Author's notes: After, like, three months of hiatus, here it is! Chapter THREE! All done, pretty and polished. This is not, by the way, the end. I'm thinking maybe five chapters in all. But you can read it as the end if you wish; this doesn't leave too many things untied. I've also been thinking about writing a Jinx fic, just about his past. Just because Jinx is god-awful fun to write for. By the way, while, as above, this is NOT the end of the fic (I hope) it may be all you see of it for a while, unless I get a mass influx of reviews. I'm awfully lazy. But I really, truly love this story.

Pronunciation Notes: Jinx pronounces Kit's name Keet-soon, or Keet. Alan and anyone else who says Kit's name pronounce it Kit or Kit-Soon. Jinx's pronunciation is the correct one.

Jeremy

"I dunno, man." Crusher spoke up quietly, and all eyes turned to him. I rubbed my forehead in annoyance. The smell of weed was starting to get to me. Or maybe it was just the company. It was almost midnight, and I was still stuck in this meeting. "Yeah, man. I mean, what if we get caught?" That was K.C., Crusher's little puppy dog. He was afraid to pee unless Crusher told him it was ok. I hate the little coward. "K.C, shut up. What're you, scared or something?" I turn my attention away from K.C, who's too busy stuttering out some disclaimer to even notice, and look at Crusher. It's pretty easy to see why he's nicknamed Crusher. Six two, and muscles like a rock. He's my main man, my second, you could say, and so I normally listen when he talks. Not as cool-headed as Alan, nor as smart, but you can't ask for too much.

"What don't you know about, Crush?" I ask, cool, casual. My arm around my girl, Carrie. She's a real pretty piece of work, natural blonde hair, and these real nice blue eyes. Not too much up there, but I don't really care. Makes her easier to handle. My joint in my hand, wafting smoke that stings my eyes. I hate this crap, but I have to go through the motions. "I hate to say it, man, but K.C's got a point. This kind of stuff is assault and that's jail. I don't know about you, man, but I heard the stories like the rest of y'all, and I don't aim to get my ass stuck in jail." I nod like I'm considering Crusher's point. Really, all I'm thinking about is how to show him there's no risk. The problem is, Crush is right. We've all pushed the line here and we aren't going to end up in no Juvie. But I want to get this boy bad, bad enough that I don't care what happens. Now to convince the others, and I think I've got a foolproof plan.

"Crusher, my man, you got a point. We get caught, we're in trouble. If we get caught." I pause, watching the room and Crusher speaks up again. "You got a plan to keep us outta trouble, Jerry?" His voice is cautiously interested now, and all eyes in the room turn to me. Even Carrie looks interested. "Look, the way I figure it, we catch him alone, some dark night, and we teach him a lesson. A good, solid lesson." Someone snorts and I look up, searching the room. Leaning against the doorway is Jason, the moonlight just catching the edges of his blonde hair. Jason isn't in high school anymore, but he's as solid as his brother, and we exchange nods of greeting. He led the pack before me, and we've still got a relationship based on respect. After all, the pack isn't so much a gang as a brotherhood. "Hey, Jase. Nice to see you around, man." He grins at me and I hear Carrie sigh softly. Jason always did have good luck with girls. "Yeah. But if that's your plan, Jeremy then I think I ought to take over again. What, you think, he's going to run into you some dark night? Just for fun?" His grin remains, but now those blue eyes are as hard as ice. Well, I'll show him.

"You didn't hear the rest." I know it sounds childish, but I can't resist saying it. He raises an eyebrow and motions me to continue. "I've been doing a bit of…what do they call that crap they do in spy movies?" I inhale the smoke deeply, not choking from long habit. "Reconnaissance." Somebody calls out and I nod. "Yeah, that's it. Checking up on the little fag." Someone makes a rude suggestion and I shoot him the finger. I reach over behind me, and grab the photos, holding them up. I've been planning this for longer than anyone knows, and it makes me feel good to see their eyes widen as they realize where these were taken. Some of them have the fag… Kit, his name is Kit… sitting in a tree, or leaning against a door. Other's are just the yard. But every single one of them is in Kit's backyard.

Jason sweeps forward. "Nice work, man. Very nice." I try not to swell with pride, and just nod, but it's hard. Jase is sort of a legacy and he doesn't give out compliments very often. "Yeah, well… he goes outside almost every night. I figure we just watch his house and catch him outside, stifle him and… boom. It's over with. We trash him and leave him, blow the place in our getaway car and act like it never happened. It's foolproof, as long as we keep him silent." The others are nodding now, because they know I'm right. Even Jason in grinning. My heart beats with exhilaration and victory. We were really, finally gonna do this. Take that, trash! "Yeah. Yeah, I think Jerry's got a damned good plan. Count me in on this." I start and stare at Jason, who grins and winks at me. "We agreed, then boys?" I sweep the room with my eyes. We're united, against the world. Just us against the world.

I catch Jason after the meeting. "Is your brother gonna be in on this?" I ask him, as the other's file out, laughing and talking, grinding joints out before or after they leave. He raises a blonde eyebrow at me. "I dunno. I think he's got a girl he's sorta into." He says, his voice dismissive. A lot of things suddenly click into place. That might be why Alan's been so distant lately, though I never thought he was the type to let a girl get to him or control him. Still, you can never tell with some guys. "Huh. He'd better not spend too much time with girls or he'll end up a fag." The words are as natural as breathing, and it's just a teasing insult. But before I can breathe, hands grab my shoulders and I'm against the wall, fingers tightening on my shoulders in a bruising grip. Deep blue eyes stare at me, cold and hard, and my heart is racing with fear. "Don't you say that shit about my brother." Jason's voice is emotionless, but his eyes bore into me. "I was just kidding…hey… you know I'm cool with Alan. I was just kidding." He lets me go, shoving me back hard enough to make me gasp. "Keep your mouth off my brother, Jerry. I mean it." Jason's gone before I can so much as blink and I hear, distantly, his car starting. I'm left alone, gasping slightly and wondering what the hell that was about.

KIT/Alan

"Kit! Yo!" Kit blinked out of his thoughts and stopped to look behind him as he walked up the stairs that led to the schools entrance. Alan grinned and waved at him from the bottom of the steps, wearing his leather jacket and a black muscle shirt underneath. "I thought for a second you might not have heard me." Alan said, taking the stairs two at a time to stand next to Kit. Alan's presence made Kit feel suddenly shy and he shrugged, blushing a bit. "Sorry, I was thinking." The other's boy's grin vanished to whence it came. "I know the feeling. I've been doing a lot of that lately." Alan replied slowly. Kit raised an eyebrow, Jinx-like. "About what?" He asked slowly, his green eyes fixed on Alan's blue ones. Alan felt uncomfortable, pulling at the edges of his jacket sleeve. "A lot of things. Jeremy, for one." He wondered, privately, how much he should tell Kit about his redheaded adversary. He didn't want to scare the seemingly fragile boy, but he did want Kit to know the truth.

Kit nodded. "I've thought a lot about him too. But there's really not very much we can do about him, is there?" He asked. He still looked scared, but it was not the terror/anger/pain of yesterday, something Alan was grateful for. He wasn't entirely sure he could stand a repeat of Kit crying. "No. But I think you should know some things about him…. Do you want to find somewhere to talk?" Let him say yes… Please let him say yes… Kit paused and then nodded a quick affirmative. "There's a field behind the school that no one ever uses. How's that?" He asked slowly. Alan blinked. The thought of being alone with Kit… "Umm…sure. That's great." Kit beamed at him. "All right. Come on them." With all the speed of youth, he took off, leaving Alan laughingly jogging in his wake. It looked to be a good day.

The field was too flat for couples looking to make out, and so when they walked onto it, they were alone. Kit wished, mentally, that he could take Alan's hand in his. As if they were a couple. But they weren't, he reminded himself angrily, and shoved his fingers into his pocket. Kit found a spot in the soft grass, and tossed himself down lazily, with a grace Alan had to admire. "So talk." He said, sliding a stem of grass into his mouth, and chewing. Alan sat down slowly, trying to figure out where to begin. Begin at the beginning, and when you get to the end, stop. "I've know Jeremy for… a long time. We used to hang together, back when we were kids." Alan looked at Kit closely, and relaxed when he found no hint of disgust or distaste in his eyes. Looks like that didn't faze him much. He's tougher than I give him credit for. "We were friends, of a sort. I mean, in my neighborhood, everyone sort of hung out together… did the same things, and such." Kit's expression did shift at this, but at least it was not outright condemnation. He folded his fingers and stared at Alan with such an inscrutable expression that the other boy looked away. "Well… I was probably ten when Jeremy started getting uglier than the rest of us. I mean… a lot of my old friends had joined gangs, by that time, or were starting to hang with pretty tough crowds. But Jerry went beyond that. He disappeared for days at a time, and came back smelling like weed, and with his head shaved. He'd talk about hurting the fags, or the niggers, or the Asians, wearing white pride t-shirts all the time. I mean, we all talked like that…" He flinched, remembering saying some of those ugly things himself.

"But Jerry meant it. He was eleven when he really got dangerous." The memory brought back a lot of things he had wanted to forget. He jerked stems of grass out of the musty earth, barely aware of his actions, his fingers tearing at the black loam. "There was this kid that hung with us… thirteen, or fourteen, something like that. He was black, but his big brother ran with The Bloods, so nobody messed with him much. He was pretty tough, so we all thought Jeremy was going to get himself killed when he started calling the kid names." He could see it in his mind, skinny little red-headed Jeremy an inch or two shorter than a tall black kid with bulging muscles, mouthing off with all sort's of crap. He'd thought for sure the other boy was going to trash Jerry. "So Jeremy just stands there, taunting this guy and the kid comes swinging for him. Hell, we all thought it was over then and there. But Jeremy wasn't there. I mean, every time this kid swung at him, Jeremy just jumped aside. And then he started hitting this guy. Hard and fast, not karate-like, or nothing, just one angry blow after another. Then he slams his fist into the guy's face, and…" He felt sick, sick to his stomach. He could still remember the crack of something, the blood trickling down the guy's face, and the grin, the pleased, satisfied grin on Jeremy's face. "Before we know it, the black kid's on the ground, howling and bleeding. And Jeremy just stands there, grinning like hell. Then he walks up and starts kicking this guy. Kicking him hard, hitting him, and cursing at him. Screaming that no nigger was going to get the better of him, and that that was what the kid deserved. We had to haul him out of there by force, and he didn't look…sane. Right. Like he really, truly wanted to kill the kid for no other reason than because he was black. I'll tell you right now, I've seen a helluva lot of tough characters in my life, but Jeremy's something else."

Alan chanced a glance at Kit, and saw that the boy's face was pale. Oops. Did I overdo it? But Kit stared into Alan's eyes, and finally broke into a slight, trembling smile. Trembling, but real nevertheless. "Well. At least I've been forewarned, hey?" He asked, softly. Alan grinned back, but inwardly, he was worried for Kit. He hadn't want to think about it, before, but Jeremy was obsessed. He was a fanatic, and fanatics were unpredictable at best. He knew only luck and lack of opportunity had prevented Jeremy from being a murderer, though it wasn't something he liked to think about either. That a boy he had raced home had become that far gone…. Why him? Why him and not me? Could I have been like him? As the silence wore on, out in the open field, Alan felt the ghost of fear drift over him, a hovering shade at his back, making him doubt everything around him. Including himself.

"Alan?" He glanced at Kit, having almost forgotten the other boy's presence. "Hmm?" He asked, slowly, fiddling with a strand of blonde hair. "…Jinx is taking me camping this weekend. Um… would you like to come along? I mean, Jinx considers staring at the sky for hours enjoyable. I'd rather have a friend along…" Kit tried not to sound tremulous, but… he hoped Alan really did consider him a friend. It was a gamble, but he had to ask. Oh, well. No shame in asking… but what if he thinks I'm trying to make a move on him?! God, what if I am putting a move on him? I mean, he's really, really cute… but I just meant to ask him as a friend! I don't have anyone in this school I'm really that close too, and I meant what I said, about Jinx. All my other friends are more like acquaintances. Nice enough people… but I'd feel silly asking them. I know Alan's fun to hang out with, and he knows how to have a good time.

While Kit sat in silent agony, wondering what Alan would say, and getting more and more nervous as time passed, Alan's brain lay stunned in shock. God… going camping? With Kit…His mind didn't seem to be able to function properly, as it ran through this concept for a few seconds. "Jinx won't mind?" He asked, unable to think of anything else to say. Kit shook his head with a grin. "Nah. I think he likes you. Besides, he's always on me to make more friends. He says I'm 'more social than he ever was and I need people.' Whatever that means. You…you don't have to come if you don't want to, you know." The last part of that was such a change in subject that Alan blinked and then grinned at Kit. God, is he as nervous as I am? You'd never be able to tell, through that happy go-lucky-façade…but I think he is! Huh. Who would've figured? Well, at least it makes it easier. "Of course I'd be glad to go! Up by the lake, right? I know lots of spots we can get into. Like, there's this great big abandoned factory and this wheat field full of rocks…" Alan gestured, describing, making some of his stories so fanciful that Kit couldn't help laughing, the warm spring air filled with the sound of friendly laughter and voices talking in friendship.

The bell split the air just as Alan finished his story about Rudy and the ghost tractor. Kit wiped tears from his eyes, and glanced at his watch. "Oh, shoot…. Look, I've got to run or I'll be late….see you around, ok? And…thanks, Alan!" Kit shot Alan a shy smile that cut right to his heart, and with that, he was gone, a mere black speck in the distance, racing for the building. Alan watched him go fondly and only when Kit was completely out of sight did he realize that he, too, had to get back to class.

KIT/ Jeremy

He said yes. He said yes. He's coming camping with us. For the whole weekend. He said YES. He knows what I am, he must, from what he said about Jeremy, and he doesn't hate me, he doesn't think gayness is contagious, he said yes. Kit knew, now, what the phrase 'on cloud nine' meant. He felt light, and happy and springy. Giggling softly, he broke into a sprinting run, laughing his head off. It felt good to run, to feel his feet pound the earth, to feel his body move in rhythm. He laughed and twirled his arms around into the air, twirling his way around the corner and felt a body bump into his. "Hey, watch it!" The other person snapped, barely looking up at him. He blushed, hoping furiously it was no one he knew. If they'd seen him acting like a fool…. He turned his deep green eyes to meet light green ones, wide with shock. Jeremy stared at him as he stared back, his heart beating hard in his chest.

I didn't know what he was doing out there. I'd come out behind the school to smoke a little and maybe cut first. But God must've been on my side that day, because it was him all right, from his girl-pretty features to the scared expression on his face. I wonder if he's heard about me. Whatever the reason, though, I took my opportunity. I had him against the wall in a second. He tried to run but too late and too slow. I was always quicker, faster, better. My fists slammed into him, his sides, and his face as he howled and twisted and cried. Take that, faggot, from a real man! Damnit, take that!

"Hey! You there!" Coach Trent had heard that some of the boy's who got high used this place to hide their activities, and he'd headed out to pound some sense into young heads. But this was not what he expected to see. The pale boy with startlingly red hair stared up at him, surprise plain on his face. His victim, a bruised boy with curly black hair, was trying helplessly to protect himself with his arms. "Hey, you get off of him!" The red-head obliged happily, kicking one last time at his victim, then taking off running.

But Trent hadn't played all those years of college football for nothing. He slammed himself forward, running haphazard after the young perpetrator as he dodged past garbage bins and around the school. The boy was coughing heavily, labeling him a smoker, and as he stumbled, Trent grabbed him by the collar and hauled him to his feet. "You, young man, have lot to answer for." Jeremy stared back at his captor, trying to look cold and defiant and adult. Trent wasn't at all impressed. He turned Jeremy over to the local authorities, and Kit over to the nurse, who promptly called Jinx, then the hospital.

I fought, of course, when they put the handcuffs on me. Twisting and kicking and biting until three of them had to pin me. No one's going to say Jeremy Denton went easily. I know it's jail this time, but I'm not afraid. They're all communist bastards, but they can't break me and they know it. I can see the fear in their eyes. They know I've gotten the better of them, all of them. Don't think this is the last you'll hear of me, world! I'll be out before you know it, and then you'll regret treating me this way, all of you! I'll be back! You hear me?! You hear me, faggot?! You're all weak! Every one of you….

Alan

Alan slipped through the crowds, heading toward second period, humming to himself. He barely even noticed when a hand snaked out, grabbing his bicep, he was so lost in his own thoughts. But he noticed when someone jerked him to the side of the hall. He blinked a few times, staring into the face of Crusher, a Mexican boy with muscles the size of mountains and grimaced. Oh, please, tell me I'm not going to get the 'we had a meeting, where the hell were you' lecture… anything but that. Alan thought ironically that at least he had an excuse of a sort, one that Jason would back up… the 'invisible' girl he was supposed to be seeing. I just hope they never want to meet her. That would be the ultimate disaster, his family deciding they wanted to meet Alan's mystery girl.

"Alan, man, we got trouble. BIG trouble." Alan refocused on Crusher, resisting an urge to ask why the boy was coming to him. He was still part of the group, still one of the 'family'. He was Jason's little brother. It would never have occurred to any of them that he wanted nothing to do with their life. Especially not now, when everything in my life is actually starting to come together… But he kept those kinds of thoughts strictly internal. No use asking for trouble. "What kind of trouble? Somebody get picked up by the local cops?" He didn't need to hear Crusher's answer, not really. The way the boy flinched told him everything. He hoped it wasn't Jason. The last thing he needed was to figure out how to bail his brother out of jail.

"Yeah. Yeah, they…man, it's Jeremy. He…I don't know what the hell got into Jerry, but that asshole coach…you have him for history… he found him beating the crap out of that faggot. Damnit, Alan, its jail for him this time! What are we going to do?" Crusher didn't exactly looked panicked, but his voice was dark with rage and an undertone of fear. Jeremy was their leader, their boy. If Alan hadn't known better, he would have sworn Crusher was worried. Hell, maybe he is. He knows that he can't lead them…and hell, there are a lot of guys who want to lead, but just weren't as vicious as Jerry. They'll be moving in now, like a pack of wolves. He turned to say something to Crusher, something conciliatory, about how Jeremy would be out in no time, about how no cop was a match for a gangbanger and stopped. He did a purely mental double-take of Crusher's words.

Beating the crap out of that faggot. A sudden, sickening image, of a black boy falling, and the crack of bone being broken. He reeled, and heard, distantly, Crusher's voice asking him if he was all right. The whole world seemed distant, now, but he knew his heart was beating out of his chest, a hard rhythm that signaled fear. Oh, God…Kit! He shoved passed Crusher—Crusher didn't matter anymore, Jerry didn't matter anymore, no one mattered in that insane instant but Kit—and ran, ran like a bat out of hell. He shoved through people and was cursed at for his pains. He ducked around and through crowds, hearing the bell but not really registering it's meaning. Nothing registered on him, no outside stimuli intruded on his one goal. He had to find Kit.

He shoved the door open to the nurse's office, panting a little. The nurse blinked at him with surprise. The office was not large, but a large curtain cordoned off the area where patients were kept. He ignored the nurse, ducking through the curtain to the other side, scanning the beds. Empty. Empty. Empty. No black curls fell against pale skin, no red lips curved up in a mischievous smile. He felt his heart skip a beat. Where…where is he? They didn't take him to the hospital, did they? He couldn't have been that badly hurt, they wouldn't have needed to take him to the hospital. A heavy hand descended on his shoulder and he jumped, and then spun around. The nurse glared at him, hands across her chest.

"Let's see your note, then." She said, her dark brown eyes icy. He blinked, and then stuck his hands deep into his pockets and simply glared, with sullen distrust. It was an old instinct coming to fore, not to answer authority. Don't trust them, the adults. They don't understand nor do they care. The nurse's eyes darkened with obvious annoyance. She did not need this kind of aggravation. She grabbed Alan by the shoulder. "Well, you'd better come with me, young man."

Jinx/ Alan

Jinx listened to the principal, a thin, balding man, spout excuses that were getting more and more pathetic with every repetition. He was not interested in excuses, or even reasons. He simply looked at the man, one eyebrow raised in an inscrutable expression. The man was sweating visibly, obviously intimidated. Jinx no longer cared. Perhaps there had been a point in time when he would have made some effort, though a minimal one at best, to make the man relax. Not now. Not when he had arrived in time to see the ambulance take his foster son away.

"Excuse me, sir? The nurse is outside with a boy. She says he came into her office without a pass." The secretary's cultured tone was carefully neutral. The principal, obviously grateful for the escape, apologized quickly to Jinx and hurried out of the office, leaving the strange man with his stranger features alone. Jinx closed his eyes, taking one slow breath, and then letting it out. Another slow breath. Release. Jinx rarely felt emotion at all, but when he did, they came upon him in extremis. As he calmed, he felt his heart slow, and the blood that was pumping through his veins seemed to cool. He clenched his fists, then released. He dared not let anger rule him. But the fire in his eyes was only slightly eclipsed by dark orange contacts.

"Well, young man, do you want to tell me what you were doing in the nurse's office?" The principal didn't really seem to expect an answer, as though he was going through the motions of a well-rehearsed scene. Alan gladly played his part, staring at the ground sullenly, hands thrust deep into his pockets. "You realize I'm going to have give you detention." The principal continued, obviously expecting some response. Whatever he expected, it wasn't what he got.

The boy raised his eyes to meet the man's. "There was a kid…he got beat up by Jeremy. What happened to him?" Alan's voice was cold, but his blue eyes reflected hints of the desperation he felt. The principal gaped at him, rapidly reevaluating the boy in an entirely new light. The conclusion he came to was not at all flattering. This boy must have wanted to finish what that Jeremy kid started. I'll bet he pretends to be a friend. Isn't that what they always do? Alan seemed to sense the thoughts behind the calculating look the older man gave him and he turned his gaze back on the floor. Bastard. Don't look at me like that, like I was trash, just because I hang out with them. But the better part of him, the part his grandmother had strove to bring to fore, whispered quietly that he had been one of them, still was one. Why should this man assume he was any better than Jeremy? I…I never wanted to hurt anyone!

But his conscience, once awakened, refused to sleep again. He flinched with the memory of too many street-fights, all for some imagined insult. Too many memories of taunts and torments visited on those kids who had made themselves social outcasts. People like Kit… Alan grimaced and pushed the thoughts away. This was NOT the time for introspection. "I think maybe you'd better come with me, young man." The principal took Alan's shoulder firmly in hand. Alan resisted everything his instincts told him, letting himself be led slowly away.

"Excuse me." The voice was deep, even and cultured, with just the tiniest hints of an accent. The principal looked up, startled. Jinx looked at Alan and Alan looked at Jinx. Something seemed to pass between them, though no words were spoken. "I'll be glad to take charge of this boy." Jinx said softly, his eyes never leaving Alan's. The principal stared at Jinx in shock. He finally stuttered something about it being impossible without a note from the boy's parents. Jinx's eyes flicked to him, full of unspoken contempt. "While I am a great believer in security, it seems to me that you only use it in this school when it suits your moods. This boy is a friend of our family, and I think I can certainly vouch for his safety, a guarantee you seem incapable of giving." Alan had the dubious pleasure of seeing Principal Rett completely outgunned. He loosed his grip on Alan, which was all the invitation he needed. He jerked out of the principal's grip and walked over to Jinx. "Shall we go?" He asked. Jinx's orange lips curved up at the edges, in a humorless smile.

The car ride over there was silent, as Alan stared out the window at the streets that rushed past. The car rode smoothly across the road, never breaking the street limit, and only the fact that Jinx was clutching the steering wheel so hard that his knuckles had turned white gave any clue that he was upset. His expression was cold, colder even that normal, and Alan wondered what Kit's foster father was thinking. Whatever it was, Alan didn't really think he wanted to know. Jinx made him nervous, in a way not even Jeremy could duplicate. Jinx struck Alan as someone it would be a very, very bad idea to cross.

The hospital was a pleasant looking building, if imposing due to sheer height. It stood tall above the surrounding edifices, surrounded by parking lots full of every kind of vehicle imagination. Alan stared at the building, hoping against hope that he could somehow see Kit. Jeremy couldn't have done that much damage. The school probably just didn't want to get sued. The thought, though, did not do anything to slow his heart or decrease the amount of adrenalin that flowed through his veins.

Next to him, though he maneuvered the car with consummate skill, Jinx's thoughts were not on driving. He had finally convinced himself that it was unlikely that Kitsune was seriously injured. However, this incident reminded him far too much of that year in sixth grade. How many nights did I lie awake, listening to him cry for a wound I could not heal? I would move heaven and earth to keep my own from that pain again. Jinx grimaced inwardly. How he hated to be helpless, especially when the one person in the world he could truly say that he cared about was in trouble. Even if the damage does little to him outwardly, inside, it will throw him into turmoil. He is amazingly strong, my Kit, but he is a person who relishes the company of other people, in a way I can barely comprehend. He, unlike me, or even this boy Alan, holds little within him for violence or hate. How do I explain to him the why of those who hold so much hate in their souls that there is little room for anything else? How do I explain to him that it is not he that is wrong, but they? And most importantly, how do I, whose capacity for emotional attachment is so low that two psychologists deemed me a sociopath, help Kit realize that he can open himself to the world?

Jinx shook his head with a sigh. Too many questions, some new, some that had existed from the moment he had set on eyes on that tiny, inquisitive, nameless child. He glanced over at Alan as he parked the car carefully. The boy was obviously lost in thought, and Jinx imagined Alan's thoughts paralleled his. What are you, boy-of-the-streets? And what do you wish to be to my own? But Jinx didn't ask. He simply informed the boy softly, "We're here."

KIT

Kit sighed and rolled over on his side, staring at the colorless wall of the hospital. The nurse had told him, when has asked, that his father had been contacted. My father…Maybe it's just me, but I can't imagine calling Jinx "Daddy". He giggled to himself. He loved Jinx more than anyone else in the entire world, but the man had such ice-cold dignity that the idea of anyone calling him something so…so personal struck Kit as highly amusing.

Kit sighed and rose. He knew the nurse had said he shouldn't move just yet, but he hated staying still. Even when he was sick, he never, ever stood still. He got up and stood at the window. The sky was a clear blue, a robin's egg blue that made him smile with delight. It was such a pretty color. He made a note to get a shirt in that color. Or maybe a dress. He rarely wore them, but dresses were really very comfortable and quite pretty as well. Perhaps sky-blue velvet, with sleeves that trailed out…

Shaking his head at himself, he sat down. Hopeless, Kitsune, you're really hopeless. You're in the hospital and all you can do is daydream about clothes. But better that than thinking about the attack. It wasn't even the wound—he felt sore and bruised, and his lips was trickling blood constantly— but the absolute fear that had shot through him and the delight on Jeremy's face. His ribcage hurt with a pulsing pain that came back every time he rose, but the worst part was the fear that was still in his heart. Don't walk alone. He flinched. It just wasn't fair! He didn't WANT to have to be afraid, didn't want to spend the rest of his life looking over his shoulder. He didn't want to be Jinx, cutting himself off from the rest of the world, cold as ice. I just want to be KIT! Is that so bad?

Obviously, it was.

Alan

I entered the room. I was conscious of Jinx behind me, but it didn't really matter that he was there. No one mattered but Kit. I saw him immediately, of course. He was sitting on the bed, legs pulled tightly to chest. What I could see of his eyes told me they were red from crying. Oh, Kit, I'm sorry. I'm sorry for everything the world ever did to you.

"Hey…Kit? You ok?" He looked up, startled, surprised. His eyes lit up and he unfurled himself with an easy grace. About halfway through the motion, though, he gasped and blanched a little with pain. I immediately sat down by his side. "Oi, Little Fox, are you all right?" The nickname came to my lips as easy as breathing, and I all but heard Jinx's eyebrow lift. Kit smiled, though, and he seemed to relax. "N-no…I'm all right…. I'm glad you're here… I mean…" He blushed. Jinx looked amused. Not that I could see him.

"Hey, it's cool. I understand." I said, cutting him off. If I let him, he would blabber himself to death and probably take me with him. "How badly did he…?" I trailed off, my mind searching for words I didn't think I would ever find. Kit looked down and shrugged. "The doctor says I'm fine, just bruised… I can't do anything strenuous for a while, though. Which…means the camping trips canceled." Kit looked away, obviously upset. I reacted immediately to that pain. The look on his face was heart breaking.

"I'll take a rain check, ok? We'll do it some day, I promise." I grinned at him and he smiled shyly back. After a moment, his smile turned mischievous. "Promise?" He asked, sounding so innocent and childish that my lips stretched up in a smile that was completely unstoppable. "Promise!" I said. Without thinking about it, I took his hand in mine. His hand was warm against mind, and I fancied I could almost feel the blood pulsing in his veins. He started, and then relaxed. I did as well, and for the longest time, we both sat there, doing nothing more than holding hands and being glad that we were alive.

Jinx

Perhaps I need not show my own anything. He may have someone else to open his heart to the world.