Chain Link Violence

The fluorescent blue light was still on Dana's palm when she left through the front door of her parents Seattle apartment. She waited until she was outside on the steps until she turned the cell off; she wondered fleetingly if Pete might call back, but either way it was too late in the night for the ring of her cell phone to attract attention.

Once she got outside she realized just how cold it was. She had gotten out of bed so quick that all she had on were the thin pants and gray tank top that she slept in with a hastily tied pair of sneakers on her bare feet and her gold parka around her shoulders. She balled her fingers into fists in her pockets and began walking. She knew the way to where she was going, but in the dark so late at night - it was 2:30 when she got the call - everything felt strange to her.

When she pulled the hood of her parka over her head the streetlights began to flicker and buzz; she started to walk faster. It was so still and quiet, all she could think of was the warm cell phone in her hand; hot from her hurried whispers with Pete; about what had happened that night while she slept, and what was happening now at the warehouse.

She had blocks yet to walk still but already she felt achy, she was stiff and tired, scared of what she might find.

"Dana" Pete had said over the phone, "you gatta come quick, get down here, he's hurt bad."

Pete was an over-reacter, so she didn't know how far to believe him when he said that things were bad. Pete was gentle, and she knew that. Fighting wasn't second nature to him as it was with the rest of the boys.

Dana walked the streets in a zigzag; numbers always confused her, she could always find her way around through landmarks rather then signs and she knew every corner of her journey by heart.

Half way there she passed Madison Street where the cement acted as beds to the homeless, and the back wall of the parking lot was where men and women fell asleep with needles in their arms. Dana didn't look over, she knew that people we're there and that some of them we're watching her. She had to be careful. But she didn't want trouble. She could fire a gun and pull a knife on someone if she had to, her days and nights with Lathrop had taught her that. Like Pete though, fighting didn't thrill her and it didn't come naturally. She felt sick every time she fired a gun, and her hands shook whenever she held a knife.

She had no weapons with her that night. Had she been calmer before leaving she would have thought to bring something due to the darkness and the time, but she had never used anything like that for her protection before.

After she passed Madison Street she knew that she was safe enough to think, and her thoughts ran wild. She wondered what had happened and why. Things had never been as bad as Pete having to call her in the middle of the night. Lathrop had told her that things would never get as bad as that. Her mind drifted back to last summer when his kiss was light and sweet, not heavy with violence and consequence as it was now. Back when he had whispered in to her ear: "I'm more a part of you now, then a part of them." Back when she knew that she really was.

When she heard the voice she stopped so fast that she nearly tripped over her shoes. "Got any money baby girl?" A man emerged from the shadows, he was dark and his eyes were cold while holding his hand out to her.

"Sorry I don't."

Dana began to run so fast that by the time she crossed the street she was nearly out of breath but she wouldn't stop running. It was only a few more blocks away and her stomach was so tight that she thought she would retch if she didn't know what was going on soon.

When she got to the door of the warehouse, so old and rusty that most of the girls couldn't pull it open by themselves, Pete was waiting for her. "He's inside" he said, and as she ran past him she saw that blood was on his scalp and that a stain had dripped onto the shoulder of his t-shirt. Dana ran through the warehouse, not noticing the others hiding in the shadows, some hurt, and some helping; all she could think about was Lathrop. Pete was right behind her when she pulled the back door open and saw the old mattress on the floor with Lathrop's body lying in it.

There was a lamp in the corner, casting more shadows then light but through it Dana could see that his eyes we're open. "What happened?" she asked the question more to the air then to Lathrop or Pete, and no one answered her.

Lathrop was pale and clammy, wearing just a ripped up old pair of faded blue jeans. His chest was bare and covered in small cuts; the hairs on his breast bones were red with dried blood. Their was also a fist size bandage on his side. When Dana went to him on the bed he managed a quick smile before turning back to Pete: "I told you not to call her" he said, his voice was dry and hoarse.

"I'm sorry Lathrop, I didn't know what else to do."

Lathrop turned back to Dana: "You shouldn't be here."

"Why?" Dana asked, putting her hand on his chin. His face had cuts on it as well. She held her hand there, questioning the events behind his eyes. She could feel his heat and sweat on her fingertips.

Lathrop tried to lift himself up but Dana stopped him: "Pete, go get some water."

Pete did as she asked, happy to be doing something other then just standing there.

"Tell me what happened?" Dana was filled with concern now, more then questions. She had thought that she had already seen how bad this could all get but seeing Lathrop wounded on the bed like this made her question everything that he had ever told her about this life.

"You shouldn't have come." He said again, "Its too dangerous." He pushed himself up fully this time with his hands before Dana could stop him. He was sitting eye level with her now and he kissed her, running his hand through her hastily tied ponytail.

Pete brought back a glass of water and handed it to Lathrop, it was half full and hot but Lathrop drank it all in one gulp. "Pete, I want you to take her back home now."

"Yes, I think that would be a wise idea." Dana didn't have to turn around to see the shadow fill the open doorway, or put a face with the dark tone of voice. It was The Doctor.

"Hey I can explain!" Pete said in his own defense. Dana turned around now and she could see The Doctor clearly. He had on a black tie, and a half-smoked cigarette in his hand.

"We have business to discuss!" The Doctor said, "In private!"

His voice was so cold that it made Dana shiver: "Right," Lathrop began, "Pete why don't you take Dana outside, I'll be there in a minute." Before she left Dana kissed Lathrop again, right in front of The Doctor, which she had never done before. When she left the room she left smiling, thinking of what Lathrop had said to her the summer before; I'm more yours then theirs.

When the door closed and she was outside of that room she could see that the warehouse was peopled with faces. Layla was in the corner wearing a dark leather jacket and her platinum blond glowed strangely in the light from outside. She was standing beside Monty and Danny who looked hurt to but not as bad as Lathrop or even Pete who was now holding his hand to his head. "Pete you should put something on that...A bandage?"

"I'm all'righ, I'm supposed to take you outside though, so..." Pete gestured with his hands and she could see the glow of blood again on his forehead. She walked out behind him.

Dana was sitting in the passenger's seat of Lathrop's Chevy with the window down. She was staring at Pete who stood outside with his hands in his pockets. "Pete, please tell me what happened?" She knew enough already. She knew that it had been knives and clubs and rocks this time. She knew that this was an unprovoked attack, and that an act of retaliation would soon follow. She knew the circumstances and scenarios by heart but she needed words to solidify her fears. She wanted someone to tell her that bad things were happening, and that there was no way to stop them now.

When Lathrop came out he had a shirt and jacket on; his boots clicked and his keys dangled in his hands. "You did good today Pete, real good." Pete smiled; he was so sweet, Dana thought, to sweet to hold a knife in his hand. Lathrop patted him on the shoulder and Dana could see him wince slightly from the cut on his side. "Go home now alright, get some sleep."

Lathrop put the keys into the ignition and drove into the night; neither one of them said a word.

As they began to pass street corner after street corner Dana got lost in the darkness: "Are you taking me home?" She asked. He still hadn't spoken, but he reached out to her. Cupped her fingertips with his and squeezed. They would go somewhere, she knew, somewhere and talk but for now he needed silence.

Lathrop drove into the posh neighborhoods of downtown Seattle and parked across the street from Macaw Hall where ballet's and opera's were performed. Neither Lathrop or Dana had ever been in that building made of glass but they came to watch the lights that bounced off of its surface. Blue, green, and purple lights that faded into the texture of the glass like water and colored the streets around it.

The Chevy was bathed in green when Lathrop spoke: "You're so beautiful you know."

"Lathrop," she sighed, "look at you? You were almost killed tonight."

"Common" he said, "it wasn't that bad."

"Then why did Pete have to call me?"

He was silent again; she knew that raised voices we're no good to him, he shut them out and waited.

"It was just a case of being in the wrong place, at the wrong time."

Dana snorted and crossed her arms; he had an opening and he took it.

"It's true!" He protested.

"Whatever." She was scared and unsure, and she wondered if he felt that same level of fear.

"Hay" he cooed, his voice soft as he pulled her to him across the seat. "Nothing can touch me; I got the best God-Damned bodyguard in the state." He kissed her ear lobe playfully, wrapping his arms around her. "Besides, where would I go when I got this waiting for me?" He moved his lips down her neck and lowered his hand down to her crotch, his fingers grasping at thin layers of clothing to reach inside. When she turned around to kiss him the windows we're bathed in light; green fell on them light rain.

"Let's go into the back."

They climbed over the seat and the light outside dimmed and then brightened into a new color. Purple was on her hands when she brought them to his cheeks and pulled him close. They laid across the backseat and Lathrop crawled on top of her. His skin was so hot that it burned her. The light changed to blue as she pulled his t-shirt over his head running her hands over the smooth indented muscles of his torso. She could feel each of the cuts on her fingertips and she traced the lines gently.

The windows began to fog up when Lathrop moved his hand up her shirt; warm hands cupping her breasts and massaging.

No matter how many times that she and Lathrop had been together, before he entered her she always closed her eyes and relived their first time together. That summer by the lake when with skittish hands she had pushed him up against a tree in the woods and whispered into his ear. She would never forget the feeling of his hands under her buttock, holding her up against that tree as they moved together for the first time.

In the dark Dana could see the bandage on Lathrop's side glistening; the blood was coming through and she stopped him in fear: "I really think that we should take you to the hospital."

He took a deep breath; she could feel that he was already hard: "Don't worry about me" He kissed her again and she let him move further. She didn't want him to stop; it was only with him, even on a downtown street in the back of his car that she ever truly felt safe.

Lathrop pulled down her pants and kissed her belly moving his lips down. The image of him in a hospital bed sent fear into her, and before he put his tongue into her she pulled his head up: "I want you inside me." He did as she asked; pushing himself against her until he found the center of her. Dana sighed when she felt him inside her finally, and she curled her legs around his back as he began to move. Slow at first and then faster. Dana pushed her hands against his back and the colors across the street changed again.

Still moving deeper Lathrop kissed the soft skin between her breasts and moved his mouth around her nipple and suckled it like a hungry child. Dana had to bit her lip to keep her need for him inside.

When the muscles on his back began to tighten she knew that he was almost there. He moaned and kissed her lips again. As he arched his back above her she felt his warmth enter her. His liquid was so warm that it would have boiled inside of her had she not been so in love with him. As he finished he fell against her, still inside and still connected she wrapped her arms around his back and held onto him.

"I love you; you know?" He was pushing aside the hairs that clung to her damp face and kissing her. She knew, she had always known. Words were never needed with them. As she held him there above her she forgot about danger, about guns and knives and hushed phone calls in the middle of the night. She thought about the future which wasn't a far off place to her but a time that existed right now when she was with him.

They clung to each other for a long time and let the lights dim over them through the windows which had fogged up so thickly that it shielded them from the world outside. When Lathrop let go and pulled his clothes back on she sat up, nude against him and kissed his neck. She would have stayed with him in the backseat of that car for the rest of her life. He kissed her back and pulled on his shirt. "Here, get dressed," he said handing her, her clothes. "I've got to pee real quick and then I'm taking you home."

"Why bother" she said wrapping her arms around him, "It'll be light in less then an hour." She didn't want to waste her time with him.

"Young lady?" He took a fatherly tone with her and she laughed. "That's what I like to hear, now get dressed before you become the death of me."

He opened the door and shut it quick to keep the cold air out. Dana pulled on her pants and pushed her tank top over her head. When she felt cold on the skin of her stomach she looked down and could see a small pool of Lathrop's blood there. He had bled through his bandage and dried red clung to her skin. She tried to rub it off but it stained her.

When she crawled back into the front seat she wrapped the parka around her shoulders and fished around the pocket until she found her cell phone. Flipping it open she saw that it was almost five o'clock.

As Lathrop got back in the car and turned the key in the ignition she told him the time and he sighed: "We've got to hurry, your parents will be up soon." He drove the car through nearly empty streets and through the window Dana could see pink stretching out across the sky. The sun was coming up; and Dana smiled at the progression of it.

They heard the music like a heartbeat; so loud that it pulsated and hurt their hearts as they breathed. "What is that?" Lathrop had stopped at a stop sign and a car was speeding along toward them. They saw the flash of white from the headlights and could feel the music boom louder; it was so loud now that Dana couldn't hear herself breath.

The car slowed but Lathrop could see that they were going to run the stop sign. Everything slowed and blurred when the windows from the other car flashed down. So quick, revealing gloved hands and guns pointed right at them.

"Get down!" Lathrop yelled in a panic and Dana screamed. The music was so loud that no one heard the gunshots.