[a / b / c / d / e / f / g / gif / h / hr / k / m / o / p / r / s / t / u / v / vg / w / wg] [i / ic] [r9k] [cm / hm / y] [3 / adv / an / cgl / ck / co / diy / fa / fit / hc / int / jp / lit / mlp / mu / n / po / pol / sci / soc / sp / tg / toy / trv / tv / vp / x] [rs] [status / ? / @] [Settings] [Home]
Settings   Home
/qst/ - Quests

File: MQ32.jpg (158 KB, 1500x861)
158 KB
158 KB JPG
"You might be a smart girl, but you aren't a lucky one"

You play as Delilah, a young girl going through tough times.

Right now, however, we are taking another turn as playing Lawrence!

=Links and Information=


Thanks to an anon, here is the pastebin of just the text. With threads purposely being misarchived, this should be available and accessible instead:
Melancholic Quest Collection 1 (1-4): http://pastebin.com/hTK0fQmd
Melancholic Quest Collection 2: http://pastebin.com/cX4HC6Q9
Melancholic Quest Collection 3: http://pastebin.com/sTuR8xJv
Melancholic Quest Collection 4: http://pastebin.com/RPwa7nEt
Melancholic Quest Collection 5: http://pastebin.com/DJ71TtFc
Melancholic Quest Collection 6: http://pastebin.com/xxCdZfx6
Melancholic Quest Collection 7: http://pastebin.com/7skcyeX0

Quick Glance (SPOILERS) The quick Who is Who and what Delilah has. Mostly accurate.:


Twitter; @Cowboy_Sue
Discord; https://discord.gg/0107qV9kiFDlUH9nY
Chat room with me and other players. I answer questions, post sketches, and act cheeky.
You've done nothing wrong, yet it feels like you have to walk forward with caution. At the kitchen's archway you pause, listening in to their conversation first. Nothing serious and nothing about you, all John is talking about is getting the house ready for the storm. Of course he wouldn't be talking about you, not while knowing you were right here. Not that it would have been the first time that you'd walked in on a conversation about yourself, but now isn't the time for sour memories. With a quick wave to Thomas you move in to the living room to join the other two.

"...just worried about the pipes, y'know? Don't need them burstin' on us, just gotta make sure they're drippin' a bit before the cold settles in."

"Yeah, I know that pain. Had a cousin who lost his water for a week cause of that. But if that does happen, pretty sure some of Eric's boxes have water in them. Then again, if this damn place floods..." as Mabel speaks her hands rub together in an attempt to warm up, looking over from the couch as you come in. "Probably need to make sure the windows are sealed up tight, at least in the rooms we're going to be in."

"Y'all know where that draft is comin' from?"

"Yea-, wait you mean the one upstairs? Ho-"

"Hey there Law. Good job findin' them." John says with such a familiar tone that you almost forget how the previous conversation went. As much as you'd like things to be normal again, you have to stay on guard even now. A quick greeting before you point upstairs, listening to the occasional and soft steps from above. "Ah yeah, the girls are fine. Little one was startin' to get restless, so I sent her up. They been fine though, don't worry bout it."

"We're just talking about the storm. Started snowing earlier but it didn't last too long, not this time. We got some good stuff coming in though, should help seal this place up a bit better. Just wish we could get a heater going again, that'd be sweet. Guess it's better than out there though. God, I can't even imagine what it's like to try and stay warm out there like this." Mabel says, making sure her coat is zipped up completely. The chill in the house is worrying, but keeping one room decently warm shouldn't be too hard, or so you hope.

"Pretty hard to. Knew someone who ended up in the hospital, ended up losin' part of his toes. Course we aren't sure if that was from frostbite or trench foot...eh, either way. Gotta make sure those kids stay dry, best way to keep them warm in the meantime."
You can't help the twitch that runs through your hand, a pain that disappears just as quickly as it comes. It wasn't easy to hide this time, Mabel eyeing you with a questionable look.

"You alright there? Have been getting any rest? Man, you look ready to fall over sometimes, you know that? Gotta stop pushing yourself." she says, a mix of concern and scolding.

"Law's a hard worker. Always workin', even when he shouldn't. Course that's just how he is, a good guy. Ain't that right Law?" John doesn't look at you directly, and while he's got a sideways grin on his face there's hardly any warmth in his tone.

"You're a good man, aren't you Lawrence?"

Even if you did want to speak, the words wouldn't be able to come up right now. It feels like you've been exposed yet you have no idea for what crime.

If you didn't have anything tying you here, you might have ran away.

After all, it's easier for you to run from a problem than try to fix it.

You fuck up

"It's been rough for all of us," Mabel comes in an attempt to save the moment but it still feels like your throat is closing up, you can't even find the will or strength to move now. "Once that storm hits we should all be able to settle down, rest easy. Uh, as easy as we can but it's not like we can go anywhere. Maybe we can plan what to do after this place, and...and maybe Sam will be back! When he is, things will be a lot smoother, just watch. He was always good at this sorta thing- I mean, he is, he is good at this sort of thing." Instead of trying to say anything more Mabel bites her nail, trying to avoid the obvious. Sam had always been a straight forward man, never one to sneak around or try to hide secrets. Not that it ever needed to be said, but things felt smoother when someone acted in charge and that person was Sam. Nothing catastrophic has happened where he was needed, but with the way luck plays you can never be sure how long that will last.

It's a thought that you decide to bury away with busy work. Mabel has a similar idea, and the two of you get to work with the supplies. You try to take into account everything the group has so far, but your mind feels much too muddled for that. There's a lot you have to do, and sometimes it just feels too much for one man. Or rather, someone better than you should be handling this. But when there's not a lot of options around and someone is relying on you, there's not really a lot you can do.

Either you can try and risk failing, or don't bother and let people down early.

You're tired of being a failure.
But that's just what you're good at being, isn't it?


It doesn't take too much longer for the others to show up with their own heavy loads. It's a hassle helping everyone in and passing the boxes through discretely, but somehow everyone manages. Eric greets you cheerfully, as if he didn't just crawl through a window to break into a house. Snow has begun to fall again, light and feathery yet ever so dreadful. Near the window your breath clouds up in the air and all you can do is pray that it's not like that in the rest of the house.

"Hey, Lawrence!" Eric calls out, a generous pile of what looks almost like sleeping bags in his arms. "The girls have a place set up already, right? Think you could take these up? It's a little weird, but they're like, padding and insulation for moving stuff. Not really something someone would think to sleep on, but it'll help keep the heat in." You take them and notice their weight, now understanding why Eric wanted you to take them. No big deal, and you easily lug them up the steps.

With your overcrowded thoughts, you almost forget that Delilah and Lisa are up here. Almost, but gentle weeping makes you stop outside the nursery door. Through the sliver between door and frame, you listen inside.

"It's fine, it's fine..." Lisa repeats over and over, trying to keep her voice down. "You're okay. You're okay, see?"

"I'm sorry..." Delilah apologizes, sounding as if she had cried most of her tears earlier. "I'm s-so sorry..."

"Is okay. You're okay. Don't cry." The younger girl is trying her hardest to be comforting, mimicking what she's heard in these situations before. "Why are you sad? Are you cold? Hungry? I sometimes get sad when I'm hungry."

"Um, well...I'm s-sad because um..." You can just imagine Delilah fidgeting about right now, but it sounds as if she's going to continue talking.

>Go in now, pretend you weren't listening
>Go in now, comfort Delilah
>Stay out here and listen for a bit first
>Go downstairs, have Mabel go in the room
>Go in now, pretend you weren't listening
>Go in now, pretend you weren't listening
Hopefully saving her from having to try making something up. Comfort her if she's too out of it.
>Go in now, pretend you weren't listening
Taking only the briefest moment to gain your composure, you nudge the door open and walk in before Delilah can continue speaking.

"Ah! Law!" Lisa exclaims, startled by your sudden entry before stomping her foot in childish frustration. You try not to stare, but it's hard not to notice Delilah looking away as she tries to fix her face again. Setting the load down, you start to receive a chiding.

"You scared me! Meanie!" Lisa crosses her arms, copying the stance Jessica takes when scolding the boys. It's not hard to believe the notion that Delilah would have asked her to keep this a secret, to not run downstairs and grab someone. She already feels like a nuisance, and as much as you'd like to tell her otherwise it's not an easy thing to convince her. Best you can do now is pretend that you didn't know what was happening, it's obviously what she wants.

"Um, hey L-Lawrence..." Delilah sniffles, making sure the last of her tears are gone. "What're those?"

"Blankets? Are they blankets?" Before receiving an answer Lisa decides to take a plunge in the padding, burrowing away inside.
"Can I put them out?" she asks, head sticking out from between. "I wanna make a um...I wanna make a tho-...throne room!" With a wave of your hand you give Lisa permission, letting her try to drag the padding nearly too heavy for her. You should head down soon, but it's hard to resist the urge to go over and sit with Delilah. Just need to make sure that things are fine in here and that you won't feel bad for leaving her alone.

Delilah tries to smile as you join her, but it's weak and barely able to hang on.

"Is everything okay downstairs?" she asks, "There was a bunch of noise earlier."

You nod yes, even if it's not completely true. Then again, it looks as if the trouble is only for you.

"Oh, I guess everyone came back? Is that where you got those from?" she asks, pointing over to where Lisa is trying to keep the dog from messing up her perfect placement.

Another simple yes, and you look over her.

Eyes red and puffy, but they have been since earlier. Hair a flyaway mess, but that's the least of her concerns right now. Absentminded chewing on her lip, a nervous habit that she probably doesn't even notice, just like the fidgeting with her fingers. Still not good, but she's not curled up and wanting to die at least. As frustrating as it is, you have to remember baby steps. Baby steps, any progress forward is good, no matter how agonizingly slow it is.

"I um, I noticed it was snowing a bit earlier. And now that it's happening again, I guess there'll end up being a lot tonight, right?" Delilah asks, arms wrapping around her legs as she attempts to stay small and huddled up. "This room is a lot warmer than the other one. Well I mean, not a whole lot, it's still pretty cold but um...y-you know what I mean.." She trying to make things seem normal, but even with her facade it's obvious that she is still trying to recover from earlier.

"So the boys are here now, right? They're all downstairs?" she considers her next words for a bit, but can't hide her real concern in the next question. "I don't have to go down and see them yet, right? I don't know if I want to be around a bunch of people right now..."

You're fine. Take your time

"Thank you. I just want a little more time to um...c-calm down..."

Anything you need right now?

"N-...no, but will you stay in here for a bit? Just a little longer, if you aren't busy with something else I mean. Just for a couple minutes, if you want-"

"Yeah Law! Staaaaay!" Seemingly forgetting how upset she'd been earlier, Lisa looks out from her blanket fortress, slinking over and dragging them with.

"O-Only if he isn't busy-"

"Please stay!"

"But if there's something el-"

"Stay." Lisa sits up in front of you, Buttercup under one arm as she tries to assert her dominance.

"You can't make people stay, that's rude for a princess to do..."

"Just stay for um...for a bit! Tell a story, and you can go. Princess orders!"

"Um, I don't think you realize s-something..." Delilah sounds embarrassed by the other girl's pushiness, acting more as if she hadn't had a break down earlier. "Lawrence isn't really the um, the best person to uh..to tell a story. He's has to write stuff, remember?"

"Then I'll read it! Or um, reading is hard...you can be the smart princess, and read it for me!"

>Tell about one of your family's camping trips
>Tell about one of yours and Michele's trips to this city
>Tell about when you learned how to draw
>Apologize, but tell them you should return downstairs again
>Tell about one of your family's camping trips
Back when dad was... amicable.
>Tell about when you learned how to draw
Our family will remind her we are leaving
Michele will put us in a bad mood
Drawing is the best option
>Tell about one of your family's camping trips
A story about normalcy seems good
Rolled 2 (1d2)

1- Camping Trip

2- Drawing Story
It would be tough to leave them hanging, and so the notebook comes out and you hastily scribble down something to entertain the two. You may have written quick and shorthand, doing just the bare minimum to please her, but with each word the memory comes back to you clear as ever.

Omitting the gritty details, you begin to write about one of the times you were 'away'.


When you had arrived to the place you would spend the next few years, you hardly had the will to keep going. Maybe the actual thought of suicide wasn't there yet, you were much too scared to go through with something like that. That didn't mean you weren't apathetic enough to let yourself waste away instead. Too much was happening at once, and it was way too heavy a burden for you to carry alone. When you weren't wanting to just stare at the wall for hours you felt angry, and despite just coming out of the hospital you were part of too many scuffles.

Then again, they saw you as an easy target. The new guy, younger than the others and unaware of any of the yard 'rules'. You found yourself either the unknowing transgressor of one of these unwritten rules or, probably more often, just the victim to someone's vicious boredom. Learning nothing from the fight with Charlie, your short wick anger got the better of you too often and you would go to sleep that night nursing new and old injuries alike. It may not have been too bad if you'd learn to join a group, but that was a seemingly impossible task. Closing yourself away from the world, you weren't willing to try to open up to anyone and few were willing to accept you. There had been times when you tried to keep the peace, sick of being the one bleeding on the ground. Your unwilling silence was seen as being stubborn too often, even when you tried to show that you couldn't talk.

"You'll cry when your ass is getting beat, but you can't even manage an 'excuse me'? Bullshit."

"Think that acting cocky will help you out here?"

"Tryna act like tough shit just wants to make me knock yer damn teeth in even more ya know."

Even if you could have talked, you doubt it would have helped. They didn't care that you were mute, they just needed a reason to justify getting their anger out. If you had stayed there any longer, you'd probably would have became like them. You almost earned yourself more time, almost cemented your place there. A black eye and a tearful visit from your mother that ended with her blaming herself for her children's plight, your father hadn't shown up for the visit once again. All the resentment you held was boiling up inside, fueling every move you made as you gathered and hid away supplies. These bastards here didn't like to fight fair, you'd be able to defend yourself if it was just one guy. But just like that night you lost your voice, they have to fight in groups. They have to band together to tear down a man already on the ground, and you weren't going to take it anymore.

If they had numbers, you were going to have a weapon.

You were already in prison, what would a few more years be?
At least they wouldn't mess with you anymore, at least they would leave you alone so you could just wallow in your own pity instead.
You'd take out all the anger you held, even if it meant doing worse than crippling a man.

"One of the guards see you doing that, they're going to end up frisking all of us." You'd been so caught up in your ugly thoughts that you jumped at the man's voice. An older man, one you'd seen around before but never really interacted with. He kept to himself and with his own small group, never causing trouble for anyone. All that you really knew about him was that he had been years already, and still had years to go.

"Finally tired of being on the underdog?" He walked over, and though you tried to prepare the man slipped the shiv from your hand easily and inspected it. "You know, if this is your first one it's pretty good. Be able to take down Dovel with this, I know that pussy loves sneaking up on you. But, if I were you, I'd say forget about doing this. You're only here for, what was your sentence? Like six years maximum? Seven? Wouldn't really want that doubled, trust me. I know you're sick of it, but think about it this way. Would you rather get roughed up sometimes for five years, or always looking over your shoulder for ten?"

"What's up boy? Really can't talk, or just mad that I took this away? Look, here I'll give it back if you really want."
Having someone act kind in this place was a new feeling, and you were expecting him to show it as all being a ruse. But instead the man sat next to you, unafraid even as he watched you craft the weapon.

"Really, you know what you should be carrying around? A notebook, make it a helluva lot easier for people to understand you. Eh, maybe except for those Asian guys, but they'd probably understand what you were wanting if you drew them a picture. Help with some of those dumb asses who thought dropping out of school early was a good idea too. You ever do art stuff before uh, you're name is Lar-...Lawrence, yeah? Well listen man, you ever get bored and decide that you want to try to get out early on good behavior just come find me. Not a whole lot I know how to do, but if you want to learn how to make stuff I'm your guy. And I mean good stuff, stuff you don't got to worry about getting you in trouble. Been trying to be on my best behavior so they'll finally let me have some leather tools, used to make wallets all the time in the last place I was at. Stop over by my place tonight if you want to see how we give tattoos here. Gonna work on Luis's, you've seen it yeah? That one on his back? That's my work, going to finally get the line work done. Well, anyways. Hate to see someone young like you get caught up in this sorta shit, but I can't stop you. Do what you want, but think about it for me, alright? I'll get going now."

Either his words got to you or the conversation made your momentum lose steam, but try as you might you couldn't finish the weapon. You ended up tossing it away, scared out of your wits that someone would find it and know what you were planning. It was a slow process, but as the weeks and months began to pass you started to learn from him. The fights didn't stop, but seeing that you didn't stand alone anymore they began to slow down considerably. When your anger issues became apparent he began to help you learn how to cope, how to not act immediately on your irrational thoughts. It took time, a frustrating process, but once you started to get the hang of it things seemed to be getting clearer. It felt like, even if you had spent time behind bars, that you could still be a good man. The pain you had when you first entered remain, but you kept trying to find ways to deal with it, better and safer.

That man, Owen, had a much longer sentence than you yet he didn't allow it to rot his core. He had standards and morals, and no matter how tough it got he kept them. Never would you want to admit it, but he was someone you admired and wanted to strive to be. You kept moving forward, getting lessons on drawing while also learning to be a better man.

You nearly lost all of that when you found him on the cafeteria floor with a knife buried in his throat and the inmate responsible with the blood on his hands.

But you don't tell the girls any of that. You only write about the lessons he gave you, how you kept getting discouraged in the beginning, about the elementary level supplies Owen used to create breath taking work, and even about the first time you helped him with Luis's tattoo. It's only the good and happy parts you tell them, even if they are only a small part of the whole story.


Finished, you tear out and hand over the pages with bitterness rising in your throat.

"Thanks...sorry you had to do that." Delilah says, looking over the messy handwriting as soon as she accepts it.

"Read it read it read it!" Lisa chants, quieting down only on the condition that she sit still and behave while Delilah reads. Rather than a hug you leave Delilah with a quick ruffle of her hair, adding to the bedhead and a pink cheek face trying to hide her bashfulness to it all. Leaving the nursery door open a crack, you head downstairs once again in help with unpacking.


It's good to see the kids all together again, back to annoying each other as before while they sort out the boxes. Canned food and boxes rest on the counter, making a long line across.

"Pretty great, isn't it?" Eric asks, a bounce in his step as he shows you the provisions. "I know it won't last us forever, but should be enough stocked up for a while. We're going to try and get something cooked up in a bit, best that we can anyways. Tried to get us a variety of stuff too, that way we don't end up eating peas for two weeks straight. Again."

"I hope this means you didn't get any of those-" Aria stops as she spots one of the dreaded and all too familiar cans. "Dammit..."

"John will have to take a look at all this later," Eric says just quietly enough to keep his words in the kitchen, "He wanted to come in here and help, but I heard about what happened. Just told him to keep put, but you should have seen the look on his face. Felt like I kicked him or something, but I guess he's not feeling too useful right now. Can't always be working though, that's what I told him. Don't think that really helped but eh..."

[5/6 opps]
You wish you could stay as optimistic as Eric, but at the same time you know that same blind trust keeps him from seeing how bad things can go and in turn can't prepare for them, unlike you.
Not that you wouldn't like to feel confident in things going your way and staying on course.

Eric is also a man with a future and goals, but what about you? There's hardly anything you have to claim, so what right do you have to look down on him at all?

"I'm taking a breather!" Mabel announces, collapsing into a chair. "Carrying this crap over was exhausting enough, and now this is taking forever."

"I don't mind. Better than not having anything to unpack." Aria says.

"Getting it all here was the important thing anyways. Sorry you all had to carry it so far," Eric apologizes, looking up from his box. "I didn't know what to do. Wanted to make sure we brought as much as we could, but I didn't realize how difficult that could have been."

"Eh, it's fine. Too bad none of these have beer in the-"

"Mabel! Not in front of the kids!"

"What? They know what beer is, don't ya?"

Their banter continues, the boys backing up Mabel as Marilyn takes her girlfriend's side instead, Eric just in the middle of all it awkwardly. It reminds you of your family, especially the memory of the last camping trip you guys took-

You bury the thought, not wanting to bring up any more unsavory memories today. Despite trying not to, you can't help but feel guilty. Before, you'd leave and do what you want without telling the group. There would be some days where you weren't sure if you would come back, and you didn't want to make them worry, you weren't worth the trouble. You kept your life previously secret, not wanting to go in to details about it, and while you have let them know that you had been a convict at some point you kept the severity of your actions a secret. If they knew about what you've done to other people in the past, if they knew what you did to Roger -a man who'd been part of your own group for God's sake-, they wouldn't feel safe around you any more. But now you'd feel guilty about just coming and going like you had in the past.

>Tell the group you plan on leaving for your parents after the storm, you owe them that much.

>Don't tell the group where you're going. Take it as an incentive to hurry back quicker so they don't wonder where you are

>Tell the group you plan on leaving for your parents after the storm, you owe them that much.
Best they know, keep them from thinking we just up and walked out on everything. For Delilah's sake.
>>Tell the group you plan on leaving for your parents after the storm, you owe them that much.
You have to break the habit of keeping too many secrets at once. One day you won't be able to keep it all straight, and the only questions will why you did it and what are you hiding. Getting it out in the open will only further cement your commitment. You won't have to worry about them thinking that the pressure of taking care of Delilah is too much,that you bailed out on her.

Quickly, before you lose the confidence to, you write out your plan to be read, passing it over to Eric.

"Huh, what's this..." Eric's eyes scan briefly over the note, stopping when he sees what you want him to do. "Ah, alright. So Lawrence wants me to announce this for him..."

This is the right thing for you to do, remember that.

"Let's see, guess I'll just read this word for word."

As usual, hearing your words read out brings a shake to your hands, as you always got when presented to a crowd.

"I really hope this won't be a bother, but once the snow clears up I'm probably going to have to leave for a few days. I need to go over to Red Hill and talk to family. I'm not sure how long I'll be gone, but will do my best to come back soon," Eric finishes, sounding not upset but surprised by the news. "Red Hill? That's uh, about 40 minutes away right? Heard people talk about it but never visited myself. Small place ain't it?"

"Not too much over there but a couple churches and like, what? A Target or something? Used to go over there sometimes to pick up one of my cousins, you from there?"

Born and raised

"Ah, wasn't trying to insult it or nothing. Just a little slow paced for me, ya know?"
Something you could easily agree on.

"Nice of you to finally tell us what you go out and do," Aria says, "Sometimes you go out for smokes and it takes you a week! Okay well maybe only that long once, but if Mabel ever just went off and disappeared for the day I don't know what I'd do."

"You'd miss me." Mabel brags, shooting her a smug look. "Even when you get ticked off, I know you'd go crazy if your amazing girlfriend vanished."

"Keep up that attitude and I'll make sure you go missing."

Prepared for backlash of some sorts, you're surprised to see that the mood remains cheerful. The kids are arguing over who'd have to eat the sardines first while Mabel tries to get an admittance of her greatness. You had expected reproach for leaving, doubt over the good intentions of your visit. Instead you get Marilyn tugging on your sleeve and begging for attention.

"You're going alone right? Will you be fine?"

Will he be fine there? He'll be all alone! My baby can't handle being alone! The last thing Mom said before you got on the prison bus rings in your ears, and you can barely manage a stiff nod for Marilyn.

"See? I told you he'd be fine!" Marilyn says as she stomps back over to the boys. "You're the ones who'd be all scared to travel alone!" The boys try to attest to their own courage, and you slump back in the chair. Not everything you do is awful terrible, the only one that feels weird about it is you.

"So uh, if you don't mind me asking," Eric asks, moving aside to keep the conversation down. "You going to see your folks there?"

There's hesitation, but you nod.

"Ah, that's good. Sorry, I'm just being nosy right now but I uh, my mama don't know that I haven't been living ideally, don't think I'd ever want to tell her though. But what about your parents? Do they know of your uh, living situation?"

You can't help but scoff at the question, a grin on your face as you shake your head.
Hell no, they don't know.

"Pretty rough huh? Well, I guess there's a reason why you need to head back. I understand, but I guess I wanted to say thanks. Sometimes it feels like you keep this stuff to yourself, but we worry about you man. We really do. Take your time with the visit, I'm sure we can manage a few days without you." Even though he means well, you didn't want to hear that. It'll make it even harder to tear yourself away after your mother inevitably begs you to stay. As much as you don't want to admit it, there's going to be a choice you have to make. Either your family or Delilah, you can't stick with both. As far as you're concerned, you already know your decision.

No matter how much your mother cries and begs, you have to return here.

You aren't ready for that goddamn heartbreak, but it's going to happen.


The rest of the supplies get sorted and accounted for, and despite how it looks you remind yourself that it really isn't all that much. Mabel heads upstairs on one point, checking on Delilah and reporting back, sharing her fear of being around the boys.

"She was trying to promise that she'll be fine again tomorrow, but we should try to keep them all separated," Mabel says from the couch, sitting with you as you peer out of the living room blinds. In the kitchen John is trying to direct the cooking, insisting that he was fine enough to hobble over on his own. Hard as it was to watch, he somehow managed it enough. You can hardly pay attention to any of it though, your attention drawn to the idling car across the street. That same damn one as before, and for nearly twenty minutes now you've watched smoke trail behind it and no one entering or leaving. All it has done is sat there, and as far as you can tell there's only ever one man. Usually he would have drove off by now, but he remains for some reason.

What the hell does he want? Does he even live in this neighborhood? You doubt it's the owners of this place, yet you can't explain this behavior.

Just leave, just fucking leave already. All the car does is sit there, yet it drives you fucking mad.

"Hey, are you listening to me?" Mabel nudges your leg and you jump away from the window, forgetting that she was trying to hold a conversation.

"I said, we should probably bring her dinner upstairs. Aria would probably eat with her, Lisa too. Maybe Lyn too...might be good for her to just hang out around girls for a bit, right? Help ease her back around people again."
You obviously care about Delilah feeling better, but all you can muster is a weary nod.

"Jesus man, you really need a break. The way your constantly looking out that damn thing, it's like you're-" Mabel stops her words, grimacing at what she considered saying. "Look, it's not healthy. Some point you're going to end up collapsing on your feet, and do you really expect any of us to drag you somewhere? We'd have to just let you sleep there man!" She's trying to cover up the poor choice of words she almost said but the implication strikes you all the same.

"Um, sooo..." Her mouth twists up as she tries to bear through the awkwardness that she brought, "Pretty dark outside already. It's only like, five though right? Imagine how dark it'll get in a few more hours. Did you see any snow?" It had slowed to a stop for the time being, and you let her know this.

"Maybe it won't hit too hard then, that'd be nice right?" Before she can try to carry the conversation on any longer Aria calls for her hand in the kitchen, leaving you to look for the car again. The spot where it had been resting is empty now, and while you should consider it a blessing you scan for it up and down the street. Waiting to see if it appears again is absolutely nerve racking, your fingers itching for your cigarettes in reflex to deal with the stress.

Five minutes later, Aria balances bowls in her arms with Marilyn quick behind in tow. "Just going to eat dinner with the girls." she announces on her way up, footsteps soon creaking above you. Even if it's not snowing it's absolutely freezing and you do your best to ignore the faint cloud of breath in front of you. What you wouldn't give for a working heater again...

"Psst, Law." Supporting himself at the kitchen doorway, John leans against the wall as he beckons you over. A knot forming in your throat, you swallow it as you try to not think about what he could want now. Before you even come up, he's got the worn-out cigarette box in hand, flashing it to you. "Figured now would be an alright time. Boys here are going to finish making our food, and we can be back before they're even done. How about it?"
"Whoa whoa whoa, what are you two doing?" Mabel asks, approaching from behind. "You aren't trying to go anywhere, are you?"

"Just out for a smoke, missy."

"For real? Just smoke in the kitchen! Are you trying to tell me you're gonna haul that bum leg of yours through the window just to smoke? What's Aria going to do, scold you?"

"Ah but it's, well here take a look." Flipping open the carton, John lets her sniff inside and see that it's not just tobacco he has.

"Where did you...? Augh, fine. Go out and do it, but you owe me some later, got it? I'll try and keep Aria and Eric from snooping around too much."

"Greatly appreciated missy. Won't be too long, just gonna hang out in the alley down a bit."

"Just hurry. And don't you dare breathe a word of this to my girlfriend." With Mabel turning a blind eye, you lead the way out without even agreeing to it. Saying no feels like too volatile of an answer, but as you help John out of the window you can't help but hope that his mood towards you has simmered down.

"Jesus, let's hurry. Rather not freeze my ass out here." John speaks as if he's performing a chore now, trying to hide his grunts of pain as he moves forward. The dark helps hide his heavy movements, and getting out to the gate is an easy task. Now you're alone with him and unprepared, despite John insisting it's just for a smoke. "Let's move down across the street, wouldn't be good if we hung around here. Gimme twenty minutes and then we can head back in, sound good?" The will to say no is missing again, and within a few minutes your standing with John along a wooden fence a couple houses down, hanging around a dumpster as John lights his joint.

"Damn. Really needed this, y'know?" Taking a deep drag, the thick smoke drifts out into the freezing air. The streetlamp on the corner illuminates the alley just enough, the cherry glowing a brighter red as John takes another hit. "Bet you could use some of this too. Looks like you took care of them missing stitches of yours, eh? Can't imagine that feeling too right." The smoldering joint rests in his fingers, not even looking over as he offers it to you.

>Accept it, ask him why he's been in a poor mood around you

>Accept it, don't try to say anything and get this over with

>Decline it, just try to get this over with

>Decline it, ask him if there's something you did wrong

>Accept it, ask him why he's been in a poor mood around you
>Accept it, ask him why he's been in a poor mood around you

Maybe phrase it a little less bluntly
>Decline it, ask him if there's something you did wrong
You accept the offering, watching the bright red grow dull only to regain its luster when the reefer fills your lungs. Taking the time to let it set in, your head begins to feel light as you take in another deep lungful. This might be your best chance to confront John, and letting it slip by would be a stupid choice on your part.

"Bit stale, tastes awful going down. Sorry bout that, but it's easier to carry them around already wrapped up like that." John rests against the fence, leaning his weight against it and off his leg. "Warms ya up a bit, not like a hard drink does but still feels nice. Course, be really great if I could enjoy this in the comfort of a room but can't really be picky." The joint continues to pass between the two of you, slowly smoldering down as its effects take hold. The worry is still there, but the impending feeling has begun to fade. He hasn't said much else during this time, merely commenting and complaining about the cold, coughing and wishing he had something to drink when the smoke hits too hard.

The smoke seeps out from between your lips, trying to savor what will be your last hit for tonight. You don't need to get too carried away, only taking just enough to make your pains numb away and calm your nerves. Handing over what remains of the joint you let John know that you're done with it, reaching for your notebook. It's difficult to write in the dim light, your constantly shifting and hazy thoughts not making it any easier. You choose the words carefully, knowing that even suggesting the wrong tone could end up starting something you wouldn't be ready to handle.

"It was pretty lucky today, you know that?" John's words make you glance over, watching as he releases a clouded breath. "Could have had Bunny shut down completely again, or had her hollerin' and screamin' the whole time. She let you go near her though, right? Was surprised by that, well maybe I would've been if it had been any other guy. That girl absolutely adores you Law. But I guess that makes sense, you brought her to the group. Must've been a hell of a situation for you to do that, don't think you've ever told us the story of what happened."

And you sure as hell don't want to. As much as you try to justify it, that you try to tell yourself it was the only solution, admitting that you beat a woman is yet another bit of guilt you'd have to carry.

"It's good that she has all that trust in you though. Easy to feel like no one in the world cares when you're a vict-...survivor. Pfft...half the time it feels less like 'surviving' and more like a constant fuckin' struggle..." John trails off, stopping himself from going on whatever tangent it might have been. You haven't recalled anyone in the group who'd gone through the same thing as Delilah, but the way he talks about it makes you think that he's dealt with someone like that in the past.

"Gonna be some days where it feels like she's moving forward, takin' the steps she needs. Then maybe someone says something wrong or brushes up against her, hell consider yourself fuckin' lucky if you know what happened, and then it feels like you've moved back to square one. Doesn't matter how far you've come or how much you think you've gotten better, one minute you think you're finally doin' good and the next it's like the whole world is just...just fuckin' crumbling at your feet. But maybe she sees you as a hand to pull her outta of that, make her feel like she's not in an uphill battle all alone. And that's great, she hasn't lost the ability to trust others completely yet. Gets hard when that happens and sometimes, well...sometimes you can't just come back from that." John stops to pull out the lighter, igniting the lifeless joint once more. "It's good that you've been so willin' to take on that task of helpin' her."

If he says that it's good, then why the hell has John made you feel like a suspect. He makes it sound like you've been doing right yet you're still awaiting a scolding. You consider rewriting your words, but if you do that then you'll lose the courage to talk to him.

I don't want you to take this the wrong way, but you've been acting a bit off today. Is there something I did wrong? I don't want to step on anyone's toes, but it feels like I've done something to upset you

John takes his time reading the page, smoking away as his eyes scan over the lines.

"You've been a big help Law. Ain't a lot for me to get at you."

You didn't want to hear that you've offended John, but the admittance of your innocence only makes your head spin. If you've done nothing wrong then John shouldn't be acting the way he does. The constant flip flopping, the cold shoulder and dirty looks, you've been enduring it for nothing? That sure as hell doesn't make any sense, and you aren't just going to accept it as an answer.
Is there something that's bothering you then? There's been times recently where it seems like something is getting on your nerves

"Just a bit cranky from bein' so sore. Ever dealt with a bullet inside ya? Not a fun experience."

Bullshit it's just that. There's a reason why you're the only one getting the short end of the stick, the only one having to deal with John's cynical behavior. You want to know, and him not saying is only further driving you up the wall.

"What did...I do?" Not even bothering with writing, you feel at the end of your rope now. John looks at you in surprise, but you continue to force the cloudy words out. "I'm sorry. Please tell...me. John...what did...I do?" It feels pathetic begging like this, but you can't stand it. You can't stand the sneaking around, the feeling that you're the bad guy in all this. And for a moment you're worried that John isn't going to answer, only getting the sight of him finishing his smoke.

"...You're a good guy, Law."

"Must have...done something."

You're just doin' what you think is right, ain't nothin' wrong with that is there?" His words are becoming harsh once again, a crack forming in your hidden transgression.

"John. Tell me. You're my...friend. Please...tell me."

"You've been doin' a good job. Lotta others would have probably abandoned that girl, but you've been stickin' by her. Doin' what you can to help her. Never dealt with somethin' like this before, have you? Not that there's a whole lot you can do to prepare for it, but you're tryin' your best. She trusts you so much. Delilah...that's her actual name, yeah? Sees you as some sort of knight in armor, not that I can blame her. Devotion ain't always a good thing though, could lead her into some ugly situations again."

"What are...you getting...at?"

"Nothin' nothin'. Just that..." A grimace and a sigh, John takes a deep breath and steps away from the fence. "You're tryin' to do the best you can, but we're human. We make mistakes, and Law...Law you're not an exception to that. You wanna help Delilah, and that's fine. But you're a man that's made mistakes in the past, and so am I. Just don't wanna see that girl through anymore pain, I'm sure we can both agree that she's been through enough of that."

"So have...done wrong."

"Not on purpose, I'm sure. But, and I hate to say this, you've always struck me as being a rather lonely guy. Not that it's your fault, just that could lead to some bad decisions. And if you add some girl constantly on your heels, desperate to keep you around..."

Your fist curls up before you fully realize what John is trying to say, but the blow of his implications hits your chest hard. John is refusing to look at you, knowing damn well that his accusation is a heavy one.

"I'm not tryna say that you've actually done anythin', and she seems pretty happy around you. Doesn't mean it's the best thing for her, even if she thinks so. You need to-..." It's hard for John to talk about and his words trail off again, but already your temper is beginning to flare up.

Even when you try your dammed hardest, it's not good enough.
All you're trying to do is keep Delilah safe and happy, but apparently that's wrong too.
You aren't trusted enough to not take advantage of her, even if John says otherwise.

>Stand your ground. You've done nothing wrong, and you're tired of people thinking that you have

>Ignore all this. If John thinks that way of you, there's probably not a lot you can do to change his mind

>Walk away. Better for you to take a walk and try to calm down before trying to do anything
>Ignore all this. If John thinks that way of you, there's probably not a lot you can do to change his mind
Damned... if do. Damned... if don't.

Classic game. Walk away and it's an admission of guilt. Confront him and it's an admission of guilt.

... stay quiet, and it's an admission of guilt.
Rolled 24 (1d100)

Magic write-in: Talk this out and reach a common ground
Rolled 34 (1d100)

Fucked up the format (spent too much time at roll20)
>>Ignore all this. If John thinks that way of you, there's probably not a lot you can do to change his mind

Open mouth and ready to speak, you're unable to find any words. Instead you shut up, pulling out a cigarette to occupy your time instead. Your unable to hold the flame steady, the lighter shaking just as much as your hand does as you attempt to light up.

Just head back now, there's nothing more you can say.
In fact, it would be for the best if you two never spoke of this again.

"Not even gonna try to defend yourself?" The filter ends up crushed as you grit your teeth at John's words.

"...what am...I supposed...to say?" Don't look at him and maybe you'll be able to keep yourself in check. You need to, even if it's pissing you off this is still John.

"Hell if I'm supposed to know. Figured you'd try to at least defend yourself, y'know? Not just lay on the ground and take it." The hostility is starting to return to his words, each one becoming more toxic than the last.

"Have nothing...to say."

"Really? Nothin' at all? Just gonna head back and pretend this conversation didn't happen?" John stays behind you, and your damn hands won't stay steady enough for the lighter. "Didn't really expect that of you."

"Don't want...to argue...with you."

"This isn't about me though, and you know that. This is about you thinkin' it's alright to get all close with that girl like that." The lighter fumbles out of your hand, resting in the cold and wet ground, stray snowflakes clinging and melting to the plastic. You don't pick it up, your whole body turned stiff by his words. When movement finally returns you can only turn back to stare at John, the unlit cigarette still pinched between teeth.

"Like what?" This time it's your turn to return the bitterness, the instability from earlier hardening into clutched hands.

"You know damn well what I'm talkin' about."

"Say it."

"It's good and all that you're there for her, but do you really think that sleepin' next to her like that is a good thing? Maybe she's the one that suggested it, whatever. But that poor girl already thinks the world is out to get her, let her get too comfortable like that and she'll end up running with the wrong ideas. And frankly, if I'd seen some other man doin' that I wouldn't hesitate to knock his teeth in right then and there. But I know you Lawrence, wanted to give you a chance. Couldn't see you bein' one of those kinda guys and I still can't. But Lord knows I've been wrong before."

"Why you...sneak around...?" It's the only question you can manage right now, doing your best to sound calm.

"Needed to come get you. Saw some car mullin' around outside and didn't want to spook anyone in case it was nothin'. Figured one trip up the stairs woulda been fine, have had you helped back down. Didn't really expect to walk in on the two of you like that."

"She wanted...be there. Let her...nothing happened."

"Maybe not this time. But it's hard to keep quiet when the two of you are constantly alone. Not tryin' to accuse you of sneakin' around-"

"Sounds like...you are."

"Well maybe next time you disappear off with her, don't come back reeking like fucking alcohol. Cause maybe you wouldn't do anythin' now, but what about after hittin' the bottle? And don't say you'll stop drinking, we both know that's a lie." John's glare cuts into you deep and you find your breathing coming out uneven.

"Not going...hurt her. Drop it. Head back." You pick up the fallen lighter, once again working on the nearly flattened cigarette as you try to head towards the house.

"Don't try to blow this off like it's nothin-"

"It is." The only reason you stop walking it the hand gripping at your shoudler.

"It's not fuckin' nothing." John says, right up behind you. A trail of smoke travels up from between your lips, but even putting the lighter away feels like a dangerous move.

"Just want...to help. Only done...what she's...want. Nothing more."

"You think she's always gonna ask for the right thing? What're you gonna do if she asks the wrong thing, follow through?"

As much as you'd like to say you wouldn't, it'd just be a lie. You've fucked up already but you can't dare say that to him.

"Will do...what's right...for Delilah."

"And you think that you know what that is? Do you really think you can handle this? Or that you won't slip up one day and make a stupid mistake? Or fuck, maybe you really don't see how serious this is. That why you wouldn't try to defend yourself? Cause you think all this is okay, just cause she says so? Thought you were better than that, I really did." You thought you were aggro, but never have you received such a hateful look from John. The hand not holding on to you starts to curl up, a tremor traveling through his body.

"John, please...calm down."

"I'm not gonna let this slide. If that girl ends up fucked up cause of something I coulda stopped..." John's anger is coming from somewhere deep down, somewhere you can't quite understand.

You didn't want it to come to this, but the fire in his eyes tells you that whatever happens won't be pretty.

>Try to protect yourself, but let John get some steam out

>You can take any hit John gives, take them on the chin and let him get his anger out

>You haven't done anything wrong and you're not going to just take this. Try to control yourself, but you'll give him a fight if he wants one

>You can take any hit John gives, take them on the chin and let him get his anger out
Do what... gotta do. Maybe... feel better. Just say... slipped... on ice.

Won't be... first time... get hurt... for her. No tell... about this. Friends fight... no good.

Don't think... not angry. Want to... squeeze life... from them... slowly. Overflowing. Can't let... her see. Solve nothing. Frustrating. More angry. Vicious cycle.
See, I feel like saying this is good, and I want to let John vent on us too, but he has military training, a gun, and possibly a knife. Supporting this anyways. Let's try not to break him/get broken

Removing the cigarette, you extinguish it early and slip it back into the case and away in your pocket.

"John..." Deep breath to calm yourself down. You're not mad, you're not angry, and you're in control.
"Do what...you nee-" It was smart to turn with your right cheek. The other direction and John's knuckles might have pulled out your new stitches. Despite trying to prepare for this the jab at your face knocks the breathe out of you, feet stumbling back on the slushy ground. Fighting the instinct to touch the swelling bump you only cover the left cheek instead, an attempt to keep it guarded for what might still come.

John looks as if he's still trying to register what just happened himself, arm pulling back from the swing as he watches your every move.

"Well?" he asks, readjusting his stance. "What about now? Are you gonna say anythin'? C'mon, I know you can."

You're trying to gain your breath again but the wait is too long for John. In an instant his hand pulls on the collar of your coat, forcing you down to eye level with him and squeezing the air out of you again.

"Don't ignore me. This isn't somethin' we're just walkin' away from now."

"Don't want...to fight-"

"You already made that happen."

"Do what...you need." The hold on you tightens and you're jerked down lower before being released. Not that there's any time for you to stand, the pain of your cheek becomes overshadowed with a jolt to your jaw and you stumble back and into the fence all while the metallic taste of blood spreads through your mouth. You try to stand, head spinning from the hit still.

"Is this some sort of joke? What the hell are you doin'? Say somethin', fucking hit back or something dammit!" John doesn't allow you the choice of staying down, yanking you back up only to shove and force you to step back again. He's facing you, trying to turn this one-sided beating into something else, yet you can't find the urge to fight him.

"Won't hit...you." The words are choked out, but somehow you manage.

"That's not gonna make me stop."

"Fine." Squinting past the pain you stand tall and at attention, hand leaving your face as you try to show that you're not afraid. "Won't fight...friend."

"Another goddamn lie. Where the fuck is the Lawrence that allows sneaks off in the middle of the night?" John walks forward and you keep track of where his hands are constantly. Punches are one thing, but if he brings out anything other than that you can't be sure how this will play out.

"Where's the Lawrence that has a reputation out here? The giant everyone is afraid of, the man I've defended time and time again. Those rumors had to come from somewhere, so why don't you fuckin' show me? What guy who's done nothin' wrong let the crap beat outta him? Do you want this? Are you wantin' me to hurt you right now? Is this some sorta punishment you're acceptin' right now?"

"Not first...time gotten...hurt for...Deli-" John closes the gap between you, fist drawn back for another hit. This time you cover your face in instinct, ready to absorb the blow with your arm instead. Either anticipating this or easy to switch up, he pushes his arm against you for leverage and brings up his left arm in a swing towards your unprotected stomach. He might be lankier than you but the punch still knocks the wind out of your lungs and forces you to double over trying to recuperate. The effort leaves you unready and unbalanced, more than enough to get shoved back and onto the cold wet ground.

The urge to fight back begins to grow and for the slightest moment you consider it. Looking up and saying John stand over you stops this. You can't fight him, this isn't like other fights you've had before. There's something driving John to this, even if it's not entirely your fault, and it needs to come out.

"Nothing? Fuckin' nothing still?"

No answer from you, only coughing and painful and raspy breaths.

The lack of any sort of retribution or real reaction doesn't soothe John's rage, if anything it only fuels the fire. It's not long before the man has you pinned to the ground, using his weight to keep you from moving had you tried to. A grab at your collar again, putting you in just the right position to receive every bit of his furious stare. Memories, all mixed and muddled up, flash by as you recall being in similar positions in the past. Back when you were too scared to fight back, when you knew the quickest way to get it over was to just let it happen.

Another punch against your already bruised cheek, the blow leaving a thudding pain in your head as it's forced against the ground.

"I trusted you Lawrence."

The hand on your coat readjusts, pressing down on your neck now.

"Even if all that shit was true, I was there to defend you. Every damn time man. Every. God. Damned. Time." You can't tell if the hits are getting softer or if your face has started to become numbed from it. Still you bring an arm up in an weak attempt to protect yourself, but to John it doesn't matter. As long as his throws are hitting you, it doesn't matter.

"Law is a good guy! I fuckin' told everyone I knew that you were a good man, and here you are tryin' to ruin that girl's life!" The hits stop but the pressure on your neck increases and so does your fear. His fingers press up against marks that have long since turned to scars yet it scares you all the same.

"You think you're doin' her some good, but what if it messes her up? What if you end up hurtin' her more? Do you need someone to spell it out for you?" You catch a glimpse of John's free hand, reaching back for his pocket. The feeling in your chest tightens and you grab at the wrist holding down at your neck as you attempt to come up with a plan.

"Some point you're gonna end up makin' a mistake you can't take back, somethin' that's gonna hurt her deep down, do you think you can really handle that guilt? I don't want to see that girl end up like that." The glint of silver makes you flinch up in fear. You can't do this, it's not the time to choke up. Do something, move.

Fucking move you pussy.

You prepare to push John away, off and away so you can run. Careful though, you have to be careful.

"I don't want to see that girl..." Gradually the grip on your neck loosen and a soft thud on the ground follows soon after. The knife lays in the snow and John just looks down in your direction but not really looking at you.

"Lawrence...I don't want to see that girl messed up anymore." The knife is picked off the ground and sheathed again, John's weight lifting off as he stands. The thousand yard stare you've seen on his face is there, but for once he speaks directly to you.

"I don't want to see Delilah end up like me."
A confession that leaves you to fill in the blanks, you back up from John before standing, not daring to take your eyes off of him. It feels like everything hurts, yet you managed to not hurt John in return. With a light headed stagger you find the fence to lean against and catch your breath, the burning numbness traveling across your face and neck. You doubt that you're completely out of hot water yet, but the tension in the air doesn't feel so suffocating anymore.

"Wi-..." A coughing fit interrupts you, chest and throat burning from the effort. "Wi-...will just...say slipped...on ice."

"...sure as hell doesn't look like that. But I won't say nothin'."

The snow has continued to fall, becoming heavier as the minutes pass. It'd be freezing out here, had you not just had a scuffle. You can't bring yourself to look at John, and instead just let the words that come to mind tumble out.

"Want to...hurt those...guys. Ones that...did that. Want...want r-...revenge...for her. Don't want...her see...me like...that. Doesn't help...only scares...her. Get angry...can't stop. Awful. Frustrating. Hate it. Doesn't stop."

"Never does. This shit never fuckin' ends." Steps back and sounding nearly too exhausted to talk, John rests against the fence across the way and grabs at his hip. "And I sure as hell don't know what to do...wouldn't be here right now if I did, would I?" There's nothing you can say in response to that, and more than anything you just want to go home and pretend none of this happened.

"Can't...can't fuckin' stand to let that happen to someone again. No one was there when it happened to me, no one that would have stopped it. If I knew that was happenin' right in front of my nose..."


"I wouldn't hesitate to kill the guy. No questions. But I guess that'd make your girl pretty sad, huh? Who'd be there to calm her down then..." John doesn't sound too pleased with that outcome, but there's no venom in his voice either.

>Confess that Delilah has already said she loves you, but you don't know what to do about it

>Say you wouldn't know what to do if Delilah tried to say she loves you

>Ask John how he's tried to dealt with this himself

>Ask John. No need to bring the L word into this
>Ask John how he's tried to deal with this himself
Offer to ask Delilah if she's willing to share the how and why we brought her in. Feel better to not go behind her back, to not break her trust.

Admit we probably won't be able to change his mind on the matter, that he'll likely always be chary about us being around Delilah, just like she will around strangers.
"How...do you...handle it?" You can't help but look to where John kept his knife, praying that you won't have to see the blade that close again. This might not have been the first time he's acted out from trauma, but it sure as hell is the first time you've been afraid during it.

"Handle what?" Short, curt, and tired. Not even an hour out here and all of John's energy is gone, mentally and physically.

"Th-...that. How you...deal with...it?" Somehow it feels wrong to ask this question, like you shouldn't be asking it in the first place and certainly not at John. If you were to think of a victim like that, you'd imagine someone who couldn't defend themselves, small and fragile...someone like Delilah. Not a man ready to slit your throat.

"Oh. You mean gettin' touched. Heh..." His idle hand flicks a lighter, only bringing out a spark and empty flame as he tries to occupy himself. "Never figured you'd be comin' to me for advice on that." The flicking comes to a sudden stop, lighter gripped between whitened knuckles only to fling the flimsy plastic against the fence.

"Wanna know how I deal with it Lawrence? I don't. I fuckin' don't. No one prepares you for that shit. If it was that easy, wouldn't be a problem now would it?" John is far too drained to sound angry now, starring to where the cracked lighter now lays in fresh snow. It's descent has quickened now, soon to cover the mix of slush and mud that makes up the alleyway.
"All I ever done was tell myself that it wasn't a big deal, that I was makin' mountains outta molehills. Either no one else believed me or cared, so I figured that it wasn't a big deal. Shoulda been happy, didn't have to wait years for my first time right? Somethin' I shoulda been braggin' about, showin' off like some sorta medal. And you know what? The people not callin' me a pussy and a fag for it didn't want to hear it. Ain't no one wanna hear that shit, too heavy of a burden for 'em. Well what about me? I gotta carry that shit by myself, they don't care though. Easier for everyone if I just took care of it by myself, but...but dammit. I couldn't handle it by myself, don't see how anyone could."

His knees shaking, John is forced to hold himself up on the fence, fingers wrapped around the freezing metal of the chain link fence.

"...I sure as hell don't know what the best thing is, but I can tell you what I wanted. Wanted space when I needed it and needed someone close when I was scared to be alone. Sometimes I wanted someone to listen to me, even if it was the same shit over and over again. Cause for people like us, it's a fresh scar every time you remember it. Gotta pay close attention, know when you need to be there and when you don't. Sometimes will think I want one thing when really I needed the other...it's tough. Always second guessin' and makin' mistakes. No one wants to deal with that if they ain't got to-"

"I will. Will learn...how to. So can...be there." You expect some sort of berate from John, but at the response of silence you take the rare chance to fill it.
"Tomorrow. Can ask...Delilah tell...how I...brought her. Want her...permission. But then...you'll know."

"I don't think you would've taken her away from somethin' unless she was in trouble. And I'll stop breathin' down your neck, but that don't mean I'm just turning away from this either. Somethin' happens to you and I don't know if she'd actually recover from it...but that don't mean you just get free reign either. She wants to be at your side? Fine. You carry that weight if you can, but if I ever catch wind that you did that girl wrong and we'll continue our brawl out here. And next time, I won't stop. Take that as a threat and promise if you think that'll end up a problem in the future. Can we head back already? Can't feel my fingers and I wish I couldn't feel my damn hip right now..."


In the short trip back to the house, the snowfall has became thicker and heavier. Too much longer and you might not have been able to find your way back and you can't get inside the house quick enough.

"Where the hell have you two been?!" Aria immediately comes over to wait as you help John in, neither of you making eye contact. Hands on her hips, face contoured with disdain, and her girlfriend sitting at the table looking guilty and ashamed. The boys sit by her, Thompson gleaming at her with a snobby smile.

"You're gonna get it now-"

"You two!" Aria turns to address the boys, stopping Thompson before he can finish his jest. "Upstairs, now! Get ready for bed!"

"But it's cooold..."

"Go bundle up then! Go find Marilyn! I don't care! Just get up there!" Neither of them waste any time, rushing to get off their seats and up the stairs before receiving another earful. Mabel looks back at them, wishing she could follow behind.

"Seems we made you worry mis-"

"You two go running off without telling me anything and then you get my girlfriend to cover up for you? I can't believe it! And for what? A smoke break? Dammit guys, I can't believe you two would be so...so irresponsible like that! I was worried sick!"

"Trust me, we kno-" Mabel starts to say but quickly hushes up when Aria throws her a death stare.

"Listen, I'm awfully sorry about that. Needed a quick smoke and I know how you don't like that 'round the kiddos." John lets go of you, trying to hobble over to the living room on his own.

"Just a smoke? Why are your pants all muddy? La-" Aria turns towards you for answers only to come at a shock when she sees your worsened condition. "And what about Lawrence? What happened to you?"

"Too tired right now, Law can tell y'all bout it." John barely looks back in your direction before going, leaving you with the full responsibility. Aria looks back at you, refusing to let you move till she gets an answer of some sorts. Your fingers become painful as they warm up, stiff as you write and try to ignore the pain in your face.

Slipped on some ice outside, the snow has really started to fall.
We should get this window closed up tight in the mean time

Not allowing Aria to stop and question you further, you go to the bathroom to patch up your face in the dim glow of a flashlight. Not that there's a lot to fix, the most you can do is wipe away any dried blood and grime away with freezing water. Part of your face remains swollen but there's not too much else you can do about it. You remain looking over your face though, listening as Aria walks upstairs and stops to talk to Eric. From what you can pick up, Eric will stay with the boys in the bedroom and all the girls will stay in the nursery, Delilah included for now. Probably for the best, you can keep to the kitchen in the mean time.

Exiting the bathroom you nearly jump at the sight of Mabel waiting right next to the door. By habit she makes a hush sign, forgetting that it's unneeded with you, before checking to make sure the two of you are alone.

"I need to talk to you later. Alone, alright? It's importan-" Mabel stops herself as creaks come down the stairs and she acts like the conversation wasn't happening, approaching the stairs to greet Aria. She travels back up to help get the kids ready for bed, but not before shooting you one last look of confirmation before disappearing up.

It'd had been pretty dark already when you came back, but now as the hours have passed the house is nearly pitch black. You stay at the kitchen table, trying to keep your fingers warm and to attempt to sleep. How John managed to seems impossible, but he somehow did it. From upstairs there's the occasional creak and sound of movement and shifting, but they all seemed settled in too.

Your body might feel exhausted, but your mind is far too busy buzzing about.

Not even any concrete or coherent thoughts, just a mishmash of everything trying to fight for attention. Resting your head against the table you flinch, unsure if the pain is from the fight earlier or the pangs you've been feeling. Not that it matters, it all hurts the same and there's not a whole lot you can do about it. Instead you just close your eyes, fists clenching and releasing as you attempt to clear your thoughts enough to sleep.

Either you fell asleep briefly or you're closer to the point of passing out than you thought, but you don't even realize someone someone has snuck up on you till the blanket is thrown on top of your shoulders. You jump up right away, too dazed to react properly, only to see that it's only Delilah standing there.

"S-Sorry..." she apologizes, taking a step back. "I d-didn't see you before bed and um...and I thought you n-needed one..." Quickly you try to assure her that it's fine, taking your seat once again. You wonder why she hasn't tried to ask about your marks, but the dark offers some protection in this regard.

"I missed you. Is everything okay?" Delilah stands by a chair, ready to sit down with you.

>Let Delilah hang around for a bit, talk to her about what happened outside

>Let Delilah hand around for a bit, let her do whatever

>Tell her you're fine, but have her go back to bed

>Let Delilah hang around for a bit, let her do whatever
If she feels like talking, we can mention... some of what happened outside.
Fuuuuuuuuck haven't even finished thread 2 ;-;
"Fine. Everything fine."

Delilah takes the seat next to you, careful to keep quiet as she does. You're ready to take out the flashlight but decide against it, letting your eyes adjust to the dark instead. The walls creak and groan from the wind trying to tear away at the house from outside, snow no doubt piling up.

"How can you s-stand it down here?" Delilah whispers, grabbing her shoulders as she huddles over. "It's f-freezing in here...I mean the whole house is, but it's awful in h-here. How'd you even manage to f-fall asleep in here...?" Between words her teeth chatter together and it becomes increasingly harder for you to ignore the biting chill.

"Were you...sleeping?"

"A little bit. It's pretty cold in the nursery, well I guess it's not too bad when you've got a bunch of people trying to cuddle..." Delilah pulls her feet up on the chair, trying to pull close in to herself as she talks. "I couldn't really stay asleep though. Mabel made it sound like something was happening and I kept thinking that you were in trouble but they kept telling me you weren't. I guess I can't help but worry, heh..." A nervous laugh follows, cut short soon after as her head comes to rest against her knees.

"And um...a-and I was too scared to sleep..." Delilah admits, her voice nearly lost against the wind outside. "Not scared of anything happening h-here I guess but it's like I...like I can't shake the feeling of something b-bad...er, I don't know how to explain it. Just sounds dumb now that I'm saying it out loud like this..." You can barely see how she's curled up, trying to look small to the rest of the world. Ready to go ahead and grab her, the conversation with John earlier makes you hesitate.

"They know...you're here?"

"No, I just said I was going to the bathroom when Marilyn asked. She took a while to fall asleep too...I think she was crying about Sam. I don't think she wanted us to see, but I could hear her u-under the blankets. I didn't know what to s-say to her though, I don't know what would have been okay to say. And I didn't w-want to make her feel awkward or worse...m-maybe that wasn't the r-right thing for me to do...maybe I should h-have done something..."

"It's okay. She probably...needed some...time alone."

"Are you sure? Wh-what if I should have said something..."

"Hard to...tell. But she...will be...fine. Be there...next time...she cries. You're good...friend." You dare to put a hand on Delilah's shoulder, noticing that she's shivering but not shying away. The conversation from the alley echos through and this time it's you that recoils back.

It's not like you've done something wrong, John was just being concerned and emotional back there, you'd be the throat of anyone else in this position. He's not out to get you, just wanting to make sure Delilah isn't hurt or taken advantage of. You're not doing that, you haven't been doing that, at least you hope not. Then again, what if he is right and you're far too comfortable in all this? Maybe you really can't tell what's the right thing to do, even if you have these constant reminders of guilt-

"Um, Lawrence?" Delilah pulls you out of the rant running through your head, her face towards you in the chilly dark.


"Can I h-have a hug right now?"
You forget everything anyone had said before and pull Delilah to you. She's shivering, and you give her all that you can at the moment. Warmth, comfort, and a shoulder to cry on; you let Delilah sob her fears to you.

It's difficult to listen to all of this, hands holding her tight as she recounts some of the reoccurring memories. Delilah tells how she fears being pinned again, to feel like she can't escape. Explaining how there where several times she couldn't breathe -when it felt like she would suffocate both purposely and recklessness over her well being- similar memories come back to you. Of course, your times were much different than hers, but you let her talk freely. She tells you how she's terrified to wake up to find someone above her, and it hurts when she mentions being afraid to find blood on her thighs.

You struggle with wanting to both hold her much too tight and rushing up to find the guilty bastards.

"A-And I know it won't happen h-here but...but I'm scared to wake up sometimes," Delilah buries her face against your shirt more, her hands clutched together and against her stomach. "Sometimes I want to lay there and just...and keep them shut. I'm scared who I might see when I do open them...e-even though I know you w-wouldn't let them..."

"I wouldn't." Ever since you pulled her to your lap, more pangs of pain run through your core. Hearing her tell about some of the things that happen to her make you enraged and hollow, both due to your lack to do much else right now. It feels as if your head is in a rush, a terrible and dizzying one, the damn car popping into thought. It's unimportant you keep repeating, but it's as if your haven't been following that promise good enough.

You can't fuck this up Lawrence, you can't afford to.

"Please..." Delilah begins to beg now, pulling away from her shoulder to try and look at you. "Please don't go..."

"Have to." You don't want to.

"I don't w-want you to l-...l-leave..."

"Will return. Be quick." It hurts in your chest to deny her.

"I...you c-can't g-..." Delilah stops, head slumping against you once more. You're afraid she isn't going to give up on this, but she takes a few teary seconds to shift needs. "C-Can I sleep with you?"

"Shouldn't here. In nursery."

"But I d-don't think I'll be able to fall a-asleep..."

"Have to...try." Delilah's face leans in closer to your neck, warm breath against your skin and she sniffs.

"Did you get s-scratched up? I c-can smell um..." With a muffled gasp Delilah buries away in your shirt again, hiding from the scent.

>Let Delilah sleep here

>Try to convince her to go up (roll 1d100)

>Tell her she can have whatever blood is on your face as long as she goes upstairs

>Offer a bit of alcohol, just enough to make her feel sleep

>Tell her she can have whatever blood is on your face as long as she goes upstairs
>Tell her she can have whatever blood is on your face as long as she goes upstairs

Actually I'll combine this with

>>Let Delilah sleep here.

At least we can make her comfortable
"Just slipped...on ice." Your hand comes up, touching over the busies and swelling. It hadn't been cut up that badly, not that you could tell. Still, if there was enough for Delilah to sniff out...

"You need to be careful out there!' Delilah quickly lowers her voice, but the concern she has can't help but put the hint of a grin on your face. "Is it bad? You d-didn't chip a t-tooth or anything like that, d-did you?"

"No. Just wasn't...paying attention."

"Don't do that!"

"Will be...careful." Lying isn't hard for you, but carrying the guilt from it is a whole other thing. For now all you can do is swallow and try to make up for it the best you can. "You need...sleep."

"I can't-"

"You can..have cheek. Then have...to sleep. Upstairs, deal?" Pulling your hand away and replacing it on her back, Delilah's eyes blindly scans over your face. You don't try to push her into it, sitting back and letting Delilah decide what she wants. Her hands travel in a careful path, pausing before cupping your cheeks. The thin fingers pressed against your skin are cold, especially against the hot and irritated places of your face. It doesn't take long for the tip of Delilah's fingers to find their target, the wincing you can't hide confirming her guess.

She's not biting you, merely getting a small taste of what she wants, but you still keep careful watch. Delilah's hands go from holding your face to gripping your shoulders, and there are times when she pulls away only to return for more. There's not much for her to get from this, something that you should perhaps be thankful for. When she finally peels her lips away one last time and rests against your shoulder, a warm and calming feeling washes over you. Not to make you completely relaxed, but just enough to make things not seem so bad for a little bit.

"Thank you..." she gives her gratitude, an almost singsong tone to her voice.

"Sleep now." You start to move, an effort to help her stand but Delilah retaliates but holding on tighter.

"Uh uh. I want to stay down here..." she mumbles, the shakiness replaced with fatigue.

"Not part...of deal. Need to...go up."

"Just let me stay here a little bit longer, it's too cold to walk right now..."
You're ready to object, but realize that the possibility of some sort of tantrum could happen. It'd just be easier to carry her up when she's asleep at this rate, something that you might just have to do.

"Okay. Just a...little while." Despite wanting her to go up now, you wrap Delilah inside your coat, wrapping her up and bringing her closer in an attempt to share more warmth. Her slow and deep breathing presses her chest against you, letting you feel how she's slowly starting to calm down. Even with everything feeling more at ease, you can't help but keep one eye at the door. You'd hear him long before seeing him, but you're expecting John to pop in at any minute and catch you in the act. With your hands safely kept to her back, this is probably one of those things you shouldn't be doing. Or is it fine? All you're doing is holding her, but it still feels like you're sneaking around, doing something bad.

Forcing her away feels like the greater evil between the two, and for now you try to content yourself with waiting for her to nod off so she can be whisked away upstairs.

Even with being drowsy, your mind attempts to keep awake by;

>Remembering the last time you saw Michele

>Go over what happened with you and William the last time you saw him

>Rcalling the first day you met Delilah, and everything that happend in that grocery store

>Don't risk it, take Delilah upstairs now
>Recalling the first day you met Delilah, and everything that happened in that grocery store
>Remembering the last time you saw Michele
>Rcalling the first day you met Delilah, and everything that happend in that grocery store
Feels like one leads up to the other
With all the plans of going home, it should feel obvious that Michele would come up often. There's been times, entire days, where you go without her coming up at least once. That feels wrong, the only reason you came down here in the first place was her. To just move on so easily; you don't want to say that, but it would seem like that's what has happened. Delilah shifts around and you make sure she's fine, careful with your own movements to make sure she's not panicking. All looks well for now, and you repeat that to yourself.

Things are fine right now.
You're doing fine.

If it was any lighter inside you might be able to see your breath, instead you ignore the icy air burning your lungs.

The last time you saw Michele, the snow hadn't came yet. Fall was chilly, but she could stand outside and cry to herself for hours in the middle of the night. She'd done that for days before the fight, before your 'accident'. Usually you'd go out to console her, but she lashed out.

Leave me alone! Michele started to shout at one point, crushing an pathetically empty cigarette carton in her hand. Can you stop being so annoyin' and give me some space?! Dammit, you're always clingin' to me... And so you resorted to listening from your window, a mix of feelings dwelling inside. Confusion was one, not letting you make the right choice. Anger of course, that's what made you act out on stupid ideas. Grief was a large part of it all, the glue that made you hold on to each thing she said. And then pity, it was probably pity that you made you go look when she ran into her room the night everything happened.

Actually, no. That's not the last time you saw Michele. Maybe the last clear memory you have, but there was one more time after that. When you left her bedroom that night, it hadn't snowed yet that year. When you were finally coherent enough in the hospital to realize what had happened, snow had already come and gone and with it took Michele. You'd been confused when your mother came in to talk to you, the way she explained made it sound like your sister had been gone since the night you got hurt. But you can barely remember her being in this room, here to visit while you were still coming in and out of consciousness. But you can recall your sister standing at the edge of the hospital bed, even if there's not much past that.

You're pretty sure she had been crying, whether cause she was sorry about how she treated you before or if she felt guilty about all of this or if she was trying to apologize for running away or just the sight of her little brother laying like that.

You don't know and you won't ever know. Maybe she was never crying for you, maybe she never even came to visit and it was just a desperate sort of fever dream.

Any chance to find out is gone, and you'll just have to accept it.

Swallowing this truth makes your chest hurt, your eyes squeeze shut as you try to find a way to block the grief.
That's hard to do when it feels like all of this is your fault.
You fuck up

There's been a few things you've done right though, you can't be a complete failure.
If you were, Delilah wouldn't be here right now.

You could have stopped chasing her, that would have been the easy thing to do. Stopping to mourn alone was an option. Not wanting to deal with people watching and wondering what the hell you were doing running down the streets was another thing that could have stopped you. Or even just listening to the voice telling you that this girl had nothing to do with any of this, that you were just scaring her. But you needed something to focus on, something to move forward with.

To be honest, it probably became an excuse for you to put off going to the bridge.
It had been a dark thought lurking in the back of your mind, something you'd always been too afraid to face.

But when you recognized Delilah on the bus, a new light came in, something to keep the darkness away for a little longer. You'd been preparing for her to get help from police, to run home or into people she knew and save her from the tall quite guy chasing after her. The store would have been the last place you were going to look that day. If she'd slipped past again, that was it. You would make your final trip and that would be that.

Being where you've been and knowing those sorts of people, it was obvious the store was off to you. Nestled in an odd area, dusty and sparse shelves lining a shop that looked much smaller on the inside, and a mixture of strange smells wafting in from the back, it made you go on guard immediately. But maybe her family owned this place, maybe she knew the people running the shop, or maybe you were just desperate to find this girl.

It never occurred as a thought that you'd be saving someone.
You failed to do that for your sister, but you somehow pulled through for someone you didn't know.

Seeing Delilah stagger towards you was surreal; this had been the same girl who was so desperate to escape.
Despite her initial fear, she put trust in you.

What you did to that woman was horrific, and you're glad Delilah couldn't see any of it.

If the circumstances had been different than maybe it wouldn't have turned out so terrible. Holding Delilah in one arm wasn't enough of a handicap, and while the fight might have started in the woman's favor it certainly didn't end that way. One well placed slam against the wall would prove to be enough to stun her, giving you enough time to hold her by the head. She wasn't going to let you leave and you had to make sure she couldn't follow.

It didn't help that she was the first outlet for your grief.

While making sure that woman had no chance to follow or try to stop this, you'd almost forgotten who you were carrying. There was shame and disgust, looking at the mess of a woman who now slid on the floor in blinded and semiconscious pain. With no one left, you ran out. Out into the alley and away, as far away as you could get with your lungs burning and begging for air. You finally came to a stop when you feared dropping Delilah, coming to rest in some quiet and unknown neighborhood. You tried looking her over to see if anything was wrong, but it felt wrong to do so without her permission. Blood clung to her coat, far too obvious to keep carrying around. As much as you didn't want to, it had to be removed and discarded, quickly replaced with yours.

And the question of what to do with Delilah.

You knew nothing about this girl, but at the time you guessed she'd been a runaway. Your immediate thought was to take her to a police station, but that felt like a risky move on your part. Leaving her at a nice looking house felt like a good option too, but after all you'd just gone through to get her out of the store...the idea of just leaving her somewhere wasn't appealing in the slightest. Good Hope would be safe though, you were confident about that.

It was safe enough for the most part, but as long as you keep her safe it doesn't matter.
You might have done plenty of wrong things so far, but if that's what it takes so be it.
Counting back from one hundred, you decide to take Delilah back at zero. Easy to carry, you move up the stairs with her. The nursery door closed, you do the best you can to maneuver it open without disturbing any of the girls. Trying to avoid the creaks, you carry her over to the side Mabel sleeps on. With a nudge of your foot and a quick hush, you wake her up enough to show Delilah in your arms. Remaining quiet, she helps you place her back beneath the sheets, agreeing silently to handle Delilah for you.

She mumbles a bit, turning over as she adjusts against the mattress. Once sure that she isn't going to sit up, you back out and away just as quietly. You lean against the handrail, only able to guess what the time could be right now. Doesn't matter as long as the sun is down, your best bet is to try and sleep once more. Before heading down you pause, listening to John struggle to get off the couch. He manages after a few attempts, moving to the kitchen. Hearing the window push open you race down, expecting to see John halfway outside already.

Instead you find him by the sink, the much smaller window above it cracked open as he lights a cigarette. Barely offering a glance over, he gives a slight nod towards you.

"Just needing a quick one...couldn't help it."

You feel the way back to a chair, feeling awkward sitting alone with John. He continues to smoke in silence, and you aren't sure if it's worth trying to do anything.

>Offer some alcohol as a peace offering

>Confess to John about your time in prison

>Explain to John what's happening with you and your family

>Tell John that you are scared of Delilah getting too attached to you

>>Explain to John what's happening with you and your family
>Explain to John what's happening with you and your family
Heads up, when this thread dies the new one will probably go up after Thursday!


Delete Post: [File Only] Style:
[Disable Mobile View / Use Desktop Site]

[Enable Mobile View / Use Mobile Site]

All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective parties. Images uploaded are the responsibility of the Poster. Comments are owned by the Poster.