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/qst/ - Quests

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"You might be a smart girl, but you aren't a lucky one"

Meet Delilah; a young girl going through some hard times.

=Links and Information=


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.
"They're worried about Lawrence. They don't want him going out and getting in trouble." The first answer that comes to mind, and probably the best you can come up with right now. There's no need for you to try and hide that fact from Marilyn, and for a brief moment you can see that she's happy with you sharing information with her.

"Why are they worried? He's not sick or something, is he?"

"No, he's not. Er, I don't think so anyways...it's just that it's sometimes hard to figure out what's going on with Lawrence. He can communicate when he needs to, but he thinks that it's a bother for other people. Like I'm pretty sure most of us are pretty good about it, but I think there's been other people in the past that haven't been patient with him, and I think it's made him kind of like, close up. He tries not to be a pain, and that means keeping to himself a lot." Maybe it's not right for you to try and explain his actions like this, but even if it's just to Marilyn you want someone else to know that Lawrence isn't trying to just be shifty or untrustworthy.

"I guess that makes sense. Like, I know talking to him can take a while cause he has to write a lot of stuff down. I get a little bored waiting sometimes, but like...do people really get mad at him for it?"

"Some people I think. Or at least, they don't bother to wait for him and there's not a lot of chances for him to add in to a conversation. But also-" you stop, unsure if you should really say this, "...I think he has trouble opening up in general. So even when he gets the chance to join in, he won't admit something is wrong or something is bothering him. Like, Lawrence thinks he has to do everything all on his own or something. He shouldn't have to and I hope he can kind of learn to be a little more open..."

"Is he um...'open' with you or whatever?" Marilyn asks like she's barely able to understand what you're saying, still a bit too young to understand it completely. "He tells you what's wrong, doesn't he?"

"He doesn't want to worry me either, so I don't think he tells me everything," you hate to admit, "But I wish he would. It scares me when he just goes out there and does whatever. Like, I know he doesn't mean to make us worry, but we do. I do even when I know where he's going..." You withhold the information about the drugs, or how they're worried that Lawrence will end up bring trouble this way. The issue is bigger than you were prepared to deal with yourself, much less trying to explain it to someone else.

"Maybe you two need um, what's it called..." Marilyn pets Buttercup as she thinks, snapping her fingers as the phrase comes to her, "Um, marriage counseling!"

"Wha-...No! We don't need cou-...we're not even married!" During the scolding Marilyn keeps a grin and you know she's just trying to make you feel better about all this. "Where did you even hear about that kind of thing?"


"Well, we're not married. And even if we were, I hope we wouldn't need something like uh,like counseling. Lawrence will learn that he can tell me about stuff." There's a twinge of doubt that runs its path through, and you can't help but to add, "Hopefully..." Feeling uncomfortable by the dip in your mood, Marilyn sets the dog on the ground to let her run around as she gives you a few silent moments.

"Is he going out today?" she finally asks, looking up from where she's knelt.

"For a bit. He's just out seeing his friend and then he's supposed to come back."

"I hope he gets here before Sarah does."

"He's not supposed to be out for too long, so maybe. But after he gets back I'm going to make him stay here," you decide to put your foot down about this issue now, even if Lawrence has no clue about the plans you're making for him, "If he keeps this up, Lawrence is just going to end up overworking himself. When he returns, I'm going to make sure he stays here and doesn't try to run off and do anything else today. I mean, I guess he can help keep a watch out and help John but...but nothing else! He's going to stay put and stay out of trouble."

"Are you suuure you two aren't married?"

"I'm just a good friend. A very good friend."

"Okay, yeah. But grownups always mean weird things when they say stuff like that." Marilyn looks over to the side of the room, where piles of paper and crayons have been pushed aside and out of the way. "Are you going to show it to him when he gets back then?"

"Show him what?"

"The wedding plans Lisa made for you!" Marilyn says, pointing over to where they had been made. "You promised her you would show him!"

"Yeah, but-"

"She'll know if you're lying. Lisa is really good at telling," Marilyn looks as if she speaks from experience now, "And you don't want her to think you're lying."

After things had quieted down yesterday, or rather when you were given the task of keeping the girls away and occupied, Lisa could not wait to show the results of her task. Pages of a scribble wedding, though it wasn't till you came to the page of the bride and groom that you were able to realize who these 'plans' were for. Of course Lisa was asking if you liked them and you said yes. When she asked if you would show 'the guy you're supposed to get married with', you also agreed even if you would end up just shoving the pages away forever.

You thought it was a sweet gesture, but the idea of showing Lawrence them is a bit embarrassing. You're not sure how he would feel about it, and you wouldn't want to make things awkward. Then again, you could just be worrying over nothing. Just explain to him that they weren't your idea, but maybe he'll find them cute or funny anyways.

Do you want to show Lawrence the 'wedding plans' when he returns later today, or just hold on to them for now?

Show him. The worst that happens is he bullies us a bit, right? And in the best case...
Let's just show him, no reason to fret about it now. Maybe he'll think it's just Lisa's childish naivety or something.
"Don't worry, I'll show it to him." you promise, much to her relief. You would have said that anyways to keep from creating a scene, but you mean it. There shouldn't be any problem in showing them to Lawrence, and it'll make the girls happy and, hopefully, leave you alone on the matter.

"Good! Cause there's only two people who can calm her down when that happens. John, and we're not supposed to bother him right now, or..." Marilyn's face falls somber before she finishes her thoughts and you can't help but feel the same, "...or Jessica."

"It'll be fine. I'll show him when he gets back. Alone. And you guys have got to stop trying to spy on other people, it's rude and you could get in trouble."

"I haven't gotten in trouble for it yet~"

"Yeah, that's cause you always run off before I can do anything."

"That's cause I'm too good. I can outrun anyone." Marilyn is trying to sound proud, but the tinge of gloom remains. You're just waiting for the time either girl asks you about the missing people in the group, and though you try to prepare you doubt that when the time comes you'll be ready.

"Oh, shoot. Speaking of Lisa, I hope she's not bothering the guys too much," changing the subject, you point to the hall, "But just in case, let's go see if we need to save John from her."


Marilyn follows behind obediently, and as you make it down the stairs you can't help but look over at where Aria and Mabel were speaking. When Lawrence gets back, you'll make sure to take him somewhere to speak privately and warn about what you overheard.

Thankfully, John had managed to convince Lisa to let him sit down while she talks. You can't help but worry about being caught eavesdropping, trying to relax when you realize it's a secret between you and Marilyn.

"Ah, Law? I know you're about to leave in a bit, but could you do me a favor?" John asks as Lawrence finishes his breakfast, "Could you take Aria's spot over there? Just keep an eye out for a bit so she can help me change my bandages. I'd appreciate it." Lawrence agrees and gets up, nodding at you and Marilyn as he moves to the living room. Upon seeing the return of the both of you, Lisa moves off John's lap to bounce on her heels giddily.

"Guess!" she says while looking ready to burst with excitement, ""Guess! Guess Guess!"

"We can't guess if you don't give us any hints." Marilyn responds. You give a quick wave to John as he stands up to go to the restroom, trying to notice if his limping is getting any better.

Lisa can't keep her giggles in as she finally blurts out, "I'm princess of this house! John said so!"

"Oh...?" you respond, Marilyn trying not to laugh.

"Yeah! I asked if the owner was going to get mad that we were here and John said there was no owner and I asked if I could be the owner and he said no but that I could be the princess!" Lisa exclaims all in one breath, exhausting all her words at once. "So now I'm the princess of the place!"

"I didn't vote for you."

"You don't vote for princesses Lyn!" Lisa looks sure of herself but leans in close to you to ask, "Wait, do they have to get voted?"

"No, they aren't." you respond and she smiles in victory.

"I told you! So I'm princess of this house and you have to be nice to me and do what I say. But John said I have to be nice, so I will be."

This conversation will probably keep the two girls occupied for a bit, and while you know that staying with them might be a good idea, you can't help but look over to where Lawrence is sitting by the window. He'll have to head out soon, and you'll have to wait till he's back to talk with him. But at least you know if you do go over right now, you'll get to talk with him alone...that is, as long as the girls really do keep to themselves in the mean time.

What do you want to do?

Let's go talk with him. He'll be gone again soon and even if we just get to ramble about how weird the word 'moist' is or ask him if he's ever had a pet rat itll be nice to just... be around him.
Be near Lawrence, at least take our mind off of other things and sorta... tide us over until he gets back. Hopefully he's not going to be staying out for hours this time.
There isnt much to do right now that would be worth while.
Lawrence is about to leave soon
The girl are just gonna bicker like little girls do
I say we just go and take a nap till for an hour or two
Trusting the girls to behave on their own, you leave Marilyn to wage her independence against the newly crowned 'princess', you meander to where Lawrence is sitting. Though you aren't making too much noise, you can't help but notice that he doesn't look in your direction at all. Barely peeking through the blinds, it looks like he's staring intensely at whatever sits outside. Not wanting to break his concentration, you do your best to look past his shoulder and out the small gap in the window. Seeing only street, you move enough to just watch the tail end of a car drive off. Nothing that seems out of the ordinary, you try to figure out what else Lawrence could be fixated with.

Releasing the blinds so they close, he turns to note your appearance finally, wordlessly asking if there's something you need.

"I'm just hanging out over here, for a bit I mean. If that's okay, I don't have to-" Despite the offer, Lawrence lets you know that it's fine for you to stick around. Taking the empty spot next to him on the couch, you don't say a word and allow him to get back to what he was doing. You consider telling him about the conversation you overheard, but decide that's something that should be done alone.

"It looks a little warmer outside," you muse, not wanting to sit there awkwardly but unsure of what to say either. "But I still hope you're dressed up in the warmest clothes you have. If you get sick, I'm going to scold you every time I have to feed you chicken soup." Even though you were just trying to be joking you feel guilty for nagging him like this. You remember Dad hating that, yelling at Mom so much to the point that she quickly learned to keep her mouth shut on what he was doing. That is, till the alcohol gave her back the courage to speak up again.

"It's um..." you fidget with your hands, trying to think of ways to rectify your actions, "You don't have to bring me back anything. Just try to come back as soon as you can. And um, when you do you can just hang out here, with me, if you want. Or like, just rest for the rest of the day. I just don't want you too overworked, you know? So um, yeah...just come back as soon as you can please." Lawrence begins to reach out, either to pat your head or give your hand a squeeze or anything comforting, but withdraws when Aria rushes to the kitchen with her hands full. It's not right to blame anyone in the room, but the denial of affection leaves you feeling defeated.

With the sound of the kitchen sink to drown our what little your voice could be heard in the distance, you still take the aftermath of the defeat to whisper.

"Please come home as soon as you can. I love you." Refusing to even look in his direction, you swallow the disgrace you feel over being so needy. Worried about hurting yourself, you force the hands twisting in front of you to move to either side on the couch. In the cover of where you two are sitting, Lawrence places his hand over yours in a quick gesture of a promise. Not the same as what you would have gotten earlier, but you eagerly accept it all the same. It's fine if he doesn't ever say anything sometimes, even small acts like this make it feel like things can be okay, even for a bit.

When the warmth of his hand leaves yours the room feels more frigid than it did before.

Hiding the shivers, you finally take notice of Aria's frantic motions in the kitchen. Telling Lawrence that you'll check on it, you return to the kitchen to find Marilyn standing at Aria's side.

"Come on, I can do it! Let me help!" she pleads, an open first-aid kit on the counter.

"No, let me just handle this..." Aria is drying her hands now, turning to look through the kit.

"He's bleeding right? I can help you with that! Poppy showed me how!" Marilyn argues, Lisa sitting at the table and watching the commotion unfold before her.

"Just hold on-wait, you back in here?" Just glancing over her shoulder, you are beckoned over to Aria. "I might need a favor from you..."

"What's up?" you try to hide the caution and fear in your voice, looking between her and Marilyn. The younger girl shoots you a pleading look, obviously wanting to help with this task.

"It's nothing way too serious but uh," Leaning in so it doesn't reach too young ears, Aria whispers to you, "John's wound kind of reopened or something. I'm trying to get the bleeding to stop, but I might need help with keeping pressure on it. Can you lend me a hand?"

W-we can help. But we're not too good with blood so is it ok if we wear a dampened cloth around our nose and mouth first?
If John's willing to trust us, then we can do it. It won't be comfortable, but... we need to learn to control ourselves.
It maybe a good idea to get some blood before hand but we dont really have a way of doing that so lets just try to keep a level head an bail it too much to handle
With some hesitation, you finally nod in agreement to the request. Marilyn's head falls in disappointment and you try to find something else to occupy her time.

"Try to make sure she stays in here," you instruct and point over to Lisa, "It wouldn't be good if she was trying to run around and got in our way-"

"Okay we need to get started!" Aria rushes you, grabbing your arm with the needed supplies in the other. Mabel comes in with a confused look as you two walk past.

"Whoa babe, what's wrong?"

"John's wound o-...we're just dressing his injury right now."

"Well hey, do you need help cause-"

"No! You have work soon and you don't need to go there blo-...dirtied!" Aria is blunt, not even stopping to look at her girlfriend. You want to stop and offer a better explanation of what's happening, but find yourself being pulled away to the bathroom before this can happen. Right at the archway of the door, the smell of blood hits you near almost violently and you stop in place, retching back a couple feet.

"Wait, what's wrong?" Aria asks, already going in to kneel beside the tub.

"What's up, you bring someone to help?" John looks past her in surprise of who she chose to bring along. Considering backing out, you stop upon noticing that he's holding down on his hip in an attempt to stop blood flow. The smell all confined to the one room, it smells almost too good that it makes you want to retch. Taking a couple breaths before speaking, you grab one of the many napkins Aria brought for the project and run it under the water.

"J-Just give me a second," you reassure, "The sm-...smell can kind of make me d-dizzy..."

"Well if I had known that I'd probably just have let Marilyn help. Don't have to push yourself."

"You sure you can handle it missy?" John asks slowly, knowing fully where the real problem lies.

"I can help...!" the words you force out sound heated, but in reality you're just scared. Breathing through your mouth in an attempt to keep as much of the smell out, you place the cold and wet napkin over your face. It chills your skin, and while the scent remains it doesn't seem so overwhelming, not like you're being submerged in it. With a wordless thumbs up to show that you're ready, Aria moves over to show where she needs you. Pants pulled down and out of the way, blood has begun to coat his skin and the side of the tub, fresh and bright red.

"Just hold this down here for a bit, we need to clean it too. Erm, I think anyways...yeah. Yeah that sounds right..." Aria looks over this all confused, moving her hands out of the way so you can take over the task. Under your hand John flinches under the pressure and you almost pull away. Repeating to yourself that it will be fine, you continue pressing down.

"Sorry bout all this..." John apologizes, "Must have moved wrong or nicked it, should stop soon..."

"It's cause you're always pacing when you shouldn't be," scolds Aria, pouring a cleaning solution to a rag, "You really need to sit still and in place, or else it's just going to tear up again."

"Yes ma'am."

"I'm not old enough to be called ma'am." Aria responds, sounding like they've been down this path before.

"Would you prefer girly?" John tries to grin, and you do everything to continue sitting upright. The smell is making you dizzy, trying to beckon you in. The red is much too appealing and rather than close your eyes you instead try to focus on the tiled wall in front of you.

"I would not! Now um, lets see where we're at..." Aria stands by waiting, finally nudging you when you don't move, "You don't have to hold it down right now, I need to take a look." Realizing that you'd been so focused on not looking at the blood, you instantly move back as if you had been doing something wrong.

"How's it lookin'?"

"I think it's finally stopping, let's just wipe some of this away now..." Aria gets to work cleaning away the blood to see how it is now, and you stand back with only the bloodied rag on hand, napkin against your face.

You could easily pocket the rag, take it with you and get what you can from it without anyone else being any wiser. It'd make you feel better and no one would be hurt...

Or maybe you should just satisfy yourself with licking off what's on your hand instead. The rag might be too much, but whatever blood you get off your hand might be just the right bump you need, even if it doesn't last too long.

Despite all your wants to give in, there's still a little voice in your head warning that maybe you shouldn't...but the voice isn't the one who has to deal with this. You are.

What do you want to do?
Just... pocket the rag. We can beat ourselves up about it later.

This is for the better, anyway. Tide us over until Sam comes back and figures out what to do.
Grab the rag
Good source of blood
We need that shit

We already broke our promise not to feed again for awhile. We need to fight this and deal with it otherwise it might not be able to work out more about this whole blood drinking thing.
>*we* might not be able

How do type
Better than getting migraines and making everyone worry
If Sam was actually around to see how our withdrawal progresses we could forego the blood
Crumbling it in your fist, you resist the urge to shove you face in the rag and shove it away in a pocket instead. Can't let anyone see you doing this, and not that you'd want them to watch anyways. It's a dirty feeling in your chest, as if you were feeling guilty of stealing something. Your guilt doesn't hide away when you're called back to jump in the line of duty, returning pressure to the bullet hole one last time before it gets cleaned. You continue to cover your face with the rag, much looser this time though. Maybe you'd grown accustomed to the stench or maybe knowing that if you can take some time alone, you'll be able to get the taste you want so bad right now. The wave of vertigo doesn't lessen any and you're grateful all the hard work is up to Aria.

"Okay, move it away and I'm just going to use this, I hope I'm supposed to use this..." Aria instructs you to move your hand, replacing it with a damp rag. Instantly John seizes up, his muscles slowly letting go as the pain ebbs away.

"Dammit, that's somethin' smart..." John mutters, holding back any urge to reach out and pull it away.

"I think it'd hurt worse if it gets infected," Aria responds, looking over the redness, "Better to deal with this pain now rather than later, right?"

"Suppose so..." John sinks back against the tub, letting her work freely. You continue to stand there, face covered and eyes glued to the same red that Aria is trying to clean away. "You alright there, missy?"

"Y-...yeah, I'm fine. I should j-just um..."

"Step out for a moment?" he asks and you nod, jumping to your feet. "I think Aria here can handle it on her own now, if you need to take a breather." It sounds less like a suggestion and more like an order, but you accept it either way. Pinching your nose shut now, you race out and away, back towards the kitchen where you can't be tempted to look back inside. From where he sits, Lawrence looks up with concern and ready to come over. Leaning by the sink, you shake your head quickly and try to recall the proper hand motions.

'Blood' you sign before turning on the sink and thrusting your hands beneath the freezing water. You watch almost pitifully as the small amount of red drains away, but remembering all too soon what awaits in your pocket. Maybe you'll change your mind later, but for now you have something that can make you feel better.

The headache starting will be begging for it later.

Marilyn watches from the table, slumped over and grumpy. The younger girl seems to be entertained by the dry cereal in front of her, exchanging playing with it and eating it equally.

"How did it go?" Marilyn asks, though instead of concerned her voice holds envy.

"It was fine..." you answer breathlessly, trying to overcome the spinning in your head.

"Did he make it?"

"He's fine..."

"Was there a lot of blood?"

"Y-...it was okay."

"Did it scare y-"

"Everything was fine!" you snap, gripping the counter now. Feeling frustrated and confused, seconds pass before you realize what just happened. Barely looking over, you can see the shock that still lingers on Marilyn's face, even earning a startled look from Lisa. Water still running in front of you, hands clean but stained with the smell and a napkin covered in John's blood tucked away in your pocket, it feels like the whole world is judging you. This isn't normal behavior for someone, you're being a freak right now.

"S-...Sorry...!" you choke out, leaning against the counter for support right now. Chest tightening up and your eyes burning, you try to remind yourself that nothing bad is happening, that everything is okay and you'll get through this just fine.

"Are you sick...?" Lisa asks tentatively, shrinking away in her chair.

"F-Fine...I'm fine," you clutch at your shirt, feeling your hand shake, "I'm okay, I need to be okay..."

How stupid of you, getting all anxious and worked up over this. A normal person wouldn't have something like this happen, only someone like you. Only someone like you, who isn't normal or wanted. You only cause a bother, and here you are doing it again.

These thoughts run over and over in your head, keeping you from catching your breath.

The instinct to flee is strong, it's either that or to collapse here.

You feel like running to an empty room, look yourself in the closet maybe.

The idea of talking to someone sounds terrifying, even if it might help you.

The rag in your pocket is begging to be pulled out, that would make you feel better right now.

What do you do?
Maybe a hug from Law will calm us down
If no then it would be best if we could get some alone time
Let's head upstairs while the blood is still fresh, maybe grab a pill for John so it seems less... suspect.

Though a hug might seem awkward
Maybe after?
"I-...I-I'm going to g-get John his m-medicine..." you stammer before dashing out of the room. Face and body heating up, you don't even try to look at Lawrence as you clamor up the stairs. Chest tightening further and lungs burning, you practically slam close the door to the other bedroom. You'd have loved to throw yourself at Lawrence, to let him tell you that things are fine and that these feelings will pass. With a trembling hand you pull the rag out, watching the drying blood for only a second before it's pressed against your face.

The smell alone almost enough to be intoxicating right now, feeble legs crouch down in an attempt to keep stable as you force yourself to show restraint.

You don't need much, just enough to calm you down.

You should make this last, you'll never know when the next time will come.

Just a little taste, enough to get you through this.

Enough to make you calm, otherwise you wouldn't even consider it right now.

Finding a corner that still remains fresh, the material finds its way between your lips and the earthy taste comes soon after. It's not the same as getting it from the source, and though the tingles and rush come it feels like a mere imitation of what you've had before. Not that you're ready to complain, even this pale buzz is better than you trying to get through this alone. Pulling the rag from your mouth to look at the newly dampened spot you are only comforted by the fact that there are no one around to witness your deplorable state.

Hunched over, a dirtied rag gripped in your hands, and doing everything you can to not strip it clean of the blood you so desperately crave- you feel humiliated by your weakness in this moment. before your will can further break away, you go to stash the rag away in your bag, keeping it safe for any other desperate moments like this. Fighting back tears and trying to keep your face clear with a sleeve, you pull out another pill for John and pocket it. You can't even trust yourself to go in the bathroom to give it to him now, he'll have to come out before you even dare to approach him again.

Finding that the wetness on your cheeks are from tears, and thankfully not bright red, you take a moment to try and compose yourself again. You'd rather not have to try and explain why helping would have made you cry, you don't even want to have to try and explain your behavior earlier. Facing anyone right now is unappealing, the feeling growing as you continue to try and wipe away tears. You hate crying, but most importantly you hate letting others see you cry. Even if no one mentions it, you know that's all that will be on their minds. The fact that you could only explain what's wrong to two of them doesn't help, and even then you don't want to have to mention it. It's a terrible 'disorder' that you have, one that needs to just be hidden away.

Can you keep going through this for the rest of your life?

In instinct you reach for the bag again, ready to dig through it. Right away, you remind yourself that even if Ms Buttons was still here, she'd probably do little to comfort you now. It's nothing something that you can just close your eyes and cover you ears to ignore, nothing a stupid toy can get you through.

It'd be hard to lie and say you wouldn't like her back though.

Making sure your face is cleared of the offensive crimson, you force a stiff upper lip and head back downstairs again. Knowing that you'll eventually have to face the girls again, you take a not so sudden detour back over to the window and plop down next to Lawrence again. You don't say anything, not even when he finally tears himself away from the window to look back and see what's wrong. Trying to say what feels wrong, the words won't come up and you only cover your face with the sleeve again, sniffling as you try to talk.

"C-..Can I have a h-h-hug?"

Being pulled in close, you remind yourself to not cry. Or once you listen, channeling all the shakes to your hands as you hold on to Lawrence. From off and behind you can hear the noise of Aria helping John back out, leading him to the living room. As the footsteps draw closer the hold of Lawrence's hands loosen, finally move away from you entirely. Being pushed away so curtly startles you, but you accept what you got as being good.

"See? Wasn't anything I couldn't handle," Aria announces as she lowers John to the seat, "Just a little inconvenience. We have it under control though, don't we?" Not getting a response from John she tries to play it off with a nervous laugh.

"Oh u-um, here.." you fumble about in your pocket, trying to get your breathing under control. Nearly dropping the pill to the floor you present it out to John. "I went and got this for you." John stares at the white oval and, in an incriminating way, over your face before plucking it from your hand.

"Thanks for the help back there, know that stuff makes you nervous." he says before swallowing the pill down.

"If I'd known it was that bad, I would have just let Marilyn help at that point, or Mabe- Shoot! Did she leave already?" Aria turns for the kitchen in an attempt to reach her girlfriend before she disappears. You watch the archway, feeling a pit grow in the bottom of your stomach. Better to get this over sooner than latter, you get up.

"I'm going to go check on the girls..." you excuse yourself, the ever slight buzzing in your head making it hard to walk straight. Walking slowly, the sight of the table comes in to view. Glancing between you and the table, Marilyn remains in her place before turning to face away.

"I'm sorry..." she mumbles and you feel regret pull at your heart.

"It's not your fault," you say, sitting down. Pausing, you find the living room surprisingly quiet with John in there but continue on with your apology, "I was just...just feeling weird. Being around blood kind of...kind of scares me. I was trying to calm down from it, you didn't do anything wrong."

"..." Marilyn remains silent, kicking her feet under the table. From being her small pile of cereal, Lisa watches the scene unfold before abruptly banging her fists against the table. Earning both attentions she rises up and points at you.

"Grounded!" She announces.


"You're grounded!" Lisa repeats, crawling on to the table so she can sit up and above you, "For being mean!"

"I don't think you ca-"

"Princess order!"

Looking for support from Marilyn, she only shrugs and repeats, "Princess order."

"Okay wait, how are you going to ground me?" you ask, making Lisa think it over before she shrugs.

"I dunno," she answers, "I've never been grounded before."

"Me neither," Marilyn chips in before adding, "Well, not with Poppy anyways."

"Umm..." Lisa brainstorms briefly, giving up to crawl over and whisper to you, "Have you been grounded before?"

"Pfft yeah, what'd you do to get grounded," Marilyn grins, "If you tell me, I'll tell you."
When we were younger, back when mom wasn't... sick all the time, we'd... borrow her makeup and try to make ourselves pretty like her.

Supporting as well.
"Uh well there was this one time," you think over the event carefully, something you haven't done in a long while, "I was like way younger, and I'd get into my mom's makeup a lot. This one year she got this really cute bag to keep all her supplies in, and a lot of times I would sneak into it and over what she had." This was back before she had began looking so haggard, when the beauty supplies were used to accent features not cover them up.

"Did you end up trying stuff on?" Marilyn asks and you nod, watching as Mabel gives her girlfriend a quick goodbye kiss before heading out.

"Usually I'd just play with her mascara or eyeliner a bit. And like, she'd only scold me a little bit cause I'd have some on my face, but not a lot. But this one day she left me home alone for a little bit, I think she went to the store for half an hour? Anyways, I ended up getting into her makeup bag again cause I was bored. And I had found a picture from her wedding day too, so I brought that with me as I spread everything out on the floor. Maybe cause she was so young looking, but I remember Mom looking nice in her wedding dress, and I wanted to look nice like her," Sitting up, you start to motion all over your face, "I got it everywhere, it was an absolute mess and so was I. I tried copying what she did in the picture, but I didn't know any better. I looked awful and I was ready to clean it up but Mom got home before I could. She found me on her bedroom floor, caps off of everything with all this color smeared across my face and her picture and mirror sitting in front of me. I don't think she would have cared that badly, but I really messed up the new container of lipstick she just bought. I'm pretty sure if that had been safe then she wouldn't have grounded me for a month." Or if she had an easier time at home, you doubt it was just the makeup that made her breakdown and cry later that day, but you'll keep that to yourself.

As the story continues the smile of Lisa's face grows, her eyes growing wider as she comes up with a plan.

"Let's go play with makeup." she says, missing the point of the story.

"I don't think Aria would be very happy with that..." Marilyn warns but Lisa redirects her punishment.

"You're grounded!" Lisa announces, Marilyn getting ready to defend herself when you jump into the conversation again.

"Hey, I told you about the time I got grounded, your turn."

"Oh, me?" Marilyn points at herself before shrugging it off, "I was playing hooky and my parents found out."

"You were skipping school? That young?" Before all this, the idea of trying to skip school would never have crossed your mind. As silly as it may be, you'd been worried that if you did end up skipping school one day that the police would instantly know and come find you. Judging where you are now though, that no longer seems like a viable fear.

"Yeah, right before Pappy and Granny took me in. I didn't like going to school any more cause there were these girls there," Marilyn wrinkles her nose at the memory, "They were always so rude to me, even when I was trying to be their friend in the beginning. I stayed home one day though, cause they said during recess they'd show me how to make my eyes round and I got scared. Mom didn't want me staying home anymore, so I'd walk out like I was going to the bus and then hang around the neighborhood."

"But they uh, they found you?"

"Dad went out to go get something to drink or something and saw me hanging around a couple blocks down. He took me home so fast and they both yelled at me for hours, especially after they called the school and found out how long I'd been doing it. They grounded me from everything for a whole month, and even though I wasn't allowed to I snuck out the phone to call my Granny and cry about everything that was happening."

"You had to go back to school again?"

"Yeah. I hid from those girls for a few days, but they found my hiding spot once during recess. They took me behind the building where the teacher couldn't see, and two of them held me down and the other girl she like...she held my eyes way open and had this caterpillar or something on her finger. She was going to put it on my eye so they'd look right," Marilyn looks down at the tile, feet still kicking away freely, "I was really scared, but I think that helped me escape from the first two girls. I should have ran, but I was so upset about my parents not listening and what these girls were doing, I ended up punching that one girl. She fell to the ground and I remember just hitting her a lot, they finally brought the teacher around to break up the fight."

"Did you explain to them what was going on?"

"I tried, but they all just said I was beating up that girl for no reason. That's what they told my parents too, and I got um...I got grounded again.." it sounds like Marilyn is hiding something uncomfortable and you become feel thankful that neither of your parents believed in spanking with a belt, "They wouldn't believe me either. I told Granny and Pappy about it though...Granny was so mad, she went to the school to complain. And like she knew English alright enough, but I don't think they were very nice to her either. Pappy tried too, but they wouldn't remove my suspension. So after I started living with them they had me switch schools right away."

"Jeez..." you say, feeling even worse about yelling at her now, "Like, I got picked on a bit but never like that..."

"And at my next school I guess I ended up kinda mean..." Marilyn admits quietly, "I didn't want to be mean, but um...I guess I was worried about being picked on again. I just didn't want them to think I was a crybaby, but they just called me a bully, and then I was home schooled."

"So you had a mommy and daddy?" Lisa asks, the only thing she picked up from the story.

"Yeah," Marilyn rests her chin against the table, apathetic about the subject, "Somewhere out there."

"What about you?" The question is redirected and you nod.

"My dad died a few years ago, but my mom is in a hospital here in town." you explain, trying not to think about either too much lest you ruin the small buzz you have.

"He died?" Lisa says wistfully, body slumping down with the mood, "That's sad."

"It's okay, it happened a few years ago."

"Okay," she nods, close to understanding. She looks around, searching for her next question before speaking again, "I don't remember my mommy and daddy."

"At all?" you ask, regretting it as soon as the words come out.

"Nope," Lisa shakes her head, "I don't think so. Um, there was an old guy. He was mean and smelly, I didn't like him. He would throw things at me and wouldn't share his food. I drank out of his cup once. It looked like water but it didn't taste like it, it was gross and I threw up and he got mad. And then umm...um, I don't remember what happened after that."

"But now you know nice people here?" you ask, hoping to keep the mood positive.

"Lotsa nice people! I only got hit once, and I got to hit Tom back!" Lisa giggles at the memory but there's a lurch in her stomach. She seems so young still, you can't imagine someone smaller going through any of that. You may not have any idea what her living conditions were like before, or the type of people she was around, or what she went through, but if it was enough for her to be so easily snatched away and this becoming her safe haven you can't possibly imagine what it would have been like.

As you contemplate this is a strange feeling silence, Lisa waits by patiently while trying to remain quiet, waiting to get your attention.

"What's up?" you ask and it takes several tries for her question to come out.

"Umm..." she stammers before getting to the meat of it, "Everyone has a mommy and daddy right? Do I have one?" Lisa gasps excitedly and leans forward, words spilling out so quickly they're almost intelligible, "Do you think I'll get to meet them? Do you think they remember me? Do you think they'll still love me?"

Of course she has parents. And they have to love her, right? What kind of parent wouldn't love their little princess?

We're sure that she'll get to meet them someday if that's what she really wants.
Sure, everyone has parents. She can try looking them up one day if she really wants to, but home is where the heart is.

No sense in lying and feeding into her childish naivety, but outright telling her that her parents might not have been the best people wouldn't help either.
"Well I mean, of course you have parents. Otherwise you wouldn't even be like, alive!" you know what Lisa is really trying to ask though, and you're trying to watch the next words carefully, Marilyn watching your every move and hoping that you can handle this accordingly, "Just because you don't know them now it doesn't mean you can't find them when you're older. I'm sure they'd like that too. But uh, even if you don't, that's fine too. You like people here, you're happy and all so you can like, be happy with us, right?" Lisa considers it over before nodding slowly.

"But I can still look for my mommy?" she asks and you nod.

"Yeah wh-, wait. I thought you mentioned your mom before? Or that like, you were living at her place or something?" you wait for an answer, Lisa looking confused and thinking it over.

"Um...I don't know. There was a lady there..." Lisa recounts, "And that man said she was mommy, but she didn't look like one."

"Why didn't she look like one?" She shakes her head.

"She um, she looked like..." Lisa looks around the room for a bit, looking for anything to illustrate her point. "Um...she looked like you."

"Wait, like me?" you ask, watching as she nods. "What do you mean she looked like me?"

"Um...um she had different hair though. But! But she was um! You know..." unable to come up with the correct words Lisa starts to gesture over your body, trying to make clear her thoughts.

"She was...?"

"Um...short! Your size!" Lisa exclaims, finally coming up with the right idea, "And she was um, she was gone a lot. I think we shared a mattress...um, and she would leave in the morning and come back later in the day...she carried about a big backpack too."

"She was going to school?" Marilyn asks the question you were afraid to, "How old was she?"

"Uh..." Lisa just points at you again and shrugs. "I called her mommy once and she didn't like it. It made her cry, so I don't think she was mine. Oh! What if we have the same mommy?"

"Oh right, maybe she could have been a siste-"

"But that man said she was my mommy..." Lisa thinks it over, "He smelt bad and had a lotta bottles everywhere and was big and fat. I didn't like when he came to sleep on the mattress, so he hugged her a bunch. I don't think she liked him either..."

"Do you know her name...?" you're scared to hear any more, Lisa looking unfazed by all this.

"I um...I don't remember. I don't remember a lot. I didn't like that place." It's probably for the best if she didn't, her already jumbled memories given you more than enough of a peek to tell you what she went through.

"Me either." Marilyn adds in, sticking out her tongue as a disgusted look comes over her face. "I bet those were beet bottles. My dad had a bunch in the backyard and kitchen. They stink, I hate them."

"That's alright if you don't remember right now," you say, giving a small wave as Lawrence comes into the kitchen and begins washing his face in the sink. "When you get older, then you can try and remember her name. If she isn't your mom, then maybe she'd know where she is."

"Do you think she'll mind if I'm a princess?"

"Nah, I'm sure they'll be really proud." You look back over to Lawrence, watching as he raises up from the stream of water and watches the wall in front of him. Ready to speak out to him, you stop yourself short. He looks deep in thought, letting the water run down the sink wastefully as he remains still and silent.

"Oh, do you want a towel or something?" Marilyn asks, jumping up from her seat, "I think I know where one is."

"Bunny!" Being called to attention so suddenly, you jump back in your seat upon looking forward again, nose coming within centimeters of Lisa's.

"Jesus, what?" you ask, trying to make sure you don't sound too scared. It takes a couple tries to grab his attention, but Marilyn finally manages to hand over her offering of a washcloth to Lawrence. Satisfied with having your attention again, Lisa allows some space between the two of you again before speaking up again.

"I wanna be a mommy when I grow up," she states, "And Lyn does too-"

"Only if I find a nice doctor!" Marilyn corrects quickly, becoming red in the face, "And if um, if I'm not too busy helping people at the hospital..."

"Buuut..." Lisa draws it out, trying to add suspension to a question you can already guess.


"What about you? Are you gonna be a mommy?" You open your mouth, ready to give a generic 'yes' answer to make her happy, but the sight of Lawrence by the sink makes you feel weird about that answer. Your stomach tightens as you think of an answer for the waiting ears.

A month ago it might have been a nice thought, but now it's just... uncomfortable. Let's just say it might be nice down the line, when we hopefully have a permanent roof over our head or something.
We need more info about our "situation" before we can risk haveing kids.
Im sure we would love to have kids with Law but there are too many variables.
No need to make them interested in what's happened to us that makes us more averse to the idea
That'd be an awful experience for everyone
Hey quick question when is Delilah's birthday again?
Also last name while im at it
January 21st, Esposito.
Who's this slut

That is us
"Um, a couple weeks ago I'd probably have said y-...yeah," you try not to stumble on your words, knowing that Lawrence is listening, "I mean, I would like to. But, but not now. And I think it would be a um...long...long while before I'm r-...ready..." Stressing the last few words, you make sure your intentions are clear to the one person it matters to. The water is finally cut off and Lisa tries to understand the sudden dip in the mood.

"Why? You'd be a good mommy." she asks, and as the reasons start passing by in your head a growing weight is placed on your shoulders.

"I'm...I'm just not ready for it," you reveal, shocking no one but the children, "...it wouldn't be fair for a baby. Y-...you should only have one when you're ready and this..." you motion around the house, coming to rest on your chest next, "Isn't 'ready' for anything like that, and neither am I." The weight falls from your shoulders yet you still feel crushed by this admittance. Maybe this thought had finally set in, yet a reminder on how you're not normal. Girls are supposed to look forward to it but right now the idea only brings you fear and bad memories.

"Yeah. I'm not ready either," Marilyn takes over the silence, sitting back in her chair, "Cause like...Pappy says I'm going to have to read a lot to become a doctor, and I'm going to have to read them myself. And they're going to be boring and I'm going to have to concentrate, and I'm already lousy at that. But then you guys run around playing, and I really can't concentrate. And babies cry loud, so there's no way I could keep a baby in the house and learn how to become a doctor at the same time! Plus I can't bring a baby to a surgery room, that'll just have to wait."

"Umm, and I guess I'll need a job," Lisa begins to ponder, "Just in case I don't like this princess thing..."

"Yes yes!" Aria announces, finally breaking in on the conversation, "You ALL should wait many, many MANY years before having babies! Cecilia is enough!"

"But Cel-..Cecilia isn't here right now." Hearing her say it, you can just Marilyn's heart break, guilt and shame overcoming her. You can't imagine any way it could have been her fault that Cecilia isn't here yet, but the guilt she had before still clings to her.

"N-No, she's not here now," Aria comes over, hands on Marilyn's shoulders in attempt to comfort her, "But she will be soon. And then you can help all of us take care of her, alright?" Lisa nods, but Aria has to continue comforting, trying to stop her from crying right there. You feel lost, unable to think properly and offer some sort of help. Elbows on the table and sinking into your hands, you catch a glimpse at Lawrence as he stares at you. There's pity on his face, and though he means it in a sincere and honest way you can't help but feel upset about it.

Oh poor you, having all these problems that everyone has to deal with

Turning away from him, you try to get your mind on anything else.

"What time is Mabel supposed to come back today?" you have nothing more to ask, Aria feeling almost too awkward to answer as she dries Marilyn's face.

"Oh um -hold still, you're alright- I think around uh...three? Maybe four...she'll be back by five for sure though. Kind of a long shift, but that just means more hours on the payroll." Aria tries to sound hopefully at the end, attempting to get Marilyn to return her smile. Not happening anytime soon, hers fades down smaller as she stands up. "Um, alright. Law? You're about ready to leave, yeah? Guess I better get back into place, did you see anything out there?"

Lawrence looks ready to write, stopping and looking a bit lost before shaking his head. Give a quick wave for goodbye, Aria helps him exit the window and locks it back in place for him. Your buzz feeling more like an annoyance with each second, you head continues to hang down limply.

"I um, I'm not feeling too good. I think I need to take a nap...is that okay?" you ask, Aria nodding as she helps Lisa down from the table.

"Yeah, you must still be feeling bad from earlier. I'm real sorry about that, I won't do that again I promise." You nod in acceptance of the thanks, rising from the table. Marilyn refuses to look over, trying to hide her red and teary eyes. Figuring the time will pass by quicker if you're asleep anyways, you trudge up the stairs. As you ascend you take another look at John sitting in the living room, noting how even with his eyes closed he's stewing in his thoughts. A nap would be nice right now, you'll feel better and everyone else will be in a better mood and it won't be long till Lawrence is back.

You consider the mattresses in the nursery first, but forfeit to the other bedroom instead. Living on the floor is the prize you chose over the comfort, the blanket you slept in last night. Curling up on the floor, you wrap yourself tightly in the blanket and burrow your face against. There's not much to smell but you do it anyways, taking in deep breaths as you remind yourself that you won't have to sleep alone tonight.

A small comfort, but a comfort nonetheless.


It's not easy trying to fall asleep on the wooden floor, especially now that you don't have anyone to lay against. Too unforgiving and cold, you manage to only partially sleep. Tossing and turning constantly, you pick up sounds of Lisa coming to the door and then being hushed away then to Aria offering to do something with the girls. You mainly tune it out, adjusting once more in hopes of falling asleep. The last thing you hear is the pitter-patter of Buttercup's feet, running down the stairs before silence follows soon after.

You have no true sense of how much time passes while you're on the floor, falling in and out of being partially awake. At one point you're just sprawl out on the floor, starring up at the ceiling as you let your eyes fall shut over and over. Soft thumps from downstairs catch you attention for a moment, but you dismiss them as nothing. The much louder and closer thumps are what cause you to jolt up, trying to hold your chest as you catch your breath.

Pausing, you wait in hopes of silence, but another round of thumps jolt you. Knocks rather. Not from the front door though, it sounds like it against the window. You're prepared to leave it be, to let Aria handle it, but her words from the hallway come ringing back.

"Come on, if you promise to behave I'll let you both come with me to walk the dog!"[/b]

You fear being alone in the house, but remember that there's hardly any chance of John leaving the house easily. Telling yourself they can't hear the steps, you inch your way to and down the stairs. Stopping at the edge, you press yourself against the wall. You can't really see into the kitchen from here, and if you could then the other person could see you too. This wouldn't be a problem if John wasn't crouched behind the couch, motioning you to duck and come over.

Taking a step, you freeze in fear as much louder knocks sound from the window. Feeling panicked, you wait till they stop before racing over, eyes shut and ears covered as you duck over. Moving you behind him, John motions at you yet again, this time reminding you to remain quiet. He leans in close, cupping your ear and breathing each word.

"Did you see who?" he asks and you quickly shake your head, heart pounding. "Damn. Not Aria, isn't doing special knock."

You want to ask what you're supposed to do, or who it's supposed to be, but you're afraid to even be breathing too loudly.

"I can't take look, not with messed up hip..." John whispers, looking back towards the doorway, "But if careful, if you want, you can try...uh but..."

"But what?" you manage to squeak out.

"If they see there's a kid in here..." John doesn't finish his thoughts, but you can guess easily enough. If it's someone with authority, they might try to break into the house if they think there's a child inside. Or, as a chill goes down your spine, a thief looking for an easy target.

"Won't force you to peek, but if you want to try missy...
Stay low and move carefully, we should be able to see who it is. Maybe see if we can get to another window and spot the person from there.

Not wanting to but knowing that it should be done, you nod in agreement. Letting John do it would just be asking for trouble and letting the person just go will leave you wondering what's going to happen. At the very least a plan can be made, if you succeed at catching a glimpse. Peering around the side of the archway doesn't sound appealing in the slightest and you allow yourself to speak out loud to form a plan with John.

"Where else can I look from?"

"Top window, might be able to catch who it is. But gotta be careful. Someone else could be walkin' and lookin' around, or the neighbor next door could be lookin' over. Just get a quick look and then come tell me, okay?" Agreeing to this plan, you feel better about trying this. Making your way back to the stairs, you hold your breath with each step, flinching any time a board creaks. Upstairs feels safer, but you don't allow your guard to slip. At the end of the hall awaits the window that may allow you to gain a sneak peek at the potential perpetrator. Trying to stay quiet and not slip, you rush over to the window and come to discover just how awfully small it is for this. Craning your neck, you try as hard as you can to look down the side of the house. If you were a bit taller or if the window was a bit larger then you could see better, but as it is you're missing what is straight down below.

You reach for the sill, ready to pull it up in order to get a better angle. If not for the potential noise it could make, the movement at the neighbors window makes you duck down instead. Of course you have no idea if they were looking this direction or could even see through the window at all; there was movement and you didn't want to be spotted. With no way of knowing when enough time has passed you muster up the courage to peek out the window. Straight ahead is clear, whoever stood there no longer serving as a threat. Whoever is outside still remains a mystery and you know just what needs to be done.

Slowly prying it with your fingers, you nudge the window open slowly, pausing any time it makes the slightest bit of noise. Scared of opening it too far, it'll have to remain half open for now. Standing on tiptoes you peer down, heart skipping a beat when you don't spot anyone by the kitchen window. Looking both ways, you expect to be stared down right now. Not finding anyone in the yard is somehow both a relief and a worry. Dashing to the nursery, you try to wipe away the frost enough to look outside and look for your mystery person. Hidden by the gates, you can barely see the roof of a car parked in the alley. It doesn't seem instantly familiar and you accept that as a good sign, as good of a sign as it can be.

You move on to the next room, looking out a slightly better window but still not catching anything of importance, aside from some woman walking down the street towards the house. She can't have been the one at the window, and you return to the hallway to try and take one last look.
Plenty of blind spots in the yard and the still parked car don't make you feel safe, not in the slightest. Trying each of the windows again, you give up on catching a glance at whoever it may be. The only thing you feel confident about is that if they've remained hidden this well, there's only has to be one or two. One or two more then you would like, but better than trying to deal with a whole group.

Giving up to return downstairs, you take caution with every step and return to a waiting John.


"All I saw was a car, parked in the alley."

"What kind?"

"I don't know, I could only see the roof. I don't really recognize it, but it was just the roof...oh! But there wasn't any sirens, so it shouldn't be a police car."

"Didn't see nobody though?"

"Just someone walking down the street, but it wasn't them."

"The car is still here then?"

"Last time I looked yeah. M-...maybe they're just looking for help?"

"If they were lookin' for help I'd think they'd try one of the nicer lookin' houses, and definitely not the window either." John looks around, sighing before forcing himself to stand and limp to the front window. Ever so carefully he peeks past the blinds, looking for any signs. You consider finding another window to look through when knocking echoes from the front door. Heart seizing up, you slip to the floor as you try to move back. John retracts from the window instantly, pausing for another set of knocks. He attempts to look through the window again, sighing in frustration. Getting your attention, he points at the door and makes his request very clear.

'Check through the peephole'

Your breathing ragged, your heartbeat sounds loudly with each step. Afraid that even brushing your fingers against the door will give away your presence, it takes quite a bit of effort to stand on tiptoes and look out. Right away you see a woman standing on the porch, and upon further inspection you recognize her as the lady who lives a few blocks down. Her hand reaching up to knock again, you move back till she's done and look through the hole again.

The breath in your throat catches when you spot Lisa hanging around her legs, looking up at the door hopeful that someone will answer. Not spotting anyone else around you creep back over to let John know what you saw.

"What goin' on-"

"O-One of the ladies who live on the street..." remaining calm, quiet, and intelligible is proving difficult at this moment and you try to swallow your fear, "She's at the door and um...she h-has Lisa with her..."


"I think she's fine...she looked o-okay. M-...Maybe she got separated from A-Aria? A-And told them this is where we live..."

"You've met this woman then?"

"Briefly, when me and Marilyn were out yesterday. We just talked to her for a bit, we told her we lived near by but..." The wonderful buzz you had before is gone, leaving you dizzy and disoriented. "John, what are we going to do? W-What if everyone knows that people aren't supposed to live here? If they see people are inside...but how are we going to get back Lisa...?"

"I'm tryna think dammit!" John snaps holding his head, "I'm...I'm tryin' to think..."

John must feel as lost as you do about this, but a choice has to be made and quick. You try to think of suggestions, but none of them are perfect.

Either you give up your location and get Lisa back, or you let that woman take her back...you don't fear her safety with that woman...

And then you still have whoever is sneaking around hidden somewhere, you haven't heard the sound of any car starting up either.

If it's too much to handle, you can remain silent and let John choose what to do alone.
It'd probably be best if John answers while we stay out of sight. The display might be more sympathetic, single dad trying his damnedest to give his daughter a sense of security.
Stay hidden stay safe
John got this
Trying to wait for John to take action, each second that squeezes by makes your dread grow.

"J-John...!" you whisper, grabbing his shoulder, "D-...do something! Go up there or...or ..." Having nothing left to offer you fall silent, hoping that John can make up for what you lacked to offer. The seconds pass by all too quickly as John remains still, kneeling beside you. Thinking that he's too shocked to move, you take to the window and dare a peek in the blinds. That woman, Wisteria or whoever, is backing up from the porch and looking about. You duck back down again as she starts to walk around the edge of the house. Her footsteps right outside the window are drowned out for a second by a car rumbling on and driving away. As far as you can tell, this means the car in the alley has moved. You hope that's what it means, it'd be much easier dealing with just her now.

You crouch along the sides of wall, trying to catch sound of her footsteps again. Catching them by the back window now, you can hear her voice through the pane.

"In here?" she asks and there's a pause, presumably for Lisa to talk. Soon after there's a careful rapping on the window, and you tell yourself to just get up and go get her. Instead you remain frozen in place, listening to her knock once more before moving along the house again. Figuring that she'll end up by the front door again, you come back over to John.

"Lisa must have told her that this is where she lives now...m-maybe if you pretend to be her dad? That woman will recognize me but...b-but it's up to you..." You feel useless in this, unable to come up with anything useful. Wisteria makes her round and ends up at the front door again, knocking louder than before.

"Hello?" she calls out, "Excuse me? I think I have your daughter. Can you just come let her in? Hello?"

You bite your lip, too afraid to say anything more. Her voice and the knocking fall silent, and you can easily imagine her walking away right now. Feeling as if you could burst into tears your face falls to your hands, shoulders shaking as you try to keep it together.

'She's going to call the police' you want to say. 'She thinks Lisa's been abandoned and going to give her to the police. Are we going to be able to get her back? What if she tells them about what's happening here?'

Feeling John rise up you flinch, still keeping your face covered away. You don't want to move again, you don't want to lose more people from the group, and you really don't want to be making this choice either. He hobbles to the front door, his heavy steps making their way across the floor. The door remains close and you take a peek, watching as John's hand hovers over the lock. He looks to be in a panic, ready to fall over at any moment. His resolve comes quickly and the house is finally unlocked properly, the door coming to a loud close behind him. From the safety inside, you move up to the window to watch his limping chase behind the woman. Calling out to her, Wisteria stops and walks towards him, holding Lisa's hand. The young girl breaks free and runs to John, being scooped up and held in his arms. He tries to hide it, but you catch the sight of his legs nearly buckling from the motion.

The adults are talking now -or rather- Wisteria is scolding John as he takes the abuse. Either he didn't answer or it was satisfactory enough for her, and the verbal onslaught continues. Pressing your ear against the window, you try and take a listen at what's being said.

"-....can't even keep an eye on one girl?...-"

"-...don't you know what could have happened to her?..-"

"-...couldn't even come to the door...-"

"-...weren't you worried about who should could have been with?...-"

"-...can you even stand?...-"

"-...there's not nice people out there, you should learn that-..."

A stream of anger directed at John, you wonder how he's able to take it all.

"...-if you're not going to even bother offering an excuse, I might as well turn you in for child neglect...-"

You already felt bad for him, but this one feels like a nail in the coffin. Lisa might be back, but now at the risk of being exposed and having to deal with the police. This woman might have been fooled, but you doubt it would be easy to do with the law.

Maybe John will speak up and clear things up, but you hate sitting on those odds.

If you could come out and pretend to be his daughter...

Or pretend to be his neighbor, or trying to get that woman to pay attention to you instead...

Ideas are coming to you now but it feels overwhelming, you need to decide what to do quickly...
Sneak out and pretend to just be walking down the street. Claim we met an older girl looking for her little sister, and that we offered to help look.

With some luck, Aria and Lyn are just around the corner.
Best bet
Sitting by and letting this happen feels too hard, but as a testament to your fear it takes several tries for you to finally move. Prepared to follow out the front door, you remind yourself that you still need to be careful of who watches and decide to opt for the window instead. Though you heard the car drive away, each sound that window makes as it is pulled open makes your heart seize up. You expect to see someone waiting outside, ready to stare you down with menacing eyes and snatch you up. Just as in the house, you're alone outside. Only managing to get the window half closed, you try to hurry to the street while remaining small and silent.

You're job is easy, compared to John who is standing there and silently taking in all the complaints and call outs to his poor parenting skills. Lisa clings to his shoulders, scared and confused as to why the situation seems to have escalated to where it is now. Looking around, you desperately hope to see Aria and Marilyn coming around in hopes of one of them saving the day instead. The responsibility still rests with you and, painfully, so does the pressure.

"God, parents these days..." Wisteria exclaims, eyebrows furrowed down and squinting past what appears to be a quickly growing headache. "Thinking you can just let your child roam the streets like this.."

"I didn't realize she had slipped past me, I'm sorry."

"Not as sorry as you would have been if she didn't come home!" The fury in her words aren't softened in the distance between you and them, only making your approach less and less desirable.

"I'm...I'm sorry..." Lisa mutters, unsure what she should be apologizing for but feeling obliged to anyways. Wisteria's anger fades just long enough for her to address the girl.

"It's alright sweety, it's not your fault you got lost," she reassures, looking her in the eyes, "This is a big neighborhood for someone like you to be walking alone in." Instead of answering Lisa only hides her face away against John, either feeling shy or afraid to say anything else. Not wanting to give her a chance to say anything incriminating, you pretend to have been jogging down the streets and looking around.

"Um, hello? Excuse me?" you come up to them, feigning surprise when you see the woman. "Oh! Um, h-hello again!" you greet her, offering only a quick glance to John.

"Again..? Oh! You're that girl from yesterday, right? The one with the little sister?" Wisteria is bringing out the politeness again, as if she was not just scolding someone for the past few minutes.

"Yep, that's me. I was just wondering if I could just um, ask you guys some questions...?" you're trying to think light on your feet, to try and think of a way to shift the blame off and away. Even if she doesn't think John's a good person, you just need to make sure she thinks that everything is fine. Just come up with a good enough lie and she won't try to call the police and everything can be just fine.

"Is this an emergency or...?"

"Oh, well um...I was just walking around the neighborhood and...and there was this older girl walking her dog. She was trying to look for someone, and when I asked if she needed help she said her little sister ran off," you pray that John will catch on and that Lisa will remain quiet at you continue to spin your web of lies, "That girl looked really worried, so I told her I would help. I think her sister ended up running off when the dog got loose, so I figured she'd be near by. I think she'd be about um...about her age, actually." You point at Lisa, hoping that the feign of innocence you display is convincing enough.

"I, er...I found her," Wisteria points at Lisa too, trying to hide her confusion with disbelief, "Just a few minutes ago too, she was trying to get in my yard asking for help...wait, she was with your other daughter? " John is still trying to get hold of the situation and not being confident in words he only nods.

"So you're her dad? Great! I'm just glad she's found." You can't stop the nervous laugh that follows behind, looking quickly to the ground.

"Shoot...if I'd known she'd just slipped away from your daughter," Wisteria contemplates everything, regretting her previous actions in front of the already overwhelmed John. "Here I was trying to call you a bad parent...it's just that, it gets scary out here. Like, kids used to be able to walk to the bus stop on their own and now you hear news about them getting snatched away or taken from their own yards...just a few weeks ago, a family a few blocks away had their son go missing. They found him but uh...I just have a soft spot for kids. I hate the idea of them getting hurt, and remembering what happened to that boy...it makes my skin crawl. I guess we should just be thankful that she was found sooner rather than later, right?" She's trailing on, trying to offer an apology without really saying it and erase her previously sour appearance.

"It's ah...it's fine. I don't know what I would have done if we had lost her." You watch as John talks freely now, no longer having to fear being yelled at anymore. "Times just been tough and with me gettin' out of the hospital a couple days ago-"

"Jesus, and here I was yelling at an injured man..."

"I'm glad you were concerned about her though. At least someone nice found her."

"Well I uh, better let you get her back home. You should let your other daughter know that she's back home."

"Will do ma'am, will do."

Prepared to head back and forget this ever happened, you flinch when Wisteria grabs hold of your shoulders.

"You said you were helping find this girl, right?" she asks and you nod in confirmation, "So that means her, uh, Lisa's sister is still out there looking for her right?"


"Well, it wouldn't be good to let her keep looking, especially since Lisa will be home now. And since you know what she looks like and with their dad still recovering, would you mind helping me look for her sister?" Wisteria asks, waiting for your answer.

We don't really have any choice right now. She's either gonna keep looking until she finds them or she's gonna come back to the house at a possibly inopportune time later to ask if John's other daughter came back. She seems pretty nosy, even if she's trying to be nice?

Best we try and go along with her to settle her down.
Knowing Lyn, she probably managed to convince Aria to go to that park from when we walked Buttercup.

As much as it sucks, it's probably best if we do it ourselves, or we'll be taken in a lie by the lack of a second dog.

... or we need to clue Aria into the lie fast-like. Ask if the dog ran off again with a wink, maybe.
As she asks, you now realize what it's like to get caught up in the middle of a lie. You try not to look at John for advice, hoping in vain that he'll be able to swoop in and pull you out of the pit you've made.

"Ah, no need to do that ma'am," John starts, faking the usual bounce in his voice in attempts to sell everything as being fine, "We already caused you enough trouble today. I'm sure she'll make her way back to the house soon 'nuff-"

"It's fine, I owe you a favor now after that little scene I caused." Wisteria says sheepishly, but you doubt she'll back away from the offer.

"It's fine uh...m-mister. We can at least um...like, take a quick look. Maybe over by that park that way? I mean, she might already be heading home so maybe we won't even see her!" you hope that's the case, anyways.

"Well yeah," Wisteria thinks it over, "She'll probably head back to the house soon..."

"Yeah! I m-mean, yeah and then she'll see her sister got home..."

"Alright! Then we'll just look around for a little bit! I've got nothing planned for this morning anyways." The sudden go-getter attitude of this woman throws you back and you try to send John one last look of pity.

"Er well it's pretty cold, I can't imagine her staying out for longer than...than ten minutes? Wouldn't want either of you walkin' around for nothing and gettin' sick."

"That's fine! Ten minutes of searching and you have to forget about this incident with me," Wisteria laughs, nudging you to follow as she whispers, "We can do fifteen just to be safe."

"R-Right..." turning you wave at John, trying not to look upset, "Bye J-...m-mister." He offers a quick wave back, watching as you're half dragged down the street. Lisa pokes out from his neck to watch and starts whispering to him, no doubt asking why you're going with this woman.

"You remember what her sister looks like?" she asks, pulling out keys from her pocket.

"Oh, um yeah. She-...she's a few years older than me. Um, about your height and uh...brown hair." you're trying to keep it vague enough, on the off hand that the plan needs to change.

"Alright cool. We can take my car around, it'll be warmer and a whole lot quicker that way."

You feel some hesitance in agreeing to this, not wanting to get stuck in a vehicle with someone who might as well be a stranger. Hesitance, but not really any fear. This woman might be a bit strong headed, but you don't doubt that she's just trying to do some good.

"S-Sure, that's fine..."

On the walk to her car, Wisteria continues talking about other places around the neighborhood you two can look if the park turns up empty. The thought of being dragged around for longer makes you feel uneasy and too exposed.

"I'm sure she's fine..." you say, going to the passenger side of the SUV. "I think she's, like 18 or something. She'll be fine out there."

"I guess so," Wisteria unlocks the vehicle, stepping in and waiting for you to join, "I can't help but worry when I see some of you younger people out there. Though I guess this neighborhood is a lot better then my old one, it's why I chose to come here." As you step in, you notice the rows of empty back seats. If it's just this woman and the other one, then you can't imagine why they would need so many seats.

"So is uh, your...roommate...? Gone...?"

"Oh, yeah. My wife is out shopping," the engine starts up easy and you recognize the new car smell, "Kind of lonely at the house right now anyways. It was either do this or get mad at the news." Backing out of the driveway, you feel your breathing become quicker with anxiety. If you can just spot them and get to them first then this should be easy, The drive to the park is all too short and you begin fumbling over a plan mentally. Too cold and in the middle of a school day, no one is mulling around the frosted over park.

"Oh, look! I bet she already headed back." you say all while wishing that it's true. Wisteria stares over the parks down down some of the streets, pondering to herself.

"Maybe...well, okay. Lets just drive down this one street and then we can give up." Relieved to have earned some small victory you agree tot his easily, somehow able to rest easier. The cruise down the street is slow, Wisteria attempting to look down her side of the street and to drive straight. You only glance to the side, and so when Aria's crouched over figure passes by you do a double take before grabbing Wisteria's arm.

"Stop the car!" you say, reaching down and unbuckling. Your outburst makes her slam down on the brakes and you regret unbuckling so soon, but you waste no more time and sprint out of the car. Hearing your footsteps Aria looks up from the shrub with surprise.

"Wait, what are you doing out h-"

"WE FOUND YOUR LITTLE SISTER" you gasp loudly, chest burning from the run and heart beating even quicker. From the bush pops out Marilyn, dog in her arms.

"Why are you out he-" You don't waste any time with explanations, bushing Marilyn back down in the bushes while ordering, "Staydownthere."

"Calm down, what's going on? Did you come with Joh-"

"Don't worry!" you announce, hearing the SUV turn around and approach this spot. "We found your sister and she's back at the house. With your dad." It doesn't look like Aria is quite following and you cringe as Wisteria comes to a park behind you. Just through the branches of the bush Marilyn looks up at you, clutching Buttercup and looking even more confused. You step forward to block her body better and hope it's not noticeable. You notice the leash trailing from Aria's wrist to the bush, but

"Hey there!" Wisteria calls from her unrolled window, "Are you Lisa's sister?"

"Sister..?" As soon as the word left her mouth Aria's eyes light up and the plan is rescued. "O-Oh! You guys um, you found her?"

"Sure did. She was hanging around my place, said she'd gotten lost. Don't worry about it, she described the house for me and I took her back over to your dad. Poor guy didn't even know what was going on," the woman is smiling wide and Aria returns it with a nervous grin. "Looked pretty dazed and confused, poor guy. Having a kid that age while you're still recovering from the hospital has to be tough."

"Heh, yeah. Sure is. Thanks so much for finding her! I can finally head back now-"

"You want a ride back to your place?" An innocent question, but one that makes both of you wince. Aria looks at you from the corner of her eyes and, as discretely as you can manage, you shake your head 'no'.

"That's uh...that's okay. Gotta finish walking the dog anyways," Aria's voice is shaking but she tries to keep her composure, "If she doesn't run it all out n-now, she'll just be loud and in the way at home!"

"Oh, yeah alright. Glad we could be of help."

"And thank you sooo much!" Feeling your body relax, it feels like you've finally made it out to safety.

"Well then, uh...shoot, I didn't get your name." Wisteria is talking to you now, and you just hope that whatever it is will be short.

"Um, my name is Bunny."

"Cute name. Just hope on back in and I'll take you back."

"Oh! I can walk back on my own-"

"No way. It's cold out here, and I don't want to have to worry about you next. Just hop in," Wisteria is once again adamant but softens as she adds in, "And if you like, you can stop by my house first and I'll treat you to some hot chocolate. Bet you're cold from running around, and I can thank you for the help!"

Freezing in place, you try to think of what to say...
Tell her you were already on a walk around town when you found the girl, so you don't really plan on going home right now. Maybe say you're meeting a friend downtown.
It sounds... kinda nice, but also sorta disconcerting. She could've done weird things to Lisa, but she didn't.

Maybe... try turning the offer down graciously, thanking her, but we kinda were on our way home when we got sidetracked. If she insists then maybe it'd be okay, it just can't take too long.

Being late because you helped someone can probably be excused. Going home with a stranger is just... asking for trouble.

We can accept her offer of a ride but we definitely can't take her up on going to her house. It's suspect that she's just invite us over like that and even if she's just being nice we need to be back at the house for when Lawrence returns .

Have her drive us about a block from the house. Our parents wouldn't take kindly to hearing we'd accepted an offer to go into a strangers house after all.
She probably doesn't have any ill intent as she already had the chance
Displaying some awareness about stranger danger might help in any which way
Shaking your head quickly, you start thinking up an excuse. She might have good intentions, but that doesn't mean it works in your favor.

"That's okay!" you say, "I don't need a ride. My house is close enough, and I need to head back anyways!"

"Are you sure? I can just drop you off."

"It's just close by, don't worry about it," you look back, making sure Marilyn is still hidden away behind, "Plus, I needed to walk around for a bit. I've been riding in the car a bunch the last couple of days, and I'm kind of tired of it. Thanks for the offer though, maybe next time!"

"Oh, right. I was sick of being in the car right after we moved too." Wisteria doesn't particularly look like she enjoys giving in like this but also doesn't look prepared to cause another scene, "So you're sure you'll be fine walking?"


"Okay, don't you waste any time getting home. If I don't do it, I'm sure a cop would like to give you a lecture on truancy." Wisteria laughs at this, all unaware how this could be a valid concern of yours.

"I'll head straight back, don't worry."

"Alright girls, be seeing you around!" You don't bother to stop waving or to move out of the way till the SUV is out of sight, feeling your entire body go limp as you let out a groan.

"That was awful..." you complain, Marilyn finally popping back out of the bush.

"You think that was awful!?" she cries out, requiring assistance to escape the grabby brush, "At least you weren't forced to kneel down in a bunch scratchy branches! You could have at least tried asking me to hide first!"

"I'm sorry, I panicked." You help to brush off the twigs sticking to Marilyn's coat, Aria smoothing out her hair.

"I could tell."

"Hey, everything is fine now! You guys were looking for Lisa right, what happened? She slip away from you?"

"Unfortunately," Aria isn't too proud of this moment but continues to explain what happened, "Lyn told me there was a weird car down the way and I was worried that it was like, one of the ones that was following us a while ago, remember that? So we're trying to get a good look at it and this bigger dog comes running down the street, he'd just hops someones fence I guess. And as it turns out, huge dogs terrify Lisa."

"Yeah, he wasn't even chasing her. There was a cat up one of the trees or something, but she still ran off crying," Marilyn sets Buttercup on the ground as she finishes the story for her, "It was fine till she went through people's yards. We've been looking through e v e r y w h e r e! I didn't think we were going to find her again."

"Well she ended up at that woman's house again, that's why had to hide Marilyn. She thinks me and her are sisters and that we just moved in. And now Aria is Lisa's older sister, and both of them are John's daughters." Both girls remain silent as you reveal the lies set forth and Aria lets out yet another nervous laugh.

"We should uh...we should really stop trying to talk to the neighbors, this is going to get confusing..." And you can't help but to all agree on this.


On the walk back to the house you explain how Wisteria came up to the door with Lisa and everything that happened with her and John outside.

"Jeez, now I feel awful for being a bad babysitter..." Aria says regretfully, "John didn't deserve all that."

"Why'd he wait so long to go answer the door though?" Marilyn asks, sandwiched between you and Aria, "I'm surprised he didn't go running out as soon as he heard Lisa was out there. Like, he wouldn't let anything happen to the other kids, but he's like...waaay protective of her. Like, I bet he wouldn't be afraid to fight a bear off even. I mean, he'd probably try that for all of us anyways, but um...you know what I mean."

"I don't know why he waited. Maybe he didn't want her to see the inside of the house?"

"Maybe." It doesn't really sound like Marilyn is agreeing, and you feel the same way about that idea. John would want what's best for the kids, and if he was starting to think letting Lisa get taken away by that woman was better than squatting in house...

"You don't think he's going to be sore at me, do you?" Aria asks.

"Who, John? I don't think so, especially if you tell him about the car. It...wasn't the same car, was it?"

"No. Like it was an ugly car, but it wasn't the one following us around from before. Probably doesn't help that I've been a little on edge lately...then again, it's probably safe to say most of us are," Aria sighs, stopping on the sidewalk as she walks around, "I mean, this neighborhood is a pretty safe place, especially compared to the last one. Yet I still feel so anxious here, just as much as the last place. Would be really nice to not have to look over my back constantly, you know?"

"Yeah, it would..." you agree, Marilyn looking down at her shoes. There's no getting around saying the current status is awful, and no amount of sugarcoating would fix it either. It's a fact that leave the three of you in silence, all the way to the alley and sneaking up to the window. Aria knocks, an easy to follow pattern, but one that gets it unlocked. She leads the way in first, followed by Marilyn and the dog. You begin to move in, caught off guard as your hand is grabbed and your pulled in fully. The window pushed shut and locked again, your wrist is still held and you look up first in shock then excitement.

"You're back!" you exclaim at Lawrence, your smile wavering at the corners when he looks down in unfiltered concern.

"Relax relax, no one is following us-" Aria is interrupted by a baby's cry, and she looks back to the living room, "Sarah? Oh good!" She goes to the living room to join everyone, Marilyn running past to go see if it's really Cecilia. You and Lawrence remain in the kitchen, and while you're glad to see him the grip on your wrist begins to make you feel the slight pings of fear. Of course, if he heard about what happened just earlier he was probably worried about where you were, but you feel this has turned into a panic for him.

What would you like to do?
I know the italics messed up in the second post, ;_; I gotta run to a meeting though so pls no bully
Try giving him a hug to defuse his panic. Tell him we're okay, maybe deflect by asking if everything went fine with William.
Supporting. If he wasn't on window watching duty we could try and take him upstairs for a bit more privacy but this will do for now. We can tell him more later if he wants to know. As long as he shares some secrets of his own with us of course
Being half dragged like this makes you feel uncomfortable, even if it's Lawrence holding your wrist. Probably not even realizing what he's doing, you'd rather not scold him or call it out. And seeing that he returned at a decent time, you work that to your advantage. Before you can be taken out to the living room the gap between you is closed and your arms attempt to wrap around his side.

"I'm glad you made it back so soon." Lawrence wasn't prepared for your sudden stop, nearly pulling you into the next room. Either the woeful look you shoot up at him while peeking out from his coat convinces him to stay a moment or he sees how his behavior was distressing, but either way the grip from your wrist is released and in turn you receive a ruffle of the hair and a head pat instead. "How was your friend?" Right away he begins to sign his answer and, upon remembering that you wouldn't understand, opts to just nodding and mouthing 'fine'.

"That's good. Maybe you can tell me about it later then, when you're not busy and all," you smile at him now, just glad to be back so soon, "And then I'll tell you what happened to me today, alright?" Not nearly enough to fill in any blanks, but good enough to settle some of the worry that remained. You nearly offer up a kiss as a promise, but hearing Marilyn coo and adore over the baby reminds you that it's not an okay thing to do right now. Letting go of Lawrence and looking over, you watch as Sarah transfers the baby into Marilyn's waiting arms. She looks nervous about holding Cecilia, but follows each instruction carefully in order to hold the infant up correctly.

"Has she been here long?" you ask, giving a wave to Sarah when she looks over. A tired and overworked woman right now, she still manages to give you a grin. You had no part in helping with funeral plans as a child, but still you remember how busy the time was. It would make sense if Sarah was to just doze off right there on a dusty couch, even with Lisa trying to hang over her shoulder and look at the baby.

Sarah came in about ten minutes ago. Said she would probably need to leave again soon, so go talk to her now if you need to.[/b]

"Oh, alright. And when you want to like, hang out later just let me know or whatever." You try to act nonchalant, leaving to join the small pile on the couch before you can see if Lawrence fell for it or not. Leaving him in the kitchen, you take an empty spot on the couch, squished between Sarah and the arm. She's leaning back, taking a moment to relax and close her eyes as baby duty is taken out of her hands.

"Hey kid," she mumbles, eyes remaining closed as you take the seat, "How's it going? Glad you made it back."

"Things are alright, I guess. I didn't expect you to be back right now."

"Yeah, decided to make a little delivery. Funeral arrangements and the like are trying to kick my as-...butt, been busy trying to talk with lawyers and relatives. But I'm managing fine enough, I guess."

"Have you just been carrying her with you this whole time or...?" Across the couch, John is attempting to make formula in a bottle. You expected him to be at least a little excited getting Lisa and now even Cecilia back, but he instead he looks rather discontented, eyebrows burrowed down in thought.

"No way. Sam stopped by the funeral home I was at, actually. Told him a few places I might be the next few days, and he brought this thing with him, asking me to take her and all that. Guy has been having a harder time than I have."

"And he's supposed to come back tonight!" Marilyn says too excitedly, stirring the baby and attempting to hush her up again.

"He might be coming by tonight, no promises." Sarah makes sure to stress 'might', looking over and readjusting the baby into Marilyn's arms. "He said he might be able to stop by, Eric will be back tonight for sure though."

"Look how red her face is!" Lisa points out, "Is she okay?"

"Yeah, she's fine. It's cold out there, not to mention she's been waiting on that bottle for a while now." This serves as a reminder to John, who quickly finishes and hands the bottle over. "You sure she'll drink it cold like this?"

"They might cry a lot, but babies aren't too picky. Water is just room temperature anyways, she should drink it fine." John sits back in his seat, arms crossed and watching as Marilyn learns how to hold the bottle up. "Look see, she can't get enough of it. Lot easier than trying to warm up some water for it anyways."

"Look, I'm really doing it..." Marilyn sounds proud, trying to keep her voice down as she watches Cecilia drain the bottle.

"I wanna hold her!" Lisa moves, ready to try and snatch the baby away for her turn. Sarah pulls her back and onto her lap instead, holding the little girl in place as she leans against the couch and closes her eyes again.

"You let Marilyn handle that. After she's had a nap, that's when you can hold the baby." There's a struggle, but Lisa admits defeat soon enough and goes back to just watching instead.

"Why doesn't she have hair?" Lisa asks.

"Cecilia has hair!" Quick to defend her, Marilyn has to remember to keep her voice down. "It's just really light right now."

"Looks like she might grow up to be a blondie." Aria comments, coming back from the restroom. "How pretty."


"Like, yellow hair. Like how mine used to be, or John's." you answer this time, Lisa looking between the baby and John to compare.

"Sooo..." With light and gentle motions, Lisa plays with the fine baby hair between her fingers for a moment. "Does that mean John is her daddy?"

Both the women laugh at this, but John chokes on his breath. Shaking his hands in denial long before the words can come to him, he's quick to answer the question.

[3/4damn, barely]
No way. Ain't no way I'm her dad," speaking firmly, you'd almost believe that Lisa had asked a far more serious question, "J-Just watch. When she grows up, her hair will get darker and she won't look nothin' like me. You won't even believe that you tried to ask something like that." You don't see anything too wrong with this till you look over to see Aria and Sarah exchange knowingly glances. Not judging, but something that they obviously know more about.

"Um, how much should she have?" Marilyn speaks up, pulling the bottle back.

"I don't think she's gotten to eat in a while, just let her have her fill for now. I'll show you how to burp her later." Pushing herself up, Sarah stretches and yawns, "Now if you would excuse me. Have to go make it look like I've gotten proper sleep this past week, come holler at me if you need."

"I might have some eye shadow by the sink you can use, there should be a flashlight in there too. Or maybe open the window in there and get some natural light-" Aria yawns now and with a shy grin, turns to John and asks, "Would it be fine if I went and took just a...quick teeny nap real quick? I'll watch the kids the rest of the day, I promise. And I don't even really need to sleep, just a second to lay down.."

"Yeah, go ahead. Y'all can fill me in on what happened later." With John's permission, Aria walks past Sarah in the bathroom and goes up the steps for her few precious moments of alone time. In the kitchen, a dirty old sheet is being fitted to cover the window, Lawrence being on the job for it.

"Is this still fine?" Marilyn asks, looking over the bottle.

"If she's still drinkin' let her, little girl will let you know when she's had enough." John stays at his seat, taking charge of the girls for now.

What would you like to do?

assuming Sarah is ok With it maybe we can ask her if she knows why John was so serious about Lisa's comment about him being the dad.

If she's too busy we're sure Lawrence could use some hell.
Let's disturb Sarah for a bit, ask if they got away from the 'hotel' fine. maybe if they've seen or heard from Jessica since.

... apologize for being a trouble magnet...

Remind ourselves to give her Eric's credit card.

We can always just sit with Lawrence if nothing else is happening.
Figuring that Sarah is only going to be here a while longer, you excuse yourself from the living room to go join her. Standing at the bathroom sink and trying to work with what little light is available, Sarah washes her face beneath the water.

"Is it fine if I hang out over here for a bit?" you ask, Sarah reaching out and then pointing for a washcloth settled in an opened make-up bag. Pulling it out, you notice that most of her makeup seems to consist of dark colors and their various shades, making it safe to bet that this is her personal collection. Water turned off and her previous makeup being wiped away, Sarah takes to you from behind the washcloth.

"Yeah, I don't mind. Jesus, this water is cold as hell..." Lifting up from the now sullied cloth, Sarah squints as she looks in the mirror. Plain yet pretty looking, she looks over the blank canvas to see where to start first. "Sorry to just bounce in and run like this."

"That's okay, you'll stop by again later won't you?"

"I'll have to, especially if the hubby is here." A small black pencil follows the bottom curve of her eye, outlining the rounded shape.

"Right. Oh and speaking of Eric, can you give this back to him?" Handing over the credit card, you wait patiently for Sarah to take it.

"Oh shoot, almost forgot you had this thing," Sarah tosses it over into her purse, returning to her work in the mirror, "Did you ended up needing to use it?"

"No, but thanks for letting me borrow it. You guys didn't have to do that." You are reminded of the now pitiful amount of cash you carry, thirty dollars and some change. An amount that could easily be eaten away, you're going to need to come up with a plan about this later. "Lot of things happened, but for I got here fine. We got worried when you didn't show up yesterday."

"Yeah, sorry about that. Would have had to leave sooner if I came yesterday though, plus I was able to bring the baby over today. So really, being a day late was a good choice all around." Sarah stops to compare the black around her eyes, checking and fixing any unevenness. Not thick as usual but just as dark, this time the black serves as a sign of mourning. The smile she gives feels jarring against the darkness, but it's one that feels genuinely warm if tired.

"It was probably better for us too. We didn't really have a good day yesterday, you coming into the middle of all that could have been a disaster..." you fall silent, not really up for being the one to explain what happened again. "But um...things have been going okay for you? How was Sam? Or the other place...was the um, Hotel still fine, or...?"

"Lotta questions from you today. Guess it sucks being left in the dark though." A makeup sponge comes out next, her pale skin becoming more even in color. You feel nostalgic for a moment, remembering the times you had sat and watch your mother apply her own. "Far as I know, everyone is fine. Least, Sam didn't mention anything too out of the ordinary when I saw him earlier. Man looks worse than I do, can't tell the last time he slept properly. He was in a big hurry though, came and gone in like five minutes. Mentioned that he was doing something else but wouldn't really go into details. Something involving a friend? But I've been kind of out of the loop too, ended up staying with some relatives the past few days, surprising as that is. Couldn't really be sure where everyone is at this second though, don't really know where Eric is. Well, I mean he's probably at work, he better be anyways. Er, sorry if I'm rambling. Been running on fumes for a bit, still gotta lot to do today."

"That's fine, I'm sorry you've been so busy like this." Lipstick comes out next, a deep red to contrast the white of her skin. "Would you um, happen to know anything about Jessica? She was with her aunt when all this happened, I'm not sure how she'll get back here..." You wait for the answer, watching as the color is left behind on her lips.

"I...actually don't really know what's going to happen with her. Like, I'm not worried about her just being alone. I think if she couldn't find anyone, she would just head back to her aunt. They seem to be on friendly enough terms," Sarah fixes a screwed line on her lips before softening the bluntness of her previous words, "But I think we can just have someone wait around there for a bit, bring her back over, easy enough."

"You sure it could be easy?"

"Yeah. She'll be fine either way though, try not to stress about it." You only nod, leaning against the doorway. It would be nice to see her again, but you force yourself to accept the fact that if Jessica ends up staying with her aunt it might just be for the better. Letting Sarah work unhindered for a bit, you look towards the living room and watch as Marilyn is taught how to clean the baby's face. You decide to risk the next question, thinking that if anything it'll take your mind off of Jessica for a moment.

"Cecilia seems to be doing pretty good too. I thought John would have been really excited to see her, but it's been pretty busy for us the last few days. She's um, really cute too," you pull away from watching the baby back to Sarah again. "I guess it is kind of cool, how she has such light hair when her mom doesn't."

"Yeah, Claire will be pretty happy if she turns out to be blonde. Her and Aria, that is."

"I um, I hope this isn't weird or rude of me to ask, but if she's going to be here for a while..." you move further into the bathroom, lowering your voice even more to keep this conversation private. It takes you several tries to start the question, but you manage to get it out eventually. "Is there any reason why um, why...he kind of freaked out about the whole dad thing? I've been calling him that as an excuse sometimes, but this really seemed to bother him?" Sarah's face turns sour at the question, but looking outside to make sure no one else is walking by she closes the door a bit more and sits on the edge of the tub.

"Normally I'm not one to gossip, but I guess it might be good to let you know a little bit of what happened before you were around. But don't go around talking about this, and definitely don't say who told you it. But I guess him and Claire knew each other a bit before she came in, like he's the reason she came in to the group. Course as her due date started coming in there was questions on who the father was and all that. And I guess maybe the two of them were kinda a thing before hand? Or at least, Claire wanted it to be a thing and said it was. That got John all made then, and it was just a big thing this one night. And don't get me wrong, Claire is nice but that girl is a bit...she gets kind of clingy at times."

"I see. Thanks for telling me."

"Wouldn't be right to keep you in the dark constantly," Sarah turns to face you, displaying her done up face, "How's this? Do I look like a normal person?"

"You look fine," you look over her kit again, watching as she packs everything back up, "I don't think I could ever pull something like that off."

"Just have to practice. If it turns out Aria's style isn't for you, just hit me up. I'll teach you how to put it on and look cool."


You see Sarah off as she leaves, watching her exit through the newly covered window. The sheet is fixed back into place once she's gone, preventing anyone the chance to peek in now. From the living room, you overhear John mentioning bathing Cecilia, but wanting to wait till he has some help with heating the water. At the table, Lawrence has a few pages spread out, reading over some and writing on others. Up above you can hear the floor creak, a sign that Aria isn't asleep quite yet.

What would you like to do?
Lawrence is probably doing a thing, so let's not bother him too much right now. Aria probably still needs some rest.

Let's see if we can help John. If we can keep making ourselves useful, maybe we can make up for having a price on our head.

Let's see what Lawrence is up to. If it's something he really doesn't want us to be around for (or if its boring) we can go talk to John and see if we cant help him with the baby.
Deciding that you won't stick around too much and leave him to whatever it is he's working on, you venture into the kitchen and glance over Lawrence's shoulder. A couple of stark white pages, creased lines and black text printed densely together, even if you could read it from back here it looks boring. Maybe you'll ask him about it later, but for now you'll just leave him to the task. Just another question that you'll hound on him when you two get some alone time, you come back to the living room and find Marilyn attempting to burp the baby.

"Am I hitting too hard...?" she asks, barely allowing any contact between her hand and Cecilia's back.

"She'll let you know if it's too hard, don't worry."

Leaning over the back of the couch, you come face to face with the baby. Her eyes only half open, she gently bounces in place at Marilyn's motions. Even though she looks way too little for a baby, you imagine a baby her size fitting inside another person.

The idea of a baby growing inside your stomach makes you cringe and you move to the front of the couch and out of Cecilia's sights.

"So, you need help giving her a bath?" you ask, leaning against an arm of the couch.

"Would like some, yeah. Better if we did it durin' the day when we had some light, and since it's a little warmer now than it would be at night. Might not be able to stand the entire time to get it ready though."

"I'll help, but don't you need warm water? Cause like, I can barely stand the shower here..."

"Can take care of that easily enough. It'd be a good thing for you girls to learn anyways, not really good for heating up a tub full of water. But a sink? Easy enough. We just need to wait for the little missy right there to do her thing-" There's a small cough and hiccup from over Marilyn's shoulder as she grimaces, waiting for assistance in cleaning up baby slobber, "And then y'all can help me get started. Might need to scrounge around a bit for some parts though..."

"What do we need? I'll help you look." You take to cleaning off Marilyn, glad that she's the one who took this task on.

"Just a couple things. Think I've got most of it, now we just need to find ah..." John motions with his hands the size of what he's looking for, "A metal can about this big. You know, like a big coffee tin or somethin'. Has to be metal though, else this won't work. After that this is a pretty easy job, so if you wouldn't mind maybe looking around for something. Here Lyn, I'll take the baby. You go help her out then." Marilyn hands over the baby, holding her ever so carefully and moving with the slowest motions. Overly careful, but better than her trying to turn Cecilia away.

"So just something big and metal?"

"Yeah. We have the formula container here, but I'd rather keep the powder in there. Course if we don't find somethin' else to use I'll figure it out. Just check some of the shelves around the house, maybe in some of the closets in case they left anything useful behind."


Letting Lisa tag along, you and Marilyn begin to search every nook and cranny of the house. Or rather, you show the girls where to look. In the kitchen you have Lawrence help you on the counters, letting you check the higher cabinets. Finding a few nonperishable, but nothing to the size needed, you're placed back to the ground and continue the search. There's not much left in the house, nothing that's of much use anyways. Upstairs is given the same treatment, you trying to keep the girls quiet around Aria as she's trying to lay down. Coming up empty handed, you apologize to John over not finding anything, both girls pitching in to this admission.

"It's fine, nothing we can't work around," letting the baby rest in his lap, John thinks of another solution, "Maybe I could send Aria out to look through the dumpsters a bit for one..."

"Oh! I know how to dumpster dive!" Marilyn says, trying to remember to keep her voice down, "Jessica showed me how to do it! I could help with that!"

"I'm not too keen on the idea of you guys loiterin' around outside for too long. Then again, haven't heard the garbage trucks stop by yet, maybe it won't take too long..."

"I can be like, super quick!"

"Not that I'm gonna let you go alone though."

You can go out and help Marilyn search through the trash, or volunteer to go and let her stay in place. John really isn't an option to go outside for this, but Aria and Lawrence are still here if you'd like to leave with an adult. Or you could stay inside where it's warm and be glad you're not the one digging through other people's trash...
Let's do it. Worst-case scenario we get a stern talking-to.

Maybe grab a plastic bag in lieu of gloves, just in case there's something ooky in any of the dumpsters.

New thread going up tomorrow!
I'd link the new thread here, but it'll bump off this one when I make it. So, have fun finding it ;_;

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