On our arrival back at the lot, walking hand in hand, still giddy and laughing girlishly at one another, Trevor met us at the gate. We dropped hands immidiately and stopped dead in our tracks for a quick second, like two animals taking precautions against possible danger. He stood right in front of us, forcing us to notice him. "Well, well, well, if it isn't sleeping beauty." He had a wide grin on his face that looked innocent enough, but I could already tell that there was a demonic mischief behind it. Taryn must have known too, because he didn't say anything, he just looked over at me and then took me by the hand once again. Taryn led me around him and back into the camp, but Trevor kept his eyes locked to mine the whole time. I didn't mean to be rude, but something about that kid freaks me out.

I saw a few of the others milling about in the yard. Jun had been completely healed from his little 'accident' on the bridge, and was throwing a frisbee back and forth with Michael. Doc was happily typing away on his laptop, laughing to himself as he talked to his online buddies. I saw Max with his head in the hood of a car, attempting to fix the engine and get it working again. Apparently to no avail, considering his frustrations and foul language. The Kid, silent as ever, stood by like a good little helper. He handed Max all the tools he needed, and then ducked when Max threw them back at him minutes later. His face never changed, but the little boy seemed to be getting a kick out of watching Max flare up over and over again. It was as though he was making a game of it.

"Welcome home bud." Dion said walking up behind us. "Enjoy your little night out?"

"It was AWESOME!" I said, and Taryn pulled us both to the side.

"Guess what? He can mind read already!" Taryn whispered.

Dion looked over at me inquisitively and then broke out in a smile. "Get outta here. You're shittin' me right?"

"NO! He did it! He really did! TWICE!" He said excitedly.

"That's impossible Taryn. Vampires can't mind read until their eyes begin to glow. Justin's still a few weeks away from that."

"I'm telling you, he did it!"

"What message did you send him? 'I love you?' THAT must have been hard for him to decode." Dion said sarchastically. It was the first time I had ever heard his voice show a different emotion other than knowledge.

"It was more than that, and he recited it back to me, word for word." Dion tried to just laugh it off, but looking in Taryn's eyes, he knew he was telling the truth.

"You...you're serious, aren't you?" Taryn nodded and he hugged me tightly from the side, placing a sweet kiss on my cheek.

"Is...is this..like a BAD thing, you guys?" I asked, a little worried if maybe I was doing something out of the ordinary. Don't tell me I'm gonna screw up my own death too.

"No...well...I'm not sure. It's never really happened before. I've never known a vampire's mind reading abilities to manifest so quickly after ressurrection. Hey Taryn, maybe we should tell Bryson about this." Dion said, looking at me like some kind of lab rat.

At that moment, Doc and Jenna came over to join us. "Say guys, guess what?" Taryn started, and Dion hushed him up.

"Look Taryn, let's keep this under wraps for right now, huh?"

"Keep what under wraps?" Jenna asked.

"Justin can mind read!" Taryn was so proud of me that it was a little embarrassing. I blushed and grinned to myself as he kissed me yet again. Then he covered his mouth suddenly. I honestly don't think he meant to blurt it out like that. It just sort of happened.

"Wow! Really?" She said, looking me over in amazement.

"Great Taryn, good way to keep quiet. And now why don't you tell us who shot JFK?" Then Dion huddled us all together and he gave us a little pep talk, saying that not another soul was to be told until we talked to Bryson first. We shook on it, and went to see our young 'leader'.

We found Bryson in the front seat of an old broken down mini van, looking over some papers, which he quickly hid away when he saw us coming. We started to tell him what had happened, but as soon as he realized what we were getting at, he shushed us. He got out of the car and looked around first before saying, "Ok, follow me. We need some more privacy." It was strange, but for the first time, the rest of this wacky brat pack seemed just as confused as I was. I didn't know whether to be proud of myself, or scared out of my wits.

We followed Bryson out of the lot and to an old building a few blocks away. We climbed the stairs up to the rooftop and walked out to an abandoned patio. Dark and rust colored, covered with a thick layer of dust. But even from far away, the Chicago skyline illuminated the world around us. It brought a certain flair to the place. We had a view of everything, it was breathtaking. And we were only ten floors up. Bryson sat down in a rusty old chair first, looking right at me, and then the others sat around to join him in a small circle. Taryn remained standing next to me. He could tell that Bryson was a bit worried, and he needed answers. "What's the matter? I think it's great that Justin learned it so fast. What's wrong with that?"

"There's nothing WRONG with it Taryn, nothing at all. We just have to look into this further. There's certain precautions that have to be taken."

Dion spoke up, "It is rather strange Taryn. It takes most of us a full month to even begin to mind read. Even by accident."

"Well he's not LIKE most of you."

"Which is exactly our concern. If we're going to teach him anything, we're going to have to know how his mind works. This little surprise shows that we might be in for more than we bargained for."

"So what are you saying?" Taryn asked.

"I'm just saying that your companion here is either very exceptional...or his mind is making room for something big." Bryson's words made me a bit nervous. But I must admit that I got a little upset that everyone seemed to be talking ABOUT me, but no one was talking TO me. This was MY life afterall.

"What's going on? I don't get it. What did I do?" I asked.

Jenna's sparkling blue eyes met mine, and she said, "Did anyone tell you what an 'extra' is Justin?"

"An extra? No."

Dion took over the conversation at that point. "Do you remember our conversation earlier, what I told you? That we're all different? Well, I don't just mean in the physical sense. Each of us is possessed with an 'extra'. A certain enhancement of sorts. And every vampire's is unique. It's like a fingerprint. They take a hold of you and become evident in the first few months after your crossover."

"Is mine...like...defective or something?"

"No Justin, not at all." Bryson said. "We just find it incredibly strange that Taryn was able to teach you his mind reading ability only one day after your awakening. You see, we all have special attributes, some stronger than others. It depends on your state of mind and who you were before you were turned."

Doc saw me trying to grasp what they were gettig at, and put it in layman's terms for me. "Basically, what they're saying is...if your mind is absorbing all this info and manifesting your extras this rapidly, chances are you're gonna be one special son of a bitch when your own powers come to the surface." Now THAT I understood.

"I am?" I felt Taryn hug me tightly and my heart flooded with joy. I felt honored, blessed...as though I had won the lottery or something. Did they mean it? Was I not only going to be somebody, but a 'special' somebody? I couldn't believe my ears.

"Possibly. No guarantees though. Like I said, we've never seen this happen before." Dion continued.

"If it's something really cool, Justin, you'd better teach me first! Ok?" Doc stated happily.

"Teach you? I...I don't know how." I said, still wrapped in Taryn's loving arms.

"You will." Bryson sat forward and looked me over again. "And hopefully you'll feel comfortable enough to let the rest of us in on it after you practice. No pressure of course. It's totally your choice. You see, that's what us vampires do. We find our own extras, perfect them, and teach them to the people we trust most. They, in turn, teach it to someone they trust, and so on and so on. We basically take all of our differences, our little individual gifts that make us who we are, and we do with them what the human race should have been doing all along."

"What's that?"

"We LEARN from them." Dion said.

Doc rolled his wheelchair next to me and giggled a little at Taryn, who was basically just laying his head on my shoulder, eyes closed, his arms snaked around my chest from the side. "You guys are so gay." But Taryn only smiled and opened his eyes half way to kiss me on the cheek and lean back into my shoulder.

"So, we learn tricks from each other? Other vampire's I mean." I asked.

"As many as we can." Bryson answered. "We've got forever to get it right."

"Is there anybody who knows them all?"

The group looked at each other and Bryson said, "Well, there are rumors of such vampires. 'Perfect' vampires who have traveled the globe to learn every trick known to us. It's what we all strive to be someday, to better our understanding of things. But it's just a legend."

Jenna spoke up. "I don't know, Bryson. I think it might be true. There are a lot of us out there. And they're all pushing to reach the same goal."

"There's only a few who can even be 'candidates' for such a claim. They are the rare few who have the ability to learn it all, and that's only because they steal the extras right out of our heads." Bryson said it with a sense of distaste, and I asked what he meant by 'stealing' the extras. "Well, Justin...while we all want to know all the answers and just want to learn from one another, there are those of us who are quite stingy indeed when it comes to giving up their secrets. They hide their extras from the rest of us, and refuse to give up their 'individuality' by allowing others to do what they do. However, there are a few vampires who can retrieve these secrets despite their selfishness."

Dion jumped in. "Yeah. A chosen few, VERY few, can actually read the minds of other vampires without consent. It's an extremely rare talent indeed, but it does exist. These few can take whatever information they like from whomever they please. So it makes them a very dangerous breed indeed, and there aren't too many of us that like them. We suggest you stray from any contact with the likes of them. They're mind thieves and usually don't even ask for us to teach them anything. They just TAKE it. Assholes."

"An extra like that, being taught to the wrong people, could be catastrophic." Bryson added.


"Justin, there are those of us who are tired of living in sewers and abandoned warehouses and rusted car lots. Many of us are looking for a way to rise to the surface. If they learn enough secrets, gather enough strength, they'll take over. Just like everybody else, us vamps have our share of nutcases too."

That said, Bryson stood up, and the others followed suit. "I want Justin to spend the next few weeks back at camp."

Taryn raised his head for the first time since we started and spoke up. "A few WEEKS? What for?"

"We just want to monitor him for a while, okay? Make sure everything goes smoothly. And keep this quiet."

"Come on Bryson! I understand the concern and all, but a few WEEKS? You're killing us here!"

"I said what I said, Taryn, and that's final. I mean it! I don't want to catch him stepping one foot outside of that fence! Do you understand?" Taryn kind of groaned and rolled his eyes, trying to get away without making any promises. But Bryson was evidently already hip to that trick. "UNDERSTAND, TARYN?"

"Alright, alright...whatever you say."

Taryn and I both sighed with the idea that I'd be stuck in that old car lot for an even longer period of time. But hey, what could I do? I figure they know this lifestyle better than I do. Then Bryson continued, "Good. I'll give him two or three more weeks to learn some basics. After that, I want him to go see Tim up North. Maybe he'll know what to make of all this."

They all dusted themselves off and began walking back down the stairs, Taryn and I trailing behind a little as usual. "Wow, you're gonna get the chance to meet Tim. You'll like him, he's cool." He whispered in my ear.

"Who is Tim?" I asked.

"Who is Tim? Oh nobody really....just one of the oldest living vampires in the whole damn city. That's all. If anybody can figure you out, he can. He's seen it all."

This was all happening so fast. I didn't know what to make of it. One minute I'm the pathetic little bastard kid who the whole world loves to hate, and the next I'm this special mind reading phenomenon with a gorgeous boyfriend and ready to be shipped off to meet the oldest living vampire in town. I'm thinking that maybe I didn't come back at all, maybe I threw myself over that railing afterall and this is heaven. I was waiting to wake up any minute and find myself in bed at home, ready to go to another hideous day at school. If this was a dream, I planned to write it down as SOON as I got out of bed. Something like this would make a cool story.

So for the next few weeks, I just explored the car lot, which seemed to get smaller and smaller everyday. I wanted so badly to just get away, to just run out and be free like I was on my first night there. But they kept me 'locked away' in that place. The entire time I roamed back and forth, trading more ideas with Dion, getting to know Jenna a little better, and I even got Dylan to speak to me at a normal tone of voice a few times. I basically tried everything I could to avoid Trevor as much as possible during the first week. Again, I didn't want to be rude, and I did talk to him occassionally in passing, but something about the way he looked at me made me uncomfortable. The bad thing was, he wasn't really doing anything wrong, I just worried about any interaction with him. He didn't press too hard though, and after a while he seemed a little better, almost friendly. It's not that he was a bad guy so much, it's just....well I don't know. Maybe I was making this all up in my head afterall.

Bryson pulled me aside once a day to meet in a remote, isolated section of the lot. There he talked to me, answered my questions as best he could, and told me a lot about the group. He warned me about police, and about being seen on the street, and never visiting anyone that I knew in life no matter what. At last, I was actually starting to feel at home there. Like one of the gang. And believe it or not, I didn't really miss the sun all that much. I stayed up all night, and slept all day, and that was that. I began to wonder why Taryn longed for it so. Then again, I guess he's lived a lot longer without it than I have. I'd only gone without for a month and a half, and I spent most of that time unconscious. So the image was still fresh in my mind.

The others always went out at night, cruising the streets and having a great time while I was stuck at home. But no matter what kind of all-night party they were having, Taryn always stayed behind with me. Always by my side. I knew he probably wanted to go out too, but when I asked him, his reply was always, "Everything on this Earth that I need to be happy...is standing right here next to me." So we would retire to the van for a night of making out and other 'smile inducing' activities. But, sex aside, nothing thrilled me more than letting my soft lips gently glide across my lover's face. His chest. His stomach. His thighs. Every inch of him was so erotically smooth and tight. When we laid next to each other nude, the very feeling of our warm skin sliding together with a sensual contact was enough to bring me over the edge every time. Sometimes, we would just roll and touch each other for hours, never uttering a single word, and I've never felt so safe. By the end of the second week, we didn't even have to say 'I love you' anymore. In fact, the words only got in the way of our true feelings. It wasn't in our words, but in our touch, in our dreamy gazes, in our sense of togetherness, that we made ourselves understood. I rather enjoyed our quiet times together, while the others ran wild in the city. And as I lay my head on Taryn's chest one night after kissing for what seemed like an eternity, I felt a love like no other. To think, he spent all those nights here, just as cooped up as I was, simply because he never wanted to leave my side. The pure notion of it was beautiful.

Taryn was smoothing my blond hair tenderly, over and over again, when I felt his chest tremble a bit. I ignored it the first time, but then I felt it again, even stronger than before. It was a soft rumbling, but without sound, and it was like he was trying to pretend it wasn't happening. "What was that?"

"Oh...hehehehe, I'm sorry. I'm just a little hungry, that's all."

It was then that I noticed something strange...I wasn't. I wasn't hungry at all. In fact, the thought had never entered my mind. I hadn't eaten anything at all in almost two entire months! Not a single scrap, nor did I crave anything. In fact, I never saw the others eat either. Not once. "You know, that's pretty fucking weird, but I haven't eaten anything in a loooong time. Say, where are you guys hiding the donuts? I'll grab you some, and maybe get a couple for me too." I said getting up.

"No, dude, that's okay. Just come back to bed." He protested sweetly.

"It's fine Taryn. You've done so much for me, the least I can do is grab you a snack or two."

Taryn sat up quickly, naked as the day he was born. "NO! Really! It's alright. I'm fine!" I flashed him a strange look and he worked at trying to hide his enthusiastic refusal from me. "Besides, there's something much more tempting that you can feed me right here in this room." He smiled wickedly, and laid back down, spreading his legs wide for me. What a sight!

"Hehehe, NOW who's the pervert?" I crept closer to the bed and in my best Transylvanian accent said, "I want to suck your blood." To which he giggled a bit louder than I expected. I guess the way vampires are portrayed on tv, as night stalkers sucking blood out of innocent victims, was a bit overrated. Good to know. There were a few hundred times that I wanted to ask, but I guess I was afraid I'd insult them. Besides, it's not like I saw them with any young virgin girls tied up in the trunk of a car to be fed off of. So where was the worry?

"Nah....too easy." He replied, passing the opportunity for the cliche 'gay vampire' joke. And we rolled around, tussling happily for the rest of the night. When sunrise came, we covered up, and fell asleep in each others arms. I never slept so soundly.

The next night, I woke up without Taryn next to me. It was weird, but we never got out of bed unless it was together. So I got dressed and walked outside to see the others involved in their various activities as usual. It was like a big summer camp in a lot of ways, with little 'workshops' or whatever and everyone doing their own thing. And I walked over to give Taryn my early evening 'good morning' kiss. He just wrapped an arm around me and returned the favor happily. A few of the others were grouping together to go out again, and I envied them. It shouldn't be much longer. Besides, this whole prison thing was holding me back. What's worse is it was holding Taryn back too. "So are we going or what?" Trevor yelled from the gate to the others.

The troops began to follow him, leaving me and Taryn and a few stragglers behind, standing in the middle of the yard. "So what's on the agenda tonight sweetheart?" I asked, trying to make it up to him for ruining his night yet again.

"Ummm....actually...I'm kinda...sorta...going with them tonight." It caught me by surprise, even hurt a little bit, but I could understand. He had sacrificed so much of himself, devoted so much of his time already, how could I say no? It's not like he had to baby sit me or anything. Besides, Dylan, Doc, Max, Bryson, and Dion were still there to keep me company.

"Ok...that's cool."

"Please be cool about it alright? I'll be back as soon as I can, and then we can make love all day and all night tomorrow! Deal?"

"You BET it's a deal! How can I turn down an offer like that?!?!" I said, giving his ass a friendly grope.

"Good." He grinned, and then he kissed me. "I'll see you when I get back. K? I love you."

"I love you too." I said. And then he ran to catch up to the others, who were already involved with making noise and howling at every street light. What a weird bunch they are sometimes.

It hadn't even been ten minutes before I started to miss him. I sighed to myself and just sat down in my own little corner of the yard, using a stick to draw circles in the sand. I just figured that I would wait it out and soon I'll be going out with the rest of them. I felt like such a rookie. When am I going to get my 'wings' so I can have fun too? This just sucked!

All of the sudden, I saw a figure walk through the front gate. It was Rain, her punkish goth like appearance seemingly carrying it's own cloud around her. She was walking fast, trying not to be noticed, but not really caring if she had been noticed. I can't even remember the last time I saw her. Bryson approached her quickly and I could already tell that there were gonna be fireworks.

"Well....look who decided to drop in and say hello? Nice to see you Rain!" He said, reprimanding her for her absence.

"Don't START with me Bryson, I'm not in the mood!"

"Are you EVER in the mood?"

"Leave me alone!!!" She screamed, never once slowing down her forward motion.

But Bryson was walking fast right behind her, "This is really beginning to piss me off Rain!"

"Fuck you, Bryson!"

"NO!!! FUCK YOU!!! If you dissappear like this again and don't let us know where you are, you can just STAY gone! You hear me?!?!" All the fussing and fighting made me a bit uncomfortable. I didn't know what to expect from either one of them, but they looked as though they were ready to rip each other's throats out. Bryson finally stopped chasing her, and Rain continued to walk around the corner, her middle finger held high for all to see. "DAMMIT!!!" Bryson screamed to himself. Then I saw him grab a coat and charge out of the lot in a huff. I guess he needed to blow off some steam after something like that. I didn't know much about Rain, but she wasn't neccessarily the kind of girl you get to know just by being friendly. Still, curiosity got the best of me, and I rose up on shakey legs to go see where she was. I walked around the maze of cars until I came to a dead end. A dark little corner where Rain was sitting on the ground with her head in her hands. I could tell she was crying. But not with tears of sadness, these were different. These were tears of anger, of frustration, the kind where it feels like even God Himself is against you and you just hate everything and everyone. I know those tears well, I shed them myself many times in the past. You want to be alone, and yet you want to be surrounded by people who really care and want to listen. The only thing more depressing than the emotion itself, is your inability to define the fucking thing. Yes, I remember it well.

I was standing maybe twenty feet away from her, and she hadn't seen me yet. But something told me to stay away for now, to give her some space. So I backed away around the corner again, and left her to her privacy. My heart bled for her, and I would try to come back and help later on, even if she didn't want it, but now was not the time.

As I made my way back into the clearing, Doc called me over to look at something on his laptop. I sat next to him on an old engine and saw him chatting away with a friend of his. "I want you to meet somebody Justin. This is my friend Pan, the Weblicator. He's just like us."

He handed me the laptop and I typed in "Hello?"

"Hiya!" Came the reply.

"Doc here tells me you're a vampire too?"

"Yes. We trade little details and stuff every now and then. :)"

He seemed cool enough, and I continued to chat away with him for a few minutes, basically describing how I came here and my crossover and all. Pan put a smile on my face, and I was glad to know that there were others just like me outside of this junkyard. Someone with the same problems, the same secrets, and went through the same day to day crisis that I did. Talking to him was a humbling experience to say the least.

Shortly after, he said he had to be going, but he hoped that we could talk again. It was a very refreshing change to talk to him, and I told him I'd love to. Then I gave it back to Doc, and he said his goodbyes for the night. "Nice buddy you've got out there in cyberspace."

"Yeah, the sweet bitch that he is! Thanks. We talk all the time. He knows stuff, you know, about the way things go and all."

"The way things go?"

"Yeah, he studied stuff like vampire legends and prophecies. He's got a lot of contacts with the higher ups." Doc said happily. He was just one of those cheery kids who always had a smile on his face.

"I didn't even know we had vampire legends and prophecies."

"Of course we do. We're a culture just like any other. Some of it's really interesting too. The next time I see him, I'll tell him to send you some stuff to read up on. Minus the boring parts, of course. The funny thing is, that most of the people who WROTE the scriptures are still around to see them. Hehehehe! It's not like the Bible, where people can 'interpret' and quote it to serve their own purposes. If we've got a question on what something means, we can just ask the man who wrote it."

It had been a short while, and my mind was still kind of wondering about poor Rain. I know she's going through some tough times, but nobody really ever wants to go through them alone, no matter how much they say they do. "I'm going to go and see how Rain's doing. Ok?"

"You are? Uhhh...don't think that's such a good idea man. Rain doesn't even like US all that much, I doubt she'll be much friendlier when it comes to strangers."

"I know it sounds weird Doc, but I know how she feels. Outcasted, hurt, spiteful...I just want to let her know that I'm here for her."

Doc sighed, "Alright...but I just think I should warn you that the last person who tried to cheer her up was Michael. And she slammed his head in a car door to show her appreciation. Best of luck!" And Doc rolled away. Okaaay....so maybe this wasn't going to be so easy. As I stood up and walked back through the lot, I started to think about what she might do to me if I had this all wrong. Somehow I knew that, immortal or not, getting my head slammed in a car door CAN'T feel all that good! I came to the same dead end, and saw her sitting in pretty much the same position as she was in before. But this time, she wasn't crying, she was just sitting still. I crept a little bit closer to her, the ground crackling beneath my feet. I got more and more nervous with each step I took towards her. Her green and purple hair was all I could see. She was sitting on the ground her arms folded on top of her knees and her head buried beneath them.

"R-R-Rain?" I whispered. But she didn't answer. "Um...Rain? I...I don't know if you remember...but I'm Justin. I came here a few weeks ago?" Still, not a word, not a single movement of any kind. So I took a step closer, and cleared my throat a little bit. My heart was beating a hundred miles a minute, and I was beginning to think that it would be best if I just ran away as fast as humanly possible. But I figured I'd give it one more try first. So I stepped even closer, knelt down, and leaned forward far enough to put a hand on her shoulder. "Rain?"

All of the sudden she popped up, and pulled a switchblade out of her coat pocket! The click of the blade scared the shit out of me and she stared me down with teary eyes filled with hatred as she pointed it at my throat. I froze! Wait a minute! What the hell happened to the car door? I'd take that over being stabbed any day! I was too scared to move, and I think she knew it. Her eyes were so cold, so intense. They held me in their gaze and refused to let go.

"Don't even try it kid. She's the Ice Queen, and she's not kind to visitors." Came a voice from behind me. It was Max, and he put his hand on my shoulder to roughly lift me up again. Thank goodness, because I was much too terrified to move on my own. Rain never flinched, and she never took her eyes off of me. She might be the one person here who hates me more than Max and Trevor do. "Good to have you back girlie. I was beginning to wonder who was gonna take your spot here and sulk all day for you while you were gone."

At that moment, without changing the look in her eye at all, she took the knife to her wrist. She dug in with the tip and dragged the blade downward, severing the artery and causing blood to come spilling out of her. Then I watched in horror as she did the other one as well. Max paid it no mind, but I was about ready to run to the nearest phone and call an ambulance! "RAIN! My God!" I shouted.

"Don't sweat it Justin. She's ALWAYS pulling the old suicide routine. She gets a kick out of it." And then I saw her lean back and close her eyes as her face became pastey white, the blood draining from her body. "She'll be alright in an hour or so. Last time it was poison, and before that it was pills, and before that she slit her own throat, and before that she impaled herself on a spike." I couldn't believe how nonchalantly Max was talking about this! I was watching her bleed to death right in front of me for crying out loud!

Then, when her head sickeningly fell dead to one side, Max looked down and shouted, "Jesus, Rain! Get a HOBBY, will ya?!?!" And then he turned me away and started leading me back to the middle of the lot. "What some people won't do for attention these days...hey, Dion wants to see ya."

I was still a bit shaken, but all the more reason for me to walk away. I don't care HOW long I stayed with these guys, I was NEVER gonna get used to seeing THAT on a regular basis! I walked out to Dion's little corner of the lot, where he had made a home out of an old pick up truck. He was laying on his back, staring up at the stars, his hand underneath his shirt and rubbing the soft ebony skin beneath it. There was a soft melody playing on the car radio, some love song that was extremely soothing, and eerily hauntling at the same time. 'Chances Are'....that's the name of it. It was a relaxing, piano played, tune accompanied by a light male voice.

"Chances Are, 'cause I wear a silly grin the moment you come into view.
Chances are that you think that I'm in love with you.
Just because my composure sort of slips, the moment that your lips meet mine.
Chances are you think my heart's your valentine.
In the magic of moonlight,
When I sigh, hold me close dear,
Chances are you believe the stars that fill the skies are in my eyes.
Guess you feel you'll always be the one and only one for me,
And if you think you could,
Then chances are, your chances are, awfully good."

I almost felt like it would ruin the moment if I spoke, so I just let Dion enjoy it for a bit. He just looked so peaceful laying there, so serene. I wanted to tip toe away quietly and come back later, but he noticed me anyway. "Care to join me?"

"Um...sure. Ok." I climbed onto the back of the truck and laid down next to him. "You wanted to see me?"

"It wasn't anything important, I was just enjoying a quiet moment, thought you might like to share it with me for a while. I know how much you must want to get out of this place."

"You have NO idea." I sighed a little bit, imagining Taryn out in the streets somewhere, talking about how glad he is that he was able to ditch me for a night so he could finally have some fun. It's not like I wanted to be trapped in this place. I wondered what he was up to, and it made me feel a bit lonely. "I want to go out, but I'm stuck here until Bryson says otherwise. Which at this rate could be years from now."

"There. You see that? Check it out." Dion said, pointing up to the sky.

"Huh? What am I looking for?"

"Riggghhhht there. You see it? It looks like a star, but it's moving ever so slowly." I tried to follow where his finger was pointing, and after a few minutes of scanning the dazzling night sky, I saw it. A tiny dot of light, slowly making it's way eastward. It was moving so slow that it almost camouflaged itself behind the rest of the stars.

"Wow! I see it! Whoah....what is that? Is that like a UFO or something?"

"Hehehehe no! UFO's aren't real...like us vampires." He smiled. "It's a satellite. On a clear night, you can see 'em sliding around in orbit. It's cool to try to pick them all out. So far my biggest number was 12 in one night."

"That's cool." I said, and then I leaned back to get comfortable, and my thoughts returned to missing Taryn. I knew I was probably being a big baby about the whole thing, but I had never really lived with 'the other half of my soul' before. Now that I have, his absence was felt with great sensitivity. I felt so incomplete. Even more so than before I had the pleasure of having him by my side. It just never felt like I was giving him enough in return for the wonderful gifts he had given me every single day.

I sighed again to myself, not knowing that I was really doing it outloud. I stared back up at the stars and thought about the time when I'd be able to really get back out into the world again. I think I must have subconsciously sighed again, because Dion put his hand over my mouth and said, "If you do that one more time, I'm gonna have Napolean bury you alive." I blushed a little, not knowing how obvious I was being at the time, and tried to cut back on the theatrics. "You're thinking about him, aren't you?p> "I'm sorry. I'll stop. I'm just being weird I guess."

"You're not being weird, you're in love. If you want to talk about it, that's cool. Just PLEASE, if you care for me at all, no more heartbroken sighs. Ok? I can't take anymore."

I giggled a little and sat up. "I just...I feel like I'm wasting away in this place. I want to be out there with the rest of them. Laughing and playing and having fun."

"Don't worry about it dude. You will. Don't push yourself into this life so fast, take your time. There's a lot of stuff you've got to learn. And trust me, some of it WON'T be fun and games."

"I know that's what you guys always say, and I should probably quit being a pest about it. But Bryson won't even give me a chance. I'm ready Dion, I can feel it." And I did. All throughout my body and mind I was quivering in anticipation of learning everything there was to know about this stuff. Not only did I have a whole new set of rules and lessons to learn, but I had to re-experience everything I knew from before with new eyes.

"Like I said, Justin, when your time comes...there won't be any stopping it. You'll know for sure when it's time for you to take the next step. For right now, just relax. Enjoy yourself while things are still easy." Dion said.

"It's not just me. I think I'm holding Taryn back too. I mean...he's been watching over me like my guardian angel ever since I got here. I just love him so much that it's killing me to think he had to stop having fun because I'm such a 'toddler' when it comes to this stuff. It's no wonder he was dying to get away from me tonight."

Dion sat up on his elbows and looked over at me. He had such a look of sympathy on his face, hidden behind a caring smile. He patted me on the shoulder and said, "Taryn's out doing important things right now. Trust me, if he could have stayed here with you tonight, he would have."

"I just hope he never...you know...gets tired of babysitting the new kid. I don't want to be an amateur anymore. I'm one of you guys now, and I want to be a part of the group."

Dion thought silently for a second, and said "Yeah...I know you do Justin. I know how you feel. I went through the same thing when I first crossed over. I felt like less of a person my first few weeks. All I could think about was how I wanted to go outside and reinvent myself from scratch. The more I begged, the longer Bryson made me wait. There was a time when this junkyard was more a prison than a home. It was awful." Out of nowhere, Dion then really surprised me by saying, "...And THAT, my friend.....is exactly why I'm gonna bust you outta here tonight."

"You're gonna WHAT?" I asked. Dion sat all the way up and put on his shoes.

"We're sneaking out of this dump for a little while and having our own little party downtown. That's what."

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I felt this immense energy, this excitement, building in my chest all at once. But I held it back, refusing to let it out until I was positive that Dion meant what he was saying. "Are....are you sure?"


"We're going out?"


"As in OUTSIDE? Like out of HERE?" I asked, covering all my bases.

"Sigh, YES! And if you don't mind, I'd kinda like to leave BEFORE dawn! So will ya knock it off with all the questions and grab a coat or something?"

I jumped up and hopped down from the back of the truck, happy as a kid in a toy factory! I ran to the van and opened the door just enough to reach in and snatch my jacket, hurrying back to make sure Dion hadn't changed his mind. "Are you sure about this dude? I mean Bryson specifically said I couldn't go anywhere."

"No he didn't. He said he didn't want to CATCH you going anywhere. There's a difference. Cause we won't get caught, will we?" He said. I just kind of stood there for a second, still amazed that I was actually going to go out again for the first time in weeks. "AHEM! ARE WE?" He repeated.

"OH!!! No fucking way dude! And I won't say a word, to anybody! I promise!" I blurted out. And at that particular moment, Max came walking by. He had to have heard the whole thing.

"Shit." Dion said to himself. We looked at each other, and Dion knew what he had to do. "Um...hey Max, you know...it would really mean a lot to me...to both of us...if maybe you didn't mention..." But Max stopped him before he could even finish.

"Like I give a shit! Go! Have a ball. Turn over trash cans, play in traffic, go find yourselves some sailors and have a wild orgy for all I care. Just get this boy to stop 'whining' so much." Max said in his 'I guess I don't hate you TOO much' kind of way. He seems to be warming up to me.

And without any further hesitation, we were off. The first few steps I took out of that deserted old junkyard were some of the most liberating that I've ever known. Even just outside the gate, the air smelled fresher, and the sky looked much clearer. The streets might as well have been paved with gold in my eyes, leading me in any number of directions that I wished to go. Dion saw the glow of freedom emanating out of my every pore, because he couldn't help but smile. "What?" I asked.

"Hehehe, nothing. You've just got that look on your face. Like a 5 year old that just met Mickey Mouse." Dion grinned. "Come on, why don't we get out of this dark place and see some LIFE for a change?"

I agreed, and we took a long walk to the downtown area. But this time, there were no secluded spots by the lake, or back alleys, or dark bridges. We just walked up and down the main streets, with other people surrounding us. It had been so long since I had really had contact with anyone outside of my little family in the junkyard that I felt out of place. I looked at them, going about their everyday lives, eyes to the ground, passing me by and never even suspecting that I was more than I appeared to be. Hell, I think I could have been a 200 foot tall Tyranosaurus Rex, and they STILL wouldn't have noticed. I almost felt sorry for them all. I know what Taryn was talking about now that I could see it for myself. They really didn't care. Not at all. There were so many lives around them, and all they cared about was their own. They passed a hundred possible soul mates a day without ever once lifting their eyes to see their faces. They walked by old friends, or people who could've been friends if given a chance. They just didn't care enough to look. I felt like screaming. Like I wanted to call out to them and shout, "You're ALIVE dammit! You've only got so many years in this hell hole, have some FUN for Christ's sake!" All this beauty that they just dismiss as being trivial. I couldn't believe I was ever like that. Just wandering through the masses, never once stopping to smell the roses because I always figured that they'd be there tomorrow. And tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow...until one day, tomorrow never comes. And then when it's too late, they wanna complain about how they wasted their life away. Well LOOK at you all! You're wasting it away by CHOICE! How sick is THAT? It was downright disgusting to think of all the things I'd never have in my life again being squandered away by a bunch of robots who just don't give a damn. It was sickening.

"Are you alright man?" Dion asked, seeing the visible frustration on my face. I was just really taken aback by watching this lifeless herd of cattle scamper aimlessly from point A to point B with no real ambition of any kind.

"Yeah...I'm fine."

"Ahhh...you see it, don't you? The big waste? Yeah...you know, when I first noticed it, I cried myself to sleep. Even though I knew I was going to live forever from then on, I still felt like I had wasted way too much of my life. Even at 15."

So it wasn't just me. Dion had seen it too. As did Taryn. Maybe this wasn't just my opinion, maybe this is really the way it was. For everybody. All those days I spent crying and whining about what I didn't have. All the times I pounded my fist into a pillow screaming I want, I need, I want, I need. It seems silly when I think about it. I need a boyfriend, I need money, I need to be popular, I need good looks, I need this, I need that...and if I don't get it right now, then I just don't want to live anymore. I said it as if I was giving God an ultimatum. Make me happy or else. As pathetic as I was, as difficult, as lonely and afraid, did I really expect anyone to care? Anybody who even tried to care was just knocked down. I told them to leave me alone, that they could never understand, that they were useless in their attempts to make me feel better. Never once did I take comfort in knowing that there was someone who was willing to give a damn at all. But back then, I just couldn't see all that. And now? Now I'm learning to not only 'appreciate' the gifts I've been given, the ones that I hold deep inside, but I'm learning to USE them. To share them with others and have them share theirs with me. Now that I've crossed over, I'm discovering that the only things I ever needed in my life were inside all along. And I never took the chance to enhance those qualities, to bring them out to the ones that really mattered in my life. If only I knew that then, things might have been different.

"Come on Justin, walk with me for a sec. Try not to pay too much attention, it'll drive you mad after a while." Dion led me further up Michigan Ave and we chit chatted about this and that for a while. I never had a friend who I could talk to so freely. Besides Richie that is. Dion just had this vibe about him that let me know he was listening. It felt good to know that someone took an interest in who I was. "Hey Justin, can I ask you a personal question...if you don't mind? You don't have to answer if you don't want to."

"Ok, shoot."

"Why suicide? I mean...Taryn didn't really tell me all that much about it, but I just can't see you as being a guy with nothing to offer. You're cool, intelligent, cute, funny...I would have thought the kids at your school would eat that up."

"Not everyone sees me the same way. They hated me."

"Oh come on...I can't believe that." Dion insisted.

I cringed a little bit, worried about delving into that sick world of suicide again, even in my memories. But he asked, and if I was gonna tell anybody, it might as well be him, and it might as well be now. "It's true. And they never even told me why. So I tried to ignore it, tried to fight it, tred to move around it...but it just followed me wherever I went. I saw everybody else having a good time and wondered why I was denied that luxury. What was I going to do? MAKE them like me? Force them to talk to me? Keep trying again and again and again and face a million defeats to hopefully make one friend out of the whole rotten bunch? It didn't seem worth it. I didn't have what they had."

"What is that supposed to mean?"

"It means they were better than me. They could relate to each other, they could hold conversations, they could be fun at parties and not be so shy or reserved or geeky."

"And you couldn't?" Dion asked.

"They didn't live my life, Dion. They didn't have my problems or my homelife to hold them back. They had it easy. If only you knew how much I just wanted to be someone else. How I wish I had their life, their looks, their money, their friends...if only for a little while."

This topic seemed to disturb Dion a little bit, but a sly smile then broke out on his face and he grabbed me by the hand. "Come over here you dork! I've got something to show you."


"I'm going to teach you one of the first truly inspiring lessons of life by showing you what you've been overlooking for a long time." And he took me to this small park in the middle of the area. What was this all about? He evidently had something to teach me, and if it was going to help me make any sense out of the life I've lived, then I was more than ready for it.