Episode 29: Wilted Rose

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It had been on the news every day since the attack. Images, videos from phones and the news helicopters were almost always on repeat. Even the Internet had exploded with videos of the attack, taking everyone by storm. Those who hadn’t known of the Digimon’s existence, did now.

Bella had been questioned; after all, the attack took place outside of the Atlas Corp building, and her two children had been in the centre of it all, but she had remained stoic, not answering questions, and having Eleanor simply answer ‘no comment’ for her to everyone. Bella could do that. Not let this get to her, just carry on as normal – at least as normal was for Bella, and put on a professional front for the news and television crews that bombarded the building relentlessly.

Things weren’t the same for Rose though.

It had taken two days for Yinmon to amass enough energy to evolve to Hatimon again. In that time she had followed Rose around the apartment.

Rose had locked the door, closed the curtains and they had remained closed since. She was blocking out everything and everyone, she didn’t move to answer the door even when the maid knock came by. Hatimon had never seen Rose like this. She barely recognized her as the same woman she had been while growing up. Rose could get angry, upset... outraged, just like any person. But she never let her emotions control her, not like they had been doing lately. Hatimon could handle Rose when she was in a heightened emotional state. She had enough practice. It was easy.

It was now, when she showed no emotion at all, that Hatimon didn’t know what to do. Or how to handle the situation.

The two days Hatimon had been Yinmon, Rose had stayed in her bed. She didn’t really sleep, not properly. The few times she had drifted off, she had woken up shortly after, flailing like something was trying to grab her, and screaming. Other than that, Rose had just laid in the dark, awake and completely devoid of anything.

She hadn’t spoken, hadn’t eaten. Just lay there like a living corpse, only causing Yinmon more and more worry. Especially when her attempts to speak to Rose or rouse her had been ignored, and Rose had just rolled over away from her.

After three days of nothing, Rose had finally crawled out of her bed. Hatimon felt the tiniest moment of positivity, Rose had looked at her for the briefest of seconds as she had crossed the hall to the bathroom. She had run the taps into the bath, waited for it to fill and climbed in. She was still in there.

The water was freezing by now, and the bathroom itself wasn’t warm. Rose was beginning to suffer the effects; the corners of her mouth were turning blue from the cold. Rose had been sitting in it for hours. All the bubbles had gone away, leaving a murky grayish color to the water. Hatimon had sat at the open door while Rose had scrubbed herself raw, proven by how her skin was now red and blotchy all over.

Hatimon was scared.

For what was probably the second time in her life she could admit it, that she was scared. And not for herself, for Rose. Through her entire life, the entire time Hatimon had known her, Rose had been stoic. She had gone through traumatic events with as little emotion as possible, controlled and unreadable. She had received many jibes and nicknames because of her outer persona, but that was Rose. And Hatimon liked that Rose didn’t let her emotions control her. It made her a much easier person to deal with. But this... this was not normal. This frightened Hatimon, to her core. That here was Rose, unable to function as a normal human anymore because of... whatever she felt. Which was something Hatimon couldn’t comprehend.

Stepping over the threshold of the bathroom, Hatimon’s claws clicked on the tiles, alerting Rose to her presence. The only inclination that Rose had noticed was the smallest movement of her head. Hatimon crossed to the bath, hopped up onto her hind legs, and supported her forepaws on the edge.

“...Rose?” Hatimon’s voice came out in a choked sound, the first words she had uttered for days.

Nothing. Rose blinked, water was still clinging to her eyelashes, clumping them together. Her eyes looked bloodshot too, from when she had held her head underwater with them open. She made no other movements. Didn’t look at Hatimon or move in the slightest. The only noise Hatimon could hear was Rose’s breathing, and her own.

“Come on, you need to get out of the bath now.” Hatimon said, nudging Rose’s arm with her snout. Rose flinched, wrapped her arms around herself, and pulled her knees into her chest. Hatimon frowned. “You’ll catch cold.”

She waited a few seconds, waiting for some kind of reaction from Rose, but aside from her becoming more insular, there was nothing. No eye movements, no nods, or head shakes. She just stared at the silver taps on the other side of the bathtub.

“Rose.” Hatimon snapped this time. “Get out of the bath.” Each word was annunciated, snappish and practically barked at Rose.

Rose sighed, leaned her head back against the wall. “Go away.” She murmured, her voice cracking.

“No!” Hatimon snapped again, raising her voice. She had gotten a reaction, the first proper reaction she had had from Rose in three days; even if it had been a dismissal, it was better than nothing, and Hatimon was going to pursue that. “Rose, you have to get out. Start functioning again. This... this moping around... is stupid. It’s not like you.”

“Hatimon.” Rose said, her voice taking on a waspish tone, which was only noticeable to Hatimon as she had heard the tone used on others so many times before. “Go. Away.”

Hatimon audibly growled. “I said ‘no’.”

“Why should I move?” Rose asked, still staring forward, as if the light shining off the silver taps was hypnotizing to her. “What good will it do? Why shouldn’t I just drown myself here, now? I have no use left.”

Confusion marred Hatimon’s face. “What do you mean?”

“I mean,” Rose spoke again after a long pause where Hatimon had waited patiently. During the silence, rain had started falling heavily, hammering on the window, “I have no use left... to anyone. Who wants a failure like me around, now that I am no good to anyone?”

“This...” Hatimon’s frown deepened. “This isn’t like you... I’ve never known you to wallow in self pity like this... You’ve always gotten back up and fought.”

“Maybe I’m tired of fighting.” Rose said airily. “Where has it gotten me, fighting every step of the way? I am ... nowhere. I am alone... abandoned. I have failed so many times... I’m no use to anyone.”

“You’re not alone.” Hatimon argued. “I’m still here.”

“Only because you have no other choice.” Rose retorted softly.

“I do have a choice.” Hatimon grumbled. “I have always had a choice, and my choice has always been to stay with you. I care about you. I won’t abandon you. You shouldn’t need me to tell you this.”


Rose glanced at Hatimon, and for a stifling moment, Hatimon thought she had gotten through to her partner, and that there might be a spark of Rose coming back. But her thoughts, her hopes were crushed as Rose looked away and slipped back further into the freezing water. “Go away, Hatimon.”

“Rose...” Hatimon trailed, unable to find any words in her mind to say. Rose recoiled away from her, curling in on herself, turning her back on her Digimon, and her body towards the wall. Hatimon breathed out heavily and dropped down from the edge of the bath tub. Leaving the bathroom, she paced the hallway a few times, trying to think, to conjure up an idea of how to bring Rose out of her stupor. The only idea she could come up with meant going behind Rose’s back, and resorting to one thing she knew Rose would never forgive her for – but other than that she was drawing a blank.

“That’s it then.” Hatimon murmured to herself. Silently pacing up the hallway towards the front door, she hopped up onto the hallway table, and pushed the door handle down, forcing the door to swing open and ricochet against the wall as it was impaled by the heavy rain and strong winds. Hatimon heard water from the bathroom, hoped Rose would forgive her for this in time, steeled herself against the weather and ran out into the night.

-----------------------------

“It’s a shame you couldn’t come over – the apartment’s kind of empty without you here.”

“You’re just saying that because I’ve been keeping the place tidy.” Piper retorted, causing Hunter to smirk to himself. Skollmon rolled his eyes in the corner, covering his ears with his paws.

Piper had been spending more and more time at Hunter’s apartment, and while Skollmon didn’t mind it when she was around – when she wasn’t, Hunter had the habit of spending time on the phone to her, and consequently turned into a pacing ball of incoherent, smitten comments. It was a little sickening.

“Well – it’s nice when you’re here cause of other things.” Said Hunter, flopping back onto the sofa and flicking boredly through the channels on the muted television before him. “So... what are you wearing?”

“Hunter.”

Hunter laughed. “Did I said ‘wearing’? I meant ‘doing’. Yeah. Totally – what are you doing? No dirty connotations meant.”

“Hmph.” Piper inhaled. “Studying – what else do I do? I have to give a talk in a couple of days about this new, experimental surgery for animals who have lost limbs...”

“Interesting.” Hunter ‘hmm’ed. “You left your book here, by-the-way. The big hardback one. I think it’s Advanced Bio-Chem... something-something...”

“Oh, that’s okay. I don’t need it. It was just an excuse to come back.”

“Sneaky...” Hunter grinned.

Skollmon grumbled loudly, making a face at Hunter as he walked past him. Hunter patted the wolf-Digimon between the ears with a broad smile, only causing Skollmon’s annoyance to increase further. He didn’t know how long this conversation would go on for, so far the longest had been two and a half hours. Skollmon wasn’t sure how they found things to talk about, after all they saw each other most days.

All he knew now was that with Hunter on the phone, and it not looking likely that he would be finished anytime soon, Skollmon stood a better chance of getting to sleep in Hunter’s bedroom, rather than in the living room where he preferred to sleep – the living room was always tidier. Especially now since Piper had forced a spring clean.

Hunter’s room was pitch black, aside from the small amount of light that came in through the open door from the living room. His room was pretty big, mostly taken up by his bed and the closet opposite the door. Skollmon used to sleep in the same room as Hunter, until Hunter had started taking an interest in women, after that Skollmon had found he preferred sleeping in a room where he couldn’t hear anything that was happening – and it had stayed that way since.

Finding a corner, away from the door, Skollmon yawned and turned around three times, padding the carpet with his paws before he curled up in a ball. He covered his nose with his tail and tucked his paws together, closing his eyes, ready to welcome sleep.

Since the battle with Selenemon and Rose, he had felt incredibly tired. Everyone had felt the strains of the fight, and had taken time to recover, but Skollmon seemed to have felt it more than anyone and was struggling to get back on his feet as easily as he used to. He imagined it was partly to do with Hatimon being badly injured, and her taking time to get back to full strength – probably a twin bond thing. He tried not to think on it too much. Doing so generally hurt his head.

He worried about his sister though. And though Hunter would be the last to admit it, Skollmon knew he worried about Rose too. After all, it had been just the four of them – with the occasional nanny – since Skollmon could remember.

-----------------------------

“Mama’s going to be here... she promised.” The little four-year old lilac haired girl was close to tears. Rose, was close to tears. All the candles on her birthday cake had been blown out and all the guests to the birthday party had gone home, it was just she, Hunter and their Nanny now. Waiting in the dining room waiting for Bella.

“Rose...” Nanny Lisa murmured softly. “I don’t think...”

“No! Mama promised! She promised!” Rose cried. “She said she would be here for my birthday!”

Lisa gently rubbed the little girl’s hair. “I’m sorry Rose... I don’t think she can make it.”

“It’s not fair!” Rose said harshly, stomping a small foot on the ground in an attempt to make an impact. “She always breaks her promises.” Big tears were falling from her eyes now, pooling under her chin and dropping to the floor. “I hate Mama!”

“Rose!” Lisa called after her, as Rose dashed out of the dining room, and up the stairs, her feet landing heavily all the way to her room.

Four-year-old Hunter, who had been at the party but had since disappeared after the cake had been eaten, followed Rose to her room, and sat just outside the open door. The doors never shut properly in the house, unless they’d been shut by an adult. Hunter was tall enough to reach the door handles now – but he always got told off for closing the doors without an adult there.

And he sat outside the door because Rose had an issue with people going into her room. Especially him. He sat cross legged on the landing, aware that Lisa wouldn’t come up to tend to Rose for a good twenty or thirty minutes. Rose had tantrums all the time – whenever she didn’t get her way, when she didn’t want to eat something, or did and wasn’t being allowed it. When she had to do homework, or extra activities she didn’t want to do. Rose’s tantrums were normal and often legendary.

Hunter was not alone though as he sat. Sitting in his lap was a small, dog-like creature, half of its body was a pale sandy color, the other half was dark orange. It had appeared to him that morning, it spoke and called itself Yanmon. Hunter had been impressed, didn’t know what else to make of the creature, but liked it enough to have carried it around with him all day, until Rose had caught sight of it and demanded that she wanted one too.

Lisa had suggested Hunter leave his new ‘toy’ in his room until the party was over.

Now he sat, and watched as his sister sobbed into her arms, flung into the small chair she sat on when being read to. In his lap, Yanmon twitched suddenly; his ears pricked up and he stiffened completely, the only movement of his body was his breathing. Hunter poked and prodded the small creature to gain a reaction – but ceased as soon as he understood why Yanmon was still.

Crawling out carefully from behind a big purple bean bag was almost an exact replica of Yanmon. Only where Yanmon was orange, this was blue. And the light sandy color of Yanmon’s fur was a cooler light grey color. It was moving towards Rose very carefully and slowly. Rose was totally unaware of it, until it was practically on top of her. It had moved all around her, carefully sniffing the air and Rose’s clothes and hair.

Rose recoiled when she saw it, hiccupping on her tears.

The little canine creature approached her calmly with no fear. “It’s all right Rose, I’m not here to harm you.”

Rose sniffed. “Who are you?”

“My name is Yinmon.” She explained, sitting down, allowing Rose to approach her with a curious look in her eyes, one of wonderment that Hunter had never seen before, but recognized. Rose saw something here that made her special. A pet that could talk to her – no one else would have something like this... except him.

“What are you doing here?” Rose asked.

“I’m here to be your friend. To help you, to protect you... to never let you down. Or break promises.” Yinmon explained.

“Everyone breaks promises.” Rose retorted harshly, her face contorting into something akin to a pout.

“I don’t.” Yinmon said seriously.

Then Hunter saw something he hadn’t witnessed before. Rose – without question – looked at this little blue and grey canine creature... and believed her. Without words, without retorts, she took Yinmon’s word for truth.

-----------------------------

Skollmon remembered. He remembered well. At first Rose had been furious that Hunter had a talking pet too. But that had soon subsided as Yinmon explained that she and Yanmon were twins, just like Rose and Hunter were. It meant all of them were special. Which only added to Rose’s already planted, seeded and developing superiority complex. A complex which would only manifest and make itself worse over time and as she grew up.

It had been there with Hunter too... always being told they were better than everyone. Hunter had gone along with it, believed it. Treated some people badly, been able to get away with too much. But nothing like on the scale that Rose was. Rose went through phases of not speaking to anyone, even teachers and the Nanny because she felt they were beneath her, and not worth the time it took for her to speak.

Skollmon had always sat by and watched. Wondering how his sister could condone Rose’s behavior towards others. But he never questioned her about it.

He felt bad for her, really. Bad for Hatimon that she had been forced to stand Rose for all these years. That she had been the one to go through everything with Rose, and had been the one to take Rose’s ever changing ideals and stances on things on the chin. No one else had ever been good enough to be Rose’s friend.

Not even Hunter after a while.

Skollmon growled to himself quietly, his ear twitching to the noise of Hunter opening and closing the refrigerator as he still spoke to Piper on the phone. He wondered what the time was, and if the D-Touch would lose reception if he staged a power-cut. He stretched, felt restless, padded around the room in the hopes of finding another comfortable place to sleep.

But his body was twitching, like it felt fused with electricity. He felt a sense of anxiety, and growing worry. Then his ears were up, and listening for every tiny sound, forcing the noise of Hunter and his voice into white noise. He focused, hearing the rain falling outside, hitting all the windows and the landings outside the apartment. Something was different though, the rainfall was mismatched by something coming through it, causing a regular break in the rain. Four paws hitting the ground one at a time, a slow, labored run.

Skollmon dashed to the front door, jumping onto a hall desk where Hunter left his keys, he reached haphazardly for the door handle and hooked his paw around it, yanking the handle down as he fell off the desk. Hatimon had shown him how to do it, but she was much more graceful than he was at the trick. He saw her, his sister about twenty feet away, soaked through and running slowly, like she was using the few reserves of energy she had left.

“Hatimon!” Skollmon gasped as Hatimon rushed past him into the dry and quickly shook her coat, spraying the walls with dampness. “What are you doing here?”

“I didn’t know where else to turn.” Hatimon explained, turning to her brother. Her tone was urgent, worried. It was a tone Skollmon was unfamiliar with, she was usually so in control. “It’s Rose.”

“Well – duh.”

Hatimon growled quickly. “Where’s Hunter? I need to speak to him.”

“He’s here.” Hunter’s voice came from above the two canine Digimon. He stepped over them, closed the front door and squatted before them. “What’s wrong with Rose?” He asked boredly.


Hatimon’s focused her gaze on Hunter, then Skollmon and back again. “She needs help.”

“That much is obvious.” Hunter replied.

“Rose... I don’t know what to do.” She spoke to Skollmon, not to Hunter. “I didn’t know where else to turn.”

“What’s the matter with Rose?” Hunter asked again.

Hatimon shook her head. “She... after what happened... I don’t know. It’s like she’s switched off. She’s not eating, not really sleeping. I’m worried.”

“When has she ever worried about you?” Hunter again. Skollmon shot him a disapproving look.

“I know the things Rose has done are bad and in some cases unforgivable. But she’s my partner, I care about her... I need help.” Hatimon explained shaking off more water from her coat. Hunter noticed then that her legs were shaking. “I wouldn’t ask, not after everything but...”

“It’s okay.” Skollmon explained. “We’ll help, right?” He turned his head to Hunter. He was in turn chewing the inside of his mouth.

“I don’t know...” Hunter breathed, running his hand over his face.

 “Please.” Hatimon’s voice echoed up from her shaking frame. “I’m scared for her.”

Hunter grimaced. Going to check on Rose, as he thought about it, kind of felt like it would be a betrayal. After everything she had done, to his new friends and to Piper, he felt like if he went to check on her, he would be breaking their trust. And Piper would probably never forgive him.

But then there was the dilemma. While he cared about Piper – more than he liked to admit – Rose was still his sister. His blood. He couldn’t just ignore her, and if she was really in such a bad state as Hatimon insisted, and he didn’t do anything and she did... he would have to live with that, knowing he could have stopped her.

He was resolved. He would go and check on her, as her brother. Just to make sure she wasn’t doing anything stupid, and if she was, he could call the right people – get her committed – do his part and leave it at that. His conscience would be clear, and Piper... his friends need never know. Rose would never admit to taking help from him, and he wouldn’t tell them unless under torture.

Besides, how bad could it be? Rose was probably just being melodramatic, like she usually was, and Hatimon didn’t recognize the signs. Hunter grabbed a coat from the clothes hooks on the wall and slipped it on quickly.

“Okay, let’s go.”

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Rose was out of the bathtub when Hunter arrived at her apartment, and let himself in with a spare key that Rose kept hidden under the welcome mat outside the door. The rain had not let up, so Hunter was soaked through when he walked through the door and placed Hatimon on the ground, letting Skollmon out of his D-Touch shortly after.

They found Rose in the living room, in a fluffy bathrobe, staring at the blank television screen. She had turned the moment Hatimon had entered, and then seen Hunter. At first her face had been confused, but that had quickly faded in the blind rage.

“What are you doing here?!” She yelled, picked up a small vase of dead flowers from the coffee table and threw them across the room at Hunter. He ducked, barely missing the vase as it flew above his head and shattered against the wall. “GET OUT!”

“Rose!” Hatimon tried to interject, and barely dodged Rose’s hand flying out to smack her.

“WHAT DO YOU WANT?!” She threw a couple of magazines that were next to her on the couch.

Hunter growled and charged his sister, grabbing both her wrists in his hands and holding onto them tightly. Rose flailed and struggled against his grip, in a vain attempt to shove Hunter away. She glared daggers into him. And when his grip didn’t let up, and she stopped struggling, she only stared at Hatimon disdainfully.

“Sit the fuck down.” Hunter ordered, shoving Rose roughly onto her couch. “And calm down while you’re at it.” He turned to Hatimon. “You were worried about her? She seems perfectly fine and psychotic to me.” All feelings of worry he had felt about Rose earlier were quickly wilting away, and being replaced by abject anger at Rose and at Hatimon. “Forget this, I’m leaving.”

“No, don’t!” Hatimon yelped.

“Please, do!” Rose hissed. “Leave. Like you did before. Like all the men in the family have done.”

Hunter stopped. He had been about to leave. Her initial outburst had been so furious that it was like she had been playing with Hatimon to get his attention. But that comment – one comment – it was enough. And he knew what she referred to. It was more than a hissed, cruel comment, bringing up memories that were painful for him too. She was crying out for help in her own, unique way. He had to stay. He had said he would try to help. And even though Rose wasn’t asking for it, and would never, ever ask for it, she needed it.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Hunter asked, keeping his tone level. He dripped from his hoodie onto the ground, creating a puddle where he stood. Rose stared at the darkening carpet angrily.

“You know what it means. You’re one of the worst for leaving me... Even Logan abandoning us was forgivable in comparison to you.” Rose replied, her voice sharp and accusing. “You abandoned me for a girl. A girl of minor intelligence, who you just happened to like because you knew it would get under my skin.”

Hunter smirked. “You...” He sighed, crossed the floor and sat down. “You would bring him up.”

-----------------------------

They were shouting at each other again. Bella and Logan, Hunter and Rose’s older brother. The twins sat at the bottom of the stairs, Hatimon and Skollmon with them, listening to the elevated voices through the door to the kitchen.

That’s where all their arguments happened. Logan didn’t like openly arguing with their mother in front of his younger siblings, so would always take it to the kitchen in the hopes the twins would not hear. Rose had noticed the pattern first and had been the one to start following them when they both left the room out of curiosity more than anything. Hunter had followed her, and that was how they had discovered where Logan and Bella went, and what happened when they were in the kitchen.

And then every time after that when they left to fight, Rose and Hunter got up to go down the servant’s stair case and sit at the bottom, listening. Always hoping that the fighting would come to an end and be a peaceful resolution.

This was no different.

“You see us once a year, and even then we hardly see you because you’re too busy working! And on birthdays we get a crappy card with a check. You cannot call yourself a mother!” Logan shouted, the arguments were often about the same things. Logan being unhappy with Bella in some way, or the other way around.

Logan was older than the twins by four years, and had been the reason Bella and their father Russell had married in the first place. A marriage of convenience. Russell would have been cut off from his family’s money had he had a child out of wedlock – so Hunter and Rose had been told by Logan – so that was the reason their parents had married.

“I gave birth to you. Like it or not, I am your blood, and you owe me your life.”

Logan snorted derivatively. “Giving birth to someone... doesn’t mean jack, and you know it. We don’t owe you anything. I certainly don’t. Hunter and Rose might look up to you, and think you’re some magical mother, but I know the truth. I know what a callous witch you are.”

“Watch your tongue.”

“I have watched my tongue! I’ve watched my tongue for eighteen years!” Logan yelled. It sounded like something hit the table, or a counter top. “But not any longer.”

A pause. “Meaning?” Bella asked.

“I’m leaving. I don’t want anything to do with you, or this fucked up family, anymore.” Logan explained, his voice no longer raised. It sounded smug.

Beside him, Hunter heard Rose gasp and her grip on Hatimon tightened visibly.

“You... you wouldn’t. You can’t.” Bella spoke. “I forbid you.”

“I’m eighteen now, Bella.” Logan added stress to her name. Curious, Hunter had never heard Logan call Bella by her first name. It sounded foreign coming from his voice. “I can do anything I like. And my first act, is to leave. Leave you. Leave this family.”

“Leave your brother and sister?” Bella asked. Hunter could imagine her with her arms folded and her eyes narrowed. Her tone was superior.

“I don’t want to leave them.” Logan admitted. Rose relaxed a little. “Because they don’t deserve to be treated the way you treat them. Led on with false promises of love and affection that you can never, ever deliver on. But leaving them is a small price to pay to get the hell away from you.”

Bella yelled. “I’ll cut you off! Nothing, you’ll have no money. No allowance! How will you live?”


“I don’t want your stinking money!” Logan shouted, “and I’ll do the normal thing and get a job. So I can do an honest day’s work, and sleep soundly.”

“Logan-“

“I’m out of here.”

A few seconds passed, until the large kitchen door opened and Logan walked out – tall, with dark grey hair, cut short and heavy set teal eyes - slamming it behind him. He stopped, seeing his two younger siblings sitting on the stairs. Rose, with tears in her eyes, got to her feet and launched herself at her older brother.

“You can’t leave!”

“Rose-“

“You can’t! You can’t!” Rose cried. “After father! You promised! You swore you wouldn’t leave!”

“Rose!”

“Logan! You can’t break that promise!”

Logan grabbed her by the shoulders, holding her tightly and in place. “Rose, I know what I promised.” He spoke levelly, staring into Rose’s eyes fervently, glancing once or twice at Hunter who remained in his spot on the stairs. “But I can’t stay here. Not with her.”

“Take me with you...” Rose begged, choking on a sob.

Logan’s face softened. “I wish I could.” His expression faltered, Logan had always been more caring and understanding than either Rose or Hunter ever were. But similarly, he was also steadfast. When he made a decision he had always stuck to it, and this was going to be no different – no matter how much Rose begged or pleaded. “Someday, I’ll come and get you... okay?”

Rose quivered, more tears falling from her eyes onto the floor. Logan sighed, releasing her and taking the stairs two at a time. Stopping on the step where Hunter sat, he placed his hand on the fourteen-year-old’s head. “Look after her, okay Squirt?”

Logan had left that night.

-----------------------------

Rose sat on the opposite end of the sofa, Hunter now had a towel around his neck, absorbing the water from his hair. She was hugging a cushion.

“We should have left. Like Logan did.” Rose commented, calmer now. Hatimon sat on the floor beside her. While Skollmon perched on the arm of the couch with his forelegs.

Hunter snorted and grinned wryly. “Logan was smart.”

“And stronger than both of us to stand up to mother like that.” Rose admitted. “I couldn’t forgive him for leaving.”

“It was hard for the both of us.”

“I didn’t want to see the truth. Everything he said about mother that day, and all the times before. I always thought he was saying them out of anger... to me she was perfect. It took me so long to realize just how right he was.” Rose paused. “We weren’t children to her. When we didn’t have Digimon we were a nuisance. And when we did, we were pawns. Weapons.”

We were weapons.” Hatimon corrected.

Rose continued. “But he left us. After father died, he swore he wouldn’t. And then when Logan left, you promised you wouldn’t abandon me.”

“Things change.” Hunter shrugged.

“You broke a promise.” Rose retorted.

Hunter rolled his eyes, rubbing his hands through his wet hair. “You’re not a child, Rose. I’ve broken dozens of promises, why is that one any different?”

“Those other promises – you didn’t mean them. You made promises to me, to mother, to everyone, all the time and never meant them. Just made them to keep people happy. But that one thing you swore to, you meant it when you said it.” Rose explained. Hunter to could tell she was trying to keep her voice level and calm. To prevent any emotion coming through. “And then... you broke it.”

“I didn’t abandon you.” Hunter argued.

“What would you have called it?”

Getting aggravated, Hunter rose from the couch, and began to pace back and forth between it and the doorframe, before he stopped by the doorframe and leaned. “Natural. You and I haven’t been close since we were at boarding school – and even then we were only kind of close because we had to be. We were fourteen when Logan left, at that point we didn’t share any classes, and I was in a completely different social group to you.”

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Mr. Rygel led the way through the vast corridors and large staircases. Hunter, aged seven with his sister Rose, followed him, and behind them making sure neither of them made a break for it, was their current nanny, Saskia.

“As you can see, we have a long, proud history here at St. Thomas’ and I’m sure Rose and Hunter will make fine additions to the student body here. I’m only sorry Mrs. Divine couldn’t be here to see them off.” Mr. Rygel was speaking as they took another flight up stairs up.

Saskia responded accordingly. “She sends her apologies. Work is rather hectic at the moment.”

Rose had a vice-like grip on Hunter’s hand as they ascended. Hunter could understand why. Everything was so much bigger and taller here. Nothing was familiar and it was just... different.

“You’re not going to leave us here, right?” Hunter asked, turning his head to look at Saskia. She hushed him, and told him to keep looking forward.

“And these are the boys’ dormitories. The girls are down the hall and we have already put all of Rose’s belongings in her room. She’ll be sharing with three other new girls, so I’m sure they’ll both settle in just fine.” Mr. Rygel explained.

Saskia nodded. “I see.”

“I’ll leave you to help them get settled in.” He explained, and quickly left the three alone in the large circular room. There were four beds, one to each wall, and a wash basin hidden around the corner.

“Come on Rose, I’ll take you to your room. Hunter, you’ll be okay for a few minutes, right?”

“Yeah.” Hunter nodded. He felt... intimidated. Scared by the new surroundings. Everything looked new, and smelled clean. Nothing smelled familiar or like home.

“Come on now, Rose.”

“No!” Rose screamed. Saskia had her by one hand, but Rose had her feet at awkward angles and refused to budge. Saskia had a strict ‘no force’ rule, so she couldn’t pull or tug too hard on Rose’s arm.

“Come on!”

“NO! I don’t want to! You can’t make me!!” Rose screamed again, starting to claw at Saskia’s hand with her own free hand, digging her fingernails in to Saskia’s skin. “LET GO OF ME!”

“Rose, please!” Saskia tried. “Calm down.”

“I won’t! I won’t!! I don’t want to leave Hunter! I want Mother!”

“OW, ROSE!” Rose crumbled to the floor as Saskia cradled her hand. Yinmon had escaped from Rose’s bag, and bitten Saskia’s hand, drawing blood. “Why you-“

“Leave Yinmon alone!” Rose yelled, grabbing Yinmon up into her arms and retreating back, hiding behind Hunter.

“You-“ Saskia stopped, the trill tone of her cell phone was going off, forcing her to stop and answer. She left the room, as she held the phone to her ear.

Hunter rounded on his sister, who petted Yinmon gently. “You’re being really stupid.”

“I don’t want to be here.” Rose argued. “I wanna go home.”

“This is home.” Hunter retorted. “Get used to it.”

“No. Home is with Mother, this is not home.” Rose said, tears welling up in her eyes again.


Hunter growled quietly. “She sent us here. We’re not going back until she wants us back.” He explained. “And she won’t be happy if they send reports home of you screaming the roof down.”

“But-“

“No buts, Rose.” Hunter chided. “Stop being such a baby. You have to grow up.”

“I want to stay with you.” Rose murmured in a small voice. “Why can’t I do that?”

Hunter huffed. “They’d never let a girl sleep in the boys’ dorm. But I’m still going to be at the schoolyou know. I’m not leaving you.”

“Ever?” Rose looked up hopefully.

Hunter rubbed his hand through his short hair. “Never.”

-----------------------------

Rose hit the ground with a thud, her books sprawled across the tarmac where her bag had been ripped from her shoulder. She gingerly felt a graze on her cheek with her fingertips and brushed the stones from the tarmac off her hands gently.

She started to get to her feet, but felt something pushing her down. Someone’s shoe on her back.

“Where do you think you’re going, stuck up bitch?” Georgina was a girl in most of Rose’s classes and someone she had been sharing a dorm with since Rose had arrived. They were both thirteen now, and had had a certain animosity towards each other since the moment they had met.

This was not the first time Georgina had cornered Rose and called her names.

But it was the first time she had done so with other people. Three other girls, Brittany, Sarah and Michelle, all from the same classes that Rose and Georgina shared together.

“What do you want, Georgina?” Rose asked, she didn’t try to resist these beatings and put downs, it was easier to take them and just get on with things. She had been to the principal before, and several other teachers, but their warnings did nothing – actually they had made things worse. So Rose had stopped telling people when she was bullied.

“I’m just passing the time, bitch.” Georgina replied. Rose felt a yank on her ponytail and her head was pulled back roughly by one of the other girls, so that she was forced to look Georgina in the face. “Where were you off to?”

“The library.” Rose explained. “Please let’s get this over with so I can be on my way.” She said with a bored tone.

Georgina’s hand impacted quickly with Rose’s cheek, sending her head to one side. “I’m sick of your fucking attitude. You should learn to respect your betters.” She was in Rose’s face, sneering.

“Show me my betters, and I shall.” Rose replied calmly. Another smack, and another kick in the back from whoever was holding her hair back.

“You think you’re so smart with your wise ass mouth, don’t you whore?” Georgina hissed. “We’ll show you.” Sarah approached, handing Georgina black marker pen. Whoever held Rose’s hair, now grabbed her chin firmly with their other hand, preventing her from moving her head as Georgina began to write across Rose’s face. The other girls were giggling.

“Maybe we should just cut all this pretty hair, hm?” It was Michelle holding Rose’s hair and head back, she recognized her voice. Georgina shot her a dark look.

“Maybe some other time.”

“Ooo, now this is interesting!” Brittany cooed. “I bet Mr. Rygel would be interested to know that Rose has a cell phone even though they’re banned at school.” Rose glanced across at her, she and Sarah had been rifling through her bag, throwing her things onto the floor. They had her Digivice, the item that housed Hatimon.

“Don’t touch that- ah!” Rose yelped as Michelle yanked her head back.

Georgina sneered. “I didn’t say you could talk, bitch.” She stated, throwing her marker pen to one side. She stood up straight, stretched and then crushed the heel of her shoe into the back of Rose’s hand splayed on the ground. Rose inhaled sharply, forcing herself to not cry out against the sharp pain. “Now, lick my shoe.”

“What?” Rose asked, wondering if she’d heard the other girl correctly.

“Are you deaf as well as stupid?” Georgina barked, smacking Rose’s head. “I told you to lick my shoe.” Rose felt humiliated, a sense of shame drifting over her as Sarah and Brittany approached from where they had been standing to watch. She wouldn’t cry though. She wouldn’t give them the satisfaction. She just had to get through this moment and then they would let her go.

She breathed in deeply.

“Hey, George.” Rose felt the grip on her hair slacken. Attention taken from her and put onto her brother, who was walking towards the small group. “What’re you doing to my sister?”

“Putting the stuck-up cow in her place.” Georgina replied unabashedly. “You should be thanking me.”

Hunter pursed his lips. “Huh. Should I?” He shoved Georgina out of the way and squatted, attaining eye contact with his sister. Her lower lip trembled, and she was close to tears, but still Rose met his gaze. To anyone else his expression was unreadable, but Rose knew him better. Hunter was furious.

He stood up straight and dusted off his uniform.

“I wondered why she wasn’t where she said she’d meet me. Our mother’s coming to visit you see – doesn’t like to be kept waiting.”

“Maybe your mom should take the skank home. No one wants her here.” Brittany commented.

Hunter swept his hair back. “Correction: you don’t want her here.” Quickly and suddenly, the grip of Rose’s hair was gone, and Georgina was making a choking sound. Rose looked up, Hunter has his hand around her throat, an unnerving calm on his face as he dug his fingers into the other girl’s neck. Rose was up on her feet, she ran and grabbed the back of Sarah’s shirt as the other girl made to run, shoving her back towards Brittany and Michelle.

“I don’t hit girls, but this doesn’t count as I’m technically not hitting you.” Hunter explained slowly, his voice even. “If any of you come near my sister again, I swear to you, it will be the last thing you ever do. No one touches my sister, no one. Especially not stupid fucking bitches, who bully others because of their own insecurities, like you.”

He shoved Georgina, leaving her grasping her throat and gasping for air. She gathered herself up, spitting on the ground at Hunter’s feet before she and the other three girls disappeared.

Hunter waited a second, before he turned towards Rose who was on the ground, gathering up her books and the things the girls had thrown out of her bag. Hatimon manifested from the discarded Digivice a few feet away.

“Rose, are you okay?” Hatimon asked, coming up to Rose’s side, concern covering her face. Rose didn’t answer, she sniffed and sat back on her haunches examining her face in her now broken compact mirror. Georgina had written words across her face in large letters. Hunter came to squat beside Rose as she laughed softly to herself.

“She can’t even spell ‘whore’ correctly.” Rose murmured, pointing to her right cheek.

With a sigh, Hunter helped Rose gather up the last of the her things and get to her feet. “Come on, I’ll help you clean all that stuff off.”

-----------------------------

Hunter grumbled as Rose opened another textbook in front of him. Fourteen years old, and end of year exams were coming up. He still needed help studying, and Rose, genius that she was, was always on hand to force him to his books.

“But I don’t-“

“You asked for my help, you’re getting it.” Rose snapped. “Or do you want to be held back a year?”

Hunter struggled in his seat. “No.”

“Fine. Now stop complaining and get to the studying.” Rose told him. “I can’t do it for you.”

“You could take the exam for me.” Hunter suggested, leaned his head on his arm and flicking the pages of the history book in front of me.

Rose cast him an amused, if exasperated look. “I know we’re twins, but I can’t grow an extra foot in one night. Besides, I’m too pretty to be you.”

“Pfft.” Hunter snickered. “Does sound like some stupid storyline for a teen-twin drama series, doesn’t it?”

Rose laughed. “Yeah... wait!” She rounded on Hunter, who grinned inanely at her. “Stop distracting me. Hit the books!”

“Okay, okay...” Hunter sighed. Rose lay out several cue cards in front of him, and then a selection of different colored pens. He looked at her with an expectancy.

“The cue cards are for you to make notes on. Statistics show that you absorb more information by copying it out in your own words, than reading alone. And the different colors stand for different periods of time.” Rose explained.

“Meaning...?”

Heaving a big sigh, Rose showed Hunter her own cue cards, all neatly organized and numbered by subject. Color coded. “The blue is for historical sources. The yellow for authors and writers to refer to. Red is for quotes, and so on.”

“Oh.” Hunter muttered. “I guess that makes sense.”

“It works for me, and I’ve never failed an exam.” Rose said smugly.

Hunter made a face. “Nerd.”

-----------------------------

 “We were fine at boarding school. It was fine, just you, me and our Digimon. Then you decided to ditch me to be with friends when we returned after the summer Logan left.” Rose said, narrowing her eyes, her voice taking on a harsher sound. “I hated you then, you ignored me, and left me all alone when I needed you the most. And this whole new episode, makes me hate you even more.”

“Ah, but you don’t.” Hunter retorted, leaning back on the couch. “It’s not just Bella’s approval you’ve always strived for, its mine too.”

“Don’t flatter yourself.”

“Don’t lie to yourself.” Hunter replied curtly. “You used to follow me around like a puppy when we were little, when Logan was away at school and we were too small to go. You would get in trouble with me, just to get our mother’s attention. But she would always come down harder on me, than on you. Probably because she knew I was the instigator and you were just doing what you were told.”

“When have I ever done anything you’ve told me to do?” Rose sniped.

“Plenty of times.” Hunter smirked. “Remember when we put woodlice in Lisa’s bed? And replaced Greta’s shampoo for syrup – that was your idea. And inspired.”

Rose managed a small laugh, which caused the room to fall into a silence. Not an awkward silence, but a silence.

They hadn’t talked like this, so candid and honestly, for years.

Logan had never been the main attention of Bella, and when she discovered Yinmon and Yanmon, it became even more apparent that Logan was always a second thought. Second best. Rose and Hunter became important, but not because they were Bella’s children, but because they possessed their Digimon. That was what made it so much easier for Logan to leave. Bella filled in a mother role, not as a mother. She treated Rose and Hunter more like employees than children, but she filled a mothering role when they were young.

And it wasn’t until they were older than they realized just how much Bella used them.

Rose cleared her throat. “The fact remains though, that you left me for a girl.”

“I’ve ditched you for women before.” Hunter commented, flicking his hair. “What makes Piper so different? What made you lose it to the point that you kidnapped her, and threatened to kill her?”

A small smile tugged at the corners of Rose’s mouth. “She was different to you. I could see it from the moment you two met that first time. You liked her, that was obvious – but she stood up to you and got your attention. And then it was all the little comments you made when any of them were injured. You were checking to see if it was her.”

“What’s your point?”

“You cared more about her than me within minutes of meeting her. And that ate me up inside. It had been you and I for so long, with the occasional interloper. The idea of you taking a woman seriously, having feelings for them... being in love with them had never crossed my mind.” Rose admitted.

“I’m not in love with-“

“Don’t lie to me.” Rose interjected. Hunter glared at her, a tilted eyebrow on Rose’s face.

He groaned. “We’re not talking about me here.”

“That wasn’t all that made me angry.” Rose added. “I was angry at you for being braver than I was. For doing what Logan did, and walking away from it all. From mother, from the mess she put us in. I wanted to... so badly. But she’s all I’ve ever known.”

“It’s good to be away from her. I’ve never felt so relaxed.” Hunter explained. “Not to have her breathing down my neck. Not having to worry if something I say or wear is going to lead me to getting smacked across the face.”

“She’s our mother.”

“She’s a terrible person.”

“I wanted her to want me.” Rose said suddenly. “To want me, and need me. Only me. I wanted to prove that I was everything she ever needed. And after you left, I wanted to do it all the more so you could see that I was better than you.”


“I sense a ‘but’.” Hunter murmured.

Rose leaned forward, hunching over her knees and the cushion she still held to her chest. “But then I failed. Failed so many times, and now she doesn’t want me. She’ll never want me. No one ever will.”

“Rose...”

“All I am, is a failure. Everyone I care about leaves me. And the people I want approval from, or to do well for, never want me.”

“Rose...” Hunter sighed.

“What about me?” Hatimon asked, lifting her head from where she had been silent. Rose surveyed her. “Don’t I matter?”

“Of course.” Rose murmured.

Hatimon hopped up onto her hind legs, resting her forepaws on Rose’s leg. “I’ve always been on your side Rose, since you were a little girl. Always wanted to you to do well, but never minded if you didn’t succeed. You’ve always been wanted by me. And I’ll never leave you. You’re not a failure. Not to me.”

-----------------------------

“Fight harder!” Bella ordered, standing atop a metal framework , surveying the battle raging below between the two werewolf Digimon. Rose and Hunter were with her, watching the fighting between the Digimon.

It was training. Something Bella had drummed into them religiously once she recognized the power their Digimon contained. She never disclosed why she wanted Skollmon and Hatimon to fight, and get strong, only that she wanted them to. That they had potential to fulfill and had yet to fulfill it.

“Mother, they’re fighting as hard as they can.” Rose explained.

Bella sneered. “No they’re not. They’re holding back.”

“They’re siblings. They don’t wanna fight.” Hunter argued. “Making them fight each other is unfair.”

“I didn’t ask for your opinions!” Bella snapped.

Below, Remamon bounced off the side of the warehouse building, sending herself shooting into Romulumon who was opposite in a defensive stance. She lashed at him with her claws. “Tundra Claws!”
Romulumon roared, thrashing at her attack, and leaping towards the more sinewy of the pair of Digimon. “Searing Claws!” Remamon countered, landing softly on the ground and spin kicking Romulumon away as he neared her. She pounced, attacked him, jaws open and paws manifesting with icy power.

“This is pathetic.” Bella totted, folding her arms across her chest. “Your Digimon are weak, just like the two of you.”

“Mother.”

“Enough.” She sighed. Lifting one arm, she signaled to someone else in the warehouse. There was a heavy rumbling sound as something, a cage, was driven forward on a forklift truck. Inside was another Digimon, a dinosaur looking one, with orange skin and blue stripes. A brown helmet was covering its head. “Let’s see how they do with a real enemy, like Greymon, shall we?”

On her words, the cage opened, and the tyrannosaur Digimon rushed forward, head lowered and heading straight for Romulumon. Remamon leapt out of the way, as Romulumon took it head on, grappling with the prongs on Greymon’s helmet, digging his feet into the ground to hold off the larger Digimon.

Remamon catapulted towards it, her claws ignited. “Tundra Claws.” She was almost on him, but gasped as she was knocked sideways by a well-aimed thrash of Greymon’s tail.

Greymon rounded on her, summoning a massive ball of flame in his mouth. “Nova Blast!”

Remamon jumped out of the way just in time. Romulumon launched himself onto Greymon’s head, pressing his claws down into the helmet. “Searing Claws!” He bellowed.

“Flash Freeze!” Remamon echoed, below as she crouched and ice spread from her paws, covering the ground and freezing the base of Greymon’s feet, keeping him in one place, despite his flailing. Small arms unable to reach Romulumon on his head, Greymon shook his head from side-to-side rashly, thrashing his arms and tail in any attempt to dislodge the other Digimon.

His tail hit the ground, smacking the ice, causing a small crack. Romulumon dropped down from Greymon’s head, landing easily next to his sister. His paws ignited in flames.

“Searing Claws!” Romulumon thundered across the icy ground, his arms poised to attack, to embed themselves into Greymon’s body and burn him from the inside out. Another crack in the ice as Greymon’s tail hit against it. The ice around his feet dislodged. Greymon turned swiftly and fired a flaming ball at the two wolf Digimon.

“Nova Blast!” Both were knocked back, thrown into the side of the building by the blast.

“Romulumon!” Hunter yelled.

“Remamon!” Rose was nearly leaning over the barrier. Their cries attracted Greymon’s attention, and took it off the two Digimon for the moment. Greymon growled, his eyes narrowing as flames filled up his mouth.

“Get up!” Rose shouted.

“Look out--!” Remamon shouted, finding her feet. The massive dinosaur Digimon expelled the ball of flame from his mouth. Rose turned, seeing the flames coming towards her in slow motion. She felt the heat, saw the searing ball. But felt nothing.

She had closed her eyes and found herself on the ground with Hunter and Bella, Remamon and Romulumon standing protectively before them. Something felt different though. Something didn’t feel the same. Rose felt a power coursing through her veins, filling her up, and knew Remamon felt it too. As well as Hunter. Her Digivice shook in her hand, and Remamon was covered in a black veil, while Romulumon was engulfed in a white one.

Their voices echoed from the lights.

“Remamon, proxy evolve to...” Her sinewy two-legged form went back to four legs and grew in massive proportions, with imposing icicles sticking out from her neck and shoulders. More fur sprouted from her neck and mane, making her more fluffy, and a sword formed in her mouth. “Tsukuyomon!”

“Romulumon, proxy evolve to...” As with Remamon, Romulumon went back onto four legs and grew in size, some of his fur becoming nothing but billowing flames from his tail and neck. An orange oval gem formed on his forehead. “Terasumon!”

The two new forms of the Digimon towered over Greymon, snarling, their claws digging firmly into the ground.

“You will regret that.” Tsukuyomon growled.

Bella stood steadfast on the ground, not a hair out of place from her near incineration. She had a smug look on her face as she glanced between the two Digimon. “Perfect.”

-----------------------------

Rose turned her eyes to Hatimon, who stared back, her eyes open and her ears back against her head. She looked so sad and scared. Staring at Rose like she was a complete stranger. Tentatively, Rose reached out her hand and slipped it over Hatimon’s head, between her ears, stroking her fur gently with fingers that shook.

Hatimon’s tail began to wag slowly.

“Hatimon...” Rose murmured, she inhaled deeply, tears stinging her eyes as they fell. “Hatimon... I forgot. I forgot I had you.” Rose launched herself forward onto the floor, grabbing Hatimon up into her arms. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay.” Hatimon replied softly.

“You’ve been there the whole time. I’ve been so focused on trying to please Bella... I forgot about you. Forgot utterly.” Rose explained. She released Hatimon after a few moment and rubbed her eyes on the sleeve of her dressing gown. “Well, no longer.”

Hunter quirked an eyebrow. “No?”

“I’ve been pushed around my entire life. By her.” Rose said, getting to her feet. “She’s made everything I’ve loved leave, or hate me. I don’t want to be under her control anymore. I don’t want to be her pawn any longer.”

“Then don’t be.” Hunter said simply.

Rose smiled, but it quickly faded as if a thought popped into her head. Rose’s voice grew darker with more worry and disdain.

“You know… something just never has been right about… being around mother…”

“Heh, no shit.” Hunter scuffed.

Rose shook her head. “No I mean… recently. Like… I don’t know how to explain it.”

Hunter shrugged. “Whatever it was, I just hope you’re over it now”

Rose simply shrugged, looking back at Hatimon. “I guess.”

-----------------------------

When Hunter returned home, he found he had left the television on and it had turned to a home shopping channel that he swiftly turned off. He glanced at the clock which showed it was two in the morning.

He’d had a tough night, he had not intended to stay as long with Rose, but was glad to see she was up and about, acting more human that he had seen in some time. He knew he should go to bed. That he would have to meet with the others later that day and explain what had passed between himself and Rose, but he didn’t want to think about it right now.

His plan had first been to not tell them. They never needed to know that he had visited her. After all the visit had been because he was her brother, and Hatimon was worried about her. But now he thought about it, he didn’t see the point in keeping it from them. It would come up or come out some other way anyway. Either he would trip himself up, or Skollmon would say something unintentionally.

Better to come clean now, than to lie and be forced to come clean much later down the line. And it wasn’t as if it was a crime. Rose wasn’t a threat anymore. At least Hunter didn’t think she was a threat.

Groaning, Hunter looked at the clock again, and then at Skollmon who was sitting on the couch yawning, about ready to sleep.

“I should sleep too.” Hunter muttered. He decided he would, once his mind stopped racing, but getting it to do that was an entirely different matter. Taking his D-Touch out of his pocket, he pressed speed dial and held it to his ear.

“Hello?” Piper’s voice was surprisingly wide awake.

“Hey.” Hunter responded, “Uhm... did I wake you?”

“No.” She responded. “It’s two in the morning. Are you okay?”

Hunter nodded to himself. “Yeah. Yeah.” He sighed. “No... I don’t know.” He rubbed his face. “I just wanted to hear your voice.”

A pause. “What’s the matter?”

“Nothing, kitten.”

“Hunter...” She had that warning tone to her voice that Hunter hated.

“I’ll tell you later.”

“Hmm...”

“If you come over. How about a date, I’ll get some pizza, we’ll watch a movie. And maybe fall helplessly in love. How does that sound?”

A longer pause this time, he could just imagine Piper’s face. All stunned, big blue eyes staring at him questioningly. “Sounds good.”

“Great.”

He hung up not long after, and placed his hand on Skollmon’s head, leaning back in the cushions. In minutes he was sleeping.


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