The liquor in that small bottle seemed to get easier and easier to drink with every sip. The sting of it no longer caused me to flinch. The taste of it no longer inspired the urge to spit it out and reject its influence on me. For the first time, I began to see the suggested joy in poisoning myself with alcohol. It was something that I thought I'd never do. the tingly sensation crawled over my entire body, my inhibitions lowering themselves to the point where I couldn't help but smile to myself for no reason at all...I began to let go. Really let go.

My muscles seemed to unravel and relax all at once. My throat opened up and accepted more of the warm liquid being poured into it. I couldn't deny the sudden feeling of delight as a gentle 'dizziness' came over me from my unrestricted drinking, especially when this was such a new experience for me. To be totally honest...I LIKED it! For the first time, it didn't feel like I was 'drowning' anymore. It felt more like a baptism. A rebirth into a new state of awareness that made me feel...'good' for a change. I hated to be a part of the typical drunken teenager stereotype. I had been fighting it off for so long that the very idea of it disgusted me. I never had any intentions of falling into that trap, just to become some fucked up speed bump on the road of life. I let the tv slogans and church sermons tell me that one sip of alcohol was going to not only ruin the rest of my life, but it would cause me to burn in Hell long after my 'life' was over. That's what they told me, and that's what I believed. But, didn't feel all that 'wicked' to me at that moment. I fact, I felt just fine! I was having a good time! There were no demons poking me in the side with a pitchfork telling me to do it. No peers forcing me by pressing the bottle to my lips. I 'chose' to drink. I felt the full power of my freedom of choice....and I decided to take a chance. And the consequences weren't NEARLY as severe as I imagined they would be. If anything, they were pretty much nonexistant at this point. Figments of my imagination. An imagination fueled by brainwashed prophets and fear inducing propaganda. Sanctimonious boozers like Father Mackenzie. Psh! How could I be so misled? I allowed an alcoholic priest, pretending to be perfect and 'blessed' and better than the rest of us, teach me about the dangers and pitfalls of his favorite addiction....and I absorbed it all without question. Without ever asking why. Exactly like Cyrus said. I've taken the word of hypocrites and fanatics, and tuned out that little honest voice in the back of my own mind that was screaming for attention. Trying desperately to claw its way to the surface and show me the light. The light that only Cyrus could bring to my life. After ll these years, he seems to be the only one who's ever attempted to tell me the TRUTH. Without the sugarcoating, without discouragement...without judgement, or discomfort, or lack of detail. He told me a straightforward truth, and provided me my every pleasure without hesittion. What other adult in my life can make the same claim? They'd all rather see me be a fucking child forever....and I'm NOT! Cyrus LISTENS to me! He takes value in what I have to say, and he doesn't try to change or control who I am for his own benefit. Hw could I not want to be a part of his world? How could I not want him to be a part of mine?

I looked up to see Kriegar giving me a crooked smile that got wider as our eyes connected. He was almost snickering at my sudden indulgence in alcohol, and it caused a huge smile to break out on my face as well. I lazily gave him the finger and took another healthy swig out of the bottle. The back of he truck shared a few giggles of approval, and I felt my lips getting slightly numb from the drink. But it was the feeling inside that really got to me. Ohhhh, wow. Hehehe, that giggly feeling of bubbly cheerfulness was rising up under my ribs, making me want to laugh outloud. It was a truly liberating sensation, and it was suddenly so easy to tap into. So easy to achieve a smile that I could really 'feel' in the depths of my soul. It just...freed me up from so much trivial bullshit that I had on my mind before, you know? And that can really be a soothing feeling when you spend so much of your life allowing worry and paranoia and restraint keep you from that genuine smile for such long periods of time. I found something truly special in the midst of all these confusing new sensations. It was this strange level of.....peace. Peace....with myself. It's so hard to explain if you haven't experienced it on your own. It's like...this intoxicated realization that I'm...ok. Seriously ok. And that I didn't have to be anything more than I was at that particular moment. I didn't have to hide anything, I didn't have to be ashamed of anything, I didn't have to improve on anything. With all of my father's lectures and lessons...I never really reached a point where I felt good enough for much more than going through my predictable routine of a life. School, church, homework, household chores...nothing about my life ever inspired me to reach further. But now? Now I had something intriguing to shoot for. Something I was willing to fight to achieve. And the alcohol seemed to make that so blatantly clear to me with every enchanting sip. I could have gone through years of therapy and an entire bookshelf of 'self help' books to get my less than average self esteem back on track...or...I could finish this bottle of drink and let the self esteem come easy. Wow...I can't believe that I just said that.

Something about this magic liquid made me feel more in control the more I drank it. The more that I lost my hand/eye coordination. The more my giggles became more spontaneous than I wanted them to be. My feelings of awkwardness and insecurity melted away, leaving only the carefree sensation of happy tingles and good times behind. Hahahaha! was AWESOME! I could hardly feel my FACE anymore! I kept touching it with my hand, but the nerve endings wouldn't really respond. What the HELL, man? Hehehe, his is SO wrong! But DAMN, did it felt good! The wind was blowing through my hair, I had a really cute, but slightly crazy, gay boy with soft curly blond hair clinging to my side, and I had just beaten up some kid twice my size with no effort at all! I heard myself giggle, and had to physically cover my mouth to stop it. Everyone else took notice and laughed with me, but I still tried to keep my uncontrollable laughter to a minimum. I even held my breath for a second or two. But with one more tilt of the bottle and a couple of hearty gulps, the remaining liquor was gone, and my drinking arm fell limply to my side.

The bottle made a loud 'clink' as it fell to the metal floor of the back of the truck. Kriegar grinned, all of his gleaming white teeth visible for the first time since I first met him at Rainbow's End. "We've got more if you want it, junior!" He told me.

"Hehehe, whatchya got?" I asked, my tongue not working as efficiently to form words as it was before. Geez, this was weird. It was like...being a 'passenger' in my own body. Just looking out of my eyes while some other force took over. And this.....this other 'person'....was so much cooler than I was. He took everything so easy, without doubt, or fear, or....that horrible gut feeling that everything was going to go terribly wrong if I wasn't careful every SECOND of the day! Is this why people drink? Is this what it feels like everytime? If I was my dad or Father Mackenzie....I'd wanna feel this way every day too.

I saw Kriegar move forward, and dig around in the covered milk crate beside me. And he pulled out a random bottle that had the label ripped off, but was filled with a liquid that sparkled like gold. "Here ya go, pretty boy. Have at it." He said, and he tossed me the bottle. I reached out to catch it, but my reflexes were a lot slower than I remembered, and my numb fingers fumbled the bottle until I caught it in my lap. The look of my clumsy little circus act got them to laugh at me, and I giggled as well, taking the little red 'twisty' top off of it and spiking it down on the floor beneath my feet.

It was at this point that John Boy slid down from his position, and came over to sit next to me on the spare tire in the back. He made sure to sit on my left side, seeing as Dexter had a complete monopoly on the right. He didn't hug up to me so much, but I felt my head lean lazily to the side to rest on his shoulder anyway. It made me comfortable to have that extra help with my balance, even sitting down. I took my first sip from the new bottle, and the golden liquid stung my lips and tongue, causing me to wrinkle up my brow and frown my lips up involuntarily. "Ooooh...this one is 'spice-aaaayyyyy'! Hehehehe!"

John Boy gently raised his hand to take the bottle from my lips and put it in my lap. "Easy there, little hobo. Every indulgence has its consequence." He told me with a delicate smile.

Kriegar piped in immediately. "Aw, come on, JB! Let him live a little, don't start mothering him already." Kriegar looked me in the eye. "You've got MAGIC in you, kid. Did you all see what he did back there? No hesitation, no regret. That's exactly what the fuck I'm talking about! That little piece of shit didn't even get a swing in! Wesley tore him down from the bottom up, and he stayed 'pretty' doing it!" He raved. "There just might be a somewhat decent wolf in you yet, boy!"

I smiled back at Kriegar, and took another healthy dose of the drink before John Boy helped me lower the bottle again. "Trust me,'ll lose your liver, both kidneys, and your thyroid, trying to drink as much as Kriegar does on a daily basis. So take it slow, ok? You're still developing. We need you to be strong for us."

"Stay strong? Hehehe, what are you talking about?" I said, closing my eyes for a moment, feeling the wind rush over us.

"Just listen when I tell you to take it easy. Ok?" He asked, and I hesitated for a moment before I nodded in agreement. I was gonna look for the twist cap on the floor of the truck, but as soon as I thought it, Razor saw it sitting next to his foot. He kicked it towards us with his foot...and John Boy easily caught it one handed without looking. He handed it to me, and I almost commented on how cool it was to see him do things like that all the time. But I guess I should be getting used to his amazing feats by now. Or I should at least pretend to be.

I fidgeted a little bit in my set, some more discomfort setting in as a bit of my fever returned. John Boy raised his head and put his hand on my chest. "How are you feeling?"

"Alright, I guess. I don't know. It kinda feels my hands are on fire." I said, feeling the burning and itching on the back of my swollen knuckles.

John Boy, calm as ever, replied, "It's just your healing factor kicking in. The regeneration process is quick, but the amount of body heat it generates can be pretty intense...depending on the injury." He said. "Don't worry, you'll get used to it. Soon, it won't seem any more uncomfortable than a hot flash on a warm summer day."

I wasn't quite sure that what he was saying was really making any sense, but the slight dizziness didn't allow me to concentrate on it too hard. "I suppose I deserve it for pounding that guy, huh?" I said. "You wanna know something weird, dude? I don't even remember why I did it. I mean...I literally can't recall what got me so mad in the first place." John Boy didn't respond. No one did. But he did give me a crooked grin. "Whatever, right? At least now my knuckles will match the bruises on my face from last night, huh?"

I saw my reflection in John Boy's sunglasses, and was surprised when he happily asked me..."What bruises?"

It seemed like such an odd question at first. Like, how could he not know what I was talking about? Granted, he's blind, but he HAD to have heard me getting my ass wailed on at Rainbow's End last night. Sure...I won the fight, but not without taking some rather painful hits myself. However...after just a moment of doubt, I ran my tongue over the surface of my lips and noticed...that they were completely smooth again. I was sure that Quinn had busted it wide open last night. I should be suffering in agony for the rest of the week. was gone. Cured completely. Miraculously void of any trace of damage. My hand reached up, and my eye, once puffy and black, seemed normal as well too. In fact, my whole face was back to normal. My first thought was that the alcohol had just numbed me to the point of not noticing it...but as it turns out, that wasn't the case. I sat up straight and looked back through the window of the truck, catching my reflection in the rearview mirror. My skin....hell, even my HAIR, was neatly tucked back into the exact same way that it looked before last night. It almost looked better. It crossed my mind that I might not have really taken as bad a beating as I thought I had....but it still didn't make any sense. How could I possibly have healed up that quick? How? I mean there wasn't a single scrape or bruise on me anywhere.

"Sit, Wesley. Relax." John Boy said softly. "Those marks were gone before you even came home last night. And the ones you get today will be gone even faster. Just allow nature to run its course and you'll be good as new in no time." My brain attempted to process this, and couldn't come up with a reasonably sane answer. Not yet anyway. The heated fever in my hands got a bit worse, and I shook them a bit, as though the wind from the movement could somehow help to diminish the burn. At this point, John Boy reached for the bottle in my lap, and took a healthy swig of it himself. He made sure to put his other hand far up on the inside of my thigh, his fingertips grazing my covered pouch as he raised the bottle to my lips for me to drink again. Just a little bit. "You'll be getting hungry soon. You should get something to stabilize you until the time comes. It can hit you awfully hard the first few times."

That last sip nearly caused me to sway bck away from the bottle. And a huge intoxicated grin slid from ear to ear on my face. "Actually...'hic'...that sounds like a good idea. I'm actually kinda hungry anyway." I grinned. I tried to wiggle my way up to knock on the back window. "Hey! Hey, Cyrus...dude...! We gotta go get food..."

John Boy gently pulled me back down. "You don't have to get his attention, Wesley. He knows. We'll be stopping once we find someplace...a little more secluded." The wicked grin that he gave me somehow compelled me to mirror the expression with ease. It almost seemed sinister, but something about that gave me a rush, and my senses heightened up all at once. And my appetite increased. Not just for 'food' either.

John Boy was only a year younger than me at thirteen...but he had the innocent and pretty face of a ten year old altar boy, thin rimmed sunglasses and all. "'re really cute, you know that?" I said, feeling the liquor swimming in my system.

"I'm afraid I'll have to take your word on that." He smiled, raising his glasses to show the silver mirrored contacts beneath to remind me.

"Can I kiss you?" Normally, it's not a question that I'd ever have the guts to ask. But that magic liquid took the fear away, if only for a moment.

"I'm surprised you haven't learned by now, Wesley. If you want it, you can have it. Asking the question is merely a delay of desire." He said, his pretty young lips moving slightly closer to me. "Am I right?"

I nodded, and without further hesitation, I closed my eyes...and pressed my lips urgently up against his.

His lips were so soft. So tender. So moist and kissable, despite their boyishly thin appearance. I felt myself stiffen as our tongues touched, and I felt a sigh of breath breeze across my cheek. My body melted from the gentle suction, and my hand reached up to lovingly rub the silken hairs on the back of his neck as we connected. He was so soft, so sweet....out of my very few kissing experiences, John Boy was the best, hands down. He knew how to 'read' me, and deliver with just the right pressure and movement that I needed to make it as mindlowing as possible. For someone who wasn't expecting it, his kiss was surprisingly intimate. Breathtaking even. And when I reached full stiffness, his hand gripped it tightly through my pants, handling it and bending it until the sexual frustration of his touch caused me to whimper at his mercy.

I tilted my head in the other direction, our tongues mingling with more passion now, and I felt my body overflow with tingles as I got more aggressive. I let my hand fall down to grab a handfull of his slim but full and round ass. I could easily cup on of his cheeks in my fingers, with just a little bit spilling over, and with a firm squeeze, John Boy moaned quietly into my mouth. It was as simple as....thought...followed by action. Thought...action. Thought...action. The time between the two was getting shorter and shorter all the time. It was like they were priming me for a world where I could just take whatever I wanted without caring about what the consequences were. I wanted a kiss, I got one. The only question was....what did I want next, and how far was I willing to take it before my 'shame' impulses kicked in?

After drinking as much as I did....I doubted those impulses even existed anymore.

Hehehe, then, only seconds later, I heard a young voice say, "I wanna play too!" And before I could even open my eyes, Dexter 'squiggled' his way up my side, and joined his lips to ours, his tongue forcing his way into a three way kiss between us.

I tried to enjoy the sloppiness of it, but the whole situation just struck me as funny, and I started giggling outloud. Do you know how HARD it is to kiss when you're laughing? "Hehehe, Dex! Jesus!" I managed to get a single sentence out before Dex jumped forward and started mashing his lips against mine, practically pushing John Boy away from me so he could have me all to himself. Shit, so much for that little moment of playful infatuation. John Boy only smiled, moving back to his position and sitting on the edge of the truck while Dex covered me completely as though the kissing game was a 'competition' of some sort. Weirdo! But his kiss felt good. So did him humping his hardness against mine. So I just went along with it, and held him tight against me as we both relieved some tension together for the next ten minutes or so.

I was almost ready to explode by the time I felt the truck slow down and pull off of the main road. It took some effort to disconnect my lips from Dexter's, but once gripping his shoulders and holding him up, I noticed that I was now laying flat on my back in the truck with Dex on top of me. Dex struggled to continue kissing me, but I held him up, and when I turned my head to the side, he licked my cheek. "Hahaha! Dude...quit it! Come on!"

Dexter grinned. "I LIKE you! I like him! He likes me too. I can tell. Can't you tell?"

"Shhhh....come on, Dex. Let him up. He needs to eat." John Boy said, literally pulling Dex up by the collar of his shirt.

"Ok! Ok! But I want him later! JUST me! NONE of you guys, ok???" He said excitedly, still trying desperately to get back down on top of me and kiss some more.

"IF he chooses, Dex. You know the rules."

"Awwww....Sebastian gets to have ALL the fun! It's no fair!" He whined.

The truck put the brakes on, and I sat up to see where we were. It looked like some tiny rib shack, with only two or three parked cars in the dirt covered parking lot on the side of the joint. Everyone kinda got up and hopped over the side of the truck, but Cyrus made sure to wait for me to get up first. I looked back through the window, and saw him smiling at me through the rearview. I guess this is my cue to get out, huh? I stood up, my hardness still throbbing a bit from rolling around so brazenly with my blond cohort and pitching quite a visible tent in the meantime. Scout looked at it with a scoff, but I'm sure it was bigger than anything that HE was packing! The little bastard. Kristin got out next, givng me a kiss on the cheek, I assume to thank me for the parking lot fiasco. And Cyrus came around to put his hands on his shoulders. I'll never get over how good it felt to have him choose me. To just...look upon me with such satisfaction. I don't know how I got to this point in our scattered friendship, but his approval suddenly meant everything to me.

"You hungry yet?" He asked.

"Yeah. I feel like I'm starving."

"Oh, well we can't have THAT, now can we? get anything you want on the menu. My treat." He said, and as he walked me forward into the rib shack, he nodded towards Shank and Razor to bring up the rear behind us.

I was stumbling a little bit, still reeling from the alcohol, and Cyrus put his arm around me to keep me steady while I giggled my way inside. "I'm sorry. Hehehe...I think I...drank a little too much."

"No such thing as too much. Not anymore. Not for you." He told me.

"Hey, at least it made me forget about my..." I stopped walking, and Cyrus wondered why. I looked down at the back of my hands, and saw only a faint redness on my knuckles...where darkened bruises had been just ten minutes ago. My vision was a little blurry, but...I knew they were there. "...Where...where did the bruises go?"

"Everybody's waiting, cowboy. Come on, in we go." Cyrus pushed me forward and we walked over to a table to join the others. They had pushed two tables together, and sat around it, leaving the head of the table open for our leader. As always, Cyrus saved me a seat at his left side, always keeping Sebastian on his right. We had to peel the menus open, the fold out pages stuck together with leftover grease. The smoke in the place was almost overwhelming at first, but you got used to it pretty quickly. Even sitting in a chair, I found myself swaying back and forth slightly. I couldn't really tell if it was warm in that place, or if my fever had kicked in again, but I heated up until I broke out into a sweat. Everything on the menu looked amazing from the little pictures inside, and I got hungrier and hungrier as I read through it. In fact, I felt pretty damn empty inside. Hollowed out. As though I had burned up every last calorie that I had for energy and needed a ton more to fill me back up! "See anything you like, Wesley?" Cyrus asked me.

"Um...yeah. A bunch of stuff. Do you mind if I get some of these ribs with extra barbecue sauce?"

"I said you could have anything you wanted. So order away." The Cyrus leaned over closer to me, "Why don't you get one of those gutbuster double cheeseburgers too? The one with the seasoned curly fries."

" That sounds good, but I can't eat all of that...."

"Well, we'll order it anyway. If you can't finish it....we'll get ourselves a 'doggie bag'." He stared at me, his sinister grin not taking no for an answer. So I agreed, and we got both.

The cook came over to take our order, and everybody got some kind of hefty meat filled platter. Everybody except for Kristin, of course. "Just a chicken salad, please. And three biscuits, easy on the butter."

Kriegar stared at her from across the table. "Why don't you cut that shit out? Huh?"

"Kriegar..." Cyrus put an end to his harrassment before it even got started. The whole atmosphere suddenly seemed so familiar to me. It made me think back to the old diner on the outskirts of town....and what happened there after we left. My memory was kinda foggy about it. I mean, it seemed like it was so long ago, couldn't have been more than a few days. I thought about the way we made all of that noise, and ran their customers off. I thought about how we must have looked to everyone in there, and how we didn't necessarily leave when they old guy asked us to. Then...the rest is a bit of a blur. I remember...Kristin and Kriegar had to stay behind to pay the check. Was that right? There was....this 'noise' coming from inside. Like...this.....'noise'. Now that I think about kinda sounded like....somebody screaming..."Penny for your thoughts, Wesley?" Cyrus asked, his strong voice interrupting my train of thought.

"Huh? Oh, I was just...thinking about...the diner. I mean the other one. Before this one."

The table got quiet for a moment, but everyone seemed to trade a few secret smiles amongst each other without telling me why. Cyrus sat back in his chair and connected his gaze to mine. "What about the diner?"

His stare, even when accompanied with a grin, could be so intimidating. It made me uneasy. I began to wonder if I was crossing the line again. "It's nothing. Forget it."

"No, no, speak your mind, Wesley. You were sitting there, you were thinking about the diner, and.....what?"

I looked around the table, and they seemed eager to hear what I had to say. "Well...I don't really remember what happened, just seemed...strange to me that we were there just before know?"

"Burned down to the ground, killing everyone inside?" Cyrus smiled. He said it with such a playful tone, as though there was no remorse at all in him for those people.

"Um....yeah...." I said quietly. I let my eyes drop down to the greasy plastic table cloth, and didn't speak for a moment. But Cyrus continued to stare at me, and the uncomfortable silence caused me to peek up at him once again.

"So what was your question, Wesley?" He asked.

"No question, I was just...thinking, was..just kinda odd." I mumbled. "I just...wanted to know what happened at the diner, is all."

Cyrus leaned forward to put his elbows on the table. "Tell me...what do you think happened at the diner?" The whole place got dead quiet, and he looked at me as though he were silently daring me to say it. Hell...did I even KNOW what I was about to say? I mean, really, what was I getting at? Was I thinking that this group of teenagers got together and murdered some diner cook and his daughter? Was I gonna accuse them of burning the place to the ground? That's ridiculous. And yet...while the whole idea seemed laughably wasn't as far from 'impossible' as I would normally find comfortable. After waiting a few moments for my answer, Cyrus put his hand on the back of my neck, and rubbed it gently to comfort me. "You just keep thinking about it, little pup. And when you get the right words come ask me anything you want to ask me. Ok?" He grinned.

He patted me on the shoulder and then leaned back in his chair again as the rest of the place seemed to relax. I looked over at Kristin, who traded a grin with Kriegar momentarily, before reaching into her glass of water to pull out a chip of ice and pop it into her mouth. It was like this playful little secret of theirs, and they enjoyed not having me know. Then she looked at me, and gave me a wink. Maybe....the next time Cyrus and I are alone...I'll ask him that question afterall. And I won't let him scare me out of thinking about it.

The wait for our food wasn't that long, really. Maybe twenty minutes at the most. But it was almost as though I couldn't wait for it! My fingers were tapping nervously on the table, and my stomach began to twist itself into knots with hunger. I couldn't even REMEMBER the last time I ate, but it didn't bother me that much until we left that asshole bleeding in the parking lot. Now it was like a wild animal clawing its way out of my stomach, and I was quickly getting irritable. "What's TAKING them so long! Jesus!" I said, which made everybody at the table laugh. They could be such a strange bunch sometimes, but it wasn't the kind of strangeness that made you feel awkward or rejected. It welcomed you. Brought you in under its wing and made you a part of it whether you wanted to be or not. And I guess that meant that I was a weirdo too. So I fit right in.

"Ribs and a double gutbuster with everything, right?" The cook asked as he placed a plate of food down in front of me.

"Hell yeah! Thank you!" I said, and didn't even wait for the plate to hit the table before I grabbed a handful of curly fries and shoved them into my mouth. Oh my GOD was I hungry! I quickly picked up another handful of fries and stuffed them into my mouth right afterwards. Everyone else got their food to, as usual, it was all barely cooked at all, juices still running red on their plates. But I could hardly concentrate on anything other than my own food at the moment, and picked up the giant cheeseburger with both hands. I sank my teeth into it hungrily, and while it looked and smelled delicious it tasted...I don't know...'wrong'. It was kind of like the breakfast that my mom cooked that morning. Like the natural flavor of the meat had been cooked out. It's original taste, tainted with spices. But I didn't let that stop me. I kept opening my mouth as wide as I could to get more of it in with every bite. I don't know what came over me, but it was insatiable. I felt as though I was actually getting hungrier with every bite. In just four giant mouthfulls, the burger was half gone, and I put it down to grab another sloppy handful of fries, dropping some in my lap.

I felt Cyrus pat me on the back, so pleased to see me eating. But I didn't stop. I couldn't! I grabbed the ribs and lifted them off the plate, smearing barbecue sauce all over my lips as I chomped away on the meat. I tore the ribs apart into a smaller piece, and quickly ravaged it like an animal. My teeth ripped the meat from the center, and I chewed on the gristle and fat with a passion, sucking hungrily on the bone when it was all gone. I ate faster, and faster, devouring the ribs without stopping to wipe my hands or face once. When I got to the last rib, I began to gnaw on the bone until it split, and I used my tongue to lick at the marrow inside. I didn't know what was wrong with me....but I needed more. MORE!

I pushed the empty rib plate away from me, and tore into the second half of my burger. I was so focused that I didn't even pay attention to the other people in the restaurant staring at me. Worrying about them would slow me down, and I haven't stopped chewing once since those plates hit the table. I finished the burger, finished the fries, ate the pickle, the lettuce, the parseley on the side of the plate, a wedge of lemon, and started sucking on the tips of my fingers to get every last bit of sauce off of them that I could. Cyrus giggled cheerfully to himself, and I was almost ashamed for the way I was acting. There were crumbs of food and splatters of sauce everywhere, and all I could think about was getting more. Cyrus saw my expression, and said, "That's my growing boy." He took his plate, ad pushed it over to me. It was a steak, and he had barely eaten any of it. I bashfully turned it down at first, not wanting to make a TOTAL pig of myself in front of everybody. But he simply told me, "No, go ahead. If you want get more. You do want more....don't you, Wesley?" He gave me a devilish grin as I looked down at the plate in front of me. My apetite flared up again, and I gave him a quick nod as I reached for a fork and knife.

I thought that I might trying to act like I had some kind of home training, but when the first bite of that bloody rare meat rolled over my tastebuds...I shivered with an almost orgasmic feeling of delight! The taste, the texture, the tasted 'right'! It tasted real! I tried to stick with the fork and knife, but it was taking too long! The twins both looked over at me as I feverishly clinked my silverware together, trying to cut through the meat in a somewhat civilized fashion...but QUICKLY! I needed more! I NEEDED IT!!! Finally, I got fed up, dropped the silverware, and lifted the steak up with my hands, biting into it deeply as the juices ran down my chin. This meat....this glorious God...mmmmm.....MORE! I ate, and I ate, and I ATE! And at some point, what I thought was just a heavy breath, or a quiet moan of satisfaction, actually became a growl. I felt it rumbling in the back of my throat as I engorged myself, and while the first one caught me by surprise, I let the following growls come freely. I couldn't control them. I didn't even want to!

Just as I was gnawing on what was left of Cyrus' steak, Kriegar grinned and tossed me a scrap off of his plate. It landed on my plate, and I smiled back, licking my fingers and starting in on that as well. Then, John Boy blindly threw a piece of HIS meat on my plate too, his aim much better as always. Everyone giggled to themselves, and all offered up a piece of meat to the hungry new guest at their once exclusive table. And then...SMACK! I felt a gravy soaked salisbury steak slap me on the forehead, and looked up to see Dex innocently offering me a piece as well. Hehehe, even with a giant splotch of gravy on my face, I couldn't be mad at him. I just shook my head and started eating the scraps on my plate. Even Kristin through me a small chunk of chicken and a biscuit. I kept stuffing my face, eating so fast and so savagely that I was almost choking. But I seriously couldn't get enough in me fast enough. Cyrus leaned over with a napkin, and gently wiped my forehead and cheeks off, cleaning me up like a toddler in a high chair while I continued to ravish everything in sight. I didn't even look at him until the plate was empty. What the hell had come OVER me???

When everything was gone, I looked at the now empty table, every plate practically licked clean...and tried to make sense out of my apetite. There's no WAY I could have put away that much food before! And even now that I had eaten like an entire HERD of animals in one sitting...I was still just a little bit beyond satisfied. I'm sure I could put away another steak or two if there was any left.

We all sat back, and I laughed a little as I looked at the stains on my shirt. Cyrus sat back proudly, a big brotherly smile on his face, and after a short breather, he addressed the rest of the table. "I do believe that our plans for tonight are gonna have to wait until tomorrow. Our boy here is maturing a bit faster than expected." He said. "John Boy, your thoughts?"

"There's always a certain level of risk in bringing a pup to maturity this close to a new moon. But I think he'll be fine in the long run." John Boy smiled wickedly. "With the right 'guidance', of course, Father."

"Hehehe, alright then, it's settled. Let's bring this little sweetheart into the fold." Cyrus told him.

"A wise choice, as always, Cyrus."

He finally returned his attention to me directly, but was speaking to the rest of the table when he asked, "SO...what do you guys think? Should Wesley stay behind this time and help the check?"

I got a bit nervous, and told him, "Cyrus, I...I told you...I don't have any money on me."

Cyrus' eyes stared into mine for a moment, and a strange level of tension seemed to be pressing down on my shoulders. "Do pay for our food, Wesley?"

"I don't...I don't understand." He kept his grin, but his eyes levelled me as he waited silently for my reply. "Wait...I're kidding right?"

Cyrus leaned back and said, "Sebastian, you stay here with me and Wes. The rest of you meet us outside." He tossed the car keys to Scout, and they all stood up to follow his order. They all left, single file, and I got more nervous than ever as Sebastian and Cyrus both watched my growing discomfort in silence. "Now then...what exactly were you thinking...when you thought back to that diner? Hmmm?" I was scared to answer, scared not to answer. I just sat there...trembling. "Do you understand what I mean....when I say 'pay the check', Wesley?" He grinned.

I looked over at Sebastian, as though his cold eyes could offer me any comfort. "I don't...I don't know." I could feel my heart pounding in my chest as his gaze penetrated me at the table.

Cyrus briefly looked around at the other tables in the room. At the young married couple by the window. At the three college boys near the back. And over in the corner, a small family of four, with two little kids. Girls. No more than six or seven years old. "You know, these people....these families, they just happened to wander in here at random. Hoping to come in, get a quick bite to eat, and then randomly wander out again." He said. "I wonder what they did with the last hour of their lives, don't you?" His stare hardened for an endless moment, and I prayed that his smile wouldn't fade. "What happens...if they wasted it doing nothing...and it turns out that it was the last hour God was willing to give them? Hmm?" They both kept their eye on me, and I was beginning to shake visibly as the fear of something bad happening took hold of me.

"C-C-Cyrus...." I whispered, my bottom lip quivering. "....Dude....whatever you're thinking...."

"What am I thinking, Wesley? Tell me." He asked sternly. "Tell me what you think I'm gonna these poor little 'sheep'." I didn't dare say it. I could barely get the breath to speak. Then, Cyrus and Sebastian suddenly both stood up at the same time, looking down at me. "Come on, kid. Let's go pay that check." I think I felt sick. My body turned cold, and I could barely scoot back from the table as they waited for me to get up. I could hear my heartbeat in my ears, and my knees were weak. I looked over at those little girls in the corner, and my mind was filled with the most horrific images of them being hurt. Of ANY of these people being hurt. I looked into Cyrus' eyes, and he stared right back at me.

Time stopped.

Everything was silent.

Nothing moved.

And just as the tension in me almost caused my muscles to SNAP....

Cyrus reached into his pocket, and laid three 50 dollar bills on the table.

"That should cover it." He said, and him and Sebastian headed to the door.

I nearly fell over once I was able to release the breath that I was holding inside! I had to hold onto the table for balance, and felt my heart nearly collapse from the fear it had just experienced! "Jesus.....oh Jesus....omigod...." I breathed outloud until I was almost dizzy, my hand on my chest.

"Wesley?" Cyrus called from the door. "Are you coming?"

"Yeah, I'm...I just need to...Jesus..." I tried to catch my breath, and Sebastian waited for me to stagger towards the door and back out to the parking lot. These little practical jokes of theirs have GOT to stop!