Life Imitates Art

Warning: Adult Content

Josh ran a hand down his pants for the hundredth time, straightened his shirt and knocked. I can't believe how nervous I am. Our first real date. Unless you count the picnic. Keep hold of yourself tonight Josh, nice and easy, slow…

"Oh God, he's going to be here any minute. How do I look?" Sara smoothed her black knee-length skirt and checked the cuffs of her rose-colored blouse. She fretted nervously in front of the mirror, then jumped when there was a knock.

"You look great. I am sure Romeo will agree."

Sara took a few deep breaths, and opened the front door.

Josh stood with his hand in the process of knocking. His mind refused to work as he took in the sight before him. His body, on the other hand, was working just fine. His mouth was dry, his heart pounded and he began to stir.

"Hi," Sara said shyly. For God's sake, stop staring at the man. She dragged her eyes away from his body, feeling the familiar curl of desire make itself known. Man, he's looking good. "Would you like to come in for a bit, or do we need to be on our way?"

"Huh," he managed intelligently. "I mean, we should be going."

"I'll just be a sec. I've got to get my purse." Sara turned, her gauzy skirt swirling around her legs. She walked over to a nearby chair and picked up her purse. Sara opened it to make sure she had her keys and was shocked to see two silver foil packets. Her head whipped around to look at a grinning Twila.

She remembered the conversation the two of them had about confidence and being prepared, and just because one could didn't mean one had to. Twila had said that having the condoms, and knowing they were there should the event arise, would help her with what was going on. "Thank you," Sara mouthed to her friend.

Twila put on her best, 'who, me?' look and then spoiled it by giving a gracious nod of acceptance. "Don't stay out too late. I'll leave the living room light on."

"Yes, Mother," Sara joked as they walked out the door. They walked in almost complete silence out of the building to the waiting cab.

"So," Josh attempted conversation, as he settled beside her, "what do you wish to see?"

"I don't know. How about the latest Seagal flick? I love watching how bad he is." Sara laughed. Sara crossed her left leg over her right and smoothed her skirt over her knees.

He gave the driver the destination and then sat back admiring the turn of her leg. He imagined kissing them and shifted on the seat. God, he thought with disgust, you're like a dog in heat. Is that the only thing you can think of?

What is he thinking of? Why is he staring at my legs like that? I don't have a run my nylons, do I? Sara surreptitiously looked down at her legs, trying to see what the problem was. Unable to find anything, she gave a mental shrug and went back to her current favorite pastime–trying to watch Josh without making it look like she's watching him.

Drawing his eyes back to hers, he drew her into a conversation about music that lasted until the curtain went back and the trailers started. Josh shifted a few times and then settled for his arm against hers.

Is he going to put his arm around my shoulders? Sara thought. What would I do if he did? It would be just like the hug yesterday. How do I tell him it's all right? She looked to her left where Josh was sitting. I wonder… Sara put her right hand on Josh's forearm and let it sit there softly. After a few minutes, her fingers began to move absently, her index finger running lightly over his shirt.

Josh held himself still, his eyes drawn to her hand. What does she want? he thought, moving his gaze to her profile. She has sent me so many crossed signals. Are my suspicions right? Josh frowned. He found it hard to believe that someone so beautiful could still be a virgin. But her mixed behavior and signals could suggest nothing else to his mind. In any other woman this could be interpreted as permission to touch her. What is it with her? How do I find out without sending her into retreat?

He settled for watching her fingers, feeling them as if they were on bare skin. He suddenly wished he had worn the short sleeve.

Why isn't he doing anything? Is it because he's afraid of spooking me? Out of the corner of her eye, Sara could see Josh looking at her, then at her hand. He must know, must suspect… I'm going to have to do something about this. Slowly, Sara moved her left arm, gradually pushing Josh's arm off the armrest. Hoping he was at least slightly cramped for space, she leaned sideways and whispered in his ear.

"Wouldn't you be more comfortable with your arm along the back of my seat?" Sara's voice was tinged with amusement.

Does she have any idea what she is doing to me? I hope not, because if she is playing games… Josh slide his arm along the back of the seat. Sara reached up with her right hand and entwined her fingers with his, and gradually worked his hand down onto her shoulder.

He sighed and the person behind them shushed. Josh shared a small smile with Sara feeling tension drain out of him. He wondered what would happen if he turned and thanked the man. He drew Sara as close as the theater chairs allowed and turned his attention back to the movie. What are we watching again? Oh, yeah.

He began making small circles with his thumb on her shoulder.

Sara succumbed to temptation and rested her head on Josh's shoulder. That wasn't so difficult. If I had known that just touching was this pleasurable, I might have tried it earlier. No, scratch that. It's Josh that's making it so wonderful. She had just turned her attention back to the movie when she felt Josh's hand move. What's he… Oooh, that's nice.

Josh felt a vast contentment settle over him. Although he wished that he had better room to stretch his legs out.

Halfway through the movie he shifted her head up so he could whisper in her ear. "I like the way your skirt moves when you walk." He paused. "I have to go. Do you want anything from the stand?"

"Yeah," Sara whispered back. "Some popcorn would be nice, thanks. But don't be gone too long. I was really comfortable, sitting like that." She gave Josh's hand a quick squeeze, then turned her attention back to the movie screen. What does my skirt have to do with his going to the bathroom? Sara was suddenly glad she was in a dark theater, as her face was burning. What a twit you are, Sara. He's already said once that he wants you. Am I doing anything to… I don't think so. Surely just sitting like that isn't enough to make him that uncomfortable. No, I'm doing okay.

A few minutes later, he slid back into his seat and handed her the popcorn. Slipping his arm back across her shoulder he whispered.

"I also like the way your jeans and jogging pants fit over your rear end and along your legs." He turned his attention back to the screen and reached for a piece of popcorn.

Sara's heart began to race, and she shifted in her seat, suddenly conscious of how her skirt clung to her legs. She fought the urge to pull the hem of her skirt over her knees. He's not playing fair again. Is he trying to get me to say something too?

"You're not so bad yourself. I still can't decide if I like you better with or without your shirt." Sara bit her lip, then shoved some popcorn in her mouth so she couldn't say anything else, regretting her impulsive words. Oh geez. Now that was brilliant. Let's just hope he doesn't find out what you've done with the photos you took last night.

He smiled and gave her shoulder a squeeze. "I love the way your eyes light up when you see me."

He caught her hand as it left the popcorn bag and he gently took the popcorn from her fingers, letting his tongue touch her fingers briefly.

Sara's eyes widened for a moment, then a smile crossed her face. I hope Twila doesn't ask us about the movie. It looks like we won't be seeing much of it. Slowly and deliberately, Sara picked up another piece of popcorn and held it out to Josh.

He gently ran his tongue over her palm and then curling it around the popcorn, brought the piece into his mouth.

Sara looked at Josh in amusement, covering the stab of desire. She leaned forward so her lips almost brushed his ear. "Do you always eat popcorn that way?"

She returned her head to Josh's shoulder and got herself some popcorn. For a while she alternated feeding herself and Josh. Sara shifted in her seat occasionally, becoming more and more uncomfortable as the ache she felt became stronger, pulsing with her heartbeat. Oh lord, I can't believe I feel this way. What is it about him that has this effect on me?

Josh forced himself to relax and accept the kernels of corn. He longed to reach under her skirt and see if she was really as wet as he believed, but he stilled his hand, leaving it clenched on his knee. Slow, nice and slow. Like feeding birds, if you are patient enough they'll eat out of your hand. Eventually. He also resisted the urge to feed her, wondering if she would copy his own example as she had kissing. He knew that would be his undoing.

So lost was he in his own thoughts that he jumped when people started standing up and the lights went up. Blinking he felt a surge of panic. I hope she doesn't ask me any questions about this movie.

"So what do you want to do now?"

"I wouldn't mind going for a bite to eat. Someplace quiet, I think. Do you mind?" Sara asked. "Maybe between the two of us we can figure out what the movie was about," she laughed.

"Umm, bad guys, a lot of martial arts, that sort of thing. I think."

"I need to go before we leave. Wait for me here?"

"Okay," he smiled as he watched her walk away. Slow and patient. God, she's going to kill me!

Sara finally got into the bathroom stall and relieved herself, and was mortified to find that the crotch of her panties were soaked. Dear God, she thought to herself. I can't believe this has happened. Sara pulled a handful of toilet paper and proceeded to try and dry the fabric as best she could.

She flushed the paper and adjusted her clothing. Her nipples were hard and extremely sensitive, and Sara felt like she wanted to hide until she had calmed down. But that's being a coward. Just go out and face him. He might not guess what's up. Yeah, and I'm a monkey's uncle.

Sara made her way to where Josh was standing. "Is the restaurant within walking distance? I wouldn't mind a stroll tonight." My face is probably bright red, she thought to herself. I can't believe it. Maybe the walk will help me cool off a bit.

He watched her face begin to burn as she walked up to him. She kept her eyes on his face and Josh was glad she did. He could feel his heart pound. Not trusting himself to answer, he nodded and opened the door for her.

Looking around he soon found what he was looking for and walked over to the vendor. Quickly he purchased a couple of pretzels and a soft drink. He walked back over to her and handed her the drink. He walked beside her for a while, handing her a pretzel, he placed his free arm around her waist. The docks, quiet, we can see the Statue. And there are enough dark pockets to neck without getting arrested. He angled their walk towards the docks.

As they walked out on the dock area, they stopped at waste basket and chucked the garbage.

"Sara? Did I upset you talking that way in the theater?"

"No," Sara answered. "It's just that I normally don't have men saying those things to me, that's all. I'm not exactly popular with the guys back home." A wry smile crossed her face. "What with the nickname they've given me, not to mention the five or six big jocks who ended up flat on their faces or asses when they made the mistake of thinking I was their new toy, I'm not surprised." Should I tell him the last thing they implied I was?

"Their loss, my gain." He cocked an eyebrow at her inquisitively, the question plain in his voice.

"They called me Ice Bitch," Sara said in an offhanded way, though the nickname still stung. "I didn't date at all in high school or university, and I've never really been one for big parties with lots of people I don't know. Needless to say, I wasn't a social butterfly."

He winced at the pain in her eyes. They obviously don't know what the hell they're doing.

"I have to admit it is a bit disconcerting to be hearing the words being said, but it doesn't upset me." Sara slipped her arm around Josh's waist and moved closer to him. "Besides, Twila has been bugging me to stop wearing long skirts and slacks because she says I have great legs."

"Have you been to the Lady yet?" he asked, pointing out at the floodlight-bathed statue.

"The Lady? Oh, you mean the Statue. No, we haven't," Sara said with a sheepish grin. "I've been far more interested in the museums and galleries, and Twila has taken it upon herself to completely overhaul my wardrobe, so I've seen a lot of stores."

He leaned into a corner rail and crossed his legs. Reaching out he gently pulled her to him. He brushed her hair away from one ear and whispered softly.

"I think about your legs. I've even dreamed about them. I don't believe that a more perfect pair exist. Did you enjoy the popcorn?"

"Flatterer," Sara said with a laugh. "Yes, almost as much as the eating of it."

He made sure to keep his touch light as he ran an index finger slowly up her spine. With his other hand he tried to work his shirt free without letting her know.

A shiver of delight passed through Sara's body, and her body tingled in the wake of his touch. And here I thought those romances were all just hogwash when they talked about this sort of thing. Her eyes fell closed as she concentrated on the sensations Josh was arousing in her.

He reached out and cupped one of her hands, bringing it to his mouth he kissed it gently.

"Are you still trying to decide whether you like me with my shirt on or off?" As he spoke, he guided her hand under his shirt and splayed it against his abdomen.

He then removed his own hand and gently cupped her ass. Leaning in to kiss her neck, he whispered, "You can have both."

Sara's breath caught in her throat as a heavy wave of desire crashed into her. Her hand flexed, her fingers tentatively moving, exploring the warm, soft skin. She found the line of hair on the middle of his abdomen and followed it down until her fingers brushed the waistband of his pants. Sara's touch lingered there for a brief moment, then began to work its way upward.

She could feel the heat of Josh's hand through her skirt, and a brief thought that there might be something wrong was swept away by the knowledge that the man holding her wouldn't harm her.

Sara slid her other hand under Josh's shirt and ran her nails ever so lightly down his back, hoping he would like it as much as she did. She brought her hand to his chest and spread it out wide. Sara's hands moved upward towards his shoulders, and her fingers curled in the crisp hair on Josh's chest.

Sara felt her knees begin to go weak at the pleasure washing over her, and she swayed forward slightly, moving closer into Josh's embrace.

Josh shifted his stance to an open one as she leaned against him, his breathing unsteady, knowing if he let it continue they would get arrested. But she was so receptive, if he broke the mood would they get it back. He looked around. The only other people were another couple, but they were a ways away.

He moaned as her fingers brushed his nipples and lowered his head to her mouth, running his tongue over her lips, waiting for her to open for him. He slowly inched her shirt out of her skirt.

Sara's mental alarm went off as she felt the slow pull of her shirt. She resolutely pushed it away, preferring the seductive pull of desire. She scratched Josh lightly with her fingernails and opened her mouth, inviting him inside.

Sara sighed as their tongues met and curled around each other. Oh God, we're out in public, anyone can see us… I don't care. Don't stop… The muscles in Sara's taught abdomen spasmed when Josh's hand caressed her skin. Unconsciously, Sara arched her back. Fire burned in her as his hands slowly worked their way upwards, gently exploring. Her nipples were as hard as stone and incredibly sensitive as his fingers brushed lightly against them. Her moan was tinged with a slight, husky purr.

She pulled her hands from under Josh's shirt and wrapped her fingers in his hair. I love his hair. Oh God, what is he doing to me… He's driving me crazy. God, I need him. Does he know how much?

Josh let his thumb circle her nipple. He lowered the other to grip her ass, caressing. Need another hand… The thought skittered across his raging desire as her moans raced straight to his groin. He pulled her ass towards him and thrust up against her. His mouth dropped to her other breast, rasping across her nipple through the cloth of both blouse and bra. His cry as their two centers met was sharp and short. Need…

"Sara…" His breathing was ragged, and he had to say her name twice to get it out coherently. "Put your legs around me. I'm… Oh God… Sara!"

He lost his train of thought as she once again played follow the leader, and her tongue lashed out over his breast.

"Move… bushes…"

The blood was roaring in Sara's ears, and she barely heard Josh's words. What is he talking about? What about the bushes? No, wait. No way. "No, Josh," Sara said, her voice thick. "Not here. Not in public. Please." Her body trembled with desire, but the thought of continuing to act like this out in public was starting to frighten her. The area over by the bushes was so dark. Was there a mist beginning to rise?

He nodded. "Your place, shorter."

He paused and then laughed softly at the image of him carrying her all the way home with her legs wrapped around him. Reluctantly he pushed her away and then stood, rubbing the small of his back where the rail had pushed in. He wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her tight to his side.

As they walked back to the street, the passed the second couple who had found their own corner. They were much more daring, for the woman was giving the man a blow job. The man's eyes followed them. Josh grinned and winked. The man relaxed a little and winked back. All Sara could see was the back of the woman's head moving back and forth.

The ride home was frustrating as Josh was allowed only a few short kisses and her snuggled up against him. As she inserted the key in the lock, Josh leaned against her kissing her shoulders and running his hands over her thighs, one hitched her skirt up and he lightly ran a finger along the inside of her thigh.

Sara's leg twitched slightly. "Josh!" Sara protested half-heartedly as she turned the key and opened the door. As soon as she had closed the door behind them, Josh was leaning up against her, pinning her to the door. His left hand went under her shirt again and continued its ministrations that were interrupted earlier. With his right hand he reached behind her, sliding under her skirt and caressing her ass. His fingers lightly brushed the crotch of her panties, and he went painfully hard when he felt the wetness that had soaked through.

Sara's eyes were half-closed and drugged with passion. Her fingers became wrapped in his hair and she became the aggressor, plundering his mouth. A whimper came from Sara as he continued to explore her body with his hands and lips.

Now! Josh moved his other hand under her skirt, cupping both ass cheeks, he pulled her closer. His mouth went over on breast and then the other, alternating between licking and sucking. Lifting her up a little so he could use his foot when needed, he braced her against the door and hooked his hands inside her panties. He slipped them down, running his hands over her ass cheeks, kneading them and then down the back of her thighs. He finally hooked his foot in her panties and lifting her up slipped them off her entirely.

"Legs… wrap…" he breathed against her neck, showing her what he wanted.

Sara moaned and held herself closer to Josh, barely capable of rational thought. Her entire body was driven by need. Feeling Josh was the only thing that mattered.

He then backed up a few spaces and lowered them both to his knees. While he accomplished this, he resumed his exploration of her mouth. He guided her to the floor. His hands went under her shirt hunting out the clasp of her bra. Once undone, he moved to the outside to undo her buttons. His fingers were having problems so he solved the it by biting the buttons off. Finally he reached his goal and his mouth plunged over a bare breast

Darkness flashed in her memory, the sound of wood hitting the pavement.

He lay down resting a portion of his weight on Sara as he continued to suckle. He thrust against her, running his hands to the insides of her thigh to move them further apart. His breath was coming in quick gasps now.

The weight on top of her. Suffocating her. Rising fear.

"Sara. Want… inside…" He whispered a few words in his native Spanish as his hands went to his pants, fumbling with the belt. "So sweet… tight… mine…God Sara… mine… now."

His mouth went back to a breast and he took a nipple in his teeth, pulling it out gently.

Inside… Mine now… Sara felt as if a bucket of ice water had been thrown on her. "Josh, stop, please. I can't… I don't want to do this. Let go of me." Sara began to panic when Josh showed no sign of stopping. "I said stop!" Sara yelled, pushing him away and scrabbling to her feet. Her entire body was shaking.

Twila's door flew open. She sprung into the living room, and grabbed a lamp.

"I thought you'd be different. Get the hell out of here. Get away from me!" Tears of anger, fear and frustration were streaming down her face. "Get away from me!" She clutched her open shirt together and fled the room, passing Twila without seeing her.


Josh pushed himself up and stopped when he saw how close the corner of the coffee was to his face. A few centimeters more… Icy fear gripped his stomach. Another wave crashed over him. Sara!

He started to rise and a shoe in his groin stopped him. He looked up into the angry face of Sara's roommate. She leaned forward, putting a little more pressure on her foot.

He leaned back. "I have to talk to Sara."

"I think you've done quite enough," Twila hissed. "I suggest you leave."

She launched herself off him, causing him to wince. She quickly opened the outside door and placed herself between Sara's door and the beast before her. She grasped the lamp, swinging the cord idly.

Josh managed to stand up. He glanced from Twila to Sara's door and then back. "Look, I just want…"

Disgust and anger flared across Twila's face. "'You want.' Gods, you're as bad as him."

She grabbed him and pushed him outside.

Him? What's she talking about? How did it go so wrong so quickly? Josh felt as if he had stepped inside a twister.

"No," Twila continued to verbally tear at him, pushing the much larger man ahead of herself out into the hallway. "You're worse. Taking her out, insinuating yourself into her trust. At least he was more straightforward. He just raped her. At least he didn't try to camouflage his intentions. God's breath you make me sick! And to think I encouraged her, you son of a bitch!"

Josh became completely still. Someone hurt Sara? Is that what she is saying? Josh could feel rage wash over him and he grabbed Twila and shook her.

"What are you talking about?" His voice was very quiet, his eyes darkened.

Oh Shit. Twila swallowed and then sneered at him, "Cover it however you want. But Sara isn't wearing a please rape me sign. You would think once enough. I wish I had taken the gun Thea was trying to push on me. Son of a bitch."

Twila was so startled when he released her that she almost fell. Hefting the lamp, she prepared to do battle. She lowered the lamp a little at the sight in front of her. Josh was staring straight ahead, his face pale, and he seemed to have trouble breathing. He found a wall and leaned against it. He trembled. But I didn't touch him, Twila thought blankly. Why is he behaving like this?

"Raped. Sara was raped."

Twila nodded slowly, and winced. After she said she didn't want him to know. Not cool, Genrin. "And you were just picking up where he left off."


Josh surged to his feet. "Never, I would never… Oh, God."

Twila watched in amazement as he went to his knees hands pressed to his head. A low moan of anguish escaped from his rocking form and he begin speaking, low and fast. Twila wondered if he even knew she was there.

"I thought she was a virgin. It was the only thing that fit. The hesitation, but the enthusiasm once I showed her a pleasure. Her little game of follow the leader. And when she put my arm around her… I thought she'd be ready for a little more. But she was so receptive, letting me touch her, letting me remove her…" He took a deep shuddering breath, "And then we got to that point… You know. Where you know it's time. And she was so hot… Oh my God. Why didn't she tell me? I would have…"

He looked up and Twila was shocked to see the tears. He's crying.

"What do I do? How do I…"

"Go home, Josh." Twila lowered the lamp and took a deep breath. "Just go home. There is nothing you can do. It's over. I don't expect we'll see you again. Good bye."

She turned and locked the door behind her. She then turned to Sara's door. My poor Sara. I should have been up. I should have… What's done is done. Time to try to pick up the pieces.

Sara sat huddled in the far corner of her bedroom, her arms wrapped around her knees and sobbing. You are MINE! She whimpered slightly. I'd never hurt you, Sara. So tight… I've got to be inside you, make you mine. "How could he?" Sara's whisper was full of anguish. "I trusted him. Oh God, why?"

There was a faint pop, then the room went dark. Suddenly, Sara was fifteen years old and walking home from school. Aron's large hands grabbed her, ran his hands all over her body. Tearing her shirt. Biting her breast. Sara's hand covered what faint physical traces were left the attack. His voice. Those words. "Always those words!" Sara sobbed out.

"Sara? Honey…" Twila stood watching, her heart breaking at the sight. She wanted to hold her but was unsure if Sara would accept even her touch. She squatted down in front of Sara. "It's okay. It's over. He's gone. You're okay now."

"No, I'm not," Sara answered through her tears. "It'll never be okay. Ever. I trusted him. I wanted him so much, so badly. But then he said the same thing Aron said. I wanted to stop, but he wouldn't." Sara's sobs started anew.

"Is it always going to be like that? Why did he say it, Twila? Why? He's not like Aron. He can't be. Please tell me he's not." Sara looked at her friend in desperation, needing to hear the words.

Twila gathered Sara in her arms, her mind going over Josh's reaction. Would he have reacted the same way if I never told him? Probably… She sighed. "No, Sara, I don't think Josh is like Aron. He… he was crying when he left. What words, Sara?"

"They wanted to be inside me. They wanted to own me. 'Make you mine,' they said. Twila, after Aron, I was so scared about everyone new I met. Of what they wanted form me, especially the guys. It took me a long time to get over that fear. I was afraid of getting hurt again. Linda and her family disappeared just before the trial, and I was left alone to testify, but it was enough to put those bastards away." Sara wiped her face with the cuff of her sleeve.

"Other than Jenna and Father O'Mallory, there wasn't anyone I trusted until I got to university. Then it seemed like all the guys were after only one thing, and all the women looked at me funny because I wasn't interested. Except for you. And then Josh. I don't know what I am going to do. Are all men like that? Needing to possess you?"

Twila sat quietly for a few moments. "I think… I think that they all say things like that. Or something similar. Every man I have ever slept with has. Except for Gary, he was mute. And he didn't know, Sara. As for not stopping, it could be that he was so caught up in trying not to hurt you that he didn't register it. I am sure he would have stopped otherwise. He thinks you are a virgin."

Sara looked at Twila with surprise. He does? He was trying not to hurt me?

"I could have quite cheerfully shot him, Sara. And I won't let him near you again unless that is what you want. But no matter what I think of him, I think he would rather cut his dick off than knowingly hurt you."

Sara shook her head wearily. "I'm so confused, Twila. I'm not scared of him, though the things he makes me feel frighten me sometimes. He's the only man who's been patient with the freaky way I act at times, and he's been very considerate. He's the only man other than Father O'Mallory for whom I've felt something other than disgust, contempt or fear. I just don't understand." Sara toyed with the ragged threads of her shirt. "Did he… Did he say anything to you when he left? Was he angry at me?"

"I've never seen a person of his complexion go the proverbial white before. It's an interesting color," Twila answered.

"He fell to knees, told me what had happened, well, more or less. He was crying. I've never seen a grown man cry before. No, I don't think he was angry. Scared maybe. I think what you said hurt him."

"Oh God, I never meant for that to happen. What am I going to do?" Sara buried her head in her hands. "Everything is going all to hell. The story of my life and relationships." She sighed. "Man, have I screwed things up big time. I'll probably never see him again. Even if he forgave me, I don't think I could forgive myself and show my face."

"Don't you dare take the entire blame for this evening, Sara Carolynne Mclintock. He'll forgive you anything. And you will forgive yourself."

"I can't talk to him right now. Could you… Could you talk to his roommate and find out how he is? Let him know I'm sorry?"

"In the morning love. Let's let everyone get settled down. Did you want me to stay with you tonight?"

"I'll be okay. I'll just take one of my sleeping pills if I have any problems. Thanks, though." Sara smiled weakly. She closed the door behind Twila then started to dig into the back of her closet. She pulled out a slightly worn teddybear, and straightened his clothes. "I'm going to have to get you some new threads, Lance. You've been on duty for along time, and you deserve it."

Sara took one of the pills, changed and went to bed, clutching her old protector in her arms. Wishing he had long dark hair and the eyes of an eagle…

Across the city…

Josh Blackburn staggered into his apartment, not sure how he had gotten there. Sara's face kept itself planted in front of his eyes. The fear in her eyes. Of him. Twila's words, raped… he was worse… Josh staggered and a lamp went over, crashing to the floor. He looked at it, puzzled, for a few seconds, and then the anger crashed through him. Anger at himself, at the man who had dared to touch his Sara. And self-loathing.

With a cry, Josh picked up lamp stand and threw it with all his strength. He began to destroy his apartment, his self-loathing and anger fueled by Sara's face and the destruction.

Ted Holin jerked out of sleep at the first crash. Burglars. He jumped out of bed and opened his closet. Grabbing the box that held his gun, he quickly loaded it, his hands shaking.

Slowly he inched into the living room. It was a disaster, and in the middle of it was his roommate. As Ted watched in astonishment Josh actually picked up the small chesterfield and threw it. The damage deposit! Ted had seen Josh's rages before. Not many people who met the young man could believe the strength of his anger once broke over him. Ted was not one of those people.

Quickly throwing the gun back on to his bed, he returned to the living room. Josh was moving into the kitchen. Ted moved to intercept. As he moved closer, a wave of alcohol hit him. He's been drinking. I thought he quit? Sara must have dumped him.


With a roar Josh turned on him. His fist solid connected with Ted's face. Ted staggered and then felt Josh tackle him. They both went down. For a few minutes there was only the sound of bodies moving and the grunts of effort. But slowly Ted's wrestling experience overcame Josh's anger. Ted held him pinned until he felt Josh go limp.

Ted gingerly touched his eye, it was beginning to swell. He got up and maneuvered among the living room debris to the kitchen for some ice.

"For the love of God, Josh! We do have, or should I say had, a damage deposit. The neighbors have probably called the fucking police. Just because… Hey, are you listening to me?"

Ted walked out to the living room, but Josh wasn't there. Looking around, Ted noticed that the light in his bedroom was on.

"Damn it, Josh…" Ted walked into the bedroom and stopped, fear freezing him in his tracks. Josh sat on the edge of the bed, Ted's gun cradled in his lap. He was stroking it slowly.

"Josh. Jesus. Give me the gun." Ted was surprised at how steady his voice was. He extend his hand, fear clenching his stomach into knots. "Please, Josh."

"I almost raped her. I promised I wouldn't hurt her."

The gun rose slowly and Josh cocked the hammer.

"Stop! Josh, you're Catholic, you can't do this." Ted inched forward, wracking his brain for anything that might stop this nightmare. I'm getting rid of that thing.

"But I've already destroyed heaven…" Josh laughed unsteadily.

"What, what about your father?"

Josh finally looked at Ted; his eyes were red, and he swayed gently. But at least he's listening.

"What did you tell me that your dad had said? You can't quit. How could he be proud to call you his son after that?" What was it that Josh had said his dad always said? Sweat trickled down Ted's face.

"I know–if you break something or, or do something wrong then it is your duty to do something about it."

Ted could see the despair in Josh's eyes deepen.

"How about your nephew," Ted cried out desperately, searching for anything to stop the slow rise of the gun. "The one that you keep reading to me about. The one that hears about something that you've done and promptly goes and does it. Good or bad. What about him? What happens when he hears that you blew your god damn fool head off?!"

The gun halted in its course.

"And what about Sara? Do you want her carrying the guilt that you shot yourself over her?"

Ted reached out and grabbed the gun, sighing in relief when Josh didn't resist. Ted staggered back a few steps feeling sick. My gun. Sweet Jesus. His family. Ted dashed into the living room and hunted up the phone. Quickly he rummaged through Josh's things and with a trembling hand dialed the number in Madrid.

"Hello. I need to speak to Señor Blackburn, please. It's very important. Gracias."


"Señor Blackburn, this is Ted Holin, Josh's roommate…"

"Has something happened to my son?"

"Well yes, I think so, sir. He just tried to shoot himself." Ted glanced into his bedroom and was relieved to see Josh lying on his back, not trying anything else. "I think he's hurt inside, heart wise, emotionally. I've never seen him like this. I think he needs his family."

The man on the other line swore softly. "I will wire some money, get him on the first plane home. Thank you Ted, I am happy my son has such a good friend."

Ted listened to the dial tone and then he sank down among the ruins of the living room. He let himself react, shaking at the thought of how close he had come to losing a friend.

Sara awoke the next morning to see Twila sitting on her dresser. She was frowning and twirling a lock of hair. Sara knew that her friend was troubled, uncomfortable about something.

"What's wrong, Twila?" Sara asked sleepily. "What time is it?" She rolled over to look at her clock. The clock read 2:00 p.m.

"Josh isn't at home," Twila sighed heavily. "I'm sorry, Sara. Ted said he went home to Madrid and then he hung up on me."