How does one who repeatedly takes human life to survive...balance a stable concept of compassion and humanity? Where does one draw the line where morality is concerned? It is an inner vampire turmoil that haunts every soul lost in darkness and it may never be cured.
And yet, thinking back to that one boy on that hill top that night...that one human boy with such a profound sadness in his heart...a painful beauty that truly struck a chord deep within just to look into his emotion packed eyes...
Bryce began to wonder if he had a soul worth saving. Something that this boy could find redeemable. Something that could take him away from all this darkness and death...
...And make him whole again.
"PAYTON!!!" Rocky shouted, grabbing the boy roughly by the shoulders and giggling as Payton tensed up from the shock of it. "Wake up! You look like your mind is drifting away on us again, dude!"
Payton attempted to shift his thoughts away from the troubles at home. He was an expert at not letting his true feelings show on the surface for all to see. He has never been one to wear his heart on his sleeve. And yet...those same disturbing thoughts had a way of slowly creeping back in when he was given a moment for his mind to wander.
As the group of teens walked down the winding road, the path getting darker and darker as they traveled further from the lights of the town festival, the ruckus they were making seemed to be even more invasive to Payton's ears than anything else in town. As though they were disturbing the peace and quiet of the night sky itself.
Still, there was this weird level of comfort in their protective little circle of maniacs. Now being joined by two others, Anoki and Reggie, there was a total number of nine teens among us. Always tight knit. Always traveling in unison as though they were practically handcuffed to one another. But willingly so. Payton was amazed at how quickly he fell into the same habits as they had.
Anoki was quite possibly the most quiet out of the bunch. A Native American boy of about 15 years of age, with shoulder length black hair and silky smooth skin that had been turned a deep shade of gold from the Summer sun. There was no doubt that he was a beautiful boy, but his most enchanting feature was the color his eyes. A light bluish grey tint, unlike anything Payton had ever seen before. Whenever Anoki looked at him, he felt a spot of weakness in the very center of his being, and he was unable to turn away. Payton made sure to avoid Anoki most of the time, as it was harder to keep his sexy little secret when those eyes were staring directly at him. Especially when accompanied by a smile and the display of his soft, boyish, dimples.
Reggie was equally gorgeous, but a bit more obnoxious in the personality department. He's what one would call a compulsive liar. And a liar for no real reason other than it made his personal view of the world more interesting. Reggie was about 14, with spectacular blue eyes that almost seemed to glow in the dark when you looked at them. He had short, bronzed blond locks with a few stray half curled bangs that hung down over his forehead. Reggie, while just as carefree and rambunctious as the rest of the group, had one major issue that he just couldn't seem to get over. He did NOT like being touched. Not by anyone outside of his little family of misfits, anyway. Payton hadn't crossed that barrier yet. He hadn't been adopted. He made the mistake of accidentally bumping into Reggie's shoulder some time during the festival, and the kid nearly flipped out. It wasn't a phobia so much as it was a truly negative reaction to the idea that someone had invaded his personal space. How could someone so incredibly CUTE be so untouchable? That's a real torture for anybody that had to stare at his stunning good looks from afar and fight the incredible temptation to get closer. Touching him is all someone would be able to think about, once he was within arms reach.
Payton watched as Natalia took a hold of Rocky's flask, and took a sip from it. Rocky instantly gave her a nasty look and snatched it back from her. "What the bloody hell do you think you're doing?"
"Chill out! It's not like I gave you cooties or anything. I'm just thirsty." She replied.
"If you're thirsty, I've gotta bladder full of piss for you to sip on, slapper!" He took a healthy swig as the others shared a few giggles between each other. Payton could never really tell if Rocky and Natalia actually hated each other, or if it was just another game that they liked to play to get on each other's nerves. The hostility seemed real enough, but their constant companionship after the fact just made an outspoken rivalry unnecessary.
Murphy suddenly took a firm hold of my arm and pulled me closer. "Don't you go investing any emotion into those two. One of these days they'll duke it out and we'll see what's what. Until then...just enjoy the fireworks from a distance. Yeah?" Payton nodded, but didn't quite understand. For such an inseparable group of teenagers, they didn't seem to display the level of brotherhood that Payton had once expected them to share. Them being so close and all. Sometimes...it was almost as if they had been 'thrown' together at random...forced to tangle their lives with one another against their will. Payton couldn't deny that there was something 'off' about this strange new fellowship of his, but something within him compelled him to turn a blind eye to it all and stay to see what happened next. Perhaps it was the overwhelming feeling of acceptance after such a harsh and judgemental period in his life. Perhaps it was his hormones flying out of control, gazing upon the bodies and faces of the incredibly sexy boys surrounding him. Or maybe it was something else. Maybe it was just the fact that they were all just insane enough to mask and overpower the growing insanity that he felt within his own heart. How abnormal could he be in a group of juvenile delinquents with less to lose than he did by being so outrageous in their behavior? The only limitations they had in this life were the ones that Payton imagined in his own head. If he had revealed those self imposed limitations to his current company...he was almost sure that they would do all they could to break through that barrier and take their actions further than Payton was willing to go. They just had that vibe to them.
Payton thought back to a boy that he knew last year in a juvenile detention center back home. His name was Jeff, and he had been locked up for arson. He was what most people would call the 'rotten apple' in the bunch. Came from a family of six kids, him being the youngest. He was a really cute guy, well built...gorgeous eyes. But he had a dark personality that kept even the closest of friends at arms length at all time. He was one of the only people in the world that Payton would describe as downright evil. Jeff enjoyed the awful things he did. He was convinced that he could do anything he wanted to, and never once feel any guilt, nor would he have to face any of the consequences.
Being adopted into this new family of trouble makers was no different. If anything...the concept was enhanced by their lack of restraint.
Anoki spoke up, his smooth, but slightly higher than normal, boyish voice singing a lullabye softly in my ear. "The old mechanic's station is just down the road. You guys feel like rolling by?"
Reggie said, "Fuck yeah! Let's go!" He exchanged a fist-over-fist pound with Bear as he geared himself up to head out to the old place.
Payton asked, "Wait...you mean the one right off of the road? The old shack with the big fence around it?"
"That's the one." Murphy smiled. "Right under the full moon. Just off the beaten path that you laid out for us tonight, cutie pie."
"You coming?" Rocky asked.
Payton felt as though it was getting a bit late. Knowing that the old shack was closed for the night meant that their visit would only lead to more trouble. After all that his mother has recently been through, another ride home in a police car would pretty much push her over the edge. "You know, it's getting to be kinda dark out here..."
"Funny...I can see just fine." Natalia said with a raised eyebrow. A simple look from her could make someone feel so small sometimes.
"Aren't you worried about getting in trouble with your parents?" Payton asked.
Anoki laughed. "Parents. Riiiiight."
"But...the mechanic must've gone home by now. Isn't it gonna be closed? Like with chains and locked fences and stuff?"
Reggie wrinkled his forehead slightly. "All these questions and more to be answered on the next episode of 'Who Gives A Fuck'? C'mon, let's just GO already. These mosquitoes are seriously pissing me off."
Bear slapped Payton on the back of his shoulders, his massive hand knocking him forward a step and a half. "Don't you go playing chicken on us, now! If you have to think twice about it, then you're not drinking enough to hang with us."
Payton could feel his will collapsing under the crushing power of peer pressure. No matter what, it was always going to be a vote of nine against one. Even when the others disagree, they agree. It was insane.
Payton sighed to himself, his soft brown hair falling down into his eyes as he lowered his head slightly. He had been in this position before. He knew the cost of not listening to the little voice in his head. He didn't need any more trouble...but if he goes with them...he wouldn't have to actually do anything 'bad', would he?
Maybe he could just hang out. Maybe they could teach him to let go and relax.
He looked up slightly to see Murphy giving him a sly grin, beckoning him with just a tilt of his head. And before the words, "Fine, I'll go." could roll off of the tip of his tongue, Rocky was rushing to his side with another brotherly, one armed, hug. He gave Payton a noogie on the top of his head and practically forced the boy to walk forward with the group by practically maintaining a tight headlock on him with his muscular arm.
"I'm thinking I'm gonna like this kid." Rocky smiled, and even though he was still a bit apprehensive about the whole thing...Payton couldn't help but smile.
Good or bad...an adventure was being built here. And Payton was thinking that this is just what he needed...
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