The autumn night air outside was considerably cooler than when they left the city. Wylie lingered at the open back of the van as he got used to the new smells and sounds of the area and peered through the dark at the surrounding houses on the other side of the gate. They parked close to the side door nestled between the garage and main house. It was the entry point into the downstairs lounge and bar and was sheltered from view. The outside lights were shining, along with a few internal ones, and none of the crew were wearing masks. Wylie wasn’t sweating it. Adam had taken all the cameras down before cracking the gate, and there was little fear of being spotted with the house pushed so far from the street.

The neighborhood was silent, but that was the rich for you. They went to bed on time, didn’t look out windows, didn’t think anything could touch them. They were the kind of people who kept all the lights on and thought that was enough to make thieves think you were home. Wylie scoffed under his breath. When you had enough money to keep the monsters out, anyone could sleep at night.

Wylie braced himself as he started walking toward the front of the van where the others were milling. This was money, real money. A future. He was an eighteen year old freak who was never going to have a shot at a job with his fucked up arms. He needed to get this initiation right and prove to Roth he was useful, even if it meant stealing and thugging for a living.

Shit, he had to be good for something.

“How’s it look?” Beck asked as he came up next to him.

“It’s all quiet.” His gaze drifted to Beck and the flush to his cheeks. Wylie gripped his shoulder and leaned down to whisper, “Don’t forget what I said. If things go wrong, you run.”

Beck’s smile was guarded when he pulled away. Wylie could tell from the sparkle in his eyes he was loving every moment of the heist so far. Beck wasn’t fearless but he got off on adrenaline, and it made him reckless. Wylie had his own ass to worry about, and he took a slow breath as he eyed the door he was there to break through. Diego was done ordering Adam around and was waiting impatiently for things to start.

“You can do this, yeah?” Beck took his black sweatshirt when Wylie shrugged out of it. “I mean, it’s just metal. You can cut that.”

Wylie smiled grimly. “Yeah. Easy.” Out of all the uncertainties the night presented, his abilities didn’t factor in.

Wylie raised his muscular arms and focused on his hands. As he watched, his pale pigment began to darken. His skin hardened and black scales erupted from his flesh in a bloodless rush that started from fingers and flowed up his forearms. Wylie hissed sharply and took a step from Beck who was edging over to watch. His scales grew longer and pointed out from his arms at jagged angles. They might have been beautiful, like a dark ruffled bird, but each oil slick blade had a razor sharp edge that ruthlessly sliced fabric to flesh when touched.

Wylie had no clue what the hell he was. A shifter, probably, but his demon arms didn’t look like any animal out there. Most days he felt like a monster. Tonight, he might actually be useful.

He held his arms up over his head and let Beck tie his sweatshirt around his waist so it wouldn’t be shredded. “For good luck,” Beck whispered and leaned close to peck a kiss to his lips. Wylie kept still, too aware how easy it would be for his scales to slice Beck up to be able to relax.

Adam threw himself backward when he approached the door. His eyes were wide as he stared at Wylie’s scaled arms like he was some bloodthirsty demon there to murder everyone. Wylie kept his gaze focused on Diego, whose expression was full of undisguised hate. Diego growled and pointed to the door just in case he was too retarded to figure out the reason he was there.

Wylie glared as he watched Diego chew his gum. The no smoking policy was totally bullshit. If they could grab DNA off a cigarette, the cops could do the same for a piece of gum. “Alarm dead?”

“Of course it’s fucking dead. Open the shit up and shut your freak mouth,” Diego snapped.

Wylie ran his tongue along the edges of his teeth. His fangs itched to bite the aggressive fucker on the face. Wylie forced himself to turn from Diego and focus on the door. It was misleading, made to look like every other pretty door on the rich houses in the area. Just on this house, the wooden mahogany finish varnished to perfection was hiding a solid steel security door beneath. Wylie reached across and drew a long, black talon down between the seam of the door and the reinforced metal molding. He found the bolts, four in all, and scratched the paint to mark their placement.

“Stand back.” Wylie shot Diego a glare when he found him peering over his shoulder. “Unless you’re looking to eat metal.”

Diego grunted defiantly, but moved a few steps away. Wylie really didn’t care if the guy ended up with his elbow in his face, but he needed the space to work. He ran his right palm along where the door met the molding over the alignment of bolts, and braced his other hand to help muffle what he was about to do.

His first slam was experimental to give him an idea of what force was really needed. The door yielded beneath his palm and the solid bolts were a soft bulge in the covering wood. Wylie abruptly clawed down the surface and scraped the glued on wood away to give him a better look.

He was definitely over-thinking it, Wylie realized when he saw how close together the bolts were and how they couldn’t be more than three inches into the reinforced molding. He sank his claws into the door with his braced hand, pulled his right back, and punched forward with an open palm. The metal buckled from the blow and there was a shearing sound under the loud slam. Wylie kept pushing forward, and the door bent and warped from the molding around his hand. With a final slam, the mechanism holding the bolts tore through the other side of the door and clattered to the floor.

“Fuck, yeah.” Wylie smiled smugly as he turned the now broken handle and the metal protested loudly when he wrenched the door. Wylie pushed it open wide with a flourish and waved the scowling Diego in. His gaze fell to Adam, whose chest was heaving and face pale as he stared at Wylie’s impossibly strong arms.

“Hurry the fuck up, you little bitch,” Diego snapped when he saw Adam frozen in shock.

Adam jolted and his eyes flew to Wylie’s face. Without a word, the kid scurried past and quickly darted inside the dark room after Diego.

Wylie shook his head. He had only met Adam once before, and he reeked of so much fear it was hard to understand what the hell he was doing running with Roth. Maybe Adam was one of those types who didn’t want to be afraid anymore. Wylie sure as fuck didn’t have that problem. He stopped being afraid years ago once he realized no matter how many foster families treated him like shit, he could still survive on his own. Even if he didn’t get into the gang tonight, Wylie knew he’d be fine.

“Baby, you got this,” Beck whispered excitedly as he carefully stepped up beside him while avoiding his scales. “Fuck college; you could be robbing banks. You’re made for this.”

Wylie pasted on a smile he didn’t feel. “Yeah, sure.” His boyfriend thought he was destined to be a career criminal. Great.

Wylie eyed the gaping door the other two disappeared through as lights flickered on inside. Adam’s fear scent made the hair stand up on the back of his neck, and Wylie suppressed an annoyed sigh. Adam was too waif-limbed to carry shit and too skittish to trust not to bolt if things got tough. Beck was at least a sweet talker. If some nosy biddy stuck her head over the fence, Beck could come up with a lie and a smile on his pretty face in a second flat. Still, neither of them had the judgment or nerves suited to rob the place, and Wylie was questioning again why they brought four people for this job.

He was in it now. Breaking and entering, trespassing, burglary, and damage to private property. Damn, Beck might have a point about this being a career.

Wylie squared his shoulders and stalked toward the door. “Watch your ass, B.”

“Yours and mine both, babe,” Beck said with a wink as he whirled back to the van.

Wylie paused as he stepped inside. He was expecting a great room, something relaxed with a television and couch. What he found was a space clinical and cold in both style and temperature, one with a purpose he couldn’t quite place. The floor was a hard tile, and the walls were stripped of any personal touches or embellishments. It was a flat, white empty room all around, and Wylie’s ice blue eyes narrowed as he took in the strange, bulky machinery made of shining chrome and sleek plastic that dotted the large space in an obvious grid pattern. It could have been storage, or maybe some weird, artistic installation. Whatever it was, Wylie immediately didn’t like it.

“Start grabbing anything that looks worthwhile,” Diego ordered the trembling Adam.

The air was stale and practically void of natural scents, which only made Adam’s fear scent all the more intense. Wylie eyed the short teen after taking in the wall of electronics and a dividing curtain of plastic to the right. He didn’t know shit about computers and tech, but there was a lot of big equipment. If he were to go by Adam’s expression, none of this was the run of the mill stuff you’d find in some normal rich fuck’s house.

“This is military grade,” Adam whispered as he hovered next to a machine that looked heavy enough to crush him.

“Figure out what’s important, and we’ll be down to move what you can’t lift.” Diego jerked his head impatiently at Wylie. “Come on, freak. The safe is upstairs.”

Wylie followed, but his eyes were locked to where Adam was flicking on something that looked disturbingly like a laser. His scales puffed up as a chill zapped down his spine. The sooner they got out of there, the better.

Diego stalked through the long maze of hallways with absolute confidence. It made Wylie wonder if they had gotten the house plans in advance or if Diego had been there before. Had the coarse, crude gangster convinced some unassuming maid or arrogant executive to let him see the place? Diego moved like he knew exactly where he was going and didn’t turn a light on even in the dark hallways. Wylie admitted a mild appreciation the gangster wasn’t bumbling around like an idiot. He could put up with the asshole just so long as Diego didn’t get them thrown in jail.

Wylie slowed his steps when the corridor they were traveling down opened up into a large entryway connected to a sweeping flight of dazzling stairs that could have fit an orchestra and still have room to walk. It was such a different feel from the sterile environment they just left, and Wylie felt lost as he climbed the huge, wide expanse of steps. The front door was on the marble tile landing that split the two levels, and Wylie could see just with a glance how the security was even more beefed on this door. His echoing footsteps were muffled by the runner as he climbed the second flight and took in the art and luxury that was the top floor of the mansion. It felt like stepping into a completely different world, and Wylie couldn’t help but drink it all in like a starstruck tourist.

Diego snapped his fingers and Wylie blinked and stared impassive in the face of the scowl directed at him. If the fucker whistled at him like a dog, he wasn’t sure what he’d do, but he doubted anyone would blame him. Wylie continued walking and expanded his senses to take it all in. He could hear Diego’s breathing now, and the very distinct muttering of being ‘saddled with a bunch of snot nosed, piss for brain, fucktard kids.’ In the living room—one of many—a grandfather clock ticked, housed in a tall, cherry wood stained case. It all felt larger than life and completely surreal to think people lived in a place like this.

Something prickled through him, and Wylie stopped short. It took him a moment as he tried to figure out what was wrong. He breathed in deep and turned his head when he caught the scent of flowers sitting in a vase on a sleek, mahogany table down a connecting hall. Wylie’s scales ruffled again and without a word, he turned and walked to the scent to investigate.

They were daffodils mixed with small, white daisies in a classic, ornate vase. The flowers were fresh with no drooping or touch of brown on any petal and Wylie’s stomach churned.

Diego snarled when he discovered he wasn’t behind him. He stomped over to where Wylie was glaring at the flowers. “What the fuck are you doing?”

“Fresh flowers,” Wylie said tightly. He rolled his eyes when Diego looked ready to flip out for wasting time. “They’re not even wilted,” Wylie stressed and plucked one of the petals free. “Who puts flowers out in an empty house?”

Diego’s eyes narrowed and he stepped forward to briefly sniff the flowers. He straightened and with a shrug, waved at the elegant hallway. “Look at the fucking place. Do you really think someone this rich does normal shit? Maybe the fucking maid put them out just in case they got robbed and wanted to make things look nice for us. Stop thinking and hurry the fuck up.”

Wylie’s nostrils flared as Diego stalked back to the main hall. The downstairs was full of military tech, the gate had a code they barely got through; who the fuck knew what else they missed? It was midnight and whoever was there—maid, butler, guest—would likely be in bed in one of the many rooms in the giant place. Wylie had no issue with stealing shit from someone who had more than enough, but he drew the line at terrorizing people.

Diego turned and waved his hand in an exaggerated movement to get Wylie the fuck over there. Damn it. Fucking damn it. His scales were twitching so much, it felt like a bug was digging beneath his skin as Wylie followed after the gangster.

Fuck, for all he knew, the fucking rich put flowers out ever damn day even when no one was home. Rich people were fucking crazy. Money lifted them so far from reality the same way drugs did for a strung out crackwhore. Whoever lived there had rooms for their stuff, not for people. Who the hell was he to say what went on in the minds of the ultra-rich?

Diego led them surefooted down a branching corridor, and Wylie kept close this time. He wanted this over with so he could get the fuck out. Wylie’s stress grew with every tap of tattooed fingers to doors they passed by. Diego finally stopped in front of a dark wooden door where dim light greeted through a narrow gap.

“The office. There are jewels and bonds in here and some cash.” Diego pulled a black rectangle from inside his leather coat and unfolded a large canvas duffel bag. “The safe’s on the wall past the windows and desk. A bunch of books open up like a door.” He glared into Wylie’s eyes as he placed the strap of the bag into his clawed hand. “Just empty the shit and meet me down the hall. No fucking around, no touching anything that’s not in that safe, and no running off. Empty it and meet me five doors that way, left side.”

Wylie couldn’t help but wonder what Diego was going for alone. If he was stealing shit without Roth knowing, Wylie sure as hell didn’t want to be the guy to blab. He was there for one purpose; to do what needed to be done to get in with Roth. If Diego wanted to screw himself with the boss, that was his business.

Wylie kept his mouth shut and waited for Diego to start down the hall before he pushed the door open. He paused on the threshold and his gaze darted around the lush, sophisticated study. Unlike the clinical looking basement, this room was brimming with ancient sculptures and artwork collected from all over the world. A single table lamp shone a warm glow from the walnut desk on the far side of the large room, and illuminated the warm brown tones of leather furniture, deep red walls, and the dark oriental rugs. It was overwhelming compared to the the kinds of places Wylie usually spent time in, and he took a steadying breath before he slipped inside.

It still felt strange being in someone else’s house when he knew he didn’t belong. Wylie spent his teenage years living in houses where he wasn’t welcome, taking what was lent until he was sent somewhere else. This time, he was in a house to steal, not borrow. As much as Wylie tried to brush it off, his chest was tight as he walked the length of the room. He did his best to ignore the signs of recent life around him. He picked up the stale scent of human flesh. An older male… cigar smoker…

The butler, Wylie told himself briskly as he moved toward the bookcase on the far wall. Whoever left those flowers probably checked the rooms during the day to dust or some shit. He wasn’t sure exactly what it took to keep a mansion nice, but it probably meant staff came by daily.

The false wall of books was easy to find. The hinges hadn’t been hidden, and although the books were real, they were placed as if an afterthought over the swinging door. Wylie raised a pierced eyebrow at the ridiculousness of it all. The house screamed money, and anyone looking would know there would be cash to find inside. The owner must have thought no one would ever get through the front door.

Wylie clicked a claw into the wooden groove and nudged the false door open. It swung wide and he eyed the matte black safe critically. It was more a vault than what he was expecting. The safe was encased completely in cement and nearly as tall as he was. In the center was a dial waiting for a combination, and beneath that a handle meant to be turned. Wylie considered the metal contraption in silence.

The door downstairs had taught him a lot for his first break in, and Wylie didn’t bother trying to finesse this time. He punched his fist into the door and ground his knuckles in hard until he felt the metal rip. Wylie slammed his other hand in just as hard, and slipped his claws into the torn opening beneath jagged edges of metal. He gripped tight and grinned as he slowly curled and bent the heavy door down. Even though it was made of steel, it twisted like a thin tin of spam beneath his palms. Shit, he really was made for this.

The darkness within the safe hid nothing from Wylie’s piercing gaze. He couldn’t say what bonds were exactly, but he knew the large, colorful pieces of paper kept in neat piles up high were them. There were flat boxes he figured must hold the jewelry Diego mentioned, while all the other shelves held cash separated into bundles and kept in tidy piles. It was the most money he’d ever seen, and Wylie didn’t have to count it to know it was a fortune.

Wylie wrenched the door down to his knees and reached to sweep the lowest shelf into the duffel. The scales on his wrist caught and tore right through the metal shelf and shredded half a bundle of money. “Fuck.” Wylie froze as ripped hundred dollar bills fluttered down to his sneakers. Any sudden motion could end with all the money shredded. On the best of days, his palms were the only safe part of Wylie’s hands when his scales were out. When he was shaking—not that he would admit to the adrenaline coursing through him—his demon arms became even more of a hazard.

Wylie took a steadying breath and glared down at his hands. His scales ruffled but refused to retract. “Come on, you fuckers,” he whispered harshly. Everything about his arms pissed him off, including how temperamental they were. He was pretty sure the demonic things hated him just as much, seeing as they made his life hell. “Just the claws, then,” Wylie pleaded while wiggling his fingers. “I just need a damn hand.” His scales refused to relent, and Wylie growled in frustration. He peered into the paper treasure pile waiting in the safe while his mind raced. He didn’t have time for this. There was no fucking time.

“Fuck it.” Giving up on his hands, Wylie’s eyes lit on a thick, hardcover novel on the wall shelves. It didn’t matter if his claws shredded the book just so long as they didn’t touch the money. He pulled it down and with a sweeping motion, used the book to clear the first shelf into the duffel bag, which he held gingerly by the strap with a knee raised to brace the bottom.

Things went faster after that, and it was difficult to truly understand the stacks of money sailing into the bag. Seriously, fucking rich people. If they put their money in a bank, no one would be walking into their house to steal their shit. But what the fuck did he know? Maybe the hundreds of thousands flipping past his view was the equivalent to spare change in the couch for normal people. It was a giant mansion with crazy tech and huge amounts of dough; the rich were just too fucking large to comprehend.

Wylie was glad Beck was stuck in the driveway playing lookout. He would have been swimming in this vault like it was a damn orgy. Beck had big dreams he was looking to buy if he could only get enough cash. Wylie didn’t really understand it, but then, he stopped dreaming a long time ago. Freaks didn’t get to reach their dreams. No, they got stuck doing the grunt work behind the scenes while ambitious crooks like Roth made a fortune.

The bag was nearly bursting at the seams by the time the safe was empty. Wylie tossed the now shredded hardcover book aside and flexed his shoulders as he tried to coax his damn scales to push up his arms. His demon arms were limited in ways he still didn’t quite get. His muscles and bones changed to something beyond human, but only up to where the scales reached. Wylie was built, but a bag full of hundreds and twenties wasn’t the lightest fucking thing. Wylie held still when he felt his biceps bulge and more scales erupted through his flesh. Sight, sound, and scent flooded him all at once as his senses responded as well.

A vibrant rush of information greeted him with his next breath. Yeah, there had been a man in there recently. Really recent. Wylie could smell the sweat now. He carried the bag one handed and wandered to a stand of glittering bottles where a discarded glass of brandy rested. He sniffed, picking up the sour hint of clinging saliva and bacteria off the rim. If it was the butler, he sure as fuck wasn’t afraid to leave his booze stealing ways out for all to see.

Wylie didn’t need his scales to twitch this time; his heart was racing in understanding. He could smell someone. He had slammed through the downstairs door, and the sound of shearing metal when he tore through that safe wasn’t quiet. Fuck. They could have already called the cops. Fucking whore, they could already be on their way. Maybe sneaking up the driveway even now…

Wylie didn’t bother counting doors as he booked it from the room. He followed Diego’s scent down the hallway while trying to keep his cool. There was no watch his scales wouldn’t destroy, but they couldn’t have been there more than ten minutes. He winced when he thought of how long it took to get through the downstairs. Fuck, maybe fifteen. Maybe twenty—the hallways were so damn long in the place. Shit, they needed to fucking fly.

“Diego.” Wylie palmed the door handle and used his knee to push into the room the gangster had disappeared into. He stopped short with a sharp inhale when scent and sight revealed an absolute shit storm of trouble.

Hey babes,

Welcome to this week’s story. This may turn out to be a fever-dream, I warn you now. Perhaps an essay. I want this to tell the variety of perception, the way we filter reality and forget that the filter has more power than the intention. But the fever keeps coming back. Pretty sure it’s the flu. I added a month to every subscriber to the website cuz I don’t want to freak out about being sick and stressing. Also, I think it’s a good excuse to allow myself to tackle the final draft of Hellcat without feeling overwhelmed. Life happens, so enjoy your free month of reading The Library while I write complicated and potentially meaningless essays about reality. XD (Don’t forget, Heat is free this month!) I love it, though. I love the art of perspective. It’s everything I use to create a false reality out of words that is familiar enough to compel an emotional response. It’s also what allows me to read critical reviews directed at my work and not be held back, not feel pain, not identity with it at all. It’s where I can take the side of what some might think is a selfish monster and show that a belief system is the only reason they feel that way. This is everything I do on so many levels from writing, to living in the world, to overcoming PTSD and autoimmune and allergies. This post is about empowerment for every single person on the globe. This is going to be a long newsletter. Most of you are used to me talking about pushing boundaries when it comes to censorship and erotica, etc; this newsletter is about mental boundaries concerning reality itself. I hope you enjoy it.

Morality Is A Concept, Not A Fact

So, to start, I don’t believe in right and wrong. When I write characters and jump perspective, they all feel like they’re thinking the ‘right’ thing when you see through their eyes. This is because right and wrong are perception that only exist in the mind. Morality is a man-made concept to define how we want the world to be, while we dismiss how the world actually is. There are those upset about last week’s post who believe right and wrong are facts, and they would like others to be punished for fitting into the ‘wrong’ category they have defined. Having an opinion that differs from these individuals is enough to be in their ‘wrong’ category. Yes, a thought—a simple thought—when in the filter of morality can define someone as ‘wrong.’ That’s the whole basis of shame right there. When a morality filter is placed on something like body image or sexuality to define someone as ‘wrong.’ Some people are so caught up in their emotional pain, they think my choice to type on my computer is an attack on individuals personally to ‘prove they are wrong.’ Sorry, there. I don’t actually know you exist. You don’t actually know I exist. If you would like to prove you exist so I find your argument 100% fact, please send me your name, birth date, phone number, social security number, bank account and routing information, and a current photo ID. Now, I can’t process this information without $120, but if you’re willing to make a direct deposit to my Paypal… Sorry, couldn’t help myself. XD Bad, Sadie. Bad. Am I not being serious enough? Whoops. I remember not too long ago (I’m 35, for those wondering) I had expressed to my boyfriend of about 8 years now that it was more hurtful to be blind to someone else’s pain, than it was to hurt them intentionally. I likened it to walking and missing the fact you were crushing someone beneath your boots—how cruel! Ignorance was, in my mind, more intentionally cruel than intentional cruelness. This is about the most irrational statement I have ever made in my life. Not knowing you’re hurting someone is a deliberate attack on them? Madness. It was an irrational belief, and I once believed it wholeheartedly and expected people to conform to that idea. Surprisingly enough, they did not. XD But I can understand where that feeling comes from even if I don’t live my life by it anymore. I didn’t want my pain to go unrecognized. I certainly didn’t want to hear that people could step on my feelings and not be punished, even if they were blind to what they did. That wasn’t fair! Some people are extremely angry about all of this. I am not one of those people. You can try to make me angry. You can hope I’m watching the screen while you’re pouring your righteous rage into your keyboard. It won’t do any good. My feelings come from within me and it is my choice how I want to feel. That people are blind to their choices when it comes to their feelings, beliefs and actions is what this week’s newsletter is all about. It’s what last week’s newsletter rant was all about. Did the angry people miss the point? Shocked. They’re trapped in their perspective, and whooo, it just makes them charming to interact with.

For Those Who Believe Words Hurt You; Brace Yourself For A Wakeup Call

I make a habit to question ‘reality.’ Most of the world as we see it is a story instead of real. We experience it in our heads, and things in our heads aren’t actually real. To be exact, everything I read on my computer is text on a screen. Everything. That’s all it is. Sometimes it’s on a bigger screen, or a smaller screen. Sometimes I’m in my bedroom or grocery store or beside a loved one. Sometimes the screen has images, still and/or moving, and audio of a voice or music. On that screen are replications and interpretations of life. Nothing on a screen is real. Now, I understand people would like me to be very upset by the words and images I see on these screens, these replications of life. I, on the other hand, work very hard to not be outraged over the things that flicker across my computer screen. I do not always succeed in this endeavor. :D It is an amazing challenge considering the political upheaval that keeps ending up on my screens, the end of the world certainty, earthquakes and fires and extreme range of human suffering just waiting to be known in my mind. But all I must do is step away from the screen and realize my life is not changed. The world is not in the screen. My cats know; unless a mouse pointer is zipping around, they don’t look at screens at all. There’s nothing real on a screen to a cat but motion. So, what is in my computer, or television, or phone screen if not reality? My perceptions of the world. There is no one there but me staring at symbols and images and hearing sound while I choose to interpret a story out of it all. When I am sane and rational, I can see this. I can see that the things on a screen are no more than light and shadow that my brain interprets as ‘real.’ What happens when I’m not being rational?

A Rational Reaction To An Irrational Situation

Have you ever seen a dog go from calm and relaxed to suddenly alert and angry? It starts barking and growling aggressively for no reason. You can’t figure out why until you realize the dog is looking at the television screen. Usually the dog is fine; it doesn’t even seem to notice the TV. But sometimes it hears a noise or sees a shape that reminds it of something in the real world, and the dog reacts. It freaks. There is suddenly someone in the room when before there wasn’t. Danger. This dog is acting in a rational way to an irrational subject. All these reactions to protect its territory from a potential intruder makes complete sense. It’s what the dog perceives as an intruder that is where we define the situation as irrational. It’s just a sound, it’s merely a shadow on a screen. The dog is believing a ‘story’ of reality instead of actual reality, and that is where it all goes crazy. Eventually the dog uses its other senses to realize that there isn’t something alive in the room, just a screen. Once the dog realizes there is no scent of an animal, no dimension to the character on the screen, no actual being as a source to the noise, the dog calms down. It stops caring the screen exists because the dog knows there is nothing real on it. Humans, on the other hand, have a much harder time differentiating fantasy from reality. They look at screens—the way you’re reading my words on a screen this moment—and think that what’s happening in the text is real. They react to that belief, be it through emotional response or physical. Some completely forget that the things on the screen are just imitations of life, and they spend most of their time thinking about what they see there. Why should I be upset over anything I read on a screen? What would be wrong in my brain that I would feel outraged and emotionally distressed when I’m aware I’m safe in the world and that the contents on a screen aren’t real? Reacting would be irrational. I know it’s irrational because I used to have PTSD, where I felt like I was in danger all the time when there was nothing actually there to harm me.

PTSD Is A Perception Disorder

What should help to understand the context of last week’s rant is that I’ve had PTSD since a toddler. What is PTSD? Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. You’ve probably heard about it with veterans of war. Mine is actually sourced from childhood abuse. Basically, it’s when the brain gets trapped in an emotional and chemical loop as part of a built in survival mechanism. This survival mechanism exists to keep you aware that danger can occur and you need to be ready. Except, PTSD disregards that the event that sent the brain into this coping response is no longer occurring. The chemicals continue to flood the body until the body breaks down, unable to produce the stress hormones that keep it alive. Or the brain finds it all too unbearable and seeks death. So while your body thinks it’s fighting for its life for years on end with no actual danger in sight, it is literally killing itself. I spent over 30 years with my brain and body chemistry insisting constantly that I was moments from being attacked. Every day. It didn’t matter the beauty around me, the safety and freedom, the fact that I was an adult in a world of my choosing. I was trapped in my brain and it was a horror show. I learned to break free of that chemical survival response occurring in my body—years of IFS therapy and mindfulness, well worth the time spent—and the key of it had to do with changing my thought and belief patterns. It was the only way to become free of what my brain was insisting was ‘real,’ even though I could very well see reality was completely different. What I found fascinating was once I removed the damaging belief system, the chemical system began to calm without the constant messages from the brain triggering the body to ‘fight, flight, freeze or submit.’ The stress hormones were being released in response to the thought patterns. And once the chemical response calmed, it became easy to see the addictive nature of thought patterns and how thoughts create chemicals in the body that we perceive as emotions. Emotions are responses to thoughts, not to events. The thoughts may have nothing to do with the actual situation at hand, but usually something from the past. An example: A little while ago, my brother went to the doctors to get help for a cold and they prescribed him antidepressants. I freaked out. How dare they prescribe him a psych med that could harm him and diagnose him while he had a fever! Something needed to be done to keep doctors from throwing pills at people without any fucking research! It was an intense reaction, one that had me upset for days. What I was reacting to wasn’t the situation of ‘my brother was prescribed antidepressants,’ but my thoughts about the situation. Part of my thoughts had to do with my memories of how being prescribed antidepressants led to me considering suicide 10 years ago. It was an extremely unpleasant, confusing situation that lasted for a year as I kept waiting for doctors to ‘fix’ me like they promised, while their medication kept making me crazy. These thoughts and beliefs, which I refer to as emotional software, had more power over my perceptions of the world than the fact that my brother is not me, is absolutely responsible for his choices, and no one has forced him to do anything. You can hand anyone a pill, but it is their choice to take it. When I came back to reality and realized this, the uncomfortable emotions and my need for ‘something to be done’ alleviated. I could see rationally again, stop wasting hours to days worrying over a moment long gone, and move on with my life. I had mental associations that worked as triggers to pull me from the reality of the world and trap me in my mind when it came to that situation. Emotional software. Some of these triggers were words like SSRI and doctor. The words themselves were triggers for the concepts held only in my mind. When I think of the word doctor, I’m thinking of every experience I ever had with a doctor—or at least one really shitty experience. It’s extremely hard to see reality when I’m trapped in memories and thoughts that can pop up in a moment because of one concept.

A Rational Reaction To A Perspective Disorder

Remember the dog example? So, to give you an idea of what PTSD would be in the same sense, imagine a puppy is sitting, minding its own business, when a man walks by and trips over it. This puppy experiences extreme pain, and thinks it’s being attacked as this much larger being tumbles and crushes the dog beneath his weight. The puppy survives this, but doesn’t move past this event mentally. The survival process has kicked in—the need to fight, flight, freeze or submit—and all those chemicals are pumping through the system sending associated messages to the brain of danger, danger, danger. But the off switch is never flipped. The puppy’s behavior changes. It’s alert, afraid, watching every corner; there’s no way to know where the danger will come from. But the puppy remembers: man. A man was what fell on it, so man = pain. The dog is aggressive/afraid toward all men from that day forward. It doesn’t matter if a man never hurts the dog again. If the PTSD switch isn’t flipped off or the perspective changed, the chemicals will continue to flow and the dog will react to its emotional software of man = pain. If this dog’s behavior is observed by other dogs, lets say puppies of its own, and they keep hearing this message of man = pain, those dogs may take up this belief and change their behavior to match even though they never experienced the PTSD triggering event of the first dog. But if separated from the first dog, and allowed to make mental associations on their own, these dogs may become free of the man = pain concept far easier because they’re not experiencing the same chemical responses in their body and brain as the PTSD dog is.

PTSD On The Brain

I have lived both the trapping of the mind in PTSD and the process of breaking free. I still have a brain that can require my constant awareness. 30 years of a PTSD molded brain (and there is no way to know if my brain would have been different without PTSD) has revealed an addiction to thinking—this post is a total clue of that, btw. XD Long ass addiction to hearing myself type. A neurotic need to say things the ‘right’ way when I know no such thing exists. @[email protected] I have an addiction to patterns, such as video games and mind puzzles (2048 and suduko were favs). I have felt addictive properties in digital painting and the need to reach a ‘balance’ on the screen. My brain catches on these simple things that other people can just ignore completely. I have a chemical addiction to opiods. I have had 3 opiod pain pills in my life, and it was the second pill when I knew it was an addiction. It is awareness that allows me freedom, otherwise I would be a victim to every screen, every pattern, every pain pill a doctor insists ‘one won’t hurt.’ That’s how I ended up taking that 3rd opiod, btw. I had an infected tooth pulled during emergency surgery and the nurse swore up and down one isn’t addictive, it’s just pain relief. I put myself in danger to please a perceive ‘authority’ because a part of me wanted that pill more than it wanted to accept the reality of my body chemistry and dependency. I have a body and brain set up to be dragged into false realities, and I don’t believe I’m unique in this. It can be easy to see with a chemical dependency or even a screen based pattern. Thinking? Feeling victimized by everything? These too are addictive behaviors. In humans, a concept can become emotional software depending on our emotional associations. This is a survival trait. Think of the first time you touched something that burned. You can’t feel that pain anymore, but you may have a memory of pain associated with that thought to prevent you from grabbing a burning branch. If that feeling memory is so strong you wince, your heart races, or you truly feel you’re experiencing pain, you’re looking at your emotional software taking over. It’s the difference of some people experiencing vertigo when they look off the side of a cliff while others don’t. When we choose our perceptions—the ‘meaning’ of events—and they become our beliefs, we are choosing how we are going to emotionally respond to something. How we emotionally respond usually results in how we act. So, if you find you’re unhappy with your actions—such as staring at a screen ruminating for hours on end—the best place to start is to look at the emotions that spurred you to that action, and then deeper, to your beliefs of the world where the source of those emotions spring from. I don’t delete emails anymore. My inbox fills up with thousands of emails and I don’t bother to spend hours to ‘throw them away’ because I realized my need to have the inbox empty was dumb. Now I just don’t care and it’s wonderful. The key in all this? By being aware of what we choose to believe, we are less likely to freak out over life and react in ways that harm self or others. When we do freak out, we have a way to discern and unravel the thought patterns that lead to the unwanted responses. When it comes to PTSD, awareness resets the emotional software back to a more logical, less reactive insanity.

Sanity Is Subjective

Someone described me as a psychopath because I don’t reflect their value of pain back on this issue. On any issue, actually. I believe pain has no value. I believe nothing has value, but instead, our perspectives give value to everything. Seeing as it’s clear this person perceives actual pain to be in words on a screen, the rational of their accusation doesn’t really hit home for me. I find it completely irrational that someone would put perceptions above reality. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen—I lived it for years with PTSD. People have murdered, committed genocide, enslaved other humans, overthrown and forced religious beliefs on others all because they placed perception above reality. The Nazis believed that their beliefs of the Jewish people justified mass murder. There are politicians in the US who believe it’s acceptable to discriminate against LGBTQs because of their beliefs about the norms of sexuality. The belief that a gun might prevent murder is currently being held over the reality of people murdered by guns. Believing that the things in your head are real—more real than the actual world—doesn’t really show as a sign of emotional stability. From this vantage, it looks like these individuals are so out of touch with reality, they can’t even discern it from their own minds. Mob mentality is very good at validating reactionary emotions and justifying them over real life consequences. All it takes is a bunch of voices raised in anger, and all the rational voices to be silent for a mob to win. So, as a hopefully rational voice this week (just ignore the fever XD,) I choose to not be silent and instead attempt to open closed minds.

Morality And Pain Are Beliefs

The point of the PTSD perspective here is, when I was ranting last week, I was taking all the experience I have in my life and really saying to myself, ‘Gabrielle, this is how you avoid falling back into the brain-fuck that is PTSD and addictive thinking. Do not fall back into believing pain has value, because if you do, then rape, abuse, neglect, foster care, survivor’s guilt, and all that self-esteem insanity will have to be placed back on your psyche’s metaphorical shoulders and carried to define everything you are. Pain cannot be your identity, it cannot be your psyche. It is unbearable to live that way. It will destroy you. This is how you free yourself from pain. Do not value pain, but release it and get on with your life.’ If you’re reading this and actually have PTSD, I’m sure you’re thinking about running away at this point, if you haven’t already. I understand. You don’t want that answer. You don’t want that freedom. I mean, you may tell yourself you do, but then you’d have to face all the things you hate about yourself to get it, right? You’d have to face the shit that happened, the way you reacted to the shit that happened, the way you believe you are the shit that happened. It was all ‘wrong’ and there is no way to fix it. You’d also have to deal with all the people who want you to believe that pain is important, that it’s more important than actual reality. They’re really fucking loud about it. PTSD can make you really loud about pain being valuable, because PTSD tries to define a human by pain, by the avoidance of pain, by the pushing through of pain, by the numbing of pain and disassociation so that the inflicted person can continue to cope while still not returning to reality. In seeking to avoid pain, you are still defining everything by pain. It’s flight instead of fight, but it’s still a pain reaction. In contrast, accepting pain and realizing it has little value outside of informing you not to repeat an action, allows you to release your obsession with pain and move on. Something the rabidly angry people reading things that ‘hurt’ them are not learning as they seek to repeat their pain and inflict it on those who disagree with their opinions. Those who value pain intend to inflict or avoid inflicting it. They believe pain is so important, they want to inflict it to prove how important it is to feel that way. They believe pain can live in words, so they hurl words hoping to strike and scar. At the same time, they interpret words to do the same—even words that were never intended to harm anyone. For those unaware, Hitler was horrendously abused as a child. There are many brutal dictators abused as children; it’s a common theme. The effects of PTSD on the brain can turn a person into a rigid being of beliefs and rules that demand others to fit into those rigid rules so that the PTSD individual can feel comfortable in the world (as comfortable as the disorder will allow.) They create strong ideas of morality, right and wrong, and then demand others to stick to those concepts. Now, you might think ‘how the hell could Hitler and his followers ever think what they were doing was right?!’ Perception. Their morality was as insane as going ‘my genetics make me superior to you, so I am right and you are wrong, and I’m allowed to murder you.’ Life is perception. Both sides of any war believe they are ‘right’ and it doesn’t stop the murder. Morality is a mental concept used to justify atrocious action all the time. Fun thought: if you feel like something should be ‘right,’ and you actually *force* others to follow that belief to make it so, you’re being an intolerable dickbag. It might not be full out oppression or genocide, but it’s really not a habit of behavior to encourage. Social constructs and interactions are agreements among independent people, not rigid laws and fact. Freedom from PTSD comes with acknowledging that morality exists only in your mind. If you believe that there is a ‘right’ and a ‘wrong,’ and that you must be one of the options, you will likely suffer with PTSD until you die. Your brain will keep trying to create rigid ‘rules’ about how the world can only be *this,* and if you are *this,* you’ll finally be okay. (Ex. The world is dangerous but if I am alert and prepared, I will be safe.) Your brain will forever cycle, trying to come to terms with the traumatic event that put you in that state, while also trying to define you and the world by morality and sense. It’s impossible. People are not events. We are not actions. We are not moments in time or thoughts. We are not the things that happen to us, or the things people call us, or the things we want and achieve. We cannot be wrong, and we cannot reach being right. If you find you are ‘right,’ you are in a rigid belief system that isn’t real and cannot last. It’s all a big perception mess that feels real in the head, because PTSD insists it’s real. PTSD needs you to believe the thoughts in your head are real for PTSD to continue.

Intention Means Nothing To Perception

If my intentions actually mattered in the big sway of things, it would be far easier to communicate. But it is perception, not intention that has power over the human mind. What do I mean by that? Well, if you jlijj hiohiol oihh hoihow eerf… As you can see, my ‘intention’ to explain can be limited by your perception of the meaning of words. We need a common language. Not just English, in this case, but common. As an author, I follow a trend of ‘dumbing down’ my words. I don’t think the term really suits, though. I like to think I’m avoiding uncommon, unnecessary words that might slow or stop most people as they go to look up what things mean. As an erotic author of darker subject matter, you’ll also find a lot of profanities in my word pool. One, because I swear like that in real life, so it’s a natural replication of my speech. Two, because if a reader becomes offended by words like fuck (my favorite curse word, btw,) I don’t have to worry about them getting to extreme concepts that will surely offend them far more. This can work against me if I really want a reader to stay and read, which is why I’m holding back on swearing for this post. There are other things just in my writing style that could prevent anyone from fully understanding. When I write informative statements—a technique I learned in school for essay writing—there can be a double-edged reaction. Some people will find the way this post is written to be persuasive, decisive, and to the point. Others will find it condescending and pretentious. Not even for the content (although surely that will be a reason,) but because of the way I make statements as if they’re facts. Some people want to hear ‘maybe’ or ‘please’ or ‘this is only my opinion’ or a million wishy washy statements to ensure that these simple words aren’t attacking them. It will be very difficult to reach through such perspectives because already the language barrier is so great. I’m putting words on a screen and a reader has already decided the way the words are arranged is wrong. Explaining my intentions still can’t mean they’re understood or even had an effect. I can tell you that in my rants, I have no intention of hurting anyone. I can point out how I choose not to name or link anyone in this situation because even in my fun rants, I choose to be responsible with where I direct potential shrapnel. I understand real life consequences can come from insanity on screens. I have no interest in creating more drama, more pain, or singling anyone out. Those who want pain will find it without me. I just want to remark with my opinion of things. But in sharing my opinion, I do my best to act as responsibly as I perceive it to be, because I don’t want to be shitty toward people while they’re freaking out over things on their particular screen. What I think is shitty is different from what you think shitty is. Tomorrow, that definition may be completely different from today. Nothing I can do about it. We are all different with different beliefs and perceptions. So when I say something, be it in person or on a screen, I understand my words aren’t interpreted fully the way I intend. They’re read the way each individual perceives. I can do my best to express myself, but it will never be as powerful as whatever is going on in the mind of who is reading my words. You know, if they can get past me writing fuck all the time. XD Here are a few examples of words that can be perceived strongly even though they’re just symbols on a screen. Cunt. Rape. Aids. Scam. Victim. God. Torture. Cancer. Traitor. Molestation. Trump. Slut. Mother. Failure. Prison. I could go into racial slurs but I feel the point is made. Earlier I mentioned Doctor and SSRI. These are symbols on a page—mouth sounds when spoken—but the power of these words lives in the mind of the person perceiving them. The power is the concept you hold when you think of these words. These concepts are part of your emotional software. You might believe, ‘No, these words mean the same thing to everyone because it’s fact!’ I recommend you listen to a foreign language you aren’t familiar with, and find some mouth sounds that sound suspiciously like these mouth sounds and yet don’t mean the same thing. Your brain will still have the reaction as if they are the words you know. Perception is stronger than intention because intention comes from outside us, while perception is our filter on everything that is let in. No one can see outside their filter, but they can attempt to adjust that filter to see things without their emotional software.

Reality Is Defined By The Mind

If I never saw another screen again, the Internet would cease to exist for me. Everyone on the Internet would cease to exist. The only reason I might think they are still out there would be because I would have memories of interaction. If I realize those memories are just thoughts in my head, or those memories are forgotten, the Internet would no longer exist to me. This is the power of perception. Our world is defined by our minds. I stress ‘defined,’ instead of suggesting reality is actualized by our minds. For example, allergies. I am allergic to over 20 different substances, many of them mold. Mold is very prominent in foods, especially grains, as well as houses, buildings, growing on the lawn, etc. It’s everywhere. For the most part, I cannot see the substances I’m allergic to, therefore I cannot prove that they exist outside of my random reactions. When I first discovered my severe health problems were rooted in allergies, I felt victimized. I had the perspective that the world—nature itself—was trying to kill me (or at least keep me very sick.) It took a while for me to choose a new perspective. The one where I acknowledged that the world hasn’t done anything; my immune system has decided to target certain substances in the world and freak out. I was doing this. My body is doing this. Now, does that stop me from being allergic? Not really. Reality is reality. But it allows for a completely different set of reactions and actions based off of my perspective. I no longer needed to obsess looking for ways to isolate from allergens or feel depressed because nature hates me. I could instead look into improving my immune function through supplements and allergy shots, and be conscious about how I feel when I breathe around things I fear might have allergens. The immune system is connected to stress levels, so to keep from having my body freak out over inert substances in the air, I decided to work on my brain not freaking out. My perspective allowed me to have a different path, one that has made living with allergies and an autoimmune disorder (when the immune system attacks the body) far more bearable than the dramatic soap opera I had initially conceived it to be. Seeing as autoimmune disorders tend to go hand in hand with PTSD, there could be more than just a belief that being calm has calming results. PTSD is a battle in the mind about what can be real and part of self. Autoimmune is a battle in the body about what part is the body and if it should be attacked. Theoretically, when you stop attacking yourself in your mind, you may set a standard with the rest of your body to stop attacking itself. When you walk away physically from something, but you can’t let it go, it’s because your mind is fixated on something not actually there. While one person can turn a screen off and never think of the contents on that screen again, someone else can turn a screen off and spend sleepless nights thinking of the contents on that screen. They might spend hours arguing in their head, not eating, snapping at their loved ones, ruminating over and over again day after day. ‘That thing I read or saw… That thing. It’s doing this to me. That thing is making me crazy. If only I could understand it. It needs to make sense. That person who wrote that thing—they’re the ones who did this to me! They hurt me. They need to pay.’ The choice to fixate is what makes people lose touch with reality. The need to understand and define the meaningless traps us in a world of beliefs. I would know; I’ve been there. But hey, let’s explore. Let’s have a look at that asshole who made you do that thing you didn’t want to do. Let’s meet an author.

An Example Of A Greasy Salesman

Who do you perceive me, the author of this post, to be? I can choose to offer a different perspective in the hopes of changing how you see me. Like, the fact I’m covered in butter right now! Head to toe, salted and everything, butter. I’m avoiding salicylates because of my allergies. Did you know you can have a histamine response without an immune response? That means you can have the same symptoms of allergies, just without the immune system going crazy. So, since salicylates are in just about every fruit and most plants we eat, and plant based oils are in all my body lotions, I’m slicking up with butter until I find something better. It smells delicious. XD Now, did that paragraph force you to go out and buy butter, or research allergies and histamines? Are you covered in butter right now to see what it’s like? Do you actually know for a fact I’m covered in butter? There is no way for you to know, (but I am! XD) What if I told you Sadie Sins is offering a limited edition body lotion based off of my new butter research, and if you preorder now, you too can be buttery and histamine reaction free? What if I said, if you don’t preorder, I’m going to send mobsters to your house to force you to try my buttery concoction whether you like it or not? (I know, intriguing. Where would I get a bunch of buttered up mobsters to slick you up against your will? Are they hot? Naturally. <3) I know, it all just seems so silly when it’s butter. What about if it’s a book? What about if it’s for my cat and dog who both need life saving operations asap? (My cats are fine, btw, no worries, and I don’t own a dog.) I could say absolutely anything to try to persuade someone to send money my way. I can say anything at any time. It’s just an arrangements of symbols on a page. They could have been placed there months ago or a moment. Words are everywhere. But what are you doing when you’re reading those words? Well, what do you do when you interact with someone on the street? You perceive to the best of your ability. In the real world, you believe your eyes, ears, nose, mouth, touch, and brain are all working correctly to paint a picture of reality of the person in front of you. On a computer screen? All you have is your brain and eyes, sometimes ears. When you choose to trust someone, you aren’t choosing to trust what you know about them. You’re choosing to trust what you believe you know, while ignoring what you don’t know. Some people, like myself, choose to trust while accepting that we don’t know for certain that anything is true or real. You may have thought differently of me with that little butter example—like I’m weird, possibly very slippery atm. Quirky. A manipulative asshole. Whatever. I can’t control how people think or what they do—I can’t control if people continue reading. You could have walked away already because no one is obligated to read what’s in front of them. If they feel obligated, that’s a perception in their mind, not a reality. What if you look at the date of this post and it turns out to be a week in the past? A month? A year? Is everything in this post a lie now because, hey, a year from now I may not be covered in butter? The text said I was in butter, so it must be true. What if a year from now, it comes out in Buttergate to reveal that no, I have never slathered myself in butter. Only margarine! (Margarine likely has salicylates, so I don’t recommend it.) You have been mislead. You have been betrayed. Or, you know, you got sucked into a story and lost track of reality, because you forgot everything you’re reading is just words on a screen. Everything on your screen is a story, an imitation of life. I readily admit I do not know the world. I’m still discovering parts of my own brain and psyche; how can I know everything and be certain of its validity? How can I know anything without the filter of my brain? My brain defines my reality. I can only trust that how it’s defined is real, and part of that trust is understanding that what is before me might change in an instant to reveal something more accurate. It’s acknowledging that a computer screen is not a human being. That a drawing or photo is not a human being. That the written account of someone’s past is not a human being. A corporation is not a fucking human being. If you would like to prove to me without a shadow of a doubt that you are indeed a real human being and be awarded a certificate to validate your existence, please send me naked videos of yourself. Keep it sexy. I’m afraid my email has a processing fee of $50 for every mb of data sent, so first initiate a direct deposit of $1000 to my Paypal, and I’ll refund you whatever is left over once the videos are received… I know, I can’t help it. It’s funny to me. Lol. You can either be at my very whim, hostage to the things I choose to write on my computer, or you can admit you are the only one in control of your actions. Considering I’m not rich, I’m pretty sure when I say ‘give me money’ it doesn’t force anyone to do anything. (But please, feel free to prove me wrong. That’ll show me. Hardcore.) We all have the choice to walk the fuck away from the screen. We all have the choice to disengage our minds from the screen.

The Insanity Of Humanity

If I believed people were victims, then I would be blaming victims. Victim is a concept of the mind; a person can’t be a concept. I’m pointing out that there is a choice being intentionally ignored because people want to see someone be punished for what happened. A righteous ending to an angry, ‘unfair’ story. They want a sacrifice, and they will find as many as they can to make them feel like the world makes sense. If the world made sense, genocide wouldn’t exist; wars wouldn’t happen; sexual attraction, skin color, and belief systems wouldn’t be a justification for murder, oppression and imprisonment. We wouldn’t seek out and attack each other for differences of opinion. Chain letters wouldn’t have ever been a thing—seriously, don’t get me started on this wanton choice of insane belief. Annoying as fuck madness, chain letters. If you disagree, forward this newsletter to twenty of your closest, dearest friends before April 1st, or a gremlin will hide inside your closet and turn all your clothes baby-poop green. I swear it’s true. My cousin’s, neighbor’s, best friend’s father-in-law knew a guy who saw it happen. His clothes were gross. Don’t risk it! The world does not make sense, at least, the world created by human perception. The need for sense and reason comes from humanity, not reality. I cannot change it; I can only point it out. The same way I cannot change that pain is a perception that lives only in the mind.

Prove Your Pain Is Real

Can you? Can you even find your pain? Can you hold it up and show it? Can you let someone borrow it? What about a thought? Can you prove thoughts are real? Yes, you can describe and write a thought down or speak one, but that’s not a thought, that’s just an imitations of a thought. Thoughts aren’t symbols on pieces of paper. Both thoughts and pain live in one place; the mind. Phantom limb pain is where a body part that is no longer attached is perceived to tingle, twitch, move and/or hurt. This is not a haunting by a limb; this is an indication that body sensations are all translated and defined in the brain to the point that we don’t need a body to believe we have one. It’s why certain drugs can stop pain; not because the wound or injury is gone, but because the perception of the pain is disrupted. Pain feels real. That sensation occurs in the brain and is translated as being in the body, but it ‘feels’ real. Emotional pain can also feel real. You have a brain capable of recreating the sensations of an actual limb that is no longer attached. The brain is wondrous, but it can also trap you in a delusion depending on if you believe your emotional pain is real. PTSD is a disorder that works with body sensations and chemicals to make an individual believe that thoughts of pain are actually real. That’s a good sign that even brains not inflicted with PTSD have a system in place that can create this illusion. PTSD is just the lack of finding the off switch when it comes to a built in survival mechanism. That means the biological machine you’re living in has all the systems in place to make you believe pure illusion. You don’t have a body sensation to interpret a source with emotional pain. But once emotional pain is defined in the brain, the body/brain can release a chemical cocktail to insist that what you’re feeling is actually real. All emotional pain has to cling to is the mind’s belief that what you’re feeling is real and important. It’s a choice many people don’t think they have control over. They do. It is completely up to you to decide if the pain—the hurt, the anger, the outrage, the need for justice—if any of it is actually important and worth feeling pain over. You may be asking if it’s right or wrong to no longer have huge, reactionary emotions to everything around you. That’s a morality judgment reserved for those who need to feel like there are rules and meaning to keep the world and society in order. If you can trust that you can exist in this world pain free (or at least, pain less) and not be someone who goes out and murders for kicks, then that trust is enough. You never knew the real world to begin with. Right and wrong never existed. If you honestly think that belief in morality is the reason you’re not a murdering psychopath, well, good luck with that. You might want to forget everything you just read to keep from murdering everyone you know including yourself. Clearly you’re not in charge of your actions (this is sarcasm, just to be clear.) It’s just you and your brain in all this. There is no one to trust but yourself, so you might as well place it there.

How Do You Really Know Reality?

Can you look at another human being and truly know if they are thinking, if they are feeling? When you look in the mirror, can you see your thoughts and emotions? You can see someone move and interact with their environment. You can watch someone stare at a screen for hours and hours on end, living in a false world in their head stimulated by images and text on a screen. But do you know if brain activity is occurring? What if the muscles in their face are paralyzed and there is no facial expression to go off of? Have you ever seen a thought? You’re reading a reaction to my thoughts, but this is not a thought, only text. Can you grab someone’s happiness and hold it? What about pluck someone’s depression from their shoulder? It is absolutely your belief that defines if you perceive other people to be the same as you on an emotional and intellectual level, because there is no tangible way to truly know. I choose to assume that everyone is my equal, capable of doing the things I do. I choose to assume that my senses aren’t lying, and I’m truly living in a human body, on a planet, surrounded by other humans. Not to get too Matrix here, but this is a choice of belief because all we have are our perceptions. I can point out that screens can’t be lived in, but they are creating a perception of reality because of the brain. The brain is capable of creating layers of reality, and there is no way to know if our perceptions are honest to actual reality. Our brains are the only reason we can perceive to have senses in the first place. Everything we know, everything we see, all comes from our brain. I’m not a Flat-Earther, but the movement bring up an interesting point of perspective. Unless you can use your senses to fully perceive something, you can never truly ‘know.’ The scale of the Earth is too large to honestly know if it’s round through human senses. We know because we create tools to measure, compare, map, photograph, math, etc, etc, but to the human mind, our reality is still only what we perceive through our senses and what we choose to believe. Sometimes those senses can be ignored completely to be replaced purely by belief so things make ‘sense.’

Identity Is Crafted Through Beliefs

Last week’s newsletter was never about the author and what they did or who they were. It was how I felt about the reaction from the community. I’m not defending or blaming anyone; that author made every choice he/she/they made. Every person has their line of what they think is appropriate, but just because my line is different doesn’t mean I’m going to condemn someone for their line. I have seen this line everywhere, but it’s this particular community that takes it personally. People tell stories all the time. People get swept up into things all the time. I was commenting on the community—the same group of people who bought into the false identity in the first place, and who are now buying into the ‘pain must be avenged’ story. The community who keeps looking for justifications to feel hurt, while ignoring the pattern of behavior they’re perpetuating. How frustrating to know it will continue because people don’t want to see the part they play. How frustrating to realize anyone could accuse any author for not being ‘real,’ and ruin years of work. I cannot prove to you I am real. How do I know that? Because you cannot prove to me you are real. (But if you really want to prove it, send money to… XD) We are going on belief and trust here, and for all I know, you’re a Russian spy bot that signed up to my newsletter. Yes, all 6000 of you. *suspicious glare* Perception of reality in this modern world has revealed to have real world consequences. The harder that perception is clung to, the easier it is to make someone act against their own interests as they buy into a story and lose track of their behavior. I’m not just talking financial consequences, I’m talking cults, road rage, self harm, stopping the activities you love because someone wants you to be different. It’s very easy to blame the trigger, the words on the screen or the author of those words, but it’s your actual actions in response to your beliefs that are the defining key in these scenarios. I watch people continue to feed the behavior of turning intangible pain into concrete vengeance, instead of stopping and learning and being responsible for their beliefs. I feel connected to the MM and LGBTQ community. It is this connection where my emotional software lies on this subject. A part of me identifies with the community and the genre where there are so many readers who love MM. I see pain here. I see a disconnect from reality as people keep screaming their pain at absolute strangers, demanding they stop hurting them. I feel invested and want to see the best for the community, even as I know that is completely up to the individuals within the community. I see the rigidness of belief in identity the community clings to as the source of a lot of drama and pain, not to mention the justification of these witch hunts as they seek to punish those who don’t fit their expectations. I do not say this to be shocking, or condemning, just honest to my experiences. I have never been discriminated against outside of the LGBTQ community for my sexuality. I have been discriminated against within the LGBTQ community repeatedly for my sexuality. This is a community obsessed with identity based on gender and sexuality, and how those things appear in the body and the world. But gender is a concept. Sexuality is a concept. Attractiveness is a concept. The need to escape these concepts is forcing these thoughts to be important in some people’s minds. It’s just in the mind, but people keep defining themselves and others by these concepts. Identity becomes integral for this community when identity doesn’t even exist. In the same way the PTSD brain is obsessed with pain as value, so too does the community obsess with the pain of not being allowed to be who they identify as. It is an obsession. While others can change their clothes and be allowed to be exactly who they are—or someone else completely as they choose—those obsessed with identity must reaffirm all identity again and again, labeling, defining, insisting others cannot be really be who they are because *insert rigid defining rule that everyone must follow or leave.* The details become so important. The concepts define and trap humans in their perspectives, and try to prevent them from moving and being free. This is not everyone in the community. This is not even the majority. It’s easy to notice the loud, critical voices and define them as an entire group—especially when they’re being really loud. But communities are groups of people who identify as similar in particular aspects, so these rigid beliefs of identity are more prominent within the community than those who hover at the edges or step away to be independent. In the need to escape, to be allowed to be free from being discriminated for sexual identity, certain individuals act in ways that discriminate against others for their identity. That rigidness can push others out. Grand example: Veganism. A concept when forced on others can becomes so overbearing, people want to escape. Vegetarians aren’t ‘good enough,’ and meat eaters aren’t allowed to exist and need to be educated or removed completely. Not all vegans are like this, but the ones who are so caught up in the identity define the negativity of the entire concept of Veganism. Last week I expressed my frustration with this pattern of behavior in the community. What was heard, on the other hand, well. That’s where perception trumps intention. I’m sure I wasn’t as clear as I’d prefer with the fever—and the fact I was ranting XD—but that is the way of communication. I can express myself to the best of my ability, but if no one else can read English, the message is already lost.

The Weight Of The World

I can tell from some comments, there are individuals who would rather I consider the events that brought these reactions into being in the author situation, instead of focusing on the community’s response. They want to tell me a story so that I will feel the same emotions of outrage, because they feel these emotions are important and justified. Some think I’m uninformed. Clearly if I were informed, I wouldn’t feel the way I do! It’s just impossible, right? I’m informed, but it is still a story to me. I will not debate the right and wrong of punishing all of humanity when Eve gave Adam the apple; it’s a nonsense story that has no meaning on reality. I won’t get caught up in the morality of eating meat when we live on a planet where every organism consumes organisms to live. Reality is reality, and only things that happen now are real. Many things don’t happen, but we believe they do. Many things happen that we will never know. Do they require our emotional response when they have never reached our knowledge? Why does knowledge of an event require the same pain as an event we actually experience? Why is that illusion of pain so important that every imitation of life requires it? Let’s say a terrible event was filmed. During the filming, only the person with the camera saw it. This event only existed in reality for one person for that one moment. But when that film was shown, shared across the Internet, and repeated for years, the replica of the moment then lives in the minds of every single person who viewed and felt pain to know it could have existed. One moment of pain that could have been allowed to slip away, instead becomes a devastation across nations and generations with no end, carried in the minds of billions. What if it turns out the film was actually fiction? The event was staged? Does it matter, when the response is the same and people believe that pain is real? If it’s perceived as ‘real,’ people feel obligated to respond as if it’s real. Does the perception of pain make you obligated to feel pain? I say to be free, no. There is enough pain in our actual lives without carrying the pain of the entire human race, past, future, and fantasy. Today can never be today if we’re carrying yesterday’s pain in our hearts. This isn’t some sort of hypothetical; this is a requirement in the modern world. People watch the news all the time and it’s filled with images of tragedy and pain on a loop. We’re dealing with dictators who send out absolute lies to populations including films of fiction, and insist it’s all real. Fox News is a perfect example of lies sold as reality to a nation. I’ve never seen the state news of North Korea, but it’s a false perspective fed to an entire population. We call Reality TV reality when it’s absolutely bullshit. We are living in a complicated world of perspectives, one that will be growing more confusing, more difficult to distinguish between reality and perception as our technology improves and lines keep blurring. There is no changing that reality is filtered through our minds. Our perspectives are our individual reality. If we cling rigidly to our perspective, we will forever be battling with the inconsistencies as someone stands beside us and sees a new view. Even though an individual’s perspective is his/her complete reality, it actually does nothing to change the reality that individual is perceiving outside of ‘meaning.’ Reality will continue to change, grow, degrade, shift, adjust, adapt. We must be as malleable as the perception of reality itself, or we may end up killing each other to prove the world is a globe instead of flat. You can carry all that pain you perceive with you, or you can realize that the events you view and read don’t require your emotional distress. Until you can disengage and realize you have a choice in your beliefs and actions, you won’t be able to truly understand the nonsense of the author situation. I understand some think their feelings are what’s important, but that is exactly why they can’t see past them. Those emotions and the concepts attached to them have become more valuable than the situation in their minds. Which is why they are filtering reality through those emotions to create a perception of the world where the emotions are valued above everything else. That emotional software is unique to that individual, yet they’re trying to define reality by it for everyone. It makes it hard to find common ground. It makes it so someone can’t even express a difference of perspective without the individuals emotionally invested feeling the need to make that opinion disappear. It makes it so the people who feel that their pain is more valuable than all else must ensure it doesn’t happen again—something that is completely impossible to do, btw—and act in ways that restrict and harm others to ensure that intent.

Ego Death

While it can be easy without PTSD to step back and take stock of the situation and realize things aren’t as first appeared, PTSD requires far more. It requires the complete tearing down of reality depending on the individual and how deep the ‘triggering event’ is associated with concepts. For me, it required ego death, one I experienced fully for about a day and a half. I lost about a month or so of writing as I slowly rebuilt back into a more relatable being (subjective, I’m sure! XD) But for a while there, I was completely unhinged from what most people would perceive as reality (or, as Wendy calls it—love this term!—consensual reality.) I read a passage about ego death and my brain had a moment of, ‘wait, that’s possible?’ and bam. PTSD memory released and the absolute rewriting of my emotional software. All because my brain perceived it was ‘allowed’ to change. Everything was bliss, funny, interesting, including my own emotions. You think my response to this author thing might sound callous? I was laughing at the mudslide victims in California for not leaving their homes when there were forest fires. The fire didn’t get them, but the damn mud did when one was way more expected and seen! What a ridiculous joke, life. To ‘argue’ online was to do it while laughing at the amazing sensation of the emotions I would feel. My bf thought I was being patronizing or funny as fuck depending on the subject. We laughed so much those days because nothing could hurt, nothing could encroach on my perspective of reality and taint it with fears of the future or mental concepts of the past. It was freedom. It did, unfortunately, make my writing very difficult. All the rules—there are so many rules! You don’t even understand all the stupid concepts we call rules—time, language, symbols, speech patterns and mouth sounds. Ugh. So much bullshit. I didn’t want to care, I didn’t want to write sentences at all or polish anything. I just wanted to throw words at the screen and let them stick. An idea was enough, damn it! Lol, but Hellcat sucked. That first draft had no ego, no character life, and I realized I needed to don that ego persona again to write those characters with a more genuine feel. There is always the possibility that the persona of Sadie Sins can be slipped off and folded up when I stop writing. It’s expected, like any performance artist. But I also know the same is true of Gabrielle. Ego death was just a matter of slipping that persona off as well and realizing for everything I can do to write a character, I can write myself into being. And who is anyone outside of me to say I can’t? They have no control over who I can be. Some people find this concept to be freeing, the realization that you are not the accumulation of everything that happened to you. When you have lived through ‘horrors’—be they real or in your mind—it is very easy to identify self as events or actions or thoughts or wants. Freedom from that identity is bliss. Others may find the concept of ego death enraging. They need their pain and suffering to have value because their identity needs value. They need to feel it all, and for others to feel it, and for every single human on this planet—before, now, and after—to conform to their beliefs of the world. One perspective demands people to change or disappear to make one human being happy. The other perspective asks you to accept the world as it is, and who you are in the world as a choice. We think the events of our lives do this, that they define us, but really it’s our perceptions of what we value. We choose to pluck from the hours and years of past footage, add in values and beliefs and costumes, and go ‘this is me.’ And let me just say, how interesting a choice to seek all the misery and decide that is who you are instead of all the beauty.

The Dangers Of Rigid Thinking

The reason I came to this mindset was because I wanted freedom from PTSD. I had a severe perception disorder that caused physical and psychological damage in my life, and required so much more to break free than just touching a screen and going ‘oh, that’s just a flat surface with symbols on it. Stop freaking.’ The level of perception change I went through is unusual (to the best of my knowledge.) That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek to open the mind and adapt to the world as it is. There is a danger to perceiving rigidly when the world is malleable. One is the reason I brought the whole thing up—being scammed. How many people have invested thousands into educational courses or business schemes only to discover ‘it’s a scam?’ They’re not getting what they perceive their money and time is worth. How many keep with it, still pouring money in because they ‘invested?’ They feel they gave their time and money and belief and they can’t back down now. They believe they have to make it work, or it proves they’re a failure or a chump. How about cults? I just explained in this newsletter how reality is purely our perception. Do you think I’m the first person to figure that out? This truth is absolutely exploited by every religious institution out there (not to mention marketing company.) The more insidious are the ones who tear down the boundaries of ‘reality’ and then tell their followers what the only reality can be. They grab the brain when it’s malleable, and then they give their followers a rigid belief system that they lock in. It can start right in the cradle for ‘religions’ or at any other point in your life. Adults are not immune to rigid perceptions; quite the opposite. Suddenly you’re out millions of dollars, acting like a maniac on television while promoting your latest movie and praising Xenu. Or you’re promoting to all your followers on social media that the Earth really is flat because you can’t see the curve when you’re in a plane. Or that the Illuminati, a race of lizard people you haven’t met, is actually real because text on a screen said so. Or that it’s okay to murder someone over a drawing because they insinuated that it was a representation of Muhammad. What about suicide and cyber bullying? There is an extreme rage, and an even deeper sorrow as the mind tries to comprehend what could drive a youth to take their own life. When you believe the cruel messages, you’re lost to them. When you give your self esteem over to the worst voices you hear or read, and choose not to walk away, you’re allowing so much pain to define you, forge you, and ultimately destroy you. No one makes you engage, no one makes you define self by the voices of others. We need to understand perception and our choices, because we make irrational choices when we fail to see reality. This is not a morality definition on suicide (or any of the examples above.) I truly believe suicide is the ultimate choice of self and no one has a right to interfere. But to allow that choice to be made not from a place of acceptance of death, but to escape perceived pain can be absolutely mind boggling. If this is the only existence you perceive, why fill it with so much unbearable misery that you must erase from life completely? Ego death for a rebirth and you can have a whole new life instead of stopping it all. You may not want to be the person who has a mental concept that the noise a car makes as it pulls up beside you means that the other car wants to run you off the road and you need to drive dangerously in response. You may not want to believe the water you’re drinking is safe—even though it totally doesn’t taste right and it lights on fire—but ‘an authority,’ the gas company said it was fine. You may not want to keep paying on a car loan you can’t afford just because you think you’ll have ‘failed’ or be ‘worthless’ or have ‘broken a promise.’ Don’t be the dumbass killing celebrities because you think The Catcher In The Rye is talking to you! It’s not necessarily what people believe that leads to irrational or dangerous actions. We all believe things that can’t be proved and may never be. It’s that some believe so completely, that they ignored the basic instinct to not harm or be harmed. Consider a mouse still and content in a field, and a cat that doesn’t sense it across the yard. But when the mouse perceives a danger, perceives it *must* react, danger, danger, danger, and goes bolting out to avoid that mental concept of danger, the cat sees and pounces. It’s the same with the gun debate in America. The mental concept that a ‘gun will protect me because I don’t want to be shot’ is raging against reality. All guns do is shoot. That’s what they’re designed for, shooting bullets to hit things. If you don’t want to be shot, don’t surround yourself with the things that shoot. What life are you trapping yourself in right this moment? Are you allowed to have fun? Are you allowed to pursue the things you enjoy? Do you deserve to suffer? Do you need to take an hour to ensure your hair and makeup is perfect or you’re not a valuable person? If you don’t make $20 an hour, are you a complete failure? If your loved one doesn’t read your mind and acknowledge your emotions, do they hate you? Do you spend your days writing erotica but perceive that the world thinks you’re weird/wrong for it (I fought this belief a good year while telling myself I was winning.) The only way to break free is to realize you’re doing it to yourself. You’re choosing to believe these ideas have value, and as such you must logic your way out of them. You need to strip it away instead because there is no value to be found. It can be difficult to see reality past the emotional software. I truly don’t know if it’s harder for those with PTSD or without, because I have only ever had one brain. But I do know you can be inflicted with a perspective disorder all the way back to the beginning of your life, and still find a way free. You don’t have to be trapped in your brain and the painful concepts you unwittingly create. You can open your mind and see that the real world is still the real world, and your thoughts about it don’t fuck it up or save it. Reality remains reality and you remain you.

A Note Of Compassion

Some of you smarties might be pointing out, ‘Sadie, if you’re so fucking with it, why were you ranting last week?’ Lol. Well, it’s fun, for starters. Because I’m a human being and wonderfully imperfect. It took me stopping, realizing I was perceiving an entire movement of pitchforks over some bitchy posts on the Internet about an author I don’t even know—although I liked one of his/her books. Nice sex scenes—and then I reacted like an angry mob was coming after every author out there and I needed to defend. Rawr! Partially because I’m well aware of how impossible it is to really know someone and how these techniques, such as pen names and ghostwriting are so commonplace in the writing community. Partly because I failed to stop and take a step back and remember just because a few voices on the Internet are saying shit doesn’t mean anything. Like, legit. No offense, but someone bitching in a review about one of my books is not a book written. A minute to bitch verses hours/days/months to write a book? Yeah, I’ll let you know when I care. People bitch all the time, and it’s only if you listen that it even has an impact. We pay people to listen—looking at you, Congress—and they still don’t bother. But I had made a choice to listen. I read those little sordid details of ‘why this mattered!’ and I projected that concern of ‘you people are fucking delusional’ into the future and had a nice rant for the sake of all my author friends and for myself. I know, very mature of me. I also yell at the television for being dumb. (One of us is dumb and it’s probably not the two dimensional TV. XD) This again comes back to the morality and value concept. I can choose to feel shame for fucking up by reacting to my emotional software—even though ‘fucking up’ is also just a concept and no one can actually fail. I can choose to ignore what I did, and steam forward while insisting rigidly that everyone should see things my way. Or I can accept that I’m human, I do things, and sometimes I would rather not do things. And it’s not the rant I would want to undo—it was a good, informative rant. I’d rather have not had the perception that a bunch of humans who I innately care about would forever continue to rail at invisible demons in their heads and blame it on the authors who are very good at crafting similar demons with words. I trapped these people in my mind as being trapped. I don’t want them to be trapped, so I need to stop seeing them that way. It comes down to compassion. I have compassion for self and for everyone I perceive. It’s not always seen, but the intention is there far beneath the messiness of emotional software and erratic reactions.

There’s Nothing In The Dark But You And Your Mind

If you find my rants entertaining, know I find ranting to be an entertaining way to spend some time. XD But my rants are short, they pass as fast as it takes to write them out, and I return to the real world because that’s where I want to be. What you’re reading is just an echo of my thoughts. For those who want to live in their computer screen thinking that is the real world, that is where they want to be and it will be very hard to understand each other because of it. I don’t believe the world in the screen is real. I don’t even know if you actually exist; you’re no more than text on a screen to me—but you’re seriously awesome text, just saying. Whoot, sexy font. XD It is your belief that I am real that makes me real to you. Otherwise, you would notice all I am is text and a few images on your screen, and actual people are more than that. You supply my existence for you with your belief. For all you know, this post is years old and I’m dead. I will leave last week’s rant there for those who need to say whatever it is they feel compelled to say. You will not be challenged by me, you will not be questioned, persuaded, embraced, asked to change or be judged. I will not be your witness or your conflict. I promise you silence as you vent, which I realize I should have offered from the very beginning. You are alone with only yourself and your perceptions every time you sit in front of your computer, and this is no different. You have only yourself to understand, insult, convince, struggle against, and ultimately forgive. It can feel very cathartic to bitch online and state your beliefs. I know I enjoy it. XD I see your pain. You may want me to see your anger or your intelligence, but I see your pain. Truly, I hope you find peace. We’re all trying to cope with the fact we’re alive. Some people find the way to cope is to throw themselves into the details, to swear up and down if they find some value in it all, everything will be okay. They will ‘do’ something, they will ‘be’ someone, and the world will change. They want control. They tell themselves things they can never know the truth of to make it through another dark night, then distract themselves with all the shiny bright things in the light. It’s fine. Cope. Scream at the world for not being within your control. I know plenty who have gone to their graves still screaming at the world instead of embracing and loving the moments they have. It wasn’t ‘wrong,’ just very lonely. I choose freedom from pain while others cling tight, and it’s perfectly fine. I don’t need to protect you from your minds because you are not victims—no matter how many people would like me to believe you are too dumb and incapable of making choices. I will not take responsibility for your reactions and your feelings because they are yours, not mine. The way I conduct myself is by my belief systems, not by any social obligation to conform to perceived norms. You’re still the one in control of how you feel and act. If you don’t feel in control, I suggest mindfulness. It’s very calming and makes the world interesting instead of full of pain. Two sources that helped me greatly and eventually led to my current perspective is Byron Katie and Eckhart Tolle. This post was about empowerment for every single person on this globe. If you find it to be otherwise, if you believe what I’m saying leaves people behind, leaves them victimized and broken while others are allowed to live the way they want, that is a belief you need to look inside and question. Because if you don’t believe you have an innate right to decide how you want to see the world, then you don’t believe others have that right or ability. The human race is moving day by day closer to globalization, a reaching and connecting with absolutely different cultures with different belief systems all seen on an array of screens. It is very easy to feel ‘superior’ when we see a culture different, one where people act against their own interests, or more specifically, against our interests. It is only through malleable perspectives and responsibility of reactions and actions that we’re going to find common ground and keep a balance. America is still battling perceptions from moments far into the past, such as slavery and gender/race/sexuality inequality. How long will the human race carry every mistake and pain instead of finally moving forward fresh and free? I hope your interpretation of my words is remotely close to my intentions. As for your reactions to that interpretation, well, I have no way to predict or control any of it. The text on the screen means absolutely nothing without a human mind to read, and as such, it is yours to own. I am merely the intention who wrote it. You are alone in your mind with your opinions and perceptions of pain. If you want to continue living in that pain while deciding it is meaningful and worthwhile to suffer, that is your choice completely. Just know it is a choice, and at any moment you’re allowed to feel differently. Peace.  


The apartment outside, the stairwell, the gang following up, filling up the space. Corey’s inside, calling to Sage from the bedroom, asking where the fuck he’s been. He’s been waiting for the damn pain in the ass. Did he get any money—

Money? Frey speaks up, stalking into the living room, Corey swearing from the unfamiliar man’s voice. He comes out of the bedroom with his bat, a beer in hand. Who the fuck are you? Sage, did you seriously let these fuckers into the house?

Sage is shaking and for the first time it’s not fully out of fear of Corey. He’s afraid of Frey, afraid of the damn near animalistic power these men were standing with.

Frey has some questions for Corey. About Sage. Why he hurts him. Why he gives a fuck if he’s having sex. What—did you get off, you little freak! I fucking warned you—Frey grabs the bat when Corey goes to swing it, snarling as the nails bit into his hand. Corey stares at him, hissing when Frey starts to heal. Fuck—you’re one of them.

He was drunk, couldn’t notice their odd eyes in the light. Sage, you brought fucking werewolves into the house! Taylor’s hand grabbed his again, the small boy edging in front of him like he was a shield. But Sage wasn’t afraid for himself. Frey looked terrifying, the man taller, puffing. He was a werewolf, a leader of a pack of werewolves, and when they had problems, they dealt with it one way. By killing.

Corey, just answer his questions, Sage pleaded, his eyes wide and full of unshed tears. Don’t… don’t fight these guys.

Motherfucker! Glaring at where Sage and Taylor were holding hands, Corey wrenched his bat from Frey’s hand, only to have his throat grabbed by the werewolf leader. Listen to your brother, Corey.

He’s not my brother, Corey snarled. He’s some fucking halfbreed that I should have let the werewolves eat years ago, he spat out against the hold. I should have known he’d find his family of freaks eventually.

What are you saying? Sage whispered.

He’s lying, Taylor said furiously. He’s just trying to hurt you for bringing them here.

Like fuck. His father was a dog cock and now the little bitch has found a pack of them. Just like sick ass mom—she got them both killed. If she had stayed the fuck away from the shifters, the werewolves never would have come for us. She got dad killed cus she was a cheating whore.

Enough, Frey snarled. He pushed Corey like a ragdoll, Jared catching him and grabbing the man by the mouth so he couldn’t speak.

Sweetness, does he hurt you? Frey tears Sage’s shirt off, revealing the boy’s old scars. Don’t kill him, Frey. He hurts you—hates you. How long until he decides he doesn’t want you to live anymore? That he can’t share space with a shifter? Then I’ll leave, Sage pleaded, tears falling when Frey licked up the side of his neck. Come live with me, pet. I’ll take care of you. Make sure he’ll never hurt you again. Give you everything you need. Don’t kill him. He’s all I have left. You have us now, baby. You’re never going to be alone again. No one is ever going to hurt you.

Fucking shit, Taylor whispered, covering his eyes when he heard the crack of bones, Jared’s fingers biting into Corey’s face. Wide eyed, Sage stared straight into Frey’s golden eyes, his breath coming out in hyperventilating gasps, Corey’s scream rising up.

He’s nothing, pretty. A piece of meat that’s been rotting out here, poisoning good people, good minds. The weak die and he is weak while we are strong. Frey crushes his mouth to his, Sage gasping, turning his head away only to be lifted up, Frey wrapping his arms around him while kissing him deep. Corey’s scream cut off abruptly, a sickening crack breaking in the air, Jared’s growl ripping through the room as the man’s body dropped in a heap on the floor.

Frey works at a crying Sage until the boy agrees he’ll go back with him, be his. He’s hard, taken next to the cooling, bloodied corpse of Corey.


Harry dressed quickly, trying not to think of all the clothing around him and if they had belonged to kids just like him or if they had been bought and thrown there for kids just like him. He found Draco's clothes balled together, shoes tossed against the wall. Some blood had gotten on them but Harry figured it was still better to wear your own clothes than someone else's—especially these weird, sad clothes. Harry carefully dressed the sleeping Draco, trying not to wake him up just in case the magic only worked when Draco was asleep, and he might wake up full of weird lust.

Getting Draco out the bedroom was easy enough, but the living room was difficult, the piles of newspapers harder to navigate around. Harry thought of turning the light on but was afraid someone from outside might see and know that they were escaping. He thought briefly of looking through the fridge, maybe finding any money stashed in the apartment so that they wouldn't be without resources. He wouldn't feel bad steeling from these terrible people. But he didn't want to linger any longer than they had to for fear of tempting fate.

Harry was carrying Draco to the outer door, arms under the fair boy's armpits as he dragged him, when the door swung wide open and jolting him still. It was the straggly red haired man, filling the door with his large form. He didn't say a word, face half in shadow while he just stood there. There was something off about the man and Harry glared, trying to figure out his options.

He tightened his arms around Draco, deciding he could give this man a chance seeing he hadn't seemed interested in hurting Draco the way the sandy haired man had. “If you walk away now, I won't kill you,” Harry said blandly, letting the darkness fill inside him.

The man didn't say anything and Harry noticed that he wasn't breathing properly and blood was dripping wet down the man's face and neck. Harry did not want to drop Draco but he had a feeling whatever was happening with the man was going to need two hands to deal with. Harry was just starting to lower Draco to the ground, eyes fixed on the doorway, when the large man lurched forward, walking in halting jerks into the room.

Quickly backing up, Harry froze again as he caught sight of another figure following the man in. Swallowing, Harry stood taller, pulling Draco closer to his chest. The stranger was dressed all in black, tall and fit, a cloak swirling around his shoulders—Completely unremarkable in many ways, except somehow these clothes were also extremely fine and wealthy, the lines perfect, his black boots glowing in the dim light. His face was aristocratic, blue eyes sharp, long blond hair the color of Draco's as was many more of his features, which was the only reason why Harry was not immediately killing the clearly dangerous wizard before him.

Draco's father was powerful and Harry felt it as near a threat as he had when seeing the not so powerful sandy haired man touching Draco. But that power was not being directed at Harry, instead on the puppet of a man the straggly haired man had become, body too tight, beady eyes vacant and blood gushing down his face. The blond man shut the door behind him, walking with cat like grace as he moved around his prey and caught sight of Harry and Draco.

Revealing no emotion except a twitch to his lips to have found his son passed out in the arms of another boy in an apartment full of piles and dirt, Lucius glanced to the door where artificial light was streaming out. He strode silently across the room, Harry's heart pounding once he realized that Draco's father would see what he had done.

Harry would never be allowed to see Draco again. Hell, he might go to jail. Unless he left now before anyone knew who he was. Yeah, Draco might know that he was Harry Potter, but maybe the boy wouldn't tell since he had save him and all. Hands shaking, Harry lowered Draco carefully to the floor.

“I gotta go, Draco. Your dad's going to take care of you now. I... I hope you feel better... It was really nice to meet you.” Catching a final look at Draco's peaceful, sleeping face, Harry stood and made his way to the door. He paused, staring at the straggly haired man blocking the way. He was breathing strangely, standing sideways as if he was going to fall over at any moment. Harry edged carefully around him, feet brushing against a pile of newspapers and accidentally knocking them over. Swearing quietly, he quickly reached for the door.

The door wouldn't open no matter how hard Harry pulled or fiddled with the lock. He whirled, Draco's father stepping out from the other room and fixing eyes on him. The blond was very much a predator but without the sick twistedness of the sandy haired man. Regarding him silently for a long moment, the blond man looked away, moving to Draco and crouching.

“What happened here?”

Harry jumped, not expecting the man to speak. He edged to the side so he could see them better. Together there was no question if the man was Draco's father. Harry did not answer right away, not certain how much he should reveal. He had killed someone. At the time it had seemed very much like the right thing to do, so much so that he had been considering killing the straggly haired man as well just to be safe. But he was not certain that this man here would understand that—He was not certain anyone should understand such messed up logic.

“One of these men hit me over the head and brought us here,” Harry said, carefully choosing his words. “I woke up and that one wasn't here anymore. And the other one was... in the room there... with Draco.” Maybe he would assume the man was already dead? No one would normally think a kid could kill a grown man.

Lucius looked up, eyes piercing into his. Harry had a feeling very little got past this man. “Why is my son asleep? He is not waking.”

Biting his lip, Harry shifted from one foot to the other. “You, um, you shouldn't wake him. The man did something to him, and... well... I couldn't fix it.”

Face set in a grim frown, Lucius stood, holding his hand out for Harry to come closer. Glancing up at the still unmoving straggly haired man, Harry walked around him, keeping a good five feet between himself and Draco's father.

“What's your name?” Draco's father asked, his voice a low purr as his eyes accessed him warily.

Harry considered lying but figured Draco would likely tell his father his first name at the least. “It's Harry.” He narrowed his eyes, watching as the man stilled and glanced to where his hair hid his scar. Apparently Harry was a very rare name among wizards if everyone immediately assumed he was Harry Potter.

“Harry, I need you to understand that I am not going to hurt you,” the man said evenly, his eyes never leaving his. “I am here for my son and have no interest in anything else. You are not in trouble. Nothing you say is going to get you in trouble. I do not care about how things happened but I do need to know what happened. I need to... I need to know how to help Draco. I can't do that if I don't know what happened here.”

Harry nodded slowly, understanding that as a father this man would want to help his son—Because even though he was a powerful man, he was still a good father. Harry was glad Draco had a good dad. “I don't know everything. The other one hit me off the back of the head and I was knocked out.”

“But then you woke up,” Lucius pressed, his voice soothing.

“Yes. I woke up. And Draco was... was calling for help.”

“Did you help him? Did you try to go get help?” Lucius asked when Harry trailed off.

Biting his lip, Harry nodded. “I... I killed the man hurting Draco.”

Something shifted in the man before him, something that set Harry on edge, drawing his eye to the regal face and watching carefully to see if the blond was going to attack. But then the man calmed, jaw loosening, and nodded at Harry to continue. “What happened after the man was dead?”

This was somehow more difficult to speak, Harry's hand tangling in his hair as he glanced down at Draco's sleeping face. “He was... He said the man cursed him. That it made him... like...”

“The man had touched my son?” Lucius interrupted, his face completely blank of emotion but Harry sensed the anger frothing beneath.

“Yes... I don't know how much. He had... taken Draco's clothes. When I came in he had been... his fingers had been... inside him...”

Lucius held his hand up, his eyes closing a moment. “This is when you killed him. How did you kill him, Harry?”

Harry shrugged, shoving his hands in his pockets. “I don't know... sometimes I want things... things bigger than I ever usually want... Then the darkness comes, and it... it gives me what I want.”

“Do you want things a lot?” Lucius asked, and Harry wondered if he wanted to know if he had killed a lot of people.

“This was the first time I, uh, wanted that,” Harry said after a moment. “There have been other things, much smaller things... but never that.”

Nodding in understanding, Lucius pinched the bridge of his nose, releasing a slow breath. “And what happened after the man was dead?”

Harry sighed, wishing it had not come back to this again. “Draco was very—Damn it. The man did something to him. It made Draco want to... to touch me. And... and be touched back...” Harry pulled at his hair again, not meeting the man's eye.

“Alright, but he is asleep now,” Lucius said after a moment, his voice strangely low.

Harry nodded quickly, glancing back at the man. “I didn't want him to be like that anymore. That's not how—Draco's not like that. He's a good kid, so I let the darkness come and fix it. It, um, it put him to sleep.”

Lucius took a step towards him and Harry instinctively stepped back. Staring at the flinching boy, Lucius instead held his hand out again. “Harry, I need you to wake him up. You are very powerful. I don't think you understand just how powerful. I cannot wake Draco up.”

Harry bit his lip again, glancing down at Draco. “But... but he'll be... He won't be himself,” he whispered anxiously. “I don't know how to fix him.”

“That's alright, Harry. I know how to break curses. It takes a more complicated kind of magic that you won't know how to do until you're older. If you wake Draco up, I'll be able to fix him eventually.”

Swallowing, Harry hesitantly nodded. Draco's father would know more about these things, certainly more than he did. He just didn't want Draco to be scared, and so... feeling so out of control like he had when Harry had put him to sleep.

Harry slowly walked up to where Draco was lying, edging around Lucius and another pile of newspapers. He crouched over Draco, gently touching the boy's silky hair. Staring down, he let the darkness fill him again, empty and heavy inside. “Draco, I'm going to wake you up now. Don't... Try not to be afraid.” Lashes lowering, he leaned in, listening to Draco breathe evenly. Carefully he brushed his lips to the boy's, pulling away when Draco's breath changed.

Gray eyes regarded him intently and Harry wondered for a moment if the boy was himself. But then Draco gave a soft gasp and then a moan, his face flushing quickly. Harry slipped back when the boy's hands reached for him, standing and looking at Draco's father helplessly. “He, uh, he can't help himself. Don't think poorly of him for...” Draco gave another needy moan and Harry looked away.

“I understand,” Lucius said tightly, his eyes glued on his gasping son. Draco heard him, eyes widening as he looked up to find his father there.

“Father... I got lost...”

“It's alright, Draco. Your mother is fine, and I've come to bring you home,” he said swiftly, kneeling down and gently pinning the hands that had inadvertently reached for him. “Draco, I'm going to help you sleep. Until the spell can be removed, I'm going to have you sleep.”

Draco nodded, body rocking on the floor. “Okay... oh, oh no...” He closed his eyes, caught hands tightening into fists. “Feel so hot...”

“Hush, it's time to sleep.” One handed, Lucius reached for his pocket while holding Draco still, using his wand to spell the boy to sleep. Draco gave a soft murmur and then relaxed, his body losing the heated tension of earlier.

Harry gave a quiet sigh of relief when Draco was asleep again. The boy seemed almost tormented, the terrible spell cast on him turning him into some sort of sex slave puppet. It wasn't right. Draco was too sweet and it wasn't right.

“Harry, would you mind sitting with Draco while I clean up?” Lucius asked, standing again. Harry did not want to stay, afraid that Draco's father was still going to bring him to the police. But the door was locked and he really didn't have much of a choice. Unless he was going to kill the man and that seemed to be very wrong since he was Draco's dad.

Harry sat, eyes fixed on Draco's sleeping face while Lucius left to disappear into the other room. It was a long time, Lucius returning only to have the red straggly haired man to jerk and spasm behind into the room with Draco's father again. The door was shut, and everything became very silent and still, all light now gone from the room except for the digital clock on the mantel.

Harry could feel the power in the other room. It was very much the darkness, bringing fire that burned so hot even bone could not survive. Harry reached towards it, feeling it against his awakening senses, trying to remember exactly how it felt in case he ever needed to dispose of a body in the future. The power died down and he relaxed again, staring at Draco in the dark while waiting for his father to finish.

Lucius slowly opened the door, stepped out into the room and shutting the door behind him. His wand glowing light, he made his way to where Harry sat and Draco slept.

“Your family must be missing you, Harry.”

Harry shrugged silently, fingers still combing Draco's hair.

“Do they live near by? Maybe by Diagon Alley?”

Harry shook his head, finally raising his eyes to the man. “You're not going to tell, right? That's why you...” He tilted his head towards the room Lucius had left.

“I'm not going to tell. Are you going to tell?” Lucius asked, already fairly certain of the answer.

“Hell, no. My Aunt and Uncle wouldn't ever let me in the door again. They can't stand that I'm strange.” He sighed, pushing himself up to his feet. “I should be going, Sir. I'm glad—I'm glad he has a good dad like you.”

Lucius watched him walk to the door, Harry's hand on the handle that refused still to open. “Could you just...?” He asked, huffing in annoyance.

“Harry, what is your last name?”

Rolling his eyes, Harry moved his hair so the man could see his forehead and let him leave already. But Lucius still did not open the door, instead walking forward and bending down so he could see his scar clearly.

“Your family, they don't practice magic, do they?” Lucius asked, touching Harry's scar carefully. “Do they know what you are?”

Harry didn't move, not used to being touched. He stared at the man that looked so much like Draco but very much not the same. He looked more like if Draco were to grow up into a dangerous beast instead of the sweet boy he was. But Lucius didn't hurt Harry the way Dudley did when he touched him or Vernon for that matter. No, Draco's father was almost acting like Harry was a skittish cat, gently trying to pet him calm. And for some reason it was working.

“Harry, someone as special as you needs to be around people that understand him. Otherwise you could want something that could hurt others. Not even on purpose like tonight. Because tonight was on purpose.”

“Yes,” Harry agreed quietly, eyes trapped in the icy blue gaze before him. “I wanted to save Draco. And... I wanted to kill that man.”

“I am very glad that you wanted that, Harry. Because I wanted that too, and I was not here to do it.” Lucius let his fingers curl through Harry's messy locks, head tilted appraisingly. “Can you see how useful that is? Having someone around that could protect Draco while I'm not home? Someone who would like to play with him. Keep him from being so lonely.”

Harry's eyelids drooped but there was no magic trying to control him. Lucius felt safe—Strong, and powerful, and safe, and it made him feel calm. This man was not afraid of him. He had seen Harry do something terrible, and he had then done something just as terrible. That was why Draco wasn't afraid of Harry either. Because he had a father just like him.

“I like Draco, a lot,” Harry admitted.

“I can tell. I can also tell that he likes you, too... Maybe even more...” Lucius mused, thumb moving over Harry's scar again. “And we like to give Draco the things he likes... Right?”

“Right,” Harry echoed with a small smile.


“What? No, he's fine... I don't know. Video games, mostly...” Harry pulled the receiver away from his ear while trying to slip his sneaker on properly. “Stop yelling at me. Video games are a perfectly good way to pass time at any age—Shit, Draco, I have to get the door... No, for pizza.” Harry sighed, again pulling the phone away from his ear to dull the squawking of his friend. “I understand that you don't think muggle junkfood is a good idea. And as you are well aware, I don't care what you think. I'll talk to you later. Yup, yup, up yours too, mate.” Harry hung up with a sigh, pushing his foot down until his sneaker finally crammed home.

He left the kitchen, finding Sirius waiting in the living room doorway, staring at the front door down the hall. “You can get the door if you want, Sirius. You're not hiding here, and no one is trying to come after you.” Sirius didn't say anything, just looking at him oddly and then at the door again. Harry sighed, walking to the door, feeling the man following slowly behind him.

Harry opened the door, smiling welcomingly. “Hey man, thanks for driving out here. I know its a ways off.” Harry lived in the middle of nowhere like most wizards and witches but that hadn't stopped him from making sure he got muggle food delivered.

“Never a problem. You're the best tipper I got.” Jamal smiled brightly, unwrapping the padded cover that held the first of Harry's pizza boxes. “You throwing a party or something?”

“Nope, just wanted to try it all. Here, let me help you carry it from the car.” Harry stepped out, the late afternoon sun throwing long shadows over his hedges and expansive lawn. He had a landscaping company come by every other week to keep things tidy. He might be a slob, but he didn't want his parents' house to look like shit. Glancing into the backseat of the little delivery car, Harry wondered briefly if he had gone overboard, then brushed the thought away.

Mr. Black hadn't had pizza in forever, and when he had asked Harry what kind of toppings they had, the man unable to remember, Harry decided to just get them all. It was his favorite pizza place with fresh ingredients and unique combinations. He had ordered all twenty-five different specialty pizzas they offered and figured whatever they didn't eat they could eat tomorrow or the day after. Harry loved day old, cold pizza just as much as still warm, gooey pizza.

Hands full, Harry led Jamal into the hallway, Sirius edging away from the stranger and glaring suspiciously at him. Harry just raised an eyebrow at him, tilting his head for the man to follow. Jamal was his regular delivery guy, the only one willing to put his car through the extra millage to get to his house. He was a very friendly sort, full of quick smiles and stoner jokes and Harry did not want his new house guest upsetting him.

“Alright, I do believe that's all of it, Harry. Twenty-five pizzas, two liters of soda; orange and root beer, and one order of garlic sticks and one of cinnamon sticks... with extra dipping sauce.” Jamal checked through the list while counting off boxes. He then handed Harry the bill, Harry exchanging with cash. “Shit, man, you're going to be putting me through a doctorate if you're not careful,” he said cheerfully, tucking the money away.

Harry just smiled, having heard that particular one before. “Hungry, Jamal? There's no way we're going to eat all of this.”

Jamal tilted his head back and forth, weighing propriety verse the long, hungry drive back. “I could steal a slice of the bourbon chicken,” he said eventually, taking a seat at the kitchen table when Harry offered it.

“Sirius, come on, stop hovering in the doorway,” Harry chided, holding a box of pizza out towards the man. “Where do you want to start? Roasted veggies in marinara, or maybe garlic potatoes with white sauce?”

“Oh, you should definitely try the potato if you haven't yet,” Jamal said brightly, digging out the bourbon chicken and having a slice. “It's one of our most popular pies.”

Staring warily at the young man, Sirius sized Jamal up. He couldn't be much older than the weird kid, hardly anything much to look at. Maybe he was just really hung...? Sirius wasn't sure, but he really didn't like how Harry had just invited him in the house like that, feeding him and all. Course, Sirius had yet to see any pizza eaten in any of those movies Harry had stashed away, but then again, no one ever ordered more than one pizza, and Harry had paid the guy presumably a lot. Did you pay for the sex or for pizza...?

The phone rang, Sirius jumping from the unfamiliar sound. Harry slipped by him, pulling it off the hook and stepping outside the kitchen doorway. “Seriously, are you calling just to yell at me right now, Malfoy?”

Sirius edged further into the kitchen, pretending to look at the array of delicious smelling boxes and not the confusing delivery man. What the hell did Harry see in him? Pudgy, short, smiling... The brat could do better. Sirius growled, grabbing the nearest box and opening it.

“So how do you know Harry?” Jamal asked, eying the man curiously. He had only seen a few people at Harry's, most of them characters. The one he was yelling on the phone with was about as yuppie, blue-blood as you could get.

“I'm his godfather,” Sirius growled, fairly certain it was the truth after he had said it. Annoyed, he tore into a slice of fresh mozzarella and spinach, only to freeze, eyes closing from the intense, amazing flavor hitting his senses.

“It's good, huh?” Jamal said brightly, completely oblivious to the sudden glare sent his way.

“You're pissing me off—Unless you want to come down here and cook us a fucking meal... No, no, of course you're not going to do that, you arrogant... Right, right, I'm hanging up now... Son of a—” Harry returned to the kitchen and slammed the phone down. “My god, that boy nags,” he muttered, moving around Sirius to grab a slice of pizza. He paused, catching how Sirius was blatantly glaring at poor Jamal. “What are you guys talking about?”

Jamal stood, folding his slice of pizza in half. “Just meeting your godfather. I gotta get going. Thanks for the slice, Harry.” He held his non-pizza holding hand out, reaching for Sirius's. “Nice to meet you, Sir.” Sirius just stared at his hand, making no move to shake it.

“Excuse him,” Harry said with a sigh. “Sirius hasn't been around people for a long time.”

“Oh, like a mountain man,” Jamal said, not looking at all upset that Sirius was still glaring at him. Harry, on the other hand, was starting to get annoyed.

“Yeah, just like that,” Harry said, slapping Jamal on the back and leading him towards the front door. He glanced over his shoulder at Sirius, returning the glare sent their way. “Thanks for the pizza, man.”

“As always.” Harry waited till the man was in his car before shutting the door. Turning, he found Sirius standing in the hall.

“What? What's your problem, Black?” Harry asked, striding down the hall and glaring up at the man. “Jamal is a very nice guy who drives over forty-five minutes to deliver me food. Believe me, it is really hard to find restaurants that deliver all the way up here.”

Sirius didn't say anything, just stepped into the kitchen and started flipping open pizza boxes. Harry narrowed his eyes, debating if he really wanted to argue with the man. He hadn't actually heard Sirius say anything to the delivery boy, and Jamal had seemed perfectly fine on leaving. It was actually odd to know Sirius had told him he was his godfather. Harry hadn't thought much of it, having tried to separate from that fact when learning that Black had betrayed his parents. But that wasn't true, and now Harry had a godfather. A godfather that was glaring at his only pizza delivery man.

Maybe Sirius was just feeling territorial of the house, not wanting people coming in. Harry decided to let it go for now, but would make a point to watch Sirius like a hawk when anyone was in the house.

“How'd you do on that game?” Harry asked, watching with interest as Sirius took two different types of pizza and smooshed them together like a sandwich, then took a bite out of it. The man just could not eat properly.

Sirius shrugged, throwing himself in a chair, legs wide as he lounged carelessly. “Wasn't as fun alone.”

“Hmm... yeah, I guess not.” Staring at the pizza, Harry decided to try the sandwich move, throwing potato and barbecue chicken together. It was definitely a win. “Sweet,” he chirped, tearing off a bite and chewing as he got them some glasses and picked the soda off the ground. “So, we're probably going to have to eat and hide the rest of this before 6 p.m. Which is when Draco gets out of work, and is going to come down here and throw a tantrum about me feeding you junk food. If you could not mention the throwing up of the other day, I would really appreciate it. You do not want to encourage his nagging.”

Sirius huffed, crushing pizza boxes down as he leaned on the table with his elbows and finished chewing. “Your boyfriend?”

Harry blinked, nearly spilling the soda he was pouring. “Fuck, no. Draco is a very dear friend, I love him to death, and I would likely kill him if we ever spent more than an hour together. And if I didn't kill him, he'd kill me. When you meet him, you'll see. He's way too spic and span for my taste. Prat wastes half his day in the mirror.” Harry held up the soda, Sirius nodding towards the root beer.

Sirius again didn't say anything, just gulping down the drink as it was handed to him. Harry had never felt talkative before, but next to this man he was a goddamn chatterbox. He glanced over his glass, watching Sirius discreetly. He was still favoring his side, hunched slightly. Not to mention, the man's hair was a tangle, probably not brushed since the courthouse, and he was getting very bristly jawed. As nice a look as it was, Harry figured it couldn't go on too long. Hell, he was still in the same clothes.

“Your stuff is going to be delivered to the house hopefully within the week, but until then I think we're going to have to get you some things before then,” Harry said when the man looked his way again. “Off the top of my head, I'm going to say brush, toothbrush, razor, couple changes of clothes... Was there soap in your bathroom? If you can think of anything, I'll write a list and go shopping this evening.”

Looking at Harry a long moment, Sirius said gruffly, “Flea shampoo.”

Gaping, Harry put his pizza down and wiped his hands on his jeans. He stepped up behind the man, Sirius bristling slightly when Harry carefully examined his locks. “You sure? I don't see any...”

“I'm sure,” Sirius muttered, ducking his head down.

“Well, I'll add it to the list,” Harry said, absentmindedly combing the man's ponytail into some sort of order. “How's your side feel? Anymore blood?”

Glancing back his way, Sirius sighed and lifted his shirt, leaning to the side and revealing the stitched up wound. It looked fine enough, no red around the edges or anything. “I'll have to take those stitches out tomorrow or they're not going to want to come up after that. You don't happen to remember yet how you got hurt, do you?”

“I remember,” Sirius said flatly, stuffing another bite of pizza in his mouth right afterwards. Harry waited patiently, rolling his eyes when Sirius glared again at him.

“Well? What happened?”

“Got stabbed.”

Harry sighed, about ready to throttle the man. “Who stabbed you?” He pressed, trying to keep the frustration from his voice.

Sirius shrugged, looking for all the world like he was going to take another bite of pizza and refuse to answer. He paused, instead replying, “Red bearded fellow. Had glasses.”

Harry started, eyes widening as he recalled the people in the courtroom the other day. “You mean the auror?”

“Maybe... I didn't really ask him his life story.” Sirius bit into his pizza, done with the conversation. Frowning, Harry sat in a chair, glaring at the pizza that suddenly did not seem so appetizing.

“When? When did he stab you?” Harry asked, knowing the answer was going to decide how he handled the matter.

Sirius pointed to the hallway and Harry remembered that the bearded auror had been one of the three to bring Sirius into the house the other night. “Well, fuck,” Harry hissed, standing abruptly and grabbing the phone. He left a brief message on Remus's cell, having demanded the man join the modern world already. That someone had stepped into his house, stabbed his already terribly wronged godfather, and then walked away as if there would be no consequences infuriated Harry beyond belief.

“In my fucking home?” Harry muttered, hanging up the phone and pacing. “He came into my fucking home and stabbed you? Let me guess, while you were still chained up, right?” Sirius gave a brief nod, not looking disturbed at all about it. That was okay, Harry had enough anger for ten people. “I'm going to fucking ruin that shit. Walking into my home, committing an act of violence against a bound and innocent man—Fucking hell!”

Sirius looked around curiously as the room began to shake, eventually putting his pizza down when glasses started falling out of the cupboard and shattering to the floor. Harry just growled, spelling things clean while muttering under his breath. “Fucking goddamn piece of shit auror walking into my house—even after I told them to stay the fuck away, they weren't needed—and then stabbing my godfather, like some fucking crazy vigilante instead of an officer of the fucking law. Fucking—Motherfucking—I need a walk. I definitely need to get the fuck out of here and go for a walk.”

He got to the front door when he suddenly turned, returning to the kitchen in a huff. “Can I leave you alone?” Harry asked, looking for all the world as if he didn't know the answer. Sirius shrugged, not really knowing himself. So far he'd been much more calm than the weird kid had been.

Harry fidgeted from foot to foot, torn on what to do. “Fine, I'll be upstairs. Try not to—If you throw up, just aim for something easy to clean,” he muttered, whirling and stomping up the stairs. Sirius just unburied another box, trying the Hawaiian style pizza and smiling from the taste.