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by P L Nunn


Chapter 9


It was a silent, tense ride to the local mall. Todd couldn't stop seeing red around the edges and this time it had nothing to do with the Book. Fucking Randy Savage. He could deal with what the douche had done to him - maybe not well, but he could be coherent about it - - but what he'd said to Jenny just made him crazy.

He slouched in the backseat with Curtis, staring blackly at the back of the passenger seat, thinking how good it had felt Saturday night when he'd planted his knee in the bastard's nuts. Thinking that if he came across the Camero again, he'd do more than put a few dents in the door panel.

"Dude, you need to breathe." Curtis nudged him, a worried furrow between his brows.

Todd felt the urge to deny any such need - - only Curtis had a point and he was making himself a little light headed and it wasn't Curtis' fault.

"You heard what he said to Jenny," he leaned in and whispered it, as if Jenny wasn't sitting right up front and could hear.

"He was just talking trash and you let him get to you," Curtis patted his knee.

"And when I need you to get into fights for me, I'll let you know," Jenny tossed back, sounding pissed.

Todd slouched a little deeper. "That's great, Jenny. You do that."

The Crowley Mall was a conglomeration of a couple of decades worth of add ons and renovations, that made up a haphazard sort of shopping maze. There was the big main building that housed the big name chain stores, and the food court and a couple of dozen smaller shops, and then spindling off from the main complex were a bunch of strip shops, accessible only from the outside. It was the town's only big mall though, so it got a reasonable amount of traffic.

It was close to lunchtime when they walked in though, so the foot traffic around the food court was heavy. They got burgers from Elmo's Big Burger and it wasn't until they were halfway through the meal that Todd felt the tension really start to drain away. Maybe it was the wondrous greasy food, or listening to Hannah and Jenny talk about stuff like whether Hannah ought to go a little more daring for her new wardrobe than her usual habit and Hannah objecting to the idea. Curtis had an opinion on that, and the three of them got to talking fashion and Todd sat there and let the sound of their voices push away the last of the pressure.

"So, Penny's first?" Jenny asked, when they'd finished. "You guys wanna come shop with us, or meet back here in a couple of hours?"

"God, meet back here," Todd said, before Curtis could volunteer them to trail after the girls while they clothes shopped.

"They're gonna be trying on clothes, in dressing rooms - - asking for opinions," Curtis complained as they parted ways. "It could be fun."

"Dude, they're gonna be trying on clothes, in dressing rooms - - asking for opinions. I'd rather eat paint."

"What if they try on lingerie?"

Curtis had a point there. Todd considered, but decided it wasn't worth the risk. Besides, they were shopping for Hannah and he didn't picture her as the sexy lingerie sort of girl. More granny panties and sensible bras. Of course he could be wrong. He would have asked Curtis, but he was pretty certain he'd never gotten a close up personal view of what his girlfriend wore under her clothes.

Jenny on the other hand would have a drawer filled with video vixen lace panties and push up bras - - he had it all figured out in his imagination - - having pictured her more times than he could count in his mind in a wide variety of sexy lingerie.

He sighed longingly. The signals she'd been giving him since she'd come back were so confusing that he felt a little dizzy trying to figure them. Trying to figure out Jenny had always been like trying to understand trigonometry, just beyond his scope of abilities. She was so angry at the world that she didn't always let people in, but she'd been getting better before she'd left for the city.

And she'd been sort of touchy feely since she'd been back, which he didn't know how to interpret, but he thought it might be a good sign.

"Curtis, can we go smoke that J?"

"Hell, yeah," Curtis was always up for getting high.

They went outside the mall, out behind one of the shops loading dock doors, and sat on the grass next to a battered employee picnic table and lit up Curtis' joint. It was the best possible way to pass time. The pot did what nothing else could have, white washing all the stress and tension and knife edged memories of the last few days. Hold the smoke inside long enough and everything got soft edged and manageable. Sometimes when they got high, he and Curtis would babble like a pair of girls, every notion that crossed their minds brilliant and mind blowing. Other times they didn't talk at all, just sprawled, letting the weed numb all the harsh edges. They were never out of sync, not since the first week they'd known each other. Like Curtis knew him better than he knew himself. Knew when he needed to just sit there, shoulder to shoulder and drift with the undulating wave of the high.

They were still a little wasted when they headed back to cruise the mall. Curtis always said it made everything brighter and more surreal when he strolled around a place like this buzzed. With Todd everything slowed down a little, and went soft and hushed. They walked the outside shops, instead of going back inside. The stores here were smaller, most of them not franchised, less clothes and more occasional cool stuff. There was a comic book store down towards the end, and a used video game shop where they could waste time until they had to meet back up with the girls.

"Do you think," Curtis said, finally bringing things back up that he'd been thankfully silent about while Todd had been reveling in his high. "Randy's gonna stay in school? Was he just there trying to - - you know - - or what?"

"I don't know." It was unsettling thinking about Curtis having to deal with him during summer school without Todd there to back him up. Randy wasn't just an asshole, he was a violent asshole. And he had more friends to back him up than either one of them could deal with.

"What about Jenny? Is she gonna stay?"

That was a worse question. "I don't know. Her mom called her yesterday and they had a screaming match - - she wouldn't tell me what it was about, but I can pretty much figure."

"Yeah, she stole her car and her credit card."

"Curtis, she can't leave. I mean - - I think I could get somewhere if she stayed - - I told you she almost kissed me a the dance, right?"

Which vital information might not have been shared. What with Hannah's death and Curtis' subsequent blaming of him, they hadn't really been in a place where it had felt comfortable sharing world shattering personal events. It had practically killed him not to talking about it with him, though. To be honest, Curtis was a little better at the personal interaction stuff than Todd was and had been Todd's advisor in such matters since he'd been old enough to actually appreciate girls. Maybe not the best advisor, since Todd's luck in the area of the opposite sex had been pretty dismal, but maybe that was more Todd than Curtis' bad advice. There'd been a few years there, after his dad had died and his mom had started dating again and going through new husbands - - that he'd been pretty pissed off and angry. Any girl with half a brain would have avoided him. And then once he'd seen Jenny - - he could still remember that day in 8th grade, the first time she'd stalked past him, pale skin and black hair and sullen blue eyes, like an angry Goth Snow White - - and he'd been in love. Of course she hadn't known he existed until the Book showed up last year, but he'd been devoted, nonetheless.

It was monumentally unfair that as soon as she actually started showing interest that she might get taken away. He said as much and Curtis patted his shoulder sympathetically.

"It'll work out, Dude. I got Hannah back. You'll get Jenny."

"Yeah, that sounds great when you say it out loud, but when has my luck ever been that good?"

"Listen, she can be a real bitch and she's sorta mean,"

Todd snorted at the dismal accuracy of that statement.

"But she's giving you looks, man, and she's gotten all protective - - trust me, she's got it for you. Patience, dude. When have I ever steered you wrong?"

Todd could think of a few occasions, and he'd actually started tallying them up in his head, when Curtis grabbed his arm and jabbed a finger excitedly towards a store across the way.

"Holy shit, is that what I think it is?" Curtis breathed in awe.

It was a new store where the old peanut shop that had closed down a few years ago had been. The slot had been vacant since, but now there were an array of posters on the storefront windows, all of them metal bands. Death metal, grindcore, thrash, classic bands, some new bands - - all of them totally cool - - and a vinyl banner over the door that proclaimed, "Hellmouth Records".

"Awesome." A metal shop. In Crowley Heights. It was the most amazing, wondrous thing.

And it wasn't just a record store, they discovered to their delight as they burst through the doors. There was clothing and leather, buttons and jewelry, used guitars on the walls, and another wall full of the most awesome t-shirts imaginable. And most wonderful of all, a glass case full of bongs of the most creative design. There were a couple of other guys browsing through the albums.

"I've died and gone to heaven," Curtis whispered, clutching Todd's arm hard enough that it actually hurt.

Todd pried his fingers off and delved deeper into the cornucopia of wonderfulness, heading for a big wooden rack of studded, leather wrist guards while Curtis was pressing his face to the bong display.

"Holy crap, Todd, they've got a Hello Kitty bong, and a Godzilla bong, and - - and - - look at this penis bong - -" Curtis espoused.

Todd glanced at the other guys warily, hoping they didn't take Curtis' honest appreciation for bongs - - any bongs, of any shape - - as anything other than what it was.

"Dude, let's avoid the cock bongs."

"What's the matter, don't like the idea of wrapping your lips around a big cock, boy?"

The other customers heard that one and glanced his way, with wary amusement. Todd narrowed his eyes indignantly at the comment, which had come from behind the cluttered counter the back of the store.

"You're hilarious douchwad - -" he started, and stopped, the ground dropping out from under him as he actually saw the guy.

"Not cool," Curtis was saying, offended on his behalf, but Todd could barely hear him through the rush of blood in his ears. All he could do was stare, frozen in his tracks as the guy stood up, and up, as big as he remembered him from the woods when he'd been slicing into his chest. All Randy made him feel was pissed off and violent - - this guy with his small eyes like bits of obsidian and his bull neck and the tendrils of that evil tat creeping out from under his t-shirt - - this guy scared the shit out of him.

The guy - - what was his name - - Draxal - - yeah, it had been Draxal Godslayer or some such made up shit - - moved out from behind the counter into the aisle between him and Curtis, sort of blocking Curtis' easy access to the door, which sucked, because Todd wanted to take off like a bat out of hell. But he wouldn't leave without knowing Curtis was behind him.

"I'm thinking," Draxal strolled towards him, cracking the knuckles of one big hand. "It'd be a good look for you, huh?"

"Fuck you, asshole." Was about as eloquent as Todd was capable of at the moment. The other two customers were edging towards the door, figuring something way out of the bounds of normal customer relations was going down.

Draxal cast them a glower and commanded in that Danzig voice he'd perfected. "We're having a grand opening sale. Tell your friends."

They nodded hastily and scrambled out the door.

"What the hell, man?" Curtis was trying to get past the guy, but the guy wasn't moving to give him room. He just looked around once with that simmering stare of his and Curtis paled a little bit and backed off, wide eyed and confused. Not getting who the guy was, just that he was being a major dick for no reason.

Draxal moved towards him and survival instinct just took over and Todd stepped back, into the rack of leather. The guy got right up into his personal space, one hand on the rack beside his shoulder, the other on the row of albums, boxing him in.

"You miss me already, Todd?" The guy grinned at him. "Don't worry, you and me, we're not close to done."

"Oh my God, you're him." Curtis was hovering past Draxal's shoulder, finally making the connection that Todd couldn't make his vocal chords work well enough to spew out. "You're that Danzig Satanist guy, aren't you?"

Draxal shrugged, not displeased apparently by the comparison. He didn't take his eyes off Todd though. Until Curtis grabbed his arm and tried to pull him away with an angry, 'back off.'

"You have a death wish, kid?" Draxal didn't take kindly to Curtis' hand on his arm, and swung around, one big fist clenched, ready to strike. It was enough to snap Todd out of his stasis and he shoved the guy hard, as he was turning, putting him off his balance. The guy staggered a step backwards, and whether Curtis meant to tangle his feet up in the guy's legs or it was a happy accident, it happened. Draxal lurched into the record display, and Todd grabbed Curtis by the collar of his shirt and hauled him out of there, while the big guy was cursing and trying to regain his balance. They slammed out the door and ran, colliding with shoppers as they pelted blindly down the sidewalk. Todd stopped, once he'd turned the corner and reached the doors leading into the main mall, waiting for Curtis to catch up, staring around the edge of the building to see if they were being pursued.

They weren't. There were just a few disgruntled people they'd jostled in their flight, casting angry glowers in their direction. Curtis was wide eyed and panting when he rounded the corner, colliding with Todd, the both of them sprawling against the cool stone of the wall. It felt like his heart wanted to beat its way out of his chest and it had nothing to do with the run. He didn't know why he was surprised that the day had gone from bad to absolute crap - - other than maybe after half the summer bored out of his skull he'd gotten out of the habit of expecting the shit to hit the fan.

"That was him, wasn't it?" Curtis wheezed, leaning over his knees.

Todd nodded, pushing hair out of his face and looking around the corner one more time.

"Holy shit, Todd, he did look like Danzig. But like even huger."

There was nothing to do but laugh a little miserably at that observation and slide down the wall and sit there while he tried to convince his hands to stop shaking. Curtis slid down next to him, eyeing him with a furrow of concern between his brows.

"You okay?"

"Great." He shrugged, like it was no big thing, but Curtis knew him too well to believe it.

"Dude, we could go to the cops. This guy assaulted you."

Todd cast him a disbelieving glance. "Really? And tell them what? That's he's the head of a Satanist cult - - not the old one that they're probably all part of - - and that he came after me 'cause I'm the Pure Evil One and he needed to fuck me up so he could bring back the Book of Pure Evil?"

Curtis mulled that over for a bit, before he nodded slowly and conceded. "Yeah, I can sorta see the problem with that."

Todd snorted, dropping his forehead to his knees. "I can't believe that the first decent music shop in town is run by a Satanist."

"Yeah, that blows. And I wanted that bong."

Todd cast a glance up at him through his hair. "Tell me not the cock one?"

"The Godzilla one." Curtis smirked at him, then narrowed his eyes. "Was he coming on to you? 'Cause it sorta sounded like he was coming on to you."

"Gross - - no." Todd denied it reflexively, the notion just too wretched to contemplate, then he thought about it and his stomach flip flopped a little, because well, even though his experience with being hit on was limited - - there had sort of been a creepy vibe.

Eww. Just eww. "So, let's not mention that part to the girls, okay?"


Atticus had spent the last few days trying to get his life back in order. Being trapped in a hellish limbo for half the summer had left all the little everyday things of real life in somewhat of a shambles. The electric company was on the verge of cutting off his power, and he had to fight, as well as produce two months worth of past due payments to keep from being plunged into a different sort of darkness. He spent Monday afternoon begging for his job - - trying to explain away why he'd neglected to show up for work for the last few weeks of school - - actually more like a month, but apparently no one had taken note of his absence, until several weeks in someone noted the lack of a school guidance councilor.

He wasn't sure whether to be grateful that the black marks against him weren't so black, or insulted that his vital role in the guidance of young minds went so unappreciated.

Having secured his livelihood - - albeit with an embarrassing amount of groveling to Principal Mulroney - - he went about trying to put together the tattered remnants of the non-school related portions of his life. Being a Satanist was all Atticus had ever known, born, bred and raised by the brotherhood. Granted, there had been times, especially when he'd been younger and inclined to youthful eccentricities - - when he'd questioned the wisdom of the society and his father - -and one really didn't like to dwell on certain moonlight sacrifices of virginity to the dark powers - - but he'd always been a loyal follower and a good son.

So really there was nothing else to do but try and gather the shreds of his dignity and reestablish the society.

He made a few overtures to some of the displaced elderly Satanists, looking for a hint of interest in reforming the grand old Crowley Height's sect - - but for a bunch of old farts, their memories were bitingly sharp and they remembered only too well the fate of the last active members of his brotherhood. It wasn't like he had a lair to gather disciples in, anyway, with the retirement home embers and ashes - - thanks to Todd. So there was really nothing to do but consider trying to insinuate his way into this new, somewhat unorthodox sect that had invaded his rightful territory.

A Lammas day celebration seemed a good way to break the ice. A little blood letting, a little chanting to the Dark God always tended to lighten the mood. The goat farm in Crowley Heights was always appreciative of their business. They even offered a buy one get one half off discount for those special occasions when one blood sacrifice just wouldn't do.

Of course the Crowley sect had gotten a little lax in the ceremonial ritual department over the last decade or two, most of its members to arthritic to really get into a good satanic orgy of blood and sex - - but Atticus had heard tales of the good old days when Sabbath nights in Crowley Heights had been awash in sex and sin. This new group looked as if they were particularly skilled in the sex and sin department, which he found just a tad disturbing.

But thankfully, the Lammas day ritual was traditionally one of blood sacrifice only, so hopefully no joining in on orgies might be expected of him. He had rather a bad taste in the back of his brain regarding the more sexual oriented Dark Sabbath holiday sacrifices.

The voice in his head rather testily suggested he not be a pussy about it, real men took what they were doled out and manned up.

"And real fathers don't offer their sons up during Demon Revels as sacrifices to the sexual appetites of demonic forest dwellers."

The sacrifice means more if the blood involved is your own.

"How convenient for you then, that you managed to impregnate mother, you shriveled old ass."

The voice in his head chortled. Your mother was a fertile woman. Are you sure you were the only one?

Atticus stopped what he was doing, fingers frozen on the patch he was sewing onto the most presentable of the old ceremonial robes, as that thought struck him. That he might have had a brother or sister - - fleetingly alive before his father had offered blood of his blood up in a gesture of humility to gain favor of the dark lord. And for what? Power? Immortality? Riches? They'd had none of those things. What they had had was the Book of Pure Evil - -however tenuously. For close to a century it had lingered under the care of the society here. Coincidence? Or a great deal of effort and sacrifice by generations of Satanists?

"Well." He huffed out a breath, finding that notion vaguely disturbing. "And look where that got you, old man."

Four days home and Jenny found she liked living with Hannah a lot more than she liked living with her mom. Hannah didn't hog the remote control - - she didn't watch a lot of TV at all, preferring to read or research things online - - she was quiet, she did the dishes before they even started to pile up, and when Curtis came over, which he had after school for the last two days, Jenny didn't have to worry about what they might be doing in her parent's bedroom. She'd never been sure with her mom and the occasional man she'd bring home.

Hannah behaved more like a guest than a roommate and Jenny wanted to tell her to relax and chill out because she was okay with making this a permanent thing. It wasn't like Hannah had anywhere else to go, and it wasn't like Jenny's mom had any intention of coming back.

There had been a heated conversation about that yesterday, her mom threatening to have the sheriff pick her up for car theft and have her brought in handcuffs back to the city, if need be.

"Why, the only reason you want me there is so you can cash in on Dad's insurance money."

"You're a minor and you're my responsibility." Which had been the biggest load of bullshit Jenny had ever heard.

"Right and when did you develop this sudden wellspring of motherly concern? It wasn't around all those years when you'd be off in the city screwing around on dad, and dad would be off on a story. You know how many times I was home by myself for weeks at a time? Where was it when you took off and abandoned me and dad when he was in the coma? You can rot in the city for all I care, but I'm not coming back and you're not welcome here."

After which she'd stabbed the end call button on her phone like she was trying to draw blood and turned to find three sets of wide, shocked eyes on her from the couch where Todd, Curtis and Hannah had been sitting, the former two watching TV, the latter reading something on the laptop. She hadn't realized she'd meandered back into the living room during her rant. She'd started out the argument in the back yard - - which she had gotten Todd to cut for her yesterday after he'd gotten off from his summer job of cutting people lawns for money - - and had meant to keep it private.

"So you're staying?" Was what Todd had gotten from all that, and she tightened her mouth and turned on her heel to stalk into her room. She sort of wanted to cry, but she wouldn't.

"Hey, you okay?" Todd stood in her doorway, looking uncertain.

"Do I look okay?" she snapped, still angry, still out for a little blood. "God, just give it a rest."

"I'm sorry," he shrugged, trailing off a little helplessly, letting that apology cover all manner of possible ills. She had the feeling he was feeling out of his depths - - he had that slightly wary, confused look in his eyes - - and was only hovering in her doorway because he felt obligated.

"So this is your room, huh?"

She gave him a narrow glance and said crossly. "You've seen it before."

"Not on purpose," he defended the unfortunate sequence of events that had seen him in her bedroom. Naked. Jerking off. She hadn't been pleased at the time. But with a clearer head, looking back, she didn't have entirely unappreciative memories of the occasion. He looked good naked. But it hadn't been his fault. This wasn't his fault and drawing his blood when she really wanted to draw her mom's wouldn't make her feel better.

"Yeah," she capitulated, then jerked her head, giving him the go ahead, if he wanted to venture further in.

He did, sort of warily, eyes flicking about, taking in her posters, and the candles on her dresser, the picture of her and dad she still kept stuck in the frame of her mirror, the bra hanging off the back of the chair, all her private things that she felt just a little naked revealing to him.

"She really gonna set the sheriff on you?" he asked.

Jenny shrugged. "She wants the car back. I don't care. She can have it as long as she leaves me alone."

He grinned at her. "The sheriff would regret coming after you."

"Yeah? You're saying I'm such a raging bitch they'd regret making my acquaintance?"

"No!" It took him a second to realize he'd blundered into a minefield and he back peddled trying to get himself out of it. "That's not what I meant. You're such a shining example of wonderfulness that they'd feel guilty even suggesting you had criminal tendencies?"

She rolled her eyes. "Oh, God, you're reaching so far you're gonna get a hernia."

And maybe it was just her temper being up from her conversation with her mom, or maybe it was just him, with that startled, wary look in his eye, like she was something he needed to tiptoe around, but him sitting on the edge of her bed was a dangerous thing. She had the strongest urge to shove him backwards and stick her tongue down his throat. If she crawled onto his lap and straddled him, grinding her ass against his crotch, he'd be hard in an instant. She knew it for a fact, having seen no few spontaneous erections when he was just sitting in class staring at her dreamily. If she actually touched him, slid her hand down the front of his jeans, she thought he'd probably come before she even managed to get a good grip. But that was okay, he was seventeen. He'd bounce right back.

"You okay, Jenny?" he was staring at her warily.

She was breathing hard, her pulse pounding in her ears. And sanity suddenly splashed cold water on her face. If she went down that road, she'd never shake him. And though a quick fuck might not be such a bad thing, she wasn't prepared for commitment. She was terrified of it.

"Yeah, I'm fine," She shot up, just the tiniest little tingle still lingering between her legs. "So what were you guys watching on TV?"

And that had been yesterday in a nutshell.

Today, Hannah proved yet again what excellent roommate material she was, when she came to Jenny with a tentative suggestion.

"This may be out of line, Jenny and you can tell me to shut up, if it is - - but I was doing a little research about getting declared an emancipated minor. You're seventeen and with your mother's past neglect I think any judge would grant you independence from her guardianship. Just the threat of seeking legal recourse might get her to give you a little leeway."

Jenny stared at her. "You found that out for me?"

Hannah shrugged one shoulder, a little self-consciously. "You're my friend. It's what friends do. It's just information. It's up to you what you do with it, but I think it's worth looking into."

These friends of hers, Hannah and those two idiots, who up until a year ago she never would have spoken more than a passing word to, if that, never ceased to confound her.

"Yeah - - Thanks."

And after a while, once she'd gotten over the notion that Hannah, who'd just found out she'd been created in a test tube and incubated by Satanist scientists, had been thinking more of Jenny's mundane problems than her own, she'd gone back and asked. "Maybe you could show me a few sites, get me a little more information, so when I talk to her, I sound like I know what I'm talking about?"

Hannah had beamed at her, like Jenny had just made her day, and inexplicably, for the second time in two days, Jenny had felt the tiniest creep of wetness at the corner of her eyes.



Summer school let out early on Friday, and Todd was waiting for Curtis on the steps of Crowley High when he got out. It had been a relatively quiet week since the Tuesday when they'd visited the mall. There'd been no more run ins with Randy, who'd only showed up to school once that week, and had sat in the back of class staring holes in the back of Curtis' head, but had left it at that. Hannah had found an article in the Crowley Gazette Thursday about a freak accident that had taken the lives of a kid and his parents. The police were refusing to speculate on the nature of the accident, but neighbors had reported that they'd seen a spider the size of a Volkswagen skittering away from the home, before being hit by a passing truck. No giant arachnid corpse had been found, just a puddle of goo on the road, and two shriveled bodies inside the house. The couple's son, who reportedly had been an avid collector of insects had yet to be found.

The whole thing smacked of the Book of Pure Evil being back in business. And since it was back in business outside the school and likely to strike anywhere around town - - there wasn't much they could do about it, if they only found out about the incidents after the fact.

So really, they might as well go with it, until there was something they could do and enjoy a summer that had alternately gotten better and worse while they did. It sort of evened out. They got the girls back and a bunch of new Satanists with a grudge against Todd moved into town. Life was funny like that.

Todd didn't particularly appreciate Curtis' take on it until they'd scored some weed off the hippies at the fish store and gone back to the old tree house behind Curtis' house to get stoned. Todd always appreciated Curtis' moments of brilliance more when he was wasted.

"Life's like an ocean." They lay on their backs on the floor of the tree house, staring up at the missing planks in the roof. Curtis waved his metal hand pointing at an imagined fish floating overhead. "And we're like - -like fish, drifting along and sometimes there's sharks that eat some of the other fishes - - like over there - -" he pointed and Todd followed his finger, caught up in the analogy. "And sometimes they go after the fist right in front of us and we like slice them up with our razor fins - -"

"We have razor fins? Metal razor fins."

"Yeah. Because we're bad ass fish - - but we can't be everywhere so sometimes, you know, shit happens?'

He passed Todd the joint and they were silent for a while, a cloud of smoke hazing the air overhead. Then finally, Todd said, impressed. "Dude, that is so deep. So the Book is the shark?"

"No - - the Book's the ocean."

"You said life was the ocean."

"Did I? This is good weed."

They lay there, savoring the high and Todd turned his head to look at him. "What do we do if we get the book?"

"What do you mean?"

"We can't destroy it. I won't send it away again. I can't do it to you again - - or to Hannah." He shut his eyes and Curtis stared at him, thoughts whirring chaotically as his mind tried to catch up with the seriously fucked up reality that Todd had finally voiced.

"I don't know." He reached his flesh and blood hand down and grasped Todd's arm. It would have felt totally messed up grasping any other guy's hand, but with Todd it was all right. With Todd, who'd just as much as said he'd risk the book wrecking havoc on the world before he'd hurt his best friend again, it was more than all right. If he hadn't been so wasted, he'd have rolled over and hugged him.




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