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Hi! I'm kind of boring but I post a lot and try to keep up with my friends list fairly well. I'm generally open to new friends, but if you're adding me out of the blue, I wouldn't mind a note or something letting me know where you found me.


Review: Direct Contact by Ninette Swann

I've spammed this all over creation already, but I'm putting it here, too, because the Blog Tour link is pointing here. To read my review, please go here.

Thanks! :D

Idol, anyone?

Since I've already talked like a squillion people into participating and then not done so myself, why not finish the job?

This is a mini-season, and judging from the way the last one went, it's way less stressful than the normal seasons. No hell week, no Gatekeepers, none of the really tear-your-hair out stuff. So it's a great way to get your feet wet if you've been wanting to try Idol and were too scared of the pressure. And there are still a few spots left!

With that said, there's also a $5 suggested donation to play in the mini-season. I will happily sponsor one or two of you. If you're shy about asking for a sponsorship in the comments, just PM me or email me at n3m3sis42(at)gmail(dot)com.

The sign-up link is here:

It links to the FAQ if you need to know more. If you want to know about my experience with season 8, feel free to ask me. I also had a bunch of friends do the previous mini-season, so I'll be more than happy to explain my view of how it went (which means shit because I didn't play).

Anyway, doooooo eeeeeeet.

My friends are in the LJ Idol finals!

Yep, that thing I narrowly missed in season 8, in part due to being at a work conference the whole week I was eliminated and in part because I guess it was just my time. How cool is it that in this mini-season, TWO of my friends are finalists? Of course, as luck would have it, they're both in the very bottom right now (and the poll closes tonight at 9 pm).

talonkarrde wrote my very favorite entry this week, is a beast of a writer, and provided encouragement near the end of season 8 when I was seriously ready to give up (hell, I did give up).

milk_and_glass is a longtime friend of mine, a talented writer, and... well, she's the kind of friend everyone should have. We went through the crazy of the top 5 of last season's Idol in all its ugliness and drama. We came out the other end still friends. And she never stops trying.

If you could, please take the time to check out all four finalists' entries and vote for any you like.

Oh yeah, the poll:
I'm participating in a Blog Tour for my friend Ninette Swann and her book, Just the Messenger!

Ninette was super sweet and didn't yell at me even though this post was supposed to be up on THURSDAY. And while we're playing Full Disclosure, I should admit that I don't normally read romance novels and know absolutely nada about them. I think I read one back when Fabio still did book covers. So to be fair, I can't evaluate this book on any scale that would be useful to avid romance novel readers.

Just the messenger_final

What I can tell you is a little about the sexy bits and what I loved about them, along with a few other thoughts.

[non-graphic, but contains spoilers]I love to read guy-on-guy smut (and occasionally, I even like to write it). It pushes all my "like" buttons. I love threesomes where the men don't just tolerate each other but actually want to be in each other's presence. And this book provided all that in spades. It felt daring to me, although I have no idea how common that sort of thing is in the romance world.

The emotional relationship between the two male protagonists was handled sensitively and felt realistic. It was refreshing to see them struggling with jealousy because each wanted to be with the same woman while also dealing with their feelings for each other. This added an extra dimension to the story that I wasn't expecting.

There were some places where I felt Ninette might not have been entirely familiar with writing male/male sex scenes. But to be fair, I feel that way about my own m/m sex scenes when I write them. There is just no sexy way to describe balls. And buttholes. You know?

I hesitate to make comments on the plot and characterizations because I have no idea how those traditionally work in the romance novel world. But since I have huge balls (sac? orbs?), I will attempt it anyway. Let's start with the plot. It was fast-paced and kept me reading because I wanted to know what was going to happen next.

Gene and Marco, the male protagonists, were more typical "manly men" than the (admittedly often way too in touch with their feminine sides) men I tend to write. With that said, they clearly loved and wanted to protect Graciela in a situation that was way over her head. Graciela was a strong-yet-naive female who never ran away from a challenge and handled a really bizarre situation with, well, grace (pun definitely intended).

The ending was a happily-ever-after with an interesting twist. Overall, if you're a fan of the romance genre, I'd recommend this book. It's a quick read and kept me guessing all the way through.

Here's the official blurb for the book, graciously provided by the author:
[promotional stuff within]
When Graciela Merced fumbles a package she’s delivering for her mysterious and sexy boss, Gene Hardy, she finds out he’s more than just a wealthy photographer. Prepared to lose her job, she confronts him…and ends up embroiled in the tricky takedown of a powerful drug cartel pushing cocaine into the heart of New York City.

Marco Valencia is an undercover agent, working against time—and against Gene Hardy—to crack Angel’s Drug Cartel before the story makes it to the press. When Hardy’s luscious Venezuelan messenger literally falls at his feet, he has no idea just how well he’ll get to know the beauty or how difficult it will be to drop her.

Hardened by experience, Gene Hardy takes his undercover work seriously, and charges a hefty price. When Grace makes a careless mistake and hurls him back into the visage of Marco Valencia, he must either fire her, or involve her in a twisted plot that could kill them all.

As the two men battle over their feelings for Graciela—and their attraction to each other—one thing becomes perfectly clear.
Grace is much more than just the messenger.

Some information about the author:
[and she"s the sweetest person ever, with orbs of steel]

Ninette Swann is a journalist turned novelist who writes her books from sunny Florida in between parenting, freelancing and editing. She writes all genre of romance, including contemporary, thriller, suspense, and dystopian. Her books include Hit and Stay, Body Combat, Finding Home, Just the Messenger and Direct Combat.

Blog: http://ninetteswann.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/NinetteSwann
Twitter: https://twitter.com/NinetteSwann, @ninetteswann
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6426460.Ninette_Swann

Buy links in case you're interested in checking out this book for yourself:
All Romance Ebooks
Barnes and Noble
No Boundaries Press

And a giveaway -- you can win the book and an Amazon gift card:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wanna help out my friend?

So, my BFF theun4givables is in the Top 10 for the mini-season of LJ Idol, and I'm superduper proud of her. She's been putting out amazing stuff and really stretching herself as a writer. Her piece this week was kind of a huge risk and competition is tough and lord knows I remember how fierce it got near the end in season 8. She's not doing great in the poll and I'd love to help her out if I can.

Would y'all mind checking out her post and maybe throwing her a vote if you enjoy it?

A few warnings in case you're the triggery type (but they're spoilers): [I warned you about this warning]gore, violence, sexual abuse and language.

The poll is here:

Voting ends at 9 pm tonight.

Which gives you plenty of time to check out all 10 entries and vote for any that catch your fancy.

Thanks, y'all! :D

Teeny Tiny LJ Idol Rec List

Some of y'all know about the mini-season of LJ Idol that's going on. I'm not playing, because of the book that's eating my life. But I have been following, and now that the playing field's been narrowed down to only about 40 people, I even managed to read all of this week's posts. If you're looking for some good writing to read or thinking about playing in the next mini-season (which is rumored to start next month), I strongly suggest you check out all of the fine entries here and vote for any you like.

Here are a few posts I really enjoyed this week that aren't exactly crushing the polls. Please know I'm not just promoting my friends here (THIS time!) - these are posts that seriously caught my attention and I don't get why they're not doing better.

momebie 's story managed to make me ship two characters I've never seen before in my life:

tatdatcm has created a compelling universe and continues to build on it this week:

talonkarrde88 got sidetracked by work but still came through with an intriguing story:

There are 10 people being eliminated this week. That's a quarter of the remaining contestants! So if you like these entries or any others, please make sure to go here and vote for them in the first poll. You don't have to be playing or join the community to vote.

[reposted post] LiveJournal

So, after nearly a decade at this site, LJ finally does something that makes me actually rage. No popcorn and laughing as the masses storm to news posts complaining, this time I'm actually worried.

A while back I was invited to help out with BETA testing new LJ services (I got this invite via lj_releases ).

They have just announced BETA testing of a new friendslist.

LJ is planning on redoing everyone's friendslists in the style of the new comment page and update page. They want to copy tumblr and make your friendslist into a dashboard-like system page (infinite scrolling and all). It's also been renamed to "feed" (this I don't mind too much, though). In fact the whole dashboard idea with infinite scrolling wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the fact that everyone will be locked to one specific layout. The system style comment pages are bad enough, but now I'll have to strain my eyes reading my flist? That defeats the purpose of this entire site. The font, use of whitespace, oversized boxes and UI elements ... all contribute to making the page difficult to read, on a site where all you do is read. Aaaah. Even just the possibility of adjusting the font (style and size) would make this suggestion easier to swallow, but it's still not something I'd want for my journal. It would not improve my LJ experience in any way (in fact it would most likely make my daily LJ activities more time consuming).

Now, I wasn't able to make the BETA page display my own friendslist, so I apologise to the random users who are featured in the screenshot, but to give everyone an idea, the below image shows you what your friendslist probably will look like in a couple of months.

(Click for big)

[A couple of more screenshots]
I never switched over from Dystopia, so that adds to the weirdness. You're going to have to picture this with the standard LiveJournal drop down navigation + no blue sidebar to the left. Click the screenshots for bigger versions.

Top of page with links to journal, archive, profile

Example of text heavy post as displayed on friendslist

New buttons to the right replace the navigation strip. One tab for filters

One tab for Archive/Calendar, you can filter your feed to display posts from one specific date. These buttons follow along as you scroll down the page (infinite scrolling).

All friendslists will look the same.

Snippet from the locked post at lj_releases :
The friends page has been redesigned as a system page for all users, and is now available for Beta testers. There is a link at the top of your friends page allowing you to switch between the new and old versions, and will later go into public beta testing. You can switch back and forth between both versions throughout beta testing.

PUBLIC POST AT lj_releases ABOUT THE NEW FRIENDSLIST: http://lj-releases.livejournal.com/79480.html.

You can also see the proposed changes for yourself by enabling the BETA on your own journal (instructions from ruljautonews ):
It's trivially easy to test beta features.
1) Go to lj_ru_beta and request to join.
2) Wait to get confirmation that you've been accepted into the community (this could take a few hours.)
3) Go to this page and choose Go To under Beta.
4) That's it, you're now testing the beta release. All site-scheme pages should now display a big "BETA BETA BETA BETA BETA BETA" in yellow letters across the top.
5) You could make comments in the lj_ru_beta post, but if you do please keep this in mind: the majority of commenters there don't speak English and if they do it's not their primary language. Machine translation of Russian is lousy. "My hovercraft is full of eels" lousy. While you can engage in basic dialogue and get a feel for what the other person is saying, don't get too hung up on anyone's phrasing.

You can easily switch back to the old version.

Make sure you let LJ know what you think of these proposed changes, I can't be the only one who thinks this is a horrible idea.

ETA: It's nice to see that I'm not the only one worried about the proposed changes, but please direct your feedback through the proper channels. This is a private journal, I have no affiliation with LJ. Please also be respectful when addressing the LJ staff. They are just doing their jobs. Thanks!

ETA2: Russian news post about the BETA test: http://lj-ru-beta.livejournal.com/7013.html

ETA3: Added more screenshots.

ETA4: Additional info at ruljautonews : http://ruljautonews.livejournal.com/27964.html

ETA5: An update on the new site scheme.

ETA6: Public beta has now been announced. Official announcement.

This entry is an unofficial intersection with the awesomely twisted alien_infinity , whose entry can be found here - it may be advisable to read hers first. It's also part of the same story as my entry from last week but is meant to stand on its own. For those who have read last week's piece, this one takes place a few months earlier.

I don't know where I am or how I got here. There are bright lights in my face and they're blinding me. Something whooshes by me, so hot and heavy that it almost knocks me down. Horns blare.


My brain is sluggish, weighted down.


Another enormous whoosh of air follows the shouting voice. I lurch away from the headlights and horns, tripping as my feet hit the curb. I fall onto the sidewalk, scraping my hands and tearing the knees of my jeans.

Oh god, not again.

My head is spinning and I'm sick to my stomach. Sitting on the pavement, I clutch my knees and take huge gulps of the night air. The memories are like a punch to the gut, knocking the wind out of me.

* * * * *

I'm surrounded by a curtain of heavy gray mist. A great crash rips through the air - I think it's thunder until the fog parts to reveal an enormous black egg. As I watched, figures begin to emerge from it - dark, human-shaped creatures with wings the color of blood. Though I can't make out any features, even their shadows are so terrifying they steal my breath.

* * * * *

A siren is wailing not far away. Blue lights wash over me as a police car pulls up to the curb. The officer steps out; he is tall with white hair and a kind face. "Do you need some help, miss?" he asks.

I open my mouth to speak, but no words come out. My chest is tight; my heart jackhammers against my ribs. I'm breathing in ragged gasps. My hands are clenched into claws, fingers tingling. I start to wonder if I'm going to die right here on the sidewalk.

"Miss? Do you need medical assistance?"

I'm drowning. The cop's voice is tinny and distant. I nod.

"Try to stay calm. I'm calling an ambulance."

His radio crackles and I hear him speak into it. Then he's sitting beside me on the pavement, telling me to try and take deep breaths.

Riiiight, I think, if it were that simple, I'd have been doing it all along.

He's still speaking, and his voice is low and soothing. My breathing starts to slow and the crushing pressure in my chest begins to ease. All the strength drains out of me; my limbs feel impossibly heavy. I slump forward and rest my head on my knees.

More sirens. Strong hands grasp my shoulders and lift me to my feet. Everything is a blur. There are voices, but I can't make out what they're saying. My eyes are closing; I just want to sleep.

* * * * *

I'm crouched in the corner of an immense room with walls of alabaster. At one end of the cavernous space is a throne with a man perched atop it. The man is draped in a ridiculous furry purple cloak and gold robes and wears a crown dripping with gaudy jewels. On the other side of the chamber, a slender girl with a dark brown ponytail and blue eyes stands, straight as a board. The bejeweled man studies her with almost clinical detachment.

* * * * *

I open my eyes and blink against the glare of harsh fluorescent lights. The world swims into focus - bright white sheets and sterile machines. Everything feels hazy and unreal. A young woman with blue eyes and dark hair pulled into a ponytail smiles at me. Though she doesn't look much older than me, I recognize her as Dr. Weston. She hands me some water in a paper cup.

The questions begin.

Do you know your name?

Yes! An easy question. "Sam. Sam Jenkins."

Do you know why you're here?

This one is harder. I'm not sure what happened to me. The last sane thing I remember is being in my dorm room on a quiet Friday evening. My roommate Kat was out and I was sipping a cup of coffee that was mostly cream and sugar. I sat down at my desk to write. After that, nothing makes sense.

The doctor with the ponytail is watching me, waiting for an answer I don't have. I shake my head.

Is there someone we can call?

Oh! I know this one. Without hesitation, I give her Daisuke's number.

He arrives twenty minutes later, eyes sleepy and hair sticking out at odd angles. I wonder idly what time it is. He leans in and hugs me hard. I'm aching all over, but I don't complain.

"Nice hair," I tease him after he breaks the embrace. He doesn't look amused.

"Are you going to tell me what happened this time, Sam?"

Shit! I haven't given much thought to what exactly I'm going to tell him. He's my best friend, and I should be able to tell him the truth. The only problem is that the truth makes me look delusional.

"The doctor said I had a panic attack," I hedge.

"A panic attack? Was it related to - " He doesn't finish. His eyes are big and scared.

"I still haven't told anyone about that," I say.

"Are you going to?" he asks.

"I don't know what to tell them," I say, choking back tears. "Daisuke, I think I'm losing my mind."

He grabs my hand and squeezes it, and I want to tell him everything.

"They found me wandering in the street," I say. "I don't know how I got there."

My words catch in my throat. In my mind's eye, I see myself telling him about the demons in the mist. I was in another world, I say, and then all of a sudden I was in the middle of the street. I imagine his eyes going hard as he looks away.

"The last thing I remember is being in my room," I lie, and leave it at that.

* * * * *

The girl fixes the man on the throne with a defiant stare. Then her gaze shifts downward to a carpet of iridescent glass eggshells. Lifting her head high, she steps forward onto the shards of glass. Streams of crimson drench the ground beneath her bare feet, but she appears not to notice. In no time, she's reached the other side, crossing a river of her own blood to get there.

* * * * *

Knock knock knock. The rapping of knuckles against my door rouses me from a thick and dreamless sleep.

"Samantha, it's time for your meds!" says a disembodied voice.

"It's Sam," I grumble without even opening my eyes.

The light flicks on, and I lift my eyelids just enough to see a young male nurse who hands me a cup of pills. Without asking for water, I knock them back so he'll leave. When he's gone, I groan and bury my face in my flimsy institutional pillow. Since I've been here, it feels like I've done nothing but sleep - but I'm still exhausted.

Despite what Daisuke says, I know I can't come clean to Dr. Weston. Talk of acid trips and winged creatures that hatch from eggs will only earn me another admission to Rainey Institute. Even though it's probably where I belong, I don't want to go back there. My memories of my last stay at the psychiatric hospital are a blur of pills in paper cups and sleep filled with too-real dreams.

Kat came to see me on my first day at Rainey, armed with a bag of my clothes, a mylar balloon that said "Get Well Soon" and a batch of homemade brownies. Though I did my best to feign interest in her breezy chatter about things back at school, her easy smile soon grew strained. She bit back questions while I chewed my nails, knowing I'd never answer. She left after thirty minutes - there was nothing more to say.

She never visited me again. None of my friends did, except Daisuke.

He showed up for visiting hours every day, despite the fact that I wouldn't tell him the whole story. The first day, he bombarded me with questions, but I stared at my feet and didn't respond. After that, he stopped asking - I think he was afraid of the answers. So am I.

I remember sitting in group therapy while a girl named Mary monopolized the entire session. She told us she was at Rainey to hide from a group of scientists and politicians who were stalking her. "They're out to get me," she said, "because I know The Truth."

Though she couldn't tell us what The Truth was, They had taken control of everything in her life to prevent her from revealing it. Her friends, her family, and even her cat - all were working for Them. She heard Their voices on her radio, saw Their faces on her television, read Their words in her books.

Shuddering, I wonder if this will be my fate as well. I look around the room for something to distract me. My eyes fall on the pencil and paper one of the nurses brought me. Since my laptop is still back in my dorm room, it's the only way I can write.

Writing. That's it. The realization is a devastating blow.

These "episodes" I've been having - both of them happened when I sat down to write. I found myself somewhere I did not remember going, assaulted by vivid memories that couldn't be real. What if I'm traveling to worlds that I've written? It sounds impossible, but if it's true I can prove it. My fingers tremble as I reach for my cell phone.

* * * * *

With steel in her eyes, the girl faces the bejeweled man. He speaks to her, his countenance impassive, and she kneels upon the razor-sharp shards. Though her posture is one of supplication, her face shows no fear. The man appears to listen for a moment, and then his features contort with senseless rage. Armed men appear from the ether and drag the girl away.

Author's Note:
I love concrit of all flavors, so please feel free to share. I'm especially interested in knowing whether the ending works for you and if the piece as a whole works without knowing the story from last week's post. Thanks!
I wake to the feeling of cold rain against my face.

For a moment, my brain refuses to process what is going on. I roll over and try to clutch my pillow so I can go back to sleep. It's the tickle of slightly damp leaves on my skin that alerts me to the situation at hand. There is no pillow. There is no bed. I shouldn't be sleeping here.

No matter how many times this happens, it still comes as a surprise.

I open my eyes and sit up slowly. I'm in a vacant lot, overgrown with weeds. My head is pounding, my mouth is dry, and my stomach feels like it's eating itself from the inside.

What the hell happened last night?

Something twists deep inside me and I lean forward, retching. I am rocked by wave after wave of dry heaves. When it's over, I collapse onto the wet ground, sweating despite the chill in the air. It's a gray morning, but even the small amount of light that filters through the clouds is too bright. I moan and throw my arm across my eyes to block it out.

Memories hit me like a slap in the face, images that don't make sense.

* * * * *

I'm sitting in a smoke-filled bar with walls paneled in dark wood. The marble-topped tables and leather chairs were probably elegant once, but now the tables are marred by cracks and the chairs are pocked with burn marks. There's a book of matches on the table in front of me. Its cover is green and the words "Sammy's - Est. 1911" are printed upon it. I grab the matchbook and jam it into the pocket of my jeans.

Nearby, four men in jackets and ties argue vociferously over a game of pool. At the table next to me, a man in a tan coat and fedora stares off into the distance with a moody expression. He's chewing a cigar and nursing a glass of brown liquor.

* * * * *

There's a large bump on my head. I rub at it absently as I contemplate whether I should call someone to come and get me. My head is beginning to clear a bit, and I recognize the vacant lot and the street it abuts. In my current physical condition, I'm not sure if I can manage the 30-minute walk from here to my parents' house.

My parents would pick me up, but more likely than not, letting them see me like this would be a ticket straight back to the hospital. LSD-induced schizophrenia, the doctors said, she's not responding well to medication.

There aren't a lot of other people I can call. Most of my school friends have stopped talking to me. Even before I took the medical withdrawal, they avoided me. I may be crazy, but I'm not blind. I saw the furtive glances, heard the way their conversations stopped when I entered a room. It's been months since any of them called or came to visit.

Reluctantly, I dig my phone from my jeans pocket and dial Daisuke's number. He's the only one who bothers with me now, and even he will barely look at me half the time. I can't say that I blame him. Once upon a time, I had a scholarship, a talent, a future. Now I'm in and out of hospitals, disappearing for days only to return ranting about stories no one believes. He blames himself, but it feels like he's angry at me too.

When he showed me the tiny squares of white paper in the plastic bag, I was skeptical.

"Come on, Sam," he urged me, "You're a writer. This could open doors to whole new worlds inside your mind. Can you really resist that kind of opportunity?"

I couldn't.

The trip itself was wonderful. Colors breathed and the world pulsed in time to the electronic music playing on the stereo. We lay on lawn chairs in Daisuke's back yard and stared at the sky, talking about everything and nothing. I expected to feel fear, but mostly I was lost in wonder. There were so many tiny details I had never noticed about the world before.

Time bent and stretched like the blue globules in Daisuke's softly glowing lava lamp. After nearly twenty-four hours, I slipped into sleep on a bean bag in his room. When I woke, the world seemed brighter than usual and reality felt oddly fluid. The feeling faded over the next few days until I was my normal self again.

Life in the real world resumed. Everything was fine... until the episodes started.

* * * * *

A curvy blonde girl in a skintight red dress approaches the man in the fedora. He looks her up and down and smiles appreciatively. The girl speaks to him, gesturing wildly with a look of panic on her face. Though I can't make out what she's saying, it's clear that she's asking the man for help.

Just then, shots ring out. For a moment, my feet are rooted to the floor. A few feet away from me, a waitress shrieks and throws her tray aside as she runs for cover. The tinkle of breaking glass and the matchbooks flying in all directions galvanize me into action and I dive under the table.

There is a flurry of motion in front of me. A pair of legs in charcoal gray pants and black and white wingtip shoes rushes past. I hear more gunshots, this time very close. A woman's voice screams out, "Johnny! NO! JOHNNY!"


* * * * *

The first episode happened about two weeks after the trip. I was sitting in my dorm room in a nightshirt and some fuzzy slippers. All of a sudden, inspiration struck - an updated version of Hansel and Gretel leaped into my mind, fully formed. I ran to my computer and began typing.

I barely got past "Once upon a time" before the world as I knew it disappeared. My yellow-painted cinder block walls and particle board desk were replaced by a great black forest with a humble woodsman's cottage by its edge. As I watched, two small children crept from the house; the younger, a girl, was crying.

It was over almost before it began, but each episode is longer than the last. Afterward, it takes a little while before all of my memories return. I have no control over where I reappear and at first, I'm a bit confused. That first time, they found me dazed and wandering half-naked near a busy street. Since then, I've learned my lesson and write fully clothed.

If I just stopped writing, I could stop the episodes entirely. I'd be normal again; I could go back to school. I could have a life. Maybe I could even have my best friend back. The problem is that I don't want to stop. Even though no one will believe me, what's happening is more than some drug-induced mental illness. The acid was the trigger, but it gave me a talent I'd be crazy not to use. The things I write become real now.

Of course, no one believes me, not even Daisuke. Unlike the others, he listens to my stories, but he just gives me that sad look and shakes his head.

* * * * *

The woman is crying hysterically and screaming Johnny's name. I think it's the blonde girl in the red dress. There is a pool of blood spreading on the floor in front of me, presumably Johnny's. I start to feel dizzy and realize I've been holding my breath. I let it out with a whoosh.

The shiny black and white wingtip shoes appear in front of me. A moment later, a man's red and angry face comes into view. "What have we here?" he asks.

I jump up, meaning to make a run for it. In my haste, I've forgotten about the marble tabletop above me. My head slams into it hard and my vision begins to fade to gray. I crumple to the floor and the world goes dark.

* * * * *

Daisuke's shiny black Ford pulls up at the curb. By this time, I'm soaking wet and shivering so hard it hurts. I struggle to my feet, waiting for my legs to decide whether or not they're going to hold me. They conclude they'd rather not support me and I sit down hard on the sodden ground.

Daisuke is at my side in an instant, helping me up and gathering me into his arms like some sort of broken doll. I try to push him away, embarrassed.

"I'm fine. I can walk," I say, as if he's not going to notice that I'm swaying like a drunk.

"Really, Sam?" he says, his voice too gentle. "Come on."

He guides me to his car, and I collapse into the front seat. This car is his baby - tinted windows, custom rims, and leather seats. I bet he's going to be mad later when he sees all the mud and grass I'm getting everywhere. For now, he just sighs and cranks the heat up. He digs a blanket out of the backseat and drapes it over me. By the time he gets into the car, my eyelids are already starting to droop.

"Where are we going?" I ask as he pulls the car into the street.

"You're in no shape to go home right now. I'll take you to my place," he says.

I mumble something that's probably unintelligible and drift into sleep.

When I wake again, I'm alone in Daisuke's bed, wearing a clean T-shirt that isn't mine. The door opens slowly, and Daisuke appears with a bowl of soup and a sandwich. My stomach growls and it's all I can do not to lunge at him and grab the food from his hands. Who knows how long it's been since I've eaten?

He sits on the edge of the bed as I attack the food.

"Feeling better?" he asks. His expression is strange, unreadable - not the usual pitying one I'm used to seeing lately when he meets my eyes at all.

"I will be once I finish eating," I say, pretending I don't notice. We're both silent for a few minutes as I continue to shovel food into my mouth.

"How long was I out?" I ask, once the plate and bowl are clean.

"About 8 hours," he replies.

"8 hours? I hope you didn't have plans," I say.

"I had a date," he says.

"Shit, Daisuke, I'm sorry - " I start, but he cuts me off.

"Don't worry about it," he says, "What are friends for?" He smiles, but his eyes look far away.

"Daisuke, I know you think I'm crazy," I say.

More silence.

"Sam, can I ask you a question?" he finally says.

"Sure," I reply.

"Where did you... go... this time?"

"Are you going to believe me if I tell you?" I ask.

"It's just..." His voice trails off. "It's just that I washed your clothes, and I found something in your pants pocket." He holds up a green matchbook. It's a little worse for wear, and on its cover are the words "Sammy's - Est. 1911"

I tell him my story. And for the first time in months, he really listens.

(very VERY loosely based on this myth)