I landed late the next morning, getting out of the airport and everything was a pain in my ass. There were so many delays. I hate flying, I hate airports.
Rented a car once I entered the town, drove to the location. I checked where they were tracked from and sound a shirt left behind. They were getting sloppy, no doubt exhausted from this game of cat and mouse. I snatched the cloth and threw it into the car before I called Joshua, he pin pointed Lullaby's cellphone. I parked the car on a side road near some woods; there was a small lot for cars to park. I'm assuming for hunting, New Jersey has plenty of alike ones. It briefly concerned me that hunters could be in the woods with the two girls; whom I confirmed were in there by the tracks left in the dirt.
I'm not that good a tracker. I know some outdoor basics, given how panicked the girls were it no doubt helped that they broke plenty of branches trying to hide. Left a nice path for me to follow, I eventually came to hearing their voices up ahead. The two of them must have just decided to settle there.
"It's not that easy, we need to rest. We can't move far like this." Lullaby said, a faint smirk on her face. They looked like shit, exhausted and no doubt have gone without food for a bit. Probably water too, which made them dehydrated. Lullaby fell against a tree in the small clearing.
I watched silently as Con scanned her body. "I'm going to look for water." She said, giving Lullaby's head a pat as she walked by. "I'll be right back."
"Don't leave me." The child called, reaching out towards her new guardian before slumping exhausted against the tree.
I watched Con leave before looking back at Lullaby, waiting a few seconds, rubbing my eyes from lack of sleep. Once I was sure Con was gone I exited and approached the child, "Lullaby. I finally found you." I said, somewhat relieved despite the rest of my feelings. "We need to talk and you need to come home."
"I'm NOT going there ever again." Lullaby said, unmoving as she looked upwards towards the sky. "...I'll talk, possibly not the words you wish to hear. But I will not return with you, woman, not now, not ever." She said, rolling off the tree onto her stomach before pushing herself off the forest floor. It served to get her covered in more dirt, her tangled and matted locks of hair framing her face as she got up just barely. Her pale face was only colored by the dark circles under her eyes, the same ones that showed a lack of caring or understanding. It was as if once Con left she switched her emotions off. Interesting development, I noted. A smirk formed on her dry lips, large enough to show her canine teeth. "So Auntie, what do you wish to speak about?"
"How about for starters how stupid you're being." I said bluntly in response. "This isn't a game, Lullaby. You're related to Thuggee, you believe that doesn't make you a prime target? That His agents aren't trying to hunt you down and kill you? At least at the mansion you were protected. This is reckless and idiotic." I waved at Lullaby's person. "Look at you, you look like shit, dove. Your health isn't all that great either. I can see it clearly, you can barely stand. You really think you'll escape the moment they start showing up?" I rubbed the bridge of my nose, a sigh following. "Look... You killed your mother -my friend-, abandoned your father, and I don't mean Thuggee. For whatever reason, you still haven't said. You can go ahead and fight me all you like. You can hate me, and keep hating me, keep hating all of us and the world." I dropped my hand back to my side, looking at her flatly. "But there are people who love you, dove. And despite these horrible things you have done, they want you to remain alive and healthy." I scowled, "And these people are going through hell just to keep you alive, even at a distance." I tapped the dark circles around my own eyes, indicating to her our old friend, Executor, wasn't stopping from raiding my brain. That I haven't slept since finding out about her location in order to keep him from getting the information. At least awake I could fight him off more. "You are being a stupid, stubborn child. The fact of the matter is you aren't getting the rest you need, or anything else. You're a target and you can't even defend yourself from the rest of the world. And sweetie, there are monsters worse than what you think you are."
Her reaction was violent, "SHUT UP!" Lullaby screamed, clutching her head of messy hair. "Shut up, woman! Shut up!" Her voice deepened as she stood, staring at me through her messy black hair. "What's life without a fucking risk? Even if I stayed there I'd be safe, fuck safe, safe is when you're chained to a doll's body, safe was in the arms of DeMii. I wanted her safe! I've been reborn, for years, only to be placed in a body to be chained to someone else! Well, Auntie, guess what? Not anymore. I'm me. I'm free. No more going where everyone else wants to go, I can do what I like." Her voice wavered as she held her shaking hands in front of her. Tears formed in her eyes, she looked sick. Lullaby fell to her knees, burying her face into her hands as she cried. "I never wanted anyone to... It's up to them to want to protect me. Did I say, 'Shady, protect me!'?" Lullaby shook her head violently before looking upwards again. She laughed, small at first but it grew with madness before abruptly stopping, once more her focus returned to me. "Go to hell." She growled. "Go to hell and may the angels and god have mercy on your forsaken soul."
I stepped forward and leaned forward, "Been to Hell, all you do there is stare at yourself and scream at your own demons." I said, somewhat amused by her final words. Lullaby's eyes narrowed a fraction as I straightened back up, calmly. "Being safe is being smart; it doesn't mean you have to be chained. If you wanted to leave you could have spoken as much. You insult the family you have and had, spit on their names, like we don't fucking see or understand what you are. We do, Lullaby, and we choose to protect you still. Some communication was all you needed to do, not kill DeMii." I clenched my fists, the scowl growing. "You think you're free? You dragged this other girl into the mess we are a part of! You cling to her now; despite saying it's her choice to protect you. What happens when you start feeling suffocated again, Lullaby?" I questioned her, sneering as I looked down on her "What will you do? Kill her too? Your mother was raising you in a safe environment so that you may walk freely and smartly amongst the world. So that you could escape this bullshit. For someone who has done this routine again and again you don't seem all that bright." I walked over to her until only a few feet separated us and lowered down, taking a need. A soft sigh left me, calming down the anger. "I protect you because I love you, and I loved your mother. Because I know this kills Proctor, that you're still his daughter even after Thuggee's crap. We are selfish to want you safe and protected, sure, but is that so bad, dove?"
Lullaby chuckled again. "You didn't see it like I saw it, what I did to DeMii is nothing compared to what was going to happen. It wouldn't have even been death for her; it wouldn't have been death..." She fell silent, staring at nothing. The silence continued for a moment before she came to life again, "Con was bound to meet me either way, it's not our mess. Con knows her place; Con knows my sins as well as she knows hers. Con cares about me... She hasn't let me know, she's up for me, and she held me, despite my ignorance towards her. She's warmed me when I was going to freeze to death, she gave me her coat. Con has been there for me..." Lullaby gathered dirt in her hand and flung it at me, it didn't come close to reaching and she knew it wouldn't. "I couldn't kill Con, even if I tried, even if I held a knife to her throat and she said 'do it'. I would start crying. She taught me control... The one thing my mother never taught me. I'm not sure how she did it... But she made me feel." Lullaby looked at me, the same defying smirk on her face returning. "Yes, it is." She said, referring to what I had asked her finally. I watched carefully as she backed away and reached for a tree branch. "I won't let you take me from Con."
I sighed, heavily. "I'm not trying to take you from Con. She could come too, if you both wanted. That's the difference, Lullaby, I try and make the people I care about happy." I felt the anger rising as I glared, "You don't--" I stopped myself, biting my tongue, cracking my neck, unwinding. "You're so blind and hypocritical. As if your family hadn't done the same for you, or wouldn't. You spit on us." I flicked the bangs aside and looked away, growing tired of all this talk. Of repeating myself. I looked back at her, a smile forming. "I like Con. I like that she helps you, is there for you. I'm glad you found someone you care about. I'm sad you're so jaded and blinded towards us... That you hate me, and I don't even know why." I could feel the smile falter, but it stuck the landing and stayed. "But that's ok, dove. Con makes you happy, in turn that does bring me some peace to know such. I wouldn't separate you from that, but I can't let you wander around with a giant target on your back. I have to protect both of you now, not just you." I looked to her as she continued reaching for a firm branch, no doubt to attack me with. I kept the smile and held out my arms, encouraging her to attack me. "I see you reaching, Lullaby. If you want to kill me you can try, I don't care. I don't intend you unnecessarily harm you."
"No..." Lullaby said quietly. She stopped reaching for the branch as a mixture of emotions sprang across her face. Quickly she got up to run, panicking. "CON!" She screamed and stumbled forward.
That was when a third person came into our private meeting. An unknown girl, who I could have mistaken as Lullaby. The appearance was similar, but the differences could be seen as well. This female walked from behind a tree, her pale skin whiter than Lullaby's, her eyes nearly dead of all emotion. A smirk quirked as she waved, her other hand laying limp against the red fabric of her dress. "Goodbye Lullaby, may He treat you well." The child said, I snatched Lullaby's wrist preventing her from running anywhere at those words. The newcomer looked up at me, the smirk only growing as she held out both hands. "Oh, you're not Con at all!" She said, her child like tone, even her voice held something I did not approve of. This one was dangerous. "I don't like you, Con and Lullaby are my targets. I'd suggest you leave them alone." Her eyes narrowed a moment before she shut them, smiling. "Got it, bitch?"
I tugged Lullaby to me protectively, keeping my other arm wrapped around the child. I could feel her shaking lightly and I gave a small, reassuring squeeze. A smile of my own formed, I nearly laughed at her words. "You obviously don't understand what it is like to have responsibility." I sighed, feigning being disappointed. "Don't know who you are, quite frankly I don't care. Not interested." I threw her the 'no fucks giving' smile, mocking her from a distance. "I'd suggest you leave, I really don't like the idea of my hands getting stains with a child's blood."
Lullaby stopped breathing for a moment, I could hear her whispering. "What can I do...? It's useless; it's a never ending battle." She said as tears began running down her cheeks. I held her close, trying however to ease her.
"Lullaby!" A familiar voice shouted, I looked over to see Con coming into the small clearing. Her hands clenched, making fists, as she stormed over to me. Her blue eyes did not budge as we stared at one another, she threw her fist and I bent forward, leaning over Lullaby to dodge it.
The child in my arms began shaking violently, choking on a sob. I straightened, looking down at her to what she was staring at behind us.
"More important things to be worrying about, lady!" Agony called ahead of us. My eyes widened as I looked over my shoulder, a lean shadow pulling out of the tree line.
"Shit, fuck!" Con growled, I looked to the girl before down at Lullaby.
My eyes narrowed as I looked between both of their conditions before at Agony. "Great... This is what I was hoping to avoid." I drawled, sighing. Giving Lullaby another squeeze I looked to the other woman, "Con." Her attention was back on me, panic and anger written across her face. I pushed Lullaby into Con, "Take her and go. Protect each other and don't stop running." I ordered, glancing at Lullaby. So close and there she was going again, leaving. "Please, just protect her." I paused, snatching the gun from my hip. "And get the fuck out of here!"
Con looked at Lullaby, who continued shaking in her arms. I flipped the safety off, scowling as Con had to leave. "According to my duty, I will try..." She said, much softer than how she was a moment ago. Her hand landed on mine a moment before she took off running with Lullaby.
I fired a bullet into the direction of the Tall Fuck, all I cared about was distracting them long enough to get away.
"What an error, all I wanted was Con to come home. Looks like you really fucked up now, Shady." I took aim at her a moment later, smiling as I fired, wiping the smirk right off her face as she dodged it.
The child seemed to pull a seven inch hunting knife from nowhere, or her dress, I wasn't focusing on where it came from. Her laughter echoed through the woods as she charged me head on, not caring I had a long distance weapon while she was just the opposite. But proxies, man, they can be fast as fuck. An a child, yea, I wasn't going to underestimate a kid. She swung, nicking my sleeve and just cutting my skin barely. Yea, fast, dually noted. Agony followed up with a jab, I countered and directed her attack away. Grabbing her arm I used the bluntness of the gun to punch her directly. Keeping her held I reached back, taking aim at the lean figure that seemed to be watching. I noted He had moved closer, yet also into the direction the two girls ran off in. I didn't trust it. I wanted their attention, even if it meant pissing them off. I fired again at the Tall Fuck. Agony wrenched herself free, the knife skimming near my ribs and cutting skin. There was a glint that came too close for comfort at my face, I shifted on instinct away which spared me enough. Cut open my cheek and ear some, nothing deep. I knocked her arm away, grabbed it once more and pulled her forehead, head-butting Agony.
The kid backed off and we both shook our heads a moment before she launched at me. She was trying to grab me this time, to keep from dodging no doubt. I kicked her in the arm, she grabbed my leg and jerked me off balance. I landed on my back on the forest floor; she took advantage trying to stab me. I rolled away until her weight fell on top, making quick work to grasp her arm and stopping another thrust. I rocked us carefully from side to side, inching to get a better hold of her arm before I flipped us over. I clumsily took aim at the Tall Fuck whose attention turned into the direction of Lullaby's, my other hand struggling to keep the knife back. I fired a bullet into the tree between Him and the direction of them. I fired twice more, they hit somewhere, I wasn't paying attention as much as Agony started writhing beneath me, screaming. She was pissing me off at this point; I turned the gun down onto her. Agony got her knife free and ended up stabbing me in the leg before I could get a shot off. I backhanded her across the face with the gun; it stunned her momentarily before she began flailing wildly with the knife.
I backed off, taking aim at Agony and fired, shooting her in the shoulder. She cried out something fierce, snarling and seething like an animal as she began to pull herself back up. I scowled at the fact she just wouldn't cease, shooting a kid was bad enough. I kicked her back down, firing again which missed just barely. The kid rolled back up, my gun trained in His direction again, the bang stopping Agony a moment. I looked back her way, firing again as she charged me. It missed. I dodged Agony's knife, finding myself once more in between them. I knew the clip was empty at this point and cursed under my breath. Something snaked around my ankle and I hit the ground, just as I looked up a branch in Agony's hand, replacing the knife, came down. I hit the ground again with a groan, my forehead bleeding as a sharp piece of the branch cut it open.
I opened one eye to see Him gone, and Agony waving as she walked backwards before running off after the two girls. My hand was bloody; I used my forehead to smear any further blood before it could reach my eye. Pulling myself off the ground I stumbled forward, not caring to wait till things cleared up. I moved forward, regaining my footing, speeding up into a sprint as I ran towards the large clearing ahead. A field, where all the noise was coming from. The moment I got there I found Con and Agony going at it, tearing each other apart. Lullaby was fumbling around, exhausted and barely able to focus from the looks of it. And He stood some distance away, watching her, completely motionless. Except those limbs that were protruding from His back, hovering in wait to attack.
My hand grasped the knife and I bolted past Con, straight to Lullaby. She needed the assistance the most here. I didn't even see the attack coming, it didn't register. I had reached Lullaby, grabbing hold of her as something dug into the back of my shoulder. It felt worse than a knife, like a spike was being driven in and wiggling around. I grunted, taking a knee a moment in front of her before letting go and spinning around, stabbing the knife into the limb still impaled in my back. "Don't fucking touch me!" I snarled, it tore away from me, taking the knife along with it. I pulled myself up, grasping Lullaby protectively in both arms and took off running towards the woods. The same snaking took hold of my ankle again; I lost balance and released Lullaby as not to crush her when I hit the ground. My fingers dug into the Earth, using every ounce of strength to keep from being dragged back.
"You let her go you monster!" I hear Lullaby scream, leaping past me as she clawed at the limb, prying my leg free. There was innocence in her screaming, it only proved my point on having a reason to protect the kid. I got up as a crack came from off to our side; Con hit the ground by a branch, crying out in pain. "Con!" Lullaby hollered, her damp face looking up to me. "A-Auntie, we have to help Con! We have to get out of here!"
I grabbed her wrist and pulled her aside as He appeared closer to us suddenly. My hand rested at the back of her head, holding her close as I kept myself between them. I lifted my leg and swiped the knife from another holster. Quickly wiping away the blood, which was bothering my one eye as of now, I look around us. "One thing at a time. It's here for you, I have to protect you. Con is strong, still has fight in her." I said calmly, trying to keep things short while easing her as much as possible. "She'll continue fighting for you as long as her body can move. We'll use that to our advantage." I turned us both as I saw blackness launching from the corner of my eye, protecting Lullaby as a limb hit into my back. It wasn't a jab like before, it felt like Agony had swung another branch, knocking the wind out of me a moment. Lullaby helped me stand in place a moment; I winced getting the air back into my lungs. "I need you to get out of here. The street is straight through the woods, no turns. I can help Con and keep the fucks busy." I hugged her close after a second hit. My forehead rested against hers, "I love you. I will protect Con for you. Please just run, little dove."
Lullaby's eyes met mine, her body shaking in my embrace. I could see her thoughts so clearly, written boldly across her face. She refused to accept it, but her mind understood the order and accepted it. Even with all the internal conflict about leaving, not being able to fight. She wasn't so naive, they were after her life and she needed to flee, to hide, while we held them off. Otherwise it would only get worse. I loosened my hold as she backed off, glancing to Con who was on her feet and fighting again. There was a single nod, finally of understanding what the hell all our efforts here were for. "I-I understand, Auntie. I-I love you too."
I smiled at her, pressing a kiss to her forehead before letting her go completely. The knife flipped offensively in my hand, "Run, love, ru-" I didn't even get to finish my stupid sentence. A limb wrapped around my throat, silencing me and cutting off my airway completely. I was dragged backwards, clawing at the limb with one hand, stabbing with the other. It yanked me up with a sudden jerk, which nearly made me think my neck was going to snap.
Lullaby looked horrified a moment, but her face fell serious. I knew what was going through her head. I stopped clawing with one hand and waved it frantically, trying to stop the thought process that had already begun. It didn't matter, she was saying something but I couldn't hear anything. I was feeling light headed without any air, the rest of my body growing too tired to fight back without any oxygen. The knife fell from my hand; my arm fell limp as she ran at Him. Stupid, stupid, stupid little dove... The monster impaled her through the stomach, twisting further in before lifting her off the ground, digging further into her small torso. Her face contorted in pain as her small hands tried to pry herself off it, they kept slipping as she bled out. Her mouth formed one small word, "No, no..."
I was pulled down, my vision filled by the blank sphere of a face. It felt like someone was driving a spike into my skull a second later, an internal conflict forming in my head. A mindfuckery monster, every ounce of willpower raised a defense before I found myself hitting the ground abruptly. I rolled over, coughing and sucking in air as I tried to push off the ground. I squinted, looking at Con holding Lullaby. A bright light seemed to engulf them, my grip on the ground slipped and I collapsed again. I don't know what I was seeing, probably the after effects of whatever the Tall Fuck was trying to drill into my skull. Blinking a few times I dragged myself up once more, moving as fast as I could towards the two girls, hoping there was still something more left to do.
Con was staring down at the small girl in her arms. "I..." Her voice strained from her body, unable to finish the sentence. She bent over the body and cried, cursing everything all at one. "Fuck..." She whispered, sniffling as she pulled herself up to her feet clumsily, still cradling the body. Her blue eyes looked colder; I knew the look all too well. Blame. "We couldn't save her... I couldn't protect her... I'm sorry."
I swallowed my anger, my sadness; I just looked at the both of them, biting my lip hard. Con needed assistance and that came first. I moved closer, placing a hand on her shoulder with a small squeeze. "You tried, hon. We both did. This is not your fault, you did everything you could." I insisted, looking down at Lullaby's motionless form. I slipped my arms under her, taking her into my arms and cradled her close. Con didn't need to be carrying her friend, she didn't need to feel the weight in her arms, nor feel the warmth slowly fade on our way back to the vehicle. "Come on, I have a nice blanket in the car." I said, adjusting Lullaby in one arm as the other extended and took Con's hand. She looked a mess, it was understandable. I was shoving every ounce of emotion into a box to handle the situation. "Just let it out." I told her, leading her back towards the car. "There is no shame in crying."
I used the rental car to drive back home, after we wrapped Lullaby's body and put it in the back. It was almost a ten hour drive, a quiet drive. She slept most of it, despite waking up and offering to drive now and then. I declined her off, pulling over for about an hour to rest myself before driving again. Proctor... He was not happy. Con introduced herself, she spoke Lullaby's final words us all together. He stayed long enough for us to burn her body and spread the ashes over DeMii's grave, as per request to be with her mother.
Mr. Sunshine helped me stand until everything was over. Proctor left the mansion, saying he needed time. I can't blame him. He wanted her back here, alive and unharmed; I brought his daughter back home just the opposite. Words probably seem so worthless right now, but I'm so sorry, Proctor.
I tried to sleep last night. Executor drove me up the wall, mocking in his usual hollow voice. Claiming it as a victory. I found myself being woken up by Joshua, a look of worry on his face. He said I was crying hysterically, heh. I haven't slept since then. Doubt I'll be sleeping for a while.
Con decided she is staying with us. I am not against it and welcome her into this broken home.
I mean every word I said in that comment before.
I mean every word I said in that comment before.