This is a fairly long vampire based Hanson story that I first began writing in the summer of 2001. The vampire mythology used here (which I created years before ever reading Twilight) has nothing to do with the amazing and complex Universe created by Stephenie Meyer, I'm sad to say. Also I don't really believe Taylor Hanson chows down on the necks of fandom fans. Though if any of you disagree, and know how I might reach him to volunteer… Consider yourself disclaimed.


Chapter 28

"How did it go last night? You were out late." Diana asked Zac as he drug himself into the kitchen, wearing the same clothes as the day before and his hair a mess.

"It went pretty good. Ike won the first two games, then I won one. Tay kicked our butts on the last two though." He answered.

Diana smiled, "Good, so you got a good one in on 'em, huh?"

"Yeah." He smiled back, pulling the Cheerios down out of the cabinet. She watched him as he sat down at the table and poured the cereal in the bowl. After a moment or two with nothing said, only the sound of him chewing his breakfast, Diana spoke up.

"So…anything else happen? Was Taylor…you know…the same?" She asked.

"Well," he said, putting his spoon down, "he drank a lot of water, he flirted with the waitress, tipped her way too much by the time the night was over, he bit some guy in the bathroom–you know, just regular stuff."

"What!?" She said, nearly dropping her coffee cup.

"I saw it." He continued to eat while his mother stared at him, her mouth hanging open.

She then leaned over closer and whispered, "What did you see?"

Zac ate the last few bites of his breakfast, then leaned back in his chair. "He had this guy," he said, then he stood up and got behind her putting his face next to hers and his arm across her chest, "like this." Then, he put his lips next to her ear, "Then, he bit him right here." He said, putting his finger on the vein that ran under her skin.

She turned her head and looked into his eyes, "Really?" She gasped.

He sat back down and began to pour a second bowl of cereal–"Yep."

"Oh my God–" she blurted.

"Mom! Watch your language!" he joked.

"I just…oh my." She said.

"You know what, though? The guy was alright afterwards. He was just sorta…groggy or something. It wasn't so bad really, I guess. I was just sorta shocked, 'cause I figured it'd always be girls, y'know?" He said, taking a bite, milk running down his chin.

"Well, what did he do when he saw you? I mean, he didn't take you in there with him, did he?" She said, getting alarmed.

"He told me to get out. And, no, he didn't take me in there with him. He disappeared and me and Ike went to find him." He answered.

"Did Isaac see it, too?" She asked.

"Naw, he was in the ladies room." Zac said.

Again her mouth flew open, "Do I want to know all this?" Then she put her hands over her ears, "Don't tell me anymore!"

"That's about all there is, really. We just thought maybe that was where he went." Zac looked up to see his mother with tears in her eyes, shaking her head. "Mom, don't cry–it's all ok, now. He's back and we're figuring it all out and stuff. We'll make it, don't worry." He said, patting her on the back. She sniffed, then stood up and put her cup in the sink, gazing out the window. For a while, Zac just watched her. Then Isaac and Mr. Jones joined them.

"Hey, Zac." Isaac mumbled, sitting down across from him. Mr. Jones stepped over by the sink and picked up the coffee cup, placing it in the dish washer.

"You don't have to do that–I would've put it in there in a minute." Diana scolded him. Zac and Isaac looked at each other.

"I'm sorry madam, I'm sure you would have. I just find myself with not much to do here, so I try to make myself useful." He said, stepping back from her.

"Well, why don't you go to the museum, or shopping?" She asked.

"Oh no. That is not allowed. Until Master Taylor wakes, I am not to leave this house." He answered.

All three of them just stared at him. Diana spoke at last, "What?"

"I am under the strictest of orders from the Lady Beatriz herself, that he is never to be unattended while sleeping." He stated.

"Why is that?" She asked, her brow furrowed. "It's not like we'd let anything happen to him…"

"I know that, madam. It is just that…well, they are very vulnerable then, and at all times, it is required that one of us be available if something were to happen or if he needed my assistance or if a decision needed to be made, I would be called upon to make it for him." Mr. Jones said quietly, knowing it was a hard thing for her to understand.

"But, we're his parents." She said, looking into his eyes. "That is our son and we've raised him–" she said.

"And you've done a marvelous job." He said back. "He is kind and generous and has made quite an impression on the Lady…not an easy thing to do. I can't tell you how shocked I was when she let him come back to you."

"But, he's ours. He belongs with us. And he should be our responsibility." She said.

Zac and Isaac watched with furrowed brows as their mother questioned the man. Mr. Jones was unaffected by her emotion. "Well, technically, he is no longer human and therefore, no longer your son."

Diana raised her eyebrows and took on a stance that both boys knew meant trouble, "Excuse me?!" She said.

"Your son is dead. The boy you see before you is not the same child you raised. He shares many of the same qualities and of course, he looks nearly identical, but don't ever forget, he is not that person any longer." Diana glared at him and he sighed. "I'm sorry if I sound harsh, but believe me, you'll notice the differences–I just don't want you to be expecting him to be the same." Mr. Jones stated gently.

Diana blinked back tears, then sniffed and stood up straight, "I believe you'll be proven wrong, sir. We'll just see, won't we?" She said, and she marched out of the kitchen, leaving the boys and Mr. Jones looking at each other.

After an awkward moment, Zac spoke up, "How does he do that thing…where he can slam the door and stuff?" He asked the man.

With a furrowed brow, he looked back at Zac, "Pardon, sir? I'm not sure I understand the question."

Zac looked over at Isaac, "He called me 'Sir'…" he chuckled. "Last night, he sat up and the door slammed and I couldn't get out–how does he do that?"

Mr. Jones smiled, then stepped over to the table and began to wipe it down with a dish cloth, "That really is very remarkable. He is the first I have seen either of his sex or his age that could do that." He said, absently polishing the table. He then turned and draped it over the faucet to dry. "The Lady believes him to be very special and seems to have staked a claim on the young master."

Zac laughed as Isaac stood up, "That's ridiculous," he said, "he's a person, not a dog. She can't claim him."

"Oh, but she can–and she has. Publicly. It is possible that that alone will be enough to insure his safety from those who would wish to do him harm. I certainly hope so, anyway."

"Why would someone want to hurt him, anyway?" Zac asked, standing and joining the two.

"Well," Mr. Jones answered, "there are many who would prefer that he did not exist. If humans discovered his vampirism, they would not only want to brand him 'evil' and a threat, but they would want to study him. I myself have done a bit of study on them and they are quite amazing. But, also, there is jealousy from others of his kind. There are always power struggles going on between different clans or groups–and he is definitely a threat to those who seek power. And he has done questionable things that the elders would possibly want his head for–quite literally. And of course, there is the issue involving his being famous. So, you see, he actually has many enemies and her show of power and loyalty to him is necessary if he is to survive."

Both boys just stared at him, letting it all sink in. Isaac spoke, "You're serious?"

"Oh, yes, very serious. Sonya as well." Mr. Jones said as he walked over and looked in the refrigerator.

"She's just a girl, though–what does she have to do with it?" Zac asked.

The man began to organize and inspect the things he saw there and answered very casually, "She is his sire. She is ultimately responsible for him until it is decided that he is mature enough to be on his own." He stood up and leaned on the open door, "He actually has quite a pedigree. Sonya is only a little below the Lady Beatriz in age and stature."

"Is this the same Sonya we met? Grateful Dead T-shirt? Doc Martens? That Sonya?" Zac asked, aghast.

"Oh yes, that would be her." Mr. Jones said, returning to the task at hand, "Do you think your mother would mind if I prepared dinner this evening?" He asked, setting an onion and a green pepper up on the counter.

It took a moment for either of the boys to answer, but Isaac did. "Um, well–I don't know. She might love you for it–but, after that conversation the two of you just had, I wouldn't bet on anything where she's concerned right now."

"Yes, well, she will understand in time. Does your family like beef?" He asked, closing the door and looking up at the pots and pans hanging from the ceiling.


At four o'clock, Zoë decided if she had to take a nap, she was going to take it with Taylor. She grabbed her bear and the flannel blanket her mother had draped over her and she made her way up the stairs to his room. She didn't know why he had to take a nap too now, but she was grateful not to be the only one singled out for such punishment anymore. It really wasn't fair to her to have to go to bed while her brothers and sisters continued to read, or play games or talk on the phone. But, day after day, her mother would tell her it was time for a nap and she was shuffled off into their quiet, darkened bedroom. She came to his door and pushed it open. Inside, the room was even darker than her parents'. Mr. Jones had gone out the night before and bought new blinds and thick curtains for his room. Climbing up on the bed, she looked at her older brother. His eyes were closed and his hand was draped across his stomach. She listened, wondering if he would snore like her father sometimes did, or talk in his sleep like Zac, but he was silent. Satisfied, she scooted up next to him and snuggled her body close, pulling the little blanket up over the both of them. She pulled the bear to her chest, put her thumb in her mouth disgustedly, her last thought before drifting off to sleep being that she couldn't understand how every pacifier she owned had disappeared all on the same fateful day.

When Taylor's eyes opened, he lay there for a moment, trying to remember where he was. The room was very dark, but his unnatural eyesight was coming into focus and he was able to make out photos and other things that told him that he really was back home in his own room. He hadn't just dreamed it. He could feel a weight on his shoulder and he turned his head to see the blonde curls of his baby sister. He smiled as he smelled her scent–baby shampoo and cheerios and apple juice. He could hear her breathing in and out, in perfect rhythm. Carefully, he sat up, holding her to his chest in an attempt to not wake her up. He made his way down the steps and sniffed the air. The smell was tantalizing. Stepping into the kitchen, the bright light there made Zoë bring her hand up to her eyes and nuzzle her face into him. "Tay, honey–" Diana said as she saw him, "was she up there? I thought she was awfully quiet." She reached for her, but Taylor shook his head.

"I got her, it's alright." He said, looking down at the little girl.

Diana smiled, "Ok, it's about time for supper though, so as soon as she wakes up, we need to get her in her chair." He nodded and looked at the table. It was set and there were candles on the table and wine glasses for Isaac and his parents. Mr. Jones walked past him and set a large platter of pepper steak in the center of the table. Taylor's mouth watered as the smell of green peppers and onions rose up from the thick cuts of meat, cooked to perfection. Zac and Isaac filed in, followed closely by Jessica. Avery and Mackenzie came in from the bathroom, hands sparkling and ready to sit at the table. The chattering of her brothers and sisters caused Zoë to stir and she opened her eyes.

Looking up into Taylor's face, she spoke. "Are you waked up now?" She asked.

"Yeah, I'm all waked up." He laughed. She turned her head and looked over at the food, wrinkling up her nose.

"Yuk." She stated, sitting up as Taylor situated her on his hip. "That looks gross."

"It's not gross at all, young lady." Mr. Jones said, placing a large salad on the table.

"Do you want some Spaghettios?" Taylor whispered to her.

She placed her arms around his neck, "Yeah." She whispered back.

"Alright, you sit here." Taylor said, sitting her in her booster seat next to Avery, "And I'll fix you some."

Diana and Walker looked at each other. "Tay," his father said, "you might want to put some clothes on." He smiled.

Taylor had come down the stairs in nothing but an old pair of sweatpants. "Oh, sorry. I didn't want to wake up Zoë." He said, setting the can on the counter.

"Aren't you cold?" Mackenzie said. "It was snowing the other day."

Taylor looked over at his family. They all wore sweaters and long sleeved shirts. Sighing, he turned back to them, "No, actually, I'm not cold." He said, then he continued, placing a bowl in the microwave and setting it for one minute.

He stepped into the hallway and looked in the basket sitting by the laundry room, grabbing a t-shirt. Throwing it on as he walked back in, he heard the microwave announce his sister's meal was ready. He took it out, stirred it and set it in front of her.

"Thanks, Tay." She said.

"You're welcome, babygirl." He said, kissing the top of her head. His father cleared his throat and everyone turned their attention to him. As his father bowed his head and began to say grace, Avery reached up and put her hand in Taylor's. Even though he wasn't a part of the meal, the gesture meant the world to him. He linked his hand in Mackenzie's as well and the circle was complete. As they all said 'Amen', he looked again at the plate of food. "Man, that looks good, Mom." He said.

"Mr. Jones was kind enough to fix dinner tonight, Taylor. So you'll have to give your compliments to him." She said, dishing out some of it onto Avery and Mackenzie's plates.

"Hmmm…" he said, glancing over at the man. He then stuck his finger in Avery's plate and licked it. Then he closed his eyes, savoring the taste.

"You do know that Mylanta is not going to help you, right?" Mr. Jones said.

"I don't care." Taylor retorted, then he turned and headed for the stairs, pouting. Just as he got to the top of the steps, he heard the doorbell ring, but he refused to go back down.

Since Jessica was closest to the door, she was the one to get up from the table. When she opened the door, she was surprised to see Taylor's friend Aaron standing there. "Um, is Taylor here?" He asked quietly.

"Yeah, c'mon in. I'll get him." She said, opening the door for him. He stepped into the living room and flinched as she yelled up the stairs, "Tay! Aaron's here, get your butt down here!" She then smiled sweetly at him and returned to the kitchen, leaving him alone in the room. Within moments, Taylor walked in, followed closely by a man Aaron had never seen.

Taylor's eyes looked cold as he stepped closer to the boy. Nervously, he spoke to him, "Tay, look, I'm sorry about the other night, ok? Charlotte was just acting so weird and I was worried about her and stuff–she's never late, y'know?" Aaron stammered.

Taylor sighed, "Well, she was a little weird…I'm sorry we scared you and stuff. We were just…there were some fans and we were running in the parking lot and she fell…I don't really know what happened. Is she ok now?" He asked.

Aaron ran his hand through his dark hair, "Um, yeah, actually. She has a big knot on the back of her head, but she's alright." He grinned.

"Well, I always knew she was a knot-head." Taylor laughed.

Aaron smiled, "Yeah." He then looked over Taylor's shoulder at the man who stood watching them, "Uh, who's the stiff?" He whispered to Taylor.

Taylor twisted his head around and looked at Mr. Jones, "Oh, that's Mr. Jones, he's the, um, new tour co-coordinator guy." He answered.

"Oh. What happened to the lady that used to do it?" Aaron asked, his brow furrowed.

"She quit." Taylor answered, wanting to change the subject before his friend asked him more questions than he could think up answers to.

"Oh, ok. Well, me and the guys were wondering, if you weren't busy and stuff, if you wanted to go catch a flick tonight. We didn't end up seeing one the other night–Charlotte was too messed up." Aaron said.

Taylor raised his eyebrows, "Uh, well, when does it start?" He asked.

"Well, if we're gonna get the matinee price, it's gotta be soon. We were thinking the 5:45 over at the cinemas on 57th." Aaron answered.

Behind him, Taylor heard Mr. Jones clear his throat. "That sounds good–let me just change my clothes real quick." He said, turning and rushing past the man and bounding up the stairs. Aaron looked up at the man, thinking he was a little creepy. When Taylor returned, he was wearing his usual jeans and a T-shirt.

"Don't you have something you need to do this evening…Taylor?" Mr. Jones said.

Taylor turned and looked at the man, "Yes, but I'm sure I can fit it in after the movie, Mr. Jones. Alright?" He stood looking at him, telling him with his eyes that he was crossing the line.

"Very well, be careful." He answered with a sigh. Taylor opened the front door and started out.

"Um, Tay–it's really cold out, don't you want a jacket?" Aaron asked.

"Oh, yeah." He said, and he went back to the closet and pulled out a leather jacket, getting one last look from Mr. Jones. "Chill out, man." He said, then he stopped, "MOM! I'm leaving! See ya later!" He yelled, then he ran out the door with Aaron following behind. Mr. Jones looked at the empty room and shook his head, then went back into the kitchen to finish his dinner.


At 5:40, Taylor found himself in the lobby of a movie theatre, being greeted by his friends and feeling very tired. The sun was still letting him know it wasn't exactly gone from the darkened sky yet. Taking a deep breath, he smiled at them all and attempted to answer their questions coherently. Aaron pressed a twenty dollar bill into his hand and instructed him to get popcorn and drinks for everyone while he purchased the tickets. They'd picked up Charlotte as soon as they had left Taylor's house and other than her not being able to keep her eyes off Taylor, everything had gone swimmingly. He looked back at her now, standing next to Aaron, her hand in his and her eyes firmly on Taylor. Ordering four large popcorns and four large drinks, Taylor turned and looked around the lobby. The smell of popcorn was heavy and it was all he could do not to shove handfuls of it in his mouth. He paid the girl, having to add some of his own money to it, then turned to join the others. As he passed out the food to them, Aaron looked at him, questioning, "Damn, Tay–did you forget something?" He asked.

Taylor looked around, then back to him, "I don't think so."

"You didn't get anything for yourself, dude." He grinned, "You know it's the only reason you even go to movies, is for the popcorn." He said, and he offered some to him.

"Oh, no thanks man. I'm not hungry." Taylor said back, but it was far from the truth. He'd fed the night before, but with Zac watching him, he'd stopped before really taking all he'd needed. He'd chosen a man on purpose because he knew he could take more. And now, at a very inopportune moment, the hunger was hitting him again.

"Not hungry?" Aaron said, "Oh yeah, wouldn't want to lose that girlish figure!" They all laughed and Taylor just shook his head as they went into the theatre, the previews already having started. As they sat down, Taylor lay his head back on the seat, letting the darkness envelop him. Feeling her eyes on him, he wondered if he should do something to break the spell he seemed to have cast over Charlotte. Perhaps if he'd been able to finish what he was doing the other night, she would have just thought she'd dreamed about him or something of that nature. As the movie started, the chatter stopped and all he could hear was the sound of people around him eating. He could smell the salty, buttery popcorn and chocolate candy. Closing his eyes, he attempted to tune it out, listening to the music that played as the opening credits flashed on the screen. By the time the movie was half over, Taylor was beginning to hear the heartbeats of those around him and smell the perspiration produced by living bodies. Beside him, his friend Jon shifted and Taylor looked over at him, noticing the pulsing vein in his neck. Boys were almost worse to look at for him than girls because of that. Girls had them, but they didn't stand out like that. Rolling his eyes, he turned his attention back to the screen, but it didn't take long for him to tire of the overdone plot of the movie and he allowed his eyes to turn to the other side. Aaron's eyes were glued to the screen, the light flickering off the shiny surface and his mouth slightly open as he concentrated on what was happening there. On the other side of him was Charlotte, her head laying on her boyfriend's shoulder, her hand stroking her throat absently as she smiled at something funny in the movie. Her legs were crossed at the knee and she swung her foot back and forth. Finally, he could take no more and Taylor leaned over towards Aaron, "Hey, man. I gotta go take a piss, let me out." Aaron obliged and soon Taylor found himself leaning up against the wall in the lobby, trying to calm the hunger he was feeling. Stepping up to the concession stand, he ordered a bottle of water and drank half of it down before the girl at the counter could give him his change back. Tipping it up again, he stepped over to the water fountain between the restrooms and filled it back up to the top. Twice, he filled it up and twice he drank it down, praying to just be able to hold himself together until the movie was over and he could make his excuses and go home, stopping somewhere on the way for what he knew he really needed. Feeling his hunger subside for a moment, he glanced at his reflection in the chrome of the fountain. His eyes were beginning to darken and his skin was very pale. For a moment, he was considering just calling a cab and ducking out on his friends, but then he looked up to see Charlotte walking towards him.

"Taylor, are you alright?" She asked, her eyes gazing into his.

Sighing, he returned her look. "Yeah, are you?" He said, touching the back of her head.

"Yeah, I had a killer headache yesterday, but I think it's about gone now." She said softly. For a moment, they just looked at each other. He wondered if he kissed her, a very wet long kiss, if it would make her heal completely. But the look in her eyes made him think better of it. She was confused and needing something from him that she didn't understand. "Taylor, I…"

"Ssshh…" he said, not wanting her to say anything. For a moment, she just looked at him with an incredible sense of longing that he could feel. "Look, Charlotte, I'm really sorry about the other night. I don't really know what happened, but…I guess I'm glad you're with Aaron, y'know? He's a great guy and he obviously really cares about you. And I never could manage to be there for ya." He looked away from her, trying to decide how to go about making someone forget about him–it was the opposite of what he was usually trying to accomplish. When he turned back, Aaron was stepping up to them.

"Hey, Tay," he said looking at his friend, "you don't really look too good, are you alright? The movie kinda sucks, I can take you home now if you want." He said, putting his arm around Charlotte.

Taylor hated the way they were looking at him. Like he was sick or something. But he understood, he looked sick. "Naw, that's alright. I called a cab a minute ago." He lied.

Aaron stepped away from Charlotte and put his arm around Taylor's neck, "Look, man–I don't know what happened. I heard all kinds of stuff, hell, I even called your Grandma and she told me you were dead." He said quietly, and then he hugged him closer, "Are you sick, or is there something else really wrong? Whatever it is, you can tell me…" he said into Taylor's ear.

Looking up, he saw tears running down Charlotte's cheeks as she watched the two boys she loved. She may have been over Taylor technically, having moved on, but she would never stop loving him. They'd been friends too long. Taylor turned his eyes to Aaron's. Not only were they having a very personal moment in a very public place, but Taylor couldn't help but feel the blood coursing through his best friends arm that was around his neck and smell every little familiar scent on the boy, triggering years worth of memories they'd shared. He felt his eyes well up with emotion, knowing this would more than likely be the last time he enjoyed the boy's companionship. He knew it was too risky and he'd definitely crossed a line with Charlotte that he shouldn't have. He'd have to leave her behind as well. Finally, he pulled away and sniffed, "It's not really somethin' I can talk about, Aaron." He said, pulling his shirt up and wiping his face. Before the boy could say anything more, he stepped backwards away from the two of them, "I'm really glad you guys got together." He smiled. He then looked down at his watch, "Oh, the cab people said they'd be here–I better go. Thanks–um, sorry I ruined the movie for ya, if you hurry you can catch the rest of it!" He then spun away from them and practically ran out the door into the cold, darkness of the parking lot, praying they wouldn't follow him. Immediately, he ducked into the shadows at the side of the building to pull himself together. He could feel the ache as his teeth prepared to turn into fangs and he cursed himself for wanting to feed so badly right then. Silently, he watched people come and go in the lot, some running because they were late, others moseying along being on first dates or just better organized than he and his friends and his brothers. He'd never gotten anywhere early. He leaned back against the cold building trying to decide if he should call Isaac and get him to come and pick him up, or if he should just run home. It was probably about five miles, nothing he couldn't handle, but he just didn't really want to be alone at that moment. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out his cell phone and dialed his home. His father answered on the second ring. "Um, Dad?" He said, "Can I talk to Ike?"

"He went over to Kelly's house. Are you alright? What's wrong?" Walker asked, knowing by the tone of his son's voice that something had happened.

It took a moment for Taylor to answer, "Nothing–I just didn't like the movie."

His father knew it was more than that, but he figured if Taylor wanted to tell him about it, he would. "Did you take Aaron's car?" He asked.

"Yeah." Taylor answered.

"I'll be right there–where are you?" He asked, taking his car keys out of his pocket.

"On 57th." Taylor said quietly.

"Alright. See ya in a few, ok?" his father said gently.

"Ok, Dad. Thanks." He said, ending the call. He looked down at his watch again, knowing the movie still had a half an hour or so. It would probably take his father about fifteen or twenty minutes to get there. Looking out over the parking lot, he saw a few trees here and there at the edges of the lot. Making his way over to one, he pressed himself up against it and waited, knowing the next movie times were coming up and that he should easily be able to pick off someone going past him. He was rewarded quickly with a woman, perhaps in her thirties, busy looking in her purse as she walked past. His eyesight had sharpened as he stood motionless in the darkness surrounding the tree, it's branches blocking out the lights in the lot. When he put his arm around her neck and his hand over her mouth, she dropped the purse to the ground as he pulled her back to his hiding place. A reassuring whisper later and an intense moment as their eyes met was all it took for him to end her struggling, but he was actually thankful for her fear as her adrenaline rush had caused her blood to rush through her veins and into his mouth as his sharp canines punctured the soft skin of her throat. He felt his eyes roll up into his head as he tasted the salty, warm liquid rushing past his tongue and down his throat. He never took his hand away from her mouth, but she didn't appear to be trying to scream. Over and over in her mind he told her it would be alright and by the time he was finished, she believed him. Very gently, he leaned her up against the tree and he picked up her purse and sat it beside her. Before he left, he pulled her coat together over her chest and buttoned the top button. As he walked away, he looked back at her. Her eyes were open, but they looked very heavy. Another look at his watch told him at least a couple movies would be over in the next few minutes, and that someone would find her there soon. Trotting to the side door of the theatre, he waited in the same place his father had dropped he and his brothers off to see movies countless times before. He didn't have to wait long as he saw him pull up in his car. Getting in, he looked over at his father, hoping he couldn't tell what he'd just done.

"Hey Buddy, are you alright?" Walker asked, looking at his son's face.

"Yeah…" Taylor answered, but he really didn't feel alright. As much as he wanted to just continue his life the way he always had, he knew now that it was impossible. He knew that as soon as his friends left the theatre, they'd go to McDonald's. After that, perhaps head to a party and down a few beers. All things he could no longer participate in. Already they believed he was messed up–what would happen if they saw him grow fangs or watched his eyes reflect back at them? Perhaps if Sonya or Beatriz were able to teach him how to put some sort of image in their mind–to make them think they saw things they hadn't. Perhaps then, he could be friends with them again.

His father broke into his thoughts, "What happened? Did something happen with your friends?"

Taylor sighed, "No…it's just…I was getting hungry and everybody was eating and stuff. And Charlotte was there and her and Aaron are dating now and I just don't know if I can handle it all." He looked up at his father, "And the way they look at me, Dad…I mean, do I really look that different? They all act like I'm gonna break or something." He laughed, but it was bitter, "If they only knew…"

"Taylor," his father said, "everyone, including Aaron and Charlotte and everybody else we know—they were all told that you were dead. We were told you were dead. We had contacted a funeral home, we'd purchased a casket Tay. I can't begin to tell you what that was like…it was…indescribable." Walker shook his head. "And then, we're told it was all a mistake, and yet–your fans had proof. It was all right there. And Avery saw it happen. She knew it was true, but they were telling us it didn't happen. I don't think we'll ever get over this–every time me or your mother or your brothers looks at you, it's like a miracle."

Taylor watched the emotions play across his father's face. His family hadn't said much about what had gone on in those three days that he was missing, but he could see now, it must have been hell for them. "Dad, I'm so sorry–"

"Taylor, it's nothing you did! There's nothing you can do about it! I don't believe God would allow something like this if it was some evil thing. I know it's something we can't understand, but all you can do is live the best you can with it. Don't become like the ones that did this to you. Be very careful about what you do–this is people's lives here. I believe this was meant to be and it wouldn't have happened to you if you weren't able to take it. Maybe there's a reason. I know you've heard me say it a million times, but God works in mysterious ways, son."

With those words of wisdom going through his mind, Taylor rode the rest of the way home wondering what God could possibly have in mind for him. As his father turned off the engine, Taylor reached over and gave his father a hug, "I'm still sorry, Dad. I'm sorry you and Mom had to go through that."

Walker smiled at him, "I am too, but I'm so glad to have you back, that I almost think it was worth it. I love you so much and I'm just so glad to have the chance to tell you that. Now," he took a deep breath, "are you home for the night?"

"Yeah." Taylor answered.

"Good, 'cause your mother's got everybody cleaning the house up for Thursday." He said.

"Aren't we going to Grandma's?" Taylor asked, getting out of the car.

Walker smiled, "Nope, they all decided it would be easier on us if they all came to our house this time. Since you've been sick and all." He answered.

"Hmmm, that's kind of silly." Taylor said.

"Yes, well, that's family for you." Walker chuckled as they went in the back door and into the storm.


Mr. Jones woke with a start. Standing over his bed was Taylor. At least the silhouette made him believe it was Taylor. He sat up and rubbed his eyes, "What is it?" He asked the boy. "Are you ill? I knew you shouldn't have ingested any of that gravy– "

"I'm not sick." Taylor answered quietly.

Mr. Jones reached over and turned on the little lamp beside the bed, illuminating Taylor's face. "Well, then, what can I do for you, sir?" He said, pulling the covers off and preparing to get out of bed.

"Stop, I don't need anything from you. Just…stay there." Taylor answered. For a moment, his mind registered fear as he looked at the boy's face. He hoped he wasn't about to become a midnight snack. All the others knew better, but Taylor he wasn't sure of. He knew he didn't always show the best judgment. "What's your name?" Taylor asked quietly.

"My name is Mr. Jones." He answered.

Taylor smiled, "I knew you were gonna say that." He sighed, then spoke again. "What happens to them after we bite them?" He asked.

"Well, it all depends. If you don't take too much and they are healthy to begin with, they walk away." He answered.

"What if they're not healthy? What if their blood is…messed up in some way? Will it hurt us, or them?" Taylor asked, his eyes intensely looking into Mr. Jones'.

"Taylor, you're disease is communicable. Your bodily fluids–all of them–carry those enzymes and such that make you what you are. In some ways, you help them when you do that. Especially if you share your saliva. They probably feel pretty good the next day. Chances are, if they had a cold, it may be gone. On the other hand, if they have some disorder of the blood or are weak to begin with, it could be very detrimental to them to lose blood in that fashion. If you sense in any way that there is some different quality to the blood, in taste or feel–I would recommend that you stop feeding. Does that answer your question?"

"Um, yeah." He said. "Well, what about us? Does it hurt us?" Taylor asked.

"Oh no. As far as I know, you cannot be affected by their diseases or disorders. Perhaps if they had consumed a huge quantity of drugs or alcohol, it may give you the slightest bit of that feeling. That can vary from person to person–there are some who purposely feed on addicts for that reason. But, I believe that is probably mostly in their minds, it's not real." He smiled, "They probably just like the taste of sugar in the blood. Ho-ho's and such." He laughed at his joke. Taylor just looked at him, one eyebrow raised. "No one ever gets my humor." He said sadly. Taylor just shook his head, not saying anything else, but not leaving. "Alright. Well, it's getting late Master Taylor, almost time for you to retire–"

"Do you have Beatriz' phone number?" Taylor blurted, "Or Sonya's?"

The man smiled, "Yes, of course. At the moment, their numbers are one and the same. Here you go." He said, reaching in the drawer and pulling out his wallet. He handed Taylor a business card with his name and a phone number. "That should get you to one of them, if you hurry." He said, looking at the clock. "Don't forget it is a little later there."

Taylor looked at the man, a blush moving down his face, "Thanks." He stood up and started out the door, then turned back, "How come you won't tell me your name?" He asked.

The man smirked, "I'm not as dumb as I look, Master." He answered.

Taylor smiled back for a moment. "Would you please stop calling me that?"

Turning over and pulling up the covers, he answered, "No. Now go away, please. I have to get up early, unlike some people."

Taylor rolled his eyes and stepped out into the quiet hallway and made his way back to his room.


Camille yawned and switched off the television, then hit stop on the VCR. Another night was ending for her and she was about to go to bed, but the ringing of the phone stopped her. She waited for a moment to see if Beatriz would pick it up, but she didn't. "Hello?" She said, hoping it wasn't one of those old farts who sometimes wanted to speak to Beatriz.

"Hey. Um, Camille?" Taylor spoke.

"Oh my God! Taylor! How are you?!" She said brightly, plopping back down on the couch. A few days without him had taken a toll on her already. As he filled her in on what he'd been doing, her heart swelled. Just the sound of his voice warmed her and put her in a wonderful mood. She'd been counting the days until she went to Chicago to join him again. Her bags had been packed since the evening he left.

When Beatriz stepped into the room, she stopped, seeing the girl lying back on the couch, her feet up on the arm and her fingers twirling in her hair as she cradled the phone as if it were a precious thing. She shook her head, then went on past to her desk where she began to look for some papers she needed. Her curiosity finally got the best of her. Camille hadn't cracked a smile in days and now she was giggling like a school girl, her face flushed and her eyes sparkling. She moved in front of the girl. "Who is that, as if I didn't know." She said.

She was met with a glare, "It's Taylor." She mouthed. Then she turned away a bit, leaving no doubt in Beatriz' mind that she was unwelcome at that moment. Smiling, she turned away and went back to her own room.

As she lay in bed, having given up on work as the sun was very soon about to make it's appearance, she looked up to see Camille, handing her the phone and looking about to pass out. Once she'd taken it, she expected the girl to leave, but she just curled up on the foot of the bed, immediately asleep. Rolling her eyes, she held the phone up to her ear, "Hola, Taylor!" She said. "Did Camille fall asleep on you?"

"Well, I'm not far behind her." He answered.

"I can imagine." She said. "How have you been? You've been feeding haven't you?" She asked, leaning back into the pillows.

A sigh on the other end of the line, "Yes, ma'am, I've been eating my Wheaties."

"Wheaties?" She asked.

"God. You know, you really need to watch more television, Beatriz." He answered smugly.

"And you need to watch less." She retorted. For a moment, they both sat there in silence.

Finally, he spoke, "So…are you missing me?" He asked.

"You know I am." She smiled, "No one has called me a 'bitch' in days." She said with a pout in her voice.

"Oh, you know I'm sorry about that." He said feeling guilty. "Are you ever going to forgive me for that?"

"Hmmm…" she teased. "I'm sure you can make it up to me somehow…" And that was how the conversation went for the next few minutes. He found the sound of her voice comforting and soon he found himself drifting. "Taylor," she said, "I think it's time for beddy-bye." She said.

"Yeah," he yawned, "but I didn't get to talk to Sonya yet." He mumbled.

"Sonya is still out and about. I expect her very soon though, I'll tell her you said 'hello', alright?" She said, knowing he wouldn't have the strength to talk another moment anyway.

"Ok. Good night." He said.

"Good night, Taylor." She said with a grin. She wondered how long it would take him to realize 'good night' was not exactly what people said to each other at sunrise. She heard a click on the other line and she knew he was gone.