It was quite possibly the worst pain that I had experienced since my crossover. My stomach had collapsed completely and I could barely breathe at all. My eyes were burning painfully, drying out from the lack of fluids, the friction of my eyelids scratching my pupils almost everytime I blinked. My mouth was dry, as though it were full of sand. My body felt twisted and bruised from the inside, and my heartbeat was slowing down. I could detect it because it hurt everytime it contracted. I was dying, and I could feel it. My blood cells were rapidly becoming extinct, and soon my body would be a dry shell...lifeless and cold. Imagine what this would feel like WITHOUT the help of Tim's pills.
I had been awake for almost a half hour before sunset, silently suffering through my pain, before Taryn woke up beside me. I was shivering, my muscles trembling violently as they tried to escape the agony my hesitation to feed was putting them through. But the physical pain wasn't the worst part of the starvation process.
"How are you feeling honey?" Taryn whispered over my shoulder as he rolled onto his side to greet me with a kiss. But I turned away from him, rolling onto my stomach and clutching tightly onto my pillow. Biting down on it to stop my gums from itching insatiably. He smelled so good. And I don't mean that in a sensual way. I mean that the scent of his remaining blood cells seemed stronger, more potent...more delicious. I could hear his blood flowing through his veins, and I was tempted. Very tempted. Oh God, just to taste him, just a little bit. I wouldn't kill him, I love him too much to kill him. Just enough to satisfy the hunger inside. I could ask him if he'd give me a small supply. Enough to wet my lips. Or...better yet...I could take it. Yes, that's it. I'll take it! Quickly, before he has a chance to stop me. He'll forgive me, he has to. He'll understand. Maybe if I wake up before he does tomorrow, I could rise up over his sleeping body and pierce his jugular quickly, drinking heavily from his essence until my thirst has been quenched. I could do it. I could. I could. And why tomorrow? Why not tonight? Why not right NOW?
The insanity inside me was growing, and the voices in my head laughed at my attempts to ignore it. Suddenly, all of the sick things that I have seen in the world, the wars, the murders, the disease, the hatred, the abuse...suddenly it was all beginning to make sense. It was a moment of clarity in reverse. A completely different vision of reality created from the other side of a sane mind. Suddenly it was everyone else who appeared crazy. Order? Who needs order? We are beings that were born out of chaos...let us thrive. If I were to go out, just run away into the night, and feed off of the first person I saw...who would stop me? Who COULD stop me? I'm invinceable. I'm immortal. I'm superior to the humans in every way. They can give me their best shot, and I can walk it off like it was nothing. I was stronger than them, faster, more agile, with acute senses and the ability to read and interpret their own thoughts as fast, if not faster, than they could. I was a natural disaster, an evolved creature stronger than anything God had ever created. The humans were helpless to stop me. I can take what I want without a single barricade to block me. They've been taking from me all my life, it's payback time!
"Justin? Talk to me...please? Justin? Are you ok?" But Taryn's voice was so faint. The voices inside could scream louder than he could. And it seemed like the loving, sensitive part of me that he came to adore, was wandering around lost in a maze of evil thoughts. Any attempts to come to my senses were being beaten down by my instincts, and I could only concentrate on the 'master plan'. Getting the blood would be so easy. All I had to do was take it. Wherever, whenever, and from WHO ever I wanted to. The only thing that I had to do...was get out of bed. It's my time. MY time! The hunt is on.
"Justin? Shit...BRYSON?!?!" I heard Taryn call out to him as he started to get out of bed, and it brought me back down a little. Or did it? Part of me was trying to return to my reality, but another part was telling me to stop him from calling Bryson. I thought to myself, 'NO...if he calls Bryson, then he'll know something is wrong. Bryson will try to stop me. We can't have that. No no no...we can't have that.' And I sat up immediately, putting my arm on Taryn's shoulder.
"Hey...g'morning, love. Sorry, I was just trying to get a few more minutes of sleep in." I lied.
"Thank goodness. I was starting to thnk it was too late and that the thirst had started in on you. When we go out tonight, I'll make sure that nothing goes wrong, I promise. Ok?" Going out? Tonight? Ahhhh yes...the feast. I looked forward to it. In fact, it was hard to keep from salivating from the mere thought of it.
"Sure pumpkin, whatever you say." He must have known that I was acting a bit strange, even though I tried to contain it a bit. But as I felt another convulsion speed through me, my hunger increased, and I became anxious for my first taste. The pain made me weak, but the insanity kept me strong, and a seductive smile appeared on my face, awaiting the ultimate level of fulfillment. There would be no backing down this time. I would eat tonight...even if I had to kill Taryn to do it.
NO!!! What the hell did I just say? What the fuck am I thinking of??? Kill TARYN??? Shake it off Justin! Shake it off! NOW!!! Oh God...this can't be happening. "What's the matter? Baby, what's wrong?" Taryn asked, and it was then that I realized that my face was covered with tears. How did that happen? Did I just miss something? I looked at the clock...and fifteen minutes had passed! What??? I had just completely lost fifteen whole minutes somehow, in an INSTANT! Taryn was already dressed, and the last thing I remember thinking about...was murdering the boy I loved. I don't remember crying. I don't remember feeling a single tear roll down my cheek. Certainly not while I was 'smiling'. Something else had taken control, something strong enough to completely block out my sanity long enough to prevent me from being aware of what it was doing. Okaaaay....this is really beginning to worry me. There was something else inside of me. A murderous, unfeeling, instinct thats only concern was satisfying its hunger. Whatever it was, it had just spent fifteen minutes alone with my boyfriend. And it had free reign to do whatever it wanted to him...wearing my love as a disguise. Taryn sat down next to me, his arms wrapped around my shoulders and holding me close.
My face was buried in his neck, my arms around his slim waist. I felt a 'change' come over me, an anxious, almost humorous feeling. He was so trusting. So unsuspecting. Mmmmm...with my lips pressed against his neck, I could feel the warmth of his blood speeding past them underneath the soft supple skin. That thin...weak...layer of flesh...was all that stood between me and the freedom from this agonizing pain. I kissed his neck again and again, hugging him tightly against me, and I lewdly dragged my tongue across the warm surface. He seemed so juicy...so sweet. I felt myself get hard at the thought of being so close...soooo very close. I could have bitten him right then and there, but I began to kiss my way up to his ear instead, then his cheeks, then to his lips. Taryn happily allowed me to do it all. So ready to accept my affections. He sighed as our tongues tangled around one another. He was so in love. But I wasn't...not at that moment. This was all merely foreplay before the big event. My orgasm was to come in the form of a huge red ocean, a pool of life that I looked forward to draining dry. Yesssss....kiss me deeper. Rub me harder. Mmmm...enjoy it while you can, my love. You should be honored to die for me. To bleed for me in the most intimate way. Ahhhh....yessssss. Come closer Taryn...I believe I owe you a bite.
A loud knock pounded on the door, scaring the hell out of both of us, and without warning, it flew open! Taryn spun around to see what was going on, and he pulled away from me just as I was ready to feed. It was Max and Rain, they had just barged in. "Alright 'Romeo and Romeo', this is your wake up call!" Max shouted.
"What the hell do you two think you're doing in here?" Taryn yelled.
"Sorry, green eyes. The big man wants to see the both of you outside. Like...now!" Max was dead serious, and he threw me a shirt. This didn't sound good.
"What are you talking about?" Taryn protested.
Rain stepped forward, "The rookie feeds tonight, or he's history."
"And just who the hell are YOU to make a call like that???" Taryn was getting more and more upset, but I knew he wouldn't be able to protect me any longer. I was losing control.
"We're not doing this to be jerks, Taryn. The boy is dangerous. To you, to me, to everybody." Max said.
"BULLSHIT, he's dangerous! He was fine until you two came barging in!"
"Oh really?" Rain pointed me out, and when Taryn turned to look at me, I saw his heart break right in front of my very eyes. A look spread across his face that brought shame and self hate to my very soul. I had been caught. My fangs were down, dripping with saliva, sharp as daggers, ready to strike. My eyes were a deep crimson color, my mind and body had switched over into hunting mode without me even being aware of it. I knew what they were seeing, I could feel it. And Taryn's eyes began to instantly fill with tears. He couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe it. I was about to go through with it! I was going to kill the only person who ever truly loved me. I felt so lost, so unbelievably helpless, and I lowered my eyes to the floor as I began to cry. "Is THIS what you didn't want us to interrupt?" Rain looked back at Taryn, and he didn't utter a single word.
Taryn was speechless. He turned away from me, looking down at his feet in disbelief, and I tried to talk to him. "T-T-Taryn...I'm so sorry. I don't know what I was..."
Taryn interrupted me, and said to the other two, "Let's do it." And he quickly got up from the bed and walked out of the door without looking back. He couldn't even look at me. I couldn't tell if he was hurt, or scared, or if he just wanted to help me get things back to normal, or if he was just hiding the fact that he was crying. I don't know what it was, but it terrified me to think that my control was slipping more and more by the second.
Rain and Max both looked at me siting there, pathetic and broken, and then Max told me, "You've got three minutes. We'll be waiting outside." And they left. Shutting the door behind them. Three minutes. That's all that I had until I met my judges for the final battle between my humanity and my act of savagery. Three minutes to decide whether I could live in this world of darkness all alone. Maybe there was a third option. Maybe I can go out to the pier tonight...and catch one more sunrise. My LAST sunrise. It seems like my original plan of escape was the right path all along. Afterall, death is the only thing that will truly accept me now.
I slowly let the door to the van creak open, hoping that I could make myself as 'unnoticeable' as possible. But as I stepped outside, I saw all of them in a circle, waiting for me to meet my final judgement. There was no turning back now. So I closed the door behind me and walked over to meet them. That was one of the longest walks I had ever taken in my entire life. I stopped a few feet outside of the circle, but they coaxed me to step closer. Taryn was standing right next to Bryson, looking at me with eyes that showed hope, but no comfort. Pain, but no anger. I think he was just as scared as I was at that moment. Everyone was there, all staring at me, knowing well what I was becoming. To say that it was humiliating would be a severe understatement.
Bryson began, "Justin...I want to start out by saying that we are not your enemies. And we can respect, maybe even appreciate, your devotion to human life. Don't be mistaken, we know that to be an admirable quality..." Then, Bryson sighed, and continued, "BUT...I won't lie to you Justin. We can't trust you. Not anymore."
I saw Taryn begin to speak out in my defense, but Bryson stopped him before he uttered a single word. He was our 'father' after all. I suppose in a world of kids, we had to choose somebody. Jenna had tears streaming down her face, and Dylan couldn't even bare to lift his eyes from the ground. Even Dion, as well respected as he was in the group, couldn't help me out of this. "I can change..." I mumbled.
"I'm afraid you're going to have to. Tonight, in fact." Bryson stood up, and walked over to me, placing a hand on each of my shoulders. "Justin, understand that nothing would hurt me more than to cast you out to fend for yourself. But I will do whatever it takes to protect the rest of us from your thirst. You're a danger to all of us. We can't allow this to go any further than it is right now." I began to cry as he lifted his hands to my face. He looked me in the eye and spoke the words softly as he said, "I want you to get through this, Justin. We all do. But we cannot do it for you. The choice HAS to be yours, and yours alone."
Taryn walked up to hug me, and I cried on his shoulder, apologizing until it hurt. "Oh God Taryn...I'm sorry! I'm so so sorry! I love you..." I doubt he could even understand my words as I blurted them out through tears and whines. But he knew my heart, he knew every dimension of it and the emotions it possessed....and it made him hug me even tighter. I felt sick over what I had done, over what I was even thinking of doing. I needed help, and fast.
"Shhhh, it's ok. We'll do this tonight. Just you and me. Together. I love you, Justin. I'll make the pain stop, I SWEAR I will." He whispered, and he kissed me on my forehead. It was then that Bryson used his hands to gently seperate us.
"There is one more thing. Taryn, I know that your love for Justin is real, and your level of forgiveness is infinite. I am also aware of the fact that you would do anything in your power to keep Justin from doing this against his will." Taryn nodded and agreed wholeheartedly. Bryson took a deep breath, and I knew that whatever he was about to say next, wasn't going to be pretty. "And that's why...I'm afraid that I'm going to have to officially ban you from this part of Justin's training."
"WHAT?!?!?!?" Taryn's mouth dropped open and a look of utter horror consumed the both of us. "You can't DO that! I promised him that we would get through this together! Are you CRAZY?!?!"
"Taryn, whether you realize it or not, you are slowing his progress down immensely. Now I realize that you care for each other deeply, and that is fine. But understand, he won't ever eat if he knows that you're continually there to catch him when he falls. It's time to let go and let him..."
"Let him WHAT? Become some kind of ruthless bloodsucking savage like the rest of us? I'm trying to help him LEARN while letting him keep his heart! Have you all forgotten how hard it was for your first times? Dion? Jun? Jenna? I seem to remember a few times even NOW, after all these years, when your conscience got the best of you guys TOO!" Some of the others looked as though they understood, and almost appeared sympathetic. But Taryn's words were in vain.
"Do you want him to STARVE? Is that it? Or maybe you'd be willing to sacrifice your own life to save his. Maybe one of us? The Kid's perhaps?"
"Justin wouldn't DO that, Bryson!"
"NO! No, 'Justin' wouldn't! But the 'thirst' would! And it's not a chance I'm willing to take! This is not a game of chicken where we get to see which side swerves first and hope that nobody gets hurt in the process. He feeds tonight, or he's history! End of story! He has until dawn." They stared each other down, but Taryn knew what the decision had to be. I think Bryson knew he was getting through to him, and gave him a few comforting words. "Taryn...sigh...listen to me, ok? I'm doing this for him too. He has to complete his crossover, nature has to run its course. I won't let anything happen to him. I promise you, he will be fine." Taryn looked over at me with pleading eyes, trying to come up with another solution. But he soon gave in, and was helpless to change the situation. He sat down on a small mound of tires, and nodded defeatedly as a few more tears left his eyes. There was nothing I could say, the decision had been made.
"This is it, Justin. I wish you the best of luck. I'm going to send you out with someone else."
"Who?" I asked.
"I've thought it over...and Trevor will be taking Taryn's place at your side."
Taryn immediately rose to his feet again. "TREVOR??? DAMMIT this isn't FAIR!!!"
Trevor winked at him and said, "Don't worry angel. I'll be sure to have your little boyfriend home by curfew. Promise." Only Dion was able to calm Taryn down enough to keep him from rushing the demonic little brat.
Then Dion spoke up. "Actually Bryson, if you don't mind, I'd be happy to take Justin out tonight. I can help him, guide him..."
"I'm well aware of your training abilities, Dion. But this is Trevor's expertise. I need results and I need them now. I'm sorry." Bryson replied.
Trevor smiled at Dion, "Nice try, ol' buddy, ol' pal. But this is MY project now." And he walked closer to me. I felt my heart sink. Lower and lower until it hit the pit of my stomach and made me sick. I looked up, and saw Trevor still grinning wickedly in my direction. It was like he had planned for this all along. "I'll get my jacket."
As he walked off to get his stuff, I saw Taryn angrily get up and kick a huge dent into the side of one of the cars, grunting out of frustration. The car was rocked from the impact, and tears of rage danced furiously in his eyes. A second later, he stormed off to be alone, too upset to say goobye. After that, Bryson gave everyone a nod, and they started to leave the circle, whispering wishes of good luck to me and telling me that everything will be ok. But somehow those wishes didn't seem to comfort me a whole lot. Then I saw Michael, looking at me from a distance. He didn't seem happy. While everyone else wished me well, he just gave me an unexplainable look. Then he just turned to walk away. There was a vibe that I got from him that just seemed to suddenly warn me to be on my guard. I WAS, afterall...being escorted by his boyfriend.
Dion walked up to give me a warm hug, "I'm sorry dude. I tried."
"Why Trevor? Why him?" I said sadly.
"Bryson wants you to go with Trevor because he thinks the friction between you two will somehow get a reaction out of you. Whether it's positive or negative. My hands are tied."
"I'm so scared Dion. So incredibly scared."
"I know...I know." Dion choked back a sob of his own, trying to appear strong, and said, "Just remember to keep your head. Ok? Never get too deep into your donor, just choose, position yourself, and strike. Don't think, it'll only make things harder."
"I will. I promise." I hugged him tightly one last time before Trevor came to drag us a part. We walked towards the front gate, the others waving and whispering last little tidbits of advice that they had accumulated over the years. I knew they were all rooting for me, but when it came right down to comitting the actual act...their cheers would fade, and only my guilt would remain.
"Chill out Justin, by the time you get home, you'll be left wondering what the big deal was in the first place." Trevor said.
We had gone maybe a half block away from the lot when I heard someone calling my name from behind. I turned to see who it was, and Taryn was running toward us fast. He stopped right in front of us and said, "Here, take this with you." He opened his hand, and there was a small metallic medallion with a string necklace attached.
"What's this?" I asked.
"It's just a little something to help you stay focused tonight." He said, and he put it over my head to rest peacefully around my neck. "If you're having any doubts, or worries, or fears...I want you to look at this...and remember that I love you. Always."
I looked down at it, and while it may not have been something special in the material sense, it was one of the best gifts that I had ever received. "Thank you. I love you too." I said, grasping him tightly around the neck. I couldn't possibly adore him more. I looked into his eyes, and brushed aside his shiny mass of reddish brown locks so that I could see his hypnotic green eyes, and I placed a sweet kiss on his lips to say goodbye. This feeling inside, this magnetic energy, strong enough to draw you to another person so closely...NEVER seemd to be powerful enough to satisfy my longing for his touch. I always needed more. That was the TRUE thirst. One that I enjoyed more and more each night. A thirst for Taryn's inexhaustible supply of love and affection. A hunger for his kiss.
"AHEM! Yeah yeah, very sweet. Very 'Danielle Steele'. I swear, if it weren't for crying and kissing you two wouldn't have anything to do with yourselves. It's sickening." Trevor interrupted. "We've got things to DO, Justin. Let's go!"
We broke our kiss, and said our goodbyes. But before leaving, Taryn turned to Trevor and said quietly, "If you hurt him in any way tonight, if the slightest hair is out of place......I'll kill you." And from the tone of his voice, I knew he wasn't just making an idle threat.
Trevor came back with one of his trademark smirks, but replying just as seriously, "Not if I kill you first." And with that, we walked away, leaving Taryn to watch us vanish around the corner. This was the final test. My last chance to make it all the way through my crossover. I pray that I get it right this time.
I didn't look back, but I could feel the lot vanishing into the distance behind me as I walked. Taryn, Dion, all of them...getting further and further away. My sense of safety, of control, of comfort...vanishing along with them over the dark horizon. Trevor walked quietly by my side, attempting to get me to say something every once in a while. But I refused to speak to him, no matter what he said to me. I couldn't. I knew that he was enjoying the whole idea of taking me away from the boy I loved, I knew he was revelling in my decision to finally give in to the cravings inside me, clawing their way to the surface. And I hated him for it. HATED!!! But he didn't make too much of an effort to break me out of my shell for the first twenty minutes or so, he just let me wallow in my thoughts and fears for a while, perhaps enjoying that just as much. Bryson had certainly done a number on me by making this decision.
"Still spitting daggers at me, aren't you?" Trevor said after a long silence.
"So much anger. You know, if you used that rage for something productive, you wouldn't be in this predicament right now." Disgust stopped me from walking, and he turned to face me. "What? Do you honestly believe that you're the only person on the Earth who gets mad? Who feels down sometimes? Who has difficulty making a decision that he doesn't want to make? Awww, poor baby! I'm so sorry that you had to stop 'breastfeeding' and actually do something for YOURSELF for once! Let me tell you something kid, you're not the first person to have to make this choice. Kill or be killed, dog eat dog, whatever you want to call it. Face it kid, shit happens, and you can either deal with it, let it go, or waste time by whining about it to people who, frankly, don't really give a shit. If you keep thinking of everyone else before yourself, you're going to lose...everytime. Because THEY'RE only thinking of themselves too...and that makes them stronger than you."
"If you don't mind, I'm not in the mood to absorb any philosophies of life and death right now." I said, trying to Trevor out completely.
"Your hunger pains are killing you right now, and you still refuse to hunt. Why? Because of them? Because human life is such a blessing that you won't take one to satisfy your own hunger? Psh! Get a clue dude."
"It isn't right! Don't you get it?"
"It isn't right? Hehehe! Dude, stop fooling yourself. When it comes to your survival, everything is right. What did you think you were doing everytime you ate a cheeseburger, or a chicken sandwich, or didn't recycle a piece of paper, or killed a spider? You sacrificed the life of another just so that you could be more comfortable. So that you could survive. Oh, but that was 'common' murder, right? That happens everyday, so it must be ok. I'm sure at one time some poor guy had to live with the guilt of slaughtering some defenseless, innocent cow to keep from starving. But once you get a franchise and get about 62 billion people served, it becomes easier to slaughter a whole herd of them on a daily basis."
"I can't just murder someone..."
"So don't CALL it murder. Call it something else. We do it every day. We create labels to define how we should react to the same damn situations. The act never changes, but the labels do, and it can either make us a hero, or a villain in the eyes of other people. If you kill a hundred men, you're a menace. If you execute them in a prison for their crimes, it's justice. If you kill them in battle or during a war, it's patriotism. Kill them while in a struggle, it's self-defense. Put a nice little 'sweet sounding' label on the 'grisly, unforgivable sin' of murder...and you can change your feelings about it altogether, can't you? They can make it all seem ok, even beautiful in some cases. As long as society dictates right from wrong, you get to put blinders on and relieve yourself of all guilt. You get to say it's not your fault, or that it's not so bad. Because it was for the 'good' of the world. Right?"
"That's COMPLETELY different!" I screamed.
"Ahhh......but is it? That's the big question. Think about it." And with that, he smiled and continued walking forward. I was already angry about the simple fact that I had to be out here with him in the first place. And now he's going to attack my morality too? SCREW him! How DARE he suggest that...well...that...ARRGH! Whatever he was doing...it was pissing me off. I was going to stand there in the middle of the street, but he knew I was going to eventually follow. He never even looked back to see if I was coming. He just kept walking forward, and after pouting it out for a few seconds, I reluctantly ran to catch up. I really hated this.
Trevor's methods were going to be much more difficult than Taryn's, I could tell that from the moment he started talking to me. He didn't listen to half of my protests, and the other half were easily shot down by him twisting my old life around in one way or the other. Telling me continuously that I had already committed the act a million times before, I simply justified it by calling it 'reality'. By following the example that was set by the majority of the people around me, no matter how cruel or how destructive it might have been. All bullshit aside, I must admit...he had seen some things in everyday society that I never realized or even questioned before. The little blond punk had an answer for everything, and after a good half hour of arguing with him, I began to wonder if I hated him for being wrong...or for being right. Yes, his methods were very different indeed. Unlike Taryn, he was going to get me to kill tonight whether I liked it or not. The only question now was...could I do it? And when? When?
How would I be able to abandon my humanity long enough to murder someone in cold blood? And what would I think of myself afterwards? Who would I become? I doubt I could even pretend to be the same person that I used to be after actually 'killing' somebody. After...draining them of their life essence and leaving their corpse in some dark alley. Whether they were a sinner or a saint, they had family, friends, jobs, a whole history behind them. How could I bring myself to just...snatch it away from them? The thoughts swirled around and around in my head until Trevor stopped me in the middle of the block. "Will you stop already? So many thoughts, Justin. Jesus dude, you're making me dizzy."
"You're thinking too much. Overanalyzing everything. Trust your instincts for a change." He said.
"You...you can read what I'm thinking?"
"Heh...No, not really." He smiled and moved closer. "You see, I wasn't blessed with the rare talent to read minds like some of the other vampires. Unfortunately, from what I hear, that ability is as rare as winning the lottery. But...my extra can be just as strong. See...I can read the 'desires' of the people around me. Their wants. Their needs. Their fears. Those little emotions that they hide behind a mask of normality. It may be extremely vague most of the time and incredibly unspecific, but once you hone the skill to a tee, like I have...it becomes one hell of an asset." Trevor put his hand up, pointing to his temple, and said, "Some of the 'gifted' vampires can read the thoughts that you hide from other people. Me?....I can read the thoughts that you hide from yourself. And I find that so much more appealing." Trevor's grin never had an innocent flair to it. It was always filled with ulterior motives and hidden agendas. The kind of smile Satan himself would have if ever manifested into the flesh. Nothing frightened me more than not knowing what was on his mind, and I could tell he took pleasure in that. As soon as we get back to the lot, and I have a chance to relax...I might just tap into his mind and see just what dear old Trevor has to hide. It might make for an interesting journey. But for right now, he's too focused on me to let me sneak a peek without him finding out.
"Where are we going? I thought for sure that you'd be taking me to the part of town where the 'people who deserve it' would be." I asked after turning a few strange corners.
"I am, believe me. I wanted to wait until we got there, but....I have a surprise for you. Something I think you'll enjoy." He said.
The very thought of him planning a surprise for me terrified me. I looked at him sideways, but he just kept walking. Leading me into the unknown darkness of the city at night. Leading me to my 'surprise'. I took a deep breath and followed him, but my nerves were beginning to really tighten up and go haywire at that point. What was going on, where were we going, what did he have planned? The more I asked him to fill me in, the wider his smile got. And he just kept telling me that I'd find out when I got there. My heart began to beat faster, and my pulse was so strong that I could feel it all over my body. I could HEAR it, rushing past my eardrums with every beat. I was literally shaking, and my legs were weak. Everytime I thought we were there, Trevor would turn yet another corner. Everytime I asked him how much further we had to go, he'd say, "Just a little bit more." or "Just around this corner." to distract me. But the walking never seemed to end, and there was always another long dark alley to walk through, or another empty street to cross. I couldn't take much more of this anticipation.
Suddenly, a razor sharp pain shot out from my heart, around to my back, up my spine, and traveled throughout my entire body! I couldn't even scream from the agony. It had taken control of me so quickly that I had no way to prepare myself for the intense blast of agonizing pain. It was the most intense electric shock that I had ever experienced in my life. It felt like needles stabbing me all over! In my head, my arms and legs, behind my eyes, my neck...a wave of unavoidable, torturous pain! It was like having a thousand knives dragging across my skin from head to toe. My stomach collapsed in on itself much worse than before, and cramped up so tightly that it caused me to double over immediately. I fell to my knees, and then rolled over onto my side. It hurt so much...soooo much. I was dying...and fast. Trevor held out a hand and offered to help me to my feet. But I couldn't move. The misery inside was the only thing that I could even comprehend at that moment. I was going to die, I was sure of it. I wasn't going to be able to move from that spot....not ever again. I'm sorry Taryn. Oh God, I'm so sorry.
Trevor softly ran his fingers through my hair, and his thumb across my cheek. "You're getting worse." I couldn't even respond. The pain was intensifying, getting stronger and stronger until I almost passed out. It was like I had been starving for months, and then had suddenly swallowed a heavy brick, my weakened stomach trying to digest it from all sides. Looking deep into my eyes, Trevor whispered, "You're having an attack right now, and I know that it's pretty severe. But it only lasts a few minutes, and then you'll be able to walk again. Ok? Stay with me, Justin. Ride it out...you'll be fine." Trevor's soft whispering was the only thing that was keeping me conscious. For a moment, it was almost as if he cared. Actually CARED...about me. I was confused about the whole notion, that maybe a great deal of his 'bad by' image was an act. But it was hard to tell which side of him was real, and which one was a temporary cloak that he put on to get the desired result. But my mind was snatched away from my thoughts. And just as I was convinced the pain couldn't get any worse...it DID! For a brief second. Then it began to slowly but surely, fade away. My stomach unfolded itself, my lungs began to take in air again, and my body started to relax. My legs began to loosen up from being curled up under my chest. My fingers were clenched so tightly into a fist, that my nails had punctured the skin on the palms of both hands. They too, finally felt a release. I was breathing hard, sweating, and the attack had left my whole body sore. I never thought that I could ever feel so much pain at once. Trevor sat me up, and I began to cry almost hysterically at the thought of being so helpless. He was constantly trying to help me to my feet, but I wouldn't let him. I just wanted to lay there, afraid to move. "Justin...Justin, come on. On your feet. Come on. You won't be able to survive too many more of those. The next one will be worse if we don't get you fed."
That alone, was enough to get my undivided attention. "WORSE??? No!!! No!!! Please! Please help me! I can't stand another one! Please...Trevor....help me." I cried, the tears running down my face, my fever almost causing them to evaporate from the contact with my skin. I begged him, weeping like a child into his shoulder.
"I WILL help you. But I can't do that from here. You have to get up, and you have to follow me."
"I can't...I can't move..."
"Yes you CAN! Come on! Up! Let's go! We don't have far to go!" It hurt to move, but I was able to struggle to my feet anyway with his help. And we continued walking, a little bit faster now.
Another 15 minutes had passed, and whatever healing properties that my body had possessed since my crossover, they were bringing me back to normal. But even though the pain was gone, I was terrified of its inevitable return. I was now more nervous than ever, and every time I felt my stomach rumble, even a little bit, I almost cried. Bracing myself for another, much worse, attack. The rumbling kept fading away, but the continuous 'false alarms' were driving me mad. I could only pray that Trevor had plans for me. Because, at this point, I would do anything to stop the pains inside. Anything. Even...even murder Trevor. A thought, I just realized, that I have been having since we left the lot. The madness was returning...coming back to take control. I looked down at the necklace Taryn had given me, and whether he could sense it or not, that little trinkett might have been the only thing that saved his life.
"Where are we going? Just TELL me already!" I said. I had to keep myself talking. Had to make sure that I was still...ME. Another blackout, and I might do something that I regret.
"Don't worry, we're almost there. Then you'll see. Like I said...it's a surprise." I followed Trevor to an old park not far from where I used to live. I could distinctly remember the nights when I would cut through that same park, on my way out to the Pier. Thinking desperate thoughts of suicide. I saw the same tree that used to haunt me as I walked around it. I saw the fence at the bottom of the hill, that I use to throw my leg over as I took one last look at the park behind me. The chilling details all came rushing back at me, and I could feel every emotion all over again. Always wondering if that particular night would be the last time I ever got to see these little details again. Always wondering if I would have the guts to go through with it. I guess it was about 11:30, and a light fog was floating close to the ground. A gentle mist that illuminated itself with a neon grey color in the cool night air. I could feel the crispness of the blades of grass as they were crushed under my feet. The sights, the sounds, the darkness...it made me think of home...not more than six or seven blocks away from this very spot. I thought of my mother. Was she there? Was she even alive? Drunk? Maybe I solved her problems by disappearing. Or maybe...I made them worse. I know I said I would never be able to see her again, never go back to my old life or make any kind of contact. Not with her, certainly not with Richie. But at that moment...I wondered...I wondered if I could maybe...just for a quick second...
"We're here!" Trevor said loudly, breaking my concentration. Seemingly on purpose.
"Where? The park? THIS is your surprise?" I asked.
"Partially. Come on, let's sit down for a few minutes." He smiled. There was a small 'fort' in the center of the park, and Trevor guided me to sit at the top of it. To wait...to wait. "Peaceful, isn't it?"
"I've seen it before." I said.
"Not like this, I'll bet. Only through the eyes of a suicidal teenger, haunted by the skeletons in his closet." Trevor grinned at me, but I flashed him a dirty look. "Loosen up, will ya? I read your vibes at the club that first night we all went out. It's not like you could have hidden it from me."
"It's not something I really want to think about right now." I looked away from Trevor, almost ashamed at the fact that he knew. That anybody knew.
"You misunderstand me, Justin. I understand. Life is shitty, I know that. Mine wasn't any better. I went from being one of the most popular kids in school, to a 'fag' practically overnight. I made a mistake, made a pass at the wrong guy...and the next thing I knew, I was getting the shit kicked out of me. Daily. I changed schools time and time again, but things were always the same. I got to the point where I didn't see the need to hide it anymore. They didn't care about me. Hell, half of them didn't even KNOW me, and yet they could find a reason, a stupid, meaningless reason, to hate me. So I hated them right back."
"I'm...I'm sorry to hear that." I mumbled. I suppose a piece of me understood. Somehow, I couldn't imagine a time in Trevor's life where he couldn't fend for himself. It was impossible to think of him as anything but confident, cocky, self sufficient. I guess we all had our hard times.
"Don't be. A lot of those kids met up with some...'unfortunate accidents' shortly after my crossover."
"Your life wasn't perfect, Justin. And if mine was, I wouldn't be here. The point is, you got passed it. The pain, the misery, the confusion...it's done, finished, overwith. And you're still standing. Standing strong and tall. And with every sick little needle prick that society stabs into you...you just keep getting stronger and stronger. Until all of the sudden, the needle breaks. And their only weapons become useless against you. Once you realize that, the guilt, the shame, the rage, the power that they have over you...is gone." He leaned forward a bit to make sure that I was looking him right in the eye. "So look around you. See what you didn't see before. See what beautiful details they kept from you by making you feel like you didn't deserve them. Everytime you go back to a certain place, you're a different person. You see things that you never noticed before. You can enjoy it from a whole new angle now." I almost wanted to do it. I almost felt somewhat 'touched' by the sentiment. But since it was Trevor, my stuborness won me over, and I refused to look. He could sense it. "Sigh...alright. Fine, whatever. Hehehe!" He giggled, amused at the sight of me still pouting like a little kid over this situation. Then, there was a silence, and when I was sure he wasn't watching...I took a small peek at the park around me. I don't know if it was true, or if Trevor's ramblings had just gotten to me, but it DID look different somehow. A little...brighter. The tree on top of the hill wasn't as 'haunting' as I remembered it. In fact, it seemed smaller, less intimidating than it was all those miserable nights. It was something to actually behold, not just a reminder of the last nights of my life. I didn't want to admit it, and it's not like it was that big of a difference anyway, but once again he had a point.
"Caught ya." He grinned, seeing me look around and appreciate the environment. "Hehehe...don't be a bitch about it. LOOK! That's what you're here for. Enjoy the little things for a change. Quit fighting it and quit fighting me. You know you like it, so just...live." The look in his eyes was bringing a small smirk out of me. Much to my own surprise.
"Did you just call me a bitch?" I asked.
"Would you prefer sissy?" He said. And I couldn't help but laugh a little bit. Even though I tried to hold it back. "See? It feels GOOD, doesn't it? Actually allowing yourself to be happy once in a while. Everybody's such a 'drama queen' these days. Take a few minutes and just be happy you have a PULSE, for crying outloud." I laughed even more. And he was right, it did feel good.
"Alright, alright, I get it. Geez! Don't rub it in or anything." I giggled. We both were smiling happily, and that's when my eyes met his, and his look changed somehow. To something softer, and yet more intense. To be honest, the sudden change made me nervous, and I felt my smile fade away as he moved closer.
"You're beautiful, you know that? Taryn is lucky to have you." He whispered. It looked sincere. But I knew him better than that, and I had no intentions for playing any of his little mind games.
I gently wrapped my fingers around the medallion and replied, "Yes...he is." I said, and I scooted a bit away from him, putting a bit more distance between us. But my actions didn't phase him, he just gently lifted his soft blond hair back with his hand and grinned. I don't know what it was about him, but it constantly kept me on edge. Even when he was supposedly being 'nice'. It was like he could see things in me that I didn't want him to see. Like he could uncover every secret I ever had, effortlessly, and use it to tear me down from the inside. He knew what buttons to push, what to say, how to say it. He could charm me into trusting him if he tried hard enough, and he knew it. The fact that he had that power over me is an uneasy feeling. Especially since I had already learned not to trust him.
After another short silence, Trevor looked at his watch and said, "Ahhh, here we go. Your surprise will be here any minute, hot stuff."
"You don't think I just brought you out here to sit in the park, do you? Nah...I've got a much nicer surprise for you than that." He smiled at me wickedly, his hazel eyes bright with mischief. And before I could say another word, I heard a noise coming from around the corner. Footsteps. Probably somebody cutting through the park late at night as a shortcut to get home. I looked over, and Trevor took the opportunity to run his fingers through my hair, smiling. I wasn't sure what he was trying to do to me, but my defenses went up immediately. I pushed his hand away and told him to knock it off, but he quieted me. "Shhhh...do you want your surprise, or don't you?" He asked.
"What the hell are you talking about? What surprise?"
He pointed forward, "...Him."
I looked at the boy walking through the park, and he was stumbling a bit. Probably drunk, or at least severely buzzed, and wrinkled my forehead. Is this supposed to be a joke? "He's drunk, so what? Why should I care?"
"What, am I supposed to run up and bite some total stranger now? Is that it? Huh? That's what you want, isn't it? Thanks, but that's not really a surprise, you know."
Trevor physically used his hands to turn my head in the boy's direction. "Look.....again."
I gazed closely at the boy in question and sighed frustratingly to myself as he came closer. It was dark, foggy, and I couldn't really make him out at first, but as he stumbled forward a bit more...his features began to fill out. His face came into the light, began to take shape. His clothes became visible, and a familiar jacket with our school logo on it crossed my sight. I looked at the boy's face from the shadows, and I could feel Trevor smiling without even looking at him. A vicious smile that spread from ear to ear. He knew what I was seeing, and once my eyes fixed themselves on my chosen target...I felt a warm rush of disbelief wash over me. Disbelief, then confusion...then hatred. I knew that face anywhere.
"Not so tough NOW...are you punk!" The memory of his words echoed in the back of my mind and returned full force the second I saw his face. I remembered it all in vivid detail....the spitballs in class, the car, him and his friends, kicking me in the ribs, punching me in the face, spitting on me before he walked away. They beat me like a fucking DOG in the street! In front of my own house! He had tortured me, teased me, and then got a bunch of his friends to gather around and kick me while I turtled up and took it! He was a bully, a coward, a fucking pathetic piece of shit that didn't deserve to live as far as I was concerned! It was HIM! God help me...it was HIM!