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/qst/ - Quests

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You're a smart girl, prove you don't need luck

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

=Links and Information=


Thanks to an anon, here is the pastebin of just the text. With threads purposely being misarchived, this should be available and accessible instead:
Melancholic Quest Collection 1 (1-4): http://pastebin.com/hTK0fQmd
Melancholic Quest Collection 2: http://pastebin.com/cX4HC6Q9
Melancholic Quest Collection 3: http://pastebin.com/sTuR8xJv
Melancholic Quest Collection 4: http://pastebin.com/RPwa7nEt
Melancholic Quest Collection 5: http://pastebin.com/DJ71TtFc
Melancholic Quest Collection 6: http://pastebin.com/xxCdZfx6
Melancholic Quest Collection 7: http://pastebin.com/7skcyeX0
Thread 29 (Misarchived as Gorgon Child) http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive/700562/

Twitter; @Cowboy_Sue
Discord; https://discord.gg/8CCdcQ3 <--updated to be working
Chat room with me and other players. I answer questions, post sketches, and act cheeky.
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It's been a while, last thread
>Delilah went out with Crockett for the day after promised to be told two very important things
>Delilah practices driving a stick shift. She hates it!
>Crockett met up with a man who can 'dig up information on anyone'
>Crockett took Delilah to a diner afterwards, informing her that someone is trying to move her mother from the hospital
>This appears to be Aunt Julia, someone that Delilah hasn't seen since she was young
>Last thread ended with Delilah asking Crockett what he knows about her mother and aunt
You were always told plenty about your father and his side of the family. While many of that turned out to be half truths or straight out lies, it was still shared to you freely. Exciting -and safe- stories of your grandfather’s time in Italy and coming to America. Your grandmother telling you about the esteemed schools she had attended or the extravagant parties her wealthy family would receive invitations to. How your father was an absolute rascal from child to adult- it was all shared freely with you.

When it came to your mother, there was little there. She never spoke up about herself and there wasn’t anyone around to speak of her. Your father certainly never said anything about her. It was like you had forgotten she was a person too, someone with history and memories and life that existed long before you had. Whether good or bad, this might be your only chance to learn anything about your mother.

“You’re the only person I’ve met who knew her or my aunt before I did,” you say while following the lines on the table with your finger. For some reason it’s embarrassing to ask about your mother, and in the time it takes you to find the words Crockett figures out what you want to ask.

“Denise?” he smiles when you give a bashful nod, “I grew up with her and Julia for quite a while, yes. Me and Denise spent almost every day in middle school together.”

“Really?” you can’t really think about either of them being young or being around each other than much. “Not with Julia?”

“Oh, there were times when she would be helicoptering over her little sister,” Crockett chuckles, “but then there were days where Julia either liked her sister that day or not, and ‘not’ kept happening more and more as they got older.”

You feel a tinge of sadness drop down your chest, “She didn’t like her own sister anymore? Is that why they fought all the time.”

Crockett laughs and it comes to a stop shortly after you keep looking at him with a concerted stare.

“They would go at it sometimes, but they were being normal sisters really. Didn’t matter how many times they said they hated each other, they never meant it.” With a sad smirk he adds, “Julia always meant it when she said it to me, however.”

“Why didn’t she like you?”

“I might be biased,” he eyes the door as a couple walks into the dinner but doesn’t look concerned about them, “but I don’t think she hated me personally. She just wanted to keep her little sister safe from all the big bad boys around, that’s all.”

Your fidgeting turns into tearing the edges of a napkin, “Is it because you two were um, were d-dating?”

This time it’s Crockett’s turn to turn red in the face and he averts his eyes from you.
“No we weren’t ever we were just g-good friends,” he stammers, “Julia would have skinned me alive if she had caught wind of that. Really though, she wanted to keep Denise safe. Things were bad enough at home and she didn’t want it to be just as bad away from it.”

There’s a sad weight on your shoulders as you ask, “Their parents were really that awful, weren’t they.”

A shadow comes over Crockett’s face.

“I know it’s not fair for someone like me to say this, but it’s for the best that you never met them. I really do believe the girls would have grown up without parents at all,” he speaks with a smoldering hate in his words. “Drunkards and gamblers is the nicest thing I could call them. I can’t tell you how many times Denise left the house in tears in the middle of the night.”

“So they’d never want to meet me?” you ask softly.

“I’d be surprised if either of them were still around,” Crockett gives the solemn answer as gentle as he can, “they lived the kind of lifestyle that doesn’t usually reach old age. And honestly, it’d be best if they didn’t. I wish I could say I never saw the girls with a bruised up eye or busted lip when they left home. I know Julia would get mad at me cause I would talk all this big talk about what I’d do if I ever witnessed their parents doing that to them. She could tell I was just big talk back then, all bark and no bite. There was no way I was man enough to take care of her little sister and- ah, dammit. This isn’t the sort of thing you wanted to hear, is it.”

“Better than never knowing” you whisper into your cup, trying to let the steam hide your damp eyes. Crockett only needs to take one good look at you to see that your mood has taken a nosedive and he looks down at himself guilty.

“...y’know, there was this one time back when we were teenagers.” When Crockett speaks again you look up and see a grin creeping on his face, shoulders shaking as he tries to hold back his laughter.

“Denise and Julia were huge Elvis fans,” he explains, “they loved him, owned whatever records they could afford of his. Well he was having a concert tour right around the time of Julia’s birthday, and she wanted to go so badly.”

You nod along, the idea of your mother enjoying anything really seems foreign. But with how fondly Crockett speaks about it, there’s no way he could be making it up.

“Of course Denise did too, despite the tickets being crazy expensive and the fact that we’d have to drive two days to reach the closest one. But me and her figured that if we could somehow earn those tickets, Julia would finally stop giving me death stares every time Denise left to hang out.”
Hearing about how protective your aunt was for her sister puts a smile on your face. It makes you wonder if you would have been the same, had you received a younger sibling like you had often dreamed of.

“So at first she and I tried to come up with ways to raise the money, but that was impossible. Then we would try to win the tickets off of radio contests-“ Crockett laughs again and you give him the time he needs to enjoy those old memories, letting him continue the story again when he’s ready.

“Of course that never worked either. So we figured the next best thing would be to throw her a concert ourselves.”

“How did you guys manage that?” you ask excitedly.

“I learned some of their favorite songs on the guitar,” he explains, “Sure as hell didn’t sound nearly as good, but you could tell what song it was if you listened close enough. Denise did vocals and I was her backup singer and we ended up performing it while sitting on the hood of my car in an empty parking lot.”

You try to contain your grin, “How did it go?”

“She loved it, can you believe it?” Crockett’s entire face lights up as he answers. “We threw the rest of her birthday party afterwards and for once it felt like she didn’t hate my guts. Course things returned to normal after a few days, but I think our effort was worth it.”

There’s some comfort in knowing your mother and aunt could still have good memories like that. At least you’d hope they could look back on the memory as fondly as Crockett seems to.

You follow Crockett out of the dinner, promise to keep right next to him as he leads you to the car. Right away, you notice something strange.

“Weren’t we parked over there?” you whisper, pointing to an empty space. Crockett gives a quiet nod and scopes around the lot rather calmly. He finds what he’s looking for and leads you over to another car, one that certainly wasn’t the one you two had came in.

He hands you the briefcase to hold and gets down on his knees, reaching beneath and feeling along the bottom of the car.

“W-what are you doing?!” you whisper harshly, looking around in fear that the owner of the car will be coming over to yell.
“It’s fine,” he assures you calmly. With a snap he removes a small, metallic box from the chassis. Magnets on the outside kept it attached to the car’s frame and a car key waits inside. “I got the information I needed from my friend, which is great. But he was eyeing the vehicle we came in, that’s just how he is. Much as I’d like to believe he’d never sell me out like that, it’s not really a gamble worth taking.”

You search around the parking lot, still very much so in disbelief. “W-when did this happen? Just while we were inside the restaurant?”

“That’s the other reason we needed to stop here,” he gets off his knees and dusts off the pants. Crockett unlocks the passenger door and gives a good look inside before allowing you in, closing it behind you before going to the drivers side.

“If you look around enough you can find someone willing to do something for the right price tag.” Crockett speaks far happier than you’d expect, but you’re still reeling from the fact that you’re suddenly riding back in a new car like this. He’s right though, if a man who’s job is to sell information saw what you two had drove in then getting rid of it would be the best bet.

Still, sitting in this unknown car makes you feel uneasy. Crockett looks rather happy about the situation.

“Luckily, finding someone willing to trade cars like this was one of the easiest things I’ve had to do as of late.” Crockett looks over with a rather proud look, “I’m doing everything I can to keep you hidden and safe, even if that means having to get rid of some nice cars along the way.”

So many extra steps have to be taken just for your sake, and during the long drive back to the compound you have to wonder if you’re really worth the effort.

“Oh,” you speak up after some time, “There’s something else you’re supposed to tell me.”

“Hm?” Crockett hums, offering a quick glance over. Getting to speak about the nicer things about your mother seemed to have put him in a better mood than he’s been in lately.

“You said you’d have to tell me when we were done back there.”

“....ah, r-right.” He no longer sits relaxed, but rather moves about uncomfortably. Crockett tries to look at you but can’t find the courage in him. The car suddenly feels smaller than before.

“If it’s that much of a problem, you don’t have to tell me,” you quickly say. Your hopes in that fixing the tension quickly fades as Crockett shakes his head.

“I can’t keep this from you,” Crockett admits, “keeping quiet would make me the bad guy. It’s your right to know.”
It only confuses you further, but you don’t ask any more questions. You wait for Crockett to find the words to tell you whatever this could be. The more worked up he gets the more you begin to worry. He didn’t get nearly this back back when he telling you the news about your mother, so what could this possibly be?

“Delilah,” he chokes out your name as his teeth gritted together, “your grandmother’s health went into critical condition a few days ago.”

Instantly, your heart drops to the floor.

“E-...excuse me?”

“We were able to keep her steady at our location for a time but she got worse in the night,” Crockett speaks as distressed as you feel right about now. The man looks around in a nervous panic, like he can’t believe something so awful could happen. “The doc and Cammy had to move her out and take her someplace that could get her stable again.”

“T-to a hospital?” You’re not even certain if you asked the question, there’s been a deafening ring echoing in your ears.

“No,” he answer glumly, “but somewhere with doctors who know what they’re doing. Or should know, they’re folks Mariano had contact with.”

You try not to jump out of the seat as you half shout, half ask, “So she’s alive? My grandma is okay, isn’t she?”

A deep sigh shakes in the air.

“She’s alive,” Crockett tells you. “The Italians are helping to locate a new donor for her heart. I don’t know how much muscle they’re using to get it but ah....”

Crockett goes tight lipped as a tramble travels down the rest of his body. It feels like your own heart has stopped beating now.

“This is a complicated surgery-” he spills the words out all at once, “even if they find the perfect match there’s a chance it might not, that she might n-not…”

“She could die,” you say the words for him. You aren’t sure when exactly the tears bubbled over but you can’t dry them quick enough. “My g-granny is gone and I didn’t even get to say goodbye to her.”

“Christ Almighty, I didn’t want to be the one to tell you.” Now Crockett manages to look over at where you sit, his knuckles white as they hold the steering wheel. It’s hard for you to tell if he’s crying or on the verge of it, but he seems to be in pain just looking at you now.

“Camilla wanted me to tell you right away,” he admits, “but I couldn’t find the courage to do it. I’m so sorry, I didn’t want to wait this long to tell you. I’m no good at this kind of thing, I should have waited for Cammy to do this instead. She would be better at this-”

Crockett covers his mouth with a hand, trying to keep himself calm and steady as he has to keep driving.

Are you angry at him for keeping such important information from you for so long? Or just glad that he finally told you at all?
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I am angry. ANGRY

Burninate the countryside. Grandma's gonna die and I'm gonna flip
We all know being angry about it won't help.
But quite frankly who gives a shit.
Get fucking MAD!
Hey Sue, glad to see you back. You doing alright?
Angry. Not really at Ace, but at the injustice of it. Granted, he's right there and might become collateral.
At least he told us. He could've not, and then Cammy could've not, and then eventually we wouldn't have known until after...
Get angry and stab him in the eye with a fork.
This sort of news would have been impossible to stomach under normal circumstances. Even if it had happened while still believing she hated you, it would have torn you up all the same.

“My granny can d-die,” you state as the terrible twisting and turning in your chest turns into a burn. A quick burn, one that travels from head to toes, and you feel sick to your stomach. Bent over and gripping onto the seat belt you just repeat it to yourself, “I didn’t even get to say g-goodbye and she, oh my god, my grandma is g-gone…!”

“She’s still alive,” Crockett skittishly answers.

“But she’s gone a-and I can’t see her right now!” Your heel stamps against the floor as you talk, grinding into the carpet as you lose control of your breathing. “What if I n-never get to see her again? I c-can’t… why now? Why did she have to be s-sick too?”

“It’s okay to cry-” He begins to reach a hand out to you but withdraws it immediately, grabbing at his own hair instead. “I shouldn’t have done this. I should have left this up to Lawrence like she told me to.”

Every breath you take is a sharp, shallow gasp for air. Each exhale is a shrill sob or hiccup. The feelings coursing through you are the ones you had felt before.

“I don’t want to l-lose her t-too!” You wail into your hands, trying to stifle the sound. It’s not effective but you aren’t really worried about that. “My g-grandpa and dad are already g-gone…”

She wasn’t dead yet, you know that. But you’re old enough now to know that the best outcome can’t always be probable. It might not be set in stone yet, but there is a good chance you could lose her regardless if they do find a donor heart. Knowing that it’s a very real possibility that could happen so very soon is terrifying. The parts of you that aren’t already mourning are instead filled with fear but you sob just the same.

Crockett manages to keep driving. Somehow he manages to keep his attention divided between the road and the anguished tantrum you throw. At some point he tries to comfort you again, reaching out for your shoulder.

“Delilah, sweetie...” He’s scared for you, anyone would be if they could see how you can barely breathe between the shaking. It’s painful enough just to breathe at this point and your head burns in pain from how long and hard you’ve been crying.

Once his fingers come in contact you swat his hand away, glaring and baring your teeth at him all at once.

“D-don’t!” you shout, biting your cheek in the process. It’s easy to ignore the pain or terrible taste filling your mouth when you’re so angry at what luck keeps throwing at you. But you can’t scream at luck, leaving you livid and with only one outlet. “D-don’t, you’re not my dad. I wish my d-daddy could be here, I w-wish he could tell me this was going to be o-okay….”
You would have said that to anyone sitting in the front seat. It’s something that you really mean right now, all you can think about is the father you knew before that could make anything better. But it’s a statement that cuts Crockett deeper than anyone else and ceases trying to reach out to you again.

The rest of the drive is you crying until your voice mostly gives out, then curling up against the window to sniffle and press your warm face against the cool glass. There is a bit when you start to feel embarassed by how much you were reacting, but those emotions still linger now. Maybe now you’ve had time to remember that she could very well survive it all and return home to you safe and well, but perhaps you’re just exhausted now. There’s a terrible pain in your head, all brought on from the crying. You have no doubt that some of the feeling is going to remain by tomorrow too, but it’s something you can worry about later.

Crockett remains quiet the rest of the way and you can’t stand to look at him to try and read his face. The silence between you isn’t awkward but heavy, and your soft hiccups and sighs keep it from being truly dead.

The compound comes up in viewing distance before Crockett clears his throat and speaks to you again.

“I was never good at this sort of thing,” he tells you with his eyes firmly on the road, “it’s something Julia always hated about me. How I could never handle these difficult things. I’d always try to brush the difficult things aside instead of deal with them and she ah, she told me it wasn’t the way a man should act. Heh, that’s one reason she didn’t like me being around Denise. Wasn’t ever the type of good man that she needed.”
You dare a look over at Crockett now, who still keeps his eyes forward. There’s a grin forced beneath his mustache, but his eyes and cheeks are reddened from prior tears.

“Your mother, she’ll be safer with her sister anyways. I can feel it deep down,” he tries to look over but catches your eyes and Crockett snaps forward again. “I lost out all those times with her before. But for you, it’ll be different. I’m not your dad, and I can’t do the things he did to make you happy. But safe is what I’ll do, if you’re okay with just that.”

It doesn’t sound like he’s expecting any kind of answer so you don’t give one. Instead you keep to yourself, trying not to bite your lip too hard.

After Crockett has parked the car and switched off the engine, you can’t quite find the energy to get out yet. He does, ready to walk back inside before noticing that you’re still inside. Rather than come to your door, he goes back to his and pops it open.

“Are you uh,” he starts to ask as you try to dry your face better, “you’re not okay, I know. Do you need to sit here for a bit?”

You nod and whimper, “Is um, i-is Lawrence…?”

“He won’t be home for a while,” he answers with his eyes back to the ground. “But it seems like Cammy is back. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind sitting here with you, if you wanted?”

Would you like Crockett to go get Camilla, or just ask him to stay here with you for a few minutes? Or would it be better to give your time to sulk alone and go in when you’re ready?
Ask him to stay. He's already here and I don't think seeing Camilla or being alone will help us any.
It's not like anyone else will make it any better
Ask him to stay.
The town got it's water back last night, so so much better than before
You look away from him and at the cement wall outside your window. “Can you just stay in here,” you ask in a murmur, “I need a second.”

“Of course.” Crockett gets in the car but looks ready to jump back out at any moment. “Are you sure though, I’m not the only one here.”

“I don’t think anyone can m-make this better,” you use a sleeve across your wet face, “I just don’t want to sit here all by myself…”

Crockett nods and sits with you, passing the time by following the stitching on the steering wheel with his thumb. You work on trying to clean yourself up, checking in the mirror every so often and grimacing at the reflection.

“My eyes are going to be r-red all night,” you complain with the best smile you can muster up right now, “everyone is going to know I was crying.”

He looks over at you and starts reaching into his coat pocket, “I’ve got a pair of sunglasses you can borrow in that case.”

You grin at Crockett while rubbing your sore eyes. All the sadness you felt earlier still dwells inside, but you can hold it together. For now anyways, that might all change when you go inside and are surrounded by things that remind you of your grandparents.

For now you smile and try to soothe your puffy cheeks. “I don’t want Ms. Cammy fussing over me more than she needs to,” you cough. Of course, your voice has to be hoarse too.

“I know you’re not a fan of the constant doting,” he gives a faint chuckle, “but sometimes it’s hard not to.”

“Cause I look like a weak lil’ kid,” you answer with a smidge of snark.

Crockett shakes his head a bit, “Not that. Well, not just that.” He smirks as you make a face at him for the last line, and he starts to feel around his pocket again.

“Is it cause I-.” you watch him pull a fresh handkerchief from the pocket and hand it over to. You take it and unfold it slowly, “Cause I um, find trouble and stuff…”

“Despite all that,” answers Crockett, “there’s just something that makes me want to be overprotective, even when you don’t need it here.
Like a dad, is almost what you say. But you bite your tongue and bury your face in the handkerchief.

“I know that’s sometimes made me seem a bit harsh at times,” he murmurs, still tracing the bumps of the wheel with his thumb. “Sometimes I think you’re going to get hurt again, or something bad is going to happen. Even when things are obviously fine, sometimes I’m just convinced you need saving anyways.”

You look up from the handkerchief, damp spots left behind.

Crockett gives a nervous laugh, “It’s like I can't get my thoughts straight in those moments. At least, as much as I’d like them to be. Feels like I end up jumping the gun sometimes.”

“I know things can get stressful,” you reply while fidgeting with the edges between your fingers.

“I got those same sorta feelings when I was younger,” he laughs a bit, “Anytime I saw someone had hurt Denise’s feelings. The difference is now, I’m not just sitting back and letting it happen.”

You fold up the handkerchief again, taking a moment to dab your eye dry one more time.

Do you want to tell Crockett that he reminds you of Lawrence when he talks about being protective?

Or would it be best to leave him alone and go find Camilla for a bit? She might be better at helping you deal with these feelings anyways.

Or should you go off by yourself and keep busy until you can cry on Lawrence's shoulder later?
We should go see Camilla now that we've calmed down. Since she's been helping take care of Grandma all this time, she is probably just as sad. It's good to have someone you can relate to and share the pain with, in times like this.
Save the deep sobs for when Lawrence gets back though.
Go to Camilla
“Thanks for sitting with me,” you sniff and give back the hanky. “It’s probably a good thing I didn’t sit here and cry alone.”

“It’s no problem,” he answers softly and takes back the item.

You give one last look in the mirror. There’s no way to hide the fact that you’d been bawling your eyes out, but this is the best you can do. “If you think Ms. Cammy isn’t too busy right now I might try to talk to her now.”

“Of course.”

Crockett lets you leave first and walk inside alone. You appreciate the gesture and go searching for Camilla right away. You eventually find her in Rizzo’s office, the door half opened behind her.

You stop at the doorway when you notice that she’s not working on anything. Instead she stands by the sink, her head resting against it as the water runs in front of her. Rather than call out you give a short, firm knock on the archway.

Camilla stands up straight, a gasp leaving her lips as she turns around. Seeing that it’s only you, she relaxes back against the sink. “You scared me,” she sighs. Heavy and dark lines sag beneath her eyes and the rest of her skin sickly pale in comparison.

“The door was open…” you mutter, pulling it close inch by inch. “I can leave you alone though.”

“It’s fine, I’m just a bit tired is all.” Camilla reaches back to turn off the water and return her attention back to you. Which means that she gets a good chance to look over your face now. Her eyes light up with concern and she rushes over, bending down to eye level and gingerly touching your cheeks.

“Oh, bambina! What happened?” Her fingers travel down your puffy cheeks, never lingering too long as she seems to search for any kind of injury.

“I’m okay,” your face moves up as she starts to lift your chin and you look away from her eyes. “I found out about my grandma a little bit ago…”

“Oh-” Camilla lets go of you, “Only today? I can’t believe it… Was Ace the one who told you?”

You nod, “I already went through that with him. It was kinda um-” Somehow able to chuckle a bit you point at your face to explain what happened. Camilla nods in understanding.

“Do you need a hug?” she asks and you nod again. It’s different than embracing Lawrence, that’s for sure. You’re actually able to get your arms around her, she’s softer and smells sweeter- it’s more like hugging your grandmother, and that’s comforting.

Camilla takes you back to the kitchen, saying she had a strange favor to ask.

“I don’t think I’m really hungry right now…” you watch her from where you sit at the table. She pulls out a link of sausage from a bag, slicing off pieces from it.

“I won’t make much,” she promises as the skillet next to her begins to smoke, “My uncle asked me to have you try this.”

You try to look at the dark colored meat closer, “What is it?”

Sanguinaccio,” she slides the pieces into the skillet. “It’s a type of pork sausage.”

While something feels a bit fishy about the way she talks about it you trust her for now. A savory smell fills the kitchen and humming follows the smoke. Your head rests against the table, face peeking out from around your arms folded in front of it.

“...my grandma is still alive, right?” you ask.

Camilla stops humming, looking back as she talks. “Yes ma’am, I wouldn’t keep that information from you. If I had known Ace would have taken so long, I would have told you what was happening myself.”

“He didn’t know how to handle something like that,” you answer and she scoffs.

“Funny from the man who acts like he can handle anything,” mutters Camilla under her breath. “Ah, but you don’t want to hear about that right now. Your grandmother is fine for the time being. She’s almost back to how she was before.”

“But she’s not here.”

“No,” she speaks in a low somber tone, “not yet. We have ah, they’ve found her a donor. It just has to get down here first, and then they will perform the surgery. But they can keep a better watch over her for now.”

You know better than to assume the ‘donor’ is anything illegal, and you doubt it’s from a willing person.

“Is Dr. Rizzo staying there?” you try to ignore the weight forming on your chest.

“No, he will be back soon. I will go over to check on her. Ace too, if he can stand to be around that many Italians.” Camilla chuckles some at that, flipping the slices of sausages in the pan.

With a sigh, you say, “Thank you for helping her through this.”

“I couldn’t let her down like that,” she answers, “I owe her and your grandfather too much. Without their help, I don’t think I could have survived in America.”

“You had to run away from home too.”

“You remembered,” she gives a short smile, “Unfortunately I made a name for myself back home. I killed the son of a mafioso in self defense and they made sure I couldn’t ever return. Almost a fair trade, except they almost made sure everyone called me a child killer here too.”

You dare to ask, “Was he a kid?”

Camilla shakes her head slowly. “I wouldn’t call him a man yet, but he certainly wasn’t a child. A few years older than you, but even a teenager should understand what it means when they take up a gun like that.”
“That’s so unfair,” you murmur, “you were just protecting the other nurses at the hospital.”

“I’m glad you see it that way,” she gives a sad chuckle, “There weren't many who wanted to bring in a monster like me. Luckily, my uncle here in America was able to find me work. I left Italy pregnant, without a cent to my name and knowing only a little bit of English.”

You nod along, doing a double take when she says ‘pregnant’. Never has Camilla mentioned that before and you’re far too worried to ask. Not that you’d be up for a conversation about babies right now anyways.

“It was very kind of them to accept me in,” Camilla continues. “So, it wouldn’t be right of me to not do everything I can to repay that favor back.”

It takes a lot of effort to not stare at her figure and think about what she said. It had happened years ago but she’s never once mentioned her own child and that makes you afraid to ask about it. There was that man you saw at Mariano’s, with the scar across his face. Camilla acted familiar around him, but you don’t dare ask any questions about it.

You shake yourself of such dreadful thoughts. Right now you need to focus on better things, whatever it takes to get you through the rest of today.

Something about the sausages smells really delicious though, it’s almost enough to perk you up from the table.

Do you want to tell Camilla about the day your grandmother gifted you the bunny she sewed herself?

Would you rather listen to Camilla tell you about more good things your grandparents had done?

Or do you feel the need to ask her not to go yell at Crockett for waiting so long to tell you?
Ask her about her experience with our grandma.
Tell her not to get too mad at Crockett, we already gave him an earful so he should have learned his lesson.
And ask how the sausage is made.
I was actually going to ask why the blood stuff hadn't come up for a while.

>Tear into that sausage with gusto!
>Talk about the bunny
Let's hear about grandma and grandpa while we eat. Also ask her to be nice to Ace, we already sorta kicked him while he was down.
“Did they help other people like that?,” you ask., “Or anything else nice like that.”

“Oh, I know your grandfather would sometimes throw his money around,” she smiles, “Whether it was buying someone he knew a gift or trying to outdo his last donation to the churches. There was a small, poor one he especially doted on after he found out they offered English lessons to anyone who showed up for them. I’m certain that they were able to rebuild most of the place, if not all of it.”

Hearing that makes you smile too, “That does sound like him. I saw him do that with cashiers too. He’d buy me something little like a piece of chocolate I wanted and hand a big bill to pay for it. If granny wasn’t around he’d tell them to keep the change, and the cashiers always got this huge look on their face.”

“I’ve heard about the times your grandmother would scold him,” Camilla laughs, “Which, he could be too generous at times from the stories told. That man never grew up with money and then came upon it rather quickly.”

You nod, “And my grandma was from a rich family.”

“Raised to be uh, frugal? The type who was raised to save money when possible.” Camilla slides the sliced sausage onto a plate and brings it over. She pulls up a chair by yours, placing the dish between you. “I’m sure there were plenty of times that she had to scold him to keep from emptying the bank out of generosity. But holidays would soften her up it seems.”

The stuff she brings you looks and smells like sausage, kind of. You hadn’t been hungry, but a shadow of an appetite comes. The look of it is strange, the meat appearing a dark brown and big white flecks across it. Aside from the light sear on the edges the entire thing looks fragile, ready to melt into pieces in your mouth.

“What is this again?” you take the fork in hand, eyeing the slices with both a desire to try it and feeling off about it.
“It’s good,” she answers hoping you’d accept that. It doesn’t and Camilla takes the fork from you, hovering it over the slices. You point at the biggest piece and she scoops it up. “You can find these in Florence, but every place has their own version. Except for the America, if my uncle was right. Have you ever heard of black pudding?”

“...is that not a type of dessert?”

Camilla giggles and pops the slice into her mouth. The fork returns back to you as she explains, “Rizzo didn’t want me to tell you until after you tried it. He was worried you’d be too scared otherwise. These are blood sausages and they are very good, I swear.”

“Oh!” Now you can understand why there’s been a crawling sensation from your head to neck. It’s not like it’s from a person, you can still think clearly. You hope you can anyways. Maybe a year ago you would have declined such a meal, but now you want to jump at the chance.

You do first have to examine the first piece up close and give it a cautionary sniff. Like the pig blood curd you had tried before, it gives your brain just enough sparks to try it.

The texture is the hardest part to get over. It’s as fragile as you thought it’d be and juicier than you expected. It does taste good, but best of all it starts making your head feel warm. Nothing drastic, and you have to eat all the pieces before being sure that it’s there at all. It’s certainly a pick me up though, and you’re happy to accept it.

“Glad you liked it,” Camilla says as you take the last piece. “We were worried you wouldn’t. And uh, how do you feel…?”

“Um…” you lick the last traces of it from your lips, “A bit better, I think.”

“Good-” Camilla rises from the table, “If you come over here for a moment, I can show you how to prepare it yourself.”

As she explains the different ways to cook the sausage you get to try it for yourself, slicing off circles to put in the skillet. It’s hard not to, but you don’t lick your fingers after. When Camilla points out the pot holder you’re using was made by your grandmother, you take a closer look at the stitching.

“She was always really good at this stuff,” you say, “I knew that even when I was little. It was amazing watching her put together toys.”


“She didn’t do it very often,” you explain to Camilla’s surprise, “but she made a few for my dad and a few for me. My favorite though was this big bunny she made, Ms. Buttons.”

Camilla’s tired face smiles wide, “That’s really sweet of her.”

“Yeah. I didn’t know what she was making at first.” You slide the spatula under the cooking sausage, “I was really little and she let me choose the fabric. She told me it was going to be for a special friend. But I was dumb and thought it was going to be a little sister.”
What a surprise that would have been,” she laughs, “did you get to watch her work on it?”

“A few times, when she was first starting on it. It was all by hand too, I don’t know how she was able to do so many little stitches like that.” You try not to let your face pout now, “She was supposed to teach me how to do that when I got older. After my dad died, I didn’t get to see her as much. Her and my mom didn’t ever get along really.”

“I’ve heard of that too,” she answers sadly before having to reach over and prevent your snack from burning.

While you eat the second serving of blood sausages you let Camilla talk more about the frivolous spending your grandfather did, the times your grandmother would step in and the times she allowed it. Hearing that they did any kind of good is comforting, even if you have to ignore where the money came from.

Eventually you get to help Camilla clean up the kitchen, getting to enjoy the warm buzz in your head as you wash dishes. It makes it easier for you to bring up Crockett during a lull in the conversation.

“I don’t like that he waited so long to tell me either,” you look up at her as you pass over dishes to dry, “but I hope you don’t act too mad at Mr. Crockett. I think I gave him a hard enough time during the car ride home.”

“Right…” Camilla has a frown on her lips, “I won’t go out of my way to berate him for it. I am still annoyed by that, however. Half of the time I can’t tell if he just didn’t listen to me or if he’s choosing to ignore me.”

“If you need me to, then I can always chew him out again.” You grin at Camilla and she slowly returns it. If you’re lucky, then adults sometimes not getting along will be the worst you will have to worry about.

Since you brought him up, do you want to ask Camilla if she thinks Crockett has been acting strange?

Are you more worried about how tired she is? It looks like Camilla could fall asleep at any moment, maybe you can suggest she sit down and relax for a bit.

Or, since no one is going to be in there, do you want to take a moment to explore your grandmother’s room?

Half and half of me being dumb with it and me planning the other part of it
Glad it's back. Both the quest and the blood thing. It was always an interesting facet of Delilah that I was disappointed got put on the backburner.

I still kinda wish she was a vampire.
Oh, and

>Suggest Camilla sit down for a bit.

She's a good lady. Deserves rest.
She should sit down before she starts to space out.
Have Camilla rest
Eat more Sausage if there is more, we're a growing girl after all.
You can’t just ask Camilla to take a nap, she probably wouldn’t go for it. But that doesn’t mean you don’t know how to be crafty.

“Ms. Cammy?” you look up at her eyes she can barely keep open, “I know you’ve been really busy, but can you do me a favor?”

“Anything you need,” she answers.

“I wanted to watch a movie right now, but it gets scary alone.” You try not to lay it on too thick, it only takes a little bit for Camilla to start nodding in agreement. “Do you mind watching it with me? At least for a little bit?”

Camilla holds your hands in hers and gives an earnest nod. “Of course,” she says with a breath of relief.

“Great- c’mon we have to get it all set up first.” You take her by the hand to lead her forward, “I’m so excited, I haven’t seen this movie since it first came out…”

“Um, Delilah? Are you sure you need all of these?”

Camilla looks up at you from the couch, her body almost hidden beneath a pile of blankets thick and thin. You walk in with the last two you could find, adding them to the nest on the couch.

“I want to make it as cozy as possible.” A portable heater sits close to Camilla, and you walk over to turn it on. The coils inside start to glow red as you feel the heat against your fingers, “It’s nice to curl up like this and not have to think about like, anything.”

She gives a nod and you go to the television next. It’s true that you had been excited to watch this tape upon finding it in your borrowed movies. You had been seven years old when this came out, having gone to see it in the theater yourself.

“What did you say this was called?” Camilla wiggles deeper into the blankets whether she realizes it or not. You look back at her with a smile as the VHS goes in.

“The Last Unicorn.”

She tries to hide a yawn, “Sounds nice.”

“Mhm~” You turn off the lights, leaving only the heater and the screen as a source of light. The air is chilly everywhere you walk, but the couch is a different story. Even without Camilla’s body heat, there would be enough warmth in the blanket nest alone.

Camilla, you and all the spare blankets you can find leave the couch snug, discouraging anyone from wanting to get up. You purposefully left the volume low, and snuggle against Camilla and all the blankets rather than speak to her as the tape begins to roll.

You didn’t expect her to stay up long- in fact, the plan was for her not to. But after all the promos play and five minutes into the movie, you feel Camilla’s body go limp.
“Cammy?” you whisper, and smile when you hear her deep, slow breaths. Carefully you move from the couch, trying to ensure that Camilla is sufficiently tucked in. She remains peacefully asleep, and you take the opportunity to go grab you a little extra snack. There had been plenty of those sausages in the fridge, it would be fine if you had one or two more…

Watching the movie for the second time is a strange experience. Camilla remains sleeping the entire time and having her there really is less scary. You much on more pieces of the sausage, telling yourself to go slowly with the delicate pieces.

The first time you saw movie, you were too young to understand everything. You liked it, but it hadn’t made you feel as sad as some other people spoke of it. Now you find parts of it painful to watch, yet feel the need to finish it anyways.

You hadn’t understood why it was so frightening for the unicorn to change into a human form that could feel pain and die. You hadn’t realized how scary dying was- but now you know. You’ve seen it, felt close to death itself even. And like the unicorn at the end, it’s a feeling you can never forget.

But you’re not really like the unicorn. Whether as the unicorn or as Lady Amalthea, she was a wonderful and beautiful creature that was a miracle to see. You however, lick the taste of iron from your fingers and sink into the couch. Something so nice and good would never have the desire for something as terrible as blood.

You have no idea what you are, and that should bother you. But right now you feel just blissful enough not to care, just comfy enough to settle in next to Camilla and pull a blanket over you instead.

“That’s a sad movie,” you yawn, “but I like it anyways.”

“Mhmm, I like ...the music,” she mumbles and gets comfortable again. A little nap together should be fine, Camilla will probably wake up soon anyways.

”Daddy I’m sleepy…” you yawned. The inside of your father’s car was as dark as the night outside, save for the dim glow of numbers on the dashboard.

“Then sleep,” he laughed. It was later than you normally stayed up, but this night was special. You cried to your father about not getting to see ‘the unicorn’ movie like some of the girls in your class had. The closest theater that was playing it was an hour out of town and knew your mother wouldn’t even consider it.

“I don’t wanna!”

It was a late showing too, you two didn’t even leave the house until eight that evening. But it had also been a last minute request and the fact you got to go at all was amazing. It wasn’t a movie your father was interested in- you know for a fact that he was asleep less than halfway in- but you going with him was the best.

“And why not?” he asked.

“Because I never get to stay up with daddy.”

“That’s because a little girl needs her sleep,” he answered with a chuckle, “Daddy has to stay up for work.”

“No you don’t-” you let free a huge yawn, “Just stay up with me!”

“I wish I could! But daddy has to make money so he can take you to the movies like this.”

“Oh, that’s a good reason for money.”

“I thought so too.” Your father began to feel around his shirt pocket before pointing to the backseat. “Delilah, baby? Can you very super special carefully, crawl in the back and get my headache medicine?”

“Yep!” You waited for the bright lights of a passing semi-truck to pass before undoing your seat belt and getting into the back. He had thrown the jacket into the seat earlier and it had fallen too far out of reach.

Right away you reached for the pocket that he kept his Aspirin in. The same bottle he always used, the label thumbed off and faded from months of use. You brought it up to your ear and gave it a shake, frowning when there’s no sound.

“I think you’re out Daddy.”

“What?” He attempted to look back but kept his eyes forward on the road to keep driving straight. Instead he put his hand back, motioning at you. “Here baby, let me see it.”

You handed it over and your father wasted no time getting inside. His finger felt around inside, pulling the cotton ball stuffed at the bottom.

“Don’t they sell those at the stores? Can we buy more? And maybe some ice cream too?” Your smile faded quickly when your father didn’t answer.

“Delilah, can you check the pockets? Maybe see if one fell out?”

With a pout, you started to search the jacket. You came up empty handed though, and so did your father after searching his pant pockets.

“Dammit…” he muttered, hand thudding against the steering wheel. Another car passes, it’s lights illuminating where you sit. As you stare at his jacket, you remembered it hanging by the door before you two had left. A little more thinking and you remembered you had been messing with the jacket while your father was getting ready to go.

Did you tell him that Mommy had been messing with his jacket before leaving?
No need to say a thing.
The sit down, shut up, and hope the mood stays good long enough for whatever is wrong to blow over.
No more yelling. :<
No, that would be a bad idea. You didn’t know why she would mess with them, or if she had at all. But you know that it wouldn’t turn out good if you tattled. He would get mad and scold her. Unlike when you’d get in trouble, he would raise his voice at her. Besides, you’re positive there were at least four other bottles of Aspirin that your mother kept around the house for herself. Those were the ones you were allowed to use if needed, if there was any left after her drinking headaches.

“We could stop at the store and get you more!” you said, crawling back into the front seat. As you scrambled to get buckled up again your father was continuing to search his clothes. With him in a panic, you didn’t say anything else. Instead you just smiled at him, waiting for your father to notice and look over.

“Ah… that’s a good idea,” he said, his hand returning to the steering wheel, “But it would be better for a certain someone to get home and into her own bed.”

You tried to protest, but it was hard enough to keep your head up, “I can stay awake!”

“Even kittens need to sleep,” he said. You know that sometimes his headaches could make him grumpy. Not that he ever try to let his mood reach you. It was something that you had learned by watching how he acted around others instead.

“Dads have to um, they have to sleep too.” You settled into the seat, no longer trying to keep your eyes open. “That way they can play tomorrow too.”

“Maybe if I can finish work early.”

The last memories of that night involved your father reach over to ruffle your hair and you finally falling asleep. You slept peacefully past the bumps and curves of the road, all the way to the garage.

You heard your father call out your name, but he didn’t waste much more effort in waking you up. He picked you up into his arms easily and all you did was grumble at him for disturbing you.

“It’ll be much nicer to sleep in your own bed.”

Though your eyes were too heavy to open you could listen to what was going on around. At this time of night it was quiet, and every little noise that did squeak up felt louder than usual.

“It’s late.” Your mother’s voice was an even harsher whisper than usual. You buried the frown against your father’s chest.

He also spoke in a whisper, though with you there his words didn’t cut like they could. “I told you it would take an hour just to drive there.”

“She has school tomorrow.”

“One night won’t hurt her.”

“Did you even ask if she had homework?” She didn’t sound drunk and if she managed to stay up this late she probably wasn’t.

Your father didn’t answer the question. He hadn’t asked and you did have two pages of math for tomorrow. Instead he carried you down the hall and to your bedroom.

“Hm, sleep well…” you mumble. The bed isn’t as warm as it could be, but you try to bury yourself in the blankets and sheets to fix that.

He gives a short chuckle, “I’m supposed to say that to you.”
”Sleep well,” your father left a kiss on your forehead, “Lets see if I can clear some time for you again tomorrow, okay?”

You nodded, giving tired sighs as you tried to settle back down. “Yes please. I -yawn-, love you Daddy.”

“I love you too.”

From beyond the bedroom door you could hear your parents whisper to one another. But it never got louder than that, it didn’t continue for long. You don’t know why your mother was so afraid of your father driving but that sounded like her biggest concern.

If needed, you’d let her know that he was a good driver. He didn’t fall asleep at the wheel, drive into anything, get pulled over for speeding- none of that happened this time, and you were determined to let her know that he did a good job.

“Is she still sleeping?” Camilla’s voice whispers from a distance.

You open your eyes from the pillows you had buried yourself in. Crockett stands at the door, holding it partially closed behind him.

“She barely noticed I was carrying her, I think.” It’s a bit of a surprise to realize that Crockett had indeed carried you to bed, but you’re okay with it. Your head still feels like it’s in a warm, dreamy fuzz. Enough to make you want to stay put for nap for a while longer.

“I can’t believe how long I slept…” Camilla sounds ashamed of herself, “I don’t usually do that while I’m working.”

“Can’t say I blame you.”

It’s strange to hear them getting along now, but it puts a little smile on your face. The door closes and you’re left to get some sleep after a long day.


Bad. bad bad bad

Whatever euphoric feelings the blood snack had given you earlier vanished entirely. You woke up on your back, sweat and tears keeping the dark hair plastered to your face.

It felt like your heart had stopped beating entirely until you opened your eyes. Then it started going again all too fast and breathing became difficult. Your head spins with the desire to hide or run away or curl up in a ball.

“L-Lawrence…?” your voice is hoarse as you feel across the bed. It’s dark, you’re alone, and you have been alone this entire time. Somehow in this intense panic you realize this is your room, not his.

It’s frightening to get off the bed and feel your way for the door. Even if you’re awake now, it feels like someone is waiting in the darkness to grab you. To grab and hurt you again like in your dream, like what had been done to you-

The bedroom door remains open as you stumble into the hallway. You have to hold onto the walls to inch forward. It’s been a while since you had a nightmare so awful, you almost forgot how they could be.

You’re sobbing as your reach Lawrence’s room, struggling with the door until you finally get it open. Just like yours, his room remains dark and empty.

“Where a-are you…?” you cry, knees buckling as you step away. It only takes a few steps before you crumble to the ground, sobbing as you breathing becomes even more difficult than before.
You have no idea how long you’ve been there before someone kneels down and places their hands on your shoulder.

“Oh Christ, you okay kid?”

You can barely answer Brandi’s question as you gasp in air.

“B-bad…” you stutter and grab your chest, “Was h-hurting me a-again, I-... I’m s-scared. H-he’s going to t-take my b-b-breath again…!”

Brandi looks around in fear, chewing her lip. She calls out down the hall a few times, keeping next to you the whole time. In attempts to help you calm down she tries to keep the hair of your face, trying to clear the way so you can suck in air you need.

Moments later and Crockett is running down the hallway, kneeling down but afraid to come in close like Brandi is.

“What the hell is going on? What happened?” he can’t tell if he should be asking you or Brandi, his eyes bouncing between.

“I dunno,” she answers when you can’t, “I heard her crying outside and found her like this. I think she had a bad dream?”

“Is that all?” Crockett still sounds scared for you and he tries to get you to look at him. “Is that true Delilah? How can we help?”

“I-I want L-Lawrence,” you cry, “h-he can keep me s-saaaafe…”

“That big guy?” Brandi asks, “I’m pretty sure he’s somewhere here.” She looks up at Crockett, “Do you want to go find him?”

He must not have looked happy with that answer, as she sighs and gives you a quick squeeze. “Stay with him,” Brandi whispers to you, “I’ll go find your friend.”

Crockett is left holding you next, though he keeps as much distance between him and yourself as he can. Brandi limps down the hallway as quick as she can, turning on lights as she passes by.

“If he gets here, will you be okay?” Crockett asks you gently.

You nod, “I w-would feel s-...s-safer sleeping in his room.”

He scowls.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” he speaks nervously, “wouldn’t you feel safer in your own room?”

You shake your head.

“It’s s-scary when he’s not there…” you whimper.

“I don’t know if letting you sleep in a uh, a grown man’s room like that is a good idea,” he answers. “What if we had Camilla sit with you at night? Or- or uh, you don’t mind that Brandi girl, yeah? What about her?”

It’s not the same. There are plenty of nights where one of them would be helpful in keeping you calm, but nights like these are the worst. Even now, the sensation from the nightmare remains. The fear and panic it gave you, the terrible reminders of what had happened to you before. This wasn’t a normal nightmare and you’re not sure if he understands that.

As painful as it would be, do you want to tell Crockett how bad the nightmare was?
Lawrence has kept us safe far longer and from far worse than Crockett ever has. Tired of this mistrust. Yeah i get where his mind is wandering and that's what's fucked up. We're finally, actually safe and we need Lawrence for comfort, not to protect us against rapists and drug addled lunatics staying in the same building or homeless hunters and hired guns.

Crockett can shove his concern where the sun don't shine. We'd be dead or worse ten times over without Lawrence... And the rest of the group, wherever they are now;_;
Nah, explaining it to him would be a waste and probably send us deeper into panic.
Maybe tomorrow when we are feeling better but for not just tell him to kick rocks and bring us our Lawrence.
“He’s the o-only one I have left a-... anymore…” you choke and try to push Crockett’s hands off of you. As a man he’s too close, far far too close to you right now. He releases you but doesn’t move back. While you hate it, he does catch you when your legs give out again.

“E-everyone else is gone.” The cold air hurts to breathe into your tender lungs. “All my f-friends and family. The p-people who’ve been h-helping m-me. I h-have to stay near him, I have to m-make sure he doesn’t go away too.”

You end up on the ground again, knees drawn up to your chest and hands grabbing at your hair. “He’ll protect m-me. He said so, he h-has to. Lawrence is g-going to keep me s-safe from anyone, he w-will! You have to bring h-him here! Please! I n-need him."

Crockett stares down at you, lost over what he should do. You start counting the seconds until your knight comes and makes everything better.

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“Hello? Lawrence…? You out here, guy?”

The stack of ash from your cigarette finally falls to the snow. The blackened filter follows soon after, it’s been burning in your mouth far too long. You weren’t enjoying this shitty pack of smokes, yet you went through the whole damn thing at once.

It was the only way you could turn off your brain, where you wouldn’t have to think or worry about anything. One of those rare moments you get to yourself, and you had to spoil it by getting the cheapest carton you could.

You were going to have to back inside anyways. The only thing you thought of out here was how easy it might be to just walk out in the darkness, to trek out in the snow and wind up wherever you wind up.

The thought makes your hands clench and you turn away from the open field of darkness. You can’t see her in the night air, but by now you can recognize the voice as Brandi.

She waits at the kitchen door, the light behind her illuminating the tracks you had already left walking out. You follow them back, wafting the offensive smell of tobacco off your clothes in vain.

The hairs stand on the back of your neck as you look at the woman. Her face is pale and she looks sick. You pray she’s not about to beg you for help with the baby.

“You need to come inside,” her words snap, “Delilah said she needed you.”

And just like that, a switch flips in your head.

You aren’t so crass as to shove an injured, pregnant woman out of the way. There’s no thought of waiting for her either. Brandi has to hobble behind the best she can as you track snow through over the floor. Your heart races painfully as you search, picking up on the echo of sobbing and following it.

Delilah, curled up on the ground, is the first thing your eyes land on. It’s after you’ve ran over that you notice Crockett standing there too.

He stares daggers as you come kneel beside Delilah.

The blue stands out in her bloodshot eyes as she peeks over the cover of her hands. She gasps, throwing her arms around you and holding on as tight as she can.

“You’re f-finally here!” Delilah cries into your shoulder, her fingers clawing at your jacket, “It was t-terrible, I th-thought they were going to h-hurt me again. But you’re here now. I’ll be okay now, y-you’ll keep me safe.”

You nod to everything she says. Her entire body shakes and she’s given up on standing on her own entirely. Rather than try to hold her up, carrying her would be the easiest option.

“Where are you going with her?” Crockett’s question forces you to stop in place. You had been prepared to take her back to bed, but had forgotten who was there watching.

“I’ll be f-fine now,” Delilah pipes up from your arms. She smiles past the tears as she looks up at you. The way she looks at you like this warm your heart and breaks it at the same time.
“You’re not taking her to your room,” he asks in disbelief. There’s no way for you to speak for yourself like this, but what would you say anyways? Crockett glares daggers, but the soft, sad voice from below makes you look down.

“Please,” she whimpers, “I’m scared to go to s-sleep again…”

It’s tearing him apart. You can see it on his face. The way he seethes when looking at you, but the heartbreak that comes when Delilah talks. But if she needs you there to sleep, then you need to be there. This might as well be your fault anyways. Had you not spent time fucking around outside like a selfish asshole, then none of this would happen.

You start walking to the bedroom again. Crockett steps forward, no doubt ready to try and put a stop to this.

“Ace, leave them alone.”

He stops when Camilla calls out to him from down the hallways, Brandi following close behind her.

“Do you even know what’s going on?” He’s pissed, and Crockett doesn’t try to hide it.

“I’ve heard enough,” she speaks firmly, “Would you rather her cry in fear all night? Lawrence has been taking care of her before we have, let him do what he needs.”

“And this-” Crockett glares at you and back at her again, “is what we should be doing?”

“And do you have a better solution?” Camilla snaps, “Or are you only going to complain again?”

Brandi, out of breath now, watches as everything unfolds from the end of the hallway.

“Maybe screaming at each other isn’t the best idea right now...” huffs Brandi.

Delilah keeps her face against your chest, squinting against what little light there is. “I’m still sleepy…” she sniffs, “can I g-go to bed now?” She doesn’t mean alone and you’re certain that everyone knows that.

“Of course,” Camilla answers. She walks over, perhaps ready to fight back Crockett if needed. He looks between you and her, stammer and stumbling over the words he struggles to find in the first place.

“We-, you can’t-” You can hear as Crockett’s teeth grind against each other, “Y-...Delilah needs to sleep, yes. Don’t think about locking the door.”

You weren’t waiting on his permission to take her away. Not having to fight him right now, that’s the best you could ask for.

All eyes are on you as you finally get to carry Delilah into your bedroom. You don’t even close the door all the way, not yet. Whatever it takes to get Crockett to stop bitching, if that's even possible.
Delilah is whispering a string of thanks when you lay her down on the bed. Her breathing is still heavy and hard, you recognize it from other times she’s woken up like this. But she smiles at you anyways as she goes limp against the sheet.

“I’m sorry for making so much t-trouble for you,” she sighs between troubled breathing. Just being around you has calmed her down significantly, at least so you don’t have to worry about her choking on her own breaths.

She’s okay with letting you walk away to the other side of the room. The boots have already lost most of their snow and mud out in the hallway and you leave them where they fall. As you place the jacket down, you can hear Camilla and Crockett outside.

They’re barely whispering in their argument and it’s no surprise who they’re talking about.

>If they’re talking about you, it would be best to know what they’re saying
>It doesn’t matter. Close the door to block out the sound and return to Delilah
>Step outside for a moment, let them know they can talk about this somewhere else
Just stay there and hold her hands, we already know what Crockett is saying. Not the first time someone looks at you and Delilah and thinks you're a child molester. He's just seething with anger that Delilah hasn't accepted him as the father he wants to be and can't stand that he is not her number one.

You can take him in a fight. Easy. If you have to.

When she's fallen asleep get the notebook and explain her night terrors and that Crockett can go fuck himself is he cares more about his petty little feelings than her well-being.

Maybe make plans to escape with Delilah if her grandmother doesn't make it, who knows what this group will do when she is not there to bring them together
>If they’re talking about you, it would be best to know what they’re saying
>But if it bothers Delilah then simply go and close the door.
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You pause at the door for a moment, just long enough to hear Camilla hiss defenses for this arrangement. A whimper from the bed brings you back over. That woman was vehemently defending you out there- it should be a bizarre experience.

The smile Delilah put on has gone away again. She curls up in a way to keep her eyes on you, to make sure you don’t leave her alone. The neckline of her shirt droops down, stretched out and revealing the red lines left by her fingernails. It’s something she’s done in her sleep before, something you’ve stopped before it got to this.

Already, you’ve forgotten about the argument going on right outside the door. You’re approach to the bed is slow and cautious. Even if she requested you here, you always have to remain careful. Careful careful careful.

“I should h-have stayed up…”

It was only a bit after midnight when you came back and now it’s almost three in the morning. You’d been here, but you weren’t were you should have been. Instead you were being a selfish asshole and wasting all that time outside.

It takes plenty of patience to help Delilah out of her outside clothes. She requests help with the shirt that proved too constrictive in her panic. You work as quickly as she can handle, averting your eyes until she has one of your spares.

Her fingers grab around the collar of the shirt, tugging and feeling the space it gives. There’s a burn in your throat as you remember how you use to do that before.

“It w-was the...the ch-choking one,” whimpers Delilah as her body begins to crumble down to the bed, “I thought I was going to d-die. I c-couldn’t breathe and he was s-smiling…”

She clings to the back of your shirt, sobbing against you.

“My g-granny might die… my aunt is taking m-mom away,” Delilah is letting all the words spill out now and she doesn’t loosen her hands even as you try to turn to face her. You manage to shift her around and she attaches herself to your side instead. “I don’t know where y-you are most of the time. I hate it. I w-wish you didn’t have to go.”

“Me too.”

A smile trembles to her face when you agree. It’s gone again, but she’s finally calming down. Several minutes pass with her holding on to you and quietly whimpering. You coax her under the blanket, onto the pillow, into place where she needs to be. She brings one of her cold hands out and you warm it easily in yours.

Her exhaustion is just higher than her fear, yet not enough to let her sleep peacefully. Sad blue eyes flutter open often, sometimes paired with a gasp or short cry. The time between each of these moments grows longer, if only bit by bit. Sitting beside her, waiting to calm Delilah down whenever it happens, gives you time to write the notes you’ll need later.
You had been so busy running around the past few days, you’d only heard about the change in Delilah’s grandma recently. While it’s painful to see her so hurt by this news, it also makes you worried for the future. If she were to pass, keeping this little group functioning might be impossible. You brainstorm some ideas to discuss with Delilah in the morning. If you could stay all day you would. God, it’d be so much better if you could.

The next note you write is for Crockett. It doesn’t sound like he and Camilla are arguing outside the door any longer and it’s almost amazing that he hasn’t stormed in here.

While you know exactly what to write down this time, it’s difficult. The burn in your throat travels to your chest the more you explain in writing.

Delilah had a repeated nightmare from one of the men that had hurt her before you came along. Having to relive the terrifying moment of his weight against her chest and hands around her neck. Having her breath stolen by someone, having it taken away by someone ecstatic to see her frightened for her very life.

You had only been a bit older than her when that boy cut your breath away. That fear doesn’t get easier with age. It’s nothing a person could possibly get used to, no matter how many times their nightmares make them relive it. Slow and painful, just able to think enough about being close to death but not able to do anything about it. At the mercy of someone who only wants to see you struggle for your life-

Memories that you had stored away for years come rushing back at once. You choke on nothing but the fear from years ago.

You gulp down air again when you can. The shake in your hands has returned, though this time it’s going through your whole body too.

What a fucking miserable thing for her to go through.

Hands gently press against your back.

“Lawrence?” Delilah hums. She’s hoarse but her voice remains soft. “Did you have a bad dream too?”

You don’t answer and her cheek pushes against you next.

“You get those too, don’t you?” Delilah gives a sad sigh as she brings herself closer to you, “I’ve seen the faces you’ve made in your sleep.”

>Put on a brave face, she doesn’t need to worry about you more than she does already
>Be honest, she would appreciate that from you
>>Be honest, she would appreciate that from you
>Be honest, she would appreciate that from you
Your fingers travel over the thin lines scratched into your throat. There’s no reason to lie, Delilah knows that even someone like you still feels fear.

“I do.” Deep breaths in, deep breaths out. A serenity starts to drift over as you try to keep pace with Delilah’s breathing. You’re fine right now, as best as you can be.

“Do they scare you too?”

“Yeah.” There’s a stupid smirk on your face now. It just feels so weird to talk about this, you aren’t really sure it’s actually happening.

Instead of making her kneel behind you the whole time you convince Delilah to lay down again. And this time you go too, no longer thinking about keeping an eye on the door. If anyone was going to come in and drag one of you out, it would have happened by now.

It’s a slow, tedious process. You’re looking up at the ceiling, mumbling along a word or two at a time as Delilah has to wait. It’d be fine if it made her fall asleep. She patient though, just always so patient. Through each pause for breath, every time you have to stop to gather your thoughts, and each time it became too difficult to continue.

She listens as you tell of nightmares being back in prison again and how there was never a day that was easy there. Sometimes, you dream someone getting revenge. People you’ve hurt, whether they deserved it or not, coming to return what you inflicted to them and more.

Your parents show up in them too. From mom being unable to look at you in fear, to dad telling you each and every little thing you ever did wrong. Events that he would have no knowledge of have come from his mouth, things you swore weren’t your fault, and plenty more that you wish you had never done.

Michele would appear too. The dreams of your sister though, they didn’t always end bad. You’d feel sick after waking from them either way. While there was a chance of kindness with her, the other girls you dreamt of weren’t so kind.

Girls you had met and left- women that had never been an option. Those who you only felt friendship towards and those who you had no interest in. It seems like they all would look down at you, be it in contempt or fear or disgust.

There were nightmares with Delilah too, of course. Frail and tiny, begging for help in the same sort of voice. Begging you for help, unable to do anything but wait for the wolves to devour her.

You don’t tell Delilah of those ones. She listens to the rest just fine despite how tired she must be.

“I’ll have to keep an eye out for you too,” Delilah hums. She’s barely keeping herself awake now. “It’s not fair if you have to deal with it alone either.”
You’re more than thankful that Delilah stays asleep this time. Even if she hadn’t gone through her night terrors, you wouldn’t have gotten much sleep anyways. There’s so much you have to do in the next twenty-four hours and just thinking about it makes your heart race.

Something else outside the door puts you on alert. You almost jerk up, but stop yourself just short of disturbing Delilah. It was a sound in the hallway so quiet you doubt it was even there. The wires in your brain don’t want to think that way though. They’re screaming at you to go check and you do.

Crockett has just started to back up when you open the door. He gasps in surprise before his face angles down with a glare. His eyes dart around you to look in the bedroom behind and you’re not afraid to give him a look.

“...is she sleeping fine now?” he asks through tightly gritted teeth. You nod, though you wouldn’t say that she’s all better. “It’s six in the morning,” Crockett explains, pulling out a pair of keys from his pocket. It must be hard to hold himself back right now, you just have to wonder what Camilla could have told him.

You take the car keys, pocketing them as he holds up a folder next.

“And this is the address,” he says, “says that he should be home about eleven tonight. I don’t care when you get over there, just get it done and do it right.”

He must have been able to tell what you were thinking when you looked at the information in his hand.

“The information here is legitimate,” he has to hold back from speaking too loudly, “I got it myself yesterday. The guy has never been wrong for something big like this.”

It rubs you the wrong way, but for reasons Crockett doesn’t understand. You volunteered to do this after learning who it was he was after. It’s going to be risky and illegal, and it needs to be done.

“I have to go out here in a bit, I might have found a lawyer willing to help us out.” Crockett can’t help but look back to the bedroom. You don’t try to block the way but you don’t really try to move for him either. “I don’t know when you were planning on going out, but now you should have everything you need.”
His hand clenches tight before being hidden away in his pocket.

“For the record, I’m only letting this happen because I have to.” The whites of his teeth shine as he glares, “Don’t you dare even think about doing anything funny. Don’t you make me wrong for trusting the Italian on this. If I so much as see you look at her the wrong way, much less place a hand on her-”

While most like to talk big, you know Crockett has some bite to his bark. You’ve talked with his cop friend, Palmer. She was okay with telling you why he had to give up his badge and why she’s indebted to him. You were told of the man he killed, the revenge he took on Palmer’s behalf. While that was him avenging her murdered brother, you have no doubt that he wouldn’t hesitate to do the same to you.

>Stand your ground and don’t let him think you’re intimidated
>If he’s going to act tough then do the same, remind him who would win in a fight
>It’s not worth the effort, the sooner he’s on his way the better
also out of town for a few days, posting might be more erratic than usual if thats even possible, but should be back to normal later this week
>If he’s going to act tough then do the same, remind him who would win in a fight

We'll have to talk to Camilla and Palmer about this guy, he's being irrational and dangerous.
>It’s not worth the effort, the sooner he’s on his way the better
>It’s not worth the effort, the sooner he’s on his way the better
Definitely should talk to Cammy and Palmer about him though. This has the potential to turn very ugly, and Ace isn't a friend like John.
It would be great if you could just grab Crockett and give him a firm reminder that you won’t back down so easily. But the sooner he’s too preoccupied to think of you, the better.

He eyes your hand as it reaches back into your pocket. When you reveal it as only the folded up note you wrote earlier, he eases up some.

“Oh? What’s this?” Crockett looks amused that you actually have something written for him. While he’s never bitched about having to wait for you to write everything out, he wasn’t expecting you to have something ready for him. Or maybe that is exactly what he thought you would do. Either way, he takes it from your hand and gives it a good look over before opening.

You cough, trying to prepare yourself for the difficult part.

“D--...Delilah.” You wait. Crockett has already begun to scan over the letter, but a few seconds he finally realizes what just happened.

“Were you saying something?” He looks at you in shock.

“This is… Delilah’s.” You tap the letter in Crockett’s hand, “Not...always bad. This bad. Cries...often.”

His eyes return to the page. No matter how much he hates you for being the one she turns to, he cares more about Delilah.

“...” Keeping quiet, he continues to look down the page. He might not have read everything yet, but it must be enough for now. “I don’t want to see that girl cry anymore.”

That’s something you can more than agree with, you nod. His face goes from a soft, sadness into a sharp glare at you again.

“If I ever catch word that anything happens to her because of you…”

No use in trying to argue anything, no reason to get him riled up more than needed. All you do is nod and show off the keys and folder in your hand. If he has anything to say he keeps it to himself, even looking away as you walk back into the bedroom. You know that you’re going to have to talk to Camilla and even Palmer soon, a man like this worries you.

With one last look, you can see that he’s holding the paper you gave him ever so tightly.

In a rare instance, you get to sleep in. It’s only a few hours of sleep but it’s enough to get you through today. Once you get back then maybe you’ll be able to get a full night’s rest.

This time when you try to slip your arm out of Delilah’s grip she wakes up. Her eyes are still bloodshot and she doesn’t look happy about opening them. But there’s no complaints as she attempts to delve back between the blankets and you.

“Oh…!” At some point she lifts herself up, rubbing her tired eyes. “You’re still here! Is it really that early still?”

“Staying,” you answer, “For the...morning.”

Delilah’s face lights up before realizing that it still means you will have to leave later today. She settles back down for now, making sure to pull the blanket close around you and herself.
“I was worried you’d be gone” she says, “I wish you wouldn’t have to go later.”

You don’t want to go either, but it’s something important you have to do. Once you get through tonight, it might be one day closer to Delilah never having to worry about that again.

“Delilah,” you whisper to her when it seems like she’s awake enough to listen.


You begin to reach for the page you wrote for her earlier, “Need to...talk.”

“About what?” she asks with a grimace.

“Escape...plan. Just in...case.”

It takes plenty of time for Delilah to read your shitty writing while her eyesight is still blurry from last night.

It’s not that solid of a plan, not yet. If things ever went to shit, you would obviously grab Delilah and get her out of here. Access to a car here should be easy enough, but you’d carry her through the goddamned snow if needed.

From there it gets even more vague and blurry. There are some towns you could reach with a few hours of driving. Places that you know just well enough and with the distant relative or acquaintance you can cash a favor from. Hell, you’d be fine living in the car if it wasn’t too hard for Delilah.

“Promise to do all the driving, and I’ll learn how to read maps instead.” She smiles at you, faint red lines left down her cheek from last night. “Maybe I can find enough stuff here that we can use to buy a house instead. But then maybe we might have to change our names? Ah, does that mean I should start thinking of one just in case?”

She actually looks a bit delighted to talk about it. Though after the night she went through, talking about anything else must sound amazing.

>Warn Delilah that you’re going to have a difficult and risky job tonight, but you’ll make sure to come back
>Tease her about having to choose something cool for a name change or you’ll have to pick it for her
>Ask if she's going to be okay until you get back. If she's worried about it happening again then maybe she needs to stay up for your return
>Apologize for not being here last night. You had returned home but waited too long to come see her
>Tease her about having to choose something cool for a name change or you’ll have to pick it for her
>Apologize for not being here last night. You had returned home but waited too long to come see her

>Tease her about having to choose something cool for a name change or you’ll have to pick it for her
>Apologize for not being here last night. You had returned home but waited too long to come see her

Are we finally going to see what the hell Lawrence has been up to all this time?
There’s a grin on your face when you tell her, “Has to… be good.”

Delilah props her head up on her hands, smiling past a yawn. “The name?”

“Yeah.” You close your eyes, trying to enjoy the fact that you get to spend a moment like this in a comfortable bed. There’s been far and few times in the past few years when you’ve got the luxury of both a pillow and blanket, much less a mattress. “Needs to...sound cool.”

“No it doesn’t!” Delilah’s voice is still too hoarse to speak loudly, but she squeaks out the words as enthusiastically as she can. “It can be a nice and pretty sounding! I want people to think I'm um, a lady and stuff.”

With a quiet chuckle you offer, “Princess?” You can almost feel how red Delilah’s face is right now.

“N-no! Not that!” She grabs and squishes your cheeks with a soft anger, “Not in front of other p-people, anyways…”

Delilah pinches your cheeks again when your grin grows.

“You can not, absolutely not,” she warns, releasing you after she felt it had been a long enough punishment. “Maybe I’ll come up with something. I hope we don’t have to do that, but just in case. I think my grandpa did something like that too.”

Her eyes grow somber and her lip begins to quiver. The warmth from her face radiates through the shirt as she hides her face against your shoulder. You can feel the motion of her deep, slow breaths as she keeps herself calm.

You arm wraps around her as close as she’s comfortable with. When she settles her chin against your instead, her dark eyelashes remain close and her eyebrows scrunch down. s

“...sorry,” you tell her, eyes looking away as you feel embarrassed. “Shouldn’t...have waited.”

“To come here?”

You nod, “To see...you.”

Her lips tighten to a thin line and she tries to hide her upset face in your shirt, “I’m not mad at you. I wish you didn’t have to come running like that, all because of me.” A smile flashses to her face for a bit when you rest your head against hers.

Yesterday was a long day. Most of your days have been.

This time you were waiting in some shithole bar all day for some asshole to show up. Some slimy guy who spent more time drunk and high than he did sober. Of course he wouldn’t want to spend any time reading some stranger’s note at a bar, but he was more than happy to accept a drink on you.
It took wasting far too much money on alcohol to get him sloppy enough with his words to get what you came for. Of course you had to listen to every vulgar comment he made at women in his vision or the spiteful insults he’d throw at the men. That only worked in your favor to get him alone, guiding him out with a greasy arm holding on to you for stability.

>’Wuh uh, what were you hittin’ me up fer anyways? Looking t’buy somethin’?’

You hated having to be near this kind of man. You hated having to help him walk, having to be kind to him. You were told what sort of person he was, but had to go meet him in person to confirm it.

>’Oh I bet I can guess. Heh, yer after some uh, some video tapes aren’t ya? Bet ya heard bout the special ones I got. Why doncha buy us a couple bottles a somethin’ and I can show ‘em to ya.’

Each step you walked with that man made your blood boil. As soon as you could, you threw him down onto the porch of some apartment and ran off before he could stand again.

He said what you needed to know, and you were happy to add his name to Crockett’s list.

After that, you couldn’t go right back to Delilah. It felt wrong to. Being around a man so willing to give out the types of things he has, and then coming right back to her…

You needed some time to think about it. Or rather, to not think about it at all. As much as you’d have liked to not to, there’s no way you could have looked at her face and not thought about who you had been around hours prior.

“My head hurts…” Delilah mumbles, her face contorting more from the pain, “D-...do you think you can make me breakfast? If you feel like it, I mean…”

It sounds like such a nice change of pace that you can’t really say no.
Greentext for those two sentences only because I don't have the ability to do italics with this IP
“There’s something special in the fridge that Ms. Cammy bought,” she says, “It’s a type of sausage. A um, blood sausage.”

You grimace at the idea of a sausage oozing blood. Delilah laughs at the face you make.

“I know it sounds gross, but it’s actually pretty yummy. Even without it um, doing that thing to me.” Her face looks down as she talks about it, “Which is nice cause I think it’s going to help me right now.”

Now it worries you. It’s not something you want to tell her about, nothing you want to think about yourself.

“Works?” you ask, bracing for her answer.

“It’s not as nice as you-....the um, the real stuff,” Delilah stumbles over her flustered words, “and it doesn’t make me feel as loopy. But it doesn’t really last too long either, I think. I guess if it ever gets really bad then I can um, d-don’t get too grossed out, okay? There’s some bags of the r-real stuff that the doctor left for me to use. I don’t have to freak you out with that stuff anymore, isn’t that good?”

You freeze up. It was strange in the beginning. Hell, it’s still strange. The difference is how you feel about it, and how it makes you feel.

It might be all in your head, shit you’re making up to somehow make this all okay. But after the past few times Delilah has taken blood from you directly, it’s actually left you feeling more energetic afterwards. Uplifted, warmer and less afraid of the world.

It's enthralling.

And now, you fear you’ll never get it again.

>Bring up that you kind of miss it now
>Tell Delilah that you’re not sure if you can keep going without it
>You can find other ways to deal with it, don’t bring it up
>Bring up that you kind of miss it now
Say it to show her we don't mind and she isn't gross more than to try and convince her we actually like it and want her to do it.
Even if we sorta do.
>>Bring up that you kind of miss it now
In a totally platonic way of course!
I apologize for the wait, I am back home now and should be able to get updates out at the normal slow rate rather than nonexistent
>Bring up that you kind of miss it now
This is more about her though. She's gotta feel all kinds of wrong about relying on blood, and we can't even begin to wrap our mind around what it's about. Least we can do is make her feel less... weird.
Sorry, very very busy last few days and this was written over the course of it in segments. Bear with me while I try to keep back on track ;_;

You try to laugh to hide the nervousness bubbling up inside.

“Will...miss it.”

Delilah’s eyes light up and she holds her breath after asking, “Really?”

This isn’t the time to be stupid with this. Can’t be too eager about it, but you’re scared of letting it slip away.

“Got used...to it.” You’re not, but it feels like you’re sweating bullets right now. Having Delilah’s eyes glued to you doesn’t help either, and you have to fix that before fucking up.

With a drawn out sigh you start to ruffle and rumple up Delilah’s hair in the way that she loves to hate. Now with her attention partially distracted by trying to pull away your hand, or at least get you to slow down to a gentle petting, it feels like you can start thinking a bit clearer.

“But it’s- eek stooop!-... it’s such a weird thing to do…” A shadow of shame comes over before her face warms up lets out a giggle here and there.


“And it’s like, gross and stuff.”

Your hand finally holds still in her hair so that Delilah can look at the pitiful show you put up. “Because...I’m gross?” You figured she would call you out for the bad puppy dog act but she quickly shakes her head instead.

Nooo,” she quickly shakes her head, “I don’t think you’re gross. If you were then I don’t think I’d be okay with doing that in the first place. But it feels cruel to ask you to go through that too…”

“Not...big deal.” You can feel you heart beat all the way to the tips of your fingers. Thinking about it gives you that itch for it, worse than any nicotine withdrawal. But being here now, you’re able to keep calm. “Doesn’t...bother.”

She mumbles, “It did in the beginning…” and you shrug.

“But not...now.”

Delilah tries to hide the smile that creeps across her lips. Never did you think you’d have this sort of conversation about letting someone take your blood, but yet it’s happening and you’re fine with it. And while she keeps insisting that it’s something too strange for a girl to do, never does she say that she’s going to stop turning to you for it either.

It doesn’t take much work for Delilah to convince you to make breakfast for her. While you wish you could stay far longer, you can only stick around for so long. In the kitchen she gives you very specific, very excited instructions on how to prepare her special food. The texture looks strange to you but she eyes it hungrily, swearing up and down that it’s delicious.

You promise to take her word on it, preparing it in it’s own pan as you heat up some regular sausages and eggs for yourself. She takes a seat at the table after becoming even more excited upon discovering that she had been bought apple juice too.

Every so often, you hear Delilah give out a frustrated sigh from behind. And each time you sneak a look back, she has a handful of hair held between her hands. Fingers comb through divided sections as a ponytail holder hangs from her mouth. This continues all the way through the time it takes you to finish cooking, a nervous but growing smile on her face.

“Look,” she says with her hands showcasing the section of hair hanging by her face, “it’s kind of long enough to braid now. I’m not very good at them, but now you can see some of my real hair color again.”

Delilah beams as she points to the blonde sections woven through the braid. The lighter color is still drowned out in the waves of black, but being forced to change it has made the subject a stressful one.

You take a seat next to her, running a hand over your own hair. “Should...bleach mine?” you try to keep a straight face upon seeing Delilah’s horrified one in response, “So we...can match.”

“Don’t do that!” she scolds, speaking between taking bites of the meat- of the weird blood sausages you made, “You look all cool and mysterious with darker hair. Plus, I don’t want people to think I’m your little sister or anything like that again. “

“What about...red.” This time Delilah jumps out of her seat to tell you no, gray eyes glaring as you can’t keep a straight face any more. She only settles down when you assure her that you barely go through the effort to have it maintained with occasional trims, much less going through any efforts of coloring it.
“Now maybe if you grow it out, then I can practice braiding on you,” Delilah hums the words a bit as she picks out the next piece, “this one is okay but it’s not very pretty.”

This time you smile for a bittersweet reason. It’s reminiscent of talks back with your sister. Back when you were younger, and before either of you had become embarrassments to your parents.


“You know dad’s not going to let you out of the house like that, right?”

Michelle glowered at you in the reflection of her hand mirror. She continued to paint her lips the bright, eye catching red that she fawned over in the magazines.

“Good thing he doesn’t know I’m leaving the house then.” She whipped her head around to look back at you, her eyes narrowed into a thin slant. “He doesn’t know and he won’t know, right?” You bit your tongue, looking anywhere from the right curls of her perm to her high heels waiting on the floor.

“Right, Lawrence?!”

“No ma’am,” your eyes roll with the obligated answer. Michelle sneered at you responding the same way you would have answered mom, but didn’t try to push her luck. While she wasn’t above threatening you, she was already in hot water. Caught sneaking inside with hickies on her neck and beer on her shirt, she was practically under lock and key. There was no time set for her freedom from the house yet, and she kept herself further isolated in her room.

“I don’t think Mom would approve of you dressing like a, what does she call them? One of those ‘naughty girls’ either,” you watched as her spine stiffened at the comment.

“Watch the attitude...” Michelle stood up, looming over you with lipstick in one hand and eyeliner in the other. “Keep it up and I’ll make sure Mom chews you out for wearing ‘naughty’ makeup too.”

Your arms came up to defend your face, just in case. “Knock it off,” you mumbled.

The only reason she allowed you to sit on the bed was because shooing you away could risk you tattling. You, however, stayed there out of concern.
“Didn’t you say Charlie was being an asshole last time?” you asked. Michelle twisted around again, hand raised like she was going to smack you.

“Don’t curse like that!”

“You do it!”

“Yeah,” she said, “when I’m not in the house. Which in, uh I think like fifteen minutes, I won’t be. Then I can swear all I want.”

It was hard hearing about how mean her boyfriend kept being and how she would return back to him just the same. You had figured that this last time was it for good, as she had talked so bitterly about him while wiping away the stains of mascara down her face.

“If Mom and Dad find out then you’re screwed,” you whispered. The two had gone to bed an hour ago, as they always had. Neither of you two should have been awake at this time, according to your parents at least.

“They’re never going to let me leave the house again,” she said bluntly, “ So either I stay home all day every day until I move out, or I just sneak off for a bit anyways. What are they going to do if they catch me, ground me more?”

Your lips formed a tight line, “I don’t really want Dad installing bars on our windows.”

“Then it would be best if I didn’t get caught, huh?”

Deep down, you could feel that she didn’t want to go. But being denied any chance of going outside meant she had to do what she felt was the most rebellious option. You didn’t like the guys she hung out with and half the time, neither did she. Unfortunately, there were several things you two shared in common, and stubbornness was one of them. At some point she had made her mind up about this and that meant she had to do it, even if she really didn't want to.

>Out of concern for your sister, you did you best to keep her there that night. It resulted in you two having a big fight before she left
>You didn't say anything to stop her, Michelle had already been scolded enough by your parents and you didn't want to make her feel worse
>Like a dumb kid, you boasted that if Charlie ever did anything mean to her again you would take care of himself yourself
>Like a dumb kid, you boasted that if Charlie ever did anything mean to her again you would take care of himself yourself
Your heart skipped a beat when the thought came into your head.

“If that dick makes you come home crying again, I’m going to hurt him.”

Michelle stopped trying to fix her hair when she couldn’t stop snickering. “You’re gonna go beat him up?” she asked between gasps of air and laughter. It took years to realize that she had been laughing at the idea of you going out to find trouble. She was one of the few who knew that always found their way to you, even more than mom believed.

Right then and until you figured it out, you thought the laughing was because she didn’t think you were strong enough to do it. Or brave, or man enough, or whatever hurt the worst at the time.

“I will!” you said, standing to your feet. A terrible prickly and red rush traveled through your veins. It was hard to keep your voice down and only the thick walls kept you from waking your parents. “I’ll knock him and his stupid brother right on their asses! And you know they both deserve it too. Come on Michelle, you can’t seriously want to go hang out with some assholes that treat you like dirt.”

You braced for her to yell at you. Times you had bad mouthed her ‘boyfriend’ before would result in her snapping back, warning you not to say anything bad about him. Of course this only applied to the days that she wasn’t hating his guts.

Michelle stood and you kept your chin up and braced your body. You weren’t nearly brave enough to keep your eyes open and she approached with an open hand.

The slap never came. When Michelle’s hands came to hold your face, you winced only out of shock for something so tender instead.

“You ready to stand up for your big sister now, huh?” she spoke in a soft, airy laugh. “Mom’s right, you are still a sweetie.”

As your face burned you almost wished she had slapped you instead. “She only says stuff like that cause she has to…” you mumbled, glaring at the floor because you couldn’t do it at your sister, “You’ve seen that look she gets on her face when the school calls about me.”

“That’s cause you do dumb things!” Michelle laughed, “But you know, she’s usually mad at the school after those calls, right?”

“I don’t believe you.”

“Of course you don’t,” she sighed, “but it’s true and it’s also true that you’re a sweetie. Even when you’re standing there trying to tell me that you’re going to break someone’s knees or something.”

This time you found it in you to look at her, “I didn’t say anything like that.”

“Don’t try to take that as any kind of new idea then! You don’t need to go out and get all beat up cause of little ol’ me.”

“How do you know I’d get beat up?” Her lack of confidence in you hit hard, and it showed on your face.
“You’ve got the spirit for it, sure,” she smiled, “But I’m afraid they simply out number you. I couldn’t let my brother go into an unfair fight.”

“What if I made it fa-” Before you could pull out any sort of justification Michelle leaned forward and left a kiss on your forehead. She embraced you right after and you could feel the sadness she was trying to hide.

“Please don’t talk like that Lawrence, it’s scary.” She held you tight, pinning your arms to the side. All you could do was hold them there with tightly closed fists and try to gather all of your stupid, confused thoughts. You had prepared for her to get mad, you knew how to fight with your sister. Michelle was nice to you plenty, she was one of the few people you could say were.

But this left you lost. What was the proper reaction, how should you be feeling, what you should say- none of it easy to process. The only thing you knew was that you wanted her to stay here and not have her feelings hurt again, and you didn’t know how to make that happen.

“You need to stay here,” you finally whispered to her, “or you and me could sneak out somewhere together instead. Maybe we can go to the park like we used to-”

“Are you sure you’d want to be seen hanging out with the class slut?” Michelle has a painful smile as she said that. “I wouldn’t want to give any of those jerks in your grade more shit to say when they’re trying to get under your skin.”

“Doesn’t your ‘boyfriend’ call you that?” A cloud came over her face instantly and you clenched your hands tighter in frustration, “I’m sorry…”

“I really do need to break it off with him…” Michelle sniffed as she struggled to smile again, “Maybe I should do it tonight, huh? Tell him right to his face, say that I’m tired of his shit.”

You nodded in agreement but knew deep down, that when it came to it, she wouldn’t have the courage to face him like that.

“Oh! Lawrence, are you okay?”

You blink and look up at where Delilah approaches from the sink. The water remains on as she runs to your side, trying to brush off the dish soap from her hands. Since you had cooked, she offered to clean and in that time you became lost in painful memories.

Even your ears burn red when she asks if you need her to run and get some tissues for you to cry into. Your fingers rub over sore eyes and kick yourself for letting her see you this way,

“It’s okay,” she grins at you while trying to hold up a napkin to your face, “You see me crying all the time. What’s wrong? You can tell me, i-if you want to.”

>You’re just trying to prepare for the visit you’re giving your parents today
>The job you have to do tonight has you stressed out and you wish you could tell her more about it
>Admit it was a sad memory about your sister, and that you regret not being able to save her
>Admit it was a sad memory about your sister, and that you regret not being able to save her

A short series of mistakes was all it took for her to die. It would have been so easy to do it differently
>Admit it was a sad memory about your sister, and that you regret not being able to save her.
This will probably make D feel terrible.
But honesty is the best policy.
You stop resisting and allow Delilah to dab your cheeks dry despite not really needing it.

“About...Michelle.” You can see the moment she’s able to remember who that is and her hand winces away. “Thinking...back. As kids.”

“R-right,” Delilah nods along and keeps her hands at her lap now.

“Of the...last night.” An uncomfortable tug at your throat makes it hard to speak again, “Everything...normal. Wasn’t...after that. Couldn’t...save her.”

Delilah digs her fingernails into the other hand as she remains silent. It was going to be painful for her too, you knew that. You have to take her hands and pry them away from one another as gentle as you can. Each one of her hands tightly squeezes each of yours as she stands before you.

“Wouldn’t...stay,” you try to explain to her, “Couldn’t...stop her.”

It wouldn’t have mattered what you said to her that night. The only thing you could do was make Michelle feel like someone was still on her side, and that she wasn’t as alone as she thought.

And you tell Delilah that. How you feel guilty about not being able to stop her leaving the house that night. Had she not have left that night, maybe the family would have never been broken.

Over the years you had plenty of time to think things over, what you could have done differently. She wouldn’t have been your friend anymore, but if you had told your parents maybe they could have stopped it. If you had said the right things, then she would have still been your friend and safe. Maybe if you had taken a stand against her boyfriend sooner and not have let her hurt so many times before then-

“I let...her down.” You give a sad, scared little laugh. Who knows if any of those plans would have worked, you might never have been the person capable of helping her in the first place. Needed someone better all together, to make the problems go away instead of making them worse.

As more of the words tumble out the closer Delilah comes in again. She holds you and pulls you in, resting her head on top of yours as she embraces you.

The more you spill your sorrows to her the more she runs a hand over your hair, hugging you tighter when it gets too hard to speak.

When everything is all out and said, and you feel both a weight off your shoulders and an overwhelming sadness pressing down, you can finally hear the soft hum coming from Delilah.

“You’re amazing Lawrence,” she happily tells you and a warmth spreads through your chest,”you’re so so amazing, you really are.”

You have neither the strength or words to argue, and instead let Delilah tell you praises you don’t deserve.

Camilla looks at you with a sad pout, halfway through setting up the stock on her gun.

“Are you sure you don’t want to borrow this one? I am sure it has enough ah, oomph, if that’s what you are worried about.”

You shake your head after giving the strange looking gun one more look over.

“I thought you’d be happy to take something so nice as my Beretta,” she sighs and gives it a closer inspection, “but maybe I should have figured that you and Ace wouldn’t want to use anything Italian made.”

Of course that wasn’t the problem and the smirk in Camilla’s eyes said she knew that too.

“You’ve got to take something. I don’t care if you are ‘picking something up’ along the way. Better to be safe than sorry, hmm?” Camilla begins to fold the stock away, muttering to herself, “Shouldn’t hand my favorite one out like that anyways…”

Placing her precious baby back into its case, Camilla puts a finger to her lips and looks around the garage in thought.

“Hmm…” she murmurs, “if firing something that goes ta-ta-ta is too much for you then I’ll have to figure something out.”

Camilla turns to look through cases stacked inside of boxes. You two stand in the garage trying not to freeze your ass off as Delilah is inside making you a lunch to take. After having that little moment with her, she promised to make something you could take with for later.

“Oh I think I know what might work. Now if I could just find it…” Camilla continues her efforts of finding you a gun to take. It’s something that Crockett wanted her to do for you before leaving. After she sets you up and Delilah gets to say goodbye, you have to leave and hope to return soon.

>Thank Camilla for sticking up for you against Crockett last night
>Ask Camilla to help Delilah stay up until you return tonight
>Ask Camilla to help Delilah fall asleep safely while you’re gone
>Ask Camilla to help Delilah stay up until you return tonight
>Thank Camilla for sticking up for you against Crockett last night
>Ask Camilla to help Delilah fall asleep safely while you’re gone
You hand over a hastily written note once Camilla comes back to you with a new case.

She reads over it as one hand works on pulling out the gun, her actions coming to a pause as she gets further down.

“Ah- so you don’t think I can handle tucking her in?” she scowls at first then smiles when you quickly try to write an explanation.

“Of course I wouldn’t force her to stay up if she didn’t want to,” Camilla answers after reading the new note, “I’ll try to see if there’s a project she can help me with tonight. Though, she might be too afraid to sleep until you return.”

You really, really wish you could say that there’s even a chance you could be back at any reasonable time tonight. Camilla must realize that’s not a possibility either, and her face turns down to focus on the case again.

“I’ll do my best to handle things until you return. I won’t say it’s easy, but it helps to know what to expect now.” She starts examining the gun pulled out from its compartment, moving and clicking pieces back into place. “There were few patients like that back when I was a nurse. It’s a shame how often I would have to see sometimes…”

She remains quiet for a bit, taking the time to place the ammo inside.

“As for the other thing you mentioned, last night happened partly out of necessity. She wanted you around and if that’s the only thing we could do to help, then so be it.” Camilla’s eyes flick over to look at you as she speaks, her hands move flawlessly over the gun as she prepares it for use.

“It helps to know your a decent guy. I think I can say I trust you, and Delilah looks to trust you completely. But one thing Ace and I agree on-“ you can’t help but notice how her pointer finger itches dangerously close to the trigger now, “I better not be proven wrong for trusting you.”

She doesn’t give you time to really process the words as is now pushed into your hands.

“This should be fine, shouldn’t it?” When all you do is give it a look Camilla sighs, shaking her head. “Well you have to take something. Not that you have to use it, but in case you need to. If baring your teeth were all it took to scare them away, this would be a lot easier, no?”

Your heart is racing only a little bit as you slip the gun into your hip holster.

“That Browning is a bit boring to use, but it’ll help if you get into some trouble,” Camilla looks up as she closes the now empty case, “but try to stay out of it. Even if it takes you a whole day just to get back safe, I can handle Delilah here. Take your time, and remember what’s waiting here for you.”
How could you forget? It would be such a selfish relief if you could forget how much rests on you, even for a moment. You have to keep Delilah safe, you have to try to make her happy. You have to trust the right strangers. You have to trust their plans and you can’t make any mistake along the way. Have to see this through, no matter how long it takes or how tired or scared you are. You have to prepare for breaking and entering that house tonight-

Camilla hands you extra ammo to take and you feel sick to your stomach.

You want to do this, this has to be one of the most important things you’ve ever had or will do. If you hadn’t wanted to accept whatever path following that frightened girl led you, then you’d be below the bridge. You’d be below the water, laying among the rocks as cold and dead as they are.

That’s not a fate you’ve escaped from yet. Should you really fuck up now, if everything slips from your fingers like so much before this, then you might still fall beneath the bridge.

Thinking of your future grave sends a paralyzing shiver down your spine.

There’s so much on your shoulders, yet you don’t feel nearly strong enough to carry it.

The garage door opens and Delilah peeks in, grimacing as she looks around. “You didn’t leave yet!” her face brightens as she sees you.

“Don’t worry, I kept him here for you.” Camilla grins warmly at her. It almost makes you forget the vague warning she had given you moments earlier.

Delilah approaches with a proud bounce in her step, holding up the bagged lunch she had spent so long on.

“Make sure you to eat while you’re out there so you can stay big and strong.” Her finger comes up to fidget with her still intact braid as she talks, “And make sure you drink plenty of water, that’s what my soccer coach always warned us. Oh and maybe you shouldn’t smoke while you’re out either. That way you’re full of energy and can come home sooner-”
You begin to unfold the bag when Delilah’s hands shoot forward and grab yours. She shakes her head and her words stammer out soon after, “N-no, you can’t open it now! You’d r-ruin the um, the surprise!”

With a chuckle Camilla asks, “Oho, did you write him a little love note?”

Immediately you fold the bag right up and go to the car you’re taking today. Delilah in the meantime tries to defend her honor, “I w-wouldn’t do something cheesy l-like that Ms. Cammy, don’t be so mean!”

“Oh but I thought it was cute!”

Then w-why are you laughing?”

You sit halfway out of the driver’s seat, doing one last check to make sure you have everything. Delilah skitters over, standing nearby waiting patiently for you to motion her over.

“I’ll miss you,” she says as she comes to give you a goodbye hug, “be safe, please please please. You’re my most important person…”

You hug her back and remind yourself.
Don’t fuck this up, don’t fuck any of this up.


After leaving Delilah with a kiss on the forehead and the aftermath of Camilla teasing her for blushing so much, you’re out on the road. The radio station comes in like shit, words coming in and out between the static. You aren’t really listening to it though, it’s just for white noise. Once it starts coming in crystal clear, you’ll almost be to your hometown again.

A long empty road and enough curiosity has you check out the bag Delilah made you. Your hand brushes against the plastic baggie inside and fruit waiting at the bottom, but you do also find a folded up note.

Looking between it and the road ahead, you read the message Delilah wrote;

>She explains her plan to gather up any of the money or valuables she feels okay with taking from the compound- just in case you two do need to run
>She informs you that there’s something special hidden in a secret place in the compound that you two could maybe sell for ‘lots and lots of money, maybe’
>It really is just a little love note she wrote to brighten your day
>It really is just a little love note she wrote to brighten your day
How could we die after reading something like this?
>>It really is just a little love note she wrote to brighten your day

Jinxes don't work in real life and death flags only exists in media
Hi Lawrence!
I hope you’re not so busy
that you don’t get the chance
to stop and read this

Do your best today!
You’re super amazing
and I know you’ve been
working very hard!

Maybe I will make you a
good luck charm today?
I’ll be thinking about you
a whole bunch until you
come back!

She finished the letter with an overly cursive Love and her signature below. And under that, in even tinier writing, she adds
(P.S- i know its hard to see but i kissed this page to give you good luck for now)

Reading it over again, you can’t help but chuckle. You can understand why she would have been embarrassed to have her letter pulled out right there.

That grin remains as you fold her letter up and put it in your chest pocket. It falls when you remind yourself not to fuck up tonight.

”Jack, I’m worried. She hasn’t come out of her room all day.”

Your eyes remained glued to the dinner table. It was normal for you or Michelle to skip dinner if either of you were throwing too much of a tantrum. This, however, left you with a filthy, guilty feeling. Your sister sneaking out might not have bothered you too much either, had she not gone to see that boy.

“She’s just sulking,” Dad mumbled between bites of his dinner, “she’d be out by now if you didn’t drop off snacks and drinks to her room.”

Mom shook her head, staring over at the stairs from her seat, food mostly untouched. “I haven’t been, not today. And even then, she’s usually in the hallway at some point to use the bathroom or to get something from downstairs. Have you been taking her anything today?”

His fork stopped halfway up to his mouth, “...no, I don’t think I have.”

You remained tight lipped, pushing the same carrot around and around the plate as they spoke. Michelle had to be home, the creaks that came from her room made that obvious. But even after it started to grow dark so did her room, and never once did she step foot outside it.

It’s hard to know when she came home. It was hard for you to fall asleep that night before. You were so determined to remain awake until you could be sure she arrived back safely, but as the hours grew longer you couldn’t keep that promise. The rest of the day you stayed around the house, coming to her door occasionally to try and listen.

There had been the noises of her walking across the floor, of sitting on her bed or at her desk. It was too quiet for her though, especially for being there for so long. Even when she was giving your parents the cold shoulder, Michelle didn’t usually try to avoid you too.

“Should I go up there and get her? She needs to eat something today,” Mom turned back to the table, half standing up already. “Or um, maybe you should Jack? Or maybe I should try first and if that doesn’t work you can come up-”

“Calm down. I’m sure she’s just trying a new way to test our patience…” Despite the way he spoke, Dad was getting worried too. Like your family could feel the dread seeping through Michelle’s door, and how everything was going to change soon.

>You snitched on Michelle right there, and your parents forced the door open to check on her
>You waited until later that night to go to Michelle’s room and check on her yourself
>You all waited until Michelle finally came out of her room to talk about what happened
>>You snitched on Michelle right there, and your parents forced the door open to check on her

Sometimes doing what's right isn't what's best
>You waited until later that night to go to Michelle’s room and check on her yourself
Dumb kid who loves his sister and won't get her in trouble.
>You waited until later that night to go to Michelle’s room and check on her yourself
>You waited until later that night to go to Michelle’s room and check on her yourself

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