"Jinx, Alan. Alan, Jinx." Orange eyes met blue ones and they studied each other like predator's sizing each other up. Kit watched nervously, hands behind his back. Jinx's smile of amusement barely wavered. It never did, however. Alan was expressionless, having learned from years of hard experience not to show the faintest flicker of expression. Jinx finally nodded once, as Kit gave him his best hopeful glance, and motioned the two of them into his jeep. They drove home in silence, neither really knowing what to say to the other and Jinx not bothering to break the silence.

Kit's house was middle class, two stories with a large backyard that had a gigantic ditch to one side. Alan thought it looked like a mansion. Kit grinned at Alan as he tossed his pack on the floor, sprawling on the couch with his hands behind his head. Alan slowly sat on the floor, his back against the couch. For some reason, the seating arrangements seemed to amuse Jinx, for his orange-painted lips curved up in a smirk. "So. Does anyone care to explain to me why Kit has all of the sudden invited a friend over when he's never done so before, despite my urgings?" Jinx's expression, as always, didn't waver, but his voice had overtones of interest. Alan shifted to look at Kit. "You want to answer that?" He muttered. "Why don't you?" Kit said, grinning at him mischievously. Despite himself, Alan's insides melted under that smile. "Does he bite?" Alan muttered, causing Kit to giggle. Jinx merely raised an eyebrow and Alan had the sneaking suspicion that he had heard every word of the conversation so far. He resisted the urge to blush, keeping his eyes down.

" Umm…well, see…we're not exactly friends. We only just met." Alan actually did blush a Kit's hurried and nonsensical explanation. Jinx, if anything, seemed even more amused. "Ah. So you only bring home people you don't know, hmm, Kitsune?" Kit colored and threw a couch pillow at Jinx, which he caught adroitly. Kitsune? Is that his full name? Strange, I never knew that. Everyone just called him Kit. Alan had to smile, though, at the easy, bantering relationship between the two. "I…was nice enough to warn him that he might be in some trouble, sir." Alan said softly, breaking into the conversation. Two pairs of eyes, orange and green, turned to stare at him. He felt like even more of an outsider, pulling his jacket tighter around him. "What kind of trouble would that be?" Jinx's eyes seem to narrow, the only outward sign he gave of being upset. "It's nothing, Jinx, really, I'll be fine." Kit's voice was shaking, though, and Alan resisted the urge to hold him tightly and tell him everything would be all right. Because, in the long run, it probably wouldn't be. Jinx's eyes narrowed a touch more, and for a second, that cold gaze centered on Alan. Jinx's sardonic, bemused smile, however, never faded. "…I will here more of this later, my own." Jinx rose with all the grace of a king, his steps carrying him out.

"…Sorry about him. He's a bit odd." Kit muttered, watching Jinx go. "Just a bit, hm?" Alan muttered, causing another giggle from Kit. "Oh, he's always like that. It's just… Jinx." Kit shrugged his thin shoulders, as though this explained all the matters in the universe. Alan imagined it rather did, at that.

Green eyes turned to look at Alan, the emotion in them composed equally of trepidation and hope. "Do you want to see my room? Sorry if I'm, like, nervous, I haven't had anyone over in a… long time." A flash of hurt, pain, in those open green eyes made Alan wince. "Sure. I'd love to see your room." Kit grinned, and all trace of pain vanished, curls of black hair bobbing as he rose. Alan followed slowly, his heart beating nervously. This was not going over to his friend's pads, places that were just like his house except in their occupants. The deep green carpet looked soft enough to sink in and the banister was freshly painted. If the house's occupants were not rich, they cared enough for their living space to take good care of it; something that Alan had never experienced.

Kit practically skipped up the stairs, causing Alan to smile softly to himself. So childish, that innocence, that naivety. He shook his head softly to himself, as he followed Kit up the stairs. Kit stopped near a door covered in a poster reading "Keep out if you value your life." It had a picture of a cat baring its teeth in what was obviously meant to be a snarl, but looked more like a silly grin. Kit caught his eyes and shrugged, a slight blush tingeing his features. He's blushing. Sweet. Kit pushed the door open and bowed. "Ta da." Alan stepped in, and gaped. Crystals hung from the window, causing sparkling rainbows on every wall the light touched. Shelves covered with books and necklaces and videos were on one side, a large double bed in the center. Cushions and comics covered the floor, and Kit happily flopped down on a big fluffy cushion. Alan stared around, entranced. "Pretty…" He whispered, causing Kit to grin widely. "Thank you! I spent a lot of time getting the right effect. Want to try out my new driving game?" Alan's eyes widened as he looked over the entertainment center in the corner. "Road Wreckage three! YEAH!!" He lunged for the controller, just as Kit snatched it away, laughing as Alan tumbled into the cushions. "Ok. But me first."

Jinx ran the brush through his hair, his lips curving up in a smile at laughter echoing from Kitsune's room. But his eyes narrowed in thought. He had always known Kit was different, though his sexuality had been as much a surprise to Jinx as it had to anyone else. Still, Kitsune's preferences had never bothered him. But this boy, this intense, lost boy, this Alan; he was trouble. Jinx pursed his lips. His instincts about such things were very, very good. So even as he listened to the laughter, he felt his hands clench on the brush.

"Are you two expecting room service or are you going to come down for dinner?" They had given up on the third stage of Road Wrecker Three, and now they were playing Bishonen Fighting, another one of Kit's games. They both jumped, and then simultaneously glanced at the clock, then to Jinx, who was leaning boredly against the door. "Dinner?" Alan said, at the same time Kit spoke. "Room service will be fine." Kit said, a hint of a giggle in his voice. Alan had the faint idea that this was something heard of but never seen; a family joke. Jinx seemed bemused. "Keep waiting, then." He turned and slipped off, as silently as he had come. "Come on! Let's see what Jinx made." Kit said, turning to Alan with a grin on his face. The smile, however, melted off inch by inch as he looked into Alan's eyes. "Is something wrong?" He asked, tilting his head to one side. "I should be getting home… I've stayed too long."

Kit's eyes widened, and Alan winced. "…Can't you at least stay to eat? I'm sorry; I forgot to ask whether your parents would mind. You could always call them." Alan stared into those hopeful green eyes, a small fist squeezing the inner realms of his heart. Call them? Hell, we didn't pay the phone bill four months ago, they discontinued the service… "Well, I'm late, they won't mind if I'm a little later. Sure, I can stay for dinner." Kit grinned widely. "Goodie! Lets go! Before Jinx thinks of some sarcastic comment about waiting for room service."

The food was good. The company was better. They talked about everything, books, movies, politics, movie stars, what the world was coming to. Kit complained about how little kids were getting poisoned and Alan thought of his younger brother with a grimace. Jinx pulled out a small cake with flourish, causing Kit to applaud as Jinx served it up. There was a playful quality between the two of them that made Alan ache for reasons he didn't fully understand. Their banter had a well-worn quality, like a song they both knew the words to so well they didn't need to think about it. It was dark when he left, but he declined Jinx's offer to drive him home. The older man did not insist, and Alan caught the look Jinx shot him. He knows. He knows all about me.


"Where the hell have you been?" The question came just as Alan got one foot in the door and he turned to look at his older brother Jason with annoyance. "Can't you ever wait till I walk in the house to ask me that? Anyway, you're not dad, so why should I tell you?" He knew it was a stupid thing to say the second he said it. Jason snarled softly, and shoved Alan back, hard. Jason was a typically handsome jock, two years Alan's senior and taller than him by no few inches. He had administered as many beatings to his little brothers as Dad had, and Alan, with his slender, if muscular build, was not match for his older brother. "You respect me, man, or I'll make you wish you'd just kept your smart little mouth shut." Jason administered a stinging blow that made Alan stagger, putting one hand to his cheek.

"You tell him, Jase!" Kenny, from the corner, called. Alan could just make out his white-blonde head. Kenny was basically a little copy of his big brother. Annoying and arrogant, Kenny backed up his dad and Jason in everything they did. At least I can still beat him up. Kenny, thank god, had inherited their mother's thin build, and would never be as muscular as Jason, however many weights he tried to lift. "Yeah, yeah, I hear you, Jason. Kenny, boy, you shush up. I'm still bigger than you." Alan muttered. The good mood he had been in at Kit's was rapidly fading to the dull depression he normally lived with. "So where you been? Dad got himself soused a good hour ago, and he's out of it. So you tell me where you been or I'll tell him you were out late last night and let him whip you." Jason asked, holding him against the wall. Alan winced, mentally deliberating with himself. Jason's cold, blue eyes narrowed at him.

Can't tell him I was out with friends… he knows all my friends. Kit's face flashed in his mind, green eyes sparkling. Just tell him I went over to Kit's house…hell, that'll go over well… Wait a second, I know! "I was just out with a girl." He said coolly, trying to sound as smooth as Jason always did when he said that. Kenny whistled, his pale blue eyes widening. "No WAY!" He glared suspiciously at Alan. "What girl?" Alan grinned to himself. He believes me. "You wouldn't know her, man, she's from RPHS." He named the school across town, the sworn enemy of his school. "Traitor!" Kenny said, but he was grinning. "Got yourself laid, did you, little bit?" Jason said, grinning. He mussed Alan's blonde hair and Alan felt a touch of warmth and a bit of guilt. "A man after my own heart." Jason muttered, his swarthy face breaking into a grin. God, if he knew the truth, he'd hate me. Never before had Alan felt so alone. "Look, I'm done in. I'm going to bed. Don't tell Dad I was out late, ok?" Kenny sniggered softly, but Jason shot his younger brother an annoyed look. "Yeah, I won't tell and neither will Ken." Jason said. Kenny nodded energetically, looking like a jack in the box. Alan tossed Jase a rather sickly grin and walked off, head down. God, I hate them. I don't care if they ARE my brother's. I hate them!! But the anger that ate away at his gut was not directed at Kenny and Jason. It was directed at himself.


"Well?! What do you think of him?" Light green eyes shone with joy as Kit leaned his slender body against Jinx's legs. The older man stroked Kit's black curls, silent. Kit kept quiet as well, knowing from long experience not to bug Jinx when he was thinking. "What is this danger he warned you of?" Jinx finally asked. Kit shuddered slightly, pressing himself against Jinx's legs. Cold… "It's nothing. Really. Just some kids out to get me." Kit tried to keep his voice calm, but his gut twisted into a pretzel shape. "Somehow those two statements seem to contradict each other. Define 'out to get me', if you please." Kit winced. "Er…well, it's just…Some guys…just…want to beat me up and all. I can take care of myself, you know." Jinx made a sound suspiciously like a snort. However, he remained mostly silent on the subject, stroking Kit's hair. Kit looked at Jinx, hopefully.

God, I'm glad he's here. Sometimes I don't know what I'd do without Jinx. Kit smiled in memory.

He was six years old, a skinny stick of a boy sent back from yet another foster home. He wore a large smile, sitting silently and watching everyone go by. They always did. They wanted little babies, not big kids like him. It was worse the bigger you got. And it didn't help that he cried a lot or had nightmares. They wanted a kid who wouldn't cause trouble, a good little boy. They'd thought he was a good little boy in the last house. They'd had all boys, raised all boys and wanted another one. But that had lasted until he tried to climb Gary's bookshelf to reach a pretty picture on the top. He had only wanted to look at the picture. He hadn't realized it would fall over. He hadn't known the treasures inside that case were special keepsakes. So then he hadn't been a good little boy. He was 'that rotten little foster kid'. And they sent him back. Like they always did.

He wasn't unhappy, really, just… he envied the other kids, the kids who got taken and didn't come back. Until the stranger came. And strange he was, too, with his long, long hair, longer than any girls, and his makeup. Just like a doll, Kit had thought, staring at the stranger with wonder, waiting for him to go past. But this time, of all times, the strange man had crouched down next to him, wide, unreadable orange eyes, like the monsters in movies had, and asked, in a firm, adult voice, "What's your name, littling?"

It was such a strange question. All the other adults who talked to him asked him how he was, or if he was looking for a mommy and daddy. They named him themselves, with a name they chose. That was, after all, what being a parent was all about. No one had ever asked him his name before. "I don't have a name." It was, in all honesty, the truth. The last family had called him Daniel, and the one before that, Brian. He didn't know what the very first family had called him. He didn't know what his parents had named him. Maybe they hadn't bothered, when they left their baby on a trash heap in Newport, New Jersey. But whatever the reason, he knew he had no name.

One orange eyebrow rose, an expression the boy would come to be familiar with in the next few years. He tried to imitate it then, but both eyebrows kept rising, not just one. "A great pity, to remain nameless." The man said, his eyes fixed squarely on the boy. The boy blinked. "What s'at mean?" He asked. "What does what mean?" The stranger asked. The boy had the strangest feeling that he amused the stranger, though it didn't manifest itself outwardly. "Pit-tee." The boy pronounced the strange word slowly, but did not stumble over any of the syllables. "A sad thing." The man defined, shifting position with great flexibility to make himself more comfortable. "So…so… it's a great sad thing to be not named?" The six-year old queried, his head leaning to one side. The man, curling up like a great cat, nodded his head slowly. "But don't great mean…like, good?" He asked, green eyes curious. He had never been able to quiz an adult before. "Mm. Indeed it does. It can also emphasize things." The stranger said. The boy's forehead wrinkled in a grimace.

"Em-fih-size? How come you talk in such big words?" He asked, slowly. "Why do you speak in such small ones? Emphasize is to…make things more important. Like the word very." The man explained, combing one finger through his hair in a distracted gesture. The boy noticed one of the social workers giving the man a suspicious look and frowned. "So…so… it's a very sad thing not to be named? How come you didn't just say that?" He was aware he was whining slightly, but it didn't make SENSE. "I did just say that, I just used different words." The man said, in a slow but not impatient way. The child had the feeling, indefinable but there, that this man was used to waiting. "…Well, how come you didn't use words I could unnerstand?" The lad asked, green eyes intense. "How would I know what words you understand?" The stranger queried, raising his delicate brow once again, and giving the boy a quizzical look, as though he would be illogical. The boy blinked. That had actually made sense.

"Well, how come its so sad not to have a name?" The six year old asked. The man paused, the first time the boy had seem him do so, as though thinking of a way to answer that. "It…well, all men who walk this Earth, whether they be young or old, happy or sad, have names. So it is sad that you without not because it makes you different, but because you do not have something everyone else takes for granted." The boy blinked, shifted and blinked again. That statement not only made sense, it awakened a kind of deep ache within him, for things he did not have that everyone else seemed to. It was the same kind of ache he felt watching the little kids carried out by families weeping with joy. "…Yeah. I think you're right." To his shame, he felt the prickle of tears. The man before him, however, did not seem either upset nor annoyed by this unmanly show of emotion. "Well, not having a name is an easy enough situation to remedy." He said, almost pleasantly. "Huh??" The boy asked. The man smirked gently, an expression too filled with sardonic humor to really be called a smile. "It is easy to fix you not having a name, little one." He restated carefully, as though checking each word before it came out. "Oh. How's do ya do that?" The child asked, unrestrainedly curious now. "We simply give you a name. A name that is yours no matter what." The boy's eyes widened. Growing up as he had, there was simply very little that belonged to him, very few things he could claim to be his alone. His eyes sparkled. "What kind of name would you like, little one?" The stranger inquired.

"A different one. One nobody else has." The child told him, arms crossed over his thin form. The man laughed. "Of course… Well. Then how is Kitsune?" He asked. The boy's eyes widened. Well, it was certainly different. "It means fox." The tall male told him. "Kit-soon." The boy mouthed the word. "Kit-soon. Kitsune. Kit-SOON. KIT-soon." He whispered it, said it, yelled it, varied the emphasis on different syllables, giggling. "… I want to be named Kitsune!" He hollered. The man watched him silently, orange eyes sparkling with delight. "Kitsune." The boy—Kitsune— grinned with delight at the sound of his own name and stared at the orange-haired man who had said it. "Yessuh… Mister…whoever?" He asked, trying not to bounce with giddiness. "…My name's Jinx. No Mister." The man rose slowly, almost…reluctantly. "May I come visit you again?" Jinx asked. Kitsune had never heard any adult use quite that tone, as though they wouldn't come back if he said no. Before, they always asked him in play and he had always answered playfully. But the serious mood called for an equally serious tone and the boy surveyed the man a long time before answering. "Yes. You may."

Somewhere, a much older, less childish Kitsune smiled slightly, coming out of the memory. Jinx's hand had stilled in his hair, and the older man seemed lost in thoughts as well. He came almost every week, and his visits were always the things I looked forward to most. Jinx had been the perfect companion for the energetic, curious six year old, answering all his questions in detail, and then explaining the answers. No wonder I started using all those big words. And every time someone asked why I talked like that, I asked, 'why shouldn't I?' God, I was a mini-Jinx. Only, much more excitable. Jinx was blessed with infallible patience, unending store of facts, and a pretty good knowledge of what interested Kit. The poor social workers were scared to death of him. Or they all thought he was molesting me. I still don't know how he ever got them to consent to letting him adopt me. Maybe some of those contacts he mentioned? All he knew for sure was that on the day of his seventh birthday, Jinx had asked him, with grave dignity, if he wanted to come live with Jinx. This time, when he said yes, he hadn't hesitated.

"Are you planning to pursue friendship with this boy Alan, my own?" Jinx asked softly, startling Kitsune, lost in thought as he was. "…Ummm… I guess I hadn't really thought about it, much." Kit glanced curiously at Jinx, trying to divine the reason for that non-sequitir. "I would suggest you do so. You two would be good for each other." Jinx's voice was so soft Kit had to strain to hear it, yet he still caught every word. "….Not going to give me a better reason than that?" Kit asked, with a sigh inherent in his voice. He was pretty sure he already knew the answer. "Certainly not, my own. Some things in life should remain a mystery." He rose silently, making Kit eep and scoot away slightly. Kit rolled his eyes. "Oh, and Kitsune?" Jinx asked, not turning. "…Yeah?" Kit asked, yawning and stretching, cat-like. "Don't walk alone." Jinx swept upstairs with all the dignity of a great lion, leaving Kit to scratch his head and stare at Jinx's back before heading off to bed.


Jinx sat down on the bed, his fingers stroking the silk sheets. He had always been overly sensitive to the world around him, almost unnaturally so. This applied to both physical and mental aspects of life. He picked up a comb off his bedside table, running it through his hair to make sure it hadn't somehow snarled in the last few seconds. He found a small knot, and with a grimace of annoyance, started picking it out. At least the mundane activity gave him some time to think.

And what was the subject of his thoughts? Kit. Always Kitsune, my own, my son. Jinx jerked down savagely on the brush and grimaced in pain as a few strands of blonde-orange hair came loose as a reward for his impulsive actions. I wonder if Kit knows the boy's in love with him? He grimaced, repressing the impulse to guard Kit from any possible harm or heartbreak. I rather doubt it. I wonder how deep this infatuation runs? Because it's certainly infatuation, not love. He wound a piece of hair around his finger. "Dear Gods, why me?" But he knew why. Because the first time he had seen the spunky black haired boy with the green eyes shining with fascination, he had fallen in love. Ah, Kitsune, I never thought I'd become a father. I walked into that orphanage to talk to a friend for lunch, and I wound up meeting a little boy who quite literally changed my life. I should play hunches more often, if they always result like that. Or perhaps not. This is painful enough as it is. He sighed softly. That was what it all came down to. He was scared for Kit, scared of the boy he called 'son' being hurt. And they will hurt him. It was not so long ago I was in High School. He shuddered slightly, at the thrill of anger that passed through him at that line of thought. I won't let anyone hurt him! I won't!

But can you stop it? He would have glared at his brain, if it was physically possible. But he had to admit it had a point. What do you know about this boy Alan, anyway? How did he find out about this possible attack on Kitsune? Maybe he was in on it. Maybe he's really like them. He's got the right background for it… "Now you're just being paranoid." He was talking to himself again. A horrid habit to get into, and almost impossible to break. But his paranoia was getting in his way again. He had lived his life suspecting everyone. Still. I don't trust this boy. He smirked, catlike. It had been a long time since he trusted anyone but Kit. And yet… I think he would be good for my too-impulsive Kitsune. The child could use some guidance. 'Some guidance' was not really the word for what Kit needed. He needs a friend, someone he trusts. It seems my paranoia has rubbed off, however. He's so careful about letting people close. And he needs people more than I ever did. He put down the brush, staring into the mirror for a few seconds.

Time will tell. There is nothing you can do about it. You can't protect him forever. He knew the words wouldn't help, and so they didn't. As he lay down to rest, the feeling that lurked within his chest certainly seemed to be something stronger than paranoia.


Kit sighed as he sat on his bed. It had been a long day, and as he stretched, staring into the mirror, he suddenly felt at once very old and very young. Brushing a lock of curly black hair out of his eyes, he let out a soft, catlike yawn. God, I was scared when Alan told me about what Jeremy wanted to do. I never figured Jeremy for the type, even if he does hang out with a bad crowd. I mean, he's always been quiet in classes. Not loud and rough like his crowd. He tried to recall what little he knew of the redhead. Let's see… I know he got into a fight with Rodney Darrington. …I never though about it before, but Rod's black. Hmm. I didn't make the connection, but I bet there is one. He wrinkled his nose. So he's not only homophobic, he's also racist. Good combination. If you're looking for a possible America's Most Wanted, that is.

The sarcastic turn of his thoughts didn't keep back the shiver of fear. Jeremy wasn't that much taller than him, but he worked out and kept in shape. I remember now… he broke Rodney's nose in that fight… and that was Jeremy alone. Somehow, I don't think Jeremy means to come after me alone. Something in the pit of his stomach flipped over and whimpered. He hugged himself tightly, tears springing to his eyes. He brushed them away and pushed away the fear. He hated getting hurt. God, he hated getting hurt. He hated fights. He was a hippy at heart, all peace and love. Calm DOWN, Kitsune. He can't catch you if you're not alone. This is no big deal. Calm down. He closed his eyes and tried to think of some other subject.

Alan. Uncomfortable thoughts, there. He was certainly attracted to the other boy… God, he's pretty. Big blue eyes and that wavy blonde hair… drooool…But he also found he liked Alan. He can make me laugh like no one I've ever seen, he takes me seriously and he…he listens to me. He doesn't turn everything into a contest. He's polite, well-mannered… a little too serious, but when he loosens up, he gets pretty crazy. Kit smiled fondly at the memory of Alan getting into a stuffed animal fight with him. The poor 'ammo'—Kit's stuffed animal collection—still lay scattered about. I haven't felt that easy with anyone since… I can't remember WHEN. He makes me laugh. He can talk about things seriously. He's not perfect, but if I had to pick a best friend, he's exactly what I would have designed.

Except it wouldn't have been as a best friend. Kit grimaced in anger and annoyance. Therein lay the problem. He was attracted to Alan, and he was pretty sure that ANY show of affection on his part would frighten the other boy to the other ends of the earth. I wonder if he even knows I'm gay. Could be he doesn't, I don't suppose the whole school knows. God, when he finds out… Kit bit his lip. Sheesh, Kitsune, stop imagining trouble, you've got enough.

Would he have warned me if he knew I was gay? Kit mentally glowered at himself. Of all the stupid, needless thoughts… Of course he would have. Alan's not like Jeremy. But that opened up another set of secret fears, one he had harbored since he'd first seen Alan and now only grew worse. What if Alan was like Jeremy? Sure, he had acted friendly, but… But I never really thought of Jeremy as that bad, until Alan warned me. So who says Alan couldn't be the same way and hide it? He seemed friendly enough, but I lost a lot of my friends coming out. What if I accidentally turn Alan into an enemy? Kit bit his lip, his eyes widening at the very thought. I can't risk that. I just…won't tell him. And hope nobody else does. This will be a strictly friendship relationship. It's been a long time since I had a good friend. And he smiled, slightly. That was true enough. It would be nice to be able to talk to someone, laugh with someone, and hang out with someone. He had always been a very social boy, and the one thing that had hurt him most was the loss of friends.

But as he curled up in the covers, pulling them tightly around his thin form, he couldn't help but think of sparkling blue eyes…


Alan sprawled on the bed, eyes closed. He looked, to anyone who walked in, to either be asleep or in deep repose. In other words, not to be disturbed. Hopefully, anyone who walked in on him would take the message. In a house full of males, privacy was not high on the list of priorities.

His thoughts centered on one thing, a human being. A slender, black-haired boy with wide green eyes. He bit his lip slightly, conflicting emotions warring with each other in the pit of his chest. Ah, Kitsune, if I thought you had enchanted me before… it was nothing compared to this. I wonder if you will ever know how much torture it was to sit next to you, so close, and yet unable to reach out and touch you, do something so simple as take your hand.

Did you feel the same?

That thought was disturbing on several levels and he quickly cast about for another to fill its place. What am I going to do about Jeremy? That thought brought with it more troubling associations, but this time they were less confusing. What can I do about him? There were times he hated being totally honest with himself. This was one such. As much as he would have liked to say otherwise, he didn't really think there was much he could do about Jerry. I warned Kit and Jinx… I could tell the authorities, I suppose, but until something happens, all they can do is warn Jeremy. And anyway, that would tip him off to the fact that someone told on him. Alan sighed softly, his lips barely parting to let the sound escape. I could fight him. I don't like it… I'd probably lose, and I certainly can't think of a good reason why I'm doing it. I mean, I can't openly defend Kit. Oh, how he hated that, inescapably true as it was. It would just bring more trouble on both our shoulders, because of what he is.

Trying to justify your cowardice, Alan? He told himself sternly that that was not was it was, but it wasn't an easy thing to remain convinced of. No. They'd assume that Kit and me are paired up. And that's the last thing I want them to do. As much as he wished those assumptions would come true. God, he's so sweet. So naïve, innocent…and yet so smart. Like when he was talking with Jinx about that news article, at dinner. He was suddenly all seriousness, debating opinions back and forth like some kind of politician. And when he laughs…the whole world just seems to light up.

Alan winced at the direction his thoughts were tending. Damnit, Alan. Next thing you know, you'll be writing sappy poetry or something else equally horrible. Now that was a scary thought indeed…. Alan grinned to himself, despite the horrible emotional mess in his stomach. See? The world hasn't ended. Not that bad jokes solve anything… but it's nice to know I can still laugh. With a sigh, he sat up, shaking his hair loosely so his hair, already tousled from lying down, went wild. He reached to turn off the bedside lamp. Another long day in the morning. I just hope it's not as long as this one.

As his fingers flicked it off, however, he had one last thought. At least I have Kit to share it with, now. And as sleep claimed his overstressed body and mind, he couldn't help but wonder where that thought had come from.