{{Sorry I've been away for so long. College takes its toll on me. It's summer though, and I thoroughly intend on adding chapters to all of my stories.}}

Milo woke up at nine fifteen, like he has for the past year and a half, exactly an hour and fifteen minutes before his alarm clock was supposed to go off. He stared at his alarm clock with contempt, not wanting to get up, but not wanting to go back to sleep either. Eventually the need to piss won. He bitterly tossed back the suffocating blankets and placed his bare feet on the freezing cold wood floor.

Sometimes Milo hated life, he really, really, did.

After relieving himself and passively washing his hands he dutifully went to his medicine cabinet for his morning buffet of pills. He took his pills like a good little boy. First the anxiety meds, which he was to take two of every two hours for the rest of his god forsaken life. He popped the little white pills into his mouth; he had taken so many that he didn't even need water. . Next was the pill for depression, which he took without argument, as long as it didn't make him worse then he was he really didn't give a shit.

However there was something off in Milo's monotonous little world. His antipsychotic was missing… well not quite missing, replaced is a better word. In his medicine cabinet there was a new bottle replacing the bottle for his antipsychotic medication, and on it was a sticky note with the words 'just give it a shot, champ'. Milo stared at the new medication, before picking it up for further examination. A new Antipsychotic, it's not like Milo needed it. He has gone two years without one hallucination. He hated the goddamn medicine; it hurt his stomach and made it difficult to sleep half the time. He didn't see the point in it, why fix something when it wasn't broken.

His father obviously thought differently. His father liked to talk about how lucky Milo was to have a psychiatrist for a father. Milo had a feeling that if his father was an accountant he wouldn't be on half the medication they shoved down his throat. Milo's father spent his time writing self help books and giving seminars now. He appeared every month or so to give Milo a checkup, which usually ended with his father calling another psychiatrist and Milo getting a new bottle of pills. Some people wondered why Milo didn't just say no; after all he was Twenty-two, no longer legally his father's possession. It wasn't that simple though. The expensive apartment Milo lived in was paid for by his father. Those expensive pills that Milo actually needed were paid out of the man's pocket. His bills from college and the nice clothes on his back. Yes, Milo's father owned him, but at least he was taken care of.

And it was so easy to be passive. Milo didn't have much fight in him. It was just so much easier to pop the pills then it was to argue. Sometimes he wondered how much of it was him and how much of it was the pills in his bloodstream. It was so easy to shake off the aggressive thoughts and continue living like he was.

Milo rolled the small bottle in his hands; the anger that was smoldering inside of him was starting to show in his eyes. He twisted the cap open and looked at the pills. They were small and red, he smiled slightly because they reminded him of the new cherry flavored Tylenol he had. Actually the more he looked at it the more they seemed identical.

He wasn't quite sure what got into him, this rebellion wasn't like him… he wasn't thinking clearly.

He tipped the bottle over and spilled his pills into the sink. With a flick of the wrist he turned the faucet on and watched as they disappeared down the drain forever. He let the water run for a moment and stared down at the empty sink, wondering just what he had done. His hands moved without him thinking, they reached for the bottle of Tylenol and poured the red pills into other bottle. He tossed the Tylenol bottle in the trash and set the antipsychotic bottle back on the shelf.

He pulled off his clothes and tossed them in a messy pile on the floor before climbing into the shower. He liked the way the ice cold water took his breath away, the way it made him feel alive for a moment. The way his scars looked when his skin was blue. He liked to trace them sometimes. He couldn't remember where half of them came from. His therapist told him that they were all self inflicted; they were in a scattered pattern around his wrists and up his hands.

That was a different time. Four years ago to be exact. Back when the line between reality and fantasy was blurred. His therapist said that he did a lot of things that hurt a lot of people. He couldn't really remember anything, and it was difficult to try and pull at the memories. The few that he did have plagued him daily. Whatever he did, he knew it must have been bad. It was why his life was full of so many rules. He wasn't allowed to drink. He wasn't allowed to be out past ten. He wasn't allowed to work. He wasn't allowed to drive. The rules made life challenging but Milo accepted them, after all they were to keep people safe.

Milo could say no, but where would that get him. Alone and on the streets… or worse. His father sometimes spoke of getting him put in a hospital if he ever broke one of the rules. They both knew Milo wouldn't pass an evaluation; the judge would eagerly have him locked away in nice padded walls. Milo was dangerous.

His days blended together, he would get up, take a shower, then walk across the street to the college where he would go to class. In class he would hide in back, keeping quiet so that no one noticed him. He would then return home and lay in bed until the next morning.

Milo wanted to die. Well maybe not quite die, it would be difficult to be any deader then he already was.

Milo wanted life… badly.

One particularly boring evening Milo found himself sitting on the balcony attached to his apartment. This was after Milo had managed to do his schoolwork, housework, and surf through every academic journal he had. There wasn't enough academic literature to keep his mind from running wild during the evenings, it seemed like with each night he was getting more and more restless. Milo was intelligent, some might even say brilliant, but it didn't seem to matter. His intelligence didn't set him free.

He sat on his balcony smoking a cigarette and drinking his evening coffee, wishing it was wine. His eyes wandered from area to area, soaking in all of the things he would never get to experience. In the apartment complex across the street there was all kinds of commotion. On the first floor was a silhouette of a young girl dancing behind the curtain. On the second floor he could see a man and woman screaming at each other through the open curtains.

Then on the third floor…. Was something Milo found particularly interesting to watch.

Milo didn't even think the man owned curtains, let alone used them. The man was a small time drug dealer, from what Milo could make out from his voyeuristic activities. Milo had seen him a few times at his college, but Milo's rules required that he not speak to him. Not that he would have anything in particular to say to him. Milo, through paying plenty of attention, found that the man was a psychology major. He found that interesting enough, since that was Milo's own major, however Milo was sure the man only went to class in order to find more clients.

Though Milo found he had some sort of soft spot for this young man. Something about the way the man would smoke on the sidewalk while staring at the night sky. He reminded Milo of four a.m. somewhere between too early and too late.

That night the man was not in his apartment, but rather he was on the sidewalk below. He doubled over, puking manufactured poisons onto the front lawn. Milo wanted very badly to go down there, and see to the boy getting home. Even if it was just so Milo could watch him in better light.

Milo took a long drag, before letting all his disappointment and smoke escape through his lips with a sigh. Suddenly, and very violently, his senses were attacked by a strong scent. A very familiar scent, bubblegum, it smelled strongly of bubblegum. This smell made his anxious, though he wasn't sure why. He tensed up and his heart started to race, everything seemed to make him anxious. All he needed was another pill, he told himself, just another pill. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his bottle of anxiety medicine, he poured two pills into his hand and tossed them in his mouth.

"Then why don't you?" The voice behind him was like ice water, it made a chill run down his spine. "Go help the poor boy out, show him the way Milo." The voice was smooth now that Milo had grown accustomed to it, smooth and sensual, wrapping around him like a warm blanket. No, not a warm blanket, more like fire lapping at his skin. It made Milo's blood warm. Sin wrapped itself around in the syllables, barely noticeable, but Milo noticed. This stranger was messing with him.

Milo turned around, and for a moment all he saw was a smile. Lips spread in a way that screamed, don't trust me. "Remember me?"

"How could I forget?" Milo asked quietly, suddenly struck with the thought that he might have drifted asleep. "Though I must admit, I don't remember much, all I remember is that you don't exist"

"Boy, I think we both know that I exist, think long enough I bet you can still remember the way my skin feels against yours" The stranger said with that same smile, "I shouldn't have left you, but I couldn't stand those pills. They killed you. You would have much rather stared at a wall then have anything to do with me"

"You don't exist, I need to call my father and tell him that someone broke in and stole my medication" Milo said as he stood up and wiped his hands against his pants.

"Why? So he can take more of your rights away? What goes next boy? You going to college? You being able to use the telephone?" The stranger grinned again, pure sin, and his words painted a horrifying picture in Milo's mind. "We can be more careful this time; no one has to know our dirty little secrets"

"You're not real though, I'm not sane. I'm hallucinating" Milo said quietly, he knew he should be having a panic attack but his anxiety medicine was in his blood. It made him almost numb, he knew with a sick sort of amusement that he should be scared, but he wasn't. It almost made him feel like he wasn't connected to his body, like he was somewhere else. Maybe he was crazy.

The stranger walked to him, a smooth confidence leaking from him, poisoning the air around him like a thick smog. Milo took this time to analyze him. His eyes were black, and they sparkled with amusement, like he had just told a particularly nasty joke in his head. His hair was dark black, and long enough to go past his ears, it was styled professionally though. He wore a black pinstripe suit, with a black shirt and a black tie. Even the band on his black fedora was black.

The strangers hand cupped Milo's face gently; his skin was so warm against Milo's cold cheek. It was horrifying how real it felt, and just as horrifying how right it felt. "You must have been so lonely without me" The stranger said warmly as he pulled a black handkerchief from his pocket and dried the tears that spilled down Milo's cheeks. Milo was frightened to realize that he hadn't even realized he had been crying.

"I need to call my father. I'm obviously not well." Milo said calmly as he backed away from the stranger.

"You're not crazy, boy. A little depressed and anxious, maybe. Not crazy though, you've been listening to your father too much. You really don't remember me do you?" The stranger got closer to Milo, and Milo shook his head.

"You were thirteen years old, so small back then, look how you've grown. You were so lonely back then, no friends to call your own, mother dead and father always working. How many tears of loneliness did you cry? You called for anyone, and I'm the only one who heard your cries." The stranger said slickly, his words bringing back painful memories, Milo felt the tears begin to build again. "I'm a demon, or at least that's what you call me. I'm just a creature that travels human to human, eating the emotions that spill from their tiny bodies. You were particularly delicious, always feeding me pain and loneliness."

This all seemed familiar, so familiar too Milo. It was as if he had heard the story before. He was sure that he had. He was the one who came up with it right? It was hard to keep logical.

"One night you put your father's gun to your head, do you remember that? You tasted so good that night. I couldn't let you die; I admit I was fond of you, addicted to your taste. I didn't want it to stop. So I appeared to you, do you remember?"

Milo did remember. He remembered black eyes and long fangs, shadows licking around the creature's skin, like serpents they moved over its body. It had frightened him, and just the memory of it causes a chill to travel down his spine.

"Yes, I remember"

"Do you remember the deal we made?"

"Yes. You would never leave me as long as I took care of you." Milo looked at the creature as slowly his memories came back to him. "You must have been so hungry when they fed me those dreadful pills, I don't blame you for leaving me. Mercade, are you hungry now?"

The name felt right on his tongue, Mercade, the name that he had given the creature. It suited him beautifully. He pulled back the sleeves on his shirt to see all of the scars that decorated his arms, all these years he had forgotten why they existed… but it all made sense now. He had caused himself pain, so he could feed Mercade.

The demon grabbed him by the wrist, his skin so warm it almost burned; there was a flash of sin in his smile. "No, my boy, that's how they caught on. We need another tactic, another way to feed me"

"Do you have a better idea?" Milo asked coldly, starting to remember why he liked Mercade. The creature was intelligent, always thinking faster then Milo himself.

Mercade walked over to the railing, and Milo followed his eyes. They settled on the third floor, where the drug dealer was now lying passed out on his floor. "He looks particularly miserable; I bet he'd be delicious. Why should you be in pain, when I'm sure he would do just fine?"

"We've done this before, and it didn't work out well for us. All I remember about it is death threats, fights, and more bruises then I care to recall." Milo said with a shrug, it was all coming back to him. The screaming, the beating, and the lies. He caused them pain, and Mercade had his feast. He still wasn't sure that he wasn't just crazy, but he already decided that it didn't matter if he was. He would much rather live in this fantasy then his father's brutally harsh reality.

"You're older now boy, I bet you can come up with cleverer, and harder to trace methods of causing pain."

Milo grinned, he felt alive again, newly revived by his purpose. He was ready to do some damage.