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"Gone From Daylight: Blood Ties 49"

It was hard to tell if I was angry at The Jeweler...or myself.

It was something that I had always done when I was growing up. Taking the pain...and internalizing it. Letting it bleed into my very essence and poison me from the inside. It was the kind of inner hatred that made me want to spit in the face of my own reflection. The kind that kept my head down and my mouth shut whenever I walked through the halls at school. The kind...that weakened me to the point of walking out to the end of navy Pier that night at 3 AM...looking to finally find some rest at last.

I'm not going to let him do this to me. I won't allow The Jeweler to break me down the way my father did. I WON'T! You see, there once was a time when I believed whatever my abusers told me. I gave a certain amount of validation to their claims that I was worthless. Evil. Stupid. And alone.

But you want to know something? Taryn is better than any ONE of them! He's on a whole other plane of existence. And if a beautiful soul like that could find something to truly love about me...then I don't need the approval of anybody else. I don't need them at all. For the first time in my life, I feel as though I've got a 'center'...as opposed to always being flung off to the side by the rapid spinning of society's judgemental fan blades. Taryn allows me to believe that there's something within me that's worth the effort it takes to keep my heart beating. He takes my broken pieces and makes me whole again.

The Jeweler is the one who's lost, if he thinks for on second that I'd willingly sacrifice that for some silly prophecy or obligation to a bunch of old dusty scriptures. I spent years being a puppet for other people to hurt and manipulate and carry the weight of their bullshit issues...and when it came time for me to ask for a little love in return? They let me down. Every time.

But not Taryn. Not my sweet Taryn.

He's one of the very few people in this world who has actually earned the right to play a major role in who I am. Out of all the circles that I've been able to catch a glimpse of...the one where Taryn and I end up being happy together for the rest of eternity is the only one that makes sense. Everything else seems like some sort of 'trick shot' in comparison. An intersecting circle that shouldn't be there. One that I might be able to control...or at least ignore...if I felt the need.

The more I understand about this Vampire Mimic thing, the more I realize that the spiritual 'dogma' part of this prophecy simply doesn't fit me. At all. The Jeweler can tell me what happens, and what it's supposed to do...but he can't seem to tell me why. Shouldn't he know why? I mean...what is the purpose of my life up until now, if it was only going to spiral down into horror and pain later, sacrifice or not? What would be the purpose of Taryn's life...and all of the hard times that he's seen in his many years in darkness?

There just seems to be a missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle here. And if it means saving the truest angel I've ever known from one moment of conflict or pain...I'll find it. I'll OWN it! And I'm going to come right back here and rub it in Lockheart's smug face when I do!

I caught my breath, and pushed down on the floor, getting my feet back under me and standing up again. The damage to the walls and floor around me was heavy, but I could have easily caused this whole facility to collapse had I given myself over to the shadows completely. So I consider that a win.

Some of The Jeweler's servants hurried over, using soft rags to brush the dust and dirt off of my shoulders, but I cringed and held my hands out to keep them away. I was fine. Just...fine. They all lowered their heads and silently respected my wishes to be left alone. This whole Mimic thing is still so surreal to me sometimes. But I didn't want to be rude.

"Thank you. Seriously. I just want to go back to my room. Ok? That's all." I said, and they slowly backed away, never looking me in the eye as they did so.

However, as I turned around to head towards the door, I noticed that Brooklyn and Haze refused to show me any grace, whatsoever. They scowled at me, upset that they weren't able to give this meek, blond, little halflife the brutal beatdown that they were expecting to. They didn't say anything, however. Just gave me a duo of dirty looks and rubbed their sore arms and legs as I walked by.

And then...there was Strings...

"You wouldn't be so tough without your little bag of tricks, ya know?" He scoffed. "Punk ass kid..."

Was he SERIOUS??? i don't know how long it's been since his crossover into darkness, but to your average person on the street, I looked older than HE did by at least a couple of years.

I just glared at him. Then looked forward and refused to pay him any attention at all. One of these days, that sarcastic little brat is going to get what's coming to him. And I hope I'm there to watch.

As I saw some of the servants open the double doors wide in front of me, allowing me to leave, Strings angrily pouted, "You broke the wire on my yo-yo! These things are custom made. They don't come cheap, you know?"

Without even turning my head in his direction, I mumbled, "Try a fidget spinner next time...asshole."

Just as the doors were closing behind me, I heard him asking, "What the fuck is a fidget...???" Just before the slamming door cut him off.

Whatever. Strings is the least of my problems right now.

I began to rub my shoulder with my arm, feeling my limbs ache with exhaustion...almost too weak to cramp up from overexertion. My brain felt as though it had gone numb, all synapses firing off left and right, wearing its own energy reserves so thin that it was hard for me to keep from basically 'sleepwalking' my way back towards the elevators.

Physically and emotionally drained, I barely noticed that Suraj boy as he suddenly stepped out from around the corner and hurried over to kneel in front of me again. "My lord...I can't tell you how sorry I am for what took place. I meant no disrespect. What I did was heresy, and I ask for your forgiveness. Please. PLEASE!" He grabbed my hand and held it against his cheek for a moment, but I pulled it away from him. I was a little stunned by his very appearance alone...not to mention his submissive behavior.

Still...he seemed to be tearing himself apart inside for taking on Taryn's form and using it to deceive me. I didn't mean to be rude. "It's ok. Honestly."

"You don't have to be merciful on my account, my lord. I deserve whatever punishment you wish to put upon me..."

"Wait, what? no. No...there's no...'punishment'. None of that. I promise." I said, now looking around to see if anybody else could see us there in the hallway. "Ummm...you can get up now. Honestly, there's no need for...whatever this is." Suraj peeked up at me, his eyes misty with shame and doubt. Getting him to look me in the eye was almost like trying to coax a frightened kitten out of a tree, but...little by little...he began to relax. So I offered him my hand, simply to help him up. "It's ok. Really. Stand up. Please?"

He seemed almost suspicious of the fact that I was being so chill about the whole thing. He kept eyeing me as if it were some kind of trick. As if I were suddenly going to strike him back down to the floor as soon as I got him to let his guard down. But...once he saw that I had no such intention, he took a step back and lightly brushed the dust off of his knees. "Thank you, my lord..."

"It's fine. I just...I want to go check on my boyfriend. I need to make sure he's ok."

"I can assure you that NO harm will come to your sire. Not in this place. Mr. Lockheart has forbidden it. He was very specific." He told me.

"Yeah, but..." I said, starting to walk towards the elevators again, "...I'm not going to be comfortable until I make sure for myself. So...maybe I'll see you around, k?"

However, even though Suraj nodded, as if in acceptance of my parting words, he suddenly rushed over to walk beside me anyway. "I just have to say that..what I saw in there was phenomenal. I've never, in all my days, seen someone fight the way you do."

"I can't really take the credit for all that. It just sort of happens, I think." I replied.

"Oh no, my lord. Not fighting like that. It takes focus, and purpose, and control. I know vampires many many years further into darkness than you who would fall immediately when facing a talent like yours. It was like every Vampire Mimic fantasy and fairy tale come true. Right in front of my very eyes. I'm still reeling from the fact that I was able to bear witness to such a thing. Such greatness. Such glory." Suraj seemed so happy to be talking to me about this, but I honestly didn't know how to respond. I certainly don't feel glorious. Or great. Or even somewhat average, for that matter. Doesn't he know that I'm just...me? "Can I ask you a question, my lord?"

"You can just call me Justin."

"Can I ask you a question, Lord Justin?"

I sighed, "That's...that's not exactly what I..."

"How are you able to truly manipulate so many extras at once? To maintain them. Combine them, even. I've seen some highly trained vampires string two or three of them together before, but nothing like what YOU were able to achieve. I wish I could do that. You must not be scared of anything."

"I wish that were true, Suraj." I said. "But...the truth is...I'm scared all the time."

His eyes widened slightly, a little smirk appearing on his lips. "The scriptures always said that the Mimic would be a humble soul. Someone with great empathy and concern. I am overwhelmingly impressed. I still can't believe that I am here to walk beside you right now. I feel like I have so many questions...but I can't think of a way to word them right now. Too much excitement for one evening, I suppose." He followed it up with a cheerful little giggle, a slightly higher pitch than his normal speaking voice. I don't know why, but it inspired a smile of my own.

"Thanks, I guess." I told him, and that practically made him bounce joyfully with every following step. I figured that he was pretty harmless, all in all. More so than any of the other vampires that I've run into around this place. It felt good to feel like I had somebody on my side for a change. "For what it's worth...it's nice to see someone in this building who's a little less intense."

Suraj's jaw dropped! He almost stumbled over his own feet when he heard me speaking to him in such a grateful way. With a boisterous skip in his step, trying to hold back a fanboy's squeal, Suraj took a hold of a small silver chain that was hanging around his neck. "Did you hear that???" He whispered to it. "The Mimic thinks it is nice...to meet ME!" I smiled at him, and he apologized. "I don't mean to harass you in any way. It is just that you are more amazing than I could have ever dreamed. More than anything I've ever studied about your legacy. To be here in your presence is an honor that i never could have prepared for."

Looking down at his hand, still clutching the end of his necklace, I asked him, "What's with the...you know..."

"Huh? OH!" Suraj held up a single, bright, amber colored jewel. "This is my baby sister! My baby sister, Melati! I tell her everything."

My smile faded slightly. As I gazed upon the gem, a touch of sadness washed over me. "Oh. You mean...she's..."

At first, he seemed confused by my sorrowful change in demeanor. But never lost his cheeky grin. "Yes. She has since passed on from darkness. In the beginning, she crossed over to be with me. We were all the family we had left in this world, and chose to be together. But she did not take well to the feeding. Trying to get her to find a donor and replenish herself was next to impossible. She was constantly starving, putting herself through such pain." Suraj looked down at the jewel and gave it a few loving rubs with his fingers. "It did hurt for me to lose her...but it hurt more to see her lose herself. So...we ended up here. Mr. Lockheart gave us a really nice place, some long forgotten luxuries...some decent counseling as well. And when Melati felt it was time, we said our goodbyes...and she stepped into one of the many sun boxes here...and she went to go searching for a new existence elsewhere." It looked as if he was reflecting on her last moments, but then cheered up again and flashed me another smile. "But Mr. Lockheart was able to fulfill his promise, and made her ashes into a precious jewel that I would be able to keep with me for as long as I am in darkness. I never take it off. It is a reminder of her, and the sparkling light that she once brought to the world. I am grateful that Mr. Lockheart was able to capture that part of her." There was a brief silence between us as I approached the elevator doors and pressed the button. Then, he suddenly gasped to himself and said, "I'm so sorry. I have been going on and on about nothing. I hope I haven't bored you."

"You know...I don't think there's anything boring about you, Suraj." I grinned. "So...a shapeshifter, huh?"

Proudly, he answered, "I am. It is a very exact science, you know? Takes a lot of practice. The hardest part is the eyes. I always have trouble with the eyes." He thought about what he was saying, and gasped again. "Oh my! I'm SO sorry, Lord Justin! It must have been so rude for me to impersonate your beloved the way I did!"

"It's ok." I said. "It was a pretty damn good likeness, actually." I hope that kept a little bit of his extreme guilt at bay.

"Mr. Lockheart made sure that I sit, and I watch, and I practiced to get every single detail exactly as it was meant to be presented. He made me listen to his voice, and study his mannerisms, and he told me that the eyes would be very important. So, I had to make a champion effort to get them all right."

My forehead wrinkled slightly. "Wait...when? When did you do all of that?"

"When Mr. Lockheart brought him down to get his haircut." He replied.


"His hair cut? You mean...? But that was days ago."

"Yes. I needed time to figure out how to replicate his beauty. It was not an easy task. You are both so very pretty." He smirked. "Mr. Lockheart even gave me strands of his hair so that I could practice the color and soft texture in front of the mirror."

Feeling a little sick to my stomach, I mumbled to myself, "He knew this would happen. He planned it all out ahead of time. Days ahead of time..."

"Yes. Mr. Lockheart is very precise in his planning. Always. It is as if he is always twelve steps ahead. Much like chess." Suraj smiled when he said it, but I don't think he understood just how much he disturbed me with the fact that The Jeweler was deliberately trying to use Taryn's likeness to get to me. To throw me off my game, and plotting these things out so far in advance...knowing the outcome. Knowing how I would react to having my soul mate in danger like that.

Everything is fucking GAME to him! I'm getting so sick of it!

The elevator came, and I fought the urge to scowl for fear that Suraj would take it as some sort of hint that he had offended me, when in all actuality...he probably helped me out a great deal. I think I'm finally getting a clear picture of who and what I'm dealing with in this place. "I have to go. Thank you for the company, Suraj." I said, stepping onto the elevator while he remained outside.

"It was my pleasure. I wish you all the joy and happiness in the world. You and your sire." He said. "Sleep well, Lord Justin!"

Just as the doors were closing, I called out, "Dude...really. It's JUST Justin..." But he seemed to be skipping off in the other direction, holding his sister's jewel in his hands and whispering words of excitement to her as he rushed back down the hall in the other direction. I'm starting to think that I should just let him call me what he wants from now on. It might not be worth the headache to tell him otherwise.

I got anxious as the elevator got closer to the floor that Taryn and I were currently living on, and the moment those doors opened, I practically ran down the hall, my legs fatigued, my knees and ankles sore and weary, and I burst in the door to see Taryn sitting on the floor at the foot of the bed, remote control in hand, clicking through even more cable stations and marveling at how many shows and movies there were to watch in this place.

I froze as soon as I stepped in the room, hearing the door close behind me.

Taryn glanced over at me, completely alive and well...bright green eyes sparkling as he flashed me a heartwarming smile, and flicked some of his longish hair back as he welcomed me back. "Justin...did you know that there's a whole channel strictly for GAY shows and movies on this thing??? When did THAT happen? I feel like I missed so much! Hehehe!"

He was happy. Healthy. Untouched by any of the harmful activities that had been taking place just a few levels below us. But my heart felt as though it was being squeezed in a vice as I laid eyes upon him again. The emotion overpowered me. No bruises. No dirt. No scrapes of cuts on his beautiful face and graceful, unblemished, features. He was ok. My sweetheart was totally ok.

When I began to tear up and didn't respond to what he said, Taryn looked over at me again and muted the television. "Justy? Are you ok?"

I found the courage to step forward, and I just hurried over to where he was sitting and dropped to my knees, hugging him tightly around the neck as I put my chin over his shoulder to hide my tears of joy. I held him so close. So close that Taryn began to giggle as my rough embrace caused him to lose balance and roll back on the floor...both of us laying there with our arms wrapped around each other, so happy to be reconnected again.

"Did...did something happen, or...?" Taryn asked, but I secretly wiped my eyes, and just moved my head back long enough to give him a deep kiss on his sensual lips. "Mmmm...yikes. I'm not sure what I did to deserve that, but...I'm thinking that maybe I should do it much more often. Hehehe!"

He really had no idea what I had just been put through, did he? No clue as to how quickly I was ready to give up everything, including my own life, just to ensure his safety. But, once the shock of seeing him happy and unharmed had worn off, i just began kissing him all over his stupid pretty FACE! "Mwah! Mwah! Mwah! I love you! MWAH!!! God, I love you!"

"Hahaha! OK! OK! I believe you! Geez!" He giggled wildly. "What's gotten into you?"

"Nothing." I grinned. "Nothing at all." I rubbed my nose lightly against his, and I soon noticed a change in his expression. A hint of confusion. "What? What's the matter?"

Taryn squinted a little bit. He asked, "Did...you get a new set of Optrix or something?"

"Did I what? What do you mean?"

He looked closer, and he smiled. "Your eyes...they're brown instead of blue."

"They are?"

Taryn wiggled himself out of my embrace and stood up to walk me over to the mirror. "There. You see?"

Sure enough...when I looked at my reflection, my eyes really had turned brown. In fact, it almost looked as though the shape of them had been slightly altered to match Suraj's natural look. "Whoah..." I whispered. "That's freaky..."

Taryn grinned. "It's cute and all, but...it sorta took me by surprise. Hehehe!"

I shut my eyes for a moment, and opened them again to see if they had changed back. They hadn't. I tried a few more times, but I didn't understand Suraj's extra at all. Nor could I figure out how I could have possibly absorbed his abilities so quickly. It's not like we had that much contact with each other.

This Mimic thing gets weirder by the day.

"I don't know how to change them back." I told him.

Taryn gave me a kiss on the cheek and said, "That's ok. You can keep it for now. Just don't let me go too long without seeing those baby blues again. They were the first thing I ever noticed about you. The first thing I really fell for. Hehehe!" I kissed his lips, but before we got into anything too intimate, Taryn got himself all excited and took me by the hand to lead me over to the bed. "You have to check out this channel. There are some really good gay dramas on there. And some comedies too. TONS of cute boys too! You're gonna love this. Trust me."

We lay, side by side, for the next few hours. With my arm around Taryn and his head resting peacefully on my chest...comfortable in a way that only true love and companionship provides. A few random kisses shared between us, and a snuggle-factor that a child would only share with his favorite teddy bear. How can I expect The Jeweler to ever understand a connection like this? An abundance of affection that rivals any set 'plans' that he may have for the 'greater good'. Who wouldn't sacrifice everything for just a few more moments spent in love?

Only those who have never tasted its luxurious grandeur. Its elegance...and its promise to hold you and keep you safe. For now, and forever.

There is no lesson in the world that could make me look upon a blessing like the one we share as anything less than a divine miracle. And if the prophecy says that he has to be taken from me in order for the world to live...then the prophecy has to be changed.

Either that...or I'd gladly take the rest of the world into the abyss with us when it ends. At least I'll know that, for once in my life...I fought for something I believed in. I fought for us.

As we got closer and closer to the approaching dawn, I felt Taryn cuddling even closer to me than before. Trying to find a comfortable position to maintain during his sleep cycle, his body heat waning considerably as his daily hibernation began to take effect. I kissed his forehead as he yawned in my arms, whispering, "G'night, baby..."

Taryn smiled, but he could lose consciousness SO fast sometimes when it came to the sunrise. Hehehe, it was cute though. At least to me it was. And as my body was slowly being sapped of its energy, and my focus began to drift...I suddenly became aware of another...'presence' in the room with us.

I can't really explain it, but it just felt like somebody else was there. Close. And watching me.

My eyes were half closed, and I was super groggy and weak...but I managed to raise one of my hands up to rub the sand out of my eyes and sit up slightly to see what the heck was going on.

I fought to stay awake as this...shadowed figured appeared to be standing at the foot of the bed. It was a blurry image, but I struggled to take in as much detail as I possibly could before I passed out. I stared at it. Transparent. I could clearly see the TV and the wall behind it. But it was still standing there. Motionless.

I used every last bit of concentration that I could to complete the image before me. Eyes. Hair. Face. Height. Build. And...just as the few remaining breaths of conscious activity were leaving me...the picture became clear. I recognized the figure, and a shiver went through me as I found the strength to stutter out ONE name before the sleep cycle forcefully dragged me into my daily slumber...


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