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Chapter 5: Searching For A Connection

Even in shades of darkness, Alex was beautiful beyond words. Soft shadows only working to further enhance the gentle features of his face. I was so infatuated with every detail. It was hard to think of him as being real. Hard to believe that he was willing to smile at me the way he does. Seriously, like...what is going on here?

It wasn't so much my wanting to kiss him, but the fact that I had to use every last ounce of will power I owned NOT to kiss him that gave me the biggest thrill. I had so little experience with the act of kissing itself, but I had dreamed about enough times to know that I'd figure it out without any hiccups once I got started. But WHEN? WHEN???

"So, you guys wanna go do sumthin'?" Preston asked, instantly breaking me free from my love starved trance before I did something irrational right in front of him.

"Oh. Ummm...I don't know. I'm so used to having to find something to do outside of school that I never really considered having fun while I was here." I said, still gazing into Alex's dreamy, light green, specs. Don't kiss him, don't kiss him, don't kiss him...

"I'm sure we could find some way to have fun in this place." Alex smiled, his voice laced with a hazy sensual tone that nearly caused me to dip at the knees. "Maybe we should look around some more? Check stuff out. See what we can find." Alex made sure to let me know that he was talking to me directly. My inches started to harden faster than I could get control of them. Hehehe, my heart pumping enough blood to my brain? I'm feeling really dizzy here!

Preston, forever cheerful, said, "Well, I'm not from around here! I'm sure everything will be new to me!"

"Uh huh..." I mumbled.

"Yeah..." Alex giggled.

I don't think Preston understood, but he kept chit chatting anyway. "I came all the way from Valley Oaks. It's a private school. was a private school. Not anymore, I guess. Do you guys have a gym? Can we play ball or something? Or do you have a swimming pool? Valley Oaks had an awesome swimming pool!" We were a bit too enchanted with one another to answer him at first, but he just kept going. "So this is public high school? Wow! Like real public school. Do you guys get into fights, and have alcohol parties, and see girls who got pregnant, and stuff?"

Alex's cute little forehead furled up a bit, and he had to laugh a bit at what he was hearing. "Hehehe, what?"

"Oh, well...I know. Public school? I was home schooled before, so I just kinda have to go by what I see on TV." He said. There was a moment where he looked as though he felt a bit embarrassed by his assumption, but Alex didn't let the feeling linger for him.

"No drugs or gun shots around here, dude. At least not at MY school. You'd have to ask Jake here, seeing as he's the expert on this place."

Preston turned to look at me, and I said, "Nothing more serious to report than a few detentions and a couple of kids falling asleep in class, Preston. Sorry to ruin the fantasy."

He grinned, and he said, "Awww, it's ok, Jake. I'm glad it's fun here."

"Yeah. Lots of fun." I sighed. Alex and I kept making brief moments of eye contact, playing this flirtatious game of chicken as we both secretly wished for a little privacy. Don't get me wrong, I liked Preston! If nothing else, it was kind of fun having him around for shits and giggles in the compound. But...for right now, I would love nothing more than to spend some quiet time with my blond sensation and exhaust every method at my disposal to get him to let me shove my tongue down his throat as far as it'll go and vice versa.

Alex seemed a little bit nervous, but...his naughty little smirk was broadcasting his desire to work through it. The sad thing is, this is the farthest that I've ever gotten with another boy before. Everything from here on out is new territory for me. Scary territory. I didn't know whether to play it cool, giggle like a little kid on a sugar rush, or run away in terror before I screwed it all up forever. All I knew was that I was mesmerized by the beauty of his gaze, and I was SO ready for more! SO SO SO SO SOOOOOOO ready! Hehehe!

"I know!" Preston yipped suddenly. "Let's go up and watch them shoot zombies from the third floor! We can bet on who gets splattered next! Like....DOOSH!!!"

Not wanting to be mean, I said, "Maybe a bit later, Prez."

Alex's eyes met mine again. Just for a lingering second or two. And I giggled before I could stop myself. Oh man, this is making me woozy!

"M'kay! We can find something else to do if you want!" He said.

At this point, Alex asked, "Say, Preston...I think me and Jake are gonna walk around for a little bit. If you don't mind."

"Nah, I don't mind." Preston said, quickly following it up with, "Can I come too?"

Alex and I held our eye contact for a split second longer than before, and it was a clear signal that 'things were going to happen' between us the moment we found a place to be alone. So I breathlessly said, "I don't know if you want to come along, Preston. It'll be boring."

"Not as boring as walking around by myself until curfew, I'll bet." He smiled.

Alex and I started walking toward the doorway with Preston practically nipping at our heels. Alex asked him, "Say, aren't you hungry? Maybe you wanna raid the vending machines down by the cafeteria somewhere."

Preston was quick to sling his backpack around and start digging in it with his head down. "No need, you guys! I've got some good stuff right here! You want some?" He went rummaging through that thing like a hyper raccoon while I sighed from the slight frustration of not getting him to take the hint. "Here we go! You guys are free to have some! There's NEVER a time when it's not a good idea to keep free CANDY on you!"

He was following us down the hall, step for step, and all I wanted was to mash my lips up against this beautiful boy while the affections were still running wild for the both of us. That's when Alex gave me a really subtle wink, and he said, "Actually, you know what, Prez? I almost forgot, the on-site nurses wanted to give us a few safety vaccine shots tonight before curfew. Which sucks,but we've gotta do it. Rules, you know?" Then he gave me a subtle look to tell me to back him up on this. "I mean, I don't like needles any more than you do...but we don't want to start having a good time and then have them come looking for us, right?"

I chimed in with, "Yeah. Not in the middle of our fun."

Already, Preston's knees started shaking. Alex said, "Hey! Why don't you just come with us to the infirmary for a few minutes and wait for us to get our shots, and then we can all roll out together? Sound like a deal?"

I said, "That'd be cool, Prez! I mean, you've already had your shots for the day, right? I'm sure they won't give you any more. At least, I don't think they would. Not unless they thought you were a threat to in house security or something."

I heard Alex hold back a few snickers, causing me to hold back a few of my own. Preston's eyes opened wide, and he meekly responded with, " know what? You guys can go do....'that', and then you can come find me later, ok? I don't need to go walking by that place. Not me. They don't like me very much over there."

"What?" I grinned. "C'mon! It'll be fun. They're not gonna do nothin'."

"Tell that to my sore booty!" He said. "Unh unh! I'm not gonna let them make a pincushion out of me! I'll catch up with you guys after." He said, and my heart began to flutter with excitement as I realized that Alex and I were just moments away from being alone together. Just MOMENTS! " thing though?"

"What's up?"

"Can you show me back to the sleep section? I've been wandering around so long that I kinda forgot where I started from." Preston asked, a little pout on his lips.

Alex chuckled and rubbed Preston on the top of his head. "No worries, dude. We'll get ya back to where you need to be." Our eyes met again, and we all left together. Is this it? Do we just drop Preston off somewhere and then come back to kiss? Omigod...I'm shaking. The sides of my cheeks hurt from the utter joy that I was feeling at that moment. I was afraid that if I started smiling that I'd begin laughing maniacally and never stop. Let's go! C'mon! Walk faster!

Finally taking Preston back to our makeshift barracks, there was a moment where he almost seemed like he didn't want to part ways with us. We stood in the hallway through an awkward pause, Preston rocking back and forth on his heels as though he was going to have to say goodbye to us forever. "You guys really don't need to get any shots, do ya?" He asked. "That's no fun."

I told him, "Yep. Right over there. You sure you don't need some for yourself? We could ask them..."

"NO!" He whined. "Will you guys come get me after?"

"Of course we will. We'll come find you." I said. He almost looked like he didn't believe me. "Promise, ok?"

"Hmmm...m'kay then." He stood there watching us, a suspicious gleam in his eye. I think he honestly thought we were trying to ditch him for good. That wasn't my intention just....AHHHHH, I'm gonna make out with a boy for the first time ever, and I need him to find something to do for about an hour or something!

Oh hour of kissing. Can people kiss for an hour? I'd love to find out.

Preston took a few steps away, but seemed to be watching to see if we actually went into the doctors' set up to do what we said we were going to do. So Alex and I said good bye and headed to the door while Preston actually stood there to watch. Hehehe, he really wanted to make sure we didn't try to run off and have fun without him.

We went inside and stood just inside the door. We'd have to wait a minute or two for him to be convinced and walk away before we could go back to our private little spot in the darkness. So close. So very very close!

The doctors and nurses were too busy to really pay us much attention. Everybody had to get checked out multiple times before being fully admitted, and then they came back multiple times for further monitoring. You certainly couldn't blame them for being thorough. I don't think anyone even has any idea what really happened to the world or why just yet. Where it started, when it started, or why. Until they figure out some kind of origin for the outbreak...all of humanity is basically a cluster of lab rats, being poked and prodded for answers that we may never find.

Alex was taking small peeks out of the tiny slit of a window in the door to see if Preston was still trying to wait us out, but I was distracted by the mellow chaos going on around us. The whole place was ice cold and reeked of rubbing alcohol and stale rubber gloves. Quiet conversations between doctors and patients, barely above a whisper, grilling them for every detail of their healthy and unhealthy moments. I can't believe that life like this is actually starting to look normal to me.

Then, somewhere in all this scampering movement, it was an object of stillness that caught my attention. A boy with short hair, sitting on a table with no shirt on, staring off into nothingness. Face, void of emotion. I recognized him as the boy that was kept outside the other day. The one holding the rifle in the rain. The same soldier was standing at his side. He was so silent. So...absent. And I mean absent in every possible way. He didn't even flinch when they gave him a shot in the arm for infection. Or when they pressed the freezing cold stethoscope to his bare chest. He just sat there. Almost as if he was asleep.

"How long has he been like this?" The doctor asked him.

"I don't know. Poor kid hasn't spoken a single word since we picked him up. It took forever just to get his weapon away from him without having him freak out about it."

"Well, do you have a name?"

"No name, no age, nothing. I don't even think it was his basement that we found him in."

The doctor shined a light in the boy's eyes to see if his pupils would be responsive. "He seems to be perfectly healthy from what I've seen so far, but we won't know for sure until some of the other tests come back. I don't want to give him anything that he might be allergic to or that might agitate any pre-existing health issues that we don't know about. Do you think there might be another way to get him to talk to us?"

The boy barely blinked the whole time they were talking about him. The soldier, Cooper, said, "He had a cell phone on him, but the battery is long dead. If I could recharge it and find a way to unlock it, we might be able to get a few more details on who he is. Until then, he's the only one who can decide if he wants to lift the cone of silence or not."

The doctor turned off his little flashlight and stood up straight. "Well, we'll keep him here for observation for tonight. These things take time, depending on what he witnessed out there. We've got a child psychologist somewhere in here, she might be able to help out." The doctor then asked, "You said you just picked him up a few towns over? Do you think he might have attended one of the middle schools around here?"

"I don't know about here, but he couldn't have been too far outside of this school district." Cooper answered.

"Ok, well we'll let him get some sleep. Get enough nutrients in him to keep his strength up. Then...maybe you can walk him around the complex to see if anybody recognizes him. Or if he recognizes anybody else. It might help him to deal with the trauma, seeing a few familiar faces safe and sound."

"Sure thing, Doc. Take care of him, ok? I'm going to see if I can get something out of this phone..." But the second Cooper took a few steps away from the silent boy, he jumped up in a panic and practically lunged towards Cooper to wrap his arms around his waist, clutching him so tight that the soldier couldn't figure out how to pry him off without hurting him. "Hey hey...hold on there, kiddo. What's the matter, huh? What's going on?" The boy still didn't speak. He just tightened his grip even more, closed his eyes, and let a single tear roll down his cheek as he refused to let Cooper go. "It's alright, partner. I'm not gonna leave you. I'm just going over to the wall to charge up your phone so you can keep it with you. Ok? Is that alright?" Naturally, the boy didn't answer, but after a few more soothing words from Cooper, he loosened his breathless death grip on his waist, and looked up into the soldier's eyes. "I'm not going very far. I'm not going to leave you here all alone. You've got my word on that. We just need you to get stabilized so we can figure out what we're doing. Alright?" The boy blinked, his expression one of helplessness. "Do you want to talk to me? Is there something you need to say?" No answer. "It's alright, kid. Let's just get you back up on this table so the doc can check you out. I'm not going anywhere. I'll be right here where you can see me the whole time. I need you to chill. K?" The boy seemed to listen to him, and soon slid his way back up on the table for the doctor to continue his tests on him. Cooper backed away slowly, with the boy giving him the same suspicious look that Preston used to chase us in here in the first place.

Then...I saw Alex abruptly back away from the infirmary door and lightly push me back as a few more people can bursting in through the door at top speed.

The loud noise and commotion caught me off guard, and I jumped when the people outside practically kicked the door open and a small flurry of adults came rushing inside. One of them was covered in dried blood, fresh wounds, and what looked like some pretty serious burns on his skin. But as exhausted and worn out and battered as he looked, he still seemed to have the strength to push forward and keep his balance as he cradled a young boy in his arms. A boy with short, reddish brown hair, about ten or eleven years old, and skinny to the point of looking rather sickly from a distance. In fact, his pale skin and waifish frame, accompanied by a slight fever sweat and a boyish cough, would have anybody that saw him think that he had one foot in the grave already. The man put the boy's smallish body on a nearby bed and worked to cover him up with blankets while everybody else in the room looked on...speculating on whether or not that was a good idea. I mean, had it not been for the older guy's physical strength and undeniable determination to get him into that hospital bed...he might have actually been turned away at the door.

"Whoah whoah whoah...what is this?" One of the doctor's said, hurrying over to see what all the fuss was about.

"It's my SON! He needs help! Somebody help him!" The man said frantically, petting his son's hair. "It's ok, Spencer! Daddy's here. You're going to be ok, you hear me?" Then he looked around the room, "Is somebody going to HELP us or what? What the fuck is going on here???"

Surprised, and a bit irritated, some of the doctors called out, "Who is this? How did they get in here? Have they been properly checked for bites? Have they been quarantined?"

The man who brought the boy in got rather hostile with the doctors, pushing some of them away from his son, and getting in other's faces to make sure they help him out before thinking of a reason not to.

At this point, even Alex had to pull his attention away from the hall to take a gander at what was going on.

"We need to get this boy thoroughly checked out before we can just..."

"NO!!! He checks out! He hasn't been bitten! He hasn't been infected!" The man said, standing guard by his son as though every doctor in there was looking to do him some harm. "I checked him myself, he's fine! He's just got a really bad flu virus right now, he's had it for a couple of days now and it's in no way related to what's going on out there! You need to give him a vaccine and let him rest so he can get better!"

"It doesn't work like that!" One of the nurses told him. "We can't afford to just let this ONE child skip inspection..."

"He PASSED inspection! So did I! At the gate! So, back the fuck up, lady! If you don't have a needle with a vaccine and some nutritional benefits to help him feel better, then get the FUCK out of the way!" He screamed. "What about you? You're not doing anything! Get over here and make sure my son is ok!"

While the argument raged on in the corner, I heard Cooper intrude and try to get the father to mellow out. It didn't seem to be working though. His adrenaline was pumping so hard that it was hard for him to keep his biceps from flexing hard enough to tear through the sleeves of his shirt. Even though he was standing still...he was breathing as though he were still running in a panic. His heavy breaths almost made him hyperventilate, and his eyes watered up as he found it nearly impossible to fight off the hysteria surging through him.

"Just take care of Spencer, Doc..." He whimpered. "Take care of my son..."

At that moment, I heard Alex whisper, "He's gone! I think Preston wandered off somewhere. You want to make a break for it?"

Still shivering at the thought of Alex and I being alone together...I couldn't help but to turn of my 'sympathy' gene while watching all of this. Something that was getting progressively easier to do. An act of mental and emotional gymnastics that I was beginning to find disturbing. And yet...not disturbing enough to keep me from taking Alex's hand to follow him.

The last thing I saw was that silent boy burying his head into Cooper's shoulder as a nurse stabbed a mercilessly big needle into his shoulder. Cooper stroked the boy's hair as he winced from the pain and his face wrinkled up tight. Cooper heard a muffled whimper in the back of the boy's throat, and softly told him, "Shhhh, it's ok. It's just a little something to help you sleep. Ok? I'm right here. I've got you."

The boy was already beginning to lose consciousness by the time Alex peeked his head into the hallway and made sure the coast was clear. Ten, he gave my hand a tug, and off we went...hurrying around the nearest corner and looking for a way back to where we were initially.

My senses came to life, the shivers inside intensifying with every step. There was a part of me that was overwhelmed by the whole situation. A part of me that almost wanted to dig my heels into the linoleum floor and slow down so I could truly appreciate every mind-blowing moment of running off to my first make-out session with another boy. I never thought my heart would be racing like this. I never imagine my breath would be so short. My legs, as weak and wobbly as they felt, managed to keep up with Alex's hurried pace the whole time. A surprise to me, considering that I was so very dizzy at the time.

The biggest trigger for me, however, was Alex's grip on my hand. It was an electric touch that crawled right up my arm, shot its way through my heart, and made a mad dash straight to my penis. The softness of his warm, slightly moist, palm, made my erection jump to attention...and there was no way for me to keep it from jutting out in an obscene way. But, even while struggling through my increasingly awkward stride through the halls of my high school...Alex and I couldn't stop giggling at one another. The surface of my skin was numb with goosebumps. It's the kind of feeling that makes you truly believe that you can fly.

We hurried into one of the nearby staircases, giddy as two teen boys could be when it comes to stuff like this. But we both stopped dead as we heard one of the staircase doors open above us.

We froze.

There wasn't much else that we could do.

We heard footsteps descending from above and held our breaths while finding ourselves trapped in such a confined space. It was more about making up a believable excuse now. Running would do us no good.

Thankfully...we saw Donovan round the top of the stairs above us and keep walking. I don't know what he was doing or why, but better it be him than some soldier or self appointed hall monitor coming to tell us to get back to the rest of the general population.

"Hey..." I said, my voice shaking with the effort to seem normal. I don't think Donovan was fooled one bit.

Alex said, "We were just...wandering around and stuff, because..."

"Whatever. Nobody cares." Donovan groaned. "Listen, have you guys seen a kid about your age walking around this place? Blond hair. Kinda preppy looking? Looks like he's just coming home from a church picnic or something?"

Alex and I shook our heads.

Donovan asked, "You sure? Name's Stephen? He probably came in with the convoy right before mine?" We didn't have any idea who he was talking about, but he was too impatient for us to figure it out. "You know what, forget it. Move. I'll find him myself." He pushed his way past us and continued down the stairs. Sarcastically saying, "Thanks guys. You were a real help."

What is it with that guy?

Alex gave me another tug on my hand and before I knew it we were on our way out to the third floor again. I was praying for that room to still be empty, and as soon as I saw it still dark in the distance...I knew that my prayers had been answered. The moment his hand touched that doorknob and gave it a twist...I knew that I would never be the same again.

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