Here Without You: Chapter Two: Unfair Advantage

by Uriel

 

“Where are  we going anyway?” I asked as I pulled my key out of the door and watched as Andy impatiently hopped around waiting for me.

“You’ll see.” He said with a grin.

“You’re not gonna tell me?” I asked as he led the way, almost skipping.

“What’s the point? There’s no way you’ve ever been there before.” He replied as I finally reached forward and grabbed him.

“But it’s cool, right?” I asked as I tucked him under my arm.

“Oh yeah.” He answered as his steps slowed to match mine and he melted into my side. “I just never go there alone. So it’s been a long time since I’ve been there.”

“Ah.” I answered and simply followed his lead, twisting the city blocks for what seemed like forever, before he waved me down a dark dingy alley way. “Down there?” I asked getting a laugh from him.

“Yeah, why?” He asked tilting his head.

“What kind of a place is this?” I asked as he took my hand and pulled me forward.

“Will you just trust me?” He pleaded, almost whining.

I just shrugged my shoulders and gave into his tugging. Once reaching what looked like the back entrance to a club, he motioned for me to stand back as he walked up to the rusty old door and banged on it a few times. “Just follow my lead.” He turned to me and said with a wink.

I didn’t have time to answer before the huge door swung open, revealing a big rough looking guy. One that looked less than happy to see Andy at least.

“Bernie! Long time no see!” Andy happily shouted.

“Not long enough. I thought you smartened up and gave this place up.” He said before looking right at me. “Oh, even better. You’re bringing friends. I’m telling you, one of these days I’m slamming this door in your face.”

“You don’t mean that.” Andy said turning to smile at me. “I love this guy. He’s really a big teddy bear ya know.” He said with a smirk.

“Just get inside before someone sees you.” He said as he stepped aside and Andy just about hopped through the door. “Well, you comin in?” The man said to me in an impatient tone. “I ain’t gonna write you out an invitation kid.”

“I’m in.” I said with a nervous smile. “Thank you sir.” I barely got out as I almost made it in the doorway before Andy grabbed my arm and began dragging me down a hallway to another door. On the other side, I could hear what sounded like Techno music pounding loud enough to rumble the walls. “Sounds like it’s hopping.” I got out as we reached the door.

“Probably not yet, it’s still early.” He said before he opened the door, and the music seemed to vibrate right through my chest. “You want a drink?”

“Yeah, sure!” I half yelled over the music in response, causing Andy and a few people at a nearby table to cringe and cover their ears. “Oh sorry.” I said covering my mouth, more toward the group than toward Andy. “It’s really been a long time.” I added as I looked at Andy and could literally feel myself blush.

“He’s new.” Andy said to the group with a grin as he rushed over to the bar. “Whatcha want?”

“I don’t know, whatever you’re having I guess.” I said as I watched a hand full of people in the center of the room moving in what looked like waves that were perfectly in time with the beats of the music.

“Sweet, huh?” Andy asked earning a smile from me before he turned toward the bartender and began talking to him.

“Must be a full moon!” A voice seemed to come from behind me, causing Andy to turn around quickly. “Where the fuck have you been hiding yourself Cyclone?!?”

I stood back and watched as Andy’s face practically lit up and he bounded into the teenager’s arms. “Under your Mom! Enough room to hide an army there.” He shouted as the two hugged and laughed. “Anyone around?”

“You kiddin? It’s way too early for any of the real cool people to be here yet.” The boy replied as he started to look Andy up and down. “So what happened to you? You’re lookin really good bro.”

“Oh, the clothes? A friend bought them for me.” He said as he grabbed my arm and pulled me into the conversation. “Jon, this is one of my best friends, we call him Specter. Dude, this is Jon.”

“Nice to meet you Specter.” I said as Andy smiled wide before returning to the bar.

“It’s Spencer, they call me Specter cause of my extra. It originally was a joke, but it kinda stuck.” He said with a warm smile. “So, how’d ya get hooked up with this trouble maker? He normally doesn’t hang with humans.”

I could feel the blood rushing to my face when he asked. Not so much that he knew I was human, I mean to them we really stand out in the crowd. It was because of his looks I think. He had long, thick straight black hair and big brown eyes, dark enough to be mistaken for black in the lighting in this club. I guessed him to be 17 or 18 when he was turned. He was just…

“He’s not your type Jon.” Andy said as he returned to us with a tray full of drinks and a mischievous smile. “I almost fed on him.”Andy said to Spencer with a childish shrug of his shoulders.

Spencer smiled and inhaled deeply in my direction. “I would have too, what stopped you?”

“Protected.” Andy said with a smile as he held the tray out. “Well that’s what stopped me anyway. You with anyone?”

“Nah, I came alone.” Spencer replied. “You plannin on getting me drunk and taking advantage of me?” He asked with a laugh.

“You got half of that right.” Andy said with a smile.

“What? I don’t even get to get drunk this time?” Spencer laughed as he led the way to a table at the far end of the club.

“So where’s your right arm?” Andy asked as he passed out the shot glasses and a coke for each of us.

“Has it been that long since you’ve been around?” Spencer asked as he picked up one of the shots. “We split up like 6 months ago.”

Andy looked at the table and blushed. “I’m sorry bro. I didn’t know.” He said as he raised a shot and looked at me to do the same. “Well, I’m happy we found the better half tonight then.” He said before we tapped glasses in a salute and all three of us downed our drinks.

“WHOAH!!!” I said almost panting while grasping for my coke to chase the fire down. “Wow, what the hell is this stuff?” I asked as the other two burst out in laughter.

“Sunburn.” Andy said with tears in his eyes. I’m not sure if the tears were from the drink or from laughing so hard. “Chase it with a second one and it goes down nice and smooth.” He added as he grabbed a second shot and Spencer did the same.

“Come on rookie.” Spencer said with a smile. “Keep up and I may even show ya why they call me Specter.”

“Oh please.” Andy said with a laugh. “He came here for fun, not to watch some side show.”

I watched their playful exchange before I lifted my glass and grinned. “Deal, but you’ve gotta tell me why they call you Cyclone too.” I said to Andy before I drained my second, slamming the empty glass on the table.

“Oooohh… Sounds like your friend here is up to the challenge there Whirlpool.” Spencer laughed out as he downed his second shot.

“I’ll give you Whirlpool… ‘Spensive.” Andy said, squinting his eyes as he upended his glass.

I have no idea how long we sat there matching each other, shot for shot. I learned Spencer just got out of a really bad relationship with some guy who was way too controlling. Andy and he had met one night out on The Pier just after Spencer had a really bad argument, over some boy his boyfriend accused him of drooling over. I guess that was the norm for him, and Spence simply took his accusations on a regular basis, cause he thought he loved him. Sad really. This kid is such a nice guy from what I can see.

“You’re awful quiet.” Andy said resting his head on my arm. “You’re not gonna be sick, are ya?”

“Oh no.” I said as he snapped me out of my daze. “Just thinkin.”

“We know.” Spence said to me with a smile. “I’m happy, really. Things are a lot better now.” He continued, making me realize they both heard what I was thinking, loud and clear.

“Aw, I’m sorry man. I didn’t mean to bring down the mood. I guess I just think it sucks.” I got out before emptying another shot. “You deserve better.”

“Thank you sir. I’m out looking for better every night.” He said with a grin.

“Yeah, ‘Spensive Ho on tha loose.” Andy giggled, almost curling up into a ball on the seat next to me in laughter.

“Yur just jealous you never got me.” Spencer said with a laugh.

“Hah! Don’t make me laugh.” Andy said with a sarcastic grin. “There isn’t enough alcohol in this club to get me drunk enough to even consider it.” He said as he sat up and leaned against the wall.

“You better slow down there LittleWind, before your buddy here ends out having to carry you home.” Spencer got out with a grin as he looked at me. “It’s great to have halflives as friends. More for us.” He said as he slid the last glass to me with a smile. “I’ll get the next round.” And with that he stood up and danced his way through what had become a crowd on the floor.

“He’s cool.” I said looking at a now blissfully grinning Andy.

“Wanna dance?” He asked as he got up on his knees in the booth. “Pleeeeze.”

“With me?” I asked in a bit more of a shocked voice than I meant to.

“Well, duh.” Andy said with a laugh. “I gotta move, an I wanna move with you. So let’s move.” He said in the cutest drunken slur imaginable.

“When ya put it that way.” I said as I stood up, instantly feeling the effects of the drinks. “Those are stronger than I thought.”

“Oh yeah.” Andy said as he stumbled out of the booth and we made our way out into the sea of people.

The music was… Hypnotizing is the only word I can think of to describe it. It was like everyone else on the floor was drowning in the same water, controlled by the same current. Swaying with eyes closed as the waves of sound rippled through the crowd, forcing us to move in time to it. I just let it take control and before I knew it, I had an armful of blissful kid. Happily moving with his eyes closed in every direction the music pushed us in. It was the most amazing thing I had ever experienced. After what seemed like an hour had passed and the music seemed to lul down a bit, we made our way back to the table.

“Damn it, I thought I was gonna have all these to myself.” Spence said as he slid us each a shot. “Whatcha think Jon? This place worth coming back to?”

“Oh, hell yeah.” I replied as I held up my glass. “I needed this guys. Thanks!”

“See SpinCycle, you gotta bring him here more often now.” Spence said just in time to look at Andy and open his eyes wide. “Jon let him out and point him toward the bathroom.”

I looked over and saw Andy swaying in his seat holding his last shot. “That musta gone down bad.” I said looking at his greenish complexion. “Need help?” I asked as I practically dragged him out of his seat.

“I’m fine, keep SuSpencer company.” He said with half a smile as he staggered off toward the bathroom.

“He’ll be fine.” Spence said as I craned my neck to make sure he made it in. “Trust me, he could be completely wasted and still find his way in there. This is like our second home dude.”

“Oh, ok.” I replied as I sat back down and took a sip from my almost forgotten coke.

“He likes you.” Spence randomly said as he took a sip from his soda. “I haven’t seen him this happy in a very long time.”

“He’s a good kid.” I smiled and said causing Spencer to laugh. “What?”

“He’s no kid, trust me.” He replied with a laugh.

“How old is he?” I asked grabbing my next shot and sliding one across the table to him.

“Have you asked him that question yet?” He asked as he raised his glass.

“Yeah.” I replied following suite.

“What did he say?”

“Twelve.” I replied and downed my shot. “He’s gotta be older than that though.” I said with a cough from the alcohol.

“Twelve’s the answer then, until he says otherwise.” Spence said and then quickly upended his shot glass. After slamming it back down on the table he looked deep into my eyes and half smiled. “I’ll give you one tip, one friend to another.” He said as he leaned closer. “He’s been hurt, real bad in the past. Don’t let him get close to you if you plan on ditching him. He can’t take any more of that shit.”

My jaw dropped open as he said it. I mean I could feel that Andy was genuine. You know, the kind of person who wears their heart on their sleeve right out where anybody could take advantage of them. But ditch him. I could never…

“That’s good to know.” Spence said with a grin as he sat back in his seat.

“Will you stay out of my head, please.” I whined as I sat back as well.

“Sorry, you come through too clear.” He replied with a grin.

“So I’m learning.” I said with a grin. “Andy is a friend and I really needed a friend, seems he did too. He’s welcomed in my home and my life for as long as he’ll have me around. I can’t say much more than that.”

“Being what he is doesn’t bother you?” Spence asked before grabbing the last two shots and placing one in front of us both.

“What he is? He’s an adult in a child’s body. He’s looked down at by most of the people in this room. Simply because someone turned him before he had a chance to really live. Like that was his fault.” I spit out before slamming back the last shot. “I never understood that kind of prejudice. I don’t look at him as a kid, well… I do when he let’s that part of himself show. I treat him as simply another soul, one who is trying really hard to earn my friendship, not knowing that simply trying is all it took to win me over. You got nothing to worry about.” I said with a snort. “It’ll be a cold day in hell before I ever consider ditching him.”

Spencer crossed his arms and stared even harder at me. “Why?”

“Cause I’ve been hurt too. Maybe not for the same reasons, but in almost the same way. I’m alone, and not by choice.” I said as Spence began to half smile. “I can see it in his eyes, I can feel it in his touch. He’s grasping for someone to hold him up, same as I was. I haven’t known him for long enough to even try to say I know him better than you. Hell, I don’t even know why I feel like I know him so well. We click, what more do you need in life?”

“Well, I love the hell out of that little spinner. I just don’t want to see him get hurt anymore. Sorry.” Spence said as he looked at his empty shot glass. “I didn’t mean to make you mad.”

Just then I realized, I was getting mad. I don’t even know where it came from really. Spencer was being a protective friend, I can really respect that. “I understand.” I said with a smile. “I really do.”

He smiled at me and looked toward the bar. “I understand we are all out of fire water.” He said with a smile. “As I also understand it is your turn rectify the problem.” Spence got out with a laugh.

“I read ya.” I said as I piled the empties on the tray and stood up. “Be right back.” I said with a smile.

On the way to the bar, I could literally feel some of the occupants staring at me. Making me feel as if I really didn’t belong here. Well until a small arm wrapped it’s way around my waist and melted into my side. “I’m better.” Andy’s voice said as he looked up into mine when I looked down at him. A wide smile on his face. “I guess it’s been a while and my stomach is letting me know it.”

“You wanna head home?” I asked as we reached the bar and I waited for the bartender to see us.

“Not yet, I’ll just take it slower. There are a couple of people I want you to meet.” He said as he looked around the room, never letting go of my side. “If they ever show up I mean.”

“If not, there’s always next time.” I said and watched as his face brightened up.

“Next time? You mean you’d come back with me?” He asked as he began to squeeze tighter.

“Are you kidding? This place is awesome.” I said as I leaned down and kissed his forehead. “Thanks for bringing me here. I was beginning to forget what it was like to have fun.”

“Me too.” Andy said as the bartender came over, looked at Andy and nodded that he knew the order.

“3 cokes, 9 Sunburns.” The bartender said as he sat a new tray on the counter.

“Do you know how to make a Fireball?” I asked and he smiled and nodded. “Can I add three Fireballs, I gotta get even.” I added with a grin. “Go heavy on the tabasco.” I said getting a knowing laugh from the man.

Back at the table, I waited for Andy to work his way back into the seat before I handed out the first shots. “My turn.” I said as I held mine out and the others did the same. “To new friends.” I said.

“To new and old friends.” Spencer added as Andy nodded in agreement and we all downed our drinks. “Holey Shit!” Spencer shouted as he grabbed his coke and downed it, making the burn even worse.

“Shwweet burm.” Andy slurred with a giggle, apparently only mildly phased at the unexpected change in drinks.

“What the hell dude?” Spencer almost cried causing me to laugh uncontrollably. “What was that?”

“It’s called a Fireball, nothing special really.” I answered through my laughter. “You didn’t like it?”

“I wasn’t expecting it.” He said as he wiped his mouth on his sleeve. “That burns as much as a Sunburn.”

“All tha way down.” Andy said with a giggle. “Shiminum.” He slurred before he collapsed in a fit of giggles.

“Cinnamon Schnapps and tabasco sauce. It’s got a little bite to it.” I said as Spence looked up and opened his eyes wide.

“Ya think?!?” He said now beginning to grin as he licked his lips. “Tastes like a Fireball candy, only all of it all at once.”

“Yeah.” I said as I looked at Andy and watched him sniff the inside of his glass and giggle even more. “Ok, I think he’s close to being all done.”

Andy dropped his glass on the table and looked up at me with a pleading stare. “Noooo.” He whined and climbed up into my lap. “Not yet.” He said as he grabbed another Sunburn off the tray. “Thish’ll gehd washted.”

“He’s fine.” Spence said with a smile. “He’s actually just getting loose.” He said with a wink.

“Yeah.” Andy chimed in as he downed his drink and grinned up at me, wiping his mouth off with the back of his hand.

“Now how could you resist a cute little face like that.” Spencer said with a laugh, getting a dirty look from Andy.

“Shaddap Specticle.” He said before busting out laughing.

Once the tray was empty, we all decided some air would be a good thing and packed up to head for home. Andy of course was a little too “Loose” to be stable on his feet, so I had him climb up on my back and piggy backed him out.

“I think I’m gonna head us back home Spence.” I said as I turned and smiled. “Next time we run into each other, I believe you owe me.” I said earning a confused look from him. “Your extra. You said you’d show me why they call you Specter.”

“Oh yeah.” He said with a grin. “I almost forgot about that.” He said as he held his hand out to his side and grinned as it seemed to change, into a mist and then back. “If I make you see that with my whole body, I look like a ghost. So they call me Specter.”

“Shmoke and mir… ors.” Andy managed to get out with a giggle.

“Quiet down TriCycle.” Spenser said with a smile as he rubbed Andy’s cheek. “Let Jon get you home, you’re in good hands.” He said as he looked at me and nodded.

“Well Duh! I coodda told ya that.” Andy said with a laugh as he gripped me tighter.

“Night Spence, It was great meeting you.” I said as he leaned in and kissed me on the cheek.

“You too.” He said as he stepped back and smiled before turning completely into a mist and just kinda drifted out of the alley, before transforming back to himself and waving before walking out of sight.

“It’s a trick, you jus think he does that.” Andy said, seeming to be able to form words a little better in the night air.

“It’s a good one.” I said as I started walking back toward the apartment. “So that means some people see him, but the ones he wants to not see him see the mist?”

“Yeah, he can dupe a whole group or make just one person think they are losing their mind. It’s awesome.” Andy said in a groggy tone as he rested his chin on my shoulder. “I never got to show you my extra.” He almost whined.

“Plenty of time for that.” I said as I continued to walk.

“Yeah.” He almost whispered. “Hey, you hadda lot to drink too. I can walk if I’m too much to carry.” He said with a squeeze.

“Nope, Takes more than that to get me to let go.” I said as I reached the far end of our street. “Besides, we’re almost home.”

“Jon?” Andy said as he turned his head and spoke almost into my neck.

“Yeah?” I asked with a smile.

“When do you plan to… um… you know, tell me to go home?” He asked with a sniffle.

I stopped walking and knelt down, pushing him off and turning to look him in the eyes. He had begun to tear up a bit causing his contacts to fail him and let his golden glow shine through. “Come here.” I said as I held my arms out and he dove into a hug. “You leave when you’re tired of me.” I said scooping my hands under his butt and lifting him up before continuing to walk. Allowing him to snuggle into my hug. “My home is our home, got it?” I said while rubbing his back with my free hand.

“Okay.” His muffled response came from my neck as I could feel my shirt getting wet with his tears. “Sorry.” He sniffled. “I don’t mean to sound like a baby.”

“Don’t explain, I feel the same way.” I said as we crossed the last street to our block. “Besides, we’ve both been drinking. We can talk more about it tomorrow night when we both are a little less emotional.”

“And sappy.” Andy said with a teary laugh.

“That too.” I replied with a smile as we reached the door and fumbled for my keys. Once inside, I walked Andy to the bathroom and went back into the kitchen to lock the door back up. A few minutes later Andy slowly emerged from the bathroom with a groggy smile. “Feel better?” I asked with a smile that had to have matched his.

“Yeah.” He replied as I stepped past him and went in to get washed up. Leaving the door cracked open, just in case he needed to rush back in. Once I finished, I came back out to find him beginning to doze off at the table.

“Come on.” I said as I lifted his limp form out of the chair and carried him to his room. “You want the bed folded out tonight?”

“Yes please.” He said in a voice that reminded me he was only a child when whoever turned him selfishly took his life as it was. I folded the futon out flat and turned to him just in time to watch him begin to doze off while standing.

“Ok, sit.” I sad with a smile as I maneuvered him to the bed and took each of his shoes off, then his socks while he simply watched, almost falling over backward into the mattress.

“You gonna tuck me in?” He asked with a weak smile.

“That’s what friends are for.” I replied as I pulled his shirt up over his head and off and began to unbutton and unzip his jeans. “Lay back.” I said and as he did I pulled his pants off and turned him on the bed so I could cover him up.

“Jon?” He said at almost a whisper.

“Yeah buddy?” I asked, sitting next to him on the bed.

“Could you… Eh… Never mind. It’s stupid.” He said with a blush.

“Stupid or not, name it.” I said with a smile while I fixed his hair.

“Are you going to bed too?” He asked, almost purring as he soaked up all the attention I offered him.

“Damn skippy. You guys wore me right out. Besides, I really need to sleep some of this off.” I answered with a grin. “Why, you need me to stay up until sunrise?”

“No.” He answered quickly. “Would you sleep in here?”

“Is that all?” I asked with a smile. “Let me take care of something first.” I said leaning down and kissing him on the forehead before walking through the apartment quickly, making sure all the blinds and curtains were tightly closed to keep the sunlight out when I woke up. Once I was satisfied that it would be safe for me to sneak out of his room in the morning without endangering him, I went back into his room, closed the door and untied the curtain to make double sure it was safe.

“Thanks.” Andy said as he scooted over to make room and smiled.

I smiled and quickly stripped to my underwear, turned out the lights and crawled in, instantly being enveloped in a hug. “That better?” I asked as he practically wrapped himself around me.

“Yeah.” He weakly replied as his breathing began to slow, and for the first time, I got to listen to him begin to drift off to sleep, before the morning would slow his breathing and steal his warmth. “I love you.” He whispered, almost to himself. Like he was reminding himself that I was in fact real and right here.

“I love you too.” I replied as I rubbed his back quietly and he fell asleep with me drifting off right behind him. The last thing I remember is his body just beginning to loose some of it’s warmth as I fell over the edge and slipped out of consciousness.


I woke in almost a state of panic. A memory from my childhood was triggered by the now cold lifeless arm that was draped across my chest. Once I realized where I was, I fumbled for the bedside lamp in the darkness and turned it on. I’m not sure how I could even begin to describe this feeling. It’s sorta like I’m so happy for Andy. Look at his face. He fell asleep so contented and happy last night. You can still see it in his expression. At the same time I wrestled with the thoughts that raced through my head. Something my Mom told me when we were living in the second safe house. “Dead sleep.” I hadn’t thought about that in years.

 

I remember it was my very first summer vacation. I had all but become nocturnal since that was the schedule everyone else kept. One night, just as I was getting ready to climb into my cot, Alex, who had become my best friend in that safe house begged to sleep with me cause he was scared. It had been a few months after he had been turned and my Mom said it was ok. We talked and giggled for a little while before I must have dozed off. I remember waking up to get a drink when I realized he was ice cold. I jumped to my feet and tears welled up in my eyes. My best friend was dead, I was sure of it. I ran to my Mom and cried like a baby. Through my gasps I told her what happened and she simply rocked me and listened. When I was all cried out, she walked me back to my cot. “You don’t have to sleep with him, but remember he went to sleep scared. Just think how scared he will be if he wakes up and you’re gone.” She said as she knelt down in front of me.“He’s not dead, he’s in a dead sleep. All the night people sleep that way.” She continued to say to me making me feel better. “You’ll see, when the night comes back, Alex will be warm and very much alive.” She said as she rubbed my back. I remember taking a deep breath and climbing back into my cot. “I’ll keep him warm then.” I said to her with a relieved smile as I tried to hug some warmth back into him. For the longest time, every night when Alex woke up, I was convinced I had gotten him through another night by keeping him warm.

I couldn’t get the image out of my mind as I rolled over and looked at Andy’s sleeping face. “Just a child.” I said as I gently brushed the mussed hair away from his eyes. After a few minutes of simply watching for the almost nonexistent breathing that I knew was there, other business had to be taken care of. I mean hell, I had been out drinking all night.

I carefully worked my way out of Andy’s grip before trying to stretch some life back into my tired and stiff muscles. “Three?!? Oh my god, I slept all day again.” I whined as I carefully slipped out of the bedroom, being careful to keep the room sealed of all outside light. Once I was done in the bathroom, I started a pot of coffee and then sat down, looking at the notes I had left out for myself as a reminder. ’2pm, interview.’ I started to read before crumpling up the paper and tossing it in the trash. “Blew that one.” I got out as my cell phone chirped indicating someone had left me a message. I flipped it open and read the first name out loud to myself. “Jeremy.” I called my voice mail and set it to speaker as I slowly got up to pour myself a coffee.

You have, 1 new message… First message, received today at 2:32pm… “Um, hi Jon. It’s me again. Well you’re probably not gonna call me back, but I’d really like to talk to you. Maybe we can go out and just sit down or sumthin, you know. Look I know I was being a dick, ok? I feel really bad about it. Give me a call, please?” You have no new messages…

I pressed end on the phone and took a sip from my steaming cup. “He’s not giving up.” I mumbled as I stared at my phone. “Ok, he wants to talk…” I got out as I dialed and mindlessly pressed send.

“Jon?” His voice sounded surprised when he answered.

“Caller ID works. You called me?” I responded in an almost emotionless tone.

“Um… yeah. Look you wanna go out and get a coffee or sumthin? I’d rather talk face to face, if it’s ok.”

“No, it isn’t ok Jeremy. Not unless one of us drives for a couple of days or gets a plane ticket.” I replied causing him to get really silent. “If you want to talk, it’s now or never.”

“Plane ticket?!? Where did you move to?” He asked in almost a joking tone.

“Well, when people I had known for most of my life started treating me like I had just joined some evil cult or something, I said screw it and left it all behind me.” I said with a cold chill traveling up my spine. “Don’t worry, I’m far enough away so you don’t need to worry about catching whatever disease it is you think I went out and intentionally gave myself.”

“I deserve that.” He said in just more than a mumble.

“I didn’t.” I replied, a bit more harshly than I intended. “You had something to say?”

“I wanted to say I was sorry.” He said. “I was being a real asshole. I mean look at it from my point of view. You turn up gay and everyone knows we were always together. I didn’t know what else to do.”

“So you turn on me. Jeremy, we’ve been friends since I was about 13. How would you feel if it was you?” I asked with anger building in my voice.

“But I wasn’t the one who decided to be gay…” He got out before I cut him off.

“You think I decided to be gay? Like one morning while brushing my teeth I looked in the mirror and made that decision?” I didn’t even pause to let him get a word in. “News flash buddy, I’ve been gay the entire time you’ve known me. I had no choices to make, I have just as much control over it as you do. I can’t change what I am just as much as you can’t. The only reason you never knew is because I was afraid you would hate me.” I said as I clenched my fist. “Just when I thought I was being foolish, and that we were good enough friends for you to understand, you proved I was right.”

“I don’t hate you.” Jeremy managed to get out.

“Means a lot now.” I replied as I took a sip from my coffee. “That’s like running someone over with your car dude. ‘I didn’t mean to.’ doesn’t erase the damage that’s been done.”

“Oh, so you won’t even consider accepting an apology?” Jeremy asked with a bit of sarcasm starting to surface in his tone.

“What? Are you gay now and you want me back?” I asked squinting my eyes.

WHAT?!? Fuck no! Why the hell would you say that?” He shouted, playing right into my hands.

“It’s something you are just not capable to just respond to, isn’t it?” I asked, the other side of the conversation becoming quiet again. “I go back, we hang for a couple of days, like nothing ever happened. One of your new buddies accuses you of being gay cause you’re getting to be all buddy like with the Fag. It starts all over again.” I took a sip from my coffee and then took a deep breath. “I accept your apology. I really do.” I managed to say with a sigh. “I’m sorry that I just can’t put the same kind of trust in you that I once thought was mutual.”

“Um…” Jeremy said, seeming to be searching for something to say.

“We had some fun. I’ll remember that for as long as I live. I’m sorry I became something you hate in your eyes. That’s something I will also remember and carry with me.” I said resting my elbows on the table. “Anything else you need?”

“I… uh… guess not.” He stammered out.

“Good, then delete this number from your phone. It’s being changed soon anyway.”I said as I took another sip from my coffee. “It was nice ‘thinking’ I knew you for all these years. Have a nice life.” I said as I was about to just flip my phone shut before Jeremy’s voice stopped me.

“I really am sorry.”

“So am I.” I said, as all his years of friendship almost drown out the pain I was feeling from the knife he stabbed in my back. “Goodbye Jeremy, take care of yourself.” I managed to say before closing the phone and ending the call.

I ended out spending most of the day simply moping around the house, looking through old photographs and junk I had collected and saved while growing up. I ended out calling for a pizza and had just sat down to eat when Andy’s bedroom door cracked open.

“It’s safe.” I said with a grin as I tried to force my bad mood into the background.

Looking like Andy had been rolled down a hill with his hair all tangled and his teeshirt thrown over his twisted up pair of boxer briefs, he stumbled over to the table and sat down with a grin. “Been up long?” His hoarse voice rasped.

“Yeah.” I replied pulling a second slice of pizza from the box. “I overslept and missed a job interview, been pouting all day.” I said as I realized I never bothered to really get dressed.

“I’m sorry.” Andy said. “Maybe I shouldn’t have dragged you out last night.”

“You kidding?” I said with a smile. “I wouldn’t trade last night for anything.” I said before taking a bite. “Most fun I’ve had in a long time.” I said as my smile suddenly had to be forced. The memories of the fun I used to have hanging out with Jeremy and my old friends flooding back.

“Oh, your friend called you again.” Andy said with a sad look creeping into his expression. “Look, I can take off for a while if you wanna be alone.”

No!” I said before realizing I had raised my voice. “I’m sorry, I just mean I really want you here. You know.” I said as I tossed my half eaten slice on top of the box, not really having much of an appetite anymore.

Andy simply stared at me for a moment before standing up and leaning in to give me a hug. “Yeah, I know.” He mumbled as he sat sideway across my lap and simply held me, forcing the tears to finally surface. “I love you ya know.” He whispered in my ear before burying his face in my neck.

“You’ve only known me for what? Two days?” I said as I sniffled.

Andy sat with his back against the table and looked into my eyes. He had started to tear up and his contacts were beginning to fail in their job hiding the soft golden glow behind them. “Do you have any idea how long I watched you out on the beach?” He asked causing me to start thinking about it. “Before I actually met you, I saw your thoughts. I listened in as you abandoned everyone you loved so they couldn’t hurt you anymore. I almost cried when you began to lose any hope for a future.” He said as a tear streamed down his left cheek. “You were really happy last night. You really had fun.” He continued as he sat across my knees and swung his right leg over to face me. “Now you’re right back where you started and I want to see you happy.”

“Wow.” I mindlessly said. “I guess I never thought you really listened that long.”

“The night after you moved here.” He said as he leaned forward and wrapped his arms and legs around me. “I found you and watched as you considered walking into the lake. You wanted to swim as far out as you could and then just let yourself sink. You thought it all through and was really close to actually doing it. I was just going to wait till there was no one around and then feed on you.” Andy said with a sniffle. “While I was waiting for the beach to clear, you started thinking about everything that happened before you moved. You thought about how hurt you were, I could kinda feel it. I ended out just watching your thoughts, even after the beach had cleared. I had my chance, but I couldn’t do it.”

I tightened my hug and rubbed his back as a real smile began to form on my face. “You did eventually change your mind though, cause you were gonna feed on me.” I said and actually felt him stiffen up.

“No, you changed my mind.” He said as he sat back and looked me in the eyes once again. “It wasn’t getting any better. Every night I would watch. Every night you just wanted the hurt to end. That last night, I just wanted to help you end it.”

“How close were you to blood lust?” I asked with a smirk.

“Pretty close! Half the time I was hiding I was in some serious pain.” He said with a giggle. “At one point on my way home, I almost tackled someone in the middle of the street. I woulda drained him right there without even thinking about it.”

“You should know better than to listen to the thoughts of your intended prey, kidoe.” I said with a smile. “You know why some people are vegetarians?”

“Cause they don’t like meat?” He questioned, tilting his head.

“Nope, cause they put a face on the cow.” I said laughing as he scrunched up his face in thought. “It’s hard to eat something if you know that it was once a living, breathing and feeling creature. Block out those thoughts, and it’s just a hamburger.”

“Yeah, I guess it’s kinda like that.” Andy replied with a smile. “So I guess that makes me a Jon-etarian.” He got out with a giggle, finally getting me to laugh.

“Wonderful.” I said rolling my eyes. “Now I’m responsible for starting some sort of underground vampire cult. You guys gonna have meetings?”

“Oh my god.” Andy laughed as he leaned back into his hug.

“Hi, my name is Cyclone. I’m a Jon-a-holic.” I said with a laugh as I pulled him in tighter. “Thanks buddy, I needed a friend tonight.”

“I know.” He simply replied. “How’s your head?”

“Huh?” I asked, confused by the sudden change in topic.

“You hung over?” He asked sitting back again with a smile.

“Not really, why?” I asked as he began to stand up but leaned in and placed a light kiss on my lips, surprising me.

“Cause we’re going back out.” He said as he climbed out of my lap.

“You better shower first.” I said, still a little stunned. “You smell like a bar.”

Andy rolled his eyes and then shrugged his shoulders. “So you’re up for a little fun?”

“Back to the club?” I asked beginning to stand up.

“Nope, I got a plan.” He said with an evil grin as he turned to disappear into his room.

“Great, now instead of being curious I’m scared. Thanks.” I said with a grin as he came back out of his room with his clothes in his hand.

“Nothing to be scared of. I wanna show you something.” Andy got out as he started for the bathroom. “I’d ask you to join me…” He said as he turned and looked at me waiting for my response.

“But?” I said in question waiting for the punchline.

“But nothing.” Andy replied with a serious expression sweeping over his face. “I guess reading your mind has it’s disadvantages sometimes too.” He said as he turned and went into the bathroom.

‘What’s that supposed to mean?’ I thought as I strolled into my room to finally get dressed. About 20 minutes later, Andy emerged looking like a new person. I looked up from my coffee and smiled, but let it fade when I saw his serious expression. “Everything ok?” I asked as he walked over and plopped back in his seat.

“No, not really.” He replied reaching for my coffee cup and stealing a small sip.

“Wanna talk about it?” I asked, really getting concerned.

“Why are you afraid of getting close to me?” He asked with a dead serious stare.

“What?” I replied shaking my head in confusion. “Where’d you get that idea from?”

“Look, I don’t mean to hear your thoughts. It’s really unfair of me to be able to hear things in your head I’m not supposed to. It’s not something I have control of.” He got out as he folded his arms and sat harshly back in his seat.

“What did I think?” I asked shrugging my shoulders. “I don’t think I thought anything bad.” I continued trying desperately to remember what it was I could have thought that would have offended him so much.

“No, it wasn’t something bad, just the opposite.” He replied.

“I don’t get it.” I said, shrugging my shoulders.

“I’m not a kid.” He whined looking at the table. “I really wish you would stop thinking of me as one.”

“Um…” I replied, not even daring to move. “I try not to, really.” After a moment of dead silence, I continued; “What did I think that started this?”

“It’s been a few things.” He replied. “Look, I’m being a baby about all this but, sometimes you forget and everything is cool. Then sometimes you remember and stand off and make me feel bad about what I’m thinking.”

I just sat there with my mouth open and tried to make sense out of what he was saying. “Feel bad about what you’re thinking?” I said scratching my head. “It might help if I knew what you were thinking, so I wouldn’t be thinking stuff that would make you feel bad.” I added, thinking back to try to make sense out of what I just said.

“This is stupid.” Andy said in defeat. “Just sometimes you actually think of me as a 12 year old and it sucks.”

“I’m human.” I replied reaching over and grabbing his hand. “I don’t mean to, I really don’t.”

“If it helps any, I’m older than you.” He said raising his eyebrows.

“How much older?” I asked with a mischievous grin.

“Just older.” He replied quickly.

“That’s no fair.” I said as he got up and hopped back in my lap.

“When you were born, I was twelve.” He said with a grin as he wrapped me in a hug.

“Ok, that just means you are at least 32.” I said with a laugh. “That isn’t exactly an answer.”

“Right.” Andy grinned. “But for now it means if you think of me as a little kid, I can remind you I’m at least 32.”

“Okay.” I said simply giving up. “Are we cool on this now? Can we talk about where it is you plan to drag me tonight?”

“Some place quiet.” Andy said softly in my ear. “Wanna get going?”

“I can’t.” I said with a giggle.

“Why not?” He sat back and stared into my eyes, almost searching for the answer.

“Cause I got this kid in my lap…” I began with a grin, earning a scowl and a “Pfft” for my efforts.

“At least 32.” He said with a pouting expression that faded away into a grin as he got up. “C’mon, let’s go.”

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