thinking it over, she said..."No. It wasn't. I'm afraid that I've been broken permanently this time, Taryn. I won't be doing this again."

"Rain, please...listen to me. What you felt was a GOOD thing! Even when it doesn't work out for the best, at least remember it as a good feeling." He told her. "Don't you...don't you realize how special love can be when you allow it to flow in and sweep you up completely?"

She began to cry again and nodded sorrowfully. "Yeah...I do."

"Then you know how I feel about Justin. And you know why he's so important to me." Taryn held Rain's head softly in his hands, his thumbs resting lovingly on her cheeks. " happy for me? Please?"

She caved in, and gave him another brief hug and a kiss on his forehead. "I miss you, goddammit." She sobed between tears. And then asked, "Ok....what do you want me to do?"

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, I'm sure." She straightened up and let go of the moment. She was ready for 'work'.

"How good are you with Bryson's extra?" Taryn asked.

"Pretty damn good. I've been practicing over the last year or so. It's not perfect,'ll do."

"Justin has some pretty severe scars on him right now, and we both know he's not gonna be able to heal by tomorrow. Especially while he's hungry." He hesitated before actually saying it, but I got the idea that Rain knew what he was getting at. "I need you to use Bryson's extra to heal as much as you can on him. Please? I know it's asking a lot."

"She can heal me?" I asked. ""

Rain took a moment, wanting desperately to help out any way that she could. But I could easily sense her hesitation in the process. Evidently, whatever it was that she was about to was going to involve some rather major consequences. But, after weighing that against her desire to assist me, she nodded. "Take off your shirt, Justin. Pants too." She told me.

"Wait...what?" I asked nervously. Remembering that I'commando' underneath.

"Take off your clothes. Down to your underwear. Let's go, I don't have all night." She said, and I looked over at Taryn, hoping he'd say something. Wondering if getting naked on command was really neccessary.

Taryn asked, "What's the matter?"

"I'm...I mean...these aren't my clothes. They're from the church."


"So....." I said, trying not to say it outloud. I leaned towards Taryn's ear and whispered, "I don't have any underwear on, dude."

Taryn's eyes opened a little wider. "OH!" And then he giggled a little bit.

"What's the hold up?" Rain said.

" see, Justin here....he's....kinda....'without'...under his pants. You know?"

"What's THAT got to do with anything?" Rain then looked over and saw the look on my face. With a tilt of her head, she put her hand on her hip in the most sarcastic way. "Don't flatter yourself, 'pee wee'. I've gotten my jollies off of much bigger catches than YOU, junior. Believe me." She said. "Now off with the clothes. Hurry up."

I looked back at Taryn, who was blushing just as hard as I was, and he shrugged his shoulders. He giggled at my situation, and I rolled my eyes at him. "Fine..." I sighed.

I slid my shirt over my head, and then unfastened my pants, letting the baggy fitting material drop down to my ankles. I stood there with nothing but my skin and a blush, trembling a little in the cool night air. Well THIS is a first...being completely naked outdoors. I just stared straight up at the sky, and tried to pretend that my 'business' wasn't hanging out in front of a teenage girl. I didn't look over at Taryn either, but I could see traces of his smile out of the corner of my eye anyway. Thankfully, Rain didn't comment. And in a doctor-like manner, started to look me over. My body was marked and sliced all over. Even though the wounds weren't bleeding, the cuts on me caused Taryn to wince in sympathetic pain. I guess it DID look pretty bad when you looked at the damage all at once like that. Rain instructed me to sit on the hood of a nearby wrecked car. "She's gonna take care of you Justin, ok?" Taryn put a warm hand on my thigh to assure me, and I just had to trust them both. So I spread out a shirt on the old car hood, and sat naked on top of it. I had to lightly brush Taryn's hand away from my thigh though. This is embarrassing enough without getting a stiffy in front of everybody.

Rain rolled up both of the sleeves on her jacket, and stepped close to me, standing pretty much right between my bare legs. "I'm gonna need you to close your eyes for a second, ok? Just relax." I did as she said, and I felt her press both of her ice cold hands firmly to my chest. A shiver ran through me. "Now I need you to listen to me, Justin, ok?" She said. "Your heart is going to be pumping really really fast once I start this, and you're going to find it difficult to breathe. That's just your body reacting to the process of rapid healing. I don't want you to panic. If you panic, things could go 'wrong'. Seriously 'wrong'. Do you understand what I'm telling you?" Like THAT was going to help me remain calm through all this!!! Anyway, I nodded, and took a few deep breaths to prepare for whatever it was that she was going to do to me. "Your cuts are going to itch and burn a little, but I need you to stay still. It will be over in a matter of minutes." She pressed her hands even more firmly against my chest, and I could feel them instantly begin to warm up against my skin. "Are you ready?"

"Yeah....I'm ready." I said, and felt Taryn take a firm hold of my hand. Something tells me this is going to be a bit of a 'ride'.

It began with a SHOCK! A harsh pulse that seemed to stiffen me up instantly. My eyes opened involuntarily, as wide as they possibly could, and I could feel this foreign energy swiftly invade my body from head to toe. It spread throughout my bloodstream so quickly that it had taken over before I could resist. My heart began to pound in my chest, hard steady thmps at first, and then faster and faster until I thought it would burst. My heart was beating faster than I ever thought it could, and I could almost HEAR the blood in my body rushing through me at top speed. I could feel it! I couldn't breathe at all, and I began to gasp for air! "Taryn...keep him calm while I do this!" Rain said through gritted teeth, trying her best to concentrate on using Bryson's extra and monitor my reactions at the same time. Taryn squeezed my hand tighter, and told me it was ok. He tried his best to comfort me with soft words and kisses to the back of my hand...but my body was under attack. It was like coming to a sudden 'stop' after running a marathon. I was sweating profusely and worried that my heart would go into cardiac arrest after pumping this fast for this long. It felt like I was DYING!

My instincts began to swell and tighten within me, telling me to attack, trying to force some kind of retaliation for the damage being done to my body! But thankfully, I was able to hold them back. Otherwise, I would have struck out at both Rain AND Taryn in an attempt to escape. I would have severely hurt them both before I had even known what was happening. So I gritted my teeth, and tried to hold on for as long as I could. Every cut on my body began to burn. Hot! I almost expected to see flames shooting out of my arms and legs any second. And then the skin began to itch unmercifully as my flesh started to painfully knit itself back together. I looked downwards at my bare arms and chest, and stared amazed as the wounds healed themselves, one by one, right in front of my very eyes! It was ALMOST a pleasant experience, seeing my cuts and bruises disappear little by little. But it was at that moment that I realized what was happening here. As the cuts and abrasions vanished from my own arms and legs, I saw them miraculously 'open up' on Rain's. Se wasn't just making the bodly damage go away.....she was taking it upon herself.

I didn't want her to suffer for what happened to ME. But I was already locked in, I couldn't even breathe, much less move. And I saw the pain in Rain's eyes as she took on more and more of my scars. I saw them stripe accross her face, her arms...I saw bloodstans begin to emerge through her shirt as her chest opened up new cuts as well. And when the last cut on my body was gone, I felt another instant shock as she dettached herself from me! She nearly stumbled backwards down to the ground, but Taryn caught her and gave her some support. Leaning her gently up against another car. I couldn't catch my breath at first, but my body soon stabilized, and my heartbeat went back to normal. I was dizzy and disoriented, but could feel my senses trying to come back to me as quickly as possible.

Taryn tended to Rain, and I watched as she slid down to the ground and curled up in a tight little ball. And that's when something 'else' happened. The cuts on her body began to pulse and throb painfully, and she tried to hold back from crying out as she began to use her own extra to take care of them. I could feel the activation of her special abilities, and watched as the scars seemed to focus themselves inward somehow. 'Transforming' into something else. Taryn was at her side the entire time, but she didn't seem to want any help. However, I felt Jenna's empath ability switch on inside of me, and Rain's emotional pain seemed to grow more and more intense by the second. It struck me like a bitter flame, burning hot inside of me and hollowing me out from the inside. As it grew stronger, I almost doubled over with the feelings that ravaged through me. Pain, rejection, lonliness, anger, heartbreak...they speared at me from every side, and it was only growing more intense. What was happening? Why was Rain suddenly feeling so uncontrollably depressed?

I slid down to a squatting position, holding my chest with both arms crossed, as the intensifying emotion continued to get worse. My was unbearable! Even after all I had been through in my life, I had never felt such an overwhelming agony in the pit of my soul. It was nearly suffocating me. But my eyes looked back up again, and I think I was finally beginning to understand. Rain was taking the physical pain on her body...and converting it into mental and emotional pain instead. For every scar that disappeared on her arms or legs, the more the anguish inside of her built up steam. It was a lot for her to take, and she was crying hysterically by the time the process was complete and the scars were gone. The second she was done, Jenna's extra released me from my 'connection' to Rain...and I was able to stand again. To think....she took all of that pain...all of that unbelievable suffering....for me.

"GO!" She shouted from the ground, literally aching with self disgust. "Get out of here, both of you!" She said through tears. Rain was rolling around in the dirt, the pain in her heart causing her very spirit to collapse in on itself. Taryn moved closer to help her, but she VIOLENTLY shoved his hand away. "GO AWAY!!!!! GET THE FUCK OUT HERE!!!!" She screamed at the top of her lungs, crying her eyes out! The misery she was experiencing at that moment was beyond ALL definition. Beyond all manner of understanding. Combined with the pain she was feeling over losing Darren, and the argument she had provoked from Taryn...the damage control on her body had converted into something completely out of her control. But Taryn...always the loyal one...sat down beside his friend, and kept his hand on her shoulder. No matter how many times she slapped it away, no matter how loud she wailed for him to leave...he refused to go.

Finally regaining my motor skills and balance, I stood up, wanting to walk over and join them. But Taryn silently warned me off. And then sent me a mental message. "Justin...go back to the trailer, and I'll meet you there. It's going to take Rain some time to blance her emotions out again. If you try to help, it'll only take longer. Ok?"

I nodded in response, and gathered my clothes from the hood of the car. Hurriedly pulling the loose fitting pants back on to cover my nakedness. Then Rain shouted out again for us both to leave, and rolled away from Taryn's arms. She sat up against a car, and grabbed the pocet knife from her boot. "I'm sorry, Taryn...I'm so so sorry....." She sobbed. "...I can't....I can't hold it in any longer..." I saw her expose the blade of her pocket knife. "...It's too much...too much...I'm not gonna make it.............I'm sorry." And with tears running down her cheeks, her face decorated with more pain than I had ever seen in a person before...she took the knife, and savagely opened the vein on her right arm. The blade cut through the skin like the meat of a ripe orange. The pain of it reflected in her grimace. She slit her wrist right in front of us, a high pitched cry escaping her throat as the blade dug deeper into her flesh. Both Taryn and I shut our eyes tightly and looked away from her as she did it, and then heard her yelp as she cut her other wrist open as well. Peeking back, we saw a generous amount of blood pour out of her self inflicted wounds, occassionally squirting with a few of her fevered heartbeats, and she leaned her head back, ready to pass out for the night. A blank stare in her eyes, as the life drained out of her little by little, onto the ground below.

For Rain...this had become a practice that she had become used to over the years. One that she could use to stop the 'ache' inside her, if only just for a little while. But unlike most in her position...Rain would wake up again the next evening. It took seeing this awful display of sacrifice, and then make me understand her a little better than I did before. A concept that both enlightened...and frightened me to no end.

Taryn moved over next to her, and held her head close to his shoulder, crying with her as they sat side by side. Again, he told me to go. He wasn't leaving. He had a friend who was dying inside, and more miserable than either of us could possibly imagine. He wasn't about to let her bleed there alone. "I'm here with you, Rain." He whispered with a tear. "I'm right here."

I left them to be alone. Taryn was going to sit right there next to her until she had bled herself to sleep. And then, I guess, take her back to camp where she'd be safe from sunlight. He had evidently been through this set of events before...and had put her to bed many nights over the course of the last ten years. They were both stronger than I could have been. To be there for someone at their lowest's a virtue I hope I never have to learn from experience. I can't imagine anything more horrific than being trusted with the life of someone you love and trust...only to fail them in the end.

I was silent as I walked back to the main part of the lot. After what I had seen, and what I had felt from Rain's sacrifice...I found myself walking in a stupor. My mind trying to adapt and adjust to an entirely new definition of 'family' to fit the complexities of my friends here in all this darkness. The things we've been through in the short time that I've been here. The concepts we've discussed. With all of the leaps and bounds I've made in understanding since being human...I still had light years to go in terms of grasping even a fraction of what I had to learn. There was soooo much. So many personal philosophies and conflicts, each one seen from a billion different points of view. It amazed me that any of these concepts could connect at all between two different people. And some how, some way....this mysterious 'Vampire Dawn' is supposed to help people understand it all? I highly doubt that. It doesn't even seem possible.

Not even for an 'advanced' species like ours.