O.o I'm so sorry I haven't updated in so long! I had most of this chapter done but I kept getting, um...distracted from finishing it, lol, but it's finally done! Yay! Well, the chapter, anyway. Okay, to those of you who are reading this, would you like this to remain a slash or would you prefer me to change it so that it's more friendship based than anything else? Because I've been toying with the idea. Just let me know, okay? And review! Please! It makes me update faster, honest. I live off feedback, haha. You must keep me alive!

Anyway. Again, sorry for the delay. I'll try to get the next chapter up quicker but I make no promises. Thanks for reading!

Chapter Three:

Stranger and Stranger

Liam kind of liked driving around with Keeley. He talked nonstop, really, and Keeley kept glaring at him but never really told him to shut up. Liam wasn't necessarily asking questions, just talking, about anything and everything, really. The radio was down low and they were just driving around, mostly in town but then they started toward the countryside.

"Why do they call it Root Beer anyway?" Liam was saying as Keeley rounded a corner out in the country. "I mean, what the hell? It's not beer and it's not made of roots, so I just don't get it. How could anyone drink something with a name like that? And who came up with the spelling of bologna? It's nothing like what the word sounds like. And speaking of which, how can anyone eat that stuff? It's disgusting."

"My God, don't you ever shut up?" Keeley finally snapped, sending him a look. Liam grinned at him.

"I was wondering when you'd react," he said with a chuckle. "So, as I was saying, bologna? Have you ever had it? It's nasty. Yuck. And why is there a candy with the name of Laffy Taffy? Seriously, it makes no sense."

"That's it. Out!" Keeley said as he started to pull off to the shoulder of the road.

"I didn't break any of the rules," Liam protested with a grin. "You said nothing about babbling on aimlessly. I like to talk. And you won't let me ask questions."

"I don't care, out!"

"I'll shut up if you just let me ask questions."

"No. Out."

"We're miles away from town!" Liam spluttered. "You expect me to just walk back? It'll take me forever!"

"It'll be good for you. Now out!" Keeley said. "You've done gave me a headache. That's a no-no."

"No-no?" Liam asked, tilting his head to the side as he smiled at Keeley. For some reason, it was fun to annoy this person. Probably because Keeley was able to get under his skin so easily. "C'mon, man, we're miles away from town!"

Keeley narrowed his eyes. "Are you going to keep quiet?"

"Sure. Why not."

"Okay. Good." Keeley nodded to himself and then they started moving again.

Liam sighed and looked out the window at the passing scenery, wishing he could get some answers. Every time he tried to bring up the questions, though, Keeley would give him this harsh look and he was forced to stop lest he be forcefully thrown out the window of the car. He had no doubt that Keeley would do it if he got annoyed enough.

"Why can't you just answer my questions?" Liam finally asked, glancing back to Keeley, his voice soft and quiet. He didn't want to really anger Keeley but he still desperately wanted answers. "I mean…I know you're hiding something. What's an Imperial Dagger? I've never heard of it. And what was that thing that attacked me? What happened to it? You killed it, right? How did it…know you?"

He remembered the thing had said Keeley's name and that was how he'd known who the guy was. But how would that thing have known his name? It didn't make any sense.

Keeley gave him a look. "Liam…you really don't want to know, okay? Trust me. Hell, I don't even want to know but--" He was cut off by the sound of a cell phone ringing loudly in the interior of the car. Liam watched as Keeley pulled it out of his pocket and brought it to his ear. "Yeah, Ross? Huh…? What? Shit." A frown crossed his face and Liam watched. "But I--Yes, sir. Okay. Bye, Dad." He hung up slowly and stared at the road for a long moment. Liam watched him with a heavy frown.

"That was your dad?" he asked slowly.

Keeley just nodded slowly and started driving back toward town, turning into one of the smaller side roads so he could turn around and head back the way they had come.

"Where are we going?" Liam asked quietly.

"I'm taking you back to town. Then I have places to be," Keeley told him without even glancing at him.

"What do you mean? Why can't I go?"

"You're crazy. I'm not taking you with me."

Liam went quiet for a moment and noticed the way Keeley brought a hand down to finger the bulge on his side, which was obviously where the glowing knife--the Imperial Dagger--was kept in a sheath. Suddenly it seemed pretty obvious as to what Keeley meant and where he was going to go and why he was suddenly taking Liam back to town. "You're going after another…one of those things, aren't you?" he whispered softly in question, glancing away and out the passenger window as he swallowed thickly.

Keeley didn't answer, just turned the radio up so the silence was filled. Liam swallowed again and his heart started to race.

He's going after another one? But why? Why would he do such a thing, and how does he even know one is near…? That guy. Ross. His own father…sending his son out after those things? What if he's hurt or…or killed or something? Liam thought to himself, wincing a little. He didn't want to think of Keeley getting hurt--again. He'd gotten hurt that first time, when he'd saved Liam. Did this Ross guy, Keeley's own father, even care that his son was out there, doing this? Something twisted uneasily in Liam's stomach.

"Where are you going to go?" he asked quietly, almost unaware that it was actually him speaking the words.

Keeley spared him a glance. "Nowhere you're going," he said before looking back toward the road. "I'm taking you back to town."

Liam bit down on his lower lip and nodded slowly, taking in a deep breath.

When they got back to town, Keeley stopped outside of the library to let Liam out. Liam started to get out of the car but then turned back toward Keeley, frowning. "…Be careful?" he started slowly, watching him. For some reason, the thought of Keeley fighting more of those…monsters was positively horrifying. Keeley may have been annoying but he didn't deserve to have to be put in danger as such. The thought of him in danger didn't bode well with Liam, either, even though he wasn't entirely sure as to why.

Keeley paused and watched him for a moment, his eyes narrowed thoughtfully. Was it really so much to think about? Liam's heart raced a little. How dangerous was this? Very…right? That thing had been ready to kill Liam when Keeley had stopped it. What if Keeley got hurt, or worse?

"Be careful," Liam said again, this time as a command.

Keeley smiled slowly. "Worried about me?" he with a faint chuckle that sounded oddly sincere.

"No! Just…yeah. Be careful."

"Yeah, yeah, I will. Now get out."

Liam started to get out of the car again but then stopped once more, turning back to face him again. "I'll see you tomorrow."

"Oh yeah? How do you figure?" Keeley asked, watching him.

"Come to the café where I work."

"Why would I do that?"

"For pancakes."

Keeley paused. "Well…they are some good pancakes. Okay, deal. See you tomorrow. I get a discount, right? You know, for saving your ass and all." He grinned to let Liam know he was only kidding, but Liam nodded anyway.

"Yeah, sure, you can have a discount."

Just be careful. Show up tomorrow, he thought worriedly, wishing he could voice his concerns but he couldn't even understand them himself. Why was he worried about this guy, again? Keeley was annoying and refused to answer any of his questions.

But that didn't mean he wanted to see the guy hurt…or worse…

He shuddered mentally at the thought and then finally nodded and got out of the car. He was left standing there, on the sidewalk, as Keeley pulled away with a small wave. He raised a hand to wave back but Keeley was already gone, moving around a corner and out of sight.

Liam stuffed his hands in his pockets and started walking. He hoped Keeley would actually be careful and come out of this unscathed. He hoped he showed up at the café tomorrow.

If he didn't, Liam didn't know what he would do. Not really, anyway. He was so confused…

Keeley drove quickly through town and into the countryside again, keeping his eyes open and ready to see anything. It was supposed to be around this area where the demon was located. It wasn't often that Ross called to give him demon locations--unless they were near him or something. His father wasn't much for research or anything like that and so it was usually up to Keeley to find them. He shrugged it off, though. A job was a job, after all, and that was what he was supposed to do--take care of demons.

He stopped the car on the shoulder of the road and got out of the vehicle. Narrowing his eyes, he scanned his gaze over the area, wondering where the demon was and what it would look like. What level was it? Hopefully it was just a low-level one so he could kill it easily and be done with this quickly. What were they all doing convening around this town, anyway? It didn't quite make sense for three of them to be in one area seemingly at the same time.

He shrugged it off for now, though. Maybe it was just a group of low-level ones who had been somewhat traveling together and he'd disturbed them by killing that one on the first night, when he'd saved Liam from certain death. Death via demon was certainly painful and no one deserved that, not even annoying Liam. Actually, Keeley hated the thought.

He didn't see anything, though. There weren't any signs of demon activity through here, but then again, he knew that demons didn't always show signs. Sometimes that was true of the low-level ones but they usually enjoyed carnage and didn't really care for covering up their bloody tracks. Higher levels usually had a different energy signature and it gave them away, so really, it just depended on the demon mainly.

He heard a snarl from behind him and barely managed to spin around in time to dodge the claws slashing mercilessly at him. They caught hold of his shirt, however, and tossed him to the side. He rolled on the ground and used his momentum to carry himself back up to his feet. The demon--yet another low-level one--lunged toward him, snarling viciously, and somehow managed to tackle him to the ground. It seemed to be onto his moves, for it had followed his dodge.

Claws dug painfully into his shoulder as the thing pinned him into the ground. "You will pay for what you've done to my brothers," it hissed angrily, glaring hatefully down at him.

Keeley winced and felt it was warm blood pooled in the wounds the demon was making. He struggled to keep his hold on his knife as pain shot down his arm and threatened to loosen his fingers. "What is with you guys repeating yourselves? Did you like, rehearse this together or something? I already told Ugly Number Two that my life's not even worth the price of a damn candy bar."

The demon growled and dug its claws further into his shoulder. "I'm going to kill you, half-breed," it hissed. "Slowly and painfully. I'm going to enjoy this."

"Yeah? Well. I'm going to enjoy this." Keeley managed to twist the knife around enough that it slashed into the leg of the demon that was pinning him to the ground. The demon growled in pain and jumped away from him, tearing its claws from his shoulder. Wincing, Keeley rolled and got back to his feet, facing the demon as it glared at him.

"You'll pay for that," it growled.

"I already told you--I'm not worth much and I don't have much money. Sheesh."

It narrowed its beady eyes at him. Why did they all look the same? Keeley wasn't sure and he'd never really wondered about it. Low-level demons just looked like this and that was about it, really. Higher-level ones were better at looking human, like a wolf in sheep's clothing. Keeley growled and waited.

The demon darted toward him again, as he knew it would. It was always better to wait and not move first, after all. The demon neared him with its sharp claws extended to slice through him, and he swiftly and deftly brought up his knife and slashed through the wrist of the demon, causing it to yowl pitifully in pain and turn away from him. That was a mistake, though.

They never should have turned their back on Keeley, after all.

Keeley moved forward quickly and jabbed the Imperial Dagger into the back of the neck of the demon and listened as it coughed and gargled and eventually fell to the ground. As it died, it disappeared into the light of fire and he wiped the yellow blood away on his pants, wincing as he grasped at his shoulder.

He'd told Liam he'd be careful. Somehow, it felt like he'd failed in that department, even though he wasn't exactly sure as to why.

Patience had never really been a strong suit of Liam's. He had never been a patient person and he certainly wasn't now. He'd been at work for two hours already and there was no sign of Keeley anywhere. Of course, it was still early and he could see how he was probably being paranoid, but he couldn't help it. He'd told Keeley to be careful and what if something had happened? What if Keeley wasn't just sleeping and wasn't going to come in later? What if he was hurt badly, or worse?

Liam quickly shook those thoughts out of his head and struggled to focus on his job at the moment. After all, maybe Keeley was just avoiding him so he wouldn't have to listen to Liam's questions again. Yeah, there was always that possibility. He sighed heavily and looked up eagerly when the bell rang, signaling that the door had opened. A woman and her daughter walked in and he felt somehow crushed. It wasn't Keeley.

Sighing again, he made his way toward their table and got their orders, his gaze always straying toward the door. The woman seemed to sense that something was wrong because she kept giving him puzzled, concerned glanced but he ignored them and hurried back to announce the order to the cook. He brought the woman and her daughter their drinks and then started to move away.

"Liam?" the woman asked, probably having read his nametag. He sighed and turned to face her, his gaze once again traveling toward the door. He knew he was probably being a bad server but he couldn't necessarily help it. His mind and heart just weren't in it today. He was distracted. Keeley was very distracting, though…what with all his secrets and-- "Are you okay?" she asked worriedly, watching him. Her daughter happily looked out the window and ignored the two of them, her being such a young age and all, probably around five or six.

"I'm fine," he said slowly. "Sorry if I've…been distracted or something." He offered a small grin toward her and she nodded slowly, still watching him. Except when she was watching him, he didn't feel as he had when Keeley had given him practically the same look. What the hell was up with that?

"Is there something wrong?"

"Um…not really, no. I…a, um…friend of mine was supposed to come in today and…to let me know he's okay and…he's not here." He shrugged and turned away, sighing again. Why was he telling her any of this, anyway?

"Oh…well I'm sure everything's okay," she said reassuringly. "It's still early, after all."

He nodded. He was thinking the same thing. "Thanks." He started walking away, still wishing Keeley would just come in already. He was still coming by, right? He'd said he would. And Liam had said he'd give him a discount on pancakes. That offer was still in place if Keeley would just show up.

Why the hell am I worried about him? Liam wondered with a frown. I don't even like him. He's annoying as hell and won't answer any of my questions.

But yet…there was something….different about him. It made Liam want to get to know him more, even though he wasn't sure why. He scrubbed a hand over his face and sat down in the chair behind the front counter with the cash register. He wished it was easier to be patient. Why was he so worried, anyway? It didn't quite make sense.

He combed his fingers through his hair and gave into a small scowl as he glared at the doorway to the café. His gaze demanded for Keeley to come through at any moment but he never did, and minutes ticked by. His order was called and he went to retrieve it, taking it to the woman and her daughter. Then he swiftly walked away lest he be caught in the woman's talking again.

Hurry up, Keeley, I'm not patient at all, he thought with a sigh as he sat back down in the chair, which was actually like a mixture between a chair and a stool. Well, really, it was just a stool with a back to it. His gaze trailed toward the clock. It had now been three hours since he'd come to work and there was still no sign of Keeley.

What if the guy wasn't all right? What if he hadn't been careful?

Liam took in a deep breath. Screw him, he thought. He never answers my questions anyway.

But yet, he couldn't stop worrying. Why? He didn't really understand. Was it just because Keeley had saved him or was it something else? Something more?

The bell rang again and his eyes darted up in relief.

"Keeley," he breathed in greeting, scanning his eyes over him. There was a slight bulge under Keeley's clothes on his shoulder but then again, Liam could have been imagining that. All in all, Keeley looked okay, just a little tired. So maybe he had just been sleeping after all. He walked around the counter as Keeley sat at a nearby table. Liam slid in after him on the other side of the booth. "You okay?"

"Yes, I'm fine." Keeley looked a little confused but said nothing about it. "So, I get my discount, right?"

Liam shrugged. "Sure, I guess." Even though technically, people weren't supposed to get discounts unless they were like…romantically involved with the person that worked there, but whatever. He guessed he could really give Keeley his discount even though the prices weren't really even that high anyway. "You were careful, right?"

"Duh." Keeley offered him a grin.

"It's dead?"


Liam nodded. "Good." Suddenly he had no idea what to say or what to talk about. Awkwardly, he stood. "So…pancakes again, right?"

"Sure. Surprise me with the drink," Keeley said, smiling at him.

Liam nodded and smirked. "Right away." He turned to call in Keeley's order, deciding to give Keeley his drink with his food again. Feeling utterly relieved that Keeley was okay and here now, he felt as though he could finally start to relax for the first time that morning. He returned to the table and settled down opposite Keeley once more. "So you're okay?"

Keeley paused and Liam felt his heart clench in unease.

"You're not?" he breathed as though he had just been kicked in the lungs. "What happened?" He fought the urge to get up and move toward Keeley and sit on his side of the booth to look him over. He wondered why he even had such an urge but he figured it didn't really matter. He had told Keeley to be careful and yet he wasn't okay. What had happened? "Keeley--" he started again, wanting to get an answer out of him even if he had to nag him incessantly.

"I just got a little scratched," Keeley said with a grunt. "I'm fine." Liam noticed the way Keeley managed to keep his gaze away from him.

"Scratched?" Liam asked, narrowing his eyes. "How bad?" He didn't like the sound of that--not at all.

"It's fine."

"Uh huh, why don't I believe you?"

"I don't know, but I think it's because you're just insane."

Liam scoffed. "Like you're even one to talk, Mr. Imperial Dagger."

Keeley gave him a look. "Don't say that so loud, damn it," he snapped, his eyes suddenly flashing to a bright golden color, making Liam jump slightly a the change. He wasn't expecting that.

"It was just…a joke," Liam murmured, frowning as he tried to figure out what was up with Keeley and his eyes. Eyes didn't flash like that, and especially not that bright of a gold, right? It just wasn't natural. But then again, exactly what of Keeley was natural? He was the walking definition of abnormal. "Is everything…okay?"

"Yeah. It's fine. Like I said." Keeley leaned back in his booth, looking a little more relaxed now. Liam stared at the sudden change. How could Keeley just jump back and forth between moods like that? It was so strange.

Keeley's order was called out and Liam stood, moving to retrieve it. He took it back to the table and sat down again, seeing as how there wasn't really anyone else in the café. The woman and her child were still eating and didn't seem like they were going to be ready to leave any time soon, with how they were talking and joking quietly, glancing at him and Keeley, smiling…wait, what? Liam narrowed his eyes at them and then returned his attention to Keeley as he started to eat.

"So where are we going today?" Liam asked casually.

Keeley nearly choked on his food. "I beg your pardon?"

"Don't beg, it's unbecoming."

Keeley snorted.

"So?" Liam prompted.

"We aren't going anywhere. I'm going out for a drive and you're going to stay here and work and then go home like a good little boy."

"Why can't I--"

"Because. Why would you even want to?" Keeley asked, looking honestly puzzled.

Liam frowned because he was wondering the same thing. He didn't even like Keeley, so why did he want to go with him? Why did he care at all? Maybe it was just because Keeley had saved him that night. Yeah, that was it. It had to be…right? Yeah. That had to be it. He just felt connected to the guy because he'd saved him. That was all. Simple.

"Uh…" he said, unsure as to how to tell that to Keeley.

Keeley shook his head. "Forget it. You're not coming with me."


"This strange fascination you have with me is bordering on stalker-ish," Keeley pointed out, raising a delicate brow, a smirk toying with his lips.

Liam glared. "Look, I just want my questions answered. Don't be so full of yourself, tough guy."

"Tough guy," Keeley repeated blankly. "Hmm. Has a certain ring to it. I approve."

Liam snorted. "Why am I not surprised?"

"Dunno. I still say you're crazy."

Liam paused momentarily. "So you're really okay?"

Keeley frowned, pausing in his eating. "You're back onto that again? Sheesh. Yes, okay? I'm fine. I just got scratched a little, nothing that won't heal in a little while. I'm good."

Liam nodded. "Okay. Good."

"Right…" Keeley shook his head as though confused and continued eating.

Liam hated to admit that he couldn't keep his eyes off of him as he did so. What the hell was wrong with him?

What the hell was up with Liam? Keeley was so confused. This human was so strange.

Liam hadn't let him leave the café until he promised to go to the library at seven this evening to meet Liam there. Why? What was going on? Liam was acting so odd…and yet it only intrigued Keeley. He wasn't sure why Liam wanted to keep meeting him, but he couldn't deny that the feeling wasn't mutual. It almost felt like…they were friends. Keeley had never had friends before…not with the life he had.

But who was he kidding? They weren't friends. They barely knew each other. Liam just wanted his questions answered and Keeley was the only way for him to get his answers. He must have thought that if he hung around Keeley long enough, he would just give out the answers in annoyance, but that was completely wrong. Keeley wouldn't tell him--couldn't tell him.

It was…well…kind of forbidden to tell normal humans.

Except that sometimes, Keeley wondered what it would be like to have a friend, someone who knew what he did, who knew what was really out there, someone he could turn to…

But that was a useless dream because it was never going to happen. He was pretty sure of that. Sighing, Keeley ran a hand through his hair, spiking it up a little as he did so. He drove silently through the streets, trying to put his thoughts together so everything would make some sense again, but it seemed that the universe wanted him to be utterly confused, and thus he remained so.

Just great.

But he had to admit…a tiny part of him was actually looking forward to the library tonight.

Preview of Chapter Four:

Keeley was down.

That was all Liam could think about.

Down, down, down. Not moving. Just down. Still. Prone. So motionless...Down, down, down.

And bloody. He couldn't forget that. Bloody, bloody, bloody. And pale. Why so still?

"K-Keeley?" he whispered as he crawled forward, the Imperial Dagger slipping easily from his suddenly numb fingers. It hid the dirt ground and stabbed into the earth as though it were only a slab of heated butter and stood straight, almost as though it were awaiting orders from its master. But its master was down, down, down, and that was all Liam could think about. Blood stained the knees of his pants and he swallowed, his heart stuttering quickly in his chest as he stared down at the too-still, too-pale form. Down, down, down. "Keeley?"

Blood. So much blood, caking Keeley's side, coating the down in its crimson richness, stealing the color from Keeley as it drained out. Blood that should have been safely locked within Keeley's veins, never allowed to turn red from the rush of oxygen.

Down, down, down.

A shaky hand reached out and Liam started when he realized it was his own. He was shaking. He couldn't stop it. The hand clasped onto Keeley's shoulder and gripped tightly, probably strong enough to leave bruises and have Keeley shifting...if he were awake. But he wasn't.

He was just down, down, down.

So...like it, hate it? What do you think? Haha, yes, I have decided to start doing previews...when I can. lol. So what do you think? Thanks for reading! Please review!