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Hiding from danger in a concrete cage.

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

=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
Thread 29 (Misarchived as Gorgon Child) http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive/700562/
Last Thread, you returned to playing Delilah like normal. We have been catching up on what she did during the time Lawrence was gone.

So far, Delilah did her best to get along with Crockett int he morning Lawrence left.

Currently, Delilah is waiting by Lawrence's bedside as the poor man finally gets some good sleep. As she decides to hum a lullaby to help him sleep, she remembers back to when she first heard it.

In the flashback, a much younger Delilah has decided to allow her mother to try and comfort her after a nightmare.

Clunky recap sorry lol
You really wanted to call your grandparents instead. Even if calling late in the night was a bother, your grandfather would have been more than happy to talk you through it. Even hearing grandma explain that nothing was coming to get you would have been a relief. But you didn’t want to push your luck and reluctantly nodded to your mother.

“Okay,” you sniffled as she placed the phone back on the receiver.

When your mother spoke, her words were annoyed and at the time you believed it to be your fault. “Where’s your uh, the rabbit toy your grandma made?”

“I um…” you looked down in preparation of being scolded, “I think I l-left it in Daddy’s car.”

“Ugh.” She gave a stressed out sigh that made you flinch. While you prepared for her to snap at you to do better about keeping up with your things, the moment never came.

“You’d think he would know his daughter can’t sleep without it…” she muttered before pointing you back to the bedroom, “Go and wait for me. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

“But what if--” you stopped there and just nodded instead. The hallway and room were just dark enough that you could imagine more moths waiting for you in the shadows. But bringing up your fear to her didn’t feel right, not like if you were speaking to Dad or your grandparents.

You started on the path towards your parents bedroom, but you couldn’t help but imagine scary faces looming in the shadows. And from there, it only became easy for your imagination to come up with scenarios of a mothman slipping through the window and waiting.

Perhaps if you had Ms. Buttons to cling to, you could have dashed to the safety of the covers. Instead you were left frozen in place, too afraid to take another step forward. As your little heart beat loudly, you could hear your mother from the kitchen.

“...come on, pick up. Pick up, pick up pick up pick up---”

From the sounds of it, she had decided to make a phone call herself. And when no one answers the call, she lets out a frustrated curse before trying again. You stayed in the hallway, listening as she redialed and waited for whoever to answer.

“Don’t ignore me, come on-- Hello? Don? Where the hell are you? You said you were going to be home hours ago!”

It made your heart skip a beat upon realizing it was your father on the other end. For a moment, you thought about running out and begging to speak to him.

“...don’t bother trying to lie to me. I don’t care what you’re really doing or with who. What I care about is that your daughter is here crying her eyes out and-- No, of course it’s not my fault! She got scared by those stupid moths again!”

The vitriolic drip returned to her voice by now. Not that you realized it at the time, but it was something that came with talking to your father and not with you.

“I’m letting her sleep in the bed tonight. She said her rabbit was in your car… Well, I don’t know, why don’t you go check? Or is all that blow keeping you from walking straight?”
Of course you didn’t understand what any of that meant. Your mother was genuinely angry and it didn’t sound like your father was merely stuck at work.

“No.... no, dammit no! Don’t even think about coming back to the house like that! And don’t you dare come here until you’re sobered up! ….because Don, she looks up to you, not me!”

It was too much for you to take. Too much for you to even try to think about and even more that you didn’t understand. Before you could listen to another word of it, you made a dash for the bedroom. You leapt onto the bed and quickly drew your body close together, keeping your feet and hands far from the edges of the bed. Nothing would be able to grab you this way, but you still took the nearest pillow to hug close. Over and over you kept wishing that it was morning already so you could be safe in the sunlight.

The phone call didn’t last much longer as your mother returned shortly. It was too late for you to try to lay down and pretend to be asleep already. So you didn’t dare move or say a word as she came to sit on the edge of the bed.

“I can’t believe him…” she muttered beneath her breath before turning back towards you, “Delilah, baby, please lay down. You won’t be able to fall asleep like that.”

You shuffled into place between the blankets and your father’s pillows, all without a word. As much as you would have preferred him or either of your grandparents here, you did feel better knowing someone else was in the room. Protected might not have been the right word, but you weren’t alone.
It was still hard to fall asleep. You kept hugging the pillow close as you tossed back and forth. Any groan of the house or rustle of the wind outside made you jump in fear. The entire time your mother had remained silent and you assumed she had already fallen asleep. It nearly made you scream when she spoke up after your latest bout of fearful restlessness.
“Are you not asleep yet?” she asked, bluntly but not unkindly. You merely shook your head to say no. Your mother rose up on an elbow, groaning a bit from the effort, and motioned for you to turn your back towards her.

Afraid of what was going to happen you just mumbled into the pillow, “I’m sorry--”

“You’re not the one in trouble,” she sighed, “I’m just trying to help you fall asleep.”

It almost felt too nice. Calm moments like this were rare with her. But you listened, laying on your side with your back facing her. As afraid as you were, you managed not to flinch at the gentle touch of her hand against your back.

You didn’t start to relax until she began to hum along with rubbing up and down your back. It wasn’t a word you knew at the time, but it all felt so surreal. It was reminiscent of how your grandmother might have handled this.

“Wh-...” you started to speak up but stopped as nerves got you instead. The motion against your back came to a slow and so did her humming as she asked you to repeat that.

“What s-song is that…?” you finally asked, hugging yourself closer in fear of the question being too much to ask somehow.

“I don’t remember,” she answered listlessly, “It’s something my grandma used to sing. I don’t remember the name, but I always remembered how it sounds…”

She picked up the tune again, as her nails traveled lightly across your back. It was comforting, even if it took some getting used to. You started humming along as you picked up the melody from her, going softly enough as to not interrupt her.

If your father was home instead, this would never have happened. You would have ran out of your room, bawling your eyes out, and he would have swooped in right away. Might have tucked you into bed again and told you how nothing would get you if he was there. He would have told some fantastical story about why you never had to be afraid as long as he was there. It’s something he very much so picked up from your grandfather, the only thing missing was the thick Italian accent his father had.

This strange moment of comfort from your mother made you wonder if you should try talking to her.

The last few days at school, you had started to feel strange. You started to feel sick, but not in any way you were used to.

The strength from your limbs would sometimes vanish. Your vision would sometimes go dark while you were running with the other children. But you didn’t have a fever. No upset tummy…. Only your body going weak and sometimes a weird pain in your head.

It hadn’t been bad enough for the teachers to send you home, but it was still a strange and scary thing for you.

Did you try to talk to your mother about these moments? Or did you wait to talk to your father about them later-- after all, he was a doctor and knew a lot about people being sick.

Also, switched to a secure tripcode for now since we are having board janny problems
Try to explain to mom.

Sue, when will you let Delilah be happy?
Nooo, what if they're, like... girl problem. Let's try bringing it up with mom.

I mean, "Melancholic" is the name of the quest...

“What is it?” she asked, the humming continuing softly as she waited for you to answer. And it did take you a bit to figure out the words to say it.

“I think I got sick at school,” you mumbled.

“Your dad didn’t pick you up early, did he?”

You shook your head, “I didn’t tell him. The nurse made me sit in her office and then made me go back to class when I stopped feeling sick.”

“It happened this week?” she asked and waited for you to nod. A moment after and her hand pressed against your forehead, “...it doesn’t feel like you have a fever. Were you playing too rough during recess?”

“Um, I was just playing soccer.” That had been the last time it happened a few days prior. “We were running around and kicking the ball and um, my head started hurting.”

“You got a headache?” her voice sounded more concerned than you were ready for.

“Uh huh,” you nodded, “And, and my arms and legs felt funny. Everyone else said I tripped when I fell down but I didn’t trip. My legs felt like jelly. My tummy didn’t hurt but it felt like uh, like when Daddy drives around too fast in his car. And the sun kept hurting my eyes—“
The motion on your back stopped. Your mother remained silent and so did you. Maybe this had been a mistake. This should have been something you told Daddy. He’s the doctor after all, he’s the one who would care.

“Delilah.” Your mother’s voice was soft but stern as she sat up to speak. “I need you to be honest with me. Is this the first time it’s happened?”

You slowly shook your head. “N-no Mommy. It happened before at recess. And when I was p-playing at my friend’s house. But when I tell them about it they said it’s weird and then it stops later.”

“Have you told your father?”

“I didn’t tell Daddy,” your voice squeaked, “Am I sick? I don’t feel sick right now.”

She didn’t answer. When you took a peek back, your mother was sitting up and chewing at her nails in thought. Unsure of what else to do, you tried your best to curl up right and fall asleep again.

“...Delilah,” your mother’s voice strained won’t her words now, “Next time that happens, tell me right away. Tell the nurse to let you call home if it happens at school. If I don’t pick up then… then call Daddy’s number and tell him. Do you understand?”

“Y-yes ma’am.”

If you had dared to look at her in the following moments, you would have seen your mother holding her head in quiet pain. Instead, you used the last of your courage to ask her to sing to you again.

At first it seemed like she didn’t hear you. But slowly, she returned to trying to comfort you, though the signs of her good mood were missing. The song she hummed became slower and blue, but it stuck with you anyways as you tried to sleep…
You are still humming the song as you dab Lawrence’s forehead dry. The hair that has fallen around his face has started to clump for the accumulation of sweat, but it seems like he’s managing better than earlier.

When the lines on his face grow deeper and his teeth grind together, you hold onto his hand, squeezing him as a reminder that you’re still there. There hasn’t been anymore thrashing and despite being hot beneath your touch, Lawrence looks to be sleeping well.

He only requested you to stay by his side until he managed to fall asleep. It seems like you’ve done that, and now you’re left waiting for him to wake up.

Do you want to stay by his side until he’s up and out of bed. Since you have to be his nurse right now, you would be here in case anything happens during his sleep.

Or do you trust him to be alone right now? He might be asleep for several more hours, and you could spend that time getting things ready for him. You could try to get the perfect dinner ready by the time Lawrence gets up, and finally serve him the dessert you and Crockett made the day before.

back from being out of town now, sorry for the wait lel. some good quest vibes coming soon probably. hopefully.
>Do you want to stay by his side until he’s up and out of bed. Since you have to be his nurse right now, you would be here in case anything happens during his sleep.

I want the second option but it feels like a trap.
Del should stay, it might be boring but at least she's with law
Go and make that dinner!
You won't be far and he'll be hungry when he wakes up.
Hey Sue, any idea where thread 67 is in the archive?
Just five more minutes to make sure, then we can start dinner.

This is it.
I'm a dummy but I also don't know how to count, so yes this is thread 67 even though I was extra dumb and put 68 in both the OP image and the thread title
>trust him to be alone
“I’ll wait here just a little bit longer. Just to be safe…” you open up the notebook and take up the pen again before looking over at the bed, “Then I’m going to go and make you the best dinner, okay?”

After giving him a quick smile you return to writing. Just another page or so you figure, and then you can try cooking again. Whatever it takes to make him a nice dinner. Or lunch, or whatever time it is right now. Windows are something you didn’t think you would miss so much.

You make sure to keep a closer eye on Lawrence as you scribble down the names and dates and notes that you try to remember properly. It’s a slower process of getting information down, but you want to make sure he will be okay alone.

When you finally decide to set the notebook down again, Lawrence has only been sleeping peacefully. You take a moment to dab off any lingering sweat from his face and to tuck the blanket closer around him.

“Sleep tight.” You leave the promise with a quick forehead smooch before tiptoeing away.

Butter begins to melt in the saucepan as you carefully measure out a tablespoon of flour. You double check the hand written instructions left by Camilla, worried that you will misread ‘tsp.’ as ‘tbs.’ and mess everything up. Diced up vegetables wait on a cutting board as does the meaty ham bone you took from the freezer.
“Alright… yeah, this is easy.” You quickly stir the mixture as it warms up at the bottom of the saucepan, “I bet John would be impressed to know I can make uh, what’s it say here… roux now.”

Luckily for you, the man isn’t around to hear you pronounce roux with a hard ‘x’.

You move on to the tall pot, grabbing a handful of the cut onions to add to the warmed up olive oil. Not wanting to repeat the tears from cutting them, you make sure to keep your eyes closed tight as they fall against the metal.

“Stupid things. Never made me cry when grandpa let me help him…”

Once the onions start to soften in the oil you waste no time going to the sink to wash them clean. Even smelling them from your hands seems to make your nose and eyes burn, and you don’t stop the water until every last bit of the stench is gone.

Following the rest of the instructions is easy. The potatoes, carrots and bone go in after and then you just fill it up with water. A few spoons of chicken granules and the seasonings you have on hand and now all you have to do is wait until the meat is falling off.
You leave the kitchen with the soup boiling as you go to check on Lawrence. The snoring from inside is almost audible through the door, and so you only need to take a quick peek inside before leaving him be again.

Down the hallway, you walk past your grandfather’s old study. Now it’s been converted into a makeshift room for the impromptu guest, Brandi choosing to keep to herself inside. Occasionally you’ve caught her out, either to use the bathroom or to eat in the kitchen.

Just to be polite, you knock on the door to ask if she would want any dinner.

“Sure sweetheart, but don’t let me be the one to ruin your dinner date,” Brandi stands at the door with a grin as you try to hide your red face.

“It’s not a date,” you mumble while looking away, “I’m just making dinner.”

She shrugs, “Sure, call it whatever y’like. But I know you’ve probably been missing your friend. Just make sure to leave me a bowl or two and I’ll let ya have your moment together.”

Brandi can’t help but snicker as you fumble with words to try and explain that there’s not some kind of moment, that you’re just being nice for him, and all sorts of other lame excuses.
“Ah wait, before you go though…” her face takes on a more somber look as she holds your shoulder, “We’re the only ones here, aren’t we? You, me and the big guy?”

You nod, “I think Mr. Crockett is supposed to come back tonight.”

“Right, I think he told me the same thing.” Brandi tries not to chew on the fake painted nail of her thumb, “Left me with a pair of keys in case we have to get outta here. So if anything fishy starts going on, I’m supposed to pack you up and drive back to Mariano’s.”

“What about—“

“If we can fit him in the car, he can come too.” She tries to smile gently to calm you down, “And uh, in case something happens and everyone goes AWOL… I’ve been thinking about that. I sure as hell don’t wanna be sitting ducks here though. If we lose contact with our lil’ police buddies or Camilla, then I’m going to make the call to leave. Does that sound alright with you?”

Your face goes pale from nervousness and Brandi can see that. Her smile drops into an apologetic, sad frown. “Try not to think about it,” she says, “I just wanted to make sure we are all on the same page. It’s like planning for a tornado or house fire. Probably not going to happen, but just in case.”
She isn’t wrong, it should be something that is planned for. But you don’t want to think about it and quickly try to bury those thoughts away as you return to the kitchen.

Dinner takes your mind off of it quickly enough. The table is set up nicely with some of the nicer dishes you uncovered from storage and you can’t help but take a step back to admire how nicely it all comes together. You think it does, anyways. There’s even a crocheted centerpiece that you found in your grandmother’s belongings, something that you’re sure she made while here at some point. It adds a little extra touch of home that almost makes it feel like staying here is okay.

You tiptoe back to the bedroom with a new giddiness. Even if you’re a little worried about disappointing him with the dessert you ended up making, you want to imagine the surprise on his face when he sees all the work you put into it.

By now, you’re an expert about moving around the compound stealthily. The door barely makes a sound as you push it open to take a look inside.

At first, you’re excited to see that Lawrence is sitting on the edge of the bed now. But his head hangs low, resting in his hands as the rest of him sits hunched over.

Apparently you weren’t quiet enough as he soon looks up at the door. The red puffiness of his eyes and the wet sheen down his cheeks are something familiar, though not so much on Lawrence.

“Are you okay…?” you ask from your spot at the door.

He looks absolutely horrified to have been caught crying. First he tries to cover his face, but of course it’s too late for that. With slow and slightly uncoordinated movements, he jumps up from the bed and rushes over to the dresser. Turned away from you now, Lawrence tries to clear his face.

It’s obvious that he feels embarrassed by this. You’re sure that if you weren’t standing at the door, he would have ran out of the room instead.

As Lawrence stands at the dresser and you’re by the door, you think it would be best to…

work threw me off schedule but we should be back to the normal slow updates instead of the mega slow updates
Hug him! Hug him and tell him we have dinner made when he's ready and that if he wants to talk to us he can and that we love him very much. Then give him some room for a bit, he'll be out soon enough surely.
Yeah this is the correct response
You make sure to approach him slowly. As bad as it hurts your heart to see him this way, you know you need to remain calm for him.

When you first come up to his side, Lawrence is shaking too hard to notice you’re there. And by the time you’ve gotten your arms around him, it’s too late for him to run away. He wants to though, you keep a watch on the hand that looks ready to pull you away. But he can’t do it and instead resorts to trying to hide the involuntary grimace behind his hand instead.

For now, you keep quiet. Your cheek presses against his side as you stand there and hold him. At first Lawrence tries to lean away from it. He still wants to push you away and run off. You squeeze him tighter in response.
“I love you, so please don’t go away.” You can feel his attempts of escape start to damper after you say that. Instead he chooses to stand there, letting you hold onto him while still trying to hide his face. Lawrence is more than just tearing up at this point. It’s the sort of crying you have done plenty of times around him. Where your chest hurts, where breathing and speaking becomes too difficult, and being close to losing it completely.

You’ve seen Lawrence so angry that he can’t control himself. And you’ve seen him sad, but you’ve never seen him this way. But he deserves to feel that way too sometimes, you figure, and it’s your turn to be the strong one.

“It’s okay that you’re sad. I’ll be here when you need me.” You give one last squeeze before finally giving him the bit of space he needs. Thankfully, Lawrence doesn’t try to step away. “If you want to tell me what’s wrong, I’ll listen.You deserve to be listened to. But if you don’t want to, that’s okay. I’ll still be here when you need it. ”
Though you give him a big smile, he’s still crying. And you want to stay around to make it stop. But maybe it’s best to give him space instead. Seeing him like this might have made it worse.

“Take as long as you need. When you’re ready you can come and eat dinner. And if it will make you feel a little better… I’ll let you eat dessert first.”

As you start to walk past Lawrence and towards the door, he stops you with a gentle hand on top of your head. When you turn to look up at him, he forces a wide smile at you. Just as you are about to tell him that he doesn’t have to pretend to be okay, he quickly ruffles your hair into a fluffed mess.

Though you try not to laugh and tell him to stop, you also don’t push his hand away. It ends with him pushing the hair out of your face. Lawrence gives you one more smaller, softer but sincere grin. And then you’re finally free to give him a moment of privacy. As tempting as it is to hang around the door just to be sure he’s okay, you still don’t want to scare him.
It takes almost fifteen minutes for him to finally come into the kitchen. Lawrence enters the room sheepishly. While his face is dry, a ruddiness remains in his eyes and face. You jump up from the table as he shuffles over, and go straight to the stove to stir the pot.

“I hope you’re hungry, because I think it turned out pretty good--” Before you can grab the ladle, you are embraced from behind. It’s almost a bit too tight, but you endure it for him anyways.

“I’ve missed you too.” You hold to the arms crossed over you as a means of hugging him back. “If there’s something I can do to help…”

At first, it seems like Lawrence is going to try to brush it off as nothing that you need to worry about. But as he squeezes tighter you can tell that he’s really not over it yet, not enough for him to just swallow and bury it inside.

Dinner can wait a while longer. Instead of making Lawrence sit at the table to talk, you drag him out to the couch instead. After some gentle adjustment, you manage to get him to lay out across it. While his legs might have to hang over one end, you let his head rest against your lap.

“Try to relax,” you look down at Lawrence’s uncomfortable face, “I thought this would be better. You still need rest, so it’s okay if you close your eyes.”

You start running a hand over his scalp over and over again, waiting until you feel his body start to go lax. It’s times like these that you forget about being stuck in this gray, concrete cage.
It remains quiet aside from the soft humming you start again. While you try not to just stare at his face, you watch as Lawrence debates with himself whether he should say anything or not.

Lawrence eventually gives in. He can’t help but to cover his eyes with his hands, it might be too difficult to speak while looking at you. But you can see his mouth stretching in a strained grimace like earlier.


It’s easier to read his lips than to try and listen to the raspy words. He doesn’t say anything more but that already seems painful enough for him.

“What are you afraid of?”

You watch as he attempts to speak the words.

Afraid of messing up
Don’t want to let you down
Don’t know if good enough to do it
Messed up so much before
Can’t handle it
Too much pressure…
“I’m sorry you have to handle so much alone,” you say with a heavy heart, “And it’s all my fault too. If it weren’t for me, then you wouldn’t have to feel like this...:”

You hand stop gliding over his head as you whisper, “It’s like what Grandpa did. He put Granny so much, but she stayed with him through it anyways. And now I’ve been putting the person I love through hell too--”

Of course you had to start tearing up. It finally lets you see Lawrence’s face unobstructed. As he starts to reach up you grab his hand and pin it back down to his chest.

“I’m okay.” You manage to speak strongly and you quickly reach up to dry your eyes, “It’s your turn to get taken care. I know it’s so little compared to what you’ve been running yourself ragged for but please, let me do it. I want to do everything I can to try and make you happy.”

You lean down to hug him the best you can like this. “Please try not to worry about anything tonight,” you smile with a hand against his warm warm face, “You’re supposed to spend the next few days resting. I’ll handle everything for you.”

Lawrence quickly composes himself on the couch. Only a few more minutes pass of you comforting him before a growl from his stomach serves as a reminder of what you were doing prior.
It’s hard to tell if he was able the worst of his stress over with, or if he manages to hide it well. But by the time Lawrence is sitting at the table, he’s smiling as you tell him about cooking.

“So you better enjoy this, okay? Or at least nod and tell me that you like it.” You carefully set the steamy hot bowl down, shaking your fingers quickly to rid of the burning sensation. “But you might want to wait a little bit, it’s still too--”

You have to watch as he doesn’t miss a beat and takes a big chunk of potato in his mouth. As Lawrence tries to balance tasting the food while not burning his tongue completely, you scold him for not waiting for it to cool off first.

“You aren’t going to be able to taste dessert properly if you burn your tongue out now!” You sit with him and try to hide the smile on your face as you watch him eat. It puts a special warmth in your chest before you turn to your own bowl.
“Ack-- still hot!” you stick out your tongue after the first small bite. It’s his turn to chuckle at you, and it puts a smile on your face.

After a bit, Lawrence taps on the empty wine glasses on the table. You jump up right away, embarrassed that you didn’t get those ready for him already.

“Sorry! I’m not being a good hostess!” You grab the glass and walk over to the counter. The engraved glasses are so delicate, you bet they really would only look proper with wine inside of them. And that is something you found stowed away in the kitchen. A whole rack of bottles from when your grandparents were here, hastily packed away and pushed aside.

Do you want to surprise Lawrence with a glass of wine? You’re sure they’re nice quality, since they belonged to your grandfather. And you can definitely make sure he doesn’t drink too much, you’re sure of it.

But there’s also something else special that you have to give to him. A special gift you found for him. Something you can give back in return for one of the many, many things Lawrence has given. You squeeze the small, metal item in your pocket to make sure it’s still there. You will give it to him, but you wonder if that time is now, or if you should wait for a more special moment…

If anything, you can just present him dessert now. You and Crockett worked hard on it, and even though it's not chocolate cake, you hope Lawrence will love it all the same.

What would you like to do?
No Wine nobody here is emotionally put together enough for alcohol, even if it's only a little bit. Better safe than sorry.
Let him eat cake, then give him the special gift.
Of course we can do wine, it's not a date after all. Not like either of us get drunk easily anyway
If only we could recall anything grandpa might've said about wine pairing, but maybe we'll get lucky.
“Hold on for just a second!” You kneel down in front of the sink and open the cabinet below. When Lawremce isn’t looking, you quickly duck inside to pull out the box you hid in the back. The glass clinks against each other as you look through the limited selection. You only bothered to sneak away three of the bottles. All chosen completely at random, as you have very little knowledge of these things.

Looking at the labels brings you a rush of familiarity. Not that any one stood out particularly more than the others, but they very much are reminiscent of your grandfather all the same.

You look over each of their labels before choosing a red. It looks like a red wine anyways. “Sang-....san-gio-vees…-vese?”

One has to be picked so you decide not to make him wait any longer. You place the bottle on the table and debate pulling off the red wax on top. But after searching through a few of the drawers you manage to find a tarnished corkscrew.

“Just a little bit longer!” you announce as you hold the bottle under one arm and the wooden handle of the corkscrew in the other hand. By now Lawrence is watching, but you try not to feel too nervous. You can get this open, it’s easy. You’ve seen tons of people do it… your mother could accomplish it like it was nothing. Or maybe you should try doing it like your grandfather did. Making a big show about it when he would pull the cork free with a loud pop.

By the time you get the corkscrew twisted to the hilt, your hands feel sore from the effort. That alone took a lot longer than you would have thought. But now all you would need to do is pull it free--

Lawrence watches in pure silence as you do everything you can to pull the cork out. Even gripping the bottle between your legs and using both hands to try and yank it free. After a solid minute or two of effort, you shamefully walk the unopened bottle back to the table. He looks at it rather surprised and you hold it out to him.

“This is the only work I’m letting you do tonight…” you try not to pout as Lawrence does what you couldn’t in one, albeit jerky, motion. As soon as it’s open you grab the bottle from his hands and walk it back over to the glasses.

“But you’re only getting um, you get [i]one[/i] glass, understand?” You watch the red liquid splash around inside as you walk. Sometimes you catch a scent of flowers from them, other times it reminds you a bit of a forest.

You fill the glasses about halfway before picking them up. When you turn back towards the table, Lawrence is holding up five fingers.

“No, you can’t have five!” you glare at him as you gently set the drink down before him. “You can’t get better if you drink enough to get sick.”

He shakes his head to say that it wouldn’t do that. You stand firm on your answer and don’t respond in order to take your first sip.
It’s chilled merely from being inside this place. It’s a bit more bitter than you expected, and you wonder if that’s normal or if it’s simply something you would need to get used to.

When you look up again, you see Lawrence holding up four fingers instead.

“Nope!” you shake your head before thinking over it, “Two. You can have two glasses.”

Of course he decides to hold up three fingers next and you shake a finger at him. “Don’t push it mister, or else I’ll make it one again.”

Lawrence, thankfully, drinks it slow. And you make sure to watch a good bit first too, just to make sure he isn’t taking the time to enjoy it. You give another feel around in your pocket again. The present can wait for a while longer. After all, you want to try to make it as perfect of a moment as it can be. And you can start gathering the courage for it now. As excited as you are to give it over, you feel light headed just at the idea.

“I don’t know what this stuff is, but if my grandpa bought it then it must be good.” You put up a smile before bearing through another sip, though this one goes down easier. “I’m pretty sure he would have gotten the best he could have. That was always his style, I think. Even if Grandma had to remind him not to spend all his money at once.”

As you take your time warming up with drink and food, Lawrence manages to finish both before you. But you’re happy to jump up and grab him seconds, especially as a reminder that this is his last glass. He concedes to your warning, nodding with his cheeks slowly growing a warm red.

After bringing him the bowl and glass, you decide it’s finally time to bring out dessert too.

“Look, I know I promised you chocolate cake…” You stand before the table, holding another wine glass in one hand and covering up the contents with the other. So scared that you’re going to disappoint him, you hesitate to reveal what it is. “But I really tried my best to make one. But I think I forgot an ingredient because some of it was all mushy and collapsed in. And um, and I burnt the other half of it too…”

Just to get it over with, you finally just set the chilled glass on the table before him. Lawrence looks down at the swirl of the chocolate mousse carefully layered inside. He uses the spoon to carefully lift up a piece topped with some dark crumbs.

“So Mr. Crockett taught me how to make this instead, since I didn’t have enough ingredients to try again.” Your face is heating up, a bit from the bitter wine and a bit from messing up something so important. “The pieces on top there are the parts of the cake that turned out okay. It’s uh, there wasn’t very much of it…”

You know that it tastes decent at least. It wasn’t like you weren’t going to try some for yourself after making it, but what matters is if Lawrence likes it. After all, he requested a cake and you failed to deliver that.
When Lawrence goes in eagerly for a third spoonful of mousse you have a big smile of relief spread across your face. “Oh thank goodness,” you say beneath your breath.

As he takes the time to enjoy the food you put so much effort into making, you take your own seat again. You can’t help but keep a hand in your pocket, the silver band warming up from your touch. Again, your heart begins to race. Would he even want something like this?

“I’ll figure out something good to make for you tomorrow too!” You leave the ring alone and take your glass again, “I just have to figure out what exactly…”

As you drink, you wonder what would even be the appropriate way to give him the ring. Going down on one knee seems too funny for you to do. You want this to be special, but maybe you’re also overthinking it.

You look up at Lawrence across the table and feel the ring hanging from your neck. He worked so hard to buy this one for you. And even though it doesn’t fit yet, keeping it with you is one of many reminders of his dedication.

This has to be special, right? Or maybe you’re overthinking it...

[b]Is it something you should just get out of the way? There’s hardly anything more you want than to see him accept it already. It might feel like he’s really accepting your love, enough to display it. If he goes to bed tonight while wearing the band, it might move you to happy tears.

But you also wonder if you should set up something a bit more grand. Lawrence promised he would be here all day tomorrow. He worked so hard for your special ring, should you try to return the favor? Maybe you could find a record to play or write out some sort of vows or speech to give with it…

How would you like to present Lawrence the ring?[/b]
Give it to him! Give it to him!
Grand gestures are for the birds anyway, it's about the feeling behind it and the feelings in this room are palpable.
This is enough to be considered a romantic dinner, probably. That's like the main component in every movie so it will be great
Your heart flutters as you take a moment to shine the ring clean on your shirt once more. Lawrence notices despite your efforts to keep it beneath the table. For a moment you just smile at him while shoving it back into your pocket. He’s not bothered but you can’t stand keeping this secret to yourself any longer.

It might not be the prettiest, but this should be good enough. Shouldn’t it? Maybe you should at least fix the lighting a bit.

“Lawrence, there’s something I want to--” When he looks up, you freeze in place. You can’t lose your cool now. So instead of trying to speak and letting whatever words fall out, you remain quiet as you jump up.

He watches as you go looking in one of the cabinets. The emergency candles really should be left for an emergency, but surely it would be fine for a special occasion. Besides, you’re pretty sure there is still a whole crate of them somewhere.

Lawrence is eyeing you carefully now as you set the two white candles up on the table. You’re so nervous at this point that you keep snapping the matches while trying to strike them.

“Uh here, can you get these lit for me please?” You hand the matchbox over to Lawrence, who looks at you strange.

[i]What are these for?[/i] he mouths and motions at the candles.

“I uh…” You spot his once again empty glass and take it as an opportunity to buy yourself a little more time. This time you bring the bottle over, holding it up as a bit of an offering. He obliges, managing to snap only two or three matches before lighting the candles.

After pouring him --and yourself-- one last glass, you quickly go to return the bottle to the table. And from there you rush over to the light switch and click it off. It’s much, much darker after you do so. But the candles manage to light up the table just right.

“Don’t these feel a lot nicer than the fluorescent?” you come to stand behind your chair, digging your fingers into the back of it. “It feels a lot warmer and softer and uh, and all that. And I thought it would be perfect for s-setting the um, the mood…”

He’s got all eyes on you now. Very, very concerned eyes. Now it’s too late for you to chicken out. You try to think about what to say as you take one nice, long sip of your drink. The bitterness leaves your mouth and chest feeling warm. A very quick rush goes through your head as you feel a lingering sweetness though, remaining you of its smell of roses and the forest.

Before you know it, you’re standing before Lawrence with the ring clenched tightly in your hand. As he gets ready to stand up you put a hand out to keep him in place.
You wonder if he can hear just how fast your heart is racing right now. One more deep breath, and you can do this.

“Lawrence, you really are wonderful.” First thing you do is pull out the chain from around your neck. The ring he gave you all those weeks ago now dangles in the air while you speak. “And you have given me so much. I wish I could return the favor for every good thing you’ve done.”

You let that ring rest freely against your chest now. The wedding band in your hand feels so incredibly heavy now. You motion for Lawrence to give you his hand. When he reaches with his right, you shake your head and point at this left.

“I know this isn’t how these kinds of things are supposed to go,” you manage to speak calmly as you hold his hand between yours, “And maybe it’s kind of rude to give you something like this. I’m pretty sure it was my grandpa’s, since I found it here. But that’s also kind of why I want to give it to you.”

Lawrence doesn’t say a word, and allows you to slip the ring into his palm. Before he can get a look at what it is, you curl his fingers around it tight. You’re still nervous to let him see it, but it also leaves an excited warm buzz in your chest.

“I’ll always love you, no matter what happens. No matter what you do… Even if you were somehow to mess up, it’s okay. I’ll love you anyways.” You squeeze his hand once more before letting it go. As he looks at the ring in the candlelight you try to watch his reaction but find it hard to keep your eyes on his face.
“I wanted to give this to you for a couple of reasons. It’s my grandpa’s, so I wanted to keep it around. And I f-figured I could trust you with that…” You look at the dancing shadows on the floor as you try to regain your courage, “But I also wanted you to have a ring too. I can’t wear this one yet and I know that one probably won’t fit you very well either. And they really don’t look anything alike at all which um, which is a bit weird I guess.”

You reach up to hold the ring around your neck, “But now we both have one. So it really feels like a promise to each other now. And hopefully it’ll remind you of me whenever you have to go. If you want to take it anyway. I understand if you don’t want to but uh…”

This time you force yourself to look up and with a warm, red face you give Lawrence one of the happiest smiles you have ever given.

“I wanted to give this to you as a promise,” your anxious beating becomes an uplifting futter in your chest now, “Thank you for everything, and I love you.”

Lawrence looks at you stunned. He looks back at the ring in his hand and it’s hard to read his face.The first thing you end up seeing is disbelief. He opens and closes his palm over and over again, as if to make sure the ring is really there. Then he slowly starts laughing.
“Really...thought.” The warm glow of the candles just barely lets you read lips as he struggles to put out his words.”Would be.. dead. By now. Long time...ago.” He looks from the ring to the set table and back again. His laughing seems to just be from nervous skepticism as he falls back against the chair while running his other hand over his head.

“Thought… was dying. Yester-...day.” He takes a closer look at the ring now. The silver bounces off the candlelight as he does. “Didn’t think-- hah… couldn’t. Couldn’t… be here. Somewhere… nice. Treated. So nice--”

As it becomes hard for him to speak you can’t help but smile brighter. He’s accepting it. He looks happy with your gift. He looks so happy about all the effort you put in tonight. You didn’t think you could feel this joy in such a gloomy place.

“If it doesn’t fit, then we can find out another way for you to wear it--” You wipe the happy tears from your cheek before holding him tight. “Thank you, Lawrence. Thank you for being here with me.”

When you finally let Lawrence finish dinner, he can barely keep his eyes open. He’s determined to finish every last drop you set out before him, even if it’s with his eyes closed by the end.

“Maybe three glasses was too much…” you snicker to yourself before contemplating the idea of having to physically drag him to bed. Your own two glasses have made your eyes feel heavy at this point too.

[b]It’s definitely time for Lawrence to go back to sleep. Do you want to keep yourself busy so you can stay up and watch over him? This might be a perfect time to work on that dream archer for him. It might have been finished already if you didn’t keep starting over trying to make it perfect.

Or do you feel comfortable getting some sleep now too? As scary as it was watching Lawrence earlier, dinner made today perfect. Maybe falling asleep together is the best way to end it…[/b]
Stay up with him, work on that dream archer. The man needs his sleep and there is always more work to do while you watch over him.
Just sleep.

... After we clean up any incriminating evidence, so Brandi won't find anything to tease us about. It wasn't a date!
You go to turn the kitchen lights back on, “If you want to wait a second, I’m going to tidy up in here first. Just so that nobody comes through here and sees uh, the mess…”

Propping his head up on his arm, Lawrence nods and lazily blows out the candles for you. He’s already snoring by the time you get everything put away either where it belongs or to soak in the sink.

By the time you’re satisfied that the special dinner crime scene is cleaned up enough, your own eyes have started to feel heavy.

“C’mon, mister…” you nudge Lawrence on the shoulder before helping him out of the chair. He tries to insist that he can walk on his own, but you firmly keep his arm around your shoulders, “If you trip and fall, there’s no way me or Brandi could get you back up!”

He didn’t really need the extra help to get back to bed. Being able to help him makes you feel a little more accomplished all the same, especially compared to how you have normally been spending your time here anyways.

While you do feel tired, it wouldn’t hurt to stay up for another hour or so. Just to make sure Lawrence isn’t going to accidentally kick you off and over the edge.

As he eases himself back onto the bed, he looks up to silently ask what you’re doing. You come over with a smile and pick up the blanket to tuck him in. “I’ll go to sleep soon too, don’t you worry. But there’s another present I want to finish for you, okay?”

“Don’t have...to.” Lawrence shakes his head.

“Yes I do,” you nod before tossing the blanket over his sitting body anyways, “But I won’t stay up too long. Besides, you’re the one who needs to sleep anyways.”

He doesn’t refuse the offer for more shuteye. By the time you have retrieved the hoop and string and everything else you need for the dreamcatcher, Lawrence has nodded off.

You keep an eye on his slightly flushed face as you take a seat. It’s amazing how he went from trying to thank you for dinner and into a heavy sleep so easily. It’s nice to watch him, but your eyes start to feel heavier by the moment.

“A little bit long—“ you pat yourself in the cheek to try to wake up. For once in a long time, you feel pretty good. Lawrence is safe and sound by your side. Between the red glow of the heater and the soft orange of the lampshade, you can almost call the room cozy.

You start humming gently as you pick up one of the strings between your fingers. And with careful, precise movements, you begin wrapping the dream catcher hoop.


The burnt, mushy remains of the cake remained sitting on the stove. You held the bag of mousse carefully in your hands, mimicking the swirling motion shown to you moments before.

“Almost… I think I have it--” You squeeze out the chilled dessert, teeth clenched tightly together as you try to get it as nice looking as possible. Crockett stands a little bit away, watching the process.

“It’s fine if it’s not perfect,” he tells you while cleaning off his own spoon, “It tastes good enough to make up for it.”

“I know, it’s just that I promised him cake.” Once you’ve filled the wine glass enough, you look at the few crumbs of cake that were salvageable. Carefully, you sprinkle them over the swirl. “Maybe he didn’t get his hopes up too much.”

He laughs and shakes his head, “If he’s going to be a jerk about something you put all this effort into, then he doesn’t deserve it in the first place.”

It still made you worry. The wineglass was covered carefully before being placed in the back of the fridge, hidden away from any first looks. After finding the disaster inside the oven, you had bawled your eyes out about failing. There wasn’t enough to make a second go at it, and you thought that there would be nothing to give.

Crockett was quick to step in and offer a solution. He was a decent enough teacher. He took each step slow and without making you feel like an idiot. You still wished that the cake had turned out, but at least you had something to give Lawrence.
“Oh. Thanks for the help, by the way…” you forced yourself to speak up clearly yet you couldn’t look at him directly. Crockett seemed to accept the thanks as awkwardly as you felt giving it.

“It’s no problem,” he shook his head with a feeble smile, “I’m here to help. Whatever you need I’ll ah...maybe I should stop before I promise too much.” Crockett kicked at the ground nervously with his heel, “But I know you get bored being kept here all the time. Who wouldn’t? I can’t just promise you just anything, but I promise to do the best I can. Or ah, something like that.”

It was easy to tell that he only wanted to do good. And in his silence he would glance up at you, waiting to see if there was anything you wanted to say.

[b] You wanted to try and meet his efforts in this. Besides, it was nice to talk with someone for most of the day. There’s been too many hours you have spent alone here.

You thought about being considerate and just asking to tag along while he does work around the compound. Bug him here and there during it…

Then the idea of going outside sounded refreshing. Fresh air and sunlight and a chance to look at something different for once.

Or as much as you hated it, another driving lesson would be best. Maybe making him help do chores around the place would be less of a headache…

What did you suggest to once making dessert was done?[/b]
im a hack I know I’m sorry, yay for slow board speeds : ^) but also ;_;
Just go outside before we find mold growing on our skin
Head out and get some fresh air.
“Can we go outside, please.”

He looked mildly surprised, “You just want to go in the snow?”

“I would like the fresh air,” you nodded with a side eye towards the mess of the cake pan, “Maybe a hike? Would that be okay?”

“We could probably walk a little bit out by following the road that leads out toward the highway,” Crockett thumbed over his mustache while ruminating on a path in his head, “That’s a good stretch of maybe three or four miles. I don’t imagine you would actually want to walk down all of that and back again.”

“Just until it gets too cold is fine! That probably won’t take long at all,” you nodded eagerly. Not only were you getting to go outside, it was an adventure. As close as adventure as you could have with just walking along a country side road. “Let me get my gloves and jacket on.”

“You should double up on your shirts. Ah, and your socks too! Camilla would kill me if I let you catch pneumonia like this…”

Even if it felt a little overboard, you did as he suggested. Layered a sweater over your shirt and managed to roll a pair of socks over the first set. You didn’t fancy the idea of spending time here sick in bed either.

Scarf wrapped around your neck and face, ears tucked safely underneath a beanie, and a pair of mittens to fight off the chill. Crockett was dressed much more than before, merely donning a jacket and nothing extra.

“Won’t your hands get cold?” you asked and he snapped to action and pulled gloves from the pocket.

Crockett nodded and slipped them on and nodded, “You’re right.”

“What about your ears?” you cupped your own in response. All he did that time was pull the jacket’s collar to cover some of his face. You weren’t going to try and argue with him. In spite of the fact that you were about to go outside, the terrible sense of fight or flight fluttered in your chest. Enough to stomach for the meantime. It was accompanied with guilt. He hadn’t given you a reason to feel afraid, aside from sneaking up on you by accident.
You made sure to keep a slower pace behind him. Crockett would have easily out walked you anyways, but you made sure he wouldn’t try to let you catch up.

“I’m scared of slipping in the snow,” you lied while hiding behind a sheepish smile, “Can I walk in your footprints?”

“Yes… yeah, go ahead. I’ll lead the way.” Crokett answered with a bit more excitement in his voice. You couldn’t understand why, but you didn’t question it for long. Rather than sticking to the section of land behind the compound by the shed like before, you were getting to trek new land. Nothing that exciting to see aside from open plains of snow and the trees that fill the area further down. You quickly had to snuff the exhilarating idea of asking to explore over there.

“I, er…” A couple strides before you, Crockett struggled with trying to speak up.
Out of instinct you asked, “What was that?” It made him flinch in response, as he could no longer pretend that he hadn’t said anything.

“I just uh, I wanted to say that I’m glad you let me do this for you. You’re going to hate having to go back too, I can tell.” He looked back to give a sad little smile before turning to the untouched snow before him, “This is probably what I needed to clear my head anyways. So nice suggestion.”

You continued to step in the indentions he left behind. But as you battled internally with whether or not you should, your walking pace sped up enough to catch up. “You deserve to take a break too sometimes,” you frowned into the scarf, “There’s a lot of people doing a lot of work just for me.”

“It’s not just for you.”

When you looked up perplexed, you were met with the sight of Crockett struggling with himself. His frown tugged into a pained grimace before he heaved his shoulders in defeat.

“I am doing this for you, first and foremost. And I don’t want you to worry about that never being the case.” He scratched at his sideburns in need of trim, his face nor voice showing any pleasure in speaking of this. “But, if this will make you feel better, this won’t be helping just you. If everything goes right, then we’ll end up saving many more.”

“Huh? What do you mean?”

This time he was willing to stay tight lipped. The look on his face said enough. He was already kicking himself for saying what he had already. But even if he didn’t say anything, you could still feel uneasy assumptions. After all, there had been a girl’s body left behind in your burnt room. There had been names of other girls that you were mostly clueless about. Crockett had the photo of one girl that might have looked like you if someone was to squint.
Some of the pieces were painfully clear to you. The body found in the fire had been a living girl like you once--

Crockett had taken several steps forward before he looked back again. You had stopped in place, hunched over while holding yourself. This time you couldn’t put up a smile in time to hide the sick feeling you had.

“Shoot, I should have known it was too cold out here--” he approached quickly but stopped before reaching you. Crockett had promised to keep his space and he was determined to keep it now, despite how difficult it was.

“I really need this fresh air now…” you managed to answer. The spiky, anxious wave that hit your chest began to die down. If he was allowed to, you’re sure Crockett would already have led you back to the compound. Instead you start leading the way forward again. This time it’s his turn to follow a step behind as you made the new tracks.

You could handle news like that. It’s something you have to be able to handle. It’s not just you, or Lawrence or all the people you have met along the way. If there are other girls that are unsafe because of you, then it’s up to you help however you can to make it stop.
You wanted to ask, but did you try to get Crockett to tell you more about the other girls? It’s something that would remind you why you needed to hold out as long as possible.

Or did you take it easy on him and have him tell another story about your mother and aunt.

Or maybe you didn’t make him do the talking this time. Maybe the two of you needed to hear your plans for what will happen when things get better. Something from your aching heart to try and give you two some hope.

What did you say during the hike?
Ask him about the other girls. It might be scary, but Del really should know.
This time you turned back to face Crockett.

“I know you don’t want to scare me, but I hate not knowing what’s going on. I can’t stand it!” You paused to keep from yelling more. The anger wasn’t at him. He was only there to help and lashing out wouldn’t help.

You pawed at the scarf around your neck. It needed to loosen up as it started making you feel claustrophobic. “I think I deserve to know,” you spoke calmer this time, “I deserve to know what’s going on because of me. Please, if you care for me and my mom, let me know what’s happening.”

Crockett didn’t realize it, but you had been merciful just then. Rather than ‘care for’, you had thought about saying ‘love’ instead. But that heavy word was one you would save for later if he wouldn’t budge on this.

And at first, it didn’t seem like he would. But the stern and tightlipped demeanor didn’t stick around long. It fell with a tremble that sent a biting chill up your spine.

“Too many… there’s been too many girls--” Crockett bit into the thick edge of his glove. He was afraid to tell you. The thought alone looked to make him sick to his stomach. And once he could finally explain it, you understood why. You finally understood why he was frightened to bring you out of the dark.

“You have done so well running away. And it was the right choice, okay? No matter what I tell you, please believe that. Keeping away from him was the only choice you had--”
As Crockett worked towards preparing you, and himself, you tried to do the same. You nodded along, telling him that you understood. Inside, you were telling yourself not to freak out. This was something you needed to know. No matter what, you had to prepare to accept it.

“You’ve been chased for so long. He’s even taken your f-freedom away…” His face twists in pain as his teeth sink into the leather. His legs moved with the motion of wanting to pace around but he instead dug and stomped them into the snow. “Yet he can’t just be happy with that. He isn’t just settled with r-ruining one girl’s life-- No, he just has to keep taking more! Even though it doesn’t even make him fucking happy…!”

The monster has taken more.

You started to go lightheaded. It hasn’t just been you getting hurt. That’s something you already knew, but the full realization was starting to rest on your chest.

“We’re pretty sure the l-little girl in the apartment was already dead when they…. When they doused the place and left her to b-burn alone--”

The air outside burnt your lungs as you slowly started gasping for breath. But you kept quiet, and you nodded quietly to make him continue.

“And since then there’s been girls who-- He finds girls from the streets. Runaways. Those with parents who don’t care or can’t do anything about it or have a debt to pay.” There was a snap from the leather as he ripped the glove away from his teeth. His hands stayed at his side instead, curling up into a tight fist. As steady as he attempted to speak he kept his eyes on the snow.
“All this time and money and fucking effort wasted on trying to take you again, and he can’t stop being even greedier. He took away the futures of those girls and just… he just threw them away like trash. All he wants is you. Yet he takes and takes and takes--” Crockett managed to look you in the face this time. It was hard to tell if your heart was being too fast or too slow or simply not at all. Even though you had been fine while walking through the snow, you were freezing on the inside.

“If we can make sure that man has no escape route, no way to get out of paying for what he’s done, then it can come to a stop. We’ve been gathering evidence, been talking to people… bribing and persuading some to work with us. Making arrangements to get a judge that can’t be paid off. Clean record, no means to blackmail…”

Crockett could see this was difficult for you to listen to. But he made the choice you would have wanted. “We’ll bring that bastard in. He won’t be able to run away. He will get thrown behind bars and rot there for his miserable life. And if the rumors are true, he’ll go crazy in there. Absolutely fucking crazy. And they’ll keep him for as long as they can, and he won’t be able to hurt anyone again. No more little girls have to die. You won’t have to be hunted anymore--”

“I… I should have kept hitting him.” You covered your face with mitten hands. Trying to not stumble in place. Doing everything you can to not fall down and throw up. “If I kept hitting him in my r-room then I could have… He would be dead and other girls wouldn’t have to suffer because of me.”

“How were you supposed to know?” The snow began to crunch as he took a step forward, ready to catch you if you did fall. “How could you have been expected to do anything different. This should never have happened to you. If… dammit, if your idiot father hadn’t worked with him--”

“W-...what?” You looked up wide eyed and caught sight of Crockett, his face drained pale. It even seemed like his hair stood on end, like he was looking into the face of a ghost.

“I--” he took a step back, reeling back from the pent up anger and hurt he had been holding in. “I should speak ill of the d-dead, I’m sorry…”

Crockett really couldn’t look at you now. He looked ready for the ground to swallow him whole. And probably begged for it silently as you stared at him,

Did you press him for the information about your father?
We already know that bower was able to get in from his connection to our father. That's why mother let him try to help you.

Let's leave this until mom is safe and back with us
No, Ace. Explain.
It's not like dad allowed it to happen.
“I know he worked with my dad!” your words spat out with a stamp of your foot in the snow, “And that’s why Mom was-- that’s how she was tricked into letting him h-...’help’ us. But it wasn’t Dad’s fault! He wouldn’t have let any of, of that happen! And if you’re trying to say otherwise--”

“I’m not. Don wouldn’t have let it happen, I know!” Crockett answered bluntly. He held his temples as he spoke your father’s name with a pained expression. “Denise knew that, everyone knew that. There were complaints made at the hospital and Don was apparently planning to move away because of Bowers--”

He bit his tongue. You couldn’t help but hold onto the anger of him insinuating this was your father’s fault. Of course that wasn’t what Crockett was trying to say, you’re pretty sure. But feeling angry or anything else was better than overwhelming guilt.

“Maybe it’s something I should talk to Mom about…” you muttered off to the side, “When she’s safe too. Maybe it would be easier for her to tell me everything.”

“She doesn’t know yet.”

Crockett spoke so quickly that you were unsure if he had actually said anything. When he refused to look anywhere but forward, you started to take short steps toward him. “...explain it to me then. What doesn’t she know?”

“Don didn’t have the healthiest habit,” Crockett glanced at you and back down again as he tapped the side of his nose, “But if he had kept those complaints more anonymous than maybe he would still be uh, he would still be around.”
It only left you more confused. That way he spoke made it sound like murder. And that didn’t match up with what you knew at all. Even if you were younger when it happened, you doubt anyone would have kept the fact that it was murder from you.

“I--... wait, Mom doesn’t know yet? What the hell are you talking about?” You didn’t even feel angry anymore. Just dumbstruck.

“Some of the workers at the hospital were busted for selling drugs to one another a while back. Some of it was just pill theft. And some of it was outside stuff being brought in.” Tight lipped and grim faced, Crockett took a knee in the snow. You could recognize this kind of demeanor, especially with the change in his voice as he spoke. Softer, gentle, trying to meet you at eye level to be less frightening.

Years ago, your father approached you in the same way with news of your grandfather’s death.

With a sigh he managed to look up at you again, and this time kept eye contact. Only then did you realize how badly your eyes were burning red hot. Still, you made sure to not break away from him.

“Your mother doesn’t know it yet, I’m pretty sure. But your grandmother…” Crockett would stop when you needed a moment to breathe. He did what he could to help walk you through it, always waiting for you to nod for him to continue. “She had been paying folks to look into Don’s death closer. I don’t think anything concrete came from it—“
He paused again as you held your chest. Your legs buckled weakly and Crockett began reaching out as you too fell to your knees. You could start to guess what he was about to say. But you had to know for sure. No matter how painful,

“It’s okay—“ you held the scarf up to your face to keep yourself hidden and warm, “— please t-tell me the rest.”

Crockett waited despite you giving him permission. And it was perhaps for the best, just so you could prepare your heart. Your hands fall from your face and against the snow as you manage to nod again, this time without tears welling up.

“... I wouldn’t bet against the idea that your father was ah, I suppose poisoned that night.” He reached into his pocket to pull out a proper handkerchief for you to use instead. You took it to finish drying your face. “Denise doesn’t know about this though. When I tried talking to her about it, she was still under the assumption that it came out of nowhere. I don’t know how she might take the news,” his face flashed with a pale green as he spoke, “If— when I do get your mother back, keep it a secret for now. Can you?”

“I’ll um, I’ll t-try…”

“Delilah.” He watched as you buried your face into the handkerchief. “It was too much to tell you, wasn’t it?” he sighed, “I knew better than to put all of this on you. I’m so sorry.”

“I w-wanted to know,” you looked up at him again, “and I think I n-needed to. It’s just, he’s still out there and, and I can’t do anything about it—“

“Not yet sweetie, but you will. And if the people who are supposed to protect you fail, then I’ll do it. Even if I have to fight down to my last tooth and nail, I’m going to make sure you and your mother are taken care of.”

After waiting for you to calm down, Crockett rose back up to his feet. He extended a hand out to you, which you took, in order to stand back out of the snow. As you worked to sniffle and brush off the white from your legs, he asked, “...how are you feeling?”
"I don’t know,” you answered right away, “I’m sad but um, I think I’m mad too. It’s so a-awful and I can’t do anything about it yet--” You had to grit your teeth tight to get over the emotions overwhelming you in waves.

He nodded, “I understand.” Thinking about it for a bit, he had a small smile on his face, “Well, I ah… I don’t know what could help right now. You want to keep walking? We can head back if you want. Or if uh, if you’re angry maybe I can let you take a free hit...”

“What?” you squinted up at him and Crockett pointed at his arm.

“It’s my fault for telling you so much at once,” he apologized sheepishly, “If you’re angry then maybe you can ah, maybe you can work some of that anger out now. I know it’s not a great solution but if it’ll help you feel a little better…” Already, he looked embarrassed by his suggestion, “Or if ah, whatever else might help right now. I’m not sure what young girls like you need, sorry…”

You stood in the snow for a moment to think. The outside air and sun still felt nice, even if you didn’t. But maybe it was time to go back anyways and find something else to do to keep your mind busy. With Crockett so willing to do what you wanted, then it might have been a good time to go poking around the compound anyways.

Or maybe he was onto something, and punching Crockett would make you feel a little better.

Halfway out on your walk, what did you decide to do?

Going out of town for the next few days, so updates will be even more sporadic unfortunately. Will be working on getting the next thread prepped though so that there's not too much of a wait time when we do fall off the board
Maybe like a half-hearted bop to let him know we're not mad at him or anything.
Sure give it to him.

Also reminds me of the receptionist who pulled a gun on us and Lawrence when we went to the office. Every single fucker there knows what's going on.

Maybe a little vacation and a good long talk with them could help Crockett

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